food for thought

by michelle

Posts Tagged ‘chocolate

salted chocolate cheesecake

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The chocolate content in this recipe makes this more like eating chocolate fudge than cheesecake. It’s very rich but the salt balances the sweetness. If you’re cooking for a large group this is no-bake, can be prepared 2 days ahead and will go a looong way!

To make the crust place a packet of plain sweet biscuits in a food processor, add half the weight of the biscuits in softened butter and process until all the butter is incorporated. Press into a lined 23cm (9″) springform cake tin and set aside in the fridge. For the filling use a stand mixer with a paddle. Combine 1⅓ cups of cream cheese, ¾ of a cup of sour cream, ¼ of a cup of light brown sugar, ¼ of a cup of cocoa powder, 3 tablespoons of softened unsalted butter, 2 teaspoons of vanilla and ½ a teaspoon of kosher salt. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Meanwhile melt 400g (14 oz) of 70% dark chocolate and allow it to cool slightly. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium low, pour in the melted chocolate and mix until combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared crust and chill for at least 30 minutes. Serve sprinkled with flaky sea salt.

*recipe adapted from this one



Written by michelle picker

July 3, 2019 at 12:17 am

Posted in cakes & desserts

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flourless brownie

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This is rich, delicious and my favourite brownie. Easy to make too.

Melt together 200g (7 oz) of 70% dark chocolate, 650g (23 oz) of butter and 50g of cocoa powder until smooth and glossy. In another bowl whip 2 large or 3 small eggs with 150g (5½ oz) of caster sugar. Add this to the chocolate mix and transfer to a baking paper-lined tray. Press walnuts into the mix (optional) and bake in a moderate oven until firm.

Written by michelle picker

April 10, 2019 at 12:06 am

hazelnut, ricotta and chocolate cake

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Here’s another cake from Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh’s SWEET. Instead of mini cakes with chocolate ganache I opted for one 6″ cake and kept it plain. This cake performs a balancing act between hazelnut cake and baked ricotta cake. With little dots of dark chocolate throughout it’s dense, super moist and keeps incredibly well. Oh, and did I mention yummy?

Preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF) and grease and line a 22cm (8″) cake tin. Toast 250g (8¾ oz) of blanched hazelnuts in the oven for 10 minutes and cool them completely before processing them with 35g (1¼ oz) of plain flour until you have hazelnut meal. Set aside in a bowl. Now process 100g of dark 70% chocolate until it’s the size of coarse crumbs and addit to the hazelnut meal along with 100g of ground almonds and mix well. Increase your oven heat to 190ºC (375ºF). Using a paddle in a mixer, cream 200g of butter with 250g of caster sugar until light and creamy. Add 6 egg yolks, one at a time until well mixed. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in 400g (14 oz) of ricotta cheese, 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla essence and ¼ of a teaspoon of salt (don’t add this if you used salted butter). In a clean dry bowl whisk 6 egg whites until you have stiff peaks. With a large spatula fold the egg whites into the cake mixture in a few batches. Transfer the mixture to the prepared cake tin and bake in the oven for approximately 60. The cake should colour a little and a tester should come out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the tin a little (until the sides of the cake pull away from the tin) before removing to a cake rack to cool. Sprinkle with powedered sugar to serve.


Written by michelle picker

November 28, 2018 at 12:25 am

chocolate and brandied prune terrine + walnut tuiles

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Rich with dark chocolate and with a good hit of brandy, this was the perfect dessert for a French menu. The addition of a walnut tuile added some buttery crunch.

I always keep a jar of brandied prunes – a jar filled with pitted prunes and topped up with brandy. The prunes taste better and better as they age and the brandy becomes a gorgeous syrup. If you don’t yet have any brandied prunes, place 300g (10½ oz) of pitted prunes in a bowl or jar. Gently heat ⅓ of a cup of brandy (this will slightly speed up the process) and pour it over the prunes. Allow them to steep overnight. To make the terrine you will need a terrine or an oblong container to make a long narrow loaf shape. Lightly oil it and line it with cling wrap. In a double boiler over simmering water (or on low power in the microwave) melt 180g (6⅓ oz) of chopped dark 70% chocolate and stir it until smooth. In another bowl beat 90g (3 oz) of butter and 45g (1½ oz) of sugar by hand until light then add 3 tablespoons of sifted cocoa powder and mix well. In a separate bowl beat 3 egg yolks with another 45g(1½ oz) of sugar until light and fluffy. Add the melted and slightly cooled chocolate to the butter mixture then fold in the egg mixture and finally fold in 225ml (7 fl oz) of thick cream. Add the prunes (I chopped mine into smaller pieces) with any remaining brandy and fold everything together until well combined. Transfer into the prepared mould, cover the top with overhanging plastic and chill until firm. To serve, use a hot knife to cut into thick slices and serve with crème fraîche. For the tuiles, preheat your oven to 180℃ (350ºF). Combine 200g (7 oz) of sugar, 45g (1½ oz) of flour, 135g (4¾ oz) of melted butter, 30g (1 oz) of finely powdered walnuts and 100g (3½ oz) of finely chopped walnuts. Spread the batter onto a silicone mat or baking paper in small disks (they will spread) and bake for approximately 10 minutes or until the edges are browning. Lightly grease a rolling pin, carefully remove the hot tuiles with a palette knife and lay them over the rolling pin to set into a curl. Cool and store in an airtight container. 

*adapted fro this recipe

Written by michelle picker

July 11, 2018 at 12:13 am

flourless mini chocolate cakes

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Another recipe from SWEET  by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh. We ate these delightful little cakes while they were still slightly warm. With a thin crispy crust, they were moist and light on the inside and had a wonderful deep chocolate flavour. The amazingly glossy chocolate ganache was not so easy to make but tasted great and looked amazing!

