Puddings and Cakes

Halloween Black Forest Cupcakes

There’s absolutely no reason why Halloween treats should be restricted to children and these delicious little cakes with their naughty Kirsch-infused cherry filling within the dark chocolate sponge are quite magical. The fiendish dollop of sweet cream on the top completes the wicked trickery! Enjoy!

Makes 12

What you need…

1 x 12-hole muffin tin, lined with paper cases

180g unsalted butter, softened

180g caster sugar

3 large, happy eggs, beaten

130g self-raising flour

50g cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

for the filling and topping

450g frozen black cherries

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon caster sugar

1 star anise

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons Kirsch/cherry brandy

300ml double cream

2 teaspoons icing sugar

10g dark chocolate, shaved or grated (or one broken up Flake bar!)

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 180˚c / 350˚f / gas 4.

Into your food processor tip the butter and sugar and then whizz until pale and fluffy. Gradually pour in the beaten egg, making sure that each addition is fully incorporated before you add any more. Tip in the flour and cocoa, whizz to combine; add the vanilla bean paste and whizz again.

Spoon the mixture evenly into the cases and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, turn to the filling. Tip the cherries into a pan over a moderate heat and add the lemon juice, caster sugar, star anise and water. Bubble gently for 15 minutes, until starting to turn gorgeously jammy. Stir in the Kirsch and set aside to cool.

Once everything is cool, scoop out a teaspoon or so of the middle of each sponge, popping the retrieved and superfluous sponge into your mouth just to check for quality! Fill the remaining holes up with the cherry compote.

Whip the cream with the icing sugar until peaks form and then pipe or slather the cream over the top of each cake. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings and serve – deliciously wicked!!!!

Tip…

The frozen cherries usually come in 350g bags so there are loads left over. My vote is either to stir them into a natural yogurt with maybe a little honey or….the favourite: tip them into a sterilised jar and pour Kirsch over them – let them gather flavours in there for a couple of weeks (in the fridge) before serving with ice-cream – delicious!

Inspired by…

Waitrose and Partners Food

How easy…

Childs play – does take a little time though, just whilst the sponges and filling cool down.

Delia’s Classic Christmas Cake

If you’re planning on making your own Christmas cake this year, then don’t leave it much longer: the cake – which is so easy to make and simply gorgeous – needs feeding (with brandy) every 10 days or so between now-ish and the main event in December. Moist, laden with fruit and festive flavour, this recipe – another one inspired by Delia Smith – is fabulous and again, the smell as it’s cooking is heaven-scent! Enjoy!

What to do…

For the full recipe, type ‘Christmas Cake’ into the search box in the top right hand corner of my home page

Blackberry and Blueberry ‘No-Bake’ Cheesecake

Serves 10 -12

An absolute ‘wow’ of a decadent dessert that could take central stage at any dinner as well as a cheeky family lunch! A crispy, rich ‘Oreo’ base is perfect to underpin the light, fluffy and fabulously fruity flavour of the ‘mousse’ that is the mainstay of this delicious cheesecake; and all topped with a glossy, slightly tart yet sweet jelly that is bursting with the Autumnal flavours that are blackberries. Just yummy!

What you need…

1 x deep, 20cm round cake tin, liberally buttered and lined with parchment paper

60g butter, melted

250g Oreo biscuits

200g blueberries

350g blackberries

150g caster sugar

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon, separated

100ml water

400g full-fat cream cheese

250g mascarpone

300ml double cream

3 sheets fine-leaf gelatine

to decorate

Blueberries and blackberries, (optional)

What to do…

Whizz the Oreo biscuits in your food processor until quite fine crumbs. Pour in the melted butter and whizz to evenly combine. Tip into your cake tin, spread evenly over the bottom and then use the back of a spoon to press firmly into place. Chill.

Meanwhile, heat the berries, 25g of the sugar, all of the lemon juice and the water in a saucepan until bubbling. Bubble gently for around 15 minutes or until the blackberries are super mushy.

