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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Galia Melon Pearls in Pink Champagne Jelly

This dessert is often also used as a starter as it crosses those borders as many fruit dishes tend to do. That said it is a bit of a crowd pleaser and service wise it means preparing beforehand and then simply pulling out of the fridge. The recipe isn't set in stone, you can easily add other fruits that complement melon quite well, and you don't have to use galia melons either. You can use cantelope or honeydew if you wish, or a combination of them, for a variety of colours and textures.

More often than not this appeared on our xmas menus, basicaly because its one of those things that can be done in advance, and during service it was a case of getting it out of the chiller, and dressing up (which could be left to service & waiting on staff, whilst we tackled bigger fish that we had to fry - sometimes literally).

Makes about 6/7 so divide by two for family sized servings


700ml of warm stock syrup (heated water & sugar - would reccomend about 200g sugar)
150ml of 14% abv Pink Cava (or similar)
24 Gelatine leaves soaked
Mixed Melon balls ½ Cantaloupe and Galia if winter time use Rock melons. You can buy these frozen to cheat / save time. Bear in mind though that fresh melon tastes alot better.

Optional Garnish Ideas
Sprig of lavender per flute for garnish. You can use rosemary for an alternative or mix the two.
Orange / lemon / lime zest
Black / Maraschino cherries
Hibiscus flowers

Lavender flowers can be used atop the flutes, as can twists of orange, lemon or lime. The fragrance sets the tone for the dish quite well also, in combination with strawberry roses or other garnishes it is quite a sensory treat.


Champagne flutes
Melon baller

Melt soaked gelatine into the syrup

Use melon baller to pearl melon flesh after de-seeding. Any left over melon flesh put to one side for fruit salads or fruit soups.

Place melon pearls into flutes along with the lavender sprig and any other garnishes you want set into the Jelly.

Add Cava to the gelatine mixture

Pour over the melons and leave to set for about 3 or 4 hours.


Classic Plum Tart

Before and after glazing

This recipe is one I've been thinking about doing for a while - although my thoughts had oriented around a plum and rosemary tart, this is one that i think could be adapted to incorporate such an animal. That said, praise be to this dessert anyway as its startlingly good on its own, full of late autumn and winter promise.  With the added boon of finding some reduced plums in the supermarket yesterday, I am more than happy that this is an omen of good things.

No road to wonderfulness is easy however, and this recipe does take a bit of time. That said, it is more than well  worth the wait (and the weight, he chuckles). You wont be disappointed.

500g of sweet pastry
800g of plums halved and stones removed
A little icing sugar
2 tablespoons of apricot jam
1 tablespoon of brandy
Creme patisserie (see below)

Crème patissiere

2 egg yolks
60g caster sugar
40g of Corn flour
350ml of milk
1 vanilla pod split and scraped


Blind bake the pastry case, and dry out (you can cheat and buy one, i wont tell)

Cream together the egg yolks and sugar then work in the corn flour

Bring milk and vanilla pod to the boil then allow to cool slightly

Pour the milk onto the eggs and whisk (using a bain marie)

Rinse out the pan return the custard to the heat and cook out gently stir all the time do not over cook and scramble, do not allow the mix to stick and burn

Spread crème patissiere onto the flan case

Roast the plum halves cup side upper most, sprinkle with icing sugar cook for 20 minutes

Arrange the plums on the tart

Heat up the apricot jam and brandy and glaze the plums

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Xmas Pudding

Image provided courtesy of

I have used this xmas pudding recipe several times, and although it may seem extensive and elaborate, every ingredient here has its place in the recipe. It works really well, and provided you make them well enough in advance the flavour will mature just how you need it to.

I apreciate it takes a while to make. but thats the general rule with xmas pudding. The longer it takes... the more flavour and enjoyment youll get out of it.

