We Should Cocoa – The Rose Round-up

We Should Cocoa | 31st August 2011 | By

Well I had a feeling some of you were going to find this month’s rose We Should Cocoa challenge, err, challenging and it seems I was not far wrong. It took ages for the entries to start rolling in and at one point I was wondering if there would be anything to round-up at all! However, you were not going to let such a thorny thing defeat you and in the end 23 “rose” (pun fully intended) to this month’s challenge.


In My Kitchen – August 2011

Uncategorized | 28th August 2011 | By

And now for something a little different. Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial does a superb monthly series of In My Kitchen and it’s a firm favourite of mine. There is always so much going on in her kitchen and she has such delightful things to show and tell. She has generously invited others to do their own In My Kitchen and finally, I have got my act together to do so.

To start, it had to be something chocolatey. One last remaining rose cupcake from the We Should Cocoa challenge.

One of the bottles of rosehip syrup recently made from rosehips which have been languishing in the freezer for a year. They were gathered from Rosa rugosa scrub on a nearby beach. The hips of this species are particularly big and juicy. This reminds me, it’s about time to go and gather some more.

Some gorgeously coloured US cup measures, very thoughtfully sent from Jac of Tinned Tomatoes after I was bemoaning the fact I couldn’t get my head around using cups.

Some garlic cloves gleaned whilst sorting through the 80 bulbs of garlic we grew this year.

A bowl of organic hens eggs I’m lucky enough to be able to buy locally.

A couple of cute little biscuit cutters a friend sent me for my birthday, but for which I haven’t yet found a home.

A vase of dill flowers from our plot.

A bowl of delicious eating apples from my mother’s best tree, but whose name has been long forgotten.

Two loaves of my weekly no frills rye sourdough, fresh from the oven.

Our water egg – a present from CT nearly a decade ago. It’s a ceramic egg which, due to its shape is said to keep liquids stored in it fresh. It includes a copper spiral set in beeswax in the lid which contains imploded water which is claimed to have subtle energetic properties. For more info on this see the Centre for Implosion Research.

A jar of home made creme fraiche just set and about to be put in the fridge. It’s simplicity itself to make.

And to end on a chocolate note, a tin of organic chilli hot chocolate which arrived unexpectedly in the post from Steenbergs – for me to review.

Rose Cupcakes – We Should Cocoa 12

Roses are a universal favourite, so beautiful and diverse in form and colour and often so sweetly scented. My grandfather was a keen rose grower and had the best rose garden I’ve ever seen – perhaps I’m a little biased here, but it was a long time ago that I last saw it and the memory just gets better and better! Anyway, because I loved my grandfather, roses hold a very special place in my heart and, I have to say, in my stomach too.

Having set the rose challenge, I really wanted to try and use roses to their full extent, but wasn’t sure I’d have time to make what I had in mind. The plum and rose traybake I made as a fall back was delicious, but only had rosewater in it. I’d set my heart on some ultra rosy cupcakes using rose in four different ways: rose sugar, rose water, rosehip syrup and crystallised roses. To complete the theme, I also had some rose paper cases hiding in the cupboard.

This was a day long process and here’s how I made them with a few disasters on the way:

