Puddings and Cakes

Old English Port Wine Jellies with Frosted Grapes

If, like me, you grew up in the 1970s you will probably remember the regular arrival of jelly and Carnation Cream as a pudding. I can recall with relish, gently mashing up the jelly and watching with fascination as the yellow-white ‘cream’ filtered through the jelly’s cracks. These days, jelly has fallen out of fashion, but I came across this recipe in one of Delia’s books and had to give it a go! It bears no resemblance to the 1970s versions, happily!!!!

Especially after a heavy main course, this dessert is simply delightful! An oldie but a goodie, it is light, fragrant and cool, not at all what you’d expect when you see that the ingredients include port and wine.

I didn’t ruin it with the addition of Carnation (that’s got to be spectacularly bad for you!) but tried it with and without a little cream and both versions work really well. Jelly is definitely back in fashion in this house!

Serves 4

What you need…

for the jellies

Four pretty stemmed glasses to serve

75g granulated sugar

285 ml water

1 stick cinnamon

3 cloves

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

1½ 12g packets powdered gelatine

210ml port (nothing too expensive)

75ml light red wine (I used a cheap Pinot Noir)

for the frosted grapes

Bunch seedless grapes, washed and dried

1 egg white

Caster Sugar

Bake O Glide/greaseproof paper

What to do…

Tip the sugar into a saucepan together with the water, cinnamon stick, cloves, lemon zest and juice. Cover the pan bring to the boil, then remove from the heat. Sprinkle in the gelatine and, using a balloon whisk. Gently whisk to dissolve. Let it cool for 15 minutes, gently whisking occasionally.

Strain the spices and zest from the syrup, pouring it into a jug. Stir in the port and wine and then taste. The flavour should be strong and rather sweeter than you might like but the sweetness lessens once the mixture is chilled and set, so add a little more sugar if you think it needs it (I added another 2 teaspoons) and stir it in until it dissolves. Pour the jelly syrup into your four stemmed glasses and pop in the fridge to set.

Meanwhile, onto your frosted grapes. Take two small bowls and in one, whisk up the egg white using a fork. In the other, tip in some caster sugar.

From your bunch of grapes, choose little bunches of two or three, ensuring that you leave them attached to their stalks as you separate them from the main bunch. Simply dip them into the egg yolk and then into the caster sugar, ensuring that they are evenly covered with the sugar, providing them with a frosted look. When you lift them out of the egg white, make sure there are no globules of egg white hanging off – they don’t look attractive when covered with caster sugar! Sit your bunches of frosted grapes onto a strip of Bake O Glide or greaseproof paper and set them somewhere cool and dry for a couple of hours (or overnight).

When you’re ready to serve your old English port wine jellies with frosted grapes, simply retrieve the jellies from the fridge and pop the frosted grapes on the top – so easy, so elegant, so delicious! Enjoy!

Serving suggestion…

A little jug of double cream with a teaspoon of caster sugar mixed in.

Inspired by…

Delia Smith (her Christmas book but I think this is a winner throughout the winter)

How easy…

Extremely easy, very quick and next to no mess!

 

 

 

 

Mini Baked Alaskas

 

Fabulous little desserts these! People are often a little terrified of Baked Alaska, instantly picturing an oven splattered with dripping ice cream but they’re really easy to make and they make quite an entrance when delivered to the table. You can also have great fun with them, swapping out the idea of everyone enjoying the same flavour ice cream with a ‘lucky-dip’ approach: four different flavours but who knows which one you’re getting! A further joy is passing a blow torch around the table for your fellow diners to finish off cooking their Alaskas with a bit of drama! Lest we get carried away with the presentation aspect of these little bombes, they taste pretty amazing too!

Serves 4

What you need…

1 x 7cm or 8cm cookie cutter

1 x flat baking tray

Kitchen blow torch (optional)

Chocolate cake, shop-bought or home-made (see blog recipe for 365 Chocolate Celebration Cake if you want to make your own).

