Friday 27 March 2015

B r i t D e c o r : Bakes / Blonde Rocky Roads

All images / Mike Ahern

I may well have already confessed to regular readers of Brit Decor that I'm a huge fan of Rocky Roads, which isn't difficult, right? So today I wanted to experiment slightly with a blonde version of this classic favourite - just in time for feeding guests over the Easter holiday.

The white chocolate makes this an especially sweet treat and the best thing about this bake is - you can cut it up into tiny bite-sized pieces, making the servings go that much further. As it's Easter, I added mini eggs for that extra crunch, which along with the digestive biscuits and the set chocolate makes for a crunchy bite - not for the faint hearted!

Will you be baking or making over the Easter break?

3x 200g Bars of white chocolate
400g Digestive biscuits
300g Mini eggs
20g Micro marshmallows

How to make:
Line a baking tin or dish with greaseproof paper. Melt the white chocolate in a bowl above gently simmering water but do not let the water boil, white chocolate needs less heat than milk choc!

In a bowl gently crush the the digestive biscuits into rocky chunks and then crush or chop the mini eggs. Add the melted chocolate and mix together, adding in some micro marshmallows for good measure. Scoop the mixture into the pre-prepared tray. Place in the refrigerator and leave for several hours to set.

To serve - dust with icing sugar and sprinkled on some of the remaining micro marshmallows.

Friday 13 March 2015

Brit Decor Bakes / Mint choc cookies

All images / Mike Ahern

Before I even begin to comment on the taste sensation these little chocolatey treats deliver, I have to say that I am also rather partial to the colour combo of the rich dark chocolate and the contrast this creates with the delicate peppermint green icing and chocolate sprinkles - a visual feast!

The highly delicate crunch of these peppermint flavoured cookies combined with the velvety texture of the chocolate chunks provide a melt in the mouth moment, whilst the sweet peppermint icing adds a friendly 'kick' to the overall taste sensation. The key is not to overcook these, which gives a softer chewiness to each bite.

I chose these cookies for today's bake because we were recently expecting my folks to visit the cottage and I always love to have some kind of tasty treats strategically placed on the coffee table, ready for our guests to indulge. Some freshly baked and decorated cookies seemed the perfect choice for morning tea don't you think? (Although I wouldn't say 'no' to these at any time of the day!)

Have a great weekend friends...

200g Plain flour
100g Sugar
120g Unsalted butter
40g Cocoa powder
80g Dark chocolate (chopped into rough chunks)
1 Egg
1/4 tsp Peppermint essence
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1/4 tsp Baking powder

For the icing:
100g Icing sugar
1/4 tsp Peppermint essence
1/4 tsp Green food colouring

How to make:
Preheat the oven to around 180oc. In a bowl, mix together the sugar and butter before adding the egg & peppermint to create a light and fluffy consistency. Then gradually add the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Finally, add the chocolate chunks and mix well.

Whilst waiting for the oven to heat, I popped the mixture into the freezer for a few minutes but this is optional. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Roll out the mixture into small tablespoon-sized balls (approximately 12) and place onto the baking trays. Gently press down the top of each ball with your thumb and add a few more chocolate chunks on top.

Bake for approximately 10 minutes (the centres should still be soft). Allow the cookies to cool completely before mixing up the icing (I dare you not to try a warm one!) Drizzle the green icing over the tops of the cookies and sprinkle with some of the chocolate debris.

Friday 6 March 2015

Brit Decor Makes: Shibori Cushion

All Images / Mike Ahern

Once again the cottage was a hive of activity at the weekend with the swirling of fabric dye, followed by the buzz of my sewing machine - yeah I can sew! It felt so good to be making my own home accessories again.

The Spring-fuelled excitement was all about creating a new cushion for the lounge, which was born out of my decision to introduce some blue accent colouring to this space for Spring/Summer (it's a south facing room and blues take on a slightly mediterranean look when bathed in sunlight). In terms of pattern, I opted for the stunning and ancient Japanese Shibori technique and its beautiful watercolour-effect.

There are many different versions of Shibori, but here I have used the Kanoko technique, which is basically a tie-dye process. Here I have taken a large square of fabric and neatly folded it into squares until I was left with one small square. I then placed a small square of wood on top and another underneath (I used some old coasters). Finally I bound the fabric and squares together using elastic bands (as shown in images 2 & 3 'above'). 

I then soaked the package in water before immersing in navy fabric dye for around 10 minutes. Afterwards I removed it from the dye, left the fabric to drain and oxidize for a few minutes before carefully  unwrapping and rinsing with cold water.

I have to admit that I was pretty thrilled with the final result, which I quickly ran through the sewing machine with a thick textured white cotton backing for the perfect contrasting white versus navy cushion.

Have you used this technique before and if so, what was your experience?

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