Hazelnut Shortbread with Nectarines

Long time followers will know I am in my element at the moment as it’s nectarine season. I also love nutty shortbread…. and cream….. and although I have been making this hazelnut shortbread for years, I had never followed the recipe suggestion of serving them sandwiched with cream and sliced nectarine. This recipe was torn from an August 2008 issue of Asda magazine and I have to say it’s a pretty good combo!

I have failed to ever find ground hazelnuts at the supermarket so make your own by preheating the oven to 180c or gas mark 4, tip the 150g hazelnuts onto a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes then rub the papery skins off with kitchen towel. Any stubborn nuts can be baked for another 5 minutes until the skin comes off when rubbed. Once cool, finely chop or whizz in a blender/nut mill until you have a breadcrumb like consitancy with a few nutty pieces to give some crunch to your shortbread.

Hazelnut Shortbread with Nectarines Continue reading

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Apologies for the lack of posts so far this year, my mum has been extremely unwell since Christmas and I’m not sure when I will be posting regularly again as I am still in Cornwall.

To tide you all over until normal service is resumed, here is the Sticky Toffee Pudding recipe I was saving for the end of January when everyone’s resolve had waned due to the cold and wet weather.

I absolutely love this recipe and once again the BBC Good Food website is the source of this fabulous dessert. I often make this when people are coming over in winter as the puddings and sauce can be made the day before and reheated when ready to serve. Below you will see I used rectangular 200ml ‘mini loaf’ cake pans as I don’t have proper pudding moulds so I have included the quantities and timing for different sized tins.

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Chocolate and Mulled Cider Cake

As soon as I spotted this recipe for chocolate and mulled cider cake by Will Torrent in the December issue of Jamie Magazine, I knew I was going to have to give it a try. It would make a great alternative to christmas pudding and has the wow factor in both looks and taste. It keeps well for several days in an air tight container. Most supermarkets sell mulled cider or make your own by heating apple cider in a saucepan with a mulling spice sachet or star anise, cloves, a cinnamon stick and a squeeze of orange.

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Bonfire Night Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemon Icing

I struggle to get used to the shorter days at the best of times but now that the blog is up and running I’m having to be super organised to get things cooked/baked during daylight hours so I can photograph them in natural light. I really was spoilt over the summer and miss not being able to shoot my week day dinners so be warned there will probably be a lot of baked goods appearing over the winter months!

With Bonfire Night almost upon us, I thought I would share my favourite gingerbread recipe which was torn from an issue of Waitrose Food Illustrated many moons ago. These gingerbread cupcakes with lemon icing are light and airy rather than dense and sticky and so quick to make. They would also be great around Christmas time.

For non British readers, Bonfire Night is also known as Fireworks’ Night or Guy Fawkes’ Night. It’s a British tradition dating back to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when Catholic conspirator Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament and King James I.

The anniversary of Fawkes’ arrest on 5 November is celebrated each year with fireworks and bonfires.

Bonfire night gingerbread cupcakes

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Sea-Salted Chocolate and Pecan Tart

Having recently tasted a Paul A Young chocolate mince pie, I knew this sea-salted chocolate and pecan tart recipe couldn’t fail to be good. It is one of those stop/start recipes which is best attempted on a weekend or day off or made the night before it will be served as there are three hours of refrigerating required. Hopefully that hasn’t put you off as the resultant tart is rich, decadent and definitely worth the effort!

The recipe suggests a tart tin 24cm in diameter and 2.5cm deep but I used a slightly deeper 20cm tin which worked just as well.

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Apple & Blackberry Crumble

My late summer foraging gained me over a kilo of blackberries that are slowly being depleted from their freezer home as crumble and porridge season begins. I like my crumble with tart fruit to counter the sweet and crunchy oaty topping but feel free to add more sugar to taste if you prefer it sweeter. The blackberries can be swapped for raspberries or frozen summer berries.

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Maple and Pecan Layer Cake

It was my birthday last week and like all passionate sad bakers, I made myself a cake. This Hummingbird Bakery Maple and Pecan Layer Cake recipe had been in the ‘to try’ pile since late last year and so I thought it was time to test it out. As always with Hummingbird recipes, I found the icing to be too sweet for me although everyone else thought it was great!

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Hazelnut Chocolate Brownies

It dawned on me recently that I had never made full fat brownies before. I regularly used to make lower fat brownies from the “Cook Yourself Thin” cookbook and have even turned my hand at Gwyneth Paltrow’s vegan brownies but never the indulgent, no calories spared brownies. Last week this changed as I researched the ultimate brownies and settled on Nigel Slater’s ‘Very Good Chocolate Brownie’ with the addition of hazelnuts as I had some that needed using but you could use brazil or walnuts or leave them out altogether.

As I have learnt with the modified brownies I have made before, timing in the oven is crucial. Nigel suggests the following: ‘it is worth checking after 25 minutes, just in case, then every three minutes after that. I reckon you are looking for a cake whose outside edges feel a little springy, the inside soft, but not at all liquid. Stick a thin skewer or knitting needle in. If it comes out with visibly wet cake mixture stuck to it then put it back for three minutes longer. If, on the other hand, you have a slight goo stuck to your skewer then you are probably there. Leave the cake out to cool before cutting. It needs time to calm down. Oh, and if you pull out your skewer and it comes out clean then I’m afraid you have blown it’.

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Blackberry Cranachan

Having just returned from a fabulous break in Edinburgh at the Fringe festival and picking bags upon bags of plump blackberries from my neighbours wall – which are now stocked up in the freezer until crumble season is upon us – I wanted to attempt a twist on a classic Scottish dessert. Traditionally, cranachan is made with raspberries but seeing as I have a bounty of blackberries I went with the free fruit option. I have also added some chopped roasted hazelnuts and brown sugar for added crunch so this is my version of the dessert.

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Nectarine & Mascarpone Ice Cream

Roskilly farm back in Cornwall make the most amazing ice creams and my favourite of theirs is Orange & Mascarpone. It is so creamy and refreshing I can’t resist it if I see that flavour in the display freezer. I adore nectarines and eat as many as possible during their short summer season so thought nectarine & mascarpone ice cream was a way to prolong the nectarine consumption. I used David Leibovitz’s Peaches and Cream recipe as inspiration and created possibly the creamiest ice cream known to man…….and I wonder why I have gained a few pounds since starting the blog?!?

Nectarine and mascarpone ice cream

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