As I write this we are still on lockdown and confined to our house. I have taken the opportunity to clear all my cupboards and wardrobe; something I do every spring. Another Spring job is checking the freezer and making sure it’s full of meals ready for our usual busy summer. I was going to share some easy recipes to help with this, but I thought, in light of the current climate, we all needed a little cheering up and as it’s also the end of Lent, how about some chocolate? I have added my chocolate cake recipe as this is a favourite with my grandchildren and I am always getting asked for the recipe. It’s just a normal chocolate sponge, but the trick is to mix the air in at the very beginning to help it rise.

Buen Apetito 

Banoffee Pie

  • 250g Digestive Biscuits
  • 100g butter
  • 400g Dulce de Leche (caramel)
  • 2 bananas
  • 300ml whipping Cream
  • 2 tbsp grated plain chocolate

Melt the butter gently in a small pan or microwave. Peel and slice the bananas. Whip the cream to soft peaks. Place the biscuits into a strong food bag and crush with a rolling pin. Alternatively, put in a food processor and pulse until finely crumbed. Transfer crumbs to a mixing bowl and stir in the melted butter. Place the crumb mixture into flour, a lightly greased 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin and press down with your fingers around the edges and along the sides. Place in the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes. Spoon the ‘dulce de leche’ over the biscuit crumb base. Cover the caramel with a layer of sliced bananas. Spoon the whipped cream on top of the layer of bananas and grate over the chocolate. Serve immediately or chill for around 30 minutes more in the fridge.

Marshmallow Brownies

  • 240g butter
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 60g cocoa or drinking chocolate
  • 150g plain flour
  • 500g caster sugar
  • 5 eggs (beaten)
  • 150g chopped marshmallows

Melt the butter and chocolate together very gently. Mix the cocoa with the flour and the sugar and, taking the butter off the heat, mix together. Mix in the beaten eggs and fold in the marshmallows. Turn the mixture into the tin and bake in the oven 190º for 20 minutes or until cooked. Allow to cool and slice.  

Ma Millbank’s Chocolate Cake

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

Beat the butter until creamy, add the sugar and again beat until creamy. Sieve flour, baking powder and cocoa and leave ready. Add eggs one at a time with a spoonful of flour to stop curdling. When all eggs are 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 cook for 20 minutes at 190º 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 of 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. Once cool, cut the cake horizontally and fill with Buttercream and cover with Chocolate Sauce as below.

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.

Chocolate Chip and Banana Muffins

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 13 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 bananas
  • 13 cup water
  • 113 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 12 tsp salt
  • 14 tsp baking powder
  • 12 cup chocolate chips

Mix your sugar, butter, eggs, bananas & water in bowl. Then add your flour, baking soda, salt & baking powder in the same bowl & mix together. Mix in chocolate chips by hand if desired. Set oven at 350°F. Prepare Muffin cases in a trays & bake for 25 minutes.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Fudge

  • ½cup unsalted butter 
  • 10½ oz miniature marshmallows 
  • 1cup sugar 
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter 
  • 1cup double cream 
  • ¼tsp salt 
  • 16oz chocolate, chopped 
  • ¼cup 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 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 cool for 30 minutes, then refrigerate until set, (at least 3 hours 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 grated for garnishing 
  • 3 large egg yolks 
  • 2tsp instant coffee 
  • 6 tblsp 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 cool slightly. In a small saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, coffee powder, 4 tblsp 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 tblsp 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 minutes (if longer, bring to room temperature before serving). Sprinkle with the grated chocolate before serving.