Tag Archives: Chocolate

Review: Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana, West Didsbury

A couple of weeks ago to celebrate two friends getting new jobs, a group of us went for afternoon tea at Cocoa Cabana in West Didsbury. To my shame I’ve never eaten there before, but I’ve bought and eaten plenty of their chocolates over the years. I was interested to see what their chocolate afternoon tea would be like, plus it seemed like a bargain at £16.99 each, so I needed to check it out properly. 

Review: Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana, West Didsbury

Cocoa Cabana in West Didsbury is a small chocolatiers and cake makers. They have three small tables inside and on nice days you can sit outside on Burton Road and watch the world go by. There were eight of us, so we took up all of the inside tables. Because of the size of Cocoa Cabana and the work involved in making an afternoon tea you do have to book in advance. 

My friend Sarah had done all the booking and had arranged for us to take some celebratory prosecco with us to have with our tea. There was rather surprisingly no corkage to pay for this. The afternoon tea comes with unlimited tea or coffee, you can have hot chocolate but there is an additional charge for this.

Review: Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana, West Didsbury

We were served pots of good tea and we chatted as our sandwiches were brought to us. I was one of two vegetarians and our sandwiches were brought on separate plates. I thought that was a nice touch as the carnivores often snaffle the veggie sandwiches before I get to them. The sandwiches were freshly made with seeded bread and good quality fillings. There were nice egg sandwiches, cheese and pickle and ham and mustard amongst others.

More tea was poured, prosecco corks popped and a procession of sweet treats were brought to our table. The freshly made fruit scones came with lashings of cream and a salted caramel sauce; a real twist on the classic but one I really enjoyed. It was a little sweet for a couple of my friends, but the sauce was a winner for me.

Review: Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana, West Didsbury

The chocolate tarts were much coveted. Crisp pastry filled with chocolate ganache and topped with a red berry. The tarts were excellent, but very rich and very intense. Most of us managed half a tart each (you can take what you can’t finish home if you’d like).

Following the chocolate theme, there was also a large plate of chocolate brownies. I am not much of a brownie fan, but I shared one with a friend and it was perfectly crisp on top and gooey in the middle. 

What did turn my head was this little plate of prettiness. Tiny eclairs, a teeny banoffee pie, a bite-sized cheesecake, little raspberry chocolate pots, a miniature lemon meringue tart and the lightest, most magnificent pistachio macaron ever.

Review: Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana, West Didsbury

As with every afternoon tea I’ve ever had, there was far too much food, which is probably a good thing. Afternoon tea should not leave you wanting more and the staff at Cocoa Cabana were clearly used to boxing up leftovers. 

The Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana is just £16.99 per person, which is really excellent value. We didn’t feel rushed and the service was attentive but not intrusive. I did need to go home and have a nap directly afterwards, but that is my greed and not a comment on the quality of the food. I liked the separate veggie sandwiches; and the macarons I will dream of for a while yet. I do think the salted caramel sauce should be sold in jars.

The verdict? A good afternoon tea, with some real highlights at very reasonable price, I’ve paid upwards of £25 in Manchester for very average afternoon teas and the Cocoa Cabana afternoon tea was better value and much better quality. Plus the service was accommodating and attentive. It’s nice to have afternoon tea (and chocolate) of this quality available outside of the city centre. Go on, treat yourself (and me).

Cocoa Cabana 128 Burton Road, West Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2JQ

Visit the Cocoa Cabana website for further information http://cocoa-cabana.co.uk/

Review: Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana, West Didsbury

Note: We paid for our Afternoon Tea in full.

Recipe: Chocolate and Cherry Bundt with Kirsch

The Great British Bake Off has been a real game changer for amateur bakers like me. It’s given me the confidence to try new bakes and introduced the nation to previously unheard of treats from all over the world. Before GBBO I’d never seen or heard of a bundt before, but it soon became a cake I needed to bake. This week I made a Chocolate and Cherry Bundt with Kirsch and I became this week’s star baker (in my house only). 

