I know some people might feel shelves packed with heart-shaped bits and pieces is all a bit too over-commercialised, but (romantic that I am!) I love Valentine’s Day. Actually, it’s not just the day itself that I love - it’s the nudge it gives us (if we need it) to reflect on the people we love and what makes us - and them - happy.

Getting the balance right in life between working, doing the things we love, spending time with our loved ones and eating things we love is really important for me!

So this month I am thankful for:

My friends and family

My dog Poppy – who has just turned 7 (seems like yesterday she was just a puppy!)

Yoga – I’m doing 30 days of yoga straight through and loving it!

Holidays – I’ve just booked to go skiing and cannot wait to hit the slopes

My coffee machine – my “one a day” treat

A shopping trip – a birthday treat with my mum and sister

Food - creating delicious treats for family, friends and clients

Talking of delicious treats, creating and sharing a meal together can be a wonderful thing. Nourishment for the heart and the soul. Why not surprise your loved one this Valentine’s Day by making the velvet chocolate pudding recipe I’ve slipped in to this month’s blog? These gorgeous gooey sumptuous puds are a great way to round off a meal - and go perfectly with a menu such as pan fried duck breast with morello cherry sauce, roasted sweet potato and fresh watercress. Yum (my mouth is watering just typing this!!).

Velvet Valentine Chocolate Puddings:

100g unsalted butter

100g golden caster sugar

100g dark chocolate (min 70% cocoa solids)

2 large eggs

20g plain flour

The quantities above will be enough for 4 puddings, you can bake them all at once or chill 2 of them and save them for the next day.

1. Grease 4 individual pudding tins (or ramekins) and pre-heat the oven to 180c/gas mark 6

2. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a bowl

3.Whisk the eggs, sugar and flour together until pale and thick

4. Fold in the melted chocolate and butter and divide between the tins

5. Cook for 12 mins (or 15mins if they are chilled from the fridge)

6. Turn the puddings out onto a plate, sprinkle with icing sugar and serve with cream or ice cream.

Tuck in and watch the chocolate trickle out!

Or you can try my easy Chocolate Bark recipe as an alternative to the puddings. It makes a great gift for a loved one too and can be made in minutes (plus you’ll need to allow a bit of time for it to cool).

Chocolate Bark:

Use a disposable 18cm x 10cm foil container.

Decide on the look you want to create as you can top the bark with anything.

One of my favourite toppings is freeze-dried raspberries (a great fruity sharpness to contrast with the chocolate) with red and pink heart sprinkles. For the bark, I use dark and white chocolate to create a marble effect

1.Melt 200g dark chocolate and 50g white chocolate in separate bowls

2. Pour the dark chocolate into the foil container

3. Swirl in the white chocolate and using a skewer run it through so the chocolate mixes slightly but not completely. You can save some of the white chocolate if you want to pipe a message on the bark when it has cooled.

4.Top with the sprinkles, dried fruit, sweet treats or whatever you fancy.

5. Pop it in the fridge to set. Once completely cooled you can bag and label your bark for a loved one’s gift!

I hope you have a delicious and loving February.

See you in March (with news of a project I simply LOVED working on last Summer).

Emma x