Melting Chocolate and Clementine Snowflakes with Salted Cardamom Honeycomb

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I’m not usually one for novelty shapes but when Nordic Ware sent me a six hole snowflake baking tin I couldn’t resist (it is Christmas after all). Chocolate fondants never fail to make me happy so I thought a simple festive twist on the classic melt-in-the-middle puddings was in order; the snowflakes themselves taste predominantly of dark chocolate, spiked with a little clementine zest, but the honeycomb really makes for a well rounded dessert full of flavour and texture. Add ice cream too for optimum indulgence.

Ingredients

Makes 6-8 puddings

  • 1-2tbsp cocoa powder, for dusting
  • 140g 70% dark chocolate
  • 140g butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 140g golden caster sugar
  • 3 eggs, 2 egg yolks
  • 125g plain flour
  • Zest 3 clementines

For the honeycomb

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1tsp ground cardamom
  • pinch salt
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda

Method

  1. Brush the moulds inside with melted butter then coat in cocoa powder, tap out any excess and set aside.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, then leave to cool a little.
  3. Place the eggs, yolks, sugar and clementine zest in a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment and whisk until pale and thick.
  4. Add the flour and mix together briefly, then add the chocolate mix, a quarter at a time. Mix well between each addition. Split the mix between the moulds then chill for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  5. Meanwhile, make the honeycomb. To do this line a medium high sided baking tray with baking paper then place the sugar, syrup, salt and ground cardamom in a small saucepan. Heat until the sugar has dissolved and you have a golden, slightly simmering liquid, then add the bicarbonate of soda, remove from the heat and mix (just a few seconds, until the bicarbonate of soda has disappeared.). It will rise up quickly and go foamy. Tip into the prepared tin and leave to set hard.
  6. Take the puddings from the fridge and bake for 9-11 minutes for the perfect saucy middle. Break up the honeycomb and serve a few shards with each pudding.

 

Winter Citrus Pavlova with Dark Chocolate and Spice

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Pavlova is a Great British classic, and although we usually associate it with summer days and strawberries, it’s a really versatile dessert which can be adapted for any time of year simply by changing up the seasonal fruit toppings. I love this variety as the fresh winter citrus and spiced mascarpone combined with a pop of pomegranate makes for a fresh alternative to a heavy Christmas pudding; perfect after a mammoth Turkey feast.

Ingredients

For the meringue

  • 6 large egg whites
  • 300g golden caster sugar
  • 75g dark brown soft sugar 
  • 1tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1tsp corn flour

For the toppings

  • 400ml double cream
  • 200g mascarpone
  • 4or 5 clementines, zest and flesh
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3-4tbsp icing sugar
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 100g pomegranate seeds
  • 75g pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 5-6 figs, sliced (optional)
  • Thyme and rosemary, to garnish (optional)

Method

    1. Preheat the oven to 160c. Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper.
    2. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment. Whisk to medium peaks and start adding the sugar, a spoonful at a time. Once all the sugar (both brown and caster) has been added whisk until stiff peaks form and you’ve got a glossy, non-granular meringue. Stir the corn flour and white wine vinegar together in a small cup and mix into the meringue.
    3. Pile the meringue onto the prepared baking tray and roughly spread into a 30x20cm rectangle. I think the more wild and asymmetric the better. Place the tray in the oven and reduce the temperature to 120c immediately. Cook for 1 hour or until the outside is crisp, then turn the oven off and leave to cool in there for at least an hour (this prevents the meringue cracking too much which can happen when the temperature suddenly changes).
    4. Once cooled, set aside and prepare the toppings. For the cream, whisk together the mascarpone, cream, clementine zest, ground cardamom, ground cinnamon and icing sugar.
    5. Meanwhile melt the dark chocolate gently in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Slice the clementine flesh into rounds.
    6. To assemble the pavlova pile the cream onto the meringue, then arrange the clementine pieces and figs (if using) on top. Drizzle over the dark chocolate then sprinkle on pomegranate seeds and chopped pistachios. Finish with sprigs of rosemary and thyme, if using.

