dessert

Nougat

Posted on February 16, 2021 at 5:50 am

Nougat is something I always associated with a sickly sweet, weirdly papery, somewhat stale confection. Freshly home made nougat is far from that, and well worth making at home.

A couple of warnings. You will be handling sugar syrup, also known as culinary napalm. Please handle with extreme care, you don’t want 3rd degree burns. The second warning is that this stuff is horribly addictive, so beware your waistline!

2 egg whites, room temperature
2 3/4 cups granulated sugar (500 g), plus 2 tablespoons
1 cup / 12 ounces (by weight) honey
1/3 cup / 80 ml water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup (optional)
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped from inside (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups add-ins (toasted nuts, seeds, dried fruit, etc)
special equipment: candy thermometer, pastry brush

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.

Use a clean, dry stand mixer to whip the egg whites to stiff peaks with 2 tablespoons of the sugar. In the mean time, in a small saucepan, over medium heat, bring the honey to 250F on a candy thermometer. Also, at the same time, in a medium saucepan, combine the remaining 2 3/4 cups sugar, water, and corn syrup (if using). Over medium heat, bring this mixture to 300F on a candy thermometer. Carefully and gently swirl the mixtures in their pans now and then, use a pastry brush dipped in water to brush any sugar from the sides of the pan. You want the honey to hit its temp first, followed by the sugar shortly thereafter.

With the mixer running, slowly pour the 250F honey down the side of the bowl into the egg whites. Let the mixer keep running, and as soon as your sugar mixture hits 300F, slowly pour the sugar mixture into the bowl as well, using the same technique (down the side of the bowl). Continue mixing for five minutes or so, until the temperature of the nougat is no longer hot. At this point, stir in the vanilla bean seeds and extract. Remove the bowl from the mixer, and fold in the nuts and seeds by hand.
Transfer the nougat onto the parchment-line baking sheet, cover with another sheet of parchment and allow to cool completely. Cut into desired shapes (the cleaner you can keep your knife the cleaner your cuts will be), and wrap in squares of parchment paper, or candy wrappers. Store in an air-tight container.

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Figgy Pudding Cheesecake

Posted on December 23, 2020 at 9:56 pm

So, you want a plum pudding cheesecake. I have you covered. Yes, the title says figgy pudding…. this has both figs and plums in it, so I still have you covered!

This is a crustless cheesecake. You are welcome to add one if you wish.

  • 3 packs cream cheese (8oz / 225g each)
  • 1 cup white sugar or equivalent (7oz / 200g)
  • 1 cup sour cream (240g)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (230g)
  • 3 tbsp flour of choice
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 oz (60g) each dried figs, plums, and 2 other dried fruits of choice, cut into roughly equal sized pieces, for a total weight of 8.5oz / 240g
  • Preheat oven to 350f / 180c. Boil kettle.

    Put sugar in bottom of mixer bowl. Put the 3 packets of cream cheese on top. Mix on medium speed until completely combined. Blend in the sour cream, heavy cream, and then the eggs one at a time, making sure each is completely incorporated before adding the next. Blend in the vanilla and flour.

    Remove bowl from mixer. Fold in the chopped dried fruit. Split between two 9 inch / 23cm pie pans. Place pie pans in deep baking dish and pour boiling water into the baking dish until it comes half way up the pie pan.

    Bake for 60 minutes, or until the centre of the cheesecake is mostly set – you’re looking for a slight wobble.

    Allow to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate. Serve cold with mulled wine, a Wassail cup, or a nice cuppa tea.

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    Historically Inspired pumpkin pie – Pompion Pie

    Posted on November 27, 2020 at 11:10 am

    Inspired by this recipe, I came up with my own version. This Pompion Pie version is delicious and will definitely feature in future Thanksgiving dinners!

  • 1 batch pie crust for a 9 inch pie dish (see here for GF crust)
  • 1 sugar, or pie, pumpkin, whole (not puree)
  • 2 medium or 3 small apples
  • half a stick (2oz, 55g) butter
  • scant half cup raisins (didn’t weigh, 80g to 90g, eyeball it)
  • scant half cup currants (didn’t weigh, 80g to 90g, eyeball it)
  • half a cup, roughly 100g sugar
  • 1/4 cup / 60ml dry white wine or sherry
  • 3tsp mixed spice / pumpkin pie spice
  • Preheat your oven to 425F / 220C. Roll out your pie dough and line the pie pan. This is an open top pie.

    While the oven is preheating, prepare the pumpkin. Slice it in half, scrape out the seeds and fibrous material in the middle, saving the seeds for roasting as a tasty snack later. Peel the pumpkin and slice it into thin slices.
    Prepare the apples similarly, skin on or off to your preference.
    Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pumpkin and apple slices. Stir well to combine, then add the rest of the ingredients, stirring well to combine. Lid up your skillet, turn the heat down to medium-low, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the pumpkin is soft but not mushy.
    Pour the filling into your pie crust. It should mound up generously.
    Bake for 20 minutes at 425F / 220C, then turn the heat down to 375F / 190C and bake for another 40 to 50 minutes until the juices are bubbling. Cool completely before serving.

