‘What is beautiful is good’

Intentionally raw food is currently the most loyal of the vegan fan club, whereas ‘I-eat-anything-and-everything’ advocates need to reassess their mens rea of sugary intake. Natures avocados, chia seeds, quinoa, flax seeds are the trending beauties of the day, and better still, they are as good as they, sometimes, may look.

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Sweet, fatty, salty foods are the has-beens of today, there have no doubt been some greatly evolved substitutes. Veganism is trending, and what’s intriguing is that the public’s new-found devoted self is such a difficult lifestyle choice that you must be driven by your own passion to succeed, which makes it near impossible to be just a superficial follower.

These brownies, 4 essential but versatile ingredients, take 5 minutes and equal a piece of affordable vegan heaven. Being a vegan isn’t cheap, its popularity hasn’t reached the zenith of consumerism, it’s simply expensive to be healthy, and unfortunately the cost of sustainability comes at a high price, we’re not all cut out to be the hero.

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Beautiful food is ubiquitous, in Paris it comes in the form of crème brûlée to street crêpes, in Italy it embraces nostalgic gelato, and universally we embrace the beauty of it- our eyes eat first. Beauty isn’t always in the eye of the beholder. Today we are universally conditioned to see the beauty of fluffy quinoa, polenta pizza and creamy almond butter- so in this case what is beautiful is good and it wants to keep us alive longer.

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Recipe + Method

350g Medjool dates

150g pecans

25g raw cacao powder

2-3 tbsp agave syrup

Add the pecans in a food processor and blitz until finely chopped, a few seconds should do it. Add the dates, blitz again, and then add the cacao powder and agave syrup. It will form a rough ball

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Now we have two options- you can have it as is, or you can set it in a baking tin and refrigerate for a few hours (either way, store them in fridge). To finish, dust with cacao powder.

Do you eat to live or do you live to eat?

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Lemon and blueberry 

Attraction is a fascinating thing, proximity to familiarity to symmetry, all factors that leaven the power of interest. Omit hours of conversation, slightest of touches and let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, we’re going to expose our most private moments to mere strangers.

Sharing a meal with somebody is stunningly intimate but we jump right into that one mouth-first. Ever been on a date where you strategised every bite, weighed each mouthful, and reevaluated the ancient method of chopsticks? There are people who eat, and then there are people who eat. Those endorphin releasing peers you can eat with comfortably, now they are our cathartic audience, but then there are those out to generate mind numbing deductions into the viability of staying splash-free, deductive reasoning has nothing on you.

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A date in a chic French brassiere in Soho to the económico street pizza in Shoreditch sat within the same boat, shall we compare thee to a date in a swanky Japanese place in Chelsea? This was likely the most costly and yet the least enjoyed, the difference between them… the company.

How much does it matter if our dates are (financially) invested in fine dining? The ‘fine’ dining may not be necessary, but ‘fine’ food is inordinately necessary. Good food doesn’t always need to come at a hefty price. Fair enough the beloved artichokes and the extra helping of chorizo is almost the total of a main, but it equals good food. My favourite pizza place is rivalled by none, and I get around, a lot- the cost? No more than £7. Perhaps it isn’t the most food-coma inciting idea to mix brilliant food with tedious company.

So then, what is it that we desire from our peers? The validation of beliefs? Reinforcement value of social approval? Achieved. So now, what do we fear? Rejection? Drooping self-esteem? And of course the most unnatural feat, evolution would roll in his grave, loss of appetite. Eating can reveal incredibly private traits, our partner in food will at that moment be what drives or stills our appetite.

There are people who make you marvel at the taste of everything you love, and then there are those that enter our food-lives without such stimulus. Shall we say that the opposite of such scintillating tendencies are induced?- The suppression of our most addicted tastes and the elimination of what it all boils down to- nutrition.

