I have noticed that so many of you are getting ready for the cooler months of autumn. What a fabulous season it is! For me it’s grabbing a soft blanket, getting snuggly on the sofa with a cuppa & a biscuit or two and watching the change of the season from the warmth of my own home. There is something so comforting and ‘hygge’ about coming in from the cold & bunkering down at home as the weather turns.
Nothing is more homelier or hygge inspired than good old fashioned homemade baking. Since Wildfox Home is all about the feeling of home, I figured that this month’s blog was a great time to share with you one of my favourite recipes - Helen’s Chocolate Chip Cookies! I have used this recipe for years and it NEVER fails to disappoint. For those of you on a strict weight loss diet, I would advise you look away now. As for the rest of you who don’t mind indulging in a little comfort eating this autumn, please read on….
Now I’m a bit of a lazy baker so I use my free standing mixer for the majority of this recipe. If you prefer to use the a traditional spoon and bowl method, please be my guest. However, the mixture does form into a stiff dough eventually so don’t say you weren’t warned! (Unless you have arms like Popeye, then please carry on as you were).
225g unsalted softened butter
225g caster sugar
170g condensed milk
350g self-raising flour
100g chocolate chunks (dark, milk or white – whatever your preference)
Throw the butter and sugar into the mixer bowl and get your machine creaming the two together for a couple of minutes.
Add the condensed milk and stir in well.
Sift the flour and add to the mix, working it in well. It should form a stiff dough. (Now you know why I mentioned the free standing mixer)
Finally add the chocolate chunks and stir into the dough. I find it easier to use a dough hook and set the machine to a low setting to work these chunks in.
Set out 2 square pieces of cling film or foil. Divide the cookie dough in half and place each half onto a square of cling film / foil.
Now the fun bit (the kids will like this). Using the cling film, so the dough doesn’t stick to your hands, roll and form the dough into a thick sausage shape. Wrap and seal the cookie dough sausage shape in the cling film and leave in the fridge for at least 2 hours to chill and harden.
Preheat your oven to 180 C and put a sheet of greaseproof paper onto a baking tray.
Remove the cookie dough from the fridge and peel off the cling film.
Cut off slices about 1.5 - 2cm thick and place onto the baking tray. You should get about 25 – 30 cookies in total.
Bake in batches for 12 – 15 minutes or until the outer edges are golden and the centre is still soft and pale. Don’t over bake them here. They will set, I promise.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.
Get yourself into some comfy lounge wear, make yourself a mug of warming brew, and enjoy your cookies!
See! Easy peasy lemon squeezy! Let me know how you get on with making your cookies or how you like to eat yours by leaving a comment below.
Hello Wildfox Home Friends. I hope you have been keeping well?
The past 3-4 months have been an interesting and challenging time here at Wildfox HQ. After lots of procrastinating, to-ing and fro-ing and facing the biggest ‘What if?’ debate in my already crammed disarray head, I decided it was time to dip my toe in the water and design and produce my own range of homeware products. Yay!
Now, there will be lots of blogs and posts coming up about my experience with this whole new challenge. I won’t sugar coat the experience (I promise) and I will tell you all about it warts and all! After all, we are all about raw honesty here.
Let’s kick start with the trickiest area of new product development – the packaging!
Now like a good student, I listened to my business mentors (aka my husband and a close friend) and dutifully followed their advice on doing some market research first. Off I trotted and drew up a comprehensive list on Survey monkey asking all sorts of things including the question “How important is branded packaging to you?”
Well…. the response was rather surprising! 40% of the lovely people who took part in the survey said packaging was ‘Somewhat Important’, whereas 38% of people said it was ‘not so important’. When you compare it to only 2% of people thinking that product packaging was ‘extremely important’, it was a certainly an eye opener!
This really got me thinking… the shift in attitude towards product packaging has changed far more then I had given people credit for! We hear about sustainable packaging all the time through media channels. Clearly more and more people are becoming seriously conscientious of product packaging and its necessity, or not. The good message it getting through peeps!
