Easter Nest Cake


Here is the perfect recipe to try this weekend… 

It’s our family’s Easter tradition – we have it every year since we were little! 

Have a go and don’t forget to tag me on your bakes on instagram – @mariablackstone


6 oz stork margarine (could use proper butter) 

6 oz caster sugar

6 oz self raising flour

3 eggs

1 Tsp vanilla 

2-3 tbsp cocoa

1/2 bar Belgian milk choc

1/4 pint double cream 

4 flakes

Bag mini eggs 


1. Preheat oven to 180*c / 160* fan. Grease and line your tin, I used a ring mould but a deep round 8 inch tin would work well. 
2. Cream the margarine and sugar together until pale and fluffy.

3. Add your eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly in between each one. If it curdles, add a spoonful of your flour.

4. Add your vanilla, then fold in your flour until just combined.

4. Spoon half your mixture into the tin in blobs around the base of your tin.

5. Add a couple of tablespoons of cocoa to the rest of the vanilla mix along with a drop of water (about a tablespoon) and mix together until smooth. It should be a nice chocolatey colour.

6. Add this mixture in blobs in between your vanilla mixture in the tin.

7. Using a skewer or knife, swirl the two mixtures together to create a marbled effect.

8. Bake for 20-25 minutes (dependent on which tin you use, it is cooked when springy to touch and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre. 

9. Leave to cool, meanwhile make your glaze.

10. Melt the milk chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl, either in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water (ensure the bowl does not touch the water) or in short bursts in the microwave. 

11. Once fully melted, leave to cool slightly so the mixture thickens up to a nice pouring consistency – it should be thick enough to coat the cake.

12. Place the cooled cake on a cooling rack with a tray underneath and pour over your glaze. 

13. Once covered, chop up your flakes and top the cake to create a nest effect. 

14. Top with mini eggs, and enjoy!

A girl with an appetite for all things creative, 

Maria x

Banana, cashew butter & dark chocolate tray bake

Baking, Recipes, Uncategorized

Long time, no posting!

I’ve decided that this year I am going to start trying to be kinder to myself.

Yes, I want to loose weight and look great (I am off to Sri Lanka in 4 weeks and still don’t have my bikini body) but as young women there is so much pressure to be a certain way, and I simply get miserable when I realise I don’t fit the bill.

I read an article by Angelica Malin on About Time Magazine. Check it out here – she mentions that we all need a re-tox. A fabulous idea, which got me thinking. Instead of being so hard on myself I will change my outlook on life. I will do more exercise because I enjoy it, and not beat myself up when I’m too tired to go because of my fatigue. I will not eat all the biscuits at work because they are there and I’m bored. However, I will have a few cubes of chocolate in the evening because I really need something to satisfy me. Life is about balance, and if I eat healthy food that I really enjoy, go swimming and to the gym, because this lifts my mood and makes me feel fabulous, I can still eat a slice of cake or a dessert at the weekend because I really want it.

We all need to be kinder to ourselves. We all have busy lives, life is too short to spend hours in the gym, and deprive yourself of that bit of cake that you REALLY want but shouldn’t eat because your Instagram feed is full of pictures of girls that have better bodies than you.

Saying no to something simply makes us feel guilty when we do have it, and we only want it all the more because someone tells us we shouldn’t. So have that bit of cake, chocolate bar, or that biscuit that you want to dip into your mid-morning cup of tea. Just don’t go crazy. Life is all about balance!


I wanted to take a picture of something today, and thought about making a banana traybake with some black bananas that have been floating around the fridge for a bit too long. This is made with out sugar or butter/fat so a little bit better for us but still delicious. It has a texture between a traybake and blondie. I had a piece tonight with some warm custard. Really quick and easy to whip up, and great to pack into your lunchbox for an afternoon sweet-treat.



  • 2 ripe bananas – mashed (the blacker the better)
  • 60g sweetener – I used Sukrin Gold, as this is similar to brown sugar. You could substitute this for light brown sugar, or an alternative sweetner.
  • 120g full fat Total Greek yoghurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 5 tablespoons milk
  • 115g cashew butter – you could also use peanut butter
  • 220g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 100g dark chocolate – chopped into chunks
  • 25g chopped, toasted hazelnuts

To decorate – 3-4 cubes dark chocolate, melted


  1. Preheat your oven to 180*c/160*c fan and line a tin with non-stick parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl mix together the banana, sweetener, yoghurt, egg, and milk until well combined.
  3. Add the cashew butter and vanilla extract and mix again.
  4. Fold in the flour, salt and cinnamon.
  5. Mix in the dark chocolate chunks.
  6. Pour the batter into your lined tin, smooth out and push all the way to the corners.
  7. Sprinkle the top with the toasted, chopped hazelnuts
  8. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until it’s springy to touch and a skewer comes out clean.
  9. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Once cool, use a fork to drizzle the top with the melted dark chocolate.



