chocolate dessert

Undercover Chef Tip – Having your cake and cutting it too

Undercover chef tip - Cut the cake

 

Ever starting cutting up a beautiful birthday cake and found by the third slice it looks a little less than beautiful? So what to do? 

An easy solution is to warm up the knife in hot water to allow it to cut through the icing cleanly. 

So how do you warm up the knife easily? Just place some hot water in a measuring jug, dip the knife in for a few seconds, slice through with ease, wipe off the knife with paper towel, re-dip and continue to cut, repeating the dip and wipe with each slice. 

The result? Lovely clean slices that do justice to the cake. Woohoo. 

 

The proof is in the pudding

What to have for dessert. Almost as much a quandary and what to have for dinner. I’ll admit I have bought and cooked my share of frozen desserts before. Why? Laziness to be honest. Sometimes I convince myself that is too hard to make a dessert from scratch so I buy an apple pie or pastry and bake it. Of course I am more often than not disappointed in the dessert and wish I had just baked my own but alas, there we are.

So what do you do when you just couldn’t be bothered but you’d prefer not to buy a frozen dessert? Pudding. Puddings are some of the simplest and easiest desserts to make. Four or five ingredients, stirred, put into a mould and baked. Like a cake but with less pressure and you don’t have to ice them. Self saucing puddings are even better. The accompaniment is baked into the dish for you! All you need do is sprinkle some berries or whip some cream and voila, an easy peasy dessert is made. Of course you can also buy frozen self saucing puddings but you really don’t need to when they are so easy to make.

I baked mine in individual pots to make serving easier and more attractive. Puddings don’t look that elegant when spooned out onto a plate so for a dinner party dessert, individual pots are the way to go. At home by yourself and wish to have something warm to eat? By all means, grab a spoon and tuck in straight from the dish. I do 😉

So, to the recipe:

Ingredients (makes four individual puddings)

1 cup of self raising flour or 1 cup of plain flour and 1 teaspoon of baking powder

2 tbsp of cocoa powder

1/2 cup sugar

80g butter

1 large egg

For the sauce

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 tbsp cocoa powder

1 1/4 cups of boiling water

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees
  2.  Sift the flour and cocoa into a bowl. Stir in the sugar until combined
  3. Melt the butter and allow to cool slightly
  4. Whisk the egg and milk together in a jug, add the melted butter and combine
  5. Pour the mix over the dry ingredients and stir well to combine
  6. Spoon the batter into individual ramekins and place onto oven proof tray
  7. Pour the boiling water over the sugar and cocoa powder, mix until combined sugar is dissolved
  8. Carefully pour the sauce mix over the back of a spoon onto the top of the pudding batter. The liquid should reach just under the lip of the ramekin
  9. Place the tray carefully into the oven and bake for approximately 15-20 minutes until the puddings have risen and the liquid has cooked through. The puddings should be soft to touch and spring back when touched.
  10. Remove from oven, allow to sit for 2 minutes and serve with cream or ice-cream and berries
  11. Enjoy!

Let Them Eat Cake (birthday cake that is)

It was my boyfriends birthday recently and course we had to celebrate with cake! What is a birthday without cake after all! I have always enjoyed making birthday cakes for friends and family and watching their delight as everyone sings a song in their honour whilst embarrassing them with how off tune it all is. These days birthday cakes know no bounds as flights of fancy in icing have seen the rise of more and more creative baking feats achieved. I prefer to make simple cakes but I do enjoy the fruits of other peoples labour don’t worry! For this birthday as Davin loves cheesecake and chocolate what better way to combine the two to celebrate his day than this chocolate cheesecake recipe.

This recipe was given to me by my sous chef at Il Centro Brian. He has cooked this for his lady and her friends and due to their rapturous response deemed this recipe a winner. From the response of Davin and his family and my own enjoyment, I’d have to agree. His version has white chocolate but I am more of a milk/dark chocolate fan so went with that. Traditionally cheesecakes are either baked or set with gelatine but the addition of butter plus the chocolate to this recipe allows it to set firm in the fridge without the use of gelatine. This is particularly handy if you don’t have gelatine on hand or don’t use it often enough to buy for one cake. Feel free to stir through some berries of chocolate chips or whatever ingredients take your fancy to make it your own.

Chef’s Notes:

– A food processor makes turning the biscuits into crumbs easier by far but if you don’t have one there is the old fashioned way that my mother and I used to do which is put the biscuits in a bag and crush with a rolling pin or meat hammer until crumbly. I recommend this method after a stressful day.

