Chocolate Cake with Strawberries and Cream (and chocolate ganache)

Two weeks ago, it was my boyfriend’s birthday, so of course I had to bake him a cake – it’s what I do! It was also my first time baking in the new kitchen, which has lots more space and has a dishwasher (I’m still not over this – I love it so much). Naturally, I always love baking. But it’s so much more fun when I actually have the space to do it! I predict loads more recipes in the near future…

Back to Willem’s birthday cake, though! He asked for something with chocolate and red fruit, and that’s what he got. I got out my chocolate bible (it’s actually called that) and eventually came across the perfect recipe. A two-layer chocolate cake filled with strawberry jam, whipped cream and strawberries. Yum!

I made a few adjustments to the cake recipe itself and, to make it even more chocolatey, decided to cover the entire thing in chocolate ganache and add some more fruit on top. The result was delicious. The cake is lovely and light, the strawberries and cream filling is the perfect combination of sweet and fresh and the dark chocolate ganache adds that extra chocolatey kick.

And what’s even better: this cake isn’t difficult to make at all! Because it has three different components the recipe might seem long and it will take a little bit of time. But, really, the three components are all very easy to whip up. It’s the perfect birthday cake!

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What I’ve Been Up To [5]

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Since it’s been a little quiet around here and I’ve had quite a lot going on in my life, I figured it was high time for another “What I’ve Been Up To” post! This will also be my sign-up post for Bout of Books 23, a readathon that’s happening next week. If you’re interested in that, keep reading until the end of the post.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve basically been living towards one event that happened two weeks ago: I moved house! And not just that; my boyfriend and I moved in together. It has basically taken up most of my free time over the past month as well as most of my brain since, like, May.

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Why How To Be a Heroine by Samantha Ellis Is the Perfect Book for Female Bookworms

While debating literature’s greatest heroines with her best friend, thirtysomething playwright Samantha Ellis has a revelation—her whole life, she’s been trying to be Cathy Earnshaw of Wuthering Heights when she should have been trying to be Jane Eyre.

With this discovery, she embarks on a retrospective look at the literary ladies—the characters and the writers—whom she has loved since childhood. From early obsessions with the March sisters to her later idolization of Sylvia Plath, Ellis evaluates how her heroines stack up today. And, just as she excavates the stories of her favorite characters, Ellis also shares a frank, often humorous account of her own life growing up in a tight-knit Iraqi Jewish community in London. Here a life-long reader explores how heroines shape all our lives.

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Fresh Nectarine Muffins

I made these muffins a while ago already, when I suddently felt the urge to give my basic muffin recipe an update because I wasn’t entirely happy with it. Given the fact that I still had some nectarines leftover, the choice for this muffin flavour combo was easily made. Add a little bit of lemon zest and some cinnamon for a deeper flavour, and you’ve got yourself a nice and fresh fruit-based muffin, perfect for summer.

As for the changes I made to the recipe: I added milk to the recipe, which is very common in muffin recipes anyway, but I decided to leave it out of mine way back when because I never had milk in my fridge (solid reason, I’d say). It does give your muffins this extra bit of moisture and a more silky texture, which sounds like something every muffin needs, right?

It’s been a bit silent on here for the last month. In fact, this is my first post all month, and it’s the first of July tomorrow. Oops. At the start of the year I told you guys I was going to take it easy with all of my hobbies and just do things when I felt like doing them, and that’s exactly what has happened this month. I was quite busy and stressed what with a holiday and an upcoming move, so there just wasn’t any room in my head for blogging. The holiday has come and gone now, but we’re moving in August, so we’ll see how much I get around to blogging until then! Always a surprise…

For now, let’s get to the recipe, shall we? These muffins are very easy to make and they’re the perfect sweet snack on a nice summer day!

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Love, Simon vs the Book (spoiler: the film wins)

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Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is one of those books that everybody seems to love. Some people adore it with a passion; others simply like it, but I haven’t seen anyone say “it’s crap, I don’t get why everbody loves this so much”, which is what does happen with most hyped books. I think that’s because even if you didn’t fully connect with the story, you can still see how sweet and warm it was and how it could mean a lot to other people. This book is kind of like a puppy, I guess.  It’s adorable and you just really don’t want to see anything bad happening to it. Is that a good analogy? We’ll just go with it.

I read the book in the summer of 2017 and I really liked it (you can read my full review here). I wasn’t completely blown away by it and there were some aspects that I didn’t think were great per se, but overall I thought Simon was absolutely lovely. It warmed my heart and gave me fuzzy feelings. Kind of like a puppy (see, the analogy is perfect).

So, when it was announced that this book was going to be made into a film, I was overjoyed. Film adaptations have a long running history of being not that great, but I actually had high hopes for Love, Simon (I guess Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was too long a title). I got more and more excited when other bloggers came back super enthusiastic from early screenings and articles started to pop up about Love, Simobeing a lovely but also groundbreaking film. Last week, I got to see the film myself and I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest.

In fact, I liked the film more than I liked the book.

*gasp* I know! A bookworm who likes the film better than the book?! Hell must have frozen over! This is certainly a first for me (I think)! So, let me explain.

