Puddings and Cakes

Spice-Roasted Fruits with Honey and Orange Sauce

 

A lovely, lovely pud that is unbelievably easy, can be mostly prepared ahead and is very unusual. Given the combination of orange, cinnamon and star anise, there is more than a little nod towards Christmas in the aromas emanating from the oven as these lovely summer fruits bask in their sauce but there’s nothing wrong with that! Once cooked, the soft, warm fruit has a lovely sweet depth of flavour and the gentle spices give this dish a very welcome extra dimension. Something different for summer – give it a go!

Serves 6

What you need…

4 fresh bay leaves, torn

2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half

Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod

1 star anise

½ teaspoon black pepper

Zest and juice of 3 oranges

4 tablespoons clear honey

3 tablespoons light soft dark brown sugar

3 peaches, 3 nectarines, 6 plums all ripe, cut in half and stones removed

25g unsalted butter

Crème Fraîche, to serve

What to do…

The day before, take a large screw-top jar and tip in the bay leaves, cinnamon, vanilla pod seeds, star anise, pepper, orange zest and juice, honey and sugar. Screw on the lid, shake like mad and pop in the fridge.

Half an hour before serving, preheat your oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6.

Tip the fruit into a roomy baking dish. Shake your sauce like mad again and then pour over the fruit. Dot over the butter and pop into the oven to bake for 10 minutes. Baste the fruits with a large spoon and bake again for a further 10 minutes. One more basting and then a further 5 minutes cooking. That’s it! Serve these rich and wonderful warm summer fruits with a gorgeous dollop of crème fraîche – very yummy indeed!

Spice-Roasted Fruits close w

Inspired by…

My friend, Heather told me she’d had it to conclude a lunch with a friend of hers called Lady Jas (!) It sounded so good that I googled it and printed it off the BBC Good Food website.

How easy…

You just need a jam jar, some fruit and a bit of time in the oven! My kinda pud!

Espresso and Cardamom Cake with Pistachios

 

What can I tell you? The combination of coffee and cardamom is a blessed one -utterly sublime. The sponge for this cake also manages to combine being unbelievably light with gorgeously luscious; and then there’s the topping, which is nothing short of luxurious. There’s a warm, very, very gentle spice to this cake which adds a touch of something richly exotic but ultimately…..it’s a great cake and dead easy to make!

What you need…

1 large baking sheet

1 x 20cm round baking tin, lightly buttered and lined on the bottom with Bake O Glide or parchment paper

50g shelled unsalted pistachios

Seeds from 10 green cardamom pods, ground to a fine powder (see tip)

115g self-raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

115g butter, room temperature

2 large eggs

115g golden caster sugar

1 espresso coffee, cooled

for the syrup

1 espresso coffee, freshly made and still hot

Seeds from 10 green cardamom pods, ground to a fine powder

1 tablespoon Demerara sugar

for the topping

250g mascarpone

1 espresso coffee, cooled

1 tablespoon golden caster sugar

1 tablespoon milk

50g shelled pistachios

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 170°c / 325°f / gas 3.

Lay out all the pistachios onto your baking sheet and pop into the oven for 8 minutes to roast. Remove and divide into 2 halves of 50g each. Chop 50g finely. Leave the other half of nuts whole to decorate the top of the cake.

Into your food processor tip the flour and baking powder. Whizz to mix together. Add the butter, eggs, caster sugar, espresso and seeds from 10 cardamom pods. Whizz until smooth and creamy.

Fold in the 50g chopped nuts and when evenly incorporated, tip the mixture into your baking tin. Pop into the oven and bake for 25 minutes. To test if the sponge is cooked, press the centre lightly with your little finger – it should spring back.

Whilst the cake is cooking, make the syrup by putting all the ingredients into a jug and use a balloon whisk to beat until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool.

To make the topping, put all the ingredients except the nuts, into a bowl and use a handheld electric whisk to beat together until a fluffy consistency that will be easy to spread. Cover with cling film and keep in the fridge until needed.

