First it was bread, then pie – now pudding is the latest recipe challenge to to enjoy it’s moment in the sun. The reason? I’ve….erm, become addicted to the mystery box challenge in Master Chef. Basically, each week they get a mystery box of ingredients and have one hour to wow the judges with their creation. Almost always, from the relative safety of my sofa, I can think of something to make out of the savoury box. It’s always got a bit of meat, some veg and the odd jar of capers to throw you off course…but then there’s the tricky sweet box. Just what the hell do you with a bottle of Grand Marnier and couple of blueberries? Now I’ve never been brilliant at pudding, I’ll admit, but it’s clearly my weakness. Yes I can hear you mumbling ‘Come on Chris! Who has a food blog and can’t make a pudding’. It’s just that some clever clogs always manages to muster a winning tart from a box full of boring old rhubarb and a little bottle of Frangelico. So that’s my new challenge – try and make pudding with what’s lying around the cupboard. Like my own private pudding cooking challenge. Just without the time limit or the pressure of facing some judge. Chocolate & Poached Orange Cheesecake (serves 4)Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like a have a fridge full of cream cheese just in case I need it. Although I did have a few oranges, some leftover biscuits and about 3 blocks of chocolate in the fridge and here’s how I made it. 1 tsp vanilla paste 400g cream cheese 3 free-range eggs & 2 free-range egg yolks 100ml double cream 200g caster sugar Zest from one lime, orange and a lemon 150ml water 2 medium oranges 1 packet of Oreo or any chocolate biscuits (crushed) Milk chocolate for grating Add a 100g of the sugar to the 150ml of water leave to dissolve. Peel and segment the oranges trying to remove as much pith as possible. Then add to the sugar water and bring to the boil. Let it bubble for about a minute, then switch it off and leave to cool. Add the vanilla, cream cheese, eggs, cream, zest and remaining 100g of sugar into a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl on a pan of boiling water (about 300ml) whisking constantly for about twenty minutes until smooth and thickened. Remove from the heat and chill in the fridge. The finished mix will be thicker than a normal custard, but won’t fully set. To make each cheesecake, take four glasses/ jars and put three or four segments of oranges into the bottom. Add a little of the sweet orange liquid. Then layer in your crushed Oreo biscuits and spoon in the cheesecake mix. Finally grate chocolate over the top and you’re done. Did I win the challenge?
I’m in the kitchen at a three year old’s birthday party. I thought this would be the safest place to hide. I was wrong. You see, I thought volunteering to make tea would be a safe bet. Unfortunately one of the parents thinks I work here and he’s being a little pushy about my tea making skills.
“Leave the tea bag to stew in the water longer” he says, pointing his finger at the cup. “Don’t scrimp on the milk!” As he takes the cup I notice the tin of flapjacks in his hand, and it strikes me they look quite rubbish.
So I say “I like your homemade flapjacks”. I smile and there’s a brief moment where neither of us say’s a word. Now it’s fairly rare I travel great distances to deliver impromptu baking critique to men I hardly know, but he just seemed annoying.
“So what have you brought along” he sneers. I crack open the cupcake tin, proudly show off the Gruffalo Cupcakes and fold my arms in triumph. As he shuffles away towards the ball pit, Anna pops her head into the kitchen to ask for some more milk for her tea.
Gruffalo Cupcakes (makes 12)
100g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
140g caster sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter
120ml organic whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
Chocolate Butter Cream
600g icing sugar
200g unsalted butter
80g cocoa powder
100ml organic whole milk
To make the cupcakes follow Anna’s famous Oreo Cupcake recipe guide.
Teeth, tusks & horns – Mini marshmallows
Eyes and nose – Smarties
Mouth – Cola strings
Ears – Chocolate buttons
We sure know about chocolate. Boy, do we know a thing or two about eating chocolate. On Anna’s birthday weekend we sampled the very finest chocolate high tea Sketch could offer, and even ended it with a slice of Chocolate Krantz loaf. We gained a lot of weight. It was a happy time.
