28 Nov 2011

Jamie Oliver's Chocolate Love Cake with Cherries and Booze


Does the special person in your life like brownies? If so, you could make this Love Cake, a recipe from Jamie Oliver, especially for them. It has a squidgy brownie consistency, is dotted with cherries and has a boozy chocolate sauce poured over. The original recipe has crushed hazelnuts added but I like this dessert without.

Men often leave present buying until the last minute, and find it really difficult choosing presents. Why not be kind to him this Christmas and leave a list of ideas, this way at least you should get something you like. If you have a dish like mine, you can attach a craft label onto the handle with a list of your Christmas wishes!

You are possibly wondering if I have done this - the answer is no, I'm just trying to help!


The dessert is quite rich and very similar to a brownie in taste and texture. I served mine with some of the reserved chocolate sauce, and a dollop of creme fraiche, which cuts through the richness.

You will need: 9 or 10 inches ovenproof dish greased.

For the cake: 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 100g softened butter, 100g caster sugar, 1 egg, 100g self-raising flour, ½ tsp baking powder, ½ tin black cherries drained.

For the chocolate sauce: 25g butter, 142ml double cream, 75g dark chocolate broken into pieces, a splash of either brandy, rum, Amaretto or Baileys.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.
2. Mix the cocoa powder with a few tablespoons of boiling water and stir until the mixture is smooth.
3. In another bowl beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the cooled cocoa mixture, egg, flour and baking flour. Mix all together and pour into the ovenproof dish. Sprinkle over the cherries and bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
4. To check if the cake is ready, make sure it doesn't wobble too much then it's done, if not give it some more time in the oven.
5. To make the chocolate sauce: Place the butter in a small pan with the cream and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat and add the chocolate pieces to the pan. Give it all a good stir and leave for 5 minutes so the hot cream can melt the chocolate. Add a splash of either brandy, rum, Amaretto or Baileys and stir until thoroughly combined.
6. Once the cake is ready, pour over the warm chocolate sauce. Any sauce that is left will reheat in the microwave.

Good Luck!

23 Nov 2011

Gordon Ramsay's Apple & Pear Crumble Tart


A perfect tart for Christmas! With notes of ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg - apples, pears, a delicious layer of almond frangipane, crisp pastry and a crumble topping.

I'm not too happy about sweet pastry when you have lot's of sweetness in a recipe, it's just too much and sugar overload. A well made shortcrust pastry base, baked blind until crisp is my preferred method.

I can't see any reason why this tart shouldn't freeze successfully, it can be sliced into portions when it is fridge cold and then put in the freezer. It also heats up successfully in the microwave. The tart is a real winner and will feed a crowd too. Simply serve with ice cream or pouring cream.

Gordon Ramsay has given us some fabulous recipes for desserts and this apple, pear and almond frangipane tart with a crumble topping is amazing.

The recipe is what I call high faff but it can be made in stages to lighten the faff element. I used my dicing gadget to make perfect dice of apples and pears because my knife skills are too clumsy to do this and I would probably end up in A&E!


Serves: 8

You will need: 34cm x 11cm oblong tin greased.

Filling: 4 Braeburn apples peeled and diced, 4 pears peeled and diced, a large pinch of ground ginger and cinnamon, a grating of nutmeg, 25g butter, juice of half a lemon.

Crumble: 160g unsalted butter, 2tbsp soft brown sugar, 150g plain flour, 80g demerara sugar, 25g roasted chopped hazelnuts.

Almond Frangipane: 50g butter, 50g icing sugar, 1 egg, 10g flour, 50g ground almonds.

Pastry: 220g plain flour, 50g lard, 50g butter, 3tbsp cold water

1. For the pastry: Put the flour, lard and butter in a food processor, blitz until breadcrumbs, add the cold water and process until the mixture comes together. Tip onto cling film, form into a flattened circle. Cover with clingwrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
2. Roll out the pastry, line the tin and bake blind using Delia's method.
3. To make the frangipane: Cream the butter and icing sugar together, slowly mix in the egg, flour and ground almonds. Chill for 2 hours before using.
4. To make the filling: toss the diced fruit in lemon juice to stop them browning. Take the fruit and mix with the spices. Heat a knob of the butter until foaming, then add the fruit and toss for about 30 seconds. Add the soft brown sugar and cook until the fruit is soft, but not broken down. Cool.
5. To make the crumble: Rub the remaining butter into the flour and stir in the demerara sugar and hazelnuts. Fill the tart with the frangipane, then fruit, and top with the crumble mix.
6. Heat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°F/Gas 4. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

19 Nov 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes - Menier Cooking Chocolate

Menier sent me a brochure with some wonderful ideas for using their chocolate including a recipe for Braised Venison with Autumn Vegetables and Chocolate Sauce, Curried Lamb Stew with Bitter Chocolate and White Chocolate Raspberry and Lime Drizzle Cake. They are encouraging us to be more experimental and creative with chocolate in our home cooking but I was drawn like a magnet to my gold foil cupcake cases and edible glitter!


