Monday, 23 February 2009

Pear and Chocolate Clafoutis

Dinner for six last night, so a good chance to try out a new pudding recipe. I went for the very first one in Green and Black's, clafoutis with chocolate and pears in red wine. I omitted the wine and the jelly. Gelatine didn't seem a terribly appropriate ingredient for a sitting of mostly vegetarians.


This is what I did:
  • Peeled 6 ripe Williams pears (important to leave stalk on to they can be easily lifted in and out of pan) and poached them for 10 mins in 25cl sherry and 50cl water with the juice and rind of 1 lemon and 4oz granulated sugar.
  • Left pears in cooling liquid to marinade for about 4 hours.
  • Halved pears, removing cores and stalks.
  • Melted 100g 85% chocolate in a pan with 3oz butter.
  • Sifted 4oz flour (2oz wholemeal, 2oz white spelt) into a bowl with a pinch of salt (I used pink Himalayan), a heaped tsp of baking powder an 3 1/2 oz (100g) of ground almonds.
  • Whisked 2 duck eggs into 6fl oz milk and combined this with flour and chocolate mixtures.
  • Divided mixture into 2 buttered Pyrex soufflé dishes and placed the pear halves on top with thinner ends facing inwards around the dish.
  • Baked in centre of oven for 15 mins at 200°C. It's just right if still gooey in the middle - which it was.
  • Served with sauce, made by reducing the poaching liquid and clotted cream (local and organic of course).
According to the book, this served 8 people - the 6 of us managed to polish it off quite easily. However, fiddling around with the pears is veering a little too much towards the fussy side for me, so although the results were good, not sure I shall be in a hurry to make it again.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Chocolate Polenta Cake

This is a fantastically rich cake that I have made many times before - it's easy, tastes great and has never yet let me down.
  • Preheat oven to 180°C (gas 4)
  • Melt 100g dark chocolate (70% or even 85%) with 150g unsalted butter and 150g muscovado sugar in a pan on very low heat.
  • Sieve 30g cocoa powder into a mixing bowl and add 75g fine polenta and 75g ground almonds.
  • Make a well in the centre and add melted chocolate mixture (this is generally how I do most of my cakes as I find creaming rock hard butter a real pain and baking is something I usually do quite spontaneously so am rarely organised enough to get it out of the fridge and into a warm place well in advance).
  • Mix in together with 2 eggs yolks and 1 tbsp Marsala (or brandy)
  • Whisk 2 egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture.
  • Bake in a 20cm prepared round cake tin for 30 mins or until firm to the touch.
  • Cool on a wire rack.
  • Sprinkle with a little sieved icing sugar and serve with raspberries
Mmmm - delicious!

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Cake

I'm not generally a fan of chocolate chip cakes, but this one, from the Green and Black's recipe book, sounded interesting with its crunchy cinnamon topping so I thought I'd give it a go.

Of course I didn't follow the recipe exactly - I rarely do.  This is what I did.
  • Melted 4oz unsalted butter in a pan with 8oz granulated sugar.
  • Meanwhile sifted 1 tbsp gluten free baking powder with 1lb of mixed plain flours (wholemeal spelt, Cotehele wholemeal, white spelt and gluten free flour (I generally like to cook with wholemeal spelt, but have found that mixing in other flours makes for a lighter mix).
  • Added 1 bar of chopped 70% dark chocolate (I used Divine this time, but most often use Green and Blacks).
  • Made a well in the centre and poured in butter mixture.
  • Mixed this in with 2 duck eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract and about 1/2 pt natural yogurt.
  • Spooned this into 23cm round silicone cake baker thingy - silicone cake bakers have transformed my baking experience.  I used to be so put off by having to cut bits of paper and try and get them to stick to the sides of the tin - definitely too much faffing around.  Now I don't even have to think about all that pre-preparation stuff.
  • Topped cake with 4 tbsp demerara sugar mixed with 1 roughly ground cinnamon stick.
  • Poured over 3oz melted unsalted butter
  • Baked in a preheated oven at 180°C (gas 4) for about 40 mins (cakes always seem to burn in my electric oven if I leave them in as long as the recipe says - so you may need more time).  

The house smelt wonderful for a long time after making this.  The crunchy topping is a real winner for cinnamon lovers and I shall definitely be making this one again.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Cut the Chocolate Log

Like many people, I have to confess to a decided penchant for chocolate. It started off many years ago when, as a child, I would save up my pocket money until I had enough to buy a bar of "Old Jamaica". It's ended up with something a little more sophisticated - preferably organic and with a much higher cocoa content.

However, much as I love eating chocolate, this blog is really about cooking with chocolate. I have a rather large collection of chocolate recipes, but find that I tend to stick to a few tried and tested ones. Time to branch out I'm thinking. I'm also hoping that "going public" will give me the incentive to bake more often than I actually do.

Although I've used "chocolate log" in the title of this blog, I have very rarely made one. My aim in cooking is certainly to make delicious food, but to do it in the simplest and least fussy way - drizzles of raspberry coulis is just not my style, nor is too much faffing about! In my experience, chocolate logs are a little too much on the fussy side - also I don't have an appropriate tin.

In my experience, cooking with good quality and preferably organic ingredients is the key to making good food. I very rarely follow a recipe exactly and although I do have the odd mishap, I've never had to throw anything away. So, as long as you are prepared for something that doesn't generally turn out to look much like the glossy pictures in books and magazines, but tastes pretty damn good (hopefully), read on.

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