Chocolate and hazelnut bundt cake

Chocolate and hazelnut bundt cake
I nearly forgot to blog about this one! It was my fiancé‘s birthday at the end of July, and I decided to make him a cake involving his all-time favourite combination: chocolate and hazelnuts.

I found a recipe for chocolate and hazelnut bundt cake on the Dolly Bakes blog and attempted to do my best with it. It was a little bit involved and made a LOT of cake mix – I actually ended up with a fair amount mix of all over the bottom of the oven. I assume my bundt tin is smaller than average, so be warned!

The best thing about the cake is the layer of Nutella running through the middle – you make this happen by putting some of the mix in the tin, then throwing some Nutella in and topping this with the rest of the mix. I also chucked in some roughly chopped milk chocolate chunks instead of chocolate chips – I just think they’re so much nicer.

Chocolate and hazelnut bundt cake
Unfortunately, I had a bit of a disaster when turning out the cake thanks to the annoying nature of bundt tins, even when they’re very well greased and floured. Luckily, I could hide the cracks with lots of icing!

Despite the cake’s somewhat messy appearance, it went down extremely well with my fiancé – he said it was one of his favourite cakes out of all the ones I’ve ever made (and I’ve made A LOT). I don’t know if I’d make this again just because it seemed to take ages to get to grips with, but I suppose I better had for the sake of good future marital relations!

Chocolate and hazelnut bundt cake

Chocolate orange Ferrero Rocher brownies

Chocolate orange Ferrero Rocher brownies
I came across this recipe for Ferrero Rocher brownies a few days ago, and couldn’t stop thinking about it. There’s something rather amazing about the thought of a squidgy, decadent brownie with a Ferrero Rocher in the middle! Yesterday, I decided to just go for it and make them, albeit with a little Christmassy twist – hence these chocolate orange Ferrero Rocher brownies.

I adapted a trusty brownie recipe I use a lot to make the cake itself, adding the zest of an orange and replacing 100g of the dark chocolate with some Milka Noisette chocolate I just so happened to have in. I also threw in some chopped hazelnuts at the last minute. Then I followed the suggestion of the recipe I found and put half the mix in the tin, studded it with the Ferrero Rochers, then put the rest of the mix on top.

Chocolate orange Ferrero Rocher brownies

Chocolate orange Ferrero Rocher brownies, pre-topping and baking

The brownies took a while to cook – I would say about an hour overall. But they were still beautifully moist and not in the least bit dry when they came out of the oven.

Chocolate orange Ferrero Rocher brownies
I couldn’t wait for them to cool! When they finally did, I was in chocolate heaven. The orange zest is absolutely lovely with the chocolate, and the chopped hazelnuts and decadent middle add a nice bit of texture. These really are brownies for the serious chocoholic in your life, and could also make a wonderful Christmas treat thanks to the festive orange. You could also omit the chopped hazelnuts and use a dark chocolate orange in place of some or all of the chocolate – the choice is yours!

While I’ve reserved a few of these for myself, I’m going to take the rest with me when I go to visit my boyfriend in a little while – he absolutely loves both chocolate orange and hazelnuts, so I’m thinking these will be a big hit!

Chocolate orange Ferrero Rocher brownies
The recipe

Makes 16 brownies

  • 250g dark chocolate (around 70% cocoa solids)
  • 100g hazelnut-flavoured milk chocolate (or use more dark chocolate, or orange-flavoured chocolate, or whatever you like!)
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • grated zest of 1 orange
  • 3 large eggs
  • 250g light brown sugar
  • 85g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 50g chopped toasted hazelnuts (optional)
  • 16 Ferrero Rocher chocolates

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 3/160C/140C fan. Grease and line a 20cm square tin.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl set above a pan of simmering water. Stir in the zest, set aside and leave to cool slightly.
  3. Whisk the eggs until pale then add the sugar and whisk again thoroughly.
  4. Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.
  5. Sift in the flour and baking powder, add the hazelnuts if using, and stir until just combined.
  6. Pour just over half of the mix into the tin, embed the Ferrero Rochers into the mix then pour over the rest of the brownie mix.
  7. Bake for about 1 hour, checking the brownies after 40 mins in case your oven is better than mine!
  8. Once the brownies look set on top, remove them from the oven and leave them in the tin to cool for at least 1 hour before slicing them up.

Chocolate porter cake

Chocolate porter cake

It struck me a few days ago that it’s been a while since I’ve made a good ol’ chocolate cake. Not one to settle for any old chocolate cake recipe, I hunted for something a little bit different and came across a rather wonderful recipe for chocolate stout cake.

This promptly became chocolate porter cake due to the availability of said drink in my house (there is a difference between the two). I’ve baked with porter before with great results. I was a little worried that the rich chocolate would overpower the flavour of the porter, but that was very much unfounded.

