It’s Mother’s day and though she isn’t with us any more, I made my Mum’s signature dish, Pavlova. She wasn’t a fantastic cook, but she made a mean Pavlova. I didn’t ever get her recipe. So if you have a loved one who makes something you adore, remember to spend the time with them and get them to teach you how to make it. Food is one of the best ways to keep a little bit of that person with you.
Meringue has always been my culinary nemisis. I’ve struggled to make a decent one for years and I think I’ve cracked it thanks to the sainted Mary Berry (this is her recipe) .
I’ve used the traditional strawberries, but you can use any fruit you prefer.
This is a real crowd plesser, and is also a delicious gluten free dessert. Don’t panic if the meringue cracks, the topping will hide this, and the marshmallowy centre is a nice contrast to the crunchy exterior.
You can make the meringue the day before (keep in an airtight box) and decorate just before serving.
For the meringue
6 Egg whites
350 Grams Sugar
1 Tsp cornflour
1 Tbsp Vinegar
250 ml Whipping or double cream
Berries or other fruit to decorate
Pre heat your oven to 150 degrees (Celsius)
Add your egg whites to the bowl of your mixer and at a high speed until it reaches firm peaks
Continue mix and add the sugar a spoonful at a time, then add the cornflour and vinegar (which should be mixed together before adding to the meringue mix
Draw a circle on a sheet of parchment paper and put a small dab of meringue on the corners of a baking sheet before laying the parchment on top (this helps keep it in place)
Spoon your meringue on the circle you drew on the parchment (I like to keep meringue a quite tall, but you can go for a slightly flatter wider one if you prefer)
Place in the oven, and lower the heat to 140 degrees, bake for 1 hour, then the oven off and open the oven door slightly. Leave the meringue in the oven until it is entirely cold
Just before you are due serve, top with whipped cream and strawberries
Vegans and those with gluten intolerances often draw the short straw when it comes to desserts. These lovely little Brownies are really chocolatety and don’t make you feel like you’re missing a thing.
A friend told me about these after she saw the recipe online, so apologies if I’m not giving credit to whoever came up with recipe, but she couldn’t remember the site.
With only 3 ingredients these are great to knock up from stuff you have in the cupboards. Because I hate food waste, I always freeze over ripe bananas if I’m not going to eat them. Freeze them whole with their skin on, and they’re perfect for using in recipes like this or banana bread
3 Ripe bananas (mashed)
120 Grams Peanut butter
50 Grams Cocoa powder
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius)
In a large bowl, mash the banana, then add the cocoa powder and peanut butter and mix until thoroughly combined
Line a 6 in x 6 in tin with baking parchment.
Transfer the Brownie mix to the lined tin and spread evenly.
With colder weather and darker evenings coming in all I want is comfort food.
This was one of my favourite desserts from school and is basically an apple sponge. Whatever you decide to call it, it’s delicious and even better with custard, or ice cream.
I’ve used eating apples, but you could use cooking apples if this what you have (just remember to add some extra sugar if the apples are very tart).
You can also use different fruit, like plums, pears, or rhubarb.
120 Grams Butter (plus extra for greasing the baking dish)
120 Grams Sugar
120 Grams Self Raising Flour
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
6 Dessert Apples
Icing Sugar (optional)
Peel and core the apples, and cut into 3-4cm cubes. Put in a pot with a splash of water and cook over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the apples start to soften. You can cook the apples for longer if you prefer, but I like them to still have a bit of texture. Allow to cool slightly
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius)
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until it becomes light.
Add the vanilla and one egg to the butter and sugar and continue mixing. Add a couple of spoonfuls of flour and the next egg and gradually add the rest of the flour while mix (this should stop the cake mix looking like it has curdled. If this happens don’t panic, just add a spoonful of flour and keep mixing
Transfer the apples to an oven proof dish (about 1-1.5 litre dish should be fine). Drain off any excess liquid and top with the cake mix before spreading it evenly across the top of the apples
Bake for 40 minutes, stick a skewer or toothpick in the middle of the pudding. If the skewer comes out clean the your pudding is ready, if not cook for a further 5 minutes and try again
Allow to cool slightly, and dust with icing sugar if you’re feeling fancy
Any type of chocolate dessert is normally a winner. This pie is similar to a Kentucky Derby pie, I have left out the bourbon, and reduced the sugar because I found the original version overly sweet. The finished result is still rich and delicious and feels really indulgent.
This is divine served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. If you’re short on time you can use shop bought pastry or even a pre-made pastry case.
(For the pastry case)
125 Grams Butter
200 Grams Plain flour
2 Tbsp Sugar
Pinch of salt
For the filling
125 Grams Butter (melted, and allowed to cool)
125 ml Golden syrup
200 Grams Brown sugar
50 Grams Plain flour
150 Grams Walnuts (roughly chopped)
125 Grams Dark chocolate (roughly chopped) or chocolate chips
1 Tsp Vanilla extract
For the pastry, add the butter, sugar and salt and flour to a food processor and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs, (you can use the old fashioned rubbing in method if you don’t have a food processor). Gradually add cold water until the mix comes together as a dough. Form into a ball and wrap in cling film and then chill in the fridge for 30 mins
Grease a 12 inch pie dish/tin, ideally one with removable base. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out on a floured surface or between two pieces of parchment paper until 1/2 cm thick (you can check the size by placing your tin the centre of the pastry and checking there is enough room to cover the depth of your tin)
Carefully transfer the pastry to the pie dish and gently ease the pastry into the edges, place in the fridge and chill for another 30 mins. Trim any excess pastry that hangs over the edge of your pastry case
Preheat your oven to 180 degree (Celsius), place a sheet of baking parchment in the prepared party case and add baking beans (I use old uncooked rice, rather than buying the fancy clay baking beans), Blind bake for 20 minutes and then remove the baking parchment and baking beans
For the filling mix, whisk the melted butter (make sure its cool), eggs and add the sugar, vanilla extract and golden syrup and whisk until it lightens in colour and increases in volume (the sugar should have dissolved)
Whisk in the flour, ensuring there are no lumps, and then fold in the chocolate and walnuts with a spatula
Pour the filling mix into the pastry case and bake at 180 degrees for 45 minutes, until the centre of the pie is just starting to set (it will continue to cook as it cools)
Cool for a couple of hours before serving with whipped cream or ice cream
Do you have a chocoholic in your life, then this is the recipe for you?
If you want to do something special serve them with creme fraiche or fresh cream and fruit for the perfect breakfast or brunch dish.
They also make a great dessert, served warm with ice cream and you could even spread them with Nutella if you want to make them even more indulgent.
These pancakes freeze well if you want to make a batch and freeze.
Makes 12-15 pancakes
225 Grams Self raising flour
100 Grams Chocolate chips (I used white chocolate chips as I like the contrast)
50 Grams Cocoa powder
1 Tbsp Caster sugar
1 Tsp Baking powder
Large pinch of salt
400 mil Milk
Oil and butter to fry
Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, sugar and salt to a large bowl and combine
Crack the eggs into the bowl and start to whisk, gradually add the milk and whisk until the mixture is smooth and lump free
Add the chocolate chips and mix well
In a non stick frying pan, add a small knob of butter and a teaspoon of oil and heat over a medium to high heat
Ladle in 2-3 tablespoons of the mixture in to the pan and wait until bubbles start to appear on the pancake. This will be the sign that the pancake is ready to turn, cook for a further minute or two. Repeat until you have used up all the batter (I always give it a stir as the chocolate chips will sink to the bottom and you want some chips in every pancake)
Serve with some butter or syrup, or ice cream if you’re making this for dessert
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