Sunday, 25 November 2012

Gingerbread Men

Gingerbread biscuits signal the coming of Christmas in my house. My mum even makes gingerbread decorations for the tree (which last about two days). As I have about a week left until I have to hand in my dissertation, anything snack related is a godsend so I thought I’d make something Christmassy to get me through.

The only cookie cutter I could find without having to go into town was this absolutely mahoosive one so these gingerbread men are MEN. Also yes, I am aware that they look like they’ve been decorated by a five year old. That is just how gingerbread men are supposed to be, okay?

350g plain flour
1tsp bicarbonate soda
2tsp ground ginger
1tsp ground cinnamon
125g butter
175g dark brown soft sugar
1 egg
4tbsp golden syrup
Firstly, this is all done very easily if you have a food processor. Sadly, I am a poor student so have to do these things by hand. It still works; it just takes a little longer.
Combine the flour, bicarbonate soda, ginger and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.

Tip in the butter and combine everything together using your fingertips until the mixture becomes fine crumbs.
Stir in the sugar.

Beat the egg and golden syrup together and then add it to the mixture. Combine everything together, sticking your hands right in there if you need to.

Wrap the ball of dough in some Clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 180⁰C. Line a couple baking trays with baking parchment.
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface until around half a cm thick. Use the cookie cutters to make the men. If like mine your cutter doesn’t include legs, use a sharp knife to create a slit. Place them on the baking tray, leaving room for them to grow.

Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, watching carefully to make sure they don’t catch. Leave them on the tray to cool for around 10 minutes before decorating.
To decorate mine I combined some icing sugar with a little water, and then went a bit mad with any random decorations I had lying around. You can make them look a bit more professional and neat if you want but in my opinion that’s just a bit boring…

NOTE: I had an absolute spaz this morning because when I went to write up this blog post it wouldn’t let me upload any photos. It said basically that you only get 1GB free storage space with Picasa, and wanted me to spend money every month for more space. Personally I think that is absolute bollocks. So after going through a mental list of which family members I could guilt trip into buying me Google space for Christmas, I thought I’d just well, Google the issue. I’m glad I did because some helpful person pointed out that for some reason Google doesn’t count photos which are under 800 pixels as part of your storage.
This means that although it’s a bit of a faff, it’s still happy days because I can carry on blogging for free! Just open the photo in paint and click ‘resize’, and there’s a pixel option where you can set it to under 800. I hope this helps for anyone having the same issue, because it is a pain in the arrssse.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Gingerbread Brownie

It’s that time of year when everyone’s run out of money, deadlines are looming and you just need something a little Christmassy to see you through.

I wanted to use up ingredients that I had lying about and I wanted something that tasted ‘like Christmas’. I suppose adding nuts and fruit would make this more festive, but you know sometimes you just can’t be bothered with that nonsense.

So this is a recipe that I completely made up. As a result it’s a bit…weird. It’s sort of cakey in texture, but not, and not really like a brownie at all. It does taste like gingerbread though so hey ho that’s something. We poor people don’t judge, as long as it vaguely resembles a cake-type thing.
200g butter
150g milk chocolate
50g white chocolate
300g dark brown soft sugar
3 eggs
200g plain flour
1 tsp cocoa powder
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp mixed spice
½ tsp ground nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 170C/gas mark 4. Butter and line a rectangular tin with baking parchment.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over a gentle heat and cook for around 5 minutes until it turns golden brown. Cool for a few minutes before adding half of the milk chocolate. Leave it to melt for a bit before stirring until smooth. Leave to cool to the side.

Use an electric whisk to mix the brown sugar and eggs for about 3 minutes in a large mixing bowl.

Add the flour, cocoa and spices and fold in gently using a spatula.

Pour in the cooled chocolate butter.

Coarsely chop the rest of the milk chocolate and milk chocolate and stir into the mixture.

Pour into the tin then bake for 40-45 minutes until dark brown on top.

Leave to cool in the tin for a bit then transfer it to a wire rack. I haven’t actually tried this but I reckon a square would go down a treat with some hot custard.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Cinnamon and Nutella Cupcakes

I was going to make some sort of Halloweeny Cupcakes on Wednesday but I was too busy getting my zombie awnn. So instead I’ve gone for the Bonfire Night theme. These are adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe for a big hazelnut cake, but I couldn’t be bothered to go to the shop to buy nuts…
200g self-raising flour
175g caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
175g butter
3 eggs
4 tablespoons milk
4 tablespoons Nutella
For icing
Cream cheese
Icing Sugar
Preheat the oven to 180C. Line two muffin trays with cupcake cases.
In a large mixing bowl combine all the cake ingredients using an electric whisk.

Fill the cases ¾ of the way. Bake them in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until springy to the touch. Cool on a wire rack.

To make the icing, cream a nob of butter with a nob of cream cheese.

Add a big spoonful of Nutella, and then sift a small amount of cinnamon. Sift lots of icing sugar until the consistency is stiff enough to pipe.

Spoon the icing into a piping bag and pipe swirls on each cake, finishing with some chocolate sprinkles.

Eat one with a steaming cup of hot chocolate!