I’ve wanted a bundt tin for a long time. Every so often I’d have a look around for one but they were always a bit beyond my budget and I couldn’t justify spending that much on a cake tin. A few weeks before Christmas I spotted a Crofton bundt tin in Aldi for around £11 and I couldn’t resist. I’ve been itching to use my bundt tin ever since. 

Recipe: Chocolate and Cherry Bundt with Kirsch

For my Chocolate and Cherry Bundt with Kirsch I used a 250g jar of Opies Black Cherries in Kirsch. I drained the cherries and set aside the kirsch for drizzling over the cake. It was really very good and the boys managed to demolish it in double quick time – always the sign of a successful bake.

Chocolate and Cherry Bundt with Kirsch

Ingredients (serves 16)
150g butter
150g sugar
4 eggs
200g self raising flour
100g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 jar of Opies Black Cherries in Kirsch
1/2 tub of Dr Oetker Easy Milk Chocolate Icing

Method
Pre-heat the oven to 190°. Liberally butter your bundt tin and using 25g of your cocoa powder, dust the inside of your tin so that the powder is stuck to the butter.

Beat your butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the flour, 75g of cocoa powder and baking soda and give them a quick stir, add the eggs and thoroughly combine. If your mixture seems a bit stiff or dry, add a splash of milk.

Drain your black cherries, reserving the kirsch for later. Stir your cherries into the cake batter and pour the lot into your bundt tin. Smooth the top of the batter. 

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 190°. After 30 minutes, check it’s cooked through with a skewer and remove from the oven. Leave to cool in the tin for at least 15 minutes.

Once cool, turn out onto a suitable plate or cake stand and decorate. I used half a tub of Dr Oetker Easy Milk Chocolate Icing which you just microwave and then drizzle over with a spoon. I also whipped some cream to serve with it and spooned over some of the kirsch I’d set aside from the jar. Delicious. 

Recipe: Chocolate and Cherry Bundt with Kirsch

It was a really lovely pudding and the kirsch made the cake extra moist and a little bit naughtier. I’m looking forward to getting another bundt in the oven.

Casa Costello

Win a Mint Chocolate Selection from Beech’s Fine Chocolates worth £20

With Christmas just around the corner, there are certain things on everyone’s shopping lists – mince pies, Christmas pudding, a bottle of sherry for Gran, not forgetting a box or two of after dinner mints. For us, a box of mint chocolates are an essential on Christmas Day, but with my mint chocolate loving husband we often have a box of his favourites in the house for him to nibble on after dinner.

Back in May we reviewed some delicious chocolates from Beech’s Fine Chocolates, amongst the selection we sampled were their Original Dark Chocolate Mint Creams which were about the best mint chocolates I’d ever tasted. Smooth dark chocolate and a vibrant minty cream centre. They’re top of our after dinner list now.

Beech's Fine Chocolates

Beech’s Fine Chocolates have been making quality traditional British chocolates in Preston, Lancashire since 1920. They use 100% natural ingredients, and all of their products are gluten free and many are suitable for Vegans. I have a lot of love for Beech’s Fine Chocolates, they make great gifts and they are really good quality. 

I am delighted to be able to offer my blog readers the chance to win a mint chocolate selection from Beech’s Fine Chocolates worth just over £20. The selection includes – 

  • After Dinner Mint Creams 150g, £4.99
  • After Dinner Mint Crisps 150g, £3.99
  • Dark Chocolate Mint Creams 90g, £2.99
  • NEW Luxury After Dinner Mints 130g, £3.99
  • NEW Dark Chocolate Mint Bar 60g, £1.75
  • Dark Chocolate After Dinner Mint Thins, £4.99

For more information about Beech’s Fine Chocolates or to place an order, visit their website – you won’t regret it!

