A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: simple

I picked up some dates on clearance at the supermarket. I wasn’t sure what I would do with them at the time, but at 25p a pack I snapped them up.

While looking on Pinterest for recipe ideas, this recipe caught my eye. I am a complete sucker for anything that purports to be salted caramel. While I was dubious about whether dates could ever aspire to the deliciousness of cream and sugar, I had some tahini in the fridge and decided to give it a go.

Tahini is one of those things that I find it hard to use up. I tend to buy a jar to make hummus, only to have the rest of it sitting in the fridge for the next five years, looking all separated and neglected. However, since I am attempting to reduce my plastic waste, maybe more homemade hummus is in my future, especially since I finally found a satisfactory recipe.

Anyway, here is the recipe for the bite things.


  • 175g dates, pitted
  • 80g tahini*
  • 100g dark chocolate, at least 70%
  • Sea salt
  • Cocoa powder (optional)

*You can substitute any nut or seed butter of your choice for the tahini. For my second attempt at these bars, I only had 30g tahini left so I swapped out the rest for peanut butter.


Combine the tahini and stoned dates in a blender. If you are using a domestic machine, make sure to pulse for short periods of time so you don’t overload your motor! The mixture will come together into a ball. If it’s not coming together, add a little extra tahini.

Press into a container. I found this baking tray too big but I’d already oiled it so went ahead with it anyway.

Refrigerate overnight or freeze for 30minute, then chop the date mixture up into chunks of your desired size. I recommend not making them too big so that you get plenty of chocolate in every bite.

Melt the chocolate and coat each piece.

While the chocolate is still melted, sprinkle over sea salt.

I also coated some of my bites in cocoa powder because (I think because of my kitchen being hot) the chocolate had some bubbles on the surface that looked unappetising.

Store in the fridge in an airtight container.

I was sceptical about this recipe but these bites are delicious. The texture is much nicer than most dried-fruit nut bars, with a nice bite and chew. The dark chocolate adds an amazing bitter counterpoint to the sweetness of the dates and the brightness of the salt is the icing on the cake (so to speak).

I would love to learn to temper chocolate. Imagine how beautiful these bites would look if the chocolate was shiny!

We who run according to the academic calendar are limping towards the end of the year with relief and exhaustion in equal measure. This means a few celebrations are in order, and I decided to bake for my team. I wanted a fairly simple recipe and decided on muffins. I had a chocolate and cream cheese recipe that I’ve had pinned for a while in mind, but then my uncle requested blueberry and I decided to go with that.

I’ve never made blueberry muffins before so I just googled a recipe and this one was very well reviewed. I made no changes except being very generous with the fruit. I used £5 of blueberries in 14 muffins. That’s the equivalent of nearly $1! I think it would also be wonderful with fresh blackberries.

Blueberry muffins

I found the sponge a little dry. Although it was hard to notice because of the juicy fruit, I might try a recipe with buttermilk next time.

I should have filled the liners up more (I got three extra cupcakes from the mix) but I was scared they would overflow. I needn’t have worried.

I choose to believe it was the delicate scent of freshly baked muffins that enticed an exotic visitor to join our party.

Though he seemed more interested in eating our excess strawberries.

I wanted to make something very quick last week, for a cool reason and definitely not for a Quidditch match in the HPKCHC, and I decided I would finally extend my crochet skills for making amigurumi. If you’ve ever seen cute crocheted toys, they are probably amigurumi, which I think is a Japanese technique. I made two simple stuffed golden balls. No sniggering in the back!

Each sphere probably only took half an hour. I learned how to do a single crochet, and how to increase and decrease single crochets. My crocheting really is incredibly basic and they were very simple techniques to learn. I stuffed them with old tights to make them more animal friendly. Here they are being played with by an adorable puppy.

Puppy playing with crocheted ball

The pattern is available for free on Ravelry, and is actually a Golden Snitch pattern, but I couldn’t be bothered making the wings.


Ravelry project page

Yarn: Some cheap acrylic DK from my stash

Hook: 3.5mm

This is my first bake in my new kitchen! I think these cookies came out pretty well even though it turned out that I had the wrong kind of flour, I’ve lost my raising agents in the move and my oven doesn’t have any markings indicating the temperature. May have to capitulate and buy and oven thermotmeter.

These cookies were well reviewed by all who tasted them despite the issues. They are soft and cakey with a delicate lemon flavour. I upped the lemon in the recipe I give below compared to the original. Since I use vanilla sugar, the cookies also have a lovely perfume, and the roll in icing sugar prior to the oven gives a slight crisp to the outside. I will try these again and report back on the difference!



