Truffle Cheesecake

Light sponge with a rich chocolate and almond topping laced with rum for an extra special dessert.

Serves: 10

Prep time: 25 mins; Cook time: 1 hour

Base Ingredients:
1 egg;
1oz (25g) caster sugar
1oz (25g) plain flour, sifted;
Few drops vanilla essence

Topping Ingredients:
1 ½ lb (675g) cream cheese
175g/6oz caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
200g/7oz plain chocolate, melted
2 tblsp milk
5 tblsp dark rum
7oz (200g) carton fromage frais
2oz (50g) ground almonds
cocoa powder for dusting

Step One : Grease and line a 21cm/8 1/2 in spring clip tin.

Step Two : Preheat the oven to Mark 5 / 190oC / 375oF.

Step Three : Whisk egg and sugar together until mixture leaves a trail. Fold in the flour and vanilla essence. Pour into tin, spread evenly and bake for 10 minutes until golden and risen.

Step Four : Turn the sponge onto sugared paper. Wash, grease and re-line the base and sides of spring clip tin. Return sponge to tin. Lower oven to Mark 4 / 180oC / 350oF.

Step Five : Put cream cheese into a bowl and beat in caster sugar and eggs. Add the chocolate, milk, rum, fromage frais and almonds. Beat well and pour on top of sponge base. Bake for 45-50 minutes until set.

Step Six : Turn off oven and leave cheesecake to cool in oven for 2-3 hours.

Step Seven : Dust with cocoa before serving.

Tip: This rich cheesecake is delicious served slightly warm or at room temperature. It is best eaten within 24 hours and is not suitable for freezing.

Click on the book cover to find more cheesecake recipes …

Chocolate and Chestnut Cake

Cuts into 10-12 slices

Ingredients for the cake:
4 medium eggs separated
250g (8oz) caster sugar
90g (3oz) plain chocolate, grated
435g can chestnut puree.

Ingredients for the filling:
150ml (1/4 pint) double cream
30g (1oz) caster sugar
1 tbsp brandy, optional
Icing sugar, for dusting
two 20cm (8in) round sandwich tins, base lined with greaseproof paper

Step One : Set the oven to Gas 4/180oC/350oF.

Step Two : To make the cake: Whisk the egg yolks and the caster sugar together until thick and creamy. Fold in the chocolate and three-quarters of the chestnut puree.

Step Three : Whisk egg whites until stiff, then fold into the chocolate and chestnut mixture. Divide between the tins and level the surface.

Step Four : Bake the cakes in the centre of the oven for 20-25 mins, until they are firm in the centre. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for 5 mins before turning out on to a wire rack to cool.

Step Five : To make the filling: Lightly whip the cream and sugar together. Mix the brandy, if using, with the remaining chestnut puree, then fold the puree into the cream.

Step Six : Spread filling over one cake layer. Place the other on top. Dust with icing sugar.

Additional recipes for using Chestnuts can be found here …

Raw Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cups

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (Summer 2017)

The heavenly combination of peanut butter and chocolate is always decadent, and the unprocessed versions of both ingredients are wonderfully nutritious, say Melissa Sharp and Lindsay Stark in Modern Baker: A New Way To Bake (Ebury Press, £26).  This is their take on the peanut butter cup – and they make fab individual desserts, too.

Makes 12 standard cups or 24 mini cups

For the Peanut Butter Base:-

200g peanut butter
180g pitted dates
100g oats
100g ground almonds
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tblsp coconut oil

For the chocolate topping:-

100g coconut oil
30g raw cacao powder
2 tbsp date syrup

Step One: Grease 2 x 12 hole mini-muffin trays or a 12-hole standard muffin try with a neutral flavoured oil, such as sunflower oil (not coconut oil as this will go solid and won’t prevent the mixture from sticking).

Step Two:  In a food processor, blend together all the peanut butter base ingredients until they come together in a smooth mass, with no lumps of date.

Step Three:  Divide the mixture evenly among the holes in the tray and press down firmly.  Place the tray in the freezer while you make the topping.

Step Four:  For the chocolate topping, place all the ingredients in a small pan and warm over a gentle heat until the coconut oil is melted.  The date syrup can sink to the bottom, so make sure that you stir the mixture well.

Step Five:  Pour the chocolate over the peanut butter mix and return the tray to the freezer for at least 1 hour.  These lovely cups keep really well in the freezer for up to a month, or in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.  Defrost for 1-2 hours in the fridge before eating.

Nutrition note:  Dates are rich in minerals, vitamins and fibre.  The humble peanut is often eclipsed these days by more ‘fashionable’ nuts, but it can punch its nutritional weight alongside all of them.

Almost-A-‘Snickers’ Bar

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (April 2018)

There’s no eating these nutty bars politely!  Taken from Kate Bradley’s ‘Bliss Bites’ (Hardie Grant, £8.99), they will be inhaled quicker than you can save that ‘mindful eating’ quote on Pinterest.  They’re just so good.

