Would you make a good Hen Party planner?

We’ve seen many a Hen party here at MyChocolate and been touched by the lengths Hens go to to plan a perfect party. Whether you’re party girls or prefer nothing more than a good night in, planning a Hen do for a friend is such an exciting opportunity to show her just how much you care. The bride-to-be’s most loyal friends are probably being trusted to plan a great party, with maybe just a few surprises! In fact, these days ladies are branching out from the crazier ‘Stag’-esque nights out and looking instead to plan unique hen parties, giving Hens a better chance to do what Hens do best, chatter!

Hens are happiest in a gaggle, and without the need to prance like Stags, a girl’s Hen night is the perfect time to relax and share advice (and maybe a few embarrassing stories). Creating a good party atmosphere requires a balance of expectation and surprise, and it can be easy to get carried away in the planning process. However, a good Hen always has the bride in mind and won’t subject her to a chubby, middle-aged strip-o-gram if she knows it will really make her squirm! Yet there’s only so much one can plan, as we all know that what really makes a party are the guests; great friends make for a great time.

A Hen Party is what you make it, but a good Hen is always on task to ensure smooth running, looking after the bride after a few too many cocktails and being sure to take snaps of every special moment! A Hen’s most important job is to remind the bride they are always there for her as she takes such a momentous step in her life, and talk her through any anxiety she may be experiencing, because that’s what friends are for, right? Lasting memories and moral support are a Hen’s greatest gift to a bride-to-be, and she’ll be eternally grateful. Whilst she may be enjoying a ‘final night of freedom’, the bride-to-be will probably appreciate being told how wonderful her man is, she’s just about to enter into a huge commitment and it won’t hurt to big up her other half in anticipation of their special day, letting her know she has your full approval!

If you’re planning a Hen party and need ideas, your first thoughts may be quite traditional, but looking into other ideas may throw up some gems. Now obviously we’re a little biased, but we believe a good Hen would most definitely provide an indulgent supply of every girl’s best friend – chocolate… and our unique hen parties are packed full of it! From chocolate making to cocktail shaking, what better way to bond than over a classy ‘choc-tail’? Watch out gents, here come the Hens!

The Members You Find in Every Team Building Activity

Here at MyChocolate, we’ve seen our fair share of team building workshops, so this week we thought we’d share some of the characters that regularly pop up. Now we all know every team has its cheerleaders and those who prefer to boo from the side lines, so when it comes to an office team building activity there are bound to be some who dread the thought of organised fun with a group of people they studiously avoid all week, but what are the true personalities that make up every team – and which one are you…?

The Enthusiastic One – No words can describe this team member’s undying dedication to everything ‘team’. The first one there, the last one to leave and the only one to enjoy every single minute (and they probably made up the ridiculous team name!) Yet this is the one person who gets everyone through with their cheerleader-style encouragement, remembering you are on their team is the key to accepting this team member and overcoming your strong desire to throw things at them when things get tiring and they’re still chirping “come on GUYS we can DO this!”

The Sulker – Or the direct opponent of Mr Enthusiastic. Far too cool, and close to physically disgusted by communal team building activities. This team member will make the most disdainful comments about what you’re supposed to be doing as opposed to what they could be doing right now. They probably also have a sidekick, or some sort of BFF, there to support them in their time of endless complaining and sulky looks. Expect to find the pair leaning on well, anything, and attempting to outdo each other’s contempt. The Sulker may be no more useful than a hungover sloth, but make them feel needed and they’re bound to perk up – all that’s required is to convince them that they really are the cool guy, even if this requires a slight bending of the truth…

The Joker – This one can make anything a joke. Literally anything. The problem is that not all jokes are funny – and have you ever actually seen this person do something productive? As a team member, you’ll find the Joker directly behind your Enthusiastic leader, doing sarcastic impressions of each and every excited schoolgirl shriek and encouraging grin. Don’t underestimate the power of the Joker though, you’ll need them when something goes wrong, their witty one-liner will definitely rescue morale quicker than a stiff gin and tonic and you’ll feel a renewed sense of love for their goofy, grinning face.

The Slave-Driver – Most likely to say “DROP AND GIVE ME 20!!” well maybe not, but they could definitely be mistaken for being an army major and despite your grumblings that it’s only a team building activity, will crack the whip at anyone visibly drooping or not paying full, undivided attention. Over prepared for any eventuality, following a full kit inventory, expect to stand in line and salute! The Slave-Driver will definitely compete with the Enthusiastic one for rule of the roost, but this will be a battle the Enthusiastic leader doesn’t even know they’re a part of (they’re just SO happy to be there). Then again, when strict precision pays off and the results are fabulous, you’ll be so pleased you’ll be saluting the Slave-Driver with a well-deserved “Yes Sir!”

