6 Valentine’s Day Recipe Ideas

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Vanilla and Passionfruit Cheesecake by Simon Hulstone

1. Passion? You said it with this vanilla and passionfruit cheesecake from chef Simon Hulstone. Passionfruit puree can be bought from Amazon and you can buy fine leaf gelatine leaves from Tesco. Not sure whether these will be bronzed though!

Poiresauchocolat

Dark Muscovado Truffles By Poires Au Chocolat

2. Or how about making some delicious dark chocolate truffles for your loved one? Much more thoughtful than bought choccies. I recently reviewed these Paul A Young dark muscovado truffles which were easy to make and yum! Poires Au Chocolat made some lush ones pictured here.

3. Take your other half to a Valentines afternoon tea – why not? I recently sipped hot chocolate downstairs from Rabot, a cacao restaurant in Borough Market in London and their afternoon tea menu caught my eye. Think cacao-infused drinks, brownies, banana bread and gin-cured smoked salmon sandwiches.

4. Concoct a raspberry courting cake – inspired from my Lancashire roots, the mascarpone icing tastes amazing.

5. Bake some love bug cookies – these look very cute and bright – perfect to cheer up your partner on a wintry February day! Ready to roll red icing can be bought from supermarkets and you’ll also need some 8cm and 6cm heart cutters (you can get a set from Lakeland).

6. And if baking eludes you then make your partner a Valentine-inspired cocktail. Rasmopolitan or Raspberry Chocolate Kiss Martini gets my vote!

For more inspiration you can read my previous year’s baking ideas. What will you be baking this Valentine’s?

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Afternoon tea review: The Orangery

Kensington Gardens, afternoon teaOn Saturday I visited the Orangery in Kensington Gardens for afternoon tea with my friend. It was a beautiful sunny day so we didn’t mind waiting too much for a table. Unfortunately you can’t book in advance. We opted to sit inside so we could enjoy the atmosphere of this grand building. Each table has a little mini orange tree on it which is a nice addition. We chose the signature afternoon tea and an enchanted palace afternoon tea. The afternoon tea was on the whole very good although I have a couple of small gripes. The sandwiches could have been a little fresher – when eating finger sandwiches it is immediately apparent if they’ve been sitting about for a while. The scone although tasty was a little undercooked and heavy. On the plus side, the passionfruit mini tart was to die for. We couldn’t believe the people at the next table left theirs! They missed a treat. We loved the little cakes from the enchanted palace afternoon tea – a mini chocolate ganache gateau and a heart shaped shortbread with raspberries. We polished off everything! I am trying to avoid caffeine at the moment and there was no problem to swap the included tea or coffee for another soft drink. The homemade lemonade was refreshing and simple. Overall we really enjoyed the afternoon tea and would recommend it. However, be aware that at the weekends service is slow and staff seem content to keep the pace that way, even when there is a queue of people and the odd table is empty. Perhaps visit in the week if you’re on holiday or go with the mindset that you will be taking a very leisurely afternoon tea.

Landmark Hotel afternoon tea review

Selection of finger sandwiches and miniature cakes at the Landmark HotelToday I was fortunate enough to be invited to afternoon tea at the Landmark Hotel in Marylebone. We were met with a calming atmosphere as we walked in the atrium style room known as the Winter Garden restaurant. Piano music drifted from the mezzanine as we chatted. Three of us chose the Landmark Hotel afternoon tea which included a glass of Tattinger champagne for £40. We were met with a traditional three tiered cake stand with four types of finger sandwiches and 10 miniature cakes. The second round of cakes included a basket of warm scones with strawberry jam and whipped cream. I was absolutely stuffed by the end! This was shared between two of us. The afternoon tea is generous on tea and coffee – each person is given a large teapot each and I had a full cafetiere of coffee.The waiter also gave us second helpings of sandwiches. I particularly enjoyed the coronation chicken ones which were very fresh and tasty. On to the cakes! My favourites were the passionfruit dome, not dissimilar to a chilled mouse on a little biscuit, the chocolate and kahlua millefeuille, the crunchy caramel eclair and the petite carrot cake. The scones were warm and soft and came apart easily in two parts. My colleagues said the orange cupcake frosting was a bit hard and dry and the odd salmon sandwich had slightly dry bread but these were minor points. The only limiting factor was the size of my stomach; I didn’t manage all the miniature cakes but I made a hearty attempt at eating atleast six of them! The Landmark also does a chocolate afternoon tea but this wasn’t available today. I’d love to go back and review it. Overall a fabulous afternoon tea in a relaxing setting. And I’ve just returned from a freezing hockey training to burn off the cakes!

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