Chocolate & Vanilla Pinwheel Biscuits

When I was browsing recipes and ideas for Christmas biscuits to make for my family, I came across these fabulous pinwheel cookies by Sugary Winzy. I just had to give them a go! The effect is so fun and eye catching. As well as the look of these biscuits, the other thing that attracted me is that you can make them in advance, keep the rolls of dough in freezer and take them out and slice them when you’re ready to bake. You don’t even need to thaw them for more than a few minutes!

To make the chocolate dough I started by melting 30g butter into 2 tbsp milk in the microwave for 30 seconds. In a bowl I mixed the milky butter with 6 tbsp cocoa powder and set aside.

To make the vanilla part of the dough I mixed 230g butter with 225g caster sugar until creamy. Then I added 2 egg yolks, one at a time mixing between each addition. And finally I added 4 tsp vanilla extract and 2 tbsp milk.

To the vanilla dough mixture I added 375g plain flour and 1 tbsp baking powder and mixed until a dough formed.

I took about 3/4 of the vanilla dough and mixed it into the chocolate dough. Then I shaped both doughs into balls and cut in half.

Onto greaseproof paper I rolled out both dough halves into rectangles that were approximately 8″ by 7″.

Carefully, I tipped the chocolate dough onto the vanilla dough and rolled over them lightly so that they stuck together. Then, like you would do with a swiss roll, I rolled up the doughs together. Do the same again with the two other halves of dough. Then I wrapped both dough rolls in cling film and put them in the freezer.

When ready to bake the biscuits, I took the rolls out of the freezer and let them thaw for 5-10 minutes. I sliced them into 1/4″ thick slices using a sharp knife and placed on a baking tray.

I baked the biscuits on 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3 for 15-20 minutes. They do grow in size so leave space between them. I was so thrilled with how they looked! And as you can see from the missing spot, tasting before giving out as gifts is very important and necessary!

Not the best photo, but this is how I presented the biscuits. I them in some treat bags from Lakeland, tied them with ribbon and made my own Christmassy luggage tags to tell people what they were. I was pleased to hear that my family enjoyed eating up these biscuits, they certainly didn’t last very long!

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Chocolate & Vanilla Pinwheel Biscuits
Ingredients
  • 260g Butter
  • 4 tbsp Milk
  • 6 tbsp Cocoa powder
  • 225g Caster sugar
  • 2 Egg yolks
  • 4 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 375g Plain flour
  • 1 tbsp Baking Powder
Instructions
To make the chocolate dough melt 30g of the butter into 2 tbsp of the milk in the microwave for 30 seconds. In a bowl mix the milky butter with the cocoa powder and set asideTo make the vanilla dough mix 230g of the butter with the caster sugar until creamy. Then add the egg yolks, one at a time, mixing between each addition. Finally add the vanilla extract and 2 tbsp of the milkTo the vanilla dough mixture add the plain flour and baking powder and mix until a dough formsTake 3/4 of the vanilla dough and mix it into the chocolate mixture. Shaped both dough into balls and cut each one in halfOnto greaseproof paper roll out both dough halves into rectangles that are approximately 8″ by 7″Carefully lay the chocolate dough onto the vanilla dough and roll over them lightly so that they stick together. Then, like you would do with a swiss roll, roll up the doughs together. Do the same again with the two other halves of dough. Then wrap both dough rolls in cling film and put them in the freezer for 1 hourWhen ready to bake the biscuits, take the rolls out of the freezer and let them thaw for 5-10 minutes. Slice them into 1/4″ thick slices using a sharp knife and place on a baking trayBake the biscuits on 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3 for 15-20 minutes. They will grow in size so leave space between them

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Gingerbread Cake

This gorgeous spicy golden cake is part of a set of recipes put together by Schwartz to get you started into the world of baking. They have put together a selection of simple, traditional and tasty recipes that are all easy to make and delicious to eat. From a chocolate drizzle cake to a light fruit cake, they are great recipes for less experienced bakers who still want to create something attractive and delicious. You can see the full list of recipes by clicking here. I decided to make the Gingerbread Cake because it sounded warming and seasonal.

