Traditional Black Forest Cake

black forest cake easy dessert recipe chocolate cherry and cream gbbo

I am not normally one for big cream cakes, they can be a bit rich for my tastebuds. But with some cherries in the fridge that needed using up, a hankering for something chocolatey, and guests coming to dinner – well who was I to argue!
I made this cake a few weeks ago when Rob’s parents were over for dinner, using a lighter version of a well-known brand of double cream. It came from the supermarket but I can’t find a link anywhere. It worked just as well as the normal stuff, and being lighter, meant we could tuck into big fat slices without feeling (as) guilty.

For some reason a lot of people think of Black Forest cake/gateau as something best consigned to the recipe books of the 70’s and 80’s. Having made it on this occasion I’m in complete disagreement, it’s tasty, looks good and is easy to make – who wouldn’t want that on their dinner table! The cake is very rich and chocolatey, and complemented perfectly by the sweet, tangy cherries, and smooth fresh cream.
Originally I think you’re supposed to make one big cake and slice it in half, I much prefer just to bake in two separate tins.

Black Forest Cake
175g caster sugar
175g butter
3 eggs
125g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
50g cocoa powder
150g fresh cherries, plus extra to decorate
50g sugar
150 ml cream, whipped
100g chocolate, ideally dark

– To make the cake, cream together the butter and sugar, before beating the eggs, and finally folding in the sieved dry ingredients.
– Divide into two greased, lined 7 inch (or similar) sponge tins, and bake at 180 degrees for 20 – 30 mins, until springy to the touch
– While the cake is cooling make the cherry filling by chopping the cherries, adding to the sugar and simmering on a low heat for 5 minutes.
– Use a teaspoon to take a couple of spoonfuls of the liquid from the cherries and spoon over the cakes, allowing it to soak in. Set the rest of the cherries aside and leave to cool.

dark chocolate rich cake for black forest gbbo european Black and red cherry syrup black forest gateau recipe cake

All that’s needed now is to assemble the layers – cake, cream, cherries, cake, and finished with a chocolate topping.

I found it easier to do the chocolate topping and decoration before assembly (melt the chocolate bar one piece, spread evenly all over the cake and quickly press in the cherries):

black forest cake chocolate topping with fresh cherries and stalks and grated chocolate

Once this was set, filling and stacking was quick and easy!

oozing cherries and cream on black forest rich chocolate cake assembled recipe black forest cake fresh cherries and rich chocolate cream filled

I love the way some of the cherry juice tinges the cream purple – so you know it’s delicious and sticky inside!

black forest cake oozing middle with cream and fresh cherries recipe #greatbloggersbakeoff2014 european

As only seems fitting I am entering this into #greatbloggersbakeoff2014 European Cakes week. And a fun fact while I’m at it – did you know that the cake is not named after the Black Forest area of Germany itself, but instead after the cherry liqueur, produced in the region, that was originally used in the recipe.

I’d love to have tried one of the Princess Torte’s – how amazing did that look? But time was not on my side this week. Maybe next time… I am a princess after all 😉

greatbloggersbakeoff2014

 

 

Black Forest Chocolate and Cherry Cupcakes

black forest chocolate and cherry cupcakes fruit flavoured cocoa powder from sugar and crumbs review uk natural ingredients

Last week, the lovely folk over at Sugar and Crumbs sent me over a selection of their products to try. Expecting just a couple of packets in a jiffy bag, imagine my delight when I opened this lovely goodie bag!

sugar and crumbs natural icing sugar cocoa powder bloggers goodie bag test and review

If you haven’t heard of Sugar and Crumbs, they are a UK based company, offer all-natural flavoured icings sugars and cocoa powders. The selection they sent me are some of their newest – salted caramel, and coffee icing sugars, and a cherry cocoa powder. Their range of products is already flavour-tastically diverse, and seems to be growing all the time.

sugar and crumbs uk natural ingredients company icing sugar and flavoured cocoa powder

As much as I wanted to just get a spoon and eat the salted caramel sugar, lack of time meant I stuck with a good old-fashioned chocolate cake as my first test, using the chocolate cherry cocoa powder.

sugar and crumbs natural icing sugar coffee salted caramel and chocolate cherry cocoa powder

It looks and bakes exactly like a normal cocoa powder, but with the addition of a sweet cherry tang.

sugar and crumbs chocolate cherry cocoa powder review

To get the most out of the flavour, the recipe enclosed suggested using a standard sponge recipe, substituting one quarter of the flour for cocoa powder. The result – a light, intense chocolate mixture, which baked into rich and fluffy cupcakes.

