Pub Supper Box Review with UOpen*

Subscription boxes over the last few years have really had a giant surge of popularity; what’s there not to like about receiving a mystery parcel in the post once a month from yours truly?! With an abundance of different types available these days so whether you want to spoil a loved one with a fun gift or just treat yourself to a little something.

Recently I was contacted by a company called UOpen and they offer the biggest range of subscription boxes you could imagine. With such a wide variety of boxes they offer something for literally everyone and anyone. So whether you’re a fishing fanatic, crazy about cocktails or curious about crafting; the guys and gals at UOpen have got you covered.

UOpen offered me the chance of receiving one of their subscription boxes as a gift and I jumped at the chance quicker than you can say two for one on all cocktails for the rest of the night for people called Abbie. Staying in is the new going out; especially if you’re a billy no mates like me, so I picked the Pub Supper Subscription box to try out.  I wanted the pleasures of going out to my local pub (without the extortionate prices, sticky floors and fighting; and not just for a table) but all from the glorious comfort of my own home and sat on my sofa watching boxsets in my jammies. 

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I love going to a pub. There’s far more enjoyment for me in a nice, cosy, old man pub with cheap pints and board games aplenty than in a packed out club or bar. If you sympathise with me here or maybe just know someone who’s a pub fanatic; this box might just be right up their alley.

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It costs £19.95 for a monthly payment per box in which you’ll receive roughly between 8-10 premium pub snack goodies. So it’s not just your bog standard soggy peanuts and a tiny packet of scampi fries round here. The box I received had a plethora of delights inside, the majority of which I can say I’ve never tried before. Unfortunately for me there were quite a lot of meat based items but as I was sharing this experience and all the contents with my family, they sampled all the things I could not.

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One of the first things that caught my eye was this packet of Brave roasted peas coated in a warm and spicy paprika and chilli flavouring. These little bites were super crunchy and super moreish; a little sprinkling in your hand just was not enough. They feel a lot healthier than snacking on some super salty peanuts so if you’re looking for something a little bit different instead to try to fill that savoury void these would be an excellent choice.

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But if nuts remain a pivotal part of your predrinks, feast your eyes on these Graze mixed nuts. You get chilli & Lime covered cashews and salt sprinkled peanuts and almonds. The chilli on the cashews is a little bit warm so if spice isn’t your thing, maybe stick to the peanuts and almonds. I love that this mix is a little bit different from what you’d usually find in a pub, bar or in the snacks aisle of a supermarket. And the chilli and lime flavours of this go so nicely with something tequila based or a light beer.

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I am not a fan of olives but I’m really glad these were included in my box as some people do actually like these sad salty grapes. Specifically those people being my sister and mum. They’re a popular bar snack and go nicely with most beverages.

 

What’s a party without gossiping over some wine and crisps?! First up was Scrubby’s Sundried Tomato and Basil flavoured hummus chips which I could have eaten a whole lorry load all to myself to be honest. I love hummus and I’ve tried a few different types of hummus crisps before but these ones were next level as they were complete with some top notch italian style flavours. Next was Nando’s very own Peri Peri grooves Spicy Chicken flavour potato crisps. I didn’t eat these (cos veggie) but even before I turned vegetarian I wasn’t a huge fan of chicken crisps but these smelt a whole lot better. More like Nando’s scent with a bit of chicken flavour as well. 

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I’ve had these salt and vinegar mini rice cakes before and they are absolutely gorgeous and I could easily scoff loads. You can get them in the bigger size or normal rice cake size as well which is the ones I’d usually opt for, but having this grab bag gave me more opportunity to shove more in my mouth than you should. These low cal snacks are perfect if you’re choosing to not have crisps but still want the acidic tang that salt and vinegar snacks give you.

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So I don’t want to keep banging the drum to the same tune here BUT I am vegetarian so I didn’t eat these. They’re a bit different as it’s something I didn’t imagine would be included. I’m not sure if it’s just because I’m a veggie and don’t mix in the meat eating pub snacking circles so obvs it wouldn’t be something I’d choose for myself.

