chocoholic

Dark Chocolate and Salted Tahini Cookies

Tahini, a thick sesame paste commonly used in Middle Eastern cooking, is my go to ingredient for when I want to  add a deep, nutty and slightly bitter flavour to a dish. I don’t usually think of incorporating tahini into my baking (for some unknown reason), and more often than not I’ll just pop it into baba ganoush, add it into a yoghurt dressing or drizzle it neat over slow cooked lamb and roasted roots to balance out a sweet date syrup glaze. This being said, yesterday I fancied making some cookies (someone put a stop to my wild and spontaneous lifestyle please…) and decided to bring tahini into the mix alongside sea salt and rich dark chocolate- the major players in my cookie game. The resulting cookies are absolutely delicious with a good balance of sweet, savoury, nutty and salty flavours; one hundred percent give the recipe a go, it’s a real winner.

Ingredients

  • 115g tahini
  • 110g unsalted butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 150g dark brown soft sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp sea salt
  • 300g plain flour
  • 300g coarsely chopped dark chocolate, plus 50g extra for decoration (optional)
  • 2tbsp toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line 3 large baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  2. Place the butter, tahini and both sugars in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) and beat until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. If the mix curdles or you’re worried about curdling, add 2tbsp of the flour with each egg.
  3. Once the eggs are well incorporated add the bicarbonate of soda, salt and flour then mix to combine. Finally, add in the coarsely chopped chocolate and very briefly mix once more just to distribute through the dough.
  4. Pop the dough in the fridge for half an hour to firm up a little, then line even balls onto the prepared trays leaving room for spreading (I like to use an ice cream scoop for this). Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are turning a light golden colour but the middles are still very soft (they will firm up during cooling).
  5. To finish the cookies melt the additional dark chocolate and drizzle over the tops, then sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

Enjoy!

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Rose and Pistachio Chocolate Tart

Amelia Rope recently sent me some delicious pale rose chocolate bars to have a little play with. I decided that with Valentines day around the corner I’d use them in a simple but luxurious tart, the ideal dessert to round off a lovingly (hah) prepared meal (disclaimer: you do not need a floppy haired Valentine/ flickering candle / rom-com vibe to enjoy these).

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Ingredients (makes 4 mini tarts or 1 six inch tart):

For the crust:

  • 200g chocolate biscuits (I used bourbons)
  • 40g dark chocolate
  • 50g melted butter
  • pinch salt

For the filling:

  • 200g Amelia Rope Pale Rose chocolate
  • 100ml double cream
  • 30g butter
  • 1tbsp caster sugar

To finish:

  • 50g toasted chopped pistachios
  • 30g melted and cooled dark chocolate
  • rose petals/ silver leaf for decoration(optional)

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Method:

  1. Start off by greasing your tart case (or cases) ready for the biscuit crust (I always use a loose bottom tart tin).
  2. For the crust, place the biscuits, chocolate and salt in a blade mixer and blitz to create crumbs. Add the melted butter and briefly blitz again to combine, then tip into your tin (or distribute between your mini  tart tins). Smooth down evenly onto the base and up the sides with the back of a spoon to create a case ready for the filling. Chill for 30 minutes.
  3. While your case is firming up make the filling. To do this simply place the chocolate, cream, butter and sugar in a heatproof bowl and set it over a pan of gently simmering water. Slowly melt, stirring occasionally, then once you have a smooth mixture set aside to cool.
  4. When the chocolate filling has cooled, pour it into the tart case and level out. Set aside to firm up for 1 hour  then carefully remove from the tin. Brush the rim of the case with your melted dark chocolate and sprinkle over the pistachios. Decorate with silver leaf and rose petals, if you like.

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Gold Splatter Cake

This bake is just my go to chocolate cake (My Favourite Chocolate Cake) but I thought I’d share the photos as I went a bit rogue with the decoration. I wanted to do something a bit different from my go to chocolate shards/praline/freeze dried fruit, so rooted around my baking stuff and uncovered some long forgotten metallic spray and edible gold gel. I covered the base cake in a layer of glossy dark chocolate ganache (made by pouring 100ml hot cream over 150g chopped dark chocolate, stirring together then cooling), allowed it to set a little then flicked and sprayed it gold; I really like the minimal result and think it could be a great effect for a tiered celebration cake.

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Be sure to send me photos if you try it out!

GF Brazil Nut Brownies

These quick and easy brownies are rich and delicious. I’ve swapped out the flour for ground almonds to make them gluten free which means they’re even more moist than your usual brownie, and that can only be a good thing! I love the brazil nuts in these but you could sub in any nuts you like, or dried fruit and chocolate chips.

