Degustabox Review…. Healthy New Year Everyone!!

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The thoughtful people at Degustabox decided that as we had all very likely over-indulged at Christmas, and had very likely started the New Year with resolutions to eat healthier, they would help us out by making December’s box a healthy one. The other very thoughtful thing they did was to send December’s box in January to make sure there were no delayed deliveries due to Christmas post demands. It’s little things like that that make them extra special in my opinion. It also means there are 2 boxes in January…. extra fabness!

December’s box had some very yummy surprises and lots of brands I had never heard of, a couple of which I will definitely be looking out for! It also introduced me to be a very scrumptious drink that will be enjoyed on many more occasions. So here’s what was in the box:

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  • NOTHING BUT… This was my partner Del’s favourite product in this box, and very high up on my list of favourites too! There are a lot of brands who produce freeze-dried fruit now, but this was different to any of the others I’ve tried. I received 2 packs… Pineapple and Grape, and Strawberry and Banana. The flavours were very strong which I loved! I’ve noticed with some freeze-dried fruit that the flavours aren’t always as pronounced as you would expect. Once I couldn’t even tell what fruit it was! But this brand is different. The taste is amazing, just like eating the fruit fresh from the fruit bowl. The texture is appealing, and did I mention the taste? Sadly for me, Del polished both packs of these off in one sitting, he loved them so much. I was just glad I had tried a piece of each fruit while I was taking the photo! They are perfect for lunchboxes or snacks, with less than 80 calories per pack, and absolutely nothing added to them. Pure fruit, just freeze-dried. As an added bonus one pack equals one of your 5 a day. They are great for vegans, vegetarians, and are gluten-free. They are available in 3 fruit packs and 3 vegetable ones. Choose from Pineapple and Grape, Strawberry and Banana, Apple and Fig, Mange Tout and Red Pepper, Sliced Beetroot and Parsnip, and Pea and Sweetcorn. The RRP is £1.69 per pack.

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  • BARILLA… I have received Barilla products in a previous Degustabox and loved them so was happy to see these. I received Wholewheat Fusilli and their Mediterranean Vegetables sauce. Fusilli is my son Luke’s favourite form of pasta. He swears it tastes better than any other, so I knew he would enjoy this! I was right. I served it with a homemade bolognese sauce and it made a delicious family meal. I had never tried the Mediterranean Vegetable sauce before but really enjoyed it! I used half of the jar as a pasta sauce and half for another recipe which stupidly I didn’t take a photo of! It was a sort of puff pastry pizza. Take a sheet of puff pastry, score around the edges about an inch inside, then smear the sauce all over the rectangle inside the score lines. Add your choice of vegetables chopped up and evenly distributed on top of the sauce, sprinkle some cheese on top, brush beaten egg over the exposed edges of pastry and bake until lovely and golden and the edges have risen well. Delicious! I just added peppers and red onion and the cheese and it was so good. Perfect for a quick lunch with some salad. The sauce contains tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines and peppers and is very tasty. I will definitely buy this in the future! The RRP for the sauce is £2 and for the fusilli it is £1.50. Excellent value!

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  • HIP POPS… I received 2 packets of this healthy snack, Salt and Vinegar, and Salt and Black Pepper. I loved these!!! They are a soya and potato snack with around half the fat of normal potato crisps. They are high in fibre, low in saturates, and a good source of protein. You can also get them in Barbecue, Cheese and Onion, Sweet Chilli, and Prawn Cocktail flavours. They are very crunchy and very moreish! The RRP is £1 per pack. I will definitely be looking out for these again!

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  • BETAVIVO… I received 2 packets of these oaty heart cereals, but have to admit I had never heard of them before this. They are made from oat bran, cornmeal and fructose and are clinically proven to reduce cholesterol levels and blood glucose levels. One daily serving of this product gives you the necessary 3g of beta-glucan from oats needed to reduce cholesterol and to reduce the amount of blood glucose your body produces. I wasn’t really sure how to eat these so tried one pack with milk for breakfast. I found them very bland like this if I’m honest. The next day I ate them with yoghurt, blueberries and raspberries and really enjoyed them. They are very crunchy which I liked. The RRP is £1 per pack and is available from Holland and Barrett.

