Triple chocolate mud cake and baking as therapy

Milk and white chocolate two-toned mud cake with dark chocolate fudge frosting.

Triple chocolate mud cake

When I want to celebrate something, I dive into the kitchen to construct something fun. Similarly, when life hands me something bad, I turn to the solace of baking, where I can focus my mind and energy on creating something special to share with those around me.

We lost a dearly beloved family member this week to leukaemia and, being so far away and therefore unable to be with my family at this terrible time, I needed to do something other than sit and tearfully peruse the numerous heartfelt tributes on facebook, so I retreated to the kitchen.

Every bite is filled with love.

Makes a 24cm (10″) cake
Preparation about 1 hour
Baking about 1 hour
Cooling and frosting about 1 hour

White chocolate batter

100g (7 Tbsp) unsalted butter, diced
100g (3 1/2oz) white chocolate, chopped
100g (1/2 cup, firmly packed) dark brown sugar
90ml (6 Tbsp) hot water
1 Tbsp golden (cane) syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
150g (1 cup + 1 heaping Tbsp) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Milk chocolate batter

100g (7 Tbsp) unsalted butter, diced
100g (3 1/2 oz) milk chocolate, chopped
100g (1/2 cup, firmly packed) dark brown sugar
90ml (6 Tbsp) hot water
1 Tbsp treacle or molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
150g (1 cup + 1 heaping Tbsp) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 160°C (320°F). Grease a round 24cm (10″) springform cake pan and line base and side with baking paper.

You need to make 2 separate batters, so follow the instructions for each batter… although it means a lot of washing up at the end, I recommend making them at the same time. If you use double-acting baking powder, it will start to activate too soon in the batter that you make first.

Place butter, chocolate, sugar, water, syrup/treacle and vanilla extract in a medium, heavy-based saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat with a wooden spoon or spatula for about 3 minutes, until the butter and chocolate have melted, the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth (it will be the consistency of syrup). Pour into a mixing bowl and set aside to cool for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add egg and beat well.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, then sprinkle over wet ingredients and whisk to combine.

Pour the milk chocolate batter into the pan, then pour the white chocolate batter over the top then swirl in by slicing right across the pan 4 times or so with a spatula (the front edge of the blade, not the flat side).

Bake in centre of oven for about 55 – 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out damp but with no more than a crumb or two.

Cool cake in pan cake for 20 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Dark chocolate fudge frosting

115g (1 stick or 1/2 cup) butter
250g (9 oz) dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
125g (1 cup unsifted) powdered (confectioners’ or icing) sugar

Place butter and chocolate into a medium saucepan over low heat, and stir gently until melted. Stir in vanilla.

Sift sugar and gradually add to chocolate mixture while beating with an electric hand mixer.

Allow to cool to room temperature, whisking occasionally – it should thicken significantly, but if not you can add a couple more tablespoons of powdered sugar. Give it good beat before using, to lighten it up.

Transfer cooled cake to a serving plate and spread frosting over top and sides with an offset spatula.

Posted in cake, dessert, snack, sweet | 6 Comments

Sandwich bread with wholemeal & rye

Rich, soft sandwich bread loaded with flavour, using 2 parts white bread flour, 2 parts wholemeal flour and 1 part rye flour, with a dash of treacle for depth.

This is sandwich bread as it should be!

Sandwich bread with wholemeal & rye

This bread is easily done in a day, although I tend to do the slow overnight rise in the fridge because I think it yields a better bread with a softer crumb and a richer taste when you let the yeast work slowly.

Makes 2 medium loaves

Ingredients

240g (2 scant cups) bread flour
240g (2 scant cups) wholemeal flour
120g (1 scant cup) rye flour
1 x 7g sachet (2 1/4 tsp) instant dry yeast
400g (1 2/3 cups) tepid water
30ml (2 Tbsp) sunflower oil
30ml (2 Tbsp) black treacle (molasses)
9g (1 1/2 tsp) salt

extra sunflower oil for pans

Directions

Mix together flours, yeast and water in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and rest for about 30 minutes.

Mix oil and treacle into dough, then add salt and knead until smooth and soft, 8 – 10 minutes.

