Bake off fans will no doubt be lusting after the incredible edifices produced by the GBBO contestants, but our very own We Should Cocoa showstoppers are up with the best and all vying to take centre stage. Thank you to all 26 participants old and new for celebrating We Should Cocoa‘s 3rd anniversary with such verve and style.
Next month’s challenge is being hosted by Ness of JibberJabberUK, so be sure to take a look at her blog on 1 October to find out what the magic ingredient is going to be.
Dom of Belleau Kitchen kicked things off in fine style by winning the much coveted award of Best in Show at the Abbey Village Show for his stunning Summer Cake. Dripping with luscious fruit as it is, it’s hard to imagine anyone being able to pass this one by. Well done Dom.
Adapting a much loved recipe from her university days, Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe baked this lovely dark vegan chocolate layer cake to celebrate We Should Cocoa and another of Dolly’s birthdays – it seems she has quite a few!
Whilst not quite the one cake I asked for, I couldn’t help but include these stunning triple chocolate mini bundts. Stacy of Food Lust People Love has created a real showstopper or should I say showstoppers.
Ruth of Makey-Cakey did a very clever thing with After Eights and two types of cake for Mr E’s Birthday Cake. It made me smile and I’m quite envious of the jolly party had by all at one of my favourite places, Arthur’s Seat.
Temptress Gill of Pigling Bland was given the task of persuading an overseas work colleague to stay in the country by coming up with a cake so good they couldn’t resist. This rocky road chocolate cake was the result; it has seriously tempted me, I’m not leaving.
After attending a class by The First Lady of Chocolate, Alice Medrich no less, Rebecca of BakeNQuilt created this masterpiece. Her Queen of Sheba torte is a chocolate and almond one and the icing stays miraculously shiny even after setting.
It was great to see some seasonal produce being used and this Chocolate Courgette Cake has to be the most glamourous one I’ve ever seen. Elizabeth of Elizabeth’s Kitchen made this to celebrate several birthday events and my only concern is how is she going to distribute it to interested parties in Canada, Cornwall and Shetland?
It appears no stops were pulled out for this celebration and Shaheen of Allotment 2 Kitchen has used real gold leaf to add an extra touch of show and luxury. She has thus given a second name to her vegan gold leaf and chocolate cake – Bling Bling Cake, which kind of says it all. The lucky recipent of this one was Shaheen’s nephew who was off to University for the first time.
Chocolate overdose pie anyone? I think all of these entries could probably claim that title, but laden with chocolate biscuits, melted marshmallows and cream, this pie does sound seriously wicked. Maybe it’s just as well Kat of Life of a Cupcake Baker is too busy to blog so much these days.
I’ve heard many a good thing about Paul A Young’s brownies, but I’ve not only never eaten one, I’ve never tried making one either – what have I been blogging about all these years? Claire of Under the Blue Gum Tree is not nearly as tardy and has made a brownie combining three of my favourite ingredients – chocolate, raspberries and butterscotch. My tongue was very nearly hanging out when I first saw this butterscotch raspberry brownie and I really think I need to do something about it.
If ever you want to make a pink princess cake, hop over to Caroline’s blog Caroline Makes for a step by step guide. It looks terribly clever and most professional. I’m sure the recipient Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker was extremely pleased with her birthday cake.
I regularly look forward to Susan’s entries from The Spice Garden, they are always so interesting and sound so delicious. Dense, moist, rich and gooey, this chocolate cake with milk chocolate crunch and caramel sauce is not likely to disappoint.
This chocolate Guinness celebration cake from Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker was made for an Irish colleague’s wedding anniversary. She even made some very cute chocolate champagne bottles to decorate it with. It was voted as one of the best cakes Ros has made this year.
Laura of I’d Much Rather Bake Than … had a very trying week and didn’t quite make the birthday cake for her flatmate that she’d originally intended. But the gluten free white chocolate and lemon giant cupcake which she came up with sounds fabulous. It contained white chocolate and her own homemade lemon curd.
Now hold your breath, the clue is in the name. This triple chocolate star cake from Alexandra of The Lass in the Apron is not only elegant, but is a masterpiece of chocolate indulgence. You name it, it’s there – dark, white, milk, cocoa powder and not only that, it’s an eggless sponge too.
A beautiful bundt is next to make it’s appearance. Jean of Baking in Franglais managed to find a bargain bundt tin and immediately used it to good effect to make her sister in law a birthday cake. Milk chocolate, toffee yogurt and crunchies formed the basis of the resulting milk chocolate and toffee cake.
