Thursday, February 17, 2011

Things I Like: #2 Smell

Sense of smell is a wonderful and complex thing. I wanted to write a short post on my favourite smells, but when I started writing it I remembered all sorts of fascinating facts about olfaction that I loved! Without smell, you wouldn’t be able to taste so many wonderful things. The tongue can detect 5 tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami), but it’s smell that gives food its flavour (along with other influences). Block your nose and eat a cube of raw potato and a cube of peeled apple and it’s very difficult to tell the difference between the two without your sense of smell! Artificial strawberry flavouring is a mixture of up to 60 different chemicals, which react together and are perceived to be ‘strawberry flavour’ to the brain.

The wonders of sense of smell doesn’t just end with food. A newborn baby uses its sense of smell to identify its mother. Smell is one of the most powerful ways to remember things. One sniff can unlock memories of your grandmother’s cooking or the perfume/aftershave your first love wore. Memories you had long forgotten but after that triggering smell, makes you feel like your back there living it all again first hand.

Speaking of love, want to seduce a man? Various articles I’ve read have suggested that smells such as vanilla, cinnamon and pumpkin pie are the best scents to use. Whether or not this is true, I’m not sure but it’s worth a try! Smell plays an important part in sexual attraction, with or without the use of perfumes and aftershaves. A person’s natural body odour is apparently a key factor when it comes to attraction. A study has also found that men rate the smell of women who are ovulating as more pleasant than women who are not ovulating. This study also found a higher level of testosterone produced in men who had smelled the t-shirts worn by women during ovulation and that this response links to a caveman response of knowing when a woman is fertile just by her smell.

Smell is also used in marketing. Shops use scents to draw you in, whether its a supermarket and the smell of freshly baked bread or high-end fashion houses subtly using their signature scents to help sell more. Not to forget the smell of freshly baked goods when trying sell a house!

There are many different disorders of olfaction. Cacosmia is when things smells like faeces. Phantosmia is when smells are hallucinated. Hyperosmia is a heightened sense of smell. And while some sound funny, sometimes they are far from it. Anosmia is the inability to smell, which probably has it’s uses (like not being able to smell the BO off the person next to you on public transport), but overall giving that you can not smell gas leaks, when food is spoiled and fires, the negatives certainly outweigh any benefits.

And now for the real reason I wrote this post! My favourite scents.

1. Vanilla. I just love it and I don’t have any particular reason why! I guess it’s because it’s so sweet and comforting but yet such a simple, down to earth scent. It reminds me of vanilla ice cream as a child and queen cakes and being on holiday at my Nana’s, where I first smelt The Body Shop Vanilla perfume.

2. Freshly cut grass. Smells like long summer days, lying in fields and the sun shining on my face. It’s so refreshing! I even have a grass scented shower gel from Lush.

3. Freshly baked goods. There’s nothing more pleasant when grocery shopping than the warm freshly baked bread smell. Makes my mouth drool even thinking of it. And of course, walking into the house that smells of freshly baked goods is the second best reason to walk into a house (the first being eating those goodies!). Cinnamon is a lovely warm smell.

4. Turf and petrol. Not one for every day really, but given that there’s a Facebook page dedicated to people who love the smell of petrol, it’s pretty popular!

5. Fruity smells. My favourite being raspberry, apple, orange, lime and lemon. Zingy citrus smells give me energy!

6. Old books. And new books. I just like the smell of books!

7. Jean Paul Gaultier ‘Le Male’. Sex in a bottle.

8. Honeysuckle. I used to love to pick these along the road when I was younger, they have such a sweet smell. And I like the scent of roses too, though only when it’s subtle and not too strong.

9. Coffee. Though again, nothing too strong, otherwise it’s overpowering.

10. The smell of the countryside after it’s been raining. Everything just smells so fresh and new again. And speaking of water, the salty smell of the ocean can be lovely too.

