Tag Archives: chocolate

Amaretti Tiramisu

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Tiramisu
So Italian week continues and this time I bring to you something Dolce. What comes to mind mind when anyone thinks of a classic Italian dessert?  Tiramisu, of course! Every Italian restaurant has it on the menu and it’s a frequent visitor to our house. Not too many things work so beautifully together as strong espresso and silky smooth mascarpone. I call this particular recipe Instant Tiramisu because instead of traditional crisp Savoiardi ladyfingers that take a couple of hours to soak up coffee and liquor I used already soft amaretti cookies or Amaretti Morbidi. I absolutely adore these little cookies in Tiramisu. They bring beautiful almond flavour into the mix making it even more desirable and impossible to stop eating! Also, they are little round guys which makes them fit perfectly in the individual mason jars that I used this time.  A quick side note about the mason jars, they might not be the most original things as they get used a lot but for a good reason! They provide perfect personal portions and you can always pop a lid on them and stick them in the fridge until dinner time. Tiramisu One of the characteristics of true Italian cooking is very few but good quality ingredients. This Tiramisu recipe is no exception. Tiramisu (prep)
Ingredients: {Serves 4}

  • Amaretti biscuits (soft or crisp)-  20-24
  • Espresso or strong coffee- 2 shots/2 oz
  • Mascarpone-1 cup/250 ml
  • Whipping cream- 1 cup/250 ml
  • Icing sugar- 1/4 cup
  • Vanilla -2 tsp.
  • Rum or marsala, brandy etc.- 4-6 tsp.
  • Cocoa for dusting- 3-4 tsp.
  • Chocolate, shaved

Method:

Traditionally Tiramisu cream topping is made of mixture of mascarpone, sugar and egg yolks but using raw eggs could be unsafe so the eggs are often replaced with whipping cream.

Make two shots of espresso if you have an espresso machine or 2 oz of very strong coffee. Divide your amaretti cookies among 4 mason jars or glasses. Pour 1/2 of espresso shot in each glass over the cookies and 1 tsp. of rum.

Whip mascarpone and cream with icing sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form, it will take about 5 minutes. Divide your mascarpone mixture evenly among 4 jars.Tiramisu (prep)

Dust with cocoa.
Amaretti Tiramisu
Or… Shave some chocolate using a cheese slicer or a knife.Tiramisu (prep)
And pile on top.Amaretti Tiramisu
I am still trying to wrap my head around how something so SIMPLE and QUICK could be pure Heaven.
Amaretti Tiramisu

Pumpkin Pie with Toblerone Swirl

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Pumpkin Pie with Toblerone Swirl
Until a couple of days ago I was convinced it’s impossible to improve on a pumpkin pie. Why mess with what is already perfection?  I still believe the classic recipe is pretty darn great but every once in a while it’s fun to try a twist on an old favourite, especially when this awesomeness comes into play. Ready? Pumpkin Pie meets…Pumpkin Pie with Toblerone Swirls
TOBLERONE. One of my favourite sweets ever! How could you not love those little crunchy bits of nougat in rich and smooth chocolate! It turns out that seams of light crunch mesh brilliantly with creamy pumpkin. A winning combination!Pumpkin Pie with Toblerone Swirls

I also topped each slice with whipped cream (a must) and a teensy bit of more crunch from crushed honeycomb. If you don’t have access to honeycomb you can use more crunchy nougat.Pumpkin Pie with Toblerone Swirls

Ingredients:

  • 9″ pie crust-1 (I used the same recipe as my Dulce de Leche Apple Pie )
  • Solid Pumpkin Puree- 400 gr/15 oz
  • Eggs- 3 large
  • Double Cream/Whipping Cream- 1/2 cup
  • Brown Sugar- 1/2 cup
  • Cinnamon- 1 1/2 tsp.
  • Cloves- 1/4 tsp.
  • Ginger- 1/4 tsp.
  • Nutmeg- 1/4 tsp.
  • Salt- 1/2 tsp.
  •  Toblerone (chopped)- 1/2 cup

