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Chocolate hazelnut cake

I baked this because I really wanted to eat a chocolate cake. A pretty sound reason if you ask me. Light chocolate sponge topped off with layers of chocolate ganache with lots of hazelnuts throughout and sweet sticky hazelnuts on top. Mmmmmm. I shared it with people at work, so that I didn’t eat the whole thing. Because I could have. It went down pretty well if I do say so myself. It involved a slightly different to normal method of making a sponge, whisking egg whites until stiff (which always makes me sigh a little bit when I see that in a recipe), melting chocolate (but that’s always fun) and making ganache, but it is definitely worth it and this is what you’ll get…

IMAG1307

Here’s what you’ll need and how to do it (including a few little tips)…

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 70g whole hazelnuts
  • 175g dark chocolate (at least 70%), chopped
  • 175g butter, diced
  • 4 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 40g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder

For the ganache:

  • 150ml cream
  • 225g dark chocolate (at least 70%), chopped
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Recipe said 1 tbsp cognac, but I didn’t have any so used brandy instead

For the topping:

  • 50g sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 100g roasted whole hazelnuts (I used pre-chopped ones)

How to bake it:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C/400 degrees F/Gas 6 and lightly grease the cake tin. The recipe said to use a 10″ cake tin, but I used an 8″ one (square shaped and loose bottomed… what a rebel).
  • Lightly toast the 70g of whole hazelnuts in a frying pan (no oil needed) until you can smell them and set aside to cool. Grind them down until finely ground (I didn’t have a snazzy food processor so used ones of those things called a knife, and chopped them).
  • To make the cake, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove the chocolate from the heat and stir in the butter.
  • Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla together until the mixture is very creamy. I used a hand-held electric whisk.
  • In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until they are stiff (egg whites are the divas of the baking world and will need to be mixed in a glass or stainless steel bowl not a plastic one. Never a plastic one for egg whites). Again, the electric whisk was handy here.
  • Mix together the flour, salt, hazelnuts you have just roasted and the baking powder.
  • Fold the melted chocolate into the egg yolk mixture, then add the flour mixture and beaten egg whites, and carefully fold them in.
  • Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 30 to 40 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean). Remove the cake from the oven and leave it to cool in the tin.
  • For the ganache, put the cream into a saucepan and bring it to the boil. Boil it for one minute then remove it from the heat.
  • Add the chopped chocolate and stir until it has melted. Stir in the butter and cognac/brandy and leave it to cool and thicken. Whisk the ganache lightly.
  • Once the cake is cool take it out of the tin and spread the ganache all over the top and the sides. (I improvised with my own cake decorating turntable – although it didn’t turn – and kept the cake on the bottom of the cake tin, having removed the sides of the tin, and balanced it on a largeish plastic container so that it was raised, which made it easier to spread the ganache around it. You’ll need to taste the ganache throughout this process, just to make sure it’s okay of course.)
  • For the topping, put the sugar in a pan and melt it over a low heat, without stirring. Add the butter and stir until it is a light brown colour. Add the hazelnuts, stir briefly and scatter all over the top of the cake. Leave to cool completely.
  • EAT IT! With cream or ice-cream for extra yumminess.

(recipe courtesy of Cake Decorating, issue number 25)

Claire

 

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Raspberry Swiss Cakes

The name is a bit misleading as these are not actually cakes, but if you like buttery biscuits and you like jam then this is the post for you.

Raspberry jam Swiss cakes

I made these little treats for a charity cake sale at work and they hardly took any time at all. To cook and to eat.

The recipe came from Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book, but I adapted it from apricot Swiss Cakes to Raspberry Swiss Cakes Because that was the jam I had in the fridge. Although any kind of jam would be perfect for these so the choice is yours.