Once the cake is out of the oven, prick all over with a skewer and then sprinkle the syrup evenly over the top. Leave in the tin to cool completely.

When you’re ready to serve, transfer the cake from the baking tin onto a pretty serving plate. Pile on the topping spread evenly. Take a palette knife around the edge if you want a neat finish. Sprinkle the pistachios over the top. Voila! It’s done. Serve with a freshly made espresso and perhaps a little coffee liqueur on the side. Absolutely delightful and delectably different from your usual sponge cake!

Tip…

To extract the seeds from cardamom pods, bash them a bit using a pestle in a mortar (or in a small zip-lock bag and a rolling pin). Open up the pods and push out the seeds with a teaspoon.

Inspired by…

Delia Smith

How easy…

Really easy – just the way I like ‘em!

 

 

 

Light and Lovely Lemon Mousse

What can I tell you – light, fresh, yummy, yummy, yummy, zesty, sweet, heavenly springs to mind. This is just a lovely, lovely lemon mousse that takes a bit of effort but is soooooo worth it. Try it and I guarantee you’ll add it to your favourites list!

Serves 4

What you need…

1 x 1 pint mould, filled with cold water

1½ dessertspoons gelatine powder

45ml cold water

1½ eggs (I know! See tip!)

1 egg yolk

50g caster sugar

65ml lemon juice

Grated zest of 1½ lemons

125ml double cream, lightly whisked to soft peaks

What to do…

Take a large bowl (bigger than the one that you are going to whisk the eggs and sugar in), tip in a load of ice, top up with water and set aside.

Put a large saucepan over the heat with a steamer and bring to a simmer.

Tip the gelatine into the water to soften. Set aside.

Put the eggs and yolk with the sugar into a large heatproof bowl and pop into the steamer. Use a handheld electric whisk and beat for between 5 and 10 minutes until the mixture is pale and fluffy and the whisk leaves a distinct trail.

Remove from the heat, setting onto a tea towel on your worktop to prevent slipping. Add the lemon juice and zest and continue to whisk until the mixture is cool.

Stick the gelatine into a microwave for a few seconds to melt and then tip into the mixture. Whisk to incorporate.

Put your mixture bowl into the iced water bowl and pop in a balloon whisk. For 15 – 20 minutes (whilst you clear up) keep coming back to the mixture and give it a gentle little whisk, also scraping down the side of the bowl until the mixture is just starting to set. Fold in the cream so that it is evenly incorporated.

Empty the water from your mould and then tip your mixture in. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours. To unmould, fill your sink with hot water to a height just below that of your mould. Pop the mould into the water and remove when you see the sides of the mousse just coming away from the mould. Invert onto a pretty plate (remember to breathe – it will plop out – I promise!!!) and serve to a very appreciative audience! Enjoy – it is simply heavenly!

Tip…

This is half the original recipe – works perfectly for us when we’re on our own but obviously, you can’t really have half an egg. For the half, chuck an egg in a measuring jug, beat it with a fork just to mix it all together, see how much liquid there is and the chuck half down the sink. Sorry, but there it is: either this or double up and invite friends around or eat a lot of lemon mousse (not necessarily a problem!!!)

Inspired by…

No idea! Another once clipped from a magazine years ago that I have made and enjoyed successfully over at least 2 decades!

How easy…

It is easy, but it does take time and there’s quite a lot of clearing up. That said, it can be prepared 24 hours in advance so hey, job done if you have friends coming around!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Rice Krispie Squares

Such a great one to do with kids – easy to make, little danger of too much mess and best of all, they taste great! Lovely milk chocolate enhanced by sweet, rich golden syrup and the crunch of rice krispies – an absolute, all-round delight. Try them – you don’t necessarily need an available child but it does bring an extra dimension of joy to the proceedings!

