I don’t know why but I can’t stop thinking about chocolate today, must be feeling the need to indulge I guess. Anyway, I decided to take a look back at some of the chocolate features I have done in the past and came across this rather romantic shoot with a kinda glam/vintage/gold look – a bit kitsch I suppose. Well to be honest, the food is the hero and I know they all tasted fantastic.
Whether you call them churros (Spain) doughnuts (UK) or beignets (France) this deep fried pastries are 100% delicious especially when drizzled with a rich chocolate sauce.
Cinnamon spiced churros with chocolate Grand Marnier sauce
250 ml water
120 g butter
180 g plain flour, twice sifted
3 medium eggs (size 3)
75 g caster sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
chocolate Grand Marnier sauce
125 g dark chocolate
100 ml single cream
2 tbsp Grand Marnier
vegetable oil for frying
Heat the water and butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until the butter melts. Tip in the flour and salt and beat well with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes away from the pan edges (this will be almost immediate). Leave to cool for 5 minutes.
Using an electric whisk beat the eggs into the dough one at a time until smooth and slightly glossy. Spoon the dough into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm star nozzle.
Heat vegetable oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan to a depth of 7 cm until it reaches 170c/330f on a sugar thermometer (or until a small amount of the dough sizzles as soon as it is dropped into the oil). Carefully pipe approximately 15 cm lengths of the dough straight into the hot oil, using a knife to cut the dough off at the nozzle. Fry 3 at a time for 3 minutes until crisp and golden, turning half way through using metal tongs. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towel. Keep warm in a moderate oven while cooking the rest.
Combine the sugar and cinnamon on a plate and roll the churros in the mixture until coated.
Meanwhile, heat the chocolate and cream together in a small saucepan over a low heat, stirring, until the chocolate melts. Remove from the heat Grand Marnier. Arrange the churros on a platter and serve with the chocolate sauce for dipping.
Chocolate pecan tartlets
200 g plain flour, sifted
1/2 tsp salt
100 g chilled butter, diced
50 g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
2-3 tbsp iced water
100 g dark chocolate
20 g butter
80 g light soft brown sugar
2 medium eggs
100 ml golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla essence
200 g pecan halves
icing sugar, to dust
vanilla ice cream, to serve
Heat the oven to 200c/400f/gas mark 6. Make the pastry. Sift the flour into a bowl and stir in the salt. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs and stir in the sugar. Make a well in the middle and work in the egg yolks and enough water to just bring the dough together.
Gently work the dough into a ball, flatten to a disc and wrap in cling film. Chill the dough for 30 minutes. Divide the dough equally into 6 and roll each one out to an 18 cm disc. Press into 6 x 12 cm tartlet tins.
Prick the bases with a fork and chill for a further 20 minutes.
Line the pastry cases with baking paper and baking beans and bake blind for 12 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes or until pastry is crisp and lightly golden. Leave to go cold. Reduce oven temperature to 170c/325f/gas mark 3.
Melt the chocolate and butter together in a small saucepan, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar. Whisk the eggs, golden syrup and vanilla essence together until smooth and then stir in the chocolate mixture.
Place the pastry cases on a baking tray and divide the nuts between each one. Carefully pour in the filling. Bake the tartlets for 20 minutes or until just firm in the centre, remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 30 minutes. Dust with icing sugar and serve with ice cream.
Triple layer chocolate and Tia Maria mousse
60 g dark chocolate
2 medium eggs, separated
55 g caster sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
4 gelatine leaves (200 bloom)
50 ml Tia Maria
300 g dark chocolate
3 medium egg, separated
250 ml double cream
150 g dark chocolate
60 g unsalted butter
90 thickened cream
1 tbsp liquid glucose
Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas mark 4 and oil and line the base of a 22 cm cake tin baking paper. Make the cake base. Melt the chocolate in a bowl set of a pan of just simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water) and stir until melted. Cool for 5 minutes. Whisk the egg whites and sugar together for 3 minutes until thick and glossy and then stir in the egg yolks, cocoa powder and finally the melted chocolate until evenly combined. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Oil and line the base and sides of a deep 20 cm loose bottom cake tin. Press the cooled cake into the base of the tin so it fits as snuggly as possible. Set aside.
Make the mousse. Place the gelatine leaves in a bowl and cover with cold water, leave to soak for 5 minutes until the leaves soften. Squeeze the water from the gelatine and place in a small saucepan with the Tia Maria. Heat very gently, stirring until the gelatine is completely dissolved.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of just simmering water (do not let the base of the bowl touch the water) stirring until smooth. Let cool for 5 minutes, then beat in the egg yolks and cream and stir in the gelatine mixture. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff and carefully fold through the chocolate mixture until evenly combined. Pour over the cake base and chill for 4 hours or until firm.
Make the glaze. Place the chocolate, butter, cream and liquid glucose in a small saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until smooth. Cool for 5 minutes and then very carefully pour over the top of the set mousse. Chill for a further 1 hour until set.
Carefully remove the mousse cake from the tin and peel away the paper. Decorate the top with your preferred decorations. To serve use a knife dipped into hot water to help cut smoothly through the three layers.
Divine chocolate cups with salted cocoa nib caramel shards
Cocoa nib are lightly crushed cocoa beans. They are readily available from larger supermarkets, health food stores or online.
250 ml double cream
1/2 vanilla pod
125 g dark chocolate
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp caster sugar
salted cocoa nib caramel shards
125 g caster sugar
3 tbsp water
2 tbsp cocoa nibs
1 tsp sea salt
Preheat the oven to 140c/275f/gas mark 1 and place 6 x 100 ml cups or ramekin dishes in a baking tin. Place 175 ml of cream in a small saucepan and scrape in the seeds from the vanilla pod. Heat gently until the cream just starts to simmer, but do not allow the mixture to boil. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 20 minutes.
Melt the remaining cream and chocolate together in a bowl set over a pan of just simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water) stirring until smooth. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together and stir in the chocolate cream and vanilla cream until combined.
Divide the mixture between the cups and pour in enough boiling water to come half way up the sides. Transfer to the oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes until they are just firm in the middle. Cool and then refrigerate over night.
Make the caramel about 30 minutes before serving. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat very gently without stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook for about 5 minutes until the liquid turns a golden caramel colour.
Meanwhile, place a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray and have the cocoa nibs and sea salt to hand. As soon as the caramel is ready pour onto the prepared paper and allow it to form a thin pool. Immediately scatter over the coco nibs and sea salt and set aside to cool and set. Break the toffee into shards and serve a few shards on top of each chocolate cup.
Molten chocolate and dulce de leche puddings
100 g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
100g dark chocolate
2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla essence
125 g caster sugar
100 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
4 tsp salted caramel sauce
cocoa powder, to dust
double cream, to serve
Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas mark 4. Line the bases and brush the insides of 4 x 150 ml metal dariole molds with melted butter and chill for 10 minutes. Arrange the molds on a baking tin.
Meanwhile, melt the butter and chocolate together in a saucepan, stirring until melted. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes.
Beat the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla essence and sugar in a bowl, using an electric whisk, for 3-4 minutes until thick and fluffy. Sift over the flour and carefully fold in along with the chocolate mixture until smooth.
Spoon half the mix into the prepared molds, add 1 teaspoon of salted caramel sauce to the middle of each one and cover with the remaining chocolate mixture to about 5 mm from the top. Bake for 15 minutes until the tops are set and slightly cracked. Remove from the oven but let cool in the tins for 5 minutes.
Invert the puddings onto serving plates tapping the bases lightly if necessary. Remove the paper from the bases. Dust with cocoa powder and serve immediately with cream.