Parisian Hot Chocolate – “Chocolat Chaud”

“YO YO, make yourself a wicked cup of COCOA…”

Happy first of November! I don’t know about you – and I’ve definitely seen a few people talking about it over on Twitter and Instagram – but as soon as the clocks go back and Halloween hits, it feels like time suddenly puts pedal to the metal and zooms right on through all the celebrations from now until the New Year. We don’t get a break! Bonfire Night, Thanksgiving (if you’re American), Christmas, New Year – bam, bam, bam! There are loads of birthdays in my family this time of year too – from my husband (who’s hitting a ripe old age tomorrow) to my brother, and then on to me! Oh, and then there’s the General Election (*groan* and that’s about as much as I’m going to comment about it on here). With all that rushing around in the weeks ahead, it’s definitely important to steal a few quiet moments when you can just to chill and stop your head spinning for a bit. And my preferred method is definitely stealing away with a slab of chocolate, a hot drink and a good book or magazine.

While I’m most definitely a tea fanatic, I do love the odd hot chocolate this time of year – and usually in the evening. But let’s be clear, we’re not talking about the powdered stuff you reach for in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep – the stuff we’re talking about is made with real chocolate and is basically the great granddaughter of the so-called “Drink of the Gods” that all the nobility were obsessed with in the 18th century.  It was brought over to Europe by the Spanish Conquistador Cortés and it became so popular so quickly (once they’d sweetened it with a little sugar) that it was even served up during the auto-da-fé of the Spanish Inquisition, and women became so obsessed with it that they insisted on swigging it during church! Lots of those Spanish noblewomen ended up marrying French noblemen and so the obsession spread. Parisian Hot Chocolate (“Chocolat Chaud”) is much thicker, and much richer than your regular cup of cocoa (yo yo), and pours into the cup like lava. It’s literally melted chocolate that you can drink. It’s so easy to make; too easy in fact, especially given that the traditional recipe calls for both whole milk and double cream before you even get around to adding in the chocolate. My recipe is a slightly skinnier version and uses just three ingredients, but it’s just as dreamy as the original and makes enough for two large cups (or four small taster cups). Even better, flask it up and take it along with you on bonfire night! Once you’ve cracked the base recipe, you can get creative adding flavoured syrups and spices – or even give it a go using different types of chocolate. 🙂

Parisian Hot Chocolate – “Chocolat Chaud”

You’ll never drink the instant stuff again (and you’re going to hate me for it)…
Ingredients
  • 450ml skimmed milk
  • 150ml double cream
  • 150g of whatever chocolate you fancy (I really like Dark Milk Chocolate for this recipe; it’s got a higher cocoa content and so isn’t too sweet, but still has that creamy taste you’d expect from a bar of milk chocolate.)
  • Serve with a dollop of whipped cream if you’re feeling fancy – or just enjoy as is.
Method
  1. This recipe is so easy it should be criminal. First, pour the skimmed milk and double cream into a saucepan and then crank up the heat, stirring gently until you start to see small bubbles forming around the outside. Whatever you do, you don’t want the mixture to boil – so as soon as you start to see those bubbles, turn the heat down as low as you can.
  2. Next, throw in your chocolate and stir until it’s completely melted into the milk and cream mixture.
  3. Pour into cups and enjoy! It’s that easy! 😉

Have a cosy weekend guys, it’s going to be a gloomy one! 🙂

Roasted Butternut Curry

The cosiest curry you’ll ever make…
Roasted Butternut Squash Curry - The Cardiff Cwtch

How many pairs of boots is too many, would you say? Especially for someone living in Wales where on the rainy scale it’s anywhere from mildly damp to soaked through to your knickers soggy for at least 9 months of the year. I’ve got three pairs and according to my husband, that’s two pairs too many. Oh, and that’s not including the wellies (whole other category, I think you’ll agree) that I trudge around in every single day on the dog walk. I mean, they’re an Autumn staple right? They’re brilliant because they’re easy; throw on a pair and you’re good to go. No fuss, no muss. And you know you’re going to need at least a few different pairs bashing around at the bottom of your cupboard to cover every single weather situation and occasion that Autumn/Winter slings at you. I mean, they’re kind of the fashion equivalent of a slow cooker or casserole recipe; cosy, reliable, minimal effort.

