It might be winter, but there’s no reason why ice cream should be an indulgence reserved for the warmer months (especially when it tastes this good). This variety consists of a smooth and nutty peanut butter custard base and a generous helping of crunchy caramelised white chocolate, which is rippled through and sprinkled on the custard after churning. Side note, caramelising white chocolate in the oven is a game changer- it takes on a beautiful golden colour and intense butterscotch flavour; once cooled it can be broken into a crumble and used on just about anything!
Ingredients (makes about 1.5 litres)
- 200g white chocolate
- 250ml double cream
- 725ml whole milk
- 225g peanut butter (I’d usually always favour the crunchy variety, but use smooth for this!)
- Generous pinch sea salt
- 225g golden caster sugar
- 8 egg yolks
- a handful of peanuts, roughly chopped (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 140c. Before you make the peanut butter custard, caramelise the white chocolate. To do this break the chocolate into rough chunks and lay out on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Pop the tray in the oven for about half an hour, or until the chocolate is golden brown (it will look a little almost burnt, but don’t worry!). Set aside to cool while you make the custard.
- Pour the double cream and full fat milk into a large saucepan, bring to a boil then set aside. Whisk the sugar and egg yolk together in a large bowl until pale and thick, then gradually add the hot cream mixture followed by the peanut butter and salt then whisk again to combine.
- Return the mixture to a clean pan and set over a medium heat. Stir constantly until it thickens and reaches a custard consistency (or coats the back of a spoon- be careful not to overheat or the mixture will end up looking like scrambled eggs).
- Once the mixture has thickened, strain through a sieve and chill for an hour, then pour into an ice cream maker and churn for at least half an hour (or until very thick and creamy).
- While the ice cream is churning, break up the caramelised white chocolate into a coarse crumble then line a 1.5litre tub or loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
- When the ice cream is ready, scrape it into a bowl along with 2/3 of the white chocolate crumble. Ripple the chocolate through the ice cream with a large metal spoon, then tip it into the lined tub/tin and level out. Sprinkle the remaining white chocolate crumble on top and finish with the chopped peanuts. Cover and freeze until firm. Remove the ice cream from the freezer 10 minutes before you’d like to serve it, to make scooping easier.
First off, apologies for the brief recipe hiatus. I’ve recently moved house and have been trying to figure out the perfect temperature to bake with in my new (incredibly retro) gas oven. And no, it’s not been as simple as converting degrees to gas marks- this oven has its own special way of working (i.e. it’s lukewarm for the majority of settings until the last when it turns into Mordor and burns everything in sight). Anyway I think I’ve cracked it now, so here’s my first recipe a la 1980s oven; tahini and pistachio brownies. They’re really simple to make but deliver everything you’d expect from a really good brownie- a dense, moist texture with added crunch from the pistachios and a deep indulgent chocolate flavour, which is definitely enhanced by the slightly salty, nutty pockets of tahini and halva.
- 250g good quality dark chocolate
- 250g unsalted butter
- 250g golden caster sugar
- 4 eggs
- generous pinch sea salt
- 150g plain flour
- 100g milk chocolate, roughly chopped
- 50g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 75g chopped pistachios
- 100g halva, crumbled
- 100g tahini, well stirred
- Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a 22x22cm brownie tray.
- Place the dark chocolate and the butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (don’t allow the water to touch the base of the bowl or the chocolate will burn). Melt gently, stirring occasionally, then set aside to cool a little.
- In a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) whisk together the golden caster sugar and eggs until pale and voluminous (about 3-5 minutes). Fold in the cooled chocolate mixture followed by the sea salt and flour. Add the milk chocolate and dark chocolate chunks and most of the pistachios (reserve a few for sprinkling on the top) then stir.
- Tip half the brownie mix into the prepared tin then dollop over half the tahini and sprinkle on half the halva. Top with the rest of the brownie mix and repeat, then finish with the reserved pistachios.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the middle is almost set but retains a slight wobble. Set aside to cool completely in the tin.
