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

Chocolate Lavender Parfait – Random Recipes

5 Star, Ice Cream | 25th August 2014 | By

This month Dashing Dom has joined forces with Krazy Kavey in a chilling combination of Random Recipes and Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream. Now that Autumn has descended on us rather earlier than expected, ice-cream is no longer top of my list of desired desserts. However, ice-cream and frozen desserts are what we’ve been tasked to make, so I gritted my teeth and went to interrogate Eat Your Books. This is my preferred method of selecting my books for these Random Recipe occasions.

This time I limited the search to my chocolate books, which I was somewhat surprised to see has reached the grand total of seventeen. Ultimate: the Green and Black’s New Collection was the book randomly selected. I haven’t looked at this tome in such a long time that I was pleased to renew my acquaintance. It turns out it contains quite a few ice-cream recipes as well as a recipe for chocolate parfait – a frozen dessert which I’ve never made before. I decided to make half the quantity as I didn’t have much space in the freezer; this meant I needed about 60g of dark chocolate. Now it just so happens that I had 70g of dark lavender chocolate lying about; I’d found this too strong and soapy to eat on its own, so it was awaiting just such an occasion as this. Lavender chocolate works wonderfully well when incorporated into other recipes, I reckon. The parfait recipe included coffee, but as I was adding lavender, I omitted this.

This is how I made:

Chocolate Lavender Parfait

  • Whipped 150g double cream to soft peaks using hand beaters.
  • Separated two large eggs, putting the yolks into a bowl and the whites into the fridge for some future use.
  • Warmed 75 ml water in a small pan and dissolved 60g golden caster sugar in it.
  • Notched up the heat and boiled the syrup for 2 minutes, then turned the heat off.
  • Added 70g chopped dark lavender chocolate (72%) and left to melt.
  • Beat the egg yolks with the hand held beaters, then slowly poured in the chocolate syrup beating all the while. Carried on beating until the mixture was almost cool.
  • Beat in 1 dessertspoon of cognac, then folded in the whipped cream.
  • Divided the mixture between four ramekin dishes and placed in the freezer.

To be honest I’m not terribly sure what the difference between a parfait and ice-cream is technically, but it’s a very good way of making a no-churn frozen dessert. It was velvety smooth and not a shard of ice crystal could be detected. It’s very rich and truly decadent, but the soupçon of lavender keeps it tasting fresh and prevents it from cloying on the palate as some creamy confections can do. The cognac gave a welcome hint of sophistication and brought out the other flavours. This is a perfect use for lavender chocolate and a brilliant make ahead dessert I can now knock up for future dinner parties.

This chocolate parfait is being entered into random ice cream – the joint Random Recipes and Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream event hosted over at Belleau Kitchen and Kavey Eats.

A healthy dose of cognac makes this dessert crazy enough for me, so I am entering it into Baking with Spirit over at Cake of the Week where Janine has asked us to all go crazy.

I’m also sending this off to Lucy’s #CookBlogShare over at Supergolden Bakes.

Jerusalem Artichoke Cake – We Should Cocoa #41

Large Cakes, We Should Cocoa | 23rd January 2014 | By

Jerusalem Artichoke Cake

A friend recently passed on a recipe for me to chocolatify. He reckoned that not only was this cake unusual, with its inclusion of Jerusalem artichokes, but it was also possibly the best cake he’d ever made. I was intrigued. At this time of year we have no problem getting hold of this particular root vegetable as it grows, almost of its own volition, down on our plot. I adore the taste of artichokes, but do find them a real pain to clean, so I don’t use them as often as I probably should. The cake includes roasted hazelnuts and I could see how well these would work with the nutty flavour found in artichokes.

I had planned to follow the recipe as written, apart from adding chocolate and using my usual half wholemeal, half white flour mix of course, but things went a little awry.  I didn’t have any raisins for a start, so had to substitute sultanas. But mostly, I didn’t read the recipe carefully enough. I ended up using a different method entirely and added all of the sugar (50g more than I should have) to the cake rather than reserving some of it for the icing – oops! I also didn’t think I needed to peel the artichokes, which I scrubbed well cutting out any bad bits.

