SCRUMPTIOUS PAVLOVA


So, its my gorgeous friend Harri’s birthday today. * HAPPY BIRTHDAY HARRI! * She doesn’t like cake very much so I have made her favourite dessert…pavlova!

Pavlova is also one of my favourite puddings. Unfortunately, I never feel sick from it so I can just eat and eat and eat! This is my fool proof recipe:

Serves 12-14 (depending on how greedy you are!)

INGREDIENTS

For the meringue:
6 medium free-range egg whites
300g/11oz caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white wine vinegar

For the topping:
1 litre double/heavy cream
Lots of berries! I have chosen strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.
Icing sugar/cake glitter

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°/Gas 2. Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment. Look out your ingredients for your meringue.

Remember, the meringue should ideally be made the day before. Unless you have time for it to completely cool after being in the oven.

Place the egg whites into a clean bowl and whisk until soft peaks are formed when the whisk is removed from the bowl.


Then whisk in the sugar, one tablespoonful at a time, until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed.


The mixture should look smooth and shiny.


Add the cornflour and vinegar to the egg white mix and fold in lightly with a metal spoon.


By now it should look lovely and silky.


Spoon the meringue onto the baking parchment, making a circle and creating a crater by making the sides a little higher than the middle. Remember that the meringue will swell in the oven so don’t spread it out to close to the edge of the baking tray. (like I did!)


Place into the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 120°C/250°F/Gas ½. Cook for an hour, then turn off the oven and leave in the oven while it cools completely. I usually do this at night and leave it in the oven overnight.

Remove the meringue base from the oven. Don’t be alarmed if some of the outer casing of meringue has collapsed a bit and cracked. This is perfectly normal. Also, once the cream and fruit is added to the top, it will crack anyway. They can cover up any cracks. A pavlova isn’t supposed to be neat anyway.


Carefully remove the baking parchment.

When you are ready to assemble the pavlova, whisk 400ml of the cream until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed.


I like to mix some of the raspberries through the cream so when I’m folding them through I break them up a bit by pressing them against the side of the bowl. This creates a lovely ripple effect. Spoon it onto the meringue base…


Whisk the remaining 600ml of the cream and spoon it onto the raspberry cream mix.


Top with the berries…


Dust with icing sugar…


If its for a special occasion I love dusting my pavlova with some cake glitter.


If you want, you can place some raspberries and icing sugar into a food processor and blend to a smooth sauce. Or alternatively, push them through a sieve if you don’t have a food processor. Using a spoon, drizzle raspberry sauce over the top.

This makes a big pavlova, suitable for a party. If you are serving to approx. 6 people, just half the ingredients.

Serve and enjoy!


Tip: I sometimes prefer this the day after assembling when its a bit more squidgy.

AFTERNOON TEA AT THE PARK LANE HILTON


My lovely friend Sal went to the Hilton on Park Lane for afternoon tea with her boyfriend Blair last weekend. And what a feast they had! Her photos looked amazing so I thought I’d post them in case anyone was thinking of going for afternoon tea anytime soon.

They started with sandwiches served with a choice of strawberry, mango or peach bellinis. Sal had peach, Blair had mango.


Egg and cress / Forman’s smoked salmon and horseradish / Cucumber with cream cheese and chives / Honey roast ham and Pommery mustard / Prawn mayonnaise and baby gem lettuce

Then came the desserts!


Freshly baked chocolate chip scones, still warm from the oven! Served with a praline chocolate spread and clotted cream with strawberry jam.

Pastries…


Battenberg / Sacher torte / Raspberry cupcake / Red velvet cupcake.


Next came miniature fancies…served on a thick chocolate plate!


White chocolate and cherry cheesecake
Red velvet and orange tuile
Milk chocolate cremeux
Pistachio macaroon with Manjari chocolate filling
Iced shortbread butterfly orange and chocolate profiterole
Lemon and raspberry marshmallow cone with Meringue lolly

Sal and Blair took the chocolate plate home and are still eating it!

