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Hot Flapjack Pudding and Ice Cream

September 17, 2009 1 comment

Hot Flapjack Pudding & Ice Cream

For some people, the best part of making a cake batter is licking the bowl. For others, cookie dough is a foodstuff in its own right. This is, then, perhaps inspired by that idea. It stemmed from a light night craving for a hot pudding, but also a desire for something quick and easy that didn’t need any shopping. Essentially unbaked flapjack mixture served warm, with good, shop-bought vanilla ice cream, it would be a stretch to call this a recipe, and, unusually for me as I don’t often use it, the cooking instructions are for the microwave, although if that is a little déclassé for you, then by all means use a large saucepan over a low heat.

I’ve written quantities below, but usually I would just guess – throw a chunk of butter in the bowl, add a similar quantity of demerara sugar and drizzle over what looks like two tablespoons of golden syrup. Once melted, stir in oats until it seems like no more can possibly be coated in the sticky mixture, although know it will absorb more than you likely think.

Delicious just with ice cream, and, if you think of it as flavoured porridge then definitely a health food, and comforting as it is, for an added indulgence, hot chocolate sauce drizzled over makes this heavenly. I would recommend Nigella’s Hot Chocolate Sauce from Express, (which I’ll post next, and note you’ll probably only need half the quantity for pouring on this), which sets a little over the ice cream, but oozes through the warm flapjack to flavour all with chocolate, although admittedly this makes this a little, if not much, more of an undertaking.

Hot Flapjack Pudding & Ice Cream (serves 2)

  • 100g butter
  • 100g demerara sugar
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 200g porridge oats (not instant), maybe more
  • good, shop-bought vanilla ice cream, to serve
  • hot chocolate sauce, if desired, to serve

Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup into a large, microwave safe bowl, and, on full power, melt in 30 second blasts, stirring well between each, until everything is runny and incorporated.

Pour in about half of the oats, and stir well until everything is combined. Continue adding the remainder of the oats, a few spoonfuls at a time, and mixing well. Return to the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute, to warm it all through again, and then divide between two bowls and top with a few scoops of ice cream. Devour, preferably in slippers on the sofa. Burning log fire in the background optional.

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Baked Chocolate Orange Cheesecake

September 15, 2009 2 comments

Chocolate Orange Cheesecake

Chocolate and orange is one of those combinations people either seem to love or hate. This may well serve to convert them. The orange flavour is subtle, but enough, and the cake rich, but just right. And this comes to you, from me, via way of a few detours.

I wanted to make a chocolate orange cheesecake because I had flicked through the Philadelphia (as in the brand of soft cream cheese) Cookbook, and seen one there, but was taken by the idea only. There was no real chocolate, which I knew I wanted (needed?), and their method seemed a bit of a faff. I had an idea of how to make a baked cheesecake, and what to put in, so next I turned to (of course) Nigella, (Feast, to be exact), to get an idea of the proportions for the ingredients to make sure I ended up with cheesecake rather than a cheesy custard sat atop a burnt biscuit. That done, I fiddled with ingredients and amounts some more, dispensed with the idea of a waterbath, and here is my final version.

Do allow this the time it needs to chill. I, being both too greedy and too impatient for my own good, didn’t, for the first slice at least, and although it was good slightly warm, it was a little more moist-mousse-pudding-cheese-cake, only reaching its desired baked cheesecake taste and texture once fully cold.  

Baked Chocolate Orange Cheesecake (10-12 slices maybe?)

For the base:

  • 200g (dark) chocolate digestive biscuits
  • 75g butter

For the filling:

  • 150g good dark chocolate (70%)
  • 500g soft cream cheese (e.g. Philadelphia)
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks (freeze the whites!)
  • 150ml double cream
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder, dissolved in two tablespoons hot water
  • zest of 1 orange, juice of half an orange

Preheat the oven to 160°C.

To make the base, bash the biscuits the fine crumbs. My trusty mini-chopper did this for me. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat, and stir in the biscuit crumbs, until you have a damp, clinging mixture. (If you were processing the biscuits to make the crumbs, you could pour the melted butter down the funnel of the machine, continuing to mix until you get the desired result.) Tip into a 23cm springform tin, shake to spread and then firm into an even-as-you-can base by pressing it with your fingers. Whack into the freezer to set a little while you make the filling.

