Happy New Year, and a healthy new recipe

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas and New Year – mine was a little hectic with moving house as well as lots of baking, but it was definitely a good one.

For New Year’s Eve, I headed up to Oxford to visit friends for a house party, and made the cake pictured above to take – a cinnamon sponge with milk chocolate filling and white chocolate frosting. I didn’t get any photos of the inside, so I’m going to make it again and wait until then to share the recipe – it’s a good one though, I promise!

For now, I’m going to give you another recipe, which I think is rather fitting for my first post of the new year – healthy chilli chocolate butternut brownies.

(Pro photo courtesy of http://www.seangeephotography.com)

I made several attempts last year at making healthier vegetable-based brownies, using a butternut squash recipe from Delicious and a sweet potato recipe from Dan Lepard at the Guardian.

I wasn’t entirely happy with either, but I think I finally cracked it with this recipe, which uses butternut squash to replace the fat, and can also easily be made wheat and gluten free by swapping the 25g of flour for more cocoa powder.

Cut into 12 slices, it comes in at 200 calories per slice – ridiculous for such a decadent tasting treat, and perfect for anyone on a new year health kick.

I also added a quarter teaspoon of scotch bonnet chilli mash, from the Bad Boy Chilli Company, which is based not far from me in Lostwithiel, Cornwall. You only need a tiny bit of the mash to give the brownies a really fiery kick, so use with caution!

Although the chilli does pack a spicy punch, the sweetness of the white chocolate balances it out, and these were a big hit with all of my taste testers when I made them.

I would definitely recommend giving this recipe a go, whether or not you’re starting 2014 with healthy intentions. I’m not planning any huge changes to my diet (cakes aplenty!) but I am going to be trying out some new classes at the gym to try and tone up and increase my fitness – I’ll keep you updated with how it goes…

Healthy chilli chocolate butternut brownies (loosely adapted from Delicious)

  • 330g butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • ¼ tsp Scotch Bonnet Mash
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 65g cocoa powder
  • 25g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100g white chocolate, chopped

Start by microwaving the butternut squash for about 10 minutes, or until you can cut through it like butter.  Stir in the dark chocolate until melted, then blend with a stick blender to get rid of all lumps. Add the chilli – if you’re worried about it being too hot start with less and add more if you think it needs it.

Whisk the eggs with the caster sugar until the mixture triples in volume, then fold in the cocoa powder, flour and baking powder.  Finally, fold through the chocolate squash mixture and the white chocolate chunks and spread the mixture into an 8×8” square tin, lined with baking paper.

Bake at 180 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until just set. Leave to cool completely in the tin, then cut into squares to serve.


As this is the first time I’ve baked anything with the Bad Boy Chilli Company’s Scotch Bonnet Mash, I’m going to enter them into this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge, hosted by Linzi at Lancashire Food, who chose ‘new ingredient’ as the theme. I love trying out new things, so this may not be my only entry, we’ll see!


Chilli chocolate brownies (GF)

The other weekend, my next door neighbour Jo invited me around for a chocolate tasting session. I have the best neighbours!

One of the selection of chocolate bars, from the Eden Project, was a dark chilli chocolate. I quite liked it, but Jo thought the chilli was a bit too strong, so very kindly donated the rest of the bar for me to bake with.

The idea was that the chilli would be toned down a bit if it was used in baking, and it worked – these chilli chocolate brownies have just enough chilli to give a nice kick, but definitely not too much to be overwhelming.

The brownie recipe itself was also a great success – it’s wheat and gluten free, and has a very high proportion of chocolate to all the other ingredients which is bound to be good!

I adapted the original from David Lebovitz a little, by swapping chopped nuts for chopped chocolate, but otherwise followed the recipe to the letter – especially heeding David’s warning to beat the mixture for at least a minute or risk crumbly brownies!

Chilli Chocolate Brownies (adapted from David Lebovitz)

  • 75g chilli flavoured dark chocolate
  • 225g dark chocolate
  • 85g butter
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3tbsp cornflour
  • Optional – 1 tsp chilli powder (depending on how strong your chocolate is and how strong you want the brownies to taste)

Roughly chop the chilli and normal chocolate and mix the two together, then set aside 75g of it. Heat the remaining 225g of chocolate with the butter in a saucepan over a low heat, then remove from the hob and beat in the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until well mixed. Sift together the cocoa and cornflour (and chilli powder if using), then add to the chocolate mixture. Beat for at least a minute so the mixture is smooth and shiny – this is apparently a very important stage!

Fold in the remaining chopped chocolate, then spread the mixture into an 8×8″ square greased and lined tin. Bake at 180 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until just set. Leave until completely cool to remove from the tin and cut into squares.

