Baking- M&M Cookies

During the first lockdown I was obsessed with baking cookies and tried a new recipe almost every week. People eventually had to tell me to stop because I was ruining their diets, and then things went back to some kind of normal (i.e. busy) and I had to stop.

I recently had the urge to make cookies again, so with a few days off work and a good browse of my absolute favourite baking blog; Jane’s Patisserie (seriously, she can do no wrong, every recipe just works) and a bit of input from Bob I decided to make M&M Cookies.

I love m&ms, and whilst I don’t usually favour a chocolate dough for cookies I couldn’t bear to not follow the recipe to a tee, and I’m bloody well glad I did.

I might not have Jane’s presentation or food photography skills, but these cookies still look pretty damn good to me. And they tasted it too. Baked for exactly 11 minute, these are slightly crispy on the edges but soft and chewy in the middle.

I don’t predict this batch of cookies hanging around long, and luckily I have the remaining 750g of a kilo bag of m&ms that I picked up in Costco to whip up some more.
I’m not posting the recipe directly as I really, really feel you NEED to visit Jane’s site and see it for yourselves (recipe here). Anyone else a Jane’s Patisserie fan girl? I know it can’t just be me…which recipe am I going to pick next?

Baking- Cornflake Tart

I’ve started to feel quite nostalgic lately, in terms of blogging this means returning to the kind of content that I used to share; outfit posts, wish lists and of course, recipes. In terms of recipes, and food in general I’m definitely veering towards childhood favourites and retro treats right now- a combination of lockdown blues and general Winter cravings.

After a lengthy discussion about cereal at work, that somehow turned in to a chat about puddings and comfort food classics I decided that the only way to use up the box of Cornflakes languishing in my pantry was to whip up one of the only redeeming features of school dinners- Cornflake Tart.

I used this recipe from BBC Good Food (one of my favourite places for reliable recipes) and it couldn’t have been simpler. I used pre-made pastry, which I usually buy frozen and find impossible. This time I picked up a fresh pack and it was so much easier to work with. In times gone by I made my own pastry from scratch, but it never really comes out right anymore and this was so much less faff!



  • STEP 1Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Unroll the pastry and briefly roll out on a lightly floured work surface until it’s large enough to fit a 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Use the rolling pin to lift the pastry over the tin, then press into the corners and sides so the excess pastry hangs over the rim. Trim this away, leaving just a small amount of excess hanging over the rim.
  • STEP 2 Line the pastry with baking parchment and fill with baking beans or uncooked rice (I used rice, you need more than you think!) Bake for 15 mins. Remove the parchment and beans/rice, then bake for another 5-10 mins until just golden. Remove from the oven and trim any excess pastry from the edges using a serrated knife.
  • STEP 3Heat the butter, syrup and sugar in a small pan with a pinch of salt, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth. Fold in the cornflakes to coat in the butter mixture.
  • STEP 4Spoon the jam into the cooked pastry base, then level the surface. Tip the cornflake mixture over the jam and gently press down until all of the jam is covered with a layer of the mixture. Return the tart to the oven and bake for another 5 mins until the cornflakes are golden and toasted. Leave to cool until just warm before slicing and serving with custard.

My presentation skills may be rustic looking at best, but this was a real hit. Lightly golden pastry, the cheapest strawberry jam I could find (for authentic school dinner taste!) and Cornflakes mixed with butter, sugar and syrup. The smell of this baking alone makes any effort worth it. Just add a healthy dose of custard and you have the ultimate mood lifter in a bowl. Now, what comfort food creation to whip up next?

Healthier Baking for Christmas*

December is notoriously a month of over-indulgence- all those parties, meals out, chocolates, tins of biscuits and homemade treats. Most people find that by the end of the month they’ve packed on a few pounds and feel decidedly sluggish, especially if like me they love to bake and can’t resist filling the house with the sweet and spicy aromas of festive bakes. With that in mind I thought I’d explore a few ideas for healthier baking, mostly simple ingredient swaps to serve as inspiration for myself and also to inspire my fellow baking addicts- and nab your ideas for healthier cakes and biscuits too!
One simple swap you can make is to reduce saturated fats by replacing butter with an ingredient like rapeseed oil. The added bonus of Rapeseed oil is that it has a pretty neutral taste so it won’t detract from your delicious treats.

Obviously baked goods are notoriously laden with sugar and it’s hard to avoid it completely- and at this time of year why would you want it? What you can do though is look for sweeteners that have more nutritional benefits than refined white sugar- honey, apple puree, banana or sugar alternatives such as the SugaVida I previously featured are all good substitutes.

You can improve the nutritional content of cakes and bakes by adding in ingredients such as flaxseeds (also a great alternative to egg in vegan baking) to boost fibre content as well as providing a good source of vitamins and minerals. You won’t necessarily taste the difference but the benefits will be there. Adding plenty of dried fruit and nuts to your recipes, and less chocolate (or dark chocolate) will also help- and with the right blend of spices are just perfect for this time of year.

Using alternatives to standard white flour will also boost the nutritional content of your bakes- buckwheat or spelt flours will increase fibre whilst almond flour will add a protein and vitamin E boost.

Finally when it comes to topping your bakes try switching regular cream or icing for greek or natural yoghurts- you could also use fruit, nuts and spices to decorate with in place of icing, and make open topped mince tarts in place of the all out pastry fest that are traditional mince pies.

I’d love to know what smart-swaps you make for healthier baked goods, both for the run up to Christmas and for the new year when everyone is trying to be good and watch their weight.


Spreading Summer Fun with Macabella

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of a delivery from Macabella, the makers of the most divine chocolate base spread ever. I’ve featured, and baked with the brand before as well as giving the spread itself a glowing review so I was more than excited to get the chance to work with them again.

