Tag Archives: chocolate

Pistachio, Almond and Chocolate Éclairs

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Indulgent éclairs, filled with a pistachio and almond crème pâtissière and topped with a sweet chocolate icing. Not as impossible as they seem, these éclairs would make the perfect special treat.

Whoops. You know that feeling when you think, ‘when was the last time I….‘… well that’s rather how I’ve been feeling about blogging recently! Life has been more than a little hectic, and the end of 2016 seemed to flash by like big and exciting blur. Whilst the rest of the world seems to be (understandably) lamenting the going ons in 2016, I actually had a great year. I took a big leap forwards in life and now when I introduce myself to people, I can say I am a full time baker! So, with a wedding to plan and a new business to grow, the end of 2016 flew by.

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I’m back with a triumphant recipe with these delightfully indulgent éclairs. I don’t know if there is anything as pleasing as making something that belongs in a French Pâtisserie (in taste, not in looks – these definitely don’t have quite the finesse of professional pastry makers) at home. It’s something to do with debunking the myth that they’re impossible to make and only a demigod can succeed! I talked before in my recipe for Profiteroles that Choux pastry is not nearly as complicated as it seems, and then we’re just making a simple Crème Pâttissière (or thickened custard if we want to be less fancy about it!) to fill it.

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Now, I wouldn’t be me if I just made normal chocolate and vanilla éclairs, would I? So, of course, these come pumped with extra flavour from pistachios and almonds in the crème pâttisière. I’ve really grown to love pistachios in the last few years, and they work beautifully together with the chocolate topping and sweet almond flavoured cream. To get the hit of pistachio flavour, this recipe calls for you to make a pistachio paste. It really is quite simple to do, just a bit of a faff. The paste should be a vibrant, inviting green colour. But to get this, you need to rub the skins off the pistachios before roasting. As we don’t need much paste it doesn’t take too much time – but this is your warning! If you decide to skip this step (which you can!) just be prepared for your paste to come out more brown than green…

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As with all filled choux pastry recipes, these are best eaten as soon as possible after filling. If you don’t want to eat them all in one go (then you deserve a medal!) cooked choux pastry buns freeze well. Just defrost at room temperature, and pop back in a hot oven for a few minutes to get crisp again before filling.

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Filed under Chocolate, dessert, Pastry, Uncategorized

Dairy Free Digestive Biscuits

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Delicious dairy free imitations of the British classic – the chocolate digestive biscuit! Crumbly, sweet biscuit, generously topped with chocolate makes it the perfect dunker in a  cup of tea.

I will admit that although I generally don’t struggle with being dairy free anymore, I do miss the ease of being able to pick up a packet of something in a shop, and devouring it without giving consideration to the ingredients. I have several things I really miss like this, with Twixs topping the list, and milk chocolate digestives following in a close second. I ate an unreasonable amount of digestives whilst at uni…. they used to be my treat for studying (1 biscuit every time I turned the page… it was an excellent encouragement!).

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I can’t swear that these are an exact replica of the elusive chocolate digestive, but what I can promise is that these are a delicious substitute. Unfortunately, they do require you spend some time baking them as even McVities dark chocolate digestives contain milk (McVities, if you’re reading this – we would all appreciate if that changed!!), but they are worth the effort if you’re looking for a great, dunk-able, chocolate biscuit recipe.

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The other great thing about making these yourself is that you can control the sugar in them. This is not about a health kick! Simply making the biscuits fit to different tastes… although I’m a great lover of dark chocolate, and (despite starting up a baking business!) don’t have a huge sweet-tooth myself, I do acknowledge that some people do. So, if this sounds like you, don’t be afraid to add another 15g of sugar.

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Top these however you like; personally, I loved them plain, just topped with dark chocolate. However, go as fussy as you like! I also topped some with finely chopped hazelnuts, but you could try dried fruit, other nuts, or a mix of different types of dairy free chocolate if you preferred.

