Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Chocolate orange brownies

Happy New Year! Now before you all embark on detoxes and healthy eating here is a truly delicious, indulgent recipe. I suspect many people will have got Terry's chocolate oranges for Christmas and may have them left over if they have had other goodies to eat, if not many supermarkets are now selling them off.

I myself was requested to make brownies for a boxing day party. I decided to make them 'christmas-y' by adding the chocolate orange and was very happy indeed to find them by one get one free. One for the brownies one for me! I used a white chocolate orange for a nice contrast but use any variety you like.

A low oven really does make for the best fudgey brownies. My parents oven is not like my crazy super hot oven and resulted in the best brownies I have made for a long time. I will be turning my oven down even further when I go back home.

Chocolate orange brownies

200g dark chocolate
175g butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
tablespoon strong coffee
300g caster sugar
115g plain flour
15g cocoa powder
3 eggs
1 chocolate orange, each segment broken into 3

Preheat the oven to 170oC/fan 150oC and line you brownie pan with baking parchment.

Melt the chocolate and butter until smooth (I did this in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water).

Once melted, remove the butter chocolate mix from the heat and stir in the sugar, vanilla and coffee until fully incorporated.

Add the flour and cocoa powder to the bowl and mix until combined.

Beat the eggs lightly with a fork and add to the bowl, mix until smooth and then finally stir through the chocolate orange.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and cook for 30-35 minutes until lightly flaky ontop but not overcooked.

Leave to cool in the pan then cut into chunks

Pink champagne marshmallows

These were another homemade gift this Christmas. Thankfully there were plenty left over as I love marshmallows and homemade ones are truly amazing.

The champagne flavour of these really comes through, giving an intensely fruity flavour.

Sorry for the lack of photos, it was very frantic making these on Christmas Eve. I urge you to give these a go should you be willing to spare a glass of you New Years prosecco or champagne!

Pink champagne marshmallows

3 sachets gelatine
250ml champagne/prosecco
340g caster sugar
325g golden syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch salt
Pink gel colouring
30g icing sugar
30g corn flour

Combine the icing sugar and corn flour in a bowl. Lightly oil a 13 by 9 inch pan (I used my brownie tin) and thoroughly coat in ~ 1/2 the icing sugar mix, reserving the rest.

Put the gelatine into the bowl of a free standing mixer. Add 125ml of the champagne and allow to soften.

Meanwhile put the sugar, golden syrup and remaining champagne into a heavy bottomed saucepan. Warm over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to medium/high and cook until the syrup reaches 240F on a candy thermometer.

Remove from the heat and immediately start the mixer on slow. Carefully pour the hot syrup down the side of the bowl onto the gelatine.

Increase the speed of the mixer and beat for 12 minutes. Add in the vanilla and a little colouring (a little goes a long way!) and beat for a further couple of minutes.

Scoop the sticky mass into the prepared pan, smooth over and sprinkle with the remaining icing sugar mix.  Leave for a least 4 hours or overnight then cut into squares.

These will keep for a couple of weeks in an airtight container.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Stollen breakfast rolls

Merry Christmas everyone! I hop everyone's day was what they wished it would be. Are you still hungry? I suspect not. If you are like me though you will probably have a lots of leftover bits and open bags in your baking cupboard, yes? Well if so these stollen style breakfast buns could help use up the dried fruit and marzipan kicking about.

These are delicious warm from the oven and as the dough is light they are a not too heavy start to your day, plenty of room for that party buffet later!

I used the cinnamon roll recipe on my blog, here. I changed the filling by using mixed spice instead cinnnamon, plenty of mixed dried fruit and 60g of marzipan  broken into small pieces.

These really are best baked fresh so I kept the rolls in the fridge baking them over a couple of days as and when I needed them.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Maple pecan fudge

Christmas is fast approaching and over the past few years I have started to make little homemade presents, either a few together as a gift or alongside something else.

I have already made rhubarb and ginger jam which I made last year. This year I have already made a variation too, clementine and lemon marmalade. I have also remade peanut brittle, recipe here.

I still have to make salted caramels dipped in chocolate, pink champagne marshmallows, spiced coconut  caramels, frostbite cookies and pesto. Phew, look out for those appearing on the blog in the next week or so!

