If you have read this blog for a while you’ll know I enjoy a good forage. Collecting blackberries always takes me back to being a kid. Wild blackberries also have a much more intense flavour than the farmed variety. So with a glut of Autumn berries I had to come up with something delicious. If you can’t get hold of blackberries, frozen blueberries also work really well.
I don’t do fancy desserts that often, but for things like birthdays it’s nice to push the boat out.
I have included some meringue shards for decoration but this is totally optional. I only made this because I had egg whites left from making the pastry and I didn’t want to waste them. Full disclosure, they were meant to be little meringue kisses but I was beaten again by baking nemesis, meringue! When I tried to pipe it everything just spread, so I decided to make free hand swirls and ended up a kind of meringue bark. It still tasted fine.
Ganache sounds complicated, but its really only chocolate and cream. I made a rich sweet biscuit pastry for the base, but you can use shop bought short crust pastry or even a ready made pie case if you’re short on time.
For the pastry
200 Grams Plain flour
80 Grams Icing sugar
100 Grams Butter (chilled, and cut into cubes)
4 Egg yolks
For the ganache
300 Grams White chocolate
300 ml Double cream
150 Grams Blackberries
For the meringue (optional)
4 Egg whites
200 Grams Caster sugar
1/2 Tsp Food colouring (optional)
Put the flour and icing sugar in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the cubed butter and blitz until it looks fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks one a time and pulse until the pastry starts coming together
Turn the pastry out until a floured surface. Form into a ball and wrap in cling film, refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Grease a 9in loose base tart tin, and preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius).
Because the pastry is so rich I think it’s easier to roll the pastry out between two sheets of grease proof paper. Roll out the pastry out until it’s approx half a centimetre think. Remove the top layer of paper and flip onto your tart tin. Make sure to press the pastry into the edges of your tin, pierce the base of the tin all over with a fork and refrigerate for 30 mins
Put a sheet of grease proof paper across the pastry base and top with baking beans (I just keep a jar of old rice that I reuse). Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the grease proof paper and baking beans, return to the oven to bake for another 10-15 minutes (Be careful, because of the sugar in the pastry it browns very quickly). Remove from the oven when brown and allow to cool.
For the meringue, whisk the egg whites until double their size, gradually add the caster sugar, and spread on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. With a cocktail stick swirl the food colouring through the meringue
Bake for an hour at 120 degrees (Celsius), although to cool and then break into shards
For the ganache, break the chocolate into chunks in a large bowl.
Add the cream and blackberries to a pot and heat until just before boiling. Pour the cream and blackberries through a sieve onto the chocolate, press the berries with the back of a spoon until only the seeds are left (then discard). Whisk the chocolate and cream together until it melts. Allow to cool a little before pouring into the cooled pastry shell. Refrigerate until the ganache has firmed up.
Before serving, top with chards of the meringue. You can also use other toppings like fresh blackberries, or white chocolate curls
If you aren’t confident with desserts this is really easy. All the ingredients for the sponge are dumped in a bowl and whisked together before being baked. The topping is simply ready made jam and coconut.
The sponge also freezes really well, so if you’re super organised make a double batch of the mix. Bake two sponges, and when completely cool, wrap one one of the sponges in cling film and freeze, top with jam and coconut once thawed.
I’ve used margarine in this (Mary Berry claims it’s better for sponge cakes, and who am I to argue), it’s also cheaper. Feel free to use butter if you prefer
Serve with custard for the perfect comforting dessert.
For the sponge
225 Grams Self raising flour
225 Grams Sugar
225 Grams Margarine
For the topping
200 Grams Jam
25 Grams Dessicated coconut
Add all the ingredients for the sponge in a bowl. Mix with an electric whisk for 5 minutes until light and fluffy
Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees
Line a 30cm x 18cm square cake tin with baking parchment. Transfer the sponge mix into the tin and spread evenly with a spatula
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, and allow to cool
Stir the jam and if it’s too thick to spread add a table spoon of hot water and mix well
Spread the jam evenly across the sponge and sprinkle with coconut
I tried these out these because I misjudged the amount of rice pudding I was making (in my never ending quest to use up things that have hanging around my cupboards).
