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Cover: Loco for cocoa

Recipes with butter

30Sep 12

Chocolate Bar Biscuit Cake

Chocolate Bar Biscuit CakeTake a moment to think about melting Mars, Twix and Whisper bars together to make a cake – now does that sound tempting or what? Chocolate bar biscuit cake does just that, then combines with marshmallows, chopped nuts and raisins to make a totally rich treat that you can slice like a biscuit.

It’s another no-bake cake, so once again the test is in waiting for what you’ve just created to set overnight in the fridge. Feel free to experiment with your own favourite chocolate bars in this recipe. What you’re aiming for is that lovely combination of smooth and rich chocolate, studded with crunch.

I like the caramel twist that the Mars and Twix bars bring to this outrageously rich dessert. There’s nothing posh about it, but there sure is plenty of pleasure.  Talking of chocolate pleasure, have you ever had a go at making a chocolate martini cocktail?

Chocolate Bar Biscuit Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
I like the caramel twist that the Mars and Twix bars bring to this outrageously rich dessert.
Ingredients
  • 2 Twix bars, cut into very small pieces
  • 5 king size Mars bars
  • 50g marshmallows
  • 2 Whisper bars
  • 130g butter
  • 1 packet of digestive biscuits
  • 65g raisins
  • 65g chopped almonds or hazelnuts
  • 2 eggs
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter, the Mars bars, the whisper bars and the marshmallows very slowly together in a large pan over a very low heat.
  2. Put the digestive biscuits into a large clean food bag and crush them with a rolling pin to a very fine texture.
  3. Grease a cake or bread tin and coat the bottom and sides with some of the digestive biscuit crumbs.
  4. In a clean bowl, mix the remaining digestive biscuits together with the Twix pieces.
  5. Mix the eggs into the melted chocolate and marshmallow mix and take it off the heat. Add the biscuit and Twix mix to the melted mix, along with the raisins and chopped nuts, until well-combined.
  6. Transfer the mixture into the cake tin with a spatula and chill overnight in the fridge.
  7. When ready to serve, cut the cake into wedges with a sharp knife.
Notes
Requires overnight chilling time

 

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30Jul 12

Flake-y Fruit and Nut Slice

Flaky Fruit and Nut SliceSo called because it contains Flake bars…. Mmmmmm – yummy! Flaky fruit and nut slice is a crumbly and crunchy treat for the whole family.

This is a modified version of a recipe that I found long ago.  It gives you something really easy to do with those Flake bars that we all love!  Cooking this cake slowly results in a beautifully moist texture which holds together the crumble and crunch of the other ingredients.  I normally let it cool and eat it cold as a cake slice – but you could also try it warm with a dollop of ice cream or single cream.  To play with the flavour some more, try adding a couple of tablespoons of rum to the mix!  If you do this, you may need to add a tiny bit more flour so that this mixture is not too wet before it goes into the oven.

If you have friends coming to stay, especially if they have children – this is a good cake to make together in the kitchen one rainy day.  Just be sure the kids are OK with the nut pieces first; then get stuck in to some fun food creation together. (Also try this pear and hazelnut mess with chocolate shavings recipe.)

Flaky Fruit and Nut Slice
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
So called because it contains Flake bars…. Mmmmmm – yummy! Flaky fruit and nut slice is a crumbly and crunchy treat for the whole family.
Ingredients
  • 230g softened butter or margarine
  • 230g caster sugar
  • 280g self-raising flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 3 Flake chocolate bars
  • 145g hazelnuts, chopped into random sized pieces
  • 200g good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 150g raisins
  • 75g dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • Icing sugar and cinnamon powder for dusting
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC.
  2. Lightly grease and then line a cake tin.
  3. Chop the flake into pieces about 1.5cm long, and put to one side.
  4. Mix the sugar and butter together in a bowl until smooth and creamy.
  5. Combine in the cocoa powder.
  6. Separate off half of the flake pieces, 50g of the broken hazelnuts and 50g of the dark chocolate. Keep them to one side for now. Add the remaining quantities of all 3 to the mixing bowl and stir in.
  7. Add in the raisins and the apricots and mix gently.
  8. Spoon the mixture out into the prepared cake tin, and then scatter the nuts and the chocolate that you had kept to one side, over the top.
  9. Pop the cake mixture in the oven and bake for around 2 hrs, testing that the cake is cooked with a skewer or sharp knife that should come clean out of the mixture.
  10. Once ready, remove the cake from the oven and let it sit to cool in the cake tin.
  11. Once cool, dust with icing sugar and cinnamon powder and serve with a hot cup of tea and some good conversation.

