chocolate

Chocolate hazelnut cupcake with coffee buttercream

I think I could benefit from a cupcake decorating course ūüôā

I made these the other day to have in the park on the walk home from school to celebrate the change in the weather we seem to have had in the last week or so. ¬†Spring may actually have sprung. ¬†Of course, though, because we had planned a picnic the English weather let us know that we were fools and the sun didn’t peek out of the clouds once. ¬†It was a fairly cold picnic! ¬†Oh well, the cupcakes were good.

I made these in muffin tins so that they are a fair-sized cupcake. You don’t see fairy cakes about much these days. ¬†A fairy cake sized cake is sometimes exactly right to fill a hole. ¬†So feel free to make these smaller. ¬†If you are making them muffin sized they will make 12, so smaller might make 16- 20 I would say.

200g unsalted butter, softened
200g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
100g whole hazelnuts
100g plain (all-purpose) flour
25g good quality cocoa
2 tsp baking powder

For the frosting
100g butter, softened
200g icing sugar
3 tsp cool strong coffee, made from 3 tsp of instant coffee dissolved in  4 tsps of just boiled water
2 tbsp double cream

Method

Place the hazelnuts on a baking tray and place into a preheated oven at 200¬įc, gas mark 6 for about 4 minutes until they are lightly toasted. ¬†Be careful, they soon burn. Pour them onto a clean tea towel and rub gently. ¬†Most of the skins will come off, but leave some on as they add a good flavour. ¬†Turn the oven down to 180¬įc, gas mark 4.

Put the hazelnuts into a food processor and whizz until they are large crumbs.  This adds a nice crunchiness to the cupcake.

Place the butter and sugar into a bowl and whisk until fluffy and pale.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well with each addition. Gently stir in the hazelnuts.

Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder over and fold in gently.

Place dessertspoonfuls of the mixture into the muffin cases in a muffin tin. They should be about three-quarters full. If you are using fairy cases then use a teaspoon to fill them three-quarters full.

Place in a preheated oven at 180¬įc, gas mark 4 or the Baking Oven of the Aga for about 20 – 25 minutes for the muffin sized cakes or 10-15 minutes for the fairy cake size. ¬†They should look firm and feel springy to a gentle touch.

Leave them to cool in the tin for a minute or two and then lift out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat the butter in a bowl until soft, add the icing sugar and stir in gently at first.  If you beat it straight in you will end up with a fine layer of icing sugar dust all over the kitchen.  When it is starting to clump together start to whisk it until it is fluffy. Add the coffee and beat again. Add the cream and beat until all is combined.  Pipe over the cupcakes more artistically then I can manage.

 

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Earl Grey Kisses

Are you ready for a tale of woe?

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

Method

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

Method

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¬įc, 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.

 

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Rocky Road Slice

It is Cake Sale Day at the little one’s nursery today to raise money for the nursery. So my contribution is this Rocky Road Slice and an awful admission, which I will tell you about at the end of this post.

I have completely made this recipe up this morning so I don’t know if it should really be called Rocky Road at all. ¬†To be honest it’s not something I would choose to eat myself, it is overly sweet for my tastes, but I think the children will like it.

I have used what I have in my cupboards so feel free to use whatever you have in yours.  Replace the cranberries with sultanas or raisins if you like, use another biscuit rather than digestives Рyou get the idea.

50g dark chocolate
50g milk chocolate
25g butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
25g mini marshmallows
50g dried cranberries
4 digestive biscuits (Graham Crackers), crumbled
25g Rice Crispies (puffed rice cereal)

30g milk chocolate for drizzling over the top (optional)

Method

Melt the dark and milk chocolate, butter and syrup together in a large bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir well to combine  and add the rest of the ingredients, mixing well.

Line a 20cm square tin with clingfilm and pour the mixture in. ¬†Level the top, pressing down well. ¬†Melt the milk chocolate, if you are using it, and drizzle over the top. Place in the fridge to set. ¬†Mine took about 1¬Ĺ hours this morning.

Cut into squares.

