At first glance it might seem that I am just a happy, normal girl who loves to bake and walk her dog. However, I have suffered with an eating disorder since I was 13. It was only in May 2014 when I realised that this Voice in my head was slowly but surely trying to kill me. And so began the long, hard, and painful journey which is recovery...

I want My Cocoa Stained Apron to be a special place...a place for reflection, memories, shared stories...and of course a little bit of cocoa-staining ;) Recovery might be the hardest thing you ever choose to do in this life. But it is also the bravest and best decision you will ever make.:)

Thursday, 18 September 2014

More French baking!! ;) But this time, the classic baguette. :)

As you all know I am very much in awe of the baking scheme of things in France. And out of all those irresistible baked goods one can readily associate with the French boulangeries...I think the baguette has to be on my top ten, anyway. There's just something truly magical about a baguette...that lovely crisp crust encasing the fluffy, soft inside; that distinctive shape which makes it so easy to cut into little portions...and to ram into your shopping bag when you're in a hurry...and to break off the top part for a nibble as you hurry along. I read somewhere that in France they always buy two baguettes because by the time one gets home from the bakery with the said baguettes, it is a common occurence that at least half of a baguette has already been consumed. And that's not even to mention the gorgeous, mouth-watering smell; that authentic, tantalising it any wonder that the word baguette, when translated straight back into French, actually means "wand"? It's very difficult, after all, to not be enchanted by its charm.
Now of course the one thing about making baguettes at home is that unfortunately, most of us won't be able to produce loaves quite as long as the ones you get in the shops, due to oven and tray sizes. But that's not a problem with me, and I hope it won't put you off either. Mine are rarely the perfect size. I remember the very first time I did this recipe: the baguettes sort of resembled crocodiles because they had ridges that looked like the raised eyes of this reptile, and had narrow ends that looked like tails. But so what. Your baguettes are unique and different from everyone else's... who wants to make an exact replica of another baker's? With the recipe below I usually like to make two medium sized baguettes. Though little ones are cute and fun, and are ideal for making yummy sandwiches or for dunking into soup. :)
  • 350 g strong white bread flour plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tbsp light brown soft sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp easy-blend yeast/7g sachet instant yeast
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 250 ml tepid water
  • Egg wash or milk for glazing
  1. Grease a bowl with oil. Sift the flour and salt into a big bowl and stir in the yeast and the sugar. Make a well in the centre.
  2. Add the two tablespoons of olive oil and most of the water. Mix with your hands until it starts to come together to form a soft dough. Add a little more water if it feels dry, or a little more flour if it feels very sticky.
  3. Very lightly dust a work surface with flour. Gather the dough into a ball and turn out onto your work surface. Knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is soft, pliable and stretchy.
  4. Place the dough in the oiled bowl, turning once to coat the top, and then cover with greased cling film. Place in a warm, draught-free place to rise for about 1 ½ -2 ½ hours. When it’s ready it should be twice its original volume and should feel springy when gently pressed with a fingertip.
  5. Line the biggest baking tray you have – or two if you are worried about the baguettes touching – with baking paper. Give the inflated dough a big punch to knock out the air and then turn out onto a very lightly floured surface.
  6. Knead briefly, and then, if you are making two baguettes, cut the dough into half with a sharp knife. Roll the two halves out into rectangles with a rolling pin. I usually roll mine out to about 30cm x 15cm, but this is a rough guide only.
  7. Roll the rectangles up tightly lengthways, so that you have two longish cylinders. Roll them gently back and forth on the very lightly floured surface to seal the join slightly.  Carefully transfer to the baking tray.
  8. For smaller “demi” baguettes, cut into smaller pieces depending on how big you want them. If they are very small, don’t roll out into rectangles – it’s easier to shape them into balls (roll them underneath the cup of your hand to achieve a nice smooth round shape), before then flattening each ball with the palm of your hand so you have a sausage shape. Roll gently back and forth on the surface and then place on the tray. For medium-sized ones roll out into rectangles as above and roll up in the same way.
  9. With a very sharp knife cut slashes in the baguettes at regular intervals (make the slashes deep, though…I have made the mistake before of only making them shallow and they closed in on me as the bread rose. :( ). Then cover again with the greased cling film and put in the warm place to rise for about 1 ½ -2 hrs.
  10. Preheat oven to 200c/180c fan.
  11. Lightly brush the baguettes with egg wash or a little milk (or if you have any spare egg whites or egg yolks lurking in your fridge that you need using up, they can be used for brushing the baguettes too) and then very lightly dust with flour.
  12. Bake for 15-20 minutes for the big baguettes, or 10-15 minutes for the smaller ones. When they are cooked they should be risen and beautifully golden, and should sound hollow inside when tapped on the base.
  13. Remove from the tray and place on a wire rack. If you like a soft crust as I do, then wrap in clean tea towels to cool. They are gorgeous eaten warm, served as an accompaniment to a main course or stuffed with fillings for very tasty sandwiches. They don’t keep any longer than a day though – it’s a good idea to freeze any remaining baguette in little chunks so that they can easily be reheated. :)

College and my ED.

Today and yesterday, Ganache-Elf found herself, not in her more regular haunts or engaged in her usual every day activities (ie. baking away in that sunlit kitchen at home, trotting along the hedge-lined lanes in a vain attempt to keep up with her faithful canine companion, or nestled comfortably in her favorite armchair in the conservatory overlooking the garden, blogging away to her heart's content - no, instead Ganache-Elf was in a place which she had not laid eyes upon for several months now. Though it only seems like yesterday when I last walked through the Front Arch of Trinity College. No, lectures haven't quite started yet - they're due to start this coming Monday. Rather I was there to see a few of my closest friends. But I ended up - unintentionally, but willingly all the same - joining a few societies too. But what I really wanted to tell you about today was the fact that for once, I felt sort of...well, happy to be there, I suppose. Happy to be part of Trinity, and happy to be amongst all those smiling, cheerful young people who were there in force today: handing out bags of Haribos and trying to convince undecided first years that their society was THE society and that their life depended on joining it.
 You see for me, college has never really been a place where I have felt happy, at home, secure, or which I have felt a sense of belonging towards: I always was of the frame of mind that I shouldn't really be here. For starters of course, my general feelings towards my course has always made me feel like a misfit.  But also, for me, college is directly associated with leaving home and trying to navigate your way through the big, scary real world on your own. And I know for a fact that is when my ED was as its worst, and when I lost the most weight.
 I clearly remember the things I did over the past two years, during my first and second years there, when my ED has me firmly within its grip; and I seemed oblivious to how awful I really looked. The funny thing is, I was ashamed of how I looked: and I felt unattractive and ugly in comparism to my peers, many which seemed so confident and well-dressed and so on...but I was too stupid to ever stop and think: would I not look better, and feel better too, if I just stopped this cycle of destruction and self-denial? Would I not then feel as if I belonged; that I wasn't just a scared, silly little girl who had no sense of self-confidence or esteem whatsoever...and realise that I am worth something? That I shouldn't feel as if I'm in the wrong place altogether? But no. I only ever considered the opposite. I'm ugly now, but if I gain weight and become fat, I will become even uglier. Better be skinny and ugly than fat and ugly Em! I have to control my food's the only thing within my control in this place.

