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My Golden Pear

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

CHOCOLATE AVOCADO TRUFFLES

Normally I do my blogging on a Thursday or Friday when I'm at home by myself.  Not so this month as both kids are at home on holiday.  They are both quite good at entertaining themselves but nevertheless it is still just a bit more hectic than usual.  I had a small window of opportunity this morning before I had to take the kids to swimming lessons and thought I would quickly rustle up these delicious little treats of avocado and chocolate truffles.  All went to plan - kids playing contentedly outside while I played with melted chocolate and dusty cocoa powder inside.  That was until the kids popped their heads indoors and spied the bowls of melted chocolate.  By this time I was taking my photographs and was quite engrossed in what I was doing and gave a few vague nods when asked if they could lick the bowls.  Kids quiet - I carried on with my photos.  Most of my photos are taken next to an open door in the dining room and what I hadn't realised was how windy it was today.  Dusty cocoa powder sprinkled over a board with a gust of wind equals dusty cocoa powder all over cream floor tiles.  By this time I'm starting to watch the clock so no time to clean up.  Another dusting of cocoa powder is added to my board and off we go.  Kids run outside - barefoot - through the cocoa powder.  Next time I looked at the clock we had exactly 10 minutes to get ready.   The kids were called in from the garden only for me to discover they were covered in chocolate and cocoa powder. A quick wipe over, toilet check and we were out the door in 10 minutes. I patted myself on the back for arriving on time, got the kids changed, another toilet check and made our way out to the pool past the wash hand basin with the mirror placed conveniently above it.  What! What did I just see?  I stepped back to take another look in the mirror and was horrified to find that I had a generous helping of cocoa powder on my face and through my hair. "Why didn't you tell me?" I shrieked at the kids.  "Well, you always look like that" was the response.  There is not much you can say to that.  I found myself a little corner and hoped nobody would notice as I sat and picked and wiped away chocolate from head to foot.  
 Reminiscent of watching a chimp in a zoo, I'm sure.
  
 

I first came across the idea of combining chocolate and avocado from one of my favourite blogs, Strands of My Life.  I have adapted Suzanne's cupcake topping slightly by adding the melted chocolate to make a lovely rich truffle mixture which is much healthier that the traditional full cream version.  The only downside to using avocado is that the mixture doesn't keep for very long - a couple of days at the most. 
Oh well - I'd better eat up.


Chocolate Avocado Truffles
 

Prep time: 30 minutes (includes resting time)
Cook time: n/a
Total time: 30 minutes (includes resting time)

Yield: 14 small truffles

Ingredients
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 60ml cocoa powder
  • 60ml honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 150g good quality dark chocolate
Cooking Directions
  1. Melt half (75g) of the chocolate in a microwave or over a pan of boiling water.
  2. Remove the flesh from the avocado and place in a small food processor.
  3. Add the melted chocolate, cocoa powder, honey and vanilla essence and blend to a smooth consistency. (**Note** make sure to taste at this stage.  You should not be able to taste the avocado and if you do you will need to adjust the amount of chocolate you are using.  It will all depend on the size and variety of avocado you use.)
  4. Place in a shallow dish and refrigerate for 20 minutes or until mixture is firm enough to handle.
  5. Just before removing the mixture from the fridge, melt the remaining chocolate as before.
  6. Using a teaspoon take enough mixture and roll between your hands to form a ball. You might find it easier to dust your hands with some additional cocoa powder to stop the mixture sticking to your hands.
  7. Dip in the melted chocolate and place on a baking tray which has been lined with baking paper,
  8. Decorate with sea salt flakes, chilli or drizzle with white chocolate.
  9. Refrigerate to set completely.


This is my entry for this month's We Should Cocoa which is run by Chocolate Log Blog and Chocolate Teapot.  This month Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary has challenged us to make small chocolates or truffles.


Written by: Angela Darroch

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Saturday, 10 August 2013

CHOCOLATE & RASPBERRY CREAM CUPCAKES

I woke up yesterday to the news that there was a family wedding taking place that very afternoon.  Now this wasn't your normal kind of wedding that takes 12 months to organise.  No this one had to be done in a day!  The bride, aka Puzzy and the groom, aka Fuzzy are bears that live with us and no they are not real bears - that's right - we were hosting a wedding for two stuffed bears.  My six year old son loves detail so I knew this would be a well thought out wedding.  I was right.  He made a red carpet out of cardboard which was the length of the living room floor.  All the other soft toys were laid out as guests.  A small lavender sachet became the ring cushion upon which lay a jewel any girl would be proud of.  The bride had a gorgeous fuchsia pink veil attached to her ears with clothes pegs.  The fact that she wore nothing else did not seem to concern neither my son nor my daughter.  The groom had a paper kilt made for him with a sgian-dubh attached to the front.  This was worn in typical Simon Cowell fashion - up round the armpits and again with no other clothes.  Super Monkey was brought in as the priest wearing only red briefs and a red cape.  Music was by Coldplay. 
 
 
My job in all this was Head of Catering.  The Groom requested chocolate cake and the bride wanted raspberries.  I thought I would go the extra mile and made some chocolate cupcases which once the cake was baked I placed into the chocolate cases and then decorated with cream and raspberries.
 
