Posts tagged caramel

Speedy (Health Conscious) Millionaire Shortbread


‘ll start by warning (yes warning) you that this recipe should not be compared to the decadence of the traditional millionaires shortbread. Firstly is the reduciton in indulgence ingredients, mainly butter and sugar, that I love so very much and praise. However, if you have a craving for this dangerous treat, but also want to balance this guilty indulgence with some form – even if tiny – of health awareness then its a good one. That said, it really is a speedy way to make your own version! The traditional version takes time – baking the shortbread base, making the caramel and then applying the chocolate. This, can be done in an hour!

If you do want to make a recommended amendment if time isn’t your’e enemy here, I think this recipe could be equally as good as the real thing just by changing the base for a traditional baked shortbread. Use 50g caster sugar, 125g unsalted butter and 150g plain flour – example recipe here. I personally think the date caramel is far tastier than the normal boiled sugar version! Firstly, its less rich so you can eat more of it…and secondly its natural sugar. Yes, still sugar but its far healthier.

(Based on a recipe by ‘The Plant-Based Londoner’)


  • 90g oats
  • 130g nut of choice (cashew, brazil, almond)
  • 1 tbsp lacuma powder (optional)
  • 6 tbsp of nut butter of choice (try substituting in some coconut oil. Note, it will dominate the flavours)

Caramel & Topping

  • 300g pitted dates
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g dark chocolate
  1. Start on the base. Pulse the flour, lacuna powder, nuts and nut butter in a food processor until you have a soft dough that holds together. If it needs to be more moist add a little more nut butter. Tip out into a lined baking tray (line with parchment, foil or cling film) big enough so that the mixture is about 1 cm deep. It doesn’t matter what dish you use, just use one that is a suitable size.(20cm x 20xm recommended) Cover and chill in the fridge.
  2. Next, pulse the dates, sea salt, cinnamon and vanilla in the food processor. Add a splash of water and keep adding until you get a smooth but thick date caramel.
  3. Spread this caramel evenly over the chilled base and then cover and chill again.
  4. Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt in a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water until fully melted.
  5. Tip the chocolate over the chilling date layer and smooth out until even and completely covering the caramel.
  6. Cover again and chill until the chocolate has set hard.
  7. Once hard, tip the bar out onto a chopping board and cut into the desired square/rectangle. Please note – the top layer WILL crack where unwanted and not every piece will look perfect, if any. The 3 in the image I have are the only ones that did not misbehave. But the look isn’t everything so cut randomly into chunky morsels. Its more tasty that way.


Gingerbread Latte Ice Cream, Salted Pistachio Brittle


Its Easter, a foodie occasion so I cannot forgo a dessert menu without this icey sweet delight. Coffee is such a crowd pleasing and moresih dessert flavour (if you’re a caffeine lover) as it naturally tops off a dinner and satisfies those bitter fans and the sweet toothed. From tiramisu to coffee cake I love it. But in ice cream….well need I say more. With the subtleyly of the ginger and cinnamon it makes for a ironically warming flavour in this cooling ice cream. Acoompanied with a warm lava centred chocolate fondant it was the perfect finale to Easter lunch.

Ice Cream (Serves 6 modestly)

  • 300ml single cream
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 2 tbsp coffee granules
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Heat the cream until just coming up to the boil. Add the coffee and spices and whisk until all combined off the heat.
  2. Leave to cool.
  3. Whisk in the condensed milk until thoroughly combined and transfer to a container or tupperware to store int he freezer.
  4. Freeze until set! You can remove it from the freezer about 5 minutes before serving to make it easier to serve.

Salted Pistachio Brittle

Very general measurements and method here! If in doubt use a sugar thermometer.