 For me, back then, a college day would usually mean...

  • Waking up every day with a feeling of dread and anxiety...another day at college, for people to see the grey lines under my eyes and the dryness of my skin. To think: she is so small, she is so ugly, she looks such a mess.
  • And waking up starving too, but too afraid to have a good breakfast, in case my stomach started to rumble later on in the day, forcing me to have some sort of lunch...and, according to my ED, eating a good breakfast AND lunch is most certainly NOT allowed.
  • Feeling hungry in lectures but just ignoring the feeling, or saying to myself I will eat later, when I'm alone. But rarely fulfilling that promise. 
  • Having what I pretended to myself was lunch on my own in the library...usually this would consist of a piece of fruit and dry bread. If anything.
  • telling myself that it was ok that my dinner in the evenings was usually nothing more than a few pieces of pasta, a slice of toast, a meagre bowl of cereal, a portion of vegetables.
  • Going to bed with my stomach empty and starving...but always, always making this false promise to myself: It's ok, I know I didn't eat that much today, but I will make up for it tomorrow! Which I never, never did. 
But this year...this year is going to be different. I'm determined to make it so. It's true to say that I have less hours this year and I probably won't be spending as much time up there...and also that I'm not actually living up in Dublin this year, either...I'm commuting from home. But I want to make sure I continue to eat well this year, at home and at college...that college can be somewhere where I can enjoy food and the company of others. It used to be just me and my ED: that voice which would dictate what I should and should not eat, and which I always obeyed without question. I know that I probably won't ever feel exactly on top of the world at college...I still feel, because I don't like my course, that I will never be a hundred percent happy there...and I still don't feel as if I fit in amongst my fellow me, they will always be so much more intelligent, smart, intellectual. Everything I'm not basically. But instead of thinking...eating as little as possible will give me some sense of control and strength in this scary, unfeeling, and uncaring place...I now think...eating well and taking on my ED will make me stronger and more mature, and give me courage and a sense of comfort and reassurance when I feel down and stressed as I attempt to find my way through third year English Studies. I'm not going to let my ED or my sense of ineptitude as far as my course is concerned convince me that my presence is worthless and that I am just a nobody. I was lost, but I'm not going to lose myself again...I know who I am and I know what and who is important to me. And I'm hopeful that now I'm recovering, college will become a brighter place too, and that I will realise that I have a place here too.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Where will my blogging take me from here...

I find it hard to believe that I've been writing My Cocoa-Stained Apron for a few months, now. Writing it has really become part of my everyday routine. Whenever I wake up in the morning one of the first things I actually think of is what I might blog about today; and I spend many a hot chocolate break strolling through my blog and editing spelling mistakes, etc (though I am quite sure that there are many more ;) ). But it really has been such a special and meaningful journey for me. I've discovered that I love to blog and that i still do love to write. It's not that I can't write, I understand now...I can. But I write best about the things that mean alot to me; and I know that for me writing is something that I don't want to do at all hours of the day...I think for me, writing will always be a hobby. Not something that I want to spend my life doing.
I really do hope I will still be able to write when I go to fact I am determined that I will, though perhaps not to the extent to which I have been able to over summer. I will still be baking, after all. And I want to focus still on trying new recipes and develop on the ones I've created myself.
 And My Cocoa-Stained Apron has really helped to erode my sense of worthlessness and ineptitude and show to me that...yes, I can bake, I AM a baker and I have my own little style and strengths. :) Last year I went for the Irish Bake-Off on TV3...of course I only got as far as the first set of interviews (though that, in itself, was an achievement of sorts for me anyway!) but I am keen to have another stab at it this year. AND maybe even the British one, too. I know I don't have much of a chance of getting that far or anything...but well you never know unless you try.
 And I plan to continue writing posts about my ED, too, and everything I went through and everything I remember...and try to give heartfelt advice to anyone out there who is struggling as I was. I know I am no expert, but what I know with certainty is that eating disorders are rotten, horrible, destructive things that wreck people's lives and cause so much hurting and pain and suffering. And that I would do anything that I could in my power to help all those men, women, girls, boys who are burdened with this horrific disease. And so this is where I start I suppose...writing a blog which I hope can make you realise that recovery is possible...and that there are hundreds of people out there like you. Be brave and take that first crucial step like I did earlier on this summer...tell someone, seek help, and don't wait or falter for any longer. Only you can decide to change your own life. I know how important the help, support and love of others is at this time...but you must know that if you want to get better you need to want it...and not have others just on your case all the time, telling you you need to change...a big part of this ball game is in your court, now. So don't shy away and let the ball drop from your a player...take control of your own life rather than letting an ED control you.

Monday, 15 September 2014

I take you for granted.

Today is a little different from other brother is moving out and of couirse I feel a little sad, more than a little, I have to admit. But anyway I don't want to go into too much detail about this...but what I do want to talk about is this. I know that by nature I am a bit of a worrier and probably always will be! But I think that I spend so much time worrying and fretting and overthinking things and situations that sometimes I fail to take in all the wonderful, wonderful parts of my life...namely, the people (and animals :) ) in it, the beauty of the world around me, all the stuff I own, the things I am privelaged to do...

Firstly my amazing, loving, supportive, wonderful family! Who, despite the shit that I put them through with my ED, are still there for me, every single part of every single waking day. Who have helped me to dry my tears and to learn to smile again, even on the blackest and gloomiest days. Who remind me that even if I lost everything, even if I am the most useless and pathetic human creature on the face of this earth...that I will always have them, and that they will always love me for who I am.

