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

Sour Cherry Brownies – A Miracle

Brownies & Blondies | 28th June 2013 | By

This is another post that’s been sitting in my archives for a very long time and one I keep thinking I must post as it might be useful to others. I call these miracle brownies, because just as I thought they were a complete flop and I was panicking about running out of time to make a substitute, a long shot paid off and they came together quite miraculously.

Sour Cherry Brownies

In my humble opinion, no self respecting cake display is complete without some brownies. So when I was planning what to bake for my friend’s house party, I knew some sort of brownies would need to be included. As it happened, I came across a recipe for Chocolate and Cherry Brownies in Green&Black’s Unwrapped when I was looking for another recipe. Brilliant, I had two bars of G&B’s sour cherry chocolate I’d bought at some point just waiting for the right occasion. I have a particular fondness for this bar, it’s a 60% dark chocolate packed full of sour cherries. The bitter, sweet and sour makes for a terrific combination. So substituting this for the dried cherries in the recipe, adding some cocoa and scaling it down by a third, this is what I did:

  • Melted 200g unsalted butter in a pan over low heat with 2 x 100g bars of dark cherry chocolate.
  • With electric beaters, whisked 300g vanilla sugar (granulated) with 4 eggs (1 duck & 3 medium hen’s) and a pinch of Pink Himalayan salt for several minutes until thick and tripled in volume.
  • Stirred the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.
  • Sifted in 130g flour (half wholemeal, 1/2 white) and 1 tbsp cocoa then folded in until just incorporated.
  • Poured into a 9″ sq cake mould and baked at 180C for 25 minutes.
  • Left to cool and tried to cut into 36 squares BUT disaster, the mixture had not only sunk but was still liquid! Having spent the day baking cakes, I’d had enough at this point, so covered them up and went to bed.
  • In the morning with a clearer head, I thought there was nothing to lose by attempting to rebake them. So back into the oven they went for a further 12 minutes.
  • Amazingly, the mixture rose again – it was a miracle!
  • At this point, I was convinced I’d overdone them, but on cooling and cutting this time, they were just about perfect.
Sour Cherry Brownies

So, I learnt a really useful lesson here. Brownies can be doubly baked with no harm coming to them at all. The brownies were so good, I vowed I would make them again as soon as possible – nearly two years on, I still haven’t done so.

Mexican Mole Muffins and a Dr Oetker Chocolate Giveaway #15

Cornwall is my home and I hate to leave it. However, the pull of friendship can be strong, so this weekend, we headed upcountry to some chocolate loving friends in Glastonbury. With time in fairly short supply, I decided to make some chilli muffins from Unwrapped, the Green & Black’s Original chocolate cookbook. These Mexican Mole Muffins appealed, not only because they were quick to make, but also because they had a lot of chocolate in them – ideal for the aforementioned chocoholics. With the cold winds and hail storms we’d been experiencing, the chilli seemed like a nice warming idea too.

Luckily I had recently been sent a load of chocolate goodies from Dr Oetker, so I had plenty of chocolate to choose from. As the above recipe called for a high cocoa content milk chocolate, the 33% Cook’s chocolate was ideal.

This is how I did it:

  • Chopped 100g 33% milk chocolate into shreds with a sturdy knife.
  • Chopped half a de-seeded rocoto chilli finely.
  • Sifted 200g flour (half wholemeal, half white) into a bowl along with 1 tsp baking powder, 25g cocoa powder and 1/2 tsp fine sea salt.
  • Added 110g vanilla (caster) sugar. 
  • Stirred in the chocolate and chilli.
  • In a large jug, beat 2 medium eggs with 100ml sunflower oil.
  • Whisked in 225g milk and 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract.
  • Made a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and poured in the wet.
  • Mixed together gently until just incorporated.
  • Divided the mixture between the muffin cases, making a complete mess as I did so – the mixture was very runny.
  • Baked at 180C for 20 minutes.

They didn’t rise as much as I expected, but they were nonetheless delicious. The rocoto generated a gentle heat, which allowed the flavour of the chilli to come through. But after the muffin had gone, that same chilli buzzed around the mouth and was much more noticeable. Although liberally studded with chocolate, which gave a satisfying sweet crunchy burst, the chips had sunk to the bottom half, which was a bit disappointing but inevitable given the wetness of the batter. Anyway, between us we managed to devour most of them in fairly short shrift and used them to power us to the top of Glastonbury Tor.

