foods

Rhubarb and Lime Sorbet (No Churn)

Spring has well and truly sprung here in Bucks, and the sunny weather has inspired me to make something zesty, refreshing and seasonal. This brilliant pink sorbet really hits the spot after a three course dinner or makes for a great component in a larger dessert. I’d advise preparing it a day or two ahead as it does require blitzing a couple of times (but no ice cream maker needed- result!).

Ingredients:

  • 250g granulated sugar
  • 500ml water
  • 400g rhubarb, sliced into 4 inch lengths
  • zest and juice 3 limes
  • 1 egg white (optional)

Method:

  1. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Add the rhubarb pieces and poach for 15-20 minutes until very soft.
  2. Remove the rhubarb from the saucepan and place in a food processor along with the lime juice.
  3. Increase the heat on the rhubarb sugar syrup and boil until it reaches ‘thread’ stage. This isn’t as complicated as it sounds; you can check it’s ready in two ways. Firstly, you could use a sugar thermometer and make sure it reads between 223 degrees and 235 degrees. Secondly, if you don’t have a thermometer just add cold water to a bowl and drop some of the syrup in- if it forms a thin thread in the water, it’s ready (I use this method).
  4. Once you’ve reached thread stage take the syrup off the heat and cool a little, then add half to the rhubarb and lime ( too much will make the sorbet too sweet!). Blitz to a smooth puree and pass through a sieve, then add the lime zest. Pour into an ice cream tub and freeze for 4-6 hours, stirring occasionally to help break up ice crystals.
  5. After the sorbet has frozen, break it up and return to the blender. Add the egg white (if you can’t eat these or are making this for vulnerable people, just skip this) to lighten the texture and blitz again until smooth.
  6. Freeze again and use as required.

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Ginger and Lime Cake

Zesty lime and fiery ginger make for a winning combination in this super simple cake (and I don’t know about you, but I’ve been yearning for a taste of something summery recently). For all out sunshine vibes decorate with edible yellow flowers (I’ve used violas), lime zest and crystallised ginger.

Ingredients:

  • 250g soft butter
  • 250g light brown soft sugar
  • 2tbsp golden syrup
  • 5 eggs
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 2tbsp ground ginger
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 75g chopped stem ginger (in syrup)

For the lime drizzle: 75g caster sugar, juice 4 limes

For the lime cream cheese frosting: 50g soft butter, 150g cream cheese, 400g icing sugar, zest 3 limes

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160c (fan). Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then mix in the golden syrup. Add the eggs one at a time along with a tablespoon of the flour. Mix well and scrape down the sides of the bowl between each addition.
  3. Once the eggs have been incorporated, sift over the remaining flour, ginger, baking powder and salt; fold in the sifted ingredients followed by the stem ginger then transfer the batter into the prepared tin. Level out and bake for 35-40 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted).
  4. While the cake is cooking, make the lime syrup. To do this simply place the juice and sugar in a saucepan and gently heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil for a minute then remove from the heat and set aside.
  5. When the cake is ready, prick all across the surface with a skewer and pour over the lime syrup so it sinks deep into the cake. Leave to cool while you make the lime cream cheese frosting.
  6. To make the frosting, beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth, then add the icing sugar slowly while continuously whisking. Whisk until light and smooth then add the lime zest and a drop of milk if the consistency is a little stiff.
  7. To assemble the cake, cover neatly with the frosting then decorate with extra lime zest, crystallised ginger, herbs and edible flowers.

Enjoy!

Carrot Cake with Pecan Brittle

This cake is a straight forward throw-it-all-in, mix, bake and frost situation (but tastes uh-mazing). The pecan brittle is optional but I think the nutty crunch and slightly bitter caramel really adds to the spiced sponge and tangy cream cheese frosting- definitely a winner!

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Ingredients:

  • 225ml vegetable oil
  • 225g soft light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 250g grated carrot
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp ginger
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2tsp mixed spice
  • 75g chopped pecans
  • For the brittle: 100g caster sugar, 100g pecans, pinch salt
  • For the frosting: 80g butter, 250g full fat cream cheese, 400g icing sugar, zest 1 lemon

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a square brownie tray (about 22x22cm).
  2. Place the oil, sugar, eggs and grated carrot in a large mixing bowl and briefly whisk to combine. Now sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, cinnamon, salt and mixed spice and beat together with a wooden spoon until smooth. Fold in the pecans.
  3. Tip this mixture into the square tin and bake for 25-35 minutes until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
  4. While the cake is cooking, make the brittle. To do this simply place the pecans and sugar in a  heavy bottom pan and gently heat until the sugar melts (don’t stir but swirl the pan occasionally). Once the sugar has melted allow it to reach deep golden brown then pour onto a piece of greaseproof paper and allow to set hard and cool.
  5. Once your cake is cooked and cooling on a rack (in the tin), make the frosting. Beat the butter until smooth then add the cream cheese and whisk until combined. Gradually pour in the icing sugar and continue to whisk for a few minutes- you should achieve light smooth consistency. Stir in the lemon zest last.
  6. Turn the cake out of the tin once it’s cooled and level off if necessary. Spread a generous layer of the cream cheese frosting all over then break up the brittle and sprinkle on.
  7. Slice up and serve (and try to resist coming back for a second piece).

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Hazelnut Latte Eclairs

Everyone loves a chocolate eclair, and these Starbucks inspired ones (filled with coffee cream, dipped in milk chocolate and topped with a strip of dark chocolate and hazelnut praline) make a nice seasonal change from the usual vanilla cream variety.

