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Chocolate Log

Chocolate Log Cake with Nutmeg

This Chocolate Log Cake, flavoured with fresh nutmeg, is my version of a traditional Yule Log. I make one of these cakes every year for Christmas as most of my family members prefer a chocolate cake to a traditional, fruited Christmas cake.

Although it is a great seasonal recipe, particularly with the sweet and spicy flavouring of the nutmeg, I make it all year around. It looks attractive and is much easier to make than you might think. In fact, it is my go-to birthday cake for the chocolate lovers in my family.

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What you need to know about this recipe

This is what you need to know about this easy Chocolate Log Cake recipe.

  • This cake cooks in only 10 minutes so it is actually a very quick recipe. However, as with any iced cake, you do need to allow time for the cake to cool down before you add the icing.
  • As with any simple recipe, the quality of the ingredients is the key to the final flavour. Make sure that you use good quality cocoa powder and dark chocolate (at least 40% cocoa solids).
  • Also, I strongly encourage you to buy whole nutmegs and grate them yourself. You can use a normal kitchen grater to grate off what you need. You don’t need need any special equipment. Whole nutmegs are readily available in most supermarkets and keep for a very long time. The rich, spicy and complex flavour of freshly-grated nutmeg is totally different from ready-grated.
  • The process of rolling up (points 10-12 in recipe) and filling the cake (point 13) sounds complicated but is pretty easy. If the cake looks a bit cracked or imperfect it really doesn’t matter. It will be coated in delicious nutmeg-flavoured chocolate ganache which will cover up any imperfections. You can cut off the ends of the cake when it has been iced to neaten it up.
  • When you ice the cake (point 14) have a jug of hot water to hand. If you dip your palette knife in this periodically to make it hot, the icing will go on much easier.

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

Other chocolate recipes

If you are in the mood for a bit of chocolate baking, you might also like my easy Chocolate Brownies and my Red Velvet Cake.

Other Christmas treats

The festive season is a great time to do a bit of baking. I know a few non-bakers who get inspired to bake at this time of the year. I think it is due to maybe having a bit more time available as a lot of people will take a bit of annual leave at this time of year. Also, Christmas is a time when there is a focus on entertaining friends and family. A few home-baked goodies are a great way to get into the festive mood! I have a lot of great baking recipes for easy biscuits (cookies)cakes and desserts.

If you like this Chocolate Log Cake recipe and are looking for more ideas for sweet and savoury Christmas bakes and snacks, you might also like some of these recipes.

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

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Chocolate Log Cake

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 1 log cake 1x
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This easy Chocolate Log Cake, or Yule Log, consists of nutmeg flavoured chocolate sponge filled with whipped cream and covered in a rich chocolate icing.


Scale

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 4 eggs
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) caster sugar
  • 65 g (2.5 oz) self-raising flour
  • 500 g (2 oz) cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

For the filling:

  • 250 ml double cream

For the icing:

  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) double cream
  • 150 g (5 oz) good quality dark chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Set your oven to 170 C/325 F/Gas Mark 3.
  2. Grease a 33 cm x 23 cm (13 x 9 inch) Swiss roll tin and line with baking parchment.
  3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites.
  4. Put the egg yolks and caster sugar into a bowl and whisk until combined using an electric or hand-held whisk.
  5. Sift the self-raising flour and cocoa powder into the bowl.  Then add the grated nutmeg.  Stir to combine with the egg yolks and caster sugar.  
  6. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites using an electric or hand-held whisk until they form soft peaks.
  7. Fold the beaten egg whites into the mixture in the other bowl.  
  8. Pour the mixture into the Swiss roll tin.   
  9. Cook the cake for 1o minutes until it is springy to the touch.
  10. Put another piece of baking parchment, slightly larger than the size of your Swiss roll tin onto your work surface.  Then invert the cooked cake  onto it and peel away the baking parchment that lined your Swiss roll tin.
  11. While the cake is still warm, score it with a knife approximately 1 cm from one of its longer edges.  Working from that edge, start to roll up the cake with the new piece of baking parchment inside it.   Leave the rolled up cake to cool.
  12. Make the icing by gently heating the double cream in a small saucepan.  It will be hot enough when you can just bear to put your finger into it.  Remove from the heat.  Break the chocolate into small pieces and add it to the warm cream.  When the chocolate has melted, add the grated nutmeg, stir to combine and then allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
  13. Assemble the chocolate log but gently unrolling it and removing the baking parchment.  Whip the double cream for the filling using an electric or hand-held whisk until it forms soft peaks.   Spread the whipped cream onto the cake and re-roll it.  
  14. Using a palette knife, smooth the chocolate icing over the outside of the rolled cake.   Using a fork, make lines on the surface of the cake so that it resembles a log. You can cut off the ends of the cake to even them up once it has been iced if you wish to do so.

