Tag Archives: chocolate

Lindt Creation Dessert Chocolates*, Fats and Bird Caramel Eclairs

We’ve been pretty spoilt this year when it comes to sweet treats. After managing to eke out our Christmas haul all the way until the back end of February, we were ready to say “that’s enough – no treats for a while, let’s be good”. Fortunately, we were snapped out of this madness when we were given the chance to sample some lovely Lindt chocolates. We’re huge fans of Lindt, so we couldn’t turn down the chance to try something new. Fats in particular has fond recollections of Lindt – unfortunately there’s no big romantic story here, instead the memories were formed in the Lindt factory outlet store in Aachen, Germany,  down the road from some offices he used to work in… he did bring Bird back one of these beauties for Valentine’s day – the gorgeous little tin is still used! If you fancy trying these out for yourself make sure you read to the bottom for a chance to win a box!

Lindt Creation Desserts are bite-sized chocolates, each one based on a well-known dessert. This is a great concept, and made for a rather obvious post inspiration – we were to chomp our way through the chocolates with the aim of deciding which one was our favourite, and we’d make the winner into a full-sized dessert and post the recipe on our blog. In fact, we decided to go one further and rank all of the chocolates. It’s a tough job, but we were definitely ready for this particular challenge…

Lindt Chocolate Box

Chocolate Box Full

So (in the style of BuzzFeed) here is the DEFINITIVE ranking of Lindt Creation Desserts!

7. Tiramasu
Tiramasu Choc

At the centre of this chocolate was a thick layer of milk chocolate praline with a layer of white chocolate mousse. This was wrapped by lovely milk chocolate and topped with a thick layer of white chocolate dusted with cocoa powder. Although delicious in its own right, we felt it could have had a stronger coffee flavour.

6. Meringue
Meringue Choc

A hard, white chocolate shell, covering a creamy white chocolate mousse dotted with tiny little bursts of crunchy meringue giving pops of texture. Really tasty, but white chocolate will always be second to milk really…

5. Chocolate Fondant
Chocolate Fondant Choc

Chocolate chocolate chocolate! Thick milk chocolate shell with a rich, gooey centre. Really gooey, the kind of chocolate that sticks your tongue to the roof of your mouth.

4. Brownie

Brownie Choc

A squishy texture with crunchy hazelnut pieces and a nutty, dark, almost burnt flavour. This was really indulgent – perfect with a mug of tea!

3. Mille-feuille

Mille Feuille

This was a lovely milk chocolate coating a rich praline, laced with specs of wafer, giving a great texture.

2. Creme Brulée
Creme Brulee Choc

A milk chocolate cup containing a delicious white chocolate cream with a smooth milky flavour, topped with a crunchy layer of caramelised sugar that gave that lovely burnt flavour you associate with creme brulée – delicious!

1. Caramel Eclair
Eclair Choc

Our winner! Caramely and classic milk chocolate surrounding a gooey centre somewhere between caramel and fudge in texture, with a sweet but complex, coffee-like, slightly burnt taste. So good, we were inspired to make them for real!

We seriously enjoyed these desserts, and we reckon you will too – there’s definitely something for everyone in there. With two weeks to go until Mother’s Day, it would be a great gift too. Read on if you want to know how to make your very own eclairs, and to find out how to get hold of your very own box of delicious chocolates!

Salted Caramel and Coffee Eclairs

This recipe is a bit adapted from a Paul Hollywood recipe that you can find on the BBC food website – we drew on some of the skills we learned at our Bordeaux Quay cookery school earlier in the year and changed the recipe a bit – we hope you like it!

For 4 eclairs (and a few profiteroles for good measure), you’ll need:

For the filling:

And for the icing:

Before you start, pre-heat an oven to 190°C. Now, make the choux pastry. This is pretty scary if it’s your first time, but take it from us that it’s nowhere near as hard as it looks! Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat along with the salt, caster sugar and water. Once the butter has melted, bring it to the boil and immediately add the flour. Keep it on the heat for a few minutes (bit different from Hollywood here!) to cook some of the flour out, while stirring fairly vigorously to bring it all together. Once everything has come together, take it off the heat.

