Almond Topped Cherry Scones

Almond Topped Cherry Scones plus a review of Andrew James Stainless Steel Set of 5 Bowls with Airtight Lids.

Summer is truly here. Sunshine, Wimbledon, Strawberries and Scones. Well except for today, as it is raining, a welcome relief for the garden. Today I bring you not strawberries, but another seasonal summer treat, cherries. Stunning, deep ruby red jewels, that hang like earrings from the tree. Preserved as glacé cherries meaning these Almond Topped Cherry Scones can be made any time of the year.

FF Almond Topped Cherry Scones
Almond Topped Cherry Scones a classic flavour pairing.

Combining the flavours of cherry and almond in these scones is game changing. Add clotted cream and dark cherry preserve and you have yourself a delicious scone that is bursting with flavour. Honestly, I wish that I had made these scones a very long time ago, such is the pleasure obtained from the experience of eating one.

FF Almond Topped Cherry Scones
Almond Topped Cherry Scones extra special during cherry season.

Having been sent a nest of Stainless Steel Bowls with Airtight Lids by Andrew James, I decided to see how much damage I could do to them. Seriously, when reviewing new products they need to be put through a tough regime. As mentioned before, new or replacement equipment has to earn a place in my kitchen. Since honest reviews are the only ones you will ever read on this blog, your trust is never taken for granted.

FF Almond Topped Cherry Scones
Almond Topped Cherry Scones perfect for Afternoon Tea

Since first making shortcrust pastry in the 3500ml, the second largest bowl, then proceeding to make the scone dough in the same bowl. Again using a pastry cutter to cut the fats into the flour. I knew if anything could mess up these bowls, the pastry cutter would give them a hard time. Yet, following a full cycle in the dishwasher, the bowl came out virtually untouched.

FF Almond Topped Cherry Scones
Tested bowl on top, nest of bowls bottom.

The result of really attacking this bowl with a pastry cutter, a few scratches. In all fairness I was very heavy handed when making the pastry and scones. What I absolutely love about these bowls is the non slip base. Whether whisking up Yorkshire Puddings, Ice Cream, or pouring homemade Tomato Sauce into them, these bowls do not shift on the worktop. Each bowl comes with airtight fitted lids, with the largest bowl having a lid with a removable centre. Perfect for splash control when whisking liquids see Lime Ripple Luxury Ice Cream. Finally, the only minor downside to these bowls is that they cannot be used in the microwave. A small price to pay for the robust Stainless Steel bowl with non slip base and airtight lid.

These bowls come as a nest of 5 in the following sizes:

  • 4500ml capacity – 26cm diameter
  • 3000ml capacity – 24cm diameter
  • 2500ml capacity – 22cm diameter
  • 2000ml capacity – 20cm diameter
  • 1000ml capacity – 18cm diameter

 

FF Almond Topped Cherry Scones
A whole variety of uses in the kitchen.
FF Almond Topped Cherry Scones
Some of the recipes made using the stainless steel bowls.

Even though these bowls cannot be used in the microwave, they are so versatile and robust, not forgetting to mention space saving. Since all of the bowls stack conveniently inside each other. They receive a firm 5 out of 5 from me. These bowls are a welcome addition to my busy kitchen. If you are quick and order before the end of July, use SAMMIE10 code for a super 10% discount.

FF Almond Topped Cherry Scones
Almond Topped Cherry Scones

Time to make the scones!

Recipe: Almond Topped Cherry Scones makes 10

450g/1lb Plain White Flour

1/4tsp Salt – I use Maldon

40g/1.75oz Caster Sugar

3tsp Baking Powder

75g/3oz Cold Unsalted Butter cut into cubes

25g/1oz Cold Vegetable Fat – Trex

75g/3oz Natural Glacé Cherries cut into halves

250mls Whole Milk plus a little extra to brush the tops of the scones before baking

2tsp Almond Extract – I use Nielsen-Massey

2-3tbsp Flaked Almonds

Method: Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan, gas mark 7

  • Line a large baking tray with baking parchment.
  • Sieve in the flour and baking powder, then add both of the fats.
  • Using the tips of your fingers, or a pastry cutter, work the fats into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs with some larger, pea sized pieces of fat visible.
  • Next add the salt and sugar. Mix together using a balloon whisk.
  • Now add half of the glacé cherries. Toss them about in the mixture, this prevents them sticking together. Add the other half and do the same.
  • Make a well in the centre of the mix, pour in the milk and almond extract.
  • Use a butter knife to gently stir the milk into the flour mix. As the dough starts to come together switch to using your hand. Gently bringing the mix to a coherent dough.
  • Tip the dough on to a floured surface and gently knead to form a 5cm/2″ thick disc.
  • Using a well floured 5cm/2″ round cutter, cut out the scones, remembering to press straight down without twisting the cutter. Twisting can cause odd shaped or lopsided scones as they bake. Place each scone on to the lined baking tray.
  • Bring all the bits of scone dough together once the scones are cut, knead lightly and continue to cut out the remaining scones. Repeat the last step until all of the dough is used.
  • Once all of the scones have been cut out brush the tops with milk and sprinkle over flaked almonds.
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Making the Almond Topped Cherry Scones
  • Place the baking tray into the centre of the preheated oven and bake for 25 – 30 minutes.
  • The Almond Topped Cherry Scones are baked when they are risen, golden brown and sound hollow when rapped on the base with a knuckle.
  • Once baked remove the scones from the oven and place immediately on to a cooling rack to cool.
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Baked Almond Topped Cherry Scones cooling on a rack.
  • When the scones are cooled, or slightly warm then they are ready to be served.
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Serve the Almond Topped Cherry Scones on a platter.

I like to serve the scones on a large platter with ramekins of clotted cream and cherry preserve. Adding fresh cherries when they are in season, finishes the platter beautifully.

Serve with a large pot of tea and the best china you own!

All scones are at their best on the day they are made. If you wish to make ahead, you can do so by one day. Make the scones, cool completely and store in an airtight container, such as the large stainless steel bowls. The next day 20 minutes prior to serving, warm in a preheated oven, at baking temperature for 5-10 minutes. Cool slightly and serve. Rather like bread, the reheating simply refreshes the scones and they taste freshly baked.

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Almond Topped Cherry Scones you may also like these:

Fruit Filled Butter Scones

FF Almond Topped Cherry Scones
Fruit Filled Butter Scones

Afternoon Tea

FF Almond Topped Cherry Scones
Afternoon Tea

Super Light Scones

FF Almond Topped Cherry Scones
Super Light Scones

Homemade scones are a world away from their shop bought counterparts. In fact I never even liked scones before I made them myself. Essential to any Afternoon Tea they are simply the easiest treat to quickly make should visitors unexpectedly arrive. Making the scone dough in the Stainless Steel bowl made the process even easier. Especially with the non slip base and dishwasher safe factors.

If you make these Almond Topped Cherry Scones please let me know? I love and really appreciate reading the comments that you take time to leave. Pop a picture on Twitter or Instagram and tag me in. I’ll be sure to give you a shoutout from @sammiefeasting.

Do take a look at this nest of bowls and don’t forget your 10% discount code SAMMIE10, only available against these bowls from Andrew James. I highly recommend them for camping, caravaning or even taking on holiday as they are super lightweight.

Whatever you are making, baking and creating in you kitchens or indeed caravans, have fun creating your feast.

I regularly bake on holiday. Do you?

Sammie xx

Andrew James provided me with the nest of 5 stainless steel bowls with matching airtight lids for the purpose of review. All comments and opinions are my own and are a complete reflection of my experience in using them. I was not paid to write this post and the discount is curtesy of Andrew James. No part of this post may be reproduced in any way without my prior permission. Please see my Disclosure Policy for further details.

 

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1886 Cola Franklins New Drink Review

Summer is here! Gorgeous sunny days, or warm, cloudy, humid days. We all need to keep hydrated and especially drink lots of cooling, refreshing drinks. So can you imagine how excited I am to bring you a brand new drink. In keeping with the rest of their soft drinks, this too is free from artificial additives and preservatives. Welcome to the 1886 Cola Franklins New Drink Review.

FF 1886 Cola Franklins New Drink Review
1886 Cola Franklins New Drink Review ice cold.

Since trying a sip of a major brand cola a few years ago, I have avoided it at all costs. While I’m not quite sure what happened between my teens and now, it absolutely affected my taste buds. Too sweet. Way too sweet and never would I consider drinking a diet version with all it’s Aspartame. So, in response I drink sparkling water. Refreshing but, at times, a bit boring. Until now!

FF 1886 Cola Franklins New Drink Review
1886 Cola Franklins New Drink Review taking the bar outside.

