I never really appreciated this recipe as a child. What I now recognise as a wonderful firm, velvet texture was chalky and bland to me then (and part of a general dislike of anything ‘creamy’). The genius of the recipe is that it uses good old jelly in place of faffing about with gelatin – hence the ‘filthy’ epithet.
The recipe I wrote down on my last trip home was specifically for an orange version of this, complete with tinned mandarins on top. Yes, I am a child of the 70s. After fiddling around with it, it’s become lime instead.
- 225g digestive biscuits
- 170g melted butter
- 1 packet lime jelly
- juice and zest of 2 limes and 1 orange (to make up 150ml of liquid)
- 225g philadelphia cheese
- 55g caster sugar
- small carton vanilla yoghurt
- 300ml cream (a standard 284ml carton would be fine)
- Dark chocolate for grating
- Batter the digestives into submission inside a sturdy Ziploc bag, using a rolling pin. Empty into a bowl and pour over the melted butter, mix evenly. Press this into the bottom of a springform tin and put into the fridge to chill.
- Heat up the lemon and orange juice in a small saucepan, then add the block of jelly and melt over gentle heat.
- Using a food processor, whizz together the cheese, sugar, yoghurt and melted jelly.
- Whip the cream lightly and fold it into the mixture. Pour it into the prepped tin.
- Allow to set in the fridge. Before serving, remove it from the fridge for 30 minutes. Run a knife around the inside edge to loosen it before removing the springform collar. Grate dark chocolate over the top.
If you’d like a sharper taste, use only lime juice for the 1/4 pint of liquid needed to make up the jelly.
Also I notice in many cheese cake recipes a suggestion to use softened, rather than melted butter, and to pulverise it together with the crumbed biscuits in a food processor. I’ll be trying that next time. I’ve made a thicker base, you could easily reduce the amounts by a third which might be better balanced. But when it comes to cheesecake, it’s hardly about balance, right?
I made this huge batch of nougat the other day. It tasted great. It also had its own personality. It was a bit of a free spirit – actually it was kind of sleazy. It wanted to throw itself all over the kitchen, over me, and just coudn’t take no for an answer. The Blob of the candy world, it just wanted to keep oozing, and oozing… I will give it another go soon but in need of a quick-fix gift in the meantime, I opted for honeycomb instead. It’s safe and sure – well apart from when you throw in the bicarb and it threatens to flow over the side of the saucepan like molten lava…
There are tons of recipes out there and I went with more or less the basic one that everyone seems to use.
- 200g caster sugar
- 120g Golden Syrup
- 3 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- As many edible decorations as you can stomach (sorry)
- Mix the sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan. I found it turned into a fudge-like mass. Once it’s on the heat, don’t stir again but swirl it around if necessary.
- When you put the pan on the heat, quickly prepare your baking sheet. Line it with parchment and dust liberally with edible decorations, such as edible Christmas trees, gold stars, and pearlescent glitter. Tasteful is not exactly what you’re going for here.
- Let the mixture melt then come to a bubbling boil, it will darken considerably.
- Don an oven glove if necessary, take the pan off the heat and then dump in the bicarb and whisk briskly. It will mushroom dramatically.
- Pour onto the baking sheet and again, go wild with the glittery stuff. Leave it to set then smash it into pieces. Bag up and give it to people with an attached disclaimer about their fillings.
Lovely Eirlys (aka Scrapiana) generously shared her Carrot Cake recipe with me, and said she didn’t mind if I gave it to you too. This is one of those great cut-and-come-again cakes that keeps well, can be made in advance, and can be tweaked to fit what you’ve got in the fridge. I also like the fact that it has less oil that some recipes I’ve seen, but it’s still spongy, spicy and lovely. The cake in the photograph is a doubling of the recipe below – heartily recommended.
- Carrots 6oz/150g
- 2 eggs
- 4oz/100g brown sugar
- 3 fl oz/75ml sunflower oil
- 4 oz/100g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 oz/50g desiccated coconut or ground almonds
- 2 oz/50g dried fruit as preferred
- Icing: 125g/4oz butter
- 225g/8 oz cream cheese (full fat)
- 250g/1 lb icing sugar
- Zest of 1 lime, and half the juice
- Preheat oven to 190C/350F/Mark 5. Grease & line the base of a 7″ square cake tin, or a small (1 lb) loaf tin.
