Search Results for: Christmas

Chocolate Gingerbread Houses – a Twist on a Christmas Tradition

Christmas traditions – we all have them. My earliest memory of our Christmas traditions was when I was only about 3 years old. My mom would make the most amazing gingerbread houses ever. We would sit and watch the beginning stages of the house being built, with the rest of the decorating being carried out while we were in bed sleeping.  We would wake up the next morning in amazement at the sugary creation decked out with royal icing snow and icicles, spearmint leaf trees and candy cane sleds.  We always knew that we weren’t allowed to touch or eat the house until after Christmas.  But I guess my parents never told our babysitter that, because one night they came home from a party and she’d torn off the gingerbread shutters, and eaten a spearmint tree or two.  And guess who got the blame…….

It seems like over the past few years gingerbread houses have become increasingly popular in the UK.  The first time I made one in the UK four years ago most of my friends had never even seen one before and they all just asked me why I made it.  Um, because it’s fun!  And it’s tradition!  Gingerbread kits have been increasing in popularity each year here, and there’s some really good ones out this year.  By far the coolest one I’ve seen isn’t even really a kit.  It’s a mould.  A chocolate mould!  This year Lakeland has released a super cool mould that allows you to make a gingerbread house entirely out of chocolate.  No baking required.  Just melt your chocolate, pour and wait until it’s set before “gluing” your house together with some more melted chocolate.  

Next comes the best part – the decorating!  My favourite part of building any gingerbread house (chocolate or the cookie kind) is the decorating.  I love shopping for all the different types of candy, and although I do prefer my old favourites from North America (traditional ribbon candy, spearmint trees and life savers), I have also discovered some wonderful traditional UK sweets that have made my house look amazing.  I especially loved the pink and white marshmallow twists called Flumps, which I used for the peak of the roof, chimney and window boxes.

I’m so pleased with the way my chocolate house turned out.  I used pieces of strawberry Moam for the roof tiles, Jelly Tots for the christmas lights, Flumps for the roof peak, chimeny and window boxes, Dolly Mix for the fence and light posts, Millions for the pathwaym and also some mini Chuppa Chups for an extra bit of decoration.  The icicles and snow are made from white chocolate.

My only word of caution with this gingerbread house mould is that it does require a lot of chocolate.  1.2kg to be exact.  But the good thing is that the mould can also be used to bake your traditional gingerbread cookies in as well.  So if you’d rather not have a house made of chocolate, then you can always go the more traditional route using your favourite gingerbread recipe. 

Thanks to Lakeland for providing this fabulous gingerbread mould. 

Also, thanks to Jude’s (from A Trifle Rushed) comment below I’m adding my chocolate gingerbread house to the Seasonal Gingerbread House link up via the Turquoise Lemons blog.  If you’ve made a gingerbread house this year, then why not share yours too!

Coincidentally the gingerbread house in the picture above is traditional gingerbread baked in the same Lakeland mould I used for my chocolate house.

Waitrose Christmas Dessert Reviews

I’ve been lucky enough to be able to review several Christmas desserts from Waitrose this year, two of which were created by UK celebrity chef Heston Blementhal.  For those of you living outside the UK, or are who are just not unfamiliar with Heston, he’s basically a real life Willy Wonka.  His creations are like little science experiments – many of which I find a little too out there, but his creations for Waitrose are suited more to the general public. 

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If you live in the UK, you may remember the infamous Christmas pudding he created last year exclusively for Waitrose.  It had an entire candied orange hidden inside, which infused the pudding with a delicious citrus flavour.  When you cut into the pudding you also got a cross section of candied orange as well.  Heston’s Candied Orange Christmas Pudding sold out within days, and immediately began springing up on eBay for hundreds of pounds.  The same has happened this year, although the average price seems to be between £15 – £30.

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This year Heston has created several new Christmas desserts including a Chocolate Popping Candy Tart, a Chocolate and Cherry Blackforest Buche, and Puff Pastry Mince Pies With Pine Sugar Dusting.  

I was fortunate enough to try out Heston’s Popping Candy Tart and his Pine Scented Mince Pies, as well as a Christmas Pudding Cheesecake by Waitrose’s own label.  