Last but not least in my pub subscription box were two different bags of pork scratchings. We had the Awfully Posh ones which were chilli and roasted garlic flavoured (fancy!) or the Mr.Porky crispy strips. Now to me this is a original classic for country pub snacks. In my local they have a massive glass barrel on the bar filled to the brim of pork scratchings.

On the whole, I really enjoyed the Pub Subscription box even though some of the items I received weren’t all 100% suited to my tastebuds; it provided a variety of different snacks to please a wide and varied crowd. Not literally obvs they’re not Jesus with their loaves of bread and a couple of fish. I’m sure if this was a service I kept up with ordering each month, there would be a whole host of different sweet or savoury snacks inside that would tickle even the fussiest of tastebuds.

Some people may argue that the price seems a bit steep but I think with these types of things it’s excellent if you’re having friends round for a party or if you are a pub connoisseur and to unwind in the evening in your arm chair with a nice bottle of something (no lambrini huns pls) and to delve deep into your monthly box. If you went to a pub with friends or picked up some new, fancy bits whilst food shopping and bought 8-10 different nibbles and snacks I don’t think you’d get much change out of a £20 either and this is delivered straight to your door in a nice big box too.

If I could change one thing about this I think it would be really nice to include what alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages would pair well with which snack. I think that would be a really nice added touch and tie the whole experience of it so well together. Other than that I really liked it.

With a snazzy subscription box like this in your home or ordered just for a special occasion; There’d certainly be no FOMO going on.

*I received this subscription box from Uopen in exchange for a review. As always my thoughts, feelings, opinions and images remain honest, genuine and my own.*
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How To Make Homemade Smartie Cookies.

These sweet snacks used to be my absolute favourite treat when I was younger. After talking to my sister about them recently we discovered you cannot find them ANYWHERE. I looked all over and searched high and low in pretty much every supermarket and online (that’s how desperate I became for my sugary fix) and started to feel like this is the hidden conspiracy item or I was a victim of the Mandela effect; did they even exist? Did I make them up and had been living in a cookie induced lucid dream for years?!

Also, side note, if someone finds these being sold somewhere real soon I’m going to sound like such a weirdo conspiracy theorist aren’t I! If I get a comment from someone saying they bought these in Tescos just a few days ago I’m going to actually go mad. But anyway!

So I made some of my own that I think taste pretty similar to the real deal and how they used to taste but given the fact that it’s been the best part of about 10 years since I remember having one they might not be bang on but they still tasted pretty good so if you fancy making some of your own give this recipe beneath a go.

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Ingredients:

  1. 150g softened butter
  2. 150g soft light brown sugar
  3. 75g caster sugar
  4. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  5. 1 large Egg
  6. 250g plain flour
  7. 1 tsp baking powder
  8. A pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg. (optional)
  9. smarties (other sugar shelled chocolates are also available)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and if you wanna be super organised (unlike me basically) line a baking tray as well.

  • Firstly, combine the softened butter and sugars in a large bowl. The more I’ve gotten into baking over the last few years, I think you actually really notice the difference when using cold butter, room temperature butter or softened in your bakes. By using room temp or softened butter it enables the sugar and butter to mix together a lot quicker and a lot easier. Plus it means you don’t have to have a mini bicep workout in the kitchen. In this recipe I used both white caster sugar and light brown sugar. The addition of the brown sugar gives the bake a darker golden colour and a slightly more fudgy taste.

 

  • Combine the egg and the vanilla extract together then pour into the sugar and butter mixture and stir until fully blended. Even though there’s a lot of sugar in these super sweet cookies by adding the vanilla extract gives the cookies an extra, deeper flavour throughout. Most supermarkets stock extracts or essences in the home baking aisle and if you want to make this recipe your own you could try using different flavourings like almond, coffee, caramel or even a salted caramel essence instead of vanilla.

 

  • Once all the wet ingredients are fully combined sift in the dry ingredients until it’s formed a dough like consistency. I added in the spices in at this point it’s completely optional I only used a small amount as I didn’t want it to overpower the whole thing but I felt that it just added a little something extra.

 

  • Place the dough in the fridge for about 30-40 minutes to let the flavours develop and the dough to harden up.

