Chocolate Guinness fondants with cheesecake ice cream


The above photo does not do this pudding justice. I was a bit tipsy by the time I served/photographed it (as one often is after two previous courses and two bottles of wine!).

On the subject of food photography, I really enjoyed reading this article by the brilliant Ruby Tandoh about sharing pictures of food online. In it she argues that food that looks amazing doesn’t always taste so.

I particularly loved this paragraph and I will bear it in mind every time I beat myself up about my poor photographs for this blog. Whilst my photos maybe a bit crap they are at least honest and the food has tasted good (otherwise I would not offer you the recipe).

If you want to post your meal online, post away. Upload a picture of that sausage and mash. Don’t worry that the light is dim, that the gravy sloshes in a swampy pool across your plate. Sharing is a generous act, but perfectionism smothers that goodness. Upload the unfiltered, ugly pictures of your failed birthday cake, or your fish and chips in grease-soaked paper. Or, if you want to fuss over the exact positioning of four blueberries on top of a smoothie bowl for an hour before you tuck in, do that – but don’t forget to enjoy your food.

Getting back to the point, it was my 10th wedding anniversary on Friday and to celebrate I wanted to cook a special meal inspired by the food served at our wedding.

Our ‘big day’ was not at all fancy and our budget cake was a Chocolate Guinness one kindly made by my sister.


I wanted to remember this in my anniversary menu but I don’t believe in serving cake as a dessert (unless it’s hot with custard). So I had the idea of making hot chocolate fondants flavoured with Guinness instead. And then to mirror the cream cheese icing on the cake serving the fondants with a cheesecake ice cream.

It worked really nicely so here are the recipes.

Chocolate Guinness fondants

Serves 4

  • 100g of good quality (70% cocoa) dark chocolate
  • 75g of butter
  • 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks
  • 50g of muscavado sugar
  • 50g of plain flour
  • 100ml of Guinness

Butter four ramekins with butter and place in the freezer to chill.

Set your oven to 170oC.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a pan over a low heat or in the microwave. Allow the mixture to cool a little and then stir in the two egg yolks.

In another bowl, beat together the two whole eggs, sugar and Guinness until light and foamy.

Fold in the chocolate mixture and the flour with a metal spoon until well incorporated.

Spoon the mixture into the chilled ramekins and bake for 9 minutes, or until the surface is set but there is a slight wobble in the middle.

Turn out onto plates and eat immediately with cheesecake ice cream (see recipe below).

NOTE: You can make these up in advance and keep covered in the fridge until you want to bake them. This is good if you’re making them for a dinner party. They also taste fine baked and then reheated in the microwave the next day.

Nigella Lawson’s cheesecake ice cream

  • 175ml full fat milk
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 125g Philadelphia (or other full fat cream cheese)
  • ½ a teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 350ml of double cream

In a bowl beat together the sugar, Philadelphia, vanilla and egg.

Heat the milk in a saucepan until hot and then pour this over the cream cheese mixture.

Then pour the whole lot back into the saucepan and place over a medium heat until the mixture thickens, whisking all the time. Try not to let the mixture boil or it will curdle.

Once the consistency of smooth custard, remove from the heat and whisk periodically until cooled to room temperature. Then place in the fridge to get really cold.

Finally add the double cream (lightly whipped) and lemon juice and pour into an ice cream maker. Churn until thick then put in the freezer to finish hardening.

Here’s a random photo of some baguettes I made this week. Aren’t they beautiful?


Not beautiful but very happy – Ben and I on our wedding day 10 years ago.



