Desserts & Cakes

Flapjack’ Plum Crumble

This comforting crumble has sophisticated flavours – the combination of plums with orange and a touch of cinnamon, beautifully cuts the sweetness of the oat crumble. Serve it with a dollop of cream, custard or a good quality vanilla ice-cream.

The great news is, is that it’s completely gluten free! As you may know, I am gluten free, and so finding ‘carbohydrate’ comforting desserts can be difficult, as I can’t eat wheat. A traditional crumble calls for flour, so it has been some years since I have been able to enjoy this English pudding in the traditional sense, but over the years I have perfected this ‘flapjack crumble’ by combining various recipes for toppings and fillings. Even if you don’t need to eat gluten free, I think that it will become your new favourite crumble!!…

This recipe is perfect for the plums we get in our supermarkets during the winter months, those that never seem to ripen but are perfect for baking with. The oats are best ‘toasted’ before making the topping, this makes their flavour nuttier, so it is worth doing if you have the time.

For the Crumble:

250g porridge oats

125g butter

100g light muscovado sugar

100g golden syrup

For the Plum Filling:

800-900g plums, cut in half, stones removed

1 large orange, zested and juiced

50g light muscovado sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  1. Firstly, spread the oats on a large baking tray and bake in a preheated oven, 150’c, for 10-15 minutes, stirring once, until they are toasted and slightly golden.
  2. For the topping: melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a large saucepan (big enough to take the oats) over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the toasted oats and stir to combine.
  3. Spread the plums out in a baking dish, cut side up – they should fit snuggly into the dish, covering the base completely. Spoon the orange juice over them.
  4. Mix together the orange zest and cinnamon with the sugar (50g), sprinkle over the plums.
  5. Spread the oat ‘flapjack’ mixture evenly over the plums. Place in a preheated oven, 180’c, for 30-35 minutes until the crumble is golden brown and bubbling.
  6. Serve with a dollop of cream, custard or vanilla ice-cream – Delicious!!

Orange Almond Cake (Gluten Free!)

When my good friend, Sophie, first gave me this recipe, I was hesitant to try it, as being a self-confessed ‘lazy cook’ when I discovered that I had to boil the oranges for an hour before even starting the recipe, I wasn’t sold on it. But, fortunately she insisted that it was worth the effort… and she was definitely right, this is one of the most moist orange cakes I have tasted – it truly is delicious. In fact, it is also very easy, the boiling of the oranges is something that pretty much takes care of itself and to make the cake it’s simply a matter of pureeing the oranges in a food processor, adding them to the whisked eggs and sugar, and stirring in the other ingredients – done!Try it!…

2 seedless oranges

6 eggs

250g caster sugar

250g ground almonds

1 teaspoon baking powder

50g flaked almonds

2 tablespoons icing sugar

(To serve: double cream lightly whipped with a touch vanilla paste)

A 22cm springform tin: grease and line the base and sides

  1. Wash the oranges and cut off the ends (discard), place the oranges into a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Boil for 2 hours (topping up with water as required).
  2. Remove the oranges from the water and allow to cool completely before cutting into pieces and pureeing in a food processor until completely smooth.
  3. Use an electric whisk to beat the eggs and caster sugar in a large bowl until pale and frothy.
  4. Add the orange puree, stir through, then add the ground almonds and baking powder, and combine.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top of the cake.
  6. Place in a preheated oven, 160’c, and bake for 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out with just a few crumbs on it.
  7. Allow to cool completely in the tin.
  8. Sprinkle with icing sugar. Serve with a dollop of cream (flavoured with a touch of vanilla paste).

Madeleines (with a gluten free option!)

I adore Madeleines, particularly as the mixture, once made will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, and there is enough for at least 3 or 4 batches, so it’s great to have at hand – they only take 10 minutes to cook! They are best eaten when still warm, they do not keep well, so you should eat them straightaway (they tend to go a little sticky if kept overnight). Eating them quickly is no hardship – they are very light, I can almost eat one batch myself!! The best news is, is that if you are gluten free, like me, they can be made just as well with gluten free plain flour (I use Doves). You can add either orange blossom water or lemon juice and zest for flavouring – I must admit I prefer the delicate flavour of orange blossom.
I find that buttering the tin with melted butter and then dusting it with flour stops them sticking to it, likewise allowing them to sit just 5 minutes after cooking and then removing them whilst they are still hot, stops them sticking to the tin.

