Sponge with elderflower liqueur, ice cream, whipped cream and blueberries

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This is more of an assembly job than actual cooking, but a really nice simple dessert to pull out when you crave something sweet after dinner or throwing a last minute dinner party. Make a sponge at the weekend, cut into slices and freeze and you can make this any time with just a few minutes notice.

Sponge with elderflower liqueur, ice cream, whipped cream and blueberries, served 3

3 slices sponge cake

3 tbsp St Germain elderflower liqueur 

3 scoops vanilla ice cream

3 spoonfuls lightly whipped cream

150 g fresh blueberries

Place the sponge slices in bowls. Pour the liqueur over the cake. Top with ice cream, whipped cream and blueberries. 

Caramel tart

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I made this lovely caramel tart ages ago for the office and although the pastry case looks a bit dark (I was so worried it would taste burnt, but it didn’t) everybody loved it. Phew! it’s very easy to make, just keep an eye on the pastry in the oven.

The original recipe calls for two chocolate truffles (one white, one brown) to be piped on top, but I just decorated it with whipped cream and it worked well too.

Caramel tart, serves 8

Adapted from Erik Lallerstedt’s recipe.

Pastry::

300 ml plain flour (180 g)

100 g butter

1-2 tbsp caster sugar

1 egg yolk

Filling:

100 ml double cream 

45 g caster sugar

50 ml golden syrup

1/2 vanilla pod

3 tbsp dark brown sugar

1 tbsp orange blossom honey

100 g unsalted butter

Garnish:

whipped cream

Dark chocolate truffle:

100 g dark chocolate

150 g unsalted butter

White chocolate truffle:

100 g white chocolate

150 g unsalted butter

Make the pastry and cover a pie dish with it. Bake in 200C for 20 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool. Place all the ingredients for the caramel, apart from the butter, in a saucepan and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod, add the pod as well and remove it later. Add the butter. Leave to cool and pour into the pastry case. Place somewhere cold. 

Truffle: Break up the chocolate and melt in a bain marie with knobs of softened butter. Stir continuously until smooth. Leave to cool until good piping consistency, then pipe onto the set caramel.  

Crunchy apple cake

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Some people, like my wonderful mother, love apple pies and cakes. I actually think she could live on it alone. I, on the other hand, am a little harder to please. Raw apples – delicious. Mushy cooked ones – not so much. I want set cakes, that provide a nice contrast to the soft apples.

This cake has the Hanna seal of approval; it’s cake-y, has a nice crunchy top but is still apple-y enough for the likes of my mother. Happy days!

Crunchy apple cake, serves 8-10

3-6 apples, peeled and slices

1 tbsp caster sugar

a little (1/2 – 1 tsp) cinnamon

3 eggs

190 g caster sugar

70 g plain flour

Place the apple slices in a lined springform. Scatter with sugar and cinnamon. Beat eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy and mix in the flour. Pour into the tin. Bake for 60 minutes in 175C. Serve with lightly whipped cream. 

Crumbly vanilla squares

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These seriously-easy-to-make vanilla squares are so nice even the boys in the office asked me for the recipe. They remind me of a pastry we have in Sweden called vaniljhjärtan (vanilla hearts); a thin pastry heart filled with wonderful vanilla cream. These square are a little sharper than those, because of the fromage frais and creme fraiche, but that’s not a bad thing. I just think it adds freshness and make the squares seem lighter. Deceptive, I know.

This recipe makes a lot of cake, but you can easily halve it or just make the whole batch and put some in the freezer.

Crumbly vanilla squares, makes approx 42

Translated from and adapted after the recipe in Hemmets Journals.

Crumble:

500 g butter

600 g plain flour

320 g caster sugar

4 tbsp vanilla powder (a little less if using essence)

1 tbsp baking powder

Filling:

4 eggs

200 ml fromage frais

500 ml creme fraiche

240 g caster sugar 

1 tbsp vanilla powder or essence

Mix butter, flour, sugar, vanilla and baking powder until a sandy texture, using a food processor. I had to make it in two batches as my food processor isn’t very big. Press half of the crumbe onto a parchment paper in a large baking tray (I used two smaller ones).

Mix egg, fromage frais, creme fraiche, sugar and vanilla in a bowl. Pour the filling over the crumb base. Pour the rest of the crumble mixture on top. Bake for 30 minutes in the middle of the oven. Leave to cool and cut into squares. 

Winter Pavlova

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I made this lovely Winter version of Pavlova before Christmas, and if I had had time to post it before the holiday season I would have aptly named it Christmas Pavlova, but, as it’s now February, I think Winter Pavlova is more fitting. Clementines are still in season so nothing’s stopping you to make it right away. Or why not try it with blood oranges?

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Scandelights’ Winter Pavlova, serves 10

Clementine curd:

50 g butter

1 egg

100 ml caster sugar (80 g)

3 small clementines (or 2 larger ones)

Meringue:

140 g egg whites (4)

220 g caster sugar

8 g / 1 tbsp corn flour

4 g  / 1 tsp white wine vinegar

Decoration:

3 dl whipping or double cream

1 packet pomegranate seeds

4 clementines, cut into fillets (i.e. the wedges without the membranes) 

Clementine curd:

Zest the clementines and squeeze out the juice. Place in a saucepan with the butter and half the sugar. Heat up until the butter and sugar has dissolved. Leave to cool.