  • 200g caster sugar
  • 160g roughly of golden syrup
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 60g pisatchios, crushed
  • 1 tsp malden salt
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  1. Line a baking tray with non stick parchment (grease with oil if you want)
  2. Crush the nuts and mix with the salt and set aside.
  3. Mix the sugar, syrup and water in a pan. Heat on a medium high heat but do not be tempted to stir. Allow it to melt and begin to caramelise and bubble. Leave for 5-10 minutes or so bubbling away until the syrup beings to turn golden. Watch very closely here as you don’t want it to catch and burn or turn too dark. When a golden brown colour add the butter and remove from the heat and quickly pour onto the baking tray.
  4. Immediately scatter over the salty nuts evenly and leave to set. It will harden quickly, within 10 minutes! Once poured out and still soft though you can move the tray around to make it thinner if required by tilting.
  5. Once set, peel from the parchment and break carefully into shards for each guest

Toscakaka – Caramel Almond Cake



Aside from the fact that this cake tastes undeniably devine, one of the things I like about it the most is the subtle way you can pick off the sticky caramel almonds from the top when no one is looking with fairly unnoticeable consequences. Its not the done thing to swipe a greedy finger through the icing on a cake but you can get away with it here. Be warned, once you start you may end up with a topless and naked sponge cake and some unimpressed guests. If there was ever an award for moreish-ness (excuse the made up word) this cake would triump.

Its a super light sponge base which I decided to spike with cinnamon and vanilla, basted and topped with a crunchy caramel almond praline which is left to set and encase the pillowey cake. This recipe is from ‘Scandilicious Baking’ and is therefore (I’m told) a classic Scandi treat which quite frankly just makes me want to visit the region even more. I took the recipes advice and added a tsp of coffee to the praline topping which adds a really deep and intense flavour.

Serves 10-12


  • 150g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
  • 150g plain flour
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp fine salt
  • 75g melted butter
  • 75ml buttermilk (or add a tsp of lemon juice added to normal milk)

Praline topping

  • 150g flaked almonds
  • 125g soft light brown muscovado sugar
  • 125g butter
  • 50ml milk
  • Pinch fine salt
  • 1 tsp instant coffee
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C and line a loose bottomed tin (8cm of so wide) with parchement. If making your buttermilk add the lemon juice to the milk now and set aside for a few minutes.
  2. Whisk the eggs, vanilla and caster sugar on a high speed for at least 5 minutes until really thick and creamy to get in as much air as possible. It really will pay to do this for a good length of time.
  3. Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Sieve over half this dry mixture into the eggs and extremely gently using a metal spoon fold in making sure retain the air.
  4. Add half the buttermilk and fold in. Add the remaining flour, fold in and finally the rest of the buttermilk.
  5. Finally fold in the melted butter.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden and set. It is important it is set so that it doesn’t collapse when you coat it in praline!
  7. While that bakes, toast the almonds in a dry frying pan or hot oven for a few minutes until golden and fragrant.
  8. Add to a saucepan with the butter, sugar, milk, salt and coffee.
  9. Heat until all melted together and then bubble for a few minutes until thick.
  10. When the cake is ready remove from the oven and increase the heat to 200°C. Pour the praline over the cake, smooth out and bake for 8-10 minutes at this higher temperature until the top is golden and gooey.
  11. Leave to cool before cutting to allow the caramel to set and encase the cake.

This can be enjoyed on its own or with healthy lashings of custard


Portuguese Cinnamon Tarts with Lavender Caramel



These have been adapted from Jamie Oliver’s interpretation of the Portuguese custard tart or- ‘Pastel de nata’. It seemed like a good way of using up a slab of puff pastry and an egg whilst keeping my mind sane and grounded during all this revision…

  • ½ block puff pastry (about 250g ish)
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 120g creme fraiche
  • Zest of 1/2  lemon
  • 5 tbsp caster sugar
  • Seeds from ½ vanilla pod/ a splash of vanilla extract
  • Small pinch of lavender flowers
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Roll out the pastry into a rectangle, about 1 pound coin thickness and about 25cm long. Scatter with the cinnamon and roll into a swiss roll shape down the long side.
  2. Cut into 6 rounds (they should look like uncooked danish pastries) and then liberally press each into a a non-stick or greased muffin tin pushing the pastry down in the middle and up the sides, squashing it to mould it into the tin. Bake for about 10 minutes until just going golden. You may need to use the end of a rolling pin or something round to press the middle down if it puffs up while cooking.
  3. Make the filling by mixing the beaten egg, creme fraiche, 1tbsp of the caster sugar, lemon zest and vanilla in a bowl.
  4. When the pastry seems to have cooked enough pour in the filling and cook for another 10 minutes or so until set with a slight wobble. Remove from the oven and quickly make the caramel.
  5. Melt the meaning sugar in a dry frying pan until beginning to melt. As soon as it begins to turn golden and liquidy, remove from the heat, add a scatter of lavender flowers and then quickly pour or spoon generously over the top of the tarts before the caramel becomes to hard. Allow to cool and harden.


