Malt-Easter chocolate chip cookies

This Easter was a sad one for me – I didn’t receive a single egg!

Sure, I may have told people that I was trying to be healthy and cut down on sugar, but still… it’s Easter!

On Easter Monday I went out to see if I could find any bargain reduced eggs and treat myself. I don’t know why Easter egg chocolate is better than normal chocolate, but it definitely is…

As it happened, there weren’t any actual eggs (apart from One Direction ones, wonder why no one bought those…) but what Tesco did have to offer my was half-price bags of Malteaster Bunnies – and so the idea for these cookies was born.

The dough on its own is delicious, with Ovaltine powder to give it a distinctive malty taste, but the two bags of massacred bunnies plus a bar of milk chocolate chopped and added to the mix really make these a Malteser-lover’s delight.

My first batch didn’t go entirely to plan, they spread too thinly and were a little oily, but I think I must have measured something incorrectly as the second batch turned out fine, with only 10g less butter difference to the first.

They are still quite thin cookies, falling into the soft and chewy rather than thick and cake category, but I liked them and they went down well with my taste testers at work too.

You could make these at any time of year – just swap the seasonal bunnies for one of those Malteser bars and it should work fine. Actual Maltesers I always find go chewy when baked, but feel free to experiment and let me know how it goes!

Malt-Easter chocolate chip cookies (basic cookie recipe adapted from Cookies & Cups)

  • 105g unsalted butter
  • 75g light brown sugar
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 medium egg
  • 130g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 50g (two sachets) Ovaltine powder
  • 2 bags (around 100g) Malteaster Bunnies, chopped
  • 100g milk chocolate, chopped

Chop the butter into cubes then add both sugars and beat until light and fluffy, this will take a couple of minutes. Add the vanilla bean paste and the egg and beat again until well combined, then sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt and Ovaltine and beat once again until it all comes together. Fold in the chopped chocolate and bunnies, then chill in the fridge for an hour or so.

Divide the dough into equal-sized balls – I got 14, weighing 45g each. Chill again while you pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (160 fan) and then place spaced out on a baking sheet, 6 at a time. Bake for around 10 minutes, until just starting to crisp around the edges. Leave to cool on the baking sheet – if you try and move them while hot they’ll break and you’ll be forced into eating warm gooey cookie dough, and no one wants that…

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I’m entering these cookies into Choclette’s We Should Cocoa challenge, this month hosted by Rachel who chose Easter as the theme. They’re a great way of using up any sad looking bunnies leftover from the weekend!

Chocolate pithiviers

This month, two of my favourite blogging challenges (hosted by two of my favourite bloggers) teamed up to create one behemoth of a challenge – We Should Cocoa meets Random Recipes.

Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog and Dom at Belleau Kitchen wanted us to randomly select a recipe to bake this month, but it had to be one involving chocolate. As I have three books dedicated solely to chocolate, I used a random number generator to pick one of them, and then asked my housemate to choose a page number to select my bake.

The book chosen was Green & Black’s Ultimate Chocolate Recipes, and the recipe was Simon Hopkinson’s Chocolate Pithiviers.

Initially I was a little daunted – it involved time consuming homemade puff pastry, and creme patissiere which I’ve never tried making before, but in the spirit of RR I embraced the challenge and dedicated my Sunday to baking.

I was super happy with how these turned out – the creme patissiere was easier than I expected, lump-free and lush tasting, and the pastry puffed properly, with actual discernible layers!

The only thing I felt that let it down was the filling, which could have just done with another depth of flavour, but overall they were definitely a success.

Thanks Choclette and Dom for making me try a recipe I would have never chosen otherwise!

Chocolate pithiviers (from Green & Black’s Ultimate Chocolate Recipes)

For the pastry:

  • 225g butter
  • 225g plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 250ml iced water
  • juice of half a lemon

For the filling:

  • 250ml milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 75g sugar
  • 25g plain flour
  • 3 medium egg yolks
  • 110g butter
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 100g chopped dark chocolate
  • 1 egg beaten, to wash

To make the pastry, finely chop the butter and mix into the flour and salt, but don’t rub it in – leave the butter in lumps. Stir in the water and lemon juice and bring together into a dough. Turn it out onto a floured work surface and roll into a rectangle, roughly 18x10cm. Fold the top third down lengthways, then fold the bottom third over that. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes, then take it out, turn it 90 degrees, and repeat the rolling and folding. Do this 5 more times – that’s an hour of chilling, rolling and folding!

