Tag Archives: chocolate

Pecan and Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies!

6 May

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OH WOW! Talk about overkill. These awesomely gorgeous brownies are the cover stars on this month’s Sainsbury’s magazine and I couldn’t wait to have a go at making them. Unfortunately I didn’t have any white chocolate – a crucial ingredient! – so I decided to make up the weight with pecan nuts instead. This added a delicious crunch to these moistly decadent brownies. So here’s the original recipe with my variations alongside

INGREDIENTS

100g very dark chocolate
100g soft butter
200g light muscovado sugar (I used 100g with another 100g dark brown sugar)
2 large eggs lightly beaten
100g plain flour
100g white chocolate, roughly chopped (I used 100g roughly chopped pecans)
150g raspberries

For the cheesecake mixture

1 large egg
200g cream cheese
50g granulated sugar (I used golden caster sugar – I just prefer it)
1 tablespoon plain flour

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line an 18cm square cake tin. (I used a smallish rectangular brownie tin)
  2. Melt the dark chocolate over barely simmering water or in the microwave and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer. Add the eggs a little at a time and continue mixing. Add the flour and the melted chocolate and beat gently to combine.
  4. Fold in the chopped white chocolate (or, if you;re me, the pecans!) and 125g of the raspberries.
  5. In a large bowl place all the cheesecake ingredients and whisk together.
  6. Now spoon out half of the brownie mixture into the prepared tin and spread it out evenly.
  7. Add half the cheesecake mixture to the brownie base in blobs. gently swirl together using a skewer.
  8. Spread over the remaining brownie mixture, then swirl in the rest of the cheesecake mixture.
  9. Bake the brownies for 50 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin before cutting into squares. Decorate with the remaining raspberries.

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This recipe is from the May 2013 edition of the Sainsbury’s magazine and is not my original idea.

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Biscotti

13 Apr

Mmmmm Biscotti. So divinely delicious and so simple to make. And guaranteed to win loads of praise from non-baking friends who won’t believe something this fabulous is so easy to rustle up. With a spare hour or two and some very basic store cupboard ingredients, you’ll be able to produce Biscotti as pretty as the sort they sell for a fortune in the shops.

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First of all a little history lesson. These Italian biscuits take their name from “biscotto” which literally means to bake twice. Because that’s exactly what you do – you bake them twice. Dried out biscuits such as these were used by the Ancient Romans because they stayed crunchy and tasty for a long time, and can be enjoyed dunked in a little wine or coffee. If it was good enough for the Ancient Romans, well then it’s good enough for me.

My version is quite chocolatey (of course) with the added crunch of walnuts and pecans. Actually you can use any nuts you like – pistachios are particularly good – but as I didn’t have enough of either I used a combination.

Preheat the oven to 160 C

Line two baking sheets with non-stick baking paper or silicone sheets

INGREDIENTS

250 g plain flour
250 g caster sugar
half teaspoon baking powder
1 heaped tablespoon cocoa powder
3 medium eggs, beaten
50 g plain chocolate chips
50 g mixed walnuts/pecans or almonds or pistachios

METHOD

Combine the first four ingredients in a large bowl.

20130412_160347Work through with your fingertips to break up lumps in the sugar.

Now pour in the beaten egg, a little at a time, and mix together until you have a really stiff dough.

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Add the chocolate chips and the nuts and mix through thoroughly.

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It will be quite stiff and dry and bitty – don’t worry, that’s fine.

Divide the dough into four and shape into sausage shapes on a floured surface.

Place these on the baking sheets.

Pop them in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes.

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Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about fifteen minutes.

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Now they are cool enough to handle. Using a sharp, serrated knife, carefully cut chunky slices on the diagonal.

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Place these slices back on the baking trays and back into the oven for a further twenty minutes.

Half way through this second baking, turn the Biscotti over to help them dry out completely.

After the second baking leave the Biscotti to cool on a wire rack, and that’s it.

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You can store them in an airtight tin for several weeks. Enjoy them with a glass of sweet wine, a nice espresso and sunshine:-)

A challenge – Toblerone Cake!

1 Apr

The challenge was – Can you make a giant Toblerone cake?  Challenge accepted 🙂 Here it is…

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This is how I went about it.

Firstly I made a dense chocolate loaf cake.

INGREDIENTS

75 g softened butter
175 g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
140 g self raising flour
85 g ground almonds
100 ml milk
4 heaped tablespoons cocoa powder
50 g chopped nougat
50 g slivered almonds
50 g dark chocolate chips

METHOD

  1. Heat the oven to 180 C and grease and line a 900 g loaf tin (2 lb size)
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. Add all the remaining ingredients except the almonds, nougat and choc chips.
  4. When nicely combined stir in the remaining ingredients.
  5. Scrape into the tin and bake until risen and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  6. Leave in the tin to cool completely on a wire rack.
  7. Wrap in cling film (around the tine as well) and pop into the freezer for about four hours. This makes the cake easier to cut to shape.