Pannacotta with salted caramel

This was everything you’d could want in a dinner party dessert for a special occasion such as New Years eve where this little treat made a welcome appearance. It’s creamy, sweet, satisfying and elegant and will fill that sweet spot when you think there is just no room left after, perhaps an evening full of decadent dinning and some good fizz. Naturally as the choice for the hidden surprise I had to add salted caramel due to my love of salt and its increasing popularity as the foodie trend of 2012! Served alongside some mini tartlets filled with hazelnut or ginger mascarpone topped with diced pear and shards of honeycomb, I think its safe to say these were crowd pleasers…..

Pannacotta (serves 6)

  • 250ml double cream
  • 250ml milk
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds removed
  • 2 ½ gelatine leaves
  • 50g caster sugar

Salted Caramel

  • 200ml single cream
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp runny honey
  • 2 tsp water
  • Large pinch of maldon salt
  1. Begin with the salted caramel. Place the cream in a saucepan and warm gently on a low heat.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the runny honey in another saucepan for a few minutes. Add the water and the caster sugar and allow to dissolve.
  3. Once dissolved, let it bubble for about 5 minutes and it will begin to turn golden. Watch it closely, giving it a swirl every so often.image
  4. Continue to bubble until golden and caramel coloured. Do not let it get too dark or it will begin to burn and taste bitter.
  5. Once it reaches the right golden colour (being VERY careful as it will splutter at you) stir in 1/3 of the warm cream and stir. Add the rest of the cream and stir, keeping it on the heat and bubbling for about 2 minutes until syrup-like and smooth.
  6. Remove from the heat and leave to cool (this can also be used for smothering over ice cream to heart attack inducing levels or to line a pastry case for a twist on banoffee pie. It also goes really well with salted peanuts, peanut butter or chocolate)image
  7. Now begin on the pannacotta. Soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for about 5 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, warm the cream, milk, sugar, vanilla seeds (pop the pod in as well) on a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring up to the near boil and then remove from the heat. Remove the vanilla pod.
  9. Squeeze the excess water from the softened gelatine leaves and whisk into the the hot cream until dissolved.
  10. Get your serving glasses or ramekins (glass works well as you can see the layers) and spoon about 2 tbsp of cooled salted caramel into each base. Top with the panncotta mixture, carefully to avoid it disturbing the lower layer but this is not a problem if you do.
  11. Place in the fridge and leave to set for a minimum of 3 hours


Mini sweet pastry tart cases filled with a hazelnut mascarpone and a ginger mascarpone cream, topped with diced pear and honeycomb…..

Almond, Pear and Amaretto Tart with Salted Caramel Ice Cream

A rich, buttery and almond flavoured frangipane is my most favourite way to fill a crisp, delicate pastry case. This tart is really versatile and the mixture can be topped with any seasonal fruit. Alternatively, you can grind other nuts such as walnuts or hazelnuts (see here) to give your frangipane an original twist. In the summer, I have a huge weak spot for this dessert, topped it with a scattering of the juicy, tart, and punchy blackcurrants from our allotment. However, with pears, apples of blackberries it is delicious too. Just watch that the fruit you add doesn’t have too much moisture which will ooze out and make the filling wetter. This recipe is Christmassy, wintery and extremely satisfying….A variation on this always makes an appearance at my dinner parties topped with some salted caramel ice cream in this case and a good shot of warming Amaretto……