And all my friends...all those amazing individuals who one day just entered my life by chance...but words can't express how lucky and overjoyed I feel that they did. My life would never have been the same without my true, close friends. It's true that over the past few years I've learnt that not everyone who you happen to meet and become friendly with is exactly what you would call a real friend. I was naive and stupid for thinking that at one time. But I know who my true friends are, and I know that I can rely on them, that will always be willing to help and listen to me. My friends and family have made my world a brighter, happier place.

And all my furry friends too, many of which are no longer with me, but who will remain in my heart forever and whose memory I will never forget. They made me feel needed and loved when I felt so near to feeling nothing but useless and unwanted, than my presence on earth was worthless and unnecessary. I knew that they would always understand me that they would love me no less for the stupid, idiotic things I did; in those bright little eyes there was nothing but love.

And then something that really, really takes my breath away at this time of year, and makes me realise how precious and beautiful life really is? It's the natural beauty of my surroundings...from my very own garden to the lane upon which I walk with Benny every day, to the mountains where we go for a ramble sometimes at the weekends, to all the little woods near my home, and beyond that, of course, to all the other places that I have ever travelled to or visited. It's incredibly, incredibly beautiful...take this morning for I walked out at around 7 am the flog was just clearing and I could just discern the crystal-clear blueness of that sky just about peeking through. And then I saw a hawthorn tree absolutely laden with blood-red berries. And the leaves of the trees are beginning to turn! Soon they will be all golden and copper and brown, and the forests will resemble a scene from a painter's easel...only far more superior. But even now though, in the early stages of autumn...the word stunning would do the beauty of those trees an injustice. They are still emerald green, but hints of tellow-gold are just beginning to appear. And I look upon them and could I ever have wished, in those dark, sad times all those months ago, that my life would just end?

I know...I know, it is easy for me to say that now: and when we are down it is so easy to just forget all the goodness in our lives as the darkness swallows everything and consumes you. But is not easy to stay positive...but it's not impossible to do, either. To focus on the positives and not the negatives when something bad happens. To believe things will get better and that everything happens for a reason. There is hope and light and happiness to be found, always, even when we are in the most darkest of places. We just need to remember that and keep our chins up and carry on!

I will leave you now with the little quote my mam found me and had posted on my facebook is so, so true of life and I hope it will stay with you, as it does for me. I scribbled this one, and a load of other inspiring quotes which spoke directly to my heart, on little slips of paper top be stuck at the top of my bed, in my food diary, on my desk...wherever I would see them every day so that I would read them and smile and think...everything will be ok. And I have so much to be grateful for, and I'm not going to take that for granted ever again.:)

Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is part of life, getting back up is living.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

very sticky coconut slices...


These are surely, one of those bakes that really, really have stood the test of time...they are so classic but oh so scrumptious, and have lost absolutely NONE of the appeal that they had years ago I say. There is most certainly a good degree of stickiness involved, eating these. What with that soft buttery pastry, the gorgeously sweet raspberry jam, and that divine layer of dessicated coconut to top it all, you might well need a napkin - or two if you're like me and are inclined to dive back in that tin for more. ;)
I usually cut mine into roughly about 20 slices - 5 cuts across the cooked cake lengthways, and then 4 widthways - or 16 squares if I feel there is a need for them to be larger than usual. Though of course you can cut them as little or as large as you like. :)
  • 2 large eggs and 1 large egg white. (But don't discard the yolk...they are useful for so many things. Put the spare one in a small bowl and add a tablespoon of water. It will keep in the fridge for a few days. See my list of egg yolk recipes (forthcoming ;) ) for ways in which egg yolks can be used. It might be of use to you if you make meringues etc and have a load of egg yolks leftover.
  • 150 caster sugar
  • 100 g butter, diced
  • 150 g dessicated coconut
  • About 8-9 generous tbsp raspberry jam (or blackcurrant and strawberry might be nice...but raspberry is definitely my favourite for these. :) 
  • 200 g self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp very cold water
  • Grease a baking tin/roasting tray (a rectangular one is best: mine is about 28 cm x 18 cm.) and line with baking paper as the slices are VERY sticky as already mentioned. ;) Preheat oven to 180c/160 c fan.
  • For the pastry base: Sift the flour into a bowl and add the diced butter. Rub in very lightly using your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, with no lumps of fat.
  • Lightly stir in 50 g of caster sugar and make a well in the centre of this dry mixture.
  • Separate the 2 whole eggs, adding the whites to the 1 extra one. Be very careful when you are separating that no trace of egg yolk leaks into the whites.:) (Ganache-Elf tip. I have never been able to separate eggs the way you see the pros do it on the telly. And I am sure most of you have your own way of separating eggs which is far better and more effective than mine. But anyway JUST in case you don't...I like to crack one egg into a small bowl (cracking its shell by tapping it hard on the edge of the bowl). Next, I place an egg cup over the egg yolk and then tip the bowl at an angle over another larger bowl, so that the egg white separates easily from the yolk and slides into the bigger bowl. Then the egg yolk is put into another separate bowl (I know...this way probably does create alot of washing up, but anyway... ;) ) before I move on to separate the next one.
  • Slide two of the egg yolks into the well in the centre of the flour, and then add 2 tbsp very cold water. Mix with a flat bladed knife at first until the mixture starts to come together, then use your hands to gather it together into a soft ball. If it feels a little dry, add a few teaspoons of water. The dough should feel soft and slightly moist, though not overly sticky. 
  • Press the dough out evenly into the baking tin with your hands. Pop it in the fridge to rest for a little bit while you make the coconut topping.
  • For the coconut topping, whip the 3 egg whites in a clean bowl to stiff peaks. If you tip the bowl slightly, the whipped whites should reamin in the bowl, not moving - nothing should run out! Fold in the dessicated coconut and the remaining 100 g sugar. 
  • Take the pastry out of the fridge and generously spread over the jam. Then spread over the coconut topping to evenly cover the jam layer.
  • Bake for 15 - 20 minutes. The coconut should be beginning to turn golden, but should not be too dark. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.
  • Cut into squares/rectangles using a very sharp knife when cold. They are gorg with a cup of tea, or deliciously decadent splodged with custard for a cheeky pud. ;)

I love breakfast.:)

