Monthly Archives: February 2016

Hazelnut Custard

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Thick, creamy, hazelnut custard. The perfect accompaniment to any chocolate dessert, or simply poured over ice cream. 

Ok, so before I gave up dairy, making custard from scratch seemed like a completely pointless exercise. Why make it when it’s so readily available, in all it’s thick, vanilla-y, custard-y goodness?? And then I realised how much I had taken this for granted when suddenly these options were gone!

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It’s not that you can’t buy dairy free custard – you can, it’s quite good and I eat a lot of it, but sometimes it just doesn’t go with everything. Custard is also a wonderful ‘base’ ingredient that has lots of different uses (ice cream, creme patisserie, the list goes on…), and the dairy free shop bought stuff just doesn’t always cut it.

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I started by trying to make a good vanilla custard, however I have to admit that this recipe is still in development – soy is a strong flavour to try and cover up! But it was in the midst of these failed custards that I found hazelnut custard… Here, there’s no covering up; this is all about letting the hazelnut flavour shine.

The next few week’s recipes will focus on using this hazelnut custard in a different ways; there’s an ice cream coming up that is a particular highlight. So use this week to get perfecting your custard. It’s really not difficult to make at all, and a great excuse to have a few sneaky puddings – try it warm, poured over these classic brownies to start with.

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Coconut and Rum Cake

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For grown ups only! This dark caramel cake is soaked in black, spiced rum making it wholly inappropriate for children and very appropriately delicious. Offset with a sweet caramel and coconut buttercream icing, this cake really is a naughty treat, perfect for curing those winter blues.

This cake just takes me back to Australia. One of the highlights of our holiday was sailing around the Whitsunday Islands on a small sailing boat – it was strictly BOYB (a common phenomenon in Australia that I really wish they’d start over here!) so we casually brought onboard a bottle of Kracken black spiced Rum. I mean… we were on a boat. What else were we going to drink?!

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We still had a bit of rum left in the bottle a few weeks ago, and I just knew this cake would blow these wintery cobwebs away. Full of tropical flavours and spices, it brought the sunshine back in every mouthful.

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The sponge is a slightly denser than normal; when you drizzle the rum on after baking only some evaporates leaving you with a very moist and soft sponge. To go with the heavy scents of the spiced rum, I’ve used light brown sugar rather than white caster. It gives a much deeper flavour to the sponge, bringing out the caramel notes in the rum.

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The coconut comes in many forms in this cake – using desiccated, milk, and coconut caramel – but the flavour is not overwhelming. The caramel is something I found on a recent venture round Marks and Spencers – it’s one of those places I like to casually peruse for unusual dairy free finds. This was one of them, and it’s an absolute triumph. As an aside, the caramel is perfect used as a topping – think ice cream or pancakes – but use it sparingly. Like every good caramel, it is certainly sweet, which makes it the perfect base for the icing!

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Apple Dessert Pancakes

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A perfect dessert pancake; light and fluffy yet more indulgent than something appropriate for breakfast. This recipe would be ideal for Pancake Day which is now just around the corner on February 9th!

I really do love Pancake Day; maybe it’s because I’m very non discriminatory – I love all food related holidays!- but a day dedicated (sort of) to pancakes, what’s not to love! That being said, I almost always do the same two types of pancakes on pancake day. A good old crepe and these Blueberry Pancakes. This year, I thought it was time to branch out, so, voila – Apple Pancakes!

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These are as deliciously easy as the blueberry variety; a simple store-cupboard ingredient list, grated apple, and a pinch of cinnamon. To top them, I’ve made some caramelised apple slices which are more than a little bit naughty. The thin slices of apple are gently caramelised in golden caster sugar and butter and by letting them cook gently, the apples get very soft, and almost jelly like. Sounds odd, but trust me it works!

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I drizzled mine with maple syrup – I’ll use any excuse to add a bit of maple syrup wherever it can go, so these pancakes were of course not going to be an exception! A small scoop of ice cream didn’t go amiss either, but this really is entirely optional. Although the pancakes themselves are sweeter than I would make for breakfast, I need the ice cream to really make it feel like dessert.

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The other great thing about these pancakes (just in case I haven’t already given you reason good enough!) is that you can do them easily for a crowd. These pancakes keep really well once baked; just put in a foil covered oven proof dish to reheat again when needed. And if there’s something I like even more than eating the pancakes, it’s sharing the day with a big group of people, all huddled round a small table, stuffed to the brim, but begging for just one more pancake!

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Filed under dessert, Fruit, Sweet treats