A Chocolate Bûche de Nöel with Salted Caramel

Some kind of Chocolate Log is a Christmas tradition in our house, Sometimes I cheat and buy a 'good' one, but this year decided to make it. The cake is a chocolate Genoise sponge and the filling has salted caramel in it - one of my favourite things - and it's covered with a great chocolate icing/ganache.

For the Genoise sponge: 

Preheat oven 200C/gas6                   Grease and line a swiss roll tin with baking paper.

Separate 4 eggs. Beat the yolks with 100g of caster sugar till pale and fluffy.
In another bowl sieve together 120g plain flour, 4 tbspn cocoa powder and 1 tspn baking powder and fold into the batter.
Beat the egg whites till stiff then fold them gently into the cake batter.
Spoon into the tin and level the top.
Bake for 10 mins.
Take out of the oven and roll the sponge up using the baking paper to help you. Leave it on a rack to cool.

For the Caramel Cream:

In a bowl mix together 200g of mascarpone with 6 tbspn of salted caramel [I bought a jar in Waitrose] using a fork.

Unroll the cooled sponge and spread the caramel cream over the top, then re-roll and put in the fridge.

For the chocolate icing:

Melt 100g dark chocolate [or a good cooking chocolate] with 80g butter which has been cut into cubes.

Bring 50ml of double cream to the boil; take it off the heat then add the chocolate mixture and 100g of sieved icing sugar. beat together till you get a smooth icing, then let it cool.

Take the Bûche out of the fridge and cover with the icing, then put back in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. 

My daughter did the fancy lines round it and added the decoration - a few marzipan fruits on the top and so I could take a photo, but we took them off again so I could freeze it till the big day. Hope it freezes ok - will let you know how it tasted!


Spicy Chocolate, Butterscotch and Fruit Cake

A couple of years ago my lovely Dutch friend sent me some goodies, including some of my favourite speculoos [ or speculaas?] biscuits. I used them in a recipe I found in a French magazine, and decided to make the cake again. It doesn't need any cooking.

125g speculoos biscuits [or any spicy biscuit - the ones they sell in Lidl are good]
4 dried figs, finely chopped
4 dates, finely chopped
2 tbspns sultanas
60g melted butter
200g milk or plain chocolate - broken into small pieces
15cl single cream
2 packets of Werther's originals or other butterscotch sweets

22cm cake tin - preferably a silicone mould

Crush the biscuits and mix them with the dried fruit and melted butter. Press the mixture into the bottom of the tin/mould and put it in the fridge to harden.
Break the chocolate up into a bowl.
Put the cream in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, then pour it over the chocolate.
Stir well till the mixture is nice and smooth. Cool.
Take the base mixture out of the fridge and pour the chocolate over, then put it back in the fridge again to harden [for about 2 hours].
When the cake's ready, put the Werther's into a polythene bag or tea towel and crush them with a rolling pin. Sprinkle them over the top of the chocolate.

Not a very good photo - this is the top of the cake. Good variety of textures - a crunchy, chewy base -  I liked the dried fruit added to the biscuits - then a smooth chocolate layer and finally the crunchy butterscotch topping. Not good for one's teeth, but delicious, and so easy to make! 
 The cake itself isn't too sweet, but the topping is! As it uses dates and figs, could this count towards your 5 a day?!!


Apple and Caramel Upside Down Cake

Have had a bit of a 'lost my cake-making mojo' time lately, but had some apples in the fruit bowl that needed using, so decided I wanted to make one of my favourite desserts - Tarte Tatin - as a cake. I'm a bit of a coward when it comes to making caramel, so used some from a can!

Preheat oven 180C/gas4                             Grease a 18cm springform tin and line the base with baking paper.

Using a tin of Carnation 'Caramel', spread a layer over the base of the tin [think I used about 120g].
Peel and core 2 apples - Coxes or something similar, then slice them and layer them onto the caramel.
Cream together 125g butter and 125g caster sugar till nice and fluffy. Beat in 2 eggs then fold in 120g of sr flour. Add about 2 tbspn milk to loosen the mixture.
Spoon the batter over the apples and bake for 35-45 mins till the cake is risen and golden.
The caramel will be round the sides of the tin!
Cool in the tin for a bit then turn the cake out, upside down, onto the serving plate.
Serve with some nice vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

This is better as a dessert than as a slice of cake, as it's rather sticky. There's a good contrast between the sweet, sticky caramel and the crunch in the apple. Don't cut the apple too thin, then it will still have some bite to it when it's cooked, and not become mushy. A good way to use up a couple of apples.

Gratin de choux-fleur

 I was given a medium sized cauliflower and as it's not my favourite vegetable, struggled to know what to do with it. Have kept a few Fr...