Showing posts with label chocolate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chocolate. Show all posts

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Matcha and chocolate cupcakes

When Tombo Tea kindly offered me a sample of their matcha baking mix I was intrigued and also a little wary.  I don’t like green tea as a drink but, when I’ve tried it in bakes, have always enjoyed it. I pondered how best to bake with matcha: it has a fresh, clean, almost grassy taste so figured it would balance well with rich ingredients like chocolate and cream cheese.  These cupcakes were the result of my musings and I am extremely pleased with them!

One of my great joys in baking (I already know I’m overselling this) is when you take a teaspoon of something, tip it out and it holds its shape.  Look at this lovely ball of greenness:

I loved how green the frosting turned out; one of the features of Tombo Tea’s matcha baking mix is that it retains its green colour.  It would be perfect for any Halloween bakes but also all year as it’s a natural rather than garish colour.  I also enjoyed something being green but not minty – it’s always interesting to see everyone’s expectations challenged; we get conditioned that certain colours equal certain flavours so it’s nice to shake things up!

The matcha cut through the very rich frosting; the balance between freshness and richness was perfect and at that moment I became a convert to green tea!  The chocolate cupcakes didn’t benefit from the colour, but again the addition of the matcha elevated these to something lighter and fresher than the usual rich chocolate cake.

Definition of sod’s law: the cupcake you pick to cut in half will always be the one you tested during baking with the skewer.  Notice the little vertical line in the centre at the top?

Now some eagle eyed readers will notice that the recipe makes 12 cupcakes but there are only 11 in the tin.  I have a two word answer for you, my friends: cook’s perks.

Thanks to Tombo Tea for sending me the sample of matcha baking mix - I absolutely loved it.


For the sponges:
175g unsalted butter, at room temperature
175g golden caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
145g self raising flour
30g cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder
2 tablespoons milk, if needed

For the frosting:
200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
300g icing sugar
180g cream cheese – I used Philadelphia
1 ½ teaspoon matcha green tea powder


Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Line a cupcake tin with 12 paper cases.

Start by making the sponges: beat together the butter and sugar until pale, light and fluffy.  Don’t skimp on this stage.

Beat in the vanilla.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding some of the flour if it looks like it might curdle.  Use this as a learning opportunity – if it starts to curdle, you need to beat the butter and sugar for longer next time.

Fold in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, matcha powder.

If necessary, add the milk to loosen the mixture to a dropping consistency (I needed to use it).

Spoon into the cupcake cases and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the sponges comes out clean.  Probably best to check the cupcakes after 20 minutes in case your oven is quicker than mine.

Leave to cool – out of the tin - on a wire rack.

Now make the frosting: beat the butter until it is pale and whippy looking.

Add the icing sugar and beat again until well incorporated.

Beat in the cream cheese and matcha.

Pipe or spread over the sponges.

Refrigerate until 20 minutes before serving.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Sunday, 28 September 2014

No-bake oat, chocolate and peanut butter bars

Mr CC’s workplace is hosting a big coffee morning for Macmillan Cancer on Monday in order to give everyone time to bake over the weekend rather than have to do it when they got home from work.  I’ve been beavering away making sponge cake and cupcakes and needed something very quick and easy for us to enjoy.  Cake for charity is an extremely worthwhile and noble thing but there’s also the saying that charity begins at home so I knew our own cake tin had to be well stocked too!

This really couldn’t be any quicker or easier.  Or any more delicious which, after all, is obviously the most important thing.  I am always partial to anything oaty – I’ve never met a flapjack I didn’t like, but the addition here of chocolate and peanut butter raises the bar and adds that salty-sweet element that everybody seems to adore.  The molten chocolate peanut butter mix was so glossy and beautiful that I had to photograph it:

The only tricky thing here is not to eat all the warm, buttery oat mix before it finds its way to the pan to chill.  Warning: do not taste a bit ‘just to see what it’s like’.  You will end up eating a pan full of warm oats and wondering if you have enough ingredients left to make a second batch!  I tasted a bit (which I realise makes me fall into the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ camp) and a second bit just to prove the first bit wasn’t misrepresentative of the whole...and after that had to dig deep into my self control reserve (not known for its depth) to leave it alone.  The smell was torturous to resist!

I think from this next picture you could guess that I’m left handed!


225g unsalted butter
100g soft brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
375g oats
200g milk chocolate
125g smooth peanut butter


Line a rectangular pan measuring approximately 24cm v 17cm with baking paper or non-stick foil.  Anything close to these dimensions will work so don’t worry if your pan is different.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a gentle heat; don’t rush this – you don’t want the butter to take on any colour.

