Regular readers may know by now that I love a bit of hedgerow foraging, especially at this time of year. I used to love picking blackberries in Cornwall with my Grandma until my fingers (and probably my mouth) were stained blue and purple.
The same readers may also have picked up on the fact that I don’t just like my booze in a glass. I really enjoy incorporating it into my baking too, even more since I learned that you could use gin in pastry for light, crisp results. (https://colonialcravings.wordpress.com/2015/07/27/gin-and-lemon-tart/) The principles are the same with this, the booze will evaporate at a different temperature to the buttermilk and cream in the recipe, making the scones light and fluffy.
The bourbon and blackberries make these scones into a wonderful autumnal treat, just the thing when you’re pining for the cream teas of summer’s past. They’re ideal with a cup of tea after a day spent kicking your way through fallen leaves.
375g plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
20g soft brown sugar
125g fresh ripe blackberries (smaller ones work better)
1 tsp vanilla paste
2 tsp Demerara sugar to decorate
Pre-heat your oven to 200°c and pop a large baking sheet in there.
Sift together the flour, raising agents and cinnamon so that they are well blended. Stir through the salt and sugar. Cut the butter into small pieces and rub it into the flour mixture with your fingertips. Once it looks a bit like breadcrumbs you can gently toss in the blackberries.
Combine the buttermilk, cream, bourbon and vanilla in a separate jug. Add this to the dry mixture, in two lots, stirring gently with a butter knife to bring it all together to form a soft dough.
Gently pat the dough out on a lightly floured surface so that it’s about 1/2″ thick. Stamp out the scones using a metal cutter with a sharp tap. Never twist your cutter when you’re making scones.
Carefully re-roll the dough as necessary but try to keep this to a minimum so that you don’t break up the fruit too much.
Take the tray out of the oven and very carefully grease it (I use a spray) before placing the scones on it, spaced a little way apart. Brush the tops with a little extra buttermilk and then sprinkle each one with a bit of Demerara sugar to give it a crunchy top. Bake them for 15-18 minutes, until they have risen and become golden brown.
Transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool a little before serving with some cool creamy butter or a generous dollop of clotted cream.
I bloomin’ love these cute little cakes! So much so that it’s a wonder that Mr Colonial Cravings even got a look-in with them. I could have quite cheerfully polished off the lot. I love an almond sponge at the best of times but if you top it off with some crunchy, buttery crumble then there’s a chance that I might just bite your hand off to get to them.
These are really light and fluffy and look so dainty too. Honestly, I just can’t get enough of them. I’d rather have one of these than a cupcake any day. They make me want to drink Darjeeling tea out of bone china cups.
They’re wonderful on their own but even better topped with a dollop of silky clotted cream.
65g cold butter
100g plain flour
75g butter (room temperature)
pinch of salt
2 eggs (separated)
1/3 tsp almond extract
100g ground almonds
50g fine semolina
1 tsp baking powder
Small punnet of fresh raspberries
Pre-heat your oven to 180°c and grease a muffin tin really well with butter.
Start by making the crumble topping. Simply rub the butter into the flour and sugar with the tips of your fingers. Pop this in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Next make the sponge.
Cream together the butter, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the egg yolks and the almond extract and mix again to combine.
Whip the egg whites in another bowl until they hold a stiff peak.
Mix the almonds, semolina and baking powder into the butter/sugar/egg mixture. Use the milk to loosen this before carefully folding in the whipped egg whites using a large metal spoon. Make sure it’s well combined but don’t knock all the air out of the eggs.
Divide the batter between the holes in the muffin tin and then push about 3 raspberries gently into the top of each one. Scatter over a little of the crumble topping and then bake them for about 20 minutes. They should be well risen and golden brown once they are done. Leave them to cool in the tin for 15-20 minutes then gently run a pallet knife around the edge of each one before carefully turning them out and popping them on a rack to cool completely before serving.
I’m not a fan of champagne or other sparkling wines. I would much rather have a beer than a glass of Bolly.
This however is the exception. I guess it’s a bit like a raspberry Bellini but with the added bonus of gin. I’m not going to lie, this is what really sells it to me.
The botanicals in the gin (I’ve tried this with Green Hat and Hendricks, both are great) really complement the acidity of the raspberry and wine. And obviously because it’s sparkling, it’ll make you feel all kinds of fancy!
