It was time to make a cake for my wonderful mother for Mothering Sunday. The question was, what cake to make? Simnel cake is traditional for this Christian festival which falls on the fourth Sunday in Lent. It was a day’s reprieve from the Lenten fast and domestic servants were given the day off to visit their mother church. This meant being able to spend time with their families and specifically their mothers. These days Simnel cake is more closely associated with Easter, but the old tradition of baking a cake and picking flowers for our mothers lives on.
With spring in the air, a cake with a floral theme seemed appropriate. I happened to have some lavender chocolate in the house and although lavender isn’t exactly spring like, it is floral. So a chocolate lavender cake it was going to be. Excitingly, it is the season for goose eggs and I had bought one especially to make my Mother’s Day cake. Goose eggs have a very short season, so I pounce upon them with glee whenever I see them in the spring. They are very large and have a whopping yolk, so are excellent for baking – they roughly equate to three large hens eggs. I scattered the cake with edible red dust, pink hearts and lavender flowers. Sadly most of the flowers all blew off in the wind when I took the cake outside to photograph it, but I reckon the hearts say it all anyway.
I made the cake yesterday and am off to deliver it later this afternoon along with a bunch of primroses and a card.
Update 31 March
The cake was sensational. I was really pleased with it and more to the point so was my mother. The lavender flavour was good without being overpowering and the cake was beautifully light.
I am sending this over to Emily’s #recipeoftheweek over at A Mummy Too.
- 1 tbsp lavender flowers
- 125ml hot water
- 150g unsalted butter
- 175g sugar (half caster, half dark muscovado)
- a pinch sea or rock salt
- 40g cocoa powder
- 175g flour (half wholemeal, half white)
- 1 scant teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 85g ground almonds
- 1 heaped tbsp Greek yogurt
- 80g dark lavender chocolate (70%)
- 70g unsalted butter
- 1 heaped tsp Cornish honey
- 3 tbsp double cream
- 1 goose egg (or 3 large eggs)
Yield: 1 8″ cake
Looking around my kitchen the other day (well more like the other week), two items caught my eye. An opened jar containing some chocolate mincemeat leftover from the mincemeat slices I’d made a few days earlier and one lost languishing banana which was about to expire. It was obvious there was no time to spare, I needed to use them quickly. What could I do, but make some banana and mincemeat buns. I based my recipe on the mincemeat buns I made a couple of years ago.
This is how I made them:
- Creamed 125g unsalted butter with 125g cardamom sugar (golden caster) until light and fluffy.
- Broke in 2 duck eggs, beating well between each egg.
- Added 1 mashed banana and beat until combined
- Sifted in 125g flour (half wholemeal, half white), 1 scant tsp baking powder and 1/8 tsp bicarbonate of soda.
- Stirred until just combined, then stirred in 4 tbsp chocolate mincemeat.
- Spooned into 12 muffin cases.
- Baked at 180°C for 20 minutes until risen and golden.
The buns rose well and had a fabulous crumb structure. And more to the point, they were very tasty. Even CT liked these and he is not a mincemeat fan.
Using up leftovers and homemade leftovers at that, as well as rescuing a banana from the compost heap gives these simple buns the necessary kudos to be entered into Credit Crunch Munch with Camilla of FabFood4All and Helen of Fuss Free Flavours.
This month’s Family Foodies is all about getting something prepared fast – fast as in under 30 minutes. Well I reckon as long as your butter is soft and your ingredients handy, you could get these mincemeat muffins prepared in ten minutes allowing them 20 minutes to bake. I’ve also managed to get a healthy banana in their as well as lots of dried fruit and dark chocolate. Hosted alternately by Bangers & Mash and Eat Your Veg.
We have come this month to the final letter in the alphabet for Alpha Bakes and it is U. Upsidedown cakes were the obvious choice, but I wanted to do something a bit different. With all the on-going and distressing news about Ukraine recently, my first though was to make a Ukrainian chocolate cake. However, although there is a fantastic bake called Kiev Cake, it was a little complicated and I didn’t think I’d be able to fit it in. So I procrastinated. I then tried finding a chocolate bake from Uruguay. I found some amazing biscuits called Alfajores. These have been bookmarked for another time, but again they were a little more involved than I was looking for. So I procrastinated some more. I tried Uganda but came up with nothing. The result of all this procrastination is a very last minute bake on the final day and it is, after all that, an upside-down cake!
