Chocolate is an especially important ingredient in my house - whether it's a few dark squares as an afternoon pick me up, or a bar of white chocolate for a tray of killer blondies.
I always check to make the chocolate I buy is Fairtrade. It helps to make cocoa farming in places like Ivory Coast and Ghana more sustainable by guaranteeing minimum prices and providing a premium to invest in local communities, so farmers can provide a better future for themselves and their families. Remembering that we are cooking with a precious ingredient that takes a lot of resource to grow, produce and transport, makes every sweet recipe even more of a luxury. Look for the Fairtrade logo to make sure you're buying something that gave the producer a fair deal.
Salted caramel crack brownies
Find me someone who doesn’t like these and I’ll deliver you a batch myself. Deeply chocolatey brownies with a burst of melting salted caramel. I make a super-simple and speedy caramel that cools quickly, and gets chopped up and sunk into the top of the brownie mixture. The caramel melts into the brownie as it cooks and leaves little pools of chewy warm fudgy caramel throughout the perfectly crusted brownies. Sounds delicious … and I can assure you they are. The first time I made these I had to make a second batch the same afternoon, as they were eaten in a flash (not all by me). We all have a vice. These are mine.
Vegan millionaire’s shortbread
I find normal millionaire’s shortbread too cloying and sweet. This version, which uses the sweetness of dates and has seeds and nuts for added crunch, is much more my thing. I use Doves Farm gluten-free flour, which gives the best texture for most gluten-free baking – and I have tried them all.
Sea salted chocolate and lemon mousse
This is a pretty maverick way of making a chocolate mousse, which was brought to my attention by a great chef friend. It's based on a technique by the French chemist Hervé This. Don't worry, it's really quite easy, though you do have to follow the recipe to the tee. It uses water, not cream, and the mousse is whipped over a bowl of ice, which chills the chocolate. The result is a cleaner, less cloying mousse that is unadulterated chocolate, backed up by a little lemon, salt and vanilla.
Easy chocolate truffles
No tempering of the chocolate; no rolling or filling; just some simple melting, mixing and pouring is required. This batch makes a lot, and will keep you in truffles for a couple of weeks – just make sure you store them in the fridge
Raspberry + pistachio brownies
These dense, gooey and chocolatey brownies are made with ground almonds and coconut sugar, so they are a little lighter and more nutrient-packed than your average brownie. If coconut sugar is a bridge too far then soft brown sugar will work too.