Chocolate Coated Peanut Butter Flapjacks with Crystallized Peanuts

homemade_flapjacks

Silky milk chocolate coated peanut butter flapjacks

How many recipes have you made in your lifetime? How many more do you think you might still? And just how many are left languishing inside eagerly acquired cookbooks, on pages torn from magazines, on bookmark bars and Pinterest boards, never to see the light of day as you return to tried, tested and trusted recipes you’ve always enjoyed?

According to a poll commissioned by the Good Food Channel last year, the average British woman can cook just seven meals from scratch, with eighty percent admitting to churning out the same thing over and again, and only two percent turning to cookbooks or online for a source of inspiration. I don’t know about you, but as a member of that minority percentage, my problem is less how to get out of a cooking rut and more deciding what to make next from the ever-growing reams of recipe ideas accumulating in print, online and in my head. Continue reading

Honeyed Peanut Ice Cream with Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

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Dark chocolate cups encasing rich peanut ice cream & studded with peanut butter pieces

If I ask you to describe your most memorable ice cream experience, what immediately springs to mind?

To start off, you might want to put it in context – a European holiday, the lazy heat of a summer’s afternoon, a long queue snaking down the street as you wait patiently for the ice cream van or a stolen after-school treat, still solid from the freezer and stuck to its flimsy paper packaging.

Flavour is likely to come next on the agenda. You might be a plain vanilla kind of person, a die-hard chocoholic, or someone with a preference for all things fruity. The ice cream in question might be smooth and simple, or packed with bits – chocolate, nuts, flakes of this, flecks of that and swirls of sticky sauce. Continue reading

Cookies & Cream Peanut Butter Blondies

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A glass of milk is a must for these chewy, sweet & slightly salty blondies

‘Is it true…blondes have more fun?’

Since this provocative line to promote Clairol home hair colour was penned by US ad exec Shirley Polykoff back in the 1950s, the idea that blondes have a better time has become part of global consciousness. Blonde = bubbly, fun and frivolous. Brunette = natural, sophisticated but sensible. And every time a celebrity changes the colour of their hair the same old research – most likely commissioned by a hair dye company – is wheeled out as the age old debate continues.

Which do you prefer? Continue reading

Salty Snickers ice cream bars

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Sweet, salty and scrumptious – homemade Snickers ice cream bars

For some reason, people are always incredibly impressed when you present them with home made ice cream. I’ve found the same with bread, and think perhaps it’s the fact that both are such readily available convenience foods that inspires such enthusiasm and awe in guests when you bother to produce them yourself.

Anyone who owns an ice cream maker will know that this is not a complicated process. We’re no longer required to fetch snow down from the mountains or patiently shave away at blocks of ice as our ancestors once did. The ability to make a basic custard is useful, but not an absolute necessity – as shown by the simple ‘Philadelphia-style’ recipe below – and then it’s just a question of mixing and matching flavours to your taste. Nonetheless, there is still something very magical about ice cream, the way it undergoes a texture transformation as it freezes, turning a nondescript liquid into a cool, creamy, velvety delight which melts in your mouth. Continue reading

Profiteroles with hot chocolate peanut butter fudge sauce

profiteroles

Bite-sized cream puffs with molten peanut butter fudge sauce

I love watching cookery programmes. Whether it’s the jaunty Jamie Oliver cruising round Italy in his camper van and crusading against American obesity, a group of stressed out contestants in the latest series of Masterchef, or simply a boozed up Keith Floyd making friends with the locals, there’s just something about food and TV that makes for a great evening’s entertainment. This year I’ve become slightly obsessed with the BBC’s Great British Bake Off.

I didn’t watch it last year, but am a big fan of crowned king of cake The Boy Who Bakes, and an avid reader of the recipes that both he, and his fellow finalist The Pink Whisk, post on their respective blogs. In last night’s episode, five female quarter finalists battled it out to create beautiful baked cheesecakes, perfectly rolled roulades and towers of croquembouche; a pastry traditionally served at French weddings and celebrations consisting of hundreds of crispy choux buns held together with hardened sugar.

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