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.
If there’s a dessert I’m guaranteed to go giddy for, it’s Black Forest Gateau. The combination of cherry, chocolate and cream is just perfect. And so if I see an opportunity to reinvent it, I’m there.
I wanted to reuse one of my favourite recipes of this year was Russian honey cake. It’s such an enjoyable technique I knew it had legs. And this black forest version proves it: the ‘cake’ is quite biscuity, but if you can stand to leave it in the fridge for a couple of nights, you will have a dense, squidgy and super moreish cake. So good.
Black forest cake (makes a cake about 20cm x 10cm):
For the dough:
3 large eggs
A big pinch of vanilla salt
220g caster sugar
70g black cherry jam (I like Tiptree)
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
For the cream:
700ml double cream
180g caster sugar
The rest of the jar of black cherry jam
Dark chocolate (I found Co-op did a marvellous one with cranberries in that was perfect)
- Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper, then give that a little extra grease. Melt together the butter and jam until fluid and then turn off the heat.
- Whisk together the eggs, salt and sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually whisk in the cherry jam butter a trickle at a time, and then sift in the bicarb, cocoa and flour. Stir until combined to a dough – this will be quite firm, more like a biscuit dough than a cake batter. Using wet hands press this mixture in to your baking tray, as thin as you can. Bake for around 8 – 10 mins, until the it is golden on top and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Peel off the paper and leave to cool.
- While it cools make the cream. Whip the cream and sugar until soft but still a touch runny, then incorporate the mascarpone and keep beating until it just holds its shape.
- When cool, slice the cake into long thirds. Then proceed to cut in half horizontally, by placing your hand on top and slicing across with your sharpest bread knife. You want a thickness of about 5mm.
- Slather one side of the cake slices with jam, and the other with cream. Sandwich together to make a giddy tower. Be generous with the cream as it is going to get absorbed by the sponge. Smooth some more cream over the top and sides of the cake and leave to set in the fridge for about 12 hours.
- Before serving grate over some dark chocolate.
Lavazza are sponsoring Wimbledon this year and have released a rather snazzy themed espresso machine. They sent one along for me to try out, and it’s one of the neatest pod-style machines I’ve used. I’ve been necking espresso at a GP-bothering rate but not before I came up with some coffee recipes to celebrate. Here’s a fudgy-textured and sweet dessert recipe to get us started: the diplomatico, the distant relative of the tiramisu lacking any kind of PR. I’ve blended elements of both desserts to create a sort of diplomisu, if you will. This can be made a day or so in advance and for best results leave it out of the fridge for 20 minutes or so before eating; the textures soften and taking the chill off enhances the silky, creamy texture. If you like boozy coffee-alcohol puds, this is definitely one to try.
Sponge finger tip: I think this works best with really sodden sponge biscuits. You can obviously only submerge them for a few seconds before they turn to mush in your hands. To avoid this, give them a short dip until starting to soften and place them in the dish. Then gently drizzle with more marinating liquor to increase their drunkenness. Do this slowly to ensure the fingers have time to absorb the liquid.
500ml double cream, whipped to soft peaks
250g mascarpone cheese
120g dark chocolate, melted
50g icing sugar
150ml espresso, cooled
5 tablespoons marsala
About 30 sponge fingers
Grated chocolate, to serve
- Whip the cream to soft peaks, and reserve about a third of it.
- Stir the icing sugar and mascarpone together, then fold into 2/3 of the softly whipped cream. Gradually fold in the melted chocolate. Check for sweetness at this point as this will be where most of the sweet taste from the pudding will come from, and add more icing sugar as necessary.
- Stir the coffee, marsala and a tablespoon of icing sugar together. Dip the sponge fingers in the mix until soggy, and then make a layer of them in a rectangular cake tin (I use a silicone one to get the dessert out easier later).
- Add a layer of chocolate cream, then follow with more boozy biscuits. Keep layering, ending with sponge fingers. Add the remaining cream on top of this and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours.
- Before serving garnish with grated chocolate, then cut into thick slices.
To be in with a chance to win one the fantastic Lavazza Wimbledon prizes look out for promotional cups on take away Lavazza coffees, or enter online at http://promotion.wimbledon.lavazza.com/
Prizes include six pairs of tickets to Wimbledon, 90 Lavazza A Modo Mio Favola Plus Wimbledon Limited Edition coffee machines and 500 sets of four exclusive espresso cups created especially for the tournament.
Isn’t it great when things just work out? I had some bananas blackening on my windowsill, and the next day some nice person emails me a bunch of Cadbury’s Fairtrade recipes, including this one for chocolate banana bread. Serendipity. I don’t even particularly like bananas, but I seem to be cooking a lot with them lately.
This was lovely – exactly what you’d epxect – but not quite chocolatey enough for me, so I slathered it in chocolate spread (Fairtrade of course). Perhaps I’ll just add more chocolate next time.
Fairtrade Fortnight is 27th February – 11th March. Find out more here.
Chocolate banana bread:
75g Cadbury Dairy Milk Fairtrade milk chocolate
250g self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
1 level teaspoon baking powder
150g Fairtrade caster sugar
100g butter, softened, plus extra to serve
50g walnuts chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 1 Fairtrade orange
475g Fairtrade whole bananas (about 4 small ones), peeled
- Preheat the oven to 170°C. Lightly oil and line a loaf tin with parchment paper.
- Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the sugar, butter and nuts rub it in until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
- Whisk the eggs, vanilla extract and orange zest in another bowl. Add the Fairtrade bananas and mash. Then melt the Cadbury Dairy Milk Fairtrade milk chocolate and fold it into the banana mixture.
- Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the banana mixture. Gently but thoroughly bring all the ingredients together with a wooden spoon, then pour into the prepared loaf tin. Smooth the top and bake in the oven for 1- 1 ¼ hours or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing the cake from the tin. Serve sliced and buttered