Wednesday, 31 August 2011

We Should Cocoa - The Rose Round-up

Well I had a feeling some of you were going to find this month's challenge, err, challenging and it seems I was not far wrong. It took ages for the entries to start rolling in and at one point I was wondering if there would be anything to round-up at all! However, you were not going to let such a thorny thing defeat you and in the end 23 "rose" (pun fully intended) to this month's challenge. The usual inventiveness that never ceases to amaze me has surfaced again and full use was made of rosewater, rose petals, rosehips and modeled roses. I'd like to say an extra special thank you to all those who persevered with what was a challenge in the true sense of the word. As you may have gathered, I have a weakness for all things rose and I'm now wondering how I'm going to make all of these rosy delights - because I certainly want to eat them.

So with this 12th challenge round-up, we've come to the end of our first year of We Should Cocoa. Don't forget to take a look at the Chocolate Teapot on 1 September to find out what we will be kicking off the next We Should Cocoa year with.

Helen of Fuss Free Flavours kicked us off to a fine start with her White Chocolate and Rose Loaf Cake. This is rather like a rose version of the classic lemon drizzle cake but sounds even better. I now really want some of the raspberry and rose cordial that she used, raspberries and rose are such a delicious combination.

Chocolate Profiteroles with Rose Cream were next up. This was the first time Selina of Yummy Choo Eats had made profiteroles - well I can't think of a better flavour to start with and being a rose fan herself, neither could she.

If you want to know how to make white chocolate fondant roses, look no further than to Susan of A Little Bit of Heaven on a Plate. She made Venessa Kembell's Victoria Sponge Cake with Cardamom, Rose Cream and Rhubarb - sounds like a big bit of heaven on a plate to me.

Struggling with which of her many ideas to use for this month's challenge and losing much sleep in the process, Kate of Kate's Cakes and Bakes finally decided on Rose, Pistachio and Apricot Tiffin.

After some experimentation with rose sugar and not being satisfied, Suelle of Mainly Baking came up with these very pretty Rose and Pistachio Blondies using cocoa nibs to give the additional texture and colour.

Thankfully Karen of Lavender and Lovage relished this challenge. A regular user of roses in her cooking she had no trouble magicking up these dainty Chocolate Rose Fairy Cakes - note: NOT cupcakes.

I'd never heard of Baumtorte before, but according to Hannah of Corner Cottage Bakery, it is not only calming and therapeutic to make, but is one of her absolute favourites. She certainly wowed me with her patience in making this Chocolate and Rose Baumtorte.

Pastry cases made out of desiccated coconut and egg whites was another new one on me and it's one I'm very keen to try out. Phil of As Strong As Soup made these really interesting and attractive Rosewater, Rice and Chocolate Tarts.

Really, people's decorative skills never cease to amaze me. Hungry Hinny is yet another one who can model perfect chocolate fondant roses. Not only this, but she made raspberry rose jam to fill her stunning White Chocolate Raspberry Rose Cake - now what was that I was saying about raspberry and rose?

An unhappy little teapot thankfully turned into a happy one when inspiration finally struck and Chele of Chocolate Teapot made this Rose Scented Indulgent Chocolate Cake for a friend's birthday - very much liking the sound of indulgent!

So many celebrations this month. For The KitchenMaid it was a friend's wedding and the lucky recipients got to sample her Giant Rosewater and Chocolate Meringues.

These pretty Rosewater and Polenta Mini Bundt Cakes was the entry from Snowy of Cookbooks Galore. I'd never have thought to pair polenta with rose water and now I'm intrigued to try it.

Dom of Belleau Kitchen was giving tantalising hints about his Fennel and Rose Chocolate Brownies long before he posted them. The reality had me swooning of course. And the fact that the Belleau Kitchen didn't exist when he made them makes them even more remarkable.

Making use of the chocolate coconut spread she had recently acquired, Working London Mummy got very inventive with her Chocolate Stuffed Cupcakes with a Rose Frosting.

Frugaldom in true frugal style used her own rosehips and some knock down price chocolate santas to make these tempting looking rosehip truffles.

Janice of FarmersGirl Kitchen went all girlie and pink on us for this one. Having trouble finding rosewater in the depths of Scotland, she eventually came across a bottle of rosehip cordial with which she made these very pink Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Barbies.

