Posts Tagged ‘chocolate cake’

Two Simple Chocolate Traybakes Made For Village Royal Wedding Tea Party

Saturday, April 30th, 2011
Raise A Glass For The Royal Toast

Raise A Glass For The Royal Toast

Like much of the country, and the world, we spent yesterday using the excuse of the Royal Wedding for a village party on the green and a day off the daily grind.  The weather behaved, raining during the wedding ceremony forcing my son and I from the garden to watch the pageantry, look at the dresses and see the kiss, then glorious sunshine for games and tea on the green in the afternoon.  Much fun was had by all ages and the familiar discourse of conservative, village life in rural North Yorkshire was reaffirmed, so that we can now spend the intervening time diluting this partiotism down again with more liberal & progressive ideas until our next celebration of Englishness or Britishness or Northerness comes along sometime in the very near future.

But the question was what to make for the tea party.  Everyone else had been making masses of sandwiches, sausage rolls and cupcakes; in fact, the tea tables groaned with far too much food.  We were told not to make a cucumber or egg mayo sandwich, which was fine by me, and asked to make some biscuits or such like.  As it was for the Royal Wedding, I recalled that Prince William had requested a tray bake for his stag party, being one of his favourites, so there was the hook - a simple chocolate traybake.

Sack Race On Green

Sack Race On Green

Chase The Yellow Chicken

Chase The Yellow Chicken

I trawled the web for ideas to find whether anyone had leaked the secret recipe but no such luck, but I found a few thoughts and from those have created my own ersatz Royal biscuity, chocolatey “no cook” tray bakes.  They were very good and went down a treat.

Rich Tea Tray Bake

Rich Tea Tray Bake

Crunchie Chocolate Traybake

60g / 2 oz plain chocolate
60g / 2 oz milk chocolate
100g / 3½ oz / 1 stick unsalted butter
2tbsp golden syrup
200g / 7oz digestive biscuits
100g / 3½ oz sultanas
100g / 3½ oz Crunchie bars (honeycomb, cinder or sponge toffee)

Topping

100g / 3½ oz dark chocolate
100g / 3½ oz Crunchie bars (honeycomb, cinder or sponge toffee)

1.  Lightly grease a 17cm x 26cm (7 inch x 10 inch) baking tray and line the base with baking paper.  Set aside.

2.  Firstly, crush the digestive biscuits and cinder toffee.  Put the digestives into a clear freezer bag and tie the end without much air in it.  Then with the end of a rolling pin smash the digestives into small pieces.  Do the same for the cinder toffee, but I like these in larger chunks for the texture; you can either do these in two batches or as one and then halve the amount – your proportions do not need to be precise, so don’t get hung up on the details.  Mix the Crunchie bar with the sultanas.

Crunched Up Cinder Toffee And Sultanas

Crunched Up Cinder Toffee And Sultanas

3.  Secondly, place the plain and dark chocolate for the base in a heatproof or metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.  Add the golden syrup and butter.  Melt these all together, stirring occassionally with a metal spoon.

Chocolate, butter and golden syrup

Chocolate, butter and golden syrup

4.  When melted, add the digestive biscuits, sultanas and honeycomb and mix all thoroughly together.  Make sure that everything has been coated with the chocolate mix.

5.  Spoon the mixture into the tray and put into fridge to set  while you prepare the topping.

6.  For the topping, melt the dark chocolate, then mix in the remaining crushed up Crunchie bars.  Take the tray out of the fridge and cover the base evenly with the chocolate topping.

7.  Leave in the fridge for about 1 hour to fully set, then turn out onto a chopping board.  With a sharp knife, cut into small rectangles of about  1½ cm x 2cm (½ inch x 1 inch).

Crunchie Chocolate Traybake

Crunchie Chocolate Traybake

Rich Tea Chocolate Traybake

225g / 8 oz rich tea biscuits
50g / 1¾ oz / 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
125g / 4½ oz golden caster sugar
1 free range egg, lightly beaten
100g / 3½ oz dark chocolate

Topping

125g / 4½ oz dark chocolate
75g / 4½ oz milk chocolate
50g / 1¾ oz white chocolate

1.  Lightly grease a small round cake tin (15cm, 6 inch in diameter), with a removable base.  Place a circle of baking parchment in the base.  Set aside.

