Tag Archives: fruit

DARJEELING PANNA COTTA with CARDAMOM CARAMEL PEARS

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

Ingredients
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

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CHRISTMAS PANNA COTTA

Christmas panna cotta

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.

Christmas panna cotta
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!

xmas panna cotta

Ingredients
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

Christmas panna cotta

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.

Christmas panna cotta

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BRANDY APPLE PIE

Brandy apple pie

I’ve made a fair few apple pies in my time. They’re one of my preferred vehicles for clotted cream, especially in the colder months. Plus I’m continuing my quest to make pastry as good as my Grandma used to make, one day I’ll get there.

Brandy apple pie

Now she never put booze in her dough but following my success using gin in a tarte au citron during the summer I thought it might be worth slinging some in a pie too. Now here’s the science part. The theory is the alcohol evaporates at a lower temperature than water so subbing it in place of water should make for lighter, crisper pastry.
Don’t worry if you aren’t that keen on the idea of a boozy pie. It doesn’t taste boozy at all, and of course the actual alcohol bakes off (which is kind of the point). It really does just leave you with light crisp pastry. It’s some of my best pastry work, I’m slowly and surely getting closer to my Grandma-goal.

Brandy apple pie

There’s enough pastry here for a standard double crust pie so please don’t feel obliged to spend ages making a fancy cut-out top if that’s not your thing. I just have too much time on my hands some days!

Ingredients

Pastry
300g plain flour
175g butter
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp soft brown sugar
3-4 tbsp brandy

Filling
5-6 apples
75g soft brown sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tbsp brandy
15g (ish) butter

1 beaten egg and white sugar to finish off

brandy apple pie

Cut the cold butter into small pieces and gently rub it into the flour with the tips of your fingers, until it resembles bread crumbs. Mix in the salt and sugar with a fork. Use the brandy to bring the mixture together to form a ball of dough. Add the liquid a tablespoon at a time so that you don’t end up adding too much. Flatten the ball a little and wrap it in cling film. Pop it in the fridge to chill and relax for about 30 minutes.
Pre-heat your oven to 220°c and lightly grease a 20cm pie tin.
Peel, core and slice the apples quite thinly. Whisk together the sugar, salt, cornflour and spices in a large mixing bowl and then toss the apple in this. Sprinkle over the brandy.
Take the pastry from the fridge and cut it in two, make one piece slightly larger than the other. Roll the larger piece out so that it’s a few millimeters thick and large enough to line the pie tin. Do this either on a lightly floured surface or on a piece of parchment paper. I prefer to do it this way as it makes it easier to transfer it to the tin later.
Carefully place the rolled pastry into the pie tin and gently push it into the corners. Leave a little over hang at the edge. Tip the apples into the lined tin and spread them out. Dot the surface with butter.

Brandy apple pie
Roll out the remaining dough, again to that it is a few millimeters thick and a little larger than the size of the pie. If you want to do some fancy cut outs on the top of the pie then now is the time to do it. Brush the edge of the pie with a little of the beaten egg and carefully place on the lid. Gently push it down around the edges to seal the pie. Trim and crimp the edge however you like, the easiest thing is just to press down the edges with the tines of a fork. Add any extra pastry embellishments you like (made from any leftover scraps of pastry), using the beaten egg as a glue. Brush the whole pie with beaten egg and sprinkle with a little sugar. Bake the pie for 45 minutes, until the apples are soft and the pastry is golden brown.
Leave to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving so that the juices can thicken. Serve with homemade custard, ice cream or glorious velvety Cornish clotted cream.

Brandy apple pie

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CRANBERRY & ORANGE VICTORIA SPONGE

Cranberry & orange Victoria sponge

A well made classic Victoria Sponge is a thing of beauty, although I have to confess that I do always have to have cream or buttercream in my filling (sorry Women’s Institute).
It’s all about the texture. It should be light and springy with a nice even crumb so be careful that you don’t over beat the batter. In a traditional Victoria Sponge you also rely solely on the quality of your ingredients for the flavour so I always use real butter rather than baking margarine and I always try to find fresh free-range eggs. I only ever use free-range anyway but if you can get locally reared ones then 9 times out of 10 they’ll be richer than anything you buy in the supermarkets. They’ll also give your sponge great colour.
I find that I get the best results when I let all of my ingredients get up to room temperature before I start.
American self-rising flour does seem to be a tiny bit different to U.K self-raising flour but this recipe should work fine with both.

