Tag Archives: chocolate

I wanna be a trillionaire…so freaking bad…

WARNING…only complete chocoholics should venture further…

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to the latest addition to my baking repertoire…trillionaire’s tart…

or as I like to think of it…millionaire’s shortbread on steroids.

Rich buttery chocolate shortbread, topped with a layer of creamy, smooth, chocolate caramel, finished off with a marbled coating of milk and dark chocolate…not one for the faint hearted!

Here’s how to make it for yourselves…

Line a 20cm x 30cm tray with baking paper and preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Layer 1 – chocolate shortbread

160g unsalted butter

100g caster sugar

100g plain flour

25g cocoa

140g ground almonds

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale, sift in the flour and cocoa and stir in the ground almonds. Press into the tin and bake for 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Layer 2 – gooey chocolate caramel

175g unsalted butter

175g light brown soft sugar

450g sweetened condensed milk

4tbsp golden syrup

50g dark chocolate

and the magic ingredient…1/2tsp sea salt

Put all of the above ingredients into a pan and heat gently, stirring until all of the sugar has dissolved. Bring it to the boil and then simmer briskly for about 8 minutes until it has thickened. Pour over the shortbread base, make sure it’s spread evenly and leave for about 1 hour until it is completely cold.

Layer 3 – marbled chocolate topping

100g dark chocolate

200g milk chocolate

Melt both chocolate’s separately in bowls over simmering water. Pour the milk chocolate over the caramel and then drizzle over the dark chocolate and use your implement of choice to swirl them together making a pretty pattern.

Leave it to cool, cut into squares and there you have it…the most delicious slice of chocolatey goodness that’ll have you registering with your nearest chocoholics anonymous (or more realistically…weight watchers)!…

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Ruby ruby ruby ruby rubyyy…

I’m currently recovering from a very tiring but rewarding weekend. I embarked upon my biggest catering job to date, which I mentioned in passing a couple of weeks ago here. It was my friend Hannah’s parents Ruby Wedding Anniversary party and I somehow single-handedly churned out canapes and a hot fork buffet for 40 hungry revellers. I’d completely under estimated the amount of preparation time that’d be required and worked solidly all day Friday and Saturday with Han’s dad keeping me sane with a continuous supply of tunes from his ipod – bless him! 

Even though I was using an old, faithful recipe for a chocolate fudge cake that I’ve made loads of times before and had already experimented scaling it up here it was soooo much scarier tackling the real deal…12 inches, 2 layers and 10 bitten nails worth of chocolate fudge cake (rest assured no nail clippings went anywhere near the cake!)…

sandwiched and coated in litres of chocolate fudge ganache gooeyness…

and decorated with dark chocolate dipped strawberries, raspberries and my handwritten scrawl…

I was pretty happy with the finished article and luckily so were the happy couple. 

I usually make the standard 8 inch cake but to scale it up for a 12 inch cake you just need to use double quantities for each 12 inch layer (eg. 350g butter, 350g sugar, 6 eggs etc).

Here’s the recipe for the 8 incher, because after all who’s really going to be making a 12 inch monstrosity eh??…

175g unsalted butter

175g golden caster sugar

3 eggs, beaten

3tbsp golden syrup

40g ground almonds

175g self raising flour

pinch of salt

40g cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line 2 x 8inch cake tins.

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs. Stir in the syrup and ground almonds, these 2 ingredients add amazing moistness to the cake. Sift the flour, salt and cocoa powder into the bowl and fold in gently. Add a little water, if necessary, to make the cake batter a dropping consistency. Divide between the tins and bake for 30-35 minutes or until they spring back when touched and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. I tend to err towards a shorter cooking time as I like it to be really fudgy although be careful as there’s a bit of a fine line between fudgy and undercooked 🙂

Leave the cakes in their tins for 5 minutes or so and then turn out to cool on a wire rack. While the cakes are cooking and cooling you can make a start on the ganache icing…  

225g plain chocolate, broken into pieces

55g dark muscovado sugar

225g unsalted butter, diced

5tbsp evaporated milk

1/2tsp vanilla essence

Put all of the ganache ingredients into a heavy based saucepan and heat gently, stirring constantly until melted. It’s really important that you don’t leave this unattended or over heat as it will become grainy. I’ve learnt that the hard way and although it still tastes good, the texture and appearance is compromised somewhat. Pour the melted mixture into a bowl and chill in the fridge for about an hour until spreadable.

