Pecan Popcorn Custers with Smoked Salt, Dark Chocolate and Caramel

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These popcorn clusters are really simple to put together and would make for an apt post-firework snack (in fact, covered entirely in chocolate they could look a little like coal!). Think of them as the boujee sister of the rice crispie cake, with bonfire night inspired flavours making them feel a little more grown up.

  • Roughly 125g corn kernels (or 90g plain popcorn- popped weight)
  • 2tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil (omit this if you’re using ready popped corn)
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 75g pecans
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • generous pinch smoked salt

Method

  1. Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper. Have another piece of greaseproof paper handy,
  2. If you’re popping your own kernels, put a large lidded pan on a medium/high heat and add the oil. Once the oil is hot, put a couple of kernels in and wait for them to pop. Once they’ve popped you know your oil is ready, so add the remaining kernels and put the lid on. You’ll hear lots of popping for a few minutes, but once it slows turn the heat off and set aside until it completely stops, then remove the lid and leave to cool. It’s a good idea to shake the pan occasionally during the popping process to avoid any catching on the base of the pan.
  3. Put the sugar in a heavy bottomed pan and heat gently until completely melted, swirling (but not stirring) the pan occasionally. Once the sugar has melted increase the heat and take the caramel to a golden brown colour, then add in the butter and melt until combined (careful, it will spit a little!). Set aside to cool slightly, then transfer the popcorn into a large mixing bowl along with the pecans and a generous pinch of smoked salt. Mix briefly. Tip the caramel into the bowl and, working quickly, stir to coat the popcorn and pecans before tipping the mix onto the prepared tray.
  4. Press the mix down using the spare greaseproof paper and a tea towel (it will be quite hot) to make a compact even layer. Set aside to cool and firm up.
  5. Once crisp, break the popcorn into rough pieces. Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water) then dip the pieces in, or drizzle it over, if you prefer. Finish with a little more smoked salt then leave to set for about half an hour. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Cookies

Biscuits

These take no time to make and are my personal guilty pleasure; you can’t beat a chewy peanut butter cookie studded with white chocolate chips!

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For these cookies you will need: 260g plain flour, 1tsp bicarbonate soda, pinch salt, 80g butter, 80g peanut butter, 150g dark brown soft sugar, 150g caster sugar, 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, 250g white chocolate chips (or white chocolate roughly chopped)

Preheat the oven to 180 and line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and caster sugar into a large mixing bowl.

Melt the butter, peanut butter and dark soft sugar in a saucepan. Allow to cool a little then add the egg yolk and egg. Whisk together until smooth.

Add the egg and butter mix to the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly to form a soft but firm cookie dough. Mix through the white chocolate evenly.

Roll heaped tbsp amounts of the dough into balls and place onto the prepared trays, ensuring that you leave space for spreading.

Bake for 10-15 minutes for a soft chewy centre. They will be very soft when you remove them from the oven so leave on the tray for a little while to allow them to firm up before eating!

Enjoy!

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Carrot and Ginger Loaf Cake

Cakes

This loaf cake is really light and zingy; I developed the recipe as a bit of a change from all the heavy fruit cakes and chocolatey bakes we’ve been eating over Christmas (not that this is health food by any means!). Try it out- it’s really easy to make but still looks impressive!DSCN9200

To make the cake, you will need: 200g grated carrot, 4 pieces stem ginger (grated), 2 eggs, 200ml vegetable oil, 150g caster sugar, 50g light brown soft sugar, 250g plain flour, 2tsp baking powder, pinch salt, 1tsp cinnamon, 1tsp mixed spice, 1tsp ground ginger, zest 1 lemon, 2tbsp greek yogurt.

Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a loaf tin.

Whisk together the eggs, oil, light brown sugar, salt and lemon zest in a jug.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the caster sugar, plain flour, baking powder and spices. Make a well in the centre and pour in the egg mixture. Using a wooden spoon, beat the wet into the dry until fully incorporated and smooth.

Add the greek yoghurt and stir thoroughly to loosen the consistency. Add the grated carrot and ginger and mix in.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 30-35 minutes.

When the cake is golden brown (or a skewer comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached) it is ready. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then remove from the tin and cool completely on a wire rack.

For the frosting and decoration, you will need: juice 1 lemon, 250g cream cheese, 1tbsp icing sugar, zest 1 lemon, crystallised ginger, lime zest.

While the cake is cooling, pierce lots of holes in the surface. Pour the lemon juice over so it seeps through the holes. Set aside.

In a small bowl beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar and lemon zest. Spread over the top of the cake (it must be cool to do this) and sprinkle chopped ginger and lime zest down the centre.

Slice up and serve (this cake is even better after a couple of days- if it lasts that long!).

Enjoy!