The "not quite" Tiramisu

Tiramisu, eh……I love the stuff. I’m however not prepared to make one that includes raw eggs (only because of my aversion – for no good reason – to raw eggs). I did a bit of Googling and there are many recipes for this lovely pudding, which avoid the whole eggy issue!

I inadvertently ended up improvising because I didn’t have Marsala and so I used Amaretto instead. I also could not find the sponge fingers required and so used Amaretti biscuits instead. I started to lose the plot at this point and thought I might even substitute the coffee liquid for Tia Maria and some of the mascarpone with cream cheese….but I restrained myself just in time.

This is so easy and is really like a version of a trifle, but nicer, and so whilst I told myself I was eating Tiramisu, I know full well that it was not the genuine thing. The recipe I based my pudding on was this one from BBC Good Food which is always an excellent source for recipes. So, this is what I did:

Ingredients:

600ml double cream

250g mascarpone

80 ml Amaretto liqueur

5 tablespoons caster sugar

2 tablespoons coffee granules dissolved in 300ml just boiled water

Amaretti biscuits

100g dark chocolate

Method:

In a large bowl soften the mascarpone, add the caster sugar, Amaretto and double cream. Whisk until well combined and the mixture resembles thick cream.

Place a layer of Amaretti biscuits at the bottom of your dish of choice and spoon some of the coffee liquid over. Cover with half of the mascarpone mixture and sprinkle 50g grated chocolate over the top. Place another layer of biscuits on top of this, drizzle the coffee liquid over and cover again with the remaining mascarpone mixture. Finally, grate the remaining 50g of chocolate over the top. Put in the fridge to set.

Smugly eat your creation!

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

Cheese Scones (re-visited)

I wrote about this recipe a long time ago, and decided to revisit it.

I love scones, but the thought of rubbing the butter into the flour is just an effort too far for me.  Yes, ridiculous I know, but we all have our limits!  This particular recipe uses oil instead of butter.  It is the quickest, easiest recipe for scones, and the scones are lovely and light.  On the downside, they are quite crumbly because the dough is wet compared to traditional scone dough. You don’t roll it out, you dollop it onto the baking tray. 

If form and aesthetics are important to you, instead of putting spoonfuls on the baking tray, you can dollop the dough into a muffin baking tray, so the dough will hold a much better shape as it cooks.  Either way, it’s fine. Also you can safely add more cheese, to make the scones even cheesier!

Ingredients:

500 ml cake flour

1 medium egg

100 ml oil

125 ml milk

20 ml baking powder

½ teaspoon salt.

50g grated cheese (I used a combination of mature cheddar and gruyere)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 240°C (220°C fan).  Lightly grease a baking tray or line it with baking parchment – or use a muffin tin.

Lightly whisk the egg, milk and oil in a bowl until just mixed.

Add the dry ingredients and the grated cheese. Mix lightly until just combined.

Drop tablespoonfuls onto the baking tray and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Quick, easy, superlight.  Enjoy!

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing I wish you a peaceful weekend 😊

Espresso Martini Trifles

Who doesn’t love a good pud? Coffee, chocolate, alcohol? Yes please 🙂

I saw this recipe in Sainsbury’s Magazine. I only did a minor tweak (honestly!) and I also left out the fancy bits – the cacao nibs and nut brittle, only because I wanted easy. You can see the full recipe here.

This is super easy to make and my taste testers loved it. It is like a combination of cheesecake and trifle, with just the right amount of kick from the coffee and alcohol.

Start with the custard part – put 50g dark chocolate and 300g fresh custard in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Heat gently, stirring until the chocolate has melted. Remove the bowl and set aside to cool, covering the surface of the custard with cling film to prevent a skin forming.

Make a coffee syrup by dissolving 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder and 1 tablespoon caster sugar in 2 tablespoons of just boiled water. Add 5 tablespoons of coffee liqueur, stir to mix.

Make the cheesecake layer by dissolving one and a half tablespoons instant coffee powder in 1 tablespoon of just boiled water. In a large bowl beat 400g full fat soft cheese until it softens up. Whisk in 40g of sifted icing sugar, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and the coffee, until just combined.

Get 6 glasses and crumble (leaving some large pieces) a couple of Amaretti biscuits into the bottom of each glass. Drizzle with half a tablespoon coffee syrup. Top with half a dessertspoon of the chocolate custard, and then a dollop of the cheesecake mixture. Repeat the layers. Crumble an Amaretti biscuit on the top and decorate with grated dark chocolate, or even some cream if you’re feeling decadent. Put in the fridge and chill until ready to serve.

