On the second day of Halloween my true love gave to me..

In my eyes, Halloween is right up there with Christmas in the favorite holiday stakes! This year I'm making Halloween stretch the full weekend to squeeze out every last piece of enjoyment possible.  In celebration of this I've made a few delicious Halloween themed treats which I will be posting over the weekend.  

Yesterdays installment of Cupcakes from Beyond the Grave went down a storm at Pet Lambs event last night, as did these Hooting Halloween Owl cupcakes.  Those bad boys stole the show :)

I made a few adjustments to the recipe due to my cupcakes not rising as much as they should have.  This was due to me not reading the recipe properly and failing to fill the cupcake liners to the top so rather than using the tops of the cakes to create the eyebrows I used giant chocolate buttons.  I piped the frosting in my usual swirl to give the owl a bit of a bigger face and used orange candy melts for the beak.  I can't for the life of me find those little jelly diamonds anywhere, odd as I remember them being abundant when I was a kid.

You can find the recipe on the BBC Good Food site.

Halloween Cupcakes

Halloween is my favorite time of the year.  That brisk chill in the air, orange leaves carpeting the streets and that wonderful burning smell wafting in the air, although that's usually from early firework enthusiasts than pumpkins on the porch.

This year I'm keeping the celebrations low key!  Pet Lamb are holding a super fun Halloween themed cupcake stall with lots of spooky treats and wine.  Saturdays will see us taking drinks in a bar, going to see Halloween at the local independent cinema with cocktails then I'll top the weekend off with a warming meal with some friends before what will hopefully be a petrifying ghost tour of Newcastles Castle Keep.  

What are your Halloween plans?

These brilliant From Beyond the Grave cupcakes were adapted from my new favorite cupcake book  Zombie Cupcakes!  If you don't already have it, pick it up and enjoy the fabulously creative projects within!

Afternoon Tea: Jesmond Dene House

Today was a good day, today was a day filled with tasty delicious treats drenched in lashings of my favorite Ringtons Tea!  I must have been a good girl this week as my wonderful fiancé decided to whisk me off for afternoon tea at one of Newcastle's most beautiful hotels, Jesmond Dene House.  

Without a moments hesitation I threw on a pretty dress, grabbed my trusty camera and jumped into the car.  Jesmond Dene House is one of my very favorite places to stop and while away the hours, often with a glass of champagne in my hand and my dear father as company.

Unfortunately for my camera, the lighting was very dim thus making my usual snap happy approach to photography difficult.  However with a lot of experimenting with settings and even some on camera flash/napkin combinations, I managed to get a few usable shots for my dear readers. 

I fell head over heels in love with this tea strainer, to the point where I was working out elaborate schemes in which I could snaffle it away in my bag. Alas my conscience would not allow and the strainer stayed put!
When the stand of treats was placed upon our table I could hardly keep my eyes still, I felt like a kid at Christmas in the presence of all this mouth watering confectionery.  The patisserie tier was by far my favorite containing a lemon macaroon, a weeny blackberry trifle, chocolate sables, chocolate & almond financiers and an adorable fig tart.

The chocolate sable was enough to see me off, I managed half before I retired my spoon and slumped back into my chair in a cake induced coma!

Not before I finished my tea of course!

Awesome things I bought in America - Part One

As you can imagine, when it came to packing up my vacation clothes and leave Florida I was in a wee bit of a pickle.  While in the good old US of A I discovered and promptly fell head over heals in love with the amazing Williams Sonoma.  Much to my friends dismay I spent hours browsing through the cake pans, raking through the cookie presses and drooling over the delicious pie fillings.  They could have their roller coasters and water slides, I had pocket pie molds to buy!

So ridiculously excited was I to get home and play with my new toys that I spent the rest of the holiday dreaming about my lovely little kitchen and all the tasty things I could bake with my new found goodies.  And what delighted me even more was I get to share it all with you. So, here we are with my 'Awesome Things I Bought in America - Part One'.  Are you excited?  I sure am!

This was actually the last thing I bought before coming home.  I mulled the purchase over for my full two weeks before returning to the mall to snap them up.  The issue of forcing them into my already bulging suitcase is a whole other story.

I am in love with these cutters.  Though I don't think I've perfected the recipe yet, I had some issues with cracking and blistering and I feel I was a little too light on the stamping but the taste sure makes up for it. They are delicious! Among the best sugar cookies I have ever had the pleasure of eating.   They can be emblazoned with anything your heart desires, from the traditional 'I Love You' to a cheeky 'Bite Me'.  Maybe this year I'll substitute Christmas cards with personalised cookies.

Home Sweet Home

Boy it really is nice to be cold again!  After spending the last two weeks baking in the intense Floridian heat it's amazing to be back home and thrust straight into woolly tights weather.  Autumn, I've missed you!

But, I've got a surprise for you.  This isn't just a regular blog post with me waxing lyrical about whichever cupcake I've baked this week; oh no this one is special, this one is a give away!  That's right, I've got a delicious prize for one of you lovely folk who tune in to read my idiotic ramblings, just 'cause I love 'ya!  So here it is, just in time for Christmas, an yumtastic milk chocolate advent calendar straight from the shelves of one of my favorite shops Hotel Chocolat!
Isn't it beautiful?!  Certainly beats the hell out of the crappy Simpsons advents currently clogging up the isles of your local supermarket!  I've nabbed myself a dark chocolate version and it's going to be a real test of strength leaving those delicious little chocolates intact ready for December 1st!

I can see you're all itching to get your hands on the most scrumptious advent calender available so here's how you can get one for your own!

  • Firstly, leave a comment on my blog telling me your favorite seasonal holiday and why.
  • Secondly, tweet this competition or stick a link to it on your blog.  Promotions ahoy!
  • Lastly, if you're not already a follower, become one and let me know via comment.
Do all that and you're in with 3 chances to chow down on a decedent morsel of chocolate every morning of advent.  Who could resist such a thing?

Winners will be announced on Monday November 1st.  See you then ;)
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