2 tbsp golden syrup (or liquid honey, if unavailable)
55g (2 oz) cocoa powder (½ cup)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
3 tbsp milk
For the filling
85g (3 oz) butter, softened (⅜ cup, or ¾ stick)
115g (4 oz) icing/powdered sugar (1 cup)
14g (½ oz) cocoa powder (2 tbsp)
Large baking tray
For the biscuits
Sift the flour into a large bowl and then add the rest of the ingredients. Beat everything together until they start to clump together. A food mixer or processor makes this very easy to do.
Tip from the bowl onto the work surface and knead to bring the dough together into a ball.
Mark a rectangle, 23 × 30.5cm (9 × 12 ins) on a sheet of baking parchment. Turn the sheet over and this will give a guide when rolling out the dough.
Place the dough in the centre of the rectangle and roll out to the markings, dusting the rolling pin with flour as needed. Neaten up the edges so there is a clean rectangle shape of the right size.
Cut the dough lengthways into three equal strips, 7.5cm (3 ins) each, but keep the strips together. The easiest way to do this accurately is by using a clear ruler. The ruler can also be used as a guide to cut the dough.
Now cut across the strips 2.5cm (1 inch) apart in the same way, keeping the rectangle intact.
Using a small skewer, make 5 dots, spaced evenly apart, down each long side of the biscuits to resemble the traditional Bourbon.
Carefully lift the parchment onto the baking tray and chill the dough for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4)
Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cut through each biscuit to make sure all the cuts are separate. Leave on the tray to cool completely.
For the filling
Sift the icing sugar/powdered sugar and cocoa powder into a bowl and add the softened butter. Beat together until combined. It will be a fairly thick butter cream.
Now turn over half the biscuits on the tray and divide the buttercream evenly between each one. This can be done neatly using a piping bag or spread on using a small palette knife.
Sandwich the biscuits together and store in an airtight container.
150ml (5 fl oz) double/whipping or heavy cream (⅔ cup)
14g (½ oz) icing/powdered sugar (1½ tbsp)
115g (4 oz) raspberries (1 cup)
large baking sheet/tray lined with baking parchment
Preheat the oven to 140°C (275°F) gas 1.
Whisk the egg whites until firm peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, one spoonful at a time, whisking well after each addition, until stiff. Add the vanilla and continue whisking until the mixture is thick and glossy.
Using a metal spoon, spoon a third of the meringue into another bowl and sift over 2 teaspoons of the cocoa powder. Gently fold the cocoa into the meringue.
Spoon the cocoa meringue over the white meringue and then, using the metal spoon, fold together once to create a rippled effect.
Put a little dab of meringue on the four corners of the baking sheet/tray and top with the baking parchment. (This will help the lining stay in place.) Spoon the meringue into four mounds on the baking parchment and bake for 1 hour and fifteen minutes, until the meringue is crisp on the outside and peels away easily from the parchment. Cool on a wire rack.
Divide the meringues between four serving dishes. Then whisk the cream and icing sugar together until soft peaks form and spoon over the meringues. Top with the raspberries and then dust with the reserved cocoa powder using a small sieve.
Take two pieces of baking parchment and cut to fit the baking sheets. Mark one side of each piece of parchment with sixteen 4.5cm (1.75 in) lines, spaced evenly apart. (This will give a good guide when piping the biscuit mixture.)
Place the butter, sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl and beat until light and fluffy.
Then sift the flour and cocoa powder into the bowl and fold in until completely combined.
Dab a small amount of mixture on each corner of the baking sheets and place the baking parchment to fit making sure the marked side is facing down on the sheets. Spoon the biscuit mixture into the piping bag fitted with a fluted nozzle and pipe 32 lengths as marked on the pieces of baking parchment.
Bake for 12–14 minutes until they are just starting to become darker around the edges. Remove from the oven and leave to become cold on the baking sheets, then remove with a palette knife to a cooling rack.
For the filling
While the biscuits are cooling make the filling.
Place the butter in a mixing bowl and sift in the icing sugar and cocoa powder. Add the vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of cold water, then beat until it is smooth and creamy.
Turn 16 of the biscuits over and using a teaspoon divide the filling between them. (This way it is easier to see if the mixture is evenly divided before spreading.) Then using a small palette knife, carefully spread the filling over the biscuits. Now sandwich together with the remaining halves.
