Tag Archives: chocolate

Canelés de Bordeaux


There is an exquisite patisserie called Pariès in Bayonne, which is the capital of the Basque country in south-western France. They recently produced a  book of their recipes, which I drooled over discovered the other day. Bayonne is famous for its chocolate, amongst other things, and was one of the first places in Europe to produce chocolate in the early 17th century. There is always a deliciously rich, chocolate-laden aroma in the streets of the city centre. It’s sometimes worth just strolling around there to get a fix!

I will be sharing some of the chocolate recipes from this absolute gem of a book, but today I made another regional speciality: canelé [kan-ul-ay]. A canelé (or cannelé) is a small French pastry with a moist custard-like centre and a dark, thick caramelized crust. It is the shape of a striated cylinder approximately 5 cms in height and is a specialty of Bordeaux.

These contain too much sugar for me to claim that they’re positively good for you. Having said that, I made them with cane sugar and spelt flour (of course!) and as they contain rich, ‘real’ ingredients they are most definitely a healthier choice as a treat than anything in packaging! I had to make a second batch to photograph because the first batch disappeared far too quickly; They’re that moreish!

Ingredients (makes about 12)

You will need a special canelé mould to make these. The best are made from copper, although I used silicon.

400ml milk

20g salted butter

2 egg yolks

1 egg

140g sugar (I used cane sugar)

120g flour (I used spelt flour)

1 vanilla pod

10cl rum

A little extra butter for greasing the moulds

Beat the egg yolks, egg and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the flour and vanilla and continue to mix gently. Bring the milk to the boil in a saucepan, remove from the heat and immediately add the butter. When the milk has cooled to lukewarm, add to the other ingredients in the mixing bowl.  Mix well. Leave the mixture to rest in the fridge for at least 24 hours, 48 hours if possible. This is important as the mixture must be as ‘airless’ as possible or it will rise during cooking. Also for this reason, it must always be mixed gently, taking care not to add too much air.

To cook the canelés, preheat the oven to 220°C. Remove the mixture from the fridge and very gently stir the (what will now be separated) batter until homogenous. Add the rum at this stage too. Fill the buttered moulds about 7/8 full. Cook for 10 minutes at 220°C and then turn the oven down to 190°C. Cook for a further 40 minutes. Leave to cool before eating.

Mini chocolate hazlenut cakes (gluten-free)

I’m stunned: I  just read a newspaper article about losing weight that actually made good sense. It advocates walking/skipping/moving yourself in whatever way you fancy over going to the gym. It favours eating full-fat dairy products in moderate quantities over highly processed food and lastly it advises turning your central heating down or off. It’s all based on the principle of turning white fat (lazy fat) into brown fat (active fat). I can’t see it catching on though — ‘Common Sense and Beige Fat’ is hardly bestseller title material is it?

Here are some delicious mini chocolate cakes, to be consumed with moderation after a brisk walk in the fresh air and the central heating down low.

Ingredients (makes 16)

200g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)

150g butter

130g cane sugar

4 eggs, beaten

60g powdered hazelnuts

60g powdered almonds

Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Melt the chocolate and butter together. Combine the beaten eggs and sugar, gradually adding the powdered almonds and hazelnuts. Add the melted butter and chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and combine well. Pour the mixture into mini cake moulds and bake for 20 minutes.

Chilli con carne and itinerant horses

This is the sort of dish that is even better a day or two after it’s made, which is just as well really as I had no time to prepare lunch, having spent all morning chasing our Houdini horses. They escape more regularly than I like to admit – let’s just say that they are well-known by everyone within a 5 km radius and by the town ‘Mairie’.

Ingredients (serves 4)

250g dried red kidney beans (soaked overnight and boiled for 10 minutes)

500g minced beef

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

6 tomatoes, blanched and skinned

1 red bell pepper (cut into strips)

4 chilli peppers (sliced)

6 mushrooms, peeled and sliced

2 tablespoons of tomato purée

2 glasses of red wine

250ml beef stock

1 sprig of rosemary and 2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon Worcester sauce

1 square of 80% dark chocolate

Seasoning to taste : sea salt, black pepper, chilli powder

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Pour the olive oil into a medium-sized casserole dish and heat. Add the onions, garlic, mushrooms and mince and brown well, stirring around a bit. Once browned, add the bell pepper, the chilli peppers and the tomatoes and continue to cook until gently simmering. Add the tomato purée, the kidney beans, Worcester sauce, seasoning, stock, red wine and herbs and bring back to a simmer. Cook in the oven for about two hours, checking from time-to-time that there is enough liquid. Add the dark chocolate, stirring well to melt, just before serving.

May be served as a standalone dish, like soup, or with coleslaw and green salad.

Almond chocolate cake

You may have noticed that I never use normal flour in my recipes. This isn’t only because eating refined wheat flour is about as nutritious as snacking on yesterday’s newspaper, but because I’m wheat-intolerant. It’s not something I harp on about a) because it’s boring and b) because I’ve noticed that not ‘tolerating’ is something that brings out the devil in a lot of people. I’ve lost count of the number of times people have offered me something that is quite patently going to have me doubled up in agony within the next twelve hours and refused to take no for an answer when I decline: ‘Oh go on, I’ve just made it, a little bit won’t hurt, surely…’ It’s as if I’m saying no to be awkward, or to be interesting or different. Err no, if I wanted to be awkward I’d ask you to serve it to me sprinkled with powdered rhino horn, and if I wanted to be interesting or different I’d dye my hair indigo and take up mud pit belly flopping.

This cake, regardless of your ‘wheat status’, is divine. It will leave you wondering why you ever made chocolate cakes with wheat flour. The fact that it uses powdered almonds means that, for a chocolate cake, its GI is quite low and that it contains valuable nutrients. It also has a fairly low sugar content.


5 eggs

130g cane sugar

140g powdered almonds

60g butter

60g coconut oil

125g dark chocolate (preferably 90% coco)

pinch of bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Melt the chocolate with the butter and coconut oil. Once melted, add to the sugar, egg yolks, almonds, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and pour into a 20cm cake tin. Bake for 45 minutes.