Snapshots from my week

Happy Friday, friends!

Last Friday we got some really terrible news, our poor Brownie died at the vets where she was having treatment for a rare condition called AIHA. We buried her the next day and plan to get a rose or some other pretty bush to plant over her grave.

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It’s so sad and surreal that she’s not here anymore or getting the chance to grow up like most other kittens. When Marty our tuxedo cat died very suddenly last year I thought that the only thing worst would be for a kitten to die, and now that has happened. 

 At the weekend I baked some of my Millie’s Cookies so I could update the photography on the recipe for y’all! Hopefully the new ones will be an improvement! I also noticed that canned pumpkin is currently on offer in Tesco (£1.50 for nearly 400g) – until Sunday. You can bake SO many delicious things with pumpkin – some of my favourites are these muffins and this pumpkin chocolate chip bread. 

I also received two lovely packages this weekend! Sweet Success sent me a Christmas Cake kit, containing everything you need to ‘make’ your own Christmas cake, including the cake, marzipan, fondant, ribbons and decorations, a cake board and a box! They’re selling the kit in their shop in Nottingham for £10 if any local folk are interested! Do you go in for making  your own fruit cakes for Christmas? Personally I don’t love the flavour, so it’s not something I’d consider making myself, but it was actually really fun decorating it myself – it would be a great thing to do with kids. 

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I also received an exciting package from Biscuiteers – their DIY decorations tin! I was so excited and jumped about like a child! I set about decorating them on a rainy grey sunday while listening to Christmas songs! What do you think?

 

I’ve noticed recently that Bella has learned how to open the drawers that we were keeping the cat treats in by pushing them from the back – she was then grabbing the treats, biting through the bags, and gobbling them up! She is about the greediest cat I think I’ve ever seen. We’ve now relocated the treats and hopefully she won’t figure out how to open the cupboard! She can also open a shut door – maybe she is pretty smart! 

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On Wednesday I went over to Helen’s house for a delicious dinner with my girlfriends. We enjoyed veggie chilli baked in peppers (I’ve tried to do baked peppers a few times but never terribly successfully) and it was realllly tasty. We had Haagan Das Salted Caramel Ice Cream with popping candy for dessert, which was absolutely delicious! It would taste so good on top of warm chocolate brownies!

Thursday evening I was invited out to review the newly refurbished Malt Cross in Nottingham. It’s a beautiful space, a former Victorian music hall that’s had many incarnations over the years, with a gorgeous vaulted ceiling, and a gorgeous craft shop too! I’ll bring you the full review soon!

This weekend I’m putting up my Christmas decorations! I have to also confess that I’ve been listening to Christmas songs already, but with all the sadness and stress lately I’ve needed cheering up! 

I’m also trying out the brunch menu at Missoula Montana this Sunday (red velvet waffles, anyone?), after which I’m heading to the Christmas Cake Club! Um, possibly not a healthy day! I really need to try to eat better the rest of December to balance (somewhat!) all the extra cakes.

I’m making Snickerdoodle cupcakes with cute Christmas tree decorations! What are you up to this weekend? Any baking or Christmas decorating?

 

x Kerry

 

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Let’s Make Christmas! Ten Easy Homemade Gift Idea’s {and a Giveaway!}

Let’s Make Christmas! Ten fabulously easy, simple and inexpensive ideas for indulgent Christmas food treats to package up and give to friends and family. Homemade is so much better than shop bought!

Let's Make Christmas! Ten Easy Homemade Gift Idea's | kerrycooks.com

It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas round here! Oooh I love this time of year! In the run up to Christmas every year I get really excited about what food gifts to make for my friends and family. I especially love making things that are festively cute, and can be easily packaged up into pretty bags and tied with a Christmas ribbon!

Since you don’t have much time this time of year (or any of the year, who are we kidding!), I thought I’d save you time by bringing you a round-up of my favourite Christmas food gifts. I have a few criteria – they must be easy to make, but impressive, and the ingredients can’t cost a fortune. The best value gift is probably the Chocolate Snowballs, and you could easily add a bit of rum or kahluha to make them even more delicious…

Let's Make Christmas! Ten Easy Homemade Gift Idea's | kerrycooks.com

Click on the headings to go to the recipes!

Cookie Dough Peanut Butter Cup Pretzel Bark

Chocolate bark is one of the easiest, yet most impressive food gifts out there! It’s simply melted chocolate (you can do white, milk, or dark, or a combination / layers) which you spread out on a sheet of parchment paper on a baking tray. Dot your recipients favourite things on top – whether it be cut up bounty bars and maltesers, booze soaked raisins, or peanut butter cups (I went for cookie dough and pretzels in the bark above!). Or for an extra festive version, use red and green M&Ms and Christmas sprinkles. Cool, cut into large pieces and package in a gorgeous bag. They will think you went to loads of effort, but we’ll know the truth!

