Puddings and Cakes

White Chocolate Mousse with Black Pepper and Fresh Mint

I’m not normally a fan of white chocolate but this recipe intrigued me – a dessert with black pepper? What a fabulous surprise it was! It’s spectacularly simple and fast to make: within 20 minutes, you have a truly fantastic dessert: the rich creaminess of the white chocolate is perfectly contrasted by the black pepper and the fresh mint – honestly I just had to keep digging in to marvel at the simplicity and deliciousness of this great and rather elegant dessert! Don’t hesitate – give it a go!

Serves 6

What you need…

280g good quality white chocolate, chunked

300ml double cream

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

12 fresh mint leaves (6 finely sliced and 6 reserved for decoration)

What to do…

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl in a steamer over a pan of simmering water to melt (for some reason it takes waaaay longer than milk or dark chocolate but it WILL melt). Once melted, stand the bowl on a cold surface to cool down slightly (I stuck mine in the metal sink).

Using a handheld electric whisk, beat the cream until it forms soft peaks.

Put 2 tablespoons of the cream into the melted chocolate and use the whisk to gently beat them together. Use a spatula to scrape every last bit of the melted chocolate/cream mixture into the remaining double cream together with the pepper and mint and then, using a balloon whisk, very gently fold in the ingredients so they are thoroughly mixed together.

Spoon the mixture into 6 pretty glasses (tall Champagne flutes are particularly elegant but you need long handled spoons to go with them!).

Pop in the fridge for just 20 minutes or overnight if you’re preparing ahead. Just before serving, decorate with the remaining mint leaves. Serve to a dubious group whose faces will light up with joy! Gorgeous!

Inspired by…

Gino D’Acampo

How easy…

Couldn’t be any easier and you can prepare ahead!

Drunken Hot Toddy Sponge Pudding

These lovely, easy little puddings are elevated to new heights with the introduction of the whisky-based drunken sauce. Perfect for a cold winter’s evening or to conclude a Burns Night Supper.

Serves 4

What you need…

4 x 180ml pudding moulds, liberally buttered

for the sauce

150 golden caster sugar

150ml double cream

150ml whisky

for the sponge puddings

115g salted butter, softened

75g golden caster sugar

40g runny honey

Zest of 1 large lemon

2 eggs, beaten

115g self-raising flour

What to do…

First to the sauce: place the sugar in a large saucepan (copper if you have it) over a high heat. Melt the sugar, swirling the pan rather than stirring the sugar to ensure the sugar caramelises evenly. Once the sugar has turned into a wonderful golden syrup, pour in the cream slowly, stirring it in as you go: the mixture will become volcanic – spitting in a frenzied fashion – don’t be alarmed: just lean back and keep stirring. Then add the whisky and stir until the sauce starts to bubble – simmer for a couple of minutes to cook off the alcohol (otherwise your sauce will blow your head off and be quite bitter if you’ve used cheap whisky!) Set aside.

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

Into your food processor tip the butter and sugar and whizz until pale and fluffy. Add the honey and lemon zest and whizz again until evenly mixed. Whilst still whizzing gradually pour in the eggs, incorporating each bit before adding any more. Tip in the flour and whizz to mix.

Into each pudding mould pour 2 tablespoons of the whisky sauce. Then divide the pudding batter evenly between the four moulds. Pop onto a baking tray and bake for 25 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out dry.

Invert the little lovelies out into bowls or largish plates so that much sauce can be indulged in! If you fancy being totally indulgent, serve with double cream as well as the whisky sauce. It’s certainly the best hot toddy I’ve ever had!!!

Inspired by…

John Whaite

How Easy…

The sauce requires steady nerves whilst you’re judging when it is sufficiently converted from sugar to syrup and then again when it performs its volcanic eruptions, but actually it’s all quite straight forward.

