Antonia Landi

Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

Homemade chocolates – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on February 8, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Picture: Antonia Landi

Yes, it’s that time of the year again. The shops are filled with bears holding up hearts, roses are basically shoved in your face and everyone is supposed to be happy and in love. But why not use this time to treat yourself to some handmade sweets?

It’s Valentine’s Day alright. Quite possibly the worst holiday of the year. You either feel under pressure to make a romantic gesture to your partner, or supposedly need to feel bad because you don’t currently have a partner. Either way, it’s not very cheerful, is it. So instead of spending money on some horrible stuffed animal, get a few bars of chocolate and make the magic happen! Celebrating Valentine’s Day should be about the people that you love, be it friends or family. And trust me, after they’ve tried these delicious chocolates, they will love you.

Working with chocolate is really tricky and easy to mess up. Many people will tell you that you’ll need to temper it by closely monitor the chocolate’s temperature and suggest a myriad of techniques to aid you in your quest for the chocolate of the century. The truth is, as long as you don’t get water into your melted chocolate, you’ll be just fine. True, the chocolate you’ll produce won’t be glossy and shiny, and won’t have that characteristic ‘snap’ when you bite into it; it’ll look and taste more like a truffle. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad! So stop faffing about with your thermometer and let’s melt some chocolate.

Melting chocolate is pretty straightforward. The only two things that could go wrong is if you accidentally get water into it (remember, even a tiny amount can ruin your chocolate, so be extra careful) or if you burn it, but if you’re as impatient as I am, that isn’t likely going to happen. The great thing about making these yourself is that you can personalize them to suit the person you are making them for. Think about their favourite chocolate and customise: chopped or whole nuts, dried fruit, tiny marshmallows, experiment with layering two kinds of chocolate or add a small amount of cereals – there is so much you can do. There is no right or wrong – think about what you like and then make it! This is a great opportunity to really bring your ideas to life.

I find working with silicon moulds easiest – when you choose one, make sure you take its shape into account and go for the one with fewer details. For example, it’s easier to get the chocolate out of a heart shape than it is to get all the corners of a star out without breaking anything. It takes about 4 hours for the chocolate to set, but  I would suggest leaving it to set overnight. And if you have leftover melted chocolate, simply dip some fruits in it and let them to cool on a baking sheet. There’s nothing like a few sweet treats to reward yourself!


Makes approx. 20 chocolates:

150g white chocolate

150g milk chocolate

150g dark chocolate

Fillings like cereals, nuts, dried fruits, dried chilli flakes, marshmallows… be creative!

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.


If you’re up for making chocolates but you don’t have a mould, or you want to make something a bit more sophisticated, why not try making your own truffles?

For the future Chocolatiers among you and for those who want to know the tricks of the trade, here is a great and simple guide on how to properly temper chocolate.

And if you’d rather keep the chocolates for yourself but still need a gift for your loved one, have a look at these great ideas for homemade presents.

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.


How to make a Minecraft cake – Better than Toast Extra

In Food on October 11, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Picture: Antonia Landi

As the title suggests, we’re going to make a Minecraft cake today. This will require some assembly and some patience – you don’t know how difficult it is to make a cube cake until you try it! As I only have round tins, my version is a bit more complicated, but if you have the time, money and oven space to spare, you should be okay with simply baking three layers of square cake and then stacking them.

Since we want to recreate the ‘dirt’ part of the square without any additional icing, we will be baking a hazelnut and chocolate cake today. I had trouble finding any ground hazelnut in my local supermarkets for some bizarre reason, but found out that they are incredibly easy to grind in your average food processor! Just whiz two handfuls at a time and you’ll be done in no time.

Just as last week, we’re working with icing to create the grassy top. Marzipan works just as well, and if you can find it already coloured that’s even better! A helpful tip is to roll out the icing on greaseproof paper and then simply put it on the cake while the icing is still attached to the paper – it makes it a bit easier to work with and you won’t run the risk of accidentally stretching the icing out of shape on your way over to the cake.

And with all this said, here is the recipe!

