Crunchy Apple Pudding

Crunchy Apple Pudding 3-2

I couldn’t countenance Sunday lunch without a pudding.  I fully admit there have been times when a quickly whisked together chocolate or butterscotch sauce to pour over good ice cream has been all I could muster but puddings they were nonetheless.  I love all manner of rib sticking, warming treats – after all Sunday lunch only comes around once a week and I will easily go days or the whole week without any other sweet, sticky number for afters.  Golden syrup sponge, lemon (or chocolate) surprise pudding, a fruit crumble, pie or galette – anything that will be delicious and only improved by cold cream or warm custard.

Last Sunday though I had rather gone to town with a main course of braised silverside and many, many vegetables.  So, although I had bought bramleys and had apple crumble with cream firmly, and fondly, in mind a bit of rejigging was in order.

Several years ago I was offered a pudding called Danish Peasant Girl in a Veil.  Seriously, that was the name – I am sure because I had to ask at least four times.  Caroline, who made it, assured me that just because I hadn’t heard of it didn’t mean it wasn’t a real dessert…  It was layers of apple puree, crispy breadcrumbs, whipped cream and grated chocolate and extremely good it was too.  It has sat filed in my memory until now.

I decided to combine the spirit of the Danish girl with an old nursery pudding of dark muscavado ‘melted’ on top of Greek yogurt which in turn covers some fruit.  So here we have it.  A lighter take or a (rather early) summer version of apple crumble with cream.  My husband and children loved it although I think I am the biggest fan.  Next time I am going to make more so I can also have it for breakfast.

Crunchy Apple Pudding 3

Crunchy Apple Pudding

I have given measurements but these are flexible, if your apples weigh 1kg then great, you will have a little more puree just adjust the sugar accordingly.  Likewise use more yogurt if you like, these are just guidelines.

750g bramley apples, cored, peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons water

50g breadcrumbs

25g butter

1 heaped tablespoon demerara sugar

Good pinch of salt

1 heaped tablespoon dark muscavado

250g Greek yogurt

Put the apples, sugar and water in a pan and cook slowly until completely broken down.  Taste, you may need a touch more sugar depending on the sharpness of your apples.  Leave to cool.  Meanwhile melt the butter in a frying pan and add the breadcrumbs, sugar and a good pinch of salt.  Mad though it might seem you need the salt to give flavour so the crumbs don’t just taste sweet.  Fry these gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until golden and crunchy then leave to cool.  Once you have all the components you can assemble your puddings.  Divide the apple between the glasses and top with the yogurt, sprinkle the muscavado between the four glasses and leave it for a few minutes to ‘melt’ then cover with breadcrumbs.  You can do more layers if you like, I am not dextrous enough to do many, neatly and I only want breadcrumbs on the top so they are really crunchy.  This makes enough for 4 glasses but is easily doubled.

Crunchy Apple Pudding 2

A Buche de Noel….

Buche de Noel 1

Buche de Noel sounds rather more charming than Christmas Log doesn’t it although neither name really conveys the pleasure of eating this.  Never mind, the answer is to press on and try it for yourself to see how very, very delicious it is.

This came about because none of my family are very keen on mincemeat based puds which puts Christmas pudding, mince pies et al fairly firmly out of the window.  Indeed it came down to me to be solely responsible for the consumption of our Christmas cake last year (and the second one I made in January because I was so bereft when the first was finished, but that is another story).

So I set about finding something that is both festive and celebratory but avoided raisins or mincemeat.  Some sort of Buche de Noel came to mind and I liked the idea of Marsala as I find is heady warmth particularly suited to this time of year.  Tiramisu in its usual form is popular chez May so I decided this was the way to go.

This is both light and rich if that is not an oxymoron.  What I mean is that you feel as if you have had a proper treat, boozy and creamy and yet don’t immediately need to lie down in a cool room because you are so stuffed.  If that weren’t enough I think it is an absolute stunner – it brings to mind Biba mocha velvet with a cappuccino colour, floppy satin pussy cat bow….  Happy Christmas!

