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Cover: Loco for cocoa

Recipes with cocoa powder

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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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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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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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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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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26Apr 12

Chocolate Caterpillar Cake

Chocolate Caterpillar CakeHere’s the cake that I made for my niece’s 2nd birthday party.  First, you make a chocolate Swiss roll or chocolate roulade, or if you’re pressed for time and energy, you could always buy one; I sometimes do. Then decorate it with molten chocolate and smarties.  It’s fun and colourful and children love it!

Ingredients:

For the Swiss roll cake:

  • 75g flour
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 25g dark cocoa powder
  • 3 eggs

For the Swiss roll filling:

  • 100g icing sugar
  • 100g butter
  • 75g milk chocolate, melted

For the caterpillar topping:

  • 300 – 400g milk chocolate for the caterpillar coating, broken into pieces
  • 4 tubes of smarties

You will also need a 23 x 33 cm Swiss roll tin, an electric whisk (ideally) and 2-4 birthday candles.

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.  Grease the Swiss roll tin and line with baking paper.
  2. Beat the sugar and eggs together in a large mixing bowl, until the mixture becomes creamy and thick.  Ideally you should do this with an electric whisk to generate as much air as possible into the mixture.  Sieve the flour and the cocoa powder together into a separate bowl before gradually working into the sugar and egg mixture.  Add 1 tbsp hot water.  Mix this in very gently trying not to disperse the air bubbles you created when whisking.
  3. Pour the cake mixture into the tin, tilting in each direction to ensure that the mixture reaches into all of the corners.  Bake in the oven for around 10-12 mins, until the cake is cooked and springy to the touch.
  4. Sprinkle caster sugar onto a large piece of baking paper, turning the cooked cake out onto it.  Cut away any hard edges, and make a dent along the width of the sponge, 1 cm in.  From this end, carefully roll the sponge up with the paper, curling into the middle.  Leave the cake like this on a cooling rack.
  5. Work the icing sugar into the butter, creaming them together until they are fluffy and light, then beat in the melted chocolate.  Uncurl the sponge, and coat the top surface with the butter icing before rolling it up again.
  6. Melt the topping chocolate in a saucepan, adding 1-2 tsp water, or as necessary to make the chocolate begin to turn very slightly crumbly in consistency.  This is how the spiky, textured effect of the caterpillar is created.  Gradually work the chocolate over the entire surface of the cooled roll, using a spoon and a fork to spread and create the texture.  The cake will be fragile so it is worth taking time to do this bit carefully.  Add the smarties as you go, dotted about across the entire surface, so that they stick to the melted chocolate before it sets.  Create a smiley face shape with the smarties at each end of the roll.  You can use candles to make the antennae.

Time: 1 hour and 20 mins preparation time, including decorating, 10 mins cooking time.

Cocoa Treats: 8 slices

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10Apr 12

Chocolate Cake in a Mug

Chocolate Cake in a MugWell, here’s a little something completely different from the classic chocolate fudge cake.  There’s nothing posh about this cocoa treat, oh no… but chocolate cake in a mug is fast, fun and tasty to throw together for a mid-week pudding for the kids, or just for yourself whenever you need a little comfort food (shhhh don’t tell anyone).  If you’re making it just for one, simply halve the ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 8 tbsp self-raising flour
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 8 tbsp caster sugar
  • 6 tbsp milk
  • 6 tbsp chocolate chips
  • 6 tbsp sunflower oil
  • Splash of vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs

You will also need 2 large mugs

Preparation Guidelines:

Split all of the ingredients by half into 2 large mugs. Or, you can simply mix everything together in a bowl, then transfer the mixture evenly into the 2 mugs before cooking.

  1. First add all of the dry ingredients and stir them together with a teaspoon.
  2. Add the egg and thoroughly work the mixture together with the spoon.
  3. Add the oil and the milk and stir again.
  4. Splash in the vanilla essence, pour in the chocolate chips, and keep mixing.
  5. Cook the mixture in the mugs; put each mug in separately for 3 minutes (timing is for a 1000W microwave).
  6. Allow the cup to cool enough to handle it before you dig in to your yummy chocolate cake in a mug.

Note:    The cake mixture should rise over the top of the mug during cooking.

This cake is also really tasty eaten hot with vanilla ice cream, or any other flavour for that matter.  If you fancy it this way, simply transfer it to a bowl to serve and add the ice cream; the combination of hot cake and the ice cream will be wonderful!

Time: 5 minutes to prepare, 3 minutes to cook in the microwave for each mug of cake.

Cocoa Treats: Makes enough for 2 large mugs of cake!

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05Apr 12

Chocolate Easter Nest Torte Part 1

 

Chocolate Easter Nest Torte

Chocolate Easter Nest Torte is an involved piece of baking which results in a truly special celebration cake to share with the whole family over Easter(Also try this Coach and Horses Easter Simnel Cake.) You will learn how to sculpt and mould chocolate in new ways (or at least I did!). This recipe includes dark chocolate and milk chocolate, sponge, mousse and solid chocolateBecause there are so many stages involved in creating this showcase, I will be posting the recipe and instructions over the course of 2 postsHere is part 1 which covers the sponge cake part of the process, as well as the creation of the cake’s chocolate collar.  See part 2 for a photo of the finished cake!