My ‘Abigail’s Party’ party

Abigail's party collage copy

  1. Abigail’s party style dress from Second Hand Rose
  2. Tone? A little cheesy-pineapple one?’
  3. Pre-dinner snacks – bombay mix, twiglets and olives
  4. Pre-dinner drinks – Lambrini, Babycham, Sherry
  5. ‘Wing’s of Love’ by Steven Pearson with the moutashed birthday boy
  6. Vol au vents
  7. Retro egg mayonnaise starter with vintage William Morris ‘Blackthorn’ table runner
  8. The main course – coq au vin and duchess potato nests filled with peas
  9. Mateus Rose and prawn cocktail
  10. Gateaux
  11. Profiteroles before being filled with cream and covered in chocolate
  12. Demis Roussos ‘Forever and Ever’
  13. Katy Stewart’s pineapple cheesecake
  14. Cocktail time – ‘Tequila Sunrise’
  15. Katy Stewart’s butterscotch tart

I haven’t posted much in May because I’ve been rehearsing recipes for my husband’s 40th birthday party. He was born in the 70’s so we had an Abigail’s Party themed sit down dinner with cocktails afterwards.

It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed rummaging about in my mum’s old cookbooks for inspiration. I also followed the fabulously funny 70s Dinner Party twitter feed – which is great entertainment even if you don’t like cooking. This provided inspiration for my main course.


My mum gave me the Katie Stewart recipe book she used when she was first married. I’m not sure why Delia has remained so popular while Katie has been forgotten but I’m fond of her because she wrote my first ever cook book ‘The Pooh Cook Book’.

The final menu looked like this:


Coronation chicken and mushroom vol au vents
Cheese and pineapple on sticks
Bombay mix

Prawn cocktail OR egg mayonnaise

Main course
Coq au vin with duchess potato nests filled with peas

Dessert trolley
Pineapple cheesecake
Butterscotch tart
Raspberry gateaux (my husband doesn’t like cherries)
Profiteroles with chocolate sauce
Pavlova with strawberries and squirty cream

Some of the recipes I used are below. Some I won’t be repeating. Vol au vents are a complete nightmare even with a shop bought block of puff. The gateaux looked much better than it tasted.

The profiteroles were the dessert trolley winner by a mile. I vaguely remember a competition to dip one in chocolate sauce and down it in one, but due to the vast number of cocktails consumed by that point my memory is hazy.

There were tell-tale signs of chocolate all over the carpet.

But it was a good party.


Coq au vin

(from ‘Mary Berry’s Foolproof Cooking’ and Raymond Blanc’s – ‘Cooking for Friends’)

Serves 6 (I tripled the recipe as there were 18 at the party)

  • 400g baby shallots, peeled and halved
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 600ml of red wine
  • 6 small skinless and boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 75g of butter
  • 3 tablespoons of plain flour
  • 350g of smoked streaky bacon, chopped into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato purée
  • 1 tablespoon of light muscovado sugar
  • 400g of button mushrooms, halved
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the shallots in a large bowl with the garlic, bayleaf, thyme, chicken breasts and season with salt and black pepper.

In a saucepan bring the wine to the boil, then skim and leave to cool.

Pour the wine over the chicken pieces, cover with cling film and marinate for 24 hours.

When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 160oc.

Sit a colander over a large saucepan and strain the marinated chicken, reserving the shallots, bay leaves and thyme. Dab the chicken with kitchen paper to dry it.

Heat the oil and 50g of the butter in a deep ovenproof frying pan or casserole dish. Add the chicken breasts and fry on a medium-high heat, for 5–10 minutes each side, or until browned all over – you may need to do this in batches. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Meanwhile, set the pan with the wine marinade over a high heat and boil, for 5–10 minutes, until the volume of liquid has reduced by a third. Add the flour to a bowl with 150ml of water and whisk until smooth. Stir in a little of the hot wine, and add this mixture to the rest of the wine in the pan. Keep hot.

Add the bacon to the frying pan or casserole dish and fry over a high heat until brown and crisp. Add the reserved shallots and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, or until they start to soften.

Add the hot wine sauce and tomato purée to the frying pan or casserole dish with the sugar, reserved bay leaves, thyme, salt and black pepper and bring to a boil. Stir until thickened and add the browned chicken.

