Tag Archives: chocolate

Chocolate Truffles

These Chocolate Truffles need to come with a warning.  You may make them as gifts but you will want to keep them!!!! They are so tasty!  These Truffles consist of a silky smooth ganache in the centre and a crisp chocolate shell around the outside.  They are also incredibly versatile, you can change the flavours up as easy as anything and you really can use any chocolate here, I’ve gone for a simple milk chocolate with either milk or white shells but so long as you grasp the underlying principles they you should be able to do just about anything with this!

Chocolate Truffles

What is important is to choose the best chocolate you can and get one with the simplest list of ingredients.  You have more wiggle room for the ganache but for the outsides you do not want any weird ingredients at all, you want cocoa solids (or mass), cocoa butter, sugar and milk along with the regular stabiliser and vanilla if it’s white chocolate.  That’s it.  No vegetable fat, certainly no hazelnut paste!  That stuff is a nightmare to try and work with.  Working with chocolate doesn’t have to be complicated and you really don’t need any special equipment at all, just a few tricks!

Chocolate TrufflesChocolate Truffles

The way to mix up the flavours is to maintain the ratio of chocolate to liquid.  I’ve specified cream, and you probably want the majority of the liquid to remain cream, but you could use orange juice, jam, Baileys, Cointreau, etc!  Just keep the liquid to half the quantity of chocolate and you’re safe.  Then for the outsides you want just a little bit more than went into the insides.  If you’re frugal you can do exactly the same but I’d rather this be easy for you so go a little over!  You can scale the recipe up or down, but I wouldn’t recommend trying to work with less than 200g of chocolate as it’s much harder to maintain the temperature with a small amount.

Chocolate Truffles

That’s what working with chocolate is all about, manipulating the temperature.  Chocolate behaves in certain ways at certain temperatures and we want to get it to exactly the right temperature to make it do what we want!  Too hot or too cold and you run the risk of the chocolate blooming, forming white blobs and streaks, or just not setting for hours.  If you get it right then your chocolate should set again, shiny and smooth in around 5 minutes at room temperature.

Chocolate Truffles

Makes ~40 truffles

300g milk chocolate
150ml cream
25g butter

Making Your Ganache Filling:

– Weigh out your chocolate into a plastic bowl.  Pyrex or similar retain the heat, which makes things hard, so work with plastic bowls if at all possible.
– Break it up into small chunks.
– Measure out the butter and cut it into small pieces, add to the chocolate.
– In a small saucepan measure out the cream and then bring to a boil.  You want plenty of room in your pan as that cream is going to rise up considerably!  Watch it like a hawk and when you get to the “Oh Shit!” point take it off the heat and pour straight over the chocolate and butter.
– Very gently poke the chocolate so that it is all below the level of the cream and gently wiggle it so that it works its way into the bottom of the bowl.  DO NOT STIR YET!
– Leave the bowl to sit for a few minutes to allow all of the chocolate to soften.
– NOW you can stir it!
– To get all of the lumps out, gently work them against the side of the bowl with the back of the spoon and keep mixing until you have a silky smooth ganache.
– Pour the ganache into a piping bag ( or two if necessary, leave enough room to secure the end with a twist.
– Place in the fridge for about 30 minutes (up to 48 hours) to allow it to harden.
– Once they have chilled cover a baking tray with foil and snip the end off your piping bag leaving about a 1cm hole.
– Pipe out portions of your ganache into blobs, spacing them apart.  They don’t have to be pretty at this stage, just about equal.
– Put the tray back in the fridge for 20 minutes or so.
– Once cool pick up each truffle and very quickly roughly shape into a round ball using the tips of your fingers.  Don’t use your palms and work quick as the warmer your chocolate gets the messier and more slippery this gets!
– Place the truffle back down as soon as its done and move on to the next.

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200g white chocolate
200g milk chocolate

Tempering Your Chocolate: 

