Tea & biscuit caramel ripple ice cream

Tea & biscuits in an ice cream? Sounds yum…

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It’s a mouthful, but a very delicious mouthful indeed.

A few years ago, in my more obsessed dessert-foodie stage of life, I spent hours upon hours trawling the pages of tastespotting.com for exciting new recipes. I could frequently be found drooling over picture-perfect meringue peaks and oozing chocolate desserts, bookmarking near everything that excited me but with very few recipes actually reimagined in my own kitchen. Except when it came to ice creams. Why ice cream? Perhaps due to its longevity and the fact that you don’t need to worry about eating the whole amount in a few days before it goes off as with other delicious naughty treats. Or maybe it’s because I just love ice cream. Always have done, always will. There are plenty of pictures of me as a toddler with a Mr Whippy, Twister or Fab ice lolly, regardless of the weather. Hard core, oh yeah.

So one day, my virtual travels of the culinary world led me to a rather enticing recipe for tea & biscuit ice cream with a salty caramel swirl (courtesy of the Little Loaf‘s blog page) My curiosity instantly peaked and I just had to try it. To some, it probably sounds disgusting. Not me I – I love tea, and what tea drinker doesn’t love to dunk a McVities Digestive (or other biccy of choice) in a nice cuppa? The recipe had to be tried. Had to. To the kitchen! *Grabs apron superhero-style and bounds round the corner in a puff of icing sugar*

Making this ice cream requires a little patience, as all ice creams do due to the chilling and freezing. But if you’re willing to go the extra mile by making your own caramel too, it’s so worth it. I do every time; it’s not too tricky and less expensive than buying a tub of dulce de leche. Fortunately, the Little Loaf’s author, Kate, leaves a simple recipe at the end of the page which I have turned to time and time again for my caramel needs.

For the ice cream the instructions suggest the use of loose leaf tea, but I steep normal black teabags and the results come out just perfectly. I used 3 PG Tips tea bags for my last batch of ice cream (yes, I’ve made it a fair few times over the years it’s that good!) and they produce a perfectly lovely flavour. So just use whatever tea bags you have, or if you want to splash out on some posher tea – loose leaf or bags – for a higher quality brew, then by all means go ahead and experiment. The tea-custard base is just the right level of sweet to balance the tea’s tannins.

Once the base is cooled and churned to semi-frozen (or arduously frozen by hand – you need have the patience of a saint to do it that way) and ready for the freezer, it’s time to layer up. I would suggest to just use your judgement as to how much caramel and crushed biscuits you add, but I’d say I use about 4-5 tablespoons of caramel and no more than 5-6 crushed Digestives is about right. Make sure your caramel is room temp at least or heated slightly in order to get some good streaks and globs of caramel running through your mix. It’s also good not to pulverise your biscuits completely and leave a few good chunks as a nice textural contrast to all the other smoothness going on. Leave to set for a few hours or overnight, then indulge….

The gorgeous swirl of caramel adds a nice toffee richness to the delicate tea ice cream, while the Digestives add a delicious crunch. For me, this recipe is hands down a winner, and I’ll bet that even non tea-drinkers would like it! You could mix up the biscuits for Hobnobs to add a lovely buttery oatiness, or perhaps some Amaretti biscuits for an almondy Italian twist. The ice cream world is your oyster! Hmmm, a scoop in one of those oyster wafer shells would be interesting too….

If you love your ice cream and enjoy a bit of sweet experimentation, then I highly recommend giving the Little Loaf’s recipe a go. It’s a winner for me and I’ll keep coming back to it for years to come.

I’d say this recipe gets a glass of smooth dessert wine, or perhaps a decent measure of good French Armagnac brandy as an alcoholic ‘thumbs up’ from me. Cheers!

A veggie chilli recipe that packs a punch

You don’t want to miss out on the flavours of this dish…

I love cooking. And I love a delicious, warming, flavoursome chilli – great for those cold and wet winter (or in Britain’s case, summer) evenings to make you feel all scrumptious and satisfied inside. There’s nothing quite like a rich, beefy spiced chilli con carne to hit the spot. Or so I thought…

Earlier in the week, I decided to make the effort and plan a few healthier meals for the next week or so. Not that there’s anything too unhealthy about a beef chilli (unless you load it up with nachos, guacamole, sour cream & cheese of course), but in my scrolling through the BBC’s Good Food website for healthy recipes I came across a rather enticing vegetarian chilli recipe. Full of spices, a dash of cocoa, peppers and beans aplenty, it compelled me to give it a whirl. The taste test proved beyond expectations – and they were already quite high!

During cooking, I was getting all the rich and thick spicy aromas that point to a good,20747837_10210656555991097_1575086748_o flavoursome chilli as it bubbled and thickened in my casserole pot. The preparation took a little effort, but nothing that I’m not used to. It involves blitzing a few ingredients in a food processor to make a paste and a certain amount of chopping, but once all that’s done it’s largely a case of adding the prepared items as and when called for. Then it’s just down to time and heat to mingle the magic inside the pot of glory. The ingredients that give the dish it’s full-on flavour are the roasted peppers – of which you reserve the jar’s liquid and use that in cooking (adds a slight tang, which is an unexpected pleasing quality) – chipotle chilli paste, great for smokiness and punchiness, and a can of refried beans alongside the kidney and black beans. It’s a beany bonanza!

Little side note for anyone else out there with a garlic intolerance like I have: you don’t need to adapt the recipe! There’s no garlic in it! There’s likely to be some in the chipotle paste, but not much over a whole dish. I have to adapt my recipes so often to reduce or eliminate the garlic that it’s really quite refreshing to find a chilli recipe that doesn’t need any changing for my needs, yet still gives such a satisfying and complex flavour 🙂

If you want to jazz it up, go ahead and add cheese, jalapenos, coriander, whatever floats your boat. But honestly, give this recipe a go and I bet you won’t miss the meat! I’m going to let you in on a secret… It’s actually even vegan friendly! But Shhhh – don’t tell the hardcore meat-eaters! You just know that they’ll turn up their noses before they’ve given it a chance.

The recipe is quite simple at heart, but like all good dishes it requires a little time. But most chillies do anyway, so why not give it a go? You really have to try it! The taste is really quite something. Honestly, I troughed my bowlful without even thinking about it and was disappointed when it had all gone! There’s always seconds, and a few more days’ dinners to look forward to…

If you fancy giving it a go, then please do check out the Double Bean & Roasted Pepper Chilli recipe and cook away! You will not regret it or be disappointed with the flavours, I promise!

Reviewski rating: a bottle of rich Cabernet Sauvignon to warm you from head to toe, just like the chilli does.