Exam term Medicine: GF/DF Chocolate Cake with Marshmallow frosting

Exam season has hit Cambridge. Even those of us who haven’t got exams can feel up in the air, or is that just the dismal weather. Remember back in April when the sun was shining? No me neither, we do live in England after all. Not only is the atmosphere pretty grim, but extra curricular and social activities have dropped to virtually nothing. Other than a housemate trip to the very English ‘Cambridge Beer Festival’ things are pretty quiet. Im aware I am making myself incredibly unpopular to those with exams by keeping myself busy with Sudoku puzzles and the like, so I thought I would cheer them up by making a cake. As it is a cake for the choir, it is of course Gluten and Dairy Free for the Gluten and Dairy Free boy. I also thought it would be a bit more fun if I made it in the shape of book, specifically the book that is pretty much the foundation of knowledge for any music student. That way the music students can get a kick out of literally devouring their revision.

Cake

600g ground almonds

6 eggs

100g cocoa powder

2tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp baking powder

4tbsp honey

200g sugar

2tsp vanilla extract

Large pinch of sea salt

4tbsp water

Marshmallow Frosting

3 egg whites

300g sugar

Vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to Fan 180*c and line a 20cmx15cm baking tray.
  2. Whisk the egg, sugar, vanilla, honey and salt together. Meanwhile combine all the remaining dry ingredients. Mix the two bowls together and add water to thin the mixture a little.

  3. Cook for 15-20mins in two batches, until set and a spatula comes out clean.

  4. Meanwhile make the marshmallow icing. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. Meanwhile heat the sugar with a splash if water until it becomes a clear, bubbling liquid. Pour into the egg whites whilst still whisking. When all the syrup is combined, keep whisking for 4-5mins. Spread or pipe onto the cake, using some to sandwich the cake and some to ice the cake.

NB If you want to recreate the book, use ready to roll icing and roll between to sheets of grease proof paper to get a thin sheet without sticking to the rolling pin.  

     


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Caesar Salad, Pancetta wrapped Cod, Jelly, Ice Cream and Chocolate

Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents dearly. But for two immensely talented and successful people, they are absolutely hopeless at feeding themselves. People think I’m joking when they ask where I learnt to cook and I tell them it wasn’t so much where but why, it was a necessity if I didn’t want to live off fish cakes for the majority of my teenage years. Take this weekend when I came home. I had offered to cook dinner for the parents and the man upstairs, and in return my mum had bought in a shopping order. I had left basic items like stock and dried herbs off the list assuming anyone who isn’t a student, lives in a house full time and presumably eats would have these staples, I was wrong. My mothers response? ‘We had some at christmas’, yes we did, and I used it up, the last time I cooked in our house. My father is I’m afraid no better, while very good at selecting wines for our dinner, he took in the food order and left out most of the veg and salad because they wouldn’t fit in the fridge, the fridge was full of potatoes…. Anyway, for those of you who know how to store vegetables, here is a standard, albeit slightly middle class, quick dinner party menu.

Posh Caesar Salad (Serves 4) 

2 iceberg lettuces, 2 chicken breasts, 4 quails eggs, 10 anchovies, 1 small sourdough roll, 1 egg yolk, 1/3 tsp of English mustard, 1/2 tsp of garlic, finely chopped, 1 1/4 tsp of white wine vinegar, 1 1/4 tsp of lemon juice 1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce, 10g of Parmesan, grated, 120ml of vegetable oil

1. Sprinkle chicken with sea salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil and top with 1/2 crushed garlic clove each. Roast for 12-15mins at 180*C, leave to rest. 

  1. Meanwhile boil the quails eggs for 2 1/2mins, then run under cold water to stop the cooking process. When cool, peel and set aside. Cut the roll into croutons and toast on both sides under a grill, seasoned with a little salt, pepper and olive oil.
  2. For the dressing, blend 2 anchovies, egg yolk, mustard, garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper. Slowly add oil whilst blitzing. Add Worcester sauce, lemon juice and Parmesan, season to taste.

  3. Serve drizzled over Iceberg lettuce topped with chicken, anchovies, quails egg and Parmesan slivers.  

Pancetta wrapped cod, pearl barley risotto, garlic mushrooms, crispy kale, Early Grey jus

4 cod fillets, boneless and skinless, 12 rashes pancetta, 100g button mushrooms, 2 cloves garlic, 100g kale, dried rosemary, 320g pearl barley, 2 stock cubes, 1 onion, dried thyme, drizzle of truffle oil, 3tbsp Brandy. 2 earl grey tea bags.

