"Betty Leopard": December 2011

Friday, 30 December 2011

That Was The Year That Was: 2011

So, the end of another year is upon us, and it seems to have come around so quickly! Although I've had this blog for a while, 2011 has been my first year of 'proper' blogging, and I think it's gone pretty well; I've certainly enjoyed it :)
I hope you have too. Thank you all for reading and I hope you stick around to see what 2012 brings.
Here is a brief overview of my 2011.

A Review of 2011 in Headshots
Those of you who know me will know that I like to change my hair quite a lot, so here is a brief overview of some of the looks I have sported this year. For those of you who don't know, see my post My Many Faces.

Some Of My Favourite Moments of 2011

Family Holiday to Gozo, Malta (June 2011)

I hadn't been on holiday with my family in so long and this came at a point when I was really stressed out with work, it was so nice to spend a week with the people I love, in the sun, eating cheese :)

Meeting Wolf Puppies at the UK Wolf Conservation Trust (June 2011)

There aren't many opportunities in life to sit with a litter of wolf pups in your lap. Due to Pete's involvement with wolf research and the UK Wolf Conservation Trust, I was lucky enough to do this :)

My 26th Birthday (July 2011)

Although Pete was away at the time, my mum came to visit and two of my very good friends went out of their way to help me celebrate with a whole lot of cake :)

Going to Cornwall with Pete (September 2011)

On Pete's return from working in the US (for 3 months) he took me away to Cornwall for a week, where we stayed in a lovely little cottage, saw some great sights and enjoyed glorious weather :)

Xmas Blogger Meet (December 2011)

This time last year, the prospect of me travelling to a city I had never visited before, on my own, to meet people I had never met before, would have been unthinkable. I am so proud of myself for doing this and so glad I managed to find the confidence as I had a fantastic time and met some great people.

These aren't the only good things from this year; if I were to list them all we'd be here for a very long time. These are just a few events that jumped out at me while I was going through photos from the year. There are a couple of things I've done in December that I still need to write about so haven't included either.

Today is my dad's birthday, but if I get time I will be writing a resolutions post later. If not, may I wish you all a very happy New Year. Have fun and stay safe :)


Tuesday, 27 December 2011


Just thought I'd put up a post of pictures of my Christmas day. We were with Pete's parents this year and had a lovely time, we were both thoroughly spoiled inn terms of food, drink and presents.

My Christmas make-up and Festive necklace from Clutterfly
Festive Puppy
Christmas table
So many presents under the tree!
Fluffy leopard print hot water bottle from Pete's parents
Me with rum from Pete's parents. Pete with whiskey from my parents
Decked out in my new leopard print dressing gown from my parents, faux fur tippet and headband crocheted by my mum
Hand crocheted headband from Mum
Books from Pete's parents and my parents
Betty licence plate from my parents
Cath Kidston mug from my parents
Alf wants his present

Hope you all had a lovely and relaxing time :)

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Get Stuffed

In a nice, festive, food related way of course dear readers! :)

I'm a big fan of cooking and making your own food from raw ingredients rather than using packets. As it's a few days before Christmas I thought I would share with you my recipe for making some awesome homemade stuffing. Although I'm not a big lover of stuffing, my boyfriend is, so I've been making this with a lot of our roast dinners recently. I'm probably even going to make it on Christmas day for his family (eep!).
It's really easy and much more satisfying that using a packet mix. Plus, you can vary the recipe to meet your own tastes.

Betty's Homemade Stuffing

1. Breadcrumbs.
Breadcrumbs make up the bulk of your stuffing. You can buy breadcrumbs, but I prefer to make my own. Take two slices of stale bread (white/brown/granary, whatever your preference) and blitz them in a food processor. If you haven't thought ahead to let two slices of bread go stale, as I often do, then you can toast them, and/or whack them in the oven for a bit. Just make sure the bread is really dry or you'll find it hard to make crumbs (although some larger lumps aren't the end of the world!).

Toasted bread ready to go in the oven to dry

2. Onions and Mince
I used half an onion, but you can use more or less depending on how much you like it. It needs to be diced, again the exact texture is down to you, you can really mince it up finely or leave quite large chunks. Heat up a pan with around a tablespoon of oil, then add the onions and fry gently, until they begin to look translucent.
Then add the mince. I've never really measured how much mince I put in, but I would guess about 1 cup or a large handful. I always use really cheap lamb mince for stuffing, because it's cheap and also it tends to have a higher fat content, which is good for this recipe. The mince is also quite flexible, it can be lamb, beef, pork or even veggie if you're not a meat eater (although I would add some more oil/fat if using veggie mince). Alternatively, you could use sausage meat, chopped up sausages or bacon. It's purpose is really to add fat and flavour.
When the mince is cooked, take the pan off the heat while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Lamb Mince

3. Herbs and Spices
Again, this stage is really open to changes to suit your own taste. Recently, my stuffing of choice has used rosemary, mixed herbs and hazelnuts; pretty much because that's what I've had around. I finely chop the rosemary and nuts (usually in a food mixer as doing it by hand is quite tedious, but you can buy chopped nuts if you need), then mix them in with the breadcrumbs, along with salt and pepper to taste.
There are loads of variations you can do with the herbs though. Sage and Onion is obviously a classic stuffing combination. You could try a Moroccan twist with some paprika and dried apricots and raisins. Go nutty with loads of nuts in the mix. Try adding garlic and lemon, which would go particularly well with chicken. If you fancied a meatier stuffing, use a larger amount of pork mince alongside chunks or apple or apple sauce, for another taste classic. If you're feeling a bit more experimental, how about adding mint for a stuffing to go with lamb? Basically, just get in there and try out flavours that you like and experiment a bit!

4. Mixing
Once you've added your spices to the breadcrumbs, pour the dry ingredients into the pan and mix thoroughly (not on the heat). If the mix seems a little dry then add a bit more oil.
Put the mixture into an oven proof dish and press down. You can pour some of the juices from the meat you're cooking over the stuffing as well, for added moisture and taste. Cover the dish with foil and bake at 190 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes, then a further 10 minutes with the foil removed (this is in my oven which is pretty poor, if yours if quite powerful then reduce the time and keep and eye on it).

Ok, so my bread wasn't quite dry enough and there are some pretty big chunks in there. It's just added texture!

5. Serve and Enjoy!!

I hope you are all looking forward to many happy celebrations and a relaxing day tomorrow.
Happy Holiday Wishes,

Friday, 23 December 2011

Absolutely Shattered

Today, I tried out my new OPI shatter polish in gold, that came in my December JolieBox.
I don't own any other OPI polishes, largely due to the price, but have been aware of the brand ever since I first heard about their Muppets collection (want). I have also never used a shatter polish before, but have been interested in trying one out for a while, so I was really pleased when I found this in my box.
While gold isn't a colour I wear a lot of, this polish is so pretty and just screams Christmas, so I've been eager to try it ever since it arrived!

Here I'm wearing a No7 polish in Damson Dream underneath the shatter polish. I liked the combination of the deep purple-toned red under the gold, especially during the festive period :) I've also got a top coat on top here, which I don't always do, as suggested on the bottle, and it did really increase the shine and sparkle of the gold.

The OPI polish was really easy to apply, with a good brush and consistency. The shatter effect developed a lot quicker than I was expecting and was fun to watch. I think I would buy more OPI polishes in future, if I'm feeling flush!

This months JolieBox (actually the first UK JolieBox, previously known as Boudoir Prive) was really impressive. While the (full size) polish is probably my favourite product, the others were all also really exciting. Unfortunately, I've had to leave the rest of the box at home while I'm away for Christmas so can't play with or write about the rest of the box yet.

Hope you are all getting in a festive mood. These nails have definitely helped me :)

