DIY Porg Meringues

Its not May the 4th, and its not any time around a film being released, but I figured I actually didn’t need an excuse to share what I feel like is one of the cutest baking posts I’ve done in a long time. Well, it is actually the first time in ages that I’ve done a baking post, and its my first time baking in my new house, so ok, there’s the excuse!

Like them or loathe them (but seriously, who doesn’t like them?!), Porgs sorta stole the show in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Fun fact: the porgs were actually created as the island that the scenes were filmed on was populated with a whole load of puffins, and it was easier to CGI the porgs over all the puffins than it was to remove the puffins from the shots, so porgs are basically just space puffins. But I digress..

I’ve had the idea for these cute little sweet treats in my head for a little while now, and here they are – they’re a super simple bake and only 4 ingredients too! I always use the BBC Good Food Ultimate Meringue recipe for meringues, as below, but if you have your own go-to meringue recipe you can use that!

You will need:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 115g icing sugar
  • 100g milk or dark chocolate

Preheat your oven to 100C, and line a couple of baking trays with greaseproof paper. On the back of my greaseproof paper I drew a porg template ready for piping later, but you don’t have to do this.

Whisk your egg whites using a hand or stand mixer until they form stiff peaks, then up the speed a little and add the caster sugar one tablespoon at a time, waiting a few seconds between each spoonful. Once the caster sugar has all been added, your mix should look nice and shiny! Sift the icing sugar into the egg mix  one third at a time, and fold in gently using a metal spoon until smooth.

Now how you shape your porg is totally up to you, I used a piping bag but I imagine you could do it no problem using a spoon. Pipe/spoon your porg shapes onto the greaseproof paper leaving a little bit of space between each one – don’t worry about them being too peak-y or being all the same shape, it gives them character! Bake for 1 hour 30 mins, and then leave them to cool on a cooling rack.

To give yourself a nice flat canvas to work on, flip your meringues so that the flat side is the front of your porg, and now you’ve got yourself an army of little meringue porgs, you’re gonna want to melt down your chocolate. As you’re gonna be dipping, I suggest doing this in a fairly small bowl so that you’ve got some depth.

Take a porg, and working from wing to wing, dip and turn your meringue to create a chocolate border around your porg, then place them onto greaseproof paper to dry. You can then use either a piping bag or toothpick dipped in chocolate to add facial features. Pop your porgs in the fridge to allow the chocolate to harden, and you’re all done!

The meringues can be stored in a sealed container for about a week, if they last that long..

My Ultimate Easter Rocky Road Recipe

I haven’t done a baking recipe in what feels like FOREVER (I will bombard you with them after we’ve moved into our new house so enjoy the relative rarity of them while it lasts) and with the Easter weekend upon us, I figured I’d throw as many Easter themed treats into one recipe, and that called for one of my favourite recipes: rocky road.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can add or remove anything you fancy once you’ve got the core mix, so you can totally make this your own and go a little crazy if you want, but here’s how mine turned out..

You will need:

  • 225g chocolate (I personally prefer to use milk, but if you want to do dark, go for it!)
  • 100g butter
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 100g mini marshmallows
  • 100g chocolate chip cookies or digestive biscuits, broken up
  • 100g maltesers (I used slightly less for this recipe because I added mini eggs)
  • 75g Mini Eggs plus extra for decorating
  • 4-5 Creme Eggs

Line an 8-inch square tin with greaseproof paper.

To start off, melt down the chocolate and butter – I do this in a pan over hot water, but you can microwave it if you prefer. Mix in the cocoa powder, caster sugar and cocoa powder until completely smooth.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the marshmallows, cookies/biscuits, Maltesers and Mini Eggs, then pour in the chocolate mix and stir well until everything has a good coating of the chocolate mix, then pour into the tin and squish it down a little bit, but not too much.

