Recipe: Chocolate & Hazelnut Spiced Loaf

Another backdated Bake Along, this time from bread week. Now, I make a lot of bread. In fact I’m determined by the end of the year to eat as little bought bread as possible (my weakness = M&S Baguettes). Between us me and W make a damn good white loaf, decent bagels, wholemeal rolls and even pitta breads. We’re also currently attempting sourdough which is an interesting and ever-so frustrating process.

 photo Chocolate Spiced Loaf_zpsyit52po4.pngWhat we’d never tried before, however, was a sweet loaf. Inspired by Rav’s creation on GBBO (I was a little disappointed by him, I was expecting some inventive vegan recipes but apparently not!) this sweet loaf is gentle spiced, rich with chocolate and textured from hazelnuts. As it’s a two-strand braid it doesn’t require any complex plaiting skills (neither of us was up to that!), and a lot of time is spent waiting for it to prove, making it perfect for lazy Sundays – bread making is perfect for those days where you snuggle up with a film.

This Chocolate & Hazelnut Spiced Loaf is moist with a tender crumb, the crust is soft and sweet from the glaze, and the whole thing is fragrant with cardamon. It certainly made the flat smell good!

 photo Chocolate Hazelnut Spiced Loaf 3_zpsdeipvuil.jpg photo Chocolate Hazelnut Spiced Loaf 2_zpsbutlqv0w.jpgIngredients

  • 120ml milk
  • 50g sugar
  • 1½ tsp yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 275g white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground green cardamom seeds
  • 50g very soft butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 60g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 30g chopped hazelnuts
  • 1 egg yolk (we used the white to make a whisky sour cocktail…), to glaze
  • 125g sugar & 110ml water – for the sugar syrup

For the dough, combine the milk, half the sugar and the yeast in a jug. Add the egg and lightly beat to combine. In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, cardamom and the remaining sugar until well combined. Add the milk mixture and combine. Knead in the bowl until you have a smooth dough – we found it to be quite a sticky dough, so cheated and popped it into our Kitchen Aid with dough-hook attachment.

Rub about 10g of the butter onto a clean work surface. Tip the dough out and knead in another 20g butter until well combined and the dough forms a smooth ball. Transfer the dough to a lightly buttered bowl and cover with cling film. Prove in a warm place until doubled in size, whilst you make the glaze. Heat the caster sugar and 112ml/3¾fl oz water in a saucepan. When the sugar has dissolved, set it aside to cool – this is the sugar syrup.

Tip the risen dough out onto the work surface and roll out into a rectangle approximately 26x35cm. Spread the remaining butter on the dough and sprinkle over the chocolate and hazelnuts. Roll it up like a sausage and pinch to seal. Slice the dough lengthways to make two strands, then pinch together at one end and tightly coil together. Transfer to a loaf tin, cover and put in a warm place to prove again until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 200C.

Whisk the egg yolk with 2 teaspoons water then brush onto the proved loaf. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden-brown – if you tap the bottom of the loaf (out of the tin) it should sound hollow. Leave to cool a little in the tin, then brush the sugar syrup onto the loaf. Remove from the tin and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

 photo Chocolate Hazelnut Spiced Loaf 4_zpsyqvijrzd.jpg photo Chocolate Hazelnut Spiced Loaf 5_zps75c1ztsg.jpgWe found that this took a lot of work, but it was worth it. I loved it served slightly warm with a cuppa, whilst W really enjoyed it for breakfast. I imagine it would be great toasted and spread with Nutella too! I did think that the cardamon flavour in ours was a little too strong, so I’ve reduced it in the amounts above – next time I’d also be tempted to add a little grated orange zest just to add a bit of sharpness.

Have you been baking recently? Who was your favourite GBBO contestant of 2016?

