Giant Jaffa Cake

This giant Jaffa cake is perfect for all Jaffa lovers! It really does look and taste like the real deal, and is fundamentally a large orange sponge covered with a layer of orange jelly and then a layer of chocolate. Delicious. I made this for my best friends birthday as she loves Jaffa cakes!

You’ll need a cake tin with a 23cm diameter and a small saucepan (with a diameter slightly smaller than 23cm)

Ingredients:

  • 67.5g orange jelly cubes (half of a standard pack)
  • 125g self raising flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125g butter (at room temperature)
  • 2 eggs
  • zest of 1 orange and 1 tablespoon juice
  • 65g milk chocolate
  • 65g dark chocolate

Method:

  1. Line your cake tin with baking parchment and preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
  2. First prepare your cake. In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric whisk, until light and fluffy. Add your eggs one at a time and beat again until combined.
  3. Sift in your flour, orange zest and juice and fold the mixture together. Pour your mixture into your cake tin and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and cooked through (use a fork or spaghetti stick to check, if it comes out clean, it’s cooked!)
  4. Meanwhile, prepare your orange jelly according to the instructions on the packet. Pour your jelly into your small saucepan and leave to set in the fridge for 1-2 hours, until solid.
  5. Once you are ready to assemble your cake, melt your chocolate in a glass/heatproof bowl over a simmering saucepan of boiling water, stirring continuously so the mixture is smooth (you can also melt in the microwave on a low heat for 2-3 minutes, pausing to continuously stir). Leave your melted chocolate to cool at room temperature for 15 minutes before you assemble your cake.
  6. Carefully place your jelly mix on top of your cake. You can do this by placing the saucepan upside down over the cake and gently tapping it. This can be quite fiddly so be patient!
  7. Drizzle your melted chocolate over the jelly and cake and smooth over so it looks like a jaffa cake. Leave to set in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours, ideally overnight.

Chocolate dipped Pistachio Shortbread

Pistachio shortbread is such a great teatime treat, it’s buttery, crumbly, sweet and a little bit salty. Plus, this recipe is really easy and quick to make – it’s all made in one bowl so there’s minimal washing up and there’s no need to chill the dough in the fridge like other biscuit recipes.

Ingredients:
Makes 24 cookies
Prep time: 30 minutes

  • 230g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 280g plain flour
  • 100g shelled unsalted pistachios, finely chopped (in a food processor for ease)
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • pinch of sea salt

Method:

  1. Line two 9 inch circular cake tins with baking parchment, leaving a slight overhang so you can easily remove the shortbread, and preheat your oven to 160C.
  2. Using an electric whisk, beat the butter and sugars together until smooth and creamy, for around 1 minute.
  3. Add the vanilla, salt and flour until combined.
  4. Stir in 65g of the pistachios until evenly spread through the batter.
  5. Divide your dough in half and place in the cake tins and press down with your hands or the back of a spoon, you want these to be nice and compact so that the shortbread doesn’t crumble.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes until lightly browned.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Remove the shortbread from the pan and cut into 12 slices, as if you were slicing a pizza! I would save the baking parchment, as you can place your cookies on these after dipping in the chocolate.
  8. Bring a saucepan of water to boil and leave to simmer. Place your chocolate in a glass bowl on top to melt it, continuously stirring. Dip the edges of the shortbread in the chocolate and then immediately in the pistachios, sprinkle some sea salt on each cookie and leave the chocolate to set.

Christmas Rocky Road

Rocky road is one of my bakes that always goes down really well! It’s usually gobbled up in minutes whenever I put it out – which probably has something to do with the rich, buttery biscuit base and lots of chocolate. Yum. This time I’ve put together a rocky road with a Christmas twist, the biscuit base is a mix of warming ginger nut biscuits and digestives, plus a white chocolate drizzle for a snowy look.

I decorated mine with McVitie’s mini gingerbread men, and some christmassy sprinkles and M&Ms, but feel free to use any Christmassy decorations of your choice.

