Raw Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cups

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (Summer 2017)

The heavenly combination of peanut butter and chocolate is always decadent, and the unprocessed versions of both ingredients are wonderfully nutritious, say Melissa Sharp and Lindsay Stark in Modern Baker: A New Way To Bake (Ebury Press, £26).  This is their take on the peanut butter cup – and they make fab individual desserts, too.

Makes 12 standard cups or 24 mini cups

For the Peanut Butter Base:-

200g peanut butter
180g pitted dates
100g oats
100g ground almonds
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tblsp coconut oil

For the chocolate topping:-

100g coconut oil
30g raw cacao powder
2 tbsp date syrup

Step One: Grease 2 x 12 hole mini-muffin trays or a 12-hole standard muffin try with a neutral flavoured oil, such as sunflower oil (not coconut oil as this will go solid and won’t prevent the mixture from sticking).

Step Two:  In a food processor, blend together all the peanut butter base ingredients until they come together in a smooth mass, with no lumps of date.

Step Three:  Divide the mixture evenly among the holes in the tray and press down firmly.  Place the tray in the freezer while you make the topping.

Step Four:  For the chocolate topping, place all the ingredients in a small pan and warm over a gentle heat until the coconut oil is melted.  The date syrup can sink to the bottom, so make sure that you stir the mixture well.

Step Five:  Pour the chocolate over the peanut butter mix and return the tray to the freezer for at least 1 hour.  These lovely cups keep really well in the freezer for up to a month, or in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.  Defrost for 1-2 hours in the fridge before eating.

Nutrition note:  Dates are rich in minerals, vitamins and fibre.  The humble peanut is often eclipsed these days by more ‘fashionable’ nuts, but it can punch its nutritional weight alongside all of them.

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Pancake Day

pancake daySo it’s Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day today.

My absolute favourite filling is Nutella, sliced banana and vanilla ice cream.    I just love how the warm pancakes melt the ice cream and softens the banana and it just turns into a gooey, chocolatey, yummy delight.  Photographic evidence to follow later.  🙂

What is your favourite topping / filling ?

 

The result …… they were delicious 🙂

photo

Meringue Yule log

The log is made from a spongy Pavlova-like meringue, rather than the usual sponge.  This allows you to make the log the day before, if desired.  Use leaf-shape or star cutters for the decoration.  You can also add soft fruit like raspberries (thawed, if frozen) or chopped marrons glacés to the filling.

White chocolate Yule logIngredients:

4 large free-range egg whites
120g (4oz) caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white vinegar
½ tsp vanilla extract
600ml (20 fl oz) double cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
4 tbsp lemon curd
200g (6 ½ oz) white chocolate, chopped

Serves:  8     Prep time:  30 mins, plus time to cool and decorate     Cook time:  30 mins
Cals per serving:  626     Fat:  48.5g

Step One:  Heat the oven to 150oC (gas mark 2).  Line a Swiss roll tin with non-stick baking paper.  Whisk the egg whites in a mixer until they form stiff peaks, then gradually add the caster sugar, beating until the mixture is stiff and glossy.  Beat in the cornflour, white vinegar and vanilla extract.  Transfer the meringue to the tin, spreading it evenly with a flat-bladed knife.

Step Two:  Bake for about 30 minutes, it should feel dry and springy when ready.

Step Three:  Remove from the oven and set aside for 1 minute only before turning out onto a sheet of baking or greaseproof paper lightly sprinkled with icing sugar.  Allow to cool.

Step Four:  Whip the cream and icing sugar until it forms soft peaks.  Spread the lemon curd thinly over the meringue and then spread with about half of the cream.  Use the greaseproof paper to roll the meringue up (from the short edge) into a log.  Place the log seam side down on a platter.  Spread the remaining cream over the outside of the log and refrigerate until ready to decorate.

Step Five:  Melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of very hot water (the bowl shouldn’t touch the water), stirring occasionally until smooth.

Step Six:  Spread the chocolate over a sheet of baking paper to a thickness of about 3mm (1/8 in).  Place on a tray and refrigerate until set.  Use a leaf or star cutter to cut shapes from the set white chocolate (you may have to return it to the fridge occasionally) and decorate the top of the log.  Dust lightly with icing sugar before serving.

Tip:  If making the meringue a day before, cover with cling film overnight.

Recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Winter Trifle

winter trifleIngredients: 

4 tbsp Grand Marnier
100g (3 ½ oz) dried cherries
100g (3 ½ oz) dried sultanas
250g (8oz) Jamaican ginger cake
600ml (20 fl oz) chilled custard
Toasted flaked almonds, to serve

For the Syllabub:

Grated zest of ½ lemon
2-3 tbsp caster sugar
100ml (3 ½ fl oz) sweet white wine
300ml (9 ½ fl oz) cream

Serves:  8    Prep time:  25 mins, plus refrigeration and standing time

Step One:  Soak the dried fruit in the alcohol for 6 hours or overnight.  Strain, reserving both the fruit and alcohol.  Cut the cut into slices 1 cm (½ in) thick and arrange a single layer over the base of a large glass trifle bowl.  Pour over the fruit and alcohol.  Pour the custard over the cake covering with cling film and chill for at least 3 hours.

Step Two:  To make the syllabub cream, mix together the lemon zest, sugar and wine and leave for 30 minutes.  Strain through a fine sieve into a large bowl, then add the cream and whip until the mixture just holds it shape.  Be careful not to over whip it.

Step Three: Spoon the cream over the trifle and return it to the fridge until you are ready to serve.  Just before serving, decorate with toasted almonds and silver dragees, if desired.

Recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Chocolate and salted caramel tart

Caramel TartIngredients – For the Crust:

250g (8oz) digestive biscuits
125g (4oz) butter, melted

Ingredients – For the Caramel:

225g (7oz) caster sugar
10g (3 ½ oz) chilled butter
100ml (3 ½ fl oz) double cream
1 heaped tsp Maldon sea salt

Ingredients – For the Topping:

100g (3 ½ oz) caster sugar
2 eggs
2 extra egg yolks
250g (8oz) dark chocolate
150g (5oz) butter

Ice Cream, to serve

Step One:  Heat oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).  Lightly grease a 23cm (9 in) deep loose-bottomed tart tin.  Blend the biscuits in a food processor until finely crushed.

Step Two:  Place the biscuit crumbs in a bowl, add the butter and mix well.  Press the biscuit mixture evenly into the greased tin and up the sides.  Chill the base in the fridge for 30 minutes or in the freezer for 10 minutes.  Remove the tart tin from the fridge, place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the base feels dry.  Set aside to cool.

Step Three:  To make the caramel, bring the sugar and 100ml (3 ½ fl oz) water to the boil in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Add the butter, return to the boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until the mixture is a toffee colour.  Pour in the cream and salt and boil for another 2-3 minutes until slightly thickened.  Allow to cool.

Step Four:  To make the chocolate topping, whisk the sugar, eggs and egg yolk for 4 minutes, or until thick and pale.  Gently melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (the bowl should not touch the water), leave to cool for a minute and then add to the sugar and egg mixture, whisking until smooth and glossy.

Step Five:  Spread the caramel over the cooled base and spoon over the chocolate mixture, spreading it evenly.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until it is almost set but still a bit wobbly.  Allow to cool in the tin.  Serve in thin slices with vanilla ice cream.

Tip: A food processor is the quickest way to crush the biscuits for the crust.  Alternatively, place the biscuits in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.

Recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Honey and Fig Semifreddo Cake

Honey and Fig SemifreddoRecipe Courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (Jan 2016) and taken from a book called Special Delivery by Annabel Crabb and Wendy Sharpe.

Serves:  8

Ingredients:  200g hazelnuts, or half hazelnuts and half almonds; 7 dried figs, hard stems snipped off, chopped; 3 good-quality dates, pitted and chopped; 2 tbsp coconut oil; 2 tbsp sesame seeds; honey and fresh figs, to decorate.

For the Semifreddo:  1 whole egg; 6 egg yolks; 150g (blue gum (eucalyptus) honey, or whatever substitute you can muster; 300ml whipping cream; 150g Greek-style yogurt

Step One:  Preheat the oven to 180oC and toast the nuts for 5-10 minutes, or until most of them look golden-brown.  Rub the skins off the hazelnuts by wrapping them in a tea towel and agitating furiously.

Step Two:  Place the cooled nuts in a food processor and pulse until finely crushed, but not completely ground – there should still be plenty of chunks left.  Tip the nuts into a bowl, then add the figs and dates, coconut oil and 1 teaspoon of water and pulse until the mixture is like sticky glue.  Return the nuts to the food processor, along with the sesame seeds, and pulse until it looks like gravel.

