Tag Archives: chocolate

Chocolate Easter Cake

Yesterday’s total naughtiness! This most chocolatey of chocolate cakes is based on the same recipe used in the 365 Celebration Cake except I doubled the amount of chocolate butter cream to accommodate the fact that I sliced each sponge in half to create 4 layers of sponge and 3 layers of chocolate butter cream. And inside……a hollow was cut out of the cooked sponges to make room for a jumble of easter eggs and chocolate bunnies to tumble out when the first slices were cut…. The nest was the result of 3 Cadbury’s Flakes being chopped and arranged, stuck together with melted milk chocolate and a pile of mini eggs: Happy Easter!!!!

Chocolate, Coffee and Vanilla Layer Cake

A lovely flavoursome cake that combines some of my favourite flavours: vanilla, caramel and coffee, all wrapped up in chocolate – a lovely treat although no occasion is particularly required….just an appetite for a big slice of naughty cake!

Serves 8 – 10

What you need…

3 x 20cm sandwich tins, buttered and lined with baking parchment

225g butter, softened

225g golden caster sugar

225g plain flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

4 large, happy eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon coffee extract

2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

1 teaspoon sea salt

200g dulce de leche (milk caramel spread)

Chocolate stars and edible gold dust (optional, to decorate)

for the glaze

200g dark chocolate, chunked

30g butter

2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted

4 tablespoons coffee extract (or VERY strong coffee)

6 tablespoons golden syrup

What to do…

Heat the oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4.

Into your food processor, tip the butter and golden caster sugar and whizz until pale and fluffy. Whilst still whizzing, gradually pour in the egg, thoroughly incorporating each bit before adding any more. Tip in the flour and baking powder and whizz until thoroughly mixed.

Remove one third of the mixture and put it into another bowl. To this third, add the coffee extract and mix in thoroughly. Pour into one of the sandwich tins. Set aside.

Into the remaining mixture in the food processor, add the vanilla bean paste and whizz until mixed in. Divide between the two remaining sandwich tins. Bang all three tins on your work surface to level the mixture in each and then pop all three in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to cool.

For the glaze, put all the ingredients into a heatproof bowl and set in a steamer over a pan of simmering water. Leave until melted, then whisk together and set aside to cool.

Mix the salt into the dulce de leche. Put a vanilla sponge onto your cake stand and spread half the dulce de leche over the top. Place the coffee sponge over the top and spread the remaining dulce de leche over the top before adding the remaining vanilla sponge.

Once the glaze is cool but not fully set, use a small palette knife to cover the top and sides. The glaze is quite forgiving so you can take your time with this, doing it little by little, going around the a few times to build it up.

Allow it to set until tacky and then sprinkle over the gold dust, before decorating with stars.

Cut nice, big fat slices and enjoy…..

Inspired by…

Not sure: the recipe was clipped from a magazine

How easy…

Very easy for a pretty spectacular shape even if, like me, you’re not good at the presentation aspects of the recipe

Venison with Red Wine & Chocolate Sauce (oh yeah!) with Celeriac & Apple Purée

O M G! This is so very, very special! Delectable, delicious, de-lovely – absolutely incredible! OK, enough adjectives! This is a dish worth celebrating – venison can be dear (or deer – see what I did there!!). I paid £17 for 600g which serves 4 so that’s £4.25 each which I didn’t think was too bad given the ‘off-the-scale’ enjoyment that was registered: the meat is so succulent and very flavoursome without being ‘gamey’. Paired with the rich red wine and chocolate sauce and complemented by the sweet, crisp celeriac and apple purée: a better trio I cannot imagine! An ideal dinner party dish, this is so good and not at all difficult (especially if you prepare the sauce and purée in advance); you simply must give it a go!!!! (Don’t let the long ingredients list put you off – it’s sooooo worth it!)

