Espresso, Pecan & Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches

Biscuits, Uncategorized

These cookie sandwiches are a culmination of my three favourite things; coffee, chocolate and ice cream. The pecans add crunch, and the bitter note of espresso prevents the result from being overly sweet. There’s not a lot else to say- other than go forth and make them (but proceed with caution, they’re like crack).

Ingredients (makes 10-12 cookie sandwiches, with a little extra cookie dough which will freeze well)

For the ice cream

  • 400ml double cream
  • 400ml whole milk
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 150g caster sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 30g good quality instant coffee

For the cookies

  • 225g soft unsalted butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 175g dark brown soft sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • generous pinch salt
  • 150g plain flour
  • 125g rye flour
  • 75g roughly chopped pecans
  • 100g roughly chopped dark chocolate (70%)

Method

  1. Start off by making the ice cream. To do this, pour the double cream, milk and instant coffee into a saucepan and set over a medium heat. Meanwhile, place the egg yolks, sugar and salt in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment) and whisk until pale and thick. Once the instant coffee has dissolved into the cream mixture, bring it to a simmer then take off the heat and gradually add into the eggs and sugar, whisking constantly until well combined.
  2. Pass the mixture through a sieve into a clean saucepan, then heat gently, stirring until thick (make sure the custard doesn’t get too hot, or you’ll be left with something that looks a bit like scrambled eggs!). Pass the thickened custard through a sieve into a bowl, then close cover with cling film and leave to cool completely (I like to chill the custard at this point to make sure it’s as cold as possible before churning, but it’s not absolutely necessary).
  3. Once cooled, pour the custard into an ice cream maker and churn until creamy and thick. Line a shallow square/rectangular baking tin (about 2-3cm deep) with cling film and scrape the churned ice cream into it. Level off, cover with cling film and place in the freezer for at least 4 hours, until fully set. At this point you can cut the ice cream into rounds using a 3-4 inch cookie cutter, then cover and return the rounds to the freezer until required.
  4. For the cookies, place the butter and both sugars in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and beat until pale and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the bicarbonate of soda, salt and both flours and very briefly mix again until combined. Now stir in the pecans and chocolate with a wooden spoon. Chill the cookie dough for 10 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a couple of baking trays with greaseproof paper and space tablespoons of cookie dough over them, allowing plenty of room for spreading. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until soft in the middle but golden in colour. At about 8-10 minutes into baking, take the baking tray and bang it on the work top in one sharp movement. This allows the cookie to spread a little and ensures the perfect thickness. Repeat the process until you’ve used up the cookie dough, then leave the cookies to cool.
  6. For a neat result, you can cut the cookies into perfect circles with the cutter you used for the ice cream, but this isn’t essential.
  7. Once the cookies have cooled, sandwich two together with a round of espresso ice cream.

Enjoy!

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Rhubarb & Caramelised White Chocolate Choux Nuts

Pastry

Crisp choux pastry, sharp roast rhubarb with a hint of vanilla, and butterscotch-sweet caramelised white chocolate cream; a delicious combination you’ve got to try, and a great way to celebrate seasonal British produce (and millennial pink… *sigh*).

Ingredients (makes 10-12)

For the choux

  • 85g unsalted butter
  • 220ml water
  • 100g plain flour
  • 3 eggs
  • pinch of salt

For the filling

  • 250g white chocolate (make sure it’s at least 30% cacao)
  • 300ml double cream
  • Pinch salt
  • 4 thick stems rhubarb
  • 3tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 vanilla pods or 1tsp vanilla extract
  • Juice and zest 1 lemon

For the topping

  • 100g icing sugar
  • Enough of the rhubarb syrup (leftover from roasting the rhubarb) to create an icing with a drizzle-consistency
  • Dried rose petals (optional)
  • Candied rhubarb ribbons (optional) (I make these by creating ribbons of rhubarb with a peeler, which I then simmer in a simple 2 parts sugar: 1 part water syrup for 5 minutes before draining off any excess liquid and cooking at 160c for 10-15 minutes, or until dried out, on a lined baking tray)

