Cinnamon, Sea Salt and Chilli Chocolate Truffles

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Foodie gifts are always the best. Not only do they show effort and thought but are guaranteed to bring a smile to the receiver and a warm fuzzy feeling to the giver. Recently friends who came for supper bought along four bags of spices from Turkey that they had picked up on a recent business trip. So I now have bags of sumac and spice rubs – you can imagine how overjoyed I was.

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Time permitting, I like to take food gifts, sometimes homemade sometimes not, to friends who are hosting suppers. I find my chipotle sauce always goes down well, or in fact any of my chutneys under the chutney section in my recipe library. Chocolate truffles are always a crowd pleaser and are also perfect for bringing out at the end of a dinner. They take minimal effort to make and you can make them a few days in advance and then store them in the fridge.

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I am more partial to milk than dark chocolate so I have double the amount of milk chocolate to dark, I find this ration works really well. You can do the opposite if you prefer dark. You can also get creative with these truffles and instead of adding cinnamon, sea salt and chilli flakes, who can add just one or perhaps another spice such as cardamom, or perhaps fresh mint, coconut, ginger, nuts, raisons, bacon – the possibilities are endless.

Personally I love the combination of cinnamon, sea salt and a pinch of chilli flakes. Give them a try and leave a comment below and tell me what you think.

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Cinnamon, Sea Salt and Chilli Chocolate Truffles

200ml double cream

100g Green & Black milk chocolate 37% cocoa with sea salt

50g Green & Black dark chocolate 70% cocoa

1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

1  pinch of sea salt

1 pinch of chilli flakes

1 tbsp cocoa powder – for dusting

1. Place the milk and dark chocolate in a freezer bag and seal. Use a rolling pin to bash the chocolate into small pieces.

2. Gently warm the cream in a saucepan. When hot take off the heat and pour the broken up pieces of chocolate into the saucepan along with the cinnamon powder, sea salt and chilli flakes. The chocolate will melt within a couple of minutes. Give a good stir and taste to see if you like the flavour. Add a little more cinnamon powder, sea salt or chilli flakes as your taste requires.

3. Place into a bowl and place in the fridge for an hour and a half, by which time the chocolate will have become firmer to handle.

4. Roll in the palms of your hands to form small bite sized balls. I prefer them to look a little uneven compared to beautifully neat balls, but it’s a personal preference. Please note this part can become a little messy!

5. Roll in the cocoa powder and store  in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to eat. They will last for up to a week.

Instead of rolling the truffles in cocoa powder you could roll in pistachio, hazelnuts or coconut. Experiment and see what works for you.

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Croissant Bread and Butter Pudding

Have you ever been in the situation of having croissants in your bread bin slowly going stale over a couple of days and not wanting to simply discard them?

I was in this very dilemma recently so thought that the best option was to either:

(a) feed them to the birds

or

(b) make croissant bread and butter pudding.

I opted for (b)…………..sorry birds you’ll have to make do with normal bread crumbs!!

Lardy? Most definitely.

Decadent? Well just a little bit.

Healthy? We’ll just pass on that one shall we.

Bread and butter pudding is a much loved British dessert that we can all fondly (well for the most part!) remember eating as children. Today there are so many varieties of the dish to tempt and inspire. As well as stale bread or croissants you can also use brioche or panetonne – the possibilities are limitless. I stumbled across a rather interesting and amusing website called ‘The British Bread and Butter Pudding  Appreciation Society’ when looking into the exact origins of the pudding. Do check it out here to find some interesting facts about the dish.

My daughters asked me to omit sultanas, which would normally be my go-to fruit of choice to put in the pudding, and asked for chocolate drops. The closest thing I could find in my pantry to little chocolate drops were giant chocolate buttons, so as a treat I scattered a few of these in the pudding. You can basically add any fruit to the mix – summer berries would be delicious and colourful or even blackberries in the late summer, early autumn. If you do end up using sultanas do remember to soak them first in warm water or the ones you scatter on the top will become hard and rather burnt.


I had a couple of almond croissants getting stale so added these with my regular croissants.

Croissant Bread and Butter Pudding

Serves 6-8

5 stale croissants, sliced into thin segments

3 eggs, whisked

400ml semi-skimmed milk

150ml double cream

2 tbsp caster sugar and an extra sprinkling to go on top

pinch of cinnamon powder

pinch of nutmeg

1 tbsp melted butter

1 tsp of vanilla extract

handful (or two!) of chocolate drops

1. Preheat an oven at 180 degrees (I use a fan oven). Slice the croissants evenly and line them in a greased ovenproof dish.

2. Whisk the eggs and then add the milk, cream, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, melted butter, vanilla extract and some of the chocolate drops. Whisk/stir the ingredients into the eggs.

3. Pour the mixture over the croissants and leave for 10 minutes to let the mixture soak into the croissants.

4. Before putting in the oven scatter with a few extra chocolate drops , along with a sprinkling of extra caster sugar.

4. Place in the oven for 30 minutes and serve immediately.

Naughty but very very nice!


