Tag Archives: chocolate

Easter Eggsess – Again!

Sorry, not had much time to post lately. Bloody working for a living and all that. So until normal service resumes here’s a repeat from last Easter which went down very well at the time – both online and on the plate!

A rich chocolate and bourbon tart, topped with mini Easter eggs

Apologies for the James Martin style egg puns but this is an ideal recipe if you find yourself with too much Easter chocolate on your hands, especially if that includes 350g of dark chocolate and a packet of Cadbury’s mini eggs. I can take no credit for the recipe which belongs to Dan Lepard of the Guardian – only the  decorative tweaks and techniques are my own.

Dan’s recipe produces a very easy to work crust [although I used an extra egg yolk and a splash more water] which can be rolled to less than the thickness of a £1 coin. The key thing is the freeze chilling. I also doubled the quantity of bourbon in the filling [hic!].

To make a well in the centre which can be filled with mini eggs or whatever you fancy [raspberries would be good when in season] pour half the filling into the baked pastry base and chill to set. Meanwhile keep the rest of the filling liquid over a barely simmering bain marie [see the temperature guides in the original recipe]. When the first half has set [after about 10 to 15 minutes] place a glass or jar in the middle and pour the rest of the filling around. The first time I did this I used a metal moulding ring which was a mistake – a glass or jar gives you more purchase when you come to gently twist and remove it which you should do once everything is completely set and after the tart has been out of the fridge for a few minutes.

If using fruit pile it high and allow it to spill over the edges of the centre well. This is less easy however with chocolate eggs. And if you haven’t spent enough time recently in your local cardiac unit you could serve this with cream, but it is easily rich enough without.

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Lime and Chocolate Cheesecake

Once upon a time, probably around 18 years ago, I remember picking up a recipe card in a supermarket after seeing the recipe advertised on TV. This was a cutting edge piece of marketing in the early nineties, before we all had inter-lives and tweet-nests and books full of faces through which companies could court our affections. Not sure if this marks me out as an early adopter or a sheep, but it worked.

What now looks like an essentially simple dish felt like quite a complex ‘occasion’ piece at the time, but that’s probably due to my relative culinary inexperience, the use of the then uncommon ‘Mascarpone’ [daring!], and the flim-flamerous decoration required by the original recipe. The smiley people in the TV advert easily made chocolate leaves and sugared their grapes for the topping, but it was always a bit more of a palaver in my kitchen.

Nonetheless I persevered with, and indeed added to, the chocolate leaf display business for quite some time. And there was always some chocolate left over, which I decided to add to the cheese and lime mixture, and so this version was born. I’ve since decided it’s easier to simply drizzle some molten chocolate over the top than to put myself through the whole leaf making anxiety, but by all means go there if the fancy takes you.

For a lighter, fresher version don’t add chocolate to the cheese mix, just grate a little solid chocolate over the top of the finished dish. But do add chocolate – the beauty here lies in the marriage of the freshness of lime with the richness of deeply dark chocolate.

This recently fed six of us, but could easily have stretched to eight, or even more…

  • 100g lemon shortbread biscuits
  • 100g dark chocolate digestive biscuits
  • 80g butter, melted
  • 500g Mascarpone
  • 2 limes, zest and juice
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 75g good dark chocolate [at least 70% cocoa solids]

Whizz the biscuits to a fine crumb in a food processor and combine with melted butter. Mix well, and press evenly into the bottom of a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin. Cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge until set.

Melt the chocolate in a bain marie then allow it to cool a little whilst ensuring it remains mobile. If the chocolate is too hot when added to the cheese mixture the whole thing may become a little granular.

Zest the limes, and add their juice and the sugar. Stir well to dissolve the sugar, and then fold in the Mascarpone. Pour in two-thirds of the melted chocolate and gently, but thoroughly, combine. Spread this mixture evenly over the chilled biscuit base and smooth the top surface with a spatula or, if necessary, the back of a warmed spoon [dip into hot water and dry before using].

Place the tin on a large sheet of newspaper and drizzle over the remaining chocolate in a pattern of your choosing. Cover and chill well until twenty minutes before needed, then gently release from the tin and transfer to a suitably pretty plate.

And if your guests don’t ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ at the table – invite different people to your next party.

Easter Eggsess

A rich chocolate and bourbon tart, topped with mini Easter eggs

Apologies for the James Martin style egg puns but this is an ideal recipe if you find yourself with too much Easter chocolate on your hands, especially if that includes 350g of dark chocolate and a packet of Cadbury’s mini eggs. I can take no credit for the recipe which belongs to Dan Lepard of the Guardian – only the  decorative tweaks and techniques are my own.

