Monday, 31 December 2012

Leftover Turkey and Cranberry Filo Pie

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After Christmas I had quite literally a bucket-load of turkey to play with thanks to Knorr.
I had so many recipe ideas swirling around in my head it was hard to decide which to chose.

At the December Private Pie meeting I tasted an utterly divine Turkey and Cranberry pie and had been dreaming of it ever since, so after much deliberation I decided to try and create my own version...

However, after eating so much rich and fatty foods for about a week I decided that a buttery shortcrust may not be the best thing to accompany this delectable filling. I decided instead for a light crunchy filo topping, lightly brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. I got the idea for the filo topping from the Hairy Dieters Cookbook, it really is a delicious and healthier alternative to shortcrust or puff pastry.

The filling is the real jewel in this recipes crown and it is almost sinfully easy! The creamy sauce combined with the shredded roast turkey and sweet cranberry sauce makes for a light sweet flavour, combined with the savoury, salty pastry top it really is something special.

print recipe
Leftover Turkey and Cranberry Filo Pie.
A great way to use up leftover Christmas turkey and cranberry sauce.
Ingredients
  • 150-200g Roast Turkey
  • 200ml Creme Fraiche
  • 2 tablespoons Cranberry Sauce
  • 2 sheets Filo Pastry (shop bought)
  • Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • A splash Olive Oil
Instructions
Combine the shredded turkey and creme fraiche.

Spoon the cranberry sauce into the mixture and gently stir, you still want lumps of cranberry sauce visible.

Spoon the mixture into an individual pie dish and scatter the parsley on top.

Brush the filo sheets with olive oil and scrunch/place on top of the filling, be sure to cover the filling completely, then scatter with sea salt.

Cook at 180C for 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Many thanks to Knorr and Foreman and Field for the wonderful hamper which helped to create this recipe.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

A Very Merry Christmas 2012.

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Isn't it funny how we spend months and months planning, shopping, preparing and before you know it, it's all over.

Don't get me wrong I love Christmas and part of the excitement is the build up, but I just wish the day itself would be longer! I want more time to cook, more time to drink bucks fizz and open presents, I want it all... again! (Excuse me while I have a straight leg toddler tantrum.)

anyway, back to business. How was your Christmas?

Mine was just lovely! I was lucky enough to have two Christmas days this year, one at home with the boyfriend, and one down in Suffolk with my sister and auntie.

My home Christmas was perfect, relaxing, romantic and with enough food for about 12 people! I was lucky enough to be sent a Christmas hamper from Knorr. This wonderful box of seasonal food contained pretty much everything you need for a Christmas feast, including a Seldom Seen Farm Turkey, Longman's Farm Butter, Emmett's Mild Cure Back Bacon, Foreman and Field Christmas Stuffing,Chapel Down Nectar Dessert Wine, Mince Pies and Knorr Gravy Pots.

I have never cooked a roast of this size, and was pretty nervous but was delighted with how it turned out. The butter and bacon kept the meat moist and there was enough leftovers for the following 5 days of meals! (crazy!)

Our dinner was just perfect and as you can see from Paulie's face, he was very pleased. Alongside our monster turkey we had both roast and mash potatoes, mashed turnip, carrots, yorkshire puddings, stuffing balls and knorr gravy.


Special shout out to Knorr Chicken Gravy Pots, so easy to use and not a lump in sight!

I *may* have made a bit much for just two people, but it meant I got to get creative with left overs. I made Turkey and Cranberry pies, turkey enchiladas, sausage meat balls and spaghetti... Alongside many sandwiches and snacks.

It is now nearly January and we have just run out of leftovers, the sign of the perfect Christmas dinner if you ask me!

My second Christmas took place in Suffolk with my family. My sister's (pictured) birthday is on the 20th of December so we had a double celebration. We had a lovely meal at a local restaurant for my sister's birthday and went to watch a Christmas Spectacular show in Snape Maltings (There is actually a place called Snape! My inner Harry Potter geek was thrilled, sadly it was too dark to get a photo of the sign.