Recipe: Dad’s Malteser Blondies

Whilst I wish, wish, wish I could take credit for this, unfortunately I can’t. I come from a family who all make delicious baked goods. My Grandma’s Treacle Tart is delicious, my mum’s scones are pretty much perfect (I’m hopeful of publishing her recipe soon), and my dad’s traybakes are legendary.

 photo Malteaser Blondies_zps5uh8bd53.jpg photo Malteaser Blondies 3_zpsacpcitnf.jpgAnd this is one of his best recipes. The blondie has the texture of that perfect brownie, with the sweetness from the white chocolate. The maltiness of the Maltesers breaks up this sweetness, stopping it from becoming cloying. The drizzle adds an extra chocolate hit. Because chocolate. Obviously. The centre is deliciously soft and gooey (my favourite), though the outer pieces have that crisp edge if that’s more your cup of tea. All I know is that these go down extremely well at charity bake sales. At least, the pieces that make it out of the house do…

Weirdly, I don’t actually enjoy Maltesers on their own, but I adore these. Don’t get my wrong, I think Maltesers are damn yummy, but for some reason they make me cough uncontrollably. Baking seems to alleviate this problem, so clearly I’m destined to eat lots of this Malteser Blondie!

When creating the spread for our engagement party over the weekend, we took inspiration from the Bake Box boxes* that I’ve been receiving over the past few months. It’s always a good day for post when I receive one of these! Whilst my dad’s usual way of decorating freehand suits these blondies perfectly, the ‘Spots & Stripes‘ box* helped neaten it up a bit. I think the stripes from the drizzle and the spots from the maltesers fit the theme perfectly! We also used the Flower Power box – stay tuned to hear about that one…

 photo Malteaser Blondies 4_zpsnp9lhbvi.jpgIngredients

  • 100g white chocolate, chopped, plus a little extra for drizzling
  • 125g unsalted butter, diced
  • 225g light soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, beaten together
  • 150g flour
  • 4 tbsp Horlicks
  • 1 big sharing bag of Maltesers
  • 60g milk chocolate, chopped

Melt 100g white chocolate and the butter gently together, stir until smooth and fully mixed, and leave to cool slightly. Add the sugar, vanilla extract and beaten eggs to the mix and stir well to combine. Sift the flour and Horlicks into the chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. Fold in 100g Maltesers and the milk chocolate and spoon into a greased and lined tin (20cm square is my brownie preference!). Bake at 170C for 35-40 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin.

Melt the remaining white chocolate. Meanwhile, lightly crush the rest of the Maltesers. Drizzle over a little of the the melted white chocolate. Then scatter over the crushed Maltesers, and finish with the remaining melted chocolate. Cool, then cut into squares.

 photo Malteaser Blondies 2_zpsdhjgnifc.jpg photo Malteaser Blondies 5_zps24hzzkjn.jpgThen all that’s left to do is sneak off with a piece or three, hide away on a sofa with a good book and a cuppa, and enjoy. Because these are quite honestly some of the best blondies I’ve tasted…

What’s your favourite chocolate treat?

Baking: Snickers Brownies

Another bit of procrastination baking, these came about when W left me alone in his flat for the entire day. He came back to moan about the fact that I’d depleted his chocolate supplies, though once he realised I hadn’t just eaten then all he came around quite nicely…

 photo Snickers Brownies 6_zpsvwywdsdc.jpgI did come up against a few difficulties whilst baking these. Mainly the oven, which is pretty dreadful in his flat (nothing to do with the flat that I failed to turn it on at the wall!). It resulted in these being a little overbaked, the ultimate brownie sin. Microwaved, though, these turned out pretty good! I had also planned on having the snickers layer in the middle, but managed to pour all the mix into the tin before remembering. Revision scrambling the brain you see!

