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Cover: Loco for cocoa

Recipes with double cream

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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13Jul 12

Lime and Chocolate Creams

Lime and Chocolate Creams
A refreshing pud for the early summer. Lime and chocolate creams are best served really well chilled from the fridge, and this dessert takes less than 10 minutes to prepare! Make the little pots of yumsciousness a little in advance, and then whip them out for a sophisticated, yet devilishly simple, round off to an evening of entertaining. You’ll make use of both the juice and the zest of the limes to create a lovely citrus burst.

We sometimes make lime and chocolate creams just for the two of us on a sunny afternoon; we make two big glasses and leave them to chill – this is pretty decadent I know. Then in the evening we take one out onto the terrace with a couple of spoons as the sun sets and share it together with a super chilled glass of cava. If we catch the neighbours in the garden, we’ll invite them round too, grab a couple of extra spoons and give them the glass that we were saving for tomorrow. That really is the life. If we’re feeling extra indulgent that evening, we may even shake up a caipirinha cocktail to keep the lime theme and the socialising going a bit further into the night.

Lime and Chocolate Creams
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
A refreshing pud for the early summer. Lime and chocolate creams are best served really well chilled from the fridge, and this dessert takes less than 10 minutes to prepare!
Ingredients
  • 100g good quality milk or dark chocolate
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • The juice and fine zest of 2 limes
  • 300ml double cream
  • A little soft brown sugar to crumble over the top
Instructions
  1. First we need to create a lime syrup. Squeeze the lime juice into a small pan and grate in the lime zest. Add the water and the sugar and gently heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Stir everything together well and remove from the heat, allowing the mixture to cool slightly.
  2. Pour the double cream into a mixing bowl and pour the cooled lime syrup over the top. Whisk the mixture together until firm and beginning to peak.
  3. Grate the chocolate on a course grater (not fine). Put a little of the chocolate to one side to save for the topping and mix the rest into the lime cream.
  4. Divide the chocolate lime cream into individual glasses and chill in the fridge until ready to serve. This dessert is nice really cold.
  5. When ready to serve, remove the glasses from the fridge and sprinkle over with the grated chocolate you reserved and a little soft brown sugar.
Notes
Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or an hour if you can wait that long.

 

 

 

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09Jul 12

Fruity Milk Chocolate Florentines

Fruity Milk Chocolate FlorentinesAs the name suggests, florentines originated in the Italian city of Florence. The Italians make excellent desserts in the Tuscany region, including Biscotti de Prato.

Florentines are fragile, fruity sensations that are often made with dark chocolate, but I prefer them with milk chocolate.  The trickiest bit of the process is getting a good round shape to your biscuit, so I think it’s best to be relaxed about that, and enjoy the biscuits a little uneven around the edges.  They’ll still taste just as wonderful!  You can enjoy fruity milk chocolate florentines as a rather special biscuit snack; or dress them up for after-dinner with creams, sauces and liqueurs, for a rich or romantic dessert.

Ingredients:

  • 150g good quality milk chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 30g glacé cherries
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp double cream
  • 30g sultanas or raisins
  • 55g flaked almonds
  • 20g candied peel mix
  • 2tsbp plain flour

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC and lightly grease a large non-stick baking tray with a pat of butter.
  2. Chop the cherries into rough pieces and set them to one side.
  3. Melt the butter and the sugar together in a saucepan on a gentle heat until melted, stirring them together.  Then bring the temperature up until the mixture boils.  Remove from the heat and whilst the mixture is still hot, add in the dried fruit, almonds, flour, glacé cherries and the double cream.  Combine the ingredients together.
  4. Lift teaspoonfuls of the mixture out and place them on the prepared baking tray, spaced widely apart so as not to touch and stick when they spread.  It’s best to cook the biscuits in 2 batches or more and really give them plenty of space.  Pop each batch in the oven for around 8 minutes.  Remove them and push each biscuit into a neat circle using a round, oiled biscuit cutter.  Bake them again for about 2 minutes before transferring them onto a clean sheet of grease-proof baking parchment to cool.
  5. Melt the chocolate in a pan.  Once the Florentines have cooled, turn them upside-down and use a palette knife, or large blunt knife to spread the melted chocolate across the flat surface of the biscuit which is now on top.  Transfer the biscuits to a clean sheet of paper to set.

Time: 15 minutes to prepare, 25-35 minutes to cook

Cocoa Treats: 12-15

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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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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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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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17May 12

White Chocolate Mousse

White Chocolate MousseTo my palette, there’s nothing much more exquisite than the combination of chocolate and liqueur.  A rich round off to a romantic candlelit meal with someone special, accompanied by a glass of cava or champagneWhite chocolate doesn’t contain any cocoa solids and in truth is masquerading as chocolate, but we adore the divine blend of cocoa butter, milk solids and sugar.  The composition of white chocolate gives it a lower melting point than chocolate made with cocoa solids, and this just serves to accentuate it’s melt-in-the-mouth sensuality. This white chocolate mousse is one of my favourites.  Make it and you’ll find out why.

 

Ingredients:

  • 230g good white chocolate, broken into pieces, and a little grated to decorate
  • 4 tbsp orange liqueur
  • 295ml double cream
  • 2 egg whites
  • 30ml water
  • A few shavings of orange zest to decorate

You will also need an electric whisk.