Cornwall is not only blessed with stunning scenery, but also a mild climate that enables grass to grow nearly all year round and crops to have a longer season than in many other parts of the UK. Admittedly, this does mean we have to put up with a lot of rain, but we also get lots of sunshine. The result of all the sunshine and rain is a wealth of wonderful Cornish produce. As a vegetarian, I don’t eat meat, but I do eat dairy and Cornwall has long been known for it’s rich milk, butter and cream. Cornish cows are mostly pasture fed and out in the fields for many months of the year. This results in a milk which is tasty and full of essential nutrients. Cornish potatoes, cauliflower and daffodils are well known but most fruit and vegetables grow well here. As regular readers will know, I try to buy as much local produce as possible and I am very lucky to have such a choice. Produced within just a few miles, I can buy award winning cheeses, cider, flour, eggs, honey and any number of fruit and vegetables. To add to this bounty, Cornwall is now starting to become known for its innovative and delicious chocolate creations. Needless to say, I am absolutely thrilled about this.
Here, I am highlighting just a very few of the wonderful products Cornwall has to offer. I am hoping that this will become a regular feature and I can bring you more. Cornish produce is well worth trying.
Oh chocolate is a wonderful thing. Very excitingly, Cornwall now has its very own bean to bar chocolatier, The Chocolarder. Joining the ranks of Willie Harcourt-Cooze and Duffy Sheardown, Michael Longman is one of only a handful of UK chocolatiers producing their very own chocolate. Using organic beans sourced from single estate, family run plantations around the tropics, the chocolate is ground by stone over four days and then hand tempered.
You can tell good chocolate just by the smell; rich and complex cocoa notes will zip up your nostrils leaving you longing for more. When I unwrapped the chocolate, the whole room quickly took on the aroma – I couldn’t ask for a better air freshener. The packaging is plain and in keeping with the handmade purity of the brand.
You can see the full range offered on the online shop. I am intrigued by the wild gorse milk chocolate bar. We have masses of wild gorse growing all around Cornwall and it is particularly noticeable at this time of year when it’s bright yellow flowers shine out for all to see and the distinctive smell of coconut wafts around in the sunshine. I have not yet come across anyone whose used it, until now.
Sea Salt Caramel Truffles
I must admit, I am no stranger to these truffles. Having come across them in Truro one day, I now make a point of buying some whenever I take a trip to Cornwall’s capital. They send me into such an exstacy, I can hardly describe them. The caramel is soft without being runny and is lightly salted, bringing out the flavour rather than overwhelming the palate. I was pleased to note that the salt used is Cornish Sea Salt. I’m often disappointed at the ratio of caramel to chocolate, but these are just about perfect. The 65% dark chocolate shells are not too thick and not too thin either and there is plenty of caramel. The Peruvian chocolate has an enticing aroma with notes of tobacco and spice.
With Easter fast approaching, I shouldn’t have been surprised to find an Easter treat in my parcel, but I was. I might just have let out a cluck of excitement when I saw this cute little chick. The scent of chocolate with caramel notes wafted up making me eager to stop looking and start tasting. Weighing in at 100g, this is not one of those disappointing forms that turns out to be a hollow shell. No this is solid through and through and falls neatly into two halves when the first bite is taken. This makes it easy to eat and easy to share – if you can bear to. With a cocoa content of 40%, this Javan chocolate is creamy but not overly sweet, just how I like my milk chocolate to be. Made with only three ingredients and no masking flavours, this is milk chocolate at its purist.
Dominican Republic Dark
The first thing I noticed about this very dark bar of chocolate, was the delicate cocoa pods etched into the bar. Whole cocoa pods and halved ones showing the beans inside are there in extraordinary detail I thought. The next thing I noticed was that the cocoa beans were Criollo, the rarest and finest beans to be grown. Complex chocolate notes emanated from this bar with tobacco being at the fore. The flavour was strong, but not particularly bitter and as it melted on the tongue the tobacco notes were followed by fruiter ones. As in all good quality chocolate I have tried, there is a drying sensation in the mouth, but the chocolate was beautifully smooth. The taste of rich tobaccoey chocolate lingered for quite some time.
