Vegetarian food blog featuring delicious and nutritious whole food recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

Vanilla Biscuits Sandwiched with Chocolate Ganache

Vanilla biscuits sandwiched with chocolate ganache.

Very vanillary vanilla biscuits sandwiched with a rich vanilla chocolate ganache. The biscuits are made with Chardonnay wine to give a slight fruity note and hint of sophistication. They’re just the thing for an afternoon tea party or to give as a gift.


Chocolate Blackberry Cake – We Should Cocoa #49

As this is a We Should Cocoa anniversary, I wanted to do something a little bit special. I also had a cake to make for a friend. I knew I wanted to use the chocolate blackberry jam I made a couple of weeks ago; it’s not only rather special but seasonal too. Leafing through some of my baking books, I came across Ruth Clemens’ Ultimate Chocolate Cake recipe in her book, The Pink Whisk guide to Cake Making. The recipe looked good and as we are all in the throws of the Great British Bake Off, it seemed rather appropriate as Ruth was one of the finalists back in 2010.

I decided to follow the recipe for the cake batter and the ganache, but not the buttercream as I was going to use jam. I halved the ganache recipe and changed the cake recipe a little – I just can’t help it! I attempted feathering for the first time using the leftover blackberry white chocolate ganache from the blackberry puddings recipe I have yet to post.

This is how I made:

  • Measured 220ml milk into a jug and added 2 tbsp of malt vinegar to make a quick version of sour milk. Gave it a stir and left to coagulate.
  • Creamed 165g unsalted butter with 300g light Muscovado sugar and 30g of Molasses sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in 3 duck eggs (large hens eggs can be substituted) one at a time.
  • Sieved in 200g plain flour, 80g self-raising flour, 60g cocoa powder (I used Food Thoughts fairtrade & organic), 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda and 1 tsp mesquite powder (optional – gives a slight caramel flavour).
  • Folded in alternately with the soured milk.
  • Spooned the mixture into 2 7″ oiled baking tins and 3 small rectangular silicone moulds filling them to about 3/4 full.
  • Left to cool in the tins, then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Brought 140 ml of cream to the boil in a small pan with 1/2 tbsp golden syrup.
  • Added 175g of 53% dark chocolate and left for a couple of minutes.
  • Stirred until well mixed and smooth.
  • Sandwiched the large cakes together with chocolate blackberry jam.
  • Topped with the ganache.
  • Piped lines of white chocolate ganache on top and then used a tooth pick to feather the lines – or at least attempted too.
  • Cut the mini cakes in half, sandwiched with the jam then topped with the ganache. 

The batter rose so well, that it annoyingly overflowed, which was not quite what I was looking for. The mixture was also a little fragile, so needed to be handled quite carefully when still warm. It was, however, very light and quite delicious. CT, who wasn’t party to the intricacies of the creation, was quite taken by the unexpected pleasure of the blackberry jam cunningly secreted in the middle – ooh he said.

Chocolate Log with a Whipped Dark Boozy Chocolate Ganache

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.

Thorntons Chocolate Liqueur

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.
Chocolate Log

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’m using it 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.

Coffee Biscuits Sandwiched with Whipped Coffee Chocolate Ganache

Biscuits | 9th February 2013 | By

If you like just a hint of coffee, but nothing too overpowering, these coffee biscuits are for you. Crunchy biscuits (or cookies if you prefer) are filled with an ultra light whipped coffee chocolate ganache. They are irresistible.


Rosemary Chocolate Truffles – Random Recipes

Chocolates, Gifts | 16th December 2012 | By

When Dom announced that this month’s Random Recipes was to choose something from a book gifted at Christmas last year, I thought oh good. I was thrilled to have received Tea with Bea as a present last year and really haven’t used it much. Now was my chance, I thought. But something was drifting around in the back of my mind, trying to get break through to the surface. With a feeling of doom, the thought finally emerged: I received two books for Christmas last year. The second was the highly regarded Cooking with Chocolate by Frederic Bau from the Ecole du Grand Chocolat Valrhona – eek! Don’t get me wrong, this is a fantastic book and I love poring through its pages whilst having fantasies about reproducing the high art of patisserie found therein. But these are, I should stress, fantasies, not actuality. I mean to say, me? Actually make something from it?

I used a random generator hoping against hope that Tea with Bea would be chosen; after all I did have a 50% chance. But, it was not to be. With heavy heart, I used the random generator once again. Page 378 gave me a concoction so complicated I nearly fainted on the spot. A cake made up of seven, yes seven different recipes: chocolate sponge, ginduja pastry, gold-dusted chocolate shards, chocolate custard, cocoa syrup, chocolate mousse and a chocolate glaze. I could see Christmas would have to be cancelled as I locked myself in the kitchen for the next few days. No, sorry Dom. For the first time in all these months of entering Random Recipes I was going to cheat. I had a tentative look at the recipe on the previous page and then looked again. Yippee, Golden Palets (or truffles to you and me). I was wanting to make chocolates for Christmas and to enter Vanessa’s virtual Lets Make Christmas chocolate event having sadly missed the real live one at the Rococo Chocolate Factory in London, so these would be perfect. Even the thought of tempering chocolate and the three stars donating hardest level recipe, did not put me off. These seemed to be simplicity itself in comparison to the da Vinci Code of cakes.

