Black Forest Trifle

I am a model of gorgeousness all year but sometimes I have the need to do something really quite disgraceful. This is a good time of year to be disgraceful as one is not wearing quite so many skin tight clothes, thereby revealing less of my beautiful athletic Amazonian figure for all to see. This of course, is a truly saddening situation, so something needs to be done to make this better.

fanny and brendas black forest chocolate cherry trifle

Earlier this week as we all enjoyed Christmas I was having a wistful moment of nostalgia, and I thought about something chocolatey. However I guess I required something more outrageous and frankly indulgent. I settled on the idea of a marvellous trifle. And believe me when I make a trifle it is just fabulous – even Fanny agrees! I needed one with both that luscious sweetness, but laced with something tart to cut the richness. Talking about tart, Fanny was very helpful on the subject of cherry brandy, and spent her time ensuring that my cherries were macerated well before we started.

This particular trifle would make a good party pudding, and would also be very popular on dark cold nights. It is rich, and a small portion will satisfy the most demanding appetite.

fanny and brendas black forest chocolate cherry trifle
So here we are.


2 425g black cherries
4 tbspns of cherry brandy to macerate the fruit
200g sour cherry conserve (we used aldi jam)
3g of gelatine/vege-gel

fanny and brendas black forest chocolate cherry trifle
Choccy sponge

100g butter
3 large free range eggs
200g vanilla sugar
4 level tspns baking powder
200g almond flour
225g decent quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa would be ideal)
Preheat oven to 150°c
Grease up a baking dish ready. (we used a 10″ cake dish).

fanny and brendas black forest chocolate cherry trifle

Choccy custard

4 egg yolks
150 ml double cream
150 ml full fat milk
100g caster sugar
30g cornflour
100g chopped up plain chocolate

fanny and brendas black forest chocolate cherry trifle

For the topping
150ml double cream whipped
100ml of creme fraiche


For the fruit

Place the cherries in the cherry brandy and allow them to infuse for a couple of hours.

fanny and brendas black forest chocolate cherry trifle

For the choccy sponge

Add the butter and dark chocolate to a bowl placed over a pan of simmering water and leave to melt, stirring occasionally. When it is smooth and melted, let it cool.

Then place the sugar and eggs in a large bowl and whisk together for several minutes until pale and stiffer.

Then gradually pour the melted chocolate mixture onto the egg and sugar mix and fold in gently.

Add the almond flour and fold in lightly. Pour into the greased cake tin and add a few of the delicious macerated cherries

Stick it in the oven and cook at 150°c for about 50 minutes until the cake is reasonably cooked. You can tell if you stick a skewer in to the centre of the cake mix and you just get a small mark suggesting a slightly gooey interior- this is correct.

Take it out and leave to cool.

For the custard

Place the cream and milk in a pan and heat until just before boiling point. Take it off the heat. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour and pour the hot milk/ cream mix onto the eggs and whisk until smooth. Add the chopped up chocolate. Stir on a low heat, and cook until all the chocolate has melted and the custard has thickened. Remove from the heat, pour into a jug and cover the surface of the custard with cling film (which prevents a skin from forming). Leave to cool completely.

Back to the cherries and the cherry juices

Place the cherries and the brandy into a pan and reduce,creating a syrup. Reduce on a simmer expecting to lose about a third of the liquid.

Take your gelatine and follow the instructions on the packet. In short, it usually has to be brought to the boil before it is effective so place it in a small amount of water and bring it to the boil for a few seconds.

Now with the reduced fruit syrup, add the gelatine and stir in and allow to cool slightly.

rich indulgent chocolate trifle for cold winter nights

To assemble the trifle

Take the cooled cake and cut out the centre. Fanny used a bowl which she pushed into the cake giving an immaculate round shape. This was removed and you will be left with the ring – the outer part of the cake. Cut this up into cubes.

Douse them with some cherry brandy and place them at the bottom of the serving dish.

Add some of the cherries

Now add the jelly mixture

The next layer is the chocolate custard. Try not to eat it all before you put it in the trifle.