Classic Victoria sponge

If you want to make the classic Victoria Sponge then just leave out the orange zest from the sponge, sandwich it together with good quality jam (usually strawberry or raspberry) and dust the top with a little sugar.

classic Victoria sponge

Ingredients
serves 10-12

Orange sponge
3 eggs
the weight of the eggs (inc shells) in butter, sugar and self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 tbsp milk
zest of 1 orange

Cranberry compote
70g ish cranberries (mine were frozen)
30g sugar
juice of 1 orange

Swiss meringue buttercream
1 egg white
50g sugar
70g butter (room temperature and cut into small pieces)
zest of 1 orange

Cranberry & orange Victoria sponge

Pre-heat your oven to 180°c and grease two sandwich tins. Place a disc of baking parchment in the base of each.
Weigh your eggs, in their shells so that you know how much flour, butter and sugar you’ll need.
Sift together the baking powder and flour a couple of times and set it aside. This will get plenty of air into it.
Using a hand or stand mixer beat together the butter and sugar until it is pale, thick and fluffy, this should take a minute or two.
Lightly beat each egg and mix them, one at a time, into the butter and sugar. Follow each addition with a spoonful of the flour and beat it well. Once you have added all of the eggs briefly beat in the orange zest. Sift the remaining flour into the batter in two batches and carefully fold it in.

Cranberry & orange Victoria sponge
Finally stir in the milk to loosen the mixture to a nice soft dropping consistency. Divide the cake batter evenly between the two prepared tins (I actually weigh mine) and level off the tops. Bake them in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes. Don’t be tempted to open the oven door during this time as you might cause them to sink in the middle. Once the time is up open the oven door and test that the sponges are cooked with a skewer. Give them another minute or two if it doesn’t come out clean. They should feel light and springy once they are cooked.
Put the cooked sponges on a wire rack and let them cool in the tins for five minutes then turn them out on the rack and carefully remove the greaseproof paper. Let them become completely cool before you fill them.

Cranberry & orange Victoria sponge
Make the compote by combining the sugar, cranberries and the juice of the orange in a small saucepan. Pop this over a moderate heat and let it gently bubble away for a few minutes. Mash the berries a bit to release their juice, but be careful as they tend to pop and you don’t want them to splatter you with hot juice. Once the juice is thick and syrupy you can leave the compote to cool and become a bit jammy.
Swiss Meringue buttercream is next on your to-do list. Put the egg white and sugar in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Gently whisk it to keep it moving whilst it heats, it needs to be quite warm and the sugar needs to have dissolved into the egg white. Just rub a little between your fingers to check the temperature and that it isn’t grainy. Remove the pan from the heat and then whisk the egg white until it is stiff (like meringue) and cool. An electric mixer makes this pretty quick and easy. Once it is cool you can slowly beat in the butter, one small piece at a time. If the mixture is too warm then the butter will simply melt so make sure it’s cool before you start. You can pop it in the fridge for a few minutes if you need to. Continue to whip the buttercream until it has emulsified and become smooth and creamy and then mix through the orange zest.

Cranberry & orange Victoria sponge
Decide which of your cakes is the least pretty and place it, upside-down, on a serving plate. Spread the cold cranberry compote onto it and the follow this with the orange Swiss meringue buttercream. I prefer to pipe this but to be honest it isn’t going to make a blind bit of difference to the way it tastes!
Carefully place on the top layer of cake and then sprinkle it with a little icing sugar as a finishing touch.

Cranberry & orange Victoria sponge

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ROASTED PEAR & ROSEMARY CAKE WITH MAPLE FROSTING

Roasted pear & rosemary cake with maple frosting

We took a little road trip up to Vermont in October to meet up with a couple of our friends from back home. This nicely coincided with my friend’s birthday. We also realised whilst we were away that we’ve known each other for 25 years, which means that this year is our Silver Friendiversary (or something like that – I’m sure Hallmark can come up with a catchier name for it).
Anyway, I wasn’t going to turn up in Stowe without a cake for my friend, but I did need to come up with one that could survive the 500+ mile journey up there. I’m pleased to say that this performed admirably. The cake has plenty of moisture from the pears and the frosting is less prone to melting than others that I’ve worked with.
The flavours of this are quite subtle, I didn’t want anything to be too over-powering. However if you want to amp-up the rosemary then just put the sugar for the sponge in a container for a few days with several sprigs of rosemary that you’ve bashed with a rolling-pin and it’ll take on a bit more of the flavour.

Roasted pear & rosemary cake with maple frosting

Ingredients

Pear puree
2-3 pears (depending on size)
handful of rosemary sprigs

Sponge
100g butter
150g sugar (or rosemary infused sugar)
pinch of salt
2 eggs
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
250g pear puree
2 tbsp milk

Frosting
100g butter
100g icing sugar
4 tbsp maple syrup
pinch salt
225g cream cheese

Roasted pear & rosemary cake with maple frosting

You need to start by making the roasted pear puree, this can be done a few days in advance if you like. It’ll be quite happy in the fridge.
Peel, core and quarter the pears, mix them with the rosemary on a baking tray and roast them at 190°c until they are really soft and tender. How long this takes really depends on how ripe the pears are to start with, so keep checking them. Once they are soft, let the fruit cool and then puree them (discard the rosemary) in a food processor until they are really smooth. I like to sieve mine too so that there are no lumps at all. Set this aside.

