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.:)

Friday, 31 October 2014

Happy Halloween Cupcakes.:)

I know, I know...I only posted some cupcakes a few days ago; why on earth am I making even MORE cupcakes I hear you cry? is Halloween. So something Halloweeny had to be made, of course. And so yet even more frightfully cute cupcakes were whipped up today, with a spooky little Halloween touch to them.

Errrrr.... ok, before we proceed any further. You do know what these little shapes are meant to be, don't you? The reason I ask being, that my Daddy didn't. My Mam did though, thankfully, so I haven't lost hope in my piping skills completely. Well yes, maybe Daddy is right in saying the next time, I should make the pumpkins orange, and make the spiders more fearsome looking...he claims they resembled less like scary Halloween spiders and more like jolly, twinkley-eyed little octopuses. 

  • 125 g butter/margarine, softened
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 175 g self-raising flour
  • 5 tbsp full-fat milk + 3 tsp extra
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • few drops of red food colouring
For the ganache and icings:
  • 100 ml single cream
  • 100 g plain chocolate
  • 75 g icing sugar
  • 30 g butter, softened
  • few drops vanilla essence/extract
  • a little cream/milk as required

  • Preheat the oven to 180c/fan 160. Line a muffin pan with 12 muffin cases.
  • Beat the butter or margarine in a bowl until really soft, then add the sugar, the eggs and the vanilla. Beat well for about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl after a minute so that it is all nicely incorporated.
  • Sieve in the flour and pour in the 5 tbsp of milk. Gently fold in with a big metal spoon.
  • Transfer half of the cake batter into another big bowl and sieve in the cocoa. Add the 3 tsp of extra milk and mix gently together. The batter should be of a nice, soft, dropping consistency: add a little extra milk if it's a little thick.
  • To the other half, add a few drops of food colouring. (I used red but of's up to you. :) ) 
  • Drop alternative spoonfuls of the two batters into the muffin cases, filling each three-quarters full. Once you've done this, swirl a thin skewer in each one to get the lovely marbled effect. 
  • Bake the cupcakes for about 17-20 minutes, until well-risen and springy to the touch - if you press the top of one gently with a fingertip, it should spring back. If an indention is left bake for a few more minutes and then test again.
  • Leave in the muffin pan for about two or three minutes, and then move to a wire rack to cool.
  • Make the dark choc ganache by melting the 100g plain chocolate with 100 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.
  • When the cupcakes are completely cold, spread them with a generous layer of ganache.
  • Make the vanilla buttercream by beating the 30g butter/margarine until very soft, then sieve in the icing sugar. Beat together to get a nice soft creamy icing, adding a little cream/milk if necessary. 
  • Spoon into an icing bag fitted with a plain nozzle and then pipe shapes on top of the dark chocolate ganache. Pumpkins, ghosts, spiders, and a witch's hat (which looked anything but that in my case, but anyway...) were what I came up with...though of course there are many more possibilities. Just don't make them too ghoulish or you might put people off eating them. Oh, well, I suppose you are right...whether cuteness or scariness is involved or not, noone is ever really going to refuse a cupcake. ;)

