Desserts, Cakes & Biscuits

(All Recipes have Gluten-Free Options)

Apple and Almond Puddings (Serves 6)

This is one of those delicious, comforting puddings that was made for a winters day, but is just as good in the summer – you really have got to make it! They are wonderfully light; just make sure you serve them with lashings of cream!… The recipe is from Bill Granger’s cookbook, ‘Bills Open Kitchen’. You can substitute the plain flour for gluten-free flour – I use ‘Dove’s’.

150g unsalted butter

150g caster sugar

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced

1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract


175g unsalted butter, cubed (plus extra to grease ramekins)

175g caster sugar

3 eggs

100g ground almonds

100g plain flour (gluten- free if required – see note above)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

(To serve – cream)

*You will need six large 250ml ramekins, greased.

  1. For the apples – place a saucepan over a medium-high heat and add the butter and sugar. Stir until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Add the apple and vanilla and cook for 10-15 minutes until soft and caramelised.
  2. To make the batter, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring well until combined. Fold in the ground almonds, flour, baking powder and cinnamon and mix until combined.
  3. Grease six 250ml ovenproof ramekins with butter. Arrange the caramelised apples on the bottom. Divide the batter evenly between the ramekins and smooth over with the back of a spoon. Cook in a preheated oven, 180’c fan, for 25 minutes until lightly golden.
  4. Run a knife around the edge of each ramekin then invert onto a serving dish. Serve with cream.

Chocolate Mousse Roulade

I found this recipe in Rachel Allen’s cookbook, ‘Entertaining at Home’. You will definitely thank me for sharing it – with its chocolate mousse and cream filling, it is incredibly delicious and surprisingly light. It also makes a great centrepiece for a Christmas celebration, you could add a sprig of holly to make it really festive! Roulades have a reputation for being difficult to make as they are renowned for cracking, but this is their nature and once you accept this outcome you will realise just how easy they are to bake – personally, I think their cracked style adds to their beauty and deliciousness! Indeed, when I was making this roulade I asked myself why I don’t make them more often, especially as many are naturally gluten-free. So, I have decided to start searching out more roulade recipes (watch this space!), in the meantime, you really should try this one!!… It will keep in the fridge for a couple of days but bring it to room temperature before serving.

6 eggs separated

150g caster sugar

50g cocoa powder

Icing sugar, for dusting

225ml double cream

For the chocolate mousse:

125ml double cream

125g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons brandy or dark rum (optional)

2 eggs, separated

*You will also need a 20 x 30cm Swiss roll tin, lined

  1. Place the egg yolk and sugar in a bowl and whisk until the mixture starts to thicken, then whisk in the cocoa powder.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are just stiff, then carefully fold these into the chocolate mixture. Pour into the prepared tin and bake in a preheated oven, 180’c for 15-20 minutes until the sponge feels springy to touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin.
  3. To make the mousse filling, pour the cream into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until it has all melted. Add the brandy or rum (if using) and whisk in the egg yolks.
  4. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff, then stir in a quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then pour the chocolate mixture into the remaining egg whites and fold in gently. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours to set.
  5. When the roulade sponge has cooled turn it out onto an oblong sheet of greaseproof paper liberally dusted with icing sugar (or you could use cocoa powder if desired).
  6. Carefully pull away the lining paper. Spread the chocolate mousse over the sponge. Now whip up the cream and spread this over the chocolate mousse.
  7. With one long side facing you, gently roll up the roulade into the shape of a log. Transfer to a serving plate with the join facing down – this can be tricky, I usually use both a frying pan spatula and a palette knife to do this!
  8. Finally, dust with a little more icing sugar (or cocoa powder) and enjoy!

White Chocolate, Pecan Nut & Oat Cookies

These are very good and very moreish, they are the type of cookie that can be easily eaten at just about any time of the day – you have been warned! The recipe is from the cookbook, ‘A Love of Eating: Recipes form Tart London’, written by Lucy Carr-Ellison and Jemima Jones. In their recipe they use macademia nuts which I’m not so keen on, so I have substituted them for pecan nuts which are delicious with the sweet, white chocolate, a little like that other match made in heaven – pecan and maple syrup. This recipe works well with gluten-free flour, I use Dove’s. (Makes about 20 cookies)

150g unsalted butter, softened

130g light muscovado sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

50g plain flour (gluten-free if required – see note above)

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

130g porridge oats

100g pecan nuts

100g white chocolate, chopped

*A couple of baking sheets, lined with baking paper.

  1. First, place the pecan nuts on a baking tray and bake in a preheated oven, 180’c fan, for 5-10 minutes until golden and toasted. Remove from the oven, allow to cool then chop.
  2. Cream the butter and the sugar together until soft and pale. Add the egg, vanilla, flour and bicarbonate of soda and beat until smooth.
  3. Add the oats, chopped white chocolate and pecan nuts, fold until combined.
  4. Take walnut size amounts of the sticky dough and place on the lined baking sheets, spacing them well apart. Bake in a preheated oven, 180’c fan, for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool….before eating…enjoy!!

Bicerin (Serves 1)

This wonderful drink isn’t exactly a dessert, but I have put it in my desserts section as it is a delicious sweet treat!…A Bicerin is a luxurious coffee-and-chocolate drink topped with cream that originates from Turin. Rather than being mixed together like a ‘mocha’, the espresso and hot chocolate are poured in layers and topped with whipped cream – so initially through the light cream you taste the sweetness of the velvety chocolate this is then followed by the punch of espresso coffee; it is heavenly! I first tasted it at Caffè Al Bicerin when I visited Turin a few years ago. Caffè Al Bicerin is a beautiful little cafe with just 6 or so tables, the interior is wonderfully antiquated and dimly lit by candles on white marble tabletops. It really is a ‘must-see’ place if you visit Turin (I would definitely recommend a long weekend in this historic Italian city!). The cafe is not only renowned for having invented the Bicerin, but it is also famous for its other delicious sweet treats such as Zabaione – but that’s another story… (I will be sharing that recipe in the future!).