For Topping:

  • Whipping Cream- 2 cups
  • Powdered Sugar- 1/4 cup
  • Vanilla- 1 tsp.
  • Honeycomb, crushed- 1/4 cup

Method:

Preheat your oven to 400F/200C. The recipe and directions for the best and flakiest pie pastry are found here.  Roll out your pastry on a floured surface, then drape on your rolling pin and transfer to the pie/tart plate.  This is a one crust pie so we want the edges nice and clean that come up to the top of your pie plate.  The next step is blind baking which is necessary for all tarts that are filled later or to ensure that the crust is not too soggy. Line your unbaked pie crust with parchment paper and fill the pie plate with rice or beans (or a combination like I did because I didn’t have enough of each to fill the plate!). Bake at 400F/200C for 15 minutes, then take out of the oven, turn the temperature to 350F/180C, let it cool for 5 minutes and then lift the parchment paper together with the weights out of the pie.

Making tarts (blind baking) Pumpkin Pie with Toblerone Swirls
While your crust is blind baking make your pumpkin filling. Beat your eggs with sugar, then add pumpkin puree, cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and salt. Set aside for a moment.  Now chop up your toblerone bar and melt it in a double boiler, stirring continuously so it doesn’t burn. Pumpkin Pie with Toblerone Swirls
Pour the pumpkin filling in the pie crust, then drop in melted chocolate randomly.Pumpkin Pie with Toblerone Swirls
Then take a skewer or a tooth pick and swirl it lightly.Pumpkin Pie with Toblerone Swirl
Bake in the oven for 40 minutes until the filling is set. It will probably crack like mine did because of the different consistency of pumpkin filling and chocolate but I thought it made it look even cooler!
Pumpkin Pie with Toblerone SwirlsToblerone made some pretty amazing craters in that pumpkin. Don’t you think?

Whip some cream with powdered sugar and vanilla.

Do serve it with some whipped cream and crushed honeycomb or nougat, the extra crunch is heavenly!
Pumpkin Pie with Toblerone Swirls
For more pumpkin treats check out Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes, Toffee Honeycomb Pumpkin Muffins and DIY Pumpkin Spice Syrup.

Mega Chocolate Cake and a Summer Picnic

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Mega Chocolate Cake
What do children of a food blogger want to do with their mom? They want to bake! Sounds simple , right, except that I am a bit of a control freak in the kitchen and seeing flour, sugar and eggs being flung about is not an easy task for me to endure. 🙂 Well, one overcast afternoon we were running out of things to do and baking a cake seemed like a great plan. I am not going to lie, things were no less messy than I expected. There are no pictures of the process because I was too scared to bring my camera into the kitchen, but the end result exceeded everybody’s expectations. Hours of fun together and the most delicious, chocolaty fudgy cake to show for it baked entirely by Mitchell and Vika. This momma was so proud! I am going to shut up now and let the pictures tell the story of what went on after the cake came out of the oven.

PicnicMega Chocolate CakePicnic Mega Chocolate CakeMega Chocolate CakeMega Chocolate CakeMega Chocolate Cake and a Summer PicnicSummer PicnicMega Chocolate CakeSummer picnicSummer PicnicSummer PicnicSummer Picnic
I am sure I don’t need to convince you how simple this recipe is since my 7 and 9 year olds mastered it. The entire cake is made in the food processor, poured into a pan and then baked. The most straightforward recipe ever, which is why the stellar results completely astounded me! This just goes to prove food doesn’t have to be complex to be delicious.
Ingredients:

  • Bitter-sweet Chocolate-7 oz/ 1 cup of chocolate chips
  • Butter-3/4 cup plus extra for greasing
  • Soft Brown Sugar-2/3 cup
  • Skinned Almonds (I used ground almonds)-2/3 cup
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder- 2 tbsp.
  • Salt- a pinch
  • Eggs- 4 large
  • Flour- 1 1/3 cup
  • Baking Powder- 1 1/2 tsp.
  • White Chocolate (roughly chopped)- 1/2 cup
  • Whipped Cream or Vanilla Ice cream for serving

Method:

Preheat your oven to 325F/160C

Break up your chocolate into squares and put it in the food processor along with butter, sugar, almonds, cocoa powder and salt. Pulse until smooth. With the motor still running crack one egg at a time, then add flour and baking powder. Done!! Just make sure the batter is smooth.

