Sticky toffee pudding is one of my all time favourite desserts; rolled out on many a Sunday after a family roast and drenched in sweet, buttery sauce, there are few dishes more comforting. Now, I’m not going to lay claim to these sticky toffee inspired muffins beating the classic pud format, however, unlike that Autumn staple, they needn’t be reserved for lazy weekends as they’re conveniently hand held, light in texture, benefit from the addition of fresh pear, and are just as delicious cold as they are hot from the oven and dripping in toffee. Make them now and they’ll last for a few days in an air tight box.
Ingredients (makes 6-8 large muffins)
For the muffin batter
- 225g plain flour
- 1 1/2tsp baking powder
- 1tsp ground ginger
- 1tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch salt
- 3 eggs
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 125ml vegetable oil
- 100g golden caster sugar
- 100g light brown soft sugar
- 1 large pear, diced
- 100g pitted Medjool dates, soaked in boiling water
For the sticky toffee sauce
- 60g butter
- 60g light brown soft sugar
- 80ml double cream
- pinch salt
- caramelised pear slices (to make these, just slice up 1 pear into 3mm thick pieces. Heat 2tbsp light brown soft sugar and 2tbsp butter in a pan until gently bubbling then add the pear pieces and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden)
- Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a 12 hole muffin tray with muffin cases (this recipe makes 6-8 large muffins but if you prefer a smaller cupcake-size you will get 12).
- Place the flour, baking powder, spices and salt in a small bowl and stir together. In a larger bowl, whisk together the eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla and sugars until well combined, then stir in the diced pear. Drain the boiling water off the dates and crush them up into a rough paste and add those in too. Finally, fold in the dry ingredients until just combined (don’t worry if the batter is lumpy and a few specks of flour remain- the trick with muffins is to mix as little as possible to achieve a light texture).
- Fill each case 3/4 of the way up and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the muffins are well risen and a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
- While the muffins are baking make the sticky toffee sauce. Place the butter, sugar, cream and salt in a small saucepan and set over a gentle heat. Allow the butter and sugar to melt, stirring occasionally, then cook until the ingredients come together to form a smooth, golden sauce. Add the salt to taste.
- When the muffins are ready, prick a few holes over the surface of each one and pour on a generous helping of toffee sauce. Finish with some caramelised pear slices, if you like.
These buttery shortbreads, dipped in white chocolate and flavoured with warming cardamom and citrus, have got me feeling (dare I say it) pretty festive. The format might be a bit retro but there’s something comforting and nostalgic about bedding in with a batch of homemade biscuits and a cup of builder’s tea at this time of year. Give them a try for a quick and easy twist on a classic.
Ingredients (makes 20-24 biscuits)
- 225g soft butter
- 100g caster sugar
- zest 1 orange
- 150g plain flour
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 75g rye flour
- 100g cornflour
- Pinch of salt
- 100g white chocolate
- 50g pistachios, finely chopped (optional)
- Place the butter, sugar and orange zest in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and beat until very light and fluffy. Add in the flours, salt and ground cardamom and beat briefly until the flour is just incorporated and the mix starts to come together in large clumps (it’s important not to over-mix here as beating for too long could result in a tough biscuit which isn’t buttery and short!).
- Bring the mix together with your hands and roll out on a floured surface to about 1cm thick. Stamp out biscuits using a cookie cutter (or just slice the dough into squares with a knife) and line up on a lined baking tray. Chill for at least 30 minutes, or until firm. Preheat the oven to 180c.
- Once your biscuits have firmed up, bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges are golden. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
- Melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (or melt in the microwave at 30 second increments, stirring between each) then dip each biscuit in, about half way up. Place the dipped biscuits on a piece of greaseproof paper for the chocolate to set and sprinkle with pistachios.
