Sunday Recipe: Chocolate cherry brownies with cherry chocolate sauce

Brownies are delicious even if a little 'sinful' but cherries are coming into season now and this recipe is a fabulous way to combine cherries and chocolate!

You will need:
For the chocolate cherry brownies
  • 110g/4oz butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 110g/4oz caster sugar
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 110g self raising flour
  • 45g cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 100g canned cherries, stones removed, drained
For the cherry chocolate sauce
  • 150ml/¼ pint double cream
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 50ml/2fl oz cherry juice (from can of cherries)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • icing sugar to dust
And this is what you have to do....

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

2. For the brownies, place the softened butter and sugar in a large bowl and mix together until light and fluffy.

3.Crack in the eggs and beat well, then fold in the flour, cocoa powder and milk. Finally fold in the cherries.

4. Line a 20cm/8in x 12cm/5in baking tin with baking paper and grease well with butter. Pour the brownie mixture into the tin.

5. Transfer to the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until well risen but still slightly gooey in the middle. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then cut into squares.

6. For the cherry chocolate sauce, place all of the sauce ingredients (except the icing sugar) into a small pan and heat gently, stirring frequently, until combined to make a smooth sauce.

7. To serve, place the brownies onto a serving plate and pour over the chocolate sauce. Dust with icing sugar.

Sunday, 26 June 2011 | 0 Comments

Sunday Recipe: Blueberry Cake

I can't deny it, I love cake! I try to add fruit to it so it feels partly healthy! Blueberries are just gorgeous in muffins and I suppose this blueberry cake is sort-of like a giant but flatter muffin. It is an American recipe with measurements in cups, one cup is roughly 8oz or 250ml

You will need:
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 Tablespoon flour (to coat berries)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • cinnamon sugar for topping (1 Tablespoon sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon)
And this is what you have to do:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degreees F.
  2. Beat egg whites until stiff. Beat in 1/4 cup of sugar.
  3. In another bowl, cream butter.
  4. Add salt, vanilla, and remaining sugar gradually.
  5. Add egg yolks and beat until creamy.
  6. Sift flour with baking powder. Add alternately to creamed mixture with milk.
  7. Fold in beaten egg whites.
  8. Coat the blueberries with 1 tablespoon of flour and then fold into mixture.
  9. Pour batter into a well greased and floured 8x8 inch pan. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top.
  10. Bake in 350 degrees F oven for 40-50 minutes. Cool on rack. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Sunday, 12 June 2011 | 0 Comments

Thinking about selling online? It's as easy as 1.2.3....

There are many different online venues from which to sell your handmade items long with craft supplies, vintage and design work. Frequently people ask me why did I choose Artfire over all of the others more than two years ago? Well, there are many reasons but here are my top five reasons to have a Pro shop on Artfire:

  1. Monthly fee rather than listing and final value fees – I find it reassuring that if you choose to have a Pro-studio then you pay a monthly fee on the same date every month and you can plan around it, there will be no more fees beyond that so no 20p per listing or 5% of the final sale taken as a fee.
  2. Customisable shop front – you can have a large banner across your studio and a matching avatar, the colours of your studio can be picked to match your branding (has anyone noticed how I love purple?), you can add widgets to link to your blog or even a widget to create your own categories like I have.
  3. Categories – Being able to divide my items into relevant categories rather than just having them in one big pile makes the shopping experience much easier for my buyers as they can locate items far quicker. It also helps me to keep a form of inventory by quickly being able to check any categories that are low on stock.
  4. Education! I have learned so much in terms of marketing practices and search engine optimisation because the great staff at Artfire, and there are less than 20, want to help their sellers and there is a fantastic tool called a 45 day guide which is great for getting people started.
  5. Rapid Carts – Artfire realise that you might want to promote your shop on your blog or own website. For this reason they provide a tool called a Rapid Cart which enables people to purchase directly from it, I have one on the top right of this blog, there is also a large one on my main website, it is just one of the many tools provided by Artfire to help sellers get their products “out there”.

So in a nutshell that is why I choose to sell my items on this venue rather than others. I could go on and on but I will stick to just five and suggest that if you are considering selling online to give Artfire a go. In fact, if you are thinking about it there is a promotion running at the moment to sign up and have your third month totally free of fees, so why not dip your toes into online selling
and give Artfire a try. Read more about the offer here.

Thursday, 2 June 2011 | 0 Comments

Thirty before Thirty - 14 months to go

With exactly fourteen months until the big day (turning 30) I need to step up a gear and get cracking on my challenge but also blogging about my progress in a little more detail as people have been asking me about it. I shall start with an overall update:

1. Own a sewing machine – possibly for my 30th birthday present, hints have been dropped by me anyway!
2. Learn to knit socks – I have sock yarn to make stripey socks.
3. Visit Buckingham Palace – will do this over the summer with a couple of friends.
4. Swim in a lake or stand under a waterfall – I may swim in the Serpentine over this summer or next summer.
5. Own a home (the BIG challenge) – saving for this every day where possible.
6. Be debt free except from a mortgage if Num 5 happens – working towards this every day
7. Visit Dickens House – possibly over this summer or definitely next
8. Go to a soap making workshop – DONE!! And I have been studying towards a CPD at home course and soap will soon be available for purchase in my shop.
9. Learn to hang wall paper – Dad plans to do some decorating later this year and I will be roped in to help no doubt.
10. Spend a night on the Norfolk Broads – DONE, well sort of! I will blog about this soon!
11. Learn to make pastry – not yet.
12. Learn the succession of kings and queens from William the Conqueror in 1066 – not yet.
13. Make and wear my own dress – I have three patterns now, just need to buy some fabric.
14. Read 5 books from my bookshelf - I currently own 40 books that I have not yet read – one down and four to go.
15. Have a make up lesson – DONE – will blog on this too.
16. Do something every day to make me smile – I actively try to do this every day even if I couldn’t manage writing it in my journal.
17. Learn to change a car tyre – Um…..
18. Be able to jog a mile with out stopping - with my leg issues this is a BIG thing.- As of TODAY I am able to go to the gym again and I have a lovely personal trainer called Alicia so I’m working in this.
19. Go to Rome or Sorrento – ALMOST! Im going to roam in Rome in October,
20. Sleep for 6.5+ hours sleep a night consistently – Excuse me whilst I laugh uncontrollably!
21. Visit Giant's Causeway – hopefully in Spring 2012
22. Have a dinner party – potentially my 30th birthday party,
23. Have Butterfly-Crafts mentioned in a newspaper or magazine – DONE!! – I need to blog about this too!
24. Sleep under the stars – not yet
25. Live as much of a handmade/homemade/economical life as possible – I strive to do this every day
26. Begin to have the stamina, strength & body shape from pre-leg issues – see number 18 and picture of "old" me!
27. Watch: Goodfellas, Casablanca, Dr Zhivago, Gone With the Wind, The Philadephia Story, A Street Car Named Desire, Ferri Beulers Day Off, Schindler's List, The Godfather and Citizen Cane – I joined LoveFilm and am slowly working through this list.
28. Go to a comedy club – not yet
29. Finish my knitted patchwork blanket – Um……
30. Visit 15 exhibitions at museums and galleries – I think I’m at about 5 visited, I need to blog about each one.

I will strive to have some more frequent individual blogs posted more regularly and will do a full update as close to the first of each month depending on what other blogs I have scheduled.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011 | 0 Comments