recipe

Coffee, Chocolate and Cardamom Cake

Moist coffee and hazelnut sponge, rich cardamom-spiked ganache and smooth espresso buttercream make up this delicious twist on an old favourite; I love the classic combination of coffee and chocolate (painfully predictable- I am addicted to both caffeine and cacao) but the cardamom adds a welcome aroma of spice which makes this cake an altogether more decadent one than your standard coffee and walnut. Enjoy on an Autumnal evening for a proper grown-up treat.

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 350g softened butter
  • 250g soft light brown sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 350g self raising flour
  • pinch salt
  • 12 cardamom pods, emptied and ground
  • 4tbsp coffee granules mixed with 3tbsp boiling water
  • 3tbsp milk
  • 100g chopped hazelnuts

For the cardamom ganache:

  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 250ml double cream
  • 8 cardamom pods, cracked open

For the coffee buttercream:

  • 200g softened butter
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 3tsp instant coffee dissolved in 2tbsp boiling water
  • 2-3tbsp milk

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line two 8 inch cake tins.
  2. For the coffee hazelnut sponge, place the butter and sugar in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and cream together until pale and thick. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition to ensure the ingredients are well combined (add about 1tbsp of the flour with each egg if you’re worried about curdling).
  3. Next fold in the flour, salt and ground cardamom with a large metal spoon then finally stir in the coffee, milk and hazelnuts.
  4. Split the cake batter between the prepared tins and level off. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
  5. While the cakes are baking make the chocolate cardamom ganache. Place the cream and cracked cardamom pods in a saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil then switch off and leave to infuse for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, chop up the chocolate and tip into a jug. Once the cream and cardamom has infused place back on the heat, bring to the boil then pour it over the chocolate through a sieve (to catch the cardamom pods). Let the cream melt the chocolate for a couple of minutes then stir to create a smooth ganache. Set aside for later.
  6. Now make the buttercream. To do this just cream together the butter and icing sugar with either electric beaters or a stand mixer with paddle attachment until very light and pale (about 10 minutes). Now add the milk and coffee and beat again to combine.
  7. Once the cakes are baked leave to cool completely in the tins, then turn out and slice each in half horizontally (leaving you with four layers).
  8. To assemble the cake stack up the layers sandwiched with chocolate cardamom ganache. Cover the whole cake in the coffee buttercream and decorate with piped buttercream peaks and a dusting of espresso powder.

Enjoy!

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Sticky Fig Cake with Pistachio Praline

Ripe, pink fleshed figs are one of my very favourite fruits and pair brilliantly with so many other ingredients, from goats cheese and honey to cured hams and walnuts. In this cake I have used dried figs soaked in tea ( a method commonly used with dates to make sticky toffee pudding) to flavour the spiced sponge, then added a salty sweetness with the caramel drizzle and finished it off with a tangy mascarpone cheese icing, earthy pistachio praline and slices of fresh fig. Though the finished cake makes for a really beautiful centre piece, you could also enjoy it as a warm pudding with the salted caramel and a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Ingredients

For the sponge:

  • 300g dried figs, chopped
  • 325ml hot black tea
  • 185g soft butter
  • 275g light brown soft sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 375g self raising flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch black pepper
  • pinch salt

For the salted caramel (this is a sort of cheats caramel- a bit like butterscotch sauce):

  • 50g butter
  • 50g golden syrup
  • 50g light brown soft sugar
  • 50ml double cream
  • pinch sea salt

For the pistachio praline:

  • 150g caster sugar
  • 200g shelled pistachios

For the mascarpone icing:

  • 200g mascarpone
  • 300ml double cream
  • 3-4tbsp icing sugar

Toppings (optional)

