Tag Archives: chocolate ganache

One giant Twix (tart). Gluten, dairy, sugar and fat full

I like this tart for bringing to people as a present. I’ve yet to meet a grown up, or child, no matter how posh or spoiled and used to presents, who doesn’t love this (unless of course you hate Twixes). But it also makes a good dessert when you really can’t decide what to make to please everyone. And just a small slice is really enough.

I can’t overstate this. It is pancreas-bustingly sweet. A bit too sweet for me if truth be told, it sets my teeth on edge. I want to play around with the recipe next time to try to resolve this. That said, a small slice (or even cube) is a treat. But, like the Wagon Wheels I made last year which set off a sort of crazy reaction, proceed with caution

The caramel making is a faff, I won’t lie. A thermometer is a must (I can hear you sighing). I have very similar to  these, which is brilliant. You can use it to probe meat with, take the temperature of a child, use it to make confectionery – it’s great because you just have a probe sticking into the hot caramel, with the actual body of the thermometer somewhere out of the way. I stick mine above where I’m working, to the extractor fan hood (it has a magnetic back). Obviously you do need to remember to clean the probe between child and caramel.

Anyway, this recipe was from Delicious magazine some time ago. I made a fundamental change to the timing of the caramel/temperature, because the first time I made it, taking it up to 115C meant the bottom of the caramel burned, so you had burnt/darker bits. It didn’t affect the taste, but it was annoying. I now stop the last bit of the caramel making at 111C – precision is all in caramel making – and it’s fine: chewy, golden and just before it starts to burn. I also changed the way you make the chocolate ganache.

This is what you need:

For the base

225g shortcake biscuits

75g unsalted butter, melted

For the caramel

125ml double cream

90ml condensed milk

125ml golden syrup

110g caster sugar

30g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For the chocolate topping

200g good quality milk chocolate (I use Green and Black’s Cooking chocolate at 37% cocoa solids)

75ml double cream

Small knob of butter

 

What you do:

Heat the oven to 170C. Put the biscuits and melted butter in a food processor, then pulse until all amalgamated. Line a loose bottomed tart tin, mine was 35cm x 12cm the biscuit crumbs. You can lightly oil the tin first, if you are of a nervous disposition.

Press the crumbs down and up the sides,  chill for ten minutes then cook it for 15 mins. Let it cool, then put back in the fridge. You’re done with the oven now, so switch it off.

To make the caramel, put the 125ml of double cream in a sauce pan with the condensed milk and heat up very slowly. I do this at the same time I’m making the caramel, cos I’m ‘ard and can multi task. If you do it separately it’s important it’s kept warm-ish as otherwise, if you introduce it to the caramel – such as you will later – cold, it might split.

Now put the golden syrup and caster sugar in a separate pan with 30ml of cold water, trying hard not to think of the glycaemic index of these two ingredients combined. Heat it gently until the sugar melts, stick the thermometer in, bring to the boil and then bring down to a simmer until the thermometer reads 120C. This may take a while (5-10mins). When making caramel, the temperature rises, then seems to stall, then rises again, then leaps. Be careful here, a caramel solution at 120C is very, very hot. Don’t have small children wondering round. Don’t leave it unattended.

When it reaches 120C, take it off the heat and stir in the chopped butter, then add the still warm cream/condensed milk mixture. Stir stir stir, (take out the tart base from the fridge in its tin), and put the caramel mixture back on the heat and bring back to the boil – this will take a while – until the mixture is at 111C. When it reaches this temperature, pour the caramel into the biscuit crumb lined tray and leave to cool completely. When it’s cool, put in the fridge.

Then, make the chocolate ganache: put a bowl atop a saucepan of simmering water. In this bowl put the milk chocolate, the 75ml of double cream and the knob of butter. Stir until everything has melted. This is the chocolate ganache. You now pour this over the caramel filled tart and as it cools, make wavy patterns, just, you know because.