Chocolate cloud icing sounds so good. I haven’t tried it, but Janine of Cake of the Week is a big fan. She’s used it to make this moist and decadent Chocolate Chocolate Bailey’s Cake.
Nat of Hungry Hinny brought back a few tips and tricks from last week’s Cake and Bake Show and wasted no time in putting them to good effect. This beautifully decorated black and white chocolate showstopper consisted of dark chocolate cake layered with white chocolate mousse and raspberry jam and was made for a friend’s birthday.
Next up is a cake to celebrate a 13th anniversary as well as a 3rd. Erica of Tea With Erica must surely have had me in mind when baking this anniversary cake, for this dark chocolate layer cake is filled with salted caramel and just in case you weren’t already aware, this is one of my very favourite things. One filling was not enough for Erica though, a second fudgy walnut filling was also used and the whole thing was topped off by a dark chocolate ganache – mmm!
And now for my celebratory chocolate amnesia cake. Other than remembering it tasted very good and that I spent an inordinate amount of time whipping the ganache filling and topping, I am still no further forward in remembering how I made the cake.
Louise of Eat Your Veg was under pressure to create a birthday horse cake for her pony mad daughter whose 5th birthday it was. Never having tried anything like this before, she saddled up her creative streak and achieved a cake to be proud of.
September, it seems is a very popular month for birthdays. There was a 60th birthday to celebrate over at Corner Cottage Bakery and Hannah got busy in the kitchen to bake her mother a chocolate and vanilla layer cake. Hannah insists the artful stencilling on the top is quite simple to do; I remain impressed but unconvinced.
With the theme of the GBBO in mind for her Clandestine Cake Club meeting, Jen of Blue Kitchen Bakes decided to adapt one of the early technical challenges. Instead of making Mary’s coffee and walnut battenburg (one that was, incidentally, made at this week’s Cornwall CCC), Jen branched out and made a chocolate and vanilla battenburg held together with white chocolate buttercream.
For a right royal CCC, Jill of Lapin d’Or made this regal chocolate orb cake. Of course if it was a real orb sitting in the monarch’s hand, it would melt very quickly leaving unbecoming smears on the ermine robe. Luckily, this one is sitting on top of a rather delicious looking chocolate cake, so disaster averted and pleasure increased. Inspired by Vivienne Westwood, this has a punky edge to it.
Lucy of The KitchenMaid went for a real heartstopper with this fabulous take on the antipedian classic pavlova. Her chocolate mousse cake contains copious amounts of chocolate and cream, ingredients without which life really isn’t worth living.
This month’s Random Recipes has been restricted to puddings, cakes and bakes, which suits me fine. I picked my book the usual way using Eat Your Books and got Seaweed and Eat It: a family foraging and cooking adventure by Fiona Houston and Xa Milne.
My mind went into a bit of a frenzy trying to imagine what seaweed and chocolate would taste like and in what form I could possibly put them together. I had a look through the book and really there wasn’t a great deal I felt I could make from it – not that included chocolate anyway. So, I cheated a little, just a tiny bit. Before giving up on the book entirely, I thought I’d look to see if there was a suitable recipe I could adapt and I found one – Yummy Muffins. These muffins were unlike anything I’d made before as they used cream cheese and lemon juice so I was keen to try them. One of the ingredients was foraged berries. Well I didn’t have any of those to hand, but I did have plenty of windfall apples, so I used those instead. And of course, I added a bit of chocolate.
This is how I made:
Apple Chocolate Chip Muffins
- Sifted 300g flour into a bowl together with 1½ tsp of baking powder and ½ tsp of bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of sea salt.
- Stirred in 175g cardamom (caster) sugar.
- Peeled, cored and finely chopped 2 cooking apples making about 200g in total.
- Added this to the flour and stirred to coat.
- Chopped 75g of milk chocolate (35% G&B)
- Melted 90g unsalted butter in a pan over low heat.
- In a separate bowl, beat 90g cream cheese with the juice of half a lemon until combined.
- Beat in 2 eggs, followed by the butter.
- Beat in 125 ml sour milk – recipe stated ordinary milk, but I had some to hand that needed using up.
- Made a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and poured in the wet ingredients. Mixed gently until just combined.
- Spooned into 12 muffin cases and baked at 180°C for 25 minutes.
As we hadn’t been out of Cornwall, I didn’t have anything particularly exotic to offer the team on my return from annual leave, so these muffins went back to work with me instead. They quickly disappeared and the feedback I got was very positive, so I can say these muffins were a success and I shall be making them again.
These muffins were specifically created for Dom’s Random Recipes over at Belleau Kitchen.
