Sweet sweet Friday: Boozy Truffles

We Should Cocoa, the sweet little blogging event brought into the world by Chele and Choclette, is one this month. Hasn’t it grown? I feel particularly attached to WSC, in the manner of a doting aunt, because it was the first blogging challenge I felt brave enough to enter. This blog baby has been just like the real thing, causing late nights (unable to sleep after eating too many chocolate caramel bars), tears (my jeans don’t fit – was it that last slice of chocolate roulade?) and moments of triumph (beautifying chocolate honey tea). Mostly though, just like a real baby, it’s been a way to discover lots of other likeminded souls. So thank you, Chele and Choclette, I can’t wait to see how your baby grows from here.

Boozy Chocolate Truffles
The theme of this month’s WSC challenge is to make something suitable for a first birthday. As luck would have it, I went to a first birthday party last weekend and made up a batch of these decadent truffles for the parents of twins Alex and Will. These are strictly adults only – I boxed them up and called them ‘Parenting Pills: Take one and lie down when suffering from symptoms of extreme parenting’. The twins’ mum, who must be the most calm person I know, later emailed that she had upped the dose to three. I think that’s testimony to their addictive nature.

250g dark chocolate, roughly chopped (I use Whittaker’s 72% Dark Ghana)
50g butter
125ml cream
3Tbsp dark rum (or brandy, or whisky, or a liqueur of your choice)
1 egg yolk
2 x 70g packets of hundreds and thousands (non pareils) or similar

Put the chocolate, butter, cream and rum into a heatproof bowl and put into a low oven – or over a saucepan of simmering water, or in a microwave – and melt, stirring occasionally. The oven method is really easy, as long as you don’t forget it’s there.
Let cool for a minute or two, then stir in the egg yolk until well mixed. Let cool for 10 minutes, then chill in the fridge until set (about an hour).
Roll teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls – this is a sticky job, don’t even think about answering the phone etc while you’re doing it – then roll in the hundreds and thousands. You can use sifted cocoa instead for a chic-er look, but the coloured sprinkles are very cheerful and make a nice textural contrast. Keep in the fridge until serving.

Have a sweet, sweet Friday everyone x

Sweet sweet Friday: Giant Meringues

I went to a wedding party last weekend. The bride wore blue suede shoes and a pretend veil; I wore the proud smile of someone who had managed to carry a platter of beautiful marbled chocolate and rosewater meringues across town without breaking any of them.

Giant Chocolate Meringues

Chocolate and rosewater meringues
This is essentially the giant meringue recipe from the Ottolenghi cookbook, with a little added chocolate marbled through them for fun. Don’t even think about making these without a really robust freestanding mixer – come over and I’ll make them for you. The only tricky bit is pouring the hot sugar into the egg whites – don’t try this with small children or pets underfoot. This is my entry for August’s We Should Cocoa blogging event, in which the special guest ingredient is rose.

600g caster sugar
300g egg whites (I find this is about 8 large free-range ones), at room temperature
2tsp rosewater
75g dark chocolate, melted and cooled (but not cold)

Preheat the oven to 200C and spread the sugar on a large roasting dish lined with baking paper. Put the dish into the oven and leave for about 10 minutes, or until you can see the sugar start to melt at the edges.  While the sugar is in the oven, put the egg whites into the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Just before the sugar is ready, start the machine on high speed and let the whites froth up.
Carefully pour the hot sugar onto the whites in a slow, steady stream (with the machine still whisking), then add the rosewater. Keep beating on high speed for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is thick, silky and billowing. It should hold its shape when you lift a spoonful from the bowl (make sure you turn the machine OFF before you dip a spoon in!).
Turn the oven down to 110C and line two baking trays with baking paper. Gently marble the melted chocolate through the meringue mixture and scoop large blobs onto the prepared trays. Keep in mind that they will double in size in the oven, so leave plenty of space between them. You should make 10-12. Carefully place in the oven and bake for about two hours, until the outsides are completely firm but the centres are still a little soft. A little chocolate will leak from the bottom – don’t panic, this is normal. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before storing in a cool, dry place until you can no longer resist them.

Have a sweet, sweet Friday, everyone. I’m off to eat and drink my way around the Hunter Valley!