Makes two medium puddings

225g of pitted and chopped prunes
225g of raisins
225g of sultanas
225g of dried apricots, chopped
110g of fresh whole-meal breadcrumb
1 medium Bramley apple peeled, cored and grated
1 orange juiced and zested
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 teaspoon of mace
½ teaspoon of ground cloves
1 teaspoon of allspice
½ teaspoon of ground cardamom (shells discarded)
3 tablespoon of Walnut oil
4 tablespoon of apple juice
2 tablespoon of clear honey
4 eggs beaten
75ml of Brandy
75ml of whisky
150ml of  sherry
100g of marmalade


Put all the dried fruit with the whisky and marinade for 24 hours

Add to this the bread crumbs, nut oil, apple, orange juice and its zest and all the spices in a large bowl and mix thoroughly

Put apple juice, honey, eggs, brandy, sherry and marmalade into a blender and blitz till smooth liquid

Mix with the dry ingredients

Leave for 24 hours , cover in a cool place

Grease two 500ml pudding basin and a disc of grease proof paper on the base of the basins

Divide the mix between the two

Cover the top with grease proof top with a pleat to allow for expansion, tie off and cover with tin foil

Put in a sauce pan or steamer and cook for 5 hours check water levels regularly.

Allow to cool and leave in a cool dry place to mature. You can eat them right away, but best left for a month or two to mature to enjoy properly.

Upon service douse with whisky or brandy and ignite until flames have dispersed. Serve with brandy sauce or similar.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


Image courtesy of

This Tiramisu recipe is not too dissimilar from alot of  cheesecake recipes I have encountered before, but i make no pretence - it is VERY indulgent. The following recipe is meant for a standard cake tin size, so if you are going to make larger ones then by all means adjust the recipe accordingly.

This recipe is going to take a bit of time, so give it plenty of love. You wont be disappointed with the time spent..

For the sponge base: (you'll need three of these)

(makes 1)

75g self raising flour
1 egg
75g caster sugar
75g butter

Cream butter & sugar, then add the egg. Add the flour (sieved) bit by bit. baked at 180C until when pierced with a knife, the knife comes out clean. When the sponge bases are made, soak them in coffee for an hour or so.

For the mix:

4 Egg yolks
4 tablespoons of sugar
4 table spoons of Vanilla sugar
1 kilo of marscarpone cheese
1 espresso sized cup of strong mocha coffee
2 teaspoons of coffee liquor (tia maria / kahlua)
Cocoa powder


Sabyon the sugars and egg yolks till thick

Add the coffee and the liquor

Beat in the Marscarpone cheese

To make the gateau spread on alternative layers of thin sponge soaked in coffee (within a flan ring or similar)

Finish with a dusting of cocoa powder

leave to set in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving. 


Long Island Cheesecake

This is one of the more indulgent baked cheesecake recipes I have encountered before now, and is notorious for the amount of eggs and cheese it uses. For that reason alone, it intruiged me when i first encountered it. Having tried it for myself I fell in love with it, and have adored it ever since. This recipe is meant for a large cake ring (10 in diameter). If you find you want to make a smaller version, by all means half the recipe volumes.

This is a standard mix, but I have found you can add whatever you like, be it having a berry theme, or a citrus one. use your imagination. Adding fruit to the base before adding the cheesecake mix can give impressive results. Go mad.

For the sponge base:

100g self raising flour
100g caster sugar
100g butter
2 eggs
Vanilla Essence

Cream butter & sugar until mix turns white
Add eggs one by one, and beta until uniform
Add tsp vanilla essence
sieve flour and fold in bit by bit.

Place in a 10 in cake ring and backe at 180C until cooked. Usually you can test this by piercing with a knife, when the knife comes out clean, its ready.

For the cheesecake mix:

750g of cream cheese full fat
225g of caster sugar
12 eggs
270ml of double cream
4 lemons, juiced and zested

Beat all the ingredients together

Place on a sponge base

Cook at 180 degrees till golden brown, for about 30 minutes (longer may be required).

Allow to cool, then devour. You wont be disappointed :)

Chocolate "Nemesis" Torte

Image courtesy of ITV food

Definitely one not for the fainthearted - calling all chocolate lovers out there....

