Saturday, 3 October 2015

Halloween Chocolate Cake Toppers with Choco Writers

I love getting creative with chocolate, but it can be a little messy and a little tricky not to overheat the chocolate. Choco Writers is a clever product that saves time and the guess work of melting chocolate. No more messy worktops, bowls or spatulas when getting creative with Choco Writers.  
Halloween cake decorating ideas
Halloween chocolate decorations using Choco Writers

What is Choco Writers?
A sealed tube containing solid milk, dark or white chocolate that melts once heated with hot water. Create endless chocolate decorations and designs by using the tube like a pen. 

How to Use it? 
Immerse the tube with the lid on into a container of hot water (I used a tall glass). Wait 2-3 minutes. Remove the tube and dry it with a cloth, remove the lid and with a pair of scissor snip off the sealed end. 

Having prepared your sheet of baking/parchment paper create your chocolate design, you can either use your creative flair or draw a design on the back of the parchment paper and trace over it with the Choco Writer. 

Leave your decorations to set. I placed my parchment paper onto a tray to make it easy to move out of harms way. Put the lid back on your tube and store in the cupboard until it is time to decorate cakes again. 

They really do add that professional personal touch to a even a simple cupcake. Time to get Creative.

Halloween Cake Decorating Ideas
Halloween cake decorating ideas

Creating your Halloween Chocolate Toppers

Do you like my Halloween themed decorations? Not too scary for you! Here is an easy way to create your own, Download my Printable Halloween Template which includes 5 different designs. Once printed place under your baking/parchment paper then using your Choco Writer trace over my design - easy! Whilst they are setting why not make some Chocolate Crispies to put them on. You will also find other themed templates on the Choco Writers website.

Chocolate decoration Cake template
click the picture to download the template

Halloween Themed Chocolate Crispies

by September-27-2015

A simple scary chocolate Halloween treat, decorate with your own Halloween chocolate creations.
  • 88gr Puffed Rice Cereal
  • 200gr Dark Chocolate
  • Choco Writer for decoration
Line a baking tray, I used one that measures 19cms x 29cms and is 2 cms deep. Break up the chocolate into pieces and place into a heatproof bowl. Sit over a pan of barely simmering water and allow the chocolate to melt, stirring occasionally. Pour the chocolate into a bowl with the puffed rice. Mix well so that the chocolate coats all of the puffed rice. Pour onto the baking sheet and gently push the chocolate puffed rice into the corners ensuring you have a flat level surface. Leave to cool and set. Once cooled carefully cut into squares.Using a your Choco Writer a a few blobs of melted onto the top of your cake and place or slide off the baking paper your Chocolate Halloween design. 

Alternative: For a sweeter treat use white chocolate along with some small marshmallows added to the puffed rice.

Prep time:
Cooling time:  

Choco Writers cake decorations
Get creative with Choco Writers
Disclosure: I was sent a set of Choco Writers for the purposes of this review. You can buy Choco Writers from Asda, Sainsbury's,  Morrisons and Lakeland from around £1.50.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Win a copy of How to Make Tea: The Science Behind the Leaf - Giveaway

Ivy Press are offering one of my blog readers the chance to win a copy of the brand new book How to Make Tea: The Science Behind the Leaf by Brian R Keating and Kim Long. To find out more about the book read my review. 

How to enter
To be in with a chance of winning this lovely prize confirm your entry using the Rafflecopter widget, for extra entries complete the additional tasks. If you can not see the Rafflecopter widget below, you may need to refresh your page using F5. For more information on how to enter you can watch this Rafflecopter video or visit fellow blogger Super Lucky for a simple guide on using Rafflecopter. 

Remember if you enter the competition by tweeting be sure to include the link to your tweet. If any of the links are not working on the widget leave me a comment or tweet me.

Closes 18 October 2015. Winner must respond within ten days of being notified, after which time a new winner will be selected. UK entrants only. For Terms and Conditions click the link on the Rafflecopter widget.

Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 25 September 2015

How to make Tea : The Science Behind the Leaf - Book Review

It is not often I get the chance to share a book review with you here on my blog, those I have reviewed are either baking or gardening related. So it makes a nice change to have the chance to read a book all about Tea. It also gives me the opportunity to include this book towards this year's reading challenge I am completing.