On 12/12/12 it was my Great Uncle’s 100th birthday. There is a big family get together up in Kent this weekend to celebrate this momentous and unusual event. I wanted to make a particularly good job of these chocolates as some of them are destined for the birthday boy. No pressure then.

Inevitably, I changed the recipe, but like to think I stayed true to the spirit of the golden palets. I flavoured the ganache with rosemary rather than vanilla and upped some of the quantities as I wanted to make a goodly number.

This is how I made rosemary chocolate truffles:

  • Placed a large sprig of rosemary from the garden into a pan.
  • Poured in 250ml double cream and bought to a simmer.
  • Turned the heat off and left it to infuse until cold.
  • Removed the rosemary.
  • Added 2 tbsp of set Cornish honey and warmed the mixture up again until it was just hot and the honey had melted.
  • Gave it a good stir.
  • Melted 240g dark chocolate (Green & Black’s Cook’s 72%) in a bowl over hot water.
  • Stirred until smooth then removed from the heat.
  • Poured one third of the cream into the chocolate and stirred in quick small circles until all incorporated.
  • Poured in another third and repeated followed by the final third.
  • Added 25g of diced unsalted butter and stirred until smooth.
  • Spooned some into 24 chocolate moulds and left to set overnight along with the rest of the mixture.
  • Turned out the ganache from the moulds onto a silicone mat and rolled teaspoonfuls of the remaining ganache into 30 balls.
  • Melted 340g of dark chocolate (Green & Black’s 72% Cook’s) in a glass bowl over hot water, ensuring it didn’t go over 58C.
  • Removed from the heat and let it cool down to 29C
  • Placed it back on the heat and raised the temperature to 32C
  • Dipped the ganache pieces into the chocolate with a fork and placed on a silicone mat to set. Decorated some with a sugar flower and some with a light dusting of edible gold glitter – 54 in total.
  • Hunted around for hours, trying to find suitable boxes to put them in.
  • Used the remaining melted chocolate for other items which will feature on the blog in due course.

My tempering didn’t give my the glossy chocolate I was hoping for, but I wasn’t really surprised. Apart from anything else, my kitchen was colder than the fridge, which doesn’t make for happy chocolate. However, after the three hours it took me to temper the chocolate and dip everything, I was determined to be pleased with the results. They certainly tasted fantastic, with the flavour of rosemary coming through nicely, but not too strongly. The texture was beautifully smooth and with a bit of dressing up, they looked fine.


Dom may have a lot to answer for, but Random Recipes spurred me into action and produced a huge number of chocolate gift boxes, so I will forgive him 😉

I was so sorry to have missed the fabulous Lets Make Christmas gift swap with Vanessa Kimbell and Chantel Coady, but am delighted to be able to submit this post to the virtual version and thus play some part in the great chocolate event of the year. Incidentally Vanessa is very excitingly now running a cookery school in Northampton called Juniper & Rose.

With the rosemary playing such an important part in these chocolates, I am also submitting this to Karen’s Herbs on Saturday.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Celebratory Layer Cakes | 18th January 2012 | By

A surprise late Christmas gift arrived in the post the other day. It was actually a prize from Rose of Now & Then Delicious for the mince pies I made from orange pastry and my homemade chocolate mincemeat. I was well chuffed that I’d won and really pleased to have this little copy of baking: 100 everyday recipes published by Parragon Books arrive through the post. It has lots of standard recipes in it, but also quite a few little gems, such as fig and almond muffins, that I’m quite keen to make. As I had a friend’s birthday cake to bake, it seemed only polite to try one of the recipes from this book.

Chocolate fudge cake was the chosen one. This was a 20 cm sandwich cake; as I don’t have any 20 cm moulds (I really must get some as they would be REALLY useful), I thought smaller would be better than bigger, so went for an 18 cm cake and four cupcakes. I also cut down the quantity of ganache used.

