Thursday, 24 November 2016

Sparkly Orange Chocolate Truffle Baubles

White Chocolate Baubles filled with Cointreau milk chocolate ganache. No ribbons. Half gold, half glittery pink.

White Chocolate Baubles filled with Cointreau milk chocolate ganache. Half glittery pink, half gold.

It's not even December yet but I couldn't wait to start making some Christmassy treats. I was really interested in making different Christmas decorations, and so thought of ways to make glittery Christmas baubles.

Spheres of white chocolate filled with a cointreau milk chocolate truffle filling. YUM. These have a lovely delicate orange flavour, and for children (or if you don't fancy using the alcohol), freshly squeezed orange juice would work really well too.

These really weren't as difficult to make as I thought they'd be. I used a cake pop mould to generate the spheres of chocolate. If you don't own one, don't worry. You can dip balls of the truffle filling in melted white chocolate - it's a little messier (great fun for children though!), and still works well.

There are loads of easy variations for the filling. Using your favourite liqueur, for example a coffee liqueur like Kahlua, would make a delectable after dinner treat. For something more child friendly, peppermint essence (around a teaspoon for the amount made here) could be added, or even dessicated coconut, nuts or dried fruit for an extra dimension of flavour.

Pink cake pop mould - makes 20 cake pops
I used a cake pop mould very similar to this one

Set of 8 Wilton Concentrated Gel Food Colourings
I purchased these Wilton concentrated gel food colourings from Lakeland (also available on Amazon)

Dr Oetker Gold Shimmer Spray
Dr Oetker Gold Shimmer spray

Makes 10 baubles


  • 200g (7 oz, 1 cup) white chocolate
  • 200g (7 oz, 1 cup) milk chocolate 
  • 100ml (7 tbsp) double cream
  • 40-60ml (3 - 4 tbsp) cointreau (or fresh orange juice), to taste
  • Concentrate red food gel colouring (for the red/pink baubles)
  • Edible pink glitter
  • Around 3 tbsp vodka or rum
  • Edible gold spray


1. Make the truffle mixture. Chop the milk chocolate finely and place in a bowl. In a small saucepan heat the double cream until you can see small bubbles forming and the cream is beginning to simmer - this will only take a few minutes.

2. Pour the cream over the chopped milk chocolate and stir until all of the chocolate has melted.

3. Add 40ml of the cointreau/orange juice and stir in. Taste the mixture - if you'd like more of a cointreau/orange kick add another 20ml.

4. Place in the fridge to firm up for 30 minutes if using cake pop moulds, and 2 hours if not.

5. Break the white chocolate into chunks and melt on full power in a microwave for 15 second bursts, stirring well after each burst.

6. Once all of the chocolate has melted, separate into two bowls. Dip a toothpick or end of a spoon into the red food colouring gel, and use this to colour one of the bowls of white chocolate a pink/red colour.

7. If using cake pop moulds:

Take a tablespoon of the pink/red chocolate and set aside (this will be used to cover the seal between the two halves). Place teaspoonfuls of the pink/red white chocolate into 10 mould halves, and use the back of the teaspoon to spread the chocolate up each side. Place in the fridge to set for 10-15 minutes

Take a tablespoon of the white chocolate (that hasn't been coloured) and set aside. Place teaspoons of this chocolate into 10 more halves, using the back of the teaspoon again to evenly spread the white chocolate up the side of each mould. Place in the fridge to set. Place in the fridge to set for 10-15 minutes.

Remove the moulds from the fridge, and add teaspoons of the truffle mixture into each white chocolate half, try to reach the top of each mould.

Stick two halves of the baubles together - the chocolate truffle mixture acts as glue. To make baubles, place each end of the ribbon in the truffle mixture of one half, then stick on the other half (effectively sandwiching the ribbon between the two halves).

Re-melt the reserved pink/red and white chocolate, and use the back of the spoon (or a finger) to cover the seal between the two halves. Place in the fridge to set.

8. If you aren't using a cake pop mould:

Once the truffle mixture is firm to the touch, remove from the fridge and roll tablespoons of the mixture into a ball shape (roughly the size of a golf ball).

