Gingham Chicken fudge – review

Sometimes, people surprise you with their loveliness.

Hazel Parsons is someone who I don’t really know, but have met though my housemate as they both work in the wedding industry in Cornwall.

A little while ago, she posted some photos on Twitter of some Gingham Chicken fudge which was being used for wedding favours. I commented saying that I’d heard their stuff was good but had never tried it, then the next thing I knew I had a tasty parcel waiting for me at the delivery office!

There was absolutely no reason for Hazel to send me the fudge – she doesn’t work for the company, wasn’t trying to promote it – she just did it to be nice. How lovely is that?!

I figured the best way of justifying the eating of an entire box of fudge was if I then reviewed it for the blog – so here goes.

Gingham Chicken is a Cornish fudge company, based in Liskeard. I first heard about them through Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog, but hadn’t seen the fudge on sale anywhere so never got around to trying any.

The flavour I was sent was sea salt and pecan nuts – a flavour combination I haven’t seen in fudge before but sounded like it could work well.

Regular fudge can be too sweet, but the salt balances it nicely, and Gingham Chicken have got the balance just right. Add pecan nuts, which I love and snack on all the time, and it becomes delicious fudge heaven!

Texture wise, it was perfect for me. I think fudge lovers can be divided into two camps – crumbly or soft and buttery. I’m in the crumbly camp, and that’s exactly what this was – although the one downside to this is that it didn’t fare brilliantly in the post and there wee quite a lot of crumbs left at the bottom of the box.

I would 100% recommend this fudge, and I can’t wait to try more Gingham Chicken flavours soon. And should anyone be in a generous mood, leave a comment and I’ll send you my address…

 

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Strawberry Fudge Cake

So, things have been pretty quiet around here lately – I’m sorry!

There are two main reasons – firstly  life has just been crazy and I’ve barely had time to read any blogs, let alone write them; but I’ve also put a temporary stop to baking for the good of my health…

To summarise the situation, at the start of the year I moved into a new house, with new friends, in a new town. I’ve gone from living in the middle of nowhere and rarely going out, to having easy access to all manor of restaurants, bars and fabulous social occasions.

The upshot of this is that even though I’ve been exercising more, the weight has been creeping on – I’m now a stone heavier than I was in December, and although people are very kind to me and say it doesn’t show, I can see it and feel it, and I don’t like it.

Now I’m not going to pretend that this is all down to cake – copious amounts of rum and coke are definitely to blame too – but I’ve decided that having cakes sat around in the kitchen is one temptation I can do without.

My current health kick definitely isn’t forever, just until I get back down to a size I’m more happy with (and I am going to cut back on the alcohol to help this too… a bit…)

I’ll still be baking for special occasions because as far as I’m concerned nothing says love like baked goods, and I will continue to blog as often as I can. I also have a bit of a blog revamp in the pipeline, and I’m sure that will motivate me to get baking and writing more again!

This strawberry fudge cake was a cake of love, for my dear friend Charlotte’s birthday.

I was inspired by a box of strawberries and cream fudge, and came up with a vanilla sponge studded with fresh strawberries, filled and iced with a strawberry cream cheese frosting, with chinks of fudge between the layers and on top, finished with a few more fresh strawberries and pink sugar sprinkles.

It was everything I wanted it to be – pretty, summery, light and tasty. The birthday girl liked it and I think it was 100% worth the calories consumed taste testing the icing and eating leftover fudge…

Strawberry fudge cake

  • 225g butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 150g strawberry, chopped

For the icing:

  • 50g butter
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 50g cream cheese
  • 200g strawberries, chopped, plus extra to decorate
  • 100g strawberry (or plain) fudge, finely chopped
  • pink sugar sprinkles

For the sponge, follow the usual Victoria sponge method – beat together the butter and sugar, add the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla, then sift in the flour and fold in until just combined. Stir in the strawberries, then divide between three 6″ round cake tins and bake at 170 degrees (150 fan) for about 25 minutes, or until risen, golden and a skewer comes out clean.

To make the icing, start by heating the strawberries in a small saucepan, and cook them until they have completely broken down and turn into a thick puree. Beat the butter and gradually add the icing sugar, adding a little of the cream cheese if it’s not coming together. Finally, add the cream cheese and cooled strawberries and beat until light and fluffy.