Transfer to a clean, lightly oiled bowl and allow to rise until doubled, about an hour, or put it in a plastic container, cover tightly and leave in the fridge overnight.

Lightly oil 2 x 20cm (8″) loaf tins.

Turn dough out onto a lightly oiled surface, knead together gently and cut in half. Stretch each piece out to a square, about 20 x 20cm (8 x 8”), fold the top third down and pinch the seam closed, fold the bottom third up and pinch the seam closed, then place seam side down in the tins.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature until they have doubled in size, about 45 minutes to an hour, although it could take two hours if the dough was refrigerated.

Preheat oven to 220°C (430°F).

Reduce oven temperature to 190°C (375°F) and place both loaves in centre of oven. Bake for 30 minutes, until deep brown and hollow sounding when tapped underneath.

Remove from tins to a wire rack to cool completely.

Posted in bread | 7 Comments

Middle Eastern feast

The February Daring Cook’s challenge was to make a Middle Eastern breakfast. I’ll admit straight up that we had ours for a sort of late-lunch-dinner because there just wasn’t an opportunity during the month for a weekend morning-brunch affair. But despite being at totally the wrong time of day, the whole thing was absolutely amazing!

Middle eastern feast

According to the rules of the challenge, we had to make 3 elements of the feast from scratch, so I made Ful Medames (fava beans), Tabbouleh, pan-fried halloumi and hommos. I won’t repeat the hommos recipe here, except to tell you that I these days add olive oil instead of water to my old recipe to get it creamier.

Ful Medames (fava beans)

2 x 400g cans (2 x 14 oz) Ful Medames (cooked fava beans)
1 medium tomato, seeded and finely chopped
2 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
80ml (1/3 cup) tahini
juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp fine salt
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1 – 2 tsp cold water for the tahini sauce
1/2 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
extra virgin olive oil to drizzle on top

Drain and rinse beans and add to a medium pan with 1 can of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes letting much of the water evaporate. Mash a bit with a fork or potato masher, leaving some whole.

Remove from heat and add tomato and about 3/4 of the spring onions and the parsley.

In a separate small bowl mix tahini, garlic, salt, lemon juice and enough cold water to get the consistency of thick cream.

Add tahini mixture to beans.

Pour mixture into a serving plate, top with remaining spring onions, and drizzle with olive oil.

Serve warm.

Tabbouleh

1/2 cup bulgur
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 medium tomato, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 red pepper (capsicum), finely chopped
3 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp olive oil
pinch saltalt

Boil the bulghur in about 2 cups water for 5 minutes, then drain well.

Mix all the ingredients together and adjust lemon and salt to your taste.

It’s best when left to sit for a couple of hours.

*****

Daring Kitchen blog checking lines: For the February daring cooks challenge, Manal from Manal’s Bites invited us to celebrate the most important meal of the day Middle Eastern style!

The original challenge post with more recipes can be found here.

Posted in breakfast, daring cooks, dip, lunch, salad | 5 Comments

Two kinds of chocolate truffles…

…dark chocolate raspberry and white chocolate rose, all covered in dark chocolate.

chocolate truffles

3G wanted something special for his girlfriend for Valentine’s Day, so we made two kinds of truffles. Rather than just rolling balls, we chose to make them in molds to make romantic hearts and roses, and we made two different kinds – dark chocolate raspberry truffles and white chocolate rose truffles, all covered in dark chocolate.

I adapted a recipe from a Daring Kitchen challenge. Be sure to use the best quality chocolate you can your hands on – it makes all the difference. If you’re melting the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, make sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water, and do not get any water in the chocolate – just a drop with make it seize beyond repair. The bottom of the bowl or double boiler will be wet with condensation, so I recommend laying out a kitchen towel on the work bench to put it on, so you don’t end up with a puddle.

Makes 60 (30 of each)
Preparation – 10 minutes for each ganache, 10 minutes for the coating
Cooling & setting – about one hour all together
You need 60 little silicon molds – we used 2 trays each of heart and rose shapes

Dark chocolate raspberry truffles

200g (7oz) dark chocolate, chopped
120ml (1/2 cup) heavy cream
3 Tbsp seedless raspberry jam/jelly
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Finely chop or grate the chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl.

In a small saucepan, combine cream and raspberry jam, and heat until it just starts bubbling around the edges of the pot.

