Category Archives: Puddings & Desserts

Strawberry and Banana Yoghurt Pops

Francesca: strawberry & banana yogurt pops

Wowsers things are busy round here. Packing and organising for the BIG move to the UK, working on a migration to a new blog (more on my exciting venture soon!), a trip to London for Food Blogger Connect last weekend (again more on this wonderful weekend shortly), snippets of time visiting friends for good byes AND it’s the big ten week school holidays here so have two kids desperate for some holiday action!. Needless to say there’s been many a trip to various water parks, swimming pools and lakes. So I offer my sincere apologies for the sporadic blogging now and over the next few weeks.  The simply aren’t enough hours in the day for all I have to do!.

In view of my extreme state of busyness here’s a real quickie of a recipe today, Strawberry and Banana Yoghurt Pops which could probably be made and bobbed in the freezer in less than two minutes flat. And they’re good, really good. More importantly the kids LOVE them, and since they’re considerably healthier than any lolly you could possibly buy, containing only fresh fruit, natural yogurt and a weeny bit of honey to sweeten, that’s a very good thing in this baking hot weather we’re currently having!. Homemade lollies are definitely the way forward, and if you don’t have any lolly makers why not invest in a set or two, mine cost a mere two euros! And if you don’t want to use fresh fruit you could always just fill and freeze them with fruit juice (which is actually what I do more often than not!).

Feel free to vary your fresh fruit, a few days ago I also made a batch with raspberries and peaches (though admittedly I did add a little more honey), just use up whatever you have lurking. A great way to get your kids eating plenty of fruit, and to quickly use up any gluts.

Strawberry & Banana Lolly

Credit-Crunch-MunchBeing notably cheaper than bought lollies I shall be entering this post to Credit Crunch Munch’s event, co-hosted by Camila of Fab Food 4 All and Helen of Fuss Free Strawberry-FundasFlavours, and this month by Sian of Fishfingers for Tea. I recently happened to notice a new challenge on the block called Strawberry Preservation Fundas, hosted by Techie Cookie Freaky calling for bloggers to submit their strawberry preservation recipes, so naturally I thought of entering my lollies!.

Yogurt Lollies

Strawberry and Banana Yogurt Pops

Great For: Toddlers and Pre-schoolers, Big Kids, Grown Ups, Summer, Parties, Snacks, After School Treats, Fruit Gluts

Serves: Makes 6 Lollies (though this will depend on the size of your lolly maker)

Special Equipment: a hand held stick blender OR food processor or liquidiser, lolly makers

125g strawberries, washed and hulled

a large banana

125g plain yogurt, greek, cows, sheeps, goats are all fine (I’ve tried them all!)

dessertspoon of runny honey

1. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and whiz with a stick blender until the consistency of a smoothie. Or place in a processor or liquidiser and blitz.

2. Pour into your lolly moulds and place in a freezer for a few hours or overnight until they’re set.

And that really is all there is to it!. Off to do some packing…..

Strawberry & Banana Yogurt Pops

Strawberry & Banana Yogurt Pops

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Rhubarb Tart

Rhubarb Tart

It’s been quite a while since I posted anything in the sweet or pud line, but then it’s pretty rare I make anything outside of a good old crumble, bread and butter pudding or a cake. But today, armed with some handsome pickings of homegrown Rhubarb, I tasked myself with being a little more inventive and put together this cheeky wee tart. A simple (bought!) puff pastry base, smeared with a fine layer of gingered & slightly sweetened creme fraiche and topped with roasted rhubarb it really is simplicity in itself. And was pretty heavenly served with a generous dollop of the flavoured creme fraiche. It’s quite a ‘tart’ tart but then that’s how I personally like my fruit. Feel free to be more generous with the sugar than myself.

Rhubarb

On a sweeter note, it was my wee fella’s Big Third Birthday last week. The requested blinged-up (he LOVES his silver balls!) Choccie Cake was successfully made and (messily) consumed.

Happy Big Third Birthday to Baba Jacques!

Happy Big Third Birthday to Baba Jacques!

Jacques

Since rhubarb is very much in season I shall of course be entering my tart to Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season event.

