Friday Food: Chocolate and Almond Biscotti

This week’s Friday Food, is one of my own favourites, by Rachel Allen. Recently I’ve had a real sweet tooth and one of my worst habits is that I can’t stop eating at any meal until I have had something sweet. These biscotti are amazingly low fat (I worked them out as 1.5 weight watchers points on the old plan) so make a nice sweet finish without too much damage to the waistline. They’re perfect for dunking in coffee and even better as a gift for the host at a party or Christmas.

Biscotti are baked twice, but don’t let that put you off, it only adds 15 minutes to the recipe and you never turn the oven off.

Ingredients: (Makes 12-20 biscotti)

  • 1 egg
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 125g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 75g roughly chopped dark chocolate
  • 50g whole almonds
  • the finely grated rind of one orange

Method:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Whisk your caster sugar and egg together until pale and mousse-like.

Fold in the dry ingredients gently.

Flour your hands and a surface then scoop out the loose dough mixture and shape it into a flattened log.

Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar before putting in to the oven (you may want to do this bit on the baking tray you intend to cook them on as it is quite soft.)

Bake for 20 minutes then remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes.

Take a serrated bread knife and slice the biscotti (at an angle looks nice,) into 2cm wide slices.

Place them back onto the baking tray, on their sides and bake for a further 5 minutes on each side, turning in between.

Cool on a wire rack. (If you’re feeling really fancy, then you can half dip the biscotti in chocolate for a more indulgent treat.)

For this batch, I had some pecans I wanted to use up so threw them in too, and I used milk chocolate as I had it in the house, instead of dark. Mine are also a little under done here, but still tasted fantastic and crisped up nicely. The recipe can take a bit of messing – people will be so impressed when you say these are home made!

Buon Appetito!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

*Recipe taken from Rachel’s Food for Friends – Read more about the book and my other favourite cookery books here.

Friday Food: Hummingbird Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake

Readers, if you are easily offended by images of oozing caramel, stiff chocolate ganache and crumbly moist chocolate cake, then look away now.

This post is basically food porn. 😉

So, one of the best things about birthdays is surely the cake, right? And in my family it has become somewhat of a tradition to make extravagant celebration cakes for any occasion going. When I say family, I really mean, Pete and I’s little family, but my sister happens to also be a baking obsessive and it was she who bestowed on me this tower of chocolate and caramel culinary pleasure.

I’ve asked Francesca to write it up herself as this was not a cake without trauma, you’ll notice the cake is not, ahem, perfect visually, (although could anything be more perfect than that caramel ooze as it crumbles slightly?) but let me tell you, it was melt in the mouth good. It was certainly a tricky one to make but I can now from experience tell you that if you want to make someone feel loved because of the sheer effort you put into something, this is the cake for you. Over to Francesca…

Hummingbird Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake (taken from The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days by Tarek Malouf)
Serves: 12 (Actually serves 16 comfortably as it’s so rich)
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes

For the sponge:
300g unsalted butter, softened
300g caster sugar
140g soft light brown sugar
3 eggs
100g cocoa powder
160ml buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla essence
330g (11½oz) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt

For the salty caramel:
200g caster sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
120ml double cream
60ml soured cream
1 tsp fine sea salt
For the frosting:
200g caster sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
360 ml double cream
450g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), chopped, plus extra to decorate
450g unsalted butter, softened
Sea salt flakes, for sprinkling

Method
1. First make the salty caramel. In a small saucepan bring the sugar and golden syrup to the boil with 60ml (2fl oz) of water, allowing the mixture to boil for about 10 minutes, during which time it should become quite syrupy and a rich caramel colour.
2. Put the double cream, soured cream and salt in a separate pan and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat. The salt should completely dissolve in the cream.
3. When the sugar syrup is ready, remove it from the heat and carefully add the hot cream. It will bubble up as you pour in the cream, but smooth out again quickly after that, becoming a creamier golden colour. Pour the caramel into a small bowl and set it aside to cool while you make the frosting.
4. In a small, clean saucepan, bring the caster sugar and golden syrup to the boil with 60 millilitres of water, again letting this boil for approximately 10 minutes or until it is syrupy and caramel-coloured.
5. In a separate pan, bring the double cream to the boil. Carefully pour the hot cream into the caramel: as before, it will bubble up, but settle again shortly afterwards. Set this caramel aside to cool slightly.
6. Once it has cooled, add the chopped chocolate, stirring constantly while the chocolate melts. Using a hand-held electric whisk, mix the frosting for about 10 minutes or until the bottom of the bowl feels cool.
7. Add the butter to the chocolate caramel frosting and whisk together until the mixture is light and looks slightly whipped. Place the frosting in the fridge to cool and set for 40–50 minutes while you make the sponge.
8. Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3, and line the bases of the sandwich tins with baking parchment.
9. Using a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment, or a hand-held electric whisk, cream together the butter and both types of sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl.
10. In a jug stir together the cocoa powder, buttermilk and vanilla essence with 60 millitres of water to form a thick paste. Sift together the remaining sponge ingredients, then add these in stages to the creamed butter and sugar, alternating with the cocoa powder paste and mixing thoroughly on a low-to-medium speed until all the ingredients are incorporated.
11. Divide the batter between the three prepared cake tins and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the top of each sponge feels springy to the touch. Allow the sponges to cool slightly in their tins before turning out on to a wire rack and cooling completely before assembling.
12. Once the sponges feel cold to the touch, place one on a plate or cake card and top with approximately two tablespoons of the salty caramel, smoothing it over the sponge using a palette knife. Top the caramel layer with three to four tablespoons of the frosting and smooth it out as before.
13. Continue this process, sandwiching together the other two sponges with the remaining salty caramel and a layer of frosting and leaving enough frosting to cover the sides and top of the cake. To finish, decorate the top with chopped chocolate and a light sprinkling of the sea salt flakes.

