Vegetarian food blog featuring nourishing home cooked recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

Sour Cherry Brownies – A Miracle

Brownies & Blondies | 28th June 2013 | By

This is another post that’s been sitting in my archives for a very long time and one I keep thinking I must post as it might be useful to others. I call these miracle brownies, because just as I thought they were a complete flop and I was panicking about running out of time to make a substitute, a long shot paid off and they came together quite miraculously.

Sour Cherry Brownies

In my humble opinion, no self respecting cake display is complete without some brownies. So when I was planning what to bake for my friend’s house party, I knew some sort of brownies would need to be included. As it happened, I came across a recipe for Chocolate and Cherry Brownies in Green&Black’s Unwrapped when I was looking for another recipe. Brilliant, I had two bars of G&B’s sour cherry chocolate I’d bought at some point just waiting for the right occasion. I have a particular fondness for this bar, it’s a 60% dark chocolate packed full of sour cherries. The bitter, sweet and sour makes for a terrific combination. So substituting this for the dried cherries in the recipe, adding some cocoa and scaling it down by a third, this is what I did:

  • Melted 200g unsalted butter in a pan over low heat with 2 x 100g bars of dark cherry chocolate.
  • With electric beaters, whisked 300g vanilla sugar (granulated) with 4 eggs (1 duck & 3 medium hen’s) and a pinch of Pink Himalayan salt for several minutes until thick and tripled in volume.
  • Stirred the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.
  • Sifted in 130g flour (half wholemeal, 1/2 white) and 1 tbsp cocoa then folded in until just incorporated.
  • Poured into a 9″ sq cake mould and baked at 180C for 25 minutes.
  • Left to cool and tried to cut into 36 squares BUT disaster, the mixture had not only sunk but was still liquid! Having spent the day baking cakes, I’d had enough at this point, so covered them up and went to bed.
  • In the morning with a clearer head, I thought there was nothing to lose by attempting to rebake them. So back into the oven they went for a further 12 minutes.
  • Amazingly, the mixture rose again – it was a miracle!
  • At this point, I was convinced I’d overdone them, but on cooling and cutting this time, they were just about perfect.
Sour Cherry Brownies

So, I learnt a really useful lesson here. Brownies can be doubly baked with no harm coming to them at all. The brownies were so good, I vowed I would make them again as soon as possible – nearly two years on, I still haven’t done so.

Lemon Cupcakes & a chance to win a Range Cooker

5 Star, Cupcakes | 24th June 2013 | By

Lemon and White Chocolate Cupcakes

Cupcakes took Britain by storm a few years ago. They made their way over from the USA and all but eclipsed our smaller traditional fairy cakes. Each year, the food gurus proclaim that cupcakes are in decline and some new cake fad will see them off, but I have yet to witness this phenomenon. Cupcakes remain extremely popular: there are numerous cookbooks, cafes and online shops dedicated to them and very few baking blogs that have not featured them at least once. I am no exception to this rule as you can probably tell by the number of cupcakes I have made. Cupcakes, fairy cakes, call them what you will, I am quite a fan. They are easy to bake and everyone gets to have their very own carefully crafted cake in miniature form. I love the way they are so easily adapted to create a myriad of little fancies. Change the base, alter the type or flavour of icing, add a surprise something in the middle – the adaptations are endless.  They can be things of great beauty, but for me, as with all cake, the quality of flavour, texture and ingredients are what it’s really about.

Competition

The good folk of Range Cookers have a rather exciting baking competition for bloggers. You guessed it – cupcakes. Bake your cupcake of choice and be in with a chance of winning a 90df Select Range Cooker worth nearly £1,000.

All you have to do is bake and decorate some cupcakes, photograph them, write a blog post about how you made them and mention the Range Cookers brand. Don’t forget to acknowledge your sources, if relevant. Your creations will be judged by a panel of three (ow which I am one) and you have until midday on 12th August to get your entries in. Blog links should be sent via e-mail, Twitter or Facebook; you can see the full details on the competition website.

I am very excited to announce that one of the three judges will be me and I’m really looking forward to seeing all of those Cupcake Creative entries.

