Tag Archives: chocolate

What to do with leftover chocolate (which isn’t often a problem….)

I’m aware that it’s only October and I’ve got my ‘life begins at’ birthday in a fortnight (which I’m totally fine with, perhaps because I’m pretty sure this can’t be happening and I’m really only 25) but I decided a couple of weeks ago to start clearing out the kitchen so I can make space for the amount of food we end up buying in the run up to Christmas. And, let’s be honest, I say food, I mean those big tubs of Quality Street and Celebrations. And despite Christmas being months away, those gigantic tubs of chocolatey goodness have started appearing in supermarkets and whilst I hate the early arrival of Christmas by retailers, I freaking love me some chocolate.

During my cupboard clearout I discovered a not insignificant amount of Easter chocolate that I’d hidden after Easter to try and stop myself from exploding. I also found a box of Ferrero Rocher varieties and as I have mentioned before, my least favourite chocolate pairing is nuts and chocolate which probably explains why that’s leftover.

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Now, I love a Lindt bunny (or sheep or chick) as much as the next chocoholic but I also love a Lindt gnome or Father Christmas. So I figured I’d use up the leftover chocolate in what I like to now refer to as Chocolate Saturday. Catchy, eh? And so creative.

The three things I decided to make were: salted chocolate mousse, Ferrero Rocher cupcakes and an orange and chocolate chip loaf cake. The mousse was the easiest of the lot – 30g of chocolate and one egg per person (I made enough for four, so 120g chocolate, 4 eggs). Melt the chocolate in a bain marie and then remove from the heat. Separate the eggs and whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. Whisk the egg yolks into the melted chocolate and then beat in a third of the eggs whites – when this is all combined, fold in the rest of the whites. If you’re using dark chocolate and you’ve got a sweet tooth, whisk a tablespoon full of sugar per egg into the whites – I was using Lindt bunnies and they’re plenty sweet enough. Put into bowls and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours or until set. Sprinkle a tiny amount of sea salt onto it before serving for that crunchy goodness.

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The Ferrero Rocher cupcakes simply involved shoving a Ferrero Rocher into each cupcake case and then covering with cake batter (actually, put a little bit of batter in the bottom first, to stop the chocolate from catching as it cooks). My last post had a cupcake recipe so I just used that. I iced using a buttercream (because of the slight disaster we had with icing the other ones) which I’m sure you all already have, and then I shoved another Ferrero Rocher on top. Apparently they’re lovely – I wouldn’t know, don’t like chocolate and nuts. I may have mentioned this before.

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My final recipe is the one I’m sharing here: Chocolate chip and Orange Loaf.

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I love orange and chocolate together, it’s possibly one of my favourite things (note to self: don’t forget the Terry’s Chocolate Oranges for Christmas) so this loaf ticks all the right boxes. I have to apologise to anyone more comfortable with metric (like me), it’s in US measurements, but that’s because I think the Yanks make loaf cakes much better than the Brits.

  • Zest of one large orange
  • Juice of one orange, topped up with boiling water to make 1 cup
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup golden caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I used a smashed up Lindt bunny, you can use whatever you’ve got – I’d imagine dark chocolate will give it much more of a Jaffa Cake flavour)

Put the orange peel into a bowl and cover with the juice/boiling water – allow to stand for at least 10 minutes. Pre-heat oven to gas mark 4 and grease and line a 900ml loaf tin

Combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, bicarb, baking powder, salt) in a bowl and whisk together the egg, butter and orange juice mix in another.

Beat the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until combined and then fold in the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 45-55 mins until a skewer inserted into it comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins, then allow to cool fully on a wire rack. I served mine with the salted chocolate mousse and some strawberries but I think it’d make a perfect breakfast loaf, with a nice cup of Earl Grey, so that’s what I’m going to go eat RIGHT NOW. Bye.

Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes (for the best 6 year old ever)

It was my beautiful nephew’s birthday last week – he turned six. He’s always been utterly awesome, very funny, a bit cheeky, loves trains, planes and automobiles. In fact, when I asked him what he wanted for his birthday, he said an iPhone6 or a Lamborghini. I did not get him either of those things, heck if I could afford a new car, I’d be getting one for me not for him. However, I did amuse myself by buying him a wind up car from Tiger and scribbling out its name and writing in Lamborghini. I am a comedy genius.

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Anyway, as per Rixy’s birthday where I made all the red velvet cupcakes in the world, my sister asked if I could make some cupcakes for his birthday. When I asked Praveen what type of cupcakes he wanted, he said chocolate brownies and chocolate chips and chocolate chocolate. So I made carrot cakes. Not really. Obviously. My sister had ordered some Star Wars themed cake toppers so we put those on top.