One new recipe for this year, already made, is maple and pecan fudge. I had never made fudge before so was a little worried about how it would turn out. The recipe I followed was fantastic and the resulting fudge is creamy and  really deeply flavoured with maple syrup.

Maple pecan fudge (from bbc good food magazine)

150g golden caster sugar
300g maple syrup (I used the darker grade for a more intense flavour)
30g of golden syrup
150ml double cream
75ml whole milk
1 tsp vanilla paste
1/2 tsp sea salt
25g butter
100g pecans, roughly chopped

Grease the sides and base of a 8 inch square pan with some sort of vegetable oil and line with baking parchment. 

Combine all the ingredients except the butter and pecans in a large heavy based saucepan and cook gently over a medium heat, stirring frequently,  to dissolve the sugar.

Pop a sugar thermometer into the pan and bring the syrup to the boil. Continue to cook the syrup at a gentle boil until it reaches 114C/236F. The mix will have to be stirred frequently to prevent it catching on the base of the pan. This will take a while to get t the correct temperature, be patient. 

Take the pan from the heat and plunge the base into cold water to prevent the syrup from cooking further. Add the butter, give the fudge a gentle stir then scoop into a large mixing bowl. Leave to cool at room temperature for 20 minutes. Do not touch it! Not even a tiny taste, you will end up with grainy fudge. 

Using a wooden spoon beat the fudge for 3-4 minutes until it thickens and starts to lose its sheen. Add 3/4 of the pecans and then spoon the fudge into the prepared tin, spreading with a palette knife to create an even layer. Scatter the remaining pecans over the fudge pressing them in gently.
Leave to set overnight before using a nice sharp knife to cut into squares.

The recipe states these will keep for two weeks. I have wrapped each square tightly in clingfilm then put them in a thick cellophane bag. Hopefully the recipients will enjoy, I certainly enjoyed my quality control piece!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Xmas village

First things first. I can spell. As a general rule I very much dislike the word xmas instead of Christmas. Having said that, this months letter for alpha bakes is 'X'. I cannot find a food that begins with X so am actually pretty relieved it has turned up in December.

I was having my weekly wander round lakeland when I spotted, amongst much Christmas bakeware, their mould for a fairytale village. I have always wanted to make a gingerbread house and thought that for my first one small would be better as they would be sturdy. The mould can be used for chocolate or gingerbread.

I followed the recipe on the packet as I thought that it may be important for the structural integrity of the houses. I did add an extra half teaspoon of ginger and 1/2 a teaspoon of mixed spice as I really like my gingerbread to have a deep warmth. I also used all treacle. You could use all golden syrup or or a mix but 1) I like the flavour of treacle and 2) It makes my houses nice and dark which contrast nicely with the snow.

I have never made royal icing before but it was very easy and holds my house together very very well indeed.

I got creative with all the remaining royal icing to create snow drifts by doors and in window panes. I also had a go at icicles and am very pleased for my first attempt. I finished the whole thing off with a dusting of icing sugar.

Its almost to pretty to eat but once I had brown the first roof panel off it got easier. The gingerbread is crunchy with a lovely deep flavour, I am glad I added the extra spicing.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Frangipane topped mince pies

I am in love. With the homemade mince pie. Last year I mentioned how I thought I did not like mince pies. Turns out what I do not like are over sweet mushy soft soggy shop mince pies. What I LOVE are homemade ones with short crumbly buttery pastry with a spiced fruit centre.

I have already made a batch of normal mince pies this year and they reignited my relatively new found love. You can find the recipes for the mincemeat, and the pies themselves here.

Although I love them as they are I wondered if there was any other ways that I could jazz them up. I love frangipane and decided that a moist almond sponge topping on a mince pie would probably be no bad thing. And I was 100% right. These are amazing. As someone had work said, 'they may upset absolute traditionalists but dare I say these are better than all pastry'.

I am not claiming this to be an original idea, I am sure if we looked there would be lots of recipes out there. But I did use my own mincemeat recipe, my own pastry and my own frangipane recipe. So I can at least the claim credit for this exact version.

Frangipane topped mince pies

makes 10-12

90g butter
110g plain flour
2 tablespoons caster sugar
egg yolk
1-3 tablespoons ice cold water


70g butter
50g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
1 egg
teaspoon almond extract
70g ground almonds
25g plain flour
Pulse the butter and flour in a food processor until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and egg yolk and pulse again. Add the water, a tablespoon at a time, and pulse until until the dough comes together, I have made this pastry a couple of times and always have needed 2 tablespoons of water, but it will depend on the butter you use and the size of the egg yolk.

