Posts tagged vanilla

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.


Date & Himalayan Pink Salt Truffles


ts safe to say I’ve been provided with my fair share of artisan chocolate samples for blog experiments. From Green & Blacks to Doble & Bignall the ampersand seems to be a common (and successful) theme here (If we forget the Loving Earth samples. Dairy free, doesn’t count). That said, next in the greedy queue naturally seemed (drum roll)…Doisy & Dam. A superfood chocolate they say! Quickly discovered to be due to the ingredients added and not the output of its consumption. Sadly. So when D&D approached ‘forage in the pantry.’ with a teasing package of goodies to sample I was keen to take up the challenge of a new creation!

Doisy & Dam are indeed just that. Teasing. A mixture of naughty and nice. Chocolate and superfood ingredients creating delicious bars of solid and artisan chocolate. I think the first thing I said on trying these samples was ‘Wow, the textures are great!’ and it wasn’t until researching their background that I discovered their claim for ‘irresistable texture’. They’ve nailed it. Take the ‘Cocao Nib & Vanilla’ bar which is my favourite so far. The cocao not only adds a lovely crunch and texture but a subtle unassuming bitterness to the what is after all a dairy milk bar. Their chocolates are said to never be made with more than eight ingredients (minimum 8% superfoods and have a high cocoa content to squeeze out the room for sugar and fat). Whilst I’m a true 90-99% gal, this comment I can casually breeze over but quite rightly. The flavour is worth it.

So, down to the recipe. The best way to really taste the true flavour of a chocolate (besides sampling fresh from the packet in slab form) is to make something pure. Pure flavours, nowhere to hide. Truffles? Forget chocolate fondants and mousses, truffles really do not hide bad quality. Now I normally lean towards dark chocolate truffles. They are more stable at room temp and have a better flavour and quality.  Whilst my goodie bag contained a mixture of dark and milk, I couldn’t help being drawn towards the ‘Date & Himalayan Salt’ edition and that I did.

A healthy indigence as D&D would say….thats wiped out here sadly with the cream addition…


s I’ve mentioned I wanted to keep these super simple so they are plainly tossed in cocoa. However for a twist try adding an extra ingredient/texture to the mixture before pouring into the container (e.g. chopped nuts, diced ginger, more cocoa nibs, more salt, coconut…). Equally you can roll the finished truffles in this ingredients of choice instead and forgo the cocoa powder.


  1. Heat the cream in a saucepan until just below the simmer.
  2. Break up the chocolate and stir into the warm cream off the heat. Stir until fully melted and combined.
  3. Line a shallow bowl or tupperware with cling film. Pour the mixture into the dish. It should be about 2cm in thickness but this is optional. Allow to cool, cover and refrigerate.
  4. Once set, place in the freezer for about 1 hour or until hardened. This just makes it easier to cut.
  5. Get a large mixing bowl and add a few tbsp of cocoa powder
  6. Turn out onto a chopping board and cut into pieces (size optional). Mix in the cocoa powder and then store in the fridge in a container.


Rum Roasted Pineapple, Coconut Ice Cream, Mint Sugar


‘m not a dessert person or a sweet tooth, unless it comes to ice cream. And this so happens to be my favourite ice cream recipe! Don’t get me wrong I love making desserts. Planning them, creating them and being able to execute a beautiful creation but I usually never eat them. So with guests for supper this weekend, a fuss free dessert was required. With a fatty hearty main on the cards, a fresh and citrus cleansing after was the perfect match. You can take more time over this as I mention below (see notes) by adding some grated coconut to the ice cream, grilling the pineapple towards the end, caramelising with a blow torch or wonderfully charring on the barbeque but fuss free was the aim here.

I made the ice cream in 5 minutes at breakfast and it was ready and set by dinner time and is just as impressive as a classic recipe. The pineapple is sweet and deliciously roasted and with a depth of flavour from the rum that makes this more than a fruit salad finish to a meal. Sometimes the simple ones are the best and this is no doubt a powerful but humble choice.