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Filed under Biscuits & Cookies, Chocolate

Black Forest Naked Cake

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A decadent, rich, and indulgent naked cake. Featuring all the best loved flavours of the old school Black Forest gateau, this cake is ideal for a crowd on a special occasion.

There are many things I love about this blog, but giving me life direction surely has to be one of them! I started this blog when I really wasn’t enjoying adult life, and slowly it has helped me piece together what I want to do. Bravely, in about 6 months time, I will become a full time baker, specialising in allergy friendly bakes. I’m so excited about this, but also slightly nervous – cue getting in as much practice as possible of big, grand cakes!

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To celebrate a weekend bash at ours with some of our closest friends, and to use the best of the seasonal flavours (hello, fresh cherries!!), this cake came to life. My fiancee loves all things chocolate, so Black Forest flavours seemed perfect to combine the best of both.

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Black Forest gateau, for those of you not in the know, is a traditional German dessert made with light chocolate sponges, doused in the cherry liqueur Kirsch, filled and topped with whipped cream and black cherries. It is both rich and light at the same time, and these days slightly reminiscent of the 80’s!

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This cake takes all the best flavours of the gateau, and brings it into 2016 in the form of a naked cake. Between the three layers of chocolate sponge is a rich buttercream, dusted with cocoa, and then topped with a sour Morello cherry jam. The top of the cake is piled high with woodland fruits, before having a cherry compote and chocolate sauce drizzled over it.

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Although this cake would be perfect with a coffee at tea time, it screams to be eaten as a dessert. This cake is wonderfully rich and filling, so add a side of more fresh cherries and berries for contrast.

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Oreo Cupcakes

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Rich chocolate cupcakes topped with vanilla buttercream, stuffed with Oreo cookies throughout. From a hidden cookie at the bottom of the cake, right through to crushed Oreos in the buttercream, it seems that the only thing to make a chocolate cake even better is a cookie!

Yes… I’ve jumped on the bandwagon and continued this trend. I was too intrigued not to try! What’s not to like about the idea of combining cookies and cake?!

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I still remember when I found out Oreos were dairy free. It was like the light at the end of the tunnel smacked me in the face! Because not only did it mean I could actually eat Oreos… but I also started checking other biscuit types to see what they were made of. And lo and behold, quite a lot of surprising biscuits are dairy free! Take the classic, chocolate bourbon biscuit. Most of them are dairy free! So if you ever want to butter me up (not literally of course), a sneaky dairy free Oreo or bourbon biscuit is the way to do it.

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However, getting back to the point of these cakes – I really was intrigued by the idea of combining biscuits and cakes. Like a good mash-up song, it seemed like something that should really work, and great news – it did! The cakes are typically moreish, and with a soft, vanilla flavoured buttercream, it would have been hard to go wrong. But then add in a crunchy, surprise oreo hidden at the bottom of the cupcake. And add some crushed oreos to the cake and buttercream for little, crispy nuggets of flavour and you are on to an absolute winner!

 

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I can by no means claim to be the genius who first came up with this idea… however, it has left me with a lot of thoughts of what else could we make a hybrid out of…. watch this space!

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Filed under Biscuits & Cookies, cakes, Chocolate, cupcakes

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

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A surprise success, you wouldn’t know these chocolate cupcakes have no eggs or dairy in them! If you need a reliable vegan chocolate cupcake recipe, look no further.

I’ll be honest – I was very sceptical of these. How can you have a cake with no eggs? Eggs are an absolute staple in baking, they underpin the structure of everything (deep, I know!) and you’re often taught not to play around with egg quantities and temperatures in concern of a recipe failing. So how on earth can you have a cake without eggs?

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Well, it turns out you can quite easily and without any funky, hard-to-track-down ingredients. I can’t really explain how the below ingredients make up for the lack of eggs, but they do and these cakes still come out delicious, light and fluffy. It’s magic!