Makes 16 – 24 squares

What you need…

1 x 30cm x 20cm Swiss roll baking tin, lined with foil

200g good quality milk chocolate (150g for the recipe and 50g for chef’s privileges)

50g unsalted butter

60ml golden syrup

135g rice krispies or a gluten-free puffed rice cereal if gluten is a concern

At least 1 x small child (optional)

What to do…

Ask small child to break up the chocolate into chunks, explain about chef’s privileges and indulge in the naughty extra chunks yourselves. Keeping small child at bay, tip the remaining 150g chunked chocolate into an ovenproof bowl and set in a steamer over a pan of simmering water (bain-marie) and gently melt the chocolate. Don’t stir.

Turn off the heat but leave the bowl in the steamer. Add the butter and syrup and leave to stand for 2 minutes, then gently fold them in until evenly incorporated. Remove the bowl from the pan.

Stand the bowl on a tea towel so that it doesn’t slip. Explain to small child that the bowl is hot and that you will hold onto it whilst he or she tips in the rice krispies. Rescue those that didn’t make it into the bowl and add them! Explain to small child to fold the krispies in quickly but gently (so they won’t go everywhere) – oops – too late – they’re all over the worktop! Rescue flung krispies and help fold them in until they’re all covered in the lovely chocolate mixture.

Tip into prepared tin and ask small child to use a spatula to spread out evenly and then flatten down so that the krispies are tightly packed. Do a quick quality-control check before popping the tray in the fridge to set for 2 hours. Distract small child.

Use a sharp knife to cut into squares. Keep whatever you can in an airtight container, but let’s face it, they’re not going to last long! Have wipes ready for sticky fingers and faces! Enjoy! Sometimes, it’s just great being a kid again!

Inspired by…

Nigella Lawson and Laura Holborrow!

How easy…

Child’s Play!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Lime Cake with Margarita Cream

So easy and so lovely and if you have gluten-intolerant friends coming to stay, it’s ideal. This cake is luscious and moist, really chocolatey with a cheeky little kick of lime. But…when it served with the naughty and rather delicious Margarita Cream (which tastes like the cocktail it is), it goes from being a thing of loveliness to something that definitely has wow-factor! (The cream can also be served on it’s own as a syllabub – see picture at end of blog recipe). Give it a go – you won’t be disappointed!

Serves 8-10

What you need…

1 x 23cm spring-form cake tin, lightly buttered and lined on the bottom with Bake O Glide or parchment paper

1 large baking sheet

150g dark chocolate, broken into chunks

150g unsalted butter

6 eggs

250g caster sugar

100g ground almonds

4 teaspoons cocoa powder, sifted

Zest and juice of 1 lime

Icing sugar, to dust

for the Margarita Cream

Juice from 2 large limes

1 tablespoon tequila

1 tablespoon triple sec

75g icing sugar

250ml double cream

What you do…

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

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl in a steamer over a pan of simmering water (bain-marie) and then set aside to cool slightly.

Whilst the chocolate and butter are gently melting, use either a freestanding mixer to handheld electric whisk to beat together the eggs and sugar until the mixture has tripled in volume and is pale and moussy.

Mix together the almonds and cocoa and then use a balloon whisk to gently but thoroughly fold into the egg and sugar mixture. Then fold in the melted chocolate and butter and finally, the lime zest and juice.

Tip the lot into your cake tin and put the tin onto the baking sheet (I do this in the unlikely event that the cake tin leaks a bit). Pop into the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the cake is firm on the top, but a little wobbly underneath!

Remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack, but cover with a clean tea towel after 15 minutes to stop the top of the cake from getting crusty.

Whilst the cake is cooling, prepare the Margarita Cream. In a large bowl, stir together the lime juice, tequila, triple sec and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Using your handheld electric whisk, slowly beat in the double cream and keep whisking until you have a light, floaty aerated mixture. Taste (chef’s privileges) and wonder why no-one has introduced you to this before and how many other desserts you can imagine pairing it up with!

When the cake is cold, release from its tin, dust with icing sugar and transfer to a pretty serving plate. Cut lovely moist slices and serve with a generous dollop of the rather delicious Margarita Cream. Yummy!

