Everyone says that they have the best brownie recipe. Literally everyone in the world. However, the fact is; they lie. Barefacedly. Because, in fact, I have the best brownie recipe in the world.
I don't pretend any superiority with this statement. The fact it - the credit is not due to me, but to Nigella, my friend Katy and to Chance itself. Katy was cooking Nigella's acclaimed Snow Flecked Brownies, commonly considered the second best brownies in the world, for some friends one evening. On putting in the salt for them, she slipped. Slipped and dropped a whole heaped teaspoon's worth in of chunky, Maldon sea rock salt. Disastrous. But not so. We discovered that actually - they were amazing. Deep, intense, richer-than-Croesus chocolate, melting, melting onto your tongue, suddenly juxtaposed with a sharp zing of intense salt as a flake flicks. A veritable orgasm.
Doubters, go on and hate. But have a mouthful and you'll soon be singing PRAISE to the Nigella Fortune salty gods. I'd like to think I'd get a mention too.
PS- make sure to use really good quality chocolate and it has to be good chunky sea salt too.
Ingredients (makes about 16 brownies):
370g unsalted butter
370g good quality dark chocolate
340 caster sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
210g plain flour
1 heaped teaspoon of Maldon sea salt (or good quality sea salt flakes)
250g good quality white chocolate, chopped
1. Preheat your oven to 180 Celsius and line the sides and base of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking tin with baking paper.
2. Set up a bain marie. This is a saucepan with a couple of inches of water boiling in it with a heat proof bowl set over the top. It allows you to melt things not using direct, too fierce heat. Put your butter and dark chocolate into the bowl and melt over low heat.
3. Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together in a separate bowl until smooth.
4. Once your chocolate and butter has melted and cooled a little add gradually to the egg, sugar mixture and beat together. Fold in the flour and salt and then stir in the white chocolate chunks.
5. Stir to combine and pour into the baking tin. Bake for around 25 minutes, certainly no longer. When they are ready the top is a slightly paler brown 'speckle' and the middle should be dark, dense, gooey and almost raw. Keep checking on it - if they look ready before 25 minutes is reached, after about 18, take them out. Different ovens cook faster and the worst thing you can do with these brownies is over cook them! They turn dry in a matter of minutes and they'll keep cooking in the pan anyway, even out of the oven, so don't be afraid of them being underdone - you want them gooey!
6. Leave to cool for a while and serve while still warm, cut up into squares. Or you can leave to cool to room temperature. Either works, either is delicious.
Thanks Nigella, thank you Katy, thank you Fortuna.
Forgive me for this recipe. I only graduated 6 months ago; the student is still strong in me. Ahh, the days of punch, spiked with miscellaneous alcohols, still reek strong in my nostrils and consequently combining rum and cognac in an ice cream seemed like a great idea to me. And guess what - it tastes bloody good too, so pipe down. Warmth that steams up your sternum, spreading along the ribs, heating the throat. All washed down by lots of cream. Double cream. Greg Wallace, eat your heart out. Oh, except don't - you're the face of Weight Watchers now apparently. All this with a bit of bites from the hazelnuts. Altogether quite a delicious ice cream.
Brilliant alone, or as a side to something like apple tart.
Ingredients (makes about 1 litre):
550ml thick double cream
225 ml milk
60 ml cognac
60 ml rum (dark or amber - not light)
200g caster sugar
Required - an ice cream machine.
1. Heat a frying pan (no oil) over medium/high heat. Tip in the hazelnuts and toast, tossing, until golden brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes. If they have their skins on, wrap in a tea towel and steam for a few minutes, then rub with the towel to scrub off the skins. Chop coarsely. Set to one side to cool.
2. Whisk the eggs until pale and frothy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar, whisking, until fully combined and then whisk for another 2 minutes until pale and frothy and thick.
3. Add the cream, milk and alcohols and whisk to combine.
4. Tip the liquid into your ice cream machine and churn following the instructions specific to your machine. Churn to freeze. Once churned place in the freezer for about 2 hours to firm up so you can scoop it.
