Deluxe Afternoon Tea for Two – Mother’s Day Competition – CLOSED

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Please note this competition is now closed and a winner was drawn 16th March 2012.
 

Do you fancy a Deluxe Afternoon Tea for Two?

The prize includes…the opportunity to indulge in a touch of elegant British tradition and treat yourself and your mum (or a lucky guest!) to a delicious Deluxe Afternoon Tea for 2 at one of many charming venues located around the UK. The specific menu at each location may vary but your Afternoon Tea will include tea, coffee, sandwiches, scones and a delicious selection of cakes.
 

The locations available include over 50 locations UK wide

In the Midlands: Hereford and Worcester, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire. In the South East: Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, London, Guernsey, Hampshire, Surrey, West Sussex. In the South West: Gloucestershire. In the North: Cheshire, Cumbria, Manchester, Lancashire, North Yorkshire, Northumberland, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Wirral, Carlisle. In Scotland: Argyll, Kinross, Dumfries, Isle of Mull, Highlands, Oban, Perthshire, Ross-shire, LothianWales: Ruthin, Gwynedd.
 

How to enter:

Leave a comment below answering the following question: What’s the best or worst present you’ve ever received?
Competition closes at 3pm on Friday 16th March 2012.
 

Terms and Conditions:

A winner will be chosen from all eligible entries at random using random.org.
One entry per person only.
Open to the UK only.
The winner will be sent a Wish.co.uk voucher for the Afternoon Tea and will be required to phone to book a convenient time to redeem the prize.
 
Good Luck!!
 

Thirty before 30: Update

 
It’s been a while since I started 30 before 30 and I’ve recently been asked how it’s going so I thought I’d write a quick update.
 
It’s fair to say I haven’t achieved anything from the list in full yet but I have at least started the following:
 
*Learn how to make cocktails – I’ve got a couple of cocktail recipe books and I’m being sent some very cool cocktail equipment from Vacu Vin so after that I’ll be set to go!
*Write a book – Actually I have three on the go at the moment! I still have my NaNoWriMo novel that I’m working on, plus I have two ‘lifestyle’ books started. Now I just need to make a bit more progress…
*Be vegetarian for a month – I have decided to do this in May and have already planned most of the recipes I will be trying out. Far too organised…
*Make an item of clothing – I’m going to keep this one under wraps for a little while longer but I know what I’m making and I’m currently sourcing the right fabric :)
*Watch all of the Star Wars films – Yesterday I watched The Phantom Menace (and dare I say, enjoyed it :S) and I’ve already got Attack of the Clones on DVD ready to watch next. Controversially I’m watching them numerically in order rather than chronologically.
*Finish all the books on my bookshelf – Last week I took a week off from reading but I’m doing well on this front and have read 3 books already. I’m trying to get into a routine of reading every night for around 45mins.
*Restore something vintage – I struggled to find something to begin with and had my heart set on a fabric screen that I wanted to re-cover but it was so big I would have nowhere to put it :( I also thought about clothing, furniture and jewellery boxes before I found two piece of jewellery that needed some work; a pin from the 1930′s and a ring from the 1960′s. Both are quite dark and need stones replacing and the pin needs the clasp replacing so I may turn it into a hair barrette. Currently I’m sourcing some stones and hope to have this one ticked off fairly soon!
 
So that’s my update for now. How are you getting on with your goals for 2012? Are you still keeping up with your new years resolutions?
 

Valentine’s Baking – Triple Chocolate Fudge Cookies

Valentines heart triple chocolate fudge cookies recipe

 
At the end of last month I signed up to take part in a competition over on bakingmad.com and on Feb 1st found out I was one of the lucky 15 bloggers who had been shortlisted to take part. Initially I was sent a baking hamper containing 10 items from Silver Spoon and Nielsen-Massey and was asked to make something for Valentine’s day that I myself, would like to receive. The ingredients were: Silver Spoon Mini Fudge Chunks, Milk Chocolate Cake Covering, Vanilla Paste, Lemon Icing Sugar, Easy Melt Milk and White Chocolate, White Chocolate letters and numbers, White Chocolate Stars, Jelly Dots and Nielsen-Massey Almond Extract.
 
decorated icing valentines cookies
 
The rules were to use at least three of the ingredients we were sent and to make whatever we wanted. It was at this point my mind went blank. There was too much choice! After a long brainstorm I decided to use my favourite ingredients – chocolate and fudge – to create 12 chunky cookies (because I love the flavour and 12 because it was relevant for Valentine’s). I then decided to decorate them using Valentine’s colours (because I like attention to detail and things which are visually gratifying!) I also made some chocolates (first time I’d ever done this!) and chocolate dipped strawberries to carry on the ‘romantic’ theme and I’m really pleased with the results of both :)
 
Here’s how to make:

Liz’s Triple Chocolate Fudge Cookies (my own special recipe created especially for Valentine’s day!)

Ingredients:
175g unsalted butter, room temperature
100g caster sugar
50g light brown sugar
2 egg yolks (medium)
25g ground rice
1/2tsp almond extract (Nielsen-Massey)
25g dark chocolate, chopped
50g white chocolate, chopped (Silver Spoon)
75g milk chocolate cake covering, chopped (Silver Spoon)
75g mini fudge chunks (Silver Spoon)
200g self raising flour
splash of milk
 
To Decorate:
Regalice in assorted colours
Assortment of chocolate and coloured sprinkles (Including: Silver Spoon white chocolate letters, Silver Spoon white chocolate stars)
Icing sugar
 
triple chocolate fudge cookie preparation dough
 
Preheat the oven to 160c/Gas Mark 3 and line two baking sheets.
Cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
Add the egg yolks and almond extract.
Now stir in the ground rice, chocolate, fudge and lastly the flour until combined. (I found it helps to get your hands in at this point – add a splash of milk if the dough seems a little dry).
Set aside the dough, cover with cling film and chill for 20-30 minutes.
Place the dough between two sheets of cling film and roll out to about 1/8th inch thick. Cut out 12 heart shapes using a knife or cutter (these do not have to be a neat as the mix will spread – it’s just a guide for size).
 
triple chocolate cookie dough rolled out
 
Bake the cookies for 15-18 minutes until light golden brown. Quickly use the cutter to re-shape the cookies into hearts.
 
triple chocolate cookies valentines hearts
 
Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Eat the offcuts (chef’s perk!)
 
triple chocolate fudge cookie hearts ready for decorating
 
close up valentines cookies decorated iced
 
When the cookies are cool, decorate using icing and sprinkles of your choice. Here I used pink and red regal ice, melted chocolate and various sprinkles to create these effects.
 
decorated valentine's cookies
 
For the chocolates: I melted milk and dark chocolate buttons to create chocolates, adding some cocoa butter to create a softer and smoother consistency. I used strawberry shaped moulds for the dark chocolates and dessert cup moulds for the milk chocolates and filled them with dark chocolate ganache (chocolate and cream). Add in a glass of champagne and I would definitely be a happy girly on Valentine’s Day if I received these!
 
dark and milk chocolate strawberries filled with ganache
 

What would be your perfect Valentine’s Day treat?