Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Today, I’m sharing with you my new favourite sweet treat, homemade chocolate peppermint bark. Now to be honest I’m not convinced that this needs a recipe, as it is so ridiculously simple, but I felt that it was so delicious, that I just had to share it with you!

Peppermint bark 2

[Note: This recipe can be (and will be) adapted in as many different ways as you see fit, so feel free to change the combinations to match whatever flavours you prefer.]

peppermint bark

Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Ingredients: 

(To make one 9″x9″ pan)

  • 200g dark chocolate (the better the quality, the better the overall product)
  • 200g white chocolate (as above)
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • A few drops of green food colouring
  • 2 peppermint aero bars, roughly chopped

Instructions:

Line a 9″x9″ tin with tin foil. Melt the dark chocolate over a pan of simmering water and pour into the tin, spreading out to cover the bottom. Place in the fridge and leave to set.

Melt the white chocolate over a pan of simmering water and add the green food colouring and peppermint extract. Pour over the set dark chocolate and spread to cover the first layer of chocolate. Cover the top with a layer of chopped mint aero pieces and leave to set in the fridge. Once completely set, break into large pieces, using a sharp knife to help you if needed.

Belgium: Wheat Beer Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Flag of Belgium

When it came to thinking about the Belgian Cake, I knew right away what I wanted to include – chocolate and beer. However the difficulty arose in that I wanted to differentiate the cake from the Chocolate Guinness Cake made earlier. Belgian Beers are very different from Irish Stout and I wanted to reflect that in the cake. As a result I decided to separate the two components, and really tried to highlight the wheat beer used in the cake, allowing the chocolate to complement it rather than overpower it.

Belgium picture final

I present then, the Wheat Beer Cake with Chocolate Frosting. As it says on the tin. You could decorate this cake with chocolate seashell pralines, but if you re anything like me they may not make it to the cake…

Wheat Beer Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients

The Cake (adapted from here):

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • zest of one large lemon or 2 small lemons
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Hefeweizen or other wheat beer

The Frosting (Hummingbird Bakery Chocolate Frosting):

  • 300g icing sugar
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 40ml whole milk

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and line two 7in sandwich tins and set aside.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whip egg whites until soft peaks form. Mix in the sugar, bicarbonate of soda, vegetable oil, lemon zest and milk and combine thoroughly. Add half the flour and mix in the beer, before adding the remaining flour and mixing until thoroughly combined. Add to the cake tins and bake to 30 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the tin and leave to cool.

To make the frosting, beat together the icing sugar, cocoa powder and butter until the mixture starts to come together. Add the milk a spoonful at a time beating in between each addition. When all the milk has been inorporated, beat the mixture for at least 5 minutes until light and fluffy (the longer you can do this for, the better!) Use either a paddlemixer or an electric hand mixer or else you may regret it!

To assemble the cakes, trim the tops to ensure a level surface and sandwich together with the frosting. Cover the top of the cake with the remainder of the frosting and decorate with chocolate piping and praline seashells.

Belarus: White Russian Cupcakes

National flag of Belarus with sown field pattern

Belarus does not seem to do cakes. Please disagree with me if you can, but I cannot find any recipes in any of my books or on Google, as as they say – if it’s not on Google, it doesn’t happen! Please take it as a challenge – if you know a good Belarus cake recipe, send it my way and I will happily make it! Until this point, this cake will have to do. However, it thoroughly deserves its place, being very delicious!

The name Belarus literally translates as ‘White Russian’, with may different reasons for that name given – ranging from the race of people which populated the area to the colour of clothes that they wore. It was also mentioned in the official titles of the Russian Tsar, who is styled as ‘Tsar of all the Russias: the great, the little and the white’. There is also a fascinating suggestion that the description of regions by colour is based on the points of the compass: north being white, south – black, east – green and west – red.

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However interesting these facts are, the White Russian in this context refers rather to a cocktail, consisting of vodka, Kahlua (a coffee-flavoured liquor) and cream. The cupcakes are flavoured with coffee, filled with whipped cream and topped with Kahlua frosting. They are then decorated with a chocolate cocktail stirrer, embellished with white chocolate stars and popping candy.

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Note: There is no vodka in this cake due to primarily to personal opinion – I cannot stand it! I have never been able to taste it in the drink itself, so do not feel too bad about leaving it out. However, if you would like to include it I would suggest using a small amount to flavour the whipped cream filling.

White Russian Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:

  • 8oz plain flour
  • 8oz caster sugar
  • 8oz butter
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsbp instant coffee, dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water

Whipped Cream Filling:

  • 100ml whipped cream
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar

Buttercream Frosting:

  • 40g butter
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp kahlua

Chocolate decorations:

  • 10g dark chocolate
  • Popping candy and white chocolate stars

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5, and line a bun tin with paper cases. Cream together the butter and sugar before beating in the eggs. Add the remainder of the ingredients and mix thoroughly until well combined. Spoon into the bun cases and bake for 30 minutes until brown, firm and well-risen.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before continuing.

While the cupcakes are cooking, make the chocolate shapes. On a sheet of greaseproof paper draw out 12 circles using a twopence piece as a guide. Melt the chocolate and spread a small amount on the paper to fill each circle. Pipe a straight line coming out from each circle, making a lollipop shape. Sprinkle with your chosen decorations and leave to set.

Make the whipped cream filling by beating together the cream, icing sugar until thick and creamy. Using a cupcake corer or a sharp knife remove the centre of the cupcake and fill with the vodka-infused cream.

Make the buttercream topping by creaming together the butter and icing sugar until thick and fluffy (about 5 minutes – don’t skimp as this bit is very important!). Add the  Kahlua and mix in thoroughly. Spread or pipe on the top of each cupcake and decorate with the cooled chocolate cocktail stirrers.

Tune back in on Saturday for more chocolate-y goodness, this time from Lithuania!