Friday, 24 January 2014

Dark Chocolate and Ginger Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting

So far, I'd have to say the New Year resolutions are not going well. I blame January, it's such a depressing month. Nothing good happens, and it's tax return time! Anyway I've been so incredibly lazy recently, sometimes writing a blog post is too much effort. But I did make some lovely cupcakes recently... so here's the recipe.

These are my usual dark chocolate mix cupcakes with some ginger added to make it a little more exciting. Spice it up if you'll excuse the pun. I added glace ginger in the mix, but I actually wasn't sure about the little lumps of ginger, it'd prefer it to be more even in the mixture. Glace ginger is also very sweet, so I think next time I'd try stem ginger.

100g dark chocolate
110g butter/margarine
100g caster sugar
100g light brown sugar
2 eggs
140g plain flour
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
100ml runny yoghurt
Tbsp of ground ginger
Tbsp of glace ginger

White chocolate icing
250g icing sugar
150g white chocolate
110g butter (softened)
2tbsp cream

A few gingernut biscuits

  • Preheat the oven to 180C, and line a muffin tin with baking cases.
  • Melt the chocolate in bursts in the microwave.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
  • Fold in the melted chocolate, and sift in the flour, bicarb and ginger.
  • Add the yoghurt and glace ginger and mix until just incorporated. Spoon into the prepared tins and bake for 15-20mins, or until springy to touch. Leave to cool.
  • To make the icing, beat the butter and a little icing sugar together until smooth. Gradually add the icing sugar a little at a time until it's completely incorporated.
  • Melt the white chocolate by heating in the microwave for short bursts of time, and add the chocolate to the icing mixture. Add the cream if it seems too thick.
  • Pipe the icing onto the cakes in large swirls with a star shaped nozzle. Top with half a gingernut biscuit and dust with some cocoa powder.

Since making these a week or so ago, I've started doing the 5:2 diet to deflate the Christmas tyre a little... so there wont be so much baking going on. Although I am going to try to make some muffins that are both delicious and low in calories, though I'm not convinced that can be done!

Emily Kate

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Ice Yarns Review

When Winter started coming around in around November last year, I had a list of several things I wanted to knit, for myself and for Christmas presents. I got a lovely book, Learn to knit, love to knit, for my birthday and couldn't wait to make some of the lovely chunky knits in it. So I started looking at yarns on ravelry, but as much as I love that site, the yarns that come up most often are always American ones, very difficult or expensive to get over here in the UK. I looked on eBay and Ice Yarns, a company based in Turkey come up frequently. I did a bit of googling, but couldn't really find many reviews on the stuff. But given how reasonably priced it is, I decided to buy some despite not knowing really what I would get.

 I have to say from looking at the yarn label, it looks like quite cheap acrylic yarn. But when you peruse their website, I was amazed at the variety of yarn they produce. You do have to order a pack of each type you order, 6, 8, or 4 balls, but given that 1 ball is usually somewhere between 50p and £2, each pack is often less than 1 ball of expensive pure wool. And although most of the yarn is acrylic or has some percentage of acrylic in it, one of the packs I ordered was filzy wool, a chunky 100% wool, in mustard yellow, a colour I'm a little obsessed with but not that easily found. I used it to make a lovely 'GAP-tastic cowl' a pattern found on ravelry here.  

I also bought a few different packs of alpaca/acrylic/wool blends.  They have many different blends of usually 50% acrylic, with natural fibres, perfect for Christmas presents of socks and gloves which people can just chuck in the washing machine without worrying. I ordered a Peru alpaca and macho alpaca, and a cream wool called flamme. That was my favourite one, a sort of slubby worsted, which I used to make lovely cosy slipper socks.

All together I spent around £40 ($67.00), including shipping, and for that I got 4 balls of the 100% wool, 8 balls of black worsted, 8 of turquoise, 8 of chunky blue, and 8 of cream worsted. Which I think is a pretty good deal! So far I've made 4 pairs of slipper socks, one bobble hat, one pair of gloves and one cowl, and I still have more than half the wool left!

So in conclusion, I would definitely recommend Ice yarns, if you need quite a bit of wool. They use good couriers like DHL so you can receive it in just a few days, and the prices are so reasonable that the shipping price doesn't put you off. The wool is good quality, easy to knit with and they have such a wide variety that you are sure to find something you like!

Emily Kate

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy New Year!

So it's the start of a new year, and I thought I'd share a few things with you. Firstly a few of my exciting, craft related Christmas presents.

As you can see, I got a bodyform/mannequin, which should help stop the wonky collars I've been struggling with recently. I also got a few crafty books. My favourite is the Great British Sewing Bee book. In  reviews online some people have complained about the fact you have to download and print out the patterns (not a problem for me since I also got a printer for Christmas!) But I really don't see this as an issue, as they provide so many great patterns that they couldn't possibly provide the templates to every one to scale in the book. Given what each pattern would cost to buy individually, It's really a great deal in the book. Usually in sewing/craft books I might want to make 50-75% of the patterns, but in this one every single one is fashionable, useful and right up my street. I can't wait to get started!

Looking back on 2013 earlier today, I was thinking that it's not been that exciting a year really. I mean not much has happened in my personal life, or with work. But it terms of my crafty side, it's really been a year of firsts.

I started my blog, way back in March.
I got a sewing machine for my birthday in July and started making my own clothes.
I started doing hand embroidery, and free machine embroidery.
I opened a shop on Etsy and started selling my knitted musicians!
So with all that in mind, I've written a few New Years resolutions to share with you. Normally I don't bother, or if I do, I don't keep to them. But I thought I might be more likely to if I publish them (and my mum reads them!)
Keep making my own clothes, and learning more difficult sewing techniques. I'm thinking of doing a 12projects in 12 months, if anyone knows of one to join!
Wear a handmade dress to each of the 2 weddings I'm attending this year! (not the same one!)
Learn to crochet so I can make a granny blanket
Keep blogging regularly
Open a new Etsy shop for my embroidery, and get on with making more cushions with various city skylines on!
All that's left to do is thank my readers... although I may not be read by that many, your comments always make me so happy, and you've inspired me to sell some of my creations.
I've truly joined the crafty revolution.