The 3 P’s… ‘Perfectly Packaged Pretties’!

Big hello one and all!

A perfectly packaged pretty!

Today’s blog post is going to be about the 3 P’s… ‘Perfectly Packaged Pretties’!  Yes, that’s right folks, I could talk for hours about how anything looks better when a little bit of love and attention has gone into the packaging!  And the good news is that you don’t need a degree in creativity to be able to do this stuff yourself… just a tag, some ribbon, perhaps a cellophane bag, maybe a box… even a brown paper bag and twine will create just the right amount of rustic charm it’ll make the recipient think you’ve been up all night creating it!

You don’t have to be the best baker in town either, you just need to know how to make things look good!  Yes, it’s lovely to bake and make your own treats and if you’re able to, then sure, go ahead and make whatever you fancy.  But if you’re short on time, or you just don’t fancy baking and making, then don’t despair… you can make shop bought stuff look fantastic with just a few bits and bobs and a little bit of love :-)

Last month I went to my friend Holly’s baby shower, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share with you some fun sweet treat ideas that you don’t have to make yourself and that work brilliantly for baby showers, parties, weddings, you name it – any occasion.

As we’re now in the colder months, I thought that ‘Hot Chocolate Cones’ would be a lovely favour idea, and decided that the perfect accompaniment needed was a cookie or biscuity type item… I decided on ‘Mini Shortcakes’ which I got from the bakery section of Tesco.  Next up was some toffee popcorn which I aptly named ‘Ready to POP Popcorn’ and also some ‘Coconut Snowball Bites’ which finished off the selection of treats.

Yummy hot chocolate cones

The ‘Hot Chocolate Cones’ are such a cute idea for any wintery event and budget friendly too.  All you need is a cellophane cone bag, a tag and ribbon, and whatever you want to put inside… obviously hot chocolate ;-) and then I chose to use milk and white chocolate chips and mini marshmallows, yum!  Just layer them into the bag, tie with the ribbon and tag, et voila… a ‘Perfectly Packaged Pretty’!

Pretties!

Next up was the ‘Mini Shortcakes’, which I also popped into cellophane bags.  I chose to use three shortcakes in each bag but you could do two if you wanted to make them go further.  Again, I tied with ribbon and a tag, which transformed them into something special with hardly any effort at all.

Cute popcorn pots

The popcorn was piled into cute baking cups and then finished with a ‘Cupcake Topper’, which as the name suggests is normally used as decoration for cupcakes, but as you can see from the pics, they make a perfect addition to the cute pots of popcorn and is super simple and easy to do.

Ready to ‘POP’!

I love using different items, food and packaging, to create something a little bit different which not only looks fab but will also delight your guests. So yes, I like to think it’s my mission to get everyone packaging up their pretties!  Whether it’s your wedding or your little ones birthday party, no occasion is too small to go crazy with some ribbon… you want to be the hostess with the mostess after all, and nothing says it more than sending your guests home with not only a treat, but one that is presented with love too.

Have a fab week guys… and get packaging some pretties, hehe!

Love, Little Gems xx

** Hot chocolate cone kits, cellophane bags, tags etc, all available in the shop **  See link here… https://www.etsy.com/shop/LittleGemsCS

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Weekend Baking – ‘Chelsea Buns’

Big hello!

It’s another food treat this Friday, this time in the form of buns!  And with it looking likely to be a wet weather weekend, this could well be your indoor activity of choice.

Nice buns :-)

On the other hand, hard manual labour might be on the agenda for you, and I feel your pain!  Hubby and I will be doing stuff on the house build… I’m just praying it won’t involve lugging wheelbarrows of concrete around site, as per the weekend before last… that was seriously hard work!

