white chocolate

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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Rhubarb, White Chocolate and Thyme Cake

I’m on a bit of a rhubarb trip at the moment- in our house it’s going in just about anything, primarily, my mouth (I jest, but seriously; salad, granita, posset, sorbet, you name it). It’s got a versatile tart flavour and brilliant pink colour (if you buy the forced variety) which lends itself to so many recipes and pairs with lots of other ingredients, so naturally I’ve put it into a cake. This lightly flavoured thyme cake is sandwiched with a tart rhubarb compote which partners beautifully with the sweet white chocolate buttercream. Try it out and top with candied rhubarb ribbons and herby decorations for a statement nod to the season.

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Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 350g soft butter
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 350g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 2tsp finely chopped thyme

For the rhubarb filling:

  • 400g rhubarb
  • 75g caster sugar

For the white chocolate buttercream:

  • 200g melted white chocolate
  • 250g soft butter
  • 500g icing sugar
  • 2-3tbsp milk

For the decorations (optional ideas): 

  • Candied rhubarb ribbons (to make these dissolve 100g caster sugar in 200ml water then bring to the boil and cool. Peel strips of rhubarb and dip into this syrup then line onto a baking tray and dry out in the oven at 110c for 1 hour. Once ready, mould around spoon handles or use as little strip decorations)
  • thyme/rosemary sprigs, freeze dried fruit, mini meringue kisses
  • 100g white chocolate (melt this then pour out onto a lined tray and set. Break into shards and use as desired)

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c and grease/line two 7 inch cake tins.
  2. For the cake, place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) and beat (with paddle attachment or electric beaters) until light and well combined. This all in one method is so easy and so long as you don’t over-beat results in a lovely even sponge.
  3. Split the batter between the two prepared cake tins and level out. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted, and the tops are springy to the touch.
  4. While the cakes are cooking, make the rhubarb compote. Simply place the ingredients in a saucepan and stir occasionally over a gentle heat until the rhubarb breaks down and resembles a loose jam. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  5. Once the cakes are ready leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.
  6. While the cakes are cooling make the buttercream. For this just beat together the butter and icing sugar until really light and fluffy, then add the melted white chocolate (ensuring it is cool) and milk and beat again for a couple of minutes. Your buttercream should be pale (not yellow) and light when it’s ready.
  7. To assemble the cake, slice the sponges horizontally into two even layers so you have four in total. Place one down on your plate/board and spread over a dollop of the buttercream followed by 1/3 of the rhubarb compote. Repeat until you have a 4 layer cake. Take a few spoonfuls of the remaining buttercream, spread a thin layer all over the cake with a palette knife or cake scraper and chill for 10 minutes (this is your crumb coating).
  8. To finish, use all the remaining buttercream to cover the gaps and visible cake (unless you’re going for the naked look!) and smooth down. To decorate, use candied rhubarb, mini meringues, herbs, freeze dried fruits and chocolate shards!

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Enjoy!

Cranberry and White Chocolate Brownies

These brownies are rich, dense and studded with cranberries and white chocolate chunks- a great (and easy) festive treat to whip up for visiting family and friends over the coming weeks…

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Ingredients:

  • 300g dark chocolate
  • 210g butter
  • 310g caster sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 3 eggs, 1 egg yolk
  • 3tsp vanilla extract
  • 120g plain flour
  • 150g white chocolate, chopped into chunks
  • 100g dried cranberries

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a square baking tin/ brownie tray.
  2. Place the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set it over a pan of gently simmering water. Do not allow the water to touch the bottom of the bowl or it could cause the chocolate to seize.
  3. Stir the butter and chocolate occasionally until melted then set aside to cool for a few minutes. Once the chocolate has cooled a little, add the sugar and salt then whisk (with electric beaters or in the bowl of a stand mixer) until well combined.
  4. Now add the eggs and whisk on high until the mix has lightened in colour and is glossy (about 5 minutes- whisking well at this stage is what gives you that classic flaky top!).
  5. Sift in the flour and fold then finally stir in the white chocolate and cranberries. Tip into the lined baking tin and spread out. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until set but still very moist in the middle.

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Enjoy!

Cardamom, Pistachio and White Chocolate Cake

This cake is super easy to bake and is great if you’re looking to experiment with different flavours; the cardamom adds a distinct hum of spice to the light sponge which pairs really well with the earthy pistachios and super sweet white chocolate topping.

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Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 350g soft butter
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 375g self raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds, crushed to a fine powder
  • 150ml milk
  • 100g chopped pistachios

For the topping:

  • 150g white chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • a few crushed pistachios and some dried rose petals (optional)

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 (fan). Generously grease a bundt in with butter then sprinkle over some flour. Shake to coat the edges completely then tip out any excess (this should ensure that the cake doesn’t stick).
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar with an electric whisk  (or a stand mixer) until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition (add a little bit of the flour each time if you’re worried about curdling!).
  3. Once the eggs are fully incorporated and you have a smooth mixture, add the (remaining) flour, baking powder, salt milk, and cardamom. Whisk until light and well combined.
  4. Now fold in the pistachios and scrape the batter into the prepared bundt tin. Even out and bake for 30-40 minutes.
  5. When your cake is ready a skewer should come out clean when inserted. Once cooked, rest for 5 minutes in the tin then turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
  6. While your cake is cooling, melt the white chocolate gently in a heatproof bowl above a pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool.
  7. Once your cake and topping have cooled you’re ready to decorate. To do this drizzle the white chocolate over the bundt and let it drip down the sides. Sprinkle with pistachios and rose petals for a simple but elegant finish.

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Plated Pear, Ginger and Chocolate Dessert

I’ve recently been working on a few new recipes for a sort of ‘food portfolio’. This particular dessert is one I’m really pleased with so I thought I would share! It is made up of poached pear, a pear crisp, stem ginger ice cream, ginger caramel, vanilla tuille shards, caramelised white chocolate and dark chocolate ganache cubes (yes, quite a few elements but if you’re up for the challenge it makes for an impressive and delicious dish!).

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Serves 4 (note, the ice cream is best made the day before you are serving this dish)

For the stem ginger ice cream: 100ml double cream, 100ml whole milk, 70g caster sugar, 4 egg yolks, 4tbsp chopped stem ginger

Heat the milk and cream in a saucepan until a skin forms then set aside. In a bowl mix the egg yolks and caster sugar then pour the cream mix over the top. Stir together, rinse the saucepan and return the liquid to it. Place over a gentle heat and stir with a wooden spoon until it thickens to coat the back. Set aside to cool a little then add the chopped stem ginger and pour into a freezer proof tub. Freeze overnight.

The next morning, chop the ice cream into large pieces and blitz in a food processor until they just break down (blitzing means your ice cream will be smooth without using an ice cream maker!). Return to the container and re-freeze until needed.

For the pear crisp: 1 pear

Very thinly slice your pear so you are left with cross section pieces. Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake for half an hour at 140c, turning occasionally. Once dried out, leave to harden at room temperature.

For the ganache cubes: 100g dark chocolate, 75ml double cream

Finely chop or grate the chocolate. Heat the cream and pour it over the chocolate. Stir to melt it fully then pour into a shallow mould and set in the freezer for 20 minutes- half an hour. When ready to use, slice into cubes.

For the caramelised white chocolate: 50g white chocolate

This chocolate is delicious- it takes the sweetness off the white chocolate and gives it a smokey, almost bitter taste. Simply place in the oven and colour for 10 minutes at 180c. When needed, break down into a crumb and use as desired.

For the poached pear: 1 pint water, 100g caster sugar, 1 vanilla pod, 3 pears

Dissolve the sugar in the water with the vanilla over a gentle heat. Peel the pears. Add the pears to the sugar syrup and poach gently for 30-40 minutes. When soft and cooked through, slice into cubes (the same size as the ganache).