 
I also thought long and hard about a gift for the couple and so while all the preparations were taking place I made up this cute little cupcake holder in the shape of an oven.
I can't imagine many brides who wouldn't want a brand new pink oven to start off her new life of married bliss. 
 
This also leads me nicely into the fab competition which is being run by Rangecookers.co.uk.  All you have to do is make and blog about a cupcake to win a Select 90 dual fuel range cooker in stainless steel.  Now I may pretend to care what two stuffed bears would like for their wedding but in reality I'm thinking of a gorgeous new oven for myself.  Selfish, I know.
 
Anyway, back to the wedding.  The day was a great success - the bears are off on honeymoon to the Isle of Toyland, the kids had great fun, and I enjoyed watching the creativity that every 6 and 4 year old should be allowed to express.
 
If you would like to make these gorgeous, deliciously moist, fresh chocolate cupcakes served in their own edible chocolate cupcases and drizzled with tangy raspberry sauce (yes I really do want to win that oven) then here is the recipe ...

Chocolate & Raspberry Cream Cupcakes

For the printable version - click here

Ingredients
  • 65g butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 egg
  • 70g raspberry jam
  • 25g self raising flour
  • 70g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 80 ml buttermilk
  • 250 ml whipping cream
  • 2 tsps icing sugar
  • raspberries for decoration
  • raspberry sauce for decoration
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C, (350F).
  2. Beat together the butter, caster sugar and vanilla essence until light and creamy.
  3. Add the egg and beat well.
  4. Add the jam and beat until smooth.
  5. Fold in sifted flours, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa alternately with the buttermilk until nice and smooth.
  6. Spoon mixture into cupcake cases and bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the centre.
  7. Leave cakes to cool completely before decorating.
  8. Whip cream and icing sugar together until thick.
  9. Pipe cream onto cakes and decorate with fresh raspberries and raspberry sauce.
 
  Notes : I served these cupcakes in edible chocolate cases which I made by melting chocolate and coating silicone moulds before placing in the freezer to set.  Once set, peel off the moulds and keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
I made the raspberry sauce by blitzing fresh raspberries with a touch of lemon juice and icing sugar to taste and then passing through a sieve to remove any seeds.
 

 
 Written by: Angela Darroch

 

 


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Monday, 29 July 2013

STRAWBERRY CREAM ECLAIRS

The classic French chocolate éclair has been around for over 200 years and is loved the world over for its crisp, light as air pastry shell which is filled with crème patissiere or whipped cream and topped with chocolate fondant icing.  So why did I feel the need to mess with this classic recipe?  Because I'm a food blogger and I wanted something a bit different for this months Classic French challenge which is of course éclairs. 
 

The actual éclair was a success - lovely and crisp and hollow when opened up so don't be put off from using the following recipe.  Where I went wrong was with the cream filling.  Instead of using plain, whipped cream I tried to add some strawberry coulis to the cream and of course it wouldn't whip to the correct consistency.  I eventually whipped up another batch of cream and swirled some strawberry coulis through it but there wasn't really enough of the strawberry flavour for me.
 My next experiment was with the chocolate topping.  I had a small piece of this strawberry chocolate transfer left over from this previous bake and thought I could use it to pretty up my éclairs .   I tempered my chocolate and covered the transfer sheet with a thin layer of melted chocolate and placed it in the fridge to set.  I then cut into rectangles about the size needed for each éclair.  The trick then was to get the chocolate to soften enough so that it moulded over the éclair but not so much that the strawberry design completely melted.  I did this by placing the éclairs back in my still warm oven for a couple of minutes.  The result was not a complete success - more of a splodge of chocolate with some dodgy looking strawberries on it. I did however, enjoy the lovely crisp texture of the chocolate that you get from the tempering process.
I think I might stick to the classic version in future but would definitely add the crispy chocolate topping again (minus the chocolate transfer).
 
CHOUX PASTRY
 

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
 
Yield: Enough for 6 eclairs
 
Ingredients
  • 60g butter
  • 125ml water
  • 75g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
 
 
Method
 
  • Heat the butter and water in a saucepan until the butter melts and the mixture comes to a boil.
  • Add the flour and baking powder and stir well with a wooden spoon until the mixtures comes together in a ball and leaves the side of the pan completely clean.
  • Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool down slightly.
  • Once cool, add the eggs, 1 egg at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon until the dough is smooth and satiny.
  • Line a baking tray with baking paper and to make éclairs - pipe the dough onto the tray in 10 cm long oblong shapes or to make profiteroles - drop spoonfuls of the dough onto the baking tray.
  • Use your finger, moistened with some water to smooth off any points.
  • Bake at 190C (375F) for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and cut a small slit into each shape to remove any air.
  • Return to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
  • Cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Fill with sweetened, whipped cream.
  • Top with chocolate ganache or melted chocolate.

This month's Classic French challenge is hosted by Sarah over at the lovely Maison Cupcake blog.



 
 Written by : Angela Darroch
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Sunday, 16 June 2013

STRAWBERRY & CREAM LAYER CAKE

In the build up to Fathers Day I asked my hubby if he had any preference as to how he would like to spend it.  "How about you do the barbecue this week" was the reply.  "Uh, ok if that's really what you want" was my less than enthusiastic response "but what if it rains?"  "Ok, then I would like a big juicy steak with mushroom sauce and roasted butternut."  Now that is more like it but I still wanted something a bit more extravagant.  "How about a dessert?" I tried.  "Nah, no thanks" and that was that.  No fun for me in the kitchen on Fathers Day.  Well, that is until I saw the theme for The Sunday Baking Club which is Summer Sunshine Week. 
 
 
Now I don't think I've seen the sun all week but summer to me is fresh strawberries and lashings of cream. I had bought this chocolate transfer sheet from Squires Kitchen a while ago and was desperate to try it out so what more of an excuse does a girl need.
 
  Into the kitchen I went and whipped up a four layer sponge cake but later decided that would just be completely over the top so only used three of the layers.
 I then blended some of the less than perfect strawberries together with some icing sugar and a dash of lemon juice to make a lovely, tangy strawberry sauce.
  I then whipped up some fresh cream and chopped up some fresh strawberries. I layered all this together and then moved on to the fun part.
  I melted some dark chocolate and spread this over the transfer sheet and placed it in the fridge for 10 minutes or so until it set.
I then removed it from the fridge and peeled the transfer sheet off and revealed the most beautiful piece of chocolate with strawberries on it.
  I broke this up into shards and placed them round my cake.
I added some whole strawberries on the top and drizzled with some more strawberry sauce and hey presto - a cake full of British Summer goodness.
 
So for all the special Dads out there but especially for my Dad and my hubby
HAPPY FATHERS DAY
 
 
I used the sponge mixture from here but only because I like a dense sponge.  Any good Victoria sponge recipe will do.
 
 
 Tea Time Treats which is hosted by What Kate Baked  and Lavender and Lovage has a theme of layer cakes this month so here we go ....
 

I'm also submitting this to A Mummy Too's weekly blog hop

 

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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

CHOCOLATE MINT BROWNIES

Chocolate and mint is this month's theme for the We Should Cocoa challenge which is run by Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog and Chele over at Chocolate Teapot and which is being hosted this month by Victoria of A Kick at the Pantry Door.  Now I am not a huge fan of mint and rarely cook with fresh mint but hand me a bar of mint chocolate or a box of After Eight mints and I am a happy bunny.  I decided to try and add a mint layer to my usual brownie recipe but to be honest I wasn't convinced that I would like them, thinking the flavour would be just too strong.  How wrong I was - the mint layer is very addictive, subtle and smells so fresh and is lovely together with the rich, fudgy brownie layer and the crisp, dark chocolate layer on top.  They are rich and could probably be cut into smaller pieces giving you 18 portions instead of the 9 which I cut but that is up to you. 
 The one thing to remember when baking brownies is to take them out the oven when they are still slightly 'sticky' in the middle and they are always better the next day.
Enjoy!!
  

For the printable version - click here


Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes
 
Yield: 9 servings
 

Ingredients for Brownie Layer
  • 100 g butter
  • 100 g plain chocolate
  • 300 g caster sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 125 g plain flour
  • 2 tblsp cocoa powder
 
Ingredients for Mint Layer
 
  • 30 g soft butter
  • 100 g icing sugar
  • 1 tblsp natural yogurt
  • ½ tsp peppermint essence
  • green food colouring
  •  
    Ingredients for Chocolate Layer
     
  • 100 g dark chocolate
  • 15 g butter
  •  
     
    Cooking Directions

    1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
    2. Butter and line the base of an 18cm square tin with greaseproof paper.
    3. Melt the butter and chocolate over a pan of simmering water. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
    4. Stir in the sugar, salt and vanilla.
    5. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring well until blended.
    6. Add the flour and cocoa and beat for 30 seconds until smooth.
    7. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for 35 - 40 minutes. If you insert a skewer it should come out slightly sticky.    
    8. While the brownies are baking prepare the mint layer by adding the butter, icing sugar and yogurt to a mixing bowl and beat with a mixer until soft and creamy.
    9. Add the peppermint essence a bit at a time, tasting as you go.  Different brands have different strengths and you don't want to overdo the flavour.
    10. Add the food colouring, drop by drop and mix well until you have a nice, soft green.
    11. Once the brownies have cooled down completely, spread the mint layer over the top.  I found it easier to leave them in the tin to do this.
    12. Place in the refrigerator to set while you prepare the chocolate layer.
    13. Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
    14. Cool slightly and then spread over the mint layer.
    15. Leave to cool until the chocolate layer has set.
    16. To cut into slices it is easier to dip your knife into hot water to prevent the chocolate layer from cracking.
     