Lemon and White Chocolate Cupcakes

To get you in the mood and to inspire beginners and experienced bakers alike, how about these lemon and white chocolate cupcakes? As my initial inspiration, I used the lemon cupcake recipe from Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery by Martha Swift & Lisa Thomas.

This is how I made:

Lemon and White Chocolate Cupcakes

  • Lined two 6 hole muffin tins with spotted yellow cupcake cases.
  • Preheated the oven to 180C.
  • Using a wooden spoon, creamed 100g of softened unsalted butter with 200g cardamom sugar (golden caster) in a large mixing bowl until the the mixture was light and well combined.
  • Beat in 2 duck eggs (large hens eggs can be used instead), using a tbsp of the flour after the first egg to prevent curdling.
  • Grated in the zest of one organic lemon (scrub well with soap and water if unwaxed) and beat until smooth and creamy.
  • Sieved in 175g flour (half wholemeal, half plain white) with 1 rounded tsp baking powder stirred in.
  • Added 4 tbsp milk and 4 tbsp lemon juice. Stirred until just combined.
  • Spooned into 12 cupcake cases and baked for 22 minutes until well risen, golden and a cocktail stick inserted came out clean.
  • Allowed to cook in the tins for 10 minutes then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Lemon Chantilly Cream

  • Melted 75g good quality unflavoured white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Stirred and left to cool slightly.
  • Whisked 200g double cream and the grated zest of an organic lemon with a balloon whisk until soft peaks formed.
  • Stirred a couple of tbsp into the white chocolate, then folded the white chocolate mixture into the remaining cream until just combined.
  • Used a palate knife to swirl the Chantilly cream over the tops of the cold cakes.
  • Decorated with lemon jelly slices and yellow sprinkles.
Lemon and White Chocolate Cupcake

Well, the lemon Chantilly cream was even more delicious than that used for the Raspberry Tarts. Luckily I had a bit left over so was able to savour it in its unadulterated form. Having said that, the cake was delicious too – moist and moreish with a nice tang of citrus. I put a plateful in a basket and trotted off to town to deliver a bit of midsummer cheer to a couple of friends. They were received gratefully. I did, however, keep a few in reserve for CT and me.

Raspberry Tarts

In a really busy year, this month seems to have been the busiest of the lot; I’ve tried to be creative by combining as many entries to blog challenges as possible – regular readers will have spotted this from earlier posts. I think I’ve done pretty well, but there are two further challenges I want to enter: One Ingredient and Classic French. In addition, I needed to bake something from Eric Lanlard’s latest book Chocolat which I was recently sent for review.

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Chocadoodledoo Cake – We Should Cocoa #34

As soon as I heard that Victoria had chosen mint as this month’s We Should Cocoa ingredient, I knew immediately I wanted to use fresh mint. We have an abundance of both spearmint and peppermint growing down at the plot and it seemed criminal not to use some of it for this challenge. That’s as far as I got for a while, but then along came the Cornish strawberries. Warmed by the sun (we did get a few days of it), I couldn’t resist the scent of an enticing tray of them as I passed by our local greengrocers – the decision to incorporate strawberries marinaded in mint syrup was made. The next leap was simple, Kate had set layer cakes as this month’s Tea Time Treats challenge, so that is what I planned to do. The last piece of the jigsaw came from Janine who chose cocktails for her Baking with Spirit challenge. Woohoo, last year I came up with the cocktail Chocadoodledoo, using vodka, chocolate, mint and cream, so all I had to do was use some of my mint schnapps and add cream. So, maybe the strawberries didn’t quite fit in, but it is June for goodness sake and it’s meant to be summer. I used Pam Corbin’s recipe in Cakes for the Genoese but used duck eggs and buckwheat flour to make it gluten free.

