BakedIn Rainbow Cake Baking Kit Review

As you will all by now know, I absolutely love BakedIn. I came across them when I was reviewing the Degustabox subscription boxes. One month there was a BakedIn mug cake mix included. Being brutally honest, my opinion of “packet mixes” has always been rather negative, so I had decided in my head that the mug cake mix would be vile. Degustabox had once included some mug cake mixes from another big brand and they had been just as I expected… horrible, weird textured and artificial tasting. I made the BakedIn mug cake expecting to have a tiny spoonful and throw the rest away. Well that didn’t happen!!! It was absolutely scrumptious and tasted just like a baked-from-scratch cake. It disappeared in seconds! There had been a voucher included too to join the BakedIn Baking Club, which I did purely on the strength of how beautiful the mug cake was, and I haven’t looked back since. I love them!

I was very lucky recently when BakedIn asked me if I would like to try one of their newer baking kits and write a review of it. Obviously I jumped at the chance!

The Candy Crush Rainbow Cake Baking Kit really really impressed me. It contains all the dry ingredients you need to create a beautiful cake of 4 different coloured layers. All you need to provide is milk, eggs and butter. Apart from all the dry ingredients, the kit also comes with sprinkles, sweets and Candy Crush characters to decorate the cake with, which is a lovely touch. That’s not all though. It also comes with 4 disposable baking tins to bake the cakes in, baking paper circles to line the tins with, a cake board to display/serve the cake on, and a butter guide (which as I showed in THIS POST is amazingly accurate). There is a very easy to follow recipe card included too, and all of BakedIn’s recipes are pretty much foolproof. Literally anyone can make a wonderful looking and tasting cake with this kit.

I had a look on a large supermarket’s website at their own birthday cake range and decided to read some of the reviews of them. So many had very low star ratings and complaints (of which there were a lot) included “dry”, “tasteless”, “so bad not one person finished the cake”, “tasted artificial”, “terrible”, “heavy”, “won’t be buying again”, “revolting”, “inedible”,  “horrible aftertaste”…. hmmmm, it doesn’t make you want to rush out and buy a shop-bought cake for your child’s birthday, does it? Sometimes you just don’t have the money to get a cake made specially either. The Candy Crush Rainbow Cake is the perfect way to guarantee happy children on their birthdays. It costs just £14.95, but remember that includes equipment too! It serves 12 people comfortably with good sized portions.

So, how did I get on with making my Rainbow Cake? Well I wanted to show how easy it is for anyone to do it. I make lots of cakes so have lots of fancy bits and bobs to make cake decorating easier, but I decided I wasn’t going to use anything special to make this cake. I wanted to prove that, with no professional tools, it is easy to make a cake to be proud of and that your child will love. Grown ups will love it too! I made the 4 coloured sponges first, and then made the buttercream while the cakes were cooling. I followed the instructions on the recipe card to assemble the cake and used the back of a normal dinner knife to spread the buttercream on. Normally I would use a spatula and a scraper to make sure it is all perfectly smooth, but as I said, I wanted to show you can do it with just everyday items. You don’t need to buy any equipment at all to make a fabulous birthday cake. You can decorate the top however you want. the kit comes with a sheet of cardboard characters, and you just choose which ones you want to use, and attach them to baking skewers (included too).

You don’t need to use these if you don’t want to. You can just decorate with the sweets, or if your child has a favourite TV programme or something like My Little Pony, you could place some (sterile) models on top.

Here is my finished cake. I chose just a few of the characters and all of the sweets!

I loved the way it looked, and loved cutting into it even more to reveal the rainbow inside…

I can honestly say it tasted amazing! The sponges were light as air, and the buttercream was perfectly smooth. No graininess like you can sometimes get in buttercream. It all tasted homemade. There are no artificial flavourings or colourings in this cake, and you can tell! It had just the most delicious flavour, and was sweet but not sickly sweet like some shop-bought cakes can be. I can truthfully highly recommend this kit. No more excuses…. you CAN make your child’s birthday cake, and everyone will love it. Try it and see!