Add the last of the cherries

rich indulgent chocolate trifle for cold winter nights

Top with a mixture of whipped double cream and a couple of tbspns of creme fraiche.

The beauty of this recipe is that you get a free chocolate cake (from the cutout earlier) as well!

Do you know -I really am sometimes always quite fabulous!

Christmas Cake – Part 4- the icing

fanny and brenda icing the christmas cake recipe

So we come to the ultimate episode in the making of our Christmas Cake which started back in October.

Take the cake out of its storage. The marzipan layer should be quite dry, and if you want why not brush it with a little brandy like we did!


3 egg whites
500g icing sugar
1 tspn of glycerine


We did the icing in two parts.

Mix the egg whites with the icing sugar. The sugar is added a little at a time and keep adding until it’s all mixed in. Then whisk it up until it has stiff peaks. Stir in the glycerine.

Now put half of the mixture in a mixing bowl and cover with clingfilm. Put it in the fridge.

Now put the remaining half on the cake and work it round the top and sides with a spatula.

Try and make a neater job of it than Fanny.

Day 2: Repeat the process and leave to dry for 24 hours. Then decorate according to taste!

Please see our video because if Fanny can ice a cake you can!!

Christmas dinner for two – Roast Partridge with Cumberland Gravy

christmas dinner- fanny and brendas roast partridge wth cumberland gravy

Christmas is seen as a time to celebrate with family and friends, but what if you are actually on your own – or with one other over this time? Do you want turkey for the next seven weeks? No! This year Fanny and I will be glaring at each other over a delicious partridge and here is the gorgeous recipe.

Ingredients for Roast Partridge with Cumberland Gravy

2-4 partridges
2 medium onions thinly sliced
2 lemons – one zested and juiced, the other cut in half
1 orange  - zested and juiced.
thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, finely diced

75ml/3fl oz port

450ml chicken stock

75g redcurrant jelly - one with fruit as its first (main) ingredient – and not sugar! If sugar is the first ingredient listed, do not buy that brand!

2-3 tsp English mustard
vegetable or light olive oil
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
knob of butter


1) Set the oven to 200C fan assisted

2) Slice the onions into quarters lengthways then finely across. Also simply cut the lemon in half. Arrange onions and lemon halves in roasting dish Sprinkle with a title oil, salt and pepper, 

3) Simply sit the birds on the bed of onions, give them a light coat of oil – or butter –  all over  a good sprinkle of salt and pepper

4) Roast for 25-30 minutes, ideally basting at least twice during cooking and if you notice the onions getting too dry, you can add a little wine, water or stock at this point.

5) When done, they will be golden brown all over. Let them sit, covered in tinfoil in a warm place for the protein in the meat to relax after it’s high temperature ordeal – it really does make a difference to the tenderness and in any case, it gives you time to make the gravy.

6) Heat the stock for a couple of minutes so it’s steaming but not necessarily boiling (this can be done while the birds are roasting.)

7)  Place the roasting dish with contents (the onions will have already gone translucent with some nice crispy brown edges) a on the hob and switch on to a medium heat. Squish any juice from the roast lemons into the roasting tin then discard the by-now empty lemon skins. Add about a third of the stock then immediately afterwards, the redcurrant jelly and mustard. The small amount of liquid added at this stage just make it much easier to stir in and combine the redcurrant jelly and mustard.

9) After a couple of minutes, add the minced/diced ginger, most of the lemon and orange zest and about half of the citrus juices – plus the slug of Port and the rest of the stock. Allow the gravy to simmer away for about ten minutes in order to reduce by half and meld the flavours.

10) To finish it, pour the contents of the roasting tin through a sieve into  bowl and then proceed to squash as much of the vegetable matter through the sieve as you can – a wooden spoon works quite well for this – and don’t forget to scrape what’s collecting on the underside of the sieve into the collecting bowl too. Return the filtered gravy to a clean small saucepan, taste (and adjust seasoning if necessary by adding salt/pepper but also water/wine/lemon juice/mustard if its’s too salty or or lacks bite!) and bring back to the simmer at which time, whisk in  knob of butter to give the gravy extra richness and a festively glossy sheen – Just like Fanny and Brenda!

