Happy Valentine’s Day. Today is of course a very important day for lovers. For me, however, Valentines Day has additional meaning. it’s the day CT and I set off on our year long adventure around the Antipodes and the day we arrived back home. It’s also the day I started my blog, Chocolate Log Blog, as it was then. So to celebrate this love of all things chocolate, I have a box of luscious chocolates from Hotel Chocolat for one lucky chocolate lover – a Valentine’s Day Giveaway.
I have a bit of a thing for hot chocolate. So what better way to mark such a momentous and romantic day as this Honeyed Rose Hot Chocolate. Today is not only St Valentine’s Day, but also my blog anniversary. Yes, my blog, in its first iteration as Chocolate Log Blog and now latterly Tin and Thyme, is seven today.
Astonishingly, this blog is five years old today. To celebrate, rather than a St Valentine’s Day Massacre, I’ve engineered something all together more festive.
The simple truth is, that despite the many, many things I’ve baked and prepared over the past five years, I’ve hardly scratched the surface of chocolate cookery. This is a good thing, I reckon, because, unlike Valentine’s Day ephemera, chocolate will never ever lose its appeal. Drawing on the collective brilliance of contributors to We Should Cocoa, the many excellent food blogs and chocolate cookbooks, my own creations and adaptations, there is not a chance that I will run out of things to make in the next five or even fifty years.
Another year on and I and my Chocolate Log Blog have notched up a few more achievements. I was chuffed to bits to reach #3 in the Foodies100 Top Twenty UK Food Blogs for 2013. Not only that I was also in their Top Twenty Food Bloggers on Twitter too. I didn’t think things could get any better, but it turned out they absolutely did. The January edition of Cornwall Today featured Chocolate Log Blog as one of the best five Cornish blogs – wow and I didn’t even bribe them with cake. You can see the article on the author’s site at Saffron Bunny. I had another recipe published, this time in the Plymouth Herald, maybe not quite as prestigious as the Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook, but still very pleasing.
Two big events stood out: I baked an astonishing number of things both for a grand party and a market stall. It was a lot of hard work, but very satisfying to see it all disappear with complimentary comments all round. I continue to attend Cornwall Clandestine Cake Club whenever I am able and try to take part in as many blog challenges as I can. This past year has seen a prodigious proliferation of these, so I’m amazed to have done as many as I have. Living in remote Cornwall, I don’t get out very often, but I did manage to make it up to Cheltenham to meet some of my food blogging chums in June last year. We’ve also had a few events down in this part of the world where I’ve got to meet-up with bloggers old and new. The trip to Riverford was a particularly good one and the chocolate workshop with Nicky Grant was a real pleasure. Cornwall has food festivals aplenty, but scattered as they are, I don’t get to many of them. Having heard from Fiona of London Unattached just how good the Boscastle one was, I made it there last year for the first time. She was right, it was a great festival with plenty to see and do and the setting is lovely. I had the added bonus of meeting up with her as well as Nat from the HungryHinny.
So to celebrate Chocolate Log Blog’s Birthday as well as Valentine’s Day and give CT something to munch on (he has offered both me and my blog invaluable support after all), I have made these little chocolate cakes – dark and lush as befits this day of love. The cake recipe I adapted from one in Treat Petite by Fiona Pearce, a newly published book I shall be reviewing shortly. The whipped dark chocolate ganache, however, I made up myself from some leftover chocolate sauce I’d made for another recipe (soon to be appearing on the blog).
Just in time to make these and as a wonderful Valentine’s gift, I received a lovely bundle of chocolate goodies and hearts from Dr Oetker, including some heart-shaped marshmallows which were fun. Fancy decorating has never been my strong point, but for this special occasion, I thought I’d pull out the stops and pipe the ganache on top of the cakes, using my new Lékué silicone decomax (review to follow in an upcoming post).
I also received this gorgeous Valentine’s gift from Eden’s Gourmet Apples, which was a lovely surprise and disappeared rather quicker than it probably should have done. The apple was crisp and tart which was a great foil for the sweet caramel and chocolate.
This is how I made:
Mini Chocolate Valentine’s Hearts with Whipped Chocolate Ganache
- Melted 60g dark 70% chocolate in a pan over low heat with 160ml strong black coffee. Stirred until smooth, then removed from the heat.
- Creamed 90g unsalted butter together with 225g dark brown sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Beat in 2 duck eggs (use large hen eggs), one at a time.
- Sifted in 100g flour (half wholemeal spelt, half white), ¾ tsp baking powder, 2 tbsp cocoa powder and 40g ground almonds.
- Stirred until just incorporated.