Enjoy it,

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

I have a new camera

Baking, Photography, Uncategorized

I’ve really fell out of routine with my blogging, during the summer I had so much free time and a lot more daylight (good for photography) so creating blog posts was fairly easy and a fun thing to do, then I got sucked into the world of work as a recent graduate and found it hard to find the time. However things are looking up and not only that but they are looking exciting. I have now been offered a job from my internship, and am enjoying having my weekends off after working a part time job at the weekends.

I have also FINALLY bought a new camera, lens and tripod. Something I’ve been saying I want to do since my second year of university. I never had the funds, as it is jolly expensive. With spending a lot of money (especially when you don’t have much) comes a lot of consideration and thinking. I finally jumped in though and got myself a beautiful Nikon D810 and a 50 mm lens. I used it last weekend and photographed these delicious brownies and my, is it a beauty of a camera. I’m excited to continue using it to create lots of beautiful images that I’m proud of.

This post is less of a recipe and more of an update of stuff, because sometimes I need to remind myself of what I’m doing and achieving. I’m currently doing some freelance design/photography work which is going well and it’s lovely to know that others think my work is good enough for them to use for their own endeavors.

I also have just entered the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I know that my chances are slim (or pretty much impossible) with the tough competition out there but as my mum says, to be in it to win it you have to play the game (or something like that, if any of you know my mum she has a saying for EVERYTHING).

I’ll leave you to feast your eyes on these delicious brownies, which were a Meringue Girls recipe from their book, ‘Everything Sweet’. They are made with coconut flour, which is a great gluten free alternative (but still taste extremely guilty). I swirled in some peanut butter and added in some frozen raspberries for some added peanut butter and jelly time. (I used to love that cartoon). They are extremely decadent and are in good competition to my go to Thornton’s brownie recipe.


I will promise to try and be better with this blogging thing!

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Spooky Salted Caramel Shortbread

Baking, Recipes

This is the second of my halloween inspired recipes and this one is super easy and so so delicious. Thankfully, salted caramel is still popular and wasn’t just a phase like we all thought, so this recipe is a cheats version of a caramel shortbread – using a tin of caramel resulting in a softer caramel centre making this a little messier than the standard caramel shortbread but I never heard anyone complaining of having fingers covered in sticky, delicious caramel.

Caramel shortbread is a really nostalgic treat for me. My grandma lives in the Isle of Wight. I have been going there ever since I was small. There is a cafe on the pier at Yarmouth called Gossips. I always had, and always will have a caramel slice with a hot drink or milkshake or regret my choice when I decide to be adventurous and try something else. That’s what I love about food – it evokes memory’s and fun times from our childhood, or time spent with family, friends and loved ones. So this is my version, although I’d like to add it doesn’t quite match Gossip’s but it is delicious in its own way.

I used white chocolate to create the cobweb design on top, but this can be eaten any time of year. You could simply marble the milk and white chocolate into a swirly design, or just use milk chocolate for a plain, simple finish.


225g plain flour

175g unsalted butter, cold and cubed

75g caster sugar

1 x 397g tin of Carnation caramel

200g milk belgian chocolate

A few cubes of white belgian chocolate


  1. Start by making the shortbread base. Rub together the butter and flour with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar, and then press firmly into the base of your tin lined with a piece of greaseproof paper. I used an oblong tin, but a 9 inch square tin would work well.
  2. Put the caramel into a bowl and mix in 1/2 tsp of fine sea salt then – I ground mine with a pestle and mortar. Pour this caramel mixture onto the cooled shortbread base, spread evenly and place in the fridge to firm up slightly. It won’t go solid as using a tin of caramel results in a softer finsih.
  3. Remove the shortbread from the fridge and melt your chocolate. You can use a microwave on a low power or melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Once melted, pour the chocolate onto the caramel and smooth over to create an even surface.
  4. Melt a few cubes of white chocolate and whilst still warm, using a piping bag pipe semi circles on the melted milk chocolate. Then use a cocktail stick to drag lines across the semi circles to feather the chocolate and create cobweb design. Alternatively, you could simply just pipe lines to create the cobwebs.
  5. Place in the fridge to set, and once the chocolate has hardened, you can cut into small squares, or bars to serve.

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This is a very indulgent treat, that is truly delicous to devour with loved ones over the Halloween weekend, or any time of the year when you want a sweet, naughty treat.

After a bit of makeup practice, and some online shopping I think I have sorted my self some kind of outfit for a Halloween party I’m going to. I just hope no one asks what I am, as I’m not too sure myself. I will post a picture next week! I’m aiming for something ‘Day of the Dead’ inspired. We will see…

Enjoy your weekend, whether your raving or behaving.