As in the Naive bars from Lithuania, the information given about the chocolate goes into fine detail: bean origin Dominican Republic; bean variety Criollo; grind length 80hrs; batch number 2 and cocoa content 80%.
Raw Chocolate Pie
Raw Chocolate Pie is a product I have been a fan of for many years now. Again, I first came across it in Truro, but was later able to buy it in Liskeard at Taste Cornwall, a shop selling only Cornish produce. Sadly the shop closed a couple of years ago and I can no longer buy my pie here.
As the name suggests, these chocolate pies are made with only raw ingredients. They are gluten, dairy and sugar free, so a sweet treat you can indulge in without feeling the least bit guilty. Although they weigh in at only 60g, they are quite rich and filling; this makes over consumption at one sitting quite hard to achieve. These days, the pie comes in lots of different flavours, twelve to be exact, but the ingredients remain raw and few in number. The base ingredients consist of raw cocoa nibs, coconut butter, agave nectar, lucuma powder and carob flour. The distinctive flavour of carob is very much present; I find it melds well with chocolate and the raw and healthy nature of the pie. Cocoa nibs give added interest by providing a crunchy texture. I have tried a number of different flavours over the years, but chilli fiend that I am, the chilli pie remains my favourite. I particularly love the packaging of these pies. they are simple, yet colourful and fun at the same time. They also contain a fair amount of information in a small space without looking overcrowded. Produced by Living Food just outside St Ives, I’m really pleased to have seen the company grow in the years I’ve been enjoying the product. You can buy these raw chocolate pies in a number of retail outlets in Cornwall and also via the online shop.
Colourful when you slice into it, the red of the goji berries and the green of the pumpkin seeds make this one particularly attractive. Packed full of flavour, it has a crunchy consistency which keeps the pie in the mouth for longer.
Softer than the previous pie, but equally crunchy, this one is full of nuts: almonds, pecans, hazel and macadamia.
Pie with Pink Himalayan Salt
The only crunch here is provided by the cocoa nibs but the flavour is really enhanced by the salt.
Liskeard can boast a number of excellent food producers, but I am only highlighting one of them this time. Gingham Chicken is an award winning fudge company that makes delicious fudge entirely by hand. Supporting local traders is very important to Gingham Chicken; as many local ingredients are used as possible, including cream and butter – something I heartily approve of. Ingredients are kept to a minimum and nothing unnecessary is added. Fudge is sold in 100g bags or 250g boxes if you don’t think a bag is enough. There are a wide variety of flavours with Cornish Sea Salt and Pecan being one of the most popular. The tag line “a little bit of indulgence to make your world a more scrumptious place” says it all really. I am reviewing the three available chocolate flavours, yes that’s right, three! I can honestly say I was unable to pick out a favourite, all three were equally scrumptious. You can buy the fudge here in Liskeard at the shop Jelly Pebbles, as well as a number of other local retail outlets, at various food fairs and online. Liskeard really is worth a stop if ever you are passing by on the A38.
I’m always slightly wary of orange flavoured chocolate as I often find the orange tastes artificial and sickly. No such worries here, the orange is fresh and tastes like real orange and both the aroma and flavour of rich chocolate comes through loud and clear. It has a light crumbly texture that just melts in the mouth. It is quite simply delicious.
Just the thought of raspberries had my mouth watering. Summer and the raspberry season still feels like a long way off. This fudge looked really attractive too with the liberal addition of dark red raspberries contrasting nicely with the white chocolate fudge. I was not disappointed, this fudge really tastes of raspberries. White chocolate can make confectionary overly sweet I find, but the raspberries counterbalanced any possible sickliness resulting in a creamy fudge which is really quite delightful.
Inspired by the cocktail of the same name, this fudge contains chocolate, hazelnuts, Baileys and coffee. I was all agog to try this one. I can see where the name came from. There are lots of flavours going on here but blended so well, they were really quite subtle. All but the hazelnut, where the nutty chunks are not only flavourful but provide a good chewy texture to the otherwise light and crumbly fudge.
