One of my favourite ways to bake a cake these days is using my silicone bundt mould. With very little fuss, I can make an outstandingly tasty cake that looks as though a lot more work went into it, than actually has. When my uncle turned up to help us clear the garden a couple of months ago, I made him this double delight bundt cake. Cunningly, it’s two cakes swirled together to make one: chocolate rum & raisin and coconut & lime. When I say ‘him’, I clearly mean that we all got to indulge in a slice or two.
These rum and raisin cupcakes are a delicious, but rather boozy bake. They’re reminiscent of Old Jamaica, a chocolate rum and raisin flavoured bar from my childhood. I used to save up my pocket money so I could occasionally indulge in what seemed to be a highly sophisticated treat at the time.
Easter is fast approaching and as it gets ever nearer, my thoughts turn to chocolate, although to be fair, my thoughts are rarely far from this exquisite food of the gods. Over the years I’ve made many Easter chocolate cakes, some more child friendly than others. These ones, containing rather a lot of rum are definitely of the adult variety.
We’re just about to set off on a week’s trip to North Wales where we’ll be staying with friends. It’s been a long time since we had a holiday and it’s much needed; I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve not been to this particular part of Wales before, but it’s CT’s old stomping ground, so he’ll have a lot to show me.
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.
First of all I’d like to wish everyone a Very Happy New Year. May 2014 bring you plenty of chocotunities.
When I saw this spiced stollen traybake over at How to Cook Good Food before Christmas, I knew I would have to make this or something similar very soon. I had no stollen at all last year and it is one of my favourites. A spicy stollen full of fruit and marzipan in cake form is an excellent idea. My version is actually quite different to Laura’s, but hers was the inspiration. These would have been perfect for bringing in the new year along with a glass of something special or for celebrating today, New Year’s Day.
As it happens, my mother’s birthday is on New Year’s Eve and as we were going to be out and about, I needed something portable. She’s a bit of a marzipan fan, so stollen cakes seemed to fit the bill very nicely. I’d also been sent a surprise Christmas parcel from Dr Oetker which handily contained both marzipan and chocolate chips.
This is how I made:
- Added 75g sultanas and 25g mixed peel (homemade) to a bowl together with 25g ground almonds and 2 tbsp rum and left to soak overnight.
- Creamed 150g unsalted butter with 125g cardamom (golden caster) sugar.
- Grated in the zest of a small lemon.
- Added 1/2 tsp freshly ground coriander, a good grating of nutmeg and a good grinding of black pepper.
- Creamed some more until the mixture was very light and fluffy.
- Beat in 3 small eggs.
- Sifted in 160g flour (half wholemeal, half white), 1 tsp mesquite powder (optional), 1 tsp baking powder and a pinch of bicarbonate of soda.
- Stirred this in alternately with 1 tbsp lemon juice and 2 tbsp sour milk.
- Folded in the fruit and rum mixture, 50g dark chocolate chips and 100g chopped marzipan.
- Spooned into 15 cupcake cases then scattered a few flaked almonds over the top.
- Baked at 180°C for 20 minutes, then turned onto a rack to cool.
- Dusted with vanilla sugar.
The house smelt deliciously of nutmeg and coriander whilst the cakes were baking. CT and I couldn’t help ourselves, but had to filch a warm one as they came out of the oven. Ooh, they were so delicious, sweet and seasonally spicy.
We ate another one or two whilst watching The Hobbit (second time for us, birthday treat for my mother). They may not have been as impressive as Smaug’s Hoard, but each bite uncovered buried treasure – rum soaked sultanas, marzipan and chocolate chips or occasionally all three. The sponge was light and a glorious yellow just like the dragon’s gold. And if CT takes another one without permission, I’ll be breathing fire all over him. Actually he’s unable to fulfil his desire as my mother squirrelled the remainder away and is jealously guarding her hoard.
The beautiful golden yellow sponge was the result of some local free range eggs which I buy whenever I am able. I am thus entering it into this month’s Tea Time Treats where the theme is eggs. This has been chosen by the new co-host Jane of The Hedgecombers. I’m pleased to say that Karen of Lavender and Lovage remains.
With those local eggs in mind where the chickens truly run freely, I am entering this into Shop Local at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.
I’m also submitting this to Jac’s Bookmarked Recipes over at Tinned Tomatoes where you can see last month’s round-up.
This recipe from Green Seasons by Rachel Demuth has been bookmarked for a very long time. Using mangoes, limes, chillies, cinnamon and of course chocolate, it combines some of my favourite ingredients. I was given this cookbook by some dear friends at least three years ago and they hinted broadly that this was a recipe I ought to make. It took a basket of beautiful green limes, sent for review and Chris to choose Mexico for his monthly Bloggers Around the World event for me to finally take the plunge
Green Seasons is the third vegetarian cookbook written by Rachel Demuth, a leading vegetarian chef who runs the acclaimed vegetarian restaurant Demuths and the highly successful Vegetarian Cookery School in Bath. I’ve made quite a few of the recipes in the book, which include vegan and gluten free ones too; they have all been successful and delicious. You can find out more by reading my review of Green Seasons. The book has recently been made available for iPad so if on-line cookery books are more your thing, you may want to take a look. As well as the book, I can highly recommend the courses at the cookery school, at least the one I attended on Middle Eastern mezze anyway.
