These sumptuous raw chocolate truffles do not have the name bliss balls for nothing. Try one of these and you’ll wonder why you’ve ever bothered with conventional truffles. Well maybe I exaggerate a little, but only just.
When I set banana as this month’s ingredient for We Should Cocoa, I didn’t have anything particular in mind, but with the run of wet weather we’ve been experiencing down in Cornwall over the last few days, I needed comfort and cheer. It had to be pancakes. Not just any old pancakes, but something a little luxurious which was also healthy, delicious and above all comforting, Banana pancakes it was then – with added ricotta.
The courgettes, otherwise known as zucchini, continue to flourish in the way only courgettes know how to. Having enjoyed the spiced courgette fritters I made recently and with plenty more courgettes developing, I couldn’t resist this chickpea pancake version when I spotted it in the February 2005 issue of Delicious.
Why, I’m now wondering, have I never made Black Forest gateau before? It’s a fabulous bake; not only is it very tasty but it’s also relatively simple to make.
Fellow Cornish food blogger, Janie over at The Hedge Combers is off on an epic road trip across Wales in a quest to find the best food and drink on offer – it’s a hard life! In her absence she invited a few blogger friends to guest post for her. I am delighted to be showing off some rather cute and most delicious mini lemon and almond coconut cakes over on her blog. They are easy to make, gluten free and dairy free, so ideal party fare when you’re a bit unsure what dietary requirements your guests might have. Do go take a look and have a nosey around her blog whilst your at it, you’re sure to find something interesting.
November can be a bit of a miserable month, so thank goodness for Random Recipes which lights the darkness on the downhill run to Christmas. Dom tasked us this month with rifling through our magazine cuttings and other such clippings to pick a random recipe. I was hoping to strike lucky with something suitable that I could make as a thank you to our fabulous next door neighbours. Not only do they take most of our parcels when we’re away, but they helped us out in a real crisis last Saturday; part of our bedroom window fell away, ripping off some tiles in the process – not great at the best of times, but especially not in all the wind and rain we’ve been experiencing this month, with a lot worse to come.
So I gathered together my various ‘chocolate’ clippings and asked CT to close his eyes, have a root around in them and pull one out. I couldn’t have wished for a better recipe, it was Claudia Roden’s Gateau au Chocolate torn out of an old issue of the Food Magazine.
Coincidentally, Chocolate Log Blog has been shortlisted for the Food Reader Awards from this very same magazine and I would of course love to have your votes. It’s a very quick process, you do need to leave an e-mail address, but you don’t have to sign up for anything.
This is a rich flourless chocolate cake, so perfect for anyone on a gluten free diet. It is also simple to make and quite delicious. Although I have made similar cakes to this in the past, I put a little of the batter into a muffin mould so I could try it – quality testing is sooooo important. I decided to use my chocolate cake mould for this and to top it with a chocolate sauce, the idea being for it to run down the gaps and look shiny and decadent. Things didn’t quite go according to plan and I have to confess this is not a looker. However, our neighbours were very happy with it and the empty plate came back in less than an hour along with a beaming smile and a report that it was very good and had been polished off rapidly.
This is how I made:
Claudia Roden’s Gateau au Chocolat with my Chocolate Sauce
- Melted 125g 70% dark chocolate in a pan over gentle heat along with 50g unsalted butter and left to cool a little.
- Separated 3 duck eggs.
- Whisked the yolks with 35g cardamom sugar (golden caster sugar) until the mixture was thick and pale.
- Folded in the chocolate butter mixture along with 50g ground almonds
- Whisked the egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff, then folded into the cake batter.
- Scraped into my silicone chocolate mould (an 18cm or 20cm pan would probably be about right) and baked at 180℃ for 20 minutes when the cake was well risen and a skewer inserted into the middle came out clean.
- Allowed to cool in the mould for a few minutes, then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Melted 50g of 70% dark chocolate in a pan with 75ml water and 1 scant tbsp golden syrup.
- Brought to a simmer and let bubble for a couple of minutes.
- Removed from the heat and added a small knob of butter.
- Allowed to cool a little, then poured over the cake. Annoyingly I had allowed my chocolate to bubble away for a little too long, so the mixture was a bit too thick to pour well.
Well, it’s been a busy seven days in the chocolate world and Chocolate Week has culminated in the prestigious Chocolate Show in London this weekend. For me, the grand culmination is a Cocoa Runners box of bean to bar chocolates from around the world. I’m very excited.
All this blustery and quite frankly miserable weather we’ve been experiencing down here in the last few days means that warming comfort food is required. What could be more comforting than wrapping your hands around a mug of steaming hot chocolate in cheery defiance of the weather gods?
