Tag Archives: dessert

Caramelised pear and almond cake

This is another recipe using the pears kindly given to us by a friend.  The pears are Conference but you could use any eating variety.  The cake is my almond cake batter – light and moist. This pear cake is very good with lots of cream as a dessert or indeed with a cup of tea in the afternoon. Shaheen recently made a wonderful chocolate pear crown cake that looks fantastic, take a look at the post on her blog about it for more pear cake inspiration.

4-5 pears (the ones I used were quite small)
25g butter
2 tbsp caster sugar

175g softened butter
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
150ml natural yoghurt ( I use Greek yoghurt)
1 tsp almond extract
200g ground almonds
100g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

Method

Grease and line a 23cm springform pan and preheat the oven to 160°c, gas mark 3.

Peel the pears and remove the base and the stalk.  Slice the pear through but keep the top intact so that you can fan the pear out.  You will see from the picture that I wasn’t entirely successful at keeping the pears in fans but it doesn’t matter too much. Melt the butter in a pan that is large enough to take the pears in a single layer.  Add the sugar and swirl until melted.  Add the pears and cook for about 10 minutes over a medium heat until they become a lovely caramel colour.  Set aside and allow to cool a little while you make the cake batter.

Beat the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add one egg at a time, whisking well between each addition.  Add the yoghurt and the almond extract and beat well.

Add the ground almonds, flour and baking powder and fold in carefully.

Put the batter into the cake tin and level the top.  Place the caramelised pears on top, fanning them out as you go.

Place the tin into the centre of the preheated oven (the baking oven of the Aga) and cook for about 1 hour until golden on top and a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool for about ten minutes in the tin.  Then turn out upside down onto a plate, remove the base and turn the right way up onto a wire rack to finish cooling. You could serve it warm or cold with lots of cream (and those poached pears if you wanted to).

 

 

 

Poached pears in spiced red wine

A friend of ours has the most marvellous garden.  It is like The Secret Garden, only better.  It is full of fruit trees; apple, medlar, plum, cherry and pear.  Fortunately for us our friend is also very generous.  He turns up with buckets full of whatever fruit is ready.  Last week was the turn of the pear and what lovely pears they were. They deserved to be turned into something special.  In fact I made not one but two desserts with them, these poached pears and a caramelised pear and almond cake which will feature in the  next post. The two made for some very nice eating after a lovely meal at my mum and dad’s house.

6-8 pears (fairly firm)
1 bottle of good red wine
1 vanilla pod, split and cut into three pieces
5 cm cinnamon stick
1 star anise
2 whole cloves
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
225g caster sugar

Method

Peel the pears, leaving them whole and the stalk intact.  Cut a little off the bottom so that each pear will stand upright.

Pour the wine into a saucepan that is large enough to take all the pears but not too large as you want the pears to be as covered in the wine as they can be. Add the sugar, the spices and the thyme.  Place over a gentle heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the pears and turn the heat up until the wine is simmering.  Cover the pan with a lid. Simmer for twenty to thirty minutes until the pears are just tender when you test with a cocktail stick or fork tine. If the pears are not fully submerged in the wine then turn them every five minutes during cooking to make sure they become evenly coloured.

Remove the pears to a deep bowl.  Turn the heat up under the wine and boil vigorously until reduced by about half and it has become syrupy. Allow the syrup to cool a little and then pour over the pears.  This way they will develop a deeper red colour. Place in the fridge.  The pears can be made up to two days ahead. Serve with lashings of cream.

Almond trifle

I actually made this trifle a few weeks ago, with the leftover cake from that first almond cake I made.  That particular cake was OK, but a bit dry and after a couple of days wasn’t particularly tempting.  The second one I made and posted about here was so delicious that I scoffed it all and so it didn’t make its way into a trifle.

Stale cake makes a great base for a trifle and so it was that I made this for a Sunday dessert. There was a little under half a cake left to use. I sliced it and spread it with strawberry jam and soaked it with Amaretto. Then made a custard and covered it with lashings of softly whipped cream and toasted almonds.  It was a very comforting end to dinner but I was asked where the jelly was.  Oh well, you can’t please all of the people all of the time… If you want a trifle that has a jelly layer I have posted one before here.

