Slimming World friendly Syn free “Ice Cream ” Cookie Sandwiches

A few weeks ago my five year old saw ice cream cookie sandwiches being made on Food Network and nagged me to make them ever since. So, one rainy half term day last week we made some, and they looked … Continue reading

Christmas Pudding Cheesecake

Christmas and cheesecake; two of my most favourite things, so imagine my delight when I first tasted this culinary marvel last year. Probably the most iconic Christmas sweet combined with one of the most versatile desserts I can think of and I knew I wanted to create my own version for this years festivities. Very rich, very decadent and highly calorific this is not an every day dessert, but hey, it’s Christmas so surely we’re all allowed to indulge? This makes a huge cake which should easily serve 16-18. 

Firstly cook a standard sized Christmas pudding accord to the instructions on the packet. Once cooked, turn it out and break it up into little pieces allowing it to cool completely.

Whilst the pudding is cooling, make a start on the cheesecake by melting 100g butter and mixing it into 300g crushed ginger biscuits mixed with 1 tsp of ground cinnamon.  Press into the bottom of a large springform tin and put in the fridge to chill while you make the cheesecake mixture.

Whisk together 300ml creme fraiche, 500 ml Double cream, 100ml Baileys (you can omit this if you want, just replace with another 100ml of cream), 400g full fat cream cheese and 1 tsp vanilla bean paste until well combined and nice and thick. Fold in the cooled christmas pudding (making sure it is completely cold otherwise it’ll melt the cheesecake mixture) and spread on top of the ginger biscuit base.  

Chill overnight, or freeze for use at a later date.  Decorate with a spring of holly and serve with pouring cream. Delicious!

Autumnal Eve’s Pudding with Spiced Toffee Sauce 

I can hardly believe almost six months have passed since my last post. Summer came and went in a whirl and here we are enjoying some of the best autumn weather we’ve had for a few years. Crisp mornings, crunchy leaves underfoot and that rich, low sunshine we only get this time off year. Perfect for hearty warming comfort food and this twist on Eve’s pudding certainly fits the bill. A total mash up between three of my favourite flavours, apples, pumpkin spice and toffee, you’ll have to have some pretty impressive willpower to resist seconds of this indulgent treat. 
Ingredients for the pudding:

3 large bramley apples, peeled cored and finely diced 

350g butternut squash, peeled and chopped

150ml vegetable oil

2 large eggs

250g soft light brown sugar

180g self raising flour

1 tsp bi-carb soda

Pumpkin spice mix made by mixing 3 tbsp ground cinnamon, 1 tbsp ground ginger, 1 whole grated nutmeg and half a tsp ground cloves. 

For the toffee sauce:

250g butter

250g light brown sugar

400ml double cream 

2tsp pumpkin spice mix

Method:

Put the squash in a bowl with a splash or two of water. Cover with cling film and microwave on high for 5 minutes. 

While it’s cooking grease a large oven safe dish and put the apples in the bottom. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of the spice mix. 

Whisk the eggs and sugar together until they are the same consistency of a thick milkshake. By now the butternut squash should be tender. Put it in a blender with the oil and whizz until you have a smooth puree. I used my nutribullet which works a treat. 

Fold the flour and bi-carb along with 1 rounded tablespoon of the spice mix into the eggy milkshake before gently folding through the butternut puree. 

Pour the mixture on top of the apples and bake at 160oC (fan) for approximately 50 minutes until a skewer comes out of the cake clean.

To make the sauce, melt the butter, sugar and spice mix together until totally combined then pour in the cream stiring constantly. 

Serve with custard and the toffee sauce! Divine! 

Ginger and Fennel Syrup

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A couple of weeks ago my friend, and fellow blogger Sam (from Me and my Second Self), and I, had a little jaunt out to Silverdale to do a recce on a campsite we’re thinking about booking for a church camping trip in the spring.

