Peruvian Gold
Chulucanas 70
Not wanting to start this post on a downer…but our bodies have just made it through January and we’re now talking about chocolate and 50 shades of something, blah, blah, blah. 

Many of you will understand and recognise this never ending
nightmare, that we find ourselves in. Throughout January you will have religiously attended many exhaustive, hot and sweaty sessions at the local gym and consumed vast quantities of stomach stripping detoxing ‘green juices’ in a never ending futile attempt to rejuvenate, replenish and miraculously turn that Christmas Pudding shaped stomach into something representing a washboard. 

Unfortunately, come February everything and everybody is plotting against us and as soon as we have shed those few pounds our bodies are thrown into the next retail battleground that is Valentine’s Day. Even the government is getting in on the act deciding it is a good time to slap our lardy arses and cut benefits to the plumpy dumpies amongst us. Where can we find salvation? Could this spell the end for chocolate? Uh, no I don’t think so. Not when it comes to tasting such delicious and possibly ‘healthy’ offerings from the likes of Willies Cacao.
Two Squares of Peruvian Gold 80g
Willie Harcourt-Cooze founder of Willies Cacao and real life Willy Wonka has not been seen on our tv screens for several years when he was last seen running naked down that Exeter country lane. There is nothing he doesn’t know about chocolate and he will go to great lengths to bring us delicious and flavoursome chocolate without the necessity of adding processed sugar or other additives. 

Chulucanas 70 is described as instant gratification… how appropriate. 
Made from single origin Criollo beans this chocolate has distinctive notes of raisins and plums. For a 70% dark chocolate it melts quickly in the mouth giving up it’s citrus flavours with additional plum and liquorice. This is a beautifully balanced piece of chocolate and if anybody thinks dark chocolate is bitter then you have to try this bar.

The word Chulucanas actually comes from a town in the Piura region of Peru. The town of Chulucanas is apparently famous for its black and white pottery and ceramic characters. 
This bar is priced at £2.99 and you can buy online by following the link here.

Spiced Apple Cake

Spiced Apple Cake, The World of Chocolate, Recipe

This particular recipe was taken from English Patis who tweaked a Delia recipe. I used golden caster and left out the pecan nuts to please all members of the family.

350g peeled and chopped apples – I used Braeburns
275g plain flour
110g butter – melted
2 eggs – slightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves (optional)
1/2 whole nutmeg – finely grated (about 1 tsp)
170 g golden caster sugar
175 ml milk

75g  Demerara sugar
75g  self-raising flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
25g  butter – softened
50g  pecans or walnuts – roughly chopped – optional
1 Tbsp cold water


Preheat oven to 165C fan. Grease the bottom of a 3 lb loaf tin and line with a strip of greaseproof to aid removal once cooked.

Mix the topping – combine the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour in a small bowl. Cut in the soft butter with two butter knives into the mixture. Then proceed to rub in it with your fingertips. Add in the nuts – mix well. Sprinkle the cold water and toss. Set aside.

Combine the flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking powder, and salt in another bowl.
Put the eggs in a large bowl. Add in the milk, sugar, and melted butter.
Add the flour mixture into the egg mixture with a wooden spoon and mix well stirring in the chopped apples.

Pour into the greased cake tin

Sprinkle the topping on the surface of the batter.

Bake in oven for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool for about 5 minutes, turn out from the pan then cool completely.

Spiced Apple Cake, The World of Chocolate

Serves 10-12 portions and at the time of writing this recipe the cost of producing this cake was £2.75.

Shoreditch, home of Yalla Yalla and The Hoxton, is just a 5 minute walk away from the busy train terminus that is Liverpool Street station and the City, work place of bankerman. 

We nipped over to Shoreditch or as it was known in a previous life as ‘Sewer-Ditch’ when the area was not much more than a boggy landscape. 

Well, you’ll be pleased to know things have moved on since then even though the weather may still be the same, wet and very, very cold. Us Southern folk are such wimps when it comes to the cold. Fail!