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If you, like me, are new to the world of vegan cakes, I will warn you about two things. 1 Vegan cake batter is wetter than a usual cake batter. Don’t be afraid and think you’ve done something wrong! 2 Because of this, you need to make sure the cupcakes are properly baked. Something I would rarely advise, but err on the side of caution and bake them for another minute if you’re not sure if they are ready. As delightful as they are when they are fully baked, when under-baked they can get a little bit pasty. Imagine the texture of a very under-baked cookie… you know how it can have a bit of a mushy texture, and it hangs around in your mouth a little too long? That’s what can happen to these. So – you have been warned. Now… BAKE!

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Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream

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A smooth, sweet and rich chocolate ice cream, designed to kill those Ben and Jerry’s cravings. With hazelnut chunks throughout, and a simple make at home recipe, you’ll be wondering why you’ve not tried to make your own ice cream before!

Last summer I was lucky enough to be asked to hold on to my Mum’s ice cream machine whilst she packed up her house, preparing to go and teach abroad for a while. I could not have been more excited! Homemade ice cream is just the best; if you’ve never tried it, the best way I could explain it is like this – imagine unlimited flavour options, in a sweet, thick, creamy gelato style ice cream.

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Then, really soon after came the Bake Off episode all about ‘free from’ baking. I was so excited! They were making a dairy free Artic Roll, and I began thinking of all of the different flavour combinations they could do… and to be honest, I felt slightly disappointed that almost all of them used coconut milk, and one of the biggest ‘challenges’ they had was trying to cover up the coconut flavour!

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In this ice cream, we’re using hazelnut milk to full effect; it perfectly compliments the rich chocolate, and we’re adding some chopped hazelnuts for crunch. The end result is perfect – as smooth and creamy as a real Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and as rich, chocolatey and sweet too. We cheat slightly by strictly making a frozen custard; full dairy ice cream is made by adding whipped cream to a custard, but in the interest of getting a thick, rich, and smooth ice cream at the end, we’re simply going to just churn it as it is.

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The ice cream can be made either with or without an ice cream machine. I would definitely advise you all to go out and buy a cheap (£20!) machine, where you freeze the container, then pour in the custard, and turn on the motor. However, if I can’t convince you to do that, then you can make this the old fashioned way, stirring the ice cream vigorously every hour for 3 hours as it freezes up. The results are still good, but you will get more ice crystals then you would in a machine.

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Now I’m just waiting for summer; think strawberry and honeycomb, or eton mess ice cream…At least summers not too far away now!

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Filed under dessert, Frozen Treats, Gluten Free

Steamed Chocolate Pudding

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A delicious, retro classic. Perfect for feeding a crowd after a meal, this chocolate sponge pudding is sure to delight with it’s rich, chocolate flavour. Serve with hazelnut custard or ice cream.

I often find myself day dreaming about food. I used to think everyone did this (but apparently not?!), and it was during a particularly chocolate filled thought that this recipe came to mind. When I was a child, Cadbury’s steamed chocolate pudding used to be a real treat. Not because they were anything special, but it felt like a treat as they were one of the few puddings we ate that were not homemade.

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Sadly, but expectedly, Cadbury’s steamed chocolate puddings contain rather a lot of dairy goodness, and so it has been a really, really long time since I’ve had one. But I knew that steamed sponge puddings were not meant to be that hard to make… so I thought I really should give it a go. I’m so glad I did; not only was the recipe an absolute triumph, it also inspired the Hazelnut Custard recipe which I posted two weeks ago, which has become a real favourite in our house.

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The hardest thing about this pudding, honestly, was tying up the handle on the pudding basin. If you haven’t got a pudding basin, you can use any heat proof dish – the reason it’s good to use a basin is they have a lip round the top, which is ideal for tying the string round it. My handle turned into some engineered feat of brilliance (read: a lot of unnecessary knots caused by string cut too short!) but worked none the less, and made getting the pudding out of the pot a lot easier!

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If you can handle making the handle, you’re sorted. This is a mix it and go recipe, where all the ingredients get put into a bowl and whizzed together. It would be perfect to make for pudding after a roast or other big family meal. It has universal appeal (who doesn’t love a bit of chocolate?!) and can calmly cook away as you get on with other things.

