Easy, Morning or Afternoon Tea, Sweet

Gratitude / Chocolate, Caramel & Marshmallow Cookies

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” Alphonse Karr

Something I’ve been struggling to write about, mostly because my tightlipped Britishness isn’t sure how, is the incredibly kind words sent to me over the past few months. Scores of The Imperfect Kitchen readers sent me messages, either on the blog or by private message and I read each of them frequently during my time away from here.

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I didn’t respond to any individually. I’m still unsure how to express my gratitude appropriately, convinced that each would have turned into some awkwardly gushy tome of thanks. I’m sorry if you were hoping for a response to your notes and hope that it’s sufficient to write here that every single one of your messages meant the world and were one of the things that kept me waking into the possibility of light each day.

I shouldn’t be surprised by now that the world is full of wonderful people. And I should be even less surprised that my readers and fellow-bloggers are some of the most thoughtful. I’m not nearly as competent at expressing my thanks as I want to be. But if a little warmth sinks into your heart today and you find yourself smiling for no real reason — that might just be a tiny piece of my gratitude seeking you out.

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As a small offering of thanks before I start writing in earnest again; here’s a very favourite recipe that I often play with liberally from Paris Pastry Club for you all to share with those whose kindness means something to you. Or may be with those you would like to introduce to a little more kindness. These cookies are charmingly soft in the middle and slightly crunchy on the outside, almost like brownies. The marshmallow is sweet and gooey, counteracting the almost sharp sweetness from the dark chocolate; and sitting unobtrusively in the middle, comforting and cradling, is the caramel. If I could bake these for each of you and share them over a cup of coffee at my kitchen table, I’d be one happy lady.

Until then, enjoy.

  • 100g (3 ½ oz) dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
  • 3 tbl sp dulce de leche (if you can’t find any in the shops, here’s a link to a couple of ways you can make your own)
  • 1 tbl sp unsalted butter
  • 90g (3 oz) plain (all purpose) flour
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 egg
  • 75g (2 ½ oz) light brown sugar
  • 24 mini marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 200˚C / 390˚F and line a baking sheet with baking paper

Place the chocolate, dulce de leche and butter in a large heatproof bowl set over simmering water until melted (you can also do this in the microwave, just be careful not to burn the chocolate)

Set the bowl aside to cool down slightly

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl

Beat the egg and sugar in a separate bowl for a few minutes, or until light and fluffy

Gently fold in the melted chocolate mix

Working quite quickly, tip in the flour mixture and mix well with a wooden spoon

The dough will feel quite sticky and soft so use a couple of teaspoons to shaped into 12 walnut-sized balls and arrange them on the prepared baking sheet. Place two mini marshmallows in each ball and press down slightly

Turn down the oven heat to 170˚C / 340˚F and place the tray in the oven to bake for 10 minutes

The cookies should still be soft and their tops will be slightly cracked

Leave to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a serving plate

I have no idea how long these last in an airtight container, they’ve never lasted anywhere near that long in my house. Please feel free to let me know if you ever manage to find out…

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Easy, Morning or Afternoon Tea, Sweet

Warring with Desire / Dark Chocolate, Whipped Peanut & Caramel Cookies

“There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable.” Mark Twain

I moan gently in the back of my throat, half heartedly protesting at the frisson of excitement running through my body. I’m determined not to cave this time. I’ve made so many promises to myself over these months, so many times determined not to give in to the desire again, and so many times crumbled into frantic ripping and devouring.

Damn you Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

I’m not normally a fan of American chocolate, preferring the creaminess of the British, but once these little devils snuck into my chocolate repertoire it’s been nearly impossible to resist their salty, caramel deliciousness for any proper length of time. Like a week.

And they come in pairs. Could life get any more unfair?

Apparently so, because then my local food market started selling them. The one place I rely on for whole foods untainted by the stain of my nasty chocolate crushes and they fail me utterly by supplying Reece’s by the boxful. Cunningly placed next to the organic, 80% cocoa chocolates and raw peanut balls as if to say, “Who? Me? Oh, I’m just hanging out here for a while. Watching the scenery. Don’t mind my gorgeous chemical-laden calorific presence on the shelves. Go and buy some carrots. Bad girl.”