Chocolate porter cake

The cake was very easy to make. The porter is infused at both the cake and icing stages – you melt the dark chocolate with the porter for the cake, and then the milk chocolate with the porter for the icing. I didn’t have any light brown sugar so I made do with a mixture of golden caster sugar and dark brown sugar.

I did have to bake the cake for about 20 minutes longer than the recipe states, so be warned! I would also recommend sifting the flour – the recipe doesn’t specify this and I ended up with a slightly lumpy batter.

Chocolate porter cake mix

Chocolate porter cake mix

Do be sure to leave the cake to cool in the tin for a while before turning it out – I didn’t leave it for long enough and ended up taking lumps of the underside of the cake away with the base of the tin!

The icing was similarly easy to make and spread very easily without being overly runny. I would say that the recipe makes a lot of icing and you could probably get away with making two-thirds or even half the amount.

Chocolate porter cake

The cake did turn out beautifully in the end. The sponge was light and very chocolaty, but with a distinct porter flavour, while the icing was, er, the icing on the cake. I would heartily recommend this recipe if you want to make a chocolate cake with a difference for a special occasion!

Chocolate porter cake

The recipe

Can be found on the BBC Food website here (I substituted the stout for Asda Extra Special Porter).

First bake: spiced beetroot, apple and hazelnut muffins

Spiced beetroot, apple and hazelnut muffins

Beetroot has recently become one of my favourite vegetables. I’ve always liked it, but I’ve tasted or used it in a few recipes over the last few weeks and am amazed at how versatile it is. So, today, I decided to bake this recipe that I’ve had my eye on for a while to see just what else the beetroot can do.

The recipe seems fairly simple on first glance, but be warned: it takes longer than you think to grate a pile of apples and beetroot! The effort is well worth it, though. Once you’re at the point where you can throw the grater into the sink/dishwasher, it’s just a matter of whipping up the dry and wet mixes and folding them together. Then, the rather wonderful crunchy hazelnut topping is made – this is sprinkled over the muffins in their cases before baking.

Spiced beetroot, apple and hazelnut muffin mixes

Left: hazelnut topping, right: raw muffin mix in cases

The recipe calls for 3 heaped teaspoons of mixed spice and 1 tsp of cinnamon altogether, but I found out too late that I didn’t have any cinnamon, so I just added more of the mixed spice. Another substitution I made was ready-packed toasted chopped hazelnuts for the blanched hazelnuts, just to save time.

The muffin mix seemed pretty wet to me; I think this is because of the amount of beetroot. The recipe rather unhelpfully calls for ‘a pack of cooked beetroot’, which could mean anything! I used a 250g pack, which I now think is a bit too much, so I would recommend you use 150-200g if you make this recipe. There also seemed to be LOTS of the topping mix, but it turned out to be just the right amount!

Spiced beetroot, apple and hazelnut muffins

I left the muffins in the oven for a few minutes longer than the 20 specified in the recipe, because of the wet mix. I had one warm not long after taking them out of the oven, and it was scrumptious! As I suspected, the muffin itself is very moist, but flavoursome nonetheless; I think it would be spicier if less beetroot had been used, however. The topping is what makes the muffins really sing, though – the sweet, nutty crunchiness complements the fruity apple and beetroot perfectly!

This really is a brilliant autumn recipe and one I would recommend if you have a hankering for something comforting but a bit different for your next bake. Just make a note of my changes to the original recipe to make the muffins really perfect!

Spiced beetroot, apple and hazelnut muffin

The recipe

From Vegetarian Living magazine here: http://www.vegetarianliving.co.uk/recipes.php?do=view&recipe=541

First bake: hazelnut wafer cake

Hazelnut wafer cake

My boyfriend is a bit of a hazelnut fiend, especially when said nuts are combined with chocolate, so I knew I had to make this recipe as soon as I spotted it in Dan Lepard’s Short & Sweet. It’s quite a summery bake, what with the meringue-style wafers and dollops of whipped cream, but it’s by no means unsuitable for the colder months!

I had to make this in two stages – the wafers on one day, and the chocolate cream on the next. The wafers are made with a meringue-like mixture of whipped egg whites and sugar, with flour, butter and hazelnuts stirred into it. I have to say it took me a loooong time to get the egg whites and sugar to a suitable consistency; I’ve never had to spend so long whisking before (and this was with an electric whisk)! To my relief, the mixture eventually came together and it was then just a matter of adding the other ingredients, spreading them into circles on the baking trays and sticking them in the oven.

Hazelnut wafers

Hazelnut wafers

The wafers ended up being quite meringue-y in appearance and texture, yet very wafer-like in taste. I assume this was the flour and butter coming into play, but it was a still a little odd! There’s no picture in the recipe book, so I just had to hope that’s what they were supposed to look like. Unfortunately, the wafers stuck extremely fast to the trays (even though I’d slathered them in butter), so there was a fair bit of breakage around the edges, which is why the finished cake looks pretty untidy!