How amazing does this look??


This all came with a selection of Harney & Sons loose leaf teas. Sal and Blair drank Earl Grey with blue flowers petals.


Chocolate Afternoon Tea - £ 29.50 per person
Royal Afternoon Tea (as above with a glass of Champagne) - £ 37.50

You can see all the details on their website: http://bit.ly/3klOa

(Source: afternoontea.co.uk)

MINI BANOFFEE PIES

Click here for the recipe - http://aspoonful-of-sugar.tumblr.com/post/21644109252/banoffee-pie

BANOFFEE PIE


Banoffee Pie is my friend Denise’s favourite dessert and seeing as it was her birthday this weekend, I thought I’d make one and bring it into the office on Friday so we could start the celebrations early. This is a great dessert to make as it is so easy, and reasonably quick. It’s essentially just a case of assembling the ingredients.

Ingredients
300g/10oz biscuits - you can use Digestive/Graham Crackers or Hob Nobs
100g/3.5oz butter, melted
1 397g/14oz tin condensed milk or ready made caramel / dulce de leche
3 large bananas (or 4 small ones)
500ml double/heavy cream

For decoration, have some chocolate to hand for grating or melting over the top.

You will need a 23cm/9inch spring form cake tin.

There are two ways of making this. The first one is to make the caramel yourself which is done by immersing an unopened tin of condensed milk in water for 2 and a half hours, always making sure the tin is constantly submerged in the water. (this is very important or else the can explodes!)


That was the traditional way of making the caramel but luckily, the lovely people at Nestlé have brought out a tin of ready-made caramel….


If you use this, it really is a very quick dessert to make.

If you’re making the caramel from condensed milk, get this started early. You can even make it days, if not weeks in advance. It will keep in an airtight container. Start by placing a can in a pan of hot water.


The tin must be completely covered with the water at all times so make sure you keep an eye on it and top up the water if necessary. Keep the water simmering the whole time.

Carefully remove the tin from the hot water and leave on the side to cool.

For this recipe, I have decided to use Hob Nobs for a change.


Crush the biscuits in a food processor until they resemble fine crumbs. If you don’t have a food processor you can just put them in a bag and bash them with something heavy.


Tip the breadcrumbs into a bowl, add the melted butter and stir to combine.


Using a spoon, press the mixture into the base of your tin then place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.


When cool, spread the cooled caramel, or the ready-made caramel over the biscuit base.


Then arrange the sliced bananas on top of the caramel.


Whip the cream and then spread or spoon over the bananas.


I personally prefer to spoon it in dollops over the top so it doesn’t look too neat.


Top by drizzling cooled melted chocolate over the top of the cream. I melted 50g of Green & Blacks 34% milk chocolate over the top since Denise prefers milk chocolate. If I was making it for myself, I would have topped it with 70% chocolate.


You can of course decorate it whichever way you like. You can grate chocolate over the top, or top with chocolate curls or dust with cocoa powder. Anything you like!

In this case, not only did I melt chocolate over the top, I also decided to grate some more chocolate over the top. I decided to grate a little dark chocolate, some white chocolate and some milk chocolate.


Place in the fridge to chill for approx an hour. Take it out of the fridge 30 minutes before you want to serve. The beauty of a spring form tin is that you can loosen it and lift it off without it damaging the pie.

And voila! You have a quick and easy dessert that tastes sweet and delicious!


If you haven’t made one of these before and you have a sweet tooth, please give it a go. If you buy the caramel ready made, it really is the quickest, easiest and tastiest dessert to make. And I promise your friends will love you for it!

