Monday, 31 December 2012

How to decorate your New Year's Eve cake

I'm not sure where I got the idea to turn a normal chocolate mud cake into something more boozy with the edition of mulled wine, but it has been floating around in my head for a while now! So I decided to give it a whirl for New Year's Eve and, even if  I to say so myself, it is a triumph, the wine isn't too overpowering and the boozy sultanas are deliciously squidgy. 

Mulled wine chocolate mud cake


Mulled wine:

  • 600ml red wine
  • 100g sugar
  • 60g sultanas
  • 6 cardamon pods
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • freshly squeezed juice of an orange


  • 230g good quality dark chocolate
  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 400 ml mulled wine
  • 2 large eggs
  • 160g sugar
  • 260g self raising flour


  • 200ml mulled wine
  • 400g good quality dark chocolate


  • Add all the mulled wine ingredients into a saucepan and gently simmer for 30 mins. Strain the wine keeping the sultanas but discarding the cloves, cardamons and cinnamon.
  • Grease and line a 7" cake tin.
  • Preheat the oven to 170C/325F
  • Place 400ml of the mulled wine, the chocolate and the butter into a saucepan and gently heat until the chocolate and butter have melted. Leave to cool slightly.
  • In a bowl lightly beat the eggs, slowly add the melted chocolate mixture beating well.
  • Beat in the flour and sugar.
  • Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 40-45 mins until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.
  • Melt the chocolate and beat it as you slowly pour in the wine, (which should also be hot.) Beat until they are combined.
  • Take half the ganache and stir in the sultanas.
  • Cut the cake in half and pour over the ganache with the sultanas. Put it into the fridge to harden.
  • Place the other half of the cake on top (I turn the cake upside down so the top becomes the bottom as you may find it cracks a little) and pour over the rest of the ganache.
  • Decorate by splashing the cake with edible gold paint.

I wanted to decorate the cake in quite a simple manner, as you want to be able to spend most of the day primping and preening yourself and not a cake. Fortunately I always have some spare cookie dough in the freezer, so I decided to use that rather than messing about with fondant. You will need to use a fairly stiff dough so that it keeps it shape, of course you could spell out the new date rather than a countdown, or even make a Valentine's Day version with your initials.


I hope you have a lovely celebration tonight and that there is a wonderful, cake filled year to come for you.
You can download a pdf of the recipe here.


Saturday, 29 December 2012

Homemade Irish Cream recipe

Well Christmas has come and gone, and, as I look back on the Holiday season I see myself not so much as a celebrant, but more of a nurse! So I am hoping that the New Year's bash holds promise of more fun and that I don't succumb to the virus that has rampaged through the rest of my family. Please don't worry about me though, I am successfully staving it off with a mixture of echinacea and advocaat!
If , like us, you are going to a New Year's Eve party, you may be thinking about taking a hostess gift with you, and I have the perfect one for you here. This recipe for Irish cream was given to me about 25 years ago by a vicar, and has been made nearly every year since. It always goes down a storm and, even if you are not a fan of the commercial stuff, I promise, you will love this. It is so easy to make, taste like heaven, and you must keep the biggest bottle for yourself.
You can use any alcohol you prefer but it must have a rich flavour, so scotch, brandy or rum are really the best.

(It will last up to two months if you keep refrigerated.)
You can download the recipe here.

Have a really lovely New Year's Eve Party (or a snugly night in if that's your preference).


Monday, 24 December 2012

Happy Christmas

To all you amazing followers.  A very merry Christmas with more chocolate than sprouts!  

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Twelve days of mocktails

I was asked by the super people at Innocent Drinks to create a special seasonal mocktail. There are twelve bloggers involved and each one had to create a drink to represent one of the Twelve Days of Christmas.
I was given 'Ten Lords A Leaping'...mmm...that's an easy one to convert into a drink, or not! I needed help. So I asked for some ideas from Miss Cakehead who is a creative genius. she immediately suggested frogs as a theme as they definitely love leaping, and they are so Christmassy. I myself into creating a mocktail to suggest a groggy swamp. I muddled up some mint leaves to make it extra swampy. Of course there had to be some glitter as they are frog lords and a spoonful of popping candy actually makes it sound as if the frogs are croaking. I tried a good few versions and fortunately the kidlets were delighted to be my taste-testers.
This is the final version.


