Blackberry and hazelnut friands

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A quick bake this morning, batch of Blackberry and hazelnut friands, adapting Nigel Slater’s recipe from Kitchen Diaries II (also here) a little. Boxed up and ready to take to the office, not that I normally take cakes to work but our office dog’s retiring, getting too old for the commute so I thought it’d be a nice treat (for the rest of us). Anyway, I used all the same ingredients but reduced sugar to 120g, used both ground and chopped hazelnuts (for a more interesting texture) and increased quantity to 120g and also used 12 large blackberries, one each per friand – this is around 100g and not 60 recommended by Slater. Really good and not too sweet. Very quick to make although I did have to rush to work so boxed them while they were still a bit warm. Good to eat in the morning too as not too sweet.

Espresso and dark chocolate ice cream

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It took some maneuvering to get the ice cream maker bowl to fit into the freezer (small and recently loaded up with ‘stuff’) but fit it in I did because I really fancied some home made ice cream this weekend. I don’t think I froze the bowl for long enough beforehand though because it was taking ages yesterday afternoon, the ice cream was not really chilling and, as we were watching The Master at the same time I was getting pretty frustrated that nothing was happening. Nothing in the kitchen and nothing on the screen. I gave up on the machine and just froze the ice cream hoping for the best and soon after I gave up on the film too and nodded off. When I woke up the film was still on and Beloved informed me that I’d missed very little. What a pointless waste of time (Joaquin Phoenix very good though).

The ice cream, though was well worth the effort, with a very intense and mildly bitter coffee flavour enhanced by good dark chocolate. This is a real treat for lovers of good coffee. Recipe came from Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries II although I reduced the amount of sugar by a third – think Nigel has a very sweet tooth although Beloved did say he would have liked a bit more sugar. For me, this was perfect but I would consider perhaps using a mix of dark and white or milk chocolate in future. Or perhaps not, it really is very good just as it is. Like a chocolatey affogato. Very good aftertaste too.

Chocolate muscovado banana cake

I seem to be baking with bananas quite a bit at the moment, there was the Banana and walnut bread and now this Chocolate muscovado banana cake from Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries II. Well, there were four rather blackened bananas in the fruit bowl so I thought better use them in something than throw them away. And, as it happens, this cake is totally worth leaving bananas out too long, it is rather lovely. Here’s the whole thing:IMG_0518I’ve been a fan of Nigel Slater’s recipes for years although I’ve learnt not to completely trust some of his ingredient quantities. For this cake, I reduced the quantity of muscovado sugar and also used up some old vanilla palm sugar I had. Combined with a teaspoon of vanilla essence, 100g of Valrhona and the pretty overripe bananas, this cake has a rich, intense, almost boozy flavour. Typically, I didn’t particularly fancy waiting for it to cool down so cut it, carefully, while still warm. Unfortunately the colourful look – with chopped chocolate and some bits of banana still visible, doesn’t quite translate in this photo since I used flash on iphone and then tried to soften and warm up the image somewhat.IMG_0517Have to admit, I did the photos in a rush as have quite a lot on at the moment – not satisfied with doing one pretty full on course, I’ve committed to doing another, not nearly as full on but I seem to be forever catching up now. At least all this study is not leaving me any time to be depressed about it still being winter.

Marmalade and chocolate ice cream

A lot of my childhood memories are about food, the sensation of eating new things or of particularly enjoying something, like the glorious moment of having Italian stracciatella ice cream for the first time. It’s a simple vanilla ice cream with shaved/chopped chocolate (not chocolate chip) and the sensation came back to me when I made this ice Marmalade and chocolate ice cream last week.

IMG_0509Total reversion back to childhood! At the same time, I haven’t used the ice cream maker in a really long time and I enjoyed making this immensely. Recipe came from Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries II. I only did it because I really wanted to make marmalade but thought I should use up old stuff first. I didn’t expect to revert to childhood, wasn’t even sure that I’d like the taste of this. Well, it’s fantastic. Nigel’s recipe uses single cream for custard, which is then cooled before adding marmalade and churning. Chopped/ shaved dark chocolate goes in just before the ice cream sets so that you get even distribution. This is quite creamy, luxurious and soft and freezes well.

I’d long wanted to replace my old cheap ice cream maker under excuses that it’s a chore having to freeze the bowl first, that the motor sometimes can’t be stopped and so on (excuses can go on forever) but have now realised that none of this matters. It works and can produce such wonderful treats as the Marmalade and chocolate ice cream. Am now thinking that I could easily use up my large stock of white chocolate (which I don’t even particularly like but overstocked on for a recipe) and combine with dried sour cherries or cranberries for a similar result. Ice cream really is such a fabulous thing and there’ll certainly be lots more of it home made from now on.

Chocolate hazelnut slice

I am not sure that the name of this cake quite does it justice, it’s more of an ‘extravaganza’ than a ‘slice’ but that’s what Nigel Slater named it in Kitchen Diaries II. I first saw the recipe in December issue of Observer Food Monthly and planned to make it over holidays but never got around to it. So I made it yesterday:IMG_0489 It’s a rather small cake that packs a bit of a punch with lots of chocolate, cocoa powder and hazelnut praline (ground up and mixed into the cake), then topped with Nutella buttercream icing and more hazelnut praline. Hence ‘extravaganza’ might be a better suited name. I have a feeling that the cake could have risen more but tastes good so am not complaining. Think this is quite a good cake for gloomy January, although not for those who spend this month abstaining from everything, which seems to be pretty much everyone I know (apart from me).

I was hoping to link to the recipe but can’t find it on Guardian website, which is a bit of a shame. I guess that’s because it was serialised from the book. Here’s a photo of the whole cake instead:IMG_0490Beloved thinks this is one of the best cakes ever and has no problems with the name – as it’s quite rich you can only eat a little slice at the time, he says.