This is what the choux looks like when an egg has just gone in - don't panic!
This is what the choux looks like when an egg has just gone in – don’t panic!

Start adding the eggs, a little bit at a time, and stir to incorporate into the rest of the mixture. Don’t worry if it doesn’t come together immediately, you really need to put some effort in! Hollywood reckons 2 eggs for twice this mixture, but we got nearly 2 eggs in – what you’re looking for is a really shiny, silky texture that isn’t runny but will be easy to pipe.

Ahh - perfect silky choux!
Ahh – perfect silky choux!

Once the choux mixture is done, put it in a piping bag with a 1 cm nozzle (we used disposable bags and cut a 1 cm nozzle), trying to make sure there are no air bubbles. Pipe out four 12cm-long eclairs onto a pre-prepared baking sheet lined with baking paper, and as many profiteroles as you can get out of the rest of the mixture – we managed 4 fairly large ones (about 3 cm across).

Choux going in bag

Eclairs going on

Dab down any spikes of choux with a wet finger, and whack in the oven. Bake until a light golden-brown colour – this should be about 30 minutes. As soon as they come out, put a small hole in each one with the tip of a knife, to let any steam out – otherwise they’ll go a bit soggy, and no-one wants soggy choux.

Cream

Now for the cream filling. Beat the marscapone in a bowl until smooth, and then add the coffee and icing sugar and mix in. Beat the cream until it holds soft peaks and then fold into the rest of the mixture. Spoon into a piping bag with a 1cm nozzle, and pipe into the eclairs and profiteroles. This is another step that’s a bit scary if you haven’t done it before! Just stick the nozzle into the hole that you made and squeeze (making sure that the cream is going to come out of the right end of the piping bag!). The eclairs will hold a surprising amount of cream, inside they’re nothing but air. They’ll be pretty weighty when you’re done!

Perfect one-hand filling from bird there!
Perfect one-hand filling from bird there!

Eclair Filled

For the icing, heat the sugar, butter and salt in a saucepan. Don’t stir initially – give it the odd shake around though. When everything is melted and a bit smoother, add the milk and bring to the boil. Keep it boiling for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take it off the heat and sift in the icing sugar. You’ll need to be quick now, the icing will harden surprisingly fast! Slather over your eclairs, and dip the profiteroles in to get a little cap of icing.

For a last extra-special touch, sprinkle over a little sea salt and gently press into the top of the icing. This lovely burst of flavour and texture just puts the icing on the cake… or should that be the salt on the icing?

The sea salt is a really excellent touch!
The sea salt is a really excellent touch!

Now – eat them! We have to say thanks to Lindt for this, not only for the lovely chocolates, but for inspiring us to get in our kitchen to cook up this quite frankly incredible dessert.

Eclair Done

We also have an exciting announcement – head over to our twitter feed for a chance to win a box of your very own Lindt Creation Desserts. A perfect gift just in time for Mother’s Day (or a treat to scoff yourself!). UK only, competition closes 21/03/2014, one box available and winner is chosen at random from followers who have retweeted – retweet and follow us on Twitter for a chance to win!

*Lindt Creation Desserts were sent to us free of charge by 4Ps Marketing. You can buy them at the lindt shop

Cranberry, Orange and White Chocolate Muffins

Just a quickie here, these mini muffins were whipped up for Bird to take into work for her belated birthday cake and they all disappeared very quickly! There is still a hint of the festive with the cranberry and orange combination, but cranberry and white chocolate is a classic that takes some beating. This recipe made 22 mini muffins (fairy cake sized cases) and would probably make 12-14 standard sized muffins.

Ingredients

  • 300g self raising flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 170g unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (not essence!)
  • 200ml milk, we used semi-skimmed
  • 100g white chocolate, chopped into small squares
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • zest of half an orange

White Chocolate, Orange and Cranberry

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the sugar. In a jug mix together the milk, eggs and vanilla extract. Pour this mixture into the bowl and mix together being careful not to overmix. Add the melted butter, again mix gently and then fold in the chocolate, cranberries and orange. And that’s the mix done! Easy peasy.

