Puddings and Cakes

Bear’s Knock Out Chocolate Mousse

OK, so this isn’t strictly cooking but I’m forgiving myself on the basis that we are moving house and I’m not a super hero! Also, this mousse is luscious, divine, ridiculously easy and delivers instant gratification! Sooooooo rich, dense and simply delicious, the recipe comes from adventurer, Bear Grylls in answer to the question, “What would be the one recipe you would pass on?” I’ve made two, but you could easily make four, using shot glasses, serving them with raspberries perhaps. Whatever way you choose, give this mousse a whirl – I dare you not to fall in love with it!!!!

Serves 2

What you need…

2 eggs

4 slightly heaped tablespoons cacao powder

4 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and cooled

1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

What to do…

Pop all the ingredients in a bowl. Use an electric handheld whisk to beat all the ingredients together until the mixture is smooth.

Divide between either 2 or 4 pretty glasses. Pop in the fridge to chill.

Take a teaspoon, dig in, revel in the rich lusciousness of this gorgeous mousse. Repeat until it’s all gone. Feel blessed that something so simple is sooooooo good!

How easy…

Ridiculously – it takes literally 3 minutes

Inspired by…

Adventurer, Bear Grylls

The Most Chocolatey Chocolate Muffins

Rich, sweet and moist in the middle, these muffins are absolutely gorgeous – obviously naughty and seriously chocolatey. Also, dead easy to make. The only problem is the negotiation with little people on how much mixture is left in the mixing bowl for them to ‘clean’! Enjoy – very yummy!

Makes 12 large or 18 medium muffins

What you need…

1 or 2 muffin cases (depending on the size), together with paper muffin cases

250g plain flour

200g caster sugar

200g chocolate chips

45g cocoa powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 egg

235ml plain yogurt

120ml milk

120ml rapeseed oil

What to do…

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

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the plain flour, caster sugar, 125g chocolate chips, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda.

Into your food processor, tip the egg, yogurt, milk and rapeseed oil and whizz until smooth. Pour into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir together. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases, filling them up to about three quarters. Sprinkle over the remaining chocolate chips.

Pop in the oven for 20 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool your scrumbly muffins in their tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Demolish and enjoy!

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Inspired by…

www.allrecipes.co.uk

How easy…

Minimal effort for some considerable and very yummy return.

Orange Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

These cookies make for a lovely little treat and they are spectacularly easy and very fast to knock up. The cookie is crisp, rich and crumbly and then you bite into the gorgeous crunchy nuggets orange chocolate – just yummy. Make them with kids – they’re nearly instant – or make them just for yourself, if you fancy a quick hit of baking therapy! (Moving house: I needed some Cindy-in-the-kitchen time). Either way, you’ll love ‘em.

Makes around 20

What you need…

2 x baking sheets, lightly buttered or lined with Bake O Glide

175g butter, cut into cubes and soft

75g caster sugar

175g plain flour

75g semolina

85g Terry’s chocolate orange, chopped into wee nuggets

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 190°c / 375°f / gas 5.

Tip the butter and sugar into your food processor and whizz until pale and fluffy. Add in the flour and semolina and whizz again until the mixture begins to form course breadcrumbs. Scrape down the sides, remove the blade and then stir in the chocolate pieces.

Shape the mixture into around 20 walnut-sized balls and arrange on your baking sheets, leaving enough room around them to spread. Flatten them with the heel of your hand. Pop them in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are golden.

Allow to cool for a few minutes and then use a palette knife to transfer to cooling racks.

Once cool, make yourself a large mug of tea or coffee, find a relaxing spot to sit in with your favourite book or the newspaper and enjoy some me-time, munching your way through these delicious cookies.

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

Childs’ play, I’d say!

 

Amaretto Savarin with Nectarines

I was somewhat bemused by this recipe: looks like a cake but the ingredients sound like bread – what the hell – decided to give it a go anyway. Wow! What a wonderful surprise! The sponge, if it that is the correct term, is unbelievably, like spectacularly light and….it’s drenched in the amaretto syrup. Push a bite-sized piece of the sweet, moist savarin onto a spoon and add a wedge of delicious warm, ripe (and somewhat naughty) nectarine – together they are utter bliss. Nothing short of it!