 

 

Rice Pudding with Cardamom and Rosewater

Rice pudding is a bit like Marmite in that you either love it or hate it. For some (John) it conjures up awful memories of boarding school; for me, I can remember as a child having it warmed up from the can after a Sunday roast with a big dollop of jam in the middle of my portion and later, as a teenager, eating it cold from the can as a treat!!!!!! Anyway, whatever your association, this recipe will be very far removed. Its beautifully creamy texture is contrasted by the sweet, exotic, middle-eastern flavour created from the infusion of cardamom seeds and rosewater: it’s like nothing I’ve ever tasted before and quite delicious – ideal to round off a spicy dinner.

Serves 6

What you need…

115g pudding rice

580ml cold water

300ml double cream

300ml full fat milk

4 green cardamom pods

80g caster sugar

2 teaspoons rosewater

20g unsalted pistachio nuts, finely chopped

What to do…

Put the rice in a sieve and rinse under cold running water. Transfer the rice to a medium-sized saucepan and pour in the cold water. Pop the lid on and bring to the boil over a moderate heat.

Reduce the temperature to low, remove the lid and simmer until nearly all the water has been absorbed, stirring frequently to prevent the rice sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Stir in the cream and milk. Bring the mixture back to the boil and then reduce the heat to low again. Simmer gently for 25 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally until the rice pudding has thickened to the texture of sloppy porridge. (I did the ironing during this part, stirring every time each item of clothing was finished!)

Use the side of a knife blade to gently press down on the cardamom pods to crack them open. Extract the seeds and crush them – a pestle and mortar are ideal for this. Add the sugar and cardamom seeds to the rice pudding and cooking for a further 2 minutes, stirring the whole time.

Remove from the heat and stir in the rosewater. Divide between 6 bowls and sprinkle the pistachios – absolutely delightful!

Inspired by…

Ruth Watson

How easy…

It cooks itself really, whilst you get on and do other things!

Sticky Toffee Roulade

Ooooooooh, you DEFINITELY need to give this one a go! It’s utterly luscious, totally naughty, rich in flavour, deep in colour and I’m sure that it whispers, “Have some more, you know you want to!” And of course, there’s the necessary pre-cleaning of pan used to cook the sauce – I have a lovely little spatula that goes direct from saucepan to mouth……This would make a lovely dessert for Sunday lunch but equally, we had it on a rainy Thursday afternoon! You seriously don’t need an excuse!

What you need…

1 x 35 x 25cm Swiss roll tin, buttered and lined with parchment paper

150g dates, roughly chopped

225ml water

4 eggs, separated

75g soft dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

100g plain flour

Caster sugar for sprinkling

for the naughty sauce

200ml double cream

200g unsalted butter

200g soft dark brown sugar

50ml brandy

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 230°c / 450°f / gas 8.

Put the dates and water into a saucepan over a moderate heat and bring to the boil.

Meanwhile, tip the egg yolks and sugar into your food processor and whizz until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside. In a large bowl, use an electric handheld whisk to beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Set aside.

Tip the dates and water into your blender and whizz to create a fine purée.

Back to the main food processor, add the vanilla extract to the egg and sugar mixture whilst the motor is running; then the bicarbonate of soda and puréed dates, whizzing until evenly mixed together. Mix in the flour and then tip in one third of the egg whites and whizz until just mixed in (maybe 10 seconds). Then tip the whole lot into the remaining egg whites and use a balloon whisk to gently fold the eggs and mixture in together.

Tip the lot into your prepared tin. Bang the tin on the worktop to make sure the mixture is evenly spread and then pop in the oven for 12 minutes until the sponge is risen and golden.

Whilst the cake bakes, take the saucepan used to boil the dates and water and give it a quick wipe out with some kitchen roll before adding in all the sauce ingredients. Set over a moderate heat and gently bring to the boil, using your balloon whisk again to beat until smooth. Simmer for a few minutes to thicken.