Next time I will pipe the cheesecake mixture into the glasses, as it was too thick to spoon neatly, so it ended up looking very messy.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

Salted Peanut & Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have had a round of baking disasters, so much so that I was beginning to think I’d lost the ability to bake at all.  I saw a recipe for a loaf cake.  One of the ingredients was yogurt and you used the yogurt pot to measure out the rest of the ingredients.  No scales needed, chuck everything in one bowl and mix.  But no, first it didn’t cook within the time set, I added on 10 minutes, and another 10, and another 10 and gave up and binned the lot.  Then there was a recipe for a fruit pie, topped with a crust made from ready-made croissant pastry.  Simple, I thought.  Well the fruit part was, but for some unknown reason the pastry topping wouldn’t cook properly and left a gooey mess underneath of raw pastry and fruit intermingled.  I won’t bore you with the other disasters, I’m too ashamed to admit them!  With my baking mojo gone, I had some time off and eventually decided to try again.

Today’s bake was a last minute decision as I had no inspiration (no mojo = no inspiration).  But I had chocolate buttons and salted peanuts in the house.  What else to do but chocolate chip and salted peanut cookies!

A quick look through my recipes and I picked Nigella’s Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe from her book “Kitchen”.

I added salted peanuts to the recipe, and where she calls for a 326g packet of chocolate chips, I used up my chocolate buttons and added in salted peanuts to reach 320g.  I found the dough a bit too dry and so added in a tablespoon of milk and then it held together better.  Other than that, I made no tweaks to the recipe.

There are no pictures unfortunately (did I just hear a sigh of relief from you?!!). I took photos, dear reader, but the card reader failed, or my memory card is faulty, either way, I am unable to access the photos off the card. Instead, please imagine a photo of the most delicious looking cookies……

Ingredients:

150g soft butter

125g light muscovado sugar

100g caster sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 egg, fridge cold

1 egg yolk, fridge cold

300g flour

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 x 326g packet chocolate chips

Method:

Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C Fan).  Line 2 large baking sheets with baking parchment.

Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat and let it cool a bit. Put the sugars into a bowl and add the melted butter, beat well to mix.

Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until the mixture is light and creamy.  Slowly mix in the flour and bicarbonate of soda, then add the chocolate chips (and nuts if you’re using them).

Scoop the cookie dough onto the baking sheet (I used an American quarter-cup measure to scoop), leaving large spaces between the cookies, as they will spread.  This mixture made 15 large cookies.

Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until the edges are lightly toasted. 

Let them cool for 5 minutes on the baking trays before transferring to wire racks.

These cookies were a success!  They are just the right balance between crispy on the edges and chewy in the middle.  I will definitely make these again.  I might even sprinkle some sea salt flakes on top of each cookie before baking next time.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 😊

Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake

Am I feeling bad that this year I have not baked anything festive?  Actually I am.  I do love different bakes for special times of the year.  But sometimes, I just have to accept that it is not a good idea.  So this year, no mincemeat, no Christmas cake, nothing.  I have bought a Panettone, the Marks and Spencer chocolate, cranberry and orange one.  This will satisfy my need for a festive bake (albeit one that I bought).  Even Christmas day itself is going to be low key.  I haven’t decided on the main course – which would ordinarily have been Nigella’s ham in coke, which is a many-times tried and trusted recipe.  As for pudding, again I am taking the easy way out.  I have bought ready made pastry and ready-made mincemeat and will make mince pies, served with (ready-made) brandy cream.  I should be ashamed of myself.

Tony’s birthday is in December and again I usually bake a special cake for him (you can never be too caked-out in December!) but not this year.  I did however bake this recipe from Good Housekeeping for Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake.  Stupidly, I am unable to find a link to it.

I saw the recipe and immediately started thinking oooh….maybe if I just tweak it….I reigned myself in and kept my tweaking to a minimum.  I simply replaced the liquid in the sponge with bourbon. There are just a couple of things I would do next time I bake this:  once the dates have been soaked, I would mash them, so they were more like a puree as I think they will incorporate more smoothly into the sponge mixture; and for the pudding sauce, I would either completely replace the dark muscovado sugar with light muscovado sugar, or do half and half.  Actually, I might even put some vanilla extract in the sauce (that makes it a third tweak!!).  For me, personally the toffee sauce, whilst delicious, had too strong a molasses flavour.  Having said that, everyone else loved the pudding and the sauce.  It is all super easy to make too.  My photos are a bit unappetising unfortunately.