Sooooo.....my family got me the best present ever this Christmas. My very own ice cream machine :). I was incredibly pleased. A double edged present of sorts. Obviously, it's fabulous. The ability to make any ice cream or sorbet I want - and it's a really good machine. But on the other hand, it definitely marks the beginning of the end for my attractiveness and ability to attract men. No more will this bottom pertly beckon the male species from its 29 inch levis....though let's be honest....29 was always a rarity. At least a buxom bosom is a possibility. Look on the bright size, ey! And with all the cream and dairy I'll be consuming, at least I'll have good strong teeth and bones, clothed by walrus-cine layers of flabular insulation. And yes, I made the word flabular up.
This is the first ice cream of many to come. I love coffee ice cream and this is a good recipe for it - not too sweet, quite bitter which is how I like it. Still almost needlessly creamy though. Classic and delicious. I hope you enjoy!
Sadly you do need an ice cream machine for this - it needs to be churned as it cools, otherwise it will develop ice crystals within it that make the mixture gritty, not smooth. You can get basic ones off Amazon for about 20 pounds. The more basic ones have bowls that you freeze first, then attach to the machine. Better, more expensive, ones don't require this, but either work just as well in the end.
Recipe based on the one from the Ben and Jerry's recipe book - but I prefer my coffee ice cream stronger than theirs.
Ingredients (makes about 1 quart/ 1.1 litre):
550ml double cream
2 large free range eggs
150g white caster sugar
225 ml milk (semi or whole)
120ml strong espresso coffee (try to use real coffee, from grain or beans - not instant)
Tip: chill your liquid ingredients first. The colder the ingredients at the point of churning them, the faster they freeze and the fewer ice crystals.
1. In a mixing bowl whisk the two eggs until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add in the sugar, continuously whisking until fully combined. Whisk for a further 1 minute. You'll see that it will have thickened considerably and be a pale yellow.
2. Add the cream, milk and coffee and whisk to combine.
3. Taste - see if you want more coffee adding. Maybe a wee nip of brandy or whisky too!
4. Pour into your ice cream machine and churn according to your machine's instructions- mine takes about 50 minutes.
5. Want it served soft - dig in immediately. I prefer mine a little harder - when it first comes out it will be very soft. If you want it firmer so you can scoop it, tip into a container and freeze for a further 2 hours or so. Serve and love.
Sticky Toffee Pudding; the dream (of the most sordid kind), the obsession, the way to any individual's heart. Name me one man, celebrity or not, that I could not snare with this dessert. I'll beat you to it and name him first, 90% Gok Wan. Jokes aside, this pudding really is the best. Comforting when you need it, luxurious when you want it and not too difficult to whip up.
I adapted this recipe from James Martin's. He is such a filthy dessert slut and everything he touches, buttered and larded up, turns to cholesterol evoking, slutty gold. I adore him. He knows it too. Kind of awkwardly actually. I've always had a bit of a thing about him. Well, moer than a bit. I just, and am backed up by my mother (see - I'm not crazy), think that we might just be destined to be together. He is from my part of Yorkshire. He likes big, fat bottomed desserts, butter butter butter and fast cars. Ideal. AND, and I'll be the first to admit that here it gets a little weird, he looks exactly like one of my ex-boyfriends, also from Yorkshire. Like, bloodily weirdly like one. Sooooo....having pretty much decided it was fate, it could only have been destiny that brought him into my orbit at the BBC Good Food Show in Glasgow last year. Like from a romantic scene in a movie he came into my sight....dry ice billowed, time slowed. It was time. Time for me to prey, to make my move. Like a sexy panther I stalked my way into his path. I knew with all certainty that our eyes would meet and that would be that. Yorkshire manor, unlimited cake, zero shame over an ever growing bottom, because his would always be larger. Perfect. BAM -destiny beckoned, suddenly he was a metre away from me and I, I...I shouted out 'I LOVE YOU' into his startled, poor, dear, slowly becoming appalled face.
To cut a long story short, though actually it was over within the brief 5 seconds it took for his security to whisk him away from the obviously deranged crazy person in his way, my bid for James Martin's heart failed. Now all I have to remember him by is this recipe and his ever growing jowls on Saturday Kitchen every weekend. It's not too sad though: it's a good recipe and soz, Jamesey, my sauce is better.
