Matcha & White Chocolate Cookies

I’ve been a bit obsessed with cookies after visiting the iconic Levain Bakery in New York City. If you haven’t yet visited, they make the most wonderful cookies which are slightly crisp on the outside and melty and gooey on the inside. They’re glorious American-sized desserts, rather than an eat-on-the-go snack, but I’m not complaining!

Back at home, I’ve been trying to recreate smaller versions of their famous chocolate chip and walnut cookie, which have turned out deliciously (with thanks to Ottolenghi and Helen Goh’s recipe from Sweet). But from the title of this post, you can tell I’ve strayed and started to experiment with other flavours!

I love the combination of matcha and white chocolate, so this was a no brainer – I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as I do! It’s important not to overbake these cookies as they’ll end up too crisp all the way through (unless you like your cookies that way!). You might have to make a test batch as different ovens may need a slightly shorter/longer bake time. You can easily double the recipe to freeze more of the cookie dough and bake at a later date.

Ingredients (makes 18 cookies)

  • 125 g unsalted butter, melted
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 100 g light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 280 g self-raising flour
  • 10 g matcha powder
  • 130 g white chocolate, either in chips or chopped into even 0.5 cm chunks

Directions

  1. Beat together (using an electric mixer or whisk) the melted butter and sugars for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the vanilla extract and egg, and continue whisking until the mixture is paler in colour and smoother in consistency (another 2-3 minutes).
  3. Sift the flour and matcha powder into the mixture and fold everything together with a spatula.
  4. Add in the white chocolate chips and mix so they are well distributed in the dough. The dough may be difficult to mix with a spatula at this point, so use your hands if that is easier.
  5. Form the dough into the size of golf balls (approx. 45g each) and place onto a lined baking tray / cookie sheet.
  6. Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour. You can transfer the balls into the freezer at this point, to keep up to 3 months.
  7. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 200°C / 180°C fan / 390°F. Spread the dough balls 3cm apart.
  8. Bake for 12 minutes from chilled, or 14 minutes from frozen.
  9. The cookies may still feel soft once out of the oven, but let them cool for 15-30 minutes before enjoying!

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Pineapple, Coconut and Pecan Loaf Cake

If you’re not a big fan of the dreary winter months after Christmas has passed, give this summery tropical loaf cake a try! This cake is packed with delicious bits of pecan, raisins, coconut and pineapple chunks and is best enjoyed with a cup of tea (so will still keep you warm). It’ll keep up to 3 days in an airtight container.

Ingredients

  • 80 g pecan halves
  • 1 tin (432 g) crushed pineapple (or pineapple rings) in juice
  • 125 g unsalted butter
  • 150 g demerara sugar
  • 80 g raisins
  • 2 large eggs
  • 320 g self-raising flour
  • 50 g desiccated coconut
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of mixed spice

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160°C fan / 350°F and lightly roast the pecan halves for 7 minutes. Once cooled, roughly chop the pecans into small pieces.
  2. Increase the oven temperature to 190°C / 170°C fan / 375°F and line a loaf tin with parchment paper.
  3. If you’ve got pineapple rings/slices, blitz them for a quick second so that they are more like small chunks, rather than a puree.
  4. In a saucepan on medium heat, combine the pineapple juice, pineapple chunks, sugar and butter until everything is melted together.
  5. Take off the heat and add the raisins and spices. Leave to cool to room temperature.
  6. Whisk the eggs and mix into the pineapple mixture.
  7. Sift the flour into the wet ingredients and gently fold together.
  8. Add the pecans and 30g of the desiccated coconut and combine well.
  9. Pour into the loaf tin and sprinkle the remaining coconut on top.
  10. Bake for 50 minutes until a wooden skewer comes out clean.
  11. Leave to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before serving.
  12. Enjoy!

(Recipe adapted from Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh, ‘Pineapple, pecan and currant tin can cake’)

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Christmas Florentine Biscuits

At last!! I may have just found my favourite Christmas cookie recipe. It’s buttery, spiced with cinnamon, topped with a nutty caramel and dipped in dark chocolate – you really can’t go wrong 🙂

This recipe is an adaptation of the traditional Florentine biscuit (originating from Italy, although some dispute this…) but combines nuts (hazelnuts or almonds), candied fruit, honey and chocolate. Adding a sweet biscuit layer gives the cookie a bit more substance and bite. Since it has two components, it was a bit more fiddly to make, but was definitely a fun project on a Friday night!

