Chocolate torte with merlyn

Merlyn chocolate torte recipe

Most families have a particular dessert that they enjoy at Christmas.

It might be a traditional Christmas pudding, a trifle or a slice of Christmas log.  When I was younger we would have Tunis cake with cream which I hardly ever see in the shops these days.  And for my husband’s family it’s been a chocolate torte that’s been the perfect ending to a Christmas dinner for years.

It’s become a running joke that whoever in the family (and extended family) who isn’t in Swansea for Christmas that year gets sent a photo of the torte to show them what they’re missing out on.  It’s that good.

And it’s not just for Christmas either, it’s the perfect thing to make to end any special dinner party or meal you’re planning at any time of the year.  It’s simple and chocolatey and rich and once you try it I promise it will become your go-to dessert to make any time you want something indulgent to share with family and friends.


Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 450g dark chocolate (ideally 70% cocoa solids)
  • 5 tablespoons liquid glucose
  • 5 tablespoons Merlyn Welsh cream (or any other Irish cream liqueur)
  • 570ml double cream (at room temperature)
  • 75g Amaretti biscuits

To serve:

  • Cocoa powder for dusting the top of the torte
  • Single cream



Here’s how to make it:

1. The first thing to do is get a 23cm cake tin and line the bottom of it with greaseproof paper or baking parchment.  Then lightly brush the sides of the tin with oil.  At this point you can also get the cream out of the fridge so it’s not too cold when you come to use it.


2. Next you need to crush up the amaretti biscuits.

We tend to put them in a plastic bag and then bash them with a rolling pin until they’re really finely crushed.  You don’t want any big lumps of biscuit left.

Once they’re all crushed sprinkle the crumbs on the base of the cake tin.


3. Then you need to break the chocolate up into pieces and put them in a heat proof bowl with the Merlyn and the liquid glucose.

Put a little bit of water into a saucepan and put it on the heat until it’s just about simmering.  Then sit the heat proof bowl over it, making sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water.

Stir the chocolate mixture over the heat until it’s all melted together and looks smooth and glossy.  Once it’s all melted take the mixture off the heat and leave it to cool for about 5 minutes.


4. While the chocolate mixture is cooling you can get the cream ready.  Pour the cream into a bowl and whisk it until it’s thickened up but not yet forming peaks.


5. Next, fold half of the cream into the chocolate mixture.  Then fold that mixture into the rest of the cream.

At this stage it might look a bit ‘wrong’, but stick with it!  Keep gently mixing until it’s all smoothly blended together.


6. Spoon the mixture into the tin that you prepared earlier.

You can even the mixture out a bit by tapping the tin.  Then cover the tin with clingfilm and pop it in the fridge to chill overnight.


7. When you’re ready to serve the torte just run a knife around the edge of the tin to loosen it a bit, and then turn it out on to a serving plate.  Which means doing that fancy-looking thing that they do on bake off where they put a plate upside down on top of the tin and then flip the whole thing over.


8. Dust the top of the torte with some cocoa powder and then serve slices of it with cold single cream.


I hope you enjoy this torte as much as we do!

Just be aware that it is really quite rich, so you don’t need huge portions.  But you do need the cream, it cuts through the richness and makes the whole thing absolutely perfect.

We generally make it with Merlyn Welsh cream, but you can use any Irish cream liqueur like Baileys if that’s what you have in.  You can also replace the Merlyn with rum or even bourbon.  We’ve tried it with both of these and it always tastes amazing.

Pork bolognese with spaghetti

Our family favourite pork bolognese recipe #AD

This post is part of the Family Favourite campaign, sponsored by Love Pork.

When it comes to cooking for the family it can be really hard to find meals that everyone will enjoy.

My children have both been quite fussy eaters at different times, and it can still be hard to get them to eat new foods.  One meal that we’ve started making recently though looks like it might be a winner.

Steve makes a delicious spaghetti bolognese that we both love, and so does Rhys.  And Nerys even said she liked it when she tried it so I’m hopeful that one day soon we can all eat it together.

The recipe we use is one that Steve has been playing around with and adapting for a few months now, and is based on a traditional ragu.

We made it with pork mince last week and it was absolutely delicious.


If you’d like to give it a try, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 500g pork mince


  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped or grated
  • 5 mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 courgette, chopped or grated
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic


  • 2/3 tube tomato puree
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Mixed herbs
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp yeast extract
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard


  • 1 litre stock
  • Small glass of white wine, ideally dry
  • 1 bag of baby spinach
  • 250ml whole milk

Here’s what you need to do:

1. Heat a small amount of oil in a pan and then add the pork mince.  Cook the mince until it is just starting to brown, breaking it up a little with a wooden spoon as it cooks.

