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Saying It With Chocolates And Roses

 

 

I love the pairing of chocolate and rose as a flavour combination. It works really well and tastes divine. So you can imagine my delight when I came across some recipes featuring the two.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge chocolate fan – who isn’t? But I also really like the delicate flavour of rose – the sweet fragrance alone is deliciously tempting. It’s not a common flavouring in most parts of the world, being more popular in Asia and the Middle East. In the UK, it’s probably more commonly known for being used to flavour Turkish delight and rose creams. However in the Far East where my mum comes from, it’s used to flavour a whole variety of sweet things including cakes, biscuits, ice-creams, jams, jellies, milk puddings and drinks. One of my favourite drinks is a rose milkshake made with a delicious rose syrup. My mum prefers to dilute the syrup with water to make a type of rose squash.

 

I’m not surprised that it’s not as popular here in England as it’s a very difficult flavouring to get right: too little and you won’t be able to taste it; too much and it will taste as though your food has been laced with air freshener! It’s got to be spot on. But when you get it right it’s just like the flower itself – beautiful.

So I found three gorgeous recipes which combine both chocolate and rose together. They’d be perfect for Mother’s Day, St. Valentine’s Day, romantic meals – any occasions in which roses and chocolates are synonymous. But of course you can make them any time you want simply because they look and impressive and taste amazingly good!

CHOCOLATE WHOOPIE PIES WITH ROSE MARSHMALLOW FILLING

Makes 10-12

 

INGREDIENTS:

COOKIES

  • 60g – 2¼ oz unsalted butter diced plus extra for greasing
  • 120g – 4¼ oz golden caster sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 20g – ¾ oz cocoa
  • 125g – 4½ oz plain flour
  • 1 rounded tsp baking powder
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp milk

MARSHMALLOW FILLING

  • 1 medium organic egg white
  • 75g – 3oz white caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp sieved fresh orange juice
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • 5 pink marshmallows halved
  • pink food colouring optional

METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
  2. Butter two baking sheets.
  3. In a food processor, cream together the butter and sugar until well blended, then incorporate the egg.
  4. Sift together the next three cookie ingredients and add to the mixture followed by the remaining cookie ingredients.
  5. Mix until well combined.
  6. Drop rounded teaspoons of the mixture on to the baking sheets spaced about 7cm l 2¾ in apart to allow for spreading.
  7. Bake until just risen and firm without crisping at the edges – they should be soft and slightly cake-like in texture.
  8. Loosen them immediately with a spatula and leave to cool.
  9. If not assembling on the day store in an airtight container.
  10. Place the first four filling ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk using an electric hand-held whisk until combined.
  11. Set the bowl over a pan containing a little simmering water and whisk the filling at high speed for 5 minutes or until thick and moussey.
  12. Add the marshmallows and stir for several minutes until beginning to melt.
  13. Then whisk until smooth and combined, adding a little food colouring if wished to achieve your desired shade of pink.
  14. Remove from the heat.
  15.  Sandwich the cookies in pairs with about a teaspoon of the filling, matching the top and bottom sizes as evenly as possible.
  16. Set aside for an hour for the filling to set.

CHOCOLATE AND ROSE PETAL JAM VICTORIA SPONGE

 

Makes 1 x 20cm (8″) cake

INGREDIENTS:

CAKE

  • 225g (8oz) diced unsalted butter
  • 200g (7oz) golden caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 200g (7oz) self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 25g (1oz) cocoa sifted
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 100ml (3 ½ fl oz) milk

FILLING & TOPPING

  • about 125g (4 ½ oz) rose petal jam or good quality pink or red jam of your choice
  • 350ml (12 fl oz) double cream
  • pink food colouring optional

METHOD:

  • Butter a 20cm (8in) loose-bottom cake tin at least 7cm (2 ¾ in) deep.
  • Heat the oven to 190C/170 C fan oven/gas 5.
  • Place all the cake ingredients in a food processor and cream together, about 3-4 minutes, until completely smooth.
  • Transfer the mixture to the cake tin, smoothing the surface.
  • Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  • Run a knife around the cake and leave to cool in the tin, then turn out.
  • For the filling, work the jam in a bowl to loosen in slightly.
  • In another bowl, whisk the cream with a couple of drops of pink food colouring until just starting to form soft peaks, taking care not to let the cream turn buttery.
  •  Slit the cake horizontally into three layers using a bread knife.
  • Spread the bottom layer with half the jam, and then half the cream. Repeat with the middle layer using up the remaining jam and cream and set the top layer of cake in place.