11) You’re now ready to serve up your gorgeous little partridges (one each of course – and do not, whatever you do, attempt to carve them – everyone just has to tackle theirs on their plate!) along with roasties and any other seasonal veg such as honey and cumin roast carrots/parsnips , spiced roast cauliflower with almonds and rosemary – and obviously, brussels sprouts!

Candied lemon peel

candy lemon citrus peel recipe 

A short while ago I produced a citrus candy peel recipe for oranges. This recipe takes lemon citrus peel which cooks slightly differently due to the nature of its skin.

This recipe refines it a bit and delivers a soft lemony citrus peel.


Slice as finely as possible a lemon

Place in a pan of cold water and place on hob. One it starts to boil, reduce the flame and let it simmer for twenty minutes.

Empty out pan, drain the slices, and start again.

Place cold water and lemon slices in the pan and heat up. Boil for twenty minutes.

Repeat so that you do this four times.

Now place your slices in a pan, with a cup of of caster sugar and about 250ml of water

Heat up and let simmer for twenty minutes.

Take off flame and place lemon slices on drying rack for about 24 hours.

Then place in a sterilised jar to keep.

Christmas Cake -Part 3 – The marzipan layer

fanny and brendas christmas cake marzipan layer

So you’ve got your cake, and for several weeks you have been injecting it with plenty of alcohol I hope. There’s no point in a dry fruit cake. Of course the alcohol, be it a brandy or a rum or indeed both, acts as a preservative as well as influencing the end flavour and moisture of the fruit inside.


225g icing sugar
225g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
2 eggs (whole)
Juice of a lemon
Splosh of brandy
Splosh of almond extract
500g of ground almonds


Sieve the sugars into a mixing bowl and add the ehss

Beat them together

Place over a low heat and whisk until fluffy

Cool in a bowl of ice cold water for a minute

Add the brandy, lemon and almond extract

Stir in the ground almonds till stiff

At this point I would leave it for an hour or so. In the filming we continued but giving the almond paste an hour or two in the fridge helps to firm it up.

Roll out like pastry

Brush some egg white to the top of the cake

Place the marzipan over the cake and pat down. Add to sides and fill in where necessary.

Leave for a while and then you are ready for the icing.

How to make delicious mince pies

how to cook delicious mince pies fanny and brenda style


Well! I don’t often say it but Brenda has come up trumps with her fantastic mince pies. Like you, I know she’s a ghastly old curmudgeon but underneath that hideous exterior lies an ability to cook well when she makes the effort.

We are now in the run up to Christmas and time is short. The mincemeat is now made and the pastry (see previous post) is ready so it’s really a case of compilation.

Take about a quarter of the puff pastry (about 250g) and roll it out. Roll it pretty thin. We can’t bear thick pastry – it is the case but it’s not the filling too!

Take a greased muffin tin and place the pastry within each holder.

At this point Brenda had a brainwave and added a small ball of marzipan to each pie, placing it in the centre. The marzipan was left over from the christmas cake (recipe forthcoming!) and it’s a delicious addition. Place the mincemeat around the marzipan, and then add the pie topping. Apply some egg wash and then place it in the oven for 30 minutes at 180°c /350°f.

Serve with some lovely double cream with added lemon zest and grand marnier and frankly you will never want to eat a commercial mince pie again!

If you are thinking of leaving mince pies out for some gaudily dressed and rather overweight bearded old man who may want to pop down your chimney then may I suggest leaving a few of these mince pies under the christmas tree. Of course he will probably be unable to go back up your chimney as these mince pies are delicious so if you hear the front door slam in the middle of the night don’t be too surprised.

how to cook delicious mince pies fanny and brenda style

Quick puff pastry

homemade rough puff pastry

If you are a regular viewer of this blog you will already know that I have championed the making of pastry from scratch. This came about after feeling unfulfilled with the taste of the ready made pastry in the shops. I was struck at the time by how easy it is to make and wondered why I hadn’t tried it before. Like all these things you only try it when you are dissatisfied with the status quo and now that I have I am finding myself pushing another boundary: puff pastry.

