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Guilt-Free Recipe for Easter

Looking for something different and guilt-free for Easter? Look no further than these Chocolate Cupcakes with Avocado Frosting.

Perfectly light and moist – a great alternative to the heavier Easter treats around. Using avocado in icing might sound strange, and I suppose it is a little strange, but surprisingly it works! And they’re egg and dairy free so even your vegan friends can enjoy a treat at Easter!

Have a look at our Publicity Assistant, Gemma, making up her batch at home:

The Recipe, in black and white

Makes 24 mini cupcakes (12 servings)

Per serving:
Fat: 4.5g (of which saturates: 0.8g)
Calories: 111kcal
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 12 minutes

For the chocolate cakes:
240ml/8fl oz/scant 1 cup almond milk, plus extra for the frosting
1 tsp cider vinegar
185g/6½oz/heaped ¾ cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract (optional)
250g/9oz/2 cups self-raising flour
30g/1oz/ ⅓ cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the avocado frosting:
2 ripe avocados
4 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
2 tbsp clear honey
a little almond milk, to loosen

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and line two 12-hole mini-muffin tins with paper cases.
  • Mix together the almond milk and vinegar in a large bowl and stir well, then leave to one side for a few
    minutes to curdle.
  • Beat in the sugar, oil, vanilla extract and almond extract, if using, and whisk until frothy.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix together well.
  • Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin tins, filling the sections three-quarters full. Bake for 10–12 minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  • To make the frosting, scoop out the avocado flesh into a small blender or food processor (or bowl and
    work with a hand-held blender).
  • Add the cocoa powder and honey and process until smooth, then gradually add a little almond milk, a drop at a time, until the mixture just begins to hold its shape.
  • Spoon the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm star nozzle and pipe the frosting onto the centre of the cakes in a nice high peak. (You don’t need to cover the entire surface as this would add too much icing and therefore too many calories.)
  • Peel back the paper and enjoy – the great thing is they are so mini you can eat two!

 

GuiltfreeBaking

Gee Charman

Guilt-Free Baking

£16.99 | available from Nourish Books

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Hot chocolate soufflés for your Bonfire night!

Guy Fawkes failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament saw the beginning of the 5th of November anniversary, still celebrated in the United Kingdom with fireworks, bonfires and parades. This is a perfect night to spend with friends and a warm chocolate idea! Try the hot chocolate soufflés, a recipe extracted from our book Chocolate by Jennifer Donovan.
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 20–23 minutesSouffle_168

Ingredients:
melted butter, for greasing
80g/23/4oz/1/3 cup caster sugar, plus extra for coating
2 tbsp cornflour
250ml/9fl oz/1 cup milk
100g/31/2oz dark chocolate, broken into pieces
3 eggs, separated, plus 2 whites icing sugar, sifted, for dusting

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 190˚C/375˚F/gas 5. Grease 4 x 200ml/7fl oz/3/4-cup capacity ovenproof cups with melted butter and coat lightly with sugar.
  • In a small bowl, mix the cornflour to a paste with 2 tbsp of the milk. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the remaining milk with the chocolate and 3 tbsp plus 1 tsp of the sugar over a low heat. When the chocolate has melted, whisk in the cornflour paste, using a hand whisk. Continue whisking until the mixture boils and thickens, then turn down to a simmer and cook for 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes before beating in the egg yolks. Set the mixture aside to cool completely.
  • In a large bowl, whisk all the egg whites to soft peaks, using an electric hand mixer, then add the remaining sugar and continue to whisk until stiff but not dry. Gently fold the whisked whites into the chocolate mixture, using a metal spoon, and divide equally between the prepared cups.
  • Bake in the hot oven for 15–18 minutes, or until the soufflés are well risen. Remove from the oven, dust with icing sugar and serve immediately.

To get more delicious chocolate recipes, take a look at Chocolate by Jennifer Donovan.

chocolate_minijkt_UK-300x454

Jennifer Donovan
Chocolate
Available from Nourish Books
£9.99

 

 

 

Ingredient Spotlight/ Cocoa

Extract from Chocolate  by Jennifer Donovan.

Cocoa beans, from which chocolate is derived, are a product of the cacao tree. This is believed to have originated in the tropical areas of South America, although the exact location is a source of some dispute. A relatively delicate plant, the cacao tree needs protection from wind and a good amount of shade; it usually bears fruit in the fifth year of cultivation in natural conditions. Although there are about 20 different varieties of cacao plant, only three are widely used in the making of chocolate—Forastero, Crillo, and Trinitero.