Makes 16 cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 1/4tsp baking powder
  • 1/8tsp bicarbonate of soda 
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar

Note: I used self raising flour in lieu of the flour and raising agents, hence my puffer cookies. 


1. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F (or a random temperature in my case). Line two baking sheets with baking parchment.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 

3. Add vanilla, egg, lemon zest and juice.

4. Stir in dry ingredients (except the icing sugar) until just combined.

5. Put the icing sugar into a small bowl. Form a heaped teaspoon of dough into a ball and roll in powdered sugar. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough.


6. Bake for 9-11 minutes, until bottoms begin to brown and cookies look matte, rather than wet or shiny. Remove from oven and cool for about 3 minutes on tray before transferring to cooling rack.

I’ve had an awful lot of baking to do recently and so I’ve been focusing on recipes that are very quick and simple, such as this rich, light cake smothered with chocolate ganache. The cake is really quick to put together. It was out of the oven and cooling within an hour of my arriving at home after work. Please excuse how it looks, I foolishly rushed my ganache and it split, though it still tastes great. 


Makes one 8″ square cake

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 6oz/ 2/3cup Greek yoghurt or sour cream- full fat
  • 1/4cup light olive, coconut or nut oil
  • 1 1/2tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1/2cup filter coffee, cooled, or water
  • 1/2cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup plain flour 
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp baking powder

For the ganache

  • 9oz/250g plain chocolate
  • 3/4cup/170ml double cream
  • 1tsp vanilla extract or other flavouring of your choice


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F/180C
  2. Put your coffee on to brew if it’s not already made 
  3. Grease and/or line an 8×8 or 9×9 inch square baking pan
  4. In a large bowl combine egg, sugar, yogurt, oil, vanilla, and mix until smooth and combined. 
  5. Add coffee, cocoa powder and stir vigorously until batter is smooth and free from lumps.
  6. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and mix vigorously until batter has just combined, about 1 minute. The coffee can be any temperature other than very hot so you don’t scramble the egg. I put a couple of ice cubes into the measuring cup and the poured the hot coffee over. 
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 20-25mins, until the top is set and the cake passes the toothpick test. 
  8. Leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack. The cake must be completely cool before topping with ganache. 
  9. For the ganache, finely chop the chocolate and put into a heatproof bowl 
  10. Put the cream into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Pour over the chopped chocolate. Leave for 30s, then stir until smooth. 
  11. Pour the ganache over the cold cake and leave to set before cutting. 

I fancied a quick knitting project last week as a break from the intense concentration of my Rock Island Shawl. I had half a ball of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino left over from the baby blanket I made, so I decided to put it to good use. I was pretty anxious that I wouldn’t have enough yarn, but I think it’ll be okay.

I’ve been freestlyling/winging this little hat, which I think the recipient would approve of. I might even write up the pattern. I think the star decrease on the crown looks pretty good.

I think I’m going to add some little ears to the top. What do you think, panda or polar bear?

Yesterday I found myself with a need for sweet, but it was far too cold for me to venture to the corner shop. I thought I had the ingredients for gingerbread, so I merrily mixed the butter, sugar, golden syrup and egg. And then realised I had no plain flour. I’ve been quite strict recently as I’m planning to move house soon and I’m trying to empty my overly full food cupboard, hence this uncharacteristic oversight. I couldn’t waste that bowl of ingredients, so I made a last minute substitution and went for flapjacks instead. Egg is not a traditional ingredient, but it was too late so I had to hope that it wouldn’t ruin them.

Phew! I think the flapjacks are a bit cakier than normal, but that ain’t no thang.
Here is the recipe, adapted from Mary Berry’s, that I should have used.


  • 120ml (1/2 cup) golden syrup
  • 100g (1/2 cup) sugar (I used half dark brown and half granulated, or demerara would be good)
  • 125g (1/2 cup) butter
  • 250g (2 1/2 cups) oats


  1. Preheat the oven t0 180C. Grease an 8 inch square baking tin. I used a loose-bottommed one, which made removing the flapjack easy even though some of the caramel leaked during baking. I think it would be a good idea to line the tin with baking parchment. If your tin isn’t loose-bottommed, leave an overhang on two sides that you can use to lift the flapjack out at the end.
  2. Combine the butter, sugar and syrup in a small saucepan. Cook over a low-medium heat until all of the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is uniform (and delicious).
  3. Stir in the oats, and mix until well combined.
  4. Transfer the mixture to your prepared baking tin. Smooth the top down using a wooden spoon.
  5. Bake for 20-30 mins, until the edges are golden and the flapjack appears set.
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  7. Remove from the oven onto a wire rack and leave to cool in the tin. If you want, you can mark out your bars after 5 mins to make cutting easier.
  8. Once cool, remove from tin, cut to size and consume.