Serves 6 


  • 1 large pineapple
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 2 tbsp dark rum
  • 2 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 6 tsp butter

Coconut Ice Cream

  • 400ml full fat coconut milk
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • Zest 1 lime
  • 1 fresh coconut, grated/ 150g toasted desiccated coconut (optional)

Mint sugar

  • Bunch mint leaves picked
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  1. Start on the ice cream. If you’re after a super fast recipe, simply combine the condensed milk, coconut milk and lime zest, whisk to combine then place in a tupperware in the freezer (untouched) for at least 8 hours. For added flavour though you can add in the grated flesh of one fresh coconut or the desiccated coconut but if you’ve ever tried to grate a fresh coconut you’ll know it takes some commitment…
  2. Preheat the oven to 190°C.. Warm the rum gently in a pan and then add the sugar and the seeds of the vanilla pod. Stir to combine.
  3. Top and tail the pineapple and remove the rind. Cut in half lengthways and then cut each half into thirds. Remove the hard centre segment and then place the slices in a large bowl.
  4. Spoon over the rum mixture and let it sit for about 10 minutes.
  5. Line a baking tray and spoon the marinading pineapple onto the tray evenly with any of the leftover rum marinade. Place a tsp of butter on top of each and roast for about 30 minutes until tender. You can stick them under the grill for the final few minutes to char them slightly if you like but again, the aim here is fuss free!Jess - Pineapple
  6. Once ready remove from the oven and set aside. Bash the sugar and mint in a pestle and mortar until crushed and vibrant green
  7. Top each slice of pineapple with a little mint sugar and serve warm alongside a creamy scoop of your coconut ice cream


NOTE: There are certainly ways to ‘glam’ this up. Grill the pineapple once cooked for a caramelised effect, scorch with a blowtorch for the same effect or beautifully grilled on the barbecue. Add the fresh coconut to the ice cream as mentioned or make a lovely heard of sesame praline (melt caster sugar until golden, add sesame seeds and turn out onto an oiled sheet of parchment). Shortbread would also never go unwanted here.
Jess - Pineapple3

Cranachan Ice Cream


o we all know I’m partial to ice cream. However I am not a desserts kind of girl in general. That being said I honestly feel like most desserts can be bettered in ice cream version!? Take my apple crumble ice cream or my carrot cake inventions for example. So with a Burn’s night supper party on the horizon I figured it was time to plan a traditional menu. But with the thought of the a creamy glass of cranachan to polish off a tasty haggis I was having none of it. Ice cream it was.

Serve topped with your honey ‘granola’ and a neat shot of whiskey to warm the cooling ice cream.

Serves about 6

  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 300ml single cream
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scrapped
  • Splash whiskey (optional)
  • 250g frozen or fresh strawberries/raspberries (or a mixture)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 150g oats
  • 50g flaked almonds
  • 4 tbsp runny honey
  • Knob butter
  • Whiskey and extra honey to serve
  1. If using fresh strawberries, cut into quarters. Place the fruit in bowl and sprinkle with the caster sugar and set aside for 5 minutes.
  2. Whisk the condensed milk, cream, whiskey and vanilla seeds in a jug and pour into a tupperware container.
  3. Fold in the fruit, place a lid on the box and freeze.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180.
  5. Mix the almonds and oats in a bowl.
  6. Melt the honey and butter and pour over the oats and combine well until thoroughly covered.
  7. Spread out on a lined baking tray in a thin layer and toast in the oven for 15minutes, turning twice duinrg cooking.
  8. Leave to cool completely and crisp up.
  9. To serve, spoon generous helpings of ice cream into a bowl, scatter with the toasted oats and drizzle over and extra honey. Serve with a neat shot of whiskey!


Amaretto Pannacotta, Rose Rhubarb, Pistachio Shortbread


A beautiful, delicious, creamy, soothing, sweet and flavoursome dessert to top off a wonderful Mother’s Day supper. My mother personified in a pleasing dessert. Elegant, beautiful and who doesn’t love a creamy vanilla speckled pannacotta? Obviously with a splash of booze as it was only fitting and with the simplest quirky touch of rose for added originality. And as one of my mums favourite puddings it was always on the menu. With shortbread of course. I think I’d have been hung and gutted if I hadn’t made any if I’m honest. Even if we were having pancakes! You can totally adapt this recipe too adding different liquors and roasting different fruits. Adding different nuts and flavours to your biscuits too. Try frangelico pannacotta, hazelnut shortbread and cinnamon honey roasted figs.


