Tag Archives: chocolate

Chocolate Orange Brownies

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These brownies are deliciously moist and bursting with flavour. The richness of the chocolate teamed up with the orange makes for a wonderful combination.

I came up with this recipe when I was preparing for a charity bake sale at work. A colleague asked for brownies to be included but he is allergic to nuts. I didn’t want to just make a plain chocolate brownie, because I like something to counteract the richness of the chocolate. I instantly thought of including orange but I didn’t think that just chucking orange zest into the mix would deliver enough flavour.

Then I remembered the celebrated clementine cake by Nigella The Great, and decided that a boiled orange would deliver a strong orange taste and help keep the brownies moist. I added the candied peel for texture, but you can do without if you prefer your brownies without “bits” in them.

The finished recipe received a very enthusiastic reception and I have had several requests for these brownies since!

You will need:

1 orange
250 g dark chocolate
150 g butter
3 medium eggs
100 g demerara sugar
150 g caster sugar
85 g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
40 g chopped mixed candied peel (optional)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 160C/ fan 140C/Gas 3.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Immerse the orange (whole and un-peeled) into the water, and boil for 30 min. Drain, then purée the orange (with a stick blender or in a food processor). Leave to cool.
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Melt the chocolate and butter together, either in the microwave or in a small pan set over a very gentle heat. Leave to cool.

With an electric whisk, or in a stand mixer beat the eggs until pale, then gradually add the sugars and whisk until pale and foamy.
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Add the melted chocolate, then the orange mixing gently in between. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold gently.

Pour delicately into a greased tray bake tin (mine is about 20×30 cm)and scatter the candied peel over the top.
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Bake for about 20 to 25 min. It is ready when a skewer comes out mostly clean but with a few crumbs attached; don’t over-bake your brownies or they will be dry!

Turn out onto a wire rack, and cut into rectangles when cool.

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Filed under Bakes, Buffet, Cakes, Desserts, Nut-free

White Chocolate and Orange Cookies

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I have made several versions of these cookies over the past few months, changing the type of chocolate used, adding different types of nuts etc., and they always come out tasting great. Always.

So, what is the secret, you might ask? What guarantees perfect cookies every time? The answer is actually pretty simple, although some of you might not like it. The secret to an amazing cookie is an equal ratio of butter and sugar, and the two combined should weigh more than the flour. In other words, sugar and fat taste great. It is hardly breaking news, but it still remains true!

 

You will need (for 20 cookies):

125 g caster sugar

125 g brown sugar

250 g butter, softened

2 pinches bicarbonate of soda

2 eggs

400 g plain flour

200 g good quality white chocolate, chopped

zest 1 orange, thinly cut

Method:

Mix the butter and sugars thoroughly, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one, beating well inbetween each addition.

Add the flour and bicard gradually, mixing well, then fold in the chocolate and zest. Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate for 1h.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/fan 190ºC/ gas 6. Line two baking sheets with baking paper.

Divide the dough into 4 equal parts, roll each into a log, and cut each log into 5 roughly equal slices. Shape each slice into a little ball, and arrange these balls onto the prepared trays, squashing them a little as you go.

Bake for 9-10 min until lightly golden on the edges and still soft in the centre. Cool on a wire rack.

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Filed under Bakes, Biscuits, Breakfast, Cakes, Desserts

Let’s Start 2013 In Style: Chocolate Orange Tart

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If you want to impress the in-laws, or your best friend, next time they come for dinner, but you are not sure what to make, read on…

When I first produced this tart at the end of a meal, it was greeted with “ooohs” and “aaahs” and guests saying that really, I shouldn’t have gone to so much trouble, it looked fabulous, etc. In this situation, and regardless of how many hours you have been slaving away in the kitchen, social etiquette demands that your response should be along the lines of: ” oh, it was no trouble at all, it is actually very easy to make, really!”.  Which is pretty much what I said to my guests that day; but you know what? I wasn’t even lying!

This tart is really easy to make. The filling just needs mixing before baking, so no risk of curdling egg yolks while trying to make a custard-based filling. The pastry demands a little bit more care, as it is closer to a cookie dough than to traditional pastry, but as long as you keep it nice and chilled it should behave obediently enough.

I have borrowed the recipe for the pastry from Jamie Oliver’s “Fifteen Chocolate Tart” recipe. I love this chocolate tart more than words can express, but as I am still in a bit of a post-holiday chocolate hangover, I decided to go for something a bit lighter and fresher than chocolate on chocolate. I have evolved the filling from a lemon tart recipe I copied out years ago; I obviously replaced the lemon with oranges, upped the juice content a bit and added zest for a stronger citrus flavour.

