Recipes from I'm Just Here for Dessert


donut worries

Donut worries

1. Add 1/2 a capful of strawberry essence to the Ombre Icing (p. 90). Tint the icing with a tiny bit of AmeriColor Soft Gel Paste in Dusty Rose to create a pale pink.
2. To decorate, add some edible eyes, a mini meringue (p. 49), touches of gold leaf, some white sprinkles and a dusting of crushed meringue.

Basic donuts
MAKES: 12–14 donuts
PREP TIME: 10 minutes BAKING TIME: 10–12 minutes.

• 150 g (51/2 oz) Nuttelex or unsalted butter, softened
• 110 g (33/4 oz/1/2 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
• 1 egg
• 60 ml (2 fl oz/1/4 cup) milk
• 60 g (21/4 oz) plain yoghurt, or yoghurt with a sweet flavoured syrup like strawberry, rhubarb or watermelon
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or essence
• 190 g (63/4 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• canola oil cooking spray

• electric kitchen scales
• stand mixer with whisk attachment
• measuring jug and spoons
• large piping (icing) bag with large piping tip 1A
• 2 or 3 donut baking tins (how many you need will depend on how many holes the tins have)
• 2 wire racks

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) fan-forced (FF).
2 Place the Nuttelex (or butter) and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on a low then medium speed until light and fluffy.
3. With the mixer still going, add the egg, milk, yoghurt and vanilla, and mix until just combined.
4. Add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon, and mix until a soft dough has formed — this should only take 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl, if necessary, to ensure all the ingredients have combined evenly.
5. Place the dough in a piping bag fitted with a piping tip.
6. Evenly spray the donut tins with canola spray.
7. Using firm pressure, pipe the dough into the donut holes ensuring it only comes three-quarters of the way up each hole.
8. Bake for 10–12 minutes, or until lightly golden.
9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Allow to cool down fully before you start decorating.

Ombre Iced Donuts
This icing will easily make enough for 12 donuts. You want to make sure that you have a good amount of icing to dip your donuts in. To achieve this ombre look, you need to create grades of one colour in the same family, starting from the lightest tone and working to the darkest. Start with just a little colouring
at the beginning because you can only go darker from there.

Ombre Icing
• 400 g (14 oz) pure icing (confectioners’) sugar
• 125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) water
• flavouring: extract or essence of your choice (optional)
• AmeriColor Soft Gel Paste in Dusty Rose (or any other colour you like)

• electric kitchen scales
• sieve
• stand mixer with whisk attachment
• metal tablespoon
• metal spatula

1. Sift the sugar into the bowl of your stand mixer.
2. Mix on a low speed, slowly adding one tablespoon of water at a time. If you add too much water at the start, you may end up with a really runny icing. The consistency you are looking for when making this icing is thick like honey, so the slower you add the water, the easier this is to monitor. You may find that you don‘t need to use the all the water. If you find that the water is not enough, add some more — again in a controlled way, adding a little at a time.
3. Once you feel the mixture has the right consistency, turn the mixer up to high speed for 2 minutes, add a little capful of flavouring (if using) and a drop of colour to make the icing the lightest shade of the colours you are going to create.
4. If your donuts are still warm, pop them in the freezer on a wire rack for 12 minutes so they get really cold before you start dipping them in the icing. This helps the glaze set quickly and gives a more polished look. To achieve an ombre look on the donuts, dip a donut into the bowl of icing so it is halfway in, not completely submerged. Apply a tiny bit of pressure then be gentle when removing. You may want to use a small metal spatula to help lift it until you get the hang of it. Repeat with a few more.
5. Once you have iced a few donuts in the first shade of colour, simply add a drop more of the same colouring to the icing, whisk in well, then ice a few more donuts. Tint the icing darker still, then ice a few more. Continue until the icing is used up.
6. If you find that your icing is getting a little dry, add a small amount of water to the icing and whisk for a few seconds.

