Buttermilk quickbread (that’s bread without yeast) with cranberries, walnuts and orange zest. These have a sweet yogurt topping and grated orange zest on top.
One thing I’ve learned when making any kind of bar/slice/tart which has a filling with a layer of something else on top is that you can never have too much filling (mots recently with the Manchester Tart I made, which I should have used more jam for). A batch of 12 mince pies used around 400g of mincemeat; both of these tarts used around 300g in total but there was plenty of room for more filling. The frangipane topping is chunky enough to hold the flavour of the almonds on it’s own, so you can load the base with as much mince meat as you have.
These were more like mini cupcakes filled with jam. Delicious, but not as donut-hole like as the last batch I made. I’ve since learned that the key to a recognizable donut taste s nutmeg. I only used a pinch as I didn’t want to over-power the raspberry jam, which may explain the lack of donut taste.
Scones are a quick win – they’re easy and quick to make, fairly difficult to get wrong and by changing the fillings and ratio of milk/cream/yogurt/buttermilk you can vary the texture for a slightly different result. These have lemon meringue chunks and crystallized ginger.
Packed with peanut butter and chocolate, these brownie squares are light and not too sweet. Brownies can be a bit hit and miss – I’ve only had them come out well maybe half of the times I’ve tried them. These took the full 35 mins and were just about done – leaving them another 5-10 mins would be fine if you prefer them drier/firmer.
I’ve become somewhat of a connoisseur of peanut butter – I eat it every day and a tub usually lasts less than a week. Unless they say otherwise, most brands contain extra sugar and some kind of stabiliser (usually oil of some sort). Using a natural peanut butter makes a massive difference in both the texture and taste. I prefer Meridian because it’s made from nothing but peanuts and salt and although it has some chunks of peanuts, it’s still runny enough to spread well.
Similar to a Bakewell tart but with custard instead of frangipane topping, a Manchester tart consists of an almond shortbread crust with raspberry jam and vanilla creme patissiere, coconut and cherries. This recipe makes anough pastry and custard for the equivalent of 3 x 20cm tarts, but I made two 15cm tarts and two 10cm tarts. You can also mix the recipe up by using half of the pastry to make banana custard tarts. This is where Dr Oetker’s Banoffee Sprinkles add a nice finishing touch.
Three layers of cookie with apricot jam, cherry jam, marzipan and chocolate. These rainbow cookies have a strong marzipan flavour due to the marzipan between each layer. They take a while to make as they need to be compressed overnight then you need to set the chocolate before cutting them up. Most recipes say to mix in the grated marzipan with the dough, but I grated it instead gave the cookies a more distinct almond flavour.
I’ve been loving some Toasted Nut Brulee Ooolong tea from Teavana recently. These chocolate cupcakes are inspired by this wonderful tea (please send more!) They have a custard filling, peanut butter frosting and a sprinkling of chopped nuts and are perfect with a cup of Oolong. Chocolate and peanut butter are something you have to be told about and would probably not think of pairing together, but like chocolate and chilli, they work really well together. I know a few people who love peanut butter so these didn’t last long.
Vanilla cupcakes filled with confetti and topped with a swirl of chocolate peppermint buttercream. Small, light and just enough for a couple of bites. It’s still technically the Christmas holiday period, so I just about got away with candy cane sprinkles on top.
Did I say Snickers? I mean Snackers… similar to, but legally distinctive from a Snickers bar (sue me Mars). This ultimate replication chocolate bar as a shortbread base, layer of peanut-speckled marshmallow on top, caramel on top of that, then chocolate, peanut butter and more peanuts. It may sounds like a lot, but each layer is very thin, so the whole lot is no thicker than a regular chocolate bar.