Saturday, 25 February 2012

We Should Cocoa: Mushroom and Stilton Tatin with Chocolate & Port Sauce

This month's We Should Cocoa is hosted by Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog. Last month's incredibly healthy round up by Chele at Chocolate Teapot can be found here.

Choclette has challenged us to create something savoury that includes chocolate. And then raised the gambit by stating that it had to be vegetarian. Only around 50% of our meals contain meat but pairing most of the vegetarian meals I have cooked in the past with chocolate... Well... They just wouldn't work.

I looked around for savoury recipes involving chocolate and I got wave upon wave of roasted venison loins, slow cooked meaty chillis and bacon. Bacon dipped in chocolate. The true earthy nature of chocolate seemed to lend itself to those meaty, rich flavours. Pairing chocolate with celery or cucumber wasn't going to work for what I had planned. Pairing it with strong blue cheese and meaty nutty mushrooms and rich port, however did.

1 large onion
250gr chestnut mushroom
100ml port (or red wine)
20gr dark chocolate
200gr Stilton
1 sheet of ready rolled puff pastry (you won't need all of this)

1, Preheat your oven to 200o/c.
2, Slice the onions (See N.B) and cook in 1tbsp of olive oil and a small pinch of sea salt over a medium low heat until they just loose their rigidity. Crank up the heat and stir in the mushrooms and cook them until they are just cooked and starting to go golden.
3, Pour in the port and grate in the chocolate and simmer until the sauce has thickened so it just coats the onions and mushrooms.
4, Crumble half the stilton into a pie dish, trying to keep it chunky and add the cooked onion and mushrooms. Leave this too cool a little or we'll be heading for soggy pastry.
5, Unroll and trim your puff pastry to fit the pie dish and snuggle the edges down the sides. Bake for 10 minutes until the pastry is golden and puffed up.
6, Invert onto a plate, crumble on the rest of the Stilton, cut and serve.

N.B - I'm lucky I got this one out. If you lose the guard on your mandolin, don't use it. I currently am missing a couple millimetres off the tip (and a portion of my nail bed) thanks to my own stupidity. It didn't hurt as much as I thought it would but it bled. Heavily. (Luckily, I'm assured by the triage nurse that it'll grow back! I'm like a starfish!) Be careful you beautiful bunch!

Thanks to Jim who did the rest of the cutting for this dish after our little trip to A&E. And for the Twix. He's bloody brilliant. ('Scuse the pun...)

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Crêpe Cake

I made a chocolate mousse. As I poured it into the bowl that it was destined to chill in, I realised that I had made, maybe, a bit too much mousse for a household that is made up of two adults and two cats. Cats don't eat mousse. Mouse. Maybe. Mousse. No.

I decided I could serve the mousse with pancakes. Then I remembered at the back of my favourite recipe book, there was a recipe for a crêpe cake.

So whilst my offering for Pancake Day may have an identity crisis (am I a pudding? Am I a cake?) I would definitely recommend trying this. I love how the layers of crêpe and chocolate give it a stripy effect, much like a baumtorte.


The Mousse
200gr dark chocolate
4 eggs, separated
Small splash of liqueur (optional - I used ameretto)
100ml double cream, whipped lightly

The Crêpes
4 eggs
150ml milk
150ml water
1tbsp olive oil
250gr plain flour, sifted
Small pinch of salt


1, Start making the mousse by melting the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Whilst the chocolate is melting, whip the egg whites to a medium soft peak and set to one side. When the chocolate is fully melted remove from the heat and beat in the egg yolks, liqueur and a pinch of salt.
2. Fold through a couple of large dollops of the whipped eggs whites to loosen the mixture before folding through the double cream and finally the remainder of the egg whites. Using a cutting and folding technique with a spatula until there are no visible heavy white streaks of egg whites. Pour into a bowl, cover with clingfilm and pop in the fridge to set.
3, Whilst the mousse is cooling, make the crêpes by gently heating a non stick frying pan and wiping it with a little melted butter on a piece of kitchen towel. Beat the eggs, milk and water together in a mixing bowl and sift in the flour. Whisk until you have a smooth, lumpless batter.
4, Make the crêpes by pouring around 60ml of batter (I used a 1/4 cup US measuring cup to do this) into the frying pan and swirl to spread the batter as much as possible. Cook gently until there is no raw batter on the surface of the crêpe, flip it and cook it for a couple of seconds before sliding onto a dinner plate. Layer the hot crêpes between sheets of baking parchment to stop them sticking and repeat until you run out of batter. I used 18 crêpes for my cake. The first one is always duff and a couple got taste tested. These need to cool completely before spreading the mousse between them or else it'll melt and leave you with a big sticky pile.
5, When everything has cooled and you're ready to construct your cake, simply lay down a crêpe, spread a dollop of mousse on it, top with another crêpe and repeat. When the crêpe cake is completed, pop it in the fridge for a couple of hours to chill before slicing.

