Love Food Boxes

Love Food Boxes

I was recently offered the opportunity to review a Love Food subscription box. The idea is simple in that you get sent ingredients to bake some seriously delicious (and instagrammable) treats in the exact quantities needed to prepare each recipe. You will, of course need to provide your own chilled ingredients such as eggs and butter. However, I find it a beautiful idea for people looking to start baking or for those who enjoy cakes fresh from the oven, but who want to make it a treat to have and really enjoy once in a while rather than a staple in their diets.

My box contained ingredients for S’mores Brookies. A brownie/cookie hybrid sandwiched together with melted chocolate and marshmallows. A most excellent way to end a busy Monday (and something nice to take into work on a long Tuesday). I found the recipe really easy for my tired brain to follow and I thought it was nice that it was something new and a bit different that I had not tried before.

I have actually has this box for a few weeks as I have been waiting for the perfect opportunity and you know what? I love them – as well as being simple for bakers of experience levels, the food looks so decadent and tastes amazing (I might be on something of a chocolate high right now). I can imagine the boxes being something you could make with your friends on a cosy night in, or give to an older child with minimal supervision. They’re probably also the sort of activity that some would find enjoyable as part of some sort of home based date night.

So here are the practical bits of information: when you subscribe the money will be take out of your account on the 1st of each month and the box will be delivered on 21st. The subscription can be cancelled at any time and the code FIRSTBOX  can be used to get 50% off your first box.

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I was sent a Love Food subscription box to review the service but all opinions are my own.

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Quick banana and chocolate cookies

Quick banana and chocolate cookies

In some ways this cookie might be considered dangerous – it took me less that 20 minutes to whip up a batch. However, being able to create something so delicious in such a short time makes me feel something of a domestic goddess – these are perfect for those times when you need to produce baked goods at short notice (think work charity bake sale or mum’s coffee morning). They are also made from ingredients most people have in their cupboards – bananaphobes please note that you can substitute the banana chips for raisins should you wish to do so.

Anyway, the key with these cookies is to be cautious on the timing. Once the edges of these go golden brown remove them from the oven and allow them to cool, rather than letting the whole cookie brown, that way you have the nice contrast between crispy and soft in the cookie.

To make approx 26 cookies you will need:

1 mug soft brown sugar

125g salted butter, softened

1 egg

1 mug self raising flour

50g banana chips

2 tablespoons chocolate spread

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line 2 baking trays (you will probably still need to take the cookies in batches). Using an electric whisk, wooden spoon or food processor beat together the sugar and butter until it is thoroughly mixed. Beat in the egg. Add the flour and crumble in the banana chips. Last, whisk in the chocolate spread so that it has a marbled effect.

Using a teaspoon place small amounts of the cookie mix onto your lined trays. Make sure you leave room for the cookies to spread; even if you have to bake in batches.

Bake for around 11 minutes, until the cookies are golden. They will come out of the oven very soft so be careful removing them from the baking tray. Allow to cool so the cookies can harden.

These cookies can be kept for several days in an airtight container.

Chocolate orange cookies

Chocolate orange cookies

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So this recipe is a simple adaptation of a cookie recipe I have previously written about making during my formative years. Still, sometimes its nice to add a twist to an old favourite – I use less butter in this version as the dough can be quite sticky with the chocolate not being spread through the dough. Terry’s chocolate orange is something I traditionally associate with Christmas, however I made up a batch of these for my birthday gathering as they look wonderful and take hardly any time to make.

In this recipe everything is measured with mugs as it is one from a time before I owned a set of scales – I could weigh it out but to be honest its nice having a few recipes in my head that I can make without having to follow a set of instructions. I like to think if I really, really needed cookies at 3 am I could pull this recipe from my head with no bother.

For chocolate orange cookies you will need:

1 mug of soft brown sugar

110g softened butter

1 egg

1 and 1/2 mugs self raising flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 chocolate orange (eg. Terry’s)

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Line 2 or more baking trays with baking paper or thoroughly grease them. Use a wooden spoon to cream together your butter and sugar. To this add your vanilla and egg making sure your beat the mix well.

DSC_1318To this mix add your flour. Once the flour is nearly incorporated into your mix bring everything together with your hands. Roll the cookie dough into balls. Flatten each cookie dough ball and place on your lined baking tray. Take care each cookie has room to spread as they will do so whilst baking.DSC_1319DSC_1320Break apart your chocolate orange into segments. Press a segment firmly on top of each cookie. Bake each cookie for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Leave to cool slightly on the baking tray as the cookies will be sort fresh from the oven.

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What could be better than a delicious chocolatey orangey cookie on a slightly damp May day?

What

Mars Bar melt cookies

I have a massive love of the type of biscuit where you can melt stuff in a pan and add it to dry ingredients. It makes baking things so quick and simple. Last week I had to provide baked goods to a cake stall at work (is bringing biscuits to a cake stall possibly not following instructions) and I made these Mars Bar cookies and some oat biscuits (recipe to be posted at a later date). These cookies are wonderfully sticky and sweet, a real crowd pleaser.

To make these cookies you will need:

125g butter (margarine tastes terrible in biscuits so always use butter if you can)

175g brown sugar (soft brown sugar is best but I ran out and used Demerara sugar and it was fine)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

150g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

200g Mars Bars (about 4)

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C or 160°C if you have a fan oven. Line your baking trays with baking paper or silicone liners.
Slice your Mars Bars.

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Look at the glorious caramel!

Melt the butter and sugar in a saucepan until it starts to bubble. Immediately take off the heat and stir to get rid of the excess heat.

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Once the sugar and butter mixture has cooled transfer into a mixing bowl and quickly beat in your egg and vanilla extract.