Grease a rectangular 9×13 baking dish and dust it with a bit of cocoa powder. Pour the cake batter into the pan and scatter the white chocolate chunks over it (The original recipe by Jamie Oliver called for soft fudge pieces but I didn’t have any.) Bake for 18-20 minutes. Serve warm with a bit of whipped cream or ice-cream. The warm cake was incredibly fudgy and gooey – as you can see on the picture below – so after being prim and proper and eating it from our own plates, we abandoned that boring business and dove right into the cake pan!

Mega Chocolate Cake
Note: The recipe was slightly adapted from Jamie Oliver’s “Jamie’s Food Revolution”.

Banoffee Tartlets

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Banoffee Tartlets
If you are not from England chances are you’ve never heard of Banoffee Pie before and it’s a real shame. I reckon the invention of Banoffee Pie should stand on equal footing with industrialisation and discovering of DNA and other great things that came out of England. Well, maybe not quite as equal, maybe just a teensy bit lower. Banoffee Pie is the magic combination of everything that is good and true. Sweet and silky Banana plus rich and indulgent Toffee equals Ban+offee. Throw in some chocolate and you get the picture. Pure bliss.
Banoffee Tartlets
The best thing is they are EASY to make and even easier to enjoy. I served them for dessert last weekend for my giant dinner party because when you cook a big meal the last thing you want is to fuss over a dessert as well. A snap to make but do they ever look impressive! Here is my version of the  famous Banoffee Pie. I made a couple of changes but nothing major that would alter the taste. I filled the tarts with dulce de leche instead of toffee and added mascarpone to the cream in order to create a more stable frosting that could be piped.Banoffee Tartlets

Ingredients:  {for 8 Tartlets}

  • 8 all-butter pre-made tartlet cases (You can of course make your own)
  • Sweet and condensed Milk- 1 can
  • Banana, sliced-2
  • Mascarpone- 1/2 cup/ 100gr
  • Whipping Cream/Double Cream- 1 cup/ 250 ml
  • Icing Sugar- 1/4 cup
  • Vanilla-1 tsp.
  • Rum-1tbsp. (optional)
  • Chocolate for chocolate curls or cocoa for dusting-50 gr or 1tbsp of cocoa

Banoffee Tartlets

Method:

Remove the label from the can of sweet and condensed milk and put it in the pot completely submerged in water.  Bring to a boil and continue cooking for 1.5-2 hours. Make sure your can is completely covered in water through the duration of cooking or it will explode.  Cool until it’s ready to use. When you open it you will discover that your “ole” plain can of sweet and condensed milk got transformed into glamourous and silky dulce de leche.

This step could be done well in advance. I had mine stored for a couple of weeks before I got around to use it. On a side note,  I have to brag about the fact that Russian babushkas have been making dulce de leche for years before it became trendy all over North America, so the taste of “sgushenka” is the taste of childhood for every Russian child.

Whip mascarpone with double cream, icing sugar, vanilla and rum until it’s the right consistency for piping roses.

Spread your dulce de leche equally among 8 tartlets, top with sliced bananas. Pipe the mascarpone cream frosting on top and dust with cocoa or decorate with chocolate curls.

For Chocolate Curls:

Melt the chocolate in the microwave and spread it thinly on a baking tray, pop it in the fridge for 3 minutes to set. Take it out and let it stand for a couple of minutes to soften a bit. Drag a knife or a cheese slicer like I did  along the surface of the chocolate to make the curls. When you have enough curls, put them back in the fridge for a couple of minutes to harden.

Banoffee Tartlets
Leave one or two of your tartlets curl-free to show off that gorgeous rose, just a little of cocoa dusting will do.