Once cool, I wanted to keep the topping for the cupcakes sweet and simple. What could complement the chocolate cherry flavour better than chocolate… and a cherry!

I melted down a big bar of dark chocolate, then carefully dipped in each cherry about halfway, holding by its stalk. This is such a satisfying process!

dipping red cherry into dark chocolate food porn

Carefully placing the chocolate cherries onto some greaseproof paper, they went into the fridge for a little while to set.

chocolate dipped cherries with stalks baking ideas black forest cupcakes

Once the cherries were set, I topped the cupcakes with a couple of layers of chocolate. Leaving the first layer to set for about a minute, before spooning on the second, gave it just that little time to set and create the ripple effect. And to finish – a cherry on top!

black forest chocolate and cherry flavoured cupcakes with dark chocolate icing and fresh fruit

The finished cupcakes, simple but very yummy! And the taste? Well the cherry flavour is subtly sweet against the rich chocolate. All in all a great easy twist on a standard cherry cupcake. I look forward to trying more of the Sugar and Crumbs range soon!

dark chocolate and cherry black forest cupcakes flavoured cocoa powder from sugar and crumbs review

Disclaimer – the products in this post were provided by Sugar and Crumbs for review. However all opinions are entirely my own.

Home-Made Ferrero Rocher & Low-Fat Chocolate Truffles

Show me a woman and I’ll bet you she can give you an excuse to eat chocolate. I had a bad day at work. It’s Friday. I had a good day at work. Because I want to.

Well – I am happy to give you another one – and be warned, you’ve probably got some catching up to do – it’s National Chocolate Week! After you’ve finished dancing around I’m afraid I must tell you there are only 2 days left (it runs in the UK until 14 October) so best start pronto.

I wanted to make something quite simple mid-week just as a treat for Rob and I. But I was also conscious that we’re on a bit of a health kick (at the gym by 6.30am, twice already this week, yes I was), so didn’t want to make something that was just going to pile the pounds straight back on.

Inspired by this recipe from health-foodie, I set about making some truffles. They’re not something I’ve made before but require no baking and give you a lot of free rein to experiment with flavour, so seemed perfect.

I must apologise that there are no work-in-progress or step by step photos to show you with this post. But you must understand, it’s a very sticky job.

Likewise, after a while I had to stop weighing my ingredients because everything was sticking to my hands rather than staying on the scales. So – take the recipe with a pinch of salt (not literally) and don’t be afraid to experiment.

Basic low fat chocolate truffle recipe (makes about 6 bite-sized truffles)

40g dates
40g prunes
20g dark chocolate, melted
10-15g cocoa

Assorted sprinkles and coatings

You’ll also need: a Food processor

The basic idea for this recipe is to put everything in the food processor and combine it to a smooth, chocolatey paste. I started with the fruit, making sure this was very finely chopped, before adding the melted chocolate then the cocoa.
As you want quite a stiff mixture, your processor might start to complain after adding the cocoa and not really move very fast at all. If this is the case, don’t force the food processor to carry, just take out a spoon and finish mixing.

You want the final texture to be soft and sticky enough to roll into balls. Don’t be afraid to taste, test, and adapt. Add more cocoa if it’s not chocolatey enough, a tiny splash of water or milk it’s too dry, or some icing sugar if it’s a bit wet.

Then simply roll in your coatings, refrigerate for at least an hour and enjoy!

Clockwise from top I used: cocoa powder, crushed hazelnuts, chocolate sprinkles and pink glitter (glimmer) sugar.

For the 2 chocolate coatings I just used the chocolate mixture plain:

With the pink glitter sugar I decided to flavour the inside, using a splash of amaretto and some dried dark cherries (plus a little more cocoa to balance out the extra liquid). These were probably my favourite, a crunchy sugar shell, moist, almondy inside with chewy cherries. Yum!

Onto the pièce de résistance – hazelnut truffles or homemade Ferrero Rocher (I didn’t even realise this until after I’d made them!) While rolling up the balls of chocolate mixture I placed a whole hazelnut in the middle, then coated the outside in crushed hazelnuts (I would have used the food processor to chop them more finely but it was rather full of chocolate goop…)

I can definitely understand now why people often say they make truffles as gifts at Christmas etc. They are so simple to make, inexpensive, easy to store, but have a great wow factor and just need a pretty little box to perfectly show them off.
Anyone on my Christmas list… clear some space in the fridge!

