Yesterday I shouted at our two year old. After he repeatedly banged his little sister’s cot with two wooden spoons he was pretending to be ski poles while I attempted to put her down for a nap, I told him he was old enough to know better, shut the door on him and promptly burst into tears. Granted he’ll turn three in February and part of him knew exactly what he was doing, but because he’s so much bigger than Joy I sometimes forget, he’s still so very little. ‘Be quiet’ is a command he can commit to obey for a few minutes max before an exciting distraction sets in and patience is crucial on both our parts if we’re going to survive. In my three short months of parenting two, I’ve discovered that frustration can be high on the list of emotions for all parties involved, but raised tempers rarely improve anything. Certainly not the likelihood of babies to nap. But blondies? I have scientific proof that blondies improve just about everything. Continue reading →
Before he arrived I posted a letter of sorts to your big brother in this space. I’ve been writing something similar to you for weeks now in my head, but finding the time to get it down has been trickier second time round – if you’re ever lucky enough to be a mummy yourself (assuming that you want to be), I think you’ll understand what I mean.
When Nino was diagnosed with TGA at his twenty week scan, I promised myself I’d never ask for anything more if we could just deliver this fragile first baby into the world safe and well. But once he made me a mummy and grew and got stronger, I realized how much I adore this gig, how brilliant a big brother he could be and how while one was just perfect, two little people in our lives would be bliss. It’s hard to imagine my heart expanding any more, but I just know that it has and will. You are already so loved and so wanted and we just can’t wait to meet you.
First time around, there were so many unknowns – both what would happen when Nino was born, surgery and all that scary stuff, but also how we would be as parents. This time I feel a little more prepared, but two? Who knows how that’s going to go. Regardless of the mayhem that will undoubtedly ensue, know that your big brother is already in love with you, that he places his hand on my belly to feel you hiccup and tries to tickle you awake. He wants to teach you how to smile and talk and walk and has already requested the role of chief nappy changer. Fine by me. My ever-expanding belly means there’s no longer space to sit on my lap for stories so I’m sure he’ll be vying with you for that spot when you pop out, but I think you already know all this, you’ve been listening in on us for nine months.
Your daddy (and many a relative) thinks you’re going to be dark like me. I’m predicting a curly blonde menace to match the boys you’re joining, but it couldn’t matter less – it’s all part of the excitement of meeting you. Either way, I feel like you’re going to be a happy soul, feisty and with maybe just a little ferocious streak like your mum.
The doctors have given a due date of this Friday, but I’m pretty sure you’ll just come when you’re ready. We’ll be waiting, baby girl, to welcome you into the world: already utterly in love and ready and for you to make our family complete. Until then, this shortbread, as if life wasn’t sweet enough already 🙂
Millionaire's shortbread with an added peanut twist. The addition of salty peanut butter to the chocolate topping of these addictive little squares balances the sweetness beautifully. The perfect tea time treat.
Author: Kate Doran
Recipe type: Baking
Serves: 16 squares
For the shortbread
250g unsalted butter, softened
250g plain flour, sifted
50g corn flour, sifted
100g golden caster sugar
pinch sea salt
For the caramel
140g light brown muscovado sugar
397 tin condensed milk
140g unsalted butter
½ tsp salt
For the chocolate topping
200g dark chocolate
50g milk chocolate
3 tbsp smooth peanut butter
To make the shortbread, lightly grease a 20cm square tin and line with baking parchment. Blitz all the ingredients in a food processor, making sure not to overwork, then press into the tin. Prick with a fork then chill for one hour, before baking at 180C/160C fan for 35 - 40 minutes, until pale gold. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
To make the caramel, melt all the ingredients in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Simmer, stirring regularly, for 5 - 6 minutes until thickened then pour over the shortbread base. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours.
To make the topping, melt the dark chocolate then pour over the caramel. Melt the milk chocolate and peanut butter together, then drizzle over the top. Refrigerate for a further hour until set then cut into squares.
Will keep for several days in an airtight container.