Back to the Bicerin… If you love coffee and chocolate (and cream!), you can’t go wrong with this recipe. It is important to make it with the very best, strong espresso coffee and velvety hot chocolate; I think that the following recipe is pretty authentic!.. Enjoy!

50ml double cream

½ teaspoon icing sugar

125ml full fat milk

50g chocolate, roughly broken up

½ tablespoon caster sugar

75ml hot espresso coffee

  1. Firstly whip the cream with the icing sugar until is just forms soft peaks.
  2. Put the chocolate, milk and caster sugar in a small saucepan, whisk until it begins to boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for a minute, continue whisking, ensuring that the chocolate has melted.
  3. Pour the hot espresso coffee into a heatproof glass. Carefully and slowly pour the hot chocolate over the top. Finally, top with a generous dollop of whipped cream. Heaven!

Almond ‘English’ Macaroons (Makes about 20)

These biscuits always remind me of my late mother-in-law, Deitha, she was a wonderful traditional cook and at Christmas time would always cook me a batch of these delicious biscuits! They aren’t quite as fancy as their ‘French cousin’ the Macaron, which come in chic colours, but they are just as moreish and in my opinion, slightly more satisfying with their crisp exterior and wonderfully chewy middle. Even better, unlike the French macaron, they are incredibly easy to make, you just need to bake them on confectioners edible rice paper as it adds to the chewy texture – it is readily available online if you can’t find it in your local supermarket.

200g ground almonds

250g caster sugar

1 rounded tablespoon ground rice

1 tablespoon orange flower water

Few drops of real almond extract

3 large egg whites

Sheets of edible confectioners rice paper (approx. 4 x A4 size)

About 20 whole blanched almonds

You will need 2 large baking sheets

  1. Mix the dry ingredients together, apart from the whole almonds, in a large bowl. Then add the orange flower water, almond extract and egg whites. Beat vigorously to form a soft paste.
  2. Line the baking sheets with the rice paper (shiny side up). Take a large walnut-sized piece of the paste, form into a round patty and place on the rice paper. Repeat with the rest of the paste, leaving plenty of room between each patty. Put a whole almond on the top of each one.
  3. Put the baking sheets in a preheated oven, 170’c fan, for about 20-25 minutes until they are a light golden colour.
  4. Leave to cool on the rice paper, then gently tear the macaroons from the rice paper sheets, leaving a disc of paper in place on the bottom of each one.

Salted Miso Brownies (Makes 16)

We all have a favourite recipe for brownies, this is without doubt mine…I urge you to make them – they will become your new favourite too! The addition of the white miso and salt gives them an incredible salted caramel flavour whilst the chia seeds create a dense and fudgy consistency. Admittedly, they don’t look like the smartest of brownies, but as I have often said, ‘looks can be deceiving’, and in this case they definitely are!…This magnificent recipe is from Meera Sodha’s cookbook ‘East’.

5 tablespoons milled chia seeds

150g flavourless coconut oil

250g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces (I use Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate)

350g light brown Muscovado sugar

120g plain flour (gluten free if required)

3 tablespoons white miso

¾ teaspoon flaky sea salt

*20cm square cake tin, lined with greaseproof paper

  1. First of all put the chia seeds in a small bowl, add 270ml water and set aside.
  2. Place the coconut oil and chocolate pieces in a saucepan over a low heat. Stir occasionally until melted. Take off the heat and mix in the sugar, flour, miso and salt. Finally, add the ‘bloomed’ chia seed (and their water), mix well.
  3. Pour into the prepared, lined tin and gently shake to distribute the mixture evenly. Bake on the middle shelf of a preheated oven, 180’c fan, for 40 minutes. The brownies will be still wobbly in the middle but they will settle down and become deliciously fudgy as they cool. Cool completely before cutting into 16 squares.

Pineapple and Black Pepper Crumble (Serves 4-6)

The arrival of October means it’s a good time to share a recipe for a warming crumble!…This is no ordinary crumble – the tang of the pineapple is beautifully complemented by the spice of the black pepper, it is a delicious and unusual take on the British classic crumble. The recipe is from the cookbook ‘Dishoom’, which is by the owners of the Indian restaurant chain of the same name. Once you’ve tried this crumble you may find it difficult to return to the classic fruit versions…

*This crumble recipe works well with gluten free plain flour – I used ‘Doves’.

1 large, fresh ripe pineapple (you need about 750g flesh)

1 vanilla pod or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

100g granulated sugar

A few twists of black pepper

For the crumble:

100g plain flour (gluten free if required)

100g rolled oats

100g granulated sugar

100g salted butter, cubed at room temperature

To Serve:

Vanilla Ice-cream or a dollop of fresh cream

  1. Peel the pineapple, prising out the ‘eyes’ and cut the flesh into 2 cm chunks, discarding the hard core.
  2. Place the pineapple chunks in a saucepan with 200ml water. If using a vanilla pod, split it in half and run a knife down the length to remove the seeds, add both the seeds and the pod to the pan (if using vanilla extract you will need to add this later). Simmer over a medium-high heat for 20-25 minutes until the pineapple is soft. If the pan becomes a little dry add a little more water.
  3. Once the pineapple is soft, add the sugar and simmer for an extra 5 minutes. Add the black pepper and if using the vanilla extract instead of the vanilla pod, add it now. Turn off the heat and leave to one side.
  4. Meanwhile make the crumble. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it into the mixture with your hands until it is fully incorporated – there should be no loose flour left.
  5. Spread the pineapple mixture in a medium baking dish and top with the crumble mixture. Bake in a preheated oven, 180’c fan, for 30-40 minutes until the topping has formed a golden crust.
  6. Allow to stand for 5 minutes then serve with vanilla ice-cream or a dollop of fresh cream (or custard!).