Serves 16+

What you need…

1 x 1 litre savarin baking mould, lightly buttered

250g strong flour, plus extra for dusting

30g sugar

4 eggs

Pinch of salt

15g fresh or dried yeast or 1 sachet of fast action dried yeast (my preference)

85g melted butter

for the amaretto syrup

150g caster sugar

400ml water

Zest of 1 lemon

125ml amaretto liqueur (Disaronno)

for the nectarines

60g butter

8 nectarines, stones removed and cut into wedges

4 tablespoons demerara sugar

4 springs lemon thyme, leaves picked

500ml double cream, whipped

12 amaretti biscuits, broken (optional)

What to do…

The day before you want to serve, place the flour, sugar, eggs, salt and yeast into a mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix on a slow speed until the mixture comes together (I did speed 2 for 10 minutes). With the machine still running, pour in the melted butter and mix in to thoroughly incorporate. Remove the bowl, cover with cling film and pop in the fridge overnight.

Also, the day before, make the syrup. Tip all the ingredients into a saucepan over a gentle heat and simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat, pop on the lid and leave overnight, allowing the flavours to fully develop.

The next day, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead it to form a large ball, then roll it to create a long sausage, just big enough to fit in the savarin mould. Leave to rise for 50 minutes (I put mine in the small oven at the lowest temperature possible).

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

Pop your savarin mould into the oven and bake for 25 minutes.

Remove from the savarin from the oven and allow to cool in the mould.

Meanwhile, strain the syrup and discard the lemon zest.

Turn your savarin out onto a pretty plate or shallow serving dish and liberally poke all over with a bamboo skewer. Then spoon over the syrup, thoroughly drenching the savarin.

Just before you are ready to serve, pop the butter, nectarines, demerara sugar and lemon thyme into a saucepan over a gentle heat and warm until the sugar has dissolved.

Serve large, moist slices of the savarin with a couple of wedges of warm, sweet nectarine, a large dollop of cream and a crumble of amaretti biscuits. Truly, you will think you are in heaven – absolutely gorgeous!

 Tip…

Rather than using one large savarin mould, you could bake individual or smaller versions, freezing those not needed on the day.

 Inspired by…

The Daily Mail’s Weekend

 How easy…

Really easy and I love that you can do most of the prep the day before you want to indulge.

Chocolate Malteser Cake

Serves 16+

Your kids can grow up but some things never change. Connagh and I saw Lorraine Pascale make this cake on telly several years ago and we have made it twice since. Asked what kind of cake he would like for his 17th birthday and this was the request! I’ve changed Lorraine’s original recipe, replacing her sponge and butter cream recipes with those used to create my 365 cake – my all time favourite chocolate cake. The result? Fabulous if I don’t say so myself – the cake didn’t last long though: the sponge is so, so light but lusciously chocolatey; likewise the butter cream is sumptuously rich and chocolately without being sickly. Simply divine.

What you need…

2 x 20cm / 8” cake tins (spring form or loose-bottomed ideally), lightly buttered and lined on the bottom with parchment paper.

340g unsalted butter, room temperature

340g caster sugar

6 eggs

1 dessertspoon vanilla extract

140g milk

225g self-raising flour

85g cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

for the chocolate butter cream

75g dark chocolate (ideally 70% cocoa) broken into pieces

150g unsalted butter, room temperature

300g icing sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

for the decoration

Around 800g Maltesers (this will be too many but I have accounted for the chef’s privileges that go along the way! It equates to 7 x 120g boxes or 2 and a bit x 360g boxes).

What to do…

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

Using a food processor, beat together the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy. Whilst it’s still beating, add in the eggs, one at a time, ensuring that each is thoroughly mixed in before adding the next. Add the vanilla extract and milk and mix in.

In a large mixing bowl, sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Then, add in the ingredients from the food processor and, using a balloon whisk, fold together all the ingredients until they are thoroughly blended. Divide the chocolate sponge mixture between the two cake tins.

Bake the sponges in the oven for 45 minutes until the cake is firm and an inserted skewer comes out dry.

Allow to cool for 30 minutes in the tins and then turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the butter cream, made especially gorgeous by the use of the melted chocolate.