I had the day off on Friday and my dear friend Clare came over to help me make cupcakes. To be fair, she came round on the promise of wine, but we also managed to make 24 cupcakes and decorate them, before we got too tipsy. And then we got really drunk and found ourselves talking to strangers with lovely dogs in the street and doing jigsaws and all sorts (admittedly, very suburban middle aged all sorts but still, fun was had)

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Here’s the recipe. We screwed up the icing a little by putting in the cream whilst the chocolate was still hot so if you’re using this recipe, let the chocolate cool a bit. Or cook the chocolate and the cream together, I think that may be the best option.

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Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes (this recipe makes 14, I reckon…) 

  • 200g butter
  • 200g light muscovado
  • 200g 70% chocolate
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 100g chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 160C/gas mark 4 and line a muffin tin with cases.

Melt together the sugar, chocolate and butter, once smooth and glossy, set aside to cool. Beat together the eggs, salt and vanilla extract.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Once the chocolate mix has cooled, beat in the eggs and then pour the mix over the flour, stirring constantly. Once all the flour is incorporated, add the milk chocolate chips and beat in.

Spoon into the muffin cases until 3/4 full and then place into the oven for 20-25 minutes. Test with a skewer, and by bounce – don’t forget, the chocolate chips will be melty so don’t overcook your cakes if your skewer doesn’t come out clean.

Leave aside to cool whilst you make your icing.

Melt 200g plain chocolate (70%) with 100ml double cream using a bain marie. Once all melted, take off the heat and add 50g sifted icing sugar. Beat till it’s all incorporated, then spread over the top of each cupcake.

Put on your toppers and serve. Delicious.

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Clare was very proud of her ROYGBIV cupcake case placement, so I had to share at least one photo of them empty.







Easter recipe: Cranberry, Chocolate and Cardamom Hot Cross Buns

A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by the lovely folks at Hartley Jam (via the equally lovely folk at Havas) to take part in their hot cross bun challenge.

With a little bit of time on my hands, I decided to take part. However, I’m not a big fan of dried fruit so hot cross buns don’t often feature in the things I love about Easter. Honestly, when there’s so much chocolate doing the rounds, why would anyone go “oooh, I really fancy a delicious fruity bun instead of a chunk of an Easter egg?” Not me, that’s for shizz.

I received in the post a beautifully wrapped basket filled with ingredients with which to make my buns, which gave me flashbacks to my baby PR days where you’d be expected to be some sort of wrapping whizz to give media gifts or invitations that ‘wow’ factor. You’ve heard of kerbside appeal, this is desk appeal. It’s like that bit in Bridesmaids, where the invitation to the bridal shower included live butterflies. This one didn’t, thankfully, I’m not sure how I would have incorporated live butterflies into my final dish.

The beautifully wrapped basket
The beautifully wrapped basket
And the basket contents
And the basket contents

The basket contained flour, sugar, yeast, mixed spice, a bottle of Hartley’s Jam and a supermarket gift voucher to spend on the additional ingredients needed. Given that I hadn’t been sent dried fruit, I decided that I’d create something that didn’t include raisins or currants. So that’s what I’ve done. Recipe below, with pictures because it looked so pretty. Today is the day to traditionally eat Hot Cross Buns so that’s what I’ve done. Just three so far. I think I need a nap.

And the final bake

Cardamom, lemon, cranberry and chocolate hot cross buns

  • 200ml milk
  • 4 cardamom pods (broken slightly)
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • A pinch of saffron
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 sachet (7g) of easy fast action yeast
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 450g bread flour (I was sent plain flour but had bread flour in my cupboard)
  • 100g butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1.5tsp ground ginger
  • 3 eggs
  • Zest of two lemons
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 100g dark chocolate chips (at least 70%)

Put the milk, cinnamon stick, nutmeg, cardamom pods and saffron into a small pan and bring to the boil gently. Once this happens, take it off the heat and leave to infuse for at least 30 mins. Once it’s cooled to hand temperature, strain it into a bowl and add one tablespoon of the sugar and the yeast and stir. Take two of the eggs and beat them.

Put the flour into a large bowl and rub in the butter. Add the rest of the sugar, the salt and the ginger and give it a good mix. Create a well in the centre, then pour in the beaten eggs and the milk. Bring the dough together and tip onto a very lightly floured board and knead. Knead like your life depends on it, it takes a good 10 minutes. It’s quite therapeutic.

