I have been doing my best lately to be a bit more health-conscious. Having spent the best part of this year totally immersed in cooking lots of rich, buttery, salty food (a.k.a. ‘fine dining’), taking a step back and making a concerted effort to eat better seemed like an appropriate summer resolution.
However, there have been some notable set backs. Like this chocolate cherry cream pie. Yes, all those things, together. In a pie. I brought this along to a friend’s dinner party recently and accidentally put everyone into a food coma and lugged myself home with a renewed commitment to leafy greens.
Having said that, it was pretty tasty, so do give it a go. After all, life really is too short not to eat pie and sometimes an indulgence is just what the doctor ordered. Just maybe serve a salad first.
By the by, heart-shaped dish, below, was a birthday gift from my cousins and is made by the Swedish company, Bruka.
Chocolate Cherry Cream Pie
as ludicrously decadent as it sounds…
You will need:
100g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
110g butter, fridge cold and cut into cubes
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp double cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
200g cream cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla
60g caster sugar
200ml double cream
Cherry or raspberry jam (I used sour cherry jam, you could also make your own compote*)
1 punnet black cherries, pitted
Small bar of very dark chocolate
1. Sift flour and cocoa into a large bowl. Add the sugar and salt.
2. Work in the butter to consistency of breadcrumbs, either by transferring to a magimix or by hand.
3. Add yolks, cream and vanilla and mix well. Bring dough together on work surface, shape into a flat round, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate. If dough seems very dry and like it won’t come together add a little more cream (1/2 teaspoons at a time)- be careful not to add too much cream, though, it should not be sticky or it will be impossible to work with.
4. Preheat oven to 200 C. Dust work surface liberally with cocoa. Roll out pastry to the thickness of 1/2 cm. Line a x cm pastry or flan tin. A loose-bottomed cake tin will also do. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
5. Blind bake your pastry case- approx 15 min** and allow to cool completely. Meanwhile, make your filling. Beat cream cheese with vanilla and sugar. Add cream and whisk to form soft peaks. Refrigerate until needed.
6. To assemble, spread jam over the base of the pastry case. Add the cream cheese mixture. Arrange cherries over the top and finally grate over some dark chocolate.
* Simply pit a large handful of cherries and place in a pan over a low heat with a little lemon juice and sweeten to your liking. Simmer until soft and oozy.
**At the risk of sounding patronising, but just in case- Place a crumpled circle of baking parchment into the case/on top of the pastry. Fill with beads, beans, lentils, rice, whatever you have to hand. Bake in the oven until pastry is almost cooked and the sides have set. Remove the parchment and beads/beans/lentils/rice/whatever you have to hand and continue to bake until bottom has cooked too. The exact timing of this will depend on your oven and thickness of the pastry.
I made these for Ed, our old flatmate, on his birthday. He likes coffee and good chocolate, so when I stumbled upon this recipe for Mocha Fudge Brownies, it seemed like the gods were trying to tell me something. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite have enough time to let the chocolate set properly (or even to take a decent photograph, as the above attests), so the results were pretty gooey. Forks would have been appropriate. However, Ed, being a clever sort of fellow, told me he later froze the remains that hadn’t been devoured at his party. I can only imagine that the resulting ice-cream sandwich-like treat must have been heaven- like a coffee flavoured frozen mars bar. A tip!
Mocha Choc Brownies
90g good quality chocolate (at least 60% cocoa solids)
170g dark brown sugar
3 tbsp coffee-flavoured liqueur or very strong espresso
1 tsp vanilla
100g plain four
2 tbsp 100% cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
75g butter, softened
260g icing sugar
2 tbsp coffee-flavoured liqueur like Tia Maria
2 tbsp very strong espresso
120 ml whipping cream
1 tsp golden syrup
160g good quality chocolate (at least 60% cocoa solids)
1. Heat the oven to 175 degrees C. Line a square tin with baking paper and grease.
2. To make the brownies, melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Leave to cool while you combine the brown sugar, eggs, liqueur or coffee and vanilla in a small bowl.
3. Add this to the cooled melted chocolate. Stir in the flour, cocoa and salt, whisking until you have a smooth, thick batter.
4. Pour into your prepared tin and smooth the top to even out. Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes.
5. Leave the cake to cool while you make the frosting. Beat the butter, icing sugar and coffee flavour in a medium sized bowl. Use an electric mixer if you have one. You can adjust the flavouring if you like, adding more coffee or sugar. Put in the fridge for at least an hour.
6. To make the chocolate glaze, combine the syrup, cream and chocolate in another bain marie. Stir until the chocolate has melted and all the ingredients have combined to form a shiny, smooth mixture.
7. Once the brownies have completely cooled, frost with the coffee icing. Refrigerate until set. Finally, carefully spread over the glaze to form three layers- brownie, frosting, glaze. Pop in the fridge until ready to serve.
I was working as an assistant on a shoot for M&S recently, using ingredients from their Simply range. It was a digital campaign and so really fascinating to watch as it came together- the results are coming to a website banner near you soon.
I particularly enjoyed the wonderful food from the caterers they use on their shoots, but totally forgot to get their names. Apart from a glorious array of salads and nibbles, there were some absolutely beautiful flapjacks with coconut, oozing dark chocolate and dried cherries.
As the shoot coincided with the end of the cherry season, I decided to make the most of it and re-create the golden little beauties using fresh cherries. The results are rather worth a crack, I think.
125g butter, plus a bit more
1 tbsp golden syrup
125g porridge oats
50g dessicated coconut
1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/ gas mark 4. Grease the baking tray with a little extra butter.
2. De-stone the cherries and chop roughly. Be careful not to get their deep purple juices on your clothes as they stain like a mother.
3. Roughly chop the chocolate.
4. Melt the butter and syrup in a pan over a low heat. Combine the oats, coconut and sugar in a large bowl.
5. Pour the melted butter and syrup over the dry and ingredients and mix to soak all the oats completely. Mix in the cherries and the chocolate.
6. Pour into your prepared tin and bake for about 20-25 minutes.
7. Cut into squares while still warm and leave to cool before tucking in.
|Goodbye, Stockholm. Hello, Archipelago.|
|Mormor’s chocolate cake.|
|On Mormor’s balcony|
|Time for some coffee and cake in the archipelago town of Vaxholm|
|Cake at Hembygdsgården, Vaxholm|
|The streets of Vaxholm|
|Picking berries- rasp and blue|
|A-foraging we will go|
|Breakfast on the back porch.|
|Blackcurrants in the garden|
|Crepes with blackcurrant jam and crepes|
|Afternoon tea on the veranda. The view.|
|A slice of princess cake- sponge, jam, custard, cream and green almond paste. What’s not to love?|
|Burgers and beer on the jetty.|
|Crayfish party in the local park|
|Old timer band take to the bandstand.|