Cakes & Bakes: Fruit and nut flapjack

Slice of home-made fruit and nut flapjack | H is for Home

I made one of my regular batches of fruit and nut flapjack this week. Not only is it the perfect accompaniment to a mug of tea, it also has some distinct health benefits.

Justin and I were both born in the 1960s, which means we’re getting on a bit! It’s perhaps time to start considering our health and brain function into old age.

It seems like diet could be a very important factor. Oily fish is often cited as great ‘brain food’, but nuts are also a fantastic source of cerebral nourishment.

Here’s a selection of commonly found (and tasty!) nuts and some of their recognised health benefits.

Chopped mixed nuts | H is for Home

  • Almonds are very high in vitamin E (good for glowing skin). They’re also a good source of omega-6 and 9 (poly)unsaturated fatty acids
  • Un-roasted walnuts contain twice as many antioxidants as other nuts or seeds
  • Brazil nuts are perhaps the richest dietary source of selenium (a mineral important for cognitive function and a maintaining a healthy immune system). Eating just 2 give you 100% of the recommended daily allowance
  • Cashew nuts contain a high concentration of essential minerals including magnesium (thought to counter age-related memory loss), phosphorus and zinc
  • Macadamia nuts are an excellent source of manganese and thiamine (vitamin B1)
  • Flaxseeds have one of the highest concentrations of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (Useful in maintaining healthy brain and visual functions). Especially important if you’re vegetarian or vegan as it is most commonly found in oily fish
  • Whole sesame seeds are a very good source of iron (again, important for vegetarians and vegans)

Home-made fruit and nut flapjack before going into the oven | H is for Home

This flapjack is quick and easy to make – and is so delicious, that the health benefits are an additional bonus… and we didn’t even get started on the goodness of dried fruit!

Home-made fruit and nut flapjack cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

Click here to pin our recipe for future reference!

Fruit and nut flapjack
Yields 9
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 200g butter
  2. 125g honey
  3. 350g rolled oats
  4. 50g dried fruit (currants, raisins, sultanas, cranberries, blueberries, dates, figs, apricots or a mix of any/all of these)
  5. 50g seeds and/or nuts, roughly chopped (linseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, peanuts, cashews, macadamias, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds or a mix of any/all of these)Earl Grey tea and lemon cake ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2
  2. Put the butter into a large saucepan on a low heat. When the butter has melted, add the honey and stir to combine
  3. Turn off the heat, add the oats, dried fruit and nuts/seeds and mix well
  4. Put the mixture into a 23cm/9-inch shallow square cake tin and flatten down firmly with the back of a serving spoon
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is lightly browned
  6. Allow to cool in the tin before cutting into squares or finger-shaped portions
Notes
  1. You can store the flapjacks for up to 3 days in an airtight greaseproof paper-lined tin or plastic container
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No churn pistachio ice cream

Home-made no churn pistachio ice cream | H is for Home

Remember last week, I failed to use the bag of pistachios in my store cupboard? Well I’ve used them this week… well most of them, anyway.

Milk and pistachios in a saucepan | H is for Home

I’ve puréed them and whipped up a batch of pistachio ice cream adapting my basic no-churn ice cream recipe originally borrowed from Nigella.

Pistachio purée in an electric blender | H is for Home

It tastes nothing like the pistachio ice cream you can buy in a supermarket (in a good way).

Whipped cream in a food processor | H is for Home

It looks nothing like it either – but if you like it like that, by all means add a couple of drops of green food colouring to the mix.

Tub of home-made pistachio ice cream with chopped pistachios sprinkled on the top | H is for Home

Finish with a generous sprinkling of chopped pistachios and you’ve got yourself a quick, simple summertime dessert to enjoy on it’s own, in a cone or as an accompaniment to a hot fruit pie or brownie.

Pistachio ice cream
Ingredients
  1. 100ml/3½fl oz milk
  2. 30g/1oz pistachios (shells off weight)
  3. 300ml/10½floz double cream
  4. ½ tin condensed milk (200g)
  5. 2tsp vodka
  6. 20 pistachios, roughly choppedHome-made pistachio ice cream ingredients
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Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the milk and 30g of pistachios. Turn off the heat just before it begins to simmer. Allow to cool
  2. Put the double cream, condensed milk, vodka and puréed pistachios into an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on a high speed until firm (about 2 minutes)
  3. Decant the mixture into a 1-litre lidded tub/container, sprinkle the chopped pistachios over the top and freeze for at least 4 hours - preferably overnight.
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Cakes & Bakes: Peanut butter chocolate fudge

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peanut butter chocolate fudge | H is for Home

This isn’t a regular fudge recipe – there’s no need for a thermometer, no need for all that arm-aching stirring. This peanut butter chocolate fudge recipe takes 20 minutes to make… tops! Because of the high butter content (let’s not even mention the sugar content!), this fudge is best kept in the fridge.

