Tag Archives: caramel


Darjeeling panna cotta

Panna cotta is pretty quick and easy to make (bar setting time) and it’s always sure to impress. It can be such an elegant dessert.
Darjeeling has a much more complex flavour than your average cup of Rosie Lea and it works really well paired with rich buttery caramel and fruity pears. It’s also Mr Colonial Cravings’ favourite brew, seriously, he talks about it like it’s vintage wine. Is there a tea equivalent of a sommelier? If there is I think that may be his dream job.
These panna cottas will take you about 20 minutes to make and then you can just leave them in the fridge until you need them. You can either serve this in ramekins or glasses, or if you’re feeling brave set them in moulds and turn them out onto plates before serving.

Darjeeling panna cotta

serves 4
250ml double cream
250ml milk
2 tbsp darjeeling tea leaves
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste/1 pod
3 gelatin leaves
2 ripe but firm pears (red skinned ones look pretty)
25g butter
50g sugar
1/4 tsp ground cardamom

Combine the milk, cream and tea in a small saucepan and gently heat it but don’t allow it to boil. When the mixture is hot remove it from the heat let it steep for 15 minutes.
Put the gelatin leaves in a small dish of water and set aside to soften. Strain the cream mixture through a fine sieve and rinse the pan to remove any stray tea leaves. Return the infused cream to the pan, add the sugar and vanilla and heat it, but still don’t let it boil.
Remove the pan from the heat, squeeze the excess water from the gelatin and dissolve this in the hot cream mixture. Stir well and divide between your moulds, ramekins or glasses. Put the panna cotta in the fridge for several hours to set.
Wash and core the pears and thinly slice them. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the pear slices and the cardamom. Gently fry them over a low heat until they start to feel tender, turning them occasionally. Sprinkle over the sugar and keep turning the pears until the sugar starts to caramelize and the pears become golden and coated. Let the pears cool a little before serving alongside the panna cotta.

Darjeeling panna cotta



Filed under Baking


We recently took advantage of a rare sunny weekend and drove to Chincoteague Island. Coming from Cornwall, nothing lifts my spirits like a trip to see the sea!


Whilst we were there, in a brief gap between stuffing our faces with seafood, I visited the Island Creamery ice cream parlour, which is great by the way (their waffle cones are amazing). I’m not normally one for coffee ice cream but I was intrigued by their Iced Nirvana flavour, espresso ice cream swirled with chocolate fudge sauce and chocolate chunks. One taste and I was hooked – it was glorious, not too sweet with just enough bitterness from the dark chocolate and coffee.
170 miles is just that bit too far to go every time I want to satisfy the craving so I set about making my own version. It’s not quite the same, I’ve gone for salted caramel sauce rather than chocolate fudge but it’s still pretty yummy.



300ml double cream
175g condensed milk
2-3 tbsp strongly brewed cold espresso (to suit your own taste)
70g dark chocolate
2 tbsp pre-made caramel sauce or dulce de leche
1/4 tsp sea salt

Start by melting the chocolate and then spreading it out very thinly on a piece of grease-proof paper. Put this in the fridge to harden.
Place the cream, condensed milk and coffee in a large bowl and whisk with an electric mixer until it becomes thick and fluffy.
Break up the (now set) thin sheet of chocolate and fold this through the ice cream mixture. Mix together the salt and caramel and delicately swirl this through the mix too. You don’t want to over-mix this, you want the sauce to be swirled through it, not blended in.
Tip this into a freezable container and put it in the freezer to set.


Leave a comment

Filed under Baking


As you can see from some of my previous posts I have nothing against a chocolate dessert. There are times, however when more than a few bites of chocolate can feel like overkill. This is my antidote.


Tangy and refreshing, this is the perfect dessert to round off richer meals. The filling has a creamy, mousse-like texture which works really well against the crisp pastry case and crunchy caramel top.
I wanted to make something along the lines of tart au citron but with a bit of a twist. Obviously it’s not essential to use blood oranges, any orange will suffice, but I couldn’t resist their colour when I saw them in the supermarket.
I can never quite persuade myself to make recipes like traditional tart au citron because of the number of egg yolks that are required. I always imagine that I’ll end up with a freezer full of egg whites and will have to exist on a diet of meringues. That’s partly why this ended up with a lighter texture to the filling. The other reason is that I didn’t have many eggs in the first place and would have been forced to choose between using one in the pastry or an extra one in the filling.