Banoffee Tartlets
Banoffee TartletsBanoffee Tartlets

Strawberry Mousse Cake

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Another friend’s birthday passed, another cake made, eaten and enjoyed. I know I get excited about every cake I write about but this one was truly special and quite different from the usual – cake + frosting deal.  Imagine dark chocolate sponge sandwiched together with a light, cloud-like, creamy strawberry mousse, topped with fresh strawberries and cream. Sounds like a dream? It was pretty close to perfection in my opinion and fortunately a snap to make at home.

Strawberry Mousse Cake

I made this cake years ago following the recipe from the Chocolate cookbook I have and although I liked it I knew a few changes had to be made to perfect the recipe. Many English baking recipes call for self-rising flour and this cake was no exception. I am not a big fan of self-rising flour as I find it produces cakes that are too heavy and compact. In this particular cake the texture of the dense sponge didn’t match the light and fluffy mousse.
Fortunately I have my trusty chocolate sponge recipe that I swapped for the original and voila…Perfection! Two layers of delicate chocolate cake filled with light and creamy strawberry mousse made that birthday delight irresistible.
Strawberry Mousse Cake
Ingredients for the cake:

  • Flour -1 3/4 cups
  • Cocoa- 3/4 cup
  • Sugar- 2 cups
  • Baking powder- 1 1/2 tsp.
  • Baking soda- 1 1/2 tsp.
  • Salt- 1 tsp.
  • Eggs- 2 large
  • Milk- 1 cup
  • Oil- 1/2 cup
  • Vanilla essence- 2 tsp.
  • Strong hot coffee- 3/4 cup

Method:

Note: The recipe I used here makes two cake layers or 1 cake layer and a dozen of cupcakes. I made 1 9″ cake and a dozen cupcakes for my kids to enjoy as the cake was for the adult party and I didn’t want them to feel left out.

Preheat your oven to 325 F/160 C and grease your 9″ springform cake pan and line with parchment paper. (Instead of using parchment paper I dusted mine with flour but it was a bit of a mistake as flour shows on the dark sponge. It’s usually not a big deal but because this cake doesn’t get covered with frosting you want the layers to look attractive.)

Mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl until combined. In a separate bowl mix eggs, milk, oil and vanilla essence. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and beat with an electric mixer until well incorporated. Now make your coffee and pour  3/4 cup of it in the ingredients ( enjoy the rest!) and quickly mix everything together. I promise you the cupcakes don’t taste anything like coffee but it is a magic ingredient :-).

Pour half of the mixture in the prepared pan and level the top. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 minuted or until cake tester/toothpick comes out clean. Le the cake cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then run a knife along the sides of a springform pan, release the sides and turn the cake out on the cooling rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile , make the strawberry mousse.

Ingredients for the Mousse:

  • Eggs (separated)- 2
  • Superfine sugar-4 tbsp.
  • Strawberries (processed in a food processor to a pulp)- 3/4 cup
  • Gelatine-3 tsp.
  • Water-3 tbsp.
  • Whipping Cream- 1 cup

For Decoration:

  • Strawberries (sliced)- 200 gr. for decoration
  • Cream 1/2 cup
  • Icing sugar-2 tbsp.
  • Vanilla- 1/2 tsp.

Method: 

Beat the egg yolk and sugar until light, then whisk in the processed strawberries. Sprinkle the gelatine over the water in a small bowl and allow to go spongy, then put in the microwave for 30-40 seconds until the gelatine has dissolved. Stir in the mousse.

Whip the cream until holding its shape and fold into the mousse. Whisk the egg whites until standing in soft peaks, then fold in. Let stand in a cool place until starting to set for about 30 minutes.

Cut the cake in 2 layers. Place the first layer back in the springform pan and pour in the mousse and let it set for 2 hour in the refrigerator. Place the top layer directly on the mousse layer and continue chilling for 2 more hours or until ready to serve. Whip the cream and icing sugar and vanilla. Decorate the top of the cake with fresh sliced strawberries and pipe cream rosettes around the edges.