Simple and in Season

Rhubarb Tart

Rhubarb Tart:

Serves 6:

6 – 8 Rhubarb Stalks

2 dessertspoons of Dark Soft Brown Sugar

3 heaped tablespoons of Creme Fraiche (half or full fat)

½ teaspoon of Ground Ginger

250g of ready made Puff Pastry

a little Plain Flour for rolling

a medium Free Range Egg, lightly beaten

a teaspoon of Icing Sugar, plus a little more for serving if you wish

Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC.

Start with roasting off the rhubarb. Wash and cut the stems into roughly even lengths – anywhere between 5 and 10 cm. Place on a baking tray and scatter over a dessertspoon of the dark soft brown sugar and 4 tablespoons of water. Place in the hot oven for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Leave the oven on for the tart.

Meanwhile mix the creme fraiche with the remaining dessertspoon of soft brown sugar, the ginger and any juices from the rhubarb tray.

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to a rectangular shape. Roll it out a little larger than you intend the tart to be, so you can cut off some side strips. It should be big enough to house your rhubarb fairly closely. Cut 0.5 to 1 cm off each side and glue on to the sides with a brushing of beaten egg. The total size of my tart was about 15 by 30 cm which is probably what you’re aiming at. Brush the side strips with the egg.

Spread a fine layer of the creme fraiche mixture over the base of the tart. There should be plenty left to serve with the cooked tart. Lay the rhubarb strips. Sprinkle (through a sieve) over a teaspoon of the icing sugar. Place in the still hot oven for 25 minutes, or until the pastry is browned, cooked and risen.

Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving with a generous dollop of the flavoured creme fraiche. Dust with a little extra icing sugar if you wish.

A slice of Rhubarb Tart

You might also like:

Courgette Cake with Homemade Lemon Curd

Courgette Cake with Homemade Lemon Curd

Clementine & Almond Cake

Clementine & Almond Cake


A Guest Post by The Healthy Epicurean – Almond Chocolate Cake

Almond Chocolate Cake

Hello! I’m Fiona, The Healthy Epicurean. I’m afraid you’re stuck with me today writing as a Guest Blogger, because Louisa and I are doing a ‘cake swap’. I hope that my cake lives up to the deliciously high standards you’ve come to expect from Chez Foti. I blog from our traditional Landaise farmhouse in the middle of the forest in Southwestern France, surrounded by numerous mad animals. I aspire to a wonderful vegetable garden like Louisa, but for the moment haven’t got further than tomatoes. I talk about it quite a lot though 😉 The recipes on my blog are healthy, in that they use ‘real’ and nutritious ingredients such as butter, unrefined flours and cane sugar. I try too to use seasonal fruit and vegetables as much as possible. I tend to rant on a fairly regular basis about endocrine-wrecking ‘plastic’ ingredients like margarine, highly-refined or ready-made food and sweetners, etc.

I can’t eat wheat so this cake is wheat and gluten-free, as are all of my recipes. The fact that it uses powdered almonds instead of flour means that, for a chocolate cake, its glycemic index is low and it contains valuable nutrients – almonds are packed full of protein, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. It also has a fairly low sugar content. What’s not to like?

Ingredients

5 eggs

130g cane sugar

140g powdered almonds

60g butter

60g coconut oil

125g dark chocolate (preferably 90% coco)

pinch of bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Melt the chocolate with the butter and coconut oil. Once melted, add to the sugar, egg yolks, almonds, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and pour into a 20cm cake tin. Bake for 45 minutes.

Louisa – Thanking you very kindly Fiona, so can’t wait to try this fabulously healthy choccie cake, ’tis now on my baking to do list!. Please bob over to Fiona’s gorgeous site – The Healthy Epicurean to see my cakey offering of a similarly gluten and wheat-free Clementine & Almond Cake, and to browse through her deliciously tempting and inspired healthy recipes. Not to mention the awesome photos and drawings!


Clementine and Almond Cake

Clementine & Almond Cake

I know, I know, I know it’s not really the time for cakes in health-conscious diet-ridden January. But it’s REALLY cold here, as it is in the UK. And now that the christmas cake’s finally been gnawed away (it was huge!) I’ve been in need of a little cakey sustenance to ward off the cold. And on the whole this is about as healthy as a cake can be. No butter, no icing, no drizzle, not even any flour. Just cooked (whole!) clementines (or tangerines or satsumas), ground almonds, eggs and sugar. Oh and a little Amaretto to perk things up a little. And it’s a truly wonderful all-rounder of the cakey world, equally delicious as a tea time treat (yes I’m entering it!) with a cuppa, an elevensie with a coffee or even a dinner party pud dolled up with a spoon of mascarpone or creme fraiche.

