Hurray!  My mini Jubilee cupcakes made it onto the Good Food Channel’s baking gallery!

http://uktv.co.uk/food/gallery/aid/652619#56759_spoonful-of-sugar

Hurray! My mini Jubilee cupcakes made it onto the Good Food Channel’s baking gallery!

http://uktv.co.uk/food/gallery/aid/652619#56759_spoonful-of-sugar

CHARBONNEL ET WALKER’S JUBILEE CELEBRATION


Unless you’ve been living under a rock of late, you will probably have noticed that over the last week or so, Britain has been having a right good knees-up to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. A couple of weeks ago, I posted photos of my own Jubilee party (http://bit.ly/LkIrBq) and luckily for me, someone at the renowned chocolatier Charbonnel et Walker, saw it, liked it and consequently sent me an invitation to their very own Jubilee celebration!

So last Thursday, my friend Cassie and I arrived at their Old Bond Street store in London’s Mayfair and were warmly greeted with a smile and a glass of champagne.


The shop had been thoroughly decked out in bunting and Jubilee-inspired gift boxes…


And even a chocolate crown!


There was an infectious atmosphere of excitement and anticipation as everyone mingled together. With the champagne flowing and spirits high, the Old Bond Street Manager, Adam Lee, addressed the room and welcomed us all, giving us a bit of background information about the Charbonnel et Walker brand.


I already knew of the brand and have enjoyed their chocolates in the past, but I had no idea how rich the history was.


To give you a little of the history…Charbonnel et Walker was founded in 1875 and is one of Britain’s earliest chocolatiers. It is also endorsed by the Royal warrant as the official chocolate manufacturers to the Queen.

The company first formed as a partnership between Mrs Walker and Mme. Charbonnel, the latter from the Maison Boissier chocolate house in Paris. Their original shop opened at 173 New Bond Street in Mayfair and has remained in Bond Street ever since.

Charbonnel et Walker’s exquisite chocolates are hand-made according to traditional recipes in their factory in Tunbridge Wells. Their hand-made boxes and satin ribbons are immediately recognisable and make an ideal gift.


Adam explained that their best-selling chocolate is the Pink Marc de Champagne Truffles. I have had these many times before and they’re incredible.


These consist of a milk chocolate, butter and Marc de Champagne centre with a white chocolate shell and a light dusting of icing sugar. Melt-in-the-mouth deliciousness.


We were also treated to the dark chocolate version although I preferred the milk version.

We also tried their classic milk truffles…


And their dark chocolates dusted in cocoa. I personally adore dark chocolate so the dark ones were my favourite. Intense, rich, smooth…perfect.

Then we moved onto their world-renowned speciality…English Rose & Violet Creams (apparently a favourite of the Queen and the Queen Mother!)

Decorated with a crystallised rose or violet leaf, the fondant creams are infused with rose or violet oil and coated in dark chocolate. As well as the fondant creams, we were also given rose and violet truffles…


I was surprised how much I liked the Rose creams. I’m not normally a fan of fragrant chocolates but these were so delicately fragrant, and so smooth, they were wonderful. I wasn’t as big a fan of the Violet ones but that is purely a personal thing. Everyone else seemed to love them. I’ve just never been a fan of Violet.

Next we were offered to taste some chocolates that are in development. Starting with the sublime Creamed Coconut encased in dark chocolate. I loved this one.


Next up was Passion fruit Cream. This was light and tangy and lovely, but not as good as the coconut. Again, this is purely a matter of personal taste.


Then…the grand finale. Clearly they had left the best til last…Sea Salt Caramel Truffles.


Wow! As you bite into the milk chocolate shell, you’re met with a liquid salted caramel centre. Bite into only half of it and you’ll end up in a mess, so this is best consumed whole. You can taste the hint of salt, which stops the caramel truffle from being too sickly sweet. I could have eaten a lot more of these, they were absolutely divine.

To round off the evening, we were all guided to the back of the store where we were greeted with tea cups of Pimms!


Whilst strawberries dipped in chocolate were passed around.


Cassie and I had a thoroughly wonderful evening. What can be better than an evening of chocolate truffles and champagne?! And we were even sent home with a goody bag containing the chocolate crown and a heart-shaped box of chocolate truffles! I went home feeling slightly queasy (in a good way!) from all the chocolate and champagne but extremely happy.


Thank you so much Charbonnel et Walker for the invite!


