Category Archives: dessert

Doughnuts, Take 2!

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Vegan doughnuts, so naughty and so good. Yes they involve a bit of deep frying, but, trust me, they are sooo worth the effort!

Who knew vegan doughnuts could be so good? Honestly, I’ll never go back to making them with eggs (even if I could eat them!) as it’s just not necessary! This is such a good recipe that’s quick to make, and if you can be brave to deep fry them, you’ll never go back to buying any sort of doughnut.

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I chose to fill my doughnuts with raspberry jam. It’s a classic for a reason, right? These are definitely my favourite was to finish off a doughnut… I don’t know what in life could be better than biting into a freshly made still warm doughnut, sticky and crunchy on the outside with an explosion of jam in the centre that just dribbles all over your fingers.

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These are definitely quite high up on the naughty scale… I know you can bake doughnuts…. but personally I sort of think if you’re going to eat one, do it properly and make it fried. The baked ones, although good, just miss the addictive texture of soft, fluffy dough in the middle with a crisp skin on the outside. These definitely hit the spot! And with quite a lot of sugar in them already, the extra bit of oil from frying really isn’t going to kill you!

I might do another post showing some other ways to finish off these doughnuts soon. I’m making it sound like that’s for your benefit…when really it just justifies me eating these again!

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Filed under Bread, dessert, Sweet treats, vegan

Sticky Toffee Pudding

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A traditional British classic; sticky toffee pudding is the perfect accompaniment to a Sunday roast. Moist, sweet, and served with ice cream, there are few people in the world who could turn down this delight!

So I have to admit that before making this, I had never eaten sticky toffee pudding before. The Fiancé was appalled! However, with my Mum coming from Belgium, we didn’t tend to eat a lot of classic British meals or puds – and I have to admit that it always sounded a little too sweet for my tastes.

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Now I have to admit that I’ve done a complete 180. Yes, it is undeniably sweet, but this recipe is not overpoweringly so. With dates and plenty of spices for depth of flavour, it’s really hard to say no to a second piece! I would say that this pudding needs to be served with ice cream or cream (dairy free of course!) to break through the sweetness of the caramel sauce, which of course is a great shame!

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This recipe should come with a warning; once you’ve tasted the caramel sauce, you will start to find lots of things to eat it with… I’m talking about spooned onto ice cream, or layered between biscuits from the cupboard, or perhaps just spread onto toast (although I still need to try this last one!!)… It’s delicious and so easy that it could even be a recipe in it’s own right!

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As the never ending winter continues, I couldn’t think of a dessert I’d rather eat to celebrate the cold weather; the perfect cure to feeling the chill after a bitterly chilly walk.

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Pistachio, Almond and Chocolate Éclairs

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Indulgent éclairs, filled with a pistachio and almond crème pâtissière and topped with a sweet chocolate icing. Not as impossible as they seem, these éclairs would make the perfect special treat.

Whoops. You know that feeling when you think, ‘when was the last time I….‘… well that’s rather how I’ve been feeling about blogging recently! Life has been more than a little hectic, and the end of 2016 seemed to flash by like big and exciting blur. Whilst the rest of the world seems to be (understandably) lamenting the going ons in 2016, I actually had a great year. I took a big leap forwards in life and now when I introduce myself to people, I can say I am a full time baker! So, with a wedding to plan and a new business to grow, the end of 2016 flew by.

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I’m back with a triumphant recipe with these delightfully indulgent éclairs. I don’t know if there is anything as pleasing as making something that belongs in a French Pâtisserie (in taste, not in looks – these definitely don’t have quite the finesse of professional pastry makers) at home. It’s something to do with debunking the myth that they’re impossible to make and only a demigod can succeed! I talked before in my recipe for Profiteroles that Choux pastry is not nearly as complicated as it seems, and then we’re just making a simple Crème Pâttissière (or thickened custard if we want to be less fancy about it!) to fill it.