Have we not all ever reached such a devastating and uncomprehending peak? Driven recklessly by possible self-loathing, credible theories, specious arguments. I’ll admit, yes, sometimes you just don’t fancy that bite, but that tends to be short-term, and if (by some all-encompassing food hell) it embraces the idea of long-term, it’ll be one dish that shines the light to the right path. Revel in this dish. Intermittent sentiment can alter appetite and sever beloved food relationships, as humane as such sentiment is, the results thrive on inhumanity. The fundamentals of eating to live, this is never so basic, or not completely.

So, do you eat to live or do you live to eat?

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Recipe + Method

200g unsalted butter, at room temperature

220g caster sugar

80g light brown soft sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp vanilla bean paste

360g plain flour, sifted

1 tbsp baking powder

pinch of salt

3 lemons, zest + juice

330ml buttermilk

200-300g fresh blueberries- ensure they are completely dried

For the frosting

100g unsalted butter, at room temperature

500g icing sugar, sifted

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

1-2 tbsp whole milk

Preheat the oven to 160C (fan assisted), grease and line 3 round tins (20cm)

Beat the butter and both sugars until light and creamy- about 3-4 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then add the vanilla paste. Leave aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt- beat this into the creamed mixture and follow by adding the milk, lemon zest and juice. Stir in the blueberries. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the sponge bounces back and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool for 10-15 minutes within the tins before placing them on a wire rack to cool completely.

To assemble the frosting beat together the butter and icing sugar, add the vanilla and milk (1 tbsp at a time). Refrigerate if needed before frosting the cake.

Macaron, mon amour?

“He loves me, a little, a lot, tenderly, passionately, madly, not at all”.

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We English are black and white- he either loves you or he does not. The French are shades of grey- he will love you in all kinds of love, or not at all. Where we believe in those secure and affable relationships, the French are content to sip on their wine and cohabit in the present.

Double chocolate. Macaron. Exquisite, divine and a classic. The French don’t cook in one layer like many Brits, the French have layers of desire ingrained into their food. And by layers I do not mean lasagne. Take the macaron for instance, it isn’t inclusive of a quick whisk, tip and bake. The macaron is a layer of gentle folding, artful piping and of course the lovers embrace- in our language that means sandwiching. How romantic.

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I reckon it’s impossible to savour the great macaron and not relate it to either the French or love- both are synonymous. If somebody gifts you macarons- or takes you on a sweet macaron date then he must have all kinds of love for you- and if not, then he wants you simply for that moment. Is that so bad? Love is in all shades. Macarons are the epitome of love. And the French of course.

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Recipe + Method

185g ground almonds
25g cocoa powder
300g icing sugar
4 egg whites (large)
40g golden caster sugar

Filling

225g dark chocolate
250g butter
5 tbsp double cream

Start by sifting together the icing sugar, ground almonds and cocoa powder- better yet just use a food processor – then sift the mixture into a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and then gently fold in the powdered mixture adding a bit at a time. The end result should be very glossy but thick and not droopy! I then got hold of a pastry ring 3cm in diameter, I recommend using your ruler to find the right size if a pastry cutter this size isn’t at your disposal; pencil around the pastry cutter onto baking paper, about 5cm apart (no less). Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle ad pipe these into the circle. Now let them sit for about 10-15 minutes- this step is called the croutage to allow the macaron to dry. This is crucial; it’s the difference between cracked and wonderfully smooth macarons. Don’t miss this step. Place the macarons into the oven at 150C (fan assisted) and bake for 20 minutes. Leave to cool completely

Meanwhile, make the filling. In a bowl over simmering water melt all the ingredients together and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes- best to check on it every 10 minutes as it won’t take long to set. We want it at piping consistency.

Once the macarons and filling are ready to assemble, gently peel away the paper and pipe and sandwich the macarons together.

Bon appetit!

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Twisted Maladaptations.

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I’ve been pondering the intricacies of bread. It is not yet conclusive as to why we have it almost every day. I have a friend who gave up bread for a few months! Bloody amazing isn’t it? Or perhaps just a slice twisted. I have however learned that our affiliation for sweet food is maladaptive; I consider my affiliation rather sick and twisted.

