Almond Caramel Apple Shortcakes

Today’s post is proudly inspired by Mary Berry.


If you’ve never heard of her, firstly, do you live under a rock? Secondly, I’d like you to Google the Great British Bake-Off. I’ll give you a moment to catch up with the rest of the world before coming back to this post. Are we all on the same page now? Good, let’s continue.



Last week my mum and I were watching her cooking show, Mary Berry Cooks, this particular episode being about summer entertaining and afternoon tea. In case you missed it: last week I hosted a Wimbledon afternoon tea party that included this cake. I opted to make one large strawberry shortcake but Mary Berry chose to make several smaller scones to make serving (and thus eating and clean-up) easier. As someone who had heaps of cream dropped over the table, chairs and floor next week, I can testify that making individual shortcakes is a superior method- plus they still look just as appetising.




I paid tribute to Wimbledon with the classic strawberries and cream last week, so I decided that this week would belong to a different combination- apples, cinnamon and caramel. Trust me, it will not disappoint you.



What are some of your favourite flavour combinations? I’m looking to be more adventurous in my recipe testing and I’d love to hear from some of you!

Almond Caramel Apple Shortcakes

Ingredients

For the scones:

  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar + extra for dusting the scones
  • 2 tsp baking powder*
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup (8 tbsp) cold butter, grated like cheese or cut into small cubes
  • ¾ cup buttermilk, cold
  • 1 egg (optional, the recipe still works well without it)
  • a handful of crushed slivered almonds, optional

For the apples:

  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, sliced thinly
  • 4 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup whipped cream
  • 2 tsp icing sugar, optional

For the caramel sauce: 

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp fresh cream
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence

Method

  1. Start by baking the scones. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350F°. Grease a large rimless baking sheet and like with parchment paper.
  2. Sieve the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and toss to combine. Add the butter to the dry mixture and use our hands to rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles a dry coarse sand.
  3. Whisk the buttermilk and egg (if using)  together in a large measuring cup or a small bowl, making sure there are no streaks of egg yolk remaining. Reserve about a tablespoon of this mixture for brushing the scones.
  4. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Be careful not to overmix. The dough should be slightly wet but not so much that it is sticking to your hands. If the dough is too wet then add flour, one tablespoon at a time until it holds together.
  5. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and use your hands to press it into a large circle, about 2 cm/¾ inch thick. Use a cookie cutter or a small glass to cut the dough into scones. Gather any remaining scraps of dough and mould them together to make one huge scone.
  6. Add the cut scones and your scrap-scone to the prepared baking sheet. Brush with the reserved egg/buttermilk mixture before topping with the granulated sugar and almonds. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are just starting to turn golden brown. Allow to cool at room temperature before serving.

Prepare the filling:

  1. Whilst the scones are baking, core the apples and cut into thin slices. In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon. Toss with the apples, making sure to coat them in the lemon juice. Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Prepare the caramel. Add the brown sugar to a small saucepan on medium-low heat. Allow the sugar to melt, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula to prevent it from burning. Once the sugar has melted completely and you have a smooth dark brown liquid, pour in the fresh cream. The mixture will sputter and spurt and that’s okay. Cut the butter into the hot brown sugar and stir until it’s completely melted. You should have a smooth, golden brown caramel. Stir in the vanilla essence and a pinch of salt, if desired.
  3. Once the scones have cooled, cut them in half. Layer first with sliced apple, followed by whipped cream and finally topping with warm caramel. If desired, you may dust with icing sugar. Enjoy!
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Ooey Gooey Warm Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough 

To be honest with you, this was totally not planned. It just happened, you know?


It was a glorious Thursday afternoon and I had just come home from a 5k run. After taking a quick dip in the pool, I decided to dig through the fridge to find something to replenish my energy. A bowl of quinoa and lentils later, I felt like a goddess. To be completely and utterly honest with you all, this is not me everyday. The girl who exercises diligently and eats nutritiously? That’s me, occasionally. Sometimes I get out of bed at 10 and subsist on potato crisps. Other days I thrive on green smoothies and noodle bowls. It’s called balance.


To balance out the extremely healthy lunch I had, I decided to go for a snack. That snack in particular was cookie dough. You see, I visited England a couple of years ago, and no trip is complete without a trip to Pizza Hut. A gazillion bottomless sodas later, it came time to order dessert. The warm chocolate chip cookie dough looked irresistible and I promise you, it was everything I could have ever wanted and more. It’s absolutely genius, underbaking your cookies such that the top is a hard cookie shell, and the bottom is warm, gooey, decadent cookie dough. I think it’s simply marvellous and it is for this reason that I have decided to share this with you today.

