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Tuesday, 21 April 2015

3 High-End Desserts That Require No Effort

With summer just around the corner, thoughts turn to looking good in our summer clothes and that means making a resolution to be good and cut out desserts. “Fresh fruit only!” is the vow heard up and down the country. Until unexpected guests arrive for dinner, that is, and you quail at offering them a few slices of orange with yoghurt artistically arranged on top. Never mind the diet, these dinner guests need something impressive, and they need it fast!

Here are suggestions for three of the best.

Limoncello and raspberry semi-freddo

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This limoncello and raspberry semifreddo sounds (and looks!) very impressive but takes little effort – it can even be made a couple of weeks in advance and whipped out when needed. Unlike ice cream, you don’t need special equipment: a simple bread tin takes the place of a fancy ice cream maker. A great plus to this is that if you’re determined to be good you can just nibble the raspberry garnish. Ring the changes by folding orange zest and an orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier through instead of limoncello and raspberry, a shot of espresso and coffee liqueur, for example Tia Maria, or make it alcohol free and use a dash of orange juice and chopped chocolate, or pistachio and honey. You can use your favourite cake flavours, or try mixing new combinations!

Espresso biscotti

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Just the word “biscotti” conjures a world of chic, with images of elegant Italians nibbling the classic biscuits. These espresso biscotti are simple, quick, and don’t have a long ingredients list. Enjoy them with a latte for a double coffee hit! 

It’s their simplicity that makes them so elegant, so use the best quality, fresh ingredients. Don’t worry that the recipe lists almonds, ground almonds and almond powder too – if you can’t find the almond powder or even ground almonds, it’s really simple to pop the desired weight in a plastic cup and grind them to the right consistency with a stick blender. You can use a clean coffee grinder for this too, since a little extra coffee flavour won’t hurt! 

Toffee apple layered dessert

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Looks great, takes no time at all, and easily feeds four people. The part that makes it look good comes in the presentation, so make sure you use the nicest glasses you’ve got, and make sure you can see the layers through the side. Be careful when layering it up too, as messy splashes or uneven layers don’t look the same. 

Simply whip a 250ml carton of double cream with a teaspoon of vanilla essence and a dash of icing sugar until stiff. Crush two digestive biscuits for each person, and put into the bottom of the glasses. Add a layer of whipped cream, then spoon on a layer of ready-made apple compote. Drizzle with a good quality ready-made toffee sauce, and sprinkle each dessert with a little extra crushed biscuit as a finishing touch, and perhaps a fresh mint sprig. Voila!

You’ll find your guests impressed with all of these ideas, and you can get back to counting the calories tomorrow.

Image credit: Semi-freddo, biscotti, trifle

featured post

Chocolate Dinosaur Nests

Jack loves cooking but we don't get chance to do as much as we used to before he was at school. One day last week I got all the ingredients ready for chocolate crispy cakes whilst he was at school, and then as soon as he was home we set about making some Dinosaur Nests. They were supposed to be Easter nests (a little late, I know), but Jack wanted to make dinosaur nests as he'd been learning about dinosaurs at school that day.

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Chocolate Dinosaur Nests - makes 8

200g dark chocolate
50g butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
100g cornflakes
24 mini eggs
  • Melt the chocolate, butter & golden syrup together in a bowl in the microwave (on short bursts) or over a pan of boiling water
  • Stir in the cornflakes and mix until well coated
  • Spoon into muffin cases and make a well in the centre
  • Add 3 mini eggs to each nest & place in the fridge to firm up

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A nice simple recipe for any dinosaur lover to make.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Double Decker Chocolate & Banana Fluffernutter Toastie

During my time living in America I don't think I ever heard of a Fluffernutter sandwich, let alone tried one. If I'd discovered them during my first pregnancy I think I would've been hooked for sure as I had a sweet tooth then and craved Golden Syrup crispy cakes, and I couldn't find any Lyle's Golden Syrup for love nor money, and corn syrup didn't quite work as a replacement.

Anyway, if you've never heard of a Fluffernutter sandwich it's marshmallow fluff and peanut butter sandwiched between white bread. It's definitely a bit on the sweet side and not in the least bit healthy, so you wouldn't want to be popping them in the kids lunchboxes or the lunchbox police may have something to say about it. They work great as a quick dessert though, and are even better with an extra slice of bread, Nutella and banana.

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You can either toast the bread or not, but as I'd just received a Breville 'toast to the top' 2 slice toaster to try out I decided to toast the bread.

For each toastie you'll need :

3 slices of bread, toasted
Marshmallow fluff
Peanut butter
1 banana

  • Spread one slice of toast with marshmallow fluff
  • Spread another slice with peanut butter, and sandwich them together
  • Spread Nutella on the top of the sandwich and top with banana slices
  • Place the 3rd piece of toast on top of the banana
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a perfectly toasted piece of toast

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kids love them!

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The Breville VTT570 is a perfect fit for all Warburtons bread - no white strips at the top of the toast with the slots deep enough for Warburtons Toastie bread. With the high lift facility it's also good for smaller slices, bagels or crumpets - avoiding burnt fingers trying to reach them out! There's also a lift & look facility making it possible to check the progress of your toast without interrupting the cycle - genius!

The toaster comes with either 2 or 4 slots, retailing at £34.99 & £59.99 respectively, from Breville.

I received the toaster for the purpose of this review

Thursday, 16 April 2015

A weekend in the English Riviera

Over the Easter weekend we spent a few days in South Devon, firstly spending a few hours along the seafront in Torquay & Paignton before heading to our caravan near Brixham. 

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The site we stay on is nothing special but it's a great base for visiting Brixham, Paignton, Torquay and Goodrington. The site is situated a short walk from the Berry Head Peninsula, which can be reached by walking along the southwest coast path, and this is where we headed on Saturday morning, with a stop for breakfast at The Guardhouse Cafe.

There is a wide selection on offer at the cafe, including breakfasts, lunches, afternoon teas, cakes, coffee, beers and wines. The husband and two eldest chose from the sandwich menu, and I chose bacon & egg on toast from the breakfast menu, whilst Jack had a toasted teacake.

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The hearty breakfasts set us up for a windy walk around the peninsula searching for eggs on the Easter Egg Hunt, using the clues on the worksheet (available from the cafe for a donation of £1 per child).

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We then headed back down the coast path, past the Berry Head Hotel, Shoalstone outdoor pool and Breakwater Bistro, into Brixham, where the first stop was for an ice cream at The Bay Ice Cream Company, in the Marina.

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Whenever we've spent a sunny day in Brixham there's always plenty to see and do around the town, my favourite of which is to park up on a bench beside the Golden Hind Museum Ship and people watch, whist the kids eat ice cream or fish & chips from one of the many shops & takeaways around the harbour.

This is one of my favourite Brixham harbour people watching photos, from Easter 2012

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A place that we've been to a few times over the years for lunch is The Bullers Arms, where we've enjoyed fish and chips. This time we were still full from breakfast so decided to pop in just for a drink instead.

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We headed back to the caravan site through the town, and called in to the Westcountry Deli on Fore Street to pick up some cheese, crackers and olives before braving the steep hill back up to Berry Head.

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If the weather is good whilst we're in Devon we always go to Goodrington Sands, which is a lovely stretch of sandy beach with car parking at each end and plenty of places for eating and drinking along the way. This time we were there on Easter Sunday, which was a lovely sunny day, and the kids joined in with the Easter Egg Hunt. 20 minutes to dig in the sand for a plastic egg sounded easier than it was, and unfortunately our efforts were fruitless, but plenty of fun was had jumping off the wall, playing football and frisbee.

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