This keeps for a couple of days (un- brûléed) so you can make it ahead of time if you need to.

serves 8-10

Sweetcrust Pastry
85g butter
50g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
200g plain flour
splash of water

juice and zest of 2 blood oranges
1 egg
2 egg yolks
1 tsp cornflour
80g sugar
200g sour cream

In a large bowl cream together the butter and icing sugar before adding in the egg yolk. Tip in all the flour and mix to combine. Depending on the size of your egg yolk you may need to add a splash of cold water to enable you to gently bring the dough together to form a ball. Flatten this, wrap it in cling film and chill it for about 30 mins. This gives the dough time to rest and allows the gluten to start working in the flour.
Unwrap the dough and gently roll it out into a large, thin disc on a lightly floured surface. Use this to line a well-greased loose bottomed 9″ pie tin. Gently push the dough well into all the edges on the tin. Recover with the cling film and return to the fridge for a further 15 minutes or so.

Preheat the oven to 180°c. Uncover the pastry case, trim away any excess, prick the base all over with a fork and pop a piece of greaseproof paper over it before covering it with baking beans. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes. Ideally it should be cooked through but only just starting to colour. If the base isn’t completely cooked then remove the paper and baking beans and cook uncovered for another 5 minutes. When it’s done leave it on a wire rack to cool.
For the filling, allow your oven to cool to 150°c.
In a large bowl whisk the eggs, cornflour and sugar until you have a pale yellow, fluffy mixture. Stir in the grated orange zest and juice. Finally whisk in the sour cream, ensuring that it is fully incorporated.
Pour this mixture into your prepared pastry case. Pop it into the oven and bake it for around 45 minutes. It shouldn’t really colour at all and will still have a tiny bit of wobble to it when it’s ready to come out of the oven.
Allow this to cool to room temperature before chilling in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it.

Just before serving give it its crunchy brûlée top by dusting liberally with icing sugar and browning with a kitchen blow torch. Let the caramel set for a minute or two before cutting.


Filed under Baking



This is the result of Mr Colonial Cravings telling me tales of the confusion that the British term ‘pudding’ creates with his American colleagues. Pudding, here, refers to a custard type dessert so you can imagine the alarm the phrase ‘steak and kidney pudding’ raises.

In the U.K pudding can be any sort of dessert, specific desserts i.e rice pudding or steamed pudding, a type of savory pie or a baked batter dish known as Yorkshire pudding.
If you’ve never tried the latter then you really need to, when made well they are nothing short of little crispy, fluffy clouds of joy. If there are leftover Yorkshire puds in my Mums kitchen they are quite quickly snaffled up with syrup. I’ve been known to eat them with clotted cream too. I’m not even ashamed to admit it!

Toad in the hole is the hearty combination of Yorkshire pudding and sausages. I’ve made one with roasted root vegetables before and although I’ve never made a sweet one I couldn’t think of a reason why not to.
I was really pleased with how well it turned out, it made such a nice wintry alternative to a crumble or a pie. In fact it was so good I had to restrain Mr Colonial Cravings from polishing it off in one sitting…

Serves 4

2 eggs
100ml milk
70g plain flour
1 tbsp oil (for baking it in)
35g butter
30g sugar
30g soft brown sugar
1/4 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp seasalt
1 medium apple & 1 medium pear (or 2 of each)