For the cakes preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF) and grease 12 muffin tins or mini bundt pans. Separate 5 large eggs, placing the whites in the bowl of a mixer. Over a double boiler melt 200g (7 oz) of dark 70% chocolate and 180g (6⅓ oz) of butter – the recipe stipulates unsalted butter but mine was salted. Whisk the mixture and when melted add 80g (2¾ oz) of caster sugar, 160g (5⅔ oz) of ground almond meal, the 5 egg yolks, 1 teaspoon of instant coffee dissolved in a teaspoon of boiling water and 5 teaspoons of Amaretto – I didn’t have any so I used Frangelico instead. Stir to combine. Now add a whisk attachment to your mixer and if you’ve used unsalted butter add ¼ of a teaspoon of salt to your egg whites. Beat on high speed until you have soft peaks. Continue to whisk while slowly adding 80g (2¾ oz) of caster sugar until the mixture is light and firm. Spoon a little into the chocolate to loosen the mixture then gently fold in the rest. Here the recipe suggests resting the mixture for an hour but as I was short of time I divided it into my muffin tins and baked it for 20 minutes, turning the tray after 10 minutes to ensure even baking. Depending on your oven efficiency they may take a few minutes longer. Cool them in the tins for 10 minutes before turning them out. For the ganache measure 85g (3 oz) of dark chocolate into a bowl. In a small saucepan over low to medium heat combine 35g (1¼ oz) each of caster sugar and liquid glucose. Stir to combine and when the sugar melts, increase the heat to medium and cook until it turns a pale amber colour. Remove from the heat and carefully pour in 60ml (2 fl oz) of water. If the mixture seizes return it to the heat and stir gently to dissolve. Add the scraped seeds of ½ a vanilla pod and stir through. Pour this caramel mixture over the chocolate, allowing it to sit for 5 minutes then whisk to combine. While whisking add 35g (1¼ oz) of room temperature butter bit by bit until the mixture is smooth and shiny. If you find the mixture is too stiff, add a little boiling water to loosen it. When the cakes are cool enough, spread some ganache over each one allowing it to dribble down the sides. Cool and enjoy!

Written by michelle picker

March 28, 2018 at 12:07 am

mint chocolate and pistachio cake + fresh mint ice cream

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A wonderful combination of dark mint chocolate, crumbly biscuit and crunchy pistachios takes this hedgehog-style cake to the next level. And fresh mint ice cream is the perfect addition. Thanks to Yotam Ottolenghi for the cake recipe and to Deborah for making it! The ice cream recipe is from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer.

For the cake soak 100g (3½ oz) of sultanas in 2 tablespoons of rum for 30 minutes. Line a 28cm x 18cm (11″ x 7″) baking tray or glass dish with greaseproof paper. Set a large heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water and add 100g (3½ oz) of mint-flavoured dark chocolate, 200g (7 oz) of dark 70% cocoa solids chocolate (both roughly chopped into 3cm pieces), 100g (3½ oz) of golden syrup, 120g (4¼ oz) of unsalted butter cut into 2cm (¾”) cubes and ⅛ of a teaspoon of salt. Make sure the bowl isn’t touching the water or the mix will get too hot and split. Heat and stir for two to three minutes until melted and combined. Add the sultanas and their soaking liquid, 170g (6 oz) of roughly broken digestive biscuits and 75g (2½ oz) of roughly chopped pistachios and mix until everything is well coated. Transfer it into the lined tray and smooth the top. Sprinkle with an extra 25g (¾ oz) of crushed pistachios and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Cover the tray and refrigerate for two to three hours. When set, cut into strips and store in an air-tight container in the fridge. Serve cold. For the mint ice cream measure 2 cups of milk. Take out 2 tablespoons of the milk and make a slurry with 6 teaspoons of cornflour (cornstarch). Heat the remainder of the milk in a saucepan with 1¼ cups of heavy cream, ⅔ of a cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of glucose (in Australia I use this in place of light corn syrup). Bring to the boil and allow it to simmer for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour in the cornflour slurry. Stir, return to the heat and allow to thicken. In another bowl whisk 3 tablespoons of softened cream cheese with ⅛ of a teaspoon of salt. Pour in the hot milk mixture and whisk until smooth. Now tear a bunch of fresh mint leaves into the hot mixture and cool the mixture down in an ice bath. When the mixture is cold strain out the mint leaves and freeze with an ice cream machine, sorbetiere or even over ice and salt. If you have flexible silicone moulds, transfer the nearly set ice cream into them for ready-to-serve portions.

Written by michelle picker

January 24, 2018 at 12:35 am


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I was researching sous vide cooking when I came upon some information on Serious Eats about tempering chocolate by that method. I had to try it. It was certainly easy but not absolutely necessary, as you can see in Three Ways to Temper Chocolate. My first attempt was nice and crunchy, melted nicely in the mouth and had a good shine.

My moulds were small round silicone ones and I painted the chocolate in with a brush which was not too wasteful and worked well. I decided on two different fillings. For the first I soaked dried cherries in vodka for a day or two and then added some shredded coconut. The cherries were quite sour and needed some sugar. The second filling was made from natural salted crunchy peanut butter, sweetened a little with powdered sugar and watered down to a good consistency. When the chocolate shells were set, I heated a small frypan and used the bottom to melt the first half of each chocolate flat. When I’d mounded in as much filling as I could I melted the second half and stuck the halves together. The only problem was that the chocolates were a little too large, if that’s a problem!

Written by michelle picker

November 22, 2017 at 12:19 am