Boozy Chocolate Bars

I am still trying to fit more “normal” into my  life and whilst I don’t often have the energy to bake I was determined to find something simple and easy to achieve.  I trawled through my collection of recipe magazines and books, and in a Good Housekeeping Chocolate Collection magazine from spring 2012 (yes, I never throw anything away) I found this recipe.

It is, in effect, a chocolate fridge cake type recipe, you know the type, with endless variations.  No baking involved, and you can be very creative with flavours.  I did a post on one a while back and thought it was time to try something slightly different.

I also broke my rule on only using Lindt chocolate in recipes, after my previous disaster when the chocolate siezed when I melted it, and I had to throw the whole lot away. This recipe calls for 350g dark chocolate and I need to start economising, so Cadburys it was!  There is also brandy soaked dried fruit (fruit = one of your 5-a-day!!) and ginger. Yum.


150g dried apricots, chopped

150g prunes, chopped

3 large balls of stem ginger, drained and chopped, plus 1 1/2 tablespoons of ginger syrup

75g golden syrup

125 ml brandy

350g dark chocolate

150g butter

175g digestive biscuits, crushed or broken into small chunks (I used Hobnobs instead)


Put the apricots, prunes, stem ginger, ginger syrup, golden syrup and brandy into a pan.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat and leave to soak for 30 minutes.

Line an 18cm x 18cm tin with cling film, with enough overlap on each side to fold over and wrap the fridge cake entirely.

Melt the chocolate with the butter in a heatproof bowl, over a pot of just boiled water, once melted, stir so that butter and chocolate are well mixed.  Add the broken/crushed biscuits and soaked fruit mixture, mixing together well.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, and level off before wrapping in the clingfilm and chilling for at least 6 hours, or overnight.  Patience is a virtue.

Boozy bars

Cut into chunks and serve.  My tasting panel gave this recipe a big thumbs up!

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂


Bounty Cheesecake


Yes, it has been a while since I have blogged.  I’m afraid life defeated me for a while.  However, once again, my thoughts turned to baking. I couldn’t decide what to do, and in the end I thought cheesecake.  I love cheesecake, a nice stodgy, densely cheesy pudding. Baked or not, it’s a luxurious, comforting eat.

Today I chose a no-bake cheesecake, and it is a recipe new to me.  Of course, I did the few obligatory tweaks, I can’t help myself!

This starts with a biscuit crumb base and I used milk chocolate Hobnobs.  My preferred method for crushing the biscuits is to put them in a strong plastic bag, put it on the floor and stamp on it – just being careful not to burst the bag.  Who says baking isn’t physical! Mixed with melted butter, the chocolate on the biscuits melts nicely, and makes the difference from being a plain crumb crust. A bit of desiccated coconut adds to the texture.

A few chopped bounty bars on top of the crust and then the cheesecake mixture (cream cheese, vanilla, icing sugar, a jar of bounty spread, double cream) goes on top.  This goes into the fridge to set for a couple of hours. Once set, I melted some Galaxy milk chocolate and poured it over the top, and once again back into the fridge to set.

And there you have it.  Now I wonder how it would turn out if I replaced the vanilla extract with a coconut liqueur…..?

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

Chocolate peanut butter & caramel brownies


I’ve had a craving for chocolate, and recently saw a new recipe for chocolate brownies which contained ground almonds.  Of course, delicious as plain brownies are, a little bit of extra “embellishment” is always good!

Brownies are comforting, dense, slightly stodgy, and very adaptable, and whilst my favourite is a chocolate brownie (I have yet to try cheesecake-type brownies, I’m sure I’ll love them too….) I thought a bit of peanut butter (Reese’s Peanut Butter Minis) and caramel (Cadburys Caramel Nibbles) would add a bit more indulgence.

I followed the recipe (unusual for me, I know!) and threw the extras in just before putting the mixture in the oven.  I didn’t have the correct sized baking tin, and so ensued a lot of pulling out, testing, putting back in, re-setting the timer… get the picture!

But in the end I achieved my desired, dense, chocolately, slightly sticky, indulgent chocolate peanut butter and caramel brownies.

And the house smells deliciously chocolatey in the process – breathe….. 🙂


Boozy Banana Bread (adults only)

I bet you’re all sick of me posting about this banana bread.  Go on, admit it!  This will be the final time I post about it (says she) as I think the recipe has been tweaked as far as I can go.  The cake is not strictly boozy but has alcohol in it.  The flavour is subtle, giving it that extra je ne sais quoi.  I have researched this recipe and each version I see of it is slightly different.  I wanted to make it with all the elements that suited me and so, with the help of some over-ripe bananas I have been experimenting, and finally here it is.

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (160°C Fan).  Line a 2lb loaf tin with baking parchment (I love the loaf pan liners from Lakeland Limited)

Mash 3 large or 4 small over-ripe bananas, mix in 50ml bourbon or whiskey. I have used Jack Daniels in this one, but have previously used Jim Beam Maple, and Jamesons, all of which work particularly well with the flavour of the cake.