A couple of months ago I bought, then promptly forgot about, some delicious pine honey which I intended to use as the central flavour in a pastry-based recipe. Now that it’s been retrieved from the depths of my cupboard it has well and truly fulfilled that destiny in these crisp craquelin choux buns. Simply filled with honeyed orange mascarpone and walnuts (also baked in the honey and a little salt) these make for a delicious treat, but served alongside honey butterscotch sauce and they’re next level- perfect for a fancy Autumnal dessert.
For the craquelin top
- 55g unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
- 65g soft light brown sugar
- 65g plain flour
For the choux
- 85g butter
- 220ml water
- 100g plain flour
- 3 eggs (plus 1 extra for glazing)
- pinch of salt
For the filling
- 300g mascarpone
- 200ml double cream
- 2tbsp (heaped) good quality honey (I used Greek Pine Honey)
- Zest of 2 oranges
For the honeyed walnuts
- 100g walnuts
- 2tbsp (heaped) good quality honey (as before)
- good pinch salt
For the sauce (optional)
- 75ml honey
- Juice 1/2 orange
- 25g butter
- 100ml double cream
- Generous pinch salt
- Start off by making the craquelin topping (when baked, this forms a crispy sweet layer). To do this simply mix the butter, sugar and flour in a large bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment on a slow speed) until it starts to form large lumps, then bring it together with your hands. Place the dough on a large piece of baking paper, top with another piece of baking paper, and roll out to about 3mm thick. Pop this onto a tray and leave in the freezer to solidify.
- To make the choux, put the water, butter and salt in a saucepan set over a medium heat (do not let it boil at this stage). Meanwhile, sieve the flour to remove any lumps. When the butter has melted into the water, increase the heat and bring to a rolling boil, then tip in the flour and stir vigorously until you have a smooth paste-like mix which comes away from the edges of the pan. Continue to stir for another minute to cook out the rawness of the flour, then tip into a clean bowl and close cover with cling film (this eggless stage is known as a ‘panade’). Leave to cool to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 190c. Line 2 large baking trays with greaseproof paper.
- Once the panade has cooled it’s time to add the eggs; whisk in a jug to break them up then very gradually add into the panade while beating with electric beaters. Stop adding the egg (you might have a little leftover) when the smooth, lump-free mixture reluctantly drops off the end of a spoon. Pile the choux mix into a piping bag, fitted with a large round nozzle.
- Pipe rounds of about 4cm wide onto the prepared baking trays, leaving plenty of room for expansion. Whisk the remaining egg in a bowl and brush a small amount onto each mound, smoothing down the tip. Take your craquelin sheet and stamp out 3cm circles. Place one on top of each choux mound (the egg will help secure it in place). Bake the choux for around 35 minutes, then skewer a small hole in each bun and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes, to dry out the middles. Once baked, they should be crisp and golden brown with a crackled appearance on top. Cool while you make the other elements.
- Toss the walnuts in the honey and salt and spread out on a baking tray. Cook for around 10 minutes or until caramelised then set aside to cool. Once cooled, roughly chop.
- For the filling, just whisk together the mascarpone, cream, honey and orange zest until light and smooth. Pile into a piping bag. Finally, for the sauce heat the honey and orange juice in a saucepan and simmer for a couple of minutes, add in the butter and stir until it’s melted, then add the cream and salt. Keep gently simmering, stirring occasionally, until slightly thicker (a few minutes should be fine), then set aside.
- To assemble the choux buns, slice each one in half and pipe some mascarpone cream into the base. Top with a sprinkling of walnuts and a little sauce, then place the lid on. Serve with some extra sauce.
No intricate decorations, fillings or tiers here, just one humble layer of ludicrously fudgy, crinkly chocolate joy (which is, entirely by chance, dairy and gluten free). For a real depth of flavour and the perfect balance of bitter and sweet, take note of my chocolate recommendations and use a good quality olive oil (this recipe idea actually stemmed from a yearning to bake with a deliciously floral, wincingly expensive extra virgin oil I picked up in Greece last month*).