It’s sweet, smooth, buttery and very, very naughty! It made two big jarfuls and there wasn’t enough room in there for that last piece – oh well, I guess I’ll just have to eat it then! 😉

Cakes & Bakes: Peanut butter chocolate fudge

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 minute

Yield: makes 12-16 squares

Cakes & Bakes: Peanut butter chocolate fudge

Ingredients

  • 250g peanut butter, creamy or crunchy depending on your preference
  • 250g butter, cubed
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 450g sifted icing sugar
  • 100g roughly chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
  •  

Instructions

  1. Line a 22cm/8inch square cake tin with parchment/greaseproof paper
  2. Put the peanut butter and cubed butter into a large microwave-proof bowl and cook on high for 30 seconds
  3. Stir the mixture and microwave again for another 30 seconds
  4. Stir in the vanilla extract and chocolate before adding the icing sugar. The consistency should resemble cookie dough
  5. Using a spatula, put the mix into the lined cake tin pressing it down to level it out. Use the back of a spoon if needed
  6. Cover the tin with cling film or foil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours
  7. Remove from the tin and slice into squares. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container
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Cakes & Bakes: Nutty millionaire’s shortbread

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nutty millionaire's shortbread

This nutty millionaire’s shortbread tastes SO much better than any I’ve ever bought from a shop. I happened to have bags of whole almonds and hazelnuts in the larder, but it would be equally as good if you made it using pecans, Brazil nuts or walnuts. Cashew butter instead of peanut in the shortbread could be a good alternative to try too!

Cakes & Bakes: Nutty millionaire’s shortbread

Yield: makes 9 squares

Cakes & Bakes: Nutty millionaire’s shortbread

Ingredients

  • For the shortbread
  • 125g/4oz butter, softened
  • 2tbs peanut butter, smooth or crunchy
  • 75g/3oz caster sugar
  • 75g/3oz cornflour
  • 175g/6oz plain flour
  •  
  • For the topping
  • 397g/14oz tin of sweetened condensed milk
  • 100g/3½oz mixed nuts (I used ½ & ½ hazelnuts and almonds)
  • 125g/4oz plain dark chocolate
  •  
  •  

Instructions

  1. To make the caramel topping, put the unopened tin in a heavy-based saucepan and completely cover with water. Cover the saucepan with its lid and boil for about 1½ hours, topping up the water level if needed.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350F/Gas mark 4, 10 minutes before baking.
  3. Line a 22cm/8inch square cake tin with parchment/greaseproof paper
  4. Cream together the butter and sugar until light
  5. Sift in the cornflour and plain flour and mix to form a smooth dough
  6. Using the back of a dessert spoon, press the mixture evenly into the lined cake tin and prick all over with a fork
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until just turning golden brown
  8. Put the nuts on to a baking tray and toast them in the oven for 10-15 minutes
  9. Remove the shortbread from the oven and set aside on a wire rack
  10. Remove the nuts from the oven and wrap them in a clean tea towel. Rub the nuts together to remove most of the skins (especially if you're using hazelnuts or 'red skinned' peanuts)
  11. Reserve 9 of the nuts, roughly chop the remainder and sprinkle them evenly across the shortbread
  12. Open the tin of boiled condensed milk (if the contents are quite rigid you can soften it by warming slightly in a saucepan on the stove or decant into a microwaveable container and heat for 20-30 seconds). Pour the caramel over the nuts and spread evenly. Refrigerate while you prepare the chocolate
  13. Break up the chocolate into pieces and put them into a heat-proof bowl
  14. Using a saucepan small enough not to allow the bowl to touch the bottom, fill the bowl with just enough water so that it doesn't come into contact with the base of the bowl
  15. Simmer the saucepan of water until the chocolate has just melted
  16. Pour the chocolate evenly over the top of the caramel
  17. Place the whole nuts on top of the chocolate, one for each portion
  18. Allow to set before slicing into squares & serving

Notes

You can parboil the tinned condensed milk in advance and the caramel can be stored for months & months before use. I always have a few cans of 'cooked' condensed milk stored in our larder.

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