  1. Soak the tea bags in 300ml hot water for at least 1hr. Wrap 3 pancetta rashes around each fish and set aside in a baking tray. Meanwhile place the kale in a baking dish, sprinkled with salt, pepper, rosemary and a small drizzle of oil. Place in the oven at 140*C for 25mins, stirring occasionally, until crispy.
  • .Meanwhile, slice the onions into small pieces. Sauté for 2-3mins in olive oil and salt. Add the pearl barley, thyme then brandy. Add 600ml stock and cook, stirring occasionally for 30mins, adding more water if needed. Season with lemon juice, pepper, salt and truffle oil and set aside.

  • Forthe mushrooms, finely chop garlic and cook in truffle oil for 1min. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5mins over a high heat, set aside. Put the fish on to cook in 140*C oven for 15mins.

  • Meanwhile, make jus. Combine earl grey stock with stock cube, salt, pepper and lemon juice, reduce by about half.

  • Just before serving, heat jus and risotto. Make a bed with the risotto, scatter around mushrooms, place fish on top, drizzle jus and scatter with kale chips.  

  • Grown-up Jelly, Ice cream and chocolate sauce

    A nostalgic nod to my primary school, The Rowans, where we indulgently were given those wonderful ice cream squares, strawberry jelly and chocolate custard, my favourite dessert. We used to mix them all up together in a wonderful synthtic, sugary mess we loved. This thankfully is more refined, very simple and quick and tasty, try adding ginger to the ice cream.

    1 tub vanilla ice cream, 200g shortbread biscuits, 4tbsp maple syrup, Silicone half sphere moulds, 300ml grapefruit juice, 4 gelatine leaves, 200g dark chocolate, 50g sugar, 50ml water, pinch of sea salt.

    1. Let the ice cream soften, until it can be squeezed out of its tub. Use a pastry brush to coat 4 silicone moulds. Crush shortbread in a plastic bag with a rolling pin to fine crumbs. Pour into moulds to coat and shake out so you have an even layer lining the moulds. Scoop ice cream into each mould, using a knife to level the base. Freeze.
  • For the jelly, heat grapefruit juice to boiling. Soak gelatine leaves in cold water, squeeze out and stir into grapefruit juice. Pour into a base lined square dish and refrigerate for at least 2hrs.

  • For the sauce, heat water and sugar to boiling. Stir in chocolate and salt until melted. Chop grapefruit jelly into squares. Serve beside ice cream and jelly in a little jug.

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    Easter Day with the Gullifers

    Aren’t you lucky, today you get a double whammy of Gullifer Eats. Second part here. Partly because Easter weekend is all about food (and music and religion), or is that only in the Gullifer household? And partly because I am currently on a three and a half hour bus journey back to Oxford and am extremely bored. Most people are not put upon by relatives to host major festivals until they are at least settled with a mortgage, but for some reason the Gullifer clan descended on me this Easter holiday. Apparently it had something to do with the fact I mentioned I wouldn’t be able to come and cook the normal Easter feast at home, due to work….. But of course I relished in the planning, cooking, and of course the food shop that arrived to my door paid for by the parents, as I couldn’t afford to pay to feed everyone. It was a lovely weekend, peppered with Kings college concerts and services, the most amazing brunch at Cau (see below), cocktails with my sister and chocolate. For the main event I invited over Gluten-free-Dairy-free man and the Perpetual Poldark lover as they were in Cambridge for finals and I thought I’d add to their stress levels by inflicting my family on them.  

     

    (Eggs Royale with grilled avocado and chimichurri sauce)

    I am ashamed to say I didn’t cook any of the starter, I was a little strapped for time. But Waitrose came up trumps with their anti-pasti selection and the Sister arranged a Work of Art on the plate to make it that extra bit special.  We had giant Sicilian olives, gin and orange soaked olives, ricotta, baby mozzarella, fresh grilled anchovies, chargrilled artichokes (in some amazing dressing), smoked sundried tomatoes (wow) and some of the best pesto I’ve  tasted, with whole shreds of Parmesan.   