Using a sharp knife, cut your Creme Eggs length-ways (along the little join). I then cut them in half again to make them go a little further, but that’s completely up to you! Press the Creme Egg pieces into the top of the mix so that they make their own little indentations to sit in, and chuck a couple of extra Mini Eggs on for good measure, then get this into the fridge for 1-2 hours.

Once set, chop into chunks and be prepared for it all to disappear a lot quicker than you expected..

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Blueberry Pancake Cupcakes

Happy Pancake Day everyone! I mean, its the most important day of the month today, right?

And I know that I know there are some people out there who aren’t totally pancake crazy (weirdos.. I joke) but if that’s the case or not, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share a recipe I’ve been sitting on for a little while now: my blueberry pancake cupcakes!

For the cupcakes, you’ll need 125g butter, 125g caster sugar, 2 eggs, 125g self raising flour, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional), plus a handful of blueberries – you can decide how blueberry crazy you want to be! Oh, and preheat your oven to 190C

  • Cream together the butter and sugar, then whisk in the egg.
  • Add the vanilla extract, then sift together the flour and cinnamon and mix well.
  • Line a cupcake tray with 12 cases, and drop a couple of blueberries into the bottom of each case, then add your remaining blueberries to the cake mix and whisk a little more so that they break up and release some of their yumminess into the mix.
  • Bake for 12-15 mins, then remove and allow to cool

While your cupcakes are baking, you can start on the fun task of making the (optional) tiny pancake toppers for the cupcakes, because these will also need a chance to cool before you compile your cupcakes at the end. This really calls for a classic American style pancake, and if you have your own favourite recipe then you can go ahead and whip that up, or this is the recipe that I use (you may want to make a half batch though!):

  • Sift together 135g plain flour with 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt and 2 tbsp caster sugar.
  • Separately whisk up 130ml milk with an egg and 2 tbsp melted butter, then pour into the flour mixture and whisk well until completely smooth.
  • Then you can go ahead and fry up your pancakes on a hob set at a medium heat – you can judge when its time to flip when little bubbles start to form on the top!

I tend to make a bunch of big pancakes, then use a cookie cutter to get them down to cupcake size, but if you have the patience to make a bunch of teeny tiny cupcakes then I’m all for that too! Pop these to one side, and make the buttercream:

  • Whisk together 175g caster sugar with 500g icing sugar until smooth
  • Optional: add 2 tbsp maple syrup and combine well – you may need to give your icing a chance to chill in the fridge before piping

Once everything is ready, get building! Pipe or spoon a good helping of buttercream onto each cupcake, top with a pancake and drizzle a little golden or maple syrup over the top and enjoy! If you’re making these in advance, don’t add the pancake until right before you serve, otherwise it can dry out a little bit, but the cupcakes themselves will store in a sealed container for up to a week!

You can thank me later!

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Quick and Easy Breakfast Puffs

For me, breakfast just doesn’t get enough attention. On weekdays its always rushed in the rat-race of getting ready for work, and on weekends its often brushed over by the plans of the day, when in reality it has the potential to be the best meal of the day.

Enter my breakfast puffs! These are my go-to when I’m craving something a little more special than a Belvita soft-bake or beans on toast, and they’re a real crowd-pleaser, while also being super easy to throw together.

You’ll need: ready roll puff pastry, eggs (1 per pastry), bacon (1-2 rashers per pastry), grated cheddar cheese, a sprinkling of your favourite herbs and a dash of salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 180C

To start off, roll out the pastry and cut into squares, then carefully fold over the edges to create a little rim. Take a fork and prick a few holes into the centre of the pastries, then pop into the oven for about 10 mins. Meanwhile, grill or fry your bacon.

When the 10 mins are up, remove your pastries from the oven, and if the centres have puffed up, press them back down using the back of a fork, so that the rim is still the highest part of the pastries.

Firstly, place your cooked bacon onto the puff, then crack an egg on top of each pastry. Sprinkle with cheese and herbs, and a dash of salt and pepper, and pop them back into the oven for another 5-8 mins, until the egg is fully cooked.