While we were down south my Auntie was having a clearout out and I scored massively! I got boxes full of china and bakeware, I'll blog about this haul very soon.

I was very blessed in the present department, I got some lovely cookbooks, cake carrier and tin from lakeland, smellies, booze and yankee candles. I am a very lucky girl!

As always Christmas was all about the games, I was victorious once again in Scrabble, Monopoly AND Cluedo, not that I am overly competitive in the slightest...

So, I hope you all had a lovely day and Happy New Year to all my lovely readers!

Friday, 14 December 2012

An alternative to Mince Pies at Christmas - Mulled Wine & Cranberry Frangipane Pies.

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I love Christmas, when it comes to this time of year I am a huge kid and love pretty much all things Christmas related, with the exception of mince pies and Christmas cake, something about all that dried fruit just really doesn't appeal to me. I love the idea of sitting by a roaring fire (or in my case a radiator) with a nice hot toddy and a mince pie but in practice I just can't stomach them! Bleugh.

This year I decided to try and find a suitably Christmassy alternative. I have a million ideas swimming around in my brain but the one which sprang to mind first was some sort of Christmas style bakewell tart. After seeing some cranberries on special in my local Tesco, the recipe was starting to take shape

It was one of those recipes which I sort of made up as I went, I love having a good mad scientist style experiment in the kitchen. It doesn't always pay off but when it does... Oh boy!

I stewed my cranberries in mulled wine and spices for nearly two hours, reducing it to a sticky syrup which tastes EXACTLY like Christmas. *win*

The pastry is crisp, sweet and gently flavoured with ginger and the almond frangipane blanket tops off the whole affair perfectly.

I had a friend over when I was baking, so a few glasses of wine meant that mine were in the oven a smidge too long, but dust with icing sugar and no one is any the wiser! Right?

Without further ado, onto the recipe...

print recipe
Mulled Wine & Cranberry Frangipane Pies.
A great alternative to a mince pie.
For the pastry
  • 225g Plain Flour
  • 25g Ground Almonds
  • 55g Icing Sugar
  • 180g Cold, cubed butter
  • 2 medium egg yolks
  • 30-40ml Ice cold water
  • half a teaspoon Ground ginger
For the frangipane
  • 100g Melted butter
  • 100g Caster sugar
  • 100g Ground almonds
  • 100g Semolina
  • 2 Beaten eggs
  • Handful Flaked almonds
For the Jam
  • 100-150g Fresh Cranberries (could use frozen)
  • Half a bottle Mulled wine
  • 75g Caster Sugar
  • pinches Various christmassy spices
Instructions
Pastry

1. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl or kitchen aid style mixer.
2. Add the cubed butter and rub until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
3. Add the egg yolks and water and bring it all together into a dough, try not to handle too much. I usually tip the whole lot into a sandwich bag and put it straight in the fridge for 20 minutes.
4. Once chilled, roll out and cut into circles and line a greased 12 hole muffin tin (see picture).

Frangipane

1. Melt the butter and allow to cool.
2. Add the eggs and mix well.
3. Fold in the dry ingredients. The mixture should be thick and golden.

Mulled wine & cranberry jam.

1. Pop all the ingredients into a pan and simmer for around 1.5 hours, until thickened and syrupy.

Now all you need to do is pop a spoonful of jam in the bottom of each tart, cover with the frangipane (try to cover the jam completely to avoid it boiling out when baking). Sprinkle flaked almonds on the top and bake at 180C for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and delicious!

Don't forget the liberal sprinkling of icing sugar!

I took these little pies to Private Pie's first birthday party on Thursday night, they went down a treat but were a little humbled by the delicious offerings everyone else brought, more on this another time.

Stay tuned for more alternative christmas bakes in the next week

I've added this recipe to the fresh cranberry link up on Blue Kitchen Bakes, check it out for more fresh cranberry recipes.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Meal Planning Monday - 10th December.

