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Top 10 Creative Hen Party Ideas

Now that the royal wedding is out of the way, it’s time to focus on how to make yours even bigger and better. And what better way to do that than a creative hen party?

Ceramic Painting

Wedding’s can be a stressful time, so why not kick back with something truly relaxing, like painting? There are tons of cafes across the country dedicated to not only supplying you with the best cakes and coffees, but also giving you the chance to paint something special onto a plate, mug, or a simple tile. For your hens this could give them the chance to get those wedding gifts in early, or for the bride it might be a chance to cement your love for your partner to be in pottery form.

Upcycling

Getting married marks the beginning of your life as a couple, and what better way to begin that journey than by giving your most old and battered furniture a new lease of life? This also gives the hens the chance to get cracking on the ‘Something Old’ and maybe even the ‘Something Blue’, and all without spending too much money, because you’re using things you already own!

Flowers

Obviously, flowers are an integral part of the wedding ceremony. But what do you really know about them? Having your hen party revolve around flower arranging, or even making flower crowns, is the perfect way to get green fingered, and get more info on that beautiful bouquet you’ll be clutching as you make your way down the aisle. It’s also info that you can all carry with you, as you get those gardens blooming, so they’re ready to be the site of all those post honeymoon catch ups.

Life Drawing

As well as the standard life drawing fare, bringing you all closer together through art, there’s also a whole wealth of themed life drawing classes you can head to, featuring everything from bowls of fruit to burlesque acts. Art is the perfect way to spend some quality time with your hens, and bring you all closer together through your creativity. Get your pencils at the ready, it’s time to get sketching.

Jewellery Making

The perfect way to top off that beautiful wedding dress is with jewellery hand made by your closest family and friends. From hammering rings to glass bead making there are plenty of ways to incorporate some hand-made jewellery into your outfit on your special day, and something out there for all abilities.

Cocktail Masterclass

We all love a martini from time to time, and who can blame us?! But rather than having to rely on seeking out a skilled bartender, a cocktail masterclass will provide you with all the skills to make your favourite drinks from the comfort of your own home, and even impress guests with your shaker moves. For the non-drinkers it’s also a chance to discover a wealth of drink possibilities in bars other than water!

Pottery

Channel those Ghost vibes and have a go behind a potter’s wheel with your hens. Learn all about the clay and the best ways to shape it, whilst getting creative with your design ideas. Perhaps a vase for the bouquet to sit in? A dish, for all your wedding jewellery to sit in? The possibilities are endless.

Glass Blowing

If you really want to learn a new skill this hen party then glass blowing is the way to go. This glass forming technique has been around since the 1st century AD, and will see you transforming molten glass into a bubble with your breath. If that’s not impressive then we don’t know what is.

Perfume Making

Perfume is an incredibly personal thing; one scent might be lovely to one person, and not to another. So why not craft your very own perfume, made up all the smells you truly love, and discover more about your hens as they do the same?

Chocolate!

Now, we may be biased, but we can’t think of a better way to spend your hen do than surrounded by chocolate. Our luxury chocolate making workshops not only give you the chance to learn more about those delectable delights, but also to make your own and get a cheeky cocktail as well. And after all, if there’s a wedding involved, it should be luxury all the way!

The Ingredients for the Perfect Hen Party

The bride is no doubt working away hard planning the big day, so it’s up to you, the ‘hens’ to give her the fun hen party that she deserves! We’ve put together a list of the ingredients for the perfect hen party, so that you can send your bride off into marriage, secure in the knowledge you gave her the best send off ever.

Ice breakers

Chances are, not everyone at a hen party is going to know each other already – university friends and work friends, ex-flatmates and aunties, all might not have had much cause to hang out together before. But you don’t want it to get awkward. Ice breaker games to kick start the party are the perfect way to make sure everyone knows who everyone is and to get some laughs going early doors. Wedding themed drinking games are a great way to kick start this, or a Mr & Mrs style quiz about the bride to be to get everyone reminiscing and sharing stories about her!

Something for everyone

Just like everyone might not know each other already, they might also have different ideas of fun. There might be guests of all ages, or some guests who don’t drink, or eat certain foods. One solution to this, and a good way to please everybody, is to divide the party up into different kinds of activities, so that people can be flexible, and not feel any pressure. Something more casual like food to start with before heading off for drinks means everyone can enjoy a piece of the special party.