Pour the cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for a couple of minutes.

Gently stir the mixture until all the chocolate has melted and it is smooth.

Add vanilla extract and stir in gently.

Set aside to cool and thicken for about 30 minutes.

White chocolate rose truffles

200g (7oz) white chocolate, chopped
50ml heavy cream
1/2 tsp rose water (depends on brand – taste it to check if you need more)
2 – 3 drops pink food colouring (optional)

Finely chop or grate the chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl.

In a small saucepan, heat cream until it just starts bubbling around the edges of the pot. Alternatively, heat it in bursts in the microwave until just starting to bubble.

Pour the cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for a couple of minutes.

Gently stir the mixture until all the chocolate has melted and it is smooth. If it won’t melt easily, place it back on the double boiler to heat very gently, stirring just until melted. Because you are using far less cream than dark chocolate ganache, white chocolate is not so quick to melt.

Add rosewater and food colouring and stir in gently.

Set aside to cool and thicken for about 30 minutes.

Chocolate coating

300g (about 10oz) dark chocolate

Melt chocolate by stirring over low heat in a double boiler, a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, or microwave, stirring every 20 seconds.

Take spoonfuls of the chocolate and pour into the mold, making sure it fills every well. Knock the mold a few times against the bench to get rid of any air bubbles, then turn the mold upside down over the bowl of chocolate and shake out the excess chocolate. Turn right side up and drag a bench or plastic scraper across so all the chocolate in between the wells is scraped off cleanly, leaving you with only chocolate filled wells. Put in the fridge to set, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Remove from refrigerator and fill each well with cooled ganache. I used a piping bag to fill them.

Take another spoonful of melted chocolate and pour it on top of the filled chocolate wells, knocking against a flat surface to settle it in. Scrape excess chocolate off the mold with the bench scraper then refrigerate until set.

When set, pop your filled chocolates out of each well.

Tip: If they don’t want to come out of the molds easily, stick them in the freezer for 10 minutes and they should pop out no problem.

Posted in candy, sweet | 2 Comments

Raspberry almond torte (flourless) with dark chocolate fudge frosting

flourless raspberry almond torte

I have a (terrible?) habit of spotting something on special and buying lots of it so I can use it in “something”, but often when I buy it, I have no idea what I’m going to do with it. Take raspberries, for example. Really good price so I buy a kilo. Get home and wonder what to do with them. Make syrup. What on earth am I going to do with that?! Most of it is now packed away in the freezer, awaiting the elusive strike of inspiration. I’m thinking about cocktails. And muffins.

In the meantime, cake! I adapted my flourless clementine and almond cake recipe for this, then decided that raspberries and chocolate go amazingly well together, so added the frosting.

Dense, moist, bursting with flavour, a delicious balance between sweet and rich and tart. Another slice? Yes, please!

Serves – 12
Syrup – 20 minutes preparation & cooking, plus cooling
Cake – 15 minutes preparation, 55 minutes baking, plus cooling
Frosting – 10 minutes preparation, plus cooling

The raspberry syrup

350g (about 12 oz) raspberries (plus a few per person for serving with the cake)
200g (1 cup) granulated sugar

Stir together raspberries and sugar in a heavy-based saucepan over low heat. Stir until raspberries break down completely and mixture comes to a simmer.

Strain through a mesh strainer, squashing any remaining pulp to get the liquid out, and set syrup aside to cool to room temperature. You should have about a cup of syrup.

The cake

6 large eggs, room temperature
200g (1 cup) granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
240ml (1 cup) raspberry syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
300g (2 1/2 cups) ground almonds

Preheat oven to 180°C (360°F). Grease a round 24 or 26cm (9 or 10″) springform cake pan and line the base with parchment.

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs until fluffy.

In a separate bowl, whisk together sugar, vanilla, baking powder and salt. Slowly add to the eggs while beating, and continue to beat in well.

Add raspberry syrup and vanilla and beat in well.

Add almonds and fold in with a spatula until just combined.

Pour batter into pan and bake in centre of oven for 50 – 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes, run a fine spatula or knife around the edge, then remove from pan and allow to cool completely.

