Spiced Chocolate Shortbread

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Spiced Chocolate Shortbread. For days when it is not as warm as it should be and you need something warming and comforting….

So it is now June. The time of year when we should be swanning around in summer dresses, contemplating pedicure nail colours and longing for fresh, light flavours. [Read more…]

Rose and Violet Chocolate Truffles

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Without getting too horticultural on you, 2015 has been a VERY good year for the roses in the UK. Fact. With a mild winter and a gentle spring, rose blooms are everywhere and have inspired me to get experimental in the kitchen. [Read more…]

Cranberry, White Chocolate and Orange Biscotti

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So, the 1st of December is upon us. The start of the season for giving is here. What better way to start the festivities than embarking on a super easy, but no less satisfying bake than biscotti. These Cranberry, White Chocolate and Orange Biscotti make a wonderful homemade gift for friends, family or a host.  [Read more…]

Chocolate and Lime Thumbprint Cookies

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Everyone likes a thumbprint cookie, right? So let’s talk about this Chocolate and Lime version… [Read more…]

Rocky Road (aka Fridge Cake)

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Some friends have been wanting me to make Fridge Cake, or Rocky Road for sometime. So when I made this no bake treat, I had no idea that I would be giving you a little history lesson too. Interested to know where the name Rocky Road came from, ( I assume it came from the uneven finish and medley of different ingredients), I looked it up. [Read more…]

Chocolate ‘Mini Egg’ Cookies

minieggs-1I have been thinking about making these Chocolate Mini Egg Cookies for a while.

Basically, they are a double chocolate chip cookie but with sugar coated, chocolate mini eggs, as a substitute for regular chocolate chips. What is not to like?…minieggcookies-2

[Read more…]

Salted Caramel ‘Bouchon’ Hearts

saltcaramelbouchon-1-2Please don’t be fooled by the ‘hearts’ in the title for this recipe.

They are a ‘nod’ to the fact that the 14th February is fast approaching and I own a silicone, heart shaped baking tray, purchased a number of years ago, that needs its’ annual outing…

Whether you celebrate St. Valentine’s day or not, these can be baked shaped as hearts, or in a regular mini muffin pan. They are a delightful treat and will win over friends, family or a loved one.

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If you are an avid baking fan, you will be familiar with a ‘Bouchon’ – a beautifully light, chocolate cake with chocolate chips developed by the Bouchon Bakery in New York City. The little cakes are cork-like in shape and are baked in a specifically developed ‘Bouchon’ tray. In the past when I have made them, I used my Ikea muffin pan which actually gives the said narrow, cork-like shape (see below). However, there is no need to go out and buy a special tin, I see no reason why you cannot use a mini muffin tin/pan and still achieve these lovely cakes.

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So typically, these cakes contain dark chocolate chips. I experimented by adding the salted caramel to this original recipe but actually, I think it is too ‘overloaded’. Second time around I omitted the chocolate chips and added some salted caramel sauce to the centre of the batter. This gives a lovely sweet depth of flavour and  a salty after taste which compliments the slightly bitter cocoa powder in the cake (it has a ratio of 50:50 flour to cocoa powder).

The outside of this cake is crispy baked but the centre is slightly moist and a very flavoursome, caramel.saltcaramelbouchon4I know what you are thinking… Can I bothered to make the caramel sauce? The answer is ‘yes’! It is very quick (in this quantity) and straightforward. The batter requires some resting – a minimum of two hours, or overnight, so you can make the sauce during this time. As a bonus, although this is a small quantity of salted caramel, there will be some left over. You can use this for a host of other things, drizzling on cakes, meringues, ice cream, yoghurt and dare I say, just enjoying a spoonful from the jar when you need a pick-me-up! It lasts in the fridge for a few weeks.saltcaramelbouchcon3

So just to recap, the basics for making these are as follows;

  • Prepare the batter and let it rest.
  • Prepare the salted caramel sauce and chill.
  • Select your pan type and prepare accordingly.
  • Equally distribute half the batter in the trays.
  • Add a teaspoon of salted caramel sauce to the batter.
  • Top the sauce with remaining batter.
  • Bake.
  • Dust with icing.

The last thing you need to do is to enjoy these delicious morsels and share them with a loved one (assuming you are feeling generous?).

Why not celebrate the 14th with something home baked like these?

