Carrot Cake Muffins

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I tried these before Christmas as a wonderful friend challenged me to make something like this (they will be sent to her shortly after this post is published). They are nutty, spicy and not at all dry. One thing I would say is be careful not to over mix. If you do the texture will be too close and the muffins could turn out small and tough. But a really simple recipe and quick too.

Ingredients:
280g Self raising flour
1tbsp Baking powder
1tsp Ground mixed spice
Pinch of salt
120g Soft brown sugar
200g Grated carrots
50g Walnuts
50g raisins
6tbsp Sunflower oil
2 Eggs
175ml Milk
Grated rind and juice of an orange

Equipment:
I used paper muffin cases and they always work well. You could use silicon ones if you have them. You’ll also need a 12 muffin baking tray.
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Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius or 190 if you have a fan oven. Sift together the dry ingredients – the flour, baking powder, mixed spice and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the sugar, walnuts, carrots and raisins.

In another bowl mix all the wet ingredients – the eggs, oil, milk, orange juice and rind. Make a well in the dry ingredients and slowly mix in the wet. Don’t mix it too much. If you’re using a mixer keep an eye on it and only use a slow setting.

Once it’s just come together pour into the muffin cases. Make sure you fill them to the top! Bake for a good twenty minutes until risen and golden brown. Leave to cool for five mins in the tin the turn out onto a wire rack to cool. The green leaves are just royal icing if you choose to make them. Use a cocktail stick to make the stem.

A Take on the Manhattan

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I will say straight away that this is not a traditional Mahattan! I got the Savoy Cocktail book for Christmas and was flicking through when I found this. They use the highest quality spirits. I just use what I can find! It’s one of my favourite cocktails. This is not a true Manhattan. But the basic recipe is open to interpretation and I think it’s pretty tasty. The only thing I think you should definitely have which I didn’t for this was some morello cherries. One in the bottom of the glass will finish it off nicely!

Ingredients:
1/3 French vermouth
2/3 Southern comfort
2 Dashes of angostura bitters
Ice (for the shaker)
Morello cherries (for the finish)

Equipment:
Can be drank from any glass! If you don’t have a cocktail shaker just use a cup or beaker that has a lid, something you can shake. Just use a spoon to stop the ice from getting into the glass. As for the measures just use the same container (a cup or shot mearsure) but make sure it’s the same one. I use a medium sized glass if I’m making a few.

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Add the ice to the shaker then pour in the spirits. Add the dash of bitters but be careful. Too many drops will overpower the cocktail. Give it a good shake then pour it into a glass holding the ice back. Drop a cherry in to suffuse in the bottom of the glass. Drink slowly and enjoy 🙂

Scones

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I must admit that I didn’t think scones would be a difficult thing to make. But this a photo of the second batch! Also, there are so many ways to make scones. I have gone for a basic recipe here, but it is such a flexible recipe you can add or take away whatever you want. The problem I had with the first batch was size and oven time. They came out small and under baked. Hopefully the recipe below with my second batch will make better eating. They were certainly well received at work. Clotted cream and strawberry jam is the best addition to a scone but you can have them with anything you want. This is a recipe for sweet scones, for savoury just take out the sugar. have a go and enjoy! Makes about 15 scones.

Ingredients:
450g Plain white flour
250ml Milk (plus extra for brushing)
55g Unsalted butter
2tsp Baking powder
A pinch of salt
1tbsp Caster sugar
100g Raisins or Sultanas

Equipment:
You need a 7cm cutter for this recipe here, but the size can be whatever you want. This cutter makes small/medium scones.

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Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (fan assisted). Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together into a bowl. Then rub the butter in lightly with your fingers until it feels like bread crumbs. Stir in the sugar. Mix in the raisins/sultanas and make a well in the middle of the bowl. Pour in the milk and slowly mix until it comes together.

Then get your hands in. Make the dough into a ball, but don’t overwork it otherwise it will get tough. Turn out onto a floured surface. Don’t worry if the dough is sticky. The floured surface will handle it and it makes a good dough. Roll out until about 2cm thick and cut out as many scones as you can. Place them on a lined baking tray. Keep bringing the dough together and roll out so that you use it all up.

Brush the finished scones with milk and bake in the middle of the oven for 18-20mins or until golden. Let them cool on a wire rack and once cold get to eating them!

A take on the Daiquiri Cocktail

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We were celebrating a good friend’s birthday this week and decided to get the shaker out and have a cocktail. James bought me the Savoy cocktail recipe book for Christmas and I’ve been itching to try it out. Flicking through I decided a daiquiri was easy enough and flexible in terms of adding extra flavours (which consequently I did). The basic recipe is something you can add anything to. I say use the base recipe and go for it!

The ingredients are per cocktail.

Ingredients:
1 Glass of Bacardi rum
1/2 the juice of a lemon (or 1/4 of a lime)
1tbsp Caster sugar
A good glug of grenadine
Lots of ice

Equipment:
Having a cocktail shaker is obviously an asset in making cocktails. But you can use a beaker or tumblr that you can seal so you can give it a good shake! For measurements, if you aren’t using a proper cocktail shaker then make sure you use the same glass for all the measurements.

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Squeeze the lemon or lime into the bottom of the shaker. Add ice to the shaker and the glass you will pour the finished cocktail into.

Add the glass of rum, the caster sugar and the glug of grenadine to the shaker. Although you could add anything for the flavoured daiquiri you want, or leave it out if you like.

Give it a good shake. Take the ice out of the serving glass and strain into the glass. I used martini glasses but you could use whatever you wanted it would still taste the same!

Get it as cold as you can and enjoy. Be warned though, they are really boozy!

Chocolate Cake

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First attempt at a chocolate cake! Trying to get more cakes and such under my belt. This was also the first time that I have used the new mixer and I must say it does make a quicker cake. I decided to put double cream in the centre to balance out the dark chocolate in the ganache.

Ingredients:
For the cake:

60g Dark chocolate
50g Milk chocolate
200g Self-raising flour
30g cocoa powder (I used good drinking chocolate)
A pinch of salt
175g Unsalted butter
60g Light brown muscovado sugar
110g Caster sugar
4 Large eggs
3tbsp Milk
1tsp baking powder

For the ganache:

150g Milk chocolate
150g Dark chocolate
300ml Double cream

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Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line two 20cm sandwich tins with a disc of grease proof paper and grease the sides.

Melt the chocolate for the cake and let cool (you can do this over a bain marie or I usually do it for small amounts or time in the microwave until melted). Then tend to the dry ingredients.

In a bowl, sift the flower with the cocoa and the salt. I chose the all in one method because I was using the mixer and whacked it up on full. Add all the ingredients to the mixer and mix until fully combined. If you don’t have a mixer, cream the butter with the sugars and beat in the melted chocolate. Add the eggs and the fold in a third of the flower and a tbsp of milk. Repeat until all the ingredients are all gone.

Halve the mixture and put each in one of the tins. Bake for thirty mins until firm and a knife goes through clean. Take out of the oven and leave to cool in the tins. Then turn out onto a wire rack.

Whilst it’s cooling, make the ganache. Heat the double cream until just bubbling. Chop the chocolates finely and put in a bowl. Once the cream is heated through add it to the bowl until the chocolate is melted and mixed through. Leave to cool.

Whisk the cream up until thickened and spreadable. Don’t go too far or it will be too stiff to use. Spread on one of the cakes and sandwich the other on top. Spread the ganache onto the cake and round the sides. Make sure the ganache is thick on the sides so you don’t streak the cream through the chocolate. We put chocolate curls on top too for extra indulgence!

Now go have a huge wedge with a cup of tea and enjoy.