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When the cake has firmed up remove from the tin and remove the paper. Slice the top flat and turn upside down.  Now using a sharp, serrated knife, carefully carve down both of the long sides to create a Toblerone shape. Don’t go all the way to the bottom – it needs a “platform” to sit on.

Now cut straight down at 2 cm intervals to create the typical chunks of a Tolerone bar. Gently remove the bits you cut out – again don’t go all the way down. You don’t want to separate the pieces from the base. The bits you cut oout will be eaten quite quickly by ravenous on-lookers…

One you’re happy with the shape, melt a large slab of milk chocolate cake covering and pour it all over the top. Use a pastry brush to scrape up the puddles and keep topping it up until the cake is completely covered. Leave it to set.

20130329_162813Cut around the base to remove the cake from the chocolate puddle and give it a nice straight edge. Place on a serving platter.

You could stop now or you could do what I did and go a bit mad. I copied the Toblerone logo onto some light yellow card to make a giant box and placed it so that the cake appeared to have come out of the box.  It looked particularly cute when I placed a “real” Toblerone alongside 🙂

Enjoy!

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Chocolate Brownie Cake

6 Oct

Yes – you read that right! Chocolate brownie cake. And why not?

Chocolate Brownie Cake

I was off to dinner at some friends last week and needed to take something. I didn’t have much time, so this was just perfect. It can be prepared so quickly, needs little or no decorating, and works as a decadent pudding or a slice of cake. It’s rather rich so a little goes a long way – I reckon this quantity would serve 8 people. Not in my family, though!

INGREDIENTS

100 g butter
175 g golden caster sugar
75 g dark brown sugar
125 g dark chocolate
1 tablespoon golden syrup
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon almond essence
100 g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 heaped tablespoons cocoa powder (The bitter stuff – not drinking chocolate!)

METHOD

  1. Heat the oven to 180 C and grease and line a 20 cm round tin, loose bottomed if possible.
  2. PLace the butter, the sugars, the essence and the chocolate in a small pan and melt over a low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until all combined.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool a little.
  4. PLace the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder in a large bowl, pour in the chocolate mixture, then stir in the beaten eggs and mix thoroughly.
  5. Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool for about half an hour before removing from the tin and dusting with icing sugar.
  7. Serve, cut into wedges with ice cream or cream.

Thanks to my friend Ian for adding the footprints!

 

 

Billionaire’s Shortbread

8 Jun

Want to make something impressive, something with the wow factor? Try these – completely divine and as easy as can be.

Billionaire’s Shortbread

Making shortbread is a doddle, and once the shortbread has baked and cooled, the topping is as simple as opening a tin and melting some chocolate. You could make your own caramel – you could – but this is the lazy, easy method and it requires nothing more challenging than a tin opener.

Let’s start with the shortbread.

INGREDIENTS

225 g Butter
65 g caster sugar
275 g plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
65 g cornflour

Tin of caramel sauce (I used Carnation)

200 g dark chocolate
100 g white chocolate

You’ll need a brownie tin, greased and lined with baking paper.

METHOD 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C.
  2. Cream the butter and caster sugar together.
  3. Add all the other ingredients and mix to a smooth, stiff dough.
  4. Turn into the prepared tin and press down lightly with yous fingers.
  5. Prick all over with the tines of a fork.
  6. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes until lightly browned – a nice biscuity colour.
  7. Leave in the tin to cool completely on a wire rack.

Baked shortbread

When the shortbread has cooled completely, spread the tinned caramel over the surface.

Caramel

Now melt the dark chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the water or the chocolate will become granually. Melt the white chocolate in the same way. Remove both from the heat and beat with a metal spoon until smooth.

Pour the dark chocolate all over the caramel and smooth with the metal spoon.

Spread on the melted dark chocolate…

Drop blobs and trails of white chocolate over the dark chcocalte.

Blob on the white chocolate

Use a skewer or wooden toothpick to drag the white chocolate into marbled patterns.

Marbleous!

Leave overnight in a cool place (or in the fridge) until completley cool. Cut into slices using a sharp serrated knife. You may need to dip the knife in boiling water to make the cutting a little easier.

Best eaten in a bowl, as it’s rather messy. Calories count? A billion!

Mmmm, enjoy!

 

Gluten-free Goes Glam

20 May

Torta Gianduja

 

This weekend’s challenge was to produce something luscious and sexy that also happened to be gluten free. And I’ve found something which ticks all the boxes and more. Torta Gianduja is an Italian celebration cake, and I’ve used the Hairy Bikers recipe. (Hairy Bikers Bakeation on the BBC) I do love the lads, Si and Dave, and I must say this recipe is a real winner. However, I must point out that it requires a fair bit of effort. It’s a labour-intensive, time-consuming recipe, but hey, it’s so worth it.

You can save some time and effort by buying ready blanched hazelnuts. In fact you can save even more time and effort by buying them already ground. I did neither, so effectively added on about half an hour to my preparation time. I’ll know for the next time…

I’ll take you through it step by step.

