Chocolate Yule Log

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It’s the day before Christmas Eve. By now you’ve probably eaten your fair share of mince pies and are sick of the sight of Celebrations, Roses and Quality Streets that have been making the office rounds. Luckily for those who aren’t feeling the festive fruitiness and never tire of chocolatey goodness there’s always a trusty Yule log to turn to. Far easier than the length of the recipe would have it appear this is an easy one to whip up if you’ve got fussier mouths to feed. The lack of alcohol makes it more child palate-friendly than boozy Christmas puds slathered in brandy cream so it’s a great alternative on the big day.

Personally, I’ll be sampling everything, and by sampling I mean wolfing down multiple servings with eyes far bigger than my stomach.

Eat, drink and be merry – but get dessert rolling first.

For the sponge:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 65g self-raising flour

Ganache & filling

  • 2 x 300ml cartons double cream
  • 300g dark chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 200C, grease and line a 23x33cm Swiss roll tin (or a shallow baking tray of similar size)

Crack the eggs into a large bowl, pour in the caster sugar then whisk until very pale, frothy and about doubled in volume.

Weigh out the flour and cocoa powder, sieve into a bowl and toss together before sieving into the egg and sugar mixture.

Use a spatula to gently incorporate the flour and cocoa by cutting and folding – try to knock out as little air as possible in order to keep the sponge light.

Once all the flour and cocoa have been evenly combined pour the wet mix into the prepared tin, spreading evenly into the corners.

Bake for 8 – 10 minutes until the sponge has risen. The edges will begin to pull away from the sides and it should feel firm to touch.

Lay a sheet of baking paper, larger than the tin, out on the table and dust it with icing sugar. Carefully remove the sponge from the tin and place it face down on to the sheet of dusted baking paper.

Peel the other sheet away from the back of the Sponge. With a sharp knife score a line down the longer side of the sponge, approximately 2.5cm away from the edge.

Fold in the scored edge (with the baking paper) and roll the sponge up tightly. Leave to cool in this position.

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In the mean time crack on with the ganache. Finely chop the chocolate, heat 300ml of cream until piping hot – don’t let it boil, then pour over the chocolate and mix until smooth and glossy.

Allow the ganache to cool to room temperature. If you’re going to spread it onto the sponge I don’t recommend putting it in the fridge as it will set very firmly making it really difficult to spread nicely. If however you are piping the ganache on to the log then it needs to be quite firm – I think spreading and then teasing with a fork looks far more log like though!

Whip up the second carton of cream and you’re nearly ready to un-roll (ha) the cooled sponge and spread the whipped cream evenly across it, leave a little gap near the edges. 2014-12-13 17.50.18 2014-12-13 17.52.45

Without the baking paper this time, roll the sponge in on itself – this should happen quite easily as it will have retained its shape whilst cooling.

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Pipe or spread the ganache evenly over the sponge. If you’re spreading the ganache use a fork to draw lines through it for a bark-like effect. Dust with icing sugar just before serving – otherwise it just melts and goes gooey as we discovered!

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Et voila! Your very own Bûche de Noël – time to settle down and enjoy a slice.

Merry Christmas!!

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Chocolate Nutella Cake

Nutella is a lot like peanut butter. It’s either a staple or it’s not. For me, it never has been, growing up or even now I’m old enough to shop for myself. This is probably because, despite finding it a bit sickly, I can still put away a substantial few spoonfuls before that queasy feeling kicks in. It might be touted as a healthy breakfast spread (seriously questionable…) but I’d rather stick to good old PB. 2014-12-01 20.00.46

My Italian housemates on the other hand are mad on the nutty stuff. They go through at least a three jars of it per week. So, with an impending Italian birthday on the horizon I figured Nutella would be the ideal twist to a bog standard birthday cake.

A whole jar of Nutella went in to the making of this. Safe to say a slice is not a healthy breakfast option but it is a delicious dessert and if you’re no Nutella fan then this cake recipe is just as good without.