I love these little Italian biscuits – sweet and almondy, they are the perfect complement to an espresso coffee but are equally good with just about anything! This recipe will make around 34 little biscuits, they only need to be small as they are quite sweet, but the problem is I can never seem to stop at eating just the one!…They are incredibly easy to make, however you do need to make them the day before baking as by allowing the uncooked biscuits to rest and dry out overnight they become deliciously chewy – they are totally worth the wait!…

2 large egg whites

Pinch of salt

225g caster sugar

Zest of one lemon

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond essence

300g ready-ground almonds

Icing sugar for dusting

2x baking sheets lined with greaseproof paper

  1. Whisk the egg whites with the salt until they are stiff, then gradually whisk in the sugar until you reach a marshmallowy consistency. Now add the lemon zest, vanilla extract and almond essence along with the ground almonds, mix to form a quite hard paste.
  2. Shape into either small diamonds or little rounds (see photo), dusting your hands with icing sugar to stop the mixture becoming too sticky. Lay them on the prepared baking sheets and leave to dry out overnight.
  3. The following day, cook the riccarelli in a preheated oven, 140’c fan, for about 30 minutes, by which time they should be pale and slightly cracked. Leave to cool.
  4. Finally dust with icing sugar and serve. They will keep well in an airtight container

Gluten Free Coffee Cake with Espresso Buttercream Icing

Even if you’re not gluten free I urge you to make this cake, it has a beautifully light sponge and the buttercream really is the ‘icing on the cake’!! Finding recipes for traditional sponge cakes which are both gluten free and light can be a challenge. My son Felix found this one when searching for a recipe which would please us both (he adores coffee and I am gluten free!). It is a recipe from the producers of ‘Doves Flour’ and it uses their wonderful gluten free flour.

2 tbsp espresso coffee powder

2 tbsp boiling water

200g butter

200g caster sugar

4 eggs

200g Doves gluten free flour 

For the Buttercream icing:

4 teaspoons espresso coffee powder

3 teaspoons boiling water

¼ teaspoon salt

250g icing sugar, sifted

125g unsalted butter, at room temperature

8 walnut halves to decorate

*2x 20cm/8’ round baking tins, buttered and bases lined.

  1. For the cake: put the coffee powder into a cup, add the boiling water, stir to make a paste and leave to cool.
  2. Rub some butter around the inside of two 20cm/8″ round baking tins and line the bases with baking paper.
  3. Put the butter and caster sugar into a large bowl and beat with electric beaters until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then sieve the flour into the bowl and beat again. Finally, add the coffee mixture and stir until everything is well combined.
  4. Divide the mixture between the prepared tins and smooth the top.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven, 170’c fan, for 20-25 minutes (until a cocktail stick pressed into the centre of the cake comes out clean). Cool the sponges in the tin a little before turning them onto a wire rack and leaving to cool.
  6. Meanwhile make the buttercream icing: combine the coffee powder with the boiling water and put to one side. Place the butter and salt in a mixing bowl and beat with electric beaters until light and fluffy, then add the sifted icing sugar, and whisk until well combined, finally beat in the cooled coffee mixture.
  7. To assemble the cake turn one of the sponges upside down (flat side facing up) and spread with half of the buttercream, top with the second sponge (flat side facing down), and spread over the remaining buttercream, use a fork or knife to make a pattern and place the 8 walnut halves around the edge.

Almond, Pear and Ricotta Cake

This is the most delicious, delicate tasting cake. It’s not overly sweet and is quite light, but be warned it is very moreish! I have taken this recipe from Nina Parker; she mentioned that she first tasted it in Capri, where she had it for breakfast….So, how could I resist, I had to try it myself for breakfast, and yes, it’s indulgent, but, oh my, it really is a great start to the day – try it! In her recipe, Nina poaches fresh pears for the filling, however I have tried it with both fresh poached and tinned pears, and there really is little difference, so now I always make it with tinned pears, which of course makes life a lot easier. The cake itself is rather flat looking, don’t expect a risen ‘victoria sponge’ like cake, but as you know looks can be deceiving and in this case they really are – it is a dream cake and it’s gluten free!

190g caster sugar

5 eggs, 4 separated, 1 left whole

170g ground almonds

1 tablespoon rice flour

½ teaspoon almond extract

For the filling:

250g ricotta cheese, drained of any water

100ml whipping cream

A few gratings of nutmeg

Seeds from ½ vanilla pod

Zest of a lemon

70g caster sugar

400g tin pear halves, drained and cut into small cubes

Icing sugar to dust

*2 x 10 inch cake tins

  1. First of all grease two 10 inch cake tins and line the bases with baking parchment.
  2. Using an electric whisk, whip the 4 egg whites until just light and fluffy and then slowly begin whisking in the sugar until it is all mixed in.
  3. In a separate bowl lightly beat together the 4 egg yolks, 1 whole egg and the almond extract, then add the ground almonds and rice flour – the mixture will be dry.
  4. Use a spatula to mix in ¼ of the egg whites, to loosen the mixture and to help get rid of lumps. Carefully add another ¼ of the egg whites and finally, fold in the remaining whites until the mixture is well combined – it may still appear a little ‘lumpy’, but don’t worry too much.
  5. Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake in a preheated oven, 170’c fan, for about 25 minutes until they are light and springy to touch and golden on top. Allow to cool completely on cooling racks.
  6. Meanwhile make the ricotta filling. Whisk the ricotta, whipping cream, nutmeg, vanilla pod seeds, zest of lemon and the caster sugar until it forms soft peaks, the consistency of whipped cream, then gently fold in the cubes of pear.
  7. Spread the ricotta cream over one of the cake bases and place the remaining cake on top. Dust generously with icing sugar and serve. (This cake keeps well in the fridge)

Roast Apricot & Orange Blossom Fool (Serves 8)

This is a fantastic recipe for making the most of apricots which are plentiful at this time of the year. The flavours are perfectly balanced; the sweetness of roasted apricots is delicately cut by whipped cream which is combined with a little Greek yogurt, orange flower water and honey. I have taken the recipe from Diana Henry’s cookbook ‘Simple’, and yes it is simple but very impressive! (Any leftovers make a great, indulgent breakfast!!)