Margarita Cream w

Inspired by…

Nigella Lawson

How easy…

Dead easy and I knocked it up in no time at all.

 

 

 

Frozen Raspberry and Orange Parfait in a Dark Chocolate Case

This is the most fantastic dessert for a boiling hot summer day – I know we don’t get many but you can make this and then whack it in the freezer until the glorious British weather delivers a freakily hot day! It’s refreshing, light but sweet; the ripeness of the raspberries married to fresh, sweet orange and then all encased in dark chocolate is just a wonderful combination.

Serves 8 – 10

What you need…

1 x 20cm deep spring-form cake tin, lightly oiled

175g dark chocolate, broken into chunks

1 tablespoon water

15g unsalted butter

500g fresh raspberries

2 tablespoons clear, runny honey

150ml orange juice, freshly squeezed (makes all the difference)

175g caster sugar

2 egg whites

Pinch of salt

300ml whipping cream

Mint leaves and 3 or four extra raspberries, to garnish

What to do…

To make the chocolate case, tip your chocolate chunks and water into a heatproof bowl and put into a steamer over a pan of simmering water. Melt the chocolate and then stir in the butter. Spoon the chocolate into the base of the tin and spread it evenly up the sides of the tin – you can go all the way to the top and have thin coating of chocolate or just half way, as I did, to have a thicker chocolate case. Pop the case in the fridge.

To make the frozen parfait, use your food processor break down the raspberries into a pulp and then press them through a sieve into a jug to create a pip-free purée. Stir in the honey and set aside.

In a large bowl, use a handheld electric whisk to beat the egg whites and salt together to form soft peaks. Set aside. Rinse off your whisk and then in a smaller, separate bowl whisk the cream until it also forms soft peaks – no more. Set aside. Rinse off your whisk again.

Clean out the sieve and use it to strain the orange juice into a saucepan. Add the sugar and place over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to high and boil fiercely, without stirring, for 3 minutes. Quickly tip the hot orange syrup into the egg whites, whisking the whole time and keep going until the mixture is thick and resembles an uncooked meringue.

Using a balloon whisk, lightly fold in the raspberry purée and when fully incorporated, gently do the same with cream.

Tip the lot into your chocolate case and whop into the freezer for at least 5 hours but preferably overnight.

To remove from the tin, either rub the sides with a hot cloth or – much more fun – go around the outside of the tin with a kitchen blow torch. I then take a steak mallet and gently bang the sides just to make sure that the case has loosened away from the tin. Open your tin mechanism and gently ease the sides away from the parfait. If you’re feeling brave, carefully insert a fish slice all around the bottom of the parfait to separate the chocolate base from the tin-base and then ease it onto a pretty serving plate. If you’re not feeling so brave, just lift the parfait, cake tin-base and all, onto the serving plate. Decorate with raspberries and mint, cut into slices and serve immediately – absolutely delightful: an English summer right there on a plate and a perfect antidote to a hot, sticky summer’s day (or evening) – yummy!

Tips…

The original recipe used white chocolate rather than dark but I elected to use the latter, believing that it would be a better foil for the raspberries. I’m also not that keen on white chocolate. However, if it is your thing, swap out the dark for the white!

If there isn’t a crowd of you when you first serve this, you can quickly cut the parfait into slices and then re-freeze those not required for another day.

Frozen Rasp Parfait slice w

Serving suggestion…

Whizz and then sieve raspberries to create a purée, then stir in some Chambord black raspberry liqueur to suit your taste. Just a little on the side of your frozen parfait is quite delicious!

Inspired by…

Josceline Dimbleby

How easy…

It’s not hard, but takes quite a bit of time and creates a fair old mess. That said, the dishwasher was quickly loaded and doing its business and l like the fact that this can be made waaaay in advance.

 

 

Absolutely Fabulous Pavlova

One of my favourite summer desserts, Pavlova is just divine: sweet, ripe fruit on top of whipped double cream, all gracing wonderful meringue: crisp on the outside and deliciously light, soft and slightly chewy on the inside. The combination is just heavenly and the joy of this recipe is that it is ridiculously easy to make – I’d never made meringue before finding this recipe but it has always been a success – in every way – and a firm favourite on our summer menus.