Use the ganache to sandwich and cover the cake. And there, my friends, you have it…a moist, dense chocolate fudge cake with gorgeous, gooey, heart attack inducing icing…enjoy!

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I baked a 12 inch cake, quartered it and piled it up with some very naughty chocolate fudge ganache to make the hugest, comedy slice of chocolate fudge cake in the world for my friend Nic’s birthday!

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24/10/2010 · 5:46 pm

The trauma of competitive baking…

A few weeks ago in a moment of spotaneous madness I entered myself into a Great Brownie Bake Off being organised by Louise from the Chocolate Consulltancy. I’d recently made a successful batch of brownie’s as blogged here and was feeling confident. I took the competition very seriously and spent Friday night diligently baking what I hoped would be my winning brownie’s (wishful thinking maybe). On Saturday morning I transported them to Look Mum No Hands in time for the 1pm deadline.

The place was packed and at this point my nerves really kicked in. But luckily Louise had lined up a whole day of chocolate based baking demonstrations, which took my mind off the competition. I watched Fred Ponnavoy, Head Chef at GU

whip up an amazing banoffee style chocolate desert…

and then a GU Pear Belle Helene, which was made up of pear poached in vanilla, layered with mascarpone cream with green cardamom, GU chocolate ganache and topped with caramelised puffed rice mmm…

At this point there was a break in demonstrations whilst the judging commenced. There were 25 brownie entrants and 11 judges…

It was all very official and the judges took it very seriously. I was intrigued by the whole process so got closer to get a better look. I made the mistake of watching the panel taste my entry…

I’d taken a bit of a risk by submitting a brownie containing pear and brazil nuts and hoped that the judges wouldn’t be brownie purists. It was a totally nerve wracking experience watching the judges cogitate and deliberate over my humble brownie and if I’m honest I don’t think my gamble paid off.

I backed off, left them to it and watched some more demonstrations including one by Edd Kimber, winner of the Great British Bake Off who made Chocolate and Banana Whoopie Pies

I also drank copious amounts of coffee and Suki Tea

At 5.45pm the winner was announced…Louise M’s brownie’s were apparently the best by far! It was a real shame that she wasn’t there to collect her prize, she’d gone home early, convinced that her brownie’s were underbaked! Unfortunately, I wasn’t lucky enough to have tasted the winning entry.

In my quest to constantly improve my baking skills I was interested to find out the feedback that my brownie’s had received from the judges so I collected my score cards and read their comments. I kind of wish I hadn’t…’cloying’, ‘too loose’, ‘textures didn’t quite work together’, ‘dominant vanilla note’ but…I’m clinging to the fact that the most common observation was along the lines that it was ‘a nice cake but not a brownie’ so I guess it’s not all bad. It was a fun day but I left feeling a little deflated and now have a renewed respect for all the entrants in my Birthday Cake Bake Off…competitive baking is a pretty traumatic experience!

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The taste of victory!

