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Cover: Loco for cocoa

Recipes with desserts

09Apr 12

Amaretti Chocolate Sticks

Amaretti Chocolate sticksThe shape of these Amaretti chocolate sticks is created by wrapping the biscuits around a spoon handle whilst they are still warm. Why chocolate sticks?  Well here’s a little aside for you…

The word chocolate may well have its origins in the Mayan word, ‘xocolatl’. There’s debate over its meaning – it could translate as ‘bitter water’ which comes from ‘xoco’ (bitter) and ‘atle’ (water). This beverage was the first hot chocolate. Or it could be because the word is onomatopoeic – it sounds like what it describes. For instance, if you say it over and over, it sounds like the beating or pounding of the sticks that would have been used back then in the preparation of the beans.

So you can see where I got the stick idea from… let’s get on with the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 4 tbsp double cream
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 300g good dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 6 tbsp almond-flavoured liqueur
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220ºC.
  2. Line 4 baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg white together with the sugar.
  4. Sift the cocoa powder and the flour into the bowl, then add the butter and the cream, and stir the whole mixture together.
  5. Lift and place 4 dessertspoons of the mixture onto one of the lined baking trays.  Space them well apart so that they don’t touch as they cook.  Smooth each one out into an oval shape, gently, with the back of the spoon.
  6. Cook the biscuits in the preheated oven for 4 minutes until the edges of the biscuits darken a little and spread.
  7. Take the tray out of the oven and let the biscuits rest for 30 seconds. Then lift each biscuit using a palette knife and wrap them around the handle of a wooden spoon until they set into their rolled stick shape.  Once set, remove them carefully and place them onto a cooling rack.  Repeat until all of the biscuits are cooked and set into shape.
  8. Melt the chocolate, stir in the almond liqueur, then dip the biscuit sticks into the chocolate, letting any excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.  Place the chocolate-covered sticks onto a sheet of greaseproof paper to set.
  9. Present in little pots.  If any are left over, they can be stored in an airtight container.

Time: 20 minutes to prepare, plus setting.  4 minutes cooking time for each batch.

Cocoa Treats: 32

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06Apr 12

Chocolate Easter Nest Torte Part 2

Chocolate Easter Nest Torte 

 

Here’s the 2nd part of the Chocolate Eater Nest Torte recipe which covers instructions on making the moussey torte topping, and the pretty nest-style decoration for the top of the cake.  There’s a lot of work involved overall, but it’s fun, and the result is truly worth it!

Ingredients:

For the torte topping

  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 2 tbsp powdered gelatine
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 200g good dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 300ml milk
  • 300ml whipping cream

For the decoration

  • 150g good milk chocolate, roughly sliced
  • 1-2 packs of mini chocolate eggs

Preparation Guidelines:

For the torte topping:

  1. Dissolve the gelatine in the water and leave to soften.  Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks in a clean bowl, and mix together with the sugar, cornflour and a splash of milk.  Make a custard by heating the remaining milk in a saucepan, bringing it just to the boil, then whisking it in well to the egg yolk mixture, returning it to the saucepan and cooking it gently until thickened, stirring constantly and not overheating.  Remove the custard from the heat and stir in the gelatine, dissolving it. Add the chocolate and let sit until melted in, and then stir well.  Transfer the mix to a bowl, cut and lay a piece of greaseproof paper over the surface to prevent a skin, leave to cool until just starting to thicken, and remove the paper.
  2. Whip the cream firm and work into the chocolate mix.  Spoon the mixture on top of the chocolate sponge (part 1), inside the chocolate casing (part 1), levelling the surface, then chill in the fridge for 1-2 hrs until set.  You can then remove the paper strip from around the chocolate casing.

For the decoration:

3. Roughly slice the milk chocolate into long, thin shards.  Scatter them gently in a nest shape on top of the torte and fill the nest with the mini eggs.

Time: 2 hrs plus cooling and chilling time for the whole cake making process, including part 1

Cocoa Treats: 12 servings

Note: For more spring cake ideas, try this Easter cake with orange and marzipan.

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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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27Mar 12

Chocolate Lava Cakes

Chocolate Lava CakeI discovered Chocolate Lava Cakes only recently, and they are a true delight!  They are not like your traditional chocolate fudge cake.  As you bite into the chocolate sponge, the warm, gooey chocolate filling spills out onto your tongue.  A sensuous, and very welcome surprise for those not expecting it – and a treat for those who already know!  In fact, you need to eat these little heavenly parcels with a spoon, unless you want to get messy.  Chocolate Lava cakes are always eaten warm!