I started by melting 100g butter, 225g golden syrup and 50g soft light brown sugar on a low-medium heat.
 

Once it was smooth and golden, I left it to cool slightly.

In a bowl I beat together 2 eggs and 150ml milk.

I used Blue Diamond Almond Breeze milk again, this time the unsweetened version as this cake has lots of golden syrup in it to provide sweetness. Almonds are one of the healthiest nuts in the world, so it’s good to know you are getting some extra nutritional value your baking. You can read more about the health benefits here.

In another bowl I sifted in 225g plain flour, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 2 tsp Schwartz Ground Ginger and 2 tsp Schwartz Mixed Spice.

I’ve been using Schwartz spices for years and I’m a big fan of their range. They are probably the most recognisable herb and spice brand in the UK with the distinctive shape and colour of their bottles. They have a huge selection of spices which are perfect for baking, and a great variety of herbs too. I use their Perfect Shake range a lot in my cooking. They’re great for adding flavour to meat and dishes like risotto, stir frys and casseroles.

On with the cake… I poured the egg mixture and sugar mixture into the flour and mixed well.

I spooned the mixture into a lined loaf tin.

I baked on 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2 for 1 hour and 30 minutes until it was a rich gold colour.

Once cool, I digged in! Wow this cake is full of flavour and deliciously moist and light too. I enjoyed it with some cream poured on top, but it’s great on it’s own too. I was really pleased with how this turned out. The cake is best after a week stored in an air tight container, so the flavours can develop. If you can’t wait that long, like me, the good news is it’s yummy on the day it’s made too. This would be a great recipe for a Christmas gift as the cake will keep till after New Year if you make it next week.

Check out Schwartz’z website for more easy to make and delicious cake recipes!

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Gingerbread Cake
Ingredients
  • 100g Butter
  • 225g Golden syrup
  • 50g Light brown sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 150ml Milk
  • 225g Plain flour
  • 1 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp Schwartz Ground Ginger
  • 2 tsp Schwartz Mixed Spice
Instructions
Melt the butter, golden syrup and light brown sugar on a low-medium heat. Once it is smooth and golden, leave it to cool slightlyIn a bowl beat together the eggs and milkIn another bowl sift the plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, Schwartz Ground Ginger and Schwartz Mixed SpicePour the egg mixture and sugar mixture into the flour and mix wellSpoon the mixture into a lined loaf tin. Bake on 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2 for 1 hour and 30 minutes until it is a rich gold colour

NB. This post was created in association with Schwartz, all opinions are my own.

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Orange & Ginger Slice

These delicious slices are filled with festive flavour and are great little treats for parties and family gatherings. They are so simple and quick to make, which is just what you want this time of year. The crunchy ginger topping packs a spicey punch which you can adjust depending on your taste. This recipe is based on a ‘Lazy Daisy’ cake, which is an old recipe from the 1940s that uses hot milk to make the cake. It is usually topped with coconut, but I changed it to fit the season.

I started by heating 120ml Blue Diamond Almond Breeze and 15g butter in a pan.

I used Blue Diamond Almond Breeze again after being sent some recently and using it in my Mulled Wine Cupcakes. I have recently been having trouble with cow’s milk so I was
really interested to try out almond milk. It comes in three varieties;
original, unsweetened, and chocolate. I’ve only tried the original
variety so far, but it tastes really nice. It’s also very low in
calories and perfect for anyone on a diary free or vegan diet. You can
use it just like regular milk in baking, or when making soups, sauces
and hot drinks.

 

In a bowl I whisked together 2 eggs until frothy. I gradually added 200g caster sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla extract.

I then added the zest and juice of one orange and whisked in.

In a bowl I weighed out 160g plain flour, 1 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt. I added it to the mixture and stirred until just mixed. Finally I poured in the hot milk mixture, stirred in, and poured into a lined tin.

I baked on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for about 25 minutes until golden.

