Sunday, April 29, 2012

Chocolate Truffles

So yesterday, I made the truffle base (25g butter, 200ml double cream and 200g dark chocolate) which I left to cool and harden in the fridge overnight.

Today, I spooned out the mix, shaped into balls (I made 30), although my shapes and sizes varied considerably! I think I possibly need to weigh out the mix so that I get roughly equal sized balls. I also found that while the warmth of my hands meant that the top layer of each ball started to melt and was very slippery in my hands, the middle stayed pretty firm and was quite difficult still to shape easily! Leigh suggested using latex gloves and this made it a bit easier. Later on I read another recipe for chocolate truffles that suggested dusting your hands and the work surface with cocoa - sounds good, will try that next time.

Then we get to the covering of the balls. My imagined truffles are coated in white chocolate and have freeze-dried raspberry pieces sprinkled on the top. So I melted my white chocolate - fine. The rest didn't really go to plan! The first truffle I dropped into the chocolate bowl to cover, big mistake. The truffle just started melting! I hoiked it out as soon as I noticed but this left me with lovely dark chocolate streaks in my white chocolate. I then tried poking the truffles onto cocktail sticks and dripping the chocolate over the top. This worked better...until I had to remove the cocktail stick from the truffle - because the hot chocolate was melting the surface of the truffle, anything I used to try and pry out the cocktail stick resulted in a massive dent in the truffle and a big patch of dark chocolate that mingled every so nicely with the white chocolate. Still I persevered for another couple and I think I managed 5.

They actually don't look too bad in the photo, but closeup, the flecks of dark chocolate are more obvious.

I rolled the rest in cocoa powder. Much easier and they still taste good. I wanted the truffles to be white and pink as that goes with the theme of my mother-in-law's charity for the year, but now I'm also planning pink and white meringues, having the chocolate contrast might be good (notice how I'm wriggling out of trying another batch of covered truffles again!).

Onwards and upwards!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

More sweets...

In pursuit of my search for sweets I have a bowl of chocolate ganache cooling in the fridge tonight for the making of chocolate truffles tomorrow. Hoping these go well...

Also, Leigh made some great peppermint and chocolate mini meringues yesterday

I'm hoping to also try and replicate these are the event, but with strawberry flavouring and a bit of pink colour. If the truffles work out - that's 2 out of 3 sorted!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Trillionaire's Tart

Mmmmm...quite nice!!! (and that's the 3rd tin of condensed milk I've used in baking this week - hee hee!) ;

335g unsalted butter
 100g caster sugar
 100g plain flour
 25g cocoa, sifted
 140g ground almonds
 175g light brown soft sugar
 450g sweetened condensed milk (I used a regular 397g tin and it worked fine) 
4 tbsp golden syrup
150g dark chocolate
½ tsp sea salt
200g milk chocolate

1. Line a 20cm x 30cm tin with baking parchment and preheat oven to 180C/160Cish fan/gas 4. Cream 160g butter with the sugar and then sift in the flour, cocoa and ground almonds. Mix well. Press into the lined tin and bake for 20 mins. Set aside.

2. For the caramel, put 175g butter, the brown sugar, condensed milk, syrup, 50g dark chocolate and salt in a heavy-based pan; heat gently, stirring until the sugar dissolves completely. Bring to the boil and simmer briskly for about 8 minutes, until thickened. Pour over the shortbread; smooth evenly. Leave for at least 1 hour to cool completely.

3. For the topping, melt 100g dark chocolate and the milk chocolate separately, in a bain marie or the microwave. Pour the milk chocolate over the caramel layer, then drizzle the dark over and swirl together with a skewer. When cool, mark into squares and serve.

Garden birds

We've had a bird feeder in our garden for a good few months now, and apart from being ravaged by some wood pigeons, it's remained untouched by the other feathered lovelies in our garden. But, with a slight change to the arrangement of the feeders, the wood pigeons are no longer easily able to access the hanging feeders (without sliding down the wall!) and the smaller birds are finally joining us!

We believe the blue tits are nesting in our nesting box again and we've seen them regularly at the feeder over the last few days. A few blackbirds, sparrows and a greenfinch this morning - brilliant! We had some long-tailed tits in one of the other bushes in the garden last year...I'm hoping we'll see them again soon. Might even get some pictures.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Aaargh! What has happened to Blogger?? New layout and look...I don't like it. I don't know where anything is now - being a good Methodist I don't like change!!

Anyway, the reason I'm blogging is that I've agreed to provide some sweets for a golfing event that my mother-in-law is running at her golf club in June - she's Lady Captain this year and this is for her Lady Captain's day. It appears that the ladies will golf 9 holes, then stop off with me and Leigh for drinks and nibbles before completing the course.

I've been looking through Leigh's sweet making books to try and narrow down a list of possibilities. I need sweets which can be produced in quantities of 80 easily and quickly and at not too high expense. They need to be things people can eat while also holding a drinks glass and managing a golf bag (the original idea was to package 2 or 3 sweets for each lady in a nice box but clearly that's not going to be practical if they're just stopping off in the middle of 18 holes!).

Also, I'm trying to make sweets which do NOT involve boiling sugar - no toffee, caramel, fudge etc etc. I really don't trust myself to be consistent, even if I do actually manage to get one batch right! One possibility I saw is coconut ice. There were a couple of variations on the recipe but I went with the one I found first in Life is Sweet.

It is basically 500g icing sugar mixed with 2 tins of condensed milk and 400g desiccated coconut and then refrigerate overnight. Yum. So...most of it made it into the tin...and having been in the fridge longer than suggested, it's still quite soft - not at all the consistency I expect for coconut ice. But it is totally yum. How can it not be with those ingredients! But sadly I think it's going to be too sticky for the occasion. I have another coconut recipe I might try, but I need to work through my other possibilities first - chocolate truffles next...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Coffee time

I was sitting in Starbucks with the boys this afternoon, managing them and their drinks, wiping up after chocolate eating, making sure things didn't get spilt, preventing arguments over who gets my straw...and I remembered a time when I used to be able to go out for a coffee, take a book, read for a while, relax...and wondered what that would be like again! But then I looked at the boys and thought that actually this is more fun all in all - I might miss some alone time occasionally, but sharing time with the boys is much better. After all, Zachary will be starting school in September and I'm sure that all too soon I will become an embarrassing parent who must be shunned at all costs, so (without making this too mushy) I must make the most of time with him and Leo together now.

By the way - when I went to get the boys up this morning, Leo presented himself at their door sans pyjama bottoms, having removed his nappy, which he was presenting to me saying "I've got my nappy," and with his pyjama top on inside out and with one arm through the head hole. Guess he'd been awake for a while!

Ta da!! The hot cross buns!

Hurrah! Finally had time to make them today - and it did take all of 6 hours in total...but that was mainly because the dough needed 3 lots of rising/proving. I'm glad I left them until I had proper time to make them rather than trying to rush the rising and they actually seem softer and less dense than my dough usually is. The real test will be whether they're hard as rocks tomorrow...

Here they are ready for final proving

Out of the oven and glazed

And a pic of the inside. Yummy.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Time Off

We are off out for a slap-up Chinese meal tonight with some of our friends so the boys are staying overnight with Leigh's parents. The boys were collected at 1 this afternoon and how have I enjoyed my free time off with my husband - done the ironing and finished Zachary's Spiderman hooded towel. And watched LOTS of TV!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012


And we had lovely mocha creams for dessert made by our guests. I've pinched the recipe to have a bash at them myself!

Pesto Chicken Stew with Dumplings

We had friends over for dinner tonight and I made Pesto Chicken Stew with Dumplings - a recipe I had come across in the April Good Food magazine (along with hot cross buns [bear with me...] and the lovely fruity simnel cake. Also a recipe for chocolate hazelnut torte - still to be tested!).

It needs 12-15 chicken thighs to serve 6-8 people so I went for 12, to feed the 4 of us this evening and then have (hopefully!) 1 or 2 dinners left over to go in the freezer. I managed to fit 8 thighs in my pan with all the stock and other liquid!!! Had a panic about an hour into the cooking when the liquid didn't look as though it was reducing at all and I still had peas, sundried tomatoes and pesto to fit in! Fortunately it did go down enough for me to mix that lot in although I don't think I was careful enough putting the casserole in the oven as I now need to clean spilled stew from the oven tomorrow! Still it tasted really good (I thought it might end up too pesto-y but it didn't) and there's another dinner in the freezer. Yum!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Easter 2012

It's been a busy Easter weekend this year. We went to Snibston Discovery Museum with Leigh's parents on Good Friday, had a brilliant roast dinner (courtesy of Leigh!) on Saturday. Then it was Easter breakfast at church and morning service for me and the boys followed by Easter egg hunt at our friends' house. The weather was not great, but good enough for the children to have an excited 10 minutes running round the garden searching out chocolate!

Easter Monday we went to another friends' house for a late Mardi Gras party - we made carnival masks for the occasion...

I'm not sure, but I think Zachary's face says "do I really have to pose for this?"! I made some mini key lime pies

The recipe described them as "speedy," but I think that was solely on the basis that the filling didn't need to be cooked! Pressing biscuit mixture into 24 mini muffin sections of a tin was not speedy! Fortunately though, the mixture puffed up quite a bit in the oven (the base did need to be cooked) and I could reshape my otherwise slightly ropey bases when they came out and were still hot!

Tuesday was fairly quiet although we did go out to Staunton Harold in the afternoon and today we have been to Twycross Zoo with Uncle Jamie. Again, weather not fantastic, but the hail did hold off while we were there and it was great. Hopefully swimming tomorrow and friends over for some dinner. Out for dinner on Friday night and then CBeebies Live on Saturday afternoon (which I think Leigh and I are looking forward to more than the boys!). Busy but lovely. Monday might come as a bit of a shock to the system...

Saturday, April 07, 2012


I have realised that lately this blog has become less about my general day to day doings and more just a run-down of what I've baked recently! I shall attempt to put this the meantime though...just so you don't get bored...!

Auntie Becky's birthday cake - as decorated by Zachary. Vanilla sponge with jam and buttercream filling and topped with buttercream.

Easter fruity Simnel slice - delicious although highly bad for you. There's a 500g pack of marzipan in there (along with everything else!)

Uncle Jamie's birthday cake (essentially the same as Becky's but with a different colour icing and topping!)

Mini blueberry tarts. Nice.

I had planned to have another bash at something yeast-based this week - hot cross buns. But not managed it so far. Hopefully I will soon - I need a day when I will regularly be back at the house to check on the 3 risings/provings they need and not be rushed about how long I give them to rise (as it's turned colder, and despite what the recipe says, nothing will double in size in an hour at the temperature the house is at the moment!). Watch this space.