10 Best DIY Food Gifts

I love giving food as gifts (partly because I’m poor and have a HUUUUGE family) but also because who doesn’t love receiving tasty treats, especially at Christmas?!

Here are some of my favourite food gifts to give out at Christmas, for the most part these ideas are things you can make in bulk and give out to family and friends, great if you’re visiting lots of people over the festive season!

  1. Slow Cooker Chocolate Orange Fudge
  2. Fudge

    Credit: Me!

    Ok, ok, shameless self promotion, these were my DIY food gift last year and it was super easy to make!

  3. Chilli Jam
  4. chilli-jam

    Credit: Me!

    This one is also me, I made chilli jam for my extended family 3 years ago and essentially started the tradition of giving food as a gift each year!

  5. Bacon Salt
  6. Bacon… salt… Bacon Salt. This is pure genius.

  7. Chocolate Bark
  8. Chocolate-bark

    Credit: Jamie Oliver

    Chocolate Bark is another super easy, fairly cheap to make option. You can make grown up versions with tasty nuts and dried fruit and a kid’s version with jelly beans or popping candy. Hey who am I to judge? Make whichever one you think your family and friends will enjoy most!

  9. Infused Vodka
  10. For your grown up friends and family!

  11. Bacon Jam
  12. Bacon-Jam

    Credit: Lori Mama at http://www.food.com

    BACON JAM. Make it. Eat it. Try and remember to give some as presents. Eat some more of it. Probably have to make two batches.

  13. Peanut and Toffee Bon bons
  14. Peanut-Toffee-Bon-Bons

    Credit: Jennifer Joyce for BBC Good Food

    Obviously don’t give this to anyone with nut allergies but these look delicious.

  15. Polar Bear Peppermint Creams
  16. Peppermint-Polar-Bears

    Credit: Miriam Nice for BBC Good Food

    These are supposedly good to make with kids, this could be a fun way to get kids involved with making food gifts. Perhaps for their teachers at the end of term or just for their friends!

  17. Chocolate chunk pecan cookies
  18. Chocolate-Pecan-Cookies

    Credit: Sara Buenfeld for BBC Good Food

    Cookies are a classic gift for a reason. Add pretty packaging and throw them at your family and friends.

  19. Salted almond snaps
  20. Salted-Almond-Salted

    Credit: Cassie Best for BBC Good Food

    A twist on the classic cookie gift but another delicious option!

Nice packaging is key to a home made food gift, invest in some pretty Christmas themed cellophane bags like these and add pretty ribbons.

Let me know which one is your favourite! šŸ™‚

Pin this for later!

Anti Gravity Chocolate Madness 18th Birthday Cake

My baby brother turned 18 this month. I still remember him like this:

1279034_10151637927766336_2102832614_o

(He will obviously thank me for this photo being on the internet)

Luckily I made him an awesome birthday cake so hopefully he’ll forgive me.

chocolatemadnesscake

Anyone who follows me on Pinterest will have seen various versions of this cake before pinned to my CAKE. board.

The cake itself is a chocolate sponge made using Angela Nilson’s Ultimate Chocolate Cake recipe

I made the cake in a tall 8 inch cake tin and then cut it into three layers. The cake recipe includes a recipe for ganache that was more than enough for me to fill three layers of cake and cover the top and sides to attach the chocolate.

I used about 4 “Sharing” packs of Maltesers and 4 “Sharing” packs of crunchy M&Ms. The cake took 15Ā 4 fingerĀ Kit Kats to cover the sides. You can buy multi packs of 4 finger Kit Kats. I think they come in packs of 8 so you’ll need at least two packs, I bought three to be on the safe side, never hurts to have some spare chocolate at the end!

Now for the magic…

To get your anti-gravity effect you could use a special metal anti-gravity cake kitĀ like this one that Lakeland sells.

Orrrr you could use the big straws that you have left over from making a wedding cake

2016-09-14-19-02-09

Not the greatest quality photo since my brother’s birthday was a Wednesday night and I was trying to get the decorating partĀ done between arriving home from work at 7 and going out for dinner at 7:30!

You can buy the straws in packs of 45Ā from Amazon hereĀ for a couple of quid. I only used 2 for this cake and around 15 for the wedding cake so I’ve still got loads left!

