Chocolate by Miss Witt – an Unexpected Find in the Forest

Chocolate Reviews | 31st January 2014 | By

Last week, we took a trip up country to the New Forest in Hampshire to see CT’s mother. She lives in Lymington, a pretty coastal town on the edge of the Forest. Our visits don’t always include a Saturday, but if ever they do, we make sure we have a good look around the market. This time, we struck lucky.

Lymington Market, for those who’ve never been fortunate enough to venture there, is held weekly on Saturdays and lines both sides of the quite extensive high street. It is an eclectic mix of old style market and new artisan food stalls, with something to interest pretty much everyone: bags, shoes, clothes, vegetables, fish, cheese, sourdough bread, plants, pet accessories, DIY items, antiques, household goods, crafts – you name it, they’ve got it.

It had been nearly a couple of years since I’d visited the market, so as is the way of things, there had been a noticeable change in the mix of stalls. Much to my surprise and delight, I came across a stall selling artisan chocolates. I’d never seen one of those before in Lymington, so I hastened over to have a chat with the stall holder. She turned out to be the chocolatier herself, Miss Witt.

Another surprise was to discover that these were handmade chocolates with a difference. Kerry makes them without cream. Unusually, her fillings are made with water ganache or in the case of fruit fillings, Naked Jams. Kerry explained that she used water instead of cream in her ganache as it brings out the flavours giving a “purer” taste.

We got chatting about water ganache, as you do and before I quite realised what was happening I’d been offered a box of chocolates to take home with me. Needless to say, I didn’t refuse the offer. I’ve made water ganache a few times and I’m always surprised at just how good it is. It makes for a lighter filling I find and also has a longer shelf life as there is no cream involved. For those interested in reducing their fat intake, these chocolates would be ideal. Another advantage is that, depending on the type of chocolate used, water ganache can be vegan friendly.

I chose a mix of dark, milk and white comprised of some of the flavours I thought were particularly interesting. But if truth be told, I would have taken one of each if I could – they all looked and sounded quite delectable. They tasted rather good too, just as good as I was hoping, if not better. CT didn’t get a look in.

Rose Garden
I have a singular weakness for rose, something I associate both with my very much loved grandfather who grew the most spectacular scented roses and my Middle Eastern genes. Both the name and look of this, with its 40% milk chocolate teacup, conjured up afternoon tea in a garden laden with roses. The flavour was sublime, reminding me of the bars of Turkish Delight I loved as a child but find way too sickly now. But this was in no way sickly, it had all of the flavour without overwhelming the palate with sweetness. It had a smooth texture punctuated with pieces of rose petal.

A Shooting Star
This dark ganache covered in 70% Saint Dominque chocolate was most intriguing and I was keen to see how the flavours of blackcurrant, tarragon and star anise would work together. The answer is surprisingly well. I was slightly concerned that the star anise would overpower the other flavours, but I could taste all three individually and in combination and it worked brilliantly with the dark chocolate.

The Italian
I adore the taste of pistachio, but find its essence can so easily be overwhelmed by other ingredients. The white chocolate ganache and covering was a good choice here, allowing the delicate flavour to come through. The ganache was a beautiful green colour and included pieces of caramalized hazelnuts along with the pistachio – let’s just say I’m nuts about this one.

Sencha Sakura
Regular readers of this blog will know how much I like the combination of green tea and chocolate. So this green tea and cherry blossom ganache enrobed in 40% milk chocolate was an absolute must. The ganache was soft and smooth and the flavours were subtle in the way that Japanese things often are. I wasn’t sure I could have identified the ingredients if I hadn’t already known what they were. No matter, it was totally delicious and almost had the characteristics of a really good caramel rather than a ganache.

Afternoon Tea
This one wasn’t in the shape of a cup, but was made with real tea – Cornish tea no less. It was this very one that first started the conversation with Kerry – I was so surprised to see Tregothnan Earl Grey out of its home county of Cornwall. I just had to try it. The flavour of the ganache, which was also soft and very smooth was subtle but delicious. However, I found it was rather overwhelmed by the sweet white chocolate it was coated in and was my least favourite of the six I tried.