Ooey Gooey Warm Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cookie dough, homemade or storebought
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips (omit if you have chocolate chip cookie dough on hand)
  • ¼ cup Smarties or any other chocolate candy
  • Vanilla ice cream and hot fudge sauce for serving

Method

Grease 4 ramekins and preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F. Prepare your cookie dough and add to a medium bowl. Add the chocolate chips and the Smarties and use a rubber spatula to fold into the dough, making sure the candies are evenly distributed. Add ½ cup of cookie dough to each ramekin and bake 8 minutes, or until the dough has risen and is just starting to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for 2 minutes before topping with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge sauce. Indulge immediately!

Super Fudgy Chocolate Brownie Christmas Cookies

These cookies are just #christmasgoals #cookiegoals #lifegoals, just GOALS. These came about by complete accident and I can honestly say that I am nothing but grateful.


2 weeks ago, I was sitting in my friend’s kitchen when I was possessed by a serious craving for cookies. Any kind of cookie: chocolate chip, ginger, even a raisin cookie would have been enough. I just needed a cookie. So we went digging in his pantry for some cookie ingredients and all he could come up with was a Pillsbury’s Chocolate Muffin Mix. Determined not to give up, we fudged a couple of measurements until we had a cookie-like consistency. Hopeful as ever, we shaped them into cookies and sat for what seemed like the longest 20 minutes in history. And by some miracle, we had created the most luscious cookies the world had ever seen. Desperate to recreate the miracle of the Drysdale kitchen, I dug deep into chocolate brownie recipes in the hope of having an official recipe for them.


2 weeks later, I struck gold with this masterpiece. These cookies are everything you could ever want and more- they have all the fudginess of brownies whilst maintaining the crunchiness associated with cookies. They are chocolatey enough to satiate your sugar needs but aren’t too sweet so your gran can devour them at Christmas too!


This recipe makes a large batch for you to distribute these over the festive season (if you don’t end up scoffing them all yourself like me) so go out and spread that Christmas cheer with these cookies!
Super Fudgy Chocolate Brownie Cookies                                                     makes about 30 

Ingredients

¾ cup margarine

50 g unsweetened cooking chocolate, roughly chopped

1 and ½ cups castor sugar + ½ cup dark brown sugar (you can just use plain castor sugar but the brown sugar really helps to bring out the fudginess)

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 tbsp instant coffee granules, dissolved in 2 tbsp water (optional but the coffee really brings out the chocolate flavour)

1 and ½ cups cocoa powder

2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 cup chocolate chips

Optional: nonpareils for decorating e.g. hundreds and thousands (Inused chocolate mint flavour)

Method

In a large bowl, combine the butter and chocolate. Microwave in 20 second increments, whisking after each blast, until completely melted (it took me 40 seconds). Whisk in the castor sugar and brown sugar before cracking in the eggs and adding the vanilla essence and coffee. Whisk until fully combined.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder and salt into the wet ingredients. Use a rubber spatula to fully incorporate it all. The batter will be slightly sticky. Fold in the chocolate chips. At this point, you can refrigerate the dough overnight. I know it’s a pain to wait to have cookies, and you’re perfectly welcome to skip this step but I would highly recommend chilling the dough for 8 hours.

Grease 2 baking sheets and line with parchment paper. Use a cookie scoop/tablespoon to portion the cookie dough onto the baking sheets, making sure to leave at least 3 cm of space in between adjacent cookies. These do spread quite a bit during baking. Sprinkle with extra chocolate chips/non pareils. To get the green cookies, I rolled the cookie dough in mint chocolate nonpareils. Bake in an oven preheated to 180°C/350°F for 10-15 minutes. Remove and let cool before devouring.

It’s better to underbake these than overbaking because then you’ll end up with a chewy cookie rather than a crunchy one. But hey, if you’re into crunchy cookies then increase the heat to 200°C/400°F. Also, these cookies are at their prime when they’ve been slighly underbaked. Happy munching!

Caramel Apple Buttermilk Scones

Now I know what you’re thinking: scones are what Victorian ladies had at high tea back in 1907 and they have no place in today’s modern society. Well I’m here to tell you that scones can be cool too. Especially when you load the dough with apples and drizzle them in a yummy caramel sauce. WINNING.