Push the fruit mixture through a sieve, using the back of a spoon to press down hard, extracting as much juice as possible. Either discard the purée or cover it and chill it to make mini blackberry and apple pies or spread on toast (like I did!) Back to the recipe: cover and cool the berry juice.

When you’re ready to assemble, tip the cream cheese, mascarpone, double cream, remaining sugar and all of the lemon zest into a large bowl and use an electric handheld whisk to beat until really stiff. Pour in 150ml of the berry juice (reserving the rest) and whisk again to incorporate. Plop the ‘mousse’ onto the base and spread evenly and level. Pop into the fridge and chill for 1 hour.

To the jelly: soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 275ml berry juice until hot (if you’re a bit short on the juice, just top it up with a little water). Remove from the heat, squeeze the excess water from the gelatine leaves and add to the juice. Stir to dissolve. Cool for 15 minutes and then pour over the ‘mousse’. Carefully, pop your cheesecake back into the fridge for at least 6 hours, but ideally overnight.

To serve, gently release your cheesecake from its tin confines and peel away the parchment paper. Transfer to a pretty serving plate and decorate with blueberries and blackberries. Cut into wedges of gorgeousness and simply savour every delicious mouthful. Go for a second piece!

Tip…

Pick your blackberries, wash them, dry on kitchen towel and then freeze in bags – no need to lay them out flat on trays

Inspired by…

Good Housekeeping

How easy…

It takes time but you can do it in stages and go off and do other things whilst the different elements chill and cool. Other than that, it’s dead easy to make, requires no baking and is sensational. Also, you have to make it the day before you want it, which I love.

 

 

Blueberry and Custard Tart

A delightful little number that is fresh and light and bursting with summer flavours, this sweet tart is a very happy marriage of sweet vanilla custard with ripe and juicy blueberries, encircled in a crisp, light, sweet pastry.

Serves 8 – 10

What you need…

1 x 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin, liberally buttered and lined with parchment paper

1 x baking sheet

for the pastry

250g plain flour, plus a little for dusting

50g icing sugar

A pinch of salt

135g butter, cold and chunked

1 medium, happy egg, beaten

2 – 3 tablespoons ice-cold water

for the custard

200 ml milk

1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways and seeds scraped out

25g cornflour

50g caster sugar

3 medium, happy egg yolks

200ml double cream, whisked to soft peaks

to decorate

375g fresh blueberries

1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly

1 tablespoon water

What to do…

First to the pastry: sift the flour, icing sugar and salt into your food processor. Add the butter cubes and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the beaten egg and cold water and pulse until the pastry comes together.

Tip the pastry out onto a floured surface and briefly knead into a ball. Wrap in cling film and pop into the fridge for 30 minutes.

When you are ready to roll out the pastry, remove the pastry from the fridge, placing it between two sheets of cling film (each wider than your tart tin). Roll out the pastry until it’s about 3mm thick and wide enough to line the base and sides of the prepared tin.

Remove the top layer of cling film, slide your hand, palm upwards, under the bottom layer of cling film, then flip the pastry over (so that the cling film is now on top) and carefully lower it into the tart tin. (Neat trick this – first time I’ve done it). Press into the edges (with the cling film still attached) and, using your thumb, ‘cut’ the pastry on the edge of the tin to give a neat finish. Remove the cling film, prick over the base with a fork and chill the pastry in the fridge for a further 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180˚c /gas 4 and pop your baking sheet in. Remove the pastry from the fridge, trim off the excess pastry and line tart with foil, leaving plenty to come over the sides of the tin. Fill with baking beans and bake ‘blind’ on the baking sheet for 15 – 20 minutes or until the pastry feels dry to the touch in the base.

Remove the foil and beans, brush with a little egg white and return to the oven for a further 5 – 8 minutes or until the pastry is lightly golden. Remove from the oven and cool.

Turning to the custard: heat a saucepan over a low heat and pour in the milk. Add the vanilla pod and seeds, cornflour and half the sugar and gently heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

In a bowl, use an electric hand whisk to beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until creamy and pale. Slowly pour in the hot milk mixture, whisking as you add it, then pour back into a clean saucepan.

