Homemade Chocolate Slabs


Chocolate slab giftsIf you’re looking for a winner of a gift, you can’t go far wrong with a handmade chocolate slab!

What you need to make a large slab, or two smaller ones:

  • Baking tray
  • Baking paper
  • 100g Milk chocolate
  • 100g Dark chocolate
  • 50g White chocolate
  • 3 Heatproof bowls
  • 3 Small saucepans
  • Cocktail stick
The beauty of making your own is that you can use whatever chocolate you like and tailor the topping to the ‘giftees’ taste. One tip – make sure you use tasty chocolate, if you wouldn’t eat it on it’s own, don’t bother using it!
  1. Chocolate slabs  set-upSet up a baking tray with some baking paper, and if you want to multiple slabs, use something to keep the chocolate contained (I used some straight edged cutters held down by weights).
  2. Take 3 bowls and 3 pans, pour a small amount of water into each pan (the bottom of the bowl must sit clear of the water to avoid burning) and heat. Chop up each bar of chocolate as small as you can – the smaller you chop it, the quicker it’ll melt! I used 3 different types of chocolate: Green & Blacks milk, Tesco Finest white and Tesco Finest 70% dark.
  3. When the water in the pans is hot, turn down the heat and place each bowl over each pan and add each type of chocolate to its own bowl.
  4. With a close eye on your melting chocolate (give it a stir every now and again), chop up any nuts, etc. to sprinkle on top and keep these close by. As soon as your chocolate is melted down to just a few lumps, remove the bowls from the heat and stir until completely smooth. The milk and white chocolate will probably be ready before the dark chocolate.
  5. Melted chocolate slabPour your milk chocolate onto your prepared tray, keeping it to the left. Don’t be stingy! Pour it quite thick to ensure it doesn’t snap when you pick up your finished slab. Straight away drizzle the white chocolate down the middle and as soon as the dark chocolate is ready, pour that on the right. Quickly take a cocktail stick, or thin knife and lightly draw out from the white chocolate in the middle to create a swirl. Don’t be too precious and don’t worry if you mix up the chocolate, it all adds to the beauty.
  6. Grab your sprinkles, whether these are chopped nuts, dried fruit, fudge, marshmallows, or anything else and gently drop these down the middle of your slab. Leave your chocolate slab to set in a cool room out of direct sunlight.
Homemade chocolate slabsOnce set and looking delicious wrap in cellophane for a lovely gift.
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Gluten free, dairy free chocolate cake

I was a little nervous of this one, I’ve only baked gluten free cupcakes and dairy free cupcakes previously, but not gluten free AND dairy free! Luckily I found this perfect recipe…

http://www.godairyfree.org/recipes/vegan-gluten-free-mocha-cake

Ingredients

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake:
  • 2-1/2 cups gluten-free flour blend (I used Doves gluten free self-raising flour)
  • 2 cups organic cane sugar (caster sugar)
  • 1 cup cocoa powder (I used Green & Blacks)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk beverage (I used Koko dairy free milk)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2/3 cup mild flavor oil (such as sunflower seed, grapeseed, or canola) I used sunflower oil
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I used two teaspoons of vanilla, not a tablespoon)

Instructions

For the Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF (approx. 170ºC).
  2. Line the bottom of 2 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and spray each with cooking spray.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour blend, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the coconut milk beverage, warm water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Pour over the flour mixture and beat for 1 minute.
  5. Evenly divide the cake batter between the prepared cake pans, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then invert onto cooling rack to cool completely.

For the buttercream, I made chocolate to sandwich and cover the cake, and vanilla to pipe roses onto the top.

Ingredients

150g Pure soya dairy free spread
200g Icing sugar
50g Green & Blacks cocoa powder
1 dessert spoon Koko dairy free milk

For vanilla, as above, but use 300g icing sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Combine all of the ingredients and beat for 5 minutes. The soya spread is much wetter than butter and doesn’t set. If you’re piping with soya spread buttercream, put the buttercream in the fridge for half and hour before putting it in the piping bag and work quickly to pipe otherwise the buttercream starts to melt and separate.

Keep the cake in a cool place to avoid melting!! Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of my version, fingers crossed the birthday party-goers took one 🙂

Rockin’ Guitar Cake

Guitar cakeOne of my most exciting cake projects last year was this one – a guitar cake for a 60th birthday rock party!

The body of the guitar is malted vanilla sponge and the guitar neck is chocolate sponge. I used a printed template to get the body shape which was covered in Renshaw’s Amethyst Purple fondant. The trickiest part was covering the part closest to the neck, as it’s pretty narrow! I then sprayed the body with edible lustre spray to give it a bit of sparkle.

Pickups, switches, etc. were moulded in fondant, sprayed silver and placed on once the guitar cake neck and body were united (I had to use two large rectangle cake boards). Instead of piping the strings, I used edible shoe laces (from Tesco) to add a bit of extra colour.

One of my favourite cakes from 2013 🙂

Surprise 60th birthday cupcakes

Chocolate 60th birthday cupcakes Vanilla 60th birthday cupcakes 60th birthday cupcakes 60th birthday cupcakesA lovely lady called me up and asked about having some birthday cupcakes made as a surprise for her friend who happens to live in my village (small world, as they say).

She’d seen my coffee and walnut cake covered in buttercream roses, so it was decided that these 60th birthday cupcakes would use rose piping and be chocolate and vanilla. Indulgent and pretty was the brief 🙂

The cupcakes were decorated with edible pearls and fondant discs with ’60’ on top.

So here they are… presented in a 12 hole card cupcake box, fastened with a ribbon. Happy 60th birthday Jan!