  • First thing in the morning picked the one and only rose bloom in the garden, which had fortuitously opened at just the right time.
  • Painted the petals with egg white then dipped them in a bowl of caster sugar.
  • Put on a rack to dry and left in a warm airy place for as long as possible (ideally these would have been done the day before, but I just crossed fingers & hoped for the best).
  • Made a big batch of rosehip syrup with 1 kilo of rose hips that we’d harvested last year and had been taking up room in the freezer ever since.
  • Simmered them in 1.5 litres of water for a good half hour, mashing the fruit as it cooked.
  • Strained through a muslin cloth and left to drip for about six hours – overnight would have been much better, but I wasn’t that organised.
  • Simmered the juice with 500g unrefined granulated sugar for about 1/2 an hour until lightly syrupy.
  • Poured into bottles and sealed.
  • Made some rose sugar by blitzing, in a coffee grinder, 125g sugar with a handful of red scented roses I’d dried previously.
  • Melted 125g unsalted butter with 100g 35% milk chocolate (G&B) in a large pan.
  • Stirred in 125g rose sugar.
  • Beat in 2 duck eggs (one being the remainder of the one used to paint the rose leaves).
  • Sifted in 150g flour (half wholemeal and half white), 1 small tsp of baking powder and a pinch of bicarb.
  • Stirred in 2 tbsp no fat Greek yogurt.
  • Stirred in 1 tbsp of rosewater.
  • Spooned into 12 muffin cases and baked at 180C for 18 minutes.
  • Turned out on a rack to cool.
  • Creamed 50g unsalted butter with 100g icing sugar.
  • Decided it would be a good idea to use some of our homemade creme fraiche – big mistake!
  • Added 1 tbsp rose hip syrup and 2 tbsp creme fraiche and tried to beat into the butter cream.
  • This did not have the desired effect. I ended up making sweetened cultured butter and a load of sweet buttermilk – interesting, but not what I’d intended.
  • Drained the buttermilk from the butter and started again.
  • Creamed this second lot of butter with a further 100g icing sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in 1 tbsp of rosehip syrup.
  • Spread this over the cooled cakes.
  • Sprinkled with a small amount of pink sugar.
  • Topped with the few petals that had sort of crystallised.

The syrup was rather disappointing in colour but although fairly sweet, it had a lovely fragrant flavour. The last time I made it I’m sure it was orange rather than brown and it I’m pretty sure it wasn’t so sweet. However, the upside to this, is that it should last well and hopefully keep all those autumnal coughs and colds at bay.

Although the rose petals had lost their scent by the time I used them, I was hoping for a nice pink sugar, but as you can see from the picture, that didn’t really happen. I’ll know for future reference that more petals are needed.

Despite the various disappointments and problems encountered along the way, these cupcakes were truly delicious – chocolatey and definitely rosy. The cakes were light and moist with both the chocolate and rose flavours nicely balanced. They had a fantastic texture with a particularly smooth mouth feel. The creme fraiche topping carried the fragrance of the rosehip syrup nicley. Perfect cupcakes for summer and they kept well too.

Here are a few other things I’ve made using rose as a flavouring.

Plum & Rose Chocolate Cheesecake Bake

Dom has put a jinx on me. He left a comment about finding my misreading of recipes rather endearing. The cheek of it! Mostly, I choose not to follow the recipe. But ever since he said that, I have indeed misread them and today was no exception! The friends we visited last weekend (who munched through my chocolate courgette cake), gave us a bag of Victoria plums from their holiday let garden – mmmmmm. I wanted to make something a little more interesting than CTs suggestion of a crumble – not that I have anything against crumble. I was looking for a way to get both rose and chocolate into it as a Plan B for We Should Cocoa, just in case Plan A didn’t happen. This Plum Traybake from Waitrose sounded interesting, especially as we had some of CTs homemade kefir cheese that needed using up. All I needed to do, was to substitute the vanilla for rose and make the cheesecake a chocolate one. However, as it turned out, I didn’t do it quite as I’d meant to:

  • Stoned and chopped 400g of Victoria plums.
  • Melted 125g 46% milk chocolate in a bowl over hot water an left to cool.
  • Mixed 200g kefir cheese until smooth.
  • Beat in the melted chocolate and set aside.
  • Creamed 175g unsalted butter with 200g cardamom sugar.
  • Beat in 4 eggs one by one.
  • Sifted in 200g flour (1/2 spelt, 1/2 white) and 1 tsp baking powder.
  • Stirred in 1 tbsp rose water.
  • Spooned half of the cake batter into a 9″sq cake mould. This proved to be rather difficult as there wasn’t a huge amount of batter.
  • Spread the cheese mixture over the cake batter, then scattered half of the chopped plums on top.
  • Spread the remaining half of the cake batter over the top and scattered the remaining plums over this.
  • Baked at 180C for 35 mins.
  • Left to cool then cut into 16 squares.

