Chocolate Pot


Scraping the vanilla seeds

This pot of vanilla infused dark chocolate is gently baked in a bain marie before chilling in the fridge for six hours; you have to break through a firm crust to get to the thick baked mousse underneath. This is a recipe from  the Chocolate chapter of Simon Hopkinson’s Roast Chicken and Other Stories. The chapter is dedicated to unadulterated decadence; every recipe rich with dark chocolate and double cream. I chose this one in particular because I like serving desserts baked in individual portion-sized ramekins.

We have Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés to thank for this pud, who is said to have introduced both vanilla and chocolate to Europe on his return from Central America. Vanilla is the sun-dried seed pod of a climbing orchid. It is the most expensive spice after Saffron because the flowers must be hand pollinated and the pods dried very slowly.


  • 175ml double cream
  • 1/2 vanilla pod, split lengthways
  • 75ml milk
  • 125g dark, bitter chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 2 small egg yolks (size 5-6)
  • 1 heaped tbsp icing sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 140°C, warm the cream with the vanilla pod, whisk to disperse the seeds then leave to infuse for 30 minutes.
  2. Melt the chocolate in the milk. Beat together the egg yolks and the sugar, add the chocolate milk and vanilla cream  and blend thoroughly.
  3. Pass through a fine sieve and pour into small ramekins. Bake for 45 mins-1 hour or until slightly puffed up and spongy.
  4. Cool thoroughly in the fridge for at least 6 hours before serving.

DSCF4695 Egg yolks and icing sugar

DSCF4689Broken chocolate and milk in a bain marie


Ready for the oven, what a mess!

DSCF4702The finished desert, you can see the spongy texture

I left the pots to cool on an improvised chopstick rack before refrigerating them. Six hours later we served them with some stewed strawberries and plums.


Banana Cake

Cold days like today get me baking for two reasons; to warm the kitchen up for a few precious hours, and to make some invariably warm, chocolatey comfort food. Today I holed myself up in there with my laptop, my new camera and some seriously ripe bananas.

When a banana is cut from its tree an enzyme called polyphenoloxidase, in the presence of oxygen, activates in-built defence mechanisms called phenols. Their purpose is to fend off insects and microbes and the brown colour is produced as a side effect to this process.

When ripe bananas are on offer for cheap, or even better for free I am unable to turn them down which leads to a range of brown to black fruit accumulating on top of the fridge repelling insects and humans alike. Every now and then they are scrambled into action in the form of a smoothie, milkshake, or banana bread/cake.

Today I used Nigel Slater’s recipe for ‘Black Banana Cake’;


I made some changes to correspond with what I had in my cupboards. Unfortunately, Nigel’s nuts got axed, I used a mix of muscovado and caster sugar and 3 smallish bananas which came to about 290g.


Knife comes out clean

Banana cake out of the oven.