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Cover: Loco for cocoa

Recipes with sugar

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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20Jul 12

Chocolate Gingerbread Animals

 

Chocolate Gingerbread AnimalsChocolate is my passion, and my niece loves it too, so we often find ourselves playing with it together when she comes round for the day, even when she visits with her mum and dad. We girls get busy in the kitchen, leaving mum and dad to relax together a while – a much welcome break for them; and loads of fun for us! Here’s one of our favourites; chocolate gingerbread animals. We make animals because they are the shapes we happened to find on a shopping trip together. But we also have heart, circle and square cutters – and you can make this recipe into gingerbread people too and decorate them with icing, chocolate and smarties if you like. (Also try this sugar-free gingerbread recipe.)

We had a family gathering recently with my parents, brothers, sisters and of course my little niece, and we rustled these up. My dad, with his Canadian roots, particularly enjoyed munching his way through the moose.

Chocolate Gingerbread Animals
Author: 
Recipe type: Desserts
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 6-8
 

A classic gingerbread biscuit with the added delight of chocolate…
Ingredients
  • 30g unsweetened good quality cocoa powder and a little for dusting
  • 310g plain flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 190ml golden syrup

Instructions
  1. Grease a baking sheet with a little butter and preheat the oven to 190ºC.
  2. Measure out and sift the cocoa powder, flour, ginger powder and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl and combine.
  3. Chop the butter into small cubes and then work it into the powder with your fingertips, creating a fine crumble-like texture.
  4. Now add the sugar, the golden syrup and the egg. Combine the mixture together with your hands to create a firm dough.
  5. Cut the dough ball in half and roll it out on a lightly cocoa powder dusted surface, then cut out the shapes of your choice.
  6. Bake the biscuits on the tray in the oven for between 10 and 15 minutes, until you see them just beginning to darken around the edges. Let them sit on the tray for a couple of minutes cooling before transferring them to a cooling rack. Once cool, you can decorate as you wish.
  7. Repeat the rolling, cutting and cooking processes with the other half of the dough, or wrap it in clingfilm and pop it in the fridge if you prefer to make another fresh batch the next day.

 

 

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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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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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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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10Apr 12

Chocolate Cake in a Mug

Chocolate Cake in a MugWell, here’s a little something completely different from the classic chocolate fudge cake.  There’s nothing posh about this cocoa treat, oh no… but chocolate cake in a mug is fast, fun and tasty to throw together for a mid-week pudding for the kids, or just for yourself whenever you need a little comfort food (shhhh don’t tell anyone).  If you’re making it just for one, simply halve the ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 8 tbsp self-raising flour
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 8 tbsp caster sugar
  • 6 tbsp milk
  • 6 tbsp chocolate chips
  • 6 tbsp sunflower oil
  • Splash of vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs

You will also need 2 large mugs

Preparation Guidelines:

Split all of the ingredients by half into 2 large mugs. Or, you can simply mix everything together in a bowl, then transfer the mixture evenly into the 2 mugs before cooking.

  1. First add all of the dry ingredients and stir them together with a teaspoon.
  2. Add the egg and thoroughly work the mixture together with the spoon.
  3. Add the oil and the milk and stir again.
  4. Splash in the vanilla essence, pour in the chocolate chips, and keep mixing.
  5. Cook the mixture in the mugs; put each mug in separately for 3 minutes (timing is for a 1000W microwave).
  6. Allow the cup to cool enough to handle it before you dig in to your yummy chocolate cake in a mug.

Note:    The cake mixture should rise over the top of the mug during cooking.

This cake is also really tasty eaten hot with vanilla ice cream, or any other flavour for that matter.  If you fancy it this way, simply transfer it to a bowl to serve and add the ice cream; the combination of hot cake and the ice cream will be wonderful!

Time: 5 minutes to prepare, 3 minutes to cook in the microwave for each mug of cake.

Cocoa Treats: Makes enough for 2 large mugs of cake!

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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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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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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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