The pudding may be Mexican by name, but possibly not by nature. I’m not sure where the cinnamon or the chillies came from, but I don’t think there was a single ingredient of Mexican provenance. However, Latin American it certainly was: the 100% chocolate bought on a recent trip to the Eden Project was Colombian, the rum was Cuban and the limes hailed from Brazil. The chocolate, very handily, came in two 125g blocks, which made it a breeze for me to halve the recipe – after all, there was only CT and I to indulge in them and even for us, a pudding to serve eight seemed a little excessive. Sadly, the limes arrived with very little information, but they did appear to be waxed, so I made sure I scrubbed them well with warm water and washing up liquid before using.
This is how I made:
Mexican Chocolate Pudding with Chilli and Lime Mango Slices
- Melted 125g of Colombian 100% chocolate in a small saucepan over gently heat with 150 ml of milk. Stirred until almost smooth.
- Took of the heat and added 1 tbsp of white Cuban rum.
- Creamed 25g unsalted butter with 75g vanilla (caster) sugar.
- Beat in a yolk from a duck egg and put the white in a clean bowl.
- Beat in the chocolate mixture.
- Sifted in 20g wholemeal spelt, 10g cocoa powder, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/8 tsp baking powder. Stirred gently until just combined.
- Whisked the egg white until stiff and folded into the chocolate mix. Spooned into four buttered ramekins.
- Placed the ramekins in a tin and filled to about 1 cm with water.
- Baked at 180C for about 17 minutes.
- Peeled and sliced a ripe mango (rather messily)
- Dissolved 2 tbsp cardamom (caster) sugar in a large pan with 1 tbsp water over a low heat.
- Turned up the heat and added 1/2 tsp chilli flakes followed by the mango slices.
- Allowed to bubble away for a few minutes until the liquid had turned syrupy.
- Removed from the heat and added the grated zest and juice of one well scrubbed Brazilian lime.
- Ran a knife around the edge of the puddings to loosen them, then turned out onto plates. Dusted with cocoa and added some reserved lime zest to the top.
- Served with some the mango slices.
This may look like burnt pie and chips, but what it lacked in appearance, it more than made up for in sensuousness. It was very rich, very dark, not too sweet and it reached into places other puddings rarely do. The cinnamon supported, as well as ameliorated the strong and robust nature of the chocolate. We ate them warm whilst the centre was still gooey. The sweet, sour and fiery mango slices were delicious in their own right but also acted as a great foil to the chocolate. CT had only one thing to say about this: “sex on a plate”. In fact he was probably right, these would be perfect for Valentine’s Day.
Thank you to Chris of Cooking Around the World for choosing Mexico for this month’s Blogging Around the World – he finally got me to make this rather wonderful dessert.
Kate of What Kate Baked has chosen Perfect Puddings for this month’s Tea Time Treats. Hmmm, perfect looking my puddings aren’t but I think they might hit the perfect button for taste, smell and touch. This monthly challenge is co-hosted by Karen of Lavender and Lovage.
Bookmarked for more than three years, this has to be a contender for Jac’s Bookmarked Recipes over at Tinned Tomatoes.
Those two romantics Dolly Bakes and Laura Loves Cakes have a valentine’s theme for this month’s Calendar Cakes with My Achy Cakey Heart. Well as already described, this may not look that pretty but it’s very likely to win over your Valentine.
Finally, I think, I am submitting these to Simple and in Season as limes are in full season now. Started by Ren of Fabulicious Foods, this month’s host is C of the fabulicious Cake, Crumbs and Cooking.
Having set the challenge to celebrate We Should Cocoa’s 2nd birthday with cocktails, I was subsequently completely flummoxed as to what to make. I know nothing about cocktails, except that I’m usually happy to drink one when it’s offered. I wanted to do something other than cupcakes, not because I don’t like cupcakes, but I thought there might be a proliferation of these and it would be fun to do something different. However, the days flew by and I was no nearer deciding what to make and then it was time to go back to work after my lovely three week break. Needing something to take back to work with me, I thought cupcakes would probably work best as they are less messy than a cake which needs to be cut with a knife. And it was National Cupcake Week too. So, my cocktail entry has turned out to be cupcakes after all.
Following on from my Chocadoodledoo, I quite fancied making a cupcake version of the cocktail, using the peppermint schnapps I made earlier in the year. Seeing Jacs’s post for her After Eight cake, confirmed my decision – it looked so good. A little googling came up with a Chocolate Mint Rum cocktail which was similar enough for me and also meant I could enter these into Baking with Spirit, which happens to be rum this month. I based my recipe on the one I made for chocolate peppermint cupcakes a couple of years ago and tweaked it to make way for the rum and mint schanpps. I also changed the frosting by adding cream cheese and mint liqueur.