The chocolate decoration is just there to make it look a bit fancier (and it works!), I just wish I had a steadier hand when wielding a piping bag; the picture below is proof that I am no artist… 🙂  New resolution for 2013: practice my piping.

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You will need (for 6 to 8 people):

For the pastry:
325g unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
Pinch salt
565g plain flour
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3 large eggs
65g cocoa powder

For the filling:
5 eggs
140g caster sugar
150 ml double cream
100 ml freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 1 1/2 oranges)
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated.

Optional: 50g dark chocolate, for decorating.

Method:

Butter a 28 cm Ø loose-bottomed tart tin.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and salt, then fold in the flour, eggs, zest, and cocoa powder (you can do this by hand or with a food processor, but this makes quite a lot of pastry so your food processor needs to be a large one).

When the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs, gently bring it together until you have a ball  of dough. Do not knead it too much or it will become chewy. Flour the dough lightly, then wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Remove from the fridge, roll out to the desired size, and carefully line your tart tin with it (any tears can be easily repaired by patching up with offcuts, lightly brushed with water then pressed down over the cracks). Put the lined tin in the freezer for 30 min.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/ fan 180ºC/ Gas 6. Bake the pastry for around 12-15 minutes or until it is firm and almost biscuit-like, then remove it and leave to cool while you make the filling.

Turn the oven down to 160ºC/fan 140ºC/Gas 3.

To make the filling, beat all the ingredients, except for the zest, together. Sieve the mixture into a large jug, then stir in the zest.

Pull the middle shelf half-out of the oven, and place the tart tin on it. Carefully pour the filling into the pastry case, taking care that it stops a few millimetres below the edge of the pastry. Gently push the shelf back in. Bake for 30-35 min until just set.

Leave to cool to room temperature, then carefully remove the tart from the tin.

For the decoration, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a pan of simmering water (take care that the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Immediately transfer the melted chocolate to a piping bag fitted with a nozzle with a small, plain opening, and pipe criss-crossing patterns onto the tart. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Filed under Bakes, Christmas, Desserts, Sweet Tarts

How to Make Friends and Influence People: Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Cake

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Every so often, I find myself in a situation where I badly need a favour from someone. I tend to feel very guilty asking for favours, though; I am always worried of imposing on people. So I usually come up with a way of returning said favour, and this normally involves cake.

There are also times, like now, when I want to thank someone with more than words. And this, too, normally involves cake. In this instance, I wanted to repay my long-suffering work colleagues for their kindness. I applied for a promotion recently, and had an interview which went well, but despite the good feedback I received, the position was given to someone else. I was obviously very disappointed, and I must have looked rather upset because all my lovely colleagues have done since I found out, is try and cheer me up. They even went as far as saying that they were delighted that I didn’t get the job because it meant I wouldn’t have to leave the office, and would still be working with them.

I suspect that this statement was partially motivated by the fact that I do often bring cake to work, especially as I am always in need of testers when I am working on a new recipe. But I also know that they meant it. So, thanks guys, I am really glad to be working with all of you.

If, like me, you rely on cake to do the talking at times, then this is a great recipe to have up your sleeve. It is quick and easy to make, the ingredients are likely to be in your kitchen already, and it can convey a message pretty well.

You will need:

200g good quality dark chocolate
4 eggs
Pinch salt
150 g caster sugar
50 g plain flour
150g butter, at room temperature, + extra for the tin
A handful raspberries (frozen are fine)

Icing sugar, to serve.

Method:

If you are using frozen raspberries, take them out of the freezer and lay them out on a sheet of kitchen paper.

Preheat your oven to 200ºC/ fan 180ºC/ gas 6. Butter a 26 cmØ cake tin, or deep tart tin (I use a fluted one, but a straight-edged one is fine too).

Break up the chocolate into even-sized chunks, place into a heatproof bowl. Find a pan on which the bowl can sit securely, with plenty of space between the bottom of the bowl and the bottom of the pan. Bring water to the boil in the pan, and place the chocolate on top, taking care that the bowl isn’t touching the water. Turn the heat down to a simmer and leave to melt for a few minutes without stirring.

Meanwhile, separate the eggs. Add a pinch of salt to the whites and whisk to stiff peaks.

Mix the butter and sugar until combined, but do not overmix (this will give the cake a fudge-like texture). Add the melted chocolate and mix thoroughly. add the egg yolks one by one, mixing all the while.