In a separate bowl, mix 20g cake flour with 200g milk chocolate buttons – or chopped chunks of milk chocolate.  I like Galaxy chocolate for this.  I have tried the recipe using dark chocolate, but really think milk chocolate works better here.

With an electric whisk, whisk together 2 large eggs, 80g golden caster sugar, 100g light muscovado sugar and 120ml light olive oil (or sunflower oil). Whisk till well blended, about 3-5 minutes.

Add 220g cake flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 3 generous teaspoons of baking powder.  Mix together gently and then give it a good whisk again. Fold in the chocolate with remaining flour and gently mix.  Pour into loaf tin and bake for 50 minutes.


It is done when a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave in the pan for five minutes and then remove from the pan and liner and leave on a rack to cool.


Whatever you are doing, wherever you are, I hope you have a lovely peaceful weekend 🙂



Egg-free Chocolate Mousse

I love chocolate mousse. But I hate eggs, especially raw eggs.  My first attempt at an egg-free chocolate mousse was not quite a disaster, but it was too dense and heavy. It was rich and chocolatey, but not a mousse. So I did a bit more research and found some recipes for vegan chocolate mousse using the liquid from a can of chickpeas.

The idea of this perked me up.  I have made meringues with chickpea liquid and they turned out beautifully.  Not an egg in sight.  So, moving on to chocolate mousse. Today was the day to try this recipe.

First to melt the chocolate.

Remove it from the heat and set it aside to cool. In the meantime get whisking that chickpea liquid.

Who would have thought that this liquid could be whisked up like egg whites?! It’s magic!

I admit I had a dilemma.  If I left the chocolate too long, it would start to solidify.  If I mixed it in whilst it was still warm, would it be a problem? I let it cool as much as I could, but before it started to solidify I folded the whisked chickpea liquid into the chocolate.

I spooned the mousse into little ramekins and put them in the fridge.  Alas, this story does not have the ending I wanted.  The mousse turned out with a gritty texture – the chocolate had obviously either seized on contact with the whisked chickpea liquid, or just solidified whilst it was being folded in. Win some, lose some.  I am disappointed, as I was really excited about the prospect of being able to turn out lovely light, fluffy chocolate mousse – made without a single egg.  Reading online I know many people have had success with this, so if anyone (are you out there anywhere???) has any tips for getting this right, please let me know.  All advice would be much appreciated.


Chocolate Fridge Cake (a Misnomer)

This really is a misnomer.  It is not a cake at all, it involves no baking.  But this is one of those recipes that is so easy to make, and so forgiving – you can use any combination of ingredients to add to the chocolate base.

I have been trying to get this recipe “just right” for too long. The issue is the chocolate base.  I want this to be firm enough to hold together, so that you can pick up a small square of this fridge cake with your fingers, instead of needing a spoon or a fork, and yet it must be just enough on the soft side of firm as to not be hard when you bite into it. You want a slightly forgiving level of firmness.  Yes, fussy, I know! There are numerous recipes for this and equally numerous are the variations on quantity of ingredients for the chocolate base.  You start off with chocolate, golden syrup and butter.  Oh, but the quantities vary so much.  Too much butter and you end up with an oily mess, too much syrup and you have a sticky gloop that will not co-operate… see what I’m getting at here?

Sadly I have not yet found my perfect combination, although for this particular batch I used 300g of milk chocolate, 150g of golden syrup and 120g of salted butter. This is melted together in a bowl over a pot of simmering water.  Now comes the fun part!  You add to this melted chocolate mixture your choice of “filler” ingredients.  Some type of biscuit or cracker to add crunch, and then it is all about texture and flavour – dried cranberries, raisins, cherries, nuts, orange zest, candied citrus peel, mini marshmallows….the choice is endless.

I have a love – not just a love but a complete and over-riding passion for the combination of salty and sweet – and, just mention salted caramel and I am all yours!  Galaxy used to make some chocolate caramel balls which were PERFECT for this recipe.  Unfortunately they seem to have stopped them.  I used a bag of Rolos instead, a bag of Reece’s peanut butter cups minis, plus a large pack of salted pretzels, with just a tiny sprinkling of sea salt flakes over the top. Chocolate, caramel, peanut butter, salt…….who’s arguing! The result – sweet and salty, sticky and gooey, crunchy and chewy. Sigh……


The “C” Word (part 3) aka Bûche de Noël

Once again we go back to chocolate, and somehow it wouldn’t be Christmas without a Bûche de Noël – also known as Chocolate Log. I have made this a number of times, and always use the recipe in Nigella Lawson’s “Christmas”. It works, it is delicious. And, it contains no flour!  The sponge consists entirely of eggs, cocoa powder, caster sugar and vanilla essence.

Whisk the egg whites with some of the caster sugar; whisk the egg yolks with the remainder of the caster sugar until creamy and mousse-like; add the cocoa powder and vanilla, combine with egg whites and pour into baking tin.

Once baked, remove from the oven, cool slightly before turning out onto a sheet of baking paper and carefully roll up.  Leave to cool before icing.

And, finally…..p1000374f

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, have a peaceful and happy weekend 🙂