Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes

The people of the Black Forest got it right, cherries + chocolate = mind blowing cake. And what is far cuter, and more fun than cakes? Cupcakes.

These gorgeous little cupcakes are easy to make and bring together that most luxurious combination. This recipe is one of Nigella’s, and if you enjoyed it, you might like to visit her website, (http://www.nigella.com/search/results/?&section=recipes) for more heavenly ideas!

 Makes 12 cupcakes

  Ingredients

  For the Cupcakes

  125 grams soft unsalted butter
   100 grams dark chocolate (broken into pieces)
   300 grams morello cherry jam
   150 grams caster sugar
   1 pinch of salt
   2 large eggs (beaten)
   150 grams self-raising flour

      For the Icing

  • 100 grams dark chocolate
  • 100 ml double cream
  • 12 natural-coloured glace cherries

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4/350ºF.
  2. Put the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan on the heat to melt. When nearly completely melted, stir in the chocolate. Leave for a moment to begin softening, then take the pan off the heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the butter and chocolate are smooth and melted. Now add the cherry jam, sugar, salt and eggs. Stir with a wooden spoon and when all is pretty well amalgamated stir in the flour.
  3. Scrape and pour into the muffin papers in their tin and bake for 25 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out.
  4. When the cupcakes are cool, break the chocolate for the icing into little pieces and add them to the cream in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, remove from the heat and then whisk – by hand or electrically – till thick and smooth. Ice the cupcakes, smoothing the tops with the back of a spoon, and stand a cherry in the centre of each.

Top Tip!

If you have any Kirsch about the place, then add a splash to the batter and icing.

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Chocolate Fondant

This infamously tricky desert is one of my all time favourites. Theres is something almost magical about finding the fondant’s molten centre. But how do you re-create it at home?

Ingredients

  • 50g melted butter, for brushing
  • cocoa powder, for dusting
  • 200g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 200g butter, in small pieces
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 4 eggs and 4 yolks
  • 200g plain flour
  • Caramel sauce (see ‘Goes well with’) and vanilla ice cream or orange sorbet, to serve

Method

  1. First get your moulds ready. Using upward strokes, heavily brush the melted butter all over the inside of the pudding mould. Place the mould in the fridge or freezer. Brush more melted butter over the chilled butter, then add a good spoonful of cocoa powder into the mould. Tip the mould so the powder completely coats the butter. Tap any excess cocoa back into the jar, then repeat with 1 the next mould.
  2. Place a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, then slowly melt the chocolate and butter together. Remove bowl from the heat and stir until smooth. Leave to cool for about 10 mins.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and yolks together with the sugar until thick and pale and the whisk leaves a trail; use an electric whisk if you want. Sift the flour into the eggs, then beat together.
  4. Pour the melted chocolate into the egg mixture in thirds, beating well between each addition, until all the chocolate is added and the mixture is completely combined to a loose cake batter.
  5. Tip the fondant batter into a jug, then evenly divide between the moulds. The fondants can now be frozen for up to a month and cooked from frozen. Chill for at least 20 mins or up to the night before. To bake from frozen, simply carry on as stated, adding 5 mins more to the cooking time.
  6. Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Place the fondants on a baking tray, then cook for 10-12 mins until the tops have formed a crust and they are starting to come away from the sides of their moulds. Remove from the oven, then leave to sit for 1 min before turning out.
  7. Loosen the fondants by moving the tops very gently so they come away from the sides, easing them out of the moulds. Tip each fondant slightly onto your hand so you know it has come away, then tip back into the mould ready to plate up.
  8. Starting from the middle of each plate, squeeze a spiral of caramel sauce – do all the plates you need before you go on to the next stage.
  9. Sit a fondant in the middle of each plate. Using a large spoon dipped in hot water, scoop a ‘quenelle’ of ice cream.
  10. Carefully place the ice cream on top of the fondant, then serve immediately. Repeat with the rest of the fondants.
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  • Top Tip!

  • Once you have mastered the fondants it’s very easy to adapt their flavour. For a boozy version add a generous splash of Baileys to the melted chocolate. You can also make a chocolate and orange version by adding the finely grated zest of 1 large orange and an optional splash of orange liqueur.

Good Food Week

From the 12th to the 15th I’m happy to say I, Cocoa Antics will be exhibiting at the BBC Good Food show at the NEC in Birmingham!

For more info go to: Good Food Show

So to celebrate fabulous food I shall be sharing a different chocolate recipe each day!

This week:

Chocolate Sorbet!

