Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hotel Chocolat - Valentine's Day Chocolates

Head over Heels from Hotel Chocolat are a fabulous selection of chocolate truffles presented in a beautiful ribbon tied box. The box is classy and the chocolates look very classy too. Remove the lid and the aroma from the chocolates is heavenly.

A menu is enclosed with detailed descriptions for each chocolate. The chocolate flavoured truffles melt in the mouth and I especially liked Bakewell Tart with more than a dash of cherry brandy and the chocolate heart Raspberry Rapture with zingy raspberry, my recommendation is to eat the Strawberry and Black Pepper truffle last, otherwise I'm not sure you will be able to taste the others and that would be a waste of good chocolate............all that's needed now is the pink bubbly!

Here are some more Valentine's Day Gifts and lovely Chocolate Hearts to tempt you.

Thank you Hotel Chocolat.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sticky Clementine Steamed Puddings


I'm definitely not trying to tease anyone who is on a New Year diet but steamed pudding, especially at this time of the year, is difficult to beat. The recipe was on the front cover of Delicious Magazine and I thought they looked just too good to resist.

These little puddings have a wonderful hit of ginger and cinnamon, surprisingly this isn't a heavy pudding, but light and sticky. They need turning out of the basins whilst they are still warm otherwise they will stay in the basins for ever. Once they are out of the metal basins they can be reheated perfectly in the microwave.

The pudding is served with a sticky clementine infused syrup and cold cream - delicious.

Slightly adapted.

Serves: 6

You will need: 6 x 175ml dariole or pudding basins, greased and base-lined with parchment discs.

Soft light brown sugar to sprinkle, 2 clementines(1 sliced into rounds and 1 squeezed), 125g self-raising flour, 90g golden caster sugar, 65g fresh white breadcrumbs, 1 heaped tsp baking powder, 90g shredded suet, 4 tbsp orange marmalade, 2½ tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 large free-range egg, 4 tbsp golden syrup, 3-4 tbsp milk. Cream to serve.

For the Syrup

You will need: Juice of 2 clementines strained, 75g golden caster sugar, 2 tbsp golden syrup.

1. Sprinkle the base of each basin with a little soft brown sugar, then put a clementine round(no need to peel) in the base of each pudding basin.
2. Mix together the flour and golden caster sugar with a small pinch of salt, the breadcrumbs, baking powder and suet. In a small bowl whisk the marmalade with the clementine juice, spices, egg and then the golden syrup, stir the wet mixture into the flour mixture. Add just enough milk to bring it together into a soft dropping consistency.
3. Fill each basin two-thirds full. Cut out 6 squares of non-stick baking foil and make a pleat in each one, place over the top of the basin and tuck firmly around the edges.
4. Place the puddings into a steamer and steam for approximately 1 hour 15 minutes.
5. For the syrup: Put the clementine juice, sugar and golden syrup in a small saucepan over a medium heat and allow the sugar to melt. Increasing the heat and bring to a boil until the syrup thickens.
6. Remove the puddings, cool for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Drizzle the syrup over and allow to soak into the puddings.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Valentine's Day Chocolates, Cookies and Cupcakes

Chocolates are a great way to decorate cupcakes and the Hearts and Kisses and Chocolate Hearts look really pretty. The foil cupcake cases are my own and I made the chocolate cupcakes too. The Chocolate Heart Lollipop could also be used to decorate a cake.

I fell in love with Mr & Mrs Love Bears Gingerbread and the Heart Shaped Gingerbread too. The box of strawberry and vanilla mini heart shortbread's smell wonderful and will go beautifully alongside some strawberry or vanilla ice cream.

A cute selection of goodies from Sainsbury's - and there are lots of other Valentine's Day products in their stores.

Thank you Sainsbury's.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Brownie Bowls


To make this recipe you really need to buy the 6-cavity dessert shell tin. The recipe is from Kitchen by Nigella Lawson, it's just a shame Nigella didn't include a few more recipe variations because baking tins can be quite expensive and using them for one recipe isn't ideal.

I greased my tin with Wilton Cake Release to make sure the brownie bowls didn't stick to the tin and would turn out easily. Next time I make them I'm going to use cake release and then dust the tin with cocoa powder to see if this gives the base of the bowls more eye appeal.

An easy recipe to make and the cooking time is only 12 minutes. They turn out easily, can be frozen and reheat successfully in the microwave.

I made a chocolate sauce to fill my bowls (this isn't a Nigella recipe) and topped them with vanilla ice cream. Nigella says to eat the bowls warm and and then top them with ice cream. It just remains for me to say, delicious!

You will need:

125g unsalted soft butter, 125g caster sugar, 15g malted milk powder (Horlicks or similar), 15g best-quality cocoa powder, 125ml boiling water, 125 buttermilk or runny plain yogurt, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 150g plain flour ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6 and either butter or use Cake Release to grease the tin.
2. Melt the butter over a low heat, add the sugar, keep stirring with a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar into the butter. Take off the heat.
3. Put the cocoa powder and malted milk powder into a basin and whisk in the boiling water, whisk until smooth and there aren't any lumps. Add this to the warm pan of butter and sugar, stir well to combine.
4. To a basin add the buttermilk or yogurt, egg and vanilla and whisk together, stir this mixture into the pan. Whisk in the flour and bicarb.
5. Pour the mixture into a jug and fill the 6 bowls.
6. Place in the preheated oven for about 12 minutes. When cooked they will feel slightly bouncy if you press on the surface - sit the tin on a wire rack for 5 minutes before turning out the little brownie bowls. Fill whilst still just warm or when cooled.

