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.
First of all I’d like to wish everyone a Very Happy New Year. May 2014 bring you plenty of chocotunities.
When I saw this spiced stollen traybake over at How to Cook Good Food before Christmas, I knew I would have to make this or something similar very soon. I had no stollen at all last year and it is one of my favourites. A spicy stollen full of fruit and marzipan in cake form is an excellent idea. My version is actually quite different to Laura’s, but hers was the inspiration. These would have been perfect for bringing in the new year along with a glass of something special or for celebrating today, New Year’s Day.
As it happens, my mother’s birthday is on New Year’s Eve and as we were going to be out and about, I needed something portable. She’s a bit of a marzipan fan, so stollen cakes seemed to fit the bill very nicely. I’d also been sent a surprise Christmas parcel from Dr Oetker which handily contained both marzipan and chocolate chips.
This is how I made:
- Added 75g sultanas and 25g mixed peel (homemade) to a bowl together with 25g ground almonds and 2 tbsp rum and left to soak overnight.
- Creamed 150g unsalted butter with 125g cardamom (golden caster) sugar.
- Grated in the zest of a small lemon.
- Added 1/2 tsp freshly ground coriander, a good grating of nutmeg and a good grinding of black pepper.
- Creamed some more until the mixture was very light and fluffy.
- Beat in 3 small eggs.
- Sifted in 160g flour (half wholemeal, half white), 1 tsp mesquite powder (optional), 1 tsp baking powder and a pinch of bicarbonate of soda.
- Stirred this in alternately with 1 tbsp lemon juice and 2 tbsp sour milk.
- Folded in the fruit and rum mixture, 50g dark chocolate chips and 100g chopped marzipan.
- Spooned into 15 cupcake cases then scattered a few flaked almonds over the top.
- Baked at 180°C for 20 minutes, then turned onto a rack to cool.
- Dusted with vanilla sugar.
The house smelt deliciously of nutmeg and coriander whilst the cakes were baking. CT and I couldn’t help ourselves, but had to filch a warm one as they came out of the oven. Ooh, they were so delicious, sweet and seasonally spicy.
We ate another one or two whilst watching The Hobbit (second time for us, birthday treat for my mother). They may not have been as impressive as Smaug’s Hoard, but each bite uncovered buried treasure – rum soaked sultanas, marzipan and chocolate chips or occasionally all three. The sponge was light and a glorious yellow just like the dragon’s gold. And if CT takes another one without permission, I’ll be breathing fire all over him. Actually he’s unable to fulfil his desire as my mother squirrelled the remainder away and is jealously guarding her hoard.
The beautiful golden yellow sponge was the result of some local free range eggs which I buy whenever I am able. I am thus entering it into this month’s Tea Time Treats where the theme is eggs. This has been chosen by the new co-host Jane of The Hedgecombers. I’m pleased to say that Karen of Lavender and Lovage remains.
With those local eggs in mind where the chickens truly run freely, I am entering this into Shop Local at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.
I’m also submitting this to Jac’s Bookmarked Recipes over at Tinned Tomatoes where you can see last month’s round-up.
The party season is now in full swing and although I rarely buy ready made pastry, these Gourmet Pidy pastry cases make excellent party fare for a time strapped host. Time and thought can go into creating delicious fillings without worrying about making the pastry and then having to shape it suitably. Pidy are a Belgium company that has been making their award winning pastry cases since 1952. They provide a range of interesting pastry forms, but have only recently launched into the home cook’s market. Their products are available via Amazon, delis, farm shops and other independent retailers.
Continuing on my salty journey from the salted caramelised almond chocolates I made for We Should Cocoa, I couldn’t resist making these salted butterscotch chocolate fondants. This month’s Classic French theme is chocolate fondants and as I had a bar of salted dark chocolate to hand and I do like the combination, I knew the fondants I was going to make would be salted something or other. I thought I would base mine on a recipe for molten chocolate cakes in the French classic Cooking with Chocolate edited by Frederic Bau. I halved the quantity and made a few other changes, but in essence this is, vraiment, une recette classique Française.
This is how I made:
Salted Butterscotch Chocolate Fondants
- Buttered 3 ramekins and dusted with cocoa powder.
- Melted 50g salted butter in a pan over very low heat with 70g salted dark chocolate – I used the Lindt Touch of Salt I recently reviewed. Left to cool a little.
- Whisked 2 eggs with 120g dark brown sugar until thick and tripled in volume.
- Sifted in 1 scant teaspoon of cocoa, 1 scant teaspoon of mesquite and 20g plain flour. Folded in as carefully as possible so as not to lose the air gained by whisking.
- Spooned into the three prepared dishes. There was enough mixture left for a 4th, but I only have three, so I very naughtily polished the remains off and oh, it was so delicious.
