I have been extremely neglectful of this blog over the last year (by neglectful I mean totally absent). I had to have a bit of a break from my love of cooking when I got pregnant with my little girl. The first four months were spent spewing, and the last three I had such terrible back/pelvis issues that standing up for long enough to make a sandwich was sufficiently painful to put me off cooking. I guess for the middle bit I just wasn’t so keen on entertaining when it seemed inappropriate to drink bucket loads of wine. At least not in front of people.
But the bun is now out of the oven and somewhere in between running a business, looking after two small people, and not losing my mind, I thought I’d give it another go. And what better way to jump back into it than with some gloriously easy puddings for when you want to stuff your face and impress your dinner guests all at once.
These can all be made well in advance, or rustled up in moments on the night, so you can serve up something lovely at the end of the meal with minimal fuss. Perfect if you’ve had a few wines!
This Nigella recipe was a recent find, and while we’re counting the pennies a short (and cheap) ingredients list is always appealing. I have also become a bit obsessed with honey since being back on porridge for breakfast (the one food I couldn’t stand when I was pregnant) and this dish lets the honey shine. This is a doddle to make and absolutely delicious.
1 large egg
4 large egg yolks
100g honey (plus extra for serving)
300ml double cream
25g pine nuts
1. Line a loaf tin with cling film.
2. Mix the honey, egg and egg yolks in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until it’s pale and thick.
3. Whip the double cream until thick and then carefully fold the honey mixture into the cream. Tip into the load tin and cover with more clingfilm. Freeze for a few hours (or make the day before).
4. Toast your pine nuts in a warm frying pan until golden and put aside.
5. To serve, turn the semi-freddo out onto a plate, drench with more honey and sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts. Slice and gorge!
ICED BERRIES WITH A HOT WHITE CHOCOLATE AND LIMONCELLO SAUCE
Another Nigella special. This takes moments to prepare and is rich and refreshing all at once. Be careful not to overdo the limoncello. I would never normally advocate frugality on the booze front but with this one less is more.
250ml double cream
4 tbsp limoncello
200g white chocolate, broken into bits
500g frozen mixed berries (unthawed)
1. Mix 2 tbsps of the limoncello and the double cream in a saucepan and heat gently (don’t boil). When warm add the white chocolate and stir while it melts.
2. Meanwhile put the berries into bowls and sprinkle with the remaining limoncello.
3. When the sauce is ready pour it over the berries and serve immediately – before the berries thaw!
Who doesn’t love tiramisu? Booze, coffee and cream in pudding form. Heaven. This quick version from Gino D’Acampo is even better if you make it the day before so everything has a bit longer to ooze together. This was the pudding I missed the most while I was pregnant (because of the raw eggs) and it was the first dessert I made afterwards.
3 cups of strong black coffee, cooled
3 tbsp caster sugar
6 tbsp Amaretto liqueur
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites
250g/8¾oz mascarpone cheese
250ml/8¾ fl oz whipped cream
cocoa powder, to dust
1 packet of Savoiardi (sponge lady finger biscuits)
1. Put the cold coffee in a shallow bowl (big enough to lie the savoiardi in) and add three tbsps of the amaretto.
2. Beat together the sugar and egg yolks until pale and thick. Add the mascarpone and mix well. Fold in the whipped cream gently with a metal spoon.
3. In another bowl beat the egg whites until you have soft peaks. Then fold the egg whites carefully into the cream mixture. Add the rest of the amaretto and mix gently so as not to lose the volume.
4. Soak each biscuit in the coffee mixture, shake off the excess and line the bottom of your serving dish. Cover with the cream mixture, then add another layer of biscuits and another layer of cream. Dust the top with cocoa powder.
5. Refridgerate for a couple of hours or until firm. I think it’s even better the next day!
LITTLE ICED LEMON MOUSSES
Perfect for serving in pretty glasses or teacups as you only need a little per person because they are quite rich. They literally take 10 mins to make!
300g or 312g jar lemon curd
zest of 1 lemon
300ml whipping or double cream
25g lemon flavoured biscuits
1. Put the zest and cream in a bowl with two thirds of the lemon curd and beat until it just holds its shape. Spoon over the rest of the lemon curd so it marbles with the mixture and divide into 6 little serving dishes. Cover with clingfilm and freeze for an hour (or more if you’re making them ahead).
2. Bash the biscuits up to make chunky crumbs. When you’re ready for dessert take the mousses from the freezer, top with the biscuit crumbs and serve.
POACHED PEARS IN ROSE SYRUP
I always thought poached pears seemed such a grown-up pudding. I made these the other day as part of a Persian-inspired menu and they were syrupy and gorgeous. The hint of rose makes them really special.
220g caster sugar
6 cardamom pods, bruised
1 cinnamon quill
6 small pears, peeled
2 tablespoons rosewater
A few drops pink food colouring
Vanilla ice cream, to serve
1. Put 750ml of water in a saucepan with the sugar and heat on a medium-low setting, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the cinnamon, cardamom and pears, and cover the surface with a sheet of baking paper. Poach the pears until tender (probably 10-15mins depending on how ripe they are). Remove the pears and set aside.
2. Simmer the poaching liquid for a further 10-15 minutes until it is reduced and syrupy. Mix in the rosewater and food colouring, then return the pears and allow to cool.
3. Halve the pears and serve with vanilla ice cream.
*This was first posted in March 2015.