What a revelation this new 1886 Cola with West African Kola nut and Colombian coffee bean is! On tasting, this drink definitely rings the familiar Cola bells. Yet the overwhelming sweetness is missing, as is the bitter, can’t quite put a finger on it, aftertaste that is present in most Cola drinks, diet or not. Resulting in a pure Cola flavour that leaves one’s mouth clean, refreshed and thirst quenched.

FF 1886 Cola Franklins New Drink Review
1886 Cola Franklins New Drink Review prepare the glasses.

Rum and Cola is a classic combination that is even better using this new 1886 Cola. The hint of caramel and ginger, barely perceptible on its own, blend beautifully with a great quality rum. Appleton Signature Blend over ice with Franklin and Son’s  1886 Cola is completely delicious. If you enjoy Rum and Cola I urge you to give both of these drinks combined, a try. Disappointment will not be a problem.

FF Cola Franklins New Drink Review
1886 Cola with Appleton Rum Signature Blend.

While the summer weather continues to be warm, enjoying a drink outside becomes an extra pleasure. Sitting in the garden, listening to the birds chirping, drink in hand is a great way to relax.

FF 1886 Cola Franklins New Drink Review
Plenty of ice, Cola and a maraschino cherry is my favourite.

At 40 calories per 100ml, with the perfect balance of sweetness, a diet version of this Cola is most definitely not needed. Chilled and poured over ice, with the addition of one, or two maraschino cherries is my favourite way to enjoy this drink. Great on its own or as a mixer, this Cola is available in larger 750ml bottles from Sainsbury’s.

Franklin’s are known for their natural approach to creating outstanding soft drinks and mixers. Why not ask for it next time you are out at a pub or club. More establishments are stocking the Franklin’s range. How great is it to sit in a beer garden, on a sunny afternoon and treat your kids to a great tasting drink that isn’t full of additives?

If you have enjoyed this post for 1886 Cola Franklins New Drink Review you may also like this:

Franklin’s Fruity Summer Drink

FF Cola Franklins New Drink Review
Franklins Fruity Summer Drink non alcoholic with a taste perfect for those who like Pimms but can’t drink alcohol.

Franklin’s Drinks Review

FF 1886 Cola Franklins New Drink Review
Franklin’s Drinks Review a thorough review of their soft drinks range available last summer 2016.

Delicious, refreshing, natural soft drinks from a name I have learned to trust and enjoy.

I hope you have fun in the sun this summer. Baking, creating, picnicking and chilling in the garden with those you love.

Sammie xx

Franklin and Son’s provided me with samples of their new 1886 Cola for the purposes of a review. This post reflects my honest opinion of the drink that I reviewed. All opinions, content including photography are my own. I was not paid to write this post. Please see my Disclosure Policy for further information. No part of this post may be reproduced without my written consent.

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Steamer Trading Host Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea

Mother’s Day will soon be upon us. Sunday March 26th 2017 here in the U.K. To help celebrate Mothering Sunday, Steamer Trading asked me to help them set up an Afternoon Tea. I jumped at the opportunity, knowing that the quality and variety of kitchen and cookware they sell is outstanding. While also confident that some easy bakes would partner perfectly with beautiful table and bakeware. See for yourself how Steamer Trading Host Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea.

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Steamer Trading Host Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea beautifully laid out delightful sweet treats.

Homemade cakes and treats always taste much better than shop bought. If, however, baking is an area where confidence is lacking here’s the perfect solution. Buy a few pretty cakes and then make the scones, Super Light Scones . Since this recipe is the easiest on Feasting is Fun and guaranteed to bring a smile to Mum’s face. Add a pot of luxurious clotted cream and strawberry jam to turn this Afternoon Tea into a real feast!

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Afternoon Tea using the Burleigh Felicity tea set

No Afternoon Tea is complete without a beautiful tea set. Having been sent a Burleigh Felicity Teapot I decided to start a collection. Tea cup and saucer, large dinner plate, side plate, pasta bowl and finally a sugar bowl. All bought to start my own collection. As a result of having built a whole set over time. The pattern and style have a timeless quality and style.

FF Steamer Trading Host Mother's Day Afternoon Tea
The domed two tier cake stand takes centre stage.

Within the items sent to me was this Domed Slate Cake Stand. Perfect for keeping bugs out and cakes fresh. Since the slate cake stand also stands alone, the wooden base and dome may also be used to display another tasty item. Maybe cheese and crackers. Most of all, the packaging keeps the cake stand and dome well protected between use. While the slate is sturdy and creates a solid background from which to display the cakes.

FF Steamer Trading Host Mother's Day Afternoon Tea
Heart shaped Strawberry and Cream Victoria Sponge.

Picture above is Sophie Conran Cake Server. Highly polished, with a simple, smooth design. As beautiful sitting on the table as it is practical in serving the Heart Shaped Strawberry and Cream Victoria Sponge. Baked using the  Springform Heart Tin. In addition to baking cakes, because of the springform element, this tin would be especially good for creating cheesecakes.

FF Steamer Trading Host Mother's Day Afternoon Tea
Afternoon Tea display enhanced by beautiful tableware, fresh flowers and tasty treats.

Bowls of fresh strawberries with both large and smaller vases of flowers enhance not only the table setting, but add to the special theme of Mother’s Day. Also, they can be wrapped up, alongside any leftover cakes and scones, for Mum to take home with her. As a result Mum receives a double treat. After all, Mother’s Day is a special day, set aside to thank Mothers.

FF Steamer Trading Host Mother's Day Afternoon Tea
Tiny little Turkish Delight cakes along with regular cupcakes add quaintness to the pretty table setting.

Since I had been sent Masterclass Mini Muffin Tin, I made tiny, pixie cupcakes. Turkish Delight in flavour, their larger cupcake cousins were also baked. Impressed with the strength, non stick coating and durability of the mini muffin tin, I would definitely look to this brand for larger fairy cake and cupcake tins.

FF Steamer Trading Host Mother's Day Afternoon Tea
Treat Mum to a special Afternoon Tea in your own home.

Finally, no Mum, or Afternoon Tea is complete without a touch of chocolate. Chocolate Drizzle Cake Squares are easy to make and even easier to eat!

Recipe: Chocolate Drizzle Cake Squares makes 15

175g/6oz Unsalted Butter – softened

175g/6oz Caster Sugar

1/4tsp Salt – I use Maldon

3 Large Free Range Eggs

1tsp Vanilla Extract – I use Nielsen-Massey

75g/3oz Good Quality Cocoa Powder

125g/4.5oz Plain White Flour

1.5tsp Baking Powder

200g Bar Each of Milk and White Chocolate

Method: Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan, gas mark 3.

  • Lightly grease, with butter a 28cm x 20cm x 5cm ( 12″ x 8″ x 2″ ) tin and line the base with baking parchment.
  • In a large bowl add the butter, sugar and salt. Whisk until pale and fluffy.
  • Next add the eggs, vanilla extract and milk. Then sift in the cocoa, flour and baking powder on top. Whisk slowly until all of the ingredients are combined.
  • Spoon the chocolate cake batter into the prepared tin. Smooth the batter so that it fills the tin evenly.
  • Place the tin in the centre of the oven and bake for 25-35 minutes.
  • The cake is baked when it springs back form a light touch. It will also be coming away for the sides of the tin.
  • Once baked remove the tin from the oven and set to one side to cool.
  • When the cake has cooled, tip out on to a parchment lined, flat board.
  • Remove the parchment from the base of the cake and for afternoon tea portions, slice the cake into 15 x 2″ (5cm) squares.
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Chocolate Drizzle Cake Squares
  • Place the cake squares on to a cooling rack that is placed over a large baking tray.
  • Into separate, heatproof, microwaveable bowls, break up the white and then the milk chocolate.
  • Place one bowl at a time into the microwave. Heat for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each zap.
  • When both the white and milk chocolate are completely melted transfer into 2 medium disposable piping bags.
  • Start with the milk chocolate, snip the very end of the piping bag off leaving a small hole. Pipe in a zigzag pattern across all of the chocolate cake squares.
  • Turn the baking tray and pipe as before, except you will now be piping across the chocolate milk, forming a criss-cross pattern.
  • Allow the chocolate to partially set and then transfer the chocolate squares to a clean piece of baking parchment, on a tray and leave to one side to set. Note – in warmer weather it may be necessary to place in the fridge for a few minutes to allow to set.
  • Store in a baking parchment lined container, using parchment to separate layers.
  • These Chocolate Drizzle Cake Squares will last upto 4 days in an airtight container.
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Chocolate Drizzle Cake Squares perfect to serve with Afternoon Tea.

Different types of cake provide a beautiful setting and greater sense of variety.