We chose the wettest, windiest day of the year to do this. It could not have been wetter!H

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Here we are soaked to the bone, dripping hair plastered on our faces and waterproof jackets anhilated…

So, after we’d succumbed to the wrath of the Great British weather, we called in at the Wolfhouse Kitchen for a spot of lunch, and to warm up and dry out. The food there is fantastic and I really couldn’t fault my celeriac rosti with wilted greens, poached duck egg, chilli and peanuts. It was a taste sensation. Sam and I both enjoyed a ginger and fennel hot chocolate too. I’d never experienced ginger, fennel and chocolate together before but the flavours really work. It inspired me to have a go at making my own ginger and fennel syrup and I finally got around to doing it today.

I’ve made a large batch with the intention of giving it away as Christmas presents, so, if you want to, quarter the recipe to give a smaller batch. I used:
1200g sugar
800ml water
A large chunk of ginger root
4 tablespoons fennel seed
1 tablespoon of ground ginger

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Scrub the ginger (but there’s no need to peel) and slice thinly. Put the fennel in a dry pan and toast lightly until you get a whiff of that distinctive aroma. Bash the seeds up a bit with a mortar and pestle to realease the flavour, but don’t grind them to a powder.

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Put all the ingredients in a large pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for about ten minutes until the syrup starts to thicken. Your kitchen will smell divine!

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While the syrup is thickening sterilise a large jar or bottle. I use my daughter’s old bottle steriliser to do this, but there are various methods, just have a look online if you’re unsure. Poor into the jar/bottle, seal and leave to cool.

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Once cooled I opened the jar and strained the ginger slices and fennel seeds out, re-boiled the syrup and re-sterilsed the jar before decanting the syrup back into the freshly sterilised jar. At this point you could decant into smaller bottles (which is what I would have done had I been organised enough to buy some!).

You can use this syrup however you wish. The initial distinctive aniseed flavour of the fennel, is followed by deep warming ginger tones and it works well as a cordial, over ice cream, to add a wintery touch to a fruit salad, in coffee, or best of all in a hot cocoa, served with whipped cream and a sprinkling of ground fennel, ginger and cocoa.

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Caramel biscuit, chocolate and peanut butter no bake tray bake!

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Oooh I love a good tray bake, especially when it’s a minimal fuss, no bake, tray bake. The amalgamation of caramel, chocolate and peanut is a heavenly flavour sensation, and not to mention a reliable crowd pleaser.

This recipe makes quite a large batch (these were for church), so by all means halve the quantities if you want,  or alternatively freeze any leftovers (if you can resist the urge to hide in a dark corner and demolish them).

I whizzed up two 250g packs of Lotus Biscoff biscuits in a blender with 2 tablespoons of icing sugar, before adding in dollops of crunchy peanut butter. When the mixture starts to clump together you’ve added enough. Press these sticky crumbs into a shallow tray (I think mine was probably about 12″ by 8″). Now melt 300g milk chocolate in a bain-marie, adding in a cup of Smooth Lotus Biscoff spread. Stir until it melts and pour over the biscuit base. Now melt a couple of additional tablespoons of the biscuit spread and drizzle over the chocolate topping. Use a skewer to unleash your artistic talents and make swirly patterns on top. Leave to set in the fridge for a few hours before slicing into fingers or squares. Delicious!

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If you prefer a more uniform pattern on the top pipe little blobs of the melted biscuit spread onto the chocolate in straight rows and then drag a skewer through the centre of each blob in the row to create perfect little hearts. Here’s a pic from another test bake I made a while ago to demonstrate the technique.

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Caramelised doughnut peach

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I was craving something sweet after lunch today, but didn’t want to fall off the wagon too catastrophically. So, what do you do when a piece of fruit won’t cut it? Caramelise it and serve over Greek yoghurt. This is so simple it doesn’t warrant the title of recipe; merely a method for serving fruit is more fitting.

Simply slice a doughnut peach (or pretty much any fruit you fancy), add to a dry, non stick, searing hot frying pan for a few minutes tossing frequently, until the natural sugars start to caramelise and the fruit takes on some colour. Now, for the super health conscious you could serve it as it is over yoghurt and it would be fine, however, adding a little knob of butter to the hot pan means the residual natural fruit sugars are picked up and you’ll be left with a tiny amount of delicious buttery caramel to elevate your pudding to a new high. Spoon over some yoghurt, drizzle over the caramel and sprinkle with fresh mint. Yum!

