Happy Holidays from Let Her Bake Cake
The other day I was chatting to a caterer over the phone about my upcoming wedding menu. “So what desserts do you like to eat?” she asked. I don’t know about you, but although I spend a huge amount of time thinking about, eating and generally being obsessed by food, I find it really difficult to articulate my likes and dislikes when put on the spot. “Um, peanut butter?” I ventured, conjuring up a mental image of my family and friends clustered around a dessert buffet table, digging into spoonfuls of PB straight from the jar. For some reason when someone asks me what food I like, peanut butter is the first and only thing that ever springs to mind…
Eventually though, I got into the groove and started reeling off some of my favourites. We are planning a Canadian-English fusion menu to celebrate our two countries, so I told her about my love of bread and butter pudding, peach pie, butter tarts, Eton mess and anything with maple. The obvious omission then dawned on me: “I don’t really like chocolate. I mean, I like it, but it’s never what I would choose for dessert.”
Ottolenghi’s chocolate and chestnut bars
Except maybe where these bars are concerned. These are amazing. They could turn a take-it-or-leave it chocolate person into a bonafide cocoa lover. They’re simply an incredibly dense, fudgy brownie on a digestive base with chestnuts, white chocolate and figs added (though I used prunes). Really, you could add anything though. I didn’t find the chestnuts necessary and would probably swap in more prunes next time. You won’t be seeing these at my wedding, but I’m sure you’ll see them in my kitchen again soon.
*A note of warning. The batter will be very, very wobbly when you take these out of the oven and you will think they are massively underdone. You will be tempted to leave them in for longer. Don’t. Once you let them cool overnight (in the fridge for part of the time) they will be perfectly set and perfectly fudgy the next day.
Khalid’s Chocolate and Chestnut Bars
From Ottolenghi: The Cookbook
225 g dark chocolate
150 g unsalted butter, diced
1 egg yolk
45 g caster sugar
120 g cooked peeled chestnuts, roughly chopped (these are available in tins)
120 g dried figs or prunes, roughly chopped
120 g white chocolate, roughly chopped
cocoa powder for dusting
190 g digestive biscuits
90 g unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 150 C / 300 F. Lightly grease a 20cm / 8in square pan and line with parchment paper or foil. A pan with a removable bottom is a good option here.
Place the biscuits in a large bowl and crush with hands or a rolling pin. Add the melted butter and mix in to make a sandy paste. Scatter this mixture into the tin and press down hard to make an even base. Leave in the fridge to set.
Meanwhile, put the dark chocolate and butter in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, and leave to melt, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.
Use an electric mixer to whisk the eggs, egg yolk and sugar together until thick and pale. Then with a spoon, fold the chocolate mixture in followed by the chestnuts, figs and white chocolate. Spread evenly over the biscuit base and bake in the centre of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the surface is completely dry but a skewer inserted in the centre comes out with lots of gooey crumbs clinging to it. Remove from the oven, leave to cool, then refrigerate for a few hours until set. Cut into bars and dust with cocoa powder before serving.