Caramel & Part Nibbled Dark Chocolate Biscuit

I went through a stage of slipping a pack under the rest of my shopping; like all the organic, raw produce sitting on top would somehow transmogrify the terrible temptation into a tamed beast. No such luck. Now, like the hard bitten addict I’ve become, I jut out my chin and slap one into my basket, daring the artisan chocolates to question my life choices.

When I had my son, two and a half years ago, the side of me that houses my passions, desires and a penchant for the naughty just shut off. I felt numbed to anything more than motherhood and existed in the dubious freedom that comes with muted, untangled emotions. The price to pay was a level of depression, at times the exhaustion left me so bleak I couldn’t fathom ever feeling human again. But there was also a cleanness to my emptiness, a relief in living a half life for a while.

Over the past few months I’ve begun to feel everything again and, as with all change, there are plusses and minuses, with Reece’s sitting firmly in the terribly naughty but so very good category. And it’s not just that temptation, it seems that my tastebuds have burst into permanent activity, offering up all the flavours I’d forgotten and threatening to turn the rest of my eating life into that scene from When Harry Met Sally…

Unfortunately, another gift from my son is a slowed metabolism. Where I used to be one of those people who could eat anything and stay slim, I now need to be far more conscious of what I put into my body and how much dreaded exercise is going to be needed to shift it. With that in mind, I’ve been trying to recreate the naughtiness of Reece’s without so much of the wide-eyed horror when I step on the scales.

And here it is…

A soft nuzzle of caramel and thoroughly whipped peanut butter are gently sandwiched between two dark chocolate cookies in this definitely-still-rather-unhealthy-but-so-very-good cookie recipe…

Enjoy.

Preheat oven to 160°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper

On a high speed, whisk the butter, half the peanut butter, caster sugar and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla until pale and creamy

Sift half the flour and cocoa powder over the butter mixture. Stir by hand until just combined. Add the remaining flour and cocoa powder and stir until the dough begins to clump together

Gather the dough into a ball and turn onto a large sheet of cling film, fold over the film and, using your hands, gently roll and shape the dough into a rough tube shape. Then wrap again with a tea towel and roll into a log about 6cm in diameter from tip to tip. Remove the tea towel and wrap in a sheet of card. Secure with elastic bands and put in the freezer overnight

(At this point you can keep the dough in the freezer and chop off slices as your cravings hit)

Cut an even number of 5mm slices from the log and place on the baking tray

Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes. Set aside on the tray to cool

Meanwhile, add the cold cream, peanut butter and remaining vanilla into a bowl and whisk until it’s combined and no clumps remain. Sift in the icing sugar and whisk until stiff and completely combined

Spread half the biscuits with a teaspoonful of the caramel spread

Spread the other half of the biscuits with a tablespoon full of the peanut whip

Gently sandwich together and serve to groans of achingly naughty delight

Chocolate, Peanut & Caramel Cookie finished

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Dessert, Not So Easy, Sweet

Unfulfilled by Unicorn Rides and Jazzy Hands / Caramel Chocolate Ganache Tart

I wrote last week about finding a reconnection with helpless laughter by singing and dancing to cheesy music. This week, I’ve been thinking a lot, after reading a thought provoking post from Kelly over at This Mom Gig, about the change that’s come over me in the last ten years that I was able to unselfconsciously sing and dance terribly, let alone write openly about it.

I then saw that Jon Richardson (a wonderful, occasionally vulnerable British comedian) is going to start filming a show where he travels around England to find how to grow into a ‘happy adult’. I ended up reading a little further and it looks like he’s not mindlessly jumping on the happy bandwagon, but for a moment I felt an insensible rage at this insistence of constant happiness, like a drug that’s only owned by a lucky few and we all have to scrabble for the best dealer we can possibly find.

I spent so many years knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that something was wrong with me. That I had already failed as a human because I didn’t have a cloak of happiness always swept around me. That those who appeared in magazines, on television, in self help books and on the posters that adorned my walls had cracked the secret to eternal happiness and that, if I could just watch and follow them closely enough, then the constant fear and occasional emptiness and therefore obvious failure of my existence would be swept up into a sparkly mass of unicorn rides and jazzy hands.

