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.
250ml double cream
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)
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.
I think that Mr Colonial Cravings is the only member of his family who celebrates his Scottish heritage on Burns Night. I think that this is partly my influence (I don’t think he’d ever eaten a Burns dinner before we met) and partly because it’s a damn fine excuse to eat cranachan.
Seriously, who can say no to a combination of whisky, raspberries and cream. It’s just glorious. This year I’ve refreshed my usual recipe (this one over here… https://colonialcravings.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/cranachan/) and turned it into a wonderful, easy peasy, no-churn ice cream. This is truly heavenly, I think it might be my new favourite of all the no-churn ice cream recipes on here. The sharp ripple of raspberry sauce nicely cuts through the richness of the whisky ice cream and the honey coated granola clusters add a really nice crunch.
This makes double the amount of my other ice-cream recipes – which is just as well because it’s really, really good!
150g raspberries (frozen is fine)
2 tbsp icing sugar
3 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tbsp oil (anything with a mild flavour)
pinch of salt
600ml double cream
350g condensed milk
Pre-heat your oven to 170°c. Gently heat the salt, oil and honey to melt and combine them and toss the oats in this. Spread the mixture out on a baking tray, keeping things clumped together a bit. Bake the oats for 25 minutes, until they are golden brown. Leave them to cool and crisp up on the tray and then break up the clumps a little.
Warm up the raspberries (in a small pan or the microwave) to encourage them to release their juices and then mash them and push them through a sieve. Stir the icing sugar into the resulting puree and set it aside to cool.
Pour the cream and condensed milk into a large mixing bowl and beat them with an electric mixer until they are quite thick and fluffy. Add the whisky and beat the mixture again until it holds soft peaks. Fold in the cooled granola.
Transfer the ice cream mix to a freezable container and then ‘ripple’ the raspberry sauce through it. Freeze until solid.
I think there’s still just about enough time to squeeze in one last moment of indulgence before we all embark on the inevitable dessert-purgatory that is January. Even I might try to exercise some self-control (no promises though, okay…)
But until the clock strikes 12 we can enjoy this. Today is also my Mum’s birthday and I’m pretty sure that she would approve of this truly decadent dessert. Golden sponge soaked in a boozy orange syrup smothered in a rich truffle ganache and a very soft, light, mousse and finished off with fresh whipped cream. I’ve decorated mine with some orange meringues simply because I’ve apparently become the sort of person who has that kind of thing hanging around the pantry!
Here I’ve used the orange sponge from my cranberry & orange Victoria sponge, using quantities for one egg. If you do this it’s best to bake it in a smaller tin or as cupcakes, otherwise it’ll be really thin. You can of course use a shop-bought sponge if you want to save yourself a bit of time, it doesn’t necessarily have to be orange flavoured.
enough orange flavoured sponge cake to line the base of your serving dish
juice of 1 orange
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp orange liqueur
Chocolate truffle ganache
75g dark chocolate
1 tbsp golden syrup
zest of 1 orange
90g milk chocolate
3 eggs (separated)
1 tbsp bandy
pinch of salt
125ml double cream
dark chocolate to decorate (I also used tiny orange flavoured meringues)
Start by making the orange syrup. Combine the orange juice and sugar in a small pan and heat them until the sugar has dissolved and the juice has reduced a bit. Remove the pan from the heat and add the orange liqueur. Leave this to cool a little.
Cut the sponge into cubes and use them to line the base of your serving dish. Spoon the orange syrup over the sponge making sure that each piece of sponge soaks up some of the liquid. Let this sit at room temperature whilst you make the chocolate ganache.
Put all the ingredients for the sauce into a small pan and gently melt them together over a very low heat. Stir the mixture constantly to ensure that the chocolate doesn’t burn or seize. Once it has melted and combined pour the warm ganache over the sponge layer. Now put the dish in the fridge to chill out for a little while, just whilst you make the mousse layer.
Break up the milk chocolate and put it in a bowl, set over a pan of gently simmering water. Melt the chocolate, stirring it occasionally and then remove it from the heat. Quickly stir in the brandy. This might cause the chocolate to thicken a little but don’t panic as long as it isn’t grainy. Beat the egg yolks into the chocolate, one at a time, whilst it’s still warm and then leave the mixture to cool.