Chocolate orange spice cake (GF)

I bought Levi Roots’ Food for Friends cookbook a little while ago on a whim, and I’m so glad I did – every recipe I’ve tried so far has been a resounding success. The recipes are simple, and usually only use a few ingredients, but are packed full of flavour (as you’d expect from a Caribbean chef I suppose!)

The cakes and desserts section is also more extensive than I would have imagined, which is always a good thing in my book.

This chocolate orange spice cake caught my eye, not only because of the delicious combination of flavours but also the fact that it’s gluten and wheat free. Add to that the fact it doesn’t have any butter or oil, and use half fat creme fraiche for the topping, and it’s practically a health food!

I did change it up a bit, using ground almonds rather than toasting and grinding my own, using less of them because I didn’t buy enough, swapping sour cream for the creme fraiche and adding some extra spice to the topping – but I think that just goes to prove it’s a very forgiving recipe!

The cake went down very well when I took it into work, and the pony is now enjoying what’s left of it for his breakfasts. I ma have to sneak one more slice tonight before it’s all gone though…

Chocolate orange spice cake (adapted from Levi Roots’ Food for Friends)

  • 75g dark chocolate
  • zest of 2 oranges
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 100g ground almonds

For the topping:

  • 140g dark chocolate
  • 140g half fat creme fraiche
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp hot chilli powder

Start by finely grating the dark chocolate into a bowl (yep, it’s a pain) and add to that the cinnamon and orange zest, then set aside.

Add half of the sugar (85g) to a fairly large bowl with the egg yolks and beat until light and fluffy. Add the chocolate mixture, orange juice and ground almonds and beat again – you will have a pretty thick mixture, a bit like frangipane. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites, gradually adding in the remaining 85g caster sugar, until it forms stiff glossy peaks.

Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture a quarter at a time, making sure it’s well combined but you don’t beat the air out of the air whites. Pour the mixture into a greased and lined 8″ round cake tin and bake at 180 degrees for about half an hour, or until risen and pulling away from the sides of the tin. Leave to cool before removing from the tin.

To make the topping, put all the ingredients in a heatproof bowl and heat over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring until all the chocolate has melted. Leave to cool for 10 minutes or so, then spread over the top of the cake. Leave to firm up a bit before cutting into slices and serving.

Chilli-chocolate-orange torte

I had quite a lot of difficulty deciding what to name this cake. Firstly, the ingredients – chilli-chocolate-orange? chilli-orange-chocolate? chocolate-chilli-orange? Such dilemmas.

Then there’s the fact that what started out as a truffle torte deviated from the recipe quite a bit – my slightly over enthusiastic whipping of the cream turned the texture more mouse-like, and my fears about it setting prompted me to make a sponge base so I knew I’d actually be able to serve it.

I’m sticking with torte, as ‘chilli-chocolate-orange-sort-of-torte-mouse-cake’ would be a bit too much of a mouthful – but forget that, because what really matters here is the flavour.

This month’s We Should Cocoa challenge, hosted by Choclette at the Chocolate Log Blog, features chilli, and was the push I needed to experiment with the classic combination.

I considered quite a few options, but didn’t really fancy a sponge cake so settled on a torte. Although chilli and chocolate is great as a flavour combination on it’s own, I decided to add orange to try and recreate the ‘Mayan’ flavour of a certain brand of chocolate bar – and it really worked!

Seriously, I cannot recommend strongly enough that you try this recipe – it’s one of the best chocolate recipes I’ve made in ages!

Chilli-chocolate-orange torte (loosely based on this one):

For the base:

  • 60g butter
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 50g self raising flour
  • 10g cocoa powder
Beat together all the ingredients then spread into a greased and lined 9″ round tin. Bake at 180 degreed for about 15 minutes, then remove the sponge from the tin and leave to cool.

For the filling:

  • 250g dark chocolate
  • 2tbsp golden syrup
  • 568ml double cream
  • 1tsp chilli powder
  • zest of 1 orange

Put the sponge base back in the tin, upside down with the baking paper removed. Gently heat the chocolate, golden syrup and a quarter of the cream over a pan of hot water, the once the chocolate has melted remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Whisk the cream, chilli powder and orange zest with a balloon whisk until thick but not stiff. This is where I went wrong as I was so excited that I’d managed to whisk it by hand that I went a bit too far and ended up with thick cream – oh well!

Fold the cooled chocolate mixture into the cream until well combined and no white streaks are left. Spread onto the base and leave to chill overnight. Dust with cocoa powder and serve, in very small slices!