recipes

Cherry and White Chocolate Brownies

These fudgy brownies incite frenzied eating in my house; they barely saw the light of day when I made them last and half my family were out… It’s hardly surprising they are so addictive though- white chocolate matches brilliantly with fresh cherry compote (particularly when accompanied by a very generous glug of slightly unseasonal brandy).

Ingredients:

For the compote:

  • 300g cherries (stones removed)
  • 2tbsp caster sugar
  • 1tbsp water
  • large glug brandy (this amount is totally down to your taste)

For the brownies:

  • 300g dark chocolate
  • 200g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • caster sugar
  • 225g plain flour
  • 200g white chocolate chunks

Method:

  1. Start by making the compote. Roughly chop the cherries. Place in a pan along with the sugar, water and brandy. Heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the cherries become soft and the syrupy liquid starts to thicken (about 10 minutes). Once the consistency is somewhat jam-like, taste and add more brandy if you like (you can leave out the brandy entirely if it’s not your jam- ha.). Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line a brownie tin (around 22x22cm is perfect).
  3. Place the butter and dark chocolate in a  heatproof bowl and set over a pan of gently simmering water (don’t let the water touch the base of the bowl). Stir occasionally and remove from the heat once melted together.
  4. Place the eggs and caster sugar in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) and beat together until well combined.
  5. Add the chocolate mixture to the bowl and fold in followed by the flour and 2/3 of the white chocolate chunks. Tip into the lined baking tin and level out.
  6. Dollop the compote all over the surface of the brownie and finish by sprinkling on the remaining white chocolate. Bake for 25-35 minutes until the top is set but the inside is moist and a little gooey.
  7. Allow the brownie to cool completely in the tin then slice up and serve.

Enjoy!

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Coconut and Lemongrass Panna Cotta

This panna cotta recipe can be adapted by substituting the coconut for flaked almonds, basil or other nuts and herbs. I love this tropical combination for summer though; paired with mango sorbet, sesame seeds and lime zest it makes for the perfect refreshing and light dessert to follow a late lunch or dinner.

Ingredients (makes 4):

  • 225ml whole milk
  • 225ml double cream
  • 200g coconut flakes (lightly toasted)
  • 1 stick lemongrass
  • 3 1/2 leaves gelatine (around 6g)

Method:

  1. Lightly grease four dariole moulds with a flavourless oil (such as sunflower).
  2. Place the milk, cream and lightly toasted coconut flakes in a saucepan. Bash the lemongrass with the back of a knife to release the flavour and add to the pan. Heat the mixture and bring gently to the boil. Boil for 1 minute then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for half an hour.
  3. Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes (until soft). Sieve the panna cotta mixture to remove the coconut and lemongrass then place back on the heat. Reheat until just steaming then squeeze the water from the gelatine and add. Mix in until dissolved then pour into the moulds.
  4. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours then remove from the moulds and serve as desired (dip the moulds in boiling water for a few seconds to make turning them out easier!).

Enjoy!

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!

Savse Smoothies: Mango Chicken Thai Style Salad

I’ve recently arranged an exciting collaborative series with Savse Smoothies which will involve me incorporating their drinks into my recipes! I will be posting a recipe every couple of weeks and hope to show that whilst their products are really delicious on their own, they can also be used in lots of tasty dishes, both savoury and sweet.

Savse, if you aren’t aware of the brand, specialise in healthy smoothies made up of raw, fresh fruit and vegetables. They sell a core range of five ‘Super’ smoothies (red, orange, purple, blue and green) and make many more specialised drinks. It might come as a surprise looking at my incredibly indulgent bakes, but I eat very healthily and really enjoy cooking with fresh ingredients so this opportunity is really exciting (and a bit of a challenge!).

The first recipe I’ve come up with is inspired by the mango and carrot flavours in the Super Orange smoothie (part of the Savse core range). The street style salad is really fresh and marinating the chicken in the smoothie gives it a sweetness which cuts through the classic Thai flavours of chilli, ginger and coriander I’ve used. I’d recommend making this in bulk on a Sunday night and then portioning it up for no fuss weekday lunches!

chicken-2

Ingredients (Serves 4): 

  • For the chicken: 4 chicken breasts, 2/3 bottle Savse Super Orange smoothie, 3cm piece ginger (grated), salt and pepper, oil for pan frying
  • For the salad: 4 grated carrots, 2 large handfuls bean sprouts, 2 thinly sliced red peppers, 1 thinly sliced red onion, large bunch coriander (chopped), small bunch parsley (chopped), 200g roughly chopped cashews, 1-2 red chillies (sliced), bunch spring onions (sliced)
  • For the dressing: remaining 1/3 Savse Super Orange smoothie, 3tbsp white wine vinegar, 2tbsp soy sauce, 1tbsp honey, juice 1 lime, 2 cloves garlic (crushed)

chicken-3

Method:

  1. Slice the chicken breasts into three large pieces and place in a shallow tray. Season with salt and pepper, pour over the smoothie and add the grated ginger. Cover and marinade for a minimum of 2 hours.
  2. For the salad, toss together the carrot, bean sprouts, red pepper, red onion, coriander, parsley, cashews, chillies and spring onions. Set aside.
  3. For the dressing, whisk together the remaining smoothie, vinegar, soy, honey and lime juice.
  4. Heat some oil (olive oil, rape seed or coconut oil is good) in a frying pan, drain excess liquid from the chicken then fry quickly over a high heat until you achieve some golden colouring and the meat is cooked through.
  5. Dress the salad until thoroughly coated then pile onto a plate. Add the chicken and pour over any juices. Garnish with more cashews, coriander and chilli slices.

chicken-1

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.

CHOUX 4 USE

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.

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!