Belated Valentine Heart Biscuits

I made these Valentine´s biscuits based on a Hannah Miles recipe last week but haven´t got round to posting about them till now. The biscuits were a plain biscuit recipe but were delicious and I decided to decorate them with royal icing in pink and white polka dots similar to the Christening biscuits and a design that appears in the Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits, only mine don´t look quite as pretty as those in the book.I also piped I heart U on some of the biscuits for variety and extra piping practice!!! I think my decorating skills are improving slowly but surely, just wish I were quicker! Unfortunately they´re not quite up to the level required to sell them professionally ; ( Also, most people that tried them found the royal icing too sweet,my husband and mother-in-law included, which meant I was the one who ended up eating the majority of the biscuits! I don´t think I´ll ever be able to set up my own cake business in Spain....they just seem to find fondant and buttercream etc too sweet!


White Chocolate Chip Cupcakes for Valentine´s Day

I´ve been dying to try out my Sugarcraft heart plungers from China,which I bought for Chloe´s Christening cake then never used, so with Valentine´s Day looming up, I thought it was the perfect opportunity! I also had some white chocolate chips from Asda(ordered and brought to me by my mum as you can´t get them here)so thought I´d try out the following White Chocolate Chip cupcakes based on a recipe from my cupcake calender.

I decorated the cupcakes with a simple & quick Glace icing, then coloured some fondant red and set to with the heart plungers,cutting out small,medium and larger hearts,which I stuck on overlapping one another.Once again,very simple but this was more about trying the plungers out etc and I was hoping it would be more striking than it actually turned out! All in all, I was very pleased with the plungers, they were very cheap but did take awhile to arrive, they are very easy to use.My one complaint is that they didn´t always cut the fondant hearts out completely(but then that could just be me!) but I found that if you held the plunger down for a few seconds,you got a neater cut.

Here´s the recipe for the white chocolate chip cupcakes:
Ingredients: (makes about 18 cupcakes)
1 cup butter at room temperature
1 cup caster (superfine)sugar
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup (about 100g) white chocolate chips
1/2 tsp bicarbonade of soda (baking soda)

1.Preheat oven to 175ºc (350ºF) and place 18 cupcake cases (I used cases with red love hearts on to ooze more Valentine Day love) in a muffin tray.
2.Stir all cupcake ingredients together except the chocolate chips for 2-3mins.
3.Stir in chocolate chips.
4. Spoon mixture into cupcake cases and bake for 20mins until toothpick comes out clean when inserted.
5. Leave to cool and then decorate.


Traditional Almond Slices

Although I´m not a huge nut fan, I do like almonds,especially when they are used in anything marzipan-y and as I had quite a lot of almonds left over after making my Christmas Cake, I decided to make these traditional British cakes to use them up. My Gran used to make them as a little girl and I loved 'em.

Almond Slices are very similar to Bakewell Tarts (another fav of mine and that I´ll also be having a bash at making in the future!) only Bakewell Tarts are topped with icing and Almond Slices are topped with almonds. I polished these off almost single-handedly and couldn´t get enough of them and they were fairly simple to make. Here´s the recipe I used, taken from The Dairy Book of Home Cookery and slightly modified:

1 packet of Short Crust Pastry (you could use homemade pastry which would be even more delicious but to save time I used frozen ready-made)
2 tbsp good quality raspberry jam (I used Bonne Maman and used a bit extra as wanted it to be nice & jammy!)
100g caster sugar
100g icing sugar (sifted)
175g ground almonds
1 egg
1 egg white
1/2 tsp almond extract
blanched,split almonds to decorate

1.Preheat oven to 200ºC/400ºF
2.Grease a baking tray and roll out pastry to 25x15cm and line baking tray with pastry, pinching long edges of pastry up to form a border.
3. Spread jam over pastry base as shown:

4. Mix sugars and ground almonds together and add egg, egg white and almond extract, stirring to form an almond paste.
5. Spread almond paste evenly on top of jam:

6. Sprinkle split almonds on top to decorate:

7.Place in oven and bake for around 25 mins.

8. When golden brown on top, leave to cool. Then cut into 14 slices.

There you have it...exceedingly good cakes...they almost give Mr Kipling a run for his money! ; )

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