Ingredients

  • 8oz (225g) butter, room temperature
  • 3oz (175g) icing sugar, sifted, plus more for decoration
  • 7oz (200g) self-raising flour
  • 2oz (50g) cornflour
  • Raspberry jam or your jam of choice
  • Small paper cases (optional)

How to bake

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F/Gas 4 and place the paper cases onto a baking tray
  • Beat the butter in a large bowl to soften it a bit and then add the icing sugar and beat well until really soft and fluffy
  • Stir in the flours then mix until smooth
  • Spoon the mixture into a large piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe circles of the mixture into the base of each paper case. Alternatively if your piping skills are a bit lame (like mine) then spoon it into the cases (like I did)
  • Bake the cakes in the pre-heated oven for about 15-20 minutes or until pale golden brown
  • Leave to cool in the paper cases then put a small amount of jam on to the centre of each cake. Dust lightly with sifted icing sugar
  • Pile as many into your mouth as possible, but best not all at once

Claire

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What’s for dinner (at Glastonbury)?

I am a fan of street food and aware that some of the most amazing food experiences can be had from buying meals out of a van. However, I won’t lie to you. With this being my first overnight festival I had some concerns about doing exactly this over a five-day period. Dirty burgers and greasy chips three times a day was my initial thought (add ew or mmm depending on your outlook). But some festival going friends, who advised me that Glasto offered some of the best food around, immediately challenged my view. I was prepared for gloriousness. My expectations were high. I am pleased to say they were met. The food did not centre on dunking everything in grease and batter, as I first thought, and there were ample opportunities to squeeze in fruit and veg if so desired. Now don’t get me wrong. You’ll still be eating in a field, most likely on a wooden bench, standing (maybe simultaneously), or if lucky enough picnic style on the floor because it hasn’t rained.  And why not. Tables and chairs are so last season. But if you’re looking for Michelin starred service and bone china plates you’ll be disappointed. Unless you pack some of course.

One of the best bits about the Glasto food experience was that there was no cooking and most importantly no washing up for five whole days. All meals were conveniently located near to wherever we happened to be, or at the very least a short walk away. Having said that an immediate coffee in the morning at the tent would have been very welcome.

The variety of cuisine for meat eaters and vegetarians from across the world was vast, with an array of options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, tea, supper, pudding, dessert…however you want to label your meal there was an offering for it. So for me, bacon/egg rolls, berry fruit smoothies and tea with crumpets were my breakfasts of choice, but the option was there to have a burrito,  curry or meatballs if so desired. In fact we even threw caution to the wind on a couple of occasions and rounded off breakfast with breakfast pudding – pancakes with lemon and sugar. Well, we were on holiday after all.

Here are some pics of some of the food and drinks we enjoyed…

Pulled pork burrito with guacamole, sour cream and fresh tomato salsa

Pulled pork burrito

Potato with spicy chorizo and Raclette cheese (from Le Rac Shack @LeRacShack)

Potato with spicy chorizo and raclette cheese

Pimms

Pimms o clock

Lebanese mezze (Baba ghanoush, olives, flat bread, falafels, spicy beans and tabbouleh with lemon)

Lebanese Mezze

Salted caramel brownie with custard (From The Green Brownie @GreenBrownieBar)

Salted Caramel Brownie and custard from The Green Brownie

Freshly squeezed lemonade with mint

Freshly squeezed lemonade with mint

Fresh fruit cake with spirulina

Fresh fruit cake with spirulina

Butternut squash curry (From The Thali Cafe @thethalicafe)

Butternut squash curry from The Thali Cafe

Cakes and doughnuts

Cakes

Fresh fruit

Fresh fruit

Some of the other food we sampled included a steak and Brie baguette (From Halls Dorset Smokery @FestivalSmokery), treacle tart with custard, a refreshing drink made from bay leaves, and a grilled salmon and halloumi ciabatta with mango and coriander chutney and red onion marmalade (From Ken’s Barbie).

Fear not though. If you want to spend five days eating burgers and chips for all of your meals you can. That’s the beauty of it. Your Glasto food experience can be whatever you want it to be.