For the creme patissiere, heat the milk and vanilla in a saucepan until it reaches boiling point. Whisk the sugar, flour and egg yolks until light and fluffy, then slowly pour in the milk, whisking as you go. Return to the saucepan and stir over a low heat, until it thickens to a consistency a bit thicker than custard. Leave to cool completely.

Beat the remaining 110g sugar with the butter until light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time. Beat in the cocoa powder and almonds, then finally fold in the cooled creme patissiere and the chopped chocolate, and chill again.

To make the pithiviers, roll out the pastry and cit into four 10x10cm squares and four 15x15cm squares. Place the smaller squares on a baking sheet and dollop a good amount of the filling in the middle (you will have way too much filling though so don’t try to use it all).

Brush the beaten egg around the edges of pastries, then place the larger squares on top and press down to seal. Cut into circles, leaving about 1cm around the filling. Remove the trimmings, then press down all around the edges with a fork. Re-roll the trimmings into another 10cm square and another 15cm square and repeat the process, so you have 5 altogether.

Brush the pithiviers with more egg wash, then score them lightly to get the sort of spirally pattern you can see on mine. Dust with icing sugar, then bake at 200 degrees – the recipe says for 15-20 minutes but mine took nearly an hour to crisp up underneath, no idea why! Serve hot with a dollop of cream – delicious ūüôā

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As this month’s Tea Time Treats challenge, hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage, is all about chocolate I’m going to enter these for that as well – three challenges in one, brilliant!

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Christmas profiteroles

I know I’ve been slow updating on my progress in the Bake Off competition I mentioned previously, and anyone who follows me on Twitter will already know the outcome, but here’s my week 3 pastry round update – I made profiteroles and got through to the final!

These are chocolate choux buns, with a chocolate orange and brandy cream filling, decorated with white chocolate and holly berries and leaves, to look like mini Christmas puddings.

For the competition, I decided I needed to up the ante on presentation, so I also made fondant icing snowmen and penguins, which turned out rather cute if I do say so myself!

The actual profiteroles were great, a festive flavour combination that would hopefully please anyone who doesn’t like actual Christmas pudding.

The judges must have liked them too, as I was put through to the final round, in which I went head to head with two other bakers ¬†in the festive cake round – I will probably post the update on that when I can’t stand any more family Christmas time tomorrow…

Christmas profiteroles (adapted from Holly Bell’s recipe)

  • 60g cold butter, cubed
  • 150ml cold water
  • 55g strong white flour
  • 10g cocoa powder
  • 10g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs

For filling and decorating

  • 75g marscapone
  • 50g orange flavoured dark chocolate
  • 100ml whipping cream
  • 1-2 tsp brandy
  • 50g white chocolate
  • holly leaf and berry decorations (I got mine from Asda)

Start by getting all your ingredients laid out, as there’s no time for faffing about when making profiteroles! Holly’s instructions for making the pastry and baking the profiteroles are pretty comprehensive so I won’t repeat them, just add in the cocoa powder at the same time as the flour and sugar.

For the filling, start by melting the chocolate in a small bowl. Leave to cool, then beat in the marscapone and brandy (to taste, my taste is for a strong kick!) In a separate bowl, whisk the cream until it forms soft peaks, then fold into the chocolate mixture a third at a time. Use a piping bag to fill each of the profiteroles, piping into the hole you made to let the steam out.

To decorate, melt the white chocolate then spoon on top of each bun, letting it run down the sides. Add a few leaves and berries, then leave to set.

Someone at work said they were like profiterole canapes, which I think is a great idea if you’re having a Christmas party! Just keep them in the fridge and get them out about 30 mins before serving.

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As these do have a nice good glug of brandy in, I’m going to enter them into this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge, hosted by Choclette, who chose alcohol as the festive theme. Excellent choice!

Autumn spiced butternut blondies

Autumn spiced butternut blondies

You’d possibly think after National Chocolate Week and Salon du Chocolat that I might want a tiny break from eating or thinking about chocolate – but if you do then you definitely don’t know me well enough!