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It slowly creeping closer to christmas, the closer it gets the more disorganised I seem to get! I mean I have all the meals for Christmas planned but nothing for the days leading up to or after! I seem to just be focusing on Christmas Eve and the day itself. This is all well and good, but we do need to eat everyday...

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Gingerbread House Challenge 2012.

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Last Sunday I took part in a fantastic charity event in Newcastle. It was a Gingerbread House Challenge organised by Lisa from Newcastle Clandestine Cake Club. This wonderful event was to raise money for the Sick Children's Trust, a really important charity which works to provide a home from home for families with children in hospital.

The event itself was amazing! So many people turned up, there was over 30 gingerbread houses entered and the venue was jam packed. There was also a raffle and various games like guess the weight of the cake etc...

Monday, 3 December 2012

Meal Planning Monday - 3rd December.

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I have quite frankly been an atrocious meal planner of late. I just got myself in one of those vicious cycles of laziness and comfort eating. With christmas around the corner I really need to start planning my christmas food and making space in freezers etc...

So I am back on the planning-wagon and raring to go, no more late night chippy teas for this food blogger!...

Friday, 30 November 2012

Pie Pops - A Crazy Idea?

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I have been a proud and slightly obsessive member of Newcastle's Clandestine Cake Club for nearly a year now, and just adore the concept of meeting likeminded baking-addicts in my local area, as well as eating copious amounts of cake.

Following the success of the CCC a few other baking related clubs have sprung up all over Newcastle (and the north-east). I have thouroughly enjoyed attending each and every one. My two particular favourites have been Private Pie Club and the Singing Hinnies & Fat Rascals Bake Club. I have met so many lovely people, had company to a plethora of local foodie events and feel like we are building quite a foodie network in the notorious NE.

For the most recent Singing Hinnies meeting I was stumped on what to bake! The theme was comfort food and all I could think about was pie. However, I knew a lot of the other Hinnies would be baking pastry wonders and wanted to try something completely new and different...

Thursday, 29 November 2012

London in November - A Foodie Adventure.

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Earlier this month I jetted off (Well, train-ed off) to our capital city for 3 days of fun! Even though I booked the tickets well in advance I wasn't particularly organised. My packing was done hurriedly in the morning and I had no actual firm plans of what I was going to do over the three days.
In hindsight I would probably have planned a few more things but it felt great to be flying by the seat of my pants and being spontaneous.

The main reason for my visit was to attend an AWOT event, for those who may not be aware AWOT stands of Awesome Women of Twitter. I have been following them on twitter for a while and really wanted to go down and meet everyone. The lovely Amy, who I have been chatting to on twitter forever offered me a bed for the two nights I was down there, which I will be forever grateful for!

I arrived in London at around 3pm, so met the gorgeous Roswen for a quick coffee and catch up, it is so funny meeting people who you have been online friends with for so long, it was like meeting an old friend and we just chatted and put the world to rights! So great to finally meet one of my favourite bloggers.

The only picture I took all night, must of been having too much fun!

After a quick and very delicious dinner at Amy's flat, we headed to The Liberty Lounge in Shoreditch....

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Bread Baking & Me.

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I love baking, this is no secret. I find the act of making something by hand, from scratch quite therapeutic and dare I say relaxing. One particular branch of the baking family however I struggle with; Bread.

I find my break baking so hit and miss that the idea of making bread tends to fill me with dread and anxiety. Mainly as the recipe tends to use a lot of flour I feel like it is such a waste if I end up with some brick-like loaf not fit to feed the ducks with!

So I don't often make bread, pizza dough and the occasional white loaf is as far as I go. After watching The Great British Bake Off I felt inspired to try and plaited loaf, it seemed like a fairly easy way to create quite a fancy looking finish. I wasn't quite up for the full 8 strand challenge but a 3 strand-er seemed the best place to start...

