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!
Advertisements

Vegan Sticky Praline Pull Apart Bread

As Easter is this week, I’ve felt inspired by all sorts of sweet breads and chocolatey desserts, it’s like Christmas- but in April! It has been a while since I’ve done any sort of homemade bread so this week, I decided to roll with this idea of praline. And boy, oh boy did it turn out to be a gem. 
I had a packet of pecans lying around that I had to use soon, and nothing beats ye olde combo of caramel and pecans. At this point, I had also started craving cinnamon rolls but there was no way that I would break apart these 2 culinary lovebirds with that common tart cinnamon. So, pecans and caramel, rolled up to look like cinnamon rolls? Sure, let’s go with that.

At the last minute I decided to use up the almonds that were hogging my shelf space, and as I had a jar of vegan caramel sauce in the fridge, I thought it might be fun to incorporate that too. And ta-da, the outcome was this masterpiece! Fresh out the oven, this could not be any closer to oven. Despite the use of caramel and extra brown sugar, this bread manages not to be overly sweet, and the use of buttermilk over regular milk makes it super soft. Do your family a favour and make this for Easter- I only advise you to make 2 batches as it probably won’t last long!


Vegan Sticky Praline Pull Apart Bread

For the vegan caramel sauce:

  • 1×14 oz can coconut cream (just leave a tin of coconut milk in the fridge overnight)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • ½ tsp salt

For the bread:

  • 2 cups vegan buttermilk (2 cups non dairy milk+2 tbsp vinegar)
  • 2 tsp dried active yeast
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 and ½ cups self raising flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup of the vegan caramel sauce

Method

Start by making the vegan caramel sauce:

In a medium saucepan, combine the coconut cream and brown sugar over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is at a rolling boil. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla essence and salt. Add to a glass jar and refrigerate for an hour. Will keep for a week in the fridge.

Then move on to the bread:

  1. Heat the buttermilk to about 30°C (or the recommended temperature on your yeast packet) and dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the warm buttermilk. Let sit for 10 minutes or until the mixture is bubbling and foaming.
  2. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl, make a well in the centre, and pour the buttermilk mixture and vegetable oil into the middle. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together then remove to a floured surface and knead until the dough is soft and elastic. If the dough is too sticky then add flour in, one tablespoon at a time until it holds. Set aside and allow to rest 30 minutes, whilst you prepare the filling.
  3. Add the pecans and almonds to a large roasting pan and roast at 200°C/400°F for 15 minutes, or until darkened and very fragrant. Allow to cool at room temperature before crushing to small pieces using either a food processor or a meat hammer. Add to a small bowl along with the brown sugar. Reserve a ¼ cup of this mixture for topping the dough.
  4. Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper. Once the dough has rested and you’ve prepared the filling, roll the dough out into a large rectangle about 9×13 (I just eyeballed it and made the dough slightly smaller than the baking pan). Spread the vegan caramel over the surface of the dough, leaving a ¾ inch border. Sprinkle the nut/sugar mixture over the surface of the dough in an even layer.
  5. Starting at the longer end, roll the dough into a long cylinder, as if you’re making cinnamon rolls. I would advise that you transfer the dough to the baking pan you’re using at this point. Use a paring knife or a pair of kitchen scissors to make incisions in the dough, every 1 inch. Be careful not to cut all the way to the bottom of the log. I just pulled and twisted any loose ends, but you don’t need to do any more as far shaping the dough goes.
  6. Once you’re done shaping the dough, sprinkle the extra brown sugar/nut mixture you’d set aside earlier over the dough. If desired, you can also drizzle any extra caramel sauce you have left over the dough. Bake the bread in an oven at 180°C/350°F for between 35 and 40 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Let sit for at least 10 minutes at room temperature before slicing and serving. Best served warm and on the same day that it’s baked.

Hasselback Apple Streusel Cake

What is better than warm apples, cold ice cream and sweet caramel sauce?

The answer: NOTHING. This cake combines all my favourite things into a glorious slice of heaven. It is absolutely beautiful, moist, filling and the crumble just takes it that extra mile. I’ve been in love with this cake since I made a variation of it 2 months ago with bananas. It had all the same themes here, crumbly streusel topping, smooth vanilla ice cream and a gorgeous caramel drizzle to seal the deal. I’d been meaning to make that cake again but unfortunately bananas are out of season! With this unforeseen obstacle ahead, I decided to use apples instead and the result was just as gorgeous. 


