Coffee and Hazelnut Swirls

Coffee and Hazelnut Swirls

 

A very light meringue dessert, with chocolate and cream, that tastes heavenly. This is really easy to make and looks impressive.

 

Coffee and Hazelnut Swirls
Prepares: 12 meringues
 
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 3 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), whites only
  • 170g (6 oz) caster/superfine sugar (¾ cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp coffee extract
  • 3 tbsp hazelnuts, finely chopped (or walnuts)

  • For the filling
  • 70g (2½ oz) dark chocolate, chopped
  • 20g (¾ oz) butter (1½ tbsp)
  • 240ml (8 fl oz) double/heavy cream (1 cup)

  • To serve
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder (optional)


  1. Method
  2. For the meringue
  3. Preheat oven to a cool setting, 140°C (275°F) (gas 1)

  4. Toast the hazelnuts by heating in a pan over a medium–low heat until just turning colour and you can begin to smell the nuts. Watch them carefully as they can burn very quickly. Set aside to cool.

  5. Now whisk the egg whites until stiff. Then slowly add the sugar, a spoonful at a time, whisking well between each addition. Drizzle over the coffee extract and whisk again until mixed in. The meringue should form stiff peaks and be glossy.

  6. Carefully fold in the nuts.

  7. Line two baking trays/sheets with baking paper. Dab a little meringue in each corner of the trays/sheets to hold the linings in place. Then swirl spoonfuls of meringue onto the paper. The mixture will make approximately 24 meringues (you want an even number). Do not try piping the meringue as the nuts will clog the tip! Now bake for 1 hour 15 minutes until the meringues are dry and lift freely from the paper. Turn off the oven and, if you have time, leave them to cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar. Otherwise transfer the trays/sheets onto a wire cooling rack and leave the meringues to cool. When they are cool, remove from the paper..

  8. For the filling
  9. Melt the butter slowly with half the chocolate. Remove from the heat and add the rest of the chocolate, stirring until it has melted. Beat with a wooden spoon and, when it is smooth, coat the flat surface of 12 meringues.

  10. Now whip the cream until stiff and spread it to sandwich together a chocolate-coated meringue and a plain meringue.

  11. To serve
  12. Cocoa powder can be sifted lightly over the top of each meringue to decorate.

Updated: March 18, 2019

Crunchy Apple Crumble

Crunchy Apple CrumbleCrunchy Apple Crumble

 

Apples are cooked with raisins and a hint of cinnamon while walnuts added to the crumble mixture to make this a real crunchy apple crumble. One of those comforting desserts, perfect for a winter’s day, and served with lots of cream.

 

Crunchy Apple Crumble
Prepares: 6 servings
 
  • Preparation time: About 25 minutes
  • Standing time: 1 hour
  • Cooking time: 1 hour

  • Ingredients
  • For the fruit
  • 1kg (2 lb 4 oz) Bramley apples (or any variety suitable for cooking) (about 6)
  • 70g (2½ oz) light muscovado sugar/soft light brown sugar (¼ cup)
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 85g (3 oz) raisins (⅓ cup)
  • a little softened butter for greasing

  • For the crumble
  • 55g (2 oz) walnut pieces (½ cup)
  • 125g (4½ oz) plain/all-purpose flour (1 cup)
  • 100g (3½ oz) chilled butter, cubed (½ cup, or 1 stick less 1 tbsp)
  • 55g (2 oz) demerara sugar (¼ cup)

  • To serve
  • Double cream/heavy cream

  • You will also need a 23cm(9 inch) shallow ovenproof dish


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) (gas 5).

  3. Peel, core and thickly slice the apples. Then place them in a large bowl.

  4. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon, add to the apples and toss to coat.

  5. Now add the raisins, separating those that may have stuck together, and toss to evenly distribute.

  6. Grease the ovenproof dish and then tip in the apples. Sprinkle over 4 tablespoons of water, cover the dish with foil, and bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes. Turn over the apple slices halfway through the cooking time. Remove from the oven, turn the slices over again, and set aside for about 1 hour to cool.

  7. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F), (gas 6).