Sheer Pleasure
This was a much firmer and chewier ganache than the others I tried and had a lovely hit of amaretto which is one of my favourite tipples. Enrobed in 40% milk chocolate, I can attest this was indeed sheer pleasure.

For those unable to get to Lymington Market, Chocolate by Miss Witt can be bought online.

Many thanks to Miss Witt for the box of chocolates given to me to try. There was no requirement to write a positive review and as always all opinions are my own.

Raw Chocolate Banana Mousse

Banana Chocolate Mousse

The combination of avocado and chocolate is my no means a new one. It is seen as a fruit in many parts of the world and treated as such, with chocolate sauce often smothering it. However, it’s a completely new combination to me. I’ve been wanting to try it for a long time now, but was finally spurred on by Louise’s recipe for chocolate mousse that she posted earlier this month.


Honey & Walnut Yogurt Semolina Cake

Yogurt Semolina Cake

Before Christmas, I was sent vouchers to buy some Greek Gods yogurt to try. However, it was a few weeks before I was able to get to a store that sells them, which was no bad thing given the amount of Christmas baking I ended up doing. Greek Gods yogurt is all about the honey. There is something about thick creamy yogurt and honey which speaks to me of the Middle East. It is a thick Greek style yogurt and is quite delicious as a dessert in its own right. There is no mistaking the honey flavour which comes through quite strongly; I find it very pleasant. The yogurt is a little too sweet for me to eat on my morning muesli; I prefer plain yogurt best for this purpose. On reading the ingredients I noticed there is added sugar as well as honey. Does it really need both? Served with fruit or with puddings instead of cream, however, it would work splendidly. The texture is quite firm, almost solid but smooth and creamy too. It reminded me of the yogurts I used to eat in Switzerland, which were quite different to those then found in the UK.

The Greek Gods range is available at Sainsbury’s stores nationwide and retails at £1.99 for a 450g pot and 99p for a 175g one.

I chose a 450g pot of their honey yogurt, a 175g pot of honey and vanilla and a 175g pot of honey and walnut.  Any of these yogurts, including the honey and clementine which I didn’t buy, would work well I thought in a yogurt semolina cake recipe. However, it was the honey and walnut version that particularly grabbed my attention and it whispered seductively: basbousa.

When I lived in Egypt many years ago, one of my favourite sweet treats was basbousa – a syrupy cake made with semolina and honey. In the sweet shop I particularly favoured, it was served with something that was suspiciously like clotted cream. My Arabic was never good enough to find out exactly what it was, but that’s my bet and I do know something about clotted cream. I’ve tried on a number of occasions to recreate the wonder that was basbousa, but I’ve never managed it. This could of course be false memory syndrome and nostalgia getting in the way. Whatever the reason, I now have a particular fondness for yogurt semolina cakes. I made one recently as part of a 60th birthday celebration and it proved to be popular.


Traditionally, basbousa is made without eggs and is quite a dense cake. I thought I’d try making a lighter textured version, so included eggs and a little flour.  I decided to use white chocolate, which I’ve found works really well in cakes. I reduced the amount of butter and sugar needed accordingly. Nuts are generally used for decoration and are not included in the actual bake, but inspired by the Greek Gods honey and walnut yogurt, I thought walnuts would marry well with the flavours of honey, lemon and rose.

And I was right. the walnut yogurt worked brilliantly in this cake. The result was a substantial yet light cake which was moist with a slightly chewy texture. Not surprisingly  it tasted of honey and walnuts. Any self respecting Greek god would be delighted to tuck into this on Mount Olympus. We had to make do with Bodmin Moor, but there are compensations; we ate ours with clotted cream. Proper Job.

This is my Y for Yogurt Cake entry to Alpha Bakes which is hosted by Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline of Caroline Makes.

I was sent some vouchers to buy Greek Gods yogurt. There was no requirement to write a positive review. As always, all opinions are my own.