Ingredients:

  • 100g bar of good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 2 large or extra large eggs
  • 1 large or extra large egg yolk
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • A sprinkle of icing sugar or chocolate syrup to top before serving

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Slowly melt the chocolate and the butter together in a heat-proof bowl that sits in a saucepan of hot water.  Once melted, combine them well.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and the sugar together until light and creamy.
  3. Fold the chocolate mixture into the creamed eggs and sugar until well-combined.
  4. Sift the flour, cocoa and salt into the chocolate and egg mix, and stir the whole mixture together with a spatula.
  5. Line 4 x 140g ramekins or small oven-proof pots with butter before dividing the mixture evenly into them. Give them a little tap on the work surface to release any trapped air bubbles, and put them in the fridge to cool for 30 minutes.
  6. Whilst the mixture is cooling, preheat the oven to 220ºC.  Take a deep roasting tray, and after the chilling time, transfer the pots from the fridge to the tray, and then pour water into the tray around the ramekins until it reaches halfway up the outsides of the pots.  Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.  Remove the ramekins from the water and put them on a serving plate.  Sprinkle over a little chocolate syrup or icing sugar and serve the lava cakes warm with a teaspoon.  Alternatively, turn the cakes out onto a plate, serving them warm and with a spoon.

Note:  This dessert is also wonderful served hot with ice cream.

Time: 15 minutes to prepare, 30 minutes cooling time, 15 minutes to cook

Cocoa Treats: 4

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26Mar 12

No-Bake Chocolate Biscuit Crunch

Chocolate Biscuit CrunchThis is a no-bake chocolate biscuit crunch.  I remember making it at school as a child.  I have strong memories of putting the digestive biscuits into a white plastic bag and bashing them with a rolling pin.  That bit was so much fun for us, though it must have been a moment of pure cacophony for the poor teacher!  I think we were about five or six at the time and we all felt very grown up putting on our little aprons and mixing together all of the ingredients.  Then taking our creation home to share with our proud mummies and the rest of the family – keeping a few big squares for ourselves of course!

This is a great recipe to make with little ones. They love making chocolate cookies, and this recipe is quick and easy. It’s very satisfying for them, and there are no hot ovens for you to worry about.  The only difficult bit is waiting for your chocolate biscuit crunch to set in the fridge before you can eat it!

Ingredients:

  • 175g good milk chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 175g good dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 115g butter
  • 400g condensed milk
  • 250g digestive biscuits

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Line a baking tray or cake tin with greaseproof paper or clingfilm.  Choose your tin depending on the shape you want to create.
  2. Melt the butter and the chocolate together very gently in a saucepan, stirring regularly.  Remove from the heat.
  3. Pour the condensed milk into the mixture and work together.
  4. Put the digestive biscuits into large, clean sandwich or freezer bags and crush them by rolling and gently bashing with a rolling pin.  You may need to do this in 2 batches.  You are aiming to end up with small broken bits of biscuit and some crumble rather than all-biscuit crumble!  Stir the biscuits into the mixture.
  5. Spoon the ready mixture into your tin, pressing it well into the corners.  Leave the mixture to cool a while in the tin, and then transfer it to the fridge for setting.  It will take a minimum of 2 hours to set, and this will depend on the settings of your fridge.
  6. When you are ready to serve your chocolate biscuit crunch, take it out of the fridge and cut it into squares or wedges, depending on the tin you chose to make your mould.

Time: 20 minutes preparation time.  No cooking time.  At least 2 ½ hours cooling and setting time.

Cocoa Treats: 10-20 pieces

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14Feb 12

Totally Chilled Chocolate Truffles

Chilled Chocolate TrufflesThese Totally Chilled Chocolate Truffles look wonderful, taste wonderful, melt in the mouth and take no time at all to make. OK, you can buy chocolate truffles in the shops – but these will be better, and make your guests go WOW! This recipe makes a small bowl of attractive little truffles (about 24) ideal for a small party. You can also make them into slices to accompany your morning coffee. If you want more, just double up the quantity, and always serve straight from the fridge.

Ingredients:

  • 120g good quality milk chocolate
  • 120ml of double cream
  • 20g unsalted butter
  • 1 small tsp cocoa powder (optional)
  • 1 dtsp icing sugar (optional)
  • Coating – a couple of tablespoons of either cocoa powder or drinking chocolate for rolling

Preparation Guidlines:

To make the ganache (chocolate and cream mix)
1. Heat your cream to near boiling point.
2. While it’s heating, break the chocolate into small pieces in a heatproof bowl (warm for a few seconds in the microwave if cold).
3. Let the cream cool a little then pour over the chocolate and stir until melted.
4. Add in the cocoa powder and the icing sugar for a sweeter fudgier texture. (You can leave these out if you like a really smooth ganache.)
5. Add the butter a bit at a time, and continuing to stir gently so as not to create bubbles.
6. Cover and cool in the fridge overnight, or for a minimum of a few hours.

To serve:
1. When you are ready, or about an hour before you serve, take small teaspoonfuls of the chilled mix, form into balls and roll in your preferred dusting powder – cocoa will develop the rich flavour, drinking chocolate will sweeten the truffles a little.
2. Put the finished truffles straight back into the fridge on the serving dish you want to use – ready to hand to your guests.

Note: Any truffles that don’t get gobbled immediately will keep for a couple of days in a container in the fridge, but they probably won’t last that long!

Time: 20 mins to prepare plus overnight chill in fridge
Cocoa Treats: 20-24 small truffles – a small dishful

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