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From pavlova to cheesecake: Yotam Ottolenghi’s 10 perfect dessert recipes

My first job in a kitchen was whisking egg whites. It was the 1990s, and I was training by day and assisting the pastry chef in a fancy restaurant at night. I spent most of my time beating egg whites for vanilla soufflés; three months in, I was a soufflé expert.

So it must be fate that I made my name with egg whites, sugar and lots of air: those giant meringues that adorn the Ottolenghi shop windows (even if the truth is, I’m ambivalent about them: I like meringue, just not so much of it). But I’ve always had a serious love of all things sweet. There’s nothing like a perfectly light sponge flavoured with spices and citrus, or a mega-crumbly icing-sugar-dusted cookie to raise the spirits. And, yes, I know about the adverse effects of too much sugar, but there’s nothing wrong with a treat.

My long-time collaborator Helen Goh came to the UK from Australia in 2006. At first, I couldn’t understand why she’d left a successful career as a pastry chef (and a psychotherapist) behind – first cooking savoury food, then dreaming up cakes and sweet things in London. Watching her cook, the penny dropped: she has an insatiable drive for perfection. We share the notion that there is no limit to the number of times you can test a cake, or to the thought that can go into a tart to get it just right.

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Our Sunday afternoon tastings were quite something. In just one session, we’d sample three versions of two cakes-in-progress (one flavoured with vanilla, say, another with pandan, a third with Chinese five-spice); a biscuit Helen had tried in the US and wanted to Ottolenghify; confectionery (Italian nougat and chocolate nut brittle); three cordials; and, to round things off, a pancake or waffle. Those afternoons often ended in sugar-induced delirium.

These days, our tastings are not quite the same, because we’re both now parents. Our deliberations are shorter, our cakes more child-friendly. Our children are also our fiercest critics. Just the other day, I offered my son Max a slice of cake. “Did Helen make it?” he asked.

“I’m afraid not,” I said.

“No, then,” came his answer.

Having been put so firmly in my place, all I could do was go back to the kitchen to whip up some egg whites…

Yotam Ottolenghi applies the finishing touch to yet another sweet masterpiece. Cake by isobelbakes.co.uk. Photograph: Alex Lake/The GuardianRolled pavlova with peaches and blackberries

This showstopper (pictured top) makes a real statement. Don’t be put off by its size: large pavlovas are much easier to roll than small ones. We’ve paired late-summer peaches with the blackberries of early autumn, but use whatever fruit you like. The meringue can be baked up to a day ahead. Fill it with fruit and cream up to four hours ahead of time, though it’s best to leave this as close as possible to serving. Serves 10 to 12.

250g egg whites (ie, from six large eggs), at room temperature375g caster sugar2 tsp vanilla extract2 tsp white-wine vinegar2 tsp corn flour

For the filling400ml double cream1 tsp vanilla extract30g icing sugar, sifted, plus extra for dusting5 large, ripe peaches, washed but unpeeled, halved, stoned and cut into 0.5cm-wide segments300g fresh blackberries60g toasted flaked almonds

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Line a 35cm x 30cm shallow baking tray with enough greaseproof paper to hang 2cm over the sides.

To make the meringue, put the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment in place and whisk to soft peaks on a medium-high speed for about a minute. Add the sugar a tablespoon at a time, whisking all the time, and continue to beat for at least five minutes, until the mixture turns into thick, glossy meringue. Turn the speed to low, add the vanilla, vinegar and corn flour, then raise the speed to medium and whisk for a minute, until combined.

Spoon the meringue into the lined tin and use a spatula to spread it out evenly. Place in the heated oven and immediately lower the temperature to 200C/390F/gas mark 6: it’s this contrast in temperatures that helps create that crisp exterior and gooey, marshmallow-like insides. Bake for 35 minutes, until the meringue is pale beige in colour and crusty on top, then remove and set aside until cool. The meringue will puff up in the oven and deflate slightly when cooled. (If you’re making it a day ahead, once cool, cover the tray with a tea towel and keep at room temperature.)

