I have many vices, but they all seem to come in the form of either cake or chocolate. Carrot cake, banana walnut bread and orange chocolate brownies, I am powerless before. Similarly, put me in front of a box of Leonidas and I won’t stop eating until I have a pain in my tummy.
However, despite being such a chocolate lover, I’ve never really bothered making my own, despite regularly satisfying my cake cravings by baking pretty little cakes. I decided to try my hand over Christmas at making my own little chocolates, and after a few variations, I think I have cracked the ultimate after dinner or tea time chocolate. This has so many complementing flavours going on, the spicy cinnamon, zesty orange, roast honeyed hazelnuts and dark chocolate make the perfect, most indulgent treat.
Make this once and you’ll never look back, they’re unbelievably easy to make. Just take my word for it when I say that they won’t last long!
200g 70% Dark Chocolate
100g Hazelnuts, whole
100g Candied Orange Peel, chopped
First things first. Place the hazelnuts on a piece of tin foil within a baking tray. Drizzle with a tablespoon or two of honey and then generously dust with cinnamon. Pop into an oven preheated to 150C and roast for 5 to 7 minutes. Check regularly, you don’t want to burn the nuts or they taste awful. When they’re done, take them out and let them cool. They’ll probably stick together when they cool, that’s okay- just crack them apart again.
You can use a bain marie to melt your chocolate, but I never bother. If your pot is heavy bottomed enough and the heat is low enough, you should be fine to heat it directly in a pot over a low flame. That’s what I always do (mainly because I love cutting corners). Stir the chocolate continuously until it’s all just melted, then take it off the heat.
Lay out a grease proof piece of paper on a large, flat and even chopping board or surface. Drop about a tablespoon of melted chocolate at a time onto the sheet, leaving plenty of space in between each chocolate disc.
Then place a few nuts and about a teaspoon of candied orange on each chocolate disc. Make sure that each topping is touching the melted chocolate or it won’t stick when the chocolate hardens. Finally, sprinkle all the chocolates with some more cinnamon.
Leave to cool for an hour or two and then when they’re hard, peel them off the greaseproof paper and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Something I’ve wanted to make for ages has been turkey meatballs. Apart from roast turkey at Christmas dinner, it’s not something we ever really cooked at home. However, being on a huge health kick this January (such a cliche, I know), I decided to give them a go. Turkey is obviously a great source of protein, but it’s also an extremely lean meat so it’s often suggested to people who are trying to eat healthily.
These meatballs are jam packed with veggies for an extra nutritional hit and flavour, and I used almond flour instead of breadcrumbs for a change. They taste absolutely gorgeous and this recipe makes about 30-40 small meatballs, so I tend to make a big batch and freeze smaller portions of them to defrost throughout the week for a quick and easy meal.
These taste completely decadent and are so comforting despite being really healthy. So if you’re getting sick of eating chicken salads as you try and get healthy, these are just the thing for you.
2lb turkey mince
1 bunch basil
2 large carrots
2 sticks celery
1 large onion
1 – 2 eggs
50g ground almond
1kg vine tomatoes
6 large shallots
4 large cloves garlic
1 bunch basil
For the meatballs- grate the carrots and celery and very finely dice the onion. Finely slice the basil as fine as you can get it. Set it all aside in a bowl and add the mince. You may not need both eggs to bind the mix (depends on their size) so add one first and if it doesn’t hold together add the second egg. Add in the flour to help further bind the mix (again, if the mix is too wet, you can add more ground almond).
On a baking sheet lay out the washed tomatoes and the peeled onion and garlic cloves (just remove their outer skin). Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Throw into an oven preheated to 180C for 20-30 minutes.
Using your hand, roll your meatballs together into whatever size you please. I kept mine a bit smaller than a golf ball. This will make 30-40 meatballs so you can freeze the ones you won’t be cooking straight away. Fry the meatballs in some olive oil on a medium high heat until they’re golden all over. If they’re sticking to the pan you could add some stock instead of oil as they continue to cook. They’ll take about 10-15 minutes, depending on size. Add your spaghetti to a boiling pot of water when the meatballs are looking close to being ready.
When the vegetables are ready (the tomatoes will start to split and the shallots and onions will be soft), pop them all into a large bowl and blend with the other bunch of basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. It’s that easy!
Add some of the sauce to the pan and let the cooked meatballs stew away in the sauce until the pasta is ready.
Drain the pasta when cooked and serve on a plate with a heap of meatballs and grate some parmesan cheese on top!