Serve with cream or vanilla ice cream.
Ingredients (Serves about 8):
55g/2oz butter, plus extra for greasing
170g/6oz demerera sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
2 free-range eggs
2 tbsp black treacle
200g/7oz self raising flour, plus extra for flouring
200g/7oz pitted dates
290ml/10fl oz boiling water
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp vanilla extract
110ml Double Cream
55g Caster Sugar
1 tbsp Black Treacle
2 tbsp Golden Syrup
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Grease and flour a rectangle cake tin, 12 inch, (or 6 individual moulds).
2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a food processor until pale and fluffy. Make sure you cream it really well - this means that you'll get a nice smooth, light and airy sponge. Process or beat it for about 6 minutes. Add the golden syrup, treacle and eggs, a little at a time, and blend until smooth. Add the flour and blend, at a low speed, until well combined. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Meanwhile, blend the dates and boiling water in a food processor to a smooth purée. Stir in the bicarbonate of soda and vanilla. It'll all puff up and go all spongey with air - this is great, it and the self raising flour will make it rise.
4. Pour the date mixture into the pudding batter and fold until well combined.
5. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is springy and golden-brown. If the top is browning too much, cover it with some tin foil.
6. To make the sauce, make a caramel by putting the sugar and water into a pan and leaving, without touching, over medium heat until the water has evaporated, the sugar has turned and an amber caramel has been formed. This will take a while but don't you dare leave it. Keep your eye on it like a hawk or it will burn! The first thing that will happen is you'll see the syrup thickening. Then it'll start going a little amber. Don't stir it, just swirl the pan if anything to make it brown evenly. If you stir it it can make it all crystallize and be ruined. Once it reaches a deep toffee amber, and about 180 Celsius incidentally, it is ready for the next stage. Have a gander below for some photographic aids of what to look out for.
7. Add in the other ingredients and stir into a sauce. Season with a pinch of salt.
8. Slice the sponge. Heat for 10 seconds if needed in the microwave, or the hot sauce will heat it up, drizzle VERY liberally with the sauce and serve. Delicious.
black treacle in
in with eggs
mmm nice and airy
dates and bicarbonate in
sponge cooked and out
first stage. water has evaporated and you are left with a sugar syrup. About 110 celsius.
sugar turning, going amber, about 160celsius
the perfect colour. now add other sauce ingredients.
butter et al in
drizzle and SCOFF
This year for Halloween something a little bit different was cooking up in the FoodGoblin kitchen. Spending hours whittling faces into Pumpkins around the kitchen table isn’t really my thing; good time that could have been spent eating wasted, if you ask me. Plus I was taxed to come up with something tasty and Halloween themed to cook for the cooking radio show that I present on, In Good Taste at Zone One Radio. Not a lover of American style pumpkin pie – claggy and bland in my opinion – I decided to stay away from that and doing something like a soup didn’t feel special enough.
The idea for the recipe came to me from an episode of Australian Master Chef. The contestants in a master class were taught a fig and frangipane tart with a pistachio crumble and the minute it came, glistening and sticky, from the oven my mind was consumed with desire to immediately possess it. Possess it in my stomach. I adapted it to form this recipe. Sweet, rich, toffee glazed pumpkin, nutty almond, soft frangipane and tart raspberry, deliberately unsweetened, washing through it all. Texture from the crumble. Fool proof pastry with not even the barest sign of a soggy bottom. It came out really really well and if you follow the recipe to the tee – always advisable anyway with pastry dishes – I’m sure it will do for you as well.
Serve with clotted cream or perhaps a Chantilly and with spare raspberry coulis on the side.
