Wednesday, 17 December 2014


Recipe: Chocnanicot Muffins, I call them

Time Taken: 1 hour

Ingredients: 150g marg, 250g sugar,3 eggs, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, 2 ripe bananas, 250g plain flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 125g ground almonds, 150g dried apricots, 150g plain chocolate aaaaand either one big chocolate cookie or a few small cookies
 Hi readers,

Today, it’s Wednesday! It’s another day in the big run up to Christmas. For me, another day of general laziness and festive cheer. You can’t begrudge me this, readers, because after I graduate in June I’m probably going to be working for the next 50 years of my life. And some of those years I might have to work on Christmas Day! The horror! So I’m allowed one last good Christmas. And I hope, whether working or not, you’re having a good Christmas season, too. :)
So this morning I was reading the news headlines, keeping up with the world beyond this house, and I read about a student from Lancashire, called Dominique, who lost her bank card on a night out this December and was offered £3 by a homeless man, called Robbie, (this was the last of his money!) to get a taxi home. Dominique didn’t take Robbie’s money but she was really touched by his offer. 

And so, soon after, Dominique started asking friends and family and so on, to each donate £3 towards raising the money to help get Robbie somewhere to live. She also slept rough for the night alongside homeless people such as Robbie, in order to raise further money for the cause. And Dominique’s raised over £20,000!! Isn’t that incredible?!

I’m so wowed by what she’s done! As my friends at uni and my family at home know, I struggle a lot with the cold at winter. Up in Newcastle, I’ve been really worried this year about the homeless people near our university library. It’s been bitterly cold and all the students trudge past them each day to go sit in a heated building, and they’re often still there when we come out at the end of the day. I don’t know how they can bear it. 

And I know there are a lot of people in need around the world, and a lot of people in need in the UK. And you can’t help everyone blah blah. And the actions of some homeless people may have contributed towards them becoming homeless blah blah. But it’s bloody awful. And I hate that I don’t have the money to buy the people hanging out around the library a cup of coffee, at least. Something warm. When I have a proper job, I’m going to try to buy a homeless person a hot drink every day in winter.

So today, in my warm home, I’ve been baking up a storm for my family. And I hope I inspire you to do some baking too! It’s good for the soul. :) But I was thinking, maybe, if you don’t have enough friends and family to feed 12 muffins to, is there someone in need that you could offer a muffin to?  Maybe you could make someone’s day by being generous beyond belief, and offering them a home baked muffin? 

Plus, if this isn’t for you (and sadly I don’t know where to find people living on the streets in Woodhouse) or you’ve been really taken up to help people in need this Christmas, there are loads of ways you can spread some magic in December! You could help out at a soup kitchen? You could spend some time with an elderly person on your road? If it snows, you could even help them to shovel their front path? You can make such a difference with your time.

Also, I found a really cool website where you can donate £5 to cover the cost of a birthday cake being baked especially for a child in Sheffield, whose family is finding it hard to provide one on their special day. Isn’t that the best idea ever? Check it out:

Anyway, I’ve said my piece. And I hope that, this December, some of you might be thinking about the people who don’t have lovely homes to go home to. I know I will. And I wish them all the best for getting through Christmas. 

And now I can tell you about my baking!! Today, readers, I had the itch to do some serious baking in the kitchen! But I’m really broke so I was strictly limited to the ingredients we have in the house. This is normally a big issue, but I was pleasantly surprised!! The lovely mother has come through, and stocked up for my visit home. :) In the end I decided to combine banana, apricot and chocolate… in a moment of muffin-inspired genius!
To rustle up some of your very own Chocnanicot Muffins, follow these 20 simple steps…

1.       As it’s very nearly Christmas, pour yourself a drink. Why not?

2.       Line a muffin tray with 12 muffin cases.

3.       Prep your apricots! Measure out 150 grams of them and chop them up into quarters using a sharp knife.

4.       Prep your bananas! Peel them both and use a fork to mash them up.

 5.       Prep your chocolate! Break it up into pieces in a bowl.

6.       Prep your cookie! Use your hands to crumble it up into tiny pieces in a bowl.

7.       Heat your oven to 180°C.

8.       Measure your marg and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Then crack your eggs into the bowl. 

9.       Stir it up!

10.   Now stir in your mashed bananas. So much goo!

11.   Place a sieve over your bowl and sift your flour and baking powder over the mix. 

12.   Stir it up!

13.   Add your ground almonds and your apricot chunks.
 14.   Once more, stir it up!

15.   Spoon  your mix evenly between your 12 muffin cases until they’re all mostly full.

 16.   Transport safely into the oven to bake for half an hour. Catch a show on TV!

ChefBeHere Top Tip: The ad break of your show (I was watching Friends) is the perfect time to turn your muffins around in the oven so that they’re facing a different way, just in case some are baking quicker than others.

17.   When your muffins are golden and well risen, take them out of the oven and leave to cool.

18.   After a while (and maybe another drink) stick your chocolate in the microwave to melt for a couple of minutes. Don’t let it burn, mind.

19.   Spoon your melted chocolate evenly over each muffin.

20.   Sprinkle your muffins with cookie crumble for decoration! Serve to your adoring friends and family, and then anyone else you’re feeling generous towards.

It wasn’t to be this simple for me, readers. Disaster struck on Step 18 when I burned my chocolate in the microwave. It wasn’t fit for use whatsoever, and we had no more chocolate or no icing sugar in the house. What a nightmare! However, I got inventive and managed to melt some marshmallows in the microwave, stirring hot chocolate powder into the marshmallow goo little by little, and I used this instead of melted chocolate to stick my cookie crumble on to my muffins with. Phew!

Here’s my marvelous muffins!

What do you think? Impressive, huh? I’m so proud!! Decoration is not something I normally bother with. My baking often flies straight from the oven shelves into the mouths of hungry flatmates. And it’s such a shame! I’m so glad to day that I took the time to do something on top of my muffins. Even inspite of the disaster I had in the kitchen. Because they look so pretty!

Now, I can’t yet report on how these babies taste. They’re under lock and key, being saved for pudding after our tea later. But hopefully they taste as good as they look! As I was botching various recipes together, and turning loaf recipes into muffin ones, I was a little uncertain about whether these angels would rise or not or whether they might even explode, but I hit it on the head apparently. Who knew. They domed to perfection! 

So… go! Shoo! Stop drooling over my photos and go bake your own muffins! Do it! If you don’t have the apricots you can sub in any other dried fruit. And if you’ve already overdone the chocolate this Christmas, you could drizzle glace icing over your muffins and stick a piece of dried banana on top, there’s your decoration! Let me know how this one turns out.

And remember, always, to be grateful for the kitchen you bake in.

Bake safely this Christmas amigos,


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