So, the next day it was on to the cream. This was surprisingly faffy – I had to heat some sugar, cocoa and egg yolks together, leave it to cool for exactly 2 minutes, stir in some chopped chocolate and then stir a whole mess of whipped double cream into and it and chill it in the fridge. I ended up with chunks of chocolate in the cream where it didn’t manage to completely melt as I stirred it in, but this was no bad thing in my opinion! I then had to make a smaller batch of vanilla cream and proceed with the tricky business of layering the wafers and cream together.

I say tricky, because I am notoriously bad at making layer cakes look neat. The irregular shape of the wafers and the huge amount of cream didn’t help my cause with this bake, but I did my best! I spread the chocolate cream on three of the four wafers, then dolloped the vanilla cream on the same wafers, before piling them on top of each other, finishing with the ‘clean’ wafer. A quick sprinkling of icing sugar and voila! One very messy, calorific and delicious cake.

Hazelnut wafer cake

The cake was truly scrumptious – the wafers were chewy in the middle yet with a decided crunch to the outside, and the two types of cream combined wonderfully with the nutty and cocoa-y flavours. The wafers did soften after a day, but the cake was still lovely to eat! It disappeared in record time (and that’s saying something for my household), which is testament to just how moreish the cake was.

The recipe

From Short & Sweet by Dan Lepard and also in his column for the Guardian.

First bake: goat’s cheese, hazelnut and raisin cake

Goat's cheese, hazelnut and raisin cake

Savoury bakes seem to be controversial for certain people, for some reason. I can’t understand why – if you want a sweet cake, go and have one, but don’t carp on at those of us who like to have something different every now and then!

My favorite savoury baking recipe to date is Dan Lepard’s courgette and mozzarella muffins, but this goat’s cheese, hazelnut and raisin cake recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall could give those trusty muffins a run for their money. I recently acquired a proper loaf tin and quite fancied baking something new in it – and being an avid fan of all things cheese-related, I quickly settled on this recipe.

The recipe has quite a long list of ingredients, but the cake is surprisingly easy to make in spite of this. It uses the method of adding wet ingredients to dry, and the important thing is to not over mix it, much like with muffins.

Goat's cheese, hazelnut and raisin cake mix

Goat’s cheese, hazelnut and raisin cake mix

The resulting mixture is very thick, and I had to push it into the corners of the tin. It baked in 45 minutes as specified in the recipe, which is always nice! (I tend to get fairly distressed when my baking time differs from the recipe).

The first thing that hit me when I opened the oven was the delicious smell of two kinds of goat’s cheese (hard and soft) cooking away. Goat’s cheese is generally very mild, but it seems to become much stronger in flavour after cooking. The texure of the cake is more akin to that of a tealoaf than an actual cake, in my opinion, which is probably down to the lack of butter.

Taste-wise, it’s a bit of a sensation – you can certainly taste the cheese, but the hazelnut chips in before that becomes too overwhelming, and both are nicely complemented by the delicate sweetness of the raisins (which are the big olive-like things you can see in the first picture – they swelled up massively in the oven!).

Goat's cheese, hazelnut and raisin cake

This was a definite hit and something I would make again. My boyfriend suggested that it would be a nice alternative to bread with soup, and I also think that would work well. I can’t wait to try more savoury cakes – HFW’s recipe for carrot and feta cake will probably be next on my hitlist!

The recipe

From Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Guardian column here.

Re-bake: cinnamon Nutella cake

Cinnamon Nutella cake

It was my turn to do the charity baking for work this week, so I settled on two tried-and-tested favourites – courgette and mozzarella muffins, and this rather delectable cinnamon Nutella cake.

It’s super easy to make – no sifting, no separate wet and dry mixes, etc. Just throw everything into a bowl, stir, layer the mix with dollops of Nutella in the tin, and bake. Now that’s my kind of cake.

Cinnamon Nutella cake mix

Cinnamon Nutella cake mix

The cake was perfect after an hour in the oven, although there was some very slight leaking of melted Nutella from the bottom of the cake when I pulled the baking paper off – but that’s probably due to the fact I always put in a bit more Nutella than the recipe calls for (it, erm, stops me eating quite so much straight from the jar).

Cinnamon Nutella cake mix in tin

Cinnamon Nutella cake mix in tin

I actually used Morrisons own-brand hazelnut and chocolate spread this time, but I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between that and Nutella, apart from the lovely lower price, of course.

The cake itself has a nice thick crumb (due to the lack of sifting!) with a fairly strong cinnamon flavour and some luscious mouthfuls of ‘Nutella’ at the bottom (if anyone can come up with a way to stop the spread sinking to the bottom during the baking, please let me know!).

Cinnamon Nutella cake

This is an excellent cake to make if you’re in a rush, or just have a longing for some cakey Nutella goodness. There was some cake left over after the sale, which means I get to enjoy a piece as a rare treat this weekend (let’s gloss over the number of WeightWatchers points it contains…!) – lovely!

The recipe

On the BBC Good Food website here – http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1688/cinnamon-nutella-cake