Whisk together the eggs and milk in a large jug. Add the flour and mix well. Put this in the fridge and let it rest (this lets the gluten get to work) whilst you prepare the fruit.
Peel and core the fruit then cut it into large, chunky pieces.
Use a heavy based saucepan and melt together the butter and both types of sugar over a high heat until foamy and dark caramel coloured. Reduce the heat a little then carefully stir in the salt and spices.
Add the fruit to the pan and coat it well in the sauce. If your fruit is on the cold side then you may find that the toffee solidifies around them but don’t worry it’ll re-melt as the fruit warms up. Continue to cook for a few minutes then set aside.
Pre-heat the oven to 230°c. Pour the oil into your baking dish. It needs to be something with a fixed base that will get really hot. I always use an enamel dish but Pyrex would probably be okay. The secret to a good Yorkie is simply to make sure that the oil is really hot, smoking hot preferably.
Put the fruit in the tin too, reserving the sauce for serving. Put the tin in the oven and let it get really hot.
Once you are satisfied that it is hot enough pour over the rested batter and put the dish straight back into the oven. Close the door and don’t open it again for 30 minutes. Resist the temptation to peek or you will end up with deflated puddings and no one wants that!

Serve with the toffee sauce drizzled over it and splash of cream. Nom, nom, nom!

Leave a comment

Filed under Baking


Come back, don’t run away, I know the ingredients have one or two things in common with a salad dressing but this is honestly a very decadent cake that is perfect for special occasions.

I made it as a belated Birthday cake for my husbands dad when his parents came to stay recently although I have to admit that I chose the flavours largely with my husband in mind. It’s one of his favourite combinations.


Hotel Chocolat once produced a balsamic salted caramel chocolate that he still fondly remembers so this was my attempt to emulate that.

The sponge alone is wonderful and if you can’t muster the energy to make the ganache and the butter cream that go with it then it’s just as nice served with slightly sweetened mascarpone.

I’ve wanted to try making a cake with olive oil instead of butter for a while and I was really pleased with how well this turned out. I did a little bit of research to find out how using oil varies from using butter before starting out and essentially it’s a case of increasing the fat but decreasing the liquid content so as long as I re-balanced this in the recipe it should all go well.


I didn’t want the cake to be too dense in spite of it’s richness so I added the balsamic vinegar not only for flavour but also to increase the effects of the raising agents. My cake did rise an awful lot (to the point where it resembled a volcano.) I think this is due in part to the fact that I don’t have a fan oven in my Yankee house so it is prone to hot spots. I didn’t mind though as it meant that there was plenty for me to taste when I leveled it off. Just in the interest of research of course!

I also baked the whole batch of batter in one deep tin because it makes a three layer cake and I only own two sandwich tins. Consequently my cake did take a really long time to cook all the way through – if you do have enough sandwich tins then I would definitely recommend baking the cake that way. Do make sure that the tins are deep enough though because as I say it does rise a lot.


Serves as many people as you’re prepared to share it with.


250g self raising flour

50g good quality cocoa powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp baking powder

200g sugar

pinch of crushed sea salt

100ml olive oil

2 eggs

4 tbsp of fat free Greek yoghurt made up to 200ml of liquid with milk

1 tsp balsamic

1 tsp vanilla extract

100 ml approx hot water

Salted Caramel Cream:

150g butter (room temperature)

200g icing sugar

4 tbsp tinned caramel or dulce de leche

4 tbsp double cream

1 tsp sea salt

Chocolate Ganache Frosting:

150ml double cream

200g good quality dark chocolate (chopped)


Preheat your oven to 180°c and line the base of your tin(s) but also make sure that they are well greased and lightly dusted with flour all over.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa and raising agents and then mix through the sugar and salt.

In a separate bowl or jug mix the Greek yoghurt with enough milk to give you 200ml of smooth liquid. Whisk the oil and the eggs into this, ensuring that it is all well blended. At the last minute add in the vanilla and finally the vinegar.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and beat together. An electric mixer is the most effective way of doing this but obviously if you’re not prone to tennis elbow then it’s fine to do it by hand. Finally mix in the hot water a little at a time, bearing in mind that you may not need all of it. You want a fairly wet batter but it shouldn’t be too liquid, you’re baking a cake not making hot chocolate.

Pour the batter into the tin(s) and level off the tops. The baking time will vary depending on whether you’ve used one tin or three. Mine took nearly an hour but if you are using multiple tins I would recommend giving them 20-25 minutes and then testing them by poking a skewer or cocktail stick into the middle and checking to see if it comes out clean. If they aren’t quite cooked through to the middle then return them to the oven for a further five minutes or so. Once cooked, remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the salted caramel cream use a wooden spoon to cream together the butter and half of the icing sugar and cream. Mix in the caramel and salt and then add the remaining the sugar and cream and beat it all together until fluffy.

