Tag Archives: cake

Pistachio Marzipan and Chocolate Cake

It has been a very busy Easter holiday and so I am a bit behind with my posts – sorry.  The next post will be the cake for which I used the crystallised violets but I have just had a look at Choclette’s blog and she reminded me that time is running out if I want to submit an entry for this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge.  Choclette chose marzipan this month and marzipan is one of my very favourite things.  I adore marzipan chocolates and so the idea of cooking with marzipan and chocolate really appealed. I wanted to try something a little different but that was reminiscent of Easter.  Easter, of course, means  simnel cake, but I didn’t want to make a normal simnel cake.  Then I thought about the pistachios I had bought and then about my chocolate hazelnut cupcakes and whether it might work if I made the same mixture but with pistachios and cooked the cake with a layer of pistachio marzipan like you do with simnel.  The resulting cake was moist and chewy, much more like a brownie than a cake and was better the second day than the first when it had time to settle.

I really liked this cake/ brownie and it can be made with almonds just as easily.  I urge you to have a go at making your own marzipan as it is so much nicer than shop bought. The layer of marzipan sinks to the bottom but is gloriously chewy.  The people who tried this cake gave it the thumbs up and I don’t think they were just being polite.

For the pistachio marzipan

125 pistachios, finely ground in a food processor
60g caster sugar
60g icing sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 free range egg, lightly beaten (you will only need about half the egg)

To make the marzipan:

Place the pistachios and the caster sugar and icing sugar in a bowl and mix well. Add the lemon juice and about half the egg and mix to a soft dough.  Place on a worktop dusted with icing sugar and knead until smooth. Place in the fridge until you are ready to use it.  (I made mine by putting all the ingredients into a food processor and whizzing until smooth, which worked just fine).

For the cake batter:

200g softened butter
200g caster sugar
3 eggs
100g pistachios, finely ground in a food processor
100g spelt flour (you could use wholemeal or plain flour)
25g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder

Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin.

Roll out the pistachio marzipan into a disc that fits snugly in the tin and leave to one side whilst you make the cake.

Beat the butter with an electric whisk until creamy and then cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and light.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.  Fold in the pistachios, cocoa powder, flour and baking powder.

Place half the mixture in the tin and then carefully place the disc of marzipan on top.  Cover with the remaining batter, smoothing the top.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4, for 50-60 minutes.  About halfway through check the cake and cover the top with foil if it is beginning to brown.  A skewer should come out clean when the cake is cooked.

Leave the cake to cool in the tin for about ten minutes and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Mocha Brownies – inspired by Choclette

I have said before how much I love Choclette’s blog about all things chocolate. Well the other week she posted a recipe for Almond Toffee Brownies and they sounded like they may well be the pinnacle of brownies. Today, I felt like making brownies and so I thought I would try her recipe.  Except that I can never really follow a recipe without feeling the need to mess about with it a bit.  So I haven’t yet discovered whether Choc’s recipe is the pinnacle of brownies, but I am sure it is.

My variation is pretty good, with a sugary crust and very moist brownie underneath.  Choclette normally uses duck eggs in her cooking and as my hens lay quite small eggs instead of 3 egg yolks I used 2 egg yolks and 1 whole egg.  I cooked my brownies for longer too, I don’t know why this was necessary, maybe it’s my Aga or the different size tin – a mystery to me.

120g butter
50g plain chocolate
2 tsp Camp chicory and coffee essence
225g caster sugar
2 egg yolks and 1 whole egg
110g ground almonds

Method

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a bowl suspended over simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water). Add the coffee essence.

Whisk together the egg yolk and whole egg with the sugar until fluffy. Fold in the almonds and the chocolate mixture.  Pour into a greased 8 inch square tin and bake in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or in the baking oven of the Aga for 20-25 minutes.  You want it nicely browned on top but still moist in the centre. Leave to cool in the tin and then cut into squares and enjoy with a cup of tea.

Thank you Choclette for yet more inspiration.