Method

  1. 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.
  2. Preheat the oven to 190c. Line 2 large baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  3. 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.
  4. Pipe 10-12 doughnut shapes onto the prepared baking trays, leaving room for expansion. Bake the choux for 20-25 minutes or until crisp and golden, then skewer each one and return to the oven for around 10 minutes or until the middles have completely dried out. Set aside to cool and reduce the oven temperature to 180c.
  5. Slice the rhubarb into batons and toss in the caster sugar, lemon juice and zest and vanilla. Roast for 10-15 minutes in a high sided baking tray until the pieces are tender but still retain their shape. Set aside to cool and reduce the oven temperature to 120c.
  6. Chop up the white chocolate and scatter on a lined baking tray in an even layer. Place in the oven to allow the chocolate to melt for 10 minutes, then stir/turn and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Repeat this step 2-3 more times until the chocolate reaches a deep golden colour, then scrape into a bowl and mix in a splash of cream to loosen the consistency (it can get a little grainy at this stage so pass through a sieve if necessary). Leave to cool.
  7. Once the white chocolate has cooled, place in a bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment) and add in the cream and salt. Whisk until pipe-able.
  8. Slice the cooled choux nuts in half horizontally and pipe in a generous helping of caramelised white chocolate cream. Slice the roast rhubarb pieces thinly and arrange these on top of the cream, then pop the choux lid on top.
  9. For the pink icing, pour the cooking syrup from the rhubarb tray into the icing sugar and mix to create a smooth drizzle-like consistency (add in a little water if you don’t have enough syrup). Spoon this over the filled choux-nuts and garnish with edible petals and rhubarb ribbons.
Enjoy!

Spiced Hot Cross Bun Ice Cream

Uncategorized

Warm hot cross buns; spiced, zested and dripping in butter, are as synonymous with spring as blossom and Easter egg hunts. I find the flavour particularly nostalgic, so thought I’d apply it to one of my favourite things- ice cream. This is made up of a classic custard base (which I infused with cardamom, mixed spice and cinnamon), a buttered hot cross bun crumb and plump orange-soaked raisins. The result is so delicious we got through about 1.5l in three days (wouldn’t recommend this).

Ingredients

  • 400ml whole milk
  • 400ml double cream
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 10 cardamom pods, cracked
  • 1/2 fresh nutmeg, grated
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 85g caster sugar
  • 50g light brown soft sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 225g hot cross buns
  • 1tbsp demerara sugar
  • 2tbsp butter
  • 75g raisins
  • juice and zest 1 orange

Method

  1. You will need an ice cream churner for this recipe. If the bowl of your churner needs freezing, do this the day before.
  2. Pour the milk and cream into a large saucepan. Add the cinnamon stick, nutmeg, cardamom pods and mixed spice.
  3. Gently heat the milk to scalding point (just as it starts to simmer) then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 10-20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks, caster sugar, soft light brown sugar and salt. Once this mixture is voluminous and light, strain the milk through a sieve and add in in a steady stream, whisking constantly.
  5. Pour the custard into a large clean saucepan and heat very gently, stirring constantly, until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat, close cover and leave to cool completely.
  6. Preheat the oven to 190c. While the ice cream base is cooling, make the hot cross bun crumb. To do this simply blitz the hot cross buns into a coarse crumb, then tip into a large frying pan along with the butter and demerara sugar. Stir to coat the crumbs in the melted butter and once they begin to crisp, tip onto a lined baking tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool.
  7. Place the raisins in a small bowl along with the orange juice and zest. Leave them too plump up.
  8. Once your ice cream base is completely cool, churn it for about 10 minutes or until it’s starting to thicken. At this stage, add 3/4 of the hot cross bun crumb and most of the plumped raisins. Continue to churn until thick, then tip into a large lined container, top with the remaining crumb and raisins and freeze for at least 4 hours. At this point, it’s ready to serve.

Enjoy!

Quadruple Chocolate, Pistachio and Halva Cookies

Biscuits, Uncategorized

Soft, chewy, chocolate and rye cookie dough, molten chocolate chunks and nutty pockets of crumbled halva; all encased in a sea salt and pistachio crackle coating.

