I’m not going to give much preamble for this, since it’s a bit of a mammoth recipe, but definitely worth it, if you’re a fan of chocolate orange. All I am going to say is: take a deep breath; take one step at a time; and remember that it will all be worth it in the end… also, please ignore my appalling decorating skills. As my sister always points out, it’s just going to get eaten, anyway!
Chocolate Orange Cake
Note: this part is subjective. I’ve been told that I have a tendency to turn things into Jaffa Cakes, which for some reason is not always appreciated, hence the 2 tbsp limit, and there are people in my life who do not like chunky marmalade (I know that they are heathens, but they are not to be reasoned with). My point is that you can tailor this step to your own tastes. If you just want a mild glaze, then 1 tbsp might suit you better… or you can follow my example and melt an entire jar and just slather it on!
Note: the yoghurt cools this mixture very quickly and you can’t let it get too hard otherwise it will be difficult to spread, as the photo of my cake proves!
Orange Mousse Chocolates
Finely grate white chocolate over the top of the cake. Arrange the filled chocolates decoratively. Scatter candied orange peel for some colour. If you have any of the chocolate orange left, rather than throwing it away, fill moulds with it completely and add to the decorations! Go wild!
Rum spiked orange and cinnamon hot chocolate.
This is exactly what it sounds like: simple and delicious.
Take two slices of your favourite bread (if you’re looking for a pretty fab, Courtney’s approved recipe, then see our no-knead air fryer cider bread) and toast them lightly. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Spread a layer of apple chutney on each piece of toast and then cover thin slices of brie over the entirety of the toast. Place in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the brie is melted.
In the meantime, fry your bacon. 2-4 slices, depending on how indulgent you are being.
Remove the slices of toast from the oven, lay the bacon on each slice (1-2 pieces) and either pile everything up into a sandwich, or eat open-faced. I, personally, always find that my sandwich fillings like to escape, so tend to eat them open-faced.
Now, since that is all obviously far too easy, here’s an apple chutney recipe, just to make things complicated… just in case you like planning your sandwiches 6 months in advance!
Recipes will be divided on the type of apples you should use. If you have an apple tree, use your own fruit. If you have apples you haven’t eaten, use those. Cooking apples ‘fall’ and your chutney will be more pulpy. Eating apples will, sometimes, retain more of their integrity and give your chutney more texture. It’s your preference. Whatever you use, please leave the chutney to mature – minimum 3 months and better the nearer to 6. If you take the lid off new chutney and smell vinegar, put the lid back on, sigh deeply and wait for another few weeks: it will be worth it.
Remember to sterilise your jars ahead of making the chutney. Wash the jars and lids, and put into a pre-heated oven @ around 120 degrees. 15 minutes should be enough. The jars should be cooled by the time you are filling them (easier to handle).
Ingredients: per pint of chutney (scale up if you have more apples)
Silly Cow Cider https://courtneys.online/cider/silly-cow-cider/
Or over-planning, really.
I don’t know what happened, but one moment I ask the innocent question of what everyone had any ideas for Christmas treats and suddenly I have a list as long as my arm! It’s fantastic. I will never, ever get round to making it all, but I can dream.
So far, for Christmas day, there is a mincemeat crumble; a chocolate and mint Boston Cream Pie (my personal favourite); of course, since there will be egg whites left from the crème légère, some meringues are de rigeure; cinnamon buns for breakfast and homemade sausage rolls for lunch.
And then there are indulgences for throughout December.
Minced Pies, of course! Lots and lots. The minced meat is fully stocked and a battle plan has been drawn up to get through it all.
Baked apple truffles (not sure these will work, but excited to try them out)
Yorkshire puddings with spiced vegetable stew… I haven’t had it in ages, but it’s a family favourite and I don’t know why we don’t do it more often.
Great-great-grandmother’s ginger biscuits that can only be made in December and the rest of the year talked of in hushed and reverent whispers. It’s the only recipe I will never give up the secret to and the day I was allowed to write it in my recipe book will forever live in my memory.
3 types of fudge (vanilla, chocolate mint, and hazelnut). More were about to be added, but I had to put my feet down.
