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Cover: Loco for cocoa

Recipes with chocolate

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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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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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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22Jun 12

Chocolate Custard

Chocolate CustardI 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
  • 8 tbsp double cream

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. In a mixing bowl, make the custard paste by first whisking the eggs, then beating them together with the cornflour, sugar and a splash of the milk.
  2. Heat the rest of the milk in a large saucepan, taking it just up to the boil.  Add the hot milk into the custard paste and whisk the ingredients together really well before pouring the mixture back into the saucepan and returning to the hob.  Cook the custard over a low heat now, stirring almost continuously as it thickens.  When the mixture gives a thin coat that sticks to the back of a wooden spoon, it has thickened sufficiently.  It’s important not to heat the custard too aggressively during thickening as you will cause the mixture to curdle.
  3. Take the pan off the heat and add the chocolate pieces.  Let them sit until they have melted, add the cream, and then stir everything together really well.

Time: 10 mins to prepare, 6-8 mins to cook

Cocoa Treats:  8 servings

Note:    Try adding 2-4 tablespoons of mint, coffee or hazelnut liqueur at the end for an interesting and adult variation, poured over an artisan ice cream.

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09Jun 12

Pure Pleasure Chocolate Cake

Pure pleasure chocolate cakeYou 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:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC.  Grease and line a circular tin as I did.
  2. Gently melt the chocolate with the butter.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream the eggs and the sugar together until they begin to firm.
  4. Sift the flour into the mixture; add the ground almonds and the buttery chocolate mixture and stir everything together until completely combined.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the lined cake tin and pop it in the oven for around 35 minutes, or until the mixture is just firm.  Timing is everything here so keep an eye on the cake and when ready, remove it from the oven and delicately transfer it onto a cooling rack.

For the creamy chocolate filling and covering:

  1. Whilst the cake is baking, you can make the chocolate cream covering and filling.  Take a saucepan and pour in the cream, bringing it up on the heat until it is just about to boil.  Take the cream off the heat and add in the chocolate.  Leave the chocolate sitting in the cream until it melts and then stir it all together into a smooth mixture.  Pour it into a cold bowl and leave it to cool and thicken.

Putting it all together:

  1. Once the cake has cooled, slice the top off if it has risen in the centre and then cut it in half horizontally.  Sandwich the creamy chocolate inside the two halves of the cake – use about one third of the chocolate cream for this.  Finish the cake by spreading the rest of the chocolate cream over the top and the sides.  Slice it and serve with a refreshing cup of tea.

Time: 20 minutes to prepare, plus cooling time, 45 minutes to cook

Cocoa Treats: 12-14 slices

Note: The picture is of my cake is the pre-icing stage so you can see how chocolaty the cake is!

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06Jun 12

Choc Chip Flapjacks

Choc Chip FlapjacksFlapjacks 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 doused in golden syrup, butter and sugar, that yes, they are rather full of calories.  But as afternoon snacks go, you can be sure you’re getting some good energy and nutrition into your body too.  And well, I couldn’t give you a flapjack recipe without including chocolate could I?  So here’s how to make some very yummy choc chip flapjacks.

Ingredients:

  • 400g porridge oats
  • 230g unsalted butter or margarine
  • 230g light muscovado sugar
  • 300g good quality milk chocolate bar chopped into small pieces, or milk chocolate chips
  • 180g golden syrup

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter with the sugar and the golden syrup, mixing well as the ingredients melt, and then leave the mixture to cool completely.
  2. Grease a baking tray with a little butter and preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the porridge oats and the chocolate together. Gradually fold in the syrupy mixture and stir well until all of the ingredients are very well combined.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the baking tray and level off the surface with a wooden spoon.
  5. Bake the giant flapjack in the oven for about 20-25 mins until the edges of the mix begin to turn a golden brown.  Remove and leave to cool in the tray.  Once cooled, transfer the large biscuit onto a chopping board and cut into small bars.  They are delicious served freshly baked, but you can also store them in an airtight container.

