Delicious chocolate that changes lives

I must admit that I absolutely love chocolate.  I feel more reassured in life knowing that I have some chocolate hidden in the house that only I know about, so I was delighted to try chocolate from a company called Choc Affair.  I received the Library Collection which consists of four of their best selling bars in a smart presentation box.  Each bar was wrapped in gold paper complete with a beautiful paper sleeve design reflecting the taste combinations that lay inside.  I think this makes a brilliant Christmas present as it is not the standard box of supermarket chocolates which look terribly boring alongside the Choc Affair chocolate.

I started with the salted caramel.  This is largely because I am a fan of salted caramel I think a lot of people get this wrong and make the chocolate to salty.  I need not have worried the creamy caramel flavour melts in your mouth with a slight sea salt hit afterwards – perfect.  My children couldn’t get enough of this chocolate and they would usually shy away from the idea of anything being salted.  Next, I or should that be ‘we’ tried the peach and raspberry white chocolate. I don’t think I have ever had peach chocolate before but it is definitely my favourite now as it was very creamy and delicate with a fruits of the summer taste combined with the comforting hug of creamy chocolate.

The orange and geranium chocolate transported me back to my childhood as it just has a very subtle hint of Turkish delight flavour about it but with the smoothest chocolate, I have ever tasted.  Also a big hit with the children.

I have to say I am not naturally a dark chocolate fan but the dark chocolate infused with lime and sea salt has a sharpness that all dark chocolate fans will love and does go down particularly well with my morning coffee.

Not only do Choc Affair make the best and creamiest chocolate, I have an admiration for a company that can look at a very full and competitive marketplace that chocolate retail is and just go for it anyway!  Not only that, they are creating a better tasting chocolate bar than the large confectionary companies.   Through their initiatives in Colombia and Uganda, they know the origin of their cocoa beans and are making a real difference to the lives of the cocoa farmers they work with – fabulous!

Can I also just come back to the packaging?  I am a big fan those simple touches from the gold paper to the beautiful paper wrappers that create a such a luxurious feel to a £2.75 chocolate bar.   I would happily give this as a Christmas stocking filler or extra gift for Christmas as it looks special.  Not only that, all the Choc Affair packaging to made a few miles from their factory.  A great combination of supporting local British Businesses and improving lives in developing countries.

My children are now convinced I have a direct line to Willy Wonka and I think they will be looking for a bar of Choc Affair’s chocolate in their stocking on Christmas morning.  What could be better for a child on Christmas morning than a delicious treat of chocolate to fire their taste buds and maybe a Roald Dahl book to ignite their imagination?

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Great British Bake off stocking fillers

Whatever you think of Pru Leith (Or Pru Lethal) as I saw I referred to today in the British Press, the format of the Great British Bake Off proves as addictive as the bakes the contestants create.  What is nice about this show (if you ignore some of the Pru comments) is that it is good family viewing and there really aren’t that many shows on a weekday that the family can sit together and enjoy.  What’s more it does inspire a younger generation to have a go which is great as every childhood should have a memory of going round the sponge mix bowl to get every last delicious morsel of batter out – yummy!  I am constantly on the lookout for Christmas Presents during the year partly because I don’t want to struggle to think of what to buy everyone at once in November.  It is also a good way of spreading the cost.  So, if you have a budding star baker in your home or a more established cook who is always looking for a new take on an old favourite recipe, there is plenty of Bake Off presents to buy.

I particularly like this stylish Family Organiser Calendar for 2018

A fabulous recipe for each month

It is a bargin at under £10 and I do approve of the multiple columns for each day.  Afteralll it is a bit difficult to fit everybody’s whereabouts on a traditional calendar.  The delicious recipe each month will also be difficult to resist.

 

 

 

 

Other great stocking fillers in this star baker cup

This cup looks stylish and is a great compliment to give the recipient this Christmas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alternatively, there are many cook books to help you read your own master baker status.  Being slightly obsessed with chocolate, I particularly love the Bake it Better Chocolate cook book.  Yummy delicious as my equally chocolate obsessed daughter would say!

