Monday, April 27, 2009

fantastic flapjacks

these chocolate chip and raisin flapjacks make a great snack with coffee and are a perfect balance between oaty goodness and buttery, syrupy wickedness to make them very popular in lunchboxes.


125g butter + a little extra for greasing
125g golden caster sugar
90g golden syrup
210g porridge oats
25g toated sliced almonds
50g dark chocolate chips
25g raisins


1. heat oven to 180c and butter the lower half of a 8" square cake tin
2. in a pan melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup over a medium heat, stirring continuously. take off the heat and add the oats, almonds, chocolate and raisins.
3. spoon the mixture into the tin and level off. bake for about 25 minutes until the edges are golden brown. remove from the oven, and while still warm, mark into 16 pieces.
4. leave to cool and break along premarked lines. can be stored for several days in an airtight container

Sunday, April 26, 2009


we have just returned from two beautiful, sunny days in paris. the weather meant that it was idyllic just wandering through the gorgeous parisian parks, riding on carousels and eating icecream.

the girls had a great time trying out their few well rehearsed french phrases. we managed to hang all our gear on the handles of iris's pushchair - maybe too much gear as it lost a wheel near the sacre couer and is still soldiering on, thanks only to the truly sticky french cellotape.

the food in general was underwhelming. we still had that ingrained understanding that the standard of french food would be pretty high wherever we chose to eat. it wasn't. esme's real hamburger was the only savoury food that caused any excitement.
pastries and cakes were a different matter. i wandered the streets with iris in the early morning of my birthday and felt it was the perfect excuse to gather freshly made pain au chocolat, friands and chocolates ( including easter eggs still shamelessly looking pretty on shelves!)

later in the day we ate a selection of equisite miniature birthday cakes in the jardin de luxembourg. layer after layer of chocolate and strawberry in as many ways as you could dream of...look out for more recipes. i have been inspired!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

love aprons, love clodagh

clodagh mckenna has always been very generous about shouting out her love of cocoa bean chocolates. whenever she gets the opportunity on radio, tv, print or in person, she tells people our story and apparently even hands out our bars to filming crews.

we first met at selfridges in manchester late in 2004. emily and i were doing a tempering demonstration in our early days and felt a bit clumsy in front of the crowds after a sleepless night on a freight ferry and a hair-raising drive in our new, very big cocoa bean van. in contrast, clodagh was cheerful, bright eyed and accomplished! she was also friendly and encouraging and inspired by her presence, we did manage to produce a batch of beautifully shiny orange zest chocolate bars for the baying crowds!

now clodagh has some super stylish aprons that are delightful, frivolous and great for when getting changed into a fancy frock is the last thing on your list.

the website also has a good list of farmers markets - even more wonderful now spring is in the air!

chocolate on the southbank

spring sunshine, music from the carousel and the rich aroma of cocoa made for a lively and inspirational start to this sunday morning. the first outdoor chocolate festival at the southbank centre was a bustling market of everything chocolate from cocoa butter to mexican chilli.

over the weekend there was an impressive range of talks and demonstrations from big names in chocolate including william curley, uk chocolatier in 2007, 2008 and 2009 (my claim to fame is watching italy win the world cup with william curley in his more obscure days, in a small bar just outside turin!)

outdoor chocolate festivals and markets still fill me with that slight edge of stallholder panic - one minute the chocolate is in danger of melting, the next a dark cloud hovers and the threat of getting wet takes over; the constant shift of chocolate to shade and shelter. today, on the customer side of the stalls, i could just taste and enjoy! and the mexican chilli with dark chocolate was excellent. look out for a recipe in the near future...