Category Petits fours

Blackcurrant and mint fondant fancies

Blackcurrant and mint make a truly wonderful combination, and used together here you have a particularly vibrant and refreshing cake. These fondant fancies (yes, another fondant fancy flavour – not that I have an addiction to fondant fancies, you understand!), are light and so tangy, with just a hint of mint. If you are not a fan […]

Pina colada fondant fancies

These miniature cakes are my homage to the classic pina colada – my favourite cocktail; seriously, I never tire of this cocktail! A fondant fancy is a thing of great joy, and always trasnpirt me back to childhood – albeit without the rum in this case! Every time I have made these fondant fancies they have gone very quickly: […]

Blueberry and raspberry macarons

I have been making many batches of macarons in recent weeks – sadly not all for me: most have been for friends, with a few macarons from some of my batches used for temperature testing for a recent post. Raspberries are one of my favourite fruits and I need little excuse to use these in sweet bakes: […]

The effect of different oven temperatures in baking

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 […]

Orange and passionfruit fondant fancies

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! Fruity, tangy and fragrant, these fondant fancies have a light orange sponge and a tangy […]

Crispy gingerbread cake bites

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. These are essentially cakey croutons, made by simply drying them at a low temperature in the oven very gently for […]

Salted caramel shortbreads

This is my take on Millionaire’s Shortbread, but slightly jazzed up: a real excuse for indulgence – but is an excuse ever needed? Essentially, you have a buttery shortbread base, topped with a generous amount of salted caramel and coated in thick milk chocolate. A real treat for chocolate lovers and caramel lovers. It’s salted caramel all […]

Cashew nut & cocoa nib snaps

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. The snaps are perfect eaten just as they are, or served with coffee or tea after a meal. They also make excellent edible gifts. About […]

Quick & easy Cherry, walnut & maple syrup pastries

These are very quick and easy treats: small sweet pastries that are crisp, buttery and wonderfully sticky: quite fabulous served with coffee or tea! Measurements not essential here! For pastries such as these, whether sweet or savoury, I confess that I do not measure out the filling ingredients; I just sprinkle over enough to give a light covering […]

Luxury orange shortbread mince pies with a macaroon topping

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. These are also easy […]

Pimms cocktail jaffa cakes

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 […]

Cinnamon & orange Viennese biscuits

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! I went for several […]

Simple roasted coffee shortbread – with no rolling out

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. A bake for all! Shortbread is also a very simple thing to make and is a particularly great bake for people who are […]

Roasted coffee bean butter: a great ingredient for coffee lovers

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 […]

Tangy blackcurrant chocolates

  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. And with good chocolates, you only need to eat one or two to get that lovely, all-is-well-with-the-world feeling! Well, maybe three…….. However, I do like to make my own because […]

Passion fruit & peach tarts (lower-fat!)

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. Ideal for a party, buffet or any occasion when you […]

Simple raspberry chocolates

I love making use of left-overs and these simple chocolates hit the spot perfectly! Quick to make, they use the remains of some raspberry buttercream and some chocolate from a recent cake I had made (below). Filling I would normally make a ganache for filling chocolates (or use fruit curd, salted caramel sauce etc….), but here the buttercream is […]

Orange & vanilla rum babas

Surely it is time for a full-on revival of these fabulous 1970s dessert trolley staples? Rum babas should have a beautifully light texture, a rich buttery flavour and a real adult kick of indulgence from the rum. They are, I think, a winning end to any meal, a great sweet treat as part of an Afternoon Tea […]

Lemongrass custard tarts

Smoked salted caramel & bitter chocolate macarons

Post updated: August 2016 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. The shells, which have some walnuts in them (just enough to give a hint), are sprinkled with smoked sea salt before baking. Now I love salted […]

Mini ginger Kouign-Amann

If you have never heard of, or eaten Kouign-Amann pastries before, think crisp bites of buttery, caramelised croissant…..wonderful as an occasional treat! I have posted about the fabulous Kouign-Amann pastries before and from time to time I like to make variations. Given that it is hard to buy good Kouign-Amann in the UK (mind you, even indifferent […]

Salted caramel pretzel rocky road

Post updated: June 2016 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. I made this take on rocky road with ingredients that […]

Savoury macarons: smoked salmon & horseradish

When it comes to the list of my food pleasures, smoked salmon on sliced brioche with a thin spreading of caper butter is up there near the top: the smoky saltiness of the salmon, the sweet butteriness of the brioche and the slightly tart capers make for a perfect partnership. These macarons are my bite-sized version […]