Many thanks to Dr Oetker for this great chocolate themed toolbox. I’m looking forward to making lots of fun things with the remaining items, although I have already made some scrumptious cookies with the white choc chips – recipe to be posted later.

This is what I received:

  • 150g bar of cook’s 33% milk chocolate
  • 150g bar of cook’s 54% dark chocolate
  • 150g bar of cook’s 72% dark chocolate
  • 100g bag of white chocolate chunks
  • Pack of chocolate ready to roll icing
  • Giant milk chocolate stars
  • Chocolate flavour writing icing
  • Milk and white chocolate flakes
  • Chocolate flavour strands
  • Vanilla extract with seeds
  • Cake release spray

Giveaway
If you would like a chance at getting your hands on this chocolate baking and decorating extravaganza just in time for Christmas, then please fill in the Rafflecopter below. You will need to leave a comment on this post which then gives you additional chances to enter if you so wish. Rafflecopter will pick a winner at random from the entries received. If you are commenting anonymously, please give me some way of identifying you as I will be verifying the validity of entries. Any automated entries will be disqualified. This giveaway is only open to those with a UK postal address.

Closing date is Sunday 2 December 2012

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Chocolate Brazil Cookies Revisited – Random Recipes 9

Biscuits | 23rd October 2011 | By

We are well and truly being kept on our toes with this challenge. For some reason Dom doesn’t think we are being as random as we should be in his Random Recipes challenge. To get around this, he has teamed us up with another blogger this month, who is responsible for selecting the book and page number for us. This reduces the chance to cheat somewhat. NOT, I hasten to add, that I have ever done such a thing. I was teamed up with Miss Cake Baker of What I Baked This Weekend and in a series of exchanges via Twitter she selected Chocolate Brazil soft-baked biscuits from Green & Black’s Unwrapped. I am always terrified I’m going to get something really difficult, but once again, I was lucky.

I had already made these, way back in the early days of my blog but they hadn’t turned out quite as I’d imagined. So rather than asking MCB to choose again, I thought it would be good to give them another go, use a less dark chocolate and add a bit more milk.

This is what I did:

  • Roughly chopped 50g Brazil nuts and 125g milk chocolate (46%).
  • Creamed 75g unsalted butter with 60g vanilla sugar (granulated) until soft and fluffy.
  • Beat in 1 duck egg and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract.
  • Sifted in 175g wholemeal flour, 1 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt.
  • Stirred in 2 tbsp milk.
  • Folded in the nuts and chocolate.
  • Placed 20 teaspoonfuls on lined baking trays then flattened them with a fork dipped in water. The recipe stated the dough should be rolled out, but I couldn’t see how that would be possible with all those chocolate lumps and bumps and the mixture was a little too moist anyway.
  • Baked at 180C for 12 minutes.

The biscuits didn’t spread this time either, but I managed to flatten them more than I did in my first attempt and they thus had a better texture. They weren’t too sweet and were delicious warm whilst the chocolate was still melted. A definite improvement on the first time. CT got his cold, but he also thought they were delicious.

Beetroot Chocolate Cake

Large Cakes | 3rd August 2009 | By


I’ve been given a most fantastic present by a lovely and newly wedded friend. The fact that it was her wedding and I was given the present was a little odd, but I wasn’t going to say no. A glass cake stand with dome which I have long been wanting – fantastic! Of course I had to make something right away to show it off, but what? The answer came via an e-mail from a friend wanting the recipe to a chocolate beetroot cake I’d made a couple of years ago. What a good idea. Why didn’t I think of that? One of the crops we’ve managed to grow really well this year is beetroot with the resulting “what else can I make with beetroot?” kind of mutterings. I used the Green and Black’s recipe that I used last time, but with less sugar.

