Thursday, 30 October 2014

[GUEST POST] - Top Tips To Keep Your Kitchen Clean While Baking


Top Tips To Keep Your Kitchen Clean While Baking


Credit: flickr

No-one could accuse me of being a cleaning angel. I’m more likely to emerge from the kitchen in a cloud of plain flour and with chocolate sauce smeared over my face (nothing to do with licking the bowl, of course), than I am with a perfectly spotless apron and smelling lemon fresh from scrubbing the worktops. Normally, after I’ve finished baking, it looks like someone has thrown a hand grenade into the kitchen, but I am trying to mend my ways. Here are some great hacks that I’ve picked up -just between us baking sinners.

Garbage Bowl

I can’t recommend this enough. The garbage bowl is a godsend. Everyone has a mammoth-sized mixing bowl in their cupboards – keep this on the side for rubbish or organic materials ready for the compost. This avoids the dreaded pyramid piles of potato skins and pepper seeds dotted around the work surfaces.

Measure Over The Sink

Invariably, with the time pressures of baking, you are going to spill all sorts of substances over your counters, whether that’s sticky honey or renegade sugar. Think of your sink as a great buffer against collateral damage. Whatever is spilled can be easily rinsed away. Appliance House has made a great guide on how to take care of your sink - whatever the type - so you can take care of your sink, once your baked goods are in the oven.

Take Your Time

Set aside time to cook, turn on the radio, pour a generous glass of wine and relax. When you’re rushing, you’re more likely to make messy mistakes, but if you take your time, you can organise your cooking space more efficiently and effectively. Cooking can be a surprisingly therapeutic experience when you slow down the pace and let yourself enjoy it. Check out this great article by the BBC, describing how baking can be beneficial to mental health and relaxation.

Clean Your Work Surfaces First

You only need to worry about the mess you create, if you whip around and make sure your kitchen is clean before you start. It’ll also give you an incentive to be as tidy as possible. Besides, who likes to cook in a kitchen with last night’s curry encrusted on the work surfaces? Yuck.

Pick Up Quickly

Miscellaneous objects end up on the floor, rather than neatly chopped up on the side (I’m thinking of pistachio nuts whizzing across the room). It’s tempting to ignore these bits of detritus, but they can really litter the floor (besides, you might step in them). Get in the habit of stopping what you’re doing to pick up bits of food and put them in the bin.

Clean As You Go

Once your baked goods are in the oven, use this time to clean up your mess. It’s easy to stay anchored to the kitchen when you need to keep checking on your cookies, so put on your favourite tunes and pull on those marigolds.

Flexible Cutting Mat

Trying to slide a massive-wooden-cutting-board’s worth of vegetables into a pan is no easy task. Half of it always seems to fall down the side of the oven, no matter how hard you try. If you use a flexible cutting mat (like these handy ones from Lakeland), you can use this as a funnel to seamlessly slide your vegetables into the pot!

Do you have a secret recipe for keeping your kitchen clean? Send us your cleaning hacks to @ChocMission

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

[Halloween 2014 Special] - Guess the chocolate

You guys know we aren't big Halloween fans but that hasn't stopped us indulging in some Halloween themed chocolate goodies.

Lets have a little fun then .... can you name this chocolate treat below ....




If you know what it is tweet us your answer @ChocMission - we will let you know what it is on Thursday!

A little clue .... this is the sort of snack you would expect to find at the likes of @AmericanSoda ;)

Monday, 27 October 2014

October 27th: Guylian Vanilla


Kcal 628 Fat 48.0g Fat(sats) 29.0g Carbs 42.0g (per 100.0g)

It's been over four years since we last reviewed a Guylian product but we recently stumbled across a few new flavours of their's in a local discounter store. Guylian have never been a brand we've been all that in love with but we do admit they have a unique style with their seahorse designs and there are very few brands that offer such good looking chocolates at their affordable prices. Today we tried out their new Guylian Vanilla truffles.

We bought these Guylian Vanilla truffles in a box of 8 that weighed 70.0g in its entirety. On the packaging the truffles came described as 'Belgium chocolates filled with white chocolate cream and vanilla'. As we said above presentation and style has always been a strong point of the Guylian brand and there was little change here. The box looked very stylish with it's front panel opening up via a side hinge to reveal a plastic tray with the truffles inside.


Looks wise the truffles looked fantastic. Both milk and white chocolate designs had enticing looking fillings and the signature seahorse moulds had their usual sleekness. Taste wise we couldn't really pick a favourite of the two as they near enough generated the same experience. The white chocolate truffles started with a greater milkyness and the milk chocolate more of a cocoa emphasis. What was similar about them both was that by the time the fillings had melted away we could only say we could detect a minor, mild additional note of vanilla essence we thought was just lacking a little zip. Because of this we thought they didn't offer a totally satisfying chocolate truffles experience.

Overall these Guylian Vanilla weren't bad truffles by any stretch of the imagination but we didn't think they were a well rounded total package. On the face of things they look great, are a fair price and hardly taste bad, however if it is a really rich chocolate truffle you are after these are not a proposition you want to be considering. It's the actual vanilla element that is a little lacking and whilst it isn't fake or artificial tasting in any manner it just doesn't cut it as a compelling filling. These won't be breaking your bank balance but probably not worth going out your way to buy.

7.2 out of 10


Friday, 24 October 2014

October 24th: Nestle Toffee Crisp Sharing Block


Kcal 539 Fat 32.0g Fat(sats) 19.3g Carbs 57.4g (per 100.0g)

Long time ChocolateMission readers will be aware that the Nestle Toffee Crisp is one of our all time favourite UK mass produced chocolate bars. Since we first reviewed the original bar back in 2008 (See HERE) we seen many different Toffee Crisp spin-off products including Mini Bites and Clusters. To the surprise of no one in our team Nestle have now introduced the Toffee Crisp brand to their Sharing Block range - today we got to give it a try.

