Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

Two Simple Chocolate Traybakes Made For Village Royal Wedding Tea Party

Saturday, April 30th, 2011
Raise A Glass For The Royal Toast

Raise A Glass For The Royal Toast

Like much of the country, and the world, we spent yesterday using the excuse of the Royal Wedding for a village party on the green and a day off the daily grind.  The weather behaved, raining during the wedding ceremony forcing my son and I from the garden to watch the pageantry, look at the dresses and see the kiss, then glorious sunshine for games and tea on the green in the afternoon.  Much fun was had by all ages and the familiar discourse of conservative, village life in rural North Yorkshire was reaffirmed, so that we can now spend the intervening time diluting this partiotism down again with more liberal & progressive ideas until our next celebration of Englishness or Britishness or Northerness comes along sometime in the very near future.

But the question was what to make for the tea party.  Everyone else had been making masses of sandwiches, sausage rolls and cupcakes; in fact, the tea tables groaned with far too much food.  We were told not to make a cucumber or egg mayo sandwich, which was fine by me, and asked to make some biscuits or such like.  As it was for the Royal Wedding, I recalled that Prince William had requested a tray bake for his stag party, being one of his favourites, so there was the hook – a simple chocolate traybake.

Sack Race On Green

Sack Race On Green

Chase The Yellow Chicken

Chase The Yellow Chicken

I trawled the web for ideas to find whether anyone had leaked the secret recipe but no such luck, but I found a few thoughts and from those have created my own ersatz Royal biscuity, chocolatey “no cook” tray bakes.  They were very good and went down a treat.

Rich Tea Tray Bake

Rich Tea Tray Bake

Crunchie Chocolate Traybake

60g / 2 oz plain chocolate
60g / 2 oz milk chocolate
100g / 3½ oz / 1 stick unsalted butter
2tbsp golden syrup
200g / 7oz digestive biscuits
100g / 3½ oz sultanas
100g / 3½ oz Crunchie bars (honeycomb, cinder or sponge toffee)

Topping

100g / 3½ oz dark chocolate
100g / 3½ oz Crunchie bars (honeycomb, cinder or sponge toffee)

1.  Lightly grease a 17cm x 26cm (7 inch x 10 inch) baking tray and line the base with baking paper.  Set aside.

2.  Firstly, crush the digestive biscuits and cinder toffee.  Put the digestives into a clear freezer bag and tie the end without much air in it.  Then with the end of a rolling pin smash the digestives into small pieces.  Do the same for the cinder toffee, but I like these in larger chunks for the texture; you can either do these in two batches or as one and then halve the amount – your proportions do not need to be precise, so don’t get hung up on the details.  Mix the Crunchie bar with the sultanas.

Crunched Up Cinder Toffee And Sultanas

Crunched Up Cinder Toffee And Sultanas

3.  Secondly, place the plain and dark chocolate for the base in a heatproof or metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.  Add the golden syrup and butter.  Melt these all together, stirring occassionally with a metal spoon.

Chocolate, butter and golden syrup

Chocolate, butter and golden syrup

4.  When melted, add the digestive biscuits, sultanas and honeycomb and mix all thoroughly together.  Make sure that everything has been coated with the chocolate mix.

5.  Spoon the mixture into the tray and put into fridge to set  while you prepare the topping.

6.  For the topping, melt the dark chocolate, then mix in the remaining crushed up Crunchie bars.  Take the tray out of the fridge and cover the base evenly with the chocolate topping.

7.  Leave in the fridge for about 1 hour to fully set, then turn out onto a chopping board.  With a sharp knife, cut into small rectangles of about  1½ cm x 2cm (½ inch x 1 inch).