Serves 6 – 8

What you need…

3 egg whites

Pinch of salt

250g caster sugar, plus 3 – 4 teaspoons for the cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon malt vinegar

300ml double cream (or more if you want to pile it high!)

At least 1 x 300g punnet of ripe summer strawberries or a combination of your favourite summer fruit – I often combine strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. The amount of fruit is all about personal preference

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 140°c / 275°f / gas 1.

Line a baking tray with Bake O Glide/parchment paper and draw a 23cm circle on it (as guidance for later).

Using an handheld electric whisk, beat the egg whites and salt together until very stiff. Then, gradually whisk in the 250g caster sugar until it forms stiff peaks – this takes 3 – 4 minutes. Fold in the vanilla extract and vinegar.

Plop the meringue mixture onto your baking tray, gently spreading it to fit the drawn circle. Pop it into the oven and leave for 1 hour until firm. Then – and this is key – switch the oven off but leave your meringue in for a further 30 minutes with the door closed.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely. Discard the lining paper and put your meringue onto a pretty serving plate.

Whisk the cream and 3 – 4 teaspoons of sugar together (the amount of sugar depends on your personal taste) until stiff and then pile on top of the meringue. Arrange the fruit on top, stand back, admire your handy work and then serve – just divine – this is one of those desserts that is so light and delicious, I just keep coming back for one more spoonful….time and time again. Enjoy!

Pavlova close up w

Tips…

Don’t waste the egg yolks – they can be frozen for another use.

If I’m feeding a crowd, I’ll double up on these ingredients and made a great big Pavlova and then use the remaining 6 egg yolks to make a large tiramisu – a thoroughly naughty conclusion to any meal!

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner

How easy…

Very, very easy and simply delicious!

Fast and Fantastic Summer Strawberry Ice Cream

So, you know those hot days when it gets to mid afternoon and you fancy a little treat but frankly, it’s too early for wine….? Well, yesterday was one of those days and I think that perhaps this bank holiday weekend may serve up a couple of hot, sunny days. Anyway: wow, I tried the fastest, loveliest strawberry ice cream – it set me up for the rest of the day! We normally have a little double cream in the fridge (I know, you’re shocked) but also, I’ve started freezing strawberries if it looks like they’re going to go off before we finish them (I always buy too many – direct from the farm, they’re so tempting) so given these lovely set of circumstances, I can now have a fabulous strawberry ice cream within seconds and on a whim! Definitely give this one a go – there’ll be no going back to supermarket cartons, I promise.

Serves 2

What you need…

200g frozen strawberries, hulled (and halved if they are large)

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

150ml double cream

2 teaspoons sugar (optional and probably not necessary if your strawberries are ripe and sweet)

What to do…

Fit the cutting blade rather than the blending one into your food processor. Chuck in all the ingredients. Whizz. The frozen strawberries will break up and freeze the double cream. When you’re happy with the consistency – either still slightly lumpy with fruit or completely smooth – your choice, then serve! That’s it! Sit in the garden and marvel at the simplicity of this treat on a gorgeous English summer afternoon. Doesn’t get much better than that! Oooooh, the bad news is that it doesn’t really re-freeze, so…you need to eat the lot! Enjoy!

Inspired by…

James Martin

How easy…

There isn’t an adjective to describe quite how easy this is!

Rhubarb and Amaretti Cake with Orange and Rosemary Glaze

Once finished, I thought that this was quite an unassuming looking cake, but once tasted – WOW – I completely changed my mind. It is the reason the word ‘luscious’ was invented, surely! This cake is moist and the combination of the rosemary and orange is a marriage made in heaven. Ground almonds, as part of a list of cake ingredients, are fast becoming a favourite as their inclusion automatically guarantees a lovely moist, moreish sponge. And then the rhubarb: just yum, yum, yum: another one to add to your ‘must try’ list.