The thrust of urban development is creeping little by little with new flats rising from what seems like the very cracks in the pavement and interestingly we came across the March for Homes, a demonstration against “social cleansing”. Hundreds of people walked the streets protesting against the lack of affordable housing. Like most modern cities London is a place of extremes with people sleeping rough alongside 3 bedroom flats on sale for £2.4M. The March for Homes is said to be the first of its kind, bringing campaigners, retailers and trade unionists together to highlight the lack of affordable housing and spiralling rents.
March for Homes

Stopping off for an impromptu haircut at a Turkish barbers I managed to get warm again, whilst my old man had the haircut to end all haircuts.  Not having witnessed the intricate skills of a Turkish barber I nearly jumped off my seat when said barber set fire to my husbands hair and then proceeded to slap him with hot wet towels, followed by intense massaging of the upper body. With only a slight whiff of burning protein in the air my husband escaped with his hair intact, well what was left. In fact it was the best haircut he’d ever had, certainly the most entertaining.

Street art is everywhere….
Smokers take shelter
Damien Hirst at The Tramshed 

By chance we came across The Tramshed, Mark Hix’s celebrated Chicken and Steak eatery and headed inside mainly to escape from the weather. Fortunately, for my purse, the Weekend Brunch menu was available and we sat and enjoyed a ‘Cock ‘n’ bull hash with a double yolker’ and a Salt beef sandwich. Its not everyday that you can sit under a piece of Damien Hirst artwork. A word of warning don’t have the fries they’re more expensive than the main course….cunning naughty sides! Well worth a visit and not just for the food. At the moment kids under 10 eat free!
Cock ‘n’ bull hash with a double yolker
Salt beef sandwich
Staff are friendly and food was delivered quickly and efficiently, they even had time for a chat. If you have time, pop into the Cock n Bull gallery for some arty inspiration.  Shoreditch….we’ll be back when the sun comes out again.

Marou – Ben Tre 78% Dark Chocolate
At Christmas I am your ideal person to buy a gift for. Why? Well, just gift me a few chocolate bars, truffles or such like and I’ll be as happy as Larry for several days, possibly months! 

Of course, this year all my presents were wonderful even those pairs of socks! But one of them particularly appealed to me. A bar of Ben Tre 78%, single origin dark chocolate, that had been on my list of chocolates to try for 2015.
Vietnam is not a country that springs immediately to mind as a cocoa producing country. My memories of Vietnam were shaped by the many Hollywood blockbusters including Apocalypse Now, Hamburger Hill, Full Metal Jacket and of course images of Napalm Girl. Oh, and not forgetting MASH! The Americans infamously dumped millions of gallons of Agent Orange onto the country in order to destroy Vietnam’s jungles and ultimately the cover it provided the Viet Cong. Interestingly, Ben Tre was mentioned in the Viet Cong’s failed Tet offensive of 1968 where the town was pretty much destroyed by the Americans who were actually trying to save it.
Well things have certainly moved on in terms of agriculture since the 60’s. Overseas investment has meant that small businesses such as cocoa farmers have flourished, making Vietnam one of the newest and most exciting cocoa producers in the world. 

In 2010, I reviewed two limited edition bars of chocolate from the UK’s very own Marc Demarquette, a fine chocolate specialist. You can read the review here. The quality of Vietnam’s cocoa is born out by the fact that Marc is still using their cocoa today, to find out more click here.

Ok, back to Samuel and Vincent, two Frenchman who followed their gut instincts and set up Marou. Essentially these guys have escaped the daily grind in spectacular fashion. Landing in Saigon where they literally hunt down the best and most interesting cocoa beans, design their own chocolate making equipment and then produce some amazing bean to bar chocolates. Voila! Now their chocolate is sold and enjoyed around the world.

Firstly, this is a big bar of chocolate not your measly 70g that seems to be standard and secondly it has been beautifully packaged and presented especially with a sumptuously thick golden outer. If James Bond purchased chocolate then this is what he’d buy.

