Category Archives: Chocolate

Cheat’s Chocolate Soufflé

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A simple and impressive dessert, perfect for any occasion or just because you want dessert on a Tuesday! A chocolate lover’s delight, it really needs no accompaniment other than a spoon…

Chances are if you’ve been to my house for a meal, you’ve eaten this dessert. And in all those times, with all those people, I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love it. Who wouldn’t?! Imagine a small amount of the lightest, most delicate, warm chocolate sponge around the outside, and then in the middle a warm, velvety smooth, rich, liquid chocolate centre. It’s like the centre of a Lindt chocolate, but warm and somehow lighter. Just perfect in my book.

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This dessert is part soufflé, part chocolate fondant. I’ve called it a Cheat’s Chocolate Soufflé as although the ingredients and baking method are right for a soufflé, the end result (what with that gloriously rich chocolate centre oozing away) is more like a fondant. However, unlike a chocolate fondant, this dessert does not require the hair-raising moment of trying to turn it out of its tin in one piece. It’s just the dish, a spoon, and you.

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So now we’ve established what this dessert is, how can it be ‘easy’?! I promise it is… in essence, it is melted chocolate and butter mixed with egg yolks, with fluffy egg white folded in (and trust me, you can knock all the air out of your egg whites and the end result will still be fantastic) – all kid’s play really! The trickiest bit, honestly, is baking them for the first time. This is a real test of how temperature accurate your oven is. Don’t be disappointed if on the first try you’re not left with enough of the liquid centre… next time (and I promise, there will be a next time once you’ve tried it), just reduce your cooking time by 2 minutes, and I promise they’ll be perfect.

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So, if you know a chocolate lover or just need something to hit the spot, give this a go. I promise you won’t be dissapointed!

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Amaretti and Raspberry Brownies

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For Meg…

The chocolatiest, moistest, most delicious, decadent brownies ever. With fresh raspberries and crumbled amaretti biscuits, it takes the humble brownie to a whole new level of awesomeness.

We went up to stay with my brother and his girlfriend, Meg, for the weekend in their new house. I asked if they had any baking requests, and Meg told me all about these brownies. They originate from Jamie’s Italian, and Meg described them as the best brownie she had ever eaten. Well, challenge accepted!

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Moist from tons of chocolate and fresh raspberries, these are gooey to the max making them ideal for dessert. Almonds and raspberries are a classic, delicious combination; added to rich chocolate, all the flavours are enhanced and it creates the most decadent brownies. I love raspberries (in case you didn’t already notice from my many raspberry related posts!) and they pair brilliantly with dark chocolate. This recipe is no exception – the tart raspberries cut through the sweetness, leaving you feeling as though there is always room for another piece…

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I know I said in my last brownie post that there was no need to ever look for another brownie recipe, but even the most brilliant people can admit when they were wrong! For a dessert brownie this recipe really is fantastic, as it is much gooey-er than my go to recipe. This is from a lot of melted chocolate in the mix, whereas my usual recipe relies on it’s chocolate hit from cocoa powder. This definitely makes them a lot richer, and makes them feel more dessert like.

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I’m pleased to say these rivalled Jamie O’s (or at least, Meg said they did – having never tried them myself I, of course, could not possibly comment!). And so, challenge accepted, challenge won!

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Chocolate and Salted Caramel Buttercream Cupcakes…Autumn themed!

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Dark and moist chocolate sponge topped with a wickedly moreish salted caramel buttercream, these cupcakes are delicious. Decorated with autumnal leaves and pumpkins, they would make a wonderful special occasion treat.

I tend to make a version of these decorated cupcakes every year. As we established last week, I love autumn, and so I don’t think there’s a better excuse to go all out. I don’t make decorated cupcakes very often; decorations made of sugar paste may look delightful but are pure sugar and E numbers at the end of the day – not something we should make a habit of eating! But still, sugar lecture over, decorated cakes are perfect for celebrating a special occasion and can take a plain cake to a magical place.

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However, these are not the slightest bit plain to begin with. A light, moist, chocolatey sponge – adapted into cupcakes from my favourite cake recipe – and topped with the most amazing caramel buttercream, they are delightful all on their own. The buttercream is, I think, particularly special. You’d think a caramel buttercream would be hard to make, but it is simply made with soft brown sugar! The, deep, caramel flavours are really brought out in the buttercream, and a small pinch of salt takes it to the next level. The soft brown sugar also gives the buttercream a gentle crunch, which contrasts beautifully to the soft sponge – I can’t wait to try this buttercream with other cakes!