So when it comes to saying we’ve found the perfect little chocolate teatime treat, we think in the world, it’s safe to assume it’s with a fair amount of authority. Step forward the mighty little Salted Almond & Chocolate Rolls. Enriched dough, smothered in chocolate, sprinkled in almonds, then rolled and baked into little chocolate gems. Behold, the mighty teatime treat recipe….
Dough(makes 10 – 12)
300g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
50g brown sugar
1tsp dried fast-action yeast
grated zest of one lemon
1 large egg and one yolk
150ml warm water
pinch of salt
75g unsalted butter, cut into 2cm cubes, at room temperature
sunflower oil, for greasing
Combine the the water, sugar, salt and warm water together. Sprinkle the yeast on top and leave until it starts to get foamy, around 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining flour, egg, butter and lemon zest until combined. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, around 5 minutes. If it feels wet then just add a little flour, but not loads or it will be too dry. Place in a greased bowl, cover with a wet tea towel and leave for an hour to double in size.
Salted Almonds & Chocolate
25g icing sugar
15g cocoa powder
100g dark chocolate
60g unsalted butter
100g salted almonds, with their skins on
Place the chocolate and butter in a bowl above boiling water, until melted. While it’s melting smash up the almonds a little and set aside for later. Take the melted chocolate and combine with cocoa powder and icing sugar to make a thick chocolate spreadable paste.
Roll out your dough so it’s a couple of millimeters thick and lay on a large surface. Then with a palate knife spread the chocolate mixture over the dough rectangle, leaving roughly a 2cm border. Sprinkle most of the salted almonds on top of the chocolate mixture. Then brush a little water around the 2cm border so it sticks. Using both your hands roll it like a roulade and gently stick the wet edge down.
Trim 2cm off the edges and discard. Then cut 10 -12 mini rolls out of the long rolled piece and add to a pre-greased baking tray. Leave under a wet tea towel for 90 minutes to proof. Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 or 190ºC and bake on the middle shelf for 20 minutes. If you want to make them slightly more decadent, then combine 50g sugar to 150ml water, to make a syrup. Heat until combined and drizzle the syrup over each of the rolls, making them glossy and sticky. Leave to cool, put the kettle on and enjoy the tea time treat of kings.
A couple of weeks ago, I was out with the lads drinking dark beers and getting in animated discussions about the weekend football. Epic it was…until that is my phone buzzed with a message from Anna. ‘Don’t forget we’re out for dinner tonight and you promised to make pudding. Anna xx‘.
The alarm bells kicked in. In fact, I’d totally forgotten and only had a couple of hours to rustle something up. I could have just popped to the shops, wraped it in foil and claimed it as my own. No that’s not for me, what I needed here was a quick fix. Thankfully, I had a cracking chocolate cake recipe up my sleeve for just this sort of emergency. It’s like a big giant gooey chocolate circle of goodness and it never fails.
250g brown granulated sugar
500g dark chocolate (70%)
Smash up the chocolate into smaller bits and add to a rounded bowl, along with the butter. Cover the top of the bowl with cling film and place on top of a pan of boiling water. You only need a small amount of water in the pan so it sits just beneath, but not touching the bowl. Then leave it and that means no stiring. Playing around with it is likely to make the chocolate granulated. Once the butter and chocolate is melted, take off the heat and we’ll come back to it later.
Separate the egg yolks from the whites into two different bowls. With a mixer beat the sugar and yolks until they become fluffy. It’s easier if you have an electric whisk, or a pain in the wrist if you have a wind up one like ours! Take your melted chocolate/ butter mix and gradually pour and mix into the egg yolks. Beat until smooth and set aside.
Whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks with your mixer. Gently fold the egg whites into the cake mixture with as little mixing as possible. This probably doesn’t make any sense, but the idea is to try and keep as much air in it as possible. Heat your oven up to gas mark 4 (180 degrees).
Spoon in your mixture to a pre-greased cake tin and bake for about 35 minutes. If you like it very gooey then go for 30 minutes. Now it might look a little plain, but boy will this cake make you popular. It’s best served with thick whipped cream, with fresh vanilla stirred through.