There’s no doubt about it, brownies are never going to be super healthy. However, as regular readers will know, they are one of my favourite bakes so I do like to make an attempt to up their nutritional value. These coffee brownies with almond nut butter are similar to my winning healthier brownies with cashew nut butter. They are simple to make and are just as fudgy and delicious as you’d expect a good brownie to be.
Yes, it’s another flipping pancake post! But Pancake Day is very nearly here and I’m making the most of it. It’s one of my favourite days of the year as it’s a good excuse to indulge. English, Dutch, Scots, American, Breton, sweet, savoury – pancakes of any description are fine by me. Last week I made some savoury pea protein pancakes. Today I give you wholemeal spelt pancakes served with a sophisticated coffee cardamom chocolate sauce.
Our local cafe, Olive & Co, does a mean coffee cardamom chocolate cake. It’s more of a torte really as it contains no flour. I’ve been wanting to try making something similar for ages and with the arrival of the new Divine chocolate baking bars, the time seemed right to give it a go. I give you my coffee cardamom chocolate mousse cake.
When I was asked to bake a cake for a rather sad occasion last week, I thought I’d try out one of Will Torrent’s recipes, or two of them in fact. I adapted his Nans’ chocolate fudge cake recipe to make it into a three layered cake, then topped it with a chocolate glaze from his recipe for salted caramel & rum top hat cake.
For years I’ve raged against the invasion of the very American Halloween and associated trick or treating; in the UK, we have All Hallows Eve, from which Halloween is derived. Just five days later we have our very own Guy Fawkes Night, with its pagan effigy burning associations – OK Guy Fawkes was a catholic, but never mind. Well, finally I’ve come to the conclusion that if you can’t beat them you’d better join them! In fact I had no choice as this month’s We Should Cocoa theme is Halloween.
Astonishingly, this blog is five years old today. To celebrate, rather than a St Valentine’s Day Massacre, I’ve engineered something all together more festive.
The simple truth is, that despite the many, many things I’ve baked and prepared over the past five years, I’ve hardly scratched the surface of chocolate cookery. This is a good thing, I reckon, because, unlike Valentine’s Day ephemera, chocolate will never ever lose its appeal. Drawing on the collective brilliance of contributors to We Should Cocoa, the many excellent food blogs and chocolate cookbooks, my own creations and adaptations, there is not a chance that I will run out of things to make in the next five or even fifty years.
Another year on and I and my Chocolate Log Blog have notched up a few more achievements. I was chuffed to bits to reach #3 in the Foodies100 Top Twenty UK Food Blogs for 2013. Not only that I was also in their Top Twenty Food Bloggers on Twitter too. I didn’t think things could get any better, but it turned out they absolutely did. The January edition of Cornwall Today featured Chocolate Log Blog as one of the best five Cornish blogs – wow and I didn’t even bribe them with cake. You can see the article on the author’s site at Saffron Bunny. I had another recipe published, this time in the Plymouth Herald, maybe not quite as prestigious as the Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook, but still very pleasing.
Two big events stood out: I baked an astonishing number of things both for a grand party and a market stall. It was a lot of hard work, but very satisfying to see it all disappear with complimentary comments all round. I continue to attend Cornwall Clandestine Cake Club whenever I am able and try to take part in as many blog challenges as I can. This past year has seen a prodigious proliferation of these, so I’m amazed to have done as many as I have. Living in remote Cornwall, I don’t get out very often, but I did manage to make it up to Cheltenham to meet some of my food blogging chums in June last year. We’ve also had a few events down in this part of the world where I’ve got to meet-up with bloggers old and new. The trip to Riverford was a particularly good one and the chocolate workshop with Nicky Grant was a real pleasure. Cornwall has food festivals aplenty, but scattered as they are, I don’t get to many of them. Having heard from Fiona of London Unattached just how good the Boscastle one was, I made it there last year for the first time. She was right, it was a great festival with plenty to see and do and the setting is lovely. I had the added bonus of meeting up with her as well as Nat from the HungryHinny.
So to celebrate Chocolate Log Blog’s Birthday as well as Valentine’s Day and give CT something to munch on (he has offered both me and my blog invaluable support after all), I have made these little chocolate cakes – dark and lush as befits this day of love. The cake recipe I adapted from one in Treat Petite by Fiona Pearce, a newly published book I shall be reviewing shortly. The whipped dark chocolate ganache, however, I made up myself from some leftover chocolate sauce I’d made for another recipe (soon to be appearing on the blog).
