family dessert

Baked apple goodness for a winter night

I love vintage tea towels. Especially when they have old school recipes on them that remind you of foods you used to eat when you were young. This was the case with one of my favourites, a cooking with apples tea towel. Bright friendly colours keep you company as you wipe up your dishes but also gave me inspiration for dessert at my friends this week.

As a child dessert wasn’t a bit thing at the end of a meal. Sure there was coffee and biscuits but actual desserts weren’t a big feature so when my mum made her fabulous baked apples everyone was always around the dinner table, the oft used excuses to disappear into teenage bedrooms forgotten. Well for my siblings anyways. Being eight year younger I was always happy to hang around the dinner table with Mum, not having reached the joy of teens years just yet. But I digress. My Dad wasn’t too much of a sweet tooth preferring a slice of cheese and fresh apples after dinner but loved Mum’s baked apples,  so we knew that Dad was in Mum’s good books when they appeared after dinner.  Such a simple dessert but coupled with ice-cream it was such an easy after dinner treat.

Lo and behold my fabulous vintage tea towel featured a similar recipe transporting me back to my childhood. Their recipe also featured glace cherries and brandy made into a sauce with the buttery goodness left behind, a step which I left out because a) I don’t really like glace cherries and b) I thought the caramelised buttery sauce was nice enough without a splash of brandy which I don’t actually have on hand anyways!

So I know I haven’t really revealed the full temptation of a baked apple as yet. Just the title doesn’t really give away the treat it is, so I will explain the very simple method and try and entice you even more. Quite simply, you just core out the apple’s whole, score the skin so it doesn’t burst open and make a mess and then stuff the cavity of the apple with a combination of softened butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Imagine then baking these stuffed apples for about half an hour in which time the butter and sugar caramelise to a butterscotch sauce at the bottom of the pan and the apple flesh cooks down to a soft, sweet filling. No we are talking hey? Now put that delicious apple into a bowl, top with vanilla ice-cream and enjoy! You can thank me later, don’t worry.

Ingredients (serves four)

4 granny smith apples (these bake really well but if you have a favourite apple by all means use them!)

3 tbsp softened butter

2 tbsp brown sugar

pinch cinnamon

Method

  1. Core out the apples and score the skin
  2. Mix the butter, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl until combined and softened
  3. Spoon and push the butter mix into the cored cavity of the apples
  4. Either place the apples in individual ramekins and on a tray to bake or onto a paper lined tray with the edges folded up to catch the butter sauce
  5. Bake at 180 degrees for about 30 min or until the apples have softened
  6. Remove from oven and serve with vanilla ice-cream. If you have baked them on a tray, put into serving dishes and carefully pour over the remaining sauce sauce from the oven tray.

Let Them Eat Cake (birthday cake that is)

It was my boyfriends birthday recently and course we had to celebrate with cake! What is a birthday without cake after all! I have always enjoyed making birthday cakes for friends and family and watching their delight as everyone sings a song in their honour whilst embarrassing them with how off tune it all is. These days birthday cakes know no bounds as flights of fancy in icing have seen the rise of more and more creative baking feats achieved. I prefer to make simple cakes but I do enjoy the fruits of other peoples labour don’t worry! For this birthday as Davin loves cheesecake and chocolate what better way to combine the two to celebrate his day than this chocolate cheesecake recipe.

This recipe was given to me by my sous chef at Il Centro Brian. He has cooked this for his lady and her friends and due to their rapturous response deemed this recipe a winner. From the response of Davin and his family and my own enjoyment, I’d have to agree. His version has white chocolate but I am more of a milk/dark chocolate fan so went with that. Traditionally cheesecakes are either baked or set with gelatine but the addition of butter plus the chocolate to this recipe allows it to set firm in the fridge without the use of gelatine. This is particularly handy if you don’t have gelatine on hand or don’t use it often enough to buy for one cake. Feel free to stir through some berries of chocolate chips or whatever ingredients take your fancy to make it your own.

Chef’s Notes:

– A food processor makes turning the biscuits into crumbs easier by far but if you don’t have one there is the old fashioned way that my mother and I used to do which is put the biscuits in a bag and crush with a rolling pin or meat hammer until crumbly. I recommend this method after a stressful day.