Nic of Daydream About Food came up with a really imaginative use of this month's ingredients making some very interesting looking pink flat bread with roses and chocolate.

Oh how I enjoy this challenge. Not one, but two batches of truffles,  and both very different. "So simple, no fuss" claims Baking Addict of The More Than Occasional Baker. Well I don't find truffles in the least bit simple, so hats off to her for these butterflies; I wish one or two of them would flutter down to Cornwall - Rose Chocolate Truffles.

BrownieVilleGirl ended up not having time to make her original idea, but came up with this Chocolate Rose Cake instead. No wonder it was a crowd pleaser, it uses my all time favourite combination of milk chocolate and rose.

Cheekily, I'm sneaking an extra one in here. I made this Plum and Rose Chocolate Cheesecake Bake, just in case I hadn't time to follow through with my original plan.

Imaginatively entitled rose cupcakes, these were all that I could have wished for when setting out on my rose and chocolate quest.

First timer, Alex of Dear Love Blog has come up with another very different cupcake creation - Chocolate Rose Cupcakes with Pistachios. Beautifully presented and photographed, I am lost in admiration.

And just scraping in at the last minute, we have C of Cake Crumbs and Cooking. She came up with an ingenious idea - I don't know why I've never thought of it before - Chocolate Rose Rice Pudding.

And one I missed - sorry Hannah of Home Baked. And what a one to miss too because I remember wanting one so much when I read the post first time around. Using rose petal spread, another ingredient I'd love to get my hands on, she made these Chocolate Macarons with Rose Infused Cream Filling.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

In My Kitchen - August 2011

And now for something a little different. Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial does a superb monthly series of In My Kitchen and it's a firm favourite of mine. There is always so much going on in her kitchen and she has such delightful things to show and tell. She has generously invited others to do their own In My Kitchen and finally, I have got my act together to do so.

To start, it had to be something chocolatey. One last remaining rose cupcake from the We Should Cocoa challenge.

One of the bottles of rosehip syrup recently made from rosehips which have been languishing in the freezer for a year. They were gathered from Rosa rugosa scrub on a nearby beach. The hips of this species are particularly big and juicy. This reminds me, it's about time to go and gather some more.

Some gorgeously coloured US cup measures, very thoughtfully sent from Jac of Tinned Tomatoes after I was bemoaning the fact I couldn't get my head around using cups.

Some garlic cloves gleaned whilst sorting through the 80 bulbs of garlic we grew this year.

A bowl of organic hens eggs I'm lucky enough to be able to buy locally.

A couple of cute little biscuit cutters a friend sent me for my birthday, but for which I haven't yet found a home.

A vase of dill flowers from our plot.

A bowl of delicious eating apples from my mother's best tree, but whose name has been long forgotten.

Two loaves of my weekly no frills rye sourdough, fresh from the oven.

Our water egg - a present from CT nearly a decade ago. It's a ceramic egg which, due to its shape is said to keep liquids stored in it fresh. It includes a copper spiral set in beeswax in the lid which contains imploded water which is claimed to have subtle energetic properties. For more info on this see the Centre for Implosion Research.

A jar of home made creme fraiche just set and about to be put in the fridge. It's simplicity itself to make.

And to end on a chocolate note, a tin of organic chilli hot chocolate which arrived unexpectedly in the post from Steenbergs - for me to review.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Rose Cupcakes - We Should Cocoa 12

Roses are a universal favourite, so beautiful and diverse in form and colour and often so sweetly scented. My grandfather was a keen rose grower and had the best rose garden I've ever seen - perhaps I'm a little biased here, but it was a long time ago that I last saw it and the memory just gets better and better! Anyway, because I loved my grandfather, roses hold a very special place in my heart and, I have to say, in my stomach too.

Having set the rose challenge, I really wanted to try and use roses to their full extent, but wasn't sure I'd have time to make what I had in mind. The plum and rose traybake I made as a fall back was delicious, but only had rosewater in it. I'd set my heart on some ultra rosy cupcakes using rose in four different ways: rose sugar, rose water, rosehip syrup and crystallised roses. To complete the theme, I also had some rose paper cases hiding in the cupboard.

