Summer is really here now. I know because it’s Wimbledon and it’s my birthday in a few days’ time. But not only that, it’s actually very warm and has been for a while. It’s important to remain hydrated in hot weather and having a few delicious drink recipes on hand helps. This strawberry rose mint fizz cooler recipe is ideal for the occasion.
As we move from late spring into early summer, broad beans start to make an appearance here in the UK. I’m very fond of broad beans, but I know not everyone’s a fan. I can almost guarantee, however, that this minted broad bean spread will appeal to anyone who tries it.
It really is too hot to think about food at the moment. I know we’ve not had much of a summer yet, but I don’t take too well to the heat; now it’s arrived all I want to do is lie in a hammock under a shady tree and drink iced tea – peach and rhubarb iced tea to be exact.
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.
- 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.
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.
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!
I love Random Recipes and think Dom of Belleau Kitchen is a genius for coming up with the idea. I’ve been in from the beginning, so it always grieves me when I run out of time and don’t manage to make the challenge. Last month was such a one and I was beginning to panic that this month would turn out the same, but no, I was determined not to miss another month. Dom gave us quite a bit of freedom with this challenge and allowed us to pick our own book, a highly unusual event. I went for my Valentine’s gift from CT (itself a highly unusual occurrence); a chocolate book I have long been lusting after, Chococo chocolate cookbook by Claire Burnet. I closed my eyes and opened the book on a random page, somewhat trepedaciously – you just never quite know what you might be letting yourself in for. Sigh of relief, which then turned to one of excitment: chocolate pancakes platter. I have long wanted to make chocolate pancakes, but somehow have never actually managed it. Fortuitously, I also had a tub of blackcurrants which were in desperate need of using up. My mother’s freezer, not so fortuitously and very upsettingly, packed up unexpectedly. She ended up having to throw most of the food away. By the time we received the currants, they had been out of the freezer some time. So instead of making the cherry compote denoted in the recipe, I made blackcurrant and rose compote instead.
This is how I made:
Chocolate Pancakes with Rose, Mint and Blackcurrant Compote
- Sieved 150g wholemeal flour into a bowl with a scant tsp of baking powder and 30g cocoa powder.
- Stirred in 2 tbsp vanilla (caster) sugar.
- Made a well in the centre and broke in an egg.
- Started to mix from the middle outwards, adding 175 ml milk a little at a time.
- Beat in 20g hazelnut oil (instead of melted butter).
- Left to rest for about 20 minutes whilst I got on with the other things.
- Dry fried a large tbsp of flaked almonds with 1/2 a tsp of icing powder until they were lightly browned and slightly caramelised.
- Turned into a little serving dish.
- Poured the blackcurrants into a pan.
- Didn’t add any sugar as this had already been done.
- Added the last of my rose syrup (about 2 tbsp) which also really needed using up.
- Simmered for a few minutes, then added 2 tbsp mint vodka.
- Simmered for another couple of minutes.
- Heated a frying pan over a medium heat and added a slither of butter.
- Placed a heaped tbsp of pancake mixture into the pan, spreading it out with the spoon to form a circle of about 10 cm.
- Left for a few minutes until bubbles started to appear in the pancake.
- Turned it over and cooked for a couple more minutes.
- Placed on a plate and put into a warm oven.
- Repeated the process making six pancakes in total.
- Assembled the pancakes by layering them with a tbsp of blackcurrant compote and then another pancake.
- Stacked them three pancakes high finishing with a layer of blackcurrants.
- Topped with the almonds and dusted with a little icing sugar.
Random Recipes – the choice is yours. My choice was Chococo.
Kate of Turquoise Lemons has given us Preserves for her monthly No Food Waste Challenge. Blackcurrants preserved from the summer, mint vodka and rose syrup I made back along in need of using up,
The freezer disaster also makes these pancakes eligible for Credit Crunch Munch I reckon along with the homemade rose syrup and mint vodka. A monthly challenge hosted by Fab Food 4 All and Fuss Free Flavours.
As these are American style pancakes, I’m entering them into Bloggers Around the World hosted by Chris of Cooking Around the World. The country of choice this month is USA.
Having set the challenge to celebrate We Should Cocoa’s 2nd birthday with cocktails, I was subsequently completely flummoxed as to what to make. I know nothing about cocktails, except that I’m usually happy to drink one when it’s offered. I wanted to do something other than cupcakes, not because I don’t like cupcakes, but I thought there might be a proliferation of these and it would be fun to do something different. However, the days flew by and I was no nearer deciding what to make and then it was time to go back to work after my lovely three week break. Needing something to take back to work with me, I thought cupcakes would probably work best as they are less messy than a cake which needs to be cut with a knife. And it was National Cupcake Week too. So, my cocktail entry has turned out to be cupcakes after all.
