Sunday, 23 October 2011

Spooky Halloween Treats

Well its nearly Halloween, with most of us either having parties or going Trick or Treating we decided to share with you three Halloween themed recipes. The first recipe is inspired by everyones all time favourite treat at Halloween.....Toffee Apples!

Toffee Apple Blondies !!

The Ingredients:
150g Butter
400g Light Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
260g NEILL'S® Plain Flour
2tsp Vanilla Extract / Essence
2tsp Baking Powder
0.5tsp Salt
1 Large Chopped Apple (tart apple is best)
100g Fudge Pieces

Toffee Frosting:
115g Butter
200g Light Brown Sugar
50ml Milk
250g Icing Sugar

The How-To:
Preheat oven to 180c
First of all we will make the blondies.
Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth.
Beat in the eggs one at a time until well combined.
Beat in the vanilla extract/essence.
Cut the large apple up into small pieces. I find about 2cmx2cm is best.
Cut the fudge pieces up into pieces of similar size. Set both to the side.
Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.
Fold the flour mixture into the butter mixture stirring as little as impossible just to combine the ingredients.
Fold in the toffee and apple pieces.
Pour the batter into a baking tray (I find one about the size 7 x 10 inches is best).
Bake in the centre of the oven for 35-40 mins. Check with a skewer by inserting it into the middle. If it comes out with no batter on it then it is cooked. The cooking time will vary every slightly due to the different brands of fudge and the size of your pieces of apple. If skewer comes out covered in batter return to the oven and check every 3-4 mins.
When cooked remove from oven and allow to cool.

While we are waiting for the blondies to completely cool we can get on with making the toffee frosting which is extremely simple.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan on low heat.
Stir in the light brown sugar.
Stir in the milk.
Bring to the boil for 2 mins and then remove from the heat.
Stir in the icing sugar a little at a time until completely combined. You may need to beat this with an electric mixer to remove all the lumps **Be careful as sugar will be extremely hot!!** The mixture will thicken as it cools. It is advisable to allow it to cool at room temperature as placing it in the fridge can make it go hard extra quickly and we don't want that as we need to be able to spread it.
When both are cool spread the toffee frosting on top of the brownies. Allow frosting to set for an hour before cutting and serving.

You're Done!

Scary Halloween Double Chocolate Cupcakes

The Ingredients:
Cupcake :
75g Coco Powder
300g Caster Sugar
2 Eggs
250ml Milk
175g NEILL'S® Flour
2 tsp baking powder
0.25tsp bicarbonate soda
1tsp vanilla extract or essence
40g Butter
0.25tsp Salt

650g Icing Sugar
100ml Milk
175g Butter
1tsp Vanilla extract or essence.

The How-To:

Preheat oven to 180c.
Cream the butter and sugar together.
Add the eggs one at a time ensuring each is combined before adding the next.
Stir in the vanilla.
In a separate bowl sieve all the dry ingredients together.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet mix alternating with the milk until all ingredients are combined well.
Place the mixture into bun cases, it will seem quite thin but they cook perfect. 3/4 fill the cupcake cases.
Bake in the oven for 15 mins.
Remove and allow to completely cool before frosting.

Making the frosting:
Cream the butter until smooth.
Slowly add the icing sugar and coco powder alternating with the milk.
The mixture should be spreadable. Spread onto the cupcakes using a knife.

Dusting with Coconut:
For best results here I use green food colouring so slightly dye some shredded coconut to look like grass.
Use a spoon to sprinkle this over the frosted cupcake and tip upside down to remove any excess.
Place a spider or other creepy insect on top to complete the cupcake.

You're Done!

Graveyard and Gooey Eye Cupcakes

This is an excellent recipe where the kids can help out too. You will need to make the cupcakes from our “simple vanilla cupcake” recipe which you can find here and the “customisable frosting” recipe which you can find here.