The up shot is that I had a big load of rice pudding that I didn’t want to throw away so I came up with these as a way of using it up. Turns out pretty much any type of fried carb is delicious. These also make a lovely dessert for anyone who needs a gluten free option. Yes, they might be a bit of work but you can make the rice pudding ahead of time. I would class this as weekend cooking.
Just like making the savoury version, the rice needs to be cold. I tried a couple of different versions with different centres. If you’re a chocolate lover, I tried one’s with a chocolate button in the middle which were really good. However, for my favourite ones I added a teaspoon of jam for the centre, but feel free to experiment with other fillings.
For the rice pudding
200 Grams Pudding Rice
300ml Condensed milk
For the coating
2-3 Tbsps Corn flour
1-2 Eggs (beaten)
150 Grams Rice crispies or puffed rice (put in a plastic bag and scrunch up to crush the cereal into finer pieces, but not dust)
Oil for frying.
Add the rice, milk and condensed milk to a pot with a lid. Bring up to just before boiling point, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Stir regularly to prevent sticking, cook until soft (the rice I used took just over an hour, but other brands of rice may not take that long. Depending on the rice you use you may need to add more milk/water, but the pudding should be pretty thick
When your rice is cooked, you can enjoy some rice pudding right away. The rest of it should be allowed to cool before transferring to an air tight container and refrigerate (ideally overnight, but at least for a couple of hours)
Take a large tablespoon of chilled rice pudding and flatten in the palm of your hand. Add whatever filling you are using to the centre of the mix and form the rice around it until you make a ball (wetting your hands stops the rice sticking to them)
When you have finished making all the balls, place on a plate and refrigerate for an hour to allow them to set
To prepare the balls, first of all heat your oil (I don’t know the exact temperature to tell you, but my go way to check the temperature is to drop in a cube of bread if it start frying right away you’re probably good to go. Be careful the oil doesn’t get too hot or else the centre of the rice ball will be cold)
In separate dishes, lay out the cornflour, egg and crushed rice crispies
Roll each ball in first the cornflour, then the egg and finally in the rice crispies.
Add to the oil in batches and fry until golden brown (don’t be tempted to cook too many at one time). These are gorgeous served with vanilla ice cream.
Before tiramisu purists start, I know this is not strictly speaking a tiramisu. I’m a card carrying coffee fiend, but I’m not a fan of coffee flavour in sweet things.
What I do love is lemon flavoured desserts. This recipe gives you the creamy unctuous texture of a tiramisu, with the refreshing tang of lemon that stops this being sickly sweet.
The coffee flavour is replaced with lemon and ginger tea, and a shot limoncello gives an extra zing of flavour. This is a good recipe if you’re entertaining, you can make it the day before and it’s easy to plate up.
(N. B. This recipe contains raw eggs and is probably best not served to potentially vulnerable groups like pregnant women, the elderly and very young children)
500 Grams Marscapone cheese
250 Grams Sponge fingers (lady fingers)
125 Grams Caster sugar
1 Lemon and ginger teabag (you can use other fruit teas if you prefer, but I think this works well)
1 Lemon (juice and zest)
1 Shot of limoncello liquor (optional)
250ml Boiling water
200 Grams Lemon curd
Soak the teabag in the boiling water for 5-10 minutes before removing the teabag. Allow the tea to cool and add the limoncello to the tea
Separate the eggs. Add the caster sugar, lemon juice and zest to the egg yolks and whisk with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Add the marscapone and whisk again until the ingredients are combined
In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until they reach firm peaks. Fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture with a metal spoon, making sure its thoroughly combined
Briefly dip half the sponge fingers in the lemon tea mixture and line a layer in a 9 x 12 inch dish. When you have a layer of dipped sponge fingers, spread this layer with one third of the lemon curd
Top this layer with half of the marscapone mix
Dip the remaining sponge fingers in the lemon tea mixture and lay on top. Spread this layer again with one third of the lemon curd
Top with the remaining marscapone mix, dot the top with the remaining lemon curd and then drag a knife through it to create a marbled effect
Cover with cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for 3-4 hours, or ideally overnight
Most of my baking is throw it in a bowl give a quick stir and throw it in the oven. Every now and again I like to go a little bit fancier, not as fancy as those creations you see in French patisseries that are total works of art, but a bit more involved than a tray bake.