What seems to have been at the base of my happiness misunderstanding was a belief that negative feelings were unacceptable and something to be feared. I’d spent years pushing down my feelings of depression, rage, ineptitude and failure to the point that I didn’t even know where to start being happy, other than hide everything I felt was the real me and only ever leave the house with an emotional mask in the contorted shape of happiness.

Lots of gurus promise eternal happiness, but I cast-iron guarantee you that the only reason you believe them is because you don’t know them. You haven’t had the opportunity to see the darkness that always pairs with light. They’re as imperfect as you and me and just as prone to the emptiness that they promise you can beat if you just buy their books and sign up to their podcasts and do a month of healing at the low, introductory price of $99.

They’re lying, or they’re insensibly stupid. I suspect the former, as they’re smart enough to make a business out of happiness. They have to lie to make a living and I feel sorry for them that that’s their life. But they’re making our lives more miserable by insisting that we’re doing something wrong and for that I don’t like them very much at all.

The truth is that life is frequently hard for everyone, and often full of things like washing the dishes, sorting out whites from coloureds for the washing machine and eyeing the fly that’s currently close enough to you that you feel uncomfortable, but not quite close enough to swat away.

Challenges are mostly there to be lost, especially when we’re young. Exams and friendships are to be failed horribly. And relationships are to be screwed up so badly you don’t even want to walk in the same country as that person for the 5 years it takes to stop wanting to hide under the floor every time you think about that last, dramatically pathetic, begging conversation (totally happened to me. Twice). It’s what makes life and people interesting. It’s what makes us relatable. It’s what makes us funny as hell.

Because here’s the rub about perennially happy people — I really don’t like them, and I’ll bet you don’t either. They’re annoying; like a really needy puppy — it looks like something you want in your life on first smitten glance, but after a short amount of time you will want to give it back. And they’re hopelessly unrealistic and unsympathetic; there are a couple of people I know who, no matter what’s happened, breathily utter something like, “You’re so lucky that you have the opportunity to walk through this.” I want to slap them when it’s about a parking ticket, but I know that one of them once said it to a mutual friend whose partner had just committed suicide. They’re not better than other people for their Pollyanna approach to life, they’re just more irritating and boring.

Happiness is a momentary feeling, sometimes of a few days or weeks, but more often it’s a fleeting moment when you finally learn all the words to the Frozen theme song, or your child’s singing Old MacDonald Had a Farm on his own for the first time. The reason it doesn’t last for longer is because it’s not meant to. It’s just one feeling out of many, and we’re evolved and capable of feeling them all.

Now, please don’t take the above to read that I’m saying there’s something wrong with being happy. I love feeling happy. But it’s only by fully engaging with all my emotions that my happiness has become completely free from the hangups that come from pretending it’s the only worthwhile emotion. I’ve quoted this passage before on my blog, but it seems relevant to quote it again

“But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing floor.
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.”

He’s saying you’re going to be really boring if you only allow for the good bits. Don’t do it. There’s far too much life to be had in living a full, painful, messy, fun-filled life.

Speaking of full lives, I made a chocolate caramel ganache tart this week. The filling’s another one from the very talented head pastry chef, Chloë Thomas, at Stokehouse restaurant. I was going to save this one for later in the year, but I made these during the week and they were so delicious I just couldn’t resist.

Enjoy.

Puff Pastry

  • 250g strong plain flour
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 250g butter, at room temperature, but not soft
  • about 150ml cold water

Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Roughly break the butter in small chunks, add them to the bowl and rub them in loosely. You need to see bits of butter

Make a well in the bowl and pour in about two-thirds of the cold water, mixing until you have a firm rough dough adding extra water if needed. Cover with cling film and leave to rest for 20 mins in the fridge

Turn out onto a lightly floured board, knead gently and form into a smooth rectangle. Roll the dough in one direction only, until 3 times the width, about 20 x 50cm. Keep edges straight and even. Don’t overwork the butter streaks; you should have a marbled effect

Fold the top third down to the centre, then the bottom third up and over that. Give the dough a quarter turn (to the left or right) and roll out again to three times the length. Fold as before, cover with cling film and chill for at least 20 mins before rolling to use (you only need half for this recipe so save the rest for up to 3 months in the freezer for other recipes – like the delicious Imperfect Kitchen roasted garlic and pumpkin recipe!)

