Category Archives: chocolate

black forest trifle

black forest trifle

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

12 cherries

Kirsch (a couple of tablespoons I guess)

500g chocolate custard

1 meringue nest

Squirty cream

Dark chocolate (for grating)

  1. Put swiss roll slices at the bottom of your trifle bowl or individual serving dishes. Douse with Kirsch. Slather the swiss roll with jam.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

exploding chocolate cakes

exploding chocolate cakes

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 butter

225g granulated sugar

4 eggs

225g plain flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

25g chocolate-covered popping candy

For the chocolate sauce:

50g cocoa

50g icing sugar

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

yoghurt tea loaf

loaf cake

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

eggless pancakes with coffee syrup

eggless pancakes with espresso syrup

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:

150g flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

10g sugar

Pinch salt

20g dark chocolate, chopped

1 teaspoon vanilla paste

1 tablespoon water

Whole milk

Large knob of butter

For the syrup:

300ml coffee

150g caster sugar

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

after dinner mints

after dinner mints

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

black forest layer cake

black forest layer cake

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 butter

70g black cherry jam (I like Tiptree)

2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

350g flour

200g cocoa

For the cream:

700ml double cream

300ml mascarpone

180g caster sugar

To finish:

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)

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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

  1. Whip the cream to soft peaks, and reserve about a third of it.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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

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.