Tasty treats

Pick a lazy afternoon and invite family or special friends to enjoy a wonderful tea party with these wonderful treats.

Chocolate cake with berries

Ingredients

Three rounded tablespoons of cocoa powder; 200g caster sugar; 200g butter; three large eggs; 200g self-raising flour, sifted; one rounded teaspoon of baking powder; 50g of flaked almonds; 200ml of cream; 100g raspberries and 100g strawberries.

Icing: 100g butter; 100g chocolate; 100g icing sugar and three tablespoons of milk.

Method

Preheat oven to 180C (350F ), gas mark 4. Line the bases of two by 20cm cake tins with greased greaseproof paper.

Mix the cocoa powder with four tablespoons of boiling water and stir until smooth.

Place the sugar and butter in a bowl and beat until fluffy. Then add the cocoa, eggs, flour and baking powder. Mix well, then add in the nuts.

Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 25 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. When cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool before removing from the tins.

Place the icing ingredients in a bowl over some lightly simmering water. Allow to melt, then stir to combine the ingredients. Allow to cool before using. Meanwhile whip the cream to soft peaks.

To assemble the cake, remove the greaseproof paper from both sponges. Spread the cream over one of the sponges, then sprinkle the fruit on top. Sandwich the second sponge on top and press down. Pour the chocolate icing over the cake and leave to firm up before slicing.

Macadamia and cranberry cookies

The cookie dough freezes really well and can be cooked from frozen.

Makes approximately 50

Ingredients

Three 200g bars of white chocolate, chopped; 200g butter; two eggs; 100g light muscovado sugar; 175g golden caster sugar; a teaspoon of vanilla extract; 350g plain flour; two teaspoons of baking powder; one teaspoon of cinnamon; 100g dried cranberries; and 100g macadamia nuts, chopped.

Method

Heat oven to 180C (350F ), gas mark 4.

Melt 170g chocolate, then allow to cool while you beat together the butter, eggs, sugars and vanilla until creamy. Then beat in the cooled chocolate. Stir in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cranberries and remaining chocolate and macadamia nuts.

Using a tablespoon measure or a small ice-cream scoop, drop small mounds onto a large baking sheet, spacing them well apart. Bake in batches for 12 minutes until pale golden, leave to harden for one to two minutes, then cool on a wire rack.

To freeze: open-freeze the raw cookie dough scoops on baking trays, when solid pack them into a freezer container, interleaving the layers with baking parchment. Bake from frozen for 15 to 20 minutes. They will keep for up to three months in the freezer.

Meringue nests

Ingredients

Two egg whites; 100g caster sugar; 200ml cream, whipped; 150g berries of your choice, eg, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries.

Method

Preheat your oven to 150C (300F ), gas mark 2. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment or else the meringues will stick.

Check that your bowl is really clean and has no trace of grease. Add in the egg whites and whisk at full speed until stiff. Add the sugar in spoonfuls.

Pipe or spoon on to the baking sheets in one to two inch circles. Place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes then turn the oven down to 100C (225F ), gas mark a quarter, and cook for an hour.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool before topping with a spoonful of whipped cream and fruit.

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