This tart (using ‘tart’ as a loose term for this- there’s no pastry or baking involved) is so easy to put together but makes for a really delicious plant based dessert. The crunchy base is laced with tahini and sesame seeds so the earthy flavour really comes through, and the filling has a savoury note thanks to miso paste, and is super smooth and creamy courtesy of my favourite plant based brand- Oatly.
100g dark chocolate
1tbsp maple syrup
large pinch sea salt
100g sesame seeds
50g finely chopped mixed nuts (I used cashews and pistachios)
225g dark chocolate
30g vegan butter (I used Stork)
300ml Oatly cream alternative
3tbsp maple syrup
large pinch sea salt
3tbsp white miso paste
75g sesame seeds
100g caster sugar
Grease and line an 8 inch cake tin. For the base, place the chocolate, tahini, maple and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (don’t allow the base of the bowl to touch the water or the chocolate may burn). Gently melt all the ingredients together then stir through the sesame seeds and chopped nuts. Scrape this mixture into the lined cake tin and spread out into one even layer. Place this in the fridge to set for at least 30 minutes.
For the filling, roughly chop the chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl along with the vegan butter. Set aside. Put the Oatly cream, maple, salt and miso paste in a saucepan and, stirring often, heat to just below boiling point. Pour this mixture over the chocolate and butter and allow it to sit for a moment before stirring together to form a smooth glossy ganache. Let this cool then pour it over the chilled base. Transfer to the fridge again and chill for another hour or until set.
While the tart is chilling, make the sesame shards. Before you start, place a piece of greaseproof paper on a large baking tray. Now put the sugar in a small saucepan. Allow the sugar to melt, swirling the pan occasionally, then, once the caramel is golden take off the heat, stir in the sesame seeds and spread into an even layer on the greaseproof paper. Leave to cool and harden, then break into shards.
Slice up the tart and serve with shards of sesame caramel and a sprinkling of sea salt.
Jammy baked figs, warming spices and a slightly nutty, salty-sweet sauce; it’s seasonal bakes like this which make the transition from Summer to Autumn that bit easier (even when the rain is unrelenting, my holiday a distant memory and the sky an ominous shade of purple-grey).
Brown butter caramel
200g caster sugar
100ml double cream
good pinch salt
Spiced fig cake (makes one 8 inch cake)
175g soft unsalted butter
100g light brown soft sugar
75g caster sugar
zest 1 lemon
175g self raising flour
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp mixed spice
1/2tsp ground cardamom
1/4tsp freshly ground black pepper
1tbsp demerara sugar
Start by making the caramel. Place the butter in a pan and melt down over a low heat. Once melted, increase the heat and foam until browned. Pour into a bowl and leave to cool.
Tip the caster sugar into a heavy bottomed pan and heat gently, swirling occasionally (but not stirring) until it melts. Increase the heat until the caramel reaches a deep golden brown, then add the browned butter and stir (take care, it will spit a little). Once the butter is well incorporated add the cream and stir. Cook for a further couple of minutes until slightly thickened, then add the salt to taste.
Preheat the oven to 170c and grease/line an 8 inch baking tin. Place the butter and sugars in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and cream until light and fluffy. Add the eggs in one at a time, beating well between each addition (add a little of the flour here if the mix looks like it might curdle). Mix in the lemon zest and milk.
Add the flour, spices and salt to the bowl and fold in with a large metal spoon. Dice 2/3 of the figs and fold those into the mixture too, then scrape it all into the prepared tin. Slice the remaining figs into 6ths and arrange on top of the cake, then sprinkle over the demerara sugar.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
Once baked, leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove and transfer to a wire rack. You can serve this cold or warm (I prefer the latter), but either way, warm up the caramel just before serving and drizzle all over the cake slices.
Another iteration of my all-time favourite bake, this time with fresh raspberries offset by oozing pockets of burnt butter caramel (inspired by Chin Chin Lab’s burnt butter caramel nitro ice cream). Brownies might not seem like the obvious thing to make mid-summer, but as these are studded with some token summer berries and can therefore be deemed seasonal, you should probably make them.
For the caramel
100g caster sugar
60ml double cream
For the brownie
150g 80% dark chocolate
100g 70% dark chocolate
3 eggs, 1 egg yolk
100g light brown soft sugar, 75g caster sugar
Generous pinch salt
100g rye flour
100g good quality milk chocolate, roughly chopped
250g fresh raspberries
Start off by making the caramel. To do this place the sugar in a saucepan and heat gently. Meanwhile, place the butter in a small pan and melt until just past browned (it should be foaming and have little brown specks in the bottom), then take off the heat.