This is my tribute to basbousa.

print recipe


Honey and Walnut Yogurt Semolina Cake

by Choclette January-19-2014
A dense but delicious nutty cake made with semolina and yogurt which is then soaked in a sweet citrus and rose honey syrup. It is very simple to make.
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 75g white chocolate
  • 200g semolina
  • 50g wholemeal flour
  • 100g walnuts
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 175g Greek yogurt (walnut & honey flavour)
  • 120g 120g caster sugar (I used cardamom sugar)
  • 150 ml water
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • juice and grated rind lemon
  • 1 tbsp rose water
1. Melt the butter and white chocolate in a pan over low heat.2. Grind the walnuts roughly (I used a coffee grinder).3. Sift the semolina, flour and bicarb into a bowl then stir in the walnuts.4. Make a well in the middle and break in the eggs. Stir from the centre a little. Add the yogurt and stir a little further towards the edges. Add the butter and stir until all incorporated.5. Grate in the lemon zest and stir once more.6. Turn into a greased or lined 8″ sq, cake pan and bake at 180C for 25 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.7. Meanwhile dissolve the sugar in the water in a pan over a low heat. Then add the honey and lemon juice and simmer for about 10 minutes when the syrup should have thickened and reduced. Remove from the heat and add the rosewater.8. Pour slowly over the hot cake making sure all is covered. It will seem like a lot of liquid, but the cake will absorb it all. Leave until cold, then turn out of the tin and cut into squares or diamonds.

Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12 slices

Jerusalem Artichoke Cake – We Should Cocoa #41

Jerusalem Artichoke Cake

A friend recently passed on a recipe for me to chocolatify. He reckoned that not only was this cake unusual, with its inclusion of Jerusalem artichokes, but it was also possibly the best cake he’d ever made. I was intrigued. At this time of year we have no problem getting hold of this particular root vegetable as it grows, almost of its own volition, down on our plot. I adore the taste of artichokes, but do find them a real pain to clean, so I don’t use them as often as I probably should. The cake includes roasted hazelnuts and I could see how well these would work with the nutty flavour found in artichokes.

I had planned to follow the recipe as written, apart from adding chocolate and using my usual half wholemeal, half white flour mix of course, but things went a little awry.  I didn’t have any raisins for a start, so had to substitute sultanas. But mostly, I didn’t read the recipe carefully enough. I ended up using a different method entirely and added all of the sugar (50g more than I should have) to the cake rather than reserving some of it for the icing – oops! I also didn’t think I needed to peel the artichokes, which I scrubbed well cutting out any bad bits.

Some time before Christmas, I was sent three lovely bags of Cacao Barry chocolate drops. This is a new range of high quality couverture chocolate they have introduced. It uses a new fermentation method which purportedly gives a more intense taste. The Q-Fermentation TM method uses natural ferments found in the plants and soil of the plantation which is said to give a purer bean with a fuller flavour. I’m looking forward to trying the chocolate out in a few sophisticated recipes where the flavour can shine through. However, I decided as there were so many lovely ingredients in this cake it would be good to use a special chocolate too. From previous experience, I’ve found that milk chocolate chips tend to work better in this type of cake as a very dark chocolate can sometimes take over rather than enhancing. The 41% Alunga milk chocolate seemed ideal. With its strong caramel notes and high cocoa content, I found it hard to stop dipping into the bag as I went along. I’m looking forward to trying the Inaya 65% and Ocoa 70% dark chocolates in due course.

This is how I made:

Jerusalem Artichoke Cake

Jerusalem Artichoke Cake

  • Added 1 tbsp brandy to a bowl filled with 120g sultanas and placed it on the heater to soak in for about an hour.
  • Toasted 80g hazelnuts in a dry frying pan for a few minutes until the nuts had browned a little and the skins had loosened. Left to cool, then rubbed the nuts in a piece of kitchen towel to remove the skins. Chopped roughly.
  • Grated 200g of well scrubbed and trimmed Jerusalem artichokes in food processor.
  • Creamed 150g unsalted butter with 200g soft brown sugar (should have been 150g).
  • Beat in the brandied sultanas.
  • Beat in 3 large eggs, one by one and alternating with a little of the flour.
  • Sieved in 200g flour (half wholemeal, half white), 1 level tsp baking powder, 1 scant tsp bicarbonate of soda, a large pinch of rock salt, 1 tsp cinnamon and a good grating of nutmeg (about 1/2 tsp).
  • Stirred this in lightly together with the nuts and 50g chocolate drops (41% milk).
  • Folded in the artichokes.
  • Scraped mixture into a deep 8″ lined cake tin and baked for about 1 hour at 180°C (recipe stated 30 minutes, but mine was still almost raw at that stage) until well risen, brown and an inserted skewer came out almost clean.
  • Allowed to cook in the tin for 15 minutes, then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Beat 180g cream cheese (should have been 200g, but that was all I had) with 40 light brown sugar.
  • Grated in the zest of an organic lemon and squeezed in nearly half of the juice.
  • Beat it all together then slathered over the top of the cake.
  • Shaved some dark chocolate over the top.
Jerusalem Artichoke Cake

I couldn’t have told you there were Jerusalem artichokes in the cake, but wow, I’m sure they added to the overall nuttiness. This cake was truly delicious: chewy, crunchy, moist and abundant. The Alunga buttons left chocolatey hotspots throughout the cake which contributed nicely to the overall richness of taste. The sharp lemony icing offset the additional sugar I added by mistake and the cake, thankfully, wasn’t too sweet at all. It was similar to a carrot cake, only, dare I say it, much nicer.

How can I put this politely? I didn’t notice any, er, unfortunate consequences to eating the Jerusalem Artichokes in this way, so it got a double thumbs up from us.

This is my offering for this month’s We Should Cocoa. Linzi over at Lancashire Food is kindly hosting and has asked us to combine an ingredient we have never used with chocolate before. I was initially going to send over the paprika and cocoa roasted cauliflower that I made earlier in the month, but in the end decided this was a more unusual and worthy entry. I can honestly say, that I have never until now, eaten Jerusalem artichokes and chocolate together.

I am also using this as my entry to Family Foodies over at Bangers & Mash. The theme this month is Hidden Goodies. These artichokes are very well hidden and I suspect few would ever guess as to what the cake contained. This challenge is co-hosted by Lou at Eat Your Veg.

Not only made from scratch, but some of it grown from scratch too, I’m sending this off to Javelin Warrior for his Made with Love Mondays.

As this is the most exciting recipe I’ve posted this week, I’m entering it into Recipe of the Week with Emily of A Mummy Too.

BBC Food and Farming Awards

Uncategorized | 21st January 2014 | By

Nominations for the BBC Food and Farming Awards close at midnight on Monday 27th January, so do please hurry to nominate your food heros if you haven’t already done so. I am passionate about real food and have been listening to Radio 4’s Food Programme almost since it started way back in the 70s. Launched fourteen years ago, the awards have been gathering strength and kudos ever since. Now they are the most valued and prestigious awards in the world of UK food. I have been following the stories of those previously shortlisted as well as the winners on the Food Programme and have found them all deeply moving and they offer much “food” for thought.

Over the fourteen years these awards have been running, I’ve nominated any number of local businesses that I thought were offering fantastic food and fantastic service. I’ve also put forward a few names who I rate for the sterling work they’ve done in promoting real food. One such was Andrew Whitley who has made and continues to make a huge contribution to putting real bread back on the British table. Since his book, Bread Matters, published in 2006, TV programmes, real bread bakeries, publications, community bakers and blog posts have been springing up all over the country, in fact all over the world. Andrew was instrumental in setting up the Real Bread campaign in 2009. Those who follow me on Twitter will know from my handle that I’m a keen advocate. In 2011, one of my nominations finally made it through and Andrew won a Special Judges Award.

Sadly chocolate has not yet featured in these awards, but I live in hope that one day it will. I’m not sure if posthumous nominations are allowed, but I have put forward Mott Green for the adventurous and ethical work he did in setting up the Grenada Chocolate Company. His tragic death just before the Food Programme aired its broadcast, the chocolate world of Mott Green, could not have been more untimely.