Looking for a team building activity that’s a little outside the norm? Look no further than one of our chocolate workshops! Let’s just hope the group isn’t overburdened with Sulkers and Slave-Drivers!

MyChocolate’s Ginger, Cardamom and Cinnamon Dark Chocolate Recipe

Are you looking for a treat? Why not follow MyChocolate’s recipe to making your own delicious, velvety ginger, cardamom and cinnamon flavour dark chocolate. This is some truly fragrant and elegant choc that is guaranteed to wow your friends and family and the biggest secret of all … it’s so simple!

Speculaaskruiden

Ingredients

375g dark chocolate

13 drops of ginger cooking essential oil

½ teaspoon of grounded cardamom

1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder.

Method

Firstly melt down dark chocolate on a low heat. This is best done using a bain marie, as to not scold the sugar in the chocolate.

 

Temper the chocolate at 30 degrees centigrade. To temper the chocolate it must be heated and cooled, to 30 degrees and then left to cool until crystals begin to form and then reheated again to 30 degrees. Tempering is what gives chocolate it’s luxurious shiny finish and it’s satisfying snap.
Now add the ginger cooking oil, the cinnamon powder and the ground cardamom.
Cover the table with parchment paper and pour the melted chocolate onto it, creating a lovely slab, now spread the chocolate out evenly with a spatula, trying to cover most of the parchment paper.
Now leave it to set at room temperature until it is hard and brittle, this may take around 2 hours.
Lastly, break it into small pieces and enjoy! We assure you will …
One of our favourite games at MyChocolate is to keep our friends guessing the ingredients we’ve used, when we have them over for dinner! Especially if we’ve made a couple of different things, so why not check out our MyChocolate recipes to give you some more delicious inspiration. Also keep an eye on it for even more great and very unique recipes coming up really soon!

[Images provided by FotoosVanRobin from Netherland ]

Why is a hen party called a hen party (and a stag do a stag do)?

Nowadays it would be pretty unheard of to get married and not have a hen party or stag do in order to celebrate the final free moments before you tie the knot. Consequently we’ve heard of some pretty unusual hen party events along the way from perfume creation to go kart racing! But why is it called a hen party and why is it called a stag party? And where did these parties originate from?

Okay, so here’s the history lesson. A common misconception is that the terms ‘hen’ and ‘stag’ both originate from simple social stereotypes. In fact, it’s more likely that the word hen hasn’t always meant female chicken, in middle English, hen could mean the female of any bird and so a hen party was a party exclusively for ladies. Similarly, but going back even further, is the stag party, and you’ve guessed it, originally stag could mean the male of any animals, not just a male deer and so a stag party is one exclusively for gents.

So it turns out hen party’s aren’t a creation of modern society and they actually go pretty far back. Although I bet they didn’t have such unusual hen party events all that time ago…skydiving hens anyone? So where did the terms actually originate from? The tradition of the stag party, goes back even further (sorry Hens) certainly as far as tudor times. Just imagine how busy Henry VIII must have been with invites!

Numerous sources suggest that the very first stag party was actually held in the 5th century in Sparta, where a pre-marriage feast was held in order to toast the the groom-to-be.  On the other hand, hen celebrations have their roots more grounded in North African, Middle Eastern and Asian lifestyle. This is because the authentic phrase from which hens get together is believed to be henna, which is a wedding custom in all these cultures. Henna has significant importance in the East and is considered to have tendencies to be capable of purifying the bride and hold her risk-free from evil.

Here in the UK, we are somewhat on our own with our abstract names of hen and stag parties to see off the final moments of freedom. Australia is similar, but slight cultural differences mean that they call it hen party and buck party. Alternatively, America appear to be very vanilla in the naming of their pre-marital parties calling them a bachelorette party and a stag party respectively.

Whatever your background, there is no escaping the fact that marriage is possibly the most important decision of your life. So what better way to say goodbye to single life than to celebrate in style! Everyone knows that chocolate and hens go hand in hand, so if you’re after an unusual hen party event why not try your hand at one of our chocolate workshops?

 

Why Do Food and Team Building Go Hand In Hand?

So this one is simple, the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach, right? And this certainly creates happy, enthusiastic and sociable people which in turn creates great team building opportunities. So why is it that food and team building go hand in hand? And how can these team building activities in London help you?

Few things can unite a group as easily as food and drink, it is this shared mutual enjoyment of something that allows people to relax and indulge in a chilled atmosphere, which can help form relationships and promote strong team building. It is therefore becoming increasingly common to see offices, companies and colleagues putting on relaxed events revolving around food to induce good team building in London.