Muffins in Cases

Spoon the mix into cake cakes in a muffin tin (or use 2-3 cases inside each other on a baking tray if you don’t have a muffin tin) and place into the oven. Ours took around 15-18 minutes to be light golden on top and baked through but if you’re making these full size then they will take longer, around 25 minutes probably. Take them out, leave them to cool and then dive in! Or if you’re saintly like us, feed them to your colleagues while they complain about January dieting. The perfect antidote to the worst Monday of the year!

That'll be what, 2 servings?
That’ll be what, 2 servings?

What We’ve Been Baking

We’ve been getting our bake on a fair bit lately, but unfortunately the stuffing of baked goods into our mouths took precedence over photographing our efforts on many occasions! So here is a little roundup of our bakes, I’m sure we’ll be making them again soon and we will try to be better bloggers so we can give you proper recipes.

First up for a charity Bake Sale at Bird’s work we made Raspberry & Blueberry Cheesecake Brownies and Challah. The brownies were immense – gooey, sweet, and a little bit sharp from the berries and the cream cheese. We will definitely be baking these again! We’ve got a feeling Fats’ family will be particularly fond of these…

The beautiful swirls before baking
The beautiful swirls before baking
The finished article! (sorry about the naff Instagram quality)
The finished article! (sorry about the naff Instagram quality)

Challah is a Jewish enriched bread, it’s sort of like brioche, soft, light, slightly sweet and so moreish. Apparently it makes amazing french toast too but we’ve never had enough left over to make it, oops! We shaped ours into a simple 3 strand plait, simple but quite effective.

_MG_3484 (1000x667)

Plain Challah
Plain Challah
Slightly wonky poppyseed Challah
Slightly wonky poppyseed Challah

Lastly, and firmly on the savoury front, some little rye and poppyseed rolls made in ramekins, not only adorable but a great way of making bread stay fresh for days as you aren’t cutting into a loaf. We simply made half the usual amount (so 250g of flour) but still followed our basic bread recipe, using around 1/3 rye flour and 2/3 strong white flour. These also made very cute little pieces of toast!

The rolls before baking
The rolls before baking
They rose more than expected!
They rose more than expected!

So that’s what we’ve been baking, hopefully we can share the full recipes with you soon. What have you been baking lately?

Tart Tuesday: Chocolate and Coffee Ganache with Roasted Hazelnuts

Guess who’s back… back again… Tart Tuesday’s back… ok so it doesn’t really work. Anyway, the point is that it was a particularly emotionally draining week on The Great British Bake Off with both Paul and Mary seeming to have woken up on the wrong side of bed that morning (separate beds hopefully) and all of the fantastic bakers took a verbal hammering. To counteract the distressing nature of this viewing we made our most indulgent mini tarts to date! These little artery-cloggers are filled with a ganache made with both dark and milk chocolate, coffee liqueur and then topped with chopped, roasted hazelnuts.

Once again we used the same pastry as featured in all of our Tart Tuesday posts but as this is a fridge set tart the pastry was rolled out to pretty thin (around 5mm) and then placed in the same loose-bottomed tart cases that we’ve used throughout (thanks Nanny Bird for those!). The base of it was then pricked with a fork and a piece of greaseproof paper placed in each, filled with baking beans and then baked blind for just under 10 minutes at 180°C, then the beans and greaseproof paper were removed and it was baked for a further 10 minutes or so until lightly golden and firm. Leave these to cool fully while you make the ganache.

Chopped Chocolate

We used a mixture of half milk chocolate and half dark chocolate to give a semi-sweet filling as no sugar is added. Finely chop 100g of your desired chocolate and place in a jug for easy filling of the tarts. Place 65ml of double cream in a small pan over the lowest heat and slowly heat until it begins to steam, at this stage tip in about 1 tbsp of liqueur. If you wanted to miss this step and make them non alcoholic just used 75-80 ml of cream instead. We used a coffee liqueur but orange, raspberry, almond, hazelnut or probably many others would be delicious too.