Serves 6

Amaretto Pannacotta

  • 500ml double cream
  • 125ml milk
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 2 tbsp amaretto liqueur (or another if preferred, e.g. Frangelico?)
  • 3 leaves/sheets gelatine
  1. Find yourself either 6 pannacotta moulds (This is if you want to turn these out onto a plate to eat. It is up to you. I prefer the less hassle and neater presentation approach to serving these in glasses) or 6 glasses of choice to serve you pannacotta in and place on tray.
  2. Heat the double cream, milk, sugar and cinnamon stick in a saucepan over a medium heat to dissolve the sugar and infuse the cinnamon.
  3. Scrape the vanilla seeds from the pod and whisk into the heating cream. Add the pod too and bring to just under a simmer.
  4. Remove from the what and leave to infuse for 20 minutes or so.
  5. Soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water meanwhile.
  6. Sieve or pick out the cinnamon stick and the vanilla pod and discard. Bring the pan back onto the heat and warm through.
  7. Squeeze out the gelatine leaves and then whisk into the warm cream.
  8. Transfer the mixture to a good reliable pouring jug and divide the mixture between the glasses. (TIP: Measure the mixture first and then divide this by 6 so that you end up with 6 even glasses. It is also worth whisking the mixture between pouring so you don’t end up with all the tasty black and precious vanilla seeds at the bottom of the jug!)
  9. Carefully place the tray in the fridge and leave to set. Ideally make these in the morning for use for dinner.
  10. Bring to room temperature for about 5 minutes before serving. Turn out any that are in pannacotta moulds. Serve with the warm rhubarb compote on top.

Rose Roasted Rhubarb

  • 500g pink forced Spring Rhubarb
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • ¾ tsp rosewater
  • 1 tbsp rose petals
  • Handful pistachio nuts, crushed
  1. Preheat the oven to about 160°C.
  2. Cut your rhubarb into 2inch chunks on the diagonal.
  3. Place in a baking dish and drizzle with the honey. Add the rosewater and mix.
  4. Cover with foil and roast for about 30 minutes until its soft. remove the foil and return to the oven for about 10 more minutes or so.
  5. Serve warm on top of the chilled pannacotta, scattered with a few rose petals and some crushed pistachio nuts.

Pistachio Shortbread

  • 125g cold, cubed butter
  • 175g plain flour
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 40g pistachios
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 and line a baking tray with parchment
  2. In a food processor, combine the butter, flour and 50g of sugar and blend until it begins to clump and form a dough
  3. Next in a pestle and mortar pound the nuts coarsely until you form small pieces.
  4. Add half to the dough and pulse again briefly in the processor to diffuse.
  5. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and use your hands to bring to a ball of dough.
  6. Halve the dough to make it easier to work with as you can now deal with it in two batches. Roll to the thickness of a pound coin and then use a cutter of choice to make your shortbread before placing on the baking tray.
  7. Combine the remaining pounded nuts with the 10g of sugar and scatter liberally over the biscuits.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes until just beginning to turn a light golden brown.
  9. Leave to cool before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

To serve: Serve the pannacotta slightly chilled (remove from the fridge for about 5 minute before serving) topped with the warm rhubarb and a side order of buttery shortbread


Chestnut Butter


Another little experiment with some free and slyly foraged chestnuts got underway last week. ‘Bonne Mamma’ currently do a chestnut spread but I’m never one to buy when I can make it at home with a little TLC. I’m keen on making nut butters, particularly my pumpkin seed butter which is now a delicious staple in my fridge.

The fresh vanilla seeds make this and are delicious so don’t scrimp on buying a few willing pods for your pantry.

NOTE: For tips on cooking chestnuts, see here

Makes 1 jar

  • About 250g cooked, peeled chestnuts.
  • 90ml honey
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds removed
  • Pinch salt
  • Water to loosen
  1. Place all in a food processor and blend until smooth, adding water towards the end to thin to your liking.
  2. Store in sterilised, sealed jars and keep in the fridge.

