Espresso Martini Trifles

Who doesn’t love a good pud? Coffee, chocolate, alcohol? Yes please 🙂

I saw this recipe in Sainsbury’s Magazine. I only did a minor tweak (honestly!) and I also left out the fancy bits – the cacao nibs and nut brittle, only because I wanted easy. You can see the full recipe here.

This is super easy to make and my taste testers loved it. It is like a combination of cheesecake and trifle, with just the right amount of kick from the coffee and alcohol.

Start with the custard part – put 50g dark chocolate and 300g fresh custard in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Heat gently, stirring until the chocolate has melted. Remove the bowl and set aside to cool, covering the surface of the custard with cling film to prevent a skin forming.

Make a coffee syrup by dissolving 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder and 1 tablespoon caster sugar in 2 tablespoons of just boiled water. Add 5 tablespoons of coffee liqueur, stir to mix.

Make the cheesecake layer by dissolving one and a half tablespoons instant coffee powder in 1 tablespoon of just boiled water. In a large bowl beat 400g full fat soft cheese until it softens up. Whisk in 40g of sifted icing sugar, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and the coffee, until just combined.

Get 6 glasses and crumble (leaving some large pieces) a couple of Amaretti biscuits into the bottom of each glass. Drizzle with half a tablespoon coffee syrup. Top with half a dessertspoon of the chocolate custard, and then a dollop of the cheesecake mixture. Repeat the layers. Crumble an Amaretti biscuit on the top and decorate with grated dark chocolate, or even some cream if you’re feeling decadent. Put in the fridge and chill until ready to serve.

Next time I will pipe the cheesecake mixture into the glasses, as it was too thick to spoon neatly, so it ended up looking very messy.

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

Suretta’s Chocolate Cake

A while ago I asked on social media for suggestions for baking.  These came in thick and fast!  However, one person sent me a recipe for chocolate cake and just said “trust me”.   And so I did, and I have named the cake after her. 

This recipe is slightly different in a few ways from the standard method for chocolate sponge cake recipes.  It uses oil instead of butter – no more creaming the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy!  The eggs are separated, with the yolks being mixed into the batter with the other ingredients, and only at the end are the stiffly whisked egg whites folded in.  And finally, there is a sauce which is poured over the hot cake before it is covered with icing.  The whole thing works.  I was worried that the cake might be soggy, but it wasn’t.  And, really, this is a lovely easy recipe to make, and it tastes good.

The measurements are in cups – a standard American cup measure, or if you don’t have these, one cup = 250ml

Recipe:

Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°).  Line a 20cm springform cake tin with baking parchment, or a cake tin liner.

In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup cake flour, ¼ cup cocoa powder, 2 heaped teaspoons baking powder and a pinch of salt.

In a separate bowl beat together 4 egg yolks, ½ cup of oil, ½ cup water and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well (stir them in well together, there is no need to whisk them in).

In a separate bowl beat together 4 egg whites with ½ teaspoon of baking powder until stiff peaks.

Gently fold the egg white mixture into the rest of the cake batter.

Pour into the baking tin and bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out cleanly.

In a pot put ½ cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 200ml of evaporated milk (the unsweetened kind).  Bring to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes.  Pour over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.

Leave the cake to cool.  Melt 200g chocolate with 30ml milk and pour over the cooled cake.

Enjoy your cake!

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

Salted Cashew Nut & Chocolate Chip Cookies

Whilst 2019 is not over yet, it can, in a nutshell, do one.  It’s been a difficult year.  I haven’t been able to bake as often as I would have liked to, and I seem to have had more recipe failures this year too.  This happens, can’t always be perfect as I tell Tony!  But, rationalising it aside, it is wearing.

I wanted to bake this weekend, something easy, not too much effort.  I looked through cookie recipes, but nothing really screamed “bake me!!”.   When I am feeling like this, I revert to recipes I’ve tried and trusted.  But that is a habit I need to stop.  I had a packet of salted cashews in the house, why not put them in a cookie.  Why not indeed.  I adapted (tweaked, yes, I tweaked) a recipe from Good Housekeeping magazine for chocolate chip cookies. Mine were lumpy and mis-shapen – a lot like me – but hey, looks aren’t everything!