‘Beethoven chocolates’. I don’t know if anyone else does this. They’re little balls of marzipan, with chopped up rum-soaked apricots in the middle of them and a toasted almond on top, covered with chocolate, so kind of like a homemade Mozart chocolate, but with some extra frills… not that Beethoven is especially frilly, but his name seems to have become affixed to these magnificent monstrosities in this household. My mum’s been talking about them since August.
A list of new carrot recipes, about six so far.
Cinnamon and ginger cake, obviously.
Star anise ice cream with candied orange peel. It tastes like being round a Christmas smells when you’re about 5. I swear, it makes the room glow when you eat it. Pure excellence but rather dividing (pretty much exactly 50-50), so I get to eat it into the new year!!!
More is being added to the list daily and I swear I will be put into a sugar coma just by reading it. So, if you need to find me in the next month, I will be passed out in a bowl of chocolate, very happy and very hyped up.
(Answer: d) Rose. Apples are related to roses.)
(Answer: c) Strengthens the heart. John Evelyn said that ‘Generally all strong and pleasant cider excites and cleanses the Stomach, strengthens Digestion, and infallibly frees the Kidneys and Bladder from breeding the Gravel Stone’)
(Answer: b) Groggy. In the 18th and 19th centuries, grog was served on naval vessels to combat drunkenness (grog is rum mixed with water, lemon juice and sugar) but many sailors saved up their rations and got drunk on it and ended up feeling the effects of ‘grogginess’ the next day.
Jingled is an American term to describe being mildly drunk
Symposium comes from the Greek word meaning to drink together, or have a drinking party.
Glorious can be used to describe the funny stage of drunkenness. It is not a quantitative measure of drunkenness, but a qualitative one.)
(Answer: a) Coriander)
This is essentially an Apple Genoise, which sounds really complicated, but is actually one of the easiest cakes to make, in my opinion/experience. The only thing you have to do is make sure that you prep everything ahead and take the time to get lots of air into your batter. If you do that, you will be left with a light and fluffy, heavenly textured apple cake.
First off, I’ll give you my great-gran’s tip for a guaranteed light sponge: sieve the flour three times. It sounds like a gimmick, but it makes a huge difference. If you want to guarantee a perfectly light cake, take the extra 60 seconds and sift away! This isn’t just for Genoises (I don’t think she had much truck with ‘fancy’ cakes like that) but it makes it is also an indispensable tip for Victoria sponges and Yorkshire puddings. Get the air into the flour and 50% of your work is done for you.
My other tip is to work fast. You have to take 6 minutes to whisk your eggs with an electric whisk (apparently 8 minutes with a stand mixer, but I’ve never tried that), again to get the air in, and as soon as that is done be sure to get your dry ingredients and apples in quickly and get that cake straight in the oven. Sugar reacts with egg yolks and if you leave the egg/sugar mixture standing there while you get other ingredients sorted out, you’re going to end up with a tough cake. Pre-prepare your ingredients!
Anyway, enough with my rambling, here’s the recipe:
Serve with Gin and Tonic.
This cake is pictured with preserved bilberries, but raspberries and blueberries work very well too.
This is a Japanese snack and really, truly, utterly delicious.
I’m a big fan of pumpkin, but do sometimes find it takes a lot of time to deal with, when you’ve got to roast it off, let it cool remove the flesh, etc. etc. So, imagine my delight when I found a recipe for pumpkin that’s done in 4 minutes, is comfort food and tastes like the best aspects of pumpkin, paired with the best things about sweet potato fries!
To be honest, I’m a bit in love.
My only warning about this recipe is that these things are FILLING. I only made half a Hokkaido Pumpkin’s worth of these babies, but it still took me three days to finish them (they reheat really well in the oven or air fryer), because my goodness do they fill you up.
They can be eaten on their own, or dipped in soup, or (if you’re going non-vegan) into runny egg yolk, which is my new dream lunch. Actually… they really go with everything.
Strawberry and Lime Frapple goes so well with tempura!
