Toasted Panettone & Nutella Sandwich with Cantuccini Cream


Toasted panettone, melting Nutella & crunchy, boozy cream

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse . . .’

Unless you happen to have left a little plate of treats out for Father Christmas, in which case said mouse is probably having a mince pie-fuelled field day as you sleep.

When I was little, we’d always leave a tray of treats out on Christmas Eve – homemade mince pies for Father Christmas, carrots for the reindeer and a snifter of brandy to help our festive friend on his way (or my Dad to sleep, the more cynical amongst you might suggest). The next morning my big brother and I would excitedly examine the crumb-specked plate, empty glass and convincingly nibbled carrots, taking them as evidence that Santa and his helpers had enjoyed our hospitality. Continue reading

Chestnut Meringue Cake


Crispy, chewy, creamy chestnut meringue cake

With Christmas just around the corner, thoughts are turning to festive food. Turkeys, geese and glistening hams have already been ordered, mincemeat made for perfect pies, salmon smoked, butter brandied and puddings laden with boozy fruit stored. In the last week or so there’s been a creeping chill in the air, and suddenly all this hearty winter fare feels just that little bit more tempting.

For most, a Christmas spread wouldn’t be complete without stuffing, and when I think of stuffing, chestnuts come to mind. Associated with warmth and winter, chestnuts are in their element when roasted over hot coals, the toasty smells wafting temptingly through the streets as vendors tout their treats to passers by. The Christmas Song, composed in 1946 and sung by Nat King Cole, is alternatively titled ‘Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire’ and conjures up all the cosily romantic images we so strongly associate with Christmas. There’s never been a better time to cook with these strong, sweet, shiny nuts.

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Chocolate Marquise with Mint Crème Anglaise


Chocolate marquise with a delicate mint crème anglaise

I can hardly begin to imagine a life without flour. Yes, it forms the basis of a lot of the food that I put in my mouth, but for me flour is so much more than that. It’s the foundation of baking, a hobby and passion I find therapeutic, relaxing, rewarding and escapist.  I love the process of rolling up my sleeves, dusting down the work surfaces, sifting and weighing, kneading and shaping, folding and finishing.

Flour is a staple ingredient in bread, of course, but so much more besides; think biscuits and brownies, pastry and cakes, pizza, pancakes and puddings, even quietly playing its part as a subtle addition to something as simple as a white sauce. It’s the ultimate easy ingredient; long-lasting, cheap and filling. Continue reading

Crème Brûlée with Pistachio Nut Butter & Pistachio Shortbread


Creamy crème brûlée with a shiny crackly crust

Dessert, for me, is all about decadence. While a main meal tends to provide sustenance in addition to satisfaction, pudding provides an opportunity for sheer indulgence. You’re hardly going to get your five-a-day from chocolate, cream, sugar or any combination thereof, but that’s not really the point. What it fails to do for your health, dessert doubles for your happiness.

And what could be more decadent than a dessert that requires its very own bit of kitchen equipment?  Continue reading

Profiteroles with hot chocolate peanut butter fudge sauce


Bite-sized cream puffs with molten peanut butter fudge sauce

I love watching cookery programmes. Whether it’s the jaunty Jamie Oliver cruising round Italy in his camper van and crusading against American obesity, a group of stressed out contestants in the latest series of Masterchef, or simply a boozed up Keith Floyd making friends with the locals, there’s just something about food and TV that makes for a great evening’s entertainment. This year I’ve become slightly obsessed with the BBC’s Great British Bake Off.

I didn’t watch it last year, but am a big fan of crowned king of cake The Boy Who Bakes, and an avid reader of the recipes that both he, and his fellow finalist The Pink Whisk, post on their respective blogs. In last night’s episode, five female quarter finalists battled it out to create beautiful baked cheesecakes, perfectly rolled roulades and towers of croquembouche; a pastry traditionally served at French weddings and celebrations consisting of hundreds of crispy choux buns held together with hardened sugar.

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Butterscotch Pecan Ice Cream Tartufi


Creamy butterscotch pecan ice cream in a smooth chocolate shell

Cooking, for me, is all about memories; indulging in old ones and creating new ones. Looking back over previous posts, you’ll notice that the vast majority include the lines ‘When I was little’ or ‘I’ve always wanted to recreate’, and I think this sentiment is somewhat universal. Much of our lives can be measured in the edible; from celebratory meals and birthday cakes, to the comforting smell of a Sunday roast, the zing of an exotic new spice or a single taste which transports you instantly to a certain time or place.

When I was given an ice cream maker for my birthday, there were certain flavours I knew I had to make. Rich chocolate and vanilla – my all-time favourite childhood combination – velvet smooth and dripping from a giant cone; milky straciatella, packed with fragile shards of bittersweet chocolate; nutty gianduja, a slightly more sophisticated take on Nutella, and mint choc chip – for me the flavour of France – piled high in a sundae glass and topped with delicate clouds of crème chantilly. Continue reading

Little Black Dress Chocolate Cake

A simple, incredible chocolate cake is like a little black dress; everyone should have one in their culinary wardrobe. So says Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall of River Cafe and Cottage fame. I’m not sure about Hugh’s taste in in evening wear, but his ‘Easy rich chocolate cake’ from River Cottage Everyday is definitely the kind of staple recipe every girl should have up her sleeve. Rich, moist and velvety, this is an intense chocoholic hit, and the perfect dessert to rustle up for any occasion.


I made this for a group of friends for Sunday lunch and served it with a wickedly indulgent thick whiskey cream . . . Sadly I don’t have any photos of this- by the time I had my camera out the whole bowl had been wolfed.

Warning *excess consumption of said little black cake may result in inability to fit into your favourite little black dress*

Easy rich chocolate cake (from River Cottage Everyday)
Serves 10

250g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
250g unsalted butter, cubed
4 eggs, whites and yolks separated
100g caster sugar
100g soft brown or muscovado sugar
50g plain flour
50g ground almonds

Grease and line a 23cm springform cake tin and preheat the oven to 170 degrees C/Gas Mark 3.

Melt butter and chocolate together and leave to cool.


Meanwhile whisk together the egg yolks and sugar til well combined., then add the cooled chocolate mixture. Combine the flour and almonds and fold these in, too.


In  separate bowl, whisk the egg whites til they hold firm peaks. Stir  large spoonful of egg white into the chocolate mixture to loosen it, then carefully fold in the rest of the whites, taking care to keep in as much air as possible. Use  lrge metal spoon – this will keep the cake light and velvety.


Pour the mixture into the tin and bake in the preheated oven for approx. 30 mins until just set. I checked mine after 25 and suggest you do the same. It should still be slightly wobbly in the centre – this will then set into a sticky, fudgy chocolate dream once cooled. Leave at least 15 mins before releasing from the tin and serving with boozy whiskey cream (recipe below).


Whiskey cream

200ml thick whipping cream
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
Good slug of your favourite whiskey

Whip cream, then stir in sugar and whiskey, adjusting measures to taste. Taste again. One more spoon. . . And serve.