Friday, 31 October 2014

Spooky Ghost Cake Pops

I love baking, but find cake pops quite daunting.  Dr Oaker sent us some ingredients to try their Spooky Ghost Cake Pops and over the weekend we will be giving them a try.




Preparation time: 2 hours plus cooling and chilling
Cooking time: 40 minutes plus 10 minutes to melt 2 lots of chocolate

Ingredients:

For the cake balls:

·  120g Dr. Oetker 72% Cocoa Extra Dark Fine Cooks Chocolate
·  150g soft unsalted butter at room temp
·  200g Light Muscovado Sugar
·  3 medium free range eggs, lightly beaten
·  2 tsp Dr. Oetker Madagascan Vanilla extract
·  125g Plain Flour

For the cake pops:

·  2 X 100g bags of Dr. Oetker White Chocolate Chips melted for sticking the balls onto the sticks & coating the cake pops
·  Teaspoon of vegetable oil

To decorate the ghosts:

·  1 x  pack of Dr. Oetker White Regal Ice
·  Icing sugar for rolling out
·  Dr. Oetker White Designer Icing for sticking the regal ice to the cake pops
·  Dr. Oetker Jet Black Gel Food Colour

Method:

1.     Preheat the oven to 140°C (275°F, gas mark 1). Grease and line an 18cm (7 inch) square cake tin
2.     To make the fudge brownie mix melt the extra dark chocolate in a microwave on medium power for 30 seconds at a time, stirring each time until melted,  or in a heat proof bowl on a gentle heat over a bain marie. Leave to cool.
3.     Beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer with paddle attachment or electric hand beater for approx. 2 minutes until pale and fluffy. If you haven’t got an electric mixer you can do this with a wooden spoon in a bowl .
4.     TIP: if you are in a rush or the butter is quite cold, the addition of a couple of tablespoons of boiling water at this stage, beaten on slow until mixed will speed up this process.
5.     Add your eggs on a slow speed about a third at a time, mixing until combined.
6.     Add your cooled chocolate stirring continuously.  Add the vanilla Extract and stir. On slow speed mix in the flour until just combined. Do not over beat. Alternatively fold in by hand.
7.     Pour the mix into your cake tin and bake for approx 40 mins. Check it with a sharp knife or metal skewer. You want this to be slightly under baked, so the knife should come out pasty, with a nice paste on the knife.
8.     Leave to cool, then turn out into a bowl and crumble with your hands to fine fudgy crumb.
9.     To make the cake balls, take a handful of fudge cake mix and squeeze together tightly - you are aiming for little balls about the size of a large walnut, approx. 30g each. If the mixture is dry, the addition of a little chocolate or vanilla butter cream will help the mixture stick
10.  Once you have all of your balls ready, dip the end of your stick into the melted chocolate chips  and push the stick into each ball, about half way in. Hold the ball to stop it splitting open when the stick goes in
11.  Once all the cake pops are ready, refrigerate them for 1-2 hours before dipping them, or pop into the freezer for 30 mins, so the balls are firm enough to hold when dipping in the coating
12.  To coat the cake pops melt Dr. Oetker Fine Cooks White Chocolate on low power in a microwave bowl until just melted -  stirring occasionally or over a bain marie on a gentle heat
13.  Plunge each cake pop into the chocolate coating until completely covered. Tap the cake pop gently on the side of the bowl to shake off the excess. Once all are covered, dip each cake pop again
14.  To decorate the ghosts roll out half the white regal icing into a large rectangle using plenty of icing sugar and a large plastic rolling pin. Roll fairly thinly – 2 to 3mm thick. Squeeze a little Dr. Oetker White Designer Icing onto the tops of the cake pops or brush with some melted white chocolate, to aid sticking of the sugar paste
15.  Using a cake cutter or small bowl, cut out circles of regal icing and place on each of the pops, smoothing down with your fingers to create the white sheet effect. Allow a little wavy movement by using your fingers to create smooth



If like me you find cake pops a little daunting, then there is a really great video tutorial here


Disclosure: We were sent some ingredients to make our own cake pops and I will share our results with you.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Making Jelly Monsters

How often do you tell your kids that they can not play with their food.  Well this weekend we made an exception and had a blast making Jelly (jello) Monsters with a selection of Jellies from Hartley's




Firstly we made the jelly's.  This is great fun for kids.  They cut up the blocks of jelly using scissors, measure the boiling water, mixed, added the cold water, poured into moulds and then took them outside to set.  In fact my boys at nine and wight did this all without me!

Then I let the lost with the Jelly, some icing and some sweets and they had THE best time making Jelly Monsters.


Even better, once they had finished making them they enjoyed eating them and then kept telling me they had monsters in their tummy.

So why not take a leaf out of our book and play with your food this coming weekend.

Friday, 10 October 2014

My Top money saving tips in the Bathroom

I am going to admit now that we don't buy inexpensive bathroom products due to two reasons, one the boys have both suffered with eczema and two I have an issue with SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) making me itch.



So it is important for me to make sure that our products last and I am going to admit that I learned this tip from Lizzie at Me and my shadow and it has transformed how much we spend on products and how long they last.

Did you know that in the UK we spend around £14 million on toiletries and I am going to admit again that I possibly spend a large proportion of that, so anyway to save money is good to me!

So what is this phenomenal tip that I received?

Just use less........................



Yes, really just use less and this is more important with products that contain no parabens or SLS as these are often the foaming agent,

We are programmed to only think that toiletries, especially soaps and shampoos are only doing their job is they are foaming and that we must use enough to get foam and lots of foam at that.

It works, it really does, just read the amount on the bottle and use that.  A 50p amount of shampoo is more than enough for my thick shoulder length hair.

It is amazing.  I have been making sure that the boys just use a pea sized amount of toothpaste and so are we.  It is now lasting us twice a long.  So that is a 50% saving by doing one thing.

I also make sure that we use all of the product too, which often means cutting the top of the bottle and we often get at least another three of four applications that way.

The other biggest spend for us in the bathroom is loo roll.  Kids always use far too much, it just comes off the roll to easily.  So I squash the roll making it less circular and less easy for the toilet paper to just come off the roll!

My hope is with all the savings we are making we can afford a new bathroom. I have been browsing bathroom suites for ages as we don't have a shower in the family bathroom and the biggest way to save water is to have showers and not baths and with two boys who play a lot of sport this would be a big saving for us.

 in conjunction with Bella Bathrooms


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