22 May 2014

Black Forest Cake - Recipe

Our first cherries this year
Some days it's easy to misjudge how long things are going to take and I didn't allow enough time to make my cake, hence the Black Forest cake is a 'little messy' on the sides of the cake. Once the cream was 'set'  I couldn't clean up the outside of the cake.  On the positive side I don't want my cakes to look as though they have come off a production line - I like the homely side of baking.

There are quite a few stages to making the finished cake and lot's of kitchen equipment is used, which equals loads of washing up, the dishwasher was definitely my best friend when I made this cake.

First stage is the chocolate base which wasn't chocolatey enough but I have allowed for this in the recipe below.  Second stage is a chocolate layer which is spread over the sponge cake.  Third stage is to puree a half a jar of sugar free cherry jam,  I used half a jar of Cerises Griottes, Montmorency Cherries which was a purchase from Le Pain Quotidien, and spread this over the set chocolate, third stage is to make a set cream topping, fourth stage is to make chocolate shards.

I was brought up on frozen Black Forest Gateaux(which I loved at the time) and this cake is thankfully on another level.......

The tin needs to be lined so the cake can be easily lifted out
Dark Belgian Chocolate is melted and spread over the upturned sponge cake
At last I got round to using the jar of jam that has been sitting in my store cupboard
Cherries from my greengrocer and quickly made shards of dark Belgian chocolate
The chocolate sponge layer was a bit shy of that lovely chocolate taste
but this cake is amazingly delicious
You will need:  20cm square baking tin lined with baking parchment - the lining paper needs to come 5cm above the tin to enable the cooked sponge to be lifted out of the tin.

For the cake
3 Eggs
100g Caster Sugar
75g Plain Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
25g Cocoa Powder

Fruit Layer
Half a jar of unsweetened Morello Cherry Jam
1 tbsp either Kirsch or Brandy

Chocolate Layer
70g Dark Belgian Chocolate (I used Waitrose)

Cream Topping
2 tbsp Kirsch or Brandy
5 tbsp Icing Sugar
2 Gelatine Leaves
200ml Whipping or Double Cream

1.  Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
2.  Beat the eggs and sugar together until a whisk leaves a trail.
3.  Sift over the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder and fold in gently.
4.  Pour the batter into the baking tin and bake for 30 minutes. Cool in the tin.
5.  Remove the cooled cake from the tin by holding the baking paper.
6.  Place the cake onto a plate.  Melt the chocolate carefully over a pan of simmering water.
7.  Pour the melted chocolate over the sponge and leave to set.  Place in the fridge to harden.
8.  Puree half a jar of cherry jam with a tablespoon of kirsch or brandy and carefully spread over the set chocolate.
9.  To make the cream: put the kirsch into a small saucepan with the sieved icing sugar and place on a gentle heat.  Soak the leaf gelatine as per the manufacturers instructions. Whilst the pan is still on a gentle heat, add the soaked gelatine and stir to dissolve in the kirsch/brandy and icing sugar mixture.  Whisk the cream to the floppy stage and fold in the gelatine mixture.  Spread the cream over the pureed jam.
10. Make the chocolate shards.  Once the shards have been made place them into the freezer - because they are so thin they can be difficult to handle.
11. Decorate the cream with cherries and the chocolate shards.
12. Eat and enjoy - best served with some runny double cream.

14 May 2014

Mortimer Chocolate Company - Chocolate Powder Review

The award winning pure chocolate powder from the Mortimer Chocolate Company is free from milk, fats and additives.  Their white couverture powder with natural vanilla is dairy, soya and gluten free.  The powders are sourced from several different countries.

The dark chocolate powders are really versatile and they can be used in cakes, desserts, sauces or piped and you can even make a fabulous hot chocolate drink.

Using the white couverture powder is a dairy free alternative to white chocolate and can be used in most white chocolate recipes.

Delicious Mini Chocolate Muffins
The Mortimer website have some fabulous recipes to try but I used a recipe of my own.  To get used to using these products I'd recommend using the tried and tested recipes on their website, they all sound delicious and their Gorgeous Chocolate Brownies recipe is next on my 'to bake' list.

I made some mini muffins using the dark chocolate powder and in my haste added it as a dry ingredient instead of mixing the powder into the melted butter which would have produced a dark chocolate muffin. The muffins were still delicious though and had flecks of chocolate powder running through them together with some dark chocolate chips. I also melted the chocolate powder and as if by magic it turns into a liquid which I then piped onto the cooled muffins.

The white couverture powder when melted is very thin and when it cools down it thickens but you need to keep a watchful eye if you use it to pipe, as I did, because I left it too long and then struggled to pipe my decorations.

Note:  The powders can be melted gently over a bain marie for piping.  I have an induction hob which makes life very easy for melting chocolate because I am able to place the powder directly into a pan and it melts very gently.

These are sustainable products, rich in cocoa solids, free from and best of all, they taste delicious too.

Mortimer Chocolate Company is a family business and started in 2006. The products can be purchased online or their West African Dark Chocolate Powder can be purchased nationwide from Sainsbury's price £3.80.

Disclosure:  I was sent the above products, all thoughts are my own and I wasn't asked to write a positive review.

Thank you for the delicious review samples.

If you enjoyed reading this post, please like and share.