Gather the dough and wrap in clingfilm, chill for 30 minutes.

While the pastry is chilling make the frangipane. Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla together until light and creamy. Beat in the egg and almond extract until combined. Gently fold in the almonds and flour until everything is evenly combined. 
Preheat the oven to 200C/180C FAN. Spray or butter cupcake tins and add a strip of greaseproof paper, this will make removing your mince pies a doddle.

Lightly flour a work surface and roll out your pastry to a few mm thick. Stamp out circles bigger than the bases in your cupcake tin.  Line the cases with the pastry, gently pushing it to the base and up the sides. Trimmings can be lightly re-rolled and to get the most from your pastry.

Fill each case with heaped teaspoons of mincemeat. then top with heaped teaspoons of frangipane. 

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the frangipane topping is golden.

Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

I say cool completely but they are nice warm. I do  mean warm not hot, The hot pies are unstable and likely to collapse, not to mention the molten fruit within may do serious damage!

I am a little bit sad that I took these in to work as they are all gone already. Another batch will definitely be made on Friday.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Salted caramel and dark chocolate macaroons

One day, perusing twitter I saw a tweet proclaiming that 'today is the last day to sign up to the Great Food Bloggers Cookie Swap'. I was hooked at the word cookies and quickly signed up before the deadline could pass me by.

The basic premise of the swap is that you register your interest, get sent three names and addresses of other bloggers and send them cookies. In return 3 different bloggers send cookies to you. You pay a small fee to enter ($4, £2.50) and this money goes to charity, the money raised is also matched by companies so lots of money is raised. So lots money for charity and lots of cookies for me, everyone is a winner.
The cookies had to be robust enough to stand up to transport and also keep well. I initially considered biscotti, one of the toughest of biscuits. You're not allowed to send a recipe already featured on your blog but are able to send a variation. I have a few biscotti recipes already, and although I could have tweaked one I had another think.

After trawling the internet I found some European biscuits that for some reason made me think of English coconut macaroons. And that was that. English macaroons fit the bill perfectly, the keep very well and are robust enough to send.

The basic English macaroon is coconut, flour and condensed milk, shaped into mounds and baked until golden.

I decided I would jazz up my macaroons and make them a little less sweet and more sophisticated. I made salted caramel macaroons and dipped the base in dark chocolate.

Salted caramel and dark chocolate coconut macaroons

makes 40-45

225g caramel (from a tin or make your own)
sea salt to taste
one tin of condensed milk (390g)
500g coconut
120g plain flour
100g dark chocolate

Preheat the oven to 160C/140C FAN and line a baking sheet or sheets with baking parchment.

First gently warm the caramel and add sea salt to taste stir till dissolved. I salted a little more than I usually would, almost too salty. I wanted it to be able to stand up to the sweetness of the condensed milk and coconut.

Mix the condensed milk with the salted caramel. Add in the flour and the coconut and mix well until everything is thoroughly combined.

Using a tablespoon put heaped mounds onto the prepared baking sheets. Leave a few centimetres between each one, you will need to bake these in a few batches!

Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden. Leave to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. They will firm up as they cool.

Once the macaroons are completely cold melt the dark chocolate and dip the base of each macaroon. Leave the macaroons upside down for the chocolate to set then devour!

Thankfully I had a few spare macaroons, so I could sample some, for quality control you understand! I really liked the texture of these, caramelised on the outside, soft in the middle, and the caramel chocolate combination helped temper the sweetness.  I hope that my recipients enjoyed them as much as we did here.

I would like to express my thanks to Merunnisa from Come.Con.Ella. for her delicious brownie roll out cookies. Pat from Pat's Kitchen for her seriously moreish Chocolate frostbite cookies. And finally Victoria from Victoria Sponge, Pease Pudding for her lovely festive Brandy soaked cranberry, Golden pecan and Dark chocolate Christmas cookies.

Thursday, 5 December 2013


You may have noticed (or not) a few less blog posts the past couple of months. I am once again back in Brno, just as I was in October.