Stir in the sugar and vanilla.

Add the oats and stir well to combine.

Cook over the heat for about 5 minutes.

Divide the mixture in half and press one half evenly into the bottom of the prepared tin.

Put the remaining half to one side.

In a separate pan, gently melt the chocolate and peanut butter, stirring occasionally so the ingredients combine.

Pour over the oaty base in the tin and spread out so the base is completely covered.

Crumble the remaining half of oat mixture over the chocolate taking care to achieve an even distribution.

Lightly press the oats into the chocolate.

Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least three hours, ideally overnight.

Let come to room temperature before cutting into bars.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Sunday, 7 September 2014

Chocolate and ginger sandwich cake

I am extremely suggestible with my baking.  Like most bakers I have a ‘to bake’ list, but then I’ll come across a recipe in a magazine or online and think, ‘that’s what I’m baking next’ and the list goes out the window.  That’s what happened here – I saw this recipe in a Sunday supplement magazine and all I could think about was how lovely chocolate and ginger sponge sounded.  When I leave for work in the morning I have noticed the aromas of Autumn starting to appear and obviously Autumn means spice so this cake had to be!

This is going to sound a stupid question (possibly because it is) but why is stem ginger only ever in ball shapes?  Why not just irregular chunks – it would do the same thing but waste less ginger.  Who decided that the only appropriate shape for stem ginger was a sphere?  And why are they always roughly the same size, to the extent that recipes will say ‘use one ball of stem ginger’ like it’s an actual recognised weight?  Answers on a postcard to….

The ginger and chocolate are very well balanced in this recipe – you get a nice hit of chocolate followed by a gentle spicy warmth.  The sponge is particularly light with a lovely soft crumb.  Perfect to enjoy with a cup of tea. 

This post marks the 7th anniversary of The Caked Crusader.  Seven years! Where has the time gone?  I’m now pretty close to a recipe for each day of the that sounds like a good year!


For the sponge:
50g cocoa powder
6 tablespoons boiling water
4 tablespoons milk
200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 balls of stem ginger, very finely chopped -I used my mini food processor to blitz it small enough; if you don’t have one then consider grating it
175g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

For the buttercream:
115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
225g icing sugar
2 tablespoons stem ginger syrup
1 tablespoon milk

To decorate: 1 ball of stem ginger, very finely chopped


Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Line two 20cm loose bottomed sandwich tins with baking paper.

Start by making the cocoa paste: Stir the cocoa powder and boiling water together ensuring that there are no lumps.

Stir in the milk and take care to eliminate any powdery lumps.

Put the paste to one side.

In a large mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar together until smooth, whippy and creamy looking.  Do not skimp on this stage.

Beat in the eggs one at a time.

Beat in the ground ginger and the finely chopped stem ginger.

Stir in the cocoa paste.

Fold in the flour and the baking powder taking care that the ingredients are well incorporated.

Spoon into the prepared tins and level the surface.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cakes comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for 20 minutes before de-tinning and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.

Now make the buttercream: beat the butter until it is pale and whippy.  I find that beating the butter first makes it lighter and easier to incorporate the icing sugar.

Add the icing sugar and beat until smooth and well combined.

Add the ginger syrup and milk and continue to beat until you have a lovely smooth  buttercream – the best test is to take a tiny amount on your tongue and press it against the roof of your mouth.  If it feels grainy you need to continue beating it to dissolve the sugar.
Place one sponge on the serving plate and spread half the buttercream over it.

Place the second sponge on top and spread the remaining buttercream over it.

Decorate with finely chopped stem ginger.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Sunday, 17 August 2014

Anzac biscuits

This is a recipe that has been on my ‘to bake’ list for far too long.  Before baking them I had never eaten an Anzac biscuit but I knew I would love them as they contain three of my all-time favourite ingredients: oats, coconut and golden syrup.

Anzac biscuits originated in war-time and were, so the story goes, a popular biscuit sent by Australian and New Zealander wives to their soldier husbands serving overseas.  The biscuits are egg-free (like so many war-time recipes), keep well and are robust enough to withstand transportation.  There are stories on-line that the military-issued Anzac biscuits were quite different to these lovely home-baked treats; made from hard tack – a long life bread substitute made from flour, water and salt – the soldiers referred to them as ‘dog biscuits’, ‘tooth dullers’, ‘sheet iron’, ‘molar breakers’ and I suspect several other names that I wouldn’t be able to include on my nice, family friendly blog!