2.  Crunch up the rich tea biscuits into small pieces, leaving some that are larger at about 1cm / ½ inch.  Cream the butter and caster sugar together, then add the egg and whisk again.

Crushed Rich Tea Biscuits

Crushed Rich Tea Biscuits

3.  Break the dark chocolate into pieces and place in a heatproof bowl and melt over simmering water.  When melted, add the sugar-butter-egg mix to the chocolate and stir in until melted and thickened to a light custard texture, which will take a couple of minutes.

4.  Stir up the broken biscuit pieces until throughly coated.  Transfer the chocolatey biscuit mix into the cake tin, making sure that the pieces are squashed right into all the gaps to make a firm, continuous base.  Put into the fridge for about 1 hour until thoroughly set.

Take The Crunchy Chocolate Base From The Fridge

Take The Crunchy Chocolate Base From The Fridge

5.  Remove the base from the fridge and leave at room temperature while you do prepare the dark chocolate.  Break the dark chocolate into pieces and place in a heatproof bowl and melt over simmering water.  While it is melting, gently slide the prepared biscuit base out of the cake tin.  Spread the melted chocolate over the base. smoothing until nice and even.  Put into the fridge for about ½ an hour.

6.  For the final flourish, melt the white chocolate and then drizzle over the top of the dark chocolate.  Place it all back into the fridge again for 2 hours to set fully. With a sharp knife, cut into small shapes of about  1½ cm x 2cm (½ inch x 1 inch); I know that it it is a circle so it doesn’t quite work but that gives the cook loads of scraps to test for deliciousness.

Drizzle White Chocolate Over Base

Drizzle White Chocolate Over Base

Cut The Cake Into Small Pieces

Cut The Cake Into Small Pieces

Review Of Food Blogs For October 2010

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

I cannot really believe that it is already November, the clocks have fallen back and I am preparing for Christmas, with the Christmas cake baked and Christmas pudding slated for this weekend.  So on a cold, windy, dark November morning, I looked back with joy at the tail end of autumnal style cooking and my favourite bloggers’ articles on the web.

At A Slice Of Cherry Pie, Julia Parsons has been cooking in Turin at the Slow Food Show, making sausages and a British pasta dish; all good reading and sounds like an amazing event.  And in a Halloween vein, there are recipes for Halloween biscuits and Roasted Winter Squash With Nutmeg.

At Cannelle et Vanille, where as always the photography is awesome, Aran Goyoaga has made some delicious Pumpkin, Quinoa And Hazelnut Gnocchi which sound amazing; I have never really liked gnocchi and I get tired of pumpkin soup at this time of year, so this seems to sort out two problems at once.  While earlier, the smells of the mouth-watering Pear, Hazelnut and Brown Butter Cakes just leap out of the screen and they look so dainty and perfect in the photography, shaped as they are in mini bundt circles.  I have also worked out why her blog looks so perfect, she is a food stylist and photographer, so I do not need to feel too down on my own inabilities in my blog, where everything seems made at home, so rough and ready, which actually is how it is.

Some time back, I experimented with recipes for the ideal Almond Cake and came up with something that seemed to pass muster, however Clotilde Dusoulier at Chocolate & Zucchini has come up with a great alternative, Quince Almond Cake, which I reckon you could also do with pears if you cannot find any quinces.  Clotilde has also posted an intriguing Savory Sesame Cookies recipe that has been adapted from a recipe by Clea at Clea Cuisine.

At Chubby Hubby, they have created a fusion slow-cooked Pot Au Feu that mixes French cuisine with Vietnamese pho.  It sounds like an ideal winter warmer as the nights draw in.

CookSister has been very active with lots of photography, restaurant reviews and some inspiring recipes.  I like the Individual Beef & Guinness Pies, where I might substitute a local stout or dark beer from a microbrewery around us like Monkey Wrench Ale from Daleside Brewery or Riggwelter from Black Sheep Brewery.  These would be accompanied nicely by the Runner Bean And Feta Gratin and with Creme Brulee for pudding.

