Chocolate Pecan Pie

I wanted to do a pecan pie as well as a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, but it proved difficult to get corn syrup round here, and the texture of the filling just isn't right without it. I found several recipes on the internet for a chocolate filling with pecans on the top, and eventually settled on this one. I modified it a bit, mainly because I didn't want to get a whole bottle of bourbon, and we ran into the problem of the UK commercial raw pastry shells being a bit shallow again.

1 9-inch unbaked pie shell
1 cup sugar (I used muscovado)
3 tbsp. cornflour
3 eggs
1/2 cup condensed milk
2 tbsp. rum
6 oz. plain chocolate, melted
4 tbsp. butter, melted
1 1/2 cup pecans

Mix together sugar and cornflour in large bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, mix. Add condensed milk, rum, chocolate, and butter. Mix well.

Pour into pie shell (it was just a bit too much filling, but not enough to make a second pie). Add the pecans in a circular design on top of pie. Bake for 45 minutes at Gas Mark 5.

It puffed up incredibly in the oven, and shrank considerably on cooling. I was expecting something a bit more custardy, it came out like a very rich and gooey brownie in a pastry shell, with pecans on the top. The pecans scorched a bit, you could easily have put chopped pecans in the bottom or just stirred them through the mix.

I suspect that if you let the mixture set instead of cooking it, you would have a very tolerable chocolate mousse-type thing.

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Texan Dollies

One to make the fillings hurt. From olive February 2004. No nutritional info given, but you wouldn't really want to know, would you? Great to take to office bakesale days. Because you could have one, but if you had them at home you wouldn't stop.

  • 300 gms crushed digestive biscuits
  • 150 gms unsalted butter, melted
  • 150 gms chopped walnuts
  • 100 gms chocolate chips, milk or plain
  • 75 gms sultanas
  • 200 gms dessicated coconut
  • 600 ml sweetened condensed milk
  • 50 gms plain chocolate

Heat the oven to Gas Mark 3.

Mix biscuit crumbs and butter. Press into the base of a lightly oiled baking tin about 20cm square and at least 5 cm deep.

Cover the base with the walnuts, chocolate chips, sultanas and coconut. Pour over the condensed milk and spread evenly.

Bake for 30 – 35 minutes until light golden. (They emphasise the oven must be no hotter than Gas Mark 3 and the cake should not be overbaked.) Let it cool overnight in the tin.

Melt the plain chocolate and drizzle over the top. Once it has set, using a very sharp knife, cut into 25 squares, easing gently out of the tin.

Make sure you don't use a good non-stick pan or the sharp knife bit will be a bugger. So don't line it with foil or anything either. You could substitute things easily – dried cherries or cranberries for the sultanas; pecans or hazelnuts or chopped brazils for the walnuts. I think the coconut probably has an important part to play in texture and holding everything together, I'm not sure if you could use anything else.

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Baileys Rocky Road Brownies

I have found a LOT of Baileys recipes in adverts and advertorial in these Christmas magazines. This is from delicious December 2005. Makes 12, calories too awful to contemplate.


  • 50 ml Baileys Irish Cream
  • 200 gms chopped dark chocolate
  • 100 gms condensed milk
  • 25 gms butter
  • 75 gms dried cranberries
  • Two lots of white chocolate – 75 gms chopped and 100 gms melted for topping
  • 75 gms digestive biscuits, crushed
  • 200 gms mini white marshmallows

In a bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt together the Baileys, dark chocolate, condensed milk and butter. Beat til smooth and cool slightly.

Stir in everything else except the 100 gms white chocolate, putting marshmallows in last so they don't melt too much.

Line a 33×23 cm Swiss Roll tin with baking paper, press the mixture in, cover and chill til set.

Melt the white chocolate and drizzle over the top. Cut into thick slices to serve.

Not sure where it comes off calling itself a brownie. Excessive or what?


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Buckwheat Pancakes

One of our houseguests this weekend has a problem with gluten, and although it's relatively easy to get suitable bread, and of course he can have eggs and bacon and stuff like that, I thought I'd look around for something a bit more unusual this time. In the Free From section of the supermarket they had an Orgran brand Buckwheat Pancake Mix, just add water, milk and eggs for the standard pancakes (plus instructions for making egg and dairy free versions).

We had 5 people for brunch, and the packet, made up with 3 eggs, made enough for 2 full size crepes each. I thinned it down with a bit more water after the first couple, made it easier to spread across the pan and get a more lacy, crisp effect at the edges.

Toppings included:

  • sliced ham, gouda and optional stem ginger, a la Upstairs pancakes from Amsterdam. Everyone opted to have one of these to start, and one person opted for it again for round two
  • smoked salmon, heated on the pancake and then smeared with lite cream cheese cold on the plate (I'd have added some mustard or horseradish or lemon, but it wasn't their choice, and hey, their pancake)
  • sliced banana and maple syrup
  • fresh blueberries, 100% chocolate nibs and maple syrup

The chocolate needed a lot of sweetener, it's cocoa mass with no sugar or fat in it, and can be VERY bitter (maybe whipped cream would have helped as well).