Whip the egg whites in a separate bowl along with the salt, until they hold a stiff peak. Beat one tablespoon of the egg whites into the chocolate to lighten the mixture. Follow this by very carefully, using a large metal spoon, folding in the remaining egg whites, a couple of spoons at a time until it is all incorporated and you have a light airy mousse.
Pour this on top of the cooled chocolate ganache layer and then return the dish to the fridge and forget about for a couple of hours so that the mousse can set more firmly.
Finally whip the cream so that it holds soft peaks and then spread it all over the top of the trifle. Finish off with a little chocolate (or meringue) decoration and refrigerate until you are ready to serve it.
Give the Bailey’s a break and make your own creamy concoction.
This isn’t quite as heavy as Bailey’s or as rich as something like eggnog but it’s still got a bit of a kick to it. It makes a nice alternative to dessert at the end of a festive meal.
For the ginger simple syrup you need equal amounts of sugar and water (about 3 tbsp of each) and a thumb sized piece of fresh ginger that you’ve sliced into 6-7 pieces and bashed about a bit to release the juice. Combine them in a small pan and let the mixture bubble over a low heat for 5 minutes. Allow to cool before straining and using. This doesn’t make a lot of syrup, enough for 1-2 people but you can easily increase the amounts if you need to.
Makes 1 (very) generous serving
25ml vanilla vodka
25ml ginger simple syrup
30ml single cream
pinch of nutmeg/cinnamon
Add everything but the cinnamon or nutmeg to a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake to combine and then strain into a glass. Sprinkle the top with a pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon.
I don’t really like Christmas pudding. There. I said it. It’s too rich, too heavy and quite sickly, especially to eat on what is, lets face it, the most gluttonous day of the year.
I’m always looking for an alternative that still feels just as festive. At home my mums Christmas pudding ice cream does the job. This year I can’t make it back to the UK to see my friends and family and I fear that my own iced Christmas puds might just leave me homesick and hankering for my mums version.
I’ve come up with something that’s just different enough to feel like a change. These are indulgent without feeling too rich and heavy. They might just be the perfect end to your festive feast.
These also have the added bonus that, aside from setting time, they’re really quick to make and can be made well ahead of time. Cause lets face it, who has time to spare at Christmas? Make sure that you use a fat-free mincemeat for these (i.e. one made without suet). Oh look, there’s a recipe for that here: https://colonialcravings.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/fat-free-mincemeat/ what luck!
makes 4 (8-10 dinky ones for parties)
250ml double cream
250ml whole milk
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp brandy
1 tsp vanilla
3 leaves of gelatine
2 tbsp mincemeat plus 1 tsp for each glass
Put the gelatine in a bowl of cold water and set it aside to soak.
Combine everything else except the mincemeat in a medium pan and set it over a low heat. Allow it to become quite hot whilst stirring it but don’t let it boil. Remove the pan from the heat.
Squeeze the excess water from the softened gelatine and add the leaves to the pan. Stir until they have dissolved.
Put a teaspoon of mincemeat in the bottom of each of your serving glasses or moulds. Add two tablespoons of mincemeat to the cream mixture and stir them in. Divide the mixture between the glasses and then pop them in the fridge to set.
Before serving either sprinkle the tops with a tiny bit of cinnamon if you are serving the panna cotta in glasses or tip them out of the moulds and onto dessert plates.
The time has come for Mr Colonial Cravings annual office festive hoopla. I’m not sure they refer to it like this but I think that maybe they should start.
To say thank you for the hours of photographing food that he puts in (my hands are just too shaky to take a decent picture) I’ve made him something extra special.
I’ve combined his favourite Italian treat with something festive from their Austrian neighbours. Gingerbread! And it is so good! If you like gingerbread lattes then you’re going to love this. Seriously, this tastes amazing. Layers of richly spiced sponge soaked in boozy coffee, sandwiched together with thick zabaglione cream. Christmas dessert heaven…
You can bake the sponge ahead of time because it keeps really well, and also if it is a tiny bit stale then it tends to soak up the coffee better. Winning all round!
If you don’t have a spring-form cake tin, of just don’t want to serve the tiramisu like this, then you can of course just build up the layers in a serving dish, trifle-style. Either works well for this.