This is how I made:

Chocolate Genoese with Minted Strawberry Cream

  • Heated 100g golden caster sugar with 100 ml water in a pan and simmered for a few minutes. Added a handful of spearmint leaves, covered the pan and simmered for a further 5 minutes. Turned off the heat and left to infuse for an hour.
  • Stirred in 1 tbsp homemade mint schnapps. 
  • Melted 75g unsalted butter in a pan over low heat.
  • Using electric beaters, beat 125g of golden caster sugar and a pinch of Himalayan pink salt with 4 duck eggs for about 10 minutes on high speed, when the mixture was pale, thick and had quadrupled in volume.
  • Sifted in 100g of buckwheat flour with 25g cocoa powder in two batches. Folded each batch into the eggs as gently as possible.
  • Poured the cooled butter down the side of the bowl and folded in – again as gently as possible.
  • Divided between two 8 inch cake moulds and baked at 180C for 22 minutes when the tops were firm and a cake tester came out clean.
Meanwhile
  • Roughly chopped a punnet of Cornish Strawberries and poured over two tbsp of the mint syrup. Stirred and left to infuse.
  • As soon as the cakes came out of the oven poured the remaining syrup over the tops, then left for 15 minutes.
  • Turned out onto a wire rack and left to cool completely.
  • Whisked 150 ml whipping cream until peaks formed.
  • Spooned the strawberries and juice over one cake, then covered with the cream.
  • Placed the remaining cake on top and dusted with icing sugar.

The cake was as light as a feather and disappeared rather too quickly. The mint gave a subtle cooling quality which was refreshing and the slight alcoholic kick added a frisson of sophistication. The strawberries and cream did exactly what was required of them. The rain may have poured down, but it felt like summer in our house as we gorged on this delicious minted strawberry and cream chocolate cake.

Victoria of A Kick at the Pantry Door is hosting this month’s We Should Cocoa and she has chosen mint as the ingredient to accompany chocolate.

Kate of What Kate Baked has chosen layer cakes for this month’s Tea Time Treats – a tea time table which is always groaning with goodies and is co-hosted by Karen of Lavender and Lovage.

Janine of Cake of the Week has given us cocktails for this month’s Baking with Spirit, so I am contributing my Chocadoodledoo cake based on my Chocadoodledoo cocktail.

I’m also entering this to Karen’s Cooking with Herbs as both the cake and strawberries are infused with fresh mint.

Whilst I’m at it, I may as well enter it into Ren’s Simple and in Season as it features both mint and strawberries.

Weekend Herb Blogging is a weekly challenge with a long vintage; it was started back in 2008 by Cook almost Anything. It is hosted this week by Marta of mangiare e un po’ come viaggiare.

And of course I mustn’t forget Made with Love Mondays on Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w/Luv.

And finally, I think, I’m linking this up to Recipe of the Week with Emily of A Mummy Too. It does what it says on the tin!

Love Bake Nourish – a Review

Book Reviews | 16th June 2013 | By

love bake nourish book review

One wet lunchtime at work, I was browsing around Waterstones as I occasionally do and I spotted the title Love Bake Nourish by Amber Rose. The title drew me in, so I picked up the book and had a look. I knew then that she had beaten me to it: this is exactly the kind of book I wish I had written. The central premise is about making delicious cakes and bakes, but making them as nourishing as possible – just what I have been doing (mostly) on my blog all these years. After flicking through the recipes for a while, I felt I wanted to know more about the author so I turned to the introduction. Well, what a surprise I got. It turns out that Amber Rose grew up on a small holding in New Zealand and puts her love of good food down to her horticulturally inclined mother Kay Baxter, who not only grew and prepared the food, but was an excellent cook. It was at this point that that my curiosity was really aroused. Could this be the very same Kay Baxter who CT and I had visited one particularly wet and windy day at Koanga Gardens in Northland, New Zealand? The simple answer was yes, she was the very same. CT wrote about our visit (amongst others) to Koanga Gardens on his From Our Owen Correspondent, it’s worth a read. A short while later, I was sent the book to review.

The subtitle of the book says it all: healthier cakes, bakes and puddings full of fruit and flavour. Spelt and other non wheat flours such as buckwheat, rye and barley are used throughout and many of the bakes are gluten free. My only complaint here was that Amber used white spelt rather than wholemeal or even a mix of both would have done. Unrefined sugars are used, with maple syrup or honey playing a starring role in many of the recipes. A plentiful supply of fresh fruit, flowers and herbs are also used. But don’t be put off if this sounds too worthy for you – the joy of both baking and eating runs throughout the book. Food that is nourishing for the body as well as the soul is something Amber mentions quite frequently; she is definitely a woman after my own heart. The recipes use butter, cream, creme fraiche, cheese and free range eggs. This got a sigh of relief from me as I am generally not keen on manufactured low fat options. There are layer cakes and fairy cakes smothered with icing. There is a whole chapter on tarts and meringues; the rosewater and pistachio pavlova with strawberries had me week at the knees just looking at the picture.