Melt the chocolate, either in a bowl over simmering water, or very carefully in the microwave, watching and regularly stirring. Put it to one side to cool a little.

I did the majority of this next part with a handheld electric mixer, although there’s no reason you couldn’t do it by hand. Beat the cream cheese until it’s really soft. Tip in the sugar and cornflour, and beat some more to combine. Add the eggs and then the yolks one at a time, (or if like me, they’re all cracked in a bowl together, pour them in a bit at a time), continuing to beat. In another bowl, whisk the cream until it forms peaks, then quickly beat this into the cream cheese mixture too. Add the cocoa solution, the melted chocolate, and the orange zest and juice, and give everything a final beating, until you have a smooth batter. It will be quite runny, don’t worry.

I wrapped 2 sheets of foil round the outside of my tin, so that it had a protective wall that rose about 5cm above the top of the tin.

Whole Choc Orange Cheesecake

This was for two reasons – to give the cheesecake a little protection from the heat, so the top didn’t burn or dry out too much, as my oven is fan-assisted, and fairly vigorous at that, and also as my tin is a bit old and I didn’t want it to leak.

Pour the filling over the biscuit base, and cook in the oven for an hour, checking after 45 minutes. The top should be firm, but feel like it is a little wobbly below. And it will fall a little, so don’t be surprised! I let mine cool in the oven for the first half hour or so, then removed to a wire rack. When it’s completely cold, chill for at least two hours before serving.

‘Good, shop-bought vanilla ice cream’

August 28, 2009 Leave a comment

Green & Black's Vanilla Ice Cream

‘Good, shop-bought vanilla ice cream’ is a phrase I often stick on the end of a recipe, and I’m not alone, but what does this mean? Vanilla ice cream is a great accompaniment to so many desserts, particularly warm puddings (apple pie anyone?), especially chocolate based ones, is useful for tarting up something shop-bought, and is a great dessert standby all of its own. But, look down the freezer aisle in the supermarket, and there is such a huge variety, what constitutes good?

A traditional (read ‘proper’) ice cream is essentially a frozen custard – a mix of cream and milk, sugar, egg yolks or eggs, and flavouring, and this sort of ice cream is what I would recommend – look at the ingredients, and if they’re mostly dairy, sugar, eggs and natural flavourings, and probably a few other bits and pieces like stabilisers, then you’re on to a winner. An ice cream like this will have the desired creamy texture, and a rich flavour.

Of course, the better ice creams are more expensive. The cheaper ones are likely to have far less dairy, no eggs, unnatural flavourings, and essentially be whipped oil with loads of other stuff in. After all, which sounds tastier, ‘cream’ or ‘partially reconstituted whey protein concentrate and coconut oil’. They are also more likely to be bland and without flavour, and develop ice crystals really quickly in the freezer. Think of it as a good investment – a little more outlay will reap huge rewards, by which I mean a nicer texture, and a better flavour – and don’t think that vanilla ice cream is ‘plain’ or without flavour, because the best ones are far from this.

So, a few recommendations, and of course these are just my favourites and you may have other brands you like. Try a few out, go by the ingredients, and see what you think.

Green & Blacks Organic Vanilla Ice Cream is at the top of my list – it’s delicious. A quick glance at the ingredients list tells you all you need to know – all of the contents seems sensible, and you get a smooth ice cream with the taste of vanilla. (Incidentally, they do more flavours now – try Vanilla Caramel Nut. Go on, try it. Now.)

Ben & Jerry’s Fairtrade Vanilla is another good one. And it’s Fairtrade, so you’ll be doing your bit. And I don’t think there’s a flvaour of their ice cream that isn’t amazing.

Lots of smaller, independent producers make some great ice cream too. Perhaps try your local farm shop. Ooh, and look out for ice creams made with Cornish clotted cream, they’re fantastic. M&S does a good one.

And finally, Wall’s Carte D’Or is nice too. While it breaks some of the ingredients ‘rules’ I’ve talked about above, probably placing it somewhere between cheap ice creams and ‘proper’ ones, it’s a good enough freezer standby, with a nice flavour.

What’s your favourite ice cream?