– Put your covering chocolate in a bowl (work on each kind of chocolate separately)  and very gradually microwave it for 20 second intervals, stirring each time between.  You want to stop heating your chocolate when it is about 80% melted, 20% lumpy.  Then you simply work the lumps out by squishing them against the side of the bowl with the back of the spoon until it is all smooth.  You do not want your chocolate to get too hot.  In fact, if you touch a drop of melted chocolate to your lip it should feel cool!
– When you have all of your chocolate smooth it should still be liquid but not moving too fast.  Our first test to see if it is the correct temperature (called tempered) is the ribbon test:
– Take a spoonful of chocolate and drizzle it over the bowl.  The drizzled chocolate should stand proud on top of the melted chocolate in a ribbon.  When you give the bowl a little shake it should disappear back into the smooth pool of melted chocolate.
– The second test is to take a cocktail stick or coffee stirrer and dip it in to the chocolate.  Place it on the worksurface and check it in 5 minutes.  It should be set solid without any streaks or spots.  If it is still liquid, your chocolate is too hot, test it again.  This test allows you to see how your chocolate is behaving and make sure that you are ready to work with it.
– If your chocolate starts to cool and isn’t very liquid anymore then give it another 20 second blast in the microwave to raise the heat a little and give it a good stir.  Check again using the tests above each time you do this to ensure your chocolate is ok to work with.

Dipping Your Truffles:

– When you know your chocolate is tempered take a truffle, drop it into the chocolate and gently use a fork to scoop underneath it, move it about until it is fully coated and then scoop it out, allowing the excess chocolate to drain off.  DO NOT STAB THE TRUFFLE, SCOOP IT!
– Gently tip the truffle back onto the tray.
– Apply any decorations you might like while the chocolate is wet.
– Repeat with each remaining truffle.
– By the time you are finished the first truffles should be set hard with a lovely shiny finish.  Allow them all to stand until they are all hard.
– Simply pick them up and package them as gifts or set on a tray to serve to guests!

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(I’m not going to lie, my chocolate was a little too cool to be working with here, hence the swirls, but it was late and I was in a hurry!)

 

 

 

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Filed under For the Keen Cook, Sweets

Cheesecake Brownies

I love cheesecake… I love brownies… why have I not combined the two before?????

Cheesecake Brownies

 

These are just the right side of sweet, enough sugar to give you a buzz, not so much you feel sick… although I wouldn’t advise eating more than one every 2 hours!

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The sweetness of the cheesecake combines beautifully with the slightly bitter, rich chocolate and elevates a damned fine brownie into the realm of sheer indulgence!  I think the ratio of cheesecake to brownie here is about perfect, allowing you to enjoy each without being overwhelmed.

Cheesecake Brownies

 

Makes ~15 brownies

200g unsalted butter
200g plain chocolate
3 large eggs
270g golden caster sugar
100g plain flour (ground almods
40g cocoa powder
1 large egg
100g caster sugar
200g cream cheese (FULL FAT!)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

– Heat the oven to gas mark 5/190C and line a 7″x11″ brownie tin with baking paper.
– Melt the butter and the chocolate together then leave to cool a little. (Short sharp bursts in the microwave or over a pan of boiling water.)
– In a large jug mix the 3 eggs and the sugar until well combined.
– Add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly as you go.  (Make sure the chocolate isn’t too hot or you could cook your eggs!)
– Add the flour and cocoa powder and fold into the chocolate mixture.
– In a new bowl or jug mix together the egg and caster sugar.
– Add the cream cheese and mix until smooth.
– Stir through the vanilla extract.
– Pour 2/3 of the brownie mixture into your prepared tin.
– Pour over the cheesecake mixture.
– Add the remaining brownie mixture in dollops and give a bit of a swirl about to mingle the two.
– Bake for ~45 minutes until the mixtures are set but still slightly soft, you don’t want any wobble left.  The cheesecake should just be starting to brown around the edges.  The surface should be firm, if you can poke your finger through it, it’s not done!  If the centre seems too squishy give them another 5 minutes and repeat until the centre is set and bouncy.

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Filed under Easy, Teatime Treats

Vegan Surprise Inside Cake

This delicious cake with a “surprise inside” wasn’t actually meant to be vegan.  I was playing around with different ideas and it was only when I came to write down the recipe that I realised that it was actually vegan!  Which was another happy surprise!

I decided to go for a simple bone shape hidden inside this cake as Halloween is so nearly upon us.  I contemplated doing a bat but unfortunately the cutter was too wide for the loaf tin!  This cake has a lovely springy, dense texture and is a brilliant option for kids as the cake doesn’t crumble when subjected to rough toddler handling.  This cake is really robust and travels well, even through the post!

Vegan Surprise Inside Cake

Makes 1 large loaf (plus a whole bunch of chocolate offcuts!)