Crunchie Chocolate Traybake

Crunchie Chocolate Traybake

Rich Tea Chocolate Traybake

225g / 8 oz rich tea biscuits
50g / 1¾ oz / 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
125g / 4½ oz golden caster sugar
1 free range egg, lightly beaten
100g / 3½ oz dark chocolate

Topping

125g / 4½ oz dark chocolate
75g / 4½ oz milk chocolate
50g / 1¾ oz white chocolate

1.  Lightly grease a small round cake tin (15cm, 6 inch in diameter), with a removable base.  Place a circle of baking parchment in the base.  Set aside.

2.  Crunch up the rich tea biscuits into small pieces, leaving some that are larger at about 1cm / ½ inch.  Cream the butter and caster sugar together, then add the egg and whisk again.

Crushed Rich Tea Biscuits

Crushed Rich Tea Biscuits

3.  Break the dark chocolate into pieces and place in a heatproof bowl and melt over simmering water.  When melted, add the sugar-butter-egg mix to the chocolate and stir in until melted and thickened to a light custard texture, which will take a couple of minutes.

4.  Stir up the broken biscuit pieces until throughly coated.  Transfer the chocolatey biscuit mix into the cake tin, making sure that the pieces are squashed right into all the gaps to make a firm, continuous base.  Put into the fridge for about 1 hour until thoroughly set.

Take The Crunchy Chocolate Base From The Fridge

Take The Crunchy Chocolate Base From The Fridge

5.  Remove the base from the fridge and leave at room temperature while you do prepare the dark chocolate.  Break the dark chocolate into pieces and place in a heatproof bowl and melt over simmering water.  While it is melting, gently slide the prepared biscuit base out of the cake tin.  Spread the melted chocolate over the base. smoothing until nice and even.  Put into the fridge for about ½ an hour.

6.  For the final flourish, melt the white chocolate and then drizzle over the top of the dark chocolate.  Place it all back into the fridge again for 2 hours to set fully. With a sharp knife, cut into small shapes of about  1½ cm x 2cm (½ inch x 1 inch); I know that it it is a circle so it doesn’t quite work but that gives the cook loads of scraps to test for deliciousness.

Drizzle White Chocolate Over Base

Drizzle White Chocolate Over Base

Cut The Cake Into Small Pieces

Cut The Cake Into Small Pieces

Rich Hot Chocolate Recipe

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

I have been trying to create a hot chocolate product at Steenbergs and as part of my research I came up with this really rich hot chocolate recipe.  This Hot Chocolate Recipe is something to relax with and enjoy at home, since Sophie calls it “a hug in a mug”.  It is, however, probably impossible to commercialise as any attempt to dumb it down will make the whole experience cheap and less luxurious.

Homemade Rich Hot Chocolate

Homemade Rich Hot Chocolate

Recipe For Rich Hot Chocolate Drink

575ml /1 pint / 2½ cups full fat milk
60ml / ¼ cup water
60g / 2 oz / ¾ cup good quality Fairtrade caster sugar (not your plain white stuff)
100g / 3½ oz dark Fairtrade chocolate (I use one bar of Divine chocolate)

In a bowl over boiling water, melt the chocolate bar, then switch off the heat but leave over the hot water.

Put the milk and water into a pan and bring to the boil.  Just as the first bubbles appear at the edges, take the pan off the heat.  Add the caster sugar and stir in until dissolved.

Add the chocolate and stir in; reheat the mixture until it just starts to bubble again. 

Take it off the heat, then whisk quickly with a hand whisk for about 1 minute.  Pour into 2 or 3 mugs, sit back and enjoy.

Two Simple Recipes For Chocolate Puds – Chocolate Mousse (Part 2)

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Even better than Chocolate Rice Pudding in terms of return on effort is a quick and simple chocolate mousse, which always seems to get a big thumbs up from whoever tastes it, even though it is perhaps one of the simplest things to make.

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse

Basically, it is a bit of melted chocolate, some cream and eggs and there you have it; you actually do not really need the gelatine, but I once had a disaster making this when it did not set very quickly, so I add the gelatine more as a safety measure than a necessity.  It is, also, really flexible as a recipe, so you can play around with the flavours to the base recipe used, such as you could change orange blossom to rose water, orange oil, vanilla extract or brandy or just leave it out altogether, then you can decorate the top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings or homemade caramel pieces.