David Lebovitz has been enjoying visiting markets again with the Arabian exoticism of the Sharjah Market in the United Arab Emirates.  But life will never be the same after the recipe for Chocolate Mousse cake which is a must for any cake-a-holic and chocoholic and has already entered our repertoire.  I love his post about Oatmeal Raisin Cookies as they sound lovely, as well as the truth behind David’s life about being a chef and that it is grunt work; I think TV has a lot to answer for as it makes everyone feel they can be the next superstar singer earning gazillions or Gordon Ramsay or Prime Minister, which is plain folly as most of us are really just going to have to work hard to scrape a living, pay our taxes and get by – that’s the plain and simple truth.  My father talks about “winers, diners and grinders” in the business world, where most are permanently left in the grinders (or grunts) camp, so for example a policeman friend of ours says that they are really just well paid muscle willing to do the stuff that no-one else will do.  But the piece de resistance for me is the Swiss Chard Tart where David has topped the normal pastry filled with chard with apples on the top layer and then enclosed this in even more pastry; this sounds a delicious combination with all those heady baking spices and different textures from raisins and pine nuts.

Helen at Fuss Free Flavours has been busy making Double Chocolate Madeleines which I need to make alongside the David Lebovitz’s Chocolate Mousse Cake mentioned earlier, and I like the idea of Healthier Chocolate Crispies, which I do not feel will catch on for kid’s parties but sounds a perfect excuse for adults to indulge in children’s foods – why should they have all the fun?  Chocolate seems to be the theme and Spiced Chocolate Stout Beef Casserole sounds amazing even after Chocolate Week, finishing off with the very adult Chocolate Stout Brownies to help the waistline.

Recipe For Luxury Chocolate Gateaux Or Pavé

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

This is another recipe that I have followed from Pierre Hermé’s inspirational cookbook “Chocolate“, which I have reinterpreted for a British audience.  The only tweak I have made to it was in the use of edible gold as a garnish on top of the chocolate ganache.

While a long drawn out process to make, this is a real cake that you might expect from a top restaurant or bakery in Paris, so make it for an indulgent occasion rather than expecting to rush this one out day-in-day-out.  It is a truly rich and luxurious cake that should be savoured with a calm cup of tea or a rich coffee; it’s not finger food mind you, but needs a cake fork or a spoon to savour the flavour.

Stage 1 – baking the cocoa cake

40g 1(½ oz /1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp) organic cocoa powder
35g (1¼ oz / ¼ cup) organic plain flour
3½ tbsp organic potato starch
75g (5½ tbsp / 2¾ oz) unsalted butter
9 large egg yolks, at room temperature
150g  (5¼oz / 1¼ cups) organic Fairtrade caster sugar
5 large egg whites, at room temperature

1.  Preheat the oven to 180oC (350oF).  Butter two 18 x 9 cm (7½ inch x 3½ inch) loaf tins and line with baking paper.

2.  Sieve together the organic cocoa powder, plain flour and potato starch into a mixing bowl and set aside.  Melt the butter and set aside to cool until it is barely warm to the touch.

Sieving Together Cocoa, Flour And Potato Starch

Sieving Together Cocoa, Flour And Potato Starch

3.  Using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or in a food processor, beat the egg yolks plus 75g (2½ oz) of the caster sugar on a medium speed.  Scrape down the sides as you go along, and the mix should be thick and pale after about 5 minutes.  Scrape the thickened egg yolks into a large bowl, wash and dry the mixer.

Mixing The Egg Yolks And Sugar

Mixing The Egg Yolks And Sugar

4.  In a new or cleaned bowl, whisk and whip the egg whites at a medium speed until they form soft peaks.  Gradually add the remaining sugar and beat until the peaks are firm and shiny.

Whipping Up The Egg Whites

Whipping Up The Egg Whites

5.  Working with a large rubber spatula and a light hand, fold the sieved dry ingredients and a quarter of the beaten egg whites into the yolk mixture.  Stir a few tablespoons of this mixture into the cooled and melted butter, stirring to incorporate as much as possible, then add the butter and the remaining whites to the yolk mix. Working quickly and yet gently, fold everything together.

