Chocolate and Raspberry Tart

 This tart has been staring at me since I got the Gü Chocolate Cookbook, the picture is stunning and constantly whispers ‘try me, make me, eat me!’ whenever I happen to glance at it.

So this time I gave in and tried it.  My mum had gone to Iran for a month and I was playing the role of housewife when we had guests – I made a three-course meal and chose the Chocolate and Raspberry Tart as dessert.Read More »

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Black and White Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

Birthdays, a time of year that I love… especially when it’s not mine. I think I may actually be the only person on Earth to prefer other people’s birthdays to my own, but that’s just how it is. There is one specific problem when it comes to my birthdays: I’m the baker, thus I make my own cakes – not the most enjoyable experience (especially when putting the candles on!).Read More »

Chocolate Victoria Sponge

Chocolate Victoria Sponge

It’s been a while since I’ve baked anything – the thought of having to turn the oven on and create a sauna out of my already ‘too-hot’ kitchen gives me the shivers. So when I was asked to bring something to a girly night in, I gritted my teeth and made the quickest, the simplest and the girliest cake possible: the good old chocolate Victoria sponge.Read More »

Marbled Chocolate Ring Cake

I saw the photo of this cake in Mary Berry’s Baking Bible and thought – ‘it looks fit, I must try it’. Yes people, I described a cake as fit. I’m sorry, it had to be done.

I needed a reason to try out this marbled chocolate cake and luckily, my neighbours were due to come round for dinner; technically not a dinner party, but excuse enough for dessert.Read More »

Chocolate Chip American Muffins

Since the success of my Lemon and Raspberry Tart, I’ve got a bit ambitious and decided to try another first – muffins!

OK, so I know it doesn’t sound quite as terrifying as it could be, what’s hard about muffins right? I don’t know what it is about them that have made me really nervous about baking them; but I figured I have to start making them at some point – why not start this weekend?!

 The recipe was pretty easy to follow if I’m honest.  I mixed together the flour, baking powder and rubbed the butter in to get to a ‘breadcrumb’ consistency.  Then I stirred in the sugar and chocolate chips. I was slightly worried at how little sugar I used until I started adding the chocolate chips ­– there were so many! Thankfully, there was enough left over for me to nibble on whilst I carried on with the rest of the recipe.

In another bowl I mixed the eggs, milk and vanilla essence before pouring it all in to the ‘dry’ ingredients. According to Mary Berry, this batter is meant to be a bit lumpy so I tried not to get too freaked out by the fact that I was putting lumpy batter into muffin cases – it felt so wrong! Oh well – into the oven they go.

 Chocolate Chip American Muffins

Now these muffins are titled ‘American’ so I figure they should come out pretty big – maybe not! When I think of muffins, I think of huge, delectable, muffin-top treats; these were more like extra-large cupcakes.  They also came out a mixture of colours – for some reason some were beautiful and golden-brown, whereas others were a little more … ahem… light-yellow? Ah well. If anyone complained, I’d blame it on my temperamental oven.

As I packed up the muffins to take to work the next day, I started to worry  about what people would think; I don’t normally do very well on my first attempt at baked goods (you should have seen my first ever cake!) and didn’t want my ‘baking-goddess’ reputation to diminish.  On the other hand, I wasn’t about to force my parents to eat their way through 12 muffins so off to work they went.

 Chocolate Chip American Muffins

Now I usually prefer muffins to cupcakes, mainly because one is enough to satiate my sweet tooth; but I just wasn’t feeling these muffins.  Simply put, I think they weren’t sweet enough for me. This is not to detract from the recipe, however, they tasted great with my morning brew, and everyone else seemed to love them.  They were especially pleased with the muffin to chocolate chip ratio.

 As my first muffin attempt – I’d say I was quite happy with them (the perfectionist inside me is not easily pleased!). However, I have decided to reserve judgment until I have attempted a few more recipes. There’s a chance for these American Chocolate Chip muffins yet!