Originally a Nigella recipe that I’ve slightly adapted over time, but interesting the exact same recipe’s been sighted in a Bill Granger book too. And I mean EXACT. So who’s copying who Nige and Bill?!

As this month’s Tea Time Treat’s theme is the citrus fruit I’m entering Bill’s/Nigella’s recipe to the challenge. TTT’s is jointly hosted by Lavender and Lovage and What Kate Baked

Tea Time Treatrs logo

I’m also putting it forward to the One Ingredient Challenge, hosted by Laura at How to Cook Good Food (this month’s host to the Orange Challenge) and Nazima at Franglais Kitchen.

One-Ingredient-Oranges-300x199

Clementine & Almond Cake

Clementine & Almond Cake

375g of clementines, tangerines or satsumas (they all work!)

5 large free range eggs

225g of golden caster sugar

250g of ground almonds

a heaped teaspoon of baking powder, sieved

a tablespoon of Amaretto

a little icing sugar for dusting

Special Equipment: a 21cm spring-sided baking tin lined with greaseproof paper

Place the clementines in a saucepan and cover the fruit with cold water. Bring to the boil, cover and leave to simmer away for 2 hours. Top up the water level as it drops. After 2 hours remove from the water and allow to cool for a few minutes. Whiz to a pulp in a processor.

Pre-heat your oven to 190ºC.

Now on with this cinch of  a cake. Whisk up the eggs in a large bowl, using a balloon whisk. Then whisk in the sugar followed by the ground almonds and baking powder. Finally stir in the clementine pulp.

Pour the cake mixture into your lined cake tin and bake in the pre-heated oven for around 40 minutes. It should be golden on top, firm to touch and an inserted skewer will come out clean. Leave to cool in the tin on a cooling rack.

Once cool carefully remove from the tin and lightly dust with sieved icing sugar. Serve as is or with a naughty spoon of creme fraiche or mascarpone.

Here’s some other Chez Foti cakey treats you might like to try: Chocolate Pumpkin Cake, Courgette Cake with Homemade Lemon Curd, Super-Fruity Banana Mini Muffins

Clementine & Almond Cake


White Chocolate and Cranberry Christmas Cookies

White Chocolate & Cranberry Cookies

I’ve had a bit of a spate of cookie baking lately. Due in the main to my new cooker and in keeping my promise to Mr F that it would feed him with a regular supply of biscuity goodies. He is rather fond of his biscuits to say the least, and gets very grumpy if there happen to be less than two spare packets in the cupboard (the number of which he can easily polish off in a single tea dunking session). And cookies I find are the perfect almost instantaneous biscuit hit. The dough’s frighteningly easy and quick to make and can handily be made in advance and stored for several days in the fridge or considerably longer in the freezer. Then simply brought out when the urge for a cookie takes over or guests arrive, cut up (even straight from the freezer) and placed on a baking tray. And voila 9 minutes later you have the most perfectly naughty fresh cookies to munch.  Or in my case one very happy husband.

Three sausage rolls of Cookie Dough

Three sausage rolls of Cookie Dough, ready to be cut and baked

And so here’s my recipe for Christmas Cookies with White Chocolate Chunks and Dried Cranberries. This makes enough for about 30 large cookies, but I split the dough into thirds and only bake one lot at a time. Which will be particularly handy for sudden guests over the festive period. I’m planning on stockpiling quite a bit of cookie dough over the next couple of weeks!

breakfast-club-logoI’m entering my recipe to a couple of bloggie events that are running this month. Firstly for my first ever time to the Breakfast Club challenge created by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours to encourage more interesting breakfasts. This month it’s being hosted by Vanesther at Bangers and Mash Chat and has the theme of ‘Brunch’. And as it’s Christmas my cookies make a wickedly good brunch snack with a cup or two of coffee (I can vouch for this).