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Xmas Blogger Meet

Last Friday, I travelled all the way to Bristol to attend the South West Bloggers Xmas Blogger Meet, organised in association with MyStreetChic.com.
I had been aware of the event for a while, but had put off buying a ticket, largely due to nerves. The idea of travelling on my own to a city I had never visited before in order to attend an event with a lot of people I didn't know put me well out of my comfort zone! But challenging myself to do things that take me out of my normal, safe behaviour is an important part of trying to enjoy my life more; so I took the plunge and booked the ticket, then swiftly booked a hotel to ensure I didn't try to back out at the last minute.
I'm so glad I did.
Although I had intended to head up to Bristol reasonably early in the day and explore the city a little, my manically hectic schedule last week meant I didn't end up getting in to Bristol until about 5 pm. I navigated my way to my hotel, which wasn't far from the station, checked in and set about dolling myself up for the event. Picking the right outfit had been a bit of a trial. At first I bought a gold sequin bodycon dress from TFNC, which I had been lusting over for weeks before hand. Although it was really pretty in itself I wasn't comfortable wearing it, they call it bodycon for a reason, and it showed off every unwanted lump and bump of my body. In addition, although it was pretty, it felt a little too ordinary as a Christmas party dress, and didn't showcase my personality particularly well, which I felt was important for meeting a group of fashion conscious strangers for the first time!
My second purchase was a black and white polka dot sequined playsuit from ASOS.com. It was perfect. As soon as I tried it on I loved it. I was comfortable, flattering, fun and so me! I also discovered it had pockets, which is such a bonus in a glam going-out outfit, as pockets are so useful but not usually high on the design specification. As the playsuit was a pretty big feature in itself, and I had dyed my hair pink again, I decided to keep my accessories pretty simple, with black (thermal) tights for warmth (M&S), a pair of black and white jazz type brogues with a small heel (New Look) and my Bah Humbug necklace (Clutterfly Jewellery).
I was very pleased at the number of comments I got on my outfit, particularly my necklace.

Striking my best model pose in the hotel room

The event itself was held in Java on Park Street, which looked pretty flashy both inside and out. It was nice for private hire but probably isn't the sort of place you'd find me on a standard night out. We were greeted with goody bags, free cocktails and photographers documenting outfits for the live blog and twitter feed. I was immensely nervous but everyone was so nice and welcoming I got totally swept away by the great atmosphere and quickly found my stride in meeting and greeting loads of the other blogger girls and guys (mostly girls) and the staff from MyStreetChic. A few of the free pink MyStreetChic cocktails helped me on my way as well ;) I even got to chat and be photographed with Gina Dyer, editor of MyStreetChic.com, who was thoroughly lovely and super stylish.

MyStreetChic Martini
Me (L) and Me with Gina Dyer (R) Photos by Chloe Lee

After a good amount of drinking and mingling there was a fashion show put on showcasing party looks from Boohoo.com. It was quite exciting to get to sit and watch the models strutting their stuff on the catwalk as I've never been to a proper fashion show before. Not everything was my taste, but there were some nice pieces that will hopefully still be available by the time I actually have some spare cash for clothes again!

A selection of the outfits from the fashion show. It might be a while before I make it as a catwalk photographer

There were so many more people at the event than I had expected and I didn't get to find and chat to a lot of the people I had hoped to. Having said that, I also met some really great people whose blogs I haven't read before, which turned out to be even better as I got to chat and hang out with some really fun people and find some great new blogs to read. You should definitely check out; Dream In Colour, A Day in the Life of..., Style Eyes Ethical Fashion Blog, Cherry Pie, and UnlimitedByJK as just a sample of the lovely people I encountered.

The crowd gathering in Java

I had such a wonderful evening, made all the better through being super proud of myself for actually going! I won't be having second thoughts about any future blogger event and will probably be seeking them out in future. If you do get the opportunity you really should attend something like this, you'll meet great people, pick up some new blogs to read and new people to read yours, and maybe even make out with a stack of freebies if you're lucky!

Speaking of freebies; the goody bags were amazing. I made out with a can of Batiste Dry Shampoo, Tea Tree Spot Stick, 2True nail polish, MyStreetChic lipbalm, tights from tightsplease.co.uk, a fancy looking cleanser and, possibly my favourite item, a Colour Cycle Light up lipgloss! I have to say, I thought the idea of a light up lipgloss was a bit of a silly novelty at first, but, although I haven't needed to light itself, the lipgloss is great and I love the mirror on the side!

If you haven't already checked out MyStreetChic.com then head over there now. It's a great website for current high street fashion and style, they also have more features about the blogger even, including a video and blog. Or, have a look at their facebook page, where there are links to lots of other blog reviews of the evening.

