The nights are drawing in. Berries are abundant on the trees. Many of the fields been have been turned over from golden to brown. Yes, those unmistakable signs of Autumn are creeping up on us again.
And we all know that’s the doorstep to the darker, colder months.
But there are still reasons to be cheerful as the sunlight wears thin.
And, as you’d expect from us, we think many of these revolve around chocolate!
So, we thought we’d take a little time to cheer you up with a few ideas for taste indulgences and fun activities to help pep up your mood despite the change in seasons.
Here are our five suggestions to help you beat the ‘back-end blues’.
#1 – Spice it up
We all love summer but the warmer weather favours lighter, fruity tastes and, by now, many of us are ready for a change. Autumn, with its cooler temperatures and change of tempo, gives us license to bring out the bolder flavours once again. Spices like cinnamon and cloves make a great addition to everything from coffees to baking, and create a real sense of warmth and delicious indulgence to cheer us up no end.
Blend this with the harvest bounty of vegetables like pumpkins, which bring vibrant colour to this time of year, and you really have cracked it. There is really nothing quite so heavenly as a spiced latte or hot chocolate to lift the spirits.
We particularly recommend adding a little cinnamon to your coffee; nutmeg or star anise to hot chocolate - or even cloves to a hot whisky if you’re looking for a real pick-me-up.
Of course, one of the most fun things about the Autumn is wild fruit picking, and there is nothing better than a bramble and apple crumble. Again, adding a hint of your favourite spices to a crumble can really give it the edge.
Autumnal vegetables like pumpkins make beautiful soups, especially with a hint of cumin, cinnamon or coriander added for good measure.
Why not try?
Spiced hot chocolate.
- Fill your favourite cup with milk to measure - full fat or semi skimmed works best for a really creamy treat, but you can use skimmed if that's your preference
- Drop in 40g of your favourite origins chocolates from our range
- Add in a quarter-to-half a tsp of your favourite spice to taste - we recommend ground star anise, ground nutmeg or ground cinnamon
- Add a little sugar to taste
- Heat the combined liquid in a saucepan or the microwave and stir gently until it starts to froth
#2 Festivals of fun and excess
Dare we say it, but we’ll shortly be turning our focus to preparing for a certain festival beginning with a C, and all the lovely chocolate treats that involves.
But before we even go there, of course there’s another treat-fuelled extravaganza we shouldn’t forget. Hallowe’en. Becoming ever more popular in the UK, this festival is our license to go a little crazy and create all manner of gruesome novelties out of chocolate. Our little shop will become a colourful extravaganza of spooky fun, packed with everything from chocolate severed fingers to coffins, to take everyone’s minds off the fact they’re back at school and summer is officially over.
A great activity to enjoy with the kids is making your own hand-outs for the trick-or-treaters, things like chocolate crispy buns with hallowe’en novelties on the top make easy and fun bakeable treats, and we've started to stock packs of Hallowe’en decorations you can use for just this purpose.
Why not try?
Simply buy a few packets of your favourite jelly brand, follow the instructions on the packet and add to a bowl one a layer at a time, filling each while still liquid with a mixture of Hallowe’en-themed sweets from spiders to mice and wiggly worms. Leave each to set before adding another and you’ll end up with a colourful, crazy treat which the children will have so much fun devouring.
#3 Crafty togetherness
One of the best things about the drawing in of the nights and drawing out of the seasons, is the greater sense of cosy togetherness. And what better way to celebrate the opportunity of being stuck indoors together, than creating sweet crafts? Of course, we’re biased, but we think chocolate is a fantastic medium for making things out of.
Why not try?
Edible play dough
See our video for Amy’s step-by-step guide to making and decorating this fun substance which the kids can enjoy eating when they’ve finished having lots of creative fun!
And here's our recipe for when you've finished watching:
- 200g icing sugar
- 9tbsp cocoa
- 75g powdered milk
- 50g soft butter
- 100g golden syrup
- Mix the butter and golden syrup in a mixer or with an electric whisk.
- When they are well combined, add the dry ingredients and mix again.
- Remove the mix from the bowl and knead it lightly. If its too dry add a little more syrup, if its too sticky add a little more powdered milk or icing sugar.
- When it is a soft malleable consistency its ready to use!
#4 Baking fun
When it’s not great outside, what better excuse for a bit of family bonding than baking together? We love the alchemy of baking here at White Rabbit Chocolatiers, and are always experimenting with new taste and flavour combinations. It’s also a great way to introduce children to cooking in a safe environment, with skills like following processes and weighing out quantities. You get to enjoy your creations together at the end of it all too, so what could be better?
One relatively easy and safe way to enjoy all the fun of baking without the risks that go with hot ovens, is hot chocolate making and decorating, which will feed their creativity and warm their hearts at the same time.
Why not try?
Hot chocolate making and decorating
See Amy’s video demonstration with ideas for this fun activity.
#5 Preparing for Christmas
And then, of course, there’s the biggest and best celebration of the year, when we all have the perfect opportunity to treat ourselves and those around us, and chocolate takes centre stage. There are things you can start to do now, to make some fun out of preparing for this extra-special season, and bring together the whole family at the same time. For example, preparing homemade chocolate gifts that really convey a special ‘I love you’ to those you care about.
Why not try?
Baking and making your own gingerbread decorations for your home and Christmas tree, prepping your own advent calendar for the children or creating homemade foodie gifts for those you love.
The possibilities are so endless on this theme, we’ll be dedicating a full future blog to Christmas gift ideas, so watch this space!
If you've been inspired by the ideas above, and would like some help and advice in planning your recipes or sourcing some of the ingredients we've described, why not pop into our shop at 16 Dyer Lane, in Beverley, HU17 8AE, or give us a buzz on (01482) 679325.