Vegan Apple & Blackberry Cakes

This year, instead of making New Year’s Resolutions that I know I am not going to have the will power or inclination to strive to keep, I opted for a promise to myself to spend more time individually with each of our children. So often, we all cook together and I love all the chaos this inevitably brings and the fact that no one misses out on the fun, but it does mean I am not spending time with each child on their own.

Squishing and squashing blackberries into icing sugar.

My New Year’s Day baking in pyjamas session was with Seb. It was considerably earlier than I would have chosen, but he was awake and seeing as he gets his early bird tendencies from me, I thought it fell to me to keep him occupied. I did not want three children awake at that hour slowly chiselling away at my patience! This did mean we were making these cakes at 7am and they were in the oven by 7.30am and cooled and iced before 9am.

Icing cakes.

As it is January, we decided on a vegan recipe to coincide with Veganary. Please don’t switch off here, because if I hadn’t mentioned that these were vegan and you tried one, I doubt you would realise. As an added bonus, they contain apple and blackberries so that definitely makes them healthier than the cakes without fruit, right?! It is an easy recipe to make, but young children may well need help grating the apple. We used frozen blackberries, but for the icing we did let them defrost so we could squish and squash them and mix with the icing sugar to create a vibrant icing for the cakes. This recipe makes 8 cakes and they will keep in the fridge for a couple of days if they last that long.

Yummy, yummy in our tummies!

To make our Vegan Apple & Blackberry Cakes you will need:

  • 100ml plant-based milk (we used hazelnut, but any will do)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 30ml vegetable oil or rapeseed oil
  • 1/2tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 120g self raising flour and an extra half tbsp
  • 40g blackberries (frozen is OK)
  • 50g grated apple
  • 80g icing sugar
  • 30g blackberries (defrosted if frozen)


  1. Preheat the oven to 160 °c fan and line eight holes of a muffin tray with paper or silicone cases.
  2. Put the sugar, grated apple and the liquid ingredients in a large bowl and mix to combine.
  3. Sift the self raising flour and baking powder into the mixture and gently fold together.
  4. Sprinkle half a tablespoon of flour over the frozen blackberries and ensure they are all completely coated – this should prevent them from all sinking to the bottom of the cakes.
  5. Add to the cake mixture and gently fold them in.
  6. Divide the mixture between the eight cake cases and place in the oven for around 20 minutes until springy to the touch and a cake tester comes out clean (unless you hit a blackberry).
  7. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. While the cakes are cooling, squish and squash the defrosted blackberries until they are liquidy. Mix with the icing sugar and add more icing sugar if you want a thicker icing.
  8. Cover the cakes and allow to set. Store in the fridge.

This recipe was featured in Penguin News on 10 January 2020.

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Rocky Road Traybake

There are certain days when only chocolate cake will do. I would love to claim that this cake was the outcome of a desperate need for chocolate due to a bad day, but it was in fact just a way to entertain the kids and have them working towards pudding for a family dinner! Atticus helped Simon make the main course and Seb and Ophelia joined me on the other side of the kitchen to make pudding. On this occasion, dinner certainly was a full family effort. They are happy memories.

Into the pan.
On go the marshmallows!

This cake also gave me an excuse to open the kilogram bag of mini marshmallows that I managed to find and sent Simon and the kids off to discover for themselves and purchase. There was pure delight when they saw such a large bag of mini marshmallows. Previously they had only seen the 150g bags that I would purchase in Tesco. I did miss an opportunity for a maths lesson asking how many small bags would make up the large bag. Oh well, there’s an idea for next time! I was a mean mum though; I made them wait until I had a definite recipe in mind before we opened them. I knew that if we just opened them, I would blink and they would all be finished! I have three marshmallow-loving kiddies and a husband who isn’t averse to adding them by the handful to his pudding or cereal bowl! They would have been inhaled and while this would have been an impressive feat, I really wanted to prevent this outcome.

To mark the opening of our gigantic bag of marshmallows, we made this Rocky Road Traybake. It is a very think cake sprinkled with raisins, chopped nuts and mini marshmallows and drizzled with melted white chocolate. You will be surprised to hear that it lasted more than 24 hours. Although this is probably because I packaged it away and hid it under the bread in the bread bin! No one thought to look there so it was safe until I was ready to distribute it! However, now I have written this, I shall have to find a new cake hiding place.