As with some of my favourite recipes this came together as the result of an accident. I was in a supermarket and meant to lift ground almonds but lifted ground hazelnuts instead. If you can’t find ground hazelnuts, just give whole hazelnuts a whiz in the food processor, just don’t go too fine with them or else the hazelnuts will start to release their natural oils which is death for a meringue. I used raspberries in this, but oranges or strawberries also go really well.
I’ll be honest, I was trying to make pretty frou frou little meringue nests. It went horribly wrong (I have a checkered past with meringue and it beat me once again. I think I need one those beautiful very expensive mixers, just saying in case anyone would like to send one to the Sunnyside Kitchen and break my meringue curse). If you are better with meringues than I am please give the little nests a try I think they would look adorable.
So I had a pile of ugly meringues, and rather than waste these I just adapted what I had and layered broken meringue, cream, chocolate and fruit to make a version of Eton mess, it tasted fabulous! This is also a fantastic gluten free dessert.
I like to think of cooking as a metaphor for life, sometimes you end up with something you didn’t want or didn’t ask for. Sometimes things don’t work out as you hoped or planned. But with a little imagination and the right attitude you can still create something great.
150 Grams Hazelnuts (ground)
7 Eggs whites
385 Grams Caster sugar (if you don’t have caster sugar, whiz ordinary granulated sugar in a food processor of a couple of seconds)
1/2 Tsp White wine vinegar
100 Grams Chocolate (use the the type you prefer and grate or scrap into curls
1 Punnet of raspberries
250 Ml Whipped Cream
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees, line two baking sheets with baking parchment, drawing on circles (if making meringue nests)
Separate your eggs and whisk the egg whites until they resemble stiff peaks, whisk in the sugar a tablespoon at time and then add the vinegar.
Gradually fold in the ground hazelnuts with a metal spoon, and then pipe or spoon onto the prepared baking trays
Bake for 25-30 mins and remove and allow cool before carefully removing from the baking parchment
When the meringue are completely cold, start to layer them up with the whipped cream, prepared fruit and grated chocolate. I use little jam jars, but these also look really good served in tall glasses. If you have any whole hazelnuts left you could also toast these in a pan and allow them to cool before topping the desserts to give some crunch
I’ve mentioned before that when I was a kid, my Mum wasn’t a great cook (I love you Mo, but we both know the truth). Dessert in my house was usually shop bought, and when I was really young one of favourites was tinned creamed rice with a big spoonful of jam.
Fast forward God knows how many years, and I taught myself how to cook. I was also lucky enough to go out into the world and try some amazing flavours. So I decided to try and experiment with some of my favourites. Coconut, ginger and lemon grass gives a new twist on this traditional dessert.
I like this chilled and served with mango or pineapple, but it’s also really good warm, and you can enjoy it with whatever fruit you prefer.
I used milk in this recipe, but you can substitute some of this with cream if want to make a really indulgent dessert. If you want to make a vegan version, swap cow’s milk for almond milk. I’ve tried both versions and they’re both delicious.
400 ml Can Coconut milk
250 Grams Pudding rice
40 Grams Sugar
500 ml Milk
1 Large stalk of lemon grass (kept whole but bruised)
1 Thumb sized piece of ginger
Cut your piece of ginger in half length ways, then smack your lemon grass with the back of a knife (or pot if you want get some frustration out). Bruising the lemongrass helps release the flavour. The ginger and lemon grass are kept big to make it easier to fish out when the rice pudding is cooked
Put all the ingredients in a pot with a lid and heat until just before the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer over a low heat stirring regularly. Each type of rice is different, so cook until the rice is soft. (mine took about 30 minutes). Different rices will absorb different amounts of liquid so if you think the mix is looking too dry add a little milk/water
When the rice is cooked you can scoop out the ginger and lemon grass. The rice pudding can be served hot or cold. I like it served with fruit
I know, I’m becoming obsessed with blondies during the lock down, but they are so easy and so versatile.