  • fresh figs and herbs

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c fan (325F/ gas mark 3). Grease and line a deep square tin (around 22x22cm).
  2. Place the chopped dry figs in a bowl or jug and pour over the hot tea. Leave to infuse while you start making the cake batter.
  3. In a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) cream together the butter and sugar along with the vanilla until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.
  4. Once the eggs are incorporated, sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt. Fold until the batter is smooth and all the ingredients are well combined then tip in your soaked figs (along with the tea) and fold once more.
  5. Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and level off. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs attached when inserted.
  6. While your cake is baking, make the salted caramel. To do this simply pop the butter, syrup, sugar and cream in a saucepan and melt together. Once melted bring to the boil and let it bubble for a couple of minutes, then remove from the heat, add the salt to taste and leave to cool.
  7. Next, make the pistachio praline topping. Line a tray with greaseproof paper and put the sugar and pistachios in a heavy bottom pan. Heat gently until the sugar starts melting. Swirl the pan occasionally to coat the pistachios and prevent burning. Once the sugar has completely melted increase the heat and turn the pistachios with a wooden spoon until the caramel reaches a deep golden colour, then tip onto the prepared tray and leave to set hard.
  8. Lastly, make the mascarpone icing. In a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment) whisk together the mascarpone, cream and icing sugar until you have a spreadable (but not overly whipped) consistency.
  9. Once your cake is baked, prick lots of holes all over the surface and pour on about 2/3 of the salted caramel, allowing it to sink into the sponge. Leave to cool in the tin.
  10. When your cake is completely cool you’re ready to decorate. Spread the mascarpone icing in an even layer all over the top and sides (or just the top if you like, it’s up to you!) and smooth with a palette knife. Use the remaining cooled caramel to drizzle down the sides then crush up the praline and sprinkle around the edges. Arrange the fresh fig slices on top and add some woody herbs (such as rosemary) for colour.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Honeycomb Celebration Cake

Whenever I bake a chocolate cake (the layered kind, not the flourless, fudgy sort) I’m looking for a sponge which actually tastes of chocolate, is really moist without being overly dense and isn’t too sickly sweet. I’m always tweaking my go to chocolate cake with these characteristics in mind and think I’ve pretty much cracked it with this recipe. I’ve teamed the light chocolate layers with honeycomb toppers, salted toffee cream filling and a rich ganache coating here, but you could definitely fill it with chocolate buttercream if you want a pure chocolate fest.

Note: this cake is so extra and is definitely one for a special occasion- you could half the recipe and just coat with ganache if you’re after something indulgent but a little more modest

Ingredients (makes a tall 8 inch celebration cake- feeds 12-14 people)

For the cake:

  • 375g plain flour
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 85g cocoa powder
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 2tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • large pinch sea salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 325ml milk
  • 175ml vegetable oil
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 325ml just boiled water
  • 2tsp instant coffee granules

For the toffee cream filling:

  • 325g soft light brown sugar
  • 225ml double cream
  • 175g butter
  • pinch sea salt

For the ganache:

  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 150g milk chocolate
  • 300ml double cream

For the honeycomb (this makes more than enough- I use about half and store the rest in a jar for my many weak snacking moments):

  • 60g butter
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 60g golden syrup
  • 1 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c (325F / gas mark 3). Grease and line two 8 inch cake tins.
  2. Melt the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (or in the microwave in short stints, stirring often). Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl stir together the flour, caster sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. In a jug, lightly whisk the eggs, milk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the contents of the jug into it. Stir the wet and dry ingredients together until well combined then add the melted chocolate and stir again (I just use a balloon whisk for this- nothing electric is required as you don’t need to incorporate much air).
  4. Pour your just boiled water over the instant coffee granules and once they’ve dissolved, gradually add to the chocolate batter, stirring gently with your whisk as you go. The final cake batter will be very thin but don’t worry, it bakes beautifully.
  5. Split the mix evenly between the prepared tins and bake for 45-55 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean with a few moist crumbs attached). Once baked leave to cool completely in the tins.

  1. While your cakes are cooking and cooling you can get on with the filling, ganache and honeycomb toppers.
  2. For the filling, place the cream and sugar in a saucepan and gently heat until the sugar has dissolved and you are left with a smooth caramel coloured cream. Set aside, add the salt (to taste) and cool completely. Once your cream has cooled take the butter and whisk (in a stand mixer or with electric beaters) until it reaches a light, whipped consistency then gradually add your cream mixture. Keep whisking this until it has thickened and is spreadable. Set aside for later.
  3. For the ganache chop up the chocolate and scrape into a heatproof bowl or jug, then heat the cream until it just reaches boiling point and pour directly on top. Leave for a couple on minutes then stir to make sure the chocolate has melted into the cream leaving you with a smooth ganache. Set aside to cool and thicken.
  4. For the honeycomb line a baking tray with some lightly oiled baking paper then place the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan. Gently heat until all the ingredients start melting together then stir to combine. Turn up the heat and leave to bubble until it reaches a deep golden colour then add the bicarbonate of soda and briefly mix to make sure it’s evenly distributed- it should now start bubbling up and becoming lacy in appearance. At this point pour it quickly onto the lined baking tray and leave to set hard.
  5. Once you’ve made all your elements and they’ve cooled to room temperature you’re ready to assemble the cake. To do this slice any uneven tops off your sponges then slice in half horizontally, leaving you with four layers.
  6. Sandwich the layers on top of one another, filling with the toffee cream as you go. Once stacked, spread any remaining toffee cream all over the cake and then chill for 10 minutes (this setting time makes it easier to cover the cake neatly in ganache).
  7. After chilling the cake spread the ganache all over its surface. I used a palette knife to create a line pattern on my cake to tie in with the honeycomb theme but you could make it super sleek and smooth or go for a really rustic look- it’s up to you. To finish it off break up the honeycomb and use as decorations; I also made some toppers by setting melted chocolate over bubble wrap, but it really isn’t necessary!