Just in time to make these and as a wonderful Valentine’s gift, I received a lovely bundle of chocolate goodies and hearts from Dr Oetker, including some heart-shaped marshmallows which were fun. Fancy decorating has never been my strong point, but for this special occasion, I thought I’d pull out the stops and pipe the ganache on top of the cakes, using my new Lékué silicone decomax (review to follow in an upcoming post).
I also received this gorgeous Valentine’s gift from Eden’s Gourmet Apples, which was a lovely surprise and disappeared rather quicker than it probably should have done. The apple was crisp and tart which was a great foil for the sweet caramel and chocolate.
This is how I made:
Mini Chocolate Valentine’s Hearts with Whipped Chocolate Ganache
- Melted 60g dark 70% chocolate in a pan over low heat with 160ml strong black coffee. Stirred until smooth, then removed from the heat.
- Creamed 90g unsalted butter together with 225g dark brown sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Beat in 2 duck eggs (use large hen eggs), one at a time.
- Sifted in 100g flour (half wholemeal spelt, half white), ¾ tsp baking powder, 2 tbsp cocoa powder and 40g ground almonds.
- Stirred until just incorporated.
- Spooned into 24 mini cupcake moulds filling them to about ¾ full. Spooned the rest into 4 full-sized cupcake cases.
- Baked at 180°C for about 15 minutes until well risen and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
- Left to cool in the moulds for a couple of minutes, then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- About ¾ batch of chocolate sauce which had been left in the fridge and had set – 200g double cream, 150g 85% dark chocolate and 2 tbsp maple syrup all melted together.
- Whipped this up with 2 tbsp of strong black coffee until light and moussy.
- Spooned this into the Lékué piping container and using a large star nozzle piped blobs onto the cooled cakes.
- Decorated with various hearts
The cakes are rich, moist and very chocolatey. The small elegant bite-sized cakes are easy to eat and with no inhibiting cases to dispose of make for perfect finger food. CT has given them his seal of approval by downing several in quick succession and declaring them better than any bunch of roses.
Thanks go, as always, to you my readers and fellow food bloggers. I would most certainly not have had the fortitude to have continued without your support, participation and comments.
As an extra chocolatey treat, I have picked ten super scrumptious chocolatey posts from other UK bloggers to hopefully inspire you over at Foodies 100 – Ten at Ten: the chocolate edition.
Chocolate is quite rightly the theme for this month’s Tea Time Treats over at Lavender and Lovage. This is a monthly event to load a tea table with more goodies than it can possible manage. Karen’s partner in crime is Jane over at The Hedge Combers.
I am submitting these to the No Waste Food Challenge as I had some leftover chocolate sauce that needed using up. It would, er, obviously, have gone to waste if I hadn’t used it up in this recipe 😉 Normally hosted at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary, this month Fiona of London Unattached is taking the reigns.
I am also submitting these cakes to Credit Crunch Munch for the same reason as above plus I omitted the cupcake cases and saved a few pennies by so doing. I was really quite pleased with their naked appearance. This challenge is hosted by Camilla of Fab Food 4 All and Helen of Fuss Free Flavours, but is guest hosted this month by Angela over at the wonderful My Golden Pear.
My mother asked me back in November (oh dear where does the time go?) if I would make a cake for her. She volunteers at her village community centre and wanted the cake as a leaving and thank you present for her boss. I knew it was time to make Ruth Clemens’ (aka The Pink Whisk) Tiramisu Cake. This is not a natural choice for me as I am in a small minority of non-coffee lovers. However, I do know it is considered to be one of the most popular flavours ever and I have supporting evidence. When The KitchenMaid chose coffee as the We Should Cocoa special ingredient, we had a record number of entries and Lucy had to do the round-up in two parts. Tiramisu, everyone assures me, is a delicious dessert, so transformed into cake form, how could it fail to please? That was my reasoning anyway.
Ruth is one of those bakers whose recipes I trust. I’ve made a number of her bakes and not once has she let me down. However, as I am completely incapable of following a recipe, I did make a few adaptations. As it was meant to be tiramisu, I used cream cheese in the icing. I wanted to use the classic mascarpone, but when I went down to our local co-op, I found it had stopped selling it, which was mighty annoying. I had to make do with Philadelphia instead. I didn’t cover the cake with ganache either as I wanted the contrast between the chocolate and cream colours to stand out. I reduced the amount of icing sugar in the icing and also used slightly less sugar in the cake.
This is how I made:
- Brewed a strong batch of filter coffee and left to cool.