I basically shoved the straws into the cake at 45 degree angle and then coated the outside with ganache using a palette knife and attached the sweets. Note the maltesers are really flipping easy to attach since they’re so light. The M&Ms… not so much. I actually have a real dislike of M&Ms after trying to get them to stick to the straw for this cakeĀ šŸ™ˆ All it takes is a little bit of patience and time, neither of which I had in the 30 mins I had to complete this!

After we got back from dinner we did candles:

img-20160914-wa0012

Yes that does read Happy Bday… life’s too short to try and find the missing alphabet candles at 10 pm!

Overall I’m happy with how this turned out given how little time I had to spend on it!

To make your own you will need:

Equipment:

20cm wide, 7.5.cm deep cake tin

Palette knife

Mixing bowls

Plate or cake board

Boba Straws

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 200g good quality dark chocolate, about 60% cocoa solids
  • 200g butter
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee granules
  • 85g self-raising flour
  • 85g plain flour
  • Ā¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 200g light muscovado sugar
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 3 medium egg
  • 75ml buttermilk (5 tbsp)
  • grated chocolate or curls, to decorate

For the ganache:

  • 200g good quality dark chocolate, as above
  • 284ml carton double cream (pouring type)
  • 2 tbsp golden caster sugar

For the decorations:

4 packs of Maltesers (large sharing packs)

4 packs of M&Ms (large sharing packs) (I used the crunchy variety)

3 packs of 8 x 4 finger Kit Kats

 

That time I agreed to make a wedding cake…

…and didn’t have a complete breakdown!

Once upon a time, Jade and Dave decided to get married. Jade asked me if I could make their wedding cake. I said yes, I’d love to. I spent several months failing to find a red food colouring that was bake stable (you lucky Americans!) as the original plan was to have a red velvet cake. I spent some time perusing the internet for alternativeĀ recipes and found an awesome Madeira cake recipe on Cakes, Bakes & Cookies that included how to scale the recipe for different sized tins which I desperately needed!

I did a test run with my 12 inch cake tin and it turned out OK:

2016-04-09 19.33.40

A little cracked and the mixture wasn’t as light as I wanted it to be. I decided this was down to the fact that I was using my mum’s food mixer that was a wedding gift 37 years ago! I got a new mixer and it made all the difference!

I did a two tier test run using a 10 inch and an 8 inch cake:

I used cheap blue and red fondant from Tesco to test out the bunting. I also tested how sturdy the stacked tiers were:

 

I used jumbo straws instead of dowelling (and failed to get a pic of it) but there is a great YouTube tutorial here

For my two tier test run, the top tier had buttercream and lemon curd sandwiched between the layers while the bottom tier had buttercream and strawberry jam. I took half of the ten inch cake and the whole 8 inch cake into work. Despite my team’s incredible capacity for eating food, I had to enlist people from the wider business to help eat all of it!

So two weeks before the big day I assembled all of my ingredients:

13680966_10154486341316336_4986905921474882553_n

Total ingredients I used for three tiers:

Butter:Ā 948Ā g

Stork (Margerine): 948Ā g

Caster sugar: 2,526 g (~2.6 kg)

Vanilla Essence:Ā 13.5 tsp

38Ā eggs (Words cannot describe how difficult I found it to work out how many boxes this worked out to… 1 x 12 egg box, 2 x 10 egg box and 1 x 6 egg box!)

Plain flour:Ā 2,847 g (~2.9 kg)

Baking Powder: 20 tsp

Hot Water: 36 tbsp (640 ml)

4.5 kg of White fondant icing

Note that I made two of theĀ 12 inch cake to make the cake tall enough.

I spent a weekend baking all 4 cakes which became three tiers and then froze all of the cakes. I followed the advice hereĀ for freezing the cakes.

The day before the wedding I defrosted, cut, filled, crumb coated and covered the cakes in white fondant. That took about 8 hours! I then cut out all of the bunting using these cutters. I used the largest one for the 12 inch tier and went down a size for each tier up.

I covered the cake board with white fondant and used hessian ribbon around the edge to go with the rustic barn theme.