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So… so far, we have a moist, chocolatey sponge and the most amazing caramel buttercream. Both very simple, right? Well, the decorations are no exception to this simple trend! They may look complicated, but I promise they really aren’t and do look very effective. I’ve put some step by step instructions below, and I really would encourage you to give it a try. The secret is all in the leaf cutters you can buy for a few pounds on Amazon!

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Sugarpaste is something I’m keen to learn and develop – so I had some fun creating the autumnal scene below. Some poor teenager has been dragged down to the family allotment to help pull up the pumpkins… he’s still got quite a few to go and does not look impressed!

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Double Chocolate Cookies

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Chewy, all-American double chocolate cookies. The perfect texture with a very chocolatey flavour, these are my new go-to cookies when I fancy a quick treat. The perfect accompaniment for lazy afternoons pouring over recipes and cookery books!

So these cookies came about in a bit of a funny way. I really wasn’t looking for a blogging recipe at all – but turns out these were just too good not to post! After a baking fail (yes, they do happen!) I just really fancied a cookie, and as I stumbled across this recipe and had all the ingredients in the cupboard, it was a bit of an ‘oh why not’ situation. And they were perfect. And dangerously quick to make…

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These are very chocolatey. And even though they are a chocolate biscuit, with lots of chocolate in, they are the perfect balance of sweet and bitter, which makes them dangerously moreish. They also have just the right texture; you know how some cookies can be a tad cake-y, and others can be too hard and crunchy? Well these are neither; they are the classic American cookie texture – slightly soft in the middle, crisp and sweet at the edges and chewy all over.

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This recipe didn’t need to be changed at all; only tweaked to use a dairy free butter and dark chocolate. Although the original recipe used a mixture of milk and dark chocolate, I think these worked brilliantly with just dark – it stops them getting too sweet, and it made it a more grown-up flavour, making it feel like a decadent treat. You could of course still use half and half if preferred, using a dairy free ‘milk’ chocolate. Whichever you choose, just try to resist eating them all at once!

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Chocolate Meringues

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These chocolate meringues make a great dessert paired simply with berries and vanilla ice cream. Chewy and very chocolatey, they make a wonderful alternative to traditional white meringues.

Flavoured meringues were something I had wanted to try for ages. I don’t know why, but whenever I see flavoured, colourful meringues in the shops they just look so appealing; and none more so than chocolate meringues. At this time of year when berries are popping up everywhere, light, chocolatey desserts are the perfect accompaniment. So I thought I’d give them a try!

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Having had lots of busy weekends one after the other, these were great to make as a quick dessert as once the meringues were done, it only needed some fruit and ice cream on the side. They also keep really well in an air tight container for 4 – 5 days, making them perfect to bake in advance and have ready when needed.

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I’ll be honest and say they are a bit trickier than a normal meringue – only because you have to be really gentle folding in the chocolate and cocoa powder. But if you can handle standard meringue, you will be absolutely fine with these. Whereas normal white meringues can become very crunchy, crack easily and taste mostly of lightly caramelised sugar, these are the opposite – wonderfully chewy, more sturdy in texture and with chocolate chips studded throughout they’re full of flavour.

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If you’re feeling fancy, you could make a quick raspberry sauce to pour on top – or use my raspberry curd recipe which I will be posting soon. They’re great without it, but the sauce does add an extra bit of zing to compliment the sweet chocolate meringue.

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Chocolate Orange Shortbread Biscuits

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Deliciously like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange in biscuit form, these sweet but zesty shortbreads work for just about any occasion. Chocolatey and packed with orange zest whilst being simple to bake, these biscuits will appeal to everyone and can be made in just a few minutes with store cupboard ingredients.

Of all my bakes so far for this blog, these have to be one of my favourites. I just can’t resist the combination of orange and chocolate – it brings back so many childhood memories of waiting on Christmas day to find that Terry’s Chocolate Orange in your stocking from Father Christmas. Chocolate Oranges (along with Twixes) are still, to this day, one of the few foods I wistfully look at, thinking about how bad would it be if I ate a piece….