Once you have added the liqueur to the cream watch it closely and once it starts bubbling slightly pour it over the chopped chocolate immediately. Let this mixture stand for 30 seconds to 1 minute to let the hot cream do it’s work, and then using a whisk bring the ganache together. You will end up with a much better, glossier ganache if you try not to introduce much air at this stage so don’t whisk properly, just gently use the whisk to mix until you have a rich, glossy mixture. Pour this into the cold pastry cases and then put in the fridge to chill – ours chilled for about an hour and a half and had a beautiful truffle-y texture. You can leave it just simple like this or top with it anything you like, we used chopped roasted hazelnuts made by roasting a small handful of whole hazelnuts at 180°C for 5 minutes, chopping once cool and sprinkling on top.

Chocolate Tarts

Enjoy… Who do you hope wins Bake Off?

Raspberry, Orange and Almond Chocolate Brownies

Think of these as trans-seasonal brownies. Like a light jumper but more… gooey. That perfect snack for when there’s a bit of a chill in the air and you want some comforting chocolateyness but with a light, summery twist. These are based on a Lorraine Pascale (don’t you just want to be her best friend? We love her!) recipe which uses pieces of Oreo cookies. We tried them and were pleasantly surprised (not being massive Oreo fans) but the bit that really impressed us was the perfectly gooey, rich brownie mixture. So we have taken that and added our own flavours too it – this time we used orange zest, almond extract and fresh raspberries for a little of jam-like tart raspberry in every mouthful.

Ingredients

  • 165g butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 200g dark chocolate, grated or finely chopped
  • zest of 1 medium orange, finely grated
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 2 free-range egg yolks
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 165g soft light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • pinch salt
  • 150-200g fresh raspberries

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 20cm/8in square baking tin with butter, then line with baking paper.

Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. When the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and add the grated (or chopped) chocolate along with the orange zest.

Choc orange

We ended up having half grated, half chopped chocolate because grating seemed too much like hard work! So we recommend chopping (if you have a large knife) unless you have a food processor to do the grating for you.  Leave to stand for a few minutes, or until the chocolate melts, and then stir together. Resist the urge to eat this mixture, the finished mixture tastes so much better.

Whisk the eggs, egg yolks and almond together in a large bowl until the eggs begin to get light and fluffy. Add the sugar in two additions, whisking between each. Pour it around the side of the egg mix so as not to knock out the air that has been whisked in. Keep whisking until the mixture becomes stiffer. Once the egg mixture is ready, pour the chocolate into it – again around the sides so as not to knock the air out. Add the flour, cocoa powder, and salt and stir until fully combined, then pour half of the mixture into the prepared tin. Place your raspberries in an even layer over this and then pour on the other half of the mixture.

Choc raspberries

Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25–30 minutes.. Leave the brownies to cool in the tin – the top will sink and crack a little. Cut into small squares because they’re pretty rich and then enjoy!

Brownies

Instabrownies!
Instabrownies!

These little squares of joy will likely crumble and squidge all over you as you eat them but oh god are they worth it! Nothing better than curling up with these and a cup of tea or coffee as the nights start to draw in. We’re already thinking of the next flavour combination to try, at the moment we’re thinking espresso and hazelnut… any other suggestions?

On Holiday at Home

This weekend we had Fats’ brother and his girlfriend staying with us so had loads of plans for a packed weekend. Unfortunately Bird then got ill, and then gave it to Fats so we were feeling a bit under the weather! So this is what we did on our pared down bank holiday weekend:

Friday
We mainly spent the afternoon catching up because we hadn’t seen them since we went to Marrakech in March, and they live in Edinburgh so not exactly handy for a cuppa, and before we knew it it was time to make some pizza! If you’re wanting to share some homemade pizza with friends you can find our recipe here. After a bottle of wine and a few beers we decided to call it a night so we were full of energy for Saturday.

Saturday
After an amazing breakfast of homemade bread, scrambled eggs, fried mushrooms and fried bacon with cherry tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and basil we headed up to Clifton to truly do the tourist thing.

Saturday breakfastWe walked up past the floating harbour, college green and park street so as to take in lots of the main Bristol sights, before wandering the leafy streets of Clifton marvelling at the massive houses and cute little boutiques.