– A springform pan is the one where there is a leverish catch in the side with releases the band away from the base. This is to allow easy release of the cake from the pan, especially as it quite delicate and flipping it out as per a normal cake may cause it to break. If you don’t have one of these tins, ensure you line a cake tin with baking paper and ensure you have a long piece of paper that overlaps the side of the pan to lift the cake out

– With baked cheesecakes the base is baked for a few minutes before being left to cool. This is to ensure the base doesn’t melt back into the mix when baking, a step no necessary with cold set cheesecakes

– If you can’t find mascarpone, ricotta will suffice. The addition of the mascarpone adds a little tartness and a lighter creaminess than just cream cheese by itself

So, without further ado, the ingredients:

100g sugar

200g chocolate (white, milk or dark)

300ml pure cream

200g marscapone

250g cream cheese

100g butter

200g biscuits of your choice (arrowroot, chocolate, ginger snap)

2 teas sp vanilla

Method:

1. Melt chocolate and 30g of butter together and stir until combined

2. Process biscuits until fine crumb. Melt remaining butter and mix through biscuits until evenly coated.

3. Line spring form tin with baking paper to ensure clean release and press biscuit mix into base of spring form tin until even. Place in fridge for at least 15 minutes until firm.

4. Whip sugar and cream cheese together, add cream and whip together. Fold together with mascapone, add melted butter and chocolate mix  and stir through gently.

5. Pour on top of biscuit base and cool until firm, approximately 2-3 hours or overnight

6.  Decorate as desired – I used freckles or you could use strawberries, berries, crumbled chocolate or biscuits, whatever you fancy

7. Cut a big slice, sit down and enjoy every bite!

Nutella and Strawberry = French Toast Delicious

IMOK_finished strawberry dish

I have to attribute this idea to a pinterest post I found when lying in bed trying not to salivate as I explored some recipe inspiration. Her blog is found on navywifecook.com and is rather cute and interesting to explore. 

So the recipe. Essentially Nutella French Toast….I had you at Nutella right? My last post was about classic food combinations, I forgot to mention chocolate and just about anything right? Especially hazelnuts thus the love of nutella. French toast is usually one piece of bread dipped in egg and milk/cream mix and fried in a pan but this recipe calls for two slices and a healthy dollop of nutella in between. Irresistible right? Add some delicious strawberries and we have dessert deliciousness.

IMOK_ strawberryingredients

Ingredients (serves four)

3 eggs

1/3 cup milk

2 tbsp vanilla extract

3 tbsp sugar

8 slices bread

nutella

butter for frying (1-2 tbsp)

Method

Whisk egg and milk together until combined

Add sugar and vanilla to egg mix and combine

Cut crusts off bread and spread with nutella

Sandwich two slices together nutella side facing

Warm a frying pan to medium heat and melt 1 teaspoon butter per sandwich

Dip bread in egg mix and fry in pan approx 1-2 min each side until golden

Remove from pan and keep warm under low heat oven grill or by wrapping in foil until all sandwiches are cooked

Cut in half and serve with quartered strawberries and dust with icing sugar

Take a bite and enjoy the gooey hazelnutty chocolately toasty goodness. You can tell I enjoy this recipe right? 😉

IMOK_strawberries IMOK_cooking bread IMOK_finished strawberry dish

Delicious Sticky Date and Walnut Pudding

Winter puddings are some of my favourite desserts. That and chocolate but I’m not always fussy. I have always been a fan of sticky date pudding and after a quick google I found Donna Hay’s recipe and away I went. I always enjoy reading recipes to get some inspiration and ideas and Donna’s recipe seemed simple and easy but I always like to add an element of personal touch. A restaurant I used to work in had a sticky date pudding on the menu which I enjoyed but it had a lot of butter in it so could be a date heavy and greasy at times. We also used to soak the dates in coffee, a twist I still like to do as it adds a little oomph to the dessert. Also in Donna’s recipe she uses a food processor to combine the ingredients. This means the dates will be well incorporated into the dessert thus for a bit of texture I used some chopped walnuts for texture. If you’re not a nut fan you could always hand chop half of the dates and fold these through the batter at the end instead of processing the whole amount.

So the recipe:

pudding finished

sticky date pudding by donna hay