10 Froggy Lords A-Leaping in Their Swamp

(or Snap, Crackle and Hop)


  • 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 3 sprigs of mint
  • 75ml Innocent kiwis, apples and lime smoothie
  • 50 ml of Innocent apple juice
  • soda water
  • edible glitter (preferably green)
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of popping candy
  • ice
  • a straw


  • Squeeze the juice of the lime and put in a cocktail shaker. Add the sugar and mint and macerate with a muddler. Add the smoothie and the apple juice. Shake
  • Fill a long glass with ice and pour in the drink.
  • Top up the glass with soda water
  • Add a sprinkle of glitter
  • Add the popping candy and stir with a straw so it sinks to the bottom
  • Drink to the sound of the froggy lords croaking!
It's quite a fun drink and my kids love it!

Then Innocent took my recipe and turned it into this fabulous card which you can download here.
When the twelve days are over I will add a link to the recipe booklet for all of the drinks.
You can now find all the fabulous recipes here.
(I haven't been paid for this but I did receive an inspiration box and some vouchers to buy ingredients)

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

How to decorate your Christmas cake

If you haven't made your Christmas cake yet, don't worry, there is still time. You can find my recipe here
But maybe you have already made it, and you are wondering how to decorate it, or maybe you want to spice up a plain shop bought cake. Worry no more, as I have the perfect (and quick) way to bring some cheer to your Christmas table. Why not adorn your cake of fruity goodness with this cute snowman snow globe?
It really is very quick to do and is bound to elicit much ooohing and ahhing from your guests.
It's all in picture instructions, as I find it the easiest way to show what I mean.
You will need some modelling paste (mix 1 teaspoon of gum trag with 250g of fondant, knead together for 10 mins and leave overnight) a  medium sized paintbrush (size 8) and a small one for outlines ( size 0), a palatte  boiled water, kitchen roll and colours (egg yellow, baby blue, dark brown, pink).
You can download the template here.
Here's how it's done!

Covering your cake

Making your snow globe

Painting your snow globe

 Rectifying mistakes

Finish off with a nice big bow and maybe a few decorative snowflake sprinkles.

Harrods hamper winner

Congratulations to Betty who has won the fabulous Harrods luxury hamper. I have emailed you.
I hope to have some more lovely giveaways next year, I only wish I could send you all a hamper.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Christmas goodies

I thought you may like to see some of this year's Nevie-Pie Cakes Christmas designs.

ps if you are in the UK don't forget to enter my fabulous giveaway here.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Book club cake of the month...December

This was another slightly unofficial book club, as we went out to a cocktail bar as a Christmas treat and a catch up. However we had all decided to read 'A Christmas Carol' by Charles Dickens. 
I don't think that any of us had read the book before, even though we all knew the story back to front. As I was reading all I could see were images from 'Scrooged' in front of me. And now I really want to see the film again, I love the Spirit of Christmas present! 
We all enjoyed the book, it's more of a novella so it is a quick read and guaranteed to make you feel the Christmas spirit. We also felt that Dickens is an amazing writer and was ahead of his time in showing how upbringing can lead to character traits later in life. I must also admit to shedding a tear at the end, (and to constantly singing 'Put A Little Love In Your Heart' from Scrooged'.)
We marked it 81/2 and then moved on to cocktails and a cheese board.

(The Spirit of Christmas Present)

I decided to make little Christmas treats for all the book group members. So I made them gingerbread cookie baubles and illustrated some of the books we had read this year. I then made them guess which ones they were, fortunately they all got them or I would have been worried about my illustration skills.
I have labelled them underneath for you.

