Well, today is Valentines’s Day and to really show the love, you’ve got to have something chocolatey and decidedly decadent. More importantly today marks Tin and Thyme’s 9th anniversary. As some of you will know, it started life as Chocolate Log Blog and was a means for me to explore one of my great loves – the world of chocolate. This chocolate peanut butter ice cream sundae seems like a fitting celebration.
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and it doesn’t seem right not to cover some of the fabulous chocolate offerings out there for this special day. I’ve taken the burden from you and reviewed a few. There’s a selection from Miss Witt, who’s an award winning artisan chocolatier. There’s also some chocolate bars from Madécasse and some treats from Godiva.
Astonishingly, this blog is five years old today. To celebrate, rather than a St Valentine’s Day Massacre, I’ve engineered something all together more festive.
The simple truth is, that despite the many, many things I’ve baked and prepared over the past five years, I’ve hardly scratched the surface of chocolate cookery. This is a good thing, I reckon, because, unlike Valentine’s Day ephemera, chocolate will never ever lose its appeal. Drawing on the collective brilliance of contributors to We Should Cocoa, the many excellent food blogs and chocolate cookbooks, my own creations and adaptations, there is not a chance that I will run out of things to make in the next five or even fifty years.
Another year on and I and my Chocolate Log Blog have notched up a few more achievements. I was chuffed to bits to reach #3 in the Foodies100 Top Twenty UK Food Blogs for 2013. Not only that I was also in their Top Twenty Food Bloggers on Twitter too. I didn’t think things could get any better, but it turned out they absolutely did. The January edition of Cornwall Today featured Chocolate Log Blog as one of the best five Cornish blogs – wow and I didn’t even bribe them with cake. You can see the article on the author’s site at Saffron Bunny. I had another recipe published, this time in the Plymouth Herald, maybe not quite as prestigious as the Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook, but still very pleasing.
Two big events stood out: I baked an astonishing number of things both for a grand party and a market stall. It was a lot of hard work, but very satisfying to see it all disappear with complimentary comments all round. I continue to attend Cornwall Clandestine Cake Club whenever I am able and try to take part in as many blog challenges as I can. This past year has seen a prodigious proliferation of these, so I’m amazed to have done as many as I have. Living in remote Cornwall, I don’t get out very often, but I did manage to make it up to Cheltenham to meet some of my food blogging chums in June last year. We’ve also had a few events down in this part of the world where I’ve got to meet-up with bloggers old and new. The trip to Riverford was a particularly good one and the chocolate workshop with Nicky Grant was a real pleasure. Cornwall has food festivals aplenty, but scattered as they are, I don’t get to many of them. Having heard from Fiona of London Unattached just how good the Boscastle one was, I made it there last year for the first time. She was right, it was a great festival with plenty to see and do and the setting is lovely. I had the added bonus of meeting up with her as well as Nat from the HungryHinny.
So to celebrate Chocolate Log Blog’s Birthday as well as Valentine’s Day and give CT something to munch on (he has offered both me and my blog invaluable support after all), I have made these little chocolate cakes – dark and lush as befits this day of love. The cake recipe I adapted from one in Treat Petite by Fiona Pearce, a newly published book I shall be reviewing shortly. The whipped dark chocolate ganache, however, I made up myself from some leftover chocolate sauce I’d made for another recipe (soon to be appearing on the blog).
Just in time to make these and as a wonderful Valentine’s gift, I received a lovely bundle of chocolate goodies and hearts from Dr Oetker, including some heart-shaped marshmallows which were fun. Fancy decorating has never been my strong point, but for this special occasion, I thought I’d pull out the stops and pipe the ganache on top of the cakes, using my new Lékué silicone decomax (review to follow in an upcoming post).
I also received this gorgeous Valentine’s gift from Eden’s Gourmet Apples, which was a lovely surprise and disappeared rather quicker than it probably should have done. The apple was crisp and tart which was a great foil for the sweet caramel and chocolate.
This is how I made:
Mini Chocolate Valentine’s Hearts with Whipped Chocolate Ganache
- Melted 60g dark 70% chocolate in a pan over low heat with 160ml strong black coffee. Stirred until smooth, then removed from the heat.
- Creamed 90g unsalted butter together with 225g dark brown sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Beat in 2 duck eggs (use large hen eggs), one at a time.
- Sifted in 100g flour (half wholemeal spelt, half white), ¾ tsp baking powder, 2 tbsp cocoa powder and 40g ground almonds.
- Stirred until just incorporated.
- Spooned into 24 mini cupcake moulds filling them to about ¾ full. Spooned the rest into 4 full-sized cupcake cases.
- Baked at 180°C for about 15 minutes until well risen and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
- Left to cool in the moulds for a couple of minutes, then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- About ¾ batch of chocolate sauce which had been left in the fridge and had set – 200g double cream, 150g 85% dark chocolate and 2 tbsp maple syrup all melted together.
- Whipped this up with 2 tbsp of strong black coffee until light and moussy.