- Finely grate carrots.
- Whisk eggs and sugar together till thick and creamy. Add oil gradually, whisking well after each addition. Then add remaining ingredients & mix to combine evenly.
- Spoon resulting sloppy mixture into prepared tin. Level surface and bake for 20-25 minutes (though the loaf version will take longer: various wayward ovens through the years have taken an hour) till firm to the touch and golden brown. Cool and spread with icing (optional) or just scoff warm from the tin (my preference).To make the icing: cream the butter and cheese together, then add the sugar, lime juice and zest. Spread over the top, then perhaps decorate with some chopped nuts.
If you’re not able to “donate your face” to Movember this year but you know someone who is and you want to help them with some fundraising, there are lots of brilliant moustache related goodies out there.
I spotted these in Oliver Bonas the other other day - Munchstache Cookie cutters from Fred & Friends. The cutter has an indented pattern on the top so you can flip it over and stamp some beautiful texture on to your Wolford, Baron, or Bristle Brush shaped mo amongst others.
They look super fun, my only reservation might be whether the cut dough comes out easily from the cutter but the stamper means less decorating work to make them look fab.
You could also try the Fuzzy Inc ones which are available via the Movember website – looks like they ship from the US.
Wilton make these rather fab Mustache Molds (note the US spelling if you’re looking for them online!) which could be used with chocolate as well as their candy melts. Not so widely available here with paying a hefty shipping charge, but could be used again and again.
[Edit - it seems that the Munchstaches might be sold out online at Oliver Bonas. Try in the stores or also available here.]
In the UK, all the ‘Mo Bros’ who participate in Movember help to stimulate conversation about men’s health and raise awareness of the most prevalent male cancers, testicular and prostate.
I’ve been meaning to contribute to Sarah’s “Forever Nigella” monthly round-up for ages. I’m a Nigella devotee. Somehow I even seem to have a copy of “Summer Bites” and that book did too, to be honest. More notes space than recipes in there.
This month’s challenge is “Halloween Horrors” with the instructions to take a Nigella recipes and ‘halloween it up’, basically. So let me introduce to you… the Tiny Teeny Halloweeny Pies.
Tiny Teeny Halloweeny Pies
These are a variation on the Star-Topped Mince Pies from Nigella Christmas. I added a healthy helping of chopped stem ginger in syrup to make these a bit more tangy than your average apple pie and put a little powdered ginger into the pastry.
This just about makes 24 Tiny Pies with their scary faces. It also meant I could use the set of miniature Aspic Cutters I bought about ten years ago in Dean & Deluca. On a cost per use basis – well they were still kind of expensive, but still!
- 2 x 12-cup mini pie baking tins
- 1 x 4 or 5 cm round biscuit cutter
- Aspic cutters or a sharp knife and lots of patience
- rolling pin (this is v handy)
- 160g plain flour
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 40g of Trex (vegetable shortening)
- 40ml of orange juice (without bits!)
- pinch of salt
- 2 cooking apples, to yield about 3oog once peeled and cored
- 2 tbsp of soft brown sugar
- 35g of stem ginger, finely chopped
- Sieve the flour and powdered ginger into a shallow bowl. Add the shortening in small lumps and the diced cold butter, toss gently and put it into the freezer for 20 minutes. At the same time, add the salt to the orange juice and chill that in the fridge. Prep the fruit for later.
- Blitz the flour mixture in the food processor until the breadcrumb stage. Add as much of the orange juice as you need to make it almost come together (you might have surplus juice which is fine; if you run out use iced water to finish up).
- On your work surface, work the mixture into a soft dough. Divide into two batches, roughly one third and two thirds of the mix, and wrap in clingfilm to chill for another 20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 220c or Gas Mark 7.
- While the dough is chilling, make your filling. Put the apple, ginger and sugar in a pan with 1tbsp of water and cook down slowly (chop up the apples smaller that I did!) Leave to cool a little while you make the faces and prep the dough cases.