If you want to make one yourself to see how easy it is, you can buy them directly from BakedIn HERELet me know how you get on!

DISCLAIMER: I received the kit for free in exchange for an honest review. I only ever say the truth in my reviews anyway. False information doesn’t help anyone. I only recommend products and services I genuinely think are worth it, and BakedIn and the kit are both definitely worth it! I receive no compensation (apart from the free kit) for my review, and no commission if you buy the product. Thank you for reading. 

Carrot Flapjack Hearts Recipe…. Little Hearts of Happiness

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My previous blog post was one in which I made a scrumptious cinnamon sauce and a cream cheese icing, and I now make sure my bottles are permanently full of these as they are so so delicious. I was thinking about other bakes I could make that they would complement and thought they would be amazing drizzled over a carrot cake. When I checked my cupboards though I didn’t quite have enough of the ingredients I would need, and I didn’t fancy a trip to the shops. I did however have plenty of oats, so decided to have a go at making carrot flapjacks that would hopefully give me the carrot cake fix I was craving. Well They most certainly did! They taste just like chewy carrot cake! I posted a photo of them on Twitter and a lovely lady described them as “little hearts of happiness”. I loved that description so much I decided to use it in the title 🙂

As I mentioned in THIS SHORTBREAD RECIPE recently, I received a beautiful Heart Mini Bakes pan from The Little Cook Shop and I decided it would be perfect for these flapjacks. I’ll be honest, I used my own recipe for these and guessed how much of each ingredient to use as I went along, so I was over the moon when I had mixed it all together to find it was the exact amount needed for the pan! That was such a stroke of luck. Although if I’d known how popular they would be in my house I would have doubled the amounts and made 2 batches! I am making more tomorrow and that is what I shall be doing this time! My Other Half ate 2 as soon as he walked through the door from work, then another 2 not long later. In his words, “these are ridiculously moreish”. That made my day. I frequently get accused of being a “feeder”, and I know I’m guilty of that. I get so much pleasure from cooking or baking something and seeing it being greatly enjoyed. The batch of 12 was polished off within a few hours. Good result! They are chewy rather than crunchy as that is how I prefer flapjacks. If you prefer crunchy, use 1 tbsp less honey and bake a few minutes longer.

I was thinking these would be perfect for Easter too. You know how you leave a mince pie out for Santa, a tooth for the Tooth Fairy…. well I can guarantee the Easter Bunny would love to find a couple of these left out for him when he visits your home! He doesn’t want a plain old carrot as he knows you leave them out for Rudolph. He wants something different that tells him you love him. What better than a carrot flapjack heart? Trust me, he’ll thank you for it!


You could use any pan for these but the Heart Mini Bakes pan is just so perfect. You will find you’ll use it for so many bakes so it is well worth buying. It is available HERE and if you enter the code CONFARREO10 at the checkout you will receive a 10% discount! You can use that code across the whole site, not just on that pan, so it is worth having a look at what else you might like. Chocolate moulds, bakeware, cookware, bundt pans, cook books…. the list goes on.

I topped half of mine with the cinnamon sauce and cream cheese icing I had made previously, and half with just the cream cheese icing. You don’t need to top them with anything but they do make them extra special. here is the recipe:

CARROT FLAPJACK HEARTS

75g unsalted butter, plus a bit extra for greasing

60g light brown soft sugar

3 tbsp runny honey

Half tsp mixed spice

100g carrots (weight after being peeled). peeled and finely grated

25g seedless raisins

25g chopped walnuts

150g porridge/rolled oats

  • Preheat the oven to 180C or 160C fan. Melt the little extra bit of butter and use a pastry brush to grease the heart cavities of the pan.
  • Place the butter, sugar, honey and mixed spice into a medium sized saucepan and heat until the butter and sugar have melted, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove from the heat and add the carrots, raisins, and walnuts and mix well.
  • Add the oats and mix until completely combined and the ingredients are distributed fairly throughout.
  • Divide the mixture between the 12 heart cavities and press down firmly until level. I found it easier to use my (clean!) fingers for this part.
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  • Place the pan on to a baking sheet/tray and bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden. They should still feel a bit soft, and will have shrunk away from the sides slightly.
  • Leave in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove gently and place on to a wire cooling rack to cool.

