As soon as I heard that Janice of Farmersgirl Kitchen had picked cherries as the special ingredient for this month’s We Should Cocoa, I had clafoutis in mind. For Christmas I received a beautiful red clafoutis dish from my mother and although much admired, I hadn’t actually used it yet. This was the spur I needed.
Well how exciting. For the very first time, Dom is allowing us to have a choice for this month’s Random Recipes – a limited choice perhaps, but nevertheless a choice. It’s a chance for those sadly neglected first and last recipes in a book to have their day and hopefully shine. So I collected all of my chocolate books together (and they are slowly growing) and asked CT to do his usual and select a random number between 1 and 10. Dah dah – for the second time For Chocolate Lovers by our local celebrity chefs the Tanner Brothers took centre stage. The first recipe in the book was for banana and chocolate souffle pancakes, the last for white chocolate sauce. Oh a difficult choice here, which to go for? Actually, it wasn’t in the least bit difficult because neither CT nor myself are particularly fond of bananas. White chocolate sauce it was then.
This hardly rates as a recipe at all. A simple process of melting chocolate with milk and stirring. I used a slightly less fussy method to the one in the book to reduce on washing up, but didn’t do anything fancy. I used Green&Blacks white chocolate because it is particularly vanillary. It would be fun to experiment with other flavours though – chilli, citrus zest, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper to name but a few.
This is how I did it:
- Broke up 100g bar of white chocolate (G&B) into a pan.
- Added 125ml milk.
- Placed on a low heat and left until the chocolate had melted.
- Stirred until smooth.
- Poured into a jug.
This was very sweet but quite tasty and was especially good over unsweetened strawberries. I also tried it over the chocolate ice-cream which will be featuring in my next post. As it’s such a quick and easy sauce to make and works well either hot or cold, it would be good served hot to spruce up anything that would normally be served with custard or cold as a substitute for cream.
It’s Dom’s second anniversary at Belleau Kitchen this month and to help him celebrate he asked us all to randomly select a recipe from one of our baking books. Hooray. This narrowed things down and made the task somewhat easier as I didn’t have to search through every bookshelf and stack in the house. Including my chocolate books, this gave me twenty in total. I asked CT to choose a number and as it was Friday the 13th at the time, 13 was the number he chose. Luckily 13 was my lovely grandmother’s lucky number, so I don’t feel in the least bit filled with gloom by this particular integer. And I was right not to be gloom filled as the book turned out to be Green & Black’s Ultimate. Flicking through the pages with my eyes closed I landed on a recipe for pudding – Chocolate Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake to be precise. Given that there is often a piece of cake lying around the house to be had, I rarely make puddings, but a friend coming over for supper a couple of night’s ago provided the perfect opportunity.
This very friend had persuaded me just a few days before to buy these cheery little ramekin dishes when we were out and about. So rather than make one large cakey pudding as suggested, it seemed more apt to make individual ones and use these colourful ramekins. As we still had quite a bit of cake left over from my first Clandestine Cake Club event, I only made half of the amount specified in the book.
This is how I did it:
- Chopped 75g dried dates and placed in a medium sized saucepan.
- Poured on 150ml boiling water and simmered for a few minutes with the lid on. Turned the heat off and left to soak whilst I found and greased my ramekin dishes.
- Added 50g unsalted butter, 75g light Muscovado sugar and 75g dark chocolate (85%) and left those to melt.
- Sifted 120g wholemeal spelt into a mixing bowl with 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda. Made a well in the centre.
- Stirred the chocolate mixture until all incorporated then poured into the flour and mixed.
- Broke in 2 smallish duck eggs (probably medium hens eggs) and beat well with my wooden spoon.
- Spooned into the ramekin dishes filling them to just over 3/4 – I also had enough to nearly fill to mini loaf moulds.
- Baked for 20 minutes at 180C.
- Melted 50g unsalted butter in a pan with 2 large tbsp golden syrup.
- Stirred in 100g light Muscovado sugar.
- Poured in 100ml double cream and stirred.
- Bought to a simmer and let it bubble for a few minutes, stirring from time to time.
- Poured some toffee sauce over each of the puddings as soon as they were out of the oven.
- Spent an inordinate amount of time trying to take a photograph in the gloom without a flash until everyone was well and truly fed up with me.
With a friend due for supper last week, loads of spare apples and some bread in need of using up, I knew immediately what I wanted to make for pudding. I grew up calling a stewed apple base with a bread crumb top Apple Charlotte, but apparently that is not correct. Apple Charlotte seems to be more like a summer pudding but using apples rather than summer berries. According to the great god Google, a Brown Betty is what I’ve been referring to all these years. Anyway, this is what I did, making it up as I went along:
- Blitzed 3oz of my rye sourdough into bread crumbs.
