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Archive for the ‘chocolate’ Category

Cake!

Chocolate Orange Cake

I don’t know what it is, there must be something in the air, but there seems to be a bit of a theme running around a few of my favourite food blogs at the moment. Perhaps it’s that subtle changing of the season, that slight chill in the morning air and the whisper of Autumn on the wind. Like a lot of people, I love the Autumn, but at the same time I’m a little sad to be thinking of saying goodbye to the Summer. And when one’s feeling a little bit sad and perhaps a little insecure at the thought of the long Winter ahead, what better comfort than a fresh, home-baked cake. Something about baking a cake reminds me of home and Mum and the time in my life when I didn’t have to worry about anything past homework and making mix tapes from the radio. Well, and glitter hair gel.

It’s not often I bake an entire cake. There are only two of us, after all, and it seems such an extravagance when you know most of it isn’t going to be eaten. So other than Birthdays and fancy holidays I tend to stick to little things which can be frozen or sent off with Mr P to work to be shared around his office. But I haven’t been feeling the greatest the last couple of days, like having an almost-cold, where your head feels too heavy for your neck and all you want to do is sit and, well, Sit. And all I really wanted, in the whole world, was Cake.

When in the mood for an edible hug, you don’t want to go getting all fancy and frilly, you just want a good ol’ fashioned something, so I baked up a quick but delicious Victoria Sponge, dolloped a whole lot of Kumquat jam in the middle and smothered it in a rich Chocolate Ganache. Oh, and not only was it super yum-ti-dum, but the art of making something great in the kitchen magically lifted my mood. I hardly even cared about eating it in the end! Okay, I’m lying now.

*note: I learned from Nigella Lawson to put a little cornflour in with the flour. It lightens the cake a lot.

Chocolate Orange Cake 2


Chocolate Orange Victoria Sponge

for the cake:
200 g unsalted butter, very soft
150 g caster sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
200 g Flour
20 g corn flour
2 tsp baking powder
3 – 4 Tbsp milk

for the ganache:
100 g dark chocolate, chopped (I used Calebaut 70%)
60 ml cream
1 Tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch ground cinnamon

Kumquat jam or orange marmalade

– preheat the oven to 350˚ F

– beat the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy

– beat in the vanilla

– add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each with a 1 Tbsp of the flour

– mix the flours and baking powder together and fold into the cake mix

– lighten the mixture with as much of the milk as you need

– bake in 2 greased, lined cake tins at 350˚F for 20 – 25 mins

– let the cakes cool completely before making the ganache

– put the all the ganache ingredients in a small saucepan over a low heat, stirring continuously until the chocolate is melted.

– when the choc mix is smooth, bring to the boil for not more than one minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool and thicken a bit before icing the cake. You want it to pour over the cake, but not just run right off.

– when the cake and ganache are ready, place four strips of paper in a square on the plate you’re serving the cake on, leaving the middle bare. Place the bottom layer on the plate, spread a generous amount of jam on it and put the second layer on top. Cover with ganache, letting it run here and there down the sides. When the ganache has set and stopped running, remove the strips of paper and your plate will be clean and neat!

Chocolate Orange Cake 3

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Banana chocolate tarts with coconut

While away camping in Algonquin we had something for dessert that I haven’t had in a million years. I watched the shiny parcels being made up and carefully placed in the hot, glowing coals of a camp fire and as the packages were eventually passed around, one at a time, the silver foil peeled back and the sweet steam billowed into fire-lit faces, I felt eons and ages dissolving from my soul like the shadows of night at the dawn. I was a child again for a while; I was 5, I was 7, I was 11 years old gleefully eating baked banana’s with chocolate oozing out of them. That weekend had many moments that will stay with me forever, and that will be one of the top ones. This is a slightly less messy, more grown up approach, but just as yummy.

*ps/ I sneakily made a double batch of the pastry from the peach tart, which I used here. Use your own taste when making these tarts up as to the choc/coconut/banana ratio. Amounts are only a guide.

