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Archive for the tag “chocolate”

Semifreddo. Chocolate. Raspberries. Two slices, please.

What fruity delight will tickle our fancy from the ‘summer fruits special’ Issue No.185 of Guardian Feast?

Well, it’s hot, we have a gallon of cream (this happens when The Husband is in charge of the weekly supermarket shop), a bar of Bourneville, a couple of punnets of almost pre-macerated raspberries, a slightly mangy lime and the tail end of a bottle of tequila.

Hello, Thomasina Miers’ semifreddo with chocolate drizzle and raspberries. I’d say this is the perfect pud to serve at a dinner party. It’s easily made in advance and it tastes so gooooooooooooooooood!

We used to have an ice cream maker. Goodness knows where it is. I’m put off ice cream making without the trusty whirring paddle because of all the freezing-beating-freezing-beating palaver. Fortunately Thomasina’s semifreddo requires no in-out-beat-it-all-about stuff: you make the custard and stick it in the freezer till it’s done. Then add the other bits. My kind of frozen cream. Just make sure you allow for the four hours freezing time (although, as Thomasina says, overnight is even better).

And then the raspberries:

Finally the chocolate:

This is a clever pud – no ingredient dominates but all enhance the overall flavour. I love the way the cool semifreddo takes charge and solidifies the melted chocolate as you drizzle it on. My lime zest went in the marinating raspberries. I’m guessing Thomasina sprinkled hers over the finished semifreddo. No matter, a sprig of basil delivered a splendidly festive effect!

I enjoyed the eating of it so much, I had two slices. If I made it again (and I can’t think of a reason not to!), I’d use a better quality dark chocolate. We happened to have the Bourneville in stock, but it’s a tad sweet against the overall creamy fruitiness.

My take on Thomasina Miers' 'semifreddo with chocolate drizzle and raspberries' from Guardian Feast. So good in the eating that I went back immediately for a second slice!
My take on Thomasina Miers’ semifreddo with chocolate drizzle and raspberries from Guardian Feast. So good in the eating that I went back immediately for a second slice!

Original recipe:

Thomasina Miers – semifreddo with chocolate drizzle and raspberries

Brownies: it’s a (low sugar, low fat) date!

As regular readers will know, I’m celebrating my love of the food columns and supplements in The Guardian by trying to cook at least one recipe from each issue of Guardian Feast in 2021. Find out a bit more about that here.

We are dedicated fans of Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess brownies. The gooey, unctuous chocolate squares have starred at countless parties and celebrations. But, with a stonking 500g caster sugar and 375g butter (which makes ‘a maximum of 48’), they’re not low-impact treats.

Of course, brownies are not supposed to be a healthfood, but it’s always nice to stumble on a recipe that suggests taste potential and calorie frugality.

So, Nik Sharma’s date brownies with black pepper in Issue No.171 of Guardian Feast were an intriguing prospect: dates for sugar, a tiddling 60ml of olive oil for butter and a nip of black pepper for zing. Added bonus: Nik touts these as ‘sweet treats for outdoor meets’ and we planned a hike in Northumberland’s Cheviot Hills on the Sunday.

Wandering up Yeavering Bell in the Cheviot Hills. Brownie-less as it turned out.

These moist, chocolatey cubes are super easy to create. A one-blender wonder. I’m not sure that the date, bicarb and boiling water mix was any more ‘soft and gloopy’ after its 20 minute sit than it was before, but am happy to accept it was. I worried my batter might be too runny: not a problem – although I left it in the oven for an extra couple of minutes on top of the suggested max of 30 minutes. And, sorry Nik, I’ve not come across ‘unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder’ before, but Morrisons own did the job. I used almonds instead of walnuts because of the eldest daughter’s allergy.

As so often, time ran away from me, and I ended up making the brownies when we returned home from our splendid walk up Yeavering Bell in Northumberland’s Cheviot Hills.

Walkers rewards. Puffed up and fresh from the oven: My take on Nik Sharma’s date brownies with black pepper

We allowed them to cool as much as our exercise-induced hunger allowed, then sliced ’em and scoffed several each. They were moister and lighter than expected and none of us felt you’d guess dates were a core ingredient unless you knew. The black pepper gives them a slightly exotic edge and a warm finish on the palate – although I should probably be more precise about measuring a teaspoonful rather than just grinding in an approximation!

We’ve been eating them with our coffee breaks since Sunday. On balance, the flavour and texture improve with proper cooling and a little maturation. The best squares are the ones with a good chunk of chocolate nesting within, so definitely worth using all bar chocolate, rather than the mix of block and chips that I used.

Overall verdict: sophisticated flavour, light moist crumb, delivers a halo of virtue without compromising on taste.

All chopped up but nowhere to go: we ate our ‘sweet treats’ after we returned from our ‘outdoor meets’

Original recipe:

Nik Sharmadate brownies with black pepper

The magical Cheviot Hills on a balmy April Sunday.