It’s about that time of year that – along with your boots – you’re probably fishing out your favourite crock pot out of the back of the cupboard (hopefully you don’t keep both in the same cupboard, that would be weird…). Friendly reminder; the clocks are going back this weekend, and yep, it’s the good one. You know, the one where you get an extra hour in bed on Sunday. The one where you utter the words, “Bloody hell, it’s really dark outside” when you tune into the new Attenborough documentary at six-ish (…Honestly, the penguin episode of last year’s offering almost broke me – I don’t know whether I can handle a second helping…). The one where you realise that the extra hour was actually totally pointless when you wake up an hour too soon on Monday morning. Pfft. It’s going to start getting a lot gloomier in the evenings and – like me – I’m sure you’re going to start hunting down a few easy, one pot, just “bung it in the oven” kind of recipes to see you through the winter.

I love a good curry this time of year, but honestly? Sometimes I just can’t be bothered with all that faffing around on the hob cooking it up. Well, here’s a way to whip up a very simple, very tasty veggie curry in the oven (or the slow cooker, if you’ve got one). 🙂

Easy One Pot Roasted Curry - The Cardiff Cwtch

Roasted Butternut Curry

Creamy and warming, the perfect curry for a cosy night in…
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp of garlic paste
  • 2 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 300g butternut squash chunks (I LOVE Strong Roots’ bag of frozen roasted butternut squash)
  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • fresh coriander to serve
  • salt and pepper to season
Roast Butternut Curry - The Cardiff Cwtch
  1. First, grab a casserole or roasting dish and set your oven to 160°C. Pour the vegetable oil into the dish, along with the garlic and ginger paste, ground coriander, cumin, garam masala, turmeric and curry powder. Mix it all together to make a paste.
  2. Pour in the chopped tomatoes and chilli flakes, and then stir everything together to create the curry sauce. Next, throw in the butternut squash chunks, sliced onion and diced pepper, and then stir well to coat them with the sauce.
  3. Pop the dish in the oven and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Take the dish from the oven and pour in the coconut milk – stirring until everything is well-combined. Season with salt and pepper, then return the dish to the oven to cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Scatter with chopped, fresh coriander and serve with basmati rice. 🙂
Winter Butternut Squash Curry - The Cardiff Cwtch

Seriously, how many pairs of boots is too many? I’m curious! Have a great weekend! 🙂

Apple Pie Cake

It’s right about this time of year that my blood starts turning to into custard because – oh yeah – it’s finally getting cold enough to scoff puddings and pies again!  I love pies, but when it comes to custard?  Meh, I’m more of a hot, strawberry blancmange kinda girl  if I’m being totally honest (I’m an 80s kid through and through, okay?).  Sunny, on the other hand, is an absolute super fan who likes to drown his desserts in the stuff and would happily drink it on its own if I let him 😉  When it comes to the dessert itself, he does love a good old apple pie or crumble but would probably admit that at the end of the day they’re just a vehicle for the custard, and as for me I get a bit bored baking the same old apple dishes every year.  So, I’ve been on a mission to come up with an apple pie that’s so damn good it upstages the custard.

Enter the apple pie cake.  There’s no crust, just a fluffy, moist sponge, with juicy, cinnamon-spiced apples and it be eaten either hot or cold – unlike old humble apple pie.  I adapted the recipe from the fantastic buttermilk plum cake I baked over the summer and came up with a keeper.  🙂

Apple Pie Cake

Ingredients

  • 3 Apples of any variety (I used Pink Lady), peeled, cored and thinly sliced into segments.
  • Juice of Half a Lemon
  • 125g Butter
  • 175g Caster Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 100g Plain Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 50g Ground Almonds
  • 100ml Buttermilk
  1. Boil your apple segments in lemon juice and water until they’re just soft enough for a knife to pierce them, then leave to cool.
  2. Set your oven to 170° and grease a 20cm open bottom cake tin.  Sprinkle with a little flour and then set aside.
  3. In your mixing bowl, cream together the butter and 125g of the sugar.  Stir in the egg.
  4. In a separate bowl sift together most of the dry ingredients; that’s the flour, baking powder, ground almonds and 1 tsp of cinnamon.  Combine with the wet ingredients.
  5. Stir in the buttermilk to make a light batter.
  6. Pour the batter into your cake tin and smooth over the surface.  Arrange the apples on top in a spiral starting about a centimeter away from the edge of the tin.  Make sure you overlap them so that when the cake rises in the oven you’re not left with any gaps.
  7. Before you pop the cake in the oven sprinkle over the remaining sugar and teaspoon of cinnamon.  Bake for 50 minutes and then serve up warm with custard or ice cream.  Add some toffee sauce to turn it into a toffee apple cake!

I honestly don’t think I’ll be baking any apple pies this year, it’ll just be this cake over and over and over again.  If you want to see me making it, check out my IGTV for the recipe in video form.