4 individual tubs of ice cream – flavours of your choice – either all the same or all different. I like salted caramel, cookie dough, coffee and caramel chew chew.

4 egg whites

170g golden caster sugar

What to do…

Remove your chosen tubs of ice cream from the freezer and set aside for five minutes.

Using your cookie cutter, cut 4 thick slices from the cake and pop them on a baking tray.

Run a knife around the side of your ice creams and then ease them out onto the cake slices. Put the tray with your cake and ice cream into the freezer for at least an hour or until you are ready to finish off and serve.

Preheat your oven to 200c / 400f / gas 6.

Using an electric hand whisk, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and then add the sugar in 4 batches, whisking as you go until you have a stiff, glossy mixture (you can also leave this to sit in the fridge for a few hours if you want to prepare in advance).

Retrieve your Alaskas from the freezer and cover each one with a thick layer of meringue, making it nice and spiky and ensuring that the ice cream is thoroughly covered. Pop in the oven for 4 minutes: the meringue will brown slightly without the ice cream melting…..honest!

Serve your mini baked Alaskas to your anticipative diners and either dive straight in or hand around the blow torch for a more dramatic and torched look! Watch as everyone enjoys the singular wonder that is a Mini Baked Alaska!

Tips…

If you are using the 365 Chocolate Celebration Cake, use half the sponge ingredients and use just one cake tin – there will be loads left over – enough to sandwich together four generous slices with chocolate butter cream – chef’s treats!!

If you didn’t fancy going down the chocolate route for these little bombes, swap out the chocolate cake for Madeira, and choose complementary ice creams, e.g. vanilla, strawberry cheesecake – there’s so much choice now.

Inspired by…

www.bbcgoodfood.com

How easy…

Ridiculously easy for something that looks and tastes so amazing!

Vanilla and Amaretti Cheesecakes with Balsamic-Infused Strawberries

I saw a version of these completely delectable little cheesecakes on Saturday Kitchen and thought that I must give them a go. Wow! The TV didn’t do them justice – the rich, smooth creaminess of the cheesecake is perfectly contrasted by the warm, sweet, lusciousness of the strawberries, their flavour emphasised by balsamic vinegar (most unexpected). They look fabulous, are so easy to make and taste out of this world!

 Serves 4

 What you need…

 4 x chefs’ rings, 5.5cm diametre x 6cm deep (easily available online)

10 Amaretti biscuits

250g cream cheese

125g caster sugar

125g crème fraiche

240ml double cream

1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out

for the strawberries

200g strawberries, hulled and quartered

2 teaspoons caster sugar

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

What to do…

In a large bowl, tip in your cream cheese, caster sugar, crème fraiche, double cream and vanilla seeds. Whisk until smooth and thickened up so that the whisks leave a distinct trail.

Place the chefs’ rings on a flat plate, lined with Bake O Glide or parchment paper. Spoon the cheesecake mixture into each ring, pushing the mixture down to make sure there are no gaps. Smooth off the top with a palette knife and pop them in the fridge for at least 2 hours to set. If you are having friends around for dinner, you can do this bit in the morning and leave the rest until you are about ready to serve.

Just before you are ready to serve, pop your Amaretti biscuits into a plastic zip-lock bag and using a rolling pin, crush them inside the bag to create a dusting.

Remove the cheesecakes from the fridge and set aside at room temperature for 5 minutes.

Place the Amaretti crumbs on a plate and then dip each of the cheesecakes in their chefs’ rings into the crumbs, 2 – 3 times if necessary – to make sure that the end is thoroughly covered. Dip both ends in the Amaretti crumbs.

Then, hold your breath (!) and lightly shake each cheesecake from the chefs’ ring onto its serving plate. Despite your total disbelief, it will gently drop down the ring and then plop out beautifully onto your serving plate – looking gorgeous!