FF Steamer Trading Host Mother's Day Afternoon Tea
Afternoon Tea

Finally Remember

While the tableware and homemade goodies look beautiful set out for Aternoon Tea, here are some added little touches that take it to the next level.

Doillies – in contrasting and complimenting colours.

Fresh flowers – placed in large and/or small vases. Clean jam jars make inexpensive vases and flowers picked from the garden can look beautiful.

Rose petals – one rose had a limping flower head. Break off the petals and scatter around the table.

Bowls of fresh fruit. Strawberries are always popular and provide balance to the cake and scones.

Cellophane bags of truffles, tied with a complimenting ribbon, add an extra wow factor.

FF Steamer Trading Host Mother's Day Afternoon Tea
Complimentary bags of truffles enhance the look of the table.

Lastly, don’t panic. Relax, enjoy yourself and your Mum will too. If you can’t bake then buy the cakes. Afternoon Tea on Sunday 26th March is about celebrating Mother’s. Your Mum, important female figures in your life, will be thrilled and honored that you took the time to celebrate them, with Steamer Trading helping you to Host Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea.

I hope that you have enjoyed Steamer Trading Host Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea, here are some recipes you may also enjoy:

Maraschino Cherry Chocolate Drizzle Cupcakes

FF Steamer Trading Host Mother's Day Afternoon Tea
Maraschino Cherry Chocolate Drizzle Cupcakes

Iced Bakewell Tart

FF Steamer Trading Host Mother's Day Afternoon Tea
Iced Bakewell Tart

Chocolate Vanilla Viennese Finger Biscuits

FF Steamer Trading Host Mother's Day Afternoon Tea
Chocolate Vanilla Viennese Finger Biscuits

Whatever you make, bake and create to celebrate Mother’s Day, have fun enjoying you feast.

Sammie xx

Steamer Trading provided me with the five items directy linked to their site. All opinions, views, content and photography are my own. I was not paid for writing this post. Please see my Disclosure Policy.

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Lloyds Chocolatiers Product Review

Carrying out reviews is always a pleasure and sometimes a challenge here at Feasting is Fun. While taking great care to bring an honest, thorough review, creating new recipes can sometimes stretch me. Yet challenging myself to come up with new ideas, is, ultimately, what delivers the most satisfaction. With this in mind, I hope you enjoy my Lloyds Chocolatiers Product Review.

FF Lloyds Chocolatiers Product Review
The product selection I received from Lloyds Chocolatiers.

Receiving such a varied selection was a real treat. Allowing me to get creative with my recipes. Since Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us, the chocolate hearts immediately grabbed my attention. A delicious variety of truffles, filled with ganache, whipped fruit fillings and the most incredible caramel. These chocolates became the inspiration behind my Chocolate Heart Topped Rose Bundt Cake . Perfectly complimenting the rose and vanilla flavoured cake, I highly recommend them.

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Chocolate Heart Topped Rose Bundt Cake

Included in the package were also some beautiful Rose and Violet chocolate fondants. The finish on these chocolates is outstanding and our daughter observed that they resembled marbles, such was the shine. These chocolate fondants would also work well with the Rose Bundt Cake. While the Rose fondants had a subtle flavour, similar to turkish delight, in comparison the Violet fondants were stronger. Reminiscent of years gone by, both flavours were enjoyable.

FF Lloyds Chocolatiers Product Review
Rose and Violet Chocolate Fondants.

Presentation of all the chocolates was outstanding. Great care had been taken to ensure that they arrived in perfect condition, always a consideration when ordering any product online, especially food items. Also, each individual product’s packaging was sleek, streamlined and designed to show the product off at its best. While it also protected the chocolates.

FF Lloyds Chocolatiers Product Review
Lloyds Chocolatiers Product Review bags of boozy truffles.

Chocolate truffles are a weakness of mine. Add in a splash of something boozy and I’m sold! Yet, occasionally I am disappointed. Too much alcohol and the truffle is ruined. Not so with these delicious beauties. The gold wrapped chocolate truffles contain just the right amount of whiskey and are finished with a dusting of cocoa. While the vermicelli covered chocolate rum truffles just edged past, in terms of my flavour preference. Both are delicious and highly recommended.

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Lloyds Chocolatiers Product Review the chocolate bars.

Finally, the chocolate bars. The milk chocolate was creamy, yet not too sweet. This is a great chocolate bar. When ordering chocolates as presents, one or two would also be added to the basket! The white chocolate bar is sublime. Most white chocolate is very sweet. Too sweet. Not Lloyds Chocolatier’s white chocolate bar. A great balance of creaminess and vanilla. This simple, yet excellent bar of chocolate could well be my undoing! While a little on the pricey side, the flavour is absolutely worth it, for both chocolate bars.

White Chocolate Valentine’s Bark

FF Lloyds Chocolatiers Product Review
White Chocolate Valentine’s Bark.

As part of the Lloyds Chocolatiers Product Review this White Chocolate Valentine’s Bark was made. The recipe is simple and requires only 2 ingredients.

1 x 110g White Chocolate Bar – from Llyods Chocolatier’s

Heart Sugar Sprinkles – available from most supermarkets.

Making the White Chocolate Valentine’s Bark:

  • First of all, line a baking tray with baking parchment.
  • Next chop up the white chocolate until it is in small pieces. Less than 1cm in size.
  • Place approximately two thirds of the chopped white chocolate into a heatproof, microwaveable bowl.
  • Heat the chocolate for 20 seconds at a time, stirring in between each heating.
  • As soon as the chocolate is melted add the remaining chopped chocolate to the bowl and stir until all of the chocolate is completely melted. If necessary, heat for a further 10 seconds at a time, in the microwave.
  • Once melted stir to ensure the melted chocolate is free from lumps.
  • Pour the melted chocolate on to the baking parchment.
  • Using either an off set spatula or the back of a spoon spread the chocolate out into a rectangular shape.
  • Ideally the chocolate should be about the thickness of a one pound coin, 3-4mm.
  • Scatter over sugar heart decorations, while the chocolate is still tacky.
  • Place the baking tray somewhere cool to allow the chocolate to set. During very hot weather it may have to be placed in the fridge for a few minutes.
FF Lloyds Chocolatiers Product Review
Making the White Chocolate Valentine’s Bark.
  • Once the chocolate has set it is ready to be cut.
  • Use a sharp, un-serrated knife to cut 4 lines, equally spaced, from top to bottom.
  • The chocolate will naturally crack into shards.
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Notice how the chocolate splits and cracks.
  • Place the heart studded chocolate shards in a pretty bowl to serve.
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Lloyds Chocolatiers Product Review with homemade White Chocolate Valentine’s Bark.

The White Chocolate Valentine’s Bark can also be placed into cellophane bags, tied with pretty ribbon and given as presents.

Considering that all of the chocolates are handmade by Lloyds Chocolatier’s, I was very impressed the the sharp snap of the chocolate bark. While tempering chocolate can be quite a procees. Certainly one I am happy to leave to the proffessionals. In comparision the easy tempering technique used here gave great results.

Whatever type of chocolate you enjoy, or wish to give as a gift, I highly recommend Lloyds Chocolatiers. From variety to beautiful packaging, they certainly make great chocolate.

If you have enjoyed this post Lloyds Chocolatiers Product Review you may also like these:

Luxury Amaretto Hot Chocolate

FF Lloyds Chocolatiers Product Review
Luxury Amaretto Hot Chocolate.

Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova

FF Lloyds Chocolatiers Product Review
Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova

Chocolate Sunflower Cake

FF Lloyds Chocolatiers Product Review
Chocolate Sunflower Cake.

Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day, or not, creating something delicious for loved ones is always fun. Either adorning a cake with beautiful chocolate hearts, or making chocolate bark with the children, a personal touch can add so much more, any day of the year. Such as remembering someone’s favourite chocolates.

Whatever you are baking, making and creating in your kitchens, have fun preparing your feast and remember, food always tastes better when it is shared.

Sammie xx

Lloyds Chocolatiers provided me with the chocolates in this post, for the purposes of a review. All content, photography, opinions and views are my own. Please see my Disclosure Policy.

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Christmas Spiced Fruit Loaf

Christmas is only four weeks away and I am thoroughly enjoying the build up. Especially when it comes to creating new recipes to share with you here. Food is a big part of our Christmas, with tradition dictating our ham is cooked on Christmas Eve, as well as fresh sausage rolls and mince pies. This year there will definitely be a Christmas Spiced Fruit Loaf on offer for breakfast on the big day itself. Filling the house with scents of Christmas spice, as it is sliced and toasted.

FF Spiced Christmas Fruit Loaf
Christmas Spiced Fruit Loaf delicious toasted for breakfast.