2. Once cooked through tip the mince into a sieve over another pan or bowl, to drain off any fat.  If you use lean mince then there won’t be much fat at all to drain off.  Then you can just put it to one side while you cook the vegetables.

3. Add a small knob of butter to the pan you cooked the mince in.

4. Over a medium heat cook the onions, celery, carrots, mushrooms, courgette and garlic.

5. Keep stirring the veg until it’s all cooked through and softened.

6. Add the tomato puree and stir through the veg.

7. Add the mince back into the pan and stir into the vegetables.

8. Season with salt and pepper.

9. Add the wine, and then the stock to the pot and stir well.

10. Add mixed herbs (about a tablespoon), honey, yeast extract and mustard.

11. Keep on a low heat and stir as the sauce reduces.

12. Once the sauce has reduced add the milk and spinach, then cook for another 20 minutes.

13. Towards the end of the cooking time put your spaghetti on to cook.

14. Serve the spaghetti with the bolognese and top with grated Parmesan, black pepper and mixed herbs.


The beauty of this recipe is that you can really do whatever you like with it.

You can chop all of the vegetables up really small to create a more hidden-veg type sauce.  We chop the veg pretty small when we make it, and grate the carrots, and you’d be lucky to be to pick out any pieces of vegetable once it’s cooked.

If you’d rather though you can chop everything more roughly and have a chunky vegetable bolognese.

As far as the vegetables go you can play around with the amounts that you put in and the types of vegetables that you include to suit your family’s tastes.  You could use different types of mushrooms, add in some mixed peppers or even try some chopped aubergine in there.


If you have a bit more time to give to this meal you can also do what we do some weeks and cook it nice and slowly.

We use a dutch oven to cook our bolognese on the hob following the instructions up to stage 11.  Then we add the spinach and then transfer the pot to the oven to reduce and thicken up.  It sits in the oven at about 100 degrees for 3 hours, before we take it out, give it a good stir and add the milk.  Then we pop it back in the oven for another hour to reduce down again.


What I really love about this recipe is that it’s so tasty you forget how much veg is crammed in there, and you have the benefits from the meat too.

Not only can pork be lean, but it’s naturally rich in protein, low in salt and provides ten essential vitamins and minerals that supports good health and wellbeing. These are: thiamin (vitamin B1), niacin (vitamin B3), vitamins B6 and B12, riboflavin, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, selenium and pantothenic acid.

With the pork mince as a base you can change up the flavour of this recipe by using different herbs and spices.  And the ragu is a great, easy thing to make that can be used in so many different ways.

It can be served with any kind of pasta, made into a lasagne or put into a cottage pie.  It’s also a great recipe to make in bulk, just increase the amounts of all the ingredients.  Then you can freeze portions ready for a quick, delicious meal another day.

For more great recipes, head to


Disclaimer: I’m working in a paid relationship with Love Pork and BritMums highlighting family favourites, but all recipes and opinions are my own.

Easy Christmas chocolate bark

2 simple recipes for Christmas chocolate bark

If you’re looking for a quick and easy but utterly yummy treat to make this Christmas then you can stop your search right now.

Chocolate bark is one of my favourite things to make to either give as a present or keep to enjoy at home.

I’ve got 2 different bark recipes to share that are both perfect for Christmas.  There’s a simple festive chocolate bark and a ginger and fudge chocolate bark.


The first recipe is for a really easy festive chocolate bark.

This is a simple bark with milk and white chocolate and Christmas-coloured toppings.

You need:

  • 200g milk chocolate
  • 100g white chocolate
  • Christmas sprinkles
  • Red and green smarties or m&ms
  • A baking tray
  • Greaseproof/baking paper


Here’s what you need to do:

1. Line the baking tray with greaseproof paper

2. Melt the milk chocolate.  You can do this in a bain-marie on the hob, but I normally just do it in the microwave.  Pop it in for 20/30 seconds at a time and stir it each time you check on it.

3. Pour the melted chocolate onto the greaseproof paper and then gently spread it out with a spatula or a knife.  I like to keep it relatively thick so don’t spread it out too far, but you can spread it out more and have thinner bark if you prefer.

4. Next melt the white chocolate, the same way you did the milk chocolate.

5. Pour the white chocolate on top of the milk chocolate and swirl the two together to get a marbled effect.

6. While the chocolate is still all melty tip on a load of festive sprinkles and then add the red and green smarties.  Press the smarties in gently so they’ll stay in place as the bark sets.