I made two batches of biscuits; the classic version and a chocolate chip version.  The latter is identical to the former but for the addition of some chocolate chips, which melted due to the hot butter.  Both were lovely!  The biscuits were crisp and chewy with a lovely buttery taste.  These aren’t tiny, thin little biscuits that you eat without knowing; these are substantial hearty biscuits – perfect with a big mug of tea.

This recipe came from the BBC Good Food site (I love that site!); some of the commenters said the mix was too dry and they had to add milk.  To combat this, in my chocolate batch, I added 2 tablespoons of golden syrup which is why they spread much more than my plain batch (which used 1 tablespoon).  You don’t need any extra liquid and I think I twigged why people may have had a problem.  The key to shaping these biscuits is to do it while the butter is still warm; as soon as it starts to cool the mix becomes crumbly.  Work quickly and it’s fine.


100g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons boiling water
85g porridge oats
85g desiccated coconut
100g plain flour
100g caster sugar

Optional: 100g milk chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Line two baking sheets with baking paper or non-stick foil.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan making sure it doesn’t burn.

Remove from the heat and mix in the golden syrup.

In a bowl (use a larger size than you’d think based on the quantities as it will froth up!) mix together the bicarbonate of soda and boiling water.

Add the bicarb liquid into the butter syrup mix and stir together.

In a large bowl, stir together the oats, coconut, flour and sugar.

Make a well in the centre and pour in the butter mixture.

Stir to incorporate all the ingredients.

If using, stir in the chocolate chips.

If the mixture is very dry and won’t hold together when you squeeze it, add the milk – only use if necessary.

Take scant tablespoons of the mixture, roll into balls, flatten and place onto the baking sheet – leave them 3-4cm room to expand on baking.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden.  I like to rotate the baking sheets halfway through cooking time to ensure a nice even bake.

When I checked on them after 8 minutes they had puffed up a bit so I poked them to let the air out.  Brutal, but it works!

They will be soft straight from the oven so leave them for 10 minutes to firm up before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

The biscuits will store in an airtight tin for several days…given the chance!

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Sunday, 3 August 2014

Chocolate ricotta cake

I’ve been baking a lot with fruit and ‘lighter’ summer flavours of late.  This week I just wanted something sinfully chocolatey with that lovely rich ‘stick to the ribs’ quality.  Chocolate, ricotta and almonds – perfect!

This is almost gluten free…I know that’s not very helpful and also not possible: something is either gluten free or it isn’t.  I point this out simply because, if you needed it to be gluten free, I wonder whether you could substitute more ground almonds for the flour; it’s only two tablespoons after all?  If any gluten free bakers know whether this would work please let me know via your comments. 

Realising I knew very little about ricotta I did some research.  The first thing I learned was that ‘ricotta’ literally means re-cooked.  I think this is because of the second fact that I learned: ricotta is produced from the by-product from the production of other cheeses such as mozzarella.  It’s made from the whey that’s left behind when the curds are strained – a bonus cheese no less!

The cake is meant to be served warm; I liked it at room temperature too but the texture becomes a little heavier.  This isn’t a bad thing as, like all (almost) flourless cakes the sticky, squidgy texture is a joy.  Serving it with cream was probably an unnecessary indulgence but… I apologise for nothing! (smugly award yourself bonus marks if you know which – admittedly obscure – cartoon character I’m quoting!)


150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g caster sugar
150g chocolate, melted and left to cool – I used half dark, half milk
3 eggs, separated
250g ricotta cheese
100g ground almonds
2 tablespoon plain flour

To serve: thick cream


Preheat the oven to 170°C/ fan oven 150°C/325°F/gas mark 4.

Line a 20cm round springform tin with baking paper.

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy – do not skimp on this stage as this is your chance to get lots of air into the mix.

Add the chocolate, egg yolks and ricotta and stir until just combined.

Stir in the ground almonds and flour.

In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until they reach soft peaks.

Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.  This is best achieved by stirring a spoonful of whites into the chocolate to slacken the mix, which will make the rest of the egg whites easier to fold in.

Pour into the prepared tin – it will be quite runny.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the cake is set around the edges but retains some wobble in the centre.  A skewer will not help you here!

Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before attempting to de-tin.  It will settle a little as it cools so don’t panic!