Buche de Noel 2

A Buche de Noel

This an easy pudding and you can make the components ahead of time.  The chocolate outer you see in the photographs was made a day before and kept rolled in a cool place before being filled – as you see it looks a picture and I must tell you, tasted divine.

5 teaspoons coffee (made with 1/2 a teaspoon of instant coffee and 6 of boiling water)

6 eggs

130g caster sugar

50g cocoa, plus extra for dusting

250g tub marscarpone

6 teaspoons Marsala

2 tablespoons icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 170 and line a swiss roll tin (approx 34x24cm) with baking parchment.  Put the egg yolks and sugar in one bowl and whisk until pale and doubled in volume;  put the whites into another bowl and whisk until soft peaks form.  Sieve the cocoa into the egg yolks along with 2 teaspoons of the coffee and combine.  Add a third of the egg whites into the yolks and mix well to slacken the chocolate mixture then add the remaining whites in two lots, combining very gently.  Pour the whole lot into the prepared tin and cook for 15 minutes until just firm on top.  Whilst it is in the oven dust another sheet of parchment with cocoa.  When the chocolate mix is cooked, carefully tip it out onto the cocoa dusted parchment and starting from the short end, firmly (but gently!) roll up, using the paper to help you and leave it to cool.

Meanwhile mix the mascarpone, marsala, icing sugar and 3 teaspoons of the coffee together and taste, you might decide you want a little more sugar or marsala…!  Carefully unroll the chocolate outer and spread the marscarpone mixture over it, then roll it up again.  It may crack but usually stays together pretty well and anyway, it really doesn’t matter.  If you want you can dust with more cocoa, a snow fall of icing sugar or a grating of chocolate – up to you.  Serves 6-8 depending on how generous your slices are and how much you want left over…..

Buche de Noel 4

 

 

 

Chocolate Peppermint Tart

Chocolate Peppermint Tart 1

The easiest pudding in the world I think, bar offering a bowl of apples.  Crunchy biscuit base, no need for faffing with pastry on this occasion.  Creamy, truffley chocolate filling with a hint of mint (hint of mint?).  A cross between a great big After Eight and a Viscount biscuit (remember those?).  You can have all the ingredients in the cupboard and fridge and then conjure this up when you have a few minutes to spare.  You will be greeted by oohs and ash when you bring out this little number and no one, but no one will believe you didn’t slave to produce your masterpiece.  Some crushed up candy canes makes this pure Christmas for me but if that is a step too far for you, please dispense with this final flourish.

This might look like a slightly small tart for eight but it is very rich.  A small slice would probably cover pudding and after dinner mint in one go.  Alternatively just make a bigger one.

Chocolate Peppermint Tart 3

If you want to go to the Chocolate Orange route then substitute Cointreau or Grand Marnier for the peppermint but bear in mind your tart will now contain a drop or two of alcohol.  This version would look stunning topped with some chocolate covered candied orange peel.

I usually make a chocolatey pudding around Christmas or New Year and if you want another to try, make my Chocolate Pudding Cake (December 2012) which is simplicity itself and better still, you can make it now and freeze until you need it.

Chocolate Peppermint Tart 2

Chocolate Peppermint Tart

I use the all chocolate Neos from Lidl which work a treat but you could use Oreos.  Choose the all chocolate ones rather than those with a white filling to keep the dark beauty of the base if you can but both taste delicious.

225g Neos or Oreos

50g butter plus a tiny bit extra for brushing the tin, all melted

Pinch of salt

150g chocolate, I use half milk and half plain

20g butter

150ml cream

1-2 teaspoons peppermint extract

Brush a 20cm tart tin with a removable base with a little melted butter.  Whizz the biscuits in a processor or bash them in a plastic bag until you have fine crumbs.  Mix with the remaining melted butter, a pinch of salt and then press firmly into the tin including the sides.   Chill this in the fridge whilst you get on with the filling.   Melt the chocolate, butter and cream gently in a pan.  Once this is all amalgamated add a teaspoon of peppermint, mix well and then taste, you might want a little more but don’t overdo it, you want gentle peppermint not mouthwash.  Pour this mixture into the biscuit shell and chill until set, a couple of hours.  Now, how easy was that?