This year, things have been revamped slightly, following a “year off” in 2013. There are ten categories open for nominations and you can find out all about them here. The producers are particularly keen to get nominations for BBC Cook of the Year – a category for those cooks who are challenging the perceptions of canteen food and creating tasty, healthy meals on a budget in our schools, hospitals, care homes and workplaces.

Amongst the line-up of star judges such as Raymond Blanc, Valantine Warner and Tim Hayward, we have our very own food blogger Jack Monroe. The winners will be announced at the annual BBC Food and Farming Awards ceremony held in Bristol on May 1st. The winners and finalists will also feature on a subsequent Food Programme broadcast.

I have been offered no incentives for writing this post, but do so because I passionately believe in Real Food and hope that my readers do so too.

Oaty Chocolate Chip Cookies – Random Recipes #36

Biscuits | 19th January 2014 | By

This month’s Random Recipes challenge is to make something from a recipe book received this Christmas. Well I didn’t receive any recipe books this year as such, but my aunt has been having a good clear out recently and happened to be staying with us over Christmas. In my stocking I found a Woman and Home magazine supplement from 1986 entitled Irresistible Ways with Chocolate – a real vintage publication and I was delighted with it. Interestingly many of the bakes that are in vogue now seem to have been revived from that era – cakes with meringue, different coloured layer cakes, marble cakes and differently flavoured Battenburgs; lots of fresh fruit and nut recipes too. The other interesting thing is that, by and large, the recipes have less sugar in them than many of our more modern ones do. The sweeter bake has slipped over from the US I suspect.

As there were so many recipes on one page it was a bit difficult to be completely random, but I ended up with a recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies. These were made with rolled oats and I do like a good oaty biscuit. They are also simple and quick to make which is an added bonus after so much Christmas baking.

This is how I made:

Oaty Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Chopped 170g mixed chocolate (mostly dark) into bits.
  • Creamed 110g unsalted butter with 85g dark brown sugar until very pale.
  • Beat in a medium sized egg and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.
  • Added 60g wholemeal flour, 110g rolled oats, scant teaspoon of baking powder.
  • Stirred together with the chocolate until all combined.
  • Placed teaspoonfuls onto lined baking trays placing them well apart. I made 27.
  • Baked at 180C for 11 minutes until golden then placed on a wire rack to cool.

These were not only simple to make, but thoroughly delicious – chewy and very chocolatey. They lasted well in an air tight tin for a few days, but could also be frozen and taken out individually as needed.

Random Recipes is a funtastic blogging event from Dom of Belleau Kitchen which can be very challenging at times. I particularly like it as you never quite know what you are going to get and it stops my recipe books gathering dust on the shelves.

For this bake, I rounded up all my odds and ends of chocolate which had been sitting in the cupboard looking untidy and taking up space. These included some blackberry flavoured dark chocolate, some 56% and some 70% dark chocolate. Other than the chocolate, these are cheap and cheerful biscuits to make so I am sending them off to Credit Crunch Munch with Camilla of Fab Food 4 All and Helen of Fuss Free Flavours.

Chocolate Telegram

Chocolate Reviews | 17th January 2014 | By

When I first heard about this chocolate telegram from Chocol@, I fell in love with the concept. When my own telegram arrived I was truly smitten – a long brown leather-like box containing 36 chocolate squares spelling out: CHOCLOGBLOG. CHOCOLATES. THX. CHOCOL@. What a fabulous and witty idea. Compose a personalised message to your friends, family or business contacts, have it written in chocolate and then have it sent through the post to arrive at their door. With the square chocolates on which the letters and characters are printed, it has the air of a superior (and edible) scrabble board. I’m a seasoned Twitter user and rather like the idea of condensing a tweet’s 140 characters down to 36 – constructing a cogent message will focus the mind and chances are it will live on in the memory as sweeter than most tweets.

