Happy birthday to me – well, nearly. I’ve taken this week off to do PhD work but it’s my birthday on Saturday and I’m really, really looking forward to it! The work week has gone well too. I’m finally working on my last study – the survey that I carried out last November and unexpectedly got a couple of thousand hits in a weekend when Neil Gaiman tweeted about it… ah, I’ll bask in the memory of that for a moment and hope it distracts me from the panic of having to write it all up. I’ve spent most of the week moving things around in my head – that probably doesn’t make sense to a lot of you reading this but it’s how I think about things like data restructuring: I need to make some of my results behave in different ways so I need to count things differently to the way they were collected which means aggregating, filtering and transposing the data. I write code to do this but before I start that part, I need to have a basic understanding in my head of what I want to it look like. Therefore, I spent an inordinate amount of time just staring at things while I’m doing a lot of heavy lifting in my head.
And of course, having something to bake while I’m doing all this is good for all concerned. It’s time for another Stats Team Bake-Off! This one we’re doing to raise money for Red Nose Day – we don’t usually sell our wares, they’re given away free to anyone who fancies them but it’s a good cause and so on.
However, there’s one problem with having a bake-off at the moment – I can’t use my oven. It’s badly overdue for a clean and while I don’t mind using it for our dinners, I don’t think it’s ok to it’s to cook something for other people if the equipment isn’t up to scratch. There isn’t a space on the fridge-chart for me to clean the oven so I’m going to be dreadfully decadent and get someone to come around and do it for me… but not in time for the bake-off. Therefore, rocky road which just gets stirred around and then cooled in the fridge is perfect.
The theme this time was pretty much dictated by the “red” concept in red nose day, and I decided to go to town with these chocolate bites that contain cherries and strawberries in the bar and have a cherry stuck on top. On Jef’s recommendation I did away with the usual rich tea biscuits and used digestives instead – he’d opined that they would have a better flavour than bland rich teas and he was right. They also add a pleasingly salty contrast to all the rich chocolate.
These were great fun to make and perfect for RND – quick, tasty and lucrative 😉 I made an information sheet (Cherry and berry) to help people thinking of taking one.
Here’s the piccies:
Here’s the link to the official recipe and this is my take on it:
- 125 grams butter (soft)
- 300 grams dark chocolate (best quality minimum 70% cocoa solids) broken into pieces
- 3 tablespoons golden syrup
- 200 grams digestive biscuit(s)
- 100g dried strawberries I used Urban Fruit for this and for the dried cherries
- 100g dried cherries
- 1 tub of glaçe cherries – you’ll need 25
- Melt the butter, chocolate and golden syrup in a heavy-based saucepan. Scoop out about 125ml of this melted mixture and put to one side.
- Put the biscuits into a freezer bag and then bash them with a rolling pin. You are aiming for both crumbs and pieces of biscuits.
- Fold the biscuit pieces and crumbs into the melted chocolate mixture in the saucepan, and then add the dried fruit.
- Tip into a foil tray* (24cm square); flatten as best you can with a spatula. Pour the reserved 125ml of melted chocolate mixture over the fruit and chocolate and biscuit mixture and smooth the top.
- Stud 25 cherries in rows of 5 on the top of the mix. Imagine slicing between them to make 25 individual bites and space them neatly so you can slice in straight rows.
- Refrigerate for about 2 hours or overnight.
- Cut into 25 pieces. You’ll need a very sharp knife and strong arms. My knife wasn’t sharp and my arms ached by the end of it. The things we do for comedy, eh?
* Seriously, do follow Nigella’s advice here. I made mine in the same square baking tin that I used for the chocolate brownies, greased and lined with foil. While it worked, it did mean that when I wanted to slice them up to take into work, I had to peel off the foil from the giant rocky motorway chunk and inevitably, some of it ripped and had to be carefully removed. A foil tray would have avoided all of that.