Place on a tray, and if you want Christmas tree decorations, press both ends of the ribbon into the truffle mixture, making sure they are well embedded in chocolate. Chill for 10 minutes to firm up.

Dip each truffle into the white chocolate or the pink/red chocolate. The cleanest way to do this is to place a truffle on a spoon, dip it fully in the chocolate, then transfer it to a tray. The messy (and more fun way) involves getting your fingers covered in chocolate by dipping the truffles into the chocolate by hand. Either way, dip them, then place in the fridge to set (around 15 minutes).

9. Decorate the baubles:

For the gold baubles. Spray each bauble with the gold glitter spray.

For the pink/red baubles. Place a few teaspoons of the pink edible glitter in a small bowl and add the vodka or rum. Stir to evenly disperse the glitter, then use a paintbrush or small pastry brush to brush the glitter onto each pink/red bauble. Leave to dry (the alcohol will evaporate off quickly leaving lovely glittery baubles).

10. Enjoy!!


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Friday, 18 November 2016

Manchester Christmas Markets 2016

Manchester Christmas Markets

This post is a little different from me, as it contains no recipes! However after going to the Manchester Christmas markets today, I couldn’t stop raving about it, so thought I’d let everyone know how great it was.

To start, the weather was horrible…a whole lot of rain and icy wind, the day didn’t start off great. From Manchester Piccadilly we walked down towards the Market, and soon saw the wooden shacks representing the Christmas market. The first stall of note I came across was selling beautiful pieces of jewellery, made from miniature flowers! The roses were my favourite, and it was hard to walk away from the stall. 

We passed many fudge and chocolate stalls – one stall was selling Christmas cake fudge, which sounded crazy! To the look of it, it was fruity fudge topped with marzipan. We weren’t feeling like fudge though, so we moved on.

After grabbing a coffee to warm us up, we continued down the street and saw a wide variety of wooden ornaments and plaques, great gift ideas for children. If you didn’t know, I adore anything penguin-related so was on a hunt for the best penguin item I could find. The first option were some adorable garden ornaments, made up of brown stick-like things, which were shaped into a penguin. Very cute, but I don’t have a garden so it wasn’t really suitable. On the same stall however they had the most amazing birdhouses that looked like castles and big houses. They were very cool.

We moved on to find some hot food. The Christmas markets originated in Germany, so it wasn’t surprising that there were many Bratwurst stands. Last year we tried a bratwurst with cheese in the middle – good but the cheese is so hot you can’t taste anything after eating it. This time we went for a standard Bratwurst, perfectly cooked with caramelized onions and mustard. Delicious.

In case you weren't sure what a hotdog looked like...(from Google)

We got around to Exchange Square, where we saw our first mulled wine stall. We both still had a lot of coffee left so avoided the stall for now, but had a spy on the flavours on offer. They included strawberry and amaretto, raspberry liqueur, passionfruit and Cointreau and an apricot and brandy. All spiced with cinnamon and other festive spices.

We then moved on to what would be my favourite stalls of the day. First was a cheese stall, run by the Saddlesworth Cheese Co. Two years ago, my boyfriend and I went to the markets for the first time and came across this stall. They had a cheese called Smelly Ha’peth, a creamy yet full-flavoured blue cheese. We fell in love, and the next year bought a large slab of it. This year we went even further and to my slight surprise, my boyfriend bought half a wheel of it. The cheese can be frozen, which is good as we ended up with over a kilogram of it, and the quality is amazing. If you go to the markets, I’d highly recommend their cheeses. If you’re not a fan of blue cheese, they make and sell other artisan cheeses that are sublime also. Their website is here if you’re interested.

Smelly ha'peth blue cheese
Smelly ha'peth (from the Saddlesworth Co website)

My favourite stall was the next one along. It was all about alpaca fur, from hats and scarves, to rugs with panda designs on, and soft toys. I’ve never felt alpaca fur before, and oh my, it was like touching clouds. To my absolute delight they had made penguins out of the fur! Unbelievably cute and fluffy – I wanted to buy them all!