Not only have I been munching on the goodies I brought back from the show, I also couldn’t resist orderinga chocolate brownie at dinner last night, bought a bar of salted caramel chocolate to get me through work this afternoon, and now I’m thinking back to these delicious blondies and wishing I still had one left to eat now.

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This month’s We Should Cocoa challenge, regularly hosted by Choclette but this month hosted by Jibber Jabber, challenged everyone to make something chocolatey with vegetables.

Exactly one year ago I was the We Should Cocoa host and chose pumpkin or squash as the theme, but I have to say I wasn’t entirely happy with my bakes and so I thought this would be a great opportunity to give it another go.

I’ve made a couple of different versions of butternut brownies, but this time decided to let the fabulous colour of the squash stay and go for blondies instead.

I based the recipe on one from the Whole Foods Market website, but cooked and pureed the squash rather than grating it for a squidgier texture, cut down the sugar and added a different mixture of spices to give them a bit of autumnal warmth.

They turned out pretty much how I’d hoped in both texture and taste – reducing the sugar worked especially well as the white chocolate chunks added just enough sweetness to balance the spice.

My colleagues were also a fan, and I think I would definitely make them again as they’re a great way of using up half a butternut squash if you don’t fancy making soup!

Autumn spiced butternut blondies (adapted from Whole Foods Market)

  • 400g butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 100g dark brown sugar
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 55g butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ¬†ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 150g white chocolate, chopped

Start by microwaving the butternut squash for 8-10 minutes, or until soft enough to cut through like butter. Puree it with either a stick blender, food processor or potato masher, then set aside.

Whisk the eggs with the sugar until they triple in volume, then pour in the butter and vanilla with the mixer still running. Add the pureed squash and beat until just combined, then sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and spices and fold into the mixture. Finally, fold through the chopped white chocolate then spread into a greased and lined 8×8″ square tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 180 degrees (160 fan), until just set, then leave to cool before slicing into squares.

Aubergine chocolate cake (GF, DF)

aubergine chocolate cake

I really hope seeing the words ‘aubergine’, ‘chocolate’ and ‘cake’ in the title don’t put people off reading this – it sounds odd, but it works, I promise!

I first learnt about this cake from the pony’s sister – she told me she’d heard about a flourless chocolate cake that used aubergines but didn’t know where the recipe was from. I was intrigued, and did I find a couple of bloggers who had made aubergine cakes, but I didn’t manage to track down the original recipe and then sort of forgot about making it.

Several months on, I was given the Green & Black’s Ultimate Chocolate Recipes, and while flicking through the cake section I landed upon a recipe for a ‘Heartache Cake’ by Harry Eastwood – top of the list of ingredients was aubergines and I realised I’d found the actual recipe!

I first made this when the pony was going to stay with his family, and although the feedback from them was great, I didn’t get to try any myself and I knew I would have to try it again at some point to satisfy my curiosity.

The cake is wheat and gluten free, dairy free, and also uses no refined sugars. The sweetness in the cake comes from honey, and so when I saw that was Choclette‘s pick for this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge, it gave me the perfect reason to revisit the Heartache Cake.

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I’ve renamed it a slightly less emotive ‘aubergine chocolate cake’, partly because I’m not really a fan of the flowery language used by Harry Eastwood, but also because there is nothing sad about this cake whatsoever – it’s delicious!

EDIT – the fact that I’ve renames this cake means it’s also eligible for this month’s AlphaBakes challenge, hosted alternately by Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline at Caroline Makes – A for Aubergine!

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I understand the chemistry of how these ingredients can come together and actually make a cake, but they do, and it is so worth trying, and I am especially glad to have a recipe I know I can turn to if I need to cater for multiple dietary requirements that no one would ever guess is a ‘free-from’ cake’.

I am now keen to expand my vegetable baking repertoire – I’ve done courgette, carrot and squash, and I’ve seen a few recipes for beetroot and parsnip, but is there anything even more unusual out there? If you have any weird and wonderful recipes, let me know!

Aubergine chocolate cake (adapted from Harry Eastwood’s recipe in the Green & Black’s cookbook)

  • 2 medium aubergines (400g raw weight)
  • 300g dark chocolate
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 200g clear honey
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • cocoa powder to dust

Start by piercing the aubergines with a sharp knife, placing in a bowl covered with clingfilm, and microwaving on full power for about 8 minutes, or until completely soft. If you don’t have a microwave I think baking the aubergines whole would work too, it would just take a lot longer.