Christmas TTTI’m also entering this month’s Tea Time Treats, an event held jointly by What Kate Baked and Lavender and Lovage. The theme this month is Chocolate and these cookies so happen to be equally good with a cuppa at the end of the day (which I can also vouch for!).

White Chocolate & Cranberry Christmas Cookies

Makes 30 large cookies:

225g of butter, very soft

175g of light muscovado sugar

175g of caster sugar

2 medium free range eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

350g of plain flour

1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon of salt

200g of white chocolate, chopped into small chunks

150g of dried cranberries

Simply beat the butter until very soft (which is much easier to do if it’s been left to warm up out of the fridge for a while). Then beat in the sugars, then the eggs and the vanilla extract. Beat until smooth and creamy. Employ any spare children to do this bit for you!

In another bowl combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Slowly add the dry mix to the wet until  fully combined. Stir in the chocolate and cranberries. That really is all there is to it!.

Divide the mixture into three. Dollop each third onto a length of cling film. Using the cling film to hold the mixture together (it’s very soft and almost unworkable with bare hands) form into a long sausage shape, about 20 cm long and 5 cm wide. Twirl the ends of the cling film to secure into shape and pop into the fridge to firm up. Repeat with the other two thirds.

It’s good to use after about 30 minutes of firming up time. The dough will keep like this for several days in the fridge or much longer in a freezer.

When ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 190º/Gas 5. When it’s up to temperature, remove a section of dough from the fridge or freezer. Cut the sausage dough into 1.5 cm rounds, and simply place the rounds as they are, but very spread out, on a large baking sheet. They’ll melt down into a flat cookie shape all by themselves, my kids love to watch this.

Pop in the oven for 9 to 11 minutes. They’re ready when almost firm in the middle and a little brown. Remove from the tray immediately and cool a little on a rack before eating.

White Chocolate & Cranberry Cookies

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Cheesy Biscuits:                                     Super-Fruity Banana Mini-Muffins

Cheesy Biscuits

Francesca Super Fruity Banana Mini Muffins


Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

Yesterday it was Wednesday and there’s no school in most parts of France on Wednesdays so the littlies were at home. A bit odd at first but quite nice for the kids to have a day off half way through the week, especially as the school hours of 9 to 5 are so long (for Frannie anyway). Over the last few weeks it’s become a bit of baking day at Chez Foti, trying out a new cake or muffin recipe or two and getting the littlies to help with the weighing, pouring, whisking, stirring and of course most importantly the tasting. Yesterday it was the turn of a Chocolate Pumpkin Cake, not only one of the ‘healthiest’ cakes I’ve ever made but one of the moistest and most temptingly delicious. And the kids LOVE it. I think this’ll be a regular Wednesday bake!.

The stirring and tasting team

I love experimenting with veggies in cakes, much to the horror of the French who still haven’t really got to grips with the humble carrot cake. I made many a Courgette Cake with homemade Lemon Curd over the summer, and lots of Chocolate Courgette or Marrow Cakes of late using up the last of the glut. I’ve also baked quite a bit with Butternut Squash in Muffins and Cakes and once even made a gloriously coloured Beetroot Chocolate Cake. But using Pumpkin was a newbie to me, and after a couple of attempts I’ve perfected my recipe and it really is a winner. Low in sugar, and only using healthier unrefined Light Muscavado anyway, and richly flavoured by Roasted Pumpkin, Cocoa and a little warming Cinnamon.

We’ve more than a few pumpkins at Chez Foti, to be honest I’ve not counted them but there’s a lot. They should definitely see us through the winter and I have a feeling the blog will be moving from it’s recent tomato red to pumpkin orange. I’ve picked a few already but most are still out on the patch and will stay there slowly ripening until there’s a risk of frosts.

The Leaning Tower of Pumpkins!

I’m entering this blog for my first ever time to the We Should Cocoa challenge, held by Choclette of the Chocolate Log Blog and the Chocolate Teapot Blog and this month guest hosted by Hungry Hinny. This month’s challenge is to pair Pumpkin with Chocolate or Cocoa.

I’m going for a double whammy and also putting it forward to the One Ingredient Challenge, as this month the ingredient so happens to be Squash or Pumpkin!. The challenge is held jointly by Laura at How to Cook Good Food and this month by Nazima at Franglais Kitchen.