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You can either eat them as they are, or to make them extra special make the toppings from THIS RECIPE and drizzle them over the flapjacks. If you can only make one topping, make it the cream cheese icing. It goes so perfectly with these. Let me know what you top yours with. Happy Baking!

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DISCLAIMER: I received the pan for free from The Little Cook Shop in exchange for recipes/review. They very kindly provided a discount code for my readers. I receive no commission from the use of the discount code and receive no compensation from the Little Cook Shop (apart from getting to keep the pan). All views and opinions are my own and I believe in honesty in all my posts. I only review products I absolutely love for companies who I feel offer amazing service, so you can trust any recommendations I make 🙂

Cinnamon Sauce and Cream Cheese Icing Recipes for Fluffy Pancake Toppings

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This time last year there was a huge amount of excitement in our house as we were just a couple of weeks away from flying out to Orlando to see Mickey Mouse and friends. Half of me was dreading it (I imagined it would be just like a jam-packed Alton Towers for 2 weeks) and the other half of me was excited for the Disney magic. I have to say now though it was absolutely fantastic! The people were so friendly and fun, the weather was just glorious, the whole atmosphere was laid back, and the magic was definitely there. I had been kind of dreading the food too. I’d imagined just fried chicken and burgers for 2 weeks. Isn’t it funny how wrong our preconceptions can be? Three particular meals will always be remembered as some of the best food I have ever eaten. A Mexican feast in a gorgeous restaurant called Chuy’s on International Drive. A delicious meal in a restaurant called The Plaza, in Magic Kingdom. And a humungous breakfast in Denny’s Diner on International Drive. For this breakfast I chose pancakes with egg, hash browns, bacon, sausage and I think there were beans too. Can’t quite remember that part so well.  It was all soooooo good but the best part by far was the pancakes. They arrived on a separate plate and they had a cinnamon sauce and cream cheese icing drizzled over them. (Cinnamon seems to be a very big thing in Orlando).

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You can’t tell from the picture but these beauties were enormous! Actually you can tell…. the plate they are on is a dinner plate! I can honestly say these were divine! The pancakes were super light and fluffy, and the sauce and icing were… it’s hard to find a word to describe how amazing these were. You know the extremely famous scene with Meg Ryan in the diner in “When Harry Met Sally”? Yes, THAT scene? Well I think she had just tried a mouthful of this dish when she filmed that! Enough said.

I have craved these pancakes ever since returning home but had no idea how to go about making them. Two days ago it was Pancake Day and I was determined to recreate the only pancakes I have thought about in the last year. It took a bit of trial and error to get the sauces right but I was deliriously happy to eventually sit at the table with a stack of fluffy pancakes and two squeezy bottles full of the 2 most delicious toppings in the world. And as I would feel selfish keeping these recipes to myself, I’m going to share them with you. These taste EXACTLY like the ones I had a year ago in Florida. I am so happy now I can enjoy them every day!!!

You can use your favourite recipe for fluffy pancakes if you already have one. I used THIS RECIPE and it made 5 good sized very light and perfectly fluffy pancakes. Some people use buttermilk but these were just perfect as they were. I actually made 2 batches so had 10 pancakes. They were just as good the next day warmed quickly in a dry frying pan. I should imagine you could warm them quickly in a microwave too in around 15 seconds. Or eat them cold! Here are the recipes for the sauces:


CINNAMON SAUCE

200 g granulated sugar

25 g plain flour

1 level tsp ground cinnamon

pinch of salt

140 ml water

30 g unsalted butter

  • Put all of the ingredients except the butter in a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring, until the sauce starts to bubble and thickens. Let it boil gently until it is the thickness you prefer. I boiled mine for around 5 minutes, still stirring it.
  • Take the sauce off the heat and add the butter. Stir until the butter has melted and is thoroughly combined.

