Archive for the ‘Pudding’ Category

St-Émilion au Chocolat

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

choc pot 4

I do not have a very sweet tooth. When it comes to puddings, all I want is a few mouthfuls to round off a meal. A delightful morsel will suffice, such as the Earl Grey Ganache with Caraway Biscuit that ended (unsurprisingly) a superb lunch at Dinner recently. As with most things, simple is best, which is why this easy, five-ingredient dessert made it onto the menu of my most recent Supper Club.

Traditionally, St-Emilion au Chocolat is served on a base of crushed amoretti biscuits doused in brandy, but as all I really wanted was a more decadent and less fluffy version of a chocolate mousse, I skipped this part. That’s not to say that the recipe is any less indulgent, an espresso cup is plenty but a larger ramekin to ‘share’ is also a possibility.

I added an apple eau-de-vie soaked cherry and a sprig of thyme to get a balanced aromatic kick but equally, a tablespoon or so of rum in the mix would work well too, it is nice to have something to compete with the richness.

Perhaps subconsciously influenced by Nigella’s ordeals, this is my tribute to naughtiness and a two-fingers up at any media guff about being healthier this month.

choc pot 1




serves about 8


100g unsalted butter, softened

100g golden caster sugar

1 egg yolk

200g 70% dark chocolate, broken into small bits

100ml whole milk


  1. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric whisk, or if you’re planning on justifying this recipe with a bit of arm work, use a wooden spoon. I go for the former.
  2. Beat until very pale and fluffy (a good three minutes)
  3. Add the egg yolk and whisk a little more.
  4. Put this mix to one side, and gently heat the milk in a small pan.
  5. As soon as you see a wisp of steam, take off the heat and making sure it’s not too hot, add the chocolate.
  6. Stir gently to dissolve the chocolate and when silky smooth, add to the butter mix.
  7. It’s important to do this quickly whilst the milk is still warm so that the butter gets thoroughly mixed in and you’re not left with creamy lumps in your mix.
  8. Split between the cups. I think it makes about 8 but it’s difficult to remember how much successfully made it to the fridge…
  9. You might need to give them a wipe with some kitchen towel to neaten them up, this my least favourite part.
  10. Garnish, cover with cling and chill in the fridge overnight (or at least a couple of hours if you want a less solid dessert).
  11. Serve at the dinner table or in bed.

 choc pot 3

The Secret Ingredient

Saturday, January 21st, 2012


I feel a bit naughty writing about the same recipe in two places but this one is just too good not to! I’ve started a new column in The London Student about ingredients that are a little bit out of the ordinary, or at least not in keeping with the meat-and-two-veg ethic. Here is what I had to say about wasabi:

I’m sure you’ve smeared it on your sashimi or nigiri, but have you ever wondered how this peculiar green paste got to sit alongside your pickled ginger and fish-shaped sachet of soy sauce?

Although wasabi is most commonly compared to horseradish, it is in fact not related. It is a small plant that grows in rural Japan, hence its literal translation ‘mountain hollyhock’. It takes several years to mature naturally although it can be cultivated in a man-made environment, where special attention has to be paid as it can only grow in temperatures of between 11-14°C. So it’s just as well you only need a smidgen to make a difference to your dish. The paste we most commonly come across is made from the root of the plant, but the leaves, stalks and flowers can also be used to make a pickle to accompany Japanese curries if you’re lucky enough to discover the entire plant in an Asian supermarket.

As it is normally included in savoury dishes, I thought I would mix things up a little bit and combine it with chocolate for a cupcake with a kick and a punch. I know you’re thinking, ‘Holy Katsu!’, but bear with me. The bitterness of the chocolate and the warmth of the wasabi work in harmony rather than competing to make a beautiful little number. Here is how to do it:

Chocolate and Wasabi Cupcakes (makes 16)



For the cakes:

100g good dark chocolate (at least 70%)

100g butter

175g golden caster sugar

1 tspn vanilla extract

3 large eggs

100g self-raising flour

½ tspn baking powder

¼ tspn salt

1 generous tbspn wasabi paste (Don’t be scared! It loses some of its potency in cooking)


