Happy Friday and Happy Halloween, friends! Are you celebrating All Hallows Eve or are you holing up inside with the lights turned off?
I know some people feel annoyed by Halloween, as they resent an American holiday coming over here and getting our kids all hopped up on sugar (not a valid point of view anyway as it completely ignores the fact that Halloween was a Celtic import to the US, not the other way around!). But I think there’s something really special about it, and I love getting adorable little trick or treaters coming to my door – they’re so cute!
Last weekend I headed to the Bramley Apple Festival in Southwell, a quaint town about 45 minutes away from Nottingham.
It was such a beautiful autumnal day! The bramley apple was invented (well, first propagated!) in Southwell which is why the town has the annual festival.
A food and drink market is held in Southwell Minster, with lots of delicious foods on offer from local producers. I picked up some challah bread and a delicious chocolate fudge brownie.
The shops in Southwell compete for the best apple-themed window display. They’re always absolutely amazing and this year was no exception – meet Bramleyasaurus! She actually moved around!
There’s also a competition for Bramley king and queen, which is a costume competition for little kids (well, their parents!). The costumes this year were incredible!
Finley had a great time and has mastered clapping – he spent the whole time applauding the winners!
We headed over to Lucy’s house for a spot of lunch – she made us delicious butternut squash soup, as well as leek and potato! They were both SO good!
I did A LOT of baking last weekend! I made pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, homemade oreo’s, and cinnamon rolls with cream cheese glaze! I was really happy with how they all turned out – I finally feel like I really mastered cinnamon rolls properly – they turned out great!
The cinnamon rolls were for the Halloween edition of Cake Club Notts! It was SUCH a good one. There were less (even none!) chocolate orange cakes this year – people had diversified a bit with sticky toffee cakes, pumpkin cakes, and even a massive S’mores cake! Everything was delicious but I went for an oatmeal creme pie (actual recipe here!) and a slice of sour cherry and chocolate bread – sooo good!
I did also have a pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese frosting which I took home with me, but sadly I left it unattended in my kitchen and the kitties nobbled it! Naughty kitties!
On Monday I headed out for cocktails to say goodbye to our friend Trista who’s moving to Sweden for six months! We’re going to miss her lots. We went to Revolution for their happy hour cocktails and half price food (on Monday’s). I have to say the food there is pretty tasty for a chain!
Speaking of autumnal/halloween things – here are my autumn/halloween decorations! I’ve got a pumpkinny mantlepiece and quite a few decorations for my party tonight. My lovely friend Emma also brought me back some candy corn from the US – my first time trying it! It has an interesting flavour (not like corn!).
I was pretty proud of myself this week for managing to change my flat tire on my bike! It might seem unimpressive but I haven’t had a flat for a couple of years and had almost completely forgotten how to do it! Go me!
Happy Halloween weekend friends! Are you celebrating this weekend?
Happy hump day, friends! Today I’m talking about a subject close to my heart – cats!
National Black Cat Day is actually tomorrow – 30 October. It’s a celebration of black and monochrome cats which was started to raise awareness of the fact that, in rescue centres, black and monochrome cats are sadly overlooked and left without loving homes in favour of other colours of cats. They’re less than half as likely to be adopted as other cats – and when you consider that rescue centres are currently overflowing with kittens, black cats are even worse off.
In 2010, I adopted Marty and Milo with my now husband. They were black and white (tuxedo) kittens and I knew I wanted black and white cats, and wanted to experience having kittens, even though there are so many older cats that need homes. Marty tragically died suddenly in December last year, and this summer, we adopted two kittens to keep his brother company (and bring some light and fun back into our lives!).
Meet Bella (nickname Blackie) and Brownie (like the chocolate… )! We intentionally went for cats that would be difficult for the centre that we got them from (Cats Nottingham Rescue) to adopt out – Bella is completely black as night, but she photographs just fine most of the time as you can see! Brownie is a brindle tortie with distinctive markings which come out really well in natural light.