Caramel Apple Buttermilk Scones

Ingredients

Scones: 

3 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp cinnamon

¾ cup castor sugar

1 cup buttermilk

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 Granny Smith apple, diced

 Caramel: 

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup fresh cream

4 tbsp butter, cut into cubes

1 tsp vanilla essence

pinch of sea salt

Method 

Make the scones

  1. Preheat you oven to 180°C/350°F. Line two 9×13 inch baking pans with parchment paper. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarb, cinnamon and sugar into a large bowl and stir to distribute. Make a well in the centre and add the buttermilk, egg and vanilla essence. Use a rubber spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet, and stop mixing when just incorporated. Add the chopped apples and stir gently. Be careful not to overmanipulate the dough.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and pat it into an 8 inch circle. Use a sharp Chef’s knife to cut it into 8 parts (like a pizza). Transfer the scones to the baking pans, leaving them a distance of 2 inches apart (they spread A LOT). Bake for 25 minutes then remove from the oven and let cool.

Make the caramel:

Add the brown sugar, butter and fresh cream to a saucepan over medium heat and warm together, stirring constantly until combined and is a deep golden colour. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla essence and salt. Store in glass jar and refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be kept sealed airtight in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and reheated in the microwave when needed.

Assembly:

When the scones have cooled, drizzle the caramel over them. Serve immediately! Can be kept up to 2 days in a sealed airtight container.

Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Gutentag to all you lovelies out there reading this! Today I bring you these chewy chocolate chunk cookies, and I dare you to try saying that 3 times fast.

Everybody has a different idea of what their ideal chocolate chip cookie looks like. If you’re my dad, then you want thin, crunchy cookies. If you’re my brother, then you’re going to want them thick and gooey. And if you’re my mother, then you have a headache. Just when you thought all hope was lost, this banger of a recipe shows up to reunite your cookie conflicted household. These cookies have a rich butterscotch flavour, chewy texture and banging taste. A glass of milk on the side makes these even more delectable.


Allow me a brief moment to discuss what exactly makes these chewy chocolate chunk cookies just so incredibly fantastic. This recipe does not call for you to mix two different types of sugar; it’s all brown sugar for double the butterscotch flavour. Refrigerating the dough overnight makes for an even more intense flavour, but I know that ain’t nobody got time for that. These can be baked straight away, or if you aren’t in a rush then I seriously recommend that you leave this in the fridge overnight. The best part about these is the dark chocolate pieces that will take your taste buds to paradise.


There is a serious shortage of chocolate chips in Zimbabwe right now. I’ve been to about 5 stores in the past 2 weeks and I’ve been told the same thing over and over again, “We haven’t had them in about a month”. The restrictions on various imported goods has meant that certain items such as coconut milk and the beloved chocolate chips haven’t found themselves in stores recently. But fear not fellow Zimbos! For in times of crisis, we make a plan. Case in point: we chop a bar of dark chocolate into little pieces and call them chocolate chunk cookies. Problem solved. The fact that all the chocolate pieces are different sizes ups the wow factor of these cookies by 387629. It’s a mathematical fact, I totally calculated it.


Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies                                                 makes 9 cookies

Ingredients

½ cup butter at room temperature

½ cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 ½ cups + 2 tbsp self-raising flour

¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

A pinch of salt

1 cup chocolate chips/chopped chocolate

Method

  1. Grease a 9×13 baking pan and line it with baking paper. In a medium mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Crack eggs into the bowl, one at a time, making sure to mix well after each addition. Add the vanilla essence and mix well.
  2. Measure out the flour and add it to the wet ingredients, followed by the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Use a paddle brush to incorporate, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to get every little bit of goodness in there. Stir in ¾ cup of the chocolate pieces and mix until they are evenly distributed throughout the dough.
  3. Using a cookie scoop/ice cream scoop/tablespoon, shape the dough into cookies and spoon them into the baking sheet. I used about 2 tablespoons of dough per cookie*Leave about 2 cm of space between each cookie.  After you’ve scooped all the dough and formed cookies, sprinkle the last ¼ cup of chocolate pieces over the cookies. **Refrigerate for 24 hours. This step is optional but vital in order to obtain that intense butterscotch flavour.
  4. About 10 minutes before you plan on baking, remove the cookies from the fridge and let sit at room temperature whilst you preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF. Bake for about 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes at room temp before moving to a wire rack to let cool further. Serve with a tall glass of milk.

Notes:

*These cookies spread quite a bit and end up being quite large as a result, so if you would like smaller cookies then I suggest using 1 tablespoon. You would also have to reduce the baking time to 9 minutes.

**Refrigerating is completely optional but keep in mind that the cookies will spread even more, and you’ll lose a bit of the butterscotch flavour. You can keep these in the fridge for up to 48 hours before baking, or you could even freeze them for 24 hours before baking.