 

 

Hand Rolled Chocolate Truffles, 3 Ways

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Hand rolled chocolate truffles are the perfect homemade gift for Christmas, and are fun to make with kids too (although obviously omit the alcohol if they’re going to be enjoying them!). Below is my base recipe, which can be adapted and altered to create infinite flavours. I’ve listed three of my favourite varieties below; spiced apple and hazelnut liqueur, tahini, pistachio and clementine and coffee liqueur and smoked salt. These will last for at least a week in the fridge, but are great to freeze for up to 3 months (pre-coating).

Base recipe for plain chocolate truffles (makes 16-20)

  • 200ml double cream 
  • 60g light brown soft sugar 
  • 225g dark chocolate
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • pinch salt

Method

  1. Roughly chop the dark chocolate and butter then place in a heatproof bowl.
  2. Heat the cream and sugar in a pan until the sugar has dissolved and the cream just comes to scalding point, then pour all over the chocolate and butter. Leave to stand for a minute or so then stir together until smooth. Stir in salt to taste then leave to cool to room temperature before chilling for at least 2 hours.
  3. Once the mix is firm, remove from the fridge and stand for 20 minutes, then scoop up balls, hand roll and dip in any coatings you fancy. 

Apple and Hazelnut Liqueur 

  • 600ml apple juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick, cracked
  • 3 cloves
  • 150ml double cream
  • 40g light brown soft sugar
  • 3-4tbsp hazelnut liqueur
  • 50g butter
  • 225g dark chocolate
  • pinch salt
  • 100g toasted crushed hazelnuts, to coat

Method

  1. Place the apple juice in a pan and boil until thick and syrupy (you’ll be left with around 50-100ml). Set the apple syrup aside to cool a little then add in the cream, sugar, cinnamon stick and cloves. Stir and leave to infuse for half an hour, then bring up to scalding point and pour (straining out the spices) all over the chocolate and butter. Leave to stand for a minute or so then stir together until smooth. Add hazelnut liqueur and salt to taste then leave to cool to room temperature. 
  2. Follow the same cooling and rolling steps as in the base recipe, then finish by coating in the crushed hazelnuts.

 

Pistachio, Clementine and Tahini 

  • 150ml double cream
  • Zest 3 clementines and the juice of 2 
  • 60g light brown soft sugar
  • 225g dark chocolate
  • 75g tahini
  • pinch salt
  • 100g toasted crushed pistachios, to coat

Method

  1. Roughly chop the dark chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl along with the tahini.
  2. Place the double cream, clementine zest and juice and sugar in a saucepan and heat to scalding point until the sugar has dissolved. Pour all over the chocolate and tahini. Follow the same stirring, cooling and rolling steps as in the base recipe, then finish by coating in the crushed pistachios.

 

Smoked Salt and Coffee Liqueur

  • 200ml double cream
  • 80g light brown soft sugar
  • 225g dark chocolate
  • 50g butter
  • 3-4tbsp coffee liqueur
  • Large pinch smoked salt 
  • 4tbsp cocoa powder

Method

  1. Roughly chop the dark chocolate and butter and place in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream and sugar in a pan until the sugar has dissolved and the cream just comes to scalding point, then pour all over the chocolate and butter. Leave to stand for a minute or so then stir together until smooth.
  2. Add a generous amount of smoked salt and coffee liqueur to taste and then follow the stirring and cooling steps then coat in cocoa powder and extra smoked salt, if you like.

Cherry Molasses, Pistachio and White Chocolate Buns

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Cherry, super-sweet white chocolate, earthy pistachio; a pretty fool proof combination of flavours which marry together beautifully in these enriched sweet buns. I’ve added Arabica’s Cherry Molasses which they kindly gifted to me a couple of weeks back, and it brings a real tang to the overall flavour- delicious! I couldn’t resist adding cardamom to these as well; not only is it my favourite spice but it pairs really well with all three base flavours.

One thing to note before you embark on this recipe: while possible to make these by hand, it’s much easier with the help of a stand mixer and dough hook.

