In my quest to do as many Christmassy things as possible within the next 3 days, today I thought I could try and make a new tradition. I’ve seen these delicious looking Chocolate Torrones all over my Pinterest feed; it looks like a block of chocolate with whole hazelnuts in, what’s not to love?!
So I thought I would try and make one of these this afternoon. In my head, I thought this might be something I could incorporate into my yearly festive traditions, I could make one of these every year and it could be a centrepiece on our Christmas table.
To cut a long story short, it didn’t quite turn out like that. I started off well, I had all my ingredients ready and things were going smoothly- I was melting chocolate, using it to line a loaf tin to get the signature Torrone shape, and everything was going well. But whilst I was melting my chocolate, with my festive music on in the background, I completely forgot the tray of hazelnuts I was roasting. As soon as I opened the oven, a smell that reminded me of burning popcorn filled the kitchen, as well as a thick cloud of smoke.
So that was the first mishap. The second one came soon after, when I’d put the tray of half burnt hazelnuts on top of the stove whilst I was trying to work out how to salvage the situation. I was still melting some chocolate using the hob very close to the burnt hazelnuts, and you can probably guess what happened next… the baking paper I’d put the hazelnuts on caught fire! Thankfully it was only the corner of the paper which had caught fire, so it didn’t touch the hazelnuts, although it probably wouldn’t have made much difference to them!
This may all sound rather dramatic for a bit of baking, but this was not the perfect new tradition I was planning on making! I did manage to salvage a few hazelnuts from the wreckage and add them into my Torrone, which is more like a big block of chocolate (which will still definitely get eaten within a matter of moments), but I think I’m going to take it as a sign that I should stick to gin cocktails and chutney!
I love the idea of making home made Christmas presents, preferably food ones, and popping them all in a hamper, with a pretty bow on top. But the reality is that often we don’t have time to make these gorgeous hampers, so we need to find quicker alternatives. This is where these chocolate buttons come in. They honestly only take 15 minutes to put together, which is great. And they’re totally vegan!
What you will need (to make about 15 buttons):
200g chocolate (I used vegan chocolate, but you could use non-vegan chocolate instead)
150g glacé cherries
First things first, melt the chocolate. Break it into chunks, pop it into a microwaveable bowl, and then blast it in 30 second spurts in the microwave until it has melted, which I think is the easiest way to do it.
Decant the melted chocolate into either a piping bag, or a sandwich bag with a tiny corner cut off
Lay down a sheet of greaseproof paper, and pipe generous circles of chocolate onto the paper
Chop the cherries and walnuts into small chunks, and then place a few chunks of each onto the chocolate buttons
Finally, leave the buttons somewhere cool to let them set
That’s it! They’re so easy to make, and I’ve actually made these as part of an upcoming blog post (which will be coming very soon).
I have to admit, as much as I would love to go totally vegan, and hopefully one day I will, I was a bit wary of this chocolate. I’ve tried vegan alternatives to chocolate before and was unsure, but I was so pleasantly surprised by this! It tasted so similar to non-vegan chocolate, the texture was the same, I really enjoyed it.
The main thing that I love about these chocolate buttons is that they are completely customisable, so you can put whichever toppings you want on them- fruit, nuts, seeds, honeycomb, the possibilities are endless!
Whilst buying ingredients to do some other festive baking, this box of DIY brownies caught my eye– they are chocolate brownies with a mint icing, and the green icing made me think of The Grinch! I haven’t made brownies from a box in so long, and I love how easy and quick it is to throw everything together and pop it in the oven, but you still feel like you’ve done some baking!
In the box, there was the brownie mix, the mint icing and some chocolate sprinkles:
All I had to do was add an egg, oil and water to the brownie mix, put the batter into a pan, bake it, then add the icing and sprinkles on top. I also saw these really cute snowflake decorations in ASDA, so I thought I’d adorn my brownies with them as well.
My kitchen smelt amazing even whilst I was mixing all the ingredients together, and it made me remember how much I used to love these boxed cake mixes when I was younger!