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And for such a simple recipe, the results are tremendous. Rich and dense chocolate sponge, with a decadent and thick chocolate sauce dripping over the top – an ever so slightly more grown up version of the Cadbury’s favourite. The pudding is perfect served with this hazelnut custard, but would work just as well with ice cream. Along with the custard, this is sure to be a repeated recipe in our house!

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Chocolate Pear Pudding

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The perfect dessert when you’re in a rush or need to feed a crowd. Relying on store cupboard ingredients and a bit of oven magic, this dessert needs less than 10 minutes of your time. All you have to do is open a tin and stir…

This is a very nostalgic dessert for me. Perhaps one of the first recipes my mum ever made from Nigella Lawson’s ‘Nigella Express’ recipe book, it is one we still come back to regularly. The beauty of it is simple; a warm, self saucing chocolate sponge pudding with hot, gentle tinned pears spread throughout that requires under 10 minutes of your time. You probably have most of the ingredients in your house already – perhaps just missing the tinned pears – so do like me and start keeping a few tins handy!

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Even more than its delicious simplicity, the recipe is an absolute doddle. In true Nigella style it is a throw-it-all-in-a-bowl-and-mix-it kind of recipe. And, actually, if you have a food processor, the mixing work is done for you.

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The key to getting this dessert spot on every time in my book is to undercook it vs the original Nigella recipe. I only cook mine for 20 minutes, and this ensures that I’m left with delicious hot batter all around the pears, making this a wonderful dessert of contrasts. I get a light and fluffy sponge with some crispy outer bits, piping hot juicy pears, and around it a sauce like batter with an intense chocolate flavour. It also makes the recipe incredibly forgiving to a little bit of over or under baking!

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If I’m in the mood, I’ll sometimes go one further and actually make chocolate sauce to drizzle on top for an even more indulgent pudding. A little scoop of ice cream never goes amiss either…

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Chocolate & Amaretti Cake. Dairy, Wheat & Gluten Free!

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A dense chocolate cake, filled with amaretti biscuits and lots and lots of chocolate! This is a perfect dessert cake for a special occasion; rich, decadent, and chocolatey in every mouthful!

This dessert was stumbled upon by accident, and I’m so glad I did! In search of something to give a chocolate fix, I came across this recipe on the Food Network. Full of ground almonds, amaretti biscuits and orange zest it just sounded too good not to try. I’m now a real convert to using chocolate and almond as a combination ever since these delicious Raspberry & Amaretti Brownies, and it never disappoints.

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Not only do the ground almonds and amaretti biscuits provide a lot of flavour, they also replace any flour you would normally need in a cake. That means not only is this cake dairy free, it is also gluten and wheat free too! You really wouldn’t know it though – the cake slices beautifully and has a dense cake-like texture.

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Now although this is a cake, and you could, of course, eat it at tea time – I think this cake really deserves to be eaten as a dessert. As rich and decadent as it is, it just cries out for a light drizzle of chocolate sauce on top, and is delightful with a small scoop of ice cream. It’s not heavy as such, but a small slice will go a long way after a big meal!

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I’m making this cake to take to my brother’s house for Christmas as the chocolate dessert – so one of the absolute best things about it is that it genuinely tastes better a day or two after baking. The amaretti flavour seemed to come out a lot more, and you could taste more of the orange zest. I’m a firm believer that everyone needs a repertoire of recipes from the quick and instant to the make in advance; and this recipe would fit that second category perfectly.

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As a side note, if you’re making this for an adults only group, I would highly recommend adding a small amount of Disaronno. The amaretti-flavoured liqueur gives a slight alcoholic heat to the chocolate sauce, and really helps the almond flavours stand out. Trust me – once you’ve tried this sauce, you’ll start to think of the many other things it would go with….

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Filed under cakes, Chocolate, dessert, Gluten Free

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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