Cook Chocolate!

Posted on: 05 March 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Three divinely chocolatey recipes, guaranteed to impress friends and family this Easter.

From the creamiest white chocolate to dark bitter cocoa powder, there’s a chocolate flavour for everyone.  Here are three divinely chocolatey recipes, guaranteed to impress friends and family this Easter.

Connoisseur Chocolate Truffles

Several of the leading chefs and chocolatiers have experimented with different flavours that go with the darkest of chocolates.  Here are two exciting flavours you might like to try on your friends.

Makes 30

Ingredients

2 Thai red chillies or a small bunch fresh basil
100ml (3½fl oz) double cream
30g (1oz) unsalted butter
180g (6oz) 85% cocoa dark chocolate
200g (7oz) plain chocolate
Small dark chocolate curls to decorate

Method

1. First prepare your chosen flavouring.  For the chilli: cut in half and carefully scrape out the seeds.  Roughly chop the flesh and place in a bowl.  For the basil: wash and pat dry, rip up the leaves and stalk and place in a bowl.

2. Pour the cream into a small saucepan and add the butter.  Heat gently to melt the butter and then pour this over your chosen flavouring and set aside to infuse until cool. 

3. Break the dark chocolate into small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water.  Allow to melt then remove from the water.  Strain the infused cream on to the melted chocolate and mix well.  Allow to cool until thick and fudgey.  Note: if allowed to set, this mixture will be too hard to pipe.

4. Meanwhile, melt the plain chocolate as above and remove from the water.  Drop small teaspoonfuls of the plain chocolate neatly on a large tray or board lined with baking parchment, and spread lightly to form discs about 4cm (1½in) in diameter.  Chill until set.

5. Transfer the chocolate ‘fudge’ to a piping bag fitted with a 1cm (½in) star nozzle.  Pipe a swirl on top of each chocolate disc and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Decorate each with a chocolate curl.

Small Dark Chocolate Curls

Use a thick bar of chocolate that’s been stored at room temperature.  Hold the chocolate over a large plate or board lined with baking parchment, and use a swivel-headed vegetable peeler to ‘peel’ firmly along the edge of the chocolate, allowing the curls to fall on the plate or parchment.  Place on a plate, lined with baking parchment and chill until required.

White Chocolate Celebration Cake

White Chocolate Celebration Cake

My sister-in-law Sarah is a great baker - much to the delight of my brother.  She baked this cake for my 40th birthday and it was truly delicious.  It makes a great alternative dessert.

Serves 10

Ingredients

125g (4oz) white chocolate
3 large egg whites
225g (7½oz) self-raising flour
180g (6oz) caster sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
180ml (6fl oz) whole milk
¾ tsp vanilla extract
90g (3oz) unsalted butter, melted
1 quantity Glossy white chocolate cream
Cocoa stencils to decorate

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4.  Grease and line a deep 20-cm (8-in) cake tin.  Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water.  Allow to melt, then remove from the water and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a large grease-free bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff but not dry and set aside.  Sift the flour, sugar and baking powder into another bowl.  Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk and add the vanilla extract and melted butter.  Whisk gently to form a thick batter, then stir in the melted chocolate.  Finally fold in the egg whites and pour into the prepared tin. 

3. Smooth the top and bake in the oven for about 50 minutes until golden, risen and firm to the touch.  Allow to cool in the tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from the tin and placing back on to the wire rack to cool completely.

4. When the cake is cool, slice the cake horizontally in two and spread half of the Glossy white chocolate cream thickly over one half of the cake.  Sandwich the cake together and spread the remaining cream thickly over the top.  Decorate with a cocoa stencil before serving.

Cocoa Stencils
If you’re lacking inspiration for a way to finish off the top of a cake, dessert or pie, this decoration is particularly good if you haven’t got the time to make an icing or you want to avoid too much sweetness and yet still add good chocolate flavour.  Lay a paper doily on top of the cake, dust lightly with cocoa powder and carefully remove the doily to reveal the patterned surface.  You could add a sprinkling of icing sugar as well, before or after the cocoa, to add highlights and a touch of sweetness.  You can use any sort of paper template you want, you could even make your own from baking parchment.

Glossy Chocolate Cream
Makes sufficient to cover 25-cm (10-in) round cake
200g (7oz) plain chocolate, broken into pieces
250ml (8fl oz) double cream, at room temperature

Place the chocolate pieces in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water and allow to melt.  Remove from the water and set aside to cool until slightly warm - about 30 minutes.

While whisking the chocolate, gradually pour in the cream, whisking until thickly whipped and glossy.  The mixture is now ready for spreading or piping.  Once chilled the mixture will set firm.

The cocoa content of the chocolate used will determine the sweetness of the chocolate cream, so choose a chocolate according to taste.  This recipe also works with milk and white chocolate.

Three Chocolate Terrine

Chocolate Terrine

Your friends will think this has taken you hours to prepare, when really it’s one of the easiest layered desserts I’ve come across.  It’s very rich, so serve it in thin slices.

Serves 8

Ingredients

125g (4oz) white chocolate
125g (4oz) milk chocolate
125g (4oz) 70% cocoa dark chocolate
Few drops vanilla extract
450ml (15fl oz) double cream, at room temperature
250g (8oz) fresh raspberries, to serve
1 quantity raspberry fruit sauce

Method

1. Line a 500-g (1-lb) loaf tin with clear food wrap.  Break the chocolate into pieces and place each type in a small heatproof bowl and melt over saucepans of barely simmering water.  Remove only the white chocolate from the water and add a few drops of vanilla extract.  Leave the other two bowls of chocolate on the water, but off the heat, to keep them molton.  Set aside.

2. Lightly whip the cream until just peaking and fold one third into the white chocolate.  Transfer to the prepared tin and smooth the surface.  Chill for about 30 minutes until firm.  While this is chilling, cover the cream and set aside in a cool place - try to avoid chilling it unless it is very warm.

3. When the white chocolate is set, mix half of the remaining cream with the melted milk chocolate and spread on top of the white chocolate until smooth.  Chill once more for about 30 minutes until firm.

4. Finally, remelt the dark chocolate if necessary.  Mix with the remaining cream and spread on top of the milk chocolate layer.  Smooth the surface, cover and chill for at least 4 hours until completely set.

5. To serve, invert the tin on to a serving plate and peel off the food wrap.  Arrange fresh raspberries around the edge of the terrine and serve in slices with the raspberry Fruit sauce.

You will find the chocolate and cream will stiffen considerably when mixed together, so try and keep the chocolate slightly warm and the cream at room temperature for even mixing and a smooth finished texture.

Raspberry Fruit Sauce
Makes approx. 550ml (18fl oz)
½ quantity plain Sugar syrup
250g (8oz) fresh raspberries, washed and prepared
1-2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice

Make the syrup and add the raspberries to the syrup before it cools.

Once cold, transfer to a blender or food processor and blend for a few seconds until smooth.  Strain through a nylon sieve to make a smooth sauce.  Add lemon or lime juice to taste.  Cover and chill until required.

Plain Sugar Syrup
Makes approx. 600ml (20fl oz)
350g (12oz) caster sugar
600ml (20fl oz) cold water

Chocolate! By Kathryn HawkinsPlace the sugar in a saucepan and pour in the water.  Heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.  Raise the heat and bring to the boil.  Simmer, without stirring, for 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

These three recipes are taken from Chocolate! written by food writer Kathryn Hawkins, and published by New Holland Publishers.  Chocolate! is available from all good bookshops priced £9.99 or from Amazon for £6.59.


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