HESTON’S LEMON TART


When I was trying to decide what dessert to make for my friends Louise and Tony last weekend, I couldn’t make up my mind between something rich and sweet or something clean and light. I started off my thinking I might do individual melting-middle chocolate fondants, then I thought I might do sticky toffee pudding. Then I thought I’d keep it easy and do a banoffee pie. Banoffee pies are so easy, its just a case of assembling ingredients. But then I remembered the Waitrose advert for Heston Blumenthal’s Lemon Tart. It looked so simple, I thought I’d try it out myself. Luckily for me, I then found out that lemon is Tony’s favourite flavour and he was delighted I was making a lemon tart.

Heston says: "The set of this tart depends on precision. If you have a digital probe, whisk the tart filling until it reaches 75°C. It should set perfectly. If you don’t have a digital probe, follow the instructions carefully and the tart will be equally delicious. It is also important that you use a really good quality, all-butter shortcrust pastry for the best results."

Ingredients
375g All Butter Shortcrust Pastry
4 unwaxed Lemons (juice of 4, finely grated zest of 3)
170g unsalted butter, cubed
220g golden caster sugar
5 medium eggs,
1 medium egg yolk, beaten

You will also need some baking beans and a 23cm tart case.

Method
Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350F, gas mark 4.

Roll the pastry between 2 sheets of clingfilm to a thickness of 2mm.


It should be 10cm wider than the tart case.


Peel off the clingfilm, roll the pastry around a rolling pin, lift it over a 23cm tart case and unroll it so the edges hang over the sides.


Press the pastry to fit the tin leaving the edges overhanging to trim after baking (this will ensure the tart case is unaffected by the pastry shrinking). Prick with a fork and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.


Take a sheet of parchment larger than the tart tin, scrunch it up and lay over the pastry (this will make it easier to fit into the edges of the tart). Place baking beans on top and bake for 20 minutes.


Remove the parchment and beans and return the tart to the oven for 10 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Now, I have come to the conclusion that shortcrust pastry is NOT my friend! I always seem to have problems with it. It could be because my oven is shockingly bad, or it could be that I just handle it all wrong, I don’t know. For some reason, my pastry puffed up!


And that was with a whole tub of baking beans weighing it down! I have no idea why. I did ask a baker what he thinks happened and he suggested that perhaps I’d rolled the pastry out too thick and there weren’t enough beans but I definitely rolled it out to 2mm as the recipe suggests. Maybe I should have put more beans in but then I would have thought it wouldn’t cook through properly. Anyway, whatever went wrong with it, I’ll probably never know. But I think I might have to admit defeat with shortcrust pastry and just buy ready-made tart cases in the future instead!

Once cooled, run a knife around the tin edge to remove the excess pastry. Carefully lift the tart case out of the tin and place on a serving plate.

While the case is cooling, zest 3 lemons and reserve, then roll all 4 of the lemons on a work surface with the palm of your hand (to release more juice).


Juice them and measure out 150ml.


Put the butter and sugar into a pan with the juice, zest and eggs and place the pan over a medium heat.


Stir continuously for 10-15 minutes (do not allow to simmer) until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.


Increase the heat to medium-high and stir until it begins to simmer; simmer for 5 seconds only, then remove from the heat.


Pass the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl. Cover with clingfilm to avoid a skin forming, and place the bowl in the fridge to cool for 30 minutes.


When cold, pour the lemon filling into the centre of the tart allowing the lemon curd to flow evenly to the edges.


Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour or until set, before serving with crème fraîche and fresh raspberries.


This is a beautiful dessert to serve after a meal. It’s light and fresh tasting; tart, yet sweet, and the filling is beautifully smooth which works in contrast with the crunchy pastry. I do love my sickly sweet desserts but sometimes you don’t want anything too heavy after a big meal.


You can see Heston’s advert here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAQ8hT4ZGMo You will notice that his pastry case does of course turn out perfectly! Grrrrr…

Desserts at The Landmark Hotel, London.

www.landmarklondon.co.uk

DELICIOUS MINI CHEESECAKES


My beautiful friend Kate and former colleague recently returned from 9 months of travelling around Australia and Asia. When she said she was going to come up to the office to visit us, I decided to make her favourite dessert…cheesecake. Unfortunately all the girls in my office are trying to be good and are off cakes for a few weeks. So instead of making one big cheesecake, the majority of which I knew would end up in my tummy (!), I decided to make some mini cheesecakes. That way, the few girls in the office who wanted them could have them and nothing would go to waste.