- Spooned this into the Lékué piping container and using a large star nozzle piped blobs onto the cooled cakes.
- Decorated with various hearts
The cakes are rich, moist and very chocolatey. The small elegant bite-sized cakes are easy to eat and with no inhibiting cases to dispose of make for perfect finger food. CT has given them his seal of approval by downing several in quick succession and declaring them better than any bunch of roses.
Thanks go, as always, to you my readers and fellow food bloggers. I would most certainly not have had the fortitude to have continued without your support, participation and comments.
As an extra chocolatey treat, I have picked ten super scrumptious chocolatey posts from other UK bloggers to hopefully inspire you over at Foodies 100 – Ten at Ten: the chocolate edition.
I am sharing this with Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary and her Valentine’s Day baking inspiration blog hop.
Chocolate is quite rightly the theme for this month’s Tea Time Treats over at Lavender and Lovage. This is a monthly event to load a tea table with more goodies than it can possible manage. Karen’s partner in crime is Jane over at The Hedge Combers.
http://hedgecombers.com/I am submitting these to the No Waste Food Challenge as I had some leftover chocolate sauce that needed using up. It would, er, obviously, have gone to waste if I hadn’t used it up in this recipe 😉 Normally hosted at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary, this month Fiona of London Unattached is taking the reigns.
I am also submitting these cakes to Credit Crunch Munch for the same reason as above plus I omitted the cupcake cases and saved a few pennies by so doing. I was really quite pleased with their naked appearance. This challenge is hosted by Camilla of Fab Food 4 All and Helen of Fuss Free Flavours, but is guest hosted this month by Angela over at the wonderful My Golden Pear.
Soft sweet and fruity, this peach and white chocolate cake is a real crowd pleaser. It’s easy to make and is just perfect for summer entertaining. But I won’t tell if you want to enjoy a slice whilst having a quiet read in the garden.
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.
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.
I know you can say it with flowers, but how about saying it with flour? As I’m sure most of us are aware, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. With that in mind, how could I resist the lure of making some Valentine’s Heart Cakes when asked. The recipe comes from the highly industrious, flour and sugar encrusted folk at the Baking Mad site:
“Bakingmad.com is a free mouth-wateringly helpful website that offers everything you want to know about home baking. The site is packed full of hundreds of inspiring recipes including everything from biscuits, breads and cupcakes to muffins, pies and pizzas. All the recipes are tried and tested by the home-baking expert in the Baking Mad kitchen and come with top tips, ‘how to’ videos and easy to follow step-by-step instructions“.
The original recipe was for four heart shaped cakes, but as I only had two heart moulds, I decided to see if the remaining mixture would run to six cupcakes instead. I did add my own twist to the recipe (I just can’t seem to help myself) by adding some ground cardamom to the cake mix and some rose water to the white chocolate icing.
This is how I did it:
- Ground the seeds of 6 cardamom pods with a pestle and mortar.
- Creamed 150g unsalted butter with 150g golden caster sugar and the cardamom until well incorporated.
- Melted 125g 72% dark chocolate in a bowl over hot water with 3 tbsp milk and left to cool slightly (didn’t take long as my kitchen is colder than the fridge at the moment).
- Sieved 200g flour (half plain, half wholemeal), 1 tbsp cocoa, 1 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp bicarb of soda.
- Beat 3 eggs (free range of course & organic) into the creamed mixture one at a time with a spoonful of flour between each egg to prevent curdling.
- Beat in the chocolate mixture.
- Folded in the remaining flour & cocoa.
- Spooned into 2 x 10 cm heart shaped moulds and 6 cupcake cases.
- Baked at 180C for 25 minutes.
- Melted 100g of good quality white chocolate in a bowl over hot water.
- Creamed 140g unsalted butter with 140g icing sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the white chocolate and 1 dessertspoonful of rose water.
- Sliced the cooled cakes in half.
- Sandwiched them together with some of the white chocolate icing.
- Spread the remaining icing over the tops of the cakes and over the cupcakes.
- Using a heart shaped cutter as a guide, sprinkled some pink sugar crystals over the cakes.
- Scattered more of the sugar crystals over the cupcakes.
The recipe was clearly written and easy to follow. Apart from the chocolate icing seizing up on me because of the cold, it all worked brilliantly well and there was just the right amount of cake mix to fill the two cake moulds and six cupcake cases. So not only did I have Valentine’s hearts, I also had Valentine’s cupcakes.
The cakes were delicious and were everything you’d expect a good chocolate cake to be. They were richly chocolatey with a nice close textured crumb which kept its shape when cut. They were moist and very easy to eat! The distinctive rose flavoured icing complemented the subtle cardamom in the sponge. All of the above was true of the cupcakes too.
If neither of these appeal there are plenty of other ideas, both sweet and savoury, for baking up a Valentine’s storm for your loved one over on the Baking Mad site.
This is a sponsored post, but as always, all opinions expressed are my own and I retain full editorial control.