     
     ** The mint layer was adapted from The Joy of Baking.com
     
     
    



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    Thursday, 14 March 2013

    RED NOSE DAY CAKE POPS


    I have lived in the UK for 14 years now and every year I am in awe of the generosity of the people who live on this island when it comes to giving charity for projects both at home and abroad.  Comic Relief is a major charity based in the UK which strives to create a just world free from poverty and has raised a staggering £800 million since its inception in 1985.  I was brought up in Africa and can honestly say that we were never encouraged as children to think about giving for charity.  Quite sad when you think that Africa is on the receiving end of so much charity raised in other countries.  On the contrary, children in this country are made aware of donating to charity from their early nursery year's right through their school lives. Part of the Comic Relief campaign is Red Nose Day which falls on 15th March.  The idea is simple - everyone has a laugh whilst raising money to help change countless lives across the UK and Africa.  The children are allowed to dress up tomorrow and have been asked to make some cakes for the cake sale.  We decided to make some truffles and decorate them with funny faces and a big red nose.  The kids had lots of messy fun and I did a lot of cleaning up.

    To make the truffles we used this recipe for chocolate truffle balls.  I found a pack of sticks and cellophane wrappers at Hobbycraft.   The eyes are sugar balls which I had bought previously from my local supermarket, the noses are smarties and the mouths and pupils were done by using small tubes of ready made icing.


    And here they are all packaged up and ready for the cake sale. 

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    Sunday, 17 February 2013

    CHOCOLATE & RASPBERRY TARTS

    This month’s Classic French challenge over on Blue Kitchen Bakes  is chocolate ganache.  I always find this incredibly rich so this time I decided to add a bit of raspberry sauce to the bottom of each tart to counteract the richness.  I thickened my normal raspberry sauce with a touch of cornflour to stop it running out once we cut into the tarts and it worked well.  There is nothing difficult about making the ganache and it is really quick to prepare.  The only time consuming process to these delicious tarts is making your own pastry but if you are short of time then a good quality store bought pastry would speed the process up giving you an elegant and decadent dessert in just over half an hour. 
     

    CHOCOLATE AND RASPBERRY TARTS
     

    Prep time: 2 hours, including resting time for pastry shells
    Cook time: 25 minutes
    Total time: 2hrs, 25 minutes
     
    Yield: 6 individual tarts
     
     
    Ingredients
    • Sweet shortcrust pastry
    • 150ml double cream
    • 190g dark chocolate, finely chopped
    • 300g raspberries
    • 2 tblsp icing sugar
    • 1 tsp lemon juice
     
    Cooking Directions
    1. Preheat oven to 200 deg C.
    2. Make up one batch of sweet shortcrust pastry and prepare 6 small individual tart cases.
    3. Bake blind for 15 minutes.  Remove paper and baking beans and return to oven for a further 5 - 10 minutes to dry out.
    4. To prepare raspberry coulis, puree raspberries (leave some back for decoration), icing sugar and lemon juice using a stick blender.
    5. Pour through a sieve to remove all seeds.
    6. If you prefer the raspberry sauce to be slightly thicker you can mix 1 tsp of cornflour with some of the puree. Heat remaining puree in a saucepan and then stir in the cornflour mixture and stir until thickened.
    7. Set to one side.
    8. To make the chocolate ganache, heat the cream in a saucepan until just boiling.
    9. Add the chopped chocolate and stir with a spatula until fully melted and smooth.
    10. Remove from heat and leave for 5 minutes to cool slightly.
    11. To assemble tarts, spoon some raspberry coulis into the bottom of each pastry shell.
    12. Fill the shells with chocolate ganache ensuring a nice smooth finish on top.
    13. Decorate with whole raspberries.
    14. Serve at room temperature.
    Recipe by Angela Darroch 

        

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    Friday, 8 February 2013

    RAYMOND BLANC'S CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

    This week has been chocolate mousse week in my house much to the delight of my two little tasters.  I wanted to try and find a recipe that was easy, quick and above all else delicious.  My first choice was to try a recipe without eggs as I am always hesitant to use raw eggs when cooking for other people.  The worst result I had was a combination of mascarpone and melted chocolate.  It was thick, almost solid, and just too heavy.  Not an air bubble in sight.   I then went to the other extreme and tried the traditional method using butter, eggs and chocolate.  The result was good but it wasn’t quick and it was still a bit too heavy for me.  My last attempt was Raymond Blanc’s version which only uses 4 ingredients – egg whites, chocolate, a small amount of sugar and a drop of lemon juice.  It was super quick and after only 10 minutes in the fridge it was the perfect consistency.  It is light, deliciously tasty and not too heavy on the calories.  Perfect.  You have to make sure that your chocolate is completely melted before stirring into the egg white mixture and if you follow Raymond’s instructions the chocolate should not seize when mixed with the egg whites.  I used half the quantity (4 egg whites) and managed to get 3 of these espresso cups. This is not an overly sweet mousse – using only 20g of caster sugar to 4 eggs but both I and the kids loved it.  Hubby didn’t get a look in but with Valentine’s Day just round the corner I’m sure I can rustle up another batch.
     