Now for my awful admission. ¬†My other contribution will be Double Chocolate Cookies made from a box mix – I know, shock horror. ¬†Believe me, I am struggling with this myself. ¬†I was given a box of it and I was in a quandary as to what I should do. ¬†I have promised myself that I will try not to waste any food, so putting it in the bin was out of the question. ¬†Then I worried that I may be becoming an awful food snob. I looked at the ingredients – flour, light brown sugar, sugar,(yes, sugar is listed twice), fat reduced cocoa powder, natural flavouring and raising agent. ¬†I was reassured by this list, this is what I would normally put into cookies, so they can’t be too bad. ¬†I just had to contribute the butter and egg yolk.

Anyway, I made them and they are OK, they don’t taste as good as if I had got out the flour, sugar and cocoa out of the cupboard. ¬† There seems to be a lot more sugar in these than I would have put in and I think the cocoa is poor quality. ¬†So, there you have it, my verdict is that these ready to bake kits might be OK if it gets someone baking that wouldn’t otherwise touch it with a barge pole. ¬†But, you can definitely make tastier biscuits if you select the best ingredients and the right ratio of sugar.

All in all, I don’t know if it is an awful admission or if I have just become a terrible food snob, but a famous brand of cookie mix did not go in the bin and the cookies will be taken to ¬†the cake sale. ¬†I might just anonymise the plate though :).

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Stem Ginger Truffles

At Christmas Mr OC buys me a big box of chocolates Рhe knows how to keep me sweet.  He normally asks for mainly cherry chocolates Рyou see, he definitely knows how to keep me sweet.  This year the chocolate shop ignored his request. This was initially a bit disappointing as there was only one cherry chocolate in the box Рhorrors!  But as it turned out it was a good thing as I got to try every chocolate in their selection and a particular favourite was the chocolate coated crystalized ginger.

I knew I had to make some and soon. ¬†I have a jar of stem ginger in syrup in the cupboard, so I decided to use this as the flavouring in my truffle recipe. I made them yesterday as a present for Mr OC. ¬†They aren’t as beautiful as a shop bought truffle, but they are very tasty. One tip though – don’t leave them by a warm radiator before you give them to the lucky recipient, this only leads to disaster. ¬†They are best kept in the fridge. ¬†Oh well, lesson learned.

Makes about 20 truffles.

100g best quality dark chocolate
200ml double cream

60g stem ginger in syrup, chopped finely
25g caster sugar or cocoa powder to coat the truffle

Method

Break the chocolate into small pieces or whizz to rubble in a food processor and place into a bowl.  Pour the cream into a small pan and heat to just below boiling point.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and leave for a minute and then stir until smooth.  Place in the fridge for about two hours until the mixture is thick enough to roll into truffles.  Add the chopped ginger to the mixture and stir well.

Now, you can roll teaspoonfuls of the mixture into small balls like I did yesterday, or you can shape them roughly into ball shapes using two spoons.  I think I like the rough and ready look a little better.  Take a look at my Cherry Truffles and see what you think.

Then coat the truffle in caster sugar or cocoa or even chopped nuts, whatever takes your fancy.  Store in the fridge and enjoy regularly.

Choclette recently made some gorgeous looking Ginger Chocolates so pop over and take a look at her lovely recipe.

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Mocha Hazelnut Cake

I have times when I crave a coffee cake. ¬†I usually turn to the classic coffee and walnut in such times of need. ¬†But I have also been coveting the notion of an Italian Hazelnut Cake. ¬†I think it was Rachel’s blog where I first saw this, or it may have been Michele’s, or even Tracy’s. ¬†That is the trouble when you read so many wonderful blogs, it can cause no end of trouble when you try to find a recipe that you loved.

Fortunately for me Rachel Allen does an Italian Hazelnut Cake in her book, Bake, and so with a bit of tweaking¬†I had the perfect Coffee and Hazelnut Cake, and because it’s me I couldn’t resist adding some chocolate and turning it into a Mocha Hazelnut Cake.

I urge you to try this, it manages to be incredibly light and incredibly moist at the same time. ¬†The coffee shines through but doesn’t diminish the wonderful hazelnut flavour and the chocolate adds a wonderful depth. ¬†This recipe is definitely a keeper.

As I have added both coffee and hazelnuts to the original recipe, it can’t really be called an Italian Hazelnut Cake, but it can be called a Shropshire Mocha Hazelnut Cake.