The fruit of the cacao plant, known as “pods,” contain between 20 and 50 cream-colored beans, and it takes about 400 beans to make just one pound of chocolate. The beans are fermented, dried, cleaned, and roasted. Then the roasted beans are ground to produce a thick cacao liquor, or cacao mass, and finally pressed to extract the fat, known as cocoa butter.Intro_103

Cacao liquor and cocoa butter are the essential ingredients
 in any chocolate product, and the amount included varies from around 25 percent of the product’s weight up to approximately
80 percent, occasionally more. Other ingredients, including sugar, vanilla, and milk, are added to the chocolate before it goes through the final processing stages. Generally, the sweeter the chocolate, the more sugar has been added and the less cacao liquor and cocoa butter it contains. The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the higher the cacao liquor and cocoa butter content; this is widely considered to be a superior chocolate. However, chocolate preferences vary between individuals, so it is best to experiment with what you have available to see which you prefer.

Types of Chocolate
There are a number of basic categories of chocolate. The first
is dark chocolate, sometimes referred to as bittersweet or semi- sweet chocolate, or couverture. This is designed for both eating and cooking. Look for chocolate with a high cocoa content (usually marked as a percentage on the label). Ideally, the percentage should be somewhere between 70 and 85 percent, although it is important to remember what you are ultimately using it for.

The most readily available chocolate tends to range between 60 and 70 percent, which renders good results, though higher percentages do exist.

Milk chocolate, also commonly available, generally contains less than 3 percent cocoa butter and has sugar, milk powder, and vanilla added. It is not as successful in baking and cooking as dark chocolate, but you can use it as a substitute in mousses, fillings, drinks, and cookies, particularly if they are destined for children, who prefer the less bitter flavor. Again, for the tastiest results, look for good-quality milk chocolate—many manufacturers use vegetable oils, artificial flavors, fillers, and milk solids in their products. Organic varieties of chocolate are a good choice here.

White chocolate, another widely available product, is technically not chocolate at all because it does not contain cacao liquor—it is made from cocoa butter, sugar, milk, and vanilla. Although not a pure chocolate, white chocolate is still very popular and gives good results in cooking.

Cocoa powder and chocolate drink mixes are also derived from chocolate. ‘Dutch-processed’ cocoa, where the cocoa is treated with an alkali to give a slightly different flavor and a darker appearance, is considered to have the best taste. Cocoa powder
 is derived from the pressed cake that remains after most of the cocoa butter has been removed. It may have 10 percent or more cocoa butter content. Most commercial chocolate drink mixes (which are designed to be made into hot or cold drinks) are usually made from a mixture of cocoa powder and sugar. Both cocoa powder and chocolate drink mixes have their uses in cooking,
but, as with chocolate, the quality does vary, so experiment with the different brands and buy the best you can afford.

To know more about chocolate and be guided through a range of delicous chocolate recipes, take a look at Chocolate by Jennifer Donovan.

chocolate_minijkt_UK-300x454

Jennifer Donovan
Chocolate
Available from Nourish Books
£9.99

 

 

 

Chocolate-dipped dried fruit (genius!)

chocolate dipped dried fruits - a delicious snack
 

We’re willing to convince ourselves that dried apricots, pears and pineapples dipped in dark chocolate is a healthy option – please don’t disillusion us! Great for lunch box treats or nibbles with friends this weekend.

 

Chocolate Dipped Dried Fruit

 

Makes: 24 chocolates
Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus chilling
Cooking time: 5 minutes

250g/9oz dark chocolate, broken into pieces
24 pieces dried fruit, including apricots, pear and pineapple

 

1) In a small saucepan, heat the chocolate over a low heat until just melted, then remove from the heat and stir until smooth.

2) Wipe the dried fruit with paper towels, and dip each piece in the melted chocolate to cover halfway. (If the chocolate runs off without making a nice coating, leave it to cool for a few minutes, then try again.)

3) Place the dipped fruit on a baking tray lined with baking paper, and refrigerate for approximately 30 minutes until the chocolate has set.

If chocolate is your weakness Chocolate gives you a superb collection of delicious, luxurious recipes, all of which are easy to follow and simple to make. Whether you’re looking for the perfect way to end a dinner for your family and friends, or just an indulgent treat for yourself, you’ll find a delicious array of options.

 

A chocolate recipe book

Chocolate by Jennifer Donovan

208 pages • Illustrated • £14.99

AUS $28.00 NZ $35.00

 

£14.99 l Buy the book now!