Chocolate Baked Alaska

Because everything is better with chocolate….

I remember my mum making baked alaska when I was little. Once. Not sure why she never made it again because I seem to remember thinking it was awesome. And when discussing how best to charm the Mother-In-Law, hubby decided that baked alaska sounded like an Impressive Thing. So here we go.

Ingredients

Chocolate Sauce
100g caster sugar
100g butter
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
125g 70% cocoa chocolate
75ml water
1 tbsp cocoa

baked alaska
ready made chocolate brownies (I used a full pack of Gu brownies)
50ml vanilla liqueur
3 large scoops of good quality chocolate icecream
3 large scoops of good quality vanilla icecream
3 egg whites
75g caster sugar

1. Preheat oven to 220C/425F/Gas7.

2. Chocolate sauce: Place sugar, butter and vanilla seeds in to a saucepan and heat over a medium heat until melted and combined.

3. Add chocolate, water and cocoa and heat for about 6-8 minutes until chocolate melted and sauce is thick and glossy.

4. Baked alaska: Crumble brownies and press in to the base of an 8″ oven-proof dish.

5. Drizzle over vanilla liqueur, then add a couple of tablespoons of the chocolate sauce.

6. Pile icecream in the centre, away from the edges, and then place in freezer to keep chilled.

7. Whisk egg whites with 25g of the sugar until thickened. Add 25g more of sugar and whisk until combined. Add the remaining sugar and whisk until the mixture forms stiff peaks.

8. Remove dish from freezer and spoon meringue over the icecream, making sure the icecream is completely covered.

9. Bake in oven for 3-4 minutes until meringue starts turning golden brown.

10. Serve with generous quantities of chocolate sauce.

Serves 4

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Wattleseed Panna Cotta

I love wattleseed. A natural taste combination of coffee, chocolate and hazelnut – how can that not be a good thing? The only problem has been trying to get it in the UK. Sure, you can order from overseas, but at eye-watering prices and doubtful delivery; or maybe I just haven’t been looking in the right places. Be that as it may, I found some at my new favourite online spice store* and could not wait to use it in something.

But what?

Spices yay!

I have very fond memories of an astonishingly good wattleseed creme brulee that my sibs came up with once upon a time. Mmm.. and really nothing to distract from the wattleseed flavour. Ideal! But I’m downright afraid of creme brulee – it requires custard and double boilers and shallow pans of water in the oven. Something simpler. Panna cotta?

I’ve never made panna cotta; I really haven’t encountered it much at all, in fact, and the idea of using gelatine has always been somehow intimidating. I’m not sure why; a brief experiment with it some years ago did not end well – mostly because it smelled awful and put me right off. However, I wanted to make something that would really showcase the wattleseed flavour and panna cotta seemed right. So, an experiment. Here’s what I came up with.

Ingredients:

1 cup double cream
1/2 cup milk
40g caster sugar
3 leaves gelatine*
3 tsp ground wattleseed

You will need something to set the dessert in. I used 4 ramekins.
* The gelatine I used specifies 4 leaves per 1 pint liquid (soft set).

Method:

1. Put the gelatine leaves into a shallow bowl and cover with cold water.
2. Put the cream, milk, sugar and wattleseed in a small saucepan and heat, stirring, to near boiling.


3. Strain the infused cream into a jug. Wattleseed is like coffee grounds; you really don’t want it in your smooth, silky dessert. Strain through a fine sieve to leave a few flecks in the cream; strain through muslin to remove it all. (Note: I failed to strain this first attempt properly, because I was distracted being anxious about the gelatine. My panna cotta has sediment. It’s not awful, but I’ve never been one for crunching on coffee beans and would prefer it grounds-free – your mileage may vary.)
4. The gelatine should have become all soft and wobbly by now. Fish it out and stir into the hot cream, it should dissolve nicely.
5a. Optional: if you want to unmould the desserts later, oil the ramekins with flavourless oil!
5. Pour the mixture into ramekins, and let cool. When cold enough, pop into the fridge. Let set for minimum of 3 hours.
6. To serve, if unmoulding then run a knife round the ramekin and upend on to a plate. Otherwise, just provide a spoon!

(* http://www.thespicery.com)

Simple Chocolate Pudding

Remember what chocolate pudding used to be like? Before Gü, before Hotel Chocolat, before “Single Estate 99% Cocoa Hand Cultivated Individually Kissed” snobchocolate? Heck, do you even remember when hot chocolate was a drink you made on the stove, with cocoa and sugar and milk? Yes? No? Well, let me take you back….

This pudding is not truly a pudding. Not really. It’s actually cocoa, the hot drink, thickened up to spoonable levels. It’s wonderful.

Simplez.

Ingredients:

2 cups milk (preferably whole)
4 tbls cocoa
2 – 4 tbls sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
2 – 4 tbls cornflour (depending on how thick you want it. 2 for cocoa, 4 for pudding..)

Method:

1. Measure out the dry ingredients into a heavy saucepan and mix them all up together as well as you can. Mind the dust. *kaff*
2. Add the milk and whisk the whole mess together as well as you can. It will look awful. Not to worry. Just mix that sucker up.
3. Put the saucepan on a medium heat and start stirring/whisking. Do not stop.
4. First the whole thing will smooth out into something that looks like hot chocolate.

Still quite thin.

5. Then as it comes towards a boil, the cornflour will start to kick in and it will thicken up nicely.

It goes noticeably darker, and the whisk will leave a distinct trail.

6. When it’s all bubbling away and as thick as it will go (you never stopped whisking, right?) it’s done. The whole performance basically only lasts as long as it takes to bring the mixture to a boil.
7. Decant into appropriate containers and serve. Be careful!

This should probably be served in pretty cups or ramekins. Alas for my lack of elegant crockery!

I’m deeply tempted to mix up a batch of the dry ingredients and store them in a jar, ready for sudden chocolate cravings. The mix I used (4/4/4) weighed 95g; so maybe 50g for 1 cup of milk, which would make a *generous* serving. Will have to experiment!

Enjoy!