Rescue centres struggle to get even dark coloured kittens adopted, so you can imagine how adult cats fare. So why are darker cats rejected? There’s a whole raft of reasons, ranging from superstitions about them being evil, to being difficult to take pictures of, to simply being less pretty than other kitties. Interestingly, brown cats actually fare even worse than black cats.
So, what can you do to help?
Consider adopting a black or monochrome cat
Or even go to a shelter and ask to see the animal who’s been there the longest. Chances are they deserve a loving home too, even if they’ve been overlooked for a long time.
Donate to a cat rescue organisation
How about Cats Protection, or Cats Nottingham Rescue, who we adopted our kittens from? They’re an independent rescue centre run by volunteers who simply love and want to help cats. They completely rely on donations of money and food to help them operate, so please consider donating.
Get your pet neutered or spayed
This is SO so important. There is absolutely no reason not to get your pets neutered or spayed. The current crisis that animal rescue centres are facing, which has led to some even turning cats and kittens away, is entirely a result of careless or ignorant people failing to ensure that their cats don’t have or father kittens. Cats can get pregnant from 4 months old, even though they’re still so teeny tiny! They shouldn’t be going outside at that age anyway, and can be spayed or neutered promptly at 6 months old.
Do you have cats?
Happy Halloween week! Today I’m bringing you some simple but scary cobweb cookies – my last Halloween post for this year! I hope you like my Halloween Cobweb Cookies!
These adorable cookies are perfect for a Halloween party, or even handing out to Trick or Treaters if you’re feeling generous! A simple but delicious chocolate sugar cookie is topped with white and black royal icing to form a cute cobweb decoration. It’s really easy to do – you just pipe circles of black icing onto white, and then drag a toothpick through from the centre to the edge. As you can see, I waited a little too long to pipe my black icing – you need to do it straight away.
- 125g unsalted butter
- 125g golden caster sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 200g plain flour
- 50g cocoa powder
- 300g Tate and Lyle royal icing sugar
- Black gel colouring by Sugarflair, Wilton or Americolor, about half a teaspoon
- To make your biscuits, first beat the very soft butter with the sugar until the mixture is soft and light. Beat in the egg and vanilla, and then sift in the flour and cocoa powder. It's really important to sift cocoa powder as it's usually very lumpy. Mix briefly, then tip the whole mix out onto a large sheet of clingfilm. Knead and pat it together, and then cover with clingfilm and rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 160c/gas mark 4/350f and prepare three large baking sheets with parchment paper or non stick baking mats. Roll out your dough (I prefer to do it half at a time) on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, and cut out circles approximately 2.5 inches wide. Place on your baking sheets at least 2cm apart from each other, and bake for 11-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.
- For the decoration: In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the icing sugar and slowly add water, a tablespoon at a time, until the icing is liquid, but very thick. Beat until it has the consistency of thick whipped cream - it needs to be runny enough to thickly coat, but run off, the back of a spoon. Transfer two thirds of the mixture into a piping bag (with no nozzle fitted). Colour the remaining icing black, adding gel colouring until it's a glossy jet colour. Transfer the black icing into another piping bag (I like to do this by propping it in a tall glass).
- To start decorating the cookies, first outline each one with a white circle, making it as even as you can! Leave to set for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, flood the inside of each cookie with white icing from your piping bag - it's like colouring in! Be careful not to add too much icing - it will spread, but you can help it along with the end of a teapoon. Some bubbles will appear in the icing, and you can use a toothpick to pop them (if you care!).
- Next, draw circles in the white icing with the black icing - you'll probably be able to fit in three circles. Next, using a toothpick, draw it from the centre to the outside of the cookie, dragging it through the icing. Do this six times, in a similar pattern to how you would slice a cake. Set the biscuits aside somewhere cool to harden completely for a few hours.
Happy Halloween! Are you doing anything? We’re having a little halloween party.
Happy Friday friends! How has your week been so far?
Autumn is really starting to come into full force around here! I spent some time in the garden this past weekend tidying up and weeding. I’m still a terribly poor gardener, but at least things aren’t so messy now!
