Chewy chocolate chip cookies

Choc-chip cookies

These chocolate chip cookies are lovely – crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, and lots of chocolate chips. Recipe from Smitten Kitchen, home of so many awesome baked goods, and only slightly altered.

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups dark chocolate chips

Pre-heat the oven to 160C. Sift together, if you’re into sifting, or simply stir together the flour, baking soda and salt into a small bowl. In a large bowl, cream together the melted butter and sugar, then beat in the vanilla and eggs. Fold in the flour mixture, until just combined, then gently stir in the chocolate chips.

Cover baking trays with baking paper, and spoon out the mixture a tablespoon at a time with a little room for the biscuits to spread. Bake for around 10 minutes, until they’re lightly browned, and let cool on the tray for a minute or so before you transfer them to a wire rack.

Handmade Chocolates

I am completely unable to resist handmade chocolate, and I bought them twice while in Tasmania. The pictured collection was bought at Jam Packed in Hobart, and included some very cute little chocolates.

The snail to the right was filled with chocolate ganache, and was delicious. The curl of a tail towards the bottom of the picture is attached to a caramel mouse. The coffee bean was an espresso flavoured chocolate, which was delicious. The white striped chocolate was a sticky date pudding flavour, which I didn’t like at all – far too metallic and chemically. The chilli chocolate, with the little red chilli on top, I found far too hot. Previously, the only chilli chocolates I’ve had have been pleasantly warm, but this just burnt my mouth – perhaps you have to be more of a chilli lover to enjoy it.

Also in the box is a chocolate with a treble clef on it, which had a whole hazelnut inside, a mudcake truffle, which was just as lovely as it sounds, and finally, a penguin shaped chocolate, which rather stole my heart. You can’t really see it properly in this picture – he’s facing towards the back of the box, but you can see the beginning of his white front and the bulge of his eye. He was filled with mango flavouring, and was delicious.

While these chocolates were gorgeous, I thought they were pretty overpriced. While I was in St Helens, in the north-east of Tasmania, I bought a box of handmade chocolates from Choc-a-Lolly, which were gorgeous, beautifully presented, and very decently priced.

While at Salamanca Markets, we visited a store which sold handmade chocolates and confectionery and bought several things, one of which were Caramel Balls, which we’d been hearing about from Prince Valiant’s sister for months. They were delicious – large round balls of chocolate filled with thick, chewy caramel. We bought a packet home, and the boyfriend polished them off – I was too busy with the remains of my chocolates from Jam Packed to notice.

Hot Chocolate

The boyfriend and I recently spent about 9 days on holiday in Tasmania, which we enjoyed immensely. I spent much of my time eating enormous amounts of lovely fattening things, which I’ll outline in the next few entries. But firstly, my Tasmania hot chocolate experience. I drank a lot of hot chocolate in Tasmania, because the chilly weather was perfect for such a deliciously warm treat. And I adore hot chocolate.

I will diverge here for a moment, and mention a very memorable hot chocolate that I had in the cafe at Merricks General Store in Victoria. It was described French-style, as chocolate chaud, and as you can see, arrived in a bowl, complete with spoons, a dish of marshmallow, and a dish of dark chocolate shavings which I have already stirred into the drink at the point of this photo.

It was divine – mostly dark chocolate and cream, melted and whipped together. I couldn’t bear to use any of the marshmallows as I thought their sticky sweetness would spoil the rich lusciousness of the drink. That was one of my most memorable hot chocolate experiences.

The hot chocolate pictured at the beginning of this post (and I did put the marshmallows in this one!) was a sweet milky concoction I had at a cafe called Jam Packed in Hobart. It wasn’t a stand-out hot chocolate, but it hit the spot after a chilly morning wandering the Salamanca Markets.

I had another wonderful hot chocolate experience in Bellerive, home of the Bellerive Oval. We explored the gun battery at Kangaroo Point, and then went to Jean Pascal Patisserie on the main street of Bellerive for breakfast. I had a hot chocolate, accompanied by an utterly divine chocolate croissant, while Prince Valiant had a pot of tea and a sausage danish. It was a wonderful experience, mostly because of the cosy atmosphere of the place, and the sound of someone bellowing in French in the kitchen. They had a wonderful selection of bread there, including a jalapeno and cheddar loaf which looked very tempting, but we were eating out a lot so I resisted buying any. If I’m in the area again, I’ll definitely be returning there for another pastry.