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  • THE FABULOUS BAKERS… I received a box of 4 individually wrapped Mango and Pineapple Bars. These are delicious tropical bars made with all natural ingredients. They contain no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and are high in fibre. They contain real fruit (mango, pineapple, papaya) mixed with oats and coconut. What’s not to like?? There is wheat flour in them too so no good for people on gluten-free diets, but they are good for vegetarians. I ate these for mid-morning snacks and found them to be very filling and energy-providing. Perfect if you are on the go and need something quick to grab. The RRP is £1.80 per pack of 4.

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  • KOKO… This is a dairy-free alternative to cow’s milk made from freshly pressed coconut milk. It is 100% allergen-free and has 0% cholesterol, making it perfect for vegans, vegetarians, coeliacs, and anyone with lactose, soya or gluten intolerance. Strangely I couldn’t really taste much difference at all between this milk and cow’s milk, so used it in the same way as I use all milk… on cereal, in cups of tea and coffee and in baking. I really enjoyed it and will buy it in the future. The RRP is £1.79, although I have seen it recently a lot cheaper in Tesco.

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  • NUVA… Many people, me included, drink much less water than we should, so I was happy to see 2 bottles of water in the box. The main reason I don’t drink as much as I should is that I find water just so… boring. I love flavoured water but was recently surprised to discover that many of them contain quite a bit of sugar/sweetener and aren’t quite as healthy as you would expect. Nuva is the first natural spring water which uses natural flavours and extracts with no sugar, sweeteners or preservatives. I received Ginger and Lemon, and Cucumber and Mint varieties, but you can also get Melon and Jasmine. I really enjoyed the ones I tried, especially the ginger one, and I know I would love the melon one! It was good to know it had no sugar, no calories, and nothing at all artificial. Nuva won the Global Bottled Water Award for Best Flavoured Water in 2015, and was a winner in my eyes too. I will be buying these in the future. The RRP is £1.49 per bottle.

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  • COMPETE… I received a pack of 2 lemon flavour energy bites. I was sent some of these in a previous box but that time they had been the mocha variety, which I had enjoyed. These energy bites are low-calorie but high-caffeine chocolates which give you an instant boost of energy. One gives you a moderate boost, or you can have 2 for a real energy surge. They help to improve your alertness, endurance and energy, and are recommended to take 5 minutes before exercise, studying, driving or partying. One chocolate bite has the same amount of caffeine as 1 large premium coffee. I don’t like having to be negative but I believe in being honest in reviews, so sorry Compete but I didn’t find this flavour at all pleasant. The mocha had been great and tasted good. This lemon one left a nasty aftertaste which I was keen to get rid of. I’m sure some people would have enjoyed them. I’ll stick to the mocha ones when I need a boost though. The RRP is £1.99 for a pack of 2 bites.

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  • CRABBIE’S… I received their Alcoholic Light Ginger Beer. I love Crabbie’s Ginger Beers so already knew I would love this. It isn’t as strong tasting and fiery as their normal ginger beer, which makes it a perfect mixer drink and I found it lovely and refreshing. However Degustabox also sent a miniature bottle of RED SQUARE TOFFEE VODKA, with a recipe for Crabbie’s Toffee Mule cocktail. I love toffee vodka but had never tried it in a cocktail, and it would have been rude not to use their suggestion, wouldn’t it? So I dutifully filled a tall glass with ice, poured a measure of Red Square Toffee over the ice then topped up with the Crabbie’s Light Ginger Beer. Just for research purposes of course. All I can say is WOW! That was a very refreshing tasty drink and I will enjoy this cocktail again! The RRP for the Crabbie’s Light is £1.49, and the Red Square Toffee RRP is £1.99 for a miniature bottle.