Basic meringues
MAKES: 60 eeni mini meringues or 8 dessert-sized portions
PREP TIME: 5 minutes BAKING TIME: 20 minutes with a further
40 minutes drying in the oven

• 2 egg whites
• 110 g (33/4 oz/1/2 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
• 1 teaspoon white vinegar
• flavoured extract or essence such as vanilla or strawberry (optional)
• a drop of AmeriColor Soft Gel Paste food colouring (optional)

• 2 baking trays
• baking paper
• stand mixer with whisk attachment
• electric kitchen scales
• piping (icing) bag with pipe tip (see page 167 for suggestions)
• 2 wire racks

1. Preheat the oven to 100°C (200°F) fan-forced (FF).
2. Line two trays with baking paper.
3. Using a stand mixer on high speed, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form.
4. Reduce the speed to a medium setting and, using a tablespoon, add the sugar one tablespoon at a time until all of the sugar is added and the mixture is smooth and glossy.
5. Add the vinegar, the flavouring and the food colouring, if using. Whisk as before, on high speed for 3–5 minutes, or until the meringue has doubled in volume and the mixture is shiny.
6. Using a piping bag and piping tip of your choice, pipe a couple of dots directly onto the baking tray and place the baking paper on top. This will ensure that the baking paper doesn’t move around.
7. If making eeni mini meringues, pipe 60 small rounds of meringue evenly onto your baking trays. Place the trays in the oven for 20 minutes.
8. After 20 minutes, turn the oven off and leave the meringues in the oven for a further 40 minutes.
9. When the time is up, remove the meringues from the oven, leave on the tray to cool for 10 minutes then carefully transfer to wire racks to cool completely. 

Download printable recipe (PDF)



caramel macarons

Caramel macarons with pink salt

For 15 filled macarons you will need:
• piping (icing) bag with pipe tip 12
• 300 g (101/2 oz) basic buttercream (about 1/2 a batch) (p. 68)
• 30 macaron shells (p. 108)
• gooey caramel (p. 113)
• pink Himalayan sea salt

1. Pipe the buttercream in an anticlockwise direction around the around the periphery of 15 macaron shells, leaving their centres empty.
2. Drop 1/2 a teaspoon of caramel into the centre of each macaron followed by a small sprinkle of the pink salt. Put the empty shells on top of their filled partners and press down gently to make 15 macarons. Place in the fridge to set and then serve, preferably that day, but these will keep in an airtight container for 4 days.

asic buttercream

MAKES: 600 g (1 lb 5 oz), enough to decorate 6 large cupcakes, 24 eeni mini cupcakes or enough to fill and decorate one eeni mini cake
PREP TIME: 5 minutes

• 125 g (41/2 oz/1/2 cup) softened unsalted butter (see note)
• 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) soft icing mixture, sifted
• 50 ml (11/2 fl oz) milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or essence
• food colouring (optional)

• electric kitchen scales
• measuring jug
• sieve
• measuring spoons
• stand mixer with whisk attachment
• silicone spatula

Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until light and fluffy, about 4–5 minutes.

NOTE If you are dairy intolerant, replace the butter with Nuttelex or an equivalent product and use soy milk as an alternative to milk.

TIP If not using immediately, say for 1 or 2 hours, cover with plastic wrap directly on the buttercream and leave at room temperature. Before using, whisk again and add a drop of milk to loosen, if needed. If making ahead, this can also be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Again, just make sure the plastic wrap is touching the buttercream, allow to come to room temperature and whisk again before using, adding a drop of milk
if needed.

Basic macarons (Italian meringue method)

MAKES: 30 filled macarons
PREP TIME: 30 minutes BAKING TIME: 11–12 minutes

• 200 g (7 oz) almond meal
• 190 g (63/4 oz) soft icing mixture or icing (confectioners’) sugar
• 165 g (53/4 oz) egg whites (for macarons, I use eggs that are 5 days before their best-before date)
• 1/4 teaspoon powdered egg albumen
• 200 g (7 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
• a drop of AmeriColor Soft Gel Paste if you want pastel-hued macarons (optional)

