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.
Banana bread is a staple in many a baking repertoire- it’s simple, tasty and for some reason one of the only cakes deemed acceptable to eat for breakfast (what’s not to like). My version calls for wholemeal spelt flour, making it nutty in flavour and a little courser in texture than a regular banana bread; delicious when paired with the walnut crumble topping!
- 2 eggs
- 175g soft brown sugar
- 75g melted butter
- 3 ripe bananas, mashed
- 200g wholemeal spelt flour
- 2tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- 1tsp mixed spice
- 1tsp ground ginger
For the crumble topping:
- 50g spelt flour
- 25g soft butter
- 25g soft light brown sugar
- 1tsp mixed spice
- 75g chopped walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line a loaf tin.
- Place the eggs, sugar and butter in a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk until thick, pale and voluminous then fold in the mashed banana.
- Add the dry ingredients (flour, spices, salt and baking powder) and fold again until well combined. Tip the mix into the prepared loaf tin and level out.
- For the crumble topping, rub together the butter, flour, sugar and mixed spice between your fingers until they resemble course crumbs, then stir in the chopped walnuts. Sprinkle this liberally over the top of the banana bread and bake for 45-55 minutes until well risen and a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
- Serve warm or cold, on it’s own or with cinnamon butter, creme fraiche or yoghurt.
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!).
This indulgent ginger and date pudding is made for those miserable winter evenings where you just want to curl up and watch a film with a bowl of something warm, comforting and nostalgic…
- 225g butter
- 225g soft dark brown sugar
- 70g black treacle
- 165g golden syrup
- 200g pitted dates
- 200ml boiling water
- 100ml milk
- 350g plain flour
- 2tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2tbsp ground ginger
- 1tsp ground cinnamon
- 1tsp mixed spice
- 2 eggs
- For the sauce: 100g dark brown sugar, 75g butter, 50ml maple syrup, 50g golden syrup, 75ml double cream, pinch sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease a pudding dish (or chosen vessel) with butter.
- Roughly chop the dates and place in a small bowl, then pour over the boiling water. While the dates are soaking, melt the butter, sugar, treacle and syrup in a large saucepan. Once melted, add the soaked dates and water. Stir together.
- Now gradually pour in the milk. Stir together until well combined. Set aside.
- Sift the plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, cinnamon and mixed spice into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and break in the eggs. Briefly mix the eggs to break up then gradually add the melted ingredients from the saucepan. Stir together with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth, lump-free batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared dish and bake for 40-50 minutes (or until a skewer comes out with a few moist crumbs attached when inserted).
- While the pudding is cooking, make the butterscotch sauce. To do this simply place the sugar, butter and syrups in a small saucepan and melt together until gently bubbling, then remove from the heat and stir in the cream and salt.
- Serve the pudding warm with a generous helping of sauce and vanilla ice cream.
These Bakewell inspired bars are made up of a crisp pastry base, zesty mince meat centre, cinnamon frangipane top, toasted almond sprinkling and a dollop of obligatory brandy cream; delicious and oh-so festive!
- 250g plain flour
- 140g butter
- 1tbsp caster sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 3tbsp water
- 1 jar good quality mince meat (optional: add the zest of 1 orange and a handful chopped walnuts to it)
- 150g butter
- 150g golden caster sugar
- 75g ground almonds
- 75g self-raising flour
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 3 eggs
- handful flaked almonds
- 150ml double cream
- 1tbsp brandy
- 2tbsp icing sugar (plus extra for dusting)
- First, make the pastry (or skip steps 1 and 2 if you’re using shop bought shortcrust!). Place the butter, sugar and flour in a food processor and blitz until they form breadcrumbs. Pour into a large bowl. In a small bowl whisk together the water and egg. Add 4tbsp of this mix to the crumbs and stir with a cutlery knife. If there are still dry patches add a little more liquid until the mixture comes together to form a dough. Press into a thin disc shape and wrap in cling film. Chill for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 190c. Lightly grease a rectangular tart tin. Take your chilled pastry and roll out to about 3mm thick. Line into the tart tin, pushing it into the corners as you go. Chill again for 10 minutes.
- Now it’s time to blind bake. Screw up a piece of greaseproof paper and unfold, then press down into the case. Fill with baking beans and spread out to completely cover the base. Bake for 15 minutes until the sides are set then remove the beans and paper and bake for a further 5-10 minutes until the base is dry and sandy. Don’t let it colour as it will be returning to the oven when filled.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 170c.
- Now make the frangipane. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition (add a little of the flour to prevent curdling if you like). Once well combined, beat in the ground almonds and fold in the remaining flour and cinnamon.
- Now it’s time to assemble. Take your tart case and spread a generous layer of mince meat across the base. Top this with the frangipane and level out as best you can. Sprinkle with flaked almonds.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the frangipane is cooked through. If the pastry or almonds are browning too much just cover loosely with foil.
- Once baked, cool on a wire rack while you make the brandy cream. To do this simply whisk together the brandy, cream and icing sugar until thick. Spoon onto each bar, dust with icing sugar and serve.
These Snickers cookies sandwiched together with peanut buttercream and caramel sauce are the ultimate indulgence- you must try them!
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
- Preheat the oven to 180c and line 2 large baking trays with greaseproof paper.
- 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.
- Add the chopped snickers bars and chocolate chips then fold in with a wooden spoon.
- 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).
- Bake for 10-12 minutes. Once cooked allow to cool on the trays while you make the fillings.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.