Squidgy chocolate cake with creamy peanut butter frosting
David Lebovitz once said that the best thing about being a pastry chef is that your kitchen colleagues have to be nice to you 364 days a year. Why? Because on the 365th they want you to bake them a birthday cake. While I’m no pastry chef and have never worked in a commercial kitchen, when it comes to baking cakes for friends, I know exactly where he’s coming from.
One of the things I love most about baking is being able to share what I make with those around me. A cake can be a talking point, a celebration in itself and (for me anyway) often a better way of expressing love for the person in question than any other present might be. Birthday cakes are particularly personal, the one opportunity each year to take centre stage, to call the shots, to cut yourself the biggest slice, eat seconds and thirds and lick off extra icing if you should so choose (not, of course, that I’d ever do something like that . . .) Continue reading
Peanut butter and jam. A classic combination of salty and sweet, crunchy and smooth, fruit and nut. A mixture which shouldn’t really work, but somehow really does. Continue reading
Living with just one other person has a lot of positives. At a stage where we no longer want to live in a university style madhouse but a few years before the patter of tiny feet turn our household into another kind of chaos, we’ve found a very happy lifestyle in our little flat for two. Whether it’s wandering naked between bathroom and bedroom or filling the fridge with whatever we want without fear of someone else eating it, the space is ours to do as we please. Continue reading
Chocolate mousse. Two words, a hundred variations, a thousand different expectations.
Ever since I made this favourite little dessert on holiday in Italy, I’ve wanted to write about it on the blog. My usual recipe for chocolate mousse is simplicity itself, rich and elegant, steeped in childhood memories and consisting of just two ingredients: chocolate and eggs. It’s the ultimate store cupboard recipe (don’t tell me you’ve not got chocolate on your shelves, I don’t believe you), and involves minimum effort for maximum impact, making it an easy go-to recipe to have in your repertoire.
Perhaps a little too easy. Continue reading
Silky milk chocolate coated peanut butter flapjacks
How many recipes have you made in your lifetime? How many more do you think you might still? And just how many are left languishing inside eagerly acquired cookbooks, on pages torn from magazines, on bookmark bars and Pinterest boards, never to see the light of day as you return to tried, tested and trusted recipes you’ve always enjoyed?
According to a poll commissioned by the Good Food Channel last year, the average British woman can cook just seven meals from scratch, with eighty percent admitting to churning out the same thing over and again, and only two percent turning to cookbooks or online for a source of inspiration. I don’t know about you, but as a member of that minority percentage, my problem is less how to get out of a cooking rut and more deciding what to make next from the ever-growing reams of recipe ideas accumulating in print, online and in my head. Continue reading
Dark chocolate cups encasing rich peanut ice cream & studded with peanut butter pieces
If I ask you to describe your most memorable ice cream experience, what immediately springs to mind?
To start off, you might want to put it in context – a European holiday, the lazy heat of a summer’s afternoon, a long queue snaking down the street as you wait patiently for the ice cream van or a stolen after-school treat, still solid from the freezer and stuck to its flimsy paper packaging.
Flavour is likely to come next on the agenda. You might be a plain vanilla kind of person, a die-hard chocoholic, or someone with a preference for all things fruity. The ice cream in question might be smooth and simple, or packed with bits – chocolate, nuts, flakes of this, flecks of that and swirls of sticky sauce. Continue reading
‘Is it true…blondes have more fun?’
Since this provocative line to promote Clairol home hair colour was penned by US ad exec Shirley Polykoff back in the 1950s, the idea that blondes have a better time has become part of global consciousness. Blonde = bubbly, fun and frivolous. Brunette = natural, sophisticated but sensible. And every time a celebrity changes the colour of their hair the same old research – most likely commissioned by a hair dye company – is wheeled out as the age old debate continues.
Which do you prefer? Continue reading
Sweet, salty and scrumptious – homemade Snickers ice cream bars
For some reason, people are always incredibly impressed when you present them with home made ice cream. I’ve found the same with bread, and think perhaps it’s the fact that both are such readily available convenience foods that inspires such enthusiasm and awe in guests when you bother to produce them yourself.
Anyone who owns an ice cream maker will know that this is not a complicated process. We’re no longer required to fetch snow down from the mountains or patiently shave away at blocks of ice as our ancestors once did. The ability to make a basic custard is useful, but not an absolute necessity – as shown by the simple ‘Philadelphia-style’ recipe below – and then it’s just a question of mixing and matching flavours to your taste. Nonetheless, there is still something very magical about ice cream, the way it undergoes a texture transformation as it freezes, turning a nondescript liquid into a cool, creamy, velvety delight which melts in your mouth. Continue reading
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.