- Baked at 180°C for 10 minutes.
The brown sugar and mesquite worked as I’d hoped and produced a really good salted butterscotch flavour. The same cannot be said for my turning out which ended in disaster at the first attempt, so I didn’t try with the other two. They tasted fabulous anyway and CT on his return from the daily grind seemed to cheer up no end when he knew what was on the menu.
I am entering these into Classic French the monthly theme from Jen of Blue Kitchen Bakes and this month hosted by Claire of Under the Blue Gum Tree who has chosen that most luscious of desserts: chocolate fondants.
As soon as I chose honey for this month’s We Should Cocoa, I’ve done nothing but dream of honey bakes. I love honey and if money was no object would use it instead of sugar almost exclusively. As well as the flavour, honey has a lot of health benefits which are not found in sugar. When I saw that Classic French this month was madeleines, my mind immediately moved to how I could incorporate honey and chocolate into these delicate little French cakes. I was recently sent some New Zealand Honey to try out and whilst I liked the woody notes of the 10+ pre-biotic Beech Forest Honeydew, I thought the more floral notes of the 10+ antioxidant Thyme Honey would work better here. Right until the last minute I was going to grate some milk chocolate into the mix which I thought would give a pretty speckled look. However, I wanted a hint of thyme to shine through and I thought this would be better achieved with white chocolate. I had seen a recipe for Honey Madeleines in a recent book I was sent for review purposes, Stacie Bakes, so I set to and adapted it quite heavily.
This is how I made:
Honey, Thyme and White Chocolate Madeleines
- Melted 50g unsalted butter in a small pan over low heat.
- Added 50g chopped white chocolate and 1 heaped tbsp thyme honey.
- Beat 2 duck eggs with 50g cardamom (caster) sugar until thick, pale and tripled in volume.
- Poured the chocolate mixture gently down the side of the bowl and folded into the egg mixture as gently as possible.
- Sifted in 75g unbleached flour and just over half teaspoon of baking powder.
- Finally folded in a scant teaspoon of finely chopped fresh lemon thyme.
- Spooned into 16 madeleine moulds and baked in the middle of the oven at 180C for ten minutes.
- Turned out onto a wire rack to cool.
These were by far and away the most delicious madeleines I’ve made yet. The honey was the predominate flavour, but it also gave them a succulent and sticky texture which was just delightful. White chocolate seems to work really well in bakes and although the flavour can’t be detected, it gives them a certain body and je ne sais quoi. They are very different without it. Lemon thyme & cardamom sugar combined to give a soupcon of citrus to the proceedings. They could, of course, be dusted with icing sugar, but I thought they were quite pretty in their yellow and brown livery, so left them au natural. I got the desired “foot” that is required for a classic madeleine, but in my short madeleine making career, I have not so far had a problem with this. Unlike most madeleines that really need to be eaten as soon after baking as possible, these improved with age and became stickier and even more scrumptious, although that didn’t prevent us from tucking in immediately.
I am obviously entering these madeleines into my very own We Should Cocoa.
I am also submitting them to Classic French with Jen of Blue Kitchen Bakes who has chosen Madeleines as this month’s theme.
I adore herbs and use them a lot both in my cooking and for medicinal and cosmetic purposes, but I rarely pair them with chocolate. So it is a rare event that I am able to enter Karen’s excellent Herbs on Saturdays and I am always a little bit excited when I can do so – you never know I might just win a book. This month’s book sounds especially good and right up my street – cooking with edible flowers by Miriam Jacobs. I’m crossing fingers.
Thanks to the New Zealand Honey Co. for sending me some of their delicious honey to try.
Dom is up to his old tricks again and has randomised Random Recipes even more than usual by getting us to use a highly technical random thingamidoodah to pick our books for us this month. Luckily I didn’t have to count all of my books as they are scattered around the house – I used the oh so wonderful Eat Your Books which has all of my cookery books logged, current count being 88. In went number 88 to the thingamidoodah and out came number 31. Arranging them alphabetically by author gave me Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book. Now wonderful as this books is, it didn’t seem likely I’d be lucky enough to find a recipe I could easily adapt to include chocolate, so I rearranged the books alphabetically by title and was much more successful. This time number 31 gave me The Chocolate Lovers by local boys the Tanner Brothers. No longer any need to worry about adapting recipes to include chocolate. So the next stage was over to CT to pick a number, which he did. Number 49 got me Chocolate and Devon blue cheese tarts.