Ingredients (makes 18-22 cookies)

  • 250g soft, unsalted butter
  • 150g light brown soft sugar
  • 125g caster sugar
  • Sea salt
  • 2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 175g plain flour
  • 100g rye flour
  • 50g good quality cocoa powder
  • 3/4tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 150g roughly crumbled halva
  • 100g milk chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 100g white chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 125g pistachios, very finely chopped

Method

  1. Gently melt the butter in a saucepan then tip into a large mixing bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer). Allow it to cool for a few minutes then add in both sugars and a pinch of salt. Cream together until light and fluffy.
  2. Once creamed, add in the eggs and egg yolk one at a time, beating well between each addition. In a separate bowl, stir together both flours, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and cocoa powder. Add these dry ingredients into the wet, beating only until just combined (do not over mix).
  3. Now, using a wooden spoon, stir in the halva and all the chopped chocolate. Close cover with cling film and chill for at least 2 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line 2 large trays with baking paper (you will need to bake the cookies in batches). Tip the chopped pistachios into a large bowl and add a generous pinch of sea salt. Stir.
  5. Take your chilled cookie dough and create equal balls using an ice cream scoop. Roll each ball of dough in the pistachio crumb, then arrange on the baking trays (I usually bake about 4 per tray to allow for spreading).
  6. Bake each batch for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven, sharply tap the tray on a flat work surface and return to the oven for 2-3 minutes. Repeat the tap step once more and bake for a further 2-3 minutes, or until the cookies are crisping up at the edges but still very soft in the middle.
  7. Once baked, leave to firm up a little on the baking trays, then serve.

Enjoy!

Salted Chocolate Cake with Coffee Mascarpone & Hazelnut Praline Caramel

Cakes

I made this cake last weekend for my Dad’s birthday and it went down a storm. Granted, the flavours aren’t subtle and it’s not for the faint hearted (which neatly mirrors my Dad’s personality actually), but the punchy combination of bitter coffee, nutty hazelnut, rich but surprisingly light chocolate sponge and salted milk chocolate ganache just work (duh- that amount of cream, sugar, salt and chocolate is always going to be delicious).

Ingredients (serves 12-14)

For the hazelnut praline caramel

  • 100g blanched hazelnuts, toasted
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100ml double cream
  • Generous pinch sea salt

For the sponges

  • 375g plain flour
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 85g cocoa powder
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 2tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • large pinch sea salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 325ml milk
  • 175ml vegetable oil
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 325ml just boiled water
  • 2tsp instant coffee

For the salted milk chocolate ganache

  • 200g milk chocolate
  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 275ml double cream
  • Generous pinch sea salt

For the coffee mascarpone filling

  • 2tbsp instant coffee
  • 2tbsp caster sugar
  • 200g mascarpone
  • 100ml double cream

  1. Start off by making the hazelnut praline caramel.To do this simply place the caster sugar in a heavy bottom pan over a medium heat and swirl the pan until it melts. Once melted, up the heat until the sugar reaches a deep golden brown. At this stage add the toasted hazelnuts, stir to coat then tip onto a baking paper lined baking tray. Leave to set hard, then blitz into a paste. Set aside. Pour the cream into a saucepan and gently heat. Once the cream is gently simmering add in the praline paste and stir to create a caramel. Cook down for a few minutes until thickened, then set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line two 8 inch baking tins. Melt the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (or in the microwave in short stints, stirring often). Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl stir together the flour, caster sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. In a jug, lightly whisk the eggs, milk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the contents of the jug into it. Stir the wet and dry ingredients together until well combined then add the melted chocolate and stir again (I just use a balloon whisk for this- nothing electric is required as you don’t need to incorporate much air).
  4. Pour your just boiled water over the instant coffee granules and once they’ve dissolved, gradually add to the chocolate batter, stirring gently with your whisk as you go. The final cake batter will be very thin but don’t worry, it bakes beautifully.
  5. Split the mix evenly between the prepared tins and bake for 45-55 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean with a few moist crumbs attached). Once baked leave to cool completely in the tins.
  6. While the cakes are cooling make the ganache. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a saucepan until it meets scalding point then pour over the chocolate. Allow the cream to melt the chocolate for a few minutes then stir until smooth and glossy. Add salt to taste then set aside to cool.
  7. For the coffee mascarpone crush the coffee into a fine powder then just whisk together all the ingredients until smooth.
  8. When all the elements are cool you’re ready to assemble the cake. Your cakes will probably have a domed top, so trim these off then divide each one into two even layers (leaving you with 4 layers overall).
  9. Scrape the hazelnut praline caramel into a piping bag. Split the mascarpone into thirds. Spread one third of the mascarpone over the first sponge layer then pipe over a third of the caramel in a zigzag (so that each slice will have some caramel inside!). Repeat this step until you’ve used up the sponges, then rustically cover the whole cake in the thickened ganache.
  10. Garnish with edible dried flower petals.