  • 125g cold butter, cubed
  • 250g plain flour
  • Splash cold water

Frangipane filling

  • 200g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Splash of amaretto
  • 1-2 pears
  • 15g butter
  • 15g caster sugar
  • Handful of flaked almonds for decoration
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Begin by making the pastry. For the method, see here. Follow up to step 7.
  3. Next, peel, core and slice the pears into long chunky slices. Melt the 15g of butter in a frying pan until beginning to sizzle, then add the sugar and stir until melted. Add the pears and gently fry for a few minutes.
  4. Turn up the heat and add a splash of amaretto. Let this simmer away and reduce a little before removing from the heat and setting aside.
  5. Now begin with the filling. In a processor or by hand, cream the butter and sugar together until creamy and thoroughly mixed.
  6. Add the vanilla to the beaten egg. Add this, a bit at a time, to the creamed butter, and mix in until well combined (don’t worry if it curdles, it won’t matter)
  7. Now add the ground almonds, a splash of amaretto (optional) and mix
  8. Once your pastry case is cooked and cool, fill with the frangipane and smooth out into an even layer.
  9. Top with the pears in an attractive pattern and press them lightly into the mixture. Drizzle with some of the buttery, sugary, amaretto flavoured caramel from the frying pan. Scatter with the flaked almonds.
  10. Bake for about 30-45 minutes until the mixture is set and doesn’t wobble. Check it after about 30 minutes however, to make sure it isn’t browning too much (like mine unfortunately….) If so, cover with foil and continue to bake.
  11. Once cooked, remove from the oven. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I served mine with some salted caramel ice cream and a shot of Amaretto!


Caramel Ice Cream with Salted Almond Praline


With December now well and truly here, it must be accepted that the gastronomic season has arrived. This pleasingly warrants the excuse for overindulgent food with an extra special touch or time and care wrapped in a blanket of calories and tied up with vast amount of edible guilt. With a welcome invite to a house Christmas meal approaching, and the responsibility of bringing dessert, my creative mind went into a sugary coma. A need to supply my hosts with something to sooth their taste buds and thank them for their hospitality. So to go with my pear, almond and amaretto tart, my love of ice cream was sure to make a chilly appearance. However, with no ice cream maker in the limited freezer in my home away from home in Clifton, I opted for this cheats recipe which is always a great one to have on tap. It doesn’t require churning as it won’t crystalise when freezing and it gives a very rich and creamy texture. A can of condensed milk and some single cream never looked nicer….


  • 100g caster sugar
  • 20g flaked almonds
  • ½ tsp Maldon Sea Salt

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 300ml single cream
  1. Begin with the cheats ice cream base. Submerge a can of condensed milk in a pan of water on it side and bring to the boil. Simmer for 2 ½ hours making sure the water does not dry out and that it is covered (otherwise it could explode…worse things have happened)
  2. Meanwhile, make the praline. Begin by lightly oiling a piece of greaseproof paper.
  3. Now heat a dry frying pan and lightly toast the flaked almonds until tinged and fragrant. Scatter densely over the parchment.
  4. Now, scatter the caster sugar in a dry frying pan in an even, thin layer and turn up the heat.
  5. The sugar should begin to melt within a couple of minutes. Use a plastic spatula to mix in any non-melted areas and any lumps. All the sugar will melt and it will start to turn golden and liquid. Watching all the time as it can burn easily, continue to melt until light golden brown but not burnt!
  6. Quickly, using the spatula, tip the caramel over the almonds on the parchment and scatter quickly with the sea salt while still hot. Leave to cool until solid before breaking into shards.
  7. Once the condensed milk has been boiled it will have turned to caramel. Leave the can to cool before handling.
  8. Mix the cooled caramel with the single cream and beat with a whisk until well combined.
  9. Now, using either a food processor, a pestle and mortar or just a bag and a wooden spoon, coarsely crush your praline into chunks. I left some a bit more whole and some into a powder.
  10. Mix this evenly into the ice cream base and place in the freezer overnight. The praline pieces have a tendency to fall to the bottom so if you can be bothered, freeze half your cream mixture, then scatter over your praline and the remaining mixture and freeze again.
  11. Enjoy your ice cream with an added sprinkle of sea salt if required! I served mine with a pear, almond and amaretto tart.


PS. This cheats ice cream base is open to interpretation….adding coconut milk instead of cream sprinkling of lime zest is one of my favourites. However, add any other flavours you like. It is quite a soft texture anyway, so adding salt in this case, or alcohol which doesn’t freeze, will make it even softer so bear this in mind before going too heavy handed on the booze!