- Use the larger piece of dough for the cases. When rolling out the dough, go as thin as possible – 2mm was what I aimed for. You can patch it up, this dough is pretty forgiving. If you re-roll the scraps enough you will have plenty of dough for 24 mini pies.
- Cut out the cases with the round cutter and lay into the tin holes.
- For the ‘faces’ I had an egg shaped cutter but using a round one, then pulling the face out of shape would be fine. The egg shape worked better sideways too. Use aspic cutters or a knife for the features. Then the leftover triangles you remove can double up as pumpkin stalks.
- Put a half tsp of filling in each one – they bubble over quite a bit.
- Put in the oven and check after 8 minutes. Mine were almost done then – and two more minutes meant they were on the rather well-done side, dammit.
- Decorate with suitable jelly sweets – like the Natural Confectionary Company’s worms, as above.
In hindsight putting some green colouring into the filling would have worked too…if you’re making them for kids you might want to tone down the ginger or add either a dusting of icing sugar or some icing on top.
Looking forward to seeing the rest of the Horrors in the round up! For a slightly healthier treat – well, it does involve more fruit but probably also more sugar – what about Caramel Apples?
PS I notice that Lakeland have something similar to aspic cutters in their Christmas range – Tree Trinket Cutters with mini inserts to stamp out shapes in the interior of the cookie. Melt some boiled sweets in there and you’ve got stained glass cookies!
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a newly-married woman in possession of a good kitchen must be in want of a KitchenAid.
Actually the newly married has nothing to do with it but we finally moved to a house where appliances don’t have to prove their worth by multi-tasking to earn valuable counter space (therefore hello enormo coffee grinder…) and my mother in law brilliantly ordered this for us.
This immediately made me want to make ridiculous things, preferably involving hot sugar. I’m trying to not eat the entire world after being on a hardcore pre-wedding diet, but [serious case of "justification" coming] I’ve had this particular recipe in mind for ages and Halloween was coming…
I worked from the recipe in Matt Lewis and Rene Poliafito‘s Baked book, after seeing them float Titanic-capsizing chunks of fresh vanilla marshmallow into the hot chocolate they serve at their Red Hook bakery last year and being unable to forget them!
Make sure to be particularly pernickety about your mise-en-place for this. Even attempting to be rigorous, I had a few things that I needed to dash and find. Line the tin generously with parchment and clingfilm as you’ll need to grasp it to lever the glorious slab out when it’s set.
- deep 32.5 x 23-centimeter baking pan – I used a roasting tray
- clingfilm and parchment for lining it
- Either spray oil or oil plus a pastry brush – which I used instead of the suggested vegetable shortening in the original recipe
- a medium heatproof bowl for the gelatin, which fits on Saucepan B as below
- 1st small saucepan to melt the sugars mixture – Saucepan A
- 2nd small saucepan to act as a bain marie – Saucepan B
- measuring cups (two sets might be useful)
- stand mixer with whisk attachment fitted
- heatproof spatulas – I like these as they fit in small size measuring cups
- sugar thermometer
- offset spatula
- sieve or sifter
- sharp knife, or for ghosts -
- shaped cookie cutters, toothpicks, black food colouring
- 8 sheets of gelatin
- 2 cups of granulated sugar
- 2 x ½ cups of light corn syrup (which I got in Selfridges but you could use Golden Syrup)
- ½ cup water
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- icing sugar and cornflour mixed together 2:1 for dusting
- Generously line the tin with clingfilm, followed by parchment and either use spray oil to grease, or brush the parchment with oil using a pastry brush.
- Leave the gelatin in a bowl of cold water to soften (make sure the bowl you use will fit snugly on top of Saucepan B in double-boiler fashion for later).
- In Saucepan A, stir together ½ cup of corn syrup, ½ cup of water and all the sugar. Don’t splash it up the sides and make the pan is deep enough to accommodate your sugar thermometer’s bulb! (I had to change pans).
- Put the other ½ cup of corn syrup in the stand mixer.