Whisk well and place over a low – medium heat, then cook for around 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the custard has thickened. Remove from the heat, discard the vanilla pod and cool the custard; then fold in the cream, using a balloon whisk.

To assemble the tart: spoon the cooled custard cream into the pastry case and top with the blueberries. In a small saucepan, dissolve the redcurrant jelly in the water

and, using a pastry brush, gently coat the blueberries with this glaze, taking care not to move the blueberries or disturb the custard. This will give the tart a lovely finishing gloss.

To serve, remove the tart from the tin (with the base of the tin still attached, if that’s easier), carefully transfer it to a serving plate and cut nice, chunky slices to indulge in – yummy!

How easy…

It takes time and there’s quite a bit of washing up but if you’re relaxed, got some good tunes going on in the kitchen, it’s a pleasure to make and a delightful summer pud!

Inspired by…

The main recipe is Rachel Allen’s but I used my own favourite sweet pastry recipe, courtesy of Camilla Stephens, founder of Higgidy.

 

Mint and Chocolate Chip ‘No Churn’ Ice Cream

Gorgeous – delectably fresh and minty with a generous handful of chocolate chips. Delightfully moreish and it has the most important seal of approval from the grand kids – it must be good!!!!

What you need…

300ml double cream

½ of a 397g tin of condensed milk (see tip)

Green food colouring (I use icing colouring which comes as a thick gel)

1½ teaspoons peppermint extract

60g dark chocolate chips

What to do…

Use an electric hand held whisk to beat the double cream to form soft peaks. Pour in the condensed milk and use a balloon whisk to gently fold it in so that it is evenly incorporated.

Tip in the peppermint extract. Insert a cocktail stick into the icing colouring and then dip it into the ice cream mixture – a little goes a really long way. Use a balloon whisk to gently but thoroughly mix together and add more colouring until you achieve the colour you like. (If you are using liquid food colouring, add ¼ teaspoon at a time until you achieve the colour you like).

Chuck in the chocolate chips and stir in thoroughly. Pour your ice cream into a bowl or tub, cover with cling film and pop into the freezer for at least 6 hours.

Tip…

Working out what ½ can of condensed milk is would clearly be a pain in the neck. When I make ice cream I mix together 600ml double cream with a whole can of condensed milk and then spoon half into a separate bowl to create a different flavour. This works brilliantly and the freezer always has lots of different flavours in (coffee and kahlua, salted caramel with Tia Maria, mango, passion fruit and rum, chocolate and black forest gateau, for instance – all made with the same double cream and condensed milk starting point).

How easy…

These ‘no-churn’ ice creams literally take minutes to knock up!

Inspired by…

The base mixture of double cream and condensed milk is courtesy of the wonderful Mary Berry. From there, I experiment with flavours by chucking in all sorts of combinations!

Black Forest Gateau ‘No-Churn’ Ice Cream

Spectacular! I dreamed up this combination in that lovely time of the morning that is the dawning of the mind as well as the sun in the sky….and this is the type of stuff I come up with!!!! What can I tell you – it’s absolutely bloody gorgeous – the Kirsch-steeped cherries work so well with the sweetness of the base ice cream and the dark chocolate rippling through it. Mount this lovely deliciousness atop shortbread, sprinkle some grated dark chocolate over the top and it becomes quite the elegant dessert!

What you need…

300ml double cream

½ of a 397g tin of condensed milk (see tip)

150ml black cherries, pitted and roughly torn up

3 tablespoons Kirsch (cherry liqueur)

40g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

What to do…

The day before you want to make your ice cream, tip the torn cherries into a bowl, pour over the Kirsch, cover with cling film and pop into the fridge overnight to let the flavours develop.

When you’re ready to make your ice cream, roughly break up the chocolate and pop it into a heatproof bowl. Put the bowl over a steamer, sitting in a saucepan of simmering water and melt. Remove from the steamer and set aside to cool slightly (to touch).

Meanwhile, use an electric hand held whisk to beat the double cream to form soft peaks. Pour in the condensed milk and use a balloon whisk to gently fold it in so that it is evenly incorporated.