Chill the icing in the fridge for an hour before assembling the cake. Spread a layer of icing on the bottom layer of cake, then sprinkle a third of the fudge pieces on top. Add the second layer of sponge, more icing and more fudge, then the final layer of sponge. Cover in a thin coat of icing and refrigerate for half an hour.

Spread the remaining icing all over the cake. Finish by adding a few more strawberries and the remaining chopped fudge to decorate, and scatter some sugar sprinkles on top as well if you like. Store in the fridge until an hour before you’re ready to serve.

Mississippi Mud Pie

Mississippi mud pie

Mississippi mud pie has been on my to-bake list for absolutely ages, although I really don’t know why considering it falls within the Pony’s number one most requested category of baking – ‘a big chocolate pie’.

I actually first made this about 4 years ago, and although it was super chocolatey and went down well with everyone who tried it, I wasn’t entirely happy as it seemed a bit hard in texture, so I vowed to one day make it again.

There are loads of recipes out there for Mississippi mud pie, which vary hugely with coffee ice cream even added to some, but I used one from Simon Rimmer on the BBC Food site, as I think he is probably second only to James Martin when it comes to celebrity chefs who make incredible looking and sounding desserts.

The only change I made to the original recipe (and as far as I can remember to what I did first time around) was to swap double cream for half fat sour cream, just to try and keep the calories down a little.

I can’t really imagine that made a huge difference to the texture of the pie, so I think I must have just overbaked the first time around as this one has the perfect contrast of crunchy biscuit crust and soft, smooth filling, with a deliciously gooey, fudgy icing on top.

It’s very rich so a small slice is plenty. It’s supposed to be served cold, but warmed up worked well too, and if it were me eating it I’d definitely go for a scoop of ice cream on the side – if you’re going to indulge in something like this you might as well go the whole hog!

Mississippi mud pie (adapted from BBC Food)

For the crust:

  • 300g bourbon biscuits
  • 65g butter

For the filling:

  • 85g dark chocolate
  • 85g butter
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 85g light brown sugar
  • 100ml sour cream

For the topping:

  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 150ml sour cream
  • 175g icing sugar
  • 60g (3tbsp) golden syrup
  • grated dark chocolate to finish

Crush the biscuits with a rolling pin or blitz in a food processor. Melt the butter in the microwave, then stir into the biscuits. Press the mixture into the base and about an inch up the sides of a 9″ round springform tin, then chill in the fridge for half an hour.

For the filling, melt the chocolate and butter over a pan of simmering water then set aside. Whisk the eggs and sugar for about 3 minutes with an electric whisk, or until thickened and more than tripled in volume. Fold in the sour cream and melted chocolate and butter, then pour over the biscuit base. Bake at 180 degrees for 40-50 minutes, or until just set in the middle, and leave to cool.

For the topping, melt all the ingredients together in a saucepan, stirring until the chocolate has melted and sugar has dissolved. Pour over the top of the pie and leave for 10 minutes, then sprinkle the grated chocolate on top to decorate. Chill in the fridge until completely cold, then cut into slices to serve.

Scottish Tablet

Once again I am cutting it rather fine, but I really love the idea of the Best of British blogging challenge, so I really wanted to make something for this month’s region – it’s just taken a while to find the time to do it!

Sponsored by New World Appliances and hosted this month by Janice at Farmersgirl Kitchen, the region is Scotland – a place I’ve only visited once, so a bit more of a challenge for me than Cornwall was!

I did quite a bit of research for traditional recipes, but in the end settled on a recipe from one of my newest cookbooks, Home Made Sweet Shop, for a traditional Scottish Tablet.

The book describes tablet as being a cross between fudge and toffee, with the same grainy texture as fudge but a bit harder.

It was supposed to be a plain vanilla tablet, but that phrase ‘gilding the lily’ was apparently made for me so I made a last minute decision to press some freshly picked raspberries into it and sprinkle desiccated coconut on top – which looks very pretty, but now means that I can’t give it as a gift as I was planning too because the raspberries won’t keep long enough – oops!

Luckily the pony is on a mission at the minute to put on weight (the total opposite to my life goal), so the 2,500+ calories in this will hopefully help him out a bit…

The other problem it caused was less easily fixed however; the lovely, fresh, juicy raspberries actually released their lovely juice into the tablet, stopping it from setting properly. So now I know, fresh fruit and tablet/fudge do not mix!