    What I was pleased with was the wine selection, thank you Cambridge Wine Merchants. My sister had made an off hand comment earlier in the week about new world sparkling wines all tasting too sweet and sainsburys Cavaesque. I was determined to prove her wrong. I was recommended a Zuccardi Blanc de Blancs, an Argentinian sparkling wine aged on the lees (yeast) for 58 months. As the lady said to me, it tastes like liquid shortbread. Think a really intense champagne, reduced at the moment in the wine merchants to £16 it tastes like a much more pricey champagne, if you are in Cambridge I recommend. 

     

    For main course, to mix things up from the traditional Lamb, we had whole baked salmon. Not only was it different and undoubtably healthier than lamb, it also only took 45mins (15mins on the highest temperature, 30 at 180*C). This was served with a lemon, dill and yoghurt dressing. Accompanied by smashed sweet potatoes – Simply cooked in a microwave for 15-20mins, smashed up with olive oil, a drizzle of truffle oil, thyme, salt, pepper and a little lemon juice. – We also had brussel sprouts with chorizo, which ‘convinced a fussy eater that sprouts were delicious’ according to the Perpetual Poldark lover. -Halved Brussel sprouts, drizzled with sesame oil, salt pepper, 1 onion, finely chopped, 1 garlic clove, finely chopped, and 200g cubed chorizo for 20-30mins at 180*C. -Finally we had asparagus with balsamic drenched tomatoes. – Blanched Asparagus, cherry tomatoes cooked in a little oil, salt and balsamic for 5mins and a scattering of basil.  

       

    Finally for dessert, I couldn’t do anything but go down the chocolate route, it was Easter after all. (For the record Steve had coconut pannacotta, with sweet and salty almonds – literally coconut milk, sugar, lime juice, vanilla extract, gelatine, topped with toasted almonds tossed in sugar and salt-) I made orange and basil mousses, chocolate soil and white chocolate dipped strawberry. Any guesses as to what I was trying to recreate?  

     

    We ended the meal in truly decadent (and bordering on bizarre) fashion. Vin Santo and Cantucci biscuits, Articulate – our favourite game, ridiculously competitive, and my father lighting amaretti papers on fire in the conservatory. Fun fact, did you know they rise like a pretty lantern when they burn? Next party trick. 

    Banana,Coconut and Lime, boozy sponge with Avocado-Chocolate ganache; a nostalgic nod to Brazil.

    What with the launch of the Gonville and Cauis CD of Brazilian music, I got rather nostalgic today for my 2 weeks in Brazil last year and turned back to The Comedy Agent’s Birthday present to me from last year; a book of Brazilan recipes.
    IMG_1240IMG_1238Cabana:The Cookbook is not just a recipe fountain but also contains essential guides for life such as ‘how to dance the samba’,
    IMG_1237‘how to recognise Brazilian fruit’ (something that would’ve come in useful while in the fruit markets in São Paolo), and of course the vital ‘how to make a perfect Caipirinha’. (I’m still not sure I’m pronouncing it properly, for reference: How to say Caipirinha.)IMG_1239
    it is full of wonderful recipes such as: Crazy lady cake (a rich dark chocolate sponge), the addictive Pao de Queijo, and one of my favourite recipes that I am constantly doing variations of, Fejioda, or Black bean stew. Of course being me, I decided to ignore all these recipes and instead take inspiration from all the different flavours. Here is my Banana,Coconut and Lime, boozy sponge with Avocado-Chocolate ganache. As usual, a normal version of this is not enough of a challenge, so this is my healthy, dairy and gluten free version. (Hopefully proving Dairy and gluten free isn’t all expensive, hard to source ingredients)

    Cake
    100g coconut flakes
    2 bananas
    1tsp vanilla extract
    3 eggs
    170g caster sugar
    100ml oil
    Syrup
    75ml cachaca (or rum if none available)
    50g sugar
    pinch sea salt
    Ganache
    1 large avocado
    1tbsp cocoa powder
    2 pinches of salt
    2tbsp honey
    Icing
    200g icing sugar
    1tbsp cocoa powder
    1. For the coconut flour, Soak the coconut flakes in 25ml hot water for 4hrs. Blend in a blender, drain well, lay out the flakes on a baking tray and dry for either 3hrs at 170°C or overnight with the light on in the oven. Blend in the food processor to a fine powder.
    2. Mix the ingredients for the cake in a food processor. Spoon into a lined cake tin and bake for 30mins at fan 160°C until browned. Leave to cool.

