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Peppermint Crumble Bars

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 This is a new recipe that a friend gave me recently. She’d made some for a coffee morning and I thought they were delicious and a bit different. My lovely neighbour ( who is always a tester for my recipes ) thought so too! You need: 140g butter or margarine, 2 heaped tbsps sieved cocoa, 1 tbspn golden syrup, 1 dspn caster sugar and 350g digestive biscuits, crushed Topping: 200g icing sugar, 3 tspn s peppermint essence and 300g milk or dark chocolate, or a mixture of both  Shallow cake tin 18x30cm Grease the tin Melt the fat, cocoa, syrup and sugar over a low heat or in the microwave. Add the crushed biscuits and mix well.  Spoon into the tin and press down to fit. Leave to cool. Topping - sieve icing sugar into a bowl and add the peppermint essence and enough cold water ( about 2tbspn) to make a spreadable icing. Spread over the biscuit base.  Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water or microwave on Medium. Pour over the mixture, spreading it all over the top.  Chill

Raspberry and Almond Clafoutis

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 I love any kind of clafoutis, but this one’s a bit different as it has ground almonds in it. A clafoutis is really a batter and you add different fruits. Raspberries are my favourite, so I used these in this recipe. Oven 200C/gas6  Grease a gratin dish You need: 400g fresh raspberries, 80g caster sugar, 1 tspn vanilla extract, 50g flour, 50g ground almonds, 3 eggs and 250ml milk.  In a bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, almonds and vanilla extract. Beat the eggs together then add to the bowl. Mix everything. Slowly add the milk to make a smooth batter.  Put the raspberries into the bottom of the dish and pour the batter over.  Bake for about 45-50 mins till golden.  200C / You can use any other fruit, but I think fresh fruit tastes better than tinned in this recipe. Loved the hint of almond which goes well with the raspberries. Had to have a little decoration with my herbs!!

A Vegetable Gratin - Gratin de Lègumes

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 I’m guilty of not eating enough vegetables, so I’ve been looking at ways to cook them in interesting ways. This is a French recipe that my friend makes regularly. Sometimes she adds a chop or some other meat to the plate, but it’s great on its own. Preheat oven 180C/gas 4 Grease a gratin dish.  You need: 6 medium potatoes, 3 courgettes, 2 medium tomatoes, half a goat’s cheese, small pot of crême fraîche and 2 sprigs of rosemary  Peel the potatoes and slice them thinly. Slice the tomatoes and courgettes thinly.  Put a layer of potatoes in the dish, then a layer of courgettes, a layer of tomatoes and a layer of crême fraîche. Slice the goat’s cheese and put on top. Sprinkle over the rosemary, some salt and pepper. Bake for 50 mins till the veg are cooked. You can use other vegetables such as mushrooms, aubergines etc and add garlic, or you can change the cheese to Emmental or Parmesan or change the herb to thyme or parsley. Endless possibilities!

Chocolate Banana Loaf

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 The usual few bananas left going brown, but wanted a different loaf to make. This recipe comes from ´The Baker’s Daughter’ by Louise Johncox, a recipe book which also tells stories about the family bakery. Preheat oven 180C/gas4. Grease and line a 900g loaf tin. You need: 100g dark chocolate, 110g margarine, 125g caster sugar, 2 beaten eggs, 125g sr flour, 11/2tbspn cocoa, 1 level tspn baking powder and 2 medium bananas mashed, chocolate to melt for the top (opt) Melt chocolate in microwave or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, Cream margarine and sugar. Add beaten eggs gradually. Sift flour, cocoa and baking powder together and add to the mixture. Beat together with a wooden spoon. Pour into the tin and bake for 40-50mins. Let cake cool in the tin for 10 mins then turn onto a wire rack. I’ve melted milk chocolate and swirled it over the top.  It’s a very moist cake and really delicious. 

Custard Tarts.