  • 115g butter/margarine
  • 115g dark brown sugar
  • 100g plain flour
  • 15g cocoa powder
  • 1 medium egg
  • 5tbsp milk
  • 50g chopped nuts
  • 40g raisins
  • 20g mini marshmallows
  • 40g white chocolate, melted


  1. Grease and line a brownie pan, or small square/rectangular cake pan and preheat the oven to 160°c fan.
  2. Cream the butter and the sugar together until smooth.
  3. Add the egg and beat.
  4. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and mix until combined.
  5. Add the milk and mix until smooth.
  6. Dollop the batter into the baking tin and spread so all the edges are covered. This is meant to be a thin cake, so it may require a bit of effort.
  7. Sprinkle the nuts, raisins and marshmallows on top and place in the oven for 15 minutes until a skewer comes out clean (unless you go through a marshmallow!
  8. Allow to cool fully before drizzling with melted chocolate.

I hope you enjoy this traybake as much as my family did and do look for a good hiding place for it so it doesn’t all disappear in a blink!

Look at that chocolatey goodness!
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Banana, Orange and White Chocolate Muffins

Still using cups while we wait for the scales to arrive!

We are in the home stretch. Our shipping crate is allegedly imminent. We will soon have all of the baking supplies that I packed including my scales and beloved brownie pan! To celebrate this auspicious occasion, what did we do?! Yes you’ve got it, we baked! We made Banana, Orange and White Chocolate Muffins.

Mix it all up!

There were bananas in the supermarket recently. Back in the UK I would think nothing of weighing out my bananas and buying them so Seb could eat a daily banana. Here in Stanley, I have to remind myself how lucky I am that Seb is the only one in the family who really loves bananas. In our local supermarket they sell for 50p each unless they are brown when they sell for 25p each. I must confess that after seeing a friend buy brown bananas for banana bread and to freeze for smoothies I quickly followed suit. I bought a 10 bananas and promptly froze 8 in slices to put in cakes. Yes I did also ensure that I cut each banana into the same amount of pieces so that I knew how many slices made up a banana. In case you need to know, in this instance it was 6.

Spot the orange between the muffins!

Having all those bananas in the freezer meant that a banana bake was on the cards. I was in the fortunate enough position to have some leftover white chocolate following my raspberry blondie making session for Simon’s birthday so combined with some orange zest and bananas and boom! There you have it these yummy muffins were born!


  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4tbsp melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • 100g chocolate chips/chopped chocolate


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°c fan.
  2. Mush the banana with a fork and make it as smooth as you can.
  3. Put the mashed bananas, flour, sugar, milk and melted butter into a large bowl.
  4. Crack the 2 eggs into a small bowl and gently whisk.
  5. Add the whisked eggs to the bowl and then mix until all the ingredients are fully combined.
  6. Add the chocolate and the orange zest and mix to ensure they are distributed evenly.
  7. Divide the mixture between 12 muffin cases and place in the oven for 18-20 minutes until they are golden and springy to the touch.

These didn’t last long, and it wasn’t because we had friends popping in to share them! Atticus and Ophelia did a stellar job and even helped with the washing up and were rewarded with a clean bowl of water with bubbles for their boats. Yes they did get rather soggy and it did necessitate a change of clothes for each child, oh and several tea towels to absorb all the water that had spilled onto the floor!

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Rhubarb Maple Muffins

A friend very kindly gifted me some of the rhubarb she grew in her garden. Some of it made its way into rhubarb crumble, which according to another friend is an absolute must if you have any rhubarb, but the rest made its way into these Rhubarb Maple Muffins. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will be unsurprised to hear that these were an experiment. My children and husband seem to have become quite indulgent of all the crazy and hairbrained inspired ideas that we trial in the kitchen. I certainly do have children who are eager to experiment in the kitchen and are generally willing to try new foods even if they don’t initially like them. In time, I am hoping they will learn to put their own flavour combinations together and like a wider range of flavours.

The liquid sweetener makes it easier for little hands to mix together fully.

Rhubarb isn’t known for its super sweet qualities. I quite like it when it retains some of its natural tartness in a bake and isn’t fully masked in sugar. So to compliment its flavour I decided we would use maple syrup instead of sugar in our muffins. The maple syrup adds a nutty flavour to them and as it is a liquid makes it very easy for little chefs to mix all the ingredients together. I will say that I cut all the rhubarb into small pieces as it required a bit of strength and the 2 year old wouldn’t have managed this. Her and her brothers did enjoy seeing what the whole rhubarb looked like complete with its large leaf. I think Ophelia’s favourite thing about it was that it was pink. She was over the moon when she realised we were going to use the pink branches mummy had been given!

