Desserts, puddings, cakes

A collection of sweet recipes for puddings, desserts, cakes, biscuits and more. Anything sweet goes in here. I have a very sweet tooth, chocolate being at the top of my list, my dessert collection has some easy cakes, chocolate mousses and many classics from both the British cuisine and Italian too.

white chocolate mousse dessertswith Panettone croutons

pavlova with mascarpone cream and fresh berries in aceto balsamico

That is quite a mouthful for a title isn’t it? However you will thank me forever if you ever try a mini pavlova with mascarpone cream and fresh berries in aceto balsamico.

How could fruit and balsamic vinegar go together I hear you ask? Very well indeed is your answer.

The very first time I tried the two together was when I lived in Italy. My best friend and I, both lovers of good food and wine, bought tickets to Italy’s biggest international food fair Cibus in Parma.

We set off from Folgaria in good time and spent an entire day, eating and drinking our way around the massive exhibition. We stopped at a stand which was explaining all the different ways balsamic vinegar can be used in the kitchen and they offered us some of their finest on strawberries. We thought it was a very odd combination but a shrug of the shoulders and a let’s see about this later we were blown away by the combination of these two flavours.

mini pavlova with a mascarpone cream and fresh berries marinaded in aceto balsamico

We were so taken we went on to try aceto balsamico with chocolate and then a ton of other incredibly exciting ways.

Due Vittorie have sent me a couple of bottles of their finest balsamic vinegars – did you know there are all different aged balsamic vinegars? The older the vinegar the thicker the liquid and the stronger the taste, oh plus the higher the price of course! But it’s worth it, a drop of the finest is exquisite, I cannot eat my salad without a drizzle of aceto balsamico. I have been known to pack a bottle to take on holiday with me.

Due Vittorie asked me to come up with a recipe and I had great fun making this one PLUS I did it in the caravan with the tiniest kitchen and no utensils other than a whisk and a bowl. A very easy mini pavlova with mascarpone cream and fresh berries marinaded in aceto balsamico. The kids loved it, dad loved it and so did I. Try it and tell me what you think.

4.7 from 3 reviews
Mini pavlova with mascarpone cream and fresh berries in aceto balsamico
 
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A delightful easy dessert to make that steps away from the norm by using balsamic vinegar on the fruit. Sweet, fresh and delicious.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: British
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 6 mini meringue nests
  • 200g of fresh berries; I used strawberries, raspberries and blueberries
  • 2 tsp icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp aceto balsamico Due Vittorie
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 250g mascarpone
  • 100g whipping cream
  • Garnish with mint
Instructions
  1. Place the washed and prepared berries in a bowl, if the strawberries are large cut into manageable pieces.
  2. Sprinkle over the icing sugar first so it doesn't go lumpy. Add the aceto balsamico and the lemon juice, stir well and leave to marinade.
  3. In another bowl add the mascarpone and whipping cream and mix well until thick enough to stay put on a meringue nest, if you go too far it will get very thick and stick to your whisk. This won't affect the taste at all, just a pain getting it off the whisk.
  4. Place the meringue nests on the serving plates, add a spoonful of mascarpone cream in the middle pressing the centre with the back of a spoon to make a well.
  5. Place the fruit on top and drizzle over some of the sauce.
  6. Garnish with a small mint leaf

Win a bottle of Due Vittorie Oro Aceto Balsamico di Modena

due vittorie oro aceto balsamico

We’re giving away 1 bottle of the delicious Due Vittorie Oro Aceto Balsamico di Modena used in this recipe. To enter please use the Rafflecopter below and best of luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

iced coffee sundae

When I lived in Italy for all of those years I got a special liking to Iced Coffee otherwise known as Eis Caffè. A special treat on a hot afternoon was to go to the local bar and order an Eis Cafe, to sit back, enjoy and watch the world go by.

I make them at home and to avoid having to make a jug of coffee for one Iced Coffee Sundae I came up with a life hack – how about storing the coffee in ice cubes and using them when needed?

Ta-dah!

filter coffee ice cubes

As you can see here I made one jug of filter coffee, waited for it to cool and then popped them in the freezer for future Iced Coffees.

