It’s National Chocolate Week 2012 and I fancied some brownies. I had a tub of ricotta to use up and some Cornish apples from my mother’s garden. So to celebrate this most auspicious week, I decided to experiment and make some apple ricotta cheesecake brownies.
This is how I made them:
- Peeled, cored and sliced two medium apples weighing 200g (unspecified Cornish variety) and placed in a pan.
- Added 50g vanilla sugar (caster) and a tbsp of water.
- Simmered for 5 minutes until the apples were soft and no longer wet. Allowed to cool.
- Stirred in 250g ricotta.
- Beat in 1 medium egg.
- Melted 100g unsalted butter in a large pan on low heat.
- Broke up a 100g bar 85% dark chocolate (G&B) and added to the pan.
- Added 200g dark muscavado sugar and stirred well until all smooth, then left to cool.
- Beat in 2 duck eggs and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.
- Stirred in 75g wholemeal spelt.
- Spooned half of the batter into a 9″ square mould, covered this with the cheese and apple mixture and then topped with the remaining batter.
- Dragged the end of a teaspoon through the mixture to try and swirl it a bit, but it stubbornly decided to stay a sandwich rather than have a marble effect.
- Baked in the middle of the oven at 180C for 25 minutes when the top had set but the middle remained slightly squidgy.
As these brownies contain local and very seasonal apples, I am entering this into Simple and in Season, guest hosted this month by Nazima of Franglais Kitchen.
I’m also entering this into Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays as it is all made from scratch – of course!
I have great pleasure in welcoming CT to my blog for his annual guest review. Crafter of language, food pioneer, gardener, botanist extraordinaire and eater of cakes, he can now be found at From our Owen Correspondent as well as at his well established blog Radix. From our Owen Correspondent is a new blog featuring various tracts from his writing career on such varied subjects as fermented foods, travels around Australasia and garden visits.
In spring, a young man’s thoughts are said to turn to love. In autumn, I find a good stroll along the Cornish coast path serves just as well as a means of delighting the senses and stocking up on joie de vivre before the winter sets in. So when Choclette suggested a walk along the Roseland Peninsula one sunny and calm day recently, I jumped at the opportunity. Roseland is a pleasant, beckoning finger of land that juts out into the sea on Cornwall’s south coast between Falmouth and Mevagissey. The coast path here has less of the patella-pummelling ups and downs which characterise some sections. I hardly know this area at all, so it seemed like a good chance to make its acquaintance.
After walking steadily for some time, we rounded a headland and before us, a few hundred yards away was Porthcurnick Beach, the home of The Hidden Hut. Indeed, we could see a squat wooden structure with a few chairs and tables placed around it just above the strand. More alarmingly, as I was beginning to suffer pangs of hunger and my throat was distinctly dry, the shutters seemed to be closed. We both exchanged anxious glances as we continued down the path and approached the beach. Then, with impeccable timing, as we crossed the sand, the shutters lifted and so did our spirits.
We plonked our bags on one of the large wooden tables, decorated with vases of flowers and proceeded to the counter. Choclette opted for a reviving mug of chai and the inevitable chocolate brownie, while I went for a more prosaic Earl Grey which I followed up with a Roskilly’s ice cream – from the lovely Jersey cows not so far away on the Lizard.
It was abundantly clear that this was no ordinary beach hut café. Not a single all day breakfast featured on the menu. In fact, al fresco gourmet dining seemed more like it – quite a surprise given the unadventurous fare walkers often have to endure when tramping the coast path.
In its current incarnation it is run by Jemma and Simon, a local couple, with Jemma’s mum, Maggie offering logistical support on the cake front. Their policy is a simple one: the best local food, prepared with love and care, for a reasonable price. And the punters have voted with their feet – literally – there’s no parking at the Hidden Hut, so everyone has to walk there, either from Portscatho, about half a mile away, or from nearby Rosevine Hill. And after the relative isolation of the walk, there did seem to be quite a few people gravitating towards this rather unpromising looking shack. Simon is a trained chef and in addition to the fare served during normal hours, he also cooks up a storm in summer (when the weather doesn’t) with great paella pans for summer evening feasts.
Jemma started to chalk up the lunch menu on the blackboards and we exchanged glances once again. The weather was lovely, the location superb and the offerings very tempting. Hang it, we thought, let’s stay for lunch now we’re here.
Choclette opted for a delicious vegetarian option, a salad of tangerine, feta, Spanish olives, mixed leaves and toasted almonds with warm pitta bread; I went for Italian meatballs with mozzarella. Both were truly delicious and consumed with gusto. Eating outdoors is a real delight and is in fact the only option here.