For the ginger caramel: 100g granulated sugar, 50ml water, 30g butter, 50ml double cream, 2tbsp ginger syrup, pinch salt

Dissolve the sugar with the water over a gentle heat. Once dissolved, boil vigorously until it reaches a deep golden colour. Add the butter at this stage and mix in (it will spit a little) then add the cream and return to the heat. Stir until thick then remove from the heat, add the ginger syrup and salt and leave to cool.

For the vanilla tuille shards: 60g butter, 60g plain flour, 2 egg whites, 120g caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 190c. Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly.

Take a silicon mat or silicon paper lined baking tray and spread the mixture thinly over it with a palette knife. Bake for 5 minutes or until the edges are golden then leave to harden at room temperature. Once set break up into pieces and use.

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To assemble: 

To assemble this dessert spread your caramel in a swoosh and sprinkle your white chocolate crumb over it in a half moon shape. Take a scoop or quenelle of your ice cream and place on top. Balance the pear crisp on the ice cream then arrange the ganache and pear cubes in an attractive pattern. Use the tuille shards for garnish and finish it off with edible flowers, if you like.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Dipped Honeycomb

After an indulgent quick bake to whip up this weekend? Look no further; these honeycomb shards dipped in chocolate are the perfect partner to a cosy Saturday evening on the sofa, or alternatively would make a great side to after dinner coffee.

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To make these chocolatey treats, you will need: 70g golden syrup, 70g butter, 150g caster sugar, 2tsp bicarbonate of soda, 100g dark chocolate, 50g milk chocolate and 50g white chocolate

Line a medium sized shallow lipped baking tin loosely with greaseproof paper and set aside.

Put your syrup, butter and caster sugar together in a saucepan and place over a low/medium heat. Keep an eye on it and if the sugar is gathering in one place, tip the pan gently to break it up.

After approximately 5 minutes, the sugar should have dissolved and you will be left with a light brown syrupy liquid.

When you reach this stage, increase the heat and boil the mixture until it reaches a deep golden brown colour (this should take another 3-4 minutes).

Once the golden honeycomb colour has been achieved, remove from the heat and quickly add the bicarbonate of soda. Mix swiftly with a wooden spoon to fully incorporate (at this stage the mixture will react with the bicarbonate and foam up to form that bubbly honeycomb texture) and tip straight out onto the greaseproof paper. Leave for half an hour to harden.

Once set, snap up the honeycomb into bitesize shards. Set aside.

Now, take your milk and dark chocolate and place in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Gently melt and leave to cool a little (I like to combine a little milk chocolate with the dark for added sweetness, but you could just use dark). Meanwhile, melt the white chocolate in the same way.

Dip the honeycomb into the dark/milk chocolate and set down on greaseproof paper. Drizzle the white chocolate over and, if you like, use a skewer to drag into a feathered pattern. Leave to set then devour!

Enjoy!

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50th Birthday Cake

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When I embarked on making this cake I was skeptical about whether or not my ambitious idea of two different cakes baked with varied frostings, flavourings and colours adorned with hand made chocolate roses would materialise… I had images of wilting roses, mutant shapes and dry sponges on my (forever anxious) mind during baking, so I am relieved with the actual result.

The ‘5’ shaped cake is a rich chocolate sponge filled with milk chocolate ganache and iced with dark chocolate ganache. The ‘0’ is made up of a nutty carrot cake which is filled and covered with cream cheese frosting. Both cakes are decorated with hand made roses- on the ‘5’ with white chocolate roses and on the ‘0’ with milk chocolate. Having never used molding chocolate before I would certainly recommend it- I prefer it to sugar paste as I find the results a bit more modern and less ‘old-fashioned-wedding-cake’.

Now comes the challenge of transportation… my least favourite part of baking for parties! A heart-in-mouth journey awaits…