Thursday, 11 October 2012

September - Where did you go?

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Oh September, what a fickle month you have been!

It seems about 5 minutes ago I was pinching and punching people on the first of the month and now I am suddenly in October and wondering what on earth happened?!

I suppose the downside of working for a university is that September is busy busy busy, long days at work followed by shamefully early nights. Having said that when I look back over the month I actually managed to squeeze in a bit of a social life too! Unfortunately blogging took a bit of a back seat but que sera sera...

So here is what I got up to this month in handy instagram-style

Monday, 10 September 2012

Meal Planning Monday - 10th September

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I am back on the meal plan bandwagon after a rather depressing month or so off. Everything went a bit pear shaped after my birthday week and I because a little lazy and disinterested in cooking. I was sick of having to be in charge of meals so went on strike.

We ended up spending far too much on takeaway, and sporadic mid-week shopping, so finally last week the boyfriend begged me to start meal planning again. So here it is...


Monday: Turkey Chilli with rice
Tuesday: Tuna pasta bake
Wednesday: Chicken Thighs and potato croquettes
Thursday: Ravioli on toast/ egg on toast or (sort yourself out night)
Friday: Sausage and bean casserole
Saturday: Bacon Sandwiches for breakfast/lunch and then leftover casserole for dinner.
Sunday: Chicken dinner at around 2pm.


It is pretty straight forward, pretty healthy and I have all the ingredients in the house from last weeks food shop.

I have even created a monthly excel spreadsheet totting up my weekly spend and which helps me create my online shopping list (yes, I am a geek).

How do you plan your weekly meals? Do you plan or wing it? Any money saving tips would be loved also....

I understand some may find these posts boring as there is no recipes but it is as much a tool for me to keep on top of everything and to refer back to when feeling uninspired.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Malteasers - The lighter way to enjoy Cupcakes.

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I baked these little beauties back in June, I fancied experimenting with flavours and as Malteasers are completely amazingly addictive and basically chocolate covered crack I thought I would try to make a Malteaser-type cupcake!

Initially I didn't just want to put Malteasers into a cupcake, I wanted to recreate the flavour of the malty honeycomb in the sponge. I scratched around my cupboards looking for inspiration and found a few sachets of Horlicks lurking right at the back of my spice shelf, who knows how or why it came to be there but it was perfect!

The addition of horlicks added a really lovely subtle malt flavour to the sponge but they weren't massively "horlicks-y" which was just what I was going for. The flavour was lovely but the best bit was the smell. The smell of horlicks is something I find quite comforting, and add that to the already comforting smell of freshly baked and cake and your onto a winner.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Peach Melba and Pistachio Mini Upside Down Cakes.

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As expected I have been completely inspired by The Great British Bake Off. The same thing happened last year, as soon as the first episode hit my tellybox I head for the kitchen to recreate some of their best recipes in my own special way.

The first episode the contestants made an upside down cake, rum babas and a hidden design cake. I personally thought this episode was a toughie and huge round of applause to the lovely contestants for making some lovely cakes! Although non of their hidden designs were as cool as this Damien Hirst creation by Jules over at Butcher, Baker.

Being a bit rusty in the kitchen I decided to opt for the slightly easier upside down cake, although rum babas are now firmly on my to-bake list. Alongside my bake-off obsession I am also having a slight love affair with the gloriously juicy peaches around at the moment. I was recently introduced to the wonderful Doughnut Peach (sometimes know as a flat peach or a Saturn peach). These weird looking bad boys are simply amazing, so juicy and flavourful. Unlike your standard peach, these squished-looking cousins are a lot sweeter, the skin is a little thinner and less fuzzy, and the stone is teeny tiny and much easier to cut out. They also have a wonderful almondy/nutty flavour about them which is simply divine!...

Monday, 27 August 2012

Homemade Marshmallows

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I got a lovely sugar thermometer for Christmas, I had such great plans of making jams and caramel and other delights which require boiling sugar to a specific temperature. So of course I popped it in my baking cupboard and promptly forgot I had it!