For the filling, beat the cream to very soft peaks – about a minute with an electric whisk on a medium-high speed; longer if whisking by hand. Add the vanilla and icing sugar, and whisk to incorporate.

Place a clean tea towel flat on top of the meringue (or use the one already covering it, if you made it the day before) and quickly but carefully invert it on to the work surface, so the crisp top is now facing down. Lift away the tin and carefully peel off the baking paper, then spread the meringue evenly with two-thirds of the whipped cream. Cover with 500g sliced peaches and 200g blackberries, and sprinkle over 50g almonds.

Now to roll the meringue. Starting with the longest side closest to you, and using the tea towel to assist you, roll the meringue up and over, so it comes together into a log. Gently pull away the tea towel as you roll, then slide the meringue seam side down on to a long tray or platter; don’t worry if it loses its shape a bit, or if some of the fruit spills out.

Pipe or spoon the rest of the cream down the length of the roulade, top with the remaining fruit and nuts, dust with icing sugar, and serve.

Frozen Coloring Pages (Free PDF Printables)
Frozen Coloring Pages (Free PDF Printables)

Chocolate, banana and pecan cookiesYotam Ottolenghi’s chocolate, banana and pecan cookies: under-bake them slightly, so they stay soft and gooey. Photograph: Rita Platts/The Guardian

The banana creates moisture and adds flavour; pecans are the classic match, but walnuts work, too. The secret is to slightly under-bake these cookies, to keep them soft and fudgy. Once rolled into balls, the dough keeps in the fridge for two days, or can be frozen for up to three months (they cook straight from frozen, too: just add a minute to the baking time). Eat within a day of baking. Makes 24.

110g unsalted butter at room temperature, cubed110g caster sugar1 large egg, lightly beaten125g plain flour½ tsp baking powder20g cocoa powder½ tsp ground cinnamon¼ tsp salt100g 70% cocoa chocolate chips (or 100g dark cooking chocolate in 0.5cm pieces)50g mashed banana (½ small banana)170g pecan halves, finely chopped100g icing sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place, beat the butter and sugar on a medium-high speed until light and fluffy, then add the egg and beat to combine. Sift the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt into a bowl, then add to the butter mix, beating on low speed for 15 seconds. Beat in the chocolate and banana until combined, then transfer to the fridge for two hours to firm up.

Once firm, form the dough into 24 3cm balls, about 20g each. Put the pecans in a bowl, then drop in each ball, rolling it around to coat and pressing the nuts in, so they stick.

Put the cookies on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Heat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5 and line two oven trays with baking paper. Put the icing sugar in a bowl and roll the cookies one by one in the sugar, pressing it in as you go, so it sticks. Arrange the cookies on the trays 2-3cm apart, then flatten them to about 1cm thick.

Bake for 10 minutes, then remove: the cookies will be soft to the touch. Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then move to a rack. Serve warm or cool.

Middle Eastern millionaire’s shortbreadYotam Ottolenghi’s Middle Eastern millionaire’s shortbread: a less mouth-puckeringly sweet adaptation. Photograph: Rita Platts/The Guardian

This transforms the famously cloying biscuit into something much better, with a slight bitterness and a touch of salt to offset all the sweetness. The shortbread can be made up to four days ahead and stored in an airtight container; it freezes well, too. The finished biscuits keep for up to a week in an airtight container in the fridge. Remove 20 minutes before serving, to take off the chill. Makes 16.

For the shortbread40g icing sugar35g corn flour40g caster sugar175g unsalted butter, melted and cooled½ tsp vanilla extract250g plain flour⅛ tsp salt

For the halva200g halva, crumbled into small pieces80g tahini

For the tahini caramel200g caster sugar120ml water100g unsalted butter at room temperature, cubed80ml double cream150g tahini paste¼ tsp sea salt flakes

Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Line a 20cm square tin with baking paper, making sure the paper comes well over the edges.