These are based on my ‘storecupboard’ brownie recipe, using cocoa as the base rather than tediously melting bars of chocolate. In fact, the recipe is exactly the same – just doubled and topped with slices of snickers. I’m prepared to bet that swirling through a spoon or two of peanut butter would go down quite nicely too…

 photo Snickers Brownies 2_zpspihinare.jpgIngredients

  • 140g salted butter, melted (coconut oil also works, though does make the brownie slightly oiler)
  • 225g sugar
  • 75g cocoa powder (I’ve been using some raw, unprocessed, unrefined stuff – it’s insanely rich and chocolatey!)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 70g flour
  • 3-4 snickers bars, sliced

Make up the brownie batter based on this recipe. Decide whether you want a gooey layer of snickers sandwiched between brownie, or a more crunchy caramelised layer on top. For the former, spread half the batter in a greased/lined tin, top with the snickers, then spread over the remaining batter. And for the latter? Tip all the batter in, spread evenly, top with the snickers. Bake for around 25 minutes at 180C, and cool completely before cutting. Perfect warm with a little ice-cream.

 photo Snickers Brownies 4_zpseildzjlc.jpgOh, and for those on a budget? Tesco do ‘Snicker’ type bars, £1 for 8, and they are absolutely delicious…

Are you a peanut-chocolate-combo fan? What would be your favourite chocolate bar to bake into brownies?

Recipe: Storecupboard Brownies

Recently I had a 9pm craving for brownies, and it was a craving that only good, proper brownies would cure. The problem? I had no chocolate in, and all my brownie recipes utilise melted chocolate (and a lot of it!). Knowing that not eating a brownie would result in an all-out brownie blow-out as soon as I got to a shop next, I set about throwing some bits and pieces together.

 photo Storecupboard Brownies 5_zps4cv8lqjd.jpg photo Storecupboard Brownies 3_zpsibm2hbqf.jpgThe result was these – rich, moist and extremely chocolatey brownies. They have the papery thin crust that only proper brownies develop, a chewy edge and fudgy centre. This amount of cocoa-sugar does make for quite a dark-bitter brownie, so add in a little sugar (or milk/white chocolate chips!) if you have a sweeter tooth. Trust me when I say it; these were a big hit when I carted them halfway up the country to visit W!

 photo Storecupboard Brownies 10_zpsfi8dryer.jpgIngredients (makes 6 decently sized brownies)

  • 70g salted butter, melted (coconut oil also works, though does make the brownie slightly oiler)
  • 120g sugar
  • 35g cocoa powder (I’ve been using some raw, unprocessed, unrefined stuff – it’s insanely rich and chocolatey!)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 35g flour
  • Any additions – I highly recommend cocoa nibs for a not-too-naughty chocolate kick

Combine the melted butter with the sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla extract, adding a tiny drop of milk. Let cool slightly, then beat in the egg before folding in the flour. Stir through your additions, then pour into a lined baking dish. Bake at 180C for 15-20 minutes, then cool completely before slicing.

 photo Storecupboard Brownies 11_zpsxm5pxpyq.jpgEnjoy cold with a glass of milk or (my ultimate indulgence) warmed with a little ice-cream. You can’t beat a warm, gooey brownie topped with some smooth salted caramel ice-cream!

Are you a lover of chocolate brownies? What’s your go-to recipe?

Recipe: Chocolate Malteaser Fridge Cake

Baking is something that’s taken a bit of a backseat at the moment. With plenty of ‘exams disguised as coursework’ to prep for, job applications and trying to enjoy final year, finding time to cook myself dinner can sometimes be difficult. To bake something is pretty much impossible right now – so to find a recipe like this that requires virtually no prep, no baking, and hardly any washing up? A dream, especially when the results are so yummy.

 photo Malteaser Fridge Cake4_zps5jjwpzft.jpg photo Malteaser Fridge Cake2_zpsiaom8f16.jpgThis is perfect for afternoons where I want a five minute break from studying mortality models and predicting future lifetime (yep, seriously). It gives me those few minutes to concentrate on something else and fill the house with the delicious smell of melting chocolate, then something yummy to nibble on in the evening. It’s also perfect as a little gift – handy for forgetful moments next week! Oh, and it’s super simple too…

Ingredients (fills an individual lasagna sized tin);

  • 150g chocolate (I use the cheap 30p chocolate)
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 100g digestive biscuits (I use ASDA Smartprice half-covereds)
  • 2-3 treat-sized bags of Maltesers

Crush the biscuits – either pop into a plastic bag and whack with a rolling pin, or cheat like me and whizz in a food processor. Crush up a bag or two of Malteasers with the biscuits too. Throw the butter, chocolate and golden syrup into a pan and heat over a low heat – stir continuously until melted and smooth.