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 Thought I’d try and make up for not posting for a few months and post another recipe. These are one of my favourite things to eat. My Mum was a great baker and made them regularly. You can buy ready made short crust pastry or make your own. Preheat oven 180C/gas4 You need a 12 hole bun tin. Grease the holes in the tin. Pastry : 225g plain flour, 110g butter, 1 egg beaten, 50g caster sugar Rub the fat into the flour till breadcrumbs. Add the egg to the sugar and add to the bowl and mix together. Add the flour then mix into a dough. Wrap in film and put in the fridge for 30 mins. Custard: 40g caster sugar, 4 medium egg yolks, 1/2 tspn vanilla extract, 300 ml warm milk and 1/2 tspn grated nutmeg.  Mi the caster sugar, egg yolks and vanilla extract together then stir in the warm milk. Keep stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Take pastry out of the fridge and roll out on lightly floured surface to 2mm. Use a cutter slightly bigger than the holes in the bun tin and cut out 12 rounds. Pre

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cup Cakes

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 I’m still alive! No excuses really, just life, even at 80, is hectic! I’m not usually a fan of cupcakes as I find the topping rather too much. I did enjoy these when my friend brought some recently. I love peanuts, peanut butter, well anything with peanuts, and peanuts with chocolate - heavenly! They’re very easy to make as it’s just a chocolate sponge mixture, and the fun’s in the topping. Preheat oven 190C/gas 5 12 hole bun tin with 12 paper cases 125g softened butter, 125g caster sugar, 2 eggs, 2 tbsps milk, 100g st flour and 3 level tbspn cocoa. Beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add the eggs and milk, then the flour and cocoa.Beat together till smooth. Divide batter between the 12 cases and bake for 12-15 mins. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Make the topping: 200g cream cheese, 60 g soft butter, 125 g soft or crunchy peanut butter, 125g icing sugar (sieved), packet of chocolate peanuts Beat the cream cheese then add the butter and peanut butter till smooth. Gradually bea

Carrot Cake Muffins

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 I’m a great muffin fan and have adapted my basic recipe, given to me by an American friend, many times. This is my latest idea. I made the muffins and was asked by a friend if I could make some for a party with the icing you usually get on a carrot cake.  280g plain flour, 1 tbsps baking powder, 1 tspn mixed spice, pinch salt, 115g soft dark brown sugar, 200g grated carrot, 50g chopped pecans or walnuts, 50g sultanas, 2 eggs, 175ml milk, 6 tbsps sunflower oil Optional: icing - 75g soft cream cheese, 49g butter and 35g icing sugar, sprigs of orange zest Preheat oven 200C/gas6. Grease a muffin tin or use muffin cases. Sift together the flour, baking powder and spice. Add carrots, sugar walnuts and sultanas and stir together. In a jug add the milk, oil and beaten eggs. Mix well. Make a well in flour mix and add milk mixture. Stir gently till just mixed. Don’t over mix or muffins will be heavy. Soon into the muffin tin - I use an ice cream scoop. Bake for 20 mins till risen. Cool on a wir

Galette de Rois aux Pommes

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 In France, the tradition is to have a Galette de Rois for Epiphany, January 6th., the visit of the Wise Men. I love these almond filled galettes, but decided to try something different this year and added apples. You need: 2 packs of puff pastry, 3 eating apples, 200g crème fraîche, 200g ground almonds, 100g caster sugar + 40g, 3eggs and 1 egg yolk Preheat oven 220C/gas7                 A baking tray Cut the apples up into small cubes and put into a pan with the 40g of sugar. Caramelise for about 10 mins. Add 1 tbspn of the cream and mix together. In a bowl mix together the rest of the cream and the 100g of sugar, the ground almonds and eggs. Put this in the fridge for 10 mins. Roll out the pastry sheets. Cut out 2 large circles [I used a large dinner plate]. Put one of the circles on the baking tray and cover with the apples. If you have one, put a bean or little fêve in, then spoon over the almond mixture. Cover with the second circle of pastry and pres the edges together. Dilute th

Toscakaka or Swedish Caramel Cake

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A belated Happy New Year.  I’ve had great problems posting on here for a while. Hopefully this has now been solved., I love Scandinavian baking and have several Scandi baking books, but to honest, I've never baked from them. Reading an article recently on this type of baking, I thought I must use my books, so decided to make a caramel almond cake. I've adapted it from 'Scandilicious Baking'. For the cake  you need; 20ml milk, 1 tspn lemon juice [or 75ml buttermilk] 75g butter, 3 eggs, 150g caster sugar, 1 tspn vanilla extract, 150g plain flour, 1 tspn baking powder and a pinch of salt. For the topping:  150g flaked almonds, 125g butter, 125g light brown sugar, 50ml milk and 1/2 tspn sea salt Preheat oven 160C/gas3                     Grease and base line a 23cm springform cake tin Stir the lemon juice into the milk to sour it, or use 75ml buttermilk instead. Toast the almonds till they're a light golden colour [takes about 6 mins]. Melt the butter over a low heat th