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As well as hitting that chocolate orange sweet spot, these shortbreads are also really simple to bake. Relying on almost all store cupboard ingredients, it makes them dangerously easy to make at anytime. For all their simplicity, the finishing touch of melted, drizzled chocolate seems to turn them from a simple concept to an almost premium looking biscuit. In the right packaging these could certainly pass for a Marks and Spencer’s biscuit.

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The other great thing about these is that there is always time for a biscuit. AM or PM, it just can’t go wrong – on your own, or with your family round, there’s always a good reason to eat a biscuit. So although these keep extremely well for a few days, it really is quite unlikely you will have any left…

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Chocolate, Almond and Orange Biscotti

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Classic Italian Biscotti recipe flavoured with chocolate, almonds and orange, perfect for a treat anytime of the day. Ideal for dipping in a hot drink or a cold, sweet glass of wine if you prefer! 

Biscotti are something I’ve always been curious about making- and not something I’ve eaten very often. I tend to think of them as something reserved for Christmas, or posh restaurants where they are served alongside your after-dinner coffee. However, I stumbled across a recipe from Paul Hollywood’s ‘Bread’ on the internet and thought they just sounded too tasty not to give them a try. Paul makes a trio of biscotti, and I just couldn’t resist the sound of chocolate, almond and orange.

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Biscotti come in lots of different flavours, but are very recognisable from their traditional shape and texture – always an elongated half moon shape with a very dry and crunchy texture. They are also surprisingly sweet, and so my favourite way to eat them is dipped in steaming black coffee. The bitter coffee and sweet biscuit compliment each other perfectly, whilst the almond provides more crunch and the orange zest really brings out the flavour of the coffee, chocolate and almond.

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The name ‘biscotti’ originates from Latin and means twice baked. Confusingly, biscotti in Italian simply means biscuit; this could lead to a great disappointment if you were hoping for the twice baked variety (in Italy twice baked biscuits are called ‘cantuccini’)! However, despite their fancy name, they’re very simple to make. By shaping the dough into logs for the first bake, and then cutting them into fingers for the second bake there is no need to be precise or pretty about it – which makes a nice change from the things I usually bake!

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Triple Chocolate Muffins

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A moist, squidgey, and seriously chocolatey muffin perfect for any chocoholic – even a dairy free one!

These chocolate muffins are another one of those ‘I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to post it!’ recipes. I think I will forever remember asking my mum to make these one last time before I trialled giving up dairy (who knew that it would quickly become permanent!) – because I couldn’t possibly imagine never eating them again! These were the one thing I really wanted one last time because these muffins are seriously good, and seriously chocolatey. There’s no endless list of fancy flavours in these – it’s just chocolate, chocolate and, you guessed it, more chocolate!

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This recipe is for triple chocolate muffins – meaning a combination of milk, white and dark chocolate is used. The original recipe uses equal amounts of all three chocolates; I’ve increased the amount of dark chocolate, and really reduced the amount of dairy free milk chocolate. I find dairy free chocolate alternatives (particularly milk and white chocolate) can distinctly lack a chocolatey flavour – so by ramping up the amount of dark you keep the intense chocolate effect, but you keep it light and sweet enough with the addition of the white and milk chocolate. Dairy free white chocolate can be a bit hit and miss; I would encourage everyone to try different varieties from different shops to find one that tastes good and melts properly. I’m still searching for the perfect replacement but the best one I’ve found in the UK is Tesco’s own brand dairy free white chocolate buttons.

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The original recipe comes from BBC Good Food’s ‘Chocolate’ mini magazine from their April 2005 edition (that just proves how well loved this recipe is in my family – 10 years and still going strong!) and apart from substituting the butter and chocolate for dairy free alternatives, the only other change I’ve made is to use yoghurt and vinegar instead of soured cream. This is a great way to substitute soured cream in a recipe where it doesn’t matter than the consistency is a little thinner – and it works perfectly here.

When my mum used to make these it would be lucky if there was one left 20 minutes after they’d been baked. If, somehow, you’ve managed to resist scoffing them all immediately, warm them up in the microwave for 15 – 20 seconds to take them back to that perfectly freshly baked gooey mess they should be.

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Dairy Free Brownies

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Sweet, chocolatey, dangerously indulgent chocolate brownies. Simple and quick to make, they are the perfect dessert or sweet treat. Another seemingly impossible dairy free bake!

