Sweet treats have always been a way of life for me. Early memories are of aluminium foil encased, individually baked custard tarts – crumbly, buttery pastry with a pale, creamy filling topped with a sprinkle of exotic nutmeg. Even now, I can see, smell and taste those delicious cakes, fresh from the baker. But the most decadent occasion of all was being brought one by my grandmother whilst I lay whimpering in bed with some minor childhood ailment. Truly wonderful, sentimental memories!

Whilst my tastes may have developed over the years, I still smile when I see some of the now-quite-dreadful confection I used to enjoy. Pink candy shrimps; round, sherbet filled flying saucers; colourful necklaces – sweeties laced onto elastic and designed to be nibbled as worn...leaving a rather sticky neck!! In fact I do occasionally buy said items to decorate cup cakes for my own children who, raised outside the UK don't really seem to understand the significance of this kaleidoscopic thrill!

Nowadays, chocolate fills my sweet void. Lindt's milk chocolate is one favourite – rustling back its foil wrapper I allow my eye ids to close, the aroma of the chocolate hurtling me back to past times Easter bunnies...s a child,no matter which chocolate eggs I was given, my ultimate desire was for Lindt Chocolate Bunnies. Today, however many bars of Lindt milk chocolate I buy, its not-so-secret resting place by my kitchen kettle mysteriously empties at lightening pace...

In our home, cakes are solely devoured by the children but, only so long as it is a plain sponge or chocolate. How conservative they are...the youth of today so I thought I'd experiment a little to tease and tempt. The results were delicious but, alas the children cast a scathing eye, leaving this rather grown up treat for the grown ups to enjoy:

Hazelnut Cappuccino Cake
A moist, not too sweet, cake for grown-up's

  • 200g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 120g self-raising flour
  • 100g ground hazelnuts
  • 2tsp. baking powder
  • 1 lemon, finely chopped zest only
  • 1tbsp. ground espresso coffee
  • 2tbsp. very strong espresso coffee, cooled

to fill & decorate

  • 250g tub mascarpone cheese
  • ground espresso coffee
  • chocolate coffee bean

Grease and base line 2 x 20cm round cake tins. Preheat the oven to 175C

1. Cream together the butter and sugar until andit is pale and fluffy then beat in the eggs, one at a time. If the mixture begins to separate (curdle), add a tablespoon of flour, taken from your weighed amount, which will help to stabilise the mixture.

2. Sift together the flour and baking powder then using a metal spoon or spatula in a cutting action, fold in the flour to the butter mixture followed by the ground hazelnuts followed by lemon zest and finally both the espresso grinds and liquid coffee.

3. Place half of the mixture into each of the prepared tins smoothing out with a knife. Bake for about 25 - 30minutes until the cake is golden and springs back when you gently touch the surface. Allow to stand in the tin for about 30 minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack.

When completely cold, fill and top with mascarpone cheese, sprinkle with ground espresso coffee and decorate with chocolate coffee beans.