Step Three:  Take a loose-bottomed 23cm round tin and cut out a circle of baking paper to fit the base, then place the lined base on a large sheet of plastic wrap.  Lift up the plastic wrap and base then drop it back into your tin, so the base is lined with baking paper and the sides are lined with plastic wrap.  Press in the gluey nut mixture and freeze for at least half an hour.

Step Four:  For the Semifreddo, put the egg, egg yolks and honey in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  As the heat makes its way through, whisk until you have a frothy-textured sabayon – it should take about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.  Whip the cream to stiff peaks.

Step Five:  When the sabayon is cool, gently fold in the yogurt, then the whipped cream.  Pour over the base and freeze for at least 4 hours.  About half an hour before serving, transfer the cake to the fridge to soften a little.  Drizzle with honey and serve with wedges of fresh fig.

Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry Cream and Honeycomb

Chocolate mousseRecipe Courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (Jan 2016) and taken from a book called Special Delivery by Annabel Crabb and Wendy Sharpe.

This chocolate mousse is improved by adding raspberries and cream, with honeycomb shards for pure theatre.

Serves:  4

Ingredients:  120g chocolate, with at least 80g dark chocolate; 4 eggs, separated; 1 tbsp caster sugar.

Honeycomb Shards:  165g granulated sugar; 1 ½ tbsp runny honey; 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Raspberry Cream: 100ml double cream; ½ tsp vanilla paste (optional); 50g fresh or frozen raspberries

Step One:  First melt the chocolate, either in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water or gently in the microwave (on medium for bursts of 30 seconds).

Step Two:  Next, whisk the egg whites to firm peaks with a tiny pinch of salt, then slowly add the sugar and keep whisking until you have stiff peaks.

Step Three:  Lightly beat the egg yolks, then add to the slightly cooled chocolate and use a whisk to combine.  Gently fold in about a third of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture to loosen it, then fold in the rest.  Pour into a serving dish (or small glasses) and leave to set for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.

Step Four:  For the honeycomb shards, line a large tray with baking paper.  Combine the sugar, honey and 1 ½ tablespoons of water in a tall, heavy-based pan and heat until it registers 154oC (310oF) on a sugar thermometer.  This is called the ‘cracking stage’.  If you don’t have a thermometer, test by dropping a little of the syrup into a bowl of cold water and then fishing out the result: if it is still stretchy, keep cooking: if it ‘snaps’, it is ready.

Step Five:  Take the pan off the heat and sift in the bicarbonate of soda.  Be careful – the mixture is hot and it will foam and rise up the pan.  Stir with a wooden spoon until combined, then pour it onto the baking sheet, getting it as thin as you can and smoothing it out with a spatula.  Leave the honeycomb for at least 15 minutes to set.  Store in a cool, dry place – but not the fridge, or it will go sticky.

Step Six:  Just before serving, make the raspberry cream.  Whip the cream and vanilla to soft peaks.  Fold through the raspberries, crushing them a little as you go to give pretty red streaks, then spoon over the mousse.  Break honeycomb into shards and use to decorate.

Nectarine & Polenta Upside-Down Cake

This recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine – August 2015

Nectarine and Polenta upside down cakeThis cake, with an upside-down topping and moist, sandy texture, this charmingly retro cake is naturally gluten-free.  If you’re baking for someone who is sensitive to gluten, make sure to use gluten-free baking powder.

Serves:  6-8

Ingredients:  For the Sponge: 120g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing; 125g caster sugar; 2 eggs, lightly beaten; 75g ground almonds; 75g fine or ‘quick cook’ polenta; finely grated zest of 1 lemon; 1 tsp baking powder; pinch salt

For the Topping: 2 medium nectarines – or equal quantity of other stone fruit – skin on, stones removed; 75g light Muscovado sugar; juice of half a lemon

Step One: Preheat the oven to 190oC. Lightly grease a 20cm round cake tin with butter and line the bottom with baking parchment.  Generously grease the parchment with butter too.  It’s best not to use a loose-bottomed tin here, but if that’s all you have, tightly wrap a double layer of foil around the outside of the base to prevent juices escaping.