Makes:  12   Prep time:  15 minutes    Setting time:  About 1 hour

Base Ingredients:-

155g activated or raw cashews
45g desiccated coconut
2 tbsl maple syrup

Caramel Ingredients:-

13 medjool dates (about 260g), pitted
60ml maple syrup
90g peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt flakes
65g activated almonds or peanuts, roughly chopped

Chocolate Coating Ingredients:-

150g raw or dark chocolate (at least 70 per cent cocoa solids), melted and cooled

Step One:  For the base, place all the ingredients in your food processor or blender and pulse together until combined.

Step Two:  Line the base of a 20 x 15cm baking tin with baking paper.  Transfer the mixture to the tin and press it firmly and evenly over the base.

Step Three:  Place it in the freezer for about 30 minutes, or until firm.  To make the caramel, combine all the ingredients in the cleaned food processor and process until smooth.

Step Four:  Remove the base from the freezer and spread the caramel layer evenly over the base.  Scatter with the almonds, then return to the freezer until set.

Step Five:  Line a tray with baking paper.  Once frozen remove the ‘Snickers’ mixture from the tin and slice into 12 even-sized bars.

Step Six:  To coat, dip each one in the melted chocolate, allowing any excess to drain off, then place the bars on the tray.

Step Seven:  Refrigerate or freeze until they are set.  Keep these in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer and eat when you need a sweet treat.   They’ll keep for two weeks in the fridge, and two months in the freezer.

Chocolate Coconut Pots

‘Who could resist this heavenly dessert?’ asks Liz Earle in ‘The Good Menopause Guide’.  ‘It’s a treat for my friends who love the intense, rich flavour – but using relatively healthy ingredients.’ But, Earle warns, take care if chocolate triggers headaches, and eat at lunch to avoid the caffeine interfering with sleep.

Recipe taken from Psychologies March 2018.

Serves:  2    Setting time:  About 2 hours

Ingredients:  35g plain chocolate (85% cocoa), chopped; 6 tbsp coconut cream; 1 tsp coconut oil; 1 tbsp honey or date syrup; 1 medium organic egg, separated; 15g toasted unsweetened coconut flakes

Step One: Put the chocolate into a bowl with 4 tblsp of the coconut cream, the coconut oil and half the honey or date syrup.  Set the bowl over a pan of just-simmering water, making sure the base doesn’t touch the water, and heat until the chocolate melts.  You can also do this in the microwave on the lowest setting.

Step Two: Add the egg yolk to the mixture, and stir in slowly.

Step Three: Whisk the egg white in a separate bowl until thick and mousse-like.  Fold into the chocolate mixture.

Step Four: Divide mixture between two small glasses and chill for 2 hours, until set.

Step Five:  Serve topped with the remaining coconut cream and sprinkled with the toasted coconut flakes.

  • You can also serve this with a few cacao nibs sprinkled on top.

Pancake Day

pancake daySo it’s Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day today.

My absolute favourite filling is Nutella, sliced banana and vanilla ice cream.    I just love how the warm pancakes melt the ice cream and softens the banana and it just turns into a gooey, chocolatey, yummy delight.  Photographic evidence to follow later.  🙂

What is your favourite topping / filling ?

 

The result …… they were delicious 🙂

photo

Chocolate and salted caramel tart

Caramel TartIngredients – For the Crust:

250g (8oz) digestive biscuits
125g (4oz) butter, melted

Ingredients – For the Caramel:

225g (7oz) caster sugar
10g (3 ½ oz) chilled butter
100ml (3 ½ fl oz) double cream
1 heaped tsp Maldon sea salt

Ingredients – For the Topping:

100g (3 ½ oz) caster sugar
2 eggs
2 extra egg yolks
250g (8oz) dark chocolate
150g (5oz) butter

Ice Cream, to serve

Step One:  Heat oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).  Lightly grease a 23cm (9 in) deep loose-bottomed tart tin.  Blend the biscuits in a food processor until finely crushed.

Step Two:  Place the biscuit crumbs in a bowl, add the butter and mix well.  Press the biscuit mixture evenly into the greased tin and up the sides.  Chill the base in the fridge for 30 minutes or in the freezer for 10 minutes.  Remove the tart tin from the fridge, place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the base feels dry.  Set aside to cool.

Step Three:  To make the caramel, bring the sugar and 100ml (3 ½ fl oz) water to the boil in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Add the butter, return to the boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until the mixture is a toffee colour.  Pour in the cream and salt and boil for another 2-3 minutes until slightly thickened.  Allow to cool.

Step Four:  To make the chocolate topping, whisk the sugar, eggs and egg yolk for 4 minutes, or until thick and pale.  Gently melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (the bowl should not touch the water), leave to cool for a minute and then add to the sugar and egg mixture, whisking until smooth and glossy.

Step Five:  Spread the caramel over the cooled base and spoon over the chocolate mixture, spreading it evenly.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until it is almost set but still a bit wobbly.  Allow to cool in the tin.  Serve in thin slices with vanilla ice cream.

Tip: A food processor is the quickest way to crush the biscuits for the crust.  Alternatively, place the biscuits in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.

Recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry Cream and Honeycomb

Chocolate mousseRecipe Courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (Jan 2016) and taken from a book called Special Delivery by Annabel Crabb and Wendy Sharpe.