Once it’s smooth and elastic, put it into a lightly greased bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and put somewhere warm till it’s at least doubled in size – this took about 1.5 hours on top of a radiator on low.

Before the rise

And after

Whilst it’s rising, zest the lemon and mix with the chocolate chips and cranberries and put to one side.

Once risen, drop the dough onto a lightly greased board and give it a quick knead, then stretch it a little. Sprinkle the chocolate/cranberry/lemon mix over the top then give the dough another knead to incorporate.

The dough with sprinkled topping All incorporated

Divide the dough into twelve equal sized balls (I was a massive geek and weighed, then worked out how much each ball should weigh, so I weighed those too) and put on a lined baking sheet. Cut a small cross in the top of each of them.

Before the second rise

Leave these to double in size again – this only took about 45 minutes. In the meantime, heat the oven to gas mark 6/200c

Beat the remaining egg and make the paste for your crosses. This was about 5 tablespoons of flour and 3 tablespoons of water but was probably a little thin (as you’ll see from the less than perfect crosses) so maybe thicken it up a little till it feels like it’ll hold its shape.

Crosses. Bad crosses.

Once the buns are doubled, brush with the egg and pipe the cross onto the top. Bake for about 20 mins, till the top is golden. Once they come out of the oven, brush the top with a little sugar syrup. It just makes them look pretty. It’s not essential.

Obviously, I enjoyed these with a light spreading of Hartley’s Strawberry Jam and bloody good it was too. Someone somewhere suggested them with cheddar cheese, which I think sounds amazing and basically dinner so that’s what I’ll be eating tonight.

Thanks Hartley's

Chocolate Orange brownie cake (or a baked poop?? You decide)

My father in law turned 70 this weekend so we’ve been celebrating with the family a lot over the last few days. He had quite a traumatic injury last spring involving his bike, his leg and a truck so it’s been a hell of a year for him and was good to be able to spend time with him and see how he’s recovering.

Birthday boy

We went to a lovely party with his friends on the Sunday, where his long term partner who is an amazing cook, put on a spread that included no less than two pies, a deboned, stuffed chicken, about 43 salads and beautiful home baked bread, followed by an incredible four desserts – my favourite was the chocolate Amaretto cherry tart, the husband could have happily drowned himself in the St Clements trifle. Yums.

Cherry chocolate amaretto tart and baked cheesecake

On Monday, my sister in law hosted a gathering just for the immediate family and she asked me to make a cake. I was more than happy to oblige and decided to make a orange chocolate brownie cake, with a little dusting of orange flavoured icing sugar on top. How difficult could this be? I can bake brownies, as my slutty brownies post (hopefully) proved.

Lordy, everything that could go wrong seemed to go wrong and I ended up with a cake that looked like this.

Oh dear

Yup, a gigantic baked cow pat. Or, as I fondly referred to it, a turd cake.

Clearly, a dusting of icing sugar, orange flavoured or not, wasn’t going to polish this turd so I ended up making an orange butter cream icing instead which I think made the whole thing a little too sweet but it looked so much better. And they all seemed to like it and the brownie bit actually tasted fine so this is why I’m putting the recipe below. Maybe you’ll have more luck with it, I think I was just having an off day. At least, that’s what I’m hoping.

Chocolate Orange Brownie cake with orange buttercream icing

So much better

Brownie Cake Ingredients

  • 175g butter
  • 175g dark chocolate (at least 70%) + an additional 100g all chopped into chunks
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 70g plain flour
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • Zest of two oranges

Method

  • Preheat oven to gas mark 4
  • Grease and line a 20cm cake tin, ideally with a loose bottom or springform to make it easy to remove the cake
  • Melt together the butter, 175g of chocolate, sugar and orange zest over a very low heat until it has all combined and you can’t feel any grains of sugar.
  • Add a pinch of salt and leave to cool a little – use this time to whip your egg whites into soft peaks
  • Once the butter/choc/sugar mix has cooled a little, whisk in the egg yolks and the remaining 100g of chocolate
  • Gently fold in the flour until all combined then fold in the egg whites, taking care not to lose any of the air in them
  • Spoon batter into the prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes until the top bounces back when you touch it
  • Leave to cool

A note here – when I started mixing the flour into the batter, I noticed that there was a layer of oil that just wouldn’t combine with anything. Didn’t want to put too much flour into the mix but did probably add an extra 10g or so – it didn’t help, I believe this was the start of my turd cake problems. Because of this the egg whites didn’t fold in correctly causing the “natural” pattern as seen on the cake above. 

