Chocolate Biscuits

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I decided that, as I had an egg left in the box, and it was up today, I had better bake something with it… well, I don’t like waste so these Chocolate Biscuits were the result! So far Mr Travelstodge’s work colleagues have given them the thumbs up along with several at my place of work, so they can’t be that bad.

The ingredients needed are:

175g (6 oz)        Caster Sugar
125g (4½ oz)     Butter at room temperature
125g (4½ oz)     Plain Flour
35g   (1¼ oz)     Cocoa Powder
1                         Egg, beaten
½ tsp                  Bicarbonate of Soda
½ tsp                  Vanilla Extract (Not the artificial suff, get proper extract!)

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F, Gas Mark 4) and line three or four baking trays. I used two square trays and one rectangular one but whatever you have will be fine. I find baking paper the best, and a smidge of butter on the tray will help anchor the paper on so it doesn’t move when you are putting the dough on the tray.

Mix together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until pale in colour and fluffy. Mix in the egg and vanilla extract until the mixture is smooth.

Next, sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa and beat together until everything is combined. (Travelstodge tip: I mix together all the dry ingredients and sift them into a separate bowl and spoon the dry ingredients into the mix. It’s easier if you are using a hand mixer and or a stand mixer too, as you don’t have to keep stop-starting to sift, it’s all ready to spoon in!)

Now, you can create the biscuits in two ways. The first is with wet hands and roll the dough to create the ball shape needed, but this is messy and I always have the temptation to lick my hands clean… or… you can do what I do and use two teaspoons. Keep transferring the dough from one teaspoon to another to make the desired shape.

The size of the dough shape now will determine the size of the biscuit. A teaspoon size will create the biscuits in the photo, but smaller or bigger will mean adjusting the time in the oven. I made around 26 biscuits using a teaspoon size amount of dough. Make sure when you put the mixture on the baking trays you leave enough room for them to expand, otherwise they will come out all joined together… or one massive biscuit, depends how big your stomach is!

Bake in the oven for 15-17 minutes, based on a teaspoon sized dough.

Once baked, take them out of the oven and leave to cool for five minutes and transfer to a wire rack to completely cool. Don’t worry if you haven’t got a wire rack, I just leave mine on the baking tray to cool completely, it just takes a little longer.

And there you have it! Scrummy chocolate biscuits that everyone will want… all because I needed to use up an egg.

Day Three: Sagrada Familia, Casa Milà, National Museum and an Old Bullring

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I was really looking forward to this day as we had tickets for the Sagrada Familia. It was even more impressive than when I first went in 2007 as they are still building it, and it now has more towers on than the last time I visited. We also had tickets to go up one of the towers, which would have been a great opportunity for stunning photos but alas, the weather wasn’t on our side. The National History Museum of Catalunya and Casa Milà La Pedrera were to follow along with a quick visit to one of their shopping centres, housed in an old bull ring.

12112433_10208028463255819_1164277501180722125_nThe Sagrada Familia, translated as Temple of the Holy Family, is a Gaudí masterpiece. Started in 1882, Gaudí wanted it to be the biggest cathedral in Europe. When it’s completed (around 2026) there will be three facades representing the birth, death and resurrection of Christ, and also eighteen mosaic towers representing Christ, the Virgin Mary, Twelve Apostles and Four Evangelists. Currently, eight have been completed. As you can imagine, this will be a rather imposing building, so much so that other buildings around it will have to be knocked down to make way for it all. 12122625_10208028462255794_3566141981650786333_n

 

The bronze entrance doors on the Passion façade are carved by a sculptor named Josep M. Subirachs. The Cathedral inside is a work of art. My fiancé (Mr Travelstodge) was in awe of the cathedral, and even though this was my second visit, I was too!

 

Now, a Travelstodge tip… you MUST buy your tickets in advance! They are timed entry and if you miss your timed slot, you miss your chance to go in. You only have a 15 minute window to enter. If you try to buy them on the day, you will have to queue and there is no guarantee that you can get in at the time you want. Ticket prices vary depending on the experience you want to have. The basic cost is €15 but all the different options are available here.

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As I mentioned above, we had tickets to go up the Tower on the Passion façade, which gives you views of the city centre, but there is also the Tower on the Nativity façade with views over the East of Barcelona. Both would be fantastic to go up, but due to the weather being very windy, the towers were closed. If you have reduced mobility or are visually impaired then you cannot go up the towers for safety reasons. As we had already purchased our tickets in advance we were refunded automatically but please note, there will be no sign to tell you this, so if this does happen, you will be refunded. This was my second attempt in going up one of the Towers, so maybe third time lucky next time?

Details on how to get there can be found here.

Opening Times differ depending on the month so click here for current opening times.

12049414_10208028552018038_717250184618704702_nBefore we visited the National Museum, we went to Las Arenas shopping mall in Placa d’Espanya, which is housed in an old Bullring which opened in March 2011. There are six floors which comprises 115 shops, numerous bars and restaurants, a fitness centre, a 12 screen cinema, an event hall and not to mention the Museum of Rock. On the 5th floor you can get 360˚ panoramic views of Barcelona too….This building is huge! You can find all the details here but it’s all in Catalan or Spanish, so get Google Translate at the ready!

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After lunch we went to the National Museum of Catalunya (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya) over in Parc de MontjuΪc. This is located in the Palau Nacional of Montjuïc which is high above the Font Màgica, both of which were built for the International Exposition of 1929. It’s an impressive building with quite a lot of steps to get up there, so please bare that in mind when you visit. There are escalators which will take you to the top but if they are out of order be prepared to climb high!

Once you get there and pay for your ticket, you then have two days to enjoy the museum as long as you buy a general ticket, which costs €12.00 and use it within one month from the date of visit. The entrance hall has four sofas which I must say were very comfortable to sit on, which gives you free wifi and your feet a welcomed rest.

The ground floor houses the Medieval – Romanesque / Gothic Art, Renaissance and Baroque art along with the temporary exhibitions, Auditoriums and the entrance to the Roof-Viewpoint. The cloakroom, café and gift shop are also on this level. The first floor houses the Modern and Contemporary Art and their Library. The majority of the building is accessible for those with reduced mobility and items such as wheelchairs are available to loan on request.

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The views from here are amazing, so make sure when you arrive at the entrance, turn and enjoy the view!

Details on how to get here can be found here with opening times and ticket prices located here.

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After we had dinner, we went to Casa Milà (La Pedrera) to see The Origins, which was a roof top light show that was based on the origins of life. This also included a free drink of sparkling wine and nibbles which were so nice that Mr Travelstodge went back for at least two if not three helpings… He has rather a healthy appetite.

Casa Milà, or locally known as La Pedrera, which roughly translates as “The Quarry” or “The Rock” due to the look of the building, is an apartment block built by Gaudí between 1906 and 1912. It’s built using columns and arches so there are no straight lines or right angled corners… apparently!992780_10208584176668307_5806565085821743847_n

We had a tour around the building, which still houses four families even now, and made our way to the roof top where we enjoyed a stunning light show which was projected onto the chimney pots. Please note that there are a lot of steps in this building and only one lift that can only take a couple of people at a time, so be prepared to climb!

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Details of all the tickets available can be found here and how to get there can be found here.

So, as you can see, we had rather a hectic day of it and it was at this point Mr Travelstodge started to feel unwell with a right hum-dinger of a cold, which I’ll be mentioning in day four and our last full day in this beautiful city.

It was also at this point I wished we had longer here, as I really didn’t want to go back home.