INGREDIENTS

250 g hazelnuts (blanched and ground if you’re clever)
200 g butter
200 g good quality dark chocolate (I used Lindt 85% cocoa solids – worth the extra expense)
6 large free-range eggs, separated
200 g golden caster sugar
3 tablespoons amaretto or similar liqueur. Or orange juice if you prefer.
A jar of Nutella for the topping – you’ll need about three tablespoons.

Grease and bottom line a 23 cm springform tin

METHOD

First things first – prepare the hazelnuts. Preheat the oven to 200 C and spread the whole hazelnuts onto two baking trays . Pop them into the hot oven for no more than ten minutes. Give them a shake from time to time and don’t let them burn or they’ll go bitter. Remove from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes before taking handfuls and rubbing them between your hands until the papery membrane rubs off. This is really easy to do.

Hazelnuts

Pop the blanche nuts into the food processor and pulse until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. They don’t have to be too finely ground, in fact a bit of texture is desirable.

Blanched and ready to grind

Break up the chocolate and cut up the butter and place together in a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water. The base of the bowl should not touch the water. Leave to melt. You can be grinding the hazelnuts whilst the chocolate and butter melt together.

Remove the bowl from the heat, leave to cool a little, then stir in 200 g of the ground hazelnuts. Reserve the rest for the topping.

While this mixture cools, beat the egg yolks together with the sugar. Beaat well with an electtric mixer (I used my big Kenwood on a medium speed) for a good 5 – 7 minutes, until you have a thick, pale and creamy result. Stir the sugar and yolk mixture into the choclate and hazelnuts mixture and mix well until beautifully combined.

Creamed caster sugar and egg yolks

Now wash the bowl and beaters thoroughly and place the egg whites into the bowl, whisking at medium to high speed until the egg whites are really stiff.

Now stir the liqueur (or fruit juice) into the chocolate mixture, followed by a couple of spoons of egg white. Mix lightly and quickly with a metal spoon. Add the rest of the egg white. Fold it all in as gently as possible, then scrape into the preapred tin.

Torta Gianduja – nearly there!

Place in the centre of the oven ad bake for 50 – 60 minutes. The Hairy Bikers suggested 35 – 40 minutes but I found the centre of the cake still wet and squidgy after that time and it needed almost an hour to set nicely.

Torta Gianduja

Remove from the oven and leave to cool before removing the spring form tin. The cake should rise really well, souffle-like, and may sink back a little. Don’t worry.

I inverted the cake onto a serving platter to give a nice smooth, flat surface.

Spread three tablespoons of Nutella on the top of the cooled cake. Dip a metal spoon in boiling water to make iteasier to spread.

Torta Gianduja – buonissimo!

Sprinkle over the remaining ground hazelnuts.

Delish!

 

 

Victoria Sponge with a Difference

8 May

And the difference of course, is chocolate. Cocoa to be precise. In fact, every bit of this recipe needs you to be precise. The secret of a great Vic Sponge, light, fluffy and downright delicious, is precise measurements. Normally I’m more laid-back with quantities and have been known to throw in a bit of this, chuck in a bit of that, add more flour or less, depending on how the mixture looks. But not with the old Vic. Oh no. Precision is the name of the game. Digital scales are your friend when making this particular cake.

Chocolate Victoria Sponge with vanilla buttercream icing

However, it’s important to remember that this is also the easiest cake in the universe. Ok maybe there are easier ones, but this recipe really is a doddle, quick to whizz up, a short time in the oven, and in less than a couple of the hours, on the table while you sit back and bask in the compliments.

So here we go. You’ll need two 20cm “sandwich” tins, well greased and bottom lined. You’ll also need scales and a sieve, and a couple of bowls, one large, one small. Preheat the oven to 180 C.

INGREDIENTS

3 large free range eggs – crack them into the small bowl and weigh them! They’ll be about 175 g
175g (or equivalent weight of eggs) of each of the following: caster sugar; softened butter; self-raising flour.
2 heaped tablespoons cocoa
3 tablespoons milk

METHOD 

  1. Whizz the butter and sugar together until really light and fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs and blend well.
  3. Now place the sieve over the large bowl and add the two tablespoons of cocoa.
  4. Add the flour until the scales read 175 g (or equivalent weight of eggs)
  5. Fold in the flour/cocoa  and then add the milk, folding gently with a metal spoon.
  6. divide the mixture between the two tins and bake for approximately 25 minutes until risen and springy to the touch.
  7. Allow to cool on a wire rack before icing.

ICING

4 – 5 table spoons strawberry or apricot jam, slightly warmed.
150 g softened butter
300 g icing sugar

METHOD

  1. Whizz the icing sugar and butter together to make a nice thick, smooth, butter cream.
  2. Place one cake on a serving plate.
  3. Spread the top of the cake with the warmed jam.
  4. Then spread on half the butter cream.
  5. Place the second cake on top and smooth on the remaining butter cream.
  6. Decorate with pretty sugar paste flowers (optional – haha!)

It’s a lovely light cake and a versatil recipe and the jam makes the cake supermoist. Have fun trying out different combinations 🙂

Chocolate Victoria Sponge

The seal of approval!

One of my regular cakefans

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