Mixing In The Whipped Egg Whites

Mixing In The Whipped Egg Whites

6.  Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tins, then bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  They are done when a slender knife or skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

7.  Leave the cakes to cool in the loaf tins for about 3 minutes, then gently remove them from the tins, remove the parchment paper and leave to cool on a cooling rack.

Two Chocolate Cakes

Two Chocolate Cakes

8.  You can wrap these in airtight plastic and store frozen for up to a month.  This is what I did, making the cakes during the week and finishing them off at the weekend.

Stage 2 – creating the elements for the gateaux or pavé

The soaking syrup:
40g (¼ cup) organic granulated sugar
10g (2tsp) salted butter
100g (6tbsp) warm water

Put the sugar in a saucepan and over a medium heat, melt the sugar.  When it starts to melt, stir it with a wooden spoon.  Keep heating and stirring the sugar until it turns a rich brown.  Then standing away from the pan, drop the butter into the pan, then as it melts, stir it into the caramelised sugar.  Stand back again and add the water.  When the mixture comes to the boil, pull the pan from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Caramel Syrup

Caramel Syrup

The apricots:
170g (6oz) organic unsulphured apricots
250g (1 cup) water
Juice of ½ lemon
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Put the apricots and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 4 minutes.  Drain and let apricots cool.  When cooled down, chop the plumped up apricots into a small dice.  Toss the apricots with the lemon juice and black pepper and set aside until needed.

The Apricots

The Apricots

The ganache:
185g (6½ oz) dark or bittersweet chocolate, chopped or broken into pieces
120g (4½ oz) milk chocolate, chopped or broken into pieces
140g (2/3 cup) caster sugar
20g (¾oz) salted butter
275 grams (1 cup plus 2 tbsp) double cream (or heavy cream in USA)
335g (12oz) unsalted butter

1.  Mix the two types of chocolate together in a heatproof bowl.

2.  Put a heavy bottomed saucepan over a medium heat and sprinkle a third of the sugar over the bottom of the pan.  As soon as the sugar starts to melt, stir it with a wooden spoon until it melts and caramelises.  Sprinkle over half the remaining sugar and, as soon as it starts to melt, stir it into the caramelised sugar in the pan.  Repeat with the last bit of sugar and cook until it all has a nice deep brown colour.  Stand away from the pan and, still stirring, add salted butter and then, when the butter is incorporated, add the cream.  The caramel might seize up but do not worry as the stirring and heating will even it out.  Bring the cream to the boil, then remove the pan from the heat straight away.

3.  Pour half of the hot caramel over the chopped chocolate and using a rubber spatula, stir gently to melt the chocolate through.  When the chocolate is melted, add the remaining caramel and stir through.  Set the ganache aside to cool for about 10 minutes.

4.  While the ganache is cooling, beat the unsalted butter until it has the soft consitency of mayonnaise, using a spatula or mixer.  Then with a rubber spatula or whisk, gently stir the butter into the cooled ganache.  You will need to cool it down further so put it into the fridge, checking it regularly, until it reaches a soft butter consitency.

Stage 3 – building the pavé

1.  Get one of the cakes made in the first stage.  Working with a sharp serrated knife, cut each cake loaf into three even layers, removing any doming on the top and slice any uneven bits of the edges. Place the bottom layer onto a cake plate.

2.  Using a pastry brush, moisten the bottom layer with the caramel syrup (remember that the syrup needs to be used for each layer so do not overdo it at this stage).  Spread a thin layer of ganache over the top, then dot some of the apricots over the ganche and press them in (once again remember these will be used in each layer).  Place another cake layer on top of this and press down firmly.  Repeat the assembling of the filling and place the final layer on top of that.  Moisten the top layer with caramel syrup.  Check the shape of the cake and move it around to straighten if necessary.  Spread a thin layer of ganache over the top and sides of the cake and put into the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Building The Layers Of The Pavé

Building The Layers Of The Pavé

3.  Remove the cake from the fridge and spread another thin layer of ganache all over the cake.  Try and get the top as smooth as possible, then you could use a fork to striate the sides.

4.  Sprinkle some edible gold over the top of the cake.

Chocolate Pavé

Chocolate Pavé

5.  Repeat the process for the other cake or do it at the same time.  We actually wrapped the second cake tightly in film, froze it, then ate it a couple of weeks later and it was still delicious.