Category Archives: dessert

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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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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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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Chocolate Pear Pudding

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The perfect dessert when you’re in a rush or need to feed a crowd. Relying on store cupboard ingredients and a bit of oven magic, this dessert needs less than 10 minutes of your time. All you have to do is open a tin and stir…

This is a very nostalgic dessert for me. Perhaps one of the first recipes my mum ever made from Nigella Lawson’s ‘Nigella Express’ recipe book, it is one we still come back to regularly. The beauty of it is simple; a warm, self saucing chocolate sponge pudding with hot, gentle tinned pears spread throughout that requires under 10 minutes of your time. You probably have most of the ingredients in your house already – perhaps just missing the tinned pears – so do like me and start keeping a few tins handy!

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Even more than its delicious simplicity, the recipe is an absolute doddle. In true Nigella style it is a throw-it-all-in-a-bowl-and-mix-it kind of recipe. And, actually, if you have a food processor, the mixing work is done for you.

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The key to getting this dessert spot on every time in my book is to undercook it vs the original Nigella recipe. I only cook mine for 20 minutes, and this ensures that I’m left with delicious hot batter all around the pears, making this a wonderful dessert of contrasts. I get a light and fluffy sponge with some crispy outer bits, piping hot juicy pears, and around it a sauce like batter with an intense chocolate flavour. It also makes the recipe incredibly forgiving to a little bit of over or under baking!

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If I’m in the mood, I’ll sometimes go one further and actually make chocolate sauce to drizzle on top for an even more indulgent pudding. A little scoop of ice cream never goes amiss either…

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Chocolate & Amaretti Cake. Dairy, Wheat & Gluten Free!

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A dense chocolate cake, filled with amaretti biscuits and lots and lots of chocolate! This is a perfect dessert cake for a special occasion; rich, decadent, and chocolatey in every mouthful!

This dessert was stumbled upon by accident, and I’m so glad I did! In search of something to give a chocolate fix, I came across this recipe on the Food Network. Full of ground almonds, amaretti biscuits and orange zest it just sounded too good not to try. I’m now a real convert to using chocolate and almond as a combination ever since these delicious Raspberry & Amaretti Brownies, and it never disappoints.

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Not only do the ground almonds and amaretti biscuits provide a lot of flavour, they also replace any flour you would normally need in a cake. That means not only is this cake dairy free, it is also gluten and wheat free too! You really wouldn’t know it though – the cake slices beautifully and has a dense cake-like texture.

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Now although this is a cake, and you could, of course, eat it at tea time – I think this cake really deserves to be eaten as a dessert. As rich and decadent as it is, it just cries out for a light drizzle of chocolate sauce on top, and is delightful with a small scoop of ice cream. It’s not heavy as such, but a small slice will go a long way after a big meal!

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I’m making this cake to take to my brother’s house for Christmas as the chocolate dessert – so one of the absolute best things about it is that it genuinely tastes better a day or two after baking. The amaretti flavour seemed to come out a lot more, and you could taste more of the orange zest. I’m a firm believer that everyone needs a repertoire of recipes from the quick and instant to the make in advance; and this recipe would fit that second category perfectly.

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As a side note, if you’re making this for an adults only group, I would highly recommend adding a small amount of Disaronno. The amaretti-flavoured liqueur gives a slight alcoholic heat to the chocolate sauce, and really helps the almond flavours stand out. Trust me – once you’ve tried this sauce, you’ll start to think of the many other things it would go with….

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Baked Apples

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A delicious, healthy, low sugar dessert perfect for using whatever you have around the house. Stuffed with pecans, sultanas and cinnamon, the maple syrup and butter filling turns into a beautiful caramel sauce. 

The third and last of my healthy baking series are these simple baked apples. This is one of my favourite desserts all year round as it is so quick and involves things that I pretty much always have around the house. Plus, it is genuinely healthy (as far as you can have a healthy dessert of course!) because they are low in sugar and count as 1 of your 5 a day!