Luckily I have both hot chocolate and some rather fine goat’s milk in plentiful supply.
The goats at St Helen’s Farm in East Yorkshire have been producing fresh milk for the last 27 years. Many people who find themselves unable to drink cow’s milk, are able to tolerate the goat version. Do watch out for future goaty posts where I will be trying out other products from the farm. I’m not normally a fan of skimmed milk, or even semi-skimmed milk, but I did like both of these in goat form and they do work remarkably well with chocolate. There is a slight goaty tang, but it’s not too strong and adds another dimension to the drink which I could become quite addicted to.
Chocolate Week has brought me many delights and one of these was a chocolate bar from Barry Callebaut with my name iced on the top. This put a big smile on my face. It wasn’t long, however, before the bar disappeared. Half of it went into a pan of skimmed goat’s milk to make the hot chocolate you can see above and the other half was shared with CT a little later.
Hans Sloane Drinking Chocolate
Back in May, I reviewed Hans Sloane Natural Honey and Rich Dark drinking chocolates and was favourably impressed. I was hoping to try their award winning Madagascar and Ecuador single origin varieties, so I was delighted when a fragrant parcel arrived in the post. CT and I girded our loins and got down to the difficult business of doing a compare and contrast exercise. It was difficult to see much difference in the appearance of these two chocolates but when it came to smell and taste the resemblance disappeared. Thick and rich as these drinking chocolates are, I decided to taste test them with water once again. The shiny chocolate beads melt beautifully this way and the flavours are not masked by dairy. I found, with absolutely no surprise whatsoever, that we liked both of them. We did, however, both have the same preference.
Madagascar 67% – a rich and fruity aroma wafts up from the packet on opening. It has a strong fruity taste with aromatic cardamom notes. It’s also a little bitter and leaves a slightly drying sensation behind in the mouth.
Ecuador 70% – the fragrance is more of tobacco in this case. It has woody notes with liquorice tones that make it quite robust. It is less sweet, richer and drier than the Madagascar which makes it our favourite.
There is currently a 20% discount on the Ecuador, so now is a good time to try it. You’ll find this on the Hans Sloane website.
Mortimer Chocolate Powder
Some of you may be aware that I’m a big fan of Mortimer’s chocolate powders. They are fabulous used in bakes where chocolate is called for, as no melting is required; the chocolate is ground down to a powder so can go straight into the mix – less fuss and less washing up. The powders also make excellent hot chocolates. Not only do they taste good, but the chocolate melts quickly and easily. The dark chocolates are both 70%, but come from two different continents: one from Ecuador and one from West Africa. I have reviewed these in a previous post, so I won’t repeat my findings here. The fruity West African, however, worked particularly well in these rich chocolate scones.
The white couverture powder is equally impressive and contains 40% cocoa solids, which is much higher than many brands. Flavoured with natural vanilla, it is free from both gluten and soya. I’ve used it in various recipes, but you can find specific mention in my red gooseberry cakes and burnt butter cupcakes. I have to confess that I’ve not tried this as a hot chocolate, but for those with a sweet tooth, I expect it would make a very nice drink indeed.
Come back tomorrow for more ChocolateWeek tasters and don’t miss out on those posted earlier this week:
Thanks go to Hans Sloane, Mortimer Chocolate Company, St Helen’s Farm and Barry Callebaut for the various samples. I was not required to write positive reviews and as always, all opinions are my own.
The theme of this month’s Clandestine Cake Club was free as a bird. I have to say, I was somewhat stumped by this and the best I could come up with was a free to make whatever I liked cake. The theme for this month’s We Should Cocoa is gluten free, so that got me wondering. I’d also been sent some coconut oil and coconut nectar to use from Cocofina – review to follow in a later post. Suddenly it all clicked into place and I would do a free from cake – free from gluten, free from dairy, free from eggs and free from sugar (sugar in the everyday sense anyway).
This month’s We Should Cocoa is all about coconut. As soon as Laura let on what the ingredient was going to be, I was mulling over some sort of bake using coconut oil, flour and sugar to make a really coconutty treat. I had something in mind, when I remembered seeing a coconut and ginger recipe in the booklet accompanying the Lékué cake pop kit I was sent to try out. As I was rather sceptical about cake pops and couldn’t really see the point of them, I hadn’t yet got around to doing anything with it. The time, it seemed, had come.
