Mandarin, Chocolate and Ginger Wreath

I was recently sent some delicious Mandarin Edition chocolate from Amelia Rope. I am a big advocate of her single origin chocolate bars and am really pleased with this festive recipe I’ve developed using her product. The dark zesty chocolate goes really well with the crisp meringue, ginger cream and torched mandarin slices- it’s the perfect winter pavlova, ideal for Christmas day!



  • 6 large egg whites
  • 500g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 400ml double cream
  • 1tbsp icing sugar
  • 4tbsp ginger syrup
  • 4 pieces stem ginger, chopped
  • 3 mandarins, sliced
  • 2tbsp granulated sugar
  • 150g Amelia Rope Mandarin Edition chocolate (2 bars)



  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Spread the caster sugar across 2 baking trays and place in the oven to heat up (don’t let it melt or crystallise).
  2. While the sugar is heating up, put your egg whites into a large clean bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer). Whisk on low to build up air bubbles then increase the speed and whisk until you have medium peaks. Take your hot sugar and gradually add to the egg whites whilst whisking constantly. Once all the sugar has been added you will have a thick glossy meringue. Now add the cocoa powder and lightly swirl through the mixture to create a ripple effect.
  3. Reduce the oven temperature to 110c.
  4. Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper. Roughly pile the meringue on in a wreath shape. Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the meringue peels off the paper easily. The middle should be mallowy and the outside crisp. Once the meringue is cooked, switch the oven off and allow it to cool with the door ajar (this prevents cracks).
  5. While the meringue is cooling, make the toppings. For the ginger cream, just place the ginger syrup, icing sugar and double cream in a bowl and whisk until soft peaks form.
  6. For the torched mandarins, slice into pieces and line onto a baking tray. Sprinkle with the granulated sugar and place under a hot grill until caramelised (or use a blow torch).
  7. Melt the chocolate and cool a little.
  8. To assemble the meringue, layer on the ginger cream, followed by a sprinkling of chopped ginger, the mandarin slices and finally a generous drizzling of mandarin chocolate. Slice up and serve with any leftover ginger cream.




Chocolate Orange Halloween Cupcakes

These light zesty cupcakes topped with a swirl of jet black chocolate buttercream are great for ghoulish kids parties. They taste delicious, are ridiculously simple to make and look pretty dark and mysterious too- ideal for Halloween.



For the sponge:

  • 200g soft butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1tsp orange extract
  • zest 1 orange
  • 4 eggs
  • 200g self raising flour

For the chocolate buttercream:

  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 300g soft butter
  • 600g icing sugar
  • 2tbsp milk
  • 1tsp black gel food colouring



  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a muffin tray with cupcake cases.
  2. Place your butter and caster sugar in a bowl. Whisk together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and adding a little flour to prevent a curdled mixture.
  3. After the eggs have been incorporated, add the orange extract and zest. Mix together thoroughly then sift in the flour. Fold with a large metal spoon until well incorporated.
  4. Distribute the mix between the cupcake cases and bake for 20-25 minutes until well risen and springy.
  5. Leave to cool on a wire rack and make the frosting.
  6. To make the black buttercream, whisk the butter and icing sugar until pale and fluffy, then add the melted dark chocolate and milk. Whisk again until non-streaky then add enough black food colouring to achieve a solid colour. I find gel colouring the most effective.
  7. Pipe or spread the buttercream over your cupcakes and enjoy!

Autumnal Beetroot Cake


The air is feeling a little fresher today, so I thought I’d try out an Autumnal bake. This cake is a twist on ’s ‘Classic Chocolate Cake’, but instead of buttermilk, I have used beetroot, a seasonal root vegetable, to add moisture to the sponge. In addition to this, I have substituted the chocolate ganache for a zesty orange cream cheese frosting…

So, for the sponge, you will need:
250 g grated cooked beetroot, 3 large eggs, 1tsp vanilla extract, 180g butter, 225g golden caster sugar, 225g light brown sugar, 325g plain flour, 75g cocoa, 2tsp baking powder, 1tsp bicarbonate of soda, pinch salt and 3-5tbsp milk.

Firstly, preheat the oven to 180c (fan) and line two 18cm cake tins, then grate your beetroot into a jug and whisk in the eggs and vanilla (I used a Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract as I find it delivers the best flavour).

Now, in a bowl, cream together your butter and sugars until pale and fluffy. For best results, use good quality sugars such as Billingtons . Add the eggs and beetroot to the creamed mixture in 3 additions. Once these ingredients are well combined, sift in your flour, cocoa, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Gently stir then add the milk until you reach a consistency where the mix will plop off a spoon easily. It should not be too thick or too runny.

Divide the mix between two cake tins and bake for 25-30 minutes. Once baked, leave to cool completely on a rack.

For the frosting, you will need:
600g icing sugar, 200g cream cheese, zest 1 orange 1-2 tbsp milk.

Simply combine all these ingredients and mix like mad until you achieve a thick, creamy frosting; spread this over the lower sponge then sandwich on the upper cake and top with more. I’d be sparing with the icing, it’s quite rich.

To try the chocolate shard decoration, you’ll need 100g dark chocolate and 50g white.
Melt the chocolates separately in a bowls set over pans of simmering water. Pour the dark onto a sheet of baking paper and spread to an even thickness (about 4mm). Flick the white chocolate over this and sprinkle on orange zest, if you like.

Leave this to set in the fridge then break into pieces when hard. Arrange on the cake in a jagged way to achieve a haphazard design.

I hope you enjoy this cake, and remember- seasonal veg is not just for salads and savoury sides!


A Christmas Hit of Vitamin C

Everyone loves a chocolate orange in their stocking at Christmas, so I’ve concocted these rich chocolate orange cupcakes as a baked alternative. Orange spiked chocolate sponge topped with a smooth cream cheese frosting- what’s not to like!?


To make these Christmas treats you’ll need: 80g butter, 200g caster sugar, 100g soft brown sugar, 2 eggs, a couple of drops of vanilla extract, 240 ml milk, the zest of one orange, 250g plain flour, 50g cocoa powder, pinch salt and 1tbsp baking powder (Makes 12)

First of all, line a muffin tray with cupcake cases and preheat the oven to 190c (fan).

Cream your butter and sugars together until fluffy, then sift in your plain flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

In a jug, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, milk and orange zest then add to the bowl in three additions, carefully mixing between each.

Separate the mix between your cases and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

For the topping you will need: 600g icing sugar, 50g butter, 250g cream cheese, 60g cocoa powder and 2tbsp orange zest.

Mix together your icing sugar, cocoa powder and butter until a crumb-like mix has formed, then add your cream cheese in three additions, mixing vigorously between each. Stir in the zest and use a piping bag to neatly top your cooled sponges (or just spread over with a palette knife, if you like).

Decorate as you wish, I’ve used a little reserved orange zest, some chocolate swirls I set in the fridge, and a Christmassy flourish of glitter!