By way of introduction for those who don’t know, Macabella spread is a heavenly fusion of chocolate and macadamia nuts which comes in two varities- velvet smooth and crunchy. It’s now available to buy from Ocado at £3 for a jar- and trust me, it’s well worth every penny.

This time the package included a curious selection of baking accessories along with the spread, including some silicone ice lolly moulds that just begged to be used. Therefore the first recipe I present to you today is for some Macabella ice lollies that use just two ingredients- so simple it can barely be called a recipe!
For these I quite simply took 1/3 cup of Macabella Crunch and 2/3 cup of milk the blended it all together until well combined. I then divided this between four ice lolly moulds- although I could have got six from it and popped in the freezer. I think probably these would have worked better with whole milk rather than semi skimmed but it’s really down to preference- they’d probably also work well with cream for a more indulgent treat! I left mine to freeze over night but did take some out after a couple of hours to pop on some decorations.
The second thing I made was these swirly muffins, inspired by my boyfriend musing about marble cake after we saw it in a coffee shop one Saturday. These turned out so well- the spread makes the cakes super moist and provides a good contrast to the sponge and they’ve already been requested again by aforementioned boyfriend. I used a recipe I found online here but obviously used Macabella (velvet this time) instead. They were really easy to do and I strongly recommend both this recipe and incorporating Macabella in to just about anything you might be planning to bake!
Let me know if you try either of these ideas out, or what else you think I should bake with the spread.


Kitchen Culture in the UK*

You should know by now that I love to bake, and more recently I’ve got back in to cooking. When I had my brief spell in my own flat the kitchen was by far the best equipped room in the house and whilst looking to move out again in the future it’s always the kitchen gadget section of any shop that draws me in first.

Today I’m bring you some interesting insights in to the UK’s kitchen culture thanks to five-star acrylic sheet supplier The Plastic People who create kitchen splashbacks to add a stylish touch to any cooking area.

From the most purchased kitchen items through to a look at the country’s cooking habits I thought this made for an interesting weekend read.


According to research carried out by Mintel sales of small kitchen appliances have increased by 41% between the years 2011 to 2015 (from £635 million to £897 million for those who were wondering). Sales of food preparation gadgets increased by 145% in the same time frame and hot drinks appliances such as coffee machines increased by a not too shabby 89%.

The same piece of research has also revealed that in 2015 42% of Brits purchased a kettle (guilty), 30% bought a toaster (also guilty), 15% of Brits bought a sandwich maker or grilling machine, 13% of Brits bought a smoothie maker or juicer (yep), 13% also bought a coffee capsule or pod drinks maker and 11% bought a filter coffee machine- that’s a lot of gadgets!

When it comes to upgrading appliances the following is the frequency of upgraded appliance types in the kitchen from homeowners who either renovated their kitchen in the 12 months prior to the release of the 2017 Houzz Kitchen Trends Study — UK, are currently renovating their kitchen, or who are looking to do so over the three months after the release of the research:
Dishwasher(s) – 82 per cent.
Fridge/freezer – 78 per cent.
Extractor fan – 77 per cent.
Hob(s) – 75 per cent.
Wall oven(s) – 56 per cent.
Microwave – 53 per cent.

This same study also revealed that stainless steel was the most popular colour when upgrading appliances (47 per cent opted for this), followed by black (22 per cent) and then white (10 per cent).

The 2017 Houzz Kitchen Trends Study — UK delved into the following details about how and why Brits are going about upgrading their kitchens:
The frequency of increasing kitchen sizes sat at 63 per cent in the 12 months prior to the release of the research, for those currently renovating their kitchens and for those planning to renovate the space over the three months after the release of the research.
The most popular events that triggered Brits to update their kitchen were:

42% were recently purchased homes and owners wanted to make their kitchen their own.
32% had wanted to update their kitchen all along and finally had the means to do so.
30% could no longer stand their old kitchen.
26% acknowledged that their old kitchen had either deteriorated, broken down or became unsafe.
14% were adapting to family and lifestyle changes.

Again making use of the 2017 Houzz Kitchen Trends Study — UK the top kitchen storage solutions that homeowners opted for were:

77% added a cutlery organiser
61% updated their kitchen with deep drawer organisers.
51% added pull-out waste or recycling cabinets.
41% cent updated their kitchen with a corner carousel.
39% updated their kitchen with a pot and pan organiser.
36% included pull-out trays and/or shelves.

I’m a bit of a kitchen storage freak and love the kitchen at my parents’ house as it has so many nifty storage solutions! #KitchenGoals

According to the Houzz study the reasons why homeowners looked into new storage solutions for their kitchen are as follows:
79% were motivated as they wanted to make better use of the space.
57% wanted to reduce clutter.
55% wanted to make it easier to find items in their kitchens.
36% were motivated as they wanted to utilise awkward spaces
21% wanted to make it easier to cook and bake in their kitchens.

Again referring to the Houzz study we can see that modifications to the kitchen can have a significant impact on how people are utilising the room. Interestingly…
69% spend more family time in their kitchen.
56% now find themselves working and/or studying for longer in their kitchen.
51% are hosting more dinner parties/other forms of entertaining guest in their home.
49% are baking more
43% now cook or prepare more meals at home.
42% now have more sit-down meals.
36% of people reported that tehy now order less takeaways.
23% now eat more fruits and/or vegetables.

I hope you find this post as interesting as I did, as I’ve mentioned I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to kitchens and I cannot wait for the day where I own my own home (I can dream right?) and have free reign over the design of my kitchen. My parents had theirs done just over a year ago and the difference it has made is incredible- even my Mum is cooking more which kind of says a lot really!

Tell me about your kitchens…