Friends and family are more likely to catch up over drinks and coffee during the winter months than at any other time of year. So I decided to round up the ladies for a festive coffee morning and who better to sample John's whiskey brownie and shortbread biscuits than a few of my fellow Clandestine Cake Club members and a couple of my neighbours.
The Tassimo machine is a rather clever gadget as it doesn't just make coffee, it also does frothy tops for capuccino, tea, hot chocolate and babycinnos. In fact we said the only thing missing from the Tassimo range is a mulled wine pod to pop into the machine - I'd like to take credit for that when they start selling them next Christmas!
As part of their Perfect Host campaign Tassimo have recruited a team of experts to help your festive gathering go smoothly this year. Fashion designer and former Made in Chelsea star Millie Mackintosh recommends thinking about lighting to get the mood right "candles and lamps can be used to soften a room" (I also think fairy lights work wonders at this time of year) whilst coffee expert Hazel Middleton suggests preparing cakes the day before "to avoid panic on the morning."
Not only did we try out John's whiskey infused brownie at our coffee morning, but I also made his shortbread biscuits and served them with Affogatto, otherwise known as vanilla ice-cream drenched in hot coffee. It was a big hit and a lovely indulgent winter treat . In fact the Tassimo machine was such a success, that one of my neighbours invited herself over again this morning to have "another one of those lovely coffees" but I'd actually run out!
If you'd like to try making your own Affogatto, here's John's recipe...
John Torode’s Affogatto with Short Bread Biscuits
You will need:
• 4 bowls
• 8 scoops of vanilla ice cream
• 4 individual espressos
Ingredients (for the shortbread):
• 200g plain flour
• 90g caster sugar
• 60g ground almonds
• 200g butter chopped into bits
• 1 egg
• The zest of half a lemon
• 2 drops vanilla essence
• pinch of table salt
1. Put the flour, sugar and almonds in a food processor and whizz at full speed for a few seconds. Add the butter and whizz again briefly; the mixture should resemble fine breadcrumbs. Add egg, lemon zest and vanilla essence, then whizz again briefly until the pastry forms into a ball.
2. Scrape contents onto a sheet of cling film, then either shape into a rough ball or roll into a cylinder shape, roughly 5cm in diameter.
3. Wrap and chill the biscuit dough for at least 2 hours. You can also freeze it or make a few days ahead and keep in the fridge.
4. Cut into flat discs or stars. Bake in a preheated oven at 190C on a flat baking sheet for 12-15 minutes
5. Once baked and cooled, serve on the side of your affogatto.
Big thank you to my sister Jane for taking photos of our gathering and to Tassimo for inviting us to join the #TassimoPerfectHost campaign.