Perfect Pavlova

I don’t often make pavlovas as they end up being too big for a few people to eat, and all those calories over a few days is not a good idea! But a couple of friends came round to see us on Fri so I made one and it was luuuuuush! I prefer to keep my pavlovas simple, no crunchy, pippy passion fruit toppings for me thank you very much! So this recipe can pretty much be thrown together out of store/fridge/freezer staples and looks like you’ve made a huge effort. Result! The rule of thumb you need when making a pavlova is 62.5g of caster sugar per egg white, this way you can make one as big or small as you like!

For 6-8 portions you need
5 egg whites
310g caster sugar
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp cornflower
600ml double cream
300g frozen raspberries (or any fruit of your choice), defrosted
1 tbsp icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees. Begin by whisking the egg whites until they form stiff peaks in a free standing mixer. With the motor running, add the sugar a tablespoon at a time until thoroughly incorporated. Add the vinegar and cornflower and mix in well.

Spoon the meringue on to a lined baking sheet. I usually take care to make a well in the middle with banked up sides to hold the filling in place but you can do it however you wish! Pop into the oven and turn the heat down to 140 degrees. Cook for 90 minutes and then turn off the oven. Leave the door open a little and leave the pavlova to cool in the oven.

Whip the cream to soft peaks then spread onto the pavlova. Add the raspberries and then sift over the icing sugar. Utterly delicious!

Proper Boozy Egg Nog

Christmas isn’t Christmas without a belly full of dangerously alcoholic egg nog. Not in my book anyway.

For 6-8 glasses you need
1/2 pint double cream
1/2 pint milk
3 eggs
4 tbsp icing sugar
3 measures each rum, brandy and whisky
freshly grated nutmeg
cocktail cherries to serve

Place everything apart from the nutmeg and cherries into a blender and blend for 2-3 mins till smooth and thoroughly combined. Strain through a fine meshed sieve into a jug and decorate with lashings of freshly grated nutmeg. Serve topped with enough cocktail cherries to just make you start to feel rather sick. Hic.

Probably The Most Awesome Vegan Pie Ever (v)

OK, OK, I am feeling rather smug after tonight’s dinner marvel, but it was delicious. Really, really delicious. And it was also very easy to make, and used up some of the veg that has been looking sadly up at me from the bottom of the fridge for the last week. Because it’s vegan, there’s no cream in the recipe, just some soya milk which makes a lovely creamy sauce. And this makes it a healthy choice too if you’re watching the calories, what more do you need to convince you to try it 😉

For 4-6 portions you need
1 sheet puff pastry, rolled out to .5cm thickness
1 leek, finely sliced
2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
2-3 parsnips, ditto the carrots
4-5 mushrooms cut into chunky slices
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1/2 pint soya milk plus a little extra for glazing the top of the pie
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp stock powder
2 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsely
salt and pepper

Begin by sauteeing the vegetables in the oil in a large pan. Cover with a lid and allow the veggies to steam fry for 5 mins or so. Remove the lid and increase the heat a little to evaporate off the mushroom juices.

Sprinkle over the flour and stock powder and allow to cook out. Add the mustard and slowly add the soya milk until it’s all absorbed and the sauce is nicely thickened. Season and add the parsley.

Place the vegetables and sauce in a pie dish. Put the puff pastry on the top and seal the edges. You don’t have to use a pie funnel but it will help to cook the inside out if you have one and prevent a soggy pastry lid. Crimp the edges of the pie and brush the top with a little extra soya milk.

Bake the pie in a hot (180 degree) oven for 30-40 mins until the pastry is golden, crispy and cooked through. Serve with baby jacket potatoes, steamed cauliflower and lashings of yummy gravy. Nomtastic.

White Chocolate Mousse Torte

I am a rubbish blogger at the moment. I know. I have been cooking, but I just haven’t been blogging. And I have, er, sort of fallen off of the veggie wagon in recent months and therefore haven’t felt able to blog. It’s disgraceful I know. I am climbing back on again. I just needed a bit of a hiatus…

This recipe is veggie. And it’s also sinfully good. It’s ridiculously easy to make, but O. M. F. G. it blows your socks off. It would be perfect as a Christmas pudding. It’s also perfectly yummy for breakfast. Becka bad. I have adapted the recipe slightly from the original which can be found in Celia Brooks Brown’s most excellent New Vegetarian cookbook.

For 10-12 slices you need:
200g amaretti biscuits, crushed to smithereens
75g butter, melted
500ml double cream at room temperature
30ml milk at room temperature
30ml amoretto liqueur (or cointreau if you want an orangey flavour or indeed any other liqueur you fancy and happen to have to hand…)
400g white chocolate, melted and left to cool slightly.

***Firstly remember to take the milk and cream OUT OF THE FRIDGE at least 2 hours before you want to make this as it’s crucial they are not cold or the chocolate will try and set too quickly when you combine everything together and you will not achieve the light, moussey texture you are after***

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and leave to cool to room temp. Meanwhile mix the crushed biscuits with the melted butter and line a 20cm round silicone tin with the buttery mixture (or line a 20cm springform tin).