1 small punnet of raspberries
2-3 tbsp really good gin (depending on how boozy you like things)
2 tsp icing sugar
1 bottle of chilled prosecco
mint leaves to garnish
Pick out enough nice looking raspberries for a garnish and then whizz together the sugar, gin and remaining raspberries in a food processor. Pass this through a fine mesh sieve to leave you with a smooth puree.
Add a generous tablespoon of the puree to each glass and top up (be careful, it’ll fizz up a bit) with the chilled prosecco. Garnish with the reserved raspberries and some mint leaves.
Coming from the UK I would never complain about the warm weather that we get in Maryland during the summer months. That said though, it does get ridiculously muggy at times. Seriously, the humidity some days makes it feel like we’re living in the tropics. Ice lollies, of all varieties, are one of the best ways to cut through this cloying stickiness. (Apart from maybe a chilly G&T!)
These make such a handy summer-time snack I should imagine that there’ll always be a few stashed in the freezer. They’re pretty low in fat (depending on the type of yogurt that you choose), are packed with calcium and let’s face it blueberries are pretty awesome for you too. It’s almost like you’re doing your body a favour by eating them!
I like these to be quite tart and tangy for maximum refreshment, but feel free to add more honey and sugar if you have a sweeter-tooth than me. If you are making them for kiddy-winks then they’ll almost certainly want them to be a touch less sharp.
makes 4-6 (depending on the size of your moulds)
300g Greek yogurt (any type)
2 tsp honey (more if you want it sweeter)
100g blueberries (I use part frozen and part fresh)
2 tsp sugar (again add more if you want them sweeter)
juice and zest of 1 lemon
splash of milk/cream (you might not need this)
Combine 80g of the blueberries with the lemon juice and sugar and gently heat them until they become thick and syrupy. Just swirl the pan rather than stirring it so that you don’t beak up the fruit too much. Leave this to cool.
Whisk together the yogurt, lemon zest and honey until they are well combined. If it seems a touch too thick to easily fill the lolly moulds then add a splash of milk/cream too.
Toss the reserved, uncooked fruit into the blueberry compote and then swirl it into the yogurt mixture to give it a nice marbled look. Spoon or pour this into the moulds, leaving a little room in each to allow for it to expand as it freezes. Give each of the moulds a bit of a shake or tap to get ride of any air bubbles too. Freeze until solid.
Once they are frozen solid I unmould them and store them, wrapped in cling film, in a tupperware tub so that I can free-up my ice lolly moulds for other frozen treats.
Note to supermarkets – if you make avocados 50 cents each I’m going to buy way too many of them. This in turn means that I’m going to have a lot of very ripe avocados to get creative with and there’s only so much guacamole that even I can eat. I bought six of these super cheap super fruits, hence the appearance on here of many avocado based recipes and this was what I made with the last (exceedingly ripe) one.
I think that this makes a really good dairy-free alternative to a milk shake and it feels a bit more indulgent than a smoothie. It’s very thick and creamy. Raspberries with avocado is one of my favourite combos, I think that their sharp tang really compliments the creaminess of the avocado.
This is packed with fibre and vitamin C and obviously you’ll be getting all the usual avocado based benefits too, so next time you get bored with your bowl of bran flakes maybe you should treat your tummy to one of these for breakfast!
125g raspberries (frozen ones work fine and keep the whole thing nice and chilled)
1-2 tsp honey (to taste)
squeeze of lime juice
1 very ripe avocado
350ml (approx) unsweetened almond milk
Whizz together the raspberries, honey and lime juice in a blender or food processor until they are well pureed. Add the avocado and the almond milk and blitz again until everything is thick, creamy and smooth, you don’t want any lumps of avocado that can get stuck up your straw!
Obviously we don’t really have a celebration like Independence day in the UK. Probably because we are just that, a United Kingdom, each of our little parts has celebratory Saints days of sorts (St Piran’s day for me!) but we don’t have one specific holiday for all of us. I’m not even really sure what we would celebrate if we did have one, the signing of the Magna Carta maybe? I suppose we have fireworks on Bonfire Night and we have public holidays for the Queens Jubilee (thanks your Maj!) but that’s probably as close as we come.
