Tag Archive | Chocolate

Advent Calendar Day 1: Research

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Can you believe it’s been two months since I last wrote a blog post? Sorry.

I’m working too hard; long hours, day in, day out… every day. I am enjoying the new job (most of the time), but it leaves me little time to bake or blog. It’s heart breaking because I feel that my life is running away from me.

Anyway… It’s December 1st and for the third year in a row, I’m going to try and bring you my Advent calendar to mark the 24 day run up to Christmas. Who needs chocolate behind a little window when you can have recipes and fun behind every post!

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I’ve started flicking through my Christmas cook book collection for ideas and inspiration. I’ve also looked back over last year’s posts to remind myself of some great recipes.

I’d forgotten all about Sharon Hearne-Smith’s No Bake Baking book. Last year I made her flash florentines and substituted some of the fruit and nuts with others, as she suggested.

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Ingredients:
50g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
100g soft brown light sugar
50g creme fraiche
1 piece of stem ginger, finely chopped
150g nuts (I used almonds and hazelnuts)
100g cranberries
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g chocolate

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I melted the butter in a medium pan over a low heat. I added the sugars and turned up the heat, stirring for 5 minutes until smooth and gooey.

Then I carefully stired in the creme fraiche, stirring over a high heat until the sugars dissolved and the mixture thickened.

I removed the mixture from the heat and stired in the fruit, ginger, nuts, bicarb and vanilla.

I dropped the mixture onto a lined baking sheet, flattening into discs and left them to cool in the fridge.

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Once the florentines were set, I melted the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of water. I allowed the chocolate to cool before spreading the back of each florentine with chocolate, popping it back on the tray and back in the fridge.

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Melissa xx

White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake

It’s been a whole month since I last wrote or posted anything.

Life has been extremely busy.

The new job is taking up my time- far too much of my time, if I’m honest. Don’t get me wrong, I love it but I seem to have abandoned everything else. That’s not ok. So, sitting at the kitchen table, with a cuppa and a pile of books… I’m back!

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August was bonkers. We had lots of visitors, so in between work I managed to do a bit of baking. I wish I had time to bake more often. I find myself commuting to work dreaming of baking. Life is so hard!!!

One of the quick, easy recipes I used this summer was from the Cooks Academy in Dublin. Their White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake has been a favourite recipe at the school for the last ten years. It’s the perfect dessert for entertaining and thanks to Tim, Vanessa and Darina I pulled it off!

White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake

Ingredients:
180g ginger nut biscuits
50g butter, melted
400g cream cheese
60g caster sugar
½ lemon, zested, and juiced
300g good quality white chocolate, chopped
300ml fresh cream, stiffly whipped
250g fresh raspberries

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Method:
Crush the biscuits in a plastic bag with a rolling pin, until they resemble breadcrumbs.  Stir the melted butter thoroughly into the biscuits.  Press into the base of a greased 20cm tin and chill in the fridge for 10 mins until the base is slightly hardened. 

Using an electric whisk, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest and juice, until smooth.  

Melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water.  Once melted, slowly pour the chocolate into the beaten ingredients, whisking as you do so.  Fold in the whipped cream. 

To assemble the cheesecake, scatter half the raspberries over the biscuit base and pour half the cream filling over.  Repeat with the remaining raspberries and filling and level the top with the back of a spoon.  Leave to chill in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight.

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If you fancy doing a short course at the Cooks Academy too, they are offering 20% off on their website until Friday 4th September.

Melissa xx

Chocolate Skillery

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Last night I attended a Chocolate Skillery evening hosted by Food and Wine Magazine in Dublin. They were showcasing the fantastic Dr Oetker chocolate products with the help of Irish chef Andrew Rudd. His establishment, Medley, was buzzing with 40 guests eager to learn more about chocolate.

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Creme Anglaise

He cooked up some fabulous chocolate treats using Dr Oetker’s chocolate which has been designed specifically for the home baker. Creamy creme patissiere with Tia Maria and silky creme anglaise both using the excellent 72% chocolate.

