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Brandy Snaps – A Christmas Dessert

These brandy snaps actually do not contain any brandy but could made festive by adding brandy to the whipped cream filling! This is one of my favourite treats around the holidays because of the ginger in the recipe and you can’t go wrong with these at a Christmas party or just a treat for yourself!

Ingredients

100 grams salted butter

100 grams brown sugar

100 grams golden syrup or honey

100 grams all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp lemon juice

For decorating (optional)

100 grams chocolate, melted

100 grams chopped nuts like pistachios

For the filling

1 cup heavy whipping cream

4 tsp cold water

1 tsp unflavoured gelatin

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Special Equipment

Silpat or other silicone mat that is oven-safe and food-grade silicone

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°F
  2. In a medium size saucepan combine the butter, sugar, and syrup over low heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved (this should take about 15 minutes, taking care not to let the mixture boil)
  3. Remove from the hear and let the mixture cool for a few minutes
  4. Sift the flour and ginger into the sugar mixture and add the lemon juice
  5. Mix well until all ingredients are fully incorporated and there are no lumps of flour
  6. Spoon rounded teaspoons of the mixture 4 inches apart onto the Silpat on a baking sheet
  7. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the brandy snaps have a dark golden colour
  8. Allow the biscuits to sit out for a few minutes to firm up before shaping around the handle of a wooden spoon or form to get the classic brandy snap shape
  9. The brandy snaps only need a few seconds to cool on the wooden spoon handle before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely
  10. Dip the ends of the brandy snaps in melted chocolate and sprinkle with chopped nuts
  11. Fill the snaps with the whipped cream filling using a piping bag and a nozzle or a ziplock bag with the corner cut off and refrigerate until serving (the gelatin in the whipped cream will keep it from going runny so you could prepare these up to a day ahead)
For the filling
  1. In a small microwave safe bowl sprinkle the gelatin over the 4 tsp water and allow to sit for 2 minutes
  2. Microwave the mixture for about 15 seconds or until the gelatin is dissolved and is liquid
  3. Using an electric mixer whip the cream, vanilla, and confectioner’s sugar to soft peaks
  4. While the mixer is running on medium speed, slowly drizzle in the gelatin mixture and whip the cream until stiff peaks form

 

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19TH STRAWBERRY & WHIPPED CREAM BIRTHDAY CAKE – step by step guide to making a birthday cake

This year I had a small birthday bbq for my 19th birthday. I’m still not 19, a few more weeks and I will have completed my 19th year of life, but I wanted to have some friends over early to celebrate and eat cake. It’s not often that everyone is around on my birthday, especially because it is exactly in the middle of summer when everyone goes on holiday so I guess I get 2 celebrations, one with friends and one with my family on my actual birthday.

I was so excited to make the same cake as I had for my brother’s wedding because I think it may have become my favourite type of cake. I did cheat and use box cake mix but its oh so worth it, plus it cuts down some of the time it takes to make the cake, especially since there are extra steps. I made a white chocolate cake with fresh whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

Tip: I like to make the cake decorations at least 2 days before assembling the cake and bake the cakes one day before assembling. That way the cakes will be 100% cooled and there will be no chance of the frosting melting!

Scroll down to see some pictures and to get the recipe for the cake and the frosting!

Ingredients for the cake (makes 4 layers)

1 stick of butter cut into slices about 1 tbsp each

6oz of white chocolate chips

1 box of white cake mix (the

1 cup whole milk

3 large eggs

 

Steps

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F convection bake.

2. Place the butter and white chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water (bain-marie) and stir until both have melted. then set aside.

3. In a large bowl add the cake mix, the milk, the eggs, and then add the melted chocolate mixture.

4. With an electric mixer mix the cake batter on medium until smooth. It will have thickened and may have tiny lumps but that’s okay.

5. Divide the batter between 2 greased and lined cake pans and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

6. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 5 minutes and then turn them out to cool on a wire rack.

7. Trim the domes off the cake and wrap in clingfilm (saran wrap) before popping them into the freezer for at least 2 hours.