The First Option:  Vanilla cupcake with grave decoration:

To make this cupcake the recipe stays the same as here but the frosting is coloured green using green food colouring. This makes the grass. You will need some ready rolled icing similar to here but also available in loads of other brands to make the headstone. You will also need some Oreo cookies which you will crush to make the soil on the graves.
Experiment with different piping attachments to find one you like for the grass, alternatively if you don’t have any piping bags you can use a freezer bag with the corner cut off or even just spread the frosting on with a knife. For the headstone you will need to cut out a headstone shape in icing (make sure it is thick enough to stand up, you may need to double it up), you can also write what you want on the headstone with an icing pen if you want but this is optional.

1.       Bake cupcake and leave to cool completely.
2.       Make frosting and top the cupcake
3.       While the frosting is still soft stick in the icing headstone and decorate the grave with the crushed Oreos.
4.       Leave aside to harden.

The Second Option: Pumpkin orange cupcake with orange flavoured frosting:

This is a simple but delicious cupcake! Simply make the batter for the vanilla cupcake again, but before spooning the mixture into the bun cases add some orange food colouring, be generous to achieve a nice bright orange sponge.
Now make the frosting here but leave out the vanilla, instead grate some orange zest into the frosting. You will probably need about the zest of two large oranges but you can add this to taste.
Frost the cupcakes in whatever way you want, you can either pipe the frosting on or simple spread it on, finally decorate with any disgusting Halloween jelly sweets such as eye balls.

You’re Done!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Toasted Coconut & Cherry Blondies

Do you love the smell of freshly toasted coconut? To us it is one of the most homely and inviting smells in a kitchen. With this recipe you're guaranteed an amazing smelling kitchen as well as a scrumptious tray bake! And it couldn't be simpler!

The Ingredients:
200g Dark Brown Sugar
260g NEILL'S® Plain Flour
70g Desiccated Coconut
100g Glacé Cherries
130g Butter
1tsp Baking Powder
1.5tsp Vanilla Extract/Essence
2 Eggs

The How-To:
Preheat oven to 160c.
Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and creamy.
Beat in the two eggs one at a time until well combined.
Beat in the vanilla extract / essence.
In a separate bowl sieve the flour and baking powder together.
Fold the flour into the mixture.
Slice the cherries into quarters and add them to the mixture, followed by the coconut.
Fold together until all ingredients are combined.
Pour the mixture into a prepared baking tray. Ideally 7x10 inches or similar.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 23-25 mins or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

You're Done!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Tesco Taste Northern Ireland Food Event – Belfast Sept 2011

The hugely successful Tesco Taste Northern Ireland event took place again this year on the 10th and 11th of September in Belfasts Custom House Square.

The event brings together over 50 of Local Northern Irish companies demonstrating their products to a large demographic of Northern Irelands fans of local produce.
Neills Flour Stand
Baked In Belfast Stand
The event hosted by Tesco has taken place for several years running and is hugely successful in attracting large numbers of people.

Everything from jams and chutneys produced by the hugely talented Suzanna from Baked In Belfast to NEILLS Flour, with their fantastic range of mixes for everything from scones to soda bread are represented at this event. Not the mention the Live Tesco Cookery Theatre which takes place in front of a captivated audience demonstrating everything from making cocktails to demonstrations from one of Northern Irelands most well known and hugely talented chefs Niall McKenna from James Street South Restaurant, winner of the Northern Ireland heat of The Great British Menu competition but more notably his dessert beat all finalists from regions across the UK winning a place at a banquet attended by Prince Charles.

With the number of free samples given out by local producers and demonstrations given by some incredibly enthusiastic and devoted ambassadors for local Northern Irish produce it is certain that the crowd not only gained some knowledge of what is available on their doorstep but were also encouraged to learn more about the origins of the food and the devotion of the producers to make it some of the best in the province.

If you didn’t manage to attend the Tesco Taste Northern Ireland Food Event this year, we certainly hope it returns for yet another event in 2012.