Puddings and Cakes

Fabulous Fridge Cake

Definitely one to do with little people, this is absolute child’s play to make and frankly, is waaaaaaay more fabulous than I could possibly have imagined! Seriously naughty and very moreish – one to put on the ‘regular’ list – just do it!

Serves 6 – 8

What you need…

1 x loaf tin

50g dark chocolate

50g milk chocolate

100g butter

2 tablespoons golden syrup

150g digestive biscuits

25g mini marshmallows

15g Rice Krispies

What to do…

Melt the chocolate, butter and syrup together in a heatproof bowl over a steamer in a saucepan of simmering water.

Pop the digestive biscuits in a self-seal plastic bag and bash them into rough rubble with a rolling pin (small children love this bit!)

Line a loaf tin with cling film, leaving plenty hanging over the sides.

Tip the digestive biscuit rubble into the melted chocolate mixture and then add in the mini marshmallows and Rice Krispies. Mix together until they are evenly coated with chocolate .

Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and use a spatula to press it down. Pop into the fridge for a few hours.

Cut into lovely hard slices of heaven – honestly, it is ridiculously awesome.

Tips…

If you don’t fancy marshmallows (although they are lovely) replace them with raisins or soured cherries.

I am reliably informed (by Ben) that a splash of Baileys Irish Cream liqueur adds a very well received grown up dimension to this already wonderful cake.

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner

How easy…

Child’s Play – literally!

 

Favourite Chocolate Brownies

I seem to be making these gorgeous, gooey-in-the-middle, rich and sumptuous brownies on an almost weekly basis (on demand!) and across a variety of geographical locations: they are adored and indulged in across all age groups and might be faintly addictive. Anyway, the recipe has already been blogged, ‘Sumptuous Chocolate Brownies’, but I thought a second mention might be appropriate and I’ve also updated the picture which originally had Christmas decorations in. Instead, we now have chief cookie and cake bakers as well as expert bowl and spatula lickers, Sophia and Georgia! Try this recipe – you won’t look back!

American-Style Buttermilk Pancakes

Shrove Tuesday is coming and I decided this year to take a departure from the traditional pancake batter and instead tried this American-style pancake recipe and it was sooooo worth it! In our indulgent taste test (in the name of blog research) we tried both savoury pancakes with smoked salmon and a dill sauce followed by pancakes with caramelised bananas and either chocolate or caramel spread. Wow!!!!! (John’s first five words) Fluffy and light, smooth and indulgent, I’m afraid the days of traditional pancake batter may well be behind me, these are absolutely terrific and feel like an utter treat.

Makes 6 – 8 pancakes, depending on how big you like them

What you need for the buttermilk pancakes…

150g plain flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

1 tablespoon caster sugar

Pinch of salt

2 large, happy eggs, separated

284ml carton buttermilk

Knob of butter for frying

What you need for the smoked salmon and dill sauce topping…

1 large, happy egg yolk

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 dessertspoon caster sugar

Pinch of salt

150ml rapeseed oil

Small bunch dill, finely chopped

Juice of ½ lemon

Smoked salmon (100g tops 3 pancakes)

A few dill sprigs, lemon wedges and creamed horseradish to serve

What you need for the caramelised banana and chocolate topping…

Per pancake:

Sprinkling of caster sugar

1 banana, sliced thickly,

Either Dulce de Leche (milk caramel spread) or chocolate spread or Nutella

Dollop of ice cream to serve (we had brandy ice cream – recipe already blogged – which was incredible but vanilla would work well)

What to do…

Make the Dill sauce up to three days in advance. This means that you can just enjoy the pancake-making on the day that you want to eat them.

Put the egg yolk, vinegar, mustard, sugar and salt into a mixing bowl and use your handheld electric whisk to beat until a foam is beginning to form. Very slowly pour in the oil, whisking the whole time, to create a thickened Hollandaise-style sauce. Stir in the dill and lemon juice, cover with cling film and pop in the fridge until needed.

For each warmed pancake, dollop on around a dessertspoon of dill sauce and spread over the pancake. Arrange or plop on as much smoked salmon as you fancy and garnish with a few dill sprigs. Serve with lemon wedges and a little creamed horseradish on the side: wow and awesome!!!!

And to the pancakes! In a medium mixing bowl, use your handheld electric whisk to beat the egg whites until they form soft floppy peaks. Set aside. Unplug the whisk and rinse.

Mix the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the egg yolks and mix in. Slowly pour in the buttermilk, using your handheld electric whisk to mix it in thoroughly, forming a thick, smooth batter.

Add one tablespoon egg whites to the batter and use a balloon whisk to incorporate. Add the rest of the egg whites in two batches, again using the balloon whisk to gently incorporate, creating a light, fluffy batter.

