Monday, 23 December 2013

Boozy Brandy Cupcakes by Cuppies 'n' Cream

Here is a festive recipe from Natalie who writes the popular blog, Cuppies 'n' Cream, where you can follow her baking and decorating experiences. Natalie writes:-

These cupcakes are a great alternative to mince pies - sweet, indulgent and delicious. Perfect for handing around to family and friends over the festive period.

After baking numerous Christmas fruit cakes I had some left over fruit that had been soaking in Brandy and I was just waiting for an excuse to use it up. My boyfriend's Dad paid us a surprise visit at the weekend so I quickly whipped up a batch of these for him to take back home with him.

Boozy Brandy cupcakes are actually one of my favourite cupcakes as they are so full of flavour making them super indulgent and special. These cupcakes are incredibly tender and moist, one of the most delicious cupcakes I have made so far; they are so good that a simpler icing could be used with great results – or no icing at all, which is how my little boy likes them. He doesn't like traditional fruit cake but he did love these, so they are attractive to adults and little ones.


Your fruit will need to be soaked for at least 12 hours - but the longer you can soak the better
This recipe will yield 18 cupcakes so line your cupcake tins ready
Preheat your oven to 155 degrees C. (Fan assisted)


50g sultanas / 50g raisins / 80g currants / 20g glacier cherries (halved) / 20g mixed peel
Left in an air-tight container with 100ml of Brandy poured over

190g unsalted butter
190 dark brown soft sugar
3 Large free range eggs
200g self raising flour
20g ground almonds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp of mixed spice
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
1 tsp of orange extract
1 tbsp of golden syrup


1. Cream your butter and sugar until fluffy the add your eggs one at a time.

2. In a separate bowl weigh out & sift your dry ingredients.

3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients folding in until all combined.

4. Add your vanilla & orange extract.
5. Now add your pre-soaked fruit into the mixture stirring in, but taking care not to over mix.

6. Using an ice-cream scoop (for consistency) fill the cases one large scoop each.

7. Bake for 24 minutes.

8. Remove from your oven and transfer to a cooling tray.

For the icing

250g of unsalted 'real' butter
500g of icing sugar
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1/2 tsp of Brandy
1 tsp of orange extract

I literally throw all my buttercream ingredients in the mixer bowl and whizz up together until pale and smooth then using a piping bag and nozzle, pipe on your cupcakes. I also sprinkled with a tiny bit of cinnamon and drizzled with golden syrup. They are totally delicious! The orange really compliments the Brandy and the fruit. For an alternative idea you could even add some cranberries or white chocolate to the buttercream.

For more recipes, visit and to find out about ordering cupcakes from Cuppies 'n' Cream, visit You can also follow Natalie on Twitter @CuppiesnCream and on Facebook.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

10 Festive Tips for Dressing Your Home This Christmas

Sherry Roberts is the brains behind The Longest Stay, the first interactive online ‘click and buy' interiors magazine. Working alongside a team of international stylists, Sherry scours the globe finding designer home accessories, gifts and designer furniture that are rare and beautiful. Here Sherry gives her top tips on decorating your home for Christmas.

I am not one to veer away from red and gold during the festive season, but on this occasion I would go all white and make your décor stand out with hints of colour.

Why go white? It’s perfect for creating a spacious environment, but adding those bits of colour is crucial to keep it looking warm and welcoming. Also, everyone loves a ‘white Christmas’; personally I have a soft spot for Santa’s white beard and a big white snowman.

Keeping your décor chic and luxurious can be tricky, but following these simple tips can achieve the perfect look…

1. Add a fresh white wreath decorated with white beads in your bathroom or in a place less expected than your front door.

2. Spray your tree with snow, but don't do it heavily!

3. Use white or silver ornaments and surround them with clear lights.

4. Add delicate snowflakes and icicles to your tree.

5. Place garlands crafted out of beautiful silver or white ribbon on your tree. This is a wonderful way to make it eye-catching to all your guests.

6. Decorate your white winter wonderland with red berries to bring a touch of colour.

7. Dine with white plates and use serviettes embossed with gold, silver or choose a deep red silk napkin.

8.Use white candles with a touch of gold. The aromas in the house say it all, so if you aren't cooking something delightful, then light a candle with a scent for the season.

9. Place a white snow faux fox fur on your sofa to bring out that cosy, warm and welcoming feeling

10. If you decide to use anything old, make sure it doesn't look like it has been sitting in a wrapper for a year. Toss it and start over, better to have quality than quantity.

For more information, visit

Thursday, 12 December 2013

A Recipe for Christmas Pudding Fudge from Buttermilk Confections

Tracy McDonnell Goad is a director of Buttermilk Confections, a fudge manufacturer which she runs with her husband David. The business has been family-run for decades from Cornwall and celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2014. Here, Tracy shares the family’s recipe for Christmas Pudding Fudge which makes a lovely festive treat. It’s incredibly easy to make and should only take twenty minutes before being left to set.

