Archive for the ‘Novel Nibbles’ Category

Bookish Brits: The Book Cake Tag

Daphne, Faye, Debbie and I had a fantastic pre Christmas catch up over tea and cake. While we were there we filmed the Book Cake Tag. The tag originally created by SuddenlyLorna (view her video here) consists of seven cake related book topics:

1) Flour – A book that was a little bit slow to start off but that really picked up as it went along.
2) Butter – A book that had a really rich and great plot.
3) Eggs – A book that you thought was going to be bad but actually turned out quite enjoyable.
4) Sugar – A sugary/sweet book.
5) Icing – A book that covered every single element that you enjoy about a book (funny moments, action moments, sad moments, etc.).
6) Sprinkles – A book series that you can kind of turn to for a little pick me up when you’re feeling down.
7) The cherry on top – Your favorite book this year so far.

Posted by Caroline.

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Novel Nibbles: What-Happy-Looks-Like Pies

happy cover artIf fate sent you an email, would you answer?
In This is What Happy Looks Like, Jennifer E. Smith’s new YA novel, perfect strangers Graham Larkin and Ellie O’Neill meet—albeit virtually—when Graham accidentally sends Ellie an email about his pet pig, Wilbur. In the tradition of romantic movies like “You’ve Got Mail” and “Sleepless in Seattle,” the two 17-year-olds strike up an email relationship, even though they live on opposite sides of the country and don’t even know each other’s first names.
Through a series of funny and poignant messages, Graham and Ellie make a true connection, sharing intimate details about their lives, hopes and fears. But they don’t tell each other everything; Graham doesn’t know the major secret hidden in Ellie’s family tree, and Ellie is innocently unaware that Graham is actually a world-famous teen actor living in Los Angeles.
When the location for the shoot of Graham’s new film falls through, he sees an opportunity to take their relationship from online to in-person, managing to get the production relocated to picturesque Henley, Maine, where Ellie lives. But can a star as famous as Graham have a real relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie’s mom want her to avoid the media’s spotlight at all costs?

I loved Jennifer E. Smith’s This is What Happy looks like (read my review here). In the process of fulfilling my craving for the perfect romantic summer read, Smith created a equally demanding craving for the frosting filled, cake/cookie goodness of Whoopie Pies.

The quest for these sweet treats (the official state treat of Maine), provide an interesting background to the developing relationship between Ellie and Graham.

Ellie gave him a sideways glance. “We’re on a quest”, she said, as if it were obvious.
“A quest,”he repeated.”I like that.”
“Like Dorothy trying to find her way home again.”
“Or Ahab looking for the white Whale.”
“Exactly”, she said. “Only we’re on the hunt for Whoopie pies.”
“Aha,” Graham said, looking pleased. “So you’re a believer now.”
She shook her head.”I’m still skeptical. But if there’s anywhere that would have them, it would be this place.”

To satisfy my Whoopie craving I visited the BBC Food pages and followed this simple Chocolate Whoopie Pie recipe by Simon Rimmer (click here to be taken to the recipe).










The pies were absolutely delicious. I loved Rimmers use of marshmallows in exchange for a more complicated frosting recipe. I will definitely use this recipe again.

Baked and taste tested by Caroline

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Novel Nibbles: Defiance Sticky Buns

Rachel’s world is confined to the protective walls around her city. Beyond them are violent wanderers, extreme terrain, and a danger straight out of legend: a beast called the Cursed One that devastates everything in its path.
When Rachel’s father goes missing, she is desperate to search for him. But her attempts to flee the city bring her to the attention of its overbearing ruler. His efforts to control her make the world within the walls seem as dangerous as that outside.
Her only chance at escape is Logan. Once her father’s apprentice, and now her only protector, he feels that helping her might mean losing her completely. But if he can put his feelings aside, they might be able to save more than Rachel’s father. They might be able to break down the walls, and set their people free.