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 150ml milk
  • 140g room temperature unsalted butter
  • 100g plain flour
  • 150g strong white bread flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 sachet fast action dried yeast (7g)
  • 1 egg

For the filling

  • 4tbsp cherry molasses
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 60g soft light brown sugar
  • 100g white chocolate 
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground cardamom
  • 150g pistachios, ground
  • Pinch salt

For the topping

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Extra handful chopped pistachios (optional)

Method

  1. Place the milk and 40g of the butter in a saucepan and heat gently until the butter melts. Set aside to cool a little.
  2. Meanwhile mix the flours, salt, sugar and yeast together in the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attachment.
  3. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the warm milk mixture and the egg. Mix briefly with a wooden spoon to combine then switch on the stand mixer and beat at a medium speed for about 10 minutes. Once the dough seems smooth, increase the speed and add the remaining butter in cubes, waiting for each one to be incorporated before adding the next. You should be left with an elastic, very soft dough. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with oiled cling film. Leave to prove for 1 hour, then chill for 45 minutes (this controls the rise and allows the dough to firm up a little).
  4. For the filling, roughly chop the white chocolate and tip into a bowl. Place the butter, light brown sugar and ground cardamom in a saucepan and gently heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has almost all dissolved, then pour it over the white chocolate. Let it sit for a moment, then stir together. Set aside (don’t worry if it’s grainy).
  5. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle (about 30x50cm) and, making sure you’ve sat the dough landscape, cover 2/3 with the white chocolate mixture, leaving the right hand side bare. Sprinkle the pistachios on top and drizzle over the cherry molasses, then fold the uncovered dough over the top and the remaining left side on top of that, pressing down firmly to form another rectangle. Roll out to around 1.5 cm thick. 
  6. Using a sharp knife, slice the rectangle lengthways, into 2cm wide strips. Take each strip and twist it several times, then wind it around your fingers to form a bun shape, finally taking the end over and under to conceal it. Place each bun on a lined baking tray, leaving room for the second prove. Once all the buns are assembled, cover with a damp clean tea towel and leave to prove for 1 hour. 
  7. Preheat the oven to 170c (fan) and brush the proved buns with the beaten egg. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown. Garnish with chopped pistachio and serve warm or cold (best enjoyed on the day or the day after, reheated to refresh).

Pecan Popcorn Custers with Smoked Salt, Dark Chocolate and Caramel

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These popcorn clusters are really simple to put together and would make for an apt post-firework snack (in fact, covered entirely in chocolate they could look a little like coal!). Think of them as the boujee sister of the rice crispie cake, with bonfire night inspired flavours making them feel a little more grown up.

  • Roughly 125g corn kernels (or 90g plain popcorn- popped weight)
  • 2tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil (omit this if you’re using ready popped corn)
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 75g pecans
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • generous pinch smoked salt

Method

  1. Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper. Have another piece of greaseproof paper handy,
  2. If you’re popping your own kernels, put a large lidded pan on a medium/high heat and add the oil. Once the oil is hot, put a couple of kernels in and wait for them to pop. Once they’ve popped you know your oil is ready, so add the remaining kernels and put the lid on. You’ll hear lots of popping for a few minutes, but once it slows turn the heat off and set aside until it completely stops, then remove the lid and leave to cool. It’s a good idea to shake the pan occasionally during the popping process to avoid any catching on the base of the pan.
  3. Put the sugar in a heavy bottomed pan and heat gently until completely melted, swirling (but not stirring) the pan occasionally. Once the sugar has melted increase the heat and take the caramel to a golden brown colour, then add in the butter and melt until combined (careful, it will spit a little!). Set aside to cool slightly, then transfer the popcorn into a large mixing bowl along with the pecans and a generous pinch of smoked salt. Mix briefly. Tip the caramel into the bowl and, working quickly, stir to coat the popcorn and pecans before tipping the mix onto the prepared tray.
  4. Press the mix down using the spare greaseproof paper and a tea towel (it will be quite hot) to make a compact even layer. Set aside to cool and firm up.
  5. Once crisp, break the popcorn into rough pieces. Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water) then dip the pieces in, or drizzle it over, if you prefer. Finish with a little more smoked salt then leave to set for about half an hour. Enjoy!

Chai Ice Cream

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As the temperatures drop and the evenings draw in, I’m getting really into making ice cream… I know, such a maverick, what will I do next!? I jest, ice cream can be enjoyed all year round in my opinion, especially when you create flavours which feel Autumnal; this chai variety is a great example of that. It’s cold, of course, but the hint of black tea and hum of warming, peppery spice is really comforting, plus it pairs beautifully with hot puddings, rich chocolate desserts and baked fruit.