Mugz Hot Chocolate
Made by the same folk as the Cornish Sushi Company, I came across this at a Christmas fair in Wadebridge. It is to be officially launched on the 1st of May, so look out for it then. So many hot chocolate mixes are overly sweet I find. This one isn’t. It still does the trick for those of us with a sweet tooth, but allows the taste of the chocolate to really come through. It is thick, creamy and delicious. Just heat 250 ml of milk and whisk in 30g of the hot chocolate mix. Ideal for sharing with the one you love, my Mugz came in a 60g tub, enough to make two mugs of hot chocolate.
I have been using Cornish Sea Salt since the company was first launched back in 2008. I use it in my bread making and would find it hard now to contemplate any other. Cornish coastal waters are one of the cleanest in the UK and the salt harvested from them contains over 60 trace elements which are said to help the body metabolise sodium as well as contribute to general health and wellbeing. Interestingly, salt was made along these shores way back in the Iron Age. Not surprisingly, this salt tastes of the sea. Although flavoursome it is quite mild and not like some other salts which can be quite harsh.
This is also my salt of choice when making salted caramel. Now it just so happens that I’ve recently made some Cornish Sea Salted Caramel Brownies featuring this very salt and I will be posting about them soon. When I was sent this pot of salt flakes, I was a little surprised to see the colour of the pot had changed. It took a while to figure out that the clue is in the name and these were flakes rather than the normal large crystals I buy – perfect for sprinkling over a brownie!
And last but by no means least, I have a selection of creamy produce from the Rodda’s dairy. Rodda’s are best known for their delectable clotted cream which has grown from strength to strength since they started making it way back in 1890. I grew up with clotted cream, made by hand from the milk produced by a couple of Guernsey cows in the village. It was an occasional treat, to have on our Sunday porridge or apple crumble. There are many producers of clotted cream in Cornwall and some are better than others. Rodda’s always has a thick yellow crust on the top of their cream. This, in my book, is always the best bit and a sure sign of good quality.
No cream tea worth its name should be served without this glorious accompaniment. I served mine on the saffron buns I recently made with a choice of my own homemade Cornish bramble jelly or blood orange curd. I know I shouldn’t say it, but I really can’t resist. The cream really is best served the Cornish way, on top of the jam (or curd). This means, not only can you generally get more on, but your teeth sink delightfully through the creamy unctuousness which is lost if the jam is on top.
As well as the cream, I was sent a 250g pack of butter and a pot of clotted cream custard. The custard is a new product and is as good as it sounds. You really can taste the clotted cream. We polished it off rather too quickly. I served it with the above mentioned brownies (recipe appearing soon) and it was the perfect accompaniment, both when they were warm and when they were cold. We didn’t heat the custard as it really didn’t need it. In fact, it was so delicious, I had a hard time not eating it straight from the tub.
The butter was just how I remember butter being when I was a child and we bought it straight from our local dairy (the afore mentioned Guernsey cows). It has a beautiful yellow colour to it, indicative of true pasture fed cows and a wonderful creamy taste. It’s the sort of butter you want to eat on your toast or saffron buns and although I used half of it in my brownies, I sort of felt it was a bit of a waste of good butter. The butter is salted. I am so used to unsalted butter or slightly salted that I was rather taken by surprise on first tasting. But my goodness it is delicious and really quite addictive.
Thanks to all of the producers mentioned in this post for providing me with samples of their produce. I was not required to give a positive review and as always, all opinions are my own.
If you have anything suitable you’d like me to review in my next Cornish Cornucopia, do please send an e-mail to choclette (@) gmail (dot) com
This month’s We Should Cocoa is all about coconut. As soon as Laura let on what the ingredient was going to be, I was mulling over some sort of bake using coconut oil, flour and sugar to make a really coconutty treat. I had something in mind, when I remembered seeing a coconut and ginger recipe in the booklet accompanying the Lékué cake pop kit I was sent to try out. As I was rather sceptical about cake pops and couldn’t really see the point of them, I hadn’t yet got around to doing anything with it. The time, it seemed, had come.