Rhubarb, Rose and Halva ‘Cheesecake’ Pots (Vegan)

Uncategorized

These little dessert pots are really easy to throw together and make for a great plant based alternative to a conventional dairy cheesecake. The combination of sweet filling, salty crumble and tart but slightly floral rhubarb is delicious, and I love the contrasting textures too. Give them a try, and don’t hold back on the halva.

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

For the sesame crumble

  • 75g rye flour
  • 25g plain flour
  • 50g coconut oil, chilled
  • 50g demerara sugar
  • large pinch salt
  • 2tbsp white sesame seeds

For the roast rhubarb

  • 250g rhubarb
  • 2-3tbsp caster sugar
  • 1tbsp rose water

For the ‘cheesecake’ mix

  • 250g dairy free cream cheese
  • 100g dairy free yoghurt
  • 2tbsp caster sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Other ingredients

  • 100g plain halva
  • few dried rose petals (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  2. To make the crumble rub the coconut oil into the flours until the mix resembles coarse breadcrumbs, then stir through the sugar, salt and sesame seeds. Tip onto the prepared baking tray in one even layer and chill for 20 minutes (chilling will help keep any clumps of crumble together to create more texture once baked).
  3. Once chilled, bake the crumble for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown, turning occasionally. Set aside to crisp up while you prepare the other ingredients.
  4. Slice the rhubarb into 2 inch batons and toss in the sugar and rose water. Line a high sided roasting tray with greaseproof paper and arrange the rhubarb pieces over the base in one layer. Roast for 15 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender but still holding its shape. Roughly shred half the rhubarb to form a compote consistency and leave the rest in whole pieces. Set aside to cool.
  5. While the rhubarb is roasting, make the ‘cheesecake’ mix. To do this simply whisk together the dairy free cream cheese, dairy free yoghurt, sugar and lemon zest until smooth (it will be looser in consistency than a classic dairy cheesecake, but the flavour is very similar and it works really well in a pot with the other ingredients). Chill.
  6. When all the elements are cool, you’re ready to assemble. Start off by distributing the shredded rhubarb between the pots to cover the bases. Now fill the pots to 3/4 full with the cheesecake mix. Add a generous spoonful of crumble on top, then a baton or two of rhubarb. Finish with a good sprinkling of crumbled halva and garnish with rose petals, if you like.

 

Mocha Banana Bread (Vegan)

Cakes, Uncategorized

This vegan banana bread is perfect if you’re after maximum taste pay off in exchange for minimal effort; the method calls for just a mixing bowl and hand whisk and you’ll have it in the oven in less than 10 minutes. I add chunks of dark chocolate and a shot of espresso to my banana bread as it adds a great depth of flavour and slight bittersweet finish, but feel free to omit these (if you’re weird and don’t like my two favourite things).

Ingredients

  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 100ml dairy free yoghurt (I used Alpro plain)
  • 100ml nut milk (I used almond)
  • 3 very ripe bananas (roughly mashed) plus 1 extra banana (halved down the middle)
  • 2tbsp instant coffee granules dissolved in 2tbsp boiling water
  • 75g light brown soft sugar
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking power
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 150g 70% dark chocolate

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a large loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
  2. Place the oil, yoghurt, milk, mashed banana, both sugars and coffee in a bowl and whisk together. Now add in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and whisk again until you have a smooth batter. Roughly chop 100g of the dark chocolate and stir that in, reserving the rest. Scrape the batter into the prepared tin and arrange the banana halves on top.
  3. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until well risen, springy and golden. Once baked, leave to cool in the tin, then melt the remaining dark chocolate and drizzle over the top.

Enjoy!

Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate & Almond Butter Cookies (Vegan)

Biscuits

In the spirit of Veganuary, I thought I’d keep my recipes plant based this month. I’m not vegan myself, but am completely on board with reducing my consumption of animal products, so should probably reflect this in my baking. This week I tackled a home baking classic: the chocolate chip cookie. I’m pretty smug about the result; you would never guess they contained neither eggs nor dairy as the texture is buttery and chewy and the flavour rich, nutty and indulgent. Definitely give them a try, I’ve had great feedback from my (very willing) testers!