Easy Peasy Chocolate Mousse

Some Ingredients For Easy Peasy Chocolate Pud

Some Ingredients For Easy Peasy Chocolate Pud

2 x 100g bars of chocolate – 1 dark and 1 milk chocolate
2 level tablespoons caster sugar
6 tbsp double cream
4 eggs, at room temperature seperated between yolks and whites
3 tsp orange flower water (or rose water or just water)
1 tsp gelatine

Firstly separate the egg yolks and whites.  Lightly whisk the egg yolks together and leave the egg whites until later.

Put the orange flower water or water into a small ramekin and sprinkle the gelatine over this.  Leave to be fully absorbed.

Break all of the dark chocolate bar (that is the whole 100g) into a heat proof glass mixing bowl and all but the last row of segments on the milk chocolate bar (that is 80g of milk chocolate).  Melt these over a pan of boiling water, mixing the two flavours together.  Leave to cool until just warm to touch.

Break Up The Chocolate Into Pieces

Break Up The Chocolate Into Pieces

Melt The Two Chocolates Over Boiling Water

Melt The Two Chocolates Over Boiling Water

When cool, add the double cream to the double chocolate and mix in thoroughly.  Place the ramekin of gelatine into a small pan of water to half way up the side of the ramekin, then bring the water gently to a boil watching for the gelatine to be fully melted, or as I do simply place ramekin in the hot water used to melt the chocolate and it will melt in that even as it cools down.  Add the gelatine to the chocolate mix and gently whisk through so fully mixed in.

Stir In Some Double Cream

Stir In Some Double Cream

Stir In Egg Yolks

Stir In Egg Yolks

Now, whisk the egg whites until a soft peak, then fold into the chocolate.  Put the mousse into ramekins or wine glasses to look pretty.  Leave to set and cool for at least 30 minutes.

Whisk the Egg Whites

Whisk the Egg Whites

Fold The Whisked Egg Whites Into The Chocolate Mixture

Fold The Whisked Egg Whites Into The Chocolate Mixture

Pour The Chocolate Mousse Mixture Into Glass Ramekins Or Bowls

Pour The Chocolate Mousse Mixture Into Glass Ramekins Or Bowls

Easy Peasy Chocolate Mousse

Easy Peasy Chocolate Mousse

Serve with whipped cream and grate over the remaining milk chocolate over this.

Two Recipes For Simple Chocolate Puds – Chocolate Rice Pudding (Part 1)

Monday, November 8th, 2010

This recipe for Chocolate Rice Pudding was inspired by reading a blog by Helen Best-Shaw of Fuss Free Flavours fame, who wrote a recipe for Chocolate Risotto with Peaches.  I was intrigued by the concept, especially having just made the Indian Tea Infused Rice Pudding for Diwali.  So here is my version, which is slightly different from Helen’s version although hers still sounds better than mine.  Neither recipe is done any favours by the photography as this is not a photogenic pudding, even though it tastes fabulous.

As a recipe, it calls like many things for some patience and care in the making, as the milk can boil over, the rice can stick to the pan and the sweetness will be variable depending on the chocolate used.  Also, you can eat it hot or cold; I am not a fan of cold rice pudding, but lots of people are, so why not make extra and take it to work for sneaky packed lunch treats.  Chocolate Rice Pudding is fairly versatile – you can serve it as showy dinner party food by putting it neatly into glass bowls, then topping off with some whipped cream and shavings of chocolate, or serve warm as a homely winter warming treat.

All in all it is rich and delicious, so thanks Helen for the inspiration.  It reminds me of one of mainstays for a quick and easy pudding, East Peasy Chocolate Mousse.

