Make a Valentine Day cake because they do say the way to a person’s heart is through their tummy!

Berry-special-Valentine-cake-11

There’s no need to buy a special cake tin to make this extra special cake, a large Swiss roll tin or roasting tin will work fine with a homemade paper template. .

Cuts into 8 slices
Prep: 40 minutes
Cook: 15-18 minutes

Cake layers

175g (6oz) soft margarine
175g (6oz) caster sugar
150g (5oz) self-raising flour
25g (1oz) cocoa
½ teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs

Filling

100g (4oz) dark chocolate, broken into pieces
200ml (7fl oz) double cream
150g (5oz) raspberries
225g (8oz) strawberries, hulled, sliced
Little icing sugar, sifted

Method

1.Preheat the oven to 180oC/350oF/Gas Mark 4. Grease the base and sides of a 25 x 38cm (10 x 15 inch) Swiss roll tin or roasting tin with the same base measurement and line the base with a piece of non-stick baking paper. Add the margarine and sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor, sift in the flour, cocoa and baking powder then add the eggs and beat until smooth, or mix in a bowl with a wooden spoon.

2.Spoon the cake mixture into the lined tin and spread into an even layer. Bake for 15-18 minutes until the cake springs back when lightly pressed in the centre of the tin with fingertips. Leave to cool for 15 minutes then loosen the edges and turn out on to a wire rack.

3.When cold, peel off the lining paper and fold the paper into three triangles, with the two outer triangles going one way and the centre one pointing the other. Draw a large heart in one of the triangles that is about 14 x 20 cm (51/2 x 8 inches) then cut out, and use this as a template to cut two more hearts from the other triangles. Lay the templates on the cake and cut around them with a small sharp knife. Check the shapes are the same by stacking the cakes one on top of the other and trimming a little off the sides if needed, then separate the cakes once more.

4.Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of very gently simmering water for about 5 minutes. Stir until smooth then take off the pan. Slowly whisk in the cream until thick and glossy then chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes until thick enough to spread.

5.Spread the cream mixture evenly over all three cake layers. Arrange a single row of raspberries around the edge of one of the cakes, then crumble the rest and arrange with the sliced strawberries over the other two layers. Carefully stack the cakes together on a pedestal plate, if you have one, with the raspberry edged cake on top then dust the raspberries with a little sifted icing sugar. Chill the Valentine Day cake in the fridge until ready to serve.

Hijacked By Twins

Adding just a hint of cracked black pepper to pureed strawberries adds a real kick, combine with the white chocolate, lime and white rum mousse and you will wow your friends. Make extra sauce and freeze in sections of an ice cube tray, defrost as many ice cubes as you need in the microwave and drizzle over a scoop of vanilla ice cream to give it the star treatment.

White-chocolate-mousses-with-strawberry-and-black-pepper-sauce-11White chocolate mousse with strawberry sauce will certainly get your Valentine in the mood.

Serves 4
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Chill: 3-4 hours

White chocolate mousse

◾200g (7oz) white chocolate, broken into pieces
◾1 lime, grated rind only
◾2 eggs, separated
◾2 tablespoons white rum
◾150ml (1/4 pint) double cream

Strawberry and black pepper sauce

◾50g (2oz) caster sugar
◾75ml (21/2 fl oz) water
◾1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, roughly crushed
◾225g (8oz) strawberries, hulled, sliced
◾½ lime, juice only
◾Few extra small strawberries to decorate

Method

1.To make the mousse, melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of very gently simmering water, making sure that the base of the bowl isn’t touching the water.

2.Take the bowl of chocolate off the saucepan and stir in the lime rind, egg yolks and rum until smooth. Lightly whip the cream until it forms soft swirls then fold into the chocolate mix and spoon into 4 small glasses. Chill in the fridge for 3-4 hours until set.

3.Meanwhile make the sauce, add the sugar, water and pepper to a medium saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved then simmer for 3 minutes. Add the strawberries and lime juice and cook for 2 minutes then leave to cool.

4.Puree the sauce in a liquidiser or using a stick blender until smooth. Pour into a small jug and pour over the tops of the mousses just before serving. Serve on small plates with extra halved strawberries, if liked.

Will you try this white chocolate mousse recipe

wedsbloghop

Chocolate fondue makes an indulgent treat perfect to share with your Valentine.

Chocolate-Fondue-2

Made in minutes, pour this wonderfully luxurious fondue into a pretty heart shaped cup or keep hot in a mini fondue bowl with a burner.

Serves 2

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

2 strips of orange rind pared from a whole orange with a vegetable peeler

Large pinch ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons caster sugar

120ml (4fl oz) or 8 tablespoons of water

150g (5oz) dark chocolate, broken into pieces

2 tablespoons double cream, plus 1 tablespoon to decorate

350g (12oz) mixed strawberries, raspberries and blueberries

1.Add the orange rind, cinnamon, sugar and water to a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for 3-4 minutes until syrupy and leave to cool for 10 minutes or longer for the flavours to develop.

2.Discard the orange rind and reheat the syrup. Take off the heat, add the chocolate and leave until melted. Stir until smooth and mix in 2 tablespoons of cream until glossy. Reheat gently if needed.

3.Arrange the fruit on a plate with fondue skewers or small forks and pour the fondue sauce into a cup or fondue pot set over a burner. You can even use the saucepan you have been cooking with. Decorate with an extra drizzle of cream and swirl with a skewer. Start dipping!

Tip

For a minted chocolate fondue, substitute the orange and cinnamon for 2 stems of fresh mint instead of the orange and cinnamon.

Do you like making the most of seasonal berries?