Notes

As this cake contains fresh cream, it needs to be stored in the fridge if it is not going to be eaten immediately.

Keywords: chocolate, Christmas, nutmeg

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare with A Strong Coffee and #FiestaFriday with Fiesta Friday  and  [email protected] Goats & Greens

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Cauliflower Soup

Cauliflower Cheese Soup with Paprika

This Cauliflower Cheese Soup is thick and gently-flavoured. It is the perfect comfort food on colder days. The mild taste of the cauliflower is given a lift from the addition of warm spicy paprika and tangy cheese. If you like eating cauliflower cheese, this has the same comforting and sustaining flavour but in the form of a soup.

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I learned to love cauliflower in a cheese sauce fairly late in life. Overcooked and soggy versions, in a watery sauce, were a regular feature of lunches at my school. At home, my mother cooked cauliflower Sicilian-style – al dente with onions and tomatoes. I was about eight before I realised it was the same vegetable as the mushy white stuff I got at school.

Now I cook cauliflower both ways. I still cook it Sicilian-style, lightly cooked in a rich onion and tomato sauce, sometimes with the addition of pine nuts and raisins. (My mum struggled to get hold of pine nuts in England in the 1970s…) However, Cauliflower Cheese is a regular supper staple and cauliflower in white sauce (same recipe but without the cheese) often accompanies a Sunday roast. For me, the key that runs through all these recipes is not to overcook the cauliflower!

What you need to know about making this Cauliflower Cheese Soup recipe

  • First off, it is a very quick and simple recipe. You can go from raw ingredients to a bowl of comforting soup in 20 minutes. Unlike many of my soups, it doesn’t involve roasting or slow frying the vegetables in order to bring out their flavour.
  • It is really important not to overcook the cauliflower (step 1) as it will be cooked again when the soup is warmed up.
  • The basis of this soup is a basic white sauce. If you have never made one before this can seem a bit daunting but it is really simple as you will see from step 2 in the recipe. Being able to make a white sauce is a really useful cooking skill and can be used in all sorts of recipes such as Macaroni Cheese and Lasagne.
  • I add paprika to my recipe as I think this adds just the right amount of warm spiciness to the soup. Smoked paprika would also be a good option. If you really want to spice things up a bit, you could add half a teaspoon of cayenne. Alternatively, if you are not a big fan of spice, you can just leave it out.
  • Use a good flavoured cheese (step 3). I use an extra-mature cheddar but any strong, hard cheese will do. You need to have that tangy cheese taste to highlight the flavour of the cauliflower.

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

How can I use this soup?

I make a batch of this soup and eat it for lunches during the week. It is quite filling and, although you could have some bread or a roll with it, it really doesn’t need it. It is a great soup to take in a flask if you are going for a long walk or doing any strenuous outdoor activity because it is so thick and sustaining.

If you are feeding a crowd, Cauliflower Cheese Soup is a good option as most people seem to like it. You can make it in advance and then quickly re-heat.

You could have this soup as a starter for a more formal meal. However, I would only use it if you were having a light main course.

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

Other easy vegetarian soup recipes

I have lots of easy, vegetarian soup recipes. If you like this Onion Soup you might like some of the others. All my soups are vegetarian and all can be made vegan by substituting animal fats, such as butter, for vegetable fats. Some of them are pretty simple such as Onion Soup with Sage, Leek and Potato SoupNettle Soup, Fennel SoupJerusalem Artichoke Soup  or Sweetcorn Chowder and showcase a single vegetable.

Others combine vegetables which have complimentary flavours such as Curried Parsnip and Apple SoupMoroccan Spiced Sweet Potato SoupCeleriac and Apple SoupMushroom and Chestnut SoupPumpkin and Sweetcorn Soup or Leek and Potato Soup. A few have more unusual combinations of flavours such as Beetroot Soup with Coconut or Butternut and Peanut Butter Soup. I also have a few chilled soup recipes, which are fantastic cold in the summer, but can also be served warm such as Asparagus and Pea and Tomato.

