Desserts & Cakes

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!