Archive for the ‘Chocolate’ Category

Back to Basics

What has happened to the last MONTH?! I really can’t believe that it’s been that long since I last sat down to write a post here. Life has been busy. Busy busy busy. Pushing the thesis to the final stages has taken all the wind out my sails of enthusiasm (so to speak). But now I am back, fresh from a weekend of pork, cake and beer in Prague, and plan to use my increasing spare time to get back to the kitchen.  I have so many recipes piled up to try out, a pasta maker and an ice-cream maker to get into action (yes, they have been sitting in their boxes since Christmas. For shame.) and as summer is birthday season (among my friends at least) there are lots of fancy cakes on the horizon.

So it’s time to get back to basics. And what is more basically fantastic than a deliciously dark chocolate cake (with frosting to die for)? This is a Devil’s Chocolate cake, taken from Nigella’s latest book, Kitchen. It’s a great book, but my one grumble is the layout. For this recipe the ingredients are on one page and you need to use your chocolatey fingers to turn over to the next page to see the method. Annoying. But the end result makes this annoyance forgivable.

What You Need:

50g cocoa powder, sifted

100g dark muscovado sugar

250ml boiling water

125g unsalted butter

150g caster sugar

225g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

For the frosting:

125ml water

30g dark muscovado sugar

175g unsalted butter, cubed

300g best quality dark chocolate, finely chopped

Firstly, prepare your tins. Nigella recommends two 20 cm (about 8 in) sandwich tins. I used two 9 inch tins and baked the batter for a little less time. Grease the tins, and line the bottom of each tin with parchment paper. Pop on the oven to preheat at 180C.

Put the cocoa and 100g muscovado sugar into a bowl and add the boiling water. Whisk until smooth and set aside.

Cream the butter and caster sugar together until pale and fluffy. Meanwhile, stir the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together in a bowl and set aside.

Dribble the vanilla extract into the butter and sugar mixture. Then drop in one egg, immediately followed by a tablespoon of flour, then the second egg. Keep mixing, adding in the rest of the flour mix, and finally add in the cocoa mixture.

Divide between the two tins and bake for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester emerges clean and the cake is beginning to come away from the sides of the tins.  Cool in the tins, on a wire rack, for 5 – 10 minutes before turning out of the tins and leaving to cool completely.

As soon as the cakes go into the oven, get started on the frosting as it needs to sit for an hour or more before it can be used. Put the water, 30g muscovado sugar and 175g butter in a saucepan over a low heat to melt. As soon as this mixture begins to bubble, remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped chocolate, swirling the pan so that all the chocolate is hit with heat. Leave for a minute to melt before whisking until smooth and glossy. Leave for about 1 hour, whisking every now and then while the cakes cool.

By the time the cakes were cool, it was about midnight (my schedule is crazy) so I popped the still not fully cooled frosting into the fridge. If you do this don’t forget about it! After only 5 minutes in the fridge, the frosting had set considerably.

Set one of the cooled cakes, top side down, and spread with about one third of the frosting.

Place the second cake on top and cover with the remaining icing. Make it all swirly because it’s much easier than trying to get it perfectly smooth.

Eat and enjoy! The frosting is so incredibly chocolatey you will want to eat it all. Promise.



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Last weekend, the lovely Grace from Grace Daniels Cakes held a sugarcraft course for beginners here in Galway. I was there, I learned so much, my cake looked fabulous (see above), and I think I found myself a new hobby 🙂


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The Baked Brownie

Phew! Where has the time gone? I honestly can’t believe that it’s almost April. It’s really great to see the hours of daylight (and, this week, sunlight) increasing and the mornings becoming brighter. It’s so much easier to feel enthusiastic about the cycle to college when it’s not against a practically-gale-force wind!

I’ve posted about brownies before. That recipe was for brownies that are fudgy and moist, and perhaps more ‘kid-friendly’ than the dark and densely chocolatey product of this recipe. The home of these brownies is the Baked coffee shop in Brooklyn, NY, a place I have unfortunately not yet visited, and, let me tell you, they are very good. The coffee brings out the dark depths of flavour in the chocolate and, just to see what would happen, I used chili cocoa powder instead of regular. Turns out I should have used more as the chili-ness was very subtle and in the background. I’ll ramp it up next time. The original recipe given below will fill a 9×13 inch baking tray or dish. I wasn’t sure that my waistline could handle that much brownie, so I halved the quantities and used an 8x8inch tin. I left the amount of coffee untouched as I don’t have any instant espresso (and I was damned if I was going to brew up a pot at 10pm) so I used regular, freeze-dried, instant, and I rounded up the halved egg quantity to 3. If you don’t have any unsalted butter, I think salted would work fine, just leave out the 1 tsp salt. When you read through the directions, the method can seem like a bit of hassle, but really, it’s all quite quick.


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I love chocolate cake.

Recently, though, I have had a few very disappointing slices of chocolate cake in certain cafes around town. For such a popular cake choice, it seems to be difficult to get right. I’ve had slices that were dry, dull, disappointing.

I was in need of a proper slice of chocolate cake.  Not too sickly sweet, dark chocolate and cocoa please. This recipe hit the spot. It is another Nigella hit. This is not a fudge cake. It’s not extremely decadent, or sweet, or fussy.  It tastes good, it slices well, the icing is to-die-for, and it stays moist and delicious for a few days.

I can’t ask for more than that!


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