Dan’s recipe produces a very easy to work crust [although I used an extra egg yolk and a splash more water] which can be rolled to less than the thickness of a £1 coin. The key thing is the freeze chilling. I also doubled the quantity of bourbon in the filling [hic!].

To make a well in the centre which can be filled with mini eggs or whatever you fancy [raspberries would be good when in season] pour half the filling into the baked pastry base and chill to set. Meanwhile keep the rest of the filling liquid over a barely simmering bain marie [see the temperature guides in the original recipe]. When the first half has set [after about 10 to 15 minutes] place a glass or jar in the middle and pour the rest of the filling around. The first time I did this I used a metal moulding ring which was a mistake – a glass or jar gives you more purchase when you come to gently twist and remove it which you should do once everything is completely set and after the tart has been out of the fridge for a few minutes.

If using fruit pile it high and allow it to spill over the edges of the centre well. This is less easy however with chocolate eggs. And if you haven’t spent enough time recently in your local cardiac unit you could serve this with cream, but it is easily rich enough without.

The ‘What, No Cheese?’ Lemon Cheesecake

Lemon

‘Heresy!’ I hear you cry ‘I thought this man was supposed to be a cheesemonger?’. You’re right of course, and I will throw myself upon the mercy of the cheesemongers’ inquisitorial council in due course. But whilst I’m in full possession of my fingernails I should probably dash off the following. Use it wisely, for it may cost me dear.

It’s actually not a cheesecake at all but a lemon posset, set on a biscuit and butter base – something I’ve been dying to try for a while. My first attempt was a spectacular failure due to insufficient setting time – it’s a good job I was standing by the sink when I released it from the loose-bottomed tin – and our guests that night were treated instead to an emergency cheeseboard [inquisitors, please note!]. So be prepared, I would recommend that you give yourself a good twenty four hours for this, which of course means that the hard work is done in advance leaving you more time on the day for whatever else you need to do. And whilst this is not complex – there are only six ingredients – it is fiddly in parts, so do come to it in a patient frame of mind.

I ate my first lemon posset several years ago at The Glasshouse in Kew and it’s probably the closest I’ve ever come to love at first bite. The lovely people there were happy to give me the recipe not only that night but again when I rang them a couple of weeks ago having lost the notebook containing the original. It’s such a simple thing that at first I thought they must be trying to hoodwink me and had left out some magical ingredient or process, but posset really is just cream, lemon and sugar, and a little bit of alchemy.

This would feed six, but if there are just four of you divide it into eight – and watch everyone come back for seconds…

  • 600ml double cream
  • 2 lemons, zest and juice
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 200g biscuits of your choice, try half digestives and half lemon shortbread
  • 90g butter, melted
  • 20g dark chocolate

Whizz the biscuits to a fine crumb in a food processor and combine with melted butter. Grate in the chocolate, mix well,  and press the mix evenly into the bottom of a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin. Cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge to set for a good four hours – you want this to be completely chilled and set firm.

Making the posset couldn’t be easier. Pour the cream into a saucepan, add the sugar, zest, and lemon juice and bring to the boil whilst stirring gently with a balloon whisk. Simmer for two minutes and continue to stir, then pass through a fine sieve. And that’s it! You can see why I thought there must be something missing from the recipe. If serving this on its own at this stage I’d pour into individual ramekins and chill to set for at least six hours.

Lemon posset in ramekins

However, we now have a dilemma, hence the fiddly bit. You have a cold set base, and a hot posset which sets as it cools. Pour the posset straight onto the base and the butter will melt, and the base disintegrate. Leave the posset to cool on its own and it will be too set to pour by the time it’s cool enough not to melt the base. What are we to do? Well this seems to work…

Half fill the kitchen sink with cold water. When the posset has had its two minutes of simmering pass it through a sieve and into a stainless steel bowl. Sit the bowl in the cold water, and stir the posset around the bowl with a whisk, bringing in from the edges any which is starting to set. Do not stir so vigorously as to actually whisk the mixture. The stirring stops the posset from setting whilst the metal bowl rapidly conducts heat away. After a minute or two the posset should feel just comfortably warm to an inserted finger, and can now be poured onto the chilled base. Smooth any slight surface bubbles with a spatula or your finger and return the tin to the fridge without delay. Leave this to set at least overnight. When ready to serve release the bottom from the tin [standing close to the sink if you’re worried!], carefully slide a palette knife or cake slice between it and the ‘cheesecake’ base, and transfer to a plate.

I’m sure I’ll be forgiven for the absence of cheese in this ‘cheesecake’ when you taste this. Let’s just hope the inquisition agree!