I’m not usually a great fan of chocolate with a cocoa content over 65%. However, the fluidity of this bar is excellent with only a slight chalky mouthfeel.
A deep ‘forest floor’ aroma emanates from the bar as you open up the packaging. The chocolate is really well made and melts quickly with a relatively high fruit acidity with hints of liquorice. Overall a very enjoyable bar of chocolate, irresistible and super sexy….I’ve obviously eaten too much chocolate!

Buy online from Chocolatiers, priced at £5.35.

Marou is certainly doing good!

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh by Rococo

Officially it is still Christmas and there are a few more days to go! 

So, with that in mind and before we stagger into the New Year there is still an opportunity for a swift review of a ‘blinging’ dark chocolate Christmas bar from Rococo Chocolates, Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. 

Obviously, there are religious connotations going on here but, I’m sure a bar of chocolate wasn’t on the Three Wise Men’s gift list when they visited the young baby Jesus. But, who knows….

Gold! Yes, no expense has been spared and they really have served up some 22 carat gold leaf bringing a little bling into our world. Ok, so its a trace but its awesome.

Frankincense is an aromatic resin obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia and is well known for its use by religious orders as incense. Approximately 1,000 tonnes of resin are tapped from trees each year and its becoming harder and harder to locate. The tree can be found in the most inhospitable places and can literally grow out of solid rock. Somalia is the biggest exporter of the resin. 

Myrrh is another aromatic resin taken from the thorny tree, Commiphora Myrrh. Also found in Somalia. In traditional Chinese medicine Myrrh is classified as ‘bitter’ and ‘spicy’ having the ability to assist with the body’s circulatory problems.

The bar was originally created by Rococo in 1996. Presentation is excellent and the dark chocolate is shiny and snappy with a subtle orange aroma. The gold adds nothing to the flavour but provides a little luxury. A 65% cocoa content means that the dark chocolate melts quickly with a hint of bitter sweetness combining deliciously with the orange. I’m not sure I’m picking up the woodiness from the Frankincense but overall this a great bar of chocolate. Priced at £4.95/70g. To buy click here. You still have time….

Wild Gorse Flower by Chocolarder
If you are a visitor to Southwold, Suffolk, especially during the magical month of May, you will be familiar with a striking and prickly yellow shrub that is known as Gorse which bursts like a ray of sunshine from the scrub. 

A bright colour is not its only attractive quality but it also has a heady, thick coconut scent that envelops everything within a few metres. 

Certainly not something I would consider combining with chocolate, but the guys at Chocolarder have been working their magic to produce an aptly named Wild Gorse Flower bar of chocolate. According to the words on the packaging, “Gorse flowers are handpicked from around Cornwall’s coast and steeped in cocoa butter for several weeks to impart their heady scent. Added to 40% milk Javan milk chocolate”.

Chocolarder is an artisan bean to bar chocolate maker based in Cornwall and I’ve taken a paragraph directly from their website, “The Chocolarder is one of the only small batch bean-to-bar chocolate makers in the country. We produce fine quality, stone ground chocolate using organic beans imported from single estate, family run plantations in Venezuela, Java, Madagascar, Peru and the Dominican Republic. The select beans used at The Chocolarder are roasted, winnowed and ground over 4 days before being left to mature for 30 days. The chocolate is then hand tempered and made into bars. This obsessive attention to detail yields some of the finest chocolate in production today”.
Chocolarder packaging is all recyclable
The chocolate is a single origin milk chocolate made from Trinitario beans from Java with a 40% cocoa content, infused with Wild Gorse flowers. The beans themselves have been through a grind length of 68 hrs. 

As I said on my previous tasting, their packaging is very good and also completely recyclable or sourced from recycled materials. On opening the greaseproof outer there is a very, very strong aroma of coconut, which brings back memories of sunbathing using coconut oil and gently frying in the Mediterranean sun. The coconut flavour is so strong that I almost expected there to be a white centre not unlike a Bounty. The 40% milk chocolate is lost in the strong coconutty flavour but melts easily with a fudge like texture. To be honest the chocolate does not come through until long afterwards.


Cocoa Beans
Raw Sugar Cane
Whole Milk Powder
Cocoa Butter
Gorse Flowers

My only question is why did you have to use such a good quality chocolate that ends up being masked by such a strong flavour. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed it and so did everybody else who was lucky enough to try a piece.