For the shortbread, sift the icing sugar and corn flour into the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place, then add the caster sugar and mix on a medium speed. With the motor running, slowly pour in the cooled melted butter and beat to combine. Add the vanilla, turn the speed to low, then sift in the flour and salt, and beat until the dough comes together.

Tip the mixture into the lined tin and use your hands to even out the top. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown, then remove and leave to cool. This will take an hour – don’t start the caramel too soon, or it will set by the time the shortbread is cool.

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For the halva layer, put the halva and tahini in a small bowl and mix with a wooden spoon to combine. Spread this over the cooled shortbread and use the back of a spoon to smooth it into an even layer.

For the caramel, put the sugar and water into a small saucepan on a medium-low heat. Stir occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil and cook for 12 minutes, until the sugar is a deep golden brown. Remove from the heat and add the butter and cream – take care, because it will splutter. Whisk to combine and, once the butter has melted, add the tahini and salt. Whisk to combine, then pour evenly over the halva layer in the tin, so it’s all covered. Transfer to the fridge and chill for at least four hours, until set. Cut into 10cm x 2.5cm bars, sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over the middle of each bar and serve.

Neapolitan pound cakeYotam Ottolenghi’s Neopolitan pound cake: the pink icing isn’t compulsory, but it adds an attractive kitschness. Photograph: Rita Platts/The Guardian

We’ve gone for classic Neapolitan colours with the pink icing (heaven for a child’s birthday party), but white or cream icing will also work. The degree of pinkness (or any colour, for that matter) will depend on the type of food colouring you choose: you’ll need anything from a whole tube (if you use a basic liquid gel) to an eighth of a teaspoon (if you use a concentrated gel). Always start with a little and take it from there, because it’s much easier to add more than to take any away. Un-iced, the cake will keep at room temperature for up to three days, wrapped in cling-film; it can also be frozen for up to three months. Once iced, it’s best eaten on the same day. Serves 10.

90ml full-fat milk at room temperature, plus 20ml extra for the cocoa paste6 large eggs, at room temperature1 tbsp vanilla extract200g self-raising flour100g plain flour, plus extra for dusting½ tsp salt300g caster sugar300g unsalted butter, soft but not oily, diced, plus extra for greasing2 tbsp Dutch-processed cocoa powderA drop or two of food colouring (gel or paste, ideally)

For the icing45ml full-fat milk, warmed260g icing sugar, sifted30g unsalted butter, soft½ tsp vanilla extractA drop or two of food colouring (gel or paste, ideally)

Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Grease and flour a 23cm bundt tin and set aside.

For the cake, put the milk, eggs and vanilla extract in a medium bowl and whisk lightly, just to combine. Sift the flours and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place, then add the sugar and mix on a low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and half the egg mixture, mix until well incorporated, then increase the speed to medium and beat for one minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the remaining egg mixture in two batches, making sure the first batch is fully incorporated before adding the second. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again, then divide the batter equally between three small bowls.

Warm the extra 20ml milk in a small saucepan, then put it in a small bowl with the cocoa powder. Stir to make a smooth and very thick paste, then mix into one of the bowls of cake batter. Tint the second bowl of cake batter with the food colouring, adding a drop or two at a time until it’s the colour you want. Leave the third bowl of batter as it is.

Spoon the three bowls of batter into the prepared tin in six alternate blocks, two of each colour, then use a skewer or knife to make one zigzag-shaped swirl through the mix, to create a marble effect (don’t be tempted to overdo the swirling, or you’ll lose the marbling).

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean, then remove and set aside for 10 minutes.