WIN A MINT CHOCOLATE SELECTION FROM BEECH'S FINE CHOCOLATES WORTH £20

Win a Mint Chocolate Selection from Beech’s Fine Chocolates worth £20

To be in with a chance to win a Mint Chocolate Selection from Beech’s Fine Chocolates worth £20, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5. The winner will receive a Mint Chocolate Selection from Beech’s Fine Chocolates worth £20.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 11th December 2016.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
9. The winners name will be available on request
10. Address details will be passed onto an agency to post the prize out to the winner, and is therefore beyond my control. I cannot be held responsible for prizes being lost in the post although I will endeavour to liaise with the agency.
11. Your email address may be passed on to to the promoter for marketing purposes, you may unsubscribe at any time.
12. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
13. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

Recipe: Malty Malteser Butterfly Cakes

In my family, September is birthday month and this week it was my brother’s turn to blow out the candles. We weren’t having a big bash for him, but you can’t successfully have a birthday without cake. My brother loves Maltesers, so I thought I’d make him some quick and easy butterfly cakes, but with a Maltesery twist.

I’ve had a jar of malt extract lurking in my cupboard for a little while now, so I knocked up a standard sponge recipe and added a big dollop of the lovely malty stuff. Baked my buns until they were golden and whipped up a chocolate buttercream icing complete with a big bag of smashed up Maltesers. There was no room for candles, but at his age they’re verging on a fire hazard anyway!

Malteser Butterfly Cakes

The little Malteser Butterfly Cakes came out a little darker than a plain sponge would. This is because the dark malt extract makes the mixture darker. They’re not overdone, that’s their natural bronzed colour.

This recipe makes around 12 malteser butterfly cakes.

Malteser Butterfly Cakes

4oz Butter or margarine
4oz sugar
1 dessert spoon of malt extract
2 medium eggs
1 teaspoon of baking soda
4oz self raising flour

For the buttercream:
4oz butter
4oz icing sugar
1 tablespoon of drinking chocolate powder
10oz of Maltesers

1. Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy and the stir in the eggs and malt extract.
2. Carefully fold through the baking soda and self raising flour until combined.
3. Dollop into cake cases, there should be enough to make about 12 buns.
4. Bake in a preheated oven at 190c for around 15 minutes. Once cooked leave to cool.
5. To make the buttercream, beat the butter, icing sugar and hot chocolate powder until soft and fluffy. Bash up the Maltesers and gently fold in.
6. Carefully cut a circle out of the top of each of your cooled cakes, cut the circle in two, dollop a teaspoon of buttercream into the hole and top with the halves to make them look like butterfly wings.

Malteser Butterfly Cakes

If you love butterfly cakes, you might also enjoy my Peanut Butter Butterfly Cake recipe.

Casa Costello

Review: Beech’s Fine Chocolates

Last year I reviewed some Beech’s Fine Chocolates Easter chocolate treats and developed a very soft spot for this local company producing excellent chocolates. Beech’s Fine Chocolates have been making traditional British chocolates in Preston, Lancashire since 1920. They were kind enough to send me some of their new range of chocolates to try out.

First of all I loved the colourful statement packaging. I really like how colourful and fun they are, each box has a bold pattern which really makes them stand out from the crowd and all the packaging is recyclable. Beech’s Fine Chocolates are made using 100% natural ingredients and all products are gluten free and many are suitable for Vegans. 

After dinner we opened the Original Dark Chocolate Fruit Creams which are made to a traditional recipe using natural fruit oils.  This 150g box contains a selection of  orange, lime, raspberry & lemon cream centres which are covered in dark chocolate.  They boys liked these best, I’m not usually a fan of fruit creams, I often find them a bit sickly, but I liked these, they weren’t too sweet and I very much liked the lime flavour. There were 14 chocolates in this attractive box which retails for £4.75, they are also suitable for vegetarians and vegans.  

Beech's Fine Chocolates

In another beautiful box were the Milk Chocolate Covered Dairy Fudge. I’m a bit of a lover of dairy fudge, it’s sweet but not as sweet as the crumbly bags of fudge you get at the seaside. This 100g box does not disappoint and I was a bit reluctant to share. Each box of the Milk Chocolate Covered Dairy Fudge contains 9 chocolates and retails as £2.99. This product is also gluten free.

Beech's Fine Chocolates

Hubs loves mint chocolates, so he opened the Original Dark Chocolate Mint Creams and gave his approval. He liked the smooth dark chocolate and the mint cream which he thought wasn’t too sweet. The 150g box contained 14 of these lovely minty chocolates which are made using English Mitcham Mint oil, which is grown in Hampshire. The mint creams are suitable for vegans and vegetarians and are gluten free.

