No Christmas dinner is complete for me without a dish of steaming braised red cabbage. Slow cook it with an apple and some spices and the humble red cabbage is transformed into a dish fit for a king.
I know, I know, the nut roast has had a bad press over the years. But thankfully the days of dried out bits of tasteless, hard, leathery tack are long gone. This lentil & Brazil nut roast is a perfect vehicle for all those delicious Christmas roast accompaniments, not forgetting the stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce. It also stops the vegetarians and vegans feeling excluded in a mixed meal.
This recipe for squash chilli chard feta pasties makes for perfect autumnal comfort food. It a vegetarian take on a traditional Cornish pasty filled with colourful seasonal veg and a bit of spice to keep out the chill. The pastry is really easy to prepare and makes them a joy to put together.
Although I’m someone who loves experimenting with recipes, I tend to stick to the tried and tested when it comes to bread. However, when the travel company Expedia challenged me to make a Cypriot dish for World on a Plate, olive bread was the first thing I thought of.
When I borrowed the Primrose Bakery Christmas book out of the library a few weeks ago, I bookmarked several of the recipes. The one for blueberry cupcakes caught my eye, mostly for the fabulously coloured icing. It’s a rare occasion for me to use food dyes, but I do like my food to be colourful. Icing made with natural fruit juice is a win win and even more so with this sugar free version.
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.
The name of my blog might assume that I know what I’m doing when it comes to chocolate logs, even that I’m something of an expert. Well I’m not. My efforts at rolling have been unsuccessful to say the least, as can be testified by my Liskeard Mess and the various other attempts I’ve made at a roulade. I’ve watched Mary Berry and any number of others do it and I’ve tried various techniques, but invariably my rolls crack hideously and have been known to disintegrate entirely. My least disastrous attempt was this Matcha Chocolate Roll.
Thus, when I was asked recently if I would make a chocolate log, my heart gave a little tremble.
Now it just so happened that I was sent one of the most beautifully packaged parcels I’ve received in a long time. A sturdy but elegant black box contained a newly designed 70cl bottle of Thorntons Chocolate Liqueur, dressed in black and hot fuchsia pink. It was accompanied by two special Thorntons chocolate liqueur glasses wrapped in matching paper and a £10 supermarket voucher nestled in a bed of wood straw. The colour scheme was eye catching indeed and the presentation lifted my spirits – so to speak. The premise was to create a recipe using the liqueur. Ding! With chocolate logs very much on my brain, my first thought was to incorporate the liqueur into the ganache that I’d planned to fill my log with and the thought stuck.
But first, I had to try the chocolate liqueur. CT was not going to pass this opportunity up either. We had a glass over ice followed by a glass neat. We could have gone on, it was so moreish, but I had to apply the brakes before we became inebriated. Originally launched in 2011, this liqueur was developed by the Thorntons master chocolatier, Keith Hurdman; it is a vodka based drink with cream and West African cocoa. It’s hard to think of a better combination than cream, chocolate and alcohol and because vodka does not have a strong taste of its own, the chocolate and cream were allowed to speak for themselves. At 17% volume, this is quite a strong drink, so a little goes a long way. It wasn’t quite as dark or as rich as the Bailey’s Chocolat Luxe, but it was nevertheless delicious. And at £13.99, this is an affordable treat.
If you are able to restrain yourself from drinking this chocolate liqueur just as it is, there are any number of ways you could use it. The bottle came with a recipe card for various cocktails, drinks and desserts. I haven’t tried any of them yet, but I think I’m going to have to, as some of them sound very tempting indeed. With the cold weather now upon us, a hot chocolate with a slug of this could be just the thing after a bracing walk. How about a Thorntons Chocolatini or a Thorntons White Russian to indulge and delight your guests. As for the recipe for Thorntons Fondant, it has my name written all over it.
This is how I made:
Chocolate Log with a Whipped Dark Chocolate Ganache
- Melted 50g 72% dark chocolate in a bowl over hot water, then removed from the heat.
- Stirred in 2 tbsp Thorntons Chocolate Liqueur.
- Stirred in 100 ml double cream until just incorporated.
- Left to cool in the fridge for 1/2 hour whilst getting on with the sponge.
- Whipped the ganache until light and moussy.
- Whisked the eggs whites of 3 duck eggs in a bowl with electric beaters until stiff.
- In another bowl, whisked the yolks of 3 duck eggs with 75g vanilla (caster) sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract for a minute or so until the yolks were pale.
- Sifted in 30g cocoa powder and carefully stirred in.
- Folded in the egg white until just incorporated, then scraped the mixture into a 19 x 29 cm Swiss roll tin lined with baking paper.
- Baked for 20 minutes at 180°C when the sponge had risen and the top was bouncy when pressed. Left in the tin to cool.
- Covered a clean piece of baking parchment with vanilla sugar. Turned the sponge onto this, then peeled off the backing paper.
- Spread the ganache evenly over the sponge. Cut half way through the sponge, 1 cm in on the narrow end to help start the roll. Then using the sugar covered paper to help, rolled the sponge up as carefully as I could.
- Cut about 1/2 cm of either end to neaten.
- Dusted with vanilla sugar.
Well, maybe practice makes perfect, maybe I just got lucky or maybe the glass of Thornton’s liqueur I sipped whilst baking played its part. There were a few cracks, but the sponge held together and I was marginally pleased with the result. I was very pleased with the taste and texture of the chocolate log – thank goodness for neatened ends.
The whipped ganache containing Thorntons Chocolate Liqueur was, though I say it myself, sublime. It was light and moussy in texture with a rich chocolate flavour enhanced by the presence of the liqueur. It was a perfect match for the chocolate log and I’m now wondering why I’ve never tried anything like this before. The ganache is an ideal recipe for the festive season and could be used to fill any number of cakes and biscuits. I will most certainly be making it again.
As I was secretly, or maybe not so secretly, pleased with this chocolate log especially the whipped dark boozy chocolate ganache, I am using this as my entry for this month’s We Should Cocoa where alcohol is the special ingredient.
I am also submitting this to Lets Cook Christmas Party Food over at Simply Food.
Additionally, I’m sending this off to Javelin Warrior for his Made With Love Mondays.
It’s a very tricky letter that’s been picked for Alphabakes this month, but luckily it’s December so X for xmas is allowed. Hooray. I am thus sending my Xmas Chocolate Log to Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline of Caroline Makes.
I’m sending the bottom photo off to No Croutons Required with Jac of Tinned Tomatoes who is looking for Festive Photos this month.
Well it doesn’t get more Christmassy than a Chocolate Log, especially a boozy one, so I am submitting this to Calendar Cakes where the theme this month is Jingle Bell Rocks. This event is co-hosted by DollyBakes and Laura Loves Cakes.
I was sent a bottle of Thorntons Chocolate Liqueur and a supermarket voucher in order to create a recipe. I was not required to write a positive review and as always, all opinions are my own.
|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.