Step Two: Quarter the nectarines and cut them into thin slices.  Toss with the sugar and lemon juice, then arrange in a single layer, slightly overlapping, round the bottom of your tin.  Scrape any excess sugar syrup over the top.

Step Three: To make the sponge, cream butter and sugar in a bowl with a wooden spoon, or in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, a little at a time, beating well between each addition.  Fold in the almonds, polenta, baking powder, lemon zest and salt.

Step Four: Spoon the batter over the nectarines, smooth the surface with a spatula, then tap firmly on the work-surface to remove any bubbles.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, until risen and golden.

Step Five: Remove the cake from the oven, run a sharp knife around the edge, then leave to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The Ultimate Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut cream pieThis recipe is courtesy of Easy Living Magazine.

Serves:  6-8   –   Prep time:  35 mins plus time to chill filling   –   Cook time:  20 mins

Ingredients:  400g (13oz) Hobnob biscuits; 75-100g (2 ½ – 3 ½ oz) unsalted butter, melted; 500ml (16 fl oz) double cream; 50g (1 ¾ oz) icing sugar; ½ tsp vanilla extract; 1 shot (30ml / 1 fl oz) of Malibu liqueur (or more)

To Decorate: Soft shredded coconut, such as Baker’s Angel Flake (do not replace with dessicated coconut), toasted; Dark chocolate, melted; White chocolate, melted

Coconut Pastry Cream:  250ml (8 fl oz) coconut milk; 50ml (1 ¾ fl oz) coconut cream; 3 tblsp caster sugar; 2 egg yolks; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 1 tsp coconut extract; 2 ½ tblsp cornflour; 50g (1 ¾ oz) unsalted butter

  1. Heat the oven to 145oC (gas mark 1 ½ ).  Grease a 23cm (9in) pie dish.  To make the crust, crush the biscuits to fine crumbs.  Add the melted butter – the amount of butter you need varies.  Squeeze a bit of the mixture into your hand to make a ball.  The mixture should hold its shape, but also fall apart when touched slightly.  If it doesn’t hold its shape too well, add more biscuits to absorb the butter.
  2. Press the mixture into the pie dish, going all the way up the sides. Cover with a round of greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans to the top.  Bake in the hot oven for 12-20 minutes until the crust is firm and dry. Remove from the oven and let it cool.
  3. To make the Malibu whipped cream, combine the cream, icing sugar, vanilla extract and Malibu in a bowl and whisk to stiff peaks.  Spread a thin layer of the Malibu whipped cream over the base of the baked pie shell.  Spoon the coconut pastry cream (see below) into te pie and level with spatula. Dollop the remaining Malibu cream on top.  Sprinkle toasted shredded coconut over the top and drizzle with dark and white melted chocolate.  Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

To Make the Coconut Pastry Cream

  1. Put the coconut milk and cream and half the sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat and stir.  As soon as it comes to the boil, remove it from the heat and set aside.  Place the egg yolks, vanilla extract and coconut extract in a large, heatproof bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining sugar and the cornflour and mix thoroughly.  Add to the egg yolks and whisk thoroughly. While the milk mixture is still hot, whisk it into the egg mixture in the bowl.  Strain the mixture back into the saucepan, set over a medium-low heat and whisk continuously until it reaches a boil.  Strain the mixture again into a bowl and stir in the butter until melted and thoroughly combined.  Lay a sheet of cling film directly on the surface of the pastry cream, then let cool.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes before using.  When ready to use, whisk lightly to bring back to a semi-soft consistency.

Shredded Coconut:

Recipe taken from this book:

Passion Fruit and Mango Brulée

Although you’ll save even more time by using canned mango, peeling and cutting a fresh one is well worth the few extra minutes – the taste and texture is so much better.

Serves : 4  :   Prep : 6 mins  :   Cook : 4 mins  :  Cals per portion : 440

Ingredients: 1 large ripe mango; 2 x 200g tubs Greek yogurt; 2 passion fruit; 250g tub mascarpone cheese; 2 tbsp light Muscovado sugar

  • Cut flesh from mango. Put pieces into the base of four ramekin dishes.
  • Beat the Greek yogurt and the seeds and juice from the passion fruit into the mascarpone cheese to form a thick creamy mixture.
  • Spoon the yogurt mixture over the mango, then sprinkle the sugar over the top.
  • Grill until the sugar melts and forms a hard crispy caramel. Cool before serving.