Virtually every recipe in the book appeals to me and the pictures are very tempting, but sadly, the chocolate recipes are few and far between. In fact there are only six; but when have I ever let that stop me? I was hoping to make the chocolate and cherry pots for this review, but I’ve not yet come across any English cherries. I’m not sure if that’s because it’s a bad season, it’s a late season or if I’ve missed the boat entirely. I did however make the caramelised pear and buckwheat pudding cake, although I adapted it slightly to include carob. It was deliciously light and aromatic and I loved the affect of the sunken pears.

Having studied the book in a lot more detail since I first browsed through it at Waterstones, I am definitely a fan. The final chapter was the clincher: Herbal Teas. A good slice of cake is definitely more enjoyable if accompanied by a nice cup of tea. I drink a lot of herbal tea, fresh from the garden when in season and dried out of season. Lemon balm and blackcurrant leaves is one of my favourite combinations, but I also like lemon verbena and lady’s mantle. Amber gave me a few other combinations I haven’t tried before and my new favourite of the season is fresh mint and nettle tea. I’ve never really liked nettle tea even though I know it’s good for me, although strangely, I love cooked nettles. The simple act of combining them with mint turns the tea into something quite refreshing. In this chapter, Amber also talks of her love of good quality tea and talks us through some of the different types of Black, Oolong and Green and the best way to prepare and taste them.

Other chapters include: Seasonal Cakes, Puddings, Small Bakes and Creams, Custards and Compotes. As I said earlier, there is very little in this book I am not keen to try, but Amber has come up with some really interesting combinations that I find particularly appealing. I’m looking forward to the apple season to try her apple and polenta cake. Her passionfruit and lime syrup cake is on my must bake very soon list as are the fig and mascarpone tarts and the buckwheat drop scones with apricot butter. Oh and did I mention the blood orange and rosemary tart?

Image from Love Bake Nourish

I particularly like Amber’s use of fresh flowers – it must be something to do with her name – and many of the bakes in the book are decorated with them. Some are used just as they are and others are crystallised. Instructions on how to crystallise flowers are included and also a useful list of flowers which are not only edible but are good to use. These are divided into: savoury herb flowers, mild herb flowers, sweetly floral flowers and mild floral flowers. There are several in the list I would not have thought of using.

The feel of the book is nostalgic and evokes a bygone era that probably never existed yet one which I long to return to. The book itself is quite beautiful and has a vintage country style which is both homely and elegant at the same time. It is country living but without the pretension of a certain glossy magazine. The photographs are lovely, although there is by no means one for every bake. They have a matt finish and depict some of the bakes along with beautiful or whimsical vintage china or rustic props. Perhaps I should coin a new phrase – rustic chic?

Amber scatters “A word about …” certain ingredients around the book whereby she highlights their qualities and health benefits. Coconut oil is amongst those mentioned as are ancient grains, heritage fruit and olive oil.

I shall be working my way through the book and although I doubt my photography will be quite so evocative, I will be posting some of the bakes here in due course.

Published by Kyle Books, Love Bake Nourish is a 208 page hardback and retails at £18.99.

Caramelised Pear, Honey and Carob Cake – Random Recipes #29

gluten free carob pear honey cake
Pear, Carob and Honey Cake

When I was living at home as a teenager, my mother and I went through one of our sporadic health kicks and didn’t eat or drink any chocolate for a few months. Carob powder was the substance we used to replace it, both in drinks and in baking. It was an acquired taste but really rather nice once I got used to it. Whilst the only comparison to cocoa was its form and colour, it had a pleasant flavour which was not at all bitter. When I saw some carob in a health food shop recently, I had a yen to make a carob cake again and remind myself of its qualities.

Dom has decided to go on a health kick this month, so for Random Recipes we are tasked with picking a “happy and healthy” recipe. I immediately thought of my new book, Love Bake Nourish by Amber Rose. I shall be posting a review of this at some point, but suffice it to say I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. Although there are only a few chocolate recipes in it, I asked CT to pick any page number in the belief I could always add chocolate if it wasn’t already present in the recipe.