I was now rather hyper after my penguin delight, and we went to get mulled wine. We went for a large raspberry liqueur mulled wine, and got our 2016 markets mug! It was delicious as expected, and not as sweet as the strawberry and amaretto one we’d tried the year before. So now I was hyper and pretty tipsy as we continued our trip around the market.

2016 large Christmas mug
2016 large Christmas mug

As we continued our wanderings, we went to a stall selling Schokokuss, German chocolate kisses. The base is biscuit/waffle, and they are filled with a mousse like substance flavoured with all different things – chocolate orange, mint being key examples. They’re covered with a dark chocolate. We went for a bailey’s Schokokuss, and if you like Baileys, you will adore these! They’re not too strong (less strong than Baileys chocolates that can be bought in supermarkets nowadays), but have a lovely Baileys twang. So good, and I would love to work out how to make them.

Schokokuss (image from Google)

We love our sweets, especially ones I struggle to make. We came to an Italian stall, selling cannoli and amoretti biscuits, and a pastry known as sfogliatelle. No, we can’t pronounce it either, and always get weird looks when we try to… These are layers of super crispy pastry, forming a triangle shell with a sweetened ricotta filling. I’ve tried to make them once, and it was a bad day in the kitchen…the pastry has to be rolled out so thin (like filo), and then after rolling the pastry, they have to be filled and sealed, then baked. Somehow the filling doesn’t leak out! It’s something I am determined to work out how to do, and if anyone has any tips, they’d be greatly appreciated.

Sfogliatelle - Italian crispy pastries filled with sweetened ricotta
Sfogliatelle (image from Google)

We wandered the rest of the stalls, and saw some other cool items, one being a cushion with a cute cactus saying how no one would hug it. There was also an amazing stall selling scented coffee beans, which they sold whole or ground! We had a whiff of loads of them, some examples being blueberry muffin, fudge and baileys. Our favourite by far though were the chocolate orange beans – they had such a beautiful aroma of coffee and Terry’s chocolate orange. I bought 100g of the ground beans, and can’t wait to try them!

We ended up in a large square (my Manchester geography is terrible), where there was a huge inflatable Santa on a building. There was also a very impressive assembled two-story beer house, with a reindeer head poking from the second floor. It even sang Christmas songs! In this square we ate lots of freebies including delicious Serrano ham, and other cheeses. The best stall in this section for me was a lovely stall selling all kinds of amber jewelry, which were just so pretty and well priced! From rings to earrings and necklaces, they had so much variety – these would make a gorgeous gift for a loved one!

Inflatable Santa Christmas Markets
Santa's here!
Singing reindeer at the Manchester markets
This reindeer sings!

Our wanderings were over and we returned to Manchester Piccadilly, full of happiness and satisfaction. We travelled to the markets midday on a Friday, and spent about 3 hours walking around.  We both took a day off work, as we wanted to be relaxed whilst walking around. If you do go, try to avoid evenings and weekend afternoons, unless you don’t mind being surrounded by people. Nevertheless it will be a great day out, and I highly recommend it to everyone!
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Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake

Pumpkin pecan cheesecake slice

It's coming up to Halloween, and I decided to fuse two American classics of pumpkin and pecan pie - except I fused them into a cheesecake. The creamy pumpkin, spiced with cinnamon and ginger, worked really well with the pecan nuttiness, and I think it'd be great as a thanksgiving dessert.
This recipe makes one 18cm cheesecake, but if you double up the ingredients, it will fill a 23cm tin.

