Choc-a-block with delight - recipes
When baking or cooking with chocolate, it's important to use the best quality you can buy.
Milk chocolate is high in sugar and not really suitable for baking or cooking. It is best to go for a chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa solid content. Dark chocolate has a higher cocoa content and is less sweet than milk and white chocolate.
The strong flavour of cocoa lends itself well to creating rich and indulgent chocolate cakes and desserts. The taste is slightly bitter but balances well with sugar and other sweet ingredients in a recipe.
Store the chocolate at room temperature and not in the fridge. Keep it out of direct sunlight and away from changes in temperature as this will cause blooming, which turns the chocolate an unappetising white-grey colour. Chocolate melts at a low temperature, so putting it over a high heat will cause it to “seize” and burn and render it unusable.
To melt chocolate, break or chop it into even-sized pieces, put in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of barely simmering water (not boiling). Make sure the water does not touch the bowl. Stir while the chocolate gradually melts. Chocolate can also be melted in a microwave oven at a very low heat setting. I use the defrost setting and do it in bursts of a minute at a time, stirring frequently until the mixture is smooth.
Chocolate chips are designed not to melt when baked, so don't substitute them for a slab or discs in a recipe, the chocolate will be thick and difficult to work with.
White chocolate is technically not real chocolate as it doesn't contain any cocoa solids. It is made primarily of cocoa butter, sugar and milk solids. White chocolate must contain at least 14 percent milk solids, including 3.5 percent milk fat. It is tricky to work with and seizes very quickly.
CHOCOLATE PEAR PUDDINGS
80g butter, softened
125ml castor sugar
50ml cocoa powder
5ml baking powder
100g dark chocolate, melted
400g tin of baby pears, drained
SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE
125ml brown sugar
60ml golden syrup
1 large pinch of salt flakes
Combine all the ingredients, except the pears in a processor and blend until smooth.
Divide the mixture into 6-8 ramekins or other suitable containers. Push a pear into each pudding.
Bake at 180degC for 15-20 minutes until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and serve warm with the sauce.
SAUCE: Combine the butter, brown sugar, cream and syrup in a small pot and bring to the boil. Simmer for 3-5 minutes until slightly thickened.
Remove from the heat and add salt flakes to taste.
CHOCOLATE CRINKLE COOKIES
250ml light brown sugar
125ml cocoa powder
5ml bicarbonate of soda
2 egg whites
80ml plain yoghurt
375ml cake flour
icing sugar for coating
Cream the butter well. Add the sugar, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda and mix well.
Add the egg whites and yoghurt and mix.
Mix in the flour to make a soft dough.
Roll into balls about the size of a walnut and drop into icing sugar to coat.
Place the balls about 2cm apart on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and bake in a preheated oven at 180degC for 8-10 minutes.
The biscuits will flatten slightly during baking, giving them a crinkled look.
WHITE CHOCOLATE AND RASPBERRY CAKE
125g white cooking chocolate, broken into pieces
300ml castor sugar
500ml cake flour
7.5ml baking powder
2 extra-large eggs
5ml vanilla essence
250g thick cream cheese
100g white chocolate, melted
5ml vanilla extract
500ml icing sugar
raspberries and white chocolate curls for decoration
Combine the chocolate, milk, butter and castor sugar in a saucepan over low heat and stir until the mixture is melted and smooth.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add the eggs, vanilla essence and chocolate mixture and use a wire whisk to mix until smooth.
Pour the mixture into a lined and greased 22cm springform pan. Scatter the raspberries on top.
Bake in a preheated oven at 160deg C for 40-50 minutes. Cool in the pan for about 20 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.
ICING: Cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth and well blended.
Pour in the cooled melted chocolate and beat well. Beat in the vanilla. Add the icing sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
Spoon on top of the cake and decorate with raspberries and chocolate curls.
DARK CHOCOLATE AND FIG SALAD
1 pillow packet of mixed salad leaves
6 fresh figs, quartered
100g blue cheese, crumbled
60g dark chocolate,roughly chopped
100g prosciutto, torn
50g pistachio nuts
edible flowers to garnish
80ml lemon-flavoured olive oil
45ml lemon juice
5ml Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
A few sprigs of lemon thyme, stripped
Fill a salad bowl with lettuce leaves and add the figs, blue cheese, chocolate and prosciutto.
Scatter over the pistachio nuts and pomegranate rubies and decorate with edible flowers if desired.
Pour over the dressing just before serving.
DRESSING: Combine all the ingredients and mix until well combined.
WHITE CHOCOLATE FRUIT TARTS
450ml cake flour
50ml cocoa powder
50ml castor sugar
1 egg, beaten
ice water to mix
200g white chocolate
2 eggs, beaten
125ml hot water
fruit for decorating
PASTRY: Place the flour, cocoa and castor sugar in a blender and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles crumbs.
Add the egg and enough ice water to bring the dough together. Remove from the processor and knead gently until smooth.
Wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
Roll out on a lightly floured surface to 3mm thickness.
Cut out discs to fit 8cm fluted loose bottom tart pans. Prick the pastry and line each with a piece of baking paper. Fill with dry beans and bake blind at 180degC for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned. Remove the paper and beans.
Fill with the chocolate filling and return to the oven at 160degC for 10 minutes until the filling is set. Take care not to over bake.
Remove and cool. Top with fruit and glaze with syrup. Decorate with chocolate curls if desired.
filling: Melt cream and chocolate. Cool slightly, then whisk in the vanilla and eggs.
GLAZE: Combine the sugar and water in a small pot and bring to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes to thicken slightly.
Dip the slices of fruit into the hot syrup for a minute. Remove and place on the tart.
NOTE: Any seasonal fruit can be used to top the tarts.
The Angela Day cookery column is published in The Star, the Cape Argus, the Daily News and the Pretoria News.
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