8. Cut each cake in half to make 2 layers of cake from each one (you will now have 4 layers total).

 

Ingredients for the stabilized whipped cream filling

2 tsp unflavoured gelatin

8 tsp cold water

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 packages of strawberries washed and cut into half (this is for the assembly)

 

Steps

1. In a small bowl sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and set aside.

2. Whip the cream and the confectioner’s sugar until it begins to thicken.

3. Microwave the gelatin mixture for about 10 seconds or until liquidy.

4. While mixing on high, slowly drizzle the gelatin into the whipped cream.

5. Whip until stiff peaks and then store in the fridge in an airtight container.

Ingredients for the swiss meringue buttercream

6 egg large whites at room temperature

1 1/3 cups white sugar

4 sticks salted butter at room temperature

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 

Steps:

1. Over a bain-marie, combine the egg whites and sugar and mix until the mixture reaches 140°F (if you don’t have a thermometer this will be when the sugar is completely dissolved and it will be pretty hot to the touch, be very careful not to cook the egg whites).

2. Remove the egg white mixture from the bain-marie and with an electric mixer on high, whip until stiff peaks.

3. Once the egg whites and sugar have reached stiff peaks (the bowl should be able to be turned over and the meringue will not move or fall out).

4. With the mixture on medium, slowly add the butter 1 tbsp at a time. Whip for about a minute after adding the last piece of butter.

5. If the mixture looks like it has separated at the end of mixing, the butter may have been too cold, so to fix this, return the frosting to the bain-marie until it begins to look a little melted around the bowl. Remove from the heat and whip until stiff peaks.

Assembling the cake

1. On the cake stand put 1 layer of cake.

2. spread about a cup of the whipped cream all the way to the edges of the cake layer. The whipped cream filling should be about 1 cm thick.

3. Press the strawberry halves into the cream filling.

4. Repeat steps 1-3 for all the layers.

5. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes.

7. Frost the crumb coat (a very thin layer of frosting on the cake to stick all the crumbs to the cake).

8. Let the crumb coat set in the fridge for 10 minutes.

9. Apply the final layer of frosting (I tinted half of the remaining frosting a very very pale blue and the other half a slightly darker blue and put the darker blue on the bottom and turned the cake standing while holding my frosting knife still to blend the colours. I also piped a geometric design on the bottom of the cake using royal icing.)

10. Finish with the decorations and serve!

 

 

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TIRAMISU TRIFLE: A DELICIOUS COMBINATION

It’s actually called a Triferrystrawbisu! I would have used this name as the title but you wouldn’t be able to find it on the search engine, because guess why, we made it up!

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While the name might look crazy, my friend from England and I created this recipe when she came over to visit. After buying fruits at the store and picking our own cherries, we had so much fruit that we didn’t want to let go to waste and so we came up with a plan. Because tiramisu usually doesn’t have fruits in it, we decided that we would combine a tiramisu with a trifle and get the best of both worlds. We couldn’t find a recipe using cherries, strawberries and blackberries in a tiramisu, so we created our own guess-and-hope-it-turns-out-well version. #toughdecisions. Along the way, were numerous mishaps with the mascarpone cheese, but there was always a way to fix it, a way that everyone should know if something were to go wrong. My friend was telling me that everytime she wanted to make something it turned out as a disaster, for example her half raw, half burned mug-cakes. I was so determined that this tiramisu trifle would be the best ever, that if there was a problem, we had to find a way to fix it. So keep scrolling to find out our solutions to a kitchen nightmare and how we made this show stopper!

 

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Makes about 20 generous servings
Ingredients
2 1/2 cups strong brewed coffee, room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 packages margherite cookies or ladyfingers
4 tablespoons Kahlúa, divided (one half for the whipped cream, one half for the coffee)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 large package vanilla pudding mix
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 – 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 punnets strawberries, washed, dried, and halved
2 cups pitted cherries, washed, dried and halved
A few blackberries, washed and dried for garnishing
Glacé or maraschino cherries for garnishing
Pitted cherries with the stems for garnishing
Directions

1. In a large bowl, mix the coffee, instant coffee granules, and 2 tablespoons of the Kahlúa, set aside

2. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the mascarpone cheese until light and fluffy

3. Beat in the vanilla and Kahlúa

4. Whip the 2 cups of heavy whipping cream and add to the mascarpone mixture one-third at a time, folding with a rubber spatula to combine

5. Make the pudding according the packet

6. Whip the last cup of whipped cream and fold into the vanilla pudding one-third at a time

TIP:
USING MASCARPONE WAS STRESSFUL, NOT KNOWING THAT IT WOULD CURDLE IF EVERYTHING WASN’T AT ROOM TEMPERATURE. IF IT DOES CURDLE PUT THE MIXTURE OVER A BAIN-MARIE AND STIR CONSTANTLY UNTIL SMOOTH. I DID THIS WHEN IT CURDLED AFTER ADDING THE KAHLÚA AND VANILLA, AND AFTER ADDING THE WHIPPED CREAM, SO DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT IF THE MIXTURE CURDLES, YOU CAN FIX IT!

