Oreo cupcakes

My eldest got his first ever school report yesterday. It’s been a big adjustment for all of us him starting school. Back in September when he started I couldn’t even walk past the school without crying. I was worried about so many things. I was worried that the teachers wouldn’t ‘get’ him. i was worried that he would not join in with the other children, or take turns, or try new things. It just seemed like the official end of the baby years. My precious boy who only minutes ago, or so it seems, was a tiny newborn was now going to have a whole range of experience out of my control and without me.

I really needn’t have worried. He has loved pretty much every aspect of school. He has made lots of new friends, he likes all his teachers, he eats his school dinner every day, he’s joined the football club where he and other 5 year olds run round like headless chickens in the vague direction of a ball and then kick each other, he has made progress with his writing (slowly) and reading (somewhat reluctantly). Above all – and most importantly – he is HAPPY there.

I think it’s taken me longer, if I’m honest, to adjust to the idea of him as being more independent and grown up. Anyway, I was thrilled to read positive comments in his report and am super proud of him.

I originally posted this recipe a couple of years ago and it has become a firm favourite in our house and has gone down a treat with the various friends I have baked them for. So, I decided to cook them again today as we are heading to a BBQ tomorrow at some friends and I thought they’d be a nice after school treat for the kids too.

I think that cooking with kids needs to involve some jobs that are `theirs`. My boys love to get the baking trays out of the cupboards and then put the cake cases in them. This recipe then requires them to pop a biscuit in the bottom of each case (and eat several in the process) and then bash the hell out of the remaining biscuits (safely esconced in a plastic bag!) which appeals to their destructive little natures.

Recipe

2 packs Oreo cookies and some mini oreos

125 g self-raising flour

125 g unsalted butter or marg (I’ve been using Stork recently)

125 g caster sugar

2 eggs

1-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking powder

few tablespoons milk

Butter cream (I used Betty Crocker Vanilla cupcake frosting but you can make your own)

1. First pre-heat oven to 195c

2. Line muffin tin with cases – put one whole Oreo cookie in each one,  I think I made about 16 cakes but it depends how full you like them!

3. Bash up remaining Oreo cookies in a sealed plastic bag using a wooden spoon or rolling pin

4. Put all ingredients (except Oreos) in a food processor or Kitchen Aid and blitz, or use a bowl and an electric hand mixer and then stir in HALF the crushed Oreos.

5.  Spoon a good dollop into each cake case on top of the Oreo cookie

6. Bake in oven for 15-20 mins and cool on wire rack

7. When cool mix most of remaining crumbled Oreos into butter cream/frosting and splodge onto cakes (or pipe in gorgeous decorative manner if you have the skill or patience- it’ll taste the same either way)

Today though – if you look at my pictures closely – I left the buttercream plain and just put a biscuit on top – mainly because I had run out of Oreos)

8. Sprinkle with last few bits of cookie or some mini Oreos if you have them.

9. Eat!

Really easy to make but totally delicious.  I was amazed the first time I baked these that the biscuit base stays so crunchy.

Enjoy!!

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Peanut butter & jelly bars

You know when you see a picture of some food on instagram and then you have dreams about it and just have to make your own version?  No?  You mean you’re not obsessed with food to the same levels I am?  You don’t plan pretty much every meal for the foreseeable future and read cookery books for fun?  Oh OK.  I accept it, I am a food nutter.  Anyway, I saw a friend make these bars and couldn’t start thinking about them.

My boys watch a lot of American films/telly at the moment and are just starting to cotton on to that humourous element which us Brits still have at such moments.  Americans calling things by different names.  Setting aside the ever-hilarious casual usage of ‘fanny’ which as yet doesn’t mean much to my boys (only a matter of time) the boys think it’s ridiculous that they would put ‘jelly’ on toast.  Jelly?  But it’s wobbly and would go everywhere – snarf, snarf, snarf……….

This recipe does not call for jelly my friends, it needs jam.  Of course, I could have just called it peanut butter and jam bars but then it would lose that whole yankee-cool vibe (me, affected much?!).

I am not actually a jam fan.  The band or the fruit spread.  I like making jam but, aside from on a scone with a large amount of clotted cream, I don’t really like eating it that much.  So when I was adapting this recipe I cut down the quantity a bit.  Feel free to add more if you love it although bear in mind that jam bubbles up like a bastard when it is cooked and then welds on to any cooking pan and clings on like the devil itself.  You’ve been warned.

These bars aren’t quite biscuit and they aren’t quite cake.  Somewhere in between.  The first mouthful is a bit salty and you’ll be unsure if you like them, the second mouthful gives the sweet hit and then before you know it you’ll have eaten at least 3.

Peanut butter & Jelly Bars

125g Marg or butter

150g sugar (caster or granulated)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

250g smooth peanut butter

210g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

125g strawberry or raspberry jam

50g salted peanuts crushed in a pestle and mortar or chopped roughly

Pre heat oven to 180c and grease and line with baking parchment a tin.  I use a square one that measures about 21cm x 21cm

I use my kitchenaid for this but of course you can use a food processor or mixer or even by hand.

Cream the butter and sugar in the mixer until golden and fluffy, then add the vanilla, egg and peanut butter – mix together.  Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until just combined.m

Put 2/3 of the dough into the baking tray and squish down with a fork to cover the bottom.  Dollop the jam with a teaspoon over the top.  I quite like it spread not to evenly so on some mouthfuls you get more jam than others.  Then onto the top of the jam, using a teaspoon again, dollop the remaining dough and then flatten out with a fork.