Ingredients:
Makes roughly 20-25 rocky road squares
Prep time: 25 minutes

  • 200g Dark Chocolate
  • 100g Milk Chocolate
  • 100g White Chocolate (this should be a ‘best for baking’ type of chocolate, to avoid curdling)
  • 100g mini marshmallows
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 80g digestive
  • biscuits
  • 80g ginger nut biscuits
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • A handful of Christmassy cake decorations
  • 50g M&Ms

Method:

  1. Line a square cake tin with baking parchment.
  2. Melt your dark chocolate, golden syrup and butter in a saucepan over a low heat. 
  3. Place your digestive biscuits and ginger nut biscuits in a sandwich bag and smash with a rolling pin until the biscuits are around the size of 5p pieces. Add these to your saucepan and stir until all the biscuit pieces are covered in the chocolate mixture. Add half of the marshmallows to the mixture and stir so they are mixed together.
  4. Pour your mixture into your baking tray and pat down firmly with a wooden spoon. Add a few more marshmallows on the top but make sure there are still some left over for the topping.
  5. Bring a saucepan full of water to boil. Melt your milk chocolate in a glass bowl over the saucepan. Once melted, drizzle over your biscuit mixture in the cake tin, covering with a full layer of milk chocolate.
  6. Melt your white chocolate. Drizzle over your mixture in the cake tin to create a marbled effect.
  7. Add your cake decorations and M&Ms over the top. 
  8. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours, until hard. 
  9. Cut your Rocky Road into small squares and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks (if they last that long!!)

Chocolate Orange Checkerboard Cookies

Chocolate orange and Christmas go hand in hand for me. These checkerboard cookies are fun to make and look so pretty! Plus if you have a mini chess set you could probably play a game or two on these. They’re buttery biscuits that taste a bit like shortbread but with loads of flavour.

Ingredients:
Makes approx 25 cookies
Prep time: 3 hours (including chill time in the fridge)

  • 250g butter, at room temperature
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, plus one egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange food colouring (I find the ‘gel’ or ‘paste’ food colourings work best – I used Sugarflair)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 385g plain flour
  • 35g cocoa powder

Method:

  1. Beat together the butter and sugar, either with an electric whisk or stand mixer.
  2. Add in your egg, egg yolk, baking powder and salt and beat again. Add in your flour and beat until combined.
  3. Divide your dough in half and place in separate mixing bowls. Ideally weigh your mixture and divide accurately.
  4. To one mixture, add your orange food colouring and orange extract and beat until combined.
  5. To the second mixture, add your cocoa powder and vanilla extract and beat until combined.
  6. Place both mixtures in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes, this is just to make the batter easier to handle ahead of the next few steps
  7. Shape each mixture into a rectangular log (roughly 5cm tall and 15cm long) and cover in cling film. Make sure the logs are the same size. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour (or the freezer for 30 minutes)

8. Using a sharp knife slice the dough into thirds, longwise. Then turn the dough one turn and cut into thirds again. You will have 9 strips. Repeat the process with the other dough. You will have 18 strips total.

9. Lay 1 piece of orange dough, one piece of chocolate, and another piece of orange on a flat surface next to each other. Top the 3 strips with alternating colours. Repeat this in 3 layers so you have a square log. Press the dough strips together tightly, keeping the square shape. Repeat this with the remaining dough, you will end up with 2 logs looking like the photo below. Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge again for 30 minutes (or the freezer for 15 minutes)

10. Preheat your oven to 180c.
11. Slice your cookies into squares around 1.5cm thick and lay on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Bake for 9-10 minutes.

Baileys Fudge

Bailey’s fudge is the ultimate Christmas fudge! It’s part chocolate, part Bailey’s (I put quite a lot in so each piece is quite boozy!). I love making fudge as a stocking filler for friends and family – they’re a great gift, or something nice to put on the dessert table. It really does take minutes to make, and stores well in the fridge for up to a month (if it lasts that long!) so it can easily be made ahead.

Ingredients:
Makes roughly 40-50 squares of fudge
Prep time: 10 minutes

  • 397g condensed milk (one can)
  • 600g chocolate (I used 300g dark and 300g milk but you can mix according to preference)
  • 80g icing sugar
  • 150ml Bailey’s

Method:

  1. Line a square baking tin with greaseproof paper. I used a 9in x 9in brownie tin which creates a decent depth for the fudge squares.
  2. Melt your chocolate and condensed milk on a low heat in a large saucepan, stirring continuously so it doesn’t stick to the pan.
  3. Once melted, add your Bailey’s and continue to stir. The liquid should start to be absorbed.
  4. Add your icing sugar and stir through.
  5. Pour your mixture into your tin and leave to set in the fridge for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight so it’s easy to cut and not too sticky!
  6. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one month.

Ferrero Rocher Cheesecake

This no-bake Ferrero Rocher cheesecake is SO easy to make, yet looks and tastes fairly decadent so is great as a Christmas showstopper! There’s a biscuit base, some crunchy Ferrero Rocher pieces inside the cream cheese mixture, and a dash of Nutella.

I recommend using a springform cake tin or a tin with a removable base for this recipe, it just makes it easier to handle.

