Smartie Pant Pops

When I was little I lived all over the UK, from Inverness to outer London. I never lived near my grandparents though, so whenever we went to visit them it was a week in kid heaven: dinner at restaurants, sips of wine and lovely baked goods! My favourite childhood treat however had to be by far the most ordinary thing, cookies on a stick. Like a cookie lollipop. The cookie pop reminds me of holidays with my granny, walking to the park (all the way down the longest road ever), warm toast and sitting in her big leather chair.

Last week I received an email from uni about free market they are holding. For some reason my mind immediately went to cookies and cookie pops. What student wouldn’t love a cookie pop?
My ideas for flavours are:
– Smartie Pant Pops (this post – smarties obviously!)
– Salted Pistachio with burnt white chocolate drizzle-pops (Needs a name!)
– Maple glazed bacon and coffee – Morning Pig Pops
– Lavender and honey pops (also needs a name)

Leave your ideas for names below, the best names win a mixed box of 8! (only Australia sorry, the cookies would not last an international post)

These cookies are just a basic brown sugar cookie recipe with as much Smarties as you see fit, I’ve got a 180 g packet in the dough, then I add three extra Smarties midway through backings for a good pop of colour.

Ingredients
345g all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
225g butter
170g  sugar
200g brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
180g Smarties plus more for topping

Recipe

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
Set the butter aside to soften at least half an hour before starting.
In a large bowl, mix flour, soda and salt with a wire whisk and set aside.
Add the softened butter and both sugars to a mixer and cream until light and fluffy. To this mixture add the eggs and vanilla and mix until thoroughly combined.
Add flour in two additions, scraping down the sides in between. Mix until thoroughly combined.
Stir the Smarties into the mixture and set onto parchment paper to shape into a log.

Cover the cookie log entirely and wrap in glad wrap.  Put this delicious log into the freezer and leave for at least an hour.
Slice and roll into balls, I made my cookies about 20g each however I think 30g would be better. Bake for about 10 minutes. You want them to be just browned on the edges; they will continue to bake after you remove them from the heat.

Makes 5 dozen cookies.

21st Birthday Party Planning

I’m still ridiculously in love with the invites I made for my 21st. They would suit any kind of small to medium birthday gathering; cutting out the front 40+ times had me close to the end of tether, I split it up doing about 10 each week for about a month. Small gatherings allow you to have that level of detail that just isn’t possible with a huge amount of invitees.

The invites were surprisingly cheap; I purchased a big block of these floral cards, (I think about 60 in a pack from work but you can find them in most bookshops that sell reduced price books.) some parcel paper, white printing paper, glue and a swivel knife. A guillotine also makes your life 100% easier.

The pictures describe the process pretty well. So I’ll talk more about the party! The theme was ‘wear something that grows’ I just loved that people actually did, we had leaf ties and many many floral headbands! I decorated the space with pots and flowers; but it was all rather rushed because for some reason I forgot about setting up in my schedule.

I gained quite a lot from the party:

  • I learnt that I had my cooking schedule down pat, I estimated a time for things to be done by and stuck to it.
  • Creating a spreadsheet for food purchases sounds crazy but actually saves you time and money, it meant I could pick up bargains whenever they appeared and not double up later on.
  • Creating a triangle out of the food, drinks and dessert tables should be a must; people will move around more!
  • You should start setting up at least an hour before people arrive.
  • You should ALWAYS ask someone to take pictures.
  • You should probably put your name on the invites

I absolutely love throwing parties, but I found that the internet was actually very little help if you aren’t getting married or throwing a child’s birthday. There seems to be a black hole in planning for anything between 15 and 40; let’s change that.

I absolutely detest the over planned mummy parties that get thrown for 5 year olds, it just doesn’t look fun for anyone.

Surprising Birthday Cake

I dearly love my friends, each of them are people who in some way have unequivocally altered my life for the better. So for them I make cake.

This cake is for one of my dearest friends, so she gets a super special cake. I would blather on about her but in terms of privacy and selfishness I want to keep her and the rest of my friends all to myself. I feel the same way about ice cream. The whole internet privacy thing is a biggy; being Gen Y it is hard for me to remember a time when I wasn’t connected to the internet. And I totally understand the faults of that and the bonuses.
Fault: Time keeping has gone out of the window and eye contact is becoming a thing of the past.
Bonus: Internet Shopping! Also I tend to give out more thanks because it’s just easier now.

Mia Freedman wrote an excellent article on this actually –  I love it because I read so many blogs that are pretty much parents parading their children around. As a gal in my twenties I find the situation a bit annoying, you’ve got all these rad people doing awesome stuff and then boom a baby. Cue pictures of baby clothes and ice cream smeared faces. I’m not the maternal type – the whole thing just puts me right off.

I could go on forever about the annoyance of mum blogs, but I feel it is instead more appropriate for me to continue just not being a mum and blogging about that. Ergo one blog that is not a mum blog. Hurrah!

This cake on the other hand is fabulous, inappropriate for children and wildly fun. When I say cake I of course mean a tart.

Adapted from Heston Blumenthals Recipe
Ingredients

For the base

150g all butter shortbread biscuits
30g unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp white caster sugar
25g neutral popping candy

For the chocolate ganache

175g whipping cream
Pinch of salt
A big handful of frozen Raspberries + extra for topping
50g fresh custard
110g dark chocolate (minimum of 60% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
50g milk chocolate, broken into pieces

For the flocking

500g dark chocolate
200g vegetable oil Or Cocoa Powder

 Method

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4. Place the shortbread biscuits on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 10 minutes until golden brown.

Place the biscuits in a food processor and add the melted butter and sugar. Blitz until the mixture resembles fine sand in texture.

Gently stir in the popping candy. Place the mixture inside a 15cm cake ring placed on a tray lined with baking paper. Flatten using the back of a spoon then put to one side to set.

Add the cream, salt and raspberries to a small saucepan and place over a medium heat until it almost comes to the boil. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 5 minutes, then stir in the fresh custard.

Put the dark and milk chocolate in a bowl. Place over a bain marie (a pan of gently simmering water) and allow to melt completely. Remove from the heat.

Strain the infused cream and add to the bowl of melted chocolate a third at a time, making sure to incorporate the cream thoroughly after each addition. Allow the ganache to cool to room temperature.

Once the tart base has set, use a pastry brush to spread some of the ganache on top of the base and around the edges then place in the freezer for 5 minutes. This will ensure that the ganache will not seep through.

After 5 minutes, pour the remaining ganache into the ring and place the tart in the fridge to set for 2 hours. Place the tart in the freezer at least 4 hours before flocking.

After the gateau is fully frozen, sit the gateau on a wide upturning glass or pot. Remove the metal ring by lightly warming with a blow torch. Remove by carefully sliding the ring downwards. Place back in the freezer.

For the flocking, break the chocolate into chunks and place in a small bowl. Melt the chocolate by placing the bowl over a bain marie. Leave to cool slightly before stirring in the vegetable oil.

Fill the base of a paint gun with the melted chocolate mixture and attach the nozzle. To avoid redecorating the kitchen in chocolate brown, set a large cardboard box on its side to provide a protective roof and walls to work in.

Remove the gateau from the freezer and carefully lift it onto a plate. Place the gateau in the cardboard box then spray it with the chocolate, turning carefully as you go. Return it to the freezer until 20 minutes before serving.