Leave to set. Keep in fridge. Eat slowly and in small portions. No-one wants diabetes for Christmas.

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The art of frothy milk, and how to make the simplest hot chocolate

What is the point of cold weather if you can’t have a reviving hot chocolate when you get in? Your fingers so unfeeling with cold you get a thrill just undoing your coat, as if you were being jollied by an attractive stranger.

When you stand in the hot chocolate aisle at the supermarket, as I never do, you will see that there are dozens of potions and powders with which to make your hot chocolate.

And you don’t need any of them.

Sure, chocolate ganache hot chocolate is the richest, most luxurious hot chocolate you could hope to have (and you MUST try it). But unless you have a stash in the fridge ready made, you’re stuffed.

No matter! Cos all you need is a small cup of milk, about 100ml tops, and two squares of chocolate. One 70% cocoa and one milk. If you have cream in the fridge, use this as well as milk (so say, 50ml cream, 50ml of milk). This gives you the perfect mix of chocolate and sugar to dairy. I believe a small, pokey, punchy hot chocolate is better than a large, diluted one that can only render a weak, milky half-slap. Put the squares in the cup, put in microwave on high for 1m 20 seconds. Take out and whisk with an aerolatte if you have one or a fork or a whisk or you know, something suitable. Then drink. I make this every day for my children, in the winter, when they come home from school (aren’t I nice?).  Although, if you’re like me, you will also top it with some milk froth schiuma which I make in my electric Dualit milk frother, which makes the best milk froth this side of a £10K commercial cappuccino machine.

1459210_10151840880983721_402930639_nThis is a cappuccino made using the Dualit electric milk frother.

 

Chocolate ganache – a great filling for doughnuts or eclairs

Continuing with my slight eclair obsession…I’ve been wanting to try a darker chocolate cream, as opposed to my white chocolate cream, for some time now in an eclair. Except I trialled it in a doughnut, first. But you could use this in anything that needs a gooey chocolate filling. It tastes like chocolate ice cream. Except not cold..

The recipe for the doughnuts is here, and of course you’ll notice immediately that these are not deep fried doughnuts. This honestly doesn’t matter. The doughnut here is simply a receptacle for the chocolate. Just like it really doesn’t matter what a drug mule looks like, they’re there to just, you know..

The topping you see above is just melted dark (70%) chocolate – about 50g – with a teaspoon of vegetable oil.  And sugar sprinkles of course. I’m not a man fan of them to eat. The conflicting textures confuse me: soft doughnut, soft cream, crunchy, sugary, balls. But the children love them.

For the chocolate ganache filling, all you do is (for 12 small doughnuts) put about 100ml of double cream and 50g of dark, 70% cocoa chocolate, in a bowl over some boiling water. Stir until the chocolate is melted. It should be thick. Chill. Then add about another 100ml of double cream and whisk until really thick. I then added two teaspoons of icing sugar, because I was after a very particular taste – just sweet but not sickly and without the sugar it was simple too ‘dark’. But do taste as you go. Put in an icing bag with an appropriate nozzle – depending on what you’re doing, eclairs, doughnuts etc. Chill the icing bag and the cream for half an hour. Then use.

Chocolate Ganache Hot Chocolate

I was going to write about Fruit Leathers aka Fruit Roll ups. But I just can’t be bothered. It’s too cold (at least where I am, which is in Suffolk) to write about blackberries and fruit stuff.

Instead I want to write about hot chocolate.

I’ve never been satisfied with commercially available hot chocolate mixes. My dad, in his coffee shop that he used to have, used to make the most exquisite hot chocolate – made with Cadbury’s Hot Chocolate syrup which you couldn’t buy it in the shops.  Cadbury’s has stopped making it now anyway. My dad would make me a cup of half hot milk with the syrup and half ‘schiuma’ – what you English call ‘foam’. It was the best ever hot chocolate and has never, really, been beaten. I’m guessing that if I tasted it now I’d think it was really sweet. But memories, and all that..

