I am ridiculously pleased with an early Christmas present from my parents. A Nordicware bundt pan.
I made vanilla bundt cakes immediately but today was time for a bundt cake that can be shared with We Should Cocoa, this month hosted by Choclette. She chose orange for this month’s challenge and I love the combination of chocolate and orange.
The chocolate bundt cakes have orange zest and juice added and are beautiful drizzled with the orange flavoured icing. Delicious.
110g butter, softened
150g caster sugar
150g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons of yoghurt ( I use Total 2%)
Zest of a large orange
Juice of half a large orange
For the icing
75g icing sugar
juice of half a large orange
Preheat the oven to 180°c, gas mark 4 or use the Baking Oven of the Aga. Butter or oil the bundt pan. Although, I did run a test on mine and the non stick coating worked a treat without greasing beforehand.
Making sure that the butter is really soft (I left mine out of the fridge for two days and it still wasn’t soft enough – a testament to our chilly kitchen), place all of the ingredients into a large bowl and whisk with an electric whisk until you have a smooth batter.
Pour a teaspoon of the batter into each hole of the bundt pan and place in the oven. Cook for about twenty minutes until they look cooked and if you lightly touch them the cake will spring back.
Leave them in the tin for a few minutes and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the icing by mixing the icing sugar with the orange juice. If you think it’s too runny then add a little more icing sugar as it will depend on the juiciness of your orange.
Place the little cakes on a serving plate and drizzle with the icing.
You could make this in a large bundt pan, in which case you will need to double the recipe and cook for about 45 minutes. Test the cake with a skewer which should come out clean after being pushed to the centre of the cake.
Eek! This is my late entry to this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge, hosted this month by Choclette. She came up with the great idea of combining chocolate with chilli this month. I was up for the challenge but unfortunately time ran away with me. So at the very last hour I made these. They are very moreish. At first bite they taste like a normal chocolate but then it hits you with a great big spicy kick.
These particular truffles have a secret ingredient. Should I tell you? Oh, go on then.
My mum bought these for us when she was on holiday earlier this year. They are a little pod of espresso with added cocoa. You drink the contents with the attached straw and after that you whir around like the Tasmanian Devil for the next ten minutes. They are fab! Unfortunately they don’t seem to be available in the UK, so if you want to add the espresso element, which is there to boost the chocolate flavour of these truffles then just add 20ml of strong espresso.
I had various theories about how to get the chilli flavour – dried or fresh? Minced or sliced? Should there be a bite of actual chilli in there? In the end I decided that I should use fresh and infuse the cream with slices of said chilli, seeds et al, and then sieve these out. I thought it would need to infuse for an hour or so. Let me tell you here and now it doesn’t! Thankfully I checked after five minutes and that was enough to give the cream a sufficient chilli kick ( read definitely enough, any longer and it will blow your head off).
100g good quality 70% chocolate
200ml double cream
1 red chilli, sliced with seeds
chocolate flakes for rolling ( I used chilli flavoured chocolate flakes)
Place the sliced chilli and seeds with the cream into a pan and heat until just below boiling point. In the meantime chop the chocolate finely, you can do this by whizzing it in a food processor, should you have one. Remove the cream from the heat and let it infuse. Try it after a few minutes and if it seems to have enough of a chilli kick then sieve the cream over a basin to remove the chilli. Return the cream to the pan and briefly heat just to warm through. Add the chopped chocolate and the espresso and stir gently until smooth. Place this in a bowl in the fridge to firm up. Take teaspoonfuls and roll into chocolate flakes or cocoa powder.
The beauty of this ganache is that it also makes a mighty fine and warming hot chocolate for bedtime.
Just heat a cup of milk in a pan until warm. Add a tablespoon of the ganache or about three of the truffles and whisk until well combined. Heat to the desired temperature and enjoy.
Thank you Choclette, and I am sorry for being so rubbish at organising myself.
This is my contribution to this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge. This month it is very exciting as the challenge is a year old (time flies!) and Chele wanted everyone to make a cake suitable for a first birthday.
