Friday, 30 September 2016

Cinnamon Apple and Salted Caramel Duffins.

Omnomnom. Have you ever seen such Autumnal sugary goodness? This recipe legitimately bundles up autumn all nice and cosy and snug in a pillowy duffin and I quite frankly cannot get enough of them. A soft and doughy doughnut muffin 'aka duffin' wrapped in a crisp, cinnamon sugar blanket; encasing a salted caramel centre and topped with a little hillock of sweet, cinnamon apple chunks. Oh my my. Please and thank you, yes I would very much like one of those whilst I frolic happily in a pile of crunchy autumn leaves.


Makes 12 little bundles of sweet, cinnamon sugary, duffiny goodness!

For the Duffins:
210g plain flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
165g caster sugar
1 large egg
188ml buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
65ml sunflower oil

For the Cinnamon Sugar Coating:

100g Unsalted butter, melted

200g caster sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

For the Apple and Cinnamon Compote:

1 Granny smith apple peeled and diced into very small cubes

20g butter

1 tsp. cinnamon
20g brown sugar
A splash of water or apple cider

For the Salted Caramel:
125g light soft brown sugar
75ml double cream
1/2 tsp. sea salt 


1. Start by preparing the duffins. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/ 160°C fan/ Gas mark 4 and sieve the plain flour, baking powder, salt and caster sugar into a large bowl. Add the freshly grated nutmeg.

2. Next, whisk the buttermilk, large egg and sunflower oil together and add the vanilla extract. Pour the liquid ingredients slowly into the dry ingredients and stir using a spatula until just combined.

3. Take a 12-cup muffin tin and use a little oil to lightly grease each hole in the muffin tin. Spoon the duffin mixture into the muffin tin holes, filling them two thirds full. 

4. Bake for 20 minutes until golden and well-risen and until the surface of each duffin springs back when lightly pressed with a finger. 

5. While the duffins are baking, melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low-heat, pour into a bowl and set-aside. Now, add 200g caster sugar to another bowl and stir in 2 tsp. cinnamon to create the cinnamon sugar.

6. Remove the muffin tray from the oven once the duffins are cooked and gently lift the duffins out onto a wire cooling rack. Immediately dip the duffins into the melted butter, coating fully and then roll in either the sugar or cinnamon sugar to liberally and evenly coat them before allowing to cool completely on the wire cooling rack.       

7. Whilst cooling, prepare the apple and cinnamon compote. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat, add the brown sugar, cinnamon and a tiny splash of water and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. 

8. Add the apples and cook until soft. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. The mixture will thicken as it cools.

9. Next prepare the salted caramel. Heat the brown sugar, ½ tsp. salt and cream in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Bubble for a few minutes as it thickens, then leave to cool. I find it easier to fill the duffins while the caramel is still a little warm though as when it is completely cool it becomes very thick and harder to work with.

10. Once the duffins are cool, use a cupcake corer, apple corer or sharp knife to gently remove the centre  of each duffin, creating a hole. Finally, fill each duffin with 1-2 tsp. salted caramel and top with a mini tower of roughly 1 tsp. apple compote and indulge and enjoy immediately!

Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, 21 September 2016


With the weather outside getting in a bit of a muddle at the moment; where the sun shines high in the sky one minute only to disappear into the gloomy grey as it buckets down with rain another; I figured Mac 'n' Cheese nachos were sort of a best of both worlds- Summer meets Autumn mash up dish complete with the fresh summery flavours of salsa and guacamole and the hearty decadence of macaroni cheese to warm up the insides on the chilliest of Autumn days. 

Now this recipe is very much intended to be one of those; use as much or as little from it as you like; whether you buy your tortilla chips and tex mex toppings from the supermarket and just make your own macaroni to adorn the top; or go all out making every single component although, please be warned it does take many an hour to whip up however, the finished product is utterly delicious and worth the long slog in the kitchen! I have simply included my favourite recipes for the most terrific crunchy tortilla chips, gorgeous guac; superb salsa and a bloomin' marvelous mac 'n' cheese which if you only take one thing away from this recipe; then PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make this incredible macaroni cheese, pop it in a baking dish, coat with some herby breadcrumbs for a crispy top or grated mozzarella for a gooey, molten mozarella top and just bake. Serve with garlic bread. Indulge. Enjoy!