So this is what is what it's really like...:(

Today I want to tell you a little about what happened to me last Wednesday.
I was at the doctor's...again. As was the case the last time I was there three weeks ago,  I went with the intention of asking for advice about my foot, which has, of late, still been causing me alot of bother, and is still far from being one hundred percent better.
 As I walked - or sort of half-walked, half-hobbled down towards the little health centre at the far side of Trinity, I drew in deep, long breaths of the fresh autumn air and felt my mood lift a little with each inhalation. It would be ok. It would be ok. The doctors were going to help me - they would, in some way or other, miraculously heal my foot and I would be able to walk properly again. How bad could it be? It wasn't broken; there must be something that they could do, that I could do, to help it heal good and proper.
 And then, I thought to myself joyfully, as I turned the handle of the clinic door and stepped into the bright, cheerfully-lit waiting room with the health-promoting posters and the little TV set with those irritatingly amusing british TV shows...and then, then I really, really would be able to focus on my weight gain good and proper. Being able to walk properly again, I would be able to resume once more with my long blissful promenades in the morning and the evenings once again...and I would have the appetite of a horse! I was going to eat loads!!
 That morning when I got up, this was the main train of thought in my mind. This new hope had filled me with positivity. Before I left for the train I treated myself to a good, hearty breakfast: a thick crust of multigrain toast slathered with a load of peanut butter, and 2 - yes, 2, not 1 and a half!! - weetabix with lots of warm milk and a sprinkling of sugar. I was stuffed afterwards, but it felt good. What had once been, at one time, a source of anxiety and alarm to me -that being fullness - now didn't really affect me at all.
 But I walked out that very same door that day in a flood of tears...I went straight to my friend in the library and we went for hot choc in Insomnia, which served to soothe me somewhat. But it couldn't quite eradicate the strong, overwhelming sense of guilt and disappointment which was bludgeoning through my head. With every throb of my pulse, the word failure echoed within my skull. For that's what I felt like, in every sense of the word...a complete and utter failure.
 For my meeting with the doctor that day...a different one from the gentleman I saw last week, this was a female doctor with a quietly serious expression...served to remind me once more of how far I have yet to go. Of how lucky I really am, as well. For I am lucky to have got to where I am was a miracle that I even got through the past two years of college. How I did it, I honestly don't know. The lady doctor gravely told me, at one point in our meeting, that students like me have been taken out of college due to their condition. And boy do I understand why. For I know. I know! I know all too well what it is like, to be starving...because of yourself. Because you are too scared to eat. I know what it is like to not have the energy to actually sit down, take out a book and do some study. The reason for that being your mind can't focus on anything...because it is deprived, like your body, of the vital nourishment it needs to function properly.
 I still need to gain weight, I still need to eat more. Now, I know what it is really, really like - to be, I suppose, sort of "diagnosed" with an eating disorder...things have been taken out of my own hands, now. And it's my own fault. Like, I could have done this on my own. But I didn't take it seriously enough. All those silly little habits and ways related to my ED that I still wasn't quite prepared to let go of...those times when I didn't have appetite and thought, carelessly, I don't need to eat as much today, I'll be fine...all those days when I walked and cycled so, so far, but didn't eat extra to compensate for all that energy lost...well, I regret it now. Now I'm being monitored and have been forbidden to exercise and it's just...awful. I have to gain something by the next time I see my doctor; a dark cloud of pressure is hanging over my head every morning I wake up, at every time I sit down to eat. I wish, I wish I had known better.
If you take anything out of this post today...just please, remember what has happened to me. If you reached the half-recovery stage and were too afraid to go on...please, please, please, don't turn back. Don't end up like me..walking around like a cripple and having to sit in the doctors waiting room once a week in order to get your bmi taken and your weight checked again and again, with the doctor sternly telling you that students like you have had to pull out of college, are lucky to have got to where you are today...
Please, please, please, don't let your ED hold you back...don't let it stop you from making that full recovery, and becoming the person you really want to be. Don't let it stop you from becoming truly happy, healthy, and free.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

colourful cute cupcakes... :)

There's something just so, irresistibly adorable about the cupcake. Surely, they have to be the daintiest, prettiest, and undeniably cutest members of the baking world? Of course, as with many things, appealing and aesthetic qualities can be greatly enhanced with a little bit extra of tender loving care. And so is the case with these little beauties.
I mean, just look at them. ;)

So even before the divine white and dark chocolate ganaches are applied, the extraordinary beauity and enticing qualities of these miniature gateaux has already been well established. All thanks to a little colour coordination on the part of the baker. Mine were pink, yellow and brown, but of course it's entirely up to you and what kind of mood you are in. On Paddy's Day this year I had green and yellow ones in keeping with the Irish theme. And then, of course, when they are topped with the two different kinds of ganache, the delightful attractiveness of your colourful creations is made wonderfully complete. As you can see from the pic above, varying the way in which you actually apply the ganache...a little dark rosette on smooth white coating in one, one big dark swirl on another, or vice versa...augments their charm ever further. Though once more I must stress that my way is NOT the only way. feel free to experiment with different types of ganache and the ways in which you choose to decorate your cupcakes. I think a glace cherry or a malteser, for example, might look very sweet stuck on top of a dark chocolate ganache swirl, surrounded by very fune shards of grated milk chocolate or sprinklings of icing sugar for a snowy effect.   
Anyway, on to how to make your very own marble-lous cupcakes. ;)
  • 125 g butter/margarine, softened
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 180 g self-raising flour
  • few drops of red food colouring (or whichever colour you like ;) )
  • About 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence/extract
  • 5 tbsp full-fat milk + extra for the cocoa batter
For the ganaches...
  • 4 tbsp single cream
  • 100g white chocolate, chopped
  • 100 ml single cream
  • 100g plain chocolate, chopped