Recipe For Chocolate Rice Pudding

200g / 7oz dark chocolate
600ml / 1 pint full fat milk
100g / ½ cup pudding rice (Arborio rice)
2½ heaped tablespoons light muscovado sugar
30g  / 1oz / 2 tbsp butter (ideally use unsalted butter, but you should then add a pinch of salt to the milk)
42½g / 1½ oz / 2tbsp raisins

Break the chocolate into a bowl and melt over a pan of boiling water.  Leave to cool down on top of the still warm water, but obviously off the hob.

Break Up The Chocolate And Put Into Bowl

Break Up The Chocolate And Put Into Bowl

Melt The Chocolate Over A Pan Of Boiling Water

Melt The Chocolate Over A Pan Of Boiling Water

Add the milk to a heavy bottomed pan, together with the pudding rice and sugar (and a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter).  Heat up to a gentle simmer, stirring all the time.  Then let simmer for 25 – 30 minutes, but check it and stir it regularly as the milk can boil over, the rice can stick to the base and different rice will cook at differing rates.  It should cook through to a nice al dente texture with this amount of milk, but if needed, simply top it up.

When cooked, take it off the hob, add the butter and stir this through.  Now add the melted chocolate and raisins and mix these through.  Check the sweetness and if you feel it needs it, add some more sugar; there is a lot of variation in the sweetness of bars of chocolate that you might want to use, as well as peoples’ taste buds.

Stir In the Butter To The Cooked Pudding Rice

Stir In the Butter To The Cooked Pudding Rice

Mix In The Melted Chocolate And Raisins

Mix In The Melted Chocolate And Raisins

Leave to cool and serve cold, or reheat and have it warm.  If serving cold, serve in glass bowls topped with whipped cream and some shavings of dark chocolate.

Chocolate Rice Pudding

Chocolate Rice Pudding

Recipe For Luxury Chocolate Gateaux Or Pavé

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

This is another recipe that I have followed from Pierre Hermé’s inspirational cookbook “Chocolate“, which I have reinterpreted for a British audience.  The only tweak I have made to it was in the use of edible gold as a garnish on top of the chocolate ganache.

While a long drawn out process to make, this is a real cake that you might expect from a top restaurant or bakery in Paris, so make it for an indulgent occasion rather than expecting to rush this one out day-in-day-out.  It is a truly rich and luxurious cake that should be savoured with a calm cup of tea or a rich coffee; it’s not finger food mind you, but needs a cake fork or a spoon to savour the flavour.

Stage 1 – baking the cocoa cake

40g 1(½ oz /1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp) organic cocoa powder
35g (1¼ oz / ¼ cup) organic plain flour
3½ tbsp organic potato starch
75g (5½ tbsp / 2¾ oz) unsalted butter
9 large egg yolks, at room temperature
150g  (5¼oz / 1¼ cups) organic Fairtrade caster sugar
5 large egg whites, at room temperature

1.  Preheat the oven to 180oC (350oF).  Butter two 18 x 9 cm (7½ inch x 3½ inch) loaf tins and line with baking paper.

2.  Sieve together the organic cocoa powder, plain flour and potato starch into a mixing bowl and set aside.  Melt the butter and set aside to cool until it is barely warm to the touch.

Sieving Together Cocoa, Flour And Potato Starch

Sieving Together Cocoa, Flour And Potato Starch

3.  Using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or in a food processor, beat the egg yolks plus 75g (2½ oz) of the caster sugar on a medium speed.  Scrape down the sides as you go along, and the mix should be thick and pale after about 5 minutes.  Scrape the thickened egg yolks into a large bowl, wash and dry the mixer.

Mixing The Egg Yolks And Sugar

Mixing The Egg Yolks And Sugar

4.  In a new or cleaned bowl, whisk and whip the egg whites at a medium speed until they form soft peaks.  Gradually add the remaining sugar and beat until the peaks are firm and shiny.