 

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24Jul 12

Crunchy Chocolate Button Cake

Crunchy Chocolate Button CakeDelectably rich, with the crunch of biscuit, and the hidden surprise of milk chocolate buttons…

Here’s the second no-bake featured cake recipe I want to share with you.  Crunchy chocolate button cake is a great treat to create with children.  It’s really quick to prepare, but takes a minimum of 4 hrs to set.  In fact, it’s better chilled overnight, and even better the day after that as it begins to harden further – but do you think it will actually last that long before your hungry gobblers devour it all? (I also suggest trying this No-bake Anzac slice.)

Ingredients:

  • 150g good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 150g good quality milk chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 130g digestive biscuits
  • 130g unsalted butter
  • 1 packet of milk chocolate buttons (standard size pack)

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Grease a 17-20cm cake dish, and line with baking parchment.
  2. In a large heavy-based saucepan, melt the dark and milk chocolate together with the milk and the butter.  Put the mixture to one side to cool down, but don’t let it start to re-set.
  3. Meanwhile, place the digestive biscuits into a clean sandwich bag, lay the bag on a wooden board, and bash gently with a rolling pin to break the biscuits into fairly small pieces (but not crumbs).  Empty the biscuits into a large mixing bowl and stir in the milk chocolate buttons.
  4. Once the chocolate mixture has cooled (but is still pliable) mix the biscuits and buttons into it, combining the ingredients well.  Using a spatula, put the mixture into the greased and lined baking tray, lightly pressing it down over the entire surface until nicely packed, and levelling the top.  Pop it in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hrs, or even better, overnight, until entirely set.
  5. When set, you can turn the cold cake out of the tin, remove the parchment paper and slice to serve.

Time: 20 mins to prepare, a minimum of 4 hrs to chill

Cocoa Treats: 12-20

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20Jul 12

Chocolate Gingerbread Animals

 

Chocolate Gingerbread AnimalsChocolate is my passion, and my niece loves it too, so we often find ourselves playing with it together when she comes round for the day, even when she visits with her mum and dad. We girls get busy in the kitchen, leaving mum and dad to relax together a while – a much welcome break for them; and loads of fun for us! Here’s one of our favourites; chocolate gingerbread animals. We make animals because they are the shapes we happened to find on a shopping trip together. But we also have heart, circle and square cutters – and you can make this recipe into gingerbread people too and decorate them with icing, chocolate and smarties if you like. (Also try this sugar-free gingerbread recipe.)

We had a family gathering recently with my parents, brothers, sisters and of course my little niece, and we rustled these up. My dad, with his Canadian roots, particularly enjoyed munching his way through the moose.

Chocolate Gingerbread Animals
Author: 
Recipe type: Desserts
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
A classic gingerbread biscuit with the added delight of chocolate…
Ingredients
  • 30g unsweetened good quality cocoa powder and a little for dusting
  • 310g plain flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 190ml golden syrup
Instructions
  1. Grease a baking sheet with a little butter and preheat the oven to 190ºC.
  2. Measure out and sift the cocoa powder, flour, ginger powder and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl and combine.
  3. Chop the butter into small cubes and then work it into the powder with your fingertips, creating a fine crumble-like texture.
  4. Now add the sugar, the golden syrup and the egg. Combine the mixture together with your hands to create a firm dough.
  5. Cut the dough ball in half and roll it out on a lightly cocoa powder dusted surface, then cut out the shapes of your choice.
  6. Bake the biscuits on the tray in the oven for between 10 and 15 minutes, until you see them just beginning to darken around the edges. Let them sit on the tray for a couple of minutes cooling before transferring them to a cooling rack. Once cool, you can decorate as you wish.
  7. Repeat the rolling, cutting and cooking processes with the other half of the dough, or wrap it in clingfilm and pop it in the fridge if you prefer to make another fresh batch the next day.

 

 

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18Jul 12

Divine Chocolate Éclairs

Divine chocolate eclairsI call them that because, well, chocolate éclairs are always amazing – but home-made ones, they are simply divine.  So for all of you chocoholics who like your chocolate with lashings of cream, this one is for you.  You’ll love these divine chocolate éclairs.

