Category Archives: Chocolate

round and round


It is, I can confirm, possible to eat too many antipasti. The trip to Saturnia was a welcome break full of sources and other courses, but otherwise, while I work – slowly – on the first part of the book, we have been mostly eating antipasti. These last couple of weeks have been filled with round ways to start a meal: olives marinated with citrus, sweet and sour onions, rounds of ciauscolo, fried slices of courgette scented with mint and two experiments involving batter and balls that ended in disappointment and disproportionate mess. Round and round. Then on wednesday a quiet rebellion took place. No more antipasti was the principle message, followed by calls for pasta, pasta and more pasta.

So on thursday morning, I set the first part aside – for now at least – and started work on the second. A second part all about Roman minestre, pasta, rice and dumplings. Well sort of started, for procrastinations sake and a practice run for a supper next week, I poached some pears in sweet wine first.


On this occasion the pears were the small, straw-yellow, occasionally blushing coscia; their vinous and compact flesh poaching well, particularly in sweet wine. I used the dubious bottle of dessert wine that has been loitering like a ticket tout along with the 100 % chocolate and unmarked mustard at the bottom of the fridge. The dubious dessert wine that turned out to be anything but dubious. ‘It’s a Moscato D’asti’ said the person loitering in the kitchen hoping to wrangle lunch. ‘But a good one. Too good for poaching don’t you think?’  I continued prodding my pears.

A good moscato makes for good poached pears, sweetening the flesh just enough (which is important as pears poached in scantily sweetened liquid taste a bit like boiled turnips) and then reducing into a sweet without cloying, suitably clinging syrup.


Generally I like poached pears just so: naked in a pool of syrup. It turns out I also like them with a spoonful of ricotta di pecora whipped into a smoothish cream with a dash of milk and some warm, espresso-spiked, dark-chocolate sauce. I don’t suppose I need to tell you what a good-looking and tasteful couple pear and chocolate are. Be cautious with the sauce though, too much and stops heightening the pears sweetness and swamps it. The spoonful of soft, lactic ricotta is a perfect foil for the dark sauce and poached fruit, it also steals some of the attention from the good-looking couple, making sure they don’t get smug.

Obviously poached pears are brilliant with hard cheese too: slice a poached pear and serve it as quivering partner for sharp, salty pecorino. Procrastination and practice complete, I can now move on to part two.


Pears poached in sweet wine (with ricotta and chocolate sauce)

Moscato D’Asti is sweet, but not that sweet. I didn’t add extra sugar though, as the pears were especially dolce and the Moscato reduced down into an almost honeyed syrup. However different pears might have needed extra sugar. I suggest tasting, both the syrup and the pears and then keep a beady eye on the reducing syrup.

  • 10 – 14 small, firm pears
  • a lemon
  • a bottle of Moscato D’Asti or other sweet dessert wine
  • sugar (optional)
  • ricotta
  • 100 g dark chocolate, a little heavy cream, a dash of espresso and a little sugar

Using a sharp knife pare away the skin from the pears (leaving the stalk intact) and cut a half a cm from the curved bottom of the pear so it sits upright. As you work rub the pear with the cut side of a lemon to stop it discolouring.

Stand the pears in a heavy-based pan. Ideally you should have enough pears to fill the pan neatly and snugly (but not so they are squashed). Cover the pears with enough wine to reach the base of the stalk.

Bring the wine to a gentle boil then reduce the heat so the wine bubbles gently and the pears bob slightly for about 25 minutes (depending on the ripeness pears) or until they are easily pierced by a fork.

Remove the pears from the pan with a slotted spoon and then raise the heat and boil the remaining liquid energetically until it has reduced by roughly half into a syrup that clings lightly (but not viciously) to the back of a spoon. Put the pears back in the liquid, encouraging them to loll over and roll them in the syrup as best as possible. Leave to cool for a few hours.

Move the pears into a serving plate and pour over the syrup. Serve just so, spooning over some of the syrup. Alternatively you can cut the pears into a fan and serve them with a spoonful of ricotta and some simple chocolate sauce made by melting dark chocolate with a little espresso and a tablespoon of fine sugar and once it is smooth and silky stirring-in a little heavy cream.