Charbonnel et Walker,
One, The Royal Arcade, 28 Old Bond Street, London, W1S 4BT
Tel: 020 7491 0939

www.charbonnel.co.uk (for more information on stores and stockists)
Twitter: @Charbonnel

* The top two photos are courtesy of the wonderful Cassie Bennitt (@Miss_Lola_Mae)

DIAMOND JUBILEE PARTY

This weekend celebrates the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and London looks incredible. Union Jacks adorn every part of the city, as far as the eye can see. It’s a beautiful sight and makes you feel very proud to be British.


Even better, we all have an extra day off work! And there’s nothing we Brits love more than a bank holiday weekend. Throw in some bunting, party food, Pimms and bunting and we’re all raring to go!

This year there is a record number of street parties planned with almost 9,500 road closure applications having been granted, that’s 4,000 more than for last year’s royal wedding! With tens of thousands of events planned in streets, gardens, parks, pubs and church halls around the country, the scale of celebration will the off the charts!

This Sunday, 3rd June 2012, over 1000 boats will gather on the River Thames in preparation for The Queen to take part in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. Starting between Hammersmith and Battersea and finishing down from Tower Bridge, it will be one of the largest flotillas ever assembled on the Thames. Boats of all shapes and sizes will be decked out in Union Jack flags and streamers, and passenger boats carrying flag-waving members of the public will be joined by music barges, all celebrating Her Majesty’s 60 year reign.

The preparations have already started as you can see from this photo, taken by my lovely friend Jason:


Now, as much as this weekend’s Jubilee festivities is all anyone can talk about in London at the moment, unfortunately, the excitement has not reached Glasgow where I am assured by my brothers that no-one is talking about it. What a shame. Especially as I booked this weekend to fly home and visit my family months ago, before I realised quite how huge this weekend would be in London.

So yes, I’m officially gutted that I’m missing out on all the street parties my friends have invited me to and the amazing party atmosphere that will be engulfing London this weekend. And this is why I decided to hold my very own Jubilee party last Sunday…a week early!

The idea began when I decided that I wanted to make a Union Jack cake. Then I saw these gorgeous cupcake toppers on this website - http://bit.ly/LxKDbx - and decided I could not live without them!


And so decided to make some mini cupcakes. THEN, I found some gorgeous Union Jack cupcake cases and had to buy them too. It just made sense that I should have a party so I could share the cake with my friends as opposed to scoffing it all myself! And I love any excuse to have a party.

On top of that, every shop in London is full of Jubilee-inspired gifts and there’s nothing I like better than to buy myself a gift! So of course, I had to buy the Union Jack paper chains I found (http://bit.ly/JKkSXr), and the Union Jack bunting, the Union Jack paper cups (http://bit.ly/JRKSte), the Union Jack tablecloth (http://bit.ly/K7wwLh), napkins with the Queen on them (http://bit.ly/LDEo1L), London-inspired paper plates (http://bit.ly/KNl9X1) ….! It slightly spiralled out of control!

And so, over the last week, I turned into Nigella on speed! I’ve been cooking and baking constantly, I’ve been making list after list, trying to organise it all. I even popped into Liberty to buy myself a special notebook so I could write down all my notes. (I told you, I like buying gifts for myself!)

And so…Sunday came! The bunting was up…


The sandwiches were made….Coronation Chicken (of course!), egg mayonnaise and cucumber and cream cheese…


A jug of Pimms was on the go…


The mini cupcakes with the ‘Royal’ toppers were ready…


Mini smoked salmon quiches and mini quiche Lorraines…


Sausage rolls…


Fairy cakes on my London-inspired cake stand (from Sainsburys)…


Millionaire shortbread, so we have a bit of chocolate caramel sweetness..


And the pièce de résistance, the thing that started it all off in the first place…my Union Jack cake!


I added my Royal pop tops (http://amzn.to/LABrTF but you can get these in most shops at the moment)…


Unfortunately, it was 29 degrees outside, the hottest day of the year so far, and my flat is like a sauna at the best of times. Did I mention I have no outdoor space?!

So my poor friends had to endure being indoors instead of sunbathing outside. But, bless them all, not one of them moaned or complained. I’d half expected them not to turn up!

It was such a great party and we all had such a lovely day. I love having my friends together in one place. And the cherry on the cake was that my good friend Trenham, who moved to Melbourne 2 years ago, (his blog is londonerdownunder.tumblr.com) was back in London on holiday. It was amazing to have everyone back together again.


The party ended up in the pub round the corner at about 8pm and we sat out in the garden drinking Prosecco until midnight. What a perfect day!

God Save the Queen!