When the aubergines are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins and blitz the flesh in a food processor with the dark chocolate, until the chocolate has completely melted and there are no lumps of aubergine left. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, honey, cocoa, almonds and baking powder until bubbly and doubled in volume, then fold in the chocolate aubergine mixture.

Pour the cake mix into a greased and lined 9″ round tin, and bake on the bottom shelf of your oven at 170 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until risen at the edges and starting to crack. Leave to cool in the tin, then turn out onto a serving place and dust liberally with cocoa powder.

Ginger chocolate shortbread bars

Ginger chocolate shortbread bars

Ginger is one of my favourite flavours and when I hosted We Should Cocoa back in October I came very close to choosing it before settling on pumpkin instead, so I was more than a bit happy that birthday girl Jen at Blue Kitchen Bakes chose it for this month – the only difficulty was deciding what to bake!

I was toying with a few recipe ideas that used chunks of either stem or crystallised ginger, but the pony and I are attempting to have a bit of a money saving month (although he is doing a bit better than me!) so I ended up using what I already had on hand, in the form of ground ginger.

Inspired by these ginger crunch bars at Technicolour Kitchen, I set about making a sort of ginger version of millionaire’s shortbread, which is one of the pony’s favourites.

I used my own shortbread recipe, the icing from Technicolour Kitchen, and finished it with a layer of dark chocolate. If you are a ginger lover like me, then these bars beat millionaire’s shortbread hands down – the icing is so so good and the ginger really cuts through the sweetness.

I made quite a large batch of these, so I’m really hoping the pony devours them quickly or I can see myself heading back to the tub again, and again, and again…

These bars are my entry to We Should Cocoa, founded by Choclette and Chele and this month hosted over at Blue Kitchen Bakes. Be sure to check out all the other ginger goodies at the end of the month!

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Ginger chocolate shortbread bars

Makes 18 bars

For the base:

  • 250g butter
  • 330g plain flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 110g caster sugar

For the topping:

  • 150g butter
  • 80g golden syrup
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
  • 225g icing sugar
  • 200g dark chocolate

To make the base, stir the ginger into the flour and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar then press into the base of a greased and lined 9×11″ shallow rectangular tin. Bake at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until just starting to go golden, then leave to cool in the tin.

For the ginger layer, heat the butter, golden syrup and ginger in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring until the butter has melted. Sift in the icing sugar then whisk until no lumps remain. Pour over the base and leave to set at room temperature.

Melt the chocolate over a low heat, don’t let it get too hot, then spread over the set ginger layer. Leave at room temperature until the chocolate has just hardened then cut into bars.

Wheat, dairy and (almost) sugar free chocolate oat bars

Wheat, dairy and (almost) sugar free chocolate oat bars

When Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog picked ‘sugar free’ as the health-conscious theme for this month’s We Should Cocoa, I had a fairly good idea of what I would make – something similar to the chocolate fudge bites I made last year, but in a bar form that the pony could take to work.

It worked out quite well, as for the past three weeks I haven’t had a working oven, so no-bake treats are about all I’ve been able to make (don’t worry, the oven issue has now been sorted, so no more moaning I promise!)

I adapted this recipe from Love Veggies and Yoga, switching the cinnamon and vanilla for cocoa powder for added chocolatey-ness. I also forgot to add the milk, and wondered why the mixture didn’t seem to be sticking together – oops! But luckily adding extra honey sorted it out, and had the benefit of turning them into a dairy-free treat as well.

Technically speaking, these aren’t 100% sugar free, as the dark chocolate I used wasn’t 100% pure, but they definitely needed the extra chocolate on top in order to be acceptable to the pony, so hopefully Choclette will let me off!

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I’m really looking forward to seeing the round up and all the ingenious ways WSC-ers manage to go sugar free – although I do kind of hope I’m not the only person to cheat a bit…

Wheat, dairy and (almost) sugar free chocolate oat bars (adapted from Love Veggies and Yoga)

  • 300g rolled oats
  • 200g smooth peanut butter (I used a 25% less fat version)
  • 120g pitted dates
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • between 100-200g clear honey
  • 120g dark chocolate, melted
  • 40g dark chocolate, chopped

Add the oats, dates, peanut butter, cocoa powder and 100g honey to a food processor and blitz until everything is finely chopped and the mixture starts to come together. It needs to stick together if you press it into clumps with your fingers, so if it’s not doing that keep adding more honey until it gets to the right consistency. Press very firmly into the base of an 8×8″ square cake tin and leave to set in the fridge.