Chocolate Cookies with Pine Nuts

This recipe is from Lucullian Delights, and although I had a little trouble with the quantities of ingredients, it’s a lovely rich chocolate biscuit, with surprisingly little work involved. I thought pine nuts were an unusual nut to use in a sweet biscuit, but they work very well. I’d recommend doubling the recipe amount here, as it didn’t really make enough biscuits for my taste.

150 grams salted butter
1 cup brown sugar
4 tblsp cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup plain flour
3 tblsp pinenuts

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Beat together the butter and sugar until smooth, and then mix in the cocoa powder and pine nuts.

I found at this stage that the mixture was too stiff to add the flour, and so I added about 4 tablespoons of water, and then firmly beat the flour in.

Roll the dough into a ‘sausage’ and let it rest wrapped in plastic foil for an hour in the fridge, before slicing into 1/2cm thick circles. I didn’t bother to do this, and just squashed the dough into rough circles between my hands before putting them on a baking tray.

Bake for 10 minutes, and after a couple of minutes out of the oven, cool on a rack.

Quadruple Chocolate Loaf Cake

This is another wonderful Nigella Lawson chocolate cake recipe – this one’s from the “Chocolate Cake Hall of Fame” chapter in Feast. It’s a dense, yet surprisingly light, loaf cake – not too light, however, and it goes wonderfully with cream. It’s a sweet chocolate cake, and you could make it sweeter by using milk, or perhaps even white, chocolate chips instead of dark. It’s an extremely simple recipe – it’s designed to be made in a blender, although I beat it together by hand. Once it’s cooked, you pour over some chocolate syrup, and then when cold, grate over some chocolate sprinkles for a rather elegant loaf cake. I served it for morning tea, and it was extremely popular – afternoon tea might be more appropriate though. As with most Nigella recipes, it’s rather rich.

200g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
50g cocoa
275g caster sugar
175g butter
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
80ml sour cream
125ml boiling water
175g chocolate chips

for the syrup:
1 tsp cocoa
125ml water
100g caster sugar
25g dark chocolate

Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease and line a loaf tin (21 x 11cm and 7.5cm deep).

Put the flour, bicarb, cocoa, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream into a food processor, and blitzs until it’s a smooth, satiny brown batter. Process again while pouring the boiling water slowly into the mixture. Turn off the processor, and stir in the chocolate chips.

(If you’re not using a food process, cream the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs, followed by the dry ingredients, then the sour cream and vanilla, then beat in the water.)

Pour the batter into the loaf tin, and bake for an hour. When ready, the loaf will be risen and split down the middle, and a skewer should come out fairly clean.

Just before the cake comes out of the oven, put the syrup ingredients of cocoa, water and sugar into a small saucepan, and boil for five minutes. What you want is a reduced liquid, a syrup.

When you’ve taken the cake out of the oven, pierce a few times with a skewer, and pour the syrup as evenly as possible over the cake. Let the cake become completely cold, then slip it out of its tin, removing the paper, and place it on your serving plate. Get your chocolate, and slice thin slivers off the block with a heavy knife, until you’ve got enough to cover the top of the cake. If required, spoon a little extra syrup so that the chocolate will stick to the surface.

And there you have it. Delicious in thick slices with cream or yoghurt.

Gateau Lawrence

This flourless chocolate cake is from a recipe book by Joanne Harris called French Kitchen, which helpfully includes an entire chapter on chocolate, including the chilli hot chocolate referred to in Chocolat. It’s extremely dense and heavy, a sticky feast of a cake, and as you can see from the above picture, very soft. The lines of my wire rack cut into the cake, and the middle fell out and had to be squished in again. I iced it to make it look a little nicer, but it would be just as lovely without icing. Rather than ground almonds, I used ground hazelnuts, which give the cake a much nuttier flavour.

180g dark chocolate
175g butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
200g ground almonds
4 eggs, separated

Heat the oven to 150C. Line a 25cm cake tin with baking paper.

Break the chocolate into pieces and melt it in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.