Filed under Chocolate, food, fruit, pears, Puddings, rachel eats Rome, recipes, White Wine

A ring and a pot

1. (noun) ciambella [tʃam’bɛl:a]

dolce a forma circolare con buco al centro

This can’t go on for much longer. I mean it’s fine once in a while, once a week even, but not every single morning. I really must take myself in hand and return to a more fibrous start, ideally a worthy cereal with superberries, fruit and yogurt with seeds, pebbles and oily fish, brown toast at the very least.

I’m thoroughly enjoying it while it lasts though, my two, sometimes three stumpy slices of cake, ciambella that is, and small bucket of milky coffee for breakfast. This cakey state of affairs has been going on for just over three weeks now, ever since my friend Ruth (who along with her Calabrian husband Ezio is one of my cooking/olive oil pressing/tomato preserving/ jam making/chicken and child rearing/wood chopping heroes) shared her recipe with me and I discovered the joys of ciambella or pot cake. Now you may be either disappointed or relieved to know I’m not about to share a recipe for a pot cake in the puff the magic dragon sense with you, the pot refers to a yogurt pot, a 125g pot of whole plain yogurt to be precise.

The pot of yogurt serves two purposes, The first, unsurprisingly, is the yogurt itself which is the first ingredient. The second is the empty pot which provides a nifty measure with which to scoop up the rest of the ingredients. Having tipped the yogurt into a large bowl, you add two pots of flour, one of ground almonds, another of sugar, 3/4 of a pot of extra virgin olive oil and two teaspoons of baking powder. To this you add three eggs and whatever embellishment takes your fancy – I will come to these a bit later. You give the mixture a very energetic stir or whizz with the immersion blender and then tip the thick batter into a well buttered and floured ring tin. You bake your ciambella at 180° for about 30 minutes. I estimate preparation time to be about 4 minutes and dirty dish and implement count 4 if you include the yogurt pot.

As much as I like minimal washing up and even though I’m the first to be extremely slap happy with measurements, I was rather skeptical when Ruth told me about this recipe!  I’ve always been suspicious of cups (pots) and sticks when it comes to baking, they just seem too vague and wildly imprecise, especially in my hands. Also I have such a nice reliable scale. This ciambella however has dented those fears, I’ve made it – to my slight embarrassment – 8 times in the last few weeks and it has turned out brilliantly each time.

This ciambella is rather like a simple pound, Madeira or what some people call everyday cake. It’s pleasingly unfussy, firm yet light and thanks to the yogurt and almonds, really moist. The olive oil gives the ciambella a distinct brightness and a subtle fruity flavor, it also seems to help it keep better. Now I should add my ciambelle have been slightly different every time, even when I’ve stuck to the most basic recipe with no variations! But they’ve been unfailingly good and these differences, these ciambella idiosyncrasies, seem appropriate for something made this pleasingly hung-ho way.

Making this ciambella reminds me of when, at 8 years old, I learned how to make Corn flake crispies (melt arbitrary quantities of butter, golden syrup, sugar and cocoa powder in pan, mix with corn flakes, divide mixture between cake cases, chill, consume entire batch with best friend at bottom of garden and then feel very peculiar). They were one of the first things I was allowed to make all on my own and consequently – giddy with kitchen freedom and the promise of a large quantity of refined sugar – I made corn flake crispies at every available opportunity. The discovery of this recipe has had a similar effect, dizzy with the prospect of cake, minimal mess and virtually no washing up, I keep disappearing into the kitchen and making another one. A spare 4 minutes? Infant sleeping? Ad break during a film! Unexpected guests! Low blood sugar! A sniff of yogurt and I’m off.