Melt the 120g dark chocolate and spread in a layer over the oat bars. Sprinkle the 40g chopped chocolate on top white the melted chocolate is still runny so the bits stick, then leave to set before slicing into squares.

Nutella-filled cinnamon sugar muffins

Nutella-filled cinnamon sugar muffins

I absolutely adore cinnamon (despite spending the first 22 years or so of my life hating it) so when Choclette chose it as this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge ingredient it should have been easy for me to think of things to bake.

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In a way it was, I had plenty of ideas, but things have been a bit manic in my kitchen recently, what with making Christmas gifts, food for parties and catering to the pony’s rather specific needs (quick to eat breakfasts and bars he can take to work), so finding a way of squeezing cinnamon in was actually harder than I expected.

Attempt one was cinnamon chocolate shortbread, which was a disaster, but attempt two, these Nutella-filled cinnamon sugar muffins, was a resounding success.

I’m aware my last post also featured both muffins and Nutella, but who cares because it’s a great combination.

The Nutella is baked into the centre, so when you eat one warm you get a lovely melty surprise when you bit into it, and the tops are brushed with melted butter and rolled in cinnamon sugar which make them a lot like cinnamon sugar doughnuts – basically, finger-lickingly irresistible.

Even the pony, despite claiming not to like cinnamon, has been happily having two a day for breakfast, which I put down to Nutella’s having the baking equivalent of the Midas touch – it just makes everything into food gold!

Nutella-filled cinnamon sugar muffins (recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

  • 70g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
  • 125ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 180g plain flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg
  • pinch salt
  • 8 tsp Nutella (about 50g)

For the topping:

  • 25g butter, melted
  • 35g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add in the egg and vanilla followed by the milk, beating until you have a smooth, fairly liquid batter. Sift together the remaining dry ingredients, then fold into the batter gently until no white flour bits remain.

Butter and flour 8 holes of a muffin tray, then drop a good tablespoon of cake batter into each. Place a teaspoon of Nutella in the centre of each muffin, then finish by dividing the remaining cake batter between the cops, completely covering the Nutella. Bake at 200 degrees for 5 minutes, then drop down to 170 degrees and cook for a further 15-20 minutes, or until the muffins are well risen, golden and springy to the touch.

Transfer to a wire rack as son as they’re cool enough to handle – it’s easier to get them out of the tin that way. Brush the tops with melted butter, then mix the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and roll the muffin tops in it to coat. Eat while warm, or leave to cool and pop in the microwave for a few seconds before serving.

We Should Cocoa – the Pumpkin round up

As soon as I set the challenge for this month’sWe Should Cocoa, I immediately went into panic mode – would anyone enter? Would this be the lowest WSC turn out ever?

Luckily I needn’t have worried – loads of you took part for which I am eternally grateful! There have been some absolutely delicious chocolate and pumpkin creations sent through, so without further ado…

First up was Dom from Belleau Kitchen, who had handily already made this fantastic sounding pumpkin, walnut and white chocolate loaf cake. Not only does it sound like a great combination of flavours, but it’s finished with a cream and cream cheese icing which I can’t wait to try.

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The next entry was another loaf cake, from Suelle of Mainly Baking. I’m definitely with Sue on the love of Autumn baking, and I think the pumpkin and maple would pair up brilliantly in this pumpkin, chocolate and maple loaf.

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Loaf cakes were a popular choice for this challenge, and I had a go at one myself for my first entry – this chocolate and pumpkin marble loaf. I slightly underbaked it but it was enjoyed nonetheless!

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As I was hosting, I decided to take the liberty of entering twice this month – my second effort being some pumpkin spiced chocolate chip flapjacks. They turned out well and were even a little bit healthy!

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Next up, Ros from the More Than Occasional Baker, who already had a tin of pumpkin puree on hand after stocking up on Halloween baking goodies in America. Ros put it to great use in these chocolate chip pumpkin bars, which also have the great mix of spices that compliment pumpkin so well.