Half the quantity of gingerbread from my gingerbread latte cupcakes, baked in a spring-form pan for about 35 minutes at 180°c.
300ml strong brewed coffee
3 tbsp sugar
50ml brandy/dark rum (feel free to use more if you like it really boozy)
1 tbsp coffee liqueur (optional)
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla paste
225g mascarpone (room temperature)
200ml double cream
dark chocolate to serve
Trim away the very top of the cake, to expose the crumb and slice the sponge in half horizontally. Set aside.
Mix one tablespoon of the sugar with the coffee, brandy/rum and coffee liqueur (if using) and let the coffee cool a bit.
Place the remaining sugar in a mixing bowl with the egg yolks and vanilla and place it over a pan of simmering water. Whip the yolks until they are pale and fluffy and have at least doubled in volume. Remove them from the heat and let it cool for a minute or two before beating the mascarpone into it.
Put the cream in another bowl and whip it until it becomes thick and fluffy. Use a large metal spoon to fold the cream into the egg yolk/mascarpone mixture.
To assemble the tiramisu place a layer of the sponge back into the springform pan that you baked it in. Brush the surface of it with the coffee mixture. You need it to be saturated but not so soggy that it loses all integrity.
Spread half of the creamy filling mixture evenly over the sponge and then carefully place the second layer on top. Brush this with coffee too, again making sure that it is well moistened but not drenched. Don’t worry, you won’t need all of the coffee mixture. Cover this with the remaining cream mixture and smooth off the surface. Put the tiramisu in the fridge to firm up for a couple of hours.
Dust the top of the tiramisu with some grated dark chocolate (I like to be fairly liberal with it) and run a palate knife around the edge of the tin before releasing the catch and removing the sides of the tin. Carefully transfer the tiramisu to a serving plate. Enjoy!
I wasn’t joking the other week when I said that I needed more choux pastry in my life. If you’ve never tried to make it before I think you’ll be surprised at how easy it is. You don’t even need any fancy equipment to make profiteroles either, just a saucepan, a wooden spoon, a baking sheet and a couple of teaspoons. It’s pretty quick, super easy and will make you feel all sorts of fancy when you show off your patisserie skills.
The filling of these is a super-simple two ingredient Nutella mousse (it’s just whipped cream and yummy Nutella but shhhh…don’t tell anyone.) Despite being so simple it tastes incredible, which let’s be honest, most things made with Nutella do!
I don’t like to serve these with the classic chocolate sauce because I think that it over powers the mousse, and tends to make them a bit too sweet. Just a little chocolate decoration is all that required.
Mr Colonial Cravings was a huge fan of these, I’m pretty sure that if I’d left him alone with them he would have eaten all 16 in one go.
75g plain flour
200ml double cream
chocolate to decorate
Pre-heat the oven to 200°c and line a large baking tray with parchment or a silicone mat.
Put the butter and water in a medium saucepan and bring it to boil. Remove the pan from the heat and tip in all of the flour. Vigorously beat it with a wooden spoon until you end up with a ball of dough that has pulled away from the sides of the pan. Lightly beat the eggs. Add about a third of the egg to the pan and beat it in. Once it has been absorbed add another third and beat it again. After the third and final addition of egg, the dough should become soft, smooth and glossy.
Use a couple of teaspoons to drop blobs of the dough onto the prepared baking tray. If you need to smooth off any edges or pointy bits then just dip your finger in a little water first.
Bake the choux pastry for 30 minutes then turn off the oven and open the door a bit, leave them in the oven for a further 10 minutes to dry out a little.
Once they are done you can transfer them to a wire rack to cool. I would recommend poking a little hole in them, somewhere discreet, to let the steam out and prevent them from becoming soggy. You can use this later when you fill them.
Softly whip the cream for the filling, so that it just holds its shape. Take a big dollop of the cream and mix it into the Nutella to lighten it a bit. Transfer this mixture back into the rest of the cream and whip it again, until it becomes more stiff, but be careful not to over-whip it.
Put the Nutella mousse in a piping bag fitted with a plain tip. Insert the tip into the steam hole that you created in each of the cooled profiteroles and gently squeeze in the filling. Drizzle the top of each one with a little melted chocolate and then pop them in the fridge until you are ready to serve them.