Packed full of dried fruits including dates, cherries and cranberries, in a brioche style loaf. The added milk, eggs and butter used in a Brioche give it a wonderfully soft crumb. Perfect for eating sliced as is, or toasted and slathered in butter. This loaf really does smell and taste of Christmas.

FF Christmas Spiced Fruit Loaf
Christmas Spiced Fruit Loaf egg wash gives the bronzed, glossy top when baked.

Using the best Medjool Dates from The Medjool Date Company, certainly enhances the taste of this loaf. While sweeter than my Spiced Fruit Loaf, it does not hold back on the Christmas spices of Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg and Allspice. Resulting in the most amazing aroma, filling the kitchen and then the house, as this beautifully bronzed loaf bakes.

FF Christmas Spiced Fruit Loaf
Christmas Spiced Fruit Loaf perfect with a cup of tea mid afternoon.

Baked in the British Bakeware, 3lb Farmhouse Loaf Tin, this fruited bread never sticks. The deep sides of the tin ensure the dough is supported as it rises. Resulting in an evely risen loaf, without a muffin top. The advantage being, a great shaped loaf that is easy to slice and the slices fit in the toaster. Without exception, this loaf tin is my most used and most treasured piece of kitchen bakeware.

Recipe: Christmas Spiced Fruit Loaf

2 Large Free Range Eggs

Approx 320mls Whole Milk – to make volume to 350mls when added to eggs

1tsp Caster Sugar

7g Easy Bake Dried Yeast – I use Allinson in the green container/sachets

500g/1lb 2oz Strong White Flour

50g/2oz Unsalted Butter – at room temperature and cut into cubes plus extra for greasing the loaf tin

7g Salt – I use Maldon

1tsp Vanilla Bean Paste – I use Nielsen-Massey

2tsp Ground Cinnamon

1tsp Ground Ginger

1tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg

1/2tsp Ground Allspice

100g/4oz Medjool Dates – I like The Medjool Date Co.

100g/4oz Dried Cranberries

50g/2oz Glacé Cherries

1 Egg whisked with a teaspoon of water for the egg wash

Method:

A stand mixer was used to make and knead the dough for this loaf. You may choose to make this by hand, however, the dough is incredibly sticky. A mixer is recommended.

  • Measure out 320mls of milk into a microwaveable jug. Zap on full power for 20 seconds. Stir and check the temperature, it should be the same as body temperature. If it is a little too warm set to one side to cool.
  • Into the slightly warmed (not fridge cold) milk add 2 whole eggs. The volume should be 350mls. Tip away any small excess of milk.
  • Pour the milk and eggs into the large bowl of a stand mixer.
  • Next add the sugar and yeast. Stir with a sooon to break up the eggs and mix the ingredients.
  • Now add the flour, on top of the liquid ingredients. This forms a barrier so that the yeast does not come into direct contact with the next addition, salt.
  • Add the salt and cubes of butter.
  • Fit a dough hook to the stand mixer and mix on a slow speed for 10 minutes.
  • While the dough is mixing prepare the fruit; remove stones from the dates and cut in half, cut each half into four pieces. Next cut each glacé cherry into quarters. Place the cranberries, cherries and dates in a bowl together.
  • After 10 minutes of mixing, stop the mixer and lift the dough hook. Remove a small piece of dough and stretch it. The dough is properly kneaded when it can stretch, without tearing, thinly enough to see light through it. This is called the windowpane test. If the dough tears, lower the dough hook and continue mixing for a further 2 minutes, after which test it again.
  • Once the dough passes the windowpane test, add the fruit and spices.
  • Lower the dough hook and mix again on low speed for a further 2 minutes.
  • After the fruit is incorporated stop the mixer and lift the dough hook.
  • Use clean fingers to scrape the dough from the hook and place it in the bowl.
FF Christmas Spiced Fruit Loaf
The prepared fruit and dough ready for it’s first prove.
  • Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and place it somewhere warm and away from draughts.
  • Now leave the dough to double in size.
  • NOTE: The presence of spices will slow down the action of the yeast. Therefore, the dough may take longer, up to 2 hours or more, to double in size.
  • While the dough is proving thoroughly grease a 3lb deep farmhouse loaf tin with butter.
  • When the dough has at least doubled in size, scrape it out on to a lightly floured surface.
  • Press the dough into a rough rectangular shape. Now fold the bottom third up and then fold the top third down, so that it slightly overlaps the previous fold.
  • Finally, tuck either end under, so that you have an oval-ish shape. Place the shaped dough into the buttered loaf tin. Cover with the same tea towel as before and leave, as before until doubled in size.
  • While the dough is proving preheat the oven to 240C/22C fan, gas mark 8.
  • Once the dough has doubled or even trebled in size, remove the tea towel. Using a pastry brush lightly brush over the egg wash.
FF Christmas Spiced Fruit Loaf
Christmas Spiced Fruit Loaf ready for the oven.
  • Now place the loaf carefully into the centre of the preheated oven. Bake for 10 minutes before reducing the oven heat to 220C/200C fan, gas mark 7.
  • Continue baking for a further 20 minutes and then remove the loaf from the oven.
  • Turn the loaf out on to a cooling rack. Rap the base of the loaf with your knuckle. The bread is baked if the rapping produces a hollow sound. If not, place the loaf, on its side back in the oven and check every 5 minutes until it is fully baked.
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Christmas Spiced Fruit Loaf fresh from the oven.

Allow the Christmas Spiced Fruit Loaf to fully cool before slicing.

This fruited loaf will last for 3 days in a proper bread bin. Serve sliced, as is, or slice and toast for a delicious, fruit and spice filled breakfast. A perfect treat for the build up to Christmas, or even on Christmas Day itself.

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Christmas Spiced Fruit Loaf you may also like these:

Ginger Date Hot Cross Buns

FF Christmas Spiced Fruit Loaf
Ginger Date Hot Cross Buns

Lighter Wholemeal Loaf

FF Christmas Spiced Fruit Loaf
Lighter Wholemeal Loaf

Dundee Fruit Celebration Cake

FF Christmas Spiced Fruit Loaf
Dundee Fruit Celebration Cake

Since you are setting the stand mixer up to make this fruited loaf, why not double up the ingredients and make two loaves? Sharing is inherently part of Christmas. I can think of no better reason, than to give one loaf away. Surely anyone would be happy to receive the gift of a freshly baked, Christmas Spiced Fruit Loaf!

Whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens, have fun and remember food always tastes better when it’s shared.

Sammie xx

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Blueberry Bloom Ice Cream

Blueberry Bloom Ice Cream a  vivid purple colour contrasts with the silky, smooth texture and flavour of blueberries and the floral fragrance of Bloom Gin.

Such an elegantly beautiful dessert to look at my Blueberry Bloom Ice Cream has a grown up, smooth blueberry flavour, layered with subtle, but definite flavours that come from the added Bloom Gin.

FF Blueberry Bloom Ice Cream
Blueberry Bloom Ice Cream such a vivid colour.

The blueberries in this ice cream are very gently cooked with a little sugar, so a not to lose their distinct flavour. Wonderfully floral, a splash of Bloom Gin not only adds to the delightful, fruity flavour, it compliments the sweetness of the blueberries.

FF Blueberry Bloom Ice Cream
Blueberry Bloom Ice Cream elegantly served in martini glasses.

After freezing, which can dull some flavours, the vivid purple Blueberry Bloom Ice Cream comes alive on the palette. As the blueberries are left whole, the ice cream has a texture, not dissimilar to rum and raisin. The blueberries providing interest against the smooth, silky ice cream.

FF Blueberry Bloom Ice Cream
Blueberry Bloom Ice Cream a feast for the eyes.

Made using a ice cream maker, the churning action stops such a large volume of fruit creating large ice crystals. Similar to champagne, where the smaller the bubbles, the creamier the champagne tastes, in ice cream making, the smaller the ice crystals the smoother the finished ice cream.

Recipe: Makes 1L Blueberry Bloom Ice Cream

300ml/ 1/2pt Double Cream

300ml/ 1/2pt Milk – Whole or Semi Skimmed

1/2tsp Vanilla Extract – I use Nielsen-Massey

4 Large Free Range Egg – freeze the whites for up to 1 month

1tsp Corn Flour

5tbsp Caster Sugar

300g Fresh Blueberries

1tbsp Caster Sugar

1tbsp Tap Water

2tbsp Bloom Gin

Method: Ensure the freezing compartment/bowl of your ice cream maker has been in the freezer overnight, or according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Note: For step by step instructions with photographs, on how to make the ice cream base please see Very Vanilla Ice Cream.

