Okay, so maybe they’re not all desserts, some are cookies, or brownies, but they certainly are decadent, and delicious, and downright acceptable for celebrating “No Diet Day”.
The first one is so simple yet awesome that one may cry at just the thought of sinking your teeth into them.
16 tablespoons Nutella (Chocolate Hazelnut Spread), preferably slightly cold
1½ cups all-purpose flour (7½oz)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon table salt
¾ cup unsalted butter (1½ sticks/6oz), softened
1 cup soft light brown sugar (7oz)
½ cup granulated sugar (3½oz)
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder* (1½oz), sift if lumpy
1¼ cup chocolate chips, semisweet or milk or a combination of both*, plus extra for pressing on the cookie dough balls
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat. Using a tablespoon size ice cream scoop or a round measuring tablespoon measuring, scoop out 16 rounded tablespoons of Nutella onto the prepared baking sheet. Freeze until solid, at least one hour or overnight.
Line another baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl and using a hand mixer), beat the butter on medium high speed until soft and slightly lightened in color, about 1 minute.
Add both sugars and beat together until lightened in both colour and texture, about 5 minutes.
Mix in the egg, egg yolk and vanilla until well blended.
On low speed, mix in the cocoa powder.
Add the flour mixture and mix just until combined, leaving a few streaks of flour behind. Do not over mix.
Stir in the chocolate chips, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure that everything is well combined.
Using a ¼ cup measure ice cream scoop, scoop out the dough onto the lined baking sheet, forming 16 equal dough balls.
Using the back of a wooden spoon handle or your thumb, make deep holes into the dough.
Get the Nutella scoops out of the freezer and working quickly, peel the Nutella scoops from the baking sheet and place them in the middle of the dough holes. If you’re working in a warm kitchen, you might want to keep them in the freezer, taking only one by one as you work, to avoid them melting.
Gather the dough up over the Nutella scoops to completely cover them. Roll the dough into balls and place on the baking sheet.
Press a few extra chocolate chips on top of each dough ball then sprinkle with sea salt flakes.
Loosely cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 2 hours, then either bake immediately (from frozen) or transfer to a large zipper lock bag and freeze until needed, overnight or up to 1 month.*
Preheat oven to 350F/180C and adjust oven rack to middle position.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon mat. Place 8 cookie balls per sheet, spacing them at least 2 inches apart.
Bake until the cookies flatten with a slight dome, no longer have a hump in the middle, and the outer edges start to harden yet centers are soft and puffy, 11 to 14 minutes. Start checking at 11 minutes. The centers will feel undone, but they shouldn’t be shiny or sticky. DO NOT OVERBAKE or you’ll get hard cookies. The cookies will continue to bake after they come out of the oven from the residual heat.
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for at least 15 minutes before serving. Or cool completely then store in an airtight container.
*Make sure that the brown sugar used here is the soft kind that feels like wet sand and packs to itself, like Dominos brand or Red Path.
*I used Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa in this recipe for its pleasant milk chocolatey flavour that doesn’t overwhelm the Nutella.
*I prefer equal parts semisweet and milk chocolate chips but use what you prefer.
*You don’t have to bake all the frozen cookie dough all at once. Keep them in your freezer up to one month and bake only the amount you need even if its just one, or for when a chocolate emergency strikes.
If Chocolate isn’t your thing, though that is rarely the case, here is a recipe for ‘Caramelise Banana Pudding’ that is so quick and easy you could do it EVERYDAY.
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 large ripe bananas, sliced
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
2 cups milk
4 large eggs, separated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
48 vanilla wafers
- Cook first 3 ingredients in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes or until bubbly. Add bananas; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat.
- Whisk together 3/4 cup granulated sugar, next 3 ingredients, and 4 egg yolks in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until a pudding-like thickness. (Mixture will just begin to bubble and will hold soft peaks when whisk is lifted.) Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla.
- Divide half of banana mixture, pudding, and wafers among 8 (1-cup) ramekins or ovenproof glass dishes. Layer with remaining banana mixture, pudding, and vanilla wafers.
- Beat 4 egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy. Add remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 Tbsp. at a time, beating until stiff peaks form and sugar dissolves (2 to 4 minutes). Spread meringue over ramekins. Place ramekins on a baking sheet.