Bring back to the boil, cover with a lid and bake for 20–25 minutes, or until cooked through.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a medium pan and fry the mushrooms over a medium heat for 5–10 minutes, or until just cooked. Add to the chicken casserole just before serving.

NOTE: I made this the day before and then reheated for 45 minutes in a 180oC oven.


Butterscotch tart

(from ‘Cooking with Katie Stewart’ with some amends)

For the sweet short crust pastry (makes 200g of pastry – enough to line a 23cm diameter tart tin)

  • 200g of plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100g of margarine
  • 2 tablespoons of castor sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of cold milk

For the filling

  • 100g of granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons of water
  • 4 tablespoons of golden syrup
  • 4 tablespoons of cornflour
  • 2 tablespoons of light muscavado sugar (my addition)
  • A good pinch of sea salt (my addition)
  • 1 pint of milk
  • 2 eggs (should have been four but I accidently used two and the result was good)
  • A few drops of vanilla extract

Measure the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the margarine and then rub together with the flour until you have a mix the consistency of fine breadcrumbs. Measure the milk and sugar into a cup and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add to the flour/margarine mixture.

With a knife stir until well incorporated. Then using your hands with a light touch bring the mixture together to form a ball and knead very lightly a couple of times until smooth. Press the ball down roughly to form a thick flat circle, place in a plastic bag and allow to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 200oC.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out with a rolling pin until it is big enough to line a 23 cm tart tin.  Prick the bottom with a fork all over. Trim the edges and line with baking paper and baking beads and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove the beads and the baking paper and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes. Set aside while you prepare the filling.

Turn the oven down to 160oC.

Put the granulated sugar in a dry pan and heat, stirring all the time until the sugar has melted and turned a pale golden colour (be careful not to overdo the syrup – the sugar will suddenly turn very quickly). Add the water and stir until dissolved (the mixture will bubble up and may even set a little but it will dissolve if you keep stirring). Add the syrup and stir over the heat until dissolved.

Blend the cornflour with the milk and stir into the caramel. Put back onto a medium/high heat and stir until the mixture has come to the boil and thickened. Add the light muscavado sugar and salt and stir until dissolved.

Draw off the heat and leave the mixture to cool for 5 minutes.

Mix the eggs and the vanilla extract, then add these to the caramel mixture, stirring continuously until well incorporated.

Pour the filling into the prepared case and return to the oven for 30 minutes. There will still be a wobble in the middle but don’t worry about this – it will set when refrigerated.

Chill in the fridge and serve chilled.



Makes 15 profiteroles

  • 125ml water
  • 60g butter
  • 75g plain flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • A pinch of salt (leave this out if using unsalted butter)
  • Whipped cream and chocolate sauce (see below) to serve

Heat the oven to 220oC and line two flat baking sheets with baking paper.

In a sauce pan add the water and butter and place it on a medium heat until the butter has melted.

Take a large square of greaseproof paper and fold in half. Open out and sieve over the flour and salt.

Turn up the heat under the saucepan and as soon as the water/butter mixture comes to the boil turn off the heat. Quickly shoot the flour into the mix and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined, return to a low heat to eliminate any extra moisture in the dough. Once the dough forms a solid mass and comes away from the sides of the pan remove from the heat.

Cool the dough briefly to prevent the eggs from setting when they are added. Stirring will help the dough to cool more quickly.

Add the eggs one at a time and beat the dough thoroughly using an electric mixer until the mixture thickens.

Spoon teaspoons of mixture evenly on the two trays leaving plenty of room between for the dough to expand.

Place in the oven for 20 minutes undisturbed.

Remove from the oven and with the sharp point of a knife pierce the bottom of each bun to release the steam.

Return to the oven for a further 5 minutes to crisp up.