These squares of strawberry ice cream are on a chocolate base and topped with sliced strawberries, drizzled with chocolate and sprinkled with toasted almonds. Frozen ahead of time, they make an impressive dessert and take no time at all to add the toppings just before serving.
170g (6 oz) strawberries, rinsed and hulled (½ pint punnet)
1 tbsp sugar
For the topping
85g (3 oz) strawberries, rinsed and hulled (¼ pint punnet)
55g (2 oz) plain/dark chocolate (8 pieces)
2 tbsp slivered almonds
17cm (6½ in) square metal baking pan at least 5cm (2 inches) deep
Once the base and filling have been left to freeze, it can be cut into portions and then the portions returned to the freezer. until needed The topping is added just before serving and is better not frozen.
This is a great recipe to make and keep in the freezer. The quantities can be doubled to be able to freeze more portions, just use a 24cm (9½ in) square pan.
Cut two sheets of baking parchment larger than the baking pan so that they can be laid across one another and overhang the edges of the pan on all sides. Press well into the corners of the pan.
For the base
In a medium bowl, combine the chocolate crumbs and the sugar. Stir in the butter to coat the crumbs. Spread evenly in the pan pressing well into the corners. Freeze while making the filling.
For the filling
Remove the ice cream or frozen yogurt from the freezer to soften a little.
Slice the strawberries and put into a small bowl. Toss with the sugar then let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, scoop the ice cream or yogurt into a large bowl and leave until the strawberries are ready. It should not thaw completely.
Purée the strawberries until smooth, then pour over the top of the ice cream or yogurt. Stir until well blended. Spoon evenly over the chocolate base in the pan and freeze until firm, about 4 hours.
For the topping
Start preparing the toasted almonds and chocolate sauce about an hour before serving so they have time to cool.
Tip the almonds into a small frying pan/skillet and toast over a medium to low heat until golden, tossing frequently. They will take about 5–10 minutes but keep an eye on them as they will burn quickly. (They produce a nutty smell when they are ready, too.) Put to one side.
Break the chocolate into small pieces and add half to a glass bowl and melt over a pan of just simmering water. (The bowl should not touch the water.). Once melted, remove from the heat. Add the remaining chocolate to the bowl and stir until it has melted and there is a smooth chocolate sauce. Leave to one side to cool.
Top each square just before serving.
Holding the edges of the baking parchment, remove the frozen sundae to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut into six even pieces. Leave for 10 to soften a little.
Slice the remaining strawberries and decorate the top of the squares. Drizzle the chocolate over and sprinkle with the toasted almonds.
For chocoholics in the family, this is a delectable chocolate cake. The chocolate flavoured sponge is very light and and the chocolate icing is a little fudgy and is used as a filling too. Of course, you have to finish it off with more chocolate, and slivers of chocolate are used decorate the top. The only non-chocolate addition is apricot jam that is used before adding the icing and this makes it more moist.
good quality plain/dark chocolate for the decoration
2 × 20cm (8 inch) sandwich tins, base-lined and greased
For the sponge
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4)
Blend the cocoa powder with the hot water in a small bowl and leave to cool.
Meanwhile, sift the flour and baking powder together into a large bowl. (Either use a free standing mixer or electric hand mixer.) Add the butter, sugar and eggs. Then pour in the cooled cocoa mixture. Beat for 2 minutes until creamy.
Divide the mixture evenly between the two pans and level the tops. Bake towards the top of the oven on the same shelf for 25–30 minutes. The cakes should have shrunk slightly from the sides of the tin and will spring back when lightly pressed with a forefinger.
Leave in the tins for 2 minutes then carefully remove, peeling off the lining, and cool on a wire rack.
For the filling, icing and decoration
Place the chocolate for the decoration in the refrigerator to become cold as it will be easier to work with.
Now for the filling and icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl.
Put the butter in a medium-sized pan and melt over a low heat. As soon as it has melted, mix in the cocoa powder and cook over a very low heat for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the milk. Add the icing sugar /powdered sugar a couple of spoonfuls at a time, beating well between each addition. You may not need all the sugar. Just add enough to make a coating consistency.
Leave to cool a little. while preparing the apricot glaze.
You can buy apricot glaze in a jar in the U.K. which is ready to use, so just warm through about 6 tablespoons. In Canada, not being able to find apricot glaze, I use apricot jam. Add 1 tablespoon of hot water to 6 tablespoons of apricot jam to thin it a little and gently heat to warm through. The jam will now be of a consistency to pass through a sieve to remove any pieces of fruit.
