Something of a cheat of a recipe, using handy shortcuts, these gorgeous tarts can be made up very speedily and with total ease, yet they taste as good as any of the high-end tarts you can buy for a small fortune!
Mini almond sponge cakes, with the rich flavour of browned butter and the wonderful bedfellows brought by the blackberry and the apple, these friands are a seriously delicious treat. There is something even more special using blackberries picked from the hedgerows and apples straight from the tree! Continue reading “Blackberry and apple friands”
Who doesn’t love a choux bun or éclair? Crisp pastry, creamy filling and a sticky topping…..such a treat! And they are so simple to make, yet look deceptively difficult.
Sweet, buttery and melt-in-the-mouth, madeleines are a treat for any occasion. I have gone for madeleines that are flavoured with ground pistachios and orange zest.
When it comes to macarons, I have a penchant for fruity ones: the sharpness of a punchy filling with the sweetness of the shell hits the spot for me every time.
Blackcurrant and mint make a truly wonderful combination, and used together here you have a particularly vibrant and refreshing cake. Continue reading “Blackcurrant and mint fondant fancies”
These miniature cakes are my homage to the classic pina colada – my favourite cocktail. Seriously, I never tire of this cocktail! Continue reading “Pina colada fondant fancies”
Raspberries are one of my favourite fruits and I need little excuse to use these in sweet bakes: fresh, dried, curd…..any or all work for me! I was rather late to the blueberry party, though: only really taking to their sweet-acidic flavour in the past year or so, but now I adore them. Continue reading “Blueberry and raspberry macarons”
While baking is one of the most rewarding aspects of cookery, it can, nonetheless, be frustrating – especially when things do not work. Now things not working can occur when trying out a new recipe for the first time, error with the techniques or even when baking a reliable favourite that has never yet failed……..and then it does! Continue reading “The effect of different oven temperatures in baking”
A shop-bought fondant fancy is very much a guilty pleasure of mine, but they are fun to make. And of course when making them you can go for whatever flavour you want, going for flavours that are not sold in the shops! Continue reading “Orange and passionfruit fondant fancies”
If you ever have left-over cake (“why would I?”, you might ask!), or have cake that is starting to go stale, these very easy bites will use up the cake for a delicious sweet treat. Continue reading “Crispy gingerbread cake bites”
This is my take on Millionaire’s Shortbread, but slightly jazzed up: a real excuse for indulgence – but is an excuse ever needed? Continue reading “Salted caramel shortbreads”
These biscuits, which are a cross between brandy snaps and florentines, are incredibly easy and quick to make, with a batch made and ready to eat in under 30 minutes. Continue reading “Cashew nut & cocoa nib snaps”
These are very quick and easy treats: small sweet pastries that are crisp, buttery and wonderfully sticky: quite fabulous served with coffee or tea! Continue reading “Quick & easy Cherry, walnut & maple syrup pastries”
I usually prefer to make mince pies using shortbread dough rather than pastry: it makes them more special than a standard pastry mince pie and it is really no harder to make. Besides, Christmas would not be Christmas without shortbread! And whenever I have made these mince pies, they have gone very quickly. Continue reading “Luxury orange shortbread mince pies with a macaroon topping”
Very much an adult jaffa cake, this version of jaffa cakes uses Pimms as the base for the jelly, along with fresh orange juice, a hint of mint, a touch of lemon and just enough sugar to sweeten it without taking away from the flavour of the Pimms and the fruit. A real taste of summer! Continue reading “Pimms cocktail jaffa cakes”
Melt-in-the-mouth is never more the case than with Viennese biscuits or Viennese whirls or any variation on this classic biscuit. They can be served simply dusted with icing sugar, dipped in chocolate or sandwiched together with jam and a little vanilla buttercream – although they can take any flavour combination within! Continue reading “Cinnamon & orange Viennese biscuits”
Shortbread is the first thing I ever made as a young boy and I love coming back to it, either making a very traditional shortbread (what can beat that?) or a flavoured variation. Continue reading “Simple roasted coffee shortbread – with no rolling out”
I am so excited to share this post for roasted coffee bean butter. Coffee is one of my favourite flavours, almost beating chocolate for me. This butter, which is basically freshly ground coffee beans infused with hot butter, has a very rich, deep coffee flavour that you simply cannot get close to when using either instant coffee or even freshly brewed coffee in a bake. Continue reading “Roasted coffee bean butter: a great ingredient for coffee lovers”
I have such a weakness for chocolate: mass-produced chocolate often hits the spot but the exquisite ones you can buy in artisan chocolate shops are always a treat. Continue reading “Tangy blackcurrant chocolates”
Inspired by a passion fruit pannacotta I had a few months ago, these are very simple fragrant tarts that I made for a friend’s birthday: the tarts have a full-on passion fruit flavour, a kick of rum-soaked peaches and the richness of white chocolate in the background. Continue reading “Passion fruit & peach tarts (lower-fat!)”