We Should Cocoa: Apricot, Chocolate & Ginger Cake

I had all sorts of ideas for this month’s We Should Cocoa, in which apricots are the special guest ingredient. We can buy incredible Otago dried apricots here, which are bright orange, intensely tangy and about a million times tastier than the pallid Turkish imports. They’re also about a million times more expensive – go figure how they manage that. Anyway, I planned to dip these local nuggets into locally made dark chocolate, but the Small Girl and I accidentally ate most of them for morning tea. Then I remembered the tins of apricots lurking in the pantry and had the sort of recipe epiphany that only food nerds understand. This dark, moist cake was the result.

Apricot, Chocolate & Ginger Cake
This is a reimagining of Nigella’s Clementine Cake, which I’ve made so often I could probably make it in my sleep. I’ve replaced the cooked, pureed clementines with apricots and added a touch of ginger.

400g drained tinned apricots (annoyingly, about 1 1/2 400g tins)
6 eggs
50g cocoa
200g ground almonds
250g caster sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line a 23cm springform cake tin. Put the drained apricots in a food processor and blitz to a fine puree. Add all the other ingredients and whiz again until well mixed. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35-45 minutes – it will be damp and sticky but a toothpick plunged in should come out cleanly. Let cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then turn out to cool on a rack.

Sweet sweet Friday: Chocolate Roulade

Want to know how to make a Swiss roll? Push him off an alp (boom boom)!
Want to make a delectable chocolate roulade? Then you should try this recipe, which was the special occasion pudding of choice when I was a child. This is my sister’s recipe, which was written out and stuck to a page of my mother’s spiral-bound recipe notebook. It was a long time before I felt grown-up enough to tackle it on my own, but it’s actually ridiculously easy. What is not so easy is photographing it late at night after a glass of wine or two. Warning, extremely dodgy chocolate roulade shot approaching…

Marion’s Chocolate Roulade
This is my entry for this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge. You can’t tell from this terrible photo, but it’s light, chocolatey and rolls like a dream around some rum-soaked raspberries and cream.

6 large eggs, separated
155g caster sugar
50g cocoa. sifted

300ml cream
brandy or rum

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line a sponge roll tin. (I didn’t have a tin big enough, so I just lined about half of a roasting dish. Worked perfectly!)
Beat the egg yolks until beginning to thicken, gradually add caster sugar and whisk until pale and thick. Mix in cocoa.
Whisk egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff but not dry. Fold into the chocolate mixture (stir in a large spoonful first to lighten it, then fold in the rest with large, gentle strokes). Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 20-20 minutes, until springy.
Cool slightly, then turn out onto a sheet of greaseproof paper and roll up.
To serve, unroll, remove the paper and spread with whipped cream etc. Re-roll gently. Dust some icing sugar over the top and serve.

Sweet sweet Friday: We Should Cocoa – Lime Twitter Bars

Did you know the white stuff doesn’t count if you are giving chocolate up for Lent? It’s true. I read it on the internet. Anyway, I needed to make something for the March We Should Cocoa challenge and I wasn’t going to be so irresponsible as to make something and not taste it. That would be an even greater sin!

In the spirit of killing two birds and all that, today’s post is also announcing that The Kitchenmaid has gotten out of the scullery long enough to get on Twitter. I don’t think I’ve nailed recipes in 140 characters or less yet, but it’s going to be fun to try.

Lime Twitter Bars
Even if you don’t like white chocolate – and I’m not usually a big fan – this is heavenly. It keeps well in the fridge (if you have good willpower).

125g butter
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 packet plain sweet biscuits
120g white chocolate, smashed into bits
1 cup desiccated coconut
grated rind of 3 limes

130g white chocolate
2Tbsp butter
3/4 cup icing sugar
juice of three limes (about 2-3Tbsp)

Melt the butter and condensed milk together over low heat in a large pot and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, reduce the biscuits to crumbs, either in a food processor or put them in a strong plastic bag and bash them with a rolling pin, pestle or wine bottle. This is good for relieving tension, but make sure the plastic bag is up to the task or you’ll find yourself retrieving biscuit crumbs from all over the kitchen, which is quite stressful.
Tip the crumbs, white chocolate bits, coconut and grated zest into the butter mixture and stir until well combined. Press this into a lined slice tin (27x18cm) and set aside.
For the icing, melt the white chocolate and butter together VERY gently. Sift in the icing sugar and lime juice and beat to form a smooth, shiny paste. Spread this over the crumb base and sprinkle on a little extra zest if you feel like it. Refrigerate until set (about 30 minutes), then cut into bars. Store it in the fridge. Don’t forget to tweet me what you think of it!