Forward planning

It may seem obvious to suggest planning the hen party, but you’d be surprised! Making specific bookings at specific things for specific times will help the party to move along nicely and give the festivities a sense of direction. Similarly, thinking carefully about the bride and what she will want from the party when you’re doing your planning is of the utmost importance – it is her party after all.

Treating the bride to be… and yourselves

One of the most important things is to treat yourselves. You’re here to celebrate the woman who’s about to get hitched, but also to celebrate your friendships. Female friendship is one of the most powerful forces out there so be sure to celebrate it in style and to honour it in luxury. Make sure you do all of your favourite things, whether that be that indulging in some gorgeous chocolate or drinking some fancy cocktails.

Celebrate!

Now that all the planning is done and the ingredients are mixed together nicely… it’s time to get your partying on. Enjoy!

The Origins of the Chocolate Easter Egg

Easter is the most important chocolate event of the year, but that hasn’t always been the case. Throughout the history of spring and Easter, eggs have always been a symbol of fertility, new life and the new beginnings of spring, long before chocolate even came to Europe.

For many years, hard boiled eggs were painted and decorated and hung from branches. Often, egg shaped toys were given to children at Easter filled with sweets and treats, without no chocolate in sight – shocking, we know.

But then, in Europe in the 19th century, chocolate Easter eggs became increasingly popular, as the availability of chocolate grew. Most likely the trend started in France and Germany before coming to England in 1873 when confectionary company JS Fry & Sons started making early versions of what we now consider a staple of holy week. The first incarnations of Easter eggs were made from dark chocolate and were most likely grainy and bitter. Eating chocolate was relatively new and was hard to mould into shapes, so the eggs were normally completely solid.

But then, two things happened that changed the face (and taste) of Easter eggs. Dutch inventor Van Houten created a press that separated cocoa butter from the cocoa bean, and the Cadbury brothers introduced a pure cocoa. These changes in manufacturing created a kind of chocolate that was not only less grainy and bitter but also easier to mould into an egg shape.

These eggs quickly became popular and by 1893 Cadbury’s had 19 different Easter patents on Easter Eggs – that’s loads for the 1800’s. These eggs were often decorated with Marzipan or filled with sugared almonds, and as the 20th century arrived, they only became more popular.

These days, there’s every variety of Easter egg you could imagine lining shops, with loads to choose from whatever your chocolate taste.

Fun fact! 43% of kids say they can’t wait until Easter Sunday, and eat their Easter Eggs before then.

Top 10 Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day

We may be a little biased and think that nothing could beat the gift of chocolate or – even better – a chocolate making experience for Mother’s Day, here’s a little list of our favourite ideas for Mother’s Day gifts and treats.

  1. Flowers

    What better way to brighten not only your mum’s day but her house too? A bunch of flowers hanging about your house is not only good for mental wellbeing, but they will also put you in your mum’s good books for sure! Flowers in season mid-march include the hyacinth, which is symbolic of love and sincerity, and the daffodil, the ultimate sign that spring has sprung!

  2. Cook a Meal

    It was, most likely, your mum who made sure you were fed and watered every day when you were little, so why not return the favour? A three course slap up meal that you’ve put the time and effort of making into will make your mum feel treasured as anything – as long as you do the washing up too.

  3. Cocktails

    To go alongside that scrumptious meal why not treat your mum with the fanciest of fancy drinks, and take her out for some cocktails? From espresso martini’s to mojito’s now being served in most bars, you can take your pick of where to take her out and treat her. If you fancy ramping up your cocktails to a whole other level, look at our luxury chocolate making experience where you can make your own cocktails and your own chocolates!

  4. Spa Day

    Of all people, your mum deserves some TLC. Book in a spa day so that she can get the rest, relaxation and pampering that she deserves. Spa’s get their name from the town in Belgium, named after the Latin word Spargere, which means to scatter, sprinkle, or moisten. In more modern times, spa’s offer everything from massages to facials. There’s an endless supply of relaxing treats perfect for your mum out there, just waiting to be enjoyed.

  5. Photo Album

    For the well thought out, homemade approach, a photo album is the way to go. Your mum loves nothing more than to show off photos of you and your achievements, and this way you can include her and hers in the album too. For a bigger photo gesture, you could even get a family photo printed onto a canvas, so she can hang it in her house, and remember how much you love her every time she looks at it.