Marathon slice

I have actually got my act together this month and this is my entry into the We Should Cocoa Monthly Challenge that the wonderful Choclette and Chele host.  This month’s challenge is to create something that has both caramel and chocolate and Chele is hosting over at The Chocolate Teapot.

My automatic reaction to that is, of course, Millionaire Shortbread, but I thought I needed something a little more imaginative than that.  My second musing led me down the Snickers route.  Now being a child of the seventies and growing up in the UK the Snickers bar will never really be a Snickers bar, but instead will forever remain a Marathon (if you click on the link you will find that I am not alone). Why exactly do they have to change the name of things?  Don’t even get me started on a Starburst!  What, may I ask, ever happened that deemed Opal Fruit such a bad name?

Anyway, before something innocent gets kicked, this is my homage to the Marathon bar – long may it live.

It’s very similar to the lovely Millionaire Shortbread, except the for the base I used a peanut butter cookie dough.  If I had any unsalted peanuts in the house I would have added them to the caramel layer, but I hadn’t and it was cold so I couldn’t be bothered with going to the shops.

Be warned that this is very sweet and you will probably need to run a marathon afterwards to get rid of all the calories consumed.

For the base:

150g (5oz) butter, softened
75g (3oz) crunchy peanut butter
75g (3oz) caster sugar
75g (3oz) dark soft brown sugar
1 egg
150g (5oz) plain flour

Method

Cream the butter, peanut butter and the sugars together until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and beat well. Add the flour and mix to a sift dough.

Lightly grease a 20cm square cake tin and spoon the dough in, levelling off the top.

Cook in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4, or the baking oven of the Aga for 20- 25 minutes until lightly golden and fairly firm to the touch. Place the tin on a wire rack to cool completely.

(You could use this recipe to make peanut butter cookies instead, just drop spoonfuls onto a tray and bake at the same temperature for about 10-12 minutes.)

For the caramel layer:

150g (5oz) butter
150g (5oz) dark soft brown sugar
400g (14oz) tin of condensed milk

Method

Place the butter and sugar in a pan over a gentle heat and stir until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves.  Add the condensed milk and stir until the mixture begins to boil.  Take it off the heat and allow to cool for a minute and then pour over the biscuit base.  Allow to cool completely.

For the chocolate layer:

150g (5oz) milk chocolate, melted
25g (1oz) plain chocolate, melted

Pour the milk chocolate all over the caramel layer and spread evenly with a palette knife.  Drizzle the plain chocolate over the top to create a marbling effect.  Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.  Cut into small squares and enjoy with a cup of tea and a happy memory of the Marathon bar.

Chocolate roulade, with a touch of the Black Forest

This was another of my contributions to my Dad’s birthday pudding bonanza.  It’s a flourless creation, which means that my gluten-intolerant sister can enjoy it.  I really like Black Forest gâteau, and anything with cherries and cherry brandy in it is always a big hit with me.  So I opted to add these, but you could add Marron Glaces for a chestnutty treat or just opt for the simpler (but nearly as delicious) chocolate and cream combo.

When I rolled it, I had as usual added far too much filling and it all oozed out.  But, actually I like it this way, it makes it look a lot more decadent and that can never be a bad thing, surely?

For the roulade (recipe from Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course):

6 eggs, separated
150g (5oz) caster sugar
50g (2oz) cocoa powder

A swiss roll tin (a shallow sided tray) measuring 29cm x 18cm, greased and lined with baking parchment.

Whisk the egg yolks until they begin to thicken, then add the sugar and whisk again until the mixture thickens a little more, but you don’t want it to be too thick.  Add the cocoa powder and mix until combined.  In a very clean bowl whisk the egg whites until they make soft peaks.  Add one-third of the egg whites to the egg yolk mixture to loosen the mixture and then carefully fold in the rest of the egg whites, retaining as much air as possible. Carefully pour this mixture into the tin and lift the tin to spread the mixture evenly.

Place in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or on the middle shelf of the Aga’s Baking Oven and cook for 20-25 minutes until the cake is springy to touch. Leave it in the cake tin to cool.