Lightly dust your rolling surface and roll out to about 3cm thickness

Spray olive oil on four 12cm tart tins with loose bottoms (or use melted butter)

Using a the tart cases as a guide, cut 4 rough circles, slightly bigger than the tins

Line each tart case with a pastry circle, ensuring you press into the edges along the bottom of the ring, before pricking the base of the pastry a couple of times with a fork

Freeze for at least 30 minutes

Preheat oven to 180˚C / 350˚F

Blind bake the pastry cases for 10-15 minutes until the cases are dry. Remove the baking beans (or rice, coins, or whatever you’re using) and continue to bake for another 10-15 minutes until the pastry is a satisfying golden brown

Remove from the oven and set aside to cool

Chocolate Caramel Filling

  • 500g single (pouring) cream
  • 600g dark chocolate
  • 400g milk chocolate
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp salt

Heat the cream and salt in a small saucepan until it reaches the boil and then set aside to cool

Mix dark and milk chocolate in a mixing bowl

Heat a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat

Once hot enough (you will know when this is reached as a small sprinkle of sugar will melt almost instantly) add handfuls of sugar at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon until melted and caramelised before adding the next handful

Once all the sugar has been completely melted and caramelised, add the butter and stir until melted

Slowly whisk in the hot cream

Pour the caramel mix over the chocolates and whisk until all chocolates are fully melted and everything is completely combined

Pour the chocolate caramel mix into the four tart cases and refrigerate for about 4 hours, until set

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Dessert, Super Easy, Sweet

Do Monks Eat Chocolate? / Caramelised Pear & Hazelnut Cake

I’ve spent all week feeling deeply uninspired for something to write. It happens to me on occasion. The week solely consists of my regular day to day activities and the only movement occurring in my internal world is still murky and inexplicable.

I know that I have some movement in my internal life over the last year about self care and slowing down. I also have a fear that’s currently paralysing me when I challenge myself to write something other than this blog (a big shift from 6 months ago when I couldn’t even fathom having the courage to write here). And surrounding all this is a pain sitting in my chest that I believe, at the moment, has something to do with grief of letting fear keep me small in my desired life – but may have nothing to do with that at all, and really, I feel wholly unqualified to write about something that’s still so shadowed.

So I keep meditating and just trying to observe that part of me through the day as it twinges, without engaging or telling myself a story about what the feelings mean. I just let them come and go, trusting that when the time comes the acceptance and solution will become clear.

The reason I do this is not because I’m someone who woke up one day thinking, “this meditation and mindful-living malarkey sounds like a fun idea, and I just love the thought of trusting something I can’t see, hear or touch.”

I was dragged into meditation, a ‘spiritual’ path (there really needs to be a better word for this, doesn’t there? I can still cringe when I read the word ‘spiritual’ – thanks go to Robin Ince for bringing that to the fore for me again) and a search for something greater than the human experience, kicking and screaming. As I wrote before on my post about fundamentalism, I consider myself rather smart and educated – a dangerous pattern for someone who also gets lost in boggy mires of mental anguish from time to time. No matter how smart I was, how much I studied psychology and philosophy, I just couldn’t shake those long moments of pain, and they were getting worse.

So, I’ve found myself walking a path for the last ten years that I’m a natural cynic for. A journey that I take micro-shuffles on, saying at each step, “I have to do what?! You’ve got to be kidding me?  And trust which invisible friend? Pah! Rubbish!” – until sheer desperation has me turning a problem over to this way of living, all the while waiting for disaster to strike.

And you know what? Whatever it is that helps when I genuinely attempt to live mindfully, meditate, seek unheard guidance and trust unseen hands, works. It works every time. Not in a I-get-a-new-car-and-win-the-lottery way, but in a I’m-always-given-what-I-need-along-with-some-good-old-peace-of-mind way.

So I continue to be one of those near non-believers who does all the things that really makes it look as if I believe. Because whether I believe or not, I have a more peaceful, fun, engaged, full and joyful life when I do these things. And so does everyone who has to be around me.

Hazelnuts_Fotor

Raw hazelnuts in a beautiful handmade bowl by Mark Young

Having written the above, I found myself at a meditation session today being led by a women I like and truly admire. The meditation went well, there were about ten of us present and everyone was beautifully engaged. I felt a great energy during the meditation as my perennially clenched jaw relaxed and I could sit comfortably in the space behind my conscious mind.