- Spooned into 24 mini cupcake moulds filling them to about ¾ full. Spooned the rest into 4 full-sized cupcake cases.
- Baked at 180°C for about 15 minutes until well risen and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
- Left to cool in the moulds for a couple of minutes, then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- About ¾ batch of chocolate sauce which had been left in the fridge and had set – 200g double cream, 150g 85% dark chocolate and 2 tbsp maple syrup all melted together.
- Whipped this up with 2 tbsp of strong black coffee until light and moussy.
- Spooned this into the Lékué piping container and using a large star nozzle piped blobs onto the cooled cakes.
- Decorated with various hearts
The cakes are rich, moist and very chocolatey. The small elegant bite-sized cakes are easy to eat and with no inhibiting cases to dispose of make for perfect finger food. CT has given them his seal of approval by downing several in quick succession and declaring them better than any bunch of roses.
Thanks go, as always, to you my readers and fellow food bloggers. I would most certainly not have had the fortitude to have continued without your support, participation and comments.
As an extra chocolatey treat, I have picked ten super scrumptious chocolatey posts from other UK bloggers to hopefully inspire you over at Foodies 100 – Ten at Ten: the chocolate edition.
Chocolate is quite rightly the theme for this month’s Tea Time Treats over at Lavender and Lovage. This is a monthly event to load a tea table with more goodies than it can possible manage. Karen’s partner in crime is Jane over at The Hedge Combers.
I am submitting these to the No Waste Food Challenge as I had some leftover chocolate sauce that needed using up. It would, er, obviously, have gone to waste if I hadn’t used it up in this recipe 😉 Normally hosted at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary, this month Fiona of London Unattached is taking the reigns.
I am also submitting these cakes to Credit Crunch Munch for the same reason as above plus I omitted the cupcake cases and saved a few pennies by so doing. I was really quite pleased with their naked appearance. This challenge is hosted by Camilla of Fab Food 4 All and Helen of Fuss Free Flavours, but is guest hosted this month by Angela over at the wonderful My Golden Pear.
Today, the 14th February, a number of things coincide: Chocolate Log Blog is four, the Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook, featuring one of my recipes, is published and I’m off to attend my 5th CCC meeting, which just happens to be at Waterstones in Truro. This 4th blog anniversary feels like the perfect time to post about CCC.
I’m sure most of you will have heard of the phenomenon that is Clandestine Cake Club (CCC) by now. If not, it is a gathering of cake bakers and lovers who meet, usually on a monthly basis at a secret venue, to eat and talk cake. Initiated by Lynn Hill back in 2010, it has now gone global. Lynn has been working very hard over the last year or so to write a book highlighting some of the best cakes that have been made by herself and other CCC members. As any good Clandestine Cake Club member will know, cakes are the only thing on the menu, no brownies, cupcakes or muffins allowed, just full on proper sized cakes. Thus the book’s 120 recipes are all for cake and what a wondrous collection they are: classic cakes, Victorian cakes, fruity cakes, global cakes, zesty cakes, chocolatey cakes, celebration cakes and creative cakes. In it you will find a cake for any occasion from the full on Toffee Shock Cake with it’s four layers of different flavoured batter, fudge icing and caramel to the more homely and old fashioned Caraway Seed Cake. This hardback book is well laid out and importantly stays open at the chosen recipe. Pictures abound, virtually every cake is accompanied by a photograph. I submitted two entries my Chocrhutea didn’t make it but happily the other one did. I very much hope the book will be a rip roaring success, it certainly deserves to be.
Due to work commitments, I am unable to attend the Cornwall CCC as often as I’d like, but I have been known to make the odd appearance. My very first time was back in May last year where I made a Passionfruit Curd Sponge Cake for a fruit themed event held at Baker Tom’s new bakery in Pool near Camborne. This has become my second recipe to be published in a print book (though I do have a few floating around in various e-books) and I am absolutely thrilled.
My second event had a Fairy Tale theme and was held down in the woods at Cardinham. There were many fabulous creations, I went for the simple approach: a Fairy Godmother cake with basic wand decoration. More accurately, it could be described as a dense chocolate and rose cake.
My third outing took place in a tiny new cafe, Grounded, which had just opened in Truro. I made a Hazelnut and Orange Torte for this one where I experimented with my new cappuccino stencils. The theme was Italian tortes.
Ellie Michell is our hard working organiser. She has come up with some fantastic venues and themes. I only wish I could manage to get to more of them. In celebration of Cornwall CCC’s first anniversary, Ellie chose a birthday party theme down at the Watergate Bay Hotel near Newquay. For this one, I made a Cornish sea salted caramel chocolate cake.
