c December 2013 | Garden, Tea, Cakes, (Books) and Me

Chocolate Mince Pies with Port - Recipe

I know I am rather late posting this recipe, it's now New Years Eve! To top it off it is also supposed to be an entry into December's We Should Cocoa Challenge, but I have kind of missed that too. 

Recipe for sweet chocolate pastry

150g butter
250g plain flour
30g cocoa powder
90g icing sugar
1 beaten egg
pinch of salt

jar of mincemeat
2-3 tablespoon Port

Preheat oven to 180 degrees c or gas 4.
  • Rub the butter and flour together, until it resembles breadcrumbs. 
  • Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into the mixture, add the egg and salt. Mix altogether lightly to you obtain a smooth dough. 
  • You will need to chill the pastry for a minimum of 30 minutes, wrap in cling film and place in fridge.
  • Roll out the pastry onto a floured surface, cut out using your pastry cutters and place into you pie trays. 
  • This should make a good 16 mince pies, but it will depend on how thick you like your pastry. 
  • Before adding your mincemeat straight to your pastry cases, pop it into a bowl and mix in 3 tablespoon of Port, or more but you do not want it too runny. 
  • Add a good teaspoon of the mincemeat into the pastry cases.  Use a little milk to fix the pastry lids on. Bake in the oven for 15 mins.

It is tricky to judge when chocolate pastry is baked, but I always say its better to have slightly over baked pastry than under baked. So if you are unsure bake for a few extra minutes.

I  baked some of these for my Christmas Office Bake Off, but finished them with a nutty topping.

This is my late entry into December's We Should Cocoa Challenge, which this month combines chocolate with alcohol and is hosted by Chocolate Log Blog.
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Christmas Office Bake Off

1970's inspired Ginger Nut Biscuit Log
It appears that we just can not resist a bake off in the office where I work, the suggestion of a Christmas Bake Off certainly got the creative juices flowing. As you would expect there were a few Mince Pies entries, a few Yule Logs including one with a twist. 

The winner was the 1970's inspired Ginger Nut Biscuit Log, it packed a powerful punch as the Ginger Nut biscuits were soaked in Sherry and then covered in fresh cream. It also saw the first man win the Office Best Baker title, not that we were in any way competitive. In second place was the Festive Rocky Road with its cranberries, pecans and glitter. Placed third was the rather tasty Almond and Mincemeat tart, a Mary Berry recipe which was still slightly warm.

The Office Bake Off also coincided with Christmas Jumper day, so it was only fitting all monies raised from selling off our bakes went towards  #SaveTheChildren. We raised a total of £136!
Christmas Cupcakes
Mary Berry's Mincemeat & Almond Flan
Chocolate Yule Log
Mince Pies

Christmas Rocky Road with Cranberries and Pecans

Christmas Tree Shortbread
Chocolate Mince Pies with a nutty topping.
See my Shortbread Office Bake Off or my Loaf Bakes Office Bake Off posts.
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Dairy Diary 2014 - Review and Giveaway (closed)

Most people like to be organised, and we all have our own way of achieving this. Even in this world of technology I like to write reminders/lists/birthdays down in a paper diary.

I was very kindly sent a 2014 Dairy Diary, which as you can see  has a wonderfully Summery picture on the front. The Dairy Diary will be familiar to many, it was first published in 1982 and has developed over the years to respond to the needs of a busy home. The main part of the diary is of course the calendar which is printed a week to view, with sufficient space in each day to write appointments, reminders and notes. Alternative weeks there is either a larger notes section or a seasonal recipe.

One regular feature in every Diary Dairy is a selection of recipes, I have already spotted a number that sounds tasty such as the Crunchy Alaska Salmon Goujons and one that would be great to make edible Christmas gifts Peanut Brittle.

The Dairy Diary comes with some essentials, such as reminder stickers for those important dates, birthdays, doctors, dentist. I have already got my sticker in for my dentist appointment in May. A guide to washing labels and stain removing, conversion tables, planners for 2014 and 2015.

Each year you also get a little something extra, 2014 contains an introduction to crocheting, baking meringues and also some great gardening tips. So if that New Year's resolution is to try your hand at something new, then why not pick up a crochet hook.

What I like best:-
  • Ribbon marker 
  • Reminder stickers
  • Plenty of space to write notes
  • great selection of recipes
  • loved the introduction to crocheting
  • wipe clean and sturdy cover

I was sent a Dairy Diary for the purposes of review, all opinions expressed are my own.


Dairy Diary have kindly given one of my readers a chance to win their very own 2014 Dairy Diary. If you are not lucky enough to win your can buy your own or they make a great gift for £7.25 

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.

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 29 December 2013.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Easy handmade gifts using chocolate transfer sheets

Here is a really easy Christmas treat to make, ideal for yourself or as a gift for family or friends - Chocolate Mendiants. I made these with a little help from my niece, they are very easy.

Chocolate Mendiants with chocolate transfer sheets
Chocolate Mendiants
You need:- 
  • 1 to 2 bars of quality dark chocolate (depends how many you want to make for gifts and eat yourself!)
  • a selection of dried fruits and nuts, whatever you have in your cupboard
  • chocolate transfer sheets
Break up and melt the chocolate, I prefer to use a bowl over a saucepan containing simmering water. Here is a helpful guide to melting chocolate if you are unsure how to do it.

Roll out flat your chocolate transfer sheet transfer side up, keeping things festive mine was a snowflake design. You can buy these from the internet  or you can use a sheet of baking parchment or greaseproof paper. Spoon the melted chocolate onto the sheet in a circle shape. Then sprinkle your dried fruits and nuts, I also used the odd chocolate drop and meringue pieces. Allow the chocolate to set before packing in cellophane bags with some ribbon to these make great Christmas gifts.
My niece's smily face design 

I made a batch of these for Christmas gifts last year and they were well received by everyone, including Santa!
I am entering these into December's Festive Food Gifts Tea Time Treats, hosted this month by What Kate Baked and alternating with  Lavender and Lovage

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