Crumbs and Corkscrews - Fruit and Fudge Chocolate Bark

There’s one word that only has to be whispered that makes my ears prick up and for my nose to start twitching… chocolate! Dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate, flavoured chocolate and chocolate with pieces in; I’m there, getting stuck straight in. Chocolate in our house is lethal, it doesn’t last 5 minutes and Ian has to hide it away somewhere high so I can’t see it and need a chair at least to be able to reach it. The downfalls of being 5ft 1 inch and being married to a 6ft 3 inch chap! He on the other hand finds it all rather amusing and is constantly on the lookout for other ways to hide the chocolate after I’ve rumbled yet another of his hidey-holes.

Anyway, you can imagine my delight when the lovely people at Something Sweet magazine whispered in my ear the magic word… chocolate! And would I like to have a go at learning to temper chocolate with the instructions in the first issue of the new magazine. There really was no hesitation, of course I’d love to; after all it’s chocolate. Oh and I was also interested to see what the magazine would be like, having previously subscribed to it’s sister magazine, Cake Decorating.

Crumbs and Corkscrews - Fruit and Fudge Chocolate Bark

I must admit that when it comes to working with chocolate, I’ve been more of a melt it and use it person as it usually ends up being added into a cake batter or frosting; I’ve never really have had call to properly temper chocolate. I know, I know I’m a cake designer how could I go through life without proper tempering; well I don’t really create ‘chocolate’ cakes in that sense of things.

So when everything arrived to get started with my chocolate masterclass, my mind was whirling with ideas that I could put to the test. But I thought for my first attempt I would be better to stick to the KISS method, keep it simple silly…

Chocolate bark! Simple but effective, so many different variations and flavours, and the added bonus that I can see if my chocolate is shiny and not dull, the sign of good tempered chocolate.

Crumbs and Corkscrews - Fruit and Fudge Chocolate Bark

Having a rummage through the cupboards I came across packets of fudge pieces, chocolate chunks and sultanas. I love fruit in chocolate, especially raisins or sultanas, give me a raisin and biscuit Yorkie bar and I’m a very happy girl. Or how about Green and Black’s sour cherry? Oh yes, you can’t go wrong with adding fruit into chocolate, except for Cadbury’s fruit and nut, and that’s only because I can’t eat it due to the nuts.

As I’d already used up the packet of Oreos I had found, and Ian had hidden again put away for safe keeping, for the centres of truffles, a raisin and biscuit-esque bark was out of the question, and fruit and fudge was on the menu!

Crumbs and Corkscrews - Fruit and Fudge Chocolate Bark

 

Back to the matter in hand… tempering chocolate. I know you’re all full of questions; was it difficult, do I need special equipment, which chocolate should I use, is it messy, and how is it different to just melting chocolate?

Well; yes it was easy, you’ll need a chocolate thermometer but nothing more fancy than that, you’re better off with a good quality chocolate but any will do, and no it wasn’t messy except when I licked the spatula after I’d finished and ended up with chocolate all over my face.

The difference from just melting chocolate is that the chocolate is melted and cooled in a controlled way to make sure that the crystals in the cocoa butter are small and even in size. This means that the chocolate is more stable and doesn’t melt as easily. Also when you break the chocolate you get that lovely snap and a shiny surface, which you can really see on the chocolate bark. If the chocolate isn’t quite tempered properly it can taste grainy or be too soft and melty.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to temper chocolate properly, and also the difference it made to the finish of the chocolate bark; that snap is so satisfying! I’ll definitely be having another go soon, I need to finish off those Oreo truffles I mentioned.

Crumbs and Corkscrews - Fruit and Fudge Chocolate Bark

 

Fruit and Fudge Chocolate Bark

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 1 slab

Simple and easy chocolate bark decorated with fudge, sultanas and chocolate chunks - a great place to start with learning to temper chocolate

Ingredients

  • 300g Dark chocolate, 70% cocoa
  • Fudge pieces
  • Chocolate chunks
  • Sultanas

Instructions

  1. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
  2. In a medium heatproof or Pyrex bowl, break 200g of the dark chocolate into small evenly sized pieces.
  3. Half fill a small saucepan with water, and place over a medium heat.
  4. Bring the water to a simmer and lower the heat.
  5. Place the bowl over the saucepan and ensure the base of the bowl is not touching the water.
  6. Allow the heat to gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally.
  7. Test the chocolate temperature using a chocolate/ candy thermometer; the chocolate should be between 48-49ºC.
  8. Remove the chocolate from the saucepan and wrap the bottom of the bowl in a tea towel. This will allow the chocolate to cool down gradually.
  9. Add the remaining chocolate and allow it to melt gently, stirring occasionally. By adding the chocolate at this point, it helps to give the cocoa butter crystals good. Also the stirring helps to give good crystallisation.
  10. Test the chocolate temperature, and when it has reached 28-29ºC, place the bowl back over the saucepan and gently bring the temperature back to 31-32ºC. Do not allow the chocolate to overheat. The chocolate is now ready to work with.
  11. Working quickly, pour the tempered chocolate onto the baking sheet and holding at the corners gently tilt and shake the sheet to even out the chocolate.
  12. Scatter fudge pieces, chocolate chunks and sultanas all over the chocolate, press down gently on the toppings to secure them into the bark.
  13. Scrape out any leftover chocolate in the bowl with a spatula and drizzle over the top of the bark.
  14. Allow the bark to cool and firm up for at least an hour.
  15. Lift off the baking parchment and break into shards.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge or cool place for up to 2-3 weeks depending on your toppings.

