Archives for category: Chocolate

For those of you with reservations about baking something special for loved ones this Valentine’s Day, Kenwood Chef have put together some video tutorials to show you how easy it is. Chocolate cupcakes are a favourite in my house and always a winner no matter the occasion.

Chocolate Cupcakes

Follow along to the video to make your own delicious chocolaty treats.

And here’s the recipe:

Makes: 12

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Difficulty: Level 1

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4
  2. Ensure that your ingredients and equipment are at room temperature to reduce the risk of the mixture curdling.
  3. Place the butter and sugar into your mixer bowl and using the creaming beater cream on medium speed until it becomes thick and creamy.
  4. Beat the eggs to together, reduce the speed of the mixer and gradually add the eggs. Ensure that each addition of the eggs is properly incorporated before adding the next amount of the eggs.   Add a teaspoon of the flour after each amount of egg is added.
  5. Once the eggs have been incorporated add the flour, cocoa and baking powder and continue to mix together
  6. Place twelve paper cases into a muffin tray then divide the mixture evenly between them.
  7. Bake for approximately 12 – 15 minutes until they spring back when lightly pressed.

For the chocolate Icing:

  1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water; ensuring the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
  2. Place the butter into your mixer bowl and using the creaming beater cream the butter on medium speed until it becomes paler in colour.
  3. Add the icing sugar slowly and mix to combine.  Ensure your splashguard is in place to avoid the icing sugar escaping from the bowl.
  4. When the icing sugar and butter are combined, mix in the melted chocolate until it is an even colour.
  5. Spoon the icing into an icing bag, and pipe onto the cooled cupcakes.
  6. Decorate with your chosen decorations.

And if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, why not try Tiramisu to complete a romantic Italian inspired meal.  Kenwood Chef makes it easy!

*Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I have not personally tried this recipe, however I do use a Kenwood Chef mixer and kMix hand mixer that I purchased myself.

New handmixer

 

Happy baking!

I can’t believe we are in the home stretch to 2013. 2012 has passed way too fast for my liking. Looking back through the photos which have documented this year, I haven’t been baking or blogging about baking nearly enough.

And though this has been a recurring sentiment, I’m getting back in the proverbial (blogging) saddle. Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat. There’s going to be a whole lot of baking, eating, sharing and best of all a big trip to the motherland.

Stay with me, dear readers… but in the meantime, here’s a taste of what went on in the downtime:

Victoria Sponge

Victoria Sponge in honor of the Diamond Jubilee. Recipe from Primrose Bakery Baking Book, although I used fresh strawberries in place of jam and Earl Grey/Lemon whipping cream. This was my first go at the traditional British cake. I was happy with the way it turned out and will most likely bake it again when tradition calls.

Hepburns

My baking book of the year is definitely ‘Baked In America‘ – maybe it’s because I’m American, but mostly because this is one AMAZING baking book. Recipes from this book are featured many times throughout the blog in 2012 and will continue to be featured in the future. One day I’ll finally make it to Chiswick to Outsider Tart and hopefully meet my baking heroes – the two Davids.

The brownies above are called Hepburns (Kate, rather than Audrey) and probably the best brownie recipe around. They make ideal treats for any occasion – school fetes, birthdays or general parties.

Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake brownies

Brownie tower

These Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Brownies were made especially for my mother in law’s un-birthday party. As her party food was served buffet-style, I wanted to make a special desserty treat that attendees could eat as little or as much as they like. So these brownies were cut into 1.5 in squares and served on cake stands mixed with the Hepburns featured above.

Orange polenta cake

Another series of books which have inspired breakfasts, dinners and baking alike are the Leon books. The Orange Polenta Cake is from Leon – Baking & Puddings, book three, as featured in the ‘Teatime’ section. This cake is an ideal accompaniment to Earl Grey tea and also gluten-free!

Trish's Two Cents

Martin has been working on building a set of speakers over at his dad’s house. I like to take a baked treat when we go over. One weekend in September, Trish’s Two-Cents from Baked In America caught my eye and I had to give it a go. This is the best ‘pound-cake’ type cake I have ever had. It is definitely going to be in regular rotation for when cakes are called for.

Pumpkin pie

And last, but not least, in the baking recap is Pumpkin Pie. This is a recipe traditionally served at Thanksgiving, in fact was featured in my Thanksgiving blog post from 2011, but I am not celebrating Thanksgiving this year so it was moved to Bonfire Night. While this recipe is from the back of a Libbys can, it is home-made with love and reminds me of autumnal days past.

