These cookie sandwiches are a culmination of my three favourite things; coffee, chocolate and ice cream. The pecans add crunch, and the bitter note of espresso prevents the result from being overly sweet. There’s not a lot else to say- other than go forth and make them (but proceed with caution, they’re like crack).
Ingredients (makes 10-12 cookie sandwiches, with a little extra cookie dough which will freeze well)
For the ice cream
- 400ml double cream
- 400ml whole milk
- 8 egg yolks
- 150g caster sugar
- pinch salt
- 30g good quality instant coffee
For the cookies
- 225g soft unsalted butter
- 125g caster sugar
- 175g dark brown soft sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
- generous pinch salt
- 150g plain flour
- 125g rye flour
- 75g roughly chopped pecans
- 100g roughly chopped dark chocolate (70%)
- Start off by making the ice cream. To do this, pour the double cream, milk and instant coffee into a saucepan and set over a medium heat. Meanwhile, place the egg yolks, sugar and salt in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment) and whisk until pale and thick. Once the instant coffee has dissolved into the cream mixture, bring it to a simmer then take off the heat and gradually add into the eggs and sugar, whisking constantly until well combined.
- Pass the mixture through a sieve into a clean saucepan, then heat gently, stirring until thick (make sure the custard doesn’t get too hot, or you’ll be left with something that looks a bit like scrambled eggs!). Pass the thickened custard through a sieve into a bowl, then close cover with cling film and leave to cool completely (I like to chill the custard at this point to make sure it’s as cold as possible before churning, but it’s not absolutely necessary).
- Once cooled, pour the custard into an ice cream maker and churn until creamy and thick. Line a shallow square/rectangular baking tin (about 2-3cm deep) with cling film and scrape the churned ice cream into it. Level off, cover with cling film and place in the freezer for at least 4 hours, until fully set. At this point you can cut the ice cream into rounds using a 3-4 inch cookie cutter, then cover and return the rounds to the freezer until required.
- For the cookies, place the butter and both sugars in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and beat until pale and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the bicarbonate of soda, salt and both flours and very briefly mix again until combined. Now stir in the pecans and chocolate with a wooden spoon. Chill the cookie dough for 10 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a couple of baking trays with greaseproof paper and space tablespoons of cookie dough over them, allowing plenty of room for spreading. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until soft in the middle but golden in colour. At about 8-10 minutes into baking, take the baking tray and bang it on the work top in one sharp movement. This allows the cookie to spread a little and ensures the perfect thickness. Repeat the process until you’ve used up the cookie dough, then leave the cookies to cool.
- For a neat result, you can cut the cookies into perfect circles with the cutter you used for the ice cream, but this isn’t essential.
- Once the cookies have cooled, sandwich two together with a round of espresso ice cream.
With a light baked ricotta filling studded with fresh raspberries, crunchy almond-oat base and griddled peach topping, these cheesecake bars pay homage to 90s peach melba, and make for the perfect summer dessert.
Ingredients (makes 12 bars)
For the base
- 150g digestives
- 2tsp demerara sugar
- 1tsp cinnamon
- 50g rolled oats
- 50g almonds
- 140g unsalted butter, melted
For the filling
- 500g ricotta
- 125g golden caster sugar
- 30g corn flour
- 2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 100g full fat greek yoghurt
- 200g raspberries
For the topping
- 2 peaches, sliced
- few extra raspberries
- decorative herbs, almonds, edible flowers (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 160c and grease and line a 22x22cm baking tin. Place the digestives, demerara sugar and cinnamon in a food processor and blitz into crumbs. Add in the melted butter, almonds and oats and very briefly blitz again to combine- don’t over mix here, you want a nice crunchy base. Tip this mixture into the prepared tin and pack down with the back of a spoon. Chill for 15 minutes then bake for 10 minutes to set. Once baked set aside for later.
- Now make the filling. To do this simply whisk together the ricotta, golden caster sugar, corn flour and vanilla until very smooth, then add in the egg and egg yolk one at a time, whisking between each addition to bring the mixture together again. Lastly, whisk in the yoghurt. Roughly break up the raspberries with the back of a fork and tip them in. Ripple them through then scrape all the filling onto the base. Place the tin into another larger roasting tin and fill with water (about half way up the sides of your baking tin). Bake for 1 hour or until the cheesecake is set but still has a uniform wobble.
- Once baked, leave the cheesecake to cool completely then chill for 4-6 hours to set.
- While the cheesecake is chilling, lightly oil a griddle pan and slice the peaches into wedges. Heat the pan and char the slices on each side, then leave to cool.
- When your cheesecake has set, just remove it from the tin, slice into 12 bars (use a hot knife for this and you will get a cleaner result) and top with the griddled peach slices, extra raspberries and nuts.
Shake up the classic British pavlova by combining seasonal strawberries with black pepper, tangy creme fraiche and pistachio meringues; the combination of sweet, spicy and savoury balances beautifully and is a great dessert option for casual summer evenings.
Ingredients (makes 12):
- 300g caster sugar
- 6 egg whites
- pinch salt
- 125g chopped pistachios
- 400g strawberries
- 2tbsp caster sugar
- splash water
- cracked black pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 180c. Line 2 trays with greaseproof paper (you can secure this down with a little meringue once it’s made).
- Put the sugar on a baking tray and heat for 10 minutes in the oven until hot to the touch (not melting), then set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 120c.
- Place the egg whites in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) and whisk until you reach medium peak. Add one third of the hot sugar and increase the whisking speed until well incorporated. Add the remaining sugar in 2 additions, whisking well between each. You should eventually have a thick glossy meringue with no grains of sugar. Tip the chopped pistachios onto the meringue and fold in gently. Spoon the meringue into piles on the prepared trays and smooth into your desired shapes.
- Bake for 1-1/2 hours until the meringues can be peeled from the paper with ease. Once baked, turn the oven off and leave to cool with the door closed (to prevent cracking).
- Now make the strawberry compote; place the strawberries, sugar and water in a saucepan and heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar melts and the strawberries release some juices. Now just cook until your desired consistency is achieved (I like to keep the fruit whole where possible but you can break down the strawberries by cooking for longer if a smoother result is what you’re after).
- Cool the compote and serve up with a generous spoonful of creme fraiche (or lightly whipped chantilly cream) and a crisp but chewy pistachio meringue.