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Now, I wouldn’t be me if I just made normal chocolate and vanilla éclairs, would I? So, of course, these come pumped with extra flavour from pistachios and almonds in the crème pâttisière. I’ve really grown to love pistachios in the last few years, and they work beautifully together with the chocolate topping and sweet almond flavoured cream. To get the hit of pistachio flavour, this recipe calls for you to make a pistachio paste. It really is quite simple to do, just a bit of a faff. The paste should be a vibrant, inviting green colour. But to get this, you need to rub the skins off the pistachios before roasting. As we don’t need much paste it doesn’t take too much time – but this is your warning! If you decide to skip this step (which you can!) just be prepared for your paste to come out more brown than green…

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As with all filled choux pastry recipes, these are best eaten as soon as possible after filling. If you don’t want to eat them all in one go (then you deserve a medal!) cooked choux pastry buns freeze well. Just defrost at room temperature, and pop back in a hot oven for a few minutes to get crisp again before filling.

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Filed under Chocolate, dessert, Pastry, Uncategorized

Passionfruit Bars

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Delicious passionfruit curd topped shortbread bites, perfect for a posh afternoon tea or after dinner bite with coffee. Deceptively simple to make, I can’t wait to try these with a variety of flavours!

 I saw a version of these somewhere in a magazine, and thought they looked so pretty and dainty. I definitely wouldn’t describe my style of baking as dainty… as much as I’d love to try and conquer the grand macaron, I’m just not sure I have the patience.

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And that was how I went into making these… let’s try and succeed something dainty. And it seemed that actually, the only thing that’s dainty about these is the size you cut them into! It really is nothing more tricky than a tray bake, cut into delicious teeny-tiny pieces.

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And what a treat is contained in these little bites… sweet, crumbly shortbread, topped with a sweet and sour passionfruit curd, then dusted generously with icing sugar. The passionfruit curd makes a delicious change from lemon; it’s subtly sweeter, and this curd recipe gives it a good strong passionfruit flavour. This recipe uses fresh passionfruit which allows you to decide how many of the seeds to keep in – by keeping half, it gave a lovely crunch to these otherwise quite soft bites.

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Filed under Biscuits & Cookies, dessert, Sweet treats

Amaretto & Honey Custard

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The perfect accompaniment for any dessert that goes with almonds; Think pastries, apples, or autumnal stoned fruits. So simple, you’ll question why you’ve not made custard before!

This custard was made to go alongside this Apple & Frangipane Gallette, but honestly would be perfect with many, many desserts! Custard is a wonderfully simple thing to make, but this knowledge makes it ever so slightly dangerous…. you end up in a situation where custard is literally at your fingertips all the time!

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Filed under dessert, Gluten Free, Pastry, Sweet treats

Apple & Frangipane Gallette

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A family sized, sharing pudding made with homemade rough puff pastry, frangipane, and sweet apple compote, served with an almond liqueur custard . All far more complicated than it sounds, this is essentially a glorified apple pie!

You know how sometimes the best things are borne from accidents? Yeah, well this was one of them – an accident I’m absolutely thrilled happened and worked! So, what was this accident, I hear you ask? I happened to have a good portion of un-used frangipane in the fridge (as you do!), and had a bit of a craving for autumnal flavours. Combined with wanting to see if I could master rough puff pastry dairy free, this dessert began to take shape.

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If you don’t fancy going the whole hog and making rough puff, you could easily substitute this for shop bought puff pastry – make the rough puff if you have the time, as I promise it’s so rewarding seeing all the layers of flakey pastry once cooked and knowing you did that! – but I’ll admit cheating with shop bought does help this dessert come together a lot faster.

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The pastry shell looks a little fancy – you could even call it free form! – but is stupidly easy. Just don’t tell your impressed guests! You simply pile the fillings into the centre of a large circle of pastry, and pull in the corners and pinch them together. Wash on a bit of egg glaze, sprinkle with sugar, and voila; perfection.