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    Baked custard

    Posted on November 11, 2020 at 8:21 am

    Baked custard is another classic British pudding. It’s simple, cheap, and feels way more gluttonous and indulgent than the ingredients would suggest. It’s also inherently gluten free!

  • 600ml / 18 US fl oz heavy whipping cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 50g / 2oz caster (fine table) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence (or to taste)
  • 1/4tsp ground nutmeg, or to taste
  • optional: dried fruit, chopped to roughly equal size
  • Preheat your oven to 325F / 170C. Boil your kettle, or set a pot of water to boil on your stove top.

    Butter an ovenproof dish, about 1 quart / 1 litre capacity. If adding dried fruit, scatter it evenly around the bottom of the dish.

    Scald the cream and vanilla (heat until the cream is just beginning to lightly steam and small bubbles appear around the edge). Do not boil the cream.

    Whisk the eggs, nutmeg, and sugar together. Pour a thin stream of the hot cream into the eggs and sugar, whisking constantly, until all of the hot cream has been incorporated into the eggs.

    Place a large baking pan into the preheated oven. Put the ovenproof dish into the large baking pan. Pour the custard into the baking dish. Pour boiling water into the baking pan until the hot water comes about half way up the side of the ovenproof dish.

    Bake for 1 hour. Serve hot or cold. Once cold, the custard will be set with a fairly firm consistency, firmer than creme brulee.

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    Gluten free instant chocolate mug cake

    Posted on September 28, 2020 at 11:52 am

    Yes, another mug cake. I’m having fun with it, so why not?

    Add to a large mug

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 to 4 tablespoons monkfruit/erithrytol blend, or similar, to your taste
  • optional – pinch of salt
  • Microwave on high for 30-45 seconds until the butter is melted. Stir to incorporate and allow to cool slightly. Add

  • 3 tablespoons almond flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vailla
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • Stir to incorporate. Microwave on high for 90 to 120 seconds. Bingo, gluten free, keto friendly, chocolate cake.

    CUSTOMISE IT
    Instead of butter, use a neutral oil such as avocado, or a characterful oil like coconut.
    Instead of vanilla, use maple flavouring, or any other you want to try.
    Want to amp up the chocolate? Add chocolate chips, or a little instant coffee powder.
    Why not add dried fruit, or other baking chips like butterscotch? Why not add chopped or whole nuts?
    Nut allergy? You can use any flour you like. This should work with buckwheat, millet, or any other flour that suits your needs.
    Vegan? I would love to hear how you can tweak this recipe to suit your tastes. Please feel free to reply to this with your comments!

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    Spotted Dick Mug Cake

    Posted on September 23, 2020 at 6:15 pm

    This is the instant version of my full Spotted Dick recipe. See there for my comments on the name! This version is gluten free, sugar free, and can be easily tweaked to be keto friendly. Enjoy!

    INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon (or so) of currants, raisins, or as you prefer
  • 1 tbsp of brown liquor or water
  • mix these together and microwave for 30 seconds. From here you proceed like the cinnamon roll recipe.

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons almond flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice (pumpkin pie spice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon monkfruit/erithrytol blend, or similar
  • optional – pinch of salt
  • Melt the butter on top of the fruit mixture, then add the rest of the ingredients on top. Stir thoroughly to combine and microwave for 90 seconds to 2 minutes. The top of the pudding should be just set and no more.

    Turn out on a plate and serve with a nice cuppa tea.

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    Chocolate and peanut butter mug cake

    Posted on July 11, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    As an added bonus, you can easily make this keto friendly or vegan. Makes 2 decent sized mug cakes, or 1 if you have a huge mug and are feeling gluttonous!

    Whisk together:

  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1/4 cup / 60ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Whisk into the liquids:

  • 1/2 cup (120ml) almond flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup / 60ml sweetener (sugar, monk fruit, erithrytol…)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • Let the batter sit for 15 to 20 minutes to let the gum do its thing.

    Portion the batter into your mug as follows:

  • 1/4 cup of batter
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup of batter
  • Microwave on HIGH for 90 seconds and check. The surface should be just set. If it isn’t, zap for another 15 seconds at a time until it is. (If you’re being gluttonous and put the whole batch into a gigantic mug, you might want to microwave for 2 minutes and check then for done-ness.)

    Let your mug cake sit for a minute or two before you tuck in to avoid the “molten chocolate lava” feeling.

    If you want to amp up the chocolate flavour try adding a little instant coffee powder. Start with just a little, maybe 1/4 teaspoon, because you might end up in mocha town instead.

