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Cover: Loco for cocoa

Recipes with dark chocolate

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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26Jul 12

Intense Little Chocolate Pots

Intense Little chocolate potsDip into heaven with these Intense Little Chocolate Pots…

They are a great dessert to make the night before a special meal and leave to set in the fridge. You can make them on the same day you wan to eat them, of course, but be sure to allow yourself a good couple of hours for setting and chilling the chocolate. The servings are small, very rich, and will complete a celebration meal perfectly alongside a glass of pink champagne.

This is one I tend to do when there’s a grown-up’s birthday in the family; or to round off an evening meal with a little romance. Don’t forget the candles and the music! Intense little chocolate pots are also beautiful served with soft amaretti biscuits or these hard Italian Biscotti Di Prato.

For yummy variations to this recipe, try using Lindt intense orange chocolate, a good dark mint chocolate, or one with hazelnut or almond pieces nestled inside. They are great with just the spice dusting, but will also look beautiful if you top them off with a round of cream, or scatter them with toasted almonds or chopped hazelnuts – all you need is a little imagination to create these again and again with different flavours and garnishes.

Intense Little Chocolate Pots
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Intense Little Chocolate Pots are a great for grown-up birthdays and romantic nights in!
Ingredients
  • 250g good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 590ml single cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • 30g caster sugar
  • Cocoa powder for dusting
  • Cinnamon powder for dusting
  • Icing sugar for dusting
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC.
  2. Heat the cream and the chocolate together very slowly and gently in a heavy-based saucepan, stirring the ingredients together. Be very careful not to let the mixture boil, as this will curdle the cream.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks together with the whole egg and with the sugar. Now combine with the chocolate and cream mixture.
  4. Strain the mixture through into little round or teardrop-shaped oven-proof ramekins. Place the pots onto a roasting tray and pour 1cm of water around them before covering with foil and baking for around 60 mins until the mixture just begins to set.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature before transferring to the fridge to set, which will take at least another 60 mins.
  6. Sift over with a light dusting of cocoa powder, icing sugar and cinnamon powder.
  7. Serve like this or with a spoonful of cream to top, before dusting over the topping.

 

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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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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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15Jul 12

Little Chocolate Macaroons

Little Chocolate MacaroonsMelty and crispy… what a combination!

These little chocolate macaroons get baked in our house every so often.  Sometimes we devour the lot in one go, and sometimes I manage to save some in an airtight container to share with friends on coffee mornings – which is usually the motive for making them in the first place.  They are a perfect coffee compliment, and they contain a chocolate-coated coffee bean in the centre.

These chocolate macaroons are crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside.  Your friends will be delighted to share them with you.  If you can’t find the coated coffee beans, use a whole blanched almond as a substitute.

For an evening variation for the grown-ups, serve a couple of macaroons in a pretty bowl, drizzled over with almond liqueur or the Italian liqueur Disaronno; or spoon a little liqueur cream onto the side.  Here’s another idea; simply serve with a liqueur coffee after a special meal. (Another fantastic cookie to go with coffee is this Italian biscotti di prato.)

Ingredients:

  • 50g good quality dark chocolate, grated
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 130g ground almonds
  • Small bag of chocolate-coated coffee beans

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line a baking tray with grease-proof baking paper.
  2. Beat the egg whites in a bowl until they are stiff, and then gradually whisk in the sugar.  You are aiming for a thick and glossy consistency.  Work in the ground almonds nice and gently, along with the grated chocolate.
  3. Spoon the mixture into a large piping bag, and using a large, plain nozzle, pipe the mix onto the prepared baking tray in small circles of 4 cm diameter.  If you don’t have piping equipment, you can use a teaspoon to create the macaroon shapes.
  4. Insert 1 chocolate-coated coffee bean into the middle of each macaroon, just below the surface.  Place the tray into the oven and bake for around 15 minutes, when the biscuits should be just firm and slightly risen.  Let the macaroons cool down on the baking paper before tucking in.

Time: 15 minutes to prepare, 15 minutes to cook

Cocoa Treats: 24

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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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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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19Jun 12

Pear and Chocolate Tart

Chocolate and Pear TortI 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:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.  Lightly grease a baking tray and sprinkle it over with a little water.
  2. Melt the chocolate gently in a saucepan over a low heat, add the almond liqueur and stir together until smooth.
  3. Cut the pears into quarters, remove the cores, and then cut into thin slices.  Put the pears into a bowl and cover them with cold water, adding the lemon juice to the water to stop the pears from going brown.
  4. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and roll the puff pastry out into a standard pie dish.  Place the pastry into the prepared dish and create circular edges around the pastry with a sharp knife.
  5. Spoon the melted chocolate onto the surface of the pastry and spread it evenly on top.  Drain the pear slices really well, patting the surface very lightly with kitchen paper before laying them out over the chocolate, keeping the pear from touching the sides of the pie tin. Make little indent marks with the back of a sharp knife all around the top of the pastry edge for decoration before brushing the edges with the beaten egg to create the glaze.  Pop the tart in the oven and cook for around 20-25 minutes until the pastry has risen and goes golden brown.
  6. Take the tart out of the oven and turn the temperature up to 230ºC.  Sift a plentiful dusting of icing sugar over the pears and pop the tart back in the oven to brown for 5 minutes.  Keep a close eye at this point so as not to burn it.  Remove from the oven and let sit for a few minutes before serving with cream or ice cream.

Time:   25 minutes to prepare, around 30 minutes to cook

Cocoa Treats: 6 servings

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