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.

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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.

Cherry chocolate brownie cupcakes (GF)

My original plan for this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge, hosted by Janice at Farmersgirl Kitchen, was to make a classic black forest gateau – I’ve never tried it before and what better way to pair cherries and chocolate?

Unfortunately, I just haven’t had an occasion to bake a massive gateau, so I had to think of something else.

I decided to make some small cakes to take round to a friend’s house, and as she is gluten-intolerant I wanted to find something that was flour-free but with black forest flavours.

Even after buying the ingredients I still wasn’t entirely sure what to do, but I went ahead and used this recipe for flourless chocolate muffins as the base.

I was a bit sceptical that a mixture with no flour, no whisked egg whites and no direct flour replacement would produce a cupcake, and to be honest it was a bit more like a brownie in texture – but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone complain about being given a brownie!

I decided to cut holes in the tops of the cupcakes to put the cherries in, then add a simple swirl of whipped cream on top.

For a cake that hadn’t really been planned, they turned out pretty well and got good reviews from my friends. I also discovered (with some of the extra batter) that microwaved for 60 seconds in a ramekin the mixture turns into a delicious hot pudding – added bonus!

Cherry chocolate brownie cupcakes

  • 155g dark chocolate
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 165g butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 55g cocoa
  • 12 cherries, stones removed
  • 150ml double cream
  • 1tsp icing sugar
  • chocolate shavings to serve

Melt the chocolate and butter over a saucepan of simmering water. Once melted, remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar, then the eggs, one at a time. Sieve in the cocoa powder and fold until just combined, then pour into 12 cupcake cases (it will be very liquid so I actually used a jug to pour). Bake at 180 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until risen and springy to the touch.

Once the cakes have cooled, use an apple corer to remove a hole from the centre of each one. Place a cherry (make sure the stones are removed!) in the centre of each. Whip the cream and icing sugar together until it holds it’s shape, then pipe small swirls on top of each cupcake, covering the cherry, then sprinkle chocolate shaving on top. Store in the fridge but leave out for 20 mins or so before serving to come back to room temperature.

This is my entry for the August We Should Cocoa Cherry Challenge!

Flourless peanut butter white chocolate chip cookies (GF)

I’ve seen several variations of this peanut butter cookie on different blogs, and although curious I never got around to trying it, until last weekend.

The cookie recipe is basically just peanut butter, sugar and eggs – how it holds up with no flour is an absolute mystery to me, but it really does work!

As well as being tasty and having the perfect level of chewiness, they were by far the easiest cookie I’ve made – add to that the fact they’re naturally gluten free and you’re on to a definite winner!

You could try loads of add-ins and different variations to the basic batter, as I had a bar of white chocolate I used that, but I think dark chocolate could be even better.

You can have a plate of these in front of you in under 20 minutes – so what are you waiting for, go make some!

Flourless peanut butter white chocolate chip cookies (recipe from Joy the Baker)

Makes 16 cookies

  • 250g peanut butter (crunchy or smooth, but I went for crunchy)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 50g white chocolate

Beat the peanut butter and both sugars together for a couple of minutes until well combined, then add in the egg and baking powder and beat again. Divide into 16 equally sized small balls and flatten onto a baking sheet, spaced a couple of inches apart from each other. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and press into the cookies, then bake at 180 degrees for 8-12 minutes – keep a close eye on them because overcooked is not a good thing when it comes to cookies! Leave to cool on the tray for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Or, as Joy suggests, your mouth.

 

Carrot cake (GF)

Carrot cake has been on my to-bake list for quite a long time, but I think what’s put me off making it until now is the absolutely insane amount of recipes and variations there  are for it – how on earth are you meant to know what’s right?!

Eventually, I decided I couldn’t put it off any longer, and picked this recipe to base mine on.

I left out the nuts as the pony isn’t really a fan, used gluten free flour and a little extra liquid, baked it in two tins as I didn’t have one with high enough sides to fit it all in and used a different icing (so as per usual, not doing a brilliant job of following the recipe…)

I’m still not really sure what a definitive carrot cake should be, but this one was pretty damn delicious, and I think of all the cakes I’ve taken in to work this one disappeared the fastest!

I wouldn’t hesitate to make it again – maybe with walnuts of pecans if I can sneak them past the pony, and maybe a plain cream cheese icing so my orange-alergic next door neighbour can try a slice too…

For any other carrot cake virgins out there, trust me – this recipe is the place to start!