 

  • I sliced the cookie dough into 1 inch thick circles, rolled it into a ball between my hands and placed on a tray. I then pressed in a handful of smarties into the cookie and then baked for between 10-12 minutes until golden.

Perf with a cup of tea or glass of milk or eating every single one after the other when no is looking…

 

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Blogtober day 19.

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Hiyaaaaa can you actually believe it is it day 19 of Blogtober and I haven’t forgotten/given up/been blocked by the whole entire Internet for constantly rabbiting on, on here. I’m not going to lie, there have been occasions where I’ve come close, overcome with the thought of what am I ACTUALLY doing this for, all it’s doing is clogging your reader page and probably annoying you. Plus I’d usually get way too deep into the thoughts of why I’m actually blogging and whether it’ll ever really pay off for me or whether I am just genuinely wasting my spare time by talking about cake and cheese on the internet. The latter is a thought I try and quash quite regularly just in case it’s the truer of the two options.

I was hoping to use this month or Blogtober debacle to showcase my writing, my skillz and impress you all with some thought provoking, good fun, good humoured content that would result in at least 5 Pulitzer prizes. It’s built in my very core to aim high even if I’ll spectacularly fail. I’ve got an embarrassing amount of drafts on here filled with half written entities that I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do with. Some of them are complete jargon I was writing at about 5 am when I wake up ridiculously early, some of them read like the ramblings of a drunk crackhead and some of them are just dog memes I don’t know where to save. Maya Angelou eat your heart out, I think not.

For me, I just love writing. Even Christmas cards, notes to the DPD driver as I’m just heading out or customer feedback surveys for restaurants and stores I’ve shopped in. I suppose one of the side effects of becoming/being a writer is the inevitable ‘struggle’ that you have to go through or face at one stage or another. Struggling writers and struggling artists are what the creative arts are almost built on. No one wants to know about Little Miss Sophia that had it all. People like to hear stories about someone that worked tirelessly, that came from nothing, that typed their fingers to the bone whilst working 3 deadend jobs and an internship, raising triplets and living on the streets all for the off chance it might make a difference and they might actually do that thing, where they work their dream job. No pressure huns.

I think I read something online recently that said that the majority of Millennial’s (‘scuse me whilst I go gag,  I actually hate that word so much. Usually because it is twinned with an equal ridiculous sentence like ‘..Millennial’s can’t afford to get on the property ladder because they’re buying too many avocado’s…’. Firstly who is making these correlations?! Secondly unless you haven’t noticed rising house prices and a dire minimum wage don’t exactly go hand in hand. Thirdly….Iceland sell a bag of 8 avo halves for £3.50.) are a lot more likely to be working in jobs they don’t want to be doing compared to the older generations. I went to a school where they practically drummed it into you to aim high, aim high, aim high and basically saying that you don’t want to aspire to work in McDonalds or as a bin collector. Shady school I know but that’s a subject for another day. But can *every* single person chase their dreams and get what they want? Surely someone has to aspire to be a happy go lucky bin collector. The ones who do it in my village look like some of the happiest people I’ve ever seen. They’re always smiling, laughing and joking with each other. They carry dog treats in case they see a dog and they get to hang about in the fresh air for a living.

Has this sense of seeking perfection always been prevalent or is it because it’s nearly 11pm on a Friday night and I’m overthinking and questioning all of my life choices up until now. Like if only I stuck with my recorder lessons back at primary school I could be the first person in the world selling sold out stadium tours with me and my recorder. If only I actually paid attention in History in my GCSEs rather than looking out the window and trying not to drift off under the spell of my teachers monotonous voice. I swear that man could make a chess game between a seal and a top hat wearing grizzly bear sound dull.

Or maybe it’s just me, overthinking everything as per usual. Feeling very much like I’m the only person in the world that isn’t living their best life or travelling Greek islands via super yacht every single summer. Wondering what if I never achieve these hopes, goals and dreams and will spend my final years cursing my younger self in my youth for not working harder and for wasting too much time toiling away in a job I despise. But maaaaaybe it’s also the weather. Like I’m just feeling a little bit lacklustre at the moment. Almost as if it’s the calm before the storm and I’m waiting for something huge to come along and shake me up and set me in a new, much more exciting direction. Or maybe I’m just sleep deprived. Who knows.

