Cornish Cake Crawl

As yesterday was CT’s last day of official sick leave, we felt a celebratory day out was in order. We decided to take the train down to Penzance so we could walk along the sea front to Newlyn and then revisit the Honey Pot.

It was a cold and blustery day and having surveyed the boats, inhaled diesel fumes and the smell of fish at Newlyn, we felt in need of sustenance.

We came across a lovely little takeaway, Aunty May’s, which also had a couple of seats. The fishermen took the takeaways, we took the seats. We had delicious felafel filled paninis followed by …. you guessed it – very nice home made cake. For once, I didn’t have chocolate cake so I won’t bore you with the details, but CT did.

On the way back to Penzance, we wandered through the various parks and back alleys that seem to crop up everywhere. After much leisurely wondering we set off to the Honey Pot. They had even more chocolate cake than the last time we were there, I counted 10 different varieties, including gluten free ones.
A warming cup of Earl Grey went very nicely with the cakes we eventually chose.
It was difficult to make a choice – the Ginger Pave was very tempting, so were all the others. In the end, mine was a delicious slice of Apricot & Amaretto Pave and CT had a whopping slice of the Ganache cake.
I’ve not made a pave before so will soon be scouring the internet for recipes. We were not disappointed; we both smacked our lips all the way to the station, which, as luck would have it, was downhill all the way!

Rose & Cardamom Brownies

And another brownie recipe – can one get bored of brownies? Just realised in a moment of panic that friends are calling around after work tomorrow and we have nothing to offer them. The last of the spicy orange brownies have just disappeared! So with only 1/2 an hour to spare a quick recipe is needed and I know that brownies are a firm favourite with said friends.

This is what I’m about to do:
  • Melt 100g butter with 100g chocolate and 150g muscovado sugar in a medium sized pan.
  • Crush the seeds of 4 cardamom pods and stir into chocolate mixture.
  • Beat in 2 eggs.
  • Stir in 5og wholemeal flour, 25g ground almonds, a pinch of salt and 1 tsp rose water.
  • Pour into a greased 9″ x 7″ pan and bake for 12 mins at 180C (gas 4).
CT couldn’t resist a trial taste. His verdict not enough cardamom and couldn’t taste the rose. Oh well you live and learn. Next time I’ll use 6 cardamom pods and at least triple the amount of rose water. Really for the authentic eastern flavour I should have added pistachios instead of almonds, but I didn’t have any of those. Next time I’ll try harder!

Spicy Orange Brownies

Have been so busy this weekend catching up with house stuff and more importantly our allotment that I haven’t had much time for cooking fun stuff. By this evening though, I was beginning to suffer from chocolate withdrawal. I needed something fast. Having recently been tempted by Tinned Tomatoes’ post on brownies, I had those very much in mind. However, as usual I went off on a tangent and ended up making these instead.

This is what I did:
  • Melted 100g butter with 100g spicy orange dark chocolate (Maya Gold) and 150g muscovado sugar in a pan.
  • Beat in 2 eggs.
  • Stirred in 75g wholemeal flour, 1 tsp cinnamon and a pinch of salt.
  • Poured into a 7″ x 9″ tin and baked at 180C for 12 mins.
Quick and easy, all in one pan and delicious to boot!

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).

Lucuma Chocolate Cake

Large Cakes | 10th January 2010 | By

I’ve been rather busy over the past few days making bread and trying to get to grips with sourdough, so chocolate recipes have been on hold. But as I’m back to work on Monday, thought I’d better rectify this while I’ve still got a chance.
I’ve had a packet of lucuma powder lurking in my cupboard for some time now which I bought when I was last in Totnes – time to try it out! For those who are unfamiliar with lucuma (and I include myself in this catagory), it is an Andean “superfood” made from the fruit of the lucuma tree. It is meant to be particularly rich in beta-carotene, niacin and iron. It is quite sweet and is used extensively in raw products as a sugar and flour substitute. It also makes the best ice cream ever – apparently! Dipping my finger into the powder, it tastes remarkably like Hunza apricots – quite delicious. As I really want to see if the flavour comes out in a cake, I have decided to make a simple chocolate cake with no other flavourings.
This is the recipe I came up with:
  • Melt 6 oz butter in a pan with 5 oz Rapadura (or brown sugar of choice) and mix thoroughly.
  • Sieve 4oz flour (3 oz wholemeal spelt & 1 oz buckwheat) into a bowl together with 1 tsp baking powder, 1.5 oz cocoa, 2 oz lucuma and a large pinch of salt (Himalyan pink).
  • Make a well in the centre and pour butter mixture in. Mix this together with 3 eggs (still no duck eggs to be found).
  • Mix in 1 large tbsp yogurt.
  • Spoon mixture into a 21 cm round cake thingie and bake for 30 mins at 180C (gas 4).
Unfortunately 30 minutes was just a few minutes too long in my oven and I managed to burn the top slightly. The texture was light if a little too dry for me. The flavour was subtle, but the fruitiness did come through. My guess is, you’d need to double the amount of lucuma to really get the flavour and maybe only put in 1 oz cocoa. I’d though about adding some yogurt to the mix, but decided I didn’t want to mask the lucuma too much. In retrospect, I think this would have been a good addition producing a slight sharpness and a moister sponge. However, CT and I consoled ourselves with the thought that this cake had to be doing us good! There was an additional bonus – the whole house smells wonderful.

