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Six of the best chocolate desserts

p.197-rum-trufflesIt takes a strong woman to resist the seductive wiles of a tantalising dessert, but these innovative chocolate-inspired treats are definitely worth caving in for!  

Rum truffles
A naughty after-dinner nibble with extra kick, these devilishly delicious truffles are a great addition to any dinner party, or can be enjoyed alone as the perfect accompaniment to a long, luxurious bath.

Makes 25

You will need:

  • 200g finely chopped dark chocolate
  • 60ml cream
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 50g chocolate cake crumbs
  • 2tsp dark rum
  • 95g chocolate sprinkles
  1. Line a baking tray with foil. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
  2. Combine the cream and butter in a saucepan and stir over a low heat until the butter melts and the mixture is just boiling. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth.
  3. Stir in the cake crumbs and rum. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until firm enough to handle. Roll heaped teaspoons of the mixture into balls.
  4. Spread the chocolate sprinkles out on a sheet of baking paper. Roll each truffle in the sprinkles, then place on the tray. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until the truffles are firm.
  5. Serve in small paper cases, to avoid incriminating chocolate stained fingers!

p.190-chocolate-ginger-and-nute-pateChocolate, ginger and nut paté
A deliciously moist mix of nuts and ginger, held together by chocolate paté. A slice of this with a cuppa is the ultimate solution to your afternoon slump. Whether it’s a small sliver to take the edge off that sugar craving, or a thick, indulgent square you’re after, this loaf-shaped dessert allows you to select your level of indulgence with ease. This dessert is best kept refrigerated in an airtight container, so enjoy it at home rather than at the office or packed into a lunchbox.

Makes 50 slices

You will need:

  • 20g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 250g chopped dark chocolate
  • 160ml sweetened condensed milk
  • 2tbsp rum or brandy
  • 70g hazelnuts, roasted and skinned
  • 80g roasted, unsalted macadamia nuts
  • 50g whole almonds, roasted
  • 70g finely chopped glacé (candied) ginger
  1. Grease a 25cm x 8cm loaf tin and line it with baking paper. Let the paper hang over the long sides for easy removal later.
  2. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Half-fill a saucepan with water, bring it to the boil, then remove from the heat and sit the bowl over the pan (don’t let the bowl touch
  3. the water or the chocolate will get too hot and seize, making it a solid, lumpy mass).
  4. Stir frequently, until just melted and smooth. Add the butter, condensed milk and rum or brandy. Stir until smooth.
  5. Remove from the heat, add the nuts and ginger and mix well. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface.
  6. Cover and refrigerate for several hours until the mixture is firm to the touch. Serve chilled, cut into wafer-thin slices if usedto accompany a selection of desserts, or cut into larger squares if this is the main sweet treat available.

117 RPS1382 Chococo-09-07-10-R1382----019Apricot and amaretti mascarpone tartlets
Naturally sun-dried apricots are dark in colour and have a deliciously intense fruity taste that mass-produced, bright orange apricots just don’t have. These tartlets marry the apricots with chocolate and amaretti biscuits with delicious results. They’re also very easy to make.

Makes 4

You will need:

  • 100g naturally sun-dried apricots
  • 100g amaretti biscuits, plus 2 extra to decorate
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped
  • 200g mascarpone
  • 1tbsp icing sugar
  • ½tsp vanilla extract
  • Sifted cocoa powder, to dust
  1. Put all the apricots in a bowl, add sufficient boiling water to just cover and leave them to plump up until required.
  2. Put the amaretti biscuits in a polythene bag and crush them to a fine crumb with a rolling pin. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, add the crumbed biscuits and mix thoroughly to combine.
  3. Spoon this mixture into four 6cm loose-based tartlet tins and, using the back of a spoon, press down to cover the base and sides and create tart cases. Arrange on a tray and transfer to the fridge to chill and firm up.
  4. Drain all the apricots and mash them to a rough purée in a blender or using a handheld stick blender. You don’t want to make a completely smooth purée – you want it to have some ‘bits’ left to give the finished tarts an interesting texture as well as taste.
  5. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Make sure the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water to prevent the chocolate seizing. Take the bowl off the heat and leave it to cool for 5 minutes before folding in the mascarpone, icing sugar, vanilla extract and chopped apricots.
  6. Spoon the filling into the chilled tart cases. Either finish and serve or chill until required, but allow to return to room temperature before serving. To finish, crumble the extra amaretti biscuits over the tarts, dust with sifted cocoa powder and serve immediately.

p.149-caramel-tarts-with-chocolate-ganacheCaramel tarts with chocolate ganache  
These dainty little tarts add a touch of elegance to tea time, or make a great alternative to traditional iced cakes at parties.