She rang a Tibetan singing bowl to finish the session and everyone stood around chatting about the lovely sound it makes. She showed how running the mallet around the edge of the bowl created the singing noise, which produced a chorus of “oohs” from the room.

“I know,” she sighed, “it’s amazing what the Tibetans know, we just can’t imagine their wisdom in the West.”

Now, I’m traditionally not a fan of Eastern religion any more than I am of Western. I’ve seen John Safran’s brilliant TV show on Buddhism and also know that the Tibetan monks were fearsome and pretty horrific warriors in their time who murdered their own people for centuries and generally acted appallingly.

So, with no pause in my mind to check for my audience, I piped up, “yeah, like the monks slaughtering all their own people for years.”

Silence.

I mean… BOOMING SILENCE…

My wise woman smiled kindly and joked, “thanks for that!”

And everyone went on.

Meanwhile, I just wanted the ground to swallow me up.

What had I said?! Here I was, surrounded by lovely, highly educated, well-meaning people who want to believe the best about Tibetan monks, and it’s not as if that causes any harm. And I basically accused them of stupidly supporting evil in the world.

I stood in shuffling silence for a while, then made my excuses and left.

In the car on the way home, paying little attention to the road, I replayed the conversation over and over again in my mind. Really? I had to say that? I just had to be right instead of happy? Couldn’t I just leave them be? AAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGHGHGHGHGHGH!!

I called a few friends but everyone was out. So I went and bought chocolate – I wont lie, it was a big bag of chocolate – and I sat in the car and ate it all before I went inside to my husband and son.

When I told my husband what’d happened he roared with laughter and asked why I hadn’t saved any chocolate for him. Sometimes I forget how completely normal he is, and that he just doesn’t get the mad panic that comes from being an occasional total emotional behemoth.

So, when people ask why I meditate and search continuously for a spiritual path, this is one of the reasons why. I may have been a bit of a tit today, but I haven’t been one for at least 2 weeks. Ten years ago I was making these gaffes several times a day and the self loathing was crippling. Today I can laugh at myself (after some time and chocolate) and get on with living a life that’s steady, fun and genuinely forgiving.

With all this in mind, I’m giving you a recipe today that’s stunning in its gentle and generous simplicity. Much like the spiritual journey, you may look at the given ingredients and think, “doesn’t look like much.” But this uncomplicated, untrendy recipe is actually the best cake in the whole wide world.

I’ve made it for years following the River Cottage’s recipe with pears and almonds, but I had some hazelnuts to use up and thought, “why not?”

The result is better than fabulous. Juicy, caramely rounded flavours and truly delicious. I can’t begin to describe how much I love this cake.  And if you have a day like mine today, you can eat the whole thing and not feel too guilty because, as cakes go, it’s very low in gluten, uses only raw sugar, and has fruit!

Enjoy.

Delicious organic pears delivered to my door by Green Mumma

Delicious organic pears delivered to my door by Green Mumma

  • 175g unsalted butter, softened
  • 125g raw caster sugar + 1 tbl sp for the pears
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 75g wholemeal self raising flour
  • 75g ground hazelnuts
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 3 pears (reasonably firm, but not rock hard)

Pre heat oven to 180°C

Grease a 20cm square cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.

Peel, quarter and core the pears.

Melt 25g of butter in a frying pan big enough to take all the pear pieces, over a medium high heat. When it’s bubbling, add a tablespoon of the sugar and stir gently until it has dissolved into the butter.

Turn down the heat, add the pears and cook gently, turning once or twice, until they’ve softened and are starting to colour – 5 to 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl, beat the rest of the butter with the rest of the sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in one egg at a time, adding a spoonful of the flour with each to stop the mix curdling.

Combine the remaining flour, the ground hazelnuts and the nutmeg, and fold into the mixture. Scrape into the prepared tin. Arrange the pears on top and pour on any buttery juices left in the pan.

Bake for about 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Stand the cake in its tin on a wire rack to cool for a few minutes, then release the tin.

Serve warm or cold on it’s own, or with the thickest cream you can find.