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Creme Pat

There are loads of fantastic recipes on the Dr Oetker website including the Dark Chocolate and Pistachio Bark and the Caramel Kiss Chocolate Brownies that I tasted last night. Andrew explained that you can add chilli pepper or sea salt to the caramel in the brownies too. You can also seperate the egg whites from the yolks when mixing into the batter to give the brownies a couple of extra days shelf life!

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Brownies

I was fascinated by the light, crunchie chocolate covered honeycomb that he made and am sharing the recipe here….

Ingredients
For the Honeycomb:
Dr. Oetker Cake Release Spray
150g Granulated Sugar
30ml Dr. Oetker Liquid Glucose
30ml Honey
Dr. Oetker Bicarbonate of Soda Sachets x 2 (2 tsp)
100g Dr. Oetker Fine Cooks’ Milk Chocolate

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Spray a deep 18cm (7inch) square cake tin with Cake Release Spray to grease. Place the sugar in a large saucepan with the Liquid Glucose, honey and 30ml (2 tbsp) of water. Heat and stir gently, until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and cook, without stirring, for about 3 minutes until the mixture turns a deep, golden caramel.

Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the Bicarbonate of Soda thoroughly – the mixture will immediately foam in the saucepan. Quickly pour into the prepared tin whilst still foaming. Leave to cool and set and carefully remove from the tin. Put upside down on a board lined with baking parchment.

Break the chocolate into small pieces and place into a large heatproof bowl. Stand over a bowl of barely simmering water until melted. Remove from the water and cool for 10 minutes.

Pour the chocolate on top of the honeycomb. Tap the board gently so that the chocolate runs down the sides smoothly and evenly. Stand in a cool place to set – only refrigerate if the air temperature is warm and chill for 30 minutes maximum.

When the chocolate has set, cut the honeycomb into chunks using a large bladed knife. Store the honeycomb in an airtight container between layers of greaseproof paper.

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The tasting plate we were served included chocolate and pistachio bark, chocolate curls and a chocolate and caramel brownie, but my favourite by miles was the chocolate covered honeycomb!

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I had a great evening and came away with a lovely Dr Oetker chocolate goodie bag, it’ll be a very happy Easter indeed!

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Melissa xx

Guinness Chocolate cake

It’s nearly St Patrick’s Day and every foodie in the land seems to be posting an alcoholic cake of some sort, (not helping the Irish stereotype of course), so I thought I would too! I’ve only ever used alcohol in Christmas cakes, never in a normal cake, so this was an interesting challenge. It would have bee easy to have used Donal Skehan’s recipe, or Nigella’s but I decided I’d amend one of my own.

2015-03-13-09-30-23_decoI didn’t take any photographs while I was making the cake as I was making dinner at the time, but the recipe is easy!

Ingredients:

100g butter
150g brown sugar
2 eggs
200g plain flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoon cocoa powder
100 ml Guinness
80ml milk

2015-03-13-09-34-06_decoButter Icing:
75g butter
125g icing sugar
50ml Irish Cream Liqueur

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line a 10inch cake pan. Cream the butter and sugar together and then beat in the eggs one by one.  Sift in the dry ingredients and fold together with a metal spoon. Pour in the milk and Guinness and mix. Place in the oven for about 34-40 minutes.

2015-03-13-09-32-06_decoRemove the cake from the oven and leave to cool completely. Meanwhile, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and mix with the butter. Slowly add in the liqueur and then leave mixture to firm up slightly. Finally, spread the icing over the cooled chocolate cake and serve!

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The cake turned out lovely and moist! So I’m taking what is left of it to Angie’s place. Happy Fiesta Friday….. AND HAPPY ST PATRICK’S DAY TOO!!!

Melissa xx

P.S. I received a lovely gift from a local company today, so watch out for a second St. Patrick’s Day post next week!

