Fig, Dark Chocolate & Almond Flapjacks

 

fig-dark-chocolate-almond-flapjacks-2

When we were first sent home from hospital with Nino I was tasked by the staff with fattening him up before his open heart surgery. There’s something statistically significant about a baby weighing over 5kg in terms of operation survival rates and, although we weren’t aware of it at the time, Nino’s abnormally complicated network of coronary arteries meant it was even more important that he pack on the pounds. In those early days before his heart was re-plumbed, helpless to fix him myself, food was truly my love language to our little boy. Continue reading

Healthy ‘Snickers’ Crisp Rice Slice

Healthy 'Snickers' Crisp Rice Slice - 3

As I sit here writing, Nino is snuggled across my chest in his baby sling, pinky finger pointed and forehead slightly furrowed. Although he’ll now grace us with a gummy mega watt smile when we’re particularly entertaining of a morning, his everyday expressions tend towards the sterner, more concerned. These old man mannerisms seem fairly typical of newborn babies, but I also think there’s a contemplative personality growing behind those long-lashed eyes. Continue reading

Blackberry + Apple Crumble Bars

Blackberry Apple Crumble Bar

I’m blaming the succession* of crumble recipes on this blog for the arrival of autumn and a strong urge to cosy up warm with comfort food. The dish itself does the job for a dinner party or even as a single serving. However, I’m powerless to resist topping a classic crumble with a scoop of ice cream, so in the interests of some semblance of health, I’ve been making these ‘breakfast’ style baked goods (and then eating them for dessert).

*Succession meaning two in as many weeks which, when you live with one other person, is a fair amount of crumbly goods to be getting through. Continue reading

Peanut Butter & Blueberry Jam Blondies

Peanut Butter & Blueberry Jam Blondies
The last few weeks have seen a bit of a break from baking. Maybe it’s the warmer weather (she says, on a day when it’s pouring down with rain), the summer holiday season or the inevitable consequence of over a year of cookbook testing, writing, eating and promoting. There have been sweet treats, of course, scoops of ice cream I haven’t made myself (on holiday in Italy, it’s allowed), shop bought cantuccini (see previous bracket) and all the fresh fruit that the season can bring. There was a pistachio cake for my birthday a few weeks back which I filled with a pillow of whipped cream and fresh raspberries, but it disappeared before I got the chance to take any photos, and sometimes (always) living in the moment is more important than snapping it for posterity. Continue reading

Pumpkin Pecan Shortbread Squares

Pumpkin pecan shortbread squares

On Friday morning I opened my email to read this post. Emma, a friend in real life and one of my favourite baking bloggers, has decided not to post any new recipes on Poires au Chocolat while she gets to grips with her graduate medicine course. Rather than leave the blog completely static, she’ll be revisiting recipes on occasion, treating the blog something like an ever-evolving book, but I’m still sad that we won’t be seeing many (any) new recipes for the foreseeable future. Continue reading

Caramelized White Chocolate Brownies

Caramelized White Chocolate Brownies

Squidgy chocolate brownies packed with caramelized white chocolate

The simple magic of an oven will never cease to amaze me.

Subjected to its heat, pudgy rounds of dough become crusty loaves, liquid batter rises into golden-crowned cakes, pastry puffs, biscuits bake and incredible aromas escape around the edges of its door.

Normally baking requires some sort of skill, an understanding of the alchemy of ingredients and an ability to weigh, whisk, beat and blend. Butter, sugar and flour are combined, flavours and textures far greater than the sum of their parts created. Whether an amateur cook or a professional chef, it’s satisfying to know that baking is both a science and an art. Continue reading

Salty Bourbon Pecan Squares

blondies

Squidgy, chewy squares with added crunch

When I was younger, owning a drinks cabinet felt like the sort of thing I’d do when I became ‘a proper grown up’. Rather than purchases for a specific purpose, wine bought with only immediate consumption in mind or the bottle of booze that inevitably gets polished off at a house party – if only by some random stingy student that a friend of a friend invited – I loved the idea of a proper wine cellar and being able to choose from my very own wide selection of spirits.

Continue reading

Millionaire’s shortbread with maldon sea salt

salted_millionaire's_shortbread

Millionaire’s shortbread with flakes of sea salt

A couple of weeks ago one of our friends managed to shatter his leg jumping off a wall.

Ouch.

This weekend just gone we went up to visit, and I wanted to bake something suitably delicious to take his mind off things (this littleloaf isn’t really a bunch of grapes kind of girl). Sugar is a good remedy for trauma – hot sweet tea always seems to be offered up to people in shock – so maybe it was some kind of subconscious association which directed me to this restorative, tooth-itchingly sweet recipe. That, or the fact that the ‘short’ from which ”shortbread’ takes its name has been used to describe a ‘friable, brittle, crumbling texture’ since medieval times . . .

Continue reading

Crema catalana, turrón and a recipe for blondies

blondie_recipe_spanish

Blondies with turron

Spain isn’t a country renowned for its desserts. On a recent trip to Barcelona, the majority of our sweet consumption was split between flaky treats from the local pastelerías at breakfast time and a requisite daily ice cream; justified as compulsory thermostat control on the sweltering beach or busy streets. Maybe the rest of the food and drink on offer is just too good; after wedges of tortilla, melting plates of jamón, rich, creamy croquetas and raisin scented sherry, dessert might well be the last thing on your mind.

Continue reading

Lucky Tickets: A review of Ferran Adrià’s Tickets and 41°, Barcelona

tickets_outside

The hottest Tickets in town . . .

Barcelona is a foodie haven. Sandwiched between the mountains and the Mediterranean, its menus combine the very best of land and sea; from tiny mouthfuls of tapas to huge plates of paella, there’s enough to keep even the greediest of gastronomes happy. Variety is the order of the day, and spontaneity a must – there’s nothing more fun than diving into a random bar for a plate of pinxtos and cheap copa of cava.

Continue reading