At this point the sugar will have started to dissolve. Swirl the pan until the sugar melts entirely, then allow it to reach a deep golden brown colour. Now add in the burnt butter and cream, stirring until it comes together. Remove from the heat and add the salt. Pour the caramel into a baking paper-lined container and leave to firm up for around half an hour. Preheat the oven to 180c and line a brownie tin with baking paper.
While the caramel is setting, make the brownie batter. Roughly chop the dark chocolate and tip into a heatproof bowl. Place the butter in a saucepan and heat gently until melted. Up the heat and brown until foaming (as before), then pour directly over the chocolate. Let it sit for a moment, then stir to create a smooth glossy mixture.
Meanwhile, place the eggs and egg yolk, both sugars and salt in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and beat until pale and voluminous.
Pour the chocolate down the side of the bowl and fold in, then add the flour and fold again.
Chop the set caramel into rough pieces and set aside. Scape half the brownie batter into the lined tin and level out. Evenly distribute half the caramel pieces, chocolate chunks and raspberries then scrape over the remaining chocolate. Repeat the process with the caramel, chocolate and raspberries then bake for 25-35 minutes or until crisp and flaky on top but still fudgy (with a slight wobble) in the middle.
Leave to cool completely in the tin then slice up an serve.
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
100g plain flour
pinch of salt
For the filling
250g white chocolate (make sure it’s at least 30% cacao)
300ml double cream
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)
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ripe, pink fleshed figs are one of my very favourite fruits and pair brilliantly with so many other ingredients, from goats cheese and honey to cured hams and walnuts. In this cake I have used dried figs soaked in tea ( a method commonly used with dates to make sticky toffee pudding) to flavour the spiced sponge, then added a salty sweetness with the caramel drizzle and finished it off with a tangy mascarpone cheese icing, earthy pistachio praline and slices of fresh fig. Though the finished cake makes for a really beautiful centre piece, you could also enjoy it as a warm pudding with the salted caramel and a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.
For the sponge:
300g dried figs, chopped
325ml hot black tea
185g soft butter
275g light brown soft sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
375g self raising flour
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp ground cinnamon
pinch black pepper
For the salted caramel (this is a sort of cheats caramel- a bit like butterscotch sauce):
50g golden syrup
50g light brown soft sugar
50ml double cream
pinch sea salt
For the pistachio praline:
150g caster sugar
200g shelled pistachios
For the mascarpone icing:
300ml double cream
3-4tbsp icing sugar
fresh figs and herbs
Preheat the oven to 170c fan (325F/ gas mark 3). Grease and line a deep square tin (around 22x22cm).
Place the chopped dry figs in a bowl or jug and pour over the hot tea. Leave to infuse while you start making the cake batter.
In a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) cream together the butter and sugar along with the vanilla until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.
Once the eggs are incorporated, sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt. Fold until the batter is smooth and all the ingredients are well combined then tip in your soaked figs (along with the tea) and fold once more.
Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and level off. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs attached when inserted.
While your cake is baking, make the salted caramel. To do this simply pop the butter, syrup, sugar and cream in a saucepan and melt together. Once melted bring to the boil and let it bubble for a couple of minutes, then remove from the heat, add the salt to taste and leave to cool.
Next, make the pistachio praline topping. Line a tray with greaseproof paper and put the sugar and pistachios in a heavy bottom pan. Heat gently until the sugar starts melting. Swirl the pan occasionally to coat the pistachios and prevent burning. Once the sugar has completely melted increase the heat and turn the pistachios with a wooden spoon until the caramel reaches a deep golden colour, then tip onto the prepared tray and leave to set hard.
Lastly, make the mascarpone icing. In a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment) whisk together the mascarpone, cream and icing sugar until you have a spreadable (but not overly whipped) consistency.
Once your cake is baked, prick lots of holes all over the surface and pour on about 2/3 of the salted caramel, allowing it to sink into the sponge. Leave to cool in the tin.
When your cake is completely cool you’re ready to decorate. Spread the mascarpone icing in an even layer all over the top and sides (or just the top if you like, it’s up to you!) and smooth with a palette knife. Use the remaining cooled caramel to drizzle down the sides then crush up the praline and sprinkle around the edges. Arrange the fresh fig slices on top and add some woody herbs (such as rosemary) for colour.
Alternating layers of brown sugar cake and chocolate sponge sandwiched with peanut buttercream, chopped peanuts, salted caramel sauce and chocolate ganache make up this look-at-me celebration cake (and ode to the Snickers bar)… A bit of a project? Yes. Worth it? Definitely!