Serves 4

What you need…

600g venison loin

Rapeseed oil

1 tablespoon juniper berries, crushed

2 thyme sprigs

2 garlic cloves, chopped

50g unsalted butter

Sea salt and black pepper

for the sauce

Rapeseed oil

2 shallots, peeled and chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon juniper berries, crushed

1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed/grinded

300ml robust red wine

200ml water from the kettle

1 chicken stockpot (I use Knorr)

50g dark chocolate, grated

25g cold unsalted butter, chunked

Pinch of salt

for the purée

1 celeriac head, peeled and chunked

500ml semi skimmed milk

500ml water

2 Bramley apples, peeled, cored and diced

1 tablespoon caster sugar

25g unsalted butter

Pepper (white’s better as it blends in but I only had black, which works equally as well)

What to do…

So, we’re going to turn the ingredients list all around: first making the chocolate sauce and then the purée, both of which can then be popped in the fridge for use later in the day or even the following day.

To the sauce: heat a splash of oil in a saucepan over a moderate heat. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, until they start to caramelise.

Add the herbs, juniper berries and peppercorns and sauté for a further 2 minutes. Pour in the wine, bring to the boil and simmer until reduced by two-thirds. Meanwhile, make a strong chicken stock by using a balloon whisk to dilute your chicken stockpot into the hot water. Add the stock to the pan, bring back to the boil and then simmer until reduced by half.

Into a jug, tip the grated chocolate. Strain the sauce into the jug and then plop in chunks of butter. Use your balloon whisk again dissolve both the chocolate and butter into the sauce. Season with a pinch of salt. Taste, say ‘wow’ and vow to leave the sauce alone until it’s on your plate with the venison! Cover with cling film and set aside until needed.

Next the purée: pop the celeriac into a large saucepan with the milk and water. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently until the celeriac is soft. Into your blender pour a couple of ladles of the cooking liquid and then, using a slotted spoon, add the celeriac chunks. Set aside. Pour the remaining cooking liquid into a jug and set aside.

Wipe out your pan and pop it back onto the heat with a splash of water, the apple and sugar. Simmer gently until the apple is soft and beginning to break apart. Use a spatula to scrape the lot into the blender with the celeriac. Whizz until smooth, adding more cooking liquid if needed. Add the butter, season, whizz, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Set aside until needed.

That’s most of the ‘work’ and mess done. At this stage you could cool both the sauce and purée and pop them in the fridge until tomorrow if you were preparing in advance for a dinner party. I made mine in the morning and then just left them on the worktop side until I was ready to cook dinner in the evening.

To the main event: preheat your oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4.

Rub the venison loin with oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Also, rub in the juniper berries all over the meat. Heat a large ovenproof frying pan over a high heat, add the venison and sear on all sides for 5 minutes, until golden brown. Add the thyme, garlic and butter to the pan and baste the venison for 2 minutes. Cover the meat with foil and then transfer the pan to the oven for 8 minutes. Remove from the pan and rest, still covered by the foil, on a warmed plate for 10 minutes.

Whilst all that is going on, have your sauce and purée and sauce in separate saucepans over a low heat just to warm through.

Carve the venison into thick slices; try not to dribble in anticipation. Onto each diner’s plate, plop or swirl some purée, arrange a few venison slices on the top and then drizzle with the sauce. Enjoy with a simple green vegetable and a lovely glass or two of red wine. Consider for a moment how wonderful life can be! Enjoy!

Tip…

I found the size of the venison too ungainly to deal with as one piece so chopped it in half….worked for me!

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner

How easy…

Really easy. And if you prep the sauce and purée in advance, the actual cooking of the venison takes no time at all and is a sinch!

Venison and Cranberry Casserole with Red Wine and Chocolate

Rich, festive and indulgent – what a fabulous casserole this is – the venison, so tasty, is cooked so that it falls off the fork, melting in the mouth; and the sweet cranberries provide a perfect foil to the meat, with no hint of their original tartness. The last minute addition of dark chocolate gives the sauce a glossy finish and that little something extra! Enjoy – it’s wholesome and indulgent all at the same time!

Serves 6 – 8

What you need…

250g rindless smoked back bacon, chopped

3 tablespoons plain flour

Sea salt and black pepper

1.5kg lean venison, diced

2 – 3 tablespoons rapeseed oil

16 whole baby onions

3 fat garlic cloves, chopped

250g button mushrooms, cleaned

1 bay leaf and 1 small bunch parsley, tied together

1 x bottle robust red wine

225g cranberries

2 tablespoons soft light brown sugar

300ml beef gravy

50g dark chocolate (70%+ cocoa solids)

What to do…

Start the day before you want to enjoy your casserole. In a large saucepan, dry-fry the bacon over a moderate heat until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on kitchen paper. Tip the flour into a plastic bag, season well and then throw in the venison, tossing the bag around so that the all the venison gets covered in the seasoned flour.

