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Happy Women’s Day, my dear bloggers!
Today we celebrate the achievements of women all over the world and from all walks of life – from the dedicated homemaker to the independent career woman – who deserve to be honored for their significant contribution in shaping our present and future. As a spouse, daughter, sister, mother, co-worker or friend, a woman has an influential role in society, which is still unfortunately not acknowledged by many. While issues of gender bias and abuse persist at large, we still hesitate to take steps to raise awareness and empower women to recognize and stand up for their rights.
This year’s campaign theme, Be Bold for Change, aims at bringing the contribution of male and female to equal value and closing the gender gap but is it an impossible dream? We are always under constant pressure to comply with the norms society imposes on us that we fail to express our true selves. I deem myself lucky to have escaped this coercion, having always been free to speak my mind and do what I feel right. Today, I choose to be bold and take some time out for myself. To recover from my horrible period cramps and post viral symptoms and to bake a simple chocolate cake from Nigella Lawson, one of my baking inspirations and a remarkably gifted woman.
CHOCOLATE OLIVE OIL CAKE
50g cocoa powder, sifted
125 ml boiling water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
150g ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch kitchen salt
150 ml regular olive oil
200g white caster sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 170°C/325ºF. Grease a 23 cm/9-inch spring form cake tin with a little oil.
- Line the base of the tin with baking parchment. Measure and sift the cocoa powder in a bowl.
- Whisk the boiling water into the cocoa till you have a smooth and chocolatey but runny paste.
- Whisk in vanilla extract, set aside to cool. Combine ground almonds with baking soda and salt.
- Put sugar, olive oil and eggs in a mixer with paddle attachment, beat vigorously for 3 minutes.
- You should have a pale-primrose, aerated and thickened cream. Turn the speed down a little.
- Pour in cocoa mixture. When all is scraped in, slowly tip in the ground almonds and scrape it.
- Stir it a little with a spatula. Pour batter into the prepared tin. Bake cake for 40 to 45 minutes.
- Bake until the sides are set and the centre on top still looks slightly damp. Cool for 10 minutes.
- Serve the chocolate cake cut into thin slices with vanilla ice cream, like a pudding. Serves 8-10.
Nigella’s Olive Oil Chocolate Cake
If February means Valentine’s Day, and Valentine’s Day means chocolate… does February mean 28 days of chocolate? Logicians might beg to differ, but we say yes. You have plenty of time to join our Dark Chocolate Eclairs Bakealong challenge, a heartfelt tribute to the pleasures of deep-dark chocolate. Take the Dark Chocolate Eclairs #bakealong challenge, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Now, you might think éclairs are way beyond your experience level but trust me – they’re not. If you can stir together flour, melted butter, and water, you’ve got the savvy for your shells. If you can simmer milk and cocoa in a saucepan, then mix it with egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch (plus chocolate and butter), you’ve nailed the filling. And the glaze on top? Just two simple ingredients. And the result? Deep-dark deliciousness!
DARK CHOCOLATE ECLAIRS
For the Choux Pastry
1 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/8 teaspoon kitchen salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
For the Dark Chocolate Filling
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
5 tablespoons cornstarch
4 large egg yolks, room temperature
2 cups whole full cream milk
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1/3 cup chopped baking chocolate
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
For the Chocolate Glaze
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 teaspoons corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
- Combine water, butter and salt in a saucepan. Heat until the butter has melted, and bring to a rolling boil.
- Add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously. Return the pan to the burner and cook it over medium heat.
- Stir until mixture smooths out and follows the spoon around pan. This should take far less than a minute.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and let the mixture cool for 5 to 10 minutes to a temperature below 125°F.
- Transfer the mixture to mixer, and beat in the large eggs one at a time. Mixture will look curdled at first.
- When you add the last egg it should become smooth. Beat for at least 2 minutes after adding the last egg.
- Scoop batter into a pastry bag, and add a 3/4″ plain tip. If you don’t have a pastry bag, take a plastic bag.