* I make my own pumpkin puree as it's really easy, and has no added nasties in it. To make your own, preheat your oven to 180c (160c fan)/ 355f/ gas mark 4.
Peel and chop the quantity of pumpkin (or butternut squash) you need into bite size chunks.
Drizzle with oil and place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a knife easily passes through the pumpkin.
Leave the pumpkin to cool, then blend until smooth.
Store the puree in the fridge until needed :)


For the base:

  • 100g oaty biscuits (ginger biscuits would also work well)
  • 40g butter, melted
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

For the filling:

  • 240g (1 cup) soft cheese
  • 100g (1/2 cup) light soft brown sugar 
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g (1/2 cup) pumpkin puree*
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 50g chopped pecans
  • 1 tbsp treacle 


1. Preheat the oven to 165c (150c fan)/325f/gas mark 3. Grease the base of a 18cm loose bottomed cake tin.

2. Crush the biscuits using a rolling pin (or in a food processor) until no large pieces of biscuit remain. Pour in the melted butter and cinnamon, and stir until well combined.

3. Press the biscuit mixture into the prepared cake tin. Use the back of a spoon to make sure the biscuits are stuck down well.

4. Prepare the filling by whisking the soft cheese with the brown sugar and vanilla. Keep whisking until all of the brown sugar has dissolved (and no clumps remain).

5. Add the eggs, one at a time, and whisk until smooth. Divide the mixture evenly between two bowls.

6. To the first bowl add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon and ginger. Beat until smooth.

7. To the second bowl add the chopped pecans and treacle. Beat until smooth.

8. Pour the pecan mixture into the cake tin. Slowly add the pumpkin mixture and gently marble in. The two will mix, but you should end up with a nice pattern on top of the cheesecake.

9. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until when it is lightly moved, only the very centre of the cheesecake wobbles. Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then lightly go around the sides of the tin with a knife. This will help prevent cracking. Leave to cool completely then place in the fridge for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

10. Enjoy!!

Mummy Mishaps
Casa Costello

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Sunday, 13 November 2016

Pumpkin and Bacon Soup

Pumpkin Bacon Soup bowl

If you have leftover pumpkins, I have the perfect recipe for you! The sweetness of the pumpkin goes brilliantly with the bacon to make a beautifully smooth and warming soup. It takes less than an hour to prepare, and would be brilliant as a starter for thanksgiving :)

Serves 4


  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 150g (2/3 cup) bacon (whichever is your favourite, smoked is particularly lovely), chopped into bitesize pieces
  • 500g (2 cups) pumpkin or squash flesh, chopped into small chunks
  • 1 litre (4 cups) chicken stock
  • 100ml (3/8 cup) reduced fat creme fraiche
  • 3 tbsp pumpkin seeds


1. Heat the oil in a frying pan. On a low-medium heat add the onions and a splash of water - this prevents the onions burning without adding unnecessary oil. Cook until the onions have softened, adding splashes of water when the pan looks dry. This will take about 10 minutes.

2. Add half of the bacon to the pan and fry for 5 minutes, or until the bacon has released its fat. Transfer the bacon and onions to a large saucepan and add the pumpkin and stock to the pan. Season then bring to the boil.

3. Cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes, until the a knife passes easily though the pumpkin. 

4. Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then stir in the creme fraiche.

5. Blend the soup until smooth (I used a nutribullet). 

6. Fry the remaining bacon and the pumpkin seeds in a frying pan for 5 minutes. Scatter over the soup when serving.

7. Enjoy!!

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Friday, 11 November 2016

"Box of Chocolates" - Chocolate Orange and Coconut Cake

Chocolate Orange Coconut Box of Chocolates Cake

For my mum's birthday I decided to try to make a chocolate cake that looked like a box of chocolates. A difficult task for me as cake decorating is not my strong suit.
I used two different chocolate cake recipes, both of which ended up delicious. Half was made with rapeseed oil, the other half with coconut oil. The coconut oil gave the cake a lovely coconut twang, and I added orange zest to the cake for a lovely orangey note. I filled the layers with a chocolate buttercream and orange curd, and covered the cake in chocolate ganache. I used fondant to cover the cake and made my own chocolate truffles to fill the box.

Although not perfect, I was really happy with the results of the cake. It tasted fantastic and I'd recommend anyone to give it a go.