Obviously Apple helped:

2016-08-12 12.00.03

I love how Bunny is also looking wistfully outside

And here it is:

Image of Wedding Cake

I amĀ so genuinely touched that Jade and Dave would trust me with such a major part of their big day. Which they know because I had a small breakdown during their speeches! I got a gorgeous gift that I will definitely use a lot:

2016-08-28 18.10.03

(T Swiz references win every time!) And I can only hope there is one photo of the speeches on the day that doesn’t have my ugly crying face in the background!

All the stress was totally worth it for this gorgeous pair:

#DavidandJadeWedding

Apple Cinnamon Granola (UK style)

Hey everybody!

I recently caused much excitement/jealousy at work when I arrived with a fancy new breakfastĀ container:

brekkyinacup

I loveĀ how excited we all got about it. You wish you could be as cool as us.

I got mine from Asda but they don’t appear to be selling them anymore. I did however find them on the Dunelm Mill website so you may still be able to get your hands on one.

The lid essentially unscrews and has it’s own separating lid that means the top part can be used for one thing and the bottom half for something else. It’s dishwasher proof including the spoon.

The great thing about it is that you don’t just have to use it like I do for yoghurt and granola. You can use it for things like porridge with toppings in the separate compartment instead as the silicone grip protects your hand from anything hot that you put in it.

Now that I’m commuting an hour and a half to work everyday I needed something that would keep my breakfast safe without me needing to hold it. Particularly since I really love my Ralph Lauren handbag and would rather not have to try and clean yoghurt out of it! I usually add frozen strawberries to the top of my yoghurt which melt on the way and keep the yoghurt nice and cool. The cup slots nicely into the holder in my car next to my tea until I can get to work.

Once I had my fancy cup I needed some fancy granola. I could have spent a fortune on an organic one from the supermarket but I thought I’d rather make my own!

I found thisĀ recipe byĀ Zainab atĀ blahnikbaker.comĀ which I’ve then tweaked to get the recipe below. The key difference is that I used honey rather than maple syrup and had to improvise on the unsweetened apple sauce!

Ingredients:

3Ā½ cups rolled oats
Ā½ cup pumpkin seeds
Ā¼ cup almonds
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Ā½ teaspoon nutmeg
Ā¼ teaspoon ginger
Ā¼ teaspoon cloves
1 apple to create 3/4 of a cup of apple purƩe (any will do, I used a Braeburn)
Ā¼ cupĀ organic honey (local if you can get it!)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ā½ cup dried apples

Special Equipment:

You will need a blender to create apple purĆ©e from your apple. If you don’t have one, it’s worth having a look in the baby food section of large supermarkets to see if you can find unsweetened apple purĆ©e. I could not find this ingredient anywhere but my choice was quite limited by the size of supermarket I was in at the time.

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180Ā°C or Gas mark 4.
  2. Peel and core your apple and use your blender to create appleĀ purĆ©e, measure out 3/4 cup and put to one side.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the oats, pumpkin seeds, almonds and spices together.
  4. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, warm the apple purƩe, maple syrup and vanilla extract.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until well combined.
  6. Spread the granola evenly onto a lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown (I had to do this in two batches to get an even layer).
  7. Remove from oven and toss in dried apples.
  8. Allow to cool before storing in an airtight container.

Enjoy with fruit and greek yoghurt for a tasty filling breakfast!

Slow Cooker Chocolate Orange Fudge

So this video popped up on my Facebook feed early in December and I loved the idea of making fudge in the slow cooker.

I changed the ingredients for my fudge but the basic principle is the same.

You will need:

1 cup of milk chocolate chips

1 cup of dark chocolate chips

1/4 cup of whipping cream

1/3 cup of honey

1 bar of Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate Orange Intense Bar (100G) broken into pieces

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1. Place the chocolate chips, whipping cream and honey in the slow cooker and cook on high for 1 hour.

2. Stir in the pieces of Chocolate Orange bar and the vanilla extract until they’ve melted

3. Pour the mixture into a dish to set (I used a square pyrex dish)

4. Cut into chunks and give them away! (OR eat them alllll)

Fudge

 

Sneak peek of Chocolates for everyone!!

