Category: Dessert

Chocolate Orange Tiramisu

Chocolate Orange Tiramisu

Hello! I hope you all enjoyed a lovely Christmas, or if you don’t celebrate Christmas I hope you enjoyed the general festive spirit floating around the place. With one celebration passed we’re now looking towards New Years Eve and the (hopefully) roaring 20s we’re about to enter into. I’m currently about to head off to the snowy Dolomites of Italy (I’ll post lots of pictures of the food on my Insta stories so stay tuned for that!), but as a result I won’t be throwing a NYE party this year sadly. Nevertheless I thought I’d concoct a little dessert for those of you who might be looking for an easy,  yet stylish dish for any New Year dinner parties going on out there.

This tiramisu you could serve in a big dish or little glasses like the classic tiramisu if you’d like, however I find that it looks so much better plated up like this! For some reason by deconstructing a dessert you can make it look really elegant without too much effort. It also allows you to get all the different elements in the perfect proportions for when eating, with a little left over for anyone who wants a top up!

Recipe

Serves 4-6

Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 2 Oranges
  • 100ml Marsala
  • 75g Dark chocolate
  • 250g Mascarpone
  • 250g Custard (you can use ready made or check out my creme patisserie recipe if you’d like to make your own!)
  • 50ml Coffee
  • 12-18 Sponge fingers
  • 1 tbsp Cocoa powder, for sprinkling
  • A few springs of fresh mint to garnish

Method

  1. Grate the zest from the oranges and leave it on one side for now. Then cut away the peel and pith from oranges and discard it.
  2. Slice the oranges into discs and them pop them in a bowl with the marsala. Leave to soak on one side.
  3. Put the chocolate into a glass or metal bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Leave to melt for about 5 minutes and then set aside to cool a little.
  4. Put the mascarpone into a bowl and whisk to soften it. Add the custard and whisk again until smooth.
  5. Pour half the custard mixture into the bowl of cooled chocolate and mix in 2 tbsp of the coffee until the mixture is smooth.
  6. Add half the orange zest to the remaining custard mix and whisk to combine. Pour the chocolate mascarpone into a pipping bag with a star shaped nozzle and orange mascarpone into a pipping bag with a round nozzle. Leave both bags in the fridge until needed.
  7. When everything’s ready start to plate up begin by taking the orange slices out of the marsala and leaving them to dry a little on some kitchen roll. Pour the remaining marsala into the leftover coffee and mix to combine.
  8. Dip one of the sponge fingers into the coffee mixture and place it on your first plate. Repeat with two more sponge fingers, laying the on the plate to form a zig zag.
  9. Take the orange mascarpone pipping bag and pipe 3 big  blobs next to the ends/corners of the fingers.
  10. Slice the orange discs into quarters and place them around the plate (I find a mixture of slices laid flat and ones propped upright works well).
  11. Take your chocolate mascarpone pipping bag and pipe 6-7 blobs in the free space, between the orange mascarpone and slices.
  12. To finish off take your orange marscapone again and pipe clusters of smaller blobs in the remaining gaps (groups of 3 work well!). Then take a little extra orange zest and place it on top of the big orange marscapone blobs. Finish with some fresh mint placed here and there and a sprinkle of cocoa powder!

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

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Christmas Wreath Pavlova

Christmas Wreath Pavlova

It’s been a bit of a topsy turvy term and an even crazier year, but here we are – about to say goodbye to 2019 and hello to some hopefully roaring 20s! It’s not been the best year, but it’s been a year and that’s something. I’ve started to look after myself a little more, so even though I still feel like I’m running down hill at least I’m now smiling. I’ve learnt to appreciate the little things – the way the light hits a building, or the sound of rain on the window – and yes I know I sound like an artsy white girl, but it’s true. Our minds have a tendency to dwell on the bad and fixate on things that need to be solved. But looking at what is and what’s been done can be just as important, so that’s something I’m going to try to do more in the new decade.

Right, insightful snippit over. Onto the food. I’ve really missed getting creative in the kitchen, and even though it’s done me a world of good stepping away from this blog for a little while I couldn’t wait to get back to it as soon as I hit the Christmas holiday! I started making another dish (which will be up soon!) and that resulted in a bowl of leftover egg whites on the side which was crying out to be made into a meringue – hey presto! In all honesty, I’m not entirely sure how this ended up like this – I’ve made meringues for years and I’ve never had one this stiff and shiny, but hey – I’ve managed to do it so you can to!