Whipping Up The Egg Whites

Whipping Up The Egg Whites

5.  Working with a large rubber spatula and a light hand, fold the sieved dry ingredients and a quarter of the beaten egg whites into the yolk mixture.  Stir a few tablespoons of this mixture into the cooled and melted butter, stirring to incorporate as much as possible, then add the butter and the remaining whites to the yolk mix. Working quickly and yet gently, fold everything together.

Mixing In The Whipped Egg Whites

Mixing In The Whipped Egg Whites

6.  Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tins, then bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  They are done when a slender knife or skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

7.  Leave the cakes to cool in the loaf tins for about 3 minutes, then gently remove them from the tins, remove the parchment paper and leave to cool on a cooling rack.

Two Chocolate Cakes

Two Chocolate Cakes

8.  You can wrap these in airtight plastic and store frozen for up to a month.  This is what I did, making the cakes during the week and finishing them off at the weekend.

Stage 2 – creating the elements for the gateaux or pavé

The soaking syrup:
40g (¼ cup) organic granulated sugar
10g (2tsp) salted butter
100g (6tbsp) warm water

Put the sugar in a saucepan and over a medium heat, melt the sugar.  When it starts to melt, stir it with a wooden spoon.  Keep heating and stirring the sugar until it turns a rich brown.  Then standing away from the pan, drop the butter into the pan, then as it melts, stir it into the caramelised sugar.  Stand back again and add the water.  When the mixture comes to the boil, pull the pan from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Caramel Syrup

Caramel Syrup

The apricots:
170g (6oz) organic unsulphured apricots
250g (1 cup) water
Juice of ½ lemon
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Put the apricots and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 4 minutes.  Drain and let apricots cool.  When cooled down, chop the plumped up apricots into a small dice.  Toss the apricots with the lemon juice and black pepper and set aside until needed.

The Apricots

The Apricots

The ganache:
185g (6½ oz) dark or bittersweet chocolate, chopped or broken into pieces
120g (4½ oz) milk chocolate, chopped or broken into pieces
140g (2/3 cup) caster sugar
20g (¾oz) salted butter
275 grams (1 cup plus 2 tbsp) double cream (or heavy cream in USA)
335g (12oz) unsalted butter

1.  Mix the two types of chocolate together in a heatproof bowl.

2.  Put a heavy bottomed saucepan over a medium heat and sprinkle a third of the sugar over the bottom of the pan.  As soon as the sugar starts to melt, stir it with a wooden spoon until it melts and caramelises.  Sprinkle over half the remaining sugar and, as soon as it starts to melt, stir it into the caramelised sugar in the pan.  Repeat with the last bit of sugar and cook until it all has a nice deep brown colour.  Stand away from the pan and, still stirring, add salted butter and then, when the butter is incorporated, add the cream.  The caramel might seize up but do not worry as the stirring and heating will even it out.  Bring the cream to the boil, then remove the pan from the heat straight away.

3.  Pour half of the hot caramel over the chopped chocolate and using a rubber spatula, stir gently to melt the chocolate through.  When the chocolate is melted, add the remaining caramel and stir through.  Set the ganache aside to cool for about 10 minutes.

4.  While the ganache is cooling, beat the unsalted butter until it has the soft consitency of mayonnaise, using a spatula or mixer.  Then with a rubber spatula or whisk, gently stir the butter into the cooled ganache.  You will need to cool it down further so put it into the fridge, checking it regularly, until it reaches a soft butter consitency.

Stage 3 – building the pavé

1.  Get one of the cakes made in the first stage.  Working with a sharp serrated knife, cut each cake loaf into three even layers, removing any doming on the top and slice any uneven bits of the edges. Place the bottom layer onto a cake plate.