Whilst the cake cools, prepare the icing.

I had already put aside 200g of icing sugar with the zest of two oranges to give it that orangey flavour but if you don’t have that, it’s just as easy to add the zest to the butter to make orange butter cream

Orange buttercream icing

  • 100g butter softened
  • 150g icing sugar
  • Zest of two oranges
  • 3-4 tbsps of orange juice

Method

  • Beat the butter till it’s light and fluffy – much easier to use an electric or stand mixer for this
  • Add the orange zest and icing sugar and combine
  • Slowly add the orange juice a spoonful at a time until you have a consistency you’re happy with

If you’re better at icing than me, this may look good piped – at this point I was running out of time and flustered at the state of the cake so I simply used the dump and spread method.

Despite appearances, this cake tasted much better than I thought it would so do give it a go – and if you’re cleverer than me, please explain why it looked like a poop? Thanks awfully!

The granola of unemployment (or how I learned to turn off Netflix)

I’ve now officially finished working at my last job and have spent the last four weeks or so officially not working. Which has been awesome, but I am going slightly insane, what with talking to the cat, binge watching truly terrible series on Netflix (so far four seasons of The Vampire Diaries, which is like a rubbish combination of True Blood and Buffy), hanging out with my folks and being incredibly impressed by the quality of cars in the car park when I pick my niece up from her fancy school.

So, in my downtime from all that hard work, I’m spending a lot of time in my kitchen. My 1970s monstrosity of a kitchen, but a kitchen nonetheless. And as it’s (nearly) Christmas, there’s many an aroma of cinnamon and ginger and cloves emanating from within its orange and beige interior. But baking and eating aforementioned baked goods, doesn’t really promote good heart health when the most exercise you get all day is walking from the fridge to the sofa and back again.

From my earlier post, you’ll see that I’ve been on a bit of a juice binge recently but a girl cannot live on juice alone so I’ve been experimenting with granola and crackers.

First up, granola. On paper, I should hate granola – it’s dried fruit and nuts, neither of which makes me salivate. But turns out, coating them in a mix of honey and butter and baking them with oats, seeds and the merest hint of spices and a sprinkling of dark muscovado and then baking till they’re gooey and crunchy at the same time makes them utterly delicious. And it’s incredibly simple too, you just need to decide what you want to add to the oats and seeds.

I’m using US measurements (sorry) but I couldn’t find a good granola recipe to adapt on a UK site. And besides, it is a little trial and error because everyone likes different flavours or more or less crunch so don’t panic if you’re not happy with how this turns out, just try different variants on cooking time or oven heat.

Base ingredients: 

  • 1/2 stick of butter (this is about 57g in metric measurements)
  • 1/3 cup of honey
  • 2.5 cups of oats – not the quick cook kind but proper old school oats
  • A selection of seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, etc etc)
  • 1/3 cup of sugar – I used dark muscovado because I like the treacly taste, but use whatever you have apart from icing sugar
  • Pinch of salt (about half a teaspoon but depending on what fruits you use, it could take more)
  • A selection of ground spices – cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, all work well. Add to your taste, I do about two tsps of cinnamon to half a tsp of ginger and a pinch of cloves

Other ingredients 

  • 1/2 cup of nuts – pecans, almonds, brazils, cashews all work well – I find the taste of walnut a little overpowering but that’s just personal preference
  • 3/4 cup of dried fruit – raisins, cranberries, blueberries, apricots (chopped, obviously), pineapple (I’m stopping there before this becomes a long list of fruit that can be dried- that’d be tedious)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (do this instead of the fruit or half the amounts if you’re doing a combination of fruit and chocolate)

Method

  • Preheat your oven to gas mark 6 or equivalent and line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper
  • Melt together the butter and honey over a low heat till its all combined and set aside to cool whilst you mix the dry ingredients
  • Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl including whatever nuts you choose – but don’t add the fruit at this stage
  • Mix all the dry ingredients together – using your hands seems to make it easier to get everything evenly distributed
  • Pour in the honey and butter mix and stir till every oat is coated in butter and honey
  • Spoon the mixture into the baking try and press flat
  • Bake for approximately 15-25 minutes, giving the mix a stir half way through

You’re looking for a glorious golden shade on your oats so keep an eye on them to make sure you’re not going from gloriously golden to ‘burnt toast’ – this can happen quite quickly

