Friday, 28 December 2012

Cherry, Almond and Chocolate Trifle

You can never have too many indulgent treats this time of year. Last year I made a chocolate and orange trifle for Christmas Day dessert. For a family party this week I decided to give it a new twist, taking advantage of the Amaretto that is hanging round in my parent's kitchen. I adore this chocolate custard - some can be quite thin which means the trifle ends up a bit all over the place. This is rich and creamy and makes the dish something special.

This recipe is a mix of favourite dessert flavours all in one: the cherry, cream and chocolate combination of a Black Forest Gateau; the almond flavour topped off with cherry inspired by Bakewell tarts; all layered in the traditional trifle style. Perfect for an indulgent but reassuringly old fashioned dessert to be served at a family gathering.

I hope everyone has had a lovely Christmas!

Cherry, Almond and Chocolate Trifle

Layers of vanilla and almond sponge, topped with raspberries and cherries, a rich chocolate custard, and whipped cream, topped with cherries, almonds and grated chocolate.

Serves 6-8


  • 1 large raspberry and vanilla Swiss roll
  • 4 tbsp Amaretto 
  • 200g raspberries
  • 200g cherries
  • 3-4 tbsp raspberry or cherry jam
  • For the custard:
    • 2 egg yolks
    • 2 tbsp caster sugar
    • 2 tbsp cornflour
    • 200ml milk
    • 200g dark chocolate, melted
    • 250g tub ricotta
  • 225ml double cream (or other cream suitable for whipping)
  • Flaked almonds, to decorate
  • Grated chocolate, to decorate


  1. Cut the Swiss roll into chunky slices. Lay these in a large serving dish, filling in any gaps with small pieces of sponge.
  2. Sprinkle the Amaretto over the sponge to soak in.
  3. Wash and pat dry the raspberries. Layer these on top of the sponge slices. Wash and chop the cherries, reserving 10 whole ones for decoration. Add these to the raspberries.
  4. Spoon enough jam over the fruit so there is a thin coating over the sponge to keep it moist. 
  5. Mix the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a large bowl to make a paste.
  6. Heat the milk in a pan until it reaches just below boiling point. Pour it over the egg mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Return to the pan and heat through, stirring continuously, until the mixture is thickened and smooth.
  7. Return the custard to the large bowl. Add the melted chocolate and the ricotta and stir until combined. Pour over the fruit, smooth with the back of a spoon and leave in the fridge for an hour, or until set. 
  8. Whisk the cream until slightly thickened. Spread over the custard layer, or pipe if wished. 
  9. Arrange the remaining cherries over the cream. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds and grated chocolate. Store in the fridge until ready to serve. 

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Mince Pie Slices with Lemon Icing

While I may begin making Christmas plans and buying presents before December hits, the one thing I manage to save until the 1st is indulging in Christmassy treats. Then I can't help but dig into chocolates, fruit cake, and my favourite, mince pies. Living next door to a bakery this year has been both brilliant and dangerous for my taste for thick buttery pastry encasing rich fruity mincemeat and sprinkled with sugar. I have had some of the best mince pies, but probably a tad too often than I should. Though isn't that the definition of this time of year?

I first made these mince pie slices last year and they went down very well. I do admit to cheating with the pastry; while most of the time I try to ensure everything I make is from scratch I feel there are some things that are acceptable to include a short cut. There is enough busyness in the kitchen at Christmas that sometimes it's more important to have these ready with as little stress as possible, and focus that extra time on spending it with loved ones.

This recipe is easily adapted to suit different tastes - include whichever dried fruit and nuts you fancy. Flaked almonds, pistachios or a few chopped glacé cherries would look particularly attractive in my opinion.