Makes one big ol' plate of machos to get troffing into!

For the Tortilla Chips:

8 Flour or Corn tortillas
1L bottle of vegetable oil

For the Salsa:

6 medium ripe tomatoes
1/2 medium red onion
1 small garlic clove
small splash of white wine vinegar
juice of 1/2-1 lime
handful of fresh coriander, chopped roughly
salt and pepper to taste

For the Guacamole:

1 large ripe tomato
2 large avocados, very ripe
juice of 1 lime
handful of fresh coriander, chopped roughly
1 small red chilli
1 small red onion
salt to taste

Sour Cream and Chive Dip (I prefer the supermarket versions but please feel free to buy soured cream and stir in some finely chopped chives)

For the Refried Beans (optional):

1 medium onion
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tbsp. tomato puree
2 tsp. each of chipotle chilli paste, light brown sugar and red wine vinegar
380g carton of black beans, drained and rinsed (I used Sainsbury's SO organic black beans)
400g tin of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

For the Mac 'n' Cheese:

600g whole milk
50g plain flour
50g unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
200g mature or extra mature cheddar cheese
100g gruyere cheese
50g parmesan (if not veggie) or Italian style hard cheese (if veggie, available in value form at Tesco or Basics at Sainsbury's)
1/2 tsp. english mustard
400g macaroni

Top with some finely chopped fresh coriander leaves


1. Start by preparing the tortilla chips. Cut your flour or corn tortillas into triangles and fry either in a deep fat fryer or large saucepan filled with hot vegetable oil. Ensure that the oil is piping hot so that when the tortilla triangle is dropped in the oil fizzes/bubbles. Cook until crisp and bronze, remove from oil and place onto a kitchen roll lined tray to drain off excess oil.

2. Make the salsa. Finely chop the tomatoes, red onion and garlic clove and place in a bowl. Add the white wine vinegar, lime juice, coriander, salt and pepper and stir together. Refrigerate until needed.

3. Next prepare the guacamole. Pulverise the tomato to a pulp, chopping on a chopping board and add to a bowl. Halve the avocados and remove the stone before scooping out the flesh into the bowl with the tomato. Finely chop the red onion and deseeded chilli and add to the tomato and avocado with the lime juice and coriander. Use a potato masher to mash everything together until smooth. Sit an avocado stone into the centre of the guacamole to help prevent it going brown and refrigerate until needed.

4. Then make the refried beans if using. Soften the onion in the oil in a frying pan. Once softened, stir in the spices for 2 mins, followed by the tomato puree, chipotle paste, sugar and vinegar. Pour in all the beans and half a can of water. Season with salt and pepper. Bubble gently until the water is almost evaporated.

5. For the mac 'n' cheese; bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the macaroni for approximately 10 minutes or according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Drain completely.

6. Whilst the pasta cooks; prepare the cheese sauce. Heat the milk in a small saucepan or a jug in the microwave until hot but not boiling. In a medium pan, melt the butter, stir in the flour to form a paste and cook over a low heat, stirring for a couple of minutes until the roux (flour and butter paste) is golden in colour and remove from the heat. Add the hot milk a little at a time, stirring vigorously until all the milk is added and the mix is fully combined. Return to the heat and heat on a medium heat, stirring continuously for 5-10 minutes until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Season with salt.

7.  Add all of the cheese until melted and the sauce is smooth. Stir through the mustard and mix in the macaroni.

8. Scatter all of the tortilla chips onto a large serving plate/bowl. Pour over the hot mac 'n' cheese, top with a large dollop of guacamole, salsa, sour cream and refried beans and sprinkle with chopped coriander.

9. Chow down with friends and family! It's the perfect sharing dish to tuck into on a cold night curled up on the sofa with a cider in hand and a movie on the telly.

Thank you for reading!