Beat egg and remaining sugar pale and fluffy and add to the saucepan. Let the mixture thicken on low heat while stirring. It must not boil. Leave to cool. Store in the fridge. 

Meringue:

Beat the egg whites until foamy and add the sugar bit by bit while beating until stiff peaks. Add corn flour and vinegar and fold it in with a spatula. 

Divide the meringue in two, shaping two circles on two parchment clad baking trays. 

Bake in the middle of the oven, for 60 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the meringues in the cooling oven with the door open until the oven has cooled down. 

Assembling:

Lightly whip the cream and cut the clementines into fillets (peel it, keep it whole and place a knife on either side of each membrane, cutting out membrane-free wedges). Place one meringue round on a cake plate. Spread with clementine curd. Spread with whipped cream and place the other meringue round on top. Spread with whipped cream and decorate with clementine fillets and pomegranate seeds. 

Nigella’s sumptuous chocolate cake

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I have had a complicated relationship with Nigella through the years. It was definitely because of her and Jamie Oliver I started cooking as a teenager, but as I got better at both cooking and baking I also got a bit disappointed with some of Nigella’s recipes. Sometimes they seem to promise more than they delivered, but then some recipes are so great I still use them 15 years later.

With her new cookbook and series, both named Simply Nigella, I am back in awe of her. I want to try all the recipes, love like the style of cooking (and baking) and all the recipes I’ve tried so far have been great.

This cake seemed absolutely delicious and easy to make on her show, and it certainly is a treat, plus it’s vegan – so a good recipe to have in your repertoire. Mine wasn’t entirely vegan though, I must confess. As I couldn’t find any coconut butter in my supermarket I used regular butter in the icing, which worked just as well would you prefer to make it non-vegan.

It is probably the most moist chocolate cake I’ve ever made and I will certainly make it again and again.

Nigella’s dark and sumptuous chocolate cake, serves 10-12

Adapted from Nigella’s recipe.

For the icing:

60 ml cold water

75 coconut butter (this is not the same as oil)

50 soft dark sugar

1 ½ tsp instant espresso powder – I omitted this 

1 ½ tbsp cocoa

150 dark chocolate, finely chopped

For the cake:

225 plain flour

1 ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

½ tsp fine sea salt

1 ½ tsp instant espresso powder – I omitted this 

75 cocoa

300 soft dark brown sugar

375 ml hot water from a recently boiled kettle

75 g (90 ml) coconut oil 

1 ½ tsp cider vinegar or white wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 180°C and pop in a baking sheet. Then start with the icing: put all of the icing ingredients except the chopped chocolate into a heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil, making sure everything’s dissolved. Then turn off the heat – but leave the pan on the hob – then quickly add the finely chopped chocolate and swirl the pan to allow the chocolate to sink.  Leave for a minute, then whisk until you have a glossy icing, and leave to cool.

Line the bottom of your springform cake tin with baking parchment. Put the flour, bicarb, salt (and instant espresso) and cocoa in a bowl and fork to mix.

Mix together the sugar, water, coconut oil and vinegar until the coconut oil has melted, and stir into the dry ingredients, then pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35 minutes. Though do check at the 30-minute mark to see if it is already done.

Once the cake is cooked, transfer the tin to a wire rack and let the cake cool in its tin.

Give the icing a good stir with a spatula and  pour over the unmoulded cake, and use a spatula to ease the icing to the edges, if needed. Decorate (Nigella used chopped pistachios and rose petals while I went for snowflake sprinkles) and leave for 30 minutes until serving. 

 

Pecan pie

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I made this Thanksgiving pie the year before last and lots of times before then, but haven’t found the time (in the busy period between Thanksgiving and Christmas) to blog about it. So here it is, in January, but it’s still worth making it – apart from being a Thanksgiving staple dessert it’s also a wonderful winter pie.

The recipe is courtesy of The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook (the bakery’s first, and in my opinion also the best, cookbook).

Pecan pie, serves 10-12

Adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook.

Pie crust:

260 g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

110g (unsalted) butter

Grease a 23cm pie dish. Put the flour, salt and butter in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. )

Add 1 tbsp water and beat until well-mixed. Add a second tbsp water and beat until you have a smooth dough. Wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest for an hour.

Roll out on a floured surface and line the pie dish, trimming the edges. No need to blind bake. 

Filling:

200 g caster sugar

250 ml dark corn syrup (golden syrup works well)

1/2 tsp salt

3 eggs

60 unsalted butter, cubed

1/4 tsp vanilla 

100 g shelled pecans + extra for decoration

Save the 10-12 nicest pecans for decoration. Chop the rest.

Preheat the oven to 170C. 

Add sugar, syrup and salt in a large saucepan and place on medium heat. Bring to the boil, then remove from heat and let cool slightly. 

Beat the eggs in a bowl. Add the warm (not hot) sugar mixture and stir it in swiftly (to avoid scrambling the eggs). Add butter and vanilla and stir until the butter has melted and been incorporated. 

Place the chopped pecans in the pie case and pour in the sugar mixture. Arrange the saved pecans carefully on top. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a dark golden colour and slightly crunchy on top. Leave to cool and serve while it’s slightly warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.