Watch this space for Christmas treats to come soon…

Hands up, who loves chocolate? *hand raised high up* Yep, I love chocolate. I was also lucky enough to be approached by a new chocolatier Chocolate by Genevie to review chocolates available from her new online shop.

Last week, I was welcomed home by a very pretty package. Thankfully, my husband saved the unboxing until I got home from work.

Pretty package

shiny box

unboxing chocolate

Inside were eight beautifully crafted chocolates.

Eight is enough

close up chocolate

Not only did these chocolates look beautiful, they tasted beautiful. Just rich, indulgent cocoa each teamed with pistachio, marzipan, coffee, or just more chocolate ganache. This ‘Silver Box 8 Chocolates’ is only available from the website for £8.99 and would make a perfect gift for someone who enjoys chocolate. Thanks, Genevie!

There are a few competitions from other bloggers to win Chocolates by Genevie, if I were you I’d make sure to enter!

*I was sent a box of chocolates for review, but these thoughts are my own.*

What do you get someone who has a sweet tooth for their 90th birthday? A giant chocolate cake, that’s what!

Martin’s pop turned the big nine-oh last weekend and to celebrate family and friends gathered from across the globe (all the way from Canada!). I needed a cake that would serve the crowd and knock the socks off as well, so I turned to my new favourite baking book – Baked In America. Those David’s really know what they’re doing.

I had a tough choice narrowing which layer cake recipe to make and finally decided on Coke Layers. Coca-cola and chocolate? You can’t get more indulgent, really…

So here goes, my adventure in a triple layer chocolate indulgence.

To get started, I melted butter with coca-cola in a bowl over simmering water.

Butter and cola

Then added three types of chocolate – plain, milk and super dark 81% chocolate. Seriously chocolatey… oh yeah… and marshmallows. (I think I gained 10 lbs just writing that sentence.)

Chocolate and marshmallow

Once the chocolate, butter, cola and marshmallows were all melty and gooey, I let it cool to room temperature and sorted the dry ingredients. Oh yeah, there’s more chocolate.

Dry ingredients

Once the chocolate, butter, marshmallow and cola mixture cooled, I added it to the eggs and sugar. It’s key to let a hot chocolate mixture cool to room temp, otherwise you’ll get scrambled chocolate eggs… yuck.

4 bowl process

This mixture makes 3x 9 inch layers.

Fresh from the oven

As recommended, I used a chocolate fudge frosting, which combines sour cream and melted chocolate.

ready for frosting

frosting in progress

And voila! A frosted triple layer chocolate cake!

finished

ready for celebration

Pop loved the cake, as did everyone at the party. He had a few helpers to blow out the candles.

make a wish

Happy birthday, Pop! Here’s to 90 great years and more to come…

Layers

20120304-182056.jpg

English Mum is hosting a ‘Baked With Love Bakeoff’ and now that Owen, my brand new oven, is in full effect, I had to get involved.  I like making Valentine’s day treats for my sweeties and wanted to do something new, so I tried Red Velvet Cupcakes.  I have seen many recipes for Red Velvet Cake, all of which use quite a bit of red food colouring, but the one from Eric Lanlard’s Home Bake is one that does not.  It’s an American style recipe which relies on the chemical reaction between baking soda and white wine vinegar to create the ‘red’ effect.

It was more like a science experiment than baking, but that was part of the fun.

red velvet science experiment

It started out like your everyday cake mixture using the creaming method: butter, sugar, cocoa…

Cocoa powder

Then alternately add buttermilk and flour…

Mix it up

But with this mixture you combine baking soda and white wine vinegar. Vinegar in cupcakes?! okaay…

now for the science bit

Then keep mixing until it becomes a glossy mixture…

glossy mixture

I filled each cupcake cup halfway and popped them in the new oven. (Affectionately named Owen thanks to the suggestion of Leah and Phil).

Owen shows off

Et voila… Cupcakes! They didn’t come out as red as I anticipated, but they taste amazing and are actually really velvety in texture.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

As these cakes are celebrating Valentine’s Day, I decorated them with marshmallow topping (mini G’s favourite) and heart shaped sprinkles.

Valentine's decorations

And they went down a treat with the little love of my life – mini G…

baked with love

Baked with love bakeoff

Today is a very special day, it’s my dad’s birthday. Not only is it his birthday, his favourite football team – the 49ers – are playing in the Conference Championships.
I’m sad that I can’t be there to celebrate his birthday (and the game), so here’s to you, Dad… Happy Birthday! Oh, and go ‘Niners!

san-francisco-49er-logo

January has been a very busy month for birthdays and I’ve been busy baking cakes.