Let's Make Christmas! Ten Easy Homemade Gift Idea's | kerrycooks.com

White Chocolate Rocky Road

Just as easy to make as bark, I LOVE the festive colours of this strawberry white chocolate version. Gorgeous and delicious! I’ll be making something similar for New Year’s eve to share with you all – I can’t wait!

Let's Make Christmas! Ten Easy Homemade Gift Idea's | kerrycooks.com

Christmas Tree Brownie Pops

I just love these  brownie pops by my creative friend Liana at My Sugar Coated Life. This would be such a lot of fun to do with kids! You could wrap two or three up and secure a bag around the base of the straw – voila, a gift bouquet of brownie pops!

 Let's Make Christmas! Ten Easy Homemade Gift Idea's | kerrycooks.com

 Chocolate Coconut Snowballs

I made these last Christmas as a food gift for my friends (if you know me in real life you will always, always get an edible gift from me!) and I just loved them. They are so ridiculously easy to make, would be great to do with kids (there’s really no way to mess them up) and they’re cheap to make too! Plus they look like snowballs. Oh, and they taste like a delicious bounty truffle!

Let's Make Christmas! Ten Easy Homemade Gift Idea's | kerrycooks.com

Lemon Pistachio Wreaths

 Oh my gosh. These cookies are just so adorable. They’ve been on my to bake list for a couple of Christmas’s and I really need to get around to them soon! They’d be easy to make if you have some different sized circular fluted cookie cutters like these, and the delicious lemon and pistachio would be really fresh and yummy.

Let's Make Christmas! Ten Easy Homemade Gift Idea's | kerrycooks.com

Reese’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

 This easy foolproof fudge recipe is just my favourite. You can use the base to make any kind of flavour you like – Bounty fudge, S’mores fudge, white chocolate gingerbread fudge, baileys fudge, the possibilities are endless! Oh, and it takes about ten minutes to make!

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Christmas Tree Cookies

 Oh oh I love these cookies. They’re so easy and tasty and you could use the same idea to make christmas star, snowflake or stockings in the middle of the cookie. Adorable!

Let's Make Christmas! Ten Easy Homemade Gift Idea's | kerrycooks.com

Chocolate Covered Oreo’s and Marshmallows

 Really the easiest of the easy, these are simply jumbo marshmallows dipped in white chocolate and sprinkles! The oreo’s are a little more involved – lollypop sticks are popped into oreo’s and they’re then dipped in chocolate and topped with Christmas sprinkles. SO cute.

Let's Make Christmas! Ten Easy Homemade Gift Idea's | kerrycooks.com

Triple Chocolate Brownie Cookies

 Give these as a Christmas gift and your friends will love you forever. They are the MOST chocolatey thing I think I’ve ever consumed. Definitely a must for any known chocoholics in your life!

Let's Make Christmas! Ten Easy Homemade Gift Idea's | kerrycooks.com

Gingerbread Cupcakes

 These are a little more effort, but they taste SO good! Aromatic gingerbread cupcakes are paired with fresh, creamy cream cheese frosting, and each one is topped with a mini gingerbread man! You could buy the gingerbread men from the supermarket if you prefer to make things simpler.

Packaging your treats!

This year I’m using these snowflake print bags from Lakeland, and their selection of Christmas ribbons to tie them. They have plain ones too which I usually use (like when I made my friends wedding favours back in October!).

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I’m also using these metallic sharpies to write out my tags and cards. Does anyone else still get super excited about pens, but specifically, metallic shades? Just me?!

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 Giveaway time!

I love working with Lakeland, and I was really excited when they offered me three of these Fairy Tale Village Moulds for my readers! Aren’t they just so cute?

You can use them to make amazing gingerbread houses, either with biscuit, or with chocolate. They are absolutely adorable! Just look at the amazing chocolate Christmas house my friend Liana of My Sugar Coated Life made last year (and she’s making more and doing a tutorial this year, hurrah!).

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I’ll just wait here while you gasp in awe! Could it be any more beautiful? Probably not right. Although I bet a few people will be making Frozen versions this year…

Lakeland have been kind enough to give me three to give away, worth £11.99 each! To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post and tell me which of these festive treats you’d love to receive this year! Be sure to include an email address you check often so I can contact you if you win!

Giveaway runs until Tuesday 2nd December at midnight, after which time I’ll pick three commenters at random – you have to have your mould well in time for Christmas! Thanks to Lakeland for their generosity!

 Please note – the giveaway is only open to people in the United Kingdom.

Need more Christmas baking inspiration? There’s about a lifetimes worth here! 

Follow Kerry {KerryCooks.com}’s board Christmas treats on Pinterest.

 

 Happy festive baking, friends!

 

x Kerry

 

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Christmas Tree Cookies

 Sugar cut-out cookies take on a whole new life with these inventive cookies made with a simple and delicious vanilla sugar cookie dough.