It’s 7.30 am and I’ve been up since 7 writing bits of draft for the blog…and much to my surprise, my tummy is gurgling away like nobody’s business. It’s unusual for me to get hungry quite this early. It usually takes my body a good hour or so to wake properly, but usually, by the time I’ve finished my walk and it’s gone nine, I am starving and can’t wait to get the breakfast ready. I love breakfast and I am beginning to think, since this is the time of the day which I always seem to  feel the most hungry, perhaps I should take advantage of that and aim to eat just a little more than I usually do around brekkie time.
I’ve never been into a full English or anything like that…no, my ideal breakfast has to be, as I’ve mentioned before, hot buttered wholemeal toast with either jam or peanut butter…and a hearty bowl of cereal with lots of milk which is usually warmed unless it’s Weetabix.;) I recall all too well how minimalistic I used to be despite the fact that I had such a good appetite at breakfast time…it would always be a really titchy bowl of cereal with the smallest amount of milk as possible; the toast would have to be a really thin piece of bread with barely and spread on it…and that was when I actually had breakfast. And I felt as if I couldn’t have both, of course.
And so now, here is what I do try to aim for at breakfast time…
·         To have both cereal and toast
·         To have plenty of cereal in my bowl, and to not feel restricted to a small certain amount
·         To have not 1, but 2 weetabix!
·         To have different varieties of cereals, especially the ones that are low in sugar and absorb milk – these are in general my preferred choice anyway.
·         To have plenty of milk (preferably full-fat unless the other sort needs using up.)
·         To have plenty pf spread and peanut butter on toast
·         To have different varieties of bread for toast: brown, multigrain, wholemeal etc. And to not feel as if it has to be thinly sliced. Those thick crusts are so nice. ;)

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Eating out with an ED.

Two weeks ago, the day before my sis arrived home to stay with us for a few days, I remember the feelings of excitement and happiness coursing through me. I hadn't see her in ages and I couldn't wait for a good proper catch-up. Also, the prospect of baking lots of Liz's favourite cakes - she, like me, has a bit of a sweet tooth and is also a fiend for all things chocolate; and would often chip in if I was baking when she was around, assisting me in licking out the chocolate bowl and nibbling on the chocolate chips, etc - and cooking a special family meal to share with all my loved ones always filled me with a sense of delight and self-content. But then, much to my disappointment, Mam mentioned those two words which once, when I had my ED, would have filled me with anxiety and apprehension. "eating out". And I still felt little twangs of those feelings two weeks ago...and I realised that I was afraid again. Why? Was it the thought of being moved out of my comfort zone? Of being served up a very large portion of food which I would be expected to eat? Of having to try something new and completely different? To not be in control of my food as I, for once, was not the one preparing it?
 I think those were my old fears...the above reasons, I think, were what caused me to be always so reluctant to eat out when I had my ED. But now it's more a case, I think, of...failure! Failing what? I suppose I am frightened of letting my family down again and letting any of my old habits show...and the risk of that happening does become more high when eating out. Being given a massive plate of food...I know I'm never expected to eat it all, but I recall all too well the last times we ate out and this occurred, and I felt uneasy and anxious, and that old voice was back in my head, You can't eat that, that's too much, eat as slow and as little as you can, let them know that it's too much and that you don't like it by not speaking or anything, etc...
 I really want to focus on eradicating that voice looking back now I know how much stress and frustration I caused my family whenever we ate out together. As my Mam says, eating out should be something to look forward to; not to get stressed about...and I really hope that in the future I will be able to make up for all those times in the past when what should have been a happy occasion was spoilt by my actions. So, the next time we eat out...I have made a solemn promise to ignore those voices in my head, to smile, to laugh, to eat and enjoy.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Now that's a biggg cake. :0 double choc gateau. :)


I wanted to make my little brother something extra special today, as this weekend he is moving out to live in Dublin for his first year of college :( yes, it will certainly be quite a sad weekend for Ganache-Elf…but before I go all sentimental on you, let’s talk about this cake. What with the whipped cream and two different types of ganache, healthy it most certainly is NOT. But delicious? Of course. And it looks awesome when it’s all assembled, so make sure to put it on the table before cutting into it so you can bask in all the admiring “oooh”s and “aah”s thus evoked.
For the cake:
  • 225 g margarine/butter, softened
  • 225 g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 200 g self-raising flour
  • 25 g cocoa powder
  • 4-5 tbsp hot water
  • A few drops of milk if needed
  • 2 tsp baking powder
For the filling: 125 ml whipping/double cream
For the ganache(s ;) ):
  • For the white choc ganache: 100 g white chocolate and 4 tbsp single cream
  • For the dark choc ganache: 150 plain chocolate and 150 ml single cream
  • Preheat oven to 180c/fan 160c. Grease 2 sandwich tins that are 20 cm in diameter. Line the bases with baking paper.
  • Blend the sifted cocoa powder with the hot water in a large bowl to get a thick chocolatey paste. Add the margarine, sugar, eggs, flour and baking powder and beat well with an electric mixer for about 3 minutes until smooth and well-blended. After two minutes pause the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a metal spoon or a spatula so it’s all nicely incorporated.
  • Spoon up a little of the mixture and let it fall back into the bowl to check that it is of a nice dropping consistency – it should slide easily back into the bowl. Add a few drops of milk if required.
  • Divide the mixture equally amongst the two tins and smooth the surfaces with the back of a spoon or a palette knife.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until the sponges are well-risen and springy to the touch when pressed gently with a fingertip: if a slight indentation is left when you remove your fingertip, then bake for another few minutes or so before testing again.
  • Remove from the oven and leave in the tins for about three minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Wait another minute, then gently peel off the baking paper. Leave to cool completely.
For the filling and ganaches. ;)
  • Make the dark choc ganache by melting the chocolate with 150 ml single cream, on a very low heat in a small saucepan. Stir until smooth and then refrigerate for about 1 ½ - 2 hours, checking after 1 ½ hours…you don’t want it very hard, just a nice spreadable consistency.
  • Next make the white choc ganache: in a small heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the white choc with the 4 tbsp single cream. Stir now and again and watch it very closely – the white choc will temper easily if it is overheated. As soon as the choc has melted remove from the heat and stir until nice and smooth. Refrigerate for about 1 hour – 1 ½ hours, checking after an hour, until the ganache is thicker and more spreadable. (Ganache-Elf tip: I actually chilled my white choc ganache only just long enough for it to set slightly...but it was still a little on the runny side; which meant when I sandwiched the cakes together a little trickled down the sides of the cake, which I thought looked quite pretty. :) )
  • Whip the 125 ml whipping/double cream until soft peaks form – but be careful not to over whip.
  • Next compare your two sponges – if one of them is not quite as well-risen as the other, take that one and place on a plate. (if they are the same it doesn’t matter which. ;) Spread the whipped cream over the sponge on the plate.
  • Take the other sponge and very, very carefully, slice it in half horizontally. Be very careful doing this: you want the two slices to be as even as possible. Be very careful handling them too as they will be quite fragile once you've cut them.
  • Then place one of these slices, cut side down, onto the layer of whipped cream. 
Now it is time to apply the ganache. :) I am going to outline the way I did to get the resulting cake in the pics above...but I just want to stress to you that this is most certainly NOT the only way you can do it...there are lots of pretty and decorative ways in which you can finish off your gorg gateau. ;)
  • Take the white choc ganache and spread it on top of the cake so that now you have a layer of sponge, then cream, then sponge, then ganache. Reserve a small amount of the white choc ganache for drizzling and decoration.Then take the third and final sponge and place that, cut side down, on top of the white choc ganache. 
  • Take the dark choc ganache then and spread it over the top of the cake with a palette knife, swirling to get a pretty decorative effect. Reserve some of the ganache for decoration.
  • Now to add some pretty finishing touches to turn your cake into the ultimate showstopper. ;) Here are some ideas to get you started...
  1. Drizzley effect: as in the pic above, after you've finished layering on the dark chocolate ganache, drizzle over the reserved white chocolate ganache to get a stripey lacey effect - use a teaspoon to do this. Put only a small amount of ganache and lift it high over the cake, using swift light movements so that only a very small amount of ganache falls upon the cake to create fine zigzag lines.
  2. Flakey effect: Crush one (or two...or three...etc.) Cadbury flakes, Galaxy ripples or Cadbury Twirls (as fine or as chunky as you like: or have a mixture of small and big flaky bits.) Scatter over the top of the cake.
  3. Rosettes of ganache: Pipe rosettes of ganache (dark or white - or use a mixture of the two :) ), using a piping bag with a fluted nozzle,on top of the cake. Just make sure the ganache is of the correct consistency for piping.
  4. Grated chocolate: coarsely grate a generous amount of white, dark or milk choc - or a mixture if you like - over the top of the cake. It helps to chill the chocolate before doing this.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