Lay a damp tea towel on your worktop and on top, add a large piece of parchment paper (bigger than the Swiss roll tin). When the cake comes out of the oven, invert it onto the parchment paper – this is quite tricky but the tea towel will at least keep the parchment paper in place whilst you do this. Gently peel off the tin-lining paper. Then spread one third of the sauce over the sponge, making sure that you take it right to the edges. Then gently roll up the sponge from a short side to create a lovely, luscious fat roll.

Transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle with caster sugar. Pour your naughty sauce into a serving jug.

To serve, fend off enthusiastic tasters and cut the roulade into nice chunky slices, pouring over the wicked sauce……and indulge, enjoy, savour…cut another slice – simply divine!

Serving suggestion…

I don’t actually think it needs anything else at all but you could serve it with brandy ice cream (already blogged). I tried it both ways and they were both delicious.

Inspired by…

James Martin

How easy…

Really easy, very quick but you do create quite a bit of a mess using both the main processor and blender, electric whisk, balloon whisk, large bowl and saucepan in the prep. That said, it is absolutely worth it!

 

Right Royal Christmas Cake Icing

The final finishing touches to my Christmas cake, I love rough royal icing: it’s so forgiving of any patchy marzipan application and also of my total lack of ability to cake-decorate beautifully. My approach, as you can see, is instead to invest in pretty pre-made decorations (I forgot to buy ribbon though!)

Makes enough for a rough snow scene for a 20cm round cake

What you need…

500g icing sugar

3 egg whites from happy eggs

1 teaspoon glycerine

What to do…

Dump the icing sugar and egg whites into a large bowl and whisk together until stiff peaks form, using an electric handheld whisk. Add the glycerine and whisk until evenly incorporated.

Apply to your cake using palette knife, spreading the icing evenly around the sides and across the top. Use the back of a teaspoon to ‘whip up’ snowy peaks!

Wodge in your chosen figurines or holly leaves and pop some ribbon around the side, securing with a pin at the back of the cake. Sit back and admire your handiwork! Your Christmas cake is now complete! A glass of fizz would go down nicely now! Merry Christmas!

Inspired by…

Delia Smith

How easy…

As about as simple as it gets!

 

 

Christmas Chocolate Log

This cake is truly luscious – spectacularly rich and chocolatey, totally naughty and perfect for Christmas. Inspired by Mary Berry, her cake is of course beautifully presented as well. Mine however…..well, I had a few obstacles to overcome with my icing bag and nozzle; this cake, as delicious as it is, is evidence as to why I’m booked onto a cake decorating course in the New Year! Never judge a book by its cover or indeed a cake by its icing – another hit from Mary!!!

What you need…

 1 x 33cm x 23cm Swiss roll tin, lightly buttered and lined with greaseproof paper

4 large, happy eggs

100g caster sugar

65g self-raising flour

40g cocoa powder

for the chocolate icing and topping

300g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), chunked

450ml double cream

4 tablespoons apricot jam, melted

Icing sugar for dusting

What to do…

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

For the sponge, use an electric handheld whisk to beat together the eggs and sugar until the mixture is really pale, light and frothy. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and use a metal spoon to cut and fold into the mixture, until they are both fully incorporated.

Tip the mixture into your prepared tin and pop in the oven for 10 minutes or until the sides are just shrinking away from the edge of the tin.

Place a piece of greaseproof paper bigger than the Swiss roll on your work surface. Invert the cake onto the paper and gently peel off the bottom lining of greaseproof paper.

Make a score mark 2.5cm in along one of the longer edges. Roll up (from the scored edge) using the paper, rolling with the paper inside. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in the cream in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally to evenly mix in the melted chocolate. Cool and then pop into the fridge to firm up.

Uncurl the cold Swiss roll and discard the paper. Spread one third of the chocolate icing over the surface and then re-roll tightly. Cut a quarter of the cake off from one end on the diagonal. Transfer the large piece of the cake to a serving plate and then angle the cut end to the side of the larger cake to look like a branch. Cover the cake with melted apricot jam.