Ingredients:

100g stoned dates, finely chopped

100ml hot English Breakfast tea, freshly brewed (I replaced this with bourbon)

125g butter, salted

150g dark muscovado sugar

1 tablespoon golden syrup

2 medium eggs

125g self-raising flour

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160° Fan).  Grease and line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin with baking parchment or a loaf tin liner.

Beat together the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until light and fluffy.  Add the golden syrup and eggs and beat again.  Fold in the flour and bicarbonate of soda until well incorporated, then stir in the date mixture (liquid and all) until just combined.  Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean.  Let the cake cool in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the toffee sauce:

50g butter

50g dark muscovado sugar

100ml double cream

In a small pan, heat together the sugar, butter and cream, stirring continuously until the sugar dissolves.  Bring to the boil, stirring and let it bubble for about 2 minutes, stirring all the while.

Serve the cake warm, or at room temperature in slices with the sauce (reheat gently if required) and vanilla ice cream.  The leftover cake reheats very well when wrapped up tightly in foil.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

Lebkuchen

I have been wanting to make Lebkuchen for ages.  But for some reason (which I can’t fathom) I always thought they would be too difficult to make.  I recently saw this recipe in Sainsbury’s Magazine and thought yes, I can do this.

This year I have not baked a Christmas cake, nor anything else vaguely festive, so these would do instead. 

Ingredients:

225g plain flour

75g ground almonds

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

A pinch of ground cloves

A pinch of ground nutmeg

2 teaspoons cocoa powder

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

25g chopped mixed peel – chopped very finely

Zest of ½ orange

200g clear honey

75g butter

Method:

Mix together all the dry ingredients.  Add the orange zest and chopped mixed peel.

In a separate bowl put the honey and butter over a pot of simmering water until the butter is melted.  Stir to combine.

Add the butter and honey mixture to the dry ingredients and stir well to combine the mix to a stiff dough.  Cover with clingfilm and put in the fridge for around 30 minutes to firm up.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160° fan).  Line two large baking trays with baking parchment.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured worktop until 1cm thick and cut out rounds with a 5-6 cm biscuit cutter. Place on lined baking trays, spaced apart to allow room to spread.

Bake for 15-18 minutes until just beginning to brown.  Remove from the baking trays onto a wire rack (place something underneath to catch the drips of icing).

Meanwhile mix 100g icing sugar with 3 tablespoons of water until you have a slightly runny, spoonable icing.

Pour a little icing over each of the Lebkuchen as soon as they come out of the oven and leave to cool.

These were a little bigger than the Lebkuchen I am familiar with, but that doesn’t matter.  I will buy some heart and star shaped cookie cutters though, so that next time I don’t just have round Lebkuchen.  I will also tweak the spices a little bit – and possibly add a bit of treacle in place of some of the honey.   

Otherwise, these are very easy to bake and lovely to eat!  A delicious Christmassy treat.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 😊

Suretta's Chocolate Cake

A while ago I asked on social media for suggestions for baking.  These came in thick and fast!  However, one person sent me a recipe for chocolate cake and just said “trust me”.   And so I did, and I have named the cake after her. 

This recipe is slightly different in a few ways from the standard method for chocolate sponge cake recipes.  It uses oil instead of butter – no more creaming the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy!  The eggs are separated, with the yolks being mixed into the batter with the other ingredients, and only at the end are the stiffly whisked egg whites folded in.  And finally, there is a sauce which is poured over the hot cake before it is covered with icing.  The whole thing works.  I was worried that the cake might be soggy, but it wasn’t.  And, really, this is a lovely easy recipe to make, and it tastes good.

The measurements are in cups – a standard American cup measure, or if you don’t have these, one cup = 250ml

Recipe:

Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°).  Line a 20cm springform cake tin with baking parchment, or a cake tin liner.

In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup cake flour, ¼ cup cocoa powder, 2 heaped teaspoons baking powder and a pinch of salt.

In a separate bowl beat together 4 egg yolks, ½ cup of oil, ½ cup water and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well (stir them in well together, there is no need to whisk them in).

In a separate bowl beat together 4 egg whites with ½ teaspoon of baking powder until stiff peaks.

Gently fold the egg white mixture into the rest of the cake batter.

Pour into the baking tin and bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out cleanly.

In a pot put ½ cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 200ml of evaporated milk (the unsweetened kind).  Bring to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes.  Pour over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.

Leave the cake to cool.  Melt 200g chocolate with 30ml milk and pour over the cooled cake.

Enjoy your cake!

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 😊