With one bowl, seven simple, store-cupboard ingredients and ten minutes in the oven, these easy thumbprint cookies are the perfect recipe to have up your sleeve for a sunny day. The kind of day when you’ve eaten your fill of ice cream, don’t want to spend too long in the kitchen but fancy a little something sweet to finish off a meal or snack on. The speed with which these thumbprint cookies can be produced, combined with wholesome ingredients and a lack of raw egg mean they’re also perfect for baking with toddlers, where time is of the essence, as is licking the bowl and spoon. Continue reading →
Are we too close to Easter for me to be posting another chocolate recipe? Or are you riding a wave of sugary goodness – the week a write off for those whose overindulgence spilled over into Monday, the rest of the year a free for all for those who gave up chocolate for Lent? Let’s just say that wherever you sit on the chocolate-guilt-joy spectrum at this current moment in time, this recipe is one worth filing away for the future. These blondies are good. Continue reading →
A couple of weeks after Nino turned one, I’d weaned him fully onto cow’s milk. For someone who wasn’t sure how easy it would be – before getting pregnant I’d always assumed there was some sort of ratio between boob size, quantity and quality of milk produced (there isn’t) – I’m super proud to have breastfed my baby for over a year. It’s a controversial topic, and some mums choose to feed on demand for a whole lot longer whilst others are on bottles of formula from the get go, but for me it’s been a wonderful experience. Crazy, beautiful, physical and emotional, tough at times but a brilliant journey that’s reconnected me with my body, our baby and afforded me hours of quiet contemplation in an otherwise hectic year. Continue reading →
Last year we celebrated Luke’s birthday with a bottomless brunch, the tables filled with food, nearly 30 friends and endless bellinis. Being heavily pregnant, I replaced my alcohol calories with a lot of toast, two platefuls of miniature desserts and likely at least one more croissant than is socially acceptable, soaking up the atmosphere and pondering what we’d be doing for the next birthday as a newfound family of three. Fast forward one year and Luke spent a much more low key couple of hours in the local pub while I stayed at home sticky with Calpol as I snuggled a feverish baby to sleep. When he arrived home at the rock and roll hour of six thirty, Luke promptly fell fast asleep on Nino’s activity mat whilst tidying up his toys (true story), but not before he’d hoovered up a large slice of this peanut butter and jam mini cake. Life as we know it has changed unrecognisably, but wherever there’s a birthday, there will always be cake. Continue reading →
When I was little, I swore I wouldn’t be the kind of grown up who constantly remarked on how much a child had grown: it’s such a boring conversation opener. And yet here I am, parent to an almost five month old and constantly amazed by how he changes every day. The time since February feels both long and life-changing and simultaneously gone in an instant, those snuggly newborn days a thing of the past and this bright, beady, blue-eyed little boy now making himself and his personality known. Continue reading →
As I sit here writing, Nino is snuggled across my chest in his baby sling, pinky finger pointed and forehead slightly furrowed. Although he’ll now grace us with a gummy mega watt smile when we’re particularly entertaining of a morning, his everyday expressions tend towards the sterner, more concerned. These old man mannerisms seem fairly typical of newborn babies, but I also think there’s a contemplative personality growing behind those long-lashed eyes. Continue reading →
The last few weeks have seen a bit of a break from baking. Maybe it’s the warmer weather (she says, on a day when it’s pouring down with rain), the summer holiday season or the inevitable consequence of over a year of cookbook testing, writing, eating and promoting. There have been sweet treats, of course, scoops of ice cream I haven’t made myself (on holiday in Italy, it’s allowed), shop bought cantuccini (see previous bracket) and all the fresh fruit that the season can bring. There was a pistachio cake for my birthday a few weeks back which I filled with a pillow of whipped cream and fresh raspberries, but it disappeared before I got the chance to take any photos, and sometimes (always) living in the moment is more important than snapping it for posterity. Continue reading →
The last few weeks have been full of celebration. We’re at that stage in life where everyone is turning thirty, getting married or engaged with the various drinks and parties and hen dos that go with it. In between all the socialising there’s been little time for baking, so what I end up making tends to involve minimal time and effort for maximum results. Continue reading →