Reasonably priced at £3.95 per 70g. To buy click here.

Silly Old Egg Tart!
More like the surface of the moon!

In theory, an egg tart, should be one of the simplest things to make from my limited culinary perspective. 

However, attempting a new recipe from the BBC Good Food website on Christmas Eve with two additional and enthusiastic kitchen assistants was a recipe for disaster. The writing was already on the pastry! 

My calamitous kitchen episode can be avoided by closely following this recipe. 


140g butter, chilled and diced
250g plain flour
zest 1 lemon
100g caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp whole milk

For the custard

250ml double cream
250ml milk
1 vanilla pod, split
1 strip lemon zest
whole nutmeg
8 egg yolks
100g caster sugar


To make the pastry, rub the butter into the flour with the lemon zest and a pinch of salt until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, egg and milk and bring together to form a dough. This can be made 2 days in advance.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry out and use it to line a 20cm tart tin, leave 2cm of pastry hanging over the edge. Chill for 30 mins.

Heat oven to 180C/160C fan. Line the case with baking beans, bake blind for 20 minutes, then remove the beans and continue to cook for a further 20 minutes until the base is biscuity. Remove from oven and reduce the temperature to 140C/120C fan.

Bring the cream, milk, vanilla pod, lemon zest and a small grating of nutmeg to the boil. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until pale, then pour the hot milk and cream over, beating as you go.

Strain custard into a jug, allow to settle for a few minutes, then skim off any froth. Don’t forget to do this part of the recipe! Otherwise your egg tart will have a surface skin not unlike the surface of the moon!

Carefully pour the custard into the tart case, grate some more nutmeg over the top and bake for 40 minutes or until just set with the very slightest wobble in the middle. Remove from the oven, trim the pastry edges off, then leave to cool completely before serving in slices with a grating more of nutmeg.
Got it cracked!

Well, the good news is that it certainly tasted better than it looked and I would probably reduce the sugar by 20g next time.

Pineapple Christmas Fruit Cake

Ho Ho Ho!

Tis the season to be jolly and so it should be with this simple, last minute, Christmas Cake. For those who are a little bit behind with their Christmas organisation pop this in the oven whilst throwing up the Christmas tree…its that easy! 

This recipe has been handed down through the generations hence why the measurements are in old and new weights. To be honest I’ve only just got used to decimal currency. 

This recipe uses light brown sugar as opposed to dark brown sugar which you would find in a rich fruit cake recipe and there is no treacle. So, probably not one for the purists!


10 oz (283g) Mixed dried fruit
2 oz (57g) Glace cherries (chopped)
4 oz (113g) Butter
8 oz Light soft brown sugar
1 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
14oz (396g) Crushed pineapple
8oz (226g) Self raising flour
2 Eggs
Pecans halves
Glace Cherries – red and yellow
Prunes – ready to eat
Apricots – ready to eat
2 tbs Apricot Jam sieved


Put all ingredients except flour and eggs into a saucepan and slowly bring to the boil and simmer. 

Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and then allow to cool.

Grease and line a 3 lb loaf tin or an 8″ round tin with greaseproof paper, double lined. Some people will wrap their tins in newspaper to stop cake from burning

Heat oven to 170 degrees C.

Beat the eggs into the cooled boiled mixture followed by the sifted flour
Spoon into the tin and level off
Bake for 1 hour, then cover with two layers of foil and bake for a further 50 minutes to 1 hour. 
Test with a skewer, which will come out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake.

Allow cake to cool completely. Brush the top liberally with some of the jam and arrange the fruits. Brush with more apricot jam and tie a decorative ribbon around the edge. Voila! My job here is done…..

Organic Matcha Green Tea Brownies
Organic Matcha Green Tea

Organic Matcha Green Tea Brownies.

The lovely people at KissMeOrganics invited me to try some of their Organic Matcha green tea powder in a recipe or two. 

So, with the help of the internet I found some interesting recipes including products such as Okara which I have not come across before. 