Ingredients

  • 150g coconut oil
  • 150g smooth almond butter
  • 75ml almond milk
  • 175g light brown soft sugar
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g rye flour
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 300g 70% dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 75g almonds, roughly chopped
  • Sea salt

Method

  1. Place the coconut oil, almond butter, almond milk, both sugars and vanilla in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (ensuring that the water does not touch the base of the bowl). Heat, stirring occasionally, until all the ingredients have melted to form a smooth mixture. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the rye flour, plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and a pinch of salt. Add in the wet ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until a soft dough has formed. Now evenly distribute 3/4 of the chocolate chunks and all the almonds through the dough. Chill for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 170c. Line 2 or 3 large baking trays with greaseproof paper. Using an ice cream scoop shape even balls of dough and arrange on the trays, allowing space for spreading ( I put up to 6 cookies on each tray). Take a couple of your reserved chocolate chunks and press into the top of each ball of dough, then sprinkle with some sea salt.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes, then carefully take the trays out and bang them sharply on a worktop. Pop them back in the oven for 3 minutes then repeat the bang technique before returning them to the oven for the final 3 minutes of baking. Once their time is up, bang once more and leave to cool. This technique is favoured by lots of bakers as it stops the cookies from puffing up too much and creates that wrinkly finish (you’ll probably need to bake the cookies in batches as this recipe will make 20-24).
  5. Leave the cookies to cool on the trays for at least half an hour before serving (unless you want a particularly warm and gooey cookie!).

Enjoy!

Tahini Crumble Mince Pies with Cardamom, Pomegranate and Orange

Uncategorized

In the old school spirit of stir up Sunday I thought now might be a good time to share my favourite mincemeat recipe (it’s not compulsory to make this on 25th November though, it will work just as well after a few days of maturing!). This is pretty classic in it’s foundations and I’ve been making it for a few years, but this year I’ve jazzed it up with some of my favourite Middle Eastern flavours (think pomegranate molasses, orange blossom, cardamom and pistachios). You could make traditional pastry-topped mince pies with this mincemeat, but I think it works really well with a tahini crumble topping- try it out!

Ingredients

For the mincemeat (makes about 1kg)

  • 275g sultanas
  • 100g dried apricots, diced
  • 100g dates, diced
  • 75g dried figs, diced
  • 50g mixed peel
  • 2 oranges, juice and zest
  • 1tbsp orange blossom extract
  • 2tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1-2tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 Bramley apples, peeled and diced
  • 200g vegetarian suet
  • 50g roughly chopped almonds
  • 50g roughly chopped walnuts
  • 75g roughly chopped pistachios
  • 150g Demerara sugar
  • 50g muscovado sugar
  • 200ml spiced rum

For the pastry (enough for 8 large, deep fill mince pies or 12 smaller mince pies)

  • 250g plain flour
  • 140g butter
  • Pinch salt
  • 2tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2tbsp milk

For the crumble topping

  • 50g tahini
  • 30g demerara sugar
  • 50g butter, cubed
  • 150g plain flour

Optional

  • 1tbsp icing sugar, for dusting

Method

  1. Ideally a week ahead of making the mince pies, make the mincemeat. To do this stir together all the ingredients except for the rum in a large bowl. Cover and leave the flavours to develop overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 120c. Tip the contents of the bowl into a deep roasting tray or oven-proof baking dish and cover with foil. Cook for 2 hours, turning gently every 45 minutes or so with a wooden spoon. Add in the rum and stir, then return to the oven, covered, for a further half an hour.
  3. Set the mincemeat aside and allow it to cool to room temperature, stirring a couple of times to keep everything well coated.
  4. Once the mincemeat has cooled down, store in well-sealed, sterilised jars. You can use the mincemeat at this stage, but if you can, leave it for a week or so for the flavours to intensify even more.
  5. When your mincemeat is ready to be used, make the pastry. Place the flour, butter, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs. At this stage add the egg yolks and milk and pulse again until the mix comes together in large lumps (alternatively, rub the butter into the flour, salt and sugar using your fingertips then stir in the yolks and milk using a cutlery knife). Tip the dough out and shape into a disc using your hands. Wrap in cling film and chill for 10 minutes.
  6. For the tahini crumble rub the butter and flour together until they resemble rough breadcrumbs, then stir through the sugar, tahini and sesame seeds.
  7. Grease your cupcake tray generously with butter. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to about 3mm thick and cut out circles to fit the cupcake holes (make sure your circles are big enough to create a deep mince pie- you want a generous amount of filling!). Push the pastry into the holes then fill with the mincemeat (in my large deep fill tray I put about 2 heaped tbsp of filling in each, but judge according to your tin).
  8. Top with a heaped tbsp of the crumble and bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the crumble crisp. Enjoy hot from the oven with a dusting of icing sugar and dollop of cream or brandy butter.