For the icing, combine the warm milk and icing sugar in a small bowl. Add the butter and vanilla, whisk smooth, then add a drop or two of food colouring and mix again. Spoon over the cooled cake, so it drips unevenly down the sides, leave to set for a few minutes, and serve.

free printable Elsa coloring pages in vector format, easy to
free printable Elsa coloring pages in vector format, easy to

Knickerbocker gloryYotam Ottolenghi’s knickerbocker glory: a childhood treat revisited. Photograph: Rita Platts/The Guardian

This is our go-to happy-making dessert. The conical glass, the long spoon, the colours, the connotations: knickerbocker glory is the definition of good old-fashioned fun. That said, happiness shouldn’t be dependent on props, so don’t be put off if you don’t have traditional sundae glasses or spoons. To make things easier, the ice-cream we’ve gone for is a semifreddo, which doesn’t need churning. Fresh raspberries are lovely, of course, but frozen ones also work well. You’ll need to freeze the glasses before assembling. Serves six.

For the semifreddo600g raspberries (fresh or frozen and defrosted)2 tbsp icing sugar200ml double cream1 large egg, plus 2 large egg yolks1 tsp lemon juice180g caster sugar⅛ tsp salt

For the candied pecans1 tbsp maple syrup1 tbsp liquid glucose1 tbsp caster sugar120g pecan halves⅛ tsp flaky sea salt

For the chantilly cream300ml double cream2 tbsp icing sugar, sifted1 tsp vanilla extract

To finishAbout 5 red plums, stoned and chopped into 3cm chunks

Blitz the raspberries to a puree, then pass this through a fine sieve into a bowl, to remove the seeds. (Use the back of a large spoon to scrape the fruit through the sieve; you may need to do this in batches.) Measure out 260ml of the puree and set aside, then sift the icing sugar into the rest (there should be about 100ml), pour into a jug and refrigerate.

Whip 200ml double cream to soft peaks, then refrigerate.

Pour enough water into a medium saucepan to come 2cm up the sides: you want the bowl from your mixer to sit over the pan without touching the water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer.

Whisk the egg, egg yolks, lemon juice, sugar and salt in the clean bowl of an electric mixer, then place the bowl over the simmering water and whisk continuously for about five minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is very warm. Put the bowl back on the mixer with the whisk attachment in place and beat on a medium-high speed until it is thick and cool: it will thicken quite quickly, but takes 10 minutes or more to cool. Add the 260ml raspberry puree and whisk on a low speed to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and carry on mixing until well combined. Fold in the cold whipped cream from the fridge, then scrape the lot into a large freezer-proof container, cover with cling-film and freeze for at least 12 hours.

Put some tall glasses in the freezer to chill. Heat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5 and line an oven tray (with a lipped edge) with greaseproof paper. Put the maple syrup, glucose and sugar in a small saucepan over a low heat. Stir gently, until the sugar has melted, then add the pecans and salt. Stir so the nuts are coated, then tip on to the tray. Roast for about eight minutes, until the syrup is bubbling around the nuts, then remove and leave to cool. Once cool, the glaze should be completely crisp (if not, return the tray to the oven for a few minutes, then leave to cool and set again). Break or roughly chop the nuts into 0.5cm pieces, and set aside until ready to use.

For the chantilly cream, put the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment in place, add the icing sugar and vanilla, and whip to soft peaks. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate.

To assemble the knickerbocker glories, take the semifreddo from the freezer 10 minutes beforehand, so it’s soft enough to scoop. Remove the glasses from the freezer and divide the chopped plums between them. Drizzle half a tablespoon of the sweetened raspberry puree over each serving, add a tablespoon of pecans, then spoon a large scoop of semifreddo on top. Drizzle over the remaining sauce – about half a tablespoon per glass – followed by a small tablespoon of nuts and a couple of big dollops of whipped cream. Finish with a final sprinkling of chopped nuts and serve at once.