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  • DRINK ME CHAI… Degustabox very kindly included a free gift in this box, a chai latte skinny blend sample sachet. It is gently spiced with clove for a delicious drink, and the fact it is a skinny blend means you can enjoy it guilt-free. All you do is add water so it is quick and easy to make but so yummy. It has 62 calories per cup and 30% less fat and sugar than the normal blend. It does say on the back though that if you want it extra creamy you can make it with half water and half hot frothy milk, which would obviously push the fat content up a bit. There are a range of Drink Me Chai drinks and this is the newest one. The others are Spiced Chai Latte, Chocolate Chai Latte, Green Tea Chai Latte, Mango Chai Latte, Peppermint Chai Latte, and Vanilla Chai Latte. The RRP is £2.50 for a tub.

Degustabox is a monthly subscription box of food and drink products as you know by now. It costs just £12.99 a month including delivery with DPD couriers. The value of the products in the box is always almost double the cost of the subscription, sometimes even more!

If you would like to try a box for yourself, I am pleased to tell you that if you click HERE and enter the code BLDEG15 at checkout you will get a whopping £6 off your first box! That would mean you can try a box worth around £23 for the bargain price of £6.99!!! Well worth trying. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

 

DISCLAIMER: Degustabox sent me the box to review honestly, and all views and opinions stated are my own. I believe in honesty in all reviews and will never give an opinion if I don’t fully believe it. 

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The Only Lemon Drizzle Cake Recipe You Will Ever Need… Cupcakes or Loaf

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Everybody loves a lemon drizzle cake. No other cake is as refreshing as a tangy lemon drizzle. My partner Del particularly loves it, as does his Mum. I’ve tried lots of different recipes to find the perfect one, and can honestly say no other comes close to Nigella Lawson’s recipe from her ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’ book. I made some for Del’s mum a few years ago and she said they were so good she now can’t buy any other lemon cakes from anywhere. They are always guaranteed to put a smile on Del’s face and they are the cake that I am asked to make most of all. One lady told me that she doesn’t normally like lemon cake but she loves these. So what makes Nigella’s recipe so special? Regardless of whether you make it as cupcakes or as a loaf, the cake is so light and fluffy, deliciously tangy but sweet, and completely irresistible.

I recently made this recipe in the Nordic Ware snowflake pan and was over the moon to see it listed as a Stunning Christmas Cake on THIS WEBSITE.

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Yesterday I made it in the Nordic Ware Citrus Loaf pan and a couple of people asked for the recipe, so I thought I would put it on here.

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I wish I had come up with this recipe. It is completely foolproof, very easy to make and turns out perfectly every time. All credit to Nigella for such an amazing recipe! The recipe is for a loaf cake but I love it for cupcakes too so will put instructions for both up. Same ingredients, just different baking times. It makes one loaf cake or 12 muffin-sized cupcakes.

LEMON DRIZZLE CAKE

FOR THE CAKE

125 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

175 g caster sugar

2 large eggs, beaten

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

175 g self raising flour, sifted

pinch of salt

4 tbsp milk

FOR THE SYRUP

juice of one and a half lemons

100 g icing sugar

FOR THE ICING GLAZE

juice of half a lemon

150 g icing sugar

  • Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a loaf tin, or put cupcake cases into a 12 hole muffin tray.
  • Cream together the butter and caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs and lemon zest and beat in well.
  • Gently fold in the flour and salt until all combined, then add milk. Fold in until smooth.
  • Pour batter into loaf tin, or spoon into cupcake cases. Bake in the middle of the oven for 40-45 minutes for a loaf cake, or 15-20 minutes for cupcakes, until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  • While the cake is in the oven, prepare the syrup. Put the juice and icing sugar into a small pan and heat gently until the icing sugar has dissolved.
  • As soon as the cake is out of the oven, puncture all over with a skewer or cocktail stick. Pour the syrup over the cake while it is still in the tin. If making cupcakes,spoon 3 or 4 tsps over each cake. Leave the cake in the tin until completely cool.
  • When cool, turn out on to a serving plate. To make the icing glaze, mix the juice and icing sugar until perfectly smooth and white. Drizzle over the cake. Leave to set, then serve and enjoy!