 

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Victoria Beckham and Estee Lauder – New Collection

After the runaway success of Victoria Beckham’s previous makeup collection.  She has added more products to her Autumn Winter collection which is delivered again in collaboration with Estee Lauder.  There are 5 looks in this collection from the smoldering London Look to the sophisticated New York look.  Each new collection contains 6 key pieces to recreate the look.  I particularly love the London Look eye pallette which is a gel creme formulation in different finishes from full on shimmer to soft matte.  I also think the double ended eye pencil in Black Saffron/Vanille should be in everyone’s makeup bag.  The vanille shade is for your water line to open up and brighten your eye and the soft black will create a smoky effect line.  This makeup will make a very luxurious addition to the woman in your life dressing table.  So, if you are one of the men whose Christmas shopping for their partner relies on the last minute dash to a department store while the very helpful lady behind the counter wraps the usual bottle of perfume, this maybe the purchase for you.  Instead of a 24th December purchase, it could be the ‘buy it online in September’ alternative.  I say September because much of Victoria Beckham’s makeup is sold out in a very short space of time.  So, no leaving this one until Christmas week.  Just don’t forget a wonderful gift box and some tissue paper to put it in.  John Lewis has a stunning selection of gift boxes like this one below from Sara Miller.

 

 

John Lewis Gift Box

Victoria Beckham London Look Collection

 

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First look at the new Nigella Lawson cookery book: At My Table

In the current edition of Good Housekeeping Magazine, Nigella says she “likes to see a cake that has been made by somebody and is not even.  That is what cooking is.  Things can’t look like they have come from a factory.”  I have always liked this about Nigella, probably because I have never cooked an even cake in my life.  I also admire her food writing and her un chef like list of ingredients which are often few rather than many.  I generally look for cookbooks that are full of home cooking that the children will eat.   I am pleased to see there any many recipes in Nigella’s new book called At My Table, that meet these criteria.  I am definitely going to try the chicken and pea and traybake as traybakes must the biggest gift to a working Mum that needs to do the school run and feed her children.

November’s Good Housekeeping

Nigella’s At my Table

 

 

Chicken and Pea Traybake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Christmas draws nearer I also like to find some quick things to cook that can also make delicious homemade Christmas presents.  The double chocolate and pumpkin seed cookies look great as a last minute gift if we can bear to leave any on the cooling rack.  As Nigella states “On Bake off, they have to make 18 biscuits and they have to be identical?  I have never had two biscuits that look identical!”  Thank goodness for that, gives us all hope!

For other Christmas gift ideas, check out some Nigella books in one of our previous blogs

 

Chocolate Cookies

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WIN a stunning Christmas Lampshade in our giveaway competition

Amongst all the yummy chocolate, Christmas puddings and other delicious Christmas delights I receive there is sometimes something that makes you stop and think ‘Ooooh, that’s different – fabulous different’! Rosalind Freeborn has had the brilliant idea of taking the lampshade shade and turning it into a work of art, creating her own papershades.  Her original pretty designs create a simple inexpensive way of adding a bit of colour to our often too beige lives.  These paper shades are cleverly designed in 5 pieces which you fit together yourself.  Luckily for us, she has a range of 6 Christmas shades and has kindly offered the Christmas Tree paper shade as a prize worth £25.  All you have to do to take part in our giveaway competition is subscribe to our newsletter and/or follow and like us on Facebook.

Christmas Tree Paper Shade

 

To win all you need to do is subscribe to my free weekly Christmas Planning Newsletter and follow us on Facebook – we will pick a winner at random from our combined list of Facebook followers and Newsletter subscribers – so if you do both you stand twice the chance of winning!

 

 

 

For more information about Papershades
Competition Rules:
  1. By entering you grant us the right to publish your name in print and online, making minor corrections and edits as required.
  2. The names of the winners will be published in a follow-up blog and in our newsletter in mid-October.
  3. The closing date for entries is midnight on October 9th, 2017 – only people subscribed to our email newsletter or who follow us on Facebook as of October 9th will be eligible.
  4. The editor’s decision is final and we will not enter into further correspondence.
  5. No alternative prizes or cash alternatives are available.
  6. The winner will be notified by e-mail or Facebook week commencing October 9th. – you will have 7 days to make contact with us and claim the prize. Prizes not claimed by October 16th will be placed into a second draw and offered to the runner-up.
  7. Sorry, but we can only deliver the prize to locations within the UK via Royal Mail.
  8. The name and address of the winner(s) will be passed to the sponsors who will make arrangements for getting the prize to you.
  9. This competition is being run in good-faith and on a best endeavours basis, we cannot be held responsible for failure to receive prize claims or failure for the prize to be delivered by the sponsor.
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