From looking at a selection of cheesecake recipes I have, I worked out the best way to make enough mixture for 15 mini cheesecakes, using muffin cases.

For the base
150g Digestive biscuits or Graham Crackers
75g butter, melted
1 tbsp caster sugar

For the filling
375g cream cheese, at room temperature
112g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
150ml double/heavy cream
30ml lemon juice
Splash of vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan)/350°F and line a muffin tin with muffin cases.

Finely crush biscuits in a food processor.


Add the melted butter to the biscuit crumbs and process until well combined.


Divide biscuit mixture evenly among cases (about one firmly packed tablespoon of biscuit mixture per case).


Firmly press mixture down with the back of a teaspoon until smooth. I used a pastry case presser.


Place the bases in the fridge for about 30 minutes while you make the filling.

Beat the cream cheese for approximately 2 minutes until its light and smooth.


Then add the sugar and beat until smooth…


Then add the eggs and beat until well combined… (this photo only shows one, but there should be 2 eggs).


Add the double/heavy cream and the lemon juice and beat…


Then add a splash of vanilla extract and stir through the mixture…


Divide the mixture evenly among the cases. I probably spooned in about 2 generous tablespoons into each. It really depends on how high you want them.


Bake the cheesecakes for 25 minutes.

* I initially tried them for 20 minutes but they were too wobbly. I put them back in the oven for another 10 minutes which was a total of 30 minutes but they came out a bit cracked so I knew I had over-baked them…


Cooking them for 25 minutes worked perfectly for me. They came out nice and smooth on top…


Cool in the tin for 30 minutes then remove the cheesecakes and refrigerate.


To serve, peel off the muffin cases and top with some raspberries then dust with sifted icing sugar.


I decided to make a soured cream topping for some of the cheesecakes, just so there was a bit of an option for everyone.

All I did was mix 142ml soured cream with 1 tablespoon of golden caster sugar and a splash of lemon juice. Probably about 2 teaspoons. Then I spooned it over a few of the cheesecakes, spreading it to the edges. This amount made enough to cover 6 of the cheesecakes.


The cheesecakes are ready to serve when they are cold and set. They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.


These really are delicious. They taste rich and creamy, yet they’re very light and not sickly.

Enjoy!

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE


On Monday I posted that I’d recently bought The Skinny French Kitchen, a cookery book by Harry Eastwood. In it, she takes on the challenge of marrying her love of classic French cookery with a desire to maintain her waistline. Every recipe has been slimmed down to a fraction of its usual calorie count, without robbing it of flavour.


I had friends round for dinner at the weekend so I decided to make her Mousse au Chocolat for pudding. I just wanted something easy and quick to make, which would satisfy my chocolate cravings, and my God, this did it!

Using 85% chocolate means that you’re stretching the chocolate flavour without adding to the quantity of chocolate used. The full chocolate hit in this mousse means that you don’t need to add cream, butter or egg yolks, all of which pack on extra calories.

Please try out this recipe if you can. I was amazed by how good is tasted and my friends would never have believed it was low in calories if I hadn’t told them. It is very moreish and because it tastes so light, you don’t feel like you’re eating anything, hence you can get through quite a lot of it! And yes, I do realise this defeats the point of having a calorie-light pudding!

The book says this recipe serves 6 people. I’d probably say 4 people though. I halved the ingredients as there were only 3 of us eating. I thought there would be enough for 3 helpings but instead, I found there was only enough for 2. But maybe that’s my portion sizes!

Ingredients
100g dark chocolate (85% cocoa solids), broken into squares, plus a little extra for garnish
4 egg whites
50g sugar
pinch salt

Method
Heat the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl over simmering water, making sure that the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water, until the chocolate has completely melted. Set aside to cool.


Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl until stiff peak stage.


Using a spatula, beat one-third of the egg-white mixture into the cool chocolate mixture. You don’t have to be delicate here: it’s just a case of introducing the egg whites to the chocolate roughly.


Next, delicately fold the second third of the egg white into the bubbly chocolate mixture until it is well incorporated and is getting yet more bubbly and light.


Finally, when all the white air pockets have gone, fold the remaining egg white delicately into the chocolate mixture until the mixture is a uniform texture and colour.

(If you want to, you can add a little flavouring to the mixture at the stage when you’re folding the last of the egg white into the chocolate. You could add peppermint extract (¼ tsp is enough), or Grand Marnier (1 tsp is good) for a little bit of boozy orange flavouring. You could then use a garnish of mint leaves or grated orange zest.)


Carefully pour or ladle the mixture into six pretty glasses and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.


If you wish, you can shave a little dark chocolate over the mousses using a potato peeler, for decoration before serving.

This pudding really was melt-in-the-mouth delicious. It was light, fluffy and gave you a proper hit of chocolate. I think it needs the 85% chocolate in order to do this.

Enjoy!

You can buy The Skinny French Kitchen on Amazon - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Skinny-French-Kitchen-Harry-Eastwood/dp/0593066464

FABULOUS APPLE PIE


Last week when I was watching the Fabulous Baker Brothers on Channel 4 (http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-fabulous-baker-brothers), one of the brothers made an apple pie. It looked so delicious that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I used to make apple pies all the time when I was a student, but I haven’t made one in years so I decided to try it out.

I usually buy pre-rolled pastry, just for ease, but I made this from scratch, just as the recipe suggests. I’m not sure I would bother next time though. It was a real faff. It’s fine if you’ve got lots of spare time and you have a nice big kitchen but my kitchen is tiny and I have very little surface space. I had to roll out the pastry on my living room coffee table. This is how I got on…

Ingredients

For the sweet pastry
225g plain flour
100g icing sugar
110g cold butter, cubed
4 egg yolks
Pinch of salt
Splash of milk
1 vanilla pod, seeds only

For the filling
100g butter
1 large cinnamon stick
6 Cox apples, peeled, cored and chopped
6 Bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped
100g soft brown sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Granulated sugar, to sprinkle

You will need a 24cm pie dish for this recipe.

Method

To make the pastry, rub together the flour, icing sugar and cold butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.


Then add the egg yolks, salt, milk and the vanilla seeds.


Mix it until it comes together.


(I must say, at this point, I found that the mix was too ‘wet’ and it wasn’t coming away from the sides of the bowl. I ended up having to add a handful more plain flour and a handful more icing sugar, just to ‘dry’ it out a bit. I’m not sure if I did something wrong or if the recipe is slightly wrong.)


Then wrap in cling-film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before using.


Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/gas mark 5. In a large pan on a medium heat melt the butter until it starts to foam.


Add the cinnamon stick, apples, sugar and the zest and juice of the lemon.


Cook the apples on a low heat until they have softened a little but still have a good bit of bite, giving them a good stir to break some of them up a little.


Allow to cool.


Cut the pastry in half.


Then roll the first half out on a floured surface until it is about the thickness of a £1 coin (3mm). Make sure to dust the top of the pastry to stop it sticking to your rolling pin. (If you have any problems, check out my notes below. You are not alone! If you do it in one go, well done!)


Then use one sheet to line the bottom of a pie dish.


Fill with your cooled apple mixture, removing the cinnamon stick.


Then roll out the other half of the pastry and lay the other sheet over the top.


Use your fingers to crimp and pinch around the outside to seal the pie then trim off any excess pastry. You can use some of the excess pastry to decorate the top of the pie.


Sprinkle sugar over the top.


Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.


Serve warm with some cold cream or ice cream.

