The final day of my little sister’s visit was spent in Manchester, visiting the Manchester Craft and Design Centre and naturally some more shopping. But before we left home, we made some homemade chocolate croissants. We’d all been watching Nigella Express earlier in the week and she’d made these simple looking pastries which we all fancied having a go at.
You very simply take some readymade puff pastry, roll it out (or buy ready rolled if you’re Nigella), cut it into squares, then each square is cut in half across the diagonal to form triangles. You take a chunk of chocolate – we made some using 70% cocoa (my favourite) and some with milk chocolate (little sister’s choice) – place it on the longest side of the triangle, and carefully roll it up. Once you’ve finished rolling you bend the long leggy bits round to form something like this:
Nigella’s naturally looked a lot more attractive than ours, and she made rolling them up look easy-peasy, which I didn’t think they were… You then glaze each croissant with a beaten egg and bung in the oven at about 180°C for 10-15 minutes or until they’re golden. This is what they looked like:
I can’t say I thought they tasted as good as I was hoping. A lot of pastry and not much else. We found the milk chocolate didn’t melt that well, and the 70% cocoa was too bitter. I think if we tried them again I would use a plain chocolate around 50% cocoa, and after glazing them with egg perhaps sprinkle some caster sugar over them before baking to give the pastry a hint of sweetness.
So after filling up on chocolate croissants, the little sister and I headed into Manchester. First stop was Chinatown in search of beautiful Japanese paper – the little sister had seen some in HobbyCraft but it seemed overpriced even if it was incredibly lovely. We did find some and I look forward to finding out what the little sister does with it. Next we headed into Piccadilly Gardens to the Saturday Fashion Market – we passed Canal Street on the way which looked stunning with the cherry blossom out:
Our final stop of the day, before the little sister’s train home, was the Manchester Craft and Design Centre which is situated in the Northern Quarter. The Northern Quarter is full of quirky design features, and with the sun out and air warm felt like we’d been transported briefly to a European city. The little sister took some snaps:
We found a gorgeous little flower shop called Northern Flower, which will be added to my other hobby – an online directory for natural, eco-friendly weddings The Natural Wedding Company – as they use a lot of seasonal English flowers.
The little sister and I really enjoyed our browse around the different studios in the Manchester Craft and Design Centre. From photography, to textiles, jewellery and painted tiles, there is some really beautifully handmade creations being produced and sold here. I would highly recommend a visit to anyone interested in craft, design or all things handmade. We had lunch in their cafe – Cafe Aromat – which was delicious. We both had leek and potato soup, the little sister had a brie, tomato and pesto pannini and I had a mackerel, cucumber and lemon mayo sandwich:
On their counter top were a tray of enticingly soft, unctuous looking muffins. We were eyeing them up all through out lunch, and decided that we would share one – on looking back we should have pigged out and had one each they were so good. I let the little sister pick (I wanted the plain muffin covered in Smarties) and she chose us a Snickers Muffin. I would have never picked this muffin, and was quite sure that I would probably end up letting her eat most of it as I didn’t think I’d like it. How wrong I was…
This chocolate muffin was filled with a scoop of smooth peanut butter, smeared with a toffee sauce, and topped with a sprinkling of chopped nuts. It was divine. To die for. Definitely worth going back for. The little sister said it was the best muffin she had probably ever had. I might even have to agree.
As you can see, it didn’t take us long to finish…
And that was the end of the little sister’s visit. We wandered over to the train station, popped her on her train, and waved goodbye. I really miss her, and hope she’ll come back to stay soon.