Some time before Christmas, I was sent three lovely bags of Cacao Barry chocolate drops. This is a new range of high quality couverture chocolate they have introduced. It uses a new fermentation method which purportedly gives a more intense taste. The Q-Fermentation TM method uses natural ferments found in the plants and soil of the plantation which is said to give a purer bean with a fuller flavour. I’m looking forward to trying the chocolate out in a few sophisticated recipes where the flavour can shine through. However, I decided as there were so many lovely ingredients in this cake it would be good to use a special chocolate too. From previous experience, I’ve found that milk chocolate chips tend to work better in this type of cake as a very dark chocolate can sometimes take over rather than enhancing. The 41% Alunga milk chocolate seemed ideal. With its strong caramel notes and high cocoa content, I found it hard to stop dipping into the bag as I went along. I’m looking forward to trying the Inaya 65% and Ocoa 70% dark chocolates in due course.

This is how I made:

Jerusalem Artichoke Cake

Jerusalem Artichoke Cake

  • Added 1 tbsp brandy to a bowl filled with 120g sultanas and placed it on the heater to soak in for about an hour.
  • Toasted 80g hazelnuts in a dry frying pan for a few minutes until the nuts had browned a little and the skins had loosened. Left to cool, then rubbed the nuts in a piece of kitchen towel to remove the skins. Chopped roughly.
  • Grated 200g of well scrubbed and trimmed Jerusalem artichokes in food processor.
  • Creamed 150g unsalted butter with 200g soft brown sugar (should have been 150g).
  • Beat in the brandied sultanas.
  • Beat in 3 large eggs, one by one and alternating with a little of the flour.
  • Sieved in 200g flour (half wholemeal, half white), 1 level tsp baking powder, 1 scant tsp bicarbonate of soda, a large pinch of rock salt, 1 tsp cinnamon and a good grating of nutmeg (about 1/2 tsp).
  • Stirred this in lightly together with the nuts and 50g chocolate drops (41% milk).
  • Folded in the artichokes.
  • Scraped mixture into a deep 8″ lined cake tin and baked for about 1 hour at 180°C (recipe stated 30 minutes, but mine was still almost raw at that stage) until well risen, brown and an inserted skewer came out almost clean.
  • Allowed to cook in the tin for 15 minutes, then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Beat 180g cream cheese (should have been 200g, but that was all I had) with 40 light brown sugar.
  • Grated in the zest of an organic lemon and squeezed in nearly half of the juice.
  • Beat it all together then slathered over the top of the cake.
  • Shaved some dark chocolate over the top.
Jerusalem Artichoke Cake

I couldn’t have told you there were Jerusalem artichokes in the cake, but wow, I’m sure they added to the overall nuttiness. This cake was truly delicious: chewy, crunchy, moist and abundant. The Alunga buttons left chocolatey hotspots throughout the cake which contributed nicely to the overall richness of taste. The sharp lemony icing offset the additional sugar I added by mistake and the cake, thankfully, wasn’t too sweet at all. It was similar to a carrot cake, only, dare I say it, much nicer.

How can I put this politely? I didn’t notice any, er, unfortunate consequences to eating the Jerusalem Artichokes in this way, so it got a double thumbs up from us.

This is my offering for this month’s We Should Cocoa. Linzi over at Lancashire Food is kindly hosting and has asked us to combine an ingredient we have never used with chocolate before. I was initially going to send over the paprika and cocoa roasted cauliflower that I made earlier in the month, but in the end decided this was a more unusual and worthy entry. I can honestly say, that I have never until now, eaten Jerusalem artichokes and chocolate together.

I am also using this as my entry to Family Foodies over at Bangers & Mash. The theme this month is Hidden Goodies. These artichokes are very well hidden and I suspect few would ever guess as to what the cake contained. This challenge is co-hosted by Lou at Eat Your Veg.

Not only made from scratch, but some of it grown from scratch too, I’m sending this off to Javelin Warrior for his Made with Love Mondays.

As this is the most exciting recipe I’ve posted this week, I’m entering it into Recipe of the Week with Emily of A Mummy Too.