Beech's Fine Chocolates

I have to confess that I wasn’t really looking forward to the last box of chocolates we tried. Milk Chocolate Coconut Macaroons, I’m not usually a fan of coconut and wouldn’t pick a Bounty out of the selection box, but these were hands down my favourite chocolate of the selection. Lovely milk chocolate and hand-shredded coconut all mixed up together and made into a lovely bite-size macaroon (not a trendy macaron). Apparently these were very popular in the 80s and 90s and they’ve brought them back and I hope they stay!

They cost £2.99 for 9 chocolates and I adored these, perhaps a bit too much. Even if you’re a bit uncertain about coconut I’d say give these a try, I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Beech's Fine Chocolates

It’s nice to see Beech’s Fine Chocolates bringing out a new range and reinventing some of their old favourites. They’re a lovely, good quality chocolate and they are good value without looking or tasting cheap. They always have offers on their website, so it’s worth checking out especially if you’re buying a few boxes. I’m very happy to buy Beech’s because they’re fairly local to me and delicious too.

 

Win a Nutriseed Nutri Box

If you’ve read my recent review of Nutriseed and been tempted to try them out then you’re in luck, I’m giving one lucky person the chance to try a Nutriseed Nutri Box for free. You can find out more about Nutriseed and their Nutri Box by visiting their website.

Nutriseed Nutri Box

If you’re a bit of a foodie, enjoy healthy eating or you’re just looking for interesting and exciting ingredients to cook with, Nutriseed is a great place to look for exciting things to cook with and eat. Their products are well packed and competitively priced – their website is definitely worth checking out!

Win a Nutriseed Nutri Box

To be in with a chance to win your own Nutriseed Nutri Box to try simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only.
2. There is no cash alternative offered.
3. To enter, please use the rafflecopter widget above. Please ensure you leave some contact details or I will not be able to contact you if you win.
4. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualifying entries. The winner will receive a Nutri Box from Nutriseed.
5. The competition will close on 3rd April 2016.
6. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
7. Address details will be passed onto an agency to post the prize out to the winners, and is therefore beyond my control. I cannot be held responsible for prizes being lost in the post although I will endeavour to liaise with the agency.
8. Your email address may be passed on to to the promoter for marketing purposes, you may unsubscribe at any time.
9. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this competition.

Nutriseed Nutri Box

Review & Recipe: Raw Chocolate Truffles with Nutriseed goodies

My local health food shop and deli make a delicious selection of raw chocolate energy bars and truffles, I have long lusted after them and wanted to try my hand at making them for myself. I often think making things from scratch is part of the fun, and these days when I’m trying to cut a few things like dairy out of my diet it makes sense to make some things myself. I was asked by superfood aficionados Nutriseed to try out some of their products, so I seized my chance to try making raw chocolate truffles myself. I was not disappointed.

I was sent a Nutri Box, a box full of nutritional goodies. I’d asked if my box could have cacao butter and cacao paste and I was happy to see some yummy goji berries and pumpkin seeds in there too. Nutriseed are an online nutritional food company based in London, creating vegetarian friendly, all-natural, raw, nutritional goodies by hand. 

raw chocolate truffles

My Nutriseed box was well packed and I loved the individual packets of goodness inside. Each of these “brown paper” packages are foiled inside so everything is fresh and in perfect condition, and they’re resealable too.

The Nutriseed website has so many different products to choose from including teas, treats, seeds, cereals, cocoa, capsules and superfoods. I think they are good value, for example my 500g of cacao paste was just £8.99 which I thought was very reasonable having priced up raw chocolate products elsewhere; delivery is free too if you spend over £29.99. Their product descriptions are packed with information, with all of the benefits of each product listed as well as nutritional information.