Allow to cool completely on a rack before filling with whipped cream and serving with hot chocolate sauce. If you don’t have a piping bag to fill the buns then just cut them in half, fill and then sandwich back together again.

NOTE: It’s best not to fill with cream until the last minute as the cream will soften the pastry.

Profiterole chocolate sauce

  • 100ml of water
  • 80g of caster sugar
  • 200g of good-quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • ¼ – ½ pint of double cream to your preferred consistency

First place the water and sugar into a saucepan and bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and place the chocolate into a heatproof bowl set over the pan. Stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted.

Take the pan off the heat and pour the syrup mixture into the chocolate.  Stir until smooth, and then add the double cream until you have your preferred consistency (I like mine quite runny, but like gravy it’s a personal thing).

You can make this in advance and then warm in the microwave briefly before serving.


Pineapple cheesecake

From Cooking with Katie Stewart published in 1974

Serves 12

For the filling

  • 3 tablespoons of cold water
  • 15g of powdered gelatine
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g of castor sugar
  • A 425g tin of pineapple rings in syrup
  • The zest and juice of half a lemon
  • 350g of cottage cheese, blitzed in a food processor until completely smooth
  • 142ml of double cream

For the base

  • 8 digestive biscuits
  • 25g of castor sugar
  • 50g of butter

In a small bowl mix together the water and sprinkle in the gelatin.

Separate the eggs, cracking the yolks into one bowl and the whites into another larger one.

Add 100g of castor sugar to the egg yolks and beat until light and creamy.

Drain the juice from the pineapple and make up to 142ml with water (you won’t need much water here, if any). Pour into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Take off the heat and gradually stir into the egg yolk and sugar mixture.

Return this to the saucepan along with the cake of soaked gelatin. Stir the mixture over a low heat until the gelatin has completely dissolved.

When the custard has cooled a little add the cottage cheese and lemon juice, zest and 3 slices of pineapple finely chopped.

Lightly whip the cream and fold this gently into the mixture.

Finally, stiffly beat the eggs whites and fold these in.

Pour into a 20cm round loose-bottomed cake tin lined on the base with a circle of non-stick baking parchment.

Put in the fridge to cool.

For the biscuit base, first crush the biscuits in a bag with a rolling pin (or in a food processor), then add the melted butter and sugar. Give everything a good stir then remove the cheesecake from the fridge and sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the surface gently pressing down to compact. When the cheesecake is turned out this will in fact be the bottom.

Return to the fridge for several hours until firm.

When you are ready to serve turn the cheesecake out onto a plate. Remove the baking parchment and decorate with the remaining pineapple cut into neat pieces.


Things get somewhat hazy.

Chocolate brownies with a cheesecake swirl

marbled brownies 4

We’ve recently been on holiday to Norway. It’s a wonderful country and I could go into detailed raptures about the stunning fjords, the attractive cities of Bergen and Oslo, and how it’s a great place to travel with children, but this is a recipe blog (not a travel one) so I’ll leave that to others.

The only downside was that we mainly survived on a diet of bread and economy salami (from the supermarket) because food and drink are so expensive. We did however splash out on strong coffee and the occasional sweet treat. I particularly loved their Hvetebolle – a sweet bun with chocolate and cardamom which you could buy from the 7-Eleven for just £1.20 (each!).


Another standout was a delicious chocolate cake with a vanilla and blueberry cheesecake ripple that we had at the Aquarium cafe in Ballestrand. This bought to mind a recipe in my folder of cutouts which I had not yet tried (despite it being there for over 10 years).

So this week, with the children back at school and some time to myself, I spent some quality time in the kitchen and made ‘marbled brownies’. They were great and my husband (a man who doesn’t give praise easily) called them ‘seriously delicious’. I’ve had ‘delicious’ before but the ‘seriously’ part was a first!