NOTE: Even though I used a standard 24cm pie dish, I found that there wasn’t quite enough pastry to cover the base and the top of the pie at a thickness of a £1 coin (3mm). The first time I rolled it out, it stuck to the surface, even though I had floured the surface first. So I had to roll it into a ball and start again. I put extra flour on the surface and tried rolling again. But I couldn’t get it to the size I needed to cover the pie dish without rolling it really thin. I rolled it into a ball and started again. This time I couldn’t seem to roll it into a circle. It ended up driving me mad! It took me 6 go’s to get it right. And even then, it looked pretty messy! I had to patch up a few holes with some leftover pastry.

I had the same trouble when I had to roll the second half of the pastry for the top of the pie. I was watching the Fabulous Baker Brothers online while I was making it, and I was nearly crying in frustration watching Henry Herbert effortlessly rolling his perfect pastry in one go into a perfect circle at the perfect even width, and drape it over his perfect pie. And all in a matter of seconds. Now I know he’s a professional but my goodness, it does make you feel like an idiot when you can’t do something that looks so easy on TV!

I would definitely make this pie again but I’m not sure I would make the pastry from scratch. It’s just too easy to buy ready-rolled pastry that is ready to roll straight onto your pie dish. It cuts the preparation time down to about 15 minutes, as all you need to do is gently cook the apples in butter and sugar. I know that’s not really the point, and we should all be making pies from scratch in an ideal world, but not everyone has the time to do this.

If I did find myself at a loose end one weekend and fancied making the pastry from scratch, I think I would increase the amounts so I would have a bit more to play with and I wouldn’t have as much difficulty trying to create a perfect circle at an even 3mm width. The amounts in the recipe above literally give you exactly what you need with no room for mistakes.

Best of luck!

APPLE & PLUM CRUMBLE

The weather has started to turn in the last week. The trees are orange and brown, the wind is blowing and rain has started lashing down. At times like this, all I want is comfort food. And there is nothing more comforting than a crumble.

I was home in Scotland last weekend and while London baked in the sun, Scotland was being lashed with rain. My mum and I were cooking a roast dinner for the family and decided to finish it off with an apple crumble. Then we realised we had some plums in the fruit bowl so decided to throw those in too.


We kind of threw this together - a handful of something here, a handful of something else there but I think these ingredients should be pretty accurate.

Ingredients

For the crumble:
200g/7oz flour
75g/3oz cold butter, cubed
40g/1.4 oz caster sugar
110g/4oz demerara sugar
100g/3.5oz whole almonds, skin on
100g/3.5oz rolled oats

For the filling:
2 large cooking apples
5 plums
2 tbs brown sugar
2 level teaspoons ground cinnamon

Method

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
Mix the sugar, flour and butter together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Add chopped almonds and oats.


Peel and core the apples and cut into thickish slices. Sprinkle some sugar onto the base of your dish then toss the apple slices in.


Then add some plums, also cut into thick slices.


Sprinkle some caster sugar and ground cinammon in between layers.


Now simply sprinkle the crumble mixture all over the apples, spreading it right up to the edges of the dish, and, using the flat of your hands, press it down quite firmly all over; the more tightly it is packed together the crisper it will be.


Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until the crumble is browned and the fruit mixture bubbling.


Leave it to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving, then serve it warm with custard or pouring cream.

THE BEST SALTED CARAMEL ICE CREAM EVER!

I am not a big fan of ice cream, I never have been. Not sure why. I just never found it particularly enjoyable to eat. Maybe its because I have sensitive teeth and it hurts, maybe its because you get brain freeze when you eat it too quickly. Its just never been something that excited me much.

I do like Ben & Jerry’s however, but I think that’s more to do with the ‘bits’ inside rather than the ice cream. My perfect friend would be one that loves the ice cream and not the bits. Marriage made in heaven! My favourite Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is Caramel Chew Chew - caramel ice cream with swirls of caramel and chocolate covered caramel pieces. Incredible.