Finally, I just want to thank Bee, Lyzi, Gina, MyStreetChic and Boohoo for putting on such a great event.
Best Wishes,

PS. All photos are my own except where otherwise stated. Any photos borrowed from elsewhere should link back to their sources.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Matte & Gloss

Apologies for not posting at all this week. I have really wanted to but have been so busy preparing for Christmas and Christmas related events; most significantly the My Street Chic Christmas Blogger Party on Friday in Bristol (I shall post about that later though).
So this is a post is one I lined up last weekend, before my super busy week, of two items I picked up during the week. I quite liked the contrast between the two so thought I'd combine them in one post.

I've been very interested in trying out matte nail polish for a while, but always seemed to forget to look at matte top coats whenever I was in Boots/Superdrug. Last week I finally remembered and picked up the Rimmel Pro Matte Coat in Boots. At £4.95 I don't think it's particularly expensive, especially as it will give you as many matte shades as you have existing nail polishes (so, I have now doubled my nail polish stash!!).
I knew my first try would have to be on a black polish, there was just something so classy and appealing about a matte black nail. I'm really happy with the finished effect. The bottle has a nice wide brush which helps make the polish really easy to apply. The matte finish begins to develop really quickly, although this does give a false impression of being quick drying; I did mine late-ish at night and though it was dry before bed but woke up with fabric impressions in my nails (this was easily solved with another coat of the matte polish in the morning however). An added benefit of the top coat is that it makes your polish last longer, at least it did for me. The bottle says up to 10 days, I got about 5 out of mine without any chips, which is quite a long time for me!

Rimmel Pro Matte Top Coat over M&S Autograph Nail Polish in Black

I haven't had the time to try it out on other polishes yet, but will hopefully find some spare time tomorrow, if I can make a decision on what polish colour to try next! I also like the idea of trying out a black matte nail with a black gloss leopard print over the top, it sounds awesome in my head, if I can pull it off.
I think I'll be getting through quite a lot of this stuff, although maybe not until after Christmas now as I have a lot of glittery festive shades that are just crying out to be used at this time of year!

I just looked and Boots have a 3 for 2 offer on Rimmel at the moment, so it could be a good time to try this out!

As I mentioned, two contrasting items, moving from matte to gloss!
I'm sure by now a lot of you have heard about these lipglosses, from Models Own in  association with Diet Coke, that you can get free when you buy two bottles of Diet Coke from Boots until December 27th. For those of you that haven't, well, you have now!
There are four shades available, all of which are pretty appealing, but the red was always top of my list! So when I was in Boots and feeling a bit thirsty, it was a bit of a no-brainer!
I'm totally in love with it! So much so that I'm a bit worried about what I'll do when it runs out and they are no longer available in Boots! The colour is great, you can apply it as thin or thick as you like, for a more subtle or bold effect. I've been applying it a bit thicker for a bolder, red lipstick look. It lasts as well as any lipgloss and keeps your lips moisturised unlike some lipsticks. Obviously the ultimate benefit is that it was free!! The only possible downside is the smell, it isn't really bad, but it's a bit chemically and weird, but does fade pretty quickly after application.

Me out ice skating with Pete (L) and getting ready for a Christmas meal (R)
I would like to get my hands on another, although I would be torn between another red and the pink. I also don't know if I'll be able to get to a Boots again between now and New Year :( I will be very sad when I run out of this.
If you happen to be in or near a Boots I would really recommend you get yourself a couple of bottles of Diet Coke, I'm more of a Pepsi girl myself, but it's not often you get the chance to pick up a Models Own lipgloss for free!!

Hope you are all well and getting ready for the festive season!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Beauty Scribbles

A couple of weeks ago the gorgeous ladies over at Beauty Scribbles ran a giveaway to celebrate Jo's birthday, and I won!
Now, I'm pretty sure everyone says this but, I never win things! I was so excited :) Then I received my parcel of prizes, and was even more excited!!

The prizes (pictured below) included; Fearne Night Compact, Max Factor Lipstick in Pink Brandy, Fearne Leopard Print Nail Art wraps, 3 MUA Eye Liner Pencils in Bright Orange, Starry Night and Silver Sparkle, Rimmel ScandalEyes Mascara, Collection 2000 Luscious Lashes and a No7 Nail Collection containing 5 polishes in Totally Teal, Damson Dream, Vivid Violet, Hot to Trot and Sing the Blues. I think you'll agree that's a pretty impressive haul!

