Soft, chewy, chocolate and rye cookie dough, molten chocolate chunks and nutty pockets of crumbled halva; all encased in a sea salt and pistachio crackle coating.
Ingredients (makes 18-22 cookies)
- 250g soft, unsalted butter
- 150g light brown soft sugar
- 125g caster sugar
- Sea salt
- 2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
- 175g plain flour
- 100g rye flour
- 50g good quality cocoa powder
- 3/4tsp baking powder
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 150g roughly crumbled halva
- 100g milk chocolate, roughly chopped
- 100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 100g white chocolate, roughly chopped
- 125g pistachios, very finely chopped
- Gently melt the butter in a saucepan then tip into a large mixing bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer). Allow it to cool for a few minutes then add in both sugars and a pinch of salt. Cream together until light and fluffy.
- Once creamed, add in the eggs and egg yolk one at a time, beating well between each addition. In a separate bowl, stir together both flours, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and cocoa powder. Add these dry ingredients into the wet, beating only until just combined (do not over mix).
- Now, using a wooden spoon, stir in the halva and all the chopped chocolate. Close cover with cling film and chill for at least 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 180c. Line 2 large trays with baking paper (you will need to bake the cookies in batches). Tip the chopped pistachios into a large bowl and add a generous pinch of sea salt. Stir.
- Take your chilled cookie dough and create equal balls using an ice cream scoop. Roll each ball of dough in the pistachio crumb, then arrange on the baking trays (I usually bake about 4 per tray to allow for spreading).
- Bake each batch for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven, sharply tap the tray on a flat work surface and return to the oven for 2-3 minutes. Repeat the tap step once more and bake for a further 2-3 minutes, or until the cookies are crisping up at the edges but still very soft in the middle.
- Once baked, leave to firm up a little on the baking trays, then serve.
With Pancake Day looming I thought I’d share my recipe for the best fluffy banana pancakes (even if I say so myself). The combination of spelt flour and banana makes for a nutty but naturally sweet flavour and they work really well with nut butters, maple syrup and winter produce such as forced rhubarb and pear.
Ingredients (serves 6-8)
For the pancakes
- 175g spelt flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 ripe bananas
- 175ml milk
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- knob of butter for frying
- 100g pecans
- 3-4tbsp honey
- 1tsp sea salt
- maple syrup or honey
- either fresh banana, winter berries, finely sliced apple or pear, orange segments or poached rhubarb
- either almond, peanut or cashew butter
- Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Toss the pecans in the honey and salt and evenly distribute on the prepared tray then bake for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl. Stir together and make a well in the centre.
- In a jug whisk together the milk, egg and vanilla extract then mash the bananas and add them in. Tip the contents of the jug into the dry ingredients and whisk together until you have a smooth, lump-free batter.
- Once the pecans are sticky and toasted set aside.
- Now you’re ready to cook the pancakes. Heat a large frying pan and add a knob of butter. Once the butter is gently foaming add 3 or 4 mounds of the pancake batter and cook on the first side until bubbles start to appear on the top, then turn over and cook for a couple more minutes. Continue cooking the pancakes in batches until you’ve used all the batter up.
- Serve with fresh banana, maple syrup and the honeyed pecans.
Intense, rich, drag-me-out-of-bed coffee; yep, it’s the lonely hero of many a dark January morning, and for me, my second favourite cake flavour (after chocolate…duh). If you too trust in the caffeine hit, are partial to a slab of cake and have fallen off the health wagon you should definitely try out this recipe- the loaf format looks a bit different and the hazelnuts pair really well with the strong coffee flavour which is delivered in the sponge, frosting and espresso drizzle.
For the sponge:
- 225g soft butter
- 225g golden caster sugar
- 4 eggs
- 225g self raising flour
- 1tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- 3tbsp strong instant coffee
For the espresso soak:
- 3-4 tbsp strong instant coffee
- 1tbsp caster sugar
For the filling/decoration:
- 600g icing sugar
- 200g mascarpone
- 200g soft butter
- 2tbsp strong instant coffee
- handful chopped toasted hazelnuts
- Optional: espresso powder and coffee beans
- Preheat the oven to 160c and grease/line a large loaf tin.