* Disclaimer: don’t judge, I was in that holiday headspace where you flash your card with the sort of cavalier attitude usually reserved for Monopoly money… sufficed to say, I could do with passing GO right now
- 200g 60% dark chocolate
- 100g 70% dark chocolate
- 100g 80% dark chocolate
- 200ml good quality olive oil
- 275g light brown soft sugar
- 75ml strong espresso
- 5 eggs
- Generous pinch sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line an 8 inch cake tin.
- Roughly chop all the chocolate and place it in a heatproof bowl along with the olive oil. Put the sugar and coffee in a saucepan and gently heat until the sugar has completely dissolved (avoid bringing it to the boil at this stage).
- Once the sugar has dissolved increase the heat and bring to the boil, then pour over the chocolate. Leave for a few minutes while the chocolate melts, then stir everything (chocolate, olive oil, sugar, espresso) together to form a smooth, glossy liquid. Set aside to cool to room temperature, then stir in the egg yolks.
- Place the egg whites in a large bowl with the salt (or bowl of a stand mixer) and whisk to stiff peaks. Carefully fold the whites into the chocolate mixture in two batches using a large metal spoon, then scrape the mixture into the prepared cake tin (make sure you don’t scrape from a height or you’ll knock out some of that air you’ve just put into the whites!).
- Bake for 50-60 minutes, then leave to cool completely in the tin. When cooling, the top of the cake will dip and crack- don’t worry, it’s a smooth, flourless torte, not a sponge cake! Once cool, slice up and finish with a dusting of cocoa powder. Serve with creme fraiche, if you like.
This cake, decorated with whimsical blooms from the Eloise bouquet by Bloom and Wild, is made up of four layers of moist hazelnut sponge soaked in lavender honey syrup, filled with a fresh blackberry compote and covered in delicately flavoured lavender mascarpone cream. The bouquet is inspired by a summer meadow, so it seemed only right to pick out some of my favourite ingredients the British countryside has to offer for this recipe; together the balance of nutty, floral and fruity flavours are delicious. Try this one out in August/September for a really special seasonal centre piece.
For the lavender honey syrup (this is used to soak the sponges and flavour the mascarpone icing)
- 100ml runny honey
- 75ml water
- 4 sprigs fresh lavender or 1tbsp dried lavender
For the blackberry compote
- 400g fresh blackberries
- 3tbsp runny honey
- Zest and juice 1 lemon
For the hazelnut sponges
- 350g soft unsalted butter
- 325g light brown soft sugar
- 6 eggs
- 200g ground hazelnuts (to make these just blitz 200g blanched hazelnuts in a food processor until fine)
- 150g plain flour
- 2tsp baking powder
- Pinch salt
For the lavender mascarpone cream
- 3-4tbsp of the lavender honey
- 350ml double cream
- 300ml mascarpone
To garnish (optional)
- The Eloise bouquet by Bloom and Wild
- Fresh blackberries
- Crushed and toasted hazelnuts
- Start by making the lavender honey (to give it time to develop in flavour). To do this just place the honey, water and lavender (whichever sort you’re using) in a saucepan and gently heat until the honey has dissolved into the water. Once this has happened, simmer for 2 minutes then set aside and leave to infuse until required
- Now make the blackberry compote by gently heating the blackberries, honey, lemon zest and juice in a saucepan. Stir occasionally, until the blackberries release their juices and reduce down to form a compote consistency. Set aside to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line two 8 inch cake tins.
- Place the softened butter and sugar in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) and beat until very light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating very well between each addition (add a tablespoon of the flour each time to prevent curdling). Once all the eggs are well incorporated, fold in the ground hazelnuts, remaining flour, baking powder and salt with a large metal spoon.
- Divide the mix between the prepared tins and level the tops. Bake for 35-40 minutes (or until well risen and a skewer comes out clean when inserted). Once baked, prick the surfaces of the cakes with a fork and spoon over 3-4tbsp of the lavender honey syrup, then leave to cool completely in the tins.