For a long time, in the absence of Mr Cadbury’s syrup, the way I’d make hot chocolate was by heating up some milk with some 70% cocoa content chocolate in it, then whisking it all up. It would be dark, rich and not too sweet.

When I was out and I could get it (and you can’t here in Suffolk, please could you open up a branch Antonio), I’d drink Carluccio’s Cioccolata Fiorentina, which is served in espresso cups and is dark and custard-thick. It’s delicious – I urge you to try it if you are ever in a Carluccio’s. You can buy the powder to recreate this drink at home, but it’s hard to replicate what they do in the shop and to have any hope of success you need to make it in large quantities. Also, don’t look at the ingredients as it will put you off.

But the idea of a small cup of something that really hits the spot appeals. I’ve never been a fan of large, mediocre drinks: small and potent is what I’m after.

Last year my youngest daughter was baptised. For the cake part of the party, I made lots of chocolate cupcakes using Nigella Lawson’s recipe (Nigella Domestic Goddess p.168). The icing was chocolate ganache – chocolate melted with cream (I don’t really do sugar or buttercream icing, I mean, it’s nice, for the first mouthful but then it leaves you in a diabetic coma). Nigella’s recipe always makes more ganache icing than you could possibly ever pour onto the cupcakes (as it is, the  icing is a good centimetre thick), but I always make the amount she recommends because I live in fear of my cupcakes one day going naked cos I skimped. On this occasion I had plenty left over, so I kept the rest in the fridge.

(For those interested, I topped the cupcakes with an orange wafer rose from Jane Asher. The effect – orange on a glossy dark brown cupcake in brown paper holders – was smart and sleek which is just what I wanted).

As the party wore on, some die-hards remained. It was October and the evening air was fairly fresh and I fancied hot chocolate. I looked at my now set-solid chocolate ganache in the fridge. I wondered what would happen if I melted it again, added some hot milk and whizzed it up with my Aerolatte frother wand-thing.

It made hot chocolate that was so superb that everyone commented on it, even though by that stage they were fairly tipsy and deep in conversation. Everyone said it was the best hot chocolate they’d ever tasted, even those I didn’t get in an arm lock.

I served it in little ceramic cups so you got just a few mouthfuls, which is all you’d want as it’s imaginably rich…

Chocolate Ganache Hot Chocolate

I’ve adapted this from Nigella’s original recipe as otherwise you’d be drinking it for a week…

90g 70% cocoa chocolate (I use Waitrose Continental – which comes in a black, rather unassuming wrapper – it’s very good)
40g milk chocolate (I use Green and Black’s as it’s a higher percentage cocoa than most milk chocolates, but I don’t use its plain chocolate as I don’t like it as much as Waitrose’s)
100ml double cream
a few drops of vanilla extract (about quarter of a teaspoon).
Milk to suit

Melt the milk and dark chocolate with the cream. You can do it straight in a pan but you may feel safer doing it in a bowl, above a pan of boiling water. Stir until melted.

You should have a very thick mixture. Warm up some milk separately, then carefully and slowly add it to the chocolate/cream mixture. What you’re aiming to do is loosen up the ganache, but you don’t want to add so much milk that you change it into a really runny mixture. You want to end up with something that’s thick: so thick you could eat it off a spoon, but is still drinkable.

Look, no-one said this was going to be easy. If you want a normal, easy to make hot chocolate drink, get any old shit from the supermarket. This is proper stuff that will warm your body and your soul because it requires a bit of care in the making.

It will be worth it.

If you need to homogenise the mixture, you can whisk it up. I use my Aerolatte whizzer thing.

Serve in small espresso cups. If you don’t want to use all the mixture, just refrigerate it before you add the milk; and if you don’t end up eating it straight out of the fridge with a spoon, just melt it down and add warm  milk and whisk it up like that. This way you can actually make just one cup at a time.

Enjoy it. It’s good.