Earl Grey scones with raspberry curd

In this post I have given two recipes: one for the scones and another for the raspberry curd. A little bit of Afternoon Tea in each bite, these light scones are easy to make and even easier to eat! Eaten with clotted cream and a good fruit curd these scones will, I am sure, not […]

Lemon drizzle cake

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! Truth be told, […]

Mince pies with pistachio Viennese biscuit topping

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. I first had a mince pie with a […]

Ginger snowmen macarons

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?! Looking online, it is little surprise that macaron snowmen and other quirky […]

Chocolate & salted caramel éclairs

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. And while a topping of dark chocolate would be excellent to use, I prefer a sticky, rich chocolatey […]

Spiced cranberry & orange baklava

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! This version is not as sickly sweet as some baklavas can be: sweet, yes, but not to the level that you need to ring the dentist after a couple […]

Cranberry, orange & fennel seed biscotti

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! Flavour and texture are crucial in any biscotti: the taste should certainly pack a real punch as you eat […]

Blackcurrant & raspberry éclairs

It 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. Using fruit from the freezer, I decided to make a batch of blackcurrant and raspberry éclairs: they are filled with a […]

Apricot shortbread

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. I used dried apricots given to me by Whitworths. The dried chopped apricots make a classic biscuit even more special; those lovely juicy nuggets set in the shortbread are wonderful: […]

Pimms macarons with Pimms ganache & minted cucumber jelly

A challenging 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! The macaron shells are flavoured with a Pimms reduction, and the fruity flavour coming through the filling gives what I think […]

Chouxnuts 2: chocolate & cherry flavour

I made a savoury version of these deep-fried choux pastry doughnuts a while ago (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 […]

Coffee Dacquoise with caramelised hazelnuts

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. The 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. About the recipe I took a standard […]

Orange & cranberry macarons

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! Besides, I need no excuse to make a batch of macarons! The basic macaron recipe: The recipe for the macarons […]

Lemongrass & ginger Cannelés

  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 […]

Raspberry & Spiced Port Chocolate Truffles

These are Christmassy truffles, albeit rather loosely, although chocolate truffles are, quite frankly, for any time of the year in my book! The filling is a soft white chocolate ganache, mixed with a fresh raspberry purée and pieces of dried raspberry. A little spiced port reduction (below) is added to the ganache before being coated in dark tempered chocolate. Spiced […]

Orange & cardamom drizzle cakes

  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 […]

Passionfruit & strawberry custard slices (gluten-free)

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. I have never made these before so I couldn’t resist having a go. As with many of […]

Coffee, pecan & salted caramel truffle torte

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 […]

Opera Gateau: coffee, chocolate & rum flavour

It is a few years since I last made an Opera Gateau so I felt it was time to re-visit this classic cake. 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 […]

Roast beef & horseradish canapés

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. The beef […]

Blackcurrant marshmallow macarons (& “wagarons”!)

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. Granted, turning macarons […]

Mini passionfruit & vanilla cronuts

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. A blast from my child-hood: I had made versions of these decades ago when I first started trying to make croissant dough at home, starting by using the off-cuts and then using proper […]

Vegan raspberry macarons

Post updated: July 2016 (tweaked filling ingredients) I need little excuse to make macarons, but this time I was asked if I could make some for a friend who was investigating more of a vegan lifestyle and wanted to be convinced that she could still enjoy indulgent things: which of course she could…and should! My […]

Macaroons (as opposed to macarons!!)

A few years ago I made what was apparently a significant social faux pas in a restaurant while being served petits fours: when I referred to what I thought were macaroons the waiter, bristling with petulant superciliousness, exclaimed “they are not macaroons, sir. They are macarons“. All done with a pronunciation that could well have […]

Sour cherry & white chocolate pastries

These are very light pastries with the wonderful combination of both sweet and sharp flavours. The sour cherries, having been steeped overnight in rum or Amaretto, pack a lovely punch; the fragrant sharpness of a passion fruit crème pâtissière, enriched with a little white chocolate, offers an indulgently soft filling for the crisp, buttery pastry. […]

Homemade Bounty Bars!

An impromptu use of baking “left-overs” and very quick to throw together: I had a little Italian meringue left over after making my mango and passion fruit cheesecakes and I decided to use up the rest of the desiccated coconut used in the bases to make my version of Bounty bars. Can’t be arsed to make Italian […]

Mango & Passionfruit cheesecakes domes

A slight twist on the cheesecake, inspired by one of the goodies served to us when having Afternoon Tea recently. I often get inspiration while eating out and it was fun trying to recreate the feel of this sweet at home. These have crumbly, buttery shortbread bases with a bit of toasted coconut, topped with domes of fresh […]

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