 

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Layering the Triferrystrawbisu

1. Put one layer of ladyfingers on the bottom of the trifle bowl

2. Using a pastry brush brush the ladyfingers with the coffee mixture until they are soft but not soggy

3. Spread a layer of the mascarpone mixture over the cookies

4. Add the halfed strawberries around the edge of the bowl, pushing the cut side against the side of the bowl

5. Layer halved cherries on the mascarpone

6. Dust with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh sieve

7. Repeat step 1 to 6 until the trifle bowl is half-way filled

8. Finish layering the bowl with the vanilla pudding mixture in place of the mascarpone so the layers go ladyfingers, coffee mixture, pudding mixture, strawberries around the edges, cherries in the middle, and then cocoa powder.

9. Chill, (and hang out haha) and refrigerate the tiramisu trifle for at least 3 hours and then enjoy!

TIP:
The reason why we originally did this was because our trifle bowl was only filled to the middle, but this will also be a good idea when you want to be able to serve kids as well, the top half will be the kids, and the bottom half will be a treat with Kahlúa for the adults.
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20TH BIRTHDAY CAKE!

I love baking cakes, and usually plan to bake the cake before the day it is being served and decorating on the day.

My sister just turned 20! She loves to do make up, so I thought – why not make a birthday cake with a Sephora makeup theme – her favorite! It wasn’t a total surprise for her as she came back from college much sooner than I thought. Thankfully I hadn’t put on the decorations yet and it was just a cake covered in marshmallow fondant that I thought looked really ugly. I ended up tearing off the fondant, and giving it a new coat of chocolate buttercream frosting. The second round look was much better!

Sephora cake

Serves 15 inch-thick slices
INGREDIENTS
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon instant coffee granules
2 large eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup of boiling water
To make the decorations:

Make black marshmallow fondant by following a marshmallow fondant recipe. When the marshmallows are melted add cocoa powder, 1/4 cup at a time, until it is a dark brown colour, then add black food colouring, and begin adding the powdered sugar, then continue to follow the recipe.

To bake the cake:
Tip: START 1 DAY AHEAD

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF convection bake

2. Grease and flour 4, 9-inch cake pans with a removable base (you can use one cake pan like I did, but you just have to wait for each cake to bake, then remove from the oven, cool slightly, and then re-grease and flour the pan)

3. In a large bowl mix together the cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and instant coffee granules

4. Add the eggs, vanilla and vegetable oil and mix until the batter is smooth

5. While mixing, slowly add in the boiling water, about 1/8th cup (2 tablespoons) at a time

6. Divide the batter into 4 and pour each portion into the prepared pans

7. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake, comes out clean

8. Allow the cakes to cool, then level them and brush a simple syrup (1/2 cup water + 1/2 cup sugar brought to a boil) over each of the layers on the cut side

9. Wrap the cakes in clingfilm (plastic wrap) and freeze over night

To assemble the cake:

1. Put 1 tablespoon of the chocolate buttercream onto the cake board and put the first layer of cake on it (this is to hold the cake in place)

2. Spread a 1 cm thick layer of buttercream then put another layer of cake on it, repeat with the rest of the layers

3. Spread the buttercream over the whole cake

4. Add the decorations

5. Enjoy!

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Vanilla Birthday Cake

 

vanilla sponge

I really like the fluffiness of this cake and also I made it with my favorite Madagascar vanilla extract.

In my opinion, I think Madagascar vanilla tastes the best. However, you can use any type of vanilla – I don’t think it matters too much. I ended up making a birthday cake to send 1000 miles away to Nashville, TN, to my older sister in college. We needed something to put the cake in so we combed the supermarket aisle for a plastic tub but all the tubs we found were either too big or too small. Also, the way the flat rate postage system works, if we went for the larger container it meant we would have to pay around $45 to mail the little cake  – which I admit was far too expensive. So, the only option left was to get a smaller tub and sadly I had to re-bake the cake! In the end, the postage came up to only $16 and there was even room to fit a small packet of chocolate chip cookies!

I guess the moral of the story is – don’t put the cart before the horse!