 I love these simple Christmas Tree Cookies - so great for baking with kids this Christmas!

I love these simple Christmas Tree Cookies - so great for baking with kids this Christmas!

I love these simple Christmas Tree Cookies - so great for baking with kids this Christmas!

I love these simple Christmas Tree Cookies - so great for baking with kids this Christmas!

Don’t want to spend hours outlining, flooding, and decorating cookies with royal icing to get a pretty decorated effect? You need my easy cutout cookies! It’s so simple to colour a portion of the dough with gel food colouring and then play jigsaw with a Christmas tree cutter (here’s mine!). 

These cookies are a great testament to what the mind can dream up when it’s not otherwise occupied. I had the idea for them (as well as some forthcoming cupcakes!) while at a boring just not my kind of music gig with Lee. I was thinking about new and exciting christmas baking ideas that are things I haven’t done before. In fairness, Lee won my heart during an indie/alternative (now admitted) phase, and then moved onto liking some much more shouty music, while I still like indie/alternative/folk and a bit of pop!

Simple vanilla sugar cookies are ideal for so many situations! They’re delicious with a cup of tea and hold their shape really well with lots of room for sprinkles and frosting. In the past I’ve played around with royal icing (lovely Bridget at Bake at 350 makes the most incredible iced cookies!) to decorate cookies, which looks stunning, but is quite time consuming. It’s right for a really special occasion, but not for everyday biscuits in my book. 

Half of the cookie dough is easily coloured forest green by adding about a third of a teaspoon of green gel food colouring (it’s the same stuff I use to make my Rainbow Cake!). I often get mine from eBay for a couple of pounds, or you can try your local cake decorating shop.You can wear clean rubber gloves if you’re worried about your hand getting a bit green, and just gently knead the colouring into the dough. It will go tie-dye at first, but keep kneading until the colour is completely even and the dough is a forest green colour.

I got my small Christmas tree cookie cutters from eBay – they were just £1 for three! To ensure that the cookies don’t stick to the cutter, dip the cutter into the flour between each cookie. Assembling these cookies is so easy – simply cut large circular cookies out of the vanilla dough, and then use your Christmas tree cutter to cut a christmas tree shaped hole in the centre, into which you’ll pop a Christmas tree cut out of the green coloured dough. It’s actually incredibly easy – they just slot into each other, and once they bake, since the cookies expand, they’ll be completely one cookie!

The thing I love most about these cookies is that the fun cut out idea saves you from doing any fancy and time consuming cookie decorating royal icing (like the cookies below) which are from my Pinterest board. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE the way they look, but these cookies are so much easier and more fun to make.

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Image via

 Your Christmas tree cookies would be absolutely gorgeous plain, but I made mine even more festive with a few sprinkles and some edible glitter. 

Christmas Tree Cookies
Yields 12
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
15 min
437 calories
55 g
82 g
21 g
6 g
13 g
99 g
19 g
24 g
1 g
7 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
99g
Yields
12
Amount Per Serving
Calories 437
Calories from Fat 188
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 21g
33%
Saturated Fat 13g
65%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 82mg
27%
Sodium 19mg
1%
Total Carbohydrates 55g
18%
Dietary Fiber 1g
5%
Sugars 24g
Protein 6g
Vitamin A
13%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
3%
Iron
4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 250g / 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  2. 250g / 1 cup plus one heaped tablespoon caster or golden caster sugar
  3. 2 large free range eggs
  4. 500g / 4 cups sifted plain flour
  5. 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  6. Tree green gel food colouring, such as Sugarflair Christmas Green or Holly Green
  7. 50g white chocolate / just under a third of a cup
  8. Sprinkles
Instructions
  1. First, make the biscuit dough. Combine your butter, which needs to be incredibly soft, with the sugar in a large bowl. Beat in the two eggs along with the vanilla bean paste, and then sift in the flour and mix with a large spatula - the dough will be quite stuff, but keep going until its all incorporated. Divide the dough into two equal portions, and then pop half onto some clingfilm and wrap it up tightly and put it into the fridge.
  2. Next, add about a third of a teaspoon of gel food colouring to the remaining dough, and knead until it's completely incorporated. It will go streaky at first, but carry on and add more gel if necessary if the dough isn't green enough. Once it's a nice Christmas green, pop it onto some clingfilm too and then wrap it up and let it rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  3. Next, prepare three large cookie sheets with non stick baking mat or parchment paper, and preheat your oven to 160c/gas mark 4/350F. Roll out your two doughs on a liberally floured work surface. Use a large circular cutter to cut out circles that will easily accommodate the size of Christmas tree cutter you're using, and transfer these to your cookie sheets. Next, cut out a christmas tree shape in the centre of each circle. Perform the same step with the green dough, and use a palette knife or spatula to pick up and transfer the green trees into the vanilla dough and vice versa. Bake for 10-14 minutes, and keep a close eye on them and remove from the oven or swap to a lower shelf if they're starting to get browned (generally if they are starting to get browned, they will be done). Let cool completely on a cooling rack.
  4. If you'd like to decorate with sprinkles, melt your white chocolate in the microwave (I use a mug for such a small amount, and microwave on 15 second intervals and stir well). Use a teaspoon to drizzle white chocolate over the biscuits, or to smear onto the outside of the cookies, and then add on sprinkles.
beta
calories
437
fat
21g
protein
6g
carbs
55g
more
Kerry Cooks http://kerrycooks.com/
I love these simple Christmas Tree Cookies - so great for baking with kids this Christmas!