Time: 20 mins to prepare, plus cooling time.  20-30 mins to cook

Cocoa Treats: 20-24 pieces

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03Jun 12

Choc Chip Ice Cream

Choc Chip Ice CreamThis 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:

  1. 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 everything back into the saucepan and return it to the heat.  Cook the mixture gently, stirring continuously until the custard thickens and leaves a thin coat on the back of a metal or wooden spoon.  It is important to keep the heat gentle or you may curdle the ingredients.
  2. Take the pan off the heat, add the dark chocolate, letting it sit within the mixture until it has melted, before stirring it in evenly.  Cut a circle of greaseproof paper and lay it over the top of the chocolate custard to stop it from forming a skin, and then leave it aside to cool.
  3. Once the chocolate custard is cold, pour the cream into it and whisk together.  Put the chocolate and cream mixture into a freezer-proof container with a lid and freeze it for 2-3 hours, or long enough for it to freeze around the edges.
  4. Transfer the mixture into a large bowl, and using a fork and a mashing action, break down the ice and stir the mixture around.  Put it back in the container and freeze again for around 2 hours, or until the edges have re-frozen.  You will need to repeat this process a couple more times during the setting period, adding in the milk chocolate pieces at the third or fourth time, but add the chocolate after you’ve finished mashing and once you are ready to stir.
  5. Once the ice cream is fully set, transfer it to the fridge about 50 minutes before you want to eat it, so that it softens slightly. 

Time: 30 minutes to prepare, 1 hour to cool, 4-8 hours freezing time

Cocoa Treats: 4-6 servings

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31May 12

Chocolate Triangle Cake

Chocolate Triangle CakeThe Mayans were amazing and sophisticated people. They learnt how to cultivate cocoa trees, and they developed ways of fermenting and roasting the beans so that they could be consumed. At the same time the Roman Empire was peaking, the Mayans were building their huge pyramids.

 

So here’s a recipe inspired by those incredible Mayan Pyramids.  To create the unique shape of this chocolate triangle cake, the mixture is poured and set into a tilted cake tin.  I have used almonds and raisins in this recipe but you can substitute any dried fruit or nuts you like; for example hazelnuts, mixed nuts, dried apricots, de-stoned prunes, dates, or glacé cherries to name a few.

Ingredients:

  • 300g milk chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 100-150g good dark chocolate
  • 170g digestive biscuits, broken into roughly shaped pieces
  • 125g raisins
  • 100ml evaporated milk
  • 100g almonds, roughly chopped
  • 100g white chocolate

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Take an 18cm square cake tin and line the base and 3 upright sides with clingfilm, leaving one side without film.
  2. Pour the evaporated milk into a heavy-bottom pan, add the milk chocolate and on a low heat, gradually melt and stir the mixture together.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool, but not to set.
  3. Stir in the nuts, raisins, and biscuit pieces.
  4. Place the cake tin at a 45 degree angle by propping it up on one side with a box.  It should sit with the unlined side of the tin being the side that is propped up, and therefore raised above the level of work surface. Transfer the cake mixture to the propped up tin, smooth the top surface and leave until it is firm.  At this stage you can put the tin into the fridge to set the cake completely.
  5. Once thoroughly set, remove the cake from the fridge, turn out of the tin and peel off the clingfilm.  If any bits of biscuit sit above the level of the chocolate mixture, you can slice these off so that the cake will sit flat on a serving plate.
  6. Melt the dark chocolate and spread it in a very thin layer over the top sides of the pyramid.
  7. Melt the white chocolate and drizzle in a decorative pattern for presentation.