This cake is incredibly light and not overly sweet due to the absence of frosting yet the silky mousse layer makes it feel like a great indulgence. Double win!

Strawberry Mousse Cake

Note: Because the eggs in the mousse are not cooked, however tempered by the hot gelatine mixture, I have used free-range and organic eggs to be on the safe side.

Note: The mousse recipe was adapted from Chocolate cookbook by Practical Cooking. I substituted orange for strawberries.

Chocolate and Vanilla Bean “Dreaming of Sicily” Cupcakes…

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IMG_8173
The inspiration for these Dreaming of Sicily cupcakes came from this box of chocolates. You see my momma always used to say that life is like a box of chocolates… Oh forget it, I could never pull off Forrest Gump’s wisdom. The truth is on Saturday we celebrated my dear friend Angela’s birthday. I wanted to make her a cake, but unfortunately even after what seemed like an hour of questioning her she wouldn’t tell me what kind of cake she wanted! Angela is Italian and although she loves England with all her heart she misses the sea and the warm sun of her native Sicily. What could be better cupcakes for her than the ones evoking the memories of sunshine, pizza and cannoli!

Angela is a fellow foodie and therefore is easy to please! She will be happy with almost any kind of food as long as it is delicious! On a side note, we are planning to write a joint blog post on wonderful Italian food! I am not going to lie to you, it will be legendary. I am not sure why I am so prone to TV and movie quoting today but I promise to stop.

Back to cupcakes. Not only did they turn out absolutely gorgeous but they were also out of this world delicious. You will love them if you are into cakes, chocolate and silky vanilla frosting type of thing!

Dreaming of Sicily Cupcakes

Convinced yet? If yes, here is the list of…

Ingredients for the cupcakes {Makes 24}:

  • Flour -1 3/4 cups
  • Cocoa- 3/4 cu
  • Sugar- 2 cups
  • Baking powder- 1 1/2 tsp.
  • Baking soda- 1 1/2 tsp.
  • Salt- 1 tsp.
  • Eggs- 2 large
  • Milk- 1 cup
  • Oil- 1/2 cup
  • Vanilla essence- 2 tsp.
  • Strong hot coffee- 3/4 cup

Method:

Preheat your oven to 325 F/160 C and line your cupcake tins with cupcake papers.

Mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl until combined. In a separate bowl mix eggs, milk, oil and vanilla essence. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and beat with an electric mixer until well incorporated. Now make your coffee and pour  3/4 cup of it in the ingredients ( enjoy the rest!) and quickly mix everything together. I promise you the cupcakes don’t taste anything like coffee but it is a magic ingredient 🙂

Fill your 2 lined cupcake tins 3/4 full and bake them for 15 minutes, test for doneness with a toothpick.

If your oven is big enough you can bake both tins at the same time but mine isn’t, so I baked them separately.

Dreaming of Sicily Cupcakes

Ingredients for Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

  • Egg whites- 6/150gr
  • Granulated Sugar-1 cup
  • Butter- 1 2/3 cup/340gr.
  • Vanilla Bean (seeds scraped out) -1
  • Salt-pinch
  • Blue colour paste- a tiny smidge  (I don’t use a liquid colour as the frosting might curdle)
  • Chocolate sea creatures to use as the cupcake toppers

I have written extensive instructions on Swiss Meringue Buttercream in Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcake recipe, so please follow the link to get the method but skip adding the coffee flavour at the end of the process and add vanilla bean seeds instead.

When your buttercream is done, add a tiny amount of blue colouring paste to tint your frosting light aqua blue which is reminiscent of a sea wave and blend well.

Use a star tip to pipe frosting on the cupcakes and top each of them with chocolate sea shells, seahorses or any other sea creatures you manage to find. Angela’s favourite was this Starfish!