PS. Friends and neighbours, 1 x heart shaped pan available for loan this week… x

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Salted Caramel ‘Bouchon’ Hearts

10-12 cakes

Ingredients

  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 140g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 160g granulated sugar
  • For the salted caramel
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 25g butter, melted
  • 150ml double cream, warmed
  • 1 teaspoon course sea salt
  • For finishing
  • Icing sugar for dusting (optional)

Instructions

  1. Sift together the flour and cocoa powder, then add the salt. Mix and set aside.
  2. Melt half the butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Once melted, mix the warm butter with the room temperature butter in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar and vanilla paste until very light and pale in colour. Alternating between the butter and flour mixture, add to the egg mixture as the mixer is continually running, in three additions. Once the mixture is fully combined, cover the bowl with food wrap and leave to rest in a cool place (not a fridge) for at least two hours. It can be stored in a fridge overnight but must be bought back to room temperature prior to baking.
  4. Whilst the batter is resting, prepare the salted caramel.
  5. Place the sugar in a heavy based saucepan over a medium heat. Allow the sugar to melt and swirl the pan to ensure all the sugar liquefies. Do not stir. After about 5 minutes, once the sugar has melted, it will turn a dark amber colour. At this point, remove from the heat and whisk in the melted butter and warmed cream. Keep whisking until fully combined. Add the salt and whisk further.
  6. Place a sieve over a heatproof bowl and pour the caramel through the sieve. If you choose, transfer to a sterilised jar. Allow to cool and then cover. Store in the fridge. (As it chills it will become paler in colour and a little firmer).
  7. Once the batter is rested, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, or Gas Mark 4. If using metal mini cupcake/muffin pan, prepare by lightly greasing. If you are using a silicone tray, there is no need for preparation other than to place it on a flat baking tray.
  8. Spoon, or pipe, half the batter equally in your muffin pan. Add a teaspoon of salted caramel to the centre of each batter cake. Top, in equal measure, with the remaining half of the batter.
  9. Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes, rotating the pan position and shelf half way through the bake. Once the top of the cakes has risen and looks sufficiently baked, these will be ready. It is difficult to test with a cake tester as the centre is meant to be a soft, moist caramel.
  10. Allow to cool in the tray for approximately 10 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  11. Dust with icing sugar (optional) and serve. Store in an airtight container.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/salted-caramel-bouchon-hearts/

Source: Cake batter adapted from Thomas Keller & Sebastien Rouxel’s ‘Bouchon Bakery’ and Salted Caramel Sauce quantities adapted from April Carter’s ‘trEATs’.

 

 

Marbled Brownie

marbledbrownie-1I think you will like these Marbled Brownies.

They are  intense dark chocolate brownies swirled with crème de cassis, soaked berries and a creamy soft cheese topping. I baked them a couple of weeks back when I hosted a charity coffee morning, a ‘Great Pink Bake Off’ for Breakthrough Breast Cancer. It was a very popular bake and many of my friends requested the recipe, so here it is.

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I have adapted it from an excellent article in The Guardian, ’10 Best Chocolate Recipes’. I have adapted mine by increasing the chocolate intensity, reducing the sugar slightly, substituting the raspberries for various dark berries and currants that I have in my freezer. Those of you who have followed the blog know I have a freezer full of gorgeous summer berries, the fruits of our numerous pick your own labours this summer. I have soaked these blackberries, blackcurrants and blueberries in crème de cassis but this is purely optional. I have used salted butter as I love the ‘salty/sweet’ taste with the dark chocolate. I have also changed the quantities of goat’s and cream cheese. I find there is nothing more irritating than buying an ‘out of the ordinary’ ingredient – for example, the goat’s cheese here and having to buy two packs, knowing you will only use one and a half of the quantity. I have played around with these quantities to make this bake more practical and economic, at the same time as making it still taste delicious.

marb-2These brownies are very easy to make and there is little room for error. They are deliciously ‘fudgy’, which goes wonderfully with the tartness of the berries and the creaminess of the soft cheese topping.

