Salted Caramel Macarons

It’s National Dessert Day tomorrow (*shrugs* apparently… When’s National Naming Days Day, I wonder?), not that I need any excuse to scoff sweet things, of course – especially around this time of year.  I’m already on to my second pack of Fiendish Fancies, and today I decided to make some Halloween-ish Macarons.  I’ve made them a couple of times before and they’re a bit fiddily, but there are a few short cuts you can take to make the job a little easier (like buying butter cream rather than making it yourself, shh!).  I mean, alright, they’re not going to win any awards or put Ladurée out of business, but they taste good – and that’s all that matters, right?

Salted Caramel Macarons

Ingredients

  • 125g icing sugar
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 90g egg whites
  • 110g caster sugar
  • A couple of drops of orange food colouring
  • Pre-made Buttercream icing
  • Salted Caramel Flavoring (yep, you can buy it!)
  • Melted chocolate to decorate
  1. Whisk together the caster sugar and egg whites to form stiff white peaks, then add the food colouring.
  2. Sieve the icing sugar and ground almonds into the mixture, then fold in.
  3. To get a perfect coin shape use a piping bag and nozzle, but you can do just as good a job with a pointed spoon and a steady hand.  Pipe out onto a lined baking tray, then leave to rest for 15 minutes.
  4. Bake at 160° for about 10 minutes.
  5. Sandwich with your flavoured buttercream, drizzle with chocolate, then scoff!

I’m going to carve up my pale pumpkin this weekend (although it’s meant to be really hot here in Wales – very un-Halloween like!).  Have a lovely weekend everyone! 🙂

Apple Crumble Cake

I can’t decide what part of The Great British Bake Off I’m enjoying more this year, the bakes… or Noel Fielding’s patterned shirts.  Honestly, the ice-cream shirt (which I remembered seeing Zoella wear last year) had me furiously googling into the wee hours trying to track it down to no success.  True, GBBO just isn’t the same without Bezza, but I’m actually really enjoying it – and the cakes are just as inspiring as always; I mean, Kate’s sticky toffee apple caramel cake looked INSANE.  I’m going to have to give one of those a go nearer to bonfire night 🙂

Anyway, here’s a much, much plainer apple cake!  I love an easy loaf cake, and this one is full of chopped apples and cinnamon and topped with a crunchy, sugary crumble.  Another way of using up a couple of apples without going down the full-on crumble route.  We scoffed it with lots and lots of custard under a blanket in front of the TV, which – let’s be honest – is what Autumn is all about.

No recipe to this one because I didn’t measure anything out.  It was one of those “just chuck everything in and hope for the best” kind of days!  Have a great weekend everyone! ♡

Bramble Bars

I love this time of year.  It’s almost time for crumbles and custard again!  I’ve been watching the blackberries in the field near our house grow over the summer every time I walked Bungle (Walked?  Who am I kidding?  He drags me around that bloody field), and now they’re finally ripe and ready for picking.   I decided to pick a few last week, but instead of going with a bog-standard apple and blackberry crumble, I did something a little bit different and made these Bramble Bars.  They’re basically a flapjack, blackberry and frangipane sandwich 🙂



Bramble Bars

Ingredients

For the Flapjacks:

  • 250g porridge oats
  • 125g butter
  • 125g dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter

For the Frangipane:

  • 75g butter
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 100g ripe blackberries
  • white chocolate icing
  1. First, make the flapjack layers.  Heat the butter, brown sugar, syrup and peanut butter on a low heat, stirring until combined.  Mix in the porridge oats and then transfer half the mixture to a greased and lined, rectangular baking tin.  Bake for 15 minutes at 180° .
  2. Next make the frangipane.  Cream together the butter and sugar, then stir in the eggs, ground almonds and almond extract.  Spread evenly on top of the first flapjack layer, then bake for 15 minutes.
  3. Roughly mash the blackberries and then spoon over the baked frangipane layer.  Add the final flapjack layer on top, then return to the oven for a further 15 minutes until golden brown.
  4. Once cooled, cut into bars and decorate with piped white chocolate.

Not to blow my own horn or anything, but Sunny was all over these and actually forced me to take pictures of them immediately so he could scoff them.  It’s a nice way of using up those blackberries without resorting to the bog-standard crumble.  😉


Side-note; we discovered that Bungle loves blackberries.  So now instead of getting dragged around the field, I’m being dragged into hedges instead.  Grrrrreat.

Have a lovely week everyone!  

Bakewell Tarts

Bakewell Tarts remind me of a time in University when a friend of mine stepped in to help another friend out with a photography project that involved posing topless with nothing but a couple of cherry bakewells to hide her nips.  Naming no names, but to this day I can’t eat a cherry bakewell without thinking about her 🙂

Anyway, I’ve scoffed a lot of bakewell tarts in my time – my favourite tart by a long way – but never tried making one myself.  I always thought frangipane was a bit of a nightmare.  But, they’re actually not that difficult – especially if you cheat by buying ready-made pastry and don’t bother making the jam yourself.  Pfft!  Who’s got the time for that?

Bakewell Tart (from Mary Berry’s recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1 pack of ready-made sweet shortcrust pastry
  • Seedless raspberry jam
  • 150g butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • Ready to roll royal icing
  • Piped pink fondant icing
  1. Set the oven to 180 (fan) and line a fluted tart tin (preferably with a removable bottom – easy) with the shortcrust pastry.  Pop it into the fridge to cool for half an hour.  Line with non stick paper and fill with baking beans.  Bake blind for 15 minutes, then remove the beads and bake for a further 5 minutes.  Set it aside and allow it cool (very important!).
  2. To make the frangipane filling cream together the butter and sugar, then add the ground almonds, egg and almond extract. 
  3. Spread the bottom of your cooled pastry case with raspberry jam and then spoon in the frangipane mix on top.
  4. Turn down the oven to 160 and then bake the tart for 35 minutes (or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.  Leave the tart to cool.
  5. Remove the tart from its tin and then use a tin as a cutter to get the right size and shape of rolled out icing.  Decorate with loops or lines of piped pink fondant.

Have a lovely weekend everyone!  ♡

*Bill’s Summer of Music

I can’t remember the last time Sunny and I had a date night.  We’ll be celebrating our fourth (wait…is that right?) wedding anniversary at the end of August (…is it the 26th or 27th…?) and we’ve never really done the whole date thing, even BC (Before Canine!).

Anyway, a few weeks ago Bill’s got in touch and asked if I’d like to come along and sample their new summer menu.  They also said I could bring along a guest – so, I said, “Yes please!” and brought along Sunny for a little pre-wedding anniversary date night 🙂


Throughout June, July and August, Bill’s has been celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love with live music events in its restaurants up and down the country, and on the 27th of July it arrived at their Cardiff Bay Restaurant – which not only meant a lovely meal for us but also an evening of live music.  They had Malaika (above), who sang some of her jazz and blues songs, as well as some covers, as well as Millie Jane Franks, who sung a beautiful cover of Fix You by Coldplay.


I’d never been to Bill’s before – but have no idea why, because the food was absolutely lush from the first course (these breaded halloumi sticks and pork dumplings) right through to dessert (by which time I completely stuffed and had to waddle back to the car – and we’d parked all the way up by the Norweigan Church too, pfft!).






Thanks to Bill’s for such a lovely night of food and music! ♡