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

Recipe for Cauliflower Cheese Soup with Paprika

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Cauliflower Cheese Soup

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This Cauliflower Cheese Soup is thick and gently-flavoured with the mild taste of the cauliflower being lifted by the addition of warm spicy paprika and tangy cheese.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sized cauliflower
  • Salt and pepper
  • 50 g (2 oz) butter
  • 50 g (2 oz) flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 750 ml (1.5 pint) milk plus up to 350 ml (12 fl oz) to thin the soup if required
  • 100 g strong  hard cheese (eg Cheddar)

Instructions

  1. Break the cauliflower into florets.  Heat a large pan of water to boiling point.  Add the florets together with a pinch of salt and simmer for approximately 7 minutes.   Drain and set the florets aside.
  2. In a separate pan, melt the butter and then add the flour and paprika.  Stir to combine and then cook for 3 minutes.    Remove from the pan from the heat and gradually stir in the milk.   Return the pan to the stove and heat gently until the sauce thickens.   
  3. Grate the cheese and add it to the sauce together with the cooked cauliflower florets.
  4. Blend the soup until smooth using a hand blender or food processor.
  5. Add up to  250 ml of milk to thin the soup to your desired consistency. 

Keywords: cauliflower, cheese

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare with Recipes Made Easy and #FiestaFriday with Fiesta Friday 

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Cinnamon Biscuits

Cinnamon Biscuits (Cookies) with Dried Cranberries and Tangerine

For me, these Cinnamon Biscuits (Cookies) are pretty much the flavour of Christmas. There is something about the combination of cinnamon, citrus and cranberries which is the very essence of the festive season.

I make these Cinnamon Biscuits (Cookies) during the Christmas and New Year holidays but they are pretty good at anytime of the year. They consist of a simple shortbread biscuit combined with dried cranberries and flavoured with cinnamon and tangerine zest. They are topped with a fresh citrus icing made with tangerine juice.

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What you need to know about this recipe

  • First off, as with all biscuit (cookie) recipes, it is really quick and easy. The biscuits can be out of the oven in half an hour.
  • However, you do need to make sure that the biscuits (cookies) don’t burn. It is worth checking them after they have been in the oven for 10 minutes (step 8).
  • I generally add icing to these biscuits as I like the extra flavour that you get from using the tangerine juice. It also makes them look a bit more festive particularly if you decorate with a dried cranberry. However, if you are short of time or don’t particularly like icing, you don’t need to ice them. They will still taste pretty good!
  • I like using dried cranberries in this recipe as they are associated with Christmas and also because I love their sweet-sour flavour and ruby red colour. However, you can substitute the same quantity of any dried fruit – raisins, sultanas, currants – if you prefer. You can also leave the dried fruit out altogether if you wish.
Other festive sauces and accompaniments

The festive season is a great time to do a bit of baking. I have a lot of great baking recipes for easy biscuits (cookies), cakes and desserts. I also have a few recipes for easy, home-made sauces and accompaniments that can take a festive meal to the next level. If you are preparing a special festive meal for Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year you might like to try some of my other recipes for drinks, snacks, accompaniments and desserts. They are very easy and are a great way to create a celebratory festive feast!

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

Biscuits and cookie recipes are a great place to start if you are new to home-baking.  Even if you are a more experienced cook, it is great to have a few biscuit recipes in your repertoire. They are quick and easy to make and taste so much better than shop-bought varieties.   You can have home-baked treats on the table in under an hour.

Shortbread is one of the easiest baking recipes. I have a number of shortbread recipes including Almond Shortbread with RosewaterShortbread with White Chocolate and Raspberries and Lavender Shortbread. I also have a very simple recipe for crisp and buttery Lemon Biscuits (Cookies). My recipe for Ginger Biscuits (Cookies) is oaty and mildly spiced. My recipe for sweet Thyme Biscuits (Cookies) with Pinenuts is a bit more unusual but just as easy to make. If you are looking for something savoury, I have an extremely moreish recipe for Cheese Biscuits (Cookies).

