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Cover: Loco for cocoa

05Jul 12

Millionaire’s Shortbread

Millionaire’s Shortbread is a timeless treat. It has 3 layers: a shortbread base, a caramel centre and a chocolate topping! I like to use more milk chocolate than dark chocolate on mine, but you can play with the proportions as you wish. Traditionally it is made completely with dark chocolate instead of using a combination. This is a snack that we used to make at home sometimes after school with Mum. I loved rubbing the butter and flour together through my fingers, enjoying the sensation of getting my hands covered in the dough, and gradually breaking it down into finer crumbs as the butter separated and became covered in the flour – something very satisfying about that. Then there’s the fun of making the caramel and dipping a sneaky finger in to ‘check that it’s ok’! (If you love caramel flavours, then you will adore this caramel cake with butter […]

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30Jun 12

Maple, Pecan and Chocolate Tart

Canadian maple syrup is one of my favourite sweet flavours.  It’s wonderful, natural stuff – and good for you too!  Maple, pecan and chocolate tart offers a scrumptious variation on the classic pecan pie.  Enjoy it warm or cold. Ingredients: 200g good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces 80g caster sugar 55g unsalted butter 3 eggs 180ml maple syrup 355g shortcut pastry, or puff pastry if preferred: ready, prepared and thawed 130g whole pecan nuts Icing sugar and ground cinnamon to dust Preparation Guidelines: Put an empty baking tray into the oven, and preheat the oven to 180ºC. Melt the chocolate slowly together with the butter in a saucepan, stirring them well. In a separate pan over a low heat, melt the sugar slowly into the maple syrup.  Once all of the sugar is dissolved, take the pan off the heat and allow the mixture to cool a little. In […]

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25Jun 12

Chocolate Chip Muffins

I’ve made chocolate chip muffins many times with my little niece.  It’s one of our staple favourites when she comes round as she always asks to help me make them. The last time she visited and we baked this recipe together, I have a feeling that more chocolate chips went straight into her tummy than into the muffins themselves.  Chocolate chips contain less cocoa butter than traditional baking chocolate, giving them a higher melting point, which is what helps them to keep their shape during cooking.  We are all very familiar with the good old American-English muffin, which has become so very popular these days, and can be found in all sorts of sizes and varieties.  But the palm-sized chocolate chip muffin must also be high on the list of all-time favourites. (Also try these choconana muffin nests, perfect for Easter!) Ingredients: 90g self-raising flour 20g cocoa powder 1tsp baking […]

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22Jun 12

Chocolate Custard

I love making home-made custard, and chocolate custard is probably my favourite.  The real thing is so different from shop-bought (though that definitely has its place too, of course), but there’s something a bit special about the texture and the taste of custard when you make it at home.  It can’t be beat! And it doesn’t take much longer to prepare and cook either.  Although eating it plain is tasty, you can also enjoy chocolate custard cold with tinned or poached fruit, warm with ice cream, or drizzled over all sorts of pastries, puddings and desserts like this spicy pumpkin cake.  This is also a great recipe to make with young children who will love watching the chocolate melt in the custard and stirring it all together with a big spoon. Ingredients: 2 tbsp caster sugar 6 egg yolks 600ml milk 4 tsp cornflour 150g good dark chocolate, broken into pieces […]

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19Jun 12

Pear and Chocolate Tart

I sometimes make this pear and chocolate tart on a Sunday as a All Postsgreat pudding to follow a roast ham or pork meal.  Pear, chocolate and almond flavours play really well together, and serving this dessert warm with ice cream simply adds to the pleasure. Ingredients: 2 large, soft, ripe pears 155g good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces 2 tbsp almond liqueur 2 tbsp lemon juice 340g puff pastry 1 egg, beaten, for the glaze Icing sugar to dust Cream or ice cream to serve Preparation Guidelines: Preheat the oven to 200ºC.  Lightly grease a baking tray and sprinkle it over with a little water. Melt the chocolate gently in a saucepan over a low heat, add the almond liqueur and stir together until smooth. Cut the pears into quarters, remove the cores, and then cut into thin slices.  Put the pears into a bowl and cover them with […]

