Oreo Swirl Marshmallows

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Marshmallows have a reputation for being difficult litte buggers to make.  The squidgy, flumptious nature of them just screams "don't bother, buy a bag instead". I'm here to tell you to ignore that voice, just push it down. Instead, gather together a few ingredients and prepare to be plesently surprised about how easy it actually is.

Give these homemade marshmallows a try, you won't believe how easy it is!

The best thing about making marshmallows is the fact your stand mixer does the majority of the work for you, all you've got to do is boil up some sugar.  This is not a job for little hands, so if you're making these with kids make sure they stand well back while you boss this bit.

Give these homemade marshmallows a try, you won't believe how easy it is!

If you're not feeling the oreo bit, or just can't face washing the food processor, you can just leave this bit out and make plain vanilla marshmallows.  Just as tasty but nowhere near as fun, if you ask me.

Give these homemade marshmallows a try, you won't believe how easy it is!



Oreo Swirl Marshmallows

Ingredients:
  • For the Oreo swirl 
  • 1 pack of Oreo cookies 154g
  • 50g coconut oil

  • For the marshmallows 
  • 3 envelopes of gelatin
  • 100ml cold water
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 250g corn syrup (found in the American section)
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g icing sugar for dusting and coating
Cooking Directions:
  1. For the Oreo swirl put the Oreos and coconut oil into a blender and blend for around 3 minutes until it turns into a wet paste. Set aside.
  2. For the marshmallows grease a 9x13" tin with cake release or a generous amount of oil. If using oil line the tin with cling film, leaving an overhang around the edges.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer pour in the water and add the gelatin, let stand for 10 minutes until thick. In a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan combine 50ml cold water with the sugar and corn syrup. Bring to a rolling boil and continue to boil on a high heat for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
  4. Turn the mixer to high and while it's whipping carefully pour the hot sugar mixture into the bowl in a slow, steady stream. Continue mixing on a high speed for 13 minutes until thick and sticky. Add in the vanilla extract, mix to combine. With a rubber spatular marble the Oreo paste through the marshmallow and transfer into the prepared pan. Smooth the top down as best you can and allow to set overnight.
  5. When set remove the marshmallow from the pan, spray a sharp knife with oil and cut into small squares. Toss the cut marshmallows in the icing sugar and enjoy. Marshmallows will last a few weeks in an airtight container.
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Blueberry and Ginger Breakfast Parfait

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Well here we are, 2017 and the healthy eating adverts are slapping us right in our chubby Christmas faces.  I'm no fan of faddy diets or even diets in general, but even I have to admit that by the time Janurary rolls around I'm ready for a bit of goodness on my plate.

A healthy way to start the day, this blueberry and ginger yogurt pot is a fabulous, nutritious breakfast.

I find one of the easiest places to squeeze in a little extra fruit is breakfast time.  These breakfast parfaits are the perfect way to scrounge up one of your five a day without even realising.  I like to make a big batch of the fruit compot and toasted oats and keep them aside so I can whip these up all week with little to no effort at all.

A healthy way to start the day, this blueberry and ginger yogurt pot is a fabulous nutritious breakfast.

I've used blueberries and blackberries here but you can use whatever you have to hand, if you're using harder fruits like apples and pears make sure to cook them for a little longer.  And remember guys, frozen fruit is the friend of the forgetful shopper!


Blueberry and Ginger Breakfast Parfait


Ingredients:
  • 200g blueberries
  • 100g blackberries
  • 1/2tsp ground ginger
  • 1tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 2tbsp caster sugar
  • 1tbsp water
  • 100g rolled oats
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 400g greek yogurt
Cooking Directions:
  1. For the compot put the blueberries, blackberries, ground and fresh ginger, sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes till thick and jammy. Pour into a bowl and cool completely. 
  2. While waiting for the compot to cool toast your oats. Mix the oats and ground ginger together then pour into a dry frying pan. Toast over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, tossing occasionally so they don't burn. Allow to cool.
  3. Once everythings cool start making your parfait. Spoon a few tablespoons of the compot in the bottom of a small glass, top with 100g of the yogurt the sprinkle with oats. Keep any unused compot covered in the fridge for a few days and the oats in a sealed container.
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Frangipane Mine Pie Slices

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Did you know, that throughout the period of Advent you're supposed to eat a mince pie every day? Apparently every pie awards you a month of good luck in the coming year, you don't have to tell me twice.  If this is indeed true, I'm in for some serious good luck in 2017!

A delicious take on a traditional mince pie.

While I'm usually partial to an iced-top mince pie, this year I've veered away from my comfort zone and have been delving into the world of frangipane.  Let me tell you, a frangipane mince pie is something else. The delicate almondy top is the perfect accompaniment to the delightfully boozy mincemeat. 

A delicious take on a traditional mince pie.

