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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Chocolate Mousse Cake with Berries

A New Years Eve show-stopper of a cake!
This is luxuriously rich and chocolatey yet is surprisingly simple and quick to make (apart from the chilling time).

You will need a 25 cm springform cake tin, with the base and sides lined with non stick baking paper
Oven 180 degC, 160 deg fan

For the cake:
25g cocoa mixed into a paste with 3 tablespoons boiling water

add to this:
2 large eggs
100g caster sugar
100g self raising flour
1 level teaspoon baking powder
100g soft butter

Whisk using an electric mixer for 1 minute. Spread the mixture into the lined tin and bake for 20 minutes. It will have shrunk away from the sides of the tin a little.
Sit the tin on a wire rack to cool, don't remove the cake from the tin! Sprinkle over 2 tablespoons of rum or brandy while the cake is still warm and let it soak in.

While your cake is cooling melt 300g of dark chocolate (I do this in the microwave in 1 minute bursts, reducing to 10 second bursts) allow to cool a little.

Whip 450 ml cream to a softly peaking stage, then gently fold through the melted chocolate, do this thoroughly until there are no streaks. Spoon the chocolate mousse on top of the cake, smoothing the surface carefully to get a neat finish. Chill for at least 6 hours or overnight in the fridge to firm.

Release the springform clip of the tin and remove the ring. The cake on the pic is straight after the tin was released and sometimes the sides may look a little rough, you can use a hot, wet palette knife and run it around the outer edge in one quick movement to neaten it, but you have to be confident to do this in one action and it helps to put the cake on a turntable.

Dust the top of the mousse with cocoa powder, pile on some berries of your choice. Give it a final flourish of icing sugar over the top of the berries.

Serves at least 12 people, small slices are best. Enjoy!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting & Other Things..........

It's been a very busy week and also a very cold week. I never thought I would see the day when we had the christmas tree up and the fire lit, but we did.

I made Gingerbread Cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting this week, they make the house smell so christmassy while they are baking:

For the cupcakes:
4 oz soft butter
1/2 cup soft brown sugar (packed)
1 egg
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup black treacle
1 1/3 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

For the frosting:
100g cream cheese (full fat)
30 g soft butter
150g icing sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice.

Oven 180 degC/350 deg F

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg then add the treacle and water. The mixture may look like it has split at this point but don't be concerned, it will work out right. Mix all the dry ingredients together and mix them into the butter mixture until combined, then beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Fill paper baking cups 2/3 full and bake for about 20 minutes. They will be risen and nicely brown, when you gently press them in the centre they should spring back. Let them cool in the tins for 10 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.

For the frosting: Mix all ingredients together and mix with an electric whisk for 2 minutes until light and airy. Pipe swirls on top of the cupcakes and decorate as desired. I used snowflake sprinkles. This makes about 18 cupcakes depending on the size of your paper cups.

The postie has been busy at my house this week, delivering parcels and goodies:

An early Christmas Gift.

My holiday colour swap-mini-swap envelope from Annie in The Netherlands, crochet snowflakes for my tree, organic chocolate, mini skeins and a skein of Wollmeise in the most gorgeous shade of red. What a lucky girl I am.

My wonderful colour swap parcel from Aryn in Canada, stuffed full of yarn, fibre and goodies all packaged in the neatest handmade fabric basket.

I'm making slow progress on my cardigan, just not getting enough knitting time lately. Onto the third stripe and have joined in the round for the body part.

My Christmas tree has a bird theme this year.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

December Already..

December is here already, I can't believe it! Yesterday was the first day of Summer for us and what a day it was. Hail storms, rain all day and the fire lit last night. I have never known us to have the fire lit in December.

Christmas is fast approaching and I feel so unprepared. I have mailed gifts home to the U.K. and have done most of my gift buying for family here yet I still have to bake my Christmas cakes (I usually have them done and stored away by the end of October), I have the fruit soaking it's just difficult to find the time to actually bake them. Going to work seems to suck up most of my time these days.

So, with all the 'hundred-things-to-do' swimming around in my head I decided to start knitting a cardigan lol. I'm using some yarn that I haven't tried before:

Cleckheaton Perfect Day DK weight ~ a wool & alpaca blend. It's really nice yarn, soft and light, I think it'll make a perfect BlueSand Cardigan for when the cooler weather returns. The mid grey (12 balls) is for the main part of the cardigan and the darker and lighter shades for the stripes, the yarn was on clearance for $7 per ball, a real bargain.

The red roses from my garden are making me feel quite Christmassy, they are the most stunning shade of red, have the sweetest perfume and the blooms are really large. I would love to know what variety they are.