Ingredients (makes 18)

For the biscuit layer

  • 115 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 55 g golden caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150 g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

For the Florentine topping

  • 33 g unsalted butter
  • 33 g light brown sugar
  • 33 g maple syrup
  • 33 g plain flour
  • 50 g dried cranberries (or glacé cherries, if you prefer)
  • 50 g flaked almonds
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100 g dark chocolate

Directions

  1. Make the biscuit dough. Start by creaming together the butter, sugar and vanilla with an electric whisk.
  2. Sift in the flour and cinnamon, then fold together.
  3. Use your hands or a spatula to form the dough into a sphere, wrap in cling film then chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
  4. Make the Florentine topping. Melt the butter, brown sugar, maple syrup in a saucepan over low heat. Take off the heat, si°ft in the flour and add the almonds, cranberries and a pinch of salt. Gently fold through.
  5. Leave the Florentine mixture to cool.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160°C fan / 350°F.
  7. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  8. Take the biscuit dough out from the fridge and, on a lightly floured surface, roll to the thickness of a £1 coin.
  9. Use a cookie cutter/mug/glass (approx. 6 cm in diameter) to cut out the biscuits and place onto a baking sheet.
  10. Combine any scraps and roll out again, cutting out more biscuits until the dough is used up.
  11. Evenly spread about 2 tsp of Florentine topping onto each biscuit.
  12. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the biscuits are golden. Leave to cool for at least 15 mins.
  13. Melt the dark chocolate – either on a saucepan of boiling water or in the microwave.
  14. Decorate the biscuits as you wish with the chocolate. I did a generous chocolate drizzle for half of the batch, and dipped the other half in the remaining chocolate.
  15. Let the chocolate set in the fridge.
  16. Enjoy!

(Recipe adapted from bbcgoodfood.com)

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Mince Pie Ice Cream

Happy December, everyone – the countdown to Christmas begins! 😀 I can’t believe how fast this year has whizzed by, as it didn’t feel that long ago when I was stuffing myself with mince pies in the name of “research” (you can read my comprehensive review here).

It’s been a crazy year of trying new things and challenging myself, but some things never change… like my love for mince pies 😛 I thought it’d only make sense, since this is originally started as an ice cream blog, to combine two of my favourite treats.

 

Directions

  1. Make the vanilla ice cream base using your preferred recipe – I like this one from bbcgoodfood, although have adjusted for sweetness.
  2. As the custard base is cooling, prepare the mince pie elements.
  3. Take 3 mince pies of your choice (I used Sainsbury’s Deep-Filled ones) and remove the pastry top.
  4. Spoon out the mincemeat filling and mix into the custard base.
  5. Bake the now-empty pastry cases until they are lightly crisp (approx. 5 minutes at fan 180°C). Break them into small pieces.
  6. Churn the ice cream base in your machine, and towards the end (mine takes around 20-25 minutes), sprinkle in the mince pie pastry pieces to add texture to the ice cream. Add as much or as little you like.
  7. Serve with a warm mince pie or on its own – enjoy!

I’m really pleased with how this ice cream turned out. The vanilla ice cream is spiced with the Christmas flavours of nutmeg, clove and cinnamon, and laced with sultanas, currants, candied citrus peel and sweet shortcrust pastry.

 

Thinking of doing some other Christmas ice cream flavours… let me know if you have any ideas! I had these amazing scoops from Gelupo in London – Christmas pudding and salted caramel & gingerbread. Absolutely divine.

Apple & Blackberry Loaf Cake

After a long, hot summer, cooler weather is finally upon us and I’m pretty relieved to be able to turn on the oven without fear of accidentally cooking ourselves in our apartment/furnace. No doubt I will be complaining about the bitter cold in the weeks to come, but for now I’m embracing the fall feels with this simple loaf cake 😀

I love that this recipe celebrates the end of summer with the last of the ripe, sweet blackberries, and the beginning of autumn with the crisp, tart apples. It’s a lovely bake that’s quick to whip together and can be kept in an airtight container for 2-3 days afterwards (if you have the self-control not to eat it all once it comes out the oven!).

This is another delicious loaf cake (see here for another autumn loaf and here for an indulgent dessert loaf) that I’ve added to my recipe book 😋 The apples keep the cake moist and lightly sweet. Feel free to add more spice if you prefer, and substitute the caster sugar with honey for a healthier bake!