Ingredients:

225g salted butter, softened

120g caster sugar

175g light muscovado sugar

1 ½ tablespoons golden syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs, beaten

375g plain flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

200g chocolate buttons

150g salted cashew nuts

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan oven) and line 3 baking trays with baking parchment.

Using an electric whisk, beat together the butter, sugars, vanilla and golden syrup until light and fluffy.  Add the beaten eggs and beat the mixture together well.  Fold in the flour and bicarbonate of soda and then mix in the chocolate buttons and cashew nuts.

Spoon heaped teaspoonfuls of the batter on to the baking trays, spacing them well apart.

Bake for 10 minutes for a chewy cookie, or 12 minutes for a crisper cookie.  Remove from trays and cool on wire racks.  Leave to cool completely before eating, go on, I dare you!

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

Dark Chocolate Brownies with Tahini Buttercream

Brownies, eh…….love ’em.  There is something about the dense, chocolately stodginess, lifted at times by other flavours – coffee, peanut butter, caramel, a bit of salt……aaah!

I saw this recipe for Dark Chocolate Brownies with Tahini Buttercream in the July 2019 issue of Olive magazine.  I love sesame seeds, I love halva, I love tahini, I love brownies….you get the picture?!  I am always on the lookout for a way to incorporate tahini into baking and so  I simply had to give this one a go.  The only thing I did differently was substitute some of the caster sugar for light muscovado sugar.

Ingredients:

250g butter

200g roughly chopped dark chocolate

50g plain flour

90g cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

200g golden caster sugar

150g light muscovado sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 eggs

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan). Grease and line a 22cm square brownie tin with baking paper.

Put the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water and melt gently. Stir to combine.

Put all the dry ingredients plus a pinch of salt into a large bowl and lightly whisk to remove any lumps.  Pour in the butter and melted chocolate mixture, with the vanilla extract and beat until combined.  Beat in the eggs one at a time (I whisk them up separately before adding them) until the mixture is smooth and silky.  Pour into the tin and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until a crust has formed around the edges, but the centre still has a little give. *I ended up cooking mine for 20 minutes longer.

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Leave in the tin to cool for 10 minutes before transferring on to a wire rack to cool completely.

In the meantime, make the buttercream by  whisking together 125g softened butter with 250g icing sugar until light and fluffy.  Add 4 tablespoons tahini, a pinch of sea salt flakes and beat again.  Add 1 tablespoon of whole milk if the mixture is too dry.  You want it to have a spreadable consistency.

Once the brownie has cooled, spread the buttercream over the top and cut into squares.

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These were lovely and easy to make.  I was slightly put off by the grainy look of the buttercream, but that is simply due to the texture of the tahini.  The brownies were lovely, with a rich chocolately flavour, and that lovely squidgy texture that a good brownie requires.  The tahini buttercream was nice, it gave a light “lift” to the dense richness of the brownies, but I am not convinced that it was necessary at all.  There wasn’t enough flavour for my liking, and I felt it could just as well have been interchanged for a peanut butter frosting. Maybe adding more tahini would help, I don’t know.  But that is just my opinion.  The taste testers gave the brownies a big thumbs up and demolished them in no time at all!!

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

 

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.

Ingredients:

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)

Method:

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 🙂

Chocolate & Coconut Cake

Chocolate?  Yes! Coconut?  Yes!  In a cake?  Yes!! This recipe for Chocolate & Coconut Cake in Sainsburys Magazine caught my eye.

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It is a chocolate cake batter, but with coconut milk, plenty of desiccated coconut, and ground almonds which really work well and give it a lovely texture.  The method is standard – cream butter and sugar, add eggs, fold in dry ingredients.