The Nutriseed website suggests that I use my Cacao Paste to…

  • Blend into smoothies for an extra nutritional kick
  • Sprinkle over yoghurt for a delicious breakfast
  • Bake into muffins, pancakes, or sweet bread
  • Add some to your breakfast porridge
  • Stir into a coffee for a homemade Mocha
  • Create a guiltless hot chocolate

But I wanted to make some raw chocolate truffles. There aren’t really many recipes around for making raw chocolate truffles with cacao paste, so I had to experiment a little with the quantities until I got it right. My recipe below is for cherry and rum raw chocolate truffles, but you could add whatever you wanted. I rolled mine in cocoa powder and dessicated coconut, but I really fancy making some pistachio truffles. Basically once you’ve made your chocolate truffle mixture you can add whatever you want. Here is my method…

Cherry & Rum Raw Chocolate Truffles
Yields 12
Delicious raw chocolate truffles made with cacao paste and cacao butter.
Write a review
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Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
46 calories
2 g
9 g
4 g
0 g
2 g
18 g
2 g
1 g
0 g
1 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
18g
Yields
12
Amount Per Serving
Calories 46
Calories from Fat 31
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4g
6%
Saturated Fat 2g
11%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 9mg
3%
Sodium 2mg
0%
Total Carbohydrates 2g
1%
Dietary Fiber 0g
1%
Sugars 1g
Protein 0g
Vitamin A
4%
Vitamin C
2%
Calcium
0%
Iron
1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 100g cacao paste
  2. 50g cacao butter
  3. 5 dessert spoons of carob syrup or similar
  4. 12-15 cherries
  5. 1 cap of rum
  6. 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
  7. 1 tablespoon of dessicated coconut
Instructions
  1. Over a bain marie gently melt to cacao butter and cacao paste together, once melted remove from the heat and add the carob syrup, chopped cherries and a cap of rum, stir well.
  2. Put the mixture in the fridge to chill for two hours.
  3. In a bowl mix the cocoa powder and coconut.
  4. Remove the chilled truffle mix from the fridge and using a teaspoon get enough mixture to make a truffle, shape in in your hands and roll in the cocoa powder and coconut mix, set aside. Make truffles with the remainder of the truffle mix.
  5. Once all the truffles are made, chill in the fridge until they are to be eaten.
Notes
  1. If you don't want to shape the truffles using your hands, you could dust a silicon ice tray with the cocoa powder and pour in the warm runny truffle mix and leave that to set in the fridge. Just pop out a truffle as and when you need them.
beta
calories
46
fat
4g
protein
0g
carbs
2g
more
HodgePodgeDays http://hodgepodgedays.co.uk/
I had a girls night in and offered my raw chocolate truffles around to my very discerning friends and they were a hit! We’ll be making some variations of these easy truffles in the run up to Easter and giving them as chocolatey gifts.

Raw Chocolate Truffles

I really loved my Nutriseed box, it’s the kind of grown up pick n mix of interesting and exciting ingredients a foodie can enjoy experimenting with. I’m already eyeing up several other of their hard to find ingredients for future recipes. 

Note: We were sent this Nutriseed box for review purposes, all images and opinions are our own.

Four fun ways with Mega Marshmallows

I love cooking and baking, but I have genuinely never laughed so much, nor had so much fun making anything as I have done today making and playing around with these Mega Marshmallows.

I was sent a couple of bags of Mega Marshmallows to try and I was dying to start experimenting with them. There’s something a bit silly and frivolous about marshmallows and you can’t help but smile when you eat them. 

mega marshmallows

I’ve spent the morning in my kitchen experimenting with these huge marshmallows. They are 5cm tall, and are 84 calories each and contain 0% fat. I made three different things with just a few ingredients, I had SO MUCH FUN and I’m certain my son would (and will) enjoy recreating these recipes with me again.

Chocolate Marshmallow Teacakes

mega marshmallows

I love a Tunnocks Teacake and nothing on earth could ever come close to that level of chocolately perfection, but it’s still a lot of fun to try. To make six teacakes you will need…

6 chocolate digestive biscuits
3 Mega Marshmallows
1 bar of melted Chocolate

In a warm oven put your digestive biscuits on a tray, chocolate side up, watch carefully and remove once the chocolate has melted. Cut your Mega Marshmallow into two pieces and squash the cut side on top of the melted chocolate. Leave them somewhere cool to set and stick together.

Melt your chocolate and then carefully cover each marshmallow and biscuit with the chocolate, put on a rack and leave them to cool. 