Ingredients (Serves 6-8):
120g unsalted butter, chopped
30g icing sugar
Pinch of salt
240g plain flour
1 egg, plus 1 yolk
125g butter, softened
125g caster sugar
125g ground almonds
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tablespoon rum/amaretto/brandy
1/2 one small pumpkin
caster sugar - extra
butter - extra
2 punnet raspberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
40g caster sugar
30g butter, chilled and cubed
1 handful porridge oats or muesli
1. Preheat your oven to 180 Celsius. Scoop the seeds out of the pumpkin and the pulp. remove the skin. Slice the flesh into small, 2cm diced, cubes. Scatter on a baking tray and sprinkle with lots of caster sugar and dot cubes of butter around. Don't worry about measuring either - just scatter the sugar until it lightly coats all of the pumpkin, and add about 3 tablespoons of the butter. Place into the oven and bake until soft and caramelised, about 30 minutes. If the pumpkin is looking a bit dry, add more butter and if it isn't caramelising and turning golden brown and sweet, sprinkle more sugar. Remove from the oven and set to one side to cool.
2. For the crumble topping: lower the oven to 160 Celsius. Process the butter, sugar and flour until it forms the texture of breadcrumbs. Leave a few larger lumps of butter and don't worry about getting it all uniform. If you don't have a processor use your finger tips to rub it all together. Stir in some porridge or muesli oats. Lay on a baking tray on baking paper and put in the oven, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes, until the crumble is golden. Set to one side and cool.
3. For the pastry: in a food processor (or in a large bowl using a whisk or fork) cream the butter, sugar and salt together until it is pale, fluffy and creamy, about 4 minutes. Don't skimp on this stage. Add the flour and process into rough breadcrumbs. Add the egg and egg yolk and process to form a soft dough. If it is too wet add some more flour. Form into a lump with your hands, place on a floured surface and lightly press into a rectangle. Wrap in cling film and put into the fridge for 3o minutes to cool.
4. Remove from the fridge, place on a floured surface and roll out to about 3mm thick. Take a 20 inch (ish) metal pastry fluted tart tin with a removable bottom, buttered and dusted with flour. Lay the pastry into it, patching any holes that might form with spare pastry. Push the pastry into all the corners and drape the pastry over the edges. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes. Place baking paper on top and fill with baking beans, or dry lentils/rice (something that won't burn in the oven). Place into the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until the pastry is starting to turn a light golden. Then remove the beans and paper and return to the oven for a further 5 to brown the bottom of the pastry and to avoid the dreaded soggy bottom! This process is known as blind baking - you do it so that the pastry is already cooked with the filling goes in and so ends up crisp, cooked all through and not at all soggy!
5. To make the frangipane: blend/mix all of the frangipane ingredients into a smooth paste.
6. To make the raspberry coulis: blend raspberries and the lemon juice until smooth. Pass through a sieve to remove the pips and refrigerate until needed.
7. Spread the frangipane into the tart. Take the caramelised pumpkin and press it into the frangipane. Then press in whole raspberries. Take the filled tart and place into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until the frangipane is lightly browned and cooked just through, but is still a little wobbly. If the pastry starts to get too dark, cover with tin foil. Remove from the heat and brush with honey.
8. Use a knife to trim the overhanging pastry edges off and neaten the edges. Spoon a few drizzles of the raspberry coulis on the top of the tart and scatter the crumble.
poke it in
fresh from the oven
Everyone's got to love a good cheesecake. I'm not sure I've met anyone before who doesn't. I think they live in segregated communities somewhere, somewhere shit. There's that thing, isn't there, that Peter Kay does. Cheese...in a cake. But nobody actually believes that, right? I can't imagine so. Anyway, cheesecakes come in tonnes of ways - baked, set, flavoured, plain - you name it! This one is a baked one - it makes it denser, more luxurious, creamier and heavier. This is not a light dessert. But it is a goodun. The banana through the mix gives it a bit of a warm lightness and the base is fabulous - spiced with ginger, caramel crunch of nut. Mmm. It is a take on a banoffee pie - I was cooking for someone who said they loved cheesecakes and banoffee pie - thought I'd kill two birds with one stone! Based and adapted from a Delia recipe. What a babe.
Serve with PLENTY of the caramel sauce. Serve it on the side in buckets.
Ingredients (serves about 8):
250g ginger nut biscuits
100g pecans, toasted
80g butter, melted
1 tablespoon lemon juice
350g cream cheese
200g fromage frais
175g caster sugar
150g caster sugar
150ml double cream
few drops vanilla essence
Garnish - 2 bananas, sliced. Milk chocolate, melted and drizzled.