After recently tasting Hotel Chocolate’s salted caramel chocolates I couldn’t resist making this cake as a birthday treat for Rebecca. I’ll warn you immediately it should come with a health warning for the vast quantities of terribly bad, (but delicious) ingredients! I’ll also admit it isn’t a particularly straightforward cake to bake, so clear a morning/afternoon to dedicate yourself to the task! I can however fully vouch for the end result being completely worth the effort!

I started by making the caramel which went without a hitch for the first batch. The second batch I took my eye off for what seemed like a second and I was suddenly surrounded by smoke and a billowing pan of black liquid!
Therefore top tip number one – watch your caramel very carefully! Let it boil gently at a medium heat and be patient.

I found I needed rather a large bowl for mixing the caramel, chocolate and butter to make the frosting – the bigger the better as you’ll end up with a whopping 1.5 litres of it! I think you could afford to make two thirds of the quantitiy and there’d still be plenty. I did have fun with the left over caramel and chocolate frosting though – The frosting sets to a truffle-like consistenty when left in the fridge for a few hours, so I pinched out cherry sized balls from the mix, rolled it into small balls and drizzled the left over reheated caramel over the top to make very simple truffles. Yum!

Although I love dark chocolate, If I made this cake again, I think I would substitue some of the dark chocolate for milk – maybe 300g dark to 150g milk (I like using galaxy in baking) just to make it a bit lighter. But that is entirely personal preference!

The cake mix is the most straightforward part of the cake and of all the mixes I’ve had the perk of licking out of the bowl, this was the best! The cake does come out quite crumbly though so I would use baking parchment and be careful taking it out of the tin in order to keep it in one piece.

Finally, by reheating the chocolate frosting in the microwave for 30 seconds before assembling the cake, it makes the frosting smooth on far more easily when you do the egdes and top.
Good luck and I guarantee you’ll enjoy the end product!

I think I need a lie down… feel free to leave inappropriate comments about the awesomeness that is this cake. I won’t judge you.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Friday Food: Ruth’s Real Jaffas

When Ruth got in touch with me recently offering a recipe for Florence’s Friday food I immediately looked through her suggestions and was totally over excited about this home-made jaffa cake recipe.

Home made I hear you say? Is that not a bit of a faff? Well, I’m a big fan of the humble jaffa and in general anything made from scratch is better than the shop bought version. However it might have just been the fabulous imagery of the orange jelly and thick chocolate that swung it… either way, Thanks Ruth!

Hello fellow Florence readers, Ruth here from Crafty Little Maker! Following Rebecca’s deliciously chocolaty cake recipe last week I’ve decided to continue with a recipe for another *slightly* unhealthy weekend treat. I found the recipe for homemade Jaffa Cakes by Simon Rimmer on the BBC Food website and they are much more satisfying than just picking up a packet from the shop.

Ingredients
Makes 12

135g packet orange jelly
1 tablespoon orange marmalade
125ml boiling water
2 eggs
50g caster sugar
50g plain flour
Butter for greasing
200g dark chocolate

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180C and grease the cake tray with the butter.
2. Chop the jelly into small pieces then mix with the marmalade and boiling water until the jelly has dissolved.
3. Pour the mixture into a large dish to form a 1cm layer of jelly then transfer to the fridge to set.
4. Meanwhile, beat the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy then sift the flour into the mixture and combine.

5. Divide the mixture between the 12 wells in the cake tin and bake in the oven for 10 minutes until cooked through. Once cooked leave in the tray to cool.
6. Once the jelly has set cut 12 small discs and place one on top of each cooled cake.
7. Bring a pan of water to boil. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and allow to melt in a heatproof bowl over the water.
8. With the cakes still in the tray, pour over the melted chocolate and allow to set before eating.

These didn’t last long in my house so they must have been good… have fun making them!

Ruth x
(Crafty Little Maker)

Friday Food: Brooklyn Blackout Cake

You can all breathe a sigh of relief! It’s the end of January and so I thought we all deserved (at least a picture of) a big piece of chocolate cake!

I also decided to post this particular recipe as it’s one of the cakes I’ve made for the cake table this evening at Pete’s birthday party, at his request. We have a tradition now of him leafing through the The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbookand choosing his own cake. This one is pretty spectacular and although I would have liked mine to turn out taller, it’s still very impressive. A must for chocolate fanatics or anyone just wishing to celebrate the end of January! 😉


Image Credit: Zoe Bakes.