I would see recipes which required a thermometer and disregard them thinking I couldn't possibly make it without a thermometer! What a scatter-brain baker I am.

So the other day I was rummaging deep into my baking cupboard looking for Tupperware lids (I always end up with lots of boxes and no lids! How?) I came across this bizarre metal device... MY THERMOMETER!

This little find came at such a great time as I was just in the mood to do something new and exciting! I had seen Helen from Fuss Free Flavours talking about marshmallows on twitter and really wanted to give them a go, then I spied Niamh from Eat Like A Girl had blogged a really great recipe which explained exactly what each part did and how they worked (I love a bit of recipe science)...

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

We're all going on a summer holiday...

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I have been a little absent from the world of blogging recently. I really feel that blogging is a cyclical thing for me, some months I am hugely inspired and type, type, type, type away to my hearts content and post 20+ posts. Then some months I just have nothing to say and spend the whole time racked with guilt over it.

Don't get me wrong, I love my blog, my readers and having a forum to write about all the things I love, but occasionally I don't really feel like baking, or writing much and its taken me a while to realise that its OK not to blog so much one month.

So, with that in mind I am taking a little blogging holiday.

I will be back in September with some yummy recipes and stories to tell.

Have a beautiful summer!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Pop Chips - A Healthier way to snack. (Giveaway)

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So as you may know by now I am on a diet, while I will still enjoy the occasional cake-based treat, I need to spend some time becoming more balanced and healthy. One of my biggest weaknesses is crisps, I love nothing more than sitting down to watch a movie with a share bag of kettle chips or a bloody great bag of Doritos. Also, a lunchtime sandwich just isn't complete without a nice bag of cheese and onion walkers! Am I right?

When I started Weight Watchers it didnt take long for me to check the points of my favourite snacks and to be perfectly honest I was shocked! 15-20pp for a share bag, 5-9pp for a regular shop bought bag of crisps! I just couldn't afford the points! *sobs*

I started to experiment with "healthier" alternatives, which frankly went from bland to blander, oven baked, rice cakes, wholegrain I tried it all but none could fill the whole in my heart (exaggeration alert) left by the humble crisp.

Enter Popchips... I was apprehensive as my previous experience of healthy crisps had not been pleasant, but when the lovely people at Popchips offered to send me some freebies to try and review I bit their arm off (almost literally).

I was pleasantly surprised, I am not going to say they completely measure up to the mighty Kettle Chip or a full fat variety of your choosing but they were delicious! Packed full of flavour with an interesting texture. The chips are not baked or fried but popped.

"Popchips are popped with heat and pressure to make a naturally delicious crisp with all the flavour and less than half the fat of fried crisps, fewer calories and none of the fake colours or flavours (or greasy fingers) that gives snacking a bad name."

Despite reading all the websites and press releases I am still in the dark as to what "popping" entails, but however they manage it they have created a healthy snack alternative to my favourite crisps, so thank you Popchips!

For those Weight Watchers out there, a 23g bag of popchips is just 3pp and you seem to get more for your points than with baked crisps as they are lighter in weight.

So if you fancy giving them a go you can... Popchips – single serve and share bag - are available in five taste-bud popping flavours, including original, barbeque, salt & vinegar, sour cream & onion and salt & pepper. you’ll find them in waitrose and in selected retailers including whole foods, whsmith (stations and airports), planet organic, selfridges, harvey nichols, and costco. you can also order popchips from the comfort of your sofa through ocado.com or amazon.co.uk




Now for the exciting bit...

The people at popchips are giving ONE lucky reader the chance to win 24 single serve bags of popchips!

To enter simply leave a comment below telling me your favourite snack food. It is as simple as that!

For an additional entry simply tweet " I have entered @nellyscupcakes #popchips giveaway, its pretty awesome: http://www.nellyscupcakes.co.uk "

(feel free to adlib on the tweet, it will still count, just be sure to include a link!)