Ingredients

  • 160 g butter, melted
  • 160 g golden caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 rounded tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • 225 g self-raising flour
  • 2 eating apples (I used Braeburn)
  • 70 g blackberries

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C / 140°C fan / 320°F.
  2. Line your loaf tin with parchment paper, and grease with butter (if needed).
  3. Beat together the melted butter and sugar, and add the eggs into the mixture one by one. Gently whisk until the mixture is pale and creamy.
  4. Add the Greek yoghurt and cinnamon.
  5. Sift the flour into the mixture and fold together.
  6. Chop the apples into small pieces (0.5cm cubes) and combine with the batter.
  7. Pour one-third of the batter into the loaf tin and dot with half the blackberries. Repeat with another third of the batter and the remaining blackberries before filling up the loaf tin.
  8. Smooth out the top of the mixture.
  9. If you wish, make a crumble topping using cold butter, flour, cinnamon and demerara sugar and sprinkle over the top of the loaf.
  10. Bake for 1 hour 5 mins at 160°C / 140°C fan / 320°F. For the remaining 15 mins, increase the temperature to 180°C / 160°C fan / 350°F.
  11. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
  12. Enjoy!

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Remeo Gelato: A Taste of Italy in London

I felt like I just won the jackpot when Remeo messaged me to say that I’d won five jars of their gelato in flavours of my choosing! While I’ve seen their gelato sold in shops (found in Waitrose, Ocado, Whole Foods) before, I’ve never tried them so this was a great chance to try out their flavours. They also have sorbets (mango and lemon) which I’m definitely going to try at some point in the future.

I was impressed with the quality of the packaging and the fact that you can reuse the jars! Hope Remeo won’t mind when I end up storing my homemade ice cream in them 😜

A big thank you to Remeo for choosing me as the winner – here are my thoughts on their gelatos…

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No.1 Caffe Espresso

Although I don’t drink coffee that much, I love the smell of freshly ground coffee beans and that same earthy aroma greeted me when I opened this jar of gelato.

I really liked the lovely balanced coffee flavour of this gelato, which apparently is made with 26% liquid espresso – it wasn’t too sweet and had just the right amount of bitterness.

The gelato itself was very smooth, although I slightly struggled to scoop it (even after leaving it outside the freezer for a couple of minutes).

Overall: 7/8 scoops

No.2 Vaniglia del Madagascar

This gelato had a very light vanilla flavour, tasting more like milk than vanilla, and was a bit too sweet for my liking. I personally prefer a creamier ice cream with a stronger vanilla flavour, but Remeo’s version is still delicious served with fresh summer berries!

Overall: 6/8 scoops

No.3 Dark Chocolate 72%

Chocolate desserts are my absolute favourite and this dark chocolate gelato didn’t disappoint 😃 Made with 72% dark chocolate, the gelato tasted incredibly velvety and rich.

Dark chocolate can be tricky to work with in ice creams and sorbets as sometimes end up leaving a slightly gritty texture or acidic aftertaste, but there were none of these issues in Remeo’s gelato!

Overall: 7/8 scoops

No.5 Pistacchio Siciliano

Another wonderfully smooth gelato with a delicate and nutty flavour. I’ve tried making pistachio in the past and it’s tough to get the balance of the nuttiness and creaminess right – like their vanilla gelato, Remeo keeps the flavours quite subtle but I think it works nicely for this pistachio gelato.

Overall: 6.5/8 scoops

No.6 Stracciatella di Bergamo

This beautiful gelato had a subtle and balanced milk flavour which wasn’t too overpowering. I loved the generous amount of chocolate shavings which wasn’t too sweet nor too bitter. The chocolate shards added a really satisfying crunchy texture to an otherwise very smooth and creamy gelato.

The gelato melted quite quickly, but this wasn’t a major issue as we scoffed down our scoops even faster! This was our favourite flavour and the first jar to be finished – would highly recommend this flavour to all gelato-lovers 😋

Overall: 8/8 scoops

Many thanks again to Remeo for supplying me with these delicious treats at the peak of the British heatwave. Really authentic Italian gelato (and as good as the scoops I’ve had in Rome, Florence and Venice), so I definitely recommend trying some of their flavours!

Raspberry Jam Muffins

Summer is finally here! I’m so excited for lazy weekends in the park and on the beach, easy excuses to eat ice cream all the time, sweet fresh berries… 😀

But before it gets too hot in my flat, I thought I’d do some light summer baking and these fluffy raspberry jam muffins were perfect! These are great for breakfast or as a snack – they are surprisingly addictive, especially when warm, so try not to eat all of them in one go (as I almost did!).

Ingredients (makes 14 small muffins)

  • 140 g golden caster sugar
  • 200 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100 ml natural yogurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 140 g butter, melted
  • 14 tsp seedless raspberry jam

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C / 170°C fan / 375°F.
  2. Line your cupcake/muffin tin with paper cases.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients (sugar, flour, bicarb) together.
  4. Lightly whisk the eggs, and mix with the yogurt and vanilla.
  5. Pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and add in the melted butter.
  6. Gently fold everything together.
  7. Fill each muffin case halfway with batter, add a tsp of raspberry jam and top up with more batter.
  8. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.
  9. Leave to cool and enjoy!

