Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Chocolate Hazelnut Butterscotch Bars

Chocolate, butterscotch and hazelnuts?!!.......Um.... yes please.

I've never made butterscotch from scratch before so these were a whole new experience for me. It's delicious, it has a real buttery, almost creamy taste and with the crunch of the hazelnuts and chocolate topping. I was in heaven.

I was unsure as to what to use for a base so I went for the safe option of a biscuit ( So glad I did ). The base is a very light crumbly biscuit which I think complimented the butterscotch perfectly. These bars are so versatile. Next time I plan on making them with chocolate covered raisins or maybe some walnuts :)


Recipe for Chocolate Butterscotch Bars

Makes 24


For the biscuit :

  • 225g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 150g plain chocolate
  • 115g unsalted butter
  • 50g light muscovado sugar
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds

For the Topping :

  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 175ml condensed milk
  • 150g whole toasted hazelnuts
  • 225g plain chocolate


  1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Line your baking tin ( I used a 12 x 8 in). Sift your flour, baking powder into a large bowl. Melt your chocolate over a saucepan of simmering water or in the microwave if you wish.
  2. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs, then stir in your sugar. Work the melted chocolate and ground almonds into the mixture to make a light, crumbly biscuit dough.
  3. Spread your dough into the tin. Using a spatula or the back of a spoon, press it down evenly into the sides and corners. Bake for 25-30 mins until firm. Leave to cool in tin.
  4. To make the topping, heat the butter, sugar, golden syrup and condensed milk in a pan, stirring until the butter and sugar have melted. Simmer until golden, then stir in the hazelnuts. Pour over your biscuit base. Be careful, This stuff is sooooo hot! Leave to cool and set.
  5. Melt your chocolate and spread over your butterscotch layer, then leave to set again. Once cooled,cut into bars.

Note : If you want to toast your own hazelnuts. Preheat your oven to 200°C, spread hazelnuts on a baking tray and roast for 5 mins. Keep on eye on them as they will burn easily. After 5 mins or so remove them from the oven and place them in a fine sieve. Give the sieve a good shake and the skins just come right off.


Shirley x

Monday, January 14, 2013

No Bake Chocolate Biscuit Cake

You have got to love no bake recipes! When you're in a rush and still want something comforting and delicious, no bake is the way to go! In  my opinion chocolate biscuit cake is definitely up there with the best of no bake cakes, it literally could not be easier if you tried. And hey if its good enough for Wills and Kate on their wedding day, then its good enough for me :)

I made this particular one for Aishling's 21st birthday cake. It is a super rich cake and definitely not a friend to the waistline but it is Aishlings favourite cake so it was a no brainer!

Recipe for Chocolate Biscuit Cake



  • 225g good quality chocolate
  • 275g butter
  • 150ml / 1/4pt golden syrup
  • 200g digestive biscuits
  • 200g rich tea biscuits
  • 2pk maltesers

6" tin



  1. Line your tin with a double layer of greaseproof paper.
  2. Place a large bowl over a pot of water (on low heat) and melt your chocolate,butter and syrup. Stir well until all is well combined.

3. In a separate bowl roughly crush up your biscuits.

4. Add your biscuits and to your chocolate mixture and combine.

5. At the last minute add your maltesers,this so they maintain their malteser shape and don't melt away.

6. Push your mixture into the tin using the back of a spoon and push down. I leave mine to settle for a few minutes, and if it seems a bit loose, I crush up digestives very finely and push it into the cake. The chocolate mixture will absorb it right up. Leave cool and harden.


This cake is actually great for a bottom layer of a tiered cake, it is completely solid so no need for dowels or any support. I've used this as a bottom layer on my first wedding cake and molded it into a Pyrex bowl for the soccer ball cake.

I will warn you that this cake can be addictive, you will keep coming back taking chunks off here and there. It is so versatile,you can throw anything you want into it, fruits, nuts, you name it. I once put in a whole box of celebrations, every piece was a guessing game of what sweet!

Shirley x

Friday, January 11, 2013

21st Birthday Cake

When we asked Aishling what she wanted to do for her 21st some months back, her response was VEGAS!

Having been to Vegas in the winter months before I don't feel I got a true "Vegas" experience ( it snowed the last time I was there ) so we are waiting for the warm weather to kick in. At the end of May, Jacq, Aish and I are off to L.A. Vegas and Cancun for two weeks ( the diet starts now lol! ). Has anyone been to any of these places before and have "a must see"? I would love to have some places to check out :)

We marked her 21st by going to dinner and a few drinks. The next day we had a fiesta in Jacqueline's house, so of course a cake was needed. I wanted to make a cake that would represent her "birthday holiday". I went for a beach themed bottom layer and a Vegas themed top layer.

Here is my sketch or my "guideline".

The bottom layer was a Chocolate biscuit cake and I used a dummy cake for the top layer. I made the dice, cards and the "corona" bottles out of fondant some days before so they were dry and easy to colour.

As part of my new years resolutions, I want to become a better blogger and photographer. Hopefully this cake, dear friends, will be my last "ah sure it'll be grand" photo!

Hope 2013 is treating you all well so far :)

Shirley x

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Mince Pies

If you are a fan of mince pies and haven't made your own, I insist you do ( next December of course as this post is a tad late ). Given my dislike of fruit cakes, I am strangely a fan of mince pies. Warm straight out of the oven is my fave! I love the way the mince soaks into the pastry and your left with some sweet burnt bits on top. I have never made these before and had great plans for doing my own mincemeat. Of course Nigellas recipe requests you store it two wks before use. This was no use to me on Christmas eve so I used store bought.....yes......out of a jar!

I may have used store bought mincemeat but I made the pastry from scratch so 50% homemade ain't so bad. Sweet shortcrust pastry is my favourite but you can use the basic shortcrust if you wish.

Recipe for Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

Makes 400g


  • 200g plain flour, sifted
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 100g chilled butter
  • 1/2-1 med egg


  1. Place the flour, icing sugar and butter in a mixer and mix until resembled bread crumbs. Add a little egg at a time until your mixture is just moist enough that it comes together.
  2. With your hands, flatten out your dough into disc shapes and wrap in cling film.
  3. Leave in fridge for at least 30 mins or if pushed for time 10-15 in the freezer. Pastry done...simples!

For Mince Pies

While the pastry is chilling, preheat the oven  to 180°C. 

Roll out your pastry to about 5mm thick,cut circles and press into tin. I used a mini-muffin tin as I wanted them "bite-size".

Add a tsp of mincemeat. Cut out some stars and place on top.

Pop in the oven and 10-12mins later, you have delicious bite-size mince pies :)


Shirley x