Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's Christmas Time, Chocolate Cake & Wine!

It's hard to believe that we are back into the Christmas season once again, seems to have been the quickest year ever but I seem to remember making the very same comment last year! We love Christmas in our house but tend not to decorate until December is well underway just so the sheen isn't gone off all the lovely decorations by the time Christmas day rolls around. We always have Christmas at home and I enjoy having my mother and brother each year to help us celebrate the day. I adore the whole planning and preparation of the Christmas dinner and I especially love having a full table of family and food! My mother would not be in the least bit happy if there wasn't a trifle produced for dessert so I always make one exactly as she has done for all of her married life, I always eat it but its not my most favourite dessert in the world. My husband however being a very food fickle man wouldn't even contemplate a bowl of trifle so I always make a separate dessert for him and I think this year this cake will be it!

I bought a lovely book on Saturday called "The Mixing Bowl" which is a collection of recipes gathered from the residents of a care unit and hospice in Harolds Cross. It is such a lovely nostalgic read as each recipe comes with a little story about the resident. In a way it is nice to think that in keeping a blog all of our favourite recipes are catalogued for our children to dip into and see a snippet of what life was like when they were up to their eyes playing nintendos and squabbling! The cake I made today was a recipe from Margaret Linnane and I can see why it was a family favourite, it's very rich so bear in mind that a small slice goes a long way.


  • 175g self raising flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 110g plain chocolate
  • 175g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 180 degrees and line/grease two sandwich tins
Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until smooth
Melt the chocolate and beat into the butter mixture
Beat in the egg yolks and milk
Sieve the flour and cocoa powder into the mixture and fold in
Whisk the egg whites until stiff then fold in
Divide between the two tins and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until skewer comes out clean
Turn onto wire racks and allow to cool completely

Chocolate Icing
  • 175g icing sugar
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 40g butter
  • 2tbsp water
Melt the butter, caster sugar and water in a saucepan on a low heat until runny, stirring continuously
Pour this onto sieved icing sugar and cocoa powder and mix well
Spread onto the top of one of the cooled cake layers then place second layer on top and cover completely
Serve as it is, with some fresh cream or decorate as follows.

This is a very misleading way of decorating a cake as it looks so impressive but is actually hugely simple! All that is required is a little bit of patience and some personal restraint as it is so hard not to nibble on a kit kat finger or two or three or four while you are decorating! For the cake above you will need 8 bars of kit kat and a 300g bag of M&M's. While the icing is still sticky stick individual kit kat fingers all around the outside of your cake and secure with a nice ribbon. Pour the sweets on top. Not very technical but so pretty looking! I was delighted to spot a bag of festive red and green M&M's to use but really you could use anything your heart desires!

Remember though a little goes a long long way as it is rich and dense but oh so delicious. So now I am in the Christmas spirit I am off now to root out my favourite Christmas album, you can't beat The Rat Pack! Anyone for eggnog? (Not quite sure what eggnog is and doesn't sound even slightly appealing so please don't say 'yes'!)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A New Arrival!

One husband, three children and one dog make for a very busy Ryan household. I thought there wasn't any more room in the house or love in my heart for a new arrival but I was actually wrong. Monday afternoon I was delighted to receive the newest addition to the clan, Mrs Kenwood Premier Chef! I have been thinking about one of these babies for months and am now thrilled that I have one on proud view in my kitchen.

My brother was on a flying visit from the Netherlands this week and I wanted to make a nice big pavlova to serve after a nice family dinner. @likemamuse2bake provided me with an excellent recipe which guaranteed a marshmallow interior and a crisp exterior, exactly what a pavlova should be! I whizzed it up in my kenwood in less than ten minutes which was a vast improvement on my usual method.

