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Tiramisu February 19, 2010

Posted by Helen in dessert.
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Another recipe from good old Gordon. This is an easy (i.e., cheat) tiramisu recipe, but it still tastes positively decadent and is definitely not light on calories either. But I think it’s well worth it.













250g mascarpone
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp Marsala (or brandy or Tia Maria)
150ml strong coffee or espresso, cooled to room temperature
150ml single cream
4 tbsp icing sugar
16 sponge fingers (savoiardi) 
Chocolate (at least 70%), to grate
Cocoa powder, to dust

Whisk the mascarpone with the vanilla and Marsala and 50ml coffee, until everything is thoroughly mixed together.

Whisk the cream with the icing sugar until smooth, then fold in the mascarpone mix.

Pour the remaining coffee into a bowl (sweeten with more icing sugar if you like). Take one sponge finger at a time and dip it in to the coffee. Set it to one side and continue with the remaining biscuits

Line 4 serving glasses or bowls with 4 sponge fingers, breaking them in half if you need to. Spoon the mascarpone mix in until you reach the top of the glass. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse.

Remove the tiramisu from the fridge. Grate a little chocolate over the top of each one. Finally, dust with sifted cocoa powder to serve.


Lemon drizzle cake January 17, 2010

Posted by Helen in cakes, dessert.
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I love anything with lemon in it, and this cake from Olive magazine didn’t disappoint.  With its soft crumbly inside and sugary crunchy lemony topping … just heavenly with a big mug of coffee on a chilly afternoon.










225g butter, softened
225g caster sugar
Lemons, 3 zested, 2 juiced
4 medium eggs, lightly whisked
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g ground almonds
Icing sugar

Preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan). Butter and line the base of a 20cm cake tin. 

Beat the butter and caster sugar in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Add the lemon zest (reserving some for the topping) and mix well. Whisk the eggs gradually into the butter mixture, beating well between each addition – don’t worry if it curdles.

Sift together the flour and baking powder and fold into the cake mixture using a large metal spoon or spatula. Add the ground almonds and ¾ of the lemon juice, and fold until thoroughly combined. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out without any raw mix on it.

Put the cake tin on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile mix together the remaining lemon juice and zest and enough icing sugar to make a runny icing and then drizzle over the top of the cake. Cool in the tin for a further 30 minutes and then remove from the tin and cool completely before serving.

Serve as a pudding, dressed up with a dollop of crème fraîche.

The world’s best brownies December 30, 2009

Posted by Helen in cakes, chocolate, cookies, dessert.

Brownie recipes are like men. You go through a lot of them in a lifetime, searching for that perfect one. Along the way, you find some that are quite good and some that are so dreadful you never want to see them again. Most fall somewhere in between – they’re pleasant enough, but you probably wouldn’t bring them home to your mother. No matter how many disasters you come across, you’re still willing to put yourself out there and search for the elusive “one.” You read coookbooks and surf the web in desperation – the cook’s equivalent of online dating. But then … then … all of a sudden one comes along that completely changes your life. That’s how it was for me when I encountered Nigel Slater’s Very Very Good Brownie recipe a few years ago. It was lust at first sight. How could I possibly resist a recipe which fed me such smoothly seductive lines as, “This isn’t just gastroporn, this is positively pay-per-view,” and “What I want is the mother of all brownies – pure, dense and unapologetically raunchy.” Swoon. I know now that I’ll never ever look at another brownie recipe again. I’m a changed woman. A one-recipe woman.











300g golden caster sugar
250g butter
250g chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
3 large eggs + 1 extra egg yolk
60g flour
60g finest quality cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder

You will need a baking tin, about 23cm x 23cm, preferably non-stick, or a small roasting tin.

Set the oven at 180°C/Gas 4. Line the bottom of the baking tin with baking parchment. Put the sugar and butter into the bowl of a food mixer and beat for several minutes till white and fluffy.

Meanwhile, break the chocolate into pieces, set 50g of it aside and melt the rest in a bowl suspended over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water. As soon as the chocolate has melted remove it from the heat. Chop the remaining 50g into gravel-sized pieces.

Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat them lightly with a fork. Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder and mix in a pinch of salt. With the food mixer running slowly, introduce the beaten egg a little at a time, speeding up in between additions. Remove the bowl from the mixer to the work surface, then mix in the melted and the chopped chocolate with a large metal spoon. Lastly, fold in the flour and cocoa, gently and firmly, without knocking any of the air out. Scrape the mixture into the prepared cake tin, smooth the top and bake for 30 minutes. The top will have risen slightly and the cake will appear slightly softer in the middle than around the edges.Pierce the centre of the cake with a fork – it should come out sticky, but not with raw mixture attached to it. If it does, then return the brownie to the oven for three more minutes. It is worth remembering that it will solidify a little on cooling, so if it appears a bit wet, don’t worry.

I’m in love.

Budino di cioccolato November 26, 2009

Posted by Helen in chocolate, dessert.
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Budino di cioccolato is, according to Nigella, the Italian name for these very rich chocolate puddings. The recipe is from Nigella Express. Essentially, they’re chocolate mousse without the fluffy egg whites, so you wind up with a very dense pudding instead. Personally, I prefer the bubbly Aero-Bar-ishness of chocolate mousse and I found these a bit too thick and cloying, so I don’t think I’ll be making them again.








250ml full-fat milk
125ml double cream
60g caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
35g cocoa powder
2 tbsps boiling water
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
60g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), finely chopped

Warm the milk and cream together in a saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave.

Put the sugar and cornflour into another saucepan and sieve in the cocoa powder. Add the 2 tbsps of boiling water and whisk to a  paste. Whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time, followed by the warmed milk and cream, then the vanilla extract.

Scrape down the sides of the pan and put it on a lowish heat, cooking and whisking for about 3-4 minutes until the mixture thickens to a mayonnaise-like consistency.

Take off the heat and whisk in the chopped chocolate, before pouring into 4 small cups or glasses.

Cover the tops of the cups or glasses with clingfilm, letting the clingfilm rest on the chocolate surface to stop a skin from forming. Once they’re cooler,  refrigerate. Make sure they’re not still fridge-cold when you serve them.

I served mine in small cups and saucers with a dollop of cream (whipped with a little icing sugar) on top and a couple of Amaretti biscuits on the side.