White Chocolate and Baileys Fudge

So clearly I have white chocolate on the mind, and I couldn’t wait another week to add this treasure. I actually decided to make this as a Christmas present a few years ago. As I had a few people on the list, I quadrupled the ingredients. Clearly this was back in the day when I didn’t use a baking brain. Fudge can be tricky as it needs precision with ingredients, quantity, timing and temperature. Luckily, with this combination, even if it doesn’t work out – you can still use it as a fudge sauce for ice-cream. It’s so good and no one needs to be the wiser that ice-cream sauce wasn’t the intention. But, if you get this recipe right, you will never want ice-cream sauce again.

This fudge has been given so many compliments, even people who claim not to like fudge, or white chocolate, or Baileys for that matter. Who doesn’t like any of those three things? Beyond me, and maybe I’m hanging out with the wrong people…but hey, at least they liked this stuff. Be warned – it is addictive. You will want more…so be selective of who really needs a present when you make this. Because I bet you will end up wanting to be the only one on your list. Although if you do share it, you will bask in the glow of people’s love as they will go crazy for this fudge!

White Chocolate and Baileys Fudge

(1)

Ingredients:

  • 500g whipping cream (can use double cream)
  • 450g golden granulated sugar (can use white sugar)
  • 100g white chocolate
  • 100 ml Baileys

Method:

  1. Line a 22xm x 22cm tin, leaving an overhang (or you can use ice-cube trays as a different trick).
  2. Bring the sugar, cream and Baileys to a simmer in a large pan (use a heavy-based saucepan so it doesn’t burn on the bottom and a large one as the mixture will bubble up a lot), stirring slowly.
  3. Ensure the sugar is dissolved (it will stop feeling grainy on the base of the pan).
  4. Turn the heat up to a rolling boil. If the heat is turned up too high, it may crystallize, so keep it at medium-high and keep stirring to avoid it burning.
  5. Adjust the heat until the mixture bubbles without getting too near the top of the pan.
  6. Keep bubbling, boiling slowly for around 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. It should start to change to a thicker consistency.
  8. Test a small amount of mixture by dropping it into a glass of cold water. It needs to form a soft ball that you can pick up on the end of a teaspoon.
  9. At this stage, the bubbles will have gone from being large and unruly to smaller and more even.
  10. Take off the heat ans stir vigorously for a few minutes before letting it cool for a few minutes then stir in the chopped up chocolate until well combined and melted.
  11. Pour the mixture into the tin (it will start to set once chocolate is mixed in so do this quickly).
  12. Leave to set for a couple of hours (don’t put it in the fridge to set as it will absorb the moisture).
  13. The fudge will set more quickly in the winter as the weather is cooler, so there is no exact timing with how long it will take to harden up. Try not to be too impatient though, it does take a little while.
  14. If it’s a little lumpy on the top, use a pallet knife and hot water to even it out while it’s still cooling. Or melt white chocolate and drizzle over or swirl in for a marbled effect.
  15. Although unlikely you will need to store it as it will be eaten quickly (!), you can store it in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks at room temperature, or up to a month in the fridge.

(I haven’t tried this yet, but might swap out for dark chocolate and Cointreau…)

22644_222595399913_303065_n

White Chocolate and Raspberry Muffins

As you grow up, you realise your palate changes. Tastes that used to repulse you actually aren’t that bad anymore. Or flavours that were just “ok” become some of your favourite. This has been the case for me and olives, red wine…and white and dark chocolate. Dark chocolate I find the easiest to bake with as the slightly edgier, bitter tastes often balance out the sweetness in a recipe. White chocolate is a lot harder to manage as it can burn so easily and get ruined. But if you get it right, or the right recipe, white chocolate is a dream.

Funnily enough, I’ve had the same reaction to fruit – strawberries were always my go to. Not that I don’t like them anymore but raspberries and blueberries have upped their game for me over the years. So mixing white chocolate and raspberries – a brilliant, more grown up approach. And I wasn’t sorry.

