Coffee ice cream, crisp choux pastry & hot chocolate caramel
Coffee ice cream will always make me think of the Caribbean.
I’m aware of how horribly pretentious that sounds, but bear with me. I’m pretty sure there’s a blog-worthy story hidden somewhere within that statement.
When I was about eleven, my parents took us on holiday to the Cayman Islands. My Dad spent part of his childhood living in Jamaica and still has some family on the islands. This holiday was the perfect opportunity to introduce us to a few distant relatives, as well as a wonderful excuse for a serious dose of sun, sea and sand.
Flaky pastry pies filled with chocolate ganache & pear caramel
Without sounding like a complete scrooge, I’ve never been the biggest fan of Christmas baking.
My Granny would always serve a traditional homemade pudding on Christmas day, within the fruity, rich folds of which there would be hidden a well-worn thrupenny bit. With a market value of a pound for whichever lucky person discovered it in their slice (hopefully without breaking any teeth), it was the subject of much excitement amongst the children of our family, but never enough to convince me to accept a whole slice of this strange, slightly stodgy dessert. Continue reading
Dense, fudgy brownie topped with salty caramel ice cream
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
After a predictable (but not un-justifiable) moan about the arrival of mince pies on the supermarket shelves in October, the nights are finally drawing in, the John Lewis ad is on TV and I’m slowly starting to get into the festive spirit. Have you seen how many blogs out there are groaning with amazing Thanksgiving recipes (happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers by the way)? Because wonderful as it all sounds, turkey and all the trimmings equate to one thing only in my excited British eyes: Christmas. Continue reading
Individual nutty sponge cakes smothered in salted caramel sauce
How to turn a cupcake into something just that little bit more special.
- Bake it straight into a non-stick muffin pan for contrast between the outer edge and fluffy middle
- Cram it full of crunchy pecans, fiery ginger, a pinch of cinnamon and a splash of cider
- Smother it in sticky caramel sauce, lifted with a generous sprinkle of sea salt
- Give it the dignity of calling it a little cake, not a cupcake
Cupcakes rich with dates & walnuts with a sticky caramel core
When was the last time you saw something on your plate and said it looked ‘too good to eat’?
Usually intended as the highest form of praise, this kind of comment makes me ever so slightly uneasy. As a bit of a baking perfectionist, I like my food to look beautiful, but it should also be inviting – I want people to see a dish and immediately lick their lips, grab their spoon and dive right in. That’s not to say I don’t have a lot of time for food that looks like an incredible work of art, but it really has to deliver on taste too. Continue reading
Dark chocolate & peanut sponges layered with caramel
Back in 2006, Anthony Worrall Thompson‘s ‘Snickers Pie‘ was labelled ‘one of the unhealthiest recipes ever published’ by the Food Commission. At a whopping 1,250 calories per serving and with no less than five super sweet chocolate bars chopped into it, this puff pastry crusted creation was cited as an example of chefs’ irresponsibility with regards to calorie control and our increasingly unhealthy attitude to what constitutes home baking.
Fellow food blogger Jamie Schler recently wrote this interesting piece for the Huffington Post bemoaning the wave of boxed brownie mix, chopped up chocolate bars and cans of frosting masquerading on blogs around the world as home baked treats. While I’m not averse to the odd Oreo crumbled into a blondie or topping a cupcake with fizzy cola bottles, I absolutely agree with her that baking should be about creating things from scratch. It may not make them calorie-free, but using real butter, free range eggs, seasonal fresh fruit and natural colourings in all my recipes is important to me and feels a world away from the oleaginous Worrall-Thompson’s sickly sweet idea of dessert. Continue reading
Vanilla, chocolate & caramel cake layered with salty caramel
A word of warning before you embark on reading this post: if you’ve given up chocolate and sweet stuff for Lent, you might want to look away now. Recent events suggest I have a tendency to lead people into temptation . . .
Last week I met one of my school friends for dinner after work. There were supposed to be three of us, but my other friend ended up stuck in the office in the way, it seems, that only lawyers can, unsure whether more paperwork might come through from the States and if she’d be there until ten at night or two in the morning. Despite her absence, the evening was lovely: wine was opened, stories shared, gossip caught up on and plenty of good food consumed. After two very virtuous fish-based mains, we both decided to go for the most indulgent-sounding dessert on the menu: chocolate brownie with homemade hazelnut ice cream. Continue reading
Sweet, salty and scrumptious - homemade Snickers ice cream bars
For some reason, people are always incredibly impressed when you present them with home made ice cream. I’ve found the same with bread, and think perhaps it’s the fact that both are such readily available convenience foods that inspires such enthusiasm and awe in guests when you bother to produce them yourself.
Anyone who owns an ice cream maker will know that this is not a complicated process. We’re no longer required to fetch snow down from the mountains or patiently shave away at blocks of ice as our ancestors once did. The ability to make a basic custard is useful, but not an absolute necessity – as shown by the simple ‘Philadelphia-style’ recipe below – and then it’s just a question of mixing and matching flavours to your taste. Nonetheless, there is still something very magical about ice cream, the way it undergoes a texture transformation as it freezes, turning a nondescript liquid into a cool, creamy, velvety delight which melts in your mouth. Continue reading
Creamy crème brûlée with a shiny crackly crust
Dessert, for me, is all about decadence. While a main meal tends to provide sustenance in addition to satisfaction, pudding provides an opportunity for sheer indulgence. You’re hardly going to get your five-a-day from chocolate, cream, sugar or any combination thereof, but that’s not really the point. What it fails to do for your health, dessert doubles for your happiness.
And what could be more decadent than a dessert that requires its very own bit of kitchen equipment? Continue reading
Millionaire's shortbread with flakes of sea salt
A couple of weeks ago one of our friends managed to shatter his leg jumping off a wall.
This weekend just gone we went up to visit, and I wanted to bake something suitably delicious to take his mind off things (this littleloaf isn’t really a bunch of grapes kind of girl). Sugar is a good remedy for trauma – hot sweet tea always seems to be offered up to people in shock – so maybe it was some kind of subconscious association which directed me to this restorative, tooth-itchingly sweet recipe. That, or the fact that the ‘short’ from which ”shortbread’ takes its name has been used to describe a ‘friable, brittle, crumbling texture’ since medieval times . . .