Makes one 22cm cake


For the chocolate orange cake:

  • 150ml rapeseed or other vegetable oil
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 280g light soft brown sugar
  • 200ml buttermilk (or yoghurt)
  • 100ml espresso coffee (or strong instant coffee)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • Zest of one orange

For the chocolate coconut cake:

  • 275g self raising flour
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 65g light soft brown sugar
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 225ml coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
  • 225ml yoghurt
  • 3 eggs

For the buttercream:

  • 150g butter, softened
  • 275g icing sugar
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 1-2 tbsp orange juice

For the orange curd:

  • 60ml (4 tbsp) freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1 medium orange)
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 50g butter

For the chocolate ganache:

  • 170ml double cream
  • 300g dark chocolate (at least 55% cocoa solids)

For the chocolates:

  • 150g white chocolate
  • Granite block (for tempering)

To finish:

  • 750g fondant icing block
  • Pink food colouring
  • Royal blue food colouring
  • Edible glue (or water)


1. Preheat the oven to 180c (160c fan)/ 355f/ gas mark 4. Grease and line the base of a 22cm square cake tin with baking parchment.

2. Make the chocolate orange cake. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a large mixing bowl. Add the light soft brown sugar and orange zest, and using your hands break the sugar up so that no lumps of sugar remain. 

3. In a jug whisk together the oil, buttermilk (or yoghurt), coffee, vanilla extract and eggs. Pour into the dry ingredients, and whisk until well combined.

4. Pour the cake mixture into the tin and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the sides of the cake begin to come away from the tin, and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake come out clean. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool fully.

5. Make the chocolate coconut cake. Grease and line the base of a 22cm square cake tin with baking parchment.

6. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, caster sugar, brown sugar and ground almonds in a large mixing bowl, and stir to combine.

7. To the bowl add the eggs, yoghurt and melted coconut oil, and whisk until the cake mixture is smooth.

8. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 25-30 minutes until the cake is well risen and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave the cake in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

9. Make the orange curd. Find a glass bowl that will comfortably fit on top of a saucepan (without touching the base of the pan). To this bowl add the orange and lemon juice, caster sugar and eggs and whisk together.

10. Cube the butter and add to the bowl. Place the bowl on a pan half-filled with simmering water. Make sure that the base of the bowl doesn't touch the water. Keep the pan on a low to medium heat, and whisk the curd constantly until it has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, and if you draw your finger across the spoon an imprint is left. This will take about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool and thicken.

11. Make the buttercream. Beat the butter until really soft, then sift in half of the icing sugar. Beat with a wooden spoon until the icing sugar has been incorporated into the butter. Add the other half of the icing sugar, cocoa powder and orange juice. Beat until smooth and the buttercream is easy to spread. If too thick add a little more orange juice, and if too thin add more icing sugar. 

12. Split each cake horizontally into two even slices. Three layers will be used to make the "box" of the cake, and one for the "lid".

13. Split the orange curd into two bowls - one will be used for the cake, the other half for the chocolates.

14. Take one of the layers of the coconut chocolate cake and place on a board that can easily be transported to and from the fridge (for example a flat baking tray). Place a tablespoon of curd on the cake layer, and spread over the cake. Top with a quarter of the butter cream, and spread over the top and sides of the cake layer.

15. Place a layer of the orange chocolate cake on the first layer of cake. Add a tablespoon of curd, and the next quarter of buttercream to the top of the cake, and smooth over the top and sides of this layer.

16. Place the other layer of coconut chocolate cake on top of the cake, and cover with a tablespoon of curd and the next quarter of buttercream. Smooth evenly over the top and sides of the layer, and place the cake in the fridge for 10-15 minutes, until the buttercream is no longer sticky to the touch.

17. To the final layer of orange chocolate cake, cover evenly with the remaining chocolate buttercream. Place in the fridge for 10-15 minutes, until the buttercream is no longer sticky to the touch.

18. Make the chocolate ganache. In a saucepan heat the cream until the cream is starting to bubble. Meanwhile, chop the dark chocolate finely and add to a heat-proof bowl. Once hot, pour the cream onto the chocolate, and stir until all of the chocolate has melted and the ganache is shiny. Set aside a quarter of the ganache - this will be used for the chocolates. Leave for 10-20 minutes until it is thick enough to be spreadable.

