Chocolate and Raspberry Cigarello Cake

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For my glamorous mum’s 70th birthday, I had to make a cake as stunning as her. But it also had to be a cake that my brother and his family would like even with their very conservative food tastes, so no exotic flavour combos.  It also had to be a cake that I could take on the train from London to Newcastle. Not an easy brief.  

The recipe for this cake came from Lorraine Pascale, (http://www.foodnetwork.co.uk/recipes/i-cant-believe-you-made-cake.html) who also saved my life with my brother’s Malteser cake. For my mum’s cake, I incorporated raspberries into the layers as well as creme fraiche to cut through the sweetness of the chocolate butter cream which held the chocolate cigarellos in place. I bought the cigarellos and striped chocolate triangles online at http://www.chocolatetradingco.com

To decorate the top, I made the meringue kisses with freeze dried raspberries and the pale pink balls were strawberry filled truffles from Marks and Spencer. I also added extra-long birthday candles and three star shaped sparklers which set off the smoke alarm when we lit them. The cake was a huge success; mum really loved it.

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Ingredients

200g butter, softened

200g caster sugar

4 eggs

140g plain flour

60g cocoa powder

pinch of salt

2 tsp baking powder

400g plain, milk or white chocolate cigarellos (about 75-80 in total) (I bought 2 boxes) 

For the buttercream

250g butter, softened

500g icing sugar

100g good dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), melted and slightly cooled

 

For the layers

1 large tub (600g) of creme fraiche

750g frozen raspberries (use fresh if you like)

For the decoration (optional)

Fresh flowers, fresh raspberries, raspberry meringue kisses, chocolate strawberry filled truffles, painted chocolate triangles

mums-cake-3

·        Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/ Gas Mark 4. Line the 20cm round deep cake tin with baking paper and brush or spray with oil.

·        Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until they begin to go pale.

·        Add half the eggs and half the flour and mix well. Add the rest of the eggs, flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder and beat for a minute or two until the mixture is uniform.

·        Dollop into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.

·        Meanwhile, make the buttercream.

·        Put the butter and icing sugar into a bowl and whisk together until the mixture begins to go fluffy. Add the cooled, melted chocolate and whisk for a further 2 minutes.

·        Once the cake is completely cool, remove from the tin. Carefully cut the top flat with a large serrated knife, then turn the cake upside down on a 20cm cake board so that the bottom now becomes a nice flat top.

·        Split the cake horizontally and sandwich the top and bottom together with a layer of creme fraiche. Then place the defrosted raspberries on top, don’t worry if they get smashed up. Spread half the buttercream all over the top and sides of the cake, making it as smooth as possible.

·        Put it in the fridge to set before spreading a final layer with the remaining butter cream. This makes it easier to get a smooth, crumb-free finish.

·        Gently push the cigarellos vertically onto the sides of the cake, positioning them as straight as possible and making sure they touch the bottom.

·        Then decorate the as you like!

 

 

 

Valentine’s Day superfood chocolate hearts

Superfood chocolate hearts

For Valentine’s Day, I adapted my chocolate bark recipe to make superfood chocolate hearts. This is right up C’s street. A healthy 85% chocolate topped with all the latest superfoods: goji berries, coconut, golden linseeds, pumpkin seed and a sprinkling of sea salt flakes. These hearts are both healthy and indulgent. Perfect!

Valentine's Day superfood hearts

Ingredients

200g 85% chocolate

A handful of pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon golden linseeds

A handful of goji berries

1 tablespoon desiccated coconut

Sprinkling of sea salt flakes

 

Directions

  • Put the pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan and gently heat until you hear them starting to pop. Set aside and leave to cool.
  • Line a baking tray with a silicon mat, greaseproof paper or cling film.
  • Melt the chocolate very gently in a Bain Marie by breaking the chocolate into small pieces and putting them in a heatproof bowl. Put about 1 inch of hot water in a saucepan and sit the bowl over the pan, but so it is not touching the water. Allow the chocolate to melt. Be patient, if you rush the process, the chocolate won’t like it and will seize up.
  • Pour the melted chocolate into your baking tray. You can make the layer as thin as you like. Using a spatula, make sure the chocolate has spread evenly. Sprinkle over your toppings and leave to cool in the fridge for 45 minutes.
  • When the chocolate has set, use a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out heart shaped chocolates. If the chocolate has set too hard, put the bottom of the cookie cutter into hot water, dry and push it through the chocolate. Return to the fridge to fully set.

 

Chocolate bark with ginger, cranberries and pumpkin seeds

Chocolate Bark

 

I made this chocolate bark as a Christmas gift for my neighbours, but now I’m thinking about it, it is actually perfect for a post-Christmas healthy treat. I used a very dark chocolate for this, 85%. This type of chocolate doesn’t have much sugar and is full of antioxidants. You can of course use any topping you like for this bark. I went for the warming flavour of ginger. I also added dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds. The edible gold stars were just to give it a bit of Christmas sparkle. I think next time I’ll use goji berries, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds and feel very virtuous!