Serve the cake warm (although I liked it just as much at room temperature!) with thick cream.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Sunday, 25 May 2014

Peanut butter chocolate truffles

These delicious truffles could not be simpler to make but they do require a bit of planning as the ganache needs time to chill properly in the fridge.  I was inspired to make these after Mr CC and I were served them with our tea/coffee at the end of very nice dinner to celebrate Mr CC’s birthday. 

The ones we were served in the restaurant had been rolled in cocoa powder, which I’m not a fan of in its raw form, so I used digestive crumbs instead.  Curses!  I am typing this post at mid point in the process – my ganache is cooling in the fridge.  Unusually, Mr CC is sitting next to me while I’m typing and has noticed that I’ve chosen not to roll them in cocoa....long story short, half will now be in biscuit crumbs, half in cocoa!

I have noticed a curious thing about digestive biscuits: when I buy them to put in my biscuit tin and wish them to stay whole I will open the packet and find several broken, even though I have carefully laid them in the top of one of my bags of shopping and treated them as though they were made of glass.  When I buy digestive biscuits to turn into a cheesecake base or any other recipe that involves smashing them into crumbs I will casually toss them into any of my bags of shopping – in with the potatoes and milk?  Why not? They will be doing the work for me! – and they will come home with not so much as a crumb chipped away. 

Peanut butter and chocolate is a lovely combination for anyone who enjoys that salty/sweet flavour mix.  I challenge anyone to stop at one truffle!  I tried cutting one in half to try and convey the rich, dense texture but it looked a bit crumbly because I cut it straight from the fridge thinking it would give a cleaner cut.  Moral of this story?  When in doubt, bite it in half:

Ganache making is a wonderful process; I never quite trust that the chocolate will mix in but it’s wonderful how it does!

I used a small melon baller to scoop the ganache into individual truffles.  You can tidy the balls up by rolling them in your hands but don’t waste a lot of time on this because, once they are rolled in cocoa or crumbs they look smooth and round anyway.  I made mine quite small – I like a truffle that you pop into your mouth whole and treat like a shot!  This mixture made me over 60 truffles....hurray!  Don't limit yourself to serving them as chocolates - how about using them as decadent cupcake toppers, or cheesecake fact, any chocolate dessert?


300ml double cream
6-8 tablespoons smooth peanut butter – depending how peanutty you want it
200g dark chocolate, broken into squares
100g milk chocolate, broken into squares
8 digestive biscuits
6 tablespoons cocoa powder, you may need more


Place the cream and peanut butter in a saucepan and bring slowly to the boil.

Remove from the heat and add both the dark and milk chocolate.

Leave to stand for a couple of minutes before gently stirring to combine into a thick, glossy ganache.

Pour into a heat proof dish and leave to cool before refrigerating until set (at least 4 hours – I left it overnight).

Blitz the digestive biscuits to crumbs either in the food processor or by placing in a bag and bashing with a rolling pin.

Take a melon baller scoop (or a  teaspoon if you don’t have a melon baller) of ganache and roll into a ball.

Repeat until all the ganache is used up.  If the ganache in the dish or the rolled balls start to get too soft return to the fridge for 10 minutes before resuming.

When all the balls are rolled, roll them individually in the biscuit crumbs or the cocoa powder.

Place in a petit four paper case and refrigerate until you wish to serve.  I got over 60 truffles...which made me very popular with everyone!

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Sunday, 11 May 2014

Condensed milk and nut cake

This is a recipe that caught my eye in one of those little “30 best recipe books”.  I liked that the recipe appeared so simple for an unusual looking end product.  It looks almost like a cheesecake but it isn’t – that creamy topping is made purely of baked condensed milk. This is a really quick, low effort bake, but I think the results suggest otherwise.  Please note the small squares I have cut it into – this is sweet and rich.  Think tasty little nibble to be enjoyed with a cup of tea/coffee rather than a big slice!  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!  

I don’t tend to keep condensed milk in my store cupboard and buy it only when I need it, which isn’t often.  This is probably just as well as I only have to taste a little bit off the lid of the can to fall head over heels in love with the stuff.  It’s sweet, creamy, thick and sticky texture is so sinfully good that I wonder why more baked goods don’t use it.  I really need to try it in an ice cream recipe – I bet it’s amazing.

I’ve stuck to the recipe as it used some of my favourite ingredients of chocolate, coconut and walnuts to add texture and flavour; I suspect however that the recipe is a bit of a blank canvas and any other nut, type of chocolate, or even dried fruit would work just as well; probably best though not to choose anything too sweet.

