Sunday, 30 December 2012


2012. It's been a big one.

I've seen some amazing things...

Eaten some amazing things.

This was, by far, my favourite part. I married my best friend.

I just wanted to say thank you. To all my family and friends. To everyone who has read and commented on this blog. To everyone who has made this year amazing. Here is a champagne cake for you. (Recipe to follow tomorrow).

Monday, 24 December 2012

We Should Cocoa: Cinnamon Cocoa

This month's spicy We Should Cocoa is hosted by Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog. Last month's bread challenge round up can be found here. You can find out more about We Should Cocoa on Choclette and Chele's blogs.

It's very quiet. It's that peaceful moment on Christmas Eve when everything is done and you can just sit. Eat a mince pie. Drink cocoa.


(Per Person)


200ml milk
2tbsp double cream (plus extra for whipping and serving)
1tbsp cocoa powder
Small pinch of cinnamon
Sugar to taste


1, Whisk the milk, cream and cocoa powder together and heat in a small saucepan until simmering.
2, Pour into mugs and add sugar to taste.
3, Top with whipped double cream or marshmallows.

Winter Mess

There is something so beautifully Christmassy about pomegranate seeds. The bright red flecks of encased juice that burst under your teeth. They add a touch of sparkle.

A tasty alternative for someone who doesn't like Christmas pudding.

Serves 2


200ml double cream
30gr crushed meringue
50gr pomegranate seeds, about half a pomegranate
Edible glitter (optional)


1, Lightly whip the cream to soft peaks.
2, Fold in the meringue.
3, Fold in half the pomegranate seeds.
4, Serve immediately with the rest of the pomegranate seeds.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Washi Tape Letters

I know someone who firmly believes that wrapping presents is one of the best part of Christmas. I, however, am rubbish at wrapping presents. I cheat big time on most gifts. In a bag, a jar or a box are my defaults.

This year, I bought some beautiful crisp white paper bags for my hand knitted and crotcheted gifts but decided that they needed a little something extra. A quick root around in my craft box unearthed some washi tape...

1, You will need a pair of scissors, a black marker, some washi tape.
2, Some cellophane.
3, Draw an outline of your letter.
4, Stick small strips of tape down, making sure they overlap.

5, Cover the letter completely.
6, Cut it out.
7, Peel off the cellophane.

Stick down and you're done.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Christmas Spice Sugar Cubes

There is more to Christmas than the big day. Decorating and getting in the festive mood is all part of it.

For the tree, we draped bright white lights and twined beaded ribbons around its branches. Hung glittering icicles, snowflakes and white iridescence baubles. Balanced the Christmas Monkey on top. Brushed my hand across the needles and breathed in its earthy pine scent.

Pinned snowflakes and baubles around the book cases and hung prancing reindeers off picture frames.

After a bit of scavenging in the park, I finished the door wreath. Restrung the plain white star lights in the windows. Baked gingerbread.

These are the parts of Christmas that I love. Clear blue skied winter mornings, looking across the Kentish downs with a cup of Christmas blend. Just pop one of these spicy sugar cubes in for that extra festive kick.

Makes 15

70gr granulated white sugar
1tsp Christmas Spice Mix*
2 drops orange extract


1, In a small bowl stir the sugar and spice mix together.
2, Drop in the orange extract and a few drops of water. Stir this together, gradually adding drops of water until you have a damp snow like consistency.

3, Press firmly into moulds and leave somewhere warm to dry out completely for two to three hours.
4, Remove carefully from the moulds and store in an airtight container until use.


Christmas Spice Mix

I make this in bulk on Stir up Sunday. It's great for anything Christmassy from puddings, mincemeat and has even been known to make its way onto our Boxing Day ham.

The basic recipe is 2 tbsps of cinnamon, all spice, ginger and nutmeg together with two ground cloves. I added a teaspoon of vanilla powder on this years blend. Can be easily scaled up.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Let's Make Christmas at Rococo Chocolates

I can't think of a better way to kick off December and a month of all things Christmas than to write this post.

Organised by the queen of gift swaps Vanessa Kimbell, Chantal Coady of Rococo Chocolates very kindly allowed a group of bloggers into her south London chocolate factory for the Let's Make Christmas Gift Swap. Chantal's story of her love of chocolate can be found in the introduction of her book, Rococo: Mastering the Art of Chocolate. A truly mesmerising and well written book combining captivating photography, design and a plethora of recipes.

Chantal welcomed us warmly to Rococo.

A cup of deliciously warming hot chocolate.

A table laden with treats.

Barry and the team at Rococo show us how to make ganache and temper chocolate.

I have a go at dipping. Excuse my left hand impression of The Claw.

Kate and Fleur have a go.

A Marshmallow Game Cube.

A gaggle of geese, a school of fish, a charm of hummingbirds. But what do you call a group of food bloggers?

Vanessa gives her introduction to the gift swap, laughs and smiles guaranteed.

Lucas Hollweg gives his thoughts on the chocolate industry and judging.