This is what I did:

  • Creamed 175g unsalted butter with 175g vanilla sugar (caster) until well incorporated and fluffy textured.
  • Beat in 3 tbsp of syrup and a pinch of salt.
  • Beat in 3 medium eggs alternating with a spoonful of the flour mixture.
  • Sieved in 175g flour (half wholemeal, half white), 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 40g cocoa powder and 40g ground almonds.
  • Stirred this in alternating with about 50 ml of milk (although would have used water as stated in recipe if I didn’t have some milk that needed using up).
  • Spooned into two buttered 18cm tins and 4 cupcake cases.
  • Baked for 20 minutes at 180C.
  • Melted 150g dark chocolate (used Green&Blacks 72% cook’s chocolate) in a heavy pan over a gentle heat with 1oz dark muscovado sugar and 110g unsalted butter.
  • Stirred until smooth.
  • Added 5 tbsp double cream and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.
  • Stirred and left in my cold kitchen for about 1/2 an hour to firm up – but not set!
  • Used some to sandwich the two cakes together, then spread most of the rest over the top and around the sides of the cake, leaving just enough to top the four cupcakes.
  • Decorated with silver stars on top and alternating pink and white sugar flowers around the edge.

The cake proved to be a great hit at the impromptu birthday party, which followed on after a brisk walk along the river Fowey. It was a nice moist cake with a good slab of ganache in the middle. If that sounds solid, it really wasn’t. The ganache had a melt in the mouth texture and was darkly chocolatey. It also tasted slightly fudgey due to the brown sugar, but was not overly sweet.

Chocolate Macaroons – Random Recipes 2

Chocolate Macaroons

Biscuits, Gluten Free | 15th March 2011 | By

Well I messed up good and proper on this one, in all senses of the word! First off, I thought I’d be organised and get CT to pick my next Random Recipe Challenge well in advance, so I could plan the best time to do it. THEN Dom went and changed the rules. We were meant to choose book number 18 (not that I have 18 chocolate books to choose from I might add, not yet anyway). Note to self – wait until a challenge is actually issued before going ahead with it. Sorry Dom, I’m hoping that you won’t disqualify me.

Second off, I followed the same routine as last time and CT picked chocolate macaroons from Unwrapped. Aaaaah, macaroons!  Fiddly, faffy food is not my forte (alliteration might be). This was going to be a real challenge for me and I knew I had to put some serious time aside for it. My mother was having her somewhat delayed Christmas dinner which is always a wondrous affair of Goose (mock goose for me) and the best Christmas pudding ever. So, I thought perhaps these would be just the thing to show off and impress everyone after dinner – hummmm.

Thirdly, I tried really hard to follow the recipe and instructions for this, but still came out with macaroons that were unevenly sized and looked nothing like the elegant macaroons I keep seeing on everyone else’s blogs. Fourthly, this was the first time I’d tried using the piping bag that CT gave me for Christmas. Well, I knew there was a reason I had been putting this off and this was duly confirmed; I got more of the mixture over myself, the outside of the bag and the worktop than I did inside the actual bag. I found it fiddly, faffy and frustrating AND I broke the bag.

Fifthly, the ganache split, grrrr – why didn’t I follow Marc Demarquette’s recipe which had worked so well in the lemon balm ganache I made last year?

This is how I went about it:

  • Covered two baking sheets with baking paper.
  • Hunted around for my new and yet unused piping bag – had no idea where I’d put it. Recipe stated a 2 cm nozzle, but I didn’t have one of those so made do with the biggest one I had.
  • Whizzed 8oz icing sugar in the coffee grinder to get the lumps out then sifted this into a bowl with 4 1/2 oz ground almonds and 1 oz cocoa.
  • Decided I couldn’t be bothered to get my electric beaters out, so spent an inordinate amount of time whisking 4 duck egg whites until nearly stiff.
  • Sifted in a further 1 oz of de-lumped icing sugar and whisked again until stiff and glossy.
  • Tried to gently fold in the rest of the icing sugar mixture, but didn’t really understand how this could be done gently.
  • Left to rest for 10 mins – no idea why, but I was trying to follow the recipe.
  • Stirred in 1/4 tsp vanilla extract – which was meant to deflate the mixture a little and stop the tops from cracking. Mine was already deflated and the tops cracked anyway!
  • Things started to get really messy. The recipe instructed me to pour the mixture into the piping bag. What? I had no idea how you were meant to pour a mixture that wasn’t pourable anyway into a bag that doesn’t stand up or stay open. I spooned the mixture into the bag as best I could (which wasn’t very successful).
  • Piped the mixture onto the baking sheets in a swirling motion to form rounds (that were meant to be evenly sized – ha). I made 33 rounds, but am sure I could have made quite a few more if I hadn’t spread so much of the mixture around the kitchen (who said piping was easy?)
  • Used a tea strainer to dust cocoa over the tops.
  • Baked first batch on top shelf at 220C for 1 minute then turned oven down to 180C and baked for further 9 mins.
  • Removed macaroons immediately onto a rack to cool.
  • Repeated the process with the 2nd baking sheet.
  • Brought 90ml double cream to the boil.
  • Poured over 100g chopped 85% dark chocolate (which was meant to melt it but never does in my experience).
  • Placed the bowl over a pan of hot water to try and melt the chocolate.
  • Added 1/2 tsp honey (deviation from the recipe) and 1 oz unsalted butter.
  • Stirred together – at which point the mixture split (it always does when I try and do it this way).
  • Panicking, I looked on the internet to find out what to do. Use electric beaters apparently and beat like mad. So I got out the beaters I hadn’t wanted to use and beat like mad. It made no difference. So, I did what I normally do when this happens and beat in some icing sugar. I was later advised by the expert himself, Marc Demarquette, to add more hot cream. At this point I remembered that Kath had rescued hers by the same method, oh well, maybe next time!
  • Tried to match up my weirdly shaped and sized macaroon shells into pairs.
  • Spread the ganache thickly over one half with a palate knife and placed the other half on top.
  • Packed into an air tight tin and hoped they would not become soggy by the morrow.