Anyway, in the end my sister got the cake in the mail. It took two days to arrive and she said it tasted great. I’m glad it didn’t go stale as I had no idea what room temperature or condition the cake was stored during shipment. 

Makes 24 cupcakes, 36 mini cupcakes or a large 16 inch tin cake
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups (2 sticks) butter, softened
3 cups granulated sugar
5 eggs, room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup whole milk
½ cup buttermilk (1/2 whole milk plus 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, stirred and set aside)
2 teaspoons Madagascar vanilla extract
To make the cake:

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF convection bake

2. In a large bowl cream the butter whilst gradually adding the sugar

3. Add the eggs in one at a time and mix thoroughly before adding the next egg

4. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients

5. In another bowl combine the milks and vanilla extract

6. Add 1/3 of the milk mixture to the butter, sugar and egg mixture and mix well

7. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix well

8. Add the next 1/3 of the milk and mix well, occasionally scraping down the side of the bowl

9. Add the next 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix well

10. Mix in the last 1/3 of the milk mixture

11. Mix in the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients

12. Pour into a greased pan about 11×9 inch pan

13. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes

Decorating The Birthday Cake

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I baked the cake in a rectangular tin

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Then cut equal size round cakes with a sharp knife and paper templates I made

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I then stacked the cake rounds with chocolate buttercream to stick the layers together

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I used my favourite chocolate buttercream for the icing but you can use Nutella chocolate for that

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I covered the cake with a thin layer of chocolate frosting

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I made white modelling chocolate but you can buy ready made modelling chocolate

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I wrapped the entire cake with white modelling chocolate

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Decorating the cake was really fun! I didn’t plan anything on paper but it did have an idea of what I wanted it to look like!

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Ready for shipping
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Blackforest Cupcakes

Blackforest Cupcakes
ORIGINALLY a Cake, I decided to change it up a bit and make cupcakes!
Blackforest Cupcakes

Blackforest cake was traditionally a dessert for the holidays but I couldn’t resist having this beautiful cake in the summer. It’s time to satisfy my longing.

Makes 24 cupcakes and 36 mini cupcakes
Ingredients
For the cupcakes:
1 cup of water
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
1/3 cup of milk
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted or salted butter, softened at room temperature
2 cups of granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups of all – purpose flour
3/4 of a cup of Cocoa Powder
1 tsp of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
2 teaspoon of baking soda
For the cherry syrup:
2 -3 tablespoons of the juice from a jar of maraschino (glacé) cherries
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar (optional if cherry juice is not sweet enough)

For the frosting:

2-1/2 cups whipping cream
optional, 1-3 tablespoons confectioners (powdered) sugar
To make the cupcakes

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F convection bake

2. Bring the instant coffee, milk and water to a simmer and then take off the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes
3. In a large bowl cream the softened butter and the sugar with an electric mixer

4. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat in

5. Combine the dry ingredients

6. Add half of the coffee, milk and water mixture to the egg mixture, it might look separated or curdled but that’s okay, mix

7. Mix in half of the dry ingredients, then scrape the sides of the bowl

8. Mix in the remaining coffee mixture and scrape the sides of the bowl

9. Add in the remaining dry ingredients and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl

10. In a lined muffin pan fill each cupcake case about 2/3 full

11. Bake the cupcakes on the middle oven rack for 12-15 minutes

12. Let the cupcakes cool

13. Whip the whipping cream and powdered sugar

14. Brush some cherry juice onto the top of each cupcake

15. Using a piping bag and decorating mall round decorating tip, fill each cupcake with a small amount of whipped cream

16. Make a swirl of whipped cream on the top

17. Finish each cupcake with any decorations you like such as the maraschino (glacé) cherries and chocolate decorations

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Mary Berry’s Chocolate Mousse

Originally from a chocolate mousse enticements recipe.

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Mary Berry is my inspiration for baking, I love all of her recipes and thought I should share with you one of her recipes that I recently found. Chocolate mousse! This is the chocolate mousse from her double chocolate entremets. The sponge cake I made for the stripey coating was a disaster as every time I made this dessert, I forgot the butter. Well, the chocolate mousse I made for them couldn’t go to waste, so I ATE IT! Yum yum yum, it was delicious. You might want to double this recipe (even though it’s enough to serve 6 people). The chocolate entremets are filled half way with dark chocolate mousse and then filled with white chocolate mousse. Here is the recipe I followed and there’s a bonus, there is no added sugar apart from the semi – sweet chocolate! Serve this with fresh fruit or for a variation try adding orange extract when you add the butter.

