Banana & Prune Sticky Toffee Cakes

Makes 6

Ingredients

Banana & Prune Cakes

  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup pitted prunes, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 3 medium-size overripe bananas, mashed (1 cup)

Rum Toffee Sauce

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons Rum (or omit for a kiddy-friendly version)

Method

Banana & Prune Cakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease, or spray with baking spray, 6 mini-savarin or Bundt tins
  2. In a small heatproof bowl, pour orange juice followed by the boiling water over the chopped prunes; stir in the baking soda. Stir together to combine and set aside to soak for about 15-2 0minutes
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon and salt. Set aside until needed
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the brown sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 9-10 minutes
  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time until combined, followed by the honey
  6. Reduce speed to low, beat in the flour mixture until just combined
  7. Add the date mixture (including liquid) and bananas, and beat at low speed until just combined
  8. Divide the batter into the prepared mini-pans, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes

Rum Toffee Sauce

  1. With about 10 minutes left on the pudding baking time, in a small saucepan, combine the heavy cream, the butter, the brown sugar, and the rum.
  2. Bring to a gentle boil over moderate heat, stirring to melt the butter and sugar, cooking until slightly thickened and deep golden, about 3 minutes.
  3. Keep warm until serving

To finish

  1. Once you remove the cakes from the oven, using a skewer or toothpick, poke holes all over the exposed surface
  2. Spoon 4-5 teaspoons of the warm sauce over the cakes, and let stand until absorbed, about 10 minutes
  3. Serve warm*, turned out onto plates (they may take some gentle persuasion!) with the remaining sauce spooned over

*If your sauce sets or becomes too thick to pour, gently warm over a low heat until pourable and warm again.

Pumpkin Spice Toffee

A li’l bit late to the game but here we are- Pumpkin Toffee. Enough said.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups pecan pieces
  • 1 cup salted butter, chopped
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 1 tspn light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, divided
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Method

  1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat- the silicone baking mat being the better of the two. Set aside until needed later
  2. In a pan lightly toast pecan pieces for 7-8 minutes or until fragrant and lightly browned. Set aside on a plate until needed
  3. In a large heavy pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, add the water, 1 cup sugar, salt, corn syrup and pumpkin puree. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves, then brush down the sides of the pan with a water-moistened pastry brush. Attach a candy thermometer to the pan
  4. Now get comfortable- you’re going to be stirring a LOT. Constantly but gently stir the mixture until it reaches 290°F (143°C; soft crack stage). Be watchful– the temperature slowly rises in the beginning, but then moves quickly. I usually take mine off the heat when the toffee reaches 285°F (141°C), as it will continue to cook in the few seconds after
  5. Immediately remove the pan from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice and 1 cup toasted pecans. Pour the toffee out onto the prepared. lined baking mat. Your mixture should be thick and not spread all the way to the edges of the pan. Cool the toffee for 5-10 minutes
  6. In a microwaveable bowl melt the chocolate chips until smooth. I melt it in the microwave in 20 second increments, stopping and stirring after each
  7. Spread the melted chocolate on top of the toffee, then sprinkle with remaining pecan pieces and sprinkle over the remaining pumpkin pie spice
  8. Refrigerate toffee for 20 minutes or until the chocolate has set. Peel off the silicone baking mat and break toffee into pieces- sized to personal preference of course!
  9. Store toffee in an airtight container at room temperature in a cool dry place for up to 2 weeks

*If you notice the butter separating at any time during the cooking process, remove the pan from heat and beat vigorously (but carefully!) to bring the mixture back together

Toffee Apple Oat Cookies

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Toffee apples are a signature childhood treat. Whether they conjure memories of sparkling carnivals and fairgrounds, or bring back memories of briny seaside meanderings the gloriously sticky treat is always sure to bring a smile to faces young and old.

When I was growing up Toffee Apples were synonymous with day trips to the beach. I much preferred them to ice cream cones, which I thought were far too over rated and messy, not to mention deceivingly bland! My inclination was much more for the glossy crimson globule on a stick. I say crimson as that’s the kind I grew up with. These weren’t coated in a sweet layer of tawny caramel. The toffee apples of my childhood were instead dipped in a rouge sugar syrup at hard-crack stage which set to a glossy, glass-like layer ready to shattered under eager bites and reveal the juicy tart fruit beneath. You’ll have to forgive me for indulging verbosely here. Family jaunts to the seaside were few and far between and lingering triggers for them are particularly powerful. Needless to say it was a constant question to my younger self, ” This red stuff isn’t like any toffee I know so why are they called Toffee Apples?”. Such were the juvenile mysteries that plagued me.

