Posted in Recipes

From Baking Disaster to Scrumptious Triumph

Hmmm Easter. Eggs.  Chocolate.  I know, I’ll make some cute chocolatey meringue nests and will fill them with sweetness and appeal to kids.  After all Easter Eggs are just for the kids, right? Yeah right.  Much as you swear you will not attack, a crumb passes your lips and then you are finished, you swoop and crack piece after piece until the egg has disappeared and you dissolve into a chocolate coma much like the indulgent town mayor in this scene from Chocolat.
chocolate hearts

My plans for meringue nests soon changed as after several minutes of beating egg whites with sugar and cocoa powder I realised that nope, fluffy meringue was not about to happen – I think it was the weight of the cocoa powder.  So what to do but to throw in some flour and the egg yolks and fill some heart-shaped cases for chocolate buns.  They looked good as they came out of the oven but upon tasting them I realised that I had forgotten to add some butter – disaster.  The cakes were over spongey and it was difficult to get them out of the cases but I persevered.  There was surely something that could be done to salvage the situation.  And the answer was cream and fruit.  One of my all time favourite desserts is simply fresh fruit and cream, you just can’t go wrong with it.  I sliced my hearts in two so they became platforms for a good dolloping of fresh Irish cream and some succulent pear slices adorned with shavings of chocolate and one of my favourite chocolate sweets.  I may have hailed these a scrumptious triumph in the title but they weren’t really.  They were grand.  They were alright but at least they didn’t head in the direction of the bin and each one was a sweet mouthful enjoyed with a cup of tea.
chocolate hearts
chocolate hearts
chocolate hearts

On occasion things will go wrong in the kitchen but unless you’ve absolutely cremated the dish beyond recognition there is usually something you can do to alter and turn it towards a palatable direction.  Don’t despair, believe in yourself and you will be able to turn every disaster to triumph.
chocolate hearts
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Posted in Baking Day, Recipes

Black Cherry Gateaux

Mother’s Day is a week away and if you’re stuck for funds a homemade cake is always a welcome and special gift.  Combining chocolate, cherries, liquor and cream makes this a grown-up cake that everyone will enjoy.
chocolate cake
With six children our days and weeks are very busy and time appears to fly by.  It was so lovely to wake up this Sunday morning to a beautiful crisp blue spring sky and the knowledge that I didn’t have to drive anywhere today other than to get supplies for dinner and tomorrow’s school lunches.  Sunday generally either means a huge fry-up brunch and a lighter tea later in the evening or a Sunday roast.  Today was a day for a beef roast and I was also in the mood for baking and we all dug into this delicious Black Cherry Gateaux with extra cream, cherries and syrup for dessert.
chocolate cake
chocolate cake
chocolate cake
chocolate cake
chocolate cake
chocolate cake
chocolate cake

The bases will bake in 35 minutes and will need 30 minutes to cool them before decorating.
Black Cherry Gateaux.
You will need:
For The Cake You Will Need:
2 tbsp cocoa powder
5 tbsp hot water
200g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
200g self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
For Decorating:
1 tin black cherries
100ml kirsch or creme de cassis (I use the latter)
125g caster sugar
150ml whipping cream
2 bars chocolate 70% cocoa solids
Icing sugar for dusting.
Method:
Preheat the fan oven to 170C.  Grease two round 8 or 9cm cake tins with some butter and line the base of each with a round of parchment paper.
Mix the cocoa powder with warm water to make a thick chocolatey paste and leave to cool.
Mix the flour and baking powder together and set aside.
Use an electric mixer to soften the butter and then add the caster sugar and beat well.
Add one egg to the mix then some flour and continue doing so until all eggs and flour/baking powder are added and mixed.
Finally mix in the chocolatey paste then divide the mixture between the two tins and bake for 30-35 minutes, (test with a skewer to see if baked)
Remove cakes from tins and allow to cool on a wire rack before decorating.
To Decorate:
While the cake are baking strain the liquid from the cherries into a saucepan and mix in the caster sugar and the liquor.
Mix well and bring to the boil and simmer for around 5 minutes until reduced by about half and thickening to a nice syrupy consistency.
Pour the syrup into a jug and allow it to cool.
Whip the cream.
Once the cakes are completely cool break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a bowl in the microwave for a minute or two mixing well to make a nice chocolate sauce.
Once the cake has completely cooled top one of the cakes with a good dollop of cream and scatter the cherries on top.
Pour over a generous drizzling of the cherry sauce then top with the second cake.
Pour over most of the melted chocolate, top with a few cherries and then dust lightly with a little icing sugar.  Serve with extra cream and syrup.
Enjoy!
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Posted in Baking Day, Recipes

Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Cake
Why not make your next weekend special for no reason other than you deserve to have some delicious cake every now and then.  I like to sneak some chopped raspberries into the cake mixture for extra moistness and we all fight to lick the icing bowl and spoons.  While you really ought not to eat raw cake mixture I always do and beaters and spatulas become lollipops.  The cake mixture contains a full bar of chocolate as does the rich chocolate butter icing making this a very chocolatey chocolate cake.
While the pictures below are very similar, I couldn’t choose between them or leave any out, after all one can never have enough cake.

Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Cake

You will need:
150g unsalted butter
100g dark chocolate
200g caster sugar
200g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
12 raspberries for cake mix
Raspberries to decorate
Blueberries to decorate
Chocolate icing (see below), fresh cream and raspberry jam to decorate
You will need – for Rich Chocolate Butter Icing:
100g dark chocolate (70%)
250g icing sugar
25g unsalted butter (approximately 1 heaped tbsp.)
3 tbsp hot water

Method for Chocolate Cake:
Preheat the fan oven to 170oC/Gas mark 5.
Grease and line two round cake tins (20cm or 8”) with a little butter and parchment paper.
Use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugar together.
Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave and mix in with the butter and sugar.
Sift the flour and baking powder together in a separate bowl and set aside.
Beat the eggs in a bowl and add about a third to the butter and sugar mix followed by about a third of the flour. Continue adding the egg and flour alternating until all are added. Mix in 12 roughly chopped raspberries and mix well.
Divide the mixture between the two cake tins.
Bake the cakes for 30-35 minutes, testing with a skewer to see if baked, if any wet mixture clings to the skewer return to the oven for a further 5 minutes and test again.
Allow the cakes to cool for ten minutes or so before removing from tins to cool on wire rack tray before icing.

Method for Rich Chocolate Butter Icing :
100g dark chocolate (70%)
250g icing sugar
25g unsalted butter (approximately 1 heaped tbsp.)
3 tbsp hot water
Break up the chocolate into a bowl and microwave it on low power for 1 to 2 minutes until melted.
Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and stir in the melted chocolate.
Add the butter and hot water and beat well with a wooden spoon until smooth.
Keep beating as you add in the hot water to make a smooth icing.

Layer some raspberry jam and freshly whipped cream to sandwich the cake together.
Pour the chocolate butter icing over the top and use a spatula to smooth over and down the sides of the cake.
Decorate with fresh berries.
Chocolate Cake

Indulge & Enjoy.
‘Til next time, Sheila

Posted in Baking Day

Chocolate Cake


When the birthdays come around in our house and I ask what type of cake they would like me to bake the answer is always the same –  “Chocolate!”.  They get that from me.  My favourite ice-cream is also chocolate, and it would be the dessert I would first look for on a menu.  I love chocolate ice-cream with green grapes or pears smothered in chocolate sauce, preferably hot.  I love chocolate truffles, minstrels, flakes and buttons to name a few.  I love the movie ‘Chocolat’ too, especially the part when the mayor of the town breaks down and has a gorge fest of chocolate.  (Then of course it does also have Johnny Depp…)
So last weekend being my twin girls 11th birthday (Daire & Eimear) I had an excuse to melt a couple of bars of Lindt chocolate and mix it with some double cream to cover the cake and some strawberries.  Divine.
For The Cake You Will Need:
200g unsalted butter
200g self raising flour
200g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tbsp cocoa powder
For Icing:
2 bars chocolate min 30% cocoa solids
150ml double cream
strawberries, raspberries, Cadbury’s flake & buttons
Method:
Preheat the oven to 190C.  Grease two round cake tins with some butter and line the base of each with a round of parchment paper.
Use an electric mixer to soften the butter and then add the sugar and beat well.
Add one egg to the mix then some flour and continue doing so until all eggs and flour are added and mixed.
Add the cocoa powder and mix well.
Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake for 20-25 minutes, (test with a skewer to see if baked)
Remove cake from tins and allow to cool on a wire rack before decorating.
To decorate melt some chocolate with double cream and fill the centre with this mixture and some fruit (sliced raspberries or strawberries) drizzle the remainder all over the cake and decorate with your favourite fruit and chocolate sweets. 
Enjoy.
Til next time.  Sheila