Coconut and hazelnut sandwich cookies
The only thing better than one cookie is two sandwiched together with a creamy mascarpone filling. My absolute favourite tea-time treat.
Prep 20 min
Cook 15 min
Cool 1 hr
175g plain flour
75g rolled oats
90g desiccated coconut
50g roasted hazelnuts, finely chopped
½ tsp salt
150g unsalted butter
150g soft brown sugar
70g golden syrup
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the filling
150g mascarpone, cold
50g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
200ml double cream, cold
Heat the oven to 190C (180C fan) gas 6 and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, coconut, hazelnuts and salt.
Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a medium saucepan and heat until the butter is melted and the sugar has dissolved. Add the bicarb and stir continuously for about 30 seconds, until the mixture becomes foamy and light in colour. Pour this straight over the dry ingredients and mix until there are no streaks of dry flour.
Make little balls of dough – about half a tablespoon in size – on to the baking trays, leaving at least an inch (2.5cm) of space between them. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes until golden and the edges are set. (The centres will still be soft but will firm up as they cool).
To make the filling, put the mascarpone, icing sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat briefly until smooth. Add the cream and beat on a low speed until the cream has soft peaks. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle, or simply use a spoon to spread rounds of cream on to half the cookies, before sandwiching them with the remaining ones.
Harissa, feta and olive buns
I’m not one to shy away from chilli; here, the spicy harissa brings soft buns such a fragrant warmth. They would work just as well with pesto, should you prefer something milder.
Prep 20 min
Rise 1 hr 45 min+
Cook 20 min
400g strong white bread flour
1 sachet fast-action yeast
½ tsp salt
30g caster sugar
240ml whole milk, at room temperature
60g unsalted butter, softened
For the filling
2½ tbsp rose harissa
100g feta, crumbled
75g pitted green olives, finely sliced
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp nigella seeds
For the dough, mix together the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk, butter and one of the eggs. Mix to form a shaggy dough.
Knead the dough by hand or with a stand mixer until smooth and elastic. This will take anywhere from 10-15 minutes. Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for one to two hours in a warm place, until nearly doubled in size.
Once risen, turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and roll it into a rectangle of about 40cm x 60cm, with the shorter side facing you. Spread the harissa evenly on to half of the dough and scatter the feta and sliced olives on top. Fold the uncovered half of dough over the filling and use a rolling pin to remove any air bubbles.
Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into strips about 3cm wide. With each strip of dough, twist each end in opposite directions simultaneously, then coil the dough around itself, tucking the end underneath to finish.
Put each bun on a lined baking tray, cover with a clean tea towel and let them rise for another 30-45 minutes, until puffy. Heat the oven to 190C (180C fan)/gas 5.
Brush each bun with the remaining beaten egg and sprinkle with the sesame and nigella seeds. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden and the base of each bun sounds hollow when tapped. Let them cool completely before serving.
Cherry, ricotta and white chocolate cake
Every summer, I seem to end up with more cherries than I know what to do with, but this cake provides a lovely way of using them up. Ricotta guarantees a soft and incredibly moist sponge.
Prep 20 min
Cook 1 hr
150g unsalted butter, softened
250g caster sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
3 medium eggs
200g plain flour
2½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
75g white chocolate, roughly chopped
200g cherries, stoned and halved
A handful of flaked almonds
Icing sugar, to dust
Heat the oven to 180C (170C fan) gas 3½. Grease and line a 23cm/9 inch springform cake tin.
Beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest together for three to five minutes until very pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl every so often.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Pour half of the flour mixture into the butter and stir until just combined. Mix in the ricotta, followed by the rest of flour, and beat briefly until smooth.
Stir in 50g of the white chocolate, then pour the batter into the prepared tin. Scatter the cherries on top, gently pressing a few into the batter. Sprinkle with flaked almonds and the remaining white chocolate.
Bake for 50-60 minutes until the cake is golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let it cool completely before dusting with icing sugar and serving.