Chocolate Cake:
2 cups self raising flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 cup of soft brown sugar
1 large tablespoon of Trex (or another solid vegetable fat, coconut oil might work well here!) 
2 tablespoons of golden syrup (I just go for one hulking great dollop!)
1 cup of soya milk

Orange Cake:
2 cups self raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 cup of golden caster sugar
1 large tablespoon of Trex (or another solid vegetable fat, coconut oil might work well here!) 
2 tablespoons of golden syrup (Again, one hulking great dollop!)
1 cup of soya milk
zest and juice of one orange

– Heat the oven to gas mark 3 / 170C. Line a large loaf tin with baking parchment or similar.
– Measure out the flour, cocoa, bicarb and sugar into a large mixing bowl.
– Place the soya milk, golden syrup and Trex in a small saucepan.
– Gently heat until the Trex and golden syrup are melted.
– Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, mix well to combine completely.
– Scrape out the mixture into the loaf tin.
– Bake for 30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
– Remove the cake from the oven, lift out of the tin by the paper and allow to cool.
– Slice your cake into thick slices the depth of your chosen cutter.
– Cut out one shape from each slice and place to one side.
Now for the orange cake!
– Heat the oven to gas mark 3 / 170C. Line the same large loaf tin with baking parchment or similar.
– Measure out the flour, bicarb and sugar into a large mixing bowl.
– Place the soya milk, golden syrup and Trex in a small saucepan.
– Gently heat until the Trex and golden syrup are melted.
– Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, add the zest and juice of the orange and mix well to combine completely.
– Scrape 1/3 of the mixture into the loaf tin, level it out.
– Place your cut out shapes in a neat row along the centre loaf tin, pressing down gently into the cake mixture below.
– Carefully scrape the rest of the cake batter out on top of the chocolate cake shapes.
– Bake for 30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
– Remove the cake from the oven, lift out of the tin by the paper and allow to cool.
– Peel off the paper and serve!

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Filed under Cakes, Dairy Free, Low Fat, Moderately easy

Melt-In-The-Middle Chocolate Salted Caramel Puddings

I don’t think anyone of my acquaintance can resist those words once seen on a menu.  (If they can then we tend not to remain friends long!) Melt-In-The-Middle is always a good start.  Chocolate, sure fire winner there.  Salted caramel… SOLD!

Melt In The Middle

The best thing is that contrary to everything Masterchef, Great British Bake Off, etc have told you these are actually very easy to make.  Can you mess it up? Yes, as with everything if you’re not paying attention you just get puddings and won’t get the melt in the middle.  But we all know that you’ll be paying attention, right?

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These things are so tempting and delightful that the anticipation won’t let you stray far from the oven for the wonderfully short baking time that they have.  You’ll want to stay close, cooing at them as they rise may be… Oh…  just me then?

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How could you not want to coo at them though? Just looking at them makes me want to dash to the kitchen and whip up a batch.  And that’s the other great thing about them.  You can whip them up as a last minute dessert without any hassle at all.  You can even (if you really really must) just make these as chocolate puddings if you don’t have any toffees in the house… (what kind of house do you live in???)

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Now, if I wanted to go all Bake Off on you I could tell you to make the toffee from scratch and the same with the caramel sauce… but these are supposed to be easy!  If it pleases you, fine, knock yourself out.  But these are a quick, no fuss, high in wow factor dessert just perfect for the recent cold turn the weather has taken.  Ultimate luxury and comfort on a plate!

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Makes 4

100g plain chocolate
100g unsalted butter (plus extra for greasing)
150g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
50g flour
1 packet toffee/treacle toffee/soft caramels (not normal Werther’s Originals!)
200ml double cream
sea salt

– Heat the oven to gas mark 6/ 200C.
– Break up/slice up the chocolate and butter into a microwave proof bowl.
– Microwave for about 1 minute until all of the butter and most of the chocolate is melted.
– Stir until the remaining lumps of chocolate have dissolved and the mixture is combined.
– Set aside to cool a little. (I usually do the microwaving bit first then go get all of the other ingredients together.)
– Thoroughly grease 4 ramekin dishes with butter and place on a baking tray for easy maneuverability later.
– In a large jug or bowl thoroughly mix together the eggs, sugar and vanilla with a hand whist.
– Slowly pour in the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture, stirring constantly with your whisk.  If you can pour from a bit of a height so much the better!
– When it is all nicely combined add your flour and mix in.
– Divide the mixture evenly between the buttered ramekins.  The mixture should come just over halfway up.
– Put a toffee in the centre of each pudding.  Just rest it on the top, no need to submerge it.  Add a tiny pinch of sea salt to each toffee.
– Put in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes.
– Every oven varies so you’re going to have to check them at regular intervals once you get to 10 minutes.  The time between totally molten (puddle of goo) and totally cooked (cake) is not great and you want to hit it right in the middle.  If you can see any shiny cake batter where the cap lifts then they need longer, the edges should be a matt, cooked colour.  There shouldn’t be any obvious wobble, we want a squishy middle, not a squishy everything!  If you poke the top gently the crust should hold but there should be a little bit of movement in it.  If your finger goes through the delicate crust, it’s not done!  It sounds tricky but actually its really easy to eyeball when the edges are cooked enough to hold the pudding together.  If in doubt an extra minute in the oven (with a very close eye) is probably not going to hurt it.
– Remove from the oven and gently run a thin bladed knife around the outside of the pudding to loosen it.  (Remember, sugar burns are not sexy so it’s ok to let these sit for a minute or two before serving but don’t leave them for too long as you want them warm.)
– Put the cream and remaining toffees in a small pan and gently heat until the toffees have melted and the cream is hot.  Mix together well so all of the toffee dissolves and you get a pale caramel sauce.  Add a pinch of sea salt to taste and mix well.  (Can also be done in the microwave but watch the cream, it WILL boil up high!)
– Turn out the puddings carefully onto a plate.  They should slip right out.  You may find the the toffee has sunk to the bottom and a little bit remains behind, just scoop this out and pop it back on top.
– Pour over the caramel sauce to serve.
– Luxuriate!