Cream together the butter and sugar until soft and creamy. Add the ground almonds, egg yolks and melted chocolate, and beat until evenly blended. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, add to the cake mixture and quickly fold in.

Pour into cake tin, and bake for 35 minutes. A light crust will form on the top and the middle should still be a little squishy. Leave to cool a little before carefully removing from tin.

Angela's Stolen Easy Chocolate Torte

Forgive the blurriness and general unattractiveness of the above photograph – the camera ran out of batteries at the critical moment. Don’t let it put you off trying this dessert, another recipe from the blonde and buxom Angela. We’ve decided to do a whole Stolen series with recipes from her ex-husband, and this one is certainly delicious. Extremely rich and deliciously creamy. You simply put in the fridge when the layers are constructed, so you can put it together in a convenient tupperware container if you happen to be taking it to work for the masses to eat (I also like this because you can see the cream oozing out between the layers through the plastic).

2-3 packets of sponge finger biscuits (depending on the size of your container) (the brand I used was Unibic)
300g dark cooking chocolate
700g thickened whipping cream
1 egg yolk
Frangelico, Brandy, Rum – whatever spirit you prefer
2 cups milk

Get the boring bit out of the way first, and whip the cream.

Now, I had some problems with the chocolate. As you can seen from the above picture, rather than a smooth layer of chocolate, I had a rough layer of little chocolate blobs. However, I didn’t follow Angela’s instructions, so I’ll write them out here as she did.

In a microwave carefully melt the chocolate. Remove before it has completely melted and whisk in the egg yolk and a generous dollop of whipped cream. You don’t want the consistency to be too runny – you want a smooth cream texture.

I did mine in a saucepan, added the egg yolk, and the chocolate completely solidified and nothing I could do could smooth the texture. The dessert still tasted gorgeous, but it ruined its looks a little, I think.

In a bowl, mix together the milk and alcohol. I didn’t measure the Frangelico, and just pour in several big glugs – it wasn’t actually that noticeable in the finished dessert, and in future I’d probably do 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup. Taste the mixture to check the strength.

One by one, dunk each biscuit in the milk mixture for 1-2 seconds – not longer, or they’ll be too soggy – then place it into the container until you have completely covered the bottom with tight rows of biscuits.

Smooth a layer of chocolate over the biscuits, and follow this with a layer of whipped cream.

Repeat the process with another layer of dunked biscuits, chocolate and cream.

Repeat with another layer of dunked biscuits and chocolate. Refrigerate the dessert, and add a top layer of whipped cream prior to serving. The dessert is at its best if chilled prior to serving. Decorate with chocolate flakes if you wish.

Chocolate Guinness Cake

This is a Nigella Lawson recipe, from Feast. I was a bit hesitant about it – I don’t like beer, and I think Guinness is quite revolting. And beer and chocolate just sounds wrong. But the boyfriend often has Guinness in the fridge, so I stole one to try this cake. (It was the last one too, much to his irritation.) Nigella says that the cake’s “magnificent in its damp blackness” with a “resonant, ferrous tang”. After looking up “ferrous” (which means ‘of or pertaining to iron’, if you’re similarly ignorant), I have to agree. I’m going to relate Nigella’s cooking temperatures and times here and not what I did, because not only did I ended up cooking the cake in two tins, not having one large enough for the recipe. The icing imitates the foam on a pint of Guinness very successfully – I was very pleased with its looks, and even more so with the taste. A nicely adult chocolate cake.

250ml Guinness
250g butter (1 cup)
75g cocoa (a rounded 1/2 cup)
400g caster sugar (2 cups)
140ml sour cream (
I used plain yoghurt)
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
275g plain flour (2 1/4 cups)
2 1/2 teaspoons bicarb soda

for the icing:
300g cream cheese (I used 250g which was plenty)
150g icing sugar (1 cup)
125ml cream

Preheat the oven to 180C, and grease and line (yes! lining is essential) a 23 centimetre springform tin.

Pour the Guinness into a large saucepan, and add the sliced butter. Heat until the butter is melted, and remove the saucepan from the heat. Whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla, then pour into the saucepan. Finally, beat in the flour and bicarb.

Pour the batter into the greased and lined tin, and bake for 45 mins to an hour. Leave to get completely cool in the tin, as it’s quite a damp cake.