Leftover almond cake (or you could use sponge, pound or madeira cake)
4-5 tbsp strawberry jam
50ml  Amaretto (or you could use sherry)
For the custard layer:
300ml double cream
3 egg yolks
25g caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch)
For the top layer:
300ml double cream
25g almonds

Method

Slice the almond cake and spread with the strawberry jam.  Lay in the bottom of a trifle bowl.  Sprinkle the amaretto all over the sponge.

To make the custard, whisk the egg yolks, the sugar and cornflour (cornstarch) together in a bowl.  Heat the cream until almost boiling.  Pour the hot cream slowly over the egg yolks, whisking all the time.  Return the mixture to the pan and place onto a gentle heat.  Stir all the time until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Take off the heat and keep stirring until it cools a little.  Leave to cool and then pour over the cake slices.  Cover with clingfilm so that it is on top of the custard to prevent a skin forming and place in the fridge.

About an hour before serving softly whip the cream and spoon onto the custard. Toast the almonds in a dry pan over a medium heat (keep your eye on them as they can burn quickly) and then sprinkle over the cream.

Rhubarb and ginger pie

I cannot claim any of the credit for this pie.  It is my mum’s recipe and my mum made it.  However, I couldn’t resist posting it here because it is just so delicious. The addition of the stem ginger really complements the rhubarb.  Every time my mum makes it it disappears almost as soon as it is put on the table. So if I can decipher my mother’s handwriting, this is how she makes it.

For the pastry:
200g plain flour
100g cold butter, diced
cold water

For the filling:
650g prepared rhubarb (peeled if necessary and cut into 3cm chunks)
2 heaped tbsp Demerara sugar
1 tsp stem ginger syrup from the jar
3 pieces of preserved stem ginger, chopped finely

Method

Place the flour and the cubed butter in a food processor and blitz until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.  Add about 2-3 tablespoons of cold water at first and then pulse the mixture.  You may need to add a little more water until the pastry comes together in a ball.  The important thing is to keep the mixing to a minimum otherwise the pastry will be tough.  You can of course rub the butter and flour together with your fingers until the breadcrumb stage and then stir in the water with a knife until it comes together.  Form the pastry into a flattened disc, cover with a food bag or clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Place the rhubarb, sugar, stem ginger and syrup in a bowl and leave to marinate for about ten minutes.

Split the pastry in half and roll out one half to fit a pie dish or plate.  Place the rhubarb mixture into the dish.  Brush the edges of the pastry with water.  Roll out the second disc of pastry to fit the top and seal well around the edges.

Cook in a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 6 or in the Roasting oven of the Aga for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.  Sprinkle on a little more demerara as soon as it comes out of the oven for a crunchy top.

Summer Roulade

I made this on sunday, with the first British strawberries that I have seen this year.  The rolling didn’t work out too well. But I thought to myself, ‘well I will post it as it tastes good’.  Then just before I post it I read Chele’s latest blog about this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge. This month’s challenge is not an ingredient, but a technique and you guessed it – the making and rolling of a roulade/ swiss roll.  Oh well, maybe more practice is needed before I can submit an entry into this month’s challenge.

Last time I made this roulade it rolled much better.  But last time I had run over to my parent’s house to borrow her swiss roll tin, which measures 29cm x 18cm and has shallow sides.  On Sunday I used my Aga half-sized roasting dish which measure 27cm x 16cm and so this resulted in a slightly thicker and slightly shorter cake.  This made it more difficult to roll, so I think getting the right sized tin is definitely the way to go if you want to enter any challenges.  If you just want a tasty cake then live a little on the edge and use a tin that is approximately the right size.

The recipe for the cake element is based on Delia’s Squidgy Chocolate Log from her Complete Cookery Course.

For the cake:

6 eggs
150g caster sugar
50g cocoa powder

Method

Line a swiss roll (shallow) tin that measures  29cm x 18cm with greaseproof paper or silicone sheet.

