Aisybee written, photographed & pasted together by Aisling.

Impromptu Peanut Butter Cup Cake!

Posted on December 21, 2014 under Food, Gluten Free, Photos

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A good thing about liking to bake is that I am usually only an hour or so away from having something sweet whenever the mood strikes. For example, if it is a Wednesday evening and I have no desire to run to Tesco for chocolate, I can whip something up in a hurry. A bad thing about liking to bake is that I am usually only an hour or so away from having something sweet whenever the mood strikes. I’m not sure my thighs are appreciative of this fact. (I recommend buying a small cake tin if you live on your own like I do, lest you end up eating a whole 8in cake by yourself.)

I know I always insist this isn’t a food blog, yet here I am constantly blogging about food. This time, I’m not including a recipe though, because basically all I did was mix up the ingredients for a chocolate sponge. Then, I found a half-empty and kind-of-stale packet of Reese’s peanut butter chips that I brought back from Canada in July. And the rest was history. I baked the chips into the top of a chocolate sponge, layered a chocolate glaze on top, and a masterpiece was born. Yet another example of how simple and easy things really can be the most satisfactory.

Unfortunately, by the time I finished making this my chocolate craving had passed, but I still “forced” myself to have a little slice, and it was about as amazing as you would expect if you love chocolate and peanut butter as much as I do.

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Have you tried any impromptu/experimental bakes lately?

The Festive Tag!

Posted on December 18, 2014 under Fun Stuff, Personal

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(Let’s not even talk about the misplacement of the apostrophe on that window decal. Thanks for nothing Poundland! ;) )

Bit of a bonus post this week, as the lovely Jasmin Charlotte has tagged me to do the Festive Tag! I’m feeling pretty festive, and I hope you are too, because here we go!

1. What is your favourite Christmas Movie/s?

Mine is the 1994 version of Miracle on 34th Street. I watch this movie more than I should probably admit. Usually I even sneak a viewing in over the summer. It just has such a nostalgic feeling for me, and I get really weepy at the end. I also really enjoy A Charlie Brown Christmas and Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! which both remind me of my mom, It’s a Wonderful Life which reminds me of my dad, and Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town which reminds me of my brother.

2. Do you open your presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?

Usually on Christmas morning, although I am intending to be in Italy on Christmas this year, so I am just kind of opening things as I receive them. Obviously I don’t get very many gifts anymore!

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3. Do you have a favourite Christmas memory?

Not really one specifically. It’s more of just a montage of happy times at Christmas, whether just a quiet event with my mom, dad and Matt or a more extravagant affair with my extended family. Last Christmas was my first in England and my cousin came to visit, so that was rather lovely too!

4. Favourite festive food?

In my family, it’s got to be the Broccoli and Cheese Casserole. Now that I am an adult and live on my own, I do make it more frequently, but nothing beats the casserole at Christmas. In England I’ve become quite attached to pigs in blankets. And I recently tried mince pies for the first time since I was a small child and really enjoyed them, after years of being adamant that I hated them!

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5. Favourite Christmas gift?

I’m not sure that I have a favourite! I suppose the one that really sticks out to me over the years is the dollhouse my dad built for me. It was huge, and super detailed and basically the best.

6. Favourite Christmas scent?

My favourite non-floral scents are usually things like cinnamon and vanilla, as well as wood fires. So Christmas is a very pleasant time for me in terms of enjoying some of my favourite scents on a regular basis.

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7. Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?

Not really! At home we would eat a lot of yummy food, watch movies and play games. Last year my cousin and I went to the midnight service at the church next to my flat. This year I will have just arrived in Rome, so I’m planning on scoping out my neighbourhood and perhaps seeing if there is a service I can go to nearby. I don’t want to wander too much and risk getting lost in an unfamiliar country after dark, but a candlelight service in a country that holds its religion in rather high regard seems like a good experience to have!

8. What tops your tree?

My tree is from A Charlie Brown Christmas and it has exactly one ornament.

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9. As a kid what was the one (crazy, wild, extravagant) gift you always asked for but never received?

I don’t think I really asked for anything crazy. You might need to watch out in the comments and see if my mom can think of anything. In general I find asking for gifts to be embarrassing, and I was never really one to play with toys and stuff.