I had heard that it was very time consuming to make, but this recipe is simple and quick and comes from Michel Roux who has a video online showing how to produce it. The video is well worth watching and will only take 10 minutes of your time.


500g cold butter
500g plain flour
250ml cold water
teaspoon of salt

Have all the ingredients in front of you, and make a well in the middle of the flour

Take the flour, add the salt, and knead in the butter

Mix the two up till you get a rough crumbly texture

Add the water to get a dough mixture

Roll it out on a floured surface

Fold over the ends and turn it 90° and then roll again

Roll it out on a floured surface

Fold over the ends and place in the fridge for half an hour

Remove from fridge and roll out again twice (as above)

Remember to fold over the ends and voila!

Leave it to rest for half an hour and then your pastry is ready

fanny and brendas homemade rough puff pastry

My result was a flavoursome flaky pastry and I have been using it to make mince pies! Recipe to follow!

Apple and Blackberry Mousse

blackberry and apple mousse by fanny and brenda

So there I was lying back in my gorgeous double bed, on this golden Autumn day when I heard some vile youth walk by talking loudly into his mobile phone and calling some unfortunate girl “you bloody mousse”. Rather disrespectful I think you’ll agree. As his nauseous estuarine gobbledygook faded into the distance I thought about that word mousse. I hadn’t made one in ages.

I sat up bolt upright in my lacy nightie (I know! How Kate Middleton am I? OBE please and make it snappy!) as I had decided that enough was enough. I knew that I had a kilo of blackberries bursting with sweetness picked in rural Herefordshire sitting in the freezer so I got up, and decided to create my mousse.

blackberry and apple mousse- it's simply delicious

Here the recipe is demonstrated with my usual sense of style!



0.5kg blackberries
0.5kg apples
2 tbspns of caster sugar

3 large eggs
3 tbspns caster sugar
150ml double cream
juice of a lemon
14g gelatine

I use wild blackberries rather than the shop bought affairs, which while shinier and juicier in look, have an inferior flavour to the wild ones every single time. You just cannot get better flavoured blackberries than those you pick from the wild and I am absolutely right about that. Fortunately very few people seem to agree with me so I have plenty of choice as I forage.

In the fruit bowl were four Braeburn apples so I chopped them up and diced them.

In the pan I placed the apples and stewed them . I then placed the blackberries and two heaped tablespoons of caster sugar and turned on the hob and stewed at a low heat for about ten minutes. They don’t take long to break down.

Once stewed, and the fruit is soft, turn off the hob and leave the fruit to cool. Once it has cooled get a sieve and strain the pulp through ensuring that the pips do not go through. You should be left with 2 smooth purees – one apple, the other blackberry.

Now take 3 eggs and beat them together with 3 tablespoons of caster sugar and do so until the mixture is thick. When the whisk stops whirring lift it up and a long dribble of the egg sugar mixture should hang from the whisk itself.

Now take the cream and whip it till it has the same consistency as the egg mixture.

Take the juice of a lemon, and four table spoons of water. Add 14g of gelatine and then melt it over a low flame till the liquid is smooth. Add it to the egg mix.

Now divide the egg mix into two bowls.

Pour the apple into the egg mix, along with half the cream and combine it altogether quickly. Then take the other bowl and add half of the blackberry puree and again combine it. You should have a lovely delicate pinky purple mixture.

Take your sundae dishes and pour in the apple mix and then the blackberry mix on top. You will notice that there is some fruit integration but not much giving lovely soft edges to the sides.

Leave the mousses to cool and set for a couple of hours.

At this point I added a shot of creme de mur to the remaining blackberry puree for added extra specialness.

Once the mousses set, take the rest of the blackberry puree and pour it over the mousses and spread evenly across the top.

Whip up some cream and serve.

blackberry and apple mousse- it's simply delicious