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Ingredients:

  • 225g dark chocolate
  • 225g butter
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 100g roughly chopped brazil nuts
  • pinch sea salt

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c and grease/line a brownie tray.
  2. Place the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt over a pan of gently simmering water, stirring occasionally.
  3. Allow the chocolate to cool then whisk in the vanilla, sugar, eggs and ground almonds. Keep whisking until the batter becomes thick and light, then fold in the brazil nuts.
  4. Pour the brownie mix into the prepared tray and bake for 20-25 minutes (the top should be crisp and the middle gooey).
  5. Leave the brownie to cool and firm in the tin then sprinkle with sea salt, slice up and serve.

Hazelnut Latte Eclairs

Everyone loves a chocolate eclair, and these Starbucks inspired ones (filled with coffee cream, dipped in milk chocolate and topped with a strip of dark chocolate and hazelnut praline) make a nice seasonal change from the usual vanilla cream variety.

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Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 85g butter
  • 220ml water
  • 105g plain flour
  • 100ml strong black coffee, cold
  • 2 tbsp light brown soft sugar
  • 300ml double cream
  • 100ml mascarpone
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 100g hazelnuts
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 100g dark chocolate

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Line 2 large baking trays with greaseproof paper. Sieve the flour twice to ensure there are no lumps then pour onto a square of greaseproof (this means it is ready to tip straight into the choux when you need it!).
  2. Place the butter and water in a saucepan. Heat gently until the butter has melted then bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat and immediately shoot in all the flour. Stir very quickly for about a minute until the mixture is shiny and coming away from the sides of the pan. Now tip into a large bowl and spread thinly to speed up cooling.
  3. Once the choux mixture (called a panade at this egg-less stage!) has cooled to room temperature it’s time to add the eggs. Whisk the eggs in a jug to break them up then pour 1/4 into the bowl. Whisk with electric beaters to fully incorporate, then keep adding  a little more and whisking until you reach a dropping consistency (this means the mixture should fall off a spoon when shaken after about 4 seconds). You might not need all the egg.
  4. Pile the choux into a piping bag and pipe 5 inch lines onto the prepared sheets (leaving space for expansion). Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden then pierce each eclair with a skewer, reduce the temperature to 180c and bake for a further 10 minutes to dry out. When they’re ready they should be crisp and nicely browned. Cool on a wire rack while you make the fillings and toppings.

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  1. For the coffee cream, heat the brown sugar and coffee together then set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the mascarpone, cream and icing sugar until thick. Fold in the coffee mix when it’s cooled completely.
  3. For the hazelnut praline, place the sugar and nuts in a small saucepan. Stir occasionally to encourage the sugar to melt then take it to a deep golden colour. Pour onto greaseproof  paper, leave to harden then break into pieces or smash into a dust (depending on your decorating ideas!).
  4. For the chocolate topping simply melt the milk chocolate and allow it to cool. If you’d like to recreate the chocolate strip just melt and set the dark chocolate on a flat surface in the fridge, then slice into your desired shapes.
  5. To assemble the eclairs, slice them in half and fill with the coffee cream, dip in the melted chocolate and decorate with the set dark chocolate and praline.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Oreo Celebration Cake

Chocolate seems to be dominating my blog recently, so before I break from that theme to enter other territories I thought I would share my Oreo chocolate cake recipe. It’s made up of three chocolate fudge cake layers which are sandwiched between chocolate ganache, slathered in Oreo cookie frosting and topped with chocolate drips and Oreo cookies. Make it for your next special occasion and your guests will be forever grateful (if a little heavier…).

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Ingredients (the quantities might sound like a lot- but this is a big old cake!):

  • For the cake: 400g plain flour, 450g caster sugar, 125g cocoa powder, 3tsp baking powder, 3tsp bicarbonate of soda, 4 eggs, 350ml milk, 225ml vegetable oil, large pinch salt, 300ml boiling water
  • For the ganache: 300g milk chocolate, 200ml double cream
  • For the Oreo frosting: 300g butter, 800g icing sugar, 3tbsp milk, 1 pack oreos (crushed into crumbs)
  • For the drips: 100g dark chocolate, 120ml double cream

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c then grease and line three 8 inch cake tins.
  2. Place your plain flour, caster sugar, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir briefly to combine.
  3. In a jug, mix together the eggs, milk and oil. Make a well in the bowl of dry ingredients and pour in the wet. Whisk together until smooth, then measure out your boiling water. Add the boiling water in a few additions, carefully mixing to distribute it through the cake mix. It will be very runny, but this is what makes the cake so moist. Once smooth, pour the batter into the three cake tins and bake for 30-35 minutes. Once baked, leave to cool completely.

