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Cover: Loco for cocoa

Recipes with icing sugar

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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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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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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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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13Jun 12

Almond and Chocolate Orange Biscotti

Almond and Chocolate Orange BiscottiAlmond and Chocolate Orange Biscotti – Italian style biscuits that are wonderful accompanied by a rich roast cappuccino. It’s the perfect complement to round off your Italian meal. (Try this pancetta and pea gemelli recipe.)

Ingredients:

  • 200g good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 25g unsalted butter, softened
  • 110g light muscavado sugar
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 55g polenta, or ground semolina
  • The zest of 1 orange
  • 1 tbsp orange liqueur (or swap for 1 tsp vanilla essence)
  • 1 egg
  • 110g almonds
  • A little icing sugar to dust

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC, and grease a baking tray with a little butter.
  2. Put the almonds in a plastic sandwich bag, or wrap them loosely in clingfilm, and place them on a wooden board.  Using a rolling pin, bash them gently to break them into rough pieces.
  3. Melt the chocolate and the butter slowly in a saucepan, stirring them together.
  4. Take a large mixing bowl and sift in the flour and baking powder.  Mix in the sugar, polenta, egg, orange zest, orange liqueur, and finally the almonds.  Work in the butter and chocolate mixture and form a biscuit dough.  The dough should be a good consistency, but if it is a little moist, sift over an extra little bit of flour; and if it is a little dry, add another splash of orange liqueur, or a tiny bit of water.
  5. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and divide the dough into 2 halves.  Create a log shape out of each half, about 25cm long.  Lay out each sausage of dough on the baking tray, flattening them with your palms to about 1.2cm high.  Bake for 25 mins in the oven, or until the dough rises and feels firm to the touch.
  6. Set the partly baked biscotti to one side to cool.  On a wooden board, slice each log diagonally into 10 biscuits (about 1.5cm thick) and place them back onto the tray, leaving a little space between each one.  Return the tray to the oven for about 10 more mins, crisping up the biscotti.  Remove them and once cool, dust over with the icing sugar.

Time: 20 mins preparation time, 35-40 mins cooking time

Cocoa Treats: 20

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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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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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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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