The chocolates, by Belgian chocolatier, Jean-Philippe Darcis, are a mixture of dark, milk and white and have various fillings according to the letter, number or character on the top. They are described as being made with the finest ingredients, but I was unable to discover what these were. Perusing the accompanying leaflet, I was gutted to find I didn’t have a single salted butter caramel, even though there are 14 flavours and 56 characters, so every flavour is repeated several times; I needed an 8, K or Q. If you like word play, the description of each letter and character on the website is worth a read in itself. G Spot: These few grams are filled with enough gusto to propel you to the seventh heaven of taste pleasure. You can go gaga over this lemon flavour in a chocolate robe. We’ll understand. It’s all in good taste.

The chocolates are very nicely presented and are sturdily packed. Despite this a couple of mine were broken in transit. I was rather hoping there was going to be a second layer nestled under the first, there was certainly room for one, but my greedy hopes were not realised. The box is sturdy, deep and of good size, measuring 10 by 38 cm. The material is some sort of soft leather substitute in brown with gold stitching and the box is closed by means of a magnetic catch. Once the chocolates have gone, it can be used for any number of purposes; CT thought a refill was the most appropriate. Now, the box might be useful, but what about the taste of the chocolates? CT and I got stuck in.

On opening the box, there was a good strong smell of chocolate which permeated our nostrils and stimulated our tastebuds. We found we couldn’t eat many in one go, which is usually a sign of a good quality chocolate, one that is rich with complex flavours rather than just pure sugar.

Read on …

G- Milk chocolate covering a dark chocolate lemon ganache – quite sharp in a nice way and not too sweet.

C – Poppy – dark chocolate covering a dark chocolate ganache with an unfamiliar taste I couldn’t identify. Trying it after the lemon made it taste bitter and strange, but when I had it on a clean palate, it tasted quite different and I liked it. CT whose tastebuds are somewhat more refined than mine thought he could detect a poppy flavour. Just as well we liked them, because there were a lot of them, being ……O

H – White chocolate covering a liquid caramel which was delicious despite being rather sweet. White chocolate seems an odd pairing for a sweet caramel we thought.

T – Dark chocolate covering jasmine tea flavoured dark chocolate ganache. The flavour of jasmine was quite noticeable and it had the drying quality of dark chocolate and tea. We both really liked this one.

A- Dark chocolate covering a violet ganache – powerful, not in the least bit subtle, but very nice if you like parma violets, which I do. It wasn’t too sweet.

S – Dark chocolate covering a nutty praline with crispy bits. Very tasty and not too sweet.

B – Milk chocolate with a coffee ganache – not too strong and quite sweet.

Lips & Smily Face – Dark chocolate covering a liquid ginger caramel which was gorgeous – warming and spicy and not too sweet.

If you ever get tired of saying it with flowers, you can now say it with chocolate – from £38. You could have a lot of fun dreaming up complex words that incorporate all of the flavours.

I was sent a Chocol@ telegram to review. There was no requirement to write a positive review. As always, all opinions are my own.

Paprika and Cocoa Roasted Cauliflower

Dinner, Savoury Chocolate | 14th January 2014 | By

When I found out what Vanesther had chosen for this month’s Spice Trail, I was a bit perplexed. How was I going to combine paprika and chocolate? After some head scratching, I resorted to the internet and came up with a recipe for roasted cauliflower with cocoa and smoked paprika over on Cornish cauliflowers are in full season right now, so this recipe not only intrigued me but seemed appropriate too. I changed the quantities a little and simplified the method so as not to have so much washing up.

This is how I made:

Paprika and Cocoa Roasted Cauliflower

  • Cut a smallish cauliflower into florets and tossed them in a roasting dish with 1 tbsp rapeseed oil.
  • Sprinkled a large pinch of Himalayan pink salt over the top with a grinding of black pepper.
  • Used a tea strainer to dust 1 level tsp cocoa and 1 heaped tsp of paprika over the top.
  • Roasted at 200C for 10 minutes then turned the oven down to 180C whilst giving the florets a good stir.
  • Stirred again after 10 minutes then cooked for another 10 minutes, making 30 minutes in total.