CHOCOLATE ROSEWATER MOUSSE

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 125g – 4½ oz dark chocolate about
  • 70 per cent cocoa broken into pieces
  • 2 medium organic eggs separated
  • 25g – 1oz caster sugar
  • 100ml – 3½ fl oz double cream
  • few drops rosewater to taste

METHOD:

  1. Gently melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan containing a little simmering water.
  2. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff using an electric whisk, then sprinkle over the sugar a tablespoon at a time, whisking well with each addition until glossy.
  4. Fold the egg yolks into the whisked whites.
  5.  Flavour the cream to taste with rosewater and fold into the chocolate in two goes.
  6. Now fold in a third of the egg mixture to loosen it, and then the remainder in two goes.
  7. Spoon or pipe the mousse decoratively into dessert dishes or glasses.
  8. Cover and chill for several hours or overnight.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrummy Redcurrants

 

I have just tried redcurrants for the very first time. OK, that might be a bit of an exaggeration as I’m sure I’ve had a tart, cake or some other dessert topped with a couple of redcurrants but this is the first time, I’ve properly tried them. I’ve wanted to try them ever since I was five years old and I saw them in my mum’s The Cookery Year cook book, as they looked delicious and ever since then I’d wondered what they taste like.

 

Well, now I know. Redcurrants are surprisingly tart but still quite yummy and I managed to demolish the whole punnet in one sitting. Mr. D tried some too as he’d never eaten them before. Did he like them? Well, it’s quite hard to tell with him but he did say that he found the redcurrants to be quite sharp and didn’t scoff them the same way I did, so maybe it wasn’t such a big hit with him. Oh, well – all the more for me!

 

Redcurrants are related to the gooseberry – which might explain the tartness – and are native to western Europe, although there are similar species in Asia and North America. They’re available from July until September which means that I’ve only just managed to try them while they’re still in season.  Despite their sharp taste, redcurrants are still slightly sweet enough to be eaten raw, although you’d obvious have to sprinkle them with sugar if you’d prefer them to be sweeter. They are quite rich in vitamin C and go well with other fruits and berries.

 

They are a surprisingly versatile fruit and can be served in a multitude of ways.  They can be sprinkled with sugar and served with cream or frosted to decorate desserts and puddings. Redcurrants are also usually used as part of the mixed berries that go into making a delicious Summer Pudding. Because of their high levels of pectin, they make great jams and jellies that taste great with toast or accompanying lamb or game. That’s right – they go quite well with savoury dishes too!

So here are two quick and easy  recipes using delicious  redcurrants. Make these lovely delicacies before redcurrants disappear for another year!

SPICY RED ONION AND REDCURRANT RELISH

Ingredients

  • 4 medium red onions
  • 2 small red peppers,
  • 1 bsp olive oil
  • 2  red chilli,
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2″ piece fresh ginger, chopped
  • 300ml red wine vinegar
  • 200g light muscovado sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp five spice powder
  • 300g redcurrants, stripped from stalks

Method

  1. Peel onions and cut into thin slices.
  2. Cut red pepper into chunks then mix with the red onion and oil.
  3. Fry for 5-10 mins over a high heat until lightly charred and softened.
  4. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  5. Deseed chillis and chop.
  6. Grate ginger and crush garlic before mixing with the chilli.
  7. Lightly fry chilli mixture before adding half the vinegar.
  8. Bring to the boil then simmer for 5 mins.
  9. Add the onion mixture plus the remaining vinegar, all the sugar, spice and 1 tsp salt.
  10. Bring to the boil then bubble away for about 5 mins until thickened.
  11. Add redcurrants and simmer for about 5 mins more, or until they have burst, but still have some shape and the liquid is syrupy.
  12. Remove and pour into a large heatproof jar. Cover and seal while hot. Keeps in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

Taste great with sausages, cold meats and goat’s cheese.

ZESTY BERRY COMPOTE

 

Serves 10

Ingredients

100ml berry juice- any kind

100ml water

2 tblspn. Crème de cassis

50g sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

1kg fresh/ frozen summer fruits (blackberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants)

10 stems fresh redcurrants

Method

1. Empty the jars of conserve into a large pan. Add the cassis and 200ml water. Heat until warm, then add the frozen fruits and heat for a few minutes until the berries are no longer frozen. Cool and chill.

2. Serve in glasses decorated with fresh redcurrants.

3. Also delicious served with cream, ice-cream or custard.

 

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