Left to Right; Sing the Blues, Hot to Trot, Vivid Violet, Damson Dream, Totally Teal
I'm not sure if there's one item I'm more excited about that the others! I think I will definitely get use out of all of the items, with the possible exception of the orange eye liner.
I do love nail polish, and don't actually own anything that's really similar to any of the ones in the No7 set, so that's nice. I only own one other No7 polish and have always thought of it as a really good product. I'm not an actual beauty blogger, so I'm not just going to apply all the polishes one after the other just to show you what they look like, but I did start having a play with them the other night. I went for Totally Teal, then because I was feeling experimental, I added leopard print (using my Konad set) in the Hot to Trot gold. I quite like the finished effect actually. The teal was quite a thick polish, not too thick though, and gave good coverage in two coats. The gold is much thinner and was a bit tricky in the Konad print set, as it recommends a thick polish, but it still worked and gave a nice but quite subtle effect (if gold leopard print can ever be subtle!).
All the shades except the teal are sparkly and would be perfect for the glittery party season (not that the teal isn't, I just get a bit obsessed with sparkle at this time of year).

Totally Teal with Hot to Trot Leopard Print
The lipstick is lovely too. An interesting but wearable shade with great coverage and consistency. I wore it during the day earlier this week as, personally, I see it as more of a daytime colour than the bolder lippies I would normally wear of an evening. It would also be a great summer shade as, as much as I love bright red lipstick, it can be a bit much on the beach (crikey, did I actually say beach in a post 2 weeks before Christmas!?).
I also gave the Rimmel ScandalEyes mascara a test run. Now, mascara isn't normally a product I change much, and I've been using Max Factor Masterpiece for years now, but I like Rimmel as a brand and there's something very appealing about that big chunky orange packaging! I have to say I was a little taken aback by the size of the applicator wand though, it's huge!! (Sniggers) Especially compared to the thin rubber applicator from my usual mascara. It took a fair bit of getting used to and doing my lower lashes was especially difficult, but I managed to do it without stabbing myself in the eye. Apart from my personal issues in wielding the thing, the mascara applied well, wasn't lumpy and lasted well.

Wearing Max Factor Pink Brandy Lipstick and Rimmel ScandalEyes Macara

There's so much in this awesome prize haul that I still haven't got around to trying it all out. Basically I won hours and hours of fun! I'm saving the lashes and nail wraps for wearing at a Christmas party, so I'll show you those when I get round to it. The Fearne Eyeshadow set is so beautiful, with the beetle design pressed into the actual shadows, that I'm not sure I'm ever going to want to use it! Well, I will, but I'll have to look at it a lot first.

Fearne Night Compact

I would like to thank Jo and Lauren at Beauty Scribbles once again for having a great blog, running an awesome giveaway and selecting me as their winner! If you haven't checked them out before then head over there now - BeautyScribbles - or follow them on Twitter @beautyscribbles.

Have you used any of these products before?


Tuesday, 6 December 2011

WIWT: Winter Warmer

What I wore today, when I went ice skating with Pete.
I bought this outfit last week, all from Dorothy Perkins as they had up to 30% of everything. I have been a bit in need of some new jeans and have also had an eye out for an awesome snuggly winter jumper/cardigan to keep me warm as the weather gets colder.

Top, Cardigan and Jeans - Dorothy Perkins
Boots - Asos

I am so in love with this cardigan. It's soft and warm and cosy and exactly the right size (ie, slightly oversized). I think I am probably going to end up living in this over the winter months. I had had my eye on it for a while, but wasn't sure it was worth the money, but it totally is. I'm even considering getting a second one.
The stripy top is also reasonably thick and warm, plus has gold sparkly threads running through it, making it a bit festive.
I had a bit of trouble with the jeans. I really like them, come on, they're leopard print!! However, when I tried them on they were really tight, even though they're a size 12. I was pretty upset and sulked all night afterwards. The next day I headed straight into the city centre to try on the size 14, with the expectation of having to exchange, even though I really wasn't happy about the idea of wearing size 14 jeans :( Anyway, long story short, when I tried on the size 14 they were much too big and were baggy in all the wrong places and just totally unflattering. So I've stuck with the size 12. They're still a little on the tight side, but I'm hoping they might give a little with wear, and I also need to get back on my exercise regime. Fingers crossed.
I'm especially going to love this outfit as it might be the last new outfit I get to buy for a while :(

Have you picked up any awesome items in the recent spate of reductions/offers that retailers have been running?