Chestnut & Chocolate Cupcakes

Cupcakes | 5th January 2010 | By

Yesterday afternoon we were going to friends for tea so I was presented with another opportunity to make something chocolatey. I was rather inspired by the white chocolate cupcakes at Chocolate Teapot and thought I would make these. However, I was also inspired by the chestnut and chocolate combination over at Mainly Baking and I remembered I had some leftover chestnut puree that needed using up – the white chocolate cupcakes would have to wait for another day.

This is what I did:
  • Creamed 4oz Rapadura (or use ordinary sugar) with 4oz unsalted butter.
  • Stirred in 2 heaped tbsp chestnut puree.
  • Beat in 2 eggs.
  • Sieved in 5oz flour (1/2 wholemeal, 1/2 white spelt), 1 tsp baking powder and 1 tbsp cocoa.
  • Mixed in 2 tbsp yogurt.
  • Spooned mixture into 12 cupcake cases and baked at 180C (gas 4) for 17 mins.
  • Melted 100g bar 35% milk chocolate with 2 tbsp chestnut puree and 2 tbsp double cream.
  • Stirred until smooth, then spooned on top of the cooled cupcakes.
  • Scattered some toasted almond flakes over the top.
We ended up having a veritable feast of cake as a carrot cake and a lemon cake had also been made. CT is fast regaining the weight that he’s lost over the last couple of months. The cupcakes were divine – a lovely moist consistency with a clearly discernible chestnut flavour and the icing was totally delicious. Yum, yum, will be making these again.

Blog Award

Awards | 4th January 2010 | By

Cynthia from Cookin’ With Cynthia very kindly gave my blog this award.
This is what you need to do (if you want to participate):

  1. Copy the award image into a post.
  2. Then list 10 things that make you happy
  3. Tag 10 bloggers who brighten your day
  4. Put in a link to their blogs
  5. Notify the award receivers
  6. Award recipients must link back to sender’s blog
Being a shy retiring Brit, this doesn’t come easy to me, but I’ll give it a go.
  1. Eating chocolate cake (of course)
  2. Eating chocolate cake with friends
  3. Making chocolate cake (of course)
  4. Singing (whilst doing the above)
  5. Blogging about chocolate
  6. Tending to CT’s every need (as long as it involves chocolate)
  7. Reading (about chocolate)
  8. Growing vegetables – what, nothing to do with chocolate?
  9. Walking by the coast (with ample supplies of “emergency” chocolate)
  10. Convincing myself we need a new set of bathroom scales!
Gosh, I hate making these sorts of decisions. It’s hard to come up with only ten as there are so many great blogs around, but here are some of the food ones that I look at regularly.
The Caked Crusader @ The Caked Crusader
Mangocheeks @ Allotment 2 Kitchen
Suelle @ Mainly Baking
VegBoxBoy @ VegBoxBoy

Mint Chocolates

Chocolates | 3rd January 2010 | By

What to take along to a chilli & DVD extravaganza at a friend’s house last night – hmmmm. Some cooling After Chilli Mints came to mind, that along with some of my redcurrant vodka. I don’t have a terribly sophisticated palate when it comes to chocolate, plain dark chocolate doesn’t always quite do it for me. But I do like a really dark milk chocolate. So I thought I’d experiment with combining a dark and a milk to make these chocolates.

This is what I did:
  • Melted 100g 70% dark chocolate with 100g 35% milk chocolate.
  • Stirred until smooth, then allowed to cool slightly.
  • Added 1 drop of peppermint essential oil & stirred to combine.
  • Spooned mixture into moulds & left to harden.
Not really much more to add rather than: yum!

Cranberry, Walnut & White Chocolate Cookies: Sweet & Simple Bakes

Biscuits | 1st January 2010 | By

My third Sweet and Simple Bake AND it was another chocolate one – hoorah! It was also a great one to make for Christmas presents. How could I not do it? Thank you Maria and Rosie for coming up with such a splendid idea. As I didn’t have any pecans but had loads of walnuts in stock, I decided to substitute one for the other. I also only used 100g of white chocolate as I didn’t really want to have to start another bar and I thought one bar would be enough. Other than that I mostly followed the recipe as given.

This is what I did:
  • Creamed 125g unsalted butter with 100g caster sugar and 75g dark brown sugar until pale.
  • Beat in a large egg and 1 tsp vanilla essence.
  • Mixed in 150g flour (1/2 wholemeal spelt and 1/2 white spelt), 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt (pink Himalayan) and 75g rolled oats.
  • Stirred in 75g dried cranberries, 75g roughly chopped walnuts and 100g white chocolate (Green & Black’s) roughly chopped.
  • Formed mixture into roughly walnut size balls (36), placed on lined baking sheets and squashed down with a fork.
  • Baked in a preheated oven for 12 mins at 180C (gas 4) until golden in colour.
  • Let cool for a few minutes then removed with a spatula onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Packaged into cellophane bags, labelled and tied up with a ribbon.

I was really pleased with these cookies – CT and I had to do a quality taste test of course! They held together really well so were ideal for packaging up, were nicely chewy and very, very tasty.
Wishing you all a Happy New Year and may your baking be satisfying – both in the preparation and the eating.