Recipe | Chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons

Just three basic ingredients and a little chocolate make this yummy teatime treat.

Chocolate dipped coconut macaroon finished product uk recipe easy

Ingredients (makes 8 chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons)

I had one egg white to use up, so these are the quantities I used. If you want to make a larger batch of coconut macaroons, for each extra egg white increase the dry ingredients proportionally.

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Review | A Country Escape by Katie Fforde

A cosy, happy story in a beautiful setting. 3.5/5 stars.

A Country Escape by Katie Fforde

Thank you to Random House UK and NetGalley for providing me with an e-copy of this book.

The blurb: Fran has always wanted to be a farmer. And now it looks as if her childhood dream is about to come true. She has just moved in to a beautiful but very run-down farm in the Cotswolds, currently owned by an old aunt who has told Fran that if she manages to turn the place around in a year, the farm will be hers. But Fran knows nothing about farming. She might even be afraid of cows.

She’s going to need a lot of help from her best friend Issi, and also from her wealthy and very eligible neighbour – who might just have his own reasons for being so supportive. Is it the farm he is interested in? Or Fran herself?

My take:

The cover and title of Katie Fforde’s latest book tell you all you need to know! A Country Escape is cosy escapism with likeable characters in a wonderful setting. Although there is a romance thread to the story, I’d argue the greatest romance is between the protagonist – Fran – and the farm she hopes to inherit, which has its own starring role along with the beautiful countryside setting.

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Recipe | Baileys, Nutella and cheesecake brownies

Baileys, Nutella, cheesecake, chocolate… many favourites in one delicious brownie

Baking with Baileys and nutella cheesecake brownies uk recipe

These are brilliant! I can’t remember what recipe I was looking for…  but fortunately my search caused me to stumble across this recipe on the Good Housekeeping website. I made a couple of small changes to the recipe but the Baileys-Nutella combination with the cheesecake swirl is lovely and I can’t recommend these enough.

Ingredients (makes 16 – 32 brownies depending on how big you cut them)

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Recipe | Quick golden syrup cookies

Yummy, chewy golden syrup cookies. Also an easy recipe to make vegan!

Quick golden syrup cookies biscuits uk recipe easy

Following the success of using golden syrup in my gingerbread cake, I did a search for biscuits made using this magic ingredient. I found this super-simple golden syrup cookie recipe on the BBC Good Food website.

Ingredients (makes 12-24 cookies depending on how big you make them)

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Recipes: Easy Valentine’s baking ideas

With February 14th fast approaching, this week I revisit five recipes perfect for sharing some love.

Click on the photo or the title to visit the recipe!

valentines-day-cooking-and-baking-ideas-chocolate-heart-biscuits-uk-recipe

1. Easy chocolate biscuits – heart-shaped for Valentine’s Day

Caramel chocolate brownies heart shaped for Valentine's day with strawberry pink buttercream 5

2. Caramel chocolate brownies

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Review | The Heights by Juliet Bell

A five-star adaptation of a four-star classic. 4/5 stars.

(*Ducks for avoid rocks thrown by Emily Brontë fans*)

The Heights by Julia Bell

Thank you to HQ Digital and NetGalley for giving me an e-copy of this book.

The blurb: A grim discovery brings DCI Lockwood to Gimmerton’s Heights Estate – a bleak patch of Yorkshire he thought he’d left behind for good. There, he must do the unthinkable, and ask questions about the notorious Earnshaw family.

Decades may have passed since Maggie closed the pits and the Earnshaws ran riot – but old wounds remain raw. And, against his better judgement, DCI Lockwood is soon drawn into a story.

A story of an untameable boy, terrible rage, and two families ripped apart. A story of passion, obsession, and dark acts of revenge. And of beautiful Cathy Earnshaw – who now lies buried under cold white marble in the shadow of the moors.

Two hundred years since Emily Brontë’s birth comes The Heights: a modern re-telling of Wuthering Heights set in 1980s Yorkshire.