- While the cakes are cooling, make the lavender mascarpone cream. Put all the ingredients in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) and whisk until thick and spreadable. Scrape half the mixture into a piping bag. Now you’re ready to assemble the cake (providing all your elements are completely cool!).
- To put the cake together, slice the sponges in half horizontally (so you have four even layers). Place the first layer down on your chosen plate and pipe a thick ring of mascarpone cream around the edge, then fill the middle with one third of the blackberry compote and repeat this until you’ve stacked up all four layers. With the remaining mascarpone cream, cover the cake and smooth with a palette knife. Decorate with blooms from the Eloise bouquet or freestyle with hazelnuts, fresh blackberries and lavender.
We’ve been enjoying a very unusual bout of beautiful hot weather here in the UK, so today’s recipe is an iced one. I served this up for my boyfriends birthday (after he broke the news to me that he didn’t want a cake- yeah, sacrilege I know) and although it requires a little more effort to make than a simple sponge, the creamy, indulgent and slightly bittersweet (thanks to the tahini and very dark chocolate) result is well worth it.
For the chocolate ripple
- 150g bitter dark chocolate
- 150ml double cream
- pinch sea salt
For the cherry compote
- 200g fresh cherries (de-stoned)
- 3tbsp honey or caster sugar
- Zest and juice of 1 orange
For the parfait base
- 4 eggs
- 75g caster sugar
- 125ml whole milk
- 250ml double cream
- 150g tahini
For the tahini crumble
- 25g tahini
- 25g demerara sugar
- 25g butter, cubed
- 100g plain flour
- 1tbsp black sesame seeds
- Start by making the chocolate ganache for the ripple. To do this simply place the chocolate, salt and cream in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (don’t allow the water to touch the bottom of the bowl). Stir occasionally until it melts together and forms a smooth ganache. Set aside to cool.
- Now prepare the cherry compote. Put the cherries, honey (or sugar), orange zest and juice in a saucepan and gently heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches a sticky compote consistency (5-10 minutes). Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool.
- Now it’s time to make the parfait base. Line a loaf tin with 2 layers of cling film, leaving an overhang on all sides.
- Separate the eggs. Put the yolks in a large bowl along with the sugar and whisk until pale, meanwhile, heat the milk until just boiling in a saucepan. Remove the milk from the heat and pour into the egg yolks, then stir together until smooth. Return the mix to a clean pan and gently heat, stirring constantly. After a few minutes, the mix will start to thicken- once it coats the back of the spoon set aside and cool to room temperature.
- Once the ganache, compote and custard have cooled to room temperature, whisk the double cream to soft peaks. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites to medium peaks. Stir the tahini into the egg yolk mixture. Fold the double cream into the egg yolk/ tahini with a large metal spoon, then do the same with the egg whites, retaining as much air as possible. Ripple through 2/3 of the chocolate ganache and 2/3 of the cherry compote.
- Spoon the remaining chocolate ganache and cherry compote into the bottom of the prepared tin, then spoon in the parfait mix. Cover with cling film and freeze for at least 4 hours.
- While the parfait is freezing, make the sesame crumble. Preheat the oven to 180c. Rub together the butter and flour until they resemble breadcrumbs. Stir through the sugar and tahini, then tip onto a lined baking tray- bake for 10 minutes then check, shake and return to the oven to 10 more minutes, or until the crumble is golden brown. Stir through the sesame seeds and set aside to cool.
- Take the parfait out of the oven 10 minutes before you’d like to serve it to allow it to soften slightly. Sprinkle on the sesame crumble and finish with some fresh cherries.
Light, buttery sponge flavoured with lemon, tart pockets of soft, juicy gooseberries, and a generous swirl of elderflower mascarpone make up this simple summer cake and ode to the British countryside.