Fiddly and faffy these may have been to make, but oh my, they were good. They may not have looked like those elegant French macarons, but they were crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle. Because I’d used such a dark chocolate, the ganache wasn’t at all sweet despite the icing sugar. Both the texture and sweetness of the ganache were a good contrast to the sweet and really delicious macaroons.  And they all held together perfectly.
CT went off on a trip of free association and came up with the following: luxurious – decedent – our very own le manoir – hot stone massage &amp Jacuzzi (he may have been suffering from a theobromine overdose at this point) – rich – unctuous – not too sweet – combines well with the – don’t want to rush – want to chew – chocolate hit (see what I mean?).

Despite everyone leaving the dinner table groaning and holding their bellies, most managed to enjoy a macaroon with coffee and those that didn’t got to take one home with them. Luckily, CT was very well behaved and kept his opinions to himself!

Milk Chocolate & Lemon Balm Ganache with Ground Cherries

Chocolates, Reviews | 4th November 2010 | By

After my tea and chocolate tasting event last month, I was desperate to try making some ganache a la Marc Demarquette – was it really so simple to make a ganache that didn’t split and such a delicious one at that?  I’d had an idea about using lemon balm as a flavouring for a long time and my lemon balm was fast succumbing to winter’s chill, so it was now or never. I spent so long pondering on what I could use the ganache for, that I ran out of time to do anything other than just make it. I had some Chocolate by Trish to try, so with a couple of her milk chocolate 38% buttons to set me up for what I hoped was not going to be an ordeal, I set to.

This is what I did:

  • Brought 150ml of double cream up to the boil, threw in a handful of fresh lemon balm leaves, clamped the lid on and left for a couple of hours.
  • Melted 250g milk chocolate buttons (Chocolate by Trish 38%)
  • Brought cream up to near boiling point again, then poured on to the chocolate (through a sieve).  Added 1/2 tsp Cornish honey.
  • Used a whisk to gently stir, almost fold the liquids together until all incorporated into a beautiful glossy mass.
  • Placed 24 ground cherries at the bottom of some chocolate moulds then spooned the ganache over the top.
  • I left these to set, hoping I could turn them out cleanly – hey ho, best laid plans!

As can be seen from the photographs, they did not come out cleanly at all, but I did produce a beautifully shiny ganache which didn’t split – hoorah!  As befits a cook’s chocolate, these buttons melted beautifully, producing a smooth but not quite liquid pool of deliciousness. I nearly swooned as I  licked out the warm ganache from the bowl – it was every bit as good as Marc’s, though I say it myself.  Imagine a glorious mixture of creamy chocolate and toffee suffused with a subtle lemon undertone, that’s what I could taste. The lemon balm worked really well, it was present, but in no way dominated.  CT thought these were the apogee of unctuousness – definitely one to swirl around the mouth with a warm cup of tea.  He thought the ground cherries, nice as they were, seemed a bit superfluous.  I had to agree, these truffles would have been better savoured on their own with no distractions.  Coated in a good dark chocolate to make true truffles, they would also have been delicious, but I still haven’t quite got my head around tempering.  Christmas is fast approaching, however, so I don’t think I can put it off much longer.

Recently launched at Selfridges, Chocolate by Trish is a range of chocolate produced specifically for cooks and comes in the shape of buttons (which weigh a handy 5g each), shards or dust (cocoa powders). The paper bags are waxed inside and have a re-sealable top. Trish Deseine, the eponymous food writer behind the brand has also produced chocolate making kits.  All of her products are available at Selfridges.

The buttons were well balanced, creamy, rich and for a milk variety, strongly chocolatey – I could quite happily have eaten the whole 350g bagful.  Somehow, the flavour and mouth feel reminded me of a silky smooth good quality hot chocolate – nice!  I still have 100g of Trish’s buttons left so am looking forward to trying them in another guise.  I would also like to try her 64% and 74% dark varieties.