Page number 46 gave me Caramelised Pear and Buckwheat Pudding Cake. This couldn’t have been more fortuitous; I had just been sent a surprise tray of South African apples and pears from Beautiful Country, Beautiful Fruit, so was really pleased to have landed on this one and the recipe sounded delicious. However, the more I scrutinised it, the more I thought it just didn’t lend itself to chocolate. As I was about to ask CT to pick another number, I had a brain wave – carob might work. This was a “free from” cake, having neither wheat nor sugar, so why not make a “free from chocolate” cake too?

The recipe called for maple syrup, but as I didn’t have any of that, I used a mixture of honey and my homemade dandelion honey instead.

This is how I made:

Caramelised Pear, Honey and Carob Cake

  • Ground the seeds from two cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar.
  • Peeled, quartered and cored two firm Williams pears.
  • Melted 25g unsalted butter in a pan with 2 tbsp dandelion honey on a medium to low heat.
  • Added the cardamom powder and stirred to distribute.
  • Added the pears and left for about 5 minutes to brown a little. Turned them over and did the same to the other side.
  • Whipped 150g unsalted butter with 125g New Zealand thyme honey until light and creamy.
  • Beat in 2 large duck eggs, one at a time.
  • Sifted in 75g buckwheat flour and 50g carob powder.
  • Folded this in together with 75g ground almonds.
  • Spooned this into a 22 cm cake mould.
  • Placed the pear quarters in a fan shape on top of the cake and scraped the remaining caramel over the tops.
  • Baked at 170C for 40 minutes until the cake was risen and a skewer inserted into the middle came out clean.
  • Left to cool in the tin for 20 minutes, then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Dusted the top with icing sugar.
Gluten free carob, pear honey cake
Gluten Free Pear, Carob and Honey Cake

I was really pleased with the appearance of this cake, with the batter rising above the pears giving an appealing sunken look to the fruit. The crumb was close textured, but not in the least bit heavy with a melt in the mouth quality. I was right, carob, caramel and pear make for an excellent combination. It was a delight to get reacquainted with carob and I’m wondering why its been so many years since I’ve used it.

Random Recipes is a monthly cooking challenge devised by Dashing Dom of Belleau Kitchen, whereby you get to cook a recipe from your cookbooks that has been chosen randomly. I’ve been in from the beginning and this is my favourite blogging challenge (excluding We Should Cocoa of course); I look forward to it with some trepidation each month – you never know what you are going to get.

I’m also submitting this to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays whereby everything must be made from scratch.

Blueberry and Chocolate Muffins

Small Cakes | 10th June 2013 | By

Blueberry Muffins
Blueberry and Chocolate Chip Muffins

I try to draft a post as soon as I have made something so I don’t forget what I’ve done. However, for one reason or another I don’t always publish immediately and some drafts get forgotten about. This is one such that I have just discovered from nearly two years ago. Sadly, the photographs are not up to much and I can no longer remember whose recipe I used as a guide. But I do remember they tasted good, so these blueberry muffins are finally getting an airing.

August 2011
Having just picked up some cut price blueberries I thought I’d better hotfoot it back to the kitchen and make some blueberry muffins. Can you believe it? I’ve never made blueberry muffins before. This seemed a prime opportunity to use the flowery blue muffin cases that a friend gave me for my birthday, still lying homeless in my kitchen.

This is how I did it:

  • Melted 50g unsalted butter in a pan.
  • Sifted 150g flour (50g spelt, 75g white, 25g coconut), 1/2 tsp baking powder, a pinch of salt and 1/8 tsp cinnamon into a bowl.
  • Stirred in 75g cardamom (golden caster) sugar.
  • Mixed 50ml creme fraiche, 50ml milk and 1 egg until all smooth.
  • Made a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and poured in the egg mixture.
  • Tried to mix this, but oh dear, it was way too dry!
  • Added the butter hoping that would sort it out, but still to dry.
  • Added some more creme fraiche and milk (nearly the same again) until I had a consistency I was sort of satisfied with.
  • Roughly stirred in 50g 40% milk chocolate drops.
  • Roughly stirred in 100g washed blueberries.
  • Spooned the mixture into 6 muffin cases initially, but realised I had too much mixture, so added a couple of extra.
  • Baked at 180C for 20 minutes.
Well eight muffins has got to be better than six. This gave me license to munch my way through the two extra ones whilst they were still warm – mmmmm – a very nice way to eat them. In my gluttonous haste I managed to burn my tongue with the first bite into the hot blueberry juice. I doubt I’ll learn the lesson though. The blueberries had burst and were all fruity and jammy with juice running everywhere. These were not very sweet and had more of a scone consistency than a muffin one. However, the coconut flavour was nicely evident and the tart fruit and semi-sweet chocolate was a very nice combination.