Monday, 12 September 2016

Coffee and Walnut Cake.

It really has become very autumnal over the last few days. There's a chill in the air and the nights are drawing in. I settled into my cosy bed last night with a big wedge of this scrumptious coffee cake and my Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets book and could not have been happier on a Sunday night. Now I love autumn. I love wrapping up warm in big chunky scarves and toasty oversized beanies and coats. I love stomping my boots through crunchy leaves of burnt orange, forest green, copper and bronze. I love woodland walks with the wind nipping at my rosy cheeks and twigs snapping under my feet. I love clasping my hands around a mug of hot chocolate towered high with a mountain of cream. Autumn and Winter are definitely my most favourite times of the year and also the times which really offer the best of the best grub I do believe- with big hearty, warming meals and indulgent cakes and desserts to tuck into and as such, I felt like a nice, BIG slice of this coffee and walnut cake was definitely an essential for a lazy September Sunday.   

A moist, mellow flavoured, mouthwatering crumbly coffee sponge dotted with walnut pieces, sandwiched together with lashings of sweet, fluffy coffee buttercream and finished off with crunchy praline walnut halves and mocha bean and walnut white chocolate shards. Simply delicious.


Makes 1 humongous and tantalising 3 tier naked layer cake, could anything be better than that?
For the cake:
265g unsalted butter
265g light brown sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
4 1/2 tbsp. strong black coffee 
265g self-raising flour
2 tsp. baking powder
175g walnut pieces
For the coffee icing: (For the most marvelous and moreish icing that you just cannot stop dipping your finger in/ eating whole overflowing spoonfuls of/ restrain yourself from licking the whole entire bowl spotlessly clean of:)
230g softened unsalted butter
400g icing sugar
2 tbsp. strong black coffee
1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the white chocolate, mocha bean and walnut shards:
100-200g melted white chocolate
Mocha beans and walnut pieces and halves to scatter onto the melted chocolate

For the walnut praline:
100g caster sugar
8 walnut halves


1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/ fan 160°C and grease and line the bottom of 3x 20cm loose-bottom cake tins.

2. Cream together the butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition. Beat in the coffee.

3. Sieve in the flour and baking powder and fold in until fully combined. Fold in the walnut pieces.

4. Pour equal amounts into the prepared cake tins and bake for 20-25 minutes minutes until bronze, risen and the surface springs back when pressed lightly with a finger. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for 10-20 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

5. Prepare the chocolate shards. Melt the white chocolate in a pyrex dish over a pan of simmering water. Once melted, pour onto a parchment/ grease proof paper lined baking tray. Spread the white chocolate using a knife, spoon or palette knife to form a smooth slab of chocolate. Scatter with mocha beans and walnut pieces or halves. Allow to firm up, refrigerating if needed to ensure that the chocolate is solid. Once hardened but still slightly soft, the chocolate can be cut into triangles or shards. Alternatively, wait until completely solid and the chocolate slab can be snapped into shards.

6. Prepare the praline walnut halves. In a saucepan over a low-medium heat, warm the caster sugar until the sugar melts and dissolves to form a glossy, deep bronze caramel. Stir through the walnut halves and use a spoon to transfer the hot toffee coated walnuts onto a parchment/ grease proof paper lined tray or baking sheet. Allow to go solid. Note. work quickly when dunking the walnuts as the toffee praline hardens almost instantly as the toffee cools.  

7. Prepare the icing. Add the softened butter to a bowl and sieve in the icing sugar. Add the vanilla extract and coffee. Beat together until thick, pale, smooth and creamy. Sandwich each layer of sponge together with icing, covering the cake entirely and scraping the sides with a clean palette knife to remove excess and create a naked layer look. Top with the white chocolate shards and create a border of alternating mocha beans and praline walnut halves.

Alternatively. for a more rustic, simple look just create a border of plain walnut halves and mocha beans around the cake edge. Simply wonderful. 

8. Grab a slice!... or maybe just gobble up the whole thing! Can anyone really ever have too much coffee cake?

Thank you for reading!