- 225g butter, softened
- 225g caster sugar
- zest 2 lemons
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 4 eggs
- 225g self raising flour
- 75g ground almonds
- 1tsp baking powder
- 250g gooseberries (blueberries, blackberries or raspberries would also work well)
- 200g mascarpone
- 3tbsp elderflower cordial
- 1tbsp honey
- Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a 9 inch cake tin.
- Place the butter, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and beat until very light, pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add a little flour if you’re worried about curdling.
- Once all the eggs are well incorporated, fold in the flour, ground almonds and baking powder. Trim the tops and stalks of the gooseberries then fold them through the cake batter.
- Scrape the cake batter into the prepared tin and level off the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake is springy and golden (or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted). Once baked, leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the mascarpone, elderflower and honey. When the cake is cool, swirl the mascarpone over the cake and decorate with fresh flowers.
Make the most of the fleeting cherry season with this deliciously indulgent ode to my favourite things (chocolate and cherries). Great for a summer dinner party dessert or post-BBQ chocolate fix, this tart layers up cherry compote, orange blossom infused chocolate filling and cardamom cream, all encased in crisp, zesty pastry; you’d be hard pushed to find someone who’d turn down a slice.
For the pastry
- 225g plain flour
- 150g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
- pinch salt
- 50g caster sugar
- zest 1 orange
- 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
For the cherry layer
- 400g cherries (de-stoned)
- 2tbsp caster sugar
- zest and juice 1 orange
- 2tbsp cherry molasses (optional)
For the chocolate filling
- 125ml double cream
- 100g butter
- zest 1 orange
- 2tsp orange blossom extract
- 300g dark chocolate
- 1 egg plus 3 egg yolks
- 100g caster sugar
For the cardamom cream (optional)
- 200ml double cream
- 1tsp ground cardamom
- 2tbsp icing sugar
To decorate (optional)
- whole cherries
- edible flowers, petals only
- Grease a 20cm deep tart tin lightly with butter.
- Before you make the pastry, flavour the cream for the chocolate filling. To do this just pop the double cream, butter, orange zest and orange blossom extract in a saucepan and heat until the butter has melted and starts to gently simmer. Set aside until required.
- Place the plain flour, butter and salt in a food processor and whizz on a pulse setting until they resemble breadcrumbs. Tip this mix into a large bowl and stir through the caster sugar and orange zest. Briefly whisk together the egg and egg yolk and add to the bowl then stir with a cutlery knife to form pastry. Once it all comes together in big lumps, shape it into one large disc (handling as little as possible) and wrap in cling film. Chill for about an hour or until the pastry is a little firmer. Preheat the oven to 180c.
- While the pastry is chilling, make the cherry filling. To do this just place the de-stoned cherries, caster sugar, orange zest and juice, and the cherry molasses (if using- this is optional but it really helps intensify the cherry flavour) in a saucepan. Heat gently until the cherries release their juices, then up the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cherries are sticky and resemble a compote.
- Once the pastry has firmed up, roll out to about 3mm thick on a well floured surface. Line the tart tin with the pastry, ensuring that you push it into the corners and flutes. Trim any overhanging pastry and chill for 20 minutes.
- When your pastry is sufficiently chilled, line with baking paper, fill with baking beans and blind bake for 10-15 minutes until the walls of the tart case can support themselves. At this stage remove the paper and beans and return to the oven for a further 5-10 minutes or until the pastry is completely cooked through with no grey, raw areas of pastry remaining. Set aside.
- Now make the chocolate filling. Gently melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Meanwhile, remove the orange zest from the cream mixture and heat up. Once the chocolate has melted pour the cream into the bowl and briefly stir to combine, then set aside to cool a little. Put the egg, yolks and caster sugar in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) and whisk until very thick, pale and voluminous (5-6 minutes). Add a large spoonful of this to the chocolate and mix in, then add the rest and carefully fold.