Tip in the biscuit crumbs, stir well and tip into a tin lined with greaseproof paper. Push extra whole malteasers into the top to decorate, then pop in the fridge until set. Slices into small squares – perfect with a cuppa or a glass of cold milk! Told you this malteaser fridge cake recipe was easy!
 photo Malteaser Fridge Cake3_zps6vc9xim8.jpg

Have you done any baking lately? What’s your favourite quick recipe?

Lifestyle: A Chocolate Overdose at Cocoa Amore, Leicester

I’ve never been a huge fan of sweet things, much preferring a bit of cheese or a packet of crisps to a handful of biscuits. I do, however, have a weakness for proper, good, decent quality chocolate. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bar of Dairy Milk as much as the next girl, I’d struggle to say no to a Snickers. But if you really want to get me going, proper chocolate is the only way.

 photo Cocoa Amore Leicester 3_zps3ekrdxmq.jpgWhen W first moved to Loughborough for university we quickly found Chocolate Alchemy. It’s still there and still does the job for a quick fix, but the love put into the chocolate seems to have died slightly. It’s been two years now, but we’ve finally paid original owner Pete a visit in Leicester.

Let’s just say, it won’t be another two years before we visit again!

 photo Cocoa Amore Leicester 2_zpsyvlbbm54.jpg photo Cocoa Amore Leicester 8_zps9bksx1km.jpgCocoa Amore is everything we missed about the original ‘Lufbra Chocolate Shop.’ The atmosphere is friendly, relaxed and chilled, the whole place smells of chocolate. We were hoping to try some more of the savoury options that we’d heard about, but seemingly none were available on the Saturday we visited – so chocolate for lunch it was!

 photo Cocoa Amore Leicester 4_zpsitjrcpqz.jpg photo Cocoa Amore Leicester 5_zpscc43yuzj.jpgWe had a quick fight over who would get the ‘egg and soldiers’ but W won that one – he was served toasted brioche soldiers, and a white chocolate egg filled with passionfruit curd. This is the perfect combination of rich chocolate and sharp fruit – it’s one of Pete’s signature dishes and I’m so glad it’s still on the menu.

 photo Cocoa Amore Leicester 1_zps7muuomk1.jpgI went for a warm chocolate brownie, remembering how good the ones used to be at Chocolate Alchemy. It did’t disappoint – this is my perfect brownie. Slightly crunchy on the edges, gooey in the middle, and immensely chewy – and ridiculously chocolatey and rich. It was served with the some divine pistachio ice-cream and honeycomb pieces. I pretty much scoffed the lot.

 photo Cocoa Amore Leicester 6_zps1qxxsfhf.jpgIf that wasn’t enough chocolate, we each ordered a chocolate drink. Their house hot chocolates are made with your choice of milk, white or dark chocolate, slowly melted into milk. I went for a milk chocolate version, with W going dark – both were delicious, thick and creamy. Oh, and each drink allowed the choice of a truffle too. I went for a praline (if in doubt, get me praline truffles – I LOVE them!), W went for a homemade peanut butter cup. We may have bought a selection of truffles home too…

Cocoa Amore really does offered some of the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted. With our total bill coming to £16 (including a take-home bag) it’s a total bargain too. Well worth the trip into Leicester, we won’t be leaving it so long before our next visit!

Are you a chocolate lover? What’s always your first pick out of a box of chocolates?