Classic Lemon Tart

Sometimes in life I think it is best to get straight to the point…….

COOKING A CLASSIC LEMON TART IS NO EASY FEAT

However,  I have been fine tuning this recipe now for sometime (I had a few disasters on the pastry front) so I think that if you follow my instructions carefully you should be rewarded with a delicious dessert that will wow your friends into thinking you a natural patisserie chef in the making.

My blog has been up and running for one year now (….jumps for joy…) and after looking through all the recipes I have shared with you I realise that I have tended to ignore the sweeter things in life. This is largely because I rarely eat puddings – I just don’t really have a sweet tooth and I guess part of it stems from the fact that, for the most part, I don’t think they are massively healthy. Then again the old adage of ‘everything in moderation’ is so true, so perhaps over the coming year you may find a few more sweet recipes to tempt you.

So to the recipe in hand. Scroll through the photos below and read the tips I have added to prepare a perfect lemon tart. Let me know if you find any other tweeks necessary that you would like to share with the wider community. I would always love to hear from you.

I prepare the pastry a day ahead and leave it in the fridge. Bring it out of the fridge at least an hour before rolling so that it can acclimatise to room temperature.

Thoroughly grease the loose bottom tart tin with butter. This is really important as you want the tin to come away easily from the pastry after cooking. Failing to do so will result in the sides of your tart breaking.

Sprinkle flour on the surface that you are going to roll the pastry. I have found that to transfer the rolled pastry to the tin is virtually impossible as some of it breaks off. Do not be alarmed. Place as much of the pastry in the tin as you can and with the bits that have broken off simply piece together.  Also make sure that the pastry is sufficiently up the sides so that it is evenly spread.

Remember the bottom of the flan is not going to be seen by a wider audience as you have the lemon mixture going on top of it.

Make sure you have enough ceramic baking beans/and or mixed beans to cover the whole of the tart dish. You want to make sure that they are evenly spread.

Do not whisk the eggs so that they are frothy. A gentle whisk, using a hand whisk is suffice.

Don’t forget to strain the creamy lemon mixture before transferring into the tart base. You want the mixture to be smooth.

I added some raspberries to compliment the lemon tart in both appearance and taste. Strawberries would also be a great addition.

A scattering of icing sugar adds the finishing touch. I noticed a little hand popping into the frame of my photo just as I had taken the shot. Clearly too irresistible not to eat!

Classic Lemon Tart

Serves around 12 people

Adapted from the recipe in Red Magazine April 2012  

I use an 11 inch (29cm by 4cm) tart dish

For the pastry

300g plain flour

45g ground almonds

pinch of salt

200g butter, keep at room temperature and cut into cubes

4 tbsp caster sugar

3 egg yolks

1 1/2 (one and half) tbsp cold water

For the filling

300 ml double cream

zest of 2 lemons

juice of 8/9 lemons (so that it measures 200ml juice)

6 eggs

200g white caster sugar

1. If you can make the pastry a day in advance. If not make the pastry and leave to chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. Ideally using a food processor, pulse the flour, ground almonds and pinch of salt and then add the butter followed by the caster sugar. Add the add yolks and water and whizz together until the mixture forms a large clump. Work the pastry into a neat ball and wrap in clingfilm and place into the fridge, either over night or for around 20 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees if using a fan oven or 200 degrees if not or gas mark 6.

3. Grease the tart dish throughly. On a cold surface sprinkle some flour and roll out the pastry and transfer, as best you can, to the tart dish. If it breaks simply press the remaining pastry pieces together to cover the gaps. Make sure the pastry has sufficiently gone into all the grooves of the dish. You will probably find that you have a little pastry left over, which you can either use to make a mini tart or use as you see fit.

4. Place baking paper into the tart dish and cover with baking beans. Place in the oven for 20 minutes to bake blind. Take out of the oven and discard the baking paper and save the baking beans for another time.  Brush the pastry with egg yolk and return to the oven for a maximum of 5 more minutes. Then leave to rest before putting in the lemon mixture.

5. Put the cream in a pan with the lemon zest to infuse gently. When small bubbles appear turn off the heat.

6. Break the eggs into a bowl along with the caster sugar. Using a hand whisk gently stir together – you do not want to make them frothy so do not over do it here. Stir in the lemon juice and very slowly, so as not to cook the eggs, add the warm lemon zest cream.

7. Place the tart shell onto an oven tray and then sieve the lemon mixture into bowl/jug and gently pour into the warmed pastry tart shell. Transfer to the oven on the middle shelf and cook for 18 minutes. Keep checking for the lemon mixture to set (it becomes nicely firm and does not wobble when you move the tray!!) as you may find you can bring it out of the oven a touch sooner than this.  I left mine in for 20 minutes (as the Red Magazine recipe states) but found that it darkens some of the pastry too much (have a close inspection of final photo !).

8. Place on a wire rack to cool completely. Gently remove only the outer part of the tart dish. Serve at room temperature.  Add icing sugar, raspberries to decorate as required.