April, 2013

Apr 13

A superfood sundae

Superfood sundae

Superfood sundae

We all love a frozen treat, particularly when the weather is warm, and this is one of my favourite low-fat, nutritious desserts. It may sound like a slightly strange combination of ingredients but I promise you they all work fantastically well together, making a healthy dessert that’s full of flavour and texture.

Frozen yoghurt is much lower in fat than ice cream, and the fruit adds one of your five a day with plenty of essential fats and protein from the pumpkin seeds. A drizzle of maple syrup is naughty but nice, but do use Organic if you can, as some maple syrups are not pure. I used YooMoo frozen yoghurt which is really tasty and very low in fat and calories.

Superfood sundae

Makes 1 sundae


1 large scoop vanillamoo vanilla frozen yoghurt

¼ small banana, sliced

40g blueberries

1 tsp Organic maple syrup

1 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds


1)   Place the frozen yogurt into a bowl or sundae dish.

2)   Scatter over the banana slices and blueberries.

3)   Drizzle over the maple syrup and finish by topping with the pumpkin seeds. Enjoy immediately!

Apr 13

Espresso chocolate moelleux


Espresso chocolate moelleux

Espresso chocolate moelleux

Having recently learnt how to make the perfect cup of coffee, I’ve been busy practicing at home and decided to try baking with a delicious shot of espresso.

I just prepared a standard shot of coffee in exactly the same way as I would to make a cup of coffee using my machine at home and left it to cool. You don’t want to use hot liquids when you are baking, as it will affect the properties of the other ingredients in the mix. This is particularly the case when baking with eggs, as if they come into contact with any hot liquids, they will curdle.

I was mulling over what to make and decided on a moelleux, which is a deliciously dense and moist chocolate cake that’s very popular in France. It’s quite like a lighter version of a brownie and is very easy to make.

I’ve also been using a Gaggia Carezza coffee machine from John Lewis which works extremely well and is a lot cheaper than the models I tried on my coffee making masterclass.

Espresso chocolate moelleux

Makes 12 large slices


225g 70% cocoa dark chocolate

1 shot espresso, cooled

225g vanilla caster sugar

225g butter

3 large eggs, beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch sea salt

65g plain four (gluten free or wheat flour)

1 tsp baking powder


1)   Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 9” square baking tin with non-stick baking paper.

2)   Carefully melt the chocolate in a bain marie or in the microwave. Once melted, stir in the cooled coffee and allow to cool.

3)   Using the Kitchen Aid, whisk the butter, sugar and vanilla extract together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla and sea salt and pour in the melted chocolate. Whisk well until the chocolate is evenly combined with the butter and sugar

4)   Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in to the mix gently. It will be a light and fluffy cake mixture by now.

5)   Spoon into the prepared tin and level off using a spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top has formed a crust. The middle will still be pretty wet.

6)   Allow the cake to cool in the tin for at least 45 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool. It can be sliced when cold or refrigerated overnight and then cut the next day.

Apr 13

Cooking up a storm with Eric Lanlard

Mocha Shortbread

Mocha Shortbread

I recently attended a Cocktails and Cupcakes event in London with celebrity chef Eric Lanlard in partnership with Neilsen-Massey, the century-old, family owned producer of exceptional quality vanilla and flavour extracts. Watch Eric and Matt Neilsen in action on the evening here here.

Neilsen-Massey produce a wide range of pure Madagascan vanilla extracts and flavours, including rose, chocolate, coffee, and almond, all of which are of the highest quality available. Eric’s passion for baking has always involved using the best ingredients available and has been a fan of Neilsen- Massey products for years.

I couldn’t wait to get home and start to play with these delicious flavourings. We particularly enjoyed these mocha shortbread biscuits I made. I only made little biscuits which are perfect for a little nibble with a cup of coffee. They’re really rich and intensely flavoured and very moreish despite not being too sweet. The coffee and chocolate extract add a subtle, sophisticated depth of flavour to the biscuits. Do give them a go!

Mocha Shortbread

Makes around 20 biscuits


120g butter

1 tsp Neilsen-Massey coffee extract

1 tsp Neilsen-Massey chocolate extract

60g caster sugar, plus a little extra for sprinkling

30g cocoa powder, sifted

120g plain flour, either wheat or gluten free flour blend, sifted


1)   Preheat the oven to 170C

2)   Cream the butter, coffee extract, chocolate extract and caster sugar together until fluffy.

3)   Add the sifted cocoa powder and flour and beat together to firm a stiff dough.

4)   Bring the dough together into a ball and roll out to approximately 1cm thick between two sheets of cling film. Cut into 3cm diameter discs.

5)   Lay the discs out onto a baking tray covered in non-stick baking paper.

6)   Bake the discs for 15 minutes until just firm.

7)   Sprinkle with caster sugar and transfer to a wire rack to cool fully before tucking in!

Apr 13

Méribel: A-list ski resort and foodie heaven

Looking down at Méribel from the slopes

Looking down at Méribel from the slopes

I’ve just returned from a fantastic ski trip to the French Alps, staying in Méribel, which is simply the most perfect ski resort, offering A-list luxury and incredible food for any serious foodie like me. It is friendly, fun and picture perfect being a traditional chalet resort.

We stayed at Chalet du Vallon, run by Avery Crest, which was the best possible base we could have had for our stay and we would very highly recommend it. As you might expect, the views were incredible from every room and we loved waking up to the spectacular views of the mountains in the morning, and sitting down to enjoy a glass of champagne next to the log fire looking out across the village after a day on the slopes.

Chalet du Vallon

Chalet du Vallon

Chalet du Vallon comes with own chef in the chalet, Adam Jowett, who is a very accomplished chef having worked in a number of top restaurants back in the UK, and Jess who was there to look after us very well, so we immediately felt very relaxed and in full holiday mode, as really, there was nothing for us to do but ski and enjoy ourselves.

Every evening we were treated to a delicious three-course meal, which included fantastic local charcuterie, meat and cheeses, all from the Savoie region. We had some delicious local venison one evening, and a selection of superb local cheeses every night after dinner, including local Beaufort Hiver, Abondance, Tarentaise & St Marcellin. The food was exceptionally delicious.

Chef Adam at work in Chalet du Vallon

Chef Adam at work in Chalet du Vallon

All this merriment was balanced out with plenty of time on the slopes, however. We had an instructor with us the whole time from the École du Ski Français, Claire Radecka, who was the best instructor we could have asked for. We both made huge amounts of progress with her and she was so much fun to be with. Fortunately, we didn’t need to spend any time travelling around whilst we were in Méribel though, as the ski lift was just a few steps from the chalet.

To break up the day, we all stopped (instructors, too) for lunch at Le Blanchot on the slopes which is a great alpine restaurant serving traditional French food and plenty of Savoie specialities in enormous portions in cosy surroundings. It’s a favourite local spot for lunch.

There are some great shops, restaurants and bars in Méribel, although we only managed to pop in once to go to a fantastic bar called La Maison. Run by a chic French married couple, it has a wonderfully vintage look to it, which is rare to find in France. They served an excellent selection of delicious Savoyard wines and charcuterie. The bakery in Méribel Village is outstandingly good. Le Village des Pains is run by a lovely couple, and we were lucky enough to have a tour on the last day. A traditional wood-fired oven is still used to bake hundreds on baguettes and patisserie every day.

If you love to ski and haven’t been to Méribel, we’d highly recommend it. It’s luxurious and fun yet discreet, and Chalet du Vallon is such a perfect place to relax and unwind.

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