Advent Calendar Day 20: Edible goodie round up

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It’s the weekend before Christmas, so I thought I’d bring you a collection of all the edible pressies I’ve made just on case you need a last minute gift!

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Delicious mince pie with homemade mincemeat in flakey puff pastry.

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Fabulous no-bake festive florentines with cranberries and nuts.

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Special chocolate shimmer cakes.

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Crazy oreo pops with an assortment of sprinkles.

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Cranberry, Malteser and marshmallow rocky road.

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Stunning Forrero Rocher cupcakes for very special people!

Melissa xx

Advent Calendar Day 19: Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes

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Back in October, Selma made
ambassador cupcakes using Ferrero Rocher chocolates for her son’s birthday. They looked so luxurious and elegant, that I tucked the idea away for Christmas….

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So fast forward two months and armed with Selma’s idea, two boxes of chocolates, some gold cupcake cases and some shimmer spray, I’m ready! I’m using my trusty chocolate cake mix instead of Selma’s, but I’ll use her’s next time.

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Chocolate cupcake Ingredients:
100g butter
150g brown sugar
2 eggs
200g plain flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoon cocoa powder
180ml milk
1 box of Forrero Rocher

Topping:
1 can of chocolate icing
1 can gold shimmer spray
Toasted Hazelnuts
1 box of Forrero Rocher

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Line a cupcake tin with foil cases. Preheat the oven to 190°/ gas mark 5 or turn your Rayburn off! Cream the butter and sugar, then add in the eggs. Sift in all the dry ingredients and then add the milk.

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Spoon the mixture into the cases until half full. Pop a chocolate in the middle and spoon a small amount of mixture on top. Pop into the oven for 15 minutes.

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Once cooled, pipe chocolate icing on top of the cake. Then, depending on how high your icing is, place a whole chocolate on top (or a half like I did). Sprinkle with hazelnuts and spray with shimmer!!!!

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I’m bringing these delights to Angie’s for a festive fiesta friday!

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6 more sleeps!!!

Melissa xx

Advent Calendar Day 18: Rocky Road

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I haven’t forgotten to post today, I’ve jusy been mad busy making Christmas goodies….

If you need a last minute gift for a teacher or friend them Nigella’s Christmas rocky road is perfect. It’s extremely quick, easy and adaptable. I’ve changed the original recipe from her book Nigella’s Christmas, adding in cranberries, Maltesers and digistives.

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Ingredients :
400 grams milk chocolate
175 grams soft butter
4 tablespoons golden syrup
200 grams amaretti biscuits/digestives
150 grams Maltesers
100 grams cranberries
200grams mini marshmallows
1 tablespoon icing sugar
edible glitter

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Chop the chocolate small and then put into a heavy-based pan to melt with the butter and syrup over a gentle heat.

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Break up all the biscuits and Maltesers; you want some pieces to crunch and some sandy rubble.

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Take the pan off the heat, and add the crushed biscuits, Maltesers, cranberries and mini-marshmallows. Turn carefully to coat everything with syrupy chocolate.

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Tip into a tray ( 9¼ x 12 inches), smoothing the top as best you can, although it will look bumpy. Refrigerate until firm enough to cut, which will take about 1½–2 hours.

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Melt the white chocolate and pour over the top, and refrigerate for several minutes. Finally sprinkle with glitter…

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Melissa xx

Advent Calendar Day 12: Shimmery Cupcakes

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It’s 12th December and I’m half way through my Advent calendar…. I hope you are all enjoying it?

So it’s Fiesta Friday once again and I’m bringing another shimmery explosion to Angie’s place!

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I made some wonderfully colourful cupcakes for my Godson and his family. I knew he’d be excited about Christmas when I visited, so I wanted to bring him something special.

The shimmery cupcake recipe is a perfect one to do with children, it’s very simple to do. It uses my fail safe chocolate muffin recipe with shop bought icing.