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

Recipe for Cinnamon Biscuits (Cookies) with Dried Cranberries and Tangerine

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Cinnamon Biscuits with Dried Cranberries and Tangerine

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Approximately 12 biscuits 1x
  • Category: Biscuits (Cookies)
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: English

Description

These quick and easy Cinnamon Biscuits (Cookies), flavoured with tangy tangerine and dried cranberries, are a brilliant seasonal treat.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 150 g  (6 oz) plain flour
  • 100 g (4 oz) butter 
  • 50 g (2 oz) caster sugar (superfine sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 2 tangerines
  • 25 g (1 oz) dried cranberries plus a few more to decorate
  • 100 g (4 oz) icing sugar

Instructions

  1. Set the oven to 170 C/325 F/Gas Mark 3
  2. Put the flour and butter into a bowl and rub together using your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Alternatively, process in a food processor. 
  3. Add the sugar, ground cinnamon and the grated zest of the tangerines.  Stir to combine and then add the dried cranberries.
  4. Squeeze the mixture together with your hands until it forms a soft dough.
  5. Roll the dough out to approximately 1 cm (half an inch) thickness.
  6. Cut into circles or other shapes if you wish.
  7. Place the circles on a baking tray lined with baking parchment or grease-proof paper.
  8. Bake for 15  minutes until golden.
  9. Remove from the oven and transfer the the biscuits to a cooling rack.
  10. Make the icing by mixing the juice of the two tangerines with the icing sugar. 
  11. When the biscuits are completely cold, put a teaspoon of icing on each one and top with a dried cranberry.

Keywords: biscuits, cookies, Christmas, cinnamon, cranberries

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare with Glutarama  and #FiestaFriday with Fiesta Friday and [email protected] Not So Creative Cook

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Onion Soup

Creamy Onion Soup with Sage

This velvety, smooth and mild Onion Soup is the perfect autumn or winter comfort food. It is very different from a traditional French Onion Soup which consists of pieces of onion in a thin, strongly-flavoured broth. I add a gentle hint of sage to my soup which adds an extra dimension to the flavour.

The idea for this soup came to me when I was making an onion sauce. I made a white sauce, containing soft pieces of onion, to serve with some Chestnut and Mushroom Pies. It occurred to me that the mild-but-tasty sauce would make a brilliant soup. I thinned it out a bit and blended it smooth and found out that it did!

I now make this soup regularly. It is one of those brilliant, simple recipes where very basic ingredients produce something wonderful with very little effort.

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What you need to know about this Onion Soup recipe

  • The key to this recipe is to cook the onions on a low heat for twenty minutes to ensure that they become soft and sweet. This process (step 2) is transformational and gives the finished soup a real depth of flavour and sweetness.
  • Try and use a good quality stock (step 4) as this will also make a big difference to the flavour. If you have home-made stock, so much the better. However, I generally use good quality vegetable bouillon powder.
  • My version of this soup is vegetarian. However, it is very easy to make the recipe vegan by using vegetable oil instead of butter (step 1) and by using a non-dairy milk (coconut milk or a nut milk such as almond or cashew) (step 6).
  • This soup can be made in advance and then reheated. It also freezes well and can be kept in the freezer for at least 6 months.

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

Other easy vegetarian soup recipes

I have lots of easy, vegetarian soup recipes. If you like this Onion Soup you might like some of the others. All my soups are vegetarian and all can be made vegan by substituting animal fats, such as butter, for vegetable fats. Some of them are pretty simple such as Leek and Potato Soup, Nettle Soup, Fennel SoupJerusalem Artichoke Soup  or Sweetcorn Chowder and showcase a single vegetable.

Others combine vegetables which have complimentary flavours such as Curried Parsnip and Apple SoupMoroccan Spiced Sweet Potato SoupCeleriac and Apple SoupMushroom and Chestnut SoupPumpkin and Sweetcorn Soup or Leek and Potato Soup. A few have more unusual combinations of flavours such as Beetroot Soup with Coconut or Butternut and Peanut Butter Soup. I also have a few chilled soup recipes, which are fantastic cold in the summer, but can also be served warm such as Asparagus and Pea and Tomato.

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

Recipe for Creamy Onion Soup with Sage

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Onion Soup with Sage

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This mild and velvety Onion Soup, gently flavoured with sage, is easy to make and is the perfect comfort food.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 75 g (3 oz) butter or oil
  • 5 large onions
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 50 g (2 oz) plain flour
  • 600 ml (1 pint) vegetable stock
  • 300 ml (Half a pint) of milk, vegetable stock or water

Instructions

  1. Heat the butter or oil in a heavy-based pan. 
  2. Peel and slice the onions.  Add to the pan with the sage, season with salt and pepper and cook slowly for twenty minutes until they are soft and sweet. 
  3. Add the flour and cook for a further two minutes. 
  4. Add the 500 ml of vegetable stock and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
  5. Blend the soup until smooth using a hand blender or food processor.
  6. Add up to 300 ml of milk, vegetable stock or water to thin the soup to your desired consistency. 