Book review How to Make Tea

How to Make Tea :The Science Behind the Leaf by Brian R Keating and Kim Long is published by Ivy Press.   Reading through the book you will discover the history of tea, its location it is grown, how it is produced, health benefits and the different types of tea.

There are so many interesting facts within this book, information around the geographical distribution of tea and the types of tea consumed by different countries is truly fascinating. I most enjoyed the chapters of Buying and Storing Tea, The Basic Necessities and How to Make Tea. I did titter to myself whilst reading the Tea in Great Britain section, it made us sound like a nation that constantly drinks tea, accompanied by food or a sweet treat - I think it is fair to say that the author nailed it, pretty much sums up my days. Tea, cake, tea, biscuit, tea, chocolate etc.  

The book starts with a little history around the growing areas in the world including how Britain influence its growing outside of China.  Tea is produced from the Camellia plant, yet we manage to create three main different teas  from the same plant. Black, White and Green which are all the same tea variety but created by completing some all of the processes of tea production. Something I had never realised.

For example White Tea is created when the leaves are steamed, then allowed to wither and then rolled and packaged. Whereas Black Tea excludes the steaming process but includes a rolling and full oxidation and firing process before being packaged.
Extract from How to Make Tea : The Science Behind the Leaf
A very pleasant and informative book to read, and do not be put of by the title 'science behind the tea' the content at the beginning of the book is informative from a science perspective but not overly complicated or confusing. The author certainly delivers when he promised "lays out the facts for the tea-loving non scientist". 

Much has been made in the press about this book, an American telling the world how to make tea? From having read the book and having read some of the articles it is clear that they have never read the book themselves. As the saying goes 'Do not judge a book by it's cover'.

I have certainly learnt a number of new facts about tea from reading this book, some of which will influence my buying, brewing and drinking of tea in the future.
  • Seriously consider buying organic tea - the tea plant can absorb heavy metals from the soil, many established tea growing nations are now also the home to major industry such as China and India. Organic teas are not only checked for levels of pesticides but also heavy metal. I always considered buying organic, but had never consider how heavy metals could play a part in tea before.
  • Water - as the book says Water is the mother to tea. Never brew tea using tap water containing chlorine. Use filtered water or run your cold water for a few minutes then fill a jug and allow it to sit overnight, apparently almost all of the chlorine will have dissipated naturally.
  • Storing Loose Tea -  tea can last between 1 to 3 years but must be kept in the right conditions to preserve it. In an airtight tin, away from moisture, heat and strong odours. Never store tea near coffee.
  • Pyramid shaped tea bags may look gimmicky but actually allow the tea to swell and agitate in the water, something standard tea bags do less well. 
This book is clear that there really is no right or wrong way to make and enjoy a cup of tea, everyone has their own unique methods of brewing that perfect cup. 

Book Review- Ivy Press How to Make Tea

Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of the book for the purpose to review. Post contains affiliate link.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Simple Sewing by Hand - Mollie Makes Kits

Sometimes you just want a quick sewing project, for those times you want to be creative and achieve instant results. With that in mind I turned to a sewing kit.  I have a few of these, I acquired them from a friend who was having a crafting clear out. The kits from Mollie Makes magazine were just missing their instructions, which were easily found online to download.

Mollie Makes Coin purse sewing kit
Making a Coin Purse 
I chose a kit to make a coin purse. I decorated the fabrics included in the kit with a little impromptu contrast cross stitching and some decorative ribbon. A little hand sewing, a blob or two of glue to secure the fabric to the purse clasp and I was all finished.

I now have myself a personalised purse.

Mollie Makes Coin purse sewing kit

Monday, 14 September 2015

An Autumn Display for the Home - Dried Apple Slices Tutorial

I have created a simple guide to making dried apple slices that can be used to create an Autumn themed Interiors display. Or alternatively dried apple rings also make a great healthy snack. You can get creative by adding your own twist and using some pretty ribbon, you can follow my full guide as a featured blogger at Wayfair

An Autumn Inspired Craft Display

Have you got creative for Autumn? There are lots of wonderful items from nature that can be used inside the home, such as fir cones and leaves