2.  Using a pastry brush, moisten the bottom layer with the caramel syrup (remember that the syrup needs to be used for each layer so do not overdo it at this stage).  Spread a thin layer of ganache over the top, then dot some of the apricots over the ganche and press them in (once again remember these will be used in each layer).  Place another cake layer on top of this and press down firmly.  Repeat the assembling of the filling and place the final layer on top of that.  Moisten the top layer with caramel syrup.  Check the shape of the cake and move it around to straighten if necessary.  Spread a thin layer of ganache over the top and sides of the cake and put into the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Building The Layers Of The Pavé

Building The Layers Of The Pavé

3.  Remove the cake from the fridge and spread another thin layer of ganache all over the cake.  Try and get the top as smooth as possible, then you could use a fork to striate the sides.

4.  Sprinkle some edible gold over the top of the cake.

Chocolate Pavé

Chocolate Pavé

5.  Repeat the process for the other cake or do it at the same time.  We actually wrapped the second cake tightly in film, froze it, then ate it a couple of weeks later and it was still delicious.

Pierre Hermé’s Recipe For Raspberry And Chocolate Tart

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Pierre Hermé continues to inspire me. 

For me, I spent last Saturday in the perfect place – in the kitchen, listening to sport on BBC Radio 5 on our digital radio and baking.  It was the turn of Hermé’s Raspberry And Chocolate Tart.  The end result was sheer perfection – bittersweet flavours from 72% cocoa dark chocolate  from Trinatario cocoa beans (a natural cross between the traditional Criollo and Forasteros cocoa beans), with the succulent, melting richness of the chocolate filling that only just holds itself together; these are balanced against the tart, fruitiness of raspberries.  What is perhaps even more amazing is that it is actually really quite simple to make. 

I don’t have much more to say, except just make it for someone special and wow them, but make sure it is for someone you want to impress.

For the crust:

Prepare and bake a 22cm / 8¾ inch tart shell from Sweet Tart Dough, cooled to room temperature per previous blog

For the filling:

55g / ½ cup ripe raspberries
145g / 5oz bittersweet chocolate (I used Green & Black’s dark cooking chocolate)
115g / 4oz unsalted butter, chopped into cubes
1 large egg, at room temperature, stirred lightly with fork or whisk
3 large egg yolks, at room temperature, stirred with a fork
2 tbsp caster sugar

Preheat oven to 190oC / 375oF.

Sprinkle the raspberries into the cooked tart crust.

Baked Tart Pastry With Raspberries

Baked Tart Pastry With Raspberries

Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl over boiling water and carefully melt the butter separately in a pan.  Allow them to cool to a touch warm temperature or 60oC / 104oF.

Using a small hand whisk, gently stir the egg into the melted chocolate; don’t be vigorous as you are not trying to get air in, just to mix thoroughly.

Pouring egg into melted chocolate

Pouring egg into melted chocolate

Mixing eggs into melted chocolate

Mixing eggs into melted chocolate

Next, add the caster sugar and stir that in.

Finally, work in the melted butter.

Pour the chocolate mixture over the raspberries in the tart shell.

Pouring chocolate ganache over raspberries

Pouring chocolate ganache over raspberries

Bake the tart for 11 minutes.  This gives you a tart that is still a bit wobbly in the centre.  Leave to cool on a rack.  Serve warm after settling for about 10 minutes or cool and have cold.  I actually prefer it cold and a bit more dense the next morning – great for breakfast on a Sunday morning!

Raspberry & chocolate tart just out the oven

Raspberry & Chocolate Tart Just Out The Oven

Serve with extra red raspberries and/or cream or crème anglaise.

Raspberry & Chocolate Tart With Raspberries & Cream

Raspberry & Chocolate Tart With Raspberries & Cream

Recipe – Chocolate And Nutella Tart

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

England’s football team were abject last Sunday, but the Chocolate And Nutella Tart recipe from the French patisserie chef, Pierre Hermé, was the perfect compensation – sweet, rich and complex in taste that left you just wanting more.  In one of my personal quests, to get better at making pastry, I treated myself to Pierre Hermé’s “Chocolate Desserts”.  I appreciate I am so behind the times as this was published in 2001, but us country folk take a little longer to catch up with you fast and quick city folk; anyway, I got there in the end. 