This was a day long process and here's how I made them with a few disasters on the way:
  • First thing in the morning picked the one and only rose bloom in the garden, which had fortuitously opened at just the right time.
  • Painted the petals with egg white then dipped them in a bowl of caster sugar.
  • Put on a rack to dry and left in a warm airy place for as long as possible (ideally these would have been done the day before, but I just crossed fingers & hoped for the best).
  • Made a big batch of rosehip syrup with 1 kilo of rose hips that we'd harvested last year and had been taking up room in the freezer ever since.
  • Simmered them in 1.5 litres of water for a good half hour, mashing the fruit as it cooked.
  • Strained through a muslin cloth and left to drip for about six hours - overnight would have been much better, but I wasn't that organised.
  • Simmered the juice with 500g unrefined granulated sugar for about 1/2 an hour until lightly syrupy.
  • Poured into bottles and sealed.
  • Made some rose sugar by blitzing, in a coffee grinder, 125g sugar with a handful of red scented roses I'd dried previously.
  • Melted 125g unsalted butter with 100g 35% milk chocolate (G&B) in a large pan.
  • Stirred in 125g rose sugar.
  • Beat in 2 duck eggs (one being the remainder of the one used to paint the rose leaves).
  • Sifted in 150g flour (half wholemeal and half white), 1 small tsp of baking powder and a pinch of bicarb.
  • Stirred in 2 tbsp no fat Greek yogurt.
  • Stirred in 1 tbsp of rosewater.
  • Spooned into 12 muffin cases and baked at 180C for 18 minutes.
  • Turned out on a rack to cool.
  • Creamed 50g unsalted butter with 100g icing sugar.
  • Decided it would be a good idea to use some of our homemade creme fraiche - big mistake!
  • Added 1 tbsp rose hip syrup and 2 tbsp creme fraiche and tried to beat into the butter cream.
  • This did not have the desired effect. I ended up making sweetened cultured butter and a load of sweet buttermilk - interesting, but not what I'd intended.
  • Drained the buttermilk from the butter and started again.
  • Creamed this second lot of butter with a further 100g icing sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in 1 tbsp of rosehip syrup.
  • Spread this over the cooled cakes.
  • Sprinkled with a small amount of pink sugar.
  • Topped with the few petals that had sort of crystallised.
The syrup was rather disappointing in colour but although fairly sweet, it had a lovely fragrant flavour. The last time I made it I'm sure it was orange rather than brown and it I'm pretty sure it wasn't so sweet. However, the upside to this, is that it should last well and hopefully keep all those autumnal coughs and colds at bay.

Although the rose petals had lost their scent by the time I used them, I was hoping for a nice pink sugar, but as you can see from the picture, that didn't really happen. I'll know for future reference that more petals are needed.

Despite the various disappointments and problems encountered along the way, these cupcakes were truly delicious - chocolatey and definitely rosy. The cakes were light and moist with both the chocolate and rose flavours nicely balanced. They had a fantastic texture with a particularly smooth mouth feel. The creme fraiche topping carried the fragrance of the rosehip syrup nicley. Perfect cupcakes for summer and they kept well too.

Here are a few other things I've made using rose as a flavouring.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Plum & Rose Chocolate Cheesecake Bake

Dom has put a jinx on me. He left a comment about finding my misreading of recipes rather endearing. The cheek of it! Mostly, I choose not to follow the recipe. But ever since he said that, I have indeed misread them and today was no exception! The friends we visited last weekend (who munched through my chocolate courgette cake), gave us a bag of Victoria plums from their holiday let garden - mmmmmm. I wanted to make something a little more interesting than CTs suggestion of a crumble - not that I have anything against crumble. I was looking for a way to get both rose and chocolate into it as a Plan B for We Should Cocoa, just in case Plan A didn't happen. This Plum Traybake from Waitrose sounded interesting, especially as we had some of CTs homemade kefir cheese that needed using up. All I needed to do, was to substitute the vanilla for rose and make the cheesecake a chocolate one. However, as it turned out, I didn't do it quite as I'd meant to:
  • Stoned and chopped 400g of Victoria plums.
  • Melted 125g 46% milk chocolate in a bowl over hot water an left to cool.
  • Mixed 200g kefir cheese until smooth.
  • Beat in the melted chocolate and set aside.
  • Creamed 175g unsalted butter with 200g cardamom sugar.
  • Beat in 4 eggs one by one.
  • Sifted in 200g flour (1/2 spelt, 1/2 white) and 1 tsp baking powder.
  • Stirred in 1 tbsp rose water.
  • Spooned half of the cake batter into a 9"sq cake mould. This proved to be rather difficult as there wasn't a huge amount of batter.
  • Spread the cheese mixture over the cake batter, then scattered half of the chopped plums on top.
  • Spread the remaining half of the cake batter over the top and scattered the remaining plums over this.
  • Baked at 180C for 35 mins.
  • Left to cool then cut into 16 squares.
It wasn't until I'd made the cake and re-read the original recipe, that I realised I was meant to put one of the eggs in the cheesecake - oops! Despite, the mishap with eggs, the result was truly scrumptious. It started with a lovely fruity hit, both sweet and tangy, then came the unctuous creamy chocolatey bit. The rose was very subtle, but left it's mark in the mouth long after the cake had disappeared - in a nice way. 