Now it gets really interesting. Mary put the chocolate icing into an icing bag fitted with a star nozzle and beautifully piped thick lines along the cake, covering it completely to look like bark. When I attempted this however, the nozzle flew off the end of the bag and the icing dumped onto the cake, looking somewhat like poo!!!!! I used my fingers to spread the chocolate all over the cake and then used a fork to try and recreate the bark effect….luckily the cake tastes amazing, which is just as well as it’s appearance leaves rather a lot to be desired!!!

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

The cake was easy but I struggled with the decoration – I think that might just be me though!!!

 

Christmas Cake Marzipan

 

So, I made the Christmas cake one month ago and have duly been feeding it brandy. Onto stage 2: the marzipan layer to ‘seal’ the cake before the decorative icing goes on. Until last year, I always made my Christmas cake but then bought ready-made marzipan. I also wasn’t a great fan of the stuff. However, last year I made Simnel cake and followed Lisa Faulkner’s recipe for the marzipan: complete convert! I now LOVE marzipan (possibly slightly addicted) and also I cannot believe how ridiculously easy it is to make such wonderful stuff. Lightly fragranced and flavoured with almond and vanilla essences, beautifully emphasising the natural gorgeousness of the moist ground almonds, marzipan is a wonder all by itself. Take just a few minutes (that really is all it takes) to make your own: you won’t look back!

Makes enough for the 20cm round Christmas cake already blogged and a large handful left over for general mucking about with.

What you need…

500g ground almonds

250g caster sugar

250g icing sugar

2 eggs

½ teaspoon almond essence

½ teaspoon vanilla essence

1 teaspoon lemon juice

What to do…

Chuck all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and use and handheld electric whisk to beat everything together. When marble-sized balls have been formed, discard the whisk and use your hands to knead the marzipan together into a dough.

Roll the dough out to your personal desired thickness (I do mine just a little thicker than a pound coin but I know some people prefer more and there’s certainly enough marzipan here to accommodate a greater appetite!)

Measure the height of your cake and cut a long strip of marzipan wide enough to wrap around the cake and deep enough to go from top to bottom.

Brush apricot jam all over the side of the cake and stick your marzipan strip to it.

Likewise with the top. Use the original cake tin that you cooked the Christmas cake in as a template to cut out a circle. Brush the top of the cake with the jam and pop on your marzipan circle. Use your fingertips to blend in the sides and top of the marzipan covering.

Pop in a cake tin and leave to dry out for a couple of days before having fun with icing (blog to follow).

Inspired by…

The cake was Delia’s and the marzipan is inspired by Lisa Faulkner.

How easy…

Just a quick mix of ingredients: couldn’t be easier!

Spiced Hot Toddy Cake

This is such a lovely, festive cake. The ground almonds and the syrup absorbed by the sponge ensure that it’s gorgeously moist and the spices are so Christmassy. Then, you get the icing, which delivers a deliciously intoxicating whisky kick! I’d never seen a recipe like this before but we’ll definitely be having this one again – yummy!

Serves 12

What you need…

1 x 2.4 litre bundt/savarin baking tin, liberally buttered

250g unsalted butter, softened

250g soft light brown sugar

5 happy eggs

150g ground almonds

100g self raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Seeds from 5 cardamom pods, crushed

1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated

Pinch ground cloves

for the syrup

100ml whisky

30ml runny honey

Juice 1 lemon

for the whisky icing

120g icing sugar

40ml whisky

What to do…

Heat your oven to 180° / 350°f / gas 4.

Into your food processor tip the butter and sugar and whizz until light and fluffy. Meanwhile, use a balloon whisk to gently beat your eggs together in a jug.

Gradually pour the eggs into the mixture, ensure that each bit is fully incorporated into the mixture before you pour any more in.

Tip in the almonds, flour, baking powder and spices and whizz to mix evenly.

Pour into your prepared tin and bake for 40 – 50 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin and then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the syrup, in a small bowl use your balloon whisk again to mix together the whisky, honey and lemon. Use a skewer to poke holes all of the cake and then drizzle over the syrup until it is all absorbed.

