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Savvy shopping, seasonal eating and thrifty recipes. Spend less on groceries and enjoy better tasting, easy to prepare meals your friends and family will love – all on a budget.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Muffin Sized Sticky Date Puddings

Apologies for the lack of blog posts this week, we've had yet another medical drama in our household.  My husband had to be rushed to hospital on Wednesday evening, he'll hopefully be allowed home sometime this weekend.  This means I have been looking after our older 3 girls and baby boy by myself.  I am rather exhausted to say the least. There'll be no respite for a while as hubby will be on bed rest for a week then gradually getting back to normal for a fortnight after that.

At times like these comfort food and easy meals, and the occasional pudding, are craved and needed.  Luckily I had made a batch of these delicious morsels a fortnight ago and stashed some in the freezer.  They went down very well indeed last night after dinner and there's still a couple left for my husband when he gets home.

Muffin Sized Sticky Date Puddings

210g chopped dates
375ml water
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
90g butter, softened
110g light soft brown sugar
2 free range eggs
225g self-raising flour

2 Tblsp butter
40g light soft brown sugar

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan. Grease a 12-muffin tin with melted butter or oil.

Put the dates and water into a medium saucepan over a low to moderate heat and cook until the dates have softened. Once the dates are soft, stir in the vanilla extract and bicarbonate of soda.  Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Gradually add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Should the mixture look like it may be starting to curdle, add a tablespoon or two of flour which will stabilise the mixture.  One the eggs have been fully incorporated, stir in the cooled date mixture then fold in flour.

Spoon the mixture evenly into your prepared muffin tin. Bake the puddings for 20-25 minutes, or until the puddings spring back when touched or a skewer inserted in to the center comes out clean.  Cool in tin for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to continue cooling.

To make the sauce:  Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat and add the sugar.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to your liking.  Drizzle over the warm puddings and serve with custard if you fancy it.

We had one muffin sized pudding each and I froze the rest, once completely cool and without the drizzle of sauce.  These should keep for up to a month in the freezer.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Chocolate Overload Slice

This slice is the invention of my 8yo, she made it when we had our After School Club session last week.  It is great to be able to spend time with her and watch her bake, make or craft whilst having a chat.
We started with a Tiffin base then added a layer of marshmallows followed by a layer of melted chocolate then sprinkles.  Everything sweet and baked needs sprinkles, it's the law, so says 8yo. Who am I to disagree?

Chocolate Overload Slice

4 Tblsp golden syrup
125g butter
250g shortbread finger biscuits
4 Tblsp cocoa powder
75g raisins
200g pack marshmallows
250g plain chocolate, roughly chopped

We used a microwave to make this slice, you could use a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water instead.  Measure the golden syrup and butter into a large pyrex jug or non-metallic bowl.  Melt in the microwave on full power for about 1.5 - 2 minutes in 30 second bursts.  

Whilst the butter and syrup are melting, put the biscuits into a plastic bag, seal it and gently crush the biscuits.  You want small chunks of biscuit, not totally crushed to crumbs, so don't be too vigorous.  

Once the butter and golden syrup have melted, mix them together until totally combined.  Then add the cocoa and mix until completely incorporated.  Finally mix in the raisins and the crushed biscuits.

Pour the mix into a lined tin and spread it out evenly then level the surface.  Put the marshmallows into a microwave safe bowl or jug and heat on full power for about 45 seconds until melted.  Pour over the tiffin base.

Finally, heat the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second bursts for a total of 2 - 3 minutes until melted.   Alternatively you could put the chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until melted.  

Pour the melted chocolate evenly over the melted marshmallow layer and carefully spread it out to completely cover the slice.  Sprinkle over some sugar stars or other sprinkles if you want.

Put the tiffin in the fridge for at an hour to set.  Cut into small squares to serve.