This is probably one of the more ultimate of chocolate desserts, comprising enough dark chocolate to cause offence, and a luxurious sweetness that demands to be loved. Its a beautiful recipe, and the origins of this recipe cannot be revealed (lest i be shot down in flames from the catering community). Ill say this, it was a dessert from the secure confines of a well known French chef. And that's more than I'm willing to divulge...


1 sweet pastry case blind baked (1.5 in deep x 10 in reccommended)

405g of dark chocolate
345g of caster sugar
270g of butter
6 eggs
150ml of water


Cream eggs with 1/3 of the sugar

Boil the water add to this the remaining sugar, heat till the sugar is dissolved

Add the chocolate stir till chocolate is melted

Add butter and blend

Cool then add to the egg mix

Pour into a pastry case and bake at 140 degrees for 1 hour then turn the oven off then leave for another hour

Allow to cool, then devour.

Chocolate Mousse

Image courtesy of the bbc food website :)

For all chocolate lovers out there, here is one of my favourite chocolate mousse recipes that for me has stood the test of time. It includes a nutty element such as hazelnut and amaretto to further enhance the sweetness of the chocolate. It also makes it infinitely more luxurious.

Posted here at the request of Sam Fisher (hugs) for a hassle free chocolate mousse recipe.

In my humble opinion chocolate mousses is usually a hassle free dessert anyway, however there are a few things to bear in mind - the most important of which being that you must wait until the chocolate is cool before you add it to the mix, otherwise any work you have done to fluff up eggs and cream will be rendered useless.


125g of Dark chocolate
20g of hazelnut paste or nutella
25ml amarretto
2 eggs
40g of caster sugar
250ml double cream


Melt the chocolate with half the cream and the hazelnut paste

Once melted add the amaretto, allow to cool

Whisk the sugar and eggs till they are pale and have doubled in volume

Whisk cream till it forms a soft peak

Once chocolate mix is cool pour into the egg mix and fold

Fold in the cream

Pour into mould allow to set in a fridge for at least three hours before service.


Butterscotch Sauce

Image courtesy of

Perfect accompaniment to so many desserts (and sometimes parsnips) butterscotch is a wonderful sauce that is simple to make. This recipe uses cup measurements just for proportion, depending on the volumes you wish to make.

1/2 cup tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup of dark brown sugar
¾ cup heavy whipping or double cream

Heat up the butter in a pan (but not a high heat), gently until melted and beginning to bubble.
Fold in the sugar gradually allowing to melt before adding more. stir continuously.
When the butter and sugar have folded together, add the cream in the same fashion bit by bit until uniform in texture.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Image provided courtesy of the baking

This is the original (and best) sticky toffee pudding recipe that i came across during my time in the catering industry. NOT at all to be confused with treacle sponge and other variants (which are more than often passed off as sticky toffee pudding), this recipe uses dates and their wonderful caramel-esque flavour to provide our stickiness and toffeeness. Its not for the fainthearted.

When putting this together for the first time, much like me you'll think "this will never work". Trust me it does. And I promise you one thing.... you'll never confuse sticky toffee pudding and treacle sponge desserts ever again.


12oz dates
1 pint water
1 earl grey teabag
2 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
4oz butter
12 oz caster sugar
4 eggs
12 oz self raising flour.


Boil the dates in the water, with tea bag
Once boiled for 5 minutes, add the bicarbonate of soda and remove from the heat, Remove tea bag.
Cream the butter and sugar
Add eggs gradually
Add flour and fold in
Remove the tea bags from the water and add the dates and the water to the mix
Mix together

Bake in loaf tins (you should get about 2 out of this mix.) at about 160 degrees C or thereabouts. To test if done pierce with a sharp knife. When the knife comes out clean, its ready.

Serve with butterscotch and ice cream. Enjoy eternally.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Welsh cakes

This delightful little nibble is eaten all over Wales - and is considered a delicacy. It is however impossible to resist one once you have tried one -these are wonderful at any time, although arguably best at elevenses or with afternoon tea.