Invert one the the sponge layers and place on a serving plate. Using a palette knife, carefully coat the top with about a quarter of the glaze, then top with two good tablespoonfuls of the icing. Spread evenly over the jam.
Place the second cake on top and gently press down. Spread the sides and top with the remaining glaze using just enough to coat. Then spread the remaining icing over the whole cake.
Remove the chocolate from the refrigerator and, over a plate, pull a potato peeler along the long smooth edge. This will make tiny slivers of chocolate. You will need about 28g (1 oz). Scatter these on top of the cake to decorate.
For these delicious sundaes, banana slices are coated in maple syrup, mixed with vanilla ice cream and crushed meringue shells, then topped with whipped cream and decorated with chocolate, a cherry and a wafer.
A piping bag fitted with a 12.5mm (½ inch) star-shaped nozzle
2 baking sheets/cookie sheets
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4)
Measure the butter in a large bowl and sift in the sugar. Beat vigorously until soft and fluffy.
Stir in the vanilla essence/extract.
Gradually add the flour to make a soft dough.
Spoon into the piping bag and pipe 6.5cm (2½ inch) lengths onto the baking sheets, cutting the dough off at the nozzle with a small knife.
Bake for 18 minutes. Using a palette knife, carefully transfer on to wire racks to cool.
Place a basin over a pan of just simmering water and add half the chocolate. Once melted, remove from the heat and add the remaining chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted and is of a smooth consistency (this makes for a lovely shiny chocolate coating).
Place a sheet of baking paper beneath the wire racks to catch any chocolate drips. Then dip both ends of the biscuits in the melted chocolate, gently scraping off any excess on the side of the bowl. Return to the wire racks until the chocolate is set.
100g (3½ oz) good dark chocolate (minimum of 50% cocoa solids), finely chopped*
55g (2 oz) butter (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
For the decoration
14g (½ oz) good dark chocolate*
14g (½ oz) milk chocolate*
14g (½ oz) white chocolate*
a few gold foil or coloured chocolate mini eggs
*I love to use Lindt
A 20.5cm (8 inch) round cake tin, buttered and lined with parchment around the sides and on the bottom
For the cake
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas mark 4)
Gently melt the butter in a pan, then set to one side to cool slightly.
Measure the eggs and sugar into a large bowl and whisk using an electric hand mixer or food mixer at high speed until the mixture is pale, mousse-like and thick enough to leave a trail when the whisk is lifted from the mixture.
Sift the flour and cocoa powder together in a separate bowl.
Stir the vanilla essence. into the cooled butter.
Carefully fold half the flour into the egg mixture, then gently pour half the cooled butter around the edge of the mixture and fold in. Repeat with the remaining flour and butter. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.
Bake for 40 minutes until well risen and the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed with a finger and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then turn out, peel off the parchment and cool on a wire rack.
For the filling
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Remove the bowl and leave to cool for 15 minutes.
In a separate bowl beat the cream cheese until it is really soft. Then add the butter and beat until well combined and creamy. A food mixer does this really well. Beat in the icing sugar/confectioner’s sugar until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the cooled chocolate. Don’t over beat the mixture at this stage or it will become stiff. It should be a fudgy consistency.
Cut the cake in half horizontally and sandwich together with the filling. Return the cake to the wire rack.
For the icing
Melt the butter and half the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Stir gently until combined. Remove the bowl from the heat and add the remaining chocolate. Stir gently until it has melted and the icing is smooth. Leave to cool.
Put a plate under the cake on the wire rack and pour the icing over the cake, letting it run down the sides. Completely cover the sides by spooning a little chocolate round the top rim of the cake so it runs down the sides to fill in any gaps. Any chocolate that has dripped onto the plate below the rack can be reused for this.
Leave for at least 30 minutes to set.
For the decoration
To make the chocolate swirls, grate the dark chocolate onto a saucer using a swivel potato peeler. If the chocolate is hard, soften it a little by putting it in the microwave on defrost for 10 seconds. Repeat with the milk and white chocolate on separate saucers.
Sprinkle all three types of chocolate swirls over the top of the icing to decorate.
To finish, carefully place a few chocolate eggs on the top.
In a large bowl beat together the butter and sugar until creamy. Then beat in the eggs and the vanilla essence/extract.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, soda, salt and cinnamon. Then gradually stir into the creamed mixture until completely combined.