This is how I did it:
  • Cooked a large beetroot, then peeled and mashed it.
  • Melted 4.5 oz butter with 100g bar 85% dark chocolate and 6oz dark brown sugar.
  • Sieved 10oz flour (5oz wholemeal spelt, 4oz gluten free flour (as had run out of white spelt) and 1oz quinoa flour)), 1 tbsp cocoa and 2 level tsp baking powder into a bowl and made a well in the centre.
  • Poured chocolate mixture into the flour and mixed in together with 3 large eggs (1 duck & 2 chicken as I’d run out of duck eggs).
  • Mixed in beetroot and spooned into a 23cm cake thingy.
  • Baked at 180°C (gas 4) for 30 mins.
  • When cooled placed on new cake stand then sifted with 1 tsp of icing sugar.
Moist with a smooth texture, it’s definitely a good use for surplus beetroot. My chief taster is not at all partial to this vegetable. Luckily this cake is very chocolatey and apart from the rather deep red earthy colour, the beetroot is quite hard to detect. It got the thumbs up!

Chocolate Fig and Almond Cake

Large Cakes | 10th May 2009 | By


This is a splendid cake for a special occasion – in fact with all those figs and nuts it would make a good alternative, or an addition, to a Christmas Cake. It wasn’t a special occasion but I felt like making it anyway.

  • First of all remembered to take the butter out of the fridge early this morning – most impressed with myself!
  • Cut up 5oz dried figs into fairly small pieces and left them in a covered bowl to soak in 3 tbsp of Amaretto for about 4 hours (longer the better I should think).
  • Creamed 9oz unsalted butter with 8oz soft brown sugar – for ages – I just grit my teeth and get on with it these days.
  • Mixed in 4 duck eggs alternately with 3 1/2 oz sieved wholemeal spelt flour.
  • Stirred in 3oz ground almonds
  • Finally mixed in figs and Amaretto
  • Spooned this into a 23cm round cake tin then dusted top with 2 tbsp cocoa
  • Arranged 3 1/2 oz whole peeled almonds on top of cake.
  • Baked at 175°C (gas 4) for 40 mins.
If you are after a chocolate fix, this is not the cake for you. The Green & Black’s recipe I took this from included 7oz chopped dark chocolate, but I decided to give this a miss as I thought it would detract from the figgy nuttiness of it all. How right I was, this is a totally delicious cake and it would have been less so with the addition of chocolate. The dusting of cocoa on the top was enough to make it onto this blog.

Guinness Cake

5 Star, Cake, Easter, Layer cakes | 13th April 2009 | By


About a year ago, I tasted a chocolate cake made with Guinness.  It was delicious and I’ve been wanting to have a go at making one ever since.  I found a recipe for Chocolate Stout Cake in Green & Black’s, and had a go at making it for Easter Tea.  It didn’t go quite according to plan, as there was too much mixture to fit into my biggest cake pan, so I made it into a sandwich cake instead.  I then had to think of some sort of filling and topping to use at rather short notice and with no shops open!

  • Creamed 8oz unsalted butter with 12oz soft brown sugar for ages.
  • Weighed 10oz flour (6oz wholemeal spelt and 4oz white spelt), 2oz cocoa, 1/2 tsp baking powder and 2 tsp bicarb of soda.
  • Beat in 4 duck eggs alternately with some of the sieved flour mixture
  • Stirred in 4oz melted dark chocolate (85%)
  • Stirred in 12fl oz Guinness alternately with the remainder of the sieved flour.
  • Baked this in 2 23cm round cake pans at 180C in a preheated oven for about 50 mins.
  • Whilst cakes cooling, melted 4oz dark chocolate (70%)
  • Stirred in 4oz butter
  • Added a good sloosh of Guinness and stirred fast.
  • When thick enough used this to sandwich the two cakes together and to ice the cake.
  • Decorated with little gold wrapped Easter eggs

It was a great cake – light in texture, dark in colour, moist and rich tasting.  The icing worked well too, although a bit more would have been better.  
Next time, I shall make a smaller quantity so I can bake it as one cake and use a white chocolate topping to imitate the frothy Guinness top.

Chocolate and Brazil Nut Cookies

Biscuits | 12th April 2009 | By

Our annual Easter walk.  So, something needed that would carry well over a distance of 11 miles and could be handed around to a group.  Biscuits seemed like the obvious choice, I went for a recipe in Green Black’s.  Apart from flapjacks, I haven’t made biscuits for years and certainly not in my rather unpredictable oven, so I was a little nervous.  I was right to be so; they turned out more like little buns than biscuits – next time I shall be a bit more generous with the milk and they should spread in a more biscuit like fashion.  Luckily they tasted good and everyone had second helpings.