Makes 12

You will need:

For the ganache:

  • 100g chopped dark chocolate
  • 2tbsp cream

For the pastry:

  • 150g plain flour
  • 90g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 65g caster sugar

For the filling:

  • 395g sweetened condensed milk
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 2tbsp golden syrup
  • 1½tbsp chopped pistachio nuts, to garnish  
  1. To make the ganache, melt the chocolate and cream in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove from the heat, allow to cool, then refrigerate for 10-15 minutes until the mixture is firm.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Grease a 12-hole mini muffin tray. Run foil across the base and up over two sides of each hole.
  3. To make the pastry, process the flour, butter and sugar in a food processor until it resembles breadcrumbs. Divide evenly among the muffin holes and firmly press into the bases with your fingers.
  4. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden. While still hot, press the bases with a teaspoon, as they will have risen a little in the oven.
  5. To make the filling, melt the butter, condensed milk and golden syrup in a saucepan over a low heat. Increase the heat to medium and simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring, until it’s a light caramel.  
  6. Divide the caramel among the pastry bases. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Whisk the ganache. Put in a piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe swirls on the caramel. Sprinkle with pistachios. Store in the fridge, covered, until set. Remove 10-15 minutes before serving.

p.15-chocolate-beetroot-cakesChocolate beetroot cakes
Much like carrot cake and banana loaf, this slightly adventurous combination of beetroot and chocolate works brilliantly, giving you the perfect way to sneak vegetables into your children’s lunchboxes – disguised in a cupcake!

Makes 8

You will need:

  • Cooking oil spray
  • 125g plain flour
  • 40g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1½tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 230g soft brown sugar
  • 75g walnut halves, chopped
  • 170ml canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 225g beetroot, finely shredded

For the chocolate drizzle icing:

  • 195g icing sugar
  • 30g unsweetened cocoa powder
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Spray 8 ramekins with oil to sufficiently grease them, and place on a large baking tray.
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and mixed spice. Stir in the sugar and walnuts, then make a well in the centre of the dry mixture.
  3. Whisk together the vegetable oil and eggs. Add the shredded beetroot and stir. Pour into the well and, using a large metal spoon, fold everything together. Divide the mixture equally among the ramekins and smooth the surfaces with the back of a spoon.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when pushed into the centre of a cake. Leave the cakes in the ramekins for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
  5. To make the chocolate drizzle icing, sift together the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a bowl. Add 60ml boiling water and mix until smooth. Drizzle the cakes with the icing.
  6. Set cakes aside for 30 minutes, or until the icing is set. Serve them with thick cream or ice cream.

125 RPS1382 Chococo-08-07-10-R1382----054Salted caramel praline pavlova
This is a pavlova with attitude – less ballet dancer, more high-energy hip hop. Not only is the meringue made with chocolate, but it’s topped with sour chocolate ganache studded with crunchy salted caramel praline brittle, to cut through the sweetness and give you deliciously unexpected salt notes.

Serves 6-8

You will need:

  • Flavourless oil (such as groundnut)

For the meringue:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 1tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2tsp cornflour
  • 50g dark chocolate, grated
  • 1tsp white wine vinegar

For the salted praline brittle:

  • 125g golden caster sugar
  • 50g chopped hazelnuts
  • 50g flaked almonds
  • ¼tsp sea salt

For the sour chocolate ganache:

  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 150ml crème fraîche
  • 100ml double cream
  • Sifted cocoa powder, to dust
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/Gas 4. Prepare two baking trays – line one with baking parchment marked with a 20cm circle; and grease the other with a flavourless oil (groundnut or other).
  2. To make the meringue, put the egg whites in a grease-free bowl and whisk them until softly peaking. Gradually add the sugar and continue whisking until you have a thick, glossy meringue that stands up in stiff peaks.
  3. Sift the cocoa powder and cornflour into the meringue. Add the grated chocolate and vinegar and, using a large metal spoon, gently fold everything together to combine.
  4. Spread the mixture out within the circle marked on the prepared baking tray. Make an indentation in the middle of the meringue. Put in the pre-heated oven but immediately reduce the temperature to 150ºC /Gas 2. Bake for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and leave the meringue in the oven until completely cold. (You can make the meringue a few days ahead and keep in an airtight container).
  5. To make the salted praline brittle, put the sugar in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. Avoid stirring the sugar, but swirl the pan to spread the sugar around as it melts. Combine the hazelnuts and almonds and dry toast in a frying pan. Reserve about 20g for decoration. Put the remaining nuts in the caramelised sugar, add the sea salt and mix well. Spread the mixture out on the greased baking tray and leave to cool and set at room temperature.
  6. To make the sour chocolate ganache, put the chocolate, 100ml of the crème fraîche and the cream in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. When the ingredients have melted, take off the heat and allow to cool before transferring to the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour.
  7. When you are ready to serve, take the ganache out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Using a handheld electric mixer, whisk the ganache until it is soft and mousse-like. Chop the salted praline brittle into small pieces and stir into the ganache – don’t add it too early or it will start to melt and will lose its pleasing crunch.
  8. Put the meringue on a serving plate. Top with the ganache mixture and remaining crème fraîche. Scatter over the reserved toasted nuts and finish with a dusting of sifted cocoa.

There are more than 80 irresistible recipes in My Little Chocolate Book (£9.99, Murdoch Books).

Find award-winning recipes in Chococo Chocolate Cookbook by Claire Burnet (£16.99, Ryland Peters & Small)

This article was first published in at home with Marco Pierre White in October 2011. [Read the digital edition here]

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