Sunday, 28 February 2010

Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding


I seem to be getting further and further behind in my posts. I wrote this one last week!

Although the day is bright, the sky is blue and spring can't be far away, we woke to a white snow filled world again this morning and it is feeling distinctly wintery. Unless we have friends over, puddings are a rare event in our house (cakes don't count) but after toiling away sorting out a huge backlog of papers and then getting chilled when venturing out to do the shopping, comfort food was what we needed! Amazingly, I have only made this pudding once before and that must have been at least a decade ago. I remember it as being fairly successful, so not sure why I've failed to repeat the experience until now. The recipe comes from The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook a book I picked up in a remaindered bookshop many years ago. Unlike others I've picked up on a similar whim, I do actually use this one, however occasionally! As there were only two of us I didn't use the full quantities given, but as I couldn't do an exact split, the ratios ended up being rather different to the original recipe. I also fancied spicing it up a bit with cinnamon. This is what I did:
  • Melted 2oz unsalted butter.
  • Beat 2 duck eggs into 4 fl oz milk.
  • Sifted 4oz wholemeal flour, 1 level tsp baking powder, 1 tbsp cocoa and 1 tsp ground cinnamon into a bowl.
  • Stirred in 4oz granulated sugar.
  • Made a well in the centre and poured in the egg mixture followed by the melted butter and mixed it all together.
  • Poured this into a greased pyrex soufflé dish.
  • Broke up 100g bar of dark chocolate 85% and placed in pan with 8 fl oz milk and 3 fl oz water.
  • Stirred over low heat until melted and smooth.
  • Poured over sponge mixture and baked for 30 mins at 180C (gas 4).
  • and baked in a preheated oven at 180C for 30 mins.
  • Dusted with a tsp of icing sugar before serving.
This saucy pudding was as good as I remembered it and certainly did its job well in providing comfort. Despite the large quantity of liquid, the sponge soaked up the majority of the sauce, leaving a light but moist sponge with deliciously gooey patches welling up through it. The dark chocolate sauce, having no extra sweetner, made for a rich but not overly sweet pudding - the way I like them. We had ours with delicious local organic creme fraiche.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Delivered from Deepest Dorset, it's Crunch Time in Cornwall


Having just received a couple of boxes of chocolate granola from Dorset Cereals, I thought I ought to blog about it. The timing is particularly apt as the chocolate in the granola is fairtrade and it just so happens it is Fairtrade Fortnight (22 Feb - 7 March).

I'm not normally a great fan of breakfast cereals, finding them too dry, too sweet or just generally unpalatable - to me breakfast cereal means porridge - in the winter at least. However, the packets looked rather tempting so CT and I sat down to breakfast with an unusual degree of anticipation. Chocolate for breakfast was a novel concept for us, but a welcome one. We were not disappointed.

The texture was good, not so hard that you felt a trip to the dentist might be needed, but sufficiently firm so as not to turn to a sludge at the bottom of the bowl. For our taste, this was just a little too sweet, but nevertheless it had a good rich chocolate flavour, which is just as well considering the chocolate they use is 70% cocoa. The taste of coconut came through quite strongly on the plain chocolate granola which we liked, but our favourite was the one with added macadamias - mostly because we love macadamias. If I was going to eat anything other than porridge or muesli with yogurt, then I would be more than happy with either of these latest chocolate offerings from Dorset Cereals.

PS Makes a great instant pudding - just add milk and if you're feeling really naughty, some cream.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Very Nutty Chocolate Orange Cake


What, I have been wondering this week, would go well with the black bottom cupcake frosting that I didn't use last week. Whilst perusing Linda Collister's Divine, I found a recipe that would be just the thing: a nut cake. I would be making it on Valentine's Day after all and CT is particularly fond of nuts. So, for the last few days I have been imagining the house filled with the scent of roasting hazelnuts. So picture my disappointment when I came to make it - I had forgotten to buy any hazelnuts - bah! Luckily, I had some cashews in stock so I substituted those instead - not quite such a wonderful aroma, but beggars can't be choosers. Not being too fond of coffee, I decided to replace it with orange as the flavouring. I also used a different preparation method to the one in the book. In short, the recipe was an inspiration rather than an exact copy. The cake was not meant to be iced either, but well, that was the point after all.