IMG_5588.JPGIMG_5580.JPGI find that the easiest way to bake cookies is to line your baking trays with these non-stick baking liners, which I got from Lakeland. They were £10 and I cut the sheet to size, which was enough for my three biggest baking sheets. They make it SO easy to get cookies off the tray, and they also mean that your tray won’t be dirty so you (probably) won’t have to wash it! I also use them when I’m making decorations from melted chocolate or candy melts – again they peel off so easily when they’re cooled. 

 

x Kerry

 

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 PS I think that I invented this idea (maybe!). I’ve not seen anything else like it despite googling… let me know if you have!

 

 

 

Snapshots from my week

Happy Friday, friends! How are you doing?

I wanted to update you on our cake sale for children in need last Friday – we made over £100! I baked chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with chocolate cream cheese frosting which turned out really yummy. I decorated them with a 2d nozzle – you can easily do either a pretty swirly swirl or a rose swirl with it, so it’s super handy to have one if you want to make pretty cupcakes. You can get them for about £3 online.

On Saturday I went to a blogger meet up in Nottingham, organised by Hannah and Emma and held at the Ned Ludd in Nottingham. I had a fish finger sandwich for lunch which was really poor so I wouldn’t recommend it for food, but the staff were lovely so a nice place for a Christmas cocktail!

The event was mainly fashion or beauty bloggers (I was the only food blogger!). We got a chance to mingle and talk, and heard from a few different brands. Lush also came along to show us how to make a bath bomb! I made a big blue, and I have to say mine looked pretty much the same as the picture online, so go me!

I found the process of making one really cool, but I have to say I still hate the smell of the bombs and most Lush products – they’re far too strongly scented for me! And I hate baths. But their range of natural bar shampoos looked interesting. 

The girls were lovely enough to pull together a goody bag for us all too. My highlights were this eye primer which I used massively skeptically but have been really impressed with (eyeshadow that stays where it should be!) and the hello fresh breath spray which I find really useful because I don’t really like mints or gum, so this will be handy to put in my handbag.

AND all the participants were also matched to buy secret santa presents for each other! I got my girl a gift set from Lush (different strokes and all that!) and some homemade chocolate dipped marshmallows – I hope she liked them! I received some lovely presents, including these festive sprinkles – what a perfect present for me!

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A lot of evenings this week have been spent at the vets, trying to get some answers for our seven month old kitten Brownie. She’s now been diagnosed with a life-threatening disorder and is having treatment in the pet hospital at the vets. It may or may not work, and if it doesn’t we’re going to have to say goodbye to her. 

I am so sad that such a little kitten has spent part of her life feeling ill, but it’s just bad luck.  Thankfully Bella is doing fine.

  • Currently reading: Stone Mattress, a new collection of short stories by Margaret Atwood
  • Currently listening to: 1989 by Taylor Swift. Some of the songs are insanely catchy!
  • Currently lusting after: some ankle boots (flat, black or brown, comfy!). I’ve resisted the trend for many years but I think it’s finally time to embrace them! I tried on every pair they had in new look but they all looked a bit odd on me – my legs are pretty skinny! Any recommendations?

My goals for the next week are to continue to eat pretty healthfully and make time to try to de-stress. Various things have been causing me a lot of anxiety lately, and things have been really bad in the last couple of weeks since our kitten Brownie got really sick. I’m also going to be starting to put up some christmas decorations (gasp) and sort out my festive songs!

It is generally beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here – Nottingham’s Winter Wonderland is open, my nails are Christmas party-ified and my advent calendar is ready to go for December 1st! Do you have one? This year Cadbury had two dairy milk versions – a regular sized one with 90g of chocolate and a jumbo one with twice as much! Of course I went for the bigger one!

This weekend I’m going to re-make my Millie’s Cookies recipe and take (hopefully) some better photos for you! People LOVE the recipe (who doesn’t want to make Millie’s Cookies at home?!) but the pictures are a bit dreadful, which is a shame as the cookies taste so good! 

What do you have planned this weekend? Do you have any goals for the next week that you’d like to achieve?