Following on from my Chocadoodledoo, I quite fancied making a cupcake version of the cocktail, using the peppermint schnapps I made earlier in the year. Seeing Jacs’s post for her After Eight cake, confirmed my decision – it looked so good. A little googling came up with a Chocolate Mint Rum cocktail which was similar enough for me and also meant I could enter these into Baking with Spirit, which happens to be rum this month. I based my recipe on the one I made for chocolate peppermint cupcakes a couple of years ago and tweaked it to make way for the rum and mint schanpps. I also changed the frosting by adding cream cheese and mint liqueur.
This is how I did it:
- Melted 85g unsalted butter with 100g dark peppermint chocolate (Co-op Fairtrade 51%) in a large pan over a low heat.
- Added 175g dark brown sugar and stirred until smooth.
- Beat in two large eggs.
- Sifted in 180g flour (1/3 wholemeal, 1/3 white, 1/3 buckwheat) with 2 heaped tsp cocoa powder, 3/4 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda.
- Stirred in 2 tbsp yogurt.
- Poured 2 tbsp rum into a jug with 1 tbsp mint schapps and topped up to 150ml with water.
- Mixed this in until just incorporated.
- Spooned into 15 cupcake cases and baked at 180C for 17 minutes until risen and firm to the touch.
- Left to cool for 10 minutes then turned out onto a rack to cool completely.
- Creamed 50g unsalted butter with 130g sifted icing sugar.
- Added 3 tsp peppermint schnapps to soften and beat until well incorporated.
- Beat in 50g cream cheese.
- Topped the cupcakes with the icing and added Elizabeth Shaw mint batons to give a cocktail effect.
I was really pleased with this experiment; I was aiming for subtlety with the mint and rum and this is what I got. CT described them as blowing hot and cold. The warmth of the rum came through like a tropical breeze to be quickly countered by a cooling menthol blast. In a moment of verbosity, he went on to say that the mint intensity had three stages: a hint of mint in the sponge, distinctly minty in the icing finished by a powerful burst from the chocolate baton. He recommended that the cake be eaten from the bottom up to enjoy the full experience. The sponge was moist and light and the cream cheese icing was delicious as was the rum chocolate sponge. Yum.
Janine over at Cake of the Week has just started a new challenge, the most appropriately named Baking with Spirit whereby a different alcoholic drink is chosen to cook with each month. This inaugural month happens to be rum, so I’m putting these cakes forward.
We were off to friends for dinner and a catch up after far too long a time. A few weeks earlier I had borrowed The Chocolate Cookbook by Christine France from our local library and I spotted this interesting recipe in it. The right opportunity to make it had now arrived.
I was so impressed with the labna and strawberries that we’d made at the Vegetarian Cookery School, that I tried to recreate it the day after we arrived home from Bath. I thought it would make a great cake filling, I just needed a cake for it to go in. It had to be a white chocolate cake, it just seemed a bit more summery somehow, so again thinking of last years strawberry & white chocolate cake, I cobbled something together – ha ha. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get hold of any strawberries, or even raspberries so it became labna with blueberries instead.
Some preparation is needed in advance to make the labna as well as the rose and mint syrup required to marinade the fruit, but it is very easy.
This is what I did to make:
Blueberry, Rose and White Chocolate Cake
- The night before making the cake, I emptied a 500g pot of yogurt (I used Yeo Valley) into a muslin cloth and hung it up over a jug to drain for the night. I did this by using an elastic band to tie the cloth at the top and then hanging it from one of kitchen cupboard door handles and leaving a jug underneath to catch the whey..
- The next day, I turned the yogurt, now labna, into a bowl and gave it a good stir (vanilla seeds were meant to be added at this point, but I didn’t have any and had used vanilla sugar in the syrup and in the cake). I kept the whey that had drained into the jug to use in the cake (I always keep any whey as it is really useful for all sorts of things).
- Made the syrup by simmering 100g vanilla sugar with 100ml water for about 10 minutes until slightly syrupy. I then added a couple of sprigs of spearmint (you can use whichever type of mint you like) and 1 tbsp rose water. Left this to infuse for 3 hours (the longer the better).
- Poured syrup over a 250g of blueberries (original recipe states 500g strawberries) and left to infuse for another hour.
- Drained off about half of the syrup and added the remainder to the labna and stirred well.
- Melted 200g unsalted butter in a pan with 100g white chocolate (G&B) and 175g vanilla sugar and gave it all a good stir.
- Sifted 200g flour (spelt – wholemeal and white) and buckwheat)) into a large bowl with 1 tsp baking powder and a pinch of Himalayan salt.
- Made a well in the centre and poured in the butter mixture.
- Stirred well then beat in 2 large eggs – no duck eggs to be had!
- Added 1 tbsp rose water and 50g of whey and mixed until all incorporated.
- Divided mixture between 2 21 cm round cake thingies and baked for 20 mins at 180C.
- Spooned some of the reserved syrup over both cakes whilst still hot.
- Left to cool then sandwiched with the labna, managing to crack the top as I did so – hey ho! Dusted with some rose icing sugar I had left over from some Turkish delight and decorated with a few blueberries and a sprig of mint.