Thursday, 25 April 2013

Homemade Madagascan Vanilla Extract

Being a normal person with a normal person's kitchen I'm a huge fan of foolproof recipes that give amazing results and it really doesn't get much simpler than this recipe for homemade vanilla extract.

Featuring in a large number of recipes vanilla extract is an essential ingredient for most baker's store cupboards, but it's definitely one of those things where you get what you pay for and good quality vanilla extract comes with a pretty hefty price tag.  The good news is that you can easily make your own for a far more sensible outlay.  Personally I have never tried a shop bought version that can match home made for taste and as soon as my bought ones are used up I doubt they'll ever darken my kitchen again.

vanilla extract


1 bottle of good quality (unflavoured) vodka
12 - 15 whole vanilla pods


  1. Drop the vanilla pods, whole, into the bottle of vodka making sure that they are completely covered by the alcohol.  You might need to remove a bit of vodka from the bottle first to make sure there is space for the vanilla as the vodka is displaced.  (Oh dear now you've got spare vodka with no home, that's a shame)
  2. Put in the back of the cupboard and forget about it for at least a month by which time the vanilla will have spread itself around giving the most amazing vanilla extract, ready to use in all your culinary masterpieces.

How easy is that?

This extract will last you for years

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Millionaire's Chocolates - A Twist on an Old Favourite

I'm really excited today.  Not only am I baking and writing my first proper blog post but I'm making something that is my own idea and creation.  The idea has been building all week and finally today I'm putting it into practise.

The inspiration is Millionaire's Shortbread, or caramel squares, whichever you prefer to call them.  These are a firm favourite in our house but we usually buy them and stock up from a particular shop in the Lake District that does them brilliantly.  I've only made them once before and it didn't go that well.  I halved the shortbread mixture but failed to reduce the cooking time, my caramel was too runny, and the first lot of chocolate topping I made got water in it and split.  Disaster overall.

I have a pyramid shaped chocolate mould and I thought it would be fun to use it to make chocolates that include all the essential elements of Millionaire's Shortbread.  A chocolate shell with broken pieces of shortbread inside and caramel filling the gaps.  For an extra touch and a more interesting appearance I decided to smash honeycomb into small pieces and make a little crust on the chocolate.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Past Efforts

To get things off to a start (and as I haven't done any baking in the few hours since I had the idea for this blog) here are a few photos of baking that I have done in the past.  I'll probably try and do some of these again and when I do I'll take pictures of the process not just the end result.  In the meantime here's a taste of what's to come.