Posts Tagged ‘Chocolate’

A cake from the cupboard: Chocolate and Hazelnut Cake with Cinnamon Cream-cheese Icing



(Unfortunately I had to re-use a picture of a previous cake, which looks very similar, as I completely forgot to take a picture of the Chocolate and Hazelnut cake – sorry!)

What do you do with half a small jar of hazelnut butter which is coming up on it’s use-by? It’s lovely stuff, but unbelievably rich! It was a bit pricey, even at 50% off, and I was absolutely determined that I was not going to waste it – and an appropriate cake-making opportunity arose in the departure of a lovely colleague. 

Hazelnut butter isn’t something I’ve seen used much in baking, maybe as a result of the cost, but it’s a great ingredient – full flavour, luxurious texture and utterly indulgent. And as far as possible, I wanted to use up ingredients I happened to have in the cupboard/fridge. I took a basic chocolate cake recipe, and adapted it to suit. In the end, all I needed to buy was the icing sugar 🙂

Chocolate and Hazelnut Cake with Cinnamon Cream-cheese Frosting

4tbs Hazelnut butter
250g butter, at room temperature
250g light muscovado sugar
½ tsp salt
100g cocoa powder
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
3 large eggs
250ml milk

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 oz cream cheese (reduced fat is fine), at room temperature
2 cups Icing sugar, sifted
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Grease and line the bases of 2 x 20cm springform cake tins with greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan) 350F / gas 4. Cream together the butter and sugar with ½ tsp salt until light and fluffy.

2. Sift together the cocoa, flour and baking powder. Add the eggs to the butter mixture one at a time and beat until well combined, then fold in half the dry ingredients followed by the hazelnut butter. Fold in the rest, followed by enough milk to give a soft dropping consistency. Divide between the two tins and bake for about 25–30 minutes until firm in the centre.

3. Allow to cool completely on a rack, then make the frosting. Beat all the ingredients together in a blender until smooth. Put one of the cakes on a serving plate and spread a third of the icing on top. Place the second on top, then spread the rest of the icing over it.


Spicing it up!: Chocolate and Paprika Cake



Recently I’ve felt a bit stuck-in-a-rut, baking wise. I’ve largely been sticking with what I know, or using up whatever has been kicking around the kitchen. It’s fine, but it leaves me a bit twitchy and unsatisfied. So I went in search of something a bit different from the norm.

I’ve been on a bit of a paprika kick recently, especially since picking up a box of really lovely smoked stuff – it’s tangy, sweet and rich, and I really can’t get enough of it. The Cake Spy has a lovely recipe for a Chocolate and Paprika cake, which I used as the basis of my cake. I didn’t stray from the recipe too much, but I did make a few changes; I made it as a one-layer cake (I was making this for the family, and transporting a double-decker cake on the train doesn’t bare thinking about), and significantly reduced the quantity of icing! It ended up rich, dense and delicious – but I think the cake could take a bit more paprika, to be honest.

Chocolate Paprika Cake (serves 8 – 10)

Ingredients For the Cake:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 0.75 cups vegetable oil (I used sunflower oil)
  • 0.5 cup dark cocoa
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp chili
  • 0.75 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1.5  cups strong brewed coffee
  • 30g dark chocolate chunks

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Grease one 8 inch pan with butter
  3.  Combine all ingredients except for flour and coffee into a large mixer bowl and mix until the batter is shiny and everything is incorporated.  Alternately add flour and coffee a cup at a time starting with the flour. When everything has been added, scrape down sides of bowl and mix on speed 3 for one minute. Stir in the chocolate chunks.
  4. Pour contents into prepared pans and bake for 55 minutes.  Remove from pan and let cool.

Ingredients For the Icing:

  • 125g butter (room temp)
  • 250g powdered sugar
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp  each: salt, black pepper

 To make the icing:  Whip butter on high for 5 minutes.  Scrape sides and repeat.  Add powdered sugar a cup at a time with mixer on speed 1.  Add milk, vanilla, and spices.  Whip on speed 3 to incorporate everything fully. Spread the icing over the top of the cake and decorate as pleases you, chill to set the icing 🙂

Utterly decadent Chocolate Brownies a la Leon

I know I said I’d never need another Chocolate Brownie recipe, but I may have exaggerated a bit. It turned out, once I saw this recipes, that I did in fact need another recipe. This recipe: ‘Leon’s Better Brownies’, from Leon; Ingredients and Recipes, by Allegra McEvedy.

If you don’t know the Leon chain, their focus is very much on good quality, organic and fresh ingredients, and many of their recipes cater for special diets. These brownies are flour-free, so great for those with gluten or wheat intolerance.

It was my birthday yesterday, so I invited a few friends over for food and drinks, and I made these for pudding. They were a great success, and everyone loved them. But admittedly they are so rich it really is just about to have more than one. The recipe says that this makes 12 ‘big ‘uns’, but I cut it into 24 and one 24th was still verging on too much! But that’s maybe not surprising given just how much chocolate goes into it.