I halved the original recipe, and it was a good job I did as even with these quantities it nearly filled my largest saucepan when it was at its peak of bubbling – so be warned if you do make the full amount! The recipe below omits the fruit but if you really want to repeat my mistake, feel free to throw some in!

Scottish Tablet (adapted from Home Made Sweet Shop)

  • 450g caster sugar
  • 60g butter
  • 75ml full-fat milk
  • 75ml water
  • 130g condensed milk
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract

Put the sugar, butter, water and milk into a LARGE pan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved. Increase the heat a little and bring to a boil – not stirring at all – until it reaches 114 degrees on a sugar thermometer. Remove from the heat, stir in the condensed milk, then return to the heat and boil again, until it reaches 116 degrees, then pour into a heatproof bowl and leave to cool for 5 minutes.

When cooled a little, whisk with an electric whisk for 2-3 minutes, until it lightens and thickens quite a bit. You can beat it with a wooden spoon, but I find the whisk method a lot quicker and more effective. Spread into a 9″ loaf tin, lined with baking paper (if you’re making double quantities, use an 8×8″ square tin).

Leave for 4-5 hours to set before removing from the tin and cutting into squares. Store in an airtight container.

Chocolate sandwich hearts

I’m by no means an expert when it comes to relationships (something people who know me well will be quick to testify!) but one thing I do know, with some certainty, is that the way to any boy’s heart is food.

In the case of the friendly pony, if the food involves some sort of chocolate, then it’s pretty much the equivalent of Cupid’s arrow – which is why for Valentine’s Day there will be no cards, no gifts – just lots of chocolate-based treats.

First up are these chocolate sandwich hearts, which I’m entering for the February Tea Time Treats challenge, this month hosted by Kate of  What Kate Baked (the theme of course being romance).

The biscuits are  thin, crisp and quite strongly flavoured of cocoa with just a hint of cinnamon. The fudge filling is my new favourite obsession – a rich, chocolatey fudge sauce that can be whipped up in 5 minutes with ingredients I always have on hand – slightly dangerous for my waistline but delicious nonetheless!

Together, they create a perfect bite-sized chocolatey tea time treat. And if the thought of Valentine’s romance makes you feel a little queasy, just use a round cookie cutter instead!

Chocolate sandwich hearts (biscuits from 1001 Cupcakes, Cookies and Other Tempting Treats, filling adapted from Espresso and Cream)

(Makes 10-ish sandwich biscuits)

For the biscuits:

  • 125g butter
  • 75g icing sugar
  • 115g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then sift in the rest of the ingredients, mixing to combine. Bring the mixture together into a dough, then chill for 20 minutes in the fridge. Dust two sheets of baking paper with cocoa powder, then roll out the dough inbetween the sheets, to about 3mm thick.
Use a heart (or any shape!) cutter and place the biscuits on a baking sheet, with about an inch space between them. Bake at 160 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until firm. Leave on the baking tray to cool for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the filling:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar

Heat the butter and milk in a saucepan, stirring until the butter has melted, then bring to the boil and simmer for a minute or two. Quickly stir in the cocoa powder and sugar, and whisk until the sauce is thick and glossy. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool.

Once the biscuits and filling are cool, spread some of the filling onto half of the biscuits, then sandwich with another biscuit on top. Give to your Valentine, or just eat them all yourself!

White Chocolate Chip Fudge (sort of)

Christmas has been on my mind pretty much since September, but now we’re in December it’s officially ok for me to let the world know about it!

I’ve been thinking ahead to sweet treats that I could give as gifts this year, and one I was pretty set on was fudge.

Luckily I started early, as the trial version I made this weekend didn’t go quite to plan! I followed this recipe for white chocolate chip fudge, as it seemed relatively simple, but somewhere along the way I must have gone a bit wrong, as what I ended up with was more of a soft toffee-ish mixture…

I used a sugar thermometer so it definitely got to the right temperature, but I’m wondering whether I should have kept stirring it for longer than the recommended 5 minutes as I’ve seen other recipes that say you have to stir until the gloss has gone…

It was pretty close though, and for my first attempt at fudge I’m not too disappointed. I’m definitely going to try again, so if anyone has any tips please let me know!

Right, now I’m off to put up the tree!

(I’ll wait until I’ve perfected it to post the recipe, but the original is from BBC Good Food).