- Stuff it in a tall glass, and scoop batter into the bag. Push batter to bottom of bag, and cut off one corner.
- To shape the éclair shells, pipe the batter on the prepared pan in 5-inch logs about 3/4-inch in diameter.
- Make sure to squeeze as much of the sticky batter out of bag as possible; a bowl scraper works well here.
- You should be able to make about 20 éclair shells out of the recipe. Bake the éclair shells for 15 minutes.
- Then reduce temperature to 350°F and bake it for an additional 25 minutes, until medium golden brown.
- Remove from oven and make a slit in the top of each, and return to the oven to bake for 5 more minutes.
- This will allow any steam to escape from the shells. Let the shells rest till they are cool enough to handle.
- If you plan on filling and finishing them right away, split each shell in half to make top and bottom pieces.
- For the dark chocolate filling, combine the sugar and cornstarch in mixing bowl. Whisk in the egg yolks.
- Mixture will look like scrambled eggs. Bring milk and cocoa to simmer in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Pour about a quarter of the hot milk and chocolate into the egg yolk mixture, whisking till incorporated.
- Return the egg yolk mixture to the saucepan and put the saucepan back on the burner over medium heat.
- Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture becomes very thick and just starts to boil. Remove pan from heat.
- Add the baking chocolate and butter, stirring until it is melted and smooth. Transfer the filling to a bowl.
- Cover it with plastic wrap, pushing the wrap right down onto the filling and cool it to room temperature.
- Refrigerate the filling for at least 2 hours. For the glaze, combine the semisweet chocolate and corn syrup.
- Heat heavy cream to simmering, then pour it over chocolate. Sit for about a minute then stir until smooth.
- To assemble the éclairs, pipe or spoon about 1 ounce (30g) of the chocolate filling into the pastry shells.
- Set the éclair tops over the filled bottoms and drizzle the glaze over top. Makes 20 dark chocolate éclairs.
KAF February 2017 Challenge
The aftermath of Valentine’s day is that you will probably end up with more chocolate than you can possibly eat even if you plan to go on an all-chocolate diet. While I still have my stash of Christmas chocolates (along with an enormous jar of Nutella spread) preciously stowed in a cool, dark corner of my kitchen cupboard, I have been at a loss of think of a recipe that might tempt me to get them out of their hiding place… until I discovered these Chocotella cupcakes.
In fact the original recipe, from Taste.com.au, has each cupcake frosted with a swirl of Nutella, whipped cream and a Ferrero Rocher elegantly balanced on top. I, however, was intent on using my mini muffin pan to make smaller cakes and had to dismiss the idea of having a Ferrero Rocher perched on top of something this small, which would surely make it look ridiculously out of proportion. For my next batch of Choctella cupcakes, I plan to include a Nutella centre inside and dunk the Nutella topped cakes in hazelnut praline and christened them as Fererro Rocher cupcakes.
70g brown sugar, firmly packed
50g butter, room temperature
40g dark chocolate, chopped
60ml (1/4 cup) cold water
1 egg, room temperature
75g (1/2 cup) self-raising flour
25g (1/6 cup) plain flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
120g (3/8 cup) Nutella
Whipped cream, to serve
Chocolate flakes or sprinkles
- Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan forced. Lightly grease and line a mini muffin pan with paper cases.
- Place sugar, butter, chocolate and water in large saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook for 3 minutes.
- Stir until melted and smooth. Set it aside to cool. Add the egg to the chocolate mixture and whisk well.
- Sift flours and cocoa over egg mixture. Gently fold in until just combined. Divide mixture among pans.
- Bake the cakes for 12 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of a cupcake comes out clean.
- Transfer cupcakes to wire rack to cool completely before frosting. Spread cupcakes with 1tsp Nutella.
- Top cupcakes with a dollop of whipped cream and chocolate flakes or sprinkles. Makes 12 cupcakes.
Chocolate + Nutella