Ingredients:

For the cake

  • 40g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 75g self-raising flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 75g good dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 3-4 tbsp orange juice

For the chocolate collar

  • 75g good dark chocolate, broken into pieces

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Before you start the sponge cake, you need to make a form to create the chocolate collar.  Use a piece of string to measure the circumference of the cake tin.  Then cut a piece of parchment paper 1.5cm longer than the string and 6cm high. Keep it to one side for later.
  2. For the cake: Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Grease a 23cm cake tin (ideally spring-form) and line the base. Over a mixing bowl, sift the cocoa powder, flour and baking powder. Beat the sugar, butter and eggs in a separate bowl until creamy and then whisk all ingredients together until smooth. Spoon into the prepared tin, level the surface and bake in the oven for 20-25 mins until just firm. Once cooked, cool the sponge on a rack. Once cool, transfer to a plate and drizzle over with the juice.
  3. For the chocolate collar:  Melt the dark chocolate and stir.  Spread the melted chocolate all along the paper strip that you made earlier, leaving 1cm free of chocolate at each end.  Leave it to one side for about 15-20 mins, allowing the texture to thicken but not set.  It should stay in-situ when lifted.  Very carefully lift the strip of chocolate on the paper and shape it, sticking it right around the sponge cake.  Put the sponge with the strip into the fridge to chill as you make the filling.

Time:  For part 1: 40 mins to prepare and 25 mins to cook

Cocoa Treats: 12 servings

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02Apr 12

Chocolate Pudding

Chocolate PuddingThis is the kind of pudding that takes me back to childhood. Those midweek nights of fish fingers and beans, when Mum filled the house with the wonderful smell of chocolate baking in the oven.  She’d put the dish on the table on a big wicker mat and ladle out this chocolate pudding into our eagerly clutched bowls, as long as we’d polished off the whole of our first course…. of course!

 

We loved eating it hot with a dollop of choc chip ice cream. (Check out the recipe on my blog for this ice cream, as well as another chocolate pudding option chocolate fondant with cherries and vanilla anglaise.) This recipe serves 2-3 people, so just double up the quantities if you have a bigger family, or if you have friends coming round.

Ingredients:

  • 150ml milk
  • 125g good dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 75g light muscovado sugar
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 12g cocoa powder
  • 12g self-raising flour
  • Dusting of cocoa powder

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. Gently warm the chocolate and the milk together in a saucepan until the chocolate melts completely.  Remove from the heat and stir together until smooth and cohesive.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the sugar into the butter until light and creamy.  Mix in the separated egg yolk, cocoa powder and flour.  Then gradually add the chocolate and milk mixture until evenly combined.
  4. Whisk the egg white in a clean bowl until it is stiff before spooning and mixing it into the chocolate mixture.
  5. Spoon the mixture into a 1L capacity oven-proof dish and set the dish inside a roasting tin.  Boil a kettle of water and pour 2cm water into the roasting tin all around the chocolate dish.
  6. Bake in the oven for around 30 mins, until the top of the mixture has crusted but the mixture underneath remains a little soft. Dust with cocoa powder and serve with whipped cream.

Time:   20 mins to prepare, 40 mins to cook

Cocoa Treats: 2-3 servings

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29Mar 12

Grandma’s Chocolate Tiffin

Grandma's TiffinThe word ‘tiffin’ is a 19th century word inherited from the colonial days of the Raj. It’s a loosely Indian term meaning a light snack or lunch, or referring to any light meal. It also has some relation to an old English term, ‘tiffing’, which meant ‘to take a sip’. Tiffin as we now know it today, came about when with the typical light British ‘afternoon tea’, merged with the Indian custom of taking a slightly more filling snack between meals. In some parts of India and Nepal it still means an in-between-meals snack. In Mumbai it means a packed lunch, and there are even dedicated people (sometimes called ‘tiffin wallahs’) whose job it is to deliver tiffin in boxes to workers and schoolchildren during the day.

My favourite kind of tiffin is my Grandma’s recipe – a rich, chocolate, biscuit and fruit crunch.  Grandma’s Chocolate Tiffin is one of those comfort foods that take me back to all those ‘feel-good’, happy childhood memories that I never want to lose. It’s great fun to make with, and for, children, and it’s so simple.

Ingredients:

  • 115g butter or margarine
  • 60g sugar
  • 60g golden syrup
  • 60g shredded or desiccated coconut
  • 60g raisins
  • 60g of white chocolate broken into small pieces
  • 20g drinking chocolate or cocoa powder
  • 150g good quality milk chocolate (or dark chocolate if you prefer)
  • 225g rich tea biscuits

Preparation Guidelines

  1. Grease a shallow tin (medium sized, 8” x 10” approx).
  2. Break biscuits into small pieces.
  3. Melt the butter or margarine in a saucepan with the sugar and syrup.
  4. Add the drinking chocolate, coconut and raisins. NB – you could substitute chopped walnuts or other nuts for the coconut if you prefer, or leave out altogether. It’s just the same with the raisins if you find them too sweet.  Whatever you choose, it will be de-licious – the chocolate will make sure of that – so play around!
  5. Bring just to the boil then remove from heat and stir in the biscuit pieces and white chocolate.
  6. Spread the mix in the shallow pre-greased tin and leave to cool.
  7. Melt the chocolate in a separate bowl. NB – it’s best to melt the chocolate either in a bowl over a pan of hot water, or in a small microwave-proof bowl in the microwave for a just few seconds; it melts very quickly so keep a close eye on it.
  8. Spread the melted chocolate over the biscuit mix and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  9. Cut when cold.

Time:    15-20 mins

Cocoa Treats:    around 20 pieces

 

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