135g unsalted butter, plus extra to butter tray

2 tablespoons honey

3 large eggs

130g caster sugar

135g plain flour (gluten free if required – I use Doves)

2 level teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons orange blossom water or 1 lemon, zest and juice (see note above)

Icing sugar to sprinkle

  1. Melt the butter with the honey in a small saucepan over a low heat until the butter browns. Set aside to cool.
  2. Whisk the eggs with the sugar in an electric mixer, until the mixture is light and fluffy and triples in size, this can take as much as 10 minutes.
  3. Fold in the flour, baking powder, orange blossom water (or lemon zest and juice), and the butter and honey mixture. Leave to rest in the fridge for at least three hours.
  4. Melt a large knob of butter in a pan and use to butter a madeleine tray, then dust with a little flour, tipping off the excess.
  5. When ready to serve, fill the moulds with the mixture to two-thirds full.
  6. Place in a preheated oven, 170’c, for about 10 minutes until they are golden brown and firm to touch.
  7. Allow to sit in the tin for five minutes, then remove from the moulds before they cool otherwise they will stick!
  8. Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve whilst still warm – delicious!

Chocolate Slab with Drunken Cherries

I found this dessert in a magazine many years ago, it’s simplicity caught my eye – it is a simple case of melt and mix. It keeps in the fridge, so it can be made well in advance. It is quite rich so you only need a small slices. The ‘drunken cherries’ are in a light winey compote – it’s an ideal recipe for cherries which are out of season. You could, and I have done this myself in the past to save time, buy cherries in Kirsch in a jar, the taste will be different as the ‘drunken cherries’ in this recipe are made with red wine, however they do work well – giving the dessert a more ‘black forest gateau’ flavour. Serve with lightly whipped cream.

75g walnut pieces, finely chopped

75g butter

100g caster sugar

1 tablespoon golden syrup

150g dark chocolate, roughly chopped (I use Lindt 70% cocoa chocolate)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

35g plain flour (gluten free if required)

Generous pinch of sea salt

For the Cherries

400g cherries, stalks removed, pitted or left whole

300ml red wine

25g caster sugar

Whipped Cream to serve

  1. Line a small loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
  2. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast in a preheated oven, 150’c, for about 6 minutes until golden.
  3. Meanwhile put the butter, sugar and syrup into saucepan and melt over a low heat, stirring.
  4.  Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, stirring until it has melted. Add the eggs stirring vigorously until combined. Fold in the flour, salt and nuts, then pour into the prepared loaf tin.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, 150’c. Leave to cool in the tin before transferring to the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  6. Meanwhile make the cherries. Tip the cherries, red wine and sugar into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat slightly and allow to bubble for about 20 minutes until the cherries have begun to collapse and the liquid is syrupy. Leave to cool.
  7. Turn out the chocolate slab and cut into slices. Serve with a spoonful of cherries and a dollop of whipped cream!

Raspberry Clafoutis (Serves 4)

This recipe for Clafoutis is wonderfully light and rather like a baked custard, it is definitely the best clafoutis recipe I have tried. I found the recipe in Simon Hopkinson’s wonderful cookbook, ‘Roast Chicken and Other Stories’. I have been known to eat this dessert cold for breakfast!!…

(I think it is perfect served on its own, but in his cookbook, Simon Hopkinson does suggest a dollop of whipping cream if you fancy!)