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Chocolate Orange Truffles

Food, Recipes

Hello lovely readers!

First of all I want to apologise for not posting in a while.

As you know I started my new part time job and internship meaning I was working seven days a week and I underestimated how tired I’d actually be. It was also my graduation last week so I was trying to get ready for that – paint nails, prep outfits and pack (all the girly things haha).

I’ve also been more anxious than ever so have been dealing with that too, so although I had a recipe prepared to post, it hasn’t been my priority so I’m sorry for that.

This recipe is for some chocolate orange truffles. Perfect for gifts to friends and loved ones. I was inspired for this recipe by some truffles I continue to buy, by Monty Bejangles. They are so rich and luxurious. Also, my friends have been amazing to me recently and they definitely deserved a treat. A thank you goes out to my official taste testers Ally & Ellie.

This recipe is super easy, and requires little effort – just a bit of setting time and getting your hands a little chocolatey. But who ever said being covered in chocolate was a bad thing?!

Makes about 30 dependent on size.


200g chocolate – I used a mix of milk and dark.

100ml double cream.

Few drops of orange extract – I used Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Valencian Orange Extract.

Cocoa powder for dusting – you could use nuts too if you like


1. Heat the cream in a sauce pan until it is hot but not boiling.

2. Meanwhile, chop the chocolate and place in a bowl – I used a larger but shallower bowl so that it would set quicker in the fridge.

3. Pour the cream over the chocolate and add the orange extract. Alternatively you could use the zest or experiment with your own flavour combinations.

4. Stir together until the chocolate is fully melted and combined. You may need to reheat the mix so you can place over a bowl of simmering water, or zap in the microwave on a low power – be careful not to burn it!

5. Leave to set in the fridge until firm. This should take about 4 hours but you can leave it overnight if you wish.

6. When ready to shape, sift some cocoa powder on to a plate to roll your truffles in. You could also use ground or flaked almonds or a nut of your choice. Take a small spoon of the mixture and roll into your desired shape. You may find dusting your hands with cocoa reduces the chocolatey melty mess. You can make them whatever shape you wish. Roll in the cocoa powder to cover completely.

7. Place back in the fridge to set. Serve when firm and ready for an indulgent homemade treat. Perfect with coffee or like I did, a glass of wine with my dear friends.

Why not give these a try, they make perfect presents wrapped up in cellophane with a nice ribbon and hand written tag. You can experiment with your own flavours, shapes and toppings and really personalise them. I hope you enjoy them as much as my friends and I did.

Next week I will tell you all about my graduation. A little late I know but I want to tell you all about my incredible day, and the delicious food I ate.

Hope you’re all very well, and again apologies for the delay in posting, please don’t hate me forever.

A girl with a creative appetite,

Maria x

Fireworks Night

Baking, Food, Recipes

On the 8th November, we had our local firework display. I hadn’t been to this in a few years as I was always at university, but luckily I was home this weekend. So I asked mum if we could do what we used to always do, and have a dinner party after the display with close friends. On the Friday, I got up and made homemade chilli con carne, two huge pots of it. As always we do too much. I also made some chocolate pastry for a tart I wanted to make which was a recipe from Tom Kerridge’s series ‘Best Ever Dishes’. Click here to view and make the recipe yourself. I used the pastry recipe, and the chocolate filling recipe, but changed up the decoration, as I wanted to keep it to an autumnal theme bearing in mind the occasion. This, for me is the great thing about cooking. You can take a recipe and use it as a base and experiment and change up the decoration to give it your own personal creative flare, make it your own.

Using the spare egg whites, left over from the pastry I decided to make some meringue mushrooms. I had an idea influenced by the Meringue Girls, and also Rachel Khoo’s recipe to make a ‘forest floor’. So I piped out mushrooms and dusted the tops with cocoa powder. I then assembled the bases and tops using a bit of left over ganache, once they were baked. I assembled the tart the next day.

The Saturday afternoon after our trip to London, we prepared some mini roast potatoes with rosemary, homemade guacamole, homemade salsa, and served all this with a salad, green beans, rice and sour cream with some fresh bread from Bread Ahead that we bought at the market earlier in the day. I then assembled my tart, by pouring the ganache in the case, adding the mushrooms, and added some crushed up pastry (trimmings) and some crushed amaretti biscuits to look like soil, and added some tiny mint leaves. Because of the amaretto liquor, this would go great as a dessert or a slice with coffee. It is rich and indulgent. Mum also made her signature lemon meringue pie, which always goes down a treat. After a few bottles of wine, some lovely food and lots of conversation with dear friends, they left and we headed to bed after clearing up.

Below is my tart.

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x