Category Archives: chocolate

The Christmas countdown: Pudding series #2..triple chocolate and brandy

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If you are all about the chocolate, but like the idea of Christmas pudding you can always opt for this ‘fake’ version that includes not one, not two, but three different types of chocolate! It has the rich density of a Christmas pud but without the fruit and are like a cross between a cake, a brownie and a muffin.

They are also quick, straight forward, no fuss and very popular. I prefer to make individual puddings that are generous enough for two (or one person with a very sweet tooth and plenty of room!!)

 

On this occasion I made loads as they also make very nice presents!

Double chocolate chip ‘fake’ Christmas pudding (Makes one 17cm cake, or six very generous ‘puddings’)
150g plain chocolate broken into squares
175g muscovado sugar
120ml double cream
75g butter softened
3 eggs beaten
25g cocoa powder
150g plain flour
100g breadcrumbs
150g white chocolate chips
100g milk chocolate chips
100g mixed peel
Brandy
Grease and line a 17cm cake tin with baking parchment, or grease individual large muffin tins.
In a small pan melt the plain chocolate with the cream and half of the sugar. Beat the remaining sugar, eggs, butter, cocoa and flour until smooth. Stir in the breadcrumbs and chocolate mixture then add the chocolate chips and mixed peel. Stir well. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin (or tins) and bake in a medium oven (180 degrees C / gas mark 4) for 45 minutes. Serve hot with cream or brandy butter.

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Five food themed activities to keep the kids entertained this summer

So here we go, the school holidays are upon us and if you are anything like me (a bit last-minute) then you’ve barely begun to think about what to do with the kids. Its fine if you are lucky enough to have the summer off, but for me it’s such a busy time. With work most weekends its difficult to plan a big holiday, so what I tend to do is save that big holiday for spring or Autumn and just do day trips, activities and maybe the odd weekend away camping. One of the things that takes up a lot of time is the Green Man festival. My work period stretches for a tiring three and half weeks and I’m away the whole time. That makes for a big chunk of the school holidays, but there is still the odd week where there are no exciting plans and we want something interactive to do, or sadly we have to work. So how to keep my boy entertained?

Well he and I checked out a few ideas for things to do in over the summer …when his boring parents are otherwise engaged and there are no friends about to hang out with. Between us we came up with a list of five fun food themed and outdoor activities (he likes food and this IS a food blog after all) ranging from the most expensive to the almost-free. Reviews are by me, with added comments from Aidan age 10 and a half.

1. Young Cooks Holiday Kitchen at The Bodnant Welsh Food Centre  runs courses throughout the summer. Kids get the opportunity to make their own nachos with refried beans, guacamole, salsa from scratch, a five bean chilli to take home and bananas with chocolate chimichanga sauce.

Courses cost £45 which makes them a more expensive option but this includes all the ingredients. They run between 10am and 1pm and take place on the 30th and 31st July and 9th and 29th August. They do get busy so booking is essential.

Call 01492 651100

On the 27th/28th July the centre will also be hosting a children’s fun festival with games and lots of food themed entertainment for all the family.

If you don’t live in Wales check out your nearest cookery schools online or give them a call to see if they have special activites planned for the holidays.

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childrens course with eira 5th April 4

Photos courtesy of Bodnant Welsh Food Centre

2. On a similar theme, but a little cheaper…how about spending the day making your own chocolate lollies? North Wales based chocolatiers Baravelli’s are offering bespoke courses where kids get to create their own delights. Prices are £15 per child for an hour and a half session, with a maximum 6 to a group. Kids must be accompanied by a parent (as this is a hands on exercise it’s just as fun for parents to get involved) and at the end you get to take home the things you’ve made….if they last that long!

They also run 3 hour courses for older teens/adults where you can make your own chocolate truffles or learn cake decorating techniques. These run for 3 hours and cost £40 per person and again, you get to take home all you have made (which is apparently a lot).

To book a course call Mark on 01492 338121

3. For a fuller day of child care how about giving the kids a taste of the great outdoors? The aim of  Wonderwoods is to ‘get kids back outside being kids again’ and what kid can resist a bit of den building, some foraging and the lure of cooking on an open campfire?

Sessions will be running on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for the first two weeks of the school holidays starting this Tuesday (23rd July) and then the last two weeks.  Sessions cost £20 a day but they offer a £10 reduction for kids attending all three days (each week). The club runs from 10am until 4pm. For more information call Jon on the number on the poster below.

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My two guest reviewers Aidan (10) and his mate Maisy (11) spent the day and this is what they thought.

“The games at the beginning were a bit babyish for me, but it got better when we made fires and started cooking”. Maisy was the only girl and the oldest in the group. She enjoyed the hands on activities like fire and swing making and cooking pancakes the best but thought that perhaps it would be better to divide the kids in two age groups as she found some of the younger boys a bit annoying.

“I’d never made a swing or a hammock before and that was cool” Aidan was the second oldest, but was less irritated with the younger lads. He’s a laid back fellow generally and enjoyed all of the hands on activites, but agreed the games at the beginning were a little young for him. Nevertheless he want’s to go again so that’s as good a reference as any!

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chopping wood for the fire

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making the fire

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kids just love making fire!…Later they made and cooked pancakes and strawberry jam to go on top!

