• Baking experts reveal their top tips for making perfect mince pies
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    The Independent

    Baking experts reveal their top tips for making perfect mince pies

    Anyone who’s ever eaten a mince pie will know that the pastry that encases the mincemeat is typically very soft and crumbly. According to Ian Cumming, 2015 runner up of The Great British Bake Off, achieving the ideal level of softness in the pastry is down to absolute precision. “To achieve this, I use 30 per cent more butter than a traditional shortcrust pastry.

  • 10 best single malt scotch whiskies
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    The Independent

    10 best single malt scotch whiskies

    A scotch single malt has been a failsafe Grandad present for generations, let’s not rock the boat. For those not familiar with the ancient art of scotch whisky, we have compiled a list of this year’s best buys, covering everything from Speyside on a budget to Islay with a blank cheque. An iconic whisky from an iconic brand – the Talisker 18 took home the title of Best in the World at the 2007 World Whisky Awards.

  • 12 best best organic chocolates
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    The Independent

    12 best best organic chocolates

    As National Chocolate Week commences, what better time to bring you a roundup of our favourite organic chocolate brands that bear the official seal of approval. Organic produce (including these chocolate bars) will be free of harmful pesticides, which is better for both you, and the planet.

  • 10 best cake decorating tools
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    The Independent

    10 best cake decorating tools

    Today, my wedding cakes are displayed in Harrods Food Hall, while I make others for birthday events and brand launches. A baking turntable makes decorating a cake smoother and more efficient, as well as giving you a full 360 degree view of the cake without having to handle it too much.

  • 9 best cakes and biscuits for Halloween 2018
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    The Independent

    9 best cakes and biscuits for Halloween 2018

    There’s a definite chill in the air and the leaves have started to turn orange – it can only mean one thing – Halloween is here. What better way to celebrate than with a selection of spooky sweet treats. Containing nine perfectly iced biscuits, in a seasonal trick or treat biscuit tin, this is sure to be popular with the whole family.

  • 10 best honeys
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    The Independent

    10 best honeys

    Honey has long been praised for its health properties and is often touted as the healthy alternative to sugar. “It’s important to remember that honey still counts as a ‘free’ or added sugar,” warns Helen Bond of the British Dietetic Association. “We shouldn’t consume more than 30g of it a day.” And yet it does have some health benefits – it can act as an anti-inflammatory and has antibacterial properties, which can help heal wounds (by applying it on the wound, rather than eating it).

  • 12 best hot chocolates
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    The Independent

    12 best hot chocolates

    The most delicious hot chocolate needs to be savoured. Following the recipe, we heaped three tablespoons of the powder into a teacup, gradually added a little hot milk to create a paste then slowly stirred in more milk.

  • 12 best world wines
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    The Independent

    12 best world wines

    It used to be simple: red wine from France, white wine from Germany. It's been a fascinating and rewarding voyage of discovery that takes in India, China, Lebanon, Israel, Turkey, Brazil, Canada, Greece, Armenia and even Belgium. The indigenous merwah grape has been cultivated in Lebanon for thousands of years but has only been used in blends before.

  • 14 best alcohol-free drinks
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    The Independent

    14 best alcohol-free drinks

    Whether you’re the designated driver, an expectant mother, or are simply trying to cut down on your booze intake – there’s never been a greater demand for grown up, non-alcoholic alternatives. Ocado have reported that sales of non-alcoholic wine have increased by 42 per cent so far this year, with sales of no and low spirits and beers soaring by 87 per cent. With alcohol-free alternatives becoming mainstream, and with events such as Sober October and Dry January just around the corner, there’s no better time to get reacquainted with your drinks trolley. The original rule breakers, Seedlip were one of the first to disrupt the soft drinks industry and in the process completely redefined what we could expect from a non-alcoholic beverage.

  • 10 best gluten free pastas
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    The Independent

    10 best gluten free pastas

    Gone are the days where there was only one brand of decent gluten free pasta, which would inevitably stick to the bottom of the pan in one big non-gluten chunk of sludge. Now the shelves are absolutely bursting with gluten free pasta options – the colours, shapes and sizes on offer are quite frankly, overwhelming. Red lentil flour, quinoa flour, green pea, brown rice and buckwheat options are all on offer in every shape under the sun.

  • 9 best German beers
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    The Independent

    9 best German beers

    Clinking steins of beer, raucous singing, noisy oompah bands, plates of sausages and well-worn liederhosen: if you want to tick off German clichés then get yourself to a German beer festival because they’re all very much in evidence. The most famous of all beer festivals, Munich’s much celebrated Oktoberfest, has strict beer entry criteria: breweries must come from the city and uphold the 500-year old ‘Reinheitsgebot’ beer purity law, meaning that only booze containing water, barley, hops and yeast can officially be sold as beer. Some modern brewers may curse its restrictive measures, but centuries worth of brewing experts have adhered to it and created a vast range of beer styles.

  • 9 best multi-cookers
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    The Independent

    9 best multi-cookers

    One of these nifty products does the work of a roasting tin, slow cooker, pressure cooker, steamer and frying pan – all in one. A quality multi-cooker is quick and simple to use – often coming with a choice between pre-set programmes and manual overrides, and a timer setting so you can have your meal ready for when you walk through the door.

