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My Golden Pear

Tuesday, 24 September 2013


Six weeks since I lasted posted on my blog! - how did that happen? 
We did have a couple of weeks in France which was really lovely and very relaxing.  Lots of wine, good food, sun and sea does make for a good holiday.  It was straight back into real life once we got back with the kids back at school.  Kirsty, my youngest started 'big school' which was so exciting for her but much harder for me.  I do miss having her around the house but she is so happy at school and her brother is loving his role as big brother and all round protector.  On top of the kids being at school all day, my hubby was away on a business trip so the house was exceptionally quiet.  On the plus side, the house was also exceptionally clean, tidy and organised which is probably the first time that has happened in the last 7 years. 
To save me having to cook every night while my hubby was away, I made up a big pot of this lovely, rich French onion soup with onions and garlic all the way from France. 
 Curled up on the couch, bowl of soup in hand, pile of recipe books at the ready and just peace and quiet -
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
Yield: 4 small bowls or 2 very generous bowls
  • 2 tblsps olive oil
  • 25g butter
  • 5 onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • sprig of thyme
  • 1 litre beef stock
  • 2 tblsps balsamic vinegar
  • 250ml red wine
  • 1 French baguette
  • 250g Gruyere cheese, grated
Cooking Directions
  1. Melt the olive oil and butter together in a large pot.
  2. When hot, add the sliced onions and cook on a high heat until just starting to brown.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for 25 minutes or until the bottom of the pan and the onions are nice and brown.
  4. Add the chopped garlic and thyme leaves for the last 5 minutes.
  5. Add the beef stock, vinegar and red wine, stirring well to remove all the sediment from the bottom of the pan.
  6. Bring back to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for a further 20 minutes.
  7. Season to taste.
  8. Just before serving: slice the baguette into 1cm slices and brush lightly with olive oil on both sides.
  9. Toast both sides under the grill.
  10. Top one side with grated cheese and place under the grill again to melt the cheese.
  11. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and place the cheesy toast on the top.
  12. Serve immediately.  

Written by : Angela Darroch

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Wednesday, 14 August 2013


Normally I do my blogging on a Thursday or Friday when I'm at home by myself.  Not so this month as both kids are at home on holiday.  They are both quite good at entertaining themselves but nevertheless it is still just a bit more hectic than usual.  I had a small window of opportunity this morning before I had to take the kids to swimming lessons and thought I would quickly rustle up these delicious little treats of avocado and chocolate truffles.  All went to plan - kids playing contentedly outside while I played with melted chocolate and dusty cocoa powder inside.  That was until the kids popped their heads indoors and spied the bowls of melted chocolate.  By this time I was taking my photographs and was quite engrossed in what I was doing and gave a few vague nods when asked if they could lick the bowls.  Kids quiet - I carried on with my photos.  Most of my photos are taken next to an open door in the dining room and what I hadn't realised was how windy it was today.  Dusty cocoa powder sprinkled over a board with a gust of wind equals dusty cocoa powder all over cream floor tiles.  By this time I'm starting to watch the clock so no time to clean up.  Another dusting of cocoa powder is added to my board and off we go.  Kids run outside - barefoot - through the cocoa powder.  Next time I looked at the clock we had exactly 10 minutes to get ready.   The kids were called in from the garden only for me to discover they were covered in chocolate and cocoa powder. A quick wipe over, toilet check and we were out the door in 10 minutes. I patted myself on the back for arriving on time, got the kids changed, another toilet check and made our way out to the pool past the wash hand basin with the mirror placed conveniently above it.  What! What did I just see?  I stepped back to take another look in the mirror and was horrified to find that I had a generous helping of cocoa powder on my face and through my hair. "Why didn't you tell me?" I shrieked at the kids.  "Well, you always look like that" was the response.  There is not much you can say to that.  I found myself a little corner and hoped nobody would notice as I sat and picked and wiped away chocolate from head to foot.  
 Reminiscent of watching a chimp in a zoo, I'm sure.

I first came across the idea of combining chocolate and avocado from one of my favourite blogs, Strands of My Life.  I have adapted Suzanne's cupcake topping slightly by adding the melted chocolate to make a lovely rich truffle mixture which is much healthier that the traditional full cream version.  The only downside to using avocado is that the mixture doesn't keep for very long - a couple of days at the most. 
Oh well - I'd better eat up.

