Rich and dark with a lacquer-like shine, chocolate sauce is a classic and it is easy. The most important ingredient is clearly the chocolate, so search for the best quality you can find. I use Valhrona, a wonderful chocolate from France, and generally use the 62% cocoa solid version. If I need a particularly intensely flavoured sauce I will use 70% cocoa solids. I serve the sauce with ice creams and some chocolate puddings. The sauce is best when freshly made but will keep in the fridge for several weeks. If I have stored it for a while, I always warm it up gently before serving.
These puddings, soft and yielding, are delicious and, without doubt, made for chocolate lovers. The combination of ingredients is a classic one but with timeless appeal. The cooked puddings will sit happily in a warm oven for at least an hour before serving and, indeed, could be made ahead of time, allowed to cool and re-heated in a bain-marie in a warm oven. The prunes in the recipe can be replaced with cherries - a delicious variation - in which case I would soak them in Kirsch. Cognac can replace the slightly dryer Armagnac with the prunes. The pudding can be cooked in a large dish or in individual ramekins or even tea cups.
These lacy and deliciously crisp biscuits keep perfectly for several days. Serve them with ice creams, sorbets, granitas, mousses and soufflés and anything to do with chocolate. They are also perfect with perfectly ripe fruit such as pears or peaches.
This is a rich and concentrated mousse with a texture that I really like. The combination of the chocolate and the burnt sugar caramel works really well. I like to serve this with caramel sauce and thick pouring cream. Sometimes I can get Jersey cream, and that is just heavenly.
Crème Anglaise is one the classic dessert sauces. It is flourless, thin custard. The classic version is flavoured with vanilla but many variations exist. Lemon, orange, chocolate and coffee are some of the many other flavours that might be introduced. If possible use a vanilla pod or bean, but natural vanilla extract can also be used. The vanilla pod will give a superior flavour and the sauce will be flecked with the tiny vanilla seeds whose appearance in the sauce adds visual interest. Best quality eggs make an enormous difference to the colour and flavour of the sauce.
With a little redecoration it would be perfect for any time of the year too!
An easy to make tasty treat
This might look like a very impressive cake that took ages to make, but it’s really only an assembly job. Perfect for a dinner party when you're tight on time!
This is a great recipe which can be used all year 'round. I use fresh berries in summer and autumn, and frozen in winter. The geranium leaves for this recipe come from the lemon scented geranium, and they add a highly scented and delicious flavor to the syrup and the fruit. You will find this geranium in a good garden centre and it is well worth having. It can sit outside in a sunny spot in summer and needs to come back in to a sunny windowsill, conservatory or glass house for the winter months. It is immensely useful and I also use it to flavour mousses and soufflés, sorbets, granitas and ice creams. It also pairs beautifully with blackberries and apples, or better still a combination of both of those fruits. I have on occasions replaced the geranium with mint, lemon balm or lemon verbena with excellent results. Serve these berries with Raspberry Fool or Ice Cream or with Chocolate Mousse or Soft Vanilla Meringues.
Try this heavenly cheesecake recipe from Rachel’s Garden Café, you won't be disappointed.