Over time I learned that the red hard-crack layer was easier to make and maintain on site (and let’s face it probably cheaper too!) I learned that the gleaming red orbs of my youth were in fact correctly named, “Candy Apples” and Toffee Apples as should have a layer a sticky sweet toffee, in the more familiar shade of brown, as their dressing. But who was I to argue with a childhood full of sweet cochineal-fueled indulgence!

You can rest easy though. This recipe contains neither glassy red shards nor ruby bug extracts. You’ll of course know by now I have a weakness for oat cookies. And if they happen to be oat cookies that have been pimped up with a lil’ something then all the better. These are my homage to the classic Toffee Apple in all it’s beige, sticky goodness- albeit without the frustratingly wobbly perching on a ice-pop stick! As a combination themselves, outside of nostalgia, caramel and apple worked exceptionally well with oats, in my view. There’s something about the mellow combination of toffee and oats that instantly induces shoulder-slumping comfort & coziness. Chuck in some bites of apple and you introduce enough tart interest to compliment to earthiness of the other two. I’ll leave the beverage of choice to you – coffee, tea or dunking in to cold glass of milk. All are ideal and highly suggested.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups All Purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon fancy molasses
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole rolled oats
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup toffee pieces
  • 1 cup dried apple pieces, (or dried slices chopped)

Method

  1. Whisk the flour, cinnamon, apple pie spice, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside until needed
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until blended, about 5 minute, then increase to high speed and whip for another 5-6 mins
  3. In a jug combine the eggs, molasses, maple syrup, vanilla and whisk to combine.  Add to the butter mixture and beat for 3 minutes until combined. Scrape down the sides and beat again as needed to combine
  4. Add the dry ingredient mixture to the wet ingredients (I usually do it in 1/4 cup increments) and mix on low until combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the oats until well coating
  5. Next add in the toffee pieces and apple pieces. Mix well until fully combined. The final dough will be thick and sticky.
  6. Cover and chill the dough for at least 45 minutes in the refrigerator
  7. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats
  8. Use a medium cookie scoop (about 2 tablespoon size) to scoop the cookie dough on to the prepared baking sheets, placing 2 inches apart 9 (I usually fit 12 per sheet). Bake for 17 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. The centres will look soft.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely
  10. Cookies can be kept at room temperature in a sealed container for up to 1 week

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Living in the Black

If you follow my social media feeds (Twitter; Facebook and Instagram) you’ve probably noticed I’ve been posting a lot of recipes lately featuring the little known ingredient that is Black Garlic. Whilst it might conjure up not so pleasing images (and not to mention smells!) believe me it’s completely unfounded.
Courtesy of the team at Balsajo Original Black Garlic I’ve been experimenting on both the sweet and savoury fronts with some very tasty results indeed.

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If you haven’t heard of Black Garlic yet please, please don’ tbe put off by the name. Yes- it is garlic “…but not as we know it Jim“. Forget the hard, pungent, opalescent nuggets that give us one of the cornerstones of cooking. Black Garlic is instead a case of Kitchen Alchemy made true. By process of heat and humidity (and probably some trade secret) familar white garlic bulbs are transformed into dark, fragrant, nuggets of molasses-like jelly. Again I say stick with me here! Whilst some people might be quick lable it shrivelled and black (well I guess it is black- there’s no fighting nature there!) what you can do with this is practically limitless. I’ve tried using it as an ingredient in sweet and savory dishes (and some in between). Thus far it’s prooved to be a very versatile ingredient indeed. Soft and jelly-like in texture with a flavour which brings to mind treacle, molasses, truffle, and balsamic I definitely recommend getting some of this into your kitchen. Its available in some selected supermarkets and artisan food stores. The guys over at Balsajo Black Garlic have included a handy stockist locator on their website. 

I’ve been wanting to experiment with Black Garlic for a while in order to test the full breadth of it’s uses and here’s what I came up with:

Fennel Seed & Black Garlic Toffee

Originally this came about as some Twitter banter between myself and the wonderful Miss Kitty Hope (yes indeed, she of Hope and Greenwood – purveyors of all things fantastical and sweet!)- but more about that later. We nattered about bacon in sweets/ bakes and somehow ended up challenging each other to creating something with a none-too-common ingredient and so black garlic was suggested. The resulting Black Garlic & Fennel Seed Toffee is a sweet, creamy toffee with a subtle hint of anise from the Fennel Seed and the treacley flavour of the black garlic adding to the creaminess. Surprisingly moreish- even if I do say so myself!