1 vanilla pod, split lengthways

250ml whipping cream

A tiny pinch of salt

250g raspberries

1 egg

2 egg yolks

100g caster sugar

1 teaspoon potato flour (fécule de pommes de terre)

A little sifted icing sugar

Softened butter to grease dishes

Whipping cream to serve (optional)

  1. Put the vanilla pod in a small pan with the whipping cream and salt. When just coming to the boil remove from the heat and whisk carefully to dislodge the vanilla seeds from the pod into the cream. Cover and leave to infuse for 30 minutes or so.
  2. Take four ovenproof dishes – I use small individual soufflé dishes – or you could use one large dish if you like, either way butter the dish(es) and arrange the raspberries evenly in them.
  3. Beat together the egg and egg yolks, caster sugar and potato flour, then incorporate the cream and whisk together.
  4. Carefully pour over the raspberries, so as not to dislodge them. Then place the dishes in a roasting tin. Fill the tin with water so that it comes at least halfway up the sides of the dishes then sift a little icing sugar over their surface.
  5. Carefully place in a preheated oven, 180’c, for 25-30 minutes until slightly puffed and a little wobbly – if using a larger dish you may need to increase the cooking time by 10 minutes or so.
  6. Switch off the oven and open the door. Leave them like this, in the oven for a further 5 minutes before removing. Take the dishes out of the roasting dish and allow to cool to lukewarm before serving with a little more icing sugar sifted over (and with some whipped cream if you fancy!).

Chocolate Almond Torte

This is a delicious chocolate cake and the best news is, is that it’s completely gluten free! It has a slightly chewy texture if served straight from the fridge, which I rather like, whilst at room temperature it has a more fudgy consistency – either way it is divine! You could omit the brandy but I recommend you use it, as it does intensify the chocolate flavour.

200g plain chocolate (I use Lindt 70% cocoa plain chocolate)

200g unsalted butter, chilled and chopped

4 large eggs, separated

1½ tablespoons brandy (optional)

200g caster sugar

100g ground almonds

¼ teaspoon salt

Cocoa powder for dusting

Clotted cream or Crème Fraïche to serve (optional)

Strawberries or raspberries to serve (optional)

(You will need an 8 or 9 inch springform cake tin, buttered and the outside bottom and sides wrapped with foil to prevent leaking)

  1. Place the chocolate and butter in a medium heat proof bowl over a saucepan of bowling water (baine marie), making sure that the bottom does not have contact with the water, stir until melted. Set aside.
  2. Place the egg yolks and 100g of the sugar in a large bowl and whisk until pale and thick (about 1 minute), stir in the chocolate mixture, brandy, almonds and salt.
  3. Use an electric hand whisk to whisk the egg whites with the remaining 100g sugar until they form thick, shiny soft peaks.
  4. Using a spatula fold in one-third of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture, mix gently until well combined, then fold in the remaining egg whites in a further two additions.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, smoothing over the top. Bake in a preheated oven, 180’c for 30-35minutes until an inserted skewer comes out with moist crumbs – the edges will be set but the middle will still be wobbly. Allow to cool on a wire rack and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours until completely set.
  6. Before serving sift over cocoa powder, serve chilled or at room temperature, with clotted cream or crème fraiche (it is also good with strawberries or raspberries).
  7. It will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 4 days and also freezes well!!

Roasted Raspberries with Vanilla Ice Cream (Serves 4)

You will thank me for this simple recipe!! It’s such an obvious idea, I wonder why I never thought of it until I saw the recipe in a magazine some years ago. Winter raspberries often lack flavour, but by roasting them you can intensify the flavour and produce a lovely warming treat at the same time!

400g raspberries

2 tablespoons caster sugar

A dusting of icing sugar (2-3 teaspoons)

4 scoops of vanilla ice-cream

  1. Put the raspberries in an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with caster sugar. Cook in a preheated oven, 200’c, for about 15 minutes until the juices have come out of the raspberries but they are still keeping their shape.
  2. Remove from the oven, either serve at the table in the oven proof dish or transfer to individual bowls – either way sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.
  3. Serve with vanilla ice-cream.

‘Crumbles in a Cup’

This is a great idea that I have taken from Nigella Lawson’s cookbook, ‘Nigella Express’. The idea is to freeze the crumble topping and some summer berries, then at any given time you can quickly make up a ‘Berry Crumble in a Cup’! You just need to cook them from frozen for 15 minutes! I have changed the recipe slightly; I make my crumble topping with the addition of ground almonds as I think it improves the flavour. You can either make the crumbles in a cup/small mug or in a ramekin, the measurements of the ingredients will differ slightly depending on which you choose – see below

For the Crumble Topping

200g plain flour (gluten free if required)

125g butter, cold and cubed

50g caster sugar

50g ground almonds

50g soft brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  1. Place the flour and butter in a large mixing bowl and rub together with your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the caster sugar, ground almonds, soft brown sugar and ground cinnamon – stir to combine.
  3. Place in a freezer bag and freeze until needed for a ‘Crumble in a Cup’ – see below.