     
     

    Written by : Angela Darroch

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    Thursday, 24 January 2013

    CHOCOLATE AND APPLE CAKE

    For my next January challenge I decided to enter Random Recipes over at Belleau Kitchen. Dom, who is the guy behind Belleau Kitchen, asked if we could choose a recipe from someone else's kitchen for this challenge. My initial thought was to ask my Mum but as most of our cook books are the same I knew I was unlikely to get something new. My second thought was to ask my friend Sam. I have known Sam for a few years and we meet up once or twice a month for coffee and a catch up. We have many similar interests but one thing we don't share is my love for food and cooking. Sam eats to live, I live to eat. For this reason I have never told her that I have a food blog, conscious of not wanting to be a food bore and to witness the slight glazing over of eyes that I see from my husband when I start to talk about food. I sent her an email along the lines of "Hi Sam, would you mind choosing a recipe from one of your books and sending it over to me. It can be anything you want. Tks." Now Sam has been in my kitchen and knows I have 100's of books so I kind of anticipated her answer. The replay back was "What do you mean? Why are you asking me when you have so many recipe books?” I knew this was going to be hard to explain but I went with it anyway. I replied back, "I know it sounds weird but I am cooking something random for a guy called Dom.” The reply back was quick, "Who is Dom?” I was now having fun and decided to go with the flow. "Well he is a guy on the Internet.” Another quick reply, "You're talking to a guy on the Internet and cooking for him? What's going on?”  "Don't worry about it," I said. "Nothing untoward is going on. Just send me a recipe and I'll tell you all about it next time I see you.”  Not long after I received an email back with a recipe from The Fairtrade Everyday Cookbook for a Chocolate Apple Cake. She closed the email with "Can we meet for coffee this week?”

      I feel slightly mean for keeping her in suspense and I know she won't fully understand why I'm cooking something completely random for a guy I've never met but that's blogging for you.

     I made the cake a couple of days ago and loved it. I still had a couple of apples from our apple tree lurking in the back of my fridge and so made my own apple puree. There is something oddly satisfying about using home grown produce. I even had Fairtrade cocoa and Fairtrade chocolate so felt I was doing the recipe justice. The raw cake mixture was thick and fudgy and quite different to any other chocolate cake mixtures I've made before. Once cooked, the cake was beautifully moist and had the slightest hint of apple to taste. I was running out of time to finish it off, so wrapped it up in tinfoil and only took it out to ice today (2 days later). It was still moist and fudgy. I topped it off with the chocolate topping which I have to say set really quickly and had a nice crispness to it. If anything the topping slightly overpowered the taste of apple in the cake but it is still good. This is not a showstopper of a cake but more a family favourite and so much better for having some fresh apple in it. 

    Now I really must get back to Sam about that coffee date.
     
     
     
     

    Prep time: 30 minutes
    Cook time: 35 minutes
    Total time: 1 hr 5 minutes
     
    Yield: 16 squares
     
     
    Ingredients
    • 120 ml vegetable oil
    • 225g Fairtrade sugar
    • 1 large egg
    • 175 g plain flour
    • 40g Fairtrade cocoa
    • 1.5 tsp Fairtrade ground cinnamon
    • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    • 225g apple puree (from 2 med apples and 125 ml apple juice or water)
    • 75g Fairtrade plain chocolate
    • 25g butter, softened
     
    Cooking Directions
    1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C (350 deg F). Grease and flour a 20 cm square baking tin.
    2. Peel, core and chop the apple up into small chunks.
    3. Place the apple juice and apple in a saucepan and simmer gently until the apple breaks up easily.
    4. Puree the apples, measure out 225g and set aside to cool.
    5. Beat the oil, sugar and egg in a large bowl until pale in colour and fluffy and set aside.
    6. Sift the flour with the cocoa powder, cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda in another bowl.
    7. Stir alternate spoonfuls of the flour mixture and the apple puree into the egg mixture.
    8. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and place in the oven.
    9. Bake for 35 mintutes, or until a fine skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
    10. Turn onto a wire rack and leave to cool.
    11. Melt the chocolate for the icing in a bowl set above hot water in a saucepan over a low heat. Remove it from the heat and stir in the butter making sure there are no lumps left.
    12. Spread over the top of the cake to decorate.
     
     
     
    Written by : Angela Darroch

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    Thursday, 27 December 2012

    CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE BALLS


    Aaaah - peace and quiet.
     
    Today is the first day since just before Christmas that the kids have really been able to venture outdoors.  My poor hubby has taken them off to the park to try and wear them out - he never succeeds but I'm quite happy to let him try. 
     
    I'm just enjoying my 'me' time sitting in my kitchen, looking out the window and watching the sun desperately trying to break through the mass of grey clouds that seem to be forever threatening these days.
     
    Of course, at times like this I end up thinking of food.  What will I serve on New Years Eve?  I have to admit that even for someone like me who loves food - I'm struggling to get excited about another over indulgent feast.
     
     
    I'm craving something spicy and couldn't possibly eat another creamy, chocolaty dessert. Of course, I'll probably feel different in a couple of days.  Instead of dessert I thought I would make these chocolate truffle balls to have with our coffee after the meal.
     
    They are not as rich as the authentic cream and chocolate truffles but are made with crushed biscuits instead.  My Mum has been making these for years and I have changed her recipe slightly by leaving out the coconut and dipping them in melted chocolate.  Most of the flavor will come from the chocolate you choose to dip them in.  My favourite has to be the dark chocolate with Sea Salt Flakes on the top.   
     