 

x Kerry

 

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How to make your own Cake Flour

How to make your own Cake Flour - It's SO easy! | kerrycooks.com

 Oh hey, you can totally make your own cake flour! But wait, what is cake flour and why should you bother?

Cake flour, also sometimes called sponge flour, is a finely milled flour with a low protein content. It’s often used in cakes and pastries to give them a soft and light texture, such as in American baking classics like chiffon cake and angel food cake. If you want your cake to be ultra fluffy for a special occasion, you need homemade cake flour!

I also LOVE using it in cookies to ensure that they are thick, puffy and chewy. Like my perfect chocolate chunk cookies, which are about 2 centimetres tall! You can’t beat a thick cookie where the middle is basically cookie dough!

The cake flour we’ll be making isn’t exactly the same as what’s available in the US, which is bleached flour with a reduced protein content. Instead, we’ll combine plain flour and corn flour, which gives us a more tender flour with less gluten. We’ll also sieve it several times.

 How to make your own Cake Flour

How to make your own Cake Flour

 You’ll need:

  • 300g plain flour
  • 4 tablespoons corn flour
  • two large bowls
  • a large sieve

Measure out your flour, and then measure four tablespoons of flour back into your container or packet. Add the cornflour and then sieve the flour and cornflour together. Five times, back and forth in your bowls. I know! But we have to make sure the mixture is perfectly light and aerated. Trust me, it’s worth it!

Use the cake flour in place of plain flour in your special cake or cookies! I usually make it at the point I want it rather than in advance.

Happy festive baking!

 

x Kerry

 

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Cranberry, Pistachio and White Chocolate Cookies

Ease into the festive season with these gorgeously soft and chewy cranberry, pistachio and white chocolate cookies! Delicately spiced with a little ginger and cinnamon, they’re incredibly moreish and a little bit Christmassy!

Cranberry, Pistachio and White Chocolate Cookies

Cranberry, Pistachio and White Chocolate Cookies

Cranberry, Pistachio and White Chocolate Cookies

Well it’s officially past mid-November, is it almost acceptable to get my Christmas decorations out yet? I’ve always held off until December in previous years, but I have to say, it seems harder this year. Anyone else finding that?

These cookies are absolutely yummy! I made them for a family lunch and my husband ate at least five of them, which is weird because he doesn’t normally eat cookies, or really anything sweet, which is highly inconvenient for me. I love the combination of pistachio and cranberry, as well as looking holiday-appropriate, the tart cranberries and crunchy nuts are delicious. Melty white chocolate buttons and festive cinnamon and ginger make these cookies even more addictive.

You may notice how I’m sneaking gradually towards out and out FESTIVE SPIRIT. These cookies are a little way in for you so you don’t have to stop pretending to be a total grinch who definitely won’t be entertaining anything Christmassy until at least December the first.

From next week though, I’m afraid all bets are off. We’re going all out Christmas around here!

Cranberry, Pistachio and White Chocolate Cookies
Yields 21
Ease into the festive season with these gorgeously soft and chewy cranberry, pistachio and white chocolate cookies! Delicately spiced with a little ginger and cinnamon, they're incredibly moreish and a little bit Christmassy!
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
350 calories
46 g
43 g
17 g
5 g
8 g
80 g
27 g
26 g
0 g
8 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
80g
Yields
21
Amount Per Serving
Calories 350
Calories from Fat 148
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 17g
26%
Saturated Fat 8g
41%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 43mg
14%
Sodium 27mg
1%
Total Carbohydrates 46g
15%
Dietary Fiber 2g
9%
Sugars 26g
Protein 5g
Vitamin A
7%
Vitamin C
1%
Calcium
5%
Iron
5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
For the cookie dough
  1. 230g | 2 sticks unsalted butter
  2. 175g | 1 cup brown sugar
  3. 100g | 1/2 cup caster sugar
  4. 2 large free range eggs
  5. 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  6. 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  7. 1 tsp ground ginger
  8. 450g | 3 cups plain flour
  9. large pinch salt
  10. 200g | 1 cup dried cranberries
  11. 200g | 1 cup shelled pistachios
  12. 200g | 1 cup white chocolate buttons or chips
For the cookie dough
  1. Preheat your oven to 160C/gas mark 5/350F and prepare three large baking trays with non stick baking mats or greaseproof paper.
  2. Combine the unsalted butter and sugars in a bowl and mix together with a spatula - your butter needs to be very soft! Beat in the two eggs, salt and vanilla, and then measure out the dry ingredients. Reserve a handful each of the cranberries, pistachios and white chocolate, and stir the rest into your dough.
  3. Finally, sift in the plain flour, quickly incorporating it into the cookie dough. Use a small cookie scoop to scoop balls of dough onto your tray, at least 3 inches apart. Use the reserved cranberries, chocolate and pistachios to decorate the top of the cookies. Bake for a scant 9-11 minutes, removing from the oven before they start to brown. Let them cool and firm up completely on the counter before you attempt to move them.
Adapted from Diethood.com
beta
calories
350
fat
17g
protein
5g
carbs
46g
more
Adapted from Diethood.com
Kerry Cooks http://kerrycooks.com/
 edited3

Cranberry, Pistachio and White Chocolate Cookies | kerrycooks.com

Cranberry, Pistachio and White Chocolate Cookies | kerrycooks.com

 Have I mentioned the importance of ice cream scoops to your baking before? I have two, a small one and a large one. The small one is invaluable for perfectly round and even balls of cookie dough, and the large one is perfect for making cupcakes – you use the scoop to measure out the batter, so all the cupcakes turn out exactly the same size!