- Creamed 165g unsalted butter with 250g soft brown sugar and 70g dark brown sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in 3 duck eggs, one at a time.
- Sifted in 260g flour (100g wholemeal, 100g white, 60g self-raising white), 70g cocoa and 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda.
- Stirred this in gently, alternating with 220 ml of sour milk.
- Added 4 tbsp of the cooled coffee and stirred until just incorporated.
- Divided the mixture between 2 x 20 cm cake moulds and baked at 180°C for 30 minutes until the cakes were well risen and an inserted skewer came out clean.
- Left to cool for ten minutes, then turned out onto wire racks to cool completely.
- Creamed 60g unsalted butter with a couple of large spoonfuls from 250g icing sugar.
- Beat in 100g cream cheese, then slowly added the rest of the icing sugar.
- Added 1 tbsp Marsala and 3 tbsp strong coffee. Beat until all smooth and a good spreading consistency achieved.
- Spread one cake with half the mixture, placed the other cake on top and topped with the remaining icing.
- Sprinkled with whatever chocolate bits I could lay my hands on.
I wasn’t expecting it to turn out to be such a stonker of a cake, but petite it was certainly not. CT was rather upset to find his tasting services were not required; unlike me, he enjoys coffee flavoured cakes. Nevertheless, the feedback I received via my mother was very positive and was most gratifyingly demonstrated by an empty plate.
I’m sending this off to Javelin Warrior for his Made with Love Mondays
I’m also entering this into Emily’s Recipe of the Week over at A Mummy Too.
I was so pleased with the chilli white chocolate shortbread snowflakes that I made last month, that I seem to have done nothing else recently but make more shortbread biscuits based on that recipe. I was baking for a friend’s birthday party recently and thought it would be fun to make “after dinner” tea and coffee biscuits. With 100 guests expected, I made two batches of the biscuits resulting in about 110 in total. To one I added Japanese matcha tea powder to give an intriguing tea flavour and green colour and to the other I added some ground coffee which gave an interesting speckled look and a mild but definite coffee flavour. These proved to be rather popular, especially, it seemed, for scooping up a very large trifle that had been made for the occasion. Even more recently, I made over 60 lemon and cardamom biscuits for my last day at work. I haven’t quite decided what biscuits I shall be making for Christmas this year, but as I’ve ordered some organic oranges, I’m currently in favour of making some orange and cardamom white chocolate shortbread biscuits. By the new year, I suspect I shall be thoroughly fed up with shortbread.
Like their chilli shortbread predecessors, any of these would look good pierced and hung with ribbon from the Christmas tree. They’d also make lovely Christmas gifts.
|Coffee White Chocolate Shortbread|
|Matcha White Chocolate Shortbread|
|Lemon and Cardamom White Chocolate Shortbread|
This is how I made:
White Chocolate Shortbread Biscuits
- Softened 50g of good quality white chocolate by putting it in the mixing bowl and placing it on the storage heater for ten minutes.
- Added 170g of unsalted butter cubed and left to soften.
- Creamed the butter and chocolate with 85g golden caster sugar until pale in colour and fluffy in texture (used cardamom sugar for the lemon cardamom biscuits).
- Added 175g plain flour (half wholemeal, half white), 80g brown rice flour and a pinch of pink Himalayan rock salt.
- Depending on the flavour, added 1) 2 heaped tsp of matcha powder 2) 2 heaped tsp ground coffee 3) grated zest of an organic lemon together with the ground up seeds of 3 cardamom pods.
- Stirred until incorporated, then formed into a ball and left in my cold kitchen to firm up for half an hour.
- Rolled out to about 3mm thickness and stamped out small shapes getting 50 to 60 biscuits in total (hearts for the matcha shortbread, flowers for the coffee and snowflakes for lemon cardamom).
- Left to firm up in my cold kitchen for 15 minutes.
- Baked for 7-8 mins at 180°C until just golden.
- Dusted with fine caster sugar whilst still hot, then transferred to a wire rack to cool and harden.
Jo at Comfort Bites has started a new challenge with the same name as her blog Comfort Bites. This month her theme is Christmas and as these would make great Christmas gifts, I am entering them.
Well as far as biscuits go, these are fairly Quick and Easy which is the theme for this month’s The Biscuit Barrel with Laura of I’d Much Rather Bake Than … The stamping can be fiddly if you use a small snowflake cutter as I did for the lemon cardamom cookies, but a larger and simpler stamp would not take very long at all.
And as everything is made from scratch some of these are being sent of to Javelin Warrior for his Made with Love Mondays.