I normally like to sprinkle a little bit more cheese on top before serving, but that’s completely up to you! You can also mix these up by adding spinach or goats cheese, or whatever you fancy – that’s the beauty of them!

Enjoy!

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Shiny Shoes and Street Food

On Friday, Matthew and I took a semi-spontaneous trip into London, having been in Luton in the morning for a job interview. We caught the train from Luton Airport Parkway into St Pancras, and after going to see Platform 9 3/4 in Kings Cross – rookie mistake during school summer holidays cos it was pretty crazy! – hopped on the tube to one of my favourite places in London: Covent Garden.

It was gone 2:30pm by the time we actually got there, so lunch was really first on the agenda, and we decided to forgo our usual go-to restaurants and instead we went to Wahaca – Matthew had been before and raved about it, and I was up for seeing if it was as good as he said it was. The Covent Garden branch is actually just a few roads outside of the main square, but the restaurant was easy to find and as soon as I stepped inside I was pretty excited by everything going on. The decor was fun, the whole place smelled amazing and the staff were super friendly from the offset which is always a huge plus for me.

The menu consists primarily of ‘street food’ options, which are smaller dishes designed for sharing around the table, and although there are some dishes which are supposed to be more like a main course, I wanted the proper experience. We ordered 6 dishes between the two of us:

  • Frijoles and tortilla chips – a creamy bean dip with crumbled cheese and a bucket of chips for dipping
  • Four cheese empanadas – two crispy, crunchy pastry parcels filled with the creamiest and stringiest cheeses
  • British steak tacos – three small tortilla tacos filled with chunks of steak and salsa
  • Buttermilk chicken baja tacos – two larger soft tortilla tacos filled with crispy fried chicken and salsa
  • Mexican style chorizo and potato quesadillas – two grilled tortilla ‘sandwiches’ filled with chorizo and crushed potato with cheese
  • Chicken club quesadillas – quesadillas filled with grilled chicken, lettuce and spicy salsa

All of the dishes are brought out as soon as they’re ready, so you can just dive into whatever comes first, and it was really fun to be able to pick and choose and share. My absolute favourite dish was the cheese empanadas, which I haven’t stopped thinking about since, but also the buttermilk chicken tacos and the chicken club quesadillas are both dishes that I would order again.

While we tried our best to finish, we didn’t quite clear our plates, partly because we wanted room for dessert. Again, we decided to share two options, ordering the churros and chocolate dip, and the salted caramel ice-cream, both of which were absolutely to die for! Fully fuelled for the rest of the day, we went back to Covent Garden and wandered around the shops, including the Moomin Shop where I met Moomin himself!

When we left Covent Garden, we headed for the Natural History Museum to fill a little bit of time, then walked down to another of our London must-dos, Ben’s Cookies, to pick up a selection box of our favourite cookies, then got the tube back to Victoria as that morning we had booked tickets to see Wicked at the Apollo Victoria.

It was Matthew’s first time seeing the show, having only heard Defying Gravity before, and while I had seen it once before, it has been probably about 8 years since I last saw the show. In fact, the first time I saw Wicked in London was when Idina Menzel was still playing Elphaba, and nothing will ever top that for me! That said, the show was amazing, and of course had me in tears on more than one occasion. Wicked was the first musical that I fell in love with, and Defying Gravity and For Good are two of my all time favourite songs from any musical, and back in the days where I was confident enough to sing on stage in front of an audience, I once performed I’m Not That Girl.

I don’t know if it was just the progression and development of the show over time, but I felt that watching it after so many years I found it funnier, but that could just be down to me being a little older and understanding more of the jokes. Honestly though, despite a love of all things musical theatre, Wicked will always have a special place in my heart and I was so happy to see it again after all this time.