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I use maple syrup as the sugar in this recipe; you could use any sugar, but I personally love the flavour of maple syrup. Nothing compares in my book! Plus, as an unrefined sugar, it is marginally better for you that using refined white caster sugar… but let’s be honest – the choice should be all about the flavour (especially if it’s got base!). As the recipe also uses sultanas (you could use any dried fruit really) and a sweet eating apple, you don’t need to add much maple syrup at all. The dessert is already quite sweet on it’s own, making it a perfect weekday evening treat.

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If that doesn’t tempt you enough, then let me tell you that honestly the hardest bit of this dessert is cutting the centre out of the apples, which can be done with a small sharp knife or an apple corer if you’re lazy, like me. That really is as hard as it gets! Once this is done, all that is left is mixing the remaining ingredients and stuffing the centre, and then baking. Easy!

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My recipe uses sultanas, pecans and cinnamon – which is just perfect at this time of year when the warming spices infiltrate your house as the apples bake. But you could make these at any time of year, with anything you have in the cupboards really! Vanilla works well with walnuts and cranberries; or use pistachios and raisins. Really anything goes!

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Apple & Blackberry Crumble

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A healthy low added sugar dessert, perfect for feeding a crowd in a hurry. It’s the perfect recipe to have up your sleeve in time for Christmas!

Yes, I’m sorry – I’m joining the bandwagon and mentioning Christmas! It just doesn’t seem possible that it’s that time already, but then here we are. This recipe, and the recipes over the next few weeks are very much inspired by my holiday to Australia, and perhaps not in the way you’d expect (spoiler: No crocodile or kangaroo ingredients in sight!)

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As a baking blogger, at times it can seem quite irresponsible filling up people’s news feeds with tempting desserts and sweet bakes. I often get asked by people how do I stay slim if I eat all of this – and there’s one giant secret. A good balanced diet!! Yes, I may eat cookies, and chocolate desserts, and ice cream – but not every day. Most days, if I want a dessert I’m reaching for something smaller, healthier, and simpler, and that’s what I want to share with you all.

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Australia fits in with this because I think they’ve really nailed how to do healthy the tasty way. Particularly in Melbourne, there were so many amazing cafes and restaurants packed with people, and all serving purposefully healthy, delicious food. It really made me think about why I hadn’t shared some of these recipes before…

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This Apple Crumble may surprise you as being ‘healthy’, but actually, despite its butter and flour filled topping, it contains low added sugar. At just over 6g of sugar per portion you can have either a whole portion of crumble, or one third of a piece of these Raspberry & Amaretti Brownies… and let’s be honest. Who has just one brownie!?

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The crumble also has less flour in the topping that normal. By using a mixture of porridge oats, nuts and flour you up the nutritional content of the top, plus you get way more crunchiness – perfect for a crumble topping in my book! You could even take the healthiness of this dessert one step further and use gluten and wheat free flour instead.

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Overall, I hope you enjoy this mini series of recipes. In the run up to christmas where everywhere is filled with unhealthy food, it can be nice to have a healthier choice when you just fancy a bit of pudding….

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Cheat’s Chocolate Soufflé

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A simple and impressive dessert, perfect for any occasion or just because you want dessert on a Tuesday! A chocolate lover’s delight, it really needs no accompaniment other than a spoon…

Chances are if you’ve been to my house for a meal, you’ve eaten this dessert. And in all those times, with all those people, I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love it. Who wouldn’t?! Imagine a small amount of the lightest, most delicate, warm chocolate sponge around the outside, and then in the middle a warm, velvety smooth, rich, liquid chocolate centre. It’s like the centre of a Lindt chocolate, but warm and somehow lighter. Just perfect in my book.

