Friday, 26 February 2016


This cookie recipe is a great all rounder that you can use as a vehicle for all sorts of naughty little nuggets of fun, from chocolate chips to dried fruit and everything in between. You can also mix things up with the base ingredients if you fancy. Substituting half the caster sugar for light muscovado gives a yummy caramel edge and you can throw in all sorts of spices or extracts if you think they will work. I'll keep things chocolatey this time, but next time who knows where temptation will take me. ;-)

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 12-14 Mins
120g Unsalted Butter
175g Caster Sugar
1 Large Egg
1tsp Vanilla Extract
165g Plain Flour
1/2tsp Baking Powder
300g Dark and White Chocolate Chips

Oh and I should mention you'll get 18 medium cookies out of this quantity, which you might struggle to fit in the oven in one go (unless you are lucky enough to have a whopping great oven). The mixture will sit fine in the bowl covered with cling film for a bit though if you want to bake in batches. It also will chill too if you prefer making earlier in the day and baking later.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line three large flat baking trays with baking paper. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the egg along with the vanilla extract. Sift in the flour and baking powder, mix to a sticky cookie dough, then fold through the chocolate chips.

Take a little round blob of the cookie dough, slightly larger than a golf ball, then place on the baking paper. Repeat for the rest of the dough, making sure they are evenly spaced apart as they will spread during baking. Bake in the centre of the over for 12-14 minutes, until the cookies have spread, are a light golden and are just darkening at the edges. 

When you are happy the cookies are baked remove from the oven, carefully slide the paper with the cookies on onto a wire rack and leave to cool for around 30 minutes. Carefully peel the cookies from the paper and return to the wire rack until cool. Or just nom them all up warm!

Friday, 19 February 2016

Biscuity Lemon Bars

These lemon bars sit somewhere between a cake and a biscuit, so are a welcome addition to any afternoon tea tray. I've topped mine with a homemade lemon curd, but this is entirely optional and to be honest, if you didn't fancy a lemony hit you could flavour the bars with whatever you like. Vanilla or a light spice work especially well!

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 30 Mins
175g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
225g Golden Caster Sugar
1 Large Egg plus 1 Yolk
1tsp Lemon Extract
225g Plain Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
1 Small Jar of Lemon Curd (Optional)

Ready yourself, for we are about to begin. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4, then grease and line a medium sized shallow tray with baking paper. Don't be tempted to use a deep tray instead or you'll find the sides will rise and the middle will not. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the egg and yolk, along with the lemon extract. Sift in the flour and baking powder, then mix together to a stiff batter. Spread the batter over the base of the lined tray, which will admittedly be quite a challenge. By greasing the tray however the paper should stick to it and not slide around too much as you are spreading. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 30 mins, until the mixture has risen slightly and is a golden biscuity brown on top.

When you are happy the mixture is baked remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tray. Once cool remove from the tray, peeling off the paper as you go. Slice into bars and top with a lick of lemon curd. Or you could just wolf them down as they are. The choice is yours!

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Naughty Almond and Sultana Cake

Frequent flyers will know by now that almonds are one of my very favourite ingredients, so I need to excuse to play around with them in new recipes. Here I've made a simple sultana fruit cake but infused it with a full on almond slap around the chops, with chopped almonds, ground almonds, almond extract AND whole marcona almonds, not to mention a naughty little tickle of boozy amaretto. I've also finished the cake with a glaze of amaretto syrup, but this is entirely optional!

Prep time: 20 Mins (Plus soaking time for the fruit)
Baking time: 70 Mins
500g Sultanas
5-6tbsp Amaretto
225g Unsalted Butter
225g Light Muscovado Sugar
3 Large Eggs and 1 Yolk
1tsp Almond Extract
1/2tsp Vanilla Extract
225g Plain Flour
2tbsp Ground Almonds
100g Chopped Almonds
1tsp Baking Powder
50g Whole Marcona Almonds

For the (optional glaze)
A simple sugar syrup made from double the quantity of water to sugar, plus a splash of amaretto

The first task is to soak the fruit, which I do the night before. Place the sultanas in a shallow bowl or container and splash over the amaretto. Mix the fruit around, cover and leave to infuse overnight (or at least for a couple of hours).

Once the fruit has soaked you can start on the cake. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4, grease a 23cm springform tin and line the base with baking paper. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs and yolk one at a time, along with the almond and vanilla extracts. Add the plain flour, ground and chopped almonds, along with the baking powder and mix to a smooth, consistent batter. Tip in the soaked fruit and fold through to combine.

Spoon the mixture into your prepared tin and even to the edges. Press the marcona almonds into the top of you cake, then bake in the centre of the over for around 70 minutes, until a metal skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. When you are happy the cake is baked remove it from the oven, leave in the tin for about 20 minutes, then turn out completely onto a wire rack.

If you want to give the cake a nice shiny glaze then you can make a simple amaretto sugar syrup. Use a quantity of 2:1 water to sugar then boil down until just syrupy in a shallow saucepan, adding a splash of amaretto about half way through. Brush all over the top of you cake and leave to cool. You are now ready to slice and serve!

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Flourless Caramel Chocolate Cake

This cake is filthy. It is utterly, shamelessly dirty. It is debauched, debased and borderline depraved. It is wanton, it is lubricious and it is downright DELICIOUS. Sitting somewhere between a cake and a creme caramel this devil balloons up in the oven like an enormous souffle, before sinking back down on itself and setting to the most decadent treat you can imagine. So no matter how wholly you prepare yourself, how assiduously you gird your loins, nothing will quite prepare you for this naughty treat!

Prep time: 25 Mins
Baking time: 55 Mins
250g Milk Chocolate (I used Valrhona Caramelia)
250g Unsalted Butter
6 Large Eggs (Separated)
250g Light Muscovado Sugar
1tsp Vanilla Extract

Chocolate first! Gently melt together the chocolate and butter, either over a bain marie or in the microwave if you are confident in your timings. Once both have melted together, stir and set to one side to cool slightly. At the same time preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3, grease a deep 20cm loose bottomed tin and double line completely with baking paper.

In a fresh bowl whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla extract until glossy and just starting to pale. Add the cooled melted chocolate/butter and keep whisking to combine. In a fresh, clean bowl whisk the egg whites until voluminous and stiff, then fold through the mixture one spoonful at the time, ideally with a metal spoon or silicone spatula. Be gentle with this and take your time.

Once the egg whites have been thoroughly folded through you should be left with a smooth, pale golden cake batter. Pour this into your prepared tin and bake in the oven for around 55 minutes, until risen to a fat dome and just starting to crack on top. When you are happy the cake is baked remove from the oven, leave to cool in the tin, then place in the fridge for 1-2 hours to settle back down and set firm.

Once set remove from the tin and peel off the baking paper. All finished!