When making this, I had to search my blog in case I’d made something like this before. I have a severe weakness for ‘black forest’-flavoured things and I appear to have 4 separate choc-cherry desserts in my collection!
This one has been back and forth with In Search of Heston and me, we’ve noticed how obsessed Heston Blumenthal is with both Black Forest things. and trifle. There was one made for Waitrose but to be honest it sounded weird (lime?). This version is not likely one that Heston would make – not quite enough genius touches – but a tribute nonetheless. A Heston version would no doubt spherify intense cherry compote into cherry shapes and impale them with a stick of dark chocolate for the stem. This version is dead easy to do, kid-friendly (if you skip the Kirsch) and great fun to assemble.
I also hadn’t planned on sticking a biscuit in the top, but a friend had brought these smashing things from Border and they were tremendous. I could’ve skipped making this and just eaten the biscuits instead, they were that good.
Black forest trifle (serves 4):
1 chocolate swiss roll
1 jar black cherry jam
Kirsch (a couple of tablespoons I guess)
500g chocolate custard
1 meringue nest
Dark chocolate (for grating)
- Put swiss roll slices at the bottom of your trifle bowl or individual serving dishes. Douse with Kirsch. Slather the swiss roll with jam.
- Halve nine of the cherries and stone them. Bury the cherries in the jam. Steep the remaining 4 cherries in a little Kirsch until time to serve.
- Top the jammy cherries with chocolate custard and refrigerate until serving. Top with crumbled meringue nest, squirty cream, a grating of chocolate and a final boozy whole cherry.
There are few simpler pleasures in life than cooking with your children. Baking cakes with a toddler can be a source of tremendous fun. We knocked these absurd little fairy cakes out one rainy afternoon, and had to make more the next day as they went down so well.
The secret ingredient is Heston’s Chocolate Popping Candy – great fun!
Exploding chocolate cakes (makes 12):
225g granulated sugar
225g plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
25g chocolate-covered popping candy
For the chocolate sauce:
50g icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Cream the butter and sugar together and beat in an egg one at a time. Fold in the flour, baking powder and popping candy. Divide into 12 paper cases and bake for 10 – 12 mins until golden, risen and cooked through.
- While the cakes cool, make the sauce. Combine the cocoa and sugar and gradually add water a splash at a time to get an oozy paste. Slice the top off a cake, fill with sauce, replace the lid and drizzle a little more over to serve.
I hate slugs. Not for slimy, yukky reasons, but because they wreak havoc on my nascent courgettes. I accepted all kinds of advice, one of which was scattering broken egg shells around the plants. So this cake was a good excuse to break some eggs.
This is from The Yeo Valley Great British Farmhouse Cookbook. It’s a new book from the yoghurty people. It’s full of recipes like slow-roasted pork and apples, smoky bacon meatballs, and chocolate chip cookies. All of them are well-explained homely fare.
And that it’s downside really. It’s all good honest food but all predictable stuff. Nothing here is going to change the way you cook, nor probably anything that will linger long in the memory. It’s a collection of safe, comfortable recipes that you probably already have a method for. Much more interesting is the collection of DIY dairy tips – how to make your own creme fraiche, that sort of thing. I would’ve preferred a book that leaned heavier on their dairy specialism to give it a unique character.
This cake was taken from theirs; substituting their raspberries for chocolate. The eggshells didn’t deter the slugs though. I had to repot them to high shelves.
Yoghurt tea loaf (makes a 1kg loaf):
250g plain flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
115g soft butter
225g caster sugar
2 large eggs
100g natural yoghurt
25g ground almonds
100g dark chocolate, chopped
100g granulated sugar
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Sift together the flour, butter and salt. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy then beat in the eggs one at a time. Alternately fold in the flour and yoghurt, followed by the almonds, then stir through the chocolate.
- Spoon the batter into a greased or silicone loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes. Cover with foil and bake with another 25 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. When cooked scatter some sugar over the top. After 5 minutes resting remove from the tin to cool. Serve in thick slices.
I’m a big fan of coffee. I’m pretty sure I was drinking coffee from when I was about 5 years old, which I’m not sure is particularly appropriate but has led to a lifelong love affair. Sunday mornings meant a pot of filter on, and everywhere I worked I’ve kickstarted a coffee club. When Puro Fairtrade sent me some samples of their Fairtrade coffee brands, I wasted no time in trying it out.
Puro are a brand that believe passionately in ethically produced coffee. There’s an absolute wealth of material on their site, including videos of the farmers, working with South African farmers, schools and forestry. You can’t deny the moral background to their operation. Go check out the videos.
The coffees themselves? The Noble was rich and dark, with a satisfying sweetness. I found the Fuerte a little bland, while it had a kick it was difficult to distinguish any real subtelty from it. For this recipe I’ve used the much more satisfying, chocolatey Organic for this syrup, and paired it with an chocolate chip pancake.
I had no eggs in the house for this American-style pancake recipe. Oddly, the texture was no different from when I’d used eggs, so I probably won’t bother in future. The dark and sweet coffee syrup slathers nicely over the dense, fluffy pancakes. A perfect springtime breakfast, especially with some blueberries in there too for a little sharpness.
Eggless pancakes with coffee syrup (makes about 6 – 10):
For the pancakes:
1 teaspoon baking powder
20g dark chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1 tablespoon water
Large knob of butter
For the syrup:
150g caster sugar
- First make the syrup. Heat the coffee and sugar together in a saucepan. Boil fast until it has reduced by half. I pour mine into a cafetiere to cool and I think it’s kinda cute to serve it from there too.
- Get a frying pan over a medium heat. For the pancake batter, mix all the dry ingredients, then add the vanilla, water and enough milk to make a thick, gloopy batter. Melt the butter in your frying pan and pour this back into the mix (the remaining grease in the pan will be just enough to cook your pancakes). Ladle in the batter and cook until bubbling on the raw side. Flip and cook until browned on the other side. Keep warm on a hot plate until the rest are cooked.
When food ideas strike me, I can’t let them go. Such as my idea to make After-Eight style mints. The experiment was pretty good, but of all things to get wrong, I got the chocolate wrong. I used some of Willie’s 100% cacao and it was just too bitter for the mint. Find a piece where the chocolate was wafer-thin and it was great, so it was nearly there. Just stick to a 70%er.
After dinner mints (makes a giant slab the size of your baking tray):
200g dark chocolate
1 egg white
200g icing sugar
1 tablespoon peppermint essence
A few drops green food colouring
- Melt half the chocolate in a bain marie. While it melts line a baking tray (roughly 15cm x 25cm) with greaseproof paper and pop in the freezer. Once the chocolate has melted pour in a thin layer across the paper and pop back in the freezer.
- Make a fondant by mixing the egg white and sugar into a paste. Add the peppermint and taste to see if it needs a little more. Stir in some food colouring to give it a very faint hue. Pour this mixture over the chocolate.
- Melt the remaining chocolate and pour that over the top of the mint. Allow to set in the freezer for at least an hour, after which time you can store in the fridge. Allow people to snap off a piece as they like. Goes great with strong coffee.