200g hazelnuts, with their skins still on preferably
50g good quality chocolate
1 tsp baking powder
2tsp instant coffee powder, mixed with 2 tsp of hot water
100g softened butter
5 eggs, separated
175g caster sugar
pinch of salt

Method

Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin.
Place the hazelnuts, chocolate and baking powder in a food processor and whizz into fine crumbs.  Add the butter and whizz again until just mixed.

In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and the sugar together until the mixture has the texture of a mousse and the whisk leaves a trail when lifted out.

Add the coffee and the hazelnut mixture and beat until combined.

In a very clean bowl, whisk the egg whites and the pinch of salt together until stiff. Then add one-third of the egg whites to the other ingredients and stir well to combine and lighten the mixture.  Add the remaining egg whites in two batches, folding in carefully to retain as much air in the mixture as possible.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake in a preheated oven at 170¬įc, gas mark 3, or with the oven rack on the lowest set of runners in the Baking Oven of the Aga for about 1 hour or until the cake is firm on top and a skewer will come out clean when it is inserted into the cake.

Leave to cool for 15 minutes in the tin and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

 

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Chocolate marmalade biscuits

You may know about the masses of marmalade I made, and the cake I made with it. Well, I wondered what it would be like in a biscuit. ¬†It turns out that marmalade is very nice in a biscuit. ¬†It adds a bitter depth that is really quite addictive. ¬†I know, I know, I really shouldn’t eat three with one cup of tea (again!).

You could chop up the pieces of peel if you like, but I didn’t because I wanted to enjoy the chunkiness in the biscuit. ¬†If you really wanted to spoil yourself you could add 50g (2oz) of chopped chocolate into the mix as well.

100g (4oz) softened butter
75g (3oz) light brown sugar
1 egg
3 tbsp marmalade
125g (5oz) spelt flour (or you could use wholemeal or plain)
50g (2oz) ground almonds
25g (1oz) cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder

Method

Beat the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and beat again until well combined. Stir in the marmalade. Add the flour, almonds, cocoa and baking powder and stir until it forms a stiff dough.

Place spoonfuls of the mixture onto a greased or non stick baking sheet (you will probably need two). ¬†Place in a preheated oven at 180¬įc, gas mark 4, or the Baking Oven of the Aga for 10-12 minutes until they are firm on the top. Leave to cool on the tin for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Chocolate almond cookies

My four year old and I have just made these.  A very good friday afternoon treat.  They are chewy and distinctly almondy and definitely chocolatey.  I think next time I make them I might add a few drops of almond extract instead of the vanilla extract to really draw out the almond taste.

Makes about 10-12, depending on how generous you are with the spoonfuls.

125g butter
50g muscovado sugar
50g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g wholemeal spelt flour
80g ground almonds
20g cocoa
¬Ĺ tsp baking powder

40g good quality chocolate, melted, to drizzle over the top

Method

Melt the butter in a small pan. ¬†Place the sugars in a bowl. ¬†Pour the melted butter over the sugars and mix well. Add the egg and the vanilla extract and mix again. ¬†Tip in the flour, almonds, cocoa and baking powder and mix again. ¬†It will be quite sloppy. ¬†Place spoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. ¬†These cookies spread a lot so leave plenty of space between them. ¬†Bake in a preheated oven at 180¬įc, gas mark 4 for 8-10 minutes. ¬†Leave on the tin for a few minutes to harden and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. ¬†Drizzle with the melted chocolate.

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Spelt, almond and chocolate biscuits

These little beauties are not radically different from my Chunky Chocolate Biscuits that I posted about last July. ¬†This, I think, goes to show that whilst some say baking is an exact science, you can play around with the ingredients and still produce something good. ¬†The important thing is to get the balance of wet ingredients to dry ingredients right. ¬†It also has to be said that biscuits are more forgiving than cake. ¬†Take the basic recipe and play around with it. If you don’t have spelt flour, use wholemeal flour, or oatmeal, or plain flour. ¬†You can replace the almonds with oats. ¬†The texture will be different but the biscuits will still be good.

This time instead of adding chopped chocolate to the biscuit mixture I decided to coat the biscuits with melted chocolate as soon as they were cool and it turns out this is a good plan because every bite is guaranteed to have some chocolate in it – always a bonus.

Some more advice is that if you are on a New Year’s diet (although why would you be?) try not to eat three with your coffee like I just have.

