Valentine Cake Pop’s

The ginger cake pop’s I made at Christmas were really popular, so I have adapted the recipe for Valentines day. I ordered Wilton’s red candy melts with the intention of making red heart shaped pops, I melted the candy melts down but found the consistency to thick to cover the cake, adding liquid curdles the candy melts as they are oil based so as suggested I added a little oil to thin down, this just resulted in giving a horrible greasy taste to the chocolate coating. I ended up discarding the candy melts and going with 70% dark chocolate which worked perfectly. So Valentines cake pop’s turned out to be sweet hearts of chocolate fudge cake, coated in dark chocolate, a lovely home made gift for your Valentine.

I found getting the chocolate smooth on the Cake Pop’s, and to stop it dripping the difficult bit, if you want a quick fix leave out this step, instead put the pop’s on sticks and just dip the cake hearts in the melted chocolate, and leave to dry on grease proof paper, to make as truffles instead

Sweet heart Cake pop’s

1 Pack of Betty Crocker Fudge cake
150g dark chocolate
2x tbsp cream cheese frosting (see below)

Cream cheese frosting
50g softened butter
100g cream cheese (at room temperature)
250g icing sugar
1ts vanilla essence

First make the cream cheese frosting, whisk the softened butter until pale and smooth then add the dried and chopped ginger along with the syrup, whisk again briefly to combine. Sift in the icing sugar and mix to combine in to a smooth thick frosting, cover and leave to chill in the fridge. The frosting will keep well in the fridge in an air tight container.

For the Cake Hearts

Make up the fudge cake as per the packets instructions, bake and leave to cool.

Break up the cake in to pieces,  add to a food processor blitz until the cake forms a crumb consistency,  add  2tbsp of  frosting and mix with a spatula, the mixture should be thick like marzipan.

Line a large baking tray with grease proof paper, pat out the cake mix and cover with cling film, roll the mixture out on the sheet to 2cm in thickens.

Chill the mixture in the fridge for 20 minuets.

Using a heart shaped cutter stamp out the cake heart’s.

You will need  something ready to rest the cake pops in while the chocolate sets I used tumblers stuffed with some kitchen paper, if you have one a polystyrene block works really well as well.

Melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl over simmering water dip the tip of a lolly stick into the chocolate and secure into a cake heart pushing in about half way then place them back onto the baking tray and allow the chocolate to set.

Once the sticks are secure take a cake pop and dip into the melted chocolate making sure you cover the whole surface, lightly tap on the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate, be patient and allow the chocolate to drip off and keep turning the pop around to keep the surface smooth. Carefully secure in the prepared tumblers and top with sprinkles. Leave to dry.

Wrap in cellophane and tie with ribbon.

Gingerbread Men

Gingerbread men serve not only as a great decoration for any Christmas tree but baking them fills the house with the smell of Christmas. In my mind a gingerbread man need to be crisp, and spiced with ginger, not to soft, not cakey, the ones I remember from my childhood were hard enough to break a tooth on, that’s not what I want but there is as fine balance to be found. I tried out a few recipes and found the one using a lot of golden syrup or treacle in them went too hard, the recipe below was recommended to me by my dear friend Jody at Boolas Bakery and solved all my problems the little men turned out to be delicious.

Makes 15 – 20 biscuits

140g unsalted butter
100g dark muscovado sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup
350g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 tsp ground ginger and 1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of cayenne pepper

Royal icing
250g icing sugar
1egg white
1/2 tsp lemon juice

To make the icing sift the icing sugar into a bowl place the egg white in a separate bowl and add the icing sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon after each addition, stir in the lemon juice-you should be able to squeeze the icing through a piping bag with a fine nozzle attachment.

Heat oven to 200C gas 6 line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, spices, bicarbonate of soda.

Melt butter, sugar and syrup in a pan, add this to the dry ingredients. Mix together until the mixture forms a dough, leave to rest until just cool enough to touch. The cooler the dough gets the more difficult  it is to work with so work quickly.

On a floured work surface roll out the dough to about 5mm thick. Stamp out gingerbread men with a cutter, carefully  lift onto the baking sheets with a pallet knife, press the trimmings back together and roll out again. If you want to hang them on tree remember to use a straw to punch a hole in the top.

Bake for 12 mins until golden.

Leave to cool on the baking tray Ice faces on the gingerbread men to give them some personality, thread with ribbon and hang on the tree.


Mini Panettone’s

Now I didn’t love Panettone, until I had a good one, I think this is because I hate candied peel, and most seem to be full of it, but when the balance is right Panettone is a delicious treat and I can forgive a bit of peel (however I have left it completely out of my recipe). These mini Panettone’s are on my list of home- made goodies I will be giving to family and friends this Christmas and is pretty much a store cupboard recipe.

I used silicone rumbarba moulds bought from Habitat called poppy. I wanted a traditional scalloped shape to my Panettone in a mini form. You can easily use muffin tins or the recipe makes and large Panettone in an 8inch spring form cake tin, in both cases line with grease proof paper and brush the tops with egg and milk wash before baking. A large Panettone may need 10 minutes adding to it’s baking time.

Sunflower oil for greasing
125g dried mixed fruit
grated zest of 1 lemon
grated zest of 1 orange
1 tbsp Grand Marnier

125ml of milk
1 level tbsp active dried yeast
50g caster sugar
450g strong white bread flour
1/2 salt
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk beaten
1tbsp honey
2tsp vanilla extract
75g butter, softened

Put the fruit in a bowl and cover with boiling water leave to soak while you make the dough

Heat the milk until warm to touch, remove from the heat and add the yeast and 1 tsp of the sugar, mix well and leave to activate about 5 minuets, the mixture will form a thick foam on top.

In a large mixing bowl add the flour remaining sugar and salt. Make a well in the centre, add the milk and yeast mixture, beaten egg, honey, vanilla, Grand Marnier and butter mix first with a wooden spoon to bring together, and the with your hands to form a smooth soft dough mix for about 5 minuets.

Drain the fruit and pat dry with kitchen paper, add to the dough along with the lemon and orange zest, mix through the dough until well distributed, turn the dough out on to a floured work surface and knead for 1 minute, shape in to a ball place back in the mixing bowl cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place of 40 minutes or until doubled in size.

When risen turn out on to a floured work surface and knead again for 1 minute divide up and place into the tins cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise of 1-1 1/2 hours in a warm place. Per heat oven to 170 c 325F gas 3

Bake in the bottom third of the oven for 30 minutes.

Leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

Wrap in cellophane and ribbon for great homemade gifts.