 

This sauce is at its best served slightly warm or room temperature. It is perfect for pancakes, waffles, churros, or glazing cakes. It would make a delicious dipping sauce for fruit too.


CREAM CHEESE ICING

100g unsalted butter, at room temperature

50g cream cheese, at room temperature

2 tbsp milk

half tsp vanilla extract

220g icing sugar, sifted

pinch of salt

  • Using a handheld electric whisk/beater, mix together the butter and the cream cheese until combined.
  • Add the milk and vanilla extract and beat until creamy.
  • Finally add the icing sugar and salt and continue to beat until very smooth and any lumps have disappeared.

This icing is perfect for pancakes, waffles, to use as a dipping sauce, or drizzling over cakes. Leftover icing will need to be kept in the fridge and ideally used within a few days.


I had 2 squeezy bottles which I used to put mine in and they made it so easy to drizzle the sauce and the icing over my pancakes. They also make them very easy to store. Both of these recipes made enough to fill 1 and a half bottles of each, so if you don’t want that much, just halve the recipes. Although I am absolutely certain that when you try them both, especially together, you will be wanting a permanent supply of them!

As you can tell from the photo of the ones I made, I put quite a bit more sauce and icing on them than the ones I ate in Denny’s Diner. When you try them, you’ll understand why. I have no shame in saying I could even eat them on their own straight from the bottles!!! I hope you love them as much as I do. I’d love to hear what you use them for if you make them. Enjoy! 🙂

BakedIn Baking Club… Chocolate Honeycomb Cake

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I get so excited when the middle of each month comes round. I have 3 subscription boxes arrive then… one for craft, one for cake decorating, and one for baking. The baking one, as regular readers will by now know, is the utterly fabulous BakedIn Baking Club. Each month this subscription sends a box full of all the dry ingredients and little extras you will need to create a stunning recipe created exclusively for the Club by world renowned chef Michel Roux. February’s box was the most indulgent one I’ve received so far. Every month I am so impressed by the recipe provided, and the ingredients included are always top quality.

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You can see from the above picture how BakedIn think of every little thing you could possibly need to make the recipe yourself. All of the dry ingredients are provided already weighed out for you in numbered packages, so it is super-convenient and even easier to follow the recipe. Trust me, you’ll want to make the Baking Club recipes time and time again, and you can, as the recipe card lists everything that is in each package so you can buy it all yourself for the next time. It also lists any wet ingredients you will need, usually just butter, eggs and milk, things everyone has in their homes anyway. As you can see, you also get any baking paper needed to line tins and a skewer so you can test when your cake is done. Every month you also receive an extremely handy butter guide. This is so you can measure the butter needed without using scales if you don’t have any. It works with any standard 250g block of butter. I used it for this cake as it needed 200g of butter. Just to show how accurate it is I then weighed my butter. See how good it is for yourself…

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The recipe was incredibly easy to follow, as always, and a huge bonus with this month’s was getting to lick the bowl at the end! I could happily have eaten the cake batter raw it tasted so good! But the end result cake was just divine. So indulgent. Beautiful moist chocolate cake, with fluffy chocolate buttercream inside, chocolate ganache on top, and gorgeous crunchy honeycomb to add the finishing touch. Each month Michel Roux gives a tip on how to further enhance your bake, and this month he suggested crushing up the honeycomb and using it with a stencil to make a pretty design on top. I decided to use a peacock stencil (random I know) and decorated the top of the cake with that. I loved the effect the crushed honeycomb made. Overall I was massively impressed with this cake and will definitely be making it again. Luckily the recipe cards are wipe clean so can be kept in perfect condition forever!