Coffee and walnut financiersYotam Ottolenghi’s coffee and walnut financiers: make life easy by baking them in muffin tins. Photograph: Rita Platts/The Guardian

Financiers are similar to friands, another little French cake whose elegance and svelteness belie quite how much (burnt) butter is built into their being. It’s this beurre noisette that gives them that rich, nutty flavour. They are typically rectangular, and at work we make them in straight, high-sided popover tins, so the icing trickles down the sides. These tins aren’t easy to come by, however, so we’ve adjusted the recipe to work in a regular muffin or mini-muffin tin. As mini-muffins, they’re the perfect end to a meal, to accompany coffee.

Financiers are best eaten on the day they’re baked, but these will keep for up to two days in a sealed container. The batter can be made and kept in the fridge for up to two days. Makes 12 (in a regular muffin tin) or 24 (in a mini-muffin tin).

80g walnut halves, plus an extra 12–24 halves, to garnish120g unsalted butter, cut into 2cm cubes, plus extra for greasing220g icing sugar90g plain flour, plus extra for dusting1 tsp baking powder¼ tsp salt80g ground almonds230g egg whites (from 6 large eggs)1 tbsp instant coffee granules, dissolved in 70ml boiling water1½ tsp ground espresso coffee

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For the icing250g icing sugar2½ tsp instant coffee granules35ml hot full-fat milk15g liquid glucose

Heat the oven to 170C/335F/gas mark 3. Spread the walnuts on a baking tray, roast for 10 minutes, then remove and, when they’re cool enough to handle, roughly chop into 0.5–1cm pieces.

To make the batter, start by browning the butter. Put it in a small saucepan and cook over a medium heat until melted. Continue to cook until the butter is foaming, swirling the pan so the solids brown more evenly. Leave the butter to bubble away until it turns a rich golden brown, then take off the heat and leave to stand for five minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh (or muslin-lined) sieve, discarding the solids, then leave to cool slightly. It should still be warm when you fold it into the mix: if it’s too hot, it will “cook” the egg whites; if it’s too cool, it will be hard to incorporate.

While the butter is cooling, sift the icing sugar, flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl, then whisk in the almonds. Put the egg whites in a bowl and use a fork to froth them up a little – you don’t need to whisk them. Pour the egg whites and dissolved coffee granules into the dry ingredients, and stir until just combined. Add the browned butter and mix until the batter is thick, shiny and smooth. Fold in the walnuts and ground coffee, then cover with cling-film and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Butter the moulds of your chosen muffin tin, dust with flour and tap away any excess. Spoon the batter into each mould, filling them three-quarters full, then bake for about 25 minutes if using a regular muffin tin, 14 for a mini-muffin tin, or until the tops are a little cracked and a skewer comes out clean.

Make the icing while the financiers are baking. Sift the icing sugar into a medium bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Mix until smooth, then set aside. Don’t worry if there are undissolved coffee granules in the icing: they look good in the finished dish.

Remove the tin from the oven, set aside to cool for five minutes, then gently tap it against a work surface, to encourage the cakes to fall out. Put the financiers on a rack to cool.

To serve, spread the icing on top and finish each financier with a walnut half, a dusting of icing sugar and a little finely ground espresso.

Fig and pistachio frangipane tartletsYotam Ottolenghi’s fig and pistachio frangipane tartlets: a late-summer treat. Photograph: Rita Platts/The Guardian

When we posted a shot of these on Instagram, they got a big thumbs-up from our followers. These tarts are lovely just as they are, or with a spoonful of vanilla ice-cream, soured cream or creme fraiche. If you can’t get hold of big figs, use six smaller ones and cut them in half rather than quarters. (Alternatively, raspberries work well, too: put three large raspberries in the centre of each tart and bake.)

As with many of our recipes that call for a nip of brandy, don’t worry if you don’t have an open bottle to hand: it’s not there for its flavour, but to draw out the subtle flavour of the pistachios, so these tartlets work just fine without. You’ll need only two-thirds of the pastry here, so freeze the rest for another time. Makes 12.