At long last Saturday 2nd October, the day I’d been eagerly awaiting since February when I started organising my birthday party, finally dawned and brought with it the most awful weather and rain of monsoon-like proportions. This most inauspicious of days saw my friends battling the elements clutching cake tins, tupperware and highly inventive home styled cake carrying devices from far and wide on public transport to take part in…

I don’t do anything by halves and with the help of my glamorous, graphic design assistant, Hannah we were all set with posters stating the rules and even official voting slips!…

You may recall that the original rules stated all entries had to be at the venue by 8pm but I started receiving panic stricken calls and texts begging for an extension due to inclement weather. So the deadline went out the window and a steady stream of entries arrived…better late than never I say…

Entry number 1 was my friend Marky’s Lemon and Sour Cream Cake (A Godfrey Family Recipe), which was essentially a shed load of sugar, some flour, 6 eggs, rind of one lemon and some sour cream, mixed up and baked slowly for 1.5 hrs. A simple, classic but perfectly formed creation I’m sure you’ll agree…

Entrant number 2 was Zannah with her star spangled hummingbird cake with vanilla bean icing…

Number 3 was from Han, graphics whizz…chocolate chip cupcakes with an espresso baileys cream cheese topping and there sure was a definite Baileys kick going on! And…she had a double tier cupcake carrier…this lady means business!…

Number 4, from Jennie and Mark, arrived looking like a clingfilm wrapped space ship but when unveiled was in fact a gorgeous sticky toffee banoffee cake, consisting of a banana sponge with a caramel banana whipped cream and mascarpone filling, topped with more caramel whipped cream and mascarpone and finished off with chocolate sprinkles and special happy birthday icing…

And entrant number 5 was my housemate Patti with her trademark coca cola chocolate cake…it’s so wrong that it’s right!…

Number 6, baked by my oldest friend Clare, was a plum, hazelnut and chocolate creation…

Cam baked entry 7, a gorgeously classy looking lemon afternoon tea cake, with lemon icing (my photo does it no justice at all sorry Cam!)…

Number 8 was a batch of Jellyberryfish cupcakes made by Dr Tan…

I thought they definitely deserved a close up…

Next up was Georgie’s entry…in her own words ‘hummingbird stuffed marshmallow cupcakes with vanilla and minimarsh glittery goodness… Fit for a birthday princess!’, which actually had a whole marshmallow hidden in the middle mmm…

Entry number 10 defied the laws of gravity and was iced in situ by Span. It was a delectable maple syrup and pecan nut floating autumn birthday cake…

Lianna had baked some perfect Hummingbird strawberry cheescake cupcakes…

and her housemate Laura had made pineapple and coconut cupcakes…

In all of the excitement, I’m very ashamed to admit that I don’t have a photo of entry number 13, the handiwork of my friend Simon! But I can describe it as the naughtiest looking chocolate cake known to man!…

??

So, 13 entries in and voting on appearance commenced…after everyone had had a chance to take a look and cast their votes me and my mum took to the floor and judged them for ourselves. Then came the moment that everyone had been waiting for and salivating over…the taste test…

I was in heaven…13 cakes and I HAD to taste them all! I was cursing the limitations of my posh frock but at the same time blessing he invention of control pants!

I never thought it would so hard to judge a cake competiton but the standard was so high! The effort that had been put into the competition blew me off my feet and the decision was definitely a toughy! We counted up the voting slips, then me and my mum (baking oracle and cake appreciator extraordinaire) chose the winners from those that had received the most public votes.

I have great pleasure in announcing that the winner in the appearance category of the 1st Official Afternoon Tease’s Birthday Cake Bake Off was…

Hannah with her uber professional looking chocolate chip cupcakes with an espresso baileys cream cheese topping…

and the winner in the taste category of the 1st Official Afternoon Tease’s Birthday Cake Bake Off was…Simon with his ‘Ultimate Chocolate Cake’!

As a consolation for not having any photographic evidence of Simon’s immensely naughty creation, I have managed to prise the recipe from him for you here. I highly recommend giving it a try just make sure you have an elasticated waistband 😉

Thank you to all entrants, voters, friends and family…you’re amazing!…I had the best party and 13 whole birthday cakes…that surely must be a world record?!