Use a spatula to scrape the ‘marinated’ cherries and liquid into a bowl and gently but thoroughly mix together. Pour over the chocolate and use a skewer to swirl the chocolate throughout the ice cream, creating a chocolate ‘ripple’ effect.

Cover with cling film and pop into the freezer for at least 6 hours.

Be very excited when it’s ready because it really is spectactular! Salivating as I type!

Tips…

Working out what ½ can of condensed milk is would clearly be a pain in the neck. When I make ice cream I mix together 600ml double cream with a whole can of condensed milk and then spoon half into a separate bowl to create a different flavour. This works brilliantly and the freezer always has lots of different flavours in (coffee and kahlua, salted caramel with Tia Maria, mango, passion fruit and rum, chocolate and made at the same time as this one, mint and chocolate chip, for instance – all made with the same double cream and condensed milk base).

If you want to present the ice cream as per the picture, wrap foil around the bottom of some chef’s rings or cookie cutters and plop the ice cream inside the moulds before freezing, pressing it in to make sure there are no gaps. Use a ring/cutter of the same size to cut out the shortbread bases from the already blogged recipe, ‘Proper Old-Fashioned Christmas Tree Shortbread’.

Inspired by…

The base mixture of double cream and condensed milk is courtesy of the wonderful, Mary Berry. From there, I experiment with flavours by chucking in all sorts of combinations!

How easy…

These ‘no-churn’ ice creams literally take minutes to knock up!

 

 

 

 

 

Coconut Panna Cotta with Caramelised Pineapple

This fabulous dessert bursts with exotic flavours and shouts tropical paradise! Cool, refreshing and rich coconut partying alongside warm, caramelised pineapple – a lovely duo that is equally gorgeous separately!

Serves 4

What you need…

4 dariole moulds, greased with vegetable oil

2½ gelatine leaves

100ml whole/coconut milk

65g caster sugar

450g Rachel’s coconut yogurt

8 wedges fresh pineapple

3 limes: zest of all, juice of 2

A splash of dark rum, optional

What to do…

Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes.

In a pan, bring the milk and 1 tablespoon of the caster sugar to simmer. Set aside to cool a little. Squeeze the water from the gelatine and dissolve the leaves in the milk and sugar. Cool slightly, stir in the yogurt and pour into your prepared moulds. Pop into the fridge and chill for at least 3 hours and up to 2 days. (Love the preparing ahead element of this).

Mix the pineapple with the remaining sugar and zest and juice of 2 limes. Cover and pop into the fridge until you are ready to serve, turning occasionally. (My plans changed when I made this and I left them in the fridge overnight to no ill effect).

Heat a non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Add the pineapple, wiping off the excess marinade. Cook for 3 minutes on each side, until caramelised, enjoying the delicious, heady aromas as you go. Add the reserved marinade and rum, if using, and bubble for a couple of minutes, turning the pineapple soft and sticky.

Invert the panna cottas onto serving plates, top with the remaining lime zest (I forgot this part!) and serve with the pineapple and juices – de-lic-ious!!!!

Tip…

To encourage the panna cotta out of it’s mould, just prod the tip of a knife down one side – it releases the ‘air lock’ and out plops the panna cotta.

Inspired by…

Waitrose.com

How easy…

Spectacularly and most of it can be done ahead so it’s ideal for dinner and supper get-togethers.

 

 

My Absolute Favourite Recipe for Carrot Cake

John’s favourite cake is carrot cake and I think it might be mine too – so moist and heavenly; a gentle, warming spice flavouring the sponge, contrasting beautifully with the sweet frosting – sheer delight!

One of our friends made the Hummingbird Bakery version of this delicious treat for John’s 60th birthday a wee while ago (!) so this year, I finally replicated it for him and it was simply gorgeous – very difficult not to dive into and demolish the whole lot in one sitting! Just two weeks later, I was asked by a lovely friend to make it again to celebrate her son’s 40th, which is the picture that you have here.