Muffins are amazing little treats – not a cupcake, so more healthy. Well, that’s what I tell myself. But they are easy to make and light and yummy. So these guys are a great combination…enjoy!

(14)

White Chocolate and Raspberry Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 200ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 200g raspberries, fresh
  • 200g white chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Line a muffin tin with 12 muffin paper cases and preheat oven to 200C.
  2. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl and add the sugar.
  3. Whisk together the eggs and milk.
  4. Add the egg mix and melted butter into the bowl with flour.
  5. Don’t over mix, but stir so relatively combined.
  6. Stir in 3/4 raspberries and all the white chocolate chips.
  7. Fill the muffin cases 3/4 of the way.
  8. Cut the remaining raspberries in half (so they form a heart-shape sometimes) and dot onto the top of the muffins.
  9. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until golden. 
  10. Let them cool on a wire rack.

The Best, Big, Chewy Chocolate-Chip Cookies (and meringues)

I have never been crazy about biscuits or cookies. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I don’t like them. But some people, and I have realised especially in England, are cookie-mad. They always have to have biscuits and often with a cup of tea or coffee. But for me, store bought biscuits are exactly that – store-bought. They just feel so processed and don’t excite me much. So I can’t tell you what first made me decide to bake cookies…I remember looking at various recipes and then deciding to halve this ingredient, add a new one, change the quantity of this…and voila, The Best, Big, Chewy, Chocolate-Chip Cookies were born!

 466747_10150773431189914_1599526706_o 259519_10150226816924914_7656241_o (1)  266351_10150226826194914_389983_o 290389_10150342300329914_2087226260_o

The Best, Big, Chewy, Chocolate-Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 170g unsalted melted butter
  • 200g dark brown soft sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 300g chocolate chips (milk, white or dark)
  • 100 – 200g butterscotch
  • 100g Macadamia nuts / Pecan nuts / Hazlenuts
Method:
  1. Line at least 2 baking trays with baking paper/grease-proof paper;
  2. Preheat the oven to 170 C;
  3. Sift together the flour, bicarb and salt; set aside;
  4. Cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and caster sugar until well blended;
  5. Beat in the vanilla, egg and egg yolk until light and creamy;
  6. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended;
  7. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon;
  8. Add the butterscotch (if using white chocolate chips I add macadamia nuts plus 100g buttersotch; and either pecans or hazlenuts with milk or dark; alternatively just add 200g butterscotch – this is the magic ingredient);
  9. Spoon 2 large tablespoons of cookie dough onto the prepared baking trays, don’t roll them or flatten the dough (this gives it the home-made look);
  10. Remember to leave space between the cookies (if making them big, I would say you can probably make 6 cookies per baking tray);
  11. Bake for about 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted (depends on oven);
  12. If making smaller cookies, remember to check if they are ready earlier;
  13. Cool on baking trays for about 10 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely (the butterscotch and chocolate will be sticky and gooey and will create a mess if you transfer them to early).

I usually make double the recipe as people will seriously go nuts for these guys. They make great presents if you pile about 8 of them on top of each other and wrap in cellophane and tie with coloured ribbon. If you have baked with nuts, remember to add a note saying nuts are included in case anyone is allergic!?

If you have made double quantities, you will have two egg whites leftover…so why not make meringues.

479423_10150773432224914_1887764368_o 467146_10150773431809914_837458979_o 206339_10150154890454914_686500_n

Meringues

Ingredients:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 60g icing sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to fan 100 C. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Beat the 2 egg whites on a medium speed in a glass bowl until the mixture stands up in stiff peaks. This always takes longer than you think; but keep at it.
  3. Add a tablespoon of caster sugar at a time and mix on high speed for a few seconds between each addition. Don’t over-beat in this stage but do add the sugar slowly. The mixture should be thick and shiny.
  4. Sift 20g of the icing sugar over the mixture and fold it in with a big spoon. Continue to sift and fold in the rest of the icing sugar and remember not to over-mix. It should look smooth and puffy.
  5. Scoop one tablespoon onto the baking tray; remembering to leave space between them.
  6. Bake for 1.5 hours if in a fan oven otherwise 1 1/4 hours if a normal oven until the meringues sound crisp when tapped underneath. They should be a pale coffee colour.
  7. Turn the oven off and let the meringues cool in the oven (this helps to dry them out further).