Into the saucepan, heat half the rapeseed oil and cook the venison in batches until browned, adding more rapeseed oil as required. Using your slotted spoon, remove the venison as it browns and set aside.

Tip the onions and garlic into the pan, stirring and cook for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally for a further 5 minutes.

Return the venison and bacon to the pan and add the herbs and red wine. Slowly bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 1 hour. Leave to cool, then pop in the fridge overnight.

The next day, add the cranberries, sugar and gravy, season and mix well. Partially cover and simmer for about 40 minutes or until the cranberries are soft. Break up the chocolate and stir in until it’s all melted and evenly distributed. Taste your casserole – you may need to add a little more sugar to counter the tartness of the cranberries.

Serve this lovely rich, festive and heartwarming casserole with buttery mashed potato and some greenery!

Inspired by…

Woman and Home magazine

How easy…

Not difficult, but quite time consuming on day one. Absolutely worth it though and I like the fact that you get all the messy and ‘arduous’ stuff done the day before you’re going to enjoy this lovely casserole.

 

 

Mayan Chocolate Pots & Tequila-Glazed Orange Madeleines

Ooooh, these little chocolate pots are really va va voom! The rich dark chocolate has a little more than a hint of warmth provided by allspice, cinnamon and cayenne: hidden depths that add to the pleasure of delving into these lovely little pots of naughtiness. And then, the Madeleines: their elegant appearance and light, delicate flavour are enhanced by a gentle orange flavour and then the party arrives with the distinctive kick of tequila (in the icing – a new one on me!) A really lovely and different pud that’s dead easy to knock up and can be prepared in advance!

Serves 6

What you need…

200g 70%+ dark chocolate, chunked

½ teaspoon ground allspice

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Pinch of sea salt

6 happy eggs, separated, plus a further 2 egg whites

Pinch of cream of tartar

40g golden caster sugar

A handful of slighty crushed pistachios or cocoa nibs

for the Madeleines

1 x Madeleine tin, lightly buttered and dusted with flour

100g plain flour

100g caster sugar

100g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 eggs

Dash of vanilla extract

Zest of 2 oranges, finely grated

1 tablespoon orange juice

Pinch of sea salt

25g icing sugar

10ml aged Tequila

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 170°c / 325°f / gas 3.

Starting with the chocolate pots, place the chocolate, spices and salt into a heatproof bowl set over a small saucepan of simmering water over a low heat. Gently melt, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, use a handheld electric whisk to beat the egg yolks until thick and creamy. Then, tip into the melted chocolate and beat to thoroughly incorporate. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and continue whisking, gradually adding the sugar, one spoonful at a time, until soft peaks form.

Using a metal spoon, add one third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and beat like mad to loosen. Then gently fold in the remaining egg whites until just combined, with no white streaks. Divide evenly between 6 serving bowls, glasses or in my case, coffee cups. Cover with cling film and pop into the fridge for at least 3 hours.

For the Madeleines, tip the flour and sugar into your food processor and whizz to mix together. Pour in the melted butter, eggs, vanilla, orange zest and juice plus the salt.

Put a heaped tablespoon of batter into each of the moulds in the Madeleine tin and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, mix together the icing sugar with the tequila and then, when the Madeleines are cool, dip them into the boozy sugar and leave to cool and set on a wire rack, scallop-side up.

Top the chocolate pots with pistachios or cocoa nibs, if using and maybe a little sea salt. Serve to the delight of your fellow diners with a couple of Madeleines each – gorgeously naughty – enjoy!

Inspired by…

Good Things magazine

How easy…

Really easy and the joy of it is that this dessert can be prepared in advance – the Madeleines store nicely in an airtight tin and the chocolate pots will keep in the fridge for a couple of days – result!

 

 

Bear’s Knock Out Chocolate Mousse

OK, so this isn’t strictly cooking but I’m forgiving myself on the basis that we are moving house and I’m not a super hero! Also, this mousse is luscious, divine, ridiculously easy and delivers instant gratification! Sooooooo rich, dense and simply delicious, the recipe comes from adventurer, Bear Grylls in answer to the question, “What would be the one recipe you would pass on?” I’ve made two, but you could easily make four, using shot glasses, serving them with raspberries perhaps. Whatever way you choose, give this mousse a whirl – I dare you not to fall in love with it!!!!