300g self-raising flour

300g caster sugar

250g ground hazelnuts

230g butter

5 eggs

150g chololate

500g icing

1/2 bottle green food colouring


Bake on a medium heat for approximately one hour

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

How to make a pokéball cake – Better than Toast Extra

In Food on September 28, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Pokéball cake - Picture: Antonia Landi

Hello and welcome to this rather informal video tutorial about how to make your very own pokéball cake in a few simple steps! This recipe and video combined should give you enough confidence and information about how to make your cake – if you’re unsure about any of the steps, please contact me! I am more than happy to help 🙂

First of all, here is the all-important cake recipe.

You will need:

225g butter, plus extra for greasing

225g caster sugar

225g self-raising flour

4 eggs

1tsp vanilla extract

If you want to make a chocolate cake, simply add 50-75g of cocoa powder. Please not that the more cocoa you use, the darker the chocolate cake will be.

Grease your cake tins with butter and line the bottom of each with greaseproof paper. Divide mixture into equal parts and bake on a medium heat for approx 30 minutes.

For the filling you will need:

1 tub elmea whipping cream

Jam of your choice (I used strawberry jam)

And finally this is what you will need for decorating:

2x 500g white ready to roll icing (you might be able to do with one pack, but I’d rather have too much than not enough!)

1/2 bottle red food colouring

1 tube black ‘decorating’ icing

Icing sugar

You will notice that the red icing will be softer and more difficult to work with than the white icing (it sticks to everything!). This is because you have added extra liquid (the food colouring) to the icing. Therefore it is very important that you work quickly and efficiently with the red icing and make sure to put it in the fridge (or even the freezer!) immediately after colouring it.

If you don’t want to muck about with the black icing, you could use liquorice instead. I’m not a big fan of it, so it’s really up to you!

Finally, if this is your first cake, do check out my cake baking strategy guide – there’s lots of tips and tricks to be found there, plus an easy recipe for a simple chocolate cake to get you started!

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

The Complete Cake Baking Strategy Guide – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on July 7, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Picture: Useful Times

Making a double-layered cake is like starting an epic quest – it’s a big feat, and there are so many things that could go wrong. But hopefully, this guide will help you along your way and make sure you arrive at your destination safe and sound.

First of all you need to check your equipment and make sure everything is ready to go. You will need two cake tins and an electric or manual mixer to whip up the cream – a cooking rack is ideal, but optional.


These skills are essential for cake baking. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of some of these moves before – most of them are easy to pick up.

-Sifting: Used for flour and cocoa. This ensures that you end up with a thoroughly smooth dough. Requires sieve.

-Greasing: Makes sure your cake doesn’t stick to the tin. Requires butter and some handwork.

-Testing: To test if your cake is ready, insert a skewer into the middle. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. Can also be done with a small knife.

-Separating: After the cake has been baked, run a knife along the side of the tin. Makes it easier to take the cake out and gives you extra appearance points.

-Levelling: Used for bottom layer. Get down to eye level with your cake and carefully slice the top off to ensure an even base. Best done with a bread knife.

-Spreading: You will need to do this three times throughout your journey.

1.    Spread the dough evenly across both tins. Best done with the back of a spoon.

2.    Spread the whipped cream over the raspberries. Make sure you get to the rim. Best done with a flat wooden spoon or a knife.

3.    Spread the glaze across the cake. Best done with a knife.

Attention: This recipe will require a lot of time and love. If you are a cake-baking novice, I advise you select the ‘simple cake’ option at the start of the quest. This will give you practice and confidence in your cake baking abilities.

Don’t panic if anything goes wrong – when in doubt, check the log for further assistance and don’t forget that even if your cake doesn’t live up to your expectations, it will still taste delicious.

Serves 8-12 (depending on your portions)

For the cake:

225g butter

225g caster sugar

225g self-raising flour

4 eggs

50-75g cocoa (a high amount will result in a dark chocolate cake)

1tsp vanilla extract

Bake in the oven for 40 minutes on a medium heat.

For the filling:

1 small pot whipping cream


For the glaze:

100g dark cooking chocolate

25g butter (or more, which will result in a soft glaze)

If you’re stuck for time, or want to start small, try this:

175g butter

175g caster sugar

175g self-raising flour

3 eggs

25-50g cocoa

1tsp vanilla extract

Mix the ingredients together and bake as above. Proceed with the glaze or alternatively decorate to your heart’s content!

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

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