The Nestle Toffee Crisp Sharing Block comes in a 115.0g size that is split into five two block serving sizes. The wrapper is very distinctive with the bright orange Toffee Crisp branding clearly standing out on the shelf when placed next to some of the more conservatively coloured chocolate bar wrappers. Out of it's plastic packet confines the bar looked great with the filling very generously portioned with rice cereal and caramel and toffee filling all clearly visible.


Breaking the blocks apart the filling managed to avoid spilling out due to the sticky toffee sauce at the centre of each piece. The outer milk chocolate neither exceeded or failed to meet expectations. It was standard Nestle milk chocolate fair - sweet, milky but with enough cocoa flavours for a decent enough chocolatey flavour hit. The bar really came into it's own though with the filling which more than held it's end of the bargain. Flavours of toffee, butter, cereal and sugary caramel all came to the fore with gooey, crunchy textures all on offer. Compared to a standard bar a serving was as satisfying but those looking for more of a moderated Toffee Crisp experience should be left feeling content.

Overall we needn't say much more but confirm this Nestle Toffee Crisp Sharing Block gets a big @ChocMission thumbs up. As we noted above the bar isn't as substantial as a standard Toffee Crisp bar but if you are happy with the smaller serving size you will no doubt be left very happy with this bar here. Fans of Toffee Crisp you should definitely get involved with this sharing block bar. The only thing you might want to consider is whether you really want to be sharing it.

8.0 out of 10


Wednesday, 22 October 2014

October 22nd: Halloween is coming ....


And as usual here on @ChocMission we won't be celebrating at all :) :) :) 

Anyone who has been reading the site for a few years will be well aware that we aren't great fans of Halloween here at ChocolateMission. 

Here in the UK generally it doesn't get the same attention as it does in places like the US etc.

That doesn't mean we won't indulge in a few Halloween chocolatey treats however! One small tradition we do have is that we always get one of these Hotel Chocolat 'Yumpkin' - he's been doing the rounds here on @ChocMission for a few years now (See HERE).

If you are thinking of putting in a Hotel Chocolat order in this weekend (See HERE) remember you can click and collect from your local store to save you the P&P costs!


If you are looking for a more lavish treat than our dear Mr Yumpkin we would suggest you look in the direction of the Hallowen Bites H-Box! This chocolate selection contains some of Hotel Chocolat's most well reknowned chocolates - just with a cool Halloween twist! 

Our favourites are the 'Oozy eye truffles which contain the odd looking (but still amazingly tasty!) red blood caramel! Other special looking ones to look out for are the large milk chocolate skull piece and the insanley amazing spider decorated praline truffle. Don't take our word for it though guys - if you are celebrating Halloween this year make sure you do it in style with Hotel Chocolat.  


Let us know how (if at all!) you will be celebrating over @ChocMission.  


Monday, 20 October 2014

October 20th: Beech's Mint Creams

Kcal 90 Fat2.8g Fat(sats) 1.8g Carbs 15.4g (per 20.0g)

It may seem like this site has been running forever now (6 years no less!!), but that's not a patch on Beech's who have been making chocolates in Britain since 1920! That makes them one of Britain's longest serving chocolate makers thus why it is always with great delight we receive their products for us to review on the site (impartially we may add!). Last month we brought you our review of one of their new mint chocolate products for the 2014 Christmas period, now we have the pleasure of bringing you our second based on their Beech's Mint Creams.

Beech's fondant creams are one of their most traditional products so it felt apt they came in a very classic looking cardboard box with some very cool looking fonts and classy looking pack illustrations. The box weighed in at 150.g and contained 14 chocolates that smelt absolutely beautiful with their pungent minty smells evident from the minute we opened it up.


The chocolates themselves were pretty simple in construct and came described as 'dark chocolate covering a rich mint fondant centre'. In terms of size they were absolutely perfect eating one at a time and in a single mouthful. The dark chocolate was the same used across most of Beech's other dark chocolate products with the 55% cocoa solids content was establishing a very flavoursome and earthy cocoa taste. The dark chocolate was very rich however the epic fondant centres brought a delightful freshness and cut through the dark chocolate with it's sweet mintyness. Much like the Beech's Mint Crisps these were most satisfying and best eaten in small quantities after a big meal and alongside a coffee.

Overall Beech's seemingly have all bases covered when it comes to the after dinner mint chocolates market this Christmas. Whether you are more partial to the Mint Crisps or Mint Creams they seem to have something for everyone. These Beech's Mint Creams are perhaps just a touch sweeter due to their fondant content but both are similar in the way they have beautifully contrasting bitter chocolate and sweet minty flavours. Again we highly recommend these for an after dinner mint situation - a definite thumbs up from the @ChocMission team.

8.0 out of 10

Friday, 17 October 2014

COMPETITION TIME - DENBY CAKE OFF


I just came across a competition I would like to share with you all. It’s called The Great Denby Cake Off


It’s based around creating the perfect afternoon tea recipe and will be judged on creativity and presentation. You have to be able to blog your entry to enter as it is a blogging competition.

Once you have your recipe, images and post ready to enter you need to email cakeoff@denby.co.uk with the URL of your post.

There are some great prizes up for grabs as well including £500 of Denby Pottery vouchers, an ultimate baking kit and a baking preparation kit.

The competition is open until the end of this month (31/10/2014) so get your bake on!

Good luck!
 

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