Hand Rolled Chocolate Truffles, 3 Ways

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Hand rolled chocolate truffles are the perfect homemade gift for Christmas, and are fun to make with kids too (although obviously omit the alcohol if they’re going to be enjoying them!). Below is my base recipe, which can be adapted and altered to create infinite flavours. I’ve listed three of my favourite varieties below; spiced apple and hazelnut liqueur, tahini, pistachio and clementine and coffee liqueur and smoked salt. These will last for at least a week in the fridge, but are great to freeze for up to 3 months (pre-coating).

Base recipe for plain chocolate truffles (makes 16-20)

  • 200ml double cream 
  • 60g light brown soft sugar 
  • 225g dark chocolate
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • pinch salt

Method

  1. Roughly chop the dark chocolate and butter then place in a heatproof bowl.
  2. Heat the cream and sugar in a pan until the sugar has dissolved and the cream just comes to scalding point, then pour all over the chocolate and butter. Leave to stand for a minute or so then stir together until smooth. Stir in salt to taste then leave to cool to room temperature before chilling for at least 2 hours.
  3. Once the mix is firm, remove from the fridge and stand for 20 minutes, then scoop up balls, hand roll and dip in any coatings you fancy. 

Apple and Hazelnut Liqueur 

  • 600ml apple juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick, cracked
  • 3 cloves
  • 150ml double cream
  • 40g light brown soft sugar
  • 3-4tbsp hazelnut liqueur
  • 50g butter
  • 225g dark chocolate
  • pinch salt
  • 100g toasted crushed hazelnuts, to coat

Method

  1. Place the apple juice in a pan and boil until thick and syrupy (you’ll be left with around 50-100ml). Set the apple syrup aside to cool a little then add in the cream, sugar, cinnamon stick and cloves. Stir and leave to infuse for half an hour, then bring up to scalding point and pour (straining out the spices) all over the chocolate and butter. Leave to stand for a minute or so then stir together until smooth. Add hazelnut liqueur and salt to taste then leave to cool to room temperature. 
  2. Follow the same cooling and rolling steps as in the base recipe, then finish by coating in the crushed hazelnuts.

 

Pistachio, Clementine and Tahini 

  • 150ml double cream
  • Zest 3 clementines and the juice of 2 
  • 60g light brown soft sugar
  • 225g dark chocolate
  • 75g tahini
  • pinch salt
  • 100g toasted crushed pistachios, to coat

Method

  1. Roughly chop the dark chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl along with the tahini.
  2. Place the double cream, clementine zest and juice and sugar in a saucepan and heat to scalding point until the sugar has dissolved. Pour all over the chocolate and tahini. Follow the same stirring, cooling and rolling steps as in the base recipe, then finish by coating in the crushed pistachios.

 

Smoked Salt and Coffee Liqueur

  • 200ml double cream
  • 80g light brown soft sugar
  • 225g dark chocolate
  • 50g butter
  • 3-4tbsp coffee liqueur
  • Large pinch smoked salt 
  • 4tbsp cocoa powder

Method

  1. Roughly chop the dark chocolate and butter and place in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream and sugar in a pan until the sugar has dissolved and the cream just comes to scalding point, then pour all over the chocolate and butter. Leave to stand for a minute or so then stir together until smooth.
  2. Add a generous amount of smoked salt and coffee liqueur to taste and then follow the stirring and cooling steps then coat in cocoa powder and extra smoked salt, if you like.

Coffee Halva, Pear and Walnut Loaf Cake with Salted Tahini Butter

Cakes

It’s no secret that I love anything laden with sesame, so was thrilled when Sesame Kingdom sent me some of their delicious coffee halva, halva spread and tahini. I’m going to incorporate each of the products into a bake, and thought I’d start off with the halva, which I’ve used in brownies, ice cream and chocolate cakes before. I thought this time it made sense to try it out with some seasonal fruit and nuts and it works really well in this understated loaf format (especially warm, thickly sliced and smothered in salted tahini butter!).