If you’re a serious cookie baker, I’d also really recommend picking up these non-stick re-usable baking mats from Lakeland – I was skeptical at first, but they’re fantastic! Absolutely nothing sticks to them – so you never need to fear making delicious cookies that you can’t prise off the tray again!

I hope you love these!

x Kerry

 

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Snapshots from my week

Milo says happy Friday, friends. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more happy to see the end of a week!

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 Last Friday we tried Oscar and Rosie’s pizza for the first time (at Das Kino in Nottingham). We had a frenchman pizza, with a garlic base and goats cheese and beetroot on top. It was SO yummy! Das Kino was a somewhat weird place to hang out on a Friday night though with very loud DJ music from 6pm! We felt somewhat odd stuffing our faces with pizza! I would definitely go back at lunchtime though, and the cocktails were delicious.

 I also did some baking – some cookies and some homemade marshmallows that I’ll be sharing with you in the next few weeks! Bella enjoyed the box of goodies that Lakeland kindly sent me too! They sent me some awesome stuff that I’ll share in the next few weeks, including chocolate for my homemade marshmallows (yum) and metallic sharpies (life made).

I had the idea to make these Christmas tree cut out cookies when I was at a gig with Lee that was not my tupe of music… boredom is excellent for creativity as it turns out!

On Sunday I headed to the park to hang out with some friends and their little boy – it was such a beautiful and warm autumn day to be outside! Not at all like November – the upside to global warming!

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 This week’s City WI was a fun one – we made Christmas table centrepieces! Using spruce, holly, ivy and other festive bits and bobs.

It was really cool, apart from getting stabbed by holly continuously!

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 This is mine – what do you think? It should hopefully last until Christmas if I keep it watered. 

Today at work I’ve organised a Children in Need Bake Sale! I’ve made about 35 vanilla and chocolate cupcakes with delicious dark chocolate sour cream frosting and pudsey spotted sprinkles! Fingers crossed we raise lots of money for charity!

Last week I started reading Amy Poehler’s book Yes please. It’s a little difficult to read on an ereader (the pictures!) but I’m enjoying it!

What new autumn tv shows should I be watching? I’m rewatching Gilmore Girls at the moment (the BEST) and we’re also watching Orange is the New Black and Sons of Anarchy. Anything else awesome I should see?

Oh, and of course, I can’t go without my daily Barefoot Contessa fix! Please tell me you’ve seen it so we can talk about it!

x Kerry

 

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Five Easy Tips to Instantly Improve your Baking

Five Easy Tips to Instantly Improve your Baking
Frustrated by cakes that get stuck to the tin, biscuits that run together and cupcake frosting that won’t swirl? Read on for my Five Tips to Instantly Improve your Baking!

I’m really lucky in that most of my bakes turn out really well (not that I haven’t had a few memorable disasters!), but I know that lots of people struggle with their baking. Even though what you make may already taste delicious, these little steps will add polish and that extra oomph to really take your baking to the next level.

Use good quality chocolate and vanilla (skimp on everything else)

I am a HUGE advocate of using cheap ingredients in my baking – on the things where it doesn’t matter. Here’a s run down of what I use. 

  • Value unsalted butter (sometimes Tesco or Sainsburys, sometimes Lidl, never over a £1)
  • Value plain flour (did you know you can make your own cake flour? Just replace 2 tbsp of flour of every 23og your recipe needs with corn flour and whisk)
  • The cheapest caster / golden caster sugar – usually Tate and Lyle or supermarket own brand. Buy a tin of treacle and you won’t need to spend money on dark muscavado / dark brown sugar or light muscavado / light brown sugar – you can make your own! Oh, and it tastes SO much better and keeps your baked goods moist!
  • Good quality chocolate – this doesn’t necessarily mean expensive. I often use tesco everyday value plain chocolate in my baking which at 55% cocoa solids does a great job in brownies and chocolate frostings. And its 30p per 100g. Where you want a more intense chocolate hit (75% cocoa solids), I’ll often go for a supermarket version too (about £1 per 100g) – why spend £3 on a small bar of fancy chocolate when it’ll end up tasting the same? 
  • Free range eggs – here’s where it does matter. Never use value eggs. If the cost on the shelf is super low, the chicken has probably paid the price. I use local free range eggs that are sold by someone I work with, or happy eggs are good too
  • Vanilla – okay, here’s where you can’t skimp. My favourite vanilla is vanilla bean paste – it’s like extract but it’s full of vanilla bean seeds for an intense flavour and that gorgeous speckled look that tells you it’s really got vanilla in it! My favourites are Neilsen Massey and Steenbergs. Tesco and other supermarkets occasionally do a baking 3 for 2 which is the time to stock up as they’re £7 a bottle. A bottle lasts me a few months of baking though, and I’m guessing I do more than most people! Given how much I use it, it might be better for me to buy it in bulk really!