Now, of course, you don’t need an occasion to eat brownies, but I thought it would be nice to have one (or more) of these brownies whilst watching a Christmas film, to get into the festive spirit and all that. I mean, this pack says that it serves 16 but I’ve probably already eaten about 3 servings in 5 bites.
So, as the perfect accompaniment to these brownies, today’s Christmas Film of the Day is Elf. This feels like one of those Christmas films you can only watch when it starts getting into proper Christmas, and it’s already the 14th December, so I’m calling it! There are 11 days to go until Christmas, so we need to keep up the festive vibes as we get into the 10 day countdown!
This is my first bake of Blogmas… what a momentous occasion! I’m really surprised that this is the first bit of proper baking I’ve put up on here, particularly during Blogmas. If you read my Blogmas Day 3, where I rambled about running out of time to do all the baking that I wanted to a few days ago, you’ll know that I was planning to do loads of baking, all in one day. It’s taken a lot of motivation to get up off the sofa, but I’ve finally gotten around to doing it.
*In my best Masterchef contestant voice* So today, I have made an iced gingerbread loaf, complete with some little gingerbread people around it.
I found the recipe for this gingerbread loaf online, I think it was on the BBC Good Food website, and then I freestyled with the icing. It was a risky move, I know, because I really wanted to make a salted caramel icing, but I couldn’t find any salted caramel in the supermarket and was so distracted with the idea of where I was going to place my gingerbread people on top of the loaf that I couldn’t be bothered to make my own salted caramel. Instead, I made a golden syrup frosting and sprinkled in some sea salt, which I thought was a close second to my original plan.
I really love this gingerbread loaf, because it’s packed with ginger and allspice, which are two of the most important aspects of any good Christmas bake. When the loaf was cooking, my kitchen smelled like a Christmas grotto!
This loaf also makes me imagine a Hansel and Gretel style world, where the loaf is a little village, and the icing is like mini mountain peaks. All the gingerbread people are gossiping and chatting whilst the snow (icing sugar) starts falling around them…I’m probably a little overtired if you can’t already tell, but this is what came to my mind as I was decorating it earlier!
Okay, so it’s currently 14:15 and I’ve just started baking. My plan for this year was to bake as much as humanly possible, and I set aside today for a bumper baking day. But in amongst waiting for shopping to be delivered and finally getting my butt in gear to go out to the shops for some essential ingredients (I always forget butter), I haven’t been as organised as I wanted to be. I planned to make a gingerbread loaf and a chocolate torrone as well, which I now have all of the ingredients for, I just need that last spurt of motivation to get it all prepared.
To help with motivation, I’ve put The Princess Switch on Netflix. Have you watched The Princess Switch yet? I’ve seen it hyped up on Buzzfeed and I wanted to see what it would be like. I’m only half way through, but I’m enjoying it so far- I thought it was quite apt putting this one on, seen as it’s all based around a baking competition. It’s also giving me major Parent Trap vibes- the twin thing, one putting on a British accent, it’s like a dream Parent Trap/High School Musical crossover, with Vanessa Hudgens playing both parts. I have to admit that as much as I enjoy the classic Christmas films, I do love the modern ones as well, the cheesy, predictable ones they put on Channel 5. I watched A Christmas Prince last year when it was all over social media, and it was gloriously cheesy!
In other news, it’s just occurred to me this very second that I haven’t even eaten my advent calendar chocolate today; what have I been doing all day?! Let me introduce you to my advent calendar for this year, it is a Hotel Chocolat Supermilk one, which is supposed to be milk chocolate, but with less sugar in. I think the packaging on this calendar is very regal because it’s gold, and look, it even folds out- it feels very grown up!
I need to get back to my baking now, but thank you for reading my ramblings today, and I hope you remembered to eat your advent calendar chocolate this morning- I’m off to devour mine now!
