Chocolate Cake for Easter

The most indulgent chocolate cake to grace my table is this one that I made in collaboration with the Central England Co-Operative.  Unlike most chocolate cakes, it’s not dry as it has evaporated milk in the recipe.  It’s slathered in a rich and creamy chocolate ganache and is decorated with rather a lot of chocolate mini eggs along with some decadent praline animals.

 

It’s certainly not a cake you’d make every week, but for special occasions and a little indulgent treat, this is the cake sure to be a hit with any chocolate lover.
All of my ingredients were sourced from my local Co-Operative, and where possible, FairTrade ingredients were used.

 

Cake:
300g Self raising flour
340g Caster sugar
40g Cocoa
150g Butter (room temp)
3 Large eggs
110g Evaporated Milk
80g Water
5ml Vanilla extract
Ganache:
200g Dark chocolate
100g Milk chocolate
250ml Double cream
Decoration:
Cadbury Mini eggs (my cake took 9 bags)
Box of Co-Operative Spring praline chocolates
1. Heat the oven to 180℃.
2. Grease and line two 20cm/8″ cake tins.
3. In a large bowl place all the cake ingredients.
4. Mix together for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy.

 

5. Divide equally between the two cake tins.
6. Bake for 35-40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
7. Cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then turn out into a wire rack to cool completely.
Whilst the cakes are cooling, now is the time to get your ganache ready.
8. In a saucepan, break the chocolate into squares and add the cream.
9. Heat very gently until the chocolate has melted, stirring frequently.
10. Remove from the heat and pour into a large bowl, then set aside to cool and set.
11. When the cakes are cold and the ganache has set, use ¼ of the ganache to sandwich the cakes together.
12. Place the cakes onto a serving plate and use the other ¾ of the ganache to thickly coat the sides and top of the cake. Don’t worry about it being perfectly smooth and pretty as you’re going to decorate the sides and top with lots and lots of mini eggs.
13. Starting at the bottom, place a row of mini eggs all around the cake, adding extra layers until you either run out of mini eggs, or you’ve covered the sides completely.
14. Decorate the top of the cakes with the spring praline chocolates.
You won’t want a large slice of this cake unless you’re a raving chocoholic with the sweetest tooth known to man, so this cake will certainly go a very, very long way indeed!  You could even (perish the thought!) share it with friends and neighbours, as I did!
Happy Easter, enjoy my recipe xx
I was sent a voucher from the Central England Co-Operative to buy ingredients with which to create a recipe for them.

Wine Review – Central England Co-Operative – Pic Saint Loup

My wine review this month for the Central England Co-Operative is a beautiful, peach coloured, Pic Saint Loup 2013 rosé from the Languedoc region of Southern France, close to Montpelier.

This wine is part of the Co-Operative’s Truly Irresistable range of wines and is in the Top 100 wines produced from the South of France. It has ‘appellation d’origine protégée’ or ‘protected designation of origin’ which means that this wine can only be produced from grapes grown in this area (much as Champagne can only be grown from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France). It’s produced from a blend of the Syrah and Grenache grapes.

This light, crisp dry rosé wine is perfect when served chilled to accompany light pasta dishes, such as my Fusilli Al Vegetali, pizzas, salads and charcuterie. Simply in a glass on it’s own is a wonderfully pleasant drink too.

I can imagine sipping a glass (or two) of this, whilst sitting in the setting summer sun, eating some fabulous food and chatting to friends.  Cheers! 


I was sent a voucher to purchase a bottle of wine of my choice from the range available in the Co-Operative.  The review above is my personal opinion of the bottled wine that I chose.

Lamb steaks with Friars Farm Middle Eastern Marmalade and Potatoes

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Being based in Northamptonshire, Friars Farm, one of the local producers of jams, chutneys and sauces approached me and asked if I’d like to sample some of their products.  Of course being a foodie, and wanting to support local producers, I said yes and I’m thoroughly glad I did too!  They have a fab range of products; the first of which, their Middle Eastern Marmalade, I’m reviewing here. I also used this in a batch of flapjacks that I made, but for that recipe you’ll have to wait a short while…!
1 Red onion
4 Lamb leg steaks
4 tsp Friars Farm Middle Eastern Marmalade
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Sweet potato, peeled
2 Large potatoes, washed but not peeled
1 Knorr chicken stock pot, dissolved in:
280ml Boiling water
145ml Orange juice
2 tsp Mint sauce concentrate
1 Knorr rich beef gravy pot
100ml Double Cream
1. Heat the oven to 150℃.
2. Lay the lamb leg steaks in a single layer on the bottom of a rectangular dish.
3. Spread 1 teaspoon of the Friars Farm Middle Eastern Marmalade over each of the lamb steaks.
4. Season with ground black pepper.
5. Slice the sweet potatoes on setting 3 of a Oxo Hand Held Mandoline and layer on top of the lamb steaks.
6. Slice the potatoes on setting 3 of the mandoline then layer these over the sweet potato and lamb.
7. Mix the chicken stock, orange juice and mint sauce concentrate together.
8. Gently pour this over the lamb and potatoes.
9. Cover the dish with foil.  I run my finger gently around the inside of the dish after covering it which creates a low point, thereby enabling the evaporated juices to drip back down into the dish and retaining the moisture.