I also picked up some cute pumpkins to decorate my autumn mantlepiece – I’ll share some pictures of my house decorated for Halloween in next Friday’s post! I noticed that Dr Oetker now have gel colourings on sale in supermarkets – has anyone tried them to make a Rainbow Cake yet?
Oh and I finished off the weekend with Pecan Pie at The Bean (a great local coffee shop!) and Practical Magic – SUCH a great Halloween film.
Blackie helped me to write my latest blog post – she wasn’t scared of my rice krispie ghosts! Neither were the team at Hotel Chocolat – they tried them out this week too! Check out how they decorated their ghosts!
This week we got a delivery from amazon, so the box and packing paper has been the cats favourite toys – who knew a kitten adventure playground could be so cheap to make! They’re also very fond of a large blue ikea bag.
This week I’ve had TWO delicious meals at Hungry Pumpkin in Nottingham too. If you’re ever in my city you have to try it out. They really care about their food and it’s all gorgeous. The fish finger sandwich was the size of my head and soooo good!
Oh, and another thing I like about them is they serve breakfast all day. If you want scrambled eggs on toast at 2pm, you got it! Why don’t more places do this? Breakfast for dinner – it’s a thing!
What are you doing this weekend? I’m heading to the Bramley Apple Festival in Southwell, and on Sunday I’m attending Halloween Cake Club! Lots of baking and cake this weekend – I’m pretty sure there’ll be a cake hangover come Monday!
Ooh have I got a treat for you this Wednesday! Bookmark this page now, because you’re going to need it come birthdays, period weeks and in general ‘messed up at a job interview and walked home in the rain’ type situations.
Before we delve in, let me just say that I am firmly in the gooey brownie camp. At my house we raise the gooey brownie flag and sing the gooey brownie battlesong. Cakey, dry, or frosted brownies (unless it’s a gooey brownie frosted with cookie dough… yum!) have no place in my world. NONE. AT ALL, EVER.
They are not okay.
So with that in mind, the brownie recipes I’m featuring are all on the deliciously gooey, melt in your mouth, chock full of melted chocolate, side of things!
And, even better, they’re all recipes that I’ve tried, tested, and absolutely loved!
I made these a while ago so forgive my somewhat awful photography! But I still remember vividly how amazing they were. Perfectly fudgy, and delicious – and the peanut butter cups work SO well! Make these, now!
A chewy brownie topped with cream cheese and raspberries? Yes please! Believe me when I say that these are oh. so. good! The tartness of the raspberries cut through the cream cheese and chocolate perfectly.
Decadent fudgy brownies topped with salted caramel and baked, before being drizzled with even MORE salted caramel and sprinkled with flakes of sea salt. You could make your own caramel, or to make it even easier, use tinned.
A brownie meets a rice krispie treat. Definitely not just for kids!
This famous recipe by Baked in Brooklyn is incredibly similar to the base recipe I use for all of my brownies – it’s foolproof, it’s so gooey it should be illegal, and it tastes amazing.
I made these brownies for a friends wedding and never got a great photo of them, but they’re too good to not share with you! The recipe uses less chocolate than some other brownies, but they’re still epically fudgy with a crackly crust. And the layer of cookie dough on the top… unbelievably good!
These beauties are a guaranteed pick up to a bad day. And if you want to add some rum, even better! Obviously if you don’t look bounty’s, you can substitute the chocolate bar of your desire, you coconut hating monster.
Oh lordy. Now we’re getting into it. You know sex? Tthese brownies are like that, but with more calories. They’re all you’ll want to eat for the rest of your whole life.
I made some Nutella Brownies that I hoped to share with you for a Cake Club a few months back. Despite being almost too gooey to handle (and too ugly to photograph), they were a massive hit! Lesson learned, always give brownies enough time to cool, especially if you want underdone, gooey brownies that don’t fall apart. And make these nutella brownies, stat!
These are just SO gorgeous! Decadent, fudgy chocolate brownies with big peanut butter swirls and pretzels, all topped with a sprinkling of sea salt. The perfect sweet/salty combo that will leave you wanting more!