This is what I did:
  • Creamed together 3oz butter and 2 1/2 oz granulated sugar (would use light muscovado next time).
  • Beat in 1 large egg,  6oz sifted wholemeal flour and 1 small tsp baking powder and pinch of salt.
  • Mixed in 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and a slosh of milk to make a soft dough.
  • Roughly chopped up a 100g bar of 85% dark chocolate (made a mistake here as meant to use a 70% one).
  • Roughly chopped 2oz brazil nuts.
  • Mixed chocolate and nuts into the dough.
  • Broke of 22 lumps and rolled these into balls between my hands, flattened them slightly (expecting them to spread) and placed on lined baking trays.
  • Baked for 12 mins in a preheated oven at 180°C (gas 4).

Pear and Chocolate Clafoutis

Pudding | 23rd February 2009 | By

Dinner for six last night, so a good chance to try out a new pudding recipe. I went for the very first one in Green and Black’s, clafoutis with chocolate and pears in red wine. I omitted the wine and the jelly. Gelatine didn’t seem a terribly appropriate ingredient for a sitting of mostly vegetarians.

This is what I did:
  • Peeled 6 ripe Williams pears (important to leave stalk on to they can be easily lifted in and out of pan) and poached them for 10 mins in 25cl sherry and 50cl water with the juice and rind of 1 lemon and 4oz granulated sugar.
  • Left pears in cooling liquid to marinade for about 4 hours.
  • Halved pears, removing cores and stalks.
  • Melted 100g 85% chocolate in a pan with 3oz butter.
  • Sifted 4oz flour (2oz wholemeal, 2oz white spelt) into a bowl with a pinch of salt (I used pink Himalayan), a heaped tsp of baking powder an 3 1/2 oz (100g) of ground almonds.
  • Whisked 2 duck eggs into 6fl oz milk and combined this with flour and chocolate mixtures.
  • Divided mixture into 2 buttered Pyrex soufflé dishes and placed the pear halves on top with thinner ends facing inwards around the dish.
  • Baked in centre of oven for 15 mins at 200°C. It’s just right if still gooey in the middle – which it was.
  • Served with sauce, made by reducing the poaching liquid and clotted cream (local and organic of course).
According to the book, this served 8 people – the 6 of us managed to polish it off quite easily. However, fiddling around with the pears is veering a little too much towards the fussy side for me, so although the results were good, not sure I shall be in a hurry to make it again.

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Cake

4 Star, Large Cakes | 15th February 2009 | By

I’m not generally a fan of chocolate chip cakes, but this one, from the Green and Black’s recipe book, sounded interesting with its crunchy cinnamon topping so I thought I’d give it a go.

Of course I didn’t follow the recipe exactly – I rarely do.  This is what I did.
  • Melted 4oz unsalted butter in a pan with 8oz granulated sugar.
  • Meanwhile sifted 1 tbsp gluten free baking powder with 1lb of mixed plain flours (wholemeal spelt, Cotehele wholemeal, white spelt and gluten free flour (I generally like to cook with wholemeal spelt, but have found that mixing in other flours makes for a lighter mix).
  • Added 1 bar of chopped 70% dark chocolate (I used Divine this time, but most often use Green and Blacks).
  • Made a well in the centre and poured in butter mixture.
  • Mixed this in with 2 duck eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract and about 1/2 pt natural yogurt.
  • Spooned this into 23cm round silicone cake baker thingy – silicone cake bakers have transformed my baking experience.  I used to be so put off by having to cut bits of paper and try and get them to stick to the sides of the tin – definitely too much faffing around.  Now I don’t even have to think about all that pre-preparation stuff.
  • Topped cake with 4 tbsp demerara sugar mixed with 1 roughly ground cinnamon stick.
  • Poured over 3oz melted unsalted butter
  • Baked in a preheated oven at 180°C (gas 4) for about 40 mins (cakes always seem to burn in my electric oven if I leave them in as long as the recipe says – so you may need more time).  
The house smelt wonderful for a long time after making this.  The crunchy topping is a real winner for cinnamon lovers and I shall definitely be making this one again.