There are quite a few companies who can be relied upon to consistently produce excellent kitchenalia but, of them all, Fred & Friends is my absolute favourite.
I cannot remember the first item I purchased from the American company’s range but it may have been one of the amazing sets of cookie cutters. Since then, I have accumulated lots of their sets including the fantastic gingerbread men cutters which look as if bites have been taken out of them. They are brilliant for Hallowe’en spooky skeletons with heads, arms or legs missing.
Keen-eyed friends have noticed my penchant for Fred and I have been bought some of what are now my favourite items as birthday presents. Noticing that I had one of the Russian doll range – the wonderful American measures set – one of my best buds bought me the matching kitchen timer.
She also got me these gems – little teacup cake cases. Each comes with its own plate and they have an amazing impact when you present homemade buns in them.
I happened upon a new snowman cupcake case last week while browsing in Paperchase, which quite often stocks a lot of F&F products. It was, despite the £14 price tag, a must-purchase for me in December.
Each is like three cupcakes in one, and in my enthusiasm when first using them, I overfilled the cases. Ah well, these things happen! The four year-old and I trimmed away the damage (and ate it), drizzled over copious amounts of white icing, added a few currants and boosh, her afternoon was made.
She does love cake, but she was particularly taken with the fun of these. And we even made a chocolate sprinkle snowman. She didn’t get to taste it, however – her Dad arrived home and, in a nanosecond, it was gone.
Every year I like to give our close neighbours something festive and sweet along with their Christmas cards. We’re lucky that we have such good friends living so close, and a number of them have helped us out innumerable times. Lovely Alan next door brings our bin in every week of the year.
And I like to vary this mini treat to prevent any boredom, both for them and me! One thing I have seen appearing more in the UK this year is peppermint bark, a combination of chocolate and candy canes. Given that we had more than a few hanging unloved on the tree and that I had very little time to prepare anything, I opted for some straightforward melting, crushing and crumbling.
I always prefer to use what you have in front of you if possible, and I was looking at about a quarter of the quantity of white chocolate compared to dark. So it would have to be mainly dark choc with some simple white swirls.
Having recently used my Lakeland gingerbread moulds, I realised that their wall moulds would be perfect peppermint bark bar size, and so filled each (supported underneath by a baking sheet) with the melted dark chocolate – about 300g. Then, before it cooled, I melted and drizzled over the white chocolate, swirling it around with a cocktail stick to make it a little more artistic – a very fun process!
A bit of a walloping with the rolling pin and the candy canes were ready for sprinkling on top before the whole thing went into the fridge.
The mould had worked a treat, and each bar was unbelievably easy to remove. They would have worked as whole bars for bigger gifts but I got busy with the rolling pin again to turn each into shards for each of the neighbours’ individual boxes – which of course meant that the Other Half and I got to have a little sample, just to be sure, you understand 🙂
I can’t speak for the neighbours, but we loved it. It was very hard to have to give it all away!