Although it looked a little charred, partially owing to the dark colour of the cocoa, the cauliflower was pleasingly nutty. It was just the soft side of crisp with a warming quality from the paprika and the cocoa acting as a flavour enhancer. This is not a combination I would have ever thought of, but it is one I may repeat.

I was thinking about using this dish as my We Should Cocoa entry for this month as it fits the bill of using a new ingredient. I have never combined paprika and chocolate before. However, I have something I think is even more unusual in mind, so I will hang fire.

This recipe was made specifically for The Spice Trail with Vanesther of Bangors & Mash who picked paprika for January.

Although I’ve already entered one recipe to Shop Local this month, I couldn’t resist highlighting our wonderful Cornish cauliflowers, so I am duly sending this off to Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.

After the indulgence of Christmas, Louisa at Eat Your Veg has chosen virtuous recipes for January’s Four Seasons Food challenge. This is a monthly challenge co-hosted by Anneli at Delicieux. This cauliflower dish is not only low in fat and low in carbohydrates, but also contains various health giving antioxidants from the cocoa and paprika. Rapeseed oil is also meant to be a goodie.

Victoria from A Kick at the Pantry Door has opted for tasty and inexpensive for this month’s Feel Good Food. I can attest that this cauliflower dish is both of those things.

One Ingredient this month is unusually not an ingredient, but a theme – Healthy. Hosted this January by Nazima of Franglais Kitchen, the event is co-hosted by Laura of How to Cook Good Food.

As paprika and cocoa are not the most obvious partners to the typical Cornish cauliflower, I am entering this into a new food event – Fabulous Fusion Food with Deena Kakaya.


Extra Veg LogoHelen of Fuss Free Flavours and Michele of Utterly Scrummy have come up with a new challenge to get us all to eat Extra Veg. Well, if truth be told, shhhh, we were going to just eat pie for supper until I thought about the cauliflower. So this was our extra portion of veg.

Well, cauliflower florets may not be green, but I did include quite a few of the leaves, so I am cheekily entering it into Lets Cook With Green Vegetables over at Simply Food.

Simple and Season with Ren Behan is back after a bit of a holiday. As one of the first blog events I entered way back when, I am quite attached to it. As cauliflower is very much in season now and this was a very simple dish to make, it fits perfectly.

Tiramisu Cake

Layer cakes | 11th January 2014 | By

Tiramisu Cake

My mother asked me back in November (oh dear where does the time go?) if I would make a cake for her. She volunteers at her village community centre and wanted the cake as a leaving and thank you present for her boss. I knew it was time to make Ruth Clemens’ (aka The Pink Whisk) Tiramisu Cake. This is not a natural choice for me as I am in a small minority of non-coffee lovers. However, I do know it is considered to be one of the most popular flavours ever and I have supporting evidence. When The KitchenMaid chose coffee as the We Should Cocoa special ingredient, we had a record number of entries and Lucy had to do the round-up in two parts. Tiramisu, everyone assures me, is a delicious dessert, so transformed into cake form, how could it fail to please? That was my reasoning anyway.

Cream Cheese Marsala Icing

Ruth is one of those bakers whose recipes I trust. I’ve made a number of her bakes and not once has she let me down. However, as I am completely incapable of following a recipe, I did make a few adaptations. As it was meant to be tiramisu, I used cream cheese in the icing. I wanted to use the classic mascarpone, but when I went down to our local co-op, I found it had stopped selling it, which was mighty annoying. I had to make do with Philadelphia instead. I didn’t cover the cake with ganache either as I wanted the contrast between the chocolate and cream colours to stand out. I reduced the amount of icing sugar in the icing and also used slightly less sugar in the cake.