Chocolate Avocado Truffles

Prep time: 30 minutes (includes resting time)
Cook time: n/a
Total time: 30 minutes (includes resting time)

Yield: 14 small truffles

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 60ml cocoa powder
  • 60ml honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 150g good quality dark chocolate
Cooking Directions
  1. Melt half (75g) of the chocolate in a microwave or over a pan of boiling water.
  2. Remove the flesh from the avocado and place in a small food processor.
  3. Add the melted chocolate, cocoa powder, honey and vanilla essence and blend to a smooth consistency. (**Note** make sure to taste at this stage.  You should not be able to taste the avocado and if you do you will need to adjust the amount of chocolate you are using.  It will all depend on the size and variety of avocado you use.)
  4. Place in a shallow dish and refrigerate for 20 minutes or until mixture is firm enough to handle.
  5. Just before removing the mixture from the fridge, melt the remaining chocolate as before.
  6. Using a teaspoon take enough mixture and roll between your hands to form a ball. You might find it easier to dust your hands with some additional cocoa powder to stop the mixture sticking to your hands.
  7. Dip in the melted chocolate and place on a baking tray which has been lined with baking paper,
  8. Decorate with sea salt flakes, chilli or drizzle with white chocolate.
  9. Refrigerate to set completely.

This is my entry for this month's We Should Cocoa which is run by Chocolate Log Blog and Chocolate Teapot.  This month Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary has challenged us to make small chocolates or truffles.

Written by: Angela Darroch

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Saturday, 10 August 2013


I woke up yesterday to the news that there was a family wedding taking place that very afternoon.  Now this wasn't your normal kind of wedding that takes 12 months to organise.  No this one had to be done in a day!  The bride, aka Puzzy and the groom, aka Fuzzy are bears that live with us and no they are not real bears - that's right - we were hosting a wedding for two stuffed bears.  My six year old son loves detail so I knew this would be a well thought out wedding.  I was right.  He made a red carpet out of cardboard which was the length of the living room floor.  All the other soft toys were laid out as guests.  A small lavender sachet became the ring cushion upon which lay a jewel any girl would be proud of.  The bride had a gorgeous fuchsia pink veil attached to her ears with clothes pegs.  The fact that she wore nothing else did not seem to concern neither my son nor my daughter.  The groom had a paper kilt made for him with a sgian-dubh attached to the front.  This was worn in typical Simon Cowell fashion - up round the armpits and again with no other clothes.  Super Monkey was brought in as the priest wearing only red briefs and a red cape.  Music was by Coldplay. 
My job in all this was Head of Catering.  The Groom requested chocolate cake and the bride wanted raspberries.  I thought I would go the extra mile and made some chocolate cupcases which once the cake was baked I placed into the chocolate cases and then decorated with cream and raspberries.
I also thought long and hard about a gift for the couple and so while all the preparations were taking place I made up this cute little cupcake holder in the shape of an oven.
I can't imagine many brides who wouldn't want a brand new pink oven to start off her new life of married bliss. 
This also leads me nicely into the fab competition which is being run by Rangecookers.co.uk.  All you have to do is make and blog about a cupcake to win a Select 90 dual fuel range cooker in stainless steel.  Now I may pretend to care what two stuffed bears would like for their wedding but in reality I'm thinking of a gorgeous new oven for myself.  Selfish, I know.
Anyway, back to the wedding.  The day was a great success - the bears are off on honeymoon to the Isle of Toyland, the kids had great fun, and I enjoyed watching the creativity that every 6 and 4 year old should be allowed to express.
If you would like to make these gorgeous, deliciously moist, fresh chocolate cupcakes served in their own edible chocolate cupcases and drizzled with tangy raspberry sauce (yes I really do want to win that oven) then here is the recipe ...

Chocolate & Raspberry Cream Cupcakes

For the printable version - click here

  • 65g butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 egg
  • 70g raspberry jam
  • 25g self raising flour
  • 70g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 80 ml buttermilk
  • 250 ml whipping cream
  • 2 tsps icing sugar
  • raspberries for decoration
  • raspberry sauce for decoration
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C, (350F).
  2. Beat together the butter, caster sugar and vanilla essence until light and creamy.
  3. Add the egg and beat well.
  4. Add the jam and beat until smooth.
  5. Fold in sifted flours, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa alternately with the buttermilk until nice and smooth.
  6. Spoon mixture into cupcake cases and bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the centre.
  7. Leave cakes to cool completely before decorating.
  8. Whip cream and icing sugar together until thick.
  9. Pipe cream onto cakes and decorate with fresh raspberries and raspberry sauce.
  Notes : I served these cupcakes in edible chocolate cases which I made by melting chocolate and coating silicone moulds before placing in the freezer to set.  Once set, peel off the moulds and keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
I made the raspberry sauce by blitzing fresh raspberries with a touch of lemon juice and icing sugar to taste and then passing through a sieve to remove any seeds.

 Written by: Angela Darroch



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