- Once cooled, slice up and serve.
Layers of zesty elderflower sponge sandwiched together with tart gooseberry compote and lightly whipped elderflower cream make up this delicious nod to the British countryside. Bake it for a special mid-summer occasion or round off a Sunday lunch with a generous slice.
- 275g soft butter
- 275g caster sugar
- zest 1 lemon
- 5 eggs
- 275g self raising flour
- 3-4tbsp elderflower cordial
For the gooseberry compote:
- 500g fresh (or frozen and defrosted) gooseberries
- 75g caster sugar
- 50ml water
For the elderflower cream:
- 600ml double cream
- 4-5tbsp elderflower cordial
- 1-2tbsp icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line two 8 inch cake tins.
- Place the butter, sugar and zest in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and cream together until light, pale and fluffy.
- Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition to ensure they are fully incorporated. Now tip in the elderflower cordial and briefly mix once more to distribute it evenly through the batter.
- Sift over the flour and fold in with a large metal spoon. Split the mixture between the two prepared tins and level out. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
While the cakes are baking, make the gooseberry compote. Put the gooseberries, sugar and water in a saucepan and gently heat, stirring occasionally, until the fruits are soft and a loose compote has formed (10-15 minutes).
- When the cakes are ready, leave to cool completely in the tins. While they cool, make the elderflower cream. To do this simply whisk together the cream, cordial and sugar until soft peaks form.
- Once all your elements are cool, assemble the cake. Spread a generous layer of compote and several dollops of elderflower cream between each sponge, then finish with a few sprigs of elderflower for a simple, effortless summer pudding.
These fudgy brownies incite frenzied eating in my house; they barely saw the light of day when I made them last and half my family were out… It’s hardly surprising they are so addictive though- white chocolate matches brilliantly with fresh cherry compote (particularly when accompanied by a very generous glug of slightly unseasonal brandy).
For the compote:
- 300g cherries (stones removed)
- 2tbsp caster sugar
- 1tbsp water
- large glug brandy (this amount is totally down to your taste)
For the brownies:
- 300g dark chocolate
- 200g butter
- 2 eggs
- caster sugar
- 225g plain flour
- 200g white chocolate chunks
- Start by making the compote. Roughly chop the cherries. Place in a pan along with the sugar, water and brandy. Heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the cherries become soft and the syrupy liquid starts to thicken (about 10 minutes). Once the consistency is somewhat jam-like, taste and add more brandy if you like (you can leave out the brandy entirely if it’s not your jam- ha.). Set aside to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line a brownie tin (around 22x22cm is perfect).
- Place the butter and dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of gently simmering water (don’t let the water touch the base of the bowl). Stir occasionally and remove from the heat once melted together.
- Place the eggs and caster sugar in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) and beat together until well combined.
- Add the chocolate mixture to the bowl and fold in followed by the flour and 2/3 of the white chocolate chunks. Tip into the lined baking tin and level out.
- Dollop the compote all over the surface of the brownie and finish by sprinkling on the remaining white chocolate. Bake for 25-35 minutes until the top is set but the inside is moist and a little gooey.
- Allow the brownie to cool completely in the tin then slice up and serve.
These bars are the perfect grab and go treat to keep you going on a hectic day- I love my rhubarb and ginger jam sandwiched between the peanut butter flapjack and nutty topping, but you could choose any marmalade or jam in your version.
- 75g coconut oil
- 175g peanut butter (or another nut butter ie. almond, cashew)
- 150g dark brown soft sugar
- 4tbsp golden syrup
- 300g porridge oats
Filling and topping:
- 200g rhubarb and ginger jam (or your favourite jam- fig or raspberry would work well)
- 200g flaked almonds
- 75g pecans
- 75g brazil nuts
- 100g caster sugar
- 2tbsp water
- Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a brownie tray.
