Chocolate Concrete Recipe using Food Thoughts Finest Organic Cocoa

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I was over the moon to recently be sent some Finest Organic Cocoa from Food Thoughts. I get through A LOT of cocoa in my house… chocolate cake, brownies, cookies, and did I mention chocolate cake? If I’m honest, I have never really thought about the cocoa I usually buy. Until now, that is!

I’ve heard people talk about “Dutch processed” cocoa but wasn’t really sure what that was. I’ve now discovered that it means the cocoa has been washed in a potassium carbonate solution which reduces the cocoa’s natural acidity. A lot of people say this cocoa tastes smoother. Personally I prefer the more natural taste of chocolate, and so this Food Thoughts one is perfect. It is 100% pure natural cocoa powder, unsweetened and gluten-free. Just as nature intended. Heaven!

I wanted to try it in a recipe which relies on a very chocolatey flavour, so it had to be chocolate concrete (or chocolate crunch, depending on where you live). This was easily my favourite school dinner pudding, and remains a firm favourite family pudding today. We used to have it at school served with pink custard, which I’ve since found out was actually hot pink blancmange. Who knew? A lot of people have told me that pink custard is wrong… it has to be green mint custard. Again, it seems that it depends on where you live as to how it was served. I’ll stick with the pink though! I only found out how to make chocolate concrete a few years ago, when a lovely retired dinner lady gave me the recipe. I’m eternally grateful! I have made this recipe with both Dutch processed, and with this yummy Food Thoughts natural cocoa powder. The difference in colour hit me first. Dutch processed cocoa is a lot darker than natural, where natural is a much redder shade of brown. The main picture is using Food Thoughts cocoa. The next picture uses Dutch processed:

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I prefer the natural cocoa colour. Tastewise, I again prefer the natural cocoa. For me it tastes more chocolatey and indulgent.

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CHOCOLATE CONCRETE

155g unsalted butter, melted

1 egg, beaten

30g cocoa powder

225g self-raising flour

170g granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling on top

  • Preheat oven to 160C. Grease a 12 x 7 inch tin with butter.
  • Mix the sugar and melted butter together, then add the flour and cocoa powder. Mix well until you have a stiff consistency and it is all well combined. Gently mix in the beaten egg.
  • Transfer the mixture to the greased tin, press down using the back of a metal spoon and flatten the mixture firmly into the tin, making sure you press the corners down well too.
  • Dip your fingers into cold water and sprinkle lightly on top of the mixture. Bake in the top half of the oven for 45 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and sprinkle with a little bit of granulated sugar. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then cut into pieces of desired size, and cool on wire racks. This will make it harden too.
  • Serve on its own or with any flavour of custard to be transported back to your childhood school dinnertimes.

If you want to try Food Thoughts Cocoa for yourself, it is only available in Sainsburys at the moment, but they will be expanding it to more supermarkets in the future. Enjoy!

I was sent this cocoa free of charge to sample and bake with. All views are my own though as honesty is always the best policy.

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Fat-Free Tea Loaf using Williamson Ginger Grove Tea

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I was lucky enough to be sent some Williamson Ginger Grove Tea as part of August’s delicious Degustabox (see last blog post for my review). As soon as I tried a cup of it I knew it would be perfect for using in a tea loaf recipe. This is a fat-free recipe and you can also choose whether you want it sugar-free or almost sugar-free. I have a very sweet tooth so included a sprinkling of sugar on the top of mine. This gives it a lovely crunch as well as a little extra sweetness. The fruit provides the main sweetness.

You can use whichever dried fruit you prefer. I used a mix of sultanas, raisins and glacé cherries, but you can add apricots, currants, cranberries… anything that takes your fancy.The key is to let the fruit soak in the tea for a very long time, preferably overnight. This makes the fruit swell up and makes the loaf lovely and moist with very juicy fruit in each bite. It is a very simple recipe to make, so I hope you enjoy it.

FAT FREE TEA LOAF

300ml black tea, made using 2 teabags (leave teabags in)

270g dried fruit of your choice

320g self raising flour

1 large egg, beaten

demerara sugar to sprinkle on top, optional

  • Allow the tea to brew for 10 minutes so the ginger flavour really comes through. Keeping the teabags in the tea, pour over the dried fruit. Mix briefly, then leave until cool. When the tea is cold, cover the bowl with clingfilm or a plate. Leave for at least 10 hours, but preferably overnight.
  • After this time, preheat the oven to 170C. Lightly grease and line your loaf tin. Remove the teabags from the fruit mix.
  • Sieve the flour into a bowl and then pour the fruit and tea mixture on top. Mix until just combined, then add the beaten egg. Mix again, then pour into the prepared loaf tin.
  • Sprinkle the top with a spoon or two of demerara sugar if desired.
  • Bake in the centre of the oven for 50 minutes, or until risen, golden, and cooked through. Leave in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire cooling rack.