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    Queen of Puddings

    Posted on May 10, 2020 at 6:02 pm

    For Mother’s Day, I asked my wife to choose a pudding we’d never had before. To be extra mean I handed her a book with over 140 classic British Pudding recipes – how horrible I am!

    She chose Queen of Puddings. I have had this once before in my whole life. It’s one I felt nervous about making, because… well, I’m not sure why. I just was.

    Thankfully the nerves were unnecessary. It’s actually quite easy to make, as pudding should be. And as a bonus, it’s easy to make gluten free!

  • 180g / 6.5oz breadcrumbs OR an equal mix of corn flakes and oats
  • 150g/5oz caster sugar (take granulated sugar and pulse in food processor till fine but not powder)
  • 600ml / 20oz / 2.5 cups milk
  • 60g / 2oz unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 100g / 3.5oz berry jam
  • Optional: zest of 1 lemon
  • Stir the breadcrumbs (or GF option) to mix with the zest and 30g/1oz of the sugar.

    Combine the milk, butter, and vanilla in a pan and heat gently until the butter is just melted. The mix should be slightly more than blood warm. Whisk the egg yolks into the warm milk then stir into the crumbs. Leave the mix to stand and soak for 10 minutes while you heat the oven to 180c/350f. Make sure they soak for at least 10 minutes.

    Pour the mixture into a buttered pie pan and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until it is cooked through and set – although it’s technically a custard, you want it to set fully.

    Warm the jam in a small pan or in the microwave until it’s liquid. Spread the jam over the baked base – it should make a generous coating.

    Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks and gently fold the sugar in to make the meringue. Pile over the jam, spreading to the edge of the pie dish.

    Bake the meringue for 10 minutes or so until it’s lightly golden brown and slightly crunchy. Let the pudding cool down until it’s room temperature.

    Serve at room temperature or cold. Be prepared for some slight cognitive dissonance – it looks like pie, but it eats like pudding!

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    Stuart’s Gluten Free Simnel pudding

    Posted on April 20, 2020 at 8:26 am

    Simnel Cake is a British Easter tradition. I decided to take the cake recipe and convert it to make a Simnel Pudding, because everyone needs some pudding in their life!

    Makes 1 large pudding. You can double the quantities to make 2.

  • 250g/8oz mixed dried fruit
  • 25g/1oz stem ginger (finely chopped or grated)
  • 1/2 lemon (zest and juice)
  • 1/2 orange (zest and juice)
  • 50g/1.75oz ground almonds
  • 50g/1.75oz buckwheat flour
  • 50g/1.75oz white rice flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tbsp mixed spice such as pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 125g / 4oz / 1 stick soft butter
  • 125g / 4oz brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 portion marzipan
  • 2 tbsp dark rum or bourbon (optional)
  • 1-2 tbsp marmalade or apricot jam
  • Butter up your pudding basin.

    Put all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix or sift to combine. In a small bowl add all the fruit, ginger, zest and juices and stir to combine.

    Cream the butter and sugar. Blend in the flour and eggs in roughly 3 additions. Stir in the fruit and juices.

    Split the marzipan into 2 roughly equal portions. Pour half of the batter into the pudding basin. Form a rough disk with half of the marzipan and press gently onto the batter. Pour the rest of the batter on top of the marzipan disk. Steam for 2 hours.

    Pull the pudding out of your steamer. Pour the rum or bourbon on top, if using. Allow the pudding to cool for 20 to 30 minutes then turn out and brush with the marmalade or jam.

    Roll out the remaining marzipan to drape over the narrow top of the pudding. Use your hands to gently form the marzipan into a covering over the pudding.

    If you want to add a finishing touch, put the marzipan covered pudding under the broiler just until the top starts to brown, then serve.

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    Spotted dick pudding

    Posted on November 2, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    Also known as spotted duff or spotted dog, the words “dick, duff, dog” all derive from the word “dough”. Any other suggestion comes from a smutty mind 😉

    Spotted dick is your basic steamed pudding. These ingredients will show up frequently here…

    SPOTTED DICK PUDDING

  • 8oz / 240g self raising flour
  • 4oz / 120g unsalted butter OR suet
  • 3oz / 80g caster / powdered sugar
  • *pinch of salt if using unsalted self raising flour
  • Beat together the butter and sugar until just combined (note: not the creaming method, just incorporation). Beat in the flour.

    Add

  • 8oz / 240g dried fruit (raisins, currants, sultanas, goldens, craisins, cherries….), soaked in brown liquor, then drained
  • to the batter.

    add up to

  • 160ml / 5.5oz cold milk
  • to the batter, just enough to bring it together in a somewhat firm dough.

    Place dough in a well buttered pudding basin and steam for 2 hours OR microwave for around 5-10 minutes, depending on the strength of your microwave. Microwaving time will really depend on your own experience with your micro – for me, about 5 minutes nuke then rest for a couple of minutes.

    Your duff/dick/dog is ready when it is just set. Serve with lashings of freshly made custard and a nice cuppa tea.

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