Hazelnut and Raspberry Eton Mess

Chewy meringue, luscious cream, and juicy raspberries

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.

My meringue nests didn’t really work out.

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.

Served in little jars or glasses these make a delicious dessert.

Ingredients

Meringue

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

Filling

100 Grams Chocolate (use the the type you prefer and grate or scrap into curls

1 Punnet of raspberries

250 Ml Whipped Cream

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees, line two baking sheets with baking parchment, drawing on circles (if making meringue nests)
  2. 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.
  3. Gradually fold in the ground hazelnuts with a metal spoon, and then pipe or spoon onto the prepared baking trays
  4. Bake for 25-30 mins and remove and allow cool before carefully removing from the baking parchment
  5. 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

Tropical Rice Pudding

Scrumptious served with ripe mango or pineapple

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.

Coconut and spices bring a new twist to an old classic

Ingredients

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

Method

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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

Peanut Butter & Jelly Blondies

So good and so simple

I know, I’m becoming obsessed with blondies during the lock down, but they are so easy and so versatile.

The perfect tea time treat

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.

Simple blonde mix, just waiting on its topping.

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.

Dollop spoonfuls of peanut butter and jam/jelly across the top of the blonde mix

For the blondies

120 Grams Butter

60 Grams Peanut butter

125 Grams Light brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 Tsp Baking powder

1/4 Tsp Salt

200 Grams Plain flour

For the topping

80 Grams Peanut butter

80 Grams Jelly/Jam

Swirl the PB & J with the back of a spoon to give a marbled effect.

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven 180 degrees, and line a 8in x 8in baking tin with baking parchment
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. Mix until thoroughly combined, and transfer the mix to your lined baking tin
  5. 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.
  6. Pop in the oven for 30 minutes, and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes
Straight from the oven, allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before cutting into squares.

Easy Almond Brownies

Delicious with berries and ice cream, or just a cup of coffee.

I usually make these with walnuts, but I’m trying to limit how much I go out at the moment. So almonds took their place, as this was what was in the cupboard.

These are more of a cakey, than a fudgey brownie. I don’t mind this at all. I’ve never met a brownie I didn’t like!

They also freeze really well (if any actually survive). I love one with a cup of coffee, but they also make a great dessert served warm with ice cream.

Allow to cool before cutting into squares and freezing

Ingredients

250ml Melted butter

250 Grams Sugar

60 Grams Cocoa powder

200 Grams Plain flour

4 Eggs

60 Grams Almonds (chopped)

1/2 Tsp Salt

1/2 Tsp Baking powder

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees, and line a 9in x 13in baking tin
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients and nuts in one bowl
  3. Add the eggs and melted butter, and mix until through combined
  4. Transfer the batter to the lined baking, and bake for 25 minutes.

Blondies with Chocolate Chips

I think we can all agree that no one is counting calories at the minute. I’m trying to fill my time and decided to try blondies (the chewy caramely cousin of the brownie).

This is based on a Simply Recipes version, they used white chocolate chips. I didn’t have these, so I improvised my chopping up orange flavoured chocolate (if the manufacturer would like to send me some samples that would be great, just saying)

You can also use chopped nuts or even cubes of apple. These freeze well, but realistically won’t last long enough.

FYI, your kitchen will smell amazing.

Recipe

115 Grams Butter

220 Grams Dark brown sugar

1 Tsp Vanilla extract (option)

1/2 Tsp Baking powder

1/2 Tsp Salt

125 Grams Plain flour

60 Grams Chocolate (chopped)

1 Egg

Fold in the chopped Chocolate

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees, and grease and line a 21cm x 21cm brownie tin with baking parchment
  2. Melt the butter and add to the sugar and vanilla extract and whisk, when the mixture has cooled a little whisk in the egg
  3. Add the flour, salt, and baking powder and mixture thoroughly. Fold in the chocolate, before transferring to a lined baking tin
  4. Bake for 25 minutes, and allow to cool in the tin for 20 minutes

Super Simple Shortbread

Sweet, buttery and delicious.

I love shortbread, but I had horrendous flashbacks of trying make it in Home Economics class in school. It was a nightmare to roll out, stuck to the counter top, and was impossible to cut out and transfer to the tin neatly.

All this changed, when I discovered this recipe from the amazing women who run the The Edible Flower, in Ballyinahinch. This recipe is incredibly easy, doesn’t need to be rolled out, and is easy to cut into neat fingers for serving. These also make lovely little gifts if you fancy them up in a nice bag, or tin.

Who doesn’t love someone who turns up with a sweet treat.

Ingredients

315 Grams Butter

350 Grams Self raising flour

120 Grams Caster sugar (plus a little extra to dust the finished shortbread with)

120 Grams Corn flour

1/2 Tsp Salt

1 1/2 Tsps Cinnamon (optional)

If you’re a complete neat freak you can use a ruler to make sure all your shortbread is cut to the same size. As you can see, mine aren’t quite perfect.

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 140 degrees
  2. Melt the butter in a pam over a low heat, or in a microwave in short bursts
  3. Weigh out all your other ingredients in a bowl and add the melted butter
  4. Mix until it is a soft dough, making sure there are no floury bits
  5. Press the dough into a 20cm x 30cm Swiss roll tin. You can smooth the top with a palette knife if you want it completely smooth, but don’t worry if you don’t
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes. Once cooked, cut into fingers, while still warm. Sprinkle lightly with a little caster sugar
  7. Makes 28 large or 56 small fingers of shortbread. This shortbread freezes really well, and also makes really nice gifts for people

Frozen Banana Pops

These were inspired by the great minds at Thug Kitchen,  these food writers like myself, try to stay healthy and are prone to saying f*ck quite a lot.  You can also use vegan dark chocolate if that’s your thing.

Gorgeous on a hot day, or my own guilty pleasure is to have them while sitting on the sofa with a cup of coffee.  But f*ck it, eat them how you like.

Makes 6

Ingredients

6 Lollipop sticks

100 grams Dark chocolate (you can use vegan chocolate if that’s your thing)

3 Bananas

1 Tsp. Coconut Oil

50 grams chopped almonds (peanuts, or hazelnuts also work really well)

Method

  1. Line a baking sheet or plate with grease proof paper.
  2. Toast the nuts in a dry pan, and set to one side. (It’s worth taking the time to do this, as it really improves the flavour).
  3. Chop the chocolate and put in a bowl over a pot of barely simmering water, and allow it to melt.  You can also try melting this in the microwave, by give it blasts of 30 seconds at a time.  Once the chocolate has melted, stir in the teaspoon of coconut oil.
  4. While the chocolate is melting, peel the bananas and cut width ways. Stick the lollipop stick up the middle of the banana from the flat end.
  5. When the chocolate is melted dip the banana in it, using a spoon to cover any bits that aren’t covered.
  6. Sprinkle the chocolate covered bananas with the nuts, place on the grease proof paper and put in the freezer for 2 hours.
  7. When frozen if you aren’t going to eat these immediately, but them in freezer bag.