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Kitchen Queries

Welcome to Kitchen Queries, where the nigella.com team will answer your cooking or food related questions.  We’d love you to submit some of your recipe problems, dilemmas or queries for us to get our teeth into!

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  • Chocolate Icing

    Hello, I am supposed to temper some chocolate for a cake for my brother's birthday but when I tried on my own it was a mess. Do you have any tips? Thank You.

    From the nigella team:

    When you melt chocolate at home it tends to become dull when it sets. The reason the chocolate doesn't remain shiny is that the melted cocoa butter forms different size crystals as the chocolate cools, and this makes the chocolate look dull. Tempering is a process used for chocolate which makes it shiny and smooth and involves taking chocolate through 3 controlled temperature changes.

    Tempering is not something we would really try at home, unless you have a very good digital (instant read) thermometer and the facilities to heat and cool chocolate fairly quickly to the correct temperatures. Also dark (bittersweet), milk and white chocolate all have to be taken to different temperature points. If however you want a dark, shiny icing on your cake then we would suggest using a ganache icing. Ganache is a mixture of cream and dark chocolate and once poured over, or spread on, the cake and cooled it will form a fairly firm and shiny icing.

    Nigella uses ganache icing in several cakes but we would suggest trying the icing on Nigella's Nutella Cake (from Domestic Goddess) which uses equal weights of chocolate and cream. For a layer cake you will likely need 250g (9 ounces) dark chcocolate and 250ml (1 cup) double cream (heavy cream) to cover the outside. 

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