  • Preheat the oven to 180c/fan 160. Line a muffin pan with 12 muffin cases.
  • Beat the butter or margarine in a bowl until really soft, then add the sugar, the eggs and the vainlla. Beat well for about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl after a minute so that it is all nicely incorporated.
  • Sieve in the flour and pour in the 5 tbsp of milk. Gently fold in with a big metal spoon.
  • Now it's time to make your cupcakes all pretty and colourful. ;) Depending on how many colours you want, distribute the mixture evenly between two, three or four bowls. (or five, or 6...rainbow cupcakes?! well there's an awesome idea. ;)
  • For the cocoa-flavoured batter: If you are doing just three or two colours, sieve the 1 tbsp of cocoa powder into one of the batters and add about 2 tsp (or more if necessary) milk to get a nice soft dropping consistency. (if you have just two batters perhaps add a heaped tbsp of cocoa and 3 tsp of milk so its chocolatey enough. ;) ) for more than three colours, add a little less cocoa and milk - if you have six colours, say, you'll only need about 1/2 tsp. (It's not an exact science, so don't worry too much about it. My advice would be to aim for about 1 tbsp for 2-3 olours, 3/4 tbsp for 4-5, 1/2 for 6...etc. ;)
  • For the other coloured batters, simply add a few drops of your chosen food colouring to a batter. Leave one batter plain if you want a yellow colour.
  • Distribute alternative spoonfuls of the different coloured batters amongst the 12 paper cases, filling them about three quarters full. When you're done, take a little thin skewer and swirl it round in each case to get that gorgeous, swirly marbled effect.
  • Bake the cupcakes for about 17-20 minutes, until well-risen and springy to the touch - if you press the top of one gently with a fingertip, it should spring back. If an indention is left bake for a few more minutes and then test again.
  • Leave in the muffin pan for about two or three minutes, and then move to a wire rack to cool. While they are cooling make the ganaches, starting with the dark chocolate ganache. ;)
  • Make the dark choc ganache by melting the 100g plain chocolate with 100 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.
  • When the cupcakes are completely cold, decorate them with the two whatever way you heart desires. To get swirls or rosettes of course, you will need an icing bag or small piping bag fitted with a star-shaped nozzle. The cupcake in the front right of the pic above was first covered by a smooth layer of white ganache, before a small rosette of dark ganache was added on top. But don't worry if you don't have one. Undisputed prettiness is guaranteed whichever way you choose to finish off your cute cupcakes. ( As is, I am sure, the likelihood that all your friends and family will be won over entirely by the charming appeal of these edible, colourful little delights. ;)

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

I remember...

Well I don't think it's very likely that I will ever forget them...them being, the things I used to do when I had my ED which at the time, to me, were perfectly acceptable, even normal...but which I know now were exactly the reverse of that. Some of them make me want to cry with shame and guilt...others just make me almost want to laugh before I stop and think, that actually is not funny. The ones I hate the most are the ones in which any form of deception was involved. I know I told lies...horrible, open-faced my family and friends, in order to keep up my guise of normality, to keep them from worrying about me, to prevent them from learning to awful truth.
I wonder if anyof my readers could relate to these. They became so much part and whole of my everyday routine, that I didn't see any harm or abnormality in them. But writing them now makes me realise how disillusioned I really was. And I really hope if there is anyone out there who was in the same situation as in, you might have an ED but you are refusing to acknowledge to that one simple fact. I really hope that this post might help open your eyes and realise that those seemingly innocent and harmless habits and patterns of behaviour are in fact ED-type symptoms.
 Don't let your ED continue to control you and make your life a someone, seek help, and regain control of your life again.

I remember.