Chocolate brownies with a cheesecake swirl

Makes about 24

For the chocolate brownie mix

  • 200g of good quality plain chocolate
  • 200g of butter
  • 250g of caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 125g of plain flour

For the cream cheese mix

  • 400g of full fat cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 125g of caster sugar
  • 2 eggs

Heat the oven to 160oC (fan assisted) and butter and line a deep baking tin about 20 cm x 30 cm with baking parchment.

For the cream cheese, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until well incorporated and smooth. Set aside.

For the brownie mix, first melt the chocolate and butter either in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, or in the microwave (which is what I do). Stir until smooth and leave to cool a little.

In another bowl whisk together the caster sugar and eggs, then add the melted butter/chocolate and mix again. Sieve in the flour and fold in gently.

To assemble, pour 3/4 of the brownie mix into the tin and spread evenly. Tip in the cream cheese mixture before spooning over the remaining brownie mix in dollops. Tap the tin sharply on the work surface to level the mixture and then take a skewer and marble the mixtures together using a wave like motion across the tin just once.

Bake for 35-45 minutes until just set. Test after 35 minutes with a skewer and if it comes out clean then remove from the oven.

Cool in the tin for 15 minutes before cutting into pieces.


I can take a week of bread and salami for views like this.

New York cheesecake

baked cheesecake

I’ve been using a Mary Berry recipe for baked vanilla cheesecake for years and I’ve always been perfectly happy with it. Last week though I decided on a whim to try Nigella’s New York version instead and my goodness it was so much better. The texture was smooth and creamy, it was not too sweet AND there were no cracks (probably due to the addition of cornflour).

In true Nigella style this is an expensive cheesecake to make (£11.46 based on my Tesco shop using branded items such as McVities and Philadelphia) but it’s huge and therefore ideal if you’re catering for a lot of people.

Nigella Lawson’s New York cheesecake
(from Nigel Slater’s ‘Real Food’)

Serves 12 generously

For the base

  • 250g of digestive biscuits, crushed to fine crumbs with a rolling pin or in a food processor (89p)
  • 150g of butter, melted (53p)
  • 3 tablespoons of caster sugar (5p)

For the filling

  • 2 tablespoons of cornflour (7p)
  • 225g of caster sugar (28p)
  • 750g of full fat soft cream cheese (£6.40)
  • 6 eggs, serparated (£1.25)
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract (47p)
  • 150ml of double cream (60p)
  • 150ml of sour cream (60p)
  • ½ teaspoon of salt (2p)
  • The grated zest of 1 lemon (30p)

Butter the bottom and sides of a 24cm round, springform cake tin.

For the base, mix together the butter, sugar and biscuit crumbs and press firmly into the bottom of the tin. Chill for one hour.

For the filling, start by setting your oven to 170oC.

Mix together the sugar and cornflour. Beat in the cream cheese, egg yolks and vanilla extract by hand or with an electric mixer. Then slowly pour both the creams in, add the salt and lemon zest and beat some more.

In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff and then fold carefully into the cheese mixture using a metal spoon. Tip into the chilled base and bake for one hour and fifteen minutes (the recipe said for between one hour and one and a half hours so I went with the middle ground).

Turn off the heat (don’t open the door) and let the cake stand in the oven for two more hours.

Then open the door and let it stand for another hour.

Chill in the fridge and serve cold.

You can dust the top with icing sugar before serving if you like.

NOTE: This is lovely eaten just as it is but I served mine with a cheat’s raspberry coulis (basically a tin of raspberries in syrup whizzed up until smooth). I think it would also taste nice with any other fruit coulis, or a caramel or chocolate sauce.

Ode to the digestive – part 4, baked vanilla cheesecake

baked cheesecake

I dream about baked vanilla cheesecake – it’s my favourite dessert of all. This week I’ve been reading about the last food requests of people on death row and this would definitely be my pudding of choice for a final ever meal.