Oh brownies. Oh sweet chocolatey brownies. Sweet sweet fudge-y, gooey brownies… they’re just the perfect treat no one can resist! I can’t put into words how much I love this recipe, and keep thinking to myself how funny it is that it has taken me this long to put it on the blog! It’s a recipe I make really often (we’re talking at least twice a month!) and it’s just perfect.

These brownies make a fabulous low effort dessert (I love to drizzle a little chocolate sauce on top with a scoop of dairy free ice cream on the side), or when baked for a few minutes longer they come out as the best cold brownies you will ever have eaten. Still moist and fudge-y like a brownie should be, also like the most indulgent chocolate cake.

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I remember bringing these brownies into work once, and two amazing things happened; they disappeared like lightning, and no one could genuinely believe they were dairy free. One of my biggest fears of giving up dairy was giving up chocolate. And, probably very unsurprisingly, whenever I tell people that I’m allergic to milk, they also think this must mean a life without chocolate…. Wrong!

In come the heroes of this story…. dark chocolate and cocoa powder. Most dark chocolate is made without milk, so by adapting a recipe ever so slightly, you can still get that wonderfully creamy, sweet chocolate taste – just without the milk! Cocoa powder, the other saviour, is rather the same story – always be careful and check the label, but usually it doesn’t contain any milk. Cocoa powder is different from hot chocolate powder (which often does contain milk, and a very high amount of sugar), and being pure cocoa, a small amount goes a long way to provide a chocolate kick.

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This recipe is my go to standard – a recipe from my Boyfriend’s mum, Sue – and it’s so good, so reliable, that it would feel like cheating to even peek at another recipe. It’s also very quick, and you can make them as fussy or simple as you like. I’ve added hazelnuts and dried cranberries as these are some of my favourite things to add to a chocolate recipe (see my Rocky Road recipe to see what I mean!) but they really are perfect without them, just dusted with icing sugar.

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Chocolate Viennese Whirls

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Sweet, buttery, melt in the mouth Viennese Whirl biscuits sandwiched together with a chocolate truffle filling; these are perfect for a special occasion and would be a great alternative to cake. You’d never guess how simple these are to bake just by looking at them! 

Sometimes, I just don’t fancy cake. There, I said it! Sometimes something a little more sophisticated, a little less sweet does the trick. And just like there is a cake for every occasion, the same can be said for the humble biscuit… right the way from a rough and ready chocolate chip cookie to these splendid Viennese Whirls. They look so impressive, so time consuming, so “did you really make these at home?!“, but they are so so simple! IMG_1359 In texture, these biscuits are like an extremely short shortbread. A very buttery texture, they drift away in the mouth (because to even suggest melt would make them sound too heavy!) leaving behind a sweet buttery taste – yes, even without real butter!

These are Chocolate Viennese Whirls; unlike their familiar counterparts which are usually filled with jam and buttercream, they are less sweet, slightly more rich, and far more decadent. The chocolate filling is simply melted chocolate, then mixed with butter and caster sugar. I was surprised at the addition of caster sugar, but the texture of it really works and compliments the smooth biscuits with the smallest amount of pleasant crunch. And if you have some filling left over, you can roll it into balls and coat in cocoa powder for a quick and easy chocolate truffle! IMG_1370 I found this recipe a long long time ago in You magazine, and had it hoarded away in a pile marked ‘to try’. I’m so glad I did. The recipe was perfect and the only tweak I made was to the cooking time – I found mine needed a little longer in the oven to completely dry out, which is important as this is what gives them their lighter than light texture. IMG_1381 The trick to the shape of these fancy biscuits is a piping bag and nozzle. This might make you shy away in horror – but trust me, this is not a recipe where you need to have piping skills! The nozzle does all the work for you; pipe any shape you want and with a slightly damp finger, smooth over any edges you want to hide. If this really does fill you with fear, pipe some practice shapes onto a plate until you’re happy, then scoop the dough back into the piping bag to make your final biscuits.

If you don’t want to go as far as making the filling you can simply melt the chocolate and dip the biscuits in, as I did with some of mine – or, even easier, use a dairy free chocolate spread thickened with a little cocoa powder or icing sugar to sandwich them together! IMG_1393 Continue reading

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