For the icing:

50g softened butter

100g full-fat cream cheese

250g icing sugar

1 tspn vanilla extract

½ tspn ground ginger


To decorate:

Crushed wasabi peanuts

Stem ginger

  • On a very low heat in a large saucepan melt the chocolate and butter together and when they are smooth, add the sugar. Mix well, but don’t worry, the sugar is not supposed to dissolve so the mixture will be a bit grainy.
  • Leave to cool for 10-15 mins.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time.
  • Then, sift in the dry ingredients and finally thoroughly work in the wasabi.
  • Scoop a good dessertspoon into each paper case and bake for 15-20 mins, depending on your oven. To test, insert a thin knife or skewer and if it comes out clean then they are done, but if it has some goo on it then they need a little more time.
  • While they are in the oven, make the icing. Blend the butter and cream cheese together with a wooden spoon.
  • Gradually sift in the icing sugar and when all is well blended, add the ginger and vanilla.
  • When the cakes have cooled, slice the tops to give a flat surface for the icing. Smear a good teaspoon of the icing on top and decorate with the crushed wasabi peanuts and finely chopped ginger as you see fit.
  •  Tuck in!


Welcome Home

Friday, August 12th, 2011

Oxford is quite the contrast to Berlin. The utterly befuddling chaos of Berlin seems so far away, but that’s what coming home is all about. I’m finding home comforts so novel including my mum’s pineapple upside down cake. I would give you the recipe, but it’s a secret.

The Most Devilish Devil’s Food Cake

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

I know I’ve been away for a while, but I’ve been doing productive things such as, moving to Berlin. I still don’t have a camera but my roomie does, and so now we have a convenient arrangement.  It goes something like this:

‘Can I borrow your camera?’

‘Only if I can eat what you want to take pictures of.’

‘Ok, but you have to wait till I’ve taken the pictures first’

‘What if I can’t wait?’

‘Then there’s no point in me borrowing the camera if you’re going to eat it before I’ve taken a picture, people don’t want to see pictures of a clean plate’

‘Do I still get to eat what you want to take pictures of?’

‘Yes, but I’ve cooked it so I can take pictures’

‘Isn’t the point to eat it?’

And so on and so forth. It’s a tad circular but at least it means I can take photos. Thanks roomie. Now, on to the cake! I’ve adapted the recipe from Linda Collister’s book, Chocolate.

So, you think it can’t get naughtier than butter, chocolate, cream, sugar? Woah, ok, it’s not time to crack out the hashish recipe just yet. My secret ingredient is dark ale. Dark because the malted barley has been roasted until it’s the colour of chocolate and tastes distinctly chocolaty too. Think Maltesers. Now think about how much you love Maltesers. Now go and buy two packets of Maltesers, eat one and bring the other to me.  If enough people do this, I can bury myself in Maltesers. A tasty ball pond indeed.

I’m not gwana lie to you, this cake is a faff but my-oh-my is it worth it. Let’s take it step by step. A little bit like the ‘Time Warp’ dance routine, but with fewer fishnets.


250g plain (preferably 70% cocoa solids) chocolate

150g good milk chocolate

350ml sour cream

175g muscavado sugar (I used a mixture of dark and light)

300g plain flour


3 tablespoons cocoa powder (as with the chocolate, using a good one really does make a difference)

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

115g butter

200g caster sugar

2 large eggs

Splosh of Vanilla extract (I prefer this to essence)

175ml dark ale

One last thing before I proceed to the methodology (bah, I sound like a scientist) I’d like to give a big belated thanks to Roly at The Brentwood Brewing Co. for donating a variety of his ales for me to play with. For this recipe, I used ‘Chockwork Orange’, which is brewed with oranges, wowee! These guys are great; they do such a wide range. On Pancake Day we did some beery/cheesy pancakes using one of their lighter ales, ‘Brentwood Gold’. To find out more go to and if you ask nicely, Roly will give you a tour of the brewery.  Only if you ask nicely, mind.