  • Place the blueberries in a small saucepan. Add 1 tablespoon of both sugar and water. Place over a medium heat and cook until the blueberries just start to burst, giving up their precious juice. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the contents to a bowl. Allow to cool and then add 2 tablespoons of Bloom Gin. Set to one side.
FF Blueberry Bloom Ice Cream
Note how deeply pink the cooked blueberries look here.
  • Making the ice cream base:
  • Into a large heavy bottomed saucepan add both the milk and cream. Place over a medium heat and cook until scalding point is reached – this is the point before the liquid boils. Small bubbles will appear around the edge of the cream mixture, once scalding point is reached remove the pan from the heat.
  • In a large, heatproof bowl, add the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract and corn flour.
  • Whisk the eggs until they are pale and creamy.
  • With the whisk still running on slow gently pour the hot cream mixture into the whipped eggs. Whisk until well combined.
  • Tip the ice cream base back into the saucepan and cook over a medium heat, stirring until the custard has thickened and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
  • Pour the hot custard through a sieve into a heatproof bowl – I usually quickly wash up and dry the original bowl I’ve used.
  • Place cling film directly on top of the custard, this will stop a skin from forming.
  • Allow the custard to cool a little on the worktop and then transfer both it and the prepared blueberries to the fridge to chill.
  • When both are chilled assemble your ice cream maker, as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Pour the blueberry mixture into the cold custard ice cream base and stir.
  • Tranfer the Blueberry Bloom Ice Cream mixture to a large jug.
  • With the machine switched on (in my case) pour the ice cream mixture into the churning ice cream maker.
  • Churn until the ice cream is softly frozen – about 20 minutes.
  • Switch of the machine, remove the paddle and scoop the softly frozen ice cream into a freezer proof tub.
FF Blueberry Bloom Ice Cream
Blueberry Bloom Ice Cream, churned and ready for the freezer.
  • Clip on a tight fitting lid and place in the freezer to firm up. Ideally it should be left for 6 hours or overnight, depending on the ambient temperature.

To serve, remove the Blueberry Bloom Ice Cream from the freezer 15 minutes prior to scooping. This will allow the ice cream to soften slightly. Although there is a small addition of alcohol it is not enough to affect the freezing of this ice cream.

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Blueberry Bloom Ice Cream a delightful dessert to finish a dinner party with.

This stunning looking ice cream looks elegant scooped into martini glasses.

Perhaps served with a glass of Bloom Gin, tonic water and 3 blueberries, over ice?

FF Blueberry Bloom Ice Cream
Blueberry Bloom Ice Cream the perfect balance of flavours.

Unusual, unique and utterly delicious, this delightful ice cream needs to be tasted to be truly appreciated.

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Blueberry Bloom Ice Cream you may also like these:

Blackberry Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

FF Blueberry Bloom Ice Cream
Blackberry Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream.

Gin and Tonic Strawberry Sorbet

FF Blueberry Bloom Ice Cream
Gin and Tonic Strawberry Sorbet – Bloom Gin was used in this recipe.

Lemon Ripple Ice Cream

FF Blueberry Bloom Ice Cream
Lemon Ripple ice Cream.

There are other iced recipes on here, like my Refreshing Tropical Fruit Sorbet . When you put your mind to it there are endless flavour combinations availed to you if you own an ice cream maker. I prefer not to be limited by what’s available in store.

if you make this Blueberry Bloom Ice Cream, please use Bloom Gin. It simply will not taste the same with other gins. The floral honeysuckle, chamomile and pomelo botanicals, used in the art of distilling Bloom Gin, balance with this ice cream perfectly.

Whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens, as you prepare a feast, have fun. Food and drink should be enjoyed with good company.

Sammie xx

I was provided with some Bloom Gin for the purposes of a review. All opinions, views, content and photography are my own. Please see my Disclosure Policy.

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Franklin’s Drinks Review

Franklin’s Drinks Review, a thorough honest look at Franklin & Son’s soft drinks and mixers, with a fabulous mocktail and boozy sorbet recipe included.

FF Franklin's Drinks Review
Franklin’s Drinks Review Sicilian Lemonade with Elderflower so refreshing.

Firstly, I really need to say that this was one of the best reviews I’ve ever undertaken.

Carrying out the Franklin’s Drinks Review has been an absolute pleasure. Not only were the company a delight to deal with their product completely wipes out the competition in terms of taste, variety and drink-ability.

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Franklin’s Drink Review who remembers Dandelion and Burdock from their childhood?

Gone are the sticky, sickly sweet soft drinks that line supermarket aisles. In their place we have a company founded by three brothers in 1886, creating soft drinks and mixers using real fruit juice. Each soft drink and mixer easily drinkable on it’s own, or with the mixers a multitude of cocktails, classics and creative new possibilities abound.

Franklin & Son’s is a British Company producing the very best drinks using natural ingredients. No artificial additives, preservatives or colours are allowed into their drinks and they taste all the better for it.

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Franklin’s Drinks Review the perfect G & T with Franklin’s Natural Tonic Water.

I was sent 5 different flavours of soft drink and 3 different mixers. It should be noted before I go any further that, I have never liked tonic water – until now!

Franklin’s Soft Drinks:

Sicilian Lemonade and Elderflower with crushed juniper – ooh if you like lemonade you will love this. The juniper hits your nose as you breath in the tantalising aroma. Once sipped, the tart lemon, which in my humble opinion should be how all lemonade is made, immediately awakens your tastebuds. Mellowed and softened by the hint, I could detect no more, of elderflower, creating an incredibly refreshing drink. I imagine, this drink alone would make a wonderfully balanced sorbet. Just how lemonade should taste, a firm 9.5 out of 10.

Dandelion and Burdock with star anise – the drink of my childhood, the reason I wanted to carry out this review. Unlike any other drink, dandelion and burdock has a unique, fruity, spicy flavour. This drink has a deeper, more complex flavour than the others with layers of flavour lingering on the palette as it is drunk. The slight anise flavour from the star anise could be too overpowering, yet again, the balance is perfect. Exceptionally delicious, not too sweet, not too spicy. I cannot find fault, not that I’d want to, so a firm 10 out of 10.

Ginger Beer with malted barley and a squeeze of lemon – this is the ginger beer of old. Intense, throaty, warming as you drink it and yet refreshing at the same time. Although not a mixer, I could see this pairing with a really good rum. Likewise, as the weather turns cooler, I have reserved a bottle for making ginger pudding with. True ginger in taste, the barley adds a slight softness, although it was hard to detect any lemon. This drink does not disappoint. A firm 9.5 out of 10.

Apple and Rhubarb with cinnamon – my personal favourite. This very more-ish drink reminds me slightly of the rhubarb in rhubarb and custard sweets, without any artificial flavour coming through at all. The balance of apple and rhubarb is exquisite. A very faint hint of cinnamon is present when the drink is poured, although I could not detect any specific cinnamon flavour on my palette. If I had to pick one drink, that I had to drink for a whole year, this would win. Again the freshness of the fruit flavour, without being lip puckeringly tart is perfect. A very easy 10 out of 10.

Strawberry and Raspberry with a twist of black pepper – oh my, this drink is utterly delicious. Freshly poured the smell of cracked, black pepper hits your nose and lends a spicy aroma to the strawberry and raspberry. When drinking, the perfect fruit combination is balanced by the black pepper and the lack of over sweetness. A beautiful drink both in appearance and taste, this gets a firm 9.5 out of 10.

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Franklin’s Drinks Review my personal favourite Apple and Rhubarb.

During this Franklin’s Drinks Review not one single soft drink disappointed. The fruit juice and complementing flavours, even if I couldn’t detect them, meant they were extremely well balanced.

I thoroughly recommend Franklin & Son’s Soft Drinks, for their natural flavour achieved without an ingredient list as long as your arm. The truth is in the taste. No obscure chemical after taste was present in any of these drinks.

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Franklin’s Fruity Summer Drink perfect to drink all day long.

 

Why not see how I made this Franklins Fruity Summer Drink, using Franklin’s Soft Drinks. It’s alcohol free but tastes suspiciously like another, famous, British Summer drink!

Franklin’s Mixers:

To say I felt vastly under qualified to review a drink I didn’t even like, would be an understatement. I am of course, talking about tonic water – or so I thought.

I received 3 mixers to try, Sicilian Lemon Tonic, Natural Tonic Water and Light Tonic Water. I won’t be giving them scores out of 10 as I feel that would be a little unfair, simply my views on their taste.

It took one glass on Natural Tonic Water, over ice to convert me! Such a refreshing drink, especially with a slice of lime or lemon. Maybe more importantly it made THE BEST gin and tonic, my new favourite tipple.