If you’re interested in the science of brownies (brownies have science too!), check out this guide.
I’d also like to ask you guys for your brownie tips! Do you have an amazing flavour combination I should try? AND do you have a recipe for brownies which still tasty fudgy and chocolatey, but use less melted chocolate?
Why hello and happy Monday! It’s getting closer and closer to Halloween… have you decided what treats to make yet? I’ve got pumpkins on my mantlepiece, apple cinnamon candles burning, and last night I even convinced Lee to watch Practical Magic with me! He described it as ‘not good, but watchable’. I’d describe it as ‘awesome’ and definitely in my top three halloween films, along with Hocus Pocus and Scream. And I will never stop wanting to live in this house. I want it to be a real house so bad!
These Halloween Ghost Rice Krispie Pops are sooo cute! They’re an easy no-bake treat for Halloween, made from a marshmallow rice krispie mixture with a white chocolate topping. Best of all, they taste really yummy too!
They couldn’t be simpler to make either, all the ingredients are ones that you probably have in your cupboard right now!
I think this is just the perfect Halloween treat to make with kids. There’s no cooking involved, just a bit of melting in the microwave. You can make them as scary or as friendly looking as you like when you decorate them. Kids would love icing funny faces on too! I used writing icing to give my ghosties red eyes, so it’s as simple as can be.
The perfect no-bake treat for an autumn day or Halloween party!
As well as the ingredients to make the treats, you’ll also need some lolly sticks and a vaugely ghost shaped cookie cutter to make these. I used a bell cutter – I love how easy it is to repurpose them to other uses! If you don’t already have a bell cutter, this set is great value!
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 20 white marshmallows, or 4 cups / 200g mini marshmallows
- 160g / 6 cups rice krispies
- 150g / just under a cup white chocolate
- Writing icing or royal icing, if you prefer
- Alright! You're not going to believe how easy it is to make these! First, prepare a 8x8" pan by greasing the bottom and sides with vegetable oil and set aside.
- Simply combine your butter and marshmallows in a large heat proof bowl and heat in the microwave. Heat on 30 second intervals, stirring vigorously in between, until the marshmallows are completely melted and you're left with marshmallow goo. Stir in your rice krispies and pour the whole lot into your tin. Push down firmly until they're evenly compacted - I like to use a spatula greased with vegetable oil to do this. Let them firm up for 15 minutes on the countertop.
- Next, take a vaugely ghost shaped cookie cutter (I used a bell shape) and use it to cut out segments of rice krispie treat. Get them as close to each other as possible so you can get lots of ghosts! Sadly, you'll need to eat the excess rice krispie treats...
- Set your ghost shapes on a flat surface or cookie tray lined with parchment paper, and smush them into a more ghostly shape. Stick in your lolly stick - it will seem like the treats want to fall apart, but the great thing is that they're so sticky, so it's easy to mould them back into shape. Leave to set for another hour.
- Melt your white chocolate in the microwave, on 15 second bursts, stirring between each interval, until fully liquid. I used a palette knife (you could also use the back of a tablespoon) to drizzle and spread white chocolate onto my ghosts, or you could also dip them into the chocolate. Allow the chocolate to cool and set.
- To decorate: Use writing icing or similar to draw on eyes, a scary face, or a friendly face!
I’m entering these cute ghosts into this months We Should Cocoa – the theme is Halloween!
Don’t forget to tag your ghosts #kerrycooks on Instragram if you make these – I’d love to see how your ghosts turn out!
Happy Friday, friends! How are you doing?
Last Friday I headed to dinner at Edin’s in Nottingham, and enjoyed a delicious dinner of baked goat’s cheese with salad. It was so yummy – I highly recommend Edin’s for dinner if you’re ever in the East Midlands! I also had a brownie which was a bit disappointing – nowhere near as delicious as mine (modest, moi?) and it had frosting on – pretty wrong, in my book.
Afterwards I went to see Gone Girl with three friends, none of whom had ever read the book or knew anything about the story (I read the book last year). I won’t mention any crucial plot points in case you’re yet to see it, but they were very shocked and possibly slightly traumatised!