Make the chocolate ganache:

225g (8oz) good quality dark chocolate
225ml double cream
Cherry Brandy (to taste, I tend to put a good swig in, I know that isn’t very scientific, but keep on tasting until it suits you)

Chop the chocolate finely and place in a shallow and long dish. Heat the cream in a saucepan until just under boiling point. Pour the cream over the chocolate and leave to melt for a few moments.  Stir gently until well combined and then add the cherry brandy to taste.

Softly whip 200ml of double cream and drain a can of cherries.

Place a fresh piece of baking parchment on the worktop, it should be a little bigger than the cake.  Dust this with cocoa powder and turn the cake onto it.  Peel off the baking parchment from the bottom of the cake.  Spread the chocolate ganache over and then dot with the cherries.

Spread the softly whipped cream on top and then taking hold of one the shorter edges of baking parchment use this to roll the cake over to make a log.  If the filling oozes out, don’t worry just use a knife to spread it back onto the ends of the roulade.  If the cake cracks then that’s a bonus part of its appeal.

Enjoy in thick slices.

Chocolate Nut Cake

The name for this cake could indeed have a double meaning.  I get asked if we can make a chocolate cake at least once a week, and it is very often more regular than that.  Well, the request was sounded at about 6.30 am on Sunday morning, something along the lines of  ‘Can we make a chocolate cake that we can ice and decorate’.  The request was, of course, answered with a bleary ‘Later, maybe’.  Well, I am afraid my children are determined little creatures and so after a trip to the garden centre and before making sunday lunch for my parents and our neighbours, this chocolate cake was made and iced.  It was then decorated after dinner and before pudding – very extravagantly I have to say, and there was no time to take pictures, it needed to be eaten. Needless to say it involved a lot of sugared orange and lemon slices, hundreds and thousands and silver balls.

Here is a slice I finished off about mid-morning today.

The recipe is based on Rachel Allen’s Italian Hazelnut Cake in her Bake book (ISBN 13 978 0 00 725970 0), with the added chocolate and the addition of ground almonds as I didn’t have 200g of hazelnuts in the house. Then it was iced with a fudge frosting, which is not entirely necessary but does make a very good addition.

If you use gluten-free baking powder, then this makes a delicious gluten-free cake.

For the cake:

100g whole shelled hazelnuts
100g almonds (ground or whole, depending on what you have available or go for 200g of hazelnuts should they be available to hand)
50g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
1 tsp baking powder
100g softened butter
5 eggs separated
175g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

Butter and line the base and sides of a 20 cm springform tin.  Preheat the oven to 170°c (gas mark 3) or use the baking oven of a 3 or 4 oven Aga.

Whizz the hazelnuts, almonds, baking powder and chocolate in a food processor until they are fine crumbs.  Add the butter and pulse until just combined.

Beat the egg yolks and the sugar with an electric whisk until the mixture has a mousse-like texture. Add the nut and chocolate mixture and the vanilla extract and mix until combined.

Whisk the egg whites in a very clean bowl until they are stiff.  Add one-third of the egg whites to the mixture and mix in well to loosen the mixture.  Add the rest of the egg whites in two batches, folding in very gently to retain as much air as possible.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 45-60 minutes.  I placed mine on the oven rack placed on the bottom rung of the baking oven of my Aga and it was cooked in 40 minutes, so do adjust according to your oven.  The cake is cooked when it is firm to the touch and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle.

Leave the cake in the tin for 15 minutes, then take the side off, leave for another 15 minutes and then remove the base and then leave to cool completely.

For the icing:

25g good quality dark chocolate
100g icing sugar
25g butter
1 ½ tbsp milk
½ tbsp vanilla extract

Method
Place all of the ingredients into a heavy based saucepan and heat gently until melted and stir well to combine.  Beat for a minute or two until cooled and spread onto the top of the cake.

Decorate, or not, to your heart’s desire.