- For the base place the coconut oil, peanut butter, sugar and syrup in a saucepan. Melt together over a medium heat. Tip the oats into a large bowl and add the melted liquid. Stir together until well combined then pack down into the prepared baking tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
- For the topping, heat the caster sugar and water together over a medium heat. Allow the sugar to dissolve then pour into a bowl along with all the nuts. Stir together to coat.
- Now you can assemble the next layers. Spread the jam all over the flapjack base and spoon on the nuts in an even layer. Press down the top then bake for 15-20 minutes, until the nuts are golden brown.
- Cool then slice into bars.
This dense, fudgy cake topped with a generous sweep of thick milk chocolate ganache is best enjoyed on the sofa with a good film, strong coffee and warm blanket (I’m fantasising about this right now as the fluke sunny day we enjoyed last week is a distant memory and it’s currently blowing a gale). Don’t be put off by the beetroot- the earthy flavour mellows through baking and brings moisture and richness to the cake.
For the cake:
- 325g dark chocolate (melted)
- 4 eggs, separated
- 275g grated raw beetroot
- 175g caster sugar
- 125g ground almonds
- 2tsp baking powder
- 25g cocoa powder
- pinch salt
For the ganache:
- 250g milk chocolate
- 150ml double cream
- Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.
- Place the melted dark chocolate, egg yolks, grated beetroot, caster sugar, ground almonds, baking powder and cocoa powder in a large mixing bowl. Stir together until combined.
- Put the egg whites in another bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) and whisk, together with the salt, until they have formed stiff (but not dry) peaks. Add a large spoonful of the whites into the beetroot mixture and stir in to loosen.
- Add the remaining whites and carefully fold with a large metal spoon, ensuring you keep as much of the air in as possible. Once the mix is combined, carefully tip into the prepared cake tin (not from a height or you will lose some of the air you’ve worked in!).
- Level out the mixture then bake for 45-55 minutes, until well risen and a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
- Set the cake aside and make the ganache. To do this simply chop up the chocolate and transfer to a bowl, then heat the cream to just below boiling and pour directly onto the chocolate. Leave to melt for a couple of minutes then stir together until smooth and glossy. Leave to cool.
- Once everything is cool, cover the cake in the ganache and decorate as desired. I used some purple violas, handmade beetroot crisps, herbs and chocolate shards.
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
- pinch salt
- 100g cocoa powder
- 250g plain flour
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3 eggs
- 225ml milk
For the brown sugar sponge:
- 4 eggs
- 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
- 5tbsp milk
For the ganache:
- 100g dark chocolate
- 100g milk chocolate
- 200ml double cream
For the salted caramel:
- 150g caster sugar
- 150ml water
- pinch salt (to taste)
- 75ml double cream
For decoration (optional):
- chopped peanuts
- chocolate shards
- chopped Snickers bars
- thin ganache to create drips
- excess caramel
- 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 cookies are big, chewy and packed full of dark chocolate chunks and stem ginger pieces; better still, they’re so easy to make and you can make the dough ahead of time and freeze it for future use!
Ingredients (makes 15-20):
- 200g plain flour
- 50g cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- pinch salt
- 150g caster sugar
- 150g dark brown soft sugar
- 2tbsp ginger syrup
- 175g butter, melted
- 1 egg and 1 egg yolk
- 300g dark chocolate chunks
- 100g chopped stem ginger
- Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper.
- Sift the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and caster sugar into a large mixing bowl. In a jug, mix together the dark brown soft sugar, melted butter, ginger syrup, egg and egg yolk.
- Pour the mixed wet ingredients into the dry. Beat with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth cookie dough.
- Add the chocolate chunks and chopped stem ginger and knead briefly into the dough.
- Take a tablespoon of the cookie dough and roll into a ball. Repeat until you have used it all up then line onto trays and press down with the palm of your hand. Chill for 20 minutes and preheat the oven to 190c.
- Once the cookies have firmed up a bit, bake for 10-12 minutes. Leave to cool on the trays (they will be soft when you take them out of the oven but will become chewy after cooling) then display on a platter and serve!
