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Chocolate Orange Cupcakes // Recipe

29 Apr 2014

Once again, the gorgeous combination of chocolate and orange has allowed me to create some delicious, mouth-watering (in the words of my testerstreats. This time, I've made some impressive looking cupcakes.

You can easily create a chocolate orange flavour with a Terry's Chocolate Orange itself, but they're pretty expensive and although I'm sure we all wish we had them lying around in our kitchens, we just don't. So I've created a recipe which uses only common cupboard ingredients to make the recipe slightly more accessible.

The last thing I'd like to say before the recipe (I promise), is can we just look how far I've come with my piping since the Banoffee cupcakes I made a few weeks ago? I'm still using my small piping set, but I used the 'star' nozzle this time, which gave them a great professional effect. A lot of the time when I bake I don't spend very much time on the decoration, but when I do try out some fancy piping I feel really proud of the result, and the compliments do wonders to my baking ego...

For the cakes: (makes about 18)
3 tbsp cocoa powder
6 tbsp boiling water
175g butter
200g caster sugar
3 eggs
200g self-raising flour
2 tbsp orange juice
1 tsp baking powder
The grated zest of 3/4 of a large orange

For the icing:
A piping bag (not essential)
400g icing sugar
6 tbsp soft butter (leave out for 45 minutes)
3 tbsp orange juice
About 4 squares of dark chocolate
The grated zest of 1/4 of a large orange

1. Preheat your oven to 180 C (fan) or 200 non-fan. Create a smooth paste with your boiling water and cocoa powder, making sure that there are no lumps left in the powder or you will end up with a lumpy end mixture! (I make this mistake a lot, and it is very fustrating.)

2. I use the all-in-one method which combines every ingredient in at once. Another method would be to cream the butter and the sugar together, then adding the eggs and finally the remaining ingredients.

3. Grate the zest of one orange and mix about 3/4 of it into your mixture.

4. Spoon the smooth mixture into cupcake cases, and put them in the oven for about 15 minutes (each oven varies, I would recommend checking them every 2 minutes after about 13 minutes.)

5. Remove your cakes from the oven and stick a fork or skewer through one to check that it comes out clean.
6. Sift your icing sugar into a large bowl, add the soft butter and keep on mixing until the butter has combined with most of the sugar. Add your orange juice one tablespoon at a time to make sure you get the consistency you want.
7. Test your icing, and if it's not orangey enough then use a teaspoon of the remaining grated orange zest and mix into the icing.
8. If you're using a piping bag, I would recommend using the star nozzle, putting the icing into a piping bag and piping it slowly onto the cupcakes in a swirling pattern.
9. Use the rest of your grated zest to sprinkle over the top, and then grate your chocolate onto the cupcakes for especially pretty looking cupcakes.

Let me know if you like this recipe, or if you would make any amendments. I'm no professional and I actually always wind my mum up by asking for detailed feedback, so suggestions are great!

One Town's Best Kept Secret

26 Apr 2014

This week I paid the wonderful town of Guildford a little visit. Guildford is a great place in Southern England, featuring some brilliant high-end shops, an abundance of adorable cafés and restaurants, and some beautiful Castle gardens. Unfortunately the castle itself was covered in scaffolding on the day we visited, but the surrounding gardens were certainly beautiful enough to make up for it.

To me, it looks like I took this picture from a little historic castle in a small countryside village, when in actual fact it was about two minutes walk from the bustling centre of Guildford. That's the magic of it, this is a view of the rural countryside, but if I moved around to the other side of the castle, I'd be faced with a view of an urban (or at least, slightly urban) town.

Before I move onto more wonderful pictures of the gardens, let us just take a moment to appreciate the beauty that is a Katsu Curry. I got this from Kokoro Sushi & Bento, a place I would highly recommend to those who don't eat Sushi but are constantly dragged to places with Sushi lovers! The only regret was getting the medium instead of a small... not even I could handle this amount.

Once again we were so lucky with the weather. I feel like I should take some rainy pictures to show you all that my blog is not an accurate representation of English weather. In fact, I'm really happy that I managed to get some sun yesterday, because my family and I had to cancel our trip to Kew Gardens today due to HEAVY rain. Come back, Sun!

Spot the duck?

I love how the blogging world allows us to truly appreciate little gems like this, whilst also encouraging us to find them in the first place. Although my pictures aren't as great as I'd like them to be (DSLR for my next birthday please), I'm really enjoying capturing my daily delights and sharing them with you guys!

Delving into Pinterest

23 Apr 2014
I am shamelessly copying my sister Tash's Pinterest Picks post but hey, be flattered little sis. I've had a little spare time recently, and what better way to spend it than by browsing the boards of Pinterest and gazing at all the pretty little things?

1. I love funny cushions like this! Arrogant wit can be hilarious at times, and I'd love these in my bedroom when I'm a bit older to give a cute, funny edge to what might otherwise be too simplistic a room!

2. When I have my own house, there will be fairylights everywhere. EVERYWHERE.

3. Am I actually going to be here in Montpellier next year? As in, within walking distance or even living  along beautiful old French streets like this? Someone pinch me.


4. This outfit is so summery, cute and sophisticated at the same time. I've always been afraid of white jeans (what if I want to sit down on grass?!), but I feel like they're a must this summer.

5. Right now I'm in a place where I feel trapped with the same old things, no adventure and nothing new. I feel like I need to explore but I just don't know when/if I will ever be able to do that. For anyone considering a gap year - please do it. Going straight to uni was a great idea on the one hand, and I think I might have regretted not jumping into uni life straight away, but I really, really wish I'd given it more thought.