I remember coming home at the weekends from college, and my Mam remarking how much thinner I looked, how tired and haggard my face had become. On being asked was I having three regular meals a day, eating properly, looking after myself...I would spontaneously assure her I was. I was just stressed. That bit's not a lie: I was stressed; but I was most certainly NOT eating properly, and I deceived her every Friday of every week, again and again and again...all for the sake of staying thin. I didn't want her to know what I was doing, what I was not eating.

I remember making delicious meals for my family to have during the week when I wasn't there, all the while thinking hopw much I would love to stay with them, eat with them...but knowing in my heart that the evening they would be sitting together enjoying what I prepared for them, I would probably be sitting alone eating nothing. I cooked little meals for my roommate too if I knew one evening I was going to be back late from college...and then when I did get home she would always ask me "have you eaten Emily?" and I would reply...yes, I got something in town.

I remember the evnings when I just couldn't put off the hunger for any longer; and I would creep into the kitchen, fretting anxiously about what I was going to eat. I would stand in there for ages, wondering and worrying and screwing myself up, before ventually taking out something...something small, but filling, in the hope that it would keep the hunger pangs at bay. A small owl of cereal, or porridge made with water and skimmed milk...a small piece of wholemeal toast....a bowl of peas or boiled carrots. Though by the time I went to bed though I would usually be hungry again, but I would just ignore that feeling, and lie down beneath the quilt with that hollow, empty feeling in my belly.

I remember how I would scrutinise everything when it came to amounts. I would pour cereal, bit by little bit, into a bowl, and then spend ages just looking at it before I put on the milk, anxious to ensure I hadn't exceeded the tiny amount I would usually allow myself to have. I always tried to use the same crockery, so it was easier for me to keep my food amounts and portions the same. I would count the slices of potatoe I would put on my plate, I would cut off pieces of meat or bread or whatever and push them off my plate if I thought I had too much...

I remember washing clean plates and bowls and spoons in order to trick my loved ones into thinking I had eaten before or after them...and then, when everyone else gathered together to eat, I would slip away to my room and sit in there alone, trying to study or read...but not being able to, as my stomach would be groaning and my head would be throbbing with a horrible combination of guilt and anxiety...guilt, for having to lie to them, though they meant the world to me. But anxiety, because I was so, so afraid that at any moment, someone, somehow, would have discoved that in reality, I had eaten nothing.

I remember running my hand along my torso and feeling the protruding ribs, or pulling on a skirt or leggings over my bony hipbones and taking,,,taking comfort from that. The fact that I was skinny and that even being ugly and unattractive couldn't change that. I was in control of my body and my food intake, and to me - miserable, lonely, homesick, and crushed down by my own self-made feelings of worthlessness and ineptitude...this to me was some sort of comfort, back then..the fact that I wasn't "big".

Monday, 13 October 2014

One of the many, many reasons why I want to get better. :)

I can't believe I never introduced you all properly to one of my most special and beloved friends...and of course the best and most adorable doggy in the world. My Benny. Here he is with me yesterday. :)
I think really, I should soon dedicate an entire post to Benny...I know that my life would be empty without him. I love him, and I can never really look at him without smiling, or without feeling a warm, tender glow suffuse throughout my heart.
 Yesterday we took Benny for a walk at Cadamstown in the Slieve Blooms. It was what you would call a perfect autumn day. A clear blue sky the colour of fresh new forget-me-knots. Autumn sunlight batheing the gorgeous canopy of leaves above our heads, which ranged in colour from brilliant sunshine yellow and delicate emerald green, to coppery bronze and tawny chestnut and chocolate brown. Robins and blackbirds calling sweetly from the berry-laden hedgerows, accompanied by the gentle cooing of a plump woodpigeon or the harsh croak of a coal-black rook. It really was truly, truly wonderful. I can honestly say, if it wasn't for me and my foot problem, and my anxieties about whether I really can beat my ED for once and for all, all crowding in on my head...well, I really do think that I would be near enough to being perfectly happy. I know, it's easy enough to say that, but as I walked, somewhat unsteadily, in the sunshine yesterday, I just felt that bit closer to a sort of flawless, unbroken tranquility and inner peace of mind.