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Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 85g butter
  • 220ml water
  • 105g plain flour
  • 100ml strong black coffee, cold
  • 2 tbsp light brown soft sugar
  • 300ml double cream
  • 100ml mascarpone
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 100g hazelnuts
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 100g dark chocolate

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Line 2 large baking trays with greaseproof paper. Sieve the flour twice to ensure there are no lumps then pour onto a square of greaseproof (this means it is ready to tip straight into the choux when you need it!).
  2. Place the butter and water in a saucepan. Heat gently until the butter has melted then bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat and immediately shoot in all the flour. Stir very quickly for about a minute until the mixture is shiny and coming away from the sides of the pan. Now tip into a large bowl and spread thinly to speed up cooling.
  3. Once the choux mixture (called a panade at this egg-less stage!) has cooled to room temperature it’s time to add the eggs. Whisk the eggs in a jug to break them up then pour 1/4 into the bowl. Whisk with electric beaters to fully incorporate, then keep adding  a little more and whisking until you reach a dropping consistency (this means the mixture should fall off a spoon when shaken after about 4 seconds). You might not need all the egg.
  4. Pile the choux into a piping bag and pipe 5 inch lines onto the prepared sheets (leaving space for expansion). Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden then pierce each eclair with a skewer, reduce the temperature to 180c and bake for a further 10 minutes to dry out. When they’re ready they should be crisp and nicely browned. Cool on a wire rack while you make the fillings and toppings.

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  1. For the coffee cream, heat the brown sugar and coffee together then set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the mascarpone, cream and icing sugar until thick. Fold in the coffee mix when it’s cooled completely.
  3. For the hazelnut praline, place the sugar and nuts in a small saucepan. Stir occasionally to encourage the sugar to melt then take it to a deep golden colour. Pour onto greaseproof  paper, leave to harden then break into pieces or smash into a dust (depending on your decorating ideas!).
  4. For the chocolate topping simply melt the milk chocolate and allow it to cool. If you’d like to recreate the chocolate strip just melt and set the dark chocolate on a flat surface in the fridge, then slice into your desired shapes.
  5. To assemble the eclairs, slice them in half and fill with the coffee cream, dip in the melted chocolate and decorate with the set dark chocolate and praline.

Enjoy!

Snickers Cookie Sandwiches

These Snickers cookies sandwiched together with peanut buttercream and caramel sauce are the ultimate indulgence- you must try them!

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Ingredients:

For the cookies:

  • 225g soft butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 175g dark brown soft sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 300g plain flour
  • pinch salt
  • 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

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c and line 2 large baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  2. 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.
  3. Add the chopped snickers bars and chocolate chips then fold in with a wooden spoon.
  4. 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).
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Once cooked allow to cool on the trays while you make the fillings.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Chocolate Orange Halloween Cupcakes

These light zesty cupcakes topped with a swirl of jet black chocolate buttercream are great for ghoulish kids parties. They taste delicious, are ridiculously simple to make and look pretty dark and mysterious too- ideal for Halloween.

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Ingredients

For the sponge:

  • 200g soft butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1tsp orange extract
  • zest 1 orange
  • 4 eggs
  • 200g self raising flour

For the chocolate buttercream:

  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 300g soft butter
  • 600g icing sugar
  • 2tbsp milk
  • 1tsp black gel food colouring

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Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a muffin tray with cupcake cases.
  2. Place your butter and caster sugar in a bowl. Whisk together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and adding a little flour to prevent a curdled mixture.
  3. After the eggs have been incorporated, add the orange extract and zest. Mix together thoroughly then sift in the flour. Fold with a large metal spoon until well incorporated.
  4. Distribute the mix between the cupcake cases and bake for 20-25 minutes until well risen and springy.
  5. Leave to cool on a wire rack and make the frosting.
  6. To make the black buttercream, whisk the butter and icing sugar until pale and fluffy, then add the melted dark chocolate and milk. Whisk again until non-streaky then add enough black food colouring to achieve a solid colour. I find gel colouring the most effective.
  7. Pipe or spread the buttercream over your cupcakes and enjoy!

Sea Salt and Dark Chocolate Cookies

Cookies are among my favourite things to eat, and they’re SO easy to make. My dark chocolate variety spiked with Cornish sea salt are a grown up alternative to the classic milk chocolate chip cookie and they have quickly become a firm favourite in my house…

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To make the cookie dough you will need (makes 12 large cookies): 225g unsalted butter, 125g caster sugar, 175g dark brown soft sugar, 2 eggs, 1tsp bicarbonate of soda, 2tsp cornish sea salt, 300g plain flour, 400g dark chocolate

For the chocolate finish you will need: 200g dark chocolate, sprinkling of cornish sea salt

Chop the chocolate into smallish pieces.

Cream together your butter and sugars with an electric whisk (or stand mixer) until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time and beat between each addition. To prevent curdling, add a little of the flour after each egg too.

Add the remaining flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda and whisk again until a thick dough has formed and all the ingredients are incorporated.

Add the chopped chocolate and mix well with a wooden spoon to evenly disperse.

Roll the dough into a sausage shape about 10cm in diameter and wrap in clingfilm. Chill for an hour.

Preheat your oven to 180c and line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper (you will need to batch cook these cookies as they spread).

Take your firmed cookie dough from the fridge and chop into discs (around 2cm thick). Place three on the baking sheets at a time and bake for 12-15 minutes until they have a cracked appearance but are still soft in the middle (this means your cookies will be chewy!).

Repeat with the remaining cookie dough and once baked leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

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For the finish, melt 200g dark chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Set aside and leave to cool slightly.

Once slightly cooled dip your cookies in the chocolate (over about 1/3 of the surface) and sprinkle with sea salt.

Leave to set (if you can!) and enjoy!

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