Recipe: “Vegan” White Chocolate Pancakes with Raw Raspberry Jam

Or, how many popular food trends can I get into one blog post. Because yep, these are vegan. The ‘jam’ is raw. The ‘jam’ uses chia seeds. The only reason vegan is in inverted commas here is due to the fact that I used normal, albeit lactose free, milk. And didn’t check my chocolate label. They work fabulously with dairy-free milk, and I’m sure if you are actually fussed about the vegan-ness you can grab some suitable chocolate.

 photo White Chocolate Pancakes and Raw Raspberry Jam - 5_zpsgnnidwcy.jpgFor the budgeters out there, Sainsbury’s 35p Basics white chocolate works perfectly well. And coconut oil doesn’t have to be expensive either, I’ve finally tracked some some branded by KTC, its stocked in the World Foods section of big supermarkets and is a purse-friendly £2.55 for a BIG jar. Far cheaper than anywhere else I’ve tried. Chia seeds are expensive anywhere but Whole Foods, where a decent size packet costs under £2. So with this and the rapsberries its not the cheapest of brunches. But it’s damn yummy…

The raw raspberry jam is a bit of a relevation for me. I’m not a huge lover of regular jams, finding them sticky, sweet and not tart enough. This is slightly more of a coulis texture, but it is satisfyingly sharp, a hint of sweetness and almost pure raspberry flavour. Best of all there’s no faffing with making it, and it keeps in the fridge for a few days.

The white chocolate pancakes are sweet, slightly chocolatey and surprisingly light considering their ingredients list. They do, however, burn easily whilst taking a while to cook. Not one to make when lacking patience (ahem…). These were inspiring by a recipe from Miel Cafe, but I’ve altered them to cut down the sugar slightly. Despite this mine are still super sweet!

 photo White Chocolate Pancakes and Raw Raspberry Jam - 6_zpsu68m9ahm.jpg photo White Chocolate Pancakes and Raw Raspberry Jam - 1_zpsivao6hcm.jpgIngredients (to serve two generously)

  • For the jam – 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, two tablespoons of water, a small handful of raspberries
  • For the pancakes – 80g white chocolate, 3 tablespoons of coconut oil, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 100g of plain flour and up 90ml milk (dairy, soya, almond etc), a teeny tiny pinch of salt

Start by making the jam. Soak the chia seeds in the water for at least ten minutes. Then tip into a blender (I used a mini food chopper) with the raspberries and blitz until it’s your preferred consistency. Transfer to a jar and pop in the fridge.

For the pancakes, melt 50g of the white chocolate in a bowl, along with the coconut oil. Chop the rest of the chocolate into small chunks. Add the flour, baking powder and salt to the chocolatey-oil and mix well. Loosen with milk, a little at a time, until you have a pancake-like mixture. It shouldn’t be as thin as a crepe mixture, you’re looking for something similar to an American pancake mix.

Heat some oil on a low heat, and add a little pancake mix. Sprinkle over a few chocolate chunks immediately, then leave until the underside is golden. Flip (careful – they are a little more fragile that normal pancakes), cook until the other side matches, then keep warm until all the mix is used. Serve your vegan white chocolate pancakes with the raw raspberry jam and any spare chocolate chunks.

 photo White Chocolate Pancakes and Raw Raspberry Jam - 4_zpsyptl3dnl.jpg photo White Chocolate Pancakes and Raw Raspberry Jam - 3_zps1hzwkasq.jpgThey might be a bit cliche now, but I could totally get on the vegan bandwagon if it involved dishes like this! I’m not a huge advocate of the raw trend in general (I do like my food cooked!), but I can see the benefit in things like this. The raw jam is just so much fresher!

What’s your favourite foodie ‘trend’? Are you a pancake fan?

