Although we’ve left lurid red glace cherries in the 1970s, it’s still unusual for cookie recipes to call for the fresh variety. With this in mind I had a little experiment with part-roasting fresh cherries in Amaretto before incorporating them into a chocolate-heavy salted cookie dough base (mostly to see if something went horribly wrong because I can’t think why else you wouldn’t opt for the real thing!); the result was delicious and I think the soft pockets of almond-infused cherry are far superior to the chewy dried sort, especially when paired with chunks of chocolate.
- 175g fresh cherries, halved and stones removed
- 3-4tbsp Amaretto
- 100g flaked almonds
- 225g soft unsalted butter
- 125g caster sugar
- 175g dark brown soft sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
- generous pinch sea salt salt, plus extra for sprinkling
- 150g plain flour
- 125g rye flour
- 150g milk chocolate, roughly chopped
- 100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 50g flaked almonds
- Preheat the oven to 180c. Place the cherry halves in a lined baking tray, then drizzle over the Amaretto. Toss to coat, then roast for 10-15 minutes or until soft. Set aside to cool.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Stir the dry ingredients together in a bowl (bicarbonate of soda, both flours and salt) then tip into the wet and stir until no streaks of flour remain.
- Add the chopped chocolate and mix until well distributed through the dough. Roughly chop the roast cherries, then tip those in too with any remaining cooking juices. Stir in briefly, trying not to break them up, then cover the dough with cling film and chill for 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Form balls of dough using an ice cream scooper and arrange on the tray, leaving lots of room for spreading.
- Sprinkle each cookie dough ball with flaked almonds, then bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden but still soft and chewy in the middle (bake in batches until the dough is used up. Alternatively freeze half the dough and save it for another time).
- Once baked, leave to cookies to firm up on a wire rack, then sprinkle with sea salt and serve.
No matter how many elaborate desserts or multi-step bakes I make, I will always have time for the humble brownie; there is something deeply satisfying about that fudgy melt-in-the-mouth core and crackly top, plus they are incredibly versatile- throw anything in (within reason) and you can guarantee a delicious result. These festive brownies are studded with orange-soaked sour cherries, pistachios and milk chocolate chunks, and hum with cardamom, cinnamon and mixed spice.
- Juice of 1 orange
- 100g roughly chopped sour cherries
- 250g butter, cubed
- 100g 80% dark chocolate
- 150g 70% dark chocolate
- 100g dark brown soft sugar
- 100g golden caster sugar
- 3 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
- large pinch sea salt
- 1tsp ground cardamom
- 1tsp ground mixed spice
- 1/2tsp ground cinnamon
- 100g plain flour
- 75g roughly chopped pistachios
- 150g roughly chopped milk chocolate
- Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a 22x22cm baking tin. Soak the sour cherries in the orange juice and set aside until required.
- Put the dark chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of gently simmering water. Leave to melt, stirring occasionally, then set aside to cool a little.
- Meanwhile beat together the sugars, salt, eggs and egg yolk in a stand mixer (or a large bowl) 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.
- 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 flour, salt and spices and do the same until you have a smooth, lump free batter. Now add the pistachios, chocolate chunks and cherries (strain away the orange juice) and stir through to evenly distribute.
- Tip the mix into the prepared tin and level off then bake for 25-30 minutes. 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 in the tin then remove, slice up and serve.
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.
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.