We’re on a (chocolate) roll!

I’m celebrating my love of the food columns and supplements in The Guardian by trying to cook at least one recipe from each issue of Guardian Feast in 2021. Find out a bit more about that here.

It’s week 11 of my epic attempt to cook from each issue of Guardian Feast and it’s beginning to feel as if we’re on a bit of a roll. Which is apposite. After all, who could resist the Ottolenghi kitchen’s chocolate and coconut mochi roulade pictured on the front of Feast Issue No.165 and shared liberally on Insta by Yotam and Ixta? I couldn’t. And neither could the eldest daughter who declares she’s always wanted to make mochi. And, let’s face it, this roulade is a GIANT mochi.

Who could resist that chocolate coconut mochi roll?

The mochi roulade is what my mum termed a ‘dinner party dish’. She used to make Delia Smith’s chocolate roulade as one of the obligatory five choices of pud when she and Dad entertained in the 60s and 70s. I always remember the anxiety over ‘cracking’ as Mum rolled up the cake slathered in its cream. Also, the sheer amount of time and effort it took to create the thing. I feel I might be in for a similar ride – I’ve never seen 400ml of cream and some coconut flakes put through so many processes! Anyway, I rush ahead. Mum’s roulade always tasted fabulous – and to us it always looked amazing, cracks and all. So, that’s all I’m hoping for: Fabulous!!!

In fact, finding a way (a way to make mochi) is even more challenging than anticipated. Glutinous rice flour is a very particular ingredient – and not one to be substituted easily, if at all. There’s none on our high street in this far corner of north eastern England. So, desperate to get on, we order from the online supplier who we usually try to avoid, hoping for next day delivery. Turns out that even the God of Amazon cannot deliver glutinous rice flour to Berwick-upon-Tweed on Sunday (although it can to most other parts of the country). So, Monday is mochi day.

It’s rich licks. The daughter and I agree a little goes a long way. The Husband begs to differ. He thinks a lot is just right.

No matter, I prepare the caramelised coconut flakes and infuse the cream overnight as recommended (the kind of thing I’m never usually organised or patient enough to do). I decide that kitchen Ottolenghi must have industrial-sized baking trays and ovens – there’s no way I can spread 200g of dried coconut flakes across one tray – so I use two. I also decide that anything mixed with maple syrup and condensed milk is impossible to make ‘not clumped together’ no matter how much you mix them. Hey ho, they taste so sublime that I take the 50g of leftover coconut flakes from my packet and give them the same treatment so that we can snack on them while we await the full event. As for the coconut and cream journey, it seems a bit counterintuitive to tip a pile of crispy flakes into cream and infuse, but I do as I’m told.

Overall, the mochi cake itself is incredibly easy to put together. I realise too late that my tin of coconut milk is 50% coconut extract rather than 70%. I whisk by hand to begin with ‘until all the ingredients come together’ and then use a hand whisk because my processor only has blades. The batter’s quite runny and a good fit for the tin. After 25 mins in the oven, I can see some quite large bubbles ballooning off the top of the cake, when I take it out they fall and it feels ‘set but springy’ to me. When it’s cooled, it does sink a bit in the middle leaving a slight ridge around the outside, so maybe I should have left it for a couple of minutes (actually the ridge is quite a good guide when it comes to smearing on the coconut crisp sludge and cream!). I crack on (it’s a Monday night, after all!).

As the cake cooks, I reheat the cooled cream and coconut flakes, press them through a sieve and hoick them into the processor with cocoa powder and – ingredient of the moment – maple syrup. Weirdly, they begin to smell and taste like cornflakes to me. The eldest daughter, cruising the kitchen on a work break for sniffs and licks, dismisses this as motherly foolishness. Nevertheless, the ‘coarse paste’ tastes a bit like posh cornflake crispy cake mix to me. Bish, bash, bosh! I hurtle through the rest of the prep and the moment of mochi rolling truth arrives. I’m hoping the solid stretchiness delivered by glutinous rice flour will prevent cracking. I’m right.

Ta daaaaaaa!!!

The end result is everything we’d hoped for in its chocolatey, crunchy caramel-topped, coconutty creamy, chewy, mochiness. The ping of salt from the caramelised coconut is a stroke of genius. There’s no doubting it’s rich licks. The daughter and I agree that a little goes a long way. The Husband begs to differ. He thinks a lot is just right.

Even though we had to wait for our mochi roulade, we were able to indulge ourselves for Saturday cocktail hour. It was such a chilly, bright and glorious March evening, that we took our ‘good mixer’ apple martinis from Anna Haugh at Myrtle down the garden and enjoyed the sunset. Just lovely.

Through a glass brightly. What could be more perfect than a Berwick sunset viewed through an apple martini?