Chocolate Covered Marshmallows

mega marshmallows

I found I had some melted chocolate left over from making the teacakes, so never one to waste anything I dipped some marshmallows in the chocolate and put some sprinkles on top. They’re really cute and they look great. If I had some cake pop sticks they’d make pretty pops too.

Chocolate & Marshmallow Krispie Bites

mega marshmallows

I am not going to pretend that this is my recipe, I saw Nigella make these once and always wanted to try it. She used plain rice krispies, I used the chocolate covered ones. I think if you were keen to up your calorific intake you could add some chopped up chocolate digestive pieces too. This is a real sticky treat which was really fun to make.

Chocolate Digestive S’mores

mega marshmallows

I’ve never had a S’more but I know people rave about them. I have an understanding of the concept so I decided to put theory into practice, but with chocolate digestive biscuits.

Take two chocolate digestive biscuits and sandwich half of a Mega Marshmallow in between them and put them into a warm oven for a few minutes. Keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven once the chocolate has melted. The marshmallow will by this point be warmed through and gooey. Eat quickly and carefully, the marshmallow oozes out unctuously from between the biscuits.

Mega Marshmallows are probably the most fun ingredient I’ve ever used in my baking and I’ve enjoyed being a bit experimental and a bit silly with them. They cost £3 for a 700g pack (I made all of these things with one bag and still had a few left over to scoff taste test).  They are currently available from Tesco, Sainsbury’s Ocado, Bargain Buys, B&M, Family Bargains, Poundworld and Farm Foods.

Go out and have some fun with them, you won’t regret it!

Note: We were sent some Mega Marshmallows to try, all images and opinions are our own.

Baking with Beechs Fine Chocolates Plus Review

There are grim scenes in our house at the moment. Husband and I are trying the 5:2 diet which basically means for two days a week we forgo any food based joy and eat dust, lettuce and dust. Anyway it’s starting to work which is a great thing, especially for my endurance event in training husband. The 5:2 diet does mean that for five whole, blissful days each week we can eat whatever we want (though seven trifles in a sitting is frowned upon apparently). It was with some considerable delight (and woe, they arrived on a fast day) that we received a selection of Beechs Fine Chocolates to try in time for Easter.

Beechs Chocolates

We were sent two of their many flavours of chocolate thins, mint and ginger as well as some chocolate fondant bunnies for the small boy to have for Easter.

Beechs Chocolates

The thins are lovely thin disks of  chocolate, meant for after dinner but actually eaten before, during and after our dinner because they were amazing. Husband is a real lover of mint chocolate and he was blown away by them, saying they were seriously good (praise indeed from him). He tried the ginger and said they were the best ginger chocolates he’s ever had.

I loved both the mint and the ginger, they packed just the right amount of flavour and would be perfect for offering around with coffee after a lovely dinner with friends.

Each packet contains 20 thins and costs £4.99 a box, the chocolate is very rich and unless you’re a glutton (looks at hubs) then one or two thins are plenty to satisfy any chocolate craving. I always find that with good quality dark chocolate a little goes a long way, which is great if you’re trying to drop a couple of pounds.

There are four different kinds of thins available from Beechs Chocolates, these are Milk Chocolate Anglesey Sea Salt Thins, Dark Chocolate After Dinner Ginger Thins, Dark Chocolate After Dinner Mint Thins and Dark Chocolate Lime & Chilli Thins.

We were sent two boxes of  the Beechs Chocolates Bunny Family for the small boy to try. These are priced at £2.99 a box and contain ten different chocolate bunnies filled with fondant, though you can also get caramel bunnies too.

The bunnies were very popular, seriously cute and a nice chocolate nibble, the bunny shapes make them perfect for an Easter treat. The small boy loved them and somehow we managed to make the box last a couple of days, but only because I managed to hide them.

On Friday afternoons the small boy and I like to bake something, usually a cake to offer any visitors over the weekend. We decided to make a chocolate sponge cake and as an experiment we added some Beechs Chocolates Ginger Thins to the cake, it was delicious, so I’ve decided to share the recipe.

