Mother’s Day is fast approaching and I can’t help but think of cake. I feel something light and spring like is needed. I know, how about a lavender honey cake scented with lemon and smothered in honey cream cheese icing? Sorted.
As regular readers will know, I can’t resist a brownie. I have many recipes for them on the blog, but there are still so many to try. These black velvet cheesecake swirl brownies with stout caramel sauce were the happy result of two events fortuitously coinciding. It was a no brainer; I had to make them. The third event, is of course We Should Cocoa, the blogger’s monthly, “we need chocolate”.
For years I’ve raged against the invasion of the very American Halloween and associated trick or treating; in the UK, we have All Hallows Eve, from which Halloween is derived. Just five days later we have our very own Guy Fawkes Night, with its pagan effigy burning associations – OK Guy Fawkes was a Catholic, but never mind. Well, finally I’ve come to the conclusion that if you can’t beat them you’d better join them and this chocolate pecan pumpkin cake seemed like a good start. In fact I had no choice; this month’s We Should Cocoa theme is Halloween.
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
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.
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.
Bramble (or blackberry) and apple is such a classic combination, I thought it ought to be tried in cupcake form. I’ve been wanting to make something along these lines for a long time. At last my blackberry and apple cupcakes have come to fruition. Read on for the recipe.
When I was asked if I’d like to bake some cakes as samples for Liskeard’s Fine Food event a couple of weeks ago, I had to come up with something that would be tasty, quick to bake, could be easily cut into smallish pieces and most importantly included chocolate. As apples were in season, I felt honour bound to include these too.
When Dom of Belleau Kitchen asked me to pick a number for his always exciting Random Recipes challenge, I was away from home and unable to follow his exact instructions – that’s my excuse anyway. So instead of counting my books, I picked my lucky number 17 instead. It seems that any blame for what you get sits on my shoulders this month – nice one Dom!
As Dom had honoured me by getting to pick the special number, I thought I really ought to try and do this challenge without cheating. NOT, I hasten to add, that I normally cheat; I’ve just interpreted the challenge to refer to my chocolate cook books only. But not this time, I was going to be intrepid and include all of my many cookbooks scattered around the house, open a page randomly and then take the first chocolate recipe that followed from the page I landed on. If, I reasoned, I got a book that had, god forbid, no chocolate recipes, I would move on to the next book.
Hoist by my own petard. No. 17 for me was Low-Carb Vegetarian by Celia Brooks Brown. Being a bit of a carb junkie, this book has been languishing on my shelves for many years largely unused. And what I got was something that sounded really quite strange – chocolate marzipan cheesecake. It doesn’t seem like an obvious match made in heaven, but I love marzipan, I love cheesecake, so why not?
CT also loves cheesecake and as he is going through a particularly tough time of it, I was hoping that this would be a welcome treat for him.
Reading through the recipe, I was rather dubious about a couple of things, both revolving around a loose-based cake tin. As some of you know, I’m a big fan of silcone moulds which has really made baking life sooooo much easier. I used to be put off by having to line tins, it just seemed one step too far. Now I don’t even think about it – not very often anyway. Cheesecake I felt really couldn’t be done in a silicone mould so I’d have to chance it using the stated tin. Firstly it didn’t say anything about greasing or lining the tin, so I hoped that only greasing it would be OK. Secondly, I was worried that the butter would just melt and leak out all over the oven. I did prepare for this eventuality by putting the tin on a baking tray just in case.
This is how I made my first ever baked cheesecake:
- Melted 50g unsalted butter in a medium sized pan.
- Added 100g ground almonds, 2 tbsp Rapadura (my chosen sweetener), a pinch of Himalayan pink salt and a couple of drops of almond extract.
- Mixed together than pressed down into a buttered 20″ round loose-based cake tin.
- Placed in the fridge to set.
- Melted 150g Green&Black’s dark 72% cooks’ chocolate in a bowl over hot water and left to cool a little.
- Threw 250g mascarpone, 250g cream cheese, 2 duck eggs and 6 level tbsp of Rapadura (my chosen sweetener) into a bowl and beat with electric beaters until all combined.
- Beat in the melted chocolate.
- Spooned the mixture over the marzipan and levelled the top.
- Baked at 150C for 50 minutes.
I was quite right, the butter leaked out all over the baking sheet. The top also cracked, not nice delicate cracks, but great fissures that really didn’t look very attractive. But it did come out of the tin without sticking too much and it was really quite delicious, in fact very delicious. The filling was smooth, creamy and comfortingly chocolatey. The base was chewy, slightly almondy and really rather nice. The two made for quite a delightful contrast and certainly didn’t detract from each other’s flavours. CT was very well pleased with it and it kept him going for some time.
And as this is the month of mad March baking and contains Marzipan and Mascarpone as main ingredients I am also submitting this to the second ever Alpha Bakes where the letter is M. This is hosted by Caroline Makes this month, but alternates with Ros of The more than occasional baker.