  6. Afternoon tea

    It’s the quintessentially British way to while away an afternoon, and is perfect for mums and grandmas alike. Tea, cake, coffee, scones… and maybe Prosecco if you’re lucky. Afternoon Tea has been going in England since about 1840 when it was introduced by the seventh Duchess of Bedford, so it’s a time old tradition. Be sure to choose your venue wisely; why not go for an afternoon tea with a view, to make it an extra special treat.

  7. Breakfast in Bed

    The ultimate in treating your ma like the queen that she is, fresh coffee and carefully selected pastries delivered as she lingers in her lie in is the perfect start to mothering Sunday. Why not put one of her favourite flowers on the tray too, to make it tailor made just to her.

  8. CD Mix

    Another homemade, sure fire winner, burning your mum a CD playlist of her favourite songs that she loves to bop along to will show just how much you care. Making sure there’s a mix of the songs she liked when she was younger, the ones she likes now, and the ones you’ve listened to together, will show how much her music choices have influenced yours!

  9. Smellies

    A calming, relaxing, sweet smelling treat for your hard working mum will help her unwind and allow her to treat herself whenever she wants and needs. Be it a candle, bath bomb or even perfume, these gifts will not only show your mum that you care, but allow her some well-deserved me-time.

  10. Chocolate Making Experience

    And finally, our favourite, why not treat you and your mum to one of our chocolate making experiences? It’s a fun, informative and exciting way to spend time together, and you get to eat loads of chocolate together – what more could you want?

Why is Chocolate an Aphrodisiac?

There’s nothing that gets us more in the mood for romance than a chocolate experience. But is there a reason why heart shaped chocolates get our actual hearts pumping?

The science

In the 1980’s scientists in New York discovered a chemical in chocolate called Phenylethylamine (or PEA), which triggers the release of dopamine. This same chemical is released in our brains when we’re in love, and so scientists theorised that chocolate also gives us that heart-pounding, sweaty palmed feeling of true love. Although the amount of PEA in chocolate is incredibly small by the time it gets to our brains, it does make sense that we feel happy when we’re having a chocolate experience – it is chocolate after all. And what’s a better aphrodisiac than feeling happy?

The history

Long before chocolate was served in bar form it was a drink mixed with honey and spices that was greatly enjoyed by Aztec emperor Montezuma. It is said that he would drink it from golden goblets, before throwing them away, never using the same one twice for his beloved ‘chocolatl’ drink. When Montezuma needed something to fuel his long romantic nights he would drink a goblet of chocolatl before entering his harem, claiming it made his tongue dance, and pulse quicken. It’s certainly the same feeling we get when we’re sneaking leftover chocolate after one of our chocolate experience workshops.

The culture

Our go to chocolate related film is of course the creamy delight that is Chocolat. Based on the book by Joanne Harris, Chocolat follows Vianne as she moves to the small french village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes and sets up a chocolaterie, upsetting the repressed locals. One person she doesn’t upset, however, is the woman who is gifted some very special chocolate, to spice up her marriage and help her husband fall back in love with her. If Vianne believes it, then we think we do too. And if you’re single, proud, and having a you-en-tines day, why not follow in Bridget Jones’s footsteps and enjoy a relationship with two men simultaneously – “one named Ben, the other Jerry.”

Whilst it may not be scientifically proven that chocolate is an aphrodisiac, it will certainly improve your life and your libido. Chocolate makes you feel good, gives you a handy sugar rush, a kick of caffeine, and the added bonus of knowing that someone loves you enough to buy you some chocolatey goodness. And if that’s not enough, you can treat yourself to a visit to our luxury chocolate making class and really spice up your valentine’s day.

The Chocolate Show 2017

What is The Chocolate Show?

The Chocolate Show is an annual showcasing of some of the finest of the UK’s chocolate experts and professionals – the perfect event for the sworn chocoholic.

Professional Chocolate Making

The show is one of our favourite places to go to get inspiration on the latest in chocolate making tips, trends, tools and techniques. Last year we were blown away by some of the ‘Desert of the Year’ entries, which got our Chocolatiers’ heads in a bit of a spin!

Mini Chocolatiers

Designed as a family day out, The Chocolate Show has lots of entertainment for the littlies including a demos, a children’s area, chocolate sculptures and workshops. If they get the chocolate making bug, you can bribe them away at the end of the day with the promise of one of our Mini Chocolatiers children’s parties!

Our Hot Tip

Tickets are discounted if you book in advance (even the day before), so it’s worth getting online before you visit.