This is what I did:
  • Roasted 100g cashew nuts in the oven at 160C (gas 3) for just over 5 mins until golden and left to cool.
  • Melted 100g spicy orange chocolate (I used co-op's fairtrade version) with 125g unsalted butter. Stirred and left to cool slightly.
  • Whisked 2 duck eggs (hoorah they're back) with 125g soft brown sugar until thick and creamy.
  • Sifted in 50g wholemeal spelt and 1/2 tsp baking powder and folded in.
  • Ground cashew nuts and added these in.
  • Finely chopped (but not ground) 100g walnuts and added these.
  • Added 1 tbsp water and chocolate mixture and stirred to combine.
  • Spooned into a 22cm round cake thingie and baked at 160C (gas 3) for 35 mins.
  • Creamed 100g icing sugar with 50g unsalted butter until well incorporated.
  • Mixed in 125g ricotta cheese.
  • Spread on top of the cake and then dusted lightly with cocoa powder.
I was so right, the chocolatey crunchy nut cake and the cream cheese icing was a great combination. In fact, I was really pleased with this creation. Using cashew nuts worked absolutely fine. I now have a good excuse for making this again to see if it is even better (is this possible?) with hazelnuts. The cake was cooked to perfection - not something I always achieve - evenly cooked but beautifully moist. It also tasted quite delicious. CT was duly impressed. Five days on, the cake tasted even better - it certainly keeps well.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Guest Post: Banana and Chocolate Brownie Cake


Rebecca over at Chow & Chatter has very kindly shared one of her delicious recipes for one of America's most recent innovations in the brownie world - the brownie cake - well it's a new one on me anyway! Here's her version, a banana and chocolate brownie cake. Now who wouldn't want to get stuck into a slice of this? I haven't made it yet, but I most certainly will.

It is with great pleasure to provide a recipe for Choclettes lovely blog, she asked for something healthy but I say everything in moderation, this is a wonderfully simple and moist brownie cake one you will make time after time!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Chocolate Pancakes - Venezuelan Black meets Cornish White


It's Pancake Day, also known as Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras, which is just a fancy way of saying Fat Tuesday. What could be more fattening than pancakes, especially those filled with chocolate and clotted cream?

I have a block of Willie's Venezuelan Black 100% cocoa which has been lurking in the cupboard for some time now. I say lurking, because I've been feeling rather shame faced about my uncertainty as to what to do with it. However, on the train home this evening I had a bright idea - pancakes! Grating some of Willie's cocoa into and on top of the pancakes would add a twist to the traditional lemon and sugar. When I got home, CT reminded me that we had some clotted cream in the fridge - ooohhh.

So, CT made the pancakes and I grated on some cocoa, sprinkled on a wee bit of Demerara sugar and a squeeze of lemon then spooned on a healthy dollop of organic Cornish Clotted Cream. Rolled them up, grated on a bit more cocoa and then wolfed them down.

This was a heavenly match of bitter black and creamy white. I hadn't had Willie's cocoa before and boy was it powerful. It says 100% on the packet and I believe it. A little goes a very long way, which is just as well as this is a gourmet product with a price to match.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Chocolate Log Blog - One Year On


Well, it’s hard to imagine, but this l’l ol' blog is one year old today.
Re-reading my first post and reviewing what I was trying to achieve, made me realise how much I have actually done in the year.

I’ve made some friends and discovered some great blogs along the way. I’ve had a recipe published, reviewed a book, sold a cake and hopefully put a smile on a few people's faces. I've managed to try out a whole heap of recipes I've not made before as well as come up with a few of my own. Despite my protestations to the contrary, I've even made a chocolate log. I set to, bought a tin and just got on with it and it turned out to be not nearly as faffy as I thought it would be. I've experimented with new ingredients as well as different flavours. I've made far more chocolate cake than I would have thought possible a year ago and spent far too much time looking at blogs - good and bad.

Challenges? Plenty of those: how to make something that might taste good but looks a little - hmm - shall we say "sad" into a photogenic edible delight; just trying to get a quarter decent photograph in bad light; turning up without a cake on someone's birthday and not feeling guilty; trying not to be too disappointed when things didn't work out as I'd hoped; thinking creatively of what to cook next; unrealistically raising CT's expectations of cake every day.


What has truly amazed me though, is just how many chocolate goodies there are out there and how many more I have to make. And am I bored of chocolate yet? Let me answer like this: I think this blog could be going for some time to come.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

