The Chocolate Show, London Olympia - October 16-18th 2015

I’m very sorry to all my readers (apparently someone actually reads my dribble) for my lack of blog entries this year. I don’t know where the time has gone, but I’ve had a fantastic year so far and unfortunately my blogging has been put to one side. I have taken on a few new endeavours and my focus was to be selfish and to do other things that I enjoy and it’s worked out fabulously. More on that later…on to the Chocolate Show

I was very lucky to be asked to attend the VIP preview evening to witness the Chocolate Fashion Show, featuring couture outfits made of and inspired by chocolate (including one from The Fat Duck) and an exclusive performance from Charlie & The Chocolate Factory The Musical's Charlie Bucket and Willie Wonka and the Spice Boys.
On arrival I was excited to receive a goodie bag with chocolate treats from a number of the stalls including Valrhona, Jeff de Bruges, Blanxart Chocolate, Barú Chocolate Marshmallows and several more.

My flatmate (come pack-horse) came along to help me try ALL the samples (and consequently carry all our bags).

We were excited to try the new chocolate range from Magnum. Considering how much I love their ice-cream, I was excited to try it out before it hit the shops… although truth be told, as an ice-cream fiend, I would have liked a side of ice-cream – just saying!

There were numerous stalls, but the one that grabbed my attention was the pop-up shop by
Belle Époque Patisserie and their partner Valrhona. Their lady-rep kindly took me through all the desserts they had on display and I settled on the “Dulcey and Fig”.

The dessert reads “Shaped like a pillow this dessert is about comfort. An intense fig compote crackles as you being to feel the soothing sweetness of the Dulcey chocolate melt through. A tribute to the famous fig roll of our childhoods.”

My review – “on nom nom”

I was also very lucky to receive a take home dessert which I will devour this evening. It was called “Four tarts, Four colours” and is a sample of each flavour of Valrhona chocolate on top of a tart.

If you get the chance to head down this weekend I would recommend checking out Paul A Young baking his famous fudgy brownies and GBBO winner Edd Kimber.

My flatmate and I also picked up some treats from the Yum Yum Tree Fudges and some freeze-dried raspberry popping candy from A Little Piece and Love… popping candy isn’t just for kids!

Now I’m off to devour it all…

Happy Baking x

Hazelnut Moments with Choc Berry Filling

This weekend I visited my lovely friend Laura who lives just outside London. We had a lovely weekend driving around the English countryside as she showed me the cute villages around where she lives.

One of my favourite things to do is drive in the countryside and since I can't drive (legally), it's a treat when a friend can take me. We visited a few charity and vintage shops and I wanted to buy all of the tea cups. But I resisted. We also went to a little shop called Bakewell. It was very hard to not load up my basket with a shop worth of baking bits but I managed to come out with just a cake box and THE BEST INVENTION EVER... a reusable non-stick baking mat.


I was kindly given one of these a few years ago. I cut the mat to fit perfectly into my cookie tray meaning no more baking paper (also good for the environment - REDUCE first, recycle second). However, I have two trays! It's been on my list for while, so I was allowed this purchase. If you bake and/or cook regularly these are a must have and I highly recommend. 

Most of friends know I don't ever show up empty handed so I took along these decadent treats to say thanks for having me. I wish I had the non-stick mat before I made them... Make sure you use fresh raspberries and eat them with a fresh pot of tea :)

Hazelnut Moments with Choc Berry Filling

by Women's Weekly Macaroons & Biscuits

90g unsalted butter, softened
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
55g caster sugar
1 egg
50g ground hazelnuts
110g plain flour
25g cocoa powder

For the filling
90g dark eating chocolate, melted
60g unsalted butter, softened
110g Nutella
35g fresh raspberries, chopped coarsely

Beat butter, extract, sugar and egg in a small bowl with an electric mixer until combined. Stir in the ground hazelnuts, then sifted flour and cocoa.
Divide the dough in half; roll each half between sheets of baking paper until 3mm thick. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line oven trays with baking paper.

Cut dough into 4cm fluted rounds; place on trays 2.5cm apart. Bake about 8 minutes. Cool on trays.

Make choc berry filling by beating cooled chocolate, butter and Nutella in a small bowl with an electric mixer until thick and glossy. Fold in the raspberries.

Spoon choc berry filling into piping bags fitted with 2cm fluted tube. Pipe filling onto flat side of half the biscuits; top with remaining biscuits.

Happy Baking x 

Stem Gingernuts

Spring lied to me! 

Saturday morning I woke up early for yoga, to a chilly but mild, bright sunny day. I could see all the way to Ally Pally from the top of my street...

I was only in my yoga class for just over an hour; but by the time I came out it, winter had returned and then sun was nowhere to be seen. I walked home in the cold, without gloves hoping it didn't start to piss down with rain. Luckily I felt so good (if not sore) from my yoga. 

When I got home and after warming up my hands, which had not quite yet turned blue but we're not far off, decided to stay in and bake cookies. 

I had a jar of stem ginger in my fridge and found this gem of a recipe in The Great British Book of Baking. It's a simple recipe that doesn't need any equipment besides a bowl and spoon. 

Fingers crossed Spring returns soon. 