  • Marks & Spencer's Christmas drinks range features crème brûlée white hot chocolate
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    Country Living

    Marks & Spencer's Christmas drinks range features crème brûlée white hot chocolate

    And a ready-made Mince Pie Martini cocktail... From Country Living

  • 10 best free-from recipe boxes
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    The Independent

    10 best free-from recipe boxes

    If you’re keen to improve your culinary skills but don’t have the time to spend hours trudging around the supermarket, recipe boxes offer an ideal solution. With new recipes and all the ingredients delivered directly to your door, they not only offer inspiration but also help reduce food waste and make sure you devote time to cooking real food in the kitchen. Over several weeks, we trialled the latest free-from recipe boxes on the market and tested them for recipe variety, price, taste and suitability for a range of different allergens.

  • 9 best plastic-free teabags
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    The Independent

    9 best plastic-free teabags

    Most teabags contain plastic – who knew? About 96 per cent of teabags are made with polypropylene – a synthetic resin – which is added during the sealing process. Fortunately, there's such a thing as plastic-free teabags – and we've found some of the best.

  • 10 best fruit beers
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    The Independent

    10 best fruit beers

    It’s doesn’t seem long ago that in order to obtain a decent fruit beer you would have to travel to Belgium, where the marriage of sweet fruits and sour beers has a proud history. Sour styles, such as Lambic, Berliner Weisse or Gose, may be the most obvious fit for fruity additions, where the flavours of ingredients such as cherries and raspberries naturally enhance the sharpness created by wild fermentation. Citrus and tropical fruits, in particular grapefruit, orange and mango, have similar flavour profiles to some modern American hops making them work well in pale ales, whereas autumnal ingredients including plums and blackberries compliment the richer flavours and aromas of dark porters and stouts.

  • Aldi's £7 pumpkin spice liqueur is back for another year
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    Cosmo

    Aldi's £7 pumpkin spice liqueur is back for another year

    Boozy pumpkin spice, anyone?

  • 10 best cake tins
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    The Independent

    10 best cake tins

    Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood will be returning as judges, Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig will be hosting, and we'll be dreaming about making those fantastic creations. To get you in the spirit, we’ve narrowed our excessive cake tin collection to 10 high-performers that will work for all your baking exploits. A loaf tin is easily my most-used piece of baking kit, because works for simple, unfussy cakes that don’t require ke a lot of effort to ice once they’re out of the oven – think banana bread or lemon drizzle – and it’s also great for shaping a classic loaf.

  • 14 best Eastern European wines
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    The Independent

    14 best Eastern European wines

    There used to be a certain sniffiness about Eastern European wines. They were treated as unwelcome attendees at the wine lover’s party – OK if you wanted a cheap bottle of plonk but never granted a place at the top table.

  • 11 best rums
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    The Independent

    11 best rums

    The drink that really put rum on the map was the Daiquiri which pretty much introduced rum to the world. The Mojito is a disciple of the Daiquiri with the addition of mint and a Mai Tai swaps the sugar for Orgeat (almond syrup) and orange liqueur.

  • 10 best beers from Bristol and Bath
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    The Independent

    10 best beers from Bristol and Bath

    Any beer enthusiast looking for a weekend city break could do worse than head out west to Bristol. While some of those breweries (such as the new trio of Good Chemistry, New Bristol and Incredible Brewing) are less well known outside the city, others including Moor, Wiper and True and Lost and Grounded have achieved a national appeal for their innovative ales. For this list we’re focusing on those ales that are mostly available across the country, and have included a pair of beers from Bristol’s posh little neighbour, Bath, where the 20-year-old Abbey Ales has recently been joined by the exciting Electric Bear.

  • 9 best vegan milks
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    The Independent

    9 best vegan milks

    Whether you’re a full-time vegan, lactose intolerant or simply a flexitarian looking to make an easy daily switch, there’s a plethora of plant-based milk options to replace the regular cow’s milk many of us grew up with. Over the last six years, sales of plant-based milks have doubled worldwide and there’s a number of reasons people are making the switch. Dairy production contributes to climate change due to the high levels of greenhouse gas emissions it produces, so a plant-based milk is a better option for the planet.

  • 11 best proseccos
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    The Independent

    11 best proseccos

    The dependable, affordable luxury from north-east Italy befits a variety of situations, including endless summer picnics, birthdays and weddings, or dreary Tuesdays and midweek pick-me-ups. The Glera grape can be consistently relied upon to offer medium acidity, sherbet sweetness with pear-scented, floral freshness. Most prosecco is classed as extra dry, containing 12-17g/L residual sugar but many are dry, with 17-32g/L. Don’t let the terms mislead you into thinking you’re being frugal on the sugar intake, though.

  • 10 best reusable lunch boxes
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    The Independent

    10 best reusable lunch boxes

    The government is now considering banning the sale of single-use plastic cutlery and plates, with Defra recently announcing a study into the “significant negative impact” such items are having on the environment. Environmental concerns aside, there are other key reasons to invest in a good lunch box. There is an extensive range of styles available, from the traditional faff-free box with a lid, popular for a simple sandwich affair, to trendy bento boxes for those who prefer more variety.

  • 8 best salt and pepper mills
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    The Independent

    8 best salt and pepper mills

    One of the few pieces of kitchen equipment used every day, a set of freshly ground salt and pepper mills deliver a more intense flavour and can transform almost any meal. Peugeot built the first pepper mill with a metal grinder in 1842 (before that pepper mills were based on a pestle and mortar design) however, nowadays they are generally built with ceramic mechanisms because they are incredibly hard wearing and won’t corrode. There are a couple of key factors to consider when buying a salt and pepper mill. Perhaps the most important, is whether you mind a little overspill of ground salt and pepper left on a surface every time you put the things down.