10 Unique Gift Ideas for Mothers Day

It’s that time of the year again. Mothers Day is round the corner and you’ve got no clue what to get the woman who already has the best gift in the world (you, obviously!). Well here at The Chocolate Hedgehog we thought we’d lend a helping hand by giving you 10 Mothers Day gift ideas (you’re welcome). We’ve come up with a list of some of the most unique and sickly sweet gifts imaginable. Just take a look…

 

1) Breakfast in bed

So it’s not the most original idea in the world, but your efforts definitely won’t go unnoticed. You could even make heart shaped pancakes to add a little extra love! Try this recipe from skinnytaste.com

Bed-and-Breakfasts-in-New-Zealand

2) A homemade candle

Not got much money to spend? Not a problem. Candles are surprisingly easy to make and all you need is some household items, beeswax and a candlewick. You could even get creative and make it in a teacup or a mason jar! (Oooh so Pinterest). Check out how to make them here!

Romantic night . bed , roses and , petals candles.

 

3) Monthly tea subscription

This is the perfect gift for your tea-addict mother. From black tea to oolong tea, the vast array of options will be sure to keep her enticed. Buy yours here.

 

4) Chocolate Making Kit

Every chocoholic’s dream come true. This Chocolate Making Party Kit from The Chocolate Hedgehog allows you to follow simple tips and recipes to make and pipe truffles, dip and decorate milk chocolate fudge and create flavoured chocolate bites (drool…). It’s a great way to spend time with your mum and show her how much you appreciate her. Just try to resist gobbling down all the chocolate before Mothers Day!

 

5) Make a compliment jar

Get ultra cheesy with a jar full of little notes describing all the things you love about your mum. From her ability to find anything that is lost, to her delicious Sunday roasts. It may take a little extra effort, but a compliment jar will show her how much she truly means to you and even give her a pick-me-up on her down days. 

 

6) DIY bath bombs

If you want to create a pamper day but don’t want to break the bank, DIY bath bombs are the perfect solution. Making them yourself also gives you the opportunity to personalise the bath bombs to create whatever scent and colours your mum loves most. Just a few ingredients needed and you’ll be giving Lush a run for their money! Find out how to make them here.

 

7) Strawberries dipped in chocolate

A simple way to create absolute luxury. Just get your favourite organic milk melting chocolate and some succulent strawberries and you’re good to go! Why not check out The Chocolate Hedgehog for some unique ingredient inspiration.

 

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8) A blank cookbook for her to fill with family recipes

Having a personalised family cookbook not only brings together all the details of her favourite recipes, but it also means you can steal a couple tips for yourself too! Check out My Family Cookbook here.

 

9) Make a scrapbook filled with your favourite memories

Instead of a card this year, why not make a scrapbook filled with photos and trinkets? Search through those boxes of old photos (and albums on Facebook!) to build a collection of some of the special moments you’ve shared together. Take a look at Etsy for some photo album inspiration!

 

10) Make a pressed flower card

If writing a personal note is more your kind of thing, try making a pressed flower card to share your feelings in this year. It’s easy to do, cheap and beautiful. It’s also a great one to get kids involved in! Find out how to make your own pressed flower card here.

 

Recipe: Red Velvet Brownies with White Chocolate Flakes

Spring doesn’t only mean fruity flavours. Try chocolate making at home by having a go at this brownie recipe. Made with delicious organic milk melting chocolate and white chocolate flakes it’s nearly (but not quite!) as good as our Chocolate Making Party Kit.

INGREDIENTS

For the brownies:
110g organic milk melting chocolate
170g butter
400g sugar
4 large eggs
190g all-purpose flour
Few drops of red food colouring
1½ tsps baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt

For the cream cheese frosting:
300g full fat cream cheese
150g unsalted butter
45g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
White chocolate flakes

 

DIRECTIONS

For the brownies:
1) Preheat oven to 150°C. Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square pan with aluminium foil, allowing 2 to 3 inches of foil to extend over the sides; lightly grease the foil
2) Microwave the chocolate and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl for 1-2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals
3) Whisk in the sugar
4) Add the eggs, 1 at a time, whisking just until blended after each addition
5) Gently stir in the flour and next 4 ingredients
6) Pour mixture into prepared pan
7) Bake at 150°C for 44 to 48 minutes or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely on a wire rack (takes about 2 hours)
8)Lift the brownies from the pan using the foil sides as handles; gently remove foil

For the cream cheese frosting:
1) Place the butter in a large bowl with the caster sugar
2) Beat the butter and sugar together for 2-3 minutes until light and creamy
3) Then beat in the cream cheese until smooth
4) Stir in the vanilla extract
5) Spread the cream cheese frosting on top of the brownies, and cut into 16 squares
6) Garnish with white chocolate flakes

 

[Images provided by Red Velvet Cake, prepared by Waldorf Astoria New York ]

No-bake Triple Chocolate Brownies

Let’s be honest, these easy to make brownies look like heaven!

