HOMEMADE GIFTS FOR MOTHER’S DAY
Mums are very special, so delight yours with a homemade gift for Mother’s Day. With ideas ranging from super-thrifty to a little more indulgent she will be thrilled with the effort you have made. A gift made with love is far more precious than any other. Get together with your best mate and share the fun (and cost) of making unique gifts from the heart.
These are so easy to make but look so pretty. Moist, fluffy little cakes covered in chocolate and decorated with shop bought or homemade decorations. They can be made from any leftover cake you have or, like I did, 2 x McVities Lemon Cakes at Poundworld for £1. Just one word of warning – don’t make the mixture for the cake too moist or they will slide down the stick (I know, it happened to me!)
You will need (for 8 pops):
- 2 cups ready prepared cake (plain, lemon or chocolate) – ground into crumbs
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 2 tablespoons runny honey
- 2 large bars of chocolate for coating (white/milk)
- Pop cake sticks (£1 for 12 at Asda)
Place the cake crumbs, cocoa and icing sugar in a bowl and gradually, bit by bit, add the honey until the cake is just moist and can hold a ball shape. Roll into golf ball sizes and place on a plate.
Melt a small amount of the white chocolate, either in the microwave or in a bowl over simmering water in a pan on the hob (don’t let the bowl touch the water). Dip the tip of the cake stick into the melted chocolate and then insert into the cake balls, about half-way through. Insert the sticks in a piece of polystyrene or in the holes of an upturned colander to set for a few minutes then freeze for about 20 minutes.
Melt the remaining chocolate and have all your decorations to hand. The chocolate will dry very quickly so you have to move fast!
Remove the cake balls from the freezer and dip each carefully into the chocolate until covered. Let the excess chocolate drip off by swirling and then tapping on the side of the bowl. Place back in the holder and decorate. If the chocolate does harden too quickly, use a cocktail stick and place a small amount of the melted chocolate behind your chosen decoration and stick onto the cake. Leave to set.
Cover with a clear treat bag and tie with ribbon for individual gifts or present them in a pop cake box – available from Lakeland Plastics at £4.49 for 2. They are not cheap but when compared to 1 box of 8 pop cakes bought online at £19.99, they are a real bargain! This is where sharing the cost with a friend comes in – a box each. Tie with pretty ribbon and you both have a gorgeous gift for your gorgeous Mum.
French macaroons are very expensive to buy and notoriously difficult to make at home. However, this recipe can be used to get that traditional taste to make these highly fashionable, elegant cookies. They can be presented in a lovely vintage cup and saucer (look out for them at charity shops or car boot sales, where you can pick them up for about £1- just check there is no damage and wash thoroughly once home).
You Will Need:
- 3 egg whites
- 20g caster sugar
- 63g ground almonds
- 100g icing sugar
Beat the eggs with a pinch of salt until they begin to rise and hold their shape. Whilst whipping, beat in the caster sugar until very stiff (not dry), for about 2 minutes.
Carefully sieve in and fold the dry ingredients into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. Stop folding when the mixture is just smooth. You can split the mixture at this stage to add any food colouring to make pink, mint green, lilac or any colour you choose.
Place the batter in a piping bag with a 1cm round nozzle and pipe onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper – 1 inch circles, 1 inch apart. Tap the baking sheets on the counter top several times to firmly flatten the bottom on the macaroons. Leave for ½ an hour in the open air to dry out a little.
Bake the biscuits at 160˚ for approximately 10 minutes. Remove from the oven when cooked and carefully run a little cold water between the paper and the tray and remove the macaroons with a pallet knife – leave to cool. Place the cookies in a pretty cup and saucer – cover with cellophane and tie with a bow.
To make a more traditional macaroon, fill with buttercream (see recipe below) or melt chocolate with a little single cream to make a ganache filling.
Yes, the old favourite, but who doesn’t love a delicious, fluffy, cupcake with light-as-air buttercream? These couldn’t be simpler to make.
You will need:
- 8oz (250g) self-raising flour
- 8oz (250g) caster sugar
- 8oz (250g) butter (at room temperature)
- 4 large eggs
Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl using a hand whisk until light and creamy. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, until light and pale. Gradually combine the dry ingredients and the eggs into the butter sugar mixture. (Sieve half the flour, then half the eggs and repeat until they are all combined and the batter drops from a height off the spoon). If it seems a little heavy, add the tiniest drop of hot water to gain the proper consistency.
Using an ice-cream scoop fill 18 cup cases in baking trays. Cook for approximately 15-20 minutes at 165˚. Insert a cocktail stick in the middle and if it comes away clean the cakes are done. Leave to cool on a wire tray.
At this stage they are ready to decorate with either melted chocolate or buttercream.
For the buttercream you will need:
- 5oz (150g) butter, softened
- 8oz (250g) icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
- 2 tsp hot water
Beat together the butter and sugar with an electric whisk, the longer you do this the lighter the buttercream. Add the vanilla and water and beat again until smooth and creamy.
This buttercream is so light it spreads very easily with a palette knife or use a piping bag with a star nozzle to cover the cakes. Starting at the outside swirl the buttercream inwards towards the middle. Decorate with sprinkles or handmade decorations.
Cranberry Oatcakes with Baked Camembert Kit
Not every Mum has a sweet tooth and this alternative is sure to be a winner. A box of Camembert to warm in the oven until served with crisp and fruity oatcakes presented in a kilner jar (£1 from Poundworld).
You will need:
- 225g oatmeal
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 25g dried cranberries – finely chopped
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 150ml water
- 1 boxed Camembert
Heat the oven to 180˚C/fan 160˚C/Gas 4. Put the oatmeal, bicarb and salt into a bowl and mix well. Stir in the cranberries. In a small pan heat the butter and water until the butter melts.
Pour in the liquid and mix everything together. It will seem quite wet at this stage but the oatmeal will gradually absorb the liquid. Form the soft dough into a ball.
Lightly dust a clean work surface with sieved oatmeal and roll out the mixture to about ½ cm thick. Use a shaped cutter (I used a round one to fit the kilner jar) and continue re-rolling the mixture until all the biscuits have been made.
Dust off any excess flour and place the oatcakes on 2 baking sheets and cook for approximately 20 minutes – carefully turning the oatcakes every 5 minutes. They should be crisp and lightly golden when cooked. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
Place the oatcakes in the kilner jar and place on top of the boxed Camembert cheese – tie the two together with a ribbon – you could add a label on how to cook the cheese in the oven.
The label could read:- Heat the oven to 200˚C/Gas 6. Unwrap the Camembert, take off the wax wrapper and any other packaging. Place the cheese back in the box with the lid off. Cook for 10 minutes until the cheese becomes soft and gooey. Dunk with oatcakes and enjoy!