Baked Cherry and Amaretto Cheesecake

Did you know that yesterday was National Cheesecake day?

What better way to celebrate than with this fruity, boozy, sticky number – and it’s low fat too!

I’d promised a while ago to share my recipe for this, so, no time like the present. Personally I don’t normally get the scales out for my cheesecakes, because the recipe always follows pretty much the same format, and you don’t really need to weigh much out, but I’ve detailed as best I can.

This will make a mini cheesecake as per the pictures, about a 4-5 inch diameter round, but you can easily double or triple the quantities for a bigger one.

Ingredients

– 5 low fat digestive biscuits
– 1 teaspoon low day spread (e.g. I can’t believe it’s not butter)
– 150g extra light cream cheese (1/2 pack of philadelphia)
– 130g low fat yoghurt (1/2 a muller light or similar)
– 1 teaspoon sweetener or 1 tablespoon sugar (to taste)
– 1 egg
– flavouring – go wild! Think chocolate, fruits, liquor… If you add anything wet you may need to increase the baking time slightly.

You will also need a springform (loose bottom) baking tin – this is essential! I cannot imagine how you’d ever get the cheesecake out of a normal tin…

Instructions

– crush the biscuits finely, and mix with the melted butter. Press firmly and evenly into the bottom of your tin. Put the tin into the fridge for a few minutes while you make the cheese part.
– beat together the cream cheese, yoghurt, sugar/sweetener, and, depending what you’re using, the flavouring, until there are no lumps and it’s completely smooth
– taste! The sweetness very much depends on what type of yoghurt you use, whether it’s sugar or sweetener, and your flavouring. Make sure you are happy that there’s a good balance of creamy cheese, flavour, and sweetness
– add the egg and just mix in – i.e., if you can still see a few bits of unmixed egg, this is fine. Don’t over mix here!
– carefully pour the cheese mixture over the biscuit base. If it doesn’t all fit in the tin, don’t fill it right to the brim, leave a good few millimetres gap, as it will rise a little and bubble during cooking.
– put in oven, middle shelf, at 180 degrees C for 15 minutes. (If you’re doing a large cheesecake, say, double the mixture, it will need much more time – 25-30 mins at least to start off with)
– after 15 minutes, check your cheesecake. Do not touch it or insert a skewer! You want it to be ‘just set’ – if you wobble the tin slightly, is it still quite liquidy in the middle? If so, give it another 5 minutes
– the ‘just set’ texture is similar to blancmange – it’s ok for it to wobble a bit, if you’re not sure give it a little more time, it is a very moist cheesecake anyway so you’d struggle to make it dry and overcooked.
– when you’re happy that it’s set, take the tin out of the oven and place somewhere to cool. Take a knife and very carefully run it all the way around the edge, between the tin and the cake. The cheesecake will shrink slightly as it cools, so this allows it to form nice neat edges.
– depending how it impatient you are, let it cool slightly / completely (either is fine tbh), then carefully open the springform pan, and pull the top off. Use a knife / fish slice or similar to carefully lift the base of the tin away from the cheesecake. Do this over a plate, push the knife in and down onto the tin slowly and carefully, so you don’t break up the biscuit base.
– et voila! Depending on your chosen flavour you may want to add a topping, as I have done with this one. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. Generally it will keep for a good 4-5 days in the fridge, keeping it covered. If you use fresh fruit perhaps a little less.
This variation was made with

– my new heart shaped springform tin!
– a good slug of amaretto in the batter
– chopped black cherries in the bottom half of the batter
(to get the layered effect, bake the bottom half for 5 minutes before adding the top section)
– brown sugar to complement the amaretto (I use Tate and Lyle’s Light at Heart a lot of them time when cooking for Rob and I – it is expensive but you can’t put a price on our waistlines :-))
– some very alcoholic cherry topping! Melted butter and brown sugar, boiled up with amaretto and more cherries, until it was thick and sticky

The layers didn’t stay very well defined, because the cherry colour was strong, but I love the way the fruit sank to give a graduated colour. Totally unplanned!

And inside – lots of yummy stickiness 🙂

Needless to say, it didn’t last long! Maybe I could claim it’s cheesecake week and make some more…?!