Pecan Pie Cheesecake with Brown Butter Pastry and a Caramel Core

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I’m under no illusion that this bake is a bit of a project and should probably come with a health warning, but I can honestly say that the the result it delivers is well worth the effort and extra 4539 calories (joking about the calories… although probably not far off). I’ve gone for a brown butter rye pastry in place of a biscuit base here, which might sound controversial (maverick), but it matches up to the nutty pecan topping really well and acts as a great textural contrast to the smooth, caramel-cored cheesecake filling. Give it a go, but be warned, it’s been described as ‘like crack’ by my eloquent taste-testers (who aren’t and never have been ‘on crack’, for the record).

Ingredients

For the base

  • 150g butter
  • 175g plain flour
  • 75g rye flour
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2tbsp milk

For the caramel core

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 25ml water
  • 50ml double cream
  • pinch sea salt
  • 2tbsp rum or bourbon (optional)

For the filling

  • 600g full fat cream cheese
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2tbsp corn flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 180ml soured cream
  • pinch salt

For the topping

  • 1 egg
  • 50g dark brown soft sugar
  • 3tbsp golden syrup or honey
  • 1tbsp butter, melted
  • 1tbsp plain flour
  • 100g pecan halves, lightly toasted

Method

  1. Start off by browning the butter for the pastry. To do this simply melt it in a pan until it’s gently foaming, smells nutty and is a light golden brown colour. At this stage pour the butter in a heatproof bowl and pop in the fridge or freezer to set hard.
  2. While the butter is firming up, make the caramel core. Place the sugar and water in a pan and gently heat until the sugar has completely dissolved and you are left with a clear syrup, then increase the heat and boil until it reaches a deep golden brown. Add in the cream (be careful as it will spit!) and stir for a further two minutes on the heat, then remove from the heat and add the salt and rum to taste. Set aside until needed.
  3. Back to the pastry; once your butter has firmed up, chop into cubes and tip into a food processor along with the flours, cinnamon and sugar. Pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs, then add in the milk and egg yolks. Pulse again a few times until the mix comes together in large lumps, then tip out onto your work surface and shape into a disc. Wrap in cling film and chill for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease a 2.5inch tall/ 8inch wide spring form cake tin with butter and place a disc of greaseproof paper in the base.
  4. Roll out the pastry to about 3mm thick on a floured work surface then line the prepared tin, pushing the pastry into the corners as you go (I actually find it easier to cut out a circle of pastry for the base and 2 long rectangles for the walls when I’m using a cake tin for pies and tarts- just make sure you blend the joins between the pieces together and don’t leave any gaps). Trim away any excess from the top of the tin, prick a fork all over the base (not all the way through) to prevent air bubbles, then chill for 10 minutes, or until very firm. If you like you can cut out some leaves for decoration at this stage.
  5. Once firm, line the pastry case with baking paper and fill with baking beans (ensuring that they come all the way to the top of the walls), then blind bake for about 15 minutes, or until the walls are supporting themselves. At this stage, remove the paper and beans and return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until the pastry is cooked through and golden. Set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 120c.
  6. For the cheesecake filling simply whisk together the cream cheese, sugar and corn flour until smooth, then add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Lastly, whisk in the soured cream and salt. Tip half of this mixture into the pastry case then drizzle over the caramel. Top with the remaining cheesecake mix (this should come to about an inch below the rim of the pastry case). Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the middle retains a little wobble. Set aside and allow to settle and cool down slightly. Increase the oven temperature to 170c.
  7. While the cheesecake is baking, mix together all the topping ingredients, except the pecans,until smooth. Once your cheesecake has cooled to a point where it’s no longer hot to the touch, arrange the pecan halves across the surface, then pour over the syrupy mixture. Return to the oven for 10-15 minutes until the topping has thickened slightly. Set aside to cool then chill to set up for at least 4 hours (ideally overnight). When you’re ready to serve, run a knife around the edge of the tin and gently release the cheesecake, then slice up and enjoy!