The frosting

115g (1 stick or 1/2 cup) butter
250g (9 oz) dark chocolate, chopped
125g (1 cup unsifted) powdered (confectioners’ or icing) sugar

Place butter and chocolate into a medium saucepan over low heat, and stir gently until melted.

Sift sugar and gradually add to chocolate mixture while beating with an electric hand mixer.

Allow to cool to room temperature, whisking occasionally – it will thicken significantly. Give it good beat before using, to lighten it up.

Transfer cooled cake to a serving plate and spread frosting over top and sides with an offset spatula.

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and a few fresh raspberries.

Posted in cake, dessert, preserves, sweet | 2 Comments

Golden syrup loaf cake

Golden syrup is a thick, rich, sweet amber-coloured syrup that adds moistness and incredible depth of flavour to baked goods. And if that wasn’t enough, this cake is super-charged with the addition of more syrup after baking to give it a sticky crust and a super-moist crumb.

golden syrup loaf cake

In the US it can be found in specialty shops that sell British goods and in some supermarkets, but if you can’t get your hands on golden syrup, you can substitute maple syrup, light molasses or even honey, and the treacle can be omitted. The taste will, of course, be very different to this cake, but would be great nonetheless!

This recipe was adapted from the BBC Good Food website. They say it gets better with age, but this one got devoured in less than a day…

Makes 1 x 24cm (9 – 10″) loaf cake
Preparation 20 minutes
Baking 50 minutes

Ingredients

100g (7 Tbsp or 3 1/2 oz) unsalted butter
100g (1/2 cup, lightly packed) light brown sugar
200g (10 Tbsp) golden syrup
20g (1 Tbsp) black treacle (molasses)
225g (1 3/4 cups, spooned and scraped) all-purpose (plain) flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
1 large egg
150ml (5 fl oz or 2/3 cup) milk

40g (2 Tbsp) additional golden syrup, warmed

Directions

Preheat oven to 160°C (320°F). Grease a medium-sized ~24cm (9 – 10″) loaf tin and line with parchment.

Place butter, sugar, golden syrup and treacle in a medium, heavy-based saucepan and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the butter and syrups are melted together. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt, and make a well in the centre.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg with the milk.

Pour the milk mixture into the flour and stir to combine.

Add the cooled syrup mixture and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the batter is smooth.

Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin.

Bake in centre of oven for 50 minutes, until deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Remove from oven to a wire rack, pierce the cake all over with a skewer and brush the additional golden syrup over the top. Leave to cool completely in the tin.

Store in an airtight container or wrapped in aluminium foil at room temperature for up to a week.

Posted in cake, dessert, pudding, snack, sweet | 6 Comments

Treacle flapjacks

While in many parts of the world the word flapjack refers to a type of pancake, in the UK and Ireland, flapjacks are simple four-ingredient oat bars, great for lunch boxes or an after school snack. They can be jazzed up with all sorts of additions, such as dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, toffee bits… Just don’t count the calories ;)

treacle flapjacks

While they are usually made with golden syrup, I got a tin of treacle for Christmas all wrapped up under the tree (thanks Nuala!) and used some for an amazingly deep toffee flavour in these scrumptious treats.

Makes 16 bars (depending on size)
Preparation 10 minutes
Baking 30 – 35 minutes

Ingredients

175g (1 1/2 sticks or 3/4 cup) unsalted butter, diced
175g (3/4 cup, packed) light brown (demerara) sugar
120g (1/3 cup) black treacle
335g (12oz or 4 cups) rolled oats

Directions

Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F) and line a square or rectangular baking pan, approximately 16 x 26cm (6 x 10”), with baking paper.

Place the butter, brown sugar and treacle in a medium, heavy-based saucepan over medium-low heat and stir just until it starts to bubble and the sugar has melted. It should take about 5 minutes.

Pour the butter mixture into the oats and mix well.

Tip the mixture into the baking dish, spread out evenly and press down well with a spatula or palette knife.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan once. You can increase the baking time by 5 minutes for crunchier bars, but they can be quite hard to bite.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. When the flapjack starts to set, use a knife to score it into bars, then allow to cool completely in the pan.

Use the baking paper to lift it from the pan and cut along the scored lines.

Store in an airtight container.

Posted in biscuit, cookie, snack, sweet | 3 Comments