Dark Chocolate and Chestnut Pots

These little pots of chocolate are fantastic. The true taste of chocolate hits you as you take a mouthful and then, the subtle taste of chestnut eases its way to the back of your throat and all you can do is say “mmmm”.

100% cacao is hard core chocolate. The benefit of using something so pure is that you control exactly what goes in. Less is most definitely more. Previously this was only available to the finest chocolatiers. Thanks to the desire of gourmand consumers 100% cacao is now freely available in more upmarket supermarkets, similarly crème de marrons de l’Ardeche should not be a problem to find. At first glance there is very little sugar in this dessert however the chestnut spread is sweet and any further sweetening should be done using condensed milk as this will blend in easily and without adding any further liquid to the chocolate as something like sugar syrup would do.

This could easily become a Ramadan favourite in my house, as it faired very well in the pre-Ramadan trial! This is easy to prepare, easy to store, and most importantly very easy to eat. If you have foods with strong smells in your fridge then cover with cling film to prevent the chocolate absorbing the flavours.

60g Indonesian blend 100% pure Cacao (Javan light breaking)
25g Extra Virgin Cacao butter
100g Crème de Marrons de L’Ardeche (Chestnut spread)
2 teaspoons strong black coffee
1 teaspoon condensed milk (alter if you must to your taste)
450ml double cream
150ml whipped to stiff peaks
300ml whipped to foam to soft peaks

1. Whip 150ml of double cream until it forms stiff peaks and can be held on its own then set aside.
2. In another bowl place 50g of the chocolate and 25g of Extra Virgin Cacao butter in a bain marie making sure that the bowl does not touch the water. Gently stir the chocolate and cacao butter as they begin to melt
3. When the chocolate melts mix in two teaspoons of strong black coffee into the chocolate.
4. Mix in the crème de marrons (chestnut spread), the chestnut will soak up the chocolate and give a near grainy texture.
5. Gradually fold the whipped cream in with the chocolate using a metal spoon. Some of it will melt, but the bulk will fold in nicely.
6. Place 2 tablespoons of the chocolate in to each glass and then place in a fridge for approximately 2 hours.
7. Once the chocolate has set whisk the remaining 300ml of double cream until it is foaming and makes soft peaks. Spoon the cream on top of the set chocolate.
8. Grate the remaining 10g of chocolate with a fine grater on top of the cream and serve.
Serves 4

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Its all about Cheese Cake




Earlier this week, I came across a cheese cake recipe on this blog:

http://smittenkitchen.com/2010/04/new-york-cheesecake/

My normal cheese cake is a very dense, very rich, very heavy cheese cake that I learnt how to make when I lived in Nice. As scrumptious as it is, it is not something that anyone who wants to stay in their current clothes size can afford to make more than once a year. Think rich cream, marscapone, ricotta, eggs and probably a visit to a cardiologist!

Anyway going back to my new cheese cake I looked at the photo and thought “mmmm I NEED cheese cake!” Seriously now I really wanted to go to the shops and make my cheese cake which never fails to leave people wanting more. Then I thought about my new smaller trousers and just couldn’t bring myself to go through with it. Instead I decided to look at the recipe for the new york cheese cake but even that had too much everything for me. I needed a cheese cake that would do everything that a good cheese cake does but it had to be light! I know, I know an oxymoron but this IS good and light. Everything from the base to slightly stiff sides to the oh-so-delicate inside of this cake is 100% cheese cake. The only difference is instead of feeling as if the cheese cake sticks to your sides on the way down you feel easy.

Light Cherry Cheese Cake

Base
50g butter
100g of gf biscuits and gf muesli

Melt the butter and mix in the crushed biscuits and muesli. Gently press into a cake tin. There should be enough to thinly cover the base of the cake tin. Make sure to leave no holes in the base. Place in the fridge to firm up.

Cake
I’ve used gluten free flour as I am coeliac. Gluten free flour is considerably lighter than flours which contain gluten and I feel that they would be quite heavy in this instance.

50g doves farm gluten free flour
170g 0% fat strained greek yoghurt
300g light cream cheese
4 eggs separated
75g vanilla sugar

Set oven at 180 degrees
Mix egg yolks and sugar, followed by the yoghurt and cream cheese.
In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until they reach stiff peaks. Then gradually fold them in to the cheese mix with a metal spoon a bit at a time. Make sure not to knock all the air out of the egg whites.
Pour the mixture into the cake tin (on top of the base). Place the cake tin into a larger baking tin and place a couple of cm of water into the larger tin, then place in the oven at 180 degrees for 30 mins.
After 30 mins the cheese cake will have souffled but will be wobbly in the middle. Turn the heat down to 100 degrees for 1 hour or until the middle has set. Top up the water if it evaporates.
Remove from the oven and from the tin.
If the base is wet then invert on to a flat sheet pan and place in the oven for 10mins and then flip again.

Topping
Using preserved fruit alone can be quite flat tasting. I used belle cerise ( a cross between a plum and a cherry) because I had them. Fresh cherries or plums would work well to add some tartness to the preserved cherries.

340g cooked cherries in light syrup
100g belle cerise
25g sugar
1 teaspoon arrowroot

In a pan put the belle cerise and gently heat them up for a couple of minutes before adding in the preserved cherries with the sugar and syrup. Try and use a pan the same circumference as the cake tin. There should be enough fruit to cover the base of the pan, add in more if needed.
Take a tablespoon of the syrup and mix with the arrowroot in a bowl and then pour it into the pan. Cook until the sauce has thickened.
Arrange the fruit on top of the cheese cake and pour the syrup all over.