Ok, here’s what to do:

  1. Melt on VERY low heat 110g plain chocolate, 125ml sour cream and the muscavado sugar. Blend it don’t burn it, yeah?
  2. While this is happening, grease and line two large sandwich cake tins.
  3. Sift flour, cocoa, pinch of salt and the bicarb together
  4. Be patient with the next bit. In a massive bowl, cream yo’ butter, then cream in the caster sugar gradually and then cream in one egg yolk at a time and finally cream in the vanilla. You really want to get as much air in here as possible; otherwise you’ll end up with a chocolate doorstop. Doorstops are ok with a ploughman’s but not at teatime, in my books anyhow.
  5. Then mix in the flour mixture and ale, alternately, to avoid too much similarity between your cooking and the aftermath of a volcanic explosion. Although, if you’re me, which you’re not, but hey ho, then the kitchen will undoubtedly end up looking like this anyway.
  6. Work in the chocolate mixture; blend thoroughly but quite quickly to try to lose as little air as possible.
  7. Whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks (like I said about meringues, until they look like hair mousse) and fold them into your monster mix.
  8. Spoon into cake tins, bake for 25-30 mins at 180°C. When done, it should spring back when lightly pressed, and be slightly coming away from the sides of the tin. Go against your instinct, if it still looks a little wobbly, that’s fine. Trust.
  9. This cake is a little bit like brownie so will still be a bit squidgy when it’s just come out of the oven. Leave to cool in the tin for about 5 mins then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Whilst your cake is cooling, make the icing, which is super easy. Melt the rest of the plain chocolate (if you haven’t eaten that as well as your own fingers in anticipation) and the milk chocolate until smooth.
  11. Whisk in the sour cream and chill until spreadable.
  12. When you’re positive that the cakes are completely cooled, generously smother the cake in chocolate gooeyness until you feel a bit like Bruce Bogtrotter from Roald Dahl’s Mathilda.
  13. After all that, you’ll be ready to sink into big chunk of drool-inducing goodness.

From what I’ve learnt about cake since being in Germany, I have to take back my earlier doorstop comment. It seems that it’s perfectly acceptable to have cake resembling doorstops here. The advantage being that this observation is in relation to size rather than texture.  This recipe really must be taken as some kind of homage to the imperative tradition of Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake). A tradition which is so ingrained in German culture that our university cafeteria presents us with a different tray bake everyday. Such aforementioned doorstop-sized pieces of cake, so light and moist, require all my will power not to feast on cake and cake alone.

If you have any opinions on cake, please let me know. Next time, I promise I’ll do something more student friendly. My kitchen here has no oven or freezer so you can be assured there will be no fancy equipment required!

E x

A Big Mess

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

    Before I begin can I just say a big thank you to Danny from ‘Where’s my Pork Chop?’ who was so lovely about a supper I made him back in October. Have a read of what he had to say about my food at and I encourage anyone to get involved with his project!

    With the snow outside, I felt myself harking back to the delights of summer. Unrealistic, I know, but the Eton Mess is an absolute cracker (no Christmas pun intended) and works equally well with gooseberries or rhubarb if you feel like woofing down something a little more extravagant than a fool.

    In the summer, I ventured down the Oxfordshire country lanes to the ‘Pick Your Own’ at the end of the strawberry season and managed to forage around enough to fill a good punnet. Mashed up with some Jersey cream and fresh baked meringues, it’s real crowd pleaser, and if the meringues get snapped up then at least you have strawberries and cream. It would be a nightmare to go without pudding after all.

    People seem to be scared of Pavlova and rightly so as the giant, Alp-like meringue nest undoubtedly burns on the outside and remains raw in the middle, but you don’t have the stress of presentation with this beaut. You can make the meringues in fist-sized dollops, making them so much more manageable (and snackable, not that there’ll be any left over).