Banana chocolate tarts with coconut 2

Chocolate Banana Tarts with Coconut

6 Pate Brise lined mini tart tins (5″)

90 ml dark chocolate spread (or use a hazelnut choc spread like Nutella)
60 ml dessicated coconut
3 large banana’s, thinly sliced
30 ml white sugar
30 ml light brown (blonde) sugar

– preheat your oven to 400˚F

– Spread 1 Tbsp choc spread on the base of each tart shell

– divide the coconut between the tarts (about 2 tsp each)

– arrange the banana slices over the coconut

– mix the two sugars in a small bowl

– sprinkle half the sugar over the tarts, reserve the rest

– bake the tarts for about 20 mins.

– Sprinkle remaining sugar over banana’s. Caramelise with a blow torch until sugar is golden.

– alternatively, grill under a hot grill in your oven for a few minutes, but keep an eye on them so as not to burn the pastry.

Banana chocolate tarts with coconut 3

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Black Forest Clafouti

Cherry Clafouti seems to be the most classic of Clafoutis, and while I’m most usually a classic girl at heart, now and then I like to laugh in the face of danger, flirt with the wild side and generally throw caution to the thermal currents of a hot oven. Mr P was sitting on the couch yesterday afternoon and had a sudden craving for chocolate when the thought came over me. What could possibly be yummier than fresh, sweet black cherries and the smooth, slightly bitter velvetiness of dark chocolate mixing in one sensual mouthful? Thankfully, we always keep some good chocolate in the house, Just In Case.

It being about the right time for afternoon tea, I snatched the bar of chocolate right from his hands, dashed into the kitchen and whipped up a dish of Clafoutis with Bing cherries and Cote d’Or dark 70% chocolate. The recipe for the batter I borrowed from Ceres & Bacchus but used 3 cups of dark Bing cherries, with the pits still in, and about 80g of Cote d’Or Noir de Noir 70%, chopped. Serve with fresh, whipped cream and a cup of Ceylon for the ultimate tea time treat.

Black Forest Clafouti 2

Noir de Noir Cote d’Or

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Chocolate Cake with Raspberries

One of the toughest parts of relocating to a far and distant land is that your loved ones, your friends and family, become far and distant in their own right. Celebrations become a little bitter sweet events spent with fewer people and often thinking of the loved ones you wish were there. When a couple of expat friends celebrated their Birthdays days apart and had a celebratory picnic in the park I offered to bake a cake. And with all their family as far from them as ours are from us… well. What’s a Birthday without cake?

They asked for Chocolate. This one is almost very nearly flour free, and dense and gooey. Too rich for a ganache or icing I opted to make use of the berry season and covered it in the Raspberry and Orange Flower jam I’d made a few weeks ago and some gorgeous, dark red raspberries; not the jelly-red, candy looking giant, red lumps you see in the store all through the year. Oh my. It was good.

Chocolate Cake with Raspberries 2

note: this recipe uses only a few ingredients, so use the very best you can find because you’ll taste the difference!

This cake is great the day after, but brilliant served hot like a pudding with

Chocolate Cake with Rapsberries 70% Callebaut and butter in bain marie

to make a small, 5½ inch cake:

100g dark chocolate (I used Callebaut 70%)
100g good unsalted butter
100g light brown sugar
small pinch salt
2 eggs
2 Tbsp flour
tiny pinch ground cardamom

– preheat oven to 350˚F

– grease and flour a 5½ inch spring form cake tin. Line bottom with parchment.

– in a bain marie, melt chocolate and butter and stir until fully mixed.

– when chocolate is smooth and liquid, add sugar and salt. Mix and remove from heat.

– add eggs one at a time and mix well between each.

– Add flour and cardamom and mix.