So anyway, on Friday night, I had 8 friends over for dinner and last week I was trying to think of a pudding I could make that would be easy, tasty and could be made in advance so I didn’t need to spend the whole night in the kitchen. I decided to make a batch of chocolate brownies and serve them warm, topped with a scoop of caramel ice cream. But, never one to make life easy for myself, I decided to make the ice cream instead of buying it.

I searched for recipes for salted caramel ice cream and came across this one which looked the least complicated. The recipe below serves 4 people. I doubled the quantities for my dinner party. I suggest making more rather than less of this. IT TASTES AMAZING!! I’m not blowing my own horn here, I just followed the recipe. But anything that mixes sugar and cream together is always going to taste great.

PLEASE try out this recipe if you get a chance. I don’t have an ice cream maker so it took a bit more effort but my goodness, it was worth it! If you do have an ice cream maker, you have absolutely no excuse not to make it. It really is so easy and it really does taste so delicious. Its creamy, in taste and texture and the hint of salt cuts through the sweetness. Yummmmm!!

Ingredients

6floz/170g caster sugar
8floz/225ml double cream
5floz/150ml semi-skimmed milk
4 egg yolks
½ tsp Maldon sea salt

Method

Place a pan on the stove to heat. Once hot, put 5oz/140g of the caster sugar into the pan.


Heat, shaking the pan occasionally until the sugar melts to a good caramel colour.


Add the double cream and bring back to the boil.


Then finally add the milk.


Meanwhile, in a separate bowl beat the egg yolks and remaining caster sugar until pale and mousse-like (this is called a sabayon).


Pour the hot caramel on to the sabayon and whisk well, then sieve and chill it.


Add the salt to the chilled mixture and churn in an ice cream machine.

Alternatively, if you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can churn it by hand.

To do this, pour the ice cream mixture into a deep bowl made of plastic, stainless steel or something durable in the freezer.


After 45 minutes, open the door and check it. As it starts to freeze near the edges, remove it from the freezer and stir it vigorously with a spatula or whisk. Really beat it up and break up any frozen sections. Return to freezer.


Continue to check the mixture every 20-30 minutes, stirring vigorously as it’s freezing.

If you have one, you can use a hand-held mixer for best results.

Keep checking periodically and stirring while it freezes (by hand or with the electric mixer) until the ice cream is frozen. It will likely take 3-4 hours to be ready.


This ice cream actually melts quite quickly so don’t leave it out too long before scooping it.

It tasted AMAZING when served with the hot chocolate brownie. PLEASE give this a go if you can.

PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE BROWNIES PT.2

Following the previous brownie recipe, I decided to try a different one, this time adding cocoa powder in the hope they would be a bit more gooey. It worked!

Ingredients

250g (9oz) unsalted butter, softened
200g (7oz) dark chocolate (over 70% cocoa content)
50g (2oz) cocoa powder, sifted
75g (3oz) plain flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
350g (12oz) caster sugar
4 large eggs

Method

Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan oven), Gas 4. Line a 23cm (9inch) square tin with baking paper.

Melt butter and chocolate over simmering water and mix till smooth.


In a large separate bowl mix the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and sugar then add the chocolate mixture to this.


Beat the eggs and mix in thoroughly till you have a silky consistency


Add chocolate chips and peanut butter chips.


Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and put the tin in the oven.


Bake for around 25 minutes until well risen and firm to the touch. Don’t overbake!


Allow them to cool then cut into squares.


The smell coming from the kitchen while these were cooking was absolutely divine. I had to try one as soon as they were out of the oven and they were indeed, delicious and very, very gooey.