- To assemble the tart, tip the cherry compote into the pastry case and spread out in an even layer, then scrape the chocolate filling on top. Bake for 15 minutes then leave to cool completely in the tin (it should have a little wobble).
- While the tart is cooling, make the cardamom cream. To do this simply whisk together the icing sugar, cream and ground cardamom until soft peaks form.
- You can enjoy the tart at this stage- it will have a very fudgy, mousse like texture. If you chill the tart it will have a slightly different, but still delicious, texture (the cold will set it a little firmer, like a conventional chocolate tart). However you serve your tart, top it with a spoonful of cardamom cream and fresh cherries.
If you do one thing this weekend, make these brownies; with brown butter delivering a deep nutty flavour, pecans adding a welcome crunch and dark brown sugar leaving you with a molasses hit, they 100% deliver on flavour and texture and are perhaps the most delicious brownies I’ve made to date (drops mic) (cringes).
Ingredients (makes 9-12 brownies)
- 250g butter, cubed
- 250g dark chocolate
- 100g dark brown soft sugar
- 100g golden caster sugar
- 3 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
- large pinch sea salt
- 100g gluten free plain flour (I used Doves Farm)
- 100g chopped pecans
- 75g chopped white chocolate
- 75g chopped milk chocolate
Method (makes 9-12 brownies, depending on how hungry you are)
1) Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a 22x22cm brownie tray.
2) Place the cubed butter in a saucepan and melt over a medium heat. Once completely melted, up the heat and allow the butter to foam until it smells nutty and reaches a deep golden colour. At this stage, remove from the heat and add in the chopped dark chocolate. Let it sit for a couple of minutes then stir briefly to create a smooth glossy mix. Set aside to cool a little.
3) While the chocolate mixture cools, place the sugars, salt, eggs and egg yolk in a stand mixer (or in a large bowl) and beat until very light and voluminous (it will pretty much double in size). This stage is well worth the effort- it will give you that classic cracked top.
4) Once the egg mixture is ready, pour the chocolate mix down the side of the bowl and fold in using a large metal spoon. Add the gluten free flour and do the same until you have a smooth, lump free batter. Now add the chocolate chunks and pecans and stir through to evenly distribute.
5) Tip the mix into the prepared tin and level off. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
6) When it’s ready, the brownie will have a flaky crisp top but will still be gooey and moist on the inside. Set aside to cool (completely) in the tin then remove, slice up and serve.
This granola is super easy to make and can be adapted with your choice of nuts and seeds; I particularly like this variety as the cacao nibs add a hint of chocolate which pairs really well with the coconut flavour. If you want to keep it vegan serve this with seasonal fresh fruit, nut butter and coconut yoghurt or enjoy as a sprinkling on top of an Acai bowl.
- 400g whole oats
- 75g pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds)
- 75g chia seeds (or poppy seeds)
- 75g hemp seeds (or flax seeds/ sesame seeds)
- 100g cacao nibs
- 100g pecans (or brazil nuts/walnuts/hazelnuts)
- 1tsp cinnamon
- 1tsp mixed spice
- 175g coconut oil
- 250g coconut nectar (or agave syrup/honey)
- 100g coconut shavings
- Line a large high sided baking tray with greaseproof paper and preheat the oven to 160c.
- Place the oats, nuts, seeds, cacao nibs and spices in a large bowl and stir to combine. Put a saucepan over a medium heat and add the coconut nectar and coconut oil- melt these together and once you have a lump-free liquid remove from the heat.
- Pour the melted liquid into the dry ingredients and stir together until everything is evenly coated. Tip this into the prepared tray and spread out then bake for about 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to make sure the edges don’t catch.
- When the granola is almost ready add the coconut shavings and bake for a further 10 minutes- it’s important you add these near the end as they don’t need too long to colour.
- Once the granola is golden and has dried out a little, set aside to crisp up and cool then tip into jars and use as required.