Dessert to finish

London recipe writer, stylist and blogger Benjamina Ebuehi
London recipe writer, stylist and blogger Benjamina Ebuehi
Benjamina Ebuehi believes dessert is the best part of a meal.

"For as long as I can remember, I’ve always felt the need for something sweet after eating. It could be as small as a square of chocolate, a digestive biscuit or in times of desperation when cupboards were bare, a sweet milky cup of Horlicks. Just a little something to round things off."

Ebuehi, a London recipe writer, stylist and blogger (, finds the anticipation of dessert is particularly exciting.

"Dessert is the feeling of knowing the night isn’t quite over. It lets you linger that little bit longer. It’s the signal to put the kettle on, to maybe move from the table to comfy sofas. It’s the joy of bringing a dish to the table and watching everyone’s eyes light up."

So she is usually the designated dessert person or the one who volunteers to bring along something sweet.

"It’s a role I love and take very seriously."

It means asking a series of questions such as casual or fancy, crowd pleaser or new, any vegans, hot or cold, maximum flavour but minimum effort and finally should she just buy something.

So when she does not have the time or brain space to think she goes with one of the same two or three favourites, usually tiramisu, cheesecake or pavlova.

"These are well-loved classics that are guaranteed to go down well but sometimes you just want to mix things up."

Her book I’ll Bring Dessert aims to do the heavy lifting for the designated dessert person by giving inspiration for what to make no matter the occasion.

They are recipes she makes for dinner parties with friends, church potlucks, last-minute get-togethers and big family get-togethers. They are varied from the classic crumble and strawberries and cream to the more adventurous salted honey sesame tart or preserved lemon olive oil cookies.

"I’ve only included recipes that transport well, either as a whole or as elements to be assembled later."

She advises to get organised, read the recipe right through as many of her recipes can be made in the days prior to the event and finished at the destination to avoid last-minute panics.

The recipes are divided into chapters based on if the main ingredient is fruity, chocolatey, creamy (her love letter to custard and features the big three — pavlova, tiramisu and cheesecakes), nutty and something on the side.


This is an edited extract from I’ll Bring Dessert by Benjamina Ebuehi, published by Quadrille. Photography by Laura Edwards.

Walnut cardamom coffee cake

There’s a reason coffee and walnut cake is a British classic that appears to have stood the test of time.

If you’re bringing something to a coffee morning, bake sale or afternoon catch-up, then this is a solid option that even people who don’t like coffee will find difficult not to have a slice or two of.

I’ve spiked this version with a bit of cardamom because, yes, it’s my favourite spice, but also because it brings some brightness and freshness that I think works really well. 

Serves 8-10


100g (1 cup) walnuts

8 green cardamom pods

2 eggs

200g (1 cup) light brown sugar

170ml (¾ cup) neutral oil (such as sunflower or vegetable)

80ml (⅓ cup) brewed coffee

200g (1½ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour

1½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

¼ tsp fine sea salt

60g (¼ cup) plain yoghurt

For the topping

50g (3½ Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened

140g (1 cup) icing (confectioners’) sugar

280g (1¼ cups) cream cheese

1 tsp espresso powder


Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan). Grease a 20cm round cake pan and line with baking paper.

Add the walnuts to a baking tray and roast for 7-8 minutes until toasty. Let them cool and set a few aside to top the cake. Add the rest to a food processor and blitz until you have a coarse texture, you don’t want a fine powder here.

Crack open the cardamom pods and remove the seeds. Add them to a pestle and mortar and grind up to as fine as you can. Set aside.

Add the eggs, sugar and oil to a bowl and whisk briefly to combine. Stir in the coffee. Add the flour, ground cardamom and walnuts, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and fold gently to combine.

Stir in the yoghurt and pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until deeply golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let it cool completely.

To make the topping, add the butter and icing sugar to a bowl and cream together until thick and smooth. Beat in the cream cheese and espresso powder and mix until smooth.

Spoon it all on top of the cake and use the back of a spoon to smooth it out. Top with the leftover walnuts before serving.


The cake can be made up to 2 days in advance. Ice the cake on the day you want to serve.

Crispy chocolate & dulce de leche tart

Everyone needs a few good no-bake recipes up their sleeve, and this is a fun one that reminds me of those krispie cakes you’d make as a child.

All that’s required here is some melting, mixing and chilling, so even if the thought of baking still intimidates you, this is a lