Jus-Rol Bake-It-Fresh part 2: pain au chocolat

It was inevitable that I’d purchase another one of these enticing yellow boxes, given the success of the delicious cinnamon swirls (previous post).

And even though we didn’t absolutely love the choc chip brioche (which just weren’t very brioche-y), they were still nice enough for us to keep the faith with Bake-It-Fresh.

Thank goodness, because we’d have missed these lovely little pain au chocolat. Hats off once again to Jus-Rol for their ease and resulting taste.


The cardboard packaging conceals the tube of dough and a little pack of chocolate sticks. The crystal clear instructions advise you to unwrap the dough…


and unroll it to expose the marks where you’ll easily tear it into sections.


As you can see from the picture, you end up with four lovely sections and two not so pretty ones from the end:


But, with a little bit of gentle stretching into shape, they’re absolutely fine. They need a bit of help so that their chocolate sticks fit on as such –


After the choc sticks are in place, you simply roll in each end towards the middle and turn them upside down to place them on your lined baking tray.


The instructions note that a little bit of glazing might be of benefit, so I used my trusty spray glaze – beaten egg or milk would of course do the same job.

Twelve minutes at 200 degrees celsius (180 fan) later, and you have six luscious little pastry packages which conceal hot, melting chocolate.


I’m just glad there are three of us in this house – 2 each and no fighting!


Next week, we’re going to give the croissants a go. Here’s hoping they’re majorly yum.






A therapeutic chocolate (with a swirl of peanut butter) banana bread

We’ve had a rough time of late, hence the lack of any cooking action on this blog. Sadly, we lost another baby boy to Hughes Syndrome (APS) and I have been distracted by illness and, of course, the grieving process.

I have been dementedly trying to occupy myself, however, tidying and cleaning and working from home – anything to prevent me from sitting still, thinking about things and failing to cope with the day.

A very welcome distraction came when I spotted this sight on top of the microwave…


Who could resist turning two blackening bananas and their soft companion into Nigella’s banana bread?

The recipe is one of my favourites – it’s from How to Be A Domestic Goddess – and I always tend to make the chocolate version which she details at the bottom of the page. I don’t bother preparing the sultanas with the rum and it has still never tasted anything less than magnificent.

This time, I needed to use up some Hershey’s swirled peanut butter and chocolate morsels, so in they went instead of the usual dark chocolate. Banana and peanut butter are a good combo, and it proved to be a very successful experiment.

I revelled in the smell of the kitchen as it cooked, and after cooling and cutting some generous slices, I finally dared to take a moment to sit still and enjoy it. Two days later, it’s going strong – and is especially nice with some butter on it, Northern Ireland-style (we love a bit of butter on anything).


Easter ‘baking’ with a four year-old – Nigella comes to the rescue

The daughter is at the age where she’s obsessed with cooking, but it’s a four year-old’s obsession, where she wants to cook, cook, cook, or bake, bake, bake until her attention is caught by something else. Usually after you’ve got to the stage of getting out all the ingredients and are at the point where eggs have been cracked and it’s too late to turn back.

She is more interested – and it’s not hard to see why – in the end result of icing / eating.

When she wanted to do some ‘baking’ recently, I remembered a recipe which has turned out to be absolutely perfect for this time of year – Nigella’s Easter nests from the kids’ section in How to Be a Domestic Goddess. All you need is some Shredded Wheat, chocolate to melt and some chocolate eggs – Cadbury Mini Eggs, of course – to sit in the hollow when you’re done.


Melting chocolate – in short bursts in the microwave, nice and carefully – takes no time at all, so we were able to crack on with smashing up the cereal. Then we were able to get stuck into the moulding and by the time that was finished, the first nests were dry enough for my daughter to eat.

They’re a bit naughty, but then it is the season of egg hunts and enjoying a little bit of a chocolate treat!


Some peppermint bark for the neighbours’ Christmas token

Every year I like to give our close neighbours something festive and sweet along with their Christmas cards. We’re lucky that we have such good friends living so close, and a number of them have helped us out innumerable times. Lovely Alan next door brings our bin in every week of the year. 

And I like to vary this mini treat to prevent any boredom, both for them and me! One thing I have seen appearing more in the UK this year is peppermint bark, a combination of chocolate and candy canes. Given that we had more than a few hanging unloved on the tree and that I had very little time to prepare anything, I opted for some straightforward melting, crushing and crumbling.

I always prefer to use what you have in front of you if possible, and I was looking at about a quarter of the quantity of white chocolate compared to dark. So it would have to be mainly dark choc with some simple white swirls.

Having recently used my Lakeland gingerbread moulds, I realised that their wall moulds would be perfect peppermint bark bar size, and so filled each (supported underneath by a baking sheet) with the melted dark chocolate – about 300g. Then, before it cooled, I melted and drizzled over the white  chocolate, swirling it around with a cocktail stick to make it a little more artistic – a very fun process! 



A bit of a walloping with the rolling pin and the candy canes were ready for sprinkling on top before the whole thing went into the fridge. 


The mould had worked a treat, and each bar was unbelievably easy to remove. They would have worked as whole bars for bigger gifts but I got busy with the rolling pin again to turn each into shards for each of the neighbours’ individual boxes – which of course meant that the Other Half and I got to have a little sample, just to be sure, you understand 🙂 Image

I can’t speak for the neighbours, but we loved it. It was very hard to have to give it all away! 


Turning stale biscuits into a baked peanut butter chocolate cheesecake. Yum.

For whatever reason, we amassed quite a few biccies recently which went uneaten and thus ended up all stale and unwanted 😦 languishing in the biscuit tin. 

I also had a stash of out of date peanut butter Oreo cookies, so there was a need for definitive action in the usual manner of dealing with these unappealingly soft blighters – stick them in a cheesecake as the base. 


