Tag Archives: vanilla

Recipe: Chocolate Cat Cake. It’s purrrrrfect, etc.

2 Dec

We need to talk about Kevin

My boss turned 40 this week and it was only right that this happy day was marked with a cat-shaped chocolate birthday cake, right?  Our chum Laura christened him Kevin and at a cake-fest in the office, Kev bravely gave his life for the enjoyment of us hungry office-workers.  Way to go Kevin.

This cake is very simple to make and keeps for a few days if you don’t hoover it up before then.

To buy:

For the cake –  *200g plain flour   *200g caster sugar   *1 teaspoon baking powder   *half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda   *40g best-quality cocoa (I used Green and Blacks)   *175g soft unsalted butter   *2 large eggs   *2 teaspoons real vanilla extract   *150ml soured cream

For the Icing –  *150g icing sugar  *100g  soft unsalted butter   *1 teaspoon vanilla extract   *a few teaspoons of cocoa   *splash of milk

For the topping –  *Bassets Licorice selection

To bake:

1.Take all of the cake ingredients out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature.  Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4/180oC / 160Oc fan and butter 2 20cm sandwich tins.

2. Now, in a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarb, cocoa, butter, eggs, vanilla extract and sour cream.  Use a food processor or a hand whisk and beat until it’s smooth and thick.

Feline hungry?

3. Divide the mixture between the two greased tins and spread flat.  Bake until a skewer comes out clean but the cake has a springiness to it.  Will take around half an hour or so but check regularly.

4. Remove the cakes from the oven and press and tap out onto a wire rack and cool entirely.

5. Place one of the cakes on a drum and cut 2 triangles out of the other cake.  Using cocktail sticks fasten the triangles (ears) to the other cake (face).

6. To make the icing combine the icing sugar, butter, vanilla and a splash of milk in a bowl.  Leave a small amount of the white icing in one bowl and transfer the  lion’s share to another bowl and add cocoa to taste to this batch of icing.

7. Using a palette knife cover the cake with the chocolate icing.  Then add some of the white vanilla icing to the ears and the middle of the cat’s face.

8. I used licorice to make the cat’s eyes, heart-shaped nose and whiskers.

9. Ice a birthday message onto the drum if you like.  Add a few candles and say a special wish for the birthday boy or girl. x


Recipe: Crème brûlée

28 May

Tap to unwrap


Crème brûlée, or burnt cream, was invented in Trinity College, Cambridge and is just about the most decadent, gorgeous pudding I can imagine.  Smooth, vanilla custard and taut, crisp caramel – what a beautiful marriage.

Josh had bought me a blowtorch for my birthday and so I put it to perfect use when making these Crème brûlées for his birthday meal dessert.  The recipe, another Good Food recipe, makes 2 – 3 servings and will be ready in about an hour and a half.  If you have the willpower make them the night before and ensure the custards are fully chilled, then prepare to have your socks blown off.

To buy:

*215ml double cream   *50ml full fat milk   *1/2 vanilla pod   *3 egg yolks   *25g caster sugar – and extra for the topping.

To make:

1.  Preheat the oven to fan 160Oc/conventional 180Oc and sit your ramekins in a deep roasting tin.


2. Pour the cream into a medium pan with the milk.  Lay the vanilla pod on a chopping board and slice lengthways through the middle with a sharp knife to split into two.  Scrape out the tiny seeds into the cream mixture.  Drop the vanilla pod in as well.  Put the pan over a medium heat and bring almost to the boil, as soon as you see bubbles appear around the edge of the pan take it off the heat.

3. Meanwhile, put the egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk for 1 minute with an electric whisk until pale in colour and a bit fluffy.

4. Pour the hot cream into the beaten egg yolks, stirring with a wire whisk as you do so, scraping out the seeds from the pan.  Set a fine sieve over a large jug or bowl and pour the hot mixture through to strain it, encouraging any stray vanilla seeds through at the end.  Using a big spoon scrape off all the pale foam and discard, stir the mixture.

5. Pour enough hot water into the roasting tin to come up about 1.5cm up the sides of the ramekins.  Fill the ramekins right up to the top.  Pop in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes until the mixture is softly set.  To check, sway the tin and if the Crème brûlées wobble a bit like jelly in the middle that’s great.  Don’t let them go firm.

6. When done, lift the ramekins out of the roasting tin with oven gloves and set on a wire rack to cool for a couple of minutes before popping them in the fridge, until completely cool.  Either for an hour or so or overnight.

Blowtorch the Brulee

7. When ready to serve, sprinkle caster sugar over each ramekin and spread out with fingertips or the back of a spoon.  Spray a fine mist of water over the top to slightly dampen the sugar and then use a blowtorch to caramelise it.  Hold the flame just above the sugar and burn all of the sugar until it bubbles and goes dark.  Pop in the fridge again to go firm, within an hour or so. Enjoy.