‘Can I have a Boxing Day tea?’

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Last weekend the eldest child, Step Son #1, (‘The Gourmand’ or is he ‘The Carnivore’? I think these two labels are interchangeable between step son #1 and my own son), turned 18 and given free reign on the decision for a family meal on the Sunday evening he requested a ‘Boxing Day tea’!

Christmas time can be a minefield at the best of times for families, let alone for blended families. You can become embroiled in the logistical nightmare of appeasing your own family as well as those of the people you are co-parenting with, and then beyond that there is the extended families that hope to be considered also… Once all the arrangements have been made, the presents purchased and the bank accounts emptied the most important thing for me is feeding the family with delicious, festive fun food that whets even the most awkward of appetites. So for Step Son #1 to choose this meal above all else makes me feel as though I got something right this year: a meal where all the family came together became his meal of choice. Of course I know for him it’s more about the food on the plate than the wonderfully cohesive environment I managed to achieve, but a Mum can aspire…

For the ‘Boxing Day tea’ I served the usual buffet staples of salad, home made salt and pepper wedges, cooked meats, cheese and biscuits as well as a red onion tart, (a recipe that needs some honing before I share as I served up a slightly soggy bottom!), and the winner of the evening: sticky hoisin sausages.

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These ridiculously moreish morsels are so easy to make and even easier to gobble up. I was also able to provide a vegetarian counterpart by using… wait for it… vegetarian sausages in place of the meat variety. I am a food genius, Mmwahah!

Here’s a link to the recipe: website: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2360660/sticky-hoisin-sausages

Then there was the cake, this is a tried and tested recipe for me now. I’ve made it several times and each time have added my own tweaks to produce what I believe is the perfect Chocolate Caramel Ombré Cake.

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Here’s a link to the recipe I started with: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1161646/chocolate-and-caramel-layer-cake

Here’s the recipe with my tweaks:

For vanilla and chocolate sponges

  • 225g very soft butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 85g ground almond
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 150ml natural yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder

For caramel and caramel-chocolate sponges

  • 225g very soft, plus extra for greasing
  • 175g light muscovado sugar
  • 50g dark muscovado sugar
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 85g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 150ml natural yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp cocoa

To assemble

  • 397g can caramel (I use Carnation)
  • 200g milk chocolate
  • 80g dark chocolate
  • 300ml double cream

I have reduced the amount of cocoa powder used in the chocolate sponge and dark chocolate in the ganache as personally I’m not a great fan of the bitter tang of cocoa or dark chocolate. The ganache, in my opinion, is now spoon-lickingly scrumptious!

The Method

  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line the bases of 2 x 20cm sandwich tins. For the vanilla and chocolate sponges, mix all the ingredients, apart from the cocoa, together with a whisk (preferably electric). Spoon half the mix (approximately 500g) into one of the cake tins. Add the cocoa to the remaining mixture and whisk again. Spoon the chocolatey mixture into the second tin and bake for 25-35 mins (depending on how fast your oven cooks things, I tend to set the oven timer for 20 minutes, then at that point check the mixture and turn the tins around before resetting the timer for a further 5 minutes, after which you may choose to cook for slightly longer again) until a skewer poked in comes out clean.
  2. Repeat step 1 for the caramel and caramel-chocolate sponges, again leaving the cocoa powder out of the first mixing, then splitting the mix in half (approximately 500g in each tin) and whizzing the cocoa into one batch. Cook as above.
  3. While sponges are cooling, melt the dark and milk chocolate together in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Remove from the heat, stir in the cream and cool or chill until spreadable. At this point I also pinched a tablespoon of the caramel from the Carnation tin and added this to the ganache mixture, yummy!
  4. When the sponges are cool, spread a third of the caramel over the chocolate sponge and top with the chocolate-caramel sponge. Spread over another third of the caramel and top with the caramel sponge, then the final third of caramel and top with the vanilla sponge. Or indeed the sponges can be placed in any order, the effect will still be fantastic! Spread the chocolate ganache over the whole cake. It will keep in a cool place in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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To decorate

The cake doesn’t necessarily warrant any form of decoration, it looks and tastes amazing simply naked. However on this occasion I chose to dress the top with some white chocolate hearts. These are so easy to make and can be used in so many different ways. Sometimes I just wrap them in a good old trusty Kilner jar or box and give as gifts or treats. To make, you will need 100g of any chocolate of your choosing (I used white chocolate here to offset the dark colour of the ganache), a pot of sprinkles: hundreds and thousands, mini-smarties, silver balls, any type of sprinkle really. You will also need a silicon ice cube tray. I used a heart shaped one (possibly purchased many years ago from Ikea…).

Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 20 second bursts, (be careful as chocolate can catch and burn very quickly in the microwave) or over a pan of simmering water. Tip a smattering of the sprinkles into the bottom of the ice cube tray holes, 100g chocolate will fill about 8 holes, and pour the chocolate on top. Shuffle the tray about slightly to knock the chocolate into position and refrigerate for a couple of hours before pushing out carefully and adorning the top of your cake!

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All in all the ‘Boxing Day tea’ was a resounding success: plates were cleared; stomachs were satisfied and the birthday boy was surprisingly jovial, bearing in mind he had partied relatively hard the previous two nights… but that’s a whole different blended family story: what happens when you are thrown head first into the teenage world whilst your feet are still entrenched in Lego and Dance Moms!

Thank you for reading, happy cooking, even happier eating and please do leave comments!

HDD (Half a Dozen for Dinner) xoxo

 

 

 

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