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Lemon Meringue Pie

August 28, 2009 Leave a comment

Lemon Meringue Pie - Perfect Meringue

This has to be one of the best desserts of all time – tangy lemon curd topped with billowing sweet meringue, brown and crunchy on top, white, sticky and soft within. Best of all it’s easy – time consuming, a little, perhaps, but this isn’t the same as difficult – to make. Added to it’s appeal is nostalgia – lemon meringue pie is a classic Sunday lunch dessert from my childhood, although, I suspect they were more often than not packet-mixes, so somewhat naturally, maybe snobilly, this is, I think, superior.

So, with various sources of inspiration, this is my own recipe for perfect lemon meringue pie. Now, handily enough, this amount perfectly fills a standard supermarket sweet pastry case, say 20cm/250g or so, which is how I made this the first time. This takes away part of the work but, you could, of course, use ready made pastry and line a pie dish of your own, in which case I would blind-bake the pastry first. And, to describe your pie as truly homemade, you could make the pastry yourself. (To line a loose bottomed pie or flan tin of about 20cm, 75g butter rubbed into 175g plain flour, with 15g caster sugar then added and bound with around 3 tablespoons of water should suffice. Work this to a firm dough, wrap in cling film and give it a little rest, 30 minutes at least, in the fridge, before rolling out on a lightly floured surface until it’s large enough to line the tin. Blind bake, by which I mean line the pastry case with baking paper, fill with baking beans and cook in a 200°C oven for 20 minutes, or until golden, removing the beans and paper for the final five minutes, and remembering to turn the oven down to 150°C after you’ve removed your cooked pie case.)

Lemon Meringue Pie

  • 1 shop-bought sweet pastry case of about 20cm, or one you’ve made yourself as described above
  • 230g caster sugar (50g and 180g, if it helps)
  • 40g butter
  • 3 tablespoons cornflour
  • 2 large lemons, zested and juiced
  • 2 egg yolks and 3 egg whites

Preheat the oven to 150°C.

First, make the lemon curd filling. Put 50g of the caster sugar in a bowl, and add the cornflour. Add 2 tablespoons of cold water, and mix to a paste.

Place the lemon zest into a saucepan and pour over 200ml water from a recently boiled kettle. Place over heat and return to the boil, then stir it in to the cornflour paste. Pour the whole lot back into the pan and bring it to the boil again, stirring constantly. Simmer for 1 minute, while carrying on stirring. Remove from the heat and beat in the egg yolks, lemon juice and butter. When you have a smooth, yellow mixture, pour this into the pastry shell.

Next, in a ridiculously clean bowl, whisk (by powered means if at all possible) the egg whites to stiff peaks, and then, continuing to whisk, add the remaining sugar, 180g of it, a spoon at a time, until all is combined and glossy.

Spoon the meringue over the lemon filling, using a silicone spatula to get it right to the edges and completely sealing in the yellow filling within. If you’re both inclined and able, swirl the meringue into peaks, and then bake for 45 minutes, by which time the meringue should be lightly browned and crips on top, but still gorgeously soft, stick and white within.

Serve warm or cold, with or without adornment, either cream, or better still (especially if warm) good, shop-bought vanilla ice cream.

Categories: Pudding, Recipe Tags: , , , , ,

Tesco Finest Raspberry Brulee Cheesecake

August 4, 2009 Leave a comment

Tesco Finest Raspberry Brulee Cheesecake

Even the most hardcore foodie shouldn’t feel guilty about buying a good pudding. I mean, sometimes, if you’re getting home from work and cooking dinner, especially one requiring more than  a mild amount of effort, you might not be in the mood or have the time for the extra work involved. You may, of course, disagree – some puddings are easy to make, some are worth the effort, and some can only be homemade – it is a rare supermarket cake that stands up to something you’ve baked yourself, or isn’t full of tut you wouldn’t put in at home.

Everyone’s idea of what constitutes a ‘good’ shop-brought pudding will be different too – for me it is probably going to be about trying new flavours, or something far to complicated for me to even comtemplate making, and probably won’t be full of strangely named ingredients that I don’t know the purpose of.

And so, I present to you a recent discovery and my freezer standby of the moment – Tesco Finest Raspberry Brulee Cheesecake. Very delicious, with its ‘Madagascan vanilla cheesecake’ and ‘Heritage’ raspberries, the highlight of this is its brulee style hard caramel topping. Yum. Having worked my way through much of Tesco’s Finest frozen dessert selection recently, (they all look so delicious!), this is the winner for me, and I encourage you to try it.