So the variations. My favorite addition (the very first picture in this post) is lemon. You add both the zest and some juice of an unwaxed fruit to the basic olive oil and almond spiked recipe.  If I was feeling fancy could call this version of my pot cake ‘Olive oil, lemon and almond ring’ or if I was feeling Latin ‘Ciambella con olio d’oliva, mandorle e limone’. I’m feeling neither fancy nor Latin so lets stick with Lemon ciambella. Second prize goes to ciambella studded with the Piedmontese special, a heavenly couple, the one that fills a zillion pots of Nutella: hazelnut and dark chocolate. Bronze medal, surprisingly, goes to ciambella with grated apple, sultanas and nutmeg: a spicy, fruity little number that feels very seasonal indeed. Consolation prize must go to ciambella with banana, not my kind of thing at all, but beautifully moist it must be said and loved by everyone else.
For my most recent 4 minute baking session I made a ciambella with Demerara sugar, almonds that had been ground with their skins and a handful of chopped dark chocolate. I did wonder if it might be a little rich for someone whose always banging on about liking savory breakfasts. It wasn’t.
Hopefully the above has been so inspiring and the description so straightforward and clear you already know the recipe. If not (which means I have failed Ruth, the cake and as a blogger) here it is.
  • 125g pot of whole-milk plain yoghurt
  • 2 pots of plain flour (ideally italian 00)
  • 1 pot ground almonds
  • 1 very generous pot sugar (I prefer coarse brown sugar)
  • 3/4 pot extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 75g coarsely chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips/zest of a whole unwaxed lemon or orange plus 50ml juice/ a mashed banana/a grated apple, handful of sultanas and grating of nutmeg/ 50g coarsely chopped hazelnuts and 50g chopped chocolate.

Set the oven to 180°/ 350F and butter and flour a 26cm ring tin

Tip the yogurt into a large bowl.

Using the yogurt pot as a scoop, add 2 pots of flour, 1 pot of ground almonds, 1 pot of brown sugar and 3/4  pot of olive oil and the baking powder to the bowl and stir.

Break three eggs into the bowl and stir the ingredients very energetically until you have a smooth batter.

Add the additions and stir again.

Pour the batter into the ring tin and bake in the middle of the oven  for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool for 20 minutes or so before turning out onto a cake rack.


Filed under almonds, cakes and baking, Chocolate, food, Rachel's Diary, recipes

A chocolate tart

Pies have a top and tarts have a bottom.’

Harold Goodyer to my grandpa, but overheard by my Mum in about 1956.

I have to confess that when I was about 10 years old tarts became infinitely more interesting and even more delicious, when I, like my Mum, began to understand the other meaning of the word tart! An inadvertant lesson from my aunty May.

May, my granny’s sister, had a very orange rinse, a big and generous heart and a sharp often wicked tongue. She always worked hard but liked nothing more than putting her feet up with a nice strong cup of tea, maybe a custard tart and having a good gossip and gasp about this and that, a tut and ‘have you heard?‘ Mostly it was talk of births, illness – lots about illness – and death, but occasionally there was news of ‘them,‘ people who ‘aired their dirty laundry in public or ‘That blousey tart who lives at No 16 Turner street.‘ My granny used to blush and giggle with encouragement at such conversations before remembering herself and whispering disapprovingly ‘Our May really! Not in front of the children.

I would concentrate on biting the crimped edges off my individual custard tart, stare at my tea or busy myself with something or other and pretend my ears weren’t flapping madly. Which of course they were, ‘dirty washing, Blousey tart, blousey tart’ I turned the words over in my head, negotiating them, putting two and two together, a delicate, frilly edged custard tart and the tart at No 16. I may not have understood the full implications of it all, but I got the drift. I even fancied that I knew who they were talking about. My ears burned, my mind raced.

I also knew it was all terrible gossip, that custard tarts would never be the same again and that – rather naively – I’d rather be called a tart than a pie. Maybe it wasn’t so naive after all, I’d still rather be called a tart than a pie, or a crumble for that matter, who wants to be called a crumble?

So tarts,

I am extremely fond of them; a slice of my Granny’s quivering egg custard tart dusted with nutmeg; a wedge of treacle tart, which is not treacle at all but Lyles golden syrup spiked with lemon and thickened with breadcrumbs; a piece of the apricot tart my mum used to make for ‘Dinner parties’!, the one with apricot halves nestled in a pale custard; an individual Bakewell tart, Bakewell pudding really, from the bakery in Bakewell; a thin, rumpled, glazed slice of fanned apple tart; a bright yellow triangle of lemon tart; an individual jam tart made from the scraps of pastry; quince Crostata from the bakery in Trastevere; a simple, elegant, dark chocolate tart.