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Cake:

*adapted from delicious magazine

  • 250g butter
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 3 – 4 tbsp. nutella
  • 1 tbsp. espresso powder
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125g brown sugar
  • 150ml sour cream
  • 100ml milk
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla essence

Preheat the oven to 160C and prepare a 23cm cake tin (grease and line)

Start by melting the butter, chocolate, Nutella and espresso powder in a bowl over a pan of nearly simmering water.

Stir gently until melted.

Set aside, weigh out the flour and cocoa powder and sieve into a large bowl, followed by the sugars.

Fold in the chocolatey mixture, then the eggs, milk, sour cream and vanilla and combine. If things look a little bit lumpy give them a whisk, but not too much.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hr – 1 hr 15, the cake is ready when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean with a couple of moist crumbs.

Allow to cool in the tin completely before starting on the ganache. I left mine overnight.

 Ganache:

  • ½ jar nutella
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 284 ml double cream

*optional : 6 Ferrero Rocher to decorate

Melt the cream and Nutella over a medium heat until piping hot but don’t let it boil.

Pour over the finely chopped chocolate and stir until glossy, if it doesn’t taste nutella-y enough then add extra to your taste. I find copious amounts of nutella far too sweet so wanted the dark chocolate to offset that. Alternatively you could use a combination of milk and dark.

Leave to cool – it seems like a really wet ganache but leave it alone a little while before pouring it onto the cake, once you’ve stopped it flooding everywhere it sets into a lovely fudgy topping.

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Biscuit Butter Cookies

So I recently bought this:

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And it was a terrible mistake. My greedy little paws could not keep themselves out of the jar and I decided something had to be done. Cookies to be exact.

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I’ve seen a couple of recipes floating around the internet but there was nothing that really appealed to me, so I took a combination of failsafe chocolate chip cookie recipes and had a play with the ingredients.

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Judging by the rate at which these disappeared I would venture to say it was a pretty successful experiment.

  • 170g cookie butter (Lotus Biscoff spread)
  • 150g butter
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 yolk
  • 275g
  • 200g chocolate chips & chunks
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Cream the butter and cookie butter

Add the sugars and beat until pale and fluffy

Crack in the egg, and egg yolk and mix again until very pale

Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined

Fold in the chocolate chips and chunks – save a few to stick on the top of the cookies just prior to baking, aesthetics and all that.

Chill overnight or for a couple of hours at least.

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When ready to bake preheat the oven to 180 and shape the cookie dough into balls, I weighed them out to be approximately 30g each and got 27.

If I hadn’t eaten so much of the dough along the way it’d probably be more like 30 cookies. If you decide to make them bigger or smaller you’ll have to adjust the cooking time, do it in batches and see what works best.

Even once chilled your dough will be quite soft, softer than normal chocolate chip cookies because of the cookie butter – when cooked it gives them a really melt in your mouth texture.

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Bake for 8 minutes, they will look underbaked but that is fine it’s what makes them more chewy and less cakey. Just make sure you let them cool completely or they will fall apart in a gooey chocolate cookie butter mess in your hands before ever reaching your mouth.

Pumpkin Puree (and so much more…)

This isn’t a recipe as such but there are hundreds that could come of it.2014-10-28 21.49.50

I despise food waste. It’s an opinion I’m very vocal about and not afraid to share. According to the Independent we throw away 1,500 double decker buses worth of pumpkin every year. That’s a hefty amount of pumpkin and a prime example of food wastage at its worst. You go through all that hard work to carve out a Jack O’Lantern and then what – bin the good stuff?! Nope. I implore you, don’t do it. Your pumpkin’s potential is immense. Soups, curries, even pumpkin butter – the possibilities are endless! For an extensive list of recipes check out this Buzzfeed community post by yours truly, but just to get the ball rolling here’s an easy peasy way to make sure your pumpkin doesn’t go to waste this Halloween.