    Prep time: 20 minutes plus chilling time 
    Yield: Approximately 30
     
     
    Ingredients
     
     
    Cooking Directions
    1. Add the condensed milk and butter to a saucepan and heat gently on the stovetop until the butter has melted.
    2. In a bowl, mix the crushed biscuit crumbs together with the cocoa powder.
    3. Add the condensed milk mixture to the biscuit crumbs and stir together until well combined.
    4. Put the mixture in the fridge for about 1 hour to cool down completely.
    5. Roll the mixture into balls (about the size of a walnut) and place on a baking tray which has been lined with baking paper.
    6. Return to the fridge to chill.
    7. Gently melt your chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.
    8. Using a kebab stick or something similar to hold your truffles, dip them in the melted chocolate and place back on the baking tray.
    9. Return to the fridge to chill.
     
            Written by : Angela Darroch

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    Saturday, 1 December 2012

    CRANBERRY, ORANGE AND CHOCOLATE PAVLOVAS

    I have to confess to never having eaten fresh cranberries before.  Up until recently they have never been grown commercially in the UK so we very rarely see them in the shops and if we do they are normally quite expensive.  Now that they have started growing them in Kent I'm sure they will play a bigger part in our seasonal cooking.  When I spotted them for sale in our local grocery store I decided to try them out.  This dessert was featured in the December issue of Food & Travel and just looked and sounded too good not to try.  It is not a quick dessert to make but it is one that can easily be prepared in advance and would then only take a couple of minutes to plate up.  I did cheat a teeny weeny bit and used tinned mandarins instead of fresh orange and I think it probably added more flavour.  You could of course also use shop bought pavlovas but the chocolate in these make them extra special.  I used a good quality chocolate http://www.lindt.com/swf/eng/products/excellence/orange-intense/
    and I think it definitely makes a difference to the end result. 
     
     When I came to make the topping I thought I would taste a couple of the berries to find out what they were like but Oh My Goodness did I get a shock.  They were truly awful and left such a bitter taste in my mouth that I was very dubious about how the topping would taste once cooked.  Once cooked, though they were delicious.  The finished dessert was really delicious and the different textures and flavours were just heavenly.  Although not light in calories it feels light to eat and would be perfect for after a heavy Christmas meal.
     
      Definitely one of my favourites.
     
     


    Prep time: 30 minutes
    Cook time: 50 minutes
    Total time: 80 minutes
     
    Yield: 8
     
     
    Ingredients
    • 100g orange flavoured chocolate
    • 4 large egg whites
    • pinch of salt
    • 225g caster sugar
    • 1 tblsp cornflour
    • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
    • 0.5 tsp vanilla essence
    • 150g fresh cranberries
    • 4 tblsps orange flavoured liqueur such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier
    • 1 large orange, zested then peeled and segmented
    • 300 mls double cream
     
     
    Cooking Directions
    1. Preheat oven to 190 C (325 F) and line two baking sheets with baking parchment.
    2. Break the orange flavoured chocolate into a small bowl and melt over a pan of simmering water.
    3. Place the egg whites and a pinch of salt in a large bowl.
    4. Whisk until soft peaks form.
    5. Add the sugar a few tablespoons at a time and whisk well between each addition, reserving 2 tsps of sugar for later.
    6. Once the sugar has been added, the meringue should be very stiff.
    7. Sift the cornflour over the meringue and fold through very gently.
    8. Mix the remaining 2 tsps of sugar with the vinegar and vanilla essence and fold into the meringue until well mixed.
    9. Take a tablespoon of mixture at a time and place 4 piles on each tray. Spread out into individual 9cm circles.
    10. Drizzle a little melted chocolate over each and swirl gently through the meringue using a toothpick.
    11. Place small spoonfuls of meringue mixture around the edge of each circle to build up slightly.
    12. Drizzle some more melted chocolate over the meringue mixture and swirl gently with the toothpick.
    13. Cook for 5 minutes.
    14. Lower the oven temperature to 110 C (225 F) and cook for a further 45 minutes.
    15. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.
    16. Store in an airtight container until needed.
          To make the topping
    1. Put the cranberries in a saucepan with the sugar, orange liqueur, orange zest and any juice left behind from segmenting the orange.
    2. Heat gently, stirring gently to dissolve the sugar.
    3. Cook until the cranberries just start to burst.
    4. Cool completely before assembling the meringues.
    5. Whisk the cream until it just holds its shape but is still a bit floppy.
    6. Pile some of the cream into the centre of each pavlova.
    7. Place the orange segments and the cranberry mixture on top of the cream.
    8. Top with some chocolate shavings and dust with icing sugar.
           

     
     
    WWritten by : Angela Darroch

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    Thursday, 15 November 2012

    CHOCOLATE AND CRANBERRY COOKIES

    On the way to school yesterday my son sent me into panic mode.  "You know it's only 5 weeks until Christmas" he announced.  "No way" was my immediate response but when I gave it some thought I realised he was right.  I have so many things on my 'to do' list (thanks to Pinterest) so without  wasting another day I decided to make a start on my neighbours gifts.  Every year the kids make something to take over to them so I wanted to try these seasonal cookies.  They were very easy and quick to make and will be perfect for the kids to make nearer the time.  I then spent  a lovely couple of hours making up some pretty boxes ready for the kids to package up their gifts.
     