I am a cake decorator, who foolishly assumed that being surrounded in a bakery crammed of warm French pastries, snow-covered mince pies and delectable cakes would cure my sickness. It didn’t. I am the nibbler, the one that sneaks away with a few pieces and then muses over my next drug of choice.

Isn’t it normal then how we have a taste for sweet breads? Or is this a half-feigned plea at excusing our twisted tastes? Or mine. Many reckon bread is easy, it’s one of those easy to make little inventions, nothing difficult to rustle up as it is to consume half the loaf; I disagree. It takes a little bit of precision, a little bit of something different and a little bit more time, but shouldn’t it? One of the world’s oldest food is still thriving, so why then is it so underestimated? There are far too many recipes screaming of their speedy methods and miniscule ingredients.

I enjoy bread, perhaps (honestly) an inkling less than something wonderfully sweet but it’s a close second. Nevertheless, I love subtly sweet bread. Sprinkled in golden sugar that we tear and not-share mercilessly. Bread has been cheaper and easier to procure than sweet food; sweet food was scarce and therefore adaptive, but now it lies in the reaches of all human finger-lickers, every crevice in a restaurant and in that little drawer at the dentist. We’re all a little bit twisted, really. However because sweet food is now so readily available, our taste has become maladaptive.

However, I like twisted.

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Tightly twisted
Glazed and sugared
Glazed and sugared

Sometimes bread can shock you, particularly when its a risky piece.

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My brother absolutely loves this bread, his sweet tooth is lethal however, nothing like my ordinarily twisted one- his is beyond. It’s not sweet, its only subtly sweet, a sweetness you can determine yourself with your preferred quantity of sprinkling.

This is my beautifully crafted, wonderfully twisted masterpiece, it tastes lovely, soft and somewhat sweet.

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Recipe coming soon.

Possession by the Madeleine.

Madeleines. Patisserie lover? I think so! We should know what we eat, but when I made these little cakes nobody had an inkling as to what the blip they were! I say Madeleine and they say “what-a-lin?” We can’t let this continue, or I can’t. They were tortured, bribed and coerced into learning the art of the madeleine- my role in this? I am the torturer, briber, and coercer – and not necessarily in that order.

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The art of the madeleine is not simply learned, but one bite and it becomes a repetitive affair. They are light but moist, chocolate but oh-not-so-much, indulgent but… yes just indulgent. These little cakes aren’t dunked in heaps of flavour or filled with something or the other, they are simply chocolate. Chocolate that’s not too sharp, not too sweet, but that chocolate that makes you crawl back for just that little bit more.

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It’s an easy affair; after all, nirvana is hard for anybody to turn down.

Recipe + Method

80g plain flour

25g cocoa powder

½ tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

100g caster sugar

100g unsalted butter

2 large eggs

Cocoa powder, to dust

Sift the flour and cocoa power together along with the baking powder. In another bowl combine the salt and sugar then whisk in the butter and eggs. Add the dry mixture into the wet and continue whisking until it is fully combined. The mixture may need some fridge time to set to better consistency. I left mine for a few hours but it could be left for longer and even prepared to make the next day or so.

The next day(s) (or hours) preheat the oven to 180C (fan assisted), and butter a madeleine mould, divide the mixture evenly, and make sure not to over fill the moulds. I filled mine a little less than ¾ full. Bake for 12-15 minutes. They will appear plump and will bounce back when touched. Once they are cool dust them in cocoa powder.

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You bring the drug, I’ll wrap it in something sweet.

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Coffee is almost intrinsically addictive that you believe it to trigger something innately programmed when deficient. It’s not. Coffee is addictive, yes, but unfortunately it’s also socially predominant. People love to say “let’s meet for a coffee”; they love it so much that that simple request is a habit to unlearn. So then what happens when you couple the beast that is coffee with the smooth talking chocolate? It’s the paradise of stimulant and comfort, that’s what.