Such yummy muffins!

This recipe does make a bakers dozen of muffins which is great when it comes to sharing the spoils, but somewhat frustrating when dividing the mixture and then using another muffin tray for a single muffin… You could make some mini muffins with it too if you are looking to control portion sizes more easily for your tinies and if you are unsure what their reaction will be to rhubarb. For full disclosure, my kids were not a fan of the rhubarb. This will not deter me, I am still going to cook it with them as some of them have enjoyed it in other bakes in the past (Strawberry and Rhubarb Flapjacks). All the grown ups who tried them did give favourable reviews so I am unperturbed!

Filled with rhubarb!


  • 300g plain flour
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 300g finely chopped rhubarb
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 180ml maple syrup
  • 180ml milk
  • 100g melted butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°c fan and line 13 muffin holes with cases.
  2. Put the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix to combine.
  3. Add the rhubarb and orange zest and mix again.
  4. Crack the eggs into a jug and whisk.
  5. Add the milk, melted butter and maple syrup to the beaten egg and whisk again to combine.
  6. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix fully.
  7. Divide the mixture between the muffin cases and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes until springy to the touch.
  8. Allow to cool and enjoy.
Her favourite part of this bake!

It always surprises me which part of the recipe my kids end up enjoying the most. In this one, zesting the orange was definitely Ophelia’s favourite task. Licking the bowl was a close second though!

Do your youngsters like rhubarb? Do you think they would like to try these? Please do get in contact if you make this recipe; I would love to hear from you.

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Unicorn Blondies

Unicorns standing to attention.

Every time it feels like I have my children pegged, they turn round an surprise me. I know they don’t do this to be contrary, but their little quirks often leave me bemused. Allow me to enlighten you all further. Ophelia, like most two year old girls, loves pink – it is her favourite colour. No one else in the house is allowed to have that colour as their favourite. I have been told that my favourite colour in no uncertain terms is purple! (This is fine by me, but have I created a little bossy monster?!) She lives for the days when she can wear as many mismatched items of pink clothing and display them to as many people as possible. She is also the little girl who refuses to be left out by her brothers and insists on joining in with their superhero games and who received a Hulk costume for Christmas so she isn’t left out.

She also loves glitter and all things that sparkle. Unicorns it seems fall into this category. She has unicorn toys, a back pack and a lunchbox. So with this bake for World Unicorn Day on the 9 April (yes this is a thing, I was unaware until a post on Instagram informed me of the fact) I thought I would be making these with just her, but the boys also eagerly insisted on joining in – an unexpected, yet welcome surprise (this proves you should never – even subconsciously – try to categorise your children…).

The success of this bake should be measured by the fact that I have had to hide them from everyone so that they don’t gobble them up without me noticing. Because I am clearly the only one who can be trusted with leftover cake in this house… My only motive is to ensure that everyone gets their fair share and so I can take a secret blondie tithe!

Beautiful colours in the blondie.

To make the different colours, we used frozen blueberries and raspberries instead of food dyes. They don’t produce as vibrant a colour as food dyes do, but they do add a really nice fruity taste to them. They also make me think that they are slightly healthier despite all the chocolate!


  • 400g white chocolate (300 for inside the blondies and 100 for on top)
  • 75g butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 175g plain flour
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 75g frozen blueberries
  • 75g frozen raspberries


Colouring the blondie, dolloping it into the tin and the pretty pattern it created.

  1. Remove the blueberries and raspberries from the freezer and allow to defrost a little. I placed mine on defrost in the microwave for 20 seconds each.
  2. Preheat the oven to 170°c fan and grease and line a brownie pan.
  3. While still in the packets, bash the chocolate with the end of a rolling pin to make small pieces.
  4. Place 100g of the chocolate pieces into a heatproof bowl with the butter and put in a double boiler until all melted. Allow to cool a bit.
  5. Put the sugar and eggs in another bowl and whisk together until smooth and completely combined.
  6. Gradually add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat together.
  7. Sift in the flour and the baking powder and fold together.
  8. Add another 200g of the bashed chocolate and mix so all the bits are evenly distributed.
  9. Divide the mixture between 3 small bowls as evenly as you can.
  10. Using a stick blender, zap the blueberries and raspberries (in their separate containers) until they are smooth.
  11. Put the blitzed raspberries into one of the blondie bowls and the blueberries into one of the other bowl and mix to combine.
  12. With three separate spoons, dollop alternate blobs of the three mixtures into the brownie pan creating a pretty pattern as you go.
  13. Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes until cooked.
  14. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for a while.
  15. Melt the final 100g of white chocolate and drizzle all over the blondies (we used a teaspoon to do this) and decorate with copious amounts of rainbow or unicorn sprinkles or even edible unicorn wafers like we did.
Adding the finishing touches to make them worthy of the unicorns.
Photo bombing unicorn!