    3. Meanwhile, Heat the syrup ingredients together till sugar is dissolved and syrup has thickened slightly. Pour over cake.FullSizeRender 4. Leave cake to cool COMPLETELY. Make the ganache. Blend the ganache ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Spread onto the cooled cake.

    4. To finish. Make a glace icing by mixing the coca powder and icing sugar with 2-3tsp of water to a very thick icing (nb mix well before adding more water).

    5. Spoon into a piping bag and decorate!

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    NB As you may have noticed in this post, I’ve learned how to use links in my blog, onwards and upwards…

    Avocado and Kidney bean Brownies

    I put Avocado in Brownies and it worked. It began when I came across a suggestion to substitute avocado for butter in baking, not make the baking healthier, but also to make the recipe dairy free. Likewise I read on t’internet about how kidney and black beans can be used as a replacement for flour in some baking recipes. Never one to shirk from a challenge or do things by halves (and with gluten free and dairy free friends) I decided to combine the two. Would it be possible to make brownies without the seemingly moreish creating factors of dairy and gluten? and possibly end up making the brownies that little bit healthier as well? Apparently so. I am not denying they are not quite on par with orgasm in the tin that is salted caramel brownies… but they are dense, very fudgy and most importantly chocolatey goodness.

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    Makes 12
    225g 85% dark chocolate
    Large pinch of sea salt
    1x 400g undrained tin of red kidney beans or black beans
    1 small, ripe avocado
    2 eggs
    225g white sugar
    2tsp vanilla extract

    1. Drain the kidney beans and bat dry with kitchen towel, to make the beans as dry as possible.
    2. Place beans into a food processor and blitz.
    3. Add eggs, sugar, vanilla extract and avocado and blitz till mixture is smooth.
    4. Meanwhile melt chocolate with sea salt. Add to the mixture and blitz again to a thicker, cake mix like consistency.
    5. Spoon into a parchment-lined square tin. Bake for 25-30 mins at 160 oC, until the top is hard but the brownies are still soft underneath. Leave to cool and serve.

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    Twas the night before Christmas…

    Now I am essentially what they call a ‘working gal’, I was in the cafe right up to the hilt. This meant, unfortunately, that I was unable to indulge in my usual 3 day cooking marathon in the run up to Christmas, and SHOCK HORROR, had nothing prepared for Christmas lunch before the big day itself. This is unheard of from the girl who usually has everything chopped, prepped and cooked the day before, save the Turkey. I had luckily still found time to create the, now infamous, Christmas spreadsheet and book the grocery delivery slot. -my mother still doesn’t actually know the password, her grocery shops are so infrequent- Credit where credit is due however; I arrived home to a stocked and catalogued kitchen. Mother had received the food delivery and processed it in the only way a lawyer knows how to. This meant that once I breezed in off the dreaded 3 ½ hour coach journey from Cambridge at around lunch time, waving to the grandparents as I walked past them, I could set straight down to work on the Christmas Eve dinner.

    I would say it is a tradition in our household to have a three course dinner on Christmas Eve, but considering I instigated it a few years ago when I took over proceedings, it is more of an indulgence of a personal whim. What is more of a family tradition is negotiating the short time frame in which to eat dinner between watching ‘Carols from Kings’ between 5.25pm and 7pm with a glass of bubbly and finishing before the 9.15pm rehearsal for Midnight Mass. The time constraint is combined with the limitations of: my grandmother’s aversion to peas and nuts, my father and his father’s aversion to visible celery, cabbage (I ignored this one) and onions and everyone’s fear of fish bones and remotely undercooked meat. Catering for everyone’s request whilst still gratifying my experimental mindset is a challenge every year.

    This year we began with a starter inspired by The Organist’s New Years Eve extravaganza last year, crab mayonnaise. Made by simply mixing crab meat ( I chose brown crabmeat but next time I will go for white, more expensive but a better texture) with lemon juice, mayonnaise, black pepper and salt. I served this with an avocado cream made by blending 3 avocados with Crème fraiche, a small pinch of salt and lemon juice. The combination of the salty crab with the smoother avocado made for a pleasing blend.