Chocolate Truffles

I have recently been given the Gü Chocolate Cookbook and needed an excuse to make something out of it. Luckily, a week later, we had a dinner party at home and – as always – I was expected to come up with dessert.  This time I wanted to add something a little extra to the table and decided to make these chocolate truffles.

 I’ve been told they’re pretty simple to make but didn’t believe it until I had a go at them myself.  All you really need is a bit of patience and a hell of a lot of chocolate!

Chocolate Truffles

 Making the inside part of the truffle consists of bring double cream to boil and pouring it over broken pieces of chocolate. Once it’s all melted you stir in the softened butter until it’s lovely and smooth.  Then you cover and chill it for a few hours – or in my case, overnight.

In the morning, I scooped out small spoonfuls of the truffle mix, placed them on baking parchment and put them back in the fridge for 15 minutes.  Then I took them out again and rolled them into balls before they went back in the fridge for another 15 minutes.

Then comes the fun part.  To coat the chocolates you melt any type of chocolate you want (I used dark and white chocolate), and then dunk the truffle balls in and place it on baking parchment to dry.  The chocolate dries quickly so if you want to add something on top you have to do it as soon as you’ve placed it on the baking tray.  I used desiccated coconut on some of the dark truffles, and shaved dark chocolate on the white truffles.

Chocolate Truffles

That is, literally, all there is to it.  They are so easy to make but look beautiful on the coffee table; they also taste amazing! These Chocolate Truffles will definitely be made again!

Chocolate Truffles

Iced Chocolate Traybake

This was the last ‘advent present’ I had to make for my team advent calendar and this recipient was the easiest to bake for, as he beats me on the sweet-tooth front. I figured, what could be sweeter than an Iced Chocolate Traybake???

I set about getting all the ingredients together and was pretty surprised when I realised that I needed apricot jam for the cake. Would apricot jam really go with chocolate cake and chocolate icing? Well I guess I was about to find out.

I mixed the cocoa powder and water to make a thick paste and put it aside to cool for a while before dumping all the ingredients in a bowl and whisking them together.  Yes people – it is, literally, that easy!

I poured all the ingredients into my baking tray and put it in the oven for around 40minutes.  Once out, I left it to cool and made myself a cup of tea before starting on the icing.

 Iced Chocolate Traybake

The icing was made up of chocolate melted with 6 tablespoons of water, which is then beaten in with the icing sugar (yum!).  Once this was ready I spread the apricot jam over the cake and then the icing over this.  I actually found it quite difficult to spread the icing evenly; the apricot jam made the icing difficult to work with.

Recipe 64 - 3

I finally got a (almost) smooth look before I gave up. All that was left to do was to cut the traybake into squares, eat any stray crumbs, and pick the nicest-looking squares to go into the ‘advent present’; the rest of it got boxed up and carted off to family, friends and my tummy!

 Iced Chocolate Traybake

I absolutely loved this cake, as did the ‘advent present recipient’ and anyone else who managed to grab a slice from the kitchen before it disappeared.  It is very sweet and might not be to everyone’s taste but personally, I found it scrumptious! I’m not the biggest chocolate cake fan but I absolutely loved this, the apricot jam went really well and the chocolate was not overpowering at all.

A Not-So-Pretty-But-Very-Tasty Chocolate Cheesecake

I’m not the biggest fan of chocolate-based desserts, as I find them too rich and quite sickening.  That’s not to say I don’t eat chocolate, or wouldn’t try something new and chocolate related – I just tend to prefer the fruity version.

However, The Hummingbird Bakery claims that: ‘there must be a chocolate version of everything’ and apparently everyone – present company excluded – agrees.

I offered a colleague a baked ‘thank-you’ treat for helping me out with a project and you can imagine my surprise (or lack thereof) when he requested a chocolate cheesecake. * Sigh * – well – if you can’t beat them … use the Hummingbird Bakery recipe to join them.

Every aspect of this cheesecake has some sort of chocolate in it; so if you’re like me and are still on the same bar of chocolate that you started 6 months ago you might want to pop to the shops and buy some more.