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Add the flour and baking powder. Beat until everything is smooth.

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Once everything is well combined stir in the chocolate.

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Don’t forget to lick the bowl!

Use a teaspoon to put the mixture onto the baking trays. Allow plenty of space as the cookies tend to spread slightly. Cook the cookies in batches if you need to.

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Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes. Some of the caramel might have spread out of the cookies. If this happens, don’t despair. Just use a spatula to push the caramel back toward the cookies.

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Messy but delicious

It took a great deal of restraint to take these to work without having a nibble. The kitchen smelt lovely and sweet all night. These cookies can be stored for several days in an airtight container if you can resist them for that long!

 

 

Cookies – inspired by Lyddie

When I was a student I lived in a house share with rather a lot of girls. It was as you would expect, fun, very messy and more pairs of make-up and hair products under our roof than we could possibly use. Now, I occasionally used to bake with my friend Lyd. At the time we didn’t even have a mixing bowl, we used to mix up our cookies in our biggest pan. Then we used to share out cookies and watch endless episodes of whatever tv programme E4 happened to be playing on a loop that day.

Now Lyd is now a very accomplished baker (far better than me!). She makes the most beautiful looking cakes and it makes me both miss baking with her and feel horribly jealous that I no longer live close enough that I can sample the goodies.

Anyway, to remind you of the good old old days of toasties and supernoodles, here is a basic cookie recipe that can be cooked anywhere as long as you have an oven, a baking tray, a wooden spoon and a receptacle large enough to hold your cookie dough. The dough actually tastes pretty nice raw; but don’t go making yourself sick eating it or you won’t have enough cookies to enjoy for the rest of the week. (Well I say the rest of the week, I took mine to my Uncle’s and they were pretty well received).

To make these cookies you will need:

125g butter (softened)

1 mug soft brown sugar

1 1/2 mugs self raising flour

1 large egg (please please buy free range)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

100g of chocolate chunks (or Smarties, Rolos or M&Ms)

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a baking tray or line with baking paper or a silicone liner. Cream the butter and the sugar together.

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Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract.

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Sadly not a double yolker

Add the chocolate chips and the flour and mix well.

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These will be very chunky chocolate cookies
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Almost an action shot
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Cookie dough – this tastes pretty fantastic raw (J always tells me off for this, he thinks I’m going to catch salmonella!)

Make little balls from the cookie dough – whatever size you fancy. Place on your greased/lined baking tray.

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Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cookies are golden brown.

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Place on a wire rack to cool (use a plate if you don’t have a wire rack).

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Serve with endless cups of tea. If you’re still a student and you’re making these for a party or a girls night, they also go well with cheap wine!

If you have any left put in a tupperware container or biscuit tin to keep fresh.

The Cake and Bake Show, Manchester

As mentioned in my previous post I was at the Cake and Bake show at the weekend first with J, then accompanied by my parents. It was nice to go and absorb some knowledge and buy some cool kitchen stuff (zombie biscuits will be a definite blog post). I particularly liked all the demonstrations from various people in the food industry and as much as anything else I was inspired to get a bit more creative in the kitchen and even attempt my own bread – something I have been putting off for years. In addition, I can safely say I will take on board a lot of the tips given, especially about icing cakes which doesn’t happen to be a strength of mine.

J and I also spent a considerable amount of time watching the people of Billington constructing their gingerbread village. J was pretty freaked out by the gingerbread boy. To be fair, it was almost as tall as me and reminded us of something from Doctor Who.

This is a highly edited selection of the photos I took from both days.

Oh and if anybody is interested I bought: zombie biscuit cutters, vanilla bean paste and a piping nozzle for cupcakes. My wonderful parents also treated me to a whizzy whisk (a hand whisk) so hopefully you will see lots more recipes involving it!

Also if you happen to be attending the London event make sure you watch any Bake Offs involving previous “The Great British Bake Off” contestants. The funniest half hour of my week was watching Cathryn and Brendan making cookies (mainly because of some seriously sticky cookies and the children judging the competition).

My baking bible – Baking Magic

Originally I was going to share a recipe that I adapted from my favourite baking book, but I decided to just recommend the book to start off with. Baking Magic written by Kate Shirazi is a fantastic baking book for people of all abilities. (I know some amazing bakers who are terrified about how their biscuits will turn out). My baking style – great tasting, not so beautifully decorated was wonderfully improved by this book and I was inspired to practise cake and biscuit decorating techniques. The book is a conglomeration of 4 books; Cupcake Magic, Chocolate Magic, Cookie Magic and Muffin Magic (the latter was written by Susannah Blake).

Shirazi and Blake both writing in a fun, lively way encouraging you to get creative. But my favourite thing is actually where they describe recipes by how faffy they are (one of my mum’s favourite expressions about how fiddly a recipe is). A lot of the cake and biscuits designs are pretty tongue in cheek – such as the gingerbread gangland. There are also recipes that are very suitable to make with smaller children such as jammy splodgers.

My personal favourites from the book are the Guinness cake and Beet the Choccy cake, while my mum adores the butterscotch cookies. The main thing with learning to bake (which relies a lot on the chemical properties of food to make cakes rise) that above all practise is important. If it doesn’t turn out looking beautiful first time, keep practising. People are more than happy to eat cake that’s risen more on one side than the other. Its only really you that notices imperfections (particularly with dessert, whenever cake appears at work I become rather Gollum like hissing “my precious” at whatever’s on offer).

You can find out more about Kate Shirazi and her cake company Cakeadoodledoo here.

Below is a series of photographs showing the butterscotch cookies and Guinness cake I made from the book when I was at home with my parents for Christmas.