Separate the eggs.  Whisk the yolks until they start to thicken.  Add the sugar and whisk until a little thicker. Sift over the cocoa powder and fold in.

In a separate and scrupulously clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks.  Add one third of the egg whites and fold in carefully and then add the rest of the egg whites in two further batches.  Folding carefully to retain as much air as possible.  Pour the mixture carefully into the prepare tin and bake in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or the centre of the Baking Oven of the Aga for about 20 minutes until it is springy to the touch.

Leave in the tin to cool.

For the filling:

3 tablespoons of strawberry jam
300ml double cream
about 8 strawberries
1 tbsp cocoa powder

Place a sheet of greaseproof paper, slightly larger than the cake, onto the worktop and dust with cocoa. Softly whip the cream.   Turn the cake out of the tin onto the greaseproof paper.  Spread the jam evenly over the surface and then spread the cream on top.  Halve the strawberries and dot them on top of the cream.  Using the greaseproof paper roll the cake gently into a roll.  If it cracks, it will still taste good. Serve with extra double cream poured over.

Kahlua and Coffee Ice Cream

If I was absolutely forced to name a favourite flavour of ice cream (crikey, it would be hard) it would be coffee (or it might be chocolate, or coconut, no it is coffee, although rum and raisin is nice too…). Anyway, I do love coffee ice cream and I have made plenty of chocolate, and plenty of strawberry and plenty of vanilla but I have never made coffee ice cream.  So last Sunday I dug out the ice cream maker from its winter hiding place at the back of the cupboard and made half chocolate (for the girls) and half Kahlua and coffee ice cream from a batch of custard using six eggs.

The Kahlua was bought for the gathering of friends a few weeks back when I made Nigella’s Espresso Martinis (oh my goodness they are good and worth the purchase of Nigella’s Christmas book all on their own I should think). This bottle of Kahlua was winking at me from the sideboard just begging to be used to flavour ice cream. It was a good call, this is a very good ice cream. It will be made again and soon.

The recipe below gives a 3 egg custard enough for about 5-6 servings of ice cream, but you can easily double it to make more.

3 egg yolks
300ml double cream
1 tsp cornflour
25g caster sugar
50ml Kahlua
25ml very strong coffee

Method

Pour the cream into a small saucepan and heat until just below simmering point.  Mix the egg yolks with the cornflour and sugar in a bowl.  Now whisking the eggs all the time, pour the hot cream over.  When well combined pour the mixture back into the saucepan and  continue to stir with a wooden spoon over a gentle heat.  The mixture will begin to thicken and will coat the back of the spoon.  Take the custard off the heat and stir for a minute or so until it has begun to cool.  Add the Kahlua and the coffee and mix in well. Allow the mixture to cool completely before pouring into an ice cream maker and following the manufacturer’s instructions or pouring into a large freezer proof container and placing into the freezer.  If you don’t have an ice cream maker you will have to remove the ice cream every hour and beat well with a fork to combine the ice crystals with the custard until the ice cream is smooth and frozen.  You will need to remove it from the freezer about 15 minutes before you want to eat it so that it becomes soft enough to spoon out of the container.

Lime and chocolate cheesecake

This month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge is hosted by Chele over at Chocolate Teapot and she decided that lime would be this month’s magic ingredient.  I had lots of ideas, including a lime flavoured chocolate cake with lime buttercream, (which sounds so delicious I think I might just make it yet), but yesterday was my turn to make Sunday lunch and I fancied making a cheesecake. I used a similar recipe to the successful cherry cheesecake Mr OC made not so long ago, but added plenty of grated rind and juice of lime.  The chocolate has taken a bit of a back seat just making a cameo appearance in the crust and a light grating on the top.  The reason for this is that my folks are not big fans of chocolate (how I manage to be their daughter I am not sure!).  But the presence of chocolate just about shines through.

This time I cooked the crumb base, but it is not really necessary.  I did it this time because I used Hob Nobs and I thought the oats might make a sort of flapjack base.  I was right.