For those of you wondering where on earth I actually am, Brno is a city in the south east of the Czech Republic. Although there is a small kitchen, there is only two hobs and a microwave so not much baking can happen for TWO whole weeks. This also means I suspect that less cake will be eaten. This is very sad.

Saying that I have had some cakes and bakes. I was presented with freshly baked apple strudel from my host when I arrived. It was fantastic and just what I needed after a 4.30am start and 9 hours travelling.

I have had a very English feeling piece of homemade carrot cake in a cafe here too. Carrot cake is not so common here, indeed there was some strong suspicion from some people at the idea of a cake with carrots in.

Also not common is salted sweet bakes. There was another cake on offer, chocolate with sea salt, and this caused even more suspicion than the carrot cake. It was not actually so salted and was nice. But chatting with people I found out that salted caramel was unheard of and declared 'weird' and salted chocolate was very uncommon but starting to appear.

If I am back again I will have to introduce them all to the joys of salted caramel!

One of the things I love about Hungary or the Czech Republic is the presence of Trdelnik, at least that is what it is called in Czech.

It is bread dough, that is allowed one rise. It is then rolled into a thin sausage and wrapped around a cast iron rod. This is then turned over heat to produce a spiral of bread, crispy on the outside but still with some softness on the inside.

They are flavoured by coating the outside of the bread in nuts, sugar, or my current favourite, cinnamon.

Bigger cities have them all year round but I have managed to track them down at the Christmas markets in Brno and will be having plenty more before I leave!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Coconut and raspberry cake

I had been looking forward to making this coconut and raspberry cake for a while so admit to having a minor meltdown when it started to go horribly wrong...

The cakes looked good, and the raw batter was insanely delicious. Once stone cold on went the jam, so far so good. Then I made the coconut butter cream, was my recipe wrong, was it the fact I used lactofree spread instead of butter or was it that my kitchen was too warm? Who knows but the second the cakes were sandwiched together the top one started to slip and slide, there was coconut buttercream everywhere. I shoved it in the fridge muttering about wanting to throw it out of the window.

I should note that I have made buttercream many a time and have sandwiched together many a cake, the buttercream did not seem too loose. maybe the weight of the top cake was just too much?

An hour or so later and the buttercream had firmed up, I ran a palette knife around the edge and the cake was not a complete disaster. It was only for me and Mark to eat anyway, I would not have given it to anyone in that state.

The cake does taste very good and I imagine it tastes even better with slightly more filling, I guess I lost at least a 1/3.

If you like the sound of this cake please do not be put of by my mishap. Just make sure your buttercream is very very firm indeed, refrigerate it before sandwiching cakes if need be.
Leaking buttercream!!

Coconut and raspberry cake

175g butter
175g caster sugar
175g self raising flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
3 eggs
50g desiccated coconut
30ml coconut cream

140g icing sugar
50g butter
20ml coconut cream
Raspberry jam

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C FAN. Grease 2x 20cm round cake tin and line the bases.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the flour and baking powder 1/3 at a time until just incorporated, do not over beat. Fold in the coconut and coconut cream.

Divide the batter between the prepared tins and smooth..

Bake for 25 minutes until golden. Loosen the edges and allow the cake to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack and allowing to cool completely.
Beat the butter, icing sugar and coconut cream together. Sandwich the cakes together with the jam and the buttercream.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Whole orange cake

This cake came about because I asked for one orange for a salad dressing. I got two because according to Mark they looked so pretty. So a spare orange was staring at me from the fruit bow. I remembered reading this recipe in a recipe book a colleague had and so decided to utilise the orange to make a cake. You essential boil the orange for an hour then purée it and add it to a simple cake batter.

The results are a lovely moist orange favoured cake. The recipe suggests drizzling with an icing made from orange juice and icing sugar but I did not do this. The cake is orangey enough without it, and besides, I would have needed another orange, and that's how I got into this in the first place!

Whole orange cake

1 small orange
140g caster sugar
3 eggs
85g self raising flour
100g ground almonds
50g butter melted

Put the orange in a pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour. Remove the orange and allow to cool. To cool quickly run under cold water for a few minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C FAN. Grease a deep 20cm round springform tin and line the base. 

Roughly chop the cooled orange, discarding any pips, and whizz in a food processor until smooth. 