But no of course...there are still a few things that I need to rectify. I need to fully recover. My foot of course needs to heal as well, but this fight with my ED is not yet over. And as well as prompting me to reflect on how beautiful and uplifting life really walk with Benny yesterday served to remind me of something else, too. I really, really do have reason to, not one singular "reason" - reasons, should I say. There's no pluses or benefits involved in staying like this forever - stuck in semi-recovery. But if I look towards the future that's stretching out in front of me and think of what life would really be like without my ED...when I think of what it would be like, to be completely free. To enjoy every single bite of every single bit of food i choose to eat, and never have to worry about whether or not I am eating too much, too little, too much sugar, calories or fat. Then every fibre of my being knows that in choosing not to give in - in choosing to face my fears and anxieties and uncertainties full on, and to fight every single little remnant of my ED with all the courage and strength I could possibly muster - in choosing to do just that I am going to make an enormous difference to my own life and to the lives of others. A positive, generative, and life-changing difference. I am going to choose health and happiness and life; I am going to choose recovery. I choose to help myself and to help others out there who might be suffering from the same terrible, manipulative, and soul-destroying disease which I, at one time, had lost myself to, body and soul.

To be able to walk normally again. To be able to run after Benny as he scampers through braken and undergrowth; or as he charges around the garden with his ears flapping wildly and a rotten apple or a broken flower-pot in his jaws. To be able to stride up rocky mountain paths with the wind in my face and the golden beams of the sun dancing upon my skin. To be free and able to do what I want, with the most special doggy in the world at my side.
 That's just one of the hundreds upon hundreds of reasons why I want to recover, of why I want to beat my ED. Why I will. One day soon I will roam as happily and as carefree as Benny did among the heather and between the great tree trunks of the woods yesterday. One day I will be completely free.:)

Sunday, 12 October 2014

And now I know the truth.

Friday was a bit different from other days. Different, and very, very emotional.
 I went to the doctor that day about my foot. Last Saturday I started getting achey twinges in the top part of my right foot. As the week went on, the pain refused to go away, and my foot became swollen and sore. Reluctantly, I went to the student clinics in Trinity for a drop-in appointment, and, after waiting for about two hours in a stuffy waiting room, with the smell of Vick and Olvas oil in my nostrils and the unpleasant sounds of sniffing and sneezes and general fluey-type noises in my ears, I finally got to admitted into the clinic, where a kindly middle-aged doctor asked me why I had come. As he did so he took a long, calculating look at me, his solemn grey eyes concerned. I firmly resolved to not conceal anything from him, and proceeded to explain what exactly was troubling me in regard to my foot.
 The words he spoke next bore into my skull like nails being hammered into a doorframe. "You're of a very small stature, Emily...Have you always been this thin?" he asked quietly.
 I had gone in there to talk about my foot. I hadn't intended in mentioning the enormous part of me wanted to, but something, something held me back too. I suppose I was afraid. Even to this day, I find actually talking about my ED - not writing, but actually putting my experience into words and speaking it out to someone face to face - very, very difficult. But I couldn't go back now; and his thoughtful expression gently prompted me to reveal the truth.
 A nurse took my blood pressure and measured my height and weight, and calculated my bmi. I was dismayed when she told me that I was still underweight and that my bmi was too low. I blinked away my tears and told myself to grow up and be brave. After all, I know why I am still not quite there. I know why I am still not yet at a healthy weight, why I am still quite, well, tiny. For after all, I know that there are those odd times when I let my ED get the better of me. I know that there are those days when I exercise alot more, and don't compensate for these extra calories used by increasing my food intake. I know that there are still those odd, silly little habits which I practice nearly every day and which I know, I know, that I shouldn't - picking bits off bread, choosing the smallest bowl for a smallish portion of cereal, filling my sandwiches way too sparingly with a few tiny slices of cheese or a tiny dollop of tuna mayonnaise...and I guess it just all added up. It just makes me shudder to think, that if my BMI is too low now - now, after having gained some weight: not much, but some -  well, what about when I was ill and at my bad could it have been back then? How dangerously close was I to being hospitalised? Of having been put on a life machine to keep my heart beating, my lungs working. How close I death.
 I was in the doctors for a total of about three and a half hours on Friday. It was a gorgeous, sunny, crisp October day; and all I had wanted to do, once I had finished my lectures at 12, was to go home  and get out of the city, to stroll amongst the golden coppery leaves of Emo, our regular Friday haunt, and to just forget about the world, my life, and the mess I seemed to have made of it. But I'm not going to just resign myself to despair: NO. I've come too far to just give up now. Yes, I didn't want to go to the doctors after my last lecture...but I am so, so glad that I did. once again it's a reminder that I still have work to do, that I still have weight to more than ever. For starters my foot is not good, and that's probably due to my fragile bone structure and from walking too far and too long and too fast, and not eating quite enough to enable my body to be fully capable for such activity. I need to get back my period, I need to get my bmi up to a healthy average once again. I need to fully - not just partially, but fully - throw off my ED...and become the person I want to be; the real Emily, the real Ganache-Elf. :)