11 May 2014

Readly App - Tablet Magazines Review

A screenshot showing some of the magazine titles available
Readly is a new magazine app which has just been launched here in the UK, described as Spotify for magazines.  I have recently been asked to take a look at the app and I'm really impressed with the quality and just how quick and easy it is to use.

The app can be used on Android, iOS, Windows 8 and Kindle Fire tablets. There are 4,195 issues, 418 magazines, including back issues, for a one months subscription of £9.99 - the app will work on up to 5 devices using the one subscription fee.

I buy magazine subscriptions and enjoy leisurely flicking through the pages. I have to admit though, I'd like to see my house free from the pile of magazines that linger just because I can't bring myself to throw them away.

I'm used to reading my favourite brands magazines online but reading my favourite magazines on a tablet is a new and convenient way to access them. Some fabulous food magazines on the Readly app to keep me happy are Delicious, GoodtoKnow Recipes, Woman and Home Feel Good Food, Great British Food, Healthy Food and TimeOut.  I love reading home and garden magazines and now I have been able to access these too. At the time of writing however, there aren't any BBC Magazines and I would miss Olive and Good Food Magazine.

Screenshot showing thumbnails of pages
The app is available in the US and Sweden and it is possible to access these magazines too.  A feature I particularly like is being able to access back issues. To start reading all you have to do is tap on the magazine and almost instantly it opens. There is a drop down categories menu, the magazines load quickly, you can favourite magazines and bookmark pages for specific recipes. The magazines can be downloaded and you can read them when there isn't an internet connection.

I've found myself looking at magazines I never knew existed - I've been reading Super Yacht World, the photography is outstanding and I've put in a request to hubby that I fancy the yacht with it's own hellipad, two Vespa scooters and two Harleys and I must mention it looks as though it comes with a matching helicopter!  This amazing luxury magazine is definitely my new favourite.

Hubby has been quietly flicking through the pages of What Digital Camera, What Car? What Hi-Fi, Classic & Sports Car and Golf Monthly - I noticed it didn't take him long to favourite some of the titles.

More magazines are coming to the app soon.  Readly have a two weeks free trial on their website.

Disclosure:  I was sent a months free subscription, all thoughts are my own.

3 May 2014

Coffee Crunch Bars - Recipe

Coffee Crunch Bars
I love coffee and cake and these small crunchy bites were a fabulous accompaniment to my mid- morning latte.  If I was able to choose one of these cakes in a coffee shop I'd be more than delighted.  The sponge layer is light and the coffee and spiced crunchy topping is drizzled with an espresso icing.

I buy espresso powder for baking but it can also be used in chilli con carne for richness, depth of flavour and colour.

Makes: 18

You will need:  18cm shallow square tin base and sides lined with baking parchment paper

For the cake:
55g Stork
100g Caster Sugar
1 egg
5 tbsp thick natural yogurt (if there is any whey place into a fine sieve to drain off the whey)
125g self raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
½ tsp vanilla extract

85g plain flour
70g unsalted butter
½ tsp ground mixed spice
1½ tsp espresso powder
70g caster sugar
pinch of salt

85g icing sugar
1 tbsp made espresso coffee

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
2. Make the topping - into a bowl place the flour and butter into a bowl and rub the butter into the flour to resemble fine breadcrumbs.  Stir in the mixed spice, coffee and caster sugar.  Put on one side.
3. Make the sponge - add all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix for 2 minutes.
4. Pour the cake batter into the base of the prepared tin and level.
5. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the batter.
6. Bake for 35 minutes and test by inserting a skewer into the centre of the cake, if it comes out clean the cake is cooked.
7. Transfer the cooked tin to a cooling rack.  When the cake has cooled down - remove by holding onto the baking paper and placing on the cooling rack until completely cold.  When cold carefully remove the baking paper.
8. To make the icing - place the icing sugar into a bowl, gradually add the coffee.  If the mixture is too thick add a little water.
9. Place the cooled cake onto a board, cut into 18 pieces and drizzle over the icing.  Leave to set.

More recipe ideas using espresso powder
Cappuccino Cupcakes
Coffee Cappuccino Creams with Cream and Sweet Coffee Sauce

Ora Kitchen Towels - Review

I loved receiving a personalised Ora kitchen towel -
the perfect introduction to an innovative product
Have you seen these Ora kitchen towel stacks before? Have you come across a round kitchen towel before? Neither had I until I was asked if I would like to review a sample.

One of these stacks are the equivalent to two standard kitchen rolls and take up less space. They are easy to use and instead of unravelling a kitchen roll with two hands and tearing off a sheet, the Ora kitchen towel can be grabbed with one hand on the fold of the sheet. It's very clever how they are stacked and won't topple over.

I've successfully cleaned a few mirrors with the woven sheets and without chemicals - I cleaned the mirror with a wet towel and dried and shone to perfection with a dry Ora kitchen towel. The next chore was to clean the washing machine filter (not my favourite task) - the kitchen towel easily soaked up any water that escaped from the filter. The washing machine detergent draw was cleaned out quickly and efficiently and the towel stood up to the task without tearing.  Shoe cleaning was a doddle too.

I got a bit crafty and used my Ora kitchen towel as a serving plate for my Coffee Crunch Bars - all I did was to take a cake stencil and dust with cocoa powder - I was really pleased with my new food styling prop.

The stacks are made in Britain from design through to manufacture and are available in selected Tesco stores across the country rrp £1.89.

Disclosure:  I was sent the product for review, all thoughts are my own.

Thank you for the review sample.