1. Heat an oven to 150 Celsius. Crush the biscuits with a rolling pin in a bag, or process into crumbs. Crush the toasted pecans roughly and combine in a bowl with the biscuits. Add the melted butter and combine. Press into the bottom of a lightly buttered 20-24 cm baking tin with a removable base.
2. Place in the oven and leave for about 10 minutes, until dried and solidified a bit.
3. In a food processor, blend the bananas and the lemon juice until smooth. Add the cream cheese, fromage frais, sugar and eggs and blend until smooth and combined.
4. Pour over the tin with the biscuit base already in. Place in the oven and bake for an hour. Keep an eye on it - if the top is browning, cover with tin foil. Then turn the oven off and leave in the oven until it is completely cool - Delia says that this stops it cracking and I am inclined to agree.
5. To make the sauce: make a caramel with the water and sugar. To do this; place both in a sauce pan and put over medium high heat. Keep your eye on it - watch it like a hawk in fact - until it becomes thicker, starts to bubble, and turns a caramel, toffee color. Basically what is happening here is that the water evaporates, leaving solely a sugar syrup which then evenly starts to rise to very high temperatures, eventually turning from transparent to toffee colour when it 'turns'. Literally don't take your eye of it - it'll burn if you do! And do not at any point stir it with a spoon. If you put a spoon in it the sugar molecules tend to solidify around it and crystalise, turning your caramel into a solid mess. To make it 'turn' evenly, when colour starts to show, swirl your pan. Have a peek at the photos below- you'll see what it looks like just before it starts to turn.
6. Add the butter, swirl to combine and you can stir with a metal spoon at this point. It will bubble up like mad - be brave. Add the cream and vanilla and stir to combine, still over heat.
7. Decorate the top of the cheesecake with the sliced banana. Drizzle the top of your cheesecake with the caramel sauce and then with the melted chocolate. Serve with more sauce on the side.
ready to go into the oven
baked and bare
sugar syrup justttt before it turns!
quite an attractive cheesecake, I'd say
A very pretty, very dainty little canape to be munched with drinks or before (or after) a meal! Feel free to adapt this to make one large Pavlova, if you like. It tastes just as good. Swap in and out the raspberry and pistachios as you like.
Ingredients (Makes about 24 canapes):
For the meringue:
4 egg whites
225 caster sugar
1 teaspoon cornflour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
400ml double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 punnet raspberries, halved
50g pistachios, toasted and crushed
1. Preheat an oven to 150 Celsius and line a tray (you'll probably need two) with baking parchment.
2.Place the egg whites into a large bowl and with electric beaters beat the egg whites until the form stiff peaks. Stiff peaks are when they form foamy mountains in the bowl that when the bowl is held upside down, do not fall out.
3. Gradually add the sugar, while whisking until it forms glossy, shiny, beautiful to look at peaks. Whisk in the cornflour and vanilla extract.
4. Spoon the mix into a piping bag. Carefully pipe mounds of the meringue onto the baking tray, swirling up to form little piles with peaks. See the photos below to get a guide on what shape you are aiming for. If you don't have a piping bag you can either: a) use a strong plastic bag that has good corners - spoon it into a corner, twist it so that it is tight and conical and then snip off the corner and use it like a piping bag. OR, b) use a table spoon and carefully spoon it onto the parchment, then adding another spoon on top and swirling the meringue with the back of the spoon to form a nice, meringue like pattern. Try and get a nice peak on the mound too.
NB - if you are making one large pavlova use a spoon to ladle it all onto the baking parchment and swirl into a large circle.
5. Place into the oven and bake for 40 minutes. They should be slightly coloured and crisp on top. Then turn the heat off and leave in the oven for a further 30 minutes.
NB - if you are making one large pavlova bake for 1 hour, and leave with the oven switched off for one further hour.
6. Place the cream into a bowl and whisk until it is thickened. Mix in the vanilla extract.
7. Spoon the cream neatly on top of the meringues. Place on top the raspberries, about 2 or 3 halves to each meringue, and then scatter the pistachios over the top.
whisked up egg whites and sugar - STIFF PEAKS!
piped meringues :D
Its always nice to have a cake around the house. This is a particularly nice one, I think. The rum and raisins give it a bit of warmth, the pineapple curd is sweet, sharp and unctuous and the cream cheese in the icing is almost savoury - less sickly than a butter frosting, tastier, in my opinion. I can't eat butter frosting by itself...too sweet...but this, I could eat a bowl of it.