Food creates a lot of buzz and when you get the opportunity to get together as a group and have some fun in a low stress environment, there will inevitably be some great moments of team building and friendship-making that are likely to resonate in the office. This is an especially effective way to form bonds between new groups by breaking the ice via a common interest, food. We have all experienced the laid back atmosphere of a summer BBQ or the sophisticated atmosphere of a dinner party, where it is easy to soon find yourself talking to people who were originally unfamiliar. This is precisely why a growing number of companies are using food as a team building activity and a particularly effective stress alleviation policy.

So why is team building so useful? Team building in an office is crucial as it helps to foster better, open communication between the employees themselves, as well as between the employees and the higher management. It goes a long way in improving professional relations, understanding and co-operation, and this is very much reflected in the quality of work being done.

Team building in the workplace significantly contributes towards employee motivation and building trust among the employees, thereby ensuring better productivity and of course a much more friendly place to work.

It is this unique relationship that people have with food that allows them to communally bond and build team ethos. Several ideas for team building activities are:

–         An office picnic in the sun

–         A summer BBQ

–         A dinner party

–         Visiting a restaurant

Although these rather traditional examples, food being used for team building in this way will undoubtedly be very effective. It is even truer that people will engage with each other through teamwork and co-operation. So perhaps try something rather more unorthodox:

–         Food workshops, such as making your own delicious chocolates

–         Cocktail making class

–         Group cooking

Allow people to work together, with a common goal and leaving with a sense of achievement.

Whatever the team building activity you decide to undertake, using food as a main focus is guaranteed to be a real hit and will get everybody involved!

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How To Plan A Unique Hen Party Event

Planning the perfect hen party shouldn’t be a chore, so relax and take a look at MyChocolate’s top 6 ideas for planning the perfect evening or weekend (including some unique hen party events) with your friends to luxuriously see of your last free moments …

1. Perfume Creation – For a pretty original hen party, why not get together with your friends and let the creative juices flow, by making your very own perfume. This fragrant idea is guaranteed to be fun and get everybody together rallying off ideas of what’s pleasant and what pongs.

2. Pampering & cocktails – Pretty traditional but that’s for a reason, it’s golden. Every woman likes to feel special and what’s better than pampering yourself in the company of friends with massages, facials, manicures and pedicures. Oh and having a few cocktails of course!

3. Party games – It’s a simple but very effective idea that can help unite a big group and will break the ice between new groups better than a fat penguin. This is endless, whether it’s wedding themed or not so why not get creative? Story time, never have I ever, dress the bride, the handbag game, Mr & Mrs, rate the man, banned words… we really could go on.

4. Vintage tea party with an arts & crafts twist – This is a perfect idea to get everybody involved and having fun. For the ultimate gal who loves make-up and being creative a great idea is to choose a decade and everybody will dress up and have a makeover to fit that decade and then have a tea party. Think sophisticated 60’s tea party. A great little addition to the theme is to add some arts & crafts, like making all of the cute vintage decorations and bunting. This is a great plan for a truly relaxed hen party.

5. Baking, cooking & dinner party – If the bride to be has a bit of a passion for cooking and fancies herself as a bit of a foodie. Getting everybody in the kitchen to display their culinary skills will be great fun (and more than likely a little competitive too). Whether it’s treating her to a dinner party or getting in the kitchen and baking some cake! The hen is guaranteed to have a fun food filled party, and I’m sure there will be time to squeeze in a glass of wine or two in the process.

6. Camping (well … Glamping) – Perhaps we’re dealing with a very outdoorsy hen? Another unique hen party idea is camping, or more than likely glamping will be another great way to get away and truly unwind and have some fun with friends. I mean it’s camping without all the bad bits, in fact glamping tents aren’t the traditional nylon jigsaws we imagine. They are beautiful tee-pee looking havens with all of the facilities of a hotel room. What a great idea!

And after masterminding your incredible plan, nobody wants tensions or hiccups at the party. So, although we can’t help you with the post party hangover, here are MyChocolate’s top tips for a smooth and enjoyable party:

  • Organisation is crucial – Child’s play. If everything is well planned then everybody can relax and have fun from the off.
  • Define a budget – Ensure the budget for the evening/weekend is accurate and in line with everybody’s pocket, eliminate rifts and tears over who had an extra cocktail.
  • Swot up on the guest list – Nothing is more embarrassing than somebody knowing your name, but you not knowing theirs. Prior to the party, ensure you know who everybody is in order to give a nice friendly welcome from the off.
  • Ice Breaking – Hen parties are more than likely going to include the bride’s family and friends from home, university, work, etc. So there are likely to be a few unfamiliar faces, so a great tip is to break the ice by getting to know them a bit before and playing some silly group games.
  • Prioritise the bride – Last but certainly not least, given you are there to give the bride a wonderful send-off it is vital to make sure she has a fantastic party and gain a lot of great memories.

If you’re planning a hen party event why not try one of our special hen party workshops?