Ingredients

  • 175g soft unsalted butter
  • 100g light brown soft sugar
  • 75g golden caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2tbsp instant coffee, dissolved in 2tbsp just-boiled water
  • 175g self raising flour
  • pinch salt
  • 75g walnuts
  • 2 Conference pears, peeled and diced
  • 150g coffee halva, mine was by Sesame Kingdom (plain would work too)

For the tahini butter

  • 75g butter
  • 75g tahini
  • large pinch salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line a large loaf tin. 
  2. Place the butter and both sugars in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and cream together until pale and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition and adding a small amount of the flour if the mix looks like it may curdle. 
  3. Fold in the remaining flour, salt and coffee using a large metal spoon. Add 2/3 of the walnuts and pear pieces and fold again. Scrape half of the batter into the tin then sprinkle over half of the halva. Add the remaining batter then top with the last of the halva, walnuts and pear pieces.
  4. Bake for 34-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
  5. Beat the butter, salt and tahini together until light. Serve the loaf warm with a generous helping of tahini butter.

 

Maple Pecan Brownies

Chocolate

These Autumnal brownies start with my usual base of good quality chocolate, rye flour and browned butter, but I’ve added a salted maple pecan crumble (for want of a better word) into them for a nod to Thanksgiving (I’m based in the UK but we’re adopting Thanksgiving flavours and traditions more every year!).

Ingredients

  • 200g pecans
  • 4tbsp maple syrup, I used Billingtons Amber Maple
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 250g good quality dark chocolate (70%)
  • 3 eggs, 1 egg yolk
  • 100g light brown soft sugar
  • 75g caster sugar
  • large pinch of salt, plus more for finishing
  • 100g rye flour

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease a large brownie tin and line with greaseproof paper.
  2. Place the pecans in a dry pan and toast for a few minutes, then add the maple and a pinch of salt and toss to coat. Stir for a few minutes on the heat until the nuts are sticky then tip onto a piece of greaseproof paper to cool.
  3. Once cooled, whizz the nuts into a rough crumb (it will be quite moist).
  4. Roughly chop the chocolate and tip into a heatproof bowl. Place the butter in a saucepan set over a medium heat and once melted, up the heat and wait for it to foam and smell nutty. Once you reach this stage, pour it over the chocolate. Leave it to sit for a moment then stir together to form a glossy mix.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, yolk and both sugars until pale and voluminous (this is what gives you a glossy crisp top). Tip the chocolate down the side of the bowl and add the flour, then fold until everything is well combined.
  6. Tip half the brownie batter in the prepared tin, then evenly distribute the pecan crumb on top, followed by the remaining batter. Sprinkle with salt and bake for 25-30 minutes. When they’re ready, leave to cool completely then slice up and serve.

Spiced Fig Cake with Brown Butter Caramel Sauce

Cakes

Jammy baked figs, warming spices and a slightly nutty, salty-sweet sauce; it’s seasonal bakes like this which make the transition from Summer to Autumn that bit easier (even when the rain is unrelenting, my holiday a distant memory and the sky an ominous shade of purple-grey).

Ingredients

Brown butter caramel

  • 75g butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 100ml double cream
  • good pinch salt

Spiced fig cake (makes one 8 inch cake)

  • 175g soft unsalted butter
  • 100g light brown soft sugar
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • zest 1 lemon
  • 3tbsp milk
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch salt
  • 6-8 figs
  • 1tbsp demerara sugar

Method

  1. Start by making the caramel. Place the butter in a pan and melt down over a low heat. Once melted, increase the heat and foam until browned. Pour into a bowl and leave to cool.
  2. Tip the caster sugar into a heavy bottomed pan and heat gently, swirling occasionally (but not stirring) until it melts. Increase the heat until the caramel reaches a deep golden brown, then add the browned butter and stir (take care, it will spit a little). Once the butter is well incorporated add the cream and stir. Cook for a further couple of minutes until slightly thickened, then add the salt to taste.
  3. Preheat the oven to 170c and grease/line an 8 inch baking tin. Place the butter and sugars in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and cream until light and fluffy. Add the eggs in one at a time, beating well between each addition (add a little of the flour here if the mix looks like it might curdle). Mix in the lemon zest and milk.
  4. Add the flour, spices and salt to the bowl and fold in with a large metal spoon. Dice 2/3 of the figs and fold those into the mixture too, then scrape it all into the prepared tin. Slice the remaining figs into 6ths and arrange on top of the cake, then sprinkle over the demerara sugar.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
  6. Once baked, leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove and transfer to a wire rack. You can serve this cold or warm (I prefer the latter), but either way, warm up the caramel just before serving and drizzle all over the cake slices.

