Chocolate, Mascarpone and Coffee Tart

I needed a dessert to take to a family lunch, so decided on a tart. This is one of my stand by recipes, so I know it tastes good; everyone likes chocolate!

It's  lovely mixture of chocolate, mascarpone with a hint of coffee, all in a pastry case. Doesn't need much cooking - just the pastry case.

You need:

a pack of shortcrust pastry [or of course make your own]
200g dark chocolate
250g mascarpone
1 dspn instant Espresso coffee
3 egg whites
pinch salt
80g caster sugar
chocolate shavings to decorate [opt]

Preheat oven 180C/gas4                     Grease a 21cm tart tin

Roll pastry out to fit the tin, prick with a fork and bake blind for 10 mins.

Break chocolate up and put into a pan; sprinkle a little water over and melt on a low heat.

Once it's melted, take off the heat and add half the mascarpone and 1 dspn of instant Espresso coffee powder and mix well.

Take the pastry out of the oven, cool then add the chocolate mixture. Put in fridge for an hour.

Whisk the egg whites to peaks with the salt then add the rest of the mascarpone and the sugar. Mix together.

Take the tart out of the fridge, put onto a plate then spoon over the cream mixture. Sprinkle over some chocolate shavings if you want.

 As you can see, I decided to pipe a little of the cream mixture on the top before adding the shavings. Think my new piping bag and nozzles have gone to my head, but it was for a family occasion!
You get a good thick layer of chocolate with a good hint of coffee, which contrasts nicely with the pastry texture, then the soft creamy topping and the crunchy bits of chocolate shavings. If you don't want such a deep chocolate layer, you could use a larger tart tin.


Pecan, Maple and Lemon Loaf Cake

Another recipe for a loaf cake, my favourite type of cake. This time it has maple syrup, pecans and lemon zest in it. Easy to make using the rubbing in method.

Preheat oven 170C/gas3   Grease and line the bottom of a 900g loaf tin.

Sift 350g plain flour and 1 tspn baking powder together, then rub in 175g butter or margarine.
Stir in 75g caster sugar and 125g chopped pecan nuts.

In another bowl, beat 3 eggs with 1 tbspn milk and add zest of a lemon. Stir in 5 tbspn maple syrup and mix well.

Add the flour mixture to the egg one and mix well, but don't over mix. Should be a nice dropping consistency.

Spoon into the tin and bake for about 50 mins. till golden and risen. Leave to cool in tin for about 10 mins then turn onto a wire rack.

Make some lemon icing by beating 1 tbspn lemon juice into 75g icing sugar.

Drizzle the icing over the cooled cake.

The texture was quite dense, but I suppose the rubbing in method doesn't make for a fine crumb. The maple taste was good, and there was a hint of lemon from the zest. The pecans gave another texture and the icing gave the cake an extra zing. I did find the cake a bit dry, so maybe should add a bit more milk? A nice cake to have with a cuppa.


Lime and Yoghurt Cake

    Another easy to make, no icing cake. I had to make a quick cake for unexpected  guests, so found a lime in the fridge and remembered this recipe. There is no creaming of butter and sugar -  just mix dry ingredients with wet, bake and sprinkle with sugar. Quick and easy.
    It uses oil and yoghurt, so must be healthy!

    250g whole full fat Greek yoghurt
    80ml olive oil
    200g caster sugar
    zest of one lime
    4 tbspn lime juice
    2 eggs
    210g plain flour
    1 1/2 tspn baking powder
    1/2 tspn salt
    1 tbspn lime zest
    2 tblspn sugar
Pre-heat oven to 180C/gas4 and grease a 22cm baking tin.

Mix yoghurt, oil, lime juice, zest and eggs in a bowl till well combined. 

In another bowl, mix the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt together. 

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix with a wooden spoon till just combined [don't over mix] 

Pour into the tin and bake for 45-50 minutes,till the cake is lightly browned on top 

Sprinkle top with a mixture of lime zest and caster sugar.

The crumb is nice and moist from the oil and yoghurt, and the lime adds zing to the cake. A lovely summery treat. If you wanted you could ice it using lime juice and icing sugar, but I like it simple, with just the zest and sugar mixture.


Nectarine and Coconut Cake

Another simple cake - not keen on cakes with buttercream or any kind of frosting when it's hot.
I've nearly finished using up odd packets and jars in my cupboard, but found some dessicated coconut. I also had some nectarines to use up [they seem to ripen very quickly ] so decided to use both in a cake. My daughter makes this recipe often with whatever fruit she has - raspberries, peaches, apples - sometimes she uses coconut and sometimes just makes a plain cake; it's such an easy recipe. The only extra addition is some vanilla yoghurt.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4. Grease and base line a 24cm springform cake tin.