Whip the cream, milk and whatever booze you are using until the cream forms soft peaks. Be careful not to over whip as otherwise it will be impossible to combine the chocolate in.

Slacken the chocolate mixture with one spoonful of the cream, then carefully fold this in to the remaining cream. Pour on top of the biscuits and leave to chill for at least four hours.

Serve in thin slices with exotic fruit – cape gooseberries, persimmon and passion fruit work particularly well against the creamy richness of the torte.

Chocolate Sticky Toffee Pudding

Why choose between chocolate sponge pudding and sticky toffee pudding when you can have both?! this is from Rachel Allen’s Food for Living.

for 16-20 portions you need:
100g dark chocolate, melted
150g pitted dates, blitzed
300ml water
100g butter
150g light soft brown sugar
3 eggs
225g plain flour
1 tsp bicarb
1 tsp baking powder

For the sauce
275g golden syrup
225ml double cream
275g light soft brown sugar
100g butter
1/2 tsp vanilla

Place the dates in a saucepan and bring to the boil with the water. Simmer for 10 mins and leave to cool. Make the cake base in the usual fashion, adding the chocolate and dates last. Scrape in to a lined tin and bake at 160 for 45 mins or so.

Make the sauce by placing everything in to a pan and bringing to the boil. Boil rapidly for 4 mins then serve. Perfect winter fuel.

St Delia’s Creme Caramel

I lurve creme caramel, and especially love this recipe as it gives copious amounts of delicious caramel with each portion.

For 6-8 portions you need:
175g caster sugar
2 tbsp water
150ml milk
275ml single cream
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Begin by placing the sugar in a pan and gently heating it. Once it starts to dissolve, swirl the pan to ensure it melts evenly. Keep going until all the sugar has dissolved and has changed to a dark golden colour. Take off the heat and add the water (careful it might spit!). Return to the heat and mix well till smooth and runny. Pour 75% of it into a souffle dish and carefully swirl it up the sides.

Place the milk and cream in the caramel pan with the remaining caramel and slowly bring to the boil. Meanwhile mix the eggs and vanilla together in a bowl. Once the milk mixture has come to the boil, pour it quickly into the eggs, mix and then strain into the souffle dish. Place in a bain marie and bake for about 30 mins or so will set. Leave to cool and then chill for at least a few hours.

Chocolate Cheesecake & Raspberry Brownie

This is _yet another_ Hummingbird recipe, but oh MY! it’s good! I made it for a work fuddle and it went down a storm.

For 32 teeny tiny portions you need:
Brownie Base
200g dark chocolate
200g butter
250g icing sugar
3 eggs
110g plain flour

For the Cheesecake Layer
400g cream cheese (don’t be tempted to use half fat like I did, it doesn’t work as well)
150g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

For the raspberry cream mousse topping
300ml double cream
1 punnet raspberries, defrosted if frozen

Begin by making the brownie base. Melt the chocolate. Beat the butter and icing sugar together and then add the flour a dollop at a time. Mix in the chocolate and splat into a lined baking tin.

Whisk together the cream cheese and icing sugar and eggs and vanilla. Pour over the brownie base. Bake in a moderate oven for about 30 mins.

Once cooked, leave to cool and then chill in the fridge. Just before serving whip the cream and raspberries till very thick and fluffy. Smear on to the cooked base and then sigh in pleasure as you devour each. Little. Bite. Utter, utter bliiiiiiiiis!

Mississippi Mud Pie

I am working my way through the Hummingbird Bakery book at the moment and am trying out some of their pies. I love pies, but hardly ever make them due to the perception that it’s lots of hassle. It’s not. And the resulting pies have been to die(t) for. I am getting so fat from all of this! This pie is all you’d expect from the genre. Oozing, bitter chocolate base, crispy pie case and fluffy mounds of cream on the top studded with chunks of bitter chocolate. Heaven.

For 10-12 slices you need:
150g bitter chocolate
50g butter
30g golden syrup
6 eggs
300g soft light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
350ml double/whipping cream

Pie crust:
260g plain flour
110g butter
2-3 tbsp water

Make the pie crust by pulsing the butter and flour together in a food processor and then adding the water. Form into a dough and leave to rest for a bit wrapped in cling film. Then roll out and line a pie dish. Bake blind with beans for 10 mins and then without the beans for a further 10 mins.

Meanwhile make the filling. Melt the butter, chocolate and syrup together. Leave to cool slightly. Whisk the eggs and sugar till fluffy and combined. Add the melted chocolate and mix well. Pour into the dish and bake in a moderate oven for 30-40 mins taking care not to burn the filling. It’s done when the middle is set but still a bit wobbly. Leave to cool completely then refrigerate overnight. Just before you want to serve whip the cream and pile on the top. Sprinkle over grated chocolate before serving.

Lemon and Lime Syllabub

I adore syllabub. It’s something to do with the fabulously light texture I think. That and the fact that it contains copious amounts of booze 😉 This recipe is quick to whip up (pardon the pun) and keeps for a day or two in the fridge before separating.

For 4-6 portions depending on size you need:
100ml white wine
75g sugar
juice 1 lemon
zest 1 lime
300ml double cream

Whisk everything together until light and fluffy. Spoon into glasses and devour.