Ingredients for base
  • 5 egg whites
  • 7oz caster sugar
  • 1tsp vinegar
  • 2tsp cornflour

Preheat oven to 150 degrees
Line a baking tray with parchment
Whisk the egg whites till soft peaks form
Add sugar a spoonful at a time while whisking until stiff and glossy
Fold in cornflour and vinegar gently
Spoon onto tray into a rectangular shape or however you desire
Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until it lifts away from parchment
Cool in oven

Just before dinner was ready I whisked 250ml of cream to which I had added 2tbsp of hazelnut flavoured Baileys. I spread this over the cooled meringue base and then scattered over 100g of toasted mixed chopped nuts and 50g of dark grated chocolate. I loved the different textures and the crunch of the nuts against the smoothness of the cream was delicious. This will definitely be making an appearance on the Ryan Christmas table this year and was a fitting way to christen the newest arrival!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Glass Jars of Chocolate Caramel Yumminess!

Pat Whelan (@Pat_Whelan) posted a link yesterday to a site which had loads of brilliant ideas for using jamjars in unusual ways. I love using my spare pots as candle holders or to serve little desserts in but when I spotted cupcakes being baked in the oven in glass jars it opened my eyes! Loads of American bloggers seem to be experts at this form of baking so I decided to give it a shot using my foolproof chocolate muffin mixture. This is actually my mams recipe and it is so easy, quick and only uses four ingredients, five if you want the chocolate version which is compulsory with my sons and husband! This is exactly the recipe you need if you don't want to go shopping specifically for ingredients as they are all store cupboard favourites. I added a teaspoon of homemade caramel sauce to give it an extra little layer of taste and moistness.

Easy Chocolate Muffins (makes enough for 8 glenilen pots and 6 muffins)

8 oz margarine
8 oz caster sugar
4 eggs
10 oz self raising flour
1 oz cocoa powder
14 tsp of caramel sauce (optional)

Preheat oven to 180c
Lightly butter the glass jars
Cream the margarine and sugar together then add one egg at a time and mix well
Sieve flour and cocoa powder and mix lightly into wet mixture
Spoon into the glass jars until half full and put remainder into muffin cases
If using put the caramel sauce onto a layer of muffin mixture and then cover with another layer
Bake in oven for 15/20 minutes till skewer comes out clean
Allow to cool fully as the glass will remain very warm before indulging!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's Mojito Time!

Staying in seems to be the new going out in our house, there is nothing we like better than having a group of friends over for some nice food and drinks. We have an arrangement that I look after the food end of things and hubs provides the entertainment, he can't sing or dance very well but he still manages to do a good job of it! Last night we had some friends over for an Indian themed evening, elephants on the table, loads of candles in jamjars and punjabi music all added to the atmosphere and of course the gorgeous wafts of Indian spices coming from the kitchen helped tantalize the taste buds. Two of my favourite flavours are mint and lime so these featured in a lot of my dishes and to complement the flavours I served jugs of Mojitos, I know they are not Indian but they are very refreshing to have with spicy food and have great flavour when freshly made. We had poppadoms, onion bhajis and pakoras to start, for mains we had chana masala, creamy chicken korma, bombay potatoes and lime basmati rice and last but not least my favourite part of any meal is always dessert and for this I made delicious white chocolate mojito pots. I surpassed myself with these little beauties, they were luscious!

White Chocolate Mojito Pots

500g mascarpone cheese
275g white chocolate
Juice and zest of 1 lime
2 tbsp white rum

Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a pot of water, take off the heat before completely melted and keep stirring until smooth.
Beat the mascarpone cheese into the chocolate until really well combined, add the finely grated zest and juice of the lime and the white rum and mix.
Spoon into pots (I used 6 of the glenilen yoghurt glass pots).
Refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours to allow to set completely.

I decorated my little pots with some fresh mint leaves that I had dipped in melted dark chocolate and allowed to set on baking paper and also some more lime zest. They looked so impressive and despite the lusciousness it was a lovely fresh taste to finish off a spicy meal. Have another get together planned for early December so need to get my thinking cap on to see what theme I will go with then!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Swirly Lemon Curd and Chocolate Buns

I have been meaning to make these buns since @donalskehan posted a version on his blog a number of months ago. Sweet dough flattened and spread with a filling of your choice before rolling, slicing, baking and eating. The original version uses a cinnamon butter as a filling but amazingly one of my friends doesn't like cinnamon so I had a look in my cupboard and came up with a lemon curd and chopped dark chocolate filling which was luscious and sinful. I love lemon curd and dark chocolate so this was a win win combination for me and my friend!