When he left for work this morning, he gave me strict instructions to get some Chelsea Buns for our ‘builders’ tea breaks tomorrow.  He doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, but he does like a bun, oh-er!  Like a good girl, I headed to the bakery aisle this morning, but the only thing on offer was some rather crusty looking buns which looked like they’d spent just a tad too long in the oven.  So, I thought to myself, let’s earn me some brownie points and really give him a treat, I’ll make him some :-)

Once home, I whipped out my Paul Hollywood book which I knew would have a recipe for a bun of some sort.  I found his ‘Christmas Buns’ recipe which is practically a Chelsea Bun but with added cranberries, so thought this would be perfect.  I’m not sure what the copyright law is for typing up a recipe from a book and putting it online, so to save me being locked up by the baking police, I’ve found a virtually identical recipe on the BBC website.  It’s probably by him anyway, although there’s a few differences, which I’ve noted below:

  • The online recipe uses 7g yeast instead of 10g as in the book.
  • Paul Hollywood says not to ‘knock back’ the dough before rolling it out.  But as this recipe says to do that stage, so I doubt it really matters whether you do or not!
  • The online recipe says to cut into 10, his recipe says to cut into 9… and I cut mine into 12 as they were going to be seriously huge otherwise and whilst I do love eating my wares, I don’t want them to double my size!
  • The online recipe uses a milk and sugar mix for the glaze, whereas Paul Hollywood uses sieved apricot jam to glaze when they’re straight from the oven, then once cool he drizzles them with a lemon glace icing.  I didn’t have any apricot jam, so I made a glaze with marmalade and a touch of boiling water, then sieved to get rid of the shreds.  I then opted for the lemon glace icing, so together with the marmalade, it gave a lovely citrus punch!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/chelsea_buns_95015

Getting prepped

Mixing the dough

Always a relief when the dough rises!

Ready for the oven…

Done in the oven, glazed and iced

As with any dough based recipe, it is more time consuming than something like a sponge cake, because of the need to let it rise, which can be between 1-3 hours.  But if you plan ahead and get organised, then making a recipe like this at the weekend is such good fun and a lovely thing to do with little ones.  The bonus of course, is that after your hard work, you are rewarded with something totally yummy to eat and all by your own doing!

What a treat :-)

So, let’s hope hubby is pleased with my efforts and we can enjoy our buns after some hard graft tomorrow.  Mind you, with the rain hammering it down today and more due, I’m wondering whether we might be scoffing them indoors.

Have a lovely weekend everyone and happy baking!

Love, Little Gems xx

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Bonfire Fun – ‘Toffee Apple Pops’

Happy Friday everyone!

This weeks blog post was going to be about baby shower ideas, but with loads of bonfire parties happening this weekend, I thought I would share some cute treats I’ve just made for my neighbour who has kindly invited us round for some firework fun this evening.

I wanted to make toffee apples, but with not enough apples to make for everyone, I went on the hunt for a similar alternative.  On my internet travels, I stumbled upon the perfect recipe… ‘Toffee Apple Pops’!  Just like toffee apples, but way cuter and you don’t need as many apples, genius!

Finished result

The recipe came from www.bbcgoodfood.com which is my ‘go to’ website for all things recipe related.  I can always find something that’s yummy, and their photos make everything look amazing, so it’s nice to look at too.

Find the recipe here… http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/toffee-apple-pops

I pretty much followed the recipe, apart from the white wine vinegar as I didn’t have any… oh and the cream, I used crème fraiche instead as I had a pot open in the fridge but if I was buying everything then I would get cream as per the recipe.

They’re really simple to do and will look like you’ve spent ages in the kitchen!  No baking/cooking apart from heating the sugar mixture to make the toffee, but other than that it was pretty straight forward.  I would loved to have had my niece Ruby Rose here to make them with me as they are perfect for kiddie kitchen fun, just watch them around the toffee when it’s hot though.

Getting prepared

For the sticks, I used 150mm wooden skewers which are shorter than a standard kebab skewer.  If you only have normal kebab skewers then just cut them down, or you can use wooden lolly sticks, or white lolly sticks like they have in the recipe.

Apples ready

I also opted for half of mine sprinkled with chopped hazelnuts and half with melted plain chocolate which worked really well.

Sprinkle and drizzle

Warning… they are very sweet!  But I think that was mostly because I made them with apples that were already really sweet, so you could potentially look at using something slightly more sour, perhaps a Granny Smith.

Is your mouth watering at these cute ‘Toffee Apple Pops’ yet!  Go on, go and use those old apples lying about and turn them into these cute bonfire goodies!  :-)

Have a fab weekend everyone and enjoy the fireworks!

Love, Little Gems xx

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