Coffee Ice Cream Profiteroles with Hot Chocolate Caramel

Coffee Ice Cream Profiteroles with Hot Chocolate Caramel Sauce

Coffee ice cream, crisp choux pastry & hot chocolate caramel

Coffee ice cream will always make me think of the Caribbean.

I’m aware of how horribly pretentious that sounds, but bear with me. I’m pretty sure there’s a blog-worthy story hidden somewhere within that statement.

When I was about eleven, my parents took us on holiday to the Cayman Islands. My Dad spent part of his childhood living in Jamaica and still has some family on the islands. This holiday was the perfect opportunity to introduce us to a few distant relatives, as well as a wonderful excuse for a serious dose of sun, sea and sand.
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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

Double Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream

Double Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream

Rich milk chocolate ice cream with chewy chocolate cookie chunks

Food bloggers – in fact most people in the food world in general – tend towards exaggeration.

Every day we’re presented with the smoothest, creamiest ice cream, the crumbliest bars, unbeatable cookies and incredible bread, each recipe a must-make, a life-changer and better than anything that’s ever been eaten before.

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Malteser Macarons

Malteser Macarons

Malty macarons filled with milk chocolate ganache & chopped maltesers

There’s such a simple, primal pleasure that comes from playing with food or eating it with your fingers.

Most of the time (in the Western world at least, perhaps discounting fast food and TV dinners)we need a knife and fork, eat from a plate and at a dinner table, restricted either by the type of food or our understanding of what is acceptable in a social situation. Continue reading

Squidgy Chocolate & Pistachio Squares

Chocolate Pistachio Squares

Squidgy little squares of nutty chocolate goodness

Before the age of about fifteen, I don’t think I’d ever made buttercream icing.

I’d eaten it, of course, at friends’ houses and birthday parties, spread over simple sponge cakes and smothered between the rounds of the ubiquitous caterpillar cake (one made an appearance at a 28th birthday we recently  attended, clearly caterpillar cake will never go out of fashion in some circles), but I’m pretty sure I’d never actually made my own buttercream at home.
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Chocolate Peanut Butter Fondants

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fondants - thelittleloaf

Rich, chocolaty & packed with peanut butter flavour

Eight years ago last Friday, I met my husband-to-be. The next day I baked him brownies.

Back then, the thought of writing a food blog hadn’t even entered my head. The online world was a very different place: basic WordPress was only just up and running, Facebook in its infancy and YouTube launched that year. Blogs like Delicious Days and Seven Spoons might have just got started, but the idea of writing about food on the internet was still just the seed of an idea in the minds of Joy the Baker, Deb Perelman and numerous other bloggers we know and love today. Continue reading

Chocolate Espresso Mousse Pots

Chocolate Espresso Mousse Shots / thelittleloaf

Little chocolate pots topped with crunchy cocoa nibs & whipped cream

Mention the words ‘chocolate’ and ‘mousse’ and three distinct childhood memories immediately spring to my mind.

First up is that of eating little plastic pots of the stuff after the occasional mid-week meal. Nowadays I’m pretty scornful of these foamy excuses for mousses (think ingredients including reduced fat cocoa, skimmed milk, gelatine and some sort of starch), but then they were something of a childhood treat and certainly a step up from Petit Filous in the excitement stakes (chocolate; not yoghurt!). I can clearly remember the satisfying ritual of peeling back and licking the lid, scraping out each mouthful with a tiny teaspoon and trying to make my mousse last longer than my brother’s without him trying to steal any as I ate. Continue reading

Chocolate Cherry Frangipane Tarts

Chocolate Tarts

Chocolate almond pastry, chocolate frangipane & sweet, fresh cherries

How many times have you wanted to bake something only to be thwarted by a store cupboard shortage or lack of ingredients in your local shop?

This post is less of a recipe than a series of ideas and suggestions around a theme. While making drunken plum tart several times over Christmas, I fell more than a little in love with frangipane and have been looking for other ways to use it ever since. Previously I’d associated frangipane with the sickly sweet almond filling you often find in croissants – a heavier, altogether different beast from the light, sweet simplicity of the version I made at home. With a new-found favourite and a new technique added to my baking repertoire, I was keen to get experimenting.
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Chocolate Pistachio Éclairs

Chocolate Pistachio Éclairs

Crisp choux pastry, glossy ganache, pistachio cream

This weekend we celebrated Carnivorous Fiancé’s 28th birthday.

On Friday, we went for food with friends. There were burgers, booze and a butterscotch bourbon birthday cake for 16, made at the birthday boy’s request. Iced and eaten after dark, the cake was never going to make it on the blog, but with no shortage of sweet treats in the little loaf household this weekend, I’ve got a (possibly even better) recipe to share with you today.
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Best of 2012 | thelittleloaf

bourke_street_bakery_croissants

A pile of beautiful, buttery croissants

With just a few hours left until the new year, there’s little left to say other than thank you.

Thank you for your comments and support, for continuing to be interested in what I have to say, for reading and sharing my recipes and for sending me your amazing pictures when you make them.

Rather than posting anything new today, I’ve included a round up of your five favourite (by page views) little loaf recipes from the past year, followed by five of mine.

2012 has been incredible. Here’s to an even more amazing 2013. Continue reading