This takes us to the creation of the Mocha, the epic Macaccino, a drink for the sweet hearted, only faintly addicted- or a ploy? And I’ll admit I do not drink coffee; heck! Even my green tea is decaf! But the thought of chocolate flavoured coffee has my knees buckling. So what’s a non-coffee addict to do? You cook with it, and it becomes the sole inexplicable exception. Coffee flavoured desserts are sublime, and bound to chocolate- It’s a wonderful thing indeed.


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So this here is my take on one of the most loved, hated and needed drugs of many humans, a combination of the sharp, the sweet and the French. The ever versatile choux pastry filled tightly with mocha cream and topped with intensely dark chocolate ganache.

Recipe + Method

For the choux pastry

70g butter, cubed

115g plain flour + pinch of salt, sifted

3 eggs, beaten

For the mocha cream

200g white chocolate

8g instant coffee granules

460ml double cream, 260ml whipped to soft peaks

For the chocolate ganache

170g dark chocolate

70ml double cream

10g dark chocolate, finely grated

Start by making the choux pastry, combine the butter and 200ml water in a pan until the butter has melted and the water begins to boil- take off the heat and add the flour and salt, stir rapidly until it forms a soft smooth ball. Once cooled slightly, about 3-5 minutes, add half the beaten eggs and stir until it comes together, then add the remaining, ( it’s a judgement call) until the dough is glossy and holds its shape. Pipe 12cm ovals onto a baking paper and leave a 5cm gap between them, they should be no wider than 3cm. Bake them for 10 minutes on 180C (fan assisted) then increase the heat to 200C and bake for 15 minutes until nicely firm, risen and golden. Leave them be for a few minutes, then place them on a baking tray to cool completely, and slice horizontally.

For the mocha cream, warm 200ml of the double cream until just boiling and then pour this into a bowl with the coffee granules and whisk together until combined, leave to cool. Melt the white chocolate and leave to cool. The remaining cream should be whisked to soft peaks. Then whisk the chocolate into the coffee cream until smooth; add the whipped cream until just combined. Refrigerate until needed.

For the ganache heat the chocolate and cream over a pan of simmering water until the chocolate has melted and it is fully combined. Refrigerate until it is at coating consistency- this won’t take too long, keep checking on it.

To assemble, start by dipping one half of an oval in the chocolate ganache and then leaving it to set. Then pipe the mocha cream onto the second half of the oval (I used a round tipped nozzle, but it’s pretty versatile). Place the chocolate ganache covered oval over the mocha cream oval once set and dust in chocolate.

Succumb to the French… dessert.

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Some time, some place, somewhere, someone is saying “khla -foo-tee” over and over and over again… a moment ago that was me, in London, in my kitchen– I make no excuses for the rest of those people, but I was simply perfecting its pronunciation. When it’s not London orientated it’s a thing to learn, I’m terrible with accents, in fact everything I ever attempt to pronounce in another tongue seems to always roll out American, or my version of. Not very impressive for a writing enthusiast but if it can be learned then it can be mastered to precision.

So this looks (modestly) amazing right? It only calls for a few of those cupboard essentials and a few fresh produce to make it taste the masterpiece that it is, and in this case looks are not one bit deceiving because it looks just as good as it tastes. These lovely little blue dollops make the heart of this recipe with the remaining ingredients making it beat erratically. Luckily for those who aren’t the baking powder or cookery keeper, this recipe will call out your on-a-whim baking, and simply raid your condiments for some flour and sugar, topped off with blueberries, milk and eggs. Its actually that simple and takes less than 10 minutes to put together before cooking, perfect for dinner parties.

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I made this for no special occasion, but when you see it, and sample (inhale) it, you can see the appeal. It’s lovely golden brown top slices into a lovely juicy burst of freaking good simple food. And I would even go so far as to say that you can use ice cream on the side or even a glass of cold milk. And the best part about using blueberries is that when they are heated they are sensitive to bursting, so when they hit your palette and you take that bite, they literally burst into a gazillion drops of sweetness. Unlike a normal clafoutis made with cherries, this one is ideal for the blueberry lover- yet I am not that, I just like them to an appropriate degree; saying that, this is made amazing because of the blueberries.

