January 15th, 2010

Baked cheesecake with embossed pattern

(with step-by-step with pictures)

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Baked Cheese cake biscuit base recipe with making process pictures/ images - with embossed pattern of unicorn & squirrel(…with unicorn pattern embossed)

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Baked Cheese cake biscuit base recipe with making process pictures/ images - with embossed pattern of unicorn & squirrel(It is ultra c r e a m y & the texture is melt-in-your mouth like a soufflé!)

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This must be one of the most easiest of cake recipes!

  • It doesn’t involve separating eggs.
  • Nor whisking any time-delicate meringues, so you can take as much time leisurely making it.
  • There’s minimal washing-up to do too, as all the mixing happens in one bowl.
  • As for the biscuit base, you can further avoid washing-up by simply massaging the store-bought biscuits & butter in a food bag! Of course you can do it the usual way by using bare hands, but do it my way, you’d also avoid getting unpleasant biscuit-mash in your nails & your fingers buttery.^^ On that same note, I also suggest cling-filming the 3 middle fingers when pressing down the biscuit to the base.
  • There is no adventurous water-bath method to contend! (Some cheesecake recipes use the water-bath method to cook it gently so that it doesn’t crack, but I for one have a long hate-relationship with the method ever since the water seeped in to my cakes via the removable bottom in many occasions in the past…)

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The texture of the cheesecake is creeeeeamy! I managed this by tweaking the balance of the ingredients so that it uses tons of double cream/ sour cream/ cream cheese, but as little as possible of flour (… flour creates the ‘structural pillar’ that holds the cake in the inflated spongier shape – please read my blog-entry on flour for explanation of this).
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I sell my cheesecakes down at the market. And I’m happy to say that it’s been a hit no problem. It’ll always definitely be in my line-up because it has acquired a bit of a following ^^

– Like the lady who said: “I used to buy your flour-less chocolate cake all the time, but now I converted to always buying the cheesecake!” And the spectacled-man who’d get disappointed if it’s sold-out. There’s also my favorite tomato-seller girl who’ve been buying the whole cake for 4 weeks in a row, but says she never gets to eat as much as she’d like to because her boyfriend & her family loves it too!

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The pattern:

When I first started selling the cheesecake, it had no pattern on top. Although I was perfectly confident with the taste, I felt the presentation needed ‘Something’. Y’know, that ‘Something special’ for the wow factor & for the customer to justify their purchase. For a long while I was thinking of a solution to this; & I was enquiring around to see if I could get an iron stamp that I could heat & emboss/ burn a pattern with. But, one, it is difficult to get hold of, & secondly it’s never in a pretty pattern!

– So next I thought what about stenciling with cocoa powder? But maybe not. It’ll be too smudgy…

– Then it occurred to me while I was embossing my chocolate bird tart. Ah! Just invert it! Cocoa powder & cookie cutter! Simply dab cocoa powder on the blunt end of the cookie cutter, then tap off the excess & stamp the cake!
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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Baked Cheese cake biscuit base recipe with making process pictures/ images - with embossed pattern of unicorn & squirrel(I get asked A LOT at the market on how I do it!)

www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Baked Cheese cake biscuit base recipe with making process pictures/ images - with embossed pattern of unicorn & squirrel(My favorite stamp! – I love unicorns…)
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Note:

  • I mixed together oat biscuits to the plain digestives to add interest in flavour. It also gives you a different sort of crunch compared to the pap the digestives can become.
  • Resting the pressed biscuit base in the refrigerator while you make the filling firms the butter within.
  • Sour cream tenderizes the cake, as well as enhancing the tang of the cream cheese.
  • Excessively tapping away the air bubbles is the key to avoiding cracks on the surface that is the oh-so-common pitfall of baking a cheesecake.
  • Lining the sides of the pan with baking paper also helps to avoid cracked surface. The common problem with the cheesecake is that it tends to stick to the side of the pan, but as it cools it tries to pull away from the wall. This tension ends up with a cracked surface. Whereas if you line it with baking paper, the paper will agreeably pull away with the cake too…
  • The only down-side about this cake (if there is one) is that you have to keep your mitts off & leave it to mature over-night!

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So here it is! (Finally!) My baked cheesecake recipe.