I’m a sucker for a traditional pavlova so whilst you could go more Christmasy on the flavours (see my suggested variations at the bottom of this post) I think you can’t beat the classic vanilla cream and mixed berries so that’s what we’ve got. And besides, with a peppermint-striped meringue and a wreath shape it already looks festive!

Recipe

Serves 8-12

Time: 2-3 hours

Ingredients

  • 2 Egg whites
  • 110g Caster sugar
  • Red gel food colouring (optional)
  • 300ml Double cream
  • A handful of frozen mixed berries (I went for blackcurrants, raspberries and blackberries)
  • A couple of sprigs of fresh mint to garnish

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 110C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Take a circular object (a plate or cake tin lid works well), put it on the baking paper and trace round it with a pencil to make an outline. Turn the paper over on the baking tray so the line is on the underside and then set the lined tray to one side.
  2. Put the egg whites into a spotless bowl (a metal bowl is best here and it’s the easiest to get grease-free). Whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk until soft peaks form.
  3. Continue to whisk and add the sugar to the egg whites 1 tbsp at a time until completely combined and the mixture is stiff.
  4. Fit a pipping bag with a star shaped nozzle and then prop it up right by putting it into a pint glass. Take some red gel food colouring and brush it in lines up the inside of the pipping bag (I find a table knife is good at this).
  5. Spoon the meringue into the piping bag and then squeeze it down to the bottom until it’s just about to come out.
  6. Pipe small blobs of the meringue onto the baking paper, around the line you drew earlier to make a ring. Then pipe slightly large blobs in a ring on the inside and outside of the one you’ve just pipped. Bake the meringue in the oven for 1-2 hours until crisp on the outside. Then turn the oven off and leave the meringue to cool completely in the oven (this will prevent it from cracking).
  7. Meanwhile put the cream and vanilla into a bowl and whisk until it just starts to hold it’s shape (any more and it’ll go over when piped).
  8. Spoon the cream into a pippin bag and leave in the fridge until needed.
  9. Take the cooled meringue out of the oven and place it on a serving plate/board. Pipe blobs of the cream along the inside ring of the meringue wreath.
  10. Scatter some berries over the cream and then finish with a garnish of mint!

Alternatives to try:

  • Whisk 1 tsp Brandy into the cream and then top with fresh cranberries and orange segments instead of the mixed berries.
  • Whisk 1 tbsp cocoa powder into the cream to make a chocolate cream topping (this works well with fresh strawberries!).

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

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Double Chocolate Blackberry Brownies

Double Chocolate Blackberry Brownies

It’s blackberry season again!! This is such a big thing in my house as we live in the countryside, so we watch the blackberries over the season from mid-August to start of October, by which point they’re juicy and sweet and beautiful. We literally can’t leave the house any more without my mum bringing tubs for foraging (one time we even took a fishing net to catch apples in – it was strangely effective!) So now that we have tubs and tubs of blackberries in the fridge it’s time to start getting creative again!

It’s no secret that I’m a complete brownie freak. I like to make them, smell them, eat them, jazz them up, play around with them and generally appreciate their existence. So it’s no surprise that I ended up making some these swanky blackberry brownies. I’ve also added in some booze in here because it works so so well with chocolate! I’m not much of a drinker (relatively speaking) and so I’m only just discovering it’s value in cooking – but boy does it give this a nice lil’ touch! Of course though, if you wanna make these t-total you can leave out the alcohol and soak the blackberries in some spices (a pinch each of ground cinnamon and ginger are good!) and Ribena to give them a touch up.

As term hasn’t started for me yet (I know we start super late!) I’m in the process of bouncing between home and my uni house to make the most of the time I have free to do that. When I went home the other day I came up with these (as you can’t not appreciate having a fully stocked kitchen when you’re in one!) and luckily I managed to have a few left to take back to Oxford with me. One of the things I love most about baking is being able to share what I make with friends, and it’s something I really don’t do enough of any more. But these went down a treat so I can definitely see them becoming a favourite in our house!