Put your chocolate into a heatproof bowl and then into a steamer over a saucepan of simmering water. Gently melt the chocolate and then set aside until it is cool enough to touch.

In a separate bowl, sieve in the icing sugar and then beat together with the butter. Add the vanilla essence and then tip in the warm chocolate. Mix together using a small balloon whisk to ensure it is evenly and thoroughly blended. Set aside until you are ready to assemble the cake.

Spread the butter cream lavishly and evenly across the bottom sponge. Pop on the top sponge. Using a spatula or palette knife spread more butter cream all over the outside of the assembled cake, taking particular care to fill in the gap between the two sponges. Don’t be sparing – this is one decadent chocolate cake and should be spared no naughtiness! Run a palette knife lightly around the cake and then over the top so that you have a smooth surface onto which you can pop your Maltesers.

‘Pre-clean’ the butter cream bowl before sticking it in the dishwasher: you know exactly what I mean – a small spatula, fingers – anything will do – it’s too good to waste – tastes amazing! If you have small child (or older) children around, they always seem happy to help with this particular job!

Spend time plopping on your Maltesters. I start at the bottom of the cake, going around and around the cake until I ultimately end up in the centre of the top! Lorraine Pascale was somewhat more precise in her arrangement, involving a ruler! Serve! Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! Decadent, delicious, delovely…just one more piece please.

Chocolate malteser cake 2

Inspired by…

Lorraine Pascale for the concept and a mish-mash of other chocolate cake recipes to get the one I love.

How easy…

Very easy; you just need time to play with the Maltesers!

 

Nectarine, Almond and Polenta Cake with Marsala Mascarpone

Yum: I’m not sure if this recipe comes from Sicily, where Marsala originates, but it certainly tastes like it does! A dense and exceptionally moist, sweet sponge created by in the inclusion of nectarine pulp, Marsala, polenta, almonds and olive oil, this cake is absolutely delicious served with the sweet, rich and Marsala-infused mascarpone and when you complete the dish with a couple of slices of ripe nectarines, it’s just wonderful and so very, very summery. An added bonus is that it keeps really well for a couple of days if you don’t demolish it all on the first!

Serves 8 – 10

What you need…

1 x 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin, lightly buttered and lined with Bake O Glide or parchment paper

150g caster sugar

3 ripe nectarines plus a further 3-4 to serve (depending on how many of you are having your cake and eating it!)

125ml sweet Marsala wine

190ml extra virgin olive oil

240g caster sugar

100g polenta

250g ground almonds

3 large eggs, beaten

for the Marsala mascarpone

500g mascarpone

100g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting

4 tablespoons sweet Marsala wine

What to do…

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

Fill a large saucepan with water and add the caster sugar. Bring to the boil and gently drop in the nectarines. Turn down the heat and gently poach them for 30 minutes, until tender.

Drain the nectarines and cool. Slice the fruit off the stone and pop the flesh into your food processor. Add the 125 ml Marsala and whizz to a purée, Add the remaining cake ingredients and whizz again to create a smooth batter. Pour into your cake tin and bake for 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, use a handheld electric whisk to beat together all the ingredients for the Marsala mascarpone ‘cream’. Also, slice up the remaining nectarines, discarding the stones.

Pop the cooled cake onto a pretty serving plate and dust with icing sugar, arrange some nectarine slices on the top and offer the remaining slices to your fellow cake eaters together with the lovely Marsala mascarpone – delightfully delicious.

Inspired by…

Delicious Magazine online

How easy…

Ridiculously! And it can be made ahead.

Marsala-Baked Summer Peaches with Mascarpone Cream

Utterly delicious is my description. John’s is a little more vibrant: peaches with dogs’ bollox cream! Why? I have no idea but it’s stuck in this house, so when the British Summertime rolls around, there is an inevitable request for this dish – using John’s language – and we all know what he’s talking about! Anyway, the point is that this lovely pudding is delicious and easy: the light and fresh ‘cream’ contrasts perfectly with the rich Marsala sauce in which the peaches sit so prettily; and the whole things simply exudes ‘summer’. Like I said, utterly delicious! (It also keeps in the fridge very well, so can be indulged in over a number of days if there are only two of you enjoying it!)