This cheesecake is zingy and refreshing and makes a lovely end to a roast dinner.  You could say it is a light dessert, but that is then counteracted if you follow it up with a serving of apple crumble and then a serving of crème caramel – oops!  Oh well, it was a Sunday.

200g chocolate coated biscuits ( I used chocolate Hob Nobs)
100g butter, softened

400g cream cheese, at room temperature
50g icing sugar
finely grated zest and juice of 2 limes
300ml double cream

To decorate – the finely grated rind of 1 lime and some finely grated chocolate

Method

Place the biscuits into a food processor and whizz until crumbs.  Add the butter and whizz again until well mixed. (If you don’t have a food processor then place the biscuits into a food bag and bash with a rolling pin or a can.  Melt the butter in a small pan and add the biscuit crumbs and mix well. )

Press the crumbs into a 20cm springform tin, making sure they are well pressed down.  Now you can leave it like this or you can bake it in a preheated oven at 180 °c, gas mark 4 for 6-8 minutes until lightly golden.  Leave to go cold.

In a large bowl mix together the cream cheese, icing  sugar and the rind and juice of 2 limes.  In another bowl lightly whip the double cream and then combine with the rest of the ingredients.  Spread this over the crumb base, levelling with a palette knife.  Place in the fridge until you are ready to serve.  When you are ready to serve grate over the rind of one more lime and a chunk of chocolate.

Stem Ginger Truffles

At Christmas Mr OC buys me a big box of chocolates – he knows how to keep me sweet.  He normally asks for mainly cherry chocolates – you see, he definitely knows how to keep me sweet.  This year the chocolate shop ignored his request. This was initially a bit disappointing as there was only one cherry chocolate in the box – horrors!  But as it turned out it was a good thing as I got to try every chocolate in their selection and a particular favourite was the chocolate coated crystalized ginger.

I knew I had to make some and soon.  I have a jar of stem ginger in syrup in the cupboard, so I decided to use this as the flavouring in my truffle recipe. I made them yesterday as a present for Mr OC.  They aren’t as beautiful as a shop bought truffle, but they are very tasty. One tip though – don’t leave them by a warm radiator before you give them to the lucky recipient, this only leads to disaster.  They are best kept in the fridge.  Oh well, lesson learned.

Makes about 20 truffles.

100g best quality dark chocolate
200ml double cream

60g stem ginger in syrup, chopped finely
25g caster sugar or cocoa powder to coat the truffle

Method

Break the chocolate into small pieces or whizz to rubble in a food processor and place into a bowl.  Pour the cream into a small pan and heat to just below boiling point.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and leave for a minute and then stir until smooth.  Place in the fridge for about two hours until the mixture is thick enough to roll into truffles.  Add the chopped ginger to the mixture and stir well.

Now, you can roll teaspoonfuls of the mixture into small balls like I did yesterday, or you can shape them roughly into ball shapes using two spoons.  I think I like the rough and ready look a little better.  Take a look at my Cherry Truffles and see what you think.

Then coat the truffle in caster sugar or cocoa or even chopped nuts, whatever takes your fancy.  Store in the fridge and enjoy regularly.

Choclette recently made some gorgeous looking Ginger Chocolates so pop over and take a look at her lovely recipe.

Lemon meringue

First, I apologise for the poor quality of this photo.  It was after Sunday dinner and I was serving nine people a choice of either baked apples or lemon meringue ( or both if you are Mr OC) and they were anxious to dig in.  I felt bad delaying them whilst I tried to get a decent shot.  So I gave up and took this one. It doesn’t do the pie justice at all.  A lemon meringue is a thing of beauty, a crumbly biscuit base, tangy lemon filling and pillowy meringue – heaven.

I always use Mary Berry’s recipe from her The Aga Book (published by Aga Rayburn) as it is completely fail-safe and makes a very good pie indeed. You can make a biscuit base  or you can do a sweet pastry base.  Both are good but I think biscuit may just have the slight advantage so this is the one I tell you about here. Now, because I always make this in my Aga I am going to concentrate on telling you this method and then tell you how Delia Smith cooks hers so that you can use this information for whatever oven you have.