Recipe

Makes 12

Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

For the Brownie

  • 220g Butter
  • 280g Dark chocolate
  • 4 Medium eggs
  • 280g Caster sugar
  • 60g Plain flour
  • 150g White chocolate, roughly chopped

For the Icing

  • 200g Blackberries
  • 10ml Chambord
  • 40ml Creme de Cassis
  • 175g Icing sugar

To decorate

  • Fresh blackberries
  • 50g Dark chocolate
  • Ice cream to serve (optional)

Method

  1. Begin by prepping the blackberries for the icing. Place the blackberries, chambord, Cassis and 25g of icing sugar in a bowl, mix together and then set aside to macerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Now move onto the brownies. Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C. Grease and line a 15×15 cm loose tin with butter and baking paper.
  3. Put the butter and chocolate into a metal or glass bowl over a pan of simmering water and leave to melt.
  4. Take another bowl and whisk the eggs until pale and fluffy with an electric whisk. Add the sugar and continue to whisk until it leaves a trail when the whisk is taken out (around 5 minutes should do it).
  5. Fold the chocolate into the eggs, sieve in the flour and add the chopped white chocolate. Mix everything together until just combined.
  6. Pour the mixture into the lined tin and sprinkle over half of the macerated blackberries. Then bake the brownies for around 20 minutes until a crust has formed on top and it feel slightly firm. Set aside to cool.
  7. Whilst the brownies are cooling, move onto the icing. Sieve the remaining blackberries, pressing the berries into the sieve with the back of a spoon to release the juices. Then mix a little of this juice into the icing sugar, 1 tsp at a time until a smooth, pourable icing is made.
  8. Turn the brownies out onto a serving board. Once completely cool drizzle the icing over the top. Scatter over some fresh blackberries and finish with some flakes of dark chocolate. These are really good served warm with ice cream!

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

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Choco-nana-offee Rocks

Choco-nana-offee Rocks

Ok, so I know these look more like something from a sci fi film than something from the kitchen, but bare with. As you know I’ve been trying out the ‘healthy’ lifestyle to help me get some consistency back in my life, however, even the healthy eaters need some comfort food sustenance every now and then. This started as all things do, with good intentions. “I’ll just make a chocolate cookie” I said to myself. Innocent enough. Little did I know that by the time I’d finished I’d end up with a bubbling tray of molten salted caramel, dotted with floating bananas, and sandwiched between two layers of warm chocolate cookie-shortbread. Eyo.

That said, I have no regrets! This was 100% about food to feed the soul and boy did it do that. I know it’s not traditional in the food blogging-sphere to see things that look less that perfect. Even rustic home food is preened and touched up to get the perfect shot these days, however when getting these out of the pan it was clear there was no hope in making them look beautiful. But hey, looks aren’t everything, right? Whop them on a board, snap a few shots and then make the most of the best bit – the eating!

After some time in the fridge these work really well as on-the-go bars, however they do become a bit more gloopy and unpredictable the warmer they get. I think this is because the shop-bought caramel I used for the filling was more of a pouring-consistency than a block one, which had both ups and downs. On the one hand it made for the ultimate gooey masterpiece, on the other it was a bit hard to handle. Therefore I’ve found these bars work at their best as a deconstructed splat in a bowl – looks: 0, taste: 10. Alternatively you could make your own caramel or find a thicker one so you can actually slice these into nice, neat squares… But seriously though, if you’re looking for comfort food in a bowl, this is your guy!

Just one last note – the name. Yeah… um… wasn’t sure how to christen these as there was so much going on in them and for something so much about the taste a long description of it’s component parts seemed too resturant-like. Hence choco-nana-offee rocks. Quick, to the point, leaves more time for the eating. Any other ideas welcome though!

Recipe

Makes roughly 16 squares/rocks/blobs

Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 340g Butter
  • 220g Caster sugar
  • 240g Icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • 490g Plain flour
  • 55g Cocoa powder
  • 400g Caramel sauce (I used 1 can of Carnation’s caramel)
  • 1 Banana
  • A large pinch of Salt

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C and line a baking tray with butter and baking paper.
  2. Beat together the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy. Then mix in the vanilla and icing sugar until smooth. Finally mix in the cocoa powder and flour until a dough has formed.
  3. Split the dough in half and wrap one half in cling film and put it into the fridge.
  4. Take the other half of dough and press it into the base of the tin to fill it evenly. Bake the base in the oven for around 15 minutes until starting to to look baked on top.
  5. Pour the caramel over the base and then scatter over the chopped bananas in an even layer. Finally sprinkle over the remaining dough in a sort of crumble. Return to the oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes until the topping is crispy and the caramel is bubbling.
  6. Take the tray bake out of the oven and leave it to cool to room temperature. Then put it into the fridge until set (about an hour should do it).
  7. Cut the traybake into 16 squares (or blobs) and enjoy!