Ingredients:

For the bun pastry

  • 50g butter, unsalted
  • 60g plain flour
  • 150ml water
  • 2 eggs

For the topping and filling

  • 295ml double cream
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 tsp icing sugar
  • 155g good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 15g butter, unsalted

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  2. Take a large baking tray, lightly grease it all over with a butter pat and sprinkle the surface with a little water from your fingertips.  Sift the flour onto a clean sheet of paper or baking parchment.
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a gentle heat, stirring in the water.  When the butter has melted, take the mixture up to the boil and remove it from the heat.  Now add the flour and beat the mix into a dough ball which comes away from the side of the pan.  Let it cool down for a couple of mins.
  4. Now beat the eggs into the pastry ball, a small amount at a time, working it gradually into a smooth and glossy paste.  Transfer it to a large piping bag covered with a 1cm nozzle.  Pipe about 12-15 fingers of the mixture onto the prepared baking tray, each about 7cm in length; spacing them about 6cm apart. Bake them in the oven for 30-35 mins when they should be crispy and nicely risen.
  5. Supporting each bun with an oven glove, on a board, carefully make a slit along the side of each, before popping them back in the oven for 3 more mins to dry the centres.  Cool the buns on a rack.
  6. Tip the icing sugar into a bowl on top of the cream.  Drop in the vanilla essence, and whip everything together, until the cream begins to hold its shape.  Fill the bun centres with the cream.
  7. Melt the chocolate and the butter slowly together in a saucepan and stir.  Drizzle the mixture over the éclairs and put them in the fridge to set.

Time: 25 mins to prepare, around 40-45 mins to cook, and a little setting time

Cocoa Treats: 12-15

Note: This one is a bit high on the calorie count, so I suggest using this dessert after having a salad like this spinach and bell pepper potato salad, just to keep a good healthy balance of veggies and sweets!

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07Jul 12

Chocolate and Vanilla Marble Cake

Chocolate and Vanilla Marble cakeChocolate and Vanilla Marble Cake is a classic cake for afternoon tea with friends and family.  If you have a pretty tea set, this is the perfect moment to get it out of the cupboards and use it.  Invite the grandparents round and enjoy a family gathering in good old-fashioned style. (Also try this Marvellous Marble Cake.)

Ingredients:

  • 200g butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 4g salt
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp and 3 drops of vanilla essence
  • 30g cocoa powder

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. Grease a 28cm long, oven-proof, glass plum cake dish with a little butter.
  3. Melt the butter very gently over a low heat.  Take it off the heat as soon as it is melted.  Stir it and leave it to one side.
  4. Separate the egg whites and yolks into 2 different bowls.  Put the egg yolks into a large mixing bowl.  Add the sugar to the egg yolks and combine well with a wooden spoon, and then stir in 3 drops of the vanilla essence.
  5. Add the flour to the sugar and yolk mix in small quantities, alternating with adding the melted butter bit by bit, stirring each addition in well until completely combined.
  6. Whisk the egg whites to a firm consistency, until they are peaking.  Work them into the cake mixture with a wooden spoon.
  7. Portion the cake mix by halves into 2 bowls.  Add the cocoa powder to one bowl, stirring it in well.  Add the teaspoon of vanilla essence to the other bowl, mixing it in well.
  8. Take the prepared plum cake dish, and using two teaspoons, alternate adding the chocolate and vanilla mixtures to the dish, in 4-5 cm strips across the width, and 3 layers high.  Start the first layer with chocolate, the second with vanilla, and the final layer with chocolate.  As you alternate the mixtures, you will naturally create a marble effect.  Don’t worry about being very precise; it’s going to look great!
  9. Place the dish in the oven and bake for about an hour.  Test that the cake is cooked by inserting a sharp knife or skewer into the centre.  The knife should come out of the mixture dry.  Turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool, or enjoy some warm straight away with cookie dough ice cream.

Time: 30 minutes to prepare, about an hour to cook

Cocoa Treats: 8 slices

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05Jul 12

Millionaire’s Shortbread

Millionaire's ShortbreadMillionaire’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 cream icing.)

The chocolate part, well what can I say – it has to be the crowning glory doesn’t it? I used to loved eating my way through the 3 layers. Sometimes biting through the whole cake, and sometimes eating it layer by layer.