I hope you all enjoy it as much as my friends and I have!
RecipeIngredients (Makes about a 12 slice cake):For the cake (times these quantities by 2 - you will make 2 of these): 200g caster sugar2 eggs115g butter, room temperature200g plain flour
, sieved or (quick tip) whisked - both do exactly the same thing.1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder120 ml milk1 teaspoon vanilla extract1 teaspoon rum flavouring1 lemon, zest only1 large handful of raisins150g pistachio nuts, toasted in a dry pan and roughly crushedFor the icing:200g cream cheese400g icing sugar (approximately)1 teaspoon rum flavouringa few drops of vanilla extractFor the Pineapple curd: (see here for the recipe also)1 pint pineapple juice6 egg yolks5 tablespoons cornflour170g caster sugarOptional: 1 lemon, juice ofMethod:1. For the cake:
Grease and line a 20cm cake tin. Heat the oven to 180 Celsius. 2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl or processor until very pale and fluffy. You'll have to beat it for about 5 minutes to make sure it is properly creamed. Don't skip on this stage, it helps make your cake light and really makes a difference. 3. Gradually add the eggs and beat until combined. 4.
Mix the flour and baking powder in a bowl until combined. Gradually combine with the butter, egg, sugar mixture until smooth, no lumps. 5. Add the lemon zest, flavourings and raisins and
combine evenly. 6. Pour into the cake tin and bake in the middle of the oven for about 30 minutes. To test if it is done insert a skewer into the centre - when cooked it should be clean when removed, not coated in batter. The top of the cake should be a light golden brown. Check it after about 15 minutes; if it is looking like it is getting a bit dark, cover the top with some tin foil to stop it browning further. 7. Remove from the oven and cool. As soon as possible remove from the tin to stop it cooking further. Leave to c
ool completely. 8. Repeat steps 1-7 to produce a second identical cake, to make a two layer cake. If you prefer just slice the first cake in half, but I like a quite towering, impressive double layer cake and so normally make 2.
If the cakes aren't totally flat on the top, slice it with a knife to make it totally flat so they can be stacked on top of each other.9. For the Pineapple curd:
combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan. Place over medium heat and continuously whisk until it thickens. It should form an even, lump free, fairly thick curd. Leave to cool. If needed add a bit of lemon juice at the end to make it a bit sharper. 10. Spread the curd on top of one of the cakes. You shouldn't need all of it - maybe about half, but depending on personal preference.
Place the 2nd cake on top.11. For the icing:
whip the cream with the icing sugar and flavourings until smooth and evenly combined. Add the icing sugar gradually and taste constantly until you think it is sweet enough. You want it to retain a little bit of savoriness and to not be too sickly sweet. It should be fairly thick too, though it will not be as thick as a butter icing. 12. To ice the cake: dollop a large ladle of the icing on top of the cake
and spread it over the top. Then spread a thin layer of the icing around the sides. It is a fairly runny icing and so will never be totally picture perfect, but gradually layer up on the sides so that all the cake is covered. An easy way of getting it on the sides is to place a large spoon of it on the top by the edge, and to let it drip down the sides, guiding it and spreading it with your spatula as it descends. Repeat this around the whole cake until it is covered. If you are having issues getting it spread on the sides, do one layer and then put it in the fridge for a bit, then repeat. The lower temperature firms up the icing, making it easier to spread upon. Try and get it as smooth as possible.13. Scatter the toasted, cooled, crushed pistachio nuts on top of the cake, leaving the sides bare. 14. Serve! Delicious with cream, ice cream or simply a cup of tea.
Mixing the ingredients
The two halves
Spreading the pineapple curd
Top back on...
do the sides...
The view from the inside
Pralines are a traditional Creole confectionery item, famed for their moreish sweetness and nutty crunch. They derive their name from Marshal Luplesis-Praslin whose butler invented the recipe for pralines as a digestive aid.