While I might not have ruby slippers, my feet were pretty damn comfy in my gorgeous new rose gold trainers from Truffle on Asos. Would you believe I only paid £11 for them?! I took a risk wearing them for the first time ever for a day walking around London but I am blister free and there was not a single complaint all day! I don’t normally go for this sort of style of trainer – I’m a strictly Converses kinda gal – but I’m so glad I bought these, and let’s face it, they’re the ultimate blogger shoe – even Matthew keeps referring to them as my shiny blogger shoes haha! I think they’ve got back up to £14 on Asos now but I still think that’s a bargain for such comfy and pretty shoes!

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Cauliflower Crusted Chicken Nuggets

Do you ever have a real craving for something, decide to make it there and then, and then go to the kitchen and find your missing a vital ingredient? Well that was me last week. I have a homemade chicken nugget recipe that I’ve been using for years, and it was all I wanted to have for dinner.. Until I discovered I hate no breadcrumbs. Gutted.

I mooched over to the fridge to find alternative food options, and was greeted by the tub of cauliflower rice. Lightbulb. Twenty minutes later: happy Lottie with chicken nuggets.

Make them now, thank me later!

You’re gonna need:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup cauliflower rice (I used the pre-made stuff you can get from most supermarkets now, but you can just blitz up your own in a food processer!)
  • 1 tbsp fine parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • Melted butter or a beaten egg yolk

Preheat your oven to 200C and cover a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

In a small bowl, mix together the cauliflower, cheese, rosemary, salt and pepper, and set to one side. Chop up your chicken breast into small nugget sized pieces, roughly 1 inch cubes!

If you’re using butter, now is the time to melt that, or beat up your egg yolk, then one piece at a time, dip the chicken into the butter/yolk, allow any excess to run off, then roll around in the cauliflower mixture.

Place each piece on the baking tray, leaving a little room between each nugget, and repeat until all of the chicken is covered. If you have any excess mix, you can use this to cover up any patches on any of the nuggets!

Bake in the oven for 12-15 mins, and be sure to check that the chicken is cooked through and juices are running clear.

Et voila – golden nuggets in less than 20 mins! Enjoy!

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Tale As Old As Time Afternoon Tea at The Kensington Hotel

I might be a little late to the party, but on Sunday I finally had my opportunity to go to the Beauty and the Beast themed afternoon tea at The Kensington Hotel in London, having had it booked for months.

We arrived at the hotel about half an hour early, but due to a few cancellations they managed to get a table ready for us well before our set time – although a little miscommunication meant we were sat at our table for quite a while before someone actually came to take our drink orders. I’m not really a tea drinker, so despite a big selection of teas to choose from, I chose one that I knew would be a safe bet: Wild Rooibos.

The tea came out pretty quickly, and was followed with a plate of little appetisers – a mini cheese souffle, a little pie and little breaded ball of beef ragu – all three of which were delicious and I was a little sad to only get one of each because I could have eaten them 10 times over. Once our plates were cleared, the main event was brought out..

The tea stand was accompanied by Lumiere and Mrs Potts (who was filled with cream), and consisted of finger sandwiches, sweet baguettes and the gorgeous themed desserts on top. The sweet baguettes weren’t really my thing, but the sandwiches were good and I was primarily there for the desserts!

Inside the adorable little Chip teacups was the famous Grey Stuff, which was indeed delicious and my favourite of all the desserts. The Cogsworth tart was also incredibly cute but very very rich and had marzipan in it which I’m not a fan of, and having eaten both of the portions of Grey Stuff, I couldn’t quite finish him! There was also a little coconut macaron ‘snowball’, which was a nice light option, and finally a clear jelly containing the last rose petal.

After finishing the tea, we were brought a wrapped biscuit – which was iced to look like Belle’s ballgown – to take home, but with the tea room being fairly quiet, we ended up staying at least an hour after we’d finished eating. We were there for at least 3 hours, so definitely made an effort to get our money’s worth out of it!