It wasn’t until I’d made the cake and re-read the original recipe, that I realised I was meant to put one of the eggs in the cheesecake – oops! Despite, the mishap with eggs, the result was truly scrumptious. It started with a lovely fruity hit, both sweet and tangy, then came the unctuous creamy chocolatey bit. The rose was very subtle, but left it’s mark in the mouth long after the cake had disappeared – in a nice way. 

Chocolate Cherry Trifle

5 Star, Dessert | 19th August 2011 | By

Having made one decedent dessert a few weeks ago, I was soon ready for another. I had cherries, I had some crème fraîche that needed using up and some egg yolks left over from the Chestnut Cream Meringue Cake I’d made. Friends from The Viewing Gallery had also just given me a jar of their wild cherry jam. Black Forest sprang to mind.


Chocolate Courgette Squares

Traybakes | 16th August 2011 | By

Along with the current glut of courgettes here in the UK, there seems to be a corresponding glut of courgette cake recipes. Guess what? I’m not bucking the trend. It took a while for our courgettes to get going this year, but they are now coming thick and fast. It’s courgettes for every meal at the moment so using them in a cake is merciful relief.


Malty Chocolate Cake

4 Star, Loaf Cakes | 13th August 2011 | By

After my less than successful strawberry fairy cakes, the next recipe to catch my eye in my not-so-new-now Peyton and Byrne, was this malty chocolate cake. It wasn’t the picture that entrapped me this time – there was no picture, but the word malty. Malt conjures up so many childhood treats. I loved malt extract, except when it was used as a method to hide cod liver oil – yuck! A cup of horlicks was always welcome as was the jar that I would pinch the odd teaspoon out of when no one was looking. And my mother still makes a mean malt loaf. Anyway, I sort of guessed this was going to be a really good cake and thankfully it was. This is what I did:

  • Melted 50g 85% dark chocolate with vanilla in a bowl over hot water.
  • Creamed 70g dark muscavado sugar and 110g light muscavado with 125g unsalted butter until pale and well incorporated.
  • Beat in 1 duck egg.
  • Sifted in 140g flour (100g wholemeal, 20g quinoa, 20g white), scant tsp baking powder, 1 heaped tbsp Horlicks and a pinch of salt.
  • Stirred this in, followed by the chocolate.
  • Mixed in 110ml milk
  • Stirred in 65g milk chocolate drops (40%).
  • Spooned into a 900g loaf mould and baked at 170C for 35 mins in the first instance. The book said 35-40 mins, but my cake needed another 15 minutes and was still slightly underdone.
  • Left to cool, then turned out onto a rack to cool completely.
Unfortunately my loaf mould was a cheap one from Baked and Delicious so it didn’t hold its shape very well and the pictures I took are dire! This cake was so delicious: whilst dense it melted in the mouth and was very moreish. And to top it all, there was the additional treat of chocolate bits in nearly every bite. It wasn’t quite as malty as I’d have liked at first, but as it aged the malt developed. Amazingly we managed to keep this going for a whole week and it kept really well. We could quite easily have demolished the whole lot in one sitting, but we were trying not to be too piggy!

Chocolate Scones for International Scone Week

4 Star, Scones | 10th August 2011 | By

Back in January, I made my first foray into the world of chocolate and scones with these very tasty chocolate chip scones. Subsequently this lovely recipe, originally for Black Forest Scones, was sent to me by Jane Maile. Jane used to run a tearoom in the Cotswolds and these were one of the treats she regularly baked for her customers. In her own words:

So far these are probably my most unusual scones and cause some surprise which soon turns to ecstasy when they are tasted. Preferably warm from the oven they must be eaten with black cherry jam and lashings of clotted cream – a chocoholic’s delight!

Well it took me a while, but I did eventually get around to making them and coincidentally just in time for Celia’s International Scone Week.

I didn’t exactly follow the recipe and used watered down yogurt rather than milk and lemon juice. But the saddest omission was failing to use cherry jam to top the scones, I didn’t have any to hand, so Black Forest would have been a misnomer.