Chocolate Chilli Berry Mincemeat

Christmas, Preserves | 29th November 2013 | By

 

Homemade mincemeat is a revelation, once made it’s hard to go back to a commercial product. Even inveterate mincemeat sceptics like CT are happy to partake of this. In fact it was hard to keep his hands off the Chilli and Chocolate Mincemeat Slice I made last year.

(more…)

Apple, Hazelnut and Choc Chip Cake

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.

Chilli, Chestnut & Chocolate Cake


A celebratory cake was needed for the 1st anniversary of CT’s blog Radix. So, it’s chocolate and chestnuts again! This time with the added bonus of chilli – our own dried and crushed “fatalli”, a particularly vicious yellow variety. I used the already tried and tested Nigella recipe from How to be a Domestic Goddess. As I had half a tin of chestnut puree left over from the biscuits, I made only half the quantity, which made quite a nice sized cake for two.

 
Here’s what I did:
  • Melted 100g 85% dark chocolate and left to cool slightly.
  • Creamed 75g unsalted butter with 25g dark brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Mixed in 200g (or thereabouts) of sweetened chestnut puree.
  • Added 3 egg yolks, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 2 tsp brandy and the chocolate and stirred until combined.
  • Whisked 3 eggs whites until stiff, then added 25g caster sugar and whisked again.
  • Folded egg whites into the cake mix 1/3 at a time.
  • Poured into a 2lb silicone loaf thingy and baked at 180C for 30 mins.
  • Left to cool for 20 mins, then turned out and dusted with cocoa powder.

Usually I serve this warm as a dessert when we’ve got friends over, but I have to say it works pretty well as a cake too. It rose spectacularly, but like most soufflé type concoctions, it sank almost immediately I took it out of the oven – it still tasted delicious though. The texture is distinctly truffle like, rich and dense yet paradoxically light. The taste is more delicate than one would associate with chestnuts, but none the worse for that. As we only used a very small quantity of the fatalli, a pleasant glow resulted rather than the usual meltdown we normally experience when using this chilli.

Chestnut Chocolate Cream Biscuits

Biscuits | 16th January 2010 | By


It just seems the right time of year for chestnuts – I can’t get them out of my mind or my stomach! I saw this recipe over at Mainly Baking a couple of weeks ago and knew I was going to have to make these. Well now I’ve gone and done it. Suelle in her turn had got the recipe from Dan Lepard. I’ve obviously been somewhat slow on the uptake as I hadn’t really come across this baker before but will not be so remiss in future.

This is what I did:
  • Creamed 200g unsalted butter with 150 light muscovado sugar.
  • Stirred in (took quite a bit of stirring) 200g sweetened chestnut puree.
  • Added 200g wholemeal flour and 1/4 tsp baking powder.
  • Combined mixture until a dough had formed, then put this into the fridge for 1/2 an hour to settle.
  • Rolled dough out to 1/2 cm and cut into small (about 5 cm) rounds – I made 24.
  • Placed onto a lined baking sheets and baked in a preheated oven at 180C for 17 mins until golden (should have been at a 150C for 35 minutes, but I didn’t read the recipe very carefully and only discovered this later).
  • Realised when I took these out of the oven that I was meant to sprinkle cocoa over the biscuits before cooking – oops. I quickly did this whilst they were still hot and this seemed to work well. Actually, I think this was better as there was no danger of burning the cocoa.
  • Transferred onto a wire rack and left to cool.
  • Meanwhile melted 100g 85% chocolate (think I will use 70% when next making these as slightly too chocolatey for my taste).
  • Mixed in 50g butter, a sloosh of cream and a slug of brandy.
  • Finally mixed this together with 100g sifted icing sugar.
  • Sandwiched cooled biscuits with a generous layer of chocolate cream.
I was really pleased with these biscuits and, more to the point, so were my friends. The biscuits were quite soft, but held together well. The chestnut flavour was quite strong and I thought contrasted nicely with the dark chocolate filling. Hearty, robust and rustic were CT’s adjectives – just the kind of provender required after a session of chopping logs (not that he’s up to this sort of activity yet).