Being Brits over here means that we do get a little bit of good-hearted ‘Brit-baiting’ around the 4th of July but I have to say that it’s not a date that really means anything on my usual side of the pond. I missed out on last years celebrations (I went back home for the Glastonbury festival and stuck around for a week or so) but I have high hopes for seeing this years festivities in D.C.
So anyway, in the spirit of embracing Independence Day, which is actually a whole lot of fun (I love a good firework display!) I’ve come up with this UK-USA cross-over pudding. Something that we Brits over here can enjoy along with our American cousins. American cheesecake disguised as British trifle in the colours of both our nations flags. It’s like edible diplomacy!
Once these have been in the fridge for a while they’re pretty stable so you could even build them up in little jars to make portable picnic treats.
75g plain flour
15g Demerara sugar
45g salted butter, cut into small pieces
Blueberry compote layer
250g blueberries (fresh or frozen)
2 tbsp sugar
Macerated strawberry layer
250g fresh ripe strawberries
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp gin/Pimms/lemon juice
270g cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla paste
50g icing sugar
150ml double cream
Start by making the shortbread crumble and the compote so that they are cool when you assemble the trifle.
Pre-heat the oven to 180°c. Combine the sugar and the flour in a bowl and rub the butter into it. Once it looks likes a sort of rubble-y mixture press it into a baking tin or dish, keeping it quite chunky so that you have decent sized lumps when you break it up. Bake this for around 20 minutes, until it starts to look golden then set it aside to cool.
For the blueberry compote simply combine the sugar and berries in a small pan and allow them to gently bubble together for 5-10 minutes, until the juices become very thick and syrupy. Try not to stir the pan, as you’ll break up the fruit, just give it a swirl or a shake every so often. Leave this to cool once it’s done too.
Chop up the strawberries (quarters is usually fine for the smaller ones) and mix them with the sugar and booze or lemon juice. Put them in the fridge for about 30 minutes to macerate together.
The creamy cheesecake layer is really very easy to make. Use an electric mixer to beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla until it is smooth and creamy. Add the cream and beat again until it becomes quite thick and fluffy.
Once you have all of your components you can assemble the trifle, either in one big bowl or separate smaller glasses. It doesn’t really matter which order you put things in but I like the blueberry layer at the bottom so that the juice doesn’t leak through the other layers. I also make sure that I have cheesecake mixture either side of the shortbread crumble so that the fruit juices don’t make it go soft.
Once you’ve layered everything up you can decorate the top and then leave it in the fridge for a good couple of hours to set and become more firm.
A fool is a distinctly British dessert that it seems I may have previously over-looked on here. It’s so ridiculously easy to make and produces such delightfully fluffy fruity clouds, it’s the perfect summer pud. Fools are essentially just fruit puree combined with cream but I have seen them made with custards and yoghurt too.
Obviously, as you will have noticed by now, I love to make a boozy dessert. If you can’t choose between having dessert or after dinner drinks you should always have them both. Simultaneously. This one has been inspired by a cocktail I tried recently made with raspberries muddled with Drambuie and whiskey. I actually ordered it but rather selflessly swapped it with Mr Colonial Craving when he didn’t like the one he ordered. It has left me pining for another taste of it so I’ve come up with this deliciously creamy homage to it.
You can make the fruit puree in advance if you need to too but I wouldn’t recommend combining it with the cream until about an hour before you want to serve it. If you make it too far in advance the air tends to come out of the cream and you get a sort of boozy, creamy syrup at the bottom of the glass.
150g mixed raspberries and blackberries (frozen ones work fine)
50ml good bourbon (I used Gentleman Jack)
200ml double (heavy) cream
2 tbsp floral honey
Blitz together the bourbon and the fruit in a little food processor until it is well pureed. Pass this through a fine mesh sieve until you are just left with the seeds of the berries in the sieve and a bowl of fruit puree. Toss the seeds away.
Whip together the cream and honey until they are quite stiff and then fold or whisk in the fruit puree (you should have about 130ml of fruit). You can either make the fool look a uniform colour, like mine or leave it marbled and rippled. Both will taste absolutely glorious.
Divide between 4 pretty glasses and put them in the fridge to chill for a while. Before serving you can garnish them with a few extra berries and a sprig of mint.