So for now, I’m going to bid you goodnight.

MUCH LOVE. X

 

Lucky Beach – Brighton.

image_6483441 (13)This little beach side treasure is nestled in one of the arches on Brighton Seafront. We stumbled upon Lucky Beach on a gloriously sunny Tuesday morning whilst visiting the area and I am so glad we did. Check out the view we had across the beach as well!? For the most of the time we eat with our eyes, so if it looks good we like to believe it’ll taste great too. Pretty food is delicious food am I right?! NOT only does their food look like the type of thing foodie dreams are made of but they have an accolade of awards to boot. They are proud to serve only sustainable, organic and locally grown produce and on top of all that they’ve been voted UK People’s favourite restaurant 2017/18. I can vouch for that too, it was blimmin’ great.

After browsing their brunch menu I decided I really wanted pretty much one of everything however I settled on having the Vege breakfast. Having been a vegetarian since mid November 2017 I’ve come to the realisation that not all veggie breakfasts are quite as enjoyable as a standard breakfast plate. I suppose that is a bit of a generalisation really but that’s what I’ve come across at least. So I was really excited to see this menu had really exciting, fresh foods and flavours incorporated into all their dishes.

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This was the most colourful breakfast plate I think I’ve ever had and it was absolutely amazing. The Vege breakfast consisted of two slices of grilled focaccia, a poached egg, caramelised onions topped with a sprinkling of roasted chickpeas, homemade hummus, beetroot tahini, parsley and mint, grilled slices of courgette are just hidden underneath the toast. Then finished off with a dusting of black sesame seeds. It was divine. Look how beautiful it looks and you could taste the freshness of all the ingredients too. In my mind this is the type of healthy style breakfast they eat in California, and I definitely felt quite boujiee listening to the waves crash as I scoffed down on this. Who needs Venice Beach eh?!

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They have a really extensive drinks menu that I kinda wanted to order one of everything. Their coffees sounded fantastic and I usually always have a tea or latte with breakfast if dining out, but they also had so many wellness teas, herbal teas, soft drinks and juices I opted for a raspberry lemonade. Which was refreshing, tangy and was perfectly sharp on a warm spring day.

I’d definitely return to Lucky Beach if I was in the area again. The food was really delicious, fairly priced considering it was all locally sourced, fresh ingredients too. The atmosphere was really chilled, laidback, friendly and had a nice, fun vibe too. The staff were all so nice as well which can really make or break a dining experience in my opinion. I can wholeheartedly see why this restaurant has such glowing reviews. FOOD WIN.

Sea Salt & Dark Chocolate Torte.

I know, I know. Last time I posted on here I said I was going to be posting more regularly once on a Wednesday and once on a Sunday. Well me and scheduling/any form of organisation is like Donald Trump to rational thinking and not being a total div. Sorry team I really do wish I was one of those super organised, elegant gals that arrive at events 10 minutes early with immaculate hair and makeup and always know what’s what. But that’s not me. I’m trying me best at scheduling and drafts and what not so gimme some time for this to actually start. Thanks for being all so wondrous, so supportive and so damn fit. LY mean it. Anywho, I have a foodie post to whet your metaphorical and internetty appetite with today, so sit back (or however you want to sit idm) relax and have a read of this little gem. This was super easy and dead showy offy to make as well, so enjoy!

When I get sad I bake. When I bake I eat more. When I eat more I get fat. When I get fat I get sad. YA SEE HOW THIS CYCLE GOES ON. Everything in moderation is something I should live my life by more often but the sad truth is a slice of chocolate cake and a large vino tastes infinitely better than a wheatgrass shot and some bulgar wheat grains. I’ve been feeling a little bit rubbish, a bit low and not quite myself for a few weeks now, with me putting it down to hormones or just feeling a bit lost in life. I’ve made some changes in my personal life and am starting to put me first a lot more from now on, I’ll talk more about this in my lifey post which’ll put up in the next few days. So after a bit of a grotty week I decided to traipse into town and do some food shopping yesterday and to get a few ingredients. Cue all the adulty adults having a good old chuckle as I ATTEMPTED to food shop on a Saturday. At Midday. uGH. This is going to be much more of a chatty recipe post so I hope you’re not expecting a fine cuisine recipe for this one, I kinda just made it up as I went along and it happened to turn out pretty yum. It’s a torte not a tart as the dictionary definition is that a tart contains flour and a torte has more of a crumbly/no floury base. So not only are you making something delish it also sounds dead fancy!? So if you want to emulate me and this recipe you’ll need to put on your comfiest clothes, scrunch up your hair into an incredibly messy high bun and follow de rulez.