These instructions are for a 23cm loose base metal flan tin

Biscuit base:

175g (6oz) digestive biscuits
50g (2oz) butter, softened
Mary Berry adds 45g (1½ oz) demerara sugar but I don’t think this is necessary so I omit it.

For the filling:

2 large or 3 small lemons
40g (1 ½ oz) cornflour
300ml (½ pint) water
3 egg yolks
75g (3oz) caster sugar

For the meringue:

3 egg whites
120g (4½ oz) caster sugar

Method

For the biscuit base, place the biscuits in a food processor and whizz to crumbs. Add the softened butter and whizz again until combined.  If you don’t have a food processor, then place the biscuits into a large plastic food bag and bash with a rolling pin (or similarly heavy implement) until crumbs.  Place the crumbs into a bowl.  Melt the butter and add to the crumbs and mix well.

Place the crumb mixture into the flan dish and press down with the back of a spoon until   it covers the base evenly and goes slightly up the sides of the tin. Place the tin onto a baking sheet and place in the roasting oven of the Aga, or into a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 6, for 6 minutes until lightly browned. Leave to one side whilst you make the filling.

For the filling:

Pour the water into a pan and bring to the boil.  Place the finely grated zest and the juice of the lemons into a bowl and add the cornflour and stir to blend. Pour in the boiling water and mix well, then return the mixture back to the pan and heat until the mixture thickens. Mix the egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl and then add to the cornflour mixture and stir on the heat allowing it to bubble a few times.  Take the pan off the heat and allow to cool a little before pouring evenly over the biscuit base.

To make the meringue:

Beat the egg whites until forming stiff peaks and then add the sugar one spoonful at a time beating well after each addition.  You should have a thick glossy mixture when finished.  Spoon this over the top of the filling making little peaks, which will brown nicely and become crunchy, contrasting with the soft meringue underneath.

For the Aga, place the pie (still on the baking sheet) on the grid shelf positioned on the third set of runners of the roasting oven for 2-3 minutes until gently golden.  Transfer to the simmering oven for a further 15 minutes.  You can serve it warm or cold, it’s delicious either way.

For an ordinary oven Delia recommends preheating the oven to 150°c, gas mark two and cooking at this temperature for 45 minutes.

Cherry Cheesecake

Staying with the cherry theme…

I can’t really take the credit for this as Mr OC made it.  I did however hover nervously, not quite in the background, interjecting occasionally.  I am the back seat driver of the kitchen it seems.   I did make the cherry sauce for the top though, as I needed to have some contribution to the proceedings ( a control freak – moi?).

250g digestive biscuits
150g soft butter

400g cream cheese (room temperature)
60g icing sugar
300ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp lemon juice

For the topping:

1 can of cherries in fruit syrup
2 tsp arrowroot, dissolved in 2 tbsp of water
Glug of cherry brandy (optional and to taste)

Method

Put the biscuits in a food processor and whiz until crumbs.  Add the soft butter and whiz again until combined. (If you don’t have a food processor then place the biscuits in a freezer or sandwich bag and bash with a rolling pin until crumbs.  Melt the butter and pour in the biscuits and stir to combine.)  Press the crumbs into a loose based springform tin measuring 20cm.   Using the back of a metal spoon is the easiest way of doing this.  Place in the fridge whilst you prepare the cheese part.

Place the cream cheese, icing sugar, vanilla extract and lemon juice in a bowl and beat until smooth.  Softly whip the double cream and then lightly fold it into the cream cheese mixture.  Spoon this onto the biscuit base and smooth with a palette knife.  Chill in the fridge until just before serving.

Make the sauce ready to pour on top just before serving.  Empty the cherries and the syrup they are in into a saucepan.  Add the arrowroot and water solution and stir well.  Place on a gentle heat and simmer until the sauce has thickened.  Add a glug of cherry brandy to taste.  Pour into a bowl and chill until you are ready to pour over the cheesecake before serving.

When you are ready to serve, run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake and release the springform tin.  Keep the cheesecake on the base of the tin and place on a serving plate.  Spoon the cherries and as much of the sauce as the cheesecake will take over the top.