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

And NOW it's time to blog. :)

One of the things that has been bothering me of late as you might have noted, is the fact that I haven't been able to blog much at all, like I did in summer. :( But yes, I have come up with a solution to my dilemma...
 I am going to set aside some time to blog. This will mainly be...

  • When I have my hot choc breaks at home. Blog and hot choc? I couldn't be happier. :)
  • When I'm travelling by train or car or bus...I might try making notes or writing drafts, and then transferring them to my laptop once I get home. 
  • After dinner, about 9 am, is going to be my "me time". I'm not going to just waste my time anymore trying to read or do college stuff...there is just no point and I was only kidding myself in the past thinking I was getting something productive done at this time of the day. Instead I am going to blog, or bake, or knit...something I like. :)
I know that my Cocoa-Stained Apron is not yet complete. I still have alot to say about my baking, my cooking, my life and my recovery. I still have advice to give and recipes to share. Why should I stop blogging because of college? There's no way that I am going to. 
 I think, you see, that recovering from my ED has really helped me to realise that life IS a gift. That every day is precious, and that we all really should live for the moment...and that it is so, so important that we set aside a little time every day to do the things we love. And for me, alongside many other seemingly simple, but truly wonderful things that I do every day in my life, which make me so, so happy...there is blogging, and reaching out to others in this world. And spreading the love of all things chocolate too perhaps, as my next post will fully testify. ;) 

Saturday, 4 October 2014

little chocolate sponges. :)


No matter what the time of year or the occasion, cakes are just never going to go out of fashion…everyone loves them, and the hundreds of different varieties and flavours out there mean that making your own cakes is rewarding, exciting, and an immense joy in itself. But I’ve often found, especially recently what with my sis and bro not being here, that sometimes making a big cake is just not economical...and what could be possibly worse, than having to throw away ANY of your lovingly-made, formally yummy gateau, due to sogginess, staleness, or cream-gone-past-its-sell-by-date-ness, etc. But there are ways around this dilemma of course. Cupcakes and buns being the most obvious answer. Though I am quite proud of these little creations of mine: for they are, quite literally, miniature versions of the wonderful, classical sponge cake. A light chocolate sponge sandwiched together with creamy vanilla buttercream, and then topped with milk chocolate ganache...but they're only about the size of a teacup, and irresistibly cute too may I add. :)