First up I tried the Waitrose Christmas Pudding Cheesecake.  I had wanted to try it ever since hearing about it at the Waitrose Christmas product launch way back in the summer.  Although it wasn’t available to sample on the day, I thought the concept was great.  The cheesecake comes in a neat dome shape, just like a real Christmas pudding.  It had a delicious graham cracker / digestive base, and the actual cheesecake bit was so light and fluffy in texture.  It was loosely studded with candied orange peel, raisins and pieces of Christmas pudding, but the flavour was not too strong or overwhelming, although the chocolate topping did taste a bit boozey.  My husband and I both really liked the cheesecake, partially because the Christmas pudding flavour was quite mild, making it a perfect alternative if you or your guests aren’t that fond of the traditional Christmas pudding.  The Waitrose Christmas Pudding Cheesecake sells for £6.99 and serves approximately 6 people.

Next I tried the popping candy tart which is described as “a tart that will literally dance on your tongue. First you will be seduced by the luxurious velvety dark chocolate that has been infused with an exotic passion fruit puree, a direct contrast to the crunchy hazelnut base.  As your mouth begins to water the real surprise element begins as the popping candy begins to crackle and tingle on your tongue.”

The description above is fairly accurate.  The chocolate is so rich and velvety smooth, with just a hint of passion fruit, making you want to savour every last bit in your mouth.  And that’s when the popping candy hits you! There’s just enough snap, crackle and pop to know it’s there, but not so much that it’s like you dumped an entire packet of the stuff into your mouth (like we all did when we were kids!).  I would definitely recommend Heston’s popping candy tart as a special Christmas treat.  I also think it would make an even better dessert option for New Years Eve, although I’m not sure if it will still be available in stores then, but it’s worth checking.  Personally, I think the only drawback to the popping candy tart would be the price.  Maybe it’s just me, but £16.99 for a 10 serving tart seems a little steep for a prepared supermarket dessert.  I guess it just depends on how much you like your friends and family :-) 

Lastly I tried Heston’s pine scented mince pies, which he describes as “delicious eaten warm from the oven, and then sprinkled with pine sugar for a Christmas tree aroma.”  Unlike a conventional mince pie, Heston’s version is incased in puff pastry rather than a normal tart shell.  The mince pies come with a generous sized packet of pine scented icing sugar that really does smell exactly like pine, so much so, that I initially found it a little off putting because it smelled like a household cleaner.  After dipping my finger into it and giving it a taste, I decided that I actually quite liked the pine sugar.  It had a nice subtle pine flavour, with a minty aftertaste.  I was really excited to give these mince pies a try, but in all honesty I found them a bit disappointing.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve never been a huge puff pasty fan, but I found the pastry a bit bland – I think the pies would have been better in a traditional tart shell. There was too much puff pastry, and not enough filling inside, but I really did like the pine sugar. I think next year Heston could have a real winner if he kept the novelty of the pine sugar, but used a regular tart shell.  At £3.29 for 6, they’re definitely more expensive than the average mince pies, but they won’t break the bank either if you’re looking to try a little something different.

At first I sprinkled the pine sugar on quite sparingly, but don’t be afraid of it.  Next time I’d cover the tops in the sugar!

So what are YOU having for Christmas dessert?

Made With Pink’s Christmas Gift Guide

With Christmas just around the corner, I couldn’t help but pull together a list of my top must have gifts that I either own – or would like to see under my tree this year.  Anyone who knows me knows I absolutely LOVE shopping. I’m drawn to anything cute, pink or whimsical, so narrowing down my top gift picks was difficult!  I was originally going to choose my top 5, but that was far too difficult, so I settled on my top 10.  

Made With Pink’s Christmas Gift Guide – Top 10 Picks

1.  Russian Doll Measuring Cups – this set of 6 cute measuring cups look like traditional Russian matryoshkas dolls, and stack neatly inside each other.  They measure 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 3/4 and 1 full cup.  Available from John Lewis for £11 and other retailers.

2.  Kenwood kMix Food Mixer – I’ve never been a fan of the classic Kenwood mixer – purely because I didn’t like the way it looked, but I’m loving the new kMix line which come in a range of funky colours.  The mixer shown is the Firecracker model, but my favourite is the Oyster Cove 1 which is made up of various shades of purples and greys.  The Firecracker model is available from John Lewis for £369.  All other models are available via the Kenwood Online Store for £399

3.  Pip Studio Tableware – Ever since spotting these gorgeous cups and saucers by Pip Studio last year, I’ve been a huge fan of the entire tableware range.  They’re great because they come in 3 main colours – blue, pink and beige and can all be mixed and matched with each other.  My husband bought me several pieces for my birthday in August, and I just love them and will continue to add to my collection.  The range includes  tea cups and saucers, tea pots, plates, mugs, bowls, charger plates, etc and look gorgeous when the various colours are mixed with each other.  Available from John Lewis for £4 – £50 and other retailers.