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Filed under Desserts, Easy, Moderately easy

Slow Cooker Chocolate Chilli

I love chilli. It’s such a comfort food. Especially when you get to load it up with cheese! Some weeks I know going in that work is going to kick my ass. So I try to be prepared. If I make a vat of chilli at the beginning of the week I know I have a home cooked meal ready and waiting for me whenever I make it home. The red meat is going to help me get through and give me a much needed iron boost and the veggies that are hidden in there mean that I’m not missing out on too many vitamins. All in all this chilli recipe is a real lifesaver. I love this mix of spices, if you don’t have smoked paprika in your arsenal I highly recommend it, it really adds an edge to the dishes you use it in. The chocolate is a nice little addition too, subtle but very worth it!

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750g beef mince
1 onion, chopped
1 large pepper, finely chopped (I only used green to use the damned thing up! Nigella is right, they’re simply unripe!)
2 sticks celery, finely sliced
1 beef stock cube, crumbled
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smokey paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2x400g tins chopped tomatoes
5tbsp tomato purée
1tbsp granulated sugar
50g dark chocolate, broken into chunks
400g tin red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

– I love slow cooking because the directions basically boil down to this: Throw everything but the kidney beans in a slow cooker, give it a stir and then put the lid on and leave overnight/through the day. 8 hours is what you’re aiming for.
– When you’re ready to eat it you add the kidney beans and leave for another 30 minutes. If you left it to cook overnight and switched it off during the day you can put it back on high with the kidney beans in there until it heats through.
– Serve with rice or nachos, creme fraiche and cheese!

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Filed under Easy, Mains

Chocolate Rapeseed Oil Cake

This Chocolate Rapeseed Oil Cake recipe was the result of a Clandestine Cake Club challenge.  The theme was Blind Date.  You had to bake a cake you had never baked or tasted before.  Now, this was a challenge in a lot of ways.  First, if I haven’t tasted a cake before it’s because I don’t think I’m going to like it.  Why would I bake something I won’t like?  Second, I like to have something reliable when baking for others.  I want to know how the recipe is going to work and what tweaks I might need to make to have something I’ll be proud of.  With this challenge I really was flying blind!

Chocolate Rapeseed Oil Cake

I hit upon Nigella’s Chocolate Olive Oil Cake because she happend to have tweeted about it around that time.  I like chocolate but I had never tasted an olive oil based cake before.  However, there was the small issue that I don’t like olives.  I use olive oil all the time in cooking where I’ll never taste the oliveyness but I felt that this was one of those times where it would make a difference.  I happened to have a bottle of Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil just begging to be used.  I love the nutty flavour of rapeseed oil, it’s just gorgeous, and I thought this would compliment the almonds nicely.  I was right, it gives a gorgeous nutty flavour and really gives another dimension to the cake.  I’m really keen on trying to use this oil in more cooking in the future.  I think it has a lot of potential!

The end result is a gorgeous nutty, moist, brownie like cake which would be a perfect dinner party dessert cake.  (Imagine it piled up with raspberries or other summer fruits and served with lashings of whipped cream if you will!)  However, it also held its own as a simple cake without any adornment.  The rich chocolateyness of the cake means it really doesn’t need any help to be delicious and the decadent squidgy texture will certainly have you coming back for more!

