T is for ….. “Thankyou”

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This week brought an end of an era – the last time my 4yo son would have swimming lessons with Little Otters, a local swim school for children up to the age where they start school.  His lesson also happened to be the last lesson that Little Otters would hold at that location, so it was a doubly sad occasion for his teachers, Jan and Lynsey.  Peter and I both shed tears on the way home from his lesson.

I wanted to do something to say thankyou to them both, and decided to bake them each a cake.  The cakes were Madeira cakes, with a filling of homemade Strawberry and Vanilla Jam, and Vanilla Buttercream.  Peter decided that he wanted me to make decorations to show some of the things they use in their lessons.  This is what he asked for…..

A Horse “Woggle”, some arm discs, and a float!

These were the finished cakes.

I am entering these cakes into Alphabakes, where the letter randomly chosen this month is the letter “T”.  This month’s Alphabakes challenge, is hosted by Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker.

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Cappuccino Cupcakes

Well, I’m cutting it fine again this month with this, my entry for We Should Cocoa, which is hosted this month by Lucy over at The Kitchen Maid.  I will update this post to include the recipe, but I will just say that it includes 2 freshly brewed shots of espresso, and a good dusting of cocoa powder to finish!

My entry is for Cappuccino Cupcakes – the one in the photo is baked in a silicon “teacup” case – which I picked up for two for £1 in a local poundshop after seeing them featured on another blog, I Heart Cupcakes.

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V is for …….. Chocolate Vimto Cake

The challenge for Alphabakes this month has been a tough one – without using the usual V for Vanilla!  I was stumped for a while, but saw a bottle of Fizzy Vimto when I was in town last week picking up a few bits and pieces.  I thought, “Fantastic – I know just the recipe I can use that in!”.

So here it is – not an original recipe of mine, but a variant of a James Martin recipe from the BBC Website for Chocolate Cola Cake from the Housecall TV Programme.  I simply replaced the Cola in the recipe for Fizzy Vimto – and you can definitely taste the Vimto!  It isn’t too powerful a flavour and complements the chocolate perfectly – much better than the original cola version in my opinion.

Alphabakes is hosted by Ros from The More than Occasional Baker this month. Alphabakes is hosted next month by Caroline at Caroline Makes.

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H is for…. Hersheys Almond Kiss Cookies

Back in November, my parents went via the US for my cousins wedding on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. Unfortunately I couldn’t go as it was during term time and couldn’t take my son out of school nursery, but my parents did think of me while they were away though, and brought us back some goodies, including these, Hersheys Almond Kisses.Until this month, I didn’t know what to do with them, as I’m not fond of Hersheys Chocolate, apart from the Cookies & Cream, Caramel or Mint Kisses.  Fortunately for me though, the Alphabakes challenge for this month was the letter “H”, and the We Should Cocoa challenge was “Chocolate and Almond”!  I could enter two baking challenges for the price of one!  I really do prefer Almond Kisses used in baking this way to just on their own, and will bake these again.

Alphabakes is hosted by Caroline at Caroline Makes this month. Alphabakes is hosted next month by Ros from The More than Occasional Baker.

We Should Cocoa is hosted by Laura at How To Cook Good Food this month.  It is also hosted alternately by Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog, and Chele over at The Chocolate Teapot.

Here is my recipe for Hersheys Almond Kiss Cookies.

  • 115g Softened Unsalted Butter
  • 150g Golden Caster Sugar – 50g of which is kept back for decoration
  • 60g Soft Light Brown Sugar
  • 50g Soft Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1tsp Almond Extract
  • 250g Plain Flour
  • 1tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • Approximately 40 Hersheys Almond Kisses (you may want to have more for nibbling at)

Place the butter, light and dark brown sugars, and 100g of the caster sugar in a mixer.

Mix until combined, and then add the egg and almond extract.

Mix until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl to make sure that everything is incorporated.

Mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and the salt, then add to the mixer, and mix until you get a smooth dough.

Refrigerate the cookie dough for an hour and then prepare to roll into balls!

You will want the balls to be about pingpong ball sized – this was about 16g for me, making 37 cookies.

After rolling the balls, coat them in the reserved caster sugar.

Place the balls of cookie dough onto a lined baking sheet, and bake at 165degrees for about 12 minutes until a pale golden colour, turning the tray towards the end of baking to ensure an even bake if necessary.

While the cookies are in the oven, it is time to unwrap the Hersheys Almond Kisses!

As soon as the cookies are out of the oven, press an unwrapped Hersheys Kiss into the centre of each cookie.  You need to work fast with this to make sure the cookie is still warm when you do it!

As you can see from this picture, the residual warmth in the cookies melts the chocolate in the Kisses, but they do retain their shape.  I refrigerated the cookies at this point, as I didn’t have time to wait for them to set back up before I took them to playgroup for the mums to try.

These were delicious, and I can’t wait to try variations, with Rolos, or Milky Way Stars instead of the Kisses!

 

 

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B is for ….. Birthday Cake

The month of April brings with it my sons birthday.  This year he changed his mind several times about what he wanted his birthday cake to be, before eventually deciding that he wanted a dinosaur cake.

I set about constructing this cake the weekend before his birthday, finally finishing it the night before.  It is a sculpted Madeira Cake filled with vanilla buttercream, and I used Rice Krispie Squares to form the head, legs and tail. The plates and spikes were made using gum paste that I custom tinted, and the cake was covered in a buttercream crumb coat before covering in Regalice.  As you can see, it is a Stegosaurus, in a non-scary way – my son was turning 4 after all!

The theme this month for Alphabakes is the letter “B”, so I am entering this Birthday Cake!

Alphabakes is hosted by Ros this month from The More than Occasional Baker.  Alphabakes is hosted next month by Caroline at Caroline Makes.

 

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Mascarpone, Ricotta and Cream Cheese Baked Cheesecake

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I love a good cheesecake, and this one comes very close to the best one I have ever eaten, at the Peninsula Hotel in New York City.  It is creamy and smooth, the ricotta gives it a bit of lightness, … Continue reading

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Banana Choc Chip Muffins

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Bananas are my sons favourite snack to take to nursery at the moment (complete with a face drawn on them!), which usually means that there are a few very ripe bananas lurking in the fruit bowl towards the end of … Continue reading

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Jaffa Cake Squares

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Jaffa Cakes are a much loved treat in households across the country, and have been for many years, but they have been the cause of controversy in the past, primarily because they are not in fact a biscuit as supermarkets would have … Continue reading

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Millionaires Shortbread

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Recently, Millionaires Shortbread was seen not once, but twice in one episode of the Great Sport Relief Bake Off on BBC, baked by both Anita Rani (the eventual winner) and Angela Griffin. This is my take on the classic teatime … Continue reading

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Mini Cupcake Lamingtons

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Today, the 26th January, Australia Day is celebrated here in the UK (in Australia it is on the 25th January), so what better an excuse to make my version of the traditional Aussie favourite, the Lamington, which was created in … Continue reading

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