900g apricots, halved and pitted

75ml white wine or water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

115g granulated sugar

300ml double cream

4 tablespoons Greek yogurt

5 tablespoons orange blossom honey, or to taste, plus more to serve

3 teaspoons orange flower water, or to taste

Toasted almond flakes, to serve

  1. Put the apricots in a gratin dish, cut sides up, so that they lay in a single layer. Mix the wine or water with the vanilla, then pour it over the apricots. Sprinkle evenly with the sugar and roast in a preheated oven, 190’c fan, for 30-45 minutes until completely soft. Leave until cold.
  2. Remove eight of the best looking apricot halves to put on top of each serving. Puree the rest of the fruit and any of its juice in a food processor.
  3. Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks, then stir in the yogurt, honey and orange flower water.
  4. Fold the purée through the cream, don’t over mix – you want it to be marbled with the bright orange colour. (You can add more flower water to taste).
  5. Spoon into bowls, top each with an apricot half, if you want a little more sweetness drizzle with extra honey, then sprinkle with the toasted almonds.

Basque Burnt Cheesecake (with or without Liquorice Sauce!)

When I was working in St Johns Wood, London, over 20 years ago, I used to visit, almost daily, the local patisserie (now sadly gone), and order a slice of their baked cheesecake. It was the here that I discovered the incredible creamy nature of a proper, baked, cheesecake. Since then I have always had a soft spot for baked cheesecake, but since becoming gluten free I have found it difficult to find those without a crumbed, wheat base. So, when a girlfriend raved about Nigella Lawson’s Basque Burnt Cheesecake, I was very pleased to discover that it was baked without a crumb base so is totally gluten free. I have now baked it on a number of occasions – it is my new addiction! It is not only delicious but incredibly easy to make, admittedly it doesn’t look as good as a traditional baked cheesecake, but as we all know, looks can be deceiving! Nigella recommends a liquorice sauce to complement it, I have included the recipe here, but unless you’re an avid liquorice lover, I actually don’t think you need it – it really is perfect on its own. However, if you do make the liquorice sauce, do also try it over vanilla ice-cream!

Nigella likes this cheesecake served at room temperature, but I must admit that I rather like it straight from the fridge, but either way it is wonderfully smooth and creamy.

A couple of notes before cooking it – make sure that the ingredients are at room temperature as this will give a smoother texture. Also, the tin should have sides which are no deeper that 6cm, as you want the cheesecake to rise up (and burn!). Finally, don’t be too fussed if the lining of the tin looks a little messy, it’s supposed to be a rough and ready ‘look’!

600g full fat cream cheese, at room temperature

175g caster sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

300ml sour cream, at room temperature

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

25g cornflour

*20cm springform cake tin with sides no deeper than 6cm

  1. First of all you need to line your cake tin. This is simply a matter of taking two long pieces of baking parchment with enough length to fit into the tin with an overhang of 5-7cm. Press the first length down into the tin and then take the second piece and lay it across, perpendicularly, the first piece, so that the tin is completely lined. It will look messy and creased! I find that it helps to place something heavy in the tin to keep the paper in place until you need it.
  2. Using a mixer/processor, beat the cream cheese with the sugar until it is light and smooth – this should be done for quite some time – at least 3 minutes (if by chance you do mix it by hand it will need elbow grease and more time!).
  3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each one fully before adding the next. Then add the sour cream, continuing to beat the mixture to fully combine.
  4. Slow down the mixer to beat in the corn flour and finally beat in the salt.
  5. Before pouring the mixture into the cake tin, use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl and give the mixture a final stir. Pour into the tin (having removed whatever you have used to weigh down the lining!!) and rap the tin a few times on the work surface to get rid of any air bubbles.
  6. Place in an oven, 200’c fan, for 50 minutes, by which time it will have risen and be chestnut brown in places. It will, however, still seem undercooked and very ‘jiggly’ but do not be tempted to cook it for longer as it will set as it cools.
  7. Remove the tin to a rack and leave to cool. It will sink – it isn’t supposed to look pretty! After about 3 hours it will be cool enough to eat.
  8. Serve at room temperature or chilled from the fridge, as you prefer. To serve, unclip the sides and lift it up with the edges of the parchment. Place it on a plate with the parchment still around, peeling it back to cut into slices. If using, serve the liquorice sauce on the side (recipe below).

Liquorice Sauce

If you are a liquorice lover, this sauce from Nigella Lawson’s cookbook ‘Cook, Eat, Repeat’, is definitely a ‘must try’. It’s a good accompaniment to the Basque Burnt Cheesecake (above), but is also wonderful simply spooned over vanilla ice-cream! It will keep well in the fridge.

*You can get the liquorice pellets from good Italian delis or online at Amazon – I used Amarelli Spezzata.

15g hard pure Italian liquorice pellets

90g caster sugar

300ml water

Pinch of fine sea salt (optional)

  1. Put the pellets in a small saucepan with 300ml water. Stir in the sugar. Place over a low heat until the liquorice has melted – giving it a stir now and again.
  2. Now turn up the heat and let it bubble away until it has reduced to about 150ml and is syrupy –  this can take up to 20 minutes.
  3. Taste, adding a pinch of salt if you desire before serving.

Chocolate and Cherry Pavlova

This dessert is inspired by the retro dessert, black forest gateau, but made with chocolate meringue instead of sponge – it’s fantastic. The recipe is from Rosie Birkett’s cookbook ‘The Joyful Home Cook’, and with recipes like this, it truly is a joyous book! This recipe works well year-round, even when cherries are out of season, as they are macerated in Marsala wine which sweetens them. Although it is made with meringue, once made up, this dessert does keep quite well in the fridge as unlike traditional meringues it is mixed with hazelnuts and chocolate which give it a coarser texture that doesn’t dissolve with the addition of cream. Having said that, I do think it tastes better fresh, and there won’t be much leftover once you get started on it!…

100g dark chocolate (I use Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate), roughly broken up