Caramelised Pear & Hazelnut cake on a beautiful plate by Mini Labo

Caramelised Pear & Hazelnut cake on a beautiful plate by Mini Labo

 

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Dessert, Easy, Sweet

The Definition of Success / Banoffee Pie

I wrote a post about moving through my fears to start writing. In the post I spoke about regret and success. This led to a conversation with my father that I’ve been thinking about frequently since.

He loves the blog (he’s my dad, it’s his job to love everything I do) but suggested that my definition of success was way off base.

In fairness he absolutely didn’t say that, he was lovely and gentle and supportive in his choice of words. But what was behind those words was, “your definition of success is just plain wrong kiddo.”

One of the many things I love about my dad is his thoughtful approach to the words people use versus the sentiment behind the words. He’s always challenged me to be more specific, to choose words and beliefs carefully, to continually question preconceived notions – of which I have an embarrassing number.

So when he said that he disagreed with my post’s concept of success, and I had stopped pouting, I once again delved into the words I use and the meaning I place on them.

After some reflection, I realised that my definition of success is almost entirely based on areas I believe I’m unsuccessful. I have a great relationship with my family, a loving marriage, a wonderful child, good friends and a home I adore. But I haven’t found passion, applause and a lot of cold, hard cash in my working life – therefore, for me, the definition of success is based on this, the area I believe I haven’t succeeded, rather than all the areas I’ve found joy.

I also frequently move the goal posts around success. So, when I first started writing this blog I just wanted to engage the part of my mind that was always fettered into silence. Pretty quickly, I wanted someone to read it and tell me they liked it. Then I wanted a group of people who felt truly engaged by my words. One day soon only world domination via WordPress will suffice…

I think that part of this is healthy human interaction. I strive to be better because I can. But part of it is fuelled by the suspicion that I’m not good enough, and that’s the part that causes me pain.

I’ve spent time since then trying to focus my attention on the areas of my life that shine with the successes brought by joy.

Some people I know write a gratitude list each day. One friend keeps a pretty stone in her bag, whenever she finds it while ferreting around for something, she immediately pauses to think of something she’s grateful for in that moment.

Others set aside time to sit and observe the world moving about them, looking for the sparkly moments that permeate life, the instants we’re usually too busy to see – a smile between strangers, a moment of unasked kindness freely given, a green space lovingly tended in a city.

Something that I’ve been trying recently is finding moments in my cooking. Instead of cooking while planning the photography, new web design and dinner for my family; I’m revelling in the soft snowfall of flour, the snap of breaking chocolate, rolling each flavour in my mouth while testing and enjoying the opportunity to improve rather than panicking that it’s not going to be good enough. And I’m definitely becoming happier for it.

Now, onto world domination…

Bananas are currently in season in Australia and they are looking and tasting good. I’ve had a lonely jar of Bonne Maman’s caramel spread sitting in my fridge for a while, and suddenly had a childhood memory-based brainwave about the time one of my cousins and I made an enormous banoffee pie and sat in his living room, inhaling the soft banana caramel goodness while watching an entire afternoon of film after film. A successful afternoon if ever I’ve had one.

I’ve made quite a few of these beauties since that day and through much trial and error, this one is my clear winner.

Bottom

  • 225g digestive biscuits (graham crackers work as a substitute for Americans)
  • 100g pecans
  • 125g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 pinch salt

Middle

Top

  • 75g pecans
  • 1/2 tbl sp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tbl sp light brown sugar
  • 4 ripe large bananas
  • 275ml double cream (heavy cream for Americans)

You can either make one big Banoffee Pie in a 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin, or make four individual pies in 11cm loose-bottomed tart tins – the choice is yours!

Put the the biscuits and pecans in a freezer bag and smash them to smithereens with a rolling pin

Stir together with the melted butter and salt

Press the mixture into the tin or tins of your choice, pressing down to line the base and sides

Keep the base in the fridge while you make the filling

Melt the butter and sugar in a small saucepan over a low heat, and stir to dissolve the sugar

Add the caramel spread and salt

Stir constantly until smooth

Pour over the base, and chill for an hour

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium high heat

Add the pecans and toss to coat

Add the sugar and stir frequently until caramelised

Turn onto baking paper and allow to cool

Carefully remove the pie from the tart tin

Whip the cream into soft peaks and spread on top of the caramel

Thinly slice the bananas

Arrange the bananas and candied pecans on top of the cream

Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

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