Alternatives

Another great thing with these squares is that you can try all sorts of different swaps and alterations to make them perfect for you! Why not try…

  • Swapping 100g of the butter with 100g of nut butter (like peanut butter) to get a nutty biscuit top and bottom?
  • Swapping the cocoa powder for 70g Plain flour to make vanilla flavoured dough?
  • Adding fresh berries instead of bananas?
  • Adding 50g chopped chocolate to the dough to make it chocolate chipped?

Thanks for reading

Emma x

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Plum and Apple Crumble Flat Crust

Plum and Apple Crumble Flat Crust

This summer’s been pretty crazy for me. Not because I’ve been all around the world or have gone on a fascinating internship or the like, but because it’s been the first summer in well over 4 years that I’ve just stopped and let myself think. I tend to plow on through life head first, doing as much as I can and I often wear myself out in the process, so this summer I’ve let myself rest, re-coup and try to sort out my head a bit.

I’ve been thinking a lot about mental health guilt recently and the downward spiralling effect this can have on an already fragile mind. By mental health guilt I mean feeling as though you have no right to be depressed or feeling low because you think others have it worse than you. I think this something that a lot of people with depression experience at some point and I’ve been feeling it a lot myself recently. After all, I’m a white, middle class woman from a stable family in a relatively stable part of the world. I’ve had all the education I could wish for, all the opportunities I could imagine and yet I still find myself coming back to this really dark place.

Something I think that’s important to remember when you feel this way is that all pain is relative and personal. Everyone has different life experiences and struggles, and you can never know the full story behind what someone else is experiencing. Therefore, when it comes to mental health, it’s ultimately impossible to say that one person deserves help more than someone else, or that someone’s pain is worse than another’s. Surely if you feel in pain and it’s affecting you, you deserve the help and support you need, regardless of whether someone else has it worse or not. Unfortunately, this is not reflected in the UK’s mental health system from my experience. At the moment there is massive under funding in the NHS and so as a result the only ones getting real treatment (and even then after a long waiting time) are those who are suffering at the most extreme level. This of course makes sense and it is important that we treat the most serious cases first, but it does make those with more minor, yet still serious conditions, feel as though their problems aren’t serious enough to warrant treatment – which when you’re feeling like you have no right to feel depressed in the first place isn’t helpful.

We can’t change this overnight, but we can start to make those who can make the changes more aware of the mental health crisis in the UK by talking about it more openly. There are great charities and campaign groups such as Young Minds and Heads Together who are doing amazing work to get better mental health provision in the UK, and supporting them in their work is probably the best shot we have to influence major change at ground level. For now though I’ll just say it’s worth remembering that it doesn’t matter if someone has it worse than you or if you don’t feel like you have the right to feel depressed.  Depression isn’t a choice, and although it can be formed out of circumstance it is inherently biological and beyond a person’s control. Therefore if you do feel down or low, in need of treatment or even just in need of a talk, reach out for it. Don’t feel like it needs to get worse before you’re allowed to get better, or that you’re being over-dramatic and should just calm down. It’s thoughts like that which lead people to end up in really bad places that are even harder to get out of.

For me it’s by no means been an easy summer, and I doubt it’ll be an easy autumn but I am looking forward to a new academic year and a change of scene. By taking it slow over the past couple of months I’ve found a rhythm for living which I hope I can translate into my working term at Uni and fingers crossed I can keep myself relatively stable. Most importantly for me I have re-kindled my love of cooking. Now, of course this never really went away but I’ve had a tricky relationship with food in that I cook to de-stress, but recently the mere idea of cooking has stressed me out.  Sometimes I don’t have the energy to cook, sometimes I don’t want to eat anything, and sometimes I just don’t have the patience. However I’ve started to find that these times are all totally fine and normal, and the important thing is that I always come back to the kitchen sooner or later and have fun when I’m there!