I hope you all enjoy this recipe- my family and friends went absolutely mad for it so it’s definitely worth the effort if you’re up for a little bit of a baking project!

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).

tart1

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)

tart2

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.

tart3

Savse Smoothies: Super Red Broken Glass Cheesecakes

These individual cheesecake shots are light, tasty and great for a Halloween party. Kids will love the ‘broken glass’ shards and the refreshing strawberry flavour combined with a nutty hazelnut base is guaranteed to be a hit with all ages. To create the strawberry filling and gory ‘blood’ I used the Super Red smoothie from the Savse core range. To see how you can use other varieties in the range, take a look back at my Thai chicken salad and whipped goats cheese dish- it’s surprising how versatile a fruity health drink can be!

broken-glass2

Ingredients:

For the base:

  • 70g melted butter
  • 100g digestive biscuits
  • 50g hazelnuts

For the filling:

  • 1/2 bottle Super Red Savse smoothie
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 150g cream cheese
  • 75g double cream, whipped
  • 75g Greek yoghurt

For the topping:

  • 1 pack clear boiled sweets/ mints
  • 1/2 bottle Super Red Savse smoothie
  • 1tsp natural red food colouring

shards-1

Method:

  1. Place your biscuits and hazelnuts in a food processor. Blitz until they resemble crumbs then add the melted butter. Blitz again to combine then pack a tablespoon of the crumble into the bottom of each shot glass. Chill while you make the filling.
  2. Using an electric whisk, mix together the cream cheese, sugar and smoothie until well combined and non-streaky.
  3. In a separate bowl, whip the cream to medium peaks then fold into the cream cheese along with the yoghurt. Distribute this mixture on top of the biscuit bases and smooth off. Chill for at least 2 hours (it will be a soft set cheesecake).
  4. Preheat the oven to 200c. To make your ‘broken glass’ toppers, crush your boiled sweets and arrange in a thin layer on a baking tray lined with non stick baking paper. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the crushed sweets have melted and formed a glass sheet look. Remove from the oven, allow to cool and break up into pieces.
  5. Now combine the remaining smoothie with the food colouring.
  6. Once your cheesecake pots have been chilling for at least 2 hours, decorate with shards and drizzle in the blood red smoothie!

Happy Halloween!

Willie’s Cacao: Orange Blossom and Chocolate Melting Moments

If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you may well have noticed that my recipes tend to be a little chocolate heavy (it is my vice- I can’t help it). With this in mind, I thought it would be interesting to team up with quality chocolate makers Willie’s Cacao to create a few recipes using different ‘single estate’ bars. By doing this I want to show how different beans create different flavours in chocolate, which in turn taste best when paired with specific ingredients and foods- as with grapes in fine wines.

Willie Harcourt Cooze, founder of Willie’s Cacao, focuses on ‘single estate’ cacao; what this means is that each bar is made from beans grown in one very carefully selected location (whether that be Peru, Venezuela or Cuba etc), instead of beans of various origins going into the same chocolate. The company work in this way to highlight how growing beans in varying climates and soils result in contrasting flavoured bars.

Having experimented with three of their chocolates, I have created three recipes in which the taste of the specific cacao is (hopefully)  highlighted by my choice of flavour pairings. This experimentation has made me realise how important it is to do your research when it comes to chocolate (and any ingredients really), as these bakes have a great depth of flavour I have never achieved before with chocolate based baking.