200ml milk
2oz butter
7g dried yeast
2oz sugar
375g cream flour
pinch of salt
4 tbsp brown sugar
1 egg beaten

For the filling;
100g lemon curd
100g dark chocolate, chopped


Melt the butter over a low heat before adding the milk
When this is lukewarm remove from the heat and add the yeast, the 2oz of sugar and salt
Slowly add the flour until the mixture forms a dough, turn onto floured surface and knead for 3 minutes
Leave to rise in a greased bowl, covered, for 45 minutes
When dough has risen roll out into a rectangular shape
Spread the lemon curd on top and sprinkle over the chocolate

From the long side roll the dough to form a swiss roll shape before slicing into 12 pieces.
Place in muffin cases, brush tops with beaten egg and sprinkle over the brown sugar
Bake in a preheated 220 degree oven for 10 minutes or until they are golden on top
Leave to cool on wire racks

These delightful buns are best eaten on the day they are made but if you do have any leftover just give them a quick reheat in the microwave for a couple of seconds to freshen up the dough before enjoying with a nice cup of coffee and sharing with friends.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

And the winner is.....

Thank you all so much for entering my competition and for all the lovely comments! 55 entries altogether which was fabulous! So after a row between the boys about who was picking the number and with an independent observer present the winner is @michaeltwomeybutcher ! Send me on your address so I can post your prize! :-)

Makes one feel posh dipping biscotti in espresso!

Its a well known fact among my friends that I love all things posh. Fancy candles that I never light, fresh coffee, a pineapple in my fruit bowl* and 80% cocoa chocolate in my press! Of course I am writing this in jest with my tongue firmly in my cheek but I do love a bit of posh! My hubs knowing me inside out recently bought me a lovely stove top coffee pot and I am enjoying brewing my daily coffee with it, always love to have something nice with it and what could be more authentic than a biscotti. There seems to be a huge amount of recipes on the world wide web for them but Nigella never lets me down so I used her lovely recipe from Feast.

  • 1 egg
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • few drops almond essence
  • 125g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 50g blanched almonds
  • 75g dark chocolate chips (Obviously I used high % cocoa chocolate and chopped it up!)


Preheat oven to 180 degrees
Whisk egg and sugar till it falls in ribbons from whisk
Beat in vanilla and almond essence
Fold in flour, salt and baking powder slowly in batches
Fold in almonds and chocolate
Pat dough into a log like shape and place on baking parchment on baking tray

Bake for 25 minutes or until golden
Leave cool for 5 minutes then slice diagonally
Place back in oven on parchment for 10 minutes then turn and bake for further 5 minutes
Cool on wire rack
Make coffee and dunk!

I felt very sophisticated sitting at my breakfast bar drinking my coffee and nibbling my biscotti. Try the recipe and you can feel posh too!

*are pineapples posh?? :-)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Little competition to say thank you!

I am a bit of a twitter addict. Actually replace bit with huge. I love the interaction, the fun and the humour of all my twitter pals. I was inspired by all the foodie tweeters to start my own blog and I love to see my stats and am amazed by how widespread my readers are! Trinidad & Tobago, South Africa, Australia, America and Russia all regularly dip in! I love finding new things to bake and write about and I love reading other blogs and getting inspiration from them. I have had almost 5000 hits and to celebrate am having a little giveaway. Most of us are Jamie Oliver fans and I have a copy of his new book "Jamies Great Britain" and a little surprise to give away. To enter just leave a comment below, tweet me or facebook me by Sunday 6th November and I will enter you into the hat. Will get one of the kids to pick out the winner so there will be no cheating! Thank you all for your fabulous company and for all the lovely comments I have received!