Recipe: Festive cranberry and white chocolate cookies

The festive season gives me an excuse to do more baking. It’s not something I’ve done that much of in my life so it’s taken me a while to realise how amazingly satisfying it is. You mix a load of dry stuff, add wet stuff to make it stick together, put it in the oven and somewhat miraculously you’ve created something totally delicious to eat. Well, it doesn’t always work quite like that – I have had some total disasters, like the cake I produced that was the thickness of a frisbee (almost)!

Today’s recipe, though, couldn’t be simpler or the results more yummy. I decided to make these cranberry and white chocolate cookies as the perfect partner to a lovely, satisfying cup of ground coffee. For me the key to  making coffee at home is using coffee beans, it results in a way more flavourful drink and the aromas while you’re grinding make the kitchen smell delightful.

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How I love the aroma of freshly ground coffee beans

For this, of course, you will need a grinder. I love this one from Judge Cookware. It has a stylish stainless steel finish and what’s called a ceramic burr mechanism which means the beans are ground rather than cut up which retains maximum flavour. Very important!

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This handy little grinder is efficient and stylish too

And here’s the recipe….

CRANBERRY AND WHITE CHOCOLATE COOKIES

Half a cup of butter, softened

Half a cup of brown sugar

Half a cup of white sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 tbsp sherry

One and a half cups of self-raising flour

Half a teaspoon of baking powder

1 cup of white chocolate chips

1 cup of dried cranberries

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Sweet, chewy and oh-so-satisfying

Heat the oven to 190C.

Mix together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth.

Add the beaten egg and sherry to the mix.

Stir the flour and baking powder together and add to the mix. Combine well together.

Mix in the white chocolate chips and cranberries.

Line a baking tray with tin foil. Mould the cookie mixture into small balls and place on the tray, flattening with your hand. Make sure to leave some space between the cookies as they will expand as they cook. You can make them as big or small as you like.

Bake for about 15 minutes, keeping a close eye on them to ensure they don’t burn. It’s nice if they stay a bit moist and chewy.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 10 minutes before moving them from the baking tray.

Serve with a cup of piping hot freshly made coffee. This little glass cafetiere from Judge Cookware is scratch resistant, dribble free and looks really cute. It officially serves up three cups – but I guess that all depends on the size of your cups. I’m quite partial to a large coffee hit.

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Coffee and cookies – a great combo at any time of the day

Do you have a favourite cookie or biscuit recipe? Or a secret to making the best coffee at home? Do get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.

Find out more about Judge’s great range of coffee and teaware at judgecookware.co.uk

Chocolate delight from Beech’s

Easter may be over for another year but does that mean you must step away from the chocolate? Surely not? Well, here’s your perfect excuse to tuck back into it. Something new and chocolatey with a difference.

Beech’s have been making traditional chocolate in Britain since 1920 . New to their range for 2014 are these tasty bars. Dark chocolate lime and chilli; Dark chocolate ginger and Milk chocolate Anglesey sea salt. As I recently had guests for dinner I shared the treat of tasting them.

The clear favourite of the night was the Milk with Anglesey sea salt, beautifully creamy with a subtle salty after taste that didn’t offend even the most salt-averse of people, my husband.

The lime and chilli had an amazing limey aroma as soon as I opened the packaging, and the chilli flavour came through at the end. Certainly a different type of chocolate experience.

Again the ginger aromas were fab, though the flavours were very subtle, maybe too much so for my ginger-loving taste.

If you like dark chocolate (which I do think is something of an acquired taste), these bars should certainly become part of your repertoire. If not, stock up on the milk…you can’t go wrong.

Find out more at www.beechsfinechocolates.com

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Here are some fascinating Easter facts to mull over while you savour your chocolate.

Easter Day falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon in March but it’s some sort of theoretical moon that doesn’t quite match the one we can see. How confusing is that?

Anyway, all you need to know is that Easter Sunday may fall on any date between March 22 and April 25, making this year’s Easter almost as late as it can be.

According to www.bakewithstork.com the UK ate 38 million hot cross buns this Easter, which means the average person ate 0.6 of a bun. I felt very ashamed on reading this as am personally responsible for polishing off at least 4 (that I’m admitting to)…I LOVE hot cross buns.

We give eggs at Easter because they symbolise joy and celebration and life returning in spring.

Ten per cent of the annual spending on chocolate in the UK takes place over Easter. Is it me or does that seem low?

In the US where jelly beans are clearly an Easter favourite, it is estimated that 16 billion of them are eaten at Easter.

76% of people eat the ears on chocolate bunnies first, well, seems a logical place to start.

Happy chocolate eating, whatever the season!


A day in London’s chocolate heaven

Need something different to do this weekend? How about a Chocolate Ecstasy tour of our beautiful city, where you can eat chocolate for hours while ambling through some of the most stylish parts of London. I did the Chelsea tour which started in Pimlico, near Sloane Square tube station and finished near Victoria.

The tour is the brainchild of Jennifer Earle, who was also our charming and knowledgeable guide for the day, and starts at William Curley in Ebury Street, Pimlico. There’s masses of chocolate to choose from including Curley’s take on favourite childhood bars – the Nostalgia range – and some mouthwatering pastries.

Cabinets full of chocolates greet you

From there we meandered through the genteel neighbourhoods of Pimlico, Chelsea and Belgravia, with their grand squares, quirky shops and dream houses. The tour also takes you right past the house where Mozart composed his first symphony, aged eight.

The next stop  was Rococo in Motcombe Street, where we were taught how to taste chocolate  and learnt about the history and production of cocoa and chocolate.

A beautiful shop packed with irresistible goodies

When you’re in Rococo you feel like it’s your birthday and someone’s bought you hundreds of presents!

Then it’s a short amble to Pierre Hermes in Lowndes Street where, as well as a spectacular array of chocolates, you’ll find macaroon heaven including some slightly unusual (but delicious) combinations like caramelised fennel and lemon. One of the most visually stunning shops I’ve ever been in.

Macaron heaven in tantalising colours and flavours

The tour finished at Hotel Chocolat in Victoria Street; another cornucopia of chocolate wonder where you’ll find the perfect gift for anyone, especially those with a penchant for something hot…how about cocoa and chilli olive oil, chilli and chocolate Mexican mole sauce, chilli and cocoa glaze for fish or seasoned cocoa glaze for red meat?

Packages of chocolate to delight

And you can cook with it. Chocolate and chilli glaze anyone?

This tour uncovers chocolate in its most exquisite art form. The visual impact, and creatively conceived flavours, made the experience exciting, inspiring and, of course, delicious! For one day it felt like the streets of south-west London were paved with chocolate…an unmissable experience for chocaholics everywhere!

To find out more and book your own tour visit www.chocolateecstasytours.com