  • After you’ve removed the tray from the oven at the end of the cooking time, quickly stir in the dried fruit or chocolate chips of your choice and then press flat again
  • Leave to cool in the tray – after it’s cooled, you should have a crunchy toasty tray full of delicious granola – break into bite sized chunks and store in an airtight jar. I’m gifting this with some crackers for Christmas, so have put into small Kilner jars
  • It should keep fresh for a good couple of weeks like this. It’s perfect as a healthy snack, on yoghurt or as a smoothie topping. Or just with milk for breakfast – it’s terribly versatile

Today I’ve made two batches: the first featured almonds, walnuts, cranberries, raisins and the second was cherries, blueberries, pecans and dessicated coconut. I added the coconut at the first stir (halfway through the baking) so it didn’t get tooooo toasted. The second batch I screwed up a little (hell, we all make mistakes, right?) by using the wrong sized cup to measure oats so the mix is a little chewier than I’d like.

Here they are:

granola: ready for gifting Granola: raisins, cranberries, almonds Granola: blueberries, cherries, coconut

Deliciously slutty brownies

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I work in Camden (you can read my Camden musings here) and right across the road from my office is a fantastic creative space called The Camden Collective that hosts pop up stalls from up and coming designers and foodies. It was my favourite place for presents last Christmas – I’d say at least 30% of Mr Bon Bon’s presents came from there. And I’ve recently treated myself to a lovely bracelet and earrings and all sorts of other accoutrements. Basically, I love it.

I may have mentioned earlier, I fancy myself a relatively OK baker – I once had a pop up bakery with some friends (awesome fun, bloody hard work) and the main thing I learned through that was it’s so much better to make a bloody good cake than it is to bake a crap cake and cover it with glitzy icing. I’m sure I’ll write again about my particular hatred for cupcakes but I hate cupcakes. Hate the icing to cake ratio. Hate the cutesy girliness of it all. Hate that it turns grown women into jibbering wrecks. It’s a cake for crying out loud, it lasts minutes and shouldn’t cost a fiver. In fact, Sophie Heawood said it best right here.

So, last Christmas, when popping by Camden Collective for an amazing Black Sheep coffee, I happened across Dub Plates Kitchen and her fabulous slutty brownies. In a nutshell, she’d taken a brownie and made it incredible with toppings and a pie base. I have dreamed about this brownie and so, a couple of weeks ago, with #CakeFriday at work and my niece and nephew staying for the weekend, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try my own version of slutty brownies. Rather than a pie crust base (mostly because I’m hugely lazy and couldn’t be bothered to), I decided to make a biscuit base (like on a cheesecake) and used all sorts of stuff that I had in my cupboard as the toppings. And I made them in muffin cases, because I thought that’d help them bake more evenly, not because I had any cupcake desires. Have I mentioned how much I hate cupcakes?

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The basic brownie recipe was inspired by one for chilli chocolate brownies, on the beautiful Del Sole blog. I didn’t chilli them this time though. Recipe below, with some pictures. If you make them, I’d love to see how they turned out.

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Slutty Brownies – makes 15-20 muffin sized brownies

For the base:

8 x digestive biscuits
5 x ginger nuts
50g butter melted

For the brownies

200g unsalted butter
450g dark chocolate
150g strong flour
6 large eggs
400g light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt

Toppings:

Whatever you like really – I used mini-marshmallows, Smarties (although the colour ran so maybe try M&Ms), Maltesers, salted pretzels and honeycomb but if you like nuts and chocolates, peanuts or walnuts could work well. Next time I’m going to try wasabi peas, I think that’d be a rare treat.

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Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees and line a muffin tray with cases

Crush the digestive biscuits and ginger nuts to crumbs. Mix in to the 50g melted butter and spoon a couple of spoonfuls into each muffin case. Set aside to cool.

In a pan on low heat melt the butter. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir the chocolate until fully melted. Set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl combine eggs, sugar, salt and spices and mix with a electrical whisk for 5 minutes or until the mixture falls from the whisk in ribbons.

Fold in the melted cool chocolate into the egg mixture. Do so gently to avoid deflating the air in the mixture.

Sift the flour in the mixture and fold in with the spatula.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases – 2-3 tablespoons per case as it will rise a little. Grab a handful of whatever toppings you’re going for and throw them onto the top – the thing with slutty brownies is that they don’t have to look perfect, they just need to taste delicious.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes until the top of the brownie is a little cracked.

Troubleshooting

If you go with the loaf option, turn the heat of the oven down – I didn’t and ended up burning the top whilst the middle was a little undercooked

Smarties lose their colour in the heat – maybe try M&Ms

If you don’t like toasty marshmallows, then add them onto the top halfway through the cooking time