When I was offered some coffee to review, I was a initially a little hesitant. Coffee is not my favourite drink, nor is it my favourite flavour. But, since commencing this blog, I have been using it more and more to add an additional depth to chocolate cakes and find it works really well. I am not averse to a cup of coffee, it’s just not something I ever think to drink. The smell of roasting and brewing coffee is another matter entirely and usually has me going weak at the knees. In the end it was Puro’s ethical stance that swayed me and got me brewing.
As the name suggests, Puro Fairtrade Coffee is a fairtrade brand, certified by the Fairtrade Foundation and belonging to Belgian company Miko which has been roasting coffee for 212 years. Some of its coffee is also organic, although not certified by the Soil Association, the certifying body I trust most. Miko won an award last year for its partnership with the World Land Trust and its work in helping to protect the rainforests of South America; the trust is also supported by David Attenborough. A total of 8103 acres of rainforest in Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia have so far been saved and are now protected from logging. This may not seem a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. One new tree species, 12 orchids and one frog have all been discovered in these areas since they became reserves. One of the orchids is now known as the Puro orchid! I was also pleased to find that Miko produces all of its own electricity via solar panels.
You can find out more about the Puro story by watching this short clip.
When the coffee package arrived, I was ridiculously excited to find it all wrapped up in a hessian sack just like a sack of bona fide beans. I had a very good feeling about it from then on in. Diving into the bag was rather like a Christmas stocking; pulling out one lumpy unidentified item after another was an enjoyable guessing game. Not only did I pull out three 250g packets of coffee, but also a 3 cup cafetiere, a Pura cup and saucer, a pack of individual hot chocolate sachets and some sugar sachets too.
As neither CT nor I are coffee connoisseurs, I invited some more knowledgeable friends around for a tasting. I used the cafetiere provided to make three brews of filter coffee and we tasted them blind. First off, we breathed in the aroma, then tasted them black and finally added milk. The results were very interesting to my untutored palate – it seems quality will out. Arabica is meant to be the premier coffee species and the one with the highest percentage of Arabica to Robusta, was the one we liked best. Like chocolate, it seems that the best beans are grown in South America with the more standard everyday ones grown in Africa (Congo). That said, we liked all of them.
Each bag came with a hand written label showing type, origins, content and description – all are fairtrade and shade grown. I’ve written our tasting notes first, followed by Puro’s own in italics. We did not read the descriptions until after we’d done our own tasting, but as you can see our notes echoed theirs.
Puro Noble – 80% Arabica, 20% Robusta beans shade grown in Guatemala, Peru, Honduras and the Congo – smooth, mild and graceful – mellow and well balanced, this was pronounced (by the experts) to be a standard good cup of coffee they would be happy to drink at any time of the day. 6/10
The complex character of this blend comes from the mild and smooth yet floral Guatemalan high grown Arabica skilfully blended with the Peruvian Arabica for a perfect balance of flavour. Through the addition of premium Robusta, a hint of dark chocolate is injected into the cup.
Puro Organic – 100% Arabica beans shade grown in Peru & Honduras – lovely bouquet, chocolatey, rich, creamy, distinct smell. Chocolate taste, complex with several different flavours detected – strong but not too bitter – it would make a satisfying mid-morning or after dinner coffee 9/10
This amazingly delicate blend is distinctive in flavour. It combines beautifully soft notes of chocolate with citric overtones that gives it a fruitiness whilst adding natural sweetness.
Puro Fuerte – 50% Arabica, 50% Robusta, the beans come from Guatemala, Peru, Honduras and the Congo. Middle of the road, richer, fiercer, more bitter, richer bouquet, higher roast, robust – a wake-me-up morning coffee. 8/10
Wow, good morning and a warm welcome from this intense fiery blend. This dark roasted blend of high grown Arabica with the finest Congo Robusta creates a warm balanced cup with lively fragrant flavours, which when added to perfectly tempered milk create a bitter sweet chocolate.
To accompany the coffee, I made some coffee biscuits with whipped coffee chocolate ganache. For a change, I thought I would make coffee the star of the show rather than chocolate and much to my surprise, I found these biscuits to be utterly delicious. The Puro Fuerte, being of a robust nature, was an ideal coffee with which to flavour the biscuits. They proved to be very popular.
Puro coffee is drunk in a number of locations including all National Trust sites and Royal Parks. Each month there is a chance to win a coffee pack by entering a caption competition on Puro’s facebook page – definitely worth a try.