She said: “Everyone loves fudge and our Christmas pudding flavour is a huge seller at this time of year. However, you can bring a bit of Cornwall into your home with this recipe which fills the kitchen with a gorgeous festive aroma. We recommend making several batches as gifts for friends who deserve a decadent treat over Christmas.The finished product looks fabulous when presented in either a Kilner jar or a cellophane bag with a pretty ribbon around the top.”


Oil, for greasing
300 ml milk
350 g caster sugar
100 g unsalted butter
3tbsp brandy
60g raisins
10g mixed spice
(orange, optional)


1. Grease an 18cm square cake tin with the oil.

2. Put the milk, sugar and butter in a heavy-based saucepan. At Buttermilk Confections, we use traditional copper pans as they spread the heat evenly.  Heat the mixture slowly, stirring all the time, until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted.

3. Bring to the boil and boil for 15-20 minutes, stirring all the time.

4. When the mixture reaches the soft-ball stage (115°C on a sugar thermometer), remove from the heat. Then stir in the raisins, brandy and mixed spice. (The zest of a half of an orange can be added at this stage for a little extra kick.)

5. Beat the mixture with a spoon for a few minutes until a grain starts to form and it starts to thicken. Once the shine has disappeared the fudge is ready to pour.

6. Pour into the prepared tin and leave to set at room temperature.  Don't place in the fridge as the fudge will go sticky.

7. Break up by hand and store in an air tight1 container for up to a week (if you can refrain from eating it for that long!).

Buttermilk Confections produces a wide range of flavours and all of its award-winning fudge is still made by hand in copper pans to a traditional recipe at its factory in Wadebridge.The fudge is sold online at as well as through the company's two shops in Padstow and Port Isaac. (The latter’s shop front may look familiar as it also doubles on occasion as the set for Mrs Tishell’s Pharmacy in ITV’s popular Doc Martin series). Its latest venture is Fudgey Fridays which is a monthly subscription service delivering a box of fudge to a work colleague or a loved one’s door.

Friday, 6 December 2013

The Good Web Guide's Favourite Blogs

This week we've turned the tables and the GWG team has chosen some favourite blogs.

Alice's Favourites

Lucy Will Show You - Attention to detail? Check? Insightful reviews on all manner of upmarket hotels and restaurants? Check. A veritable smorgasbord of uber chic design fodder. Check. Visuals to die for - check.

Me and My Big Mouth  - Just quite simply the best literary blog I know; discerning reviews, fascinating trivia and there's even the odd comment on apps. For those of a literary persuasion Scott Pack's opinions are extremely welcome.

I Know this Great Little Place - A recent find, excellent restaurant reviews, with an added bonus on the more underground pop ups and speakeasies of the capital - I just read this review of the new pop up The Wandering Chef at Maison des Artistes and have booked, so now you'll know exactly where to find me.
(Funnily enough a couple of our guest editors have chosenthis blog in the past, Kirsty Hathaway of Beach Tomato and Kally Ellis of McQueens, the florists.)

Arabella's Favourites

"It's difficult to choose a favourite blog and I'm always veering towards the foodie ones.  Smitten Kitchen has been a long time favourite, it's my kind of cooking. Gorgeous photography, easy to follow recipes from the New York based Deb Perelman. A favourite blog that I have enjoyed in the past has been Charlie and Caroline Gladstone's blog, which has introduced me to new music on more than one occasion. It hasn't been updated for a while though.

Christina's Favourite

Scarfolk Council - Scarfolk is a very realistic, completely made up Northern English town stuck in the 70s. The blog, run by screenwriter Richard Littler, consists of illustrations that are almost too real - there's tourist information (about Scarfolk's best suicide spot), postcards (featuring the town's popular "baby marinade sun oil") and educational posters ("Never go with strange children"). Out of all the blogs I read, this is definitely the weirdest.

Emily's Favourite

Hyperbole and a Half  - Funny, insightful, deadpan, sad and utterly brilliant, out of all the blogs I've ever read, this is the most original and compelling. It is authored by Allie, whose character is revealed, not by a trite 'About' blurb (where she has instead drawn a unicorn), but by the sharp observation and cadence of her writing and her wonderfully charismatic cartoons. Her recent post on depression (explaining her 18 month absence from the blog) provides a unique insight into this debilitating condition and her battle to fight through it.

Nick's Favourite

The Moz Blog - This stared life as a SEO blog but has now metamorphosed into a wider remit with postings covering many aspects of webtech from social strategy to technical development and beyond. A must for anyone building or running an online business.

Teri's Favourite

My Favourite blog of all time which I read weekly is Cupcakes and Cashmere.  Emily Schuman, the lady behind the blog is an American who blogs about food, interior design, beauty and of course my own passion fashion. The photography on her site is amazing and her blog celebrates the little things in life - my guilty pleasure!