7. Put the tray in the fridge to set for about an hour.

8. When it’s completely set cut it up into pieces ready to give as gifts or enjoy yourself.  I tend to cut mine up quite haphazardly with a knife, but you can just snap pieces off in your hands if you’d rather.

And if you think that looks good, then wait until you see the other bark recipe.


This one is a milk and dark chocolate bark with ginger biscuit pieces and chunks of fudge.

You’ll need:

  • 200g milk chocolate
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 2 ginger nut biscuits (or a gingerbread man, or any kind of ginger biscuit)
  • Mini fudge chunks
  • A baking tray
  • Greaseproof/baking paper


The method is pretty much the same as the simple Christmas bark, but in case you’re just reading this recipe here are all the steps you need to follow:

1. Line the baking tray with greaseproof paper

2. Melt the milk chocolate.  You can do this in a bain-marie on the hob, but I normally just do it in the microwave.  Pop it in for 20/30 seconds at a time and stir it each time you check on it.

3. Pour the melted chocolate onto the greaseproof paper and then gently spread it out with a spatula or a knife.  I like to keep it relatively thick so don’t spread it out too far, but you can spread it out more and have thinner bark if you prefer.

4. Put the tray in the fridge or freezer for ten minutes for this layer of milk chocolate to set.

5. While you’re waiting, break the ginger biscuits into little pieces/crumbs.

6. Next melt the dark chocolate, the same way you did the milk chocolate.

7. Pour the dark chocolate on top of the set milk chocolate and quickly spread it out, almost to the edges.

8. While the chocolate is still melty sprinkle on the ginger biscuit pieces and crumbs and the fudge chunks.  Press them gently into the chocolate to make sure they stay in place.

9. Put the tray in the fridge to set for about an hour.

10. When it’s completely set cut it up into pieces ready to give as gifts or enjoy yourself.  I tend to cut mine up quite haphazardly with a knife, but you can just snap pieces off in your hands if you’d rather.


The thing I absolutely love about chocolate bark is that pretty much anything goes.

With the simple Christmas bark you can use 200g of white chocolate, and then top it with dark or milk chocolate.  If you wanted a different flavour you could add some peppermint extract to the chocolate and top it with crushed candy canes.

And for the ginger and fudge bark you can use any kind of ginger biscuits, or even chopped up pieces of crystallised stem ginger.  If you can’t find little chunks of fudge in the shops then you can just buy bigger pieces and chop them up, and you can try it with different flavours of fudge too.


I’m planning on making another batch of these to give to the teachers and TAs at our school as a little Christmas present.

Chocolate bark is so easy to make, so the children can make it with me which makes it that bit more special I think.  I know if I was a teacher I’d love to know that the children had taken the time to make something especially for me as a little end of term present.

We’ve made chocolate truffles for the teachers before and my chocolate ginger bites always go down well with people lucky enough to be allowed to share them with me each year!  Chocolate bark is so easy though, and so adaptable it makes a great gift for anyone who might be on your list.


Have you made bark before?  Which of these will you try out this Christmas?


This post has been shared with a moment with Franca and KCACOLS

Spice of Life to spice things up

Spice things up with Life of Spice

Disclosure: I was sent these spices for the purpose of writing this post, however all words, photos and opinions are my own.

The older I get, the more I realise I’m a creature of habit.

I find myself falling into routines and patterns with things like the meals we eat, and end up having the same things week after week.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing, I really love the meals that we eat, especially with my husband cooking for us more.

It is good to spice things up now and then though.  To try some new recipes and some new flavours.

So when I was offered some spice and rub collections from Life of Spice to try out I couldn’t wait to open them up and get cooking with them.


I was sent both the Italian Collection and the American Rub Collection gift sets to try out.

The Italian Collection comes in a lovely gift box which is a big plus if you want to give a set to someone as a present.

Inside the box are three metal tins of spice blends.

The Italian Job is a mixture of salt and Italian herbs (basil, thyme, oregano).  Italian Herbs is a classic mix of oregano, thyme and rosemary, and Pepper Smurf is a peppered rub with rosemary, basil, marjoram and citrus.


I love that this collection has 3 different types of seasoning blend, so you can use them for so many different types of cooking.

The Italian Herbs and The Italian Job are great to use in pasta sauces and would also work really well with things like roast potatoes or wedges.  The Pepper Smurf rub is perfect for rubbing into meats before grilling or barbecuing.