Last year we had the honour of hosting an interview (read it here) with debut author C J Redwine .
C J shared the personal food memory and the significance of the sticky buns featured in Defiance.
“I was really close to my grandfather on my mother’s side. I had a very rough childhood, but he was my rock. He showed me what quiet, unconditional love looked like, and I based Oliver on him. He always baked for us, and one of his favourite treats to make was sticky buns! They’re like yeasty rolls with cinnamon and raisins inside and then they’re drizzled in a sticky maple-cinnamon syrup after they come out of the oven. I don’t have his recipe, he died before I could get it, but I wanted to honor what he meant to me by putting him in a book”.

I thought that I would pass the time waiting for the release of Deception (Defiance 2), by attempting to recreate the buns!

The Buns
100mls/1/2 Cup of Warm Milk
2 tsp of dried yeast
50g/1/4 Cup of Caster Sugar
350g/2 1/2 Cups of Strong Plain White Flour, sifted
Pinch of Salt
1/2 tsp of Ground Cinnamon
150g/ 1 Cup of Raisins
25g/ 3TBS Butter, melted and cooled until tepid
1 Medium Egg
Oil/ Oil spray to grease
Mix together the yeast with 1 tsp of caster sugar and 1 TBP of Warm milk to create a paste. Add the paste to the remaining warm milk ad set aside for a few minutes to allow the yeast to activate.



Put 226g/1 1/2 Cups of flour in to a large bowl. create a well in the centre of the flour and add the warm milk/yeast milk. Cover and place leave in a warm place to “sponge”



Mix the remaining flour, sugar, cinnamon and raisins. Add to the yeast mixture along with the melted butter and egg.


Mix to form a soft dough. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and allow leave in a warm place for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.



Knock back and kneed for a couple of minutes before dividing the dough and shaping in to buns.



Place on a greased baking sheet being sure to space the buns well away from each other. Cover and allow to rise for a further 30 minutes.



Brush with milk and place in a preheated oven (200c/390f) and bake until buns sound hollow when tapped on the bottom ( approx. 15-20 minutes).


The Glaze

150g/ 1 Cup of Icing/confectioners Sugar
1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamaon
I TBS Butter
60ml/ 1/4 Cup of Maple Syrup
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Melt the butter and combine with remaining ingredients. Drizzle over slight warm buns



Post by Caroline

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Novel Nibbles: Amma’s Coca Cola Cake

There were no surprises in Gatlin County.
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.
At least, that’s what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.
Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.
Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.
In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Set in the south, The Beautiful Creatures series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, contains so many saliva inducing food references; Fried chicken, Grits, Biscuits and Buttermilk Pie *stomach rumbles*. It certainly wouldn’t be a hardship to dedicate a whole series of Novel Nibbles posts to the culinary offerings of Amma, the Wate family’s no-nonsense, housekeeper.

Of all of the recipes featured in the Beautiful Creatures books, the one that inspired me the most is Coca Cola Cake. I know, I KNOW, more baking! In my defence, I am pretty sure I warned you that these posts would be an excuse to indulge my sweet tooth!

A quick search online uncovered author Kami Garcia’s recipe for Coca Cola Cake. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, have literally been baking Amma’s cake!

The original recipe can be found here at Beautiful Creatures fan site, Caster Girls &Boys

As before this American recipe has been “translated” for our european readers.

The Ingredients
The Cake

240g of Plain Flour
400g of Caster/Granulated Sugar (yep you read that right!)
1 sp Bicarbonate of Soda
250mls Coca Cola
230g of Unsalted Butter
3 TBS Coco Powder
125mls of Butter Milk ( or 125mls of milk soured with 2TBS of lemon juice or white wine vinegar)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract ( use to good stuff people)
2 eggs
75g ( two large handfuls) of Mini Marshmallows

The Icing
120g Unsalted Butter
3 TBS of Coco Powder
6 TBS of Coca cola
1tsp Vanilla Extract
450g Icing Sugar
A Large handful of chopped Pecans (excluded in our recipe due to Pruedence’s allergy)

Pre heat the oven to a rather cool 160C.

The original recipe suggests you cook the cake for 30 mins however in practice we found that the cake actually needed 50mins!

I would usually provide you with a step by step photo storyboard of the cooking process. However there is no way that I could demonstrate this recipe better than Kami Garcia herself.

