Simple Chocolate Milkshake Recipe


This is all at once simple, quick and delicious. Perfect to whip up on a lazy Sunday morning.

Ingredients

475ml milk
30g brown sugar
2 tbsp best quality cocoa powder
1 tsp malt syrup (optional)

Makes 2 large glasses.

Method

Whizz all ingredients with a hand blender.

Part of the beauty of this recipe is that it’s so easy to adapt to your taste. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon if you like, replace some of the sugar for homemade cardamom syrup, add a scoop of peanut butter ice cream, use whatever kind of milk you like (dairy, coconut, almond, soya)… and it only takes a couple of minutes.

Yum yum.

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How to Caramelise White Chocolate

The important question of whether white chocolate is really chocolate becomes a little redundant here, as you’ll be so busy eating this by the spoonful you won’t care.
caramelised white chocolate
(In case you are interested in my opinion on this much-discussed subject, I would argue that white chocolate IS chocolate. Cocoa beans are made up of approximately 50% cocoa butter, which is a main ingredient in white chocolate, alongside sugar… so if dark, milk and white chocolate all share cocoa beans as their defining ingredient, I think they can all safely be classed as chocolate.)

You’ll be pleased to hear that making this heavenly caramelised treat is really very easy to do yourself. All you need is some good quality white chocolate, a baking pan, an oven and a spatula.

Pre-heat your oven to 125°C. Place as much chocolate as you want to caramelise on the baking sheet, chopping it into chunks if it’s not already in button-sized pieces, and place in the oven.

Every ten to fifteen minutes, give the chocolate a stir with your spatula, making sure to move it all around to prevent scorching the edges and to ensure even caramelisation. It may be a bit solid and grainy, but coax it with your spatula until it becomes smoother and spreadable. You may find it browning on the bottom more than the top.Caramelising white chocolate

About an hour or maybe 90 minutes later, you should have something gorgeous-looking.

You are causing the delicious Maillard reaction to occur between the milk and the sugar within the chocolate, resulting in caramelisation.

You can take it as dark as you want – the longer you leave it, the more caramelised it will become (up to a point… use your common sense people!). If you like, stir in some fine sea salt to balance the sweetness and accentuate that caramel flavour.

I defy you to resist eating it with just a spoon. However, if you have such ungodly willpower, there are a thousand and one uses for caramelised white chocolate. It is great made into a ganache (by mixing it with cream), which can be used for truffles or to cover a cake. You can use it as a filling for sandwich biscuits or cookies, incorporate it into a buttercream, drizzle it on ice cream or poached fruit, ice buns or eclairs with it, make it into a caramel sauce… the options are almost endless.

I think I’m going to use mine to make cornflake crispies. Nothing like a bit of sweet caramel and crunch.

Enjoy!

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How to churn butter in a jar

Yup, that’s right. All you need is some cream and a jar. Being a chocolatier, cream and butter are like old friends to me. I use them both in many of my recipes, and sometimes, there’s a little leftover cream after a spell in the kitchen. I find it very hard to throw anything with even a smidge of potential away – so this is the perfect solution. Make butter!

If you can, use double cream as this will yield the most butter (double cream has a higher fat content than say, whipping or single).

Pour your leftover cream into a jar, filling it about two-thirds full. I used around 150ml double cream, which was what was left in the fridge and didn’t have much life left on it.

Screw the lid on tight.

Shake.

Shake as if your life depended on it.

This is going to be a pretty good workout, as you’ll be shaking for about 10-15 minutes. First, you’ll make whipped cream, then you’ll feel when the butter begins to separate, as there will be a gentle thud in the jar with each movement. You should have what looks exactly like a blob of yellow butter sitting in milk. Shake a bit longer to help all the fat molecules bind together, then pour out the liquid into another container. Save it – this is buttermilk and can be used for many different recipes – bread, soup, pancakes…

Put your butter onto a board and press out the remaining buttermilk using a wooden spoon. You really want the butter to be as dry as possible – any remaining buttermilk will make the butter spoil as quickly as cream. You can also rinse your butter to get rid of any last remaining drops of buttermilk – knead it under cold running water. Now is the time to add any flavourings, if you wish. Dry the butter by gently dabbing with a paper towel and knead in sea salt, dried herbs, garlic powder or whatever takes your fancy. Shape it and wrap it in greaseproof paper, and marvel at what you have just made before popping it into the fridge. Ta-da! Homechurned butter!

homemade butter

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Matzah toffee


So it’s Easter Sunday, and while most people are eating their Easter eggs, I have been nibbling (okay, okay, devouring) my matzah toffee. A layer of matzah covered in a layer of toffee covered in a layer of chocolate. I’d been planning to make this for weeks, ever since I found a recipe for it. A simple, quick and delicious recipe. It’s crunchy and sweet and a little bit salty all at once. During Passover, we eat lots of matzah, which is essentially a plain dry cracker that replaces all the usual foods containing wheat or other grains (and then some). This recipe jazzes up the matzah with yummy butter, sugar and chocolate. That’s my kind of treat.