Essentially pralines are a sort of rustic, caramel based fudge, mixed with pecans and set into disks. They are absolutely delicious as a sweet snack but, made smaller, could even be used as canapes!
Give them a try - uber easy - and bring a touch of Creole flavour to your life!
Recipe courtesy of the New Orleans School of Cookery.
Ingredients (Makes about 1-50 pralines, depending on size):
1.5 cups white sugar
0.75 cups light brown sugar
0.5 cup milk
6 tbsp butter
1.5 cup pecans, lightly toasted (bake at about 140 Celsius on a tray for about 20 minutes until fragrant and browned)
1 tsp vanilla extract - use good quality - no essence!
1. In a saucepan melt the butter. Once melted add the milk and vanilla. Stir to combine.
2. Add the sugars and the pecans. Using a wooden spoon (don't use metal; it conducts heat too easily and can cause the caramel to harden/be ruined), stir it in.
3. Continue to stir constantly, never leaving it, until the mixture comes to a 'soft ball stage' - this means that when a teaspoon of it is dropped into cold water, if forms a soft ball in the water. Or, more easily, use a sugar thermometer and wait until it reaches 238-240 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Remove it from the heat and continue to stir until the mixture thickens, becomes creamy and a little cloudier and until you can feel sugar crystals starting to form on the sides of the pan. The spoon should make a bit of a rasping sound on the side, brushing against them.
5. Using a spoon (size depending on the size of pralines desired!), spoon portions of it out onto oiled baking paper and set down in a circle shape. Leave to cool, until room temperature and crisp. Serve. These will keep for around 3 days. Delicious.
dolloping the praline on the wax proof paper
I already sang the praises in my previous recipe post on coffee granita
about the wonders of granita. I won't repeat that - it would be over kill on, hopefully, a point already well proved. This particular granita recipe is perhaps my favourite one at the moment. I first discovered it a year ago from a newspaper article quoting the recipe, which I later adapted. I cooked it for a group of boys as the climax to an Indian feast. I flatter myself that afterwards I could, quite comfortably, have had at least 3 marriage proposals in the bag. All you mojito lovers out there - this is essentially your favourite cocktail in dessert form. Sweet, extremely tartly sharp, fresh with mint and argh so so warm with rum - it is good. Perfect for after a heavy meal; after you eat it you'll feel like you simply dined on salads! It is just that fresh! Great for a summer dessert too or even as a mid afternoon treat. I hope you like as much as I do. Note - I upped the dosage of lime juice and rum from the original recipe to make it extra punchy. If you want it less so, leave. If you want it more, right on but you probably don't need it.
Ingredients (Serves 6):
635ml water (2.5 cups)
100g white sugar
zest of 2 limes
40g fresh mint leaves
juice of around 8 limes - but get a few extra so that you can add more, according to taste
5 tablespoons of white rum
1. Place the water and sugar and lime zest into a saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and add all of the mint leaves, bar 5 leaves, and leave to infuse, covered, for 8 minutes.
2. Leave, uncovered, until cooled.
3. Strain into a baking dish/lasagne type tray. Squeeze the mint leaves to make sure that you get out all those precious juices.
4. Stir in the lime juice and rum. Finely chop the remaining mint leaves and stir in too. Taste. Add more lime or rum if required.
5. Place into the freezer and leave for around 30 minutes. Then take a fork and scrape away the forming ice crystals from the edges and break up any larger pieces forming in the middle. Leave for another 30 minutes and repeat. Repeat this until it is all frozen and until you have broken it all up into light, dry and fluffy ice crystals which are intensely flavoured. Approx. 5 hours.
Note - Don't worry if you can't be there every 30 minutes - it just means that you'll have to do some extra strenuous scraping later. I have left it overnight before with no scraping. It emerged as an entire frozen block, but with a LOT of elbow grease and a bit of wastage I managed to turn it into serviceable granita. Try to be there regularly but if it comes to a choice between doing the granita and not doing the granita because you can't be there constantly, definitely do it.
6. Serve. Garnish with a mint sprig.
Infused sugar, water and lime zest
Plus rum, lime juice and mint
beginning to freeze....