Here is mine and, my able assistant, Prudence’s attempt!

The final tray bake was very large, rich and sweet and only a small serving was required to sate my sweet tooth.
The texture was heavier than a sponge cake, somewhere between a devils food cake and a pudding.
I think that it would make a great dessert, served warm out of the oven with ice-cream. Due to it’s size and the novelty of using coca cola, it would also make an interesting addition to a bake sale.

Post by Caroline

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Novel Nibbles: Trunchbull’s Chocolate Cake

“I’ll tell you what I’m talking about, you suppurating little blister!” the Trunchbull shouted. “Yesterday morning, during break, you sneaked like a serpent into the kitchen and stole a slice of my private chocolate cake from my tea-tray! That tray had been prepared for me personally by the cook! It was my morning snack! And as for the cake! it was my own private stock! That was not boy’s cake! You don’t think for one minute I’m going to eat the filth I give to you? That cake was made from real butter and cream! And he, that robber-bandit, that safe-cracker, that highwayman standing over there with his socks around his ankles stole it and ate it!” Matilda, Roald Dahl

This weeks Novel Nibbles post is very dear to me. Not only is it inspired by my favourite childhood book, it is also a tribute to my earliest book inspired food memory. Even as an adult I delight in Bruce Bogtrotter getting one over on tyrannical Trunchbull and using a delicious chocolate cake no less!

What is not there to love about chocolate cake?!

My personal favourite is Devil’s Food Cake and my favourite recipe comes from my much loved copy of the Good Housekeeping’s Cookery Book: The Cook’s Classic Companion.


…or the quick way!



Lemon juice or white vinegar to sour the milk


Check out the wooden spoon. No mixers here!


Measuring out my dry ingredients


Nearly time to lick the bowl!


Impatiently waiting for the cakes to cool.


Adding chocolate frosting to the first of four layers!


Can you pull a Bogtrotter and eat the whole thing?


I’ll give it a go!


Post by Caroline

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Novel Nibbles: Candor Truth Serum

“I don’t think that I could have made it through Candor initiation, though.”She Shakes her head. “There, instead of simulations, you get lie detector tests. All day, every day. And the final test…” She wrinkles her nose. “They give you this stuff they call truth serum and sit you in front of everyone and ask you a load of really personal questions. The Theory is that if you spill all your secrets, you’ll have no desire to lie about anything, ever again. Like the worst about you is already in the open, so why not just be honest?” Divergent, Veronica Roth

Nothing has the ability to loosen the tongue, not to mention inhibitions, and dislodge a few secrets like a dose or two of Candor Black and White Truth Serum.

Warning: High consumption of truth serum has been know to lead to dauntless like behaviour. In the spirit of the Candor emblem we request that you partake in the serums in moderation.

The Truth
The Shooter
In to a shot glass pour:
2/3 of a Measure of Tia Maria.
Carefully place a teaspoon in to the glass so that the edge is just touching the Tia Maria and the back of the spoon is upper most.
Carefully pour the Baileys in to the glass over the back of the spoon.

The Whole Truth
The sophisticated one!
In to a cocktail shaker add:
1 espresso or 1expresso sized measure of strong coffee,
1x measure of Tia Maria,
1x measure of Vodka.
Shake well and strain in to a Martini glass.
Using the back of a spoon float double cream on top of the coffee mixture.
Finish with a light grating of plain chocolate.

Nothing But The Truth
The long one
In to a blender place:
3x Oreo cookies(broken)
2x Scoops of good quality vanilla ice cream
1x measure of Tia Maria
1x measure of Vodka
2x measure of Baileys
3x espresso cups of Milk
Blend until smooth.
Serve in a tall glass with a straw

While it is unlikely that you will have an overwhelming desire to spill all of your deepest darkest secrets, these little beauties will certainly keep your taste buds busy!

Iced Coffee with Vanilla Ice cream
Take a cup of strong freshly brewed coffee, place in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well.
Strain the now chilled coffee in to a latte glass over fresh ice.
Add a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Allowing the ice cream to melt creates a yummy creamy iced vanilla latte.