– pour into cake tin and bake about 20 mins until firm on the outside and slightly sticky in the middle. Allow to cool thoroughly before decorating.

for a normal sized cake: double the ingredients and bake for 25 – 35 mins

choc-raspberry-cake-picnic.jpg

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White Choc Mousse with Red Currant Sour Cherry

Three egg whites and a secret, long kept desire to make white chocolate mousse. I’ve developed a real taste for white chocolate over the last few weeks. I’ve been making white chocolate and macadamia nut muffins and chucking a cup in with the dark chocolate when making choc chip cookies, but somehow an entire dessert of white chocolate seemed far too cloying to be a success. But cut the extreme sweetness with some tart, sour berries and voila! Success! The berry confit I made from the red currants and sour cherries perfectly complements the white chocolate of the mousse. Yum!

White Chocolate Mousse with Red Currant Sour Cherry Confit

for the confit:Sour Berries

(best made a day or so ahead)

1 punnet red currants, destalked
1 punnet small, red sour cherries, pitted
½ cup sugar

– put a saucer in the freezer

– in two separate, large, heavy based pots
bring the berries to the boil with ½ cup of
water each. Simmer until tender, about 10 mins.

– using a potato masher, mash the currants.
Add cherries to currant pot.

– add the sugar and bring to a hard simmer, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens a bit, about 15 mins.

-remove saucer from freezer and put a drop of the conserve on it. When the edges wrinkle when pushed with your finger, the conserve is ready. Bottle in a sterilised jam jar.

for the mousse: (adapted from the Callebaut website, which is the couverture I used for this)

230 – 250 g white chocolate, chopped
80 ml milk
3 large egg whites
200 ml whipping cream

-melt the chocolate in a bain marie

-warm the milk, do not allow to boil

– remove chocolate from stove once melted. Transfer to a bowl and add milk. Mix until smooth.

– whip egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold into chocolate mixture.

– whip cream and gently fold into chocolate mixture.

– divide mousse into two parts. Gently fold about 60 – 80 ml currant and cherry conserve into one half.

– place 1 Tbsp berry conserve into the bottom of each serving glass/bowl. Divide white mousse between bowls. Carefully pour berry mouse into centre of each bowl

– refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Can be made the day ahead, so it’s a great, easy dessert recipe for dinner guests.

 

White chocolate mouse with redcurrant sour cherry conserve

 

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Spicy Mayan Chocolate Mousse

Who doesn’t love a bit of chocolate? I’ve gone, through the years, from gorging myself on sweet, Cadbury’s Milks Chocolate as child at easter, to savouring a small piece of dark, almost black, 88% cocoa under my tongue in a sort of ecstasy. On lazy Sunday afternoons in the Winter, the ever-present Winter sun of the Highveld would stream through our living room windows and we would all sit around, as a family, on the floor or the sofas, reading consecutive bits of the Sunday Paper and nibbling on the 3 or 4 slabs of chocolate my Mom had bought earlier on.  Mint or Topdeck were my nibbles of choice.  I loved to split the white from the dark on the Topdeck to melt each in my mouth separately.

I was really only introduced to the idea of adding chili to chocolate a few years ago in an ice-cream confection in a cosy restaurant in Johannesburg. The idea of adding a spice used traditionally in savoury dishes to a sweet scoop of ice-cream was both foreign and exhilarating to me, and I was hooked straight away. What a combination!

Spicy Mayan Chocolate Mousse

200 g dark chocolate (60 – 70 %)
120 ml heavy cream
4 tsp sugar
6 egg whites
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp cayene pepper
¼ tsp ground cloves

– melt chocolate in a large bain marie

– Heat cream with spices until just boiling, remove from heat

– Add cream to chocolate and mix until mixture thickens and is completely smooth

– Whip egg whites until soft peaks form. Add sugar and continue whipping until stiff, but not dry

– Take about 2 Tbsp egg white and mix into chocolate mix to lighten. Gently fold in the rest of the egg white in 4 batches until incorporated

– Makes 6 – 8 individual portions or one large bowl

– Refrigerate for at least an hour before eating, can be made the day before.

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