Stem Gingernuts

by The Great British Book of Baking

350g self-raising flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
200g caster sugar
115g unsalted butter
85g golden syrup
1 egg, beaten
35g (2 pieces) stem ginger, drained and finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 170°C 

Sift the flour, ground ginger, bicarbonate of soda and sugar into a mixing bowl. Gently melt the butter with the syrup in a pan over a low heat and set aside until barely warm. Pour this mixture into the mixing bowl, add the beaten egg and the stem ginger and mix with a wooden spoon. When thoroughly combined, roll the mixture into 24 balls, using your hands. 

Arrange on the prepared baking trays, spacing them well apart to allow for spreading. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until good golden brown. Keep an eye on them and, if necessary, turn the trays around halfway through the cooking period so that he biscuits brown evenly. 

Leave the biscuits to cool on the trays for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. 

Store them in an airtight container.

Happy Baking x  

Gluten Free Lemon, Sunflower Seed and Blueberry Muffins

Spring has arrived in London!

We had such amazing weather at the weekend. It was coat off, park walking, beer garden kind of day on Saturday.

My friend Nat and I had already planned a few weeks back to explore one of London's parks and decided to head to Hampstead Heath. I don't think we could have picked a better day. We spent nearly 2 hours walking around the Heath and enjoyed this view from the Top of The Hill before heading to the closest beer garden to enjoy the remained of sun for the day.

Sunday wasn't as sunny, so I decided to do some more baking. I have baked a few recipes from this cookbook, but there are a number of recipes I still wanted to try. I had some leftover sunflower seeds and always have blueberries to hand. The recipe said it would make 8, so I thought I would use my smaller cases to get a few extras. It was so light and fluffy that it made three dozen! The trick with this recipe is to beat the sugar and eggs on high for the full 3 minutes and be careful when mixing in the other ingredients so you don't knock out the air. Did I mention these are also low in fat and gluten free… perfect treat for spring!

Lemon, Sunflower Seed and Blueberry Muffins
by Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache

2 large unwaxed lemons
3 medium free-range eggs
160g caster sugar
250g topped, tailed, peeled and finely grated courgette
180g white rice flour
160g ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
60g sunflower seeds
150g blueberries

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line the muffin tray with paper cases.
Finely grate the lemon zest on to a plate.

Beat the eggs and sugar with an electric beater for a full 3 minutes until pale and creamy coloured. Add the grated courgette and lemon zest and beat again. Set the beaters aside. With the help of a spatula, beat in the flour, ground almonds, baking powder bicarbonate of soda, and salt until they are all mixed in. It is important to works as quickly as you can here. Equally fast, add the sunflower seeds and the blueberries. Give it all a good firm stir.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases so that the mixture (which will be quite lumpy and stiff) comes right  up to the top of each case. Place in the middle of the oven for 35 minutes.

Take the minutes out of the oven and cool on a wire rack. Don't be afraid of a blueberry-stained and slightly cracked muffin top.

Happy Baking x

Cinnamon Toast Cupcakes

Two posts in one week! I'm on fire.

One of my friends on Facebook made these at the weekend and they looked delish, so I couldn't resist making them too. It seems she is obsessed with The Cake Book by Cupcake Jemma as I am.

 The recipe is a bit strange. You actually make buttered toast to go in the mixture as well as to sprinkle on top along with cinnamon sugar.

I still remember when I was about ten discovering the cinnamon/sugar combination and was hooked. I made my own little shaker and heavily buttered my toast and covered every inch with the cinnamon sugar... Not the healthiest of breakfast but so so tasty!

I love cinnamon to this day and I still have a shaker (without the sugar) which gets added to most breakfast foods I eat. Apparently it's good for you too.

I would recommend you use brown bread as per the recipe. I only had brown multi seed and some people (my housemate) wasn't a fan of the crunchy bits.

Cinnamon Toast Cupcakes
By Cupcake Jemma

Makes 24

For the cupcakes

4 slices of brown bread
270g unsalted butter, plus extra for spreading, softened
225g caster sugar
25g soft dark brown sugar
200g self-raising flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 large free range eggs
2 tablespoons whole milk

For the buttercream icing

300g unsalted butter, softened
675g icing sugar
ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons whole milk
4 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 170°C fan. Toast the bread until slightly burnt, then butter both sides and bake in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until crisp enough to snap. Remove and leave to cool, then whiz in a food processor or grate with a box grater and set aside.

For the cupcakes, whisk the sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer to get rid of any lumps, and then sift in the remaining dry cupcakes ingredients. Add the eggs, butter and 50g of the buttered toast crumbs, and then beat for 60 seconds. Pour in the milk and whisk for 20 seconds to make sure it's all incorporated. Fill the paper cases two-thirds full with mixture, but don't bother to smooth it out. Bake for 20 minutes, or until they spring back when touched.

Leave to cool, transferring to a wire cooling rack after 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the icing. Beat the butter with an electric mixer for 4 to 5 minutes or until pale and smooth. Sift the icing sugar and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon into a  large bowl, then add to the butter in two stages, beating well between each. Pour in the milk and beat for a further 3 to 5 minutes, or until smooth and silky. Once the cupcakes are cool, decorate with the icing and scatter the remaining toast crumbs on top. Combine the granulated sugar with a pinnace of cinnamon, then sprinkle over the cupcakes and serve.

Happy Baking x