Sesame, Miso and Chocolate Tart (Vegan)

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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.

Ingredients

Base

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 75g tahini
  • 1tbsp maple syrup
  • large pinch sea salt
  • 100g sesame seeds
  • 50g finely chopped mixed nuts (I used cashews and pistachios)

Filling

  • 225g dark chocolate
  • 30g vegan butter (I used Stork)
  • 300ml Oatly cream alternative
  • 3tbsp maple syrup
  • large pinch sea salt
  • 3tbsp white miso paste

Sesame shards

  • 75g sesame seeds
  • 100g caster sugar

Method

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Slice up the tart and serve with shards of sesame caramel and a sprinkling of sea salt.

Melting Chocolate and Clementine Snowflakes with Salted Cardamom Honeycomb

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I’m not usually one for novelty shapes but when Nordic Ware sent me a six hole snowflake baking tin I couldn’t resist (it is Christmas after all). Chocolate fondants never fail to make me happy so I thought a simple festive twist on the classic melt-in-the-middle puddings was in order; the snowflakes themselves taste predominantly of dark chocolate, spiked with a little clementine zest, but the honeycomb really makes for a well rounded dessert full of flavour and texture. Add ice cream too for optimum indulgence.

Ingredients

Makes 6-8 puddings

  • 1-2tbsp cocoa powder, for dusting
  • 140g 70% dark chocolate
  • 140g butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 140g golden caster sugar
  • 3 eggs, 2 egg yolks
  • 125g plain flour
  • Zest 3 clementines

For the honeycomb

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1tsp ground cardamom
  • pinch salt
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda

Method

  1. Brush the moulds inside with melted butter then coat in cocoa powder, tap out any excess and set aside.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, then leave to cool a little.
  3. Place the eggs, yolks, sugar and clementine zest in a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment and whisk until pale and thick.
  4. Add the flour and mix together briefly, then add the chocolate mix, a quarter at a time. Mix well between each addition. Split the mix between the moulds then chill for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  5. Meanwhile, make the honeycomb. To do this line a medium high sided baking tray with baking paper then place the sugar, syrup, salt and ground cardamom in a small saucepan. Heat until the sugar has dissolved and you have a golden, slightly simmering liquid, then add the bicarbonate of soda, remove from the heat and mix (just a few seconds, until the bicarbonate of soda has disappeared.). It will rise up quickly and go foamy. Tip into the prepared tin and leave to set hard.
  6. Take the puddings from the fridge and bake for 9-11 minutes for the perfect saucy middle. Break up the honeycomb and serve a few shards with each pudding.

 

Winter Citrus Pavlova with Dark Chocolate and Spice

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Pavlova is a Great British classic, and although we usually associate it with summer days and strawberries, it’s a really versatile dessert which can be adapted for any time of year simply by changing up the seasonal fruit toppings. I love this variety as the fresh winter citrus and spiced mascarpone combined with a pop of pomegranate makes for a fresh alternative to a heavy Christmas pudding; perfect after a mammoth Turkey feast.

Ingredients

For the meringue

  • 6 large egg whites
  • 300g golden caster sugar
  • 75g dark brown soft sugar 
  • 1tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1tsp corn flour

For the toppings

  • 400ml double cream
  • 200g mascarpone
  • 4or 5 clementines, zest and flesh
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3-4tbsp icing sugar
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 100g pomegranate seeds
  • 75g pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 5-6 figs, sliced (optional)
  • Thyme and rosemary, to garnish (optional)

Method

    1. Preheat the oven to 160c. Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper.
    2. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment. Whisk to medium peaks and start adding the sugar, a spoonful at a time. Once all the sugar (both brown and caster) has been added whisk until stiff peaks form and you’ve got a glossy, non-granular meringue. Stir the corn flour and white wine vinegar together in a small cup and mix into the meringue.
    3. Pile the meringue onto the prepared baking tray and roughly spread into a 30x20cm rectangle. I think the more wild and asymmetric the better. Place the tray in the oven and reduce the temperature to 120c immediately. Cook for 1 hour or until the outside is crisp, then turn the oven off and leave to cool in there for at least an hour (this prevents the meringue cracking too much which can happen when the temperature suddenly changes).
    4. Once cooled, set aside and prepare the toppings. For the cream, whisk together the mascarpone, cream, clementine zest, ground cardamom, ground cinnamon and icing sugar.
    5. Meanwhile melt the dark chocolate gently in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Slice the clementine flesh into rounds.
    6. To assemble the pavlova pile the cream onto the meringue, then arrange the clementine pieces and figs (if using) on top. Drizzle over the dark chocolate then sprinkle on pomegranate seeds and chopped pistachios. Finish with sprigs of rosemary and thyme, if using.

 

 

Hand Rolled Chocolate Truffles, 3 Ways

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Hand rolled chocolate truffles are the perfect homemade gift for Christmas, and are fun to make with kids too (although obviously omit the alcohol if they’re going to be enjoying them!). Below is my base recipe, which can be adapted and altered to create infinite flavours. I’ve listed three of my favourite varieties below; spiced apple and hazelnut liqueur, tahini, pistachio and clementine and coffee liqueur and smoked salt. These will last for at least a week in the fridge, but are great to freeze for up to 3 months (pre-coating).

Base recipe for plain chocolate truffles (makes 16-20)

  • 200ml double cream 
  • 60g light brown soft sugar 
  • 225g dark chocolate
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • pinch salt

Method

  1. Roughly chop the dark chocolate and butter then place in a heatproof bowl.
  2. Heat the cream and sugar in a pan until the sugar has dissolved and the cream just comes to scalding point, then pour all over the chocolate and butter. Leave to stand for a minute or so then stir together until smooth. Stir in salt to taste then leave to cool to room temperature before chilling for at least 2 hours.
  3. Once the mix is firm, remove from the fridge and stand for 20 minutes, then scoop up balls, hand roll and dip in any coatings you fancy. 

Apple and Hazelnut Liqueur 

  • 600ml apple juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick, cracked
  • 3 cloves
  • 150ml double cream
  • 40g light brown soft sugar
  • 3-4tbsp hazelnut liqueur
  • 50g butter
  • 225g dark chocolate
  • pinch salt
  • 100g toasted crushed hazelnuts, to coat

Method

  1. Place the apple juice in a pan and boil until thick and syrupy (you’ll be left with around 50-100ml). Set the apple syrup aside to cool a little then add in the cream, sugar, cinnamon stick and cloves. Stir and leave to infuse for half an hour, then bring up to scalding point and pour (straining out the spices) all over the chocolate and butter. Leave to stand for a minute or so then stir together until smooth. Add hazelnut liqueur and salt to taste then leave to cool to room temperature. 
  2. Follow the same cooling and rolling steps as in the base recipe, then finish by coating in the crushed hazelnuts.

 

Pistachio, Clementine and Tahini 

  • 150ml double cream
  • Zest 3 clementines and the juice of 2 
  • 60g light brown soft sugar
  • 225g dark chocolate
  • 75g tahini
  • pinch salt
  • 100g toasted crushed pistachios, to coat

Method

  1. Roughly chop the dark chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl along with the tahini.
  2. Place the double cream, clementine zest and juice and sugar in a saucepan and heat to scalding point until the sugar has dissolved. Pour all over the chocolate and tahini. Follow the same stirring, cooling and rolling steps as in the base recipe, then finish by coating in the crushed pistachios.

 

Smoked Salt and Coffee Liqueur

  • 200ml double cream
  • 80g light brown soft sugar
  • 225g dark chocolate
  • 50g butter
  • 3-4tbsp coffee liqueur
  • Large pinch smoked salt 
  • 4tbsp cocoa powder

Method

  1. Roughly chop the dark chocolate and butter and place in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream and sugar in a pan until the sugar has dissolved and the cream just comes to scalding point, then pour all over the chocolate and butter. Leave to stand for a minute or so then stir together until smooth.
  2. Add a generous amount of smoked salt and coffee liqueur to taste and then follow the stirring and cooling steps then coat in cocoa powder and extra smoked salt, if you like.

Coffee Halva, Pear and Walnut Loaf Cake with Salted Tahini Butter

Cakes

It’s no secret that I love anything laden with sesame, so was thrilled when Sesame Kingdom sent me some of their delicious coffee halva, halva spread and tahini. I’m going to incorporate each of the products into a bake, and thought I’d start off with the halva, which I’ve used in brownies, ice cream and chocolate cakes before. I thought this time it made sense to try it out with some seasonal fruit and nuts and it works really well in this understated loaf format (especially warm, thickly sliced and smothered in salted tahini butter!).

Ingredients

  • 175g soft unsalted butter
  • 100g light brown soft sugar
  • 75g golden caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2tbsp instant coffee, dissolved in 2tbsp just-boiled water
  • 175g self raising flour
  • pinch salt
  • 75g walnuts
  • 2 Conference pears, peeled and diced
  • 150g coffee halva, mine was by Sesame Kingdom (plain would work too)

For the tahini butter

  • 75g butter
  • 75g tahini
  • large pinch salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line a large loaf tin. 
  2. Place the butter and both sugars in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and cream together until pale and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition and adding a small amount of the flour if the mix looks like it may curdle. 
  3. Fold in the remaining flour, salt and coffee using a large metal spoon. Add 2/3 of the walnuts and pear pieces and fold again. Scrape half of the batter into the tin then sprinkle over half of the halva. Add the remaining batter then top with the last of the halva, walnuts and pear pieces.
  4. Bake for 34-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
  5. Beat the butter, salt and tahini together until light. Serve the loaf warm with a generous helping of tahini butter.

 

Maple Pecan Brownies

Chocolate

These Autumnal brownies start with my usual base of good quality chocolate, rye flour and browned butter, but I’ve added a salted maple pecan crumble (for want of a better word) into them for a nod to Thanksgiving (I’m based in the UK but we’re adopting Thanksgiving flavours and traditions more every year!).

Ingredients

  • 200g pecans
  • 4tbsp maple syrup, I used Billingtons Amber Maple
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 250g good quality dark chocolate (70%)
  • 3 eggs, 1 egg yolk
  • 100g light brown soft sugar
  • 75g caster sugar
  • large pinch of salt, plus more for finishing
  • 100g rye flour

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease a large brownie tin and line with greaseproof paper.
  2. Place the pecans in a dry pan and toast for a few minutes, then add the maple and a pinch of salt and toss to coat. Stir for a few minutes on the heat until the nuts are sticky then tip onto a piece of greaseproof paper to cool.
  3. Once cooled, whizz the nuts into a rough crumb (it will be quite moist).
  4. Roughly chop the chocolate and tip into a heatproof bowl. Place the butter in a saucepan set over a medium heat and once melted, up the heat and wait for it to foam and smell nutty. Once you reach this stage, pour it over the chocolate. Leave it to sit for a moment then stir together to form a glossy mix.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, yolk and both sugars until pale and voluminous (this is what gives you a glossy crisp top). Tip the chocolate down the side of the bowl and add the flour, then fold until everything is well combined.
  6. Tip half the brownie batter in the prepared tin, then evenly distribute the pecan crumb on top, followed by the remaining batter. Sprinkle with salt and bake for 25-30 minutes. When they’re ready, leave to cool completely then slice up and serve.

Spiced Fig Cake with Brown Butter Caramel Sauce

Cakes

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).

Ingredients

Brown butter caramel

  • 75g butter
  • 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
  • 3 eggs
  • zest 1 lemon
  • 3tbsp milk
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch salt
  • 6-8 figs
  • 1tbsp demerara sugar

Method

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
  6. 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.

Enjoy!

Cardamom Carrot Cake with Honeyed Rose Cream and Figs

Cakes, Uncategorized

At last we approach fig season- one of my absolute favourite fruits, and so synonymous with Middle Eastern cuisine that it would be wrong to incorporate them into a bake which didn’t boast nuts, heady spices or sweet floral flavours; of course this cake contains all three, making it one of my favourite recipes I’ve posted on here to date. It’s not too sweet, nor is the icing too heavy, just a well balanced, flavoursome bake with flavours which work beautifully together. I hope you enjoy.

Ingredients

For the cakes

  • 100g chopped dried figs
  • zest and juice 1 orange
  • 2-3tbsp rose water
  • 250g butter, cubed
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 50g soft light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 400g grated carrot
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • large pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 heaped tsp ground cardamom
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 100g pistachios, roughly chopped

For the icing

  • 300ml double cream
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 3tbsp honey
  • 2-3tbsp rose water

Optional

  • 50g chopped pistachios
  • 1tbsp dried rose petals
  • 4-5 figs

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line two 7 inch cake tins.
  2. Roughly chop the figs and discard the stalks. Tip into a bowl and add the orange juice and rose water. Leave to soak until required.
  3. In a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) cream together the butter and both sugars until pale and thick. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition (add a small amount of the flour with each egg to prevent curdling).
  4. Stir through the grated carrot and soaked figs (along with any juice the figs haven’t absorbed). Mix together the dry ingredients and pistachios and fold through the batter until no streaks of flour remain.
  5. Split the batter between the prepared tins and level off. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
  6. Let the cakes sit in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
  7. Meanwhile, place the cream, cream cheese, honey and rose water in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment) and whisk until pipe-able. Adjust the levels of sweetness and rose flavour to taste.
  8. Once the cakes have cooled down, slice them in half horizontally, leaving you with 4  equal layers. Pile the rose and honey cream into a piping bag with round nozzle. Place the first layer onto a serving plate and pipe little mounds all over the surface, then top with the next layer. Repeat until all the cream mixture is used up, then sprinkle rose petals and pistachios over the top and arrange the figs in an attractive way, if using.

Spiced Hot Cross Bun Ice Cream

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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!

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 vegan butter ( I used Naturli’s Vegan Baking Block)
  • 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. Preheat the oven to 170c. Place the vegan butter, 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 mixture.
  3. 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 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 18-22).
  5. Leave the cookies to cool on the trays or serve warm. Best enjoyed freshly baked.

Enjoy!