The foods that I love…and which CAN help me to recover.:) (part 1)

I started the day off today, with this big bowl of bitty branflakes. Now one of my dearest friends and I are at odds over this matter: that being, the bits left at the bottom of a box of cereal. She hates them, and always throws the bag away when she gets to the very end, claiming that she just loves to open the new packet: with its guarantee of lots of big chunky bits of cereal easily accessible at the very top. But as for me…I could not disagree more. I adore the bits…I think it’s the way they absorb the milk more easily or something when they are like that, but whatever cereal it may be…whether that be Weetabix, bran flakes, malt wheats, special k…yep, it’s true to say I love them. In fact, when it’s oming near enough to the end of the packet, but there are still some large flakes left in the bag obstructing me from reaching the smaller bits…I have often opened the new box and actually transferred the large pieces to the new packet, before greedily taking the bitty ones for myself. Sad but true. Well, I don’t feel too guilty about it though…as everyone else in the house seems to be of a similar opinion to my friend when it comes to bitty cereal. Oh well, good news for me I suppose.;)
Bitty branflakes are quite possibly my favourite of all. And these weren’t just sort of bitty, either…they were really, really bitty. Because it was the end of a 1 kg box you see…we buy bran flakes in bulk as it’s much better value. So as soon as I came in from my walk I grabbed my bowl and my glass for warming milk, and a few minutes later I had my perfect breakfast. Easy to please? I guess so! But I promise you that every word of this is true.
Anyway, back to the main purpose of this post. The main reason why I mentioned the bitty bran flakes was this. As I was sitting eating them I thought about what I wanted to blog about today. And then I thought about how much I was enjoying my breakfast, and how much I would enjoy the various foods I would have today. Don’t you just love food? And then I decided, well, today I’d write about the foods that I love the most, that make me happy, which I just love to ok, bake, prepare, or eat. And you know, as I have said a few times before…when you’re trying to gain weight, it’s a great idea to focus on the foods you love the most. Because after all, it’s a lot easier to eat the foods you like and enjoy, then trying to force down some edible item which they say is really healthy for you and blah balah blah…but which you are not really enjoying and are reluctant to eat anyway???
·         Cereals…namely, Weetabix (big and small J), malt wheats, bran flakes (the bittier the better ;) ), Shredded Wheat (big and small), Weetaflakes, Special K, Shreddies, ready-brek etc etc etc…I like them all really, EXCEPT (yes I am really going to stun you with this revelation :o ) – I am not actually a big fan of the chocolatey based cereals such as cocoa pops. I usually have a good bit of tepid milk on my cereals in the morning…I love the way it absorbs easily into the cereal. Though hot or cold milk is pretty awesome too depending on what cereal it is. Hot on branflakes….hot or cold on Weetabix…it varies really. I love cereal, though. It’s definitely something I always rave at breakfast time, though I’d happily eat it as a snack too…or even for lunch, but I know that that it doesn’t really count as a proper lunch. ;)
·         Toast…surely, toast has to be one of the most comforting, most yummy foods in the whole wide world? Like cereal…I love it so, so much, and there’s never really any time during the day when I’m not in the mood for it. The smell of hot buttered toast…ahh, my mouth waters just to think of it. I like my toast simply spreaded, or with jam, or with peanut butter. And the most ideal piece of toast has to be the crust at the end of the loaf…soft on the inside and crusty on the outside…yumyumYUM!!
·         Hot chocolate…well I think you guys already know that. ;)

·         Apples…along with bananas, definitely my favourite fruit: but they have to be crisp and juicy…there is nothing more disappointing than biting into a lovely shiny looking aple and then discovering that it’s actually soft and horrible and tasteless! But if it's firm to the bite and sweet and crunchy..for a yummy quick snack an apple like that is just perfect. I love them and could easily munch my way through three a day if I was very hungry, but usually I just have one. ;) Granny Smiths and Pink Ladies are probably my favourites, though Braeburns are nice too, and coxes...I'm not THAT fussy really. ;)
Part 2 of Ganache-Elf's favourite foods coming very shortly. ;)

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Carrot, coconut, cinnamon...and a wee bit of ginger too. :)