 

Ingredients

300g 85% dark chocolate (100g is approximately 1 bar of chocolate, so you can adjust the quantities accordingly).

A handful of crystallised ginger, finely chopped

A handful of pumpkin seeds, toasted

A handful of cranberries

Edible gold stars

Chocolate Bark with Ginger, Cranberries and Pumpkin seeds

 

 

Directions

  • Put the pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan and gently heat until you hear them starting to pop. Set aside and leave to cool.
  • Line a baking tray with a silicon mat, greaseproof paper or cling film.
  • Melt the chocolate very gently in a bain marie by breaking the chocolate into small pieces and putting them in a heatproof bowl. Put about 1 inch of hot water in a saucepan and sit the bowl over the pan, but so it is not touching the water. Allow the chocolate to melt. Be patient, if you rush the process, the chocolate won’t like it and will seize up.
  • Pour the melted chocolate into your baking tray. You can make the layer as thin as you like. Using a spatula, make sure the chocolate has spread evenly. Sprinkle over your toppings and leave to cool in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  • When the chocolate has set, turn it out of the tin and either snap into pieces or cut into squares. If you want to cut the chocolate into squares, the chocolate shouldn’t be set completely hard.

Christmas Chocolate Bark

 

 

Lebkuchen

Gingerbread 2

The Christmas baking has begun!  I made these gingerbread biscuits for the children of a very good friend of mine. I hadn’t made them before, but was pleased with how they turned out. Obviously, I had to test a few for quality control before I gave them away! The recipe comes from Mima Sinclair’s book ‘Gingerbread Wonderland’ which is being featured in quite a few of my food magazines at the moment. This particular recipe was in Woman & Home, Feel Good Food, Christmas, 2015. The only thing I changed was the shape of the biscuits; I would just use whatever shaped cookie cutters you have. Happy festive baking!

Gingerbread 1

Ingredients

160g runny clear honey

110g unsalted butter

50g ground almonds

250g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 tablespoon ground ginger

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2 teaspoons cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

To decorate

150g icing sugar

1 medium egg white

2-3 tablespoons cold water

100g dark chocolate, melted

Directions

  • Melt the honey and butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. Stir continuously until combined. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for 15 minutes
  • Heat the oven to 160°C/140°C fan/ gas Mark 3. Line 2 large baking tins with greaseproof paper.
  • Place the ground almonds in a large bowl and sieve over the remaining ingredients.
  • Pour over the butter and honey mixture and stir until it becomes a dough.
  • Roll out the dough to 2cm thick and using a heart cutter, cut into biscuits. Soften the edges of the hearts with your fingers. Place on the lined baking tray. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes, until just golden brown at the edges. Leave to cool for 5 minutes on the trays then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
  • Meanwhile, mix the icing sugar, egg white and water together to make a thin runny icing. Brush the lebkuchen with the icing. Leave for 15 minutes to dry, then repeat the process. Leave to set.
  • Dip the lebkuchen into the melted chocolate to coat the base and a few millimetres up the sides. Drizzle the remaining chocolate in a zig zag pattern over the top.

Gingerbread 2

 

Nutty Apple Loaf

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This recipe is from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. C’s mum wasn’t feeling very well and so I thought some cake might help. She loves her cake but favours the simpler styles rather than the flamboyant. It was C who suggested the apple theme. I think he probably fancied a piece himself. I was quite surprised by this recipe as it says to leave the mixture for a few hours or over night before baking, I’m not too sure why this is. Anyhow, this came out very moist and wintery. I love the pieces of chocolate dotted through the cake. It’s also well worth the effort of toasting the nuts as it really brings the flavour out.

Ingredients

175g unsalted butter (room temperature)

140g soft brown sugar

2 tablespoons strawberry jam

2 large eggs

140g plain flour

1 tablespoon baking powder (I misread the recipe and only used 1 teaspoon, it turned out fine and looked just like the picture in the book.)

1 teaspoon cinnamon (if making again I would add 1 and 1/2teaspoons rather than just 1 teaspoon)

100g shelled mixed nuts, lightly toasted. (I used hazelnuts, almonds and pecans)

50g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

2 eating apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped

1 eating apple thinly sliced for decoration

A 23 x 13 cm loaf tin, lined with parchment paper.

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  • Put the butter, sugar and strawberry jam in a bowl and cream until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a separate bowl, then beat into the butter mixture.
  • Stir in the nuts, chocolate and apples into the mixture with a spoon until evenly dispersed.
  • Cover and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight if possible.
  • Pre-heat oven to 170 °C/150°C fan/ gas 3
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth over with a palette knife
  • Arrange the thinly sliced apple on top of the loaf along the middle
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes or until brown and the sponge feels firm to the touch. A skewer inserted should come out clean, unless you hit the melted chocolate.

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