  8. To prepare the crumble, finely chop the walnut pieces and then set to one side.

  9. Rub the butter into the flour and then stir in the walnuts. The mixture should look like large breadcrumbs.

  10. Mix in the sugar and then spoon the crumble mixture evenly over the top of the apples.

  11. Bake for 30 minutes until the crumble is browning and the juices are starting to bubble through.

  12. Serve with a jug of cream.

Updated: March 3, 2019

Cheat’s Crêpes Suzette

Cheat's Crêpes Suzette

 

I call these Cheat’s Crêpes Suzette because they aren’t flambéed just before serving. The crêpes with orange segments in orange sauce flavoured with Cointreau still make them sublime. (To flambé them, just follow the last steps of the method.)

 

Cheat's Crêpes Suzette
Prepares: 4–6 servings
 
  • Preparation time: About 30 minutes
  • Standing time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: About 25 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the crêpes
  • 115g (4 oz) plain/all-purpose flour (1 cup less 2 tbsp)
  • pinch salt
  • 2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • 240ml (8 fl oz) semi-skimmed/2% milk (1 cup) mixed with 60ml (2 fl oz) water (¼ cup)
  • 55g (2 oz) butter (¼ cup, or ½ stick)

  • For the orange sauce
  • 55g (2 oz) icing/powdered sugar (½ cup)
  • 3 small oranges
  • 85g (3 oz) butter (3 tbsp, or ³⁄₈ stick)
  • 1 tbsp Grand Marnier or Cointreau

  • You will also need a 25cm (10 inch) heavy gauge aluminium frying pan/skillet.


  1. Method
  2. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.

  3. Make a well in the centre of the flour and break in the eggs. Using an electric whisk or a balloon whisk, whisk the eggs into the flour, gradually adding the milk and incorporating the flour from around the edge of the bowl. Scrape any remaining flour down from the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and whisk again until all the mixture is smooth. It should be the consistency of thin cream. Set aside for 20 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile prepare the sauce. Squeeze the juice from one orange into a small pan and add the icing sugar. Stir to dissolve and then add the butter. Gently heat to melt the butter and then simmer for 2 minutes. The mixture will thicken slightly. Set the pan to one side.

  5. Then zest the two remaining oranges and put the zest to one side.

  6. Now remove all the pith from the 2 oranges, separate into their segments and remove any pips. Cut each segment in half.

  7. Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F) (gas 2) and place five plates in the oven to warm.

  8. To prepare for cooking the crêpes: Melt the butter in the pan/skillet. Spoon 2 tablespoons into the batter and whisk it in. Pour the remainder into a small bowl and use it to smear the pan/skillet between cooking each pancake using a wodge of kitchen paper.

  9. Get the pan really hot, then turn the heat down to a medium–hot setting.

  10. Use about 3 tablespoons of batter for each crêpe. It is easier to measure this into a ladle or measuring cup first and use this to tip the batter into the pan/skillet in one go. Using the ladle or cup, hold it so that the base is very close to the bottom of the pan/skillet in the centre and then pour it in. As soon as the batter hits the hot pan/skillet, lift the pan/skillet and tip it around from side to side to get the base evenly coated with the batter. If there are any holes, just fill them in with extra batter using a teaspoon. It will take less than a minute to cook. Lift the edge with a palette knife to check the underside is golden.

  11. Now flip the crêpe over. The other side will need less time to cook. Then slide it out of the pan onto a warmed plate.

  12. Continue until there are 12 crêpes. Overlap them on the warmed plate as you go, keeping them warm in the oven, covered loosely with foil.

  13. Pour the sauce into the pan/skillet and warm through. Add the zest and 1 tablespoon of the liqueur.

  14. Then fold the crêpes into quarters, placing a few orange segments in each one. Add the crêpes to the pan along with any remaining orange segments.

  15. Cook for 2 minutes to heat the crêpes through.

  16. Note
  17. If you want to flambé the crêpes just follow the steps below.

  18. To flambé the crêpes
  19. This is done just before serving the crêpes. First mix together 3 tablespoons of Grand Marnier and 3 tablespoons of brandy. Then pour them into the pan and set the sauce alight. This has to be done very quickly or the alcohol will evaporate and won’t light. Carefully swirl the pan around so that the sauce flames evenly. Serve when the flames have extinguished. Be very careful when doing this.

Updated: February 25, 2019

Floating Islands with Spun Sugar

Floating Islands with Spun Sugar

 

I saw Mary Berry create this recipe for floating islands on the Great British Bake Off Masterclass. I have always sprinkled cocoa powder over the meringue eggs (see here) but would certainly recommend this for a change.