Hijacked By Twins

You could try this Macaroons recipe to make a pretty gift for your Valentine.

macaroons

These pretty patisseries are very fashionable at the moment but can be very expensive to buy, so why not make your own and give as a gift in a recycled box lined with non-stick baking paper and a lacy paper doily tied with ribbon.

Makes 20

Preparation time: 40 minutes
Standing time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20-22 minutes

Macaroons
◾175g (6 oz) icing sugar
◾125g (41/2 oz) ground almonds
◾3 large egg whites
◾75 g (3 oz) caster sugar
◾Little violet or pink food colouring

To finish
◾75g (3oz) blackberries or strawberries
◾100g (4oz) butter at room temperature
◾150g (5oz) icing sugar
1.Preheat the oven to 140oC/275oF/Gas Mark 1. Line 3 baking sheets with non-stick baking paper.
2.Grind the icing sugar and ground almonds to a fine powder in a food processor or liquidiser then press through a sieve.
3.Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until they form moist peaks then gradually whisk the caster sugar in a little at a time. Whisk for 2 minutes until the mixture is thick and glossy, then whisk in a few drops of violet or pink food colouring.
4.Spoon half the icing sugar and ground almonds into the bowl then gently fold together. Add the remaining mixture and continue folding in until just mixed. Don’t over-fold or the mixture will go very runny and be difficult to pipe.
5.Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a large plain tube and pipe 2.5cm (1 inch) rounds on the paper lined trays. Give each baking sheet a sharp tap to ensure a good ‘foot’. You should make about 40. Leave to stand for 20 minutes for the macaroons to dry out.
6.Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the macaroons may be lifted easily off the paper. Leave to cool.
7.For the filling, puree the berries until smooth then press through a sieve. Beat the butter and icing sugar together in a food processor until smooth then gradually beat in 2 tbsp of the fruit puree. Use to sandwich the macaroons together in pairs. Arrange on a serving plate or in a pretty box.

Tips:
◾Once sandwiched together the macaroons are best eaten within 24 hours. Plain macaroons can be kept for 2-3 days in a cool dry place covered with extra non-stick baking paper and the filling in a covered container in the fridge.
◾You might also like to flavour the macaroons with ½ tsp of raspberry, lemon or peppermint extract when adding the colouring to the meringue.

Discover more fruity recipes using Seasonal Berries.

Will you be trying this macaroons recipe?

Cuddle Fairy

Family breakfast whether at home or out and about is one of our favourite things. Before we had children, some of our loveliest times were enjoying a Full English and comparing the best ones on offer at pubs, greasy spoons and restaurants. We imagined ourselves as restaurant reviewers never imagining that one day we would be just that!

My Dad used to make an amazing cooked breakfast and it was always the very thing my Mum fancied if she was feeling off colour. Similarly, my husband makes the best breakfast in my house. To be honest, timing all those food items is daunting to me so I leave it to him.

On Saturday, we were invited to try the family breakfast on offer at the Red Lion in Horndean – one of a number of Table Table outlets across the UK.

breakfast

We arrived to a friendly greeting from the manager. Before being shown to our table, a waitress explained where to find the various tasty treats on offer some of which were self-service and some of which were served to the table. The restaurant was quite busy with a wide range of age groups including families with small children, a group of teenage boys and couples. There was plenty of space for everyone and we did not feel at all crowded.

Service was very friendly and particular thanks goes to Jess who was so very lovely with my shy daughter. They bonded over a love of croissants and hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows! I think it is really important that family-friendly restaurants provide not only affordable and healthy food but also are genuinely nice to the children. Too often, I find the staff ignore the children and I don’t like that.

My daughter was thrilled with the wide range of pastries on offer and ate an amazing amount. She enjoyed putting Nutella on her toast and she felt very special when freshly-baked croissants were delivered to her by the lovely Jess. She also enjoyed yoghurt whilst my husband relished a bowl of fruit salad, always one of his favourite things.

Both my husband and I ordered cooked breakfasts and you could choose the specific items that you liked best and lots of them too if you wanted to go down that route. The breakfasts did take a while to arrive but I don’t mind that at all as the reasons were explained to us and we were offered another treat as compensation. We were both delighted with the food when it arrived and it was worth the slight wait.

I particularly enjoyed the bacon which I usually find so disappointing. It had a smoky taste to it and was thicker than usual. The mushrooms were proper ones not those bland tinned ones that too often appear. Black pudding is now apparently a super food so I had to have that too!

My husband had at least one of each item on offer – he has quite the appetite! He comments, “The choice was fantastic. The delay was an issue but at least you knew it was all freshly cooked so that could be forgiven easily”.

Check out the wonderful offers that make eating out out a real option for families even if working to a budget and whatever time of day.

You and your little ones can choose as much as you like from the cooked and Continental selections, including crispy back bacon, succulent premium sausages, eggs as you like them, hash browns, pan-fried mushrooms and more, alongside beautifully baked pastries, cereal, fresh fruit, plus chilled juices, tea and unlimited Costa Coffee.

And the best bit is that up to two under 16’s eat breakfast for free when one adult orders a full Premier Inn Breakfast.

This offer applies to Table Table restaurants situated next to Premier Inn hotels:

Free breakfast for two children aged 15 or under when purchasing an adult breakfast. This offer is available weekdays 6.30am-11:30am and weekends 7.00am-11.00am

This offer applies to Table Table restaurants not situated next to Premier Inn hotels:

One child under 10 years can choose from either a cooked breakfast, a vegetarian breakfast, eggs on toast, beans on toast or a two egg omelette when one adult purchases and Ultimate Cooked Breakfast meal deal or an Ultimate Vegetarian Cooked Breakfast meal deal.