– A springform pan is the one where there is a leverish catch in the side with releases the band away from the base. This is to allow easy release of the cake from the pan, especially as it quite delicate and flipping it out as per a normal cake may cause it to break. If you don’t have one of these tins, ensure you line a cake tin with baking paper and ensure you have a long piece of paper that overlaps the side of the pan to lift the cake out

– With baked cheesecakes the base is baked for a few minutes before being left to cool. This is to ensure the base doesn’t melt back into the mix when baking, a step no necessary with cold set cheesecakes

– If you can’t find mascarpone, ricotta will suffice. The addition of the mascarpone adds a little tartness and a lighter creaminess than just cream cheese by itself

So, without further ado, the ingredients:

100g sugar

200g chocolate (white, milk or dark)

300ml pure cream

200g marscapone

250g cream cheese

100g butter

200g biscuits of your choice (arrowroot, chocolate, ginger snap)

2 teas sp vanilla

Method:

1. Melt chocolate and 30g of butter together and stir until combined

2. Process biscuits until fine crumb. Melt remaining butter and mix through biscuits until evenly coated.

3. Line spring form tin with baking paper to ensure clean release and press biscuit mix into base of spring form tin until even. Place in fridge for at least 15 minutes until firm.

4. Whip sugar and cream cheese together, add cream and whip together. Fold together with mascapone, add melted butter and chocolate mix  and stir through gently.

5. Pour on top of biscuit base and cool until firm, approximately 2-3 hours or overnight

6.  Decorate as desired – I used freckles or you could use strawberries, berries, crumbled chocolate or biscuits, whatever you fancy

7. Cut a big slice, sit down and enjoy every bite!

Nutella and Strawberry = French Toast Delicious

IMOK_finished strawberry dish

I have to attribute this idea to a pinterest post I found when lying in bed trying not to salivate as I explored some recipe inspiration. Her blog is found on navywifecook.com and is rather cute and interesting to explore. 

So the recipe. Essentially Nutella French Toast….I had you at Nutella right? My last post was about classic food combinations, I forgot to mention chocolate and just about anything right? Especially hazelnuts thus the love of nutella. French toast is usually one piece of bread dipped in egg and milk/cream mix and fried in a pan but this recipe calls for two slices and a healthy dollop of nutella in between. Irresistible right? Add some delicious strawberries and we have dessert deliciousness.

IMOK_ strawberryingredients

Ingredients (serves four)

3 eggs

1/3 cup milk

2 tbsp vanilla extract

3 tbsp sugar

8 slices bread

nutella

butter for frying (1-2 tbsp)

Method

Whisk egg and milk together until combined

Add sugar and vanilla to egg mix and combine

Cut crusts off bread and spread with nutella

Sandwich two slices together nutella side facing

Warm a frying pan to medium heat and melt 1 teaspoon butter per sandwich

Dip bread in egg mix and fry in pan approx 1-2 min each side until golden

Remove from pan and keep warm under low heat oven grill or by wrapping in foil until all sandwiches are cooked

Cut in half and serve with quartered strawberries and dust with icing sugar

Take a bite and enjoy the gooey hazelnutty chocolately toasty goodness. You can tell I enjoy this recipe right? 😉

IMOK_strawberries IMOK_cooking bread IMOK_finished strawberry dish

Chocolate Fondant Pudding

It was my turn to do dessert again and chocolate fondant was the dessert of the day at work so I thought, why not make some for home too? Mmmm….What is chocolate fondant you ask? Well it is a hot chocolate pudding that has a sumptuous melting middle of chocolatey gooeyness. Now who wouldn’t want that?! For a little special twist instead of just using cream or ice-cream on the side I used marscapone and raspberries. Delicious!

Some notes:

– Marscapone is an Italian cream cheese found in the cottage/cream cheese section of the dairy aisle

– Fondants are supposed to be quite runny in the middle so ensure you cook for time given as a few minutes more will cook the pudding through – not a big drama but not really the point of the dessert.

– Ensure you grease the moulds well as the puddings need to slip out easily as if they catch and burst the runny middle will spill out spoiling the surprise – gentle hands also help!

– You can add some instant coffee for a mocha twist

– Brushing butter upwards in a mould creates tracks for the mix to cling to when it rises thus the upwards strokes ensure the batter clings up evenly not to the side and over the top!

The Recipe

200 g dark chocolate – the better the quality the better the dessert – i use Lindt cooking chocolate

200 g butter softened and cut into cubes

200 g caster sugar

4 eggs

4 egg yolks

200 g plain flour

Directions:

1 Grease the moulds for the pudding and coat with cocoa powder or flour for easily removal. Ensure your brush with upward strokes to ensure the puddings rise evenly

2 Place a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, add the butter and chocolate and allow to melt, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat when fully melted, stir to combine and allow to cool for five minutes

3 Whisk the eggs and yolks together with the sugar until mixture becomes thick and pale,  sift the flour into the eggs, beat mix together.

4 Pour the melted butter and chocolate into the egg mixture in increments beating well between each addition until the all the mix is in and the mixture is completely combined. It willl be slightly runny

5 Pour the mix into the moulds evenly and allow to chill for at least half an hour up to 24 hours in advance. The chilling process assists with creating the crusty outside and gooey inside by keeping the inside of the mix cool whilst the outside cooks

6 Bake the mix for ten minutes until the top is firm and the mix starts to come away from the sides of the moulds. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for one minute before gently turning it out on the plate.

7 To make raspberry marscapone cream whisk some icing sugar into the cream and then gently fold through the raspberries. If fresh raspberries aren’t available I defrost frozen raspberries on paper towel which works just as well.

8 Serve cream to the side with the puddings and enjoy!

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