And here is one I made earlier …

 

So what do you need to make a proper delicious Iced Coffee Sundae that is quick and easy?

Iced coffee sundae

Ingredients:

3 filtered coffee ice cubes
2 scoops of cream or vanilla ice cream
Squirty cream
chocolate sprinkles

Method:

Take out a couple of coffee ice cubes and place in your serving glass.

The third coffee ice cube place in a small bowl and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds until melted and warm.

Add two scoops of ice cream to the serving glass.

Pour over the hot coffee from the microwave.

Squirt cream on top and add sprinkles.

Serve with a spoon and a straw.

Sit back and watch the world go by.

Kumala, the south African wine people have been putting their heads together and coming up with a fabulous list of Life Hacks as they want to make our lives easier.

They want to free up some of our time and I don’t know about you but I am constantly pushed for time. The genius behind these simple tricks is so awesome that you’ll soon be doing them all. Take a look at their Facebook page and keep an eye out for #GeckoHacks to make sure you get to see them.

Take a look at this one for an example:

Packing a picnic – Wanting to enjoy a picnic in the sun but not a broken wine bottle when unpacking the basket?  Simply cover your Kumala wine bottle with a clean sock to ensure it arrives at your destination in one piece!

Kumala_LifeHacks- Packing a Picnic

Genius!

Well as you can see from the top photo, I thought it was a brilliant idea, I dug out my walking/ski socks (clean ones by the way) and put them to good use for the photo here BUT it’s such a good idea I will most definitely be using this for picnics this year as it’s not just for wine but any glass bottle that needs protecting.

Life hack - wine bottle in sock

So I had a think about a good life hack to share with you and I came up with a ‘really good idea‘.

 

Win a case of Kumala wine with YOUR life hack

Kumala are giving me a case of their delicious wine to give away to my favourite life hack that you suggest. Describe your favourite life hack in the comment box below and I will choose my favourite hack to win a case of Kumala wine for the ultimate Me Time Moment.

The competition is open for one week the idea is about putting your feet up and having some great me time so get brain storming and let me know what works for you.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

panettone bread and butter pudding

One sweet thing I bought for the Christmas season is a Panettone, it reminds me of my time in Italy when we would have a Panettone and a Pandoro to share over the festive season. Some come in the most beautiful tins and my favourite of all time has to be the Tre Marie.

panettone

Pandoro originates from Verona and is a light fluffy sponge baked in a tall star shaped tin and dusted with icing sugar before serving. We’d always open one on New Year’s Eve to serve with the Spumante.

Panettone is a light, round sponge with a dome shaped top. It has lots of candied fruit in it and can also be found with chocolate inside or other flavourings.

panettone bread and putter pudding

Anyway, I bought one and never got round to opening it so it’s sitting in the cupboard in a box unused. So here’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to make two Panettone bread and butter puddings and I’m going to freeze one for another time! Genius idea.

panettone bread and butter pudding

One thing I’ll be looking into this year is investing in a freezer. I’d like to stick it in the garage as our kitchen is already packed to the hilt. I really think we’d make great use of it, I can see me making double of our favourite recipes and freezing half for another time. Imagine the convenience? Take out of freezer the night before to defrost and re heat for dinner, not to mention an extra loaf in there to save late night runs up to the local shop.

panettone bread and butter pudding

Beko have brought out a freezer that can survive in colder temperatures thanks to the Freezer Guard. This means the compressor won’t fail in freezing temperatures in the garage, conservatory or outbuilding. For around £250 this could be an excellent investment, I just need to convince the husband now ;)

5.0 from 5 reviews
Panettone bread and butter pudding
 
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An upmarket bread and butter pudding using up Panettone from the Christmas leftovers. Adapted form the Delia Smith Bread and butter recipe
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: British
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 50g butter
  • 250g panettone cut into 6 slices
  • 2 eggs
  • 142ml carton double cream
  • 225ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 3 tbsps mixed peel
  • icing sugar, for sprinkling
  • softly whipped cream, to serve
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 160C/gas 3/fan 140C and grease a 850ml/1½ pint shallow baking dish with butter.
  2. Cut the Panettone into wedges. Butter the slices lightly with the rest of the butter. Lay the slices slightly overlapping to fill the dish.
  3. Sprinkle the candied peel over.
  4. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, milk, vanilla extract and sugar and pour evenly over the Panettone.
  5. Bake for 35 minutes until the pudding is just set - it should be yellow inside and nicely browned on top.
  6. Dust with icing sugar and serve with double cream.
panettone bread and butter pudding

mini christmas pudding trifles

What to do with all the remnants of the year’s biggest feast?