     


    For the printable version - click here


    Prep Time : 20 minutes
    Cooking Time : 10 minutes
    Total Time : 30 minutes

    Yield : 20

     
    Ingredients
    • 150g butter
    • 150g plain flour
    • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    • 50g ground almonds
    • 50g porridge oats
    • 80g dried cranberries
    • 50g brown sugar
    • 50g caster sugar
    • 100g white chocolate chunks
    • 1 large egg yolk
     
    Cooking Directions

    1. Preheat the oven to 180 C (356 F).
    2. Melt the butter, and allow to cool.
    3. Sift the flour and the bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl.
    4. Add the ground almonds, oats, dried fruit, soft brown sugar, caster sugar and the chocolate chunks and mix well.
    5. Mix the cooled melted butter with the egg yolk and pour into the dry ingredients, stirring to combine.
    6. With your hands, form into walnut-sized balls and arrange slightly apart from each other on 2 baking trays.
    7. Using a fork, flatten the biscuits slightly and place in the preheated oven for approximately 10 minutes or until golden.
    8. The cookies will still be soft when you take them out of the oven so allow to cool a little on the trays before transferring them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
       
                  

    Written by : Angela Darroch            

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    Saturday, 3 November 2012

    CLASSIC CHOCOLATE CAKE

    I can't believe it has been three months since I last posted on my blog.  The beginning of August was when the kids broke up for their summer holiday and it has just been one thing after another since then.  I had almost decided to not carry on with my blog because of the amount of time it takes up but I have really missed it and so for my own 'me time' I'm back.
    The kids are now on their half term break and had asked me to bake them a cake.  Their preference is always for a chocolate cake and when they saw this one on the front cover of the latest Olive magazine it was a done deal.  I was really pleased with the way it turned out.  It was really moist and lasted for at least a week which I think is quite unusual for a chocolate cake.  I did have a little disaster when I was taking the photos.  My backing board (which is a heavy piece of wood) fell over and of course it fell on the cake - completely ruining my nice glossy glaze.  Still tasted good though!!
     
     



     
    Ingredients
    • 225g unsalted butter, diced
    • 225g caster sugar
    • 175g self raising flour, sifted
    • 50g cocoa powder, sifted
    • 2 tsp baking powder, sifted
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 4 medium eggs
    • 100ml full cream milk
     
    Buttercream:
    • 100g butter, softened
    • 100g icing sugar, sifted
    • 2 tsp cocoa powder, sifted
    • 1 medium egg yolk
    Icing
    • 100g milk chocolate, broken into small pieces
    • 15g butter
    • 30g cocoa powder, sifted
    • 50ml water
    • 1 tblsp golden syrup
     
    Cooking Directions
    1. Heat the oven to 190C/fan 170C and butter and baseline 2 x 20cm sponge tins with removable bases.
    2. Put all the cake ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and cream together.
    3. Divide the mixture into the cake tins, smoothing the surface.
    4. Bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
    5. Run a knife around the collar of the cakes and leave to cool completely.
        To make the buttercream
    1. Blend the butter, icing sugar and cocoa in a bowl and then mix with an electric whisk on high speed for 2 minutes until really pale and fluffy.
    2. Add the egg yolk and whisk for another minute.
    3. Spread the buttercream over the bottom sponge and sandwich together with the top sponge.
        To make the icing
    1. Gently melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl set over a pan with a little simmering water in it, stirring until smooth.
    2. At the same time, combine the cocoa, water and golden syrup in a small saucepan and heat almost to boiling point, stirring until smooth.
    3. Add this to the melted chocolate and blend to a thick icing.
    4. Working quickly, smooth over the top of the cake using enough so that it drips down the side.
    5. The glaze needs to be prepared and used straightaway.  If it starts to appear oily, simply whisk in 1tsp of water until it returns to being glossy.
    6. The cake will keep well in a covered container for up to a week.
    Written by : Angela Darroch
           

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    Monday, 23 July 2012

    MY NOT SO GOOD CHOCOLATE MASCARPONE CHEESECAKE

    Amongst my collection of cookery books and magazines I have a large pile of folded up pieces of paper which I have collected over time.  These are recipes which have been passed on to me, articles torn out of magazines, quick notes made from my favourite TV shows - you name it - I've got it.  Every now and again I haul this treasure trove out of my cupboard and look through it for something to catch my eye.  This time round it was a recipe for a Chocolate Mascarpone Cheesecake.  When I read through the list of ingredients I just knew it had to be delicious and that it would be perfect for my 'fancy' dinner coming up soon.  What is not to like about mascarpone cheese, double cream, chocolate, almonds, brandy and best of all - hot chocolate sauce over the top?  I set to work with great anticipation.  The smell was heavenly, the tasting of each process was divine.  It was a messy process with loads of bowls and utensils but it didn't bother me, the reward would be worth it.  After an hour in the oven it looked perfect.  I plated up a slice with some vanilla ice cream and the homemade chocolate sauce whilst patting myself on the back at how delicious it looked.  I spent the next half an hour taking my photos trying not to tuck in too early.  Finally the moment had arrived - tasting time.  My first mouthful was a bit of a surprise - nothing much to taste.  I tried another mouthful - it was worse than the first.  The texture was nothing less than awful.  It was like eating air but in a sandstorm - slightly grainy from the ground almonds.  I called my 5 year old son to ask for his opinion.  "Mmm - I don't think we should take it on the picnic tomorrow" was his reply.  What?  How can something that looks this good not taste delicious and not even appeal to a 5 year old?  With no further ado it was tossed in the bin and I spent the next half an hour tidying up the mess in my kitchen - very grudgingly I might add.