Hooray – absolutely perfect! I would normally have used some Cornish Blue instead of the Devon, but I just so happened to have some of Ethel’s wonderful Capricorn Goats Cheese which I’ve been wanting to try with dark chocolate. Thus it was that the Tanner Brothers creation morphed into these chocolate and goats cheese tarts. I had to adapt the recipe slightly as I halved the quantity of filling and it didn’t fit neatly into halves.
This is how I made:
Chocolate and Goats Cheese Tarts
- Sifted 250g flour (half wholemeal spelt & half white) into a bowl.
- Added a pinch of salt and 1.5 tsp icing sugar.
- Cubed 125g unsalted butter and rubbed these into the flour until the mixture resembled breadcrumbs.
- Made a well in the centre, added 1 small (ish) duck egg and enough water to form a soft but not wet dough (about 50 ml).
- Stirred this in with a knife, then bought together with my hands to form a ball of dough.
- Flattened to form a disc then placed in a plastic bag and left in the fridge for an hour.
- Rolled the dough out as thinly as possible and lined four 10 cm tart cases, 2 slightly larger foil cases and a foil flan case. I was planning on using the larger flan case for a quiche and the others for the chocolate tarts, but in the end I only had enough filling for 1 of the additional foil cases.
- Placed back in the fridge whilst I put the oven and it warmed up to 180C.
- Placed them on the top shelf and baked for about 12 minutes until they were golden.
- Melted 85g unsalted butter with 100g 70% dark chocolate (G&B) in a pan over very low heat. Left to cool.
- Whisked 1 large duck egg with 25g cardamom sugar (caster) until pale and thick.
- Poured the chocolate mixture down the side of the bowl and folded into the egg as gently as possible.
- Folded in 20g sifted white flour.
- Divided the mixture between five of the tart cases.
- Scattered 75g Capricorn goats cheese cut into small pieces over the tops.
- Baked at 180C for about 7 minutes.
- Left to cool (apart from one which I just couldn’t help diving into).
I sort of thought I was going to like these and I was right. Theye were delicious warm not long out of the oven, but equally delicious cold. They had a mousse like texture and the salty cheese was a perfect foil for the dark chocolate. If you like salted chocolate like I do, these are well worth getting acquainted with and even if you don’t, you may well like them. CT tells me I’m sweet enough without (I wish), but I really liked the barely sweet nature of these. I don’t know if it was the inclusion of icing sugar or my careful handling of the dough, but this was the best pastry I’ve ever made – it was so flaky, CT thought it was meant to be flaky pastry.
The wonderful Random Recipes monthly challenge is hosted by the Dashing Dom over at Belleau Kitchen and it gets us all to use books and recipes which might otherwise sit gathering dust on the shelves.
Well, I maybe posting this a little later than intended, but it now coincides with my 500th blog post, which turns out to be very apt timing indeed. Read on.
With so many limes in need of using up, a key lime pie was definitely going to be on the menu. As a key lime pie newbie it was just a question of whose recipe I was going to use. New to key lime pie? Yes, really. I don’t know how I’ve managed it, but in all my years of cooking I have not only never made one, but I’ve never eaten one either. There was a recipe in my new book Scandilicious Baking by Signe Johansen which I was keen to try; there was a fabulous sounding one in Tea with Bea using 13 limes; I had a cheesecake version from Eric Lanlard in Home Bake and two versions from Nigella in How to Be a Domestic Goddess. Not one of them had a chocolate version – well really! With all my limes, it would have been a good opportunity to make Bea’s version, but in the end the Forever Nigella challenge won me over and it was one of Nigella’s recipes I adapted.
This is how I made:
Chocolate Key Lime Pie and Chocolate Key Lime Tarts
- Melted 50g unsalted butter and 100g 70% dark chocolate (Green & Blacks) in a small pan over low heat.
- Whizzed 300g digestive biscuits in the food processor until they were fine crumbs.
- Added the chocolate mixture and whizzed some more until all incorporated.
- Pressed the mixture into the bottom of a 22 cm ” flan mould and into four 9 cm tartlet cases.
- Left in my cold kitchen to set for an hour or so.
- Whisked 300 ml double cream with electric beaters until thickened.
- Grated in the zest of 4 well scrubbed limes and beat a bit more.
- Added a 397 ml tin of condensed milk and beat a little more.
- Added the juice of the 4 limes and beat for about a minute until the mixture was thick and formed firm peaks.
- Spooned onto the biscuit base and decorated with strips of lime zest and dark chocolate shavings.
The theme for Forever Nigella this month is Nostalgic Nigella. Well, I may have never made or eaten a key lime pie before, but I have heard about these American beauties for many years. Having spent my first year of life in New York, they somehow make me feel nostalgic for the American childhood I never had, I bet key lime pie would have been a staple in our brownstone apartment. Hosted this month by the The Botanical Baker, it’s home is with Maison Cupcake.