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These Brownies go a long way too – you will get 24, good portions from this bake. Perfect with morning coffee, afternoon tea, or served with a spoonful of cream for a lovely dessert. Just as well really…

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Marbled Brownie

Approximately 24 portions

Ingredients

  • 180g mixed berries & currants - blackberries, blueberries and blackcurrants
  • 2 tbsp. of crème de cassis (optional)
  • 300g dark, good quality chocolate (70% cocoa)
  • 175g salted butter
  • 125ml whole milk
  • 375g unrefined golden caster sugar, or caster sugar, plus 40g for the topping
  • 1 tsp. vanilla paste
  • 5 eggs (4 eggs for the Brownie, plus 1 for the topping)
  • 130g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 150g soft goat's cheese
  • 150g full fat cream cheese

Instructions

  1. Rinse the berries and currants and pat dry. Place in a bowl, add the crème de cassis, if using, mix and set aside.
  2. In a bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Prepare a 20cm x 30cm baking tray by greasing and lining with baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, or Gas Mark 4.
  3. In a large saucepan, over a low heat, melt the butter and chocolate together. Once melted set aside to cool before adding the milk. Whisk. Add 375g of sugar and the vanilla paste and combine. Add 4 eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Fold in the dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in approximately half of the berries and currants, along with the juices. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared tin and distribute evenly.
  4. In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, or with a hand held electric whisk, beat together the goat's cheese, cream cheese, the remaining egg and 40g of sugar. Once light and fluffy, fold in the remaining fruit.
  5. With a large spoon, drop portions of the goat's cheese mixture onto the brownie mixture. Swirl the mixture with a knife, ensuring that you get a good 'swirl' but without over mixing.
  6. Bake the brownie for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to sit in the tray for 10 minutes before removing from the tray and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack.
  7. Once cool, cut into portions and serve. Store in an airtight container.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/marbled-brownie/

Source: Adapted from Faith Durand’s recipe as seen in The Guardian’s ’10 Best Chocolate Recipes’

 

Chocolate Madeleines

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‘At last!’ I hear you chocolate lovers cry…

Apologies that it has taken me until my tenth post to feature chocolate. It really is unintentional. Indeed I do love chocolate, particularly the dark, intense, not overly sweet variety.

So why Madeleines? Why not some rich, triple layer, fudgy chocolate cake with ganache?

Firstly, as I am a fan of all things ‘kitchenalia’, modern and vintage, I recently purchased a ‘vintage’ madeleine tray online and I have been desperate to try it out.

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Secondly, we can look forward to a rich, chocolate feast cake in the cooler months when we  are not so concerned about our waistlines for our summer escapes and we all need a massive chocolate fix! So, ‘all good things…’ as they say.

Back to the Madeleines.

chocolatemad-1-3This is the first time I have made these and it most definitely won’t be my last. Madeleines are one of the most recognisable French pastries because of their familiar scallop shape; they are moulded one side and rise up to a bulbous round shape on the other. They are light, have a great texture and the scope for variation is enormous.

Although this is my first attempt, I made two batches trying out two methods. The first method involved making the batter and baking straightaway. The second, involves refrigerating the batter for 3 hours before baking. This allows for the Madeleines to rise a bit and form a more bulbous shape. I would propose chilling the batter if you have the time, but really don’t worry, they will still taste great. I have drizzled mine in chocolate, just to intensify the chocolate flavour but this is purely optional (and baking purists would probably be horrified!).

Anyway, theses little gems are perfect with a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate.

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If you are a keen baker and are considering investing in a Madeleine pan, I would say go for it. You will definitely get plenty of use out of it. I have many variations that I want to bake. Watch this space…

Chocolate Madeleines

Makes 24

Ingredients

  • 60g salted butter, plus extra for greasing the pan
  • 50g dark chocolate, good quality, 70% minimum cocoa
  • 45g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 70g golden caster sugar
  • 30g dark chocolate (optional), melted for drizzling
  • Equipment
  • Madeleine tin

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan until it starts to bubble. Take off the heat and break in the chocolate and stir until it melts. Allow to cool.
  2. Sieve into a bowl the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder and mix until combined.
  3. In a freestanding mixer, mix the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the melted butter and chocolate mixture and whisk until combined.
  4. Gently fold in the flour mixture until combined. Tear off some food wrap and place over the top of the batter in the bowl. Leave to chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of three hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Brush the pan holes with a little melted butter, ensuring you grease the scallop shapes thoroughly.
  6. Spoon the batter into the scallop holes, about two thirds full and flatten slightly with the back of a spoon.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes, checking after 8 minutes. Remove from the oven. Allow the Madeleines to cool briefly in the pan to ensure they are set before removing and the place on a wire rack to cool.
  8. (Optional) Melt 30g of chocolate over a double boiler and drizzle over the Madeleines.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/chocolate-madeleines/

 Source: Recipe slightly adapted from Willie Harcourt-Cooze’s ‘Willie’s Chocolate Bible’. Method research from Dorie Greenspan’s ‘Baking From My Home to Yours’.