Heat a large frying pan over a moderate heat and lightly grease with butter. For each pancake, drop in a ladleful of batter, smoothing it down a little with the back of the ladle to create pancakes that are about 10cm wide and 1cm thick. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes on each side and then keep warm in a low oven whilst you cook the rest. Add your choice of topping and either slowly indulge or demolish with relish!!!! (We tried the first approach but quickly made the transition to the second!)

For the caramelised banana and chocolate topping. Warm a small frying pan over a moderate heat with the sprinkling of caster sugar covering the bottom of the pan. As soon as the sugar has melted, chuck in the banana slices. As soon as the melted sugar turns red, flip the bananas and cook for a couple of minutes until they are well caramelised. Don’t muck about with them as they’ll break up. Remove from the heat and set aside whilst you spread your choice of chocolate or caramel spread over your warmed pancake. Tip the banana slices over the top and then dollop on your ice cream. Roll your eyes in the ecstasy that is this pancake – guard it against jealous housemates!

American Pancakes with Smoked Salmon & Dill Sauce w

Tip…

This quantity of the dill sauce is enough for 6 – 8 pancakes, but if like us, you only make up half the batter for savoury ones, the sauce will keep in the fridge for 3 days and is brilliant served with grilled or roasted fish.

Inspired by…

Delicious magazine

How easy…

Really easy and very worth it. I’d definitely make the dill sauce in advance though as there was a lot of washing up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate, Coffee and Vanilla Layer Cake

A lovely flavoursome cake that combines some of my favourite flavours: vanilla, caramel and coffee, all wrapped up in chocolate – a lovely treat although no occasion is particularly required….just an appetite for a big slice of naughty cake!

Serves 8 – 10

What you need…

3 x 20cm sandwich tins, buttered and lined with baking parchment

225g butter, softened

225g golden caster sugar

225g plain flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

4 large, happy eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon coffee extract

2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

1 teaspoon sea salt

200g dulce de leche (milk caramel spread)

Chocolate stars and edible gold dust (optional, to decorate)

for the glaze

200g dark chocolate, chunked

30g butter

2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted

4 tablespoons coffee extract (or VERY strong coffee)

6 tablespoons golden syrup

What to do…

Heat the oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4.

Into your food processor, tip the butter and golden caster sugar and whizz until pale and fluffy. Whilst still whizzing, gradually pour in the egg, thoroughly incorporating each bit before adding any more. Tip in the flour and baking powder and whizz until thoroughly mixed.

Remove one third of the mixture and put it into another bowl. To this third, add the coffee extract and mix in thoroughly. Pour into one of the sandwich tins. Set aside.

Into the remaining mixture in the food processor, add the vanilla bean paste and whizz until mixed in. Divide between the two remaining sandwich tins. Bang all three tins on your work surface to level the mixture in each and then pop all three in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to cool.

For the glaze, put all the ingredients into a heatproof bowl and set in a steamer over a pan of simmering water. Leave until melted, then whisk together and set aside to cool.

Mix the salt into the dulce de leche. Put a vanilla sponge onto your cake stand and spread half the dulce de leche over the top. Place the coffee sponge over the top and spread the remaining dulce de leche over the top before adding the remaining vanilla sponge.

Once the glaze is cool but not fully set, use a small palette knife to cover the top and sides. The glaze is quite forgiving so you can take your time with this, doing it little by little, going around the a few times to build it up.

Allow it to set until tacky and then sprinkle over the gold dust, before decorating with stars.

Cut nice, big fat slices and enjoy…..

Inspired by…

Not sure: the recipe was clipped from a magazine

How easy…

Very easy for a pretty spectacular shape even if, like me, you’re not good at the presentation aspects of the recipe

Spiced Up Valentine’s Cookies

These were originally called Christmas biscuits, but I didn’t have a chance to make them in December (too many recipes, not enough days) so, on the basis that I believe the spirit of Christmas should last the whole year through, I used the same recipe but swapped the star-shaped cookie cutter for heart-shaped ones and made these little cookies to spice up your Valentine’s Day! They’re light, have a delightful crunch and the warming ‘festive’ spice is quite lovely.

What you need…

1-2 baking trays, buttered or lined with Bake O Glide

250g unsalted butter, softened and chunked

140g caster sugar

1 egg yolk

300g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

1 teaspoon all-spice

1 teaspoon ground ginger

for the icing

100g icing sugar

1 tablespoon warm water

Food colouring (optional)

What to do…

Tip the butter and sugar into your food processor whizz until pale and creamy. Add the egg yolk and whizz to evenly incorporate. Tip in the flour and spices and whizz to form a dough ball. Wrap up in cling film and pop in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 5mm thick. Use cookie cutters of your choice (stars for Christmas, hearts for Valentine’s, etc) and cut out as many as you can, re-rolling the trimmings as needed.

Place on your baking trays and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 180°c / 350f / gas 4.

Pop the cookies into the oven and bake for 12 minutes.

Let them firm up a bit on the baking trays before carefully transferring them to wire racks to cool.