I baked my cake in a medium sized baking tin and made a wee extra in one of my Oogaa bowls for the kids. Being silicone they’re perfect for baking cakes in. Incase you haven’t already dropped by, the Oogaa Recipe site is now up and running and features several Chez Foti baby and kids recipes. You can even add your own recipes!

The kids love their cakes baked in an Oogaa silicone bowl

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

Makes one very large traybake (20 x 35cm tin) or a smaller tin and a few individual cakes. Can be frozen.

700g of pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed, and cut into very large chunks

120g of unsalted butter, room temperature

120ml of sunflower oil

260g of light muscovado sugar

3 medium free range eggs, lightly beaten

130ml of milk

350g of plain flour

50g of cocoa powder

2 heaped teaspoons of baking powder

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

Special Equipment: 20 x 35cm baking tin lined with baking parchment, or 6 silicone Oogaa bowls 

Begin with roasting your pumpkin. Place the very large chunks on a baking sheet in an oven pre-heated to 190ºC/Gas Mark 5. Bake for about 40 minutes until they’re pretty soft, turning once or twice during the cooking time. Once cooked remove from the pan, place in a bowl and thoroughly mash with a potato masher. Leave to cool a little. This part could always be done before, when you happen to be using the oven.

Meanwhile start the cake batter. Place the very soft butter, sunflower oil and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Stir or whisk until well combined.

Whisk in the eggs, followed by the milk.

Now gradually sift in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and cinnamon to the cake mixture, stirring until well combined with each sifting.

Finally stir in the slightly cooled mashed pumpkin and spoon out into your lined baking tin or bowls. Bake big cakes in the preheated oven (190ºC/Gas Mark 5) for 30 to 40 minutes and smaller ones for around 25 minutes. They’re ready when they’re firm to touch on the top (but still feeling a little squidgy), and an inserted skewer comes out clean of crumbs.

Cut into squares and serve as soon as cool enough to eat. You won’t be able to resist long!

Here’s some other Chez Foti sweet treats: Easy Chocolate Birthday Cake, Courgette Cake with Homemade Lemon Curd, Chocolate Brownies, My Girly Fairy Cake Heaven, Super-Fruity Banana Mini Muffins.

Little Miss F having an approving taste!

Courgette Cake with Homemade Lemon Curd

Back on with the courgette season and yep, you did read Courgette Cake, and of the sweet variety too!. Just think of an extraordinarily moist carrot cake with green flecks (and no carrots). Filled with super zingily zesty lemon curd and topped with lemon cream cheese frosting. Yuuuuuummmm. It is.

I first made a courgette cake last summer at a time when my husband was threatening to leave me if I cooked another courgette. Seven plants we realised were way too many for a family of four, especially when two of them are tiddlers and one of the grown ups isn’t a big fan. Which is precisely why I’ve come to have nine, yes NINE plants this year. It was an accident, there were supposed to be four but it seems there was a little mix up on the seed front. And now I fear the summer may end in divorce. Which is precisely why we’re back on the courgette cakes; ’tis Mr F’s preferred usage of a courgette. It’s also one of the few cakes that don’t burn their bum in my awful oven. And only my second blogged cake. Whilst recently adding a Recipe Index to the blog it came to my attention I only had one entry under Cake (Jacques’ Chocolate Birthday Cake), which is obviously wrong on many levels.. Considering I actually do make cakes pretty often at Chez Foti I’ll now be making a concerted effort to blog, and eat, a few more!.

I’d love to take credit for the recipe but sadly I can’t, but Nigella can. It’s from her How to be a Domestic Goddess book. Albeit I switched the lime curd for lemon as we’d recently been given some gorgeous lemons picked from a tree in Spain and they needed using up. My recipe for lemon curd is at the bottom of the blog.

Courgette Cake

The Cake:

60g of raisins or sultanas

250g of courgettes

2 large eggs

125ml of vegetable oil

150g of golden caster sugar

225g of self-raising flour

½ a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

½ a teaspoon of baking powder

2 x 21cm cake tins, greased and lined

Lemon Curd Filling:

2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon curd, homemade (my recipe’s below) or shop bought

Lemon Cream Cheese Topping:

200g of cream cheese

100g of icing sugar, sieved

juice of ½ a lemon

2 – 3 tablespoons of chopped pistachio nuts

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas Mark 4.