Enjoy!

Cardamom Carrot Cake with Honeyed Rose Cream and Figs

Cakes, Uncategorized

At last we approach fig season- one of my absolute favourite fruits, and so synonymous with Middle Eastern cuisine that it would be wrong to incorporate them into a bake which didn’t boast nuts, heady spices or sweet floral flavours; of course this cake contains all three, making it one of my favourite recipes I’ve posted on here to date. It’s not too sweet, nor is the icing too heavy, just a well balanced, flavoursome bake with flavours which work beautifully together. I hope you enjoy.

Ingredients

For the cakes

  • 100g chopped dried figs
  • zest and juice 1 orange
  • 2-3tbsp rose water
  • 250g butter, cubed
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 50g soft light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 400g grated carrot
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • large pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 heaped tsp ground cardamom
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 100g pistachios, roughly chopped

For the icing

  • 300ml double cream
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 3tbsp honey
  • 2-3tbsp rose water

Optional

  • 50g chopped pistachios
  • 1tbsp dried rose petals
  • 4-5 figs

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line two 7 inch cake tins.
  2. Roughly chop the figs and discard the stalks. Tip into a bowl and add the orange juice and rose water. Leave to soak until required.
  3. In a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) cream together the butter and both sugars until pale and thick. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition (add a small amount of the flour with each egg to prevent curdling).
  4. Stir through the grated carrot and soaked figs (along with any juice the figs haven’t absorbed). Mix together the dry ingredients and pistachios and fold through the batter until no streaks of flour remain.
  5. Split the batter between the prepared tins and level off. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
  6. Let the cakes sit in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
  7. Meanwhile, place the cream, cream cheese, honey and rose water in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment) and whisk until pipe-able. Adjust the levels of sweetness and rose flavour to taste.
  8. Once the cakes have cooled down, slice them in half horizontally, leaving you with 4  equal layers. Pile the rose and honey cream into a piping bag with round nozzle. Place the first layer onto a serving plate and pipe little mounds all over the surface, then top with the next layer. Repeat until all the cream mixture is used up, then sprinkle rose petals and pistachios over the top and arrange the figs in an attractive way, if using.

Spiced Hot Cross Bun Ice Cream

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Warm hot cross buns; spiced, zested and dripping in butter, are as synonymous with spring as blossom and Easter egg hunts. I find the flavour particularly nostalgic, so thought I’d apply it to one of my favourite things- ice cream. This is made up of a classic custard base (which I infused with cardamom, mixed spice and cinnamon), a buttered hot cross bun crumb and plump orange-soaked raisins. The result is so delicious we got through about 1.5l in three days (wouldn’t recommend this).

Ingredients

  • 400ml whole milk
  • 400ml double cream
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 10 cardamom pods, cracked
  • 1/2 fresh nutmeg, grated
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 85g caster sugar
  • 50g light brown soft sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 225g hot cross buns
  • 1tbsp demerara sugar
  • 2tbsp butter
  • 75g raisins
  • juice and zest 1 orange

Method

  1. You will need an ice cream churner for this recipe. If the bowl of your churner needs freezing, do this the day before.
  2. Pour the milk and cream into a large saucepan. Add the cinnamon stick, nutmeg, cardamom pods and mixed spice.
  3. Gently heat the milk to scalding point (just as it starts to simmer) then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 10-20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks, caster sugar, soft light brown sugar and salt. Once this mixture is voluminous and light, strain the milk through a sieve and add in in a steady stream, whisking constantly.
  5. Pour the custard into a large clean saucepan and heat very gently, stirring constantly, until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat, close cover and leave to cool completely.
  6. Preheat the oven to 190c. While the ice cream base is cooling, make the hot cross bun crumb. To do this simply blitz the hot cross buns into a coarse crumb, then tip into a large frying pan along with the butter and demerara sugar. Stir to coat the crumbs in the melted butter and once they begin to crisp, tip onto a lined baking tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool.
  7. Place the raisins in a small bowl along with the orange juice and zest. Leave them too plump up.
  8. Once your ice cream base is completely cool, churn it for about 10 minutes or until it’s starting to thicken. At this stage, add 3/4 of the hot cross bun crumb and most of the plumped raisins. Continue to churn until thick, then tip into a large lined container, top with the remaining crumb and raisins and freeze for at least 4 hours. At this point, it’s ready to serve.