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The Baked Cheesecake Recipe:

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Ingredients:

For the biscuit base:

      70g Oat biscuits

(…Obviously it depends on brands, but for me it was 4 ½ biscuits)

      85g Digestive biscuits

(…Obviously it depends on brands, but for me it was 5 ½ biscuits)

      70g unsalted butter


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For the filling:

      70g unsalted butter

 

      90g castor sugar

 

      330g cream cheese

 

      90 ml sour cream

 

      100g whole eggs (approximately 2 eggs)

 

      100 ml double cream

 

      25g flour

 

    12 ml lemon juice

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Method:

  • 1. First begin by greasing a 8″ round spring-form cake pan with butter. Then line both the base & the sides with greaseproof baking paper.
  • 2. Now on to making the biscuit base. First measure your biscuits (70 grams Oat biscuits + 85 grams Digestive) in a food bag.
  • 3. Crush them by hand or bash it with wooden rolling pin. Leave some chunky for interesting texture.
  • 4. Melt 70 grams of butter. Put it in the food bag.
  • 5. Massage the food bag to combine.
  • 6. Empty the mixture in a greased & lined pan.
  • 7. Press the biscuit mixture firmly to the base. I like to do the edges & work to the middle. (Optional: cling-film the three middle fingers for hygiene & to avoid buttery fingers!)
  • 8. Refrigerate the pressed biscuit base while you make the filling.
  • 9. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees centigrade.
  • 10. Next, in a mixing bowl whisk the 70 grams of butter until very soft & creamy.
  • 11. Add in the 90 grams of sugar. Whisk & combine.
  • 12. Add 330 grams of cream cheese. Whisk & combine.
  • 13. Add 90ml of sour cream. Whisk & combine.
  • 14. Add 100 grams of whole eggs. Whisk & combine.
  • 15. Add 100ml double cream. Whisk & combine.
  • 16. Add 25 grams of flour. Whisk & combine.
  • 17. Add 12ml Lemon juice. Whisk & combine.
  • 18. TAP the bowl MULTIPLE times on the work surface to let the air bubble out. (take your time doing this as this is the key to avoiding cracked surface!)
  • 19. Slowly pour the mix in to the cake pan. Tap it some more on the work surface.
  • 20. Place the pan on top of a baking tray, & pop it in the oven. (You need the baking tray to collect the small amount of butter that seeps out from the bottom of the cake pan)
  • 21. Bake for 30 minutes first.
  • 22. Have a look. If it looks like it is starting to brown too much on top, cover loosely with foil.
  • 23. Bake for another 10 minutes.
  • 24. Skewer test. I like it when it isn’t thoroughly cooked. (But obviously not raw!) If there’s a tiny bit of curdle on the skewer still, it’s fine, take it out.
  • 25. Leave aside – still in the cake tin – overnight to mature.

www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me - Baked Cheese cake biscuit base recipe with making process pictures/ images - with embossed pattern of unicorn & squirrel

October 24th, 2009

A little bit about the hot chocolate & hare

Coco&Me - Hot choclate machine at market stall & wooden hare - www.cocoandme.com

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Last Saturday I finally started to sell my hot chocolate again now that the weather is proper cold! The basic recipe is 1 part cream, 1 part chocolate, 4 parts milk. – I pour it in a simple white paper cup & then sprinkle dark chocolate shavings on top for the lux effect!
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Coco&Me - Hot choclate machine at market stall & wooden hare - www.cocoandme.com

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And here is a picture of the wooden hare (not rabbit! The ears are long!) that I have been selling since the beginning of Summer. It is hand-carved, imported from Germany & the arms n’ legs are dangly. I’m glad to say that it’s going down really well & my stock is running out fast…
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Right now it’s 1:30am on Friday night, & I ought to be in bed, ready for tomorrow’s market! (The weather forecast says it’s 90% rain… oh joy…) I’ll add more to this write-up next week when I get a chance! Good night!!
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xxx

August 6th, 2009

The cakes that didn’t make it

www.cocoandme.com - rose tart & cherry clafoutis - Coco&Me

(Wine poached pear, sliced then arranged like a rose, above a layer of chocolate ganache – Adapted from a recipe from the book ‘The Seven Deadly Sins of Chocolate’ – Picture taken back in Summer 2006)

