Recipes featured in

Body in the Woods

“Honestly,” Annabelle said, “I believe that cat can detect a sugary treat from the other side of the village.” Dr. Brownson smiled awkwardly as Biscuit leapt onto his lap and turned around in circles until she settled herself into a comfortable position.
“May I ask what brings you to this corner of the kingdom, Dr. Brownson?”

Body in the Woods by Alison Golden

Ecclesiastical Chocolate Éclairs

For the choux pastry

½ cup (120ml) water

¼ cup (60g) butter

Pinch of salt

cup (40g) flour

2 eggs, beaten

For the chocolate icing

2 oz (60g) dark chocolate, broken into pieces

Pat of butter

2 tbsp water

¾ cup (90g) icing sugar, sifted

For the filling

½ cup (120g) fresh cream whipped with 1 tbsp of sugar

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. To prepare the pastry, put the water, butter and salt in a saucepan and heat gently until the fat has melted. Bring to the boil and, when bubbling vigorously, remove the pan from the heat. Quickly beat in the flour all at once.

Continue beating until the mixture draws away from the sides of the pan and forms a ball: do not over beat or the mixture will become fatty. Leave to cool slightly. Beat in the eggs gradually until the pastry is smooth and glossy.

Put the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 0.5 cm/½ inch plain nozzle. Pipe onto greased baking sheets, either in finger shapes approximately 8cm/3 inches long for éclairs or in rounds approximately 5cm/2 inches in diameter for profiteroles. Allow room between each shape for expansion during cooking.

Bake just above the centre of the oven for 15 or 20 minutes or until the pastry is well-risen and crisp. Remove from the oven and make a slit along the sides of the éclairs, or in the base of the profiteroles. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

To prepare the chocolate icing, put the chocolate pieces, butter and one tablespoon of water in a heatproof bowl over a pan of hot water and heat gently until melted. Remove from the heat and gradually beat in the powdered sugar until the icing is thick and smooth. If the icing is too thick, add water a few drops at a time until the required consistency is reached.

Fill the pastry with the sweetened cream, then frost the tops of the éclairs with the chocolate icing. (If making profiteroles, pile onto a serving dish or in individual serving bowls and pour over hot chocolate sauce.)

Makes approximately 8.

Divine Chocolate Dipped Shortbread

6 oz (170g) flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

¼ cup (50g) sugar

5 oz (140g) butter

4 oz (115g) chocolate, broken into pieces

Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl and stir in the sugar. Add the butter, in one piece, and gradually rub into the dry ingredients. Knead until well mixed but do not allow the dough to become sticky.

Roll out the dough evenly on a floured board, then cut into approximately 5cm/2-inch rounds with a fluted pastry cutter. Place the shortbread on a lined baking sheet, leaving room between each to allow for spreading during cooking. Prick the shortbread with a fork and chill in the refrigerator for a further 15 minutes.

Bake for 14 minutes or until pale-golden in colour. If the shortbread becomes too brown during the cooking time, cover with foil. Remove from the oven, leave to cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Melt the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl over a pan of hot water. Dip the edge of the shortbread into the chocolate and roll your wrist to coat the shortbread with the chocolate in a “half moon” shape. Place on baking paper and chill.

Makes approximately 8.

Rapturous Raspberry Cheesecake

8 oz (230g) digestive biscuits / graham crackers

1 stick (115g) butter, melted

1 lb (450g) cream cheese

2 oz (60g) sugar

2 egg yolks

8 oz (230g) fresh raspberries

¼ pint (140ml) double cream

1 sachet gelatin

4 tbsp water

Sugar to finish

Put the digestive biscuits (graham crackers if in the US) between two sheets of baking paper or in a zippered plastic bag and crush finely with a rolling pin. Put in a mixing bowl. Pour in the melted butter and stir to combine. Using a metal spoon, press into the base of an 20cm/8-inch loose-bottomed cake tin. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until quite firm. 

Meanwhile, make the filling. Put the cream cheese, sugar, egg yolks and three-quarters of the raspberries in a bowl and beat together. Whip the cream until it holds its shape, then fold into the cream cheese mixture. Set aside.

Sprinkle the gelatine over the water in a small heatproof bowl and leave until spongy, then place the bowl in a pan of hot water and stir over low heat until the gelatine has dissolved. Remove the bowl from the pan and leave to cool slightly. Stir into the cheese mixture. Pour into the prepared base and chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight, until set.

Take the cheesecake carefully out of the tin (the base may be left on if difficult to move) and place on a serving platter. Top with the reserved raspberries, sprinkle with sugar and serve.

Serves 8 to 10.

Annabelle’s Favorite Apricot Tart

For the French flan pastry

1 cup (120g) flour

Pinch of salt

1 stick (115g) butter

2 egg yolks

2 tbsp sugar

For the filling

2 lbs (900g) fresh apricots, halved and


½ cup (100g) sugar

1 vanilla pod


2 x 15 oz (850g total) cans of apricots in juice

½ tsp vanilla extract

For the glaze

1 tbsp arrowroot

1 tbsp sieved apricot jam

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the centre, then put in the butter in pieces, the egg yolks and sugar. With your fingertips, draw the flour into the centre and work all the ingredients together until a soft dough is formed. Form into a smooth ball and wrap in aluminium foil or baking paper. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Press the chilled dough into a 20cm/8 inch flan ring placed on a baking tray. Prick the base with a fork. Chill in the refrigerator for a further 15 minutes.

Cover the dough with crumpled baking paper and three-quarters fill with rice or baking beans. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, then remove the rice or beans and parchment paper and bake for a further 5 minutes. Take from the oven and remove the flan ring. Leave to cool.

Put fresh apricots in a saucepan. Just cover with water, add the sugar and vanilla pod, if using, and heat very slowly until the sugar dissolves, stirring gently with a wooden spoon. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the apricots are soft and tender. Leave to cool in the juices, then lift them out with a slotted spoon, reserving the juice. Discard the vanilla pod. If using canned apricot halves, drain well and reserve the juice. Mix with the vanilla essence. Arrange the apricot halves in the flan case.

To prepare the apricot glaze, put the reserved juice (there should be ½ pint so make up to this amount with water if necessary) in a small pan and heat through. Dissolve the arrowroot in a little water, then stir into the juice with the apricot jelly. Bring to the boil and simmer until thick. Cool slightly, then pour over the apricots. Cool completely before serving. 

Serves 8.

Saintly Strawberry Cupcakes

For the cupcakes

1 ½ cups (180g) flour

1 tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

4 tbsp whole milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

6 tbsp of strawberry purée

(blend fresh or frozen strawberries

in food processor)

1 stick (115g) softened butter

1 cup (200g) sugar

2 eggs

For the frosting

¼ cup (55g) soft butter

3 ½ cups (500g) thawed frozen or fresh strawberries

3 ½ cups (420g) icing sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 170°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Line cupcake tins with paper liners. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, vanilla, and strawberry purée. Cream the butter with an electric mixer and add the sugar. Beat until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs and mix slowly until combined. Add half the flour mixture and mix briefly. Scrape down the bowl and add the milk mixture, mixing just until combined. Scrape down the bowl and add the remaining flour mixture. Mix carefully and then divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners. Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pans for about 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to let them cool completely.

To prepare the frosting, purée then simmer strawberries until reduced by half. Beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract with an electric mixer. Add the strawberry purée a teaspoon at a time until the frosting is smooth and easy to spread. Pipe each cupcake with frosting and top with a strawberry slice.

Makes approximately 14.

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