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Tuesday, 4 December 2012

christmas rocky road squares

These are plain old rocky road squares with the seasonal adjustment of red glace cherries. The ones pictured here are missing their nuts as they were destined for a school party. These can be made ahead and store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 1 week. Decorate with icing sugar up to 2 hours before serving. Make the Rocky Road as above and freeze for up to a month. Thaw overnight in a cool place and decorate.

250g dark chocolate
150g milk chocolate
175g butter
4 tbsp golden syrup
200g Rich Tea biscuits
150g toasted hazelnuts
150g glace cherries (red)
125 g mini marshmallows
1 tbsp icing sugar
Edible things for decorating

Chop both sorts of chocolate small and then put into a heavy-based pan to melt with the butter and syrup over a gentle heat. Put the biscuits into a freezer bag and bash them with a rolling pin to get big- and little-sized crumbs; you want some pieces to crunch and some sandy rubble. Put the nuts into another freezer bag and also bash them so you get different-sized nut rubble. Take the pan off the heat, and add the crushed biscuits and nuts, whole glacé cherries and mini-marshmallows. Turn carefully to coat everything with syrupy chocolate. Tip into a foil tray (I use one 236mm x 296mm), smoothing the top as best you can, although it will look bumpy. Refrigerate until firm enough to cut, which will take about 1 1/2–2 hours. Then take the set block of rocky road out of the foil tray ready to cut. Sieve the icing sugar to dust the top of the Rocky Road. With the long side in front of you, cut into it 6 slices down and 4 across, so that you have 24 almost-squares. Top with festive things, edible or plastic, taking care not to eat the plastic ones.

Adapted from Nigella Christmas

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Pear and Cardamom Cake

With the Christmas season galloping towards us - it's good to have a few easy to make recipes up your sleeve that are still smart enough to serve as a dessert over the festive season.

This is a grown up cake with subtle flavors that linger. It just needs a scoop of good vanilla ice-cream or even better, a little quenelle of mascarpone cream. The pear in this recipe works beautifully. It moistens and subtly flavours the cake, complimenting the other flavours. The amaretti biscuits and ground almonds give a gentle note of almond while the coffee and cardamom give an initial burst of flavour before blending gently into the background.

This is an 'objet trouvé' sort of a recipe - from an advertisement promotion for DeLonghi, (hence the coffee I suppose) in Delicious Magazine.  Very pretty on the plate with it's cobweb of chocolate, and it is, indeed, delicious.

Pear and Cardamom Cake with Coffee and Amaretti

175g softened butter
175g light muscavado sugar
3 medium eggs
50g ground almonds
1 tsp freshly ground cardamom
175g self raising flour
2 tbsp espresso coffee
3 ripe pears, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
4 amaretti biscuits, roughly crushed
75g dark chocolate

Preheat the oven to 190C
grease and line a 20cm loose-bottomed tin
Cream together the butter and the sugar until pale and fluffy
Beat in the eggs one at a time
Fold in the ground almonds, cardamom, flour, coffee, and 2/3 of the chopped pears until well combined
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface
Scatter the remaining pears and 2/3 of the amaretti biscuits over the top and bake for 1 hour until risen and cooked. If you insert a skewer into the centre it should come out clean
Allow the cake to cool completely
Remove the cake from the tin and place onto a serving platter. Scatter over the remaining biscuits.
Melt the chocolate and drizzle over the top of the cake