This is delicious warm with butter spread on it. You can eat that guilt-free as there’s no butter in the bake! Bonus! It is also scrumptious cold on its own, or with butter, or with jam. Enjoy!

Degustabox – A Box of Foodie Delights – August 2015 Box review

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I was recently lucky enough to be approached by the lovely people at Degustabox and asked if I would like to receive their product so that I could tell you all about it. I replied that I would love to and I’m so glad I did! I had never heard of them before this, and I’ve been missing out on a wonderful treat!

For those of you who, like me until now, have not had the pleasure of discovering it, Degustabox is a monthly subscription surprise box of food and drink products. You don’t know what you are getting beforehand, so it is ridiculously exciting to open the box and see what goodies you have. Most of the products are new or limited edition from well known brands so you get a lot of things you might not normally buy in the shops. It costs £12.99 per month and that includes delivery, which I was happy to see comes with DPD as I find them the most reliable courier company! The products you receive retail at around double the price of the subscription so it is fantastic value for money.

On the day of delivery I had a text from DPD with a 2 hour time slot for my parcel to arrive, which meant I could get on with my day and not have to wait in for hours on end. I don’t know who was more excited when it arrived, me or my son Luke! I think it was equal. Luke asked if we could take it in turns reaching our hand in to the box and taking out an item, so that’s what we did. It seemed to go on forever! We were very excited to receive 20 products, most of which were new to us.

Here are the yummy treats we had in this box:

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  • FRU SNAX – I have never seen these before but I will definitely be keeping an eye out for them from now on. They are freeze dried pieces of fruit and yoghurt. We had peach slices with vanilla yoghurt melts, and at only 47 calories for the whole packet they are a perfect snack for everyone. They taste absolutely divine! Definitely one to look for again! 10/10
  • BRIOCHE PASQUIER Baked Bread Bites – Another new product for us. These are baked cubes of bread with a delicious bacon flavour. These only contained 84 calories so another good snack for everyone. These were Luke’s favourites. He ate them straight out of the packet. I sprinkled some over a green leafy salad and they were so moreish! They would also be great used as croutons in a soup. Very yummy and very versatile. 10/10
  • THE PRIMAL PANTRY – These were my DB’s Discoveries items. (This is a new initiative Degustabox have recently started where they introduce new and exciting products to the subscriber). There were 2 bars to try… Hazelnut and Cocoa, and Apple and Pecan. Primal Pantry bars are raw, coldpressed and handmade here in the UK, free from any junk ingredients, and are naturally gluten and dairy free. They are ideal for anyone following a Paleo diet. These were both really tasty and I felt like I was eating something healthy so had no guilt. Bonus! They were also very filling. The RRP for these is £1.49 each. 9/10

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  • WALKERS – Luke’s face lit up when he saw these packets of shortbread and biscuits. He loves shortbread so this was heaven for him! He immediately tore into the Pure Butter Shortbread and would have carried on with the others if I had let him! We also had Chocolate Chip Shortbread, Oat and Honey biscuits, and Fruit and Lemon biscuits. The Oat and Honey were my favourites, but all were delicious. I don’t know why but shortbread always makes me think of cosy days snuggled around a fire so seeing these gave me a lovely warm glow. RRP £2. 10/10

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  • BARILLA – As soon as I saw the penne pasta and the Arrabbiata sauce I knew these would be perfect together. I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of ready made sauces but I can understand their appeal for quickness and convenience. However, this tomato and chilli sauce was a lot nicer than I was expecting. I fried some minced beef and onion, drained the fat away, then added this sauce. I also added a touch of basil and mixed it in with the pasta which I cooked following the instructions on the box. It was really tasty! And it packs a punch with the chilli! I was tempted to add some chilli flakes while cooking it, but I’m so glad I didn’t. There was enough in the sauce already. A tasty surprise. The sauce has no added preservatives and was really thick and flavoursome. It is £1.50 and the pasta is £2. 9/10

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  • RYVITA CRISPBREAD – There were 2 delicious packs to try: Sesame, and Cracked Black Pepper. I love crispbreads so was happy to see these. I tried them with lots of different toppings… cream cheese and ham, homemade plum jam and Cheddar cheese, Coronation chicken, tuna salad. All were yummy, but my favourite of the 2 packs was the sesame. The slight nuttiness added something extra and made them even more enjoyable. RRP £2.88. 10/10