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So to make this little babe you will need:

  • A loose bottom tart/flan tin. (I used a 9.5 x 1.4’inch one).
  • 200g of shortbread biscuits.
  • 100g melted unsalted butter.
  • 400g dark chocolate.
  • 300ml double cream or whipping cream.
  • 100g caster sugar.
  • 50g unsalted butter.
  • Sea salt flakes.
  • 1tsp vanilla extract

It starts off with a cheesecake buttery biscuit base whereas normally digestive biscuits are used I fancied using some shortbread. I don’t know why I thought it would bind together a bit better and a sweeter over flavour to it. Which it did. After this I did think you could blend two different types of biscuits together to make it a bit different, maybe add some oats or maybe some chopped nuts to give it a crunchier more interesting texture. So smash up the biscuits to a fine crumb, picture that ex, that crap friend, that manager that made you work overtime on a Friday. Bash that pack of biscuits til it’s all the same fine sand consistency or ’til you’ve stopped being angry. Either way! Pour in the melted butter until the the biscuits have bound together and you can press it into the tart tin. Pressing it up the sides and across the base with about an inch thickness I left to chill for about 20 minutes. The torte that is. Not me.

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To make the ganache filling put the cream, sugar and vanilla extract into a pan and brought it to a slow, gentle boil. Whilst the cream is coming to a boil break the dark chocolate into small squares in a bowl and put the butter in with it too. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and leave to rest for about 30 seconds to a minute. Stirring the two together til the chocolate melts into the cream and thickens, forming that gorgeously glossy ganache. The added butter might seem a little bit odd but it give the ganache that lovely sheen to it. I sprinkled some sea salt over the top and then placed in the fridge for 2+hours. Once it’s set serve with a dollop of creme fraiche, some fresh berries or maybe some crushed hazelnuts. YUMMMMM.

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I don’t know how many kcals this contains and frankly I don’t care as it tasted blimmin’ well great. If you try this please do let me know what you think, I found it so easy I don’t even think I can call it baking?!

Working with Petshop.co.uk

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Up until the humble age of 19 I never owned a pet. Unless you count the goldfish me and my sister either won at the fair or got from the local pet shop. Fish as pets for me weren’t very exciting or very fun, I’m not expecting them to my little best friend that I can share all my innermost thoughts with or to jump through fiery hoops, as ridic and impressive as that would be. They were just kinda there, taking up space in their big ol’ tank on the side. Voohran was our oldest goldfish lived for what seemed like 450 years in goldfish time but in reality I think it was about 3 years in human time, which isn’t bad going for a fairground fishy. Also don’t judge the name, me and my sis were and still are weird little beings. And you try and think of a better name for a fish that refused stinky fish flakes than Voohran. What a guy. What a maverick. What a weird name thinking about it?

Other than that little guy, I never had a pet so I never really understood the love and affection you really feelI cried at Marley and Me when it first came out but watching it again being a dog owner I’m not ashamed to admit I cry Kim K style ugly tears. Or I stop the film just as they move into the last big house so the doggo has a lovely happy ending woofing and Wow’ing with Owen Wilson forevz. Don’t even get me started on A Dog’s Purpose I’m not even going to attempt that one. My parents both had pets growing up and remember them talking about them as if they were a member of the family, one you actually love and like I should add, and my sister and I always felt like we were missing out on that. So when I was 19, 4 years ago now, our lives all changed when a little ball of fluff came into our lives in the shape of Charlie, or Lord Charles or Chatsworth the Schnoodle. He is a miniature schnauzer cross toy poodle and is a little joy.

