21 December 2015

Chocolate & Cranberry Alternative Christmas Cake with Lindt

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer
Had a very shiny nose
And if you ever saw it
You would even say it glows
Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer

I'm not going to lie, after my birthday last weekend I feel like I have overindulged and been absolutely spoilt rotten already, I'm not sure I'm ready for Christmas (who am I kidding?!). Last Saturday, my friends and I went for brunch at Marcus Wareing's restaurant Tredwells (post to follow but in summary amazing cocktails, great company and some great food albeit in quite small tasting portions!), before chilling out at the Southbank Christmas market and laughing the day away with a fair few glasses of prosecco/hot rum/mulled wine in hand. It was exactly how I wanted to spend my birthday, just having a relaxed care free today with my closest friends...and Han Solo. Oh my God, have you seen it? Are you a huge fan? I love all of the old 70s Star Wars films, me and my brother were obsessed with it growing up, and Princess Leia was my ultimate role model. Yeah, she's a princess who occasionally needs rescuing, but she also does the rescuing, leads the rebellion, fights on the front line and sets herself free (after strangling Jabba the Hut). In my eyes, that's a perfect role model (maybe minus the strangling but desperate times call for desperate measures). 

Anyway, instead of a birthday cake this year, because we were out eating lots of goodies all day Saturday at the Christmas market, I decided to make a cake for our Friendmas on the Sunday, where me and my friends exchanged presents, ate 'Christmas' dinner together (basically lots of brie) and went to my friend's carol service. Because the lovely Mai at Lindt had sent me a box of Christmas chocolates, I knew it has to be a chocolate cake, plus you know it was my birthday weekend and I love chocolate cake. One of my favourite cakes is black forest gateau, but obviously cherries aren't in season right now, so I decided to make a cranberry butter icing to adorn my cake and up the festive factor. In the box from Lindt I also had a couple of reindeer which I thought would be perfect cake toppers, they're good on their own but again birthday gal's cake means birthday gal's rules and that means covering them in glitter and lots of it. 

My boyfriend, Dan, has been getting a bit frustrated with the amount of glitter in our lives, since I wrapped all our presents (need gift wrap inspiration? See the post here). He's pretty much had glitter living in his beard for a couple of weeks now, which has only worsened following the introduction of boxes full of chocolate with glitter in from Lindt and you know glitter boots (sayyyy whaaat, amazing birthday present to myself seen here! I adore them). But Christmas is a time for a bit of sparkle so I flaunted his no more glitter rule and went full steam ahead painting my Lindt reindeer with gold glitter dust, because I'm a rebel with a festive cause. And that festive cause is Friendmas!

17 December 2015

A Very Merry Mulled Wine Apple & Cranberry Strudel

Ok top 5 favourite desserts of all time, go! It's hard but mine have to be chocolate brownies (see here and here), cheesecake, banoffee pie, trifle and apple strudel. Phew, it's tough, but there it is, my top 5 desserts. Now I've made most of these, some with varying degrees of success (aka not baked cheesecake: liquid cheesecake everywhere), but I'd never made a strudel up until a couple of weeks ago.

In truth, I've always seen it as that fiddly dessert that's just going to be an absolute flop at home and is much easier to buy from the frozen aisle in the supermarket. I always try to avoid processed foods but  I canny resist frozen strudel and, in the spirit of honesty, fries. That was till I made it, I can honestly say this is the best strudel I've ever eaten and yeah it is a little fiddly but what it takes in effort it makes up for in pure buttery delicious. My boyfriend's brother seemed to think so too and seems to have told everyone how good it was, as I got a text from his Dad the next day asking me if I could make it for him when I see them over Christmas.

I'll be honest, putting mulled wine in recipes has become a bit of an obsession of mine. We're talking strudel, mince pies, sausage rolls (I'm lying about the sausage rolls). I just always seem to have some lying about, in a glass, with a slice of orange, normally in my hand. I don't know how it gets there, but the next thing I know it's in whatever I'm making. This idea actually came from making mulled wine pears, which then turned into mulled wine pear frangipane (Mmmm almonds). Admittedly my frangipane was no way near as good as Dan's mums and that's why this recipe is for apple strudel (#frangipanefail, definitely a hashtag that'll catch on). 

15 December 2015

That's a Wrap! With a Little Help From Lindt

It's Christmaaaaaaassssssssssss!
Merry Christmas Everybody, Slade

I don't want to alarm anyone but there are only 10 sleeps till Christmas. Everyone to your Christmas panic stations! Speaking of panic, I need some help. Particularly from anyone that has also had to buy presents for one of my brothers, I'd really appreciate that because when I ask my brothers what they want for Christmas the answer is always a pony (cute if you're 10 but they're fully grown men). 

Aside from buying my bros' presents, I've got it all sorted. Seriously I'm never normally this organised, I'm a leave it till the last possible second, then do it slightly late kind of lady. But I've had so much going on this December, I've had to plan ahead (who knew doing things early meant less stress?). Last Saturday my plans fell through which in a way was a bit of a blessing because it meant I actually got to sit down watch lots of Christmas movies (why is Love Actually and the Holiday not on Netflix/Amazon Prime/Sky Movies?!), make some mince pies and do some much needed Christmas wrapping. 

To make my day in extra Christmassy, the lovely Mai at Lindt sent me a big box full of the best chocolatey goodies we're talking bears, santas, bears, some cheeky elves, bears, reindeer and did I mention a heck load of bears. Honestly when I got the box I was like what am I going to do with all these bears, after eating half of them, I had an epiphany. Use the bears (and a couple of cheeky santas) as my present accessories, because it's all well and good giving a normal wrapped present, but at Christmas you kinda need to push the boat out and put an accessory on it. That means bows, candy canes, poster paint, glitter (my all important Christmas accessory, look at my new boots!!!) and chocolate bears (who doesn't love chocolate? In fact don't tell me, I don't want to know). Don't hold back, free flow your accessorising, hell put some prajazzles on there (aka present vajazzles).

9 December 2015

Christmas Time, Mistletoe & Mulled Wine Recipe

Christmas time, mistletoe and wine
Children singing Christian rhyme
With logs on the fire and gifts on the tree
A time to rejoice in the good that we see
Mistletoe and Wine, Cliff Richard
Got to love a bit of Cliff's Christmas Song. It's Christmas! Almost, sort of, not really. I mean it's actually my birthday beforehand but you know when you turn 21 for the umpteenth time it's not as exciting as the first time. Anyway I'm excited for Christmas it is providing a welcome escape from the fact that I will officially no longer be in my early twenties next week. Ohhhhhhhh I hate getting older, I mean I'm excited for brunch with all my friends (including you dear reader) but Lord no I don't like it. The only way I'm going to get by is with copious amounts of bucks fizz and mulled wine, maybe chuck in some gin as well just for good measure.

Speaking of mulled wine, I've got this super easy, guaranteed idiot proof recipe for mulled vino to share with you. I can't guarantee it's easier than opening a bottle of mulled wine and heating it up in the microwave (genuinely you can buy it premulled and it's not always terrible) or sticking a teabag of spice in it, but it definitely is (in my humble opinion) more delicious.