Ingredients

  • 600ml double cream
  • 600ml whole milk
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 5 black tea bags
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, split in two
  • 1 1/2 tsp black peppercorns, roughly crushed
  • 1tsp fennel seeds, roughly crushed
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, chopped
  • 6 egg yolks
  • pinch salt

Method

  1. Place the cream, milk and 100g of the caster sugar in a large saucepan along with the tea bags, spices, ginger and vanilla. Heat to scalding point (just before it boils) over a medium heat, stirring to ensure the sugar has dissolved, then set aside to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, chill for at least an hour or overnight to allow the flavours to develop.
  2. Drain the infused cream into a large clean saucepan and heat to scalding point once more. Meanwhile, place the egg yolks and remaining 125g caster sugar in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment) and whisk until pale and thick. Remove the cream mixture from the heat and allow to cool slightly for a few minutes, then pour gradually into the yolks, whisking constantly.
  3. Once the mixture is combined, return to a clean saucepan and set over a low/medium heat. Stir until it has thickened to a custard consistency  (do not be tempted to increase the heat or it will curdle) then leave to cool completely.
  4. Once cooled, churn the custard until thick and creamy (about 25 minutes) then scrape into a container, cover and chill for at least 4 hours.

Greengage, Blackberry and Hazelnut Galette with Spelt Pastry

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Galettes are super versatile, simple to shape and look really impressive. This one is filled with a hazelnut frangipane, greengages tossed in vanilla, and an early crop of blackberries; a delicious celebration of late summer produce, especially when served warm from the oven with a generous helping of ice cream or whipped mascarpone.

Ingredients

For the pastry

  • 150g spelt flour
  • 75g plain flour
  • 30g golden caster sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 100g unsalted butter, chilled
  • 2tsp white wine vinegar
  • 50ml fridge-cold water
  • zest 1 lemon

For the filling

  • 100g unsalted butter, soft
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, 1 for the frangipane, 1 for glazing
  • 100g hazelnuts, blitzed until fine
  • 75g plain flour
  • 300g greengages, halved and de-stoned
  • 1/2tbsp corn flour
  • 1 vanilla pod, split
  • handful blackberries
  • 1/2tbsp demerara sugar
  • sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts (optional)

Method

  1. Start off by making the pastry. Place the flours, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs. At this stage add the water, vinegar and lemon zest and pulse again until the mix just comes together in large lumps (alternatively, rub the butter into the flours, salt and sugar using your fingertips then stir in the water, vinegar and lemon zest using a cutlery knife). Tip the dough out and shape into a disc using your hands. Wrap in cling film and chill for 20 minutes.
  2. While the pastry is chilling, prepare the filling, starting with the hazelnut frangipane. Place the butter and sugar in a bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and beat until light and creamy. Add in one egg and beat again until well incorporated, then fold through the ground hazelnuts and plain flour. Set aside.
  3. Scrape the vanilla seeds from the pod and toss together with the halved greengages and corn flour (corn flour helps soak up any excess juices the greengages might release). Preheat the oven to 180c and place a large baking tray on the oven shelf (this ensures that the base of the galette cooks through and is crisp- no soggy bottoms here!).
  4. Once your pastry has firmed up a little, roll into a large 3mm thick circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to a piece of baking paper. Dollop the frangipane into the centre of the pastry, then spread out evenly, leaving a border of roughly 3 inches. Arrange the greengages on top of the frangipane, followed by the blackberries. Fold the edges of the pastry loosely over the filling, then brush with the remaining egg. Finish by sprinkling the demerara sugar all over the pastry and filling.
  5. Transfer the galette onto the hot baking tray and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crisp, and the frangipane is cooked through.
  6. To serve, sprinkle the galette with toasted chopped hazelnuts. Serve warm with ice cream or slightly sweetened mascarpone (it is also delicious cold!).

 

Cardamom Carrot Cake with Honeyed Rose Cream and Figs

Cakes, Uncategorized

At last we approach fig season- one of my absolute favourite fruits, and so synonymous with Middle Eastern cuisine that it would be wrong to incorporate them into a bake which didn’t boast nuts, heady spices or sweet floral flavours; of course this cake contains all three, making it one of my favourite recipes I’ve posted on here to date. It’s not too sweet, nor is the icing too heavy, just a well balanced, flavoursome bake with flavours which work beautifully together. I hope you enjoy.

