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, Food & Health, Recipes

Chocolate Tartlets {sugar is not your enemy}

Chocolate Tartlets.

Chocolate tartlet bitesize close-up
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again it doesn’t matter what you eat it’s the amount you eat that matters if you want to reach and maintain a healthy weight.  I’ve witnessed people on ‘diets’ wolfing down tubs of cottage cheese and seen the triumphant tweets as another milestone few pounds are shifted on a diet that awards points to food.
Chocolate tartlet

Diets are not sustainable.  Variety is the spice of life so have variety. Do not restrict your diet, do not cut out anything but do cut back, just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to eat all of it now – you can have some more tomorrow. Be sensible.
Chocolate tartlets

Change your portion size at dinner – palm size of protein (palm does not include your fingers!), fist size of carbs (yours not Mohammad Ali’s), and have vast amounts of vegetables.
Tartlet tins

If you need to lose some weight then stop eating after 6pm and do some extra exercise until you shift the pounds, then maintain your healthy weight by moderately exercising and watching your portion sizes.
Chocolate tartlets upside down

Stop eating the kids leftovers. If you go out tonight and have a three course meal then dinner tomorrow should be vegetable soup or something light. It’s about balance and moderation. Be sensible.
Chocolate tartlets bitesize on platter

The latest food war being waged is against sugar, this in a world that has shifted from dissing butter, fat, eggs and salt.

Sugar makes things sweet and I like sweet things. Sweet things are for treats and desserts, they are for occasional indulgence. Sugar is not your enemy. Be sensible.
Chocolate tartlets bitesize side-on

Desserts in restaurants are huge so share them – you don’t really want to feel bloated do you, you just want to feel satisfied.

These chocolate tartlets contain butter, sugar, eggs & chocolate.  All real, good foods but too much of it will make you fat.  You don’t want to be fat so just have a little piece.
Chocolate tartlets bitesize from side

I would make these for a special occasion where there are lots of people around to share and cut each tartlet into bite-size morsels.
Chocolate tartlet bitesize close-up

When I’m cooking I think I’m like most people and regularly hurried and without the luxury of time to wait for things to set or rise etc. In this recipe I use a small quantity of shortcrust pastry to make a light biscuity base for the tartlets. Shortcrust pastry should really get to have a little rest in the fridge before it’s rolled but here I don’t and you know what it works out just fine.

Chocolate tartlets:

You will need {for the pastry base}:
6 tartlet tins with push up bases, pie weights
100g plain flour
50g butter (cold)
10g caster sugar
1 egg yolk {keep the white for the chocolate mix}
1 tbsp cold water
Method {for the pastry base}:
Pre-heat the fan oven to 180C.
Use a food processor to mix the flour and cold butter together until breadcrumb texture then add in the caster sugar, egg yolk and water and mix until comes together into a dough ball.
Lightly flour a work-surface and rolling pin.
Roll out the pastry and invert your tartlet tins to cut out pastry to their size.
Line each tartlet tin with a pastry base, don’t worry if it doesn’t reach all the way up the sides.
Use pie weights – I put them in a cupcake case – and then bake the pastry bases in the hot oven for 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and reduce heat to 170C .

While the cases bake make the filling for the chocolate tartlets:
You will need {for the chocolate filling}:
125g chocolate (70%+)
75g butter
100g light brown sugar
3 tsp water
2 egg yolks
3 egg whites {use the 1 left-over from the pastry}
Pinch salt
Method {for the chocolate filling}:
Pre-heat the fan oven to 170C.
Break the chocolate and roughly chop the butter into a bowl and melt together in the microwave.
Place the light brown sugar in a saucepan, add the water and bring to the boil stirring to create a syrup over a high heat.
Use an electric whisk to add the syrup in to the melted chocolate and butter, keep whisking until smooth.
Whisk in the 2 egg yolks then place the bowl in the fridge to cool while you whisk the egg whites.  Whisk the 3 egg whites with a pinch of salt until beginning to thicken and hold soft peaks.
Remove the chocolate mixture from the fridge and use a spatula to gently fold and stir in the egg whites until all is well combined but without beating.
Pour the chocolate mixture into the semi-cooked pastry cases and return to the oven to bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow the tartlets to cool in the tin.
I suggest slicing each tartlet into 6 bite-size pieces.
Enjoy.
‘Til next time, Sheila.
P.S. Voting for the Irish Blog Awards 2015 opens on 7th September for 2 weeks and I’d love it if you’d vote for ‘Gimme The Recipe’ to reach the finals of the Food & Drink category.

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

Bulletproof Chocolate {or heavenly morsels to abate the cravings}

‘I need chocolate.’
Fruit and nut bulletproof chocolate
Does that just sound sad, pathetic, weak-willed, the cry of the sugar addict?
Maybe, and if so I’ve spawned 6 little sugar craving monsters of my own who also wail of their ‘need (for) chocolate.’  But that’s not a problem because in my house there’s ALWAYS chocolate.  The stash locations vary, sometimes it’s out in the open on the worktop in the box that says ‘biscuits’ because sometimes the most obvious place is the last place they’ll look.  And I don’t particularly mind sharing the stash, what I do mind is when the last morsel has been raided and I go in search in anticipation only to be met with the vacant and crumpled foil.
bullet proof chocolates

As a well established cynic it’s not in my nature to buy into fads.  Those 10 second soundbites announced like some Gospel as time-fillers on the morning radio with the latest stats on what’s going to kill you or make you live longer – well they just have me raising both eyebrows and rolling my eyes.  So when someone tells me that drinking coffee loaded with fat will have me training my body to burn fat instead of sugars my reaction is a pretty lame ‘meh, I really don’t think so.’  But that’s just me because I’m a cynic and I really don’t like the sound of loading coffee with 2 tbsp coconut oil and 2 tbsp butter and knocking that back for my breakfast.  I won’t be trying it because I like to eat food.

However along the vein of the bulletproofing coffee I was intrigued with a recipe described to me by Rachel my iBrow guru {a girl’s gotta groom}.  Anyway I couldn’t remember the exact quantities she had recommended but the bulletproof chocolates she described to me sounded easy, doable and worth a try.
Tray of bullet proof chocolates

I’m not selling you any promises with these chocolates other than they will really stretch your chocolate bar and with the hiding place being the freezer it’s the last place the kids will look.  With a nod to towards the health brigade I experimented with some additions of various types of nuts and dried fruit, like flaked almonds, macadamia nuts and dried cranberry.
Almond and cranberry choc

They can be eaten straight from the freezer though the flavour is better if you at least let them thaw while you boil the kettle for your coffee.

Bulletproof Chocolate
Makes approx 24 – depends on size of ice-cube trays you use.
You will need:
80g dark chocolate (I used Green & Black 85%)
80g almond butter
80g coconut butter
Nuts & dried fruit optional e.g. macadamia & cranberry
Method:
Break the chocolate into a microwave-proof bowl.  Scoop the two butters in on top and microwave for a couple of minutes, stopping every so often to stir until all are combined.
Place a nut and fruit (if using) into ice-cube trays.
Use a jug to pour the chocolate mixture into the ice-cube trays.
Allow to freeze for an hour or more until set.
Enjoy whenever.
‘Til next time, Sheila.