 

 

Recipe: Creme Egg Brownies

You might have got the impression yesterday, but just to make it clear: I LOVE CREME EGGS.

 photo 2015-04-01 18.25.33_zpsw3wlkjys.jpgI’ve never been hugely tempted by creme egg brownies. They are fine on their own, and brownies are perfect as they are (they are my go-to bake if I’m honest). But this year I’m unimpressed with the lack of dairy milk in creme eggs, and found myself not really wanting to eat my stash. So creme egg brownies it is.

 photo 2015-04-01 18.24.54_zpstrbg3btk.jpgBeing on a diet, I did just my mayonnaise recipe, which tbh is a damn good brownie recipe. I made up the mix, baked for half the time, added in the creme eggs, and finished off baking. Pretty damn simple. And because the brownies were healthier ones, I added some mini eggs too. Because they are also one of my favourites. And I knew I wouldn’t need a whole bag so had an excuse to eat them.

These aren’t the most attractive of bakes, they are sickly sweet and best in small doses. But they cheer up a long afternoon, which is just what I needed this week – even a four day week seemed never-ending!

Ingredients for Creme Egg Brownies;

  • Use my mayonnaise brownie recipe – please don’t laugh at the photos!
  • 1 packet of mini creme eggs
  • 1 packet of mini eggs (you should have some left!)

 photo 2015-03-31 19.15.45_zpsdciwzxnh.jpgMake up the mayonnaise brownies – melt the chocolate, stir through the sugar, gradually add the coffee until smooth. Beat egg and mayo together, and stir into the chocolate mixture. Mix flour and cocoa powder, fold into the chocolate-mayonnaise goo.

 photo 2015-03-31 20.59.46_zpswel0e0ug.jpgBake the brownie mix at 180C for 12 minutes. Add the eggs – push in as much as possible without burning yourself. Bake for another 8-10 minutes. I left my brownies fudgy and underbaked, but add a little more flour and bake for a little longer for cakier versions.

Cool complete, they slice into small squares. I like my Creme Egg Brownies best with a glass of milk and a good book.
 photo 2015-03-29 17.47.03_zpsjgapcve1.jpg

Have you baked with creme eggs before? What are your plans for Easter weekend?

Baking: Red Velvet Brownie Cake

This was just meant to be a Red Velvet cake, but it came out dense, fudge-y and very Brownie like – so it’s a Brownie cake. To be honest it’s not even particularly red (damn cheap food colouring!) so you could leave the ‘red’ part out and just make a delicious brownie cake…

 photo 2015-02-15 18.57.57_zpsx80zmvsh.jpgI found this recipe particularly easy to make up – no idea why as I’m usually a bit more cautious with baked goods. At dinner time I can happily throw in this, add a bit of that, and feel confident knowing that it won’t be (too) disgusting. To be honest baking scares me in that it is more of an exact science. But I managed this, it worked well, and whilst I won’t use red food colouring in it again, it makes a damn delicious cake. The frosting was pretty yummy too – fresher than normal buttercream, but still sweet and indulgent. The sugar hearts were my nod to Valentine’s – there’s absolutely no need for them, but even I’m impressed with how pretty my Valentine’s cake looks!

 photo 10582b09-fc4f-4818-b215-4f4a02023e21_zpsfqncljjf.jpgIngredients

  • 150g very soft butter
  • 150g sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I used Nielsen-Massey)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 50ml yoghurt
  • Red food colouring (if you want a red cake!)
  • 150g self-raising flour (I used Allinson Flour)
  • 75g cocoa powder
  • A splash of milk
  • For the icing: 100g very soft butter, 200g cream cheese, 500g icing sugar, and a drop of vanilla extract

 photo 2015-02-15 12.25.36_zpsjxwsrd0x.jpgBeat the butter until light, then add the sugar and vanilla extract. Keep beating until light and fluffy – I find beating the butter on it’s own first makes this a lot easier. Beat in the eggs a bit at a time.

Mix the food colouring with the yoghurt, and beat this into the cake mixture. Stir the flour in gradually, followed by the cocoa powder.