Even if you’re not a fan of all the toppings and  add ons, this cake is still beautiful in its natural state. It looks just as wonderful next door to my new ice cream scoop! All in all, this is a winning dessert, reminiscent of winter dinner parties or the holiday season. This cake is perfect for any family get togethers, dinner parties with friends or even when you’re sitting at home with a glass of Chardonnay.

img_2742-1


Hasselback Apple Streusel Cake
Ingredients

For the apples:

  • 3-5 Golden delicious apples
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp castor (granulated) sugar

For the cake:

  • ½ cup softened butter
  • ¾ cup castor sugar
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • ¼ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 and ¾ cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½  tsp salt

For the streusel: 

  • ½  cup uncooked rolled oats
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½  cup softened butter

optional: caramel sauce and ice cream for serving

Method

  1. Halve the apples before using a sharp paring knife to slice the apple thinly, making sure not to go all the way to the bottom. It’s okay if you make a mistake, don’t discard any apple slices you end up with. Each slice should be about half a centimetre thick. This is called hasselbacking the apple. If desired, you can quarter the apples so that they aren’t as chunky in the cake. Toss the apples in a small bowl with the lemon juice and sugar and set aside.
  2. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease a 10 inch springform pan.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Crack the eggs into the bowl one by one, stirring well after each addition. Add the vanilla essence and buttermilk and stir until combined.
  4. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl and use a rubber spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet. The batter will be very thick. Scrape the batter into the greased springform pan and use the back of a spoon to level it out. Press the hasselbacked apples into the dough, and scatter any stray apple pieces you may have over the surface. Set aside.
  5. Prepare the streusel by combining the oats, flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and mixing together. Add the butter and use your hands or a fork to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until you have a crumbly dough.
  6. Sprinkle the streusel over the cake batter in an even layer. Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes in the preheated oven, the cake is done when the streusel is a deep golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving. This is best served warm with caramel sauce and ice cream. Lush!

Excuse me while I steal a slice of heaven!

Chocolate Lover’s Fudge Brownie Cheesecake

Have I lost my mind? Maybe so. I’ve been buried 6 feet deep in chocolate dreams and I was itching to manifest my daydreams of hot fudge sauce and creamy mousse into an actual dish.


So after many hours of scouring Pinterest and Instagram, I finally came up with this. I had felt so inspired by this recipe for Seriously Fudgy Homemade Brownies by Sally’s Baking Addiction and I just knew that I had to try them. I fell in love with this recipe and decided that it would be the starting point for the massive project idea I was working on.

I knew I wanted something with the texture of a mousse but I felt like going for a chocolate mousse would be too much and an icing wouldn’t be enough. And thus the vanilla cheesecake idea came about. 


Most people would have stopped there and said “This is good. I have cheesecake. I have brownie. Uh brownie cheesecaaaaake!” Not me. Never. Always got to take it from 0-100. So I topped it with hot fudge sauce, brownies and more melted chocolate because TREAT YO’SELF. 



What even are New Years Resolutions? After this cake, I don’t even remember. This would make a decadent Valentines Day present for your boo-thang or even as a celebratory single cake for you and your girls on a night in! Grab a glass of milk, unbutton your jeans and fall into a heavenly chocolate bliss with this cake! 

Chocolate Lover’s Fudge Brownie Cheesecake
Ingredients

For the brownies:

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 100g of coarsely chopped cooking chocolate, divided in half
  • 1 and ½ cups castor sugar
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp espresso powder, dissolved in 3 tbsp water
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 and ¼ cups self raising flour
  • 1 tsp salt

For the cheesecake:

  • 16 ounces/430 g of full fat cream cheese at room temperature (this makes it easier to blend into the other ingredients and prevent lumps)
  • ½ cup castor sugar
  • ½ cup sour cream, may substitute plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs

For assembly: 

  • Hot fudge sauce
  • about 50g of dark chocolate, melted
  • grated dark chocolate for garnish

Start by preparing the brownies + brownie base

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly grease a 9 inch springform pan. Grease and line a 6×6 square pan with parchment paper.
  2. Add the butter and half the chopped chocolate to a large microwave safe bowl and microwave in 20 second increments, stirring after each round, until completely melted. Whisk in the sugar and stir until absorbed by the butter. Add the eggs, vanilla essence and dissolved espresso and stir until completely incorporated.
  3. Sieve in the cocoa powder, flour and salt and use a rubber spatula to fully blend together. Drop the remaining half of the chopped chocolate into the thick batter, and stir gently to distribute.
  4. Spoon half of the brownie batter in the springform pan and smooth into an even layer, using the back of a spoon. Spoon the remaining half into the square pan, making sure to also smooth it into an even layer. The batter in the springform pan will form the brownie base of the cheesecake whilst the brownies baked in the rectangular pan will be used for decoration.
  5. Bake in the preheat oven for between 20 and 25 minutes (mine takes about 23 minutes), or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs (it shouldn’t be wet). Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. The batter in the springform pan will be used for the base of the cheesecake and the ones in the rectangular pan will be used for decoration.