My cupcakes are inspired by the wonderful blogs of both Chele and Choclette, the brilliant bloggers behind We Should Cocoa. They have both recently featured honeycomb – Chele made Nigella’s Hokey Pokey and Choclette reviewed some very delicious looking honeycomb draped in Valrhona (drooling!). I knew I had to make some honeycomb and soon. Then I thought about a cupcake featuring honeycomb. When I was making them it seemed obvious that I needed to use spelt flour as I learned about spelt flour from Choclette. The spelt flour has the consistency of wholemeal and so adds a bit more texture to the cupcake. I happen to like this, but if you prefer yours in the traditional style then by all means use plain flour.
And, of course, if you are only one year old you don’t want a great big slab of cake (or you may want a big slab but your mummy won’t let you), so a cupcake is perfect.
Thanks to Chele and Choclette for a fabulous monthly challenge which has inspired me many times during the last year.
Before I divulge the recipe I have a few confessions to make. I cooked the cupcakes with honeycomb sprinkled inside the batter, but all it did was dissolve and escape out of the top of the cakes so I wouldn’t bother with doing that again. My instructions for making the cupcakes will leave this bit out. Also, when I was making the hokey pokey I reduced the amount of bicarb from the original recipe from 1½tsps to 1 tsp.
To make the cakes, first make the hokey pokey as described by Chele. Then make the cupcake batter as follows.
110g caster sugar
110g softened butter (unsalted)
pinch of salt
20g cocoa powder
1 heaped tsp instant coffee powder
100ml hot water
140g flour (spelt or plain)
1 tsp baking powder
Method Dissolve the cocoa powder and the instant coffee in the hot water and allow to cool. Place all the ingredients into a large bowl and whisk until well combined. Spoon into cupcake cases and bake in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or in the baking oven of the Aga for 12-15 minutes until cooked. When you place a fingertip on top the cake should spring back. Remove the cakes in their cases to a wire rack to cool.
This is my entry for this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge. This month’s challenge is to make a swiss roll or roulade. Well, you have already witnessed my roulade attempt for last week’s Sunday lunch. Well, this was this week’s Sunday dessert. My two girls have fallen in love with mint choc chip ice cream and I keep having to buy tubs from the supermarket to sate their appetite. I have wanted to make mint ice cream for a while. The mint in our garden is in its prime, a month earlier than usual. It is also rampant so finding another use for it is a big bonus.
I have always wondered how you got the mint flavour in there – do you infuse the cream or infuse a sugar syrup? (Obviously, if you are a commercial ice cream seller you use mint flavouring and you don’t go in for this infusing malarkey). I googled mint ice cream and found that you can infuse the cream or you can infuse a sugar syrup. I decided to go with the former.
My first attempt was a disaster. I decided that to get the green colour you probably needed to chop the leaves and the stalks. I forgot that mint turns brown when bruised and the cream turned a mucky brown colour on top – not very appetising.
So, the second time round I removed the leaves from the stalks and discarded the stalks (the chickens loved them). I kept the leaves whole and infused them for an hour in the warm cream. This seemed to work very well but the cream wasn’t very green. So I thought I would puree the mint leaves and push them through a sieve with the cream again, risking that this may turn the cream brown. Well, in actual fact I nearly turned the cream red (reminder to self – stick blenders are extremely sharp and will cut your fingers!). Fortunately, all blood was contained well away from the infused cream and I had no reason to tell my guests that we were having mint and strawberry ice cream, as suggested by my helpful neighbour. I also still have my index finger and thumb intact, just about.
Anyway, as it turns out the infused cream did have a subtle green glow about it.
Not quite commercial mint choc chip green but lovely anyway. I was surprised by the taste, it is nothing like commercial mint ice cream. It had a subtle mint taste with a slight earthiness about it. I really enjoyed it. I don’t think the kids were as impressed though because it didn’t taste like what they are used to.
I could have just served it as it is but I still wanted to enter this month’s challenge, so I thought an arctic roll might just hit the spot.
I made a traditional swiss roll rather than a roulade. The difference for me between the two is the flour used in a swiss roll. If I was making it again I might use the roulade recipe as it is richer and not quite so dry as a swiss roll. But this did roll better. I borrowed my mum’s tin – the right size for the recipe, and rolled it straight away as it came out of the oven. Then unrolled it to fill it with ice cream. No cracks!