This is how I did it:
- Melted 85g unsalted butter with 100g dark peppermint chocolate (Co-op Fairtrade 51%) in a large pan over a low heat.
- Added 175g dark brown sugar and stirred until smooth.
- Beat in two large eggs.
- Sifted in 180g flour (1/3 wholemeal, 1/3 white, 1/3 buckwheat) with 2 heaped tsp cocoa powder, 3/4 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda.
- Stirred in 2 tbsp yogurt.
- Poured 2 tbsp rum into a jug with 1 tbsp mint schapps and topped up to 150ml with water.
- Mixed this in until just incorporated.
- Spooned into 15 cupcake cases and baked at 180C for 17 minutes until risen and firm to the touch.
- Left to cool for 10 minutes then turned out onto a rack to cool completely.
- Creamed 50g unsalted butter with 130g sifted icing sugar.
- Added 3 tsp peppermint schnapps to soften and beat until well incorporated.
- Beat in 50g cream cheese.
- Topped the cupcakes with the icing and added Elizabeth Shaw mint batons to give a cocktail effect.
I was really pleased with this experiment; I was aiming for subtlety with the mint and rum and this is what I got. CT described them as blowing hot and cold. The warmth of the rum came through like a tropical breeze to be quickly countered by a cooling menthol blast. In a moment of verbosity, he went on to say that the mint intensity had three stages: a hint of mint in the sponge, distinctly minty in the icing finished by a powerful burst from the chocolate baton. He recommended that the cake be eaten from the bottom up to enjoy the full experience. The sponge was moist and light and the cream cheese icing was delicious as was the rum chocolate sponge. Yum.
Janine over at Cake of the Week has just started a new challenge, the most appropriately named Baking with Spirit whereby a different alcoholic drink is chosen to cook with each month. This inaugural month happens to be rum, so I’m putting these cakes forward.
With heart in mouth I watched as CT picked a recipe for this month’s Random Recipe challenge, created by the dastardly Dom of Belleau Kitchen. This month we get to randomly pick any book in our collection and then randomly pick a recipe from said book. In my case this means a choice from my nine and a bit chocolate books, rather than my whole collection.
Well I haven’t managed to enter the Forever Nigella Event, the brain child of Sarah from Maison Cupcake, for a couple of months, so I thought it was about time I did. The theme this month chosen by Arthi at Soul Curry is Iced Dreams. I don’t have an ice-cream maker. Making it by hand conjures up not so fond memories of lots of beating, in and out of the freezer and then ending up with ice crystals anyway. So the idea of ice-cream didn’t really appeal. However, looking through my trusted copy of How to Be a Domestic Goddess, I came across a recipe for Chestnut Ice-Cream Meringue Cake and no churning was needed. Lush, rich and sumptuous, this seemed a very apt dessert for a Nigella challenge. As it happened, when I went to put the finished cake in the freezer, I realised I had no room anyway. That was fine, it went into the fridge instead and became a chilled cake, which, luckily for me is permitted. As usual, I ended up doing something a little different to the actual recipe: first off, I only made half the amount – I didn’t want to make it too sweet so used less sugar than stated, I added a bit of cocoa and used creme fraiche rather than cream. I also used cardamom sugar so omitted the vanilla.
This is what I did:
- Whisked 3 egg whites until the soft peak stage.
- Gradually whisked in 120g of cardamom sugar (caster sugar) until the mixture was stiff.
- Whisked in 1 tbsp cocoa.
- Stirred in 1 tsp cider vinegar.
- Lined 2 baking trays with baking parchment and drew 3 saucer sized circles – about 15 cm (which spread to about 17 cm when cooked) on the parchment, only just managing to squeeze two onto one sheet.
- Divided the mixture between the three circles and spread to fill them.
- Baked at 150C for 30 minutes then turned the oven down to 100C for a further 35 minutes.
- Turned the oven off and left in until cold.
- Beat 1/2 a can of sweetened chestnut puree (about 220g) with 2 tbsp of rum and 40g icing sugar until smooth.
- Stirred in 300ml creme fraiche (home made).
- Placed a meringue circle on a plate and spread with 1/3 of the chestnut cream.
- Topped this with another meringue circle and spread with another 1/3 of the cream.
- Topped with the final meringue and spread the last 1/3 of cream over the top.
- Shaved about 10g of 35% milk chocolate over the top to decorate.
- Placed in the fridge to set and chill (about 4 hours).
The finished cake tasted heady and ambrosial with the tropical rum flavour very much to the fore. It was rich and creamy. This made a good contrast to the crunchy meringue layers. CT summed it up with one word – delicious! Sliced into eight pieces, one slice was certainly enough. There was one downside though, as illustrated in this picture: after the first slice the crunch disappeared from the meringues as the moist mixture was slowly absorbed. I guess this wouldn’t have happened if I’d been able to freeze it as instructed. Served immediately as a dinner party dessert, this would have been superb.