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Chocolate cupcake Ingredients:
100g butter
150g brown sugar
2 eggs
200g plain flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoon cocoa powder
180ml milk

Topping:
1 can of chocolate icing
1 can gold shimmer spray
1 can silver shimmer spray

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Line a cupcake tin with foil cases. Preheat the oven to 190°/ gas mark 5 or turn your Rayburn off! Cream the butter and sugar, then add in the eggs. Sift in all the dry ingredients and then add the milk. Spoon the mixture into the cases.

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Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, then leave to cool completely.

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I used the cupcake icing to top each cake and left them to set.

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I covered the table with newspaper and starting spraying! It was great fun building up the shimmery layers.

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My Godson thanked me for the cupcakes by drawing me a beautiful picture. I hope Santa can bring me a tiara like the one in the drawing!

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Melissa xx

Advent Calendar Day 8: Brownies

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I posted about Chocolate Brownies a few months ago and I thought Christmas was the perfect time of year to reblog it again!

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Ingredients:
375g soft butter
375g dark chocolate
6 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
500g caster sugar
225g plain flour
Pinch of salt
300g walnuts

Decoration:
100g white chocolate
Silver balls (edible)!

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Method:
Preheat the oven to 180 ° C / gas mark 4. Line a brownie pan (all of it) with parchment paper.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large heavy based pan. In a bowl beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla. In another bowl, sieve in the flour and add the salt.

When the chocolate mix has melted,  let it cool a bit before beating in the eggs and sugar,  then the nuts and flour. Beat until smooth, scrapping the saucepan into the tin.

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Melissa xx

Halloween Profiteroles

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Happy Halloween

As you know, I blog from my mobile phone, meaning I use the WordPress app instead of sitting at my laptop (I just don’t get the time). Blogging on the go is so easy and convenient.

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Scary stuff

However recently I haven’t been getting many posts into the ‘blogs I follow’ page. At first I just presumed that you were all too busy to blog, but the other day my very own post didn’t appear…. Even after hours of refreshing the page nothing happened. I even uninstalled and then reinstalled the app. Still nothing.

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I’m sorry that I haven’t been visiting your blog, but i’ve made Halloween profiteroles for you all to make amends! Oh, and one more thing…. This is the last post that my rubbish SD card will ruin. I’ve lost the photos of the choux pastry process! You’ll be glad to know that i’ve now taken the SD card out of my phone and banished it to the depths of The Glen House…

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Chocolate Profiteroles

Ingredients:
For the choux pastry
200ml cold water
1/2 tsp caster sugar
85g unsalted butter, diced small
Pinch of salt
115g strong flour
3 medium eggs beaten

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Place the butter, water, pinch of salt and sugar into a pan. Place over a low heat until the butter has melted and the liquid looks milky. Then increase the heat and allow the mix to come to the boil, as it starts to boil take it off the heat and add the flour and mix well. Return to the heat for a couple of minutes and beat vigorously until a smooth paste is formed.

Once the paste curls away from the side of the pan take it off the heat and let it cool. Beat in the eggs one by one, stirring vigorously until the paste is smooth and glossy.

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Place the mixture into a piping bag and allo. I find standing the filled bag in a glass makes it easier to manage.

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Pipe the mix onto a lined baking tray. Rub the top of the piped mix (on the right) with a wet finger (on the left) to ensure a crisper top. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Don’t open the oven. Remove the buns from the oven and prick the base of each one. Place back on the back on the baking tray with the hole facing upwards and return to the oven for a couple of minutes. This will help dry out the middle of the bun.

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For the cream filling:
450ml cream
1 tbsp icing sugar

Lightly whip the cream and icing sugar until soft peaks are formed. When the profiteroles are cold, using a piping bag fill the holes in the buns.

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Filling with cream

For the chocolate topping:
100ml cream
175g good quality chocolate

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Break the chocolate up and add to a bowl with the cream over a pan of hot water. Stir until glossy and then allow to cool a little.

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Halloween Profiteroles

Happy Halloween! Join me over at Angie’s blog The Novice Gardener for her weekly #FiestaFriday party!

Melissa xx
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