Plump up the sultanas or raisins in a small bowl of warm water for a few minutes.

Grate the courgettes coarsely and place in a sieve over the sink or another bowl to drain out the excess moisture.

Place the eggs, oil and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat together until creamy. Sieve in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Continue to beat until well incorporated. Stir in the courgette and drained sultanas/raisins.

Divide the cake mixture between the two tins. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes until firm to the touch and slightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for a few tins before turning out onto cooling racks to cool fully.

Meanwhile make the topping. Beat the cream cheese for a few minutes before adding the icing sugar. Continue to beat for a few minutes more before beating in the lemon juice.

Now to assemble the cake. Place one cake on your cake stand or plate. Spread over the lemon curd. Sandwich over the other cake. Now spread the frostring over the top of the cake and scatter on the chopped pistachios.

Super Zingy Zesty Lemon Curd

Makes 2 jars of curd, which keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks

The juice and zest of 4 unwaxed lemons

200g of golden caster sugar

100g of unsalted butter

3 medium eggs plus one yolk, lightly whisked together

Set a large pan of water to boil. When boiling turn down to the gentlest heat possibly and place a heat proof bowl over the top (though the bowl should not be touching the water).

Place the lemon juice and zest, sugar and butter in the bowl and stir every now and again.

Once the butter’s melted whisk in the eggs, continuing to gently whisk almost continuously for about 10 minutes. The curd is ready when it’s considerably thickened and feels heavy on the whisk.

Pour into super clean jars and leave out to cool. Once fully cool, screw on the lids and store in the fridge.


Chocolate Birthday Cake

It was Baba Jacques’ 2nd Birthday a couple of weeks ago. For one reason or another ,and usually by popular request, I tend to make lemon or orange birthday cakes or a combo of the two. But this time I fancied a change, and as Jacques’ never really that bothered about cakes anyway I went for a choccie one as that’s what I fancied!

As ever it was a quickie last minute operation and my Google search for ‘easy chocolate cake’ came up with this gem of a recipe, thanking you kindly The BBC. It’s a recipe I know I’ll be using time and time again for birthday cakes, or for a special tea time or after dinner treat. It’s incredibly quick, easy and surprisingly low in fat (choccie icing aside anyway). Not that you would have any indication of this from it’s rich fudgily (I’m making up words again) moist texture and depth of flavour.

So here’s the recipe, that I haven’t changed a bean of from the original: It makes two 20cm round cakes.

For the Cake:

225g of plain flour

350g of caster sugar

85g of cocoa powder

1½ teaspoons of baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda

2 free-range eggs

250ml of milk

125ml of vegetable oil

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

250ml of boiling water

For the Icing:

200g of plain chocolate

200ml of double cream

Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC/Gas 4.

Grease and line two 20cm wide cake tins with butter or oil.

Place all the cake ingredients together, except for the boiling water, in a large bowl. Using an electric whisk or a wooden spoon beat together until very well combined.

Slowly add the boiling water a little at a time, mixing continuously. The cake mixture will now be very liquid.

Evenly pour into the cake tins and bake in the oven for 25 to 35 minutes. The cakes are ready when the top is firm to touch and an inserted skewer or fork comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tins.

Now prepare the icing. Place the chocolate and cream in a saucepan and place over a very gentle heat. Stir continuously. Once the chocolate has melted into the cream remove from the heat and whisk the mixture until it’s very smooth and glossy. Set aside to cool for one to two hours.

Remove the cakes from the tins. Spread about a third of the icing over the top of one of the cakes. Sandwich the other cake on top. Now spread the remainder of the icing over the top and sides of the entire cake.

Decoration with Smarties purely optional!

Other recipes you might like, Chocolate Brownies, Cheesy Biscuits, Sticky Apple Pudding, Bread & Butter Leftovers Pudding


Super-Fruity Homemade Rice Pudding

8 months +, toddlers & young children, grown ups too!

Homemade rice pudding is so super douper easy everyone should give it a go. Most recipes bake it slowly in the oven but I’ve successfully experimented with simmering the milk and rice in a pan on the hob and considerably shortened the cooking time. The addition of lots of dried fruit gives this pud an extra healthy punch, and even kids adverse to dried fruit will probably enjoy it this way being so meltingly soft. If your making the pud for really little ones or kids that truely do not do dried fruit then omit and add a touch more sugar.