When the weather is with you, as it was on the day we visited, I can think of no better place to work up an appetite and eat some first class food in a lovely setting. In fact, if the wind and rain hold off, we’re going back this weekend with some friends.
I’m sure my mum told me that you shouldn’t judge a book by the cover; in future I will avoid doing the same to any hidden huts on the Cornish coast – because at least one of them is a real gem.
PS The wind and rain did hold off, we did go back with our friends yesterday and we had a celebratory birthday lunch in bright sunshine; everyone was as impressed as we had been.
A handful of teeny tiny bars of chocolate recently arrived in the post. Little bars of 53% dark Belgian chocolate, but they contain a small dark secret. They are not hand crafted artisan bars featuring single origin estate chocolate, although that would be nice, no, you eat these bars for your health. Some of us have been deluding ourselves for years that this is our main reason for eating chocolate. The Ohso claim? Weighing in at 13.5g and containing 72 calories a bar, they are packed full of healthy gut probiotics and these good bacteria last three times longer in chocolate than in milk products. This means that they arrive in better shape at the part of your gut where they do their good works. Plus chocolate is well known for its antioxidants and vitamins including D and E. These are, therefore, perhaps the ultimate chocolate detox.
Packaged in packs of seven, the idea is that you have one for each day of the week, providing your daily probiotic requirement. The mini bars have 24 mini squares, which enables the bar to be savoured slowly if wished. Retailing at £3.99, these are available online at Ohso and also in health food shops and other independent retailers.
OK, so enough of the health benefits, what do they actually taste like? The bar certainly smells chocolatey, with a sweet aroma emanating as soon as the wrapper is removed. Those first impressions are confirmed as the chocolate enters your mouth. It is pleasant with fruity notes, but is a little too sweet for me and resembles some of the mainstream dark chocolate bars which are widely available.
That goat, otherwise known as Ethel, has filled my head with thoughts of goats cheese and chocolate and I can hardly think of cooking with anything else. The fig and goats cheese tarts still have my mouth watering at the thought of them. At the weekend, rather than making my normal loaf for my work sandwiches, I thought I’d try something a little different to take in for lunch. Some lightly vinegared baby beetroot was in the hamper I received for the #capricornchallenge.
Beetroot and chocolate in cake form has become something of a classic in recent years, but I wanted to try a savoury version. I am a big fan of beetroot, CT less so. I figured that he might find beetroot more palatable contained in a savoury muffin with lots of goats cheese. And if he didn’t? I was very happy to eat them all by myself.
I was hoping the vinegar in the beetroot would combine with the yogurt and help the muffins to rise, but not make the muffins sour. I didn’t want the chocolate to dominate, but I did want it present – the proof of the pudding would literally be in the eating.
This is what I did:
- Put 300g flour (100g wholemeal, 200g white) in a mixing bowl.
- Added 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda and 1/4 tsp salt.
- Added 2 tbsp cocoa powder & whisked together to ensure all was incorporated and there were no lumps.
- Stir in 50g of chopped walnuts.
- In a separate bowl, mashed 250g of cooked beetroot in vinegar with a potato masher.
- In another bowl beat 2 medium eggs with 200ml yogurt.
- Beat in 50ml of walnut infused oil and 50ml sunflower oil.
- Beat in 100ml milk and a good good grinding of black pepper.
- Beat in the beetroot.
- Divided 100g Capricorn goats cheese into three.
- Chopped two lots into pieces and stirred into the batter.
- Chopped the third piece into twelve equal portions.
- Made a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and added the batter.
- Stirred as lightly as possible until everything was just incorporated.
- Divided between 12 silicone muffin moulds.
- Topped each with a piece of goats cheese.
- Baked at 200C for 20 minutes
- Left for a few minutes in their moulds, then turned out onto a wire rack to cool.
The shocking pink of the batter was beautiful before it went into the oven and I’m rather sorry I didn’t take a picture of it. It was brown by the time it came out, not in bad way, but not quite as impressive as I’d hoped.
These are versatile, portable and would make a great picnic item as well as a good lunch, brunch or filling breakfast. Incredible as it may seem, they kept well too – CT was sworn to eschew any more so I could finish them off for my lunch today.
Thank you Ethel for inspiring me to come up with another fabulous chocolate and goats cheese recipe.
As beetroot are looking good and in season right now, I am submitting this to Ren’s monthly Simple & in Season. It is being hosted this month by Nazima over at her new blog Franglais Kitchen.