Friday, 31 October 2014

Earl Grey Chocolate Torte and Spooky Poached Pears

I really enjoy getting creative in the kitchen at Halloween and have been churning out endless quantities of bat and pumpkin shaped gingerbread biscuits this year. I also love a good blood splattered cupcake or eyeball cocktail. Earlier this week, however, I produced a slightly more grown-up autumnal feast for a few friends and after serving up some delicious roasted pumpkin and feta alongside slow roasted lamb I rounded things off with this lovely chocolate torte.

By using ground almonds instead of flour this deliciously moist chocolate cake is naturally gluten free and a little injection of earl grey prevents the cake from getting too sickly. The original torte recipe came courtesy of BBC Good Food and I only tweaked it very slightly to make it dairy free too (but go check out the original too). I was then inspired by the latest in-store Tesco magazine to decorate this delectable treat with a few spooky poached pears to add to the Halloween spirit. And it proved to be a delectable desert for some semi-sophisticated adults….although I’m sure it would go down with your common spooks and ghouls pretty well too!!


2 Earl Grey tea bags
100ml almond milk
250g dark chocolate
200g dairy free margarine
140g ground almonds
6 eggs (separated)
200g caster sugar

Heat the oven to 180°C / 360°F.

Line the bottom and sides of a 22cm diameter, loose-bottomed, cake tin with greaseproof paper ensuring the paper rises above the rim of the tin to allow the cake to rise right up.

Heat the almond milk in a heat proof jug in the microwave for approximately 30 seconds until warm. 

Split the teabags and empty the tea leaves into the milk. Set aside to infuse.

Place the chocolate and margarine in a heat proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (ensuring the bottom of the bowl doesn’t come in contact with the water). Once melted and fully combined remove the bowl from the heat and add the almonds, egg yolks and cooled milky tea (along with the tea leaves. Stir until combined and set aside.

In a separate, clean bowl beat the egg whites using a hand blender until soft peaks begin to form. Then add the caster sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is thick and glossy and peaks of the mixture stand on end when you remove the mixer.

Add a large spoonful of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture and gently fold together. Repeat until all of the egg whites are combined with the chocolate mix, begin careful not to overwork the mixture.

Transfer to the cake tin and bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes until just firm (although there can still be a slight wobble in the middle of the cake). Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the tin. This can easily be made the day before you want to eat this cake...although probably best to decorate it just prior to serving!


5 Pears (I used conference)
400ml apple juice
200g caster sugar
150g dark chocolate

On the day you are planning to eat your torte place the apple juice and sugar in a pan and place over a medium to low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved.

Peel the pears and place into the simmering apple juice mixture, allow the pan to bubble away for 15 minutes before removing from the heat. All the pears to cool completely in the syrupy apple juice before you fish them out.

Meanwhile melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Once melted spread the chocolate out on a greaseproof piece of paper laid out in a baking tray. With a little bit of the melted chocolate shape it into disks and small blobs for the scary pear eyes and mouths. Place somewhere cool and allow to set.


Place the torte on a plate.

Carefully pat the pears dry on a bit of kitchen roll to remove excess moisture. Using a little melted chocolate if necessary, decorate the pears with the discs of chocolate made for their mouths and eyes after removing these from the greaseproof paper.

Arrange the pears in the centre of the torte (using them all to support each other).

Using a large sharp knife slice the remaining chocolate into shards and arrange around the outside of the torte (again securing with a little melted chocolate is needed)…and voila, you are ready to impress your guests!

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Ginger and Blackberry Swirl Ice Cream

This blog post is going to follow a trend of recent (or as the case may be not so recent) posts, with me apologising for not blogging for months, listing excuses centred around life getting in the way of things, then presenting an ice cream recipe. Perhaps I should just change this to an ice cream blog, it is very apparent that I have more than a slight obsession with the frozen delightful creaminess.

This time around I have modified a basic recipe from the Guardian website injecting a little warming ginger punch and swirl of blackberries to the original recipe. And what is missing from this recipe you may ask…..well there is no cream in this ice cream recipe! A custard base is made just with milk and a little additional milk powder to apparently give ‘volume without weight’.

This ice cream is great served up with a warm autumnal apple crumble, or a fig tarte tatin as I did. You never know I might even get around to posting that recipe sooner rather than later….as long as life doesn’t get in the way too much!!

Oh and I’ve submitted this to Kavey over at Kavey Eats for her Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream challenge too.


1 pint whole milk
50g skimmed milk powder
4 egg yolks
90 g caster sugar
Thumb sized piece fresh ginger

250g blackberries (I used fresh, picked from local hedgerows, but frozen will be fine)
50g sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon vodka

For the ice cream base add the milk, milk powder and 2 teaspoons of the sugar to a large saucepan. Peel the ginger, slice into a couple of chunks and add to the milk. Place the saucepan over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Once bubbling reduce the heat and allow to simmer gently for 5 minutes before removing from the heat. Set the mixture aside for 30 minutes to allow the ginger to infuse.

Place the egg yolks (you can freeze the left over egg whites for later use or could try out one of these recipes straight away to use them up; choc chunk cookies, English muffins, chocolate hazelnut ice cream) and the rest of the sugar into a large mixing bowl, and using a hand mixer, whisk for about 10 minutes until the mixture if light and airy and has increased in volume.

Reheat the milk mixture until simmering and then slowly pour into the mixing bowl with the egg mixture, continually stirring as you do so. Then return all of the mixture to the saucepan and place over a low heat, again stirring continually until the mixture begins to thicken slightly.

Transfer the custard to an ice cream tub, cover the surface with cling film (this is to help prevent a skin forming) and allow to cool completely before transferring to the freezer.

After about half an hour remove from the freezer and whizz the mixture up with a hand blender, then return to the freezer. Repeat this process three more times at 30 minute intervals.

Whilst undertaking this freeze-whizz-freeze-whizz process place the blackberries, water and sugar into a small saucepan, place over a medium heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until the berries start to cook down. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before stirring through the vodka.

After the final ice cream churning swirl through the blackberry mix. Return to the freezer for a further hour before tucking in.