The Light Tonic Water, was just that, lighter in flavour, however, I was just as happy to drink it in a G & T, or over ice with a slice!

Sicilian Lemon Tonic, oh how I wish there had been more bottles of this in the box I received. Utterly delicious, it is key to giving the Franklin’s Fruity Summer Drink just the right balance of flavour.

I shall be ordering more soft drinks and mixers, especially as I want to try Franklin’s signature drink 1886 a mix of sloe gin and their Sicilian tonic water. Perfect for warm summer evenings, or cool Autumn nights.

Me being me I wanted to try and create a sorbet using Franklin’s Natural Tonic Water. I decided to make my own Fresh Strawberry Simple Syrup add a couple of measures of good gin and see if it would work!

FF Franklin's Drinks Review
Franklin’s Drinks Review Strawberry Sorbet with Gin & Tonic.

This Strawberry Sorbet with Gin & Tonic was an absolute success. Perfect as a grown up dessert, or let it melt a little and you have a rather yummy, adult slushy!

To Make Strawberry Sorbet with Gin & Tonic:

600mls Natural Tonic Water – from

200mls Fresh Strawberry Simple Syrup – see here

Double measure of Gin – I used Bloom Gin

  • Pour the tonic water into a jug and allow to sit for a couple of hours, until almost flat.
  • To the flat tonic water add the strawberry simple syrup and gin. Stir to mix.
  • Churn in an ice cream machine until the mixture has a slushy-like consistency.
  • Pour the sorbet into a freezer proof tub, pop on a lid and place in the deep freeze overnight.
FF Franklin's Drinks Review
Strawberry Sorbet with Gin & Tonic ready for the freezer.
  • To serve, remove the tub from the freezer 10-20 minutes before serving. This allows the sorbet to soften slightly.
  • Scoop balls of sorbet and serve in a martini glass for an elegant dessert. Alternatively, you could wait a little longer and serve the sorbet as an adult slushy in double shot glasses!

I have had so much fun carrying out this Franklin’s Drinks Review. Not only will I be ordering more delicious drinks, I have plans to keep experimenting with them too!

If you have enjoyed this Franklin’s Drinks Review you may also like these:

Refreshing Tropical Fruit Sorbet

FF Franklin's Drinks Review
Refreshing Tropical Fruit Sorbet

Mr Sherick’s Milkshake Review

FF Franklin's Drinks Review
Mr Sherick’s Milkshake Review

Whatever you do this weekend, remember it’s not a party unless there are Franklin’s Soft Drinks available. Perfect for those who cannot, or choose not to drink alcohol.

Sammie xx

Franklin’s and Son’s sent me a selection of drinks to review. All opinions, views, content and photographs are my own. I was not paid to write this review, please see my Disclosure Policy.

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Vanilla Fudge Chocolate Brownies

Who doesn’t love a delicious brownie? I know I do. So when I received a small selection of fudge to try out, I knew where the vanilla version was heading. Straight into these very tasty Vanilla Fudge Chocolate Brownies.

FF Vanilla Fudge Chocolate Brownies
Vanilla Fudge Chocolate Brownies dots of gold fudge throughout the brownie.

The Vanilla Fudge from Fudge Angels, is creamy with a definite vanilla taste, not just sweetened sugar and cream. So I kept with a deeply chocolate brownie recipe, allowing the fudge to ‘sing’ as it hits your tastebuds.

I also received a delicious Strawberry Pavlova Fudge, which was very popular with our eldest daughter, in truth a little too sweet for me, although it did leave a delightful strawberry flavour in my mouth.

The Smooth Ginger Fudge was delicious. If you love ginger, which I do, then you will enjoy this fudge. I can imagine using it in some ginger cookies, if I don’t snaffle it all beforehand!

FF Vanilla Fudge Chocolate Brownies
Vanilla Fudge Chocolate Brownies topped with the perfect complimentary ice cream.

These Vanilla Fudge Chocolate Brownies are perfectly delicious on their own.

However, here at Feasting is Fun, I wanted to turn them into a fantastic dessert.

What goes better with brownies than ice cream. Not any ice cream, one created to perfectly compliment the flavours found within these Vanilla Fudge Brownies, Dark Chocolate Chip Vanilla Ice Cream.

See how good I am to you?

They are both perfectly delicious on their own, bring them together and we have a taste bud party starting baby 😉

FF Vanilla Fudge Chocolate Brownies
Vanilla Fudge Chocolate Brownies – how will you eat one 😉

Such an easy traybake, turned into a jaw dropping, beautiful dessert!

The final drizzle of white chocolate on top of the brownies echoes the flavours of the vanilla fudge within. So you can be assured, if you have no desire to make your own ice cream, that the brownies are still, one hundred per cent, top class.

Our youngest daughter gave these a 10!

I wish there was a way of putting that in BIG FLASHING LIGHTS. She rarely awards a 10 for my efforts. I am literally cock-a-hoop with joy.

Did I mention the 10?

Ok I’ll leave it for now.

TEN OUT OF TEN – yup I’m done 😉

Ooh something else I should tell you before you make these, is that all the preparation, mixing etc. is carried out in a saucepan. And (I know your not supposed to start sentences with and – but I got a 10!!!), you line the swiss roll tin with foil, so there is very little clean up.

You’re welcome xx.

Recipe: Makes 15 Vanilla Fudge Chocolate Brownies

275g/10oz Dark Brown Muscavado Sugar

150g/5oz Unsalted Butter

50g/2oz Cocoa Powder

150g/5oz Plain White Flour

1tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

1/4tsp Salt – I use Maldon

1tsp Vanilla Bean Extract or Vanilla Extract – I use Nielsen-Massey

4 Large Free Range Eggs

100g/4oz Vanilla Fudge – from Fudge Angels

50g/2oz White Chocolate for drizzling over the top

Method: Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan, gas mark 4

  • Line a 28cm x 20cm x 5 cm (12″ x  8″ x 2″) swiss roll tin with aluminium foil.
  • Place the butter, sugar and salt into a large heavy bottomed saucepan, over a medium heat.
  • Gently melt the butter and sugar together, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until melted.
  • Move the saucepan from the heat and add the cocoa powder. Stir in immediately and the cocoa will combine easily with the melted sugar and butter.
  • Add the flour and bicarb and mix in.
  • Crack the eggs into a jug and add the vanilla bean paste. Beat lightly with a fork to combine.
  • Pour the egg mixture into the warm chocolate mix in the saucepan stirring constantly. Don’t worry everything will come together into a smooth batter.
  • Tip the brownie batter into the foil lined swiss roll tin.
  • Lift the tin and rap it hard against the worktop a couple of times. This brings any bubbles within the batter to the surface – remember brownies aren’t cake, so we want to encourage density in the bake.
  • Break off small pieces of the vanilla fudge and dot them on to the top of the uncooked brownie.
FF Vanilla Fudge Chocolate Brownies
Vanilla Fudge Chocolate Brownies ready for the oven.
  • Place the brownies in the centre of the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  • Halfway through the cooking time, open the oven and rap the tin against the oven shelf. Again this stops the brownies from rising and becoming cake like.
  • The brownies are cooked when the surface has a sugary sheen and has a very slight wobble in the centre.
  • Once baked remove the Vanilla Fudge Chocolate Brownies from the oven.
FF Vanilla Fudge Chocolate Brownies
Vanilla Fudge Chocolate Brownies you can see where the fudge has baked through brownie.
  • Allow the brownie to completely cool in the tin. I actually left this brownie, once cooled, wrapped in foil for 2 days post baking, due to illness and it kept beautifully.
  • Once cooled remove the big slab of brownie from the tin and place on to a board.
  • Melt the white chocolate in the microwave, taking care not to overheat it.
  • Pour the melted chocolate into a small, disposable piping bag. Snip the very end off to create a small hole.
  • Drizzle the top of the brownie slab, however you like, with the melted chocolate.
  • Place the brownie to one side to set. In very warm weather pop the bake into the fridge to allow the chocolate to set.
FF Vanilla Fudge Chocolate Brownies
Once set cut the brownies into 15 squares.

To serve, use a pallet knife to slide beneath the base of the brownies and the foil. This ensures that any fudge at the bottom of the brownies sticks to the brownies, not the foil!

Serve as they are or with a delicious scoop of ice cream on top.

FF Vanilla Fudge Chocolate Brownies.
Vanilla Fudge Chocolate Brownies deliciously topped with homemade ice cream.

An easy traybake transformed into an elegant dessert.

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Vanilla Fudge Chocolate Brownies you may also like these:

Blackberry Nectarine Tart

FF Vanilla Fudge Chocolate Brownies
Blackberry Nectarine Tart topped with vanilla ice cream.