Time:  20 minutes to prepare plus cooling and setting

Cocoa Treats: 10 servings

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29May 12

Iced Fruit Mountains and Hot Chocolate Snow

Iced Fruit MountainsFor this recipe, I’ve combined two recipe favourites into one – meringue with fruit and cream and iced forest fruits with hot chocolate sauce. My recipe uses white chocolate and contrasts the tartness of the dark berries with the sweetness of the meringue and chocolate cream sauce. It’s great because you take the hot sauce to the table and let your guests pour as much or as little as they like over their fruity meringue mountains. (Also try frozen berries with white chocolate sauce, which is very similar but doesn’t use meringue.)

 

Iced Fruit Mountains and Hot Chocolate Snow is a sumptuous melting pot of a dessert. It looks and tastes heavenly, and makes a great finish to a special meal. It’s also achingly easy. Small fruits definitely work best for this because larger ones (like strawberries or large blackberries) take too long to defrost. If you really want to use larger fruits, you’ll need to defrost them in advance so that they’re not hard and cold in the middle – then they should be perfectly defrosted as the hot sauce pours over them.

Ingredients:

  • 4 small individual meringue nests
  • 400g frozen berries, small raspberries or fruits of the forest
  • 200ml double cream
  • 200g white chocolate

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. 15-30 minutes before you want to serve, place the meringue bases on individual serving dishes or plates, and heap the frozen berries onto them to create little mountains of fruit. Keep at room temperature so the fruit begins to defrost.
  2. Break the chocolate into small pieces, and put in a heatproof bowl.
  3. Pour the cream over the chocolate, and heat this mix over a pan of simmering water for 10-15 minutes until hot and blended.
  4. Pour the hot chocolate cream into a warmed jug and take straight to the table together with the meringue fruit mountains.
  5. Let your guests pour on the melted ‘snow’.

Note:    You can freeze your own selection of fruit throughout the year for this and other desserts by laying fresh berries on a tray in the freezer, freezing until solid, then bagging up. This process stops them from solidifying into large clumps that are difficult to thaw or separate. It also makes it easier for you to extract the berries a bit at a time without damaging their appearance.

Time:   15-20 minutes to prepare

Cocoa Treats:  4 servings

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21May 12

Chocolate Crepes with Hazelnut Liqueur

Chocolate CrepesChocolate Crepes are fun and easy to make with children or for the big kid in you!  You can experiment with different fruit fillings too – try raspberries or strawberries! Crepes Suzette is another fruit option for the orange lovers out there.

Ingredients:

For the crepe batter:

  • 120ml milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 ½ tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 5 tbsp plain flour
  • A few drops of vanilla essence
  • 2 tsp hazelnut liqueur

For the chocolate sauce:

  • ½ tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp hazelnut liqueur
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Make the crepe batter first.  Melt the butter and leave to one side to cool slightly.  Then mix the milk, butter, egg yolk, vanilla essence and hazelnut liqueur together in a medium-sized bowl.  Add the icing sugar, whisking it in until very well mixed.  Gradually add the flour, whisking it together until the crepe mixture is completely smooth. Put the batter to one side.
  2. Next make the chocolate sauce.  Take a saucepan, and add the butter to it, melting it nice and slowly over a low heat.  Stir in the milk and the hazelnut liqueur.  Add the cocoa powder and the icing sugar, combining all the ingredients thoroughly.  Turn the heat down very low to keep the mixture warm as you cook the crepes.
  3. So now it’s time to cook the crepes.  Grease the surface of a non-stick frying pan (or a crepe pan if you have one) with a little butter and place on a medium heat.  Pour in about 60ml of the crepe batter, swirl it into a thin disk and leave on the heat for around 2 mins before flipping it and cooking for a minute on the other side.  Have fun with the flipping too – call the family in to watch this bit!
  4. And to put it all together!  Pop the crepe on a plate and spoon over with the chocolate sauce.  Fold or roll the crepe as you like it, drizzle a little more chocolate sauce over the top, and sprinkle over with a little icing sugar.  Repeat the process until all 4 crepes are cooked, filled and decorated.

Note: These crepes are delicious with slices of chopped banana added too.

Time: 25 mins to prepare, 10 mins to cook

Cocoa Treats: 4

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