To make the topping I melted 110g brown sugar, 45g butter, 2 tbsp Blue Diamond Almond Breeze and 2 tsp ginger (add more or less depending on your taste).

Pour the mixture over the cake, then pop it under the grill for about 3 minutes until it bubbles all over. Leave to cool, then slice and serve!

These Orange & Ginger Slices were a huge hit in my office, the only thing I would change is to double to recipe next time! They are really light and moist, and the ginger topping has just the right amount of spice for that festive kick. It’s a very versatile recipe too so you can change the flavours depending on the season. It would be great with other citrus fruits and spices.

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Orange & Ginger Slice
Ingredients
  • 120ml + 2 tbsp Almond Milk
  • 60g Butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • 200g Caster sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 Orange
  • 160g Plain flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • A pinch of Salt
  • 110g Light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp Ground ginger
Instructions
Heat the 120ml of almond milk and 15g of the butter in a panIn a bowl whisk together the eggs until frothy. Then gradually add the caster sugar and vanilla extractThen add the zest and juice of the orange and whisk inIn a bowl weigh out the plain flour, baking powder and salt. Add it to the egg mixture and stir until just mixed. Finally pour in the hot milk mixture, stir in, and pour into a lined tinBake on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for about 25 minutes until goldenTo make the topping melt the brown sugar, 45g of the butter, 2 tbsp of almond milk and ground gingerPour the mixture over the cooked cake, then pop it under the grill for about 3 minutes until it bubbles all over. Leave to cool, then slice and serve!
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Mulled Wine Cupcakes

If there’s one drink that really says Christmas, it’s got to be mulled wine. I’m pretty sure it’s only drank around Christmas time, and I know a lot of people who consider that after they’ve had their first mulled wine, Christmas is officially here! Also know as ‘gluhwein’ and ‘glogg’, mulled wine is warmed red wine, with sugar and spiced with orange, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, star anise, and/or cardamom. The spices used are a cultural, or personal, preference. I love making my favourite drinks into cupcakes! Here’s how I did it…

I started by warming up 100ml mulled wine. I used a bottle of ready spiced mulled wine, but you can spice your own if you wish. Once it was warm I added some dried cranberries and left them to soak for about an hour.

I used these dried cranberries which are flavoured with orange for that extra orange zing in the cupcakes. You can also use 100g plain dried cranberries.

In a bowl I measured out 200g self raising flour, 140g caster sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp mixed spice, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 40g butter. Feel free to add your favourite spices in whichever quantity you wish!

In a jug I whisked together 120ml Blue Diamond Almond Breeze, 1 egg and 1 tsp vanilla extract.

I was recently sent some Blue Diamond Almond Breeze to try out in my baking. I have recently been having trouble with cow’s milk so I was really interested to try out almond milk. It comes in three varieties; original, unsweetened, and chocolate. I’ve only tried the original variety so far, but it tastes really nice. It’s also very low in calories and perfect for anyone on a diary free or vegan diet. You can use it just like regular milk in baking, or when making soups, sauces and hot drinks.

I mixed the almond milk mixture into the flour mixture bit by bit, and then added the 100ml mulled wine strained from the cranberries. I poured the mixture into a lined cupcake tin and put a few cranberries into each one until they were all used.

I baked on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for about 20-25 minutes until golden.

Whilst they were cooling I made a buttercream out of 400g icing sugar, 150g butter and 3 tbsp mulled wine. I also added some Christmas Red and Grape Violet Sugarflair food colouring till I got a rich burgundy colour. I put some cinnamon and mixed spice into my icing, for extra warmth. I just added a couple of pinches of each until I was happy with the taste.

I used a star nozzle to pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes, then I added some sugar snowflake decorations.

Finally, for that Christmas sparkle, I sprinkled some gold edible glitter onto the cupcakes!

When cut open, the cupcakes were lovely and moist and filled with juicy cranberries.

Serve with mulled wine, of course!

I am entering these into myself and Cakeyboi‘s monthly challenge Treat Petite. This month’s theme is Happy Holidays!