These muffins fit very nicely into a new challenge newly created by Victoria of A Kick at the Pantry Door. Feel Good Food is all about delicious but healthy food and this month it’s all about blueberries.

I’m linking this to Mrs M’s Recipe Link Party

I’m also linking this to Four Seasons Food as blueberries are in and it’s meant to be summer – with Delicieux and Chez Foti.

Homemade Yogurt and a Giveaway #30

Giveaway | 8th June 2013 | By

We eat a lot of yogurt in this household. It contains Lactobacilli which are supposed to be very good for you and as a vegetarian it provides a substantial proportion of my protein. Although my standard breakfast is toast made with my own rye sourdough, we do sometimes have yogurt with muesli or in smoothies. Many of our evening meals incorporate or are accompanied by yogurt and I use it a lot in baking. I find it helps to keep cakes moist and gives them a more substantial texture, whilst at the same time helping them to rise. Buying a lot of yogurt can be rather expensive though, so when I was offered an EasiYo yogurt maker to try by Yoghurt Direct, I didn’t hesitate.

Kiwis have a reputation for innovation and imagination when it comes to inventing things. The EasiYo was born in a New Zealand garden shed over twenty years ago and has clearly stood the test of time. The yogurt maker is rather like a large plastic thermos flask which for some reason I find strangely tactile. When it arrived, I was rather surprised at quite how large it was, but I guess a litre of yogurt needs a decent layer of insulation around it. The kit came with two sachets of powdered yogurt base. I chose Greek style yogurt, one plain and one with honey. The method was simple and the instructions easy to follow. It involved mixing one sachet of yogurt with cold water in an inner container, giving it a really good shake, then immersing it in hot water in the outer flask and leaving overnight. This is simple but effective technology. With no mechanisation and no moving parts, there is little to go wrong, so the yogurt maker should last many years.

Homemade EasiYo Yogurt
Is it Yogurt or Clotted Cream?

Both came out looking like clotted cream, which made them particularly appealing to an unreconstructed Cornish cream lover. The honey yogurt was way too sweet for us, but the plain was fine, if a trifle on the acidic side. I have subsequently made up two further batches of plain yogurt by adding milk to a couple of tablespoons of the previous batch and then following the same method. From previous experience of making my own yogurt, I expect I will only be able to do this two or three times before needing to start with a completely new mix.

Yoghurt Direct sell both yogurt maker and yogurt base which come in a comprehensive range. Prices vary according to type and flavour. The yogurt maker itself costs under £10, which I think represents good value for money.

Giveaway

Yoghurt Direct have kindly offered an EasiYo yogurt maker and two sachets of the yogurt bases of your choice to one lucky Chocolate Log Blog reader.
To be in with a chance of winning this yogurt making kit, please fill in the Rafflecopter below. You will need to leave a comment on this post which then gives you additional chances to enter if you so wish. Rafflecopter will pick a winner at random from the entries received. Please give me some way of identifying you in the comment section as I will be verifying the validity of entries and will always check back to the comments to ensure that part has been done. Any automated entries will be disqualified. This giveaway is only open to those with a UK postal address. You need to be 18 or over to enter. Winners will need to respond within 7 days of being contacted. Failure to do this may result in another winner being picked.
Prizes are offered and provided by Yoghurt Direct and Chocolate Log Blog accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of said third party.
If you need some help using Rafflecopter, here’s a quick clip to show you how.
Closing date is Saturday 6 July 2013
You might also want to take a look at my giveaway page to see if there is anything else you would like to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mini Chocolate & Rhubarb Pavlovas