Even better…they were still gooey and fudgey the next day. They taste amazing when heated and served with extra thick double cream. Mmmmmmm……

RASPBERRY SWIRL CHEESECAKE

250g digestive biscuits (Graham crackers)
100g unsalted butter, melted
200g fresh or frozen raspberries, thawed
3tbsp granulated sugar
500g cream cheese
185g caster sugar
2 whole eggs
2 eggs, separated
100ml sour cream
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp finely grated lemon zest
2tsp lemon juice


1. Grease a 25cm (10in) springform cake tin and line the base with baking paper. Pulse the biscuits in a food processor until crushed. Add the butter and process until it just clumps together. Press the crumb mixture into the base of the tin and two-thirds of the way up the sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.


2. Purée the berries and sugar in a food processor or blender and then pass through a sieve. Simmer in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar for about 6 minutes or until thickened slightly. Set aside to cool.


3. Heat the oven to 170ºC (gas mark 3). Beat the cream cheese and caster sugar until its creamy and well combined. Add the whole eggs, egg yolks, sour cream, vanilla extract, lemon zest and lemon juice. Beat for 2-3 minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy.


4. Using a clean whisk and a clean bowl, beat the egg whites for 3-4 minutes, or until firm but soft peaks form. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold the egg whites into the cream cheese mixture.


5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cheesecake base and smooth the top. Drizzle with the blueberry purée and then make swirl patterns with the blade of a knife.


6. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a pale golden colour and set in the centre. Switch off the oven and leave the cheesecake inside for 2 hours with the door ajar - this helps prevent it cracking. When cool, refrigerate for 6-12 hours before serving.


Now, as you can see, it didn’t quite turn out the way a cheesecake ideally should! I last made this in a conventional oven and it turned out beautifully. Yesterday I made it in a fan oven. I turned the temperature down to 160 degrees but I think it needed to be lower.

However odd it looked though, it tasted delicious. My pregnant sister in law managed 5 slices of it in one sitting!

Next time I make it, I’m going to turn the fan oven down to about 145/150 degrees so it doesn’t look quite so brown on top.

NIGELLA’S DEVILS FOOD CAKE


This cake looks amazing! Check out the video at the end of the recipe to see Nigella in action.

INGREDIENTS

for the cake:
50g best-quality cocoa powder, sifted
100g dark muscovado sugar
250ml boiling water
125g soft unsalted butter, plus some for greasing
150g caster sugar
225g plain flour
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs

for the frosting:
125ml water
30g dark muscovado sugar
175g unsalted butter cubed
300g best-quality dark chocolate finely chopped


METHOD

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and line the bottoms of 2 x 20cm sandwich tins with baking parchment and butter the sides.

Put the cocoa and 100g dark muscovado sugar into a bowl with a bit of space to spare, and pour in the boiling water. Whisk to mix, then set aside.

Cream the butter and caster sugar together, beating well until pale and fluffy.

Then stir the flour, baking powder and bicarb together in another bowl, and set aside for a moment.

Add the vanilla extract into the creamed butter and sugar – mixing all the while – then drop in 1 egg, quickly followed by a scoopful of flour mixture, then the second egg.

Keep mixing and incorporate the rest of the dried ingredients for the cake, then finally mix and fold in the cocoa mixture, scraping its bowl well with a spatula.

Divide this chocolatey batter between the 2 prepared tins and put in the oven for about 30 minutes.

Take the tins out and leave them on a wire rack for 5–10 minutes, before turning the cakes out to cool.

But as soon as the cakes are in the oven, get started on your frosting: put the water, 30g muscovado sugar and 175g butter in a pan over a low heat to melt.

When this mixture begins to bubble, take the pan off the heat and add the chopped chocolate, swirling the pan so that all the chocolate is hit with heat, then leave for a minute to melt before whisking till smooth and glossy.

Leave for about 1 hour, whisking now and again – when you’re passing the pan – by which time the cakes will be cooled, and ready for the frosting.

Set one of the cooled cakes, with its top side down, on a cake stand or plate, and spread with about a third of the frosting, then top that with the second cake, regular way up, and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides, swirling away with your spatula.

Enjoy!


WATCH THE VIDEO HERE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfVvV-Wr0Ho