Roasted pear & rosemary cake with maple frosting

Once you have your pear puree you can get cracking on the cake itself. Pre-heat the oven to 190°c and grease and line a couple of sandwich tins.
Cream together the butter, salt and sugar until it’s fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, following each one with a spoonful of the flour to stop the mixture from curdling. Sift in the remaining flour along with the baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and briefly beat it together. Add the pear puree and milk and beat the batter again so that it is well combined.
Divide the batter evenly between the tins, smooth off the tops and bake the sponges for 25-30 minutes. Test them with a skewer but they should be lightly browned and feel springy to the touch.
Remove the cakes from the tins and leave them to cool on a wire rack.

Roasted pear & rosemary cake with maple frosting

The frosting is very easy to make. Simply beat the butter, salt and sugar until they are fluffy then add the maple syrup and briefly beat again. Add the cream cheese and beat the whole lot until it’s thick and creamy. Use about a third of this to sandwich the two cooled cakes together and use the remainder to frost and decorate the cake however you like. There are some videos on youtube that will show you how to do the ‘basket weave’ piping that I’ve used. It’s really very easy (I promise!).

Roasted pear & rosemary cake with maple frosting

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RUM ‘N’ RAISIN FUDGE (small batch)

rum & raisin fudge

Fudge is now my go-to recipe when I have a little bit of condensed milk to use up. I find making it in small batches much easier on the wrist too as it requires so much less beating!

Rum and raisin is a classic fudge combo and they’re wonderful rich flavours for this time of year. I like to steep my raisins in the rum as I think this makes them plump up a bit more and it also means that some of the ‘raw’ alcohol flavour burns off a bit. This is rich and mellow and creamy and wholly indulgent. There’s enough here to share but it’s totally up to you if you do or not!

Ingredients
Cuts into 12 big pieces

50g raisins
50ml dark rum
200g condensed milk
55g butter
125g soft brown sugar
100g granulated sugar
75ml cream
1 tsp vanilla paste

rum & raisin fudge

Put the rum and raisins in a decent sized pan and gently heat them for a minute or two.  Put the raisins in a mixing bowl but don’t worry about cleaning out the pan properly.
Combine all of the other ingredients except the vanilla in the pan and melt it together over a low heat. Stir it well as it melts to ensure that the sugar is completely dissolved.
Increase the heat a bit to bring the mixture to boiling point. Continue to gently stir it (you don’t want to splash yourself!) to stop the mixture catching on the bottom of the pan and burning. Let the mixture bubble for about 10 minutes, it should darken a little and have reached ‘soft ball’ stage when it’s done. You can check for ‘soft ball’ using a sugar thermometer or by dropping a little of the mixture into some ice-water. It should form a soft ball, obviously!
Once you’ve reached soft ball stage you can remove the pan from the heat and pour the hot fudge into the bowl containing the raisins. Add the vanilla paste and then beat the living daylights out of the fudge with a wooden spoon. You’ll need to keep beating it for quite some time but eventually it should start to lose its glossiness and become thicker with a slightly crystallised texture.
Pour the fudge into a small tin lined with grease-proof paper, smooth off the top and leave it in the fridge to cool completely before cutting into squares and lifting it out of the tin.

rum & raisin fudge

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SPICED FIG & MAPLE PUDDINGS

Spiced fig & maple puddings

These are such lovely, autumnal flavours. The sweet fig, the rich, sticky maple syrup and the warm spices all blend so nicely together. And of course a steamed pudding is just wonderfully comforting anyway.
It’s not heavy though, not the sort of thing that my grandma would have described as ‘stick-to-your-ribs’ food. The sponge is very light and fluffy and the fresh fig makes it fruitier than using dried figs would, this is not your standard figgy pudding!
I promise this will be the last fig recipe that I force on you for a while…

Spiced fig & maple puddings

Ingredients
makes 4

120g butter (plus some for greasing)
100g soft light brown sugar
pinch of salt
2 eggs
120g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
splash of milk
4 small fresh figs
4 tbsp maple syrup

Grease each of the pudding moulds with butter and then pop them in the fridge.
Using a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar and salt until it is pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Sift together the flour, spices and baking powder and briefly beat them into the butter and eggs. Add a splash of milk to loosen the batter a bit, it shouldn’t be too stiff. Set a pan of water boiling on the stove and place a steamer over it.

Spiced fig & maple puddings
Pour a tablespoon of maple syrup into the base of each of the moulds and divide the sponge batter between them. Gently push a fig (pointy end down) into each of the puddings and smooth the batter over them.
Cut four pieces of grease-proof paper and fold a pleat into each of them. Do the same with some foil. Place a piece of the paper and a piece of the foil as a lid on each of the pudding moulds, making sure that the pleats match up. Use a rubber band or piece of bakers twine to secure the foil and paper around the rim of the moulds.
Place the puddings in the steamer and steam them for around 30 minutes, making sure that the pan underneath doesn’t boil dry. Let them stand for a few minutes once they are cooked before running a knife around the inside edge and turning them onto serving plates. Serve with cream, custard or ice cream whilst they are still nice and hot.

Spiced fig & maple puddings

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