Serves 6

What you need…

1 x shallow baking dish

6 firm ripe peaches

40g caster sugar

275ml Marsala wine

2 x cinnamon sticks

1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways

1 rounded teaspoon arrowroot

for the cream

4 rounded tablespoons mascarpone

4 rounded tablespoons fromage frais

A few drops of vanilla extract

1 dessertspoon caster sugar

What to do…

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

First of all, you need to relieve the peaches of their skins and there’s a really easy way to do it. Halve the peaches and remove their stones. Pop two halves into a heatproof bowl and pour over boiling water. Don your marigolds and after 30 seconds, remove one of the halves from the water and just slip off it’s skin – it will come straight off – dead easy. Do the same to the second half. Then, repeat the process with the remaining peach halves, two at a time, using freshly boiled water for each set of two halves (it won’t work so well if the water has cooled slightly). That done, the rest is a delight to do!

Place the peach halves into your baking dish, rounded side down. In a jug, mix together the Marsala and sugar and then pour over the peaches. Wodge in the cinnamon sticks and vanilla pod halves and pop in the oven for 35 minutes.

Remove from the oven and, using a ladle, transfer the Marsala ‘sauce’ to a small saucepan, discarding the vanilla pod halves and cinnamon sticks. Mix the arrowroot with a little cold water and then add it to the saucepan, whisking it in over a gentle heat until the sauce has slightly thickened.

Pour the sauce back over the peaches and set aside to cool. Cover with cling film and pop in the fridge over night to allow the flavours to fully develop.

To make the ‘cream’, use an electric handheld whisk to beat together all of the ingredients and serve in a pretty bowl or jug.

Ideally, enjoy this lovely little dessert on a balmy summer’s evening with friends.

Inspired by…

Delia Smith

How easy…

Very easy: a simply delicious dish, all round. And, you prepare it the day before you want it which is always a bonus in my book!

 

 

Never Fail Raspberry Soufflé

Ooooooooh, you’re going to love these! So, so light with cloud-like fluffiness and just bursting with raspberry flavour, these soufflés are simply heavenly! When I saw the ‘never fail’ element of the recipe name, I was a little skeptical but they really are so very easy to make and quite spectacular on the enjoyment front!

Serves 4

What you need…

for the purée

200g fresh raspberries

30g sugar

3g cornflour

25ml water

for the soufflé

4 ramekins

A little butter

4 egg whites

100g caster sugar, plus extra for preparing the ramekins and dusting

What to do…

Blend the raspberries to a purée and then pass through a sieve to remove the pips.

Place the purée in a pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat.

In the meantime, in another saucepan, tip in the sugar and half the water. Bring to the boil and cook until the sugar starts to caramelise, turning a light golden brown. Quickly remove from the heat and tip into purée, whisking it in. If the caramelised sugar starts to set (mine did) just pop the saucepan back onto a moderate heat and whisk the purée until the caramel melts again and is evenly incorporated.

Using a fork, mix the cornflour into the remaining water and then add to the purée, whisking it in.

Leave the purée to cool. You can make the purée the day before you need it, covering it with cling film and keeping it in the fridge if you like.

Just before you’re ready to indulge in these little pots of gorgeousness, preheat your oven to 180° / 350°f / gas 4. Liberally butter four ovenproof ramekins and then sprinkle some caster sugar all over the butter, tipping out the excess. Pop the ramekins into the freezer.

Whisk together the eggs whites and caster sugar until they are stiff and shiny.

Tip one third of the egg whites into your cold raspberry purée and whisk in, creating a smooth paste. Using a spatula, gently fold in the remaining egg whites so they are evenly incorporated.

Spoon the mixture into the ramekins up to the top. Bang them down on your work surface to release air bubbles. Using a palette knife, scrape the excess off the top of each ramekin and wipe a little butter around the rim of each pot (to prevent the soufflé from sticking). Dust with a little caster sugar.

Pop the ramekins onto a baking tray and slip them into the oven, baking for 8 minutes. Watch them rise: other than the eating them, this is the best bit!