Next time I will make the ice cream the day before to give it time to freeze properly and I might just take James Martin’s advice to freeze the ice cream in a plastic pipe as trying to roll it in greaseproof paper was messy and difficult.
For the Mint choc chip ice cream
600ml double cream
60g mint leaves
50g caster sugar
6 egg yolks
1 dsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g dark chocolate, chopped into chip sized pieces
For the swiss roll
75g caster sugar
50g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
Method For the ice cream:
Pour the double cream into a saucepan and add the mint leaves. Place the pan on a medium heat and bring up to almost boiling point. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to infuse for 1 hour.
Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour and vanilla extract together until combined. Sieve the cream into a jug and discard the mint leaves. Pour the cream over the eggs and whisk well. Return this mixture to the saucepan and cook over a gentle heat, stirring all the time, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Allow to cool and then freeze in an ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions or pour into a plastic container and place in the freezer removing every half hour for two hours to beat the mixture and remove ice crystals.
I would then recommend sourcing a clean plastic pipe as James Martin advises and freezing the ice cream in this. Otherwise, lay a piece of greaseproof paper on a worktop and spoon on the ice cream and roll up into a tube shape measuring 5cm x 30 cm. I found this quite difficult because I had made my ice cream that day and it was melting as soon as I handled it. So I would advise making the ice cream the day before to give it time to freeze properly.
For the swiss roll
Grease and line with greaseproof paper a shallow swiss roll tin measuring 33cm x 23cm.
Whisk together the eggs and the sugar in a large bowl until the whisk leaves a trail when lifted. Sieve the flour and cocoa powder together and fold very carefully into the mixture. Spread this evenly onto the tin.
Bake in a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 6 or with the grid shelf on the floor of the roasting oven of the Aga for 8 minutes until the sides are shrinking away from the tin.
Whilst the swiss roll is cooking, lay a piece of greaseproof paper, which is bigger than the swiss roll tray, on the worktop and dust with cocoa powder or sugar.
As soon as the swiss roll is removed from the oven carefully invert it into the greaseproof paper. Peel away the paper that is on the bottom and, using the paper underneath to help you, roll into a swiss roll. Place on a wire rack to cool.
When you are ready to serve, remove the roll of ice cream from the freezer, unroll the swiss roll. Place the ice cream in the middle and re roll the swiss roll to cover. Serve in slices.
It has been a very busy Easter holiday and so I am a bit behind with my posts – sorry. The next post will be the cake for which I used the crystallised violets but I have just had a look at Choclette’s blog and she reminded me that time is running out if I want to submit an entry for this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge. Choclette chose marzipan this month and marzipan is one of my very favourite things. I adore marzipan chocolates and so the idea of cooking with marzipan and chocolate really appealed. I wanted to try something a little different but that was reminiscent of Easter. Easter, of course, means simnel cake, but I didn’t want to make a normal simnel cake. Then I thought about the pistachios I had bought and then about my chocolate hazelnut cupcakes and whether it might work if I made the same mixture but with pistachios and cooked the cake with a layer of pistachio marzipan like you do with simnel. The resulting cake was moist and chewy, much more like a brownie than a cake and was better the second day than the first when it had time to settle.
I really liked this cake/ brownie and it can be made with almonds just as easily. I urge you to have a go at making your own marzipan as it is so much nicer than shop bought. The layer of marzipan sinks to the bottom but is gloriously chewy. The people who tried this cake gave it the thumbs up and I don’t think they were just being polite.
For the pistachio marzipan
125g pistachios, finely ground in a food processor
60g caster sugar
60g icing sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 free range egg, lightly beaten (you will only need about half the egg)
To make the marzipan:
Place the pistachios and the caster sugar and icing sugar in a bowl and mix well. Add the lemon juice and about half the egg and mix to a soft dough. Place on a worktop dusted with icing sugar and knead until smooth. Place in the fridge until you are ready to use it. (I made mine by putting all the ingredients into a food processor and whizzing until smooth, which worked just fine).