The bowls can be baked up to a day ahead and stored in an airtight container, layered with baking parchment. Reheat in a warm oven for 5-8 minutes before serving. I found they reheated well in the microwave oven.
The bowls can be frozen, layered with baking parchment, for up to 2 months. Defrost for 3-4 hours on a wire rack at room temperature. Reheat.

Chocolate Sauce

You will need: 25g butter, 142ml double cream, 75g good quality dark chocolate broken into small pieces, splash of brandy, rum, Amaretto or Baileys.

Place the butter in a pan with the cream and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat and add the chocolate pieces to the pan. Stir, leave for 5 minutes for the chocolate to melt into the cream. Add a splash of either brandy, rum, Amaretto or Baileys.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

HelloFresh - Fresh Ingredients, Recipes and Free Delivery

The HelloFresh website is the practical solution for busy food lovers who long to cook freshly made food at home but don't have the time to food shop or spend valuable time cooking complicated meals. All you need is 30 minutes to produce a simple and fresh meal.

It is far more sensible if we can buy the exact quantities of food for recipes rather than wasting valuable food.

HelloFresh offer free home delivery of recipes, designed by nutritionists, with all the matching ingredients which will save time.



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HelloFresh can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Sponsored Blog Post

Friday, January 13, 2012

Baked Camembert

I was given this Cheese Baking Crock from Sainsbury's by my son-in-laws Mum. I am very lucky because she has a very good eye for foodie gifts that I will be able to use on my blog. She knows my blog well because she has been following me for well over five years now.

All you have to do is place your Camembert into the crock pot, I would take the Camembert out of the fridge about an hour before you want to cook it or it will take longer to cook, top with two tablespoons of the caramelised onion chutney, replace the lid - such a brilliant idea and not one I have come across before.

Cook for 10-15 minutes on 200°C until wobbly and some of the oozing cheese is trying to break through. The recipe for this is on the side of the box the cheese baking crock came in.

Serving suggestions are sliced french bread and apple, waxy new baby potatoes and tiny cherry tomatoes on the vine - very, very delicious.

Thank you Lindsay!

Here is a similar Camembert Baker from Amazon.



Thursday, January 05, 2012

Brioche and Butter Pudding

A while back, I started the National Collection of Bread and Butter Pudding Recipes:) and to date, there are six other recipes on my site. Admittedly, some people find them problematic, but the secret is to make them well, and definitely not to have the obligatory burnt fruit on top (perhaps as some of our Mum's did), to do so is not only a crime against bread and butter pudding but a punishment of the highest order for the person who has to eat it.

This recipe is by the talented food writer, Tamasin Day-Lewis. The sultanas have been soaked in water and then drained, which prevents them from burning. It's always best to cook any bread and butter pudding recipe in a bain-marie because this will prevent it overcooking and take the humble bread and butter pudding to another level of fabulousness. Bread and butter pudding cooked to within an inch of it's life is horrible and years ago, before I learnt the error of my ways, I too have been guilty of this. I always check to make sure the pudding isn't overcooking by poking a hole in the top - as in the photograph. The custard will carry on cooking after it comes out of the oven and you will have a creamy custard sauce.

I have adapted the quantity of sugar used and the amount of apricot jam glaze. If I hadn't, the pudding would have been sugar overload. Presentation would have been better if I had used the tops of eight brioche rolls instead of using four brioche rolls sliced horizontally.

Adapted recipe for those on the 'No diet, diet' and to be fair I did use semi-skimmed milk and reduced the quantity of sugar. Who wants to diet in January anyway? I need proper food when it's cold, grey and miserable outside.

Serves: 4

You will need: 300ml semi-skimmed milk, 300 double cream, 1 split vanilla pod, 2 eggs, 2 tbsp vanilla sugar, 25g unsalted butter, 4 brioche rolls sliced horizontally into four, a handful of sultanas soaked in warm water until plump, few teaspoons apricot jam.

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas 4.
2. Pour the milk and cream into a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod with the tip of a knife. Add to the pan along with the scraped pod. Bring almost to the boil and then remove the pan from the heat.
3. Whisk the eggs and sugar together thoroughly in a large bowl. Pour in the milk and cream mixture, firstly removing the vanilla pod, and whisk.
4. Melt the butter and brush it over the brioche slices, placing them into a greased pudding dish. Sprinkle with the sultanas.
5. Strain the milk and egg mixture over the top.
6. Place the dish in a roasting pan. Pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake for 30 minutes or until just set and not over-browned.
7. Put the jam in a basin and add a teaspoon of water, melt gently in the microwave.
8. Brush generously over the eggy surface of the pudding.

Any pudding left over will heat up successfully in the microwave.
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