Tag Archives: chocolate

Worlds Best Chocolate Cake?

28 May

fabnestfriday



Worlds Best Chocolate Cake?

Donna Hay

Is

A

Temptress.

And very good she is at it too. As soon as I saw the picture of this cake (less than a week ago) I knew I had to make it. As we are about to enter June (which is birthday season in this house), I felt compelled to conduct a product test, just to see if this one was up to the job.

It soooo is.

Clearly, modesty is not one of Donna’s strong points, as the title above is her own (bar the question mark), but having tasted the cake, I think I can overlook the trumpet blowing on this occasion.

I made this with my friend Hadia, her daughter, and my 2 little munchkins.  The making of the cake batter is so easy, and a great one for the kids to join in with as no special equipment required. It was ready to go in the oven in less than ten minutes.

As this is Donna’s recipe, not mine, I have included a link to the  recipe, and video!

The cake is delicious. Dense and *dare I say it* moist, without being heavy. And the cream cheese in the frosting stops it being too sickly.

Frosting in the making

TIPS

The chocolate cake batter before cooking

  • The batter for the cake is very loose, so if you are using tins that have a loose bottom, I would really recommend pre-cut cake liners. I get mine from Lakeland.
  • I found the cake took almost 55 minutes to cook (I checked it every 5 minutes from 40 minutes) not the 40-45 that Donna recommends.
  • If it is a hot day, the frosting will melt causing the layers to slide around when you cut to serve.  Chilling in the fridge for a while should eliminate this problem, but it will taste better if served at room temperature and not fridge cold.
  • It is delicious if you heat it up for 20 seconds or so in the microwave


This was sooo good, after being woken at 4-30 this morning, I could not resist its siren call, so at 6am, I had to sneak downstairs and have a slice before breakfast!!

If like me, you are a complete chocoholic, you may want to make the frosting with melted dark chocolate instead (I shall work on that and get back to you), but on the whole, this is a fantastic, and easy cake, that looks impressive. Go on, treat yourself!

Too late!

Chocolate Chunk Cookies – Now!

26 May

Chocolate Chunk cookies, fresh from the oven

My attempts to clear out the cupboards did not stop with the end of the spendthrifts challenge. I am still trying to clear the cupboards of all the weird and wonderful ingredients that are lingering on in a number of our kitchen cupboards.

I tend to prefer using dark chocolate in my baking, which means that for some time I have been wondering what to do with the bars of milk chocolate for cooking that I seemed to have stockpiled (no doubt when they were on offer)

The answer came courtesy of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. His fab choc chunk cookie recipe was recommended on a couple of foodie sites, so yesterday, my two year old and I made these, as a gift for a friend that we were visiting for a playdate and tea (with a few left over for us to test, for quality control purposes of course!)

Chocolate Chunk Cookie anyone?

The joy of these is their simplicity. The ingredients list are all store-cupboard staples, you need no fancy equipment to make them, and they take less than 10 minutes to make, and only 10 minutes to bake.

INGREDIENTS LIST

  • 125g unsalted butter (I used salted. No complaints were received)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 75g soft light brown sugar (I only had 20g brown left so topped up with caster sugar)
  • 1 medium egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100g dark or milk chocolate, chopped into smallish chunks

METHOD

As this is Hugh’s recipe, I have attached a link to the instructions  here.

TIP

The mixture spreads when it bakes so leave a large gap in between each cookie. I cooked 6 on each baking tray.

DISCLAIMER

I ate 2 of these, but as I was full of a summer cold, I could not taste them (not sure why I ate 2?!!) All reports came back positive, and they didn’t see out the day, so I am relying on anecdotal evidence that they taste as good as they look. I may have to make some more when my taste buds get back to work!

Gift wrapped and ready to go

Fast Feast

4 May

This is not, as the title might imply, a recommendation that you eat quickly. This is my combination of a few recipe ideas, that represent a template for a simple yet sumptuous buffet that will comfortably feed a crowd, without sending you into a stressed host(ess) meltdown.

These tried and tested recipes can be prepared ahead, and require only minimal supervision in the kitchen, allowing you to join the party and share a drink and nibbles with your guests while the main course is cooking.

This particular menu was borne out of my usual knack of over scheduling our weekend. We had planned to meet friends for brunch, on the same day that I had offered to host my brother’s 30th birthday get together for the entire family later in the day (8 adults and 6 children ranging in age from 11 to 4 months old). As I was short on time, I decided to provide only one main course that would be suitable for all.

As we were going to be out for a good part of the day, nearly all of this was prepared ahead. In total (aside from cooking times) the preparation took about 1 hour.

PARTY MENU

FOCACCIA WITH A SELECTION OF ANTIPASTI

RICOTTA AND HERB STUFFED CHICKEN, NEW POTATOES, GREEN BEAN SALAD

3 TIERED CHOCOLATE BROWNIE ‘CAKE’

SARAH’S LIME AND GINGER CHEESECAKE

The amount of food that I prepared here, was far too much. I do however, follow Nigella’s mantra of ‘never knowingly undercatered’. And there is a distinct upside to over catering. The leftovers will provide a couple of meals that can be assembled in moments for a couple of days after the party, freeing you from the shackles of the seemingly endless meal preparation production line.