There are some other wonderful ideas and recipes for meringues, check these two out (you will either have to add another egg white or amend the ingredients to suit):

PS. In the last photo you can see I added pink food colouring, I then served them with raspberry puree and whipped cream (blitz raspberries in a food processor, pour through sieve to get rid of pips etc then add to whipped cream).

White Chocolate Vanilla Cupcakes

I love the simplicity of cupcakes and how they can also become these intricate and complex little pieces of art if you want and have the time. Decorating is the best part of baking, in my opinion. But no matter how pretty a cake or cupcake looks, if it doesn’t taste good, well, I don’t see the point…So having a simple but delicious recipe for cupcakes is a must! And this is just the ticket…

(5)(6)

White Chocolate Vanilla Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 125 grams softened margarine*
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 2 medium eggs – lightly beaten
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2-3 tablespoons of milk

* Don’t use low fat spreads as they don’t have enough fat content to bake well. Always use margarine for cupcakes as it makes a flatter cupcake (easier to frost and decorate). Also don’t cream sugar and margarine for cupcakes as this also helps to make flatter cupcakes.

Method:

  • Take eggs and margarine out of the fridge beforehand so they are at room temperature.
  • Pre-heat oven to 180C.
  • Place all ingredients (except for the milk) into a bowl and blend on high until smooth.
  • Add a little milk to make a smooth dropping consistency.
  • Either place mixture into a piping bag and place nozzle at the base of the cupcake case and squeeze once so it fills halfway; or use two spoons and again only fill the cupcake case halfway.
  • Place in the oven for 12 minutes.
  • Then turn the cupcake tray around and bake for another 8 – 12 minutes depending on the size of the cupcakes and your oven (turning the cake trays half way through the cooking time helps to even out the effects of hot spots in your oven).
  • Take out the oven and let cool completely before frosting. Even little cupcakes retain their inner heat for a while so wait for at least 4 hours, or overnight would be even better.

Ingredients for white chocolate frosting:

  • 100g white chocolate
  • 140g unsalted butter
  • 140g icing sugar, sifted

Method for white chocolate frosting:

  • Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of gently boiling water, or by placing it in a microwave safe bowl and heating it on High for 1½ minutes giving it a good stir at the halfway point. white chocolate has a lower heating temperature than milk or plain chocolate so it scorches very easily. Leave it to cool.
  • In the meantime, beat together the butter and icing sugar in a large bowl until creamy and light.
  • Fold in the chocolate and mix until smooth.
  • This icing can be kept for up to two weeks if covered and chilled in the fridge, but if you’re chilling it, you need to bring it back to room temperature before icing the cakes.

Decorating ideas:

  • As soon as you take out the cupcakes from the oven, cut an “x” into the top of each cupcake and press a small chocolate truffle/ Rolo / any chocolate into the middle. These will then melt into the cupcake. Leave to cool before decorating.
  • Grate white chocolate into little curls, sprinkle onto cupcakes then sift a light dusting of icing sugar.
  • Crush Oreos, Flakes or Maltesers and sprinkle onto cupcakes.
  • Roughly chop up Rolos and throw onto the cupcakes – gives a nice little caramel flavour.

(2)(3)

I have made this recipe many times and people always go crazy for the frosting. I love to get creative with the decorating so these guys become real winners on both looks and taste.