I had about 150grams of crumbs after I blitzed the first lot of plain-ish biscuits in the Magimix, a job lot which included some Nice and a few mini gingermen. I topped this up to 300g with the outsides of some of the Oreos, mixed them with melted butter and pressed them into a 23cm springform tin.

For the topping, I threw together cream cheese, peanut butter, beaten egg and brown sugar, adding the Oreo middles for good measure. Plus a scattering of crumbled Oreos on top. Oh, and a liberal helping of those fantastic Hershey swirled peanut butter and chocolate morsels.

Image The end result, baked for 40 mins or so, was a substantial slice of heaven. It was also reallllly filling. We’re already peanut butter addicts in our house, but I think this one might definitely be made again. Nothing better than a bit of culinary experimentation which goes right! 





REVIEW: Tayto’s Limited Edition Milk Chocolate Bar with Cheese & Onion Crisps

Yes, it really is chocolate with bits of crisps in it. When I have told people about it, their reactions have made me wonder if I am just a bt weird, because it seems to me a perfectly normal, and desirable proposition. 

Growing up, I regularly combined Tayto or Golden Wonder cheese and onion crisps and chocolate (quite often a Kit-Kat) in one delectable mouthful.  Image

So when I heard that this special edition was available, I had to get some! Tayto is a crisp company based in Ireland, so a kindly person with whom I went to school (Geoff, you’re a legend) agreed to send me some when they got their hands on it.

Two bars arrived in the post this week and I have been staring at them in anticipation for quite some time! Like Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I have been trying to make the most of the situation, extending the pleasure of the whole thing for as long as possible, especially given a chocolate treat this rare and exciting. 

Unlike Charlie, I couldn’t wait for weeks and then take a wee nibble at a time. Once I had opened the wrapper and had a good look, I got straight in there. 



  As you can see from the above picture of the back of the bar, the chocolate is full of little tiny fragments of Tayto’s legendary C&O crisps. When I popped one little square in my mouth and let the chocolate melt away, what was left were all the little fragments – and they were still as stinky as these famed beauties should be!

Personally, I’d buy it in bulk if I could. It’s been great to know I am not alone in my crisp and choc passion. To the doubters I say only this – don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.

Despite the sun, I can’t resist making a chocolate bread and butter pudding

Chancing upon a loaf reduced to 10p in the supermarket, I couldn’t resist. So, even though the summer had finally arrived and it was a lovely warm day, I found myself making a really comfort food-y stodgy pud.

But I’d had my eye on Nigella’s chocolate bread and butter pudding from Kitchen for months and was dying to get my pie dish down and make it. It’s just such an easy recipe, which used the American method of making a dessert of this sort. Rather than buttering loads of slices of bread, you just cube a weighed amount of slices, toss them in the dish, throw in the choc, and then pour over the milky, creamy, eggy (plus rum) mixture.

We ate it, straight from the oven, with a little bit of cream. Vanilla ice cream would also have been a combination from the heavens. The husband was so enamoured that he ate it straight from the dish the next morning!




A review of Soreen’s new chocolate malt loaf

In celebration of their 75th anniversary, Soreen have released a special chocolate edition of their famous squidgy loaf.

I am already a fan of Soreen, especially the toastie loaf (which comes sliced, thus preventing the squishing of the entire product when you try to cut it) so there was no way I was going to miss this one when I heard about it. But it was nowhere to be found round our way for a depressingly long time. 

Then one day, whilst buying Warburton’s cinnamon loaf – which our young daughter adores – I looked up and there it was. Woooooo! I shouted (inwardly) and promptly threw two into the trolley. 


Once home, I immediately got stuck in. There was a bit of the usual compaction when I carefully sliced it and spread the usual thin smear of butter (we Norn Iron folk butter everything) on top. Thankfully, it wasn’t dry – a really dry Soreen once put me off buying it for ages.

And, really, it didn’t taste THAT different, which was actually a pretty good result. I had been worried what a really chocolately Soreen would taste like, and I think this is really as far as the choc idea could be pushed. 

Chocolate chips have been added to the usual mix and it’s a subtle addition – they’re tiny and you won’t all of a sudden have your malt, chewy bite of S rudely interrupted. They’re more of a ‘ooh, what’s that coming through’ polite and pleasant element to what’s always a pleasurable and pretty sweet thing to eat. Which is of course low in fat.

The cheerful messages on the packaging suggest eating it with vanilla ice cream or warm with chocolate sauce. I haven’t tried it yet but I’m thinking you can only go so far wrong where sugar and fat are concerned!


We’re on a pre-holiday diet…but then I went and made Nigella Lawson’s Peanut Butter Squares!

We are trying to be good in the few weeks before our holiday as we know that once we are there, we’ll be inactive and stuffing ourselves, piling on pounds during sunbathing whilst quaffing sugary drinks and munching snacks.

So, it’s been healthy dinners all the way. I recently made spatchcock chicken with some sweet potato mash and parmesan parsnips. Even though the sweet potatoes had been in the fridge for quite a while, they were still delicious. I have such a sweet tooth that I find these a godsend. Very few things are as healthy and delicious as a sweet potato wedge or a spoon of s p mash!


But then, in advance of a girlie movie night, I made some of Nigella’s peanut butter squares from Domestic Goddess.

We are all peanut butter fans so it was a no brainer that these, a combination of icing sugar, peanut butter and two types of chocolate, would go down a treat. They’re, in fact, one of the most irresistible things I have ever eaten and there was no way the other half and I with our rubbish levels of willpower were going to be able to stay away.

One portion of these does go quite a long way but after we’d passed some on to friends, there was still quite a bit left. But, inevitably, it took us two nights to scoff the lot!