The second collection I was sent was the American Rub Collection, which has 5 different tins in the box.

Memphis Belle is an authentic Tennessee BBQ rub, while Kansas City Rib Rub brings the flavours of the Midwest.  Much Adobo About Nothing is an adobo spice blend which is perfect for fajitas and chilli.  Savannah Gold is a vibrant spice blend with mustard and garlic, and Sweet Home Alabama is a rich and smoky Southern spice rub.


When you open up the tins the smell you get is amazing, and what’s great is that each mix is distinctive enough from the rest of the collection.


A few of the rubs are labelled as being ‘barbecue’ rubs, and they would be absolutely amazing to use on all sorts of meats to go on the barbecue in the summer.

The real beauty of these rubs though is you don’t have to use them for barbecues.  Or even meat for that matter.

You can use them to give amazing flavour to roasted vegetables and they’d be great for adding flavour to tofu.  And the Much Adobo About Nothing would be perfect to use in a veggie chilli or to give a bit of a kick to a shepherd’s pie made with vegetarian mince.


I knew exactly what I wanted to make though, as soon as these spices arrived.

I used the Kansas City Rib Rub to spice up some slices of halloumi.


This rub is a gorgeous burnt orange shade and has a lovely smokey barbecue smell to it.

It was ridiculously easy to use too.

I just sliced up some halloumi and rubbed the spice mix into both sides of the slices.

Then I heated some oil in a pan and cooked the halloumi slices for a few minutes on each side.  You could hear the spices sizzling in the oil as they cooked and the whole kitchen smelt amazing!

If you wanted you could layer some of the cooked halloumi slices in a bun with some mayo and lettuce and have it as a burger, which actually I think I’ll have to try next time.

What I did this time though was serve it with cous cous, which is something Steve and I used to have all the time when we were first living together.


I cooked the cous cous then added some of the Italian Herbs from the Italian collection for a bit of added flavour, then stirred in some chopped peppers.

Keeping the cous cous quite simple meant that the star of the show, the spiced halloumi, could really have it’s moment.

And oh my word it was good!

The saltiness of the cheese together with the smokey flavour and bit of heat from the rub worked so well together.  I would say I can see this become a new regular fixture on our weekly menu, but actually I think we could still keep things interesting by using a different spice rub each time!


Special reader offer:

If you want to try the Spice of Life spices for yourself, or get some for the foodie in your life as a present, then I have a great offer to share with you.

Buy any of the collections from the Spice of Life website and use code LOS–NDBLG at the checkout to get an extra tin of spices absolutely free!


So what are you waiting for?  Go break out of your food rut and spice things up!


Simple brownie recipe


Ahh, brownies.

Honestly, can you beat a good brownie when you need a chocolate fix?!

I’m not sure you can!

Now normally I would tell a nice story about making these with the children and about how much fun we had, but I have a feeling if you’re reading this you actually really just want the recipe.  So, here you go:



What you need:

  • 150g (5oz) unsalted butter
  • 300g (11oz) caster sugar
  • 200g (7oz) dark chocolate
  • 3 large eggs
  • 100g (3.5oz) self-raising flour
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • Handful of chocolate chips



What you do:

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees (gas mark 4) and grease and line a cake tin (one that’s about 20in square).
  • In a large pan melt together the butter, sugar and chocolate.
  • Once all that’s melted and mixed together, stir in the eggs and then the flour and cocoa powder.
  • Pour the mix into the cake tin and then sprinkle over the chocolate chips.
  • Bake for just over 20 mins and then check to see how it’s looking.  You want it so it’s just set to get the right fudgy texture, so you need to check every now and then to get it right.  In my oven it takes about 28 minutes to get it just right.
  • Once it’s looking good, take it out of the oven and leave it to cool before cutting into pieces.
  • Sprinkle with some icing sugar if you want to make them look even prettier.
  • Eat.  And eat and eat and eat.


These brownies are nice and simple, and so, so good just as they are.

But I’m already thinking of things I can add to have a bit of variety now and then.


Here are some of my plans:

  • A layer of After Eight mints in the middle of the batter.  And then some sort of minty glaze on the top.  Oh  yes.
  • More chocolate chunks stirred through the batter.  Some white and dark chocolate would be good.
  • Some fudge chunks mixed in with the batter.
  • Little bits of reese’s pieces stirred in, and then a layer of peanut buttery goodness on the top. You can easily use a great food processor to make any nut butter you like, you don’t have to stick with peanut butter.
  • Get fruity and try these cherry brownies from Mummy Vs Work.