 

Floating Islands with Spun Sugar
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 40 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the crème anglaise
  • 240ml (8 fl oz) full fat/whole milk (1 cup)
  • 180ml (7 fl oz) double cream/heavy cream (¾ cup)
  • ½ tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), yolks only (reserve 3 egg whites for the meringue)
  • 85g (3 oz) caster/superfine sugar (⅓ cup)

  • For the meringues
  • 3 eggs, whites only (reserved from the crème anglaise)
  • 85g (3 oz) caster/superfine sugar (⅓ cup)

  • For the spun sugar
  • 115g (4 oz) caster/superfine sugar (½ cup)

  • You will also need a deep sided sauté or frying pan/skillet with lid and four shallow dessert bowls.


  1. Method
  2. For the spun sugar
  3. Melt the sugar, without stirring, in a small stainless steel pan over a medium heat. Meanwhile, cover a rolling pin with parchment. When the sugar turns a deep golden-brown remove the pan from the heat. Leave to cool slightly, about 30 seconds, then, using the back of a fork or a whisk, quickly flick the caramel backwards and forwards over the rolling pin. (Take care as the sugar will still be very hot.) Gather the strands into a rough ball shape while gently pulling upwards and place on a clean sheet of parchment paper.

  4. For the poaching liquid
  5. This will become the crème anglaise. Pour the milk and cream in the sauté or frying pan/skillet and stir in the vanilla. Then bring to a simmer over a low heat while making the meringue.

  6. For the meringues
  7. In a large grease-free bowl, using an electric hand whisk on fast speed, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form (or use the whisk attachment on a food mixer). Now gradually whisk in the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form and the meringue is thick and glossy. 


  8. Have a glass or jug of water to hand. Then using two large tablespoons or serving spoons, shape large eggs from the meringue mixture, dipping the spoons in the water to help shape them and keep them smooth. The meringue should make 4 very large eggs. Place the meringue eggs in the poaching liquid as you form them. Cover the pan and, over a very low heat, poach the meringue eggs for about 8–9 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Make sure the poaching liquid doesn’t boil or the meringues will puff up and then collapse. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a wire rack covered with paper towel to drain. 


  9. For the crème anglaise
  10. Strain the poaching milk through a sieve into a large jug. 


  11. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and fluffy, about 2–3 minutes. Pour over the warm poaching milk, whisking continuously. Then pour the mixture into a clean heavy-based pan and cook over a very low heat for 3–4 minutes, stirring continuously, until smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat.

  12. To serve
  13. Divide the crème anglaise amongst the dessert bowls and then float a meringue egg on top.

    Decorate with a ball of spun sugar.

Chocolate Brandy Slices

Chocolate Brandy Slices

 

A very decadent chocolate dessert to serve with a special dinner. This velvety brandy enriched chocolate slice is filled with cherries, walnuts, and crushed biscuits.

 

Chocolate Brandy Slices
Prepares: 6 slices
 
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Chilling time: 1–2 hours

  • Ingredients
  • 10 digestive biscuits
  • 115g (4 oz) good quality, plain/dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  • 115g (4 oz) butter, cubed (½ cup, or 1 stick)
  • 1 egg
  • 85g (1½ oz) caster sugar/superfine sugar (3 tbsp)
  • 40g (1½ oz) glacé cherries (¼ cup)
  • 40g (1½ oz) walnut halves (⅓ cup)
  • 2 tbsp brandy

  • You will also need a rectangular mould about 22 x 11cm (8½ x 4¼ inches), a small loaf tin/pan is ideal.


  1. Method
  2. Line the mould with a piece of cling film/wrap, long enough so it extends over the edges.

  3. Now put the digestive biscuits in a plastic food bag and crush coarsely with a rolling pin. Set aside.

  4. Next rinse the cherries and leave to dry.

  5. Then break the chocolate into small pieces and put in a pan along with the butter. Melt over a very low heat, stirring frequently. When the mixture is smooth, remove from the heat.

  6. In a small bowl, beat the egg and sugar together until light and creamy. Beat this into the melted chocolate and butter until the mixture is smooth.

  7. Halve the cherries and reserve 6 halves.

  8. Now reserve 6 walnut halves and chop the remainder.

  9. Fold the cherries, chopped walnuts, crushed biscuits, and brandy into the chocolate mixture.

  10. Spoon this into the prepared mould and decorate the top with the reserved cherries and walnut halves.

  11. Refrigerate for 1–2 hours to become firm and then remove 30 minutes before serving to allow to come up to room temperature.