I used to make lots of milky puddings when my wee boy was weaning as once he had his first taste of solids he barely drank another drop of milk and I had to make sure he still got plenty of the white stuff down one way or another. Together with a few milky puds, I was always lucky that the little fella loved his yoghurts, cheese, porridge and milky cereals so it was never too much of a problem. He’s just turned two now and still refuses to drink milk on it’s own!.

Milk is the most important source of calcium to little people, as well as containing protein and a whole bunch of vitamins and minerals. Raisins, sultanas and dried apricots not only count towards your child’s five a day but are a wonderful natural sugar and sweetener. I always add a handful to my kids’ porridge and regularly use in puddings and cakes to replace large, and often unnecessary, quantities of sugar.

for a family of four:

90g of pudding rice (½ cup)

30g of golden caster sugar (1⁄8 cup)

675ml of full fat milk (3 cups)

80g of raisins or sultanas (⅓ to ½ cup)

60g of finely chopped dried apricots (just over ⅓ of a cup)

Simply place all the ingredients in a saucepan, stir to combine, and place on as gentle a heat as your hob will allow.

Slowly bring to a simmer and allow to bubble away for 30 minutes, stirring at regular intervals. If the rice looks like it’s drying out add a touch more milk.

The rice should be gloopy and very very soft.  Serve whilst warm or hot.

Here’s some of my other puddings: Sticky Apple Pudding and Bread & Butter Leftovers Pudding


Nigella’s Choccie Brownies

If I want to bake something yum quickly then this is what I make, such a doddle, quick and generally faultless….even in our worse than useless oven (though admittedly I do occasionally have to slice off a burnt bum!). But this week we had the good fortune of Grandma’s wonderful fully functioning temperature controlled oven! Hence the run on half term baking.

I often serve brownies as a crowd pleaser pudding when we have friends round, and tend to keep a few in the freezer for impromptu visits. Unbelievably great served warm with ice cream and hot choc sauce.

Sadly I can’t any glory for the recipe as it’s originally the lovely Nigella’s (from her How to be a Domestic Goddess book) and was brought to my attention by the even lovelier supermum-supercook Lucinda. Lucinda used to bake my husband (and occasionally me) whole batches of these lovely brownies when he was working for her as a builder a few years ago in London, he’s such a sucker for homemade cakes and would gladly except them on part payment terms! Since leaving London I’ve taken over baking the brownies and do you know what, he still doesn’t rate them as highly as his Lovely Lucinda’s…despite using the exact same Nigella recipe. But luckily all those who don’t know Lucinda do!.

The original recipe calls for walnuts (250g) which occasionally I add, though more often don’t as we never seem to have any in. I’ve also added fresh raspberries and white chocolate chunks to the recipe in summers past which takes the humble brownie to a whole new level. As so much chocolate goes into these brownies you can really tell the difference if you use a good quality bar with a minimum 70% cocoa solids content.

Makes 30 – 35 small brownies:

300g butter
300g good quality plain chocolate, broken into chunks
5 medium eggs
400g caster sugar
1 dessertspoon of vanilla extract
185g plain flour
a large pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 180°C.

Butter and line with baking paper a brownie tin that’s about 25 by 30 cm (or even a little smaller if that’s what you have).

Melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan over a very low heat, stirring very regularly. Once melted set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Meanwhile whisk the eggs in a large bowl and whisk in the sugar and vanilla extract. Stir in the slightly cooled chocolate mix. Finally add the salt and flour and combine the whole lot together with just a few turns of your mixing spoon. Apparently the trick to great brownies (from Lucinda the Queen of Brownies herself) is not to over stir the mixture. I get my three year old daughter to do this bit for me, a perfect task for her none too deft little hands!

Scrape the mixture into your tin, shake a little to evenly distribute and place in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes.

Towards the end of the cooking time regularly check the brownies as you don’t want to overdo them. They’re ready when the top is dry with a paler brown surface, but the middle is very dark brown, dense and still a little bit gooey. Remember that they’ll continue to cook a little more after they’re removed from the oven.

Whilst still hot score the top into little brownie squares


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