The kit consisted of a round pink 18 hole cake pop tray made from platinum silicone and a decomax which is also made from platinum silicone. A recipe booklet is also included along with 20 plastic sticks. The cake pop tray has a base with a lid shaped to encourage the cakes to form perfect balls. The lid also doubles as a cake pop holder which can be used whilst the icing or chocolate coverings set. I didn’t actually use the decomax for this bake, but have used it to decorate my bundt cakes and mini chocolate cakes. As someone who hasn’t managed to get to grips with piping bags, I have been completely won over by it. Having said that, it comes with only 6 nozzles three round and three star shapes of different sizes. It would be good to have a bit more choice. It’s easy to fill, easy to use and is simple to wash. It can also be used to fill the cake pop holes, but in this case it seemed simpler to use a teaspoon for the task. Like the rest of the Lékué products I’ve tried out, the silicone is sturdy and of good quality. The only issue I had with this kit were the plastic sticks, which were really too feeble for the job and bent under the weight of the pops. The kit retails at around £30.
So I adapted Lékué’s recipe, which sounded rather a good one. I used coconut oil rather than olive oil, substituted caster sugar with coconut sugar and used a mix of coconut flour and gluten free flour rather than wheat flour. These were going to be the only adaptations I made, but unfortunately, I started following the measurements from an adjacent recipe instead, so my quantities also ended up being different. Hey ho, never mind.
This is how I made:
Coconut and Ginger Cake Pops
- Creamed 80g of softened coconut oil with 110g coconut sugar until well beaten.
- Beat in 1 duck egg (or use a large hen egg).
- Sifted in 135g flour (I used ⅓ coconut flour and ⅔ gluten free flour), 1½ tsp baking powder and 1 tsp ground ginger.
- Stirred in alternately with 4 tbsp Greek yogurt and 2 tbsp water.
- Added 35g shredded coconut and mixed until just combined.
- Spooned teaspoonfuls into the 18 hole Lékué silicone cake pop mould to fill up to the brim (it is suggested that the mixture is piped in, but as the mixture was quite stiff, it seemed easier to spoon it in).
- Covered the mould with the lid and baked at 180℃ for 16 minutes.
- Removed the lid, left to cool for a few minutes then turned them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Melted 250g 65% dark chocolate (Inaya pur noir) in a pan over very low heat with 60g unsalted butter and 2 tbsp double cream.
- Stirred until just combined.
- Inserted sticks into the cake pops and coated with the chocolate ganache. Placed the sticks in the handy holes on the lid and decorated with a little shredded coconut.
- Left to set.
Despite the myriad disasters I had whilst making these: wrong ingredients, cakes sliding down the stick, ganache being rather thick to work with and chocolate spreading itself over me and the kitchen, I was immensely pleased with my first ever cake pops. They tasted delicious and I finally saw the point of them. Eating little bits of cake covered in chocolate is a very different experience from eating a slice of cake with chocolate on the top. The higher ratio of chocolate to cake turned it into an intense and indulgent occasion. This was aided by the wonderfully complex notes of the 65% Inaya pur noir chocolate I used from Cacao Barry. I will also concede that the cake pops looked rather good too. I might add that these had a number of tasters and they all concurred with my assessment as they dug into their second cake pop. CT even managed a third.
Click the link to find out what other chocolate and coconut recipes I’ve made.
This is my entry to We Should Cocoa which is guest hosted this month by Laura of I’d Much Rather Bake Than …. Coconut is her ingredient of choice and with three types of coconut used, these cake pops are nothing if not coconutty.
I didn’t manage to link up with The Spice Trail last month which was a shame as I was keen to try caraway in something other than my bread. However I have managed it this month as the chosen spice is ginger. Ginger is one of my favourite spices and we get through a lot of it in this household. This event is hosted by Vanesther of Bangers & Mash.
This month’s Love Cake theme is giving up. Well I’m not a great fan of giving up, but this was fairly specific. We have to bake a cake or cakes without at least one of the standard ingredients, i.e. wheat flour, butter, sugar or eggs. I have managed to bake these pops without three of the ingredients, so feel I can be a little bit proud. This is hosted by Ness over at JibberJabberUK.
The theme for this month’s Tea Time Treats is decorative cakes. Whilst my pictures may not show the more successful cake pops off to their best advantage, they really did look rather cute and definitely decorative. Hosted this month by Janie of The Hedge Combers, it is hosted alternately by Karen of Lavender and Lovage.
Made from scratch as they are with lots of good for you ingredients, I’m sending these of to Javelin Warrior for his Made with Love Mondays.