Top with the peanuts and pop in the oven until golden brown.  This takes 35 to 40 minutes in my oven (which is a fast oven)

Take out and cool before cutting into squares.

I have frozen half of these to prevent myself from eating too many of them in one sitting. Be warned they’re a bit addictive.

Enjoy!

 

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Takes the biscuit (Toffee Crunch Cookies)

I’m not really a biscuit person.  The biscuit is not one of my (many) vices.  I have loads of packets of biscuits in the house half opened because the boys are actual biscuit addicts.  Mitch can sniff out a custard cream from twenty paces and I think his first word was bourbon.  I’ve never really gone for them myself though.  They’re always a bit dry, a bit crispy, a bit sweet or not sweet enough, have that weird cream icing stuff which is just yack.   Not for me.  But because the kids are biscuit lovers I have endeavoured to find a good recipe to make them at home on the premise that a) homemade is pretty much always healthier than shop bought and b) it is a perfect wet weather activity to do with a tot.  Small people love squidging together biscuit dough – and stuffing it raw into their gobs.

As an avid recipe finder and researcher I came across a variant of this recipe yesterday and was intrigued by it so tried it straight away.   As ever, I made a few tweaks and by and large it was amazing.  Even the fact that I knew that Mitch had squidged the biscuits together whilst coughing copiously and with a slug trail of snot leaking perpetually out of his nose, didn’t stop me relishing a couple (what the heck, the little harbinger of germ-doom has already infected me with every pre-school snot borne virus in living memory, what’s a bit more cross contamination).  Then a couple more in the afternoon.  And a couple more in the evening. And a ……. oh bugger the tin is empty.  Now I wasn’t 100% happy with the results of the biscuits.  Well, I was happy with the taste clearly (oink oink) but they stuck like a bastard to the baking tray.  My husband will testify to the fact that when something doesn’t go right in the kitchen I get really cross.  We are talking twatting things accross the kitchen kind of cross.  The kind of cross that makes you red faced and slightly tearful.  So yesterday when my beautiful cookies stuck to the baking tray I managed to restrain myself from shouting at my snot-faced mini-assistant that maybe, just maybe, his ‘greasing the baking tray’ skills weren’t quite up to scratch and did the mature thing instead and wanged the half stuck biscuit across the kitchen.  I actually get really stonkingly cross at very little (husband excepted) but cooking cock ups really get my goat.  Good thing they don’t happen too often.

So today I  made another batch, recipe amended slightly and without the pestilent partner.  Perfection.  I actually mean that.  I think this is the perfect biscuit.  It’s crunchy yet chewy, sweet but not cloying and just bloody all round delicious.  The rice krispies just add a really nice crunchy chewiness you wouldn’t expect.  Really delicious.  A bit too nice in fact because I have actually lost count of how many I have eaten now and I am considering sacrificing my prawn stirfry dinner for a biscuit based diet instead.

This time the biscuits didn’t stick at all but I would say that you need to grease the baking trays really well or use a silicone tray liner and let the biscuits cool for 90 seconds and then remove them judiciously with a palette knife or fish slice and pop them on a wire rack to completely cool.

Seriously – you need to make these biscuits.  I make no apologies for the amount of sugar that they contain or any claims of their health giving properties.  They’re a treat and both you and your own snotty sproglets will love them.  PS  please tell winter to do one and take its germs with it please

Toffe Crunch Cookies – Recipe

100g butter or marg (I used Stork)

100g soft light brown sugar

175g self-raising flour

25g rice krispies

3 tbsp golden syrup

To decorate toffee/butterscotch pieces  (optional)

Method

I used my Kitchen Aid to make mine – but as ever you could use a food processor, hand mixer or just your good old hands.  Toddler assistance is optional but encouraged.

Heat oven to 140c (for fan ovens – bit more for normal) and grease copiously a couple of baking trays.  This mixture makes about 14 cookies.

Cream the butter and sugar in the mixer until light and fluffy.  Add the flour and rice krispies and blitz again.  The mixture really looks pretty crumb-y at this point.  Add the 3 tbsp of golden syrup and give another quick mix until it binds together.  Turn off mixer and squidge the cookie dough together a bit.

Using a normal table spoon take a spoonful of the dough and pop on the baking sheet – spread them apart quite well as they do splodge out a lot when you bake them.  Squish the top of each one with a fork to flatten out.   Mitch likes to do this and shouts ‘splat, splat, splat’ at the top of his voice whilst completing the task.

Now – decorate the top with the toffee pieces.  I added about 5 little pieces to the top of each one.  You could also use choc chips.  I left half of mine plain and they still had a nice toffee taste from the syrup but the ones with toffee bits on the top just edged forward to be the yummiest. (In case you were wondering what caused them to stick the first time was me mixing the toffee pieces through the dough and forgetting that when heated toffee melts and then hardens to an unbreakable bond with anything it comes into contact with upon cooling.  So don’t do that)

Put them in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.  In my fan oven at 140 it took 20 mins.

As said above, leave on the baking tray to cool for 90 seconds and then remove with a pallet knife and leave to cool completely on wire trays.  Then munch and munch some more……….

I don’t even need to tell you to enjoy these cookies because I actually know for a fact you will.  In the very unlikely incident that you don’t then quite clearly you are a freak and you should send them to me and I will eat your share.

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