For the sweet shortcrust pastry300g plain flour, plus extra for dusting90g icing sugar¼ tsp salt200g unsalted butter, fridge-cold, cut into cubes, plus an extra 10g, melted, for brushingFinely grated zest of 1 lemon (1 tsp)1 large egg yolk20ml water

For the pistachio frangipane cream90g shelled pistachios, plus extra, blitzed, to finish (optional)35g ground almonds35g plain flour⅛ tsp salt125g unsalted butter, at room temperature125g caster sugar Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (1 tsp)2 large eggs, lightly beaten1 tbsp brandy (optional)3 large ripe figs, quartered

To make the pastry, sift the flour, icing sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and lemon zest, then pulse a few times, until the mixture is the consistency of fresh breadcrumbs. Whisk the egg yolk and water, then add to the mix: the dough should feel quite wet. Process once more, just until the dough comes together, then tip on to a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough into a ball, wrap loosely in cling-film and press gently into a flattish disc. The dough will be very soft, so keep it in the fridge for at least an hour (or up to three days).

Lightly brush the moulds of a regular muffin tin with melted butter and dust with flour, tapping out any excess.

If the dough has been in the fridge for more than a few hours, let it rest at room temperature for up to 30 minutes before rolling. Tip it out on to on a lightly floured worktop, tap all over with a rolling pin to soften slightly, then roll out to 2-3mm thick. Using a 10cm or 11cm round cookie cutter, cut out 12 circles, and gently ease these into the muffin moulds, pressing them down to fill the moulds. Refrigerate the muffin tin for at least an hour.

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Line the pastry cases with baking paper or liners. Fill with a layer of rice or baking beans, and blind-bake for 25-30 minutes, until the pastry shells are light golden brown around the edges. Remove the paper and rice or beans, then leave the shells to cool in the tin.

To make the frangipane cream, put the pistachios in the small bowl of a food processor and grind until fine but not oily. Transfer to a small bowl, and mix in the ground almonds, flour and salt.

Put the butter, sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Cream on a medium speed for a minute or two, until light but not too fluffy, then turn the speed to low and gradually add the beaten eggs. Don’t worry if the mix curdles a bit at this stage: it will come together again later. Add the nut/flour mix, beat on a low speed until combined, then add the brandy (if using).

Turn up the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Using a piping bag or two dessert spoons, fill the baked tart cases (still in their tin) with frangipane to come about two-thirds of the way up the sides of the cases. Place a quarter-fig cut side up in the middle of each tart, and press down gently, so it’s slightly embedded in the mixture. Once all the cases are filled, bake for about 20 minutes, until the frangipane starts to brown at the edges but the middle is still slightly soft. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then ease the tarts out of their moulds and place on a wire rack to cool. Serve sprinkled with blitzed pistachios, if you like.

Frozen Coloring Pages (Free PDF Printables)
Frozen Coloring Pages (Free PDF Printables)

Rum and raisin cake with rum caramel icingYotam Ottolenghi’s rum and raisin cake with rum caramel icing: rum and raisin work in a lot more than ice-cream. Photograph: Rita Platts/The Guardian

We make this in a 23cm bundt tin. If you don’t have one, use a 23cm round springform tin instead – it won’t look quite as pretty, but it will still work. The raisins need to be prepared a day ahead, so they’re nice and plump from soaking up all the booze. Iced or un-iced, this cake will keep for two to three days in an airtight container. Serves eight to 10.

200g raisins120ml dark rum300g plain flour, plus extra for dusting 1 tsp baking powder1 tsp bicarbonate of soda½ tsp ground cinnamon¼ tsp salt250g unsalted butter at room temperature, plus extra for greasing250g light brown muscovado sugar1 tsp vanilla extract 2 large eggs200g soured cream

For the rum caramel icing60g unsalted butter80g light brown muscovado sugar3 tbsp milk1 tbsp dark rum100g icing sugar, sifted

A day ahead, put the raisins and rum in a large jar or container for which you have a lid. Give it a good shake and leave to macerate for a day. Whenever you walk past the jar, give it another shake.