Claire

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A rather French supper…

If you have even eaten artichoke like this:

artichoke1

then I salute you. And you salute me… and I salute you… and so on. Until our arms ache. It’s the kind of thing you eat with a big smile on your face and say ‘mmm’ with every mouthful. And then giggle. This is the classic French way of cooking it. Just boiled in salted water and each leaf dipped into salty melted butter. Even better when eaten outside on a hot summer’s evening with a glass of rosé. If you have never tried this, well you must quite frankly. It’s tricky to eat if you don’t know how, such as which parts you can and can’t eat. You pull each leaf off, dip it into the butter and bite off the end where the plant looks dense. The heart is where the main plant ‘meat’ is. I suggest you youtube it to see how its eaten. It might seem like a hassle but once you know how, it’s actually super easy.

Simply boil the artichoke in salted water for about 45 minutes, or until the outer leaves pull off easily. Melt butter with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Get munching. There are plenty of recipes out there. Garlic in the butter would be amazing too.

Yummadummadingdong.

Sasa x

artichoke2

 

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Tiramisu (decaff!)

For the pregnant, breastfeeding, or those of you with a nervous disposition, I present a decaff Tiramisu. This was a request from my breastfeeding buddy. T’su is her fave, caffeine, however, is not. Easy you say. Just swop to decaff coffee. Well yes, it really is that easy. BUT, it’s hard to find decaff espresso. And even harder if you don’t have a cafetiere. Which I don’t. I found the decaff eventually in some obscure unknown shop called Tesco, ahem. I steeped the espresso in hot water and strained through a sieve lined with kitchen roll. But even though I had let it infuse for ages, the coffee flavour really wasn’t that strong. So in the end I just used instant. It tasted stronger and was less of a faff. I guess if I made t’su regularly I would consider investing in a cafetiere, but I don’t, and I rarely drink coffee. So there.

tiramisu

I took the recipe from Carluccio and adapted it a bit. I’ve made his before and he does it for individual portions. I do it in a massive dish so it requires more of the mascarpone mix than he suggests (which you can never have enough of quite frankly). He uses espresso, like I said I used instant. For 400ml of water I added about 2 heaped tablespoons of coffee. I guess you could add more to taste. I tasted it… it was bitter… like nothing I’ve ever tasted before… I will never attempt to taste such strong coffee again. I have to admit, there wasn’t a very strong coffee flavour in the end. I guess that’s why espresso is used. You win some etc etc.

My buddy was most pleased with her decaff t’su. Especially as I covered it in glitter (any opportunity to cover food in glitter and I do it). Whilst scoffing I heard lots of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ and ‘mmmm’s’. So I think I did my job well. In fact I know i did, for I was making those noises too.

Ingredients

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 100g caster sugar
  • Few drops of good vanilla essence
  • 500g mascarpone cheese
  • 100ml single cream
  • 400ml strong coffee
  • 4 tbsp Kahlua or Tia Maria
  • Savoyard biscuits (or ladies fingers) (orig recipe says to use 18, I used about 30!)
  • Some bitter cocoa powder, to dust

Method

  • In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks, 80g of the caster sugar and the vanilla essence together.
  • In a second larger bowl, mix the mascarpone with the cream to make it thinner. Mix the mascarpone with the egg. Should the mixture be too dense, add a few drops of milk.
  • Mix the coffee, chosen liqueur and remaining caster sugar together in a third bowl. Dip the biscuits briefly into the coffee, I used tongs (don’t let them absorb too much liquid), and use to line a dish. Mine was about 15 x 20cm. Put in a thin layer of the mascarpone mixture, then top with some more biscuits, finishing with a thick mascarpone layer on top.
  • Chill until ready to serve, preferably overnight. Dust with a little cocoa powder just before serving. Otherwise it goes all wet looking.

P.S. You will notice the photo is of an individual portion and I have been waffling on about using a large dish. Well as I was transporting the tiramisu some distance I constructed it in tupperware. Tupperware does not make for an attractive photo… So I made a small individual one to look pretty for the blog. And it also meant I could have a cheeky taste of it!

Sasa x