This new, relaxed approach to my cooking is how I eventually came up with this plum and apple crumble ‘flat-crust’. I wanted to make a tart but really couldn’t face the paph of lining a tart tin or blind baking etc, so I found that this was a great compromise. As it’s not made in a tin you don’t have to worry too hard about what awful shape your pastry is being rolled into which is a really nice thing. As long as it’s vaguely round and flat, you’re good. Quick, delicious, full of warming autumn flavours and all that good home comfort stuff we like to see around this time of year!

Recipe

Serves 12

Time: 90 minutes

Ingredients

For the pastry

  • 175g Plain flour
  • 2 tbsp Caster sugar
  • 115g Butter
  • 1 Egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp Water

For the filling

  • 2 Bramley apples (or medium sized cooking apples)
  • 1 tbsp Brown sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • ¼ tsp Ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp Ground cinnamon
  • 3 Plums
  • 1 Egg

For the Crumble topping

  • 75g Butter
  • 2 tbsp Plain flour
  • 2 tbsp Porridge oats
  • 1 tbsp Brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp Ground cinnamon

Method

  1. Begin by making the pastry. Put the flour and sugar into a bowl and mix together with a round bladed knife (a regular table knife). Add the butter and use the knife to cut it into chunks in the flour.
  2. When you can’t cut the butter up any more, go in with your fingers and rub the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. (Shaking the bowl from side to side every now and then will help bring the lumps to the top).
  3. In a small bowl mix together the egg yolk and water and then mix this into the breadcrumb mixture. Mix with a table knife until a smooth dough forms. Wrap the dough in cling film and then leave it to chill in the fridge for at least an hour, or until needed.
  4. Now move onto the filling. Peel, core and then roughly dice the apples and put them into a large pan. Add the sugar, ginger and cinnamon and bring to a gentle simmer over a low heat. Leave to simmer for 25-30 minutes until broken down and golden, stirring the mixture every now and then to make sure nothing burns on the bottom of the pan. Take the pan off the heat and leave to cool until needed.
  5. Meanwhile halve and de-stone the plums. Then slice the plums into smallish pieces (I find I get around 5 slices from each half).
  6. Now make the crumble topping. Put the butter and flour into a large bowl and rub the butter into the flour until you have a breadcrumb texture again, like you did with the pastry. Add the sugar and oats and then mix together with a spoon to make a crumbly mixture.
  7. When ready to start assembling pre-heat the oven to 180˚C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  8. Take your pastry out of the fridge and place it on a sheet on clingfilm on a work top. Place another sheet of clingfilm over the top and gently roll the pastry into a rough circle (don’t worry if you end up with more of a square, it won’t matter in the end!). Take a plate, cake tin or generally round object around 11” in diameter and use it as a guide as to how far to roll the pastry. You’ll want it around 0.5 – 1 inch wider all around, than this template.
  9. Peel the top sheet of clingfilm off the pastry and flip it over onto your lined baking tray. Then peel off the other sheet of clingfilm. Lay your template on top of the pastry and gently score the circular shape into the dough with a knife, being careful not to cut all the way through!
  10. Spoon the stewed apple inside the circle you’ve just marked, leaving a ½ inch gap around the edge. Next take your plum slices and lay them around the edge, making their top edges line up with the circle you’ve made. You should now have a ring of plum slices bordering a pile of apples.
  11. If you were worried about the edge of your pastry now’s the time we’re going to sort that out. If you have any bits that are really sticking out from the plum edge, and some other bits that are really close to it you can carefully peel off a chunky bit and squish it onto somewhere lacking in pastry. Then gently roll up the pastry all around the edge until you reach the plum boarder, to make a crust.
  12. Take the crumble topping and sprinkle it over the exposed apple filling. Then crack the egg for the topping into a bowl and whisk it up with a fork until the yolk and white are mixed. Brush a little egg around the edge of the pastry and then sprinkle over a little more brown sugar to give a crunchy crust.
  13. Bake the tart in the oven for around 15-20 minutes until the plums are shrivelled, and the crumble top and pastry are golden brown. Serve warm with fresh plums and custard!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave any comments, thoughts or feelings on anything in this post below!

Emma x

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