On Saturday we took a whole bunch of donations – mainly of old clothes and gifts – to our local PDSA charity shop. They need things like old towels too as they can use them in their animal rescue centres. It feels SO good to get rid of stuff cluttering up the house. We have a third attic bedroom where stuff tends to get chucked, but I try to keep on top of it. I like keeping a box or bag to pop things for charity into that’s on the go for a while, then when I have enough stuff I take it along on a shopping trip!
On Saturday evening we headed to Rock City in Nottingham to see two bands, including Lonely the Brave. Lee had bought the tickets and needed someone to go with!
I headed to my FIRST EVER first birthday party on Sunday! Finley is a whole year old! I got him an adorable little outfit, a story book about a cat named William solving an art heist (brilliant) and some bath toys. Erin put on a delicious spread of food, and she baked a fab Neapolitan layer cake, with strawberry, vanilla and chocolate layers! There were sooo many cute children there, running around and having fun.
I won’t lie – this week has been pretty epic in terms of baking! I’ve been making some delicious Halloween treats which I’ll be sharing with you shortly, plus some Bonfire Night themed crunchie chocolate doughnuts AND Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Bars! Sadly the rice krispie bars recipe won’t be appearing here for a while (too many Christmas recipes first!).
This week I also took advantage of the Oasis sale to pick up this skirt, which I’d been eyeing up before it was reduced to half-price! I also got three Yankee Candles from Boots, as they’re now selling a small selection in their Christmas shop and so they’re on 3 for 2, which makes them just £13.33 each instead of £19.99! I got clean cotton (amazing!), Snowflake Cookie (a bit sweet but not too sickly) and Christmas Eve (smells like Christmas Eve!).
Blogs I’m loving this week: This week I’ve been catching up on Annie Bean’s blog, as well as loving Annie’s Eats (another Annie!) October loves post. Her fashion taste is impeccable! I also signed up for the Nottingham bloggers Secret Santa next month – looking forward to it!
Books I’m loving this week: I’m currently reading Into the Forest, which was the City WI book club for October. Book club has come and gone, but I’m still reading it! It’s a fascinating look at our (teutonic European peoples) relationship with forests and the stories we weave around them.
Happy October! It’s nearly my favourite time of the year – Halloween!
I LOVE hosting Halloween parties (I’m having one this year!) and baking cute and colourful treats. Not for trick or treaters you understand, all for me (and my friends!). Needless to say, all of these Halloween Treats would go down particularly well with kids!
I prefer sharing ideas that I think are simple enough for most people to do – the Halloween Bark is super easy, you just need some Silver Spoon orange candy melts, which you can get in Sainsburys. I also love the cat and ghost cupcakes – they’re both really easy to do! The bat cookies would require a small cookie cutter, or you could cut out a small bat template and cut around it with a sharp knife.
As for me? Well I’ve got a few more tricks and treats coming up between now and the end of the month! And I’m dying to make this M&M pumpkin cake! I’d need to get some of these hemisphere pans from Lakeland but how awesome does it look!
Happy Halloween baking, I hope I’ve given you some useful inspiration!
There’s nothing scary about this Colourful Halloween Layer Cake, it’s just extremely bright, but still yummy! It’s really easy to make too, and a super fun project to do with kids this Halloween!
This Colourful Halloween Layer Cake has been on the cards to bake for a while! Over the last few years I’ve seen examples of Halloween Layer cakes, like this one, this one, and this one, but for some reason I put off giving it a try. I think I always forget just how ridiculously easy my rainbow cake is (which this cake basically is, just halved!).
The recipe is simplicity itself, it’s actually my Rainbow Cake recipe, cut in half! This gives a more normal sized cake with three vivid layers, rather than six as in my Rainbow Cake. I chose a vibrant orange, a neon green, and a ghastly purple for my colours, and I used very bright gel food colouring. The colours I used were Americolor’s Electric Orange, Americolor’s Electric Purple, and Asda Home 2 Bake’s Green. Since Asda have now stopped selling their gel colours, I’d try this one or this one.