  12. To serve, remove from the mould by using the edges of the cling wrap/film to help lift it out. Then cut into 6 slices.

 

Mincemeat and Apple Tartlets

Mincemeat and Apple Tartlets

 

Delicious little tartlets made of puff pastry, mincemeat, and slices of apple. Quick to prepare and also a great way to use up any leftover jars of mincemeat from Christmas.

 

Mincemeat and Apple Tartlets
Prepares: 4 tartlets
 
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 20 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 250g pack ready-rolled frozen puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 8 rounded tbsp mincemeat (or, 1 small jar about 250ml (8 fl oz))
  • 1 dessert apple
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • ½ tsp caster/superfine sugar
  • icing/powdered sugar for dusting

  • Can be served with whipped cream, thick double cream or ice cream (optional)


  1. Method
  2. Thaw the pastry as directed on the packet.

  3. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6).

  4. Unroll the pastry onto a large baking sheet. Now mark 4 squares, roughly 12cm (4½ inches), leaving as much space around the squares as the pastry allows. Remove the excess pastry.

  5. Next, using the tip of a knife mark a 1cm (½ inch) border around the edge of each square. Then brush the border with the beaten egg.

  6. Now spoon two rounded spoonfuls of mincemeat onto each square and spread it out, keeping within the border.

  7. Quarter each apple and remove the core. Then thinly slice each quarter and lay the slices in a row over the mincemeat, overlapping them to fit. Brush the apples with the melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.

  8. Bake for 20 minutes until the pastry is golden and flaky.

  9. Just before serving dust all over with icing/powdered sugar.

  10. A spoonful of cream or ice cream can be dolloped in the centre of each tartlet.

 

Crossover Pancakes

Crossover Pancakes

 

Small English-sized pancakes that are made with a thicker North American-style batter. These are served one on top the other with sweetened butter and maple syrup poured generously over the top.

 

Crossover Pancakes
Prepares: 12 pancakes
 
  • Preparation time: about 10 minutes
  • Standing time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: about 45 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 250g (9 oz) plain/cake and pastry flour (2 cups)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2½ tbsp caster/superfine sugar
  • 2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), lightly beaten
  • 475ml (16 fl oz) milk (2 cups)
  • 115g (4 oz) butter (½ cup, or 1 stick)
  • pinch of salt

  • To serve
  • 85g (3 oz) butter, softened (³⁄₈ cup)
  • 1 tsp icing/powdered sugar, sifted
  • maple syrup to pour

  • You will also need a 20cm (8 inch) nonstick frying pan/skillet.


  1. Method
  2. Melt 85g (3 oz) of the butter and set aside to cool.

  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Then mix in the sugar.

  4. Next make a well in the centre and gradually whisk in the eggs, milk, and melted butter, incorporating flour from around the edges. Using a rubber spatula, push down any remaining flour from the sides of the bowl and whisk again until there is a smooth, thick batter.

  5. Leave to rest for 20 minutes.

  6. Preheat oven to 140°C (275°F) (gas 1) and place five plates in the oven to warm.

  7. Meanwhile prepare the sweetened butter In a small bowl beat the softened butter together with the icing/powdered sugar and set aside.

  8. Now to cook the pancakes. Get the frying pan/skillet really hot. Remove from heat and melt the remaining 28g (1 oz) (2 tbsp) butter. Pour the butter into a small bowl which should leave the pan with a lightly greased surface. After cooking each pancake, smear the pan with a little melted butter, using a wodge of kitchen paper, to keep it lightly greased.

  9. For each pancake you will need about ⅓ cup of batter. A ladle makes it easy to scoop out the batter and pour into the pan. So for the first pancake, scoop ⅓ cup of batter into the ladle and this will be a guide for the rest.

  10. Now return the pan/skillet to a fairly hot heat. Quickly ladle the batter into the centre of the pan, lift the pan from the heat, and tip it from side to side to even out the batter. The batter won’t cover the surface of the pan but should make an even round pancake. Then return to the heat and cook the pancake for 1–2 minutes until bubbles appear on the surface and the underside is starting to turn golden in colour. Flip it over using a palette knife and cook the underside for another 1–2 minutes. Now slide onto one of the warmed plates and cover loosely with foil. Return to the oven to keep warm. Repeat using the rest of the batter, overlapping the pancakes on the warmed plate.