Ingredients

For the cakes

  • 100g chopped dried figs
  • zest and juice 1 orange
  • 2-3tbsp rose water
  • 250g butter, cubed
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 50g soft light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 400g grated carrot
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • large pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 heaped tsp ground cardamom
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 100g pistachios, roughly chopped

For the icing

  • 300ml double cream
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 3tbsp honey
  • 2-3tbsp rose water

Optional

  • 50g chopped pistachios
  • 1tbsp dried rose petals
  • 4-5 figs

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line two 7 inch cake tins.
  2. Roughly chop the figs and discard the stalks. Tip into a bowl and add the orange juice and rose water. Leave to soak until required.
  3. In a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) cream together the butter and both sugars until pale and thick. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition (add a small amount of the flour with each egg to prevent curdling).
  4. Stir through the grated carrot and soaked figs (along with any juice the figs haven’t absorbed). Mix together the dry ingredients and pistachios and fold through the batter until no streaks of flour remain.
  5. Split the batter between the prepared tins and level off. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
  6. Let the cakes sit in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
  7. Meanwhile, place the cream, cream cheese, honey and rose water in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment) and whisk until pipe-able. Adjust the levels of sweetness and rose flavour to taste.
  8. Once the cakes have cooled down, slice them in half horizontally, leaving you with 4  equal layers. Pile the rose and honey cream into a piping bag with round nozzle. Place the first layer onto a serving plate and pipe little mounds all over the surface, then top with the next layer. Repeat until all the cream mixture is used up, then sprinkle rose petals and pistachios over the top and arrange the figs in an attractive way, if using.

Tahini and Halva Ice Cream

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I know declaring a love of tahini and halva makes me sound a) melodramatic b) painfully millennial and c) like a bit of a dick, but I really have come to crave it, especially in and on desserts and baked goods; the savoury nuttiness and slight bitter note contrasts perfectly with sweet bases and makes for a dangerously moreish result. That definitely applies to this ice cream, which is next level thanks to the texture contrast of crumbled halva through a smooth custard base. Give it a try, it might just be the most delicious ice cream I’ve ever made (although as we have established, I come from a place of bias on this front).

Ingredients

  • 250ml double cream
  • 725ml full fat milk
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • Generous pinch salt
  • 200g tahini
  • 150g crumbled halva
  • 1tbsp toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Method

  1. Pour the cream and milk into a large saucepan. Bring to scalding point then take off the heat. Meanwhile, whisk the sugar and yolks until pale and well combined. Whisk the hot cream mix into the yolks, followed by the tahini and salt. Once smooth, tip the custard base into a clean saucepan.
  2. Set the saucepan over a low/medium heat and stir continuously until it thickens to form a custard which coats the back of a spoon. Pass through a sieve and chill.
  3. When the custard is cool, pour into an ice cream maker and churn until thick and creamy. Stir the crumbled halva through this mix, reserving a little for the top of the ice cream.
  4. Scrape the churned ice cream into a 1 litre container and smooth off. Scatter over the remaining halva and sesame seeds, if using. Freeze for at least 4 hours then serve.

Strawberry and Elderflower Sorbet

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London has reached a Monica’s-massive-hair level of humid, so sorbet seems like the only sensible thing to make. Strawberries are a must this month (I know they’re linked with Wimbledon- that’s where my knowledge of tennis starts and ends), so I’ve used them to create a fresh puree which forms the base of this sorbet, along with elderflower cordial.

Ingredients

  • 800g fresh strawberries, stalks removed
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 50ml elderflower cordial
  • 20ml water

Method

  1. Blitz the strawberries with a hand blender or in a food processor, then pass through a sieve. Discard the seeds. Weigh out 650ml of puree.
  2. Place the caster sugar, cordial and water in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Pop the syrup and the puree in the fridge until both are chilled, then stir together.
  3. Taste and add stir in a little more elderflower cordial, if necessary. Tip into an ice cream churner and churn until smooth and thick.
  4. Decant the sorbet into an airtight container and leave to freeze for at least 3 hours. Take the sorbet out of the freezer around 10 minutes before you’d like to serve it.