‘For a Crumble in a Cup’ (approx. 300ml capacity)

100g summer fruits (see note above)

1 teaspoon corn flour

2 teaspoons vanilla sugar (or regular sugar and a drop of vanilla essence)

75g frozen crumble topping

‘For a Crumble in a Ramekin’ (approx. 125ml capacity)

50g frozen summer fruits

½ teaspoon cornflour

1½ teaspoons of vanilla sugar (or regular sugar and a drop of vanilla essence)

30g frozen crumble topping

(To serve – ice cream or thick cream)

  1. Put the summer fruits in either the cup or ramekin, sprinkle with the cornflour and sugar – stir gently.
  2. Sprinkle the frozen crumble topping over the fruit (if desired you can add a little more topping)
  3. Bake in a preheated oven, 220’c; for the cups 20 minutes, and for the ramekins 15 minutes.
  4. Serve with a scoop of ice-cream or a dollop of thick cream.

‘Proper’ Homemade Hot Chocolate (Serves 2)

This is more of a dessert than a drink – it is seriously the best hot chocolate you will ever have – it is a ‘hug in a mug’!!…I warn you it is rich and indulgent, but hey, we all deserve a treat now and again. I would definitely serve it with a little whipped cream if you have some!

See the video of this Hot Chocolate being made here!

300ml full fat milk

125g plain chocolate (I use Lindt 70% cocoa dark chocolate), roughly chopped

3 teaspoons good quality cocoa (I use Green & Blacks)

Pinch of salt

2 – 3 drops vanilla extract

Whipped cream to serve (optional)

  • Put the milk in a saucepan and bring just to boiling point.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in all the ingredients until melted.
  • Return to the heat, whisk vigorously until it returns to a gentle simmer.
  • Pour into mugs and if using add a dollop of whipped cream!

Apple Gingerjack (Serves 6)

This is a great pudding that is from Nigella Lawson’s cookbook, ‘At My Table’. Being gluten free, I often find it difficult to find wheat free ‘cosy, cake- like’ puddings but this recipe uses oatmeal for the topping so is totally gluten free! It is best served warm or at room temperature rather than hot – I’ve even eaten the leftovers cold for breakfast – delicious!!

I like to serve this with either double cream or clotted cream, but of course custard would be good too!

For the base:

15g unsalted butter

2 tablespoons golden syrup

750g Bramley apples, peeled, cored and cut into 3cm chunks

For the topping:

200g Fine oatmeal (if required make sure it’s totally gluten free)

75g soft light brown sugar

4 teaspoons ground ginger, plus a extra ¼ teaspoon for sprinkling

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

250ml full-fat milk

125g unsalted butter, soft, cut into cubes

1½ tablespoons demerara sugar

Double or clotted cream, or custard (to serve)

  1. Gently melt 15g butter in a large saucepan (in which the apples will fit – not too heaped up), once melted add the syrup, stir well and then add the apples. Cook over a high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently , until the apples start to soften around the edges – have a fuzzy appearance. Pour into a pie dish.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the fine oatmeal, soft light brown sugar, 4 teaspoons of ginger and the bicarbonate of soda together, using your fingers to break up any lumps in the sugar.
  3. Using the same saucepan that you used to make the apple mixture, heat the milk and 125g butter together gently, until the butter is melted and the milk is almost at boiling point. Remove from the heat and, using a wooden spoon, stir in the oatmeal mixture beating until smooth – it will thicken a little.
  4. Pour the oatmeal mixture over the apples, spreading it out to cover them evenly.
  5. Mix the ¼ teaspoon of ginger with the demerara sugar and sprinkle over the top.
  6. Place in a preheated oven, 180’c, and bake for about 30 minutes until the apple is soft and the top has firmly set.
  7. Let it stand for about 30 minutes or more and serve warm at room temperature with double or clotted cream, or custard.