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Whilst doing the market for 3 years, there’s been variety of cakes & chocolates that have appeared upon my stall table. Most stay popular & remain in the line-up – like my Flourless Chocolate Cake that I have been baking since I started the stall. It’s a pure fixture, that one. I roughly make 4 to 8 of these 8-inch’ers each week, which must mean that I must have made about 800 of them by now?! (crazy number, crazy notion)
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But sadly, some get withdrawn (‘getcha crumbs & get out of ‘ere!’). Mainly because they didn’t sell well enough & I preferred to transfer the time making them to making the more popular ones instead.
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Indeed, there are also other reasons for pulling those products. For instance, cherry clafoutis (de-stoning mass amounts of cherries was cumbersome & it stained my fingers), opera (too time consuming to make all the layers & the costs became too expensive that I had to charge more), & the ‘wine poached pear rose & chocolate ganache tart’ – which got the people oohing as they see it, but only occasionally netted me the crucial sale…! They would say: ‘The tart looks too good to eat’ (they really do say this for real, not kidding!) & opt for safer options like ‘pear & almond tart’ instead. I still love this rose tart to bits though. The pear fruit goes really well with rich chocolate cream. I guess if I know that it can be sold in bucket loads, I would’ve stuck to it.
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www.cocoandme.com - cherry clafoutis, wine poached pear & chocolate tart & pear tart - Coco&Me(Picture of cherry clafoutis, the wine poached pear & chocolate tart & pear tart – picture taken back in Summer 2006)
www.cocoandme.com - cherry clafoutis - Coco&Me(Cherry clafoutis, 8 inch’er – Picture taken back in Summer 2006)
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The tell-tell sign for me to be convinced that they remain in my line-up is obviously its sales numbers, but, also importantly, it is when & if there are specific customers that come back for more of that same product, week after week with great reviews. The ‘Summer Fruit sponge’ (sponge colourfully studded with lots of raspberries, blueberries & blackberries) & the ‘Caramelized Banana Cake’ (whole pieces of bananas were caramelized before incorporated in to the batter) that I had sold for over a year was not the case, it was delicious, & it sold well, but never had the crowd wowing, & eventually I also lost the love for it.
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Whereas this ‘Baked Cheese Cake’ I raved about sometime ago in an earlier post is. Totally is. I really have to let you know the recipe asap & spread this deliciousness! So stay tuned!!

April 11th, 2009

Lemon drizzle cake with lemon icing

www.cocoandme.com - lemon drizzle cake with recipe

(For the extra glossy icing, I put the iced cake back in to a pre-heated oven of 230 degrees for just under 1 minute. – By doing this, the moisture evaporates a little & the icing becomes slightly crystalized, & shinier!)

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I’m the type that take cook books to read in bed. I have piles of them by the bedside.
I read through these books like a bible. And when I find recipes that are worth careful reading, I imagine every step in my mind… – I imagine what it must taste like. – And when it’s a “really” good recipe, I close my eyes & start to add or change the recipe here & there, think of how to serve them, & to whom, at what kind of occasion.

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Imagining about food, (especially with sugary content ^^) is my all-time stress-buster. Must admit, it HAS been known to have the dis-advantage of me hoping out of bed to raid my food cupboard at times (!), but the best thing about this imagination-game is when, sometimes, my trail of thought affects the contents of the dream I am to have that night.

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Whilst in my dream world, the said recipe gets wilder and wilder, & the story surrounding it most certainly strange, a bit like Alice in Wonderland actually. So far there was a nice guest appearance from Monsieur Hermè, who was slurping fizzy cola from a paper cup with some faces I knew from 15 years ago (that I thought I had forgotten about), critiquing the recipe in question! At a food court in a mall of all places! Lol…
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The other night I read a recipe book in bed as usual.

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And I got very much fixated on carrot cakes. I like ’em moist. The cream cheese frosting, a must. No raisins, but lots of walnuts. Easy on the spices.

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By now, I was hoping to dream more about it in my dream, but my dream story must have had a twist, – because when I woke up the next morning, as odd as it may sound, my fixation was not CARROT cake anymore but LEMON cake instead.

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When I woke up, I was like: – So that’s it. Here I am totally fixated on lemon cakes. Gotta bake it. Like, now. – But what kind of lemon cake? Should it have lemon juice &/or just zest? Which cake tin? Round? Square? How should it be garnished? Lemon Icing? Drizzled? What’s the best lemon/ sugar ratio for lemon syrup? … Hmm! It’s like trying to solve a good puzzle! I Love it.
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So here it is, my lemon cake recipe after numerous test-bakes & sacrificial loosened belts for the cause.