The February box had an extra little gift inside to enjoy… a wonderful Chocolate and Mint tea temple from Teapigs. This was just beautiful. It was like drinking an After Eight mint! There was even a card with a discount code to use on the Teapigs website. I will definitely be taking advantage of that!

If you would like to try the Baking Club for yourself it costs just £7.99 per month which includes delivery. It comes in a box perfectly shaped to fit straight through your letterbox so you don’t have to wait in for it to arrive. BakedIn have an offer on at the moment though which lets you try the first box for just £4.99!

Click HERE to go to the BakedIn website and enter code TRY499 at the checkout, and you will receive your first box a few days later for the amazing price of £4.99.  Happy Baking!

2…4…6…Ate! Easy Shortbread Hearts, Baked with Love

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As many of you will know, my mother sadly passed away when I was still a child. It wasn’t just my mother that died that day, it was also a whole host of experiences that many people take for granted. I’d never get to tell her about my first boyfriend, or go wedding dress shopping with her, or hand a precious grandchild to her to hold for a while. Those things fill me with sadness, but strangely enough the one thing I never got chance to do but really wish I had was to bake something for her. When my son makes or bakes something for me, it fills my heart with so much joy and pride, and I wish I could have done that for her. The look of pure satisfaction and happiness on my son’s face as he watches my face light up… well that’s a look that will stay with me forever.

I always loved baking and loved making things at school in Home Economics, as it was then called. Those lessons taught me so much. How to make shortcrust pastry, how to make a Victoria sponge. The methods and quantities used always stick in my head. One thing I was taught which I remember well was shortbread. The easiest shortbread ever to remember. In those days (the 1980s) we measured ingredients in ounces not grams, and for shortbread my teacher used to write on the board “2-4-6-Ate”. Easiest ingredient quantities ever, right? It stood for 2 ounces of sugar, 4 of butter, 6 of flour, and that would make them good enough to eat. It is such a simple recipe, my 9 year old son knows it by heart too, and he makes scrumptious shortbread!

With Mother’s Day approaching I wanted to write a blog post of a recipe that would be easy enough for children to make, with supervision, to give to their Mums as a gorgeous little gift. Baked with love. A wonderful cookware and bakeware shop called The Little Cook Shop very kindly sent me a beautiful Eddingtons loose-based mini heart pan to try, and I decided this would be perfect for this recipe.

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The pan has 12 small heart-shaped cavities, and each has a removable base so you can get your bakes out so much easier. Push up from underneath and your bake just pops out. It is also non-stick for extra easiness. There is a scrumptious looking recipe on the back of the box to make strawberry and chocolate cheesecakes with this pan. I shall definitely be trying those at some point!!! This pan costs £9.99 and is well worth it at that price as the quality is fantastic. However, The Little Cook Shop have given me a code to pass on to you so you can have 10% off any order, making this pan just £8.99! I can’t recommend it highly enough. I will be using mine A LOT! It will be perfect for savoury bakes such as quiches as well as so many sweet bakes. Have a look around their website and enter the code CONFARREO10 at the checkout to redeem the discount offer. You can use it on anything you order, not just this pan.

Back to the recipe. I normally only really use unsalted butter in my baking, but I was taught that shortbread is best when made with salted butter. It also is best made with butter that is slightly softened but still cold. Too warm and it affects the texture. Too cold and it’s hard to mix in properly. This is where a fairly new butter in the shops is just perfect.

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The Softer Butter Co. has produced a delicious butter that tastes exactly as you’d expect from a quality 100% natural butter, but it has one big difference. It is, as the name suggests, softer! No need to leave this one out of the fridge for a while to soften up, it is the perfect softness straight from the fridge. If you want to try it yourself, you can find it in Morrisons and in some Tesco stores. It is perfect for this recipe as it is softer but still cold.