Millionaire’s Shortbread
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Millionaire’s Shortbread is a timeless treat. It has 3 layers: a biscuit base, a caramel centre and a chocolate topping.
Ingredients
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 75g plain flour
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 397g condensed milk (1 can)
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 125g good quality milk chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 100g good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Lightly grease an 18cm square cake tin – loose based or spring-form if you have one.
  2. Make the shortbread: Rub 50g of the butter and the flour together through your fingertips to create a fine breadcrumb texture. Add 25g caster sugar and combine the ingredients into dough. Transfer the mixture to the prepared cake tin, pressing it into a flat layer. Bake in the oven for around 20 mins until light golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  3. Make the caramel next: Melt the remaining butter together with the condensed milk and the remaining sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, stirring everything together. Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the mixture up to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer very gently for around 5 mins. The mixture will thicken and turn lightly golden. Pour over the shortbread and let stand for 2-3hrs to set.
  4. To make the chocolate topping: Melt the chocolate gently in a saucepan and pour it over the set caramel. Leave it to set before cutting the cake into squares.
Notes
3-4 hrs to set

 

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30Jun 12

Maple, Pecan and Chocolate Tart

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:

  1. Put an empty baking tray into the oven, and preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. Melt the chocolate slowly together with the butter in a saucepan, stirring them well.
  3. 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.
  4. In a large clean mixing bowl, whisk the eggs lightly, then add and whisk in both the chocolate mix and the syrup mix.
  5. Lightly flour a clean work surface and roll out the pastry.  Place this into a 23cm wide by 3cm high, loose-bottomed flan dish, pressing the pastry to the sides and trimming it off at the top.  Turn the flan mixture out into the pastry, spreading it evenly and levelling off the surface.  Place the tart onto the hot baking tray, and cook it in the oven for around 15 minutes, or until the filling begins to set.
  6. Take the tart out of the oven and scatter the pecan nuts across the top.  Return the dish to the oven for about 10 more minutes until the nuts start to turn golden-brown.  Remove the tart again and turn the oven temperature up to 230ºC.  Generously sift icing sugar and cinnamon powder through a sieve over the surface and pop the tart back into the oven when it reaches the new temperature, caramelising the nuts for about 5 minutes.
  7. Let the tart cool for around 15-20 minutes before serving it with ginger or coffe and macadamia ice cream, or fresh whipped cream.

 

Time: 25 minutes to prepare, 40 minutes to cook

Cocoa Treats: 8 servings

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25Jun 12

Chocolate Chip Muffins

Chocolate Chips

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 powder
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 90g butter
  • 75ml milk
  • 50g dark chocolate chips, or good dark chocolate, broken into pieces.

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC, and grease a 6 muffin mould baking tray with a sliver of butter.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder together over a large mixing bowl and stir.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and the sugar together until light and creamy.  Add the milk, and whisk until well-combined.
  4. Gradually beat the butter and sugar mixture into the flour mixture, and when evenly combined, stir in the chocolate pieces.
  5. Bake the muffins in the oven for around 20-25 mins.  Remove the tray from the oven and cool the muffins on a wire rack before enjoying them with a fresh cup of tea and the company of children.

Note:    Normally, muffins are eaten once cooled, but have you thought of trying them warm, drizzled with chocolate sauce and with a dollop of ice cream for a wickedly rich pudding?  Or try eating them straight from the oven with chocolate custard.

Time: 15 mins to prepare, 25 mins to cook

Cocoa Treats: 6 large muffins

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15Jun 12

Almond and Apricot Chocolate Brownies

Almond and Apricot Chocolate BrowniesChocolate 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, roughly chopped
  • 75g breakfast apricots, drained, excess juice squeezed out, and roughly torn

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC.  Grease and then line a shallow baking tray with grease-proof paper.
  2. Melt the dark chocolate slowly together with the butter in a large saucepan, stirring well.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs together with the sugar until creamy and light, then stir in the melted dark chocolate.  Once well mixed, add the flour, the almond and apricot pieces, and the roughly chopped milk chocolate.  Combine everything together with a wooden spoon.
  4. Spoon the mixture out into the lined baking tray and bake for around 40 mins until the centre of the cake feels firm to the touch but soft directly underneath the surface.  The trick with brownies is never to overcook them. You need to look out for the golden moment, and take them from the oven before they begin to go dry.
  5. If you’re not going to eat the brownies straight away, leave the brownie to cool in the tin.  Once cooled, turn it out onto a chopping board and cut it into squares.

Note: If you want to serve some of the brownie hot and fresh, you can remove the part you want from the tray as soon as it is cooked, and serve it in bowls with ice-cream. To make it fruitier, try topping with bits of strawberries and apricots. It will fall apart and be ever-so gooey!  Then you can leave the remainder of the cake to cool in the tray, to cut into servings and store.

Another idea for preparing it to eat hot, is to bake the brownie mix in smaller pots or ramekins to serve straight from the oven with cream and ice-cream.  Or you could even pop a square of brownie in the microwave for a few seconds to warm it at any time.  So many ways to eat a brownie!  Yum!

Time: 20 mins preparation, 45 mins baking

Cocoa Treats: 18 squares

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