Pour into two (lined and greased – thanks W!) deep sandwich tins and bake at 175C for about 30 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean.

 photo 2015-02-15 12.33.02_zps1uoxbnoq.jpgWhilst the cake is cooling, make the icing. Beat the butter until light, then beat in the cream cheese. It’s really, really, really important to beat the butter first – I didn’t, and hence had little buttery lumps throughout the icing. Gradually beat in the icing sugar, and then the vanilla extract. Keep beating until frosting-like…then use it to sandwich your cooled cakes together, and decorate the top and sides.

 photo 11d0e8cc-2ba9-4c94-a3b3-c2d514170a19_zpssieyvtvv.jpgAdd heart-shaped sprinkles if you wish! Then cut a big slab, make a cuppa, snuggle under a blanket, grab a book and enjoy. And remember, for a post-Valentine’s treat, there’s the Hungry House’s promotion currently running, whereby any takeaway order placed on hungryhouse of £15 or more will bag you a movie or TV show from CinemaNow. Me and W treated ourselves last friday (thanks Hungry House!) to a delicious curry followed by The Sex Tape – a hilarious and light-hearted film.

 photo e733a07c-c1cc-4a37-8509-ca73c94fe2d1_zpshmin50nm.jpgDisclaimer: I was provided with some baking goods as part of the Baking Mad campaign, which I genuinely used in this recipe. All opinions are my own, as always, and no money exchanged hands. 

Have your ever made a Red Velvet cake? Baked anything recently? I’m on the lookout for healthier bakes so send me links!

Lifestyle: Tea & Cake at Beckworth Emporium

Or rather, hot chocolate and cake…

 photo cca63e43-51cc-429b-a5fd-cd1a150c39bd_zps797b6b1b.jpgTrying to make the post of our weekends together is getting a little more difficult for myself and boyfriend. He’s entering a busy period at university, lots of project deadlines, lots of group meetings, and I’m undergoing a relatively large project at work. If we know we’ve got a busy weekend, we’ll agree to go out for just a few hours with no distractions. The time means we focus on each other rather than anything else (an important thing in a long distance relationship!), and generally pack those hours with fun and (usually) yummy food.

 photo 2014-11-08170536_zpsca28f49e.jpgLast time I saw him we decided to head into the countryside (along with our good friend Howard) for a little afternoon snack at a local ‘garden centre.’ Beckworth Emporium is so much more than a typical garden centre, with a pretty cool farm shop, lots of gifts, the usual plants, and an impressive eating area. I’m desperate to go for afternoon tea one day, but they look huge. I struggled with the relatively small one I had earlier in the year, so I reckon this would defeat me!

 photo 2014-11-08170436_zps7dead638.jpgI ordered their Ultimate Hot Chocolate with Cream and Marshmallows, alongside their Chocolate & Salted Caramel cake. It might have been chocolate overload, and I might have been on a sugar high for the next few hours, but I have no regrets. Their hot chocolates is one of the best around. Not too rich, but chocolatey and none of the powdery nonsense in the bottom of the cup. The cake was pretty special too. Moist, rich, with a sweet icing just offset enough by the saltiness of the caramel. A huge and generous slice too, you certainly get your monies worth at Beckworth!

 photo 2014-11-08170502_zpsc394d724.jpgThe boys had tea and scones. I’m not really a scone person, but they had no complaints. There was the usual debate over whether to jam them cream, or cream then jam – any advice on this?!

 photo 2014-11-08170747_zpsdfe810c4.jpgI’m hoping to head back to Beckworth Emporium closer to Christmas – they have an ice rink, with incredibly pricing skating lessons. I’ve always loved ice skating, but have next to no confidence, so I’m thinking of going for a lesson or two in the hope of stopping me from holding onto the side. Ice skating followed by hot chocolate, sounds good to me!
 photo 2014-11-08170736_zps9e8a1a45.jpgNow a cheeky request- I’d love it if you could vote for me in the 2015 UK Blog Awards. I’m lucky enough be in the Food, Young Bloggers (not too sure where this entry is) and Lifestyle categories! And if you vote for me I’ll post out cake… 😉

Where’s your favourite place to go for ‘tea’ and cake?