We found that the sweeter pancakes were better with a little butter melted under them in the pan towards the end, very tasty. DON'T be tempted to cook them in butter to start though. I used a very very heavy unoiled pan, and it was fine, but when we put fat in it, the pancake just cludged up immediately and I couldn't spread it across the pan base to get it thin.

They've all gone now, I can go back to bed.

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Seven Layers of Sin

Someone reminded me of this tonight, it's been a long long time since I made it … and said she'd found it on the net, I'd forgotten that I'd contributed it to The Umrats Online Cookbook years ago (there's more of the cookbook here: )

You'll need a large, 9 or 10 inch cake tin with a removable bottom: the spring-loaded sided ones are best. This recipe takes at least two days. If you need to, you can double the ingredients, but allow for longer cooking time with the cheesecake bit. As it stands, it'll do eight to twelve slices, each about the calorific value of a box of Belgian truffles.

First make a biscuit base. Take half a pack of chocolate-coated digestive biscuits, or the crumbly oaty ones (Hobnobs), and crush into crumbs (or whizz in a processor). Mix with 4 oz melted butter, and press the whole lot firmly into the bottom of the pan.

The next layer is a cooked cheesecake. Heat the oven to gas mark 4. In a big bowl, beat 12 oz of cream cheese until it's smooth and light. Add 6 oz caster sugar. Beat together 2 eggs, and add to the bowl, mixing really well. You can add a tablespoon of your favourite booze here if you like, or a tablespoon of strong coffee. Pour this over the base, and bake in the oven for about half an hour, until it is set and doesn't wobble a lot in the middle. Take it out of the oven, and leave it to cool for not more than ten minutes, while you grate or finely chop a normal-sized bar of plain chocolate. Spread the top of the warm cheesecake with a small tub of creme fraiche or sour cream. Sprinkle the chocolate on the top. As the cream gets hot it will melt the chocolate, then as it cools it all sets. You are now on layer four. This is a good point to get to the day before, if you have a lot of time on the day or you're skipping layers five and six.

Layers five and six are optional, but are both made the same way. Layer five is made with white chocolate, layer six with the best dark chocolate you can find.

When the cake is cold: Take one large bar of chocolate, or two normal sized ones. Melt slowly, in a bowl over hot water or at a very low temperature in the microwave, stirring as you go.

Whip a half-pint (10 fl oz) of double cream until it is quite firm. Take a spoonful and stir it into the melted chocolate, to thin it down a bit, then add the chocolate to the cream. Stir fast, it starts to set almost straight away. You can add some more liqueur here if you like. Spoon the mixture onto the cake, spread it out and leave it to cool and set.

Layer seven is the final layer, and you can leave this until the last minute if you want. It's easier if you get the cake out of the tin and put it on a plate. You don't need to get it off the bottom of the tin, just release the sides. Whip as much double cream as you want, at least 10 fl oz, until it is stiff. Pile it on top of the cake, and sprinkle with chopped dark chocolate, or those fancy chocolate cutouts you can buy. If you want to add fresh fruit (like strawberries) this is the place and time.

Cut in thin wedges; and this is me telling you, they need to be thin.

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Cassata Trifle

from a Waitrose recipe card, dated December 2005

claims 8 portions, at 603kcals per serving

2 packs Lyons Trifle Sponges (16 sponges total) (I like Madeira or poundcake better)
150ml Marsala or Madeira
2 x 300g packs frozen Waitrose Raspberries, defrosted (fresh if they're around, and more for the top)
2 x 250g pots ricotta cheese
4 tbsp icing
284ml pot double cream
25g Waitrose Italian Cut Mixed Peel
100g Waitrose Continental Plain Chocolate (I have cocoa mass buttons, pure 100% chocolate, from my sister, which I'd probably use instead)

Place half the trifle sponges in the base of a glass trifle bowl or dish. Drizzle over half of the Marsala or Madeira and leave to soak for 5 minutes. Scatter about a third of the raspberries over the sponge layer.

Place the ricotta in a large bowl and add the icing sugar and half the cream. Combine with a fork until smooth, then stir through the mixed peel and remaining raspberries. Chop two thirds of the chocolate into small pieces and stir into the ricotta mixture.

Spoon a layer of the ricotta mixture on top of the sponge bases and then arrange the remaining sponges on top of the ricotta. Drizzle over the rest of the Marsala or Madeira and then spread the remaining ricotta mixture on top.

To serve, whip the remaining double cream to soft peaks. Spread it over the ricotta mixture. Grate the remaining chocolate and sprinkle over the top. Chill before serving.


I like rich custardy trifles at Christmas, with sherry and raspberry jam, but this looked good. It suggests that it's better the next day, but then almost all trifles are.

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Peanut Butter Bacon Chocolate Truffles

Of which I know nothing but the name. And that a recipe appeared in Saveur magazine March 2005.

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