For the ganache simply heat the cream and pour it over the chocolate. Mix it together until the chocolate is melted and blended into the cream. Let this cool and then whisk or beat it with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.


To assemble the cake cut the sponge into three even layers trimming the tops to make them level. Sandwich the layers together by spreading a third of the caramel cream between each layer.


Next use a palate knife to spread a thin layer of the chocolate ganache over the top of the cake but be a little more generous to cover the sides.

Fill two piping bags with the remaining frostings. If they have become too soft then just pop them in the fridge for a few minutes to firm up a bit. Pipe this all over the top of the cake however you like.


If you want to do the ‘petal’ icing that I did then use either no tips or large round tips on the piping bags. Pipe a blob of frosting and then use a palate knife to drag through it to create a ‘tail’. Pipe the next blob of frosting over this ‘tail’ and repeat all over the cake working your way to the centre. I promise it’s very easy and looks very effective.



This cakes freezes and defrosts brilliantly so you can make it in advance if you need to. It also means that you don’t have to waste any leftovers and in my case you can have a cheeky slice whilst adding to your blog!

1 Comment

Filed under Baking


In general the weather we’ve experienced so far this year has been much nicer than it would be back home. That being said however, we did have a tornado warning a few weeks ago which thankfully missed us but did make for a gloomy afternoon stuck indoors with nothing to do. I’d already done all the housework I promise.

I had been craving M&S Millionaires Shortbread for a while so I considered it to be mother natures way of telling me to don my apron. Despite it’s often toothachingly sweetness I’ve always had a soft spot for this particular treat and as a child would take great delight in picking off the top layer of chocolate before sinking my teeth into the buttery biscuit and caramel below.

If I’m making shortbread for shortbreads sake I like to add semolina to the mix to give it a bit more bite and texture but I’m not convinced it’s needed for these.  I don’t think it would work with the smooth flow of the caramel and might end up being the edible equivalent of sand in your shoes. I also like to cut back on the sickly edge by using dark chocolate and adding some seasalt to the caramel layer.



Makes about 12 slices

150g plain flour

50g white sugar

250g butter

270g of sweetened condensed milk

40g soft light brown sugar

220g of dark chocolate

white chocolate drops to decorate.

Preheat the oven to 170c and grease and line a baking tin (the one I use is 6″ by 7″ and this fills it nicely)

Place the flour and white sugar into a bowl and add 120g of the butter (cut into small pieces). Rub this together until the fat is well distributed. Press this out into the base of the tin and smooth off the surface with the back of a spoon. Prick little holes in the surface with a fork and bake for around 30mins or until the surface in golden and feels crisp. Leave to cool in the tin.

That’s the baking part over with but now it gets a bit more tricky. In a medium to large pan with a heavy bottom melt the rest of the butter. Add the brown sugar and the condensed milk  and whisk carefully until all the fat has emulsified. Now gently bring this mixture to the boil whilst very carefully stirring – no-one wants to get splashed by molten hot caramel. When it’s ready it should have thickened and darkened slightly. When you’re happy with it’s colour and consistency remove it from the heat and immediately pour it over the shortbread base. If you’re a fan of salted caramel then this is the time to sprinkle on a little seasalt. Pop it in the fridge to set.

Once the caramel has firmed up a bit you can melt the chocolate, any which way you like, I’m pretty lazy so I always use a microwave. Pour this on top of the caramel and spread it out to cover it evenly. Then it’s simply a case of popping up-turned white chocolate drops on the surface in any pattern you like – you could even make them look like dominos if you’re prone to playing with your food.

Chill to set the chocolate and then cut into bars and indulge.


I haven’t actually tried this yet but I was thinking it could be fun to tumble roasted peanuts into the caramel layer before blanketing it in chocolate to make the illegitimate love child of a Twix and a Snickers.

Leave a comment

Filed under Baking