dark chocolate cake & burnt orange silk buttercream

Um,  I’m not sure how to say this, but I may or may not have unintentionally put together a somewhat challenging recipe.

It’s not that it’s exactly hard by any accounts, but it is labour intensive, time consuming, and every second counts.

It’s not that I dislike you, really, it’s that I was challenging myself to grow as a chef. A challenge I thought I’d share. I mean, how many times are you going to use a Creme Anglaise in your buttercream? Exactly.

Every mouthful is entirely worth it though. Sinfully so.

Just repeat after me… “Burnt orange, silk buttercream“. Did that do it? Are you there yet? Alright, well how about this one…. “gluten-free, moist, chocolate cake“.

I knew it, you couldn’t resist either.

Make it. Announce it’s Cake Day to the people nearest & dearest, & just turn it into an occasion. Hell, I’d say put it in the middle of the table & just hand out spoons.

…Until next time xxx

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brandy cheese cake with caramelized pecans – gluten-free

We’re back!

It feels like we’ve been gone a life time. I think in all honesty, we probably have been.

Ok ok ok ok fine, I exaggerate everything. I know this. Maybe I should just explain.

It was time for us to make a couple changes to the site. Now, whilst I know that currently you can’t see any of those changes, they are in fact working away behind the scenes. Silently taking effect.

There’s more though. Not only have changes been happening in the technical background, but life changes have been occurring too! Want to take a guess?

Actually, there’s no time for guessing. There’s far too much to catch up on. So here it is…

I moved to London!

I can’t believe I just said that out-loud, but it’s true. This bless-full event happened on Friday evening. As in the Friday that just passed. As in, three days ago.

Big change huh? I can barely believe it myself if we’re being truthful about it. Still, I’m a firm believer that change is a good thing. Or can be a good thing. Haven’t figured it all out yet. There are plans in the works though to try & attend ‘Le Cordon Bleu‘ cooking school though. I suppose I should really get a move on & see if I can make that happen since the course starts in two weeks. TWO WEEKS. Time to get a move on.

Whilst all these big, life changing things have been happening & all has been silent & still on the blog front… things have been happening in my kitchen. I’ve been working away like a mad woman obsessing over textures, flavors, colours & more. Don’t worry, you were never forgotten about. Never in a million years. So here we are. First day back & I’ve got magic up my sleeve.

Can I hear you say “brandy & caramelized pecan cheese cake“? Oh yes please. Aaaaand my pretties, it’s gluten free too. Oh how sweet life is.

So here it is. A treasure that I’ve been sitting on just waiting for the day I could bring it to your attention once again. And no, I didn’t actually sit on it, that would have been messy.

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variations on hot chocolate

I think we’re going on strike today. We’ve just finished cleaning the house, the windows are open, there is a chill in the air & to be quite honest, I don’t think I’m going to get out of my PJs. It’s all about your boyfriend’s hoodies & a good pair of thick slipper socks.

We’re not going on strike completely though, just a little. There’s still hot chocolate. It kind of feels like the right day for hot chocolate though. It kind of feels like the right day for a fire-place too. Maybe a few movies.

I want to make two points here before I share the recipe:
1. Mel never does anything the easy way. He bought fifty thousand kinds of chocolate for the recipe, even though the whole world knows that valrhona will be his first choice every time.
2. Even though mel choses the more complicated way, it’s always because he’s trying to make it completely amazing. Sure, hot chocolate can be easy. You can buy a pre-made pack of powder, pour it into hot water & you’re done. Or you can turn it into a science like he does, and gain a result where that every sip is rich, creamy, heavenly bliss. There’s always a choice.

Mel’s desire to be complete & thorough means I’m having four, full, hot cups. There is a chocolate & orange hot chocolate. There is a cinnamon & chocolate version. There’s one with fresh chilis in it & another with five-spice. Then, there is me on the couch, in the previously mentioned hoodie, enjoying every sip. Going to end up putting myself in a hot-chocolate coma.

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plum & marzipan cake

Before you start reading, know that this post comes with a disclaimer:

I will in no way, shape or form be held accountable for the results of this cake. This is a finicky recipe that rarely works, is very frustrating & takes a lot of patience. The only reason (and I do mean only) that I am posting this up is because so many people from Mel’s work have been asking for it.

(briefly, we used to cater to the office two years ago & the cake seemed to be a big hit…. not for me though. For me, it was countless hours of frustration & disappointment because the cake kept falling in the middle no matter how I adjusted the baking times or ingredients. I used to spend hours finding new & creative ways of covering up the sunken middle with a plum compote I had made to accompany it)

So, long story short, if the recipe doesn’t work for you, tough cookies, it doesn’t work for me either. If anyone has ANY suggestions at all, I’m happy to hear them, I’m all ears, trust. I’d love for this to be the cake that came back from the dead, I just don’t see it happening.

I’d also like to say this, the batter for the cake if very, very thick. This is intentional, if it gets any thinner, it falls. But as is, it takes forever to bake & the top starts burning, so it has to be covered with aluminum foil. Yeah, that’s all I have to say. If you insist on following the recipe any way, do so at your own risk. My thoughts are with you child, be strong!

– nickey

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red rice & quinoa salad

So I’m sitting here & licking my wounds, metaphorically speaking of course. I always joke that most people have no idea how to drive in the rain, especially in countries where it rarely rains. I have always found this tremendously funny… until today of course.

The day started off all well & good with a very full day in the kitchen, bar the sink full of dirty dishes left over by one of the other chefs. I wasn’t to appreciative of this but 15 minutes spent over the sink with hot water & plenty of suds took care of that pretty quickly. 54 vanilla cupcakes, 54 chocolate cupcakes, 44 red velvet cupcakes, 15 double chocolate chip cookies & over 300 mini cupcake tasters. It wasn’t a 10 hour day again, but it was exhausting.

I was a little nervous to begin the day after Lefteris & I had a talk, he’d told me how I’d been a bit afloat the previous days & it seemed as though I wasn’t really focused. Needless to say I panicked & stepped up my game. Of course I’d warned the owners of the bakery that I’m prone to making mistakes but I tend to get into the swing of things pretty quickly. It was a nice change of pace & I got completely lost in my own world. Singing along out of tune to all my favorite songs on my custom play list & getting completely covered in flour & cacao. My dream job. Really. Is it bad to tell people that you love your job? Any way, I love it & I wont apologize for that, in fact, I insist that everyone also be as happy for me as I am.
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