4.  Charbonnel et Walker Pink Marc de Champagne Truffles – Swarovski Crystal Edition – I just love these delicious pink champagne truffles.  How could I not?  They’re pink!  And they’re actually what inspired my award winning Pink Champagne Cupcakes I made around the time when I first started Made With Pink.  To be honest, the only thing different about these truffles that makes them any different from the original Charbonnel Pink Marc de Champagne truffles is that the box is studded with gorgeous pink Swarovski Crystals. I’m going to be honest and say that I could never justify the cost of these just because they have Swarovski Crystals on the box, but there are obviously people who can!  I think for now I’m going to have to admire them from afar, but if you’re looking for a gift for the person that has everything, then you may want to pick up a box.  Available from Harrods for £50

5.  KitchenAid Ice Blue Artisan Mixer – I know I’m featuring two mixers, but I just love the look of both of the ones I’ve chosen.  I don’t know if I could ever stray from my pink KitchenAid Artisan Mixer, but this Ice Blue Model (slightly resembling a giant package from Tiffany’s) just might tempt me.  If I could have both I would!  Available from John Lewis for £419 – currently comes with a free glass mixing bowl worth £61

6.  Pink Heart Cast Iron Casserole Dish – I spotted this adorable baby pink heart shaped cast iron casserole dish during a recent shop at Sainsburys.  I was immediately impressed with the finish an quality of the dish, as well as it’s reasonable price tag. I know for a fact that this will be waiting for me under our tree on Christmas morning :-)  If you’re not a fan of the heart shape, it’s also available in the traditional round shape in two different sizes.  Available from Sainsburys for £30

7.  Hovis Bread Tin – I don’t know why, but I just love this vintage inspired Hovis bread loaf tin.  I’d seen them previously in Selfridges, but never purchased one.  I love the old fashioned look of them, and think they would make a fantastic gift – especially with a loaf of my banana bread already baked inside! I’m not sure if Selfridges still carry these, but they’re available online in two different sizes from Not On The High Street for £16 – £28

8.  Peggy Porschen Apron – Ever since discovering Peggy’s cake decorating books I’ve been a huge fan of hers, and fell in love with her pretty pink and brown aprons after seeing them on display in her cake parlour.  At the time of posting this the adult apron is currently sold out, but the children’s size is still available.  The aprons are normally sold in store and online, but as the adult size is out of stock it’s best to call the parlour to check availability.  Available from the Peggy Porschen Parlour for £15 – £25

9.  Kuhn Rikon Colori Knives – I can safely say that these coloured knives are the most used thing in my kitchen.  I’ve lost track as to how many I actually have, but the baby pink ones (I have several) are my favourite.  I love these knives because the blades are made of high-quality carbon with a non-stick coating and plastic blade protecting case, which makes them great because I can toss them in my drawer or purse (yes, I’ve been known to carry one in my purse!) without them getting dull.  They come in a huge variety of colours and patterns including leopard and zebra prints, and even polka dot and cupcake patterns!  Available from various retailers for around £6

10.   ToDryFor Tea Towels – I stumbled across the ToDryFor website a few months ago, and can’t get enough of their quirky tea towels!  They have a huge range of designs, many inspired by London and other famous world cities, but the 2 pictured above are probably my favourites.  Available online from the ToDryFor website for £8.50 – £12.50

Hopefully my picks will help you choose the perfect gift for your loved one, or feel free to hint to them about something that caught your eye!  

* Please note that My Top 10 Picks were independently chosen by me, and without any compensation or influence from the manufacturers. 