- Stirred in 1 tbsp demerara sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon and a grating of nutmeg.
- Melted 1oz butter with 1 heaped tbsp golden syrup and stirred into the bread.
- Peeled, cored and sliced 2 large Cornish cooking apples and 4 small red fleshed ones we found on a wayside tree.
- Buttered a small pie dish and piled in the apple slices.
- Sprinkled 2 tbsp demerara sugar over the apples.
- Scattered 50g chopped dark orange flavoured chocolate over this.
- Spooned the bread crumb mixture over the top of the chocolate.
- Baked for 25 minutes at 180C.
The picture may be rubbish – it was dark, but this was so good, I wonder why I’ve never made it before. The bread crumb top was deliciously spicy and nicely crunchy. The chocolate had melted comfortingly into the apples which were soft and juicy and the dollop of creme fraiche over the top was the perfect finishing tough. The three of us polished it off quick time as the conversation drifted from marine biology to tango dancing via druidic studies.
To celebrate her new blog home, Kate of What Kate Baked (formerly Kates Cakes & Bakes) has issued an Autumnal Challenge to bake something homely, comforting, warming and autumnal. She even has a prize up for grabs. This pud fits the bill nicely – in my humble opinion!
A tad cheekily, but I’m fast running out of time and have a long queue of posts waiting patiently to be published, I am also submitting this to Fabulicious Food’s Simple and in Season.
There’s a new baking magazine on the block, Baked & Delicious and I was sent the first issue to look at. I am a complete sucker for cookery books but in recent years have managed to restrain myself from buying magazines. Now temptation has crossed my path, I am trying hard to overcome my acquisitive instincts.
Although, the magazine is quite small & slim with only 26 pages, I was quite taken by it. I found it had a clear uncluttered layout and I didn’t feel overwhelmed by excessive content. The instructions are clear and simple, but sometimes assume a grasp of baking beyond novice level. For example, no mention is made of which part of the oven to bake in – often a critical factor. As one might expect, the pictures are gorgeous and made me want to get baking straight away. One of the things I particularly liked about this publication is that there is no advertising (other than for the magazine itself). In addition to the recipes, there was a technical section on making choux pastry and one on getting the best from silicone bakeware. Each recipe falls into one of seven categories:
- Classic Cakes
- Bread & Savouries
- Patisserie & Fancy Cakes
- Celebration Cakes
- Biscuits & Bakes
- Better Baking Techniques
As well as all of this, each issue comes with some silicone bakeware. The first issue came with six colourful silicone cupcake cases. As a keen user of silicone moulds, this alone is a siren call to subscribe. I haven’t yet used my cupcake cases, but will certainly have occasion to do so.
Retailing at £2.99 per issue (£1.99 for the first issue), this is perhaps not the cheapest way of acquiring recipes; there were only eight recipes in total in this issue. But as most of us know it’s not just about acquiring recipes – it’s the food porn photography, the anticipation of not knowing what’s coming next and the chance of finding something unexpected.
Here’s one I wasn’t expecting: Bitter chocolate puddings. This is how I made them:
- Melted 125g 85% dark chocolate with 125g unsalted butter.
- Whisked 4 duck egg yolks (meant to be 2 large eggs + 2 yolks, but I had some large egg yolks left over from making macaroons) with 150g caster sugar until thick and pale.
- Beat in the chocolate mixture.
- Folded in 2oz plain flour.
- Divided the mixture between four buttered small pudding bowls and left in the fridge for a couple of days (another deviation from the instructions).
- Baked at 200C for 15 mins.
- Turned out onto plates and quickly got stuck in before they cooled down too much.
After reviving Eve’s pudding and realising what I’ve been missing all these years, what could I do but try a chocolate version. This is what I did:
- Peeled, cored and sliced 4 cooking apples (unknown Cornish variety from my mother’s garden)
- De-husked 100g ground cherries.
- Mixed these in a baking dish with 1 heaped tbsp demerara sugar, 1 tbsp honey, a dash of lemon juice and 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon.
- Placed in the oven, 175C, to soften for about 15 mins.
- Melted 2oz unsalted butter with 50g dark 70% chocolate
- Beat in 2oz dark brown sugar.
- Mixed 1.5 oz spelt wholemeal flour with 1.5 oz polenta in a bowl.
- Added 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon.
- Made a well in the centre and poured in the chocolate mixture.
- Added 1 duck egg and stirred.
- Beat in 170g 0% fat Greek yogurt
- Spooned this onto the softened fruit and baked for 20 minutes until the top was well risen and looked done.