The other awesome thing about this cake is that it really does taste delicious! The sponge is soft and tender, and the cream cheese frosting is to die for! I divided my cream cheese frosting into three and added a little gel colour to each bowl, so that it would give an ombre (ish!) effect, similar to the colours of the inside of the cake.
It would also be really effective to cover the outside of the cake in either white or black frosting and either leave plain or decorate with ghoulish Halloween sweets and candy – no one will know what’s inside! I think kids will LOVE the funny colour it makes your mouth as you’re eating it too!
Please note, you’ll need to make the cream cheese frosting by using my new, foolproof method – it will give you perfect results every time – I promise!
Note: This recipe makes one 6 inch three-layer cake. You do need to use 6 inch tins (I like the disposable 6 inch ‘flan tins’ from Wilkinson’s) to get the same tallness of layers as is sh own here. You could also use up to an 8 inch tin, the layers would just be thinner.
- 175g unsalted butter
- 175g golden caster sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
- 175g self-raising flour
- pinch salt
- 75g unsalted butter
- 200g cream cheese
- 300-400g icing sugar
- Preheat your oven to 160C/gas mark 3/350F and prepare three disposable 6 inch tins by brushing them with melted butter.
- In either a stand mixer or a large bowl, thoroughly beat together your very soft butter and caster sugar. Add the three eggs and the vanilla bean paste, and continue to beat until they're completely incorporated.
- Next, stir in the self-raising flour gently, just until it's all combined. Using two smaller bowls, decant a third of the batter into each bowl. Add gel colouring in your chosen Halloween-y colours, a bit at a time, until it's just as bright as you want it. For a really neon cake, you're probably going to want to add about 1 tsp of gel to each bowl.
- Fill your flan tins, and then use an offset palette knife or the back of a spoon to level out the surface - you want the cakes to bake up really flat.
- Bake in the middle of the oven for 10-15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean, and allow to completely cool before removing from the tin.
- Use my tutorial for foolproof cream cheese frosting (see link above). To give an ombre effect mirroring the inside of your cake, divide the mixture into three bowls, and add a couple of drops of gel colouring to each. Keep going until you reach the colour you want, and then frost the cake. Leave to set in the fridge before serving.
If you make this cake, tweet me or tag me on instagram #kerrycooks so I can see your version! Happy Halloween!
PS – If for any reason (like a naughty kitten jumping on the kitchen worktop and knocking off bowl of cake batter and smashing it all over the floor and then running off with green footprints everywhere) you need to make another layer for this cake (or maybe you just want four layers instead of three!), it’s simple! Just whip up 60g of butter with 60g caster sugar, add one egg, some vanilla, and add 60g self-raising flour. Voila! Just keep a close eye on those cats… they sure do love cake batter!
Happy Friday, friends! How are you doing today?
This week has been super awesome around here! Well, the weekend part anyhoo! We watched our amazing, wonderful friends Emma and Nial get married and then had a great time celebrating with them at their lovely book-themed reception party!
They wed at the Council House in Nottingham, and then we enjoyed a ride on a vintage 50s Routemaster to a village hall in Ruddington decorated with saris, fairy lights, and books galore!
We had an afternoon tea followed by cupcakes and wedding cake, and then hot dogs later on! It was all delicious!
My Scrabble cookie favours were a hit – what do you think? I didn’t spy anyone actually playing scrabble with them though – a little disappointing!
It was such a lovely day – wish I could go to a friends wedding every day!
Autumn is in full swing around here! And these kitties continue to be pretty naughty… especially little Bella. Brownie seems to have decided that she looks up to her big brother Milo and wants to be well-behaved like him, but Bella is making up for it by being twice as mischevious!
More snaps from this week – Reese’s toast (half spread with nutella, half with peanut butter!, plus a couple of new cookbooks.
I heard this song this week on Jo Whiley’s show – it’s so lovely.
What are you up to this weekend, friends? I’m going to see Gone Girl (have you seen it), and going to a first birthday party – yay!
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