Dreaming of Sicily Cupcakes

Chocolate Stout Cake And An Early New Year Resolution

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Chocolate Guinness CakeMy husband Brad turned…ahem…let’s just say he had his birthday this past week and there are only a few things I love more than celebrating birthdays. Quite possibly this is because my own birthday is on Christmas Day and I always feel deprived of the love poured directly on me on the day that is everyone’s holiday, I try to get as much celebratin’ from my loved ones’ b-days as I can! For weeks I agonised over his present and his birthday cake until I found the perfect cake from, where else but Pinterest! Chocolate Stout Cake looked down on me from the pages of My Baking Addiction blog and I was instantly in love. Brad is a well-known chocoholic, in fact he once confessed that he doesn’t even feel like he’s had dessert unless it contained chocolate. What could make this decadently chocolatey cake even more palatable to Brad? Why, I am glad you asked! Stout! Beer +Chocolate=One Happy Man. That was my thought process. The flavour combo intrigued me and I was set out to bring the cake to life.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out the cake was quite easy to make. The recipe doesn’t require any special skills or pastry chef credentials, and as you can see I didn’t even use any fancy piping to decorate it, just a pile of chocolate curls on top makes it a show stopper. I enjoyed the process thoroughly but nothing prepared me for an absolutely outstanding result-the best cake I ever made which spurred on, what seems to be, an untimely New Year’s Resolution. Here it goes. From now forward I will ALWAYS bake with butter. No margarine, no oil. Pure, unadulterated butter. I’ve baked many, many cakes in my life and no matter the recipe I always seemed not quite satisfied with the sponge itself. The oil based ones especially, seem to have a tinge of an after taste. Not this beauty. Its clean, rich and spontaneously addictive taste comes from butter. Well, enough of this. Let’s bake the darn thing!

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups Guinness
½ cup strong black coffee
2 cups/ 454 gr unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder

4 cups all purpose flourcake top2
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups creme fraiche/sour cream (I always replace sour cream with creme fraiche as it tastes more Russian to me)

Chocolate Ganache

2 cups whipping cream/double cream
1 pound good quality dark chocolate, chopped

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C and butter 3 8″ cake pans and dust them with some flour to prevent the cakes from sticking.

In a large saucepan heat stout, coffee and butter together until the mixture comes to a gentle simmer, add cocoa powder while whisking continuously to avoid lumps until smooth. Set aside to cool. (I quite often take things like that and put them in front of an open window for 15 min. to cool it down quickly because my English fridge aka “beer fridge” is tiny!)

Blend flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a different bowl. Mix eggs, vanilla and creme fraiche with an electric mixer in bowl no 3.

Now check on your chocolate mixture and make sure it’s cool enough to continue the process.

Add the chocolate mixture to the egg and creme fraiche mixture and blend them together. Add flour mixture a little bit a time and beat on low speed until combined. Divide batter equally among the pans. I used to always have uneven cakes until I purchased a digital scale and started weighing them. Problem solved! Bake cakes together or separately depending on the size of your oven. Once again, just like my fridge, my European oven is tiny and I baked mine one at a time for 25-30 min. Always test your cakes for doneness with a toothpick or a cake taster if you have one. Transfer your cakes on the cooling racks and get on with the ganache making!

I absolutely adore ganache and I don’t even care how pretentious it sounds! It’s crazy how little effort you put into that frosting for it to taste THAT insanely delicious! All we have to do is to bring heavy cream to a boil and take it off the heat immediately, then add your chopped chocolate into it and stir until melted! Cool it and whip it with an electric mixer until paler in colour and fluffy! Voila! The most decadent French delicacy is ready!

Assemble the cake filling with 1/3 of the ganache between the layers like so…

Cake pre-frosted

Finish off by covering the entire cake with the remaining ganache and top with chocolate curls. You can make chocolate curls by scraping the blade of your knife along the flat surface of the chocolate bar. I have to admit my curls were a bit weak and I have to practice more to achieve perfection.

However, there was nothing weak about the taste and the cake was pure delight. It’s flavourful but somehow light in texture and very hard to stop eating!

PS. I am not sure why but the recipe I followed left me with extra batter which allowed me to bake a dozen of cupcakes as well! In my world it’s NOT a problem.

Chocolate Guinness Cake