I used David Lebovitz’s recipe, which is simple and quick. I felt pangs of guilt for using chocolate chips rather than good quality chocolate, and for just melting the chocolate and spreading it, rather than tempering it. But David said it was okay (and if it’s good enough for David Lebovitz, the accomplished pastry chef living in Paris, it’s good enough for me), so I went with it and it was delicious. In fact, this would even be tempting any time of year. Crunch crunch crunch.

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How to build a chocolate house

I am quite the seasoned gingerbread-house builder, having constructed quite a number over the years. However, I’ve always wanted to progress to using a different medium: chocolate.

So when the lovely Emily of Babkalicious said she had been given a huge block of chocolate, and what should she do with it, I immediately knew what had to be done. One cold and rainy Sunday a few weeks later, we spent a fabulous afternoon building our very own chocolate house.

And here’s how:

You will need at least 500g chocolate, though more is better (the bigger your chocolate house, the better, right?). We used about 650g.

Temper the chocolate and spread on a large piece of parchment paper like so:

After about 20 minutes, once it has set, heat a large, straight-edged knife, and carefully cut out your house shapes using a template (I used this one, but there are hundreds out there). You may need to keep re-heating your knife – if you use water to heat it, make sure it is totally dry when near the chocolate. You could also use the hob or something like a hairdryer.

Once you have all your pieces cut out in chocolate, it’s time for assembly. Choose a plate and start with one side piece and the back of the house. To stick the pieces together, warm an empty saucepan over the stove. Remove it from the heat and turn it upside down. Gently melt the edges of your house pieces on the bottom of the pan, stick together and hold for a minute or two until they are secure. Repeat with all pieces of your chocolate house, leaving the roof pieces until last.

Don’t forget to stick on the door! You could go wild and decorate your house, but we decided that less was more with ours. Try to build your house in a cool room – otherwise it can be easy to mark up your chocolate house with fingerprints (excuse ours – the excitement of it all was too much!).

Overall, a very successful and fairly sturdy, not to mention delicious, building.

Next step: Project Chocolate Castle. With turrets and everything. Oh yes.

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Waffles with chocolate sauce

These are perfect for a naughty Sunday breakfast. Warm, crisp, light and chocolatey, they are guaranteed to beat away those winter blues. It’s well worth investing in a waffle iron – they aren’t too expensive and who can say no to homemade weekend waffles?

Waffles recipe
185g flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
6g sugar
2 eggs, separated
110g butter, melted
390ml milk

Chocolate sauce
100ml cream
90g chopped chocolate

Mix together all dry ingredients. Add egg yolks, milk and butter and mix well. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff, then fold into the mixture. Ladle batter into a hot buttered waffle iron and cook for around 3 minutes.

To make chocolate sauce, heat the cream to scorching point (when you see those first few bubbles), then pour onto the chopped chocolate. Stir from the centre with a spatula to emulsify and pour generously onto your hot waffles. Mmmm-mm.

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Florentinies

Happy New Year chocolovers! Here’s to a successful and joyful 2013 for us all.

I love florentines, especially at this time of year. They get me into the festive winter spirit, with their dried fruits and nuts, sticky sweetness and warm colours. This year, I decided to make florentine mini-bites, or as I’ve newly named them, florentinies.

These are chewy and a bit soft in the middle, filled with soft dried figs, stem ginger, currants, dried apricots, citrus peel, blackcurrants and toasted almonds.

They’ve been given the finishing touch with a glossy spread of dark chocolate.

Ingredients
25g butter
75g brown sugar
6g flour
75ml crème fraîche
70g flaked almonds, toasted
1 stem ginger ‘nut’, finely chopped
70g mixed dried fruit of your choice
Tempered dark chocolate, as needed

Method
Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Heat together butter, sugar and flour over a medium flame, stirring continuously. When all melted, add crème fraîche and stir well. Mix in all other ingredients. Spoon out into a silicone muffin tin for uniform pieces. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown and bubbling, then transfer to a cooling rack. When cool, spread with melted, tempered chocolate and leave for a few minutes to set. Yum yum!

Makes around 15 florentinies. Store for several days in an airtight container, or even better, invite some friends over to eat them up immediately!