Chocolate Fudge Brownie Bites

FF Vanilla Fudge Chocolate Brownies
Chocolate Fudge Brownie Bites

Almond Blackberry Pear Crumble

FF Vanilla Fudge Chocolate Brownies
Almond Blackberry Pear Crumble gluten free

I love dual purpose bakes. Creating delicious brownies and then turning them into a fabulous dessert.

Do you have a favourite bake that you can vamp up to create a dessert extrondinaire?

With the weather looking good for a few days, why not have a go at making your own ice cream? Adorn your delicious homemade bakes with your own ice cream too. It really shows that Feasting is Fun!

Sammie xx

Fudge Angels sent me 3 different types of flavoured fudge to try. All opinions, views, content and photographs are my own. Please see my Disclosure Policy.

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Growing Vegetables Week 5

Welcome to Growing Vegetables Week 5 with Bob and Sammie. This past week has been very exciting as we have taken on a new experiment, more on that later and we are also starting to harvest courgettes! Enjoy reading about our adventures in the garden.

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Growing Vegetables Week 5 Glossy Green Courgettes.

It was such a thrill to capture the shot of the bee happily pollinating our courgettes. Bee’s and other pollinators are vital to the success of our vegetable growing adventure. Without them the Gartenpearle  tomatoes you see below, sown from Groseeds seed, would not be forming, in fact none of our vegetable flowers would produce fruit.

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Growing Vegetables Week 5 Gartenpearle tomatoes forming.

It is true, some vegetables are wind pollinated. Sweetcorn is the first one that springs to mind. They are grown in blocks so that as the wind blows, it blows the pollen from one plant to another. We are hoping to grow sweetcorn next year.

I love seeing the bees, butterflies and hover flies, not forgetting moths our nighttime friendly pollinators. Bob and I were also really pleased to spot a couple of frogs, hiding in the damper parts, behind the plants, as we were gardening this week. We have not had a problem with slugs or snails for a while now, so all the new plants we potted up this week have not had any slug pellets on them.

Any slug pellets that were used earlier in the season were at a height where the frogs could not get them. Whilst trying to grow as organically as we can, our garden was full of snails, hiding in and under containers. We manually dispatched as many of them as we could, however, all of our efforts to grow our our vegetables would have been in vain, had we not used slug pellets on the first seedlings. Now we have fewer snails and are happy for frogs and hedgehogs to munch on them.

Yes we have some snail damage on our plants, but we can live with that!

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Growing Vegetables Week 5 Baby runner beans starting to form.

After initial concerns that our runner beans weren’t setting – due to the hot weather – I was pleased to see these two baby ones this morning. Painted Lady, the variety we are growing, have always been reliable in both containers and the ground. A good straight bean that isn’t stringy! I definitely recommend them. We will be sowing a second lot, straight into the pot for runner beans into Autumn.

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Growing Vegetables Week 5 the Chilli and Borage plants have settled in well.

Chilli, borage, basil which is flowering, all in the front garden and settled. Lots of bees were buzzing around as I took the above photo.

A quick update on jobs carried out this week before I tell you about our exciting experiment:

  • Lettuce/Wild Rocket/Radishes that had bolted and run to seed – tubs emptied on to the compost heap. We are hoping to sow more over this weekend.
  • Picking courgettes as soon as they are 3 inches long. This helps increase the yield from each plant and stops enormous marrow-like monsters that are tasteless and reduce yield. Also whilst checking over the courgettes we remove fallen flowers and yellowing leaves – this prevents mould from forming and spreading.
  • Picking ripe long beans, our variety is Purple Queen and they are going to be eaten with dinner tonight!
  • Daily watering – we have had very little rain since before the heatwave. The Chilli’s in the front garden are watered twice a day now and that should be reduced to only once as the weather dictates.
  • General clearing, light pruning of Spring flowering shrubs and dead heading roses.
  • Tomato feeding – now the Gartenpearle tomatoes are setting a light feed is given once a week – we are also giving a weekly feed to the courgettes and will feed the Chilli’s in the front garden when they start flowering.

An Exciting New Project With Greenhouse Sensation.

Yes, I know we don’t have a greenhouse, but the Quadgrow that was sent to us by Greenhouse Sensation can also be used outside. It holds four plants in large containers that are sat on top of a reservoir.

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Growing Vegetables Week 5 the Quadgrow fully planted and photo bombed by our dog!

At the outset we decided to make our Quadgrow planting an experiment. Four equally sized Roma Tomatoes and again four equally sized Orange Habonero Chilli Plants were selected. These had all been grown from the same packets of seeds from Groseeds.

Two of each plant have been planted in the Quadgrow and 2 of each plant have been planted in deep polystyrene containers, using compost, water retaining granules and a scoop of slow release fertiliser.

We will compare the yield from each plant and it is going to be so much fun seeing if there is a difference – a couple of things to note – we are late planting, this will affect yield and we are not growing a control, two of each plant in the ground with regular watering.

The Quadgrow system is so easy to set up. It is lightweight but very sturdy. Each planter has absorbent cloth that is thoroughly wetted, inserted through the bottom and is pulled up until it is level with the top of the planter. This same absorbent cloth then is pushed through a hole, where it sits on the Quadgrow reservoir. The idea being that it draws water and nutrients from the reservoir into the planter, as they are needed. The cloth then moistens the surrounding compost and the plant is feed and watered automatically, eliminating the need for regular watering.

FF Growing Vegetables Week 5
The Quadgrow set up incredibly easy.

This Quadgrow system, from what I understand about gardening, should stop the compost becoming compacted from frequent surface watering, allowing the roots to grow deeply in an airy, yet moist environment. Deep roots will ensure the plant is stable and water/nutrient uptake is maximised, promoting great plant health and healthy plants produce a greater yield.

After setting up the Quadgrow it is watered with a can so the compost is moist and then left for a few days until the top feels dry. We will cover the reservoir and feeding in next week’s post.

Next two chilli’s and two tomato plants were planted in deep polystyrene containers. The Roma tomatoes were staked and tied in and both containers were given a good soaking just as it started to rain! Not much but every drop is welcome.

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Growing Vegetables Week 5 Planting in polystyrene boxes.

Bob is loving the experimental aspect to our growing venture. It is teaching him more science than he realises. I’ve always found I learn far more by watching and doing, than simply sitting and listening. Perhaps that’s why day release suited me, I was learning the science one day a week, behind what I was practically doing for the other 4-5 days.

Finally……

FF Growing Vegetables Week 5
A gorgeous bright orange Canna Lily blending with my hanging basket.

This beautiful, purple leaved Canna Lily has the most stunning blooms. Our hanging basket was planted to coordinate with it.

FF Growing Vegetables Week 5
Growing Vegetables Week 5 yes I have snuck a few tomato plants in this bed too!

I had the opportunity to buy some Black Cherry Tomato ‘blight resistant’ plug plants, so knowing that blight is a big possibility, I took a chance and planted them in between the Canna Lilies and Verbena Bonariensis. The later has purple frothy flowers that contrast beautifully against the Canna Lilies and butterflies and bees absolutely love it.

I see no reason why vegetables, herbs and flowers shouldn’t happily be grown alongside each other. Our front garden is south facing and gets very, very windy. The Canna Lilies provide initial protection for the tomato plants, as they get their roots deep into the soil and start growing. The Verbena Bonariensis attracts pollinators, yet to me the bed is also about beauty. Deep, dark, cherry tomatoes, the colour of the Canna leaves, will only enhance the beauty of this bed.

Beautiful and productive. These are not mutually exclusive in our garden.

If you have enjoyed reading Growing Vegetables Week 5 you may also like these posts:

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Growing Vegetables Week 1

I hope our efforts have shown you the fun side to gardening? Finding frogs, becoming more aware of the bees, butterflies and wildlife that can be found in an ordinary back garden. Listening to the birds and finding old nests, more on that next week.

Even if you only have a small area, or a windowsill herbs can be grown. I have Basil in our front garden, yet I still have a couple of pots on the small, kitchen windowsill as I use them so frequently in cooking and salads.

Wherever you are, whether you have a garden or not, it is good to get outside and look for wildlife. It is closer than you may think.

Until next week happy gardening.

Bob and Sammie xx

Groseeds provided the majority of the seeds for our gardening project, however, this is not a sponsored post. Greenhouse Sensation kindly sent us the Quadgrow to try out. All opinions, views, content and photographs are my own (Sammie). I do not get paid for writing or reviewing products, please see my Disclosure Policy.

Any advice given is from Sammie, an amateur gardener and should be taken as such, at your own risk.