(Recipe adapted from bbcgoodfood.com)

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Molten Dark Chocolate Cakes

One of my favourite desserts growing up was the lava cake. It always fascinated me how one dessert could be solid on the outside but warm and gooey on the inside 😍 Having only eaten this dessert at restaurants or bought from shops, I just assumed that it would be too hard to make… until I actually searches up the recipe!

The recipe for this cake is actually really simple – the important part is getting the timing right when the pud is in the oven.

Ingredients (makes 2)

  • 40 g dark chocolate
  • 40 g milk chocolate
  • 75 g unsalted butter, and extra for greasing
  • 42 g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • Cocoa powder, for dusting
  • Mixed berries, to serve
  • Ice cream, to top

Directions

  1. Prepare the ramekins. Generously brush the ramekins with melted butter and chill in the fridge / freezer. Repeat this step again so that there are two layers of chilled butter coating the ramekins. Finally, dust the inside of each ramekin with cocoa powder.
  2. In a large bowl over gently simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water though!), melt together the chocolate, butter and sugar.
  3. Whisk the eggs for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Gently incorporate the eggs into the chocolate mixture.
  5. Fold in the flour.
  6. Divide the batter between the ramekins.
  7. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 mins, preferably longer. You can freeze the cakes at this stage if not cooking them immediately.
  8. Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180°C fan / 390°F.
  9. Bake the cakes for 10-12 minutes, until the top appears to be just cooked. I would check the cakes at 10 mins and put it back in the oven for 1 minute, before checking again to see if they are ready.
  10. If cooking from frozen, add on 5 minutes to the baking time.
  11. Let the cakes cool for 3 minutes.
  12. To release the cakes, place a plate over the top of the ramekin, turn it over and gently lift up the ramekin. Use oven mitts or a tea towel as the ramekins will be hot!
  13. Serve immediately with a scoop of ice cream, mixed berries, or just a dusting of icing sugar.
  14. Enjoy!

(Recipe adapted from BBC Food)

It may take a few goes to get the cake just right, as ovens will always vary slightly. But let me tell you it is so satisfying when you do get it perfect and the rich chocolate flows out.

I’m planning to try some other flavour combinations for this classic lava cake – matcha & white chocolate, or salted caramel? Let me know your suggestions in the comments!

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Hot Cross Buns x French Toast

Happy Easter all! Long four-day weekends call for lie-ins and brunch 😀 Here’s a delightfully quick recipe you can whip up with ingredients you’ll probably already have lying around, and it transforms your average hot cross bun into something incredible.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 hot cross buns
  • 2 eggs
  • 50 ml milk
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 80 g frozen berries (I used raspberries, blackberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Icing sugar
  • Maple syrup

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180°C fan / 390°F.
  2. Lightly whisk together the eggs, milk and a pinch of cinnamon.
  3. Cut a pocket into the side of each hot cross bun, and stuff with a handful of frozen berries. Don’t go overboard otherwise the berries will leak out!
  4. Dip the buns into the eggy mixture and allow to soak.
  5. Melt butter in a frying pan on a medium heat.
  6. Fry the buns for 1 minute on each side, or until each side is golden brown.
  7. Pop the buns into the oven for 8-10 minutes until it is heated throughout.
  8. Serve with generous lashings of maple syrup, more berries and other toppings of your choice.

(Recipe adapted from Sainsbury’s)

Chocolate & Banana Loaf Cake

Happy February! It’s been extra cold, wet and windy this past weekend in London and this recipe was the perfect remedy! I love banana bread in its original form (is it called a bread to hide the fact that it is a deliciously buttery and perhaps not-so-healthy cake?) but adding chocolate makes this bake absolutely divine.

If we’re being honest, this is just a chocolate cake that’s super rich and kept moist and sweetened by the bananas. Again, like most loaf cakes, this is a simple recipe that gives an incredible result.

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Ingredients

  • 175 g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 125 g caster sugar
  • 125 g unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 medium ripe bananas
  • 3 large eggs, 2 separated
  • 50 ml milk
  • 100 g milk chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to to 160°C / 140°C fan / 325°F.
  2. Line your loaf tin with parchment paper.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarb, cocoa powder and add in the caster sugar. Mix well.
  4. Mash the bananas to a lumpy pulp using a fork.
  5. Combine the mashed bananas with the melted butter and eggs.
  6. Gently whisk the wet mixture so that the ingredients are well-incorporated.
  7. Fold together the wet and dry mixtures. Add in the chocolate chips.
  8. Scrape the cake batter into the loaf tin.
  9. Bake for approx. 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  10. Enjoy!

(Recipe adapted from bbcgoodfood.com)