11. Fresh washed clothes. Need I say more?

12. Onions being fried. I'm sure there are loads more food related smells I love but this one comes to mind first. My mouth is watering thinking about it!

To finish this post off, a little fact on Smells like Teen Spirit. Kurt Cobain apparently wrote the title of the song after being told he smelt like teen spirit. He thought that it had a revolutionary meaning, but it was in fact about how he actually smelt, of his then-girlfriend’s deodorant, Teen Spirit!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday Treats: Chocolate Truffle Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream Icing



So I’ve been slacking on the Foodie Friday idea I had, no idea why really when I have so many food related posts to make! I wanted to bake something nice for Valentine’s Day and seeing as I had some leftover truffle mixture from the Irish Foodie Romance Cookalong sitting in the fridge (I don’t know how it lasted that long in there either!), I decided to whip up a quick batch of cupcakes!

Chocolate Truffle Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream Icing

Makes 12 large buns


150g Butter

150g Caster Sugar

175g Self Raising Flour

50g Cocoa powder

3 eggs, beaten

Vanilla Essence

About 2-3 tablespoons melted chocolate truffle mixture (or just melted dark chocolate instead)

75g Butter

150g icing sugar

50g white chocolate


1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Cream the butter and the sugar together until fluffy.

2. Add in half egg mixture and half the flour and cocoa powder and beat.

3. Add remaining egg mixture and vanilla essence and beat.

4. Fold in remaining flour mixture. Once it is fully folded in, fold in some of the melted truffle mixture.

5. Spoon into liner and bake for 10-15 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean (length of time to bake will depend on how big you make the cupcakes). Leave to cool fully before icing.

6. To make the icing, melt the white chocolate either in the microwave or in a bowl over a pan of boiling water. Take off heat and let cool.

7. Cream the butter and icing sugar together. Once smooth, add the white chocolate and mix to incorporate. Icing the buns, either by icing a piper or just spreading on with a spoon.

When icing my cupcakes, I used a piping bag and used a small star tip to make the icing look like whipped cream. I added some strawberries for a romantic touch!


Shot to show the lovely liners I got off Deb from Ate by Ate last year for Valentine’s Day. My picture doesn’t do justice to the prettiness of them!


Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day to you! Whether you’re a lover or a hater of the day, single or loved up, show someone close to you that you love them. And then try and do it every day! After all, every day should be Valentine’s Day!
And here’s one of my favourite loved up pictures. It’s all about the cute animal pictures these days!
What are your plans for today? Mine is a nice bubble bath and probably the Leader’s Debate for the General Election. Yep, how romantic!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

30 Day Music Meme: Day Thirty

Day 30- Your favourite song from this time last year

Hurrah, it’s the last day! I wish I could have finished this at the end of November, I was going to tie in this post with Christmas and post my favourite Christmas song. Instead I have to wrack my brains and remember what song I liked this time last year!

I know I liked Bad Romance by Lady Gaga but there’s one other song that stands out more. And funnily enough, it’s an 80s one! Freedom 90 by George Michael was one I was partial to listening to around this year last year. I used to sit in college, listen to the song on YouTube and do research for my final year project. And pressed repeat loads. I swear I’m responsible for about 1000 plays on that YouTube video alone! Probably drove the people sitting next to me nuts by pressing repeat, sorry if that was you!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Romance Cookalong Challenge


I wouldn’t categorize myself as a food blogger. I post about food and recipes at times, but I don’t feel like I’m a fully fledged food blogger, unlike some of the lovely ladies on my blogroll. I also follow a lot these bloggers on Twitter and would see them doing a cookalong the first Friday of every month and was curious about this. When I looked into it, I discovered they were Irish Foodies Cookalongs and after a while of thinking I decided that while I don’t think of myself as a food blogger, I do think of myself as an Irish Foodie of sorts and decided I’d give it a go! So I hope others don’t mind me joining considering the above. If there is a problem, just let me know and I won’t participate in future cookalongs. I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes!