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Mulled Wine Cupcakes
Ingredients
  • 100g Dried cranberries
  • 100ml + 3 tbsp Mulled wine
  • 200g Self raising flour
  • 140g Caster sugar
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Mixed spice
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • 190g Butter
  • 120ml Almond milk
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 400g Icing sugar
  • Sprinkles
  • Red & purple food colouring
Instructions
Warm up the 100ml of mulled wine. add the dried cranberries and leave to soak for about an hourIn a bowl mix together the self raising flour, caster sugar, baking powder, mixed spice, cinnamon, nutmeg and 40g of the butterIn a jug whisk together the almond milk, egg and vanilla extractMix the almond milk mixture into the flour mixture bit by bit, and then add the mulled wine strained from the cranberries. Divide the mixture into cupcake cases and put a few cranberries into each one until they are all usedBake on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for about 20-25 minutes until goldenMake the buttercream by mixing the icing sugar, 150g of the butter and the 3 tbsp of mulled wine. Add the food colouring to get a rich burgundy colourUse a star nozzle to pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes, then add sprinkles and gold edible glitter
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BBC Good Food Show Winter

Last week I headed to the NEC in Birmingham for the BBC Good Food Show Winter. The show consisted of 100’s of award winning producers of quality food and drink, demonstrations from celebrity chefs, the world cheese awards, opportunities to buy a range of food gadgets and ingredients, and also featured some of The Great British Bake Off stars.

After a quick wonder round to get my bearings, which was admittedly quite difficult as the show was massive! I started my day watching Francis Quinn, the 2013 Great British Bake Off winner, demonstrate how to make her Cauliflower Cheese Scones.

Frances talked about her creativity and admitted she always has a sketchbook on her as an idea can come to her at any moment. I was also relieved to her she is a fan of shortcuts, e.g. buying puff pastry. I completely agree!

She talked a lot about the friendly atmosphere on the GBBO set, the contestants all got on really well and were happy to share fridge space and borrow things from each other. She told the audience how they all went for dinner in Oxford the weekend after the final and caused somewhat of a stir when they all walked into a local restaurant – no wonder! And afterwards they enjoyed some rocky road made by Glenn.

The Cauliflower Cheese Scones looked brilliant and I was impressed with how easy they are to make. I will definitely be giving these a try!

At the end of the demo Frances was happy to meet and great with some fans – including me! She was such a lovely lady and very friendly.

I stayed put as next on stage was GBBO finalist Kimberley Wilson doing a demonstration of her Banana Nut Loaf with Hazelnut Praline and Rum Caramel. Just like on the show, Kimberley was full of technical knowledge! She explained that she used the creaming method for the loaf as it gets more air into the sponge, otherwise the banana will weigh the batter down.

Kimberley is still doing her 9-5 job as a psychologist, but takes time out for events like the BBC Good Food Show and the upcoming Remarkable Woman Conference that she will be attending along with fellow finalist Ruby Tandoh.

It seems like the most popular place to spot a GBBO contestant is in the local supermarket, both Frances and Kimberley talked about being stopped for baking advice and praise on their GBBO achievements while they shopped .

Some interesting GBBO statistics were revealed. During this year’s series the contestants used 750 piping bags, 35 litres double cream, 80kg chocolate, 150kg sugar, 2000 eggs, 90kg butter, and 200kg flour. And the poor people who had to clean up spent 208 hours doing the washing up and used 25 litres of washing up liquid and 40 sponges!

The Banana Nut Loaf looked delicious, and the Rum Caramel sounds to die for. Kimberley recommended leaving the loaf till the next day so the flavours could mature. You can find the recipe here on Kimberley’s website.

Kimberley was also kind enough to do a meet and greet with the audience!

You couldn’t avoid the World Cheese Awards! The smell of the cheese was amazing and seeing so much cheese all in once place was pretty mouth watering. The awards are the biggest of their kind worldwide and having been running for over 20 years.

Throughout the BBC Good Food Show, visitors had the opportunity to learn about how the cheese is judged, sample some of the cheese, and learn some interesting facts about cheese.