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15Jun 12

Almond and Apricot Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Brownies of any description are pretty heavenly.  Rich, moist and gooey!  Eaten warm with ice-cream is always my favourite way to devour them!  Brownies are often made with walnuts, but I want to give you a slightly different idea.  Almond and apricot chocolate brownies have all the gooey richness of a classic brownie, but they offer a different kind of sweetness and crunch.  You can try experimenting with other fruit and nuts too.  Any variation is good fun to make, and lip-smackingly tasty!  Just be sure not to overcook your brownies, or they will be disappointingly dry. Also, try this Go Free Chocolate Brownie recipe, which is gluten-free, wheat-free and dairy-free. Perfect for large groups with special dietary needs. Ingredients: 300g good dark chocolate, roughly chopped 200g good milk chocolate, roughly chopped 220g unsalted butter, left to soften 220g light muscovado sugar 3 eggs 75g self-raising flour 100g almonds, […]

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13Jun 12

Almond and Chocolate Orange Biscotti

Almond and Chocolate Orange Biscotti – Italian style biscuits that are wonderful accompanied by a rich roast cappuccino. It’s the perfect complement to round off your Italian meal. (Try this pancetta and pea gemelli recipe.) Ingredients: 200g good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces 200g self-raising flour 25g unsalted butter, softened 110g light muscavado sugar 1½ tsp baking powder 55g polenta, or ground semolina The zest of 1 orange 1 tbsp orange liqueur (or swap for 1 tsp vanilla essence) 1 egg 110g almonds A little icing sugar to dust Preparation Guidelines: Preheat the oven to 160ºC, and grease a baking tray with a little butter. Put the almonds in a plastic sandwich bag, or wrap them loosely in clingfilm, and place them on a wooden board.  Using a rolling pin, bash them gently to break them into rough pieces. Melt the chocolate and the butter slowly in a saucepan, […]

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09Jun 12

Pure Pleasure Chocolate Cake

You may have noticed by now that I’m not much of an advocate of cooking chocolate used specifically for baking. I see it like this; the better the chocolate, the greater the eating pleasure.  Simple really.  And there’s certainly no exception to that rule when it comes to this incredibly moist and rich pure pleasure chocolate cake. (Also try this chocolate beetroot cake.) Ingredients: For the cake: 250g unsalted butter 250g good dark chocolate, broken into pieces 130g self-raising flour 55g light muscovado sugar 80g ground almonds For the creamy chocolate covering and filling: 155g good dark chocolate, chopped into fairly small pieces 155g double cream Preparation Guidelines: For the cake: Preheat the oven to 160ºC.  Grease and line a circular tin as I did. Gently melt the chocolate with the butter. In a large mixing bowl, cream the eggs and the sugar together until they begin to firm. Sift […]

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06Jun 12

Choc Chip Flapjacks

Flapjacks are such a classic old favourite.  They are also a great way to get the benefits of oats into children who can’t bring themselves to enjoy porridge. (If they do like it, try this wholesome oats recipe.)  And let’s face it; we never really grow out of the comfort of a home-baked flapjack, even when we’re all grown-up. Oats are a good source of some B vitamins, and also contain iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc, amongst other nutrients.  The humble oat is packed with soluble fibre which is thought to help reduce high blood cholesterol levels.  They also have a low GI (glycaemic index) so they are absorbed slowly into the blood stream, which helps to keep blood sugar levels stable. As you can see, oats offer some good health benefits for all age groups. We have to admit here; however, that once those little oats are coated and […]

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03Jun 12

Choc Chip Ice Cream

This is a traditional home-made choc chip ice cream recipe.  No ice cream machines or churners necessary, just the time and the patience to do it all yourself. Once made, you could also convert it into a choc chip milkshake, using similar steps as with this white chocolate milkshake.   Ingredients: 50g caster sugar 2 tsp cornflour 300ml milk 3 egg yolks 190g good dark chocolate, broken into pieces or chocolate chips 110g good milk chocolate, broken into pieces or chocolate chips 300ml double cream Preparation Guidelines: Begin by making a custard.  In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks together with the cornflour, the sugar and a good splash of milk.  Heat the remaining milk on the hob in a saucepan, bringing it up to the boil.  Pour the hot milk from the saucepan into the mixing bowl, combining it with the egg and sugar mixture, then transfer […]

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