I hope you have a sparkly and colourful World Unicorn day filled with rainbows and other beautiful things, but most importantly these Unicorn Blondies. Today is 9 April, and I am happy to report that we have three small squares of blondie left for the kids today. That is good planning and restraint on my part!

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Fat Rascals

I was never a particularly rebellious teenager. That said, I do remember being told off by my dad when I was thirteen for reading a book in the back of the car as we drove across the Grand Canyon National Park. I remember having looked out the window and seen the astonishing beauty of the scenery, feeling overwhelmed and then delving back into my historical fiction book about the area that I had bought earlier that day. Language and books have always held a spot very close to my heart. While translating I used to spend hours procrastinating with Roget’s Thesaurus to try and find the perfect word to convey the meaning of the text. This may seem to have no connection whatsoever to the Fat Rascals that I made with Ophelia last week, but the word rascal got me thinking of what other words I could use for them. So, drum roll please… we made Massive Scoundrels! It made me chuckle so much to myself that I had to share!

No mummy I don’t want help cutting the dough, I do it myself!

For those of you who haven’t heard of Fat Rascals before, they are a rich scone and rock cake hybrid from Yorkshire. I don’t come from Yorkshire, but my sister and I had a lovely mini break there before I had the kids, when I was between jobs. We went to the iconic Betty’s Tearooms and had a Fat Rascal and tea. It was exquisite and I still hold very fond memories of that trip and the Fat Rascal all these years later. So when I was hunting for something I could make with Ophelia and was thinking of scones, I decided we would try and replicate Betty’s yummy Fat Rascals. The exact recipe Betty’s Tearooms use is a closely guarded secret, but I did some research and drew elements from a couple of recipes I found in my cookbook collection and online. They did also resemble my memories so I was happy.

Making faces.

These are excellent to make with children as they can get involved in pretty much every stage from rubbing in butter, pouring cream, squishing and squashing to form the dough and counting out and tearing the glacé cherries and counting out the almonds to make faces on top of them.


For the dough

  • 125g plain flour
  • 125g self raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 150g dried fruit (we use a mixture of raisins and sultanas)
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8tsp nutmeg
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 1 egg
  • 60ml double cream

For decoration

  • 6 cherries halved
  • 18 whole almonds
  • 1 beaten egg


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°c or 180°c fan. Line a baking tray with a silicone baking mat or greaseproof paper.
  2. Sieve the flowers into a large bowl. I tend to let the children alternate between gently tapping the side of the sieve and gently stirring the flours in the sieve.
  3. Stir in the baking powder.
  4. Add the butter and ‘tickle’ it into the flours until it looks like fine breadcrumbs.
  5. Add the sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and dried fruit and mix until fully combined.
  6. Pour in the cream and the beaten egg and mix gently before bringing together with your hands. Knead until a dough has formed.
  7. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and then make three equally-sized pieces from each of the two pieces of dough. You should have 6 lumps.
  8. Shape each lump with your hands until they look like large rounds.
  9. Brush the second beaten egg over the Fat Rascals.
  10. Tear the 6 cherries in half and use two pieces on each for eyes.
  11. Use three almonds on each to make a smile.
  12. Place in the oven for between 15 and 20 minutes. They are done when golden brown. Leave to cool on the tray for 5-10 minutes before moving them.
Imagine them with long thin tails to look like the gulper eels like my daughter did or just look at the yummy Fat Rascals and decide when to make them!