Friday, 19 August 2011

Chocolate Cherry Trifle

Black Forest Trifle
Having made one decedent dessert a few weeks ago, I was soon ready for another. I had cherries, I had some crème fraîche that needed using up and some egg yolks left over from the Chestnut Cream Meringue Cake I'd made. Friends from The Viewing Gallery had also just given me a jar of their wild cherry jam. Black Forest sprang to mind.

Anyway, back to those cherries. Still enamoured of my new book Ultimate, I'd just chanced on a recipe for Chocolate Cherry Trifle. Well, apart from substituting crème fraîche for whipping cream, I had all the ingredients to hand, so no excuses needed! I wanted to make the whole trifle from scratch, rather than use bought trifle sponges as suggested - I've never done that before. The only recipe I could find for a trifle sponge was in Pyton & Byrne and I made 2/3 of the quantity specified. I also only made 3/4 of the trifle recipe and reduced the amount of sugar used.

This is what I did:
  • Beat 2 duck egg yolks with 100g caster sugar until thick and pale.
  • Folded in 100g sifted white flour (was meant to be self-raising, but I didn't notice this until too late).
  • Whisked 2 duck eggs whites with 20g caster sugar and a pinch of cream of tartar until stiff.
  • Folded a 1/3 into the sponge mixture to loosen the mix, then folded in the remainder.
  • Spooned into a lined 20 x 30cm Swiss roll tin and baked at 180C for 13 minutes, until lightly browned and springy to the touch.
  • Turned on to a wire rack to cool.
  • Cut into 16 fingers and sandwiched together with a teaspoon of wild cherry jam.
  • Whisked together 3 egg yolks and 30g caster sugar in a bowl until well incorporated.
  • Whisked in 15g white flour.
  • Brought 275ml milk to the boil and whisked into the egg mixture.
  • Returned the whole lot to the pan and simmered for about 5 minutes whilst whisking from time to time.
  • Took off the heat and added 55g 85% dark chocolate.
  • Stirred until melted and smooth.
  • Left to cool.
  • Mix 40g slivered almonds in a bowl with 10g icing sugar and 1 dessertspoon of rum.
  • Spread out onto a lined baking tray and bake at 180c for about 6 minutes until caramelised but not burnt.
  • Leave to cool.
  • Lined the base of a glass bowl with the sponge sandwiches.
  • Spooned over 4 dessertspoons of damson liqueur (original recipe was for golden rum).
  • Halved and stoned 250g cherries.
  • Scattered these over the the sponges reserving a few for decoration.
  • Stirred 20g icing sugar into 300ml crème fraîche.
  • Folded a quarter of the cream into the chocolate custard.
  • Spooned the custard over the cherries.
  • Spooned the cream over the custard.
  • Scattered the almonds, reserved cherries and 10g grated chocolate over the top.
Black Forest Trifle
Sadly, I was rather excited by this Black Forest extravaganza. My first ever proper trifle and it was a complete success. Luckily, the self-raising flour was not needed, the sponge rose well and turned out perfectly - tasted just like a trifle sponge should. The individual ingredients held their textural integrity - not too dry and not too soggy. There was a hint of booze only and none of it was too sweet. The chocolate custard was really chocolatey and the crunchy nuts on top would take some beating. The whole was a perfect balance. As I write this CT is salivating and looking rather glum - that was really really delicious he says wistfully!


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