Chocolate Peppermint Tart 5

 

Vanilla Pannacotta with Blackcurrants

Vanilla pannacotta 2

I have been so lucky with piles of fabulous, fresh local fruit recently.  Blackcurrants, loganberries, strawberries, gooseberries and red currants.  We have had many of the classics such as gooseberry fool and some new ideas such as blackcurrant shortbread cake.  I made redcurrant jelly for the first time, pretty straightforward apart from my slightly Heath Robinson jelly bag of muslin suspended via a wooden spoon over a deep jug – it worked!  Blackcurrant jam and loganberry jam sit in my larder, a comforting site if ever I saw one.

After making the jam I had a few blackcurrants left over, maybe 100g, and this is what came to mind as a way of using them up.   They have such a huge and tangy flavour that only a little is required and I thought this gentle, creamy vanilla pannacotta the perfect way to show off the blackcurrant sauce.  Sweet and fruity, sharp and vanilla – these two flavours work so well together.

I have to admit to having avoided recipes containing gelatine for years.  I remember my mother once spilling a gelatine mixture on the floor and as she was in a rush, quickly put down some newspaper to soak it up.  The result was sheets of newspaper glued firmly to the flagstones which took some elaborate and extensive chipping away to remove.  To be fair this was powdered gelatine and I still rarely use that.  My preferred type is the clear almost glass like sheets which work a treat.   These little puddings are so easy and quick to prepare and always go down a storm.  I’ve finished the blackcurrants but we had the pannacottas again yesterday this time with chopped strawberries macerated in a little sugar until they were deep crimson and juicy – fabulous.

Vanilla Pannacotta with Blackcurrants

200ml whole milk

100ml single cream

100ml Greek yogurt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste

60g caster sugar

2 gelatine leaves

100g blackcurrants

20-40g caster sugar

Put the gelatine in a bowl of cold water to soften.  Heat the milk, cream, vanilla and sugar until it just reaches boiling point.  Remove from the heat and add the squeezed out gelatine, whisk well and leave to cool, stirring occasionally.  Whisk in the yogurt and divide between 4 ramekins or small metal moulds.  Put into the fridge for at least 4 hours to set.  Meanwhile put the blackcurrants into a pan with a splash of water and 20g sugar.  Heat gently until just falling apart and forming a syrupy sauce.  Carefully taste, you may need more sugar, it depends very much on their sweetness.  When you are happy with the balance leave the sauce to cool.  To serve, dip each ramekin briefly into hot water before turning out onto a plate and serve with the blackcurrants.  Serves 4.

Vanilla pannacotta

 

 

Giant Strawberry Mivvi

Stawberry Mivvi

Remember Lyons Maid ice lollies?  The Orange Maid, a belter of orange cordial flavoured ice, lasted ages, always good value.  The Cider Quench which made us giggle and pretend to be drunk.  The Zoom, the Fab and of course the Cornish Strawberry Mivvi.  Treats from childhood years along with those brick like blocks of ice cream the perfect shape to slice and put between oblong wafers or into those funny rectangular cones (is that a geometric impossibility?).

The Strawberry Mivvi in particular required a certain skill to pick off the strawberry ice outer shell leaving a heart of vanilla ice cream to be licked quickly before it melted.  I liked the strawberry layer and I liked the ice cream but it was the combination of the two that makes the Mivvi excel, that British classic Strawberries and Cream – on a stick.

Not content to leave this alone I decided a giant version was required, a Mivvi bombe surprise, a family size spectacular, a Mighty Mivvi if you will.  This strawberry sorbet is one I’ve made many times over the years, the pure fragrance of the berries sings and you can easily dispense with the rest of this recipe and eat it as it is.  I sometimes make vanilla ice cream but on this occasion have used 2 tubs of a good store bought one.

You need to make this a day or so before you want to eat which of course is only a bonus as it sits happily in the freezer until you are ready.  Before you start however, make sure you have a good amount of free space on a freezer shelf, I didn’t take this early precaution and had to do a ridiculous amount of moving and rearranging to accommodate the bowl.  Learn from my mistakes!