Nutella Tart By Pierre Herme

Nutella Tart By Pierre Herme

We had some friends around for sunday lunch yesterday, and, with England playing Germany and it being forecast to be the hottest day of the year, I decided to make roast beef, roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings and green beans then top it off with a chocolate tart, raspberries and cream.  The roast was spot on, while the Chocolate And Nutella Tart was a revelation – the sweet pastry is a soft, delicate, marzipan affair while the filling is a glorious melding of the sweet, nutty familiarity of Nutella and the rich, dense velvety texture of pure chocolate.  We served the tart with rasperries and cream, which were a perfect combination, as you got the slight tartness of the rasperries to offset the pure sweet richness of the chocolate ganache.

For me, it was the sweet pastry that was the real excitement, even if the chocolate was pure joy.  It’s lucky I made enough for three sweet tarts, so I can next try his other chocolate masterpieces.

For those without Pierre Hermé’s book, here’s the recipe which has been slightly tweaked, for better or worse:

The crust

1 fully baked 22cm / 8¾ inch tart shell made from Sweet Pastry Dough, cooled to room temperature (see separate blog)

The filling

200g / 7 oz Nutella or other chocolate & hazelnut spread
140g / 4¾ oz  dark cooking chocolate, broken into pieces
200g / 7 oz unsalted butter
1 large egg, lightly whisked (at room temperature)
3 large egg yolks, lightly whisked (at room temperature)
2 TBSP caster sugar (or other type such as granulated)
50g / 1½ oz toasted hazelnuts, skinned and chopped 

1.  Preheat the oven to 190oC / 375oF.

2.  Spread the Nutella evenly over the base of the baked tart crust and set aside while you make the ganache.

Nutella Spread Into Baked Crust

Nutella Spread Into Baked Crust

3.  Melt the chocolate and the butter in sperate bowls either over simmering water or in the microwave.  Leave to cool until they feel just still warm – he suggests 40oC / 104oF, but the touch test worked fine for me.

4.  Using a hand whisk, stir the egg gently into the cooled melted chocolate, taking care not to add air as this is not meant to be airy and fluffy.  Next, stir in the egg yolks slowly but surely, then the sugar.  Finally, stir in the melted butter – this takes a little bit of patience at first, as the butter really didn’t feel as though it would be miscible, but it got there, eventually.  Pour the chocolate ganache over the Nutella in the tart shell.  Sprinkle over the roasted hazelnuts.

5.  Bake for 11 minutes, then remove the tart from the oven and leave to cool.  Allow the tart to cool for at least 20 minutes or until it reaches room temperature. 

6.  Eat on its own or with cream or with raspberries and cream, but whatever, enjoy a moment of pure, divine decadence.

Baked Hazelnut And Chocolate Tart

Baked Hazelnut And Chocolate Tart

Herme's Chocolate & Nutella Tart

Herme's Chocolate & Nutella Tart

Recipe For French Macarons

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

I came across this recipe on the truly amazing food blog of the Californian pastry chef living in Paris – David Lebovitz – which can be found at http://www.davidlebovitz.com/.  And I have been meaning to have a crack at making his chocolate macarons for well over 6 months but strangely I never had the courage as the photography on his blog is really quite daunting; I suppose I just thought I would fail and so why try – the fear of failure always tries to hold us back.

Anyway this Sunday, I plucked up courage and printed out his recipe for Chocolate Macarons and then tweaked it to a more English style of ingredient list and had to go.  They came out quite well really, although not as beautiful looking as his, but the taste was heavenly.