The chocolate melted easily, my method is to put the chocolate into a basin, place over a pan of gently simmering water. Remove the pan from the heat and let the chocolate melt over the residual heat. This ensures the chocolate melts without overheating.

Cooking chocolate doesn't necessarily mean good eating chocolate but these bars of chocolate are very impressive. My husband particularly liked the white chocolate which surprised me because usually he prefers either dark or milk chocolate. I now wish I had put a thicker layer of chocolate on top of the cupcakes because it tasted so good.

A few fascinating facts regarding the brand: Menier was founded in 1816, making it the oldest brand in the world. Their expertise guarantees its chocolate has the best flavour, as it has been ground for longer than standard cooking chocolate to make the texture smoother and the taste better.

They were the first company to introduce blocks of chocolate and prides itself on being the number one dark chocolate brand in the cooking chocolate market. The dark chocolate contains 70% cocoa.

Menier chocolate is available in major supermarkets nationwide with a RRP of £1.19.

Thank you Emma.

13 Nov 2011

Christmas Individual Fruit and Grand Marnier Trifles

These trifles are easily put together and all you need is a bag of frozen berries from the freezer and you are part way to assembling a delicious trifle. The recipe is fairly low fat but is easily tweaked, bought custard can be used instead of making it yourself, also whipped cream can be used instead of the yogurt. Mr W and I enjoyed this low fat trifle and surprisingly didn't miss using cream for the topping.

The original recipe was fruit overload (as in the photograph), and in this instance you can definitely have too much of a good thing. You can never have too much Grand Marnier though.

Serves: 4

For the custard:
3 free-range egg yolks, 25g caster sugar, 1dsp cornflour, 300ml semi-skimmed milk, dash vanilla extract.

For the trifle:
4 slices of Madeira cake or trifle sponges, 4 tablespoons Grand Marnier, 200g mixed half thawed frozen berries, 200g Organic Greek Style Yogurt, 3tbsp sifted icing sugar, 1tsp vanilla extract, few extra berries to decorate.

1. For the custard: mix together the egg yolks with the caster sugar and cornflour. Heat the milk in a pan and when it is hot stir into the egg mixture, then pour into a clean saucepan and stir over a moderate heat until thickened. Add the vanilla extract, pour into a bowl and cover the clingfilm to prevent a skin forming, leave to cool.
2. Put the cake slices in the bottom of each glass, then drizzle over the liqueur. Divide the berries between them, then whisk the custard again and spoon over the berries and cake. In a separate bowl, mix together the yogurt, sugar and vanilla then spoon over the top. Leave in the fridge for the flavours to get to know each other. Decorate with a few extra berries.

1 Nov 2011

Christmas Chocolate Cupcakes


It's coming up to that time of year again! These happy little men are surrounded by snow and a dusting of silver glitter.

The cream cheese frosting makes a welcome change from the usual buttercream and pipes really well. If you find the frosting is a little soft just pop it into the fridge covered for a few minutes to firm up. Don't be tempted to use anything other than full fat cream cheese, I used Philadelphia, or you won't be able to pipe the swirls.

Makes: 12 cupcakes

You will need: a twelve hole muffin tin lined with muffin cases.

For the cupcakes:

100g self raising flour, 125g softened butter, 125g caster sugar, 2 medium eggs, 2 tablespoons milk, 3 level tablespoons cocoa powder

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. In a bowl beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and milk, fold in the sifted flour and cocoa powder until the mixture is smooth.
3. Divide the mixture between the cases and bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes until cooked.
4. Cool in the tins for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting


200g Philadelphia Full Fat Cream Cheese at room temperature, 400g sifted icing sugar, 70g softened butter.

1. Simply mix all the ingredients together until light and fluffy.
2. Pipe swirls on top of the cupcakes.