Ingredients:
Prep time: 30 minutes (plus overnight chilling)
Serves 10

Biscuit base:

  • 350g digestive biscuits
  • 200g unsalted butter

Cheesecake filling:

  • 500g full fat cream cheese
  • 75g icing sugar
  • 250g Nutella
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 350ml double cream
  • 12 Ferrero Rocher, roughly chopped

Decoration:

  • 10 Ferrero Rocher

Method:

  1. Crush your digestive biscuits. The best way to do this is either in a plastic bag and a rolling pin, or you can use a food processor.
  2. Melt your butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Once melted, add your biscuit mixture and stir until evenly coated with butter.
  3. Line your cake tin (springform or with a removable base) with baking parchment. lay your biscuit mixture over the base and pat down with the back of a spoon until smooth and compact. Leave to chill in the fridge whilst you make your cheesecake filling.
  4. With an electric whisk, whisk your cream cheese, vanilla and icing sugar together until combined.
  5. Add the double cream, and whisk on a medium-high speed until the mixture is stiff.
  6. Fold in your chopped Ferrero Rocher gently. Pour over your biscuit mixture in the cake tin then leave to chill in the fridge overnight (or at least for 4-5 hours).
  7. Once chilled, remove the cake from the tin, and decorate with your Fererro Rocher. You could also drizzle some melted chocolate or Nuttella over the top!

Madelines

Madelines are basically light airy teacakes originating from France. They are traditionally scallop shaped, and for this recipe I’d recommend investing in a madeline tray. The batter is made from the same ingredients as a traditional cupcake, but the quantities and process outlined below should be followed really carefully so you end up with fluffy and light madelines!

Ingredients:
Makes 20 madelines
Overall time required: 1 hour 30 minutes

  • 115g unsalted butter (plus another 2 Tbsp for the pan)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 15g sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • optional: icing sugar for sprinkling on top

Method:

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan and set aside to slightly cool as you prepare the rest of the batter.
  2. Using an electric whisk beat the eggs and sugar together on high speed for at least 8 minutes. The mixture will be thick, pale, and form ribbons when you lift the whisk. Beat in the lemon zest and vanilla extract until combined.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, gently fold into egg mixture. The batter is quite delicate, so handle with care and don’t over fold!
  4. Stir the batter into the melted butter in small batches.
  5. Cover the batter and chill in the fridge for up to an hour (don’t chill for any longer than this as the butter in the batter will solidify!)
  6. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  7. Melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons butter. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the pan with melted butter.
  8. Spoon 1 generous Tablespoon of batter into the center of each scalloped well. You don’t need to spread it to the edges, just plonk in the centre of the shell.
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes. The madeleines are done when the tops spring back after lightly pressed with your finger. Transfer the warm madeleines to a wire rack to cool.
  10. Dust with icing sugar before serving. Madeleines are best enjoyed right after baking, warm and fresh out of the oven!

Peanut Butter Brownies

These peanut butter brownies are an adaptation of my ‘world’s best brownies’ recipe. I’ve added peanut butter, crushed peanuts and hazelnut oil to add a crunchy texture to the traditional brownie. I also love the combo of a bit of salt and dark chocolate.

I was also gifted a set of cooking oils from Il Gusto and was asked to experiment with these in my cooking. I whacked some hazelnut oil into these which accentuated the nutty flavours of the brownies (and also made my kitchen smell great). I have to admit that I had never really used flavoured oils in my cooking before, but I have found them a great way to incorporate subtler flavours into dishes.

What I particularly like about Il Gusto is that they offer a refill service for any empty bottles in their stores to reduce waste.

Prep time:  20 minutes
Makes 30-40 small/medium sized brownies

Ingredients:

50g dark chocolate
175g margarine
350g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or essence
3 eggs
125g plain flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
50g cocoa
1tsp hazelnut oil
3 heaped tablespoons peanut butter
50g crushed salted peanuts

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to Gas Mark 4
  • Get a 22 x 30 x 2.5 cm (9 x 12 x 1 in) oblong tin and line with greaseproof paper or baking parchment.  Grease the paper with margarine using a paper towel.
  • Put the margarine into a pan and melt over a low heat.  Pour it into a mixing bowl, then add the sugar and vanilla.
  • Add the eggs one at a time and beat in well
  • Sift the flour into the bowl and add the baking powder, the cocoa and the hazelnut oil.  Stir everything together so that it is mixed well.
  • Break the dark chocolate into small pieces and use a sharp knife to cut into small shards.  Add them to the mixture and stir it well again.
  • Pour the mixture into the tin and smooth the top with the back of a spoon.
  • Spoon the peanut butter on top of the brownie mixture and swirl with a spoon to create a marbled effect and scatter your crushed peanuts on top.
  • Bake for 40 minutes
  • The brownies are ready when they have risen and a crust has formed on top.  They should still be soft in the middle.
  • Leave the brownies in the tin for 5 minutes, then cut them into squares.  Leave them on a wire rack to cool.

