I LOVE the way chefs have been using their favourite childhood treats to make cheeky, nostalgic desserts.
It all started with Heston, who has created a fashion for using popping candy again, and David Chang putting Corn Flakes in his cereal ice-cream at the Momofuku Milk Bar in New York.
When two of the biggest chefs in the world are doing it, you definitely know you have a trend!
It had to happen, though, and I'm the first in line to embrace old-school chocolate bars rather than all the 95 per cent cocoa solids nonsense.
Can I finally admit that I don't like those dark, über-bitter bars? There's a place for all that, of course, but sometimes you don't want your sweet treat to be the epitome of excellence, you just want it to bring a smile to your face.
So if, like me, you have a tub of Nutella hidden at the back of the cupboard or are often at a loss with what to do with those enormous Toblerone bars bought out of guilt at the airport for having been away from the kids for too long, give these recipes a try.
The naughtiness of them alone will make you enjoy the indulgence even more. And after a gruelling first week back at school, the kids will thank you for it.
Toblerone French toast
This is for that lazy Sunday when you can't quite bring yourself to go out to buy a pain au chocolat.
180ml/6fl oz milk
1 tbsp caster sugar
8 slices brioche loaf
25g/1oz unsalted butter
100g/3½oz Toblerone, chopped
Whisk together the eggs, milk and sugar in a flat dish. Dip two slices of brioche into the mix, turning them over until they are coated.
Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Put the soaked brioche slices in the frying pan and sprinkle each one with a quarter of the chopped chocolate. Soak another two slices of brioche in the egg mixture and put on top of the chocolate bread in the pan to make sandwiches. Press lightly with a spatula to seal the edges.
Cook for 2 to 3 minutes each side or until golden. Remove from the pan and serve immediately or keep warm while you make the other two French toasts.
Nothing beats the combination of coconut and chocolate for me and whenever I come across it, my mind goes right back to those Bounty ads from the 1980s, with beautiful people eating the bars on a paradise island. I can smell the bronzing oil just thinking about it…
4 egg whites
220g/7½oz caster sugar
½ tsp cornflour
½ tsp white-wine vinegar
3 x 57g Bounty bars, chopped
150g/5oz dark chocolate
Preheat the oven to 120C/250F/Gas½ and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Whisk the egg whites in a dry bowl until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar a tablespoon at a time, whisking continuously until the meringue is glossy and thick. Whisk in the cornflour and vinegar then gently fold in the chopped Bounty. Spoon 12 small meringues on to the baking tray and bake for 1½ hours. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues inside, with the door ajar, until completely cooled.
Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Dip the base of the cooled meringues in the chocolate. Put aside to set before serving.
Giant Nutella and oatmeal cookies
These cookies are best eaten warm, when they're still quite gooey. The oats give them a slightly salty quality, making them surprisingly adult.
55g/2¼oz unsalted butter
100g/3½oz soft brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
140g/4½oz plain flour
90g/3¼oz rolled oats
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
Handful blanched hazelnuts, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Line two large baking sheets with baking parchment. Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then the Nutella, until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the flour, oats, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
Drop 4 generously heaped tbsp of dough on to each prepared baking sheet, leaving at least 7cm space between each to allow for spreading. Sprinkle with the chopped hazelnuts.
Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until dry-looking and covered with even cracks. Leave to cool and firm up on the baking sheets for 2 minutes before carefully peeling away from the paper and cooling on a wire rack.
Because sometimes the kid in me still can't quite choose between a chocolate bar and a milkshake…
2 x 28g Snickers bars, finely chopped
500ml/17fl oz vanilla ice-cream
250ml/8fl oz milk
Whizz the Snickers and ice-cream in a blender until well combined then add the milk. Pulse to combine, then pour into 4 tall glasses and serve immediately.
Food stylists: Marina Filippelli and Rosie Reynolds; Prop stylist: Rachel Jukes
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