These little guys were rustled up today in my spare time…well we have just had our first (hoorah!) long-awaited glut of carrots from the garden…but I’m afraid I wasn’t permitted to use THEM in the featured cupcakes above, oh no. You see carrots were on offer this week in Aldi, so in the fridge we already had tonnes of these wonderful orange vegetables, and then just today daddy comes in through the back door of the house with his arms full of homegrown ones. Which we are having later on for dinner, btw – so it was up to me to use up those ones in the fridge, some way. Well, what better way than carrot cake? But hang on – these are even better than carrot cake…light scrumptious little cupcakes packed full of grated carrot, ginger, cinnamon..and one of my alltime favourite ingredients…dessicated coconut.
About 2 - 3 carrots, depending on size: you need approx 150 g worth of grated carrot. 
110 g soft light brown sugar
6 tbsp sunflower oil
30 g dessicated coconut 
1 large egg
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
75 g self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
A little icing sugar for dusting
 Line a muffin pan with 6 paper muffin cases. Preheat oven to 170/150c fan.
Sift the flour, bicarbonate, salt and spices into a small bowl.
Beat the egg in a separate bowl with a wooden spoon or electric mixer and add the oil and the sugar. Mix well once more until well blended.
Top and tail the carrots, peel and then coarsely grate them (ganache elf tip: prepare them just before you need them so you don’t need to worry about them going brown or storing in water to prevent that. ;)
Add the carrot, coconut, flour, bicarbonate, spices and salt to the egg mixture and fold in with a large metal spoon.
Carefully fill the muffin cases with the mixture (I usually pour straight from the bowl – but you can use a spoon if you would prefer…but the mixture is quite sloppy so be warned ;) ). Place the tray in the preheated oven and bake for about 20-25minutes, until well risen, light golden brown and springy to the touch.  
Leave in the tin for about 5 mins before removing carefully and placing on a wire rack to cool. dust with icing sugar before serving. They don't keep very long because they are so moist and are low in fat, so try to eat as fresh as possible - bit they should be fine kept in an airtight tin for up to four/five days. :)

If I still had my ED...imagine everything I would be missing out on.

On Monday I endeavoured to make fish cakes for the first time ever...I have always wanted to try and make them in the past, but two things had always held me back. The first lone being, of course, that I was afraid to when I had my ED, because I was worried that I say my fish cakes turned out big and I was forced to have one whole one, or two whole ones....of having no control over the amount I had on my plate...the fear of having to do that always put me off making them. I didn't think Mam was overly keen on them either, so fish cake-making remained an unknown entity to me for a while.
But over the weekend Mam mentioned that she did indeed like fish cakes...and so I thought...why not. The old ED frettish thoughts tried to influence me but I paid them no heed. I wanted to try and make them for did I want to see if I liked them. They had prawns in them too, a seafood I had always consciously avoided...not only did the very look of them repulse me, but I knew from home ec that shellfish, unlike oily and white fish, was high in saturated fat...hence it was a big no-no for me to have back then.
 They weren't perfect, needless to say - they weren't quite as firm as they should have been, and didn't really go brown as they appeared in the picture of my recipe...but I can honestly say they tasted really, really good, despite their rather bedraggled appearance. And eating them made me ask myself the question which features as the title of this post today. Imagine, all the yummy foods I would be missing out on, if I still was living a life in which my ED was in full control?
 And yesterday evening was another example of was really cold last night and before bed, Mam had made me hot chocolate... (well even if it wasn't cold I would stil have had one of course.) no, what was unusual and only really occurs when it is cold at night is that Mam made herself an know, the malty-chocolate drink? I've never had it before...I was always too afraid to try it back then. But last night Mam let me have a teaspoon of hers. And it was....absolutely what melted malteser centres would taste like if I ever went to the trouble of attempting to melt them I suppose. ;)
So yes, it's just one of the many, many reasons to choose to you really want to just go through life too scared and nervous to try new things because you've heard some people say - or perhaps that should be, you've heard your ED say - that they are bad for you, that they are high in sugar, fat, calorie-dense, etc, etc?? I'm so glad that I am over that diet is now so varied and pretty exciting, such a drastic contrast to what it used to be.:)

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Creamy smoked salmon pasta:)

I've been told by whoever I've cooked this for that this is of restaurant standard, and when I made it today I actually remembered, for once, to get the camera out and take some pics of it...I know that they aren't exactly restaurant standard (cameras and computers are definitely NOT my forte), but anyway...this special pasta dish is most definitely a top favourite in our house. And it's easy to see's creamy and indulgent, with the delicate flavours of the onions and chives complementing the distinctive smokiness of the salmon...and well, who's to say that this is of restaurant standard - it might even be better than that. Who needs to eat out when you can just as easily recreate delicious dishes such as this one in your very own kitchen? ;)

Creamy pasta with smoked salmon and chives (serves 2)

  • Bunch of fresh chives
  • 125 g smoked salmon
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 125 ml dry white wine
  • Salt and pepper
  • 200 g tagliatelle/linguine, or other ribbon pasta
  • 100 ml single/double cream
  • 40 g butter, diced
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 small lemon
  • 1 tbsp oil (vegetable/olive etc is grand. :)

  • Fill a large saucepan with water, add a good pinch of salt and put on the hob to bring to the boil.

  • Melt the butter very gently over a low heat in a big frying pan, then raise the heat to low-medium. Add the onion and fry gently for about 5 mins.

  • Snip the chives up with scissors into tiny little pieces. Cut the salmon into small strips.

  • Add the wine and simmer for about 2 minutes. Then add the cream, the lemon zest and juice, bring to a gentle simmer once more and then reduce the heat to low.

  • Place the linguine in the boiling water in the saucepan, add the 1 tbsp oil to prevent it sticking, bring to the boil and simmer for 9-11 minutes until cooked, stirring occasionally(or cook according to packet instructions).

  • After the linguine has been cooking for about 4 minutes, add the smoked salmon to the frying pan and raise the heat to low medium again to bring to a gentle simmer once more, then lower the heat again – don’t let it bubble too fiercely. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Put a little cup in the sink and drain the linguine in a colander over the cup so some of the pasta water pours into it. Return the linguine to the pan and add about 1/3 of the cup of pasta water. Add the smoked salmon sauce and the cut chives. Place over a very low heat again and toss well so that the linguine is nicely coated in the sauce.