My take:

The Heights is an excellent modern retelling of Emily Brontë’s classic tale. The transposition of the events of Wuthering Heights to the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries works incredibly well, the time shifts are handled skillfully, and the reassignments of the roles of the secondary characters are ingenious. For example, making Lockwood a detective on the verge of retirement gives him a good reason to be unendingly curious about the Earnshaws while also imbuing the whole story with an air of trendy Scandinavian noir.

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Recipe | Gingerbread cake

Quick-to-make and delicious, this gingerbread cake is perfect with a cup of tea

Easy quick gingerbread cake ginger cake recipe uk

This gingerbread cake recipe comes from allrecipes. I was a bit worried about using the boiling water, but clearly it’s a magic ingredient because the gingerbread cake turned out beautifully. The abundance of golden syrup makes this a sticky cake to make, but gives it its lovely golden colour and perfectly moist, chewy texture. The perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea or coffee, this gingerbread cake is ideal for elevenses or afternoon tea.

Ingredients

Wait! There’s more. Click for the recipe and more pics!

ARC Review | The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

A mind-bending wonder somewhere between an episode of Black Mirror and a classic Poirot mystery. 4/5.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35967101-the-seven-deaths-of-evelyn-hardcastle

Thank you to Bloomsbury and NetGalley for providing me with an e-copy of this book. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle will be published on 8th February.

The blurb: How do you stop a murder that’s already happened?

At a gala party thrown by her parents, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed–again. She’s been murdered hundreds of times, and each day, Aiden Bishop is too late to save her. Doomed to repeat the same day over and over, Aiden’s only escape is to solve Evelyn Hardcastle’s murder and conquer the shadows of an enemy he struggles to even comprehend–but nothing and no one are quite what they seem…

My take:

This book has a great premise and puts an original spin on the classic country house murder mystery. The layers in the story make it incredibly complex and I take my hat off to the author. I can’t imagine the diagrams necessary to keep track of where all the characters are supposed to be at various times as the narrator body-hops between different “hosts”, bumping into friends and enemies along the way. In addition to the murder mystery we have the mystery of Aiden himself: who is he and why is he being forced to relive the same day, searching desperately for Evelyn Hardcastle’s killer?

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Kid’s building site / digger chocolate birthday cake

This kid’s chocolate building site birthday cake looks great and is very easy to put together!

Kid's digger building site builder chocolate easy birthday cake

It was my elder son’s 5th birthday recently. It’s taken me a while to blog about this cake, but if you follow my posts you’ll probably already know I gave birth to our second son at around the time of my first son’s birthday and since then I’ve been a tad busy!

As I knew my sons’ birthdays would be very close together, I wanted to make a birthday cake which was simple and quick to assemble. Some internet browsing brought me to this building site / digger cake idea in the form of some photos. I did my best to copy what I saw, using my own cake recipe and various toy construction site pieces I already had.

Click for the recipe and more photos…

Review | The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr

 A promising situation undermined by an unlikeable protagonist. 3/5 stars.

The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr

Thank you to Penguin and NetGalley for providing me with an e-copy of this book.

The blurb: Ella Black seems to live the life most other seventeen-year-olds would kill for…

Until one day, telling her nothing, her parents whisk her off to Rio de Janeiro. Determined to find out why, Ella takes her chance and searches through their things.

And realises her life has been a lie.

Her mother and father aren’t hers at all. Unable to comprehend the truth, Ella runs away, to the one place they’ll never think to look – the favelas.

But there she learns a terrible secret – the truth about her real parents and their past. And the truth about a mother, desperate for a daughter taken from her seventeen years ago…

My take:

Last year, Emily Barr’s previous book – The One Memory of Flora Banks – was the only book I gave 5 stars to. I loved Flora, I loved her story, and so I was excited to get my hands on a copy of The Truth and Lies of Ella Black. I had high hopes.

I’m sad to say I didn’t love this book. And this even though there are many similarities between Ella Black and Flora Banks: both give us a female teenage protagonist with mental health issues, struggling with seemingly rubbish parents who are keeping secrets from them. However, while I found Flora instantly likeable, Ella came across as whiny and, until quite late in the book, tremendously ungrateful, immature and annoying.

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