Delicious slathered by the trowel-full on toasted sourdough or soda bread or inside the warm arms of a buttery croissant!


Gooey Cinnamon Cake Bites


If you haven’t already checked out the ’smitten kitchen’ food blog then do. Not only is it one of the first blogs that I was introduced to but it is a prime example of a fantastically interesting, honest, varied and drool-worthy food blog created by a passionate foodie who cooks from the heart simply because, like me, she is addicted- cooking is my happy place. However, more so, she has been one of the lucky ducks to get her humble blog made into a cook book. I can only dream of this priceless achievement! However, this is not going to happen by cooking other peoples recipes but the sound of cinnamon (one of my favourite flavours), gooey promises and the multiple times I had clicked on the recipe link only to mutter ‘I must make that’, prompted this recent cake-tin-filler. Here is the original recipe for those interested.


  • 190g plain flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 115g butter, room temp
  • 150g sugar
  • 1 egg, room temp
  • 60 ml whole milk
  • ¼ tsp salt

Gooey Top

  • 60ml golden syrup
  • 60ml whole milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 170g butter, room temp
  • 225g sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 egg, room temp
  • 155g plain flour

Cinnamon Crust

  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Start by lining a 9inch x 13inch cake tin with parchment. This may seem big but it is a flatish style cake/cake bar. Preheat the oven to 180.
  2. Start with the base by blending the butter and sugar in a processor or with an electric whisk until fluffy. Add the salt.
  3. Combine the egg and milk and mix into the butter and sugar until combined. Finally sieve in the flour and baking powder and stir to form a thick batter.
  4. Spoon it into blobs into the lined tin and spread out evenly and thinly with a spatula
  5. Now for the gooey layer, beat the butter and sugar together (no need to wash the processor) with the salt until fluffy. Add the egg.
  6. Combine the syrup, vanilla and milk.
  7. Sieve in 1/3 of the flour followed by half the syrup-milk mix. Add another 1/3 of the flour and then the final half of the syrup. Finally mix int he final 1/3 of flour and blend until smooth and delectable.
  8. Scrap large spoonfuls of the batter on top of the base and spread out evenly with a spatula until flat.
  9. Combine the sugar and cinnamon for the topping and scatter generously over the top to form a crusty cinnamon coat
  10. Bake for 25 minutes. It should feel slightly soft but gently et in the centre. Remove from the oven and leave totally alone to cool before removing from the pan.
  11. Cut into bite size pieces if you like.


Rhubarb Bakewell Tart



With a bunch of prematurely picked rhubarb from the allotment aging ungracefully in the fridge this week I decided to experiment and make an ever favourite classic- the bakewell tart- with a rhubarb ‘jam’ instead of your traditional cherry or raspberry. Devine…

Note: For a more subtle flavour if you’re not an almond addict, feel free to leave out the extract.

Serves 8 (generously)


  • 175g plain flour
  • 75g chilled unsalted butter
  • Cold water

Rhubarb Filling

  • 350g rhubarb
  • 1-2 tbsp caster sugar
  • ½ lemon juice
  • Vanilla extract

Frangipane Filling

  • 110g unsalted butter
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 110g ground almonds
  • 25g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • ½ lemon, zest
  • Handful flaked almond
  • 70g icing sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C and grease and line a 20cm tart tin. Start with the pastry and rub the butter into the flour until you have breadcrumbs. Add a few tablespoons of cold water or enough to bring it into a smooth dough. Roll out thinly and line the tart tin. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the rhubarb filling. Chop the rhubarb into pieces and place in a saucepan with the sugar, lemon juice and vanilla. Heat and simmer gently until broken down and ‘jammy’. Set aside
  3. Line the pastry case with parchment and baking beans and bake blind for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden. Remove the baking bean and return to the oven for 5 more minutes or so until the base is also lightly golden.
  4. Make the frangipane topping. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in the eggs and almond extract followed by the almonds, flour, baking powder and lemon zest and mix until fully combined.
  5. Spread the rhubarb ‘jam’ evenly over the base of the pre-cooked case and top with the frangipane almond paste and smooth evenly, covering all the rhubarb. Scatter oven the flaked almonds and bake for 30-40 minutes until cooked and golden (cover with foil if it starts to colour before it is ready)
  6. Mix the sieved icing sugar with a few splashes of cold water until you form a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag and, once the tart is cool, drizzle over!