Serves 3 – 6
Ingredients
150 grams semi – sweet chocolate chips
A knob of butter, about 1 teaspoon
2 free – range eggs, separated (you will need to wash them with a little soap and hot water as salmonella lives on the outside of eggs and these won’t be cooked for the mousse)
100 ml heavy whipping cream

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To make the Chocolate Mousse

1. Melt the chocolate in a bain – marie

  • See video how to do this

2. Add the butter, dont stir yet

3. When the butter has melted stir it in, the mixture will begin to thicken up but keep stirring until well combined

4. Mix in the egg yolks to the chocolate mixture, again it will go kind of runny and then thicken up

5. Remove from the heat

6. Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks, past when you think you are done whisking

7. Take 1/3 of the whisked egg whites and beat it into the chocolaty mixture to make it easier to fold in the rest

8. Fold in the rest of the egg whites in thirds

9. Whisk the whipping cream until stiff peaks but don’t over whisk, and fold into chocolate – egg white mixture

10. Refrigerate and Enjoy!

 

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RASPBERRY CUSTARD BITES

raspberry custard pudding
perfect individual portions

raspberry custard pudding

I lied about how easy this recipe is. Pastry making is an adventure. You need tools and skills, maps and a compass. You’d also need a good vacuum cleaner at the end of the day! But you don’t have to go through the rigmarole of making the dough yourself. If you’re like me,  you can always cheat: just buy ready to fill pastry cups or shells by Pillsbury or Pepperidge Farm. If you live in England, frozen ready rolled shortcrust pastry from Tesco or Sainsbury will do nicely!

 

Make the pastry baskets

1. Roll out the pastry into 1/16 in thick.

2. Cut out short lengths of 3 inches long and 1/4 inch width strips.

3. Weave the strips into roughly a square shape and trim the edges off as show below.

4. You might not get so many segments in as the diagram shows but that’s ok. Just get the right amount that suits you.

weave thin strips of pastry into a square

Diagram 1: weave thin strips of pastry

 

 

Prepare the muffin tin with parchment paper

1. Referring to the diagram below, use a muffin tin.

2. Cut out strips of parchment paper and place them across the holes.

3. Cut out circles of parchment paper to put on top of the strips.

4. This method (created by Charis) enables the lifting of the baskets out of the muffin tins easily when they are baked.

 

Diagram B: Prepare the muffin tin with parchment paper

Bake the baskets

1. Now, carefully lift up the squares of pastry and gently place them into the muffin tin.

2. Press the pastry gently into the muffin cups.

3. Then follow the instructions on the pastry packet to bake the little baskets.

4. When the baking is completed, gently lift the corners of the strips of paper to lift up the pastry cases and place them on a plate ready for the next step.

Fill the basket with custard cream

1. For the custard cream filling, buy the custard powder from the supermarket or even make it yourself with recipes from the internet.

2. And after the baskets are baked and cooled down, just pour in the custard cream and then decorate with raspberries, chocolate sticks and icing sugar.

3. For a special touch, sprinkle fine icing sugar dust all over the plate with a sieve. This dessert is definitely ideal for a small dinner party.

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Amazing Pears Cooked in Red Wine

pear-in-red-wine
What could be a better combination?!

pear-in-red-wine

You may be surprised to know that pears taste delicious in red wine. You probably won’t get your vitamin C in this wine dessert but you can assured of plenty of enjoyment and conversations during your dinner party.

 

pears in red wineCooked pears in wine syrup

The lovely red wine can be infused with winter warmer spices such as cinnamon sticks, lemon zest and star anise to create a festive appeal.  Serve it piping hot with scoops of vanilla ice cream – the contrast is just stunning!

 

Method
2 to 4 Firm pears with stalks
100 grams (4 oz) Sugar
450ml (3/4 pint or 2 cups) Red wine – nothing too grand or two sweet
1 – 2 Cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon Grated lemon rind
1 Lemon

 

Method

1. Peel the pears and slice off a bit of the bottom so the pears will stand upright in a sauce pan.

2. Put all the ingredients in the saucepan and gently heat up and bring to boil.

3. After 5 minutes, turn the heat down and let it simmer covered for 20 to 30 minutes until the liquid thickens into a syrup and pears soften.

4. Serve hot with ice-cream and fresh cream or even with a drizzle of hot chocolate fudge.