Chocolate Babka

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Babka is a rich brioche dough filled with cinnamon and dark chocolate.  I first had this decadent treat in an Israeli cafe in London and swiftly fell in love. It’s not quite a bread nor a cake, and the rich chocolate filling with hints of cardamom taste amazing straight out the oven.

It took me a while to put together this recipe, as most of the recipes I found online recommended using an electric mixer with a dough hook. My recipe can be made completely by hand. I also found that cardamom wasn’t a common ingredient, but I feel it makes a massive difference to the finished product, hence why I added a homemade cardamom syrup to the babka after baking.

Prep time: 4-5 hours
Cook time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 100 ml milk
  • 350g strong white bread flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 100g unsalted butter, softened and chopped into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom

For the filling:

  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

For the glaze and syrup:

  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 50ml water
  • 40g sugar
  • 2 cardamom pods, lightly bashed

Method:

  • Heat the milk in a saucepan until it’s just warm. In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar, yeast, cardamom and a pinch of salt. If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook you can mix it in there.
  • Make a well in the centre of your flour mixture and add the milk, egg and butter in the middle. Mix together to create a dough using a spoon to swirl the flour mixture into the well. After a while you might need to start using your hands. Shape into a ball and then knead by hand on a well floured surface for 15 minutes until you have a soft dough that springs back when pressed.
  • Oil the bowl by patting a small amount on a paper towel and wiping it inside the bowl, then return the dough to the bowl and cover with a piece of oiled clingfilm. Leave to prove in a warm place for 2 hours (I normally turn my oven on for 2 minutes – make sure you turn it off again – so it’s slightly warm and then place the bowl in it to prove). The dough should be doubled in size after proving.
  • While the dough is proving, make the filling by melting the butter in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate, sugar, cocoa powder and cinnamon.
  • Once the dough has proved, place on a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle approximately 50 x 30cm. Spread the filling over the dough, covering it completely, but leave a small border. Roll the dough up tightly from one of the longer sides into a sausage shape (for a demo on how to roll and plait the babka, this video is really helpful from 4:45).
  • Cut the dough in half lengthways so you have two long pieces with the inside exposed (I cut mine into 4 and made 2 babka loafs as I didn’t have a loaf tray which worked fine too). If you are finding it difficult to work with the dough at this stage, chill in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to make it easier to handle.
  • Twist the dough into a braid and push the ends together. You can either put this in a loaf tray, if you don’t have one like me, you can lay these on a baking tray covered in baking parchment. Loosely cover with oiled clingfilm and leave to prove in a warm place for 1.5 hours, or until doubled in size.

IMG_3970

Plaited babka

  • Preheat your oven to 180°C/ gas mark 4. Brush your dough with the beaten egg. Bake for 40 minutes until deep golden, loosely covering with foil towards the end of cooking time if it is getting too dark. If you have done one large braid rather than two seperate braids like I did, it may need an additional 10 minutes of baking.
  • Whilst the babka is cooking, make the cardamom syrup. In a small pan, add the water and cardamom pods on a low heat. Once the water is lightly bubbling, stir in the sugar until it dissolves and then reduce to a low heat and leave to simmer for 15 minutes. Leave to infuse for another 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove the loaf from the oven, brush with the sugar syrup and leave to cool.

Chocolate Orange Cookies

Out of all the cookies I’ve ever made, these cookies are probably my favourite. They are rich and gooey and melt in your mouth, whilst still being crispy on the outside. The decadent chocolate orange flavour is one of the best combinations, in my opinion, well done Joe! (Joseph Terry, who founded the chocolate orange in York in the 19th century – fun fact)

Prep time: 10 mins

Makes 20 small/medium sized cookies

Ingredients:

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 whole Terry’s chocolate orange, chopped into chunks

Method:

  1. Line your baking tray with baking parchment. Preheat your oven to gas mark 5/190C/375F
  2. Using an electric mixer (if you have one, otherwise by hand will do!) mix your butter and sugars together until combined
  3. Beat in the egg and vanilla essence
  4. Add the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and orange essence and mix until you have a cookie dough.
  5. Fold in the chocolate orange pieces
  6. Roll into balls and place on a baking tray. For small/medium sized cookies I use a heaped teaspoon sized ball. You can make these any size you like, just make sure they are all the same size so they bake uniformly.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes.