Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

September 18th, 2011

A Very Chocolatey Birthday Cake Category: Recipes

My Dad was 60 in August so my task was to make a cake as usual, however, he isn’t he biggest fan of sweet buttercream and doesn’t like the amount of icing normally accompanying the traditional maderia style cake.

So I got my thinking cap on & after discounting making a train cake (his present to is learn how to drive a steam train!) I remembered the cake Lorraine Pascale had made on her TV series with chocolate sponge with chocolate buttercream (which isn’t too sweet) and fresh fruit – the ‘I can’t believe you made that’ cake.

Now I did leave it a bit late to co-ordinate what I needed as Anthony and my brothers were taking part in a 24hr mountain bike race which also involved our first camping holiday so I was quite busy balancing a few things. The result of this was a lack of chocolate cigarellos. I had assumed I would be able to order them from my usual online cake suppliers but they didn’t sell them. A number of others do, but I was very surprised at how expensive they were and I would have had to pay for fast delivery.

After some thought we abandoned the cigarellos and used the retro-sweets Matchmakers (orange flavour).

Se here we go – one chocolate cake with fresh raspberries.

The cake on the table

The cake went down really well and everybody enjoyed it.  It wasn’t too sweet and the matchmakers worked well, but a word of warning they are fragile so if you are transporting the cake any distance maybe take some extra matchsticks & a small pot of buttercream to glue back into position!

The cake on the plate

One alternative to matchmakers I had been considering was using wafer cigarillo type biscuits but I couldn’t source what I wanted at short notice. However, I have since found that the Harvey Nichols pop-up shop in Liverpool One selling them & think these would work just as well.

The cake on the table

The Recipe – from Lorraine Pascale

You will need a 20cm/8in round deep cake tin and a 20cm/8in cake board.


  • 200g/7oz butter, softened (plus a little extra to coat tin)
  • 200g/7oz caster sugar
  • 4 free-range eggs
  • 140g/5oz plain flour
  • 60g/2½oz cocoa powder
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 400g/14oz plain, milk, or white chocolate cigarillos (about 75–80 in total)

For the buttercream

  • 250g/9oz butter, softened
  • 500g/1lb 2oz icing sugar
  • 100g/3½oz good dark chocolate (at least 70 per cent cocoa solids), melted and slightly cooled

For the decoration

  • Fresh raspberries or strawberries


Preheat the oven to 180/C/350F/Gas 4

Line the cake tin with baking paper and rub a little bit of soft butter around the tin

Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until they begin to go pale. Add half of the eggs and half of the flour and mix well. Add the rest of the eggs, flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder and beat for a minute or two.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 30–40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.

To make the buttercream – put the butter and icing sugar in a bowl and whisk together until the mixture goes fluffy. Add the cooled, melted chocolate and whisk for a further two minutes.

The original instructions are to leave the cake in the tin until it is completely cool, however I prefer to take mine out & cool on a wire rack.

Cut the top of the cake flat with a large serrated knife and turn the cake upside down on the cake board so that the bottom now becomes a flat top. Split the cake horizontally and sandwich the top and bottom together with a 1cm/½in layer of buttercream.

Spread half of the remaining buttercream all over the top and sides of the cake, making it as smooth as possible. Put it in the fridge to set before doing another layer – this makes it much easier to get neat squared-off edges.

Gently push the cigarillos, or matchmakers, vertically onto the sides of the cake, positioning them as straight as possible and making sure they touch the bottom.


November 12th, 2007

My First Christmas Cake Category: Recipes

I will ‘fess up now. I’m not a fan of Christmas cake but I really wanted to make one! So this weekend I jumped in the deep end…

The recipe – wow, there are so many to choose from! I ended up going with one from my mum’s Good Housekeeping magazine – November 2007 – Christmas Cake with a Hint of Dark Chocolate


  • 250g sultanas
  • 250g raisins
  • 125g Agen prunes, chopped
  • 125g ready to eat Apricots, chopped
  • 150ml Dark Rum + 1 tablespoon for feeding the cake (we used original Antiguan rum from our honeymoon)
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 175g dark muscavado sugar
  • 175g softened butter
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1/2 level teaspoon cinnamon
  • 75g Green & Black’s Dark 85% chocolate, finely grated
  • 100g lightly toasted flaked almonds

And also:

  • Greaseproof paper
  • Clingfilm
  • Tinfoil
  • Brown paper
  • Cotton
  • 8″ tin

Start the night before you will make the cake

  1. Put the rum and orange juice & zest in a large pan
  2. Add the dried fruit and bring to the boil, then turn off the heat, cover and leave to soak overnight

The next day

  1. Preheat the oven to 150 °c (130 °c fan)
  2. Grease and double line the baking tin with greaseproof paper, allow it to stand proud at the top
  3. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar until light & fluffy – I used an electric hand mixer for about 5 minutes
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure the mixture doesn’t curdle (if it does add a little of the flour)
  5. Gently fold in the flour, mixed spice & cinnamon
  6. Next, fold in the chocolate and almond flakes
  7. Lastly add the fruit and carefully mix through

Pour the mixture into the tin, taking care not to catch & pull the greaseproof paper off the sides of the tin
Level the surface of the cake

Wrap 2 layers of brown paper around the outside of the tin leaving a good inch above the top of the tin. Use the cotton to secure this.

Pop in the oven for 3 to 31/2 hours. Use a skewer to make sure the centre is cooked through.

Once cooked leave in the tin for 10 minutes, then take the cake out (leaving it in the greaseproof) and let it cool on a cake rack.

Once cold, wrap in clingfilm and then tinfoil and pop it in an airtight container.

After 2 weeks add the tablespoon of rum & re-wrap the cake. It will last for up to 3 months.

August 20th, 2007

Moist Chocolate Brownies Category: Recipes

Thanks has to go to the lovely Jules at Trainee Domestic Goddess for firstly, finding this chocolate guinnessness that Hubby adores and secondly for converting the recipe from US to good old English measures.

I made the brownies yesterday & apart from them needing some chunky texture next time, they came out just as I had hoped.

I also bought a brand new silicone baking tin – its very flexible and I was slightly worried that when I picked it up full of runny mixture it would invert & land on the kitchen floor – but I was careful with my handling & it did the job very well indeed.

Recipe – Care of Trainee Domestic Goddess – link as above

Ingredients (for 16 brownies)

  • 4 eggs
  • 5oz caster sugar
  • 12oz of various chocolate – dark & milk
  • 2.5 oz unsalted butter
  • 4 oz plain flour
  • 2 tsp cocoa
  • 290ml Guinness
  • icing sugar
How to Do It
  1. Preheat oven to 190oc and line 8 inch square baking pan with baking parchment
  2. Combine eggs and sugar. On a medium heat melt chocolate and butter until smooth. Allow to cool for about 3 mins.
  3. Beat chocolate mix into egg mix. Sift in flour and cocoa. Beat until well combined.
  4. Whisk in Guinness, then pour into pan. Bake for 25 min until a skewer comes out just abour clean. It will continue to cook slightly after being taken out of oven.
  5. Cool on rack, then dust in icing sugar and cut into 16 squares.

August 5th, 2007

Our trip to Nottingham Category: Other Foodiness, Reviews

This post is a bit late!

Was a lovely one. We went away for a few days this weekend for a bit of r&r.

Hotel – QHotels – We’d never heard of them until I came across what appeared to be a cracking deal on a website I simply fell upon – (I would recommend this website, it gave us a much better deal than expedia would have). Back to the hotel, it was fab, gorgeous, comfy, friendly. I haven’t a bad word to say about them at all. Room was very spacious, very modern, bed was very comfy & the bed linen lovely & soft. The bathroom was also spacious – a bath with shower over and a stand alone shower. It gets a full 5 stars from me.

Nottingham – it was surprisingly large and very nice. We spent most of Saturday morning wandering around and came across a shop called Chocolate Utopia (they do mail orders!) where we sat in with a coffee and mocha and sampled some of their delightful chocolates. Mmmm. We came away with a milk chocolate bar & small dark chocolate bar for us and a dark chocolate bar for a gift. Including the chocolates & coffees I think we spent about £8 in there – much better value for money than Hotel Chocolat (which is where we were going to buy the gift) & just as delicious.