I love making use of left-overs and these simple chocolates hit the spot perfectly! Continue reading “Simple raspberry chocolates”
Surely it is time for a full-on revival of these fabulous 1970s dessert trolley staples? Continue reading “Orange & vanilla rum babas”
At the risk of tumbling shamelessly into the world of the melodramatic, I would go so far as saying that these particular macarons are to die for. Continue reading “Smoked salted caramel & bitter chocolate macarons”
If you have never heard of, or eaten Kouign-Amann pastries before, think crisp bites of buttery, caramelised croissant…..wonderful as an occasional treat! Continue reading “Mini ginger Kouign-Amann”
A rocky road is a very guilty pleasure of mine – one of many, admittedly! It is very rich (and rightly so) but moreish. It is also one of the easiest things to make and can be varied in so many ways. Continue reading “Salted caramel pretzel rocky road”
These savoury macarons are my bite-sized version of that treat the list of one of my top food pleasures: smoked salmon on sliced brioche with a thin spreading of caper butter. Continue reading “Savoury macarons: smoked salmon & horseradish”
In this post I have given two recipes: one for the Earl Grey tea scones and another for the raspberry curd. Continue reading “Earl Grey scones with raspberry curd”
While it is always a joy to making more elaborate cakes for friends and family, I love the total simplicity of a drizzle cake: no fuss, tangy, very moreish and so perfect with a cup of tea! And a slice of it eaten on a dreary day instantly evokes summer days for me! Continue reading “Lemon drizzle cake”
I do like to take a humble mince pie to a level that is so much more than what commercially is usually just indifferent pastry with a fairly non-descript filling. So I often vary things a little so that the mince pie is that bit more special. Continue reading “Mince pies with pistachio Viennese biscuit topping”
Although I make macarons frequently, it is a first for me to do a macaron shape that is anything other than circular, so having seen meringue versions of snowmen in a shop recently I felt I had to make some as macarons….well, why not?! Continue reading “Ginger snowmen macarons”
Salted caramel and chocolate éclairs: nothing too extreme flavour-wise, but two flavours that are nonetheless stunning together. A white chocolate crème pâtissière and a little salted caramel make a lovely filling here but you can, of course, use whipped cream. Continue reading “Chocolate & salted caramel éclairs”
A Christmas-inspired baklava that is simple and very tasty. Ok, it doesn’t skimp on the calories but this is, after all, an indulgent treat rather than a staple bake! Continue reading “Spiced cranberry & orange baklava”
I adore a good biscotti, but have never been a fan of the (ridiculously expensive!) ones you can buy in coffee shops and the like that can be little more than an expensive work-out for the jaw! Continue reading “Cranberry, orange & fennel seed biscotti”
is never less than a joy to eat a crisp éclair that is filled with a well-flavoured centre and topped with a sticky icing! While chocolate éclairs should never be turned down, fruity éclairs are delightful to eat. Continue reading “Blackcurrant & raspberry éclairs”
This is a very simple and utterly delicious shortbread biscuits: rich, crisp and buttery with a hint of vanilla and soft pieces of dried apricots. Continue reading “Apricot shortbread”
A challenging but rewarding bake, this is a taste of summer in each mouthful: these macarons are sandwiched together with a Pimms ganache and small pieces of a sweetened cucumber and mint jelly: you really can’t have Pimms without the cucumber! Continue reading “Pimms macarons with Pimms ganache & minted cucumber jelly”
I made a savoury version of these deep-fried choux pastry doughnuts a while ago (recipe here) but this time I felt like going down the sweet route. I always have jars of dried cherries, some macerating in Amaretto and some in other liqueurs, and there is always chocolate to be found around the kitchen(!!), so a chocolate-cherry version was called for. Continue reading “Chouxnuts 2: chocolate & cherry flavour”
I ate a stunning Dacquoise in a pâtisserie in France very recently and I couldn’t wait to put my spin on it when recreating it back home. Crisp toasted hazelnut meringue layers are sandwiched together with a truly melt-in-the-mouth coffee buttercream, and it is topped with a very simple shiny chocolate glaze. Continue reading “Coffee Dacquoise with caramelised hazelnuts”