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Melt the chocolate slowly in a heat-proof container over hot water, mixing in the water and the liqueur, and stirring gently.  When molten and combined, allow the mixture to cool.
  2. Whip the cream in a large bowl with the electric whisk, until the cream is firm and peaking.  Then fold it gently into the melted chocolate.
  3. Clean and dry the whisking blades on your electric whisk, and use them to beat the egg whites in a clean bowl.  Once light, fluffy and aerated, stir the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
  4. With a spatula, gently tease the mousse mixture out into 6 wine glasses or serving bowls and chill them in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour.
  5. Just before presenting the mousse, decorate it with a little grated chocolate or orange zest, and serve it up for the pure pleasure of your company.

Note: Equally as pleasure-inducing are mint, raspberry or coffee liqueurs in place of the orange liqueur.  Have a little experiment with the toppings too!

Time: Less than 30 minutes preparation time, plus a minimum of 1 hour chilling time

Cocoa Treats: 6

If you love this version, also try this rich chocolate mousse.

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01May 12

Dark Chocolate and Orange Mousse

Dark chocolate and orange mousseThis exquisitely intense dark chocolate and orange mousse is very simple and quick to put together.

But first… a little background story…

Quetzalcoatl and the cultivation of cocoa

We have to thank the ancient Mayan people for their gift of chocolate to the world.  The Aztecs originally gave it to the Spaniards because they mistook them for gods.  Maybe this is because the Spanish wore armour, and their commanders sported helmets with plumes – which would in the eyes of the Aztecs have linked them to the plumed serpent and guardian deity of the precious cocoa plants, Quetzalcoatl.  Legend has it that Quetzalcoatl was the one who revealed the secrets of the cocoa plant to his worshippers.  He showed them how to cultivate the tree and harvest and prepare the beans.  Quetzalcoatl is the father of all dark chocolatedesserts such as this trifle of four chocolates.

So, in honour of the tale, here is a fittingly dark chocolate Mousse.  It really is a pure celebration of taste and flavour.

Ingredients:

  • 150g good dark chocolate, Lindt 70%, or a darker one if you prefer, broken into pieces
  • 100g bar of Lindt Orange Intense chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 150g marshmallows
  • 50g butter, softened
  • 284ml tub of double cream
  • 45ml hot water, from a kettle that has boiled and left to cool a little
  • 3 tbsp Cointreau – optional… if you happen to have it in the house… if not, the recipe is perfectly scrumptious without it, just up the hot water content to 60ml.

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Melt the chocolate, butter and marshmallows together over a gentle heat in a heavy-based saucepan, stirring occasionally.
  2. Whilst the mixture is melting, pour the double cream into a mixing bowl and whip it into a thick consistency.
  3. Once the chocolate mixture is molten and combined, take the pan off the heat and stir in the Cointreau.
  4. Fold the cream gently into the cooling chocolate until smoothly and evenly mixed.
  5. Portion the mousse out into 4-6 serving dishes and either enjoy it straight away, or pop it in the fridge for later, or even the next day – if you can wait that long!
Note: For a nice presentation, try placing orange slices on the bottom of the glass as well as one on top.

Time: 30 minutes preparation time

Cocoa Treats: for 4 – 6 people

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19Apr 12

Dark Chocolate Ganache

Ganaches

Dark Chocolate Ganache is a sensuous, rich and creamy delight that can be used in meringues, biscuits, cakes, puddings, pancakes (like these oat and buckweat pancakes) or even enjoyed on its own.  You can pour and spread it, warm or cool over cakes and other desserts.  You can also whip cooled ganache to sculpt as icing or filling.  It’s very versatile, so once you know how, you can throw it together at any time to add to many other recipes.

You can also vary the proportions of chocolate and cream, depending on what you’ll be using the ganache for later.  This recipe is half cream and half chocolate, and is therefore very rich.  It is what I call a multi-purpose ganache.  The photograph shows both types of ganache: the molten version for spreading and the cooled version for  whipping, both of which are made from this recipe.                                                                                                                              

Ingredients:

  • 250g good quality chocolate (around 52% cocoa), broken into pieces
  • 250ml double cream

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Pour the cream into a small saucepan and bring the mixture up to the boil on the hob, over a medium to high heat.  As the cream begins to boil – it will very quickly rise over the top of the pan, so you need to watch carefully to catch it at the right moment.
  2. Once you have removed the pan from the heat, add the chocolate pieces.  Let them sit in the cream until they melt and then stir them in with a wooden spoon.  Once completely melted and combined, pour the ganache warm over your chosen pudding, or leave the mixture to cool for later use.  Before you put it in the fridge for cooling, cover the surface directly with a piece of clingfilm to avoid the ganache forming a skin.

Notes:  Take care not to let ganache cool too much as it can become stiff and unworkable.

You can experiment with adding different flavours and liqueurs to your ganache.  Try 2-3 tablespoons of one of these: dark rum, orange liqueur, mint liqueur, coffee liqueur, raspberry liqueur, Disaronno Italian liqueur or hazelnut liqueur or essence.  If you want a sweeter Ganache, add 1-3 tablespoons of sugar to the hot cream.

Time:   5 minutes to prepare, 5 minutes to cook, plus cooling time

Cocoa Treats: 2-3 servings, or 400g to use in other recipes.

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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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