Meanwhile, heat a saucepan over a high heat. Tip in the strawberries and sugar and cook, stirring continually for about 1 minute. Pour over the balsamic and cook for a further 1 minute.

Spoon some of the strawberries onto the plate alongside the cheesecake. Absolutely delicious – the strawberries contrast the cheesecake perfectly, both elements enhancing the flavour of the other. Serve your vanilla and Amaretti cheesecakes with balsamic-infused strawberries together with a wee glass of Disaronno Italian liqueur or a lovely little dessert wine to complete the indulgence! Yum!

Tip…

Chefs’ rings are almost like slices of metal piping you might expect on a building site! Another description would that of a cookie cutter, double the normal depth.

Inspired by…

Stuart Gillies, with James Martin on Saturday Kitchen

How easy…

Really easy, the only nervy bit is when you’re watching the cheesecake slowly drop through the chefs’ rings but be patient, and it will be fine!

Plum and Apple Crumble Tart

Serves 8 – 10

I saw Mary Berry do this as part of the James Martin Saturday Kitchen show last month and was very taken with the lusciousness look of her version (with blackberries and apple). A pastry case together with a sweet, crunchy, nutty crumble topping and filled with the soft, sweet fruit – what a lovely combination for a dreary January day! I will just say that my tart tin is a full 5cms smaller than hers, as well as being shallower, but, as is my way, I kept the ingredients quantities roughly similar to her recipe, hence, whilst Mary’s tart was neat and flat, mine was mountainous and rather rustic-looking! That said, it tastes absolutely gorgeous and definitely fulfils the need for a little indulgent, comfort food – another one of those dishes that gets left on the side for a couple of hours after serving, with a handy spoon available just to check that it’s still ok…..

What you need…

1 x 28cm loose-bottomed, fluted tart tin, 3-4 cms deep, lightly buttered

Baking beans

for the pastry

225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

125g cold butter, cut into cubes

30g caster sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 – 2 tablespoons water

for the filling

2 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into small chunks

150g caster sugar

2 tablespoons water

500g plums, stoned and quartered

for the crumble topping

175g plain flour

100g cold butter, cut into cubes

50g rolled oats

100g demerara sugar

50g chopped almonds

What to do…

For the pastry, whizz the flour and butter in a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, egg and water and whizz again until the mixture comes together as a smooth dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured worktop and roll it out into a circle that’s about 3mm thick and large enough to line the tart tin base and sides. Press the pastry into the base and side of the tin and make a small lip around the top with the excess pastry. Prick the base all over with a fork and then pop in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6.

Line the chilled pastry case with baking/parchment paper and baking beans, then pop in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until the lip of the pastry is light golden-brown. Remove the baking beans and paper and reduce the oven to 150°c / 300°f / gas 2 and bake for a further 8-10 minutes or until the pastry is a light golden brown all over. Set aside to cool.

Increase the oven temperature back up to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6.

While the pastry is cooking, prepare the filling: place the apples, sugar and water into a medium saucepan and cook over a moderate heat, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes. Cover the pan, and simmer gently for a further 5 minutes. Mix in the plums, pop the lid back on and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Whilst the pastry and filling are cooling, make the crumble topping by popping all the ingredients into your processor (great to use it twice in one recipe without the need for washing up!) Whizz until everything is evenly mixed together and crumb-like.

Drain your cooked fruits through a colander, collecting the juice in a bowl for later. Spoon the fruit into the pastry case. Sprinkle over the crumble topping, covering all the filling and bake the tart for 20 – 25 minutes or until the crumble is crisp and golden brown.

Serve your plum and apple crumble the tart warm, with a little of the reserved fruit juice and some double cream or custard. Simply yummy!

Inspired by…

Mary Berry, Absolute Christmas Favourites

How easy….

Very easy – like Delia, Mary Berry is very precise with her instructions. I’m always a bit nervous about pastry but this was dead easy and absolutely lovely!

