When I first saw the Caked Crusaders post for Syrup Crunch Biscuits, I was keen to make these most tempting sounding treats. I was planning on baking some to take away with us on holiday, but I stupidly didn’t bookmark the post and then couldn’t remember where I’d seen it. I’d even bought cornflakes specially, not something we normally have in the house; I had to fend off CT, who is rather partial to a bowl of them. As it happened the apple cake we took with us was plenty, so it’s just as well I didn’t find the recipe. Thankfully Baking Addict had also decided she liked the look of these biscuits and thus reminded me where I’d first seen them.
Well I’m sure most of you will have heard of the French TV pastry chef Eric Lanlard and Baking Mad. Even I have heard of both him and the programme and I don’t have a television. The Baking Mad website is full of recipe ideas as well as tips, tricks and competitions. I was asked to choose a recipe from this site and make it – chocolate honeycomb squares it had to be.
Dom’s random recipe challenge this month is to randomly pick something from our stashes of magazines, cuttings and pull-outs. He knows us so well; don’t we all have a pile of those lurking around somewhere, trying to attract our attention and making us feel guilty? In my more organised moments, I gather clippings and old envelope jottings and put them in folders – three in fact, one for sweet stuff, one for savoury and one for Christmas. Annoyingly, I haven’t got organised enough to have one for chocolate. However, I’m not as efficient as I’d like to be, so most of them are still lying about the house in various places or used as bookmarks. I was NOT going to embark on a mega house-clearance and recipe sort out week, so I put my hand into the file for sweet recipes, hoped for the best and pulled out ……. another apple cake recipe!!!!!
With a friend due for supper last week, loads of spare apples and some bread in need of using up, I knew immediately what I wanted to make for pudding. I grew up calling a stewed apple base with a bread crumb top Apple Charlotte, but apparently that is not correct. Apple Charlotte seems to be more like a summer pudding but using apples rather than summer berries. According to the great god Google, a Brown Betty is what I’ve been referring to all these years. Anyway, this is what I did, making it up as I went along:
- Blitzed 3oz of my rye sourdough into bread crumbs.
- Stirred in 1 tbsp demerara sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon and a grating of nutmeg.
- Melted 1oz butter with 1 heaped tbsp golden syrup and stirred into the bread.
- Peeled, cored and sliced 2 large Cornish cooking apples and 4 small red fleshed ones we found on a wayside tree.
- Buttered a small pie dish and piled in the apple slices.
- Sprinkled 2 tbsp demerara sugar over the apples.
- Scattered 50g chopped dark orange flavoured chocolate over this.
- Spooned the bread crumb mixture over the top of the chocolate.
- Baked for 25 minutes at 180C.
The picture may be rubbish – it was dark, but this was so good, I wonder why I’ve never made it before. The bread crumb top was deliciously spicy and nicely crunchy. The chocolate had melted comfortingly into the apples which were soft and juicy and the dollop of creme fraiche over the top was the perfect finishing tough. The three of us polished it off quick time as the conversation drifted from marine biology to tango dancing via druidic studies.
To celebrate her new blog home, Kate of What Kate Baked (formerly Kates Cakes & Bakes) has issued an Autumnal Challenge to bake something homely, comforting, warming and autumnal. She even has a prize up for grabs. This pud fits the bill nicely – in my humble opinion!
A tad cheekily, but I’m fast running out of time and have a long queue of posts waiting patiently to be published, I am also submitting this to Fabulicious Food’s Simple and in Season.
When Chele announced that this month we were to make something suitable for the We Should Cocoa first birthday party, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I’d been eyeing up Pam Corbin’s Chocolate Cake recipe since I first acquired her excellent book Cakes (no 8 in the River Cottage Handbook series). I was intrigued by her use of drinking chocolate powder in the recipe.
A few weeks ago, an unexpected parcel arrived in the post. Childlike I know, but I still get very excited by parcels, especially unexpected ones. Having reviewed these drinking chocolates back in June, Steenbergs thought I might like to try a tin of their chilli version. And a tin with a label on it too. Last time, they were still waiting for the labels to be printed, so I received two unlabelled tins – which was fine by me as I can now use them for other purposes.
Of the three drinking chocolate varieties, this was my favourite. It has a real kick to it and I love the warmth it leaves behind in mouth, throat and stomach. It’s not quite as sweet as the others either, which gave it the thumbs up from me. I’d happily sip on this all winter long. But a word of warning, this one is not for the faint hearted; CT thought it was like a hot iron fist concealed within an unctuous velvet glove.
I had a thought that this would be rather good used in a cake. I duly made one and it worked just as I’d hoped; more on that later.
Last month, Vanessa Kimbell came up with an inspiring thought – to practice random bakes of kindness. I so liked this idea when I first read it. Nearly two years ago now, I baked for the good burghers of Liskeard and was well rewarded with the delight expressed through their words and smiles, but sadly I haven’t really done anything similar since. So, I had an idea. The staff at Liskeard Railway Station, who I see so much of through my daily commute to work have a very hard time of it. They are the ones often on the receiving end of all the manifestations of travellers’ frustrations when the trains are delayed or cancelled or the ticket queues are too long; they don’t have an easy time of it. So, brightening up their day a little seemed like a nice thing to do.
Not having much time to spare, needing something portable and harbouring a big bag of cooking apples I thought these Apple Oatmeal Cookies would fit the bill nicely – especially when some chocolate was added to the mix. This is what I did:
- Creamed 4oz unsalted butter with 5.5 oz cardamom sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in 1 duck egg.