I was working on a new cake recipe for the Christmas 2015 edition of a magazine, using orange, cranberry and white chocolate as the key flavours. However, I had a fair bit of ganache left over….so macarons were called for! Continue reading “Orange & cranberry macarons”
Cannelés (or canelés!) have somehow escaped my foodie radar; the first time I ate one – a traditional vanilla flavour – was just a few weeks ago, served with an Afternoon Tea. However, I was so taken by them that I couldn’t wait to make a batch, and have since made several batches of differing flavours! Continue reading “Lemongrass & ginger Cannelés”
These are Christmassy truffles, albeit rather loosely, although chocolate truffles are, quite frankly, for any time of the year in my book! Continue reading “Raspberry & Spiced Port Chocolate Truffles”
These simple mini drizzle cakes are very light and moist, with a rich orange flavour and just a hint of cardamom. The marmaladey orange zest on top, combined with the slightly soured cream, results in what I think is a very more-ish cake. This cake is great cut small to be served as petits fours or made more substantial as a cake to be served with tea. Continue reading “Orange & cardamom drizzle cakes”
Custard slices are one of my favourite teatime sweet treats, even though I don’t have a very sweet tooth! I love the crispness of the pastry, the richness of the crème pâtissière and the stickyness of the fondant topping. Continue reading “Passionfruit & strawberry custard slices (gluten-free)”
This incredibly indulgent treat is my take on a marvellous cake I ate at a patisserie on holiday ages ago and as soon as I got home I set out to try to recreate its flavours and textures.
I was delighted for my original recipe to be published in Sainsbury’s Magazine (Sept 2014 issue), along with a couple of other dessert creations of mine. It was then re-published in their wonderful Bake magazine (and a lovely surprise that it featured on the front cover):
The recipe below, however, is a slight change to the published recipe in that I have gone for an even lighter, almost moussey ganache. I have also added a slight touch of coffee to the ganache which goes so well with chocolate. It is still a rich cake, so small slices are the order of the day!
I often make this using walnuts instead of the pecans for a coffee and walnut “vibe”. This can also be made gluten-free by replacing the flour in the brownies with gluten-free flour.
Assembling the torte:
Most of the cake can be made in advance so that it is mostly about easy assembly: the brownie base can be made ahead and frozen, the salted caramel will keep in a jar for a few weeks and the chocolate crunch can be kept in an airtight container for a few weeks.
The ganache itself takes moments to make up and any surplus can be covered, put in the fridge and made into divine chocolate truffles: simply take a teaspoon of the ganache and roll gently in cocoa powder before returning to the fridge to firm up!
Finishing it off:
The first few times I made this, I poured over a very simple glaze for a shiny effect and sprinkled over some of the crushed caramelised nuts but with some on my subsequent recreations I have made it without the glaze, instead drizzling over some of the salted caramel and melted dark chocolate, with a shrinking of the crushed caramelised nuts.
Basically, either works equally well: it just depends how over-the-top you want to go…….But small slices, remember!
Coffee, pecan & salted caramel truffle torte (makes about 40 small squares)
- 170g unsalted butter
- 170g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) or a mixture of milk and dark, broken into smallish pieces
- 80g chopped pecans (or any nuts…or even a mixture!)
- 50g cocoa powder
- 50g plain white flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 190g golden caster sugar
- 3 large free-range eggs, beaten
- 1 teaspoon best quality vanilla extract
- 80g caster sugar
- 50g pecans
- 20ml water
- 3 teaspoons instant coffee granules dissolved in about 1 teaspoon boiling water
- 100ml milk
- 1/2 tsp sea salt plus an extra pinch
- 80g dark chocolate
- 150g milk chocolate
- 100ml double cream
- 4 tablespoons salted caramel
- 4 teaspoons coffee essence (see above)
- 20g milk chocolate, melted
- 30g cornflakes, well crushed but not powdered
- a couple of tablespoons of the crushed caramelised pecans
- 2 tablespoon salted caramel
- 2 tablespoons of milk
- 2 tablespoon liquid glucose
- 2 tablespoons water
- a few of the crushed caramelised pecans
- a little of the salted caramel sauce to drizzle over
- a little dark chocolate to drizzle over
You will also need a small rectangular cake tin (approx. 26cm by 18cm), lined with greaseproof to help remove the finished cake out of the tin just before slicing.