I have tried lots of different recipes for baked cheesecake and have always struggled with the texture. They have tended to be a little on the stodgy side and rather claggy. I think this recipe works well though. It initially started out as a Mary Berry but I’ve adapted it by whisking the egg white to give it a lighter texture.

It’s good on its own or with a raspberry sauce.

Baked vanilla cheesecake

Serves 8

For the base

  • 100g crushed digestives (about 7 biscuits)
  • 50g butter

For the filling

  • 700g full fat soft cheese
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of good quality vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 150oC fan.

For the base, crush the digestives in a food processor or in a food bag with a rolling pin. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the crushed biscuits and stir until incorporated. Tip the mixture into a 20 cm loose bottomed tin (about 8 cm deep) and press down firmly with your fingers or the back of a spoon to form the biscuit base. Cover with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge.

Measure the cheese into a large bowl and beat with a wooden spoon or an electric hand mixer until soft. Add the sugar and beat again until well mixed.#

Separate the eggs and whisk up the whites until soft peaks form.

Add the egg yolks and vanilla essence to the cheese mixture and stir to combine. I do this bit by hand with a metal spoon. Next, add just a spoonful of egg white to the cheese and stir in to slacken the mixture. Then very gently fold in the rest of the egg whites attempting to keep as much of the air in the mixture as possible.

Tip the mixture onto the biscuit base and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the cheesecake is puffed around the edges but still wobbly in the centre.

Turn off the oven but leave in the oven to cool.

Chill well in the fridge and serve well chilled.

A chocolate twist
For a chocolate ripple version, add just half the finished mixture into the tin in spoonfuls with gaps between the dollops. Then add 150g of melted plain chocolate to the remaining mixture and spoon into the gaps. Finally, swirl the top with a skewer or knife to make a marble effect. Make sure that the chocolate is not too hot when you add it otherwise it will start to cook the eggs in the cheesecake mixture.

Cracks always appear in my baked cheesecake. I have a feeling that the air in the egg white in this recipe probably encourages the mixture to crack, but I’d rather have a light texture and cracks than a stodgy texture with no cracks. To be honest because it’s only an aesthetic thing and it still tastes good I’m not particularly bothered. If you are then there are some tips to avoid cracking in this link. If you hit on a winner then please do let me know. It the meantime I’m going to opt for the last suggestion and cover the cracks with sauce.

Eddie licking the bowl.

Ode to the digestive – part 1, silly toppings


I love digestive biscuits. Admittedly they are a bit boring by themselves but they are so versatile and great topped with sweet or savoury food stuffs or as the biscuit base for all sorts of puddings. When I rooted through my recipe folder I found quite a few digestive based desserts and so these very silly recipes begin my 5 days of 5 ways with digestives.

Digestives with melted marshmallow

I’m not sure where on earth this idea came from but I used to do this as a child and now my own children just love it. It is pretty exciting watching the marshmallow blow up like a balloon and the end result is a sweet and sticky delight.

  • a digestive biscuit
  • a standard marshmallow (pink or white)

Place a single marshmallow on a digestive biscuit.

Place in the microwave for 10-20 seconds and watch it blow up like a balloon. When it is about the same size as the digestive (circumference-wise) stop the cooking. When you take it out it will deflate into a lovely melted gooey mess over the digestive.

Leave to cool for a minute before eating.

Marshmallow on a digestive

Ready for action.

marshmallow on a digestive blown up

Blown up.

melted marshmallow


Cheat’s cheesecakes

This is for when you really can’t be bothered to make a proper dessert but you need something sweet to end your day.

It honestly does taste just like the real thing once it’s all mushed up in your mouth but you obviously couldn’t serve it a dinner party – unless you were trying to be funny.

Cheat’s lemon cheesecake
Take a digestive biscuit and smear with cream cheese. Then dollop a spoonful of lemon curd on top.

Cheat’s raspberry cheesecake
As above but with a dollop of raspberry jam.

Cheat’s chocolate cheesecake
As above but with a dollop of chocolate spread.