    So sadly there is no recipe to go with this delicious looking dessert.  It was a bad day at the office for me.  Better luck next time.


    Written by : Angela Darroch





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    Friday, 13 July 2012

    SUMMER GELATO CAKE

    I finally got all three ice creams made and assembled my gelato cake.  It turned out much nicer than I thought it would and looks very pretty on the plate.  It is a lot of work to make all three layers from scratch but once it is done you can leave it in the freezer as a good standby dessert which would go down well with kids and adults.  I haven't given specific quantities for the ice creams because it is going to depend on the container that you use.  Try and use the same amount of scoops for each layer to get some consistency and press down well to get rid of any air bubbles.
    Personally I'm not sure it needs the biscuit layer on the bottom and would try it without next time I make it.


    SUMMER GELATO CAKE

    Ingredients

    Cooking Directions
    1. Line a baking tin with baking parchment.
    2. Crush the biscuits to fine crumbs in a food processor.
    3. Put the crumbs in a large mixing bowl and add the melted butter, stir thoroughly.
    4. Tip them into your baking tin, pressing down firmly with a spoon.
    5. Place in the fridge until set.
    6. Spoon the chocolate gelato over the crumb base, pressing down evenly.
    7. Place in the freezer until set.
    8. Repeat last two steps with the raspberry sorbet.
    9. Repeat again with the vanilla ice cream.
    10. Cover with baking parchment and leave in the freezer overnight to firm up.
    11. When you are ready to serve the gelato cake, remove the parchment, place a serving plate on top, invert the pan and then invert again on to another plate so that it sits base-down.
    12. Serve in slices.
     
    Written by : Angela Darroch       

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    Thursday, 12 July 2012

    CHOCOLATE GELATO

    I have to confess that chocolate ice cream is not my favourite but in the latest Food and Travel magazine there is a dessert which intrigues me.  It looks fabulous but I just can't see how all the different flavours can work together.  It involves making three different ice creams and one of them is this chocolate gelato.  I've now made two - one to go.  Hopefully by tomorrow my dessert will be ready to try in time for National Ice Cream day. 

    Source - Food and Travel


    CHOCOLATE GELATO

    For the printable version - click here

    Prep time: 15 minutes
    Cook time: n/a
    Total time: 15 minutes plus 30 minutes churning time

    Yield: 6 servings


    Ingredients
    • 500 ml full cream milk
    • 165 ml whipping cream
    • 40g dark chocolate
    • 160g caster sugar
    • 50g cocoa powder (unsweetened)
    • 1 egg white
     
    Cooking Directions
    1. Put the milk, cream and dark chocolate in a saucepan and heat gently to boiling point.
    2. Leave to one side to cool down.
    3. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, egg white and the cocoa powder.
    4. Add the milk mixture and whisk together until well combined.
    5. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and churn until ready.

           

    Written by: Angela Darroch

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    Tuesday, 12 June 2012

    CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

    Today is a bit of a sad day for me - my brother and his family have set off on the final leg of their journey to set up a new life in Adelaide - 10,000 miles away.


    On one hand I am so excited for them but on the other it feels like such a long distance to be separated.
    In my heart I know that we have many lovely holidays to look forward to both over here and in Australia but that doesn't help how I feel in the short term. 
    What's a girl to do when feeling down - get in the kitchen of course and what better ingredient to cook with than lovely, luscious chocolate.

     
     
    These chocolate brownies are deliciously crisp on the outside and soft and fudgy when you bite into them. 
     Perfect as they are or add a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a delicious dessert.


    Prep time: 10 minutes
    Cook time: 35 minutes
    Total time: 45 minutes

    Yield: 9 servings


    Ingredients
    • 100g butter
    • 100g plain chocolate
    • 300g caster sugar
    • pinch of salt
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 large eggs
    • 125g plain flour
    • 2 tblsp cocoa powder
       
    Cooking Directions
    1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
    2. Butter and line the base of an 18cm square tin with greaseproof paper.
    3. Melt the butter and chocolate over a pan of simmering water. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
    4. Stir in the sugar, salt and vanilla.
    5. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring well until blended.
    6. Add the flour and cocoa and beat for 30 seconds until smooth.
    7. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for 35 - 40 minutes. The mixture should still be slightly wet if you test with a skewer.       
    8. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes.  Remove and cut into 9 servings.
    Written by: Angela Darroch

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