As these muffins were meant to be made with foraged fruit and were in fact made by foraged windfalls, I am submitting them to Credit Crunch Munch which is hosted this month by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary. This is a monthly challenge run by Fab Food 4 All and Fuss Free Flavours.
|Hearts for Love|
The cake was a commission and a heart shape was chosen. As it was meant for a tea time treat, I was keen to use one of these Afternoon Tea Chocolates.
|Stars for Celebrataion|
To ensure I got to try some, I took the precaution of baking a second small rectangular one for us. This one was to celebrate We Should Cocoa’s third birthday. The cakes were of the sandwich variety and I filled and covered them with some sort of ganache.
The cake itself was moist and chocolatey, but the whipped ganache filling and covering was sublime. I do remember it had lots of chocolate in it and I beat it for ages so it was rich, but light and airy, almost mousse like.
We have been drinking Pukka tea for many years in this household. They have a wide range of interesting organic teas that are ideal for non black tea drinkers like me. However, until I was sent some products from Pukka to review recently, I didn’t know that they did anything other than tea. Looking at their herbal website, I can now see they sell all sorts of interesting health products including Ayurvedic herbal supplements. I am particularly taken by their organic ghee which I’ve never seen for sale before. Well it seems you are never too old to learn. The other thing I noticed was that everything seems very reasonably priced. I was recently sent a pack of Pukka green tea with lemon, a jar of their own brand coconut oil and a bar of Divine 85% Chocolate.
This post is a bit of indulgence. I have a heap of posts waiting to be published or written that should be taking priority. But rather unexpectedly, I was able to lay my hands on my first cookbook last night and couldn’t resist baking something from it this morning. Claire at Foodie Quine is to blame for this little renaissance. She got rather excited about finding a copy of her first cookbook, wrote a post about it highlighting a few other first cookbooks and is now hosting an event this month for bloggers to post about theirs.
It just so happens that Janice of Farmergirl Kitchen has the very same book as mine – My Learn to Cook Book: a children’s book for the kitchen by Ursula Sedgwick with fabulous and much loved illustrations by Martin Mayhew. We both still have our original copies, although mine resides at my mother’s and we were both given our books as a present from a Great Aunt. Mine was given as a Christmas present when I was eight and I immediately set to and cooked my way through the entire book. I don’t think there is a recipe there I didn’t attempt, some with more success than others. You can tell which recipes I used a lot by the copious staining on some pages. The page for Zoo Biscuits is almost completely blue from the food dye I used to paint the biscuits. Some recipes such as the Chocolate Mousse I carried on using well into my adulthood. Some recipes are frankly, a little bizarre. The fruit fried sandwich, which is two slices of bread sandwiched together with bramble jelly and grated apple and then fried in butter is not something I find immediately appealing. On the other hand, I’ve just made some bramble jelly and I have a house full of apples ……….
A couple of years ago, I made Crispy Crackolates from the book for the first time in many a long year. This time, I decided to have a go at the Chocolate Drops – more commonly recognised nowadays as choc chip cookies. Although the book gives fairly explicit instructions most of the time, it does let you down on occasion. I had no clue as to how many biscuits the mix was meant to make. As I was in a bit of a hurry and didn’t want to have to prepare more than one baking tray, I heaped mine up into 12 mounds which made for crispy edges and a chewy middle. Sixteen would have made a better and flatter size, but you live and learn or at least that’s what you are meant to do. I used wholemeal spelt flour and Willie’s Venezuelan 72% chocolate drops for added wow factor and because I’d just managed to get some on special offer.
This is how I made:
- Creamed 2 oz unsalted butter together with 2 oz caster sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in a medium sized egg and a ¼ tsp vanilla extract until combined.
- Sifted in 3 oz wholemeal spelt flour and a pinch of sea salt, then stirred until just combined.
- Stirred in 2 oz dark 72% chocolate drops, which I’d previously cut into pieces as they were quite large.
- Spooned heaped teaspoonfuls onto a line baking tray to make 12 mounds – now realise 16 smaller mounds would have been much better.
- Baked at 180°C for 12 minutes until brown around the edges and golden on top.
It’s the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness so fruits and nuts are at the fore. Chocolate, however, is always in season. Over the last month, I had the pleasure of being sent the following products to review. All are artisan chocolate desserts made using good quality ingredients.
Eden’s Gourmet Caramel Apples – Chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk, cocoa mass, lecithin and vanilla extract) and Caramel (fresh cream, condensed milk, butter, sugar, golden syrup, vanilla extract.