For the cake batter:
200g softened butter
200g caster sugar
100g pistachios, finely ground in a food processor
100g spelt flour (you could use wholemeal or plain flour)
25g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin.
Roll out the pistachio marzipan into a disc that fits snugly in the tin and leave to one side whilst you make the cake.
Beat the butter with an electric whisk until creamy and then cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and light. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Fold in the pistachios, cocoa powder, flour and baking powder.
Place half the mixture in the tin and then carefully place the disc of marzipan on top. Cover with the remaining batter, smoothing the top.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4, for 50-60 minutes. About halfway through check the cake and cover the top with foil if it is beginning to brown. A skewer should come out clean when the cake is cooked.
Leave the cake to cool in the tin for about ten minutes and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
This month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge is hosted by Chele over at Chocolate Teapot and she decided that lime would be this month’s magic ingredient. I had lots of ideas, including a lime flavoured chocolate cake with lime buttercream, (which sounds so delicious I think I might just make it yet), but yesterday was my turn to make Sunday lunch and I fancied making a cheesecake. I used a similar recipe to the successful cherry cheesecake Mr OC made not so long ago, but added plenty of grated rind and juice of lime. The chocolate has taken a bit of a back seat just making a cameo appearance in the crust and a light grating on the top. The reason for this is that my folks are not big fans of chocolate (how I manage to be their daughter I am not sure!). But the presence of chocolate just about shines through.
This time I cooked the crumb base, but it is not really necessary. I did it this time because I used Hob Nobs and I thought the oats might make a sort of flapjack base. I was right.
This cheesecake is zingy and refreshing and makes a lovely end to a roast dinner. You could say it is a light dessert, but that is then counteracted if you follow it up with a serving of apple crumble and then a serving of crème caramel – oops! Oh well, it was a Sunday.
200g chocolate coated biscuits ( I used chocolate Hob Nobs)
100g butter, softened
400g cream cheese, at room temperature
50g icing sugar
finely grated zest and juice of 2 limes
300ml double cream
To decorate – the finely grated rind of 1 lime and some finely grated chocolate
Place the biscuits into a food processor and whizz until crumbs. Add the butter and whizz again until well mixed. (If you don’t have a food processor then place the biscuits into a food bag and bash with a rolling pin or a can. Melt the butter in a small pan and add the biscuit crumbs and mix well. )
Press the crumbs into a 20cm springform tin, making sure they are well pressed down. Now you can leave it like this or you can bake it in a preheated oven at 180 °c, gas mark 4 for 6-8 minutes until lightly golden. Leave to go cold.
In a large bowl mix together the cream cheese, icing sugar and the rind and juice of 2 limes. In another bowl lightly whip the double cream and then combine with the rest of the ingredients. Spread this over the crumb base, levelling with a palette knife. Place in the fridge until you are ready to serve. When you are ready to serve grate over the rind of one more lime and a chunk of chocolate.
This month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge was hosted by Choclette and she came up with the fantastic idea of creating something with chocolate and tea. Now straight away the thought struck me that Earl Grey truffles would be a lovely thing. Except I had no Earl Grey in the house.
The days of February passed in a dash and I suddenly found myself in the middle of half term, at home with two busy children and still no Earl Grey. Several trips to the shops later and still no Earl Grey. It was the final day of the challenge and I managed to remember to buy Earl Grey, but then a cough came on and I ran out of energy and time.
Anyway, Sunday morning arrived and I thought I would make the truffles for eating after dinner. I made them but the ganache split. I was making dinner for ten so the truffle mixture stayed in the fridge. Monday morning and the split ganache was saved with the addition of a bit more cream, but then I was busy and when I took the ganache out of the fridge it had set solid and there was no way any truffles could be formed. The split ganache had returned with a fury it seems.
So today I reheated the ganache and yes it is well and truly split. No truffles will be made from this. But in that ganache is 100g of chocolate and 200ml of cream. I was not about to waste it. The little one is off from nursery with a cough of her own but wanted to make cookies. So here they are, cookies made with the ganache and filled with the ganache.
