Of all the dishes in this vast tome of cooking delights, this is the one which has made me the man I am today.
Jesting aside, this is a phenomenal hearty little treat, so full of calories that if you have more than five in the space of one hour, you need to be taken to A & E.
-250g white cane sugar
-A dash of amaretto
-1 large egg
-500g strong bread flour
-100g cocoa powder
-1/2 tablespoon baking powder
-pinch of salt
– 250 g chocolate chips
You’ll need two large bowls. Make of that what you will.
First, cream the butter and sugar. Add a generous dash of amaretto. Don’t overdo it. The flavours must be subtle.
Then add the eggs and combine.
In your second bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Make sure you put the cocoa powder in first. It is much less dense than the flour and will go everywhere if you either stir too quickly or pour it out on top of the flour.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones, little by little. Don’t do it all at once. When both bowls have been amalgamated into one, the mixture will be solid.
Now comes the messy part, you need to take about half a handful of the dough and shape it into a sphere. Repeat until there is no dough left. This should make about 40 cookies.
Bake in a pre-heated 180 C oven for 9-12 minutes. Do prod them with a knife to see if they’re ready. If the cookie is slightly firm, they’re ready. If they’re rock hard, black and on fire, you’ve failed.
If you value your tonsils, let these cookies cool down before you consume them. Don’t consume too many at once. Limit yourself to three in an hour at most. These are among the best things you’ll ever taste but they will give you a headache.
Best served warm with an amaretto cranberry mixer.
As a young and impressionable lad I frequented Ask! Italian restaurants where I would always order the cheesy doughballs as my starter. A kind waiter once explained to me that their ovens heated up to 300° C — hence their always slightly carbonised edges. So treat your guests to a culinary explosion of cheesy goodness readers, but try to restrain yourself from eating too many: they can expand one’s waistline!
Ingredients: -250g strong white bread flour -150ml lukewarm water -7g yeast -1tbs fine salt (though I prefer the whopping crystal salt) -2tbs olive oil -50g Gouda, diced (1/2 cm works best) -50g dry cured salami diced (1/2 cm works best) -chili flakes (however many you can handle)
Method: Mix the yeast with the lukewarm water. If it starts to foam then it’s being activated. In a separate bowl, mix the salt and flour. Make a well in the middle of the flour. Into this well, pour the yeasty now-tepid water. At first mix them together with a wooden spoon. When the dough comes together, flop it onto a floured surface and knead it for a minimum of 8 minutes.
Now, put it back into the bowl from whence it came. Cover in some olive-oiled Clingfilm and leave to prove for an hour and a half in a warm place.
When it has doubled in size, re-knead it on a floured surface. Split the dough into three. Now roll out each of these three dough pieces into a flat circle.
Oil the three circles. Slicing vertically, split the circles into six strips. Press the Gouda cubes into half of the dough strips. Press the salami cubes into the other half of the dough strips. This next step separates the men from the boys. Sprinkle as much chili as you or your guests can handle on the strips.
Roll the strips into balls and seal off any fraying edges. You don’t want your delicious cheese slipping out. Either oil the outside of the Panzerottini or put them on baking paper.
In a pre-heated oven at 220 degrees, bake them for 15 minutes or until they are golden brown. Be careful not to burn them. A lot of work has gone into this dish.
Tips: Set aside a good deal of time for this. Beauty does not come easily. It kneads time and patience. Make sure the water is lukewarm not steaming or seething hot. Be kind to the yeast if you want it to be kind to you.
Now what you could do as a prank is sprinkle all the chili onto one strip. Whoever starts screaming wins the prize. I shall leave it to host’s prerogative to decide what the prize is.
Serving suggestions A nice BBQ dip or light cream cheese compliments this dish wonderfully. But neither are necessary.
You’ll need bowls to make this dish. In all seriousness, this will cause a mess of your kitchen.
This is a universally approved dish. Unless you’re a vegan or have been sectioned. Though these two are seldom exclusive of each other.
If you want to leave your guests reeling as though they have just seen the face of the Almighty, this is the dessert for you.
-2 tablespoons gelatin powder (you can the vegan stuff these days, if you must)
-60ml cold water
-250g digestive biscuits
-6 tablespoons melted butter
-300g British strawberries, quartered
-400ml double cream/whipping cream
-200g fine white chocolate
-150g double cream/whipping cream
I’ve spaced out the ingredients logically for your convenience. Bear with me and I shall explain why.
Firstly, combine the gelatin with the water and let set for five minutes, while you tend to the biscuits.
Break up the cookies and blend them in an electric blender. You could even wrap them in plastic and beat them senselessly with a rolling pin. Whatever gets your rocks off. In a bowl, combine this with the butter until they’re combined. Put this into a springform 10” baking tin. Make sure it is flat. You can do this with a pallet knife. Refrigerate while you deal with the strawberries.
In a saucepan, place the strawberries and sugar. Cook them on low heat until the sugar dissolves. Then use a hand blender to cream the mixture.
Set it aside to let it cool for a few minutes.
By this time, the gelatin should be solid. Add half of it to the strawberries. Make sure the strawberry puree isn’t too hot or the gelatin won’t work. I made a fool of myself at a funeral once for forgetting this. Don’t ask.
It is now time to whip your cream. It’s better to do all 400ml at once, unless you have the bowls to do it separately.
I prefer to use a balloon whisk to whip my cream. If you use an electric one for want of time, make sure you have an apron on. That stuff does not come out of cotton shirts easily.
Whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks.
Add half of this to the strawberries.
In a saucepan, heat up the 150ml cream. Don’t let it bubble, toil or trouble. When the cream is sufficiently hot, add the white chocolate. Stir together until the two ingredients become one.
Add the other half of the gelatin mixture to the chocolate. Then add the other half of the whipped cream mix.
Pour the white chocolate into the springform tin. Put it in the fridge until the chocolate is stiff enough to be covered with the strawberry mousse. This should take about 20 minutes. Ample time for you to wash your bowls.
When the white chocolate has set, cover it with the strawberry mouse.
Refrigerate overnight for optimal results.
Usually recipes will tell you to put the strawberry mixture through a fine sieve to get rid of all the seeds. Being unusual, to say the least, I recommend you do not do so. The contrasting texture of the seeds against the smoothness of the white chocolate is highly desirable.
You could slice some extra strawberries lengthways and top the strawberry mousse with them, once it has set.
This is excellent with some gin whipped cream you can make this by mixing the double cream with a little bit of gin and lemon before whipping it. Though it may take a little while more.
In honesty, however, this dish is a masterpiece by itself.