  11. To serve, stack three pancakes on each of the other warmed plates and top each stack with a spoonful of the reserved sweetened butter.

  12. Serve with maple syrup.

Updated: January 23, 2019

Fruity Orange Jelly

Another cold day today with temperatures down to -12 degrees C, 10 degrees F PLUS windchill. It was colder first thing this morning and even Shandy, our dog, reacted to it. However, once wrapped up for the cold it has been a lovely walk this afternoon. It looks gorgeous out there. Sunny with a totally blue sky and no clouds and still virgin white snow everywhere. We had a foot of snow over the weekend.

So being that this time of year calls for a lot of heart warming casseroles, it is good to follow them with a light refreshing dessert. Here is one that certainly fits the bill.

 

Fruity Orange Jelly

 

A refreshing dessert of homemade orange jelly with the surprise of pieces of orange and grapefruit inside.

 

Fruity Orange Jelly
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Refrigeration time: 5–6 hours

  • Ingredients
  • 4 gelatine leaves*, or
  • 1 pkt Knox powdered gelatine*
  • 540ml (18 fl oz) orange juice, without pulp (2¼ cups)
  • 1 lemon, juice only
  • 1 medium orange
  • 1 Florida pink grapefruit

  • *In the U.K. gelatine leaves are widely available. In Canada the powdered form of gelatine is used. I have given instructions of how to use both types below.

  • To serve
  • crème frâiche

  • You will also need 4 x 300ml (10 fl oz) (⅔ cup) glass dessert dishes.


  1. Method
  2. If using gelatine leaves, warm all the orange juice in a pan.

  3. If using powdered gelatine, pour 2 fl oz of the cold orange juice into a small bowl. Then warm the remaining juice in a pan.

  4. For gelatine leaves
  5. Put the gelatine, sheet by sheet, in a bowl of cold water. Leave for about 5 minutes until they are soft. Remove from the water and squeeze out the excess water. Add the sheets to the warmed orange juice and stir until they have fully dissolved.

  6. For the powered gelatine
  7. Pour one pouch of gelatine over the cold orange juice. Add 50ml (¼ cup) boiling water and stir until the gelatine has fully dissolved, about 2 minutes. Then slowly stir into the warmed orange juice until the gelatine is fully mixed in.

  8. Now stir in the lemon juice.

  9. Peel the orange and grapefruit, making sure all the pith is removed. Separate into their segments and remove any pips. Cut each orange segment into four. Using an equal number of grapefruit segments cut these into similar sized chunks. There will be some grapefruit left over. Divide the fruit evenly between the dishes.

  10. Pour an equal amount of orange juice over the fruit in each dish and then leave to cool. Refrigerate for 5–6 hours until the jellies are set.

  11. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before serving.

  12. Just before serving, dollop a spoonful of crème frâiche on the top of each jelly.

  13. Note
  14. lemon should yield about 3 tablespoons.

Updated: January 22, 2019

 

Apple Clafoutis

Apple Clafoutis

 

This French dessert of apples cooked in a brandy syrup, and covered with a sweet batter, is then baked. Just dust with icing sugar and serve this clafoutis warm, ladled with cream, to make a delicious dessert.

 

Apple Clafoutis
Prepares: 6 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Standing time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 1 hour 10 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 4 small dessert apples
  • 40g (1½ oz) butter (3 tbsp)
  • 115g (4 oz) caster/superfine sugar (½ cup)
  • 1 tsp caster/superfine sugar
  • 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • about 240ml (8 fl oz) whole milk (1cup)
  • 3 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 70g (2½ oz) plain/cake and pastry flour, sifted (½ cup + 1 tbsp)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 heaped tsp icing/powdered sugar sifted

  • You will also need a large frying pan/skillet and a round 25.5cm (10 inch) diameter ovenproof dish with a depth of 5cm (2 inches), greased with a little butter.


  1. Method
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C) (gas 4)

  3. Peel, quarter and core the apples. Then cut each quarter into wedges about 1cm (½ inch) thick.

  4. Melt the butter in the frying pan/skillet and, when it begins to foam, add the apple wedges. Toss to coat with the butter and then cook the apples over a medium heat, turning occasionally, until they begin to soften and turn golden in colour, about 5 minutes.