The next day, heat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5, and grease and flour a 23cm round bundt tin.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarb, cinnamon and salt into a medium bowl. Put the butter, sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place, and beat on a medium-high speed until smooth and light. Add the eggs one a time, beating well after each addition, then reduce the speed to low and, with the machine running, add the flour mix alternately with the soured cream, beginning and ending with the flour mix, to stabilise the mixture and prevent it from curdling. Finally, add the soaked raisins and rum, and mix on a low speed just to combine.

Scrape the mix into the tin, smooth the top, and bake for 50 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Take the cake from the oven, leave for 15 minutes, then invert on to a wire rack and leave to cool.

Make the icing only when you are ready to serve. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat, then add the sugar and cook for one minute, stirring continuously, until the mix comes together. Add the milk, increase the heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, add the rum, mix well and leave to cool to room temperature. Once cool, beat in half the icing sugar using a wooden spoon. Once incorporated, add the remaining icing sugar and beat until thick and smooth. Spread the icing all over the top of the cake, letting it run slowly down the sides, leave to set a little and serve.

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Hot chocolate and lime puddingsYotam Ottolenghi’s hot chocolate and lime puddings and lime meringue cheesecakes: a stress-free alternative to soufflé, and a showstopper of a cheesecake. Photograph: Rita Platts/The Guardian

These deliver the lightness of a soufflé without any of the anxiety. There is just a suggestion of lime from the zest, but feel free to use orange zest instead if the combination of chocolate and orange appeals more. These can be made in ceramic or glass 200ml ramekins (ours are 10cm wide); alternatively, use 200ml dariole moulds. They are best served warm, but will keep for a day or two at room temperature (don’t keep them in the fridge, or the soft insides will set). Serves six.

15g unsalted butter, softened200g 70% cocoa solid dark cooking chocolate, roughly chopped100g 37% cocoa solid milk cooking chocolate, roughly choppedFinely grated zest of three limes (1 tbsp)Four large eggs, at room temperature60g caster sugar, plus 30g for preparing the moulds110ml double cream200g creme fraiche, to serve

Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Brush the ramekins or moulds with softened butter, then sprinkle with caster sugar to coat evenly.

Melt the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure the base isn’t touching the water; stir with a spatula from time to time, so it melts evenly. Remove the bowl from the heat, stir in the lime zest and leave to cool for 10 minutes, until tepid.

Put the eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment in place and beat on high speed for six minutes, until very light, fluffy and trebled in volume. Meanwhile, put the double cream in a medium bowl and whisk to soft peaks.

Gently fold the melted chocolate in two batches into the egg mix. When almost combined, fold in the whipped cream until thoroughly combined: it will lose a little volume, so take care not to over-mix.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared ramekins, filling them three-quarters of the way up the sides. Put the ramekins in a large, deep baking dish, transfer to the oven and pour boiling water into the tray so it comes a third of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until the puddings are softly set in the middle: check by gently tapping the centre of the puddings with a fingertip. Remove from the oven, transfer the ramekins to serving plates and serve at once with a little creme fraiche spooned alongside.

Lime meringue cheesecakes

Part lime meringue pie, part classic cheesecake, this is an impressive dessert. It’s one to save for a special occasion, because there’s a fair bit of work. That said, you can make two of the three layers (the base layer and the cheesecake) a day ahead, which helps, leaving just the meringue to make on the day itself.