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Blueberry, Balck Garlic & Corriander Traybake

I needed to try the dark beauty of black garlic in a bake. Well- I wouldn’t be Mr. Mom’s without baking something now would I? Blueberry and corriander is a little known combo that works really well. The citrus notes of corriander seed boosting the flavour of the fruity blueberries. Topping the traybake with a limoncello buttercream frosting added an indulgent alcoholic kick (okay I’ll admit it I thought they were sounding just a little too healthy!). The addition of some chopped black garlic baked into the sponge mellows what otherwise might have been citrus overload and layers in nicley with the graduation from mellow to citrus kick.

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The adapted recipe in cupcake form was featured in my stint on the Mel & Sue show and you can find the recipe here.

Mel & Sue Cupcakes

Black Garlic & Chilli Oatcakes

So enough with the sweet things I thought. How about a savoury bake? My husband and I are chalk and cheese; oil and water; Yin and Yang when it comes to tastes. Whilst I am a complete an utter sweet-tooth advocate, he’s marches firmly to be beat of the Umami drum. I’ll have pudding and he’ll have cheese. Ah hah! And so I had my next experimental idea for black garlic. The treacley earthiness of the black garlic combines well with the mellow oatiness of these biscuits, before a subtle kick of heat comes in from the chilli. I tried them with a fabulous Epoisses  cheese, while my other half couldn’t get enough of them with a mature cheddar. They’ve definitely been added to my “Must Bake Again” list!

BG Oatcakes

Black Garlic & Matcha Green Tea Cupcakes

As I mentioned earlier on, this trip through the looking glass into the Land of Black Garlic happened because of some rather impromptu Twitter banter between myself and my new BFF Miss Kitty Hope. We challenged each other (I rather foolhardily) to create a bake, or sweet….or something (?) with  an unusual ingredient. I threw black garlic into the ring and Miss Hope picked up the gauntlet. The “competition” was facilitated by the team at Taste PR and kindly judged by the incredible Lily Jones (of Lily Vanilli). My black garlic & Matcha green tea cupcakes draw inspiration from the Asian background of black garlic and combine a number of Oriental flavours. The complete offering was a Matcha green tea & black garlic sponge, with Plum Wine spiked frosting, topped with a Matcha green tea, black garlic & black sesame seed marshmallow, and a candied black garlic clove “dart”. Rather incredibly (and very much to my surprise!) Lily decided on my cupcakes as a winner. I do however have to give kudos to Miss Kitty for providing some rather excellent and challenging competition (not to mention some hilarious Twitter “reading”!)

BG Cupcakes

 

So enough preaching the wonders of black garlic. As they say, “The proof is in the pudding”…or rather in this case- the toffee. I in no way intend to compete with the skilful mastery of confection that Hope & Greenwood have but I will freely admit to Miss Kitty Hope being the inspiration behind my Black Garlic & Fennel Seed Toffee. After all without her initial challenge in my Twit-stream I’d never have ventured into the realm of boiled sugar at all. So if you’re feeling up for it and fancy a little black garlic experimentation why not try you’re hand at making…

Black Garlic & Fennel Seed Toffee (aka Miss Kitty’s Challenge)

Ingredients:

500g caster sugar

125g salted butter

1 tbsp treacle

3 tbsp golden syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

397g tin condensed milk 90ml water

1 tbsp fennel seeds

5 cloves black garlic, chopped

 

You’ll need:

A deep sided pan

A sugar thermometer

A silicone tray, or a baking parchment lined & greased tray

 

Method:

– In a deep pan, place the butter, sugar, treacle, golden syrup and water into a pan and heat, stirring constantly.

– Once all the ingredients are well mixed and melted, add the condensed milk slowly, stirring occasionally until it boils.

– Continue at a steady boil until the mixture reaches the “Hard crack” stage on a sugar thermometer, again stirring occasionally. Test that the toffee is ready by dropping a spoonful into cold water – if it turns solid, it is ready.

– Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the fennel seeds and black garlic. (Note: The black garlic may clump together as it’s quite sticky. Separate into smaller pieces as you as you add to the toffee mixture.)

– Pour into the prepared tray.  Allow to cool for about 6-7 minutes then score into regular sized pieces with a sharp knife.

– Once fully cooled break along the score lines into pieces.

– The toffee can be wrapped in baking parchment or greaseproof paper and stored in an air-tight container.

 

If you try my toffee recipe I do hope you enjoy and meantime,

“Remember Mom’s the word- that’s Mr. Mom’s!”