Cupcakes for Christmas

With the big day just around the corner, there’s still time to make a little something special to share with your friends and family on Christmas eve or Christmas day.  We’re all pretty busy this time of year.  There’s food to prepare, gifts to be wrapped and stockings to be stuffed.  I’ve come up with a few super easy ways to decorate your cupcakes for Christmas.  And don’t worry if you’re not very handy with a piping bag – I’ve also made a couple of cute little toppers that you can just stick right on top of your cupcake.  Here’s a few really simple ideas to decorate some cupcakes for Christmas. 
Christmas Tree Cupcakes 
These really are as simple as they look.  Pipe a big swirl of green icing onto your cupcake for the tree, then add some sprinkles for the lights, and finally cut out a little star from sugar paste or fondant to top it all off.  Pretty cute huh? (Excuse my icing, it looks a bit dry but it really wasn’t!)
Christmas Pudding Cupcakes 
Christmas puddings are a staple on every Christmas table in the UK, but they’re not very common in North America.  They’re traditionally made with dried fruit, spices and brandy, but are a bit labour intensive and can require up to 8 hours of steaming before they’re done the first phase of cooking.  Christmas puddings are made months ahead of time, and are then stored in a cool dark place (as one recipe states: “under the bed in an unheated bedroom is an ideal place”) until the big day.  They’re traditionally served with a custard or brandy sauce poured over top, and garnished with a sprig of holly.   If you’re like me and can’t be bothered with all that fuss, and I much prefer the taste (and ease) of a chocolate cupcake then give these decorated Christmas Pudding Cupcakes.  Cover your cupcake with chocolate icing, take a dollop of white icing and spread it around so it looks like it’s running down the top of the cupcakes, and then top it off with a few pieces of holly that have been cut out from sugar paste of fondant. Easy, and no piping bag required! 
Gingerbread Man Cupcakes 
You’ve got 2 choices with these, but both require a mini gingerbread cutter.  Last year I got a package of 12 mini gingerbread man cookie cutters, each one in a different position.  I didn’t get around to making gingerbread men this year, so I just used some sugar paste that I tinted brown.  You can use either sugar paste, fondant or gingerbread for your little men, and then use some little sprinkles for a face and buttons. 
Here are the two fondant plunger cutters I used for the star and holly decorations.  They’re sold in packs 3 stars and 3 holly leaves, each in a different size.  I kinda forgot to take a picture of all my little gingerbread men.  I got them at TK Maxx last year, but still see them there every few months. 
If you’re more of a cupcake topper fan, then you can give these ones a try.   
I purchased some pre-tied bows from the fabric store and just glued a toothpick onto the back of them.  Simple. But if you’re in more of a crafty mood you might want to making the little reindeer toppers.  
I picked up a pack of little gingham print wooden reindeer and a pack pre-tied tiny green and silver bows from Hobby Craft – each were only £1.  Simply trim the bows and glue them onto the reindeer using a glue gun.  Once they’ve cooled, flip them over and glue a toothpick onto the back. 
These are so easy to make, and I think they’re really something different than a regular cupcake decorated using only icing.  There’s just something very fun and whimsical about them.  So I’ve you’ve got a bit of spare time in the next day or so, give one of these cupcake ideas a try!

Welcome to the New Made With Pink!

Welcome to the new Made With Pink!

Made With Pink new website

I’ve made it no secret that for the past couple of years I’ve wanted to overhaul my site by moving it to WordPress and giving it a bit of a facelift. I’d fallen out of love with my old blogger site, so much so that I couldn’t bear to publish another post on it.  Mainly because whatever I published on the old blog, meant also needing to transfer it over to the new blog.  A prospect that terrified me.  Throughout the past year or so I’ve dabbled in designing a new layout myself, and trying to understand the complex process of unlocking domains, transferring content, fixing links, and transferring name servers.  I wasn’t getting anywhere fast.  In the end, it was a thoughtful Christmas present from my husband that finally led me to hire Erika S over at Designer Blogs.  We worked together to identify the style I wanted my new site to be, and she put together an awesome mood board which was exactly what I wanted. Once we’d agreed on the mood board Erika got to work creating my site, and took care of all the content transfer stuff that plagued me for years.

Overall I’m super happy with my new design.  It’s so much lighter, brighter and whiter!  I wanted to keep it super simple, with lots of white, and just a touch of pale pink and grey. Now  my pictures are much larger, and really stand out on the clean white background, rather than getting lost in a sea of dark grey like they were on my blogger site.

There’s still a few niggles I have to work out, so please bear with me if something isn’t completely perfect just quite yet.

And while I did take a bit of a hiatus from blogging, I continued to bake loads of delicious treats and photograph them along the way so that I could share them with you.

Keep an eye out later in the week for a brand new post.