With their jaunty tops bobbing away on sticks and the yellow centres, I reckon these could pass off as Spring like, so I am entering them into Calendar Cakes hosted by Dolly Bakes where the theme this month is Spring Into Action.
Thanks to Lékué for sending me the cake pop kit to try out and to Cacao Barry for the chocolate. I was not required to write positive reviews and as always all opinions are my own.
Saffron with its bright yellow hues and subtle floral and bitter notes is a spice which seems singularly exotic. But it has long been associated with Cornwall. It is said that the Cornish traded with the Phoenicians way back, exchanging tin for saffron and it’s been used here ever since. This may or may not be true, but saffron was a highly popular ingredient in the Middle Ages and saffron crocuses were grown in Bude until the late 19th Century.
Creme Egg doughnuts are one of those phenomena that seem to be doing the rounds at the moment. The sugar hit that comes from eating one of these must be something else; I have it on good authority that running around in circles for sometime after having consumed one is not unusual. As someone whose childhood sweet tooth has mellowed, I still have a ridiculous fondness for Cadbury creme eggs. But I wasn’t sure I could cope with ladling on even more sugar.
When I was asked if I’d like to review some creme eggs, I had doughnuts very much in mind and knew that the time had come to try baking with these chocolate eggs. To temper some of the sweetness, I thought I would try baking them into an unsweetened bread roll – well pain au chocolate works!
As soon as I figured that out, I thought I could make pizza dough and use a little of it for two small bread rolls, leaving enough for a pizza supper. Instead of using olive oil in the dough, I tried using hazelnut oil instead, thinking that would give a welcome nuttiness to the pizza and make the bread part of my creme egg bun a little more interesting.
Creme eggs, just in case anyone is unaware, are a classic Easter treat from Cadbury: a milk chocolate shell filled with sugar fondant, white with a yellow centre, mimicking an actual egg. They are very sweet. As a child, I used to be sent a pack of them every Easter from my grandmother and I’d try and eek them out for as long as I could.
Along with the creme eggs, I was sent two packs of a new to me cadbury product which came out last Easter: Egg ‘n’ Spoon – one of each kind. Ingeniously packed into an egg box, the four eggs come complete with two spoons, which I thought rather cute. A milk chocolate shell contains either a white chocolate or milk chocolate mousse depending on which variety you have.
I decided to try mine in an egg cup and eat it with the spoon. The top comes off easily, leaving a nicely jagged shell and the contents were easily spooned out of it. Personally, I didn’t find the eating experience that good, the chocolate was soft, so I’m guessing the cocoa content was very low and the mousse was OK, but no more than that. However, these are great for sharing and are a really fun Easter idea; I suspect kids would love them, I know I would have done.
To keep the kids, or even yourself, amused after the eggs have disappeared, you can get crafty and create a Batty Aunt Polly’s Earring Drum out of the two empty boxes.
This is how I made:
Creme Egg Buns
- Threw 250g flour (half wholemeal, half strong white) into a bowl together with 1 tsp instant yeast, 1/4 tsp salt and ½ tsp maca powder (one of those super foods that are meant to be so good for us).
- Made a well in the centre and added 1 tbsp hazelnut oil and 150ml warm water.
- Stirred until just combined, then turned out onto an oiled worktop and kneaded for about 10 minutes.
- Cut off an ⅛ of the dough and returned the rest to a covered bowl and left to rise in the cool for a few more hours.
- Cut the small bit of dough into two and rolled each piece into a rectangle just big enough to wrap around an egg.
- Encased two eggs in the dough ensuring they were properly sealed.
- Placed on a lined baking tray and left to rise in a warm place for an hour.
- Brushed with milk and baked at 200°C for 12 minutes when the tops were golden and the bottoms sounded hollow when tapped.
- Placed on a wire rack to cool.
I thought CT wouldn’t be able to handle anything quite as sweet as these, so I only left him half of one to try. I had one warm and a half cold. I have never had a warm cream egg before, but I can attest it is an experience worth having. In fact it was rather delicious, the contents having completely melted and soaked lusciously into the bread. However, it was the second one where the egg had time to set which I enjoyed the best and surprisingly CT enjoyed it too. As I’d hoped, the plain bread acted as a good foil for the sweet egg and worked very well indeed with the hazelnut notes giving a little added interest.