Brandy Snaps

I remember growing up in the 1970s and many a weekend punctuated by my parents’ dinner parties. All that rushing around in the daytime concocting wonderful dishes – Dad normally on the mains and mum on the desserts. Then the tidy up, quick bath and ready to receive guests. Featured in many of those evenings were after dinner drinks: port, brandy and liqueurs, which sadly have largely fallen out of fashion these days and the 1970s-iconic brandy snaps. Shop bought, full of sugary whipped cream, I remember praying that they wouldn’t all be eaten and inevitably they weren’t (I suspect I was allocated one or two from the outset). There is nothing quite like the crunch of the golden, lacy brandy snap quickly followed by the luscious cream; the combination of which made the taste buds wake up and party! They’ve been on my list for a while so here’s the first attempt. I decided against the traditional cigar shape, thinking that might stretch me too far this time around. But having done them once, I’ll give that a go next time.

Makes 12 good sized brandy snap bowls

What you need…

2 x large baking sheets, lined with baking parchment or ‘Bake-O-Glide’ (see Tips)

60g unsalted butter

2 tablespoons golden syrup

60g caster sugar

60g plain flour, sifted

½ teaspoon ground ginger, sifted

What to do…

Heat the butter, syrup and sugar in a medium pan until the mixture is fully melted and smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature for about 20 minutes.

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

Tip the flour and ginger into the butter mixture ands stir to make a thick paste.

Dollop 4 tablespoons of the brandy snap mixture onto each of the lined baking sheets – spacing far apart – they REALLY spread.

Put one tray in the oven and bake in the oven for 7-8 minutes, until deep golden and lacy.

Remove the first tray from the oven and pop the other one in.

Allow the first batch to cool for a few minutes until they are slightly firm but still pliable. Lift them out, one at a time, and mould them over an upturned glass/teacup or ramekin to make a bowl shape. They take a couple of minutes to set so maybe have three or four glasses. Once set, transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

After 7-8 minutes baking, remove the second set from the oven and repeat the cooling, moulding, cooling process with them. I split the brandy snap cooking into two to give myself enough time to mould the first four without worrying that the second four might be hardening too much to shape.

Once cool, store them in an airtight container until you’re ready to serve. Serve these sweet, crunchy bowls with whatever takes your fancy. They work particularly well with strong-flavoured ice cream (e.g. salted caramel, brandy, coffee) or cream topped with seasonal fruits, as shown in the image. Enjoy! Especially good with an espresso coffee on the side!

Tips…

Only in the last month did I discover Bake-O-Glide. Having far too much Champagne and canapés at my friend Susan’s house, I watched as she put tray after tray of food in her Aga, re-using the same Bake-O-Glide. Each time, the canapés really did glide off the lined baking trays with ease. No scrubbing or soaking afterwards. She simply put the Bake-O-Glide in the dishwasher and then it was ready for use again. A total convert, I now use this all the time – it’s not expensive, easily available (ordered off the Internet and it arrived the next day) and can be used 100s of times. If you already know about this stuff, you’ll think I’m bonkers; if not, order some now: total revelation!

To get the golden syrup to slide easily off your tablespoon, first wipe the spoon with olive oil – works brilliantly (saw this on Simply Nigella).

Inspired by…

Good Housekeeping

How easy…

They are not difficult but you do have to give them your full attention.

Truly Scrumptious Salted Caramel Ice Cream

I’ve never made ice cream before but somewhere down the line I’ve acquired an ice-cream maker. However, when I decided to try out this recipe I didn’t realise that the bowl had to be put in the freezer 24 hours beforehand! So, this one was done by hand and having done it once this way, I’m afraid that the machine is back where it came from, at the back of the cupboard. This ice cream is an absolute cinch to make and tastes truly scrumptious! Not only that, but it’s quite a soft ice cream, so if you have a bit of craving for ice-cream NOW, there’s no waiting about whilst it softens enough to scoop. So, this first attempt will be quickly followed by a second, third, fourth…try it and enjoy!