The steam train at the harbourside
The steam train at the harbourside

Then we got onto the main event – Brunel’s Suspension Bridge. Even though we’ve been here dozens of times it never fails to take your breath away.

Suspension Bridge

We walked over it and took a few snaps and then decided to go and warm up with some chocolatey goodness! Bar Chocolat is the only place to go to in Clifton if you’re in the mood for chocolate (when are you not?!), they offer amazing real hot chocolate where you can choose your chocolate (white, house blend or dark) and then add flavourings such as cayenne pepper, orange oil, malt extract or flavoured syrups and then add toppings such as marshmallows. Bird opted out of hot chocolate as the cakes were calling! The hot chocolates had were house blend with hazelnut syrup, house blend with orange oil and dark chocolate with orange oil. We’re both massive fans of chocolate with orange, and this one certainly doesn’t disappoint. There is a jaw-dropping selection of amazing looking cakes on offer, Bird plumped for a dairy-free and gluten-free chocolate, orange and almond truffle cake to go with a lemon & ginger tea. The cake was perfect, moist but with a nice crumb, with a perfect balance of flavours.

Feeling suitably tubby and satisfied we meandered back towards the house stopping off in M Shed on the way. M Shed is a fairly new museum to Bristol, it opened just over two years ago and tells the story of Bristol through the ages, often through the voices of the people. It’s a really engaging place to visit, plenty of interactive displays – great for all ages!

Amazing second hand/antiques shop in Clifton
Amazing second hand/antiques shop in Clifton
Clifton Arcade
Clifton Arcade
The "National Treasure" Gromit in M Shed
The “National Treasure” Gromit in M Shed

We went to see The Boy Who Cried Wolf at Bristol’s Old Vic Theatre and it was really fantastic – this week is the last week of it being on, if you’re in the Bristol area we urge you to go along! Two years ago we saw Treasure Island at the Old Vic, this was an outdoor production because the theatre was being renovated and it was outstanding, the set was so innovate, the cast was so talented so when we heard that they were doing another outdoor production we had to go along. As the name suggests this is a collection of Aesop’s Fables adapted for the stage by award winning author Michael Morpurgo. They were performed by an incredibly talented cast of just 5 people who sung their way through the fables. Although it is aimed at children, it is hilarious for adults too, we left feeling extremely happy and uplifted.

By this point it was just after half past 8 and we were getting hungry! We went to our first choice, No 1. Harbourside which we’ve had lunch at a few times and always delivers simple, wonderful local food for amazing value. At No 1. you get a free bowl of soup with every main meal – on Saturday this was carrot and coriander. It had a gorgeous spicy kick and was just the right amount, the perfect starter. Then onto the main courses – our guests both went for the burger which was huge and came with a generous portion of well seasoned french fries.

Fats chose hanger steak which came with mustard, rocket and roasted vine tomatoes while Bird chose pork belly (with crackling to die for!) which was served with roasted chicory and fennel and broad beans all in a rich gravy. Sorry there are no photos of any of these, we were so hungry by this point we just dived straight in!

Sunday
This was a little more like a normal Sunday as our guests were visiting some friends of theirs who live close to us so Bird went to ballet while Fats went for a bike ride to Bath. Back at the house, freshly showered, we put together a lovely lunch of leftover Serrano ham and goats cheese left over from the pizza making, served with leftover homemade bread, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes and a salad made from 3 tiny courgettes Bird picked up at the market sliced into ribbons with a potato peeler dressed with fresh chilli, lemon juice, basil and extra virgin olive oil.

Courgette salad

Lunch leftovers

Feeling suitably smug after exercise and a healthy lunch we cracked on with making some brownies! We will do a separate post on these but suffice to say we were inspired by Bar Chocolat’s chocolate, almond and orange cake and decided to go one step further and add raspberries! Those of you who follow us on Instagram will have seen a teaser.

It seemed a crime not to tuck into these so we spent Sunday evening, when our guests came back, snuggled up watching Shaun of the Dead, drinking tea and eating freshly baked brownies!