4 egg whites

220g caster sugar

½ teaspoon white wine vinegar

100g blanched, skinless hazelnuts, roughly chopped

500g cherries, pitted

175ml Marsala wine or cherry liqueur

350ml double cream

10g dark chocolate for grating

  1. First, macerate the cherries. Put them in a bowl and cover with the Marsala wine, tossing them so that they are thoroughly coated. Set aside.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water (a bain-marie).
  3. Whisk the egg whites in a spotlessly clean bowl until stiff peaks form. Gradually, in batches, add the caster sugar, whisking constantly until the mixture is thick and glossy. Whisk in the vinegar. Pour the melted chocolate down the sides of the bowl, turning the bowl to distribute it evenly, then add the nuts and fold them through lightly so that the meringue is marbled with the chocolate.
  4. Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment, draw a 20cm circle on each and spread the meringue mixture evenly onto each circle – creating two meringue discs.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven, 110’c fan, for 2 hours. Remove from the oven, lift the meringues and parchment onto wire racks to cool.
  6. Whip up the cream until it just forms soft peaks – being careful not to over-whip it.
  7. Drain the Marsala from the macerating cherries and fold it into the cream – it will seem runny at first but will thicken as you incorporate it. Now fold in half of the cherries.
  8. Peel the baking parchment from the cooled meringues. Place one of the meringues on a serving plate, spread with just over half the cream mixture and top with the other meringue disc. Top with the remaining cream mixture and then the remaining cherries. Grate over the dark chocolate and serve.

Salted Honey Ice-Cream

This is my new favourite no-churn ice-cream – it uses condensed milk so does not require an ice-cream maker. It is seriously good! I have taken the recipe from Skye McAlpine’s cookbook, ‘A Table for Friends’, she has completely nailed the balance of flavours – the sweetness of the honey is toned down with the bitterness of dark chocolate and a little sea salt. It really is divine, you must try it!…

(Go to my Desserts Page for Coffee & Cardamom Ice-Cream and Strawberry Ice-Cream – both of these are also easy, no-churn recipes!)

600ml double cream

1 x 397g tin of condensed milk

80g runny honey

½ teaspoon sea salt flakes

100g dark chocolate (I use Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate), coarsely chopped,  plus more to serve

  1. Whisk the cream until stiff peaks begin to form (take care not to over whip as you want the texture to be smooth).
  2. Gently fold the condensed milk into the cream, then drizzle in the honey, sprinkle with salt and fold all the ingredients evenly together.
  3. Toss in the chopped chocolate and gently stir through so that it is peppered throughout the mixture.
  4. Pour the mixture into a freezer-safe container and to stop ice crystals forming, cover the mixture with a sheet of greaseproof paper before putting the lid on.
  5.  Freeze for 6-8 hours or overnight. The ice-cream will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  6. Scoop to serve and sprinkle with chopped chocolate.

Strawberry Meringues (Serves 4)

What better way to serve strawberries than combined with meringues?…No, on this occasion I’m not suggesting the classic Eton Mess (you can find that recipe here!)…Instead, in this recipe, the strawberries are actually cooked inside the meringues. By cooking them inside the meringues, the taste of the strawberries becomes more intense – you ‘ripen’ the flavour, so it’s a good recipe for those strawberries which are slightly disappointing. For that reason, it’s worth remembering over the long months after the summer season – when you can only get strawberries that have been flown in from abroad and consequently taste a little bland.

These meringues are best eaten the same day – which I’m sure won’t be a hardship! However, if there are one or two left over they will keep for 24 hrs in the fridge, but no longer. In cooking, you will find that the strawberries will leak out a gooey mixture this just adds to the flavour!

I found this recipe in James Martin’s book ‘Slow Cooking’. The recipes in this book are all simple to prepare yet are cooked or marinated slowly for at least an hour to create show-stopping dishes with little fuss – and this recipe for meringues is definitely one of those!

*You could also make this with raspberries

550g strawberries

4 egg whites

110g caster sugar

110g icing sugar, plus 20g for the sauce

250ml double cream

  1. Hull the strawberries and cut them in half.
  2. Beat the egg whites with the caster sugar in a grease-free bowl until stiff peaks form.
  3. Add 110g of the icing sugar and continue to beat for 4-6minutes until the mixture is smooth and shiny.
  4. Using a large metal spoon, lightly fold just under half of the strawberries into the meringue mixture.
  5. Carefully place 8 evenly sized spoonfuls on the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper.
  6. Place in a preheated oven, 100’c fan, and bake for 2 hours.
  7. Whilst the meringues are cooking make the strawberry purée. Place the remaining strawberries in a blender with 3 tablespoons water and the 20g icing sugar, process to a purée, then pass through a sieve to remove the seeds. Set aside.
  8. Place the cream in bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Set aside.
  9. When the meringues are cooked, remove from the baking sheet using a palette knife to transfer to a wire cooking rack, allow to cool before serving.
  10. Serve the meringues with the cream and purée on the side.

Banana Bread with Toasted Coconut

One of the best banana cakes that I have tasted was when I was holidaying in Antigua many years ago. Every morning, the little hotel where we were staying, would serve up an incredible banana bread – I was truly in paradise! Since then I have tried to emulate the recipe for this banana bread, which was deliciously dense and not too sweet – hence not only great for breakfast but also perfect for afternoon tea. However, the recipes which I made, although admittedly very tasty and moreish, never quite matched that one I had in ‘paradise’. I always blamed it on the lack of Caribbean sunshine – perhaps my London kitchen just didn’t have the ambience required?…But just recently, I found this recipe for banana bread in Meera Sodha’s cookbook ‘East’, Sohda uses both coconut and ground almonds in her recipe, I think that they are the secret to the elusive density that I had been searching for. Don’t be put off if you’re not keen on coconut, as the flavour of the banana overshadows it. It is great toasted and, for a really indulgent snack, unbelievably good spread with peanut butter…!! If you are gluten free, you will be pleased to know that it can be made perfectly well using gluten free flour (I use Doves).