Serves 6 – 8 (unless you keep it secret, in which case just the 1!)

What you need…

170g caster sugar

225ml double cream

150ml milk

4 egg yolks

½ teaspoon sea salt

What you do…

Place a medium sized saucepan on a high heat and add 140g of the caster sugar. Heat, shaking the pan occasionally until the sugar melts into a rich caramel colour.

Take off the heat and slowly add the double cream, using a balloon whisk to incorporate it into the sugar. Bring back to the boil. Pour in the milk, again whisking in.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl use an electric hand-held whisk to beat together the egg yolks and remaining 30g caster sugar until you have a pale, mousse-like mixture. Pour the hot caramel into the bowl and whisk the lot together. Set aside to cool down.

Add the salt to the cooled mixture and pour it all into a deep plastic bowl and pop it in your freezer.

After 45 minutes, take it out of the freezer and whisk vigorously using your electric hand-held whisk – it will have started to freeze around the edges – break up the frozen sections and return to the freezer.

Repeat this process another three times at 45-minute intervals and then leave it – it should be ready within 4 hours of first going in the freezer.

Take a spoon or scoop and delve in to check your handiwork – truly scrumptious is the best that I can come up with but that doesn’t cover it – delectable, delicious, delightful…I could go on but really, you just need to try your own truly scrumptious salted caramel ice cream!

Serving suggestion…

Amazing with little sticky toffee puddings, scrumptious chocolate brownies (both on previous blogs) or, as in the picture here, with brandy snaps (recipe to follow) or… on it’s own – just you, the spoon and the ice cream!

Inspired by…

Another foodie blogger: A Spoonful of Sugar (www.aspoonfulofsugarblog.com)

How easy…

Sooooooooo easy, just don’t forget that it’s in the freezer for whisking part!

 

Little Sticky Toffee Puddings with Naughty, Decadent Sauce

Soooooo gorgeous, sooooo yummy, soooooo bad for you! Well, in reality I guess the puddings aren’t that bad but the sauce!!!! Simply melt together butter, cream and sugar – that says it all. Oh, and there’s also the ice cream that we like to serve them with – that’s not healthy either, but what a heavenly combination. Like many desserts, it is after all the naughty element that tempts us, making them an absolute treat. These are a real winter favourite in our house. Give them a go, and they will be in your house too!

What you need…

8 x 175g metal pudding basins, thoroughly buttered and with a little round of greaseproof paper in the bottom.

1 x baking tray

175g stoned, chopped dates

175ml boiling water

½ teaspoon vanilla essence

2 teaspoons coffee essence (I use Camp)

¾ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

75g butter, at room temperature

150g caster sugar

2 large eggs, beaten

175g self-raising flour, sifted

for the naughty sauce

175g soft brown sugar

110g butter

6 tablespoons double cream

What to do…

Pre-heat the oven to 180c / 350 °f / gas 4.

Begin by putting the chopped dates in a bowl and pouring the 175ml boiling water over them. Add the vanilla, coffee essence and bicarbonate of soda and leave on one side. Next, in a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric hand whisk until the mixture is pale, light and fluffy.

Gradually add the beaten egg, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. After that, carefully and lightly fold in the sifted flour, using a metal spoon. Then, fold in the date mixture, including the liquid.

Right now, it’ll look really sloppy – that’s fine: it’s supposed to. Divide the mixture equally between the eight pudding basins. Place on a baking tray and pop in the oven for 25 minutes.

When cooked, leave to cool for five minutes. Slide a small palette knife around each pudding and turn it out. If they’ve risen too much, you may need to lop off the tops so that they will sit evenly on the plate when you turn them (which means you get to sample the sponge – yipppeee: chef’s privileges.

Place the puddings into a shallow baking tray.

Next, make the sauce by tipping all the ingredients into a saucepan and very gently heating them until the sugar has completely dissolved.