Giant Strawberry Mivvi

500g strawberries

150g caster sugar

500ml water

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 x 500ml tubs good vanilla ice cream

Dissolve the sugar in a little of the 500ml of water over a low heat then cool.  Whizz the strawberries with the lemon juice and then mix with the sugar syrup and remaining water.  Sieve and then freeze in an ice cream maker or put in a tub in the freezer and mix regularly to break down the ice crystals.  Once you have sorbet by either route transfer it to a 2 litre bowl, then take a 1 litre bowl with a layer of cling film on the outside and push it gently into the larger bowl thus squishing the sorbet up the sides – this sounds more complicated than it is.  Put in the freezer for a couple of hours to firm up.  Half an hour before the time is up take your 2 tubs of vanilla ice cream out of the freezer to soften.  Then remove the smaller bowl, and the cling film from the sorbet (you may need to put a little warm water inside the smaller bowl to encourage its release) and then fill up the cavity with the vanilla ice cream, easily done it its softened state.  Put it back into the freezer for at least an hour to firm up until you want it.  Then (conversely) you will need to leave the whole thing out of the freezer for 15-20 minutes before you want to cut it, this too may need sitting in warm water to encourage it to part company with the bowl.  Serves 8, with aplomb.

Stawberry Mivvi 2

Lemon and Lime Ice Cream

Lemon and Lime Ice Cream

When I was about seven or eight I went to visit family on Martha’s Vineyard.  There were many memorable things about that holiday, the amazing round house my cousins slept in, the garden which led straight onto the beach, the horseshoe crabs, fresh limes.  One of the clearest however is of our daily visit to Edgartown to have an ice cream.  The same place everyday and for me the same flavour, pistachio.  Isn’t that crazy that an ice cream (or many) nearly 40 years ago should still be such a vivid picture in my mind.

More prosaically I can still remember my first Cornetto, the exoticism of it and the chance that I would disappear from our Yorkshire garden and reappear in a Venetian gondola. Those were the days when you bought tubs of plain vanilla or perhaps for a treat, Neopolitan.  No salted caramel or Phish food graced the shelves in those days.

Ice cream then is a treat and never more so than when you make it yourself.  The flavours are all the clearer when the fruit goes from punnet to freezer in a matter of minutes.  Better than this you know exactly what has gone into your mix – as children we were convinced ice cream was made from whale blubber, not a tempting thought although it never stopped us scoffing it.   By the way, were you ever told that the ice cream van only plays music when it has run out of ice creams and ice lollies….?

This is a fabulously zingy and tangy ice cream, super fresh from the citrus and without the need of a custard.  It is made, I promise you, in hardly and time and is very easy.  My daughter made the ice cream in the photographs and it is delicious, well done Minty.

Lemon and Lime Ice Cream

1 large lemon

2 limes

120g caster sugar

400ml whipping cream

Put the zest and juice from the lemon and both limes in a bowl add the sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Pour the cream into this mixture and put the bowl into the fridge until cold.  When fully chilled pour into an ice cream machine and churn until thick and frozen, transfer to a plastic box with a lid and put into the freezer to firm up a little more. Take it out of the freezer 15 minutes before you want to eat it.  Serves 4.

If you don’t have an ice cream machine, put the chilled mixture into the plastic box and freeze.  Every couple of hours remove from the freezer, mix thoroughly then freeze again until smooth and frozen.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Fondants

Salted Caramel Chocolate Fondant

I love a good chocolate fondant and wasn’t convinced there was any need to gild the lily but this salted caramel idea just wouldn’t go away and I knew I had to have a go at making it.  Just out of interest you understand…….  So this is the pudding I teased you with around Valentine’s and I thought it would be perfect for Mothering Sunday should you still be without a pudding or as an early Easter treat.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Fondant 3

These puddings are sublime, honestly beyond fabulous.  A crisp chocolate outer gives way to a soft chocolate pudding containing molten caramel sauce within.  They are so good.  Surprisingly they also very easy to make and sit happily in the fridge until you want to cook them.  As long as the oven is at 200 and you cook them for exactly 12 minutes they will be perfect.   I am no expert baker but if I can do them then anyone can.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Fondant 4

Salted Caramel Chocolate Fondants

I am all for quick and easy and although these puds fit that bill you will need to make the caramel ahead of time so it can set firm.  This only takes a few hours but I made it a day ahead so I could forget about it.  You can also make the puddings the day ahead and keep in the fridge.  If you remember put the caramel in the freezer when you start making the puddings just to give them an extra chill – this keeps the sauce together rather than it melting straight into the puddings.  Miss the salt out if you think you or your children would prefer Caramel Chocolate Fondants.