    Although they’re best eaten on a summer’s eve (that’s my name!), meringues are easier to make when the temperature is cooler so they are equally acceptable now as they are individual winter wonderlands. Too sappy? Have a big spoonful and then disagree. Here’s the recipe:



    Loads of fresh strawbs/gooseberries/stewed apple/ rhubarb/plums

    Medium pot of Jersey or whipping cream

    3 egg whites

    175g caster sugar

    1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

  1. First, make the meringues. In a REALLY clean mixing bowl, electric whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks. Then gently continue whisking, adding a tablespoon of the sugar at a time so you get beautiful glossy peaks, a bit like hair mousse but shinier. Add the vinegar (I’m not sure what this does but I’m sure it’s good).
  2. Heat the oven to 140°C.
  3. Put some baking parchment/greaseproof paper on a baking sheet
  4. Put massive dollops of meringue mix on the baking parchment and bake for about an hour.
  5. Leave to cool/smash one on your friend’s head.
  6. Whip the cream.
  7. Wash and roughly chop up the strawbs into bite size chunks.
  8. Mix the cream, smashed meringues and fruit in a big bowl.
  9. Serve with a few spare strawberries on top.
  10. Lick the bowl clean.

Tarte Tartin

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

The other day, I picked my first apple of the year from my garden. It’s so satisfying when you twist it and it gently comes away in your hand. In keeping with the apple theme, I thought my first recipe should be my Tarte Tartin. It’s still a little early for apples so I had to pop down to the shops to bulk out my tart but the result was rather satisfying nonetheless! I used Golden Delicious apples but I think that’s just because I like their name. I don’t know which variety the ones from my tree are, but they’re quite firm, more like Braeburns. Cooking apples hold their shape well but eaters are sweeter, so which type of apple you use depends on if you can sacrifice your sweet tooth for presentation.  The tart is best eaten hot when the caramel is still quite liquid (it turns into something more toffee like as it cools) and a dollop of crème fraiche really tops it all off.

The first time I made this, my friend and I were determined to save some, but we just couldn’t. We ate the whole thing. What pigs! That’s fine, no coronary arrests yet. This is a good one if you have a helper, not least to prevent you from eating it all in one sitting yourself.

    You will need:

    5/6 apples

    125g butter

    110g plain flour

    175g sugar

    Half a lemon

    Some cold water

    I’m going to work on the assumption that kitchen utensils are relatively sparse. The only essential for this is a shallow pan/frying pan that can go on the hob and in the oven, I had to wrestle with my frying pan and a screwdriver, to remove the handle, so it would fit in the oven. You don’t need to know that, but it’s a nice mental image for the sadist in you.

    So here are some nice simple steps for a devilishly good pud:

  1. Make the pastry. With your fingertips rub together the flour and 50g of the butter (which should be cold and cut into smallish lumps) until it resembles crumbs. Give the bowl a few short shakes to get the biggest lumps to the top so you can attack them. Don’t let them get away.
  2. Add one tablespoon of really cold water at a time until you can mould the dough into a ball, leaving no crumby bits in the bottom of the bowl. Work nice and quickly, not letting the dough have too much contact with your palms, or it’ll warm up, and we do not want that.
  3. Wrap the dough in cling and put in the fridge.
  4. Meanwhile, peel, core and half your apples. Dunk them in lemon juice as you go along to stop them oxidising and going brown.
  5. Soften the rest of your butter and smother over the base of your pan. Sprinkle your sugar evenly over your butter, yes, I know it seems a lots but it will be worth it. Like I said, I’m still alive to tell the tale.
  6. Place your apples, rounded side down, onto the pan. Squeeze as many as you can in, they’ll shrink a little as they cook. You might need to chop them a bit so they tessellate better.
  7. Turn the heat on very low for 10 minutes or until the butter is all swimmy and melty. Shake the pan every now and again to make sure nothing is sticking.
  8. Turn the heat up, not too much mind, don’t get too excited, just to a medium temperature and keep it there for a further  15-20 minutes or until the the caramel is super bubbly and golden.
  9. While this is happening, turn the oven on to 200°C, have a banana, and when time is nearly up, flour your  table top and roll out your pastry so it’ll fit over the pan.
  10. Drape the pastry over, chopping off any excess (I got a jam tart out of my leftovers), prick with a fork to let out some steam, and quickly bung in the oven for 25 minutes or until you can see the caramel bubbling out the sides and the pastry is crispy.
  11. Not far now. Leave in the pan to cool for 5 minutes (if you can wait that long) then turn the right way up onto a plate, wipe the dribble off your chin and tuck in.