Chocolate Rapeseed Oil Cake Washing Up

Serves 16

50g cocoa powder
125ml boiling water
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g ground almonds
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
150ml rapeseed oil (Yorkshire if you please!)
200g golden caster sugar
3 eggs

– Heat the oven to gas mark 5/190C and grease and line a 23cm springform cake tin.
– Put the cocoa powder in a mug then pour over the boiling water and the vanilla.  Mix together until you get a delicious looking chocolaty paste (don’t taste it, it’ll be gross!) Leave to cool while you do the rest.
– Mix the almonds, salt and bicarb together in a small bowl.
– In a large mixing bowl combine the eggs, sugar and rapeseed oil.
– Use a handheld electric whisk to beat the sugar, eggs and oil until plae and thick.
– Add the cocoa paste to this mixture and beat in.
– Add the almond mixture and gently fold in until everything is totally combined.
– Pour the mixture intot he prepared tin and bake int he centre of the oven for 45-50 minutes.  It should look just set int he middle and a skewer will come out clean when it is cooked.
– Allow it to cook for 10 minutes in the tin then run a sharp knife (I actually always use a thin bone handled knife for this) round the edge fo the cake to loosen it.  Then unspring your tin and either leave to cool completely or serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

 

 

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Filed under Cakes, Dairy Free, Desserts, Easy, Gluten Free

My Pre-Christmas Dinner 2012

I held my annual Pre-Christmas Dinner at the beginning of December.  My aim was to have it posted by Christmas… then the New Year… then within a month of the dinner… and now I’ve reached the point where all of these deadlines have gleefully sailed by and I have finally managed to sit down and “put pen to paper” as it were.

This year I had a theme to follow.  Chocolate!  With the new year I have finally left my boring office job behind and have made a very exciting move to work at York Cocoa House.  This is, in part at least, why I have been so busy and have not managed to post my special Chocolate Themed Pre-Christmas Dinner before now.

Green Pasta 1

For a starter we had Christmas Tree Raviolli.  Green spinach pasta stuffed with a wild mushroom, ricotta and cocoa filling.  To make spinach pasta you follow the same method as for regular pasta but you start with 200g fresh spinach and rinse it with water.  Put it in a pan on a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the spinach wilts.  Put the wilted spinach in a sieve over a bowl and leave to drain.  Give it a bit of a squidge with the back of a spoon to encourage it.  When it has drained you want to chop it into incredibly fine bits.  Just keep chopping at it.  You can practice your cheffy knife skills a bit!

Green Pasta 3

Then you take your wilted spinach, 1 egg and 250g pasta flour and mix it into a smooth dough with your hands.  Roll the dough, either by hand or using a pasta maker if you haev one.  Then you cut out Chritmas tree shapes from the dough and put a teaspoon of filling in the middle of one of your shapes.  Brush water round the edge and press another shape on top of the first to seal in the filling.  Repeat as necessary until all of your dough and filling is used up.

The filling was essentially finely chopped mushrooms and shallots sauteed and repeatedly reduced down with white wine, mushroom stock and eventually ricotta stirred through with 2 tbsp 100% cocoa grated in.  I was freestyling rather so I don’t have an exact recipe!

Turkey Roulade 1

For our main course we had Turkey Roulade.  I took a frozen butter basted turkey crown from Tescos and defrosted it, removed the skin and butterflied it.

I made a stuffing out of 400g italian sausage meat, 125g smoked bacon lardons, 100g bread crumbs, 75g dried cranberries, 3 tbsp cocoa nibs, 1 tbsp grated 100% cocoa, 1/2 tin of chopped chestnuts and 1 small egg.  Season well then mash it all together with your hands.

Spread it over the butterflied turkey crown.  Roll it up tightly.  Wrap the whole thing tightly with pancetta.  Roast the whole thing in an oven heated to gas mark 6 for 2 hours.   Slice and serve with seasonal vegetables of your choice.

Turkey Roulade 2

For dessert we had Black Forest Mousses.  I made Nigella’s Chocolate Mousse but with Cherry Liqueur instead of Cointreau.  Topped with a lick of whipped cream and scattered with cocoa nibs I spooned Amarena Cherries into the bottom of martini glasses before filling them.

Black Forest Mousse

It was a lovely evening with my mum, dad, sister and her new boyfriend, and let’s not forget the dog! I’m having fun experimenting with chocolate in a number of different ways now that I have discovered a whole range of possibilities that I never knew exited before.  This meal was a nice little way to dip my toe into those possibilities and I look forward to experimenting some more!

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Filed under Christmas, Desserts, Easy, Mains, Starters