The first night we ate at the hotel which was tatsy. We had taken up a bottle of champagne as it was our official ‘getting together’ anniversary. Very nice.

On the second evening we went to the Hard Rock Cafe! Not our usual dining experience but we’d never been to one and finding myself with the chance to sample some of Joe Perrys Mango-Peach Tango hot sauce, how could I resist?

The grub was your usual American fare & being a fussy meat eater I nearly always choose the veggie options – I did however, have to have the Chicken Quesadilla to sample Joe Perrys sauce.

The dish consisted of chicken & pineapple (of which I’m not a big fan) – but I have to say I actually quite enjoyed it. For the main the only veggie option was a burger. It was huge, even by my mammoth portions and I never seen so much cheese!

Again it was tasty but I actually think I enjoyed the Quesadilla slightly better. Washed down with two glasses of wine I was a happy but very full bunny.

Mr C’s Burger & Chips

Coming back home on the Sunday we took the scenic route via Bakewell & picked up some of their traditional puddings. Mmmmmm.

Here’s some other pics from our weekend…

Robin Hood

The Ducks enjoying the warm sunshine in Bakewell

April 26th, 2007

Wednesday Night Cook In Category: Other Foodiness, Recipes

Wednesday nights are great at the moment. First at 8pm we have Neneh & Andi which is an absolutely great non-chef foodie programme.

Followed by some Sweet Baby James – whilst I think the title is quite poor, I do have a small thing for James so I have to watch…

Followed up by The Apprentice, not as good as past years in my humble opinion but I do watch (normally whilst on the ‘bag).

And at 10pm we have the finale, Desperate Housewives, I just love this programme & there’s not many on telly that gets me cheering & laughing quite so much (Susan & Mike have to get back together!).

A bottle of wine always goes down on a Wednesday too – ahem.

Anyway, back to the food. I went a bit mad last night & made:

  • Bruschetta (toasted ciabatta for ease, & mixed up some tomatoes, garlic & red onion with a small amount of olive oil, serve with a dash of balsamic vinegar)
  • Asparagus & Lemon Risotto (yum) care of Nigel Slater
  • Chocolate Chip Muffins thanks to Nigella’s recipe here
  • I also heated through some ciabatta & onion bhajis for lunch today (based on a Philpotts favourite of ours – ciabatta, hoummous, onion bhaji & spicy mango chutney)

Here are a few pics of the risotto & muffins
The muffins are quite nice but not as sweet as we expected so may try another recipe next time.

And here are some tulips Hubby bought on Tuesday after a small reminder that it was our two-monthiversay.

April 6th, 2007

Update! Category: General, Other Foodiness, Recipes

Ah, a bank holiday means a day off work :) So hubby did some DIY & I did some baking for the open day at Zoes tomorrow – I made some traditional crispy cakes/nests, a malteser tray bake & a rocky road – the latter two being essentially the same recipe –

Some rocky road (this one included a few cherries, marshmallows, left over maltesers & sultanas – oh, & a few mini eggs for good measure!!) *recipe below:

And after a baking morning I put together a ratatouille bake (from Delicious magazine) for tea, so that’s batch one of my Tuesday cook-down used! Served with garlic bread & some nice Italian prosecco…

This was very tasty but the olives we had put in it were the worst we have ever had so we picked them all out!

And whilst I was cooking, Anthony managed to finally put the wallpaper up that we bought some 6 months ago!

On Wednesday I put together a greek salad for tea.

We haven’t had one in ages & its the kind of thing you can eat too often. But once in a while & its really fresh and tasty – especially with some nice crusty bread & butter.

Salad: Lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, green olives, feta (was in oil so this was drizzled) & balsamic vinegar.

Rocky Road Recipe:

  • 100g butter
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 225g digestive biscuits (finely crush half of them and lightly crush the other half)
  • Anything else you want to chuck in (I threw in some sultanas, cherries, marshmallows, left over maltesers – but they were difficult to cut through & mini-egg – cos it was Easter!!)

All you need to do is melt together the butter, chocolate and syrup in a pan then add all the biscuits and anything else you want to throw in. Mix together quickly then pour into a swiss roll tin that has been lined with cling film then chill till set (though I used a loaf tin)