I like to put the icing into a disposable piping bag and snip off a tiny corner and then pipe the icing on. It is very runny but gives a lovely effect and tastes wonderful.

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If making cupcakes with this recipe, there will be a lot of the icing glaze left over unless you put a thick coating on top of each cake! I tend to make 2 batches of the cakes and use the rest of the icing up on the second batch.

If you are making this recipe in a bundt tin, pour a third of the syrup over the cake while it is still in the tin. This obviously means you are pouring it over the bottom but you want most over the top. Turn the cake out of the tin after 15 minutes, and gently spoon the remaining syrup over the top while the cake is still warm, letting it absorb before adding more.

A lot of blogs have this recipe and most say the same thing… perfect every time and you don’t need to change anything about it. I hope you like it as much as we all do!

Black Forest Hot Chocolate Bundt Cake

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I have 2 addictions in life… Nordic Ware bundt tins and the Costa Coffee Festive menu drinks, in particular the Black Forest Hot Chocolate. The Nordic Ware addiction is an all year long one, but sadly the Costa Coffee one is limited to one month a year when the Festive menu appears. Or at least it was! Tassimo coffee machines were selling ridiculously cheaply in the Black Friday sales online a few months ago so we bought one. As soon as my sister found out, she went online and bought me the exact syrups that Costa use in my favourite drink so I could make them at home too! (She bought me the rose one too as everyone knows I adore rose in all forms… flower, scent, and flavour). She even bought me the bottle pourer as well to make drizzling the cherry syrup easier!

Anyway I’m waffling. In case you’ve never tried one this is what the Black Forest Hot Chocolate looks like:

Picture courtesy of Costa

A delicious hot chocolate mixed with blackberry syrup, topped with slightly sweetened fresh cream, drizzled with a yummy cherry sauce and chocolate curls sprinkled on top to finish. Sheer indulgent heaven! I was making one at home and the idea came to me to make a cake version of it! I had the syrups so started planning. I decided to make it as a bundt and thought a flat-topped tin would be best so that I could pipe cream on top, so I made it in the Star shaped tin. Until now THIS has been my favourite bundt recipe that I have created, but I have to admit the Black Forest one has knocked it off top spot for me.

I was asked once why I use buttermilk in my bundts whereas other people use yoghurt. It is just personal preference. Both serve the same purpose but I always have buttermilk in the fridge. Buttermilk, like yoghurt, reacts with bicarbonate of soda, causing harmless carbon dioxide gas. This gas helps bakes to rise and makes them light and fluffy. I use it in scones all the time for that reason too. Enough science, here’s the recipe. It looks like a huge list of ingredients but most of it is store cupboard essentials.

BLACK FOREST HOT CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE

FOR THE CAKE:

250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

190 g golden caster sugar

190 g soft light brown sugar

340 g plain flour

half level tsp bicarbonate of soda

half level tsp salt

1 level tsp baking powder

25 g cocoa powder

4 large eggs, beaten

200 ml buttermilk

200 g milk chocolate (or a combination of dark and milk chocolate), broken into pieces

8 tbsp (120 ml) Monin blackberry syrup

FOR THE DECORATION:

250 ml fresh double cream

1 level tbsp icing sugar

Monin Cherry syrup

extra chocolate

  • Grease a 10-12 cup bundt tin well with Cake Release, or melted butter and flour. (Or you could try this in normal cake tins). Preheat the oven to 170C.
  • In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugars until pale and fluffy.
  • Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, and leave until almost completely melted, stirring once or twice. Remove from the heat and stir until totally smooth. Leave to cool slightly.
  • In another bowl, sieve together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa). I like to quickly mix with a spoon after sieving cocoa and flour together to make sure it is thoroughly combined and there are no white powders left.
  • In a large jug mix the wet ingredients together (beaten eggs, buttermilk, melted chocolate and blackberry syrup).
  • Add half of the wet ingredient mixture to the butter and sugar and beat well until combined. Add half of the dry ingredient mixture and gently fold in with a large spoon or spatula. Fold in the last half of the wet ingredients, followed by the remaining dry ingredient mixture until completely combined. (This was the perfect amount of blackberry syrup flavour for me and tasted the same as how Costa serve it. However, taste a bit of the mixture and if you like it stronger add an extra tbsp of syrup now).
  • Pour into your prepared tin until no higher than three quarters full, then place in the centre of the oven and bake for around 50 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. (Don’t worry if the top has cracked, it will be on the bottom when served). Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  • When it is completely cool, place on to a serving plate.Whisk together the cream and icing sugar until it forms very soft peaks. (When you pipe cream it thickens rapidly in the piping bag so don’t over-whisk it now). Spoon into a piping bag and pipe on to the top of your bundt however you prefer. I just did simple rosettes. Nothing fancy. Pipe more around the bottom as well. (If your bundt tin design allows, pipe extra cream around the sides too).
  • Drizzle Monin cherry syrup all over the cream letting it come down the sides too. Use a potato peeler to make curls of chocolate (just “peel” down the side of a row of chocolate) and sprinkle them on top to finish. Or you can crumble a Flake on top.

And there you have the cake version of the famous drink. Obviously it is EXTREMELY calorific so probably best just to make it for special occasions!!! My Other Half ate 2 slices straight after each other, and said it tastes just like the drink. My son polished off a slice in record time too and said it was delicious. I put a picture of it on Twitter and have to admit I was overwhelmed by the response to it, so I hope you like it as much as we do.

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Obviously as there is fresh cream on top, this cake needs to be stored in the fridge. Remove it for a while before serving so the cream isn’t too cold. It is best eaten on the same day as cakes in fridges tend to go hard quickly. Or you could make the cake and only put the cream and decorations on individual slices when you serve them. That way you can keep the cake in an airtight container.

The best place to buy Monin syrups is from Next Day Coffee. You can find the blackberry syrup HERE and the cherry one HERE. If you want the bottle pourer for easier drizzling of the cherry one on top, that can be found HERE.

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I have contacted Costa and asked if they would mind me making cake versions of more of their best-loved drinks, so this one will be the first in a series. Let me know in the comments what your favourites ones are 🙂

A Festive Degustabox… Eat, Drink and Be Merry

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I was so excited when the festive Degustabox arrived in November. It contained so many yummy treats… chocolate, alcohol, glittery jelly, those all important Christmas pickles… the list goes on. Even the actual box itself was festive!

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In case you haven’t read past posts about them, Degustabox is a monthly subscription surprise food box which costs just £12.99 a month and that includes delivery! Bargain! The goodies you receive are actually worth around double the cost and are often things you might not have heard of or tried before. It has introduced me to quite a few products and brands I wasn’t aware of before, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. The price is fantastic, especially considering the amount and quality of treats, but as an added bonus they have very kindly said if you use the code BLDEG15 at checkout, you will receive a £6 discount on your first box! So that makes it just £6.99 INCLUDING delivery! Click HERE to go to their website so you can try it yourself.

Oops, you’ll need to know what types of goodies you can expect to receive! Well, here’s what came in the Festive November box:

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  • BOURNE & WALLIS:These are a British pickling company using vegetables sourced mainly from East Anglia. I received a jar of delicious pickled onions which was perfect as I always buy some anyway for Christmas. Can’t have a turkey sandwich without them! These ones were extremely flavoursome.  Sharp but sweet. Just as they should be. I will definitely look out for this company’s products in future. RRP is £1.40.
  • BRANSTON: We all know Branston for their famous pickle, but I had never tried this product before. I received Orchard Fruit Chutney. It is a spiced chutney made using apples, sultanas and dates and they recommend serving it with Stilton or pork. Well I had Cheddar and I had a ham so tried it with both of those. Amazing! Sweet with a bit of a kick. (Sounds like me!!!) I really enjoyed this. RRP is £1.49.