Nutella cheesecake

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If you’re looking for a decadent yet simple to make dessert this is where it’s at.

For the base you’ll need:
A packet of chocolate digestives (I think my pack was 300g)
Approx 100g salted butter melted
100g chocolate chips (optional)

Topping:
500g mascapone
400g Nutella
3 tablespoonfuls of icing sugar
Chopped hazelnuts or chocolate to decorate.

Crush the biscuits, add in the butter and mix.  Add the chocolate chips if using and press the mixture into the base of a springform tin. Chill in the fridge while you make the topping.

Mix all the topping ingredients together until smooth and well combined and spread over the base.  Sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts or chocolate and chill overnight. Best served straight from the fridge. Enjoy!

If you liked this you might like this very indulgent chocolate and peanut butter cheesecake.

Fuss free Banoffee Pie

This is probably the easiest, quickest but most liked dessert recipe in my repertoire. If you don’t try it, you’re definitely missing out!

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300g ginger nuts, a large knob of salted  butter, a can of condensed caramel, 3 or 4 bananas, a splash of lemon juice and chocolate curls/smashed up Scottish Tablet to decorate, and you’ve got a very indulgent and very tasty dessert.

Blitz the biscuits in a processor and slowly drizzle in the melted butter.  I didn’t actually weigh mine,  but you want it the consistency of wet sand.  It needs to be able to stick together and contain all that sticky caramel. Press it into a springform tin and push it up about an inch and a half up the sides.

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Cover the base with a layer or sliced bananas and drizzle over a little lemon juice to offset the sweetness slightly.

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Empty the caramel into a bowl and beat with a spoon to loosen it to a pourable (I’m not sure that’s even a word!) consistency. Drizzle over the bananas.

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Lightly whip the cream, spread it over the caramel and sprinkle with crushed Scottish Tablet and dark chocolate curls. To make chocolate curls lay a slab of chocolate on a worktop, smooth side facing up, and drag a large sharp knife firmly down it holding the tip of the blade as well as the handle.

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Leave to chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before carefully removing the tin to reveal your masterpiece. Enjoy as is… This certainly doesn’t need any accompaniments.
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Decadent chocolate caramel brownies

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This week I had half a can of delicious condensed caramel sitting in the fridge after making mini banoffee pies last weekend. I wanted some inspiration for using up the remaining and came across this delicious recipe from Carnation. It was a huge hit with our Life Group on Wednesday night, so much so I decided to make a double batch for Church and our monthly Contact the Elderly tea party tomorrow. I doubt we’ll have leftovers. They are truly divine and super easy to make.  If you’re doubling the batch you’ll need a bigger pan and of course you’ll need to lengthen the cooking time. Mine took about 55 minutes at 180oC.

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Goji Berry, apricot and coconut oil flapjacks

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There’s something comforting about freshly baked flapjack. The smell, the warmth, the way it cries out to be paired with a steaming cup of Earl Grey. It reminds me of cold Sunday afternoons spent snuggled under patchwork blankets. Homely, comforting, simple.

This recipe can be adapted to suit your tastes, but I used:

350g oats
125g salted butter
125g unrefined organic coconut oil
200g dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons golden syrup
30g dried goji berries
150g chopped up soft dried apricots
A couple of tablespoons of pressed apple juice to soak the goji berries in.
Half a teaspoon of cinnamon
A few grates of a while nutmeg.

Soak the goji berries in the apple juice for ten minutes.

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In a pan melt the butter, sugar, coconut oil, and syrup with the cinnamon and nutmeg, before adding in the drained goji berries, apricot pieces and oats.  Give it all a really good mix before pressing into a greased baking tin.

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I like to use a round springform tin so I can cut it into wedges rather than squares.

Bake for around 40-45 mins at 160oC. Leave to cool for 15 minutes before slicing. Enjoy with a cup of your favourite tea and good friends.

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