Serves 2

What you need…

2 eggs

4 slightly heaped tablespoons cacao powder

4 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and cooled

1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

What to do…

Pop all the ingredients in a bowl. Use an electric handheld whisk to beat all the ingredients together until the mixture is smooth.

Divide between either 2 or 4 pretty glasses. Pop in the fridge to chill.

Take a teaspoon, dig in, revel in the rich lusciousness of this gorgeous mousse. Repeat until it’s all gone. Feel blessed that something so simple is sooooooo good!

How easy…

Ridiculously – it takes literally 3 minutes

Inspired by…

Adventurer, Bear Grylls

Just Yummy Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is just such an easy recipe: great to do with the little ones or for them (if you’re willing to share). The cookies are everything they should be: sweet, buttery and with plenty of chocolate going on: who could resist?!

Makes 18 or so

What you need…

2 x baking sheets, lined with Bake O Glide or parchment paper

150g unsalted butter, room temperature

80g soft light brown sugar

80g granulated sugar

A pinch of sea salt

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

250g plain flour

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

100g dark chocolate chips

100g milk chocolate chips

What to do…

Using a standalone electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugars, salt and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined. Chuck in the egg and beat some more until incorporated.

Sift in the flour and bicarbonate of soda and mix in well. Then, tip in the chocolate chips and fold them into the mixture evenly (we can’t have cookies deprived of their chocolate!)

Roll the dough into a long log – about 5cms diametre – wrap in cling film and pop into the fridge for 3 hours.

Preheat your oven to 170°c / 325°f/ gas 3½.

Remove from the fridge and slice the log into 1cm pieces. Shape the slices into balls and pop onto the baking sheets, leaving plenty of space between each one for spreading. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.

Remove from the oven but leave on the baking sheets for a minute or two whilst they firm up and then transfer to a cooling rack, popping one in your mouth just to check that they taste as good as they smell. Maybe have another just to be doubly sure…. When cool, serve on a pretty plate and watch them be demolished!

Inspired by…

Nathan Outlaw

How easy…

Rather too easy: I can see me knocking these up on a regular basis!

Chocolate Rice Krispie Squares

Such a great one to do with kids – easy to make, little danger of too much mess and best of all, they taste great! Lovely milk chocolate enhanced by sweet, rich golden syrup and the crunch of rice krispies – an absolute, all-round delight. Try them – you don’t necessarily need an available child but it does bring an extra dimension of joy to the proceedings!

Makes 16 – 24 squares

What you need…

1 x 30cm x 20cm Swiss roll baking tin, lined with foil

200g good quality milk chocolate (150g for the recipe and 50g for chef’s privileges)

50g unsalted butter

60ml golden syrup

135g rice krispies or a gluten-free puffed rice cereal if gluten is a concern

At least 1 x small child (optional)

What to do…

Ask small child to break up the chocolate into chunks, explain about chef’s privileges and indulge in the naughty extra chunks yourselves. Keeping small child at bay, tip the remaining 150g chunked chocolate into an ovenproof bowl and set in a steamer over a pan of simmering water (bain-marie) and gently melt the chocolate. Don’t stir.

Turn off the heat but leave the bowl in the steamer. Add the butter and syrup and leave to stand for 2 minutes, then gently fold them in until evenly incorporated. Remove the bowl from the pan.

Stand the bowl on a tea towel so that it doesn’t slip. Explain to small child that the bowl is hot and that you will hold onto it whilst he or she tips in the rice krispies. Rescue those that didn’t make it into the bowl and add them! Explain to small child to fold the krispies in quickly but gently (so they won’t go everywhere) – oops – too late – they’re all over the worktop! Rescue flung krispies and help fold them in until they’re all covered in the lovely chocolate mixture.

Tip into prepared tin and ask small child to use a spatula to spread out evenly and then flatten down so that the krispies are tightly packed. Do a quick quality-control check before popping the tray in the fridge to set for 2 hours. Distract small child.