  5. Lower the heat and add 55g (2 oz) (¼ cup) of the sugar, cinnamon, and brandy and stir to coat the apple wedges. Cook for a further 2 minutes until the sugar has dissolved, creating a golden sauce. Remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes to allow the apples to absorb some of the liquid.


  6. Now using a slotted spoon, pile the apples into the prepared dish and scrape the juice into a measuring jug. Add milk to the jug to make the liquid up to 300ml (10 fl oz) (1¼ cups). Whisk to combine the milk and the juice.

  7. Pour into a blender along with the eggs, remaining sugar, vanilla extract, flour, and salt. Blend on high for 1 minute, scraping the sides down with a spatula until the batter is smooth. (The ingredients can also be whisked together until there is a smooth batter – it is just easier with a blender.)

  8. Pour the batter over the apples, sprinkle the extra teaspoon of sugar on top and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 1 hour, until the batter has puffed up and is golden. To test whether the batter is cooked, pierce in the centre with a skewer and it should come out clean.

  9. Leave to cool for about 5 minutes then serve warm with a dusting of icing/powdered sugar.

Updated: January 17, 2019

Banana and Honey Brûlée

Banana and Honey Brûlée

 

A tasty twist on a classic crème brulée. Quick to prepare and just chill until needed.

 

Banana and Honey Brûlée
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 10–25 minutes
  • Cooking time: 1 minute
  • Refrigeration time: 2 hours

  • Ingredients
  • 2 small bananas, well mashed
  • 2 tbsp runny honey
  • 500g carton Greek yogurt

  • For the topping
  • 2 tbsp hazelnuts or almonds, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp golden caster/superfine sugar, if using a chef’s blowtorch
  • 75g (2½ oz) caster/superfine sugar (⅓ cup), if not using a chef’s blowtorch

  • You will also need 4 × 150ml (5 fl oz) heatproof ramekins


  1. Method
  2. Divide the mashed bananas between the four ramekins and smooth the top.

  3. Then drizzle over the honey to completely cover the bananas.

  4. Carefully spoon an equal amount of yogurt into each ramekin and smooth the top.

  5. Now sprinkle over the nuts and gently press down.


  6. For the topping, using a chef’s blowtorch
  7. Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of sugar evenly over the nuts and yogurt in one ramekin. (The sugar needs to cover the yogurt completely.)

  8. Caramelize the sugar under a direct flame.

  9. Now repeat with the other 3 ramekins.

  10. Leave to cool and then refrigerate for two hours before serving.

  11. For the topping, without using a chef’s blowtorch
  12. First, have a piece of baking paper ready on the counter top. Next, put the sugar in a stainless steel pan and add just enough water to dampen the sugar. Place over a low heat and stir the sugar until completely dissolved. Then increase the heat to medium–high. Without stirring, leave the sugar to bubble fiercely. When the bubbling lessens and the sugar has turned a pale straw colour it will be ready. Carefully pour the caramel onto the paper (it will be extremely hot) and leave it to become cold.

  13. Now turn the grill/broiler to high and leave for 5 minutes to get really hot.

  14. The caramel will have hardened on cooling. Break it into small pieces and blitz in a food processor or blender until there are really fine granules (finer than caster sugar). Sprinkle evenly over the nuts and yogurt in each ramekin, right to the edge, so that the yogurt is completely covered.

  15. Put the ramekins on a baking tray as close to the heat source as possible. Cook for less than a minute, not letting the sugar burn. The heat just needs to melt the sugar.

  16. Leave to cool and then refrigerate for two hours before serving.

Updated: January 17, 2019

Steamed Sponge Puddings

Steamed Jam Sponge Pudding

 

A real family favourite for a cold winter’s day. A very light sponge pudding that’s very quick and easy to prepare, and with a number of variations to choose from.

 

Steamed Sponge Puddings
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes

  • Basic Recipe

  • Ingredients
  • 55g (2 oz) butter, softened (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
  • 55g (2 oz) caster/superfine sugar (¼ cup + ½ tbsp)
  • 115g (4 oz) self-raising/self-rising flour, sifted (1 cup)
  • 1 egg, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • 1 tbsp milk

  • You will also need a 600 ml (1 pint) pudding basin and a steamer.