(7) (8)

You can see the chocolate truffles stuffed in here (these were a combination of vanilla and chocolate cupcakes)…

(158) (160) (163)

Where it all began…Oreo Chocolate Truffles

Image

I’ve always had a love of baking but got distracted with the art of growing up and all the responsibilities, duties, lessons and fun that comes with it. I then had a traumatic experience in January 2011 where I slipped and fell down the stairs at a tube station. Thankfully nothing was broken, but I managed to knock my head badly. I didn’t realise all of this at the time but actually had a mild brain injury which affected my memory, concentration, hearing and resulted in the most awful migraines (basically had a headache every day for at least 8 months!). Since it was mild, it didn’t get picked up properly by doctors. So it has been a long recovery process with some very dark times, especially the first year when I didn’t know what was going on half the time.

But there are some things that have stood out so strongly for me through all this – that no matter what you are going through, how you think and what you look for in difficult times, will shape you and determine your experience. Four key words that helped me through are Patience; Persistence; Positivity and Reflection (damn, would have been better to have four P’s but didn’t quite work). Obviously having a strong support network is also invaluable and I am incredibly lucky to not only have an amazing family but also wonderful friends.

Ok so slightly diverted there, but it sets the scene. So I don’t recall much of those first three months after the accident, which is pretty damn scary as I was still trying to go to work and manage my life as normal! That clearly wasn’t working. I found it hard to watch TV or read or be on the computer and didn’t know why or what was wrong with me.

I’m not sure why I started or where the idea came from but one day I decided to make my own truffles. And not just any truffles, Oreo Chocolate Truffles. Now most people I know are fans of Oreo’s whereas me, not so much. But in this very simple (I needed things to be at this stage), all I had to do was grind the Oreo’s, mix them with cream cheese, roll them into balls and let them set. Then microwave the chocolate, dip the now chilled Oreo cream cheese balls and decorate…

It sounds simple, and it is. But it is also pretty time consuming with the different stages. This was perfect for me though. I could do one stage and rest, then remind myself of the next step and follow that, and so on. I almost felt like a child learning to do simple tasks like tie a shoe lace. Make a knot, then take one lace and make it into a loop…

This was really the best recipe I could have tried. It helped me feel human again. Alive. Useful. Creative. Worthwhile – I could actually do something, finish it and have a good result! And after months of feeling so out of control, this gave me such joy and confidence.

What makes this even better is that these Oreo Truffles are the most delicious chocolate truffles I have ever had. Over the last two years, they have become my special fail-safe recipe with various people telling me they don’t usually like chocolate but these are the best and most more-ish thing they have ever tasted! They were so good in fact that one friend said I should start a business selling these…(more on that another time). One of my best friends Jacky also asked me if I would make these for her wedding as the favours for each guest which I was honoured to do.

These little melt in your mouth balls of heavenly chocolate will forever be my favourite recipe as they started me on the road to My Sugar Tree. It gave me such comfort to be able to bake during this difficult time in my life. I found a creative outlet, and if I couldn’t remember what came next, it didn’t matter, I could just look back at the recipe. Baking really become a light for me through all this. And I even found I was quite good at it.

So, this is where it all began. Here is the full recipe for these special treats:

Oreo Chocolate Truffles

Ingredients:

  • 300g Cream Cheese
  • 150g Oreo cookies (note: you can use any chocolate flavoured biscuit, I have used the different flavoured Oreo’s as well as Crunchie biscuits and then decorated with honeycomb bits on top)
  • 200g Dark chocolate
  • 200g Milk/White Chocolate
  • Various decorating bits (can also drizzle different chocolate over or used some crushed up Oreo’s to sprinkle on top)

Method:

  1. Grind the Oreo biscuits in a food processor.
  2. Mix with the cream cheese until well blended.
  3. Use two small spoons and roll into small balls, placing them on waxed paper on a baking sheet.
  4. Refridgerate or place in freezer for at least half an hour.
  5. Melt the chocolate (one colour at a time).
  6. Dip the ball into the chocolate, place back onto the wax paper and decorate immediately.
  7. Place baking sheet in fridge and allow to set.

Oreo Chocolate TrufflesOreo Chocolate TrufflesOreo Chocolate TrufflesOreo Chocolate TrufflesOreo Chocolate TrufflesOreo Chocolate TrufflesOreo Chocolate TrufflesOreo Chocolate Truffles