Dessert, Preserves | 6th June 2013 | By

Rhubarb Chocolate Pavlova
Chocolate Roasted Rhubarb Pavlova with Rhubarb Curd

Last weekend my mother turned up with a lovely bunch of rhubarb from her garden. Rhubarb used to flourish on our allotment and we had a big glut every year. Since moving down to our plot on the field, however, rhubarb has persistently refused to grow and I really miss it. One of the things I used to make was rhubarb curd and I had a sudden yearning to make some again. However, as this was back in pre-blog days, I couldn’t remember exactly how I made it or what recipe I used, so I cobbled something together with a little help from Belleau Kitchen. My yearning was partially stimulated by a desire to make chocolate meringues and top them with rhubarb curd in a grand vision I had for chocolate and rhubarb pavlovas. For the chocolate meringues, I again did my own thing using the Riverford Farm Cook Book as my initial inspiration.

This is what I did to make:

Chocolate Meringues

Chocolate Meringues
Chocolate Meringues
  • Separated 3 large duck eggs and whisked the whites in a large clean bowl until foamy, reserving the yolks for the curd.
  • Added a pinch of cream of tarter and whisked until soft peaks had formed.
  • Added 200g vanilla sugar (golden caster) a spoonful at a time, whisking in between each one.
  • Sieved in 3 teaspoons of arrowroot (I generally use this instead of cornflour as it has similar properties and is said to be beneficial).
  • Sieved in 4 teaspoons of cocoa powder and whisked until stiff peaks had formed.
  • Spooned the mixture onto lined baking trays to form eight circles, leaving plenty of space in between each one (just as well I did as the meringues virtually doubled in size).
  • Formed into nest shapes. leaving a large indentation in the middle.
  • Sprinkled a little cocoa powder over each one.
  • Baked at 150C for 10 minutes, then at 125C for a further hour. Switched off the oven and left the meringues inside until cold.

Meanwhile I made:

Rhubarb & Elderflower Curd

Rhubarb and Elderflower Curd
Rhubarb & Elderflower Curd
  • Chopped 400g of already trimmed rhubarb stalks into chunks.
  • Put them in a pan with 2 tbsp elderflower cordial and simmered until soft, about 5 minutes.
  • Used a stick blender to puree.
  • Mixed the 3 egg yolks in a bowl with 100g vanilla sugar (golden caster).
  • Placed over a pan of simmering water and stirred – I didn’t want it so hot that I got scrambled eggs.
  • Added the hot rhubarb puree and continued to stir.
  • After about 10 minutes of regular (but not continuous) stirring, added 50g unsalted butter.
  • Stirred for another 5 minutes or so, until the mixture had thickened.
  • Poured into sterilised jars & sealed.
Next step was to make:
 

Roasted Rhubarb

Roasted Rhubarb
Rhubarb Roasted with Elderflower Cordial
  • Cut 200g of already trimmed rhubarb sticks into finger sized lengths. 
  • Cut this into batons lengthways.
  • Placed in an ovenproof dish together with 1 tbsp elderflower cordial.
  • Sprinkled with 1 tbsp of vanilla sugar (golden caster).
  • Roasted at 200C for about 10 minutes, until the rhubarb was soft but still held its shape.
Assembled to make:
 

Mini Chocolate and Rhubarb Pavlovas

  • Spooned a tbsp of rhubarb curd onto a meringue.
  • Topped with a teaspoon of clotted cream.
  • Decorated with fingers of roasted rhubarb in what was meant to be an arty, chefy sort of way.
Chocolate and Roasted Rhubarb Pavlova with Rhubarb Curd
Chocolate & Rhubarb Pavlova

Mini Pavlovas is something of a misnomer; they actually ended up being rather large. The grand vision I had didn’t exactly come to pass, but goodness gracious, the pavlovas were scrummy. The combination of zingy rhubarb curd with chocolate meringues complemented each other perfectly. The contrasting textures of smooth and crunchy added to the overall enjoyment. The rhubarb curd was delicious in it’s own right and I was really pleased with the lovely orange colour it turned into; I was thinking it might just come out as a rather unlovely muddy brown.

I am sending this off to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays where anything submitted must be made entirely from scratch.

As rhubarb is still in season, I am also entering this into Simple and in Season with Ren Behan.