When these came out of the oven and Ophelia had a look at her handiwork and she exclaimed: ‘They look like gulper eels!’ In case you are not as familiar with sea creatures as my Octonaut-loving two year old, a gulper eel is an eel with a mouth which looks disproportionate to the size of its thin tail. It’s animation in the show portrays a creature with beady eyes and small, but very prominent pointy teeth. So I suppose she was right, they do look a bit like gulper eels in their own little way…

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Slow Cooker Steamed Lemon Sponge

And just like that the Christmas holidays are over for another year. Part of me is rather looking forward to having a bit more time to get everything done, but the other part of me is mourning the end of the holiday time and the fact that the boys are returning to school. As a last fun activity for the holidays I thought it would be fun to experiment in the kitchen with a steamed sponge. If the thought of having to watch the pan and continuously top up the water puts you off making a steamed sponge, we cooked ours in the slow cooker.

You could make this with any flavour jam or curd that you have leftover in the fridge or even some gift jars like we did. As we made lemon sponge we put in lemon zest and juice, but altering the flavours would be really easy. For a vanilla sponge, use 1tsp of vanilla extract and your jam flavour of choice. For a chocolate sponge, remove a tbsp of the flour and add a tbsp of cocoa powder and 100g of chocolate chips and use chocolate spread instead of jam or curd. I am sure a chocolate-based pudding is pretty much a firm favourite in most households!

Atticus zesting. Shortly before he tried to eat the lemon without the skin!

Since starting cooking with the kids regularly, I have learnt that asking small hand to hold a citrus fruit and have a go at zesting invariably ends up with somewhat grumpy children. They want to complete the task, but as yet are unable to hold such a large fruit and operate the zester at the same time. To enable them to complete more of recipes using zest on their own, we tend to use a tub grater with the small grater attachment to achieve fine zest. Atticus managed this admirably for this recipe and was quite sad when he had done it all! It may seem obvious, but maybe this tip will help someone. It took longer than it probably should have for the penny to drop for me!

In the slow cooker on high for 3 hours.

The one bit of this recipe the kids didn’t do by themselves, was folding the lid and tying the string around the pudding basin. This can be a bit of a tricky process. I had Seb lay the foil down first and then the baking parchment over it. We folded it in half and then he painted the greaseproof paper with butter. I tied the string round in a double knot while he held on to the edges of the paper to ensure it all went under the string. I did also let Atticus pour the water into the slow cooker. Yes we did have a bit of a puddle on the surface and the floor as the jug was too full for him to accurately gauge the angle and say splish splosh at the same time!


  • Butter/margarine for greasing the pudding basin and parchment
  • 5tbsp of lemon curd
  • 175g butter/margarine (remove from the fridge early to soften if using butter)
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 1tbsp milk
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of half a lemon
The entire lemon sponge in all its yummy glory!


  1. Grease a 1.2 litre pudding basin with lots of butter or margarine. We always use silicone brushes to do this and the kids have fun painting the surface.
  2. Put the 5tbsp of lemon curd in the bottom of the basin and put to one side while making the sponge.
  3. Put all the ingredients for the sponge in a large bowl and mix together until fully combined. We used electric beaters to do this.
  4. Pour or dollop the cake mixture into the pudding basin over the lemon curd.
  5. Lay out a bit of foil which is large enough to cover the pudding basin with a bit extra and then a piece of baking parchment on top of it. Put a fold vertically down the middle and grease the baking parchment with butter.
  6. Put the baking parchment (butter side down) over the pudding basin and tie the string round in with a knot. You could also fashion a handle from the string, but I don’t tend to.
  7. Pour water into your slow cooker so that it reaches half way up your pudding basin. We used cold water so the kids could decant the water.
  8. Put the slow cooker on high for 3 hours. I checked the progress of ours by peaking under or poking a skewer through the wrapping at 2 hours. The pudding is ready when a skewer comes out clean.
  9. When out of the slow cooker, uncover and turn the pudding out onto a plate. Serve immediately with custard or ice cream or even plain.

You could also make this on the stove in a large pan allowing it to simmer for 2 1/2 hours. I have found that this is a wonderfully adaptable and versatile pudding. We made ours after lunch and served it for pudding at our evening meal after afternoon when it was ready.

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Christmas Brownies

How do you prepare for the festive season? For us it goes a bit like this: in September I start making a list of all the seasonal things I want to make and do over the Christmas period. This list tends to grow right up until Christmas eve and no matter how many activities I manage to strike off the list we never ever manage to get through the whole list.

The decorated tree.