Emergency Chocolate Brownies (2 – 4 )

This is a brilliant recipe from Nigella Lawson – only she could have come up with the idea of ‘Emergency Brownies’ – the idea of a small batch for those days when you urgently need a chocolate fix!  This recipe makes 2 very generous brownies, so on a good day you’ll get 4!

This recipe is cooked in a foil appox. 18 x 11 x 5cm, so there is no need to line or grease it!

50g unsalted butter, softened

50g soft light brown sugar

1 tablespoon golden syrup (or maple syrup)

3 tablespoons plain flour, gluten free if required

3 tablespoons cocoa powder (I use Green&Blacks)

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

50g walnut pieces (optional)

50g chocolate chips (plain or milk)

1 x foil tin approx. 18 x 11 x 5cm

  1. Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup into a small saucepan and gently heat, stirring, until the butter is melted and the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat.
  2. Mix together the flour, cocoa and salt, then beat into the butter mixture in the pan, until smooth.
  3. Whisk the egg with the vanilla and then stir it thoroughly into the pan mixture. Finally fold in the chocolate chips and walnut pieces (if using).
  4. Pour the mixture into the foil tin.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven, 170’c/ 150’c Fan, for 15-20 minutes until it is beginning to come away from the sides and the top has dried a little around the edges.
  6. Transfer to a wire rack in the tin and leave to cool for 20-30 minutes.

*Click here to see the video of this Brownie recipe!

Chocolate Mousse – Pot au Chocolate (Serves 6-8)

In my opinion, this is absolutely the best recipe for chocolate mousse, it is extremely light with the perfect balance of chocolate – not overly rich. The recipe calls for brandy, don’t be put off by this, as you really can’t taste it, it just balances the chocolate. This recipe serves 6-8, which may be more than you need, but believe me you will eat it (and it will keep in the fridge), so I wouldn’t bother to half the recipe!..

300g plain chocolate (I use Lindt 70% cocoa), broken into small pieces

30g unsalted butter

2 eggs, lightly beaten

3 tablespoons brandy

4 egg whites

5 tablespoons caster sugar

500ml double cream

25g plain chocolate, grated to serve

  1. Put the chocolate in bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water (a Bain Marie). Gently melt the chocolate.
  2. Stir in the butter, until melted. Remove the bowl from the saucepan, allow to cool for a few minutes.
  3. Add the eggs and brandy, stir (the mixture may look a little scrambled at this point, but don’t worry it will smooth out later with the egg whites!)
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites, adding the sugar gradually, until they form soft peaks.
  5. Whisk one third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen it, then fold in the remaining whites.
  6. Whip the cream to medium peaks and fold into the mousse mixture.
  7. Pour into glasses or small bowls, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  8. To serve sprinkle with some grated chocolate.

Chocolate Crispy Cakes

An all-time favourite in my house, these were the staple children’s birthday party food when my son, Felix, was a toddler, they really shouldn’t be reserved only for children – everyone deserves these! I make mine with Lindt 70% cocoa chocolate, which gives them a more adult flavour, they are certainly not a childish treat – I have been known to serve mini ones as petit fours after dinner parties!

50g unsalted butter

4 tablespoons golden syrup

100g Lindt 70% cocoa chocolate (or other good quality plain chocolate)

75g cornflakes

  1. Gently melt the butter, syrup and chocolate in a bowl suspended over a pan of barely simmering water (a bain marie).
  2. Stir in the cornflakes.
  3. Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases (or smaller ones to make petit fours!), or if you don’t have cases, just spoon large spoonfuls onto a buttered baking tray, and place in the fridge until set.

A Wreath Pavlova with Summer Berries

I make this pavlova in the shape of wreath, having seen the recipe by Mary Berry for a Christmas pavlova in this wreath shape some years back. I find that this shape is not only stunning to look at but also easier to slice. I use a mixture of summer berries, but most fruits work well, so you can use whatever you have to hand. You will need to draw out the shape of the wreath on baking parchment – I find that at large plate and a saucer are about the right size – see photo above.