Serve immediately – dip in your spoon and indulge in a lovely pink cloud of sheer heaven – the fresh raspberry flavours excite the taste buds whilst the soufflé gently evaporates over your tongue, all the while you’re dipping your spoon in for the next mouthful!

Inspired by…

Adam Handling

How easy…

The caramelising of the sugar can be a little tricky but if you keep your eye on it, shouldn’t be a problem. Other than that, it’s really easy and fast, once the purée has been made. I love the fact that you can do that bit the day before: the rest is dead easy.

 

Just Yummy Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is just such an easy recipe: great to do with the little ones or for them (if you’re willing to share). The cookies are everything they should be: sweet, buttery and with plenty of chocolate going on: who could resist?!

Makes 18 or so

What you need…

2 x baking sheets, lined with Bake O Glide or parchment paper

150g unsalted butter, room temperature

80g soft light brown sugar

80g granulated sugar

A pinch of sea salt

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

250g plain flour

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

100g dark chocolate chips

100g milk chocolate chips

What to do…

Using a standalone electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugars, salt and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined. Chuck in the egg and beat some more until incorporated.

Sift in the flour and bicarbonate of soda and mix in well. Then, tip in the chocolate chips and fold them into the mixture evenly (we can’t have cookies deprived of their chocolate!)

Roll the dough into a long log – about 5cms diametre – wrap in cling film and pop into the fridge for 3 hours.

Preheat your oven to 170°c / 325°f/ gas 3½.

Remove from the fridge and slice the log into 1cm pieces. Shape the slices into balls and pop onto the baking sheets, leaving plenty of space between each one for spreading. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.

Remove from the oven but leave on the baking sheets for a minute or two whilst they firm up and then transfer to a cooling rack, popping one in your mouth just to check that they taste as good as they smell. Maybe have another just to be doubly sure…. When cool, serve on a pretty plate and watch them be demolished!

Inspired by…

Nathan Outlaw

How easy…

Rather too easy: I can see me knocking these up on a regular basis!

Terrine of Summer Fruits

 

A lovely, light, really, really summery dessert that is packed with the season’s bounty, all of which can be bought locally. Stunning to look at and fabulously tasty, this dessert also makes you feel slightly virtuous – it is stacked with fruit after all. Just yummy! Going back for another slice now…

Serves 8 – 10

What you need…

 1 x 900g loaf tin

425ml sparkling rosé wine

2 x 11g sachets gelatine granules

50g caster sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

685g mixed summer fruits, e.g. strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, redcurrants

What to do…

Prepare the fruit, washing it, hulling the strawberries and maybe cutting them in half/quarters if they are especially large.

In a small saucepan, warm half the rosé over a moderate heat until it begins to simmer. Using a balloon whisk, mix in the gelatine and sugar. Once both are dissolved, mix in the remaining rosé and lime juice. Pour into a jug and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, arrange the fruit in the loaf tin, making sure that the ‘prettiest’ is on the bottom layer – this will be on the top when the terrine is turned out.

Pour half the rosé mixture over the fruit, cover with cling film and then fit something heavy and flat over the top (another loaf tin would be ideal) onto which rest a couple of 400ml cans of tomatoes or something similar to weigh down the fruit. Pop in the fridge and leave for 1 hour.

Warm up the remaining rosé mixture so that it’s runny again (10 – 20 seconds ins a microwave or back on the hob), remove the cling film and pour the rosé liquid over the terrine, re-cover with cling film and pop back in the fridge over night. Return weighty cans and spare loaf tin to their homes.

When you are ready to serve, dip the loaf tin into hot water for a minute or so to loosen the jelly from the edges. Invert the terrine out onto a pretty serving place. If it doesn’t come out immediately, either run a chef’s blow torch around the outside of tin whilst it is inverted on the plate or cover with a very hot damp towel. Be patient – it will come out. I’ve also taken to gently knocking the sides with a steak hammer for final persuasion. It’s very gratifying when it plops out onto the plate!

Cut into slices and serve with double cream, crème fraiche or Greek yogurt – it’s absolutely gorgeous and just exudes all that is fabulous about a good British summertime!

Terrine of Summer Fruits close up wInspired by…

Delia Smith

How easy…

Really easy

 

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