Category Archives: Desserts

2 minute idiot proof creme brûlée

So the challenge with creme brûlée is that it is best when it isn’t fully set, but how do you know for sure if it will be until it’s too late?

The answer is… Don’t bake it.

You can make your own custard for this, but it’s even simpler if you buy ready made thick custard. Fill the appropriate number of ramekins and sprinkle turbinado / Demerara sugar on top. If you don’t have the iron for this, you will need a small blow torch. Apply a thin coat over the custard. Don’t be tempted to put a very thick layer as you won’t be able to caramelise the entire thickness. Burn the sugar until it has liquified.

Return the ramekins to the fridge and serve cold.

Could it be any easier?

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Banana and chocolate chip bread and butter pudding

This is a quick and easy dessert that uses up two kitchen perennials: over ripe bananas and slightly stale bread.  I tend to use a two inch deep pyrex dish for this  as I love the cruchy/caramelised topping and my partner prefers the mushy creamy underside.   If you like the topping better, use a shallower dish to provide more surface area.

Ingredients:

  • 2 overripe bananas (I pop bananas in the freezer as soon as they start turning black.  You can peel and slice them straight from the freezer)
  • A loaf of slightly stale bread (I wouldn’t use rye or anything savoury, of course but this works great with just about any bread: raisin loaf, white, whole wheat, panettone, brioche… whatever!)
  • Vanilla
  • Turbinado / Demerara sugar (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 3 cups of milk
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • a handful of chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Cut the bread up into good sized chunks (about 1 inch) and place in dish.
  2. Add the sliced up bananas and sprinkle with the chocolate chips.
  3. In a large measuring cup, combine milk and vanilla.   Add butter and microwave until milk is hot enough to finish melting the butter.  Whisk and pour quickly over the bread (you want the butter to be fairly homogeneously distributed).
  4. Sprinkle with the sugar.
  5. Bake in a hot oven (about 180 but that depends on your oven) until the whole thing puffs up a bit and the edges of the bread pieces on top start to darken.
  6. Serve immediately topped with vanilla icecream.  (left overs can be warmed again, or eaten cold)

Upside down Tatin Cake

If you’re like me, fall means an apple picking day.  If you’re also like me, you get home and find that you’ve picked just enough to feed a family of twelve nothing but apples.  Every meal.  For a year.  (One year we came home and found that we had upwards of a 100kg of apples.   Lesson one, don’t take a large group of children with you 🙂 )

Annnnnnnny ways… The first step to preserve the apples is usually a vat of apple sauce.  Great, but there’s only so jars of apple sauce that you’ll actually consume on its own.   For the rest, you’ll need something else to do.

With raw apples, my favourite option is a tarte tatin.   It’s not as much of an option with apple sauce.   Instead, I make a cake tatin of sorts.

  1. Make a caramel (this is simply burnt sugar.   Put it in a pot with just enough water to dampen the sugar and then turn on the heat.   Don’t stir it or it will crystallise.) It’s ready when it’s a rich brown colour.  Watch out – once it starts darkening, it’ll burn in less than one minute.   Once it’s a nice brown, pour it into the bottom of the pan and allow to cool.   It should harden.
  • Tip: if you have kids, keep them out of the kitchen for this part of the process.  You’ll want to be very careful because the slightest spatter can cause very nasty burns.
  1. Once the caramel has cooled, spread a generous layer of apple sauce over the caramel.
  2. Finally, make a basic sponge cake batter.  The BBC offers a few recipes for this here.  You may want to add some cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger to the batter.
  3. Pour the batter over the apple sauce and bake the cake as per the recipe.
  4. When it is still warm, flip over onto the serving plate.   The liquid and heat should have made the caramel soak into the apples.  If there’s quite a bit of liquid, all to the better!  Pour it over the cake and it’ll soak into the sponge.
  5. Serve warm with a scoop of really good vanilla ice cream.

Orange Poppy Seed Cake

The secret to this (and pretty much any other cake) is to whip as much air as possible into the butter and sugar mixture.

  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 170g self-raising flour
  • 170g golden caster sugar
  • 50g chopped pistachios
  • 3 large eggs
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 50g poppy seeds
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 3 oranges
  1. In the mixer bowl, combine the eggs and caster sugar.    Whip on the highest setting until volume has at least doubled (for me, this was setting 10 on the kitchen aid mixer, for about 5 minutes).
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, the almonds, the zest of two of the oranges, and all  but a tablespoon of the poppy seed and pistachios.
  3. Gradually mix into the butter mixture.
  4. Add the juice of the two oranges.
  5. Pour into a greased loaf pan.    Cook at 180C until knife inserted into centre of cake comes out clean.
  6. Allow to cool.
  7. Mix the remaining poppy seeds, pistachios, and the zest of the remaining orange in a bowl and set aside.
  8. In a bowl, combine the icing sugar with just enough juice from the remaining orange to obtain a thick liquid icing.    Pour over the cooled cake.
  9. Sprinkle the zest/pistachio/poppy seed mix over the top.
  10. Enjoy 🙂

Sort of Tiramisu

Sorry for the lack of posts – we’ve been eating out a lot this past week.

Tonight though, we are dining in and I’m in the mood for something sweet to finish off… so:

  • 2 stale brioche, ripped into smallish pieces.
  • A double shot of Tia Maria (or whatever I’ll have handy when I get home).
  • A small cup of strong coffee.
  • A dusting of chocolate
  • Vanilla ice cream (softened) or mascarpone whipped with vanilla.

Mix the coffee and liquor in a bowl and add the brioche.

Once the brioche is saturated, spoon up some of the mixture into individual ramekins.   Layer on some of the icecream or mascarpone.  continue until you’ve used up the brioche, finish with a layer of the ice cream.

dust with chocolate.   Return to freezer for 10 minutes.

Serve.

Tarte aux framboises et chocolat blanc

I was going to serve just berries as dessert.
I’ve decided that I want something more romantic/special for tonight.

So….

I’ve upgraded fresh raspberries into a white chocolate and raspberry tart.

This took less than 10 minutes to prepare – because I always have cake cases in stock. If you live in Scotland, you can get them for two quid at your local farm shop (the one I go to is Dobbies at Braehead).

In a double boiler, I melted some white chocolate with the juice of half an orange and some finely chopped orange zest. I spread this on the cake base and then arranged the fresh berries. Et voilà. 🙂

White chocolate sauce

This is gorgeous with fresh berries.

  • 75g of white chocolate
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste or a generous splash of vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp creme fraiche

in a double boiler, melt the white chocolate.   Add the cream and vanilla.

Stir well.

Allow to cool and serve spooned over fresh fruit.