Overexcited by the novelty of a cheesecake with brulee topping, or, indeed, anything with a hard, sugary crust, my plan is to explore in what direction I can take this concept, so hopefully home-made bruleeing reports to follow.

Tesco Finest Raspberry Brulee Cheesecake – £3.49 (475g), Tesco.

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Nigella’s Chocolate Raspberry Pudding Cake

July 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Nigella's Chocolate Raspberry Pudding CakeI’m sure as the blog progresses, it will become more than clear that I adore everything Nigella, and I’ve already mentioned my penchant for chocolate puddings. This recipe was recently re-printed in Sainsbury’s magazine, and sounded so delicious I couldn’t stop myself. (It also convinced me to re-read How To Eat, cover to cover, and make a list of things to try I hadn’t gotten around to yet.)

I have to confess, I was a little disappointed initially. I’ve made a lot of hot chocolate-y puddings with a wettish, mousse-like inside, and although this was lovely, there was something about this pudding that just wasn’t quite as great as some of the others. (Like I say, this was still good, I think the mild disappointment was far more stinging because it was a) chocolate, and b) Nigella, two things that never usually let me down.)

However, talk about improving with age. Returning to the cake a day later, the texture had become more dense, the small amount of raspberry liquor more pronounced, and, for whatever reason, I found this re-visit much more enjoyable. Nigella recommends re-heating second helpings to aid the texture, which I duly did, and, made hot and served with vanilla ice-cream, this was good. However, what was better was the slice I just ate cold, as is, which was deliciously dense, and had an almost peanut butter-like claggy, sticks-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth quality which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Recipe below, but I strongly recommend you buy How To Eat: The Pleasures and Principles Of Good Food, which is a fantastic read.  

Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Raspberry Pudding Cake

(Some alternative ingredients are in the original recipe, this is how I made it)

  • 185g self-raising flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons creme de framboise
  • 95g caster sugar
  • 95g muscovado sugar
  • 250g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids minimum)
  • 2 teaspoons good instant coffee made up with 370ml hot water
  • 2 eggs, beaten slightly
  • 250g raspberries (or more if using well defrosted, frozen raspberries)

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter a 22cm spring-form cake tin and line the base.

Sift the flour and cocoa into a bowl and put to one side.

Put the butter, liqueur, sugars, chocolate and coffee/water mixture into a saucepan and stir over a low-heat until it’s all melted and is ‘thickly, glossily smooth’.

Stir this mixture into the sifted flour and cocoa, and then beat until it’s smooth again. Then beat in the eggs. Nigella warns you at this point not to panic at the fact this is quite runny, but trust her, the cake will cook just fine.

Pour the mixture into the tin to a depth of about 2cm, cover with raspberries, and pour the rest of the mixture on top. Push down and raspberries that bob to the surface, then greedily lick your fingers.

Bake for 40-45 minutes. I put mine in for 40, and my oven seems to be a bit of a scorcher, so it was done by then, perhaps a touch overdone.  Don’t test with a skewer, as the middle is meant to be moist. Set the tin on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes, and then turn out the cake.

Nigella recommends eating this about an hour later, however I couldn’t wait that long. The top was quite cracked, which could have been prettied-up with icing sugar, and although Nigella recommends serving with more raspberries, and Greek Yoghurt, whipped double cream, or creme fraiche, my usual accompaniment of choice for hot chocolate puddings is good, shop-bought vanilla ice cream which didn’t disappoint.

Photo to follow!

How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food by Nigella Lawson is published by Chatto & Windus.

Thoughts on Creme de Framboise

Sometimes recipes call for a certain liqueur – and of course, there is no need to buy a bottle just to add a tablespoon to a cake you may only make once. I happened to have a bottle of creme de framboise, the raspberry liqueur used in this recipe in the house – in fact, in a cupboard with a load of other bottles of random liqueurs with a few inches missing purchased in anticipation of an exotic cocktail party (Blue Curacao anyone?). However, it does seem to work well in this cake, and I thought I might share a suggestion for using it up.

A little added to a glass of Champagne (or Prosecco), perhaps with a floating fresh raspberry or two, would be delightful, but for those Cherry Coke fans out there, you can make a decent (albeit raspberry rather than cherry) homespun fruity-caffeine concoction of your own which is really delicious.

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