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  1. While the cakes are cooling make the chocolate ganache. Finely chop the milk chocolate and place in a bowl. Heat the cream until nearly boiling then pour straight over the chopped chocolate and allow to melt. Stir until smooth then set aside to cool.
  2. Now make the buttercream. Place the butter in a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) and whisk (using electric beaters) until pale and thick. Add the icing sugar in additions and keep beating until it becomes white, light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Now add the Oreo crumbs and milk. Whisk again to combine then adjust the consistency by adding a drop more milk if necessary. Set aside.
  3. Make the chocolate ganache for the drips now, to allow cooling/ thickening time. This ganache should be runnier than your filling you’ve already made.  As before, heat the cream and pour all over the chopped dark chocolate. Mix until smooth then set aside until it reaches a thick but still pourable consistency.
  4. Now it’s time to assemble your cake! Layer up the chocolate sponges with milk chocolate ganache (and a little Oreo frosting too, if you like!) then coat the whole cake in a thin layer of the Oreo frosting (a crumb coating). Chill for 10 minutes, then use the remaining frosting to create a thick outer layer. Smooth down with a palette knife and cake scraper. Chill again to firm the edges, then pour the runny dark chocolate ganache over the top, allowing it to drip down the sides.
  5. Now you can garnish with more Oreos and serve!

Willie’s Cacao: Cherry and Chocolate Choux Doughnuts

The final recipe in my chocolate experimentation series pairs Willie’s Cacao sweet Peruvian Chulucana with a homemade cherry and brandy compote, chocolate cream and crisp golden choux pastry- perfect for an afternoon tea or an evening treat. This chocolate has fruity sweet flavours so would also work well with raspberries, blackberries and dried fruit.

CHOUX USE 2

INGREDIENTS

For the choux pastry: 3 eggs, 85g butter, 220ml water, 105g plain flour, pinch salt

For the cherry compote: double handful fresh cherries (chopped and de-stoned), 75g caster sugar, 2tbsp brandy

For the chocolate cream filling: 300ml double cream, 2tbsp cocoa powder, 2tbsp icing sugar

For the topping: 200g Peruvian Chulucana chocolate (or a good quality 70% dark chocolate), 50g good quality white chocolate

CHOUX 1

METHOD

Start with the cherry filling. Place the cherries in a saucepan along with the caster sugar and brandy. Heat slowly for 10-15 minutes, or until the cherries release their juices and start thickening up to form a compote. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200c (fan). Very lightly grease a baking tray with butter.
Now make your choux pastry. Sieve the flour and salt three times to ensure no lumps are left, then pour it into the centre of a piece of greaseproof paper, ready for the next step.

Place the butter and water in a saucepan and gently heat until the butter has melted. Do not let it boil during this stage or the water will evaporate too rapidly. Once melted, increase the temperature and bring to a rolling boil. Add the plain flour in one go and remove from the heat- now vigorously mix with a wooden spoon until it is well combined, shiny and comes away from the sides of the pan. Spoon this mixture into a bowl and leave to cool to body temperature.

Whisk the eggs together in a jug. Once your choux mix has cooled sufficiently, start adding your egg a little at a time, mixing with an electric whisk between each addition. You might not need all the egg- just stop when you achieve a smooth and glossy dropping consistency (where the mix falls off a wooden spoon after around 6 seconds).

When your choux is ready spoon it into a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle. Pipe doughnut shapes onto your prepared baking tray, leaving space for expansion between each. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden and well risen, then turn the heat down to 170c and remove your pastry from the oven. Insert a skewer into each doughnut to allow the steam to escape then bake for a further 5-10 minutes to dry out thoroughly. Once baked the choux should have firm sides and be a deep golden brown colour. Cool on a wire rack.

CHOUX USE 3

While the choux is cooling, melt your chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, then set aside to cool. Finally, take your cream and sift in the icing sugar and cocoa powder, then whisk to soft peaks.

To assemble, slice the doughnuts in half horizontally and fill the lower half with some cherry compote followed by a ring of piped chocolate cream. Top with the other pastry half then carefully pour some melted dark chocolate over. Repeat with the other choux rings. Decorate with leftover cherries and melted or grated white chocolate, if you like.

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Thanks to Willie’s Cacao for sending me their delicious chocolate and thanks to you for reading my chocolate based recipes this week. If you want to find out more about the company and the bean to bar philosophy, click here.