For the icing, beat the icing sugar and cream cheese together. Add the cream, and beat again until it’s a spreadable consistency. Ice the top of the black cake until it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint.

Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake

This is a Nigella Lawson recipe from How To Be a Domestic Goddess, and I’ve been a little hesitant about trying it, because it looks so moist and sticky, and as Nigella and I have vastly different ovens, I worried about being able to tell if it was cooked. However, a craving for chocolate cake forced me to give it a try, and experimenting with oven temperatures turned out quite well. I think it was a little overcooked, as you can see from the paler brown near the crust, and I was lazy in adding the flour, which resulted in lumps. However, the result was still beautiful – a plain, loaf cake, as Nigella describes it, but beautifully moist, and considering the amount of sugar in it, not too sweet. It’s just beautifully rich and chocolatey, and perfect with icecream or cream, as a dessert (but also in thick slices for afternoon tea).

225g soft unsalted butter (1 cup and 3 tsp)
375g dark muscovado sugar (2 cups)
(I used brown)
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
(I used essence)
100g best dark chocolate, melted
200g plain flour (1 3/4 cups)
1 tsp bicarb soda
250ml boiling water (1 cup)

Nigella suggests preheating the oven to 190C, baking the finished batter for 30 minutes, turning the oven down to 170C, and baking for another 15 minutes. I have a slow oven, so I preheated to 210C, baked for 40 minutes, turned down to 190C, and baked for 20 minutes. I think my temperatures were good, but I’d probably cut 5-10 minutes off the time.

Grease and completely line a loaf tin.

Cream the butter and sugar together. I stuffed up here in attempted to slightly soften my butter, and instead completely melted it. I think this made a bit of a difference to my batter, which may also effect the cooking time. Add the eggs and vanilla to the creamed butter and sugar, and beat well.

Fold in the slightly cooled chocolate, taking care to blend well but not overbeat. Add the bicarb to the flour, and add, alternately spoon by spoon with the boiling water, until you have a smooth and fairly liquid batter. Don’t be alarmed if the batter is very liquid, and you think it’ll never cook. It will. And really, take time in adding the flour – lumps are annoying.

Pour the batter into your lined loaf tin.

Bake according to Nigella’s instructions (30 minutes at 190C, 15 minutes at 170C), or mine (35 minutes at 210C, 15-20 minutes at 190C). The cake will still be a bit squidgy inside, so there should be a little mixture on a testing skewer.

Leave the cake for a couple of hours to cool completely inside the tin. It’s intended to sink in the middle, although mine didn’t, due to said overcooking. It’s still delicious with the overcooking, I just don’t think it’s quite what Nigella intended. Turn out, slice, and eat.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

This chocolate cake recipe is my basic, birthday cake recipe that I generally use. It’s simple and easy, and despite using cocoa powder rather than melted chocolate, it really is delicious fudgy. I made a chocolate ganache for the first time to go with it, and while it made the cake very darkly chocolatey, I think I almost prefer the sweetness of chocolate icing to go with the fudginess of the cake.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
2/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup hot water
1 cup buttermilk (or milk soured with 2 tsp vinegar)
1 3/4 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb soda
berry jam

for chocolate ganache:
100g dark chocolate
1 cup cream

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Grease and line two 20cm cake tins.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs and vanilla essence.

Blend the cocoa with the hot water, then stir into the butter mixture.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and bicarb, if you like sifting. I usually just add the baking powder to the top of the cup of flour. Add the flour to the chocolate mixture alternately with the buttermilk, stirring briskly after each addition.

Pour the cake mixture evenly between the two cake tins, and bake for 30 minutes.

While the cakes are cooling, melt the chocolate and cream together, and let cool. I tried to beat mine a little to thicken the cream, but I don’t think it made any difference.

When the ganache is fairly cool, place one cake on a serving plate. Spread it thickly with jam – I used a delicious mulberry jam, but raspberry would be good as well. Pour a little ganache on top of the jam, and spread it over the cake. Place the other cake on top of the first, and settle it carefully – it may slide a little over the ganache. Pour the remaining ganache over the top of the cake, until it covers the top and sides (and is pooling a little on the plate), and put the cake immediately into the fridge.

If you serve it about an hour later, the ganache will be set, and the cake still slightly warm. Gorgeous.