For all my talk and gossip of tarts, I have only started making them recently, since the beginning of January actually, when I finally overcame my phobia of making (not eating I should hasten to add) sweet pastry. Since then, being mildly obsessive and convinced making double quantities of pastry is easier, I have been making a tart a week. Lemon ones to start, then two ricotta ones which were good but need practice and then for the last three weeks, three chocolate tarts.

The first chocolate tart I made was Simon Hopkinson’ recipe from ‘Roast chicken and other stories’ the book I might choose to ‘cook my way through from start to finish in the julie and julia sense‘ if I was so inclined, which I’m not. It is a lovely recipe, a sweet – but not overly so – pastry case filled with a wonderfully rich and intense dark chocolate, butter, egg and sugar filling. I liked it very much, we all did, but I’d imagined something a bit more velvety, a filling rather like another Simon Hopkinson recipe, quite possibly the richest and most delicious little pot of chocolate cream you will ever eat, his dark elixir of heavy cream, dark chocolate, sugar and eggs, his Petit pot au chocolat.

I kept looking at the two recipes which are just a page apart, back and forth, back and forth, thinking if only and what a shame. This continued for about a week – rather like our now deceased cat Oswald when he sat staring blankly at the cat flap waiting for someone to open the door- until it finally dawned on me that I could try using recipe for the petit pot au chocolat as a filling for the pastry case of his chocolate tart.

It works beautifully.

You make your pastry case and bake it blind until it is pale biscuit-coloured and cooked through – Simon Hopkinson doesn’t suggest using any baking weights or greaseproof paper topped with butter beans so I didn’t and it worked perfectly, three times!. Next you make your filling, the petit pot recipe; you warm the milk and cream (or mascarpone if – like me – you can’t find good heavy cream) gently and then add the chopped chocolate and sugar and stir until you have a thick, glorious shiny, dark, gloop not unlike the chocolate river in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the one Augustus Gloop falls into. You let the mixture cool a little before stirring in a beaten egg

You pour the dark cream into the tart case and bake it for about 15 – 20 mins minutes until the filling has set but with a slight wobble at the center. Then you let the tart sit for at least a couple of hours when it will settle and firms up into a delicious velvety fudge.

A dark, rich, delicious tart which invites gossip.

If you do keep the tart in the fridge bring it out an hour or so before you want to eat it.

Notes;, Do roll the pastry thinly, which I know can be a fuss if your pastry decides to misbehave, it makes all the difference when you have a thin, delicate, golden crust. The tart will puff up in the oven, do not be alarmed, it is ok and the tart with sink back down when it cools. Very last thing, I think (finally) having a good, basic, loose bottomed tart tin is great.

Chocolate tart

Adapted from Simon Hopkinson’s recipes for Chocolate tart and petit pot au chocolat inRoast chicken and other stories

8 generous slices or 12 modest ones,

For the pastry

  • 130g butter (at room temperature)
  • 65g icing sugar
  • 1 medium-sized egg
  • 225g plain flour

For the filling

  • 250g mascarpone cheese or heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp whole milk
  • 200g dark, high quality, cocoa butter rich bitter chocolate. chopped.
  • 40g caster sugar
  • I medium-sized egg

To make the pastry; put the butter, icing sugar and egg in a bowl (or food processor) and work together quickly. Blend in the flour and work together into a homogenous paste. Wrap the dough in cling film or a tea towel and chill for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180°/350F

Roll out the pastry on a well floured board as thinly as you can and then carefully lift and tuck it into an 8″ tart tin (ideally with a loose base), the pastry will be delicate, don’t panic if you need to press and patch it a bit. Bake the tart case blind for about 20 minutes, until it is cooked through and a pale golden biscuit colour.

To make the filling;  In a small pan, warm the mascarpone/cream and the milk gently over a gentle flame and then add the chopped chocolate and sugar and stir until the chocolate has melted and the sugar dissolved and you have a dark thick, silky mixture.

Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool a little before adding and carefully incorporating the beaten egg. Pour the mixture into the tart case.

Carefully slide the filled tart back into the oven for 15 minutes or until the tart has set but still had slight wobble in the center.

Allow the tart to sit for a couple of hours before serving.


Filed under Chocolate, pies and tarts, Puddings, recipes

Chestnut diary


If my chestnut adventures were going according to plan, following Mondays Chestnut and mushroom pate and the chestnut soup, I should be sitting here writing about a chestnutesque main course.

Plans, schmans, I’ve never been very good at sticking to them. I’ve leapt straight to the cake.

Chocolate and chestnut cake

I do intend to leap back again and make the four chestnut recipes I’ve leapfrogged and I’m sorry I’ve messed up the logical order of it all, but I’m not sorry I cut to the cake.

Cake? It’s really a very soft, moist, heavy-mousse like gateau made of dark chocolate, butter, eggs, and milk that’s lent a whiff of cakeness by the floury, nutty texture of the 250g of roasted, peeled chestnuts which act like flour. It’s very like the Trish Deseine/Orangette gâteau au chocolat fondent di nathalie with chestnuts. It’s dense and rich and rather like eating a good dark chocolate truffle alongside a spoonful of sweet chestnut purèe (if you haven’t had a spoonful of this I highly recommend it.)

It’s a chocolate and chestnut swoon. I know, I know, that sounds really really naff, very Mills and Boon. Swoon is what the heroine Portia probably does in the historical romance ‘Tall dark and disreputable’ by Deb Marlowe on learning her brooding lover Matteo has gambled away the family fortune and slept with the maid. This is the other swoon, the ‘To be overwhelmed by joy‘ swoon, and it happened when I (we) took the first, second and seventh mouthful of this cake. After swooning – ok, it was a tiny swoon – we both stared at each other, wide-eyed and then Vincenzo blasphemed heavily in Italian as a compliment, I agreed and promptly cut myself another large slice and discovered you can have too much of a good thing.

Apart from being delicious, this cake is the most beautiful way to understand and observe how chestnuts work in flour-like-way (chestnuts are of course often dried and ground into heavy, slightly sweet flour.) Having made this cake I’m even more curious about experimenting with chestnuts and chestnut flour. This recipe also gives you a glimpse into the glorious potential that is chestnut purèe, because one of the stages is slowly and gently heating the roasted and peeled chestnuts in whole milk and then blending the two together into a smooth thick purèe/ paste. Of course you taste the paste before you add it to the rest of the ingredients and when you do, you can’t help but imagine all the other things you could do with this thick creamy, nutty chestnut purèe, the tarts, the creams, the ice creams and filled meringues…..

On a practical note it’s all very straightforward to make and I’m sure you can do it with a lot less equipment than me – I don’t know what came over me, 3 pans, 6 bowls, 4 spoons and 3 bowl scrapers it was comical and very very unnecessary – 2 pans, 3 bowls, 1 spoon and a single scraper should cover it. I did get a bit nervous about cooking times, but I always do with instructions like ‘cook until just set but still has a slight wobble‘ the just suggesting there is a crucial just moment you have to catch, like a ball. I needn’t have worried, it was pretty obvious when the top had completely set and a jiggle of the oven shelf confirmed the slight wobble. It was also after exactly 27 minutes of cooking time (the recipe says 25-30minutes) which was very reassuring. The top cracking is apparently quite normal

Served still warm this is really pudding-like. You can use a cake slice to serve it but only just, and you may well need a spoon as well as it will be very soft and very moussy. If you leave it for couple of hours, the cake cools into something more fudgy, still moist but denser, more slicable. If you don’t eat it all in one day keep it in the fridge, in which case it becomes even firmer and more compact which is also delicious.

I’m very glad this cake is as good as I’d hoped it would be because it means I’ve finally found our less traditional pudding for after the goose on Christmas Day.

Chocolate and chestnut cake

Adapted from Hugh Fearnley -Whittingstall’s recipe in The River Cottage Year

Serves  8 – 10

Grease and line a 25cm cake tin (the springform type is good) and set the oven to 170°/

Melt the cubed butter and chocolate broken into pieces in a small pan over a low flame.