The kit consisted of a round pink 18 hole cake pop tray made from platinum silicone and a decomax which is also made from platinum silicone. A recipe booklet is also included along with 20 plastic sticks. The cake pop tray has a base with a lid shaped to encourage the cakes to form perfect balls. The lid also doubles as a cake pop holder which can be used whilst the icing or chocolate coverings set. I didn’t actually use the decomax for this bake, but have used it to decorate my bundt cakes and mini chocolate cakes. As someone who hasn’t managed to get to grips with piping bags, I have been completely won over by it. Having said that, it comes with only 6 nozzles three round and three star shapes of different sizes. It would be good to have a bit more choice. It’s easy to fill, easy to use and is simple to wash. It can also be used to fill the cake pop holes, but in this case it seemed simpler to use a teaspoon for the task. Like the rest of the Lékué products I’ve tried out, the silicone is sturdy and of good quality. The only issue I had with this kit were the plastic sticks, which were really too feeble for the job and bent under the weight of the pops. The kit retails at around £30.
So I adapted Lékué’s recipe, which sounded rather a good one. I used coconut oil rather than olive oil, substituted caster sugar with coconut sugar and used a mix of coconut flour and gluten free flour rather than wheat flour. These were going to be the only adaptations I made, but unfortunately, I started following the measurements from an adjacent recipe instead, so my quantities also ended up being different. Hey ho, never mind.
This is how I made:
Coconut and Ginger Cake Pops
- Creamed 80g of softened coconut oil with 110g coconut sugar until well beaten.
- Beat in 1 duck egg (or use a large hen egg).
- Sifted in 135g flour (I used ⅓ coconut flour and ⅔ gluten free flour), 1½ tsp baking powder and 1 tsp ground ginger.
- Stirred in alternately with 4 tbsp Greek yogurt and 2 tbsp water.
- Added 35g shredded coconut and mixed until just combined.
- Spooned teaspoonfuls into the 18 hole Lékué silicone cake pop mould to fill up to the brim (it is suggested that the mixture is piped in, but as the mixture was quite stiff, it seemed easier to spoon it in).
- Covered the mould with the lid and baked at 180℃ for 16 minutes.
- Removed the lid, left to cool for a few minutes then turned them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Melted 250g 65% dark chocolate (Inaya pur noir) in a pan over very low heat with 60g unsalted butter and 2 tbsp double cream.
- Stirred until just combined.
- Inserted sticks into the cake pops and coated with the chocolate ganache. Placed the sticks in the handy holes on the lid and decorated with a little shredded coconut.
- Left to set.
Despite the myriad disasters I had whilst making these: wrong ingredients, cakes sliding down the stick, ganache being rather thick to work with and chocolate spreading itself over me and the kitchen, I was immensely pleased with my first ever cake pops. They tasted delicious and I finally saw the point of them. Eating little bits of cake covered in chocolate is a very different experience from eating a slice of cake with chocolate on the top. The higher ratio of chocolate to cake turned it into an intense and indulgent occasion. This was aided by the wonderfully complex notes of the 65% Inaya pur noir chocolate I used from Cacao Barry. I will also concede that the cake pops looked rather good too. I might add that these had a number of tasters and they all concurred with my assessment as they dug into their second cake pop. CT even managed a third.
Click the link to find out what other chocolate and coconut recipes I’ve made.
This is my entry to We Should Cocoa which is guest hosted this month by Laura of I’d Much Rather Bake Than …. Coconut is her ingredient of choice and with three types of coconut used, these cake pops are nothing if not coconutty.
I didn’t manage to link up with The Spice Trail last month which was a shame as I was keen to try caraway in something other than my bread. However I have managed it this month as the chosen spice is ginger. Ginger is one of my favourite spices and we get through a lot of it in this household. This event is hosted by Vanesther of Bangers & Mash.
This month’s Love Cake theme is giving up. Well I’m not a great fan of giving up, but this was fairly specific. We have to bake a cake or cakes without at least one of the standard ingredients, i.e. wheat flour, butter, sugar or eggs. I have managed to bake these pops without three of the ingredients, so feel I can be a little bit proud. This is hosted by Ness over at JibberJabberUK.
The theme for this month’s Tea Time Treats is decorative cakes. Whilst my pictures may not show the more successful cake pops off to their best advantage, they really did look rather cute and definitely decorative. Hosted this month by Janie of The Hedge Combers, it is hosted alternately by Karen of Lavender and Lovage.
Made from scratch as they are with lots of good for you ingredients, I’m sending these of to Javelin Warrior for his Made with Love Mondays.
With their jaunty tops bobbing away on sticks and the yellow centres, I reckon these could pass off as Spring like, so I am entering them into Calendar Cakes hosted by Dolly Bakes where the theme this month is Spring Into Action.
Thanks to Lékué for sending me the cake pop kit to try out and to Cacao Barry for the chocolate. I was not required to write positive reviews and as always all opinions are my own.