Enjoy!

Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate & Almond Butter Cookies (Vegan)

Biscuits

In the spirit of Veganuary, I thought I’d keep my recipes plant based this month. I’m not vegan myself, but am completely on board with reducing my consumption of animal products, so should probably reflect this in my baking. This week I tackled a home baking classic: the chocolate chip cookie. I’m pretty smug about the result; you would never guess they contained neither eggs nor dairy as the texture is buttery and chewy and the flavour rich, nutty and indulgent. Definitely give them a try, I’ve had great feedback from my (very willing) testers!

Ingredients

  • 150g coconut oil
  • 150g smooth almond butter
  • 75ml almond milk
  • 175g light brown soft sugar
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g rye flour
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 300g 70% dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 75g almonds, roughly chopped
  • Sea salt

Method

  1. Place the coconut oil, almond butter, almond milk, both sugars and vanilla in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (ensuring that the water does not touch the base of the bowl). Heat, stirring occasionally, until all the ingredients have melted to form a smooth mixture. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the rye flour, plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and a pinch of salt. Add in the wet ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until a soft dough has formed. Now evenly distribute 3/4 of the chocolate chunks and all the almonds through the dough. Chill for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 170c. Line 2 or 3 large baking trays with greaseproof paper. Using an ice cream scoop shape even balls of dough and arrange on the trays, allowing space for spreading ( I put up to 6 cookies on each tray). Take a couple of your reserved chocolate chunks and press into the top of each ball of dough, then sprinkle with some sea salt.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes, then carefully take the trays out and bang them sharply on a worktop. Pop them back in the oven for 3 minutes then repeat the bang technique before returning them to the oven for the final 3 minutes of baking. Once their time is up, bang once more and leave to cool. This technique is favoured by lots of bakers as it stops the cookies from puffing up too much and creates that wrinkly finish (you’ll probably need to bake the cookies in batches as this recipe will make 20-24).
  5. Leave the cookies to cool on the trays for at least half an hour before serving (unless you want a particularly warm and gooey cookie!).

Enjoy!

Stem Ginger Scones with Caramelised Apples and Calvados Mascarpone

Biscuits

Scones are as quintessentially British as a full English and a Royal Wedding, and it’s perhaps because of this that I’ve rendered them a bit boring (sorry Harry and Megan). This being said, I was recently queueing in one of those ‘trendy’ artisan bakeries (clean lines, planters, exposed brick and 7 nut milks- you know the drill) and I couldn’t help noticing how delicious this enormous stack of golden-topped scones looked. Anyway, I didn’t buy one, I went away and made these- a classic scone studded with stem ginger and served with caramelised Bramley apples, as a nod to the season, and Calvados mascarpone. So delicious and definitely not boring.

Ingredients (makes 8-10)

For the scones

  • 375g self raising flour
  • generous pinch salt
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 100g butter, cubed
  • 4tbsp caster sugar
  • 185ml room temperature milk
  • 3-4 balls of stem ginger, diced
  • 1 egg, for glazing

For the apples

  • 2-3 large Bramley apples
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 75g caster sugar

For the mascarpone

  • 200g mascarpone
  • 100ml double cream
  • 2tbsp ginger syrup, from the stem ginger jar
  • 1tbsp icing sugar
  • 1tbsp Calvados (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. For the scones, place the flour, salt, baking powder and ground ginger in a bowl and briefly mix to combine. Add the cubed butter and rub in with your fingertips, using as light a touch as possible, until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. At this stage, stir in the sugar and diced stem ginger.
  2. Add the milk and stir quickly with a cutlery knife (as if you were making pastry) until the mix comes together to form a soft dough. Dust your work surface with flour and pat the dough into a round, about 3.5-4cm thick. Cut circles out using a 5cm wide cookie cutter and line onto a lightly greased tray (try not to twist the cutter as this can affect the overall finish of your baked scones). Beat the egg with a fork and brush the tops, making sure it doesn’t run down the sides as this can prevent an even rise.
  3. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden and well risen. While the scones are baking, caramelise the apples. To do this just slice them up into wedges, then put the butter and sugar in a deep frying pan. Allow the butter to melt over a moderate heat then swirl the pan. Once the butter and sugar starts caramelising lie the apple slices in the pan and cook for a couple of minutes on both sides until golden and sticky but with a little bite remaining. Set aside.
  4. Whisk the mascarpone, cream, ginger syrup, icing sugar and Calvados together in a bowl until just combined. Don’t over-whip. To serve, slice the scones in half and top with a generous helping of mascarpone, a few slices of caramelised apple and any leftover pan juices.