For the chocolate sponge. J
·         110 g margarine/butter, softened
·         110 g caster sugar
·          2 large eggs
·         Few drops milk/cream
·         25 g cocoa powder
·         90 g self-raising flour
For the filling/icing.
·         100 g milk chocolate, broken into pieces
·         60 ml single cream, plus a little extra for the buttercream
·         110 g icing sugar
·         50 g butter, softened
·         ½ tsp vanilla essence/extract
·         Extra icing sugar for dusting
Method. J
1.      For the chocolate sponge: Preheat oven to 180 c/fan 160c. Grease and line a Swiss roll tin (mine measures about 25cm x 36cm, and is about 2 cm deep) with baking paper.
2.      Sift the cocoa powder into a large bowl and add the eggs, flour, caster sugar, and the softened margarine/butter. Beat well with an electric food mixer for about 2-3 minutes until smooth and well-blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a plastic spatula or large metal spoon halfway through the mixing so that it’s all nicely incorporated.:)
3.      Scoop up a spoonful of the mixture with your spoon and let it fall back into the bowl; it should be of a nice soft dropping consistency and slide easily back off the utensil into the bowl. Add a few drops of milk or cream to achieve this if it’s not quite right. J
4.      Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and spread out with your spoon evenly. Smooth the top with the back of the spoon. Place in the oven and bake for 10 -15 minutes. The cooked cake should be risen and spongey to the touch; it should spring back beneath your fingertip when lightly pressed.
5.      Wait for about a minute, then gently tip the sponge out of the tin onto a wire rack to cool, peeling off the paper when it’s out the tin. Leave to cool completely.
6.      When the sponge is cold, gently move it onto a clean work surface. Use a  8cm pastry cutter to stamp out neat circles. Try and do this so that you have an even number of circles and that as little sponge as possible is wasted.
7.      Make the milk choc ganache next: gently heat the 60 ml single cream in a small saucepan over a low-medium heat and slowly bring to the boil. As soon as the bubbles appear remove from the heat and add the broken up milk chocolate. Leave for about 5 minutes and then stir together until smooth.
8.      Chill the ganache for about an hour until it is of a nice spreadable consistency.
9.      Make the vanilla buttercream: beat the butter in a big bowl until very soft, then add the icing sugar, the vanilla and a few drops of cream/milk. Continue to beat until you have a spreadable icing.
Using a piping bag fitted with a fluted nozzle, cover half of the sponge circles with swirls of buttercream. Reserve a little though for decoration. Top with the remaining sponge circles.
Spread the milk chocolate ganache neatly over the tops of the cakes.
Pipe around the edges of the tops of the cakes and then dust with icing sugar for a pretty finish.
Note. Of course, feel free to use different fillings/icings then the ones I used above. You might like to fill them with jam or whipped cream perhaps, and sprinkle on some granulated sugar on top; or fill and top them with white, dark or milk chocolate ganache, or chocolate buttercream... well as I said so before, when it comes to cake-baking, there are endless possibilities. And even if you are making cakes of much smaller dimensions, that doesn't mean that the your decorating/icing options have shrunk as well after all. ;)

Being back at coll....and how things ARE better. :)

If you have read my blog before, you probably already know that I don't really like my course and that my whole college experience hasn't been the most enjoyable one. I know I can't help disliking the course. But as for college itself? Well, I know all too well that unfortunately, I did let my ED essentially tarnish my experience of being at university... I allowed it to affect me physically, mentally, psychologically, and intellectually, in a number of negative and damaging ways. I didn't realise it at the time...or maybe I did, but I refused to acknowledge it to myself; just as I refused to admit to myself that I had an ED.
 But this year...this year is going to be alot different.
 I went to the library today for the first time ever since starting back. It's not one of my favourite places, to be honest, as for me it reminds me of...a few things. whenever i go and sit in one of the silent, shadowy rooms, surrounded by so many studious-looking young people who seem so thoroughly engrossed in a massive book of impossibly minute script, or whose eyes seems permanently glued to their laptop while they fingers rap upon the keypad in rather startling comparism, or who have their desk strewn with paper upon paper of neat, concise handwriting...whenever i go and sit in there I immediately am reminded of several things from my past two years in Trinity.

First of all of general feelings of inadequacy... That I can't do this; that my course is a lost case and that coming here to try and study is just a lost cause as I am going to do shit anyway.
And then...hunger. Of wanting to eat, so desperately - but not permitting myself to.
And because I was hungry, I couldn't focus or concentrate. All I could think about was food, and how long it would be till my next intake of something small. And so the hours would drag painfully on, and on, and on.
 How much time I wasted, how many tears of frustration and misery my inability to work caused brings a hard lump to my throat when I look back at it, now. Especially in the knowledge that it was entirely my own fault and that I could have done something about it easily...but I was too afraid to change. And what if I did eat more and gain weight...and I was still unable to concentrate?