Add the flour and stir until incorporated. Add the egg whites a bit at a time, mixing delicately to avoid losing any of the air trapped inside them. Pour the batter into the prepared tin, scatter the raspberries on top (it doesn’t matter if they are still partially frozen), and press down gently on the fruit so it sinks into the batter a bit.

Bake for 20-25 min, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 5 min, then turn out onto a wire rack. When completely cool, sprinkle with icing sugar.

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Filed under Bakes, Cakes, Desserts

If Al Pacino were a cake…(Chocolate Cake With A Crunchy Almond Crust)

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This cake is quite a bit like Al Pacino: at first glance, it doesn’t look like much. You wouldn’t really notice it on a cake stall, next to all the cupcakes and layer cakes, all tarted up in their rainbow-coloured frosting and sprinkles.

This cake is what you would call the underdog. But take a bite, and you will realise that it is every bit as bad ass as the star of “Scarface”.

And this is where the comparison ends, because adjectives such as moist, delicious, or moreish wouldn’t really apply to Mr Pacino. But you get the idea.

The beauty of this cake is that you get the crunchy almonds on top, which contrast wonderfully with the soft chocolate cake.

You will need:

125 g dark chocolate (ideally at least 70% cocoa solids)
125 g unsalted butter, softened
125 g self-raising flour
250 g sugar
5 eggs
50 g flaked almonds
A few drops natural almond extract

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200 C/ fan 190 C/ gas 6. Butter a metal cake tin (I use a rectangular one of 31×18 cm), and scatter the flaked almonds over the bottom.image

Melt the chocolate, either in the microwave, or in a pan on a low heat, with a drop of milk. When melted, mix with the butter in a large bowl.

Add the egg yolks to the chocolate mixture, mix thoroughly, then add the sugar. Mix energetically for a few minutes, to ensure your cake is light and fluffy. Add the flour and the almond extract.

Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, and add gradually to the chocolate mixture, mixing very delicately.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin, and bake for 20 to 30 min or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean (the cooking time will depend on the depth of your cake tin).image

Have a slice with a cup of tea or coffee. Then another one. And I guarantee you that you will want a slice for breakfast, too!

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Filed under Bakes, Breakfast, Cakes, Desserts

The Most Amazing Marble Cake (Dieters Look Away Now!)

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This recipe has been in my family for a very long time. It dates back to a time before diet-friendly sweeteners, a time when no one knew about cholesterol, a time when a cake was an occasional treat, rather than a daily indulgence.

In most families, a cake would only be made to celebrate someone’s birthday, or to mark a religious festival. In other words, it didn’t happen very often. So when it did, people would pull out all the stops; there would be no scrimping on flour, butter, or eggs, and if they could afford a little extra, then there would be chocolate, or maybe even a daring dash of rum.

Yes, the resulting cake was rich. But it was also glorious. And every once in a while, I like to bake something glorious.

I usually make this cake as described below, in a savarin or garland tin. Sometimes though, for a really special occasion, I make it like my grandmother used to: in a large loaf tin, with the chocolate cut into small chips rather than melted.

Either way, I can promise you that it will be delicious.

You will need:

200 g unsalted butter, soft
275 g self-raising flour
250 g caster sugar
6 eggs
125 g dark chocolate
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp rum

Method:

Preheat your oven to 210 C/ fan 200 C/ gas 6.

Grease a large savarin tin.
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In a large bowl, mix the butter and sugar. Beat well with a large wooden spoon until light in colour and creamy in consistency. This will require a bit of elbow grease, but don’t be tempted to rush this stage: the more effort you put in, the lighter your cake will be. If you have a KitchenAid mixer or similar, use the paddle attachment.
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Add the flour in batches, and stir until combined (the batter should be quite stiff). Add the rum, then the egg yolks one by one, mixing thoroughly all the while.

In a clean bowl, add a pinch of salt to the egg whites, and beat them to stiff peaks.

Add about a quarter of the egg whites to the batter and mix to loosen the texture a bit. Then add the rest, a few spoonfuls at a time, mixing carefully so you don’t lose the “lift” from the egg whites.

Melt the chocolate (either in a microwave or on the hob in a bain marie). Pour two thirds of the batter into the prepared tin, then mix the rest with the melted chocolate.

Delicately pour the chocolate batter over the plain one in the tin. To make the swirly pattern, dip a fork into the tin then gently rotate through the batter. Don’t overdo it, you don’t want the two batters to start mixing.

Bake for about 40 min, or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for about 5 min then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely before eating. If you can wait until then, it will taste even better the next day.
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