This chocolate mousse is improved by adding raspberries and cream, with honeycomb shards for pure theatre.

Serves:  4

Ingredients:  120g chocolate, with at least 80g dark chocolate; 4 eggs, separated; 1 tbsp caster sugar.

Honeycomb Shards:  165g granulated sugar; 1 ½ tbsp runny honey; 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Raspberry Cream: 100ml double cream; ½ tsp vanilla paste (optional); 50g fresh or frozen raspberries

Step One:  First melt the chocolate, either in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water or gently in the microwave (on medium for bursts of 30 seconds).

Step Two:  Next, whisk the egg whites to firm peaks with a tiny pinch of salt, then slowly add the sugar and keep whisking until you have stiff peaks.

Step Three:  Lightly beat the egg yolks, then add to the slightly cooled chocolate and use a whisk to combine.  Gently fold in about a third of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture to loosen it, then fold in the rest.  Pour into a serving dish (or small glasses) and leave to set for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.

Step Four:  For the honeycomb shards, line a large tray with baking paper.  Combine the sugar, honey and 1 ½ tablespoons of water in a tall, heavy-based pan and heat until it registers 154oC (310oF) on a sugar thermometer.  This is called the ‘cracking stage’.  If you don’t have a thermometer, test by dropping a little of the syrup into a bowl of cold water and then fishing out the result: if it is still stretchy, keep cooking: if it ‘snaps’, it is ready.

Step Five:  Take the pan off the heat and sift in the bicarbonate of soda.  Be careful – the mixture is hot and it will foam and rise up the pan.  Stir with a wooden spoon until combined, then pour it onto the baking sheet, getting it as thin as you can and smoothing it out with a spatula.  Leave the honeycomb for at least 15 minutes to set.  Store in a cool, dry place – but not the fridge, or it will go sticky.

Step Six:  Just before serving, make the raspberry cream.  Whip the cream and vanilla to soft peaks.  Fold through the raspberries, crushing them a little as you go to give pretty red streaks, then spoon over the mousse.  Break honeycomb into shards and use to decorate.

Espresso Bourbon Cake

Espresso bourbon cakeThis recipe is courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Serves: 8-12   –   Prep time: 30 mins plus time for cake to cool   –
Cook time:  40 mins

Ingredients:  225g (7oz) unsalted butter; 4 shots (approx. 120ml / 3 ½ fl oz) of good espresso; 110g (3 ½ oz) cocoa powder; 200g (6 ½ oz) caster sugar; 220g (7oz) dark brown soft sugar; 2 eggs; 75ml (2 ½ fl oz) bourbon; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 280g (9oz) plain flour; 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda; ½ tsp salt

  1. Heat the oven to 170oC (gas mark 3).  Grease a 20cm (8 in) round cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.  Place the butter in a large saucepan and melt, then stir in the espresso and cocoa powder.  Add both sugars and the eggs and whisk thoroughly.  Add 3 tblsp of the bourbon and the vanilla extra and set aside.
  2. Place the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a large mixing bowl and sift twice. Slowly pour the espresso mixture into the flour mixture. Stir until well combined.  The mixture should be very liquid.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin.  Bake for 28-35 minutes.  A wooden skewer inserted in the middle should come out with almost no crumbs attached and the middle of the cake, when pressed, should spring back slightly instead of sink. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes if necessary.
  4. Remove from the oven and let cool in the tin for 10 minutes.  Slide a table knife all around the edge to loosen the cake, then remove from the tin. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 1 hour.  Brush the remaining bourbon over the top before cutting in half horizontally and filling with frosting of your choice.

Cake Layer Guide:

Recipe taken from this book:

Classic Fudge Brownies

This recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Classic fudge browniesDo you like yours fudgy and soft in the centre, or cake-like and full of nuts?  There are probably more variations on the basic brownie than any other chocolate treat. These are definitely the gooey version.  Brownies need no decorating, serve as they are with perhaps a dusting of cocoa or icing sugar.

Makes : 15  –  Prep time : 20 mins  –  Cook time : 25 mins

Ingredients:  300g (10oz) dark chocolate, roughly chopped (look for chocolate with at least 50% cocoa solids); 300g (10oz) unsalted butter, chopped; 5 free-range eggs; 400g (13oz) caster sugar; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 150g (5oz) plain flour; 50g (1 ¾ oz) cocoa powder; ½ tsp baking powder; pinch of salt; 100g (3 ½ oz) dark chocolate chips

  1. Heat the oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).  Grease a shallow 20 x 30cm (8 x 12 in) baking tin and line with baking paper (leave a little overhanging the two long sides to help remove the brownies from the tin).
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth (make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water).  All to cool.
  3. Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer and beat for about 4 minutes or until thick, pale and fluffy.  Beat in the cooled chocolate mixture.
  4. Sift in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt and fold in using a large metal spoon, until smooth.  Gently fold in the chocolate chips.  Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth the surface.
  5. Bake for 30-35 mins or until the top has formed a crust. It should be firm to the touch but still a bit moist in the centre.  Allow to cool in the tin, then remove and cut into squares. Store the brownies in an airtight container for up to 2 days.