One of the things we most certainly can cross off the list is buying a Christmas tree. Every year I think it would be wonderful to go somewhere where we can choose our tree and cut it down ourselves, but we never quite manage to make it. What we did manage to do this year is have a rather public disagreement about what size tree we should purchase. As usual I was advocating a compact yet perfectly proportioned tree. Simon wanted a tree the size of which would be more suited to Trafalgar Square or the Great Hall at Hogwarts. The kids seemed to find this discord highly entertaining especially when daddy balanced Ophelia on each boys’ head in turn as a unit of measurement for trees, insisting the tree had to be taller. We returned home with three happy children and a tree too big for my liking and too small for Simon’s, but perfect in the children’s eyes. All things considered, the latter is the most important.

Anyway, so back to baking. I always get my way when cake is involved. Simon knows not to try and change my mind when I have an idea for a bake. So when I decided that I wanted to run some sweet mincemeat through my brownie batter with some flaked almonds there was no opposition despite the fact he isn’t a fan of sweet mincemeat. In the end, he did try one and ended up liking it so I am glowing in my victory!


  • 185g unsalted butter
  • 185g dark chocolate
  • 185g light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 85g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 200g mincemeat (we used homemade cranberry, orange and Cointreau)
  • 75g flaked almonds
  • 100g white chocolate chips


  1. Put the butter and chocolate into a bowl and put over a saucepan with water. Make sure the water in the pan doesn’t touch the bowl with chocolate and butter. Heat until the chocolate and butter have melted and stir every so often.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool a bit. Preheat the oven to 180°c or 160°c fan and grease and line your brownie pan.
  3. Break the eggs into a large bowl with the sugar and whisk until they become thick and creamy.
  4. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture over the egg mixture and fold together with a rubber spatula.
  5. Sieve the flour and cocoa powder into the chocolate and egg mixture and gently fold.
  6. Zap the mincemeat in the microwave for 20-30 seconds to loosen it. Add the chocolate chips, flaked almonds and mincemeat and gently fold and stir so they are all evenly distributed.
  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and cook for 25-30 mins and bake until the centre doesn’t wobble when removed from the oven.

If your mincemeat doesn’t contain any alcohol, you could add a tbsp. to the brownie batter to make them more adult flavoured if you so choose. Ophelia and I had fun making these and she looked like a chocolate swamp monster when we were through. Yes I did let her lick the bowl so that is my fault! To my surprise, she didn’t take much convincing to share them. But that said, when her brothers had some, she made it very clear (read at a loud volume) that she made them! I hope you enjoy these Christmas Brownies as much as we did.

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Honeycomb Blondies

I recently discovered how easy it is to make honeycomb, or cinder toffee if you prefer to call it that.  Seb and I were rather mesmerized by how it bubbled and fizzed and had great fun smashing it!

After our foray into making cinder toffee, I decided to find something to do with the leftover honeycomb. I decided that it would work nicely in some blondies. Ophelia had a lot of fun mixing and putting the toffee into the mixture. I was impressed at how restrained she was as none of the toffee ended up in her mouth! These are really easy to make with little chefs as they contain melted butter which makes it really easy to mix entirely by hand. We did have rather a lot of flour on the surface during the process, but the result was a truly scrummy baked good. It was so tasty that Seb was heartbroken when daddy ate the last couple of pieces without saving him any. Simon was forbidden from taking the second batch into work after that reaction. This means I have to exercise some super human restraint and ignore them while he is at work. So if I do happen to be in your vicinity with baked goods, please do save me from myself and remove the baked goods from my possession – my waistline will thank you!

Ophelia in charge of the egg.

We also used this recipe to help Ophelia practise her egg cracking skills. The first one she watched me crack and then she had a go on her own. This time we had no egg shell in the mixture and a happy little girl with a round of applause from her mother and grandmother.

You don’t have to have homemade honeycomb for this recipe, you could use some chopped up Crunchie bars and that would also have the added benefit of adding chocolate to the recipe too. Now I have that idea in my head, I may have to go and make another batch of them with Crunchie bars. If you do want to have a go making your own honeycomb, I have left a recipe at the end of this post.


  • 240g plain flour
  • 300g golden caster sugar
  • 225g melted butter
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 160g cinder toffee or Crunchie bars


  1. Preheat the oven to 170°c or 150°c fan and line a brownie pan.
  2. Mix the melted butter and sugar until fully combined.
  3. Add in the eggs and vanilla and beat.
  4. Put the flour, baking powder and salt and mix together.
  5. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until smooth.
  6. Add the honeycomb and mix.
  7. Put the mixture in the lined brownie pan and cook for 30-35 minutes.
  8. Once cooled sprinkle with sifted icing sugar and cut into squares.