To serve, pre-heat the grill to a medium-high setting and pour the sauce over the wee puddings. Place under grill so the tops of the puddings are about 13cm from the heat and let them warm through for five minutes (keep an eye on them: different grills pump out different heats and you don’t want them to burn). The tops should go slightly crunchy and the sauce will be hot and bubbling

Serve your little sticky toffee puddings with naughty, decadent sauce either with double cream or salted caramel ice-cream (recipe to follow later this week). Simply, to die for!

Serving suggestion…

We were given a bottle of Monbazillac, Chateau Peyronnette, 2014, by my cousin’s hubby-to-be, Matt, when they stayed in the run up to Christmas. When I tried this wine with the sticky toffee puddings, it took them from being ‘sodding incredible’ (with the ice cream) to ‘wow! Just wow!’ with the wine!!! Just fabulous!!! One of those experiences without which life just isn’t complete!

Tips….

This recipe is for eight puddings. I always make eight and then freeze those not required at that time in their moulds, which just leaves you to decide how much of the naughty sauce you make – totally yummy, I can eat this by the spoonful…without the puddings! Really, very naughty but wickedly good.

So, for two people: 60g soft brown sugar, 40g butter, 3 tablespoons double cream; for four people: 120g soft brown sugar, 80g butter, 6 tablespoons double cream.

Inspired by…

My friend, Helen, who served them to us at supper one evening and of course, Delia Smith, whose fabulous and ingredient-stained ‘Christmas’ cookery book contains the original recipe, un-tinkered-with.

Baklava

When on holiday in Corfu this year, we happened upon a very traditional restaurant that was mainly frequented by locals and would have been pretty much impossible to find except via boat. We visited this fabulously authentic restaurant twice, enjoying the food as much as the sea view over a rickety wooden pontoon. At the end of each meal, we were presented with the most delicious baklava – a dessert widely recognised as the national dessert of those countries that made up the Ottoman Empire. I’ve always liked baklava but this homemade version knocked any shop-bought pretender into touch. It was the family’s grandmother whose job it was to create the dessert for the restaurant’s guests each day. I vowed there and then to do my best to replicate the gorgeousness that was that dessert and this comes pretty close. It’s easy to make but sooooooooo bad for you!!!!

Serves 8

What you need…

1 x 20 cm round baking tin, lightly buttered

6 filo pastry sheets, cut in half to create 12 squares (approx 25cm)

150g chopped nuts – walnuts, pistachios and almonds

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon ground cloves

125g (!!!!!) butter, melted

for the syrup

300g sugar

200g water

40g honey

Zest of one lemon

1 cinnamon stick

What to do…

Pre-heat oven to 150°c / 300°f / gas 2

Melt the butter over a low heat, being careful not to burn it.

In the baking tin, lay one layer of filo pastry, then sprinkle melted butter over it. Repeat this process until you have used six sheets of pastry. You will have corners of pastry hanging over the baking dish – roughly fold them in and sprinkle them with butter.

In a bowl, mix together the chopped nuts, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Sprinkle half the mixture over the filo sheets and then add five more layers of filo pastry and sprinkled butter until you have just one sheet of pastry remaining. Sprinkle the remaining nut mixture on top of the pastry layers and then top with the final pastry sheet – don’t forget to sprinkle over the butter. Again, fold in the overhanging corners and sprinkle with more butter.

Place the baklava in the fridge for 15 minutes to make it easier to cut into portions. Remove from the fridge and, using a sharp knife cut the pastry all the way down into eight portions.

Place the baklava on a low shelf in the oven and bake for 1½ hours, until the pastry is crisp and golden.

Meanwhile, prepare the syrup. Into a small saucepan, mix together all the ingredients and bring to the boil. Boil for about 2 minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Don’t stir the syrup – it can go lumpy if you do. As soon as the baklava is baked, ladle over the some of the hot syrup. Once it has been absorbed, ladle over some more and repeat this process until no more can be absorbed – there’s usually a bit left in the pan but rather too much than too little!