100g coconut oil

100ml maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

150g plain flour (gluten free if required)

100g ground almonds

150g desiccated coconut

2 teaspoons baking powder

1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

450g ripe banana flesh (about 4-5 bananas), cut into chunks

40g untoasted coconut chips

(450g loaf tin, lined)

  1. In a small pan, heat the coconut oil until just melted then remove from the heat and stir in the maple syrup and vanilla, then set aside.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, ground almonds, desiccated coconut, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  3. Put the banana chunks in a food processor and blitz to a smooth puree. Add the flour mixture and the oil and process until just combined, scraping down the sides to ensure all the mixture is incorporated.
  4. Pour the mixture into the lined bread tin and spread out evenly, then sprinkle over enough coconut flakes to cover the top completely – pressing them lightly into the batter.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven, 180’c fan, for 1 hour, then turn the cake around and bake for a further 20 minutes.
  6. Take out of the oven and cool completely in the tin, brushing off any overly scorched coconut flakes.
  7. Serve in generous slices – it is delicious simply as it is, but do try it spread with peanut butter, or even toasted!

Coffee Crème Brûlée (Serves 6)

These aren’t just any old Crème Brulées, these are Coffee Crème Brulées, they are the perfect end to any meal; coffee and cream, what’s not to like?! There are quite a few recipes around for créme brûlées, but I think that this recipe from David Lebovitz’s cookbook ‘My Paris Kitchen’ (a book which is hugely entertaining not just for it’s wonderful recipes but also for the anecdotes of his life in Paris), is pretty much one of the best – it’s simple yet stylish, very Parisian!

I suggest you use a kitchen blowtorch to create the caramelised topping as it’s much easier than trying to get your grill hot enough to do it. Dare I mention the ‘Amazon’ word?…kitchen blow torches can be found there for around £12-14; they are a great addition to any kitchen and seriously you will appreciate the wonderful crunch they will give to your Brûlée!

330ml double cream

160ml whole milk

50g caster sugar, plus more for caramelising

Pinch of sea salt

4 large egg yolks

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

2 teaspoons of Kahlua or other coffee flavoured liqueur

You will need 6 ramekins with 125ml capacity

  1. In a small saucepan over a medium heat, warm the cream, milk, sugar, and salt until the sugar has melted.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Gradually add the warm cream mixture, stirring rather than whisking, as you don’t want to create too much froth.
  3. Mix 3 tablespoons of the cream mixture to the espresso powder, then return it to the bowl with the rest of the cream mixture, and mix to fully incorporate (I find that by adding it in this way it is easier to dissolve).
  4. Use a sieve to strain the coffee and cream mixture into large jug, then stir in the Kahlua.
  5. Pour the mixture between 6 ramekins (125ml).
  6. Place a tea towel over the base of a roasting tin (this will stop the ramekins from slipping), then place the ramekins in the tin. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting tin so that it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover with foil.
  7. Place the roasting tin in a preheated oven, 150’c fan, cook for about 40-45 minutes until they are just about set but still a little ‘jiggly’.
  8. Remove the ramekins to cool on a rack. When cool, refrigerate until ready to serve.
  9. To serve, sprinkle with a thin, even layer of sugar (about 1½ teaspoons), then use a kitchen blow torch to caramelise the sugar – you may need to lift the ramekin to swirl the caramel evenly across the top. Serve immediately.

Chocolate Nemesis

This is the recipe for the River Cafe’s legendary chocolate cake. If you have been fortunate enough to eat at the restaurant, this is probably the dessert you would have chosen, it is famed for its rich mousse-like consistency, believe me you will be in heaven when you taste this! Over the years, I have found various recipes claiming to be the ‘River Cafe Nemesis’ but the discrepancies between the baking times, ingredient amounts and cooking temperatures have made the winning recipe elusive – even the recipe published in their ‘River Cafe Cookbook’ had something ‘missing’ (and called for 10 whole eggs!). So, I must admit that I had given up trying to find it…until just recently, when I discovered that during lockdown the River Cafe was selling the cake online for £60 – yes exactly, not cheap! It was a bit of a ‘red rag to a bull’ – I was determined to find the recipe so I could make it myself. This time, on my google search I discovered  a ‘YouTube’ video of a River Café chef making the cake, and although they didn’t exactly give you the ingredients or the cooking times in a straightforward manner, it was enough to be able to copy the recipe – and yes, I think I have absolutely found the winning one, what’s more, it is very easy to make and is gluten free; it only needs four ingredients plus a little water…you will thank me for sharing this!

The cake, as I mentioned, has a very soft mousse-like consistency, so it is better served from the fridge, in this way it will be firmer and easier to slice. Serve it with a dollop of crème fraiche, you really do need this to cut the chocolate as it is very rich!

350g dark chocolate (I use Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate)

225g butter (plus a good knob to grease the tin)

5 eggs

300g caster sugar

125ml water

Cocoa powder to decorate (optional)

(24cm cake tin and a roasting tin, to use as a bain marie)

  1. First of all prepare your cake tin, generously butter the tin and line the base with baking paper.
  2. Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water and melt together until smooth.
  3. At the same time place 100g of the sugar in a small saucepan with 125ml of water, heat gently to melt the sugar to form a sugar syrup.
  4. Meanwhile, beat the eggs and 200g of the remaining sugar with an electric mixer until the mixture has quadrupled in size – this can take up to 10 minutes.
  5. Add the hot syrup to the melted chocolate mixture and stir to combine.
  6. Now add this chocolate syrup to the eggs, continuing to beat as you do so, until completely combined.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin.
  8. Put a folded tea towel onto the bottom of the roasting tin (this will stop the cake tin from slipping) and place the cake tin in the roasting tin.
  9. Pour boiling water around the cake tin, so that it comes half way up its sides.
  10. Bake in a preheated oven, 120’c fan, for at least 1 hour, until the cake is just set on top and the sides come away from the edge when gently pulled. Leave to go completely cold in the bain marie (about 2 hours).
  11. Carefully remove from the tin, the base will be the top of the cake. If using, sprinkle over sieved cocoa powder.
  12. Keep refrigerated, and serve in slices with crème fraiche.