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This dessert is part soufflé, part chocolate fondant. I’ve called it a Cheat’s Chocolate Soufflé as although the ingredients and baking method are right for a soufflé, the end result (what with that gloriously rich chocolate centre oozing away) is more like a fondant. However, unlike a chocolate fondant, this dessert does not require the hair-raising moment of trying to turn it out of its tin in one piece. It’s just the dish, a spoon, and you.

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So now we’ve established what this dessert is, how can it be ‘easy’?! I promise it is… in essence, it is melted chocolate and butter mixed with egg yolks, with fluffy egg white folded in (and trust me, you can knock all the air out of your egg whites and the end result will still be fantastic) – all kid’s play really! The trickiest bit, honestly, is baking them for the first time. This is a real test of how temperature accurate your oven is. Don’t be disappointed if on the first try you’re not left with enough of the liquid centre… next time (and I promise, there will be a next time once you’ve tried it), just reduce your cooking time by 2 minutes, and I promise they’ll be perfect.

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So, if you know a chocolate lover or just need something to hit the spot, give this a go. I promise you won’t be dissapointed!

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Amaretti and Raspberry Brownies

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For Meg…

The chocolatiest, moistest, most delicious, decadent brownies ever. With fresh raspberries and crumbled amaretti biscuits, it takes the humble brownie to a whole new level of awesomeness.

We went up to stay with my brother and his girlfriend, Meg, for the weekend in their new house. I asked if they had any baking requests, and Meg told me all about these brownies. They originate from Jamie’s Italian, and Meg described them as the best brownie she had ever eaten. Well, challenge accepted!

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Moist from tons of chocolate and fresh raspberries, these are gooey to the max making them ideal for dessert. Almonds and raspberries are a classic, delicious combination; added to rich chocolate, all the flavours are enhanced and it creates the most decadent brownies. I love raspberries (in case you didn’t already notice from my many raspberry related posts!) and they pair brilliantly with dark chocolate. This recipe is no exception – the tart raspberries cut through the sweetness, leaving you feeling as though there is always room for another piece…

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I know I said in my last brownie post that there was no need to ever look for another brownie recipe, but even the most brilliant people can admit when they were wrong! For a dessert brownie this recipe really is fantastic, as it is much gooey-er than my go to recipe. This is from a lot of melted chocolate in the mix, whereas my usual recipe relies on it’s chocolate hit from cocoa powder. This definitely makes them a lot richer, and makes them feel more dessert like.

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I’m pleased to say these rivalled Jamie O’s (or at least, Meg said they did – having never tried them myself I, of course, could not possibly comment!). And so, challenge accepted, challenge won!

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Plum & Almond Custard Tart

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An elegant and deceptively easy dessert. An almond pastry case with juicy plum jewels set in a delicious, smooth and creamy almond milk custard. Delicious on it’s own, or served with ice cream or stewed fruits.

I really do love and believe in eating seasonally, and this dessert is no exception. At this time of year, when the berry season has drawn to a close and the stoned fruits are beginning to end, I don’t think there is anything better than baked fruits. Not only does it bring out their sweetness and flavour, it smells as it bakes festive and fills you with warmth. What a perfect way to welcome to cooler seasons that are approaching!

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Plums and almonds are a classic combination; the sweet, nutty almonds provide a delicate base flavour to the dessert, so when you get a pop of bright, tart plum in your mouth nothing distracts you from the flavour. That said – the two flavours really work together. The nutty flavour gives depth to the plums, something particularly desirable when using up the last of the season’s fruits.

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I’m using one of my favourite pastry recipes for this – it originally comes from my Apple & Blueberry Frangipane Tart – but I chose it because it turns out light and short every time. It is also a very forgiving pastry. What I mean by that is if yours crumbles to pieces as you are trying to line the tin (and see my tips and tricks on lining a tin with pastry here!) you really don’t need to worry. Just using your fingers and the offcuts of pastry, you can make your pastry look almost perfect, and it really doesn’t affect the results. Now, that’s my kind of baking!

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