Both of today’s recipes are ideal for young people who are showing an interest in baking and will help them develop a lot of basic skills. Plus, there is the added benefit that when you bake from scratch you know your ingredients and exactly what you are eating. And of course there is a treat at the end for all the big and small bakers.

The caramel shortbread is a nice combination of tastes and textures, with the crunchy nuts, condensed milk and salt. I think of it as a tray bake. If you are making it for a party, do be careful in case anyone has a nut allergy. You can easily make it without the nuts. I sometimes like to put chocolate chips on top. Leftovers (while not very likely), keep well in an airtight container for up to three days.

The raspberry pavlovas, again, include basic skills such as whisking. You can vary the fruit. I like tangerines, peaches or strawberries. This is lovely served with ice cream or a summer sorbet.

Happy Cooking,


Caramel shortbread

Makes about 30 bars

175g (6oz) plain flour

75g (3oz) semolina

75g (3oz) caster sugar

275g (10oz) butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature

100g (4oz) light brown sugar

2 x 400g (14oz) tins of condensed milk

½ tsp sea salt flakes

150g (5oz) jumbo salted peanuts

300g (11oz) milk or dark chocolate, broken into squares


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas mark four). Mix the flour, semolina and caster sugar in a bowl.

2. Rub in 175g (6oz) of the butter to resemble fine crumbs. Press into a 37.5cm x 25.5cm (15in x 10in) baking tin, lined with non-stick baking paper.

3. Prick with a fork and bake for 16-18 minutes, until firm and golden.

4. Put the rest of the butter in a heavy-based pan, with the light brown sugar and condensed milk. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Then bring to the boil, stirring.

5. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, stirring, for about 20 minutes, until the mixture has thickened and darkened. Stir in the salt until dissolved. Scatter the peanuts over the shortbread, then pour over the caramel. Cool for 15 minutes.

6. Melt the chocolate in a bowl, set over a pan of simmering water. Cool, then pour it over the caramel and spread the top very gently. Cool, then remove from the tin, carefully peel off the baking paper and cut into bars.

Mini raspberry pavlovas

Makes 18

4 egg whites, at room temperature

225g (8oz) caster sugar

1tsp cornflour

1tsp lemon juice

100g (4oz) white chocolate, broken into squares

300ml (½ pint) cream

50g (2oz) icing sugar

500g (1lb 2oz) fresh raspberries

2 tbsp toasted flaked almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 140°C (275°F/gas mark one). Whisk the egg whites in a large, clean, dry bowl until soft peaks have formed. Add a quarter of the caster sugar and whisk until stiff.

2. Continue whisking and add the rest of the sugar in a thin, steady stream until you have a nice, shiny meringue. Using a spatula, fold in the cornflour and lemon juice.

3. Dab blobs of the meringue under the corners of two baking sheets lined with non-stick baking paper. Put 18 even-sized meringues on top, then make an indentation in the centre of each one. Bake for one to 1¼ hours, until firm, and then cool the meringues completely.

4. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, then cool. Whisk the cream and icing sugar to soft peaks. Use to fill the pavlovas and decorate with the raspberries, almonds and a drizzle of chocolate to serve.

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