It’s also a good dish to use if you want to work out the age of people.  If, like me, you’re a child of the 1970s you won’t be able to hear the words ‘condensed milk’ without thinking of Lenny Henry and his condensed milk sandwiches on Tiswas.  I had a little chuckle the other day at work about how our popular culture references pinpoint us quite precisely age-wise.  A colleague was chatting to a younger colleague and made a passing reference to Percy Thrower (famous gardener and in charge of the Blue Peter garden; if you grew up in the 1970/80s apart from Zammo ODing in Grange Hill, the vandalism of the Blue Peter garden was about the most shocking thing that blighted your childhood).  She looked at him blankly and said, ‘who?’  She’ll be claiming she’s never heard of Morph and Chas next…..


For the base:
100g digestive biscuits
50g unsalted butter

For the topping:
150g chocolate, finely chopped – I used half milk, half dark chocolate
70g desiccated coconut
150g walnuts, finely chopped
379g sweetened condensed milk

Optional: icing sugar for dusting


Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Line a 18cm square cake pan with baking paper or non stick foil.

Put the biscuits in a food processor and blitz until you have fine crumbs.

Add the butter and blitz again until the mixture resembles damp sand. (NB. If you prefer the manual method place the biscuits into a thick bag, tie the top, and hit with the rolling pin until you have crumbs.  Melt the butter and then stir the crumbs into it.)

Press the crumb mix into the base of the tin and press down firmly, ensuring the base is of even thickness.  Initially you will think there isn’t enough biscuit to cover the base, but be patient and keep pressing it down and out and there is.

Sprinkle over the chocolate, coconut and walnuts.

Slowly pour the condensed milk over the top taking care to disturb the chocolate, coconut and walnuts as little as possible (some movement is inevitable) – do not stir.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until the mixture is set but not rubbery (think baked cheesecake or baked custard texture – a bit of a wobble in the centre!)

Leave to cool completely in the tin, on a wire rack, before de-tinning and cutting into small squares.

Refrigerate until about 20 minutes before serving.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful think you have created.


Sunday, 23 March 2014

Chocolate sandwich cake

This recipe came about as I was thinking how I could make a classic Victoria sponge but dress it up differently enough so it felt like a new cake.  Making it into a chocolate cake was an obvious idea – most sponges will adapt to a chocolate sponge by replacing some of the flour with cocoa; as long as the flour and cocoa equal the original flour weight it should work.

The sponge manages to be rich and intensely flavoured whilst light in texture.  I opted for a three rather than four egg mix as the thick layer of ganache adds some height to the cake and I wanted a slice to fit on a plate!  I know the sensible option would’ve been to stick with a bigger sponge and just serve it on dinner plates but I had a rare moment of restraint and downsized my mix!

I love the classic method for making a Victoria sponge as it’s so simple: weigh the eggs in their shells and whatever they weigh is the amount for the other ingredients i.e. butter, sugar and flour (or flour + cocoa if making a chocolate sponge).  It guarantees a perfect sponge every time and is satisfyingly old fashioned.

The whipped cream is a lovely filling for the cake as it lightens what could otherwise be rather too much richness.  OK, you’ll know me well enough by now to understand that I don’t ever think anything can be too rich, but I’m trying to sound like a normal person and that’s the sort of thing I hear people say!


For the sponge:
3 eggs – weighed in their shells.  Mine were 218g therefore the remaining ingredients should all be 218g:
218g Unsalted butter
218g Caster sugar
180g Self raising flour – 180g +38g cocoa = 218g
38g Cocoa powder
2 tablespoons milk

For the ganache filling:
90ml double cream
175g milk or dark chocolate, or a mix of both, chopped
25g unsalted butter

For filling:
150ml double cream


Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Line two 20cm round loose bottomed sandwich tins with baking paper.

Weigh the eggs in their shells and note the weight.  Mine weighed 218g.

Weigh out the butter so it equals the weight of the eggs and beat in a bowl.

Weigh out the same amount of sugar and add to the butter, beating until the mix is light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs one at a time.

Fold in the flour and cocoa (which should, as a total, equal the egg weight).

Stir in enough milk to ensure the sponge batter is of dropping consistency.

Spoon into the prepared tins and level the surface.

Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the sponges comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tins for about 20 minutes, then de-tin and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

You can make the cakes a day in advance and store in an airtight container overnight.

Now make the ganache: heat the cream until it is bubbling but not boiling.

Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate.