To make the whisky icing, use another bowl and mix together the icing sugar and whisky to form a smooth, slightly runny icing and then drizzle it all over the cake. Leave to harden slightly and then tuck in with a nice cup of tea, a wee dram or just all by itself: behold a little (or large) slice of Christmas spice – it’s Christmas – have another slice!

 Inspired by…

Delicious magazine

 How easy…

Very little effort for a very lovely outcome

Brandy Ice Cream

Do you think it’s possible to adopt Mary Berry? Even just for a little while: not only is she a national treasure but she’s a heroine in this kitchen. This no-churn (I don’t churn – too much of a faff) brandy ice cream is stupendously easy and spectacularly gorgeous! I made the first lot with the intention of indulging in it over Christmas with Christmas Pudding and Mince Pies. Not a chance – it’ll be gone waaaaaay before then. Another batch has been scheduled – it’s that good! Eat it with festive treats, as part of an Affogato (dollop of ice cream topped with an espresso shot and a little dribble of brandy in this case) or just straight from the tub with a spoon: all to yourself!

 Serves 8 supposedly!

What you need…

 4 happy eggs, separated

100g caster sugar

300ml double cream

2 tablespoons brandy

What to do…

Using your handheld electric whisk, beat the egg whites until light and stiff and then, whilst still beating at high speed, gradually add the sugar, a little a time, until the mixture is a thick and glossy meringue. Gently whisk together the egg yolks and then fold them into the meringue.

Whisk the cream and brandy together until thick. Fold into the meringue.

Freeze in a flat plastic box overnight. Feel free to lick out the preparation bowl but for some reason, it’s not nearly as tasty as the final ice cream – don’t know why, just sayin’.

Share with friends or indulge all by yourself – very yummy!

What to check…

This recipe contains raw eggs, not suitable for all.

Tip…

You can freeze it for up to 1 month but once you know it’s there…that’s most unlikely!

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

Spectacularly!

 

Spruced Up Christmas Spice Cake

What a Christmas gift this is!!!! Such a lovely sponge: light and gently spiced with tantalising flavours and scents so very evocative of Christmas. An absolute doddle to do, this will appear on our festive menu more than once I can assure you! Confession time: the wonderful snow-topped mountain appearance cannot be attributed to my baking skills but rather the moulding of this very special ‘Holiday Fir’ baking tin. If you can’t get hold of an exact replica, a bundt tin will do the job nicely although perhaps not quite so festive in appearance. Either way: give the cake a go – its gorgeous!

Serves around 12

What you need…

1 x baking sheet

1 x ‘Holiday Fir’ or 2.5-litre bundt tin, thoroughly buttered

225g butter, softened

300g caster sugar

6 eggs

350g plain flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

¼ teaspoon cloves, ground

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

250g plain yogurt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

A good dousing of icing-sugar for snowy mountaintops!

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4 and pop in your baking sheet.

Tip the butter and caster sugar into your food processor and whizz until pale and fluffy.

Meanwhile, use a balloon whisk to gently beat the eggs together in a jug.

Gradually pour the eggs into the mixture whilst the food processor is still whizzing, incorporating each bit before pouring in the next. Once all the eggs have been added, tip in the flour, spices and bicarbonate of soda. Whizz until thoroughly mixed in. Finally, tip in the yogurt and vanilla extract and whizz again to incorporate.

Tip the mixture into your baking tin and then place in the oven on top of the hot baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Let the cake sit in its tin for 15 minutes then gently ease the edges away from the tin with your fingers. Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Find a gorgeous plate to serve your spruced up Christmas spice cake on and then dust liberally with icing sugar, humming a festive tune whilst gazing at the ‘snow’ settling on the sponge mountain tops – a lovely sight followed by a delicious taste (although it is a shame to cut into this most beautiful of things!)

Inspired by…

Nigella Lawson

How easy…

Just a whizz!