Leon’s Better Brownies (12 large, or 24 manageable!) 


(The recipe can be a little fussy, so have simplied it where possible – but do follow the order in which to add ingredients otherwise you might end up with scrambled eggs!)

Step 1 – mixing

  • 180g unsalted butter
  • 200g 54% chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons strong coffee

Step 2 – mixing

  • 1 teaspoon orange oil (I used essance) or grated zest of 1 orange
  • 80g toasted almonds, skin on, chopped
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 160g 54% chocolate chunks
  • 160g 72% chocolate chunks
  • 150g fructose (I used golden caster sugar)
  • pinch salt
  • 3 – 4 drops good quality vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F/GM 4
  2. Melt the butter either in the microwave for 1 minute or on the hob, once melted allow to cool slightly.
  3. Separately, melt the 200g 54% chocolate in a bowl over warm water until fully melted and glossy, then remove from the heat.
  4. Add the coffee to the butter and stir, and then add the orange.
  5. Toast the skin-on almonds lightly, then chop roughly and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  6. Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat lightly. Add the ground almonds and stir well. Then add the cooled melted chocolate, and both the 54% and 72% chocolate chunks, the chopped almonds, then the fructose/sugar. Stir well. Stir in the salt and vanilla, followed by the butter mixture. Mix until well, but don’t mix too much air in otherwise it’ll crumble in the oven.
  7. Spoon the batter into a well greased baking tray (the book says 30cm by 30cm, but I used one a bit smaller and it was fine) then bake in the over for 20 – 25 minutes. It should end up slightly crisp on top and soft in the middle.

I’d give it a few minutes to cool in the tray, before cutting it and transferring the brownies to a cooling rack. They also work very well warm with double cream 🙂

Techie thank-you biscuits: Chocolate and Apricot Kernel Cookies

A friend, the lovely Raf, recently performed a Lazerus upon my poor old laptop and coaxed it back to life – huzzah! It would seem that the laptop manufacturers, in their infinite wisdom, had decided to partition the model’s fairly small hard drive – and I (being a hideous technophobe) hadn’t realised this and assumed it was a RAM issue. Long story short, my laptop stuttered back into life and should totter on for a few more years.

So in return, as a thank you, I did what I am happiest doing; baked stuff! But again, I was suffering from a bare-cupboard-baking scenario. Hmmmmmmm. Oats, apricot kernels, a little bit of chocolate. Right.

But dear old Delia came to the rescue with her Chocolate Almond Crunchies recipe – which, as always, I bastardised with whatever I had in the cupboard.

Chocolate and Apricot Kernel Cookies

 2 oz (50 g) sweet milk chocolate
 1½ oz (40 g) Apricot Kernels
 4 oz (110 g) butter
 3 oz (75 g) demerara sugar
 1 dessertspoon golden syrup
 4 oz (110 g) self-raising flour
 pinch of salt

4 oz (110 g) porridge oats


Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C) and grease two baking sheets measuring 14 x 11 inches (35 x 28 cm), lightly greased with groundnut or another flavourless oil.

First of all, using a sharp knife, chop the chocolate into small chunks about ¼ inch (5 mm) square.
Now put the butter, sugar and syrup in a saucepan, place it on the gentlest heat possible and let it all dissolve, which will take 2-3 minutes. When the butter mixture has dissolved, take it off the heat. Meanwhile, toast the apricot kernals in a dry pan until they start to brown – as you would for almonds.

In a large mixing bowl, sift in the flour and salt and add the porridge oats and half the chocolate and kernels, then give this a quick mix before pouring in the butter mixture. Now, using a wooden spoon, stir and mix everything together, then switch from a spoon to your hands to bring everything together to form a dough. If it seems a bit dry, add a few drops of cold water.

Now take half the dough and divide it into nine lumps the size of a large walnut, then roll them into rounds using the flat of your hand. Place them on a worktop and press gently to flatten them out into rounds approximately 2½ inches (6 cm) in diameter, then scatter half the remaining chocolate and almonds on top of the biscuits, pressing them down lightly.

Once you have filled one tray (give them enough room to spread out during baking), bake them on the middle shelf of the oven for 15 minutes while you prepare the second tray. When they’re all cooked, leave them to cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

The bitterness of the apricot kernels contrasts nicely with the sweetness of the chocolate, and seemed to go down very well with the intended audience 🙂

I will never need another Chocolate Brownie recipe…


… Well, except for Lissa’s mum’s recipe, which is (I believe) a matter of US national security, and therefore classified information (or at least that’s what I was told).

On Saturday we had a bit of a high-tea/pot-luck dinner type thing, and very nice it was too! The OH made some wonderful scones from Richard Bertinet’s book ‘Dough’ (if you like your bread I suggest you check it out!), I contributed the last of the Orange, Cardamom and Poppyseed biscuits from my last post, and Richard brought over some totally decadent chocolate brownies.