Chocolate bark can be varied in so many different ways; pour a second layer of contrasting chocolate over the first layer for a two toned bark, or experiment with different flavours and toppings. There is no limit!

Something Sweet is now available for subscription through their website, or to buy from all quality newsagents, £2.99 per issue. With thanks to Something Sweet for a copy of their first issue and the chocolate tempering equipment.

Crumbs and Corkscrews - Sultana and Cinnamon Pancakes

 

I’ve been waxing lyrical to anyone that will listen about the simplicity of pancakes recently; making them via FaceTime with my nephew and just generally looking for a quick and simple dessert with fresh fruit and ice cream. I am a complete sucker for a good pancake; even if the fridge is looking bare except for a few staples you can always whip up something reasonably healthy and definitely filling, be it sweet or savoury.

With all the chaos of the last month or so and Easter being later this year, I’d completely forgotten that Shrove Tuesday was fast approaching; this Tuesday, March 4th if it had slipped your mind too.

It was all the pancake pins that had crept into my Pinterest feed over the last couple of days that reminded me that it was that time of the year. And after spending an hour in the dark, under the duvet, whilst Ian soundly slept on the other side of the bed; I finally closed my eyes and dreamt of pancakes for breakfast, wracking my brain about what was in the cupboard.

 

Crumbs and Corkscrews - Sultana and Cinnamon Pancakes

 

I suppose that it didn’t help matters, waking up at 2.30am not feeling particularly great, and then spending another hour on Pinterest looking at pancakes, whilst trying to make myself fall back to sleep. But during this early morning Pin-athon I remembered the lemon and raisin pancakes you could buy in packets, in the supermarket, and how when I nasty bouts of tonsillitis when I was younger, I’d happily devour a packet of these as they didn’t hurt my throat.

So in that moment before sleep and consciousness; you know the one, when you head literally drops with a jolt, I thought about a little variation on my go-to poorly treat, with sultana and cinnamon pancakes. Ta-dah!

I really can’t express how easy pancakes are to make; I think some people are put off by the ‘flipping’. Hands up those of us that have ended up with pancake half in and half out of the pan and batter welding itself to the sides. Yes, me too! Hence why I now prefer to leave the flipping of the bigger, thinner pancakes to my Other Half, and I stick with flipping the smaller, thicker American style pancakes with a spatula.

Whilst these are more a breakfast pancake with the sultanas and cinnamon, the possibilities are endless. Often we’ll have fresh raspberries and ice cream, or just keep strictly traditional with a little fresh lemon and sugar; but we do also go for a more savoury option, think ham, cheese and leek, smoked salmon and cream cheese or a full English breakfast style with bacon, scrambled egg, mushrooms and baked beans. The choice is yours!

 

Crumbs and Corkscrews - Sultana and Cinnamon Pancakes

Sultana and Cinnamon Pancakes

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 12 Pancakes, 1 tbsp of batter

Perfect for breakfast, brunch or supper, these pancakes hit the spot and are low fat for those of us who are health conscious.

Weight Watchers ProPoints - 1PPt per serving

Ingredients

  • 125g Self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp Caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Ground cinnamon
  • 142ml Skimmed milk
  • 1 Egg, medium
  • 50g Sultanas

Instructions

    Making the Batter
  1. In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, caster sugar and ground cinnamon. Make a well in the centre.
  2. Add the egg into the middle of the well, and add approximately 100ml of milk.
  3. Whisk together the dry and wet ingredients, gradually bringing in the ingredients to the centre.
  4. Beat the mixture to a smooth, thick paste.
  5. Add the remainder of the milk and mix well, until all incorporated and smooth and slightly runny in texture.
  6. Set the batter aside to rest for 30 minutes.
  7. Making the pancakes
  8. Spray a piece of kitchen towel with spray-oil, and wipe over the base of a small frying pan or pancake pan.
  9. Place the pan over a moderate heat.
  10. Using a measuring spoon, ladle 1 tablespoon of batter into the middle of the pan and swirl around the pan until you get the desired thickness. My pancakes are about 10cm in diameter and thick.
  11. For thinner pancakes, add 2-3 tablespoons of batter, swirl around the pan to get a thin and even layer and pour any excess back into your batter mix.
  12. Scatter sultanas over the top of the batter.
  13. Depending upon the thickness of your pancake, the underside should start to turn golden brown after about 30 seconds. Gently lift the edge with a palette knife to check.
  14. When ready flip the pancake, either with a palette knife, and cook on the other side for a further 30 seconds.
  15. Turn the pancake out onto a warm plate, eat straight away or build a stack. Add a squeeze of lemon and sprinkle of sugar, or a a drizzle of maple syrup.