For the chocolate sponge:
50g dark chocolate (melted and cooled)
250g soft butter
250g soft light brown sugar
100g cocoa powder
250g plain flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
For the brown sugar sponge:
165g dark brown soft sugar
150g self raising flour
20g melted butter
60ml boiling water
For the peanut buttercream:
150g smooth peanut butter
100g soft butter
500g icing sugar
For the ganache:
100g dark chocolate
100g milk chocolate
200ml double cream
For the salted caramel:
150g caster sugar
pinch salt (to taste)
75ml double cream
For decoration (optional):
chopped Snickers bars
thin ganache to create drips
Preheat the oven to 160c. Grease and line two 7 inch cake tins ready for the chocolate cake layers.
To make the chocolate cake, cream together the butter, sugar and salt.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.
Now sift in about two thirds of the cocoa, flour and baking powder. Fold, then incorporate the melted chocolate with the same gentle action.
Fold in the rest of the dry ingredients followed by the milk. Distribute this batter between the two cake tins and bake for 30 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted).
Cool the cakes in the tins for 10 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.
Line the cake tins again and increase the oven temperature to 170c. Now you’re ready to make the brown sugar sponge layers!
To make this sponge place the eggs and sugar in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) then whisk until light and voluminous (about 10 minutes). Sift in the flour and fold, then add the melted butter and boiling water to the side of the bowl. Fold very gently to retain the air then distribute between the tins. Bake for 25-30 minutes until springy (or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted).
When the brown sugar sponges are cooked, cool in the tins for 10 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. You should now have four cake layers (two chocolate and two brown sugar) and are ready to make the fillings.
Start off by making the caramel. Just place the sugar and water in a heavy bottom saucepan and gently heat to dissolve the sugar (do not boil or stir, just be patient!). After the sugar has dissolved increase the heat and boil for a few minutes; once the syrup reaches a deep amber colour remove from the heat and whisk in the cream (be careful as it will spit a little). Set aside to cool slightly then stir in the salt.
For the ganache simply chop up the chocolate and transfer to a jug or bowl. Heat the cream to just below boiling point and pour all over, allowing the chocolate to slowly melt. After a couple of minutes, stir the mixture to achieve a lovely smooth, glossy consistency. Set aside.
Finally, for the peanut buttercream beat the peanut butter and butter together with electric beaters (or a stand mixer). Once well combined continue whisking while you add the icing sugar a little at a time. Once you’ve added all the icing sugar increase the speed and add the milk; whisk until very light, fluffy and smooth.
To assemble the cakes stack a chocolate layer with ganache and salted caramel, followed by a brown sugar layer. Repeat this process then cover the entire cake with peanut butter icing. You can be as neat as you like! Decorate with peanuts, Snickers pieces and chocolate shards (more is more in this case!).
These Snickers cookies sandwiched together with peanut buttercream and caramel sauce are the ultimate indulgence- you must try them!
For the cookies:
225g soft butter
125g caster sugar
175g dark brown soft sugar
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
300g plain flour
4 chopped Snickers bars
100g dark chocolate chips
For the caramel filling: 40g butter, 40g dark brown sugar, 40g golden syrup, 50ml double cream
For the peanut butter filling: 300g icing sugar, 50g butter, 50g peanut butter, few drops of milk
Preheat the oven to 180c and line 2 large baking trays with greaseproof paper.
Cream together the butter, brown sugar and caster sugar with an electric whisk or stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and some of the flour then whisk again to incorporate them into the mix. Add the remaining flour and bicarbonate of soda. Mix again.
Add the chopped snickers bars and chocolate chips then fold in with a wooden spoon.
Roll the cookie dough into small even balls (slightly smaller than a ping pong ball) and line onto the baking trays (allowing space for spreading).
Bake for 10-12 minutes. Once cooked allow to cool on the trays while you make the fillings.
For the caramel, melt together the butter, sugar and syrup. Once melted, bring to the boil then add the cream off the heat. Stir and allow to cool and thicken.
To make the peanut butter buttercream, whisk the butter until light and fluffy. Add the peanut butter and briefly whisk together, then add the icing sugar gradually, whisking constantly until you have a light buttercream. Add some milk if the frosting is too stiff to achieve the desired pipe-able consistency.
Now it’s time to assemble your cookie sandwiches! Just take a cookie, pipe a ring of peanut buttercream around the edge, fill it with caramel and pair up with another cookie to form a sandwich.