I headed round the show to look at some of stalls and produce on offer at the show. Swifts Bakery had some gorgeous bread for sale. The Swift family have been baking bread since 1893, so they know a thing or two about it!

I was really interested to hear about how you can replace butter in your bakes with pureed prunes. Not only does this cut down on the sugar and fat content of your bake, but it also adds vitamins like potassium and Vitamin K to the bake. I tasted both an energy bar and chocolate brownie made with prunes and they were delicious! Check out California Prunes for recipes.

I purchased some ground cardamom from Fox’s Spices, who had a massive range of herbs and spices in all kinds of forms available. I’m pretty sure from a thorough look at their stall that they stock pretty much every spice and herb that exists! Definitely the place to go if you are looking for the weird and wonderful of the spice world.

These gorgeous cakes were on the Delovely Cakes stall. I particularly love the gingerbread man cake and the cupcakes with mini macarons on top – gorgeous! They have some other stunning Christmas cakes on their website.

I love sweet potatoes and these sweet potato crisps from Scott’s Farm were so yummy! Vegetable crisps are really good for you as well as being tasty, I’ve only ever since mixed varieties before (beetroot, parsnip, carrot) so it’s great to see these on the market.

The Little Round Cake Company had their giant cakes and merangz for sale at their stall.



Scrumptious Sprinkles had a massive range of cupcakes cases, glitters and sprinkles to choose from.

I bought some delicious cheeses from Remarkable Foods including a caramelised onion cheddar that was divine.

You can order bread from the Hedonist Bakery that comes part baked and frozen so you can finish baking them at home for easy fresh and delicious bread anytime! I recommend the roasted onion bread.

I just had to share this rather interesting sign with you!!

My last stop of the day was to watch Stacie Stewart demonstrate on the Saturday Kitchen Stage where she made Honey Madelines with Cointreau Syrup and a Christmas Pavlova. When making the pavlova she demonstrated a fabulous product called ‘Yolk Hero’. This little gadget easily removes egg yolks from the whites. You can buy it from Lakeland.

She gave the audience some great tips on making meringue; you can freeze eggs yolks and egg whites for months, when making meringues make sure the bowl is clean and free from any grease, if you add 1 tsp of cornflour and 1 tsp of white wine vinegar to your meringue it will improve the quality. She also told us that if you add golden syrup to whipped meringue mixture it makes ‘fluff’ – the marshmallow stuff you can buy in a jar, and if you whip cream at room temperature it will whip faster.

The Christmas Pavlova looked fab, it was filled with marscarpone cream, orange flavoured mincemeat and melted chocolate. I didn’t get to taste any, but the Honey Madelines with Cointreau Syrup were amazing!

The BBC Good Food Show is definitely a food lovers heaven. I do enjoy food a lot, but baking is my main interest and although the show did have an area devoted to baking, it wasn’t enough for me. However if you are a food all rounder who likes wine, cheese, chocolate and meat then this show is definitely for you. There are a huge number of chef demonstrations on, so you’re bound to find someone you’ll enjoy watching and you’ll learn something new about food and cooking. Plus it’s a great opportunity to try new flavours and sample some amazing quality foods!

The next BBC Good Food Show is at the NEC Birmingham from 12th – 15th June 2014. You can buy tickets and find out more here.

(In case you are wondering why I have not mentioned Mary Berry & Paul Hollywood; I was unable to watch their demonstration as I held a press pass and the press did not get an allocation of tickets on the day I attended.)

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Mince Pie Cake

Last year at Christmas I made Mince Pie Cupcakes with Brandy Buttercream and a Butterscotch Drizzle, and they were absolutely delicious (if I do say so myself!) I love mince pies, so making them into a cupcake was an obvious choice. Plus the brandy buttercream… oh wow! Brandy is such a great Christmas flavour and I couldn’t wait to make the cupcakes again this year. But then I was invited to the Christmas meeting for my local Clandestine Cake Club, and I decided to make a cake instead! The bigger the better!

To make the three tiers of sponge I first creamed together 375g butter and 375g caster sugar.