Mince Pie Slices with Lemon Icing

Adapted from Good Food

This twist on a Christmas favourite combines an extra fruity mincemeat filling with flaky puff pastry, drizzled with a zesty icing

Mince Pie Slices with Lemon Icing
Cuts into 12 slices


  • 400g jar mincemeat
  • 1/2 apple, cored, peeled and finely chopped
  • Zest of 1 lemon, plus 2 tsp juice
  • 40g dried cranberries
  • 25g chopped nuts
  • 1 heaped tbsp ground almonds
  • 375g pack ready-rolled puff pastry
  • 50g icing sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/Gas Mark 7. 
  2. Combine the mincemeat, chopped apple, lemon zest, cranberries and nuts in a bowl.
  3. Roll out the pastry and trim the end to make a 23cm square. Lay on a baking tray.
  4. Scatter the ground almonds evenly over the pastry. Spread the mincemeat mixture over the whole of the pastry, right to the edges. 
  5. Use the spare pastry to decorate the top of the slices. I cut strips and lay them over the mincemeat in a lattice pattern, making sure they are secure to the pastry base. Or cut shapes from the pastry (stars, hearts) and lay them equal distances apart. 
  6. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, until the pastry is risen and golden. Leave to cool.
  7. Once cool, mix the icing sugar with the lemon juice. A little water may be needed to reach the right consistency. Drizzle the lemon icing over the mince pie and cut into 12 slices. 

Friday, 14 December 2012

Christmas Food Post Round Up

That this is a hectic time of year is an understatement. Despite recently beginning my break from uni for Christmas, I have been trying to get on top of my workload so I can relax a bit when I head home. Hopefully then I can fully appreciate all the things I love about Christmas, my favourite of course, being the seemingly non-stop preparation and consumption of delicious food.

I haven't done much of my own Christmassy cooking/baking yet (apart from these snowy-effect chocolate crackles), so I thought I'd do a quick post of some of the best ideas and recipes I've come across on the internet so far. 

First up, I think these cookie gift ideas from Spoon Fork Bacon are brilliant! The packaging is cute, modern and seasonal, and the cookies themselves look absolutely delicious. Check out the post here.

I adore truffles; in my opinion there's nothing more indulgent than tucking into a box of rich chocolate truffles with a light dusting of cocoa powder. These chocolate truffles from Pastry Affair flavoured with red wine add an extra sophistication and would be very welcomed as a gift or served after dinner, I'm sure. Recipe here.

And of course, not forgetting the main attraction, Christmas Day dinner itself. This twist on turkey and potatoes from Mama's Pantry looks incredible: perfectly cooked meat with a golden finish, served with crispy potatoes - what more could you wish for? The recipe here has started off my roast dinner cravings!

I'll share any Christmas cooking I get up to over the next couple of weeks and let me know of any yummy looking recipes you come across too! I've also been wanting to check out some new blogs, so feel free to leave me your link below :)

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Chocolate Crackles and a Fox in a Jumper

Bundled up in burgundy gloves and a big woolly scarf whilst running around shops crammed with people, products and Christmas decorations, hoping to find the perfect gift for a family member. I'm not having much luck finding stuff for people this year so I end up popping into shops constantly, spinning around for ages but not actually finding anything. Too fussy for my own good.

As always I'm really looking forward to Christmas; a chance to go home after a few months of being at uni and get cosied up with my family and friends, laughing lots and eating too much. Because of all the moving around, my usual Christmas tree and decorations have been forgotten about, left in the loft back home, so instead I've picked up this cute little real tree, sprinkled with glitter and with a fox wearing a jumper to finish it off (just what every tree needs!). A few bits of tinsel and some lights and we'll still be able to get the flat all Christmassy feeling.

I spent the afternoon baking these chocolatey cookies from the Great British Bake Off book (How to bake the perfect Victoria sponge).

They turned out better than I hoped, soft and squidgy in the middle, almost brownie-like, with a crispy sugary outside.

The pavement-covered-in-snow type effect is made by rolling balls of the biscuit mixture into icing sugar just before baking, so it cracks as they spread out in the oven.

Perfect with a big mug of tea on a Winter evening!
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