Serves 10-12

What you need…

1 x 23cm loose-bottomed fluted tart tin, lightly buttered and lined on the bottom with Bake O Glide or parchment paper

225g unsalted butter, cut into chunks

200g golden caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 eggs, lightly beaten

Zest of 2 oranges, finely grated

200g ground almonds

50g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

8 amaretti biscuits, broken into small chunks

2 sticks rhubarb, trimmed, cut into 6cm pieces and halved lengthways to produce 12 – 16 lengths

Granulated sugar to sprinkle

for the glaze

Juice of 1 orange

2 fresh rosemary sprigs

20g granulated sugar

Squeeze fresh lemon juice

What to do…

Into your food processor, chuck the butter and sugar and whizz until they are combined, pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and whizz some more to disperse. Whilst whizzing, gradually add the eggs, making sure that each addition is fully mixed in before pouring in some more.

Tip in the orange zest, almonds, flour and baking powder and whizz to evenly combine. Remove the plastic blending blade from your food processor and then gently stir in the amaretti chunks.

Tip the lot into your tart tin. Gently push in the rhubarb pieces in a spoke pattern, leaving them two thirds uncovered (they will sink in the oven).

Bake for 40 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. If the cake becomes mainly golden brown before the cake is properly cooked through, loosely cover with foil for the remaining baking time.

Leave to cool in its tin for 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle the tart tin. Remove from the tin (whilst still on its base) and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Whilst the cake is cooking, make the syrup: into a saucepan, tip the orange juice, rosemary and sugar. Heat and gently simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Cool. Add a little squeeze of lemon juice. Taste. Add more if the syrup is still too sweet for your taste.

Once both the cake and syrup are cool, pierce the cake all over with a skewer and then gently and slowly pour over the syrup, pausing whilst it sinks in, if necessary.

Sprinkle with granulated sugar and then take your first slice…OMG…just so luscious. It’s moist and completely delicious. Prepare to take a second slice – you won’t want to say ‘no’!.

Amaretti cake 2 w

Observation…

In the original recipe, the rhubarb could clearly be seen from the top of the cake, but mine had sunk to the bottom. To be honest: who cares? Mine was still attractive and the cake was absolutely luscious, moist and gorgeous!

Inspired by….

Delicious magazine

How easy…

Very: measure out, whizz, arrange rhubarb, bake and then pour over syrup and sprinkle sugar. Most taxing part: saying no to more!

Affogato al Caffe e Disaronno

Wow! This is just Naughty with a massively capital ‘N’. Ice cream, Disaronno, espresso and chocolate: it tastes like a combination of Italy’s boozy trifle, Tiramisu and my favourite cocktail, Espresso Martini. Equally, we started off eating it with a sundae spoon and ended up drinking it! The biggest problem is that it makes you greedy to get the lot down as quickly as possible, so fantastically naughty, it is! Made in seconds, this could become a really wicked little habit! What can I say: you need to try it!

Serves 1 (but that would be sad: double up and share with your favourite person)

What you need…

1 scoop of vanilla or honeycomb ice cream (previously blogged and works brilliantly in this).

1 tablespoon Disaronno

1 shot freshly made espresso coffee

1 teaspoon good quality dark chocolate, finely grated

What to do…

Wodge ice cream into the bottom of a pretty glass or small cup.

Pour over the Disaronno, then the espresso and then, sprinkle over the chocolate.

Immediately dive in with your spoon, marvel at the wicked gorgeousness of it, plunge in the spoon a couple more times before discarding it to drink the rest of your affogato! There’s probably a more elegant way of enjoying this but….this level of naughtiness deserves some gusto!

Tips…

If you are not quite as partial to Disaronno as I am, you could always swap it for Baileys.

There’s nothing to stop you mucking about with the quantities of any of the ingredients in this pudding-cum-cocktail.

Inspired by…

Gino D’Acampo

How easy…

Dangerously so!

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