- Mixed in 3oz wholemeal flour, 5 oz oats and 1/2 tsp baking powder.
- Peeled, cored and finely chopped in 1 cooking apple and mixed that in together with 2oz 40% milk chocolate drops.
- Placed teaspoonfuls well apart on two trays – one using my new silicone mat and another lined with baking paper.
- Baked at 180C for 10 minutes.
Unfortunately, things did not go according to plan and although these biscuits were undoubtedly delicious, they were in no fit state to be given away. When I opened the oven, I gasped in horror. All the cookies from the tray on the bottom shelf had run together and looked a terrible mess. Oh well, I thought, at least the top tray (on my new silicone mat) looks good. They may have looked good, but they were horrendously stuck to the silicone mat and the bottoms of the biscuits came away from the tops. Don’t be fooled by the pictures. Disaster. Mission aborted.
I called on the emergency services in the form of CT to help with the clean up operation. I have to say, crumbs, they were really delicious.
As I’d run out of time, I did a mini bake of kindness with these Rock Cakes, but the staff at Liskeard station had to wait for theirs.
A very tempting and pretty bag of Hokey Pokey arrived in the post recently from the Chocolate Society. I am a big fan of honeycomb, but often find the commercial stuff too sweet for me these days. When I was younger and had a sweeter tooth, the inevitable Crunchie bars were one of my favourites. Now when I see lovley crunchy, light golden, perforated chunks of sweetness it brings back nostalgic memories of childhood sweet making. How I used to marvel at the bubbling, frothing toffee when the bicarb was added and it looked the next best thing to a lava flow.
It was all I could do not to get stuck into this straight away, especially when I unwrapped the package and a sweet and chocolatey aroma pervaded my senses. It was not long after taking the obligatory photos that my resistance ran out. Mmmm, pure heaven.
This honeycomb is a rather more sophisticated version of the Crunchie and is covered in Valrhona’s 40% milk chocolate which is not anything like as sweet and contains a lot more cocoa. The honeycomb was perfect, just the right amount of caramel notes and a good texture – I have nearly broken my teeth on hard lumps in the past. The verdict? This is one yummy bag of deliciousness.
I have to say I wolfed these down rather faster than I should have and CT only got a small look in. He thought the honeycomb was more fragrant than your average Crunchie and the chocolate was thicker, creamier and tastier.
If you’d like to try this honeycomb, The Chocolate Society have kindly offered followers of this blog a 20% discount through their online shop. Use CHOCLETTE as the discount code.
We are just back from a rather damp week spent on the Lizard. For those wondering, the Lizard is not a large scaly reptile, although there is a reptilian link. It’s a peninsula lying at the most southerly point of mainland UK and is made of serpentine rock. It’s actually a piece of sea floor which somehow ended up in the wrong place. The serpentine has unusual chemical properties which leads to a unique habitat, making it a Mecca for botanists – CT was in his element. Despite the fact we only had one morning of sun the entire duration of our stay, it wasn’t as wet as it might have been and we had a lovely time, spoilt only by the fact it passed far too quickly.
Before leaving, the big question was what cake to take with us? On our last stay there, two years ago, I made a well remembered chocolate mayonnaise cake which was not only delicious but lasted the whole week. I needed to replicate the delicious and lasting qualities, but wanted something a little different. In the end, the sheer number of apples I’d been given sealed the deal, it just had to be an apple cake. Leafing through my many recipe books and scraps of paper, I finally plumped for an Apple & Hazelnut cake. I’ve had this recipe for at least 14 years but have never actually made it and where it came from is now lost in the mists of time. I adapted it to include chocolate of course and made a few other amendments along the way, including brandy soaked sultanas.
This is what I did:
- Soaked 3oz sultanas in 1 tbsp brandy for a couple of hours (overnight would have been better).
- Spent an age cracking the last of last year’s hazelnuts, then toasted 3oz of them.
- When cool, blitzed them in a coffee grinder.
- Peeled, cored and chopped 1 lb cooking apples
- Creamed 8oz unsalted butter with 6oz cardamom sugar.
- Beat in 3 duck eggs.
- Stirred in 2 tsp dried orange zest.
- Sieved in 12oz flour (half wholemeal and half white), 1.5 tsp baking powder, a pinch of salt and 1 tsp cinnamon.
- Mixed in the apple and hazelnuts.
- Stirred in sultanas and 3oz milk chocolate drops (40%).
- Spooned into a 23cm cake mould.
- Sliced an unpeeled dessert apple and placed slices around the top.
- Scattered over 2 tbsp demerara sugar
- Baked for 45 mins at 180C.
Luckily the cake was delicious and it did last us the week, although with the various other treats we had whilst we were there, we probably shouldn’t have had any cake at all.
Here are a few highlights of our trip in no particular order of merit or occurrence:
Walking the coastal path on that first sunny morning somewhere near Kennack Sands.
Spotting our first view of Cornish Heath (Erica vagans) this year – no longer at its best but always exciting as the Lizard is one of the very few places that it grows in the UK.
Dodging showers around Trewidden Gardens, Penzance – 1st visit and the most impressive grove of tree ferns we’ve seen in the UK.
Kynance Cove as we saw it two years ago – this time it was hard to discern through the thick mist.
The biggest swathe of Devil’s Bit Scabious either of us have ever seen.
Dragonfly on CT’s knee.
The delightful fishing village of Cadgwith.
Posh nosh at New Yard Restaurant, Trelowarren.