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!!

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…)

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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!

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.

Top 5 summer eats

Leading a nomadic life this summer has meant the baking side of things has sort of fallen by the wayside. However, baker or nomad I am still human, I still need (and love) to eat. I love updating this blog so, while this isn’t a cake, brownie, or biscuit recipe it is a different offering of deliciousness – my top 5 summer eats. There’s nothing stopping you whipping up any dessert delights after you’ve read on and ignited your appetite!

They’re nationwide so if you happen to be in any of these places do check them out, in no particular order: top5eats

 

1.Caribbean Wrap, St. Nicholas Market, Bristol

The morning after the night before I decided a 45-minute walk into town was the perfect cure. Fuelled by the prospect of food I trudged through the downs into town. Past the harbourisde I made a beeline straight for the market. I’d spotted it earlier in the week and there was absolutely no other option. Market food is always cracking value and full of great flavour. Walking through St Nicks was like a sensory overload for my poor hungry brain and belly -too many choices for an indecisive girl with a raging appetite. I sampled Moroccan falafel and homemade iced tea. Drooled over stunning towers of cake and handmade pork pies, but Jamaica had me at jerk chicken. After Bristol Carnival the previous weekend a craving for Caribbean had been developing all week. I satisfied it for under a fiver with a huge helping of saltfish, various root veg, coconut creamed spinach and of course… rice and peas.

http://www.stnicholasmarketbristol.co.uk/index.php/en/

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2. Krab Pot, Port Isaac, Cornwall.

Having spent a couple of days exploring the Cornish coastline I was itching to get my claws into some crab. Ha, pun intended. A token visit to Doc Marten’s pad and a wander up the cliff side to admire the views was sufficient enough time for me to work up an appetite. It doesn’t take long. The menus in the restaurants were all pretty similar and it was the décor outside the Krab Pot that drew us in. Cosy is one way to describe it. The service left a little to be desired but that didn’t matter once I was served my plateful of dressed crab. The salad was a simple green one, the crab light and fresh – not overly dressed. It was a little on the pricey side but pretty standard for the area. If you’re looking for something more wallet friendly the sandwiches come in generous portions. Two thick slabs of homemade bread, filled with whatever you choose (crab is an option), served with a side salad and crisps. I heard one customer praise the moules mariniere to no end so those may also be worth a try. We rounded off with some clotted cream fudge from down the road, probably the highlight of my day.

http://thekrabpot.com 

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3. Rustique, Lendal, York

I absolutely couldn’t fault this place. Go for the 2 or 3 course set menu, it’s not worth just having a main when you could have extra for the same price. The garlic mushrooms were creamy and cooked just right, not too soft for my liking. Following the mushrooms came pan-fried sea bass on sweet potato mash. The fish was lightly seasoned and the cream didn’t overpower the sweet potato. The leftover garlic sauce on the steak was ideal for soaking chips in – never content with having my own dinner I had to sample my partner in dining crimes too. Speaking of which, don’t bother with anything but the banana crepes for dessert. My crème brulee was good but I definitely suffered serious food envy as I watched the crepe, slathered in caramel and filled with warm gooey banana, disappear in front of me.

http://www.rustiquerestaurants.co.uk/rustique-york-lendal/

4. Kentish Canteen, Kentish Town, London

Just a tube stop away from Camden, Kentish Town is just as full of fantastic foodie finds. We hit the Kentish Canteen for some brunch on a Saturday morning and when my eyes clocked the Clonakilty Black pudding I knew we’d be getting good nosh. Like most great things in world Clonakilty pudding comes from all the way across the Irish Sea. Yes, I’m biased. The spice blend is top secret and they’d do well to keep it that way. Hearty and full of flavour the pudding was the perfect accompaniment to my wholemeal sourdough topped with eggs Florentine.

http://www.kentishcanteen.com

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5. El Piano, Grape Lane, York

The best meal I’ve had for four quid. Without a doubt. Value for money just doesn’t cover it. Students, get in here! York is absolutely full of fantastic little eateries and I’d passed El Piano a couple of times but never had the opportunity to go in. For £3.95 I ordered the soup and salad. As I was waiting for mine to take away I got an eyeful of the platters being ordered by those dining in. They looked immense and I was excited to see what treasures my takeaway box would reveal. The ‘salad’ was a pick n mix medley of kiwi and tomato salsa, red cabbage coleslaw, celery and potato salad, bulgur wheat with sultanas and, finally, a generous spoonful of hummus. Not just one but two different types of bread accompanied my massive pot of vegetable soup. I’d never tried cornbread before and was pleasantly surprised by it’s texture and slightly sweet flavour. An absolute must for a budget friendly lunchtime treat.

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Soda Bread

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I’m not a bread kind of girl. I know people that live for toast but not me.  That is, unless it’s soda bread. I could eat soda bread all day, everyday. Preferably spread thick with salty butter and honey or heaped with smoked salmon and a drizzle of lemon juice.  My Irish family are all great cooks, whether it’s a roast, apple pie, lasagna or strawberry mousse (my favourite ever dessert, I don’t think I’ve had a birthday without it) food is always delicious and my aunties in particular knock up a mean soda bread. I’ll never bake one half as good but when the craving struck I decided to have a go. My mini loaf was neither a raging success nor a huge disappointment and it did the trick!

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*Because making the bread is quick and I wasn’t sure I’d blog it I didn’t take any ‘process’ pictures. Instead you’ve got a breakfast overload. Enjoy!

Preheat the oven to 190C

  • 250g wholemeal flour
  • 50g oats
  • 230ml buttermilk
  • 15g butter
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda

**Double for a normal sized loaf**

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and rub in the butter.

Pour in the buttermilk and mix it up quickly, you’ll have a really sticky dough.

Shape the dough into a round and place on a lightly oiled piece of baking paper.

Score with a deep cross (this helps the bread to cook better inside but you may still find it slightly doughy, I did)

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I had to bake my loaf for about 40 minutes and it was a small one so I’d recommend up to an hour if you’re making a larger one.

The bread should be a nice golden brown when done and should sound hollow if you knock on the bottom.

Leave it to cool a while on a wire rack before slicing.

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I went for a different choice of topping to normal, a poached egg and avocado to sort me out after an early morning sweat session. It didn’t disappoint but a slice of bacon or salmon certainly wouldn’t have gone amiss.

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I can never just have one slice…