I often have to provide grovelling apologias to my well-worn purse strings, and recently these have become risible palimpsests. So enough is enough! I am going to embrace high-street beauty with open arms (in the hope that my purse will soon greet me in a similar fashion).
I happily fall into conniptions when I think about cake (occupational hazard as a hungry food blogger) so it’s nice to have an excuse to bake a marble cake in a love heart shape topped with cherries and chocolate.
Nothing says ‘Je t’aime’ like a melt-in-the-middle chocolate truffle. But a homemade chocolate truffle? Well, you’ve lovingly gone the extra mile! And there’s absolutely no need to disclose that these impressive chocolate truffles are incredibly simple to make…
Buying someone perfume can be tricky as fragrance is such a personal choice (or ‘fun’ if your nose and nostrils enjoy acrobatics!).
Here is a recipe for what can only be described as the chocolate version of a hug. A delicious chocolate sponge pudding with a melt-in-the-middle chocolate fondant centre. This recipe makes about six small puddings, so you can halve the amount if you’re just serving two. Obviously the smaller the ramekin dishes the more you’ll make. Serve with your favourite vanilla ice cream.
75g butter, softened
300g good quality milk chocolate (or 70% dark if you prefer)
75g light muscovado sugar
4 organic free range eggs
40g plain flour
Half a tsp vanilla extract
A chocolate truffle or a square of chocolate per ramekin dish
Optional: either 2 tbsp strong filtered coffee or Tia Maria
Preheat the oven to 190°C/400F/gas mark 6. Grease out the ramekins with extra butter.
Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a bowl over a saucepan of water on a low heat. Place to one side.
Separate the egg whites and yolks into two bowls. Whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk until fluffy and starts to form soft peaks.
Place the softened butter, sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl and whisk together. Add the egg yolks and stir.
Add the egg whites and whisk until smooth. Don’t over-whisk as the eggs will curdle! Add the melted chocolate – check it’s cooled first – and mix together.
Sift in the flour and stir until smooth. Add the coffee or Tia Maria, if using.
Pour the mix into the ramekins filling each one three quarters full.
Place a mini chocolate truffle or a cube of chocolate in the middle of each one before putting them in the oven for 10 – 12 minutes.
2013 marked the centenary of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and to celebrate Liz Earle made this absolutely beautiful perfume, Botanical Essence No.100, which bottles the scent of a British flower shop. I first spotted it for sale in the RHS Wisley gift shop last year and it was love at first scent.
It’s not at all overpowering, yet the longevity of this perfume is truly remarkable. I sprayed some on my Fairisle scarf on Friday and on the following Monday I was greeted with the fresh smell of it once more; the top notes of mandarin and bergamot harmonise with comforting rose, light vanilla and sandalwood. I wish there was a way you could smell it for yourself by reading this!
So you can imagine my excitement when I went into Liz Earle in Guildford to find this lovely perfume in a limited edition set: for the price of a 50ml Liz Earle perfume (£47) you also get a Liz Earle Sheer Lip Gloss (worth £13.50) in Water Lily – a shimmery nude and a bright Strengthening Nail Colour in Pink Perpetue (worth £7.50.)
Obviously perfume choice is so personal and you can also choose one of the other Liz Earle perfumes (Botanical Essence No.1, or Botanical Essence No. 15.) to be in your set.
It’s only available until 17th February, making it a perfect gift for Valentine’s Day!
Liz Earle The Look of Love £47 available in store and online