- When Saucepan B’s water is boiling: get the bowl and drain and wring out the gelatin sheets, then put them back in the bowl and place it on top of Saucepan B. Stir with the spatula til completely melted (it looks quite odd and just when you think it will never melt…)
- Pour that gelatin into the stand mixer with the corn syrup and start whisking on low.
- Skip promptly back to Saucepan A and take it off the heat at “Soft Ball” stage, about 235F. Bring to the mixer, turn the speed to medium then very carefully pour the contents of Saucepan A into the mixer bowl. Then turn the speed to medium/high for five minutes until you see it majestically fluff and expand.
- Quickly add the vanilla and salt, then give it another minute on high.
- Make sure your pan is ready beside you and pour the marshmallow in and spread out. Use the spatula if you must but gently tilting the tin works too.
- Sprinkle the top with sugar. Leave for at least six hours or overnight before attempting to cut it.
- Lift it out of the tin by grabbing the parchment. Flip it over using another board so you can also sugar the bottom. Either cut into large squares or use cookie cutters to cut specific shapes if you like. Toss them in the sugar and cornflour mix to coat them and minimize sticky fingers!
- If using ghost cutters, Draw on their expressions using a toothpick dipped in black food colouring. Then chop the remaining marshmallow into small mini pieces to use as a baking ingredient or scatter over icecream. Store in an airtight tin, good for a week. Or get the hot chocolate ready…
I would say that while it’s not complex to make marshmallows, a stand mixer does make it easier and you have a lot of steps to get through at once, around the critical sugar-boiling stage. Also - hell of a lot of washing up, of sticky gloopy things. But I do think it’s worth it.
I had an idea to make some biscuits to welcome in the Year of the Rabbit – well, mostly I just wanted to make biscuits. Bake something. Partially because I find baking particularly conducive to ‘thinking time’ where my mind wanders off and it’s a great stress-busting exercise as well as being productive. Not forgetting the fact I also have a ridiculously sweet tooth. However, baking generally tends to be easier, and less stressful, when you haven’t forgotten to buy eggs.
The Biscuiteers book came to the rescue with an eggless recipe for Treacle Spice Cookies which I tinkered with to make these golden bunnies. I was so excited when I bought this book – not for the gloriously embellished slices of sugar themselves, more for the comprehensive range of base biscuit recipes (10 in total) because many doughs simply don’t hold up to rolling and cutting. The book itself is more of an artist’s primer in some ways with lots of technique and decoration ideas, and you’ll have to like sugar. Or pretty food. But as usual with Kyle Cathie, it’s beautifully photographed and designed. It probably wouldn’t be the most used cook book on your shelf but hey, just take it down occasionally and look at the pictures.
- 200g plain flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger
- 25g Golden caster sugar
- 25g light brown sugar
- 100g butter, unsalted (not softened)
- hefty pinch of sea salt
- 50g Golden Syrup
- Sift flour, baking powder and spices together and then mix in the sugars.
- Rub the butter in with your fingers as if you were making scone, until it’s like breadcrumbs.
- Make a well in the centre of the incorporated mixture and add in the Golden Syrup and combine to an evenly-coloured dough.
- Divide into two pieces, shape as discs and chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 170c/350F/Gas Mark 4 when the dough is chilling, then cook for 14-18 minutes.
These keep remarkably well. I was going to make a lemon cream filling – but none of them survived long enough to be sandwiched.
The Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits by Harriet Hastings and Sarah Moore is published by Kyle Cathie, ISBN 978 1 85626 941 4.
I’ve never made an apple cake before but it’s autumnlike and blustery and it seemed like a good time. I threw pears into the shopping basket too and when at home, wondered if they wouldn’t work well together, with the right augmentation.
According to Niki Segnit, author of the Flavour Thesaurus, apple can contain surprising elements such as nutmeg and anise, as well as nutty notes near the core which can be reminiscent of almond. She flags apple and pear as a very well established pairing, and quince is another pome fruit. That she credits with apple, pear, rose and honey tastes. Hence the roundabout inspiration for this cake. It’s an adaptation of a recipe by Allegra McEvedy which was in the Guardian, which I went for mainly because of the quick prep and cooking time. It turned out to almost more like a clafoutis than a cake but I thought calling it that would just confuse matters. Not that I encourage this sort of thing, but I imagine it would work well with a dollop of cream and a grating of nutmeg. Or some thin, rich, eggy homemade custard.
