A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: chocolate

There’s nothing that makes you feel warm towards your colleagues like going on holiday for an extended period! Since I’m about to go away, I decided to bake for the last team meeting of the year, and I’ve had these chocolate and cream cheese cupcakes pinned for a while. I believe the non-PC term for these is black bottom cakes, but I decided against mentioning that in the office.

The recipe is available here. I did enjoy these cupcakes, but I found the eggless chocolate sponge a little dry and uninspiring. I DID like how easy it was to have two contrasting flavours and textures- much easier than faffing around with frosting. The little pops from the chocolate chips were lovely too. If I made these again, I would probably swap out another recipe (maybe the ultimate chocolate cupcake?) for the bottom part. However, if you’re after a quick recipe using mostly things that will always be in the store cupboard, this is a good’un.

I had enough batter for 24 mini cupcakes and four or five full-sized ones.

 

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I found the recipe for this cake ages ago on Pinterest, and decided to have it as my birthday cake this year. Honestly, this was the most stressful baking experience I’ve had in ages. So many things went wrong and the cake ended up looking a mess. Here is a picture I managed to snap before I mostly destroyed the cake trying to transfer it off the baking parchment. However, this experience was also a reminder of how rubbish it is to be a perfectionist. Everyone in the office loved the cake.

I rediscovered the awesome combination of caramel, chocolate and pecans, kicked up a notch by salting the caramel. Next time I bake, I will most likely make salty turtle cupcakes or brownies.

Once again this post will be various process pictures. Hopefully I’ll have a better baking experience soon.

Ingredients

  • 2cups (280g) plain flour
  • 1.5cups ( 340g) sugar
  • 1/2cup (60g) cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (140g) melted butter
  • 1 cup (250g) buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1tbsp baking soda
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 cup fresh coffee

Frosting

  • 1 cup (220g) sugar
  • 1 cup (250ml) whole milk
  • 6 tbsp (90g) butter
  • 12oz (350g) dark chocolate
  • 1-2 tsp hot coffee (optional)
  • 1 1/2 pecan halves

Salted caramel

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, salted
  • 1/2 cup double (heavy) cream
  • Extra salt to taste

Method
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter bottom and sides of three 8- or 9-inch cake pans and line bottom of each pan with parchment paper. Butter the paper; dust pans with unsweetened cocoa powder and set pans aside.
In a small bowl, stir together egg, buttermilk and oil
In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
Slowly add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, beating until combined.

Gradually beat in coffee

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans; layers will appear shallow.

Bake until a toothpick inserted near the centre comes out clean, about 22 to 25 minutes. Remove towire racks for 10 minutes. Loosen sides from pans, then invert cakes on racks. Remove cakes from pans. Peel off paper and cool completely.

Salted caramel

I’ve made caramel twice recently and it has come out slightly greasy, but still tasty. I will look for a new recipe. I used the one from Sally’s Baking Addiction.





Frosting

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and milk. Add butter. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add chocolate pieces. Using a wire whisk, stir until smooth. If frosting is too thick or grainy, stir in 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly brewed coffee. If necessary, let frosting stand for several minutes before using.

Assembly

I forgot to toast the pecans, which definitely makes a difference.

This post is reminding me that perfectionism spoils my enjoyment of my cooking as well as my making. This cake tastes fine. Just because it doesn’t look like something that costs £4 a slice shouldn’t diminish that.


I finally got the chance to do my first from-scratch bake of the year, and decided to make these brownies with a cherry cheesecake topping. I spent some time on Pinterest last year looking for recipes to use up the 400g glace cherries I inherited from my old housemate. This was the recipe I settled on.

Cherry cheesecake brownies

I think these brownies were really tasty, though I think the balance is a little off. I would have preferred slightly less brownie and slightly more of the baked cream cheese topping. It’s so good. Maybe if I made these again I would try and do three quarters of the stated amounts for the brownies. It would probably be safe to freeze some of the batter for future midwinter sugar cravings. I liked how simple the brownie recipe was, though I do think other brownies I have made in the past were nicer.

I made no changes to the recipe as stated except improvising my own ‘cherry pie filling’

Ingredients

  • 200g glace cherries* **
  • Two tinned apricots, or dried apricots that you have soaked until soft
  • Lemon juice (to taste)
  • Red food colouring (optional)

*I think this would be nicer using tinned or frozen cherries, but I had glace cherries on hand so that’s what I used

**Eagle-eyed readers will notice that I had 400g cherries but specify only 200g here. I did use all 400g cherries but it made too much cherry sauce

Method

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until you have a thick sauce consistency. Add the lemon juice to taste. If you do use tinned or frozen cherries, taste and add sugar if needed. The sauce should be sweet, but balanced. Add a teaspoon of water at a time if your ingredients are not mixing well.

Check out this brownie cheesecake GIF.

 

 


These spheroids of chocolatey goodness contain a cheeky salted caramel surprise… sorry, just had to pause to wipe the saliva from my keyboard.

I followed this recipe from Bakerella to the letter to make these delicious treats. Don’t judge me too harshly if you follow the link, hers look much nicer than mine.

Here’s a pic of the baked brownie circles. I matched them by size before filling them with frosting and caramel.

Here’s the homemade caramel I had left over after filling the cookies. You could easily halve Bakerella’s recipe and have plenty of caramel for this recipe.

Ready to pipe my frosting.

You simply pipe a barrier of frosting around each cookie, then fill generously with caramel. I think I was slightly too generous as I had a little caramel leakage. Mmm… caramel leakage.

  


I’ve had an awful lot of baking to do recently and so I’ve been focusing on recipes that are very quick and simple, such as this rich, light cake smothered with chocolate ganache. The cake is really quick to put together. It was out of the oven and cooling within an hour of my arriving at home after work. Please excuse how it looks, I foolishly rushed my ganache and it split, though it still tastes great. 



Ingredients

Makes one 8″ square cake

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 6oz/ 2/3cup Greek yoghurt or sour cream- full fat
  • 1/4cup light olive, coconut or nut oil
  • 1 1/2tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1/2cup filter coffee, cooled, or water
  • 1/2cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup plain flour 
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp baking powder

For the ganache

  • 9oz/250g plain chocolate
  • 3/4cup/170ml double cream
  • 1tsp vanilla extract or other flavouring of your choice

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F/180C
  2. Put your coffee on to brew if it’s not already made 
  3. Grease and/or line an 8×8 or 9×9 inch square baking pan
  4. In a large bowl combine egg, sugar, yogurt, oil, vanilla, and mix until smooth and combined. 
  5. Add coffee, cocoa powder and stir vigorously until batter is smooth and free from lumps.
  6. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and mix vigorously until batter has just combined, about 1 minute. The coffee can be any temperature other than very hot so you don’t scramble the egg. I put a couple of ice cubes into the measuring cup and the poured the hot coffee over. 
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 20-25mins, until the top is set and the cake passes the toothpick test. 
  8. Leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack. The cake must be completely cool before topping with ganache. 
  9. For the ganache, finely chop the chocolate and put into a heatproof bowl 
  10. Put the cream into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Pour over the chopped chocolate. Leave for 30s, then stir until smooth. 
  11. Pour the ganache over the cold cake and leave to set before cutting. 


Apparently I’m on a basic recipes kick at the moment- I can’t believe I haven’t made chocolate chip cookies in about two years. This recipe yields a delicious buttery cookie that’s crispy around the edges but soft in the middle. Yum.

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  • 125g butter
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 75g sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Selection of chocolate chips. I used about 150g M&Ms and I wished I had added about 100g of really dark chocolate and some nuts too.

Makes 12 large cookies. Double up for twice the fun.

Method, man
Using a wooden spoon or a mixer, cream together the butter and sugars.

Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.

Sift in the dry ingredients in two batches and mix until you have a smooth, thick batter.

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Stir through your selection of chocolates, making sure they’re distributed fairly evenly.

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Drop heaped tablespoons of dough onto a baking tray lined with parchment. You can shape into thick discs using your hands, or an ice cream scoop if you have one.

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Pop in the fridge while you preheat the oven to 180C.
After about 15-20mins, bake for 12-18 mins, until cookies are golden at the edges.

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I haven’t baked or even cooked anything more complex than beans on toast for about a month due to the demands of my thesis. So it was nice to get back in the kitchen again. I still had over 500g of Nutella left after making this lovely cake and I saw a mouth-watering brownie recipe on Pinterest that inspired me. I decided to adapt my egg white only recipe because… Well, I just did. Here’s how they turned out.

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These are rich and Nutella-y.
Ingredients

3/4cup unsalted butter (or use salted and halve the additional salt)
150g chocolate (I used 100g 70% and the rest milk)
2tsps vanilla extract
1tsp espresso powder/instant coffee (optional)
1/2tsp salt
1 1/4cup caster sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
4 egg whites at room temperature
3/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup ground hazelnuts (can be substituted with more flour)
1 cup hazelnuts (optional)
About 1 cup/150g Nutella

Makes 16 brownies.
Method
Preheat oven to 175 degrees C
Lightly butter a 20x20cm (8x8inch) baking tray, ideally loose-bottomed. Sprinkle with flour or cocoa powder and shake to coat evenly.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat
Remove from heat, stir in chopped chocolate until melted, then add vanilla, coffee and salt
Cool until lukewarm
Meanwhile, mix the sugar and cocoa powder in a large bowl. Add the egg whites and mix with a hand blender for around 4-5 minutes until the mixture is somewhat thickened
Add the lukewarm buttery chocolate mixture incorporate.
Add the flour and ground almonds and mix for another minute, until incorporated. Because there isn’t much flour in this batter, it’s important to beat the flour for this amount of time to activate the gluten and give the cake its structure.
Don’t worry if the mixture seems incredibly thick.
Stir through your additional chocolate and/or nuts if using.
Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.
Dollop 4-6 large tablespoons of Nutella on top and gently swirl into the batter

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Turn the oven down to 170 and bake for 30-40 minutes.
Your brownies are done if….
…the top is shiny and cracked (it will rise up, but sink down again as it cools)

…the edges are cracking and may be beginning to pull away from the edges of the pan

…there is no jiggle in the centre if you shake the pan (but this should take place about 10mins before the brownies are fully cooked

…a skewer shows moist crumbs

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Remove from tin and leave to cool on a wire rack before cutting. Yum.