This is how I made:

Tiramisu Cake

  • Brewed a strong batch of filter coffee and left to cool.
  • Creamed 165g unsalted butter with 250g soft brown sugar and 70g dark brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in 3 duck eggs, one at a time.
  • Sifted in 260g flour (100g wholemeal, 100g white, 60g self-raising white), 70g cocoa and 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda.
  • Stirred this in gently, alternating with 220 ml of sour milk.
  • Added 4 tbsp of the cooled coffee and stirred until just incorporated.
  • Divided the mixture between 2 x 20 cm cake moulds and baked at 180°C for 30 minutes until the cakes were well risen and an inserted skewer came out clean.
  • Left to cool for ten minutes, then turned out onto wire racks to cool completely.
  • Creamed 60g unsalted butter with a couple of large spoonfuls from 250g icing sugar.
  • Beat in 100g cream cheese, then slowly added the rest of the icing sugar.
  • Added 1 tbsp Marsala and 3 tbsp strong coffee. Beat until all smooth and a good spreading consistency achieved.
  • Spread one cake with half the mixture, placed the other cake on top and topped with the remaining icing.
  • Sprinkled with whatever chocolate bits I could lay my hands on.

Tiramisu Cake

I wasn’t expecting it to turn out to be such a stonker of a cake, but petite it was certainly not. CT was rather upset to find his tasting services were not required; unlike me, he enjoys coffee flavoured cakes. Nevertheless, the feedback I received via my mother was very positive and was most gratifyingly demonstrated by an empty plate.

I’m sending this off to Javelin Warrior for his Made with Love Mondays

I’m also entering this into Emily’s Recipe of the Week over at A Mummy Too.

Ginger Shortbread

Biscuits | 8th January 2014 | By

I really thought the orange and cinnamon shortbread was going to be my final shortbread bake – for this Christmas season anyway. But somehow, I found that the chilli and all the other flavoured shortbreads just weren’t quite enough – where was ginger in the equation? Friends recently had an Open House to show off the beautiful home they have now finished building. You can find out more and see some fabulous pictures on the Pentiddy Housebuild 2013 blog – the interior is just how I imagine a hobbit hole to be.

Although it wasn’t actually raining, I felt a warming spice was needed, so I baked some ginger and white chocolate shortbread biscuits and took them along. I also sent a box off to a friend as a New Year’s present. These were the first biscuits I’ve ever sent by post, so I was relieved to find they arrived in one piece.

Just before Christmas (as in Christmas Eve!), Wilko sent me a delightful “Home Made” vintage  cookie press, which also had “Baked with Love” and “Eat Me” options. It arrived a little late in the day for Christmas biscuits, but I was keen to try it out, having exhausted the Christmas stars, hearts and snowflakes.

The stamp worked really well. The rubber moulds are interchangeable and can be washed separately as needed. They fit well on the handle and are not too difficult to remove. My only complaint was that, although there was a hole in the handle for a piece of string, there was no string supplied, so I had to hunt around for something appropriate. I had to dip the mould in flour between each stamp to avoid sticking, but I was working with a particularly sticky dough. I should really have taken a picture before they went into the oven as the crisp lettering in the dough looked really good. Sadly, the writing didn’t hold through the baking process and the words could not be deciphered. Note to self: this stamp does not work with shortbread. I also managed to overdo the 2nd batch, which was a bit frustrating. However, the biscuits tasted fabulous and the lumps of ginger gave a welcome chewy texture and were as warming and spicy as I’d hoped.

This is how I made:

Crystallised Ginger Shortbread Biscuits

  • Softened 50g of good quality white chocolate by putting it in the mixing bowl and placing it on the storage heater for ten minutes.
  • Added 170g of unsalted butter cubed and left to soften.
  • Creamed the butter and chocolate with 75g golden caster sugar until pale in colour and fluffy in texture.
  • Added 50g finely chopped crystallised ginger and creamed some more.
  • Sifted in 175g plain flour (half wholemeal, half white), 80g brown rice flour and a pinch of pink Himalayan rock salt.
  • Stirred until incorporated, then formed into a ball and left in my cold kitchen to firm up for half an hour.
  • Rolled out to about 6mm thickness and stamped out 28 circles. I then stamped them with the “Eat Me” stamp, which I had to dip in flour each time to prevent it sticking.
  • Left to firm up in my cold kitchen for 15 minutes.
  • Baked for 9 mins at 180°C until just golden.
Thanks to Wilko for sending me a cookie press to try out. There was no requirement to write a positive review. As always, all opinions are my own.