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Banana and chocolate bread

There were a couple of old, browning bananas looking desperate in the fruit bowl. So I took pity on them and put them to good use, transforming them into a tempting banana bread. It’s not really a bread (that’s just to make you feel better about what you’re eating), it’s more of a cake. Dark chocolate chips make it all the more satisfying. I adapted this recipe from Green and Black’s Ultimate Chocolate Recipes, substituting some of the white sugar for brown for a deeper, more treacly flavour.

Ingredients
225g self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
100g butter at room temperature
100g caster sugar
75g brown sugar
2 eggs
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
3 tbsp milk
100g chocolate chips or chunks

Method
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a loaf tin.
Cream together butter and sugars.
Add eggs, bananas and milk, mixing thoroughly.
Sift in flour and salt, mixing minimally to prevent releasing the gluten in the flour, which would give a heavier texture.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Pour mixture into tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 45-60 minutes.

Wait until it cools, cut thick slices and eat warm, while the chocolate is still gooey. This is a gorgeous, moist cake. The addition of some chopped walnuts might go nicely…

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Blackcurrant triangles

This summer is supposed to be all about Britishness, right? So without being overly patriotic, I’ve opted for a summer blackcurrant flavour for this month’s new chocolate. Significant blackcurrant cultivation in the UK began during WWII, when fruits rich in vitamin C, such as oranges, became scarce. The government encouraged the growth of blackcurrants as an alternative VitC source, and it has remained a popular British flavour ever since.

These chocolate triangles contain a very smooth white chocolate ganache centre, blended with blackcurrants and crème de cassis, topped with blackcurrant compote. Isn’t the purple colour gorgeous?

The compote gives that unmistakeable blackcurrant tang, contrasting with the creamy centre. It finishes with a bit of texture from the fruit in the compote and a pleasing cocoa taste from the dark milk chocolate enrobing.

Each chocolate has been given a light dusting of purple and pink chocolate shavings, adding a flash of colour to match what’s inside.

I have also decided to finally take up the We Should Cocoa challenge (hosted by Chocolate Teapot and Chocolate Log Blog), after years of reading other food bloggers’ entries. This month’s special ingredient, blackcurrants, was particularly inspiring since it’s a seasonal ingredient, and I’ve rarely used them before.

So, here’s my entry and the recipe for blackcurrant triangle chocolates:

Make blackcurrant butter ganache by mixing together 120g best quality unsalted butter at room temperature, with 130g blackcurrant compote (made by boiling down blackcurrants with sugar to taste until a jam-like consistency is reached). When smooth, gradually add in 300g tempered white chocolate, mixing as you go. Stir in 35g crème de cassis, pour into a frame and leave to set for at least an hour.

Spread a thin layer of tempered dark milk chocolate onto the slab. Once the chocolate is almost set, cut into triangles with a sharp knife. With the chocolate on the bottom of each triangle, pipe a little dab of compote on top of each ganache triangle. Now comes the really tricky part: dip the triangles in the tempered dark milk chocolate without the compote falling off! Sprinkle with shavings of coloured chocolate and leave to set. Et voila!

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Lemon ice cream

(Apologies for another lemon post – it’s just that it’s the summer, and I bought a glut of lemons, and they’re yummy.)

I often have a craving for lemon ice cream in the summer. Not lemon sorbet – I mean the real deal. Lemon ice cream. It reminds me of holidays in France, scorching sunny days cooled down by this refreshing treat.

However, it can be hard to get hold of in this country (you have to really make an effort to find it), so I resolved to make some myself. I had an old recipe I’d made years ago, but the scrap of paper it was written on had seen better days, so I took a glance at what I could determine from it and made the rest up. This is my rambling prelude to an apology for the impreciseness of the recipe below, as it relied heavily upon what was in the fridge.

Ingredients
300ml whipping cream
100ml double cream
Pared zest of 2½ lemons (use a vegetable peeler, it’s easier and quicker than a grater)
1½ lemons’ juice
¾ cup sugar

Method
Heat the cream with the sugar and zest to scorching point (just under the boil). Leave to cool and infuse for around 4 hours. Stir in the lemon juice. If you have an ice cream machine, strain out the zest and transfer it into there to freeze. If you don’t, strain and transfer to a tupperware container and place into the freezer. After 45 minutes, break up the ice crystals that begin to form with a spatula or other utensil by stirring briskly, breaking up the frozen bits around the edges. Return to freezer and repeat around every 30 minutes or so until it is frozen. This should take 2-3 hours and will ensure a smoother, creamier ice cream.

Melty cold sweet tangy creamy refeshing ice cream. Perfect.

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