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  • RYVITA: There were 2 products from this well-known brand, neither of which I had tried before. The Green and Black Olive Crackers were nicer than I was expecting. There were 4 packs of 6 crackers in the box, so a lot of value! They are low in saturated fat, and each cracker contains just 24 calories, so great for a healthy snack. The serving suggestion on the pack is to try them with feta and sun-dried tomatoes. I had neither so tried them with cream cheese. A pleasant surprise. These have a RRP of £1.29.  The other product was Cheddar and Cracked Black Pepper Thins. I really really really liked these! In fact I liked them so much I was sad when I ate them all. They are perfect for dipping, and I had them with houmous, and with a relish. But mostly I ate them straight from the packet as they were so moreish! They leave your mouth tingling from the cracked pepper but that’s a good thing. They are a source of fibre, and have 25 calories per flatbread. Delicious! The RRP for these is £1.89.

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  • BUTTERKIST: There were 2 treats from this brand too. First was their Discoveries Salted Caramel Popcorn, which was very tasty. There was just the right amount of flavour and were very light. The other product was their Sweet and Salted Popcorn. This was delicious. This flavour can often be too salty for my liking but this was perfect. I didn’t get to eat much of these 2 treats though as my Other Half and my son tucked in and ate them before I had chance to blink!! The RRPs for these are £1.49 and 55p respectively.

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  • TEISSEIRE: I received 2 packs of Gourmet Drops, one Caramel and one Vanilla. These are naturally flavoured coffee syrups with no added sugar. We recently bought a Tassimo coffee machine, so tried these in hot chocolate and in coffee. You only need a tiny bit as the flavours are very strong, but we all loved them. I tried a couple of drops in buttercream for cupcakes too and it was yummy. I had never heard of these before so was really happy to be introduced to them. The RRP is £2.79 each.
  • TUCKEY’S: I received Proper Digestives. Tuckey’s believe that classic biscuits are not the same as they used to be, so their biscuits are inspired by the original recipes. No inverted or modified ingredients, just “proper” ones. The result is a biscuit which doesn’t taste as sweet as a well-known brand’s version but is still delicious. The box contains 4 stay fresh packs of 4 biscuits, so they keep well in a cupboard. These are perfect for dunking into a cuppa, or eating with cheese. Also perfect for cheesecake bases and rocky road style treats. One of the most versatile biscuits. The RRP is £1.80.

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  • JIM JAMS: I received Hazelnut Chocolate Spread, which I was very excited about! I love a certain well-known other chocolate spread brand so was curious to see how this compared, as this one is a no added sugar version. I did a taste test with a teaspoon of each for all 3 of us. We all preferred the Jim Jams spread! Even though there is far less sugar than the other brand, it still tastes sweet and full of flavour. To be honest, comparing the sugar amounts of both, I was absolutely shocked by how much is in the other brand. Jim Jams proves it is completely unnecessary! It is sweet and creamy and chocolatey and nutty all in one. Gorgeous! It is gluten-free and uses fat-reduced cocoa too. This was my favourite item this month, as I know I will use it in many many bakes in the future, and I won’t feel guilty eating it or giving it to my son. I just need to buy some more first!! My personal serving suggestion for this would be treat yourself to a luxurious Choc Dip (remember them from childhood?), grab some breadsticks, open the jar and have fun! I can only find this to buy online and in some garden centres, and the price seems to be around £3.99. Well worth every penny!
  • DIVINE: I received the 70% Dark Chocolate and Raspberries bar of chocolate. Divine by name and divine by nature! This was my very own treat just for me, as no one else in our house likes dark chocolate. It was so rich and just beautiful. Divine is a Fairtrade company which is 44% owned by the smallholder farmers in Ghana who supply the cocoa. I’ve read a lot of horrific articles lately about the detrimental impact that palm oil production is having on rainforests and especially orangutans. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge animal lover and hate to hear about any threats to habitats, wildlife etc. Why am I going on about that? Well Divine don’t use palm oil in any of their products, and that makes me happy as quite a few chocolate brands do. It is suitable for vegetarians and has a RRP of just £1.