It was just my luck February was the first cookalong I joined, the theme being Food for Romance. And nothing says romance more to me than chocolate! I thought it would be a great chance for me to bust out my heart shaped chocolate mould and to also try a brand new recipe, Nigella’s Instant Chocolate Mousse.

Dark Chocolate Truffles coated in White Chocolate


225g good quality dark chocolate

120ml cream

2 tablespoons butter

About 100g White chocolate to coat, more might be needed

1. If using a mould, melt some white chocolate and brush along the bottom and sides to create the shell for the truffle to be added too. Using a clean paint brush would be best, I however forgot and used a pastry brush! Place in fridge to firm.


2. While the white chocolate is firming in fridge, bring the cream and butter to the boil over medium heat in a saucepan. Take off heat and pour over chocolate in a bowl (though I added to saucepan instead). Whisk to melt chocolate until completely smooth. If chocolate doesn’t melt completely, microwave for 20 seconds or heat gently over a pan of boiling water until smooth. If desired, liqueur or other flavourings like orange can be added at this step.


3. Remove mould from fridge and spoon in some truffle mixture, leaving room on top for final coating of white chocolate. Set in fridge again to firm.

4. Once truffle mixture has hardened, melt some more white chocolate and spoon over the top of the mould to complete the shell. Place in fridge to harden.


5. Once chocolate is set on top, pop out of moulds and enjoy! (I had trouble getting the first one out, so I placed in freezer for 3 minutes and they were then easier to remove).

If you are not using a mould, then make truffles as in step 2 and place the mixture in fridge to firm. Once firm, remove and use a spoon or melon baller to scoop out truffle mixture and roll into round balls (warning, very messy!). These truffle balls can be then rolled in different coatings (chopped nuts, grated chocolate, cocoa powder) or dipped into melted chocolate and left to harden.



Cheat’s Chocolate Orange Mousse

Adapted from Instant Chocolate Mousse from Nigella Express


150g mini marshmallows

50g soft butter

250g good quality dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces (though Nigella uses chocolate buttons)

60ml of hot water from a recently boiled kettle

1x 284ml tub double cream

1tsp Vanilla Extract

1 tsp orange extract (optional)

Chocolate shavings or shapes for decoration or some grated orange zest (optional)

1. In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, place marshmallows, butter, chocolate and water. Place over a gentle heat and allow to melt, stirring every now and again. Remove from heat once melted.

2. Meanwhile, whip the cream in a bowl along with the vanilla and orange extract until thick. Fold the cooling chocolate mixture carefully into the cream until it is smooth and consistent.

3. Pour or scrape into glasses or ramekins or whatever you would like to serve it in. Place into fridge to chill.

Now, I would like to add a few notes of my own in here. I didn’t have the right amount of dark chocolate so I chucked in some milk chocolate.

I think I also put in a bit too much water, I didn’t measure properly.

I also used a 227ml tub of cream, thus omitting 50mls or so. This made a huge different, because when I added the chocolate mixture, the cream melted and disappeared, instead of forming the mixture Nigella had promised! I panicked and so I decided to add some air to the mixture using my hand mixer and whisked for maybe 5 minutes. It was still rather liquidy, however I added them to the glasses and placed in the fridge. They took forever to set (ok,maybe 2 hours, felt like forever though!). This resulted in a rich mousse texture, it wasn’t light and full of bubbles but it was definitely moussey and very decadent!

The remaining mixture I placed into a plastic Chinese takeaway container and placed into the freezer, stirring every now and again until it set. This gave me a rich mousse like ice cream which was very nice I must say! I felt like the Kitchen MacGyver or something after it!


Truffles in a heart shape around chocolate mousses!


Colour gradient, I think because of milk chocolate added, nice effect I think!


Position of truffles on mousse reminds me nipple tassels or something!


Not too bubbly but still very nice!


In inside of my beautiful truffle! Drool

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...