Thursday, 14 March 2013

How-to 10: Make Chocolate Curls and leaves- cake or dessert Decorations

Instant class for any dessert or cake...

(Apologies for being a few days late with this- busy times...)
Since Easter, that time of year when everyone thinks about chocolate (because Christmas and Valentine's were soo long ago, right?) is nearly upon us, this month's how-to shows how to make two kinds of chocolate decoration that are great on cupcakes, cheesecakes, desserts, gateaux; in fact, anything that needs a chocolatey boost! We've used vegan dark chocolate, but you could use your favourite kind. If you use cooking chocolate ("couverture"), which is usually higher in cocoa butter/ fats, it may be easier to melt and set without losing the gloss- depends on the quality of the brand, of course. It doesn't need tempering, (when you melt and re-set it before using)) to achieve this. If you are already seriously into chocolate cookery, then you will have your own likes and dislikes. We have found Lidl dark cooking chocolate really good value and acceptable quality. It melts and sets readily too. I lost the shine on the leaves shown here through impatience; I put them in the freezer to set them quicker knowing full well the risk I was taking- but I think they still look good.

1: If not using couverture, temper your chocolate by melting it then setting again. Do not let it reach too high a temperature or it will lose its gloss. Use a microwave or double boiler to melt the chocolate, (and a chocolate thermometer if you are really serious...)

2: Meanwhile, wash and dry your leaves. I used rose leaves as I didn't want them too big, but magnolia and camellia are also good. Choose non-poisonous leaves with distinct veining, preferably from your own garden and free of pesticides.

3: Lay the leaves out textured side up on a sheet of baking parchment and you're ready to go!

4: With a clean paintbrush lay on a layer of chocolate. The leaves will curl but don't worry- it makes the finished effect even more attractive :)

5: When all the leaves are done let them set- don't be tempted to hasten this by putting them in the freezer (like I did) or the gloss will disappear from the chocolate and you may even get white spots on it.

6: Next add another layer. Make sure the leaves are totally covered. Leave to set completely.

7: Now carefully peel off and discard the leaves. Tah-dah! - Chocolate leaves with a pretty vein pattern! 

8: The finished items can be stored carefully between sheets of baking parchment in an airtight container until needed.

9: For chocolate curls first pour melted chocolate onto a marble (or similar) surface and smooth it over. Wait until it is solid, but NOT COMPLETELY SET.

10: Work reasonably quickly, as the chocolate will crack if it cools completely. Make the curls with a peeler (the straight one will give longer curls than the one I used) or wallpaper-stripping knife.

12: .... the finished results!

Teddy Bear Tofu

Spot the teddy!
My husband found a great way of moulding home made tofu using one of those springform cake tins which has a concave picture in the base. After making the tofu- look here  for a quick and easy way to do this using bought soya milk- squeeze all the moisture out of it, then press into the cake tin and weigh down for at least half an hour (the heavier the weight, the faster it will press to a firm texture.) If it is pressed sufficiently, it should keep the shape of the bottom of the tin...awww cute! We think it could be a great way to get younger children involved in making and (hopefully) eating this protein rich food.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Healthy Mexican Pt2: Tofu Quesadillas with Lime and Coriander Guacamole- vegan

These quesadillas are great with salad!

Here are the other two dishes to complete our Mexican feast; for the mango salsa and Mexican rice, see last week's post. Quesadillas come in many varieties, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. One thing most recipes seem to have in common is cheese- we managed to get the tofu to taste somewhat like a crumbly, salty white cheese, but of course there's none of that melty stringiness to hold them together that you get with dairy cheese. This means that the mouthfeel is slightly different and they need careful handling in the pan, but there's certainly no compromise on flavour. We kept them unspiced because of the hot salsa we served them with, but you can use whatever spices you like. We used wholewheat chapattis for ours, and gave the kids bought flour tortillas. (We also mixed grated cheese with their tofu to give a more familiar texture.) Here's the recipe for enough tofu filling to make about three chapatti/ tortilla sandwiches. (If you need to know how to make chapattis, just look here:

350g firm-medium tofu, crumbled
1 1/2 tsps seasalt
1/2 tsp compound hing
3 tabs lemon juice
1 1/2 tabs tahini
  • All you do is mix everything together in a bowl!
  • To assemble the quesadillas, sandwich the filling inside two chapattis, along with thin slices of tomato and chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) leaf.
  • Cook on both sides on medium to low heat in an unoiled non-stick frying pan or griddle until the filling is warm. You may need two spatulas to turn it over without the filling falling out!
Tangy Lime Guacamole
This is a great side, along with hot mango salsa, to serve with the quesadillas. For the recipe, look here.