Chocolate & Hazelnut Ice Cream Bombes

Chocolate & Hazelnut Ice Cream Bombe

Every family has a set of favourite stories in rotation, the kind you tell at social gatherings, on meeting new people or simply to each other: a kind of comfortable, if slightly repetitive, recognition of knowing each other inside out and of memories fondly shared.

When she’s feeling sentimental, my Mum loves to tell stories from our childhood holidays in Italy. The tale of choice for my brother involves a restaurant laid out for a wedding banquet, an excitable two-year-old boy, a table cloth corner just a little too enticing not to pull and . . . well, you can probably guess the rest (except, perhaps, the part where the restaurant owners forgave the devastating mess, whisked my brother into the kitchen and onto the counter, then proceeded to feed him as my mortified mother finished up her meal. God bless the Italians). Continue reading

Maple Chocolate Pots with Olive Oil Thyme Crumble

Chocolate Pots

Hands up if you’re the person who always orders the chocolate option for dessert in a restaurant?

Until recently, that was me. In fact I’d be lying if I said that I wouldn’t seriously consider something chocolate based if you took me out for dinner tomorrow. But as I’ve got older, I’ve started to appreciate other flavours on my plate, subtle sweetness, spice and seasonal ingredients like this simple honey almond cake with strawberries. Continue reading

Brown Butter Banana Bread Squares

Chocolate Banana Bread Squares

On the eve of the French revolution, Marie Antoinette is said to have responded to claims that there wasn’t enough bread to feed the French people with the now infamous phrase, ‘Let them eat cake’. Historians have since refuted this, suggesting variously that it was completely made up, the much maligned queen was misquoted, or that something may have been lost in translation from the French into English.

Whichever way you like to look at it, there’s definitely some sort of confusion between bread and cake. Continue reading

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