The chocolate sponge rose really well – it must have been the addition of yogurt. It went very nicely with the apple and ground cherries and made a most appetising dessert. Sadly we had no clotted cream this time, but I guess … too much of a good thing and all that! Substituting cinnamon for the lemon flavour and adding chocolate gave it a more wintery cosy feel, which was just right for the cold day. CT thought he preferred this version, although was very happy to demolish either.
I have a confession to make and it may be shocking to some: this pudding has no chocolate in it – there I’ve said it! This is a pudding I used to make regularly about ten years ago following on from a Sophie Grigson cookery series on television, but haven’t made in such a long time I thought it was due for a revival. And because it is such a good one, I thought I really ought to share it. Sophie’s version didn’t contain ground cherries and I expect my method has morphed a bit from the original, but I think I’ve retained its spirit.
This is what I did:
- Mixed 1.5 lb of ground cherries and sliced peeled cooking apples with 1oz demerara sugar, 1 tbsp honey and the grated zest of 1/2 a lemon.
- Put these into a buttered baking dish and baked at 180C for about 10 minutes until fruit had started to soften.
- Meanwhile, mixed 2oz polenta in a bowl with 1oz flour (wholemeal spelt), 1 tsp baking powder, 2oz granulated sugar, a pinch of salt and zest of 1/2 lemon (unwaxed and organic).
- Made a well in the centre and added 1 duck egg, 2oz melted unsalted butter, juice of 1 lemon and enough milk to make a good dropping consistency.
- Spooned over the apples and baked for 25 mins until the sponge was risen and golden.
I’m rubbish at pastry and don’t enjoy making it much, so I rarely make pies and tarts even though I love eating them. But when I saw this post at 5am Foodie, I immediately wanted to make apple pie and thought I’d better do it quick before I chickened out. There is something so nostalgic but also comforting about apple pie, it takes me straight back to my mother’s cooking of yesteryear. I was going to make a straight forward shortcrust pastry, but when it came to it I couldn’t resist making a chocolate version. So here is how I did it:
- Rubbed 180g unsalted butter into 260g flour (160g white, 100g wholemeal), 20g cocoa, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1 tbsp caster sugar until mixture resembled breadcrumbs.
- Added 3 tbsp water and bought mixture together forming it into a ball.
- Placed this in the fridge and left for a few hours until I was ready to assemble the pie (as I understand it, resting pastry in the fridge before using helps to stop the pastry shrink when cooking).
- Cut of just over 1/2 and rolled out to line a 9″ (23cm) pie dish
- Baked this blind at 180C for 10 mins. It shrank – hey ho, the best laid plans!
- Peeled, cored and sliced 6 medium sized windfall apples and put them in a bowl.
- Mixed in a tbsp lemon juice, 100g demerara sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon then left to go slightly syrupy.
- When pie base had cooled, piled in the apples.
- Rolled out remaining pastry until large enough to cover the top.
- Pressed the sides down to meet the pastry base.
- Cut shapes from remaining pastry and placed on top. This is where I went slightly wrong, I blithely decided to ignore Michele’s instructions to cut slits in the top to allow the steam to escape!
- Baked for 30 mins at 180C
Back in those dim and distant days when I was on holiday, I was browsing through Allotment 2 Kitchen and found this recipe. At that point we still had plenty of courgettes and a friend coming over for supper. MangoCheeks advised that this cake was particularly good warm with vanilla ice-cream, so pudding for the evening was sorted – thank you MangoCheeks. Writing this up three weeks later, I can’t of course remember exactly what I did because, as regular readers will know, I am virtually incapable of following a recipe exactly.
So this is what I think I did:
- Creamed 110g unsalted butter with 220g vanilla sugar (instead of 1 tsp vanilla extract).
- Beat in 2 duck eggs
- Sifted in 340g flour (spelt wholemeal), 2 tsp baking powder, 4 tbsp cocoa and 1 tsp mixed space.
- Mixed this in, then added 400g grated courgette.
- Stirred in 120g Greek yogurt.
- Spooned mixture into a 9″ sq cake thingie and baked for about 45 mins at 180C.
I had a few windfalls that were in need of eating quickly and with the weather being rather autumnal, a crumble seemed like a jolly good idea. I’ve been toying with the idea of making a crumble using chocolate for some time, but really wasn’t sure about the concept. However, I thought I’d give it a try this time – so I did.
- Using my hands, rubbed 6oz wholemeal spelt with 2oz butter until the mixture resembled breadcrumbs.
- Stirred in 3oz demerara sugar, 1 heaped tsp cinnamon, 2oz chopped walnuts and 50g chopped 70% dark chocolate.
- Peeled, cored and sliced 5 medium sized apples and put these into a greased ovenproof dish along with a tbsp of demerara sugar and a small glass of water.
- Covered with the crumble topping and baked for 30 mins at 180C.