DOUBLE CHOCOLATE OATY BROWNIES I have adapted this divine recipe from one I tasted on safari in Botswana. These were served at morning coffee out in the bush, under the hot African sun, but they are equally good when huddled over a cappuccino indoors in Scotland.
125g butter, softened 125g golden caster sugar 1 large free-range egg 150g self-raising flour, sifted 100g porridge oats 100g quality white chocolate, melted 100g quality dark chocolate, melted Cream the butter and sugar together thoroughly, then beat in the egg. Stir in the flour and oats, then add the melted chocolate. Tip this (fairly stiff) mixture into a buttered 23cm brownie tin. Bake in a preheated oven (180¼C/350¼F/gas 4) for 15 minutes (no longer), and then remove to a wire rack; it will firm up on cooling. Cut into squares before serving.
CHOCOLATE AND HAZELNUT SEMIFREDDO
4 large free-range egg yolks 2 heaped tbsp runny honey 200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), melted 100g chopped hazelnuts, preferably toasted 300ml double cream, lightly whipped Whisk the egg yolks and honey together until thick and pale (this takes up to five minutes with an electric mixer). Slowly stir in the melted chocolate and then the nuts. Gently fold in the cream, ensuring there are no streaks. Pour into a 900g loaf tin lined with clingfilm, cover and freeze overnight. Remove from the freezer and place in the fridge half an hour before serving, then cut into slices.
CHOCOLATE BRANDY FUDGE CAKE This used to be a great favourite on the menu at the Three Chimneys on Skye. From a small family-run establishment (opened 21 years ago) to one of the world's leading gastronomic havens, it has not lost any of its charm and is now supremely sophisticated without ever being pretentious. This recipe is enough for two cakes, each serving eight people. Freeze the second cake if not required immediately.
225g extra-bitter dark chocolate 225g unsalted butter 2 x 250g packs digestive biscuits 2 tbsp ground almonds 2 large eggs 2 tsps golden caster sugar 2 tbsp brandy nibbed or flaked almonds, for decoration (optional) extra chocolate for grating Break up the chocolate and melt it slowly in a glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. In another saucepan, melt the butter slowly.
Meanwhile, crush the biscuits in a food processor, and then put them in a large bowl together with the ground almonds. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs together with the sugar. Pour the hot melted butter over the whisked eggs in a steady stream, beating the ingredients together well. Add the brandy, the melted chocolate and the dry biscuit mixture, then mix all the ingredients together thoroughly. Divide the mixture between two 18cm round sandwich cake tins, which should be lightly oiled and lined with non-stick parchment paper. Leave to cool before refrigerating - the cake will set to a firm but fudgy consistency. Then turn it out on to a serving plate and sprinkle with almonds and finely grated dark chocolate.