Serve warm perhaps with some garlic bread and a green salad, and lots of grated parmesan cheese for sprinkling. ;)

Thank you, My Cocoa-Stained Apron…

Ok…so why are you thanking your own blog/dirty apron, Ganache-Elf?? Well I am sort of thanking both, actually…but why and why now? Let me explain. As I keep on bewailing and lamenting…summer is drawing to a close. And unfortunately…I’m not quite sure where my blogging will be going from here…will I have the time to blog when back at coll. I will want to, of course – I would much, much rather blog than do any of my course-related stuff. If we lived in a world where we could all just do what our hearts truly desired…? Well I don’t think I’d ever go back…but I feel as if I have to, and not going back is just not realistic and affordable.
But hey, I might e wrong…I hope that I am wrong, I hope that I will be able to continue with my logging once college starts again. Because I have found that I do love blogging, that I haven’t completely lost my old love for writing…and that My Cocoa Stained Apron has developed into something truly special, for me. I know I probably don’t have any readers, that my blog is probably just one tiny seed in a massive field of wheat…there are so many fascinating and interesting blogs out there I know, and I am sure that they are a thousand times better than my own one. But, anyway…even if I haven’t helped anyone else, even if my recipes will never be read, let alone be of use to anyone…well, I can still say that My Cocoa-Stained Apron has helped me to…
·         Beat my ED…by acting as a diary of sorts where I could record and reflect on all that happened to me, to the changes I made and the goals that I wanted to achieve…by allowing me to take note of all the habits and patterns of behaviour that I wanted to be free of…for enabling me to tell the world how I really feel.
·         Connect with my old love of writing…and prove to myself that I can still write; that I’m not completely useless. My Cocoa-Stained Apron has made me realise that if something means a lot to me, then I can write about it: that I WANT to write about it, too.
·         Realise that I am a baker and a cook…that I love food and that I love working with it. My blog has allowed me to share the recipes that I love and cook in my own kitchen, as well as acting as a place where I can record what I bake/cook every week and acknowledge that I am actually quite adventurous and diverse when it comes to cooking…I’m always ready to take on a challenge and try something new, while at the same time staying true to the classic timeless recipes I’ve been making ever since I started my baking journey.

And of course...I have my faithful apron to thank, too. For through baking and blogging I've come to realise how much I love food, writing about food, and eating delicious things...and without a doubt both my blog and my baking has helped me defeat my eating disorder for good.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Today feels like a good day. :)

It does, it really really does. Last night before I went to sleep I sat up in  ed for a long, long time, staring at the Winnie the Pooh wallpaper of my room, but not really seeing anything. I think I have come to a sort of realisation once more...that even though I have taken some huge, scary leaps since May, even though I have taken an active stance against my ED in many respects...that still, there's alot more that needs to be done; and I've been kidding myself in saying that I am getting "better and better" by each passing day...because no, I'm not. I am better, but not getting more and more better: I'm half recovered, and my old ED thoughts are telling me sure that's fine, let's stay like this - we don't need to go any further. But no! I don't want to be like that, stuck in semi-recovery forever. I want FULL recovery, there are things I want to do with my life and achieve...which I know I won't be able to if I don't completely change my ways, as I outlined to you yesterday.

What has really made this become so clear to me all of a sudden...well, a few things really. My sore aching feet being one of you know there is nothing that makes me happier than blissfuly long walks with my dog Ben...but recently, my feet have been troubling me while I walk and have reduced my enjoyment of them somewhat. I'm beginning to wonder whether I've hurt them in some way...and, because of my fragility still, whatever is torn or strained or whatever is finding it hard to heal. :(

Secondly, college is starting again in two weeks :( and I feel scared and unprepared once more...I want to stay at home in my own little world and not have to worry about what people think og me and what I look like, that I stick out like a sore pin because I look so young and girl-like in a university. I know I detest my course and everything, but I can't help but wonder...would I really feel this anxious and insecure, if I was fully recovered? Would I not feel more mature, older, more confident of myself?...

And of my summer draws to a close, I get all reflective and meditative (one thing you must know about me is that I am such a daydreamer and I am constantly overthinking things and situations.) and look back upon all that has happened over the past 4 months with a sort of aching was lovely. But I know that such a wonderful summer would never have come into being if it hadn't been for the amazing, special people in my life. And I owe it to them...I want to do this for them...I will never, ever be able to make up for everything they've done for me, if I don't do this. And that's the most important thing of all for me to remember.

So today is different...and today is going to be a good day. I'm going to smile today and do the things that make me happy. And I am going to eat well and eat the things that I love. I don't choose anxiety and lingering ED thoughts and insecurity...I choose happiness, health, life: FULL recovery. :)

Sunday, 7 September 2014

This is what I want to do...this is why I need to recover.

I know that summer is coming to a close, now. I wish with all my heart that it wasn’t…the thought of returning to college to go into third year of English Studies does nothing to thrill or excite me, not in the least. And I have just had such a lovely, lovely summer. 2014 will always be a memorable year for me…for many reasons, but most of all for being the year which I finally did realise I had an ED, and that I wanted and needed to do something about it…
Anyway, today I thought I would write out the things that I want to do and that I want to be…but I know that these things will only be brought about if I choose recovery and weight gain, not vice versa. It’s all the more reason to never give in, to fight ED thoughts and habits every hour of every day.
  • ·        I want to do this for my family, my friends, all my loved ones…I know that seeing me at a healthy weight would make them so happy.
  • ·         I want to be able to show people that you can recover from an ED if you only have the strength to do so and the courage to believe you can do so.
  • ·         I think I will be a better baker/cook too if I could just do it…and I don’t think I am a good “advertisement” for my own cooking at the weight I am at, at the moment.
  • ·         I would love to look into doing primary school teaching…but to do that I think I need to look a bit more mature. And I don’t think at the moment I am anything like that…I still feel very immature and insecure.
  • ·         Recently I hurt my foot and it’s affecting my walking somewhat. So that just serves as a reminder, too…if I ever did really hurt myself, it might take me a long time to recover properly because of my fragile slender frame. And I don’t have much body fat to protect myself.
  • ·         I would really love to be able to get back into writing my medieval book again…but it’s such a big project, and I want to take that on when I am fully recovered and feel able for it.:)
  • ·         I would love perhaps to be able to cycle and walk further than I already do, or perhaps even go to the gym sometimes or jog…again, I wouldn’t feel right in doing this until I am recovered and at a healthy weight.
  • ·         I would really like to become a lacto-ovo vegetarian but at the moment I know I can’t really as I’m not yet at a healthy weight and I need to eat a bit of meat and fish to gain weight.
  • ·         And in this semi-recovery stage…I feel as if I can’t really go shopping and buy clothes because…I don’t know what size to get. At the moment I am sort of a big size 6, or a little 8…but would it not be good for me to become an 8 in all shops? YES it would.:) and anyway…it’s a lot easier to find size 8 clothes than 6. And whereas in the past I would not have fitted the “Small” size in shops which don’t do 6, 8, 10 etc, I would be able to if I gained a bit of weight.