4. Celebrate fish! On the last weekend of the school holidays (31st August) it’s the inaugural Menai Seafood Festival. Based around the harbour and waterside in Menai Bridge it celebrates all things fishy, highlighting the coast and sea life that surrounds Anglesey and Gwynedd. Dylan’s Restaurant are the driving force behind what should be a busy, action packed, family day out. With rib rides, seashore safari’s with Anglesey sea zoo, educational talks from Bangor University marine biology team, watery themed art workshops, local music and a number of talented local chefs cooking up a  plethora of crustacean and pescatarian dishes to sample there is something for both adults and kids alike. All that and it’s free!

5. Last but certainly not least why not spend an afternoon picking your own fruit? Always fun. It whiles away a couple of hours in the sun (something we have plenty of at the moment), you can eat while you pick and still bring some home for tea. Hunt for your local pick your own farm online or ask at a farm shop, or just take a trip into the countryside surrounding you and see what you find….the two closest to me (one in Tregarth and one on Anglesey) are…

Moelyci Community Farm  is open for picking between 12 until 7pm everyday. They have plenty of strawberries, raspberries, loganberries and huge quantities of currants (red, white and black). Prices are very reasonable and the setting is stunning.

Hooton’s  PYO site is on the A5025 just one mile from Menai Bridge in the direction of Pentraeth – LL59 5RR (Look out for the signs). It’s open between 11am and 5pm during peak season.

Aidan says:”it’s great because it doesn’t cost much, you can eat loads and take stuff home to make all sorts of things like Eton mess” 8/10

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Blackcurrants ripe for picking at Moelyci

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***THIS POST WILL BE UPDATED WITH PICTURES AND COMMENTS AS AIDAN ATTENDS THESE ACTIVITIES. THE SEAFOOD FESTIVAL IS THE EXCEPTION AS IT DOESN’T HAPPEN UNTIL THE LAST WEEKEND OF THE HOLIDAYS

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Filed under chocolate, cookery courses, Food activities for kids, Food festival, Foraging for fruit, seasonal food, Travelling with kids

Recipe: My version of Moro’s chocolate and apricot tart

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This recipe was inspired by my recent trip to Moro. No hold on a sec, that’s not entirely honest; inspired isn’t really the right word. Perhaps spurred on is more accurate, or maybe challenged…anyway, let me elaborate.

While I was in London I celebrated my birthday with dinner at said restaurant. As it was my birthday I was strictly banned from

a/ making notes

b/ taking pictures

My family hate me photographing their food or ‘working’ while socializing with them. The teen even exclaimed once that she wanted to ‘copyright’ her dinner so I didn’t photograph it. So this said I have no photographs of Moro, but I have a lot of good memories of the tastes, textures and combinations of flavours served to me on the night. The food was truly delicious and well worth the trip up to Exmouth market, but there was one thing that sadly failed to hit the spot; their chocolate and apricot tart.

Now I’ve read a few reviews and people have raved about it, but none of the four of us were convinced….in fact none of us even liked it! There was barely a hint of apricot and the chocolate was so dark and strong it was overpowering. It simply lacked any depth to the flavours.

I came home and thought about it a bit, strangely unsettled that something using chocolate didn’t work! So I decided to experiment a bit.

The Moro tart uses an apricot paste called amradeen, widely available in Lebanese shops, but not here in North Wales so I substituted it for organic dark apricots, doubling the measure for a stronger richer taste.

To the chocolate mixture I also added 2 tablespoons double cream, which I think lightened and balanced the flavours….More apologies for the shoddy pictures. I now have a new camera so I’m hoping my images will be a tad better from now on (hooray!!)

Sweet pastry:

140g plain flour
30g icing sugar
75g butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk

Apricot paste:

180g amradeen or 400g organic apricots

6 tablespoons of water

juice of one small lemon

Chocolate:

One bar of Divine or other good quality chocolate (about 100g, but no more than 150g) at least 70% cocoa

2 eggs yolks

100g unsalted butter

60g caster sugar

2 tablespoons double cream

Sift together the flour and icing sugar and rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and a drop of icy cold water and bring together until it forma a ball. Wrap in cling film and allow it to rest in the fridge for about half an hour. Roll out to fit an eight inch tart tin, prick the bottom lightly and line with baking paper. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 200 degrees, gas mark….after 10 mins remove the baking paper and cook for another 5 minutes until the base is ‘set’…i.e. firm but not turning brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Chop the apricots roughly and put in a pan with the water and lemon juice. Simmer for about five minutes or so then turn off the heat and allow to plump up and soften. Tip the lot into a blender and puree until smooth.  Spread the paste on the cool tart shell and leave to set for 10 mins or so while you prepare the chocolate mixture.

Combine the chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl and either melt in the bottom of the warm oven or if you want to do it the ‘conventional’ way make a bain marie by putting the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. While it’s melting, whisk the eggs and sugar together until light, and then fold into the slightly cooled chocolate mixture along with the double cream. Spoon over the apricot tart, and bake in the oven for 25 mins, at 180 degrees. Remove from the oven while it still has a slight wobble to it, it will finish setting as it stands and cools.

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Serve with whipped cream, or creme fraiche

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