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The fillings themselves are even more special (and simple) than the pastry. Frangipane is one of the simplest fillings you could ever make (chuck in a bowl and mix kinda simple), and gives any pudding a sweet, intense, almond-y flavour. Hidden under the apple compote, it’s the perfect complimentary companion to the other flavours.

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You could serve this with any accompaniment you like, but this Amaretto & Honey Custard is just perfect.

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Orange Polenta Cake

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A delicious, no-comprise allergy friendly bake free from dairy, gluten and wheat. This different texture cake is made with polenta and ground almonds, which really does make an impressive replacement to wheat flour, with the added benefit of tones of flavour. Full of orange zest and topped with crushed pistachios, this is a wonderful light cake perfect for the welcoming the warmer weather.

So, custard season is over! I hear a bit of a sigh of relief all around 🙂 This week, we’re onto something far less risky, although something people will equally question. This is a fantastic, very different, cake recipe, that just happens to be dairy, gluten and wheat free. The texture is incredible; slightly crunchy from the polenta, lighter than you would expect given that it is full of ground almonds, and of course it is packed full of zesty orange flavour.

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This cake would be perfect served for afternoon tea or as a dessert (tell you the truth… we ate it for both!). If I’m honest, I would really have liked a little dollop of creme fresh on the side… but ok… you can’t have everything! If you are not dairy free though, I really would give that a try – it complements both the flavour and the texture perfectly. If you are dairy free, do like me and have a small scoop of ice cream. Sounds weird, but trust me it works.

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I also thought this cake was perfect for this season, for some reason it made me feel so summery – perhaps because of all the pretty bright colours on top – but also the zesty orange hit really made me feel like I was on holiday.

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This cake is incredibly simple to make; pretty much a one bowl mix, pour and bake recipe. I’ve added some chopped pistachios and extra zest on top – it is definitely worth the extra minute of effort. The pistachios are a lovely little pop of nutty sweetness and cut through some of the zest-iness of the cake flavour.

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Hazelnut Meringue Cake

 

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What on earth is a meringue cake?! Keeping all the best features of meringue, but add in a dark, sticky,  hazelnut-y chewiness, lightened by a sweet creme patissiere filling, with refreshing thin orange slices scattered through the middle, and you sort of get the jist… As an added bonus, this dessert is gluten, wheat and dairy free!

This is not a pretty dessert. Despite its fluffy and delicate appearance, it deserves to be smashed to pieces with a fork and gobbled up in seconds. Or at least – that was how we did it! The few lucky ones who got to taste test this recipe quoted it was their favourite bake of mine ever – and coming from them, that’s something! This is especially surprising as this recipe really came about in a funny way; driven by the desire to use up 4 egg whites and half a carton of hazelnut milk, I began really having to search hard for a recipe. Turns out that recipes do not often combine egg whites and milk, but then the wonders of the hazelnut meringue cake came back to me.

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I think this was something I first saw on bake off – and I loved the idea of turning a meringue into something other than a sweet, crispy treat. Although this still retains those things we love about a good meringue, it is also darker, slightly heavier and more chewy – and therefore ever so slightly more like a cake- because it is packed full of very finely chopped hazelnut pieces.

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I have filled the meringue cake with creme patissiere – which is a fancy name for a custard thickened with cornflour. So, as we’ve been practising our custard over the last few weeks, it will be an absolute doddle (which I can promise it will be…as it’s actually easier and much harder to get wrong than custard – the cornflour stops the eggs curdling, so unless you burn it, you’ll be hard pressed to ruin it!)!

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Lastly, buy the best oranges you can and very very thinly slice the segments. By layering these onto the creme pat, before sandwiching the second meringue on top, you’ve created a light, refreshing, fruity cleanser that balances the sweetness of the rest of the dessert. It’s this secret which will keep you coming back for more until it’s all gone in one sitting!