Cake batter

I kicked off the month with my husband’s birthday back on the 8th. Mini G decided Martin should have carrot cake and since I just got the Primrose Baking Book, G and I tested their recipe.

Carrot cake carrots

I left out the raisins and most of the cinnamon as Mini G is not a fan, but even without these, the cake was fabulous. It would be even better with raisins and the proper amount of cinnamon. I also topped it with an orange icing rather than cream cheese frosting, which made a very nice substitute.

Carrot bundt cake

A few days later, we celebrated Martin’s dad’s birthday. He’s a classic sort of guy, so I wanted to make a classic british cake. I wanted a challenge, so I went for the Battenburg and looked to my trusty Leith’s Baking Bible for guidance.

battenburg construction

The sponge itself is very simple to make. I split the batter in half and used Sugarflair ‘Claret’ paste to create the pink colour for the sponge. Then came the difficult bit… making 4 equal square lengths. I managed to cut the cake as close to equal as possible and slathered in between each length with apricot jam. Next up, the marzipan outer layer.

The key to this bit is to roll out the marzipan as thin as possible, but not too thin so it tears. I wrapped the cake as tightly as I could and voila! Battenburg cake!

Battenburg serving up

I’m glad I baked this, I’m glad it came out well, but I can’t see making it again anytime soon.

Tea time cake

A sassy little lady I know turned 10 yesterday. She loves chocolate and rabbits, so I created a cake with both.

Chocolate cake

The chocolate sponge was from Eric Lanlard’s Home Bake (It really is a foolproof chocolate sponge for any occasion) and I used Nigella’s All Purpose Chocolate Icing from How to be a Domestic Goddess.

chocolate icing

purple royal icing

To create the purple rabbits, I used regular ready to roll white royal icing and kneaded in some ‘Violet’ Sugarflair colour paste. Then rolled it out on baking parchment and cut out the rabbit shapes with a cookie cutter.

rabbit shapes

And here’s the finished cake… Happy Birthday, Biba!

Biba's cake

Mini G’s Poppy’s birthday was on the 20th and although I did not bake this cake, it needed to be featured. MIL made a chocolate Guinness cake from Nigella’s Feast book and it was divine. So much for my diet!

Guinness cake

Happy birthday to all of the Dad’s and to new friends! Let them eat cake!

Christmas has come a bit early this year with the arrival of Hotel Chocolat’s ‘Christmas at Santa’s House’ – a cute little house shaped box filled with individually wrapped milk chocolate Santas, reindeer and penguins.

Hotel Chocolat review

These went down a treat (pun might or might not be intended) with my family. We love chocolate in our house. Mini G even tried to sneak some behind my back! He had a different favourite each day and enjoyed choosing between the penguin or Santa or a reindeer. The fact that they are individually wrapped helped with keeping us from just eating them all in one go.

Individually wrapped

The box design is so festive, it makes a nice decoration even after the chocolates have disappeared. I foresee it sitting on my dresser throughout the Christmas season. A few of these would make ideal Christmas gifts for kids of all ages.  Hotel Chocolat have a fantastic selection of festive edible goodies from stocking fillers to extravagant hampers.

Christmas decoration

*This competition is now closed* For your chance to win a ‘Christmas at Santa’s House’ Hotel Chocolat gift box of your own, just leave a comment below saying which Hotel Chocolat Christmas treat is your favourite, as well as your favourite Christmas song.

Christmas gifts

Christmas at Santa’s House is new to the Hotel Chocolat Christmas range – available for £12 on the website.

You can find Hotel Chocolat on Facebook and on Twitter – @HotelChocolat

** I have been sent ‘Christmas at Santa’s House’ from Hotel Chocolat for review. I am not being paid to do so. These views are my own. **

Bonfire night is an event, specific to England, to celebrate the failure to assassinate King James in 1605. Like a lot of observed ‘holidays’, the historical meaning gets lost, but the tradition still lives. Families get together around a bonfire in the garden and let off fireworks or go to local fireworks displays, similar to how Americans celebrate 4th of July. As an American expat, I much prefer bonfire night for a couple of reasons. Reason 1 – see earlier blog post. Reason(s) 2 – I love autumn, I love the crispness in the air, bundling up around a bonfire, and especially the traditional food involved.