But then today I had a new sense of hope. I can't say that I came out the library after a couple of hours, having finished off what I wanted to do, full of confidence and self-appraisal, of course...that's just me. But I was able to concentrate, and I did what I needed to do, and I was happy enough with it. AND of course...I wasn't starving hungry. Before I had gone in there I scoffed the brown submarine roll I had made earlier with fresh tomatoes and hard-boiled egg, followed by a delightfully crisp Granny Smith. And just in the off chance that these wouldn't quite deter my peckishness until I was done, a variety of little snackrels were strategically stowed at the bottom of my bag: granola bar, Twix, banana, and a blackberry yoghurt to name a few. ;)

I know that I will never be good at my course. I know now I am no longer the academic, studious girl that I used to be at shcool, who would experience a rush of disappointment and anxiety if she didn't get the top grade in that biology test, or who might be found, right into the hours of the late evening, pouring over scribbley notes by lamplight or reciting key quotes and phrases so that they would be the last ever thing in my head before I went to sleep that night. No, that's not me be honest with you, if I manage to get my pass in my degree, I will be both surprised, and satisfied. But at least now things are better, and that I have the energy and courage to try my best. To study as well as I can, without killing myself, and to do everything that I'm capable of to get through the final two years of my course. My ED might have played a part in making the first two years seem like a hellish, never-ending battle, but this is where the struggle ends; this is where my real life begins and when people can really get to see the real me. :)

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

And just to testify that I have NOT neglected my cocoa-staining of late. ;)

oh no....not at all. Beleive me, there was no lesser amount of chocolate, flour, sugar, cocoa, eggs, or any other commonly used ingredient in the kitchen of Ganache-Elf that wasn't in the trolley last Friday. I'm still baking, and loving every moment of it too. The weekend gave me a bit of time to make something fiddley and time-consuming...yes, to my Mam that sounds quite nightmarish I know, but I am quite happy to be honest doing a bit of fiddley...and it makes the finished product ever the more special as you KNOW you have put so much care and love into making just that.
So here we are, profiteroles. The recipe is not my own, so I think it's best I don't share it for now :( but please bear with me - tomorrow, I will reveal to you a recipe of whose resulting produce are just so, so cute and absolutely scrumptious...and there's even an option in regard to fiddleyness, too - you can be as decorative and as deliberational over them as you like, or you can just finish them off woth a simple but beautiful touch and not bother will all the's up to you. And it's something chocolate, too, by the way - not that that's anything extraordinary or unusual when it comes to this blog, I guess.

I'm back! :) and my apron is as cocoa-stained as ever. :)

Hi everyone! I know, it's been a while... :(
I had an awful feeling that this would happen...that once coll started I wouldn't be able to blog as much :( but this weekend I made a decision -  I AM still going to blog!! Maybe not as much, but there is and will be still time to write my Cocoa-Stained Apron :) my plan is to write little drafts on the train commuting to and from coll...and of course writing out my recipes doesn't take much time or energy, after all. And yes of course I am still baking...oh no, please don't think that my beloved apron has been buried underneath an unsightly pile of doorstopper English texts...Chaucer, Geoffrey of Monmouth and Edmund Burke's Reflections, to name a few. Oh no, of COURSE not - it's more likely the other way round. The apron is more often being unfolded than those books opened I'm afraid ;) and those books are going to be at risk of being cocoa-stained too if I'm not careful...only the other day poor Chaucer's noble face got an unsightly splattering of melted Cadbury Dairy Milk on it. :( my favourite ever blogger Izzy posted a brief summary of my story and linked My Cocoa-Stained Apron too :) and this of course meant that I absolutely HAD to blog tonight. Writing now, I realise how much I really do miss it. It had become part of my summer routine I suppose....towards the end of the holidays, not a day would go past that I didn't post about something.  But as I say, I don't think college should stop me from blogging. I love to blog and I don't want to let a course that I dislike anyway stop me from blogging...I firmly believe that life really IS too short and very, very precious. and for us to not be able to do the things that we love to do best, which makes us happy, which gives us a sense of joy and pleasure and well-being...well, that's not making the most of life. I think revoering from an eating disorder has really opened my eyes up to that, that one simple fact. And I know that blogging makes me happy, and that even though my posts aren't very well written or anything...well, who knows. Perhaps they do mean something to someone, perhaps I really could make a difference in someone's life by my blogging. And so with that in mind, I'm going to wash those sticky fingers of mine once more and squib a few squirts of Fairy on my apron before sitting down with my laptop once again, to give my other Cocoa-Stained Apron...the figurative one, perhaps a good English student would say, but I'm not one of those so I'm not going to call it that. ;) - some long due and much needed attention. ;)