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Profiteroles (with a whipped cream filling)

Ages ago, my Mum asked me if I wanted to bake profiteroles with her some time. We’d both never baked them before and they seemed like a fun challenge. I also figured that, as a baker, it would be good to add choux pastry to my arsenal of baking skills. Of course, months then went by before we actually got around to doing it because that’s how it goes. But then, at Easter, we finally gave it a try and we were pretty succesful!

I always thought choux pastry was difficult to make because it involves cooking the pastry, but it really isn’t that hard. You have to pay attention to what you’re doing, sure, but as long as you’re doing that it’ll be fine. Our first batch didn’t turn out great, since I didn’t pipe the profiteroles properly (too flat), but the second batch (made from the same batch of pastry) turned out perfectly!

We went for the standard profiterole filling of whipped cream, although you could of course add other kinds of fillings as well, or dip them in chocolate at the end. “Profiteroles” is such a fancy name, by the way. In Dutch we call them soesjes (pronounced “sooshes”), which sounds way more fun to me! Too bad no one in the English speaking blogosphere will know what I’m talking about when I say “sooshes”. Oh, well. Profiteroles it is, then.

We had tons of fun baking these and I can’t wait to try some other recipes with choux pastry soon. Perhaps éclairs? We’ll see!

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What I Learned about the War from a Children’s Book: The Secret of the Blue Glass

In a dusty library, in the quietest corner of a house in a Tokyo suburb, live the Little People: Fern and Balbo, Robin and Iris. Just a few inches high, sleeping cigarette boxes and crafting shoes from old book jackets, they need only one thing from their Humans–a nightly glass of milk, served in a sparkling blue glass goblet, by a trusted young member of the Human family.

But when the Second World War come to Japan, both Humans and their beloved Little People face a world they could never before have imagined. It will take great love, bravery, and a rather loyal pigeon, to bring their unique families back together once more…

First published: 1959 (in Japanese); this translation/edition is from 2018 by Pushkin Press

**I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

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Reading Habits: How Many Books Do You Read At The Same Time?

One of the many things I love about being a part of the online reading community is how you get a peek into other people’s reading lives. Stripped down to its bare bones, reading is a pretty solitary hobby; you get yourself a book, you sit down (or lie down, or stand – whatever floats your boat) and you read that book. It’s just you and the characters, the story and the world of the book. It doesn’t feel lonely at all (this is something most readers will agree upon, I think), but it is something you do alone, most of the time.

And then you go online and talk about that book you’ve read with other people all over the world who also love to read. I love it! I’m very lucky to also have friends who love to read and love to talk about reading, but I’ve seen quite a lot of people within the community say how happy they are to finally be able to talk about books with other people who understand. I just think that’s wonderful.

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Easy Easter Recipe: Chocolate Egg Brownies

The other day I was just minding my own business when suddenly a brilliant idea struck me: Chocolate Easter egg brownies. That’s right.

I love brownies. They’re absolutely, mouthwateringly delicious on their own, but by adding just one or two ingredients you can spruce them up and make them even more special (take these Rolo and sea salt brownies, for example). Plus, they’re extremely easy to make – you can barely mess these up, I promise (I say barely, because a while back I managed to burn some chocolate when trying to melt it).

Although I know chocolate is a pretty big part of Easter in most countries, I’m also quite sure every country does their chocolate Easter eggs a little bit differently, although I might be wrong. In the Netherlands, we’ve got small chocolate eggs in dark, milk and white chocolate. They come as solid pieces of chocolates, but there are also a ton of varieties of filled chocolate eggs.

For these brownies I bought a bag of eggs that came in four different flavours: milk pecan caramel sea salt, milk hazelnut almond praline, dark almond coconut, and white pistache praline. Sounds delicious, right? Little bursts of flavour within an already delicious brownie. You could choose whatever your like for your own chocolate egg brownies, although I would recommend choosing filled eggs instead of solid ones. Hope you enjoy!

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Coconut Macaroons

I’m back! You might not have actually noticed that I was gone, but up until last week I hadn’t posted anything in over a month. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since one of my New Year’s resolutions was to take a bit of a chill pill and be more relaxed about my blogging (and reading, and Instagram, and my entire life, basically).

HOWEVER. I didn’t not blog because I didn’t want to, but because I had the flu for two weeks. I’ve never been sick for two whole weeks (I know – I’m lucky) and it sucked. I was bored out of my mind but didn’t have a shred of energy to do anything. I couldn’t even read for most of that time. It was that bad.

But I’m not here to moan! I’m here to celebrate that I’m back and I’m feeling good. And what better way to celebrate than with something yummy? Granted, I did bake these coconut macaroons for a different reason (my bestie’s housewarming), but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is that these macaroons were delicious.

And they’re super easy to make as well! You only really need three ingredients, although I added a pinch of salt as well, because that makes everything better (trust me on this). I was planning on adding a chocolate drizzle, but I didn’t feel like messing about with chocolate after I was done with the baking part, so I left them as they were, which was absolutely fine. They’re delicious just the way they are!

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