Every month we meet we try to remember past marks, and never can, so as a book club service I thought I would recap.
January - The Silent Land by Graham Joyce 5 1/2
February - The Observations by Jane Harris 8 - 8 1/2
April - War of the Worlds by H G Wells 8
May - Cry The Beloved Country by Alan Paton 7 5/8
July - The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey 8 1/2
August - Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James 6 1/2
September - Money by Martin Amis 5 1/2
October - The Hundred Year Old Man by Jonas Jonnason 6 1/2
November - The House of Mirth by Edith Warton 8
December - A Christmas Carol by Carles Dickens 8 1/2

I really enjoy meeting every month with these fabulous ladies and giving myself the challenge of making new cakes for the books.
Here's to a very literary New Year.

Previous book club cakes of the month;
November 2012

Friday, 14 December 2012

Harrods hamper giveaway

What's that? you cry, two posts in one day, I know, I'm spoiling you!
But I couldn't say no to this giveaway, could I?

I am so excited that Harrods have very kindly offered to giveaway a luxury chocolate hamper to one of you fabulous chocolate lovers, although I'm feeling a bit jealous too. 
They gave me the pick of their food hampers and this beauty caught my eye. It is a presented in an edible gingerbread house and stuffed with lollipops, cookies, jelly beans and other confections. It retails at £95 and would make a lovely Christmas treat.
I am hoping to create a sweet theme Christmas display this year and so I felt that this hamper was the one I should pick.

How can I win? You ask.
Well, first you have to live in the UK (sorry rest of the world!)
Then have a look at Harrods hamper selection and let me know in the comment section which one you would love to find under your Christmas tree, please leave an email address with your comment too.
Leave a separate comment if you follow me, if you link to this post via Facebook, Twitter or your own blog. So you could have up to five chances of winning.
The competition will close on Wednesday 19th December at 12pm.  The winner will be drawn using
Good luck.
(I haven't received any payment or products for hosting this giveaway)

Yummy mince pies

Your mincemeat should be nicely matured and ready to break out of the jar. So I thought I would share a mince pie recipe. 
My Gran was a real Lancashire lass and a fabulous baker, she was amazing at pastry, I can still taste her meat and potato pie. However, I have always found pastry really difficult to make, although it should be in my genes! This all changed when I got a fabulous recipe in a free baking booklet, and now every time I make pastry I have to elicit comments on how amazing it is (to much rolling of eyes). I have tweaked it a little as it was originally a savoury pastry recipe. Here's my secret trick to making this pastry Granny-Snape-fabulous, 10-15 minutes before you start, put a beaker of water in the freezer, so that it really is ice cold.

I forgot to add that you should rub the flour and fat together with your fingers until they are like fine breadcrumbs. I hope you really enjoy your mince pies, you can download the recipe here, and the mince meat recipe here

I had to wait a day for the light to return to take pictures of the final products and these three pies were all that was left! (I won't admit to how many I ate)

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Homelessness at Christmas

I have about three or four blog posts hiding in my head and camera at the minute. However they will all have to wait as I have been asked by Shelter to help with their Homeless at Christmas campaign, and I really couldn't say no!

This year they are highlighting the number of children who will be homeless, more than 75,000 which is truly shocking.

Campbell Robb, Shelter’s Chief Executive, said:
‘No child should be homeless at Christmas. Every December, Shelter’s helpline and advice centres deal with thousands of people at risk of losing their home. We need everyone’s support in the coming months to prevent families becoming homeless; and to help them find a new home if they do.’

Anyway as a way of considering homelessness Shelter are asking us all to think about what we would save if like some people this Christmas we were made homeless and lost all our possessions.

When I was little it was always Big Ted and if I'm honest he would still be pretty high on my list. However now, and this may seem really sad, it would be my phone. It is my life wrapped up in a little box, emails, photos, games etc.

You can join in, leave me a comment about your one treasured possession. Tweet a picture with the hashtag #justonething.

And of course the most important thing, you can give to help families facing homelessness by donating here.