Niamh Doherty

Posts Tagged ‘Chocolate’

Nutella Cheesecake

In Chocolate, Comfort Food, Dessert on January 28, 2013 at 17:52


Once again, I’ve been neglecting my blog, and my readers, if there are any left. Consider this recipe a culinary white flag, and accept my apologies. Today’s nugget of deliciousness comes to you courtesy of the inimitable Nigella Lawson, and is featured in her newest book, Nigellissima. I caught the Christmas episode of the TV series cacompanying the book, in which she suggested serving this cheesecake as part of an Italian-inspired feast, and I was smitten. I adore hazelnuts and am obsessed with chocolate; in short, I had to make this.

Many people presume that making a cheesecake is a daunting affair involving waterbaths, dangerously liquid fillings and all manner of kitchen trickery, but this honestly couldn’t be easier. There is no baking involved – you simply throw the ingredients for the base into a food processor before nonchalantly pressing it into a tin and dolloping a cream-cheese and Nutella mixture on top. Honestly, the hardest part is coaxing the surprisingly semi-solid Nutella out of the jar. Well, that, and not eating the whole thing yourself…

I knew once I’d licked the filling off the beaters while making this that I was onto a winner, but to say it went down a treat at a recent get-together is an understatement. We didn’t bother with bowls but, rather primitively, attacked the unmoulded cake with spoons. Every time I walked past it in the kitchen another chunk had gone missing, and I was on the receiving end of an irate text from my friend’s husband the next day when he realised I’d taken the leftovers home with me.

Nigella instructs us to make the base in a food processor, but if you don’t have one – like me – don’t let that stop you. Simply melt the butter and 25g of Nutella together, and mix with the biscuits which you’ve crushed manually in a plastic bag – I like to use a large tin of tomatoes for the job, it’s wonderfully cathartic – before pressing into your tin and proceeding as normal. You can, of course, toast and chop your hazelnuts yourself, but seeing as Tesco have done all the hard work for you why not take advantage of it? You will be appalled at the amount of Nutella and cream cheese that goes into this, but life, as they say, is for living, and a small slice won’t kill you. It’s best served with a blob of whipped cream and a large dollop of self-control.

Nutella Cheesecake – serves 1-12


  • 250g digestive biscuits
  • 75g soft butter
  • 400g Nutella (at room temperature)
  • 500g cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 100g hazelnuts (toasted and chopped – as discussed you can buy them already toasted and chopped)
  • 60g icing sugar


1. Break the digestives into the bowl of a  food processor, add the soft butter and a tablespoon of Nutella. Process until it starts to clump together. Add 25g of the hazelnuts and continue to pulse until the mixture resembles damp sand.


Melt the butter and a tablespoon of Nutella together. Bash the biscuits in a clear plastic food bag with a rolling pin/tin of beans or tomatoes/your own crushing self-doubt until you have uniform crumbs. Add 25g of the hazelnuts into the biscuits and then stir in the melted butter/Nutella until it is thoroughly and evenly distributed.

2. Tip your biscuit mixture into a 23cm round springform tin and press down, using either your fingers or the back of a spoon. Put the tin in the fridge to chill while you make the topping.

3. For the topping, beat the cream cheese and sieved icing sugar together until smooth. Add the remaining Nutella and mix until combined.

4. Take the tin out of the fridge and dollop the Nutella mixture on top of the base. Spread evenly and top with the chopped, toasted hazelnuts. Put the finished cheesecake back in the fridge for 4 hours, or overnight.

Note: This is best served straight from the fridge as it will be easier to cut. I didn’t get to snap a photo of my own cheesecake so the picture above is from Nigella’s website. Credit is due to her photographer and most certainly not to me.


Decadent Chocolate Mousse

In Dessert on July 28, 2010 at 20:15

Like any self-respecting girl, I love my chocolate, and this mousse is perfect for any chocoholics that you may know.  I use a mixture of milk and dark chocolate to give this dessert a sweetly creamy, yet intense chocolate flavour. This mousse is quick and easy to make – the only slightly tricksy bit is the adding of the egg whites, and that’s not very difficult at all. This makes a fabulous end to a meal with a cup of good coffee, and needs no embellishment (though some sharp raspberry coulis would be gorgeous). Make this for your next dinner party, and your guests will want to come back again, and again!

Chocolate Mousse (taken from Rachel’s Favourite Food, by Rachel Allen)


120g good-quality dark chocolate (or use a mixture of milk and dark, as I do)

120ml cream

2 eggs separated


1. Finely chop the chocolate. In a saucepan, bring the cream up to the boil. Turn off the heat, add the chocolate and stir until the chocolate has melted. Whisk in the egg yolks, and transfer to a large, wide bowl. This will make it easier to fold in the egg whites in the next step.

2. In a separate, clean, dry bowl, whisk the egg whites until just stiff, and then gently stir in a quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites, being careful not to knock all the air out. It’s the air bubbles that will make your mousse feather-light and airy.

3. Spoon into little bowls, glasses or cups, and leave in the fridge for an hour or two to set. Rachel says that this fills about 10 small glasses, but I half-filled four heart-shaped ramekins instead. This mousse is so tasty that you’ll want to eat lots of it!