Well the classic Turkey and ham pie goes down a treat and is always welcome on a cold January night, plus it’s freezable.

Any cheese leftover will make a very tasty Cheeseboard quiche always a favourite of mine which is good for lunch or dinner. And if there is any Christmas Pudding leftover, then these mini trifles are delicious, look good and are suitable for the whole family.

christmas pudding leftovers

They take minutes to make and can be kept in the freezer, plus they’ll use up any custard, brandy sauce and cream you have lying around too.

The Handpicked Collection invited me to browse their site and choose a couple of items to review. I fell in love with these gorgeous glasses and teaspoons and decided to use them for my mini Christmas pudding trifles.

handpicked collection

Important to remember is this is quite a filling pudding as it is rich so the smaller you make it the more likely it will be eaten.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Mini Christmas pudding trifles - leftovers!
 
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How to use the leftover Christmas pudding in a stylish and delicious way
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: British
Ingredients
  • Leftover Christmas pudding broken into crumbs
  • Custard
  • Whipped cream (I used a canister of spray cream)
  • Sprinkles if desired
Instructions
  1. Fill a third of a small glass with the broken bits of Christmas pudding.
  2. Top with a good layer of custard
  3. Complete with a squirt of cream and chill in the fridge or serve immediately.
 

Disclosure: Handpicked Collection sent me the mentioned items for the purpose of this post. A word of warning – the glasses are NOT dishwasher proof, all of the beautiful colours came off :(

chocolate salami

When I lived in Italy one of my favourite things to make, not just for Christmas but throughout the year, was a chocolate salami.

I guess you could compare it to our rice krispie cakes in that they are easy to make, the kids can help and everyone loves them. The original recipe is chocolate, biscuits and raw eggs but I’ve found a way of eliminating the raw eggs and also over the years, have tried to add extra ingredients to make them more interesting. I’ve tried dried apricots, raisins, sultanas and lots of different nuts too.

The adult version also has 3 tbsp brandy which have been omitted here as I wanted the children to be able to eat it too. The brandy can also be substituted with port, rum or your favourite tipple. Baileys? Mmmmm.

They are the perfect afternoon treat with milk, or naughty but nice in front of the television when the kids are all in bed. In fact thinking about it you cold even substitute the biscuits for rice krispies.

Chocolate Salami
 
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A simple recipe to follow that is adaptable for all the family and delicious too. Chocolate Salami
Author:
Recipe type: Sweet
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 18
Ingredients
  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 400g chocolate - I used a mixture of dark and milk
  • 200g dry biscuits - I used Nice
  • 50g pistacchios
  • 75g dried cherry and cranberry mix
  • 25g silver pearls
Instructions
  1. Break the chocolate into small pieces, place in a glass bowl and add the butter. Set over a pan of simmering water, gently stir until it melts and is smooth.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in all the other ingredients mixing well.
  3. Cover and chill for 1 hour until firm and pliable.
  4. Divide the chocolate mixture into two, place each half in the centre of a large piece of clingfilm.
  5. Fold the clingfilm over the mixture and mould the chocolate mixture into a salami shape about 5cm thick.
  6. Roll up the salami in the clingfilm and twist the ends to seal it. roll on the work surface to make sure the sausage is evenly round and chill for an hour until firm.
  7. You can roll the sausage in icing sugar for a more salami like effect and tie with string too, mine never makes that stage as once out of the fridge it starts to be eaten.
  8. To serve slice into 1 cm rounds with a sharp knife.
  9. Can be made and frozen, defrost overnight.