Do you like your brownies classic and simple or are you a more-the-merrier kind of person when it comes to yummy additions?!

Leave me a comment and let me know!



Perfect simple flapjack recipe

Simple and classic flapjack recipe

Flapjacks are one of my favourite sweet treats.

Nerys loves them too and will often ask for one when she sees them in the shops when we’re out and about.  I hadn’t made them at home for awhile though, so last week I stocked up on oats and golden syrup and made a batch.

These flapjacks are simple and classic and delicious, so keep reading for the recipe if you want to give them a go yourself.



  • 125g butter
  • 125g brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 250g oats


Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 and line a 7 x 9 inch cake tin with greaseproof paper
  2. Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup into a pan and melt it all together over a low heat
  3. Once all the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved, take the pan off the heat and stir in the oats
  4. Mix everything together really well so all the oats are coated in the buttery, syrupy mixture
  5. Tip the mixture into the lined tin and press it down really well with the back of a wooden spoon or a spatula
  6. Bake at 180 for 18 minutes
  7. Leave to cool for a few hours, or even better, over night
  8. Cut into squares and enjoy


Flapjacks are one of those things that seem like they should be foolproof but so often they don’t come out quite right.

I know I’ve made them a few times in the past and they’ve ended up not coming together properly and crumbling everywhere.  Other times I’ve let them bake for a bit too long and they’ve been hard and crunchy when I really want them softer and chewy.


The best advice I’ve found for getting flapjacks right is:

  • really make sure you press the mixture down well into the tin
  • bake them until they’re just golden and still feel a bit soft when you take them out of the oven
  • leave them to cool and set in the tin for as long as possible, ideally overnight, before cutting up and enjoying

These flapjacks are classic and so tasty just as they are.

But if you want to you can jazz them up with different seeds, raisins and/or chocolate chips.  You could also add a layer of melted chocolate to the top once they’ve cooled in the tin, then leave that to set as well before cutting into squares.

Merlyn irish cream chocolate truffles

Quick and easy Irish cream chocolate truffles

For the last few years I’ve been making little treats for the children to give to their teachers at Christmas.

We’ve made biscuits and chocolate bark a few times before, so this year I wanted to try something different.  These Irish cream chocolate truffles were the perfect choice for a quick and easy gift to make.

I always thought truffles were quite tricky to make for some reason, but honestly these are so simple to do and so tasty too!

Quick and easy Irish cream chocolate truffles


This recipe makes about 40 truffles, and takes around 30 minutes of work to create (with about an hour more needed for chilling the mixture).

What you need:

  • 200 g milk chocolate
  • 150 ml double cream
  • 50 ml Irish cream (I used Merlyn, but any Irish cream will do)
  • Cocoa powder for dusting

Merlyn chocolate truffles ingredients

How to make the truffles:

  • Break the chocolate up into chunks and put into a microwave safe bowl.


  • Melt the chocolate in the microwave, in 30 second  blasts until fully melted.  If you’d rather you can melt the chocolate gently in a saucepan, or in a bowl placed over a pan of water on the hob.


  • Once the chocolate is melted give it a good stir, then mix in the cream and Irish cream.


  • Stir the mixture quickly and thoroughly to combine the ingredients together.

Merlyn irish cream chocolate truffles melted ingredients


  • Put the bowl in the fridge for the mixture to chill.  If you want it to chill and set a bit quicker you can transfer it to a bigger tupperware dish.


  • Leave in the fridge for about an hour to set.


  • Once the ganache is set you can make it into truffles.


  • Use a teaspoon or a melon baller to scoop out bitesize pieces of ganache.  Roll them into balls using the palms of your hands, then roll the balls in the cocoa powder to coat them.


  • Set them on a plate as you make them, then put the plate back in the fridge once you’ve made them all to stop them getting too soft.


  • The truffles are best kept in the fridge, so leave them there as long as possible before serving.  If you’re giving the truffles as presents then make sure you let people know it’s best to put them in the fridge as soon as they can.

Simple Merlyn irish cream chocolate truffles


These truffles are lovely and chocolatey, with a nice amount of Irish cream flavour.  If you want a bigger Bailey’s hit though, you can change the proportions to 100ml double cream and 100ml Irish cream.

You can also make the truffles richer and more indulgent by using good quality dark chocolate instead of milk.  And if you don’t fancy they rolled in cocoa powder then you can use chocolate sprinkles instead.  I also think they’d be lovely rolled in finely crushed amaretti biscuits.