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

In Baking on April 26, 2010 at 23:03

Tower of cupcakes, anyone?

Flicking through my cookbooks this weekend, looking for a cupcake recipe on which to practise my icing, I stumbled across a recipe for Chocolate Cake in Rachel Allen’s Bake. Featuring a sinfully rich buttercream icing, when she mentioned that this could also be adapted for cupcakes, I was sold.

With my friend Dara’s (very good) taste in mind, I decided to play with the flavours a little and added grated orange zest to the icing. Before I’d even tasted the cakes themselves, a licked, icing-dipped finger had me rolling my eyes in paroxysms of ecstasy – it’s that good.

Making the cake itself is pretty easy – my butter and sugar could have been fluffier for a lighter cake, but overall I was happy. There is some folding-in of ingredients involved, but nothing too taxing. I used Dairy Milk chocolate, my old favourite, instead of dark chocolate, hoping it would counter the very dark cocoa that lives in my cupboard. Next time, I think I’ll use dark chocolate, or a mixture; the cakes, though tasty, could have been darker, I think. Rachel says that these quantities will make 12 cupcakes, but I half-filled my paper cases  – easier to ice – and got 18 in all. These are definite crowd pleasers – bring a plate along to a party to ensure that your glass stays topped up all night.

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes (adapted from Bake, by Rachel Allen)


For the cake –

125g dark chocolate

3 tbsp milk

150g softened butter

150g caster sugar

3 eggs

200g plain flour

1 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the chocolate orange butter icing –

75g softened butter

Grated zest of 1 orange

1 tbsp cream (and have more to hand should you need to thin out the icing a little)

175g icing sugar

1 tbsp cocoa powder


1. Preheat the oven to 180 Celcius, Gas mark 4.

2. Put the chocolate and the milk in a bowl sitting over a saucepan of gently simmering water and heat until then chocolate has melted.

3. Beat the butter until very soft. Then add the caster sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, before folding in the melted chocolate mixture.

4. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and the bicarbonate of soda, and fold in gently to mix. Spoon the mixture into the your paper cases, half-filling each of them.

5. Pop in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for a few minutes before putting them on a wire rack to cool.

6. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the chocolate butter icing. Beat the butter, cream and orange zest until very soft. Gradually sift in the icing sugar and the cocoa powder, beating all the time, until it is all added. Continue to beat until very soft, then whisk the mixture until it is light and fluffy. If you think that the icing is too thick, add another 5mls or so of cream at a time, whisking between each addition until you are happy with the consistency.

7. Ice the cupcakes by slathering on the icing, or using a piping bag and nozzle to create pleasing designs. Remember, these are small cupcakes, so they don’t need too much icing. Decorate with strips of orange peel, if feeling so inclined.

Bad-Ass Brownies

In Dessert on April 9, 2010 at 21:42

Why are my brownies so bad-ass, I hear you ask? Well, because brownies can be difficult – too short a cooking time, and they are far too sticky; too long, and they’re dry and cakey. After many failures and attempts at allegedly foolproof recipes, I found this one. My failsafe, go-to, port-in-a-storm brownie recipe, and, as is my wont, I ignored all of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s proffered advice, added sub-standard ingredients and flouted the method…and they STILL worked. These are awesome.

I use Dairy Milk chocolate – I know that my fellow foodies won’t approve, but I’ve just lost my dark chocolate tooth. I’ve made these with eleventy million percent cocoa solids chocolate before, and found them to be too dark for me. I do, however, redeem myself by using super-duper, fairtrade, save the whales cocoa powder, which brings them back from the brink of being a too-sweet joke. I add pecans instead of walnuts, use granulated sugar instead of caster when that’s all I’ve got in the house and melt the chocolate and butter in a saucepan on a direct heat, which is a big no-no. It works for me though – just melt the butter slightly before adding the chocolate, keep the heat low, and you’re away.

Double Chocolate Brownies (from The River Cottage Family Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall & Fizz Carr)


250g chocolate

200g butter

200g caster sugar

3 eggs

125g plain flour

50g cocoa powder

100g broken walnuts (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 160 Celcius/Gas Mark 3.

2. Melt the butter and chocolate together, either by suspending over a water bath, or by my lazy method outlined above.

3. In a bowl, whisk the sugar with the eggs until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

4. Add the chocolate/butter mixture to the eggy mix, and mix thorougly.

5. Sift the flour and cocoa powder and mix thorougly. Add the nuts and mix again.

6. Line your baking tray with foil/baking parchment (or use a nifty silicone tray like I do, thereby eliminating any element of make-and-do) and pour in the mixture, smoothing the top with a spatula.

7. Put the tray in the middle of the oven, and bake for 20-25 minutes. A knife pushed into the centre at this stage should come out just smeared with the mix. Err on the gooey side of caution, and take them out of the oven if you’re unsure – they can always go back in later if need be and they often cook a little more in the residual heat of the tin.

These are gorgeous as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up with a glass of milk or coffee, delicious for dessert with a dollop of creme fraiche and some raspberry coulis, or divine when eaten still warm with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. They also do double-duty as a birthday cake – just pile them up on a cake stand and stud with lit candles or sparklers to celebrate a special occasion.