Well, time to put the diet away again for another year. OK so I didn’t lose any weight again, but St Valentine’s Day is fast approaching so what better time to pull up some chocolate recipes?

I couldn’t do chocolate recipes without adding in a few classics which involve other ingredients and are not all chocolate. All the recipes are easy to do, although some do take time like my Chocolate Cake. It’s a family favourite and always comes out when it’s time to make a birthday cake and I must admit to getting carried away with the decorations on the top.
Buen Apetito

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Fudge

½ cup unsalted butter
1 10.5 ounce bag miniature marshmallows
1 cup sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup double cream
¼ tsp salt
16 oz chocolate, chopped
¼ cup coarsely chopped peanuts

Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and line with a piece of parchment or wax paper, leaving an overhang on two sides.

In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, marshmallows, sugar, peanut butter, cream, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the marshmallows have melted and the mixture is smooth, (8-10 mins). Add the chocolate and stir until melted. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and sprinkle with the peanuts. Let it cool for 30 minutes, then refrigerate until set, (at least 3hrs and up to overnight). Use the paper to lift the fudge out of the pan; cut into 36 squares.

Chocolate Expresso Mousse

8 oz chocolate, chopped, plus more, shaved, for garnishing
3 lg egg yolks
2 tsp instant espresso powder
6 tbsp granulated sugar
2 cups double cream

Melt the chocolate in a medium bowl set over (but not in) a saucepan of simmering water, stirring often, until smooth. Remove from heat and let it cool slightly. In a small saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, espresso powder, 4 tbsp of the sugar and ¾ cup of the cream. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until the mixture lightly coats the back of the spatula, (2-3 mins. Do not boil). Strain into the melted chocolate and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate until completely cooled, (about 30 mins). Using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1¼ cups cream and 2 tbsp sugar until stiff peaks form. In 3 additions, fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Divide among 8 serving glasses and refrigerate for at least 30 mins (if longer, bring to room temperature before serving). Sprinkle with the shaved chocolate before serving.

Croissant and Bread Pudding

Unsalted butter for the baking dish
6 lg egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
1 cup double cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground nutmeg
6 croissants, cut into 1 inch pieces (about 1 lb)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into chunks

Heat oven to 375° F. Butter an 8-inch square or other shallow 2-quart baking dish.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, salt and nutmeg. Add the croissants and chocolate and mix to combine. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and bake until set and a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean, (30-40 mins). Serve warm or at room temperature.

Apricot and Chocolate Pastry Pillows

3 oz (1/2 cup) dried apricots
1 sheet (1/2 lb) puff pastry
2 tbsp apricot preserve or jam
3 tbsp semisweet chocolate chips
1 lg egg, beaten
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp finely ground coffee
Pint coffee ice cream

Heat oven to 400° F.
In a small saucepan, combine the apricots and ½ cup of water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let stand 5 minutes. Remove the apricots from the water, let cool, and coarsely chop.

On a lightly floured surface, cut the puff pastry lengthwise into thirds and cut each third in half (for six 4-by-6-inch pieces). Place 1 tsp of the preserves in the lower centre of each piece of dough. Top with the chocolate chips and chopped apricots. Brush the edge of each pastry with egg and fold the pastry over the filling, pressing the edges together. Using the tines of a fork, seal the packets securely and brush the tops with the remaining egg. Sprinkle each with 1 tsp of sugar. Place the pastries on a baking sheet lightly coated with vegetable cooking spray and bake 25-30 mins, or until golden brown. In a small bowl, combine the ground coffee with the remaining sugar. Serve the Pastry Pillows warm or at room temperature with the ice cream sprinkled with coffee sugar.

Ma Millbank’s Chocolate Cake

200g butter
200g caster sugar
4 eggs
150g self-raising flour
50g cocoa
1 heaped tsp baking powder

Heat oven to 190ºF.
Beat the butter until creamy, add the sugar and again beat until creamy. Sieve out flour and baking powder and leave ready. Add eggs one at a time with a spoonful of flour, (this will stop curdling). When all eggs mixed in, add the remaining flour, but mix only until a smooth mixture. (Too much mixing will lose all the air in the mixture).

Pour mixture into two cake tins and when oven is at temperature, cook for 20 minutes or when a sharp knife comes out clean. Do not open the oven door before at least 15 minutes or cake will drop the air.

Butter Cream

100g butter
50g icing sugar
50g cocoa powder

Cream butter and add sieved icing sugar and cocoa until smooth. If too runny add more icing sugar; if too stiff add a few drops of cold water. Wait until cake sponge is cold before applying the butter cream to the two half cakes.

Melt some chocolate in a glass bowl above some hot water and pour over the top of the cake and decorate, or double the butter cream quantities and spread the top with butter cream and decorate.