I will try to make the truffles again as the mixture tasted lovely. These cookies are tasty but the delicate Earl Grey taste is lost amongst the biscuityness of it all. But the ganache has at least been saved.
For the ganache:
100g best quality dark chocolate, chopped finely
200ml double cream
4 heaped tsp Earl Grey loose tea
Pour the cream into a small saucepan and add the tea leaves. Heat until just under boiling point. Take the pan off the heat and leave to infuse for 15 minutes. Place the chopped chocolate into a shallow bowl. Strain the cream through a sieve into a jug, reheat gently and pour over the chocolate. Leave to melt for a minute or so and then stir gently until the mixture is smooth. If you successfully manage this without it splitting and becoming granular then you should be able to place it in the fridge for an hour or so and then roll into truffles.
For the cookies:
100g butter, softened
75g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
3 tbsps of the Earl Grey chocolate ganache
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
a splash of milk if necessary
Cream together the butter and the sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and beat until well combined. Add the ganache and stir to mix. Sieve over the flour and baking powder and stir until the mixture comes together into a stiff dough. You may need a splash of milk to help it come together.
Roll teaspoonfuls into balls and flatten into discs and place onto greased baking trays (you will need two). Bake in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or the Baking Oven of the Aga for 8-12 minutes until they look dry and feel firm. Leave to cool on the tin for a couple of minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Sandwich two of the biscuits together using the Earl Grey chocolate ganache.
This is my submission for this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge. This month it is Chele’s turn again to host the challenge and she came up with the idea of using leftovers or surplus stock. This is a great idea post-Christmas, but unfortunately because we are so greedy in this household we had no leftovers to speak of. I have been racking my brain for a solution and of course, when I glanced again at the 10 jars (well 9 now, I did mention that we are greedy) of marmalade that are sitting on a tray on top of the hob waiting for me to decide where to keep them, inspiration struck.
One of my favourite cookbooks on my shelf is The Dairy Book of Family Cookery, not necessarily for the recipes, although I have cooked from it many a time, but because of the nostalgia it has for me. It was written in 1983 and my mum bought it from the milkman. It was a book I grew up with and used a lot when I was a teenager. I remembered this morning that I cooked a Marmalade cake with a crunchy cornflake topping when I was about fourteen (only a few years ago!). I thought I would give it a go again, but this time add chunks of chocolate into the mix. I had come to the end of the packet of cornflakes so I used half cornflakes and half rice crispies (surely this counts as using up leftovers/surplus stock too).
Well, it hasn’t worked out perfectly but the end result does taste good. I set to work following the instructions to beat together softened butter and syrup, but this turned out into a lumpy mess that no matter how much mixing I gave it did not get any better. I think my problem may have been that it is cold today and my food cupboard is on the cold side and when I add the cold syrup to the butter it just made the butter hard again. So this mix was disposed of into the scrap bowl for our chickens and a fresh batch started. This time I dispensed with the syrup and used half muscovado sugar and half caster sugar. It worked better than the syrup. The cake sunk in the middle though, which may be due to the topping being too heavy or it may be due to something else entirely. Also, because I was in a bit of a rush I thought I would be a Smart Alec and dispense with the all important lining the base of the cake tin with baking parchment. Silly me, this bad move resulted in the cake breaking up when attempting to get it out the tin. Oh well, you live and learn. The cake looks like this, but tastes very much better than it looks.
I like the contrast between fluffy cake and crunchy topping very much.
Beat the butter and the sugars together until fluffy and then add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the marmalade and mix well. Sift over the flour, baking powder and spices and fold into the mix, add the chocolate and the milk and mix well.
In a separate bowl, mix the ingredients for the topping together.
Spoon into a 20cm cake tine that has been greased and lined. Spoon the topping evenly over the levelled cake. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or in the Baking Oven of the Aga for 45 minutes – 1 hour until a cake tester or skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for five minutes and then turn onto a wire tray to cool completely.
I love to cook. I spend a lot of my time baking and cooking, or thinking about baking and cooking. I use this little corner of the internet to share my recipes. I hope that they inspire you to cook one or two of them. I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment or visit my Contact Page to drop me an email. Kath
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