The pancake batter can be kept refrigerated for up to 3 days, but is best eaten on the day it is made

You can switch the Skimmed milk for either semi-skimmed or whole milk. Also plain flour with 1/2 tsp of baking powder can be substituted for the self-raising flour.

Instead of the cinnamon and sultana, add chocolate chips or fresh fruits like raspberries or blueberries, or just simply serve with lemon and sugar.

Link up your recipe of the week

Here it comes… finally after 3 weeks of pure out and out chaos, feeling completely under the weather and then some awesome cakes, I’ve put my fingers to my keyboard and there’s posts pouring out of them.

First out of the starting blocks is a round up of all the fantastic entries to January’s Our Growing Edge! With the new year still fresh, there were some great kitchen challenges going on, both sweet and savoury!

Crumbs and Corkscrews - Our Growing Edge Banner



Here come the sweet ones…
Crumbs and Corkscrews - Our Growing Edge Sweet

  • Ian at Bubbleless blog made one of my favourite treats chocolate eclairs, which he says aren’t as difficult as he thought they were! How good do they look, especially with a perfectly brewed cuppa!
  • These egg tarts from Kitty Thunder, that she made to try our her new oven, look just like the ones my Dad used to pick up from our local baker’s. The cats definitely approved. Challenge successful!
  • I’m loving the colour of this homemade Turkish Delight from Sharing the Food We Love, it really compliments the rose water and raspberry flavour. I’m certain to be trying this one out soon.
  • Lisanne from Fairways, Greens and Teas totally rocked these healthy gluten free blondie bars, ticking both the new challenge box for gluten free baking, and the new year health kick box; perfect!
  • And to add to the healthy challenge, Lisanne also created these fantastic 65 calorie gluten free pumpkin brownies. I’d never thought of using pumpkin in brownies before!
  • Sarah from Beyond Stretchy Pants challenged herself to take everyone’s favourite chocolate spread and make it even better in the nutritional value stakes… I give you Hazelnut Cocoa Love.
  • Every wondered what to do with all those egg yolks left over from meringues? Chandler at The International Poor Chef School Project created this traditional Peruvian dessert very similar to a french souffle.



Meanwhile on the savoury side of things…
Crumbs and Corkscrews - Our Growing Edge Savoury

  • How cute do these Onigiri look, from Our Growing Edge founder, Genie at Bunny. Eats, Design! I think I’d easily eat 8 of the hot smoked salmon onigiri, not sure if I could go for the umeboshi though.
  • I was super impressed with Dana at I‘ve Got Cake’s challenge.. veal tongue! It’s not something I’ve cooked with before but Dana’s done a great job!
  • When it’s cold and wintery outside, nothing beats a great pie and Dodge the Cat nailed their first attempt at a fantastic pie using random cuts of meat. Excellent!
  • Mimi’s Mummy stuffed pooris are adorable, and a great to make them different and more interesting by using cookie cutters. Absolutely love them!
  • I must say, I don’t think I’ve seen a more beautiful loaf of bread than Eva at Kitchen Inspiration’s Pretzel Bread: I don’t think I could cut into it! Taking the challenge of creating a different style of bread than those usually seen, this definitely fits the bill.
  • Now here’s a definite challenge, and not one that I’d think of doing; but Nom Nom Panda  doesn’t like throwing things away. This challenge was to use a whole carrot including the greens! It sounds like you need a good pair of jaw muscles to eat them though.
  • Bashful Boo’s Beef Shank and Mushroom ragu is right up my street for a warming winter’s evening supper. I really like the idea of using the beef shank meat and cooking it low and slow. One for slow cooker recipe ideas, I think!
  • Rice and Kai had the challenge of using the takoyaki pan she got for Christmas from her sister, and with a new baby too! I think that the challenge was certainly taken and the results were fantastic.
  • Hayley at Condiments on a City Life was getting to grips with rice for this challenge. I’m guilty of ‘just cooking’ rice but this coconut rice sounds amazing and I’ll definitely be giving it a whirl.
  • And to round up this round up, I give you Carissa’s at Pretty Hungry’s healthier version of chilli made with the super grain Quinoa. I can never pronounce quinoa correctly, as Carissa reminds you it’s Keen-Wa.

I hope that you are inspired to challenge yourself next month and maybe give a couple of these recipes a go.

Thanks to everyone for entering!