With organic milk melting chocolate and crumbled caramelised hazelnuts, what’s not to love!? Whip up a batch of these so you have something to nibble on whilst you hop over to The Chocolate Hedgehog  to order your own chocolate making kit. Then your next chocolate making adventure will be just as easy and even more delicious!

Makes 16 small brownies.

brownies

Ingredients

90g graham cracker crumbs

80g crumbled caramelised hazelnuts

30g cocoa powder

½ teaspoon salt

180g sweetened condensed milk

110g organic milk melting chocolate, melted

Directions

1. Line an 8-inch (20cm) square baking dish with two crossed strips of parchment paper, letting the long ends hang over the sides of the dish. Grease lightly with butter or baking spray

2. In a large bowl, mix together the crackers, hazelnuts, cocoa and salt. Pour in the milk. Add the melted chocolate and stir firmly to thoroughly combine

3. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap and press firmly into the pan

4. Chill for at least 1 hour, until firm enough to cut. Lift the parchment paper to remove the brownies from the pan. Cut the brownies into small squares. They will be fudgy but quite firm 5. Store leftover brownies in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days

Orange & Pistachio Chocolate Truffles

As we hope (!) you’re aware, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. If you’re anything like us, we are already wondering what to do doing on the day itself. Unsurprisingly chocolate features at the forefront of most of our plans.

In fact, if we are being really honest, most of us are helping out with our Valentine’s chocolate making class as Valentine’s is one of the business times of the year for us!

Having helped out at many, many Valentine’s chocolate making workshops over the years, we can honestly say that making personalised chocolates for your other half is always going to be a perfect Valentine’s gift.

If you’re looking for a little inspiration, we do offer chocolate making party kits, which contain all the ingredients and equipment you need to make your own truffles, fudge and flavoured chocolate bites.

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We are also big fans of our sumptuous orange & pistachio truffle recipe and what says I love you more than a homemade selection of indulgent, melt-in-your mouth truffles?

The recipe is quick and easy to make. All you need are a few simple ingredients and half an hour spare.

You will need:

  • 260g of premium quality dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa, broken into small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons of double cream
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 1 knob of butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups of pistachios, finely chopped
  • 1 orange, zested
  • Heart-shaped cookie/pastry cutter, preferably 1 inch in diameter

Instructions:

Simmer the honey in a frying pan for a few minutes, or until it turns a medium brown colour and gives off a sweet caramel scent. Remove the pan from the heat.

Melt the chocolate au ban marie, making sure to stir frequently. In a separate thick-bottomed pan, gently heat the cream.

When the chocolate has melted into a smooth and glossy mixture, remove ¼ of the chocolate and keep in a separate bowl.

Pour the warm cream and caramelised honey into the larger quantity of chocolate and whisk the mixture until it has blended together.

Mix in 1 cup of the pistachios and half of the orange zest.

Set the mixture aside to cool for 5 minutes or so. Meanwhile, combine the rest of the pistachios and orange zest in a large bowl.

Once the chocolate mixture has set, use your hands to roll it into bite sized pieces, roughly 2 inches in diameter. Place the pieces on a chopping board and flatten with a rolling pin. Use the cookie-cutter to cut the pieces into lovable heart shapes.

Once you have your chocolate love hearts, carefully dip them into the smaller bowl of melted chocolate and then coat them with the pistachio/orange zest mixture.

Place the finished truffles on a serving tray lined with parchment paper and devour at will!

Variations

What’s great about this recipe is you can easily vary the ingredients if you want to make them again. For example, you can replace the pistachios with hazelnuts or almonds for a subtle twist or if you’d prefer to spice things up, add five cardamom pods and a sprinkling of ground cinnamon or nutmeg.

If you enjoyed these truffles, and you’d like to read more from MyChocolate, please browse the rest of our blog.

 

[Images provided by Pixabay ]