Saturday, 22 October 2011

Heavenly Banoffee Pie

A friend bought this to a dinner party and it is just incredible - I urge you all to make it!

best banoffee pie recipe

You will need:
300g (10oz) butter
250g (8oz) digestive biscuits
175g (6oz) caster sugar
425g (14oz) condensed milk
2/3 bananas
1 tbsp lemon juice
600ml whipping cream
25g dark chocolate

This makes a large pie, enough for 8-10 people. I have halved this recipe for an 8" dish.

For the base:
Melt 4oz butter in a saucepan and stir in the crushed biscuits. Press the mixture into a deep dish & chill in the fridge.

For the filling:
Put the remaining butter and the sugar in a saucepan and heat gently until the butter has melted. Stir in the condensed milk and bring to the boil, then lower the heat and stir for about 5 minutes, until the mixture goes a light caramel colour. Pour this over the base (be careful as caramelised sugar is very hot) and chill until set.

Slice the bananas and toss them in the lemon juice. Place these on top of the caramel. Whip the cream and spread this over the bananas. Decorate with grated chocolate and chill until 30 minutes before needed.

Look at the biscuity, toffee, creamy banana goodness. I'm sure it's one of your five-a-day, right...?!

best banoffee pie recipe

best banoffee pie recipe

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Sloe Gin

October is the perfect time to make sloe gin. The best time to pick the berries is after the first frost, but you want to leave enough time for it to mature by Christmas, so I'm doing it now.

You will need:
Half a bottle of gin (British, of course)
Lots of sloe berries
100g caster sugar
how to make homemade sloe gin

I am lucky to have a lot of sloe berries growing near my house. The best place to find them is in hedgerows out on country walks in the autumn. You might also be able to find them at farmer's markets.

how to make homemade sloe gin

Wash the berries and prick them with a cocktail stick so that they can infuse with the gin. This is the laborious part of the process and the real reason why they call it sloe gin. Fill up most of the bottle and pour in the sugar and shake well. You'll need to shake the bottle once a day for a couple of weeks, and then once a week until Christmas.

In late December, strain the liquid into another bottle (or back into the cleaned bottle) and enjoy with ice or in cocktails on snowy nights.

You can use sloe gin in a G&T, or alternatively a great cocktail is a sloe gin royale. Use 25ml sloe gin, 75ml champagne and decorate with a raspberry or such like. Cheers!

how to make homemade sloe gin

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Vintage Cupcake Stand

This is a fun project for a weekend because it involves shopping AND crafting. What's not to like?!

vintage handmade cupcake stand

To make this cupcake stand you will need 3 pretty plates (one small, one medium, one large) and two small glasses such as sherry glasses.

Arrange the plates in size order with the glasses upsideown between the plates. Make sure everything looks as you want it and then glue the glasses to the plates. The best kind of glue you can use for this is a 2 part epoxy glue.

If you want to go all out you can buy the metal fittings for cupcake stands (just search for cake stand fittings on eBay), however you will need an electric drill to make holes in the plates.

vintage handmade cupcake stand

I got all of these pieces from local charity shops - in total this cost me about £6. The great thing about this cupcake stand is that you can have it in whatever size and colour you like.

Now I just need to bake some cupcakes to put on it!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Chocolate Pretzels

Pretzels with chocolate? Really?! 


If you are reading this from the US you'll probably know all about the little bundles of joy that are chocolate pretzels. In the UK most people have never heard of them, and that's a travesty. Don't be put off by the strange combination - they are so tasty and best of all they are very easy to make.

homemade chocolate pretzels

You will need:
200g good quality chocolate
Salted pretzels
Makes around 50, which, if you are like me, will last less than a day.

The traditional method of melting chocolate is to put a glass bowl over a saucepan of water, but that's a lot more effort and washing up. You can melt chocolate in the microwave as long as you only give it short bursts (10-15 seconds) and stir it well in between.

You want your chocolate to end up shiny, and to do this you need to go through a process called tempering (more info here). If you have a chocolate thermometer (like this) you need to make sure you've reached the right temperature. If you don't, just melt the chocolate in the microwave until it is mainly melted but there are still some lumps. At this point, just stir the chocolate and the heat will melt the remaining lumps. You don't want to get the chocolate too hot as when it's set it will "bloom", i.e. look white and streaky. If this happens it is still fine to eat, it just doesn't look as good.

Dip each pretzel in to the cholcolate and lay onto a baking tray or baking parchment. I find this easiest done with two forks. If the pretzels are getting too coated and you cannot see the holes, try pressing it against the side of the bowl and scraping off some of the chocolate. Leave to cool (preferably in the frige - they are ready quicker and I think chocolate always tastes better cold).

If you are giving these as gifts, place the pretzels in cellophane bags and decorate with ribbon. Otherwise, ENJOY :)

 photo homeeee_zps214aed0e.jpg
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