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For those of you who do not know the clafoutis, it is a French dessert made of fruit (typically cherries as I mentioned before) and its texture is rather silky and flan-like, served with cream; it’s simple and it’s full of flavour.

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Recipe+Method

300-400g blueberries, rinsed

80g plain flour

80g caster sugar

¼ tsp salt

2 eggs + 1 egg white

300ml milk

Icing sugar to dust and/or cream to serve

Grease a 20-22cm flan tin or dish (you can also use a sandwich tin of the same measurements) and add the in blueberries, ensuring they are spread evenly. Mix together the dry ingredients of flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. In a jug whisk together the egg white and eggs until frothy, then add this to the dry mixture whilst continuing to whisk, and then adding in the milk in a smooth trail. The mixture will be thin and smooth. Pour this in the dish and bake on a preheated oven at 160C (fan assisted) for 35 minutes. Once cooked serve warm dusted with icing sugar and puddles of cream, or even eat it cold.

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Comfort for the Conformist.

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We relish in a bubble of safety when we do things that are acceptable or common, but what’s so wrong with that? So many times we simply crave something safe, secure and, commonly indulgent. These have been very popular, or so I like to believe; they satisfy those inevitable cravings all we common people suffer. Because really, if you don’t crave such things in life, then you aren’t very common are you?

IMG_5593 An irresistible chocolate cake makes the base for the comfort, and a rich layer of salted caramel frosting topped with sticky toffee popcorn and drizzles of sharp dark chocolate brings this baby home. During just the first completed comfort cupcake however my comfort cravings reached its peak and demanded satisfaction- needless to say I acquiesced. This isn’t a sickening cupcake, it’s a toe-curling cupcake, so darn good it’ll make you moan.

IMG_5595You see, comfort promises not just that safe, homely feeling but it insists on the feelings of contentment and in this case, it’s very much blushingly akin to sexual pleasures, or so I was told. I was surprised nevertheless that the cake was so moist, it seems to me that using cocoa instead of melted chocolate or milk in substitution of oil brings richness to this cake, or perhaps the complete synchronisation of the recipe? Either way, it is undeniably very moist and moreish!

IMG_5596It’s so typical and acceptable I dare you to try something so very common.

Recipe + Method

For the Chocolate cupcake

60g of cocoa powder

1tbsp baking powder

2 eggs

215ml milk

½tsp salt

180g plain flour, sifted

80g unsalted butter, at room temperature

260g, caster sugar

For the salted caramel frosting

130g caster sugar

90ml double cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

220g icing sugar, sifted

150g butter, at room temperature

Sea salt, to taste

For the sticky toffee popcorn

60g popping corn

1tbsp oil

60g salted butter (unsalted if you do not have salted on hand)

3tbsp golden syrup

60g light brown muscovado sugar

+

100g dark chocolate, melted

For the cupcakes, start by whisking together the butter and sugar until combined, and then gradually add the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder- it will be rather dry; this is when you whisk together the milk and eggs in a a separate bowl and then pour into the crumbly mix and whisk this until it is smooth and fully combined. Then scoop them into the cupcake cases, about two thirds full. Place it to cook in a preheated oven at 160C (fan assisted) and cook for about 25 minutes, and once baked leave on a rack to cool.

For the frosting, start by heating the sugar with 4 ½tbsp of water on a medium heat and stir this until it begins to thicken and you can see a caramel colour taking effect. This process usually takes about 5+ minutes. Once it has reached its peak remove from the heat and pour in the cream and stir in the vanilla. This will be very hot so let it cool to tasting temperature and then add salt to taste- I added about a 1 ½tsp. Then leave this to cool completely. It will start to thicken and even harden slightly but the cream will stop it from setting. In a bowl, whisk together the butter and icing sugar until it is thick and creamy, then pour in the caramel and whisk away until smooth and combined.