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Ingredients

  • 200g caster sugar
  • 50g cocoa
  • 50g dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Tip the sugar into a bowl, sift in the cocoa and stir. Bring 600ml water to the boil in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the sugar and cocoa and return to a gentle simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 mins, whisking occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate and vanilla until the chocolate has melted.
  2. Cool the mixture, then put in the fridge for several hrs or overnight until well chilled. Make the sorbet in an ice-cream machine or pour into a rigid plastic container, preferably bowl shaped, and freeze until frozen 3cm from the edges. Whisk to break down the ice crystals, then freeze again for 1 hr more. Whisk and freeze again one more time, then leave until completely frozen.
  3. Before serving, transfer to the fridge for 30 mins to make scooping easier.

 

Summer Festivities

The leaves are out in full and the days are longer, as summer speeds towards us, bringing with it barbecues, pimms and wasps. A whole host of activities are made available, and acceptable to us, thanks to the summer heat. During any other season, lying perfectly still on a towel in your garden, would not only be unadvisable (unless you were very well wrapped up), but it would also be deemed as rather eccentric. However, from the months from May till August, it is one of the most pleasant, and necessary summer pass times. Everyone becomes obsessed with ice cream, their ears pricking up whenever that familiar tune plays from a van. In England, the nation becomes tennis mad, tracking luminous yellow balls, as Nadal unpicks yet another wedgie, as we all consume gargantuan portions of strawberries and cream. Whilst putting it those terms, Wimbledon appears to be a a bizarre ritual, but it is all rather fun!

Another summer favourite is the festival, an opportunity to celebrate something you have a real passion for, with like minded people. On the 17th of May I shall be exhibiting at the Witney Festival of Food & Drink. It promises to be an excellent day, including 60 stalls selling locally produced food and drink, cooking demonstrations and talks all day. The children are also catered for, with many fun and creative activities organised for them.

For more information, please visit:

http://www.witneyfoodfestival.co.uk/index.html 

It would be wonderful to see you there!

 

 

Mother’s Day!

This Sunday is Mother’s Day, a day consigned to handmade cards, breakfast in bed, and meaning well (even though the kitchen is a mess).
For me however, it’s about honouring the strongest bond I have with another person.
It’s about thanking her for carrying me,
Loving me,
Feeding me,
Clothing me,
Worrying about me,
Helping me grow,
Caring for me,
Soothing me,
Placating me,
Teaching me,
Putting up with me,
Making me laugh,
Making me think,
Being a best friend to me,

But above all for being the one constant in my life.
Thank you mum.

Being a mum is hard work, so let’s remember to thank ours this Sunday!

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Valentine’s Day Chocolates

These are gorgeous!!

The Good Chocolates Blog

Valentine's Day Chocolates

A quick admiration of some of the romantic works of art currently available on the marketplace…

As you’ll know, Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching. The rampant commercialisation of this event probably makes you feel slightly queasy inside, before you’ve even started thinking about how your going to demonstrate your appreciation for your loved one.

I’ve tried dinner out on Valentine’s Day once, and to be honest it wasn’t great. Sat shoulder to shoulder in a packed restaurant, struggling to hear my partner above the noise and trying to pretend that it was romantic didn’t help to create that “special moment”. So now I opt for the quieter approach: a bottle of wine, some home cooked food/takeaway, a movie and of course a good box of chocolates… “What could be better?” I hear you say!

Well, if you did say that, then hopefully you’ll appreciate the inspiration below. And if you…

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Just Around the Corner….

Chocolate is as closely associated with the Festival of Love as are roses and cheesy cards. This is why at Cocoa Antics we find ourselves quite preoccupied with Saint Valentines Day. In the run up to this most romantic of holidays, I have found myself  pondering over it’s origin. The more cynical amongst us would say it is a capitalist con to make us spend more money, but there must be some other explanation!

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After a quick bit of googling I discovered that the day actually originated as the day of celebration for the saint and martyr Valentinus. He was executed by the Romans for performing illegal Christian weddings, an act that would for ever associate him with love.

However it was not until the days of Geoffrey Chaucer that the 14th of February was associated with romance, and it would not be until the 19th century  that people would exchange cards, roses and chocolates!

I would like to end on the words of the great Chaucer, to inspire a little romance for this week…

From Geoffrey Chaucer’s Parliament of Birds.

The life so short, the craft so long to learn,
The attempt so hard, the victory so keen,
The fearful joy, so arduous to earn,
So quick to fade – by all these things I mean
Love, for his wonders in this worldly scene
Confound me so that when I think of him
I scarcely know whether I sink or swim.