Backpack cake for a travelling adventure

Backpack cakeBackpackers cake paradise! This rucksack cake and travel-themed cupcakes were made for a young man embarking on a 7 month adventure around Asia. The backpack cake is modelled on the Osprey Farpoint 70, the exact bag the traveller would be using.

I baked 4 x 30cm square vanilla sponges which were then stacked and shaped, it was important to make sure all corners and edges were rounded like a real backpack. I then coloured the fondant to match the green Osprey bag by using Sugarflair’s Holly Green and ChestnutBrown with a little of Melon (yellow) to achieve the olive green. The most challenging task was covering the cake with the fondant – due to the height of the bulging pockets, the fondant had to be well rolled!

I added a bit of Wilton’s Jet Black colouring to a small portion of the olive green fondant for the strap and flap details. Buckles were shaped out of white and painted with edible silver paint. The map and passport

travel cupcakes

were handcut and decorated (passport coat of arms was hand-piped – don’t think I’ll be forging these any time soon!).

Accompanying red velvet cupcakes were decorated with fondant discs resembling globes, this was achieved by

travel themed cupcakes

rolling country shapes of green fondant onto blue (place cling film over the fondant when rolling to avoid it sticking the to pin). I cheated slightly by buying a mould for the aeroplane, fondant was pressed firmly into the mould, then placed in the freezer for approx. 30 minutes. These were sprayed with Dr Oetker silver spray to give them a metal-like sheen. The passports and maps were again hand cut and decorated freehand.

Very envious of such an exciting adventure! But I enjoyed the challenge of this cake and all of it’s little details.

Pink Floyd LP Cover Cake

Rockers rejoice and celebrate a special birthday with a legendary LP cover of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon!

A square vanilla sponge sits beside a half a circular sponge, a simple but very effective structure. Now, black isn’t the easiest colour fondant to work with, plenty of icing sugar the keep it from constant bad behaviour (sticking to everything it can). With a blast of edible glaze spray you’d never know how dusted in icing sugar this cake was during construction!

The prism design was hand cut, the edge dusted with black edible powder to soften the edge.

The perfect novelty cake for any crazy diamond cake fan 🙂

Pink Floyd LP Cake

Chilli Chocolate Chilli cake!

It was quite an easy design choice of cake for restaurant supervisor Aye. She runs my Dad’d Thai restaurant in Hitchin (www.sukawatee.com), and eats A LOT of chilli!

I’d just bought a copy of Cupcake Heaven magazine which contains a chilli chocolate cupcake recipe, perfect! I used 1 x cupcake quantity per 30cm square tin, I used 2 square tins. Each layer was filly with chilli chocolate ganache.

After cutting the sponge into a thin block, I used a cut out chilli shape as my template. I then smoothed the sponge over with a layer of ganache, before covering with bright red fondant. Using an aerosol edible glaze by PME I lightly glazed the red fondant to give it a glossy chilli appearance.

To make the green top, I added an extra layer of fondant over the red and hand cut a zig-zag pattern to look like the leaves.

Red Chilli Chocolate Cake

Christmas cupcakes and truffles

Chocolate truffles Christmas cupcake boxes Christmas cupcake in cake box Baileys coffee and orange spice cupcakes Baileys coffee cupcake Christmas Baileys coffee and orange spice cupcakesNow the festivities are done, I’ve found some time to post the baking efforts over Christmas! For the first time I made chocolate truffles – using Nigel Slater’s recipe which is super-simple! I made white chocolate, vanilla and coconut truffles and rich chocolate orange truffles dusted in cocoa powder. Truffles make an ideal gift as they last up to 3 weeks so you can make them in advance for Christmas parties too.

I also made a few Christmas cupcake gifts for family and couldn’t resist using these adorable Christmas cupcake boxes bought from e-Bay! I made mixed spice and orange cupcakes and also Baileys coffee cupcakes. Coffee sponge with Baileys buttercream cupcakes were decorated using my new snowflake cutters, I dusted fondant snowflakes with edible glitter.

The orange and spice cupcakes (orange and spice sponge topped with orange buttercream) I used holly cutters and rolled some red fondant berries and dusted the berries in red edible glitter.

Simple but effective 🙂

Alfa Romeo GTV birthday cake

Following on from my best friend Lisa’s Alfa Romeo Spider birthday cake earlier in the year, I simply had to do her boyfriend’s Alfa Romeo GTV car as a cake for his 30th!

A little more experienced with car cakes this time around I made the fondant details such as wipers, lights, spoiler, reg plates and alloys (sprayed with PME silver spray) a couple of days in advance to firm up. Rob’s Alfa is an unusual colour – pearlescent light blue, therefore I used Sugarflair Ice Blue colour for the fondant (the tiniest amount) and sprayed the ‘bodywork’ with PME Pearl spray to try and match the real-life effect.

The sponge is chocolate malt made with malt extract, Horlicks, Malteasers and belgian chocolate. Once constructed and sandwiched with vanilla/malt buttercream, I covered the whole cake in belgian chocolate fondant, then the ice blue fondant prepared earlier. Windows were cut out of the fondant (to reveal the chocolate fondant beneath) and tyre rounds for the alloys to fit into.

I painted the Alfa badges using food colouring, a steady hand and a very small paint brush! The grass is buttercream, coloured green and piped using a multi-hole nozzle – perfect for grass and hair.

Birthday boy was pleased with his Alfa Romeo GTV 3.0 V6 24v (I know this detail as I had to pipe it on the back) and a fab time was had by all HAPPY BIRTHDAY ROB!