Monday
The last day of the weekend and it really came through for us – the sun shone! Sun + bank holiday never normally happens in the UK so we decided to make the most of it. We sent the boys off for picnic supplies and then headed to the park with ham and tomato sandwiches, cheese and caramelised onion relish sandwiches, root vegetable crisps, fresh anchovies in a lemon and herb dressing and fresh strawberries. After a laze in the sun we headed to our new favourite place The Stable to try their cider tasting board. You get a third of a pint of 5 different ciders/perrys to try for £7.50 – we got 2 boards between the four of us so that no flights back to Edinburgh were missed! About an hour and a half later we headed home, distinctly merry and still arguing about whether number 4 or 2 was best…. or was it 5?

Cider board
We had a fantastic weekend with some amazing friends, some fabulous food – we think it’s the sign of a brilliant time when you have such a great time even when you’re feeling ill! Thanks Bristol for another gurt lush weekend!

Ultimate Comfort Chilli

We made this dish at the weekend, it was the perfect cheer-up food after a rain soaked Saturday. The smell of it cooking away slowly in the oven was incredible, you have to be very patient!

There are so many recipes for chilli con carne around, this one wasn’t particularly planned, we tend to throw in what we have lying around for a lot of our cooking so feel free to replace things if you don’t like that particular vegetable/spice or if you don’t have it in.

Ingredients (makes enough for 4-6 people):

  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 2-3 sticks of celery, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped/minced
  • smoked pancetta (you don’t have to add this but it creates a gorgeous base of smokeyness)
  • 500g good quality lean beef mince
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1tsp cumin powder
  • ½tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1-2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1-2 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1-2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tins/cartons of chopped tomatoes or passata
  • 1 tin of kidney beans in water
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • around 30g of really good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
  • rice and sour cream to serve

If you wanted to make a vegetarian version of this dish one obvious substitution would be the meat for Quorn (other brands are available!), but we think it would be more interesting not to take the easy route and to bulk it out with lovely, meaty mushrooms and extra beans instead – some black eyed beans and/or pinto beans would make a lovely addition. To get more of the rich flavour without using beef stock cubes you could add a teaspoon of Marmite – it may sound odd but it gives that deep, savoury kick which you might miss otherwise.

Perfect for practising those knife skills.
Perfect for practising those knife skills.

To start with soften the onion, garlic and celery in a large casserole dish over a low heat, cook for at least 10 minutes but try not to get much colour at all on them, you want them to soften and sweeten. Add the diced smoked pancetta, we used barely any in this so you could leave it out if you wanted to but it definitely adds a little something! Fry this for a few minutes until it has lightly cooked and become fragrant and then add the beef mince, breaking it up with your fingers as you put it in. Immediately add 200ml of beef stock (use a whole stock cube to make it) – by not browning the beef off you’re making sure it cooks really slowly and melts in your mouth. Now it’s time to add your herbs and spices! The amounts listed above are a guide, obviously adjust to your own chilli preference and remember you can always add but you can’t take away. We were a little cautious at first and then added more about halfway through the cooking time.

Kidney beans

Once you have stirred the herbs and spices in add the chopped tomatoes followed by the pepper and kidney beans, give it a good stir, bring to a very gentle simmer and then pop in a really low oven (around 130°C) and leave alone for at least an hour. Cook for 3 hours minimum stirring every hour until you can’t take it any longer and have to eat some!

Right before serving place a couple of squares of dark chocolate on top and drool as they melt into the chilli. Don’t worry, this won’t add any sweetness, just the most fantastic, rich flavour.

Resist the urge to put your face in it...
Resist the urge to put your face in it…

Serve with rice and sour cream and if you’re feeling fancy (we were) some homemade guacamole.

We made a really simple guacamole by mixing 1 ripe avocado with a good pinch of sea salt, 1 diced tomato and a big squeeze of lime or lemon juice. Give it all a mix up and you’re ready for your Mexican feast!

... Now you can put your face in it!
… Now you can put your face in it!

This was the perfect meal to sit down to and ignore the rain lashing at the windows – warming, comforting and pretty healthy too.