Use a sharp knife to cut into squares. Keep whatever you can in an airtight container, but let’s face it, they’re not going to last long! Have wipes ready for sticky fingers and faces! Enjoy! Sometimes, it’s just great being a kid again!

Inspired by…

Nigella Lawson and Laura Holborrow!

How easy…

Child’s Play!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Lime Cake with Margarita Cream

So easy and so lovely and if you have gluten-intolerant friends coming to stay, it’s ideal. This cake is luscious and moist, really chocolatey with a cheeky little kick of lime. But…when it served with the naughty and rather delicious Margarita Cream (which tastes like the cocktail it is), it goes from being a thing of loveliness to something that definitely has wow-factor! (The cream can also be served on it’s own as a syllabub – see picture at end of blog recipe). Give it a go – you won’t be disappointed!

Serves 8-10

What you need…

1 x 23cm spring-form cake tin, lightly buttered and lined on the bottom with Bake O Glide or parchment paper

1 large baking sheet

150g dark chocolate, broken into chunks

150g unsalted butter

6 eggs

250g caster sugar

100g ground almonds

4 teaspoons cocoa powder, sifted

Zest and juice of 1 lime

Icing sugar, to dust

for the Margarita Cream

Juice from 2 large limes

1 tablespoon tequila

1 tablespoon triple sec

75g icing sugar

250ml double cream

What you do…

Preheat your oven to 180°c / 350°f/ gas 4.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl in a steamer over a pan of simmering water (bain-marie) and then set aside to cool slightly.

Whilst the chocolate and butter are gently melting, use either a freestanding mixer to handheld electric whisk to beat together the eggs and sugar until the mixture has tripled in volume and is pale and moussy.

Mix together the almonds and cocoa and then use a balloon whisk to gently but thoroughly fold into the egg and sugar mixture. Then fold in the melted chocolate and butter and finally, the lime zest and juice.

Tip the lot into your cake tin and put the tin onto the baking sheet (I do this in the unlikely event that the cake tin leaks a bit). Pop into the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the cake is firm on the top, but a little wobbly underneath!

Remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack, but cover with a clean tea towel after 15 minutes to stop the top of the cake from getting crusty.

Whilst the cake is cooling, prepare the Margarita Cream. In a large bowl, stir together the lime juice, tequila, triple sec and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Using your handheld electric whisk, slowly beat in the double cream and keep whisking until you have a light, floaty aerated mixture. Taste (chef’s privileges) and wonder why no-one has introduced you to this before and how many other desserts you can imagine pairing it up with!

When the cake is cold, release from its tin, dust with icing sugar and transfer to a pretty serving plate. Cut lovely moist slices and serve with a generous dollop of the rather delicious Margarita Cream. Yummy!

Margarita Cream w

Inspired by…

Nigella Lawson

How easy…

Dead easy and I knocked it up in no time at all.

 

 

 

Affogato al Caffe e Disaronno

Wow! This is just Naughty with a massively capital ‘N’. Ice cream, Disaronno, espresso and chocolate: it tastes like a combination of Italy’s boozy trifle, Tiramisu and my favourite cocktail, Espresso Martini. Equally, we started off eating it with a sundae spoon and ended up drinking it! The biggest problem is that it makes you greedy to get the lot down as quickly as possible, so fantastically naughty, it is! Made in seconds, this could become a really wicked little habit! What can I say: you need to try it!

Serves 1 (but that would be sad: double up and share with your favourite person)

What you need…

1 scoop of vanilla or honeycomb ice cream (previously blogged and works brilliantly in this).

1 tablespoon Disaronno

1 shot freshly made espresso coffee

1 teaspoon good quality dark chocolate, finely grated

What to do…

Wodge ice cream into the bottom of a pretty glass or small cup.

Pour over the Disaronno, then the espresso and then, sprinkle over the chocolate.

Immediately dive in with your spoon, marvel at the wicked gorgeousness of it, plunge in the spoon a couple more times before discarding it to drink the rest of your affogato! There’s probably a more elegant way of enjoying this but….this level of naughtiness deserves some gusto!

Tips…

If you are not quite as partial to Disaronno as I am, you could always swap it for Baileys.

There’s nothing to stop you mucking about with the quantities of any of the ingredients in this pudding-cum-cocktail.

Inspired by…

Gino D’Acampo

How easy…

Dangerously so!