EASIEST SHORTBREAD EVER 2-4-6-ATE!

2 ounces of caster sugar

4 ounces of salted butter slightly softened, or the Softer Butter Co straight from the fridge

6 ounces of plain flour, sieved

a knob of butter, melted for greasing

extra caster sugar for sprinkling on after baking (optional)

  • Use a pastry brush to grease the heart cavities with melted butter.
  • Cream together the sugar and the butter, until pale and fluffy. You can do this with a wooden spoon or an electric hand whisk. Obviously the electric whisk is quicker, but children love mixing with spoons.
  • Tip the flour into the butter mixture, and use a wooden spoon to mix well until you have a fairly stiff paste/dough and everything is combined thoroughly.
  • Use your hands to gently press the mixture together and then divide into 12 equal sized balls, about the size of walnuts.
  • Place one ball into each greased heart cavity, and use your fingers to press them down until they fill the bottom of the cavities and are level. Use a fork to prick them all over, making sure you don’t go all the way through them.
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  • Place the pan with the uncooked dough into the fridge. While it is chilling, turn your oven on to 170C or 150C if using a fan oven.
  • When the oven has reached the temperature, place the pan on to the middle shelf and bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the shortbread with caster sugar, if using. Leave in the pan for 5-10 minutes.
  • Using a clean tea towel to protect your finger from getting burnt, push up each heart shortbread from underneath, and place them on a wire rack to cool completely. They will pop up so perfectly and cleanly.
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You can keep them plain like this, and they will be delicious served with a cup of tea. They are perfectly crumbly and melt in the mouth.

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Or you can decorate them by dipping half in melted chocolate or icing, and sprinkling decorations on. I love the different ways you can present them so I decorated 4 with melted white chocolate and dried rose petals, 4 with melted ginger dark chocolate and chopped hazelnuts, and 4 with icing and sprinkles.

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Beech’s Fine Chocolates make 60g bars of various flavours of the most delicious chocolate, and I used their bars for the melted chocolate decoration on these hearts. Their chocolate tastes so luxurious and smooth. The white chocolate was so creamy and the ginger dark chocolate had a beautiful gentle warmth. Of course, you can use any chocolate, but these bars make the shortbread so indulgent. Melt the chocolate either in a microwave (being very careful not to burn it) or in a heatproof bowl placed over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water. Dip each heart into the chocolate and then place back on the wire rack. Sprinkle with whatever decorations you fancy.

If using icing, mix a few drops of water into 2 ounces of icing sugar, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, but runny enough to dip. Dip the shortbread into the icing and return to the wire rack. Decorate with sprinkles. I used the stunning Unicorn Sprinkletti available from Scrumptious Sprinkles. The colours in this are so feminine and magical, and the shapes are so pretty.

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My son said you could decorate them to show what you think of your mother. You love her so you make them heart shaped with this beautiful pan. Then if you think she’s pretty, you decorate with sprinkles or flowers. If she’s daft and nutty, you use chopped nuts. I asked him how he would decorate mine and he said with plenty of nuts! Charming!

I hope you enjoy baking these oh so easy treats. And if your children will be making them for Mother’s Day I’m sure there’ll be some very happy mums.

Don’t forget, if you head over to The Little Cook Shop you can buy anything you want and get a 10% discount if you use the code CONFARREO10 at the checkout. You could even pick up some presents for Mother’s Day there! If you particularly want to buy this gorgeous mini heart pan click HERE to go directly to it. Happy shopping and happy baking!

Queen of Hearts Cocktail… The Perfect Drink for Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day is almost upon us and with it, many people will be planning a romantic evening for their loved ones. What better way to start the celebrations than with a beautiful cocktail?

I have to confess, I really love cocktails! The different flavours all blended to perfection to make an even better flavour, the colours, the glassware…. I just love them! They are the perfect way to enhance any celebration. In fact I enjoy them so much I even bought a cocktail shaker set to make them properly! You don’t need one of those though. Any container with a tight fitting lid will do the job just fine. Thermos flask, large screw-top jar… the list is endless.