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  • BELVITA: I received the Breakfast Red Berries Soft Bakes, and what a gorgeous start to the day these provided. There were 5 individually foil wrapped bakes in the pack, and you can also get them in Golden Grain, or Chocolate Chip varieties. I’m glad I had the berries ones as they were delicious. They are soft but chewy, and packed with goodness. They are made with 5 wholegrains, and are a good source of fibre, vitamin B6, folic acid, magnesium and iron. They have 191 calories per bake and make a perfect grab-and-go breakfast on a busy day. I will be buying these in the future. The RRP is £2.79.
  • NIM’S FRUIT CRISPS: I received the Pineapple and Mango variety. These were beautiful. They are different from freeze-dried fruit snacks, as these are pure fruit which has been just sliced and dried. They have a beautifully crispy texture and a very fruity flavour. There are many flavours including Apple and Strawberry, and Pear and Kiwi. These are ideal for children’s lunchboxes, and are high in fibre and vitamin C and count as 1 of your 5 a day. The RRP is 99p.

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  • HARTLEY’S: I received a black cherry jelly which was full of juicy fruity flavour as you would expect, and a strawberry glitter jelly! Yes you read that right, I did say glitter jelly. I was ridiculously excited to try that in particular as I had never seen it before and love anything glittery! I thought glittery jelly was too special to make in a normal bowl or jelly mould so decided to make it in one of my Nordic Ware pans, the snowflake one. This is a cast aluminium pan so had to be quickly dipped in warm water to release the jelly but the effect was so worth it! Look how pretty and sparkly this jelly looked…

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I already buy the different flavour jelly cubes and love them, and I will definitely buy the glitter jelly again. It is also available in raspberry flavour. These jellies have a RRP of £1.29 for both.

 

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  • REKORDERLIG: I received the Dry Apple Cider. Amazingly I haven’t tried this yet as I am saving it for this Nigella Lawson recipe and just haven’t had chance to make it yet. I shall very soon. It is a lovely light colour, and I’m looking forward to a sneaky little glass as there’ll be 80 ml spare. Perfect! The RRP is £1.49.
  • BAILEYS: The very lovely people at Degustabox gave us all a miniature bottle of Baileys as a little Christmas present, so I don’t know what the RRP is for this. I was over the moon to see it as I absolutely love Baileys! As a drink, poured over ice cream, mixed with buttercream, I’m really not fussy. I just love it! This size bottle is perfect for my Chocolate and Baileys Mousse recipe as you only need a few spoonfuls for this. Or just pour over ice, and enjoy! Thank you for the treat Degustabox. I loved it!

The combined RRP total for all these products was over £27 and that’s not including the Baileys. To think you can have them for just £12.99 is brilliant, but then amazing when you take into account the £6 discount code! You could have a similar box for just £6.99 including delivery. Don’t forget to use code BLDEG15 at checkout HERE.

 

DISCLAIMER – I received this box for free to review but all views are my own honest opinions and not influenced by anyone else. I don’t believe in giving dishonest opinions as they are not helpful to anyone and completely against all I believe in. Thank you for reading.

Mincemeat and Custard Tarts…. An Alternative to Mince Pies

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I know it’s a bit late to be posting a recipe you would normally associate with Christmas but I’m going to be making these all year round so I thought I’d share the recipe. I’m not a huge fan of traditional mince pies unless they are completely drowning in custard, so I decided to try and make a pie which had the custard inside ready. I had a few very messy attempts before realising it just doesn’t work as a pie. You can’t fill them deep enough with oozing custard. And then they leak and look a mess. Not good enough. I found THIS RECIPE but didn’t fancy using puff pastry. I figured a shortcrust pastry would hold the filling better and then decided to try my favourite sweet pastry instead. I baked them in a muffin tin rather than a bun tray as it needs the deeper sides to hold it all together. This recipe makes about 18 tarts. I take no credit for the filling as it was originally thought up by the previous recipe writer. My son doesn’t like mincemeat but wanted some custard tarts too. I substituted the mincemeat for jam and they came out beautifully. He ate 2 of his jam and custard tarts as soon as they were cool enough and has asked if I will make these all the time!