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Pumpkin puree:

  1. First separate the seeds from the flesh – you can eat them too, great to garnish soups, throw into granola, salads or just as a snack.
  2. Either boil the pumpkin flesh in a pot of water until tender, or roast for 40 – 50 minutes until soft. I recommend roasting because it dries out the flesh a bit, either way you should still drain the pumpkin once it’s cooked by placing it in a sieve over a bowl to get rid of excess moisture.
  3. Roast the seeds for 10 – 15 minutes, or until lightly browned – keep an eye on them and you should be fine.

Now you’ve got pumpkin puree to work with the kitchen is your oyster. Store in the fridge for a couple of days until you’re ready to use it, or freeze for later.

Alternatively if you’re more feeling more wine and dine than trick or treat, this excellent peanut and pumpkin curry by delicious. magazine is a failsafe crowd pleaser. The picture below is my attempt and it was as delicious as the magazine’s title suggests – I recommend an extra tablespoon of peanut butter and a little green chilli to really give it a creamy kick.

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Click here for the recipe.

Have a happy, food filled, Halloween!

Brownies au Naturel

If you’re looking for a sweet fudge brownie, this probably isn’t for you. IF, however, you are a lover of dark chocolate and rich intense flavours this definitely is. 2014-09-22 19.05.01

I’ve tried my hand at various brownies and have dabbled in the healthy variety once or twice. I follow lots of healthy foodie types and I’ve often seen avocado substituted for butter in recipes. I could see how it might work and they have a fairly mellow flavour I assumed chocolate would easily overpower, but I’d never tried baking with them. 2014-09-22 15.52.50

Why stop at avocado? I decided to take the trial to a whole new level, using only natural ingredients and no refined sugar.

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I was initially sceptical but I love all of the ingredients in these dark delights and you can never really have too much of a good thing(s) can you? See for yourselves – don’t knock ’em til you try ’em!

  • 115g avocado
  • 150g date paste
  • 50g honey
  • 220g dark chocolate
  • 2 eggs
  • 80 black beans
  • 10g cocoa powder

Melt the chocolate and allow to cool slightly

Blend the avocado and date paste, add the chocolate and whisk to combine

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This didn’t look too appealing to start but as I blended the avocado, dates and chocolate I was pleasantly surprised at the thick glossy mousse forming before my eyes. Looks were not deceiving, I discovered, spooning a generous mouthful into my greedy gob. The avocado made the batter more luxuriously creamy than anything I’ve ever done with butter.

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Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition

Blend the black beans and cocoa powder – This is the only stage where I ran into a little bit of trouble, as the paste is really thick. To solve the problem I added some of the avocado chocolate mix, in order to smooth things up a little bit, and then folded it back in once it was at the desired consistency

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Fold the blended black beans into the remaining avocado mix and then transfer to a prepared baking tray

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Bake for 30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean. As with most brownies they’ll probably be slightly underdone and really soft so let them chill overnight before slicing and serving.

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Bake for 30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean.

 

Lemon & Raspberry Cheesecake

A rich melt in your mouth chocolate cheesecake doesn’t float my boat. Perhaps it’s the lacklustre chocolate lover in me but I much prefer a fruity dessert. Caramel could sway me at a push but fruit is my favourite. Chocolate and cheese are both such rich foods I think the addition of some kind of fruit strikes the right balance in a cheesecake. This lemon & raspberry one is the same mix as my plain Lemon Cheesecake but with a lemon curd and raspberry puree swirled through.

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The cake went down a treat among the office cheesecake fans. Even my most critical colleague sung its praises, though he did find the lemon slightly overpowering – there’s just no pleasing some people. I did add extra lemon juice as I really enjoy how it cuts through the creamy cheesecake but if you’d rather it less lemony use just the juice of one or two lemons in the cheesecake mix rather than three.

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@ytabloid on twitter

Raspberry puree:

  • 200g raspberries
  • 50ml water
  • 50g sugar (more or less to taste)

Boil the fruit, water and sugar, until the mixture starts to thicken.