This bake can be as easy or as complex as you'd like it to be.  I made my own pastry but you can use a good quality store-bought version.  I used a jar of store-bought mincemeat, but you can alway make your own if you find a free afternoon. All I can say about these is they won't last long.  Pile them up and watch them quickly disapear.  Best served with a glass of prosecco and a Christmas movie. Preferably Gremlins!

A delicious take on a traditional mince pie.


Frangipane Mince Pie Slice

Ingredients
  • For the pastry:
  • 60g unsalted butter, cold and diced
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 1 large, free range egg yolk
  • 130g plain flour
  • pinch of salt 
  • For the frangipane:
  • 80g unsalted butter, brought to room temperature
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 3 large, free range eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • Jar good quality mince meat
  • Handful flaked almonds
Cooking Directions
  1. For the pastry, in the bowl of a food processor mix together the butter and icing sugar until combined. With the motor still running add the egg yolk followed by the flour and salt. As soon as the pastry comes together in a ball stop the motor and form into a flat round. Wrap in cling film and chill for 2 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 170C and grease a 36 x 12 x 3cm fluted tart tin with a little butter. Lightly flour your work surface and roll out your pastry into a long rectangle to fit your tin. Drape the pastry into the tin and press lightly into the fluted sides. Trim any excess pastry and chill for 1hr.
  3. Once chilled, line the pastry case with baking paper then weigh down with baking beans (I just use dried beans, they work a treat). Bake for 20 minutes, remove the beans and paper from the case and bake for a futher 5 minutes. Allow to cool while you make the filling.
  4. For the frangipane cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla, almonds and baking powder. Mix until combined.
  5. Spread a jar of mincemeat over the bottom of your pastry case, spoon over the frangipane and carefully spread it over the mincemeat layer taking care not to mix the two. Scatter over a handful of flaked almonds and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown.
  6. Allow to cool, dust with icing sugar and cut into slices. These bars stay moist for a few days if kept in an airtight tin.
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Cranberry & White Chocolate Cookies

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Tis the season to bake cookies, fa la la la laaa.  Christmas is the time of year where you can count on unexpected guests dropping by. You never know when you'll hear that knock at the door and the last thing you want is to greet your friends and family empty handed. What would Nigella say?! 

Give Santa a break from mince pies this Christmas and bake up a batch of these cranberry and white chocolate cookies instead.

Cookies will always save your bacon. Whether you've got a batch ready rolled sitting in the freezer or you're the kind of person I wish I was and have a cookie jar filled with freshly baked goodies, you're in the clear.  There's nothing people appreciate more than a freshly baked cookie, or a Mulberry bag, but let's not trouble ourselves with that.

Nothing screams holiday baking like cranberry and white chocolate and I can guarentee a certain Mr Clause sure will appreciate a few of these babies come Christmas morning.

Give Santa a break from mince pies this Christmas and bake up a batch of these cranberry and white chocolate cookies instead.

Cranberry & White Chocolate Cookies


Ingredients:
  • 175g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g plain flour
  • 2tbsp cornflour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 150g dried cranberries
  • 150g white chocolate chips
Cooking Directions:
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter and sugars together until light and creamy. Add in the egg and vanilla extract and beat till combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go. 
  2. Mix together the flour, cornflour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and with the mixer set to the lowest speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet. Once everything is combined add the chocolate chips and cranberries and mix until evenly distributed. Cover the bowl with cling film and chill for 2 hours or overnight. 
  3. Once ready to cook the cookies, remove the bowl from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature, around 10-30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 175C.   Roll into walnut sized balls and place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper leaving a two inch gap between each cookie. 
  4. Bake for 10-12 miniutes, until just begining to turn golden. Allow to cool on the tray for 5 minutes before transfering them to a cooling rack to cool down. Enjoy with a tall glass of milk or a steaming mug of hot chocolate.






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St Clements Cocktail

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Our final cocktail of the Fentimans three is a nice little fruity number, the St Clements.  This one is a virgin, so non-drinkers and designated drivers won't feel too left out of the festivities.
 

Freshly squeezed orange juice topped up with Fentimans bitter lemonade served over ice and garnished with a sprig of rosemary.  

If, like me, you like to spike your juice then I gotcha.  Simply add a shot of gin to the bottom of your glass to turn this puppy into a St Clements 75.  I'm planning on serving these up while decorating the Christmas tree this year.  I'm itching to throw on a bit of Elvis and shimmy around the living room sipping on a St Clements 75. I hope you'll join me! 

St Clements Cocktail with Fentimans Bitter Lemonade
 

St Clements Cocktail

Ingredients
  • 150ml freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 150ml Fentimans Bitter Lemonade
  • Crushed ice
  • Rosemary for garnish
  • Twist of lemon for garnish
Directions
  1. Fill two champagne flutes with ice, half fill each glass with the freshly squeezed orange juice. Top up with the Fentimans Bitter Lemonade and garnish with a sprig of rosemary and a twist of lemon.
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