So credit for this recipe goes to Richard (although he attributes the recipe to his friend Ross), and he will be rewarded in continued supply of baked goods on a Thursday evening (possibly including this recipe at some point) 🙂

Richard’s Rockin’ Chocolate Brownies

“One Brownie Recipe, as it was passed to me. I used Green and Black’s Maya Gold for the Dark Chocolate, and added some cherries and white chocolate chips, you get the general idea:

100g (or about half a block) of unsalted butter
100g (or about a bar) of dark chocolate
175g white sugar (it says caster, but it’s never stopped me from using
regular granulated)
75g brown sugar (it’s specific on the type, but I’m never been)
A tablespoonful of golden syrup

2 eggs

1tsp vanilla flavouring

100g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

Stuff into a saucepan: butter, chocolate, sugars and syrup and heat *gently* until it all melts into an unidentifiable goo. If you break up the chocolate before hand, it’ll be easier. Do not for the love
of god boil it.Once that’s smooth, take it off the heat and leave to cool.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together two eggs, and a teaspoonful of vanilla flavouring.

Once the chocolate goo in the saucepan is cool enough (try grabbing the side of the pan – if it’s unpleasantly hot, give it longer), stir it into the egg mix.

Next, measure out 100g of plain flour, plus half a teaspoon of baking powder, and sieve/fold it into the rest of the ingredients.

Make sure the whole mess is well mixed, pour into a tray (oh, and, if you’re planning on ever getting it out of the tray, greaseproof paper or baking parchment is your friend – put in enough that you can pull the whole thing out with the edges of the paper), and cook at 180 for about 25 minutes (I think, but be sure to check at about 15, as I’ve seen it take somewhat less time to cook a couple of times).

Erm, does that all make sense?”

Tasty tasty goodness! Sorry I don’t have a picture to share, but I think the image above covers all the key points 😉

Ardbeg Whisky and Chocolate Cake; A grown-up dessert!


Last time I was home Dad handed me some Ardbeg whisky and asked me to make something with it as he found it a bit heavy for drinking. Understandable as this is something of a ‘heavy hitter’ on the peaty/smokey front!

I am not a whisky drinker, so I’ll admit that this was something of a challenge for me. I did a bit of research, looking at the tasting notes for this whisky. One that stood out as ideal was bitter-sweet chocolate (i.e. 70%ish). Given the complexity of the whisky I wanted to keep the other flavours as simple as possible! One thought I had (which I mentioned in a previous post) was using tobacco chocolate ( but I suspect that given how smokey the whisky was itself it would be pointless adding more to this, but I think it would work beautifully with a lighter whisky.

So what I ended up with was a dense dessert-cake which is a total treat for those who like their dessert rich but not sickly sweet. With this in mind, I’d be inclined to serve it with poring cream to lighten it slightly, and give it a bit of a sweet contrast.

The photo is a little bit of a white-lie: I didn’t have any whisky left so I hauled out a bottle of my home-made orange and cardamom rum (which I happened to have stored in a whisky bottle). Thinking about it, this is something which would also work very well as an alternative to whisky in this cake.

The recipe comes from:

Ardbeg Whisky and Chocolate Cake (recipe says it serves 6, but this will do much more as it’s so rich!)

1/2 cup peaty whisky
2 tbsps peaty whisky
6 ozs bittersweet chocolate (chopped 70% cocoa)
2 tsps espresso powder (instant, dissolved in 6 tablespoons hot water)
1/3 cup ground almond (lightly toasted about 2 ounces)
6 tbsps plain flour (divided)
4 cup unsalted butter(room temperature divided)

7 tbsps caster sugar (divided)
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 eggs (separated)
1 pinch fine sea salt
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F Butter and flour 8-inch-diameter spring form pan.
Boil 1/2 cup whisky in small saucepan until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 2 minutes. Combine bittersweet chocolate, espresso powder mixture, and 1/4 cup boiled whisky in small metal bowl. Place bowl over saucepan of simmering water; stir until mixture is smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Mix ground almonds with 2 tablespoons flour in a separate bowl.
Using electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter and 6 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl until fluffy. Beat in egg yolks 1 at a time, then sea salt. Fold in chocolate mixture, add vanilla essence, then ground almond mixture. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1 tablespoon sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Fold whites into batter alternately with remaining 4 tablespoons flour in 3 additions. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 30 minutes. Remove pan sides and cool cake completely.
Combine semisweet chocolate and remaining 2 tablespoons whisky in small metal bowl. Place bowl over saucepan of simmering water and stir until smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Add remaining 1/4 cup butter to chocolate mixture, 1 small piece at a time, whisking until each piece is melted before adding next. Place bowl over larger bowl of ice water. Using electric mixer, beat icing until thickened to spreadable consistency, about 1 minute. Spread icing over top and sides of cake.

I didn’t add the icing at the end as I felt the cake was probably rich enough as it was, so I simple dredged it with icing sugar. Here’s hoping a) Dad doesn’t mind that I taste-tested it, and b) he likes it!

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