MyChocolate’s Hazelnut Truffle Recipe

Truffles are the epitome of luxury and are usually reserved for special occasions. So whether you are throwing a dinner party, a hen party or are just trying to perfect the art of making truffles – we thought we’d share this Hazelnut Truffle recipe with you. It’s no secret that chocolate and hazelnuts go amazingly well together (mmm think Nutella).  Give this recipe a go and discover how easy it is to make truly delicious and decadent chocolates!

Truffles_with_nuts_and_chocolate_dusting

Ingredients

Makes around 30 luxurious truffle chocolates.

170g whipping cream

400g dark chocolate

100g crushed roasted hazelnuts

40g whole hazelnuts

100g crushed wafer

20g cocoa powder

Method

Break 170g of dark chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl. Warm the whipping cream in a pan until it’s hot. Slowly pour the hot cream over the broken pieces of chocolate and stir continuously until the chocolate melts into the cream, forming a smooth paste. Add the crushed hazelnuts and stir evenly through the mixture. Leave the mixture to set in the fridge.

Once the mixture has chilled and thickened, spoon out small amounts and push a whole hazelnut into the middle.

Dust your hands with cocoa powder and roll the mixture into a ball be­tween your palms. Keep the truffles under an inch in diameter.

Melt 150g of chocolate “au bain marie”, meaning a bowl resting inside a pan of simmering water. Once it has melted, break 10g of the remaining chocolate into small pieces and add to the molten chocolate to bring the temperature down to 32ºC.

Using a fork, dip the truffles into the tempered molten chocolate and roll immediately in crushed (not powdered) wafer.

For more chocolate recipes check out the MyChocolate blog!

[Image provided by David Leggett]

MyChocolate’s Lemon and Poppy Seed Cupcakes

These zesty cupcakes are easy to make and are a tasty companion to afternoon tea. The lemon and poppy seeds make for a great twist on a classic recipe, so if you’re looking to bulk out your cupcake repertoire, look no further!

NB: You may add extra icing if you wish, but we think they are delicious simply as they are.

The ingredients in this recipe will make 3 cupcakes.

 

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Ingredients

50g soft butter
50g self-raising flour
50g caster sugar
1-2 tablespoons of milk
1 egg
Finely grated zest of ½ a lemon and 2 drops of lemon essence

25g of poppy seeds

Tip: weigh the egg(s) in the shell and use same weight each of flour, sugar and butter.

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C (Electric oven | Electric fan oven 160°C | Gas Mark 4).

Using a wooden spoon or whisk, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and make sure to beat in well. Next, gently fold the flour into the mixture, adding a splash of milk if the mixture is too thick. Finally add your poppy seeds, lemon zest and essence. Place cupcake mixture in paper cases in a muffin tin.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until well risen and light golden brown. After 20 minutes, check to see if the cupcakes are ready. The best way to do this is to insert a cocktail stick into one of the cupcakes – if it comes out dry cupcakes are done otherwise place the cakes back in the oven for a couple more minutes.

Lift the cupcakes out of the muffin tin and leave to cool on a wire rack for a short while.

If you gave this recipe a go and liked it, why not also try our Vanilla Cupcake recipe?

[Image provided by Clever Cupcakes]

MyChocolate’s Vanilla Cupcake Recipe

Wonderful in their simplicity, cupcakes are a timeless classic and quintessentially British. While they are perfect for beginners they also make great practice for the more advanced bakers among you. What’s great about them, is that they hardly take any time at all to make and are perfect for birthdays, hen parties or just a rainy day in. Luckily, with this vanilla cupcake recipe there couldn’t be a simpler way to appease your sweet tooth.

The ingredients in this recipe will make 3 cupcakes.

Puces_Pop_Cupcakes-_Spring_2010_Edition_(4683483652)

Ingredients

50g self-raising flour

50g caster sugar

50g butter

1 egg

1-2 tbsp milk

A pinch of baking soda

Tip: weigh the egg(s) in the shell and use the same weight for each of the flour, sugar and butter.

Method

First, preheat the oven to 180°C (Electric oven | Electric fan oven 160°C | Gas Mark 4) and place paper cupcake cases into a muffin tin.

Using an electric whisk, food processor or a wooden spoon, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in the egg, beating it well.  Next, gently fold in the flour. If the mixture is looking a little thick you can loosen it out with a splash of milk. Add a pinch of baking soda at this stage if you want your cakes to rise lightly.

Place the tin in the oven and leave for 20-30 minutes. After 20 minutes, check to see if the cupcakes are ready. To do this, simply insert a cocktail stick into one of the cupcakes – if it comes out dry cupcakes are done otherwise pop the cakes back in the oven for few more minutes.

Lift the cupcakes out of the muffin tin and leave to cool on a wire rack for a short while.

If you gave this recipe a go and liked it, why not also try our Lemon and Poppy Seed Cupcake recipe?

[Image provided by Clever Cupcake ]