For the sticky toffee popcorn (prepare a sheet of baking paper), start by heating a large pan with oil and add in the popping corn and cover, let this pop on low heat and ensure to leave it for a few minutes after the heat is turned off to allow all the corn to have popped. Whilst this is popping make the sticky toffee by throwing in the butter with the sugar and golden syrup and stirring this on a medium heat for about 2-3 minutes. Then pour this over the popcorn still in the pan and stir until all the popcorn is coated equally and then tip this on the baking paper and separate the popcorn.

To assemble, get the cupcake and pipe on the salted caramel frosting (I used a simple round nozzle), if this isn’t your best skill then don’t worry because the popcorn will hide any flaws. Top the frosting with the sticky toffee popcorn in a sort of pyramid shape and coat with the melted chocolate. Best eaten straight after they are put together whilst the chocolate remains gooey, but also great the next day!

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I am the knight in summer’s armour.

Wet. Dreary. Cold. Not quite everybody’s most beloved forecast but then again you could do what I did… the humbly incredible, the previously-uninventable, the just-about-salvageable! You see, instead of my very realistic plan of flying to the sky and seducing the clouds into playing nice, I decided to retreat to my kitchen, where I created my very own sweet slice of sunshine. Warm. Fuzzy. Bright. I set the temperature and made it shine!

Summer seems to be a rather beautiful but hazy memory, for me however, I have a sweet love for winter but even I understand the need for a pick me up, a sort of edible high, a summer stimulator if you must- so I opened my mouth to the neglected fruits of the Sun. They seemed to be my lifeline for the intensely craved summer levity.

Now of course, like on a summer’s eve you do not want to labour away, so the hard work here simply comes from the opening and closing of the mouth and then repeating the motion until the food placed inside is of adequate consistency ready for the swallow. The pastry is amazingly versatile, and I made so much because pastry can be quite unnerving at times, and in every attempt made it isn’t ever the same. But after many a trial and error it was so pliable and soft to work with, in fact, I’d say it was my most easiest and joyful pastry yet. The better part is that when layering the tart with the delectable compote and creamy Chantilly the pastry remains steady and strong, it’s tough so it can carry the beautiful burden of cream and fruits without a ripple of pastry muscle crumbling. Oh yeah, sexy!

IMG_5448It’s your choice whether you make this in a pretty tart tin with the crimped edges, a muffin pan, a sandwich tin or even a very square tin. The decision is yours, I opted for the mini tart tins, a large one, and even a sandwich one – what can I say? Summer has been sorely missed – or the tastes of, and I hadn’t the frosty heart to throw away perfectly tasty pastry dough. So on account of the layers of summer in this lovely thing, it holds the sandy vanilla pastry, a fruity jam followed by a substantial layer of sunny Chantilly cream and a summer fruit of your choice (I used blueberries and strawberries).

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Recipe + Method

For the Pastry

2 egg yolks

250g plain flour

1 ½ tbsp cold water

3tbsp caster sugar

2tsp vanilla extract

180g unsalted butter, cold and chopped

For the compote

300g blueberries/strawberries (or try both)

75g caster sugar

1 ½tsp vanilla extract

For the chantilly cream

200g white chocolate, melted

500ml double cream, whipped

200-300g strawberries or blueberries (or both)

To begin the assembling of summer, start with the pastry. Mix in the sugar and flour followed by the cubes of butter- combine with your fingers until it resembles fine bread crumbs. Then add the vanilla, egg yolks and water. Once it forms a soft dough turn it out onto a floured work surface and knead until properly combined, then wrap the ball in cling film and refrigerate for about 45minutes. Next, take the dough out and roll out and line your chosen tins, ensuring they are all lightly greased beforehand, and prick with a fork and refrigerate again for about 30 minutes. After, line the tins with baking paper and beans and bake in a preheated oven (fan assisted) on 160C for about 8-10minutes for small tart tins or muffin tins and 12-15minutes for larger tart/sandwich tins. Then remove the paper and beans and bake the pastries further for another 5 minutes for small tart/muffin tins and 7 minutes for larger tins. Then remove from the oven and allow it to cool whilst making the jammy filling.