When I think of cocktails, I think of alcohol, fruit juices and Monin syrups. Monin is recognised by many as the market leader in flavoured syrups and has won several international quality awards. Their syrups are used in the hospitality industry, both in cocktails and in hot beverages such as coffee. I personally use them in cocktails, coffee, hot chocolate, and baking, and they never fail to impress me with their flavours.

I was recently sent an email telling me about a romantic cocktail created using 2 of their syrups. Obviously I had to try it and all I can say is WOW! Allow me to introduce you to the Queen of Hearts. She is a thing of beauty. Fruity, sweet, delicate but powerful, and with a warming aftertaste which lingers after the last sip has been taken.

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The Queen of Hearts contains Monin Grenadine syrup, which is a beautiful combination of slightly tart red berries and a hint of a vanilla. This syrup is widely known for its use in a Tequila Sunrise. It has a rich red colour which is perfect for romantic cocktails, with red traditionally being the colour of love and passion. The Queen of Hearts also contains Monin Vanilla syrup, with its warm and comforting properties. The alcohol content in this cocktail comes from white rum. There are many brands to buy but I used Bacardi. It is my rum of choice for drinks where a white rum is needed. So how do you make one? I’ll tell you.

THE QUEEN OF HEARTS COCKTAIL

Fill a cocktail shaker (or any container with a tight fitting lid) with ice. Add 20ml Monin Grenadine syrup, 20ml Monin Vanilla syrup, 40ml of light/white rum, and 60ml of orange juice. Shake well, and strain the liquid into a cocktail glass.

You can serve it like that, but if you want to add a touch of romance, I think cocktail glasses look better rimmed with sugar. You need to do this BEFORE you pour the liquid in to it! Just pour some water on to a plate and place the glass upside down on to the plate. Sprinkle some caster sugar on to another plate and press the glass rim on to the sugar. It will stick perfectly, giving a lovely frosty look. To go one stage further, garnish with a strawberry heart. This is a really simple but oh so pretty garnish. Just slice a strawberry from top to bottom, and you will have a slice which is very similar to a heart shape. You can trim it slightly to make it look even more like a heart. Cut a small slit diagonally upwards near the bottom. Dip into the leftover caster sugar from the glass dipping to coat both sides, then position on to the edge of the glass using the slit you cut. I’m sure you’ll agree that looks so pretty and just says romance!

Monin Grenadine syrup is available in the spirits aisle in Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, priced at £2.99 for 250ml.

Monin Vanilla syrup is available in the hot beverages aisle in Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Ocado, at the same price.

If, like me, you plan on making lots of cocktails, I would recommend buying bigger bottles from UDAL SUPPLIES. This company stocks a massive range of Monin syrups at amazing prices and it is much more economical to buy larger bottles. (This is where I bought mine from too). Delivery is 1-2 days and your bottles arrive packed so securely there is no chance of any breakages. Their customer service is friendly and efficient. Perfect.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

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DISCLAIMER: Monin sent me details of how to make the cocktail (apart from the garnish) but I bought the ingredients myself. I received no compensation in any form for writing this post. Udal Supplies also provided no compensation. I am just happy to recommend good products and services. All views and opinions are my own. 

How to Make Beautiful Coasters from Tiles and Paper Napkins

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A good friend of mine organises a Craft Fayre every Christmas and makes a lot of gorgeous items herself for it. A few years ago she started making these coasters and I was knocked out by how easy it was to get such a lovely result! She used any pretty napkins but I absolutely love designers such as Emma Bridgewater and Cath Kidston, so I decided to only use designer napkins. I became a bit addicted to making them and lots of people asked to buy them. I gave sets of 4 to people as gifts, and love going to their houses and seeing them on tables and tops of cabinets, still in use and looking like new.