10. Place in the centre of the oven and cook for 3 hours.

11.  When cooked, remove from the oven and gently drain the juices into a saucepan.
12. Re-cover and keep warm whilst you make the gravy.

13. Add the beef gravy pot to the saucepan and quickly bring to the boil, whisking to distribute the gravy pot.
14. Add the double cream and gently heat through.
15. Serve a lamb steak with the potato topping on a bed of peas with the gravy poured on top.

I was given a range of products from Friars Farm to try.  I was under no obligation to develop or publish a recipe using their products.

Aldi’s best budget bake – Tiramisu cupcakes

Having been invited to take part in a food blogger challenge to celebrate Aldi Specialbuys Home Baking range which are on sale from Sunday 15th March 2015, we each received a hamper containing some of the range of kitchenware that would be on sale in store, along with a voucher with which to buy our ingredients.

Spurred on by the contents of my hamper, I chose to make some Italian Tiramisu inspired cupcakes and duly nipped out to Aldi to buy my ingredients: Eggs, self raising flour, caster sugar, butter, ground almonds, icing sugar, soft cheese, Amaretto, chocolate sprinkles and cupcake cakes. From my store cupboard I added almond extract and a splash of milk along with some coffee.  Here is how I made them:

For the Cakes (Makes 12):
4 Large free range eggs
140g Self raising flour
200g Caster sugar
200g Butter, softened to room temperature
80g Ground almonds
5ml almond extract
30ml milk
For the icing:
50g Butter, softened to room temperature
50g Soft cheese
250g Icing sugar
20ml Espresso (or very strong) coffee
15ml Amaretto
1 tub Chocolate sprinkles

1. Preheat the oven to 190℃.
2. Line a 12 hole cupcake tin with cupcake cases.

3. Place a large bowl onto your scales and add your eggs, reset the display to zero, then weigh in the flour, caster sugar, butter, ground almonds, almond extract and milk.

4. Using an electric mixer, thoroughly mix your ingredients together until light and fluffy.
5. Divide the mixture between your cupcake cases, making sure not to overfill the cases more than ¾ full.
6. Bake on the centre shelf of your oven for 15-18 minutes until lightly brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cupcake comes out clean.
7. Remove the cupcakes to a cooling rack and leave until cold.

To make the icing:
8. Place a large bowl on to your scales and weigh in the butter and soft cheese.
9. Remove the bowl from the scales, and using your electric mixer, beat these two ingredients together until fully combined.
10. Place the bowl back on your kitchen scales (reset the display to zero) and weigh in the icing sugar.
11. Measure in the espresso coffee and the Amaretto.

12. Starting slowly to prevent a huge dust storm of icing sugar, combine the icing ingredients together.
13. When the icing sugar is fully combined into the butter, soft cheese, coffee and Amaretto mixture, increase the speed then beat for 5 minutes until pale in colour, and light and airy in texture.

14. Spoon this into a disposable icing bag fitted with a star shaped nozzle (I used a Wilton 1M nozzle).
15. Pipe the icing onto the top in spiral pattern.
16. Sprinkle generously with the chocolate sprinkles.

17. Put the kettle on. Make yourself a coffee. Grab yourself a cupcake and enjoy your creations!

From my hamper I chose to use:
12 hole cupcake tin £1.99 This is a lovely and deep, teflon coated, non stick tin. What makes it even better is that you can put it in the dishwasher after you’ve used it! Always a bonus in my eyes being someone who hates washing up and tries to avoid it/delegate the task at all costs!

Slimline Electronic Kitchen Scales £6.99 These have an easy clean, stainless steel finish, are lightweight, slim and have an LED display.  They’re powered by an easily available CR2032 battery (which is included). Not only do they weigh in both imperial and metric weights, but they have the added feature of being able to weigh fluid ounces or millilitres of both milk or water at the touch of a button; truly functional and cook friendly.  With the added ‘tare’ function, you simply weigh your ingredient out, press the button to return the scales to zero and weigh out each additional ingredient in the same way.  Again, this really does appeal to me as I can weigh all my ingredients out in one go and into one bowl; saving washing up!

Double Oven Gloves £2.99 Part of a co-ordinated range of matching products, these are 100% cotton with a 100% polyester filling.  They’re a generous 18x92cm in size and more than big enough for the largest of hands whilst not being too large for little hands like mine. The hanging hook allows you to keep them handy near you oven and they’re washable too.

Party Butler cake container £4.99 The ideal solution to storing and transporting your cakes, snacks or pizzas.  It’s make from temperature resistant plastic which means you can easily clean this in the dishwasher (bonus!) It’s the perfect size to store 24 decorated cupcakes, whilst the two integrated, fold down handles, mean that you can easily carry your bakes to share with friends and family.

I also received but haven’t yet used:
Train silicone baking case £3.49
Measuring Jug Digital Kitchen Scale £6.99

The hamper and contents were provided to me free of charge from Aldi UK.  I was also provided with a gift voucher with which to purchase my ingredients to create my #BestBudgetBake recipe.