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    I followed this with a venison and chestnut stew, herb crumble, winter slaw and roasted squash purée.
    For 6:
    Brown 600g Cubed venison dusted with flour,pepper and salt in a little olive oil. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add 2 onions, cubed and 6 rashes of unsmoked, thick bacon and sauté with a pinch of salt until the onions are translucent. Deglaze the pan with a glass of port. Add thyme, a bay leaf and a spoonful of juniper berries. Finally return the venison to the pan with a beef stock cube, enough water to fill the pan. Place in the oven with a lid or covered in foil for 1 ½ hours at 180oC. Remove from the oven and add 250g cooked and peeled chestnuts, simmer on the stove top for 20mins until thickened.
    For the crumble: Mix 300g breadcrumbs with salt, pepper, chopped parsley and chopped sage. Toast in the oven at 180oC until browned, mixing occasionally.
    For the purée: Roast 500g cubed butternut squash with 1 chopped red onion, 3 chopped garlic cloves, a drizzle of olive oil, a drizzle of white wine vinegar, a drizzle of truffle oil and chopped sage at 180oC for 30mins, until soft. Blend.
    For the slaw: Chop 1 red cabbage and mix with 1 grated apple, 1 tbsp of mustard, a handful of raisins and 2 tbsp mayonnaise. Season to taste.

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    The day before Christmas Day I suppose one does not want anything too heavy in order to preserve one’s appetite for the main event. So for dessert I decided on a dish that was small and sweet. A champagne sabayon with popping candy, served with dark chocolate matchsticks. I kid you not, the matchsticks were a revelation. The intense bitterness provided by a lychee vinegar based ganache matched the overwhelmingly sweet sabayon well, adding richness and texture to the dish. NB you would not want too much of the sabayon as it is so sweet, in this case a cocktail glass full was ample.
    For the sabayon: Whisk 6 egg yolks with 250g sugar, dash of vanilla extract, 200ml sparkling wine and a pinch of salt over a pan of boiling water for 8mins until it has doubled in size and thickened. Immediately remove to whisk over a bowl of iced water for 10-15mins until light and increased in volume again. Pour into glasses and chill. Sprinkle with popping candy just before serving.
    For the matchsticks: Melt 200g milk chocolate and 200g dark chocolate together. Meanwhile bring 25ml cream and 50ml lychee (or other fruit flavoured) vinegar with a large pinch of salt to the boil. Immediately pour over the melted chocolate, leave for 1 min and then combine to a thickened ganache. Spoon into a piping bag, pipe into shapes and chill. When set, dust in cocoa powder.

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    Chocolate Poem

    I have a friend, who shall remain nameless (although those of you who are good with word games may realise what her name is), who recently had a birthday party. As a gift, I turned up with a box of chocolates made up of chocolates forming an acrostic spelling of her name.

    Irish Coffee

    Mango, Lime and Sea Salt Caramel

    Olive and Strawberry

    Elsewhere on my blog you can find exact instructions on how to make ganache and caramels etc. But here are a few tips on constructing flavour combinations and using fruit in your chocolates.

    When I put together a box of chocolates there are three things I always consider. 1) how I can use a balance of white, dark and milk (I feel this means you cover most people’s taste preferences), 2) having a mixture of textures and flavours in each bite (never just one per chocolate), and 3) how all the chocolates relate to one other in the box. Like creating a dish, I like chocolates in a collection to compliment each other. Other things I like to start with are classic combinations, such as sea salt and caramel, and then think about ways to pimp them up. The idea is that not only is each box better than buying one from a shop, as being homemade no two are the same; but also that they are simply more exciting then something you would buy at Thorntons. (Having said this, as a devotee of Lindt Sea Salt Dark Chocolate bars, I do agree that sometimes a little bit of simplicity just hits the spot.) I know some people feel that homemade chocolates should be made with high quality chocolate, but I think if the flavours are vibrant then any chocolate works fine. So long as the dark chocolate is at least 75% cocoa content, it doesn’t really matter about the other two. A little cost-saving tip!

    I think I may have been inspired by my recent trip to a Brazilian fruit market (see Brazil Baby, I’m in Miami Bitch) because my first thought for the letter M was Mango and Lime. As followers of my blog know, I have recently moved to a house virtually next-door to an Aldi. This means I have the luxury of using exotic fruits in my food whilst still working to a budget. I think one of the things that makes homemade chocolates special is the fact that they can use real fruit rather than extracts. To make the caramel, I pulverised mango and simmered the pulp with lime and chilli, before straining and adding to sugar and continuing to make my usual salted caramel. It meant that it was a thinner consistency than my usual caramel, and was lighter in colour. This would probably work for most fruit caramels. I poured the caramel into a white chocolate shell: usually I wouldn’t put these two together as I find the combination too sickly-sweet, but the chilli and lime here off-sets the sweetness.

