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Cover: Loco for cocoa

Recipes with vanilla essence

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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07Jul 12

Chocolate and Vanilla Marble Cake

Chocolate and Vanilla Marble cakeChocolate and Vanilla Marble Cake is a classic cake for afternoon tea with friends and family.  If you have a pretty tea set, this is the perfect moment to get it out of the cupboards and use it.  Invite the grandparents round and enjoy a family gathering in good old-fashioned style. (Also try this Marvellous Marble Cake.)

Ingredients:

  • 200g butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 4g salt
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp and 3 drops of vanilla essence
  • 30g cocoa powder

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. Grease a 28cm long, oven-proof, glass plum cake dish with a little butter.
  3. Melt the butter very gently over a low heat.  Take it off the heat as soon as it is melted.  Stir it and leave it to one side.
  4. Separate the egg whites and yolks into 2 different bowls.  Put the egg yolks into a large mixing bowl.  Add the sugar to the egg yolks and combine well with a wooden spoon, and then stir in 3 drops of the vanilla essence.
  5. Add the flour to the sugar and yolk mix in small quantities, alternating with adding the melted butter bit by bit, stirring each addition in well until completely combined.
  6. Whisk the egg whites to a firm consistency, until they are peaking.  Work them into the cake mixture with a wooden spoon.
  7. Portion the cake mix by halves into 2 bowls.  Add the cocoa powder to one bowl, stirring it in well.  Add the teaspoon of vanilla essence to the other bowl, mixing it in well.
  8. Take the prepared plum cake dish, and using two teaspoons, alternate adding the chocolate and vanilla mixtures to the dish, in 4-5 cm strips across the width, and 3 layers high.  Start the first layer with chocolate, the second with vanilla, and the final layer with chocolate.  As you alternate the mixtures, you will naturally create a marble effect.  Don’t worry about being very precise; it’s going to look great!
  9. Place the dish in the oven and bake for about an hour.  Test that the cake is cooked by inserting a sharp knife or skewer into the centre.  The knife should come out of the mixture dry.  Turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool, or enjoy some warm straight away with cookie dough ice cream.

Time: 30 minutes to prepare, about an hour to cook

Cocoa Treats: 8 slices

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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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08May 12

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip CookieI love to make these chocolate chip cookies with my niece.  I put on my duck egg blue apron – the one she loves with ice cream and lollipop prints on it – and she puts on the one with zoo animals.  We get covered in flour and plenty ends up on the floor, but that’s all part of the fun.

The best moments are popping the mixture onto the tray, watching together through the oven door (from a safe distance) as the cookies spread, and the crowning moment – eating the cookies together when they are still warm, cosied up together on the sofa with a big glass of milk.

These are the real thing; rich, gooey and melty.  The secret to melt-in-the-mouth cookies is not to overcook them. (Try these yummy chocolate chunk and raspberry cookies.)

Ingredients:

  • 355g flour, unsifted
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 225g butter, softened
  • 175g soft brown sugar
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 325g dark chocolate chips, or bar, broken into small pieces

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
  2. Put the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl and combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, bind together the sugar, butter, brown sugar and the vanilla essence.  Add the eggs and cream them into the mixture, then gradually work in the flour until well mixed.  Finally add the chocolate and stir it in.
  4. Sprinkle a little flour onto your work surface, lift the dough out of the mixing bowl and split it into 2, rolling each piece out into thick sausage shapes each about 6cm in diameter.  Once the shapes are formed, you can store the dough in the fridge wrapped in clingfilm until you want to use it.  This way you can grab a bit of dough each day over a few days to make totally fresh cookies whenever you want to enjoy them.
  5. When you are ready to bake some cookies, take the dough out of the fridge.  (You don’t have to cool the dough; you can bake it straight away after making it).
  6. Cut the dough ‘log’ into 2cm thick slices and space them fairly widely apart on a greased baking tray so that they don’t touch when spreading during cooking.
  7. Pop them in the oven for 9 to 11 mins.

Time: Less than 30 mins preparation time.  9-11 mins cooking time for each batch of cookies

Cocoa Treats: Makes 12 – 20 cookies

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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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