Enjoy!

Caramelised White Chocolate and Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Cooking, Uncategorized

It might be winter, but there’s no reason why ice cream should be an indulgence reserved for the warmer months (especially when it tastes this good). This variety consists of a smooth and nutty peanut butter custard base and a generous helping of crunchy caramelised white chocolate, which is rippled through and sprinkled on the custard after churning. Side note, caramelising white chocolate in the oven is a game changer- it takes on a beautiful golden colour and intense butterscotch flavour; once cooled it can be broken into a crumble and used on just about anything!

Ingredients (makes about 1.5 litres)

  • 200g white chocolate
  • 250ml double cream
  • 725ml whole milk
  • 225g peanut butter (I’d usually always favour the crunchy variety, but use smooth for this!)
  • Generous pinch sea salt
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 8 egg yolks
  • a handful of peanuts, roughly chopped (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 140c. Before you make the peanut butter custard, caramelise the white chocolate. To do this break the chocolate into rough chunks and lay out on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Pop the tray in the oven for about half an hour, or until the chocolate is golden brown (it will look a little almost burnt, but don’t worry!). Set aside to cool while you make the custard.
  2. Pour the double cream and full fat milk into a large saucepan, bring to a boil then set aside. Whisk the sugar and egg yolk together in a large bowl until pale and thick, then gradually add the hot cream mixture followed by the peanut butter and salt then whisk again to combine.
  3. Return the mixture to a clean pan and set over a medium heat. Stir constantly until it thickens and reaches a custard consistency (or coats the back of a spoon- be careful not to overheat or the mixture will end up looking like scrambled eggs).
  4. Once the mixture has thickened, strain through a sieve and chill for an hour, then pour into an ice cream maker and churn for at least half an hour (or until very thick and creamy). 
  5. While the ice cream is churning, break up the caramelised white chocolate into a coarse crumble then line a 1.5litre tub or loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
  6. When the ice cream is ready, scrape it into a bowl along with 2/3 of the white chocolate crumble. Ripple the chocolate through the ice cream with a large metal spoon, then tip it into the lined tub/tin and level out. Sprinkle the remaining white chocolate crumble on top and finish with the chopped peanuts. Cover and freeze until firm. Remove the ice cream from the freezer 10 minutes before you’d like to serve it, to make scooping easier.

Enjoy!

Orange, Cardamom and White Chocolate Shortbread

Biscuits, Uncategorized

These buttery shortbreads, dipped in white chocolate and flavoured with warming cardamom and citrus, have got me feeling (dare I say it) pretty festive. The format might be a bit retro but there’s something comforting and nostalgic about bedding in with a batch of homemade biscuits and a cup of builder’s tea at this time of year. Give them a try for a quick and easy twist on a classic.

Ingredients (makes 20-24 biscuits)

  • 225g soft butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • zest 1 orange
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 75g rye flour
  • 100g cornflour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100g white chocolate
  • 50g pistachios, finely chopped (optional)

Method

  1. Place the butter, sugar and orange zest in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and beat until very light and fluffy. Add in the flours, salt and ground cardamom and beat briefly until the flour is just incorporated and the mix starts to come together in large clumps (it’s important not to over-mix here as beating for too long could result in a tough biscuit which isn’t buttery and short!).
  2. Bring the mix together with your hands and roll out on a floured surface to about 1cm thick. Stamp out biscuits using a cookie cutter (or just slice the dough into squares with a knife) and line up on a lined baking tray. Chill for at least 30 minutes, or until firm. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  3. Once your biscuits have firmed up, bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges are golden. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
  4. Melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (or melt in the microwave at 30 second increments, stirring between each) then dip each biscuit in, about half way up. Place the dipped biscuits on a piece of greaseproof paper for the chocolate to set and sprinkle with pistachios.

Enjoy!