It's the all-in-one method - put 180g butter, 215 g caster sugar, 3 eggs, 225g sr flour, 55g dessicated coconut and 175g vanilla yoghurt in a food processor and blitz till smooth. Pour into the cake tin.
Arrange 4 halved and stoned nectarines on top and bake for about an hour. Take the cake our of the oven and sprinkle about 25g dessicated coconut on top then return to the oven for another 5 mins till the coconut is golden.

A lovely moist cake with a soft texture. The coconut flavour isn't strong - just there in the background and is reinforced by the topping. The nectarines are soft and melt in the mouth. A good, tasty way of using up excess fruit.


Lemon Bundt Cake

  • I love using my bundt tin, but don't do so very often. I had several lemons to use up so decided to make a lemon cake in this tin. It's easy to do and doesn't need any icing or decoration - not too much work!
  • You need 170g plain flour, 2 tspn baking powder, 170g butter, 120g light brown sugar, 3 eggs, the juice of 1 lemon and the zest of 2 lemons, icing sugar if you want to sprinkle it over the top.
  • Preheat oven 180C/gas4
  • Spray a bundt tin with Cake Release or something similar
Beat the butter with the sugar to get a nice creamy mixture.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each one.

Add the flour plus baking powder and the lemon juice and zest and beat together.

Spoon into the tin and bake for about 45 mins.

Cool in the tin for 10 mins then finish cooling on a wire rack.

If you want, sprinkle some icing sugar over the top.

  • A nice lemony cake with a good soft texture. You could ice it with lemon glacé icing, but I think it's such a pretty shape that it doesn't need any icing. You certainly get a good sized piece of cake in a slice!


Chocolate and Pear Tart

Wanted a quick and easy dessert, so used 3 ripe pears from the fruit bowl and made an easy tart. Chocolate and pears are a marriage made in heaven for me, but if you haven't got a bar of chocolate, you could use Nutella spread over the pastry. You don't have to make the pastry - use a ready made butter puff.

Preheat oven 220C/gas7                23cm tart tin

In a bowl, mix together 100g soft butter, 100g ground almonds and 125g caster sugar. Mix together then add 2 beaten eggs and beat together.
Roll out the puff pastry and line the tart tin. Prick with a fork.
Peel, de-pip [is there such a word?] and cut 3 ripe Conference pears each into 4 pieces.
Melt 100g chocolate [you can use cooking chocolate if you want] in the microwave or over simmering water, then pour over the pastry in the tin. Spoon in the batter then spread the pears on top.
Bake for about 30 mins - keep an eye on the tart at the end so it doesn't burn!

Nice combination of flavours and textures - crunchy pastry, soft chocolate, almond filling and soft fruit. You could use dessicated coconut instead of ground almonds - my friend does this and it's very successful. 


Banana Cake with Caramel Topping

 Needed to use up two very ripe looking bananas in the fruit bowl, so it would be a banana cake. I think banana goes well with caramel, so made a caramel icing for the top. The recipe uses sunflower oil and yoghurt, so definitely healthy [if you ignore the caramel!].

Preheat oven 180C/gas4                   Grease and base line a 23cm springform cake tin.

In a bowl mix together 250g plain flour with 2 tspn baking powder and 1/2 tspn bicarb. Mix in 250g caster sugar.

In another bowl beat together 150ml sunflower oil, 250g ripe bananas [ I used 2 large ones], 2 eggs, 50ml natural yoghurt and 1 tspn vanilla extract.

Pour the oil mixture into the flour and stir together till mixed.

Spoon the batter into the cake tin and bake for about 40 mins. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins, then turn onto a wire rack.

For the caramel topping:

Put 85g butter, 175ml double cream and 175g soft brown sugar in a pan over a medium heat and stir till the butter has melted. Turn up the heat and boil for 3-4 mins stirring occasionally - mixture looks like runny custard. Pour into a bowl and leave for 30 mins, then beat with an electric hand beater till thick.

When the cake is cool, spread the icing over the top. 

My son came over and took a large piece back with him, as you can see! The caramel topping was delicious but very sweet, as I expected, but it was a good contrast to the soft, moist textured cake.
I had some topping left over so put it in the fridge and used it with vanilla ice cream. It had firmed up, but was still delicious.