These would be a fun and interesting way of using up leftover Easter chocs – assuming you ever have such a thing! Of course if you really wanted to party, you could forget the pizza and use this amount of dough to make 16 creme egg buns
Chocolate comes in many forms and here it comes in the form of hand cream. Cocoa butter has long been used for cosmetic purposes. I have used it myself on occasion to make my own body butter and lip balm. Cocoa butter is said to have a number of benefits: it is high in fatty acids helping to keep skin hydrated, high in antioxidants known for fighting off free radicals which stress the skin and helps to reduce stretch marks and scar tissue.
Hotel Chocolat now do a range of skin care products, Cocoa Juvenate – all using cocoa butter of course. In addition to the benefits already stated, they claim there is an extra feel good factor and that slapping it all over will enhance your mood as well as rejuvenate your skin. Great for chocoholics who can now have an all round chocolate body experience, both inside and outside; the skin is, after all, the biggest organ of the body. When I was offered a tube of Revive, the Cocoa Juvenate hand cream, I was very happy to try it out. Like many of us hard working food bloggers, I don’t pay as much attention to my hands as I should. They get very dry from frequent washing. This isn’t helped by my gardening activities; soil is notorious for drying out the skin.
As well as cocoa butter, Revive contains shea butter, mango seed oil and honey, all good protective moisturising ingredients. The scent is pleasant, if a little strong for me and reminds me of bergamot. A little goes a long way and massaged into hands and cuticles, it is almost instantly absorbed, leaving hands smooth but not at all greasy. The hand cream came in a very smart paper handbag echoing the black and white packaging of the product, which itself has a silver cocoa bean printed both on the box and the tube.
Available in store and online, a 100ml tube costs £19.
With Mother’s Day fast approaching, this is a gift which will surely be appreciated. Mummy bloggers, multi taskers par excellence, deserve a little pampering from time to time. In that spirit, I’d like to pass the love on to one of them. Galina of Chez Maximka is a devoted mother and blogger. She is also a prolific cook and artist to boot. With two sons, one with autism, her life is very busy – I don’t know how she does it.
May her hands be smooth, silky and fragrant.
Thanks to Hotel Chocolat for the hand cream. There was no requirement to write a positive review and as always all opinions are my own.
Last month on Valentine’s Day, I received a surprise tray of stone fruit from Beautiful Country Beautiful Fruit – I felt the love. These colourful, juicy ripe and ready to eat plums and nectarines were most welcome after the months of excessive grey, rain and cold we’ve been experiencing this winter. They tasted of warmth and sunshine. With summer very much in mind and wanting to show off the fabulous purple of the plums, ice-cream was the first thing that sprang to mind. Just like cherries, I find that almonds go particularly well with plums, so I decided to use some amaretto liqueur in the mix along with a few amaretti biscuits for a touch of additional luxury.
The ice cream turned out just as I’d hoped. The fruit gave a welcome splash of tartness, cutting through the sweet cream and the flavour of both fruit and almond was well to the fore; the additional crunch from the biscuits gave added interest.
I am submitting this to #RecipeOfTheWeek over at A Mummy Too
I’m entering this into Dead Easy Desserts over at Maison Cupcake where any preparation has to be achieved within 30 mins. Despite cooking plums and melting chocolate, this is a simple dessert that can easily be achieved in this time if the chocolate is melting whilst the plums are cooking. You could even melt the chocolate over the cooking plums.
- 500g purple plums (6 large ones) – washed and stoned
- 2 tbsp Amaretto
- 200ml Condensed milk
- 600ml Double cream
- 80g White chocolate
- 7 amaretti biscuits
- Chop the plums and place in a pan with the 2 tbsp water. Simmer until soft (about 10 mins). Leave to cool. Add Amaretto & blend to a puree.
- Melt the chocolate in a bowl suspended over hot water (make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Stir in 100g of the condensed milk.
- Whip the double cream until soft peaks form, taking care not to over whip. Add the rest of the condensed milk and whip again to ensure peaks remain.
- Add the white chocolate and stir in.
- Crush 5 amaretti biscuits and stir in.
- Fold in the fruit mixture to create a ripple effect. Spoon into a 2 x 1 litre freezer containers. Crush an amaretti biscuit over each batch. Cover and freeze.
Yield: 2 litres