Chocolate Armageddon – Or How I Could Have Won the Great British Bake Off

On British TV at the moment is one of the most addictive reality shows – ‘The Great British Bake Off’. Each week a bunch of amateur bakers create ever more complex cakes, breads, biscuits, pies and desserts. And each week one poor soul is discarded because of a soggy-bottomed sponge or an ‘uneven bake’.

This show is popular – TV analysts told us that more men watched it than the European football on the ‘other channel’ one week. It’s proper hardcore-no-holds-barred stuff. The judges include Mary Berry, a British Institution, and Paul Hollywood, the smiling assassin. They take no prisoners.

A couple of weeks ago the contestants were handed the task of producing Chocolate Marshmallow Teacakes. Now this looked like fun. In fact so much fun I decided I had to give it a shot. Specifically because it required the use of this unusual looking piece of equipment:

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Marbled Toffee Bars

So from the ridiculous to the sublime. After last week’s glorious cock up we decided to try something out that would give both culinary and visual pleasure. I’ve made millionaire’s shortbread before but haven’t actually made it with shortbread. Usually I just crush up biscuits for the base. But seeing how Conor recreated a risotto recipe recently I felt I could get away with a favourite ‘creation re-creation’ too.

Now there are only so many ways you can combine chocolate, fat, sugar and…more chocolate – and come up with something different. In the end it comes down to aesthetics – how nice can you make it look?

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Chocolate, Pears and Pastry: When Puddings Go Bad.

‘What’s the prognosis Doctor?’

‘Well sir, it isn’t good.’

‘For heaven’s sake man, give it to me straight. I can take it.’

‘Well….you’re just shit at cooking with pastry.’

‘My God. I can’t believe this is happening.’

‘You’re not alone sir. Many, many good people have come to terms with this reality.’

‘But I just don’t think I can take this kind of rejection.’

‘It becomes easier…with time.’

And so on to my latest pastry-based culinary disaster. And I blame many, many things.

I blame the Hairy Bikers for a recipe that was never going to work.

I blame the tosspots who produce ready-rolled puff pastry. Have these morons ever actually cooked anything with this crap? Its so thin its useless.

And lastly I blame my hands – hot, sweaty bloody things that turn pastry to useless slippery mush in two seconds flat.

Even so it all started so promisingly – with a nice collection of ingredients all weighed out and ready to roll:

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White Chocolate Cheesecake with Cherries

Many moons ago a chap called Neil Diamond sang ‘Cherry, Cherry’. Before the comb-over. Or did he always have a comb-over? Anyway I was listening to that tune in the interminable jam on the A240 into South London when I decided to create a cheesecake with cherry influences.

That’s all bull – I found the recipe in a supermarket cookbook. I like the song though.

You can create two types of cheesecake – ones you bake and ones you don’t. I prefer the non-bake version as there is less to go wrong.

All you’ll need – except the cream. And the cheese…..

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