We use a Swiss meringue for the cheesecake, because of its chewy, marshmallow-like texture. Beyond the heat treatment the egg whites and sugar receive before being whipped, there’s no extra baking, so it’s important to ensure they’re very warm, ideally reaching 71C on a sugar thermometer. In addition to the thermometer, you would ideally also have a blowtorch to brown the meringue, because that produces the best results. If you don’t have one, grill until browned. We like to make these as individual cakes, in 8cm round cake rings; slightly smaller rings are fine, if that’s all you have (you’ll just make an extra cake as a result), but don’t be tempted to use larger rings: part of the attractiveness of these cakes is their height, and you will lose that if they are too wide. You will also need a piping bag with a 1cm tip for piping the meringue “kisses”.

The base can be made a day in advance and stored in the fridge. The cheesecake (without the meringue topping) can be made a day in advance and refrigerated overnight. The nut topping can be made up to five days in advance and stored in an airtight container. Once the meringues have been browned, however, they are best eaten within three or four hours. Makes eight.

For the base60g brazil nuts140g digestive biscuits, roughly broken20g desiccated coconut70g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing

For the filling280g cream cheese410g tinned condensed milk120g egg yolks (from 6 large eggs)200ml freshly squeezed lime juiceFinely grated zest of 2 limes (2 tsp)

For the topping (optional)15g coconut chips25g brazil nuts, thinly sliced20g soft dark brown sugar½ tsp lime juice

For the meringue100g egg whites (from about 2½ large eggs)180g caster sugar⅛ tsp salt

Heat the oven to 170C/335F/gas mark 3. Lightly grease the sides of eight individual 8cm-wide cake rings, and line the sides with greaseproof paper so it comes 4cm above the top of the rings. Put the lined rings on a large baking sheet that is itself lined with greaseproof paper.

For the base, spread out the brazil nuts on a baking tray and roast for about 12 minutes, until lightly golden. Leave to cool, then blitz in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the biscuits to the food processor, blitz to fine crumbs and tip the nuts and biscuits into a small bowl. Add the coconut and melted butter, and mix in well using your hands. Put two heaped tablespoons of the crumb mix into each ring, using your hands to press them into the base. Even out the crust with the back of a spoon or the base of a glass, then refrigerate.

To make the filling, put the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Mix on a medium-low speed until creamy, then add the condensed milk and egg yolks. Continue to mix until smooth, scraping down the sides occasionally, then add the lime juice, mix again to incorporate, then strain into a large jug. Stir in the lime zest, then pour the mix into the prepared rings so it comes three-quarters of the way up the sides.

Bake the cheesecakes for 20 minutes, until set, then remove and leave to cool. Cover lightly with cling-film and refrigerate for at least four hours, or overnight.

To make the topping, toast the coconut and brazil nuts in a small saucepan on a medium heat for about three minutes, stirring frequently, until a light golden brown. Add the sugar and lime juice, cook for a minute more, until melted and well combined, then tip on to a tray lined with greaseproof paper and leave to cool.

Make the meringue on the day of serving. Into a pan large enough for the bowl of your electric mixer to sit on top, pour enough water to come a quarter of the way up the sides and bring to a boil. Put the egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of the mixer with the whisk attachment in place and whisk to combine. Reduce the heat under the pan so the water is just simmering, then place the bowl on the pan, making sure the water doesn’t touch its base. Whisk the eggs for five minutes by hand, until very warm, then put the bowl back on the electric mixer stand and whisk for about five minutes on a high speed, until the meringue is stiff and cool. Transfer the meringue to a piping bag fitted with a 1cm tip.

Carefully remove the rings and paper collars from the cheesecakes, then pipe meringue “kisses” on top and, using a blowtorch, ideally, heat the meringue so that parts of it turn a golden brown. Alternatively, put the tray under a hot grill for one to two minutes.

This is an edited extract from Sweet, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh, published next week by Ebury Press at £27. To order a copy for £20.25, a 25% saving, go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846.

Photographer’s assistant: Veerle Evens. Food Stylist: Laurie Perry. Prop Stylist: Louie Waller.

Commenting on this piece? If you would like your comment to be considered for inclusion on Weekend magazine’s letters page in print, please email [email protected], including your name and address (not for publication).

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