So, thank you to all the lovely visitors to Chocolate Log Blog. I doubt I would have had the heart to carry on this long without you. I’d especially like to thank those that take the time to comment on my posts, it is this interaction which makes it so worthwhile. Whilst I’m at it, I’d also like to thank all those that have contributed to We Should Cocoa, either as a host or entrant. Once again, it is your contributions that make the whole business so much fun; I would never have dreamt of half of the things you all come up with, you are an inspiration.
Can you believe it? I certainly can’t. This blog is three years old today!
Thank you so much to all the wonderful folk who follow my blog, leave comments, bear with me, visit and join in the We Should Cocoa challenges. I really couldn’t do it without you. Much as I started this blog as inspiration to make me bake a more diverse range of chocolate goodies, it has morphed into something else and I don’t think I would have come nearly as far as I have if it hadn’t been for all of you.
For this, my third blogiversary, I wanted to take a highlight from each month of the last year. This proved to be much harder than I’d anticipated – there were a number of significant events worthy of inclusion, but I made myself stick to only one – cue applause. Here they are:
February 2011 – really excited by the quality and quantity of entries for the We Should Cocoa tea challenge and to have the brilliant prize of a box of Matcha Chocolat tea chocolates.
|March 2011 – having fun playing with some of the words associated with my blog on this wordle cloud|
|April 2011 – rolo cake for a friend’s 3rd birthday|
|May 2011 – baking with my first ever goose egg|
|June 2011 – a triple chocolate matcha cake for a dear friend’s birthday|
|July 2011 – weather and time permitted a miracle tea party down at our plot|
|August 2011 – my first time joining in with Celia’s wonderful In My Kitchen series|
|September 2011- another friend’s birthday and a 2nd and more successful attempt at piping with these chocolate and ginger cupcakes|
|October 2011 – my mega baking session for a friend’s all weekend party|
|November 2011 – a weekend of food blogger meet ups with Vanessa’s Lets Make Christmas in London and Annie Ko’s Bite n Write in Birmingham|
|December 2011 – one of several Christmas Hampers I made – a true labour of love|
|January 2012 – not much of a picture, but I was inordinately proud of these top tea cakes – the most delicious I have ever eaten|
|February 2011 – hooray and just in time for the double celebration of my blogiversary and Valentine’s Day, I won this amazingly hug box of chocolates from Simply Food – and I haven’t touched a one yet! The chocolates that I made for CT and in anticipation of this post will just have to feature another day.|
It’s hard for me to believe that my blog has been going now for two full years. Last year, at the grand old age of one, I thought I’d achieved a lot. This year, I’ve done even more. Chocolate Log Blog has undergone some changes and is evolving all the time; it is quite a different beast to when it started in those dim and distant days of 2009. My blog is first and foremost about baking and cooking with chocolate, but not exclusively. I’ve really enjoyed reviewing a number of chocolate products over the last year and hope to continue with this. I’ve attended my first chocolate tasting and sampled some top notch chocolates. I hosted my first giveaway in 2010 and have organised another competition. In my quest to find good cafes and teashops, I shall continue to make the odd mention of favoured localities.
Six months ago, Chele of Chocolate Teapot and I started the We Should Cocoa challenge which I’ve really enjoyed doing. I’ve discovered new blogs I didn’t know about and am constantly amazed at how inventive people are and how many things there are to make. As a result, my list of chocolate goodies is now bigger than it has ever been.
My blog is by no means one of the greats and my daily hits are modest. However, I have made it into the top twenty of Wikio’s gastronomy blogs and Cision’s top ten UK confectionery and baking blogs. I’m not really sure how meaningful these are, but it has been a welcome ego boost nonetheless. Over the last few months I’ve received a number of blog awards from some valued blogger colleagues. As some of you may know, I am a bit ambivalent about blog awards, but I would like to give heartfelt thanks to the following people who very kindly passed them on to me.
One of the real joys of blogging and one I hadn’t at all expected, is interacting with others and getting to know a bit more about the people behind the blogs. I’d like to say a big thank you to my followers and everyone else who visits, but most of all I’d like to thank those who leave comments. It is this interaction that makes it feel like fun.
I would not like this occasion to go uncelebrated, so I have a birthday gift for my blog: a new page of links to blogs that I particularly rate.
Well, it’s hard to imagine, but this l’l ol’ blog is one year old today.
Challenges? Plenty of those: how to make something that might taste good but looks a little – hmm – shall we say “sad” into a photogenic edible delight; just trying to get a quarter decent photograph in bad light; turning up without a cake on someone’s birthday and not feeling guilty; trying not to be too disappointed when things didn’t work out as I’d hoped; thinking creatively of what to cook next; unrealistically raising CT’s expectations of cake every day.