  1. Method
  2. Beat the egg in a small jug and then add the milk. Put to one side.

  3. Cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and creamy, about 2 minutes. Then gradually fold in the flour alternately with the egg and milk. The mixture should drop gently from a spoon.

  4. Alternatively put all the ingredients in a food mixer but add ½ tsp baking powder. Beat until you have a smooth, creamy mixture that will drop gently from a spoon.

  5. Grease the pudding basin and add mixture. Take a piece of foil that will cover the top of the basin and come halfway down the sides. Make a pleat through the middle to allow for any expansion. Place over the basin and pinch under rim. Take a length of string. It needs to go round the basin under the rim and be secured tightly. Then cut a second length to make a handle which will make it easier to remove the hot basin at the end of cooking.

  6. Fill the saucepan with about two inches of water and bring to the boil. Place the basin in the steamer, cover with the lid, and turn the heat down to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 1 hour 15 minutes.

  7. If you don’t have a steamer, use a deep-sided saucepan. Prepare the basin in the same way and place in the saucepan. Carefully pour boiling water into the saucepan so it comes no more than halfway up the basin. Cover and let the water simmer for 1 hour 15 minutes.

  8. Remove the basin, take off the string and foil, and run a palette knife round the inside. Invert onto a plate and serve.

  9. Serve with a fruit or chocolate sauce.

  10. To make a pudding for 2
  11. Use 1½ oz butter, 1½ oz sugar, 3 oz flour, 1 egg and ½ tbsp milk.
  12. You will need a ¾ pint pudding basin.

  13. To make a pudding for 6
  14. Use 3 oz butter, 3 oz sugar, 6 oz flour, 2 medium eggs and ½ tbsp milk.
  15. You will need a 1½ pint pudding basin.

  16. Variations of the basic recipe

  17. Steamed Fruit Sponge Pudding
  18. Fruit Sponge Pudding
  19. Fold in 50g/2 oz sultanas to the basic mixture just before pouring into the basin.
  20. Serve the pudding with custard.
  21. (Click here for full recipe)

  22. Steamed Jam Sponge Pudding
  23. Jam Sponge Pudding
  24. Place 2 tbsp of jam in the bottom of the basin before adding the mixture. Raspberry jam works well.
  25. Serve with extra jam.
  26. (Click here for full recipe)

  27. Steamed Syrup Sponge Pudding
  28. Syrup Sponge Pudding
  29. Place 2 tbsp of golden syrup in the bottom of the basin before adding the mixture.
  30. Serve with extra golden syrup.
  31. (Click here for full recipe)


Updated: January 9, 2019

Fresh Fruit Salad

How about a  refreshing dessert after all that rich Christmas fare? A Fresh Fruit Salad just fits the bill.

 

Fresh Fruit Salad

 

Fresh fruit salad is always a good standby for a quick dessert. A selection of fruits in season are mixed in a lemon syrup. Wine or liqueur can also be added to enhance the flavour further.

 

Fresh Fruit Salad
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: About 20 minutes
  • Standing time: 2–3 hours
  • Cooking time: 5 minutes

  • Example of ingredients for a winter fruit salad
  • 115g (4 oz) sugar (½ cup)
  • ½ lemon, juice only
  • A selection of 4–5 fruits
  • 2 small or 1 large red skinned apple
  • 1 large orange
  • 1 banana
  • 115g (4 oz) seedless grapes (1 cup)
  • 1 small tin/can pineapple slices or fresh pineapple
  • (or any other seasonal fruits)

  • You will also need a glass serving bowl.


  1. Method
  2. Dissolve the sugar in 300ml (10 fl oz ) (1¼ cups) water over a gentle heat. Then bring to the boil and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Now stir in the lemon juice and pour into the glass bowl.

  3. Next prepare the fruits and put them into the syrup as you go. Quarter, core and thinly slice the apples. Peel the oranges, making sure all the pith is removed. Break into its segments and then cut each one into three. Slice the banana. Halve the grapes. Take four pineapple slices, halve each one and then cut into three. Mix them in the syrup, coating all the fruit.

  4. Let the fruit salad stand for 2–3 hours to allow the flavours to blend.


  5. Variations
  6. A tipsy fruit salad
  7. Replace the lemon juice with 15–30ml (1–2 tbsp) of any fruit liqueur or white wine.

  8. A summer fruit salad
  9. Combine summer fruits, for example, strawberries, raspberries, cherries with dessert pears and melon.

Updated: January 7, 2019