Meanwhile, make the icing. Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl and then add the warm water gradually, mixing it in until the icing coats the back of a spoon. Add a few drops of food colouring , if using. Spoon into an icing bag fitted with a small writing tube/nozzle (mine was size 1.5). Decorate as you like (I’m not very good at this bit so my decoration was quite basic). Share them around immediately – they only keep for 1 – 2 days but…that shouldn’t be a problem! Enjoy!

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner

How easy…

Very easy. My only issue was not reading the bit about resting the dough in the fridge for 2 hours (it ended up going in overnight but the cookies were absolutely fine!)

Instant Chocolate Orange Mousse

This mousse recipe is absolutely sinful! Take time dipping your spoon through the light, cloud-like cream topping into the smooth, velvety chocolate before delighting your tastebuds with this luxuriantly sensuous mousse that is both rich and silky but still light…with a gentle, naughty little kick of Cointreau. Simply divine and no effort to make!

Serves 6

What you need…

150g dark chocolate (70%+ cocoa solids) chunked

175g condensed milk

500ml double cream

Pinch of salt

30ml Cointreau orange liqueur

30ml freshly squeezed orange juice

Finely grated orange zest or chocolate sprinkles to decorate

What to do…

Gently melt the chocolate in a steamer over a pan of simmering water, stirring and scraping down the sides into the middle towards the end. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, pour in the condensed milk and half the double cream. Add the salt and used a handheld electric whisk to beat together until thickened – but only just – when you lift the whisks, they should leave a trail of ribbons.

Stir about one third of the whisked cream into the slightly cooled melted chocolate and use a balloon whisk to gently fold it in. Then, in either 2 or 3 batches, fold the chocolate mixture back into the large bowl of cream and condensed milk, again using the balloon whisk. Then, gently stir in the Cointreau and lastly, the orange juice.

Divide the mousse between 6 pretty glasses or tea cups, leaving a gap of about 1cm from the top. Pop in the fridge for 1 hour…..or 24 – they keep well providing you can keep others in your household from helping themselves.

Just before you want to serve them, use your handheld electric whisk to beat up the remaining cream until thickened but still floppy and then plop a large spoonful on top of each chocolate mousse. Decorate with orange zest or chocolate sprinkles. Serve to a raptuous table of diners

Inspired by…

Nigella Lawson

How easy…

Done in a flash, next to no effort and absolutely gorgeous!

 

 

 

Orange and Strawberry Cupcakes with Toasted Meringue Cloud Topping

OK, so I should tell you from the outset that in the original recipe, the ingredients included zest of lemon and lemon curd; however in my cupboard there was only orange curd so the recipe was adjusted to accommodate. And I must say, these little darlings are absolutely delightful – light fluffy sponges topped with the zesty orange curd and a cloud of sweet meringue – heavenly!

Makes 12

What you need…

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

1 x icing bag and large nozzle(optional)

1 x chef’s blow torch (optional)

100g butter, chunked

150g self-raising flour

150g caster sugar

3 tablespoons milk

2 happy eggs

Zest of 1 orange, finely grated

7g freeze-dried strawberries (available from all major supermarkets)

for the meringue topping

100g-ish orange curd (roughly half a standard jar)

2 happy egg whites

100g caster sugar

What to do…

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

To the sponges: tip all the ingredients except the freeze-dried strawberries into your food processor and whizz until light and fluffy. Fold in three-quarters of the strawberries and then divide the mixture evenly between the 12 cupcake cases. Pop them into the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until risen, springy and golden.

Remove from the oven and decant from the muffin tin onto a wire rack to cool.

When cold, using a sharp little knife to cut out a circle off the top, roughly the size of a £2 coin from each cake, scooping out a walnut-size piece of sponge to leave a hole. Use a teaspoon to fill each hole with the orange curd – right to the top of the cake.

Use a handheld electric whisk to beat the egg whites until they are stiff, then gradually add the sugar, whisking the whole time, to create a lovely stiff, glossy meringue.

Either use a spoon to plop the meringue on the top of each cake or gently spoon the mixture into an icing bag and pipe the meringue on the top in as creative and majestic a structure as you fancy. Again, a choice: either take a chef’s blow torch to them, toasting the meringue so that it has lovely golden crispy edges or pop them under the grill to achieve the same affect – don’t walk off – they only take a minute! Sprinkle with the remaining freeze-dried strawberry morsels and serve – a heavenly delight!

Tips…

If you want to try the original recipe, swap the zest of 1 orange for the zest of 1 lemon and replace orange curd with lemon curd.

Haven’t tried it yet, but I did wonder about adding chocolate chip cookies to the sponge rather than the fruit zest and replacing the orange curd with chocolate spread and tipping chocolate sprinkles over the meringue – will do this the next time the grandkids are up and let you know!

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

Really very easy and I love that you can make the sponges in advance, finishing them off with their glorious meringue topping just before you want to eat them.

 

 

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!