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This month’s first savoury entry came from Hannah of Corner Cottage Bakery, who came up with a very inventive way of combining pumpkin and chocolate – a pumpkin seed bread sandwich, with butternut squash and cocoa maple glazed bacon. Even though I’m a veggie I do have to admit it looks kind of good…

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These triple chocolate pumpkin cookies from Cake of the Week were eaten so quickly that Janine had to rustle up another batch to enjoy some herself – always a sign of a good cookie! Even the carved pumpkin got in on the act…

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While pumpkin was a very seasonal choice for those of us here in the Northern Hemisphere, for Mel of Sharky Oven Gloves in New Zealand they’re not quite so easy to come by in the spring! Luckily she got inventive and came up with these Aztec roasted pumpkin seeds – I’ll never throw seeds away again!

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For Zimt und Chili this chocolate cheese pumpkin tart was their first ever We Should Cocoa entry, and a first attempt at making cheesecake, but was a resounding success – well done!

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Another We Should Cocoa first-timer, Louisa at Chez Foti came up with a chocolate pumpkin cake that looks so dense and moist it’s almost brownie-like, and it’s even a little bit healthy.

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Pumpkin was also chosen as the ingredient for this month’s One Ingredient challenge, and¬†Laura at How To Cook Good Food¬†combined the two challenges to come up with this dark and delicious looking spiced pumpkin, rum and choc chip loaf, which looks like just my sort of cake.

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How cute are these pumpkin-shaped pumpkin pie fudge bites from Alicia at Foodycat?! I’m a bit of a novice when it comes to fudge, so I liked Alicia’s handy tip about melting white chocolate into the fudge to make it creamier – will have to give that a try!

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I was really hoping someone would make the American classic, pumpkin pie, so I was delighted to see Alice’s twist on it at Italian Inspirationcaramel pumpkin pie with chocolate. It does indeed look incredible.

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The way food can bring back memories is amazing, and I loved reading¬†Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe recounting how she used to carry a pack of McVities chocolate digestives in her backpack while travelling around England – it is the quintessentially English biscuit! These homemade pumpkin chocolate digestives look delicious and I can’t believe how simple the recipe is – another one to try in the future…

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As much as I like sweet treats, I think savoury use of chocolate is brilliant, and this roasted pumpkin with mole sauce is no exception! Jill at Lapin d’Or and More adapted a recipe for Mole sauce usually used with meat, and added home grown chillies which I am more than a bit jealous of!

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Inspired by watching Chocolat and reading Like Water for Chocolate, Debby at Storm in a Teacup also created a vegetarian dish using a mole sauce, with this hearty looking pumpkin and chocolate chilli – a lovely warming winter meal.

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Also going down the savoury route was Karen of Lavender and Lovage, who made a brilliantly titled Bonfire Chilli with beef, pumpkin and chocolate. Have a read of Karen’s post for her celebration of all things Autumn – it’s almost enough to make me stop missing the summer sun!

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Loaf cakes were definitely a popular choice this month, and this is another great one from Eira at Cookbooks Galore. Eira’s pumpkin and oatmeal loaf cake has a chocolate and sour cream icing, which I reckon would be perfect as a mid-morning cake with a cup of coffee.

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Susan at The Spice Garden came up with another great way of using chocolate and pumpkin, in these rather tempting pumpkin eclairs. The eclairs are filled with a pumpkin spices pastry cream and topped with a chocolate hazelnut ganache, and for a first ever attempt at eclairs look pretty impressive to me!

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After fretting that no one would like my choice of ingredient, I was really over the moon that not only did it get lots of entries but also attracted several WSC virgins – Helen from The Crazy Kitchen being the third. Despite being rather disappointed by the pumpkin she bought specifically for the challenge, Helen managed to come with an amazing ‘Devilishly Chocolatey Chocolate Orange Pumpkin & Potato Cake‘ using leftover butternut squash and potato mash topped with a chocolate spread icing.

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Katharine from Leeks & Limoni started her post by apologising for blogging about two chocolate cakes in quick succession – certainly not something that needs an apology in my book! This chocolate and pumpkin cake is described as having a fudgy, moist texture, rich, chocolatey flavour and a hint of spicyness – who wouldn’t want a slice of that?