For the Pavlova:

6 large egg whites

350g caster sugar

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon cornflour

For the Filling:

600ml double cream

1 teaspoon vanilla paste

50g icing sugar, sifted

300g strawberries, hulled and quartered

300g raspberries

200g blueberries

A few mint leaves to decorate (optional)

Icing sugar to dust

  1. Preheat the oven to 140’c.
  2. First place a large piece of baking parchment on a baking sheet and draw 30cm circle (you could use a large dinner plate) and inside this circle an inner circle of 15cm (you could use a saucer) – thus creating a wreath shape.
  3. Put the egg whites in a mixing bowl and with an electric whisk, whisk until soft peaks form. Gradually whisk in the caster sugar a little at a time until the whites are stiff and glossy. Mix the cornflour and vinegar together in a small cup and then whisk into the whites.
  4. Spoon the meringue mixture onto the ring drawn on the parchment. Using a spoon to make a shallow trench in the meringue for the cream to sit in – see photo above.
  5. Place in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 120’c. Bake for 1 hour- 1 hour 15 minutes until the outside is hard but still white. Turn off the oven and leave the pavlova inside for at least an hour or overnight to cool and dry (don’t forget it’s in the oven!)
  6. To assemble, whip the cream, vanilla paste and icing sugar together until stiff peaks form. Spoon the cream in the trench of the pavlova and top with the berries and decorate with the mint leaves (if using). Finally sprinkle with icing sugar. Delicious!!

Caramelised Rum Bananas with Vanilla Ice-Cream (Serves 4)

A super quick and a very delicious dessert!

*you could make this without the rum for an alcohol free option

60g unsalted butter

6 tablespoons dark brown sugar

4 ripe bananas, cut in half and sliced lengthways

3 tablespoons dark rum (optional)

Vanilla ice-cream to serve

  1. Place the butter and sugar in a frying pan over a low heat, stir until the sugar dissolves and begins to bubble. Simmer for about 2 minutes then add the bananas, continue to simmer for another minute or so.
  2. Add the rum, stir and remove from the heat.
  3. Serve with a scoops of vanilla ice-cream.

*You can see the video of this dessert being made by clicking on this link to my Instagram Page

Marsala Fried Figs with Vanilla Mascarpone (Serves 4)

This must be one of the quickest desserts – perfect for a midweek treat…(and it almost feels healthy as it’s fruit!!). Like Maderia wine, Marsala wine, once opened can be kept refrigerated for some months without deteriorating, it is great to have around as just a splash will often lift a simple sauce – try it!…

200g mascarpone cheese

2 tablespoons icing sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla paste

20g unsalted butter

8 ripe figs

1-2 teaspoons honey

4 tablespoons Marsala wine

30g sliced almonds, toasted in dry frying pan (optional)

  1. Place the mascarpone, sugar and vanilla paste in a bowl and use an electric beater to whip for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.
  2. Melt the butter in a frying pan, once foaming add the figs, rounded side down. Fry for 1 minute. Add the honey and turn the figs over, fry for another minute then pour over the Marsala, allow it to bubble for a minute or so until syrupy.
  3. Spoon the mascarpone into bowls and top with the figs and some of the sauce. To finish sprinkle with the toasted almonds.
  4. Enjoy!

Coffee and Cardamom ‘No Churn’ Ice-Cream

Condensed Milk Ice-Cream has become very popular in recent years, and it is no surprise considering how very easy it is to make – no need for an ice-cream machine! I first came across ice-cream made with condensed milk some years ago, in a cookbook by Nigella Lawson, I have since tried many different versions and this recipe with coffee and cardamom is one of my favourites. It is great served alone or as an ‘affogato‘ (with a shot of espresso poured over it – as pictured above)

2 tablespoons instant espresso

10 green cardamom pods

300ml double cream

175g condensed milk

  1. Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods and grind with a pestle and mortar.
  2. Mix the instant espresso and the ground cardamom seeds with 2 tablespoons of boiling water, leave to cool.
  3. Beat the cream and condensed milk together using electric beaters until the mixture is quite thick, then stir in the spiced coffee.
  4. Place in a container, cover with a piece of greaseproof paper (this stops ice crystals forming) and a lid, then freeze.
  5. To serve, remove from the freezer about 5-10 minutes before serving so that it softens.