The rhubarb was home grown, making this summery dessert inexpensive, so fitting nicely into the Credit Crunch Munch remit with Fab Food 4 All and Fuss Free Flavours. This month’s event is hosted by Anneli of Delicieux.

 

The inclusion of elderflower cordial, made with my own fair hands, using foraged elderflowers means I am also entering these to Herbs on Saturday with Karen over at Lavender and Lovage.

These mini Pavlovas are perfect for al fresco eating in the lovely weather we are currently experiencing. I am thus submitting these to a new monthly blogging challenge from Delicieux and Chez Foti, Four Seasons Food. This month’s theme is Picnic food and Outdoor Nibbles.

Calendar Cakes is all about jam this month. Luckily, fruit curds are included, so this is winging it’s way to DollyBakes. This challenge is co-hosted by Laura Loves Cakes.

I forgot to check what the letter is for Alpha Bakes this month, but have just done so and fortuitously it is R. So I am entering my R for Rhubarb to The More Than Occasional Baker who is hosting this month. Caroline Makes hosts alternately. 

Pin it Forward UK

Uncategorized | 2nd June 2013 | By

Pinterest should come with a health warning: it can be seriously addictive. When I first heard about Pinterest a couple of years ago, I didn’t quite understand why people were getting so excited, but as soon as I realised it was all about collecting and organising images that act as reminders or inspiration, I was hooked; let’s just say it appeals to my librarian mind again.

Picture courtesy of Jac from Tinned Tomatoes

So what is Pinterest exactly? The easiest way to think of it is as a giant virtual pinboard of images, divided into sections. Pictures from the internet or ones that are downloaded from private collections are pinned onto boards according to theme. These pictures can be seen by anyone and subsequently repinned onto someone else’s board and so it goes on. All pins link back to the original source, so if I pin a picture from Chocolate Log Blog, wherever it gets pinned and by whoever there will always be a link back to my blog. As with all social media, it’s all about sharing. Group boards are another example of this; they can have any number of invited members who can pin directly to that board, creating a more diverse range of pins or for sharing very specific topics.

Unsurprisingly, with my passion for food in general and chocolate in particular, my boards are mostly food related, whether it’s growing, preparing or eating it. The first board I created was Chocolate Log Blog, which features chocolate creations I’ve posted on my blog. My other chocolate related boards include Chocolate to Love, We Should Cocoa and Chocolate Bakes. The last two are group boards. The former is shared with We Should Cocoa participants (a monthly blogging event) who can pin their entries directly. The latter is a board for sharing chocolate bakes with like minded chocolate fans. Recently I have become interested in goat’s cheese and chocolate as a combination, so last week I started a new chocolate and cheese board which I’m quite excited about.

Picture courtesy of Jac from Tinned Tomatoes

Chocolate is by no means my only food interest. We grow and forage some of the food we eat and preserving this is key, so I have a board on ideas of how to achieve this: Fermented and Preserved. I am a vegetarian and always looking for inspiration on how to expand my cooking repertoire; Food to Make is the board where I pin recipes I’ve spotted and would like to try. A small but hopefully growing board is The Field where I pin pictures of food we’ve grown or would like to grow. Last year was such an appalling season, that I had nothing to pin.

If you haven’t already joined Pinterest, I invite you to do so now and follow my board Chocolate Log Blog.

As with all the big social media applications, Pinterest was conceived in the United States just a few short years ago. Not surprisingly it has a bit of an American bias but Pinterest are keen for this to change. They have launched a Pin it Forward UK campaign to not only make Pinterest more welcoming to UK users but to showcase some of the terrific UK bloggers who are pinning out there.

Pin it Forward UK is a means of passing on the news from one blogger to another. Jac of Tinned Tomatoes introduced me and now it is my turn to introduce Katherine MacGregor who blogs over at Lady loves Cake and has rather a mouthwatering selection of posts on her afternoon tea experiences. On Pinterest, she has an eclectic mix of boards reflecting her interest in not only cake, but also travel, fashion and London, to name but a few. I am now keenly following her London Afternoon Tea board in the hope of making it up to London one day, loaded with cash to make a tour of the capital’s chocolatiers and tea shops. Do pay Katherine’s blog a visit tomorrow to find out more.