6. I'd like this as my garden please. Oh, and you can throw in the weather too, thanks.

7. Um, talented or what? I am quite literally the world's worst nail painter, to the extent that I can't even manage one single, plain colour without chipping, smudging, and painting my whole finger in the process.

I might do more of these as I've been finding Pinterest to be a great source of inspiration lately. If you love it too and have a link you'd like to share, please me know below!

Mixed Spice & Cinnamon Marshmallow Hat Biscuits

20 Apr 2014

It's Easter time, and in my family that doesn't mean baking a Simnel cake, Easter bread or Hot Cross Buns, it means baking my Easter Hat biscuits, which have no relevance to Easter whatsoever. I first made these when I was about 8, hence the laminated recipe that's decorated with mishaped flowers and 'eggs', but they've remained a tradition in my family. These are particularly great to make with children because they're incredibly easy, cute and fun!

In case you can't read the above, you will need:
100g butter (unsalted or salted)
75g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
200g plain flour
A pinch of salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp mixed spice
50g raisins
2-3 tbsp milk

1 egg white
Small amount of white icing
Large marshmallows
Strawberry laces
Caster sugar for sprinkling

Cream the butter and sugar together, then add in the egg yolk and mix well.

Add the flour, spices and salt to the mixture and mix with your hands to make breadcrumbs.

Add enough milk to bind your mixture into a soft but not sticky dough. I added about 3-4 tbsp myself, but start with 2 and keep adding more if needed.

Roll your dough out onto a floured surface, then take a circular cutter and cut to about a 2 inch diameter and 5mm thick. Place onto a greased baking tray and put into the oven for about 8 minutes at 180C (the recipe in the picture is not for Fan ovens, so use 180 not 200). Take your biscuits out and brush over your lightly beaten egg white. Put the biscuits back into the oven for 5 minutes, or until they are just about turning golden brown around the edges.

Mix a little icing sugar with some water in a bowl to form a standard glacé icing. Spoon a tiny bit onto the bottom of your marshmallows, and stick them onto the biscuits. For the finishing touches, take your strawberry laces, break them in half and tie them in a bow around the marshmallow. That's it!

I hope you enjoyed this little recipe from my 8 year old self! If you did, and want to browse through my other bakes then take a look at the RECIPE section of my blog. If you have any requests or questions then do let me know in the comment box.

Wondering Along Exeter Quay & A Spot of Lunch

18 Apr 2014

Pretty much all of my favourite places in the world have one thing in common, and that's water. Whether it's the sea, lake, river or a canal, there's something so beautiful and endearing that I struggle to find elsewhere. So when my friend suggested we visit Exeter Quay on my second day in Devon, to say I was excited would definitely be an understatement. From the moment we stepped onto the quay I was truly in my element, but although a walk along the river was certainly enticing, my stomach will always come first, so when we passed by 'The Waterfront' we rushed to grab the last table outside, and ordered a spot of lunch.

This doesn't even need words. The Waterfront definitely excelled with their pizzas, and this 'Siciliano' tasted and looked incredible.

If there's Pulled Pork on the menu, then there will be Pulled Pork on my plate. Unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed at the size of my 'sandwich' considering it was £9, but it was delicious and along with a hefty portion of yummy coleslaw it ended up being quite filling. On the whole, The Waterfront was remarkably tasty, slightly overpriced but in a lovely location that certainly made up for it. Would I go again when I'm next in Exeter? If it was a sunny day then yes, absolutely.

Let's all take a moment to embrace that beautiful blue water against the clear blue sky. We even spotted multiple kayakers making their way down the water, which made me incredibly nostalgic. It's such a shame that I don't live particularly near anywhere suitable for Kayaks or water-sports, I would love to get back into it and consider it as a proper hobby one day!

And there we have it: my brief visit which was far, far too short for everything I wanted to do. If you're ever debating whether or not to venture into Devon then stop hesitating and just do it!

Sunshine, Beautiful Gardens, & The Beach

16 Apr 2014
Monday was a sunny day, as was Tuesday. And what do English people do when the sun is out? We run to the nearest beach for a spot of sunbathing, fish and chips, and ice cream. Fortunately, the sun must've known that I already had a trip to Devon planned, and followed me there on my travels to visit two friends from University.

It may have been sunny, but it certainly wasn't scorching hot, so I still had to layer up. I paired my sister's playsuit from River Island with an oversized Denim Jacket from H&M (this season).

Our first point of call was Sidmouth beach, where we basked in the midday sun armed with cupcakes and brownies to feed our hungry stomachs. I haven't been to the beach since my family holiday to Italy last July, so this truly was a treat for me!

Next stop, the souvenir shop, which was mainly for Celine, who wanted something fun and cute to take back to Paris for her parents.

Of course, no beach trip is complete without some excellent British Fish & Chips. I know, I know, there's no picture, but what can I say? We were starving and I couldn't stop eating long enough to take a picture! I regret nothing.

We were then led to some picturesque gardens conveniently situated along the coast. What's better than a sunny view of the sea and gorgeous flowers?

Now this really reminded me of being on holiday! You can tell we haven't had much sun this year...

This was the only shot we managed to get of all three of us, but it was so lovely catching up, especially as Celine lives all the way in Paris! It's a shame my eyes can't handle any kind of bright light, how am I always the only one squinting?

I'll leave you all with a picture of this guy, and with a recommendation to visit Devon and anywhere else you used to visit but haven't been to in a while. I used to go every Easter with my family, and this trip reminded me how much I miss it!

Watch out for Part two of my Devon trip...

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