Monday, 5 December 2011

Wish List: Books

I love books. I buy a lot of books, I read a lot of books and I give a lot of books as presents.
Now, I'm sure there are some of you out there who don't consider books to be good gifts, but a thoughtfully selected book can be the best present. Fair enough, some of the little novelty books they have by the tills in book shops can be a bit of a waste of a (small) tree, but even then, if the joke is appropriate, it can still be a good gift.

One problem I have with giving books as gifts is that, for every book I find to give to someone else, I find at least two I want for myself! So, for anyone out there thinking of getting me a Christmas present who is stuck for ideas, here is a brief run-down of some of the books currently loitering on my Amazon wishlist.

In no particular order;

1. The Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking by Kate Payne

I only found out about this book a week or so ago when I saw it reviewed in the latest edition of Mollie Makes, and it went straight on to my wishlist. It has airs of Domestic Sluttery (which I love and still need to write about), cheap and easy ways to get on with being domestic without it taking over your life.

2. Outsider Tart: Baked in America by David Muniz and David Lesniak

What better than being a Domestic Slut and an Outsider Tart (combined with Happy Hooking, there seems to be a downward turn in the morals of domesticity).
As you should know by now, I love to bake and eat cake, so this book is pretty perfect. The recipes inside are described as 'decadent' and cover all my favourites from cupcakes to brownies and cookies.
The obvious American influence suggests a significant calorie content as well.

3. Chic on a Shoestring by Mary Jane Baxter

Another book for living a stylish but budget lifestyle, with an added vintage twist. Bringing together my other loves of clothes, accessories, crafting and vintage styling.

4. How to Make Jewellery with Tatty Devine by Rosie Wolfenden and Harriet Vine

Oh look, more crafting and accessories! What can I say, I know what I like!
I've always been a fan of Tatty Devine jewellery, although so far haven't ever had enough excess cash to buy myself any. So, this book seems like a good solution, make my own TD inspired pieces and keep myself occupied in the mean time.

5. Preserves: A Beginner's Guide to making jams and jellies, chutneys and pickles, sauces and ketchups, syrups and alcoholic sips by Jill Nice

I really enjoyed my first attempt at making jam earlier this year. While I still have quite a lot of what I made left, I'm keen to find out more about jams and preserving so I can try something different next time.
This book seems pretty comprehensive and I like the cover (not that I'm judging...).

6. CakeSpy presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar Filled Life by Jessie Oleson

I may have a bit of a cake obsession, but as long as part of that obsession is filled with cake related books, I should be safe from obesity and diabetes for a while.
I've been a reader of the CakeSpy blog for quite a while now, and when I heard she was publishing a book I knew I would have to have it.
Yet more high calorie american baking goodness, all wrapped up in a pink cartoon-y shell. Perfect :)

7. Bossypants by Tina Fey

Something a bit different.
I like Tina Fey, I have heard good things about this book. Not much more to say!

At present, there are 151 books on my Amazon Wishlist, so I think I'll leave you with just this selection for now. The rest are a pretty eclectic mix of brief introductions to...., popular science, lifestyle, autobiography, fiction, craft and a lot of things in between.

I'll leave you with this video of a kid who doesn't want books for Christmas, just because I think it's funny.

Best Wishes,

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Vegan Chocolate Truffles

Now it is December, I can just about allow myself to think about Christmas.
For a number of reasons, I am trying to do a Nothing New/Handmade type gifts this year. Basically, no big brand goods. I haven't had as much time for trawling charity shops or crocheting as I had hoped, so it's looking like a lot of my gifts are going to be food based!

Yesterday I made Vegan Chocolate Truffles that are (hopefully) going to be Christmas presents (if I don't eat them all first). They were so easy to make, so I guess if I do eat them all I can always just make more (although I may not fit into my party dress).