In another pan warm the milk and the chestnuts until the milk is nearly boiling. Remove the pan from the heat and mash the chestnuts into a paste in the milk with a potato masher or blend with an immersion blender.

Separate the eggs yolks from the whites and beat the yolks with the sugar in a large bowl. Add and fold the melted chocolate and butter to the yolk and sugar and then the chestnut and milk puree. You will have a gloopy batter

In another bowl whisk the eggs whites until they form stiff peaks and then fold them into the rest of the ingredients.

Tip the mixture into the lined tin – carefully. Bake at 170°for 25 – 30 minutes until it is just set but still has a slight wobble.

If you want to serve the cake warm, let it cool a little and then very very gently release the tin and slide it onto a plate, carefully, it will still be very soft, delicate and moussey. If you leave it to go cold it will set firm.

Very good with a blob of heavy cream but it’s hardly necessary.

Chocolate and chestnut cake on a chestnut wood table.


Filed under cakes and baking, chestnuts, Chocolate, food, recipes

Hot gooey chocolate puddings.






Put them all together, the order isn’t really important

Pudding gooey chocolate hot

chocolate hot pudding gooey

puddling not chocolate goose

or Hot gooey chocolate pudding

I think the title of this recipe says it all really. Served hot from the oven like little chocolate volcanoes, these puddings are soft and cakey on the outside, the surface just beginning to crack, but inside they are filled with the steaming molten lava of hot chocolate goo.


I make these all the time, not just because they are all the above and delight just about everyone, but because they are stupidly easy to make and can be prepared long before your guests arrive. Once you are feeling nearly ready for dessert, you pot-up and then slide them in the oven, 12 minutes later you manoever the steaming pots to the table and the awaiting spoons.

I usually dig straight in, I do have an asbestos mouth though, hitting the lava head on. Vincenzo on the other hand waits a while so the liquid center cools a little and transforms into a soft fudgy cream.

I always make a pot for everyone and then a couple more just in case. But these little pots do not seem to provoke civilized behaviour and more often than not precipitate an unruly group spoon clatter as cutlery is plunged into the nearest pot scattered on the table. We pause every now and then, claiming we can’t eat another mouthful only return to a pot 5 minutes later for another spoonful.

In case you think I was being rude about Nigellaesque groans, I wasn’t, I mean that would be very ungracious considering this is her recipe.

Hot gooey chocolate puddings

From Nigella Lawson’s How to eat. Makes 5 pots.

  • 125g best quality dark chocolate
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 35g plain flour
  • extra butter and flour for the ramekins.

Break the chocolate into small pieces, dice the butter and put them in a bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water to gently melt. Whisk every now and then until both are perfectly melted.

In another bowl gently whisk the eggs and stir in the sugar and flour.

Gradually and gently whisk the melted chocolate and butter into the egg mixture. Allow the mixture to rest a while – it will happily sit for 3 or 4 hours.

Once you are nearly ready for pudding set the oven to 200.°

Rub the insides of the ramekins with butter and dust with flour. Divide the mixture between the 5 ramekins and put them on a baking sheet.

Bake them for 10 – 12 minutes or until the edges are set and the tops are nearly firm and cracking a little but you can still see a spot of the molten center.

Serve immediately with some very cold cream which people can pour in the steaming chocolate volcano if they so wish.


Filed under cakes and baking, Chocolate, food, Puddings, recipes

Gateau au chocolat fondant de Nathalie


Ok, I am in shock, really in chocolate gateau shock.

I knew this recipe would be good as it has pretty top notch origins, namely Trish Deseine whose recipe was made by Kate (don’t know her, but would like to be her friend) for Molly aka Orangette. I found it whilst doing some task avoiding blog browsing in Molly’s archive.

I saw it and before you can say house cleaning chronically overdue I made it.