I then added 6 eggs and 3 tbsp brandy, and mixed in well. Then finally folded in 375g self raising flour.

I divided the mixture into three sponge tins and baked on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for about 25 minutes until golden brown.

I left the sponge to cool and made some chocolate decorations by melting dark chocolate, putting it in a piping bag, and piping out shapes. I didn’t know how I was going to decorate the cake at this point so I also made some star shapes which didn’t end up on the cake. However they are an easier shape to do if you don’t feel confident enough to do the Christmas trees.

Once the sponge was cooled I started to stack it. I filled between the sponge with this luxury mincemeat, laced with port and packed with fruit. Of course you can use home made mincemeat if you have some.

Don’t spread the mincemeat all the way to the edge, leave a little gap, otherwise you run the risk of mincemeat in your buttercream.

I made the brandy buttercream using 400g icing sugar, 150g butter and 3 or 4 tbsp brandy, depending how strong you want it, and also don’t add too much as you want a fairly stiff buttercream for covering the cake with.

I spread the buttercream over the cake, then left it to set. Then I did another layer of buttercream to completely cover the cake. I pressed the chocolate Christmas decorations into the fresh buttercream around the side of the cake.

Then I sprinkled some bronze sugar pieces around the edge – and all over my kitchen!

Finally I placed a Christmas tree in the centre of the cake. And off to Cake Club I went! Here are the other cakes we had at the meeting…

My friend Beth made this delicious Chocolate & Chestnut Yule Log using a Delia Smith recipe. It contains no flour, giving it a beautifully light texture. And she made the chocolate leaves herself too!

Janice made these brilliant Chocolate & Vanilla Candles, with a fantastic stripey inside!

Elaine made this gorgeous Orange & Almond Cake with a crunchy top.

A savoury twist from our host Avril with a Stilton & Walnut Cheesecake. Although I am not a walnut fan, I loved the Stilton filling. And the carrot chutney accompanying it was delicious!

Clare tested out a new icing technique on us with this gold dusted effect Spiced Orange & Cranberry Cake.

Janette wowed with this basket woven buttercream effect which you get from a certain type of piping nozzle and plenty of patience! It looks great and the Lindt truffles were a brilliant touch on her Chocolate & Baileys Cake.

Jane used a Mary Berry recipe to make her Ginger & Treacle Traybake.

And here’s my cake towering above the rest, it was so big! Definitely enough to feed a hungry family, or group of friends around Christmas time. Be mindful of the amount of alcohol in it if you have children at your gathering, the buttercream certainly packs a punch! A good one of course for us adults to enjoy.

And here’s a shot of the cake sliced, with the three layers and mincemeat filling visible. I had a lot of compliments on this cake, and I was really pleased with it too. It’s a fantastic Christmas treat! Let the Christmas baking commence!

I am entering this cake into this month’s Calendar Cakes hosted by Laura Loves Cakes and Dollybakes. This month’s theme is Christmas!

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Mince Pie Cake
Ingredients
  • 525g Butter
  • 375g Caster sugar
  • 6 Eggs
  • 7 tbsp Brandy
  • 375g Self raising flour
  • 100g Dark chocolate
  • 1 jar of Mincemeat
  • 400g Icing sugar
  • Sprinkles
Instructions
Cream together 375g of the butter and the caster sugarAdd the eggs and 3 tbsp of the brandy, and mix in well. Then fold in the self raising flourDivide the mixture into three sponge tins and bake on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for about 25 minutes until golden brownMake some chocolate decorations by melting the dark chocolate, putting it in a piping bag, and piping out Christmas tree shapes onto baking paperOnce the sponge is cool, stack it up filling between the sponge with the mincemeatMake the brandy buttercream by mixing the icing sugar, 150g of the butter and 4 tbsp of the brandy. Cover the top and sides of the cake with half of the buttercream, leave to set, then add another layerTo decorate press the chocolate Christmas decorations into the fresh buttercream around the side of the cake. Sprinkle some bronze sugar pieces around the edge, and place a chocolate Christmas tree in the centre of the cake
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