That’s all for now…there are more, but I have an appointment with my beloved Kenwood mixer now, so more later ;)

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Everyone in the world is trying to lose weight...except for me. :(

I am sure i am not alone in this…I suppose, when you are trying to gain weight, you become super conscious of what you are eating, and not only that, what everyone else around you (and well…what you think everyone else in the big wide world…) is, too. And yes, it is very diverting and off-putting, when you are like me and trying to gain weight and eat more and exercise less…when it seems like everyone is literally trying to lose weight and become slimmer and eat less and to exercise loads and to not exceed the recommended amounts of calories and sugar and salt and fats and………..the list is endless, isn’t it…
I’m glad to say though that this is less of an issue for me as time has gone on. I think I have learnt to close my eyes to it, and focus on what is most important for me, myself. I think it is sort of true to say that we live in a world obsessed with losing weight…and what with the never-ending reports on rising obesity and the dangers of being overweight being hammered into our heads on an almost daily basis…it sometimes makes me want to yell out loud: but what about us? I mean, the people who are recovering from EDs and want to gain, not lose.
I think it’s so important to pay attention to both sides of the coin…neither of these problems should be treated as more significant than the other. If you are too fat, get help. If you are too skinny, get help, too: don’t just do what I did and do nothing for days, months, years upon end, and waste so much of your life dieting and watching what you eat and eradicating all possible enjoyment to be obtained from food.
I think too people underestimate just how hard it is to actually gain weight…well for some it might be easy, but if you had an ED like me, it’s a different matter altogether. The thought of being too full…of eating MORE than what you feel comfortable, safe with…having to face the fearful concepts of having a bigger, more-rounded body. It’s NOT easy, and those who laugh and say…you’re trying to gain weight? Well aren’t you lucky! You can literally eat what you want. Just EAT! It’s so simple!!! are wrong, so wrong! So please, if you know anyone with an ED, or who had an ED and is trying to recover…be as sensitive and as supportive as you can. It’s one of the best possible things you could do.  

Anyone would think you bought these in the shops. ;)

Muffin cases are often to be found amongst the various other items in the shopping trolley on Friday, when Mam and I make our weekly trip to Tescos. I'm always making cupcakes, it is true to say. Firstly, because they are just so popular with everyone...everybody loves being given a little box of adorable homemade cupcakes, smothered in lots of pretty iceing. And they are (well, sort of, depending on what you put on them I guess. ;) ) so portable too, so handy for being popped in packed lunches or for grabbing out the tin for a quick bite when you're on the go. And of course...cupcake making is just so fun, so rewarding, so enjoyable. I just love the creative side of cupcake-making...there are just so many different varieties, flavours, icings to choose from; and the way in which they are utilised or applied is all in the hands of the baker.  There's a cupcake for every mood and every occasion, I believe. If it's Halloween or Bonfire night...well I most certainly have an excuse to make my little spider cupcakes. Christmas time curtails the making of holly-leaf cupcakes, and in summertime only fresh strawberry-topped cupcakes will do. If I'm feeling a little sluggish, a coffee cupcake ticks all the right boxes; if I can't make up my mind as to whether I want a cupcake or a biccie, flapjack cupcakes help to solve my dilemma somewhat. And of course, if I am feeling in the need of both chocolate and cupcake in one...simarly, these cupcakes are very useful indeed in putting all my problems to bed. ;)image
I must admit, I do have qualms about giving these as gifts to people...not because I'm worried that they won't be appreciated, oh no. These cupcakes are everything which a chocolate cupcake-lover could ask for...a light chocolatey sponge WITH lots of chunky chocolate chips; topped with a beautiful smooth silky chocolatey icing. (that being ganache, of course.) Oh no, it's not that. It's just I worry that people might indeed assume I went to the shop to buy a few packs of these, and that I did not make them especially with them in mind. Applying the ganache when it is still runny, you see, means that you have a cupcake with a smooth covering of ganache that looks very pretty, but also meaning that they are often mistaken for shop-bought; when they are anything but. Perhpas the taste would give them away, though. I like to think that my homemade cakes taste much nicer than the shop-bought variety, after all, so one hopes that a difference can be distinguished. ;) Do try to use light muscovado sugar for these, by the lends a lovely caramelly flavour to the finished product.:)
  • 125 g butter/margarine, softened
  • 125 g light muscovado sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 25 g cocoa powder
  • 100 g self-raising flour
  • 250 g plain chocolate
  • 150 ml single cream

  • Preheat oven to 180c/fan 160. Place 14 paper muffin cases in muffin trays.

  • Chop 125g of the plain chocolate into large-sized chips.

  • Beat the butter/margarine in a large bowl until really soft with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer. Add the sugar (see my tip from my triple choc chip cookie recipe about brown sugar and its occasional lumps! :) ) and continue to beat until lighter in colour and fluffy.

  • Beat the eggs lightly in a jug, then add about a quarter to the creamed bbbutter and sugar. Mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a metal spoon or spatula every now and again to ensure it’s all mixed in with not bits sticking to the sides. Continue this process, adding the egg a quarter at a time until it’s all used up.

  • Sift in the cocoa powder and the flour. Replace your mixer/wooden spoon for a large metal spoon and fold the flour and cocoa gently into the mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips next.

  • Spoon the mixture into the paper cases, making sure it is equally distributed amongst them all.

  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, until risen and springy to the touch. Check after 15 minutes, testing by gently pressing the top of one cupcake with your fingertip – it should spring back when you remove your fingertip.
    • Leave the cupcakes in the muffin tray for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Leave to cool completely before you make the ganache. (this ganache is made a teency bit differently to the normal method…you just don’t chill it at all before adding to the cupcakes ;)

    • For the ganache: put the cream and the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Allow the chocolate to melt, stirring occasionally. Once the chocolate has melted remove from the heat and stir until smooth and satiny.

    • Pour a little ganache on each cupcake so that each one has a smooth, shiny covering. Refrigerate for a couple of hours until set.