Meringue is a guaranteed crowd pleaser throughout the year, whether you enjoy it torched on top of lemon meringue pie or piled high with summer fruits as the base of a retro pavlova. Though these classic forms of meringue are delicious, I thought I’d try out a brown sugar variation for a richer flavour; they worked brilliantly and the brown sugar adds a deep molasses kick which pairs really well with rum caramel sauce, caramelised bananas, peanuts and creme fraiche.
Ingredients (makes 6-8 large meringues):
For the meringues:
- 225g dark brown soft sugar
- 50g caster sugar
- 4 large egg whites
- pinch salt
For the rum sauce:
- 200g granulated sugar
- 50ml water
- 40g butter
- 75ml double cream
- pinch salt
- 2-3 tbsp dark rum
For the caramelised banana:
- 100g caster sugar
- 25g butter
- 2 bananas
For the toppings:
- chopped peanuts
- some creme fraiche
- Preheat the oven to 120c. Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper.
- Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water and add the brown sugar and egg whites. Whisk with electric beaters until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is voluminous and hot to the touch.
- Remove the bowl from the heat and keep whisking. Add the caster sugar a tablespoon at a time and increase the speed on your beaters. Whisk until you have stiff peaks.
- Pile the meringue into nests on the prepared baking trays. Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Switch the oven off when you can easily peel the meringues off the paper and they are crisp. Leave in the oven to cool for an hour.
- While the meringues are cooling make the caramel. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar has dissolved bring to a boil and allow to turn into a deep caramel colour. Remove from the heat and add the cream, butter and salt. Whisk until smooth (it will spit). Allow the sauce to cool slightly then add the rum. Taste and add more if you feel it needs it (hardcore). Set aside.
- For the bananas, place the sugar in a heavy bottom pan. Heat, allowing the sugar to melt. Swirl occasionally but do not stir. Take the sugar to a golden colour and add the butter (it will spit). Stir together then add the banana pieces. Cook for a few minutes then turn over and remove from the pan.
- To assemble top the meringues with creme fraiche, followed by the bananas, sauce and peanuts.
I’ve made a chocolate and orange blossom variation of these biscuits before and they were so popular I thought I’d experiment with another flavour. This time I’ve gone for lightly flavoured lemon biscuits (which are super crumbly and melt-in-your-mouth) sandwiched together with lemon buttercream and a really zingy lemon curd; the end result is (unsurprisingly) zesty and really delicious- give them a try.
Ingredients (makes 8-10 sandwiches):
- 175g soft butter
- 60g icing sugar
- 60g corn flour
- 185g plain flour
- zest 1 lemon
For the lemon curd: 100g caster sugar, 2 lemons (juice and zest), 50g butter, 1 egg, 1 egg yolk
For the lemon buttercream: 65g soft butter, 175g icing sugar, juice and zest 1 lemon
- Preheat the oven to 160c. Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper.
- Cream together the butter, icing sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Sift in the corn flour and plain flour then briefly mix until a dough forms (don’t over mix or you won’t achieve that melty texture you’re after in the final biscuit).
- Take the dough a tablespoon at a time and roll into balls. Line onto the prepared baking trays and press down with the back of a fork to create a lined texture. Chill for half an hour.
- While the biscuits are chilling make the lemon curd. To do this place the sugar, lemon juice, zest and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of gently simmering water. Stir occasionally, allowing the butter to melt. Once the butter has melted allow to cool slightly then add in the egg and egg yolk. Whisk together.
- Set the bowl back over the pan and gently mix for about 10 minutes until the heat thickens the curd. Remove from the heat and cool.
- Once your biscuits have chilled and are firm, bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool on the trays.
- While the biscuits are cooling, make the buttercream. Whisk the butter up to lighten then gradually add the icing sugar and beat until you have a fluffy texture. Add in the lemon juice and zest then briefly whisk to combine.
- When the biscuits are cooled, pair them up. Pipe a ring of buttercream on one and spoon some lemon curd into the middle. Sandwich together with the other biscuit.