Almond and Apricot Cake

Admittedly this is not the most attractive of cakes, it’s rather flat and tends to go at little ‘golden’ around its edge…but remember, looks can be deceiving! It is a beautifully moist cake, with a slightly chewy crust, the sweet flavour of the apricots is complemented by a lemony syrup which you pour over the cake when it is still warm. It is a recipe that I have taken from an old book, ‘The Gastro Pub Cookbook’. At the time it was published in 2003, the gastropubs from which it takes its recipes, were some of the best in the UK, although some of these pubs might not have survived the recipes are still as delicious. Interestingly, the book was researched by Diana Henry who these days is a very successful cookery book writer in her own right. Henry described this cake as ‘one of the most delicious cakes I have ever tasted’, and I’m not going to argue with her! It was a recipe which she took from ‘Ballymore Inn’ in Co.Kildare, Ireland, which in fact, is still a very successful gastropub – one which I have on my bucket list to visit…!

If you are gluten free, like me, this cake can be easily adapted by using gluten free flour (I used Doves) – the cake in the photo is gluten free!

225g butter, plus extra to grease the tin

100g dried, ready to eat apricots

225g caster sugar

1 lemon, juiced

80g ground almonds

3 large eggs, beaten

100g plain flour (gluten free if required – see note above)

For the Lemon Syrup:

1 tablespoon caster sugar

1 lemon, juiced

To serve: crème frâiche or whipped cream

  1. Butter a 23cm round cake tin and line the base.
  2. Roughly chop the apricots.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the lemon juice, ground almonds and beaten eggs, then mix thoroughly. Finally, fold in the flour and apricots.
  4. Put the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake in the oven, 180’c fan, for about 35 minutes until the cake is firm and golden and leaving the sides of the tin.
  5. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes then lift out onto a plate.
  6. To make the lemon syrup, gently heat the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Pour over the cake while it is still warm.
  7. Serve warm or cold with whipped cream or crème fraiche.

Chocolate Meringue Cake

This is one of those cakes that, if you are a lazy cook like me, you look at and think ,‘that looks complicated, it will take far too much energy to cook’ and you dismiss it…But, this cake is in fact quite straight forward to make, admittedly it requires a bit more time in the oven and you have to wait for it to cool properly before you can eat it, but it’s definitely worth the wait! What’s not to like…chocolate and meringue! I found this recipe some years ago in a magazine, it’s a recipe from Donna Hay.

This cake is supposed to look rustic – it will crack and collapse a bit!

240g dark chocolate, roughly chopped (I use Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate)

180g unsalted butter, roughly chopped

2 eggs

4 eggs (extra) separated

90g brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

50g plain flour (use gluten free if required – I use Doves)

½ teaspoon baking powder

40g ground almonds

220g caster sugar

1 teaspoon white vinegar

3 teaspoons cornflour

25g cocoa powder, sifted (plus extra to dust)

  1. Lightly grease and line the base of a 24cm round springform cake tin.
  2. Place the chocolate and butter in a medium saucepan and melt over a low heat. Allow to cool slightly.
  3. Place the 2 eggs and the 4 extra egg yolks, brown sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl and  use an electric whisk to whisk until pale and thick – 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add the chocolate mixture, the flour, baking powder and ground almonds and fold gently to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and cook in a preheated oven, 160’c fan, for 35-40minutes – it will only be partially cooked. Remove and set aside.
  5. Increase the oven temperature to 180’c fan.
  6. Place the 4 egg whites in a bowl and using an electric whisk, whisk until they form soft peaks. Gradually add the caster sugar, followed by the vinegar. Continue to whisk until the meringue is thick and glossy.
  7. Sift the cornflour and cocoa together and add to the meringue, folding through to combine. Spread the meringue over the partially cooked cake .
  8. Return to the oven (180’c fan) for 20 -25 minutes until the meringue is crisp and golden.
  9. Allow the cake to stand in the tin for 15-20 minutes, before gently running a knife around the edge and removing it from the tin.
  10. Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving to allow the flavours to meld together. Dust with cocoa powder to serve. It is best served at room temperature – allow 30 minutes for it to warm up – it will become deliciously ‘fudgy’.

Chocolate Easter Nests

I initially recreated our family favourite, Chocolate Crispy Cakes (recipe below), into these nests as a special treat for Easter, however they are good at anytime of the year! With the addition of the Mini Eggs, you get a double dose of chocolate – how can anyone resist?! They literally take 15 minutes to make, although admittedly you will have to wait for them to set in the fridge before eating…

50g unsalted butter

4 tablespoons golden syrup

100g dark chocolate (I use Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate)

75g cornflakes

About 20-30 Mini Eggs

  1. Gently melt the butter, syrup and chocolate in a bowl suspended over a pan of barely simmering water (a bain marie).
  2. In another bowl, gently crush the cornflakes into smaller pieces – this makes them easier to mold into a nest shape.
  3. Add the cornflakes to the chocolate mixture, stirring gently so that they are evenly coated.
  4. Spoon the mixture into muffin cases, using the back of the spoon to create a nest shape. Place three or four Mini Eggs into the ‘nest’, and place in the fridge until set.

Lemon Surprises (Serves 4)

Many of you will be familiar with ‘Lemon Surprise Pudding’, it’s one of those gratifying recipes which you put in the oven as a batter and it comes out not only as a soft sponge, but miraculously with a pool of lemony sauce underneath! You may already have a recipe for it, but I urge you to try this one, as the sponge really is the lightest that I have come across! The addition of lemon thyme is optional, it slightly lifts the flavours and, of course, makes a lovely decoration!

I like to make this dessert in individual bowls or ramekins, but you can make it in one dish.

45g soft butter

150g caster sugar

2 lemons, finely grated zest & juiced

2 eggs, separated

200ml milk

50g self-raising flour (gluten free if required – I use Doves)

4 sprigs lemon thyme (optional)

Icing sugar, for dusting

Double cream to serve

  1. Use an electric mixer to cream the butter and 100 g of the caster sugar with the lemon zest until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks. Gradually add the milk, lemon juice and flour in turns, mixing well between each addition to make a smooth batter.
  2. Place the egg whites in a clean bowl and whisk with the remaining 50g caster sugar to soft peaks, add the picked leaves from two sprigs of thyme, then gently fold through the batter.
  3. Divide the batter among four individual bowls/ramekins with the capacity for about 175ml or put in one dish. Place in a roasting tin, lined with a tea towel (this will stop them slipping), and pour in enough boiling water to come about halfway up the sides of the ramekins or dish.
  4. Carefully transfer to a preheated oven, 160’c fan, and bake for 20 minutes or until golden on top and springy to touch. Turn the oven off and let the puddings rest in the oven for another 20 minutes, so the custard firms slightly.
  5. Decorate with the remaining thyme sprigs, dust with icing sugar and serve with cream.