    For the Irish coffee, I went with a whisky gel and an espresso ganache. Already powerful flavours, so I put them with milk chocolate, providing the sugar that completes the ‘drug triumvirate’ (alcohol, caffeine and sugar) in all the best things: affogatos, Irish coffees, jäger bombs….

    The third flavour achieved something which I’ve wanted to try for ages: savoury with chocolate. Black olive caramel (again pulverised, like fruit, with a pinch of salt) and a sweet strawberry ganache. Using strawberry purée helped the chocolates pack a flavourful punch. These were then smothered in dark chocolate, and dipped in crumbled almonds to add texture.

    I don’t like to say these chocolates encapsulate their namesake as I feel it would be rude to insinuate she was either over caffeinated, spicy or alternative. But I feel she appreciated the comedic effort in the word-play of the names.

    Chocolates: The Christmas Collection

    Chocolates: The Christmas Collection

    Brazil Nut Brandy Butter A milk chocolate shell with a brazil nut butter ganache filling garnished with gold
    Mexican Hot Chocolate Dark chocolate encasing a cinnamon, cayenne pepper, vanilla and salty centre
    Orange Meringue Pie Orange and basil ganache surrounded by white chocolate and rolled in meringue
    Gingerbread Milk chocolate, studded with biscuits, with a centre infused with the classic flavours of gingerbread
    Olive Oil and Strawberry Olive oil ganache, smothered in white chocolate and studded with freeze dried strawberries

    Green Tea and Lime A green tea and lime centre with a dark chocolate shell streaked with white chocolate


    The Chocolate Box

    The Chocolate Box
                When I was at home I rediscovered chocolate making. Many reasons, mostly a lack of funds for any real presents for people (plus let’s be honest people always tend to prefer homemade gifts for some reason). So for the final two weeks before uni I turned are kitchen into a pseudo-chocolate factory, completely monopolising one of the surfaces and the entire fridge. The brilliant thing about making chocolates is that once you’ve mastered the basics it is remarkably simple and easy, yet people seem to be incredibly impressed with what you produce, just invest in some good chocolate moulds and that is pretty much all you need.
    Simple Ganache
    2 parts dark chocolate to 1 part cream (e.g 100g chocolate, 50ml double cream). Heat the cream with an infusion of your choice (have sometimes ranged from earl grey to black pepper) then pour over the chocolate that has been chopped, leave for a minute, then stir to combine. You should be left with a smooth combination.
                                                        
    To fill a chocolate mould
    Fill each mould up to the top with chocolate and flatten the tops with a palate knife, then turn upside down and tap the top (you can do this into a bowl if you have a wide enough bowl or if, like me, you don’t, just use a piece of greaseproof paper, the chocolate with set and you can reuse it). Then scrape the top again with a palate knife for a clean finish.
    To finish
    Fill the moulds with the ganache leaving a rim around the edge, leave to set. Spread a layer of chocolate over the top, scraping round the sides of each mould.
    Few important details
           white chocolate ganache will always need more chocolate to cream ratio than dark or milk
           I like to use a freezer to set each stage because I’m inpatient
           If you want to use a liquid flavour (orange juice/alcohol etc) reduce the amount of cream and replace with the liquid (for juices reduce the liquid to a syrupy consistency but not for alcohol unless you want a boozefree hit)
           You can stir in crunch/ other textures into the ganache for new layers
           Praline/ peanut butter can be mixed with chocolate on its own to create a thicker ganache filling
           To put decoration on top the best way is to paint the bottom of the mould
           Caramel is another winner usually. Boil sugar and liquid glucose to amber colour with some salt, straight away add a dash of cream and a  knob of butter, then leave to cool a little before putting in the moulds.
    – water is the enemy BUT if you do get some water in your chocolate, the best deal is to add fat, so oil or melted butter and hopefully your pro blame will be solved
    Some of my biggest successes have either been simple (earl grey, salted caramel) or themed (biscuit box, Christmas inspired) or even just boozy, I also like using herbs and spices mixed with sweet flavours like raspberry/wasabi (using real raspberry pulp for intense flavour). This years selection seemed to go down rather well anyway.