I don’t know why I am so happy with myself, it wasn’t exactly difficult and the credit is due to others, but I am. Before you disappear wincing at my smugness, let me explain. I haven’t made something so very very good for quite some time. Yes, I know, I am always bleating on about delicious this and divine that but this is another thing entirely.choc-hit-2

This gateau is – supercalifrag-ilisticexpialidocious (is that how you spell it, answers on a post card please.) It is rather like a rich, dark, sublime, perfectly executed, egg heavy chocolate mouse which had been lent just a waft of cakeness by the scarce 1 tablespoon of flour. It slices like soft butter into almost quivering slices, each mouthful is rich, moist and indulgent yet light and dissolves creamily in your mouth.

I will not be putting this recipe in the low fat category because I don’t have one, but if I did, I would, just because it would make me laugh.

If you eat two slices, as I just did for lunch with a cup of tea, does that constitute a balanced meal? – answers on the same post card as the Mary Poppins trivia please.

Gateau au chocolat fondant de Nathalie

Recipe adapted from Trish Deseine by Kate (don’t know her, but would like to be her friend) for Molly aka Orangette.

200g good butter, 200g very good quality dark chocolate, 250g granulated sugar, 5 eggs, 1tbsp plain flour.

Set the oven to 190°c/375f. Line a 8 inch round cake tin with baking parchment and butter the parchment.

Cut the butter into cubes and break the chocolate into small pieces, melt them together in a small bowl balanced over a pan of hot (not boiling) water. Keep an eye on them while they melt and keep stirring very regularly.

Once the butter and chocolate are melted remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Scrape the butter and chocolate into a larger bowl and stir in the sugar.

In separate small bowl lightly beat one egg and then add it to the other ingredients and stir thoroughly. Again in the separate bowl beat another egg, add it to the mixture and stir in. Repeat until you have added all five eggs.

Stir in the flour.

Your mixture will be batter like in its consistency and gloriously gloopy and shiny.

Scrape the mixture into the lined tin.

Bake for about 25 mins. Set your timer for 20 and then keep a careful eye during the last five minutes while the mixture turns from being very wobbly and raw looking into a just set. The gateau will still wobble a little but the top will be cooked, dry and cracking.

Allow the cake to cool in the tin for about 2 hours otherwise, unless you are very skilled it will crack.

When the cake is totally cool, gently invert it on to a wire tray and then revert it on to the serving plate.

The cake is best after some hours or the next day so morning or day before baking is recommended.


Filed under cakes and baking, Chocolate, food, recipes

Saint-émilion au Chocolat.

I first noticed this recipe in Elizabeth David’s French Country Cooking years ago but I never made it. Then I was reminded of it recently by Simon Hopkinson in his brilliant book Roast chicken and Other Stories.

It is simply one of the nicest and most delicious chocolate puddings I know, intense and wonderfully rich.  Obviously the better the chocolate – dark, bitter, high-quality, cocoa butter rich – the better it tastes.

You can make it in a large soufflè dish, six individual ramekins. or as I like to, in eight little espresso cups, that way somebody could mistake it for an espresso and have a very nice suprise indeed!.

I use Lindt 85% chocolate.

Serves 4 – 8 depending how you serve it

  • 110g softened unsalted butter
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 200ml milk
  • 225g of good dark bitter chocolate broken into pieces
  • 12 – 16 amaretti biscuits
  • a little rum.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and well amalgamated. Beat the egg yolk into the creamed mixture,

Gently gently warm the milk and broken chocolate in a small pan over a very low flame. Once the milk is warm enough for the chocolate to start melting remove from the heat and stir until it is completely melted into the milk, Allow to cool for a few minutes.

Stir the melted chocolate into the butter, sugar and egg cream and stir carefully until it is perfectly mixed and beautifully smooth and glossy.

The final stage depends on your serving dish. if you are using a large souffle dish or ramekins arrange a single layer of amaretti in the base of the dish, sprinkle with rum and then cover with a layer of chocolate mixture, add a further layer of amaretti, another sprinkle of rum and another layer of chocolate. Continue like this until all the mixture is used up.

If you are using expresso cups put one whole amaretti in the cup and crumble over another one pressing it down a little, sprinkle with rum and fill the cup to the brim with the chocolate mixture,

Chill for at least 12 hours before serving.

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Filed under Chocolate, food, Puddings, recipes