Welshcakes purchased from Cardiff Market

During the trip to Cardiff, I came across "fabulous welshcakes", a quaint shop in Mermaid Quay in Cardiff Bay selling a variety of welshcakes, including my favourite "Sour cherry and dark chocolate" which was positively divine. Others included "traditional" (see following recipe), and cinnamon. All of which I will bet were beautiful. The shop also sells a cornucopia of patisserie and teatime oddments, many of which i was tempted to buy. Congratulations on a wonderful shop.

The following recipe comes genuinely from a Welsh source, and having tried various welsh cakes during my birthday trip to Cardiff, I can vouch that both this recipe and welsh cakes are a beautiful thing.


8oz SR Flour
4oz Sugar
4oz Butter (Preferably welsh). You can use margarine if required though.
2 Eggs
4oz Sultanas


Rub the fat into the sieved flour to make breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, dried fruit and then the egg. Mix to combine, then form a ball of dough, using a splash of milk if needed.

Roll out the pastry until it is a 5mm/¼in thick and cut into rounds with a 7.5-10cm/3-4in fluted cutter.

You now need a bakestone or a heavy iron griddle, although a heavy bottomed frying pan will do the job. Rub it with butter and wipe the excess away. Put it on to a direct heat and wait until it heats up, place the Welsh cakes on the griddle, turning once. They need about 2-3 minutes each side. Each side needs to be caramel brown before turning.

Remove from the pan and dust with caster sugar while still warm. Some people leave out the dried fruit, and split them when cool, and then sandwich them together with jam.

Sunday, 13 November 2011


Image courtesy of The Guardian.

Scones are a wonderful accompaniment usually taken with afternoon tea, or elevenses. A British favourite scones are an umbrella term for a number of baked items, usually no bigger than a muffin or similar. Here is a standard recipe that never fails me, for regular scones. Feel free to add a handful of fruit, be it blueberries, chopped raspberries, cranberries, raisins, sultanas, currants. Adding the zest of half a lemon or orange will also give this recipe an uplifting beat.


225g/8oz self raising flour
pinch of salt
55g/2oz butter
25g/1oz caster sugar
150ml/5fl oz milk
1 free-range egg, beaten

The do-ing bit :)

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Lightly grease a baking sheet.

Mix together the flour and salt and rub in the butter.

Stir in the sugar and then the milk to get a soft dough.

Turn on to a floured work surface and knead very lightly. Pat out to a round 2cm/¾in thick. Use a 5cm/2in cutter to stamp out rounds and place on a baking sheet. Lightly knead together the rest of the dough and stamp out more scones to use it all up.

Brush the tops of the scones with the beaten egg. Bake for 12-15 minutes until well risen and golden.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Chocolate & Pear Tart

Going to a fireworks party wouldn't be complete without a little sweetness. This I concluded as I pondered the weekends events, and having set in motion some pear wine for the festive period, the leftover pears seemed to provide a wonderful element for a dessert for a hearty palate.

So I decided that the classic chocolate & pear tart would be perfect. Everyone likes chocolate after all. There were also other feelgood benefits attached to this ideal. My rabbit has developed a new found love for pear peel and cores, and the cat has been guarding the oven in the hope of liberating some of this wonderful dessert.

An approving bunny :)

Happy in the knowledge that everyone is kept content from its production, im sharing with you this simple but wonderful recipe.

You will need:

125g ground almonds
- 1 Blind baked sweet pastry case
• 2 large free-range or organic eggs
• 125g butter, softened
• 95g caster sugar
• 185g dark chocolate, melted
• 3 conference pears, peeled, cored and quartered

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5. Roll out the pastry until ½cm thick and use it to line a 24cm tart tin. Leave in the freezer to rest for at least 20 minutes, or longer if you can.

Bake the pastry blind for around 10 minutes in the preheated oven, then remove, set aside, and reduce the oven temperature to 170°C/325°F/gas 3.

Mix your almonds, eggs, butter and sugar together and stir in the melted chocolate while it’s still warm. Pour the mixture evenly into the pastry case and then press the pears into the chocolate and almond mixture.

Bake the tart for 45 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the chocolate and almond mixture is firm. Serve warm with crème fraîche, ice cream or double cream on its own. Personally i like cinnamon and honey creme fraiche, but thats me.

Et Voila!