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Filed under cakes, dessert, Fruit, Gluten Free, Meringue

Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream

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A smooth, sweet and rich chocolate ice cream, designed to kill those Ben and Jerry’s cravings. With hazelnut chunks throughout, and a simple make at home recipe, you’ll be wondering why you’ve not tried to make your own ice cream before!

Last summer I was lucky enough to be asked to hold on to my Mum’s ice cream machine whilst she packed up her house, preparing to go and teach abroad for a while. I could not have been more excited! Homemade ice cream is just the best; if you’ve never tried it, the best way I could explain it is like this – imagine unlimited flavour options, in a sweet, thick, creamy gelato style ice cream.

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Then, really soon after came the Bake Off episode all about ‘free from’ baking. I was so excited! They were making a dairy free Artic Roll, and I began thinking of all of the different flavour combinations they could do… and to be honest, I felt slightly disappointed that almost all of them used coconut milk, and one of the biggest ‘challenges’ they had was trying to cover up the coconut flavour!

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In this ice cream, we’re using hazelnut milk to full effect; it perfectly compliments the rich chocolate, and we’re adding some chopped hazelnuts for crunch. The end result is perfect – as smooth and creamy as a real Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and as rich, chocolatey and sweet too. We cheat slightly by strictly making a frozen custard; full dairy ice cream is made by adding whipped cream to a custard, but in the interest of getting a thick, rich, and smooth ice cream at the end, we’re simply going to just churn it as it is.

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The ice cream can be made either with or without an ice cream machine. I would definitely advise you all to go out and buy a cheap (£20!) machine, where you freeze the container, then pour in the custard, and turn on the motor. However, if I can’t convince you to do that, then you can make this the old fashioned way, stirring the ice cream vigorously every hour for 3 hours as it freezes up. The results are still good, but you will get more ice crystals then you would in a machine.

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Now I’m just waiting for summer; think strawberry and honeycomb, or eton mess ice cream…At least summers not too far away now!

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Steamed Chocolate Pudding

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A delicious, retro classic. Perfect for feeding a crowd after a meal, this chocolate sponge pudding is sure to delight with it’s rich, chocolate flavour. Serve with hazelnut custard or ice cream.

I often find myself day dreaming about food. I used to think everyone did this (but apparently not?!), and it was during a particularly chocolate filled thought that this recipe came to mind. When I was a child, Cadbury’s steamed chocolate pudding used to be a real treat. Not because they were anything special, but it felt like a treat as they were one of the few puddings we ate that were not homemade.

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Sadly, but expectedly, Cadbury’s steamed chocolate puddings contain rather a lot of dairy goodness, and so it has been a really, really long time since I’ve had one. But I knew that steamed sponge puddings were not meant to be that hard to make… so I thought I really should give it a go. I’m so glad I did; not only was the recipe an absolute triumph, it also inspired the Hazelnut Custard recipe which I posted two weeks ago, which has become a real favourite in our house.

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The hardest thing about this pudding, honestly, was tying up the handle on the pudding basin. If you haven’t got a pudding basin, you can use any heat proof dish – the reason it’s good to use a basin is they have a lip round the top, which is ideal for tying the string round it. My handle turned into some engineered feat of brilliance (read: a lot of unnecessary knots caused by string cut too short!) but worked none the less, and made getting the pudding out of the pot a lot easier!

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If you can handle making the handle, you’re sorted. This is a mix it and go recipe, where all the ingredients get put into a bowl and whizzed together. It would be perfect to make for pudding after a roast or other big family meal. It has universal appeal (who doesn’t love a bit of chocolate?!) and can calmly cook away as you get on with other things.

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And for such a simple recipe, the results are tremendous. Rich and dense chocolate sponge, with a decadent and thick chocolate sauce dripping over the top – an ever so slightly more grown up version of the Cadbury’s favourite. The pudding is perfect served with this hazelnut custard, but would work just as well with ice cream. Along with the custard, this is sure to be a repeated recipe in our house!

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