I loved the concept of these Eden’s Gourmet Apples, a deluxe version of toffee apples. Covered in caramel and then coated in Belgian chocolate and decorated with nuts or cookies, these just had to be better than your average toffee apple. I bet Eve would have been even more tempted by one of these in the Garden of Eden. I haven’t had a toffee apple in years, so was quite excited by the prospect of trying one. The two I was sent were very nicely presented with bows and looked most inviting. CT thought they looked like lava and who wouldn’t like chocolate lava? Both were milk chocolate versions, but one was covered with oreo cookies and the other with walnuts.
I unwrapped the first with glee, grabbed the stick and tried to take a bite of the admittedly larger than mouth sized apple. This proved to be very difficult as not only was it too large, but the chocolate proceeded to shatter and fall off. Had I bothered to read the instructions on the packet, I would have realised the stick was a prop to conjure up nostalgic memories of childhood fun fairs and bonfire nights. The serving suggestion given was to cut the apple into six to eight pieces. This makes a lot more sense; I had to grab a plate anyway to catch the cookie and chocolate fragments. By the time I came to eat the second apple, I was wise to its ways. Even so, the outer coating came off rather too easily, making it difficult to eat all components at the same time. When I managed it, I found the tart apple and sweet confectionary was a very good combination. I was less sure about the chewy skins of the apples.
The apples had shiny waxy skins and looked suspiciously like Granny Smiths. To the best of my knowledge these aren’t grown commercially in the UK. I hope I was mistaken and they are in fact true British apples. I’m sure the skins contributed to the caramel and chocolate falling off so easily. It was hard to tell if the chocolate is world class, as claimed; it was rather overpowered by the caramel, nuts, cookies and apple.
However, unlike most toffee apples where the apple itself was often mushy or bad, these apples were in good condition, tart and crisp. Due to other commitments, I was unable to eat the second apple for a couple of weeks. Surprisingly, this did it no harm at all. The apple remained in good condition.
These gourmet caramel apples are definitely a bit of nostalgic fun and would make a unique gift for any occasion. The less sweet and crunchy walnut version was our favourite. They can be bought for £7.95 at the online shop.
Chocolate and Kentish Cobnut Fudge – sugar, evaporated milk, Kentish cobnuts, single cream, condensed milk, butter, cocoa powder, sea salt, vanilla seeds.
We have been noticing lots of hazelnuts in the hedgerows around here in East Cornwall, so we have surmised it must be a good year for them. Normally the squirrels get to them before we do. Hopefully this isn’t the case at Potash Farm, a leading producer of Kentish cobnuts, which I was very pleased to find is a Soil Association registered organic farm. Not only that, but it has the distinction of being the only farm to carry this status for cobnuts. Cobnuts are a type of large hazelnut traditionally grown in Kent and were particularly prized by the Victorians for their superior taste. They are harvested and sold both in their green juicy state for eating in late summer or in their dehusked and mature state for Autumn and Christmas consumption.
Along with such other chocolatey delights as their chocolate enrobed caramelised cobnuts, Potash Farm have recently launched this chocolate and Kentish cobnut fudge. Pairing chocolate and hazelnuts is a classic and much loved combination. So, how do they match up in fudge? Well the two testers in this house gave it the thumbs up and one had to be physically restrained from finishing the bag off all by him/herself. It’s easy to see why: this fudge is rich and chocolatey with the added bonus of an interesting texture delivered by little pieces of chewy cobnuts. Once the crumbly yet creamy fudge has disappeared there are still cobnut fragments to chew on – a piece of fudge lasts longer than you might expect.
A 200g bag costs £5.25 or £10 for two from their online shop which includes free delivery.
Chocolate Log Blog readers can use this exclusive 10% discount code valid until 18th October 2013.
Chocolate Amaretto & Almond Terrine – plain chocolate, cream cheese, almonds, Amaretto, unsalted butter.
It was chocolate and nuts again – hooray. As I’ve already stated, this is a winning combination. Having tasted first walnuts with chocolate, then cobnuts, it was good to get some variety and this time it was almonds in the spotlight.
Calling this chocolatey treat a terrine is a good idea, it’s such an apt name. The firm truffle like consistency, with its smooth texture, has a chewy bite to it from the liberal addition of nuts. The addition of Amaretto was perfect, not in the least bit overwhelming, but giving an added air of luxury to the terrine. Like the fudge, the chewy nuts made each mouthful last much longer than it otherwise might. It was very rich and was like eating chocolate truffles with a spoon. This is a dessert for sharing, or taking the odd surreptitious spoonful when passing the fridge, ahem – naughty but very nice. The terrine was well and truly embedded in its tub and I was unable to turn it out. This was rather annoying as it would have been nice to slice or cube it and add some to the top of an ice-cream sundae for example. It’s the sort of dessert I could very quickly become addicted too.