Beechs Chocolate

Chocolate & Ginger Sponge Cake

Ingredients:
4oz sugar
4oz butter or margarine (I used stork)
2 eggs
4oz self raising flour
2 dessert spoons of chocolate powder
3 Beechs Chocolate Ginger Thins
splash of milk if needed

Method:
1. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Stir in the eggs.
2. Add the chocolate powder and combine, then sift in the flour and stir through. If the cake batter is too thick (which it might be a little) add a drop of milk until it is the right consistency.
3. Put mixture into a lined loaf tin and put the thins half way into the cake at regular intervals (see picture).
4. Bake in pre-heated oven at 190 degrees for 30 minutes.
5. Leave to cool and then try not to eat it all in one go.

It’s utterly delicious on its own, but would be lovely slightly warm with a scoop of ice cream. The chocolate thins impart a deliciously subtle flavour of ginger into the cake. Definitely something we’ll be baking again.

Beechs Fine Chocolates get the thumbs up from us, I’ll be looking out for them in the future, they’re seriously delicious British made chocolates, perfect for after dinner and equally great to bake with, and what’s more hard to please hubs loves them.

Note: We were sent a selection of chocolate thins and bunnies from Beechs Chocolates free of charge for review purposes, all images and opinions are our own.

Malteser Spread & other MARS Munchies

If you live in a house with boys, foodstuffs, especially biscuits seem to mysteriously evaporate, whole packets of them, in minutes. I am of course grateful for this, without the evaporating biscuits my bum would be even bigger than it already is. I was thankful therefore when MARS sent me a lovely hamper of biscuits and sweet treats to keep some tummies filled during hungry half term.

In the hamper were a bag of Milky Way cookies; a bag of Galaxy cookies; a bag of Bounty cookies; a pot of Malteser spread (yes, such a thing exists), a packet of MARS cake bars and a huge Galaxy treat cake.

Naturally the cookies evaporated on sight, I did manage to sneak a nibble. They’re available from Tesco’s and if you enjoy a freshly baked cookie, then I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy them.

The Galaxy cookies (£1.30 for 4 from Tesco) were large and full of decent sized chocolatey chunks, not too crunchy, nicely soft and an enjoyable cookie. The small boy naturally went a little bit berserk over the Milky Way Cookies (£1 for 10 mini cookies from Tesco), which rather adoringly had not chocolate chunks, but chocolate stars, these were smaller but made up for it by having an extra few in the bag. My favourites were the Bounty cookies (£1 for 4 from Tesco), which were large, packed with chocolate chunks and full of coconut. A Bounty bar is too coconutty for me, but this was just the right amount, not too sweet either. I’d definitely buy these again.

The thing we all got most excited about was the jar of Malteser spread, chocolate spread liberally peppered with little malty Maltester balls. It’s meant to be spread on toast or slathered on pancakes or similar, but I made butterfly cakes and used it instead of buttercream.

Malteser spread

They were a huge success, the cakes were yummy with just a nice amount of chocolatey hit. Everyone loved the little crunchy pieces of Malteser. For me it is quite sweet so I’m not sure I could eat it as a spread, but hubs who has a sweet tooth loved it and would probably spoon it directly into his mouth from the jar if I let him.

The MARS cake bars (£1.65 for 5) were soft sponge topped with chocolate and caramel were for me the slight disappointment, they were lovely and disappeared quickly once the packet was opened, but for me I love the chewy nougat in a MARS bar and I missed that in the cake bars. I would buy them again though since the boys loved them so much.

The Galaxy treat cake (£7 from ASDA) was also a hit. It serves 15 so would be great for a party or as a treat for the office. Chocolate sponge topped with chocolate buttercream and little Galaxy pieces, there is nothing even potentially disappointing about any of that. We scoffed it with some friends when they came for a play date and it was enjoyed equally by parents and children.

If you haven’t already you need to get your hands on the Malteser spread, it’s brilliant for topping cakes with and I’ll always have some in the cupboard for baking emergencies, though I may need to hide it from my greedy boys.

Note: We were sent these products free of charge for review purposes, all images and opinions are our own. Thank you to MARS for fuelling our half term fun.