Strawberry ‘No Churn’ Ice-Cream

Another ice-cream recipe using condensed milk, so once again super easy – no ice-cream maker needed. By roasting the strawberries the flavour becomes more intense; I have tried making it without roasting the strawberries and believe me it definitely makes a difference, so it is worth the effort!

*You can see the video of this dessert being made by clicking on this link to my Instagram Page

1kg strawberries, hulled and sliced (plus extra to serve – optional)

1 tablespoon white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 can (397g) condensed milk

500ml double cream

  1. Put the strawberries on a baking try lined with greaseproof paper. Sprinkle over the sugar and toss to combine, spreading them out in one layer. Place in a preheated oven, 160’c. Roast for 45 minutes, then stir and cook for a further 15 minutes.
  2. Remove from the oven and place the strawberries in a processor to blend until smooth. Leave to cool completely.
  3. Add the condensed milk and vanilla extract to the cooled strawberry mixture, beat with a handheld electric beater to aerate for about a minute.
  4. Place the cream in another bowl and beat into stiff peaks.
  5. Add a dollop of cream to the strawberry mixture, fold through and continue to gently add the remaining cream to combine.
  6. Tip the strawberry mixture into a container (with a lid). To stop ice crystals forming, cover the mixture with a sheet of greaseproof paper before putting the lid on.
  7. Freeze.
  8. Remove from the freezer 5-10 minutes before serving to soften.

Lemon Posset with Raspberries (Serves 4-6)

There are lots of slightly different variations of this simple, summer dessert; over the years I have tried a few and this is my favourite…

600ml double cream

150g caster sugar

Finely grated zest of 2 lemons

4 tablespoons of lemon juice (from above lemons)

Raspberries to serve

  1. Combine the cream, sugar and lemon zest in a small pan over a low heat. Stir constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved, when bubbles start to appear around the edges of the mixture continue to cook without stirring for 2 minutes – Do Not let the mixture come to a rolling boil!
  2. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the lemon juice, then strain through a sieve into a jug.
  3. Pour into small dishes or glasses to serve. This is a rich dessert, so I would keep the portions on the small side.
  4. Cover each dish with cling film and refrigerate for at least two hours until set.
  5. Serve with raspberries.

Strawberry Eton Mess (Serves 4)

There are numerous recipes for Eton Mess, and I must admit to trying my fair share of them over the years!… I think this one has the perfect balance of ingredients. In my opinion, life is too short to be making meringue to be broken up for an Eton Mess, so for this recipe I recommend you use shop bought meringue; I particularly like the meringue nests by Waitrose, which are slightly chewy in the middle. It is important to assemble this dessert at the last minute as otherwise the meringue will go soggy in the cream. (I do have a fantastic recipe for meringue which I use for Pavlova, I will be sharing that recipe in the future on Menu Mistress!…)

450g strawberries, hulled

1 rounded tablespoon icing sugar

300ml double cream

4 meringue nests (see note above)

  1. Place half the strawberries in a blender with the icing sugar and whizz until puréed.
  2. Pass the purée through a sieve to remove the seeds.
  3. Whip up the cream until it is just floppy – not too stiff.
  4. Chop up the remaining strawberries and break up the meringues into roughly 1inch pieces.
  5. To assemble (see note above): in a bowl, gently mix the meringues and strawberries (reserve a few for decoration) into the cream and gently fold in about 2 tablespoons of the purée.
  6. Spoon the mixture into individual bowls, top with the reserved strawberries and pour over more of the purée.
  7. Serve straightaway!

Affogato

The simplest of desserts – the perfect pick-me-up!

I am sure you all know the recipe for an affogato, but I think we often overlook its simplicity, and forget to make it (or rather I do!), so I thought I’d remind us all with the recipe. The word ‘affogato’ in Italian literally means ‘drowned’ and that is exactly what this recipe is – ice cream drowned in a shot of espresso coffee…

1 scoop of vanilla ice cream

1 shot of espresso coffee (hot!!)

  1. Place the scoop of ice cream in a small bowl or cup and pour over the hot shot of espresso coffee.
  2. That’s it!….The perfect pick me up!