For the brownie base:
(1) Preheat the oven to 160C(fan). Melt the butter and 100g of the chocolate together in a small bowl either over a pan of barely simmering water or in short bursts in the microwave (10-15 seconds at a time, wait a little, then repeat: once the butter has heated up and melted, you can stir the chocolate and it will melt quickly).
(2) Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder together in a medium bowl. Stir in the sugar. Pour in the melted chocolate mixture, the eggs, nuts and stir to incorporate fully. Stir in the dark chocolate chunks.
(3) Pour into a rectangular tin, lined with greaseproof (I used a 30cm by 20cm tin). Bake for 15-20 minutes: it will have a nice crust but should feel soft underneath. Leave to cool fully in the tin before slicing.
Make the caramelised pecans:
(4) Make up the caramelised pecans: put the sugar with a little water in a small pan (not a non-stick pan ideally) and bring to the boil without stirring. You can gently shake the pan from time to time to help dissolve the sugar, Boil until a deep golden colour is obtained. Add the pecans, stir well and turn onto greaseproof paper or a silicon sheet to cool. Crush roughly. This works equally well with any other nuts.
Make up the chocolate crisp layer:
(5) Mix the ingredients together until well combined. Pour onto greaseproof, spread out and leave to set. Once set, crush well to give “crumbs” of chocolate crisp.
Make the ganache:
(6) Heat the milk in a pan until it comes to the boil. Pour over the chocolate and the salt. Stir until melted. Mix in the salted caramel and most of the coffee essence until you get a smooth glossy ganache. Taste to check the level of coffee flavour: you want a subtle coffer flavour, but you can add more as needed. Leave to cool before whisking the remaining cream until it reaches the soft peak stage and folding it into the ganache.
(7) Spoon a few tablespoons of the ganache over the brownie base and spread thinly – this will act as a glue for the chocolate crisp. With your thumb and forefinger sprinkle over a literal pinch of sea salt: you do need to be sparing here so don’t over-do it. Sprinkle over a couple of tablespoons of the chocolate crisp.
(8) Pour the rest of the ganache over the base. If you have any ganache left over, cover it and chill it: this is excellent made into instant chocolate truffles! Smooth the ganache and leave to set in the fridge for a few hours to set before glazing (if using) or finishing with melted chocolate and salted caramel drizzled over, along with a few crushed caramelised nuts – as the mood takes! Trim the edges before cutting into squares of whatever size you want.
If using a glaze: heat the glaze ingredients gently until melted and smooth. Leave to cool and pour this over the ganache once it has set. Gently tilt the tin so the glaze flattens over the surface: there should be a lovely shine to the glaze. Lift the torte from the tin and cut into squares once the glaze has set.
The last time I made an Opera Gateau I went for layers of sponge brushed with lime syrup and rum, ginger & lemongrass buttercream and passionfruit with white chocolate ganache: this time I went for the more classic Opera Gateau using layers of coffee & rum soaked sponge, coffee buttercream and dark chocolate ganache. Continue reading “Opera Gateau: coffee, chocolate & rum flavour”
Amazingly easy and ridiculously more-ish, this is a great way to use left over roast beef, not to mention Yorkshire pudding batter if you have any left, although to be honest the batter can be made up in moments! I have also given ideas for some of my favourite savoury and sweet variations. Continue reading “Roast beef & horseradish canapés”
I am such a fan of Wagon Wheels but they have become noticeably smaller over the years so I felt I might as well jump on their band wagon(!) and go even smaller, using macarons: after all, miniature things are among the most exciting thing for me to both bake and eat. Continue reading “Blackcurrant marshmallow macarons (& “wagarons”!)”
Regardless of the many name variations that are now used to describe these (cronuts, doughsants, crodoughs, croissnuts…….) these croissant-doughtnut hybrids are amazing to eat. Continue reading “Mini passionfruit & vanilla cronuts”