These blondies will not win any prizes in a beauty contest, but the honeycomb caramelised beautifully and rises to the top giving a sort of irregular patchwork effect. They have become a new family favourite particularly with Simon and Seb.

If you want to make your own honeycomb, you will need:

400g caster sugar
100ml runny honey
2tbsp liquid glucose
1.5tsp bicarbonate of soda

Put the sugar, honey and glucose in a heavy-based pan and heat to 160°c. Oil a square cake pan with oil . Once the sugar mixture has reached 160°c remove from the heat and quickly add the bicarbonate of soda and whisk. Adult, pour into cake pan and once set smash. We used one of the kids wooden hammers for this.

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Malteser Cupcakes

Maltesers are dangerously addictive. I find it near impossible to open a sharing bag and not guzzle the lot at top speed – sharing chocolate is a real struggle for me! So imagine my surprise when I bought a couple of sharing bags of Maltesers to use in mini cupcakes with the kids and then didn’t get round to making them for a couple of weeks and they sat there huddled together in the pantry with their packets completely intact! Practically a miracle.

This activity was a reward for Atticus last week as his swimming lesson was cancelled. He was very upset; a reaction which I had failed to foresee as up until recently he has always had a somewhat ambivalent attitude to his swimming lesson. He went and behaved beautifully for the crèche ladies and played nicely with his sister so I wanted a tangible well done treat.

Atticus in charge of the mixers – no change there!

We started making these quite late on a school night. This made me feel somewhat rebellious as I had it in my head that I should have been preparing dinner so the kids would get to bed on time. As we made them randomly after swimming, I was unable to carve out time to ice them the way I wanted for a couple of days. This meant I was frantically guarding their Tupperware box to prevent any sneaky children (please read husband here too) pilfering them before they had been adequately adorned. In case you were worried (I doubt you were, but anyway), they only ended up in bed 10 minutes later than planned on the night we made them and Simon only managed to sneak a couple out of the tub before they were iced.

Ophelia, it turns out needs further practice with the piping bag. This is not surprising as she is only two. It was rather funny to see her reaction when she had a go; the icing missed the cake and also came out of the top. However, she was in her element putting a single Malteser on top of each decorated cake.

‘Another one of those mummy!’

Oh and also popping some into her mouth and also trying to eat the icing that was being piped. She did manage to get a beautifully sticky handprint on my cake dome in her eagerness to access further chocolatey goodness. I did what any good parent did, and shared mine with her, told her she had to wait until we collected ‘her boys’ (notice they are not my boys!) from school. This went down like a lead balloon- not surprising really!


Makes 30 mini cupcakes or 15 larger cupcakes

For the cakes

  • 180g dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 135g self-raising flour
  • 1tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1tbsp malt powder (eg Horlicks)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 125g margarine
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1/2tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g melted dark chocolate
  • 110ml whole milk
  • 60g milk chocolate/milk chocolate chips
  • 2 sharing bags of Maltesers (1 inside each cupcake or a couple inside each larger one and 1 each for decoration on the icing)

For the icing

This is enough to ice 15 larger cupcakes, and nearly all 30 mini cupcakes

  • 100g margarine
  • 120g icing sugar
  • 100g melted milk chocolate
  • 2tbsp cocoa


  1. Preheat the oven to 170°c fan and put the cupcake wrappers into the muffin trays.
  2. Gently mix the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, malt powder, and salt in a bowl.
  3. Add the margarine and beat with electric mixers. It may look lumpy, this is fine.
  4. Add the egg and the vanilla and beat again.
  5. Mix in the melted chocolate chips and mix to fully combine.
  6. Pour in the milk and mix until you have a smooth batter.
  7. Half fill each cupcake case and then add a Malteser(s) and then evenly distribute the remaining batter.
  8. Bake little mini cupcakes for 20-25 minutes and the larger ones for 30-35 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
  9. Allow to cool fully before icing.
  10. Once cooled, beat the icing ingredients except the melted chocolate until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and beat again. The icing will need to be relatively thick if you wish to pipe it and have it remain rigid (you may need to add more icing sugar), but if you just want to spread it on, that is not so important.
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