Chocolate and Vanilla Cantuccini (Variation of Biscotti) with Hot Chocolate

Fun fact: Italian food is my favourite kind of food.

We’re still getting to know each other here and I just felt like you should know that. I love the fact that there are 101 things to do with pasta, there is always a gelato to compensate your mood and the coffee is black enough to match the colour of my soul. Beautiful.

 Another fun fact- biscotti means twice baked. And that’s exactly what we are going to do to these babies. I felt a bit reluctant to call these biscotti though, because biscotti just refers to any ordinary biscuit. And this is no ordinary biscuit. Cantuccini is a more appropriate name, because of the shape of these biscuits, perfect for dunking in your wine/hot chocolate.

This biscuit is fearless, it can take anything you throw at it. Chocolate chips, almonds, dried cranberries, you name it. You can virtually do anything you like with this recipe as long as the core ingredients remain the same.

Biscotti on biscotti on biscotti
Jenga with biscotti

The reason why I decided to bake these is that I was missing those cold winter afternoons I spent in Tignes, drinking hot chocolate and laughing my head off. Then I decided, I could recreate the biscotti and the hot chocolate…. but the one thing you can’t recreate is the moment. Not only am I sweltering in this 34 °C Zimbabwean heat, nothing beats having the same company around.

Luckily for us, that hole can be filled by eating more biscotti.

 


Cantuccini is traditionally served with Vin Santo, a sweet dessert wine. But seeing as I’m still underage and grossly deficient in funds, we’ll just have to contend with this wicked hot chocolate. Yes, it may be 34 degrees outside, but I am forever freezing and so will continue to sip my hot chocolate whilst pretending not to see you judge me.

The recipes for the chocolate and vanilla cantuccini are essentially the same, difference being that one has cocoa powder and the other has vanilla essence. This recipe is easily manipulated, you can leave out the chocolate chips, substitute the almonds for hazelnuts or chopped pine nuts, it is really all about catering to your taste! Please note below that there are 2 recipes, but only one method because it is essentially the same. I’ll be sure to post a lot more variations of this recipe just to give y’all some ideas 🙂

To make this mini chocolate fondue, all you have to do is melt 50g of chocolate and about a tbsp of milk together, add 2 tbsps of Nutella and mix to combine.

Chocolate Cantucci                                                                           makes about 15

Ingredients 

1 cup self raising flour

¼ cup cocoa powder

½ cup castor sugar

1 tsp salt

½ cup chopped almonds

2 eggs

Handful of chocolate chips

Vanilla Cantuccini                                                                            makes about 15

Ingredients 

1 cup self raising flour

½ cup castor sugar

1 tsp salt

½ cup chopped/flaked almonds

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla essence

Handful of chocolate chips (optional)

Method

  1. Start by taking out two bowls of medium size, one for the chocolate and one for the vanilla cantuccini
  2. Sift the flour, castor sugar, salt and cocoa powder (for chocolate cantuccini) into a bowl and mix until combined. Add the almonds
  3. Make a well in the centre and crack the eggs into the centre and add the vanilla essence (for the vanilla cantuccini) Stir until incorporated and it forms a wet dough
  4. Shape the separate doughs each into a loaf, thats about 8 inches long, 9 inches wide and 2 inches high. Place in a greased baking dish and bake in an oven at 180ºC for 20 minutes or until the dough is firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and stand on a counter for 20 minutes until cooled. Using a serrated bread knife, slice the loaf diagonally into cantuccini pieces, each about half an inch thick. Return the cantuccini pieces to the baking dish and bake a further 15 minutes.
  5. Cool and serve with hot chocolate. Store in a cool, dry place, these will keep for a couple of months.

Cinnamon Hot Chocolate 

Ingredients

50g of your favourite milk chocolate, chopped into small pieces

2 and ½ cups whole milk, and another 2 tbsp of milk

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp brown sugar

Method

  1. Fill a sauce pan about ¾ of the way to the top with boiling water and put it on the stove on low heat. Place a medium sized bowl over the lid of the sauce pan and add the chocolate and 2 tbsp of milk. Once the chocolate is mostly molten, but not completely molten, remove the bowl from heat. In another saucepan, boil the 2 and ½ cups of milk.

2. Stir the chocolate and milk together until combined. You will have a really thick chocolate paste. When the milk is on the verge of boiling, scoop the paste into the milk and continue to mix until all the paste has dissolved. Add the cinnamon and sugar and bring the hot chocolate to a boil. Pour into cups and serve.