A Drop fell on the Apple Tree -
Another - on the Roof -
A Half a Dozen kissed the Eaves -
And made the Gables laugh -
A few went out to help the Brook
That went to help the Sea -
Myself Conjectured were they Pearls -
What Necklaces could be -
The Dust replaced, in Hoisted Roads -
The Birds jocoser sung -
The Sunshine threw his Hat away -
The Bushes - spangles flung -
Let’s ignore the fact that this is technically a poem about summer showers. Rain persists, even in the latter stages of November. I like Emily Dickinson. So, I’m going to make this a poem about autumn turning into winter, because why not? (Because it’s not. It’s about summer showers. Please don’t let my shoehorn poetry habits mislead you!)
It’s very hard to remember, when sitting in the middle of three days of drudging damp rain, how exciting it is when those first drops fall when you’re least expecting them. There’s a skylight in my attic and one of the things I love to do is go and sit up there (in amongst a lot of stuff that really needs to be sorted through) and listen to the drops of rain falling on my head, while I stay lovely and dry!
How special is it that Emily Dickinson felt the same way!
I know, it’s a very common thing that lots of people like, but it’s still cool!
So, my dear Emily,
The apple trees will grow well, because the drops falling on them have fallen into a downpour.
The hundreds of thousands of raindrops that followed soon after are definitely helping the stream! It’s running a torrent outside right now, but it’s nice to think about that random little raindrop that’s trying to fall on my head, eventually rolling out to the sea. Lots of adventures await it, I’m sure.
Do you think they are pearls of wisdom, falling from the sky? That wisdom is most certainly to stay inside, or invest in a better raincoat! Pearls make sense, Emily. I can see where you’re coming from. The luminescence of a raindrop, with all the colours of the rainbow potentially trapped within it, just waiting to escape with a ray of sunlight… which is most assuredly trapped behind a cloud at this moment, but I suppose you were writing about a summer shower.
I could make you several thousand necklaces, if you like. As you said, the drops are spangling the bushes so much that it look like fairy lights are being thrown from every bush around. How many necklaces should I make you? I’m inclined to say ‘all’. It would not do to let that image go to waste.
As I say, I am writing this as autumn turns to winter. The singing birds are robins, the dust never has time to settle between the storms and the sunshine has most definitely thrown his hat away! But he will come again another day, just as the rain will go away. There are advantages to writing to you at this time of year, though, since the pearls that have captured my imagination so are beginning to seem more solid on the leaves. So much easier to turn jeweller in those circumstances. I will send them to you, from the tips of my fingers.
I hope you are keeping well in the ether. You are alive and well on the page.
(Answer: c) 4-5 years.)
(Answer: a) Julius Caesar. When Julius Caesar invaded Britain in 55BC, he and his army found the Celts making a drink out of fermented apples. They liked it as a drink and took it back to Rome as a better alternative to wine than beer)
(Answer: d) 1970!)
(Answer: b) dark red and delicious looking)
Tiramisu is the perfect dessert and I will physically fight anyone who tells me otherwise. You have cake (technically ladyfinger biscuits, but once they’re soft, it’s basically cake), you’ve got rich mousse, you’ve got whatever you’re topping it off with… actually, it’s not that complicated when I put it like that, but that’s the point: it’s simple, easy to make, and perfect every time.
I’m not a big coffee lover, though, so to change it up a bit and add to perfection (in my opinion) I like to do twists on this classic and so this is my version of an apple (and rum) tiramisu.
Recipe (Serves 8)
I served this recently with a liqueur glass of Grumblebee Honey Spiced Rum and my guests were blown away by the combination!
I don’t have very much to say about this recipe. It’s quite simple, but perfect on a foggy, drawn in night and so I thought I would share it with you. The only thing that is remotely ‘complicated’ is the onion sauce, the recipe for which is below.
Cook your sausages (I made beef sausages for the first time for this and they were absolutely delicious and worked really well with the rich onion) in your preferred manner. I’m personally not very fond of fried sausages, so tend to do mine in the oven (25 minutes at 180°C) or air fryer (10-15 minutes at 180°C). Boil new potatoes until tender. Serve with peas and carrots and the sauce.
French Onion Sauce
Whimple Orchards Cider