- Bake at 325° for 15 to 20 minutes or until meringue is golden. Let cool on a wire rack 30 minutes.
Note: For the best flavour, choose firm, ripe bananas with brown speckles.
A favourite naughty treat of late is the ‘Red Velvet’ phenomenon, with the cake being in demand for almost any momentous occasion. So it seems fitting that a celebration as big as ‘No diet Day’ has it’s own treat from the red velvet variety.
1 (4-oz.) bittersweet chocolate baking bar, chopped
3/4 cup butter $
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs $
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour $
1 (1-oz.) bottle red liquid food coloring
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Small-Batch Cream Cheese Frosting
Garnish: white chocolate curls
- Preheat oven to 350°. Line bottom and sides of a 9-inch square pan with aluminium foil, allowing 2 to 3 inches to extend over sides; lightly grease foil.
- Microwave chocolate and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals. Whisk in sugar. Add eggs, 1 at a time, whisking just until blended after each addition. Gently stir in flour and next 4 ingredients. Pour mixture into prepared pan.
- Bake at 350° for 44 to 48 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 2 hours).
- Lift brownies from pan, using foil sides as handles; gently remove foil. Spread Small-Batch Cream Cheese Frosting on top of brownies, and cut into 16 squares. Garnish, if desired.
Note: Line pan with foil by trimming two long foil pieces to a 9-inch width. Fit strips, crossing each other, in the pan.
Hopping back on the chocolate train (a wonderful place to be), if you are pressed for time, microwave cake is both fast and scrumptious.
100ml sunflower oil, plus extra for pan
175g caster sugar
140g plain flour
3 tbsp cocoa
3 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
Chocolate sprinkles, to serve
For the chocolate ganache
100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
5 tbsp double cream
- Grease a 22cm silicone microwaveable cake pan with a little oil and place a circle of baking parchment in the bottom.
Mix sugar, flour, cocoa and baking powder in a bowl. In a jug, whisk the oil, eggs, vanilla and 100ml hot water until combined.
Add liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly until you have a lump-free batter. Pour mixture into the cake pan and gently tap to pop any air bubbles. Cover with cling film.
Microwave on Full power (800 watts) for 7 mins. Remove and check if the cake is cooked by poking a skewer into the middle: if it comes out clean it is ready. Allow cake to stand for 5 mins, then remove cling film and turn out onto a cooling rack.
For the ganache, melt the chocolate on Half power (600 watts) for approximately 2 mins, stirring every 30 secs until melted. Add the cream and mix thoroughly until smooth and glossy.
Once the cake is cool, spread over the ganache and scatter with the sprinkles. The cake will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
The Cardinal sin of dieters, worldwide.
So taboo, that it has been used as an alternative to swearing.
But today we, and Nigella Lawson, will promote it, as a sneaky treat you can keep in your handbag.
250 grams soft butter
1 x 397 grams can condensed milk
175 ml milk
2 tablespoons golden syrup
800 grams granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
Fill a small bowl or jug with ice cold water and put near the stove. Grease a tin of approx. 30 x 20cm / 12 x 8 inch or 25cm / 10 inch square, or use a throwaway foil tin, as I have in the picture.
Put all the ingredients, apart from the vanilla, into a large, heavy bottomed pan and bring to the boil, stirring constantly.
Boil for 12-20 minutes, still stirring all the time, until the mixture is golden and, when a bit is dropped into the water, it turns solid but still squidgy, i.e., till soft-ball stage (see intro). How long this takes depends on how ferociously it bubbles as well as on the properties and dimensions of the pan. This is hot work!
When the fudge is at soft-ball stage, very carefully remove the pan from the stove and stir in the vanilla.
Preferably using an electric whisk beat for about five minutes, by which time the fudge will have thickened to the texture of stiff peanut butter – this is quite steamy and strenuous – and pour and push into the prepared tin. Smooth the top as well as you can.
Put in the fridge to cool, but don’t keep it there for more than 2 hours, or it will set too hard, then remove and using a sharp knife, cut into squares. This is not a geometrically accurate term, as you can see from my cutting skills.