A Coke FloatFill a glass 4/5 full with Coke ( The full fat variety creates the best foam)
Add a large scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream.
Serve with a couple of straws

This post is part of the Team #CANDORUK campaign for #INSURGENTUK.
Post by Caroline

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Novel Nibbles: Steampunk Cupcake Toppers

Yesterday we took a look at how to make Earl Grey infused cupcakes. The post included two types of flavoured butter cream and two kinds of easy, low effort Steampunk inspired cake decorations.

Today’s post shows you step by step how I created the edible bronze cogs and washers.

These decorations involved a few bits of specialist equipment and a considerable time commitment (approx 2hrs) but it was well worth the effort. I will certainly make them again if I ever need to contribute to a steampunk event and I am already plotting a robotic themed birthday party for my 2 3/4 year old.

Note: The bronze paint is made using “Bronze Professional Metallic Lustres”, an edible food colouring powder, and a few drops of clear alcohol, which evaporates during the drying process.

Bon appétit!

Post by Caroline

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Novel Nibbles: Steampunk Cupcakes

Following my recent outing to Foyles to meet Gail Carriger, I suddenly found myself craving afternoon tea and compelled to do some home baking to satisfy this craving. I found myself recalling the Cassandra Clare even I attended October 2011 and how one creative fan had made Cassie some yummy cupcakes, complete with edible clockwork cogs.  A regular cupcake just wasn’t going to hit the spot, I was going to have to make Steampunk Cupcakes.

With the image of Cassandra Clare’s cupcake in mind the search for a Clockwork or Cog shaped cookie cutter began. A rummage around Lakelands and Steamer Trading provided fruitless. It was time to bring out he big guns. A Google  search highlighted the distinct lack of Clockwork or Cog shaped cookie cutters. Those I could find were far too large and the shipping times too long for my sugar craving. Thankfully Google came through and I stumbled across Om-Noms by Kelly and her very clever cog shaped sugar cookies. The decoration sorted, it was time to focus on the main event- The Cake!

I wanted to do something a little different from a traditional vanilla cupcake. As much as I love chocolate, lemon and carrot cake, none of these flavours fitted with the image of a dainty Victorian afternoon tea. The inspiration struck, TEA! Searching through my cookery books I found a recipe for a chi tea infused cup cake, which brought to mind trendy coffee shop frequenters supping on Chi Tea lattes, close but not quite right.

Earl Grey on the other hand conjured images of a dainty floral tea service and raised pinkie fingers, Perfect! Two minutes later I was salivating over gorgeous images of Earl Grey infused cup cakes, of which there were many! I finally settled on this recipe from Mean Mother Cooker. Anyone who can pipe butter cream that beautifully  knows a thing or two about cake.
What follows is a build your own cupcake post.

1. Make 12  Earl Grey Infused Cupcakes
2. Choose from either Lemon or Earl Grey Butter Cream (I couldn’t resist making both!)
3. Select topper by level of effort (none, some, lots)

1. The Cup Cake

The Ingredients

150mls of Milk
3 Earl Grey Teabags
115g Soften Unsalted Butter
225g Caster Sugar
2 Large Eggs, beaten
250g Plain Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
Preheat oven to 180C.

Heat milk until steaming.Add tea bags and leave to infuse until milk is room temperature

Cream butter and sugar

Add the egg a little at a time, beating well.

add 1/3 milk, mixing mix well,followed by 1/3 flour. Repeat untilall milk and flour combined.

Line a muffin tin with 12 cake cases.Fill until 2/3 full. Bake in oven for approx 20min.

Allow to cool on a wire rack. If necessary trim of peaks to prepare for butter cream.

2. The Butter Cream.
Choose either Lemon  or Earl Grey butter cream.
The amounts stated will ice 12 cupcakes to the perfect ratio of 1/3 butter cream to 2/3 cupcake.
Alternatively halve the ingredients and make 6 of each type 😉

Beat 75g of Unsalted Butter with therind and juice of two unwaxed lemon(approx 5TBS) and 1/2 of your
375g icing sugar.
Once smooth slowly beat in the rest of the icing sugar.
Optional: Add a couple of drops of yellowfood colouring.