The resultant batter was quite stiff but I put it in the baking dish and into the oven.  The recipe suggested to bake for 35 to 40 minutes.  At 35 minutes I checked the cake but it was still wobbling, nowhere near done!  I added 10 minutes to the time and checked again, inserting a skewer into the cake, but it was not cooked through, I left it in for another 10 minutes and finally, it was cooked.  Unfortunately the top was quite cracked – I think this is either an oven temperature issue, or too much sugar?  In any event, ingredient-wise I had followed the recipe exactly.  You can see the flecks of coconut in the cake.

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I left it to cool for 15 minutes before turning out to cool completely.

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Cracks?? What cracks?!!  Yes, I turned it upside down (crafty move).

Once the cake was cooled I set to work on the fudge topping.  With ingredients of chocolate, butter, cocoa powder and icing sugar, it seemed it would be a fudgy buttercream style icing.  Once it was all mixed the recipe said “…pour over the cake…

Pour???? Something has gone wrong….

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This was more like chocolate cement…I felt like giving up.  I added a bit of milk as the recipe suggested but this didn’t help significantly.  I had no more chocolate, so the option of making a second batch of fudge icing was out of the question.  Out of desperation I mixed up a small batch of chocolate buttercream, using the cocoa powder and mixed this with the stodgy mess I had created.  It was marginally better.  I was determined to somehow ice the cake and take photos.  I spread the icing on the cake, but the texture was awful.  My guess is the chocolate had split, which would explain the “graininess”.  Not to be outdone, I remembered I had some edible glitter.  Let’s be honest, there is not much that cannot be improved by a little glitter!!  And so I sprayed the surface with gold glitter.

And, so, there we have it.  The glittery chocolate and coconut cake.  The taste test? The cake is good, nice flavour and texture.  The icing?  No.  It is perfectly edible, but it is not what it should have been (though I suspect this is not the recipe’s fault, but rather my own).  I’m disappointed about that.  Would I make it again?  No, there are too many other options which I prefer.

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

Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread

I have seen this recipe mentioned in various magazines and online.  Everyone (everyone) raved about it.  I love recipes that are not complicated, and, to be honest, you had me at “salted”…………..if you don’t get that salt/sweet thing, you are really missing out!

I got this in Sainsburys Magazine, but the recipe (see here)  was originated by Alison Roman.

I don’t have a free-standing mixer, or a mixer with a paddle attachment, and so whilst I could mix the sugars and butter well, and I could add some of the flour, I had to give up at some point and mix in the rest of the flour and chocolate with a wooden spoon, and eventually my hands (I couldn’t get the  mixture to stick together….)

Sugars, butter, and vanilla are whisked until light and fluffy and then the flour and chocolate chunks are added.  The dough is then divided in half and covered with clingfilm and rolled into a log shape.

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The recipe says this makes 24 cookies.  I couldn’t see how I would be able to get 12 cookies out of my dough. Anyway, onwards and upwards, so I put the dough in the fridge to firm up.  I decided to only bake half the dough this time, leaving the other half for another day.  I like that about cookie dough, once you’ve gone this far, it’s so easy just to bake a fresh batch of cookies with minimum effort whenever the need arises – just slice and bake!!

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I didn’t roll my dough in sugar.  Personal preference, just like my intolerance for rolling doughnuts in sugar……….I think it’s not necessary.  On slicing my rounds, I had problems with some of the dough “breaking away” because of all the chocolate pieces.  Strange as it is for me to say, I actually think there is too much chocolate………..(please don’t shoot me).  As a result once the dough rounds were on the baking tray, I ended up mashing some pieces of chocolate into the rounds, rather than throwing away the bits that had broken off.  I managed to get 7 slices from the piece of dough that I used.  I realise that in fact my estimation of 5-6 cm was somewhat out (no jokes please) and I should have rolled the dough out into a thinner log.  This too, will explain why I ended up cooking it for almost double the recommended time.

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The finished cookies are delicious.  I do love the sprinkling of sea salt on the top.

Would I do anything different next time?  I would form the dough into a thinner roll, I would add less chocolate.  I would love to try it with orange zest and walnuts instead of the chocolate. I definitely think there are plenty of options!

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