All is Not Lost in Lostwithiel - Photomontage

No indeed, this small town packs in plenty of delights. Lostwithiel is the ancient capital of Cornwall - one of many! Cornwall is not part of England, just ask the Cornish. It's the home of King Arthur, tin mines, pasties, but most importantly clotted cream. A dear friend, now deceased who swam in the seas nearby well into her eighties claimed that the Phoenicians brought clotted cream with them when they came trading for tin several thousand years ago. We came not in search of tin, but of cream teas!
Lostwithiel, a river runs though it, the Fowey, named after the Cornish word for the beech trees that hug its banks. In fact, in the middle ages this was one of the biggest ports on the South Coast of Britain. Since then the river has silted up with all the tin mining going on upstream in previous centuries. It was after all a stannary town - an administrative centre for the collection of Crown taxes on tin exports. Now the only boats you see are canoes and rowing boats. Although a few miles downsteam at Fowey, once home of Daphne du Maurier, large tankers still regularly call in to collect the local china clay.
Restormel Castle up on the hill was used by the dukes of Cornwall to stamp their authority on the region and protect their assets. It took a bit of a battering in the English Civil War. From the castle it's possible to walk through to the Lanhydrock Estate where you can see what they did with the money made from their exploits. There is much more to tell about Lostwithiel including some intriguing connections with the United States.

But enough history - let's eat!
Where better than Muffins, Lostwithiel's very own award winning teashop. Not that we are going to be eating muffins of course, this is a cream tea expedition.
A Cornish Cream Tea is not to be confused with a Devonshire cream tea or any other cream tea to be found in England. The jam is applied to the cut scone first - the order in which this is done is very important. This is then topped with a magnificent dollop of delightful clotted cream. For those who have not yet tried this manna from heaven, it is produced by scalding rich milk from our lush pastures and then skimming the cream off the top. The scones at Muffins are particularly good - better than many of the overblown monsters sold in less deserving establishments. Actually, the scone is a bit of a Johnny come lately. Traditionally, a cream tea was served on a Cornish split - a yeasted roll.
If you are looking for something a little more exotic, you could pop up to Bellamama, a small but perfectly formed deli just up the road. Here you can get such delights as black garlic, chocolate cake, hand made pizzas and local cheeses such as Yarg, a speciality cheese wrapped in nettles - it's delicious, honest!

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

All is Not Lost in Lostwithiel

I've just had my first guest post published over at Chow & Chatter - thanks to Rebecca for this. It's about cream teas in the pretty Cornish town of Lostwithiel. Unfortunately, there seems to be some problems with the pictures displaying, but hopefully this will soon be sorted!

Doesn't look like the photo problem is going to be resolved, so I've decided to post them all here with accompanying text for those that are interested - they say a picture (even mine?) is worth a thousand words.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Black Bottomed Cupcakes


Black bottomed cupcakes seem to have been much talked about recently, but as I wasn't exactly sure what they were I managed to remain unruffled. However, having seen this Hummingbird Bakery recipe recently in an old magazine, I had to make it for sure. Chocolate cake marbled (sort of) with cream cheese and lumps of milk chocolate - what an inspired mix! I hunted down the recipe online and set to.

This is what I did:
  • Whisked together 190g flour (a mixture of wholemeal & white spelt & buckwheat), 120g vanilla infused granulated sugar, 40g cocoa, 1/2 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt.
  • Made a well in the centre and poured in 40ml sunflower oil, 1.5 tsp of cider vinegar and 200g water (was meant to be 125g, but this was way too dry).
  • Mixed this thoroughly and spooned mixture into 12 cupcake cases.
  • In another bowl, mixed 140g cream cheese (I used ricotta), with 40g caster sugar (recipe stated 60g), an egg and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.
  • Cut 100g bar of green & black's milk chocolate into 1/2 squares and mixed into cheese.
  • Spooned this on top of the chocolate mixture.
  • Baked in a preheated oven at 170C (gas 3) for 20 mins until well risen and cheese mixture was slightly golden.
I tried really hard to follow the recipe, but as regular readers will know, I find this difficult and usually end up changing something. This time, the only adjustment I intended to make was to reduce the amount of sugar in the cheese filling and to use vanilla sugar instead of extract in the chocolate cake. However, things did not go according to plan. The quantities were a little odd and didn't really work. The chocolate cake mixture ended up being a rather stiff paste rather than the dropping consistency I was expecting. I just added a lot more water and it seemed to work fine. This was the first time I've used the whisking method with dry ingredients and I don't think I will be repeating it. It took me ages to get all the lumps out - sieving is much faster. Although I made the recommended cheese topping, I felt it would spoil the effect and it didn't really need it anyway. So I've put that in the fridge to be used another time.

I was certainly very pleased with the results. I loved the look of these cupcakes, quite spectacular I thought - all black and white with bits of chocolate erupting out of them. They tasted really good too - a very light sponge, not overly sweet, with soft cheesecake lava surrounding the more resilient sweet chocolate pieces. CT thinks this is a geology lesson in a cupcake and suggests they should be renamed as Magma Cakes. The sponge is vegan friendly - the rest, you may have noticed, isn't! A real winner this one - a future tea party special I think. I shall most certainly be making these again.

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