Earl Grey
Infuse 5TBS of milk with 1 earl grey teabag(same method as cakes).
Once cooled beat tea with 75g of unsalted butter and 1/2 of your 375g of icing sugar.
Once smooth slowly beat in remaining sugar.
Optional:add a couple of drop of lilac food colouring.

3. The Cupcake Topper
Pearls and Ball Bearings.
Simply sprinkle with these shop bought decorative balls.

Effort Level: Some
Steampunk Some Snowflakes.
Take left over snowflake sprinkles and mixed with a drop of vodka and 1/4 tsp of edible bronzing powder.
Spread out over a plate in a single layer.Leave to dry.

Effort Level: Lots
Clockwork Cogs: Come backtomorrow to check out my step- by- step post to creating these bronzed beauties!

Post by Caroline

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Novel Nibbles: The Hunger Games Lamb Stew with Dried Plums

“What’s impressed you most since you arrived here?” I rack my brain for something that made me happy here. Be honest, I think. Be honest.”The lamb stew,” I get out. Caesar laughs, and vaguely I realize some of the audience has joined in.
“The one with the dried plums?” asks Caesar. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

For this Hunger Games inspired stew I simply adapted a classic Lamb Tagine recipe from  Classic Recipe Collection by Sainsbury’s swapping the traditional dried apricots for prunes.

Serves 4

100g Dried Plums i.e, Prunes soaked in 50mls Orange Juice and 30mls of boiling water for at least 1 hour
1 TBS Olive Oil
450-500g Diced Lamb
1 Onion, Peeled and Chopped
2 medium sized Sweet Potatoes
1 Clove of Garlic (I used 1 tsp of the lazy stuff!)
2cm piece of fresh Ginger (1TBS of Lazy Ginger)
1tsp Ground Cinnamon
1tsp Ground Coriander
1tsp Ground Cumin
1x 400g Tin of Tomatoes
1/2 Glass of Red Wine
300mls of Stock ( I used chicken)
1TBS Honey (yuck! I exchanged this for maple syrup!)

Using the oil, brown the lamb in batches and keep warm
In the same pan add the onions and cook until soft.
Add garlic, ginger and spices and cook for a couple of min’s
Add sweet potatoes, tomatoes and wine. Cook until reduced
by half and then add lamb, stock, honey and prune mixture.
You can either cover the pan and simmer for approx 45mins,
until the lamb and potatoes are tender
or, like me place in a slow cooker and leave it to
bubble away for most of the day.
The finished stew, served with couscous

Verdict: I have to say that I thought that the stew was absolutely delicious and even better than the original tagine. My taste testers Ava 4.5 and  Seth 2.5 gobbled it up without complaint. I will definitely be making this again!

Post by Caroline

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Novel Nibbles

I love food in books.

I LOVE indulging in food porn! I can happily spend hours browsing through cook books, salivating over the gorgeous photography and compiling fantasy menus for non-existent dinner parties. Cookery books make up the bulk of my non-fiction collection. At my last count I owned 33 cook books in addition to recipe cards and foodie magazines!

I LOVE food within fiction. Whether it’s the absence of food and the struggle to obtain it, heavily recycled water and desiccated rations in a Sci-Fi novel, a fresh kill roasting over an open fire in a survival novel or the perfect breakfast in a contemporary story, the addition of food within a fictional piece really helps to add to the realism, evoking the senses and grounding it within the book’s setting.

My Daughters 2nd Birthday Cake

Before Christmas Lesley and I had great fun making (and not to mention testing!)The Scorpio Races: Film Rights Brownies (found here). Subsequently the Big Book Little Book team have decided to create a fun new feature: Novel Nibbles. Putting our cook books to good use and our children to work, we hope to create, adapt and test food featured in or inspired by Big Book Little Book’s favourite fiction.

A friendly warning to your waistline: We anticipate that  desserts and baking will feature quite heavily!
Post by Caroline

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