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This pumpkin chocolate mud cake, from Claire at Under the Blue Gum Tree, is a Dan Lepard recipe which I’ve had bookmarked for ages but never got around to making. Claire’s description and photos make me think I really should, and I wholeheartedly agree that a splash of rum can never be a bad thing…

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Dan Lepard’s pumpkin chocolate mud cake was the first recipe that came to mind for Caroline of Cake, Crumbs and Cooking as well, but realising she had already made and blogged about it Caroline instead went with these ginger pumpkin chocolate cupcakes ¬†– an adaptation of another DL recipe, very different but equally delicious looking.

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Lucy from The Kitchen Maid did well to find a pumpkin in the Southern Hemisphere at this time of year, and put it to good use in this chocolate pumpkin mousse. A pumpkin cheesecake with a lid of chocolate ganache – sounds rich and compelling to me!

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I was a little surprised not to see more brownies and blondies this month, as I thought they would be something pumpkin would lend itself well to, but they have made it in thanks to Jen from Blue Kitchen Bakes, who came up with these nutty pumpkin blondies. Combining nuts with the pumpkin and chocolate has been quite popular, and these are another great example.

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Fleur from Homemade By Fleur found that pumpkin puree can be baked into pretty much anything, and like me had a go at adding it to flapjacks, to great effect. These pumpkin, cranberry and chocolate flapjacks look great, and went down very well as a healthy snack in her girls’ lunchboxes.

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I have to say, I was a little concerned when come October 24th I still hadn’t seen an entry from We Should Cocoa founder Choclette, of Chocolate Log Blog, and wondered if she might have accidentally drowned in salted caramel, but at the last minute she sent over these pumpkin, goats cheese and chocolate muffins – definitely an unusual combination of ingredients but it sounds like they worked well!

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EDIT!

This chocolate pumpkin cheesecake came in as a last minute entry from Caroline Makes – although it’s a few days after the deadline I LOVE cheesecake so I couldn’t really say no! And especially not when the cheesecake involves a chocolate swirl and Hersey’s Kisses…

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So there you have it, a fantastic line up of chocolate and pumpkin delights – thank you so much to everyone who entered and to Choclette for inviting me to host – I’ve really enjoyed it!

Pumpkin spiced chocolate chip flapjacks (GF)

As the host of this month’s We Should Cocoa, I am taking the liberty of entering twice – no one can stop me! Mwahahaha…

The pony’s new job involves quite a lot of physical work meaning he needs to eat EVEN MORE than before, so I’ve been trying out quite a few recipes for various bars that are easily transportable and can snacked on whenever he has a spare minute.

I found this recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip granola bars at Two Peas and Their Pod that seemed to fit the bill, as well as tying in nicely with my selection of pumpkin for We Should Cocoa.

In my mind, granola bars implies more add-ins, clumps and crunchy bits, which is why I’ve renamed these flapjacks, but really the name isn’t that important – the incredible smell of them baking is!

I have absolutely fallen in love with my pumpkin pie spice and am using it wherever I can. I don’t think I’ll be getting bored of it for a while, so apologies to any spice-haters – normal non-spice service will be resumed eventually…

I made a few substitutions to make the recipe fit what I had on hand, including swapping apple sauce for a mashed over-ripe banana and honey for golden syrup, but they turned out fine, and I think this recipe could probably be adapted a lot further if you wanted to.

Added bonus is that these bars are both gluten and dairy free (and vegan) with the pumpkin and banana taking the place of butter. If you wanted to make them healthier, you could probably swap the sugar for calorie-free sweetener – something I will be trying soon…

Pumpkin spiced chocolate chip flapjacks (GF) (recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

  • 325g rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 125g fresh pumpkin puree
  • 70g (1 small) ripe banana, mashed
  • 65g golden syrup
  • 150g light brown sugar

Add the oats, spice and chocolate to a large bowl and stir to mix together. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, banana, golden syrup and sugar until no lumps remain, then add this to the oat mixture, stirring in until all the oats are covered. Press down firmly into an 8×8″ square baking tin, lined with baking paper, then bake at 180 degrees for around 35 minutes, or until golden and crisp on top. The bars will stay chewy because of the pumpkin, but undercooking could make them soggy so be warned!

This is my second entry for We Should Cocoa Рthanks again to Choclette and Chele for letting me host!

I’m also going to enter these flapjacks to the One Ingredient Challenge, hosted by Laura at How To Cook Good Food and Nazima at Franglais Kitchen, who chose pumpkin as this month’s ingredient.