Then prepare the cheesecake layer:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Spoon the cream cheese into a large bowl and use a handheld electric whisk to beat until smooth, creamy and free of lumps, about 2 minutes. Beat in the castor sugar until blended, another 2 minutes. Pour in the sour cream and vanilla essence, then beat again. Crack the eggs in, one by one, whisking well after each addition. Be careful not to overmix the batter.
  2. Pour the cheesecake batter over the brownie base (it’s okay if it’s still warm, it doesn’t have to have cooled completely) and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until it appears to be set on the edges and dry to the touch. It’s okay if it’s a bit wobbly in the middle, it will continue to firm up as it cools.
  3. Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours before decorating.

For assembly:

  1. Spread the hot fudge sauce over the vanilla cheesecake layer, making sure to go right up to the edges.
  2. Remove the decoration brownies from the rectangular pan and cut into brownies. Layer them on top of the cheesecake.
  3. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cheesecake. If you’re feeling extra sweet, you can also drizzle caramel sauce over. Top with sparklers for a fun twist! Serve at room temperature and wow all your guests! If you have leftovers (Gasp!) then store them in a closed container in the fridge. The cheesecake will keep up to 5 days in the fridge and the brownies for a week at room temperature.

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.

Salted Caramel Iced Coffee

Coffee – the only reason why anyone ever gets up in the morning. My morning routine usually finds me reaching for a cup of black coffee to calm my nerves, and lately I have just been looking for a way to make it a little more interesting. Enter iced coffee. My first experience with iced coffee was terrible. I was honestly convinced I would never try it again. It was like 90% water, 5% coffee and 5% sugar. Gross. Needless to say, I haven’t ordered it since.

 

I had all but closed the chapter on iced coffee until I came across this beautiful photo of iced coffee taken by Amy Johnson. I was then convinced that I had to give iced coffee a second chance. I decided to do a few things differently this time, such as freezing brewed coffee to make ice cubes so that I didn’t end up with another situation of super watery coffee-like drink. I decided to shake things up a bit by bringing the salted caramel flavour into the mix. Ain’t no syrup like a homemade syrup.


And guys, I know this looks like a lot of unnecessary work for a drink but I PROMISE that this is worth every minute you spend in the kitchen. That doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to cut corners and just buy a bottle of caramel syrup on your next trip to the grocery store. I’m not at all saying you can’t do that. I’ll even turn away whilst you do it.


I was not at all disappointed when I eventually got round to making this. The flavour pallet is absolutely insane. Rich earthy caffeine undertones. Sharp sweet butterscotch taste. Ice cold and refreshing, this is one of those drinks that hits the back of your throat and you just die internally of happiness.

Salted Caramel Iced Coffee

Ingredients 

Chocolate coffee ice cubes:

1 cup brewed coffee, either instant or French press

2 tbsp cocoa powder

½ tsp vanilla essence

Iced Coffee: 

1 cup ground coffee beans or instant coffee

1 tsp ground cinnamon

a pinch of sea salt

7 cups cold/room temperature water

Salted Caramel Sauce: 

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup fresh cream

4 tbsp butter, cut into cubes

1 tsp vanilla essence

pinch of sea salt

Salted caramel syrup: 

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup water

3 tbsp salted caramel sauce 

Method

Make the chocolate coffee ice cubes:

Combine all the ingredients for the chocolate coffee cubes in a jug and stir well. Pour into moulds and freeze at least 2 hours.


Make the iced coffee:

Add the ground coffee, cinnamon and salt to a large pitcher and top with the water. Stir well and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or overnight. Strain the coffee into a large jug to remove the grounds from the mixture. If using instant coffee, you won’t need to refrigerate the coffee for as long, 2 hours at the least.

Make the salted caramel sauce:

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.

Make the salted caramel syrup: 

Dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in 3 tablespoons of the caramel sauce you just made. Transfer to a glass jar and let cool in the fridge. Can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

*ASSEMBLY:

  1. Start by preparing the glasses you’re going to serve this in by drizzling the leftover salted caramel sauce on the inside of the glasses to create a pattern. Freeze the glasses for about 10 minutes for the caramel to set.
  2. Once the glasses are ready, add 2-3 of the chocolate coffee ice cubes to the glass and pour the chilled coffee over. Add a tablespoon of the salted caramel syrup and stir with a long handle spoon. Serve immediately, with more salted caramel syrup and milk. You can even add condensed milk or maple syrup if you would like it sweeter.

*If you’re rushing to get to work/school in the morning, there’s no need to decorate anything; you can just add the chocolate coffee ice cubes to a flask before pouring the chilled coffee and caramel syrup over and stirring.


 This is a great way to start any morning.