I’ve altered my recipe so you do not have to search the stores form Okara. This is a pulp consisting of insoluble parts of the soybean which remains after pureed soybeans are filtered in the production of soy milk and tofu…..after that description I’m probably glad its not in my store cupboard. But, have no fear this recipe can still be made without the missing Okara.


225g White chocolate (Dominican Republic)

150g Butter
3 Eggs
105g Caster sugar
1.5 tablespoon of rum
75g of plain flour
A Pinch of salt
1.5 tspn of baking powder
75g Pecan nuts
15g Almonds
15g of Matcha powder (from KissMeOrganics)
30g Icing sugar

According to KissMeOrganics, Matcha tea, has some hidden health properties. Not only is it certified organic but provides additional energy and helps to boost our metabolism. Matcha tea has been around for thousands of years and 


Whisk eggs and sugar
  1. Heat oven to 100 degrees centigrade and toast pecans.
  2. Butter and line a tin (18cm x 27cm) with greaseproof paper 
  3. Melt the chocolate and butter in bowl using a water bath. Do not overheat the chocolate.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together the eggs and sugar. Beat them well until thick and cloud like – see picture.
  5. Add salt and rum to the whisked mixture.
  6. Combine flour, baking powder and Matcha powder. Sieve and mix well.
  7. Combine with melted butter and chocolate, mix well.
  8. Stir in pecans and almonds
  9. Bake for about 30-35 minutes in a pre-heated fan oven 160 degrees C.
    Stir in the Pecans and Almonds
  11. Sprinkle icing sugar on top before serving hot with ice cream.
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Organic Matcha Green Tea Brownies

The finished article! The matcha tea is not overpowering and the finished article is very light and sweet, the pecans add a good crunch. A moist cake rather than brownie in my opinion but none the less delicious. Looking forward to enjoying it with some ice cream! To buy your Matcha powder click here.

Cacao and Maca Organic Bar
Cacao and Maca Organic Bar

Cacao and Maca Organic Bar, sounds like it will do me the world of good especially as we’re entering flu jab season and merry xmas, runny, snotty nose time. Isn’t it compulsory for anybody over the age of 50 to be pricked by nursey? Well, you know what I mean… 

LoveRaw is a Superfood company based in Cambridgeshire founded by former investment banker, Rimi, who found inspiration on her travels to Andalucia, Spain. Whilst visiting the many farmers markets she discovered organic foods and a healthier way of life.  LoveRaw cater for a growing band  of consumers who want to enjoy products free of gluten, dairy, wheat and soya.
Coldpressed – Juice Tonic

As I recently discovered on a tour of Soho all strip joints have been replaced by ‘coldpressed’ juice bars. Everythings Naked with Energy Balls……so, no change there! Apparently, these artisan juice bars are all the rage amongst young, trendy and wealthy clientele who have deep pockets and want to keep their complexions sans spots and crater free for years to come. Coldpressed basically means that all the good stuff your body needs is extracted at low temperatures without destroying them. You can spend £6.00 for a bottle of cocoa goodness from Juice Tonic. Leaves your wallet feeling slightly under the weather but you’ll feel like you’ve discovered the elixir of life. Ok, getting back to the main attraction LoveRaw have applied the same principle and slow dry at 38 degrees C keeping food at its optimal nutritional value.

Not only is this bar good for those people who suffer from allergies but it may also help boost their dwindling sex drive. Nothing sells like sex. Maca Root, looking not unlike a small sugar beet, hails from South America and allegedly has the ability to improve your libido. The only down side is you have to be careful how much Maca you use. 

It all sounds wonderful but how does it taste? When opening the packet there is a strong malty aroma running thick with dates which just happens to be the main ingredient.
Did you hear about this great bar?

The texture is dry and crumbly with a nutty crunch provided by almonds and cashews. Within the mix you’ll find Ecuadorian raw cacao and raw cacao nuts with only naturally occurring sugars. As this was my first time I wasn’t disappointed but I’m not sure I’ll swap my chocolate bar overnight for a bit of LoveRaw just yet.  A box of 12 will cost you £29.88 or £2.49 for 48g.