Victoria sandwich – the all-in-one method

It is my Mum’s birthday, which of course means a cake. My choice would, of course, be chocolate, but it wouldn’t be my mum’s so a Victoria sandwich fits the bill nicely.

This one is very easy and quick to make. You can have the cake in the oven in minutes.

I have taken the advice of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and Fizz Carr in their excellent Family Cookbook and weighed the eggs in their shell and then used the same weight of butter, sugar and flour. I have not followed their creaming method though which calls for the butter and sugar to be beaten first and then the eggs incorporated and then the flour folded in.  Instead, I have used the all-in-one method as used by Mary Berry in her The Aga Book. For the all-in-one method to be a success it is crucial that the butter is soft, so you must remember to bring it out of the fridge a couple of hours before you want to make the cake. It is also important to add a teaspoon of baking powder to the self-raising flour as you won’t be beating in as much air with this method.

It is delicious with raspberry jam and softly whipped cream but you could sandwich it just with the jam of your choice or lemon curd or even a buttercream.

4 eggs – weigh them in their shells and then use the same weight for the sugar, flour and butter.  (My four eggs from my lovely hens weighed exactly 200 grams so I used 200g butter, 200g sugar and 200g of self-raising flour for the cake above).
soft butter
caster sugar
self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
a splash of milk

The jam of your choice
150ml double cream, softly whipped
1 tsp icing sugar to dust the top of the cake

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°c (gas mark 4).  Grease 2 sandwich tins with a smear of butter and line the bases with greaseproof paper.

Put the butter, sugar and eggs in a large bowl and sieve the flour and baking powder in. Add the vanilla extract and a splash of milk.  Using an electric whisk on medium speed whisk the mixture until all combined.  Divide the mixture between the two tins and spread evenly.

Place in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes until golden and springs back when touched lightly.

Turn out onto a cake rack and allow to cool completely.

Spread one of the cakes with the jam and then the cream (or the filling of your choice) and then place the other half of the cake on top.  Dust lightly with icing sugar.

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Chocolate and coffee cake

It was my husband’s birthday yesterday and the girls wanted to make him a cat themed birthday cake.  They are both a bit obsessed with cats it has to be said.  So this is it.  The cake is Nigel Slater’s Chocolate Espresso Cake (from Real Food), which always works wonderfully and is popular with everyone who tries it. It is rich and fudgy and very moreish.  The cat is a whipped ganache and complements the cake very well.

For the cake:

180g 70% cocoa chocolate, broken into pieces
3 tbsp espresso (very strong coffee)
140g butter, cut into small pieces
5 eggs, separated
200g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp good quality cocoa powder
90g plain flour

Topping:
100ml double cream
50g 70% cocoa chocolate, broken into small pieces

Method for the cake

You will need a 20cm springform tin, lined with baking parchment.
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of just simmering water.  Be careful that the steam does not make contact with the chocolate and make sure the water doesn’t boil.  Too much heat will seize the chocolate. When the chocolate begins to melt add the warm espresso and leave to continue to melt.  Add the diced butter, (the smaller the better), and stir gently until it is all melted and combined.

Whilst this is happening beat the 5 egg whites in a very clean bowl until stiff and then fold the sugar in as gently as possible.

Remove the melted chocolate from the heat and stir in the 5 egg yolks, then slowly fold this into the egg whites, trying to be as careful as possible to retain as much air as you can.

Sieve the flour, cocoa and baking powder together into the mixture and fold in until just combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in a preheated oven at 180° c (gas mark 4) for about 30 minutes, until it is springy to the touch.  Leave it in the tin to cool completely.  It can be served like this, dusted with cocoa powder.  It is lovely with double cream poured over it. However if you want to recreate the topping read on.

For the topping, beat the cream until it’s aerated but still soft, (adding the chocolate will thicken it up quite a bit so you don’t want it to be thick at this stage). Melt the chocolate gently over a pan of barely simmering water.  Add the chocolate to the cream and stir to combine. Spread onto the cake and if you want it to look like  a cat then use jelly tots and spaghetti to decorate.

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