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  • BAHLSEN – My son’s face lit up when he saw chocolate biscuits. (OK so did mine but don’t tell anyone). The Pick Up! biscuits were my favourites but Luke didn’t like them. He doesn’t like dark chocolate, and these are made from a thick layer of dark chocolate sandwiched between 2 lovely crispy biscuits. One of these made a scrumptious mid morning snack with a cuppa. The other biscuits were Choco Leibniz White biscuits – a cocoa biscuit with a thick white chocolate coating on one side. These were gorgeous! Sadly they didn’t last long as they were very moreish and were gobbled up in no time. RRP £3.48. 10/10

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  • SCHECKTERS – Organic energy drink. I don’t tend to like energy drinks as I find they taste very artificial and leave an unpleasant aftertaste, but this was an exception. It is the only 100% organic, natural and Informed Sport approved energy drink available in the UK. It contains sparkling spring water, agave nectar and organic pomegranate, elderberry and lemon juice, combined with a blend of raw green coffee beans, green tea, guarana and ginseng. It contains no fat, no salt, no taurine and no artificial ingredients, and has 77 calories per 250ml serving. It had a lovely light fruity taste and really did make me feel refreshed and revitalised. RRP £1.45. 9/10
  • WILLIAMSON TEA – I had the Ginger Grove tea which comes in lovely little nylon teabags. It is a pesticide free black tea from Kenya, infused with ginger. You can see big pieces of ginger combined with the tea and as soon as you open the box the beautiful aroma of ginger hits you. It tastes gorgeous, really warming and perfect for a cold day. Apart from drinking it, I also made a fat-free tea loaf using it. That was delicious. The recipe will be on my next blog post. 10/10
  • LIFE TONICS – I had the Dalandan Orange flavour which was fantastic. It is a blend of coconut water, natural fruit extracts, 5 vitamins and 4 minerals. It has no refined sugar or artificial sweeteners. I found it to be very refreshing and I felt perfectly hydrated after drinking it. I will definitely look out for the other flavours in the range – Elderberry and Juniper, and Coconut and Mint. Coconut products seem to be all the rage at the moment, and with great tasting drinks like this I can see why. RRP £1.49. 10/10

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  • DR. OETKER –  Dr Oetker has recently brought out these simple mug cakes mixes. I feel terrible for saying this but I have been asked for an honest review so forgive me Dr Oetker when I confess to hating these. I really don’t like cake mixes as to me, nothing can ever beat a scrumptious homemade cake. I like to see products which encourage people to bake or cook from scratch, as I believe it is a worthy and important life skill. Some of my most precious moments with my son have been while we have been baking together, and he will be able to pass the knowledge on to his children one day. As I was sent them to try though, I did try each one. You simply add milk and less than 2 minutes later…. DING! There’s a “cake”. I tried all 3 flavours, Chocolate Chip, Rich Chocolate, and Lemon. I didn’t like the texture and I thought they tasted very artificial. Luke tried them too and said the same. We didn’t manage to eat a whole one in any flavour. So sorry Dr Oetker. I know a lot of people have given them rave reviews, but when I spend a lot of time baking, these just didn’t compare. Sometimes on a cold Winter’s night we really fancy a steaming hot sponge with some custard, and maybe for some people these will be perfect for that. I often in the Winter want the same, but it is so easy to make a sponge in the microwave if you are short of time, and as it contains real butter and eggs it tastes sooooo much better. Simply cream together 50g of butter and 50g of caster sugar. Add 1 beaten egg and 2 tbsps of milk. Sift in 50g of self raising flour and fold in until combined. Put 3 tbsps of your favourite jam or syrup in to a microwaveable bowl and pour the cake batter on top. Cover with clingfilm or a microwaveable plate. Heat on full power for 3 to 3.5 minutes and you have a perfect, easy hot sponge pudding which is delicious served with custard. RRP of mug cakes £1.37 each. 1/10 (sorry)!

My overall verdict of Degustabox is 10/10. It gives you so many products worth a lot more than the monthly cost, and it is a perfect way to discover brands and products you might not have heard of before. £12.99 including delivery is an amazing price already, but the very kind people there have given me a code to share with you which brings the price down even further to just £9.99 including delivery for your first box!

If you would like to try it for yourself and treat yourself to a lovely box of surprises, click here and enter the code 70IF1 at checkout for your £3 discount. There is no commitment and you can cancel at any time (although I highly doubt you will want to). I’m sure you’ll love it!!!

I was sent the Degustabox free to review on my blog and all views expressed are my own. I believe in honesty in all things, and reviews are no exception. No offence intended if I’m not keen on a product; it is just more beneficial for the reader to see honest reviews 🙂