I wanted something delicious and had run out of chocolate. After a quick scan though my cupboards and my favourite recipes, I settled on this recipe based on one from Cafe Sucre Farine. I like these with a cup of coffee, but they’re also great with a big glass of ice cold milk, or for dessert served with ice cream.
I actually used lingonberry jam (usually served with meatballs at a large Swedish furniture store), because it was all I had, and it worked fine. You can use whatever flavour of jam/jelly you want or have at home. This is a pretty simple recipe so is probably ideal if you have little hands to keep busy, kids love dolloping on and swirling the pb & j.
For the blondies
120 Grams Butter
60 Grams Peanut butter
125 Grams Light brown sugar
1/2 Tsp Baking powder
1/4 Tsp Salt
200 Grams Plain flour
For the topping
80 Grams Peanut butter
80 Grams Jelly/Jam
Pre-heat your oven 180 degrees, and line a 8in x 8in baking tin with baking parchment
Melt 60 Grams peanut butter and butter together in the microwave. I usually give it 30 seconds blasts so as not to burn it, and obviously use a microwave safe bowl
When the peanut butter and butter have melted allow to cool a little add the sugar, salt and baking powder, stir in a beaten egg and then the flour.
Mix until thoroughly combined, and transfer the mix to your lined baking tin
For the topping in two separate bowls add the jam and peanut butter, and microwave each for 30 seconds to soften. Dollop spoonfuls of each across the top of the blonde mix. Then smear with the back of a spoon to give a marbled affect.
Pop in the oven for 30 minutes, and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes
Anyone one who follows this blog will probably have guessed that I usually don’t do dainty.
But trapped in the house on a rainy Saturday afternoon, I decided to rustle up something different . Macarons are cute little almond meringue cookies, and can have a variety of fillings including butter cream or jam. I have used chocolate ganache, which sounds fancy but is basically just cream and chocolate.
If you’ve seen macarons for sale they can come in a variety of rainbow colours, and can be eye wateringly expensive. This is a bit of a rip off considering that while they might be a bit fiddly they’re not especially difficult to make. They also make great gifts.
For the mcarons
210 Grams Icing sugar
95 Grams Ground almonds
3 Egg whites (at room temperature)
50 Grams Caster sugar
1/2 Tsp Vanilla paste
Food colouring (this is optional, but it does help them look nice. I would recommend using gel or powdered food colouring)
For the ganache
100 Grams Dark chocolate
150 Grams Double cream
Add the icing sugar and ground almonds to a food processor and whizz for a couple of minutes
Sieve the sugar and almonds into a bowl, and discard any bits of almond that don’t go through the sieve
In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk until they form soft peaks Gradually add the caster sugar, vanilla and food colouring until you have stiff peaks (you’ve probably saw on cooking shows when the cook holds the bowl over their head and nothing moves)
Start to fold in the sugar and almond mix with a spatula or large metal spoon in small batches
When fully combined, transfer the batter into a piping bag
On a sheet of baking paper, mark out circles about 3cm each. Put a dot of the batter on the four corners of a baking sheet and lay the baking paper on top (this will help it stay in place)
Pipe a blob of the batter on the pre drawn circles until you have used up all the mix. I ended up using 2 baking trays
Once you have piped all the mcarons, lift the trays a couple of inches and tap it down on the counter to get out any air bubbles. If you have any little tails of batter sticking up after piping, wet you finger and flatten them (it will stop them burning)
Allow the macarons to sit out for 30 minutes, this helps them set and forms a skin
Bake in an oven preheated to 150 degrees for 17 minutes, cool before filling
To make the ganache, break the chocolate into small bits and put in a microwave bowl. Melt the chocolate in the microwave (blast for 30 seconds at a time, be sure not to burn)
When the chocolate is melted, add the cream and stir until properly combined, allow to cool
When the ganache is cool, take a palette knife and spread the filling on the underside of a macaron the sandwich with another. Continue until all the macaron halves have been sandwiched together