Original recipes:

Yotam Ottolenghi – Chocolate and coconut mochi roulade

Anna Haugh – Apple martini

Feast: shiny, sexy tart

I’m celebrating my love of the food columns and supplements in The Guardian by trying to cook at least one recipe from each issue of Guardian Feast in 2021. Find out a bit more about that here.

Welcome to February folks. Doesn’t your stomach just growl for comfort food and sweet treats? I know mine does. However, cooking during these lockdown days (take 3) can be a challenge. In our family we’re limiting our shopping trips. I’m fortunate to have a pretty well-stocked store cupboard (although readers of previous posts will also note that this project is an opportunity to use out-of-date items lurking dustily in the far recesses of my shelves). Even so, up here in Berwick, ingredients such as ‘meyer lemons’ and ‘cassava’ are not readily available. In fact, this week The Husband did yell: ‘Come on Guardian not everyone lives in London!’.

Despite such minor frustrations, I’m finding that I’m tackling recipes I’d usually not bother with. Looking at the cover pic of Ravneet Gill’s miso caramel and chocolate tart in Guardian Feast Issue No.159, I was salivating.

However, I also thought it looked way too hard for me to tackle – it just had a pastry chef-ish air to it. How wrong could I be? This shiny, sexy, silky, satiny tart with its bran flake crust is SO easy and SO delicious. I was lucky to have white miso in stock (we love Japanese food and use miso in all sorts of things for its umami tang). I didn’t, however, have posh 75% dark chocolate so dusted down a couple of bars of Bourneville.

There were a couple of flashpoints in the recipe… 35ml of caster sugar – should that be 35g? I decided yes. 200g double cream – should that be 200ml? Again, I decided yes. And I see in the updated online recipe (see link below) this has been corrected and I was right. Phew.

I’m always terrified of making caramel. I’m so easily distracted that I’ve burnt goodness knows how many pans of sugar. But the caramel gods were with me on Sunday. And OMG, miso caramel is something I’m going to be making again just for the sheer joy of its taste.

Really, there’s nothing else to say. Ravneet is spot on when she says the tart’s ‘very much on that edge of sweet and salty’. Put simply, it’s full on moreish! Like Ravneet’s family, we finished this superb tart in a day! I think it’s impossible not to.

Ravneet GillMiso caramel and chocolate tart

Easter egg leftover madness

It’s always time for chocolate, isn’t it?

So why is it that, after Easter, the chocolate egg mountain doesn’t shrink, but moves mysteriously from place to place, morphing and melting over time – and doesn’t actually get eaten? When The Husband complimented me on my ‘display’ of chocolate – I felt I had to do something. I remembered reading a Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall recipe in the Guardian a few years back. Essentially, you made a cake, coated it in chocolate, and stuck broken up chocolates and eggs into the coating. Nice, but not what I wanted.


The depleted egg shrine - post leftover madness onslaught

I remembered a cookie recipe supplied by my nieces – which gives some of the chewiest, most delicious American-style biscuits I’ve ever eaten. However, I wanted to do more than simply replace chocolate chips with broken bunnies, chicks and chopped up strawberry creams. Something tailormade to using up Easter eggs.

A quick trawl on the Internet and I came across a site called Cooking with Karma. Being a lazy skate I chose to skip the option of becoming a subscriber. I watched her YouTube video and decided that although I didn’t have quantities I could easily crack the code of her Ultra Chocolate Slice – as well all my leftover eggs.

I was wrong and right. I mashed two packs of chocolate digestives (plain and milk to be even-handed) in a bag with a rolling pin. Both the bag and I got worn out so I changed to the blender. Half a pack of melted butter into the crumbs looked about right. And I pressed the huge quantity of crumbs into my largest pyrex dish. While the base chilled in the fridge, I began to systematically smash up Easter eggs and melt them over a pan of steaming water. There’s something a little spooky about breaking up Easter eggs – they are almost skull-like. I didn’t let it stop me.

I love the look of melted chocolate, shiny and lush like a brand new pair of patent leather shoes. However, as any novice cook will tell you, if you  add cream to hot melted chocolate it turns into something you might want to plant vegetable seeds in. I realised how clever Karma had been to keep her methods a secret from me. Sticking the bowl back over the steamy pan and tipping the rest of the pot of cream in plus half a pot of condensed milk seemed to do the trick.

It was only as I was opening the bag of marshmallows that I realised the overall fatal flaw in my plan: I had now made three trips to the supermarket and spent a small fortune on subsidiary ingredients for my ‘leftovers’ recipe. This was more Yotam Ottolenghi than Delia’s budget gourmet. But I was committed. I smeared some of the melted chocolate delight over the crumby base – it all sort of got mixed in together but I gave it a good press down with the base of a saucepan!

On went the halved mini eggs and marshmallows. On went the rest of the melted choccy goo. In it all went to the fridge. It looked pretty good when I took it out…just an extra drizzle of condensed milk to decorate and sweeten it up a bit and hey presto…


The Easter 'leftovers' fridge cake - more ingredients than a Harry Potter spell

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