BISCUIT 3 USE

My first recipe is for these orange blossom and chocolate melting moments. For these I used the Colombian Los Llanos single estate bar- it has fruity and floral notes so really works with the orange centre. They are made up of two buttery chocolate biscuits, a delicious chocolate ganache and an orange blossom and fresh zest buttercream.

INGREDIENTS (makes 8-10 sandwich biscuits)

For the biscuits: 175g soft butter, 60g icing sugar, 60g corn flour, 20g cocoa, 150g plain flour

For the ganache: 50g 70% Colombian Los Llanos chocolate (or another good quality dark chocolate), 50g double cream

For the orange blossom centre: zest 1 orange, 1tsp orange blossom extract, 65g soft butter, 150g icing sugar

BISCUIT 1 USE

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 160c (fan) and line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper.

For the biscuits, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Sift in the cornflour, cocoa and plain flour then very briefly mix until smooth and combined. The less handling the biscuits have, the more buttery and crumbly they will be.

Once the dough is combined, take 1tbsp pieces and roll into balls, then line onto the prepared trays (with a little space between each). When all the dough has been used, press down on the balls with the back of a fork to create the line pattern. Chill for 10 minutes in the fridge.

Once chilled, bake for 10-12 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the fillings. For the ganache, grate the chocolate into a bowl. Heat the cream until almost bubbling then pour over the chocolate. Leave to melt for a couple of minutes then stir to combine. Set aside to cool.

For the orange buttercream, beat the butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy then add the zest and extract. Stir to combine.

Fill two piping bags- one with the ganache and the other with the buttercream.

Once the biscuits are cool pipe a ring of ganache around the outer edge then fill the centre with the orange buttercream. Place another biscuit on top to create a sandwich and repeat the process until all the biscuits have been used up.

Enjoy!

BISCUIT 2 USE

I hope you like these biscuits and find cacao as interesting as I do. Look out for two more chocolate recipes this week and do give them a try, I’m really pleased with the results!

Fig, Goats Cheese and Caramelised Red Onion Pizza

Everyone loves pizza, and this one is a bit different and a little more refined than your regular tomato and pepperoni. Give it a try- it’s really moreish and the homemade dough is thin, crisp and delicious!

IMG_0476

For the dough (makes 2 large pizza bases), you will need: 10g fast action dried yeast, 1tsp caster sugar, 110ml warm water, 200g strong white flour, 1tbsp olive oil, 1tsp salt

Place the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a  bowl and quickly mix together. Add the olive oil and water in one go and mix together with a cutlery knife until it comes together. Form into a ball of soft but not sticky dough and knead for 10 minutes.

Oil the bowl and return the dough to it. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

For the topping, you will need: 6 figs, 1 small goats cheese log, thyme leaves, honey, 2 red onions, 1tsp brown sugar, 2tbsp basil pesto, sea salt, black pepper

While the dough is rising, prepare the toppings. For the onions, slice finely and sweat with oil on a low heat in a saucepan until soft and translucent. Once soft, up the heat, add the brown sugar and allow to caramelise, stirring occasionally to prevent catching. Set aside to cool.

Slice the figs thinly, crumble or slice the goats cheese and pick the thyme leaves. If you’d like to make your pesto check out my wild garlic variety here.

Assembling your pizzas: you will need some semolina and extra flour

Preheat the oven to 220c or the highest setting. Place 2  flat trays in the oven sprinkled in semolina.

Take your risen dough (it should doubled in size), knock back (by quickly knocking excess air out) and split in two. Roll out on a floured surface to about 5mm thick (don’t worry too much about the shapes, just make them as circular as you can- or make rectangular pizzas like mine!). Make sure the bases are moveable and not stuck to the surface at this stage.

Spread the pesto thinly on each pizza then add the caramelised onion, figs and goats cheese. Sprinkle over the thyme and drizzle on some honey. Finish with a sprinkling of sea salt and a crack of pepper.

Now comes the tricky bit; take a third flat baking tray and sprinkle with semolina. Very quickly slide it under the first topped pizza in one movement then transfer it to the preheated baking tray in the oven in another quick jolt. Repeat with the second pizza and bake for 8-10 minutes (this movement takes time to perfect but it produces well cooked dough with crisp bases!).

When the pizza is ready dress in some good quality olive oil and top with rocket.

Enjoy!