Beat the sugar and eggs until light and fluffy. Gently fold in the flour and the almonds then fold in the orange purée. and melted butter until just mixed. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45 minutes until the cake is golden and springy. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

This is a simple cake perfect at any time, especially when you want cake but nothing too sweet or rich. It stays moist thanks to the almonds and is nice cold or warmed through in the oven.

I am going to enter this cake into this months alpha bakes, the letter for this month is 'O', so orange fits the bill perfectly.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Toffee apple cake

This cake is based on a delicious cake already on the blog, apple and almond cake, it is regularly requested by Mark. I adapted the recipe not because it is not already perfect but because I waned to utilise ingredients I had left over from the salted caramel and pecan cupcakes posted earlier.

Not that the cupcakes were not lovely but this was definitely a case where a recipe to use up leftovers was better than the original recipe the ingredients were called for.

Toffee Apple Cake

makes 1 cake

For the apples

3 dessert apples, I used gala
25g caramel (mine is from a tin on this occasion)

For the cake

150g butter
125g caster sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
75g self raising flour
75g ground pecans (simply whiz pecan in a food processor)
100g ish caramel
Grease a 20cm springform tin and line the base with baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 170C/150C FAN.

Core the apples and cut into 4, slice each quarter into 3 wedges. Put the caramel into a frying pan and warm gently. Add the apples and cook gently for about 5 minutes until starting to become lightly caramelised and tender. Put aside for a few minutes to cool. 
Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add one egg and beat again. Add the second egg and a tablespoon of the flour and beat until fully incorporated. Add the remaining flour and the ground pecans and fold in with a spatula. 

Place 2/3 cake batter into the prepared cake tin and level with a spatula, drizzle over a layer of caramel, and smooth into an even layer with a spatula, carefully dollop on the remaining cake batter and smooth with a spatula Arrange the apple on top, adding a final drizzle of caramel if you still have some to spare. 

Place in the preheated oven and bake for ~45 minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Leave to cool in the tin for at least 10 minutes before releasing and allowing to cool on a wire rack. 

This cake is best warm from the oven, with warm caramel throughout the cake and yummy amazing caramelised edges.

I am not suggesting of course that you eat the entire cake in one sitting. Instead keep the cake in an airtight tin and reheat slices in warm oven for 5 minutes before tucking in.  

Monday, 4 November 2013

Pecan and salted caramel cupcakes

Pecan nuts seem to be a very autumnal nut. They go with all the spicy, apple-y, toffee-y flavours around at this time of year and appear at bonfire night and thanksgiving in varying guises including pecan pie.

I had a cupcake craving so quickly made these with cupboard ingredients, I love the deep nutty flavour the nuts give the cake and love the contrasting crunch of the nuts on the top of the cake.

Pecan and salted caramel cupcakes

makes 12

125g butter
70g golden caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
55g salted caramel
2 eggs
75g self raising flour
50g pecan nuts ground to a flour like consistency in a food processor

50g butter
160g icing sugar
60g salted caramel

Extra caramel and pecans for the top

For my salted caramel I simply gently warmed up some of a tin of carnation caramel in a pan and added salt to taste. Now what to do with the leftovers...

Preheat the oven to 160C/140C FAN and line a cupcake tin with liners.

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together until light and creamy. Beat in the caramel and eggs until fully incorporated. Finally, with the mixer on slow,  beat in the flour and ground pecans until just incorporated.

Divide the mixture evenly between the cases and bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.

When the cakes are golden and springy remove from the oven and transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

When the cakes are completely cool they can be frosted. To make the frosting beat the butter and icing sugar together until very light and fluffy. Beat in the caramel till incorporated. 

Dollop the frosting onto the cooled cakes and swirl with a palette knife. Top with drizzles of caramel and chopped pecans.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Halloween biscuits

Life is slowly getting calmer and finally I have time to get back to baking.

First up are some halloween biscuits. I do not really do anything for halloween but perusing blogs and pinterest I have seen some fantastic creations that inspired me to bake a goulish creation for my workmates.

There were two issues, I had time but not a whole lot of it so nothing that would take hours of elaborate decorating. That lead to the second issue, I am not very artistic and have never worked with fondant in my life. Besides which I do not really like fondant icing. So something not too time consuming, halloween-y and tasty. Quite the challenge (for me at least!)

Rooting through the cupboards I realised I had all the ingredients for ginger biscuits, an excellent start, I love ginger biscuits. Further rooting found a gingerbread man cutter, a couple of gel food colourings, and icing sugar. All the components needed for spooky happenings I think.