This is quite a rich and heavy thing to eat. I was defeated by ONE slice. Lighten it up with plenty of fresh fruit.

"Cats don't eat mousse"

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Hidden Kisses

Things that regularly hide from me-

1. The vegetable peeler, apple corer and the safety guard off my mandolin (I think they are in kitchen utensils cahoots together)
2. Devil cat’s fur brush. And considering she is 90% fur and 10% pure hate she needs it done regularly, lest we suffer her wrath when it comes to clipping out knots.
3. The lids off every can of hairspray I have ever bought in my life.
4. My left mitten

But I’m taking the power back. Two can play that game.

Original recipe from

20 Hershey's Kisses (unwrapped)
125gr butter
65gr golden caster caster sugar
75gr soft dark brown sugar
1/2tsp almond extract
130gr plain flour
50gr chopped nuts

1, Preheat your oven to 190o/c and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
2, In a bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, both sugars and almond extract.
3,Sift in the flour and add the nuts and mix until you have gravelly looking crumbs that form a dough when pinched together.

4, Take a heaped dessert spoon of the mixture and squeeze it gently in your hands to form a ball. Push a Hershey's Kiss into it and mould the dough around it so it is completely covered. Repeat until you have covered all of the kisses.
5, Bake for 10 minutes and remove from the oven. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet as they are quite delicate when they are hot.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, 10 February 2012

Plumble Cake

I know. Plum Crumble Cake would probably have been a better name for this cake.

Following on in a similar vein to a blackberry crumble cake I made a while ago, I had some wilty looking golden plums that were destined for a cakey domain. This is a great way to use up little bits of fruit you have laying around.


Cakey Base
125gr butter
125gr golden caster sugar
2 eggs
1/2tsp vanilla extract
125gr self raising flour
1tsp baking powder

4 plums, destoned and cut into 8ish segments

Crumble Topping
40gr plain flour
40gr dark soft brown sugar
25gr ground almonds
15gr cold butter

1, Preheat your oven to 170o/c and grease or line a deep 30cm by 19cm baking tin.
2, Beat together the butter and sugar until very pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs with a tablespoon of the flour to stop it curdling. Mix in the vanilla extract.
3, Sift in the rest of the flour and add the baking powder and fold in gently. Pour this into your prepared tin and scatter (or very neatly, depending on preference) the plums.
4, Gently rub the crumble topping ingredients together with your fingertips until they reach a breadcrumb like consistency. Scatter this liberally over the top of your cake.
5, Bake for 25-30minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack before slicing with a sharp knife.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Brunch: Snowy Eggs

Eggs on a cloud? Nah, Snowy Eggs!

For Two
2 slices of bread
2 eggs
Two large pinches of finely chopped coriander
Small pinch of dried chilli flakes
Salt and pepper

1, Preheat your oven to 175C, toast the bread lightly on both sides and place on a lined baking tray
2, Separate your eggs gently, keeping the yolks intact and whisk the egg whites until soft to medium peaks.
3, Stir through the coriander, chilli and season to taste.
4, Spoon the fluffy whites onto the toast and make a well in each. Gently slide the yolks into the dips.
5, Bake the eggs for 10-12 minutes until the egg whites are hot through. Serve immeditely.
I'm entering this eggy delight into the Breakfast Club, the brainchild of Helen at Fuss Free Flavours and this month is being hosted by Karen at Lavender & Lovage.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Lemon and Blueberry Buttermilk Cake

I once had a dream where I lived in a house made of cake.  It was a tourist attraction and I was fighting a losing battle with sneaky people eating things. Like walls. I remember I 'escorted someone from the premises' because they took a bite out of my sofa.  

If that dream were real, this cake would be carved into my bed.  I would happily sleep in a bed made of this cake.  It's so light, fluffy and moreish.  I love how the blueberries stain the cake, little flecks of yellow lemon zest peak through and the icing glaze adds a tingle of sweetness.

Original recipe from here

250gr self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Small pinch of salt
125gr unsalted butter, room temperature
175gr caster sugar
3 eggs
200ml buttermilk
Finely grated zest of two medium sized unwaxed lemons
150gr blueberries
Juice of one of the lemons and icing sugar for the glaze

1, Preheat your oven to 180o/c. Grease and flour, or spray with cake release, a 25cm round bundt tin.
2, Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and set to one side
3, Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
4, Beat in the eggs with a couple of tablespoons of the flour to stop it splitting.
5, Beat in the buttermilk and lemon zest
6, Fold in the rest of the flour mixture until combined and then fold in the blueberries
7, Pour evenly into your bundt tin and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until risen, golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean
8, Mix the lemon juice with enough icing sugar to form a glace icing that is about the consistency of double cream.
9, Invert the warm cake onto a cooling rack and using a pastry brush, paint and cover the entire cake in the icing. Leave to cool and then drizzle on the remaining icing.