100g (4oz) softened butter
100g (4oz) light brown soft sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g (4oz) spelt flour
100g (4oz)  ground almonds
25g (1oz) cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder

100g (4oz) good quality chocolate, melted

Method

Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until well combined.   Add the spelt, almonds, cocoa and baking powder and fold in until the mixture forms a stiff dough.

Shape dessertspoonfuls into walnut-sized balls and place onto a baking tray.  Leave plenty of room for each biscuit to spread.  Flatten each biscuit slightly with the tines of a fork.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180¬įc, gas mark 4 or the middle shelf of the baking oven of the four-oven Aga for 12-15 minutes until firm to the touch. ¬†Leave to cool on the trays for five minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Melt the chocolate and spoon on top of each biscuit.

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Mocha Brownies – inspired by Choclette

I have said before how much I love Choclette’s blog about all things chocolate. Well the other week she posted a recipe for Almond Toffee Brownies and they sounded like they may well be the pinnacle of brownies. Today, I felt like making brownies and so I thought I would try her recipe. ¬†Except that I can never really follow a recipe without feeling the need to mess about with it a bit. ¬†So I haven’t yet discovered whether Choc’s recipe is the pinnacle of brownies, but I am sure it is.

My variation is pretty good, with a sugary crust and very moist brownie underneath. ¬†Choclette normally uses duck eggs in her cooking and as my hens lay quite small eggs instead of 3 egg yolks I used 2 egg yolks and 1 whole egg. ¬†I cooked my brownies for longer too, I don’t know why this was necessary, maybe it’s my Aga or the different size tin – a mystery to me.

120g butter
50g plain chocolate
2 tsp Camp chicory and coffee essence
225g caster sugar
2 egg yolks and 1 whole egg
110g ground almonds

Method

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a bowl suspended over simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water). Add the coffee essence.

Whisk together the egg yolk and whole egg with the sugar until fluffy. Fold in the almonds and the chocolate mixture. ¬†Pour into a greased 8 inch square tin and bake in a preheated oven at 180¬įc, gas mark 4 or in the baking oven of the Aga for 20-25 minutes. ¬†You want it nicely browned on top but still moist in the centre. Leave to cool in the tin and then cut into squares and enjoy with a cup of tea.

Thank you Choclette for yet more inspiration.

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Chocolate Viennese Sandwich Biscuits

You could be genteel and call these Chocolate Viennese Sandwich Biscuits, or you could be my husband and ask me how I made the Bourbons.

Either way they are really good. ¬†They manage to be very light and very chocolatey all at the same time. ¬†Viennese biscuits are usually piped but I tried and failed on that score. ¬†The mixture refused to come out of the piping bag. ¬†I think the nozzle might have been too small, or the mixture too stiff, I couldn’t decide. ¬†So plan B was put into action and teaspoonfuls were flattened by the tines of a fork. ¬†Maybe not so beautiful but perfectly adequate.

I was feeling in need of an indulgent treat (to be fair it’s not often that I don’t feel the need for an indulgent treat) so I made a frosting to sandwich the biscuits together, but you could just make the biscuits and they would still be delicious.

They were a big hit with Mr OC and the girls and so will be regularly produced from now on, of that I have no doubt.

For the biscuits:

110g (4oz) butter
50g (2oz) icing sugar, sifted
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
25g (1oz) cocoa powder
110g (4oz) plain flour
25g (1oz) cornflour

Method
Cream the butter and the icing sugar together until fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat well.  Sift together the cocoa, plain flour and the cornflour over the mixture and mix well to form a dough.

If you can pipe it, then pipe it into pretty rosettes, or if you are like me, then drop teaspoonfuls onto a lightly greased baking sheet and flatten slightly with a fork.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180¬įc, gas mark 4 or on the middle of the Baking Oven of the Aga for 12-15 minutes. ¬†Allow to cool on the tray for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire tray to cool completely.

For the frosting:

50g (2oz) butter, softened
110g (4oz) icing sugar
25g (1oz) chocolate, melted

Method
Beat the  butter until smooth and then add the icing sugar and beat together well.  Add the melted chocolate and beat again until smooth and fluffy.

Use this frosting to sandwich two of the biscuits together for a proper indulgent treat.

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