They really are simple to make, and with Mother’s Day coming up soon, why not surprise your own Mother with a practical gift made with love by you? Chocolates get eaten within a few days, flowers fade and die, so how about this year making and giving a gift that will last? I’ll include photos of every step of the process so you know you’re doing it correctly, but I’m sure you’ll have no problems anyway.

To make a set of 4 coasters you will need 4 plain white tiles measuring 100mm x 100mm. You can buy a box of basic tiles from large DIY stores such as Homebase or B&Q. (I buy mine from B&Q at £5.50 for a box of 25). You will need 1 paper napkin of your choice measuring around 30cm. All the ones I ever use are 33cm square, and 3 ply (made from 3 layers of paper).

Here’s how to make them:

YOU WILL NEED

4 ceramic tiles measuring 100mm x 100mm (10cm x 10cm)

1 paper napkin (see note above)

Felt material of a co-ordinating colour to the napkin design (20cm x 20cm)

Polyurethane Gloss Varnish (I use DecoArt Duraclear Gloss Varnish from Hobbycraft)

PVA glue

Double sided sticky tape

A co-ordinating ribbon for presentation

A paintbrush (art/craft type, not house decorating sized!)

Scissors

A pot for the glue

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Mix PVA glue with an equal amount of water in a small pot. This will be used to stick the napkin on to the tile.
  • Open out your paper napkin and cut along the fold lines so you have 4 equal squares.

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  • Very carefully, peel away the top layer of paper from each square. This is the piece you need for the coaster as it has the design on it. If you stick all 3 layers on, you will get bubbles and it won’t look as pretty. Keep the other layers to use later on.

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  • Take one tile and completely cover it with the PVA mixture using the paintbrush. Make sure you cover the edges too.

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  • Take one of the top layer squares you gently saved, and position it on top of the tile so you have the best part of the design on display. Make sure there is enough around the edges to fold underneath in the next step.

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  • Scrunch some of the plain layers of napkin (the bottom layers) into a loose ball and very gently dab the napkin on to the tile. You will get creases, but that adds to the overall look so please don’t try and straighten them out. If you try and move the napkin at this point, it will rip. When the napkin is in place, carefully pick the tile up and turn it over. Brush more PVA glue on the bottom of the tile and fold the edges of the napkin on to the glue. You can either dab the edges down with the scrunched up layers, or use your paintbrush to smooth them down. I use my brush for this stage. Make sure there are no air bubbles on the sides of the coaster. If there are, very gently smooth them down with your brush.

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  • Leave on a plastic bag or similar covering to dry. When the top is dry, turn it over so the bottom completely dries too. Repeat all the above steps for the other 3 coasters.
  • When they are completely dry, coat the top and sides with the varnish. It brushes on easily, has no nasty odour, and is non-yellowing, which makes it the best for your coasters. I brush on 3 coats, allowing each to dry in between coats. You can brush on as many as you want to get the sheen you want.
  • Leave the coasters to dry overnight.

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  • Cut the felt into 4 squares, just slightly smaller than your tiles.
  • Place strips of double sided tape on the backs of the coasters.

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  • Peel the backing off the tape and position one square of felt on each. Press down firmly. And that is the coasters complete!

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  • To present them as a gift, stack the 4 coasters on top of each other and tie a ribbon around them.

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And there you have a wonderful gift to give for any occasion. My son has given his past teachers a set at the end of the school year as a thank you gift. I’ve given sets as housewarming presents and as a gift for my Mother-in-Law for Mother’s Day. I have a lovely friend who adores Emma Bridgewater designs, so I made a set for her just for being such a wonderful friend!

The felt on the back protects your surfaces from scratches from the roughness of the underside of the tiles. You can use cork sheets if you prefer but I like the way you can use matching colours of felt. The polyurethane varnish will protect the coaster from drips, and is easy to clean with a damp cloth.

I hope you enjoy making these. I’d love to hear how you get on and who you give them to! Happy Crafting!