Baking: Chocolate Eclairs

I've watched The Great British Bake Off from the very beginning and this week my love has been rekindled with The Great Comic Relief Bake Off.

One of the tasks Paul and Mary set the celebrities this week were chocolate eclairs. I've always wanted to try out making choux pastry and I love chocolate eclairs, so I headed for the kitchen.

I found this recipe by Raymond Blanc, I'm normally a bit dubious about online recipes but as it's Raymond Blanc I decided there's no chance it could fail.

First up was making the choux pastry. This was no were near as hard as I thought it would be, choux seems to have gained a reputation for being difficult but don't let that put you off!

It's simply a case of putting the water, milk, butter, sugar and salt into a saucepan and stirring it over a high heat until it comes to the boil. Once it's come to the boil, quickly remove from the heat and immediately add in the flour and stir until it's smooth.

You should end up with something like this, ta-da!

Next up, just gradually pour the four eggs, which you should have already beaten, into your mix and once again whisk together until it's smooth. 

Easy so far! Wait for this to cool and then scoop your mixture into a piping bag with a 1.5cm nozzle. Pipe your mixture, roughly 15cm long in length, onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Make sure you leave enough space between each as they're going to grow! 

25-30 minutes later in the oven and they'll look a bit like this....

This is your chance to take a break and make a cup of tea whilst they cool. Then it's time to make them taste yummy.

The recipe said to fill them with creme patissiere, but as I had some cream which needed using and being short of time I just filled them with cream.
Apologies for the dreadful picture.

Personally, I don't like it when they're cut down the side as it makes them super messy to eat. Therefore I cut a line down the topside and filled them using another piping bag. The plan being I can then cover the cut with chocolate!

Now this was the part of the recipe I was a bit dubious about as it involves melting fondant. Although once again Raymond Blanc pulled through and it all went well.

Once again really easy, just melting the fondant in a pan and then adding the cocoa powder and water. As you can see from the picture, be careful because the chocolate can catch, so I'd advise taking it off the heat when you add the chocolate. 

Next up, dunk the eclair into the chocolate and you're done! You might want to heat up the chocolate mix a bit if you're a slow worker like me, as it does start to set. 

Here's the result! 

Also, don't forget to buy your Emma Bridgewater Comic Relief apron!
Currently sold out online, but available from TK Maxx and Homesense stores.

Winter Warmers

As many of you will already know, we've had A LOT of snow in the UK this week. I adore the snow so this is my idea of perfect weather, but I know the majority of people don't agree with me! I thought I'd put together a few of my favourite bits and bobs I've been enjoying this week to share with you.

Left: Original Tall in Chocolate Right: Original Tall in Aubergine

First up are my Hunter Boots. I got my first pair of Hunters this Christmas and they have definitely had their moneys worth already. Normally when the weather gets cold I immediately go for my Uggs, as does every other girl, but when the snow gets this deep wellies are always the best option.
I know lots of people might think £79 is a bit pricey for a pair of wellies, but I know that personally I will get the use out of them all year round. After all I live in the UK, so when it's not snowing it's normally raining. They're also very long lasting, my Mum had her first pair of Hunters when she was my age, and 20+ years later she's only just had to buy her second. Hunter have also bought out a snow range, a bit more pricey than a standard pair at £99, but they have a really thick sole, perfect for walking in snow, ice, and slush. 

Next up are the Monin Coffee Syrup Set by Costa. Not a winter warmer in itself, but I've been adding them to my hot chocolate which makes it taste extra yummy. I really love the hazelnut flavour but gingerbread is the winner in my house. I'm not quite sure where to buy these from as they were a Christmas present, but I'm going to assume you can pick them up in bigger Costa stores. I had a quick google and you seem to be able to pick them up for under £10 on eBay too. I'm also excited as you can pick up the individual hazelnut syrups in Waitrose

I got this lovely hot water bottle for Christmas, yet another item to add to my ever growing Cath Kidston collection. It's such a cute print and much needed in this cold weather, and I'm sure I'll appreciate it even more when I'm back at university. I can no longer find this on the Cath Kidston website, but the Cath Kidston website is worth a look at anyway as there's always lovely things and bound to be something that catches your eye.

Cherries on Snow by Yankee Candle is definitely up there on my favourite Yankee Candle scents. I love the smell of cherries and this fragrance seems very apt considering the current weather. I bought this in the medium size, which has a 65-90 hour burning time, which justifies paying £16.99 for a candle if you ask me, along with the fact it smells gorgeous. Cherries on Snow is currently in the sale on their website, so rush on over there if you want to smell it for yourself.

So they're the few Winter Warmers I've been enjoying for the past week of snow, I'd love to hear what things you all enjoy when you're cooped up in the warm.

Book Review: The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

I've just finished reading the much talked about 'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower'. I wasn't really sure what to expect from this, all I knew was the Emma Watson was in the film version and that everyone is obsessed with the quote "And in that moment, I swear we were infinite".

I can't really say it lived up to its expectations. It wasn't a bad book by any means, just it wasn't a real page turner for me. It reminded me an awful lot of 'The Catcher in the Rye' which a lot of people seem to agree with, after reading some other reviews on the book. I read The Catcher in the Rye this time last year and wasn't a fan so I don't know why I expected anything different from this.

I also have no idea why everyone is so enamoured by the quotes which appear in this book. The internet (well, mainly Tumblr) seem to be reciting "We accept the love we think we deserve" and "In that moment, I swear we were infinite" at any given chance, but maybe I just don't appreciate them as I'm not a 15 year old hipster. Although so I don't come across as a completely cynical 20 year old I did really like this quote:

"So, I looked up, and we were in this giant dome like a glass snowball, and Mark said that the amazing white stars were really only holes in the black glass of the dome, and when you went to heaven, the glass broke away, and there was nothing but a whole sheet of star white, which is brighter than anything but doesn’t hurt your eyes. It was vast and open and thinly quiet, and I felt so small."

I feel I've been a bit harsh so far, as I said it's not a bad book, just not my cup of tea. I'd recommend it if someone was a huge fan of CITR or just wanted a quick and easy read as it's only 231 pages long. I'm sure a lot of people could really relate to some of the characters in the book too, and it contains some quite strong topics such as sex, drugs, sexuality, mental health issues and domestic abuse. 

I still really want to see the film, mainly because I'm a huge fan of Emma Watson, and I think it's one of those books which will come across well on screen, which reminds me that I still need to watch the film version of One Day. So that's my opinion, more of a rant than a review I think but there we go.

On a final note, am I the only person who hates the "NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE" covers of books? 

A New Beginning

I've been toying with the idea of starting a blog for quite a few months now and tonight I decided to bite the bullet and go for it.

I attempted to start a blog 4 years ago but promptly failed. Therefore I'm resurrecting this blog and hopefully will be a lot more dedicated than just the one (cringeworthy) first post I made back in 2009.

Wish me luck!