Let the baklava cool down and serve – to die for (literally, with all that butter and sugar!) Simply divine!

Inspired by…

A grandmother in Corfu and a lot of Internet research!

How easy…

Very easy. The outcome far outweighs any effort anyway!

 

 

 

Sumptuous Chocolate Brownies

Dark, slightly gooey, indulgent little squares of naughtiness: there’s nothing quite like a good chocolate brownie and this recipe is gorgeous, easy and quick – lovin’ it!!!

Makes 20

What you need…

250g unsalted butter

200g 70% dark chocolate

80g cocoa powder, sifted

65g plain flour, sifted

1 teaspoon baking powder

360g caster sugar

4 large free-range eggs

What to do…

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

Lightly butter and line a 24cm square baking tin with greaseproof/parchment paper. Roughly break up your chocolate and pop it into a large heatproof bowl together with the butter. Put the bowl over a steamer, sitting in a saucepan of simmering water. Melt the butter and chocolate, mixing until smooth.

In another bowl, thoroughly mix together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and sugar.

Take the melted butter and chocolate mixture off the heat and stand the bowl on a tea towel on your worktop (to prevent the bowl slipping). Add the dry ingredients to the bowl, mixing them in thoroughly.

Whisk the eggs and then tip them into the rest of the mixture, whisking them in until you have a lovely silky, glossy smooth mixture.

Pour your brownie mix into the baking tin and place in the oven for around 25 minutes. When done, your sumptuous chocolate brownies should be slightly springy on the outside but still gooey in the middle.

Allow to cool in the tin, then carefully transfer the bake to a large chopping board and cut into chunky squares. Purely for quality control reasons, now is a good time to try one – just to make sure that they are OK – and ooooooooh, yummy, reach for another…

Inspired by…

Jamie Oliver

How easy…

Dead easy!

Christmas Mincemeat Bread and Butter Pudding

 

If you have friends popping around for lunch (as I did today) close to Christmas and you’ve already over-extended yourself on the ‘to-do’ list (as I do, repeatedly), this is the perfect dessert – it’d dead easy, really lovely and very Christmassy but light. You can knock it up in a jiffy and it cooks itself whilst you’re enjoying your main course. A bonus is the scent of Christmas that wafts through the house as it’s cooking!

Serves 6

What you need…

18 x 23cm baking dish, about 5cm deep, lightly buttered

6 slices bread from a large loaf

50g softened butter

3 rounded tablespoons mincemeat

60ml milk (or Oatly if you want to cut down on dairy)

60ml double cream (or the Oatly version)

3 large eggs

75g caster sugar

1 tablespoon demerara sugar

25g candied peel, finely chopped

What to do…

Pre-heat oven to 180°c / 350° f / gas 4.

Generously butter the bread slices on one side, then spread the mincemeat over three of them and put the other three slices on top, effectively creating mincemeat sandwiches. Spread the rest of the butter across the top slice of each sandwich and cut each one into quarters to make little triangles.

Arrange the triangular sandwiches, butter side up, overlapping each other and almost standing upright in the baking dish.

Whisk the milk, cream, eggs and caster sugar together and pour the mixture over the bread, ensuring that all the bread is moistened. Scatter the candied peel over the top with demerara sugar. Pop in the oven and bake for 35 – 40 minutes until it’s puffy and golden – the Christmas smell as it’s cooking is wonderful.

Serve your Christmas mincemeat bread and butter pudding straight away, perhaps with a little double cream and a whole bunch of festive cheer!

Tip…

Try different breads, rather than just plain white – there are some lovely festive loaves in the supermarkets at the moment.

Inspired by…

Delia Smith (this is essentially my version of her Chunky Marmalade Bread and Butter Pudding but with the Marmalade replaced by mincemeat!

How easy…

It couldn’t be easier: an absolute gift during the festive season!