I love when the blood oranges arrive. In this part of the world it is generally late January, just the time when we need a little cheering up. They have a wonderful flavour and the beautiful ruby coloured flesh and juice is just a joy. I use them in sweet and savoury situations and will be seen in this coldest of months trying to find a few brave shoots of watercress to pair them in what is one of my favourite savoury salads of the year. In this jelly I pair them with our regular oranges, also good at this time of year, to temper the sometimes sharp flavour of the sanguine variety. The jelly can be set in individual moulds, coffee cups or glasses. It can also be set in a large dish and served straight from that. If you want to turn out the jellies for a smart presentation, you need to brush your moulds with a non-scented oil such as sunflower to ensure they will slide out easily.
Rich and dark with a lacquer-like shine, chocolate sauce is a classic and it is easy. The most important ingredient is clearly the chocolate, so search for the best quality you can find. I use Valhrona, a wonderful chocolate from France, and generally use the 62% cocoa solid version. If I need a particularly intensely flavoured sauce I will use 70% cocoa solids. I serve the sauce with ice creams and some chocolate puddings. The sauce is best when freshly made but will keep in the fridge for several weeks. If I have stored it for a while, I always warm it up gently before serving.
These puddings, soft and yielding, are delicious and, without doubt, made for chocolate lovers. The combination of ingredients is a classic one but with timeless appeal. The cooked puddings will sit happily in a warm oven for at least an hour before serving and, indeed, could be made ahead of time, allowed to cool and re-heated in a bain-marie in a warm oven. The prunes in the recipe can be replaced with cherries - a delicious variation - in which case I would soak them in Kirsch. Cognac can replace the slightly dryer Armagnac with the prunes. The pudding can be cooked in a large dish or in individual ramekins or even tea cups.
This is a really simple and lovely ice to make with our furry friends. The sauce is delicious and makes the whole combination into a thoroughly refreshing dessert. I serve this with Sugar Biscuits.
These lacy and deliciously crisp biscuits keep perfectly for several days. Serve them with ice creams, sorbets, granitas, mousses and soufflés and anything to do with chocolate. They are also perfect with perfectly ripe fruit such as pears or peaches.
This is a rich and concentrated mousse with a texture that I really like. The combination of the chocolate and the burnt sugar caramel works really well. I like to serve this with caramel sauce and thick pouring cream. Sometimes I can get Jersey cream, and that is just heavenly.
Caramel sauce is a very useful dessert sauce with many uses. Clear and shiny and as richly coloured as well-polished mahogany, it needs to be cooked with care. Use a heavy saucepan with medium high sides and cook it on the heat furthermost from the edge of your cooker, so it is safely away from an awkward elbow or a child's inquisitive reach. It is vital to cook the sugar and water enough to achieve a deep 'chestnut brown' colour, as this 'burning' of the sugar tempers the sweetness of the sauce to achieve a balance that is neither too sweet nor too bitter. The sauce will keep for months in the fridge, but will thicken as it chills, so you may need to dilute it with a little warm water when this happens.