Creamy Rice Pudding with Armagnac & Earl Grey Prunes (Serves 4 -6)

Ok, I must admit that I haven’t always been a lover of rice pudding. When I was a child I absolutely hated it; most of my memories of this pudding, probably fuelled by my school dinners, are of a tasteless, milky mush. I was only converted years later, when Nick, who loves rice pudding, urged me to try it in a restaurant – it was a revelation! Since then, I have been on a mission to find the very best, creamiest rice pudding recipe…and I think this is definitely it. The prunes in Armagnac are the ‘icing on the cake’! I hate skin on my rice pudding, so I stir it every 15 minutes whilst it is baking to stop a skin from forming, but if you prefer, you can leave it to skin over.

For the Pudding:

500ml whole milk

500ml double cream

1 vanilla pod

100g Arborio rice

75g caster sugar

For the Armagnac Prunes:

50g caster sugar

50g clear honey

1 earl grey teabag

100ml Armagnac

16 Agen prunes, pitted and cut in half

  1. Firstly prepare the prunes. Put 100ml water, the sugar and honey in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, add the teabag and allow to infuse for 2-3 minutes. Remove the teabag, then pour in the Armagnac and add the prunes. Set aside to marinate whilst you make the rice pudding.
  2. Slice the vanilla pod lengthways, scrape out the seeds, and mix in a bowl, with the milk, cream, rice and caster sugar. Put in a 1.5 litre ovenproof dish and bake in a preheated oven, 130’c fan, for 1½ hours until all the liquid has been absorbed; stir every 15 minutes to prevent a skin from forming.
  3. When you are ready to serve, gently warm the prunes in a small pan. Serve the rice pudding in bowls with the prunes and their delicious syrup spooned over the top!

Rhubarb and Ginger Meringues (Serves 4)

I love the tart nature of rhubarb; this recipe for Rhubarb and Ginger Meringues has been a favourite of mine for some years now. These individual meringues are not the crunchy type, but are lovely, marshmallowy, soft meringues – you only cook them for 10-15 minutes. They do tend to crack a bit around the edges, so don’t be alarmed when they do, but this adds to their charm, and they still look impressive with the creamy rhubarb and ginger fool that sits in the middle of them. It really is a delicious dessert, the sharp rhubarb is perfectly balanced by the sweetness of the meringue. What’s more, it is the simplest of desserts – I found the recipe in Rachel Allen’s cookbook ‘Easy Meals’ – so enough said!…

Watch the video of this dessert being made here!

2 large egg whites

125g caster sugar

For the rhubarb fool:

175g rhubarb, cut into 1cm lengths

75g caster sugar

1 teaspoon grated root ginger

125ml double cream, softly whipped

  1. Place the egg whites in a bowl and using a hand-held electric whisk, whisk until they form soft peaks. Gradually whisk in the caster sugar and continue to whisk until the meringue mixture is stiff and glossy.
  2. Spoon 4 large blobs of the mixture onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Using the back of a spoon create a well in the centre of each meringue (this is where the rhubarb fool will sit).
  3. Place the meringues in a preheated oven, 160’c fan, for 10-15 minutes until they are crisp on the outside but still marshmallowy in the middle. Remove from the oven and carefully lift them from the greaseproof paper to cool on a wire rack.
  4. Meanwhile make the rhubarb fool. Place the rhubarb, sugar and ginger in a saucepan with 25ml of water. Cook over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the rhubarb is stewed to a mush and the syrup has thickened. Allow to cool, then fold into the whipped cream.
  5. To serve, place the meringues onto individual plates and spoon a dollop of rhubarb fool over the top of each one.

Chocolate Gourmandise (Serves 4)

‘Chocolate Gourmandise’ is one of those desserts that everyone, yes, everyone loves! On first appearance it seems to be a little sponge in a cup, but when you dip your spoon into it, you get the wonderful surprise of a molten chocolate centre. What really will steal your heart, is that this recipe, is not only delicious but incredibly easy to make, and so, it is not only the perfect midweek family treat, but also the perfect dessert to end a dinner party… It must be baked at the very last minute, but can be prepared several hours in advance. And the other good news is that, it works perfectly well with gluten free plain flour (I use Doves). This recipe is from a cookbook which I have had for over 20 years, ‘Patricia Wells at Home in the Provence’. Whilst there are other recipes in this book that I have enjoyed, it always naturally falls open onto the page for Chocolate Gourmandise (with all its cooking stains)!

Watch the video of this dessert being made here!

125g dark chocolate, roughly chopped (I use Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate)

125g butter

3 large eggs

150g caster sugar

35 g plain flour (gluten free if required – I use ‘Doves’)

Butter and flour for preparing the ramekins

(you will also need 4 small ramekins with 150ml capacity)

  1. Place the chocolate with the butter in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, stir until melted.
  2. In another bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar and flour, mixing just to blend.
  3. Gradually whisk in the melted chocolate mixture.
  4. Leave the mixture to rest for an hour, to allow the flavours to mellow.
  5. Generously butter and flour the ramekins. Place on a baking sheet. Spoon the mixture into the ramekins.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven, 200’c fan, for 12-14 minutes, they should be still wobbly.
  7. Transfer the ramekins to sit on dessert plates and serve immediately.

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 fan, 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

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 fan, 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 fan, 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 & 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, serve cherries in Kirsch from 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 fan. 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 fan, 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 dark 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 fan, 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 fan, 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 fan; 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 dark 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 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 fan, 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

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 (dark 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, 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 dark 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 dark 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 dark chocolate (I use Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa Dark 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.

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 fan.
  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 fan. 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 – if you’re not breaking them up – which I use for Pavlova…you can find the recipe above!)

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!


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!