Rachel Allen was brought up in Dublin and left home at eighteen to study at the world-famous Ballymaloe Cookery School. Rachel is now a busy ...
125 g (41/2 oz) butter, softened, plus extra for greasing (optional)
125 g (41/2 oz) soft light brown sugar
1 tblsp coffee essence (ideally camp or irel)
125 g (41/2 oz) plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
150 ml (5fl oz) double or regular cream, softly whipped, to serve
125 g (41/2 oz) caster sugar
150 ml (5fl oz) double or regular cream
50 ml (2fl oz) whiskey (ideally irish)
4 small ovenproof teacups
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4), and butter the insides of the cups if you intend to tip the cakes out of them to serve.
Cream the butter until soft in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Whisk the eggs together with the coffee essence in a small bowl for just a few seconds until mixed, then gradually add the eggs to the creamed butter mixture, beating all the time.
Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in gently to combine. Divide the mixture between the teacups or ramekins and place these in a deep-sided oven proof dish or roasting tin.
Pour boiling water into the dish so it comes to halfway up the sides of the cups, then bake for 25–30 minutes or until the centre of each cake is springy to the touch.
While the cakes are cooking, make the sauce. Place the sugar in a saucepan with 75ml (3fl oz) of water and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar as the mixture heats up. Turn the heat up to high and continue to boil – but without stirring – until the syrup goes a deep golden caramel colour.
Cook the sauce just to the point when it starts smoking. (If it’s not cooked enough you won’t get a strong enough caramel flavour, but overcooked it will taste slightly bitter.) You may need to swirl the pan, rather than stirring the mixture, towards the end of caramelising to ensure it cooks evenly.
Turn down the heat and immediately stir in the cream and whiskey, taking care as it may bubble and spit, then set aside. You may need to whisk it for a few seconds on a low heat to help the caramel dissolve.
When the cakes are ready, remove from the oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Place on saucers (if using cups), or tip them out onto warm plates. Serve with the warm whiskey sauce and a spoonful of whipped cream.