Next, stir in the oats and then carefully stir in the chocolate chips.
Drop by tablespoons onto the baking sheets spacing well apart and bake for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave for 1 minute, then, using a palette knife, place on wire racks to cool.
You may need to bake the cookies in two batches if you do not have enough baking sheets to finish the mixture. Just make sure you let the sheets cool down before spooning the remaining mixture onto them.
Mix the flour, sugar, oats and soda in a large bowl and set aside.
Melt the butter and syrup in a small pan and then add to the dry mixture. Stir to combine.
Divide the mixture into 16 even portions. Roll each portion into a ball and place on the baking sheets spacing well apart. Flatten down a little.
Bake for 15–18 minutes until just golden. Leave on the trays for a couple of minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool.
Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of just simmering water to melt. Leave to cool for 5 minutes.
The biscuits should now have cooled completely. Using a pastry brush, thickly paint the chocolate over half of each biscuit coating both the top and bottom. Return the biscuits to the wire racks to allow the chocolate to set.
These meringues are flavoured with coffee and, when cooked, a little melted chocolate is drizzled over. Serve on their own or with whipped cream or ice cream. Whatever you choose, they just melt in your mouth.
If using coffee granules, dissolve in a ½ teaspoon of hot water and set aside to cool.
Put the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk until just stiff. Gradually add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, whisking constantly until the mixture becomes very thick and glossy. Then whisk in the coffee.
Dab a little meringue on the corners of the baking sheets (this will prevent the parchment paper from slipping).Then line each sheet with baking parchment pressing down at the corners. Spoon 4 mounds of meringue on each baking sheet, spacing well apart. Bake for 1 hour. The meringues should feel hard to the touch and lift off the parchment paper easily. Leave to cool completely.
Break the chocolate into small pieces, put in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of just simmering water. Make sure the bowl does not touch the water. Stir the chocolate until melted and smooth, then remove from the heat and leave until the chocolate has cooled. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the meringues and leave to set for at least 15 minutes before serving.
I have just made some chocolate choux buns and, whilst making the choux pastry, I decided to try whisking the eggs into the melted butter mixture using an electric hand whisk. I had picked up on the fact that this is supposed to incorporate air into the mixture as you are whisking in the eggs, resulting in a lighter pastry.
Having had success with these choux buns, I will now use this method when making the pastry for the religieuses and so I have amended the method for making the choux pastry in that recipe to show this (see here).
I like trying new ways of doing things. They don’t always work but this one certainly did.
Choux buns filled with a sweet, vanilla cream and topped with a thick coating of chocolate – what could be more heavenly?
2 eggs, medium (U.K.)/large (N.A.), lightly beaten
For the filling
284ml double cream/whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp caster sugar/fine white sugar
100g/3½ oz plain chocolate/dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
85g/1½ oz butter, cut into cubes
For the choux buns
Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7.
First sift the flour onto a piece of baking paper.
Place the butter and sugar in a heavy-based pan with 150ml/5 fl oz of water. Heat the mixture over a medium heat until the butter melts, stirring occasionally. Now bring the mixture to a rolling boil and then immediately remove from the heat.
Quickly tip in the flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a soft ball. Then cook over a very low heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and, using an electric whisk, gradually add the eggs, whisking well between each addition. Not all the egg may be needed. Just add enough until the mixture is smooth and shiny and of a dropping consistency. (Using an electric whisk will allow air to be incorporated into the mixture as the eggs are added.)
Sprinkle a little water over a non-stick baking sheet. (When in the oven the water will create steam which will help puff up the mixture.) Put eight large spoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking sheet, spaced evenly apart.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes or until well risen and golden brown. (Don’t open the door of the oven during the first 20 minutes of cooking.) Remove the choux buns and turn off the oven.
Pierce a small hole into each choux bun with a skewer, which will allow steam to escape, then return to the oven for 10 minutes to dry out.
Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Put the butter and half the chocolate in a heavy based pan. Melt over a medium heat, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from the heat and add the remaining chocolate, stirring until it has melted and the mixture is of a smooth consistency. Set to one side to cool.
For the filling
Pour the cream into a bowl with the vanilla extract and sugar, and whisk until stiff. Cut the buns in half and fill with the cream mixture.
Once the chocolate is cool, thickly coat the top of the buns.
These are best eaten within a few hours after they have been filled. Once filled with the cream mixture, the pastry will tend to soften.