Stir until you have a smooth melted chocolate, then stir in the butter.

Leave to cool and thicken – this may take a little while, so I put it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

When it is thick enough to spread and hold its position, spread over the bottom layer of sponge cake.

Whip the cream until it holds in peaks and spread over the ganache.

Top with the other layer of sponge.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Sunday, 9 March 2014

No-bake chocolate tart

Seriously – this recipe only requires the hob, no oven at all!  I know it’s hard to believe.  This is an incredibly rich and indulgent dessert and is so simple to make I predict it will become a much loved and trusted recipe to fall back on when you need to rustle up something special at speed.

The chocolate filling is basically a thick ganache that has been allowed to set in the fridge.  It is so creamy and rich that even I couldn’t manage a huge me, I tried!

The biscuit base is similar to the traditional cheesecake biscuit base but with a twist – the addition of golden syrup; this adds a sweet note and works well with the unsweetened ganache.

This is one of my rare recipes where everyone in the family had a second slice – it seemed to suit all tastes, preferences, age groups!


For the biscuit base:
200g biscuits – hobnobs, digestives or shortbreads will all work
100g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon golden syrup or honey

For the ganache:
200ml whipping cream, plus a further 200ml for whipping and piping on top
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g dark chocolate
100g milk chocolate
To decorate: raspberries or chocolates – I used Twirl pieces


Place the biscuits, butter and golden syrup in a food processor and blitz until you have moist crumbs.  If you don’t have a food processor, place the biscuits in a bag and beat to crumbs with a rolling pin.  Then put in a bowl and add the butter (melted) and golden syrup.

Press the crumbs into a 36cm x 12cm rectangular loose bottomed tart tin.  Alternatively, you could use a 23cm round loose bottomed tart tin.

Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Now make the filling: Place the cream in a saucepan and add the vanilla.

Bring the cream to up to boiling point, without actually letting it boil, and then remove from the heat.

Break up the chocolate and add to the cream.

Let it stand for a couple of minutes before going in with your whisk and ensuring that the cream and chocolate are fully combined.

Leave to cool for 15-20 minutes.  Whisk occasionally to thicken up the ganache.

Remove the tart base from the fridge and pour the ganache into it.

Return to the fridge and leave to firm up – once it is firm, wrap it in clingfilm (if you try and do this straightaway you will get a mess and the clingfilm won’t pull away easily).

Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before you wish to serve and decorate with whipped cream and either raspberries or chocolates.

Serve in slices.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Sunday, 9 February 2014

Guinness and chocolate cake

I’ve been making a lot of cakes with fruit of late but fancied something rich, dark and chocolaty this weekend.  This cake ticked the boxes and the cream cheese frosting was a bonus!

The frosting is supposed to represent the head on a pint of Guinness.  I cannot drink Guinness, it makes my mouth pucker in a way Mr CC finds endlessly amusing.  Indeed, one of his favourite past times is egging me on to try a drink of his whilst promising, ‘honestly, it’s not that bitter’, just so he can see that face.  Quite why anyone wants to drink something that tastes like iron filings is beyond me – but – in a cake, with lots of sugar to temper the bitterness, it works really well.

Several of my eaters didn’t fancy this cake from the description but were amazed at how much they liked it.  It is the richest, most intense chocolate cake and you wouldn’t know it had Guinness in, but you would wonder why the chocolate was so much more satisfying than a normal chocolate cake.

I suppose I should say that this cake is really rich and small slices will suffice....but really?  When was a cake ever so good that you only wanted a small piece of it?  Does. Not. Compute.


For the cake:
250ml Guinness
250g unsalted butter
75g cocoa powder
400g caster sugar
142ml sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
275g plain flour
2 ½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

For the frosting:
300g cream cheese – I used Philadelphia
150g icing sugar
125ml double cream


Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Line a 20cm round springform tin with baking paper.

Place the Guinness and butter into a saucepan and gently melt together, stirring occasionally.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the cocoa and sugar.

In a separate bowl beat together the sour cream and eggs, then stir into the butter mix.

Stir in the vanilla, flour and bicarbonate of soda.

Pour into the cake tin and bake for approximately 45 minutes – 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Leave to cool, in the tin, on a wire rack.  Don’t panic if it sinks a little on cooling – it’s a rich, squidgy cake!

Now make the topping: whisk the cream cheese until soft and smooth.

Add the icing sugar and beat it into the cream cheese.

Add the cream and beat again.

Spoon over the cake so that it looks like the head on a pint of Guinness.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.