For the strawberry filling, thinly slice strawberries and chuck in a pan with the sugar, on a medium heat stir until it has thickened and then remove from the heat and add the vanilla. Leave to cool. For blueberry filling, add blueberries in a pan with the sugar and 2tsp water and stir on medium heat until thickened. Then remove from the heat and add vanilla, leaving it to cool after.

To make the cream, melt the chocolate and leave to cool, whip the cream and fold half into the chocolate, when combined, gently fold in the remaining cream- do not over-fold. Then put the tart together, spread with the jammy filling, smother on the Chantilly cream and finish with the sliced fruits on top.

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See? You don’t need summer to see a gorgeous tart, just fruit it up and it’ll warm you like summer on a winter’s eve.

Tis the Christmas extension…

Isn’t it rather odd the marvel of meringues? They require only one crucial ingredient with sprinkles of sugar, but then they can be turned into little wonders right? I mean meringue is used on top of cakes, with pies, and simply piped out into perfectly plain little dollops; but amazing is the charm of these dollops! I used their simplicity here and turned them to what I hope they are perceived to be, marvellous.

They are also festive, because we all know Christmas isn’t quite over until the New Year begins. It’s a festive extension!! I made this during Christmas when I was researching festive ideas, looking for that creative streak, I found many; then I came across those plain piped dollops of meringue which, look brilliant… But they lacked Christmas colour and lustre. I wanted something more together-some, nothing individual. So here you have a layered meringue surprise. The surprise lies within the meringue itself.

We all know meringues are not always those angelic pure white creations they appear, but temperature and time can really make them somewhat hellish. Yet here I am, ever the daring one, and decided to add some chopped hazelnuts in the mix! Well they were incredible!! Bite into it and it’s got this special crunch to it and this lovely nutty flavour.
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I’ve layered them together with a creamy filling and drizzles and drizzles of chocolate and scatters of fresh raspberries! This beauty goes by the name of Vacherin, a lovely French dessert.

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Recipe + Method

6 egg whites

280g caster sugar

160g hazelnuts, toasted (5mins)

½ tsp vanilla extract

2tsp corn flour

110g dark chocolate

200ml crème fraiche, beaten down to soften

400g raspberries

500ml double cream

1tbsp icing sugar, sifted

In this lovely dessert, first you much ensure the hazelnuts are toasted for about 5 mins on a frying pan (no oil) and then let them cool before you chop them roughly. Then I used a large plate and a smaller plate (the sizes are of your own preference, baring in mind they will be layered on top of each other, so the bigger underneath the better for the smaller top, I used 1 large plate to draw 2 large circles, and 1 smaller plate for 1 small circle). Draw around the plates on separate sheets of baking paper, placing them on greased baking trays.

Whisk together the egg whites until stiff but not dry and then gradually mix in the sugar until it’s all finished and then the corn flour and vanilla extract. Whisk this until it is thoroughly combined. Then fold in ¾ of the toasted hazelnuts and once incorporated spoon this out onto the drawn disks up to the edges, (the larger disks should use about 2/3 of the mixture so divide it equally) then do the same for the last disk, using all of the remaining mixture. Place these in a preheated oven at 120C but turn this down to 100C when you place them in, and cook for 1hour and 30 minutes. Once cooked, leave to cool and make the filling.

Whip the cream with the icing sugar, but only until its reaching the consistency of soft peaks, then fold in the crème fraiche. Then melt the chocolate and leave to cool a little. To finish, first smother with the creamy filling, scatter the raspberries and then drizzle chocolate- do this to all layers and then sprinkle the nuts on tops and dust with icing sugar.