Chocolate Macarons

Chocolate Macarons

Here’s my slightly changed recipe (the process itself is the same as David Lebovitz’s so that’s been cribbed):

For the batter:
100g / 3½ oz icing sugar, sieved
50g  / 2 oz ground almonds
25g /3tbsp  cocoa powder, sieved
2 large egg whites (keep the yolks and make pancakes the next morning with these)
65g / 5tbsp caster sugar

Chocolate filling:
125ml / ½ cup double cream
2tsp golden syrup
120g / 4oz chocolate (either dark or not too milky chocolate – I used El Rey chocolate couverture discs)
1tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven 180oC / 350oF.  Line two baking trays or sheets with baking parchment paper and have a pastry bag with 2cm plain tip.

In a food processor, grind together the icing sugar, ground almonds and cocoa powder until quite fine. 

In a bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until they start to rise, then add the caster sugar in two parts and continue to whisk until the egg whites become very stiff and firm and slightly glossy on the surface.

Carefully fold the dry ingredients in two parts into the beaten egg whites with a metal spoon or rubber spatula.  When the mixture is just smooth and just as the last streaks of white disappear, stop mixing and scrape the mixture into the pastry bag.

Pipe the batter into the lined baking try as in 3cm circles evenly spaced every 3cm apart.  I struggled with getting this stage to look pretty, but I guess practise would make me much better.  Rap the baking tray three times firmly on the counter top to flatten the macarons, then bake for 15 – 18 minutes.  When baked, let them cool completely.

Heat the cream and golden syrup in a small saucepan and when the cream is just starting to boil at the edges, remove from the heat and add the chocolate.  Let this heat through for about one minute, then stir until smooth and add the pieces of butter.  Let cool completely before use – I bunged it in the fridge.

To make the macarons, spread the chocolate mix on the inside of the macarons and sandwich together.

David Lebovitz then says let them stand for at least one day before serving to let the flavour settle.  This just is not practical in our house where 8 chocolate macarons could not be kept away from hungry gannets and were wolfed down in short order, which is the way good cooking should go. 

What other macarons recipes should I dare to try?

Recipe For Egg Free Marzipan And Baking For Christmas Fairs

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

It’s the time of the School Christmas Fairs, Nativity Plays and Carol Concerts and we are always being tapped for products or being asked to do some baking. 

But one of the problems we have always had is that, firstly, Christmas is our busiest part of the year for Steenbergs Organic in terms of order volume, and secondly, the fairs etc seem always to be mid-week.  But as both Sophie and I are working baking mid-week is almost impossible beyond the odd cake or biscuit.

As I discussed in an earlier blog, I have been experimenting with sweet making instead of baking.  Sweets last longer and can be made at the weekend and children (and adults) possibly prefer sweets to baked goods!

I have devised my own egg-free marzipan which we have coated in delicious dark El Rey 61% chocolate from Venezuela, as well as moulding chocolate into santa shapes, snowmen shapes and christmas bauble shapes; we used El Rey chocolate for all these – the dark one, a milk one and a white chocolate.  We have dipped brazil nuts in dark chocolate and milk chocolate.  We have also made milk chocolate circles and sprinkled them with mixed chop nuts and some sultanas.

These have then been bagged up into some polythene bags and then put into some nice Christmassy small bags for sale.  As always, the amount of effort, cost of materials and packaging never quite add up to the sales price, but you cannot be an accountant about everything in life.

Christmas sweets and shortbread snowman

Christmas sweets and shortbread snowman

This morning I have also started my token bit of baking – some shortbread snowmen, using a mould that we got at Lakeland.

So I’ve done my duty and I can go and listen to the school carol concert today in Ripon Cathedral with a clear conscience.

For those who are interested, the marzipan I made is a variation on something I found on the web.  I am going to keep my recipe a secret but heres the one from the Internet: 

350g/ ½lb organic ground almonds
350g/ ½lb organic icing sugar
4tbsp water
2tsp Steenbergs natural almond extract

Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl and knead dough until smooth.  Sprinkle some icing sugar on a baking board, roll flat and then cut into shapes – I made round balls and simple rectangles.