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4, 175C. I used a 25cm square tin, and spray oil to grease it.
- 3 eggs, preferably organic
- 150g caster sugar
- 250g flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 150g butter
- 240ml water
- 1 large Bramley apple, chopped
- 2 large Conference pears, chopped
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp Rose Essence
- Light brown sugar to garnish
- Beat the eggs and sugar together until thick
- Sift in the flour and baking powder, using a whisk to mix gently until incorporated
- Melt the butter and honey in the water and add in the mixture
- Drop the fruit into the batter
- Shake sugar over the top
- Bake for 40-50 mins until a cake tester comes out clean, and leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins
- Slice around the edges to free the cake, then upside it onto a plate and flip again so the apples are on top
You may want to tone down the rose but it seemed to go down well with the Baked Goods Tester Panel so I’ve left the quantities as I made it.
I have a problem with bananas. The problem is that I buy them, forget about them and then I’m compelled to bake with them. Yeah, I know, the epitome of firstworldproblems.
This started off as a banana loaf cake idea and then the Green & Black’s cocoa fell out of the cupboard (I really should tidy up more) and it seemed worth trying. Then it turned into pantry cake when I started pulling more things out of the press, including cherries and walnuts. The cherries melt a little like dates and led to the tasters asking if there was booze in there. Not this time….
Makes a 1lb loaf. Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4, 180c.
- 2 ripe bananas
- 35g of slightly salted, very soft butter
- 50g demerera sugar
- 50g soft brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 50g walnuts, chopped
- 50g cherries, chopped (the natural ones)
- 50g chopped dark 70% chocolate
- ½ tsp good vanilla extract
- 75g wholemeal flour
- 30g cocoa powder
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- Mash the bananas and butter together
- Add in the egg, vanilla, sugar, cherries, chopped chocolate and walnuts and mix together
- Sift the flour, cocoa, bicarb and salt together and add into wet ingredients
- Cook in a lined loaf tin for about 45 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean
Improves over a day or two too.
I’m very proud to have a recipe in the new Green & Black’s book. Micah asked me a couple of times for a contribution and I pretended not to hear him as I had absolutely no idea what to make. Eventually I caved and asked was there anything he was missing and after thinking for a couple of minutes, replied “Give me a muffin recipe”.
It was only afterward that I discovered that he’s not exactly a huge fan of the muffin, as describes in the intro to this recipe in the book – though he understands that others feel differently. I tried a number of variations which I presented to him, and the one below was my absolute favourite, they’re light and moist.
Banana Butterscotch Muffins
- 250g wholemeal flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 175 g caster sugar
- 150g butterscotch chocolate or Mini Daim bars, chopped
- 250ml whole milk
- 90ml vegetable oil
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 medium, black-ripe banana
- Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6/200.
- Mix the dry ingredients together.
- Mix the wet ingredients together (I classify banana as ‘wet’).
- Combine but don’t overmix. Line a twelve space muffin tin with paper cases, and divide the mixture between them.
- Cook for 20 minutes.
Muffins are great because they keep well, homemade ones are so infinitely superior to commercially produced ones, and if you add in some dried fruit and use wholemeal flour, you can almost kid yourself that they’re entirely healthy.
I then discovered that Micah loathes bananas with a passion. Needless to say, this isn’t the recipe which features in the book! Instead it’s a more sophisticated affair, dark chocolate and cardamom. Ultimate is packed full of gorgeous concoctions, including Bittersweet Bakers
‘ amazing Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls and lots of recipes which Micah himself perfected – up til the wee hours of the morning sometimes. It’s been a delight to be involved in the smallest way, and for the full scoop on the launch party, check out Catty’s account over on the Catty Life
“Ultimate”, edited by Micah Carr-Hill is published by Kyle Cathie, RRP £16.99