19. Take the cakes out of the fridge, and cover the top and sides of the "box" and lid" with the chocolate ganache. Try to be as neat as possible at this stage, and get the sides and top of the box as smooth as possible. I find a palette knife works best for this. Place the cakes back in the fridge for 20 minutes, for the ganache to firm up.

20. Prepare the fondant. Take 150g of the fondant and colour it a light pink - this will be used for the ribbons. Colour the remaining fondant a light blue.

21. Roll the blue fondant out - I find this is easiest to do by dusting a silicon mat with icing sugar, and using a plastic rolling pin. You can use a wooden pin but I find fondant is far more likely to stick to wood than plastic. Roll the fondant until it is about 1/2cm thick. Cut out two squares with sides 22cm long. This will be for the top of the "box" and "lid".

22. Measure the height of the cakes. When I made the cakes, the box was 8cm tall, and the lid 2cm. Cut out four rectangles from the fondant for the "box". These will be 22cm in length, and add a centimeter to the height of the box (for example for my cake the strips were 2cm x 22cm). 

23. Cut out strips for the lid sides. These will be around 22cm x 2cm, depending on the thickness of your lid layer.

24. Place the pieces in the fridge to firm up for about 10 minutes.

25. Place a 22x22cm fondant piece on the top of the "box", and smooth over as best as you can. Add the 22x9cm rectangles of fondant to the sides of the box, and smooth around. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes to firm up.

26. Cover the lid with the other 22 x 9cm rectangle of fondant, and the sides with the 2x22cm rectangles). Place in the fridge for 15 minutes to firm up.

27. Roll out the pink fondant until it is around 1/2cm thick. Cut out two strips, 1cm x 26cm. Cut out two rectangles 4cm x 12cm and fold at the centre to turn into two ribbons. Cut two strips 1cm x 7cm, and to one end cut out a triangle (to look like a ribbon). Use half of the remaining pink fondant to make a small oval (about 3cm x 4cm), and the last of the pink fondant to cut out M U M letters.

28. Use edible glue or water to place the 1x26cm rectangles along the centre of the lid, so that they cross in the centre. Place the ribbons on the middle of the cake so that they point outwards into the top two quarters of the cake. Place the two 1x7cm strips on the bottom two quarters of the cake. Place the pink fondant oval over the middle of the cake.

29. Make the chocolates. Melt 100g of the white chocolate in a microwave on high power, mixing the chocolate every 15 seconds until the chocolate has melted.

30. Pour the chocolate onto a granite block, and use a palette knife to spread the chocolate out to an edge of the block. Then bring the chocolate back into the centre of the block. Keep doing this until the chocolate has thickened.

31. Pour the white chocolate back into a bowl, and quickly use a teaspoon to add small amounts of white chocolate to each of the sweet moulds. Spread up the sides of the mould with the spoon - if the chocolate begins to thicken too much, place VERY BRIEFLY into the microwave (at most 10 seconds). Set aside to set - if you have tempered the chocolate well this will only take a few minutes.

32. To each chocolate mould add half a teaspoon of curd, then top with half a teaspoon of ganache - if it has set too firm, heat in a microwave for 10-15 seconds. 

33. Melt the remaining 50g white chocolate in a microwave on high power, mixing every 10-15 seconds, until the chocolate has melted. Pour onto the granite block, and repeat the spreading and bring back of the chocolate until it has thickened.

34. Pour the chocolate into a bowl, and spread over the top of each chocolate. Set aside to set.

35. Take the "box" cake out of the fridge, and if you like add further details to the cake, for example trimming around the base of the cake (made with 1x22cm strips of blue fondant). Stick the M U M fondant letters to one side of the cake.

36. Add a few drops to about a tablespoon of fondant, and mix until it is sticky. Place small blobs of fondant on the base of each chocolate, and stick to the top of the "box". 

37. Place the lid of the cake on the box.

38. Enjoy!!

Chocolate Orange Coconut Box of Chocolates Cake

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