MINCEMEAT AND CUSTARD TARTS

225 g plain flour

115 g butter, cubed and chilled

85 g caster sugar

1 large egg, beaten

300 ml ready made custard

4 rounded tbsps ground almonds

Mincemeat (1 tsp per tart)

Toasted flaked almonds, to sprinkle on top

Icing sugar, to dust

  • Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs. Stir in the sugar. Pour in the beaten egg and use a round bladed metal knife to mix it in as best as you can. Use your hand to press any dry bits into the pastry mixture. Press it all together until it is a smooth ball. It will feel very slightly sticky. Wrap it in foil or clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • While the pastry is chilling, preheat the oven to 180C. Very lightly grease a muffin tin with butter.
  • Mix the custard and the ground almonds together.
  • Remove the pastry from the fridge and gently knead it to soften it to a rollable consistency. Dust your work surface with flour and roll the pastry to your preferred thickness. Mine was about 4mm. Use a large round cutter to cut out circles.
  • Gently press the pastry circles into the muffin tin holes. Add 1 heaped teaspoon of custard mixture to each tart, and then add 1 teaspoon of mincemeat in the middle. Sprinkle over a few flaked almonds and then bake in the centre of the oven for around 15-20 minutes until the pastry is lightly golden.
  • Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then gently remove using a small spatula or knife. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm or cold.

As you can see from my picture below, my largest pastry cutter only cut circles big enough to go halfway up the sides of the tin. If yours goes higher you can add more filling.

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I’m going to substitute the mincemeat for a cherry in the Summer as that would go so well with the almond custard. Let me know if you come up with any variations too 🙂

 

 

Chocolate Cream Truffles

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Happy New Year!!!!!! I’m typing this up at the start of January knowing a lot of people will have made a New Year’s Resolution to eat healthier. These truffles are far from healthy so why am I trying to tempt you into making them? Well I know a lot of people who have also made a Resolution to make more gifts themselves to really add that loving personal touch for the lucky recipient. These are perfect for gifts. They are wickedly indulgent and very rich, and they are easy enough for children to make with you.

I made these at Christmas, just like I do every year. This tradition started when I was a teenager. I didn’t come from a rich family. As those of you who know me will know, my Mum died when I was 12 and my Dad had a lifetime of illness which meant he was unable to work. This meant money was extremely tight in our household. I had wanted to give my favourite teachers Christmas presents but there wasn’t enough money for me to buy them anything nice. I decided to try and make some beautiful confectionary instead and found a recipe for chocolate cream truffles. The recipe I found didn’t quite work so I came up with my own. Happily, the teachers were delighted with their little boxes of truffles, and my Dad loved them so much I made them for him every year until his health problems decided he could only eat the blandest of food. I make them now each Christmas to remind me of him, and every time I do I remember how happy he was eating them 🙂

Anyway enough of all that, here is the recipe:

CHOCOLATE CREAM TRUFFLES

115 g plain chocolate, broken into pieces

115 ml double cream

2 tsp vanilla extract

450 g icing sugar, sifted

Chocolate vermicelli

  • Put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Leave until the chocolate has melted, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the vanilla and the cream and mix well. Gradually stir in the icing sugar.
  • Mix well until all completely combined. The mixture will be very stiff. Use your hands to knead it all together. The heat from your hands will help to soften the mixture. Press it all together until smooth.
  • Using slightly wet hands, roll portions of the mixture into balls , and then roll around in the chocolate vermicelli until completely covered. Place into sweet cases and leave to set.

I have made these using orange flavoured chocolate as well as just plain and they are equally yummy. You could also use flavoured icing sugars to make many different types of truffle. If you haven’t come across these before, I can highly recommend Sugar and Crumbs who make so many flavours you’ll be spoilt for choice!

Let me know if you try any different flavours. I’d love to hear which are the most delicious. And if your resolutions fall by the wayside, make these to cheer yourself up. Happy New Year everyone ❤