This is how I made them:

  • Put 8oz flour (half spelt, half white), 1.5 oz cocoa powder, 1.5 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt into a large bowl.
  • Added 2oz unsalted butter and cut this into pieces with a knife.
  • Rubbed the butter into the flour until the mixture resembled breadcrumbs.
  • Stirred in 3oz vanilla (granulated) sugar.
  • Broke a duck egg into a measuring jug and topped up to 1/4 pt with a mixture of half yogurt / half water.
  • Stirred into the dry ingredients then brought the mixture together with my hands.
  • Rolled out on a floured surface to 3/4″ thick and cut into eight 2″ rounds.
  • Placed onto a lined baking tin, brushed the tops with milk and baked for 20 minutes at 190C.
Jane warned that if these scones were too sticky, they would not rise and that extra flour may need to be added. Did I heed her? No. My scones did not rise as much as I’d hoped and they were a little moister than they should have been, but who likes dry scones anyway? And, more importantly, they tasted delicious, especially topped with lashings of clotted cream. I shall have to make these again when I have some cherry jam as I really don’t care to miss out on the ecstatic experience Jane describes. I will of course apply the jam first -tis the true Cornish way.

Tropical Brownies – Random Recipes 7

Tropical Brownies

With heart in mouth I watched as CT picked a recipe for this month’s Random Recipe challenge, created by the dastardly Dom of Belleau Kitchen. This month we get to randomly pick any book in our collection and then randomly pick a recipe from said book. In my case this means a choice from my nine and a bit chocolate books, rather than my whole collection.


Golden Beetroot Cake

4 Star | 4th August 2011 | By

Now why is it I’m so useless at taking note of recipes? I pride myself on never following a recipe and using it for inspiration or guidance only, but sometimes it’s quite a useful technique! The moment I saw Dom’s golden cake post I was almost gagging to make it. Trust Dom to come up with such an inspirational recipe. I’ve made plenty of beetroot cakes in the past, but never thought of using golden beets and yet we’ve been growing them for years. It was the golden colour that most appealed, but also the word itself – something to do with summer and the warm glow of hopes and aspirations – a culinary El Dorado.

Anyway, I lifted a couple of large golden beets from our plot and the first chance I got I put them on to cook. First mistake! If I’d looked at the recipe beforehand rather than relying on a very vague memory, I would have realised they were meant to be grated raw – hey ho, never mind. The second mistake I was much more bothered by. Dom’s recipe called for light muscovado sugar. Trawling through my cupboards, I realised I’d run out of it, so before I thought about the implications, I’d bunged in a load of dark muscovado sugar; no hope for a beautiful golden cake now. Why I didn’t use caster sugar instead I’ve no idea. I made a few intentional alterations: I omitted the vanilla extract as I wanted the lemon and beetroot flavours to shine through – golden beets are very sweet and have a  lovely flavour, I also used a little less sugar.

Anyway, this is what I ended up doing:

  • Mashed up 250g cooked golden beetroot.
  • Added 100ml sunflower oil and 175g muscovado sugar and whisked for a while to break up the lumps of sugar.
  • Whisked in 3 duck eggs.
  • Sieved in 100g flour (half wholemeal and half white), 50g ground almonds, 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda.
  • Stirred in the grated zest of an organic lemon (I always try and use organic lemons as I know they are unwaxed).
  • Poured into a 23cm cake mould and baked at 180C for 40 minutes.
  • Turned onto a wire rack to cool.
  • Melted 50g of milk chocolate and 50g white chocolate (just because I had a half bar of each).
  • Mixed 125g mascarpone with 125g fromage frais and a tbsp of lemon juice.
  • Combined the cheese and chocolate mixtures and spread on the cooled cake.
  • Decorated with white chocolate stars.

The house smelt really sweet and fragrant as this was cooking, with lemon and syrupy notes very much to the fore. We couldn’t wait for the icing to set properly, so greedily cut into it at the first opportunity. The golden colour was not entirely obscured and it still looked quite appealing. The cake rose well, although CT thought it had the consistency and some of the flavour of treacle pudding. Really it was like a lemony ginger cake without the ginger: quite light, moist and rather moreish.

But, oh such a tragedy, we couldn’t eat it quite fast enough. The weather being very warm and very humid, the cake went mouldy after only three days and we had to throw nearly half of it in the compost bin. Our worms don’t know how lucky they are.