Since moving to the Market Harborough, we started a tradition of spending bonfire night at my in laws. Sausages are always incorporated into the dinner menu somehow, this year was no exception. I was in charge of dessert and didn’t really know what would be ‘bonfire-y’. My colleague, Keredy, suggested Parkin, which is a Yorkshire cake traditionally enjoyed on bonfire night. My 2nd cousin – once removed – Jack suggested marshmallows, which got me thinking… what goes with bonfires or campfires? S’mores! Here’s how it went…

I researched some Parkin recipes online and came across one from Delia Smith. She’s a trustworthy source, so I went with it:

Traditional Oatmeal Parkin
8 oz (225 g) medium oatmeal
4 oz (110 g) self-raising flour
a pinch of salt
7 oz (200 g) dark syrup or golden syrup
1 oz (25 g) black treacle, plus 1 teaspoon
4 oz (110 g) margarine
4 oz (110 g) soft brown sugar
2 level teaspoons ground ginger
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon milk

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 1, 275°F (140°C).

Parkin key ingredients

Parkin ingredients

First weigh a saucepan on the scales, and weigh the syrup and treacle into it.

Then add the margarine and the sugar to the saucepan and place it over a gentle heat until the margarine has melted down – don’t go away and leave it unattended, because for this you don’t want it to boil.

Butter brown sugar treacle

Parkin melted treacle

Meanwhile, measure the oatmeal, flour and ginger into a mixing bowl, add a pinch of salt, then gradually stir in the warmed syrup mixture till the mixture is all thoroughly blended.

Next add the beaten egg, and lastly the milk. Now pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake on the centre shelf of the oven for 1 hour 45 min.

Parkin batter

Then cool the parkin in the tin for 30 minutes before turning out.

finished parkin

Parkin should be made a few days before it is intended to be eaten. This is one bonfire tradition I can get behind. It is one tasty cake with flavours of dark treacle and ginger. Best served while sitting around a fire.

Bonfire fire

Parkin in front of fire

S’mores are an American dessert traditionally eaten around a campfire. Since we have not yet gone camping, a bonfire is the closest thing. The origin of the s’more (short for Some More, because they are so good you always want some more) is unknown, however the first printed recipe dates back to 1927 from ‘Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts’ by Loretta Scott Crew. There are three simple ingredients in a S’more – marshmallow, chocolate and graham crackers. Graham crackers are not native to the UK, so I used digestive biscuits as a substitution. Desperate times call for desperate measures… it works.

Mini G Marshmallow

How to make S’mores on bonfire night:

Step one – take a large marshmallow, place on the end of a long stick – we used bamboo skewers – then place the marshmallow dangerously close to the flames of the bonfire. It’s ok if the marshmallow catches fire, just blow it out – it adds to the experience/flavour.

Step two – take a digestive biscuit and place a piece of chocolate on it. The best sort of chocolate would be the flattest bar you can find. Hersheys is traditional to the US, but Sainsburys own will work fine too.

Step three – place the marshmallow – still on the skewer – on top of the chocolate piece and digestive biscuit. Then place a second digestive biscuit on top of the marshmallow creating a marshmallow and chocolate sandwich. Gently remove skewer, stick (whatever you might be using).

s'mores

Step four – squash a bit so that the marshmallow goes a bit oozey, then put it in your mouth and eat it.

These were a hit with the fam.

The rest of the evening was spent burning things, as you do on bonfire night.

Fireworks

Nanny and Mini G

Bonfire night sparklers

Fun for the whole family…I love bonfire night.

Punch Communications celebrated its 8th birthday this month. In honour of the occasion, I made 18 cupcakes (one for each member of the Punch team) in the theme of the number 8 and what better way than the 8 ball?

Cupcake prep

Cakes at the ready

This one was definitely a challenge. What was I thinking? Black frosting! I’ve heard it was a difficult one to achieve, but I thought with Black Extra colour i’d be ok. I nearly wasn’t ok. I’m glad I did a test batch before attempting the real thing. My first attempt came out a washed out grey. Then I read up on black frosting and learned that you shouldn’t start from white. Start from a dark colour, like brown/chocolate. Or if you are making vanilla, add your darkest colours first – blues, purples, greens… whatever… this minimises the chances of it going completely grey.

chocolate for frosting

With this in mind, I started with my standard vanilla cupcake in black cases. I then made a chocolate buttercream as a base for the frosting. I added a small dollop of purple Sugarflair paste to the chocolate frosting mixture and few medium sized dollops of black extra.

black is black

The colour ended up a gunmetal grey, which worried me a bit. But then I remembered the advice from the baking guru at the local Cookshop, the Sugarflair colours go darker over time. Thankfully, they did!

18 8balls

After frosting the cakes with the black base, I added a marshmallow circle and then drew an “8″ on each cake.

8 Ball

And voila! An 8 Ball cupcake.

Happy birthday, Punch!

in situ

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