Strain to remove the seeds

*I was slightly lazy and only strained about half of the mixture but no one complained about crunchy bits.

Lemon Curd:

  • 3 eggs + 1 yolk
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 125g sugar
  • Zest and juice 3 lemons

Melt the butter over a pan of simmering water along with the lemon juice, zest and sugar.

Remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk the eggs and strain them through a sieve into the melted butter mixture and place back on the heat.

Stir continually until the mixture begins to thicken – it’s ready when the mixture becomes opaque and if you draw your finger across the spoon it leaves a trail. 2014-09-15 17.30.41

Cheesecake:

Preheat the oven to 180C, grease and line a 23cm spring-form tin

  •  115g digestives
  • 125g ginger nuts
  • 100g butter

Crush the biscuits, or whizz them in a food processor to get them extra fine.

Melt the butter and add to the crushed biscuits, mix through evenly and press into the bottom of the pan.

Place in the fridge to chill.

  • 250g mascarpone
  • 600g cream cheese
  • 2 eggs + 2 yolks
  • Zest & juice of 3 lemons
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 4tbsp plain flour

So easy it’s sinful – put the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix until evenly combined.2014-09-15 19.44.572014-09-15 19.46.20

Pour 3/4 the cheesecake mixture into the tin.

Dollop tablespoons of raspberry pure, lemon curd and remaining cheesecake alternately on top of the mixture – swirl with a knife to combine. Try not to go on swirl overkill, I got a bit overexcited about making pretty patterns and did exactly that.2014-09-15 19.54.142014-09-15 19.56.51

Place in the oven for 40 – 45 minutes. The cheesecake will have a slight wobble when it’s ready, cook it for too long and it’ll crack. It’ll also crack if you remove it from the oven immediately – like chucking warm water on a frozen windscreen but not quite so dramatic. Turn the oven off and leave the cake in there to cool completely.

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If the top does crack, don’t stress, just dribble some raspberry puree  over the cake or top it with some sour cream. Problem solved.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

There are some people you always associate with certain foods. My mother makes a mean lasagne, my auntie’s strawberry mousse is better than birthday cake and Dad’s beef stroganoff is the best in the business.

For one of my oldest chums the recipe most associated with me (and one she constantly nags me to bake) is a richer than rich chocolate cake. It’s not what I’d call a signature bake – I made it once and she fell in love, but after years of begging (literally) and considering she’d cooked me some delicious dinners I owed her one. 2014-08-26 19.13.25-1There’s no flour in the recipe and the ground almonds set off the rich chocolate flavour without being overpoweringly nutty. It doesn’t need a ganache but my friend did say it added an extra bit of luxury, admitting she missed it this time around. Lesson learned – sometimes, more is more!2014-08-26 22.38.19

  • 160g dark chocolate (70 – 80%)
  • 160g cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 160g ground almonds
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated

Grease and line a 23cm cake tin

Preheat the oven to 180C

  1. Break up the chocolate and place it in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water
  2. Allow it to melt slowly, once smooth turn off the heat (but leave the pan there) and drop in the cold butter – let it melt a little bit before you stir then leave to sit until it melts completely before stirring again.2014-08-26 15.59.51
  3. Meanwhile, separate the eggs and whisk the whites until they form soft peaks, add caster sugar and stir until the peaks begin to stiffen.2014-08-26 15.56.20
  4. Stir the butter into the chocolate until smooth and glossy.
  5. Whisk the egg yolks into the melted chocolate and butter one at a time.
  6. Fold the whisked egg whites and sugar into the chocolate mix, very gently until just incorporated.
  7. Finally fold in the almonds light-handedly, keeping as much air in the mixture as possible.2014-08-26 16.15.49

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

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To make a simple chocolate ganache use equal parts chocolate and cream. Chop the chocolate finely, heat the cream until nearly boiling but not quite then pour over the chopped chocolate whisking until smooth. Leave to thicken slightly before using.

2014-08-26 22.38.24Alternatively you could just drown it in cream….2014-08-26 22.42.18