I decided to make half zombies and half skeltons, this was for two reasons 1) I did not know which one I wanted to make more and 2) I did not know if I could do skeletons and figured if I was really bad they too could be turned into zombies

Gingerbread men

makes ~16 depending on cutter size

125g butter
100g golden syrup
50 grams light brown sugar
50g dark brown sugar
300g plain flour
tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 good tsps ground ginger
1/2 tsp of cinamon

Grease a couple of baking sheets and preheat the oven to 200C/180C FAN. Put the butter, syrup and sugars into a pan and warm gently until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. 

Mix the dry ingredients in large bowl then stir in the wet ingredients until all the ingredients are incorporated. 

Place a piece of baking parchment on a work top and dust with flour. Roll out the dough to 1/2cm thick and stamp out gingerbread men. Re-roll the trimmings to get more men.

For those gingerbread men doomed to be zombies pull off an arm or a leg. Yes pull. A knife leaves too clean an edge. 

Place the men on the prepared and baking sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes until golden. Transfer the gingerbread men on a wire rack and leave to cool completely.


For the skeletons I made up a simple icing using icing sugar and water. I made it very thick but smooth. I put it into a freezer bag then snipped of the tiniest corner. I then piped my bones onto the skeletons. The scariest thing about these skeletons is their bone anatomy! There are lots of pictures online from very simple to very complex, I plumped somewhere in the middle.


I used red gel food colouring and dabbed around the missing limb, dark at the edge, smudging to a lighter stain as I moved further away.

Similar to the white icing for the skeletons I made a red icing and did various eyes and mouths on the zombies. Either crosses for eyes, or angry diagonal slits. Mouths were zig zag teeth or open holes. I added a few scars to each zombie in icing too. Finally I took my green food colouring and  made my zombies look more rotting and dead by dabbing and smudging it around limbs and edges of the zombies.

Warning these are very crunchy biscuits, if you like your biscuits softer these are perhaps not for you.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Chocolate and hazelnut cake

I miss baking! In my last post I mentioned that I had been away with work. When I got back the oven was (temporalily) broken and then I went away on holiday. Holiday was very nice but I do miss the act/smell taste of some baked goods. I am away this weekend too (brownie camp) so I doubt October will be very fruititous in the baking department.

Still I did find time when I was away to make this, quite frankly, delicious cake. It was devoured fast enough by my fiances family and myself.

This cake is a cross between a maryland cookie, ferrero rocher and a cake. If that has not convinced you to give it a try nothing ever will.

A vanilla and hint of coffee sponge, packed with hazelnuts and dark chocolate, topped with a chocolate glaze and more hazelnuts. Yum.

Chocolate and hazelnut cake (recipe adapted slightly from Nigel Slater)

makes one deep cake

250g butter (I used lactose free spread)
100g demerara sugar
100g dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
4 eggs
2 tablespoons of coffee, made and set aside to cool slightly
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
200g chopped hazelnuts
250g of dark chocolate, chopped

30g butter
1/2 tablespoon golden syrup
tablespoon of double cream

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C FAN. Grease a 23cm spring-form tin, line the base with baking parchment and flour the sides.

Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla together until light and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the coffee. Fold in the flour, baking powder and salt until almost combined. Finally fold in the hazelnuts and chocolate, reserving 30g of each, until no streaks of flour are visible and the chunks of nut and chocolate are evenly distributed. 

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and level the top, bake for 70-80 minutes until golden and cooked through. Mine took 75 minutes, after 1 hour I covered the top with foil. 

Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Leave the cake to completely cool. 

To make the topping put the butter, golden syrup, cream and reserved chocolate in a pan, heat gently, stirring occasionally  until the chocolate has melted and all the ingredients are combined. Remove from the heat and set aside for 15 minutes to thicken up slightly.

Spread over the cooled cake and sprinkle with the reserved hazelnuts. 

I should say that I had no electric whisk just a wooden spoon and elbow grease and it turned out lovely.
I would say this is a special enough cake for any occasion, but it matters not if this occasion is simple because it is a Tuesday.

This cake contains chocolate and as 'C' is the letter for this months alpha bakes I am going to enter this cake, I suspect Ros is going to get a lot of entries with chocolate in this month...