So, Day 2- what have we got in store for today? We’re still early on in the game here, so festive inspiration is a must. Here are a few books and websites which I come back to every year which I wanted to share with you:
For All Round Festive Glory
Christmas Crafts by Kirstie Allsopp: this book has everything you could possibly need for a picture perfect Christmas, from the queen of all things festive, Kirstie Allsopp. It’s got a bit of everything in; home decor, tree decorations, suggestions for table decorations and even recipes for homemade gifts. I’ve used this book to make a homemade advent calendar, I tried to make some homemade baubles (mine probably could pass for a primary school project, but I’m going to call it rustic) and the recipes look brilliant too- I would definitely recommend this one.
Pinterest: as I’ve mentioned before, I am a huge fan of Pinterest, particularly for Christmas ideas- it is so exciting to make the Christmas Pinterest board of your dreams! I have a separate board for the Christmas projects I would love to do (most of them are food!) but this platform is brilliant for getting your creative juices flowing and giving you that festive feeling. You can find ideas for table spreads, vegan and vegetarian alternative Christmas dinner recipes, it is essentially a goldmine of festive tips and inspiration.
For Food Inspiration
Sweet! Celebrations by Elise Strachan: I purchased this book earlier on this year after having watched Elise on YouTube and admired all of her baking creations, and this book has so many good ideas for foodie Christmas projects. This book has a dedicated section for Christmas baking ideas, and there’s a ‘Candy Cottage’ made completely out of chocolate and sweets which I really want to have a go at making this year.
The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman: I don’t really read many fiction books, but the idea of cuddling up on the sofa with a blanket and a Christmas themed book sounds like the epitome of a perfect Winter afternoon to me. This book is all about an annual cookie club that takes between a group of friends, and each chapter starts with each character’s cookie recipe, which I thought was such a cool idea to include in a fiction book. I would love to host my own Christmas cookie club, I love the idea of spending a whole day surrounded by sugar and flour, making hundreds of different biscuits and bars ready for a party in the evening, so this book gives me endless amounts of inspiration! So if you need a break from all the busyness of December, I highly recommend shutting yourself away from the world for a few hours and losing yourself in this, or any of the other books instead.
Hello there! If you’re new to this blog, then welcome, my name is Anna, and I want to introduce myself to you with 10 things about me, which might help you to get to know me a little better.
So without further ado, here they are:
I am a Capricorn, and I know a lot of people get instantly put off when you mention star signs, but I love it all, even the sometimes questionable horoscopes!
I have a black cat called Ruby, she is fluffy, sassy, and my favourite thing in the world
My favourite food is bread and butter- a bit basic, I know, but it is always the thing I fancy, italways seems to fit the mood- you can have it for every meal and it’s completely socially acceptable
My biggest fear? I get totally freaked out by people wearing costumes, I know it’s a bit weird, but it just gives me the creeps
My greatest achievement- I made and decorated a birthday cake a few years ago for my friend’s 18th birthday. I absolutely loved doing it, it was the best thing I’ve ever done and I’d love to do more cake decorating in the future!
My hobbies- On the same note as #5, I used to bake loads, but I’ve gotten out of the habit of doing it and I would love to get back into it a bit more- my absolute dream is to do some of the Peggy Porschen masterclasses in London where you learn all about how to decorate wedding cakes, pure heaven!
My favourite TV show- I was obsessed with Narcos on Netflix, and lately I have really enjoyed watching Killing Eveon BBC iPlayer
I started this blog because- well, I’d been wanting to start one for ages, firstly about food and baking, but then more recently to talk about things which are really important to me, the things that have helped me to get through some tough times, and I hope they might be able to help you too (all will be coming soon!)
I am a big fan of vision boards- I’ve already made three, and I will be making a blog post about how to make an incredible vision board because it makes me so excited!
I really love cheese puffs and a glass of fizzy- totally unclassy, I know, but it’s my ultimate weekend treat. I also recently bought some pink champagne flutes from IKEA so now I feel like I’m Elle Woods whilst I’m happily sipping!
There you go, a bit more about me, please feel free to ask me any more questions in the comments section and let me know a bit more about yourself, I’d love to know!