It is super moist thanks to the drizzle, & the sponge is flavoursome because some of the plain flour has been replaced with almond powder. It also keeps exceedingly well. Please take note, there’s lemony notes everywhere, what with the zest & the juice in the cake batter, the lemony-sugar syrup drizzle, aswell as more juice in the crunchy icing top. There’s the optional candied lemon strips for the garnish too. – IT’S pretty LEMON-MAD (but not in a OTT way).
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What does sour cream do to the cake?

As well as contributing a fresh & tangy flavour that’s just a perfect addition for a lemon cake, sour cream, being an acidic ingredient, tenderizes the gluten formed in the cake batter, which in effect, results in a finer, dense & moist sponge.
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Why clarify the butter in the cake recipe?

When you gently melt the butter, the 15% water content evaporates & you are left with three layers, separated by density. The top layer is fine foam of whey proteins that floated up, the middle is clear highly purified liquid, & the bottom is cloudy white residue of more milk solids.

The middle layer is the “clarified butter”. It’s unique points are:

  • It has a higher smoke point. It can be heated to 200 centigrade before burning (for example this is perfect for pan-frying, & for making pale coloured crepes!). This is because we’ve removed the milk solids which burns easily.
  • The highly purified butter gives the cake a concentrated butter flavour. Also slightly nutty fragrance. Typically financiers, madeleines & genoise sponge uses clarified butter.
  • It won’t get rancid as quickly as un-clarified butter, since the water content & the impurities had been removed.
  • The cake becomes moist & tender because the butter relaxes the gluten in the flour.

To make the clarified butter:

First work out how much to melt. You should melt 130%+ of what the recipe calls for. (My lemon cake requires 100g of clarified butter, so I’ll be melting 130g.)

  • 1. Melt butter in a saucepan or microwave.
  • 2. Skim the foam/ froth (whey proteins) that surface with a spoon. The best way to skim efficiently is to use the back of a spoon to gently push the froth to one side of pan & then spoon it out.
  • 3. Leave aside a little to let it settle in the pan.
  • 4. Finally gently spoon out the clarified layer, leaving the milky residue still in the pan.

The star tip here is to have it warmer than body temperature when time comes to use it. The warm liquid will be runnier to mix better with the batter (just like how oil is gloopier when cold, but watery when heated up). Melting & separating the layers is a little extra work to do, but it will make a difference!

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Another mundane but important tip is that you really will be better off if you weigh out all the ingredients beforehand.

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Lemon Drizzle Cake with Lemon Icing Recipe:

(8″ cake = 7 to 8 slices)

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Ingredients:

(quantities for 8″ round baking tin or something similar)

200g eggs (about 4 eggs)
240g sugar
a pinch of salt (3g)
135ml sour cream
20ml of lemon juice
190g plain flour
40g almond powder
5g baking powder
100g of clarified unsalted butter (have prepared 130g to skim from)
zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

For the lemon syrup to drizzle:

50ml lemon juice
60g castor sugar

For the lemon icing:

35ml lemon juice
200g icing sugar

For the garnish:

skin of 1 unwaxed lemon
50g sugar
roughly chopped “extra green” pistachio

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Things to prepare beforehand:

  • Line the bottom of the baking tin with baking paper.
  • Butter the baking tin sides. Then move around some flour in it so that it clings to the sides. Tap out excess flour, & store the prepared tin in the refrigerator until needed.
  • Grate 1 large unwaxed lemon & mix it with a teaspoon of sugar & leave aside ( = the sugar enhances the lemony quality/ essence). Remember, don’t grate the white pith under the yellow skin. It’s too bitter.
  • Melt 130g of unsalted butter. Weigh out 100g of the clarified liquid.
  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

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Method:

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  • 1. In a large steel mixing bowl, loosely whisk 200g of eggs.
  • 2. Put the mixing bowl above a pot with simmering hot water (bain marie).
  • 3. Whisk the eggs with 220g sugar (added in three go’es) until light cream in colour, & thick in textureIt should be so thick that it dollops off the whisk. You’d be whisking for 5 to 10 minutes. The egg mixture would look like it tripled in quantity.
  • 4. Put together 135ml sour cream + 20ml of lemon juice + lemon zest + 3g salt in a seperate bowl, then whisk it in to the egg foam. The lemon juice loosens the gloopy consistency of sour cream, & makes life a little easier to mix it on to the batter!
  • 5. Sift & then fold in the 190g plain flour + 40g almond powder + 5g baking powder.
  • 6. Warm the prepared 100g clarified butter to just above body temperature. Warm clarified butter is much more fluid than cold. It will merge with the cake batter better.
  • 7. Take a little of the cake batter & mix it in to the butter dish. This technique will ensure that the butter mixes in evenly & quickly.
  • 8. Now fold in the butter + batter mixture to the rest of the batter. Make sure it is thoroughly folded in to the batter from the bottom of your bowl, as butter is heavier than the batter, it sinks to the bottom & you’d have a weird hard layer on the bottom of your cake!
  • 9. Pour the batter in to the prepared cake tin.
  • 10. Pop it in the preheated 180 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until it passes the skewer test. Use a metal skewer & pierce the middle of the sponge. If it comes out clean & the tip is hot to the touch, then it is done.
  • 11. While the cake is in the oven, make the lemon drizzle syrup. Simply heat 60g castor sugar with 50g lemon juice in a small saucepan until the sugar has dissolved & melted completely. (Beware! The liquid easily boils over if you’re not watchful!)
  • 12. When the cake has baked, quickly de-mold from the tin & place upside down on an oven tray. The bottom will be the top of the cake. This way, you’ll get a level top surface perfect for achieving flat icing.
  • 13. Place the cake-tin wall back around the sponge. This trick will keep the hot lemon syrup from spilling everywhere.
  • 14. Skewer the sponge & spoon the hot syrup over it & let it soak in to the hot sponge.
  • 15. (Optional) While the cake is cooling, make the lemon garnish:
    – Peel the lemon skin. Make sure there’s no bitter white piths attached to the underside.
    – Cut it in to thin short strips.
    – Boil it in hot water for 3 minutes. Then drain.
    – Put it back in a pan with 50g sugar & just enough water to cover it.
    – Boil it for 6 minutes.
    – Leave to cool in the sugar liquid until you need it.
  • 16. Now make the lemon icing:
    – Place 200g icing sugar in a small bowl.
    – Pour in 35ml lemon juice & make the paste.
  • 17. Place (upside down) cake on a level surface. Pour the white icing in the middle, all in one go. Let some (but not all) drip to the sides.
  • 18. While the icing is still wet, garnish the top with the lemon strips &/ or chopped green pistachio.
  • 19. For the extra glossy icing, put the cake back in a pre-heated oven (230 degrees) for under 1 minute. The moisture evaporates & the icing becomes slightly crystalized. This step also changes the mouth-feel of the icing from gooey to somewhat sharper.
  • 20. Wait for the icing to harden. Never try to move the cake while the icing is soft as that will crack the icing surface.
  • 21. Slice with a sharp knife. Wipe knife after every slice for the clean cut.

Coco&Me : Lemon Drizzle Cake with Lemon Icing Recipe : www.cocoandme.com

February 15th, 2009

Happy Valentine’s Day 2009

Coco&Me - Happy Valentine's Day 2009! chocolates - www.cocoandme.com

(Think Easter eggs with chocolate buttons inside, only in a heart shape! – I obviously can’t pipe straight lines, but hey, just call it ‘part-of-the-charm’ will you?!)
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Coco&Me - Happy Valentine's Day 2009! chocolates - www.cocoandme.com

(Displayed with ‘white chocolate heart discs’ with strawberry & pistachios. A strawberry tip: when assembling, ruffle the leaves up to make it look ‘alive’.)
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For this year’s Valentine’s Day I made just two chocolate hearts, & two-dozen of white heart discs with strawberry/ pistachios. I also made a lot more of my usual heart shaped tarts, especially more with the red raspberry fruit on top, which I knew would be a good seller today.

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And indeed, the day was fantastic, with lots of men going for the obvious red heart tarts & co. Some of them had beautiful flower bouquets too (lucky ladies).

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I always knew today would be great for my stuff, but what I didn’t expect was the overwhelmingly high level of business I was to have. – I mean, the ‘fruit heart tarts’ sold out by 12 noon, & as for the strawberry heart discs, it disappeared by 1.30pm. At the end of the day, I pretty much sold all the truffles too!!

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Today, London is loved up, & I am proud to think that my chocolates & cakes have featured a little in their romance…
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Now that Valentine’s is over, the next big calendar event is Easter in April, when I get busy with making Easter eggs & bunny-shaped chocolate bars. But first, I’ve got a 3-tier Wedding Cake order for March! It’s for the son of my dear customer whom I like very much – I am so happy to be asked to make it!

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