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Hawkshead Relish Review

I have thoroughly enjoyed carrying out this Hawkshead Relish Review. Using a trio of fantastic, handmade preserves as ingredients was a challenge and that is what I thrive on.

FF Hawkshead Relish Review
Hawkshead Relish Review Red Onion Marmalade delicious as a condiment.

Traditionally I have used chutneys and Red Onion Marmalade as a condiment. Now I was tasked with incorporating three separate preserves in new recipes!

I was sent three different, savoury preserves by Hawkshead Relish.

  • 2 Jars of Red Onion Marmalade – deliciously different to usual onion marmalades. Cooked with balsamic vinegar and added pine nuts, I adored both the flavour and texture of this marmalade. This is not a sticky sweet marmalade, it is packed with deep onion flavour, punctuated by occasional sweet sultanas and the nutty flavour of pine nuts. As an ingredient 10/10 as a condiment 10/10!
  • I Jar of Windermere Pale Real Ale Jelly – gloriously pale gold, clear jelly. Sweet but not overwhelmingly so, as the ale taste really comes through and the slight bitterness tempers the jelly. A real surprise, as I’d not tried a jelly like this before. Made using ale made at the Hawkshead Brewery, light and fruity in flavour, it was a dream to use. As an ingredient 10/10 as a condiment 9/10 dropping a mark as I prefer a more textured accompaniment.
  • 1 Jar of Hot Garlic Pickle – packed full of garlic cloves in a hot spicy sauce. Personally I would not eat this as a condiment, however, if you are a real garlic lover, then this is the perfect pickle for you. When used as an ingredient this pickle transforms into the most wonderful rich, hot, spicy, garlic flavour, that can be as intense as you want. An absolute dream to use as an ingredient 10/10 as a condiment 5/10.
FF Hawkshead Relish Review
Feta Red Onion Marmalade Quiche utterly delicious.

My first venture was making this Feta Red Onion Marmalade Quiche. The different layers of flavour in the quiche are so exciting on the palette. Warmed, the Red Onion Marmalade flavour itself becomes more vibrant, contrasting beautifully with the mild, slightly salty feta cheese. This quiche has become a firm favourite in our house.

Hawkshead Relish Review
Red Onion Sausage Plait perfect for picnics or as a tasty mid week meal.

Red Onion Sausage Plait is so simple to make, yet the finished flavour will have your tastebuds singing. Can tastebuds sing 😉? It is so important to use good quality sausage meat, as the meaty flavours work so well with with the flavour and texture of this delicious Red Onion Marmalade.

FF Hawkshead Relish Review
Roasted Ale Jelly Tomatoes unbelievably good.

These Roasted Ale Jelly Tomatoes are so simple and yet this has to be my favourite recipe, if forced to choose. Please don’t make me choose? 

To make: Roasted Ale Jelly Tomatoes

  • Cut a dozen, or thereabouts, medium tomatoes in half. I used economy tomatoes from the supermarket.
  • Place them on a baking tray cut side up.
  • Spoon 1/2 a teaspoon of Pale Ale Jelly on top of each tomato.
FF Hawkshead Relish Review
Very firm, not particularly flavourful tomatoes.
  • Drizzle over a little olive oil, sprinkle lightly with sea salt flakes (I use Maldon ) and freshly ground pepper.
  • Place into a preheated oven at 180C/160C fan, gas mark 4 and bake for 1-1.5 hours until softened and slightly caramelised.
  • When cooked remove from the oven and serve on a platter with some shredded basil leaves. Eat smeared on to some very fresh baguettes, or alongside quiche, sausage plait, chicken, fish.
FF Hawkshead Relish Review
Hawkshead Relish Review these Roasted Ale Jelly Tomatoes have become my new favourite side dish.

Warning once you’ve made these Roasted Ale Jelly Tomatoes once you will find more and more reasons to make them. Such a simple recipe, yet it turns even underripe, flavourless tomatoes into a taste sensation. I cannot wait to try it on our home grown tomatoes later this year. A tasty side to many meals.

Another brilliant use for the Real Ale Jelly was adding a couple of spoonfuls to a beef cooked in ale casserole. Added right at the end, just before serving, the sweet, fresh flavour of the jelly lifted the casserole and balanced out any bitter notes from the cooked beer.

Finally to the Hot Garlic Pickle. To be truthful this pickle was indeed a pickle for me! I was stumped as to what I should make with it. The weather was very hot and whilst I knew the spicy garlic would be wonderful in soups, stews and curries, my heart simply wasn’t into cooking a large, hot meal. During the summer we practically live on salad.

Also, to be honest, the strong, pungent aroma of the pickle wasn’t inspiring me. Until one day. I had some pretty hot chilli’s and I figured I’d go with the hot, spicy, garlic flavour, rather than trying to tame it.

FF Hawkshead Relish Review
Hawkshead Relish Review Hot Spicy Garlic Cheese Straws.

Thus, my Hot Spicy Garlic Cheese Straws were born. Whilst not overly  keen on the pickle as a condiment, used in these delicious cheese straws, alongside spicy Parmesan cheese and hot jalapeño peppers, the flavour shines. These are THE best cheese straws I have ever made and it is worth having a jar of this pickle on hand simply to make these!

Recipe: Hot Spicy Garlic Cheese Straws makes 16-18

500g Homemade Perfect Butter Shortcrust Pastry

1 Free Range Egg – beaten

3tsp Hot Garlic a Pickle from – Hawkshead Relish

75g Finely Grated Parmesan Cheese

1 Jalapeño Pepper – membrane and seeds removed and finely diced

Method: Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan, gas mark 7

  • Line a large baking tray with a silicone baking mat or baking parchment.
  • Lightly dust a clean worktop with flour and place the pastry on top.
  • Roll the pastry into a rectangular shape – roughly 35cm x 25cm (14″ x 10″).
  • Ensure the pastry can move and is not stuck on to the worktop.
  • Trim the edges with a knife and then brush egg over the surface of the pastry.
  • Spoon 3 teaspoons of the Hot Garlic Pickle over the pastry and spread to create a thin layer.
FF Hawkshead Relish Review
Hot Spicy Garlic Cheese Straws in the making.
  • Sprinkle over the grated Parmesan cheese and finely chopped chilli.
  • Fold the bottom half of the pastry over the top half. Gently run a rolling pin over the top to ensure both halves are pressed together.
  • Cut just over 1cm (1/2″) strips using a sharp knife and make sure it cuts all the way through.
  • Transfer the cheese straws to the lined baking tray.
  • Place in the top of a preheated oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden and crispy.
FF Hawkshead Relish Review
Hawkshead Relish Review Hot Spicy Garlic Cheese Straws.
  • Once the cheese straws are baked remove from the oven.
  • Enjoy the inviting, warm garlic and cheese aroma!
  • Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving immediately.
FF Hawkshead Relish Review
Hawkshead Relish Review Hot Spicy Garlic Cheese Straws.

These Hot Spicy Garlic Cheese Straws are incredibly good served warm (my favourite) or cold. Perfect for sharing with friends over drinks, at parties, or snacking on whilst watching your favourite game, on the telly, with the family.

I really urge you to use the pastry recipe given. These cheese straws are somewhere between flaky and shortcrust pastry. This texture really adds to their flavour, however, if you aren’t keen on pastry making, I would use bought, all butter puff pastry as a substitute.

Carrying out the Hawkshead Relish Review has been a challenge, but a challenge I have enjoyed. Each product I reviewed imparted so much flavour when used as an ingredient, I will definitely be using more of their delicious chutneys, marmalades and jellies in future recipes.

I have also learnt not to judge an ingredient on first appearance. The Hot Garlic Pickle completely transformed once cooked and everyone agreed the cheese straws were the best they’d ever tasted. Layers of Red Onion Marmalade in the quiche created an amazing flavour sensation and lastly but by no mean least, the Pale Ale Jelly. Wow! The roasted tomatoes were incredibly good. Slow roasting and the addition of the jelly meant intense, but not overwhelming flavour.

If you have enjoyed my Hawkshead Relish Review you make like these recipes:

Easy Crusty Baguettes

FF Hawkshead Relish Review
Easy Crusty Baguettes

Asparagus Prosciutto Ham Tart

FF Hawkshead Relish Review
Asparagus Prosciutto Ham Tart

Mini Sparkenhoe Red Leicester Tarts

FF Hawkshead Relish Review
Mini Sparkenhoe Red Leicester Tarts

Whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens, I hope this post has inspired you to Embellish With Relish? A phrase used by Hawkshead Relish to inspire people to be more creative with their products.

Sammie xx

Hawkshead Relish provided me with the relishes listed for the purposes of this revie. All opinions, views, content, recipes and photography are my own. I was not paid to write this review post, please see my Disclosure Policy.

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