White Chocolate & Raspberry Cheesecake (No Bake)

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake - 2

Two weeks at my parents’ house in Italy and it feels like we were away for two months. Somewhere around the 15km mark outside the local town, time stands still and you slip into this blissful world where – although the days are packed with swimming and eating and chatting – nothing really happens and nobody else much matters. Looking out across the mountains from the edge of the garden there are a handful of houses in the distance, so small that they hardly look real, and at night the sky is a vast canvas of twinkling stars, all the more visible and beautiful for the lack of electric light. Continue reading

Tahini Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Tahini Chocolate Chunk Cookies - 1

London when it’s hot can be beautiful. Leafy green spaces, a sparkling River Thames, the sounds and smells of barbecues drifting across garden fences during long, light evenings. It can also be sticky and stifling and nigh on insufferable, especially if you’re stuck under an armpit on a tube without air conditioning. Or trying to sleep beneath a mop of sweaty but oh-so-adorable baby curls that your mother refuses to chop off (sorry Nino).   Continue reading

Malted Milk Chocolate Blondies

Malted Milk Chocolate Blondies - 1

On Saturday, I went out to dinner with girlfriends for the first time in months. Before having Nino I couldn’t comprehend parents who never went out, always assumed it was easy but – (not such a ) news flash – it’s not. There’s a reason why all those friends with kids smile wryly and forecast the end to your social life as soon as you tell them you’re pregnant. Being a parent is wonderful in more ways than can be imagined, but it can also be repetitive, tough and – unless you have a live in nanny, endless family or an even more endless supply of cash – full time. Add into the mix a not-so good sleeper, breastfeeding on demand and separation anxiety (both Nino’s and mine), and you’re talking stay-at-home central. Continue reading

Easter Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Easter Cake - 1

Making memories is a wonderful thing. Ever since we’ve had Nino, each time a celebration rolls round I get a little twinkle of excitement at the thought of how I can recreate the fond traditions of Luke and my childhoods. Summer holidays with sandy toes and sticky ice creams, unwrapping presents at Christmas, Mothers Day lunches and chocolaty Easters. For as long as I can remember, my mum would organize an Easter egg hunt in and around the house and garden, working so well on their hiding places that tiny, shiny eggs would appear in the most unexpected places months after the actual event. One year we wondered why she’d disappeared during a dinner party at our flat, only to discover on getting into bed those same tiny, shiny surprises hidden under our pillows, mattress and tucked into our pajamas.

Continue reading

Chewy Chocolate, Oat & Raisin Cookie Bars

One of the (many) things I love about having a little person in my life is the way he’s made me reappraise my relationship with people I don’t know. Sitting on the quieter side of the social spectrum and living in London where everyone (with a few exceptions) is happy to go about their daily lives without so much as a ‘good morning’, I’m not much one for speaking to strangers if I don’t have to. But it’s impossible not to wave and smile along with Nino’s uninhibited attempts to make friends with any and everyone. Over the past year I’ve found myself striking up conversations in the shops and playground or on the bus. And even the surliest of strangers find it hard not to crack a smile at his full bodied, double handed wave. It’s incredibly sweet to watch.  Continue reading

Millionaire’s Shortbread with Salty Peanuts

Peanut Millionaire's Shortbread - 3
Millionaire’s shortbread
is something of staple in my baking repertoire, second only to brownies, perhaps cookies, in the list of simple treats I’ll bake when called on to bring something sweet to a special occasion. Like brownies, I’ve got a favourite recipe (ok three, on rotation) but I’m not averse to a little tinkering here and there. These lovely little morsels were my contribution to a baby shower this weekend just gone, and although it’s hard to beat the classic, I may have to throw a handful of salty peanuts into every batch of millionaire’s shortbread I make from now on, they’re so damn delicious.  Continue reading

Chocolate Banana ‘Nice Cream’ with Blackberry Compote & Hazelnut Crunch (Vegan)

Chocolate Banana 'Nice Cream' - 5

Judging by all the gingerbread, peppermint, cranberry and brandy recipes that have been landing my inbox of late, this simple ice cream isn’t exactly on trend for this time of year. With no refined sugar, no dairy and an absence of alcohol, it’s possibly more suited to the New Year, New You party which rolls around with guilt-incuding speed just as you’re polishing off that Christmas selection box you found down the back of the sofa. But I’m posting it today because, despite its short ingredient list and surprising vegan credentials, this chocolate banana ‘nice cream’ tastes luxurious enough to serve alongside any more indulgent dessert as you celebrate the season.  Continue reading

Emiko Davies’ Pear & Chocolate Cake

pear-chocolate-cake-2

It’s been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster in the little loaf household of late. About ten days ago Nino started saying ‘mama’ in a very deliberate way, calling me back if I disappeared round a corner or snuggling in and saying it rather than the indiscriminate sound making we’ve been hearing a little longer. My heart is fit to burst and it’s literally the sweetest word I’ve ever heard, but at the same time this cognitive leap seems to have brought with it possibly the hardest behaviour we’ve seen to date. Our usually sunny little man has been grumbling and fussing, clinging round my ankles, waking multiple times each night and resisting sleep with a renewed and infuriating fervour for someone clearly so in need of it. Until you become a mum it’s impossible to understand how you could love one little person so deeply and completely, yet at times want to pop them in a padded room, pour yourself a stiff drink and sleep, uninterrupted, for a week.

Today our little sleep resister turns ten months old. I know this fussy phase will pass (until the next one, that is . . .) but am also wary of wishing a single day away. With less than two months of maternity leave left I’m trying to live in the moment and soak up each precious morsel of my baby, so in the spirit of celebration (and because my sleep deprived brain might forget if I don’t write it down), here’s what we’ve been particularly loving about you this month, sweet boy.   Continue reading

Devil’s Food Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

devils-food-chocolate-cake-with-vanilla-cream-cheese-frosting-1

A few days before our 20 week appointment when I was pregnant with Nino, I remember reading an article about things you should look out for. After entering into the (relative) safety of the second trimester, it’s easy to think that this second pregnancy scan is all about the gender reveal – a subject of divisive debate between the ‘surprise!’ camp and those who are desperate, indeed need to know – but your stenographer is looking for a lot more than a pair of balls as she swipes cold jelly over your ever-expanding belly. There’s the baby’s brain and spine, fingers and toes, stomach and kidneys, position in the womb and position of the placenta. And then, of course, there’s his (or her) heart.  Continue reading

Festive Chocolate Biscuit Cake with Cranberries, Pistachios & Ginger

festive-chocolate-biscuit-cake-with-cranberries-pistachios-ginger-4

Now that Halloween and Bonfire Night are out the way, I feel like I’m legitimately allowed to mention the C-word. I’m not normally one to plan the festivities too far in advance, but since a certain little person arrived in our lives I’ve been looking forward to his first Christmas and the magic it will bring. There’s a stocking embroidered with Nino’s name that I’m hoping will last a lifetime, his very first decoration for the tree (we have a tradition of getting a new bauble or item to hang every year), matching jumpers to wear, stories to read and a long list of presents to buy, even if he’s (inevitably) more interested in the the boxes they arrive in. And then of course – although I’m not allowing Nino refined sugar til he’s one (mean mummy) – there’s dessert to plan for the grown ups in attendance.  Continue reading