• electric kitchen scales
• drum sieve
• large stainless-steel bowl
• stand mixer with whisk attachment
• heavy-based saucepan
• sugar thermometer
• silicone spatula
• piping (icing) bag with pipe tip 12
• 2–4 baking trays (depending on how you space your piped macarons as you pipe them)
• good-quality baking paper
• damp clean tea towel
• plastic scraper
• 2 wire racks

1. Preheat the oven to 60°C (140°F) fan-forced (FF).
2. Measure the almond meal and soft icing mixture then, using a drum sieve, sift both ingredients twice into a large stainless-steel mixing bowl. Set aside. (Trust me, doing this twice is very important.)
3. Add half of the egg whites to the mixing bowl with the almond meal mixture then set aside. Place the other half in the bowl of a stand mixer.
4. Add the powdered egg albumen to the bowl of the stand mixer.
5. Put the caster sugar in heavy-based saucepan with 70 ml (21/4 fl oz) of cold water. Place the sugar thermometer in the saucepan and set it to 100°C (200°F), then turn the heat up to high.
6. When the sugar syrup reaches 100°C (200°F), add one drop of colour to it, and then set the sugar thermometer to 108°C (226°F).
7. When the sugar syrup reaches temperature, increase the sugar thermometer temperature to its final setting: 114°C (237°F). While that is coming up to temperature, turn the stand mixer to the highest setting and whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. 8. When the sugar syrup reaches temperature, remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool for a few seconds. Reduce the stand mixer speed to slow and slowly pour in the sugar syrup. Increase the speed to high and beat the mixture for 10 minutes.
9. Using your spatula, incorporate the remaining egg white into the almond meal and icing sugar mixture until a thick paste has formed.
10. Once the stand mixer has been going for 10 minutes, turn it off. Remove the whisk attachment and tap (quite aggressively) the small amount of mixture that is on the whisk into the large bowl of almond paste. Mix this meringue into the almond paste to loosen it.
11. Add the remaining meringue to the paste and gently fold it through until fully mixed. This process should take 3–4 minutes. What you are trying to achieve is a thick lava-like mixture that has a good shine to it (see page 106 for more guidance). Excessive mixing will result in a really loose batter, which will cause your macarons to spread out after they are piped.

Piping and baking the macarons

1. Place half of this mixture into a piping bag, ensuring your pipe tip is inserted first.
2. Place 4 small dots of meringue in each corner of each baking tray, then place a sheet of baking paper on top to ’glue’ it down.
3. Pipe 3 cm (11/4 inch) rounds on the tray about the same distance apart. Depending on the size of your oven and trays, you should be able to fit
30 shells on one tray, even with a small oven.
4. Repeat the same process with the next tray.
5. Place the trays in the oven and leave for 7 minutes to air-dry — if the humidity is quite high in the room, you may need to dry the macarons longer, possibly up to 20 minutes. When they have dried, you should be able to touch them and have no batter come off on your fingers. I suggest touching one at the front of the tray and one in the middle.
6. Once the macarons are dry, remove the trays from the oven and place onto wire racks. (The kitchen bench top may be cold, and this can cause the macarons to deflate. Wire racks prevent this shock.) Turn the oven up to 160°C (315°F) (FF).
7. Once the oven is up to temperature, return the macarons to the oven for 11–12 minutes.
8. Remove from the oven and gently move the baking paper off each tray and onto a damp tea towel.
9. Using a scraper, carefully transfer the macarons to wire racks to cool completely.
10. The shells will keep in an airtight container for 4 days in the fridge. You can also freeze them with no filling for 2 months. If you choose to do this, remove them from the freezer, place in the fridge for 12 hours to defrost, then add filling and consume within 24 hours.

Gooey caramel

MAKES: 1 dessert-sized bowl (200 g/7 oz) enough to fill 30+ macarons

• 40 g (11/2 oz) unsalted butter
• 80 g (23/4 oz) soft brown sugar
• 100 ml (31/2 fl oz) thick (double) cream
• 1 tablespoon golden syrup or treacle

Place all the ingredients in a heavy-based saucepan over a high heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Spoon into a bowl, allow to cool a little, then place plastic wrap directly onto the caramel and allow to set in the fridge for a few hours.