FOCACCIA AND ANTI-PASTI

I have for the past few weeks, been making focaccia at home. I used to go to the farmers market and buy a fairly small oblong loaf, studded with rosemary, or tomatoes, or onions, paying £4.50 a time. Obviously if you are feeding a crowd, this can be a pricey addition to the menu if you need 3 or 4. After discovering how easy it is to make, I have not looked back. This takes less time to make that it would for you to find your credit card, coat and keys and leave for the supermarket. The recipe I follow is not my own, but provided by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, provided in his book River Cottage Everyday. For obvious copyright reasons, I have not re-produced it here, but if you want to make your own, there are numerous versions available on the net. You simply measure out the flour, dried yeast, water etc, leave it in the mixer with a dough hook for a few minutes, then leave it to rise. If, like me you are going out and wish to make this ahead of time then you can put it in the fridge for a few hours where it will rise slowly. When it is ready to go in the oven, stud the top with whatever you have to hand (I did cherry tomatoes and rosemary on one, and red onion chutney and goats cheese on the second), then a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt. 15 minutes in a hot oven later and it is ready.  You may have neither the time or the inclination for this step, in which case most of the supermarkets offer this bread in one form or another.

RICOTTA AND HERB STUFFED CHICKEN

This is dish that both Jamie Oliver and Bill Granger offer a recipe for. I was a bit pushed for time and therefore didn’t have time to look up a recipe, but here is a link to Bill’s version if you want something more specific to follow.

INGREDIENTS

3 free range/organic chickens, spatchcocked. (you do this by cutting out the backbone, the squashing it flat. If you are a bit squeamish about this part, then buy from a butcher and get them to do it for you)

2 x 250g tubs ricotta

2 tbsps chopped chives

2 tbsps chopped parsley

1 tbsp thyme leaves

zest of half a lemon

salt and pepper to taste

Mix herbs, salt and pepper with ricotta. Using your fingers (or a wooden spoon if you have sharp nails) loosen the skin over the breast and thighs. Push ricotta mixture under skin over breast and thighs. Drizzle chicken with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. I cooked this hot and fast. The cooking times are much more reliable if you cook from room temperature. You can make this ahead but I would advise taking it out of the fridge about an hour before you cook it. I started it off with about half an hour on 210 degrees then turned it down to 180 degrees for the last 15 minutes. If the chicken looks like it is browning too much, then cover with foil.

The first time I tried this method I was hooked, so I would urge you to try it at least once. The result is tender juicy moist chicken, complemented by the light, delicate taste of the ricotta and herbs. I left this to rest under foil for 15 minutes once out of the oven, then served on platters, with carving knife and forks for guests to help themselves.

The new potatoes were steamed then dotted with a little butter and salt and pepper.

The green bean salad, is another recipe from Bill Granger. You can, as I did, make this ahead then leave in the fridge, then dress it at the last minute.

BROWNIES AND CHEESECAKE

Dessert I prepared the evening before. I made Sarah’s Lime and Ginger cheesecake, and a double batch of my five-minute brownies.

To serve I arranged the brownies on 3 glass cake stands, placed one on top of the other like a tiered wedding cake, then added a few candles.

The best part of this meal for me, was the fact that I had the chance to relax and join in. And, the children all loved the chicken and cleared their plates.

And, you may have guessed that I used banqueting roll to cover the table, so when the party was over, the table was cleared in moments, and the dishwasher (and Mr Mummyinahurry) did the washing up, giving me a chance to put my feet up and read this month’s copy of delicious magazine.

Home made focaccia bread

Three tiered brownie 'cake'

The five minute brownie

16 Apr

I am all about good food. But lets face it, not many of us have time to be a real Martha Stewart (and if we were, we would have staff – how nice would that be?).

Still, there are some things that have to be made well, and one of those in my book, is the chocolate brownie. I get really irritated by the over – priced sugary confections available almost everywhere that try to pass themselves off as the real deal. Often they are made as cheaply a possible, and the taste says it all.

So I save myself for a treat now and then, and of course a good way to occupy the little ones for a while.

I am afraid that I may have lured you in under false pretences with the heading of 5 minute brownie. It takes a little longer than that, but the actual effort part is about 5 minutes. There is no washing up if you have a dishwasher as you just chuck it all in and let the technology do the work.

Recipe

200g best 70% cocoa chocolate you can get (within reason)

225g unsalted butter

1tsp (or a little dash) vanilla essence

90g cocoa

60g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

290g caster sugar

4 large eggs (but it will work with medium too)

Anything else you fancy putting in like walnuts, pecans, white chocolate drops etc

You will need

1 rectangular baking tray sized about 16cm x 25cm (I use a silicone one as then there is no need to grease and line it)

A cake rack for cooling (if you don’t have one the rack from your grill should do nicely)

Before I start involving the children, I usually measure things out first. I have one of those fantastic slimline add and weigh digital scales that makes the weighing things out a cinch.

Put the oven on at 180 degrees (NB know your oven – mine is 40 degrees hotter than it says on the dial – if in doubt go lower and cook for longer)

The butter and chocolate need to be melted. Most ‘chefs’ would tell you to use a double boiler. Personally I love the microwave method. Zap it for about a minute to start, then leave, then do 20 second bursts with the occasional stir. Dont over do it or the chocolate will seize (go all grainy) and you will be very sad!

Sieve the cocoa and flour and baking powder.

Add the sugar and mix again.

Add the eggs and mix.

Add warm choc/butter mix.

Place in oven for about 25 mins. It should be crispy on top but still slightly gooey with a small wobble underneath. It will still keep cooking when you take it out so be sure not to overcook it.

After 15 mins or so I turn it on to the baking tray. Now comes the difficult part. Just leave it to cool, or it may fall apart and collapse if you cut it while warm.

This doesnt last long in our house. If you have had it for a couple of days it tastes yummy warmed up in the microwave.

The five minute brownie

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