Five Easy Tips to Instantly Improve your Baking

Coffee and vanilla make chocolate flavours sing

For a really decadent and delicious chocolate cake or cupcake, include a hefty dose of vanilla bean paste, and coffee too. I like to use a little brewed strong espresso in my cakes or frostings – just a couple of teaspoons is enough to make the chocolate flavour even more chocolatey, without making it taste like coffee – you won’t even know it’s there!

Salt makes cakes, cookies, and breads better

Never skip the salt! Salt wakes up all the other flavours and bring them together – it is so important in your baking, and not just in sweet/salty desserts like my chocolate peanut butter pretzel brownies! I like to use unsalted butter, since it means I can control the amount of salt in my baked goods, but be sure to add a pinch to cake and cookie batter, and even frostings too – it helps balance and cut through the sweetness and make things even more delicious. Sprinkle a little sea salt on top of just baked melty cookies too – sooo good!

Include sour cream, greek yoghurt, or buttermilk in your cupcakes and cakes to keep them moist

Cakes and cupcakes just taste better when they’re moist and packed with flavour! Look for recipes with sour cream, yoghurt or buttermilk and your cake will be amazing and stay moist for days too. I love Annie’s chocolate cupcakes with sour cream, and this lemon drizzle loaf with greek yoghurt. Give it a try!

Five Easy Tips to Instantly Improve your Baking

Invest just £5 in icing nozzles for awesome cupcakes

Want to do a really impressive rose or swirly swirl? You need just two types of nozzle and your cupcakes will look pretty forevermore! A 2d nozzle for a rose swirl, and a star nozzle for the prettiest classic swirl. I also have this great set with seven different nozzles which has come in really handy over the last few years.

Oh, and you’ll also need some piping bags – I love these ones from Lakeland. They’re disposable, because life’s too short to wash out a piping bag!

 

 

 x Kerry

 

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Reese’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Fudge

The most decadent and delicious Reese’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Fudge! The silkiest, chocolatiest fudge mixture is mixed with Reese’s Mini Peanut Butter Cups, peanut butter swirls, and topped with sea salt. The best news? You won’t need a sugar thermometer with this easy cheat’s fudge!

Reese's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Fudge | kerrycooks.com

Reese's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Fudge | kerrycooks.com

Of all the things that I’ve ever stuffed Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups into (my mouth being probably the number one destination), I think this is the best so far. I LOVE my easy fudge. It’s one of my favourite, most versatile recipes on my blog. I’ve used it to make bounty fudge and S’mores fudge (oh my god) – in short, you can use it as a base to hold your favourite ingredients!

When I came back from honeymoon with a stash of peanut butter chips and peanut butter cups I knew I had to make this fudge. If you’re addicted to the whole sweet/salty chocolate peanut butter combo (1. and who isn’t? 2. you must make these brownies), you will love these! The other great thing about them is that they make the perfect gift for anyone who loves chocolate. Whip up a big batch of this fudge, package the squares up in some pretty presentation bags, tie with ribbon, and you’ve got yourself some gorgeous homemade Christmas presents.

I always pick up my mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups from Asda because they’re so much cheaper than other supermarkets (maybe the walmart thing?) and you can get white and milk ones too – so handy for baking delicious treats (or just eating from the bag). If you’re in the UK you probably won’t be able to get your hands on any peanut butter chips except online, but that won’t make much difference at all – this fudge will still be loaded with yummy chocolate peanut butter flavour. (My thoughts on peanut butter chips – they’re handy and quite tasty but they aren’t the healthiest – they contain hydrogenated oils). But don’t worry, you can easily substitute them with some good old peanut butter!

If you’ve ever been apprehensive about making homemade fudge, this easy version is for you! There’s no soft ball stage, no sugar thermometer’s, and no worry that it will possibly go wrong – it simply turns out perfectly every single time! It’s so easy to make from ingredients you may have on hand too – just a tin of condensed milk, and dark chocolate, which are heated in the microwave. You won’t believe how good it tastes! Just have your greased pan and mix-ins or toppings ready to go, because once the condensed milk and chocolate are melted, the mixture starts to firm up quickly!