I really liked the style of the wrapping which is bright and reminiscent of a patchwork quilt. However, I was not so happy that it was delivered in a very large box. I thought I’d received a huge hamper of goodies so I was very disappointed to find only one small tub of chocolate terrine. I dislike waste and this seemed ridiculous. To be fair, the box also contained a small wooden tray full of leaflets and a cute 40 piece wooden jigsaw of another Patchwork design, but that didn’t take up a great deal of space either and I have no idea what I’m meant to do with all the leaflets.
At £4.30 for a 120g tub, these are not cheap, but boy are they delicious.
A video recipe on the Patchwork site suggests warming the terrine up, mixing with creme fraiche and pouring into a baked pastry case to create an easy chocolate tart. As you’ve already discovered, I didn’t do that, but if I’d had a few to experiment with, I surely would.
I was sent these items for review purposes and as always, all opinions are my own.
A handful of Victoria plums were one of the hauls from last week’s foraging expedition in my mother’s garden. Initially, I was going to make a plum tart with them, but then I saw Ren Behan’s easy English plum cake recipe and thought I would adapt that instead.
Who doesn’t like getting a nice greetings or thank you card? Even better when it is a chocolate greetings card. Scottish company Chocmotif offer a service whereby you can personalise an 80g bar of smooth Belgian milk chocolate with a picture and / or words of your choice printed onto it. Now that is what I call clever. They have a number of different design templates to choose from including inserting your own face into the Mona Lisa, a wanted poster, Keep Calm and Carry On ……. and a keyhole design. It’s definitely worth having a look at their site to see what is on offer.
When the postman knocked on the door, I wasn’t at all sure what to expect. Making the initial selection wasn’t the most straightforward of processes and one of the templates I wanted to use didn’t seem to be working. In the end I went for the simplest of the templates, which was a rectangular picture with your own words. I used a photo of my figgy Victoria sandwich as a thank you for my friend Victoria and a photo of ox-eye daisies from our plot for my gardening fanatic friend Lorna.
As it turned out, I was really happy with the cards I received. In fact I’m really excited by them and now can’t wait to give them to the intended recipients. The quality of the picture printed on the chocolate is excellent. Sadly the same can not be said for the photos I took of the product. The chocolate comes framed within a card forming the inside picture, but is easily removable for consumption. The card itself has an attractive exterior design and comes with a matching gift tag. The whole thing is enclosed in a sturdy card envelope and is very tastefully done. I have to confess, I wasn’t expecting it to be so good. At £5.99 I think this gift represents good value, although it must be noted that postage and packing is extra. It is such an original and fun product, allowing the purchaser to create something unique and personal. Any frustration I experienced at the time of ordering is now forgotten.
I haven’t tried the chocolate, it seemed a bit rude to sink my teeth into somebody else’s bar, so I can’t really comment on the quality. However, it is Belgian couverture with a 30% cocoa solids content. It is also nut and gluten free, which is a big plus for those with allergies who often find it difficult to source suitable chocolate. The printing is all done with edible food dyes and the ingredients are listed on the envelope.
Chocmotif are kindly offering Chocolate Log Blog readers a 20% discount on the personalised chocolate cards until 8 December 2013. Please use the following discount code:
September is a month of abundance, or at least it is in my mother’s garden this year. We went foraging there a few days ago to see what we could find. As well as gathering lots of windfall apples, a big bowl of blackberries, some plums and a few blueberries, we came home with four ripe figs.
It was my pleasure as well as my pain to be one of the three judges for the Rangecookers Cupcake Creative competition. My pleasure, because it was a real joy to see the amazing cupcake creations that bloggers came up with, but my pain because it was very hard to choose just a winner. There were a lot of entries and they all deserved attention. I suspect my fellow judges, Jac of Tinned Tomatoes and Lis of Foodstuff Finds felt very much the same. You can find out how we made the difficult decision on Jac’s announcement post.
The winner was announced a couple of weeks ago, but in case you missed it, I’m highlighting it here, along with five others that we thought deserved particular note.
Congratulations go to the winner who gets the prize of a new range cooker:
|Raspberry Lemon Swirl Cupcakes from Super Golden Bakes|
|Chocolate and Raspberry Cream Cupcakes from My Golden Pear|
|Salted Fluffer Cupcake Cones from Cakeyboi|
|Peanut Butter & Jam Cupcakes from Country Heart and Home|
|Rainbow Marshmallow Cupcakes from Wallflower Girl|
|Neopolitan 99 Ice-cream Cupcakes from What Me and the Boys Say|