The base was a simple job of crushing up lots of biscuits, adding in some cocoa powder and mixing it all together with melted butter.  I squished this into my base-lined and pre-greased cake tin and popped it into the fridge to cool while I started on the cheesy bit.

The cheesy part of the recipe used pretty much the same method as the New York Cheesecake but with melted chocolate added into the mix.  To melt the chocolate, you must heat it over a saucepan of simmering water. Naturally, I couldn’t find any ‘heatproof’ bowls so had to make do with a plastic one that I held on top of the pan whilst making sure the bottom didn’t touch the metal as it had a tendency to melt on contact – great.

When combining the cheese to the chocolate, it’s best to stir the cream cheese mixture into the melted chocolate a little at a time.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is to ensure that the temperatures even out nicely.  Thankfully, I managed not to mess this bit up. The chocolate-cheese mix was then spooned onto the biscuit base and put in the oven with a water bath for 40-50 minutes.

BAKING TIP:

DON’T trust your gut instinct – take the cheesecake out EVEN if you think it’s not quite done.

Why? The cake will continue cooking once it’s out the oven; so taking it out when it’s ‘almost’ cooked will ensure it’s perfect by the time it’s cooled.  If you’re like me and you panic and keep it in the oven for longer it will crack – like this cheesecake did!

The first thing I thought was ‘how am I going to make this look good enough to take to work?!’ The answer was nothing. Ah well – home-baked cakes can’t always look stunningly beautiful. I gave up and left the cheesecake to cool on the counter while I got on with other stuff (i.e. I had a nap).

My brother sauntered into the kitchen while I was upstairs and helped himself to about a quarter of the cheesecake! What, you may ask, was his reason for eating something that was clearly labelled ‘DO NOT EAT – TAKING TO WORK’ ? Well, as the older brother, apparently he trumps colleagues on baked goods.

However, he somehow managed to cut out the majority of the crack! His chocolate craving ended up being a blessing in disguise – I could admit to him eating it and no one would know that there had been cracks in it. Genius!

The chocolate cheesecake didn’t last very long once it was put out in the department kitchen the next day; apparently the Humingbird Bakery’s statement is pretty spot on.  Everyone really enjoyed it – and although it was the teeniest bit too rich for me – I would actually consider making it again.

A Coffee Break in a Cake

I’m not the biggest fan of coffee, it’s too bitter a drink for my taste.  But everyone needs a coffee break, and there’s nothing like a piece of chocolate to offset the bitter taste of the coffee (any excuse for chocolate!) So I was intrigued as to how the Coffee and Chocolate Loaf would go down, so I baked it for the dessert for a dinner party we were having.

I started by whisking the butter and sugar together and adding the eggs one at a time.  Simple so far. Then I sifted the dry ingredients together and mixed the milk with the coffee… coffee? I forgot to brew the coffee! Aarrgghhh! In typical Diary of a Bake-a-holic style, I made what I thought would be strong coffee, and put it in the freezer for 5 minutes to cool.

Once I deemed it cool enough to put into the mix, I started mixing everything together: adding a little of the dry ingredients, then a little of the coffee milk at a time.

The batter was finally ready to be poured into the pre-greased and pre-dusted tin and put into the oven for an hour.  I breathed a sigh of relief and sat down with some tea.

 

The cake came out of the oven looking like a big slab of dark chocolate… yum.  Although it did look tasty as hell, I was worried the dark colour meant it would also be bitter.  Ah well, there was nothing I could do now.

The dessert was sliced and passed round with the tea after dinner.  I felt a bit odd eating a coffee cake with tea – it just seems so wrong – so I had mine with milk.  Everyone enjoyed the cake but I think were worried about their figures – I wonder what it is about a chocolate cake that makes it seem fattier than a normal one?!

I thought the loaf was actually really, really nice, definitely not bitter. It went beautifully with my glass of milk and had a really lovely, rich taste – not too much chocolate, or too much coffee – but a nice mixture of both.  Definitely a new favourite!