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons double cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sea salt

85g butter, plus a little extra for greasing

85g chocolate, I used 50/50 dark and milk

85g golden caster sugar

1 teaspoon cocoa

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon coffee

45g plain flour

Pinch of salt

Heat the butter, sugar and cream in a pan and let it simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the vanilla and a good pinch of salt.  When it is cold enough to taste try it, you may want more salt then put this caramel in a small bowl in the fridge to set.  Grease 4 metal pudding tins with the melted butter then dust each one with cocoa.  Put in the fridge until you need them.   Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water.  Whisk the eggs and sugar together until pale, frothy and at least doubled in volume.  Mix the chocolate mixture into the eggs, add the coffee and then gently fold in the flour along with a pinch of salt.   Half fill each greased tin with the chocolate mixture then add a teaspoonful of the cold caramel, it may sink a bit but don’t worry.  Pour the remaining mix over the caramel to fill the tins.  Put the puddings into the fridge for at least half an hour whilst you preheat the oven to 200.  Cook the puddings for exactly 12 minutes, then remove from the oven, turn out onto plates and serve with cream or ice cream.  This makes  four but it is up to you how many it serves…..

Salted Caramel Chocolate Fondant 2

 

Mint Chocolate Drops

Mint Chocolate Drops

Chocolate and Mint is a match (Matchstick) made in heaven, a truly great combination.  For as long as I can remember I have loved that marriage of fresh, clean, cool mint and rich, smooth melty chocolate.  From After Eights liberated on the quiet from their box in the dining room to that crazy Ice Breaker of the 70’s – ludicrously sharp little peppermint shards incased in chocolate – remember that one?  I loved the look of Bendicts Bittermints and though I tried them regularly, desperate to enjoy their sophistication, the super bitter dark chocolate proved an effective barrier between the young me and the soft mint patty within.  Fry’s Peppermint Cream, Mintolas and Mint Aero – don’t believe I’ve ever turned my nose up at any of the above.  Continuing the theme, my parents even had a bottle of Royal Mint Chocolate Liquer – very racy.

So I thought I’d make my own and could it be any easier?  Melt some chocolate, add a little peppermint extract, drop spoonfuls on parchment, let it cool.

Can that be called a recipe?  No, honestly it is just too ridiculously simple but that is pretty much it.  My children love making (and eating) these and they are superb as a present when you go to someone’s house for lunch or supper.  Fun to make during the Easter holidays or afterwards if you need something to do with the surfeit of chocolate that often lingers after the children have gone back to school.

Finally, if like me you have given up chocolate for Lent, I suggest you stockpile some of these, then set your alarm early on Easter Day and tuck in.

Mint Chocolate Drops 2

Mint Chocolate Drops

I use a combination of milk and plain chocolate as that is what we prefer either in the ratio of 50/50 which the children like or 70 plain 30 milk if you want something a little darker and more bitter to serve after dinner.  All plain chocolate is too bitter for me but, as ever, it is up to you.

For every 65g of chocolate use 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract

Melt the chocolate with the peppermint.  I do this in a bowl over barely simmering water but I believe a microwave is an even better way to melt chocolate (I don’t have one).  Either way do it very gently so the chocolate doesn’t seize.  Drop teaspoonfuls onto parchment and leave to cool.   Don’t put it in the fridge as this makes the chocolate go a little dull.  This amount of chocolate yields about 10 drops.

Lemon Posset

Lemon Posset

Out for a walk one morning last week there were signs of Spring everywhere.  Catkins and pussy willow, primroses, tiny wobbly lambs, the first shoots heralding the wild garlic and even some weeny tadpoles.  There is still a nip in the air, the sort that whilst fresh and invigorating to breathe in still makes you wish you’d worn a hat.  Anyway, it was glorious to be out and about and it got me thinking about lemons.  Of course, lemons.