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WARNING! not for the faint hearted…

I’m a sucker for chocolate, along with the majority of the females of the species but I’m also an absolute salt fiend and have been known to snack on slices of cheese topped with freshly ground sea salt…mmmm! So imagine my delight when, on reading The Sweetest Kitchen, a blog I follow, I learnt that Lindt have introduced a bar of dark chocolate with a touch of sea salt!

Jamieanne, the blog author also shared a recipe that she had found for Salted Chocolate Shortbread. I couldn’t get it out of my head and spent the rest of the afternoon at work daydreaming about salty chocolate creations. I decided to bite the bullet, did a pit stop at Waitrose, who stock the aforementioned magic chocolate and headed home for some baking.

Surprisingly I don’t think I’ve ever made shortbread before. There’s a first time for everything and without further ado here is the recipe I used to make my salted chocolate shortbread…

300g unsalted butter

220g caster sugar

375g plain flour

5tbsp good-quality cocoa powder

1/4tsp bicarbonate of soda

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease and line a 18 x 28cm shallow baking tray.

Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl with a handheld whisk until pale. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder and soda and beat slowly until just combined. Spread into the tray and smooth over. I used my hands to push it into the corners but was careful not to compact it or overwork it too much. I then put my shortbread straight in the oven, only realising once I’d done so that I was meant to have pricked it all over with a fork and chilled it for 15 minutes beforehand…oops!

It needs baking for 25 minutes or until firm to the touch. Then should be left to cool completely.

I can report that my shortbread was pretty darn perfect and didn’t seem to suffer from my forgetfulness. Maybe next time I’ll make sure I do the pricking and chilling and try to spot the difference.

While your shortbread is cooling you can crack on with the salty ganache topping…

2 x 100g bars of Lindt touch of salt, finely chopped

2/3 cup of heavy whipping cream

2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small cubes

sea salt flakes

Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream until it’s just about to simmer (do not boil), then pour it over the chocolate and leave for about a minute. Stir it until smooth and all of the chocolate has melted. Add the butter and stir until combined. 

Put the bowl in the fridge for approx 20-30 minutes to set. Every 5-10 minutes get it out and give it a good stir/whisk. Once the ganache is of spreadable consistency smooth it over the cooled shortbread with a spatula and then let it set for 30 minutes until it’s firm to the touch. Cut the shortbread into squares, wiping the knife clean after every cut to keep the ganache crumb free and vice versa. Sprinkle a few sea salt flakes onto each square and hey presto you have the most amazing chocolatey, salty delicacies…

Now, brace yourselves and behold, what I believe are the best baking porn photo’s I’ve taken to date…

I was really happy with how these turned out…they were delicious and were a huge hit with my colleagues! The flavours really balanced themselves out, the overriding taste was definitely the chocolate but the salt worked to cut through the sweetness and helped ensure that they weren’t too sickly and the sudden salty hit that you get from the flakes of sea salt was a pure delight.

Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it…and I highly recommend that you do!


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rain rain go away…

It may be the end of August but in my book Summer shouldn’t be over yet and yet the rain just won’t go away! It’s been a miserable day, I trudged home under a miniscule, ineffectual umbrella with soggy pump-clad feet, which is enough to put anyone in a bad mood. But…I decided all should not be lost…I cracked open a beer, donned some warm socks and my apron, put on my new Andreya Triana album and started comfort baking…surely the answer to everything!?

In my eyes Chocolate Brownie’s are the ultimate choice in comfort baking. I decided to laugh in the face of danger and mix it up a bit though…so these weren’t any normal bog standard brownies…they were chocolate brownies with pears and brazil nuts. I had the saying…’if something ain’t broke don’t fix it’ ringing in my ears but I decided not to err on the side of caution and take a risk. I used 70% dark chocolate and ripe, ready to eat conference pears…

I only cooked the brownies for 30 minutes and they were cooked to perfection…

You couldn’t exactly taste the pear but it definitely added to the texture and sweetness. They are exceedingly moist and have that sticky brownie-like consistency without being cloying. 

Check this out for a bit of food porn to chase the wet weather blues away…

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