The recipe below is for the original cake (rather than the 40th birthday version); however, it’s been Cindy-tweaked. The original splits the mixture between three 20-cm cake tins but I only have two. I however, made more frosting to accommodate the 4 tiers made from the two sponges and that’s what you’ve got here. Try it once and you’ll be a devotee!

 What you need…

2 x deep, 20cm cake tins, liberally buttered and lined with parchment paper

300g soft light brown sugar

3 large, happy eggs

300ml rapeseed oil

300g plain flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

300g carrots, grated

100g shelled walnuts, chopped

A handful of walnut halves, to decorate

for the cream cheese frosting

750g icing sugar, sifted

125g unsalted butter, at room temperature

310g cream cheese, cold

Carrot Cake w

What to do…

First, to the cake mixture! Preheat the oven to 170˚c / 325˚f / gas 3.

If you have a stand mixer, use it to combine the sugar, eggs and oil together (an electric handheld mix would also do the job).

Gradually add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt and vanilla extract.

Take the bowl from the mixer and stir in the chopped walnuts and grated carrots by hand until they are evenly distributed.

Pour the mixture into your cake tins and pop into the oven, for 25-30 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack.

Next to the frosting! Use an electric handheld whisk to beat the icing sugar and butter together. Plop in all of the cream cheese and beat until completely smooth (a couple of minutes) taking care not to over beat as it can become runny quite quickly.

 And finally to the cake assembly. When the cakes are cold, carefully halve each cake sponge horizontally. Then, place one tier on a cake stand and spread a thin layer of frosting over it. Place the second tier on top and repeat and then again with the third tier. Top with the last tier. Spread the remaining frosting generously over the top and sides. Finish decorating with walnuts.

40 carrot cake 2 w_1

Tip…

I like to make the cake sponges in advance, wrap them in foil and freeze them. Then, on the day of the cake-fest, it’s just a case of frosting and decorating.

Inspired by….

Jo Wilkes, who made this for John’s 60th birthday and who in turn, retrieved this recipe for me from the Hummingbird Bakery.

 

Carrot Cake slice w

 

Dolly Birthday Cake

Celebrating her 4th birthday, gorgeous Georgia requested another ‘Dolly Cake’ following my considerable efforts last year when I made her my first ‘Princess Birthday Cake’. Slightly quicker in the making this year and far more relaxing! She loved it and it tasted great – and that’s what counts!

What to do…

For the full recipe, type in ‘Princess Birthday Cake’ into the search box in the top right hand corner of my home page.

Tip…

I would recommend making the sponges in advance of the celebratory day and then freezing them – very relaxing this way.

 

 

 

Spiced Poached Pears

I know that you normally see recipes for these around Christmas time, but why wait? We’ve had them both with Stilton (again, why wait until December to indulge in this most sublime of cheeses) and also with cinnamon ice-cream (recipe already blogged). In both cases, the combination was eye-rollingly, tastebud-partyingly good!!!!! Give them a try – spectacular – and yes, very easy and can be made ahead – my kinda recipe!

Serves 6

What you need…

300ml ‘robust’ red wine (I used Chianti)

300ml water

110g caster sugar

1.5cm cinnamon stick

3 cloves

Juice and finely grated zest of 1 orange

6 firm (but not rock-hard) pears

What to do…

Tip all the ingredients except the pears into a large saucepan and place over a moderate heat, occasionally stirring until the sugar dissolves.

Meanwhile, peel the pears, leaving the stalks on and place upright in the pan – they should fit snuggly.

Pop the lid on the pan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes, spooning the red wine syrup over the pears a couple of times.

Remove from the heat and discard the cinnamon and cloves. Spoon the syrup once more over the pears and then pop into the fridge overnight.

When you’re ready to indulge, remove the pears from the syrup and cut a thin slice off the bottom to ensure they will stand upright on the serving plates. Serve each pear with some spicy syrup drizzled over: del-ic-ious!!!!

Tip…

I thought afterwards that the orange zest was particularly unattractive so I would in future sieve the syrup before serving.

Poached Pears with Stilton w

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

Really easy!

1 2 17