However, packaging is not just about making the end product look super fabulous. It also has to serve a practical purpose. In this online digital age, we are accepting goods delivered directly to our front door more and more. Therefore, the packaging has the important job of protecting your precious goodies whilst going through an often rigorous journey with the delivery companies.
Thirdly, there is the important factor of using one’s brand logo. When you order or gift a product from yours truly, I WANT you to know where it has come from. I’m sorry (not sorry) folks, but after months of hard work I want to make sure that I take all the credit for any Wildfox Home signature range products that reach and delight you!
Finally, there is a cost element to packaging. We live in, let’s say, ‘trying’ financial times where we have to watch the pennies to save the pounds. Consumers and businesses alike need to find the best value for money on nearly everything. This was also an area that gave me lot to mull over. Can you see now why my head gets overloaded?
To summarise the blurb above, I needed packaging that was
a) as sustainable as possible
b) offer product protection
c) included branding / logo
d) cost effective.
Oh, then the real fun began!
There were two signature range products that gave me the biggest headache when it came to packaging. I could go into the detail of how I planned the packaging of all the new products but I appreciate you all have busy lives and more interesting things to do or read.
The biggest issue came about because I had decided to have four individual coasters to make up the set. It occurred to me that as a consumer, you would want to know exactly what you are getting when spending your hard earned dosh. Therefore, I knew it was important for my customers and recipients to be able to see each individual design within the packaging. The set of four needed to be kept together (so they didn’t get separated and mixed up) but needed to be grouped in a way that was as visual as possible. WEEKS I spent on this dilemma. Honestly! It was weeks!!!
I wanted to use a sustainable cardboard box, I really did! However, the cardboard packaging currently available for coaster sets meant that only one design/ the coaster on the top would be visible. I am 99.9% sure that the 4 different coaster designs would delight you all. However, I didn’t want you to get home from one of our shopping events to the discover that your coasters are not all the same cute little house but four individual ones instead. I am highly confident that you would not be disappointed with your new purchase, but as a seller I like to know that YOU know exactly what you are getting for your buck.
The solution I eventually came up with was not perfect, but at best, adequate for its purpose.
The packaging that fitted the majority of needs (see points b, c & d above) for the coasters is acetate. Now, I know what you are thinking. Its’s plastic (boo!). But before you chastise me and condemn me to the flames of hell licking my butt, hear me out!
I realised quite quickly that I knew nothing about acetate so in the interest of ‘getting to know my packaging’ I fired up my laptop and knuckled down to some research.
In a nutshell, and without getting into the wibbly wobbly scientific bits that neither of us will understand, acetate or cellulose acetate as it is also known as, uses cotton lint and wood pulps. It is classified as a natural plastic and so is therefore 100% recyclable. Because it is a renewable material it provides an eco-friendly alternative to those naughty petroleum-based plastics that we don’t like. Feel free to google it if you want to know more!
If another suitable alternative packaging for coasters becomes available, please do let me know. I will be all ears!
The main criteria for this one is to ship these ceramics without them getting damaged – always a challenge from my experience! My original plan was to use 2 cardboard boxes. A simple single walled box, with the logo and product information on it which would then be placed inside a mug postal box with reinforced sides.
I tried sooooo hard to get the cost of two boxes down to a minimum, for both yours and my sakes. However, I couldn’t reach that magic number – grrrr! It was then that I remembered the majority of the good people who filled out my survey said that packaging was somewhat important to not so important. Why did I need that first single walled cardboard box? It was only to make the end result look pretty. It didn’t serve any real protective purpose and once the recipient of that marvellous mug had removed it from that box, the said box would be relegated to bin! Why waste that cost?
Based on that change of heart, I sourced the nicest mug postal box I could find, added the logo and product info and ta-dah – job done! Okay, I know it looks a bit like your Granny putting lipstick on her unwaxed lip but it’s functional, its presentable and it serves a purpose! I simply pop the boxed mug into a polythene mailing bag (made from recycled material I might add) and the job is a goodun!
So there you have it. A brief and if not brutally honest account of the work that has gone into putting together just a small part of this new range. I hope I have given you some understanding into what goes in to my small online mail order business.