28 Oct 2011

Halloween Baked Toffee Apples

Toffee Apples
Let's not forget about the grownups at Halloween. This recipe is easy to prepare and looks after itself in the oven. The best part though is the rum caramel sauce poured over the apples after they come out of the oven.

Serves: 6

You will need: 25g softened unsalted butter, 25g light muscovado sugar, finely grated zest of 1 lemon plus 1 tbsp lemon juice, 30g currants, 40g raisins, 6 red eating apples, 6tbsp golden syrup, 1tbsp rum, creme fraiche to serve.

1. Beat the butter and muscovado sugar together until creamy, beat in the lemon zest and juice (the mixture will look curdled), fold in the raisins and currants. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/350F/Gas 4.
2. Using the tip of a sharp knife, score a circle around the middle of each apple (I didn't do this and they were still ok). Carefully cut out the apple cores using an apple corer.
3. Loosely stuff the cavities with the dried fruit to within 1cm of the top and place the apples in a baking dish spaced slightly apart. Drizzle 1 tbsp syrup over each one and bake for 45 minutes, basting every 15 minutes.
4. Transfer the apples to plates or a serving dish, spooning any loose dried fruit back inside and reserving the syrupy cooking juices in a small pan. Leave the apples to cool for 10-15 minutes.
5. Simmer the cooking juices until reduced by half and a light caramel colour, then stir in the rum. Pour the caramel sauce over the apples and serve with creme fraiche.

20 Oct 2011

Roast Pears with Star Anise, Blackberries and Lemon

Pears stained by blackberries look so pretty, but add to them a few bay leaves, star anise and cinnamon we know autumn is here. If you have any blackberries in the freezer to use up or a glut of pears, this dessert is perfect.

The recipe calls for maple syrup but at the time I made this there wasn't any in the store cupboard and so I used honey instead, the dessert was still delicious. This dessert is best eaten at room temperature.

Serves: 6

You will need: 6 ripe but firm pears, 1 small lemon, 3 tablespoons maple syrup or runny honey, 2 or 3 fresh bay leaves, 2 star anise, 1 cinnamon stick, 150g blackberries.

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Peel, halve and core the pears. Place the pears in a single layer in an ovenproof dish.
2. Using a peeler, remove the skin from the lemon in strips, scatter over the pears. Juice the lemon and drizzle over the pears along with the maple syrup and 200ml of cold water.
3. Tuck the bay leaves, star anise and cinnamon stick among the pear halves and bake for 20 minutes.
4. After 20 minutes, scatter the blackberries over the pear halves and return to the oven for 10 minutes.
5. Take the pear and blackberry mixture out of the oven and turn them in the juices from the blackberries. Leave to cool.

8 Oct 2011

Individual Lemon Meringues

These individual lemon meringues are a perfect dessert, especially if you are in a hurry and haven't time to make a pastry case.

There were two lemons in the fridge and I decided to put them to good use, and for the two of us today, these were perfect. The dessert is luscious and lemony, the meringue is crisp on the outside and squashy within.

Serves 4: You will need: 12cm creme brulee dishes.

For the lemon curd:

Grated zest and juice of 2 large lemons, 300ml water, 30g cornflour, 50g caster sugar, 2 large egg yolks

For the meringue:

4 large egg whites, 200g caster sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C.
2. To make the lemon curd: Put the cornflour and sugar into a medium saucepan and gradually stir in the water. Mix to a smooth paste and then into a cloudy liquid, add the lemon zest. Bring to the boil, stirring all the time, simmer for two minutes. Add the lemon juice and stir well.
3. Put the egg yolks into a mixing bowl. Gradually pour the lemon mixture over them, stirring all the time. divide the lemon mixture between the creme brulee dishes.
4. To make the meringue: whisk the egg whites until stiff, add the sugar a tablespoon at a time until thick and glossy.
5. Using a palatte knife spread the meringue over the lemon bases. Make peaks over the top. Place in the oven for 45 minutes until golden and crisp.
6. Serve either warm at room temperature.

3 Oct 2011


These mini carrot cakes were an excuse to dust off my mini loaf tins which I haven't used for a while. The cakes are deliciously moist with background notes of cinnamon and ground ginger and the lemon cream cheese icing compliments the cake well.

You will need: 20 mini loaf tins lightly greased (5cm x 10cm) or two mini loaf pans.

175g brown sugar, 250ml vegetable oil, 4 large eggs, 200g plain flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 250g grated carrot, 50g chopped pecan nuts plus extra for decoration, 80g sultanas, 125ml crushed pineapple.

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Place the greased mini loaf tins onto a baking tray. Beat together the sugar, eggs and oil for 5 minutes until fluffy.
2. Sift the dry ingredients and add to the sugar, oil and egg mixture, together with the grated carrots, nuts, pineapple and sultanas.
3. Mix everything together and pour into the loaf tins.
4. Bake for approximately 30 minutes.

Lemon Cream Cheese Icing

You will need:
60g softened unsalted butter, 250g icing sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 80g cream cheese, grated zest of 1 lemon

Place all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat together until the icing is light and fluffy. Spread the icing over the cooled cakes, decorate with extra pecans.