Butternut Muffins



These little muffins are courtesy of Jamie Oliver from his ‘Jamie at Home’ cookbook. The book is one of my favourites and will always be sentimental to me as it was the first cookbook I ever received on my journey to foodie obsessive. I am always making the delicious recipes from the squash chapter and hadn’t made these in a while. I’d forgotten how deliciously moist they are, just like a quirky take on a carrot cake. With a dad who hates the addition of butternut squash in ANYTHING, a little white lie that these were in fact carrot cake muffins didn’t even muster a thimble of doubt…..

Makes 12

  • 400g butternut squash, roughly chopped
  • 350g light brown soft sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 300g plain flour
  • 2 heaped tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 handful walnuts
  • 175ml olive oil
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • ½ lemon, juice
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
  • Lavender to garnish (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Add the butternut squash to a food processor and roughly chop.
  3. Add the eggs and sugar and a pinch of salt and blitz
  4. Sieve in the flour, cinnamon and baking powder followed by the oil and process to combine
  5. Add the walnuts and pulse to mix to make sure the nuts are kept chunky
  6. Generously fill the muffin cases with the mixture and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until cooked. Leave to cool
  7. Meanwhile, mix the cream cheese, icing sugar, lemon juice, a pinch of cinnamon and the seeds from the vanilla pod. Fill a piping bag with the mixture and chill until needed.
  8. When the cakes are cool ice with the cream cheese topping and scatter with a few lavender flowers.


Apricot and Vanilla Pannacotta with Rosemary Shortbread


There’s something about using herbs like thyme and rosemary in sweet desserts which I always think feels really sophisticated. Getting the right balance is essential as an overpowering flavour such as rosemary, while forgivable with lamb, will not be so delicious if overused in a dessert. It goes so well with the sweet, juicy plump apricots here and I created this recipe after being inspired by an apricot bar by a company called Baked. However, this recipe is more suitable for a after dinner dessert!

Serves about 5

Apricot Jam

  • 200g dried apricots
  • 350ml water
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 60g honey
  • ½ vanilla pod, seeds scraped
  1. Combine the ingredients in a pan including the vanilla pod once the seeds have been removed.
  2. Simmer gently for about 40-45 minutes until the apricots are plump and soft. Remove the vanilla pod and discard
  3. Puree in a processor until you form a thick sticky jam. Store in a jar int he fridge and use for the pannacotta recipe or one croissants and toast!



  • 250ml double cream
  • 250ml whole milk
  • ½ vanilla pod, seeds scraped
  • 50g caster sugar
  • Splash vanilla extract (optional)
  • 2 ½ gelatine leaves
  • Aprioct jam
  1. Combine the cream, milk, sugar and vanilla in a pan and gently heat to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water until soft.
  3. Get ready 5 ramekins, wine glasses, shot glasses or tumblers or whatever you want to serve your pannacotta in. Fill the base with a thin layer of apricot puree and smooth out evenly. There will be more jam than needed but add as much as you like.
  4. Just before the cream mix begins to bubble, remove from the heat, and remove the vanilla pod. Squeeze out any excess water from the gelatine leaves and whisk into the hot cream.
  5. Begin gentle, pour over a generous layer of the cream mixture onto your apricot puree. Leave to cool before leaving to set in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

Serve with the rosemary biscuits and topped with some cinnamon sugared almond flakes if you like!


Rosemary Shortbread

  • 125g butter
  • 175g flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • ½- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Rub the flour butter and sugar together or combine in a food processor until you just begin to get a dough
  3. Add the rosemary and continue to mix to form a dough.
  4. Cut into biscuits shapes and bake on a lined baking tray for about 10 minutes (depending on size) until just turning the palest of gold and they are still soft. Watch them carefully as they cook quickly.
  5. Leave to cool before removing from the tray.