Ingredients:
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
260g caster sugar
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
45g cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
170g plain flour
160 ml whole milk

For the chocolate custard:
500g caster sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
125g cocoa powder
200g cornflour
85g unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 x 20cm cake tins, base-lined with greaseproof paper

Steps:
1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees celcius (Gas 3)

2. Put the butter and sugar in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or a handheld electric whisk)
and cream until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl
with a rubber spatula after each addition.
Turn the mixer down down to slow speed and beat in the vanilla extract, cocoa powder,
baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt until well mixed.
Add half the flour, then all the milk, and finish with the remaining flour.
Mix well until everything is well combined.

3. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tins and smooth over with a palette knife.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 mins.
Leave the cakes to cool slightly in the tins
before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

4. For the chocolate custard: Put the sugar, golden syrup, cocoa powder and 600ml of water
into a large saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally.

5. Mix in the cornflour with 120ml of water, then whisk into the cocoa mixture in the saucepan.
Bring back to boil , whisking constantly.
Cook until very thick, about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla extract.
Pour the custard into a bowl, cover with clingfilm and chill until very firm.

6. When the cakes are cold, using a serrated knife, slice a thin layer off one of the cakes.
Put this layer into a food processor and process to make fine crumbs.
Put one cake on a cake stand and spread about one-quarter of the chocolate custard over it with a palette knife.
Place a second cake on top and spread another quarter of the custard over it.
Top with the last cake and spread the remaining custard over the top and sides.
Cover with the cake crumbs and chill for about 2 hours.

How much do you just want to shove your face in that?

Birthdays are the best 🙂

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Friday Food – Nigella’s Chocolate Guinness cake

This morning, I am shamelessly beginning the Friday Christmas Food series… as Christmas is so much about food, there may be a couple of extra food posts coming your way between now and Christmas, and I really want you guys to get involved. If you have perhaps the perfect cranberry sauce, the best truffles, Christmas pudding, your gran’s best roasts, even a Christmas cocktail or ways to use up the turkey after the big day, please please do send them in – I can supply images, we just need you guys to share the wealth of knowledge in the Florence Finds community! 🙂 Send them to hello@florencefinds.com and mark the subject box with Friday Food.

This week’s Friday Food comes to you courtesy of Bex from the The Olive Dragonfly who road tested a new Nigella recipe and deemed it worthy of sharing… you won’t be disappointed by this one!

Hi Florence Findettes!  Bex here with my usual excessive use of exclamation marks from the comments!  (Sorry, it’s how I actually speak, I’m very over-excitable in real life too!  Feel free to edit them out Rebecca!) and I am super excited that December is finally here and hope to tantalise your taste buds with this yummy Nigella Lawson recipe for my ultimate winter comfort food – cake!

So here is the most amazingly Chocolatey Guinnessy cake in the world, Nigella’s Chocolate Guinness Cake.  Hubby says it’s the best cake I’ve ever made.  It was super moist and soft and bouncy and delicious.  The major bonus for me was the icing, my all time favourite – cream cheese!  I have made it before for Red Velvet cupcakes but the twist here is adding double cream and Oh My God, it makes it even more yummy!  I did find the icing quantity a tad too much (which I often do with cake recipes) even though I love it, so I just stored a couple of tablespoons of it in the fridge – leading to inevitable eating with a spoon later, you may just want to adjust the quantity you make instead and save the extra added inches to the waistline!


Image credit: DesignSponge.com

Ingredients:

    • 250ml Guinness
    • 250g unsalted butter
    • 75g cocoa
    • 400g caster sugar
    • 1 x 142ml pot sour cream
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
    • 275g plain flour
    • 2 1/2teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
    • 300g Philadelphia cream cheese

 Method:

  • 125ml double or whipping cream
  • Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C, and butter and line a 23cm springform tin.
  • Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter – in spoons or slices – and heat until the butter’s melted, at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the brown, buttery, beery pan and finally whisk in the flour and bicarb.
  • Pour the cake batter into the greased and lined tin and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.
  • When the cake’s cold, sit it on a flat platter or cake stand and get on with the icing. Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sieve over the icing sugar and then beat them both together. Or do this in a processor, putting the unsieved icing sugar in first and blitz to remove lumps before adding the cheese.
  • Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency. Ice the top of the black cake so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint.


Image credit: Bex at www.olivedragonfly.blogspot.com for Florence Finds

I made it exactly as stated (I used the food processor technique for the icing, so much quicker, easier AND I didn’t end up covered in icing sugar like usual!), it needed 55 minutes in my oven and was cooked perfectly.  The edge was slightly crispy which I love but the whole cake was moist – not dry at the edges like some cakes I’ve baked before!

It went down a treat at work and hubby was popular too since he took a chunk in to theatre with him for the nurses.  I am actually making another one today (Thursday) to take down south with us to see my brother and the in-laws this weekend!  What can I say, I love compliments!  😉

Bex

x

Find more of Bex at www.olivedragonfly.blogspot.com

 

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