A little friendly warning – this addictive stuff takes about 4 minutes to make and has only 4 ingredients!

Reese's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Fudge
Yields 16
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
355 calories
44 g
10 g
18 g
6 g
8 g
77 g
122 g
38 g
0 g
6 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
77g
Yields
16
Amount Per Serving
Calories 355
Calories from Fat 160
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 18g
28%
Saturated Fat 8g
42%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 10mg
3%
Sodium 122mg
5%
Total Carbohydrates 44g
15%
Dietary Fiber 3g
12%
Sugars 38g
Protein 6g
Vitamin A
7%
Vitamin C
1%
Calcium
10%
Iron
12%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 500g plain chocolate (55 - 70% cocoa solids)
  2. 1 397g can condensed milk
  3. 100g peanut butter chips (or substitute with peanut butter, swirl about three tablespoons into the chocolate fudge when it's just melted)
  4. 240g peanut butter cups (equivelant to 12 large cups, chopped into small (1cm ish) pieces. (Reserve 80g to decorate the top)
  5. Sea salt
Instructions
  1. Let's begin! First, prepare a 8 x 8" pan by greasing it with vegetable oil, and cut up your peanut butter cups and prepare your peanut butter or peanut butter chips.
  2. Next, break up your chocolate into small chunks, and pop into a medium-large heatproof bowl. Heat on high at 30 second intervals until it's almost melted. Stir between each interval to ensure it doesn't burn.
  3. Add the can of condensed milk to the chocolate, stir well and then return to the microwave for 15 seconds to warm it through. Using a large spatula, quickly stir most of the cut up peanut butter cups into the fudge (reserving the rest for the top), along with the peanut butter chips or 3 tablespoons of peanut butter. Working quickly, scoop the whole mix into the 8 x 8" tin, using the spatula, or clean hands greased with a little vegetable oil, to push the mix down evenly into the corners of the pan. Quickly press the remaining peanut butter cups into the top and sprinkle with sea salt.
  4. Leave to set in the fridge for 30 minutes, then remove, loosen from the edge of the pan using a metal palette knife warmed with very hot water, and cut into large pieces.
  5. The fudge will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a week to ten days, but it won't last that long!
beta
calories
355
fat
18g
protein
6g
carbs
44g
more
Kerry Cooks http://kerrycooks.com/
Reese's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Fudge | kerrycooks.com

Reese's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Fudge | kerrycooks.com

 I hope you love this fudge! Feel free to cut into smaller pieces, for special gifts I like to cut into mammoth chunks – all the better to indulge people with!

Oh and I’m entering this fudge into November’s Treat Petite challenge! It’s a challenge hosted by Cakeyboi and my friend The Baking Explorer (check out her blog!) to make individually portioned sweet treats (like my recipe for just two chocolate chunk cookies!). 

NEW LOGO

 x Kerry

 

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Snapshots from my week

 Happy Friday, friends! How has your week been?

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 Last Friday was Halloween! I made a buttermilk chocolate bundt cake and took the kitties to get spayed. They’re 100% fine and didn’t seem to realise they’d even had a major operation! They were still jumping around like crazy!

 On Friday night we had a Halloween party! I spent most of the day getting the house and food ready. I bought some delicious french and english cheeses from Lidl (if you’ve never tried their french goats cheese, OMG) and some freshly baked ciabattas too – SO good! We also had meats, olives, and roasted veggies.

It wasn’t a costume party to start with, but it kind of became one (don’t know how that happens!) so I went as a cat!

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 There was also a pumpkin, Tin Tin, a Black Swan, a zombie/ghoul and a group of vampires!

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 Bella was so sweet (as she always is with new people), making friends with everyone. She is SUCH a confident kitty! She climbed onto Lucy’s lap and let her little boy Rory stroke her which was just so adorable!

As well as the chocolate cake, we enjoyed some cornbread made from a mix I brought back from our honeymoon (from Trader Joe’s) which was DEELICIOUS! There was also plenty of Halloween candy around (including candy corn!). We got SO MANY trick or treaters – what about you? They were all pretty adorable.

This week I also popped into the weekly Country Market in Beeston, which is run by the Women’s Institute. I picked up some local vegetables, plus some marmalade and blueberry jam – all homemade and such good value. Oh, and the best marmalade and jam you’ve ever tried! Country markets are put on around the country, so check if there’s one near you!

Last weekend I went to visit my family – there was some swing action (SUCH fun!) and a delicious autumnal pie. This week has been pretty quiet – the cats were back at the vets again for vaccinations and I also took part in a focus group at a local restaurant which was fun – and I got a £20 voucher! 

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And Lee bought me flowers! It doesn’t happen very often but I appreciate that he remembers sometimes :) Tonight we’re heading out for the evening into the city to try a new restaurant!

What are you up to this weekend?

 

x Kerry

 

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