10. What’s the best part about Christmas for you?

I just love that everyone seems cheerful and generous and there are a lot of events to keep me busy! Shopping for gifts is fun, and I love the feeling of sitting down for a cup of tea and some cake during a shopping break, and walking around to look at the pretty lights. And I love Christmas carols. So many things about Christmas seem designed to please me (see: aforementioned cozy scents).

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Now I am going to be really boring and not tag anybody because I fear rejection from my peers I think quite a few of the bloggers I would tag have already got themselves set up with posts for the holiday season. However, if any of you want to do this, then I tag you! If you don’t have a blog feel free to post it in the comments of this entry.

Thanks again to Jasmin for tagging me! Make sure you check out her blog!

Canadian Butter Tarts

Posted on December 11, 2014 under Food, Gluten Free, Photos

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When thinking of Canadian food there is one go to: poutine. Any other Canadian food may as well not exist as far as many people outside of Canada are concerned. Of course, Canada has many signature foods! And many of them like to make an appearance around the holidays.

One of my favourite Christmas treats is a good old-fashioned butter tart. Every year, I would phone my Gram and ask for her recipe (and subsequently lose it, so I would have to phone her again the following year). When mentioning butter tarts to my British friends, they always ask for something to compare it to. No, it is not butter pie, nor does it have any relation to bread and butter pudding. It is a small tart filled with a sweet, syrupy filling and raisins (or, in my family, dried currants).

They’re also pretty simple to make! The only warning I’ve ever been given is do not double the recipe for the filling. I am serious. I’ve been told this every year. Apparently they will not work. I do not know if this is true, because of course I have never doubled the recipe. I trust the women in my family who have come before me. They would not issue such a severe warning without reason!

Ingredients time!

Pastry Ingredients

  • 300g plain white gluten free flour
  • 100g butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg

Filling Ingredients

  • 175g dried currants
  • 170g brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 57g melted butter
  • 1 tsp of vanilla

Plus you will need some kind of tart dishes. I use these little guys which I picked up at HomeSense. They’re great because their removable bottom makes the tarts easy to transfer!

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The following recipe  should make about 12 small tarts.

The first step, of course, is the pastry. Pastry is a pretty personal thing, so feel free to do your own thing at this stage. To be honest, I have had many a butter tart made with a store bought pastry and I’ve never complained. As for now, I require a gluten free crust. To make this I put the flour into a bowl and then I mix the butter in with my hands. I like to just skip any notions of forks and food processors and get in there! This allows me to get the breadcrumb texture I want when starting a pastry dough. Once the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, I add in my sugar and an egg and, once again, get my hands dirty, combining them together until they form a semi-workable dough (it will likely be a little sticky, but some of the moisture will be absorbed when it sets).

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If you are making a gluten free pastry, you can work the dough quite a bit without the fear of building up gluten (which makes for a tough pastry). If you’re making a glutenful pastry, you need to be more careful.

Finally I wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and let it chill in my fridge for at least 30 minutes.

The next step is the filling, and if you’re looking for fancy instructions for this, you’ve come to the wrong place. Here is what you do: mix the filling ingredients together.

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Once your dough has chilled, take it out and roll out balls of it until it is a few millimetres thick. Again, I am not a fancy person, so I rolled mine out with a drinking glass. One day I will have a huge kitchen with fancy equipment, but for now I am a 26 year old living in a studio flat in Brighton. Line each of your tart pans with pastry. Gluten free pastry doesn’t always have the best structural integrity so I sometimes kind of patch mine up in a way that would make Mary Berry give me a death glare. But, it’s Christmas! It’s not about how attractive the bake is, it’s about the deliciousness!

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Fill each shell with about a half tablespoon of the mixture. When baked, the mixture will bubble a bit, and expand, so make sure they aren’t too full, and stick a baking tray under them to be safe!

Pop these in the oven at about 180C and keep an eye on them. There is a debate over whether butter tarts are better runny or firm, but for me I like them when the tops are fairly firm (the centre might be a bit syrupy still). This can take about 10 minutes, but it really comes down to personal preference!

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Once the crust is looking golden and the filling has bubbled and firmed up a bit, take them out and allow to cool. They can be stored in a container on your counter top for several days, although they never last that long in my family!

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I’ve shared this recipe as part of the LV= Very British Cookbook… even though it isn’t a very British recipe. Whoops!