Carrot cake with orange cream cheese icing (recipe adapted from Breakfast By The Sea)

  • 300g sugar
  • 300ml sunflower oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g carrots, finely grated
  • 300g plain flour (GF or normal)
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tsp baking powder (check to make sure it’s GF)
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg,
  • pinch of salt
  • handful of sultanas (I didn’t bother weighing)

For the icing:

  • 100g butter
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 350g icing sugar
  • zest of an orange

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar, oil, eggs, milk and vanilla until well mixed and no lumps remain, then mix in the grated carrots. Sift in all the remaining dry ingredients, and fold in with the sultanas until there are no more streaks of flour. Pour into 2 greased and lined 8″ cake tins (it will be very liquid, that’s ok) and bake at 170 degrees for about an hour, or until risen, browned, and pulling away from the sides.

While the cake is cooling, make the icing. Beat the butter to soften, then add in half the cream cheese, orange zest and the icing sugar. Beat with an electric mixer until no lumps remain, which will take a few minutes. Finally, quickly beat in the rest of the cream cheese, then leave in the fridge to chill. Note – this made way too much icing, so in future I’d probably make 2/3 this amount.

Level the cakes if necessary, then spread half the icing on top of one layer of the cake. Top with the second cake, the spread the rest of the icing on top. Cut into slices and serve!

Gingerbread chocolate souffles (GF)

I remember bookmarking this recipe when the first series of Eric Lanlard’s Baking Mad was shown (back in the not-so-good old days of my unemployment, when it was acceptable to spend four hours or so a day watching cookery shows) but have only just got around to making them now, thanks to a set of ramekins I was given for my birthday.

I think for a first ever attempt at souffles they turned out ok, although my ramekins look a bit wider than the ones in the picture  which might be why they aren’t quite so risen – although the before and after shots prove there was a bit of a rise!

I cooked them for 11 minutes as directed, but they were most definitely not ready after that long so I gave them another couple of minutes (I was using an oven thermometer as well so not quite sure what went wrong…)

They might not look all that impressive, but they certainly tasted it! I love chocolate and ginger together, and the added cinnamon worked really well – I would definitely make these again!

Gingerbread Chocolate Souffles (recipe adapted from Eric Lanlard, posted by Delicious Magazine)

Makes 4 souffles

  • 15g butter
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 105g plain chocolate
  • 3 small eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • Extra melted butter and caster sugar to prepare the ramekins

Brush the ramekins with melted butter, and sprinkle with caster sugar to stop the souffles sticking. Melt the chocolate, butter, spices and vanilla in a bowl over simmering water (my chocolate mixture seized, but heating in the microwave loosened it up again). Beat in the egg yolks to the chocolate mixture, and whisk the egg whites and sugar in a separate bowl, until they form meringue like stiff peaks.

Stir in a third of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture to loosen, then gently fold in the rest. Divide the mixture between the four ramekins and bake at 180 degrees for 11-13 minutes – they should be well risen with a slight wobble. Serve with cream, clotted cream or ice cream – all would be delicious!

Peanut butter Nutella swirl cookies (GF)

Pinterest is dangerous.

Ever since I joined, I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of delicious looking baked goods that appear every time I log in.

Sometimes I pin or repin things and then forget about them, but some I just can’t get out of my head.

These peanut butter Nutella swirl cookies were one of the latter – as soon as I saw them I knew they would be baked soon, and they were.

As well as being pretty tasty, they’re also versatile – I made half the batch using wheat and gluten free flour and you couldn’t tell the difference between those and the ones made with normal flour, perfect if you know anyone with allergies or intolerances that normally would have to miss out.

(PS – If you too are a Pinterest love, you can follow me at www.pinterest.com/natblachford)

Peanut butter Nutella swirl cookies (recipe pinned from Une Gamine Dans La Cuisine)

Makes 35 cookies

  • 125g butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 55g light brown sugar
  • 200g peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 210g plain flour (GF or normal)
  • 3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 100g Nutella
Beat together the butter, both sugars and peanut butter until light and creamy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat again, until well combined. Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt, and fold in until the mixture is just coming together, then gently fold in the nutella (the more you mix it, the less pronounced the swirls will be.)
Use a tablespoon measure to scoop rounded balls out of the mixture, and place spaced out on a baking sheet. Flatten each down with a fork, to create a criss-cross pattern on top. Bake at 180 degrees for about 9 minutes, or until just turning golden. Leave to cook on the sheet for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.