 


Keywords: soup, onion soup, onion, vegetarian

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare with Lost in Food and #FiestaFriday with Fiesta Friday and   [email protected], Spatulas & Spoons 

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Shallot Tart with Thyme and Anchovy

Shallot Tart with Thyme and Anchovy

Shallot Tart

This Shallot Tart is very quick and easy to make.   The flavours are a good balance with sweet, caramelised shallots, salty anchovies, pungent thyme and creamy mascarpone on a base of crispy, buttery puff pastry.     If you are a vegetarian, you could replace the anchovies with olives or capers which both have a strong, salty taste.

I make a lot of similar tarts. Generally, the toppings on these puff pastry tarts are determined by what I have to hand in my kitchen but they usually include something cheesy or creamy and also something oniony plus a few stronger flavours to pep things up!   

This thyme which is one of my favourite herbs. I use it in lots of savoury recipes but also in sweet ones such as Thyme Ice Cream with Honey, Thyme Cake and Thyme Biscuits (Cookies) with Pinenuts.

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Shallot Tart

What you need to know about this recipe

  • There is no shame in using ready-made puff pastry  – it makes things so much easier – but if you can find a brand that says it is made with butter it will taste so much better!
  • I love shallots, partly because they generally have a milder, sweeter flavour than most onions.   It is easy to remove the skins using boiling water, as described below (step 4). I like that they can be eaten whole (or halved) rather than needing to be chopped or sliced like regular onions.
  • You can omit the anchovies if you want to make this tart vegetarian (or simply don’t like anchovies). A few olives or a sprinkle of capers are good vegetarian alternatives.
  • When you are putting the toppings onto the pastry, make sure that you leave a border of around 2 cm (1 inch) around the edge.  This will mean that you get a lovely crispy edge of risen pastry.
  • I think this tart is best eaten hot with the pastry crisp from the oven.

Shallot Tart

Other quiche and tart recipes

Savoury tarts and quiches are a fantastic, cook-ahead simple supper or lunch. They are easy to make and are great either hot or at room temperature. They can also be easily divided into portions if you are feeding a large number of people. Easily transportable, they also make a good addition to lunch-boxes or basis for a picnic. Some of my favourites are listed below.

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

Recipe for Shallot Tart with Thyme and Anchovy

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Shallot Tart with Thyme and Anchovy

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: for 6 people 1x
  • Category: Tart
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This Shallot Tart with Thyme and Anchovy makes an easy and very tasty lunch or supper.  The combination of crisp buttery pastry, sweet shallots, fragrant thyme and salty anchovy is superb!


Scale

Ingredients

500 g (1lb) pack of ready-made puff pastry (get one made with butter if you can)
A little plain flour
A few sprigs of fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons of dried thyme
1 tin of anchovies
500 g (1lb)  of shallots
150 g (5 oz) of mascarpone


Instructions

  1. Set your oven to 180 C, 350 F or Gas Mark 4.
  2. Lightly dust your oven tray with flour.
  3. Roll out the puff pasty into a large rectangle and place on your oven tray.
  4. Remove the skins from your shallots.  The easiest way of doing this is to put them in a small saucepan, cover with boiling water and leave for 3 minutes.  Then drain off the water and the skins will be easy to remove.
  5. Cut each peeled shallot in half.  Place shallots in a small frying pan with a little butter and cook very gently until golden and softened.  This should take around 10 minutes.
  6. Spread the mascarpone over the puff pastry.  Leave a border of around 2 cm (1 inch) around the edge.  This will mean that you get a lovely crispy edge of risen pastry.
  7. Sprinkle with thyme leaves and small pieces of anchovy.  Then add the cooked shallots.
  8. Place the tart in the oven and cook for 20 minutes until the pastry is crispy and golden.
  9. The tart can be eaten hot, warm or at room temperature.   I like it best hot.

Keywords: shallot tart, thyme, anchovy

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare with Peachicks Bakery and #FiestaFriday with Fiesta Friday 

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