Make sure you leave a Separate comment below telling me you have done so (including your twitter username)

Unfortunately this competition is only open to UK residents.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

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If you'd asked me about the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in April I would of enthused about all the wonderful baking I had planned and events I'd like to attend/organise, I would of gone on alarmingly about all the union jack themed bakes and regal inspired cakes I had planned. Now that it is right around the corner I have lost all my enthusiasm.

I am quite frankly a little sick of union jack bunting and if I never see another crown as long as I live it will possibly be too soon. I know, I know, I am being a complete scrooge but if challenged I will simply throw an epic straight-legged toddler tantrum.

OK, so I admit, I may just be letting recent real life events get in the way of my usual excitement for all things royal, but at this point in time I really don't care.

On top of the recent anniversary, we had to put our beloved cat to sleep on Monday. She had been poorly for a while and at the grand old age of 16 it didn't look too hopeful. I have never in my life experienced something so horrible as watching the vet do the deed, and my house feels empty and weird without her little jingly bell and persistent mewing.

So, I can only apologize for my complete lack of jubilee excitement, so when it came to choosing a Nigella recipe for this months Forever Nigella (which I am hosting) I was at a complete loss, and put it off till the very last minute.

I decided to just bake a classic, carrot cake, I mean who doesn't love carrot cake? I bet the Queen LOVES carrot cake (possibly).

Carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

I stuck exactly to Nigella's recipe in "How to be a domestic goddess". The cupcakes were light and comforting, with a subtle hint of cinnamon. The cream cheese frosting was amazing, I do love a good cream cheese frosting. Highly recommend everyone to make these cupcakes if you ever need to cheer someone up, worked a treat for me.

Sincerest apologies to Sarah at Maison Cupcake for my lack-lustre hosting skills this month, I really should of planned better and thought about how hard this month might be for me.

Stay tuned for the round up of everyone who entered Forever Nigella this month which will be posted over the Bank Holiday Weekend.

Happy Baking

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Baked by me - Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies

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It's been a tough couple of weeks for me, so I have been spending a lot of time in my kitchen. I have about 12 blog posts waiting to be written, that is how much time I have spent baking recently! What can I say? It's therapeutic! Thankfully for my waistline I haven't been eating everything I've baked, the boyfriends colleagues have been very well fed this week!

One of the most well received things I baked this week was actually from a premade mix! Not you every day Betty Crocker supermarket mix, but a wonderful jar mix from Baked by me.

Baked by Me is a company based in the North East of England which specialises in cookie/biscuit mixes. Their lovingly prepared mixes are made from the finest of ingredients and would make the perfect gift for someone special (who loves to bake).

I ordered the Oatmeal and Raisin cookies, as they are a particular favourite of the boyfriend. He has been very patient and understanding of my bad mood recently so deserved a special treat.

Making these biscuits could not be more simple, all you need to do is add a little softened butter and an egg, mix it all together and chill, even at this pre-cooked stage it smelled amazing. There is something so comforting about the smell of cinnamon isn't there?

Once the mixture had chilled in the fridge for 30 minutes, I simply shaped them into walnut sized balls and place them on a lined baking tray.

12-15 minutes later my house smelled like pure happiness and these little beauties were ready.

They were very soft when they came out, but I was patient as the instructions suggested and once they were fully cooled we tested them...

They were just perfect, a good crunch on the outside, soft and ever so slightly chewy in the middle, the plump raisins were studded throughout and the cinnamon flavour was perfectly complimentary.

An added bonus to this lovely cookie mix, the great quality jar you are left with! Mine is now sat proudly on a shelf filled with ground almonds! So very useful.

I would highly recommend these mixes if your looking for a lovely gift for someone, they have a lot of great flavours like, toblerone, malteaser, caramel mocha, white choc chip... to name but a few. To see their full range do check out their website here.

I recieved my cookie mix for free for the purposes of this review

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