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JUST LOOK AT MY LITTLE BEAR CUB HERE!! He is ever so adorable, clever and knows so many tricks. Such a little cutie and brings so much joy. Continue reading “Working with Petshop.co.uk”

I MADE A GIANT JAFFA CAKE.

I’ve conjured up a sure fire way to put end to the age old debate as to whether the humble Jaffa cake is a biscuit or a cake, by making my own version larger than my own blimmin’ face! No seriously this is huge and delicious. Just like me amirite? I found this recipe through UniLad would you actually believe it. No offence you absolute lads buuuuut I never had this site synonymous with baking cakes especially chuffing good caked bakes at that! Not only is a gigantic Jaffa Cake totally heavenly to gorge on but it’s also super pretty to look at too PLUS the recipe and method is really easy to follow too! win win eh!

I haven’t done any fun bakes in a while and as soon as I found this I couldn’t wait to put it into practice and share it with you all! I’ve tweaked it a little bit here and there to make it more suitable for how I wanted it but as you can see on the link above you can follow that straight through to the UniLad version.

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So, before I get too into this recipe post, a word to the wise this cake can take a little while to fully create so if you’re hoping for a quick and easy bake to show off to your friends, frenemies and exes on IG maybe give yourself a a good few hours!

You will need:

  • A frying pan lined with baking paper.
  • A round cake tin smaller than your saucepan lined with cling film.
  • 135g packet of orange jelly cubes.
  • 250ml boiling water.
  • 200g unsalted butter.
  • 200g caster sugar.
  • 3 medium eggs.
  • 200g self raising flour.
  • 1 tsp baking powder.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  • Zest and juice of half an orange.
  • 200g dark chocolate.

Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

To give the sponge that bouncy, half spherical shape a lot of websites/recipes suggest baking the cake itself in a frying pan. Sounds weird I know but it works so go with me on that.  I covered the base of the pan with a circle of baking parchment and sprayed the sides with some coconut oil frylite spray to make it easier to get out of the pan.

Cutting the jelly into cubes (who else used to just eat the cubes as a kid??No me neither that would be weird…) I line a round cake tin with some cling film at the same time putting the kettle on to boil. Multitasking check me out eh!? Pouring the boiling water over the top of the jelly cubes and stirring til all the jelly lumps have melted away. I add the zest and the juice of half an orange into the jelly giving it a super orangey kick. One of your five a day right??? I then pour into the cake tin to set up and chill in the fridge for a few hours.

THE SPONGE

This recipe was a standard sponge. Cream the butter and the sugar together til light and smooth. Slowly add the eggs and the vanilla extract. Fold in the flour and baking powder and once its all delightfully mixed to perfection pour into the frying pan. Sounds proper mental and to be honest I was a bit nervous I was going to catch fire to my Mum’s fancy pants frying pan but all is well in team What Abbie Says camp. They recommended the baking time of about 30-40 minutes. I’d keep checking on it from that time onwards, as mine actually took somewhere up to 45 minutes altogether as it was still uncooked in the centre.

Once done, transfer the cake on to a wire, cooling rack and leave til its cooled completely. Making sure the jelly is chilled like Snoop Dogg on a day between the 19th and 21st April I melted the dark chocolate over a pan of water. Also known as a bain marie if you will. Wait til the chocolate has fully melted and leave to cool; if it’s too warm it’ll melt the jelly when you pour it over and you’ll either have to eat it on your own VERY QUICKLY or serve a sad jaffa pud. Placing the jelly circle in the middle on top of the cake I poured the melted chocolate over the top, making sure the entirety of the top was covered and that it didn’t drip down onto the edge. Dipping the knife into the top  drawing lines both horizontally and vertically. Quickly putting back into the fridge to set up for the fiiiiiinal time and once it’s cool you can serve it. YOU’RE WELCOME. Jaffa cakes are fab, bigger jaffa cakes are extra fabulous.

If you fancy making this recipe, I would totally recommend. It was super fun, totally easy to do and looks really impressive as well. To give this recipe a little twist how about using a dark chocolate and lime jelly or even raspberry. Equally you could use something like a tropical or pineapple flavour jelly with a white chocolate coating and coconut sponge like a pina colada without the hangover!