I took Raspberry (, Cranberry and Orange) Marshmallows from the Rococo book (I think I was the only one who made something from the book that didn't involve chocolate!) and some Cinnamon Spritz Cookies with White Chocoate Gananche, the recipe for which will be posted shortly.

I got some beautiful cupcakes from Linda at Filled with Love and London Busy Body's chocolate fig spread, which is utterly delicious and I can't wait to make some for Christmas morning breakfast, in return. A very happy swap!

A huge congratulations to all of the winners and runners up!

Friday, 30 November 2012

Let's Make Christmas 2012

Raspberry (,Cranberry and Orange) Marshmallows from Rococo: Mastering the Art of Chocolate. (I messed up the shopping list a little...)

Cinnamon Spritz Cookies with White Chocolate Ganache Filling

Full posts to follow.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

We Should Cocoa: Chocolate Monkey Bread

This months We Should Cocoa, the creation of Choclette and Chele, is hosted by Nazima of Franglais Kitchen who has challenged us to use our loaf (pun intended) and come up with a bread and chocolate creation. Last months round up featuring all things pumpkin from Nat at The Hungry Hinny, can be found here.

I wrote all the narrative for this post. Left it to one side. Had a flick about on the Internet about the subject and landed on a blogpost on exactly the same subject about what I had written. This has happened before. I think I've come up with something witty to say and then BAM! I find someone has beat me to it. Someone has probably beaten me to this too.

People do come up with the same ideas. If you've ever been near anyone who deals with patents, they'll give you examples.

Which made me think about this bread. It's not new, or amazing*, or never been done before. The quantities and methods are different but the end result is the same. I don't think I can find anything new to say.

Apart from the fact that I know someone who calls it "Monkey Brain Bread", and that made me laugh, loudly and uncontrollably.


Bread Dough
400gr strong bread flour
1 x 7g sachet of easy blend yeast
10gr cocoa powder
50gr caster sugar
50gr butter
250ml lukewarm milk
1/4tsp vanilla powder or 1tsp vanilla extract

50gr caster sugar and 25gr melted butter for the dough glaze

50gr dark chocolate, melted for the top


1, In a large bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, yeast and salt together. Stir in the sugar and rub in the butter until it is all uniform in texture.
2, Slowly incorporate the milk to form a dough and turn out into a floured work surface. Knead for around 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
3, Place in a greased bowl and cover with cling film. Allow to rise, in a warm place, for an hour or until doubled in size.
4, When the dough has risen, knock it back with your fist and knead it briefly. Flatten the dough out and cut into pieces that are just smaller than a ping pong ball when rolled into balls.
5, Dip the balls of dough into melted butter and then roll in the sugar. Place them in a 1lb greased loaf tin. Cover with clingfilm and return to the warm place until doubled in size again.
6, Preheat your oven to 220o/c and bake the loaf for 20-25minutes until the underside of the load sounds hollow when tapped.
7, Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before drizzling the melted chocolate on and eating. It's best served slightly warm with doughy aromas and sticky chocolate covered fingers. We're all friends here..

*It begs to be torn apart and shared. That means it doesn't have to be new, or amazing. You get to share it with people you love. Perfect.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Spiced Plum & Sesame Seed Galette

Some great things have been discovered as the result of accidents.

I'll do you a quick timeline:-

1853 - George Crum creates the humble crisp after a customer complains his fried potatoes were too soggy.

1878 - Constantin Fahlberg accidentally discovers saccharin because, after doing some lab experiments, he didn't wash his hands properly before eating dinner.

1928 - Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin because he didn't wash up some petri dishes before going on holiday.

2012 - Hannah Hearsey accidentally creates a sesame seed galette because she wasnt paying attention and dropped sesame seeds in her pastry when digging around in some seriously disorganised cupboards for some table salt.

OK. So it's not going to be written about in science journals or become hugely mainstream and be bagged and sold across the world as beverage sweeteners or crunchy snacks. Accident or not, spiced plums and sesame seeds imparting their delicate nuttiness to light, tender buttery pastry are a winning combination.


200gr plain flour
125gr cold unsalted butter, chopped into cubes
40gr sesame seeds
Pinch of salt
100gr caster sugar
1 egg
8-10 plums
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
3 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
5 cloves
1/2 star anise, split into segments
Zest of half a lemon
2tbsp honey


1, Make the dough first by rubbing the flour and the butter together until they look like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sesame seeds, salt and sugar.
2, Add in the egg and bring together into a doughy ball. Wrap this in cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
3, Prepare the plums next by washing and then cutting them in half. Add the spices and zest on top and drizzle with the honey. Bake in a preheated oven at 200o/c for 20 minutes or until just soft.
4, Stir the plums and the allow cool completely before removing the stones and whole spices and putting the galette together.
5, When you're ready to make the galette, preheat your oven to 200o/c, roll out the pastry on a floured work surface into a round about 25-30cm. Shift onto a lined baking sheet.
6, Add the plums in a single layer in the middle of the pastry in a circle formation. Trim the pastry so you have a border around the edges of about 4-5cms and fold it up and over the outside plums. Pinch together any cracks or splits.
7, Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the fruit is bubbling.
8, Cool slightly before serving in slices.