Download printable recipe (PDF)


frangipane Dream

Frangipane Dream 
MAKES: enough filling for four small 10 cm (4 inch) tarts
PREP TIME: 10 minutes

• 90 g (31/4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
• 100 g (31/2 oz) caster (superfine) sugar, plus an extra teaspoon for decorating
• 2 eggs
• 90 g (31/4 oz) almond meal
• 15 g (1/2 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
• 15 g (1/2 oz) soft icing mixture or icing (confectioners’) sugar
• pinch of fine salt
• 4 small plain pastry tart shells
• handful of frozen berries

1. Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment over a medium speed until soft, then add the caster sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy.
2. Add one egg at a time until fully incorporated.
3. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the frozen berries to the bowl and mix on high speed for 1–2 minutes.
4. Divide the mixture between the tart shells, and sprinkle some frozen berries into each shell. Push the berries down gently with your fingers so they are slightly submerged in the frangipane filling.
5. Bake for 4 minutes, then sprinkle the extra caster sugar on top of each tart. Return the tarts to the oven and bake for another 8–10 minutes, or until golden.
TIP Allow the tarts to cool, then top with a few slices of fresh strawberry and some fresh blueberries. Add a pretty edible flower too, if you like.

Plain Pastry

• 200 g (7 oz) unsalted butter, softened
• 120 g (41/4 oz) soft icing mixture or icing (confectioners’) sugar
• 11/2 eggs (see page 30)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or essence (optional)
• 370 g (13 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
• canola oil cooking spray

• electric kitchen scales
• measuring spoons
• stand mixer with paddle attachment
• good-quality plastic wrap
• good-quality baking paper
• rolling pin
• 6 or 7 tart tins 10 cm (4 inches) in diameter
• sharp knife
• scissors
• baking beads/uncooked rice or beans
• baking tray

1. Place the softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on a medium speed until creamy and soft.
2. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the soft icing mixture a little at a time until completely incorporated.
3. For plain pastry, add the eggs and vanilla now. For chocolate pastry, add the eggs and egg yolk until fully mixed in.
4. Slowly add the flour. If making chocolate pastry, add the cocoa and salt now too. Mix until a dough has just started to form.
5. Transfer the dough from the stand mixer to a clean bench lightly dusted with flour and knead with clean, lightly floured hands for a few minutes until you have a smooth ball. Don’t overwork the dough, just knead it enough to bring it together into that smooth ball. Cut the dough in half and then form each half into a ball again. Push down on each ball to create a disc, and then tightly wrap both discs in plastic wrap.
6. Chill the dough in the fridge for 2 hours. (You can leave it overnight if you are making this ahead of time.) The dough will need time to come to room temperature before you roll it out.

Rolling out your pastry
1. Place one disc of dough between two sheets of baking paper (see p. 140)then begin to roll out to form a thin rectangle of pastry about 8 6 cm (31/4 21/2 inches) and about 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick. Repeat with the other dough disc.
2. Lightly spray your tart tins with the canola oil.
3. Using a sharp knife, cut each rolled sheet of pastry into 6 pieces, each larger than a tart tin. That way, there will be overhanging pastry when you line the tins. Use your fingers to gently but firmly push the dough into the tart tin. If any area is short of pastry, add some dough so that it is covered. Repeat with the rest of the pastry and the tart tins.
4. Run your rolling pin over each tart tin so any overhanging pastry is trimmed off and you have a clean edge.
5. Poke a few holes in the base of each tart with a fork.
6. Cover the pastry-lined tins tightly with plastic wrap, then place the tins in the fridge and allow to chill for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
7. Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) fan-forced (FF).
8. Cut out six small squares of baking paper, each big enough to cover a tart tin.
9. Fill the lined tart tins with baking beads, then blind bake for 6 minutes.
10. Remove the baking paper and baking beads then return the tart shells to the oven for a further 10–12 minutes (or 7, if you are making frangipane tarts, see note below), until slightly golden, then allow to cool completely in their tins on a wire rack.
NOTE If making frangipane tarts, remove the tart shells from the oven after 7 minutes of extra baking time.

Download printable recipe (PDF)