Now I know that however good the Spring weather here we are unlikely to be surrounded by lemon groves anytime soon but there is something about their zesty, fresh sharpness than is perfect for Spring.  Awakening tired tastebuds which have been spoilt with rich stews and hearty puddings and paving the way for the abundance of crisp, green salad leaves that is Summer.

I must confess to always having lemons in the larder, I know we don’t grow them here but they are an essential in my kitchen and barely a day goes by without the squeezing of a lemon.

Lemon Posset 2

This pudding then is the very essence of Spring.  Retaining a little richness to bolster against the cold but with enough zip and zing to put a spring in your step.  Unbelievably easy, simply a combination of three ingredients which, through some culinary alchemy produce this creamy treat.  I like to serve it with some little crisp biscuits, perhaps the vanilla ones in Biscuits du Jour (November 2012).  These possets would make a great pud after last weeks’ Chicken with Peppers and Onions, and what an easy supper that would be.

Lemon Possets

450ml double cream

100g golden caster sugar

Juice of 2 lemons

Put the cream and sugar into a pan.  Heat to dissolve the sugar and bring to the boil, simmer gently for 3 minutes, add the lemon juice stir well, then pour into 6 x 100ml ramekins or glasses and leave to set.  Serve with crunchy little biscuits.

Lemon Posset 3

 

By the way these are neither too rich nor too sharp for children, my two hovered around whilst I was taking these pictures and happily scoffed one each.

 

Golden Syrup Sponge Puddings

Golden Syrup Sponge

I have avoided making steam puddings because despite finding them irresistible, the whole steaming for hours thing makes me nervous.  Recipes that implore me to keep the water in the pan at a certain level throughout or the pudding may explode make me want to turn the page.  Anything, other than a small child, that requires such focused and constant attention is not for me.  As such I have felt a whole range of  rib sticking treats out of reach unless I want to consider immediate redecoration due to wallpaper peeling from walls because of the steam (no I don’t have wallpaper in my kitchen but it is an image I am unable to shake from my mind) or the afore mentioned explosion and subsequent plastering of sticky dough to the ceiling and walls.

Somewhere along the line though I had heard or read of steaming puddings in the oven and had been meaning to try this for ages.   I regularly tear recipes from magazines and have stacks of these torn out pages waiting to be tried.  Of course, when I tried to find the bit of paper I wanted it was nowhere to be found (nor the beetroot, chocolate and yogurt cake which had been on my to do list for some months but more of that another time) so I had to experiment.

This is the result and I can’t convey to you how utterly delighted I am with it.  These puddings are a doddle to make, happily transform themselves in the oven and require no attention or subsequent redecoration.  They are unbelievably light and fluffy whilst still delivering that lip smacking golden syrup heavenly hit.    We had these for lunch on Sunday and were all literally a second away from licking the plates.

If there was ever a recipe to cheer up a cold, dreary and rain sodden January this is it.

Golden Syrup Sponge 2

Golden Syrup Sponge Puddings

I used 150ml metal pudding moulds and ramekins and they both worked very well.  Incidentally I reheated the two that were left in a pan of simmering water for five minutes the next day and they were still perfect.   Serve with cold cream or ice cream (or both).

120g soft butter

100g caster sugar

120g self-raising flour

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract

2 tablespoons milk

Pinch of salt

6 tablespoons of golden syrup

Preheat the oven to 180 and butter 6 moulds or ramekins then put a tablespoon of golden syrup in the bottom of each one.  You will also need 6 pieces of tin foil big enough to loosely cover the puddings.   Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy, add the eggs one at a time with a little flour and mix well followed by the remaining flour and salt.  Add the vanilla and milk and incorporate it.  Divide the mixture between the moulds and then cover with the prepared tin foil, fix it loosely so they have room to rise a little.  Put into a baking tray, pour in boiling water to half way up the ramekins or moulds and bake for 40 minutes.  When done, run a knife around the edge of the puddings and turn out onto a plate being careful not to spill any of the hot runny syrup or burn yourself with it.  Serves 6.

Golden Syrup Sponge 3