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Cover: Loco for cocoa

Recipes with milk chocolate

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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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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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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15Jun 12

Almond and Apricot Chocolate Brownies

Almond and Apricot Chocolate BrowniesChocolate Brownies of any description are pretty heavenly.  Rich, moist and gooey!  Eaten warm with ice-cream is always my favourite way to devour them!  Brownies are often made with walnuts, but I want to give you a slightly different idea. 

Almond and apricot chocolate brownies have all the gooey richness of a classic brownie, but they offer a different kind of sweetness and crunch.  You can try experimenting with other fruit and nuts too.  Any variation is good fun to make, and lip-smackingly tasty!  Just be sure not to overcook your brownies, or they will be disappointingly dry.

Also, try this Go Free Chocolate Brownie recipe, which is gluten-free, wheat-free and dairy-free. Perfect for large groups with special dietary needs.

Ingredients:

  • 300g good dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 200g good milk chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 220g unsalted butter, left to soften
  • 220g light muscovado sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 75g self-raising flour
  • 100g almonds, roughly chopped
  • 75g breakfast apricots, drained, excess juice squeezed out, and roughly torn

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC.  Grease and then line a shallow baking tray with grease-proof paper.
  2. Melt the dark chocolate slowly together with the butter in a large saucepan, stirring well.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs together with the sugar until creamy and light, then stir in the melted dark chocolate.  Once well mixed, add the flour, the almond and apricot pieces, and the roughly chopped milk chocolate.  Combine everything together with a wooden spoon.
  4. Spoon the mixture out into the lined baking tray and bake for around 40 mins until the centre of the cake feels firm to the touch but soft directly underneath the surface.  The trick with brownies is never to overcook them. You need to look out for the golden moment, and take them from the oven before they begin to go dry.
  5. If you’re not going to eat the brownies straight away, leave the brownie to cool in the tin.  Once cooled, turn it out onto a chopping board and cut it into squares.

Note: If you want to serve some of the brownie hot and fresh, you can remove the part you want from the tray as soon as it is cooked, and serve it in bowls with ice-cream. To make it fruitier, try topping with bits of strawberries and apricots. It will fall apart and be ever-so gooey!  Then you can leave the remainder of the cake to cool in the tray, to cut into servings and store.

Another idea for preparing it to eat hot, is to bake the brownie mix in smaller pots or ramekins to serve straight from the oven with cream and ice-cream.  Or you could even pop a square of brownie in the microwave for a few seconds to warm it at any time.  So many ways to eat a brownie!  Yum!

Time: 20 mins preparation, 45 mins baking

Cocoa Treats: 18 squares

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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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31May 12

Chocolate Triangle Cake

Chocolate Triangle CakeThe Mayans were amazing and sophisticated people. They learnt how to cultivate cocoa trees, and they developed ways of fermenting and roasting the beans so that they could be consumed. At the same time the Roman Empire was peaking, the Mayans were building their huge pyramids.

 

So here’s a recipe inspired by those incredible Mayan Pyramids.  To create the unique shape of this chocolate triangle cake, the mixture is poured and set into a tilted cake tin.  I have used almonds and raisins in this recipe but you can substitute any dried fruit or nuts you like; for example hazelnuts, mixed nuts, dried apricots, de-stoned prunes, dates, or glacé cherries to name a few.

Ingredients:

  • 300g milk chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 100-150g good dark chocolate
  • 170g digestive biscuits, broken into roughly shaped pieces
  • 125g raisins
  • 100ml evaporated milk
  • 100g almonds, roughly chopped
  • 100g white chocolate

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Take an 18cm square cake tin and line the base and 3 upright sides with clingfilm, leaving one side without film.
  2. Pour the evaporated milk into a heavy-bottom pan, add the milk chocolate and on a low heat, gradually melt and stir the mixture together.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool, but not to set.
  3. Stir in the nuts, raisins, and biscuit pieces.
  4. Place the cake tin at a 45 degree angle by propping it up on one side with a box.  It should sit with the unlined side of the tin being the side that is propped up, and therefore raised above the level of work surface. Transfer the cake mixture to the propped up tin, smooth the top surface and leave until it is firm.  At this stage you can put the tin into the fridge to set the cake completely.
  5. Once thoroughly set, remove the cake from the fridge, turn out of the tin and peel off the clingfilm.  If any bits of biscuit sit above the level of the chocolate mixture, you can slice these off so that the cake will sit flat on a serving plate.
  6. Melt the dark chocolate and spread it in a very thin layer over the top sides of the pyramid.
  7. Melt the white chocolate and drizzle in a decorative pattern for presentation.

Time:  20 minutes to prepare plus cooling and setting

Cocoa Treats: 10 servings

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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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12Apr 12

Chocolate Fool’s Fudge with Almonds

Chocolate Fudge with almonds
Bite-size slices of crunchy fudgy heaven…

So called fool’s fudge because it is not made in the traditional way with all of the traditional ingredients.  It’s easier to make and will magically form just the right consistency, without you having to worry about it coming out too hard, or even too soft.  As with other no-bake sweet treats, the only demanding bit about making it is the time you have to wait for it to set before reaching those fingers into the fridge! (Also try these choc-cherry fudge slices.)

Chocolate fool’s fudge with almonds is great for parties and weekend treats.  Once sliced, you can wrap it up in parchment paper, tie it with pretty ribbons and give it to your friends as a ‘happy today’ treat to make them smile on any old day, or for birthday and Christmas presents.

Ingredients:

  • 175g good quality 70% dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 175g good quality milk chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 395ml condensed milk (one can)
  • A small pinch of fine salt grains
  • 30g butter
  • 75g raisins
  • 75g whole almonds
  • 1tsp almond essence

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. In a large heavy-based saucepan, mix the butter, chocolate, and condensed milk together; gently heating them until the butter and chocolate have melted.  Add the salt and the almond essence, and then stir everything together really well.  Leave to cool a while, but do not let the mixture begin to set.
  2. Meanwhile, put the almonds into a clean sandwich bag.  Lay the bag on a wooden chopping board, and use a rolling pin to split the almonds into smaller pieces within the bag.
  3. Once the chocolate mixture has cooled, stir the almond pieces and raisins in using a wooden spoon.
  4. Spoon the fudge mix out into a 23-25cm square foil tray using a spatula, levelling the top.
  5. Chill the mixture in the fridge until it is set, at least overnight.  In the morning, slice the fudge in its tray into bite-size chunks.

Note:  In my opinion, the texture continues to improve over a couple of days – but I suggest that you start enjoying it the morning after you’ve made it.  You can tuck into it sooner, as long as it is set.  The texture will be softer but the flavour equally as yummy.

Time: 15 minutes to prepare plus cooling and setting time

Cocoa Treats: 50 – 60 bite-size pieces

 

 

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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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