So I have a massive family. Like huge, my mum is the youngest of 10 and they all have kids and lots of those cousins have had kids now so our family get togethers are always big! Every year we organise a Christmas party and I try to make my presents because I’m too poor to buy everyone something… 

It’s usually food because that’s easy to do in bulk, one year it was biscuits, another it was chilli jam. This year it’s chocolates!

I’ve got myself a chocolate box silicone mould from Lakeland:

  
 
I’ve never done any proper chocolate making (just plenty of chocolate eating!) I decided to get the Thermospatula as well so I can attempt to temper the chocolate and hopefully make them look really good:

  
I’m kinda excited about using this just because I love a good gadget!

I’ve already started making some boxes using this tutorial and some Christmas scrapbook paper that I bought from eBay:

  
(Sorry about the fuzzy photo, working with an iPad is hard!)

  
This was my second attempt after I failed to follow the instructions the first time around…

I’m hoping to make the chocolates this week and post a full tutorial next weekend. Keep an eye out! 

Foolproof American Pancakes in the UK

I’m mega excited because one of my friends is moving to LA next year so this weekendĀ I booked flights to go and visit her for two whole weeks at the end of Feb!!!

One of the things I love about America is the pancakes, they’re light and fluffy, filling and have so many options for accompaniments! So I decided to make it my mission to make perfect American style pancakes here in the UK before I go to LA so that I can boss it while I’m there.

These are the pancakes I had to live up to:

NYPancakes

These areĀ the ones I had at The Tick Tock diner in New York earlier this year and they were absolutely DIVINE.

So I headed off to Pinterest to find myself a recipe. I chose this oneĀ from Candace Davenport at Somewhat Simple.

I halved the amounts since I was only making them for two people.

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups sifted plain flour
3Ā tsp baking powder
1/2 cup of sugar
2Ā eggs, beaten
1Ā cup of milk
2Ā tbs. oliveĀ oil

This made 8 pancakes – 4 per person which was more than enough.

Ingrediants

Utensils:

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Smaller bowl
  • Whisk
  • Frying pan
  • Large flat spatula (this is a good one)

Directions:

  1. Sift the flour, baking powder and sugar into a large bowl and use a whisk to mix together
  2. dryingrediants

  3. In another bowl, crack the eggs and beat together with a fork, add the milk and mix
  4. wetingrediants

    Around this time, someone set off a firework nearby so Apple came to make sure I was ok:
    AppleSpooked

  5. Add the olive oil to the egg &Ā milk mixture and mix well
  6. oil

  7. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined (don’t overdo it, lumps are ok!)
  8. mixwetanddry

  9. Get your frying pan on to warm up on a medium heat on the smallest ring of the hob
  10. Hobandpan

  11. Add a 1/3 cup of batter to the hot pan
  12. batter

  13. Check your pan position, you want to ensure that wherever you’ve dropped the batter, the heat from the burner is centred directly below the pancake.
  14. Panposition
    Please be SENSIBLE with this! Don’t put your pan in an unbalanced or dangerous position, make sure handles are away from the edge at all times.
  15. Now it’s time to look for BUBBLES
  16. bubbles-fish-o
    Couldn’t resist!

    Serious talk though, bubbles are very important at this stage. You want the whole pancake to have popped bubbles all over before you flip it over. That’s how you’ll know it’s the perfect amount done on the other side.

    Check out the picture below, the top one is not quite done, there’s a patch in the bottom left that’s still quite wet with bubbles still below the surface of the batter.

    The bottom picture shows the perfect amount of bubbles evenly distributed across the pancake
    Lookingforbubbles

  17. Once you see perfect bubbles all over, flip it over with your big spatula, it should look like below:
  18. perfect

  19. Give it at least thirty seconds on the other side before you check it. Keep checking until it’s lightly done on the other side.
  20. Repeat steps 6-10 until you run out of batter. You should be able to make at least 8 large pancakes
  21. Add your topping of choice, we went for plain ole Maple Syrup but experiment with different kinds of fruit and definitely try bacon and maple syrup if you haven’t had it before!

final

Serve with a big icy Coca Cola and pretend you’re on Venice Beach already!

coke

Let me know how you get on with these foolproof instructions! I’m super proud of myself because I can usually barely make any food from scratch!