The recipe is actually really adaptable, so I'll give you the ingredients I used but also some suggestions for variations that you might want to try.

I used;

  • Approximately 100g of cashew nuts (mine weren't roasted, you could use roasted but only if they're not salted too)
  • A small amount of soy milk (you could easily substitute with regular cow's milk, any other type of milk substitute or even just water)
  • 400g dark chocolate (I used dark and made sure it had no milk/animal ingredients to make mine vegan, but you can use milk chocolate if you prefer and don't need to make them vegan friendly)
  • A good glug of Kahlua (there are so many alternatives you can use here, any spirit/liqueur you like - Baileys, Whiskey, Rum maybe even Creme de Menthe for an interesting minty twist? Or you can skip the alcohol all together and use a teaspoon of vanilla essence or other food flavour essence)
  • Some cocoa powder and/or icing sugar
  • You will need some kind of food processor, doesn't need to be fancy, I used my small Kenwood Mini Chopper and it was fine.
The number you make will depend on the size of your final truffle, but using teaspoons full of the mixture I made about 28 truffles from these ingredients.

How to;

1. Soak the cashew nuts in water until soft. Some recipes will recommend you do this overnight, but I only soaked mine for 2 or 3 hours and they were fine. Once soft, drain off the water.
2. Put the cashews into you food processor and blend until you have a reasonably smooth paste. Add the soy milk/alternative as required to help the paste form without making it too wet. I found I had to mix a bit then scrape around with a spatula to make sure all the bits got mixed. My final paste looked and felt quite gritty, so it doesn't need to be totally smooth. I didn't use mine straight away so put it in a jar in the fridge until I was ready to make the truffles.
3. Melt your chocolate. Usually I'm a microwave chocolate melter, but as I was using so much chocolate and wanted this recipe to go well, I used the old pyrex bowl over a pan of hot water method. Once it's all melted take it off the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes before the next step.

It's really hard to resist dipping your finger in 400g of melted chocolate :)

4. Now combine your cashew nut paste and chocolate and add your spirit/liqueur/flavour of choice. Make sure you stir it thoroughly so that the chocolate goes all the way through the nut paste. Once combined, cover the mixture and put it into the fridge for maybe half an hour. The chilling is necessary or you will really struggle to make the truffle balls.

My combined chocolate and nut paste
5. Now it's time to make truffles! Take small amounts of the mixture (depends on the size of truffle you want, I used teaspoon sized scoops) and roll it in your hands to create a rough spherical truffle shape, the roll in your cocoa powder and/or icing sugar. Most truffles come rolled in cocoa powder but I always think this is too bitter so I mixed my cocoa with some icing sugar to take the edge off. The rolling can help you get the shape as well, as it will stop them sticking to your hands. I placed my finished truffles in mini cake cases, but they can just be placed on a tray covered with greaseproof paper or cling film.
This stage can get very messy, I had to wash the excess chocolate and cocoa powder off my hands after about 3 or 4 truffles.

6. The truffles need to be left to set, you can do this in the fridge but I just left mine on the side as my fridge is far too tiny to accommodate a whole tray of truffles as well as it's regular inhabitants.

And, that's it!

So far, I've managed to only eat one, and that was a necessary tester! The final product is probably a little firmer than I was expecting, maybe a bit more fluid in the nut paste, or a bit more nut paste in the overall mixture might fix that. Or I might just pour a load more Kahlua on a couple and see what that does.

Now, mine probably aren't going to win any beauty prizes, but if they looked too good people might not believe I made them!

I keep thinking of more variations that I could try; coating the finished truffle in chopped nuts, or having a whole nut in the centre, or a whole nut inside and chopped nuts outside for your own sort of Ferrero Rocher, or topping with sprinkles, putting a whole raspberry in the middle, making them with white chocolate, making them with some of the fancy flavour chocolates from Hotel Chocolat (like their caramel flavour chocolate!).....I think this list could go on. Any other suggestions are welcome too.

I do have one specific variation in mind that I will let you know about once I've tried it to see if it works.

As a final note, I would like to welcome my newest blog followers! Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy this post and my others to come.

I hope December is going well for you so far, and that the build up to Christmas isn't causing you too much stress or annoyance!