- Cream together the butter and sugar using an electric whisk (or in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment) until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs in one at a time, whisking well in between each addition to ensure they are well incorporated (you can add a little of the flour if you’re worried about curdling).
- Once the eggs have been added sift in the flour, salt and baking powder. Fold into the mix then add the instant coffee and stir. Scrape the batter into the loaf tin and bake for 30-35 minutes (or until golden brown and cooked all the way through- a skewer should come out clean with a few crumbs attached when inserted).
- Allow the cake to cool in the tin while you make the frosting and soak.
- For the frosting, place the butter, mascarpone and instant coffee in a bowl (or again, use a stand mixer) and whisk until light, well combined and fluffy. Now gradually add the icing sugar whilst mixing on a slow speed. Once all the icing sugar has been added increase the speed and keep whisking until you have a spreadable, light and smooth icing. Set aside.
- For the soak simply mix together the coffee and sugar. Take your cooling loaf cake and slice in half horizontally. Prick holes in the surface of each piece and drizzle the soak all over, allow it to sink in. Set aside until completely cool.
- Once the cake is completely cool spread a generous amount of mascarpone icing across the bottom layer along with a sprinkling of hazelnuts. Sandwich on the top sponge and cover the outside edges in the remaining icing. If you like, you can use a flat piping nozzle to create a ripple look, then top with more hazelnuts and some espresso powder.
This chocolate cake is my absolute favourite; it’s moist, rich and filled with both ganache and buttercream (completely necessary in my opinion!). Make it for a celebration or get together and you will be very popular!
Ingredients (for a 3 layer 9 inch wide cake- half the recipe for a 6 inch cake):
For the cake:
- 340g plain flour
- 525g caster sugar
- 125g cocoa
- 2 1/2tsp baking powder
- 2 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
- pinch salt
- 3 eggs
- 375ml milk
- 185ml vegetable oil
- 3tsp espresso coffee
- 375ml boiling water
For the frosting:
- 250g butter
- 600g icing sugar
- 100g cocoa
- few drops milk
For the ganache:
- 250g dark chocolate
- 200ml double cream
- pinch sea salt
For the toppers (optional):
- 100g dark chocolate
- 100g milk chocolate
- any sprinkles, nuts or metallic sprays/glitter you fancy
- Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line three 8 inch cake tins.
- For the cake, place the flour, caster sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cocoa powder in a bowl. Stir together with a whisk or wooden spoon.
- In a jug, mix together the eggs, vegetable oil, milk and espresso. Pour into the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.
- Now add the boiling water in batches, gently stirring between each addition (it’s supposed to be runny so don’t worry if the consistency seems a bit odd!).
- Split the mixture between the three cake tins and bake for 35-45 minutes until well risen and cooked through. To test whether they are ready, insert a skewer- if it comes out clean it is ready to come out of the oven.
- Cool the cakes in the tins for 10 minutes then remove and transfer to a wire rack. Leave to drop to room temperature while you make the fillings.
- Firstly, make the ganache. To do this simply chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a jug, then heat the cream until almost simmering and pour straight over it. Leave the chocolate to melt for a couple of minutes then stir to form your ganache. Set aside in the fridge to thicken and cool before you use it.
- Now make your buttercream. Whisk the butter until light and fluffy then gradually add the icing sugar and cocoa, whilst beating to combine. Add the vanilla and double cream and give it a final whisk- stop when you have a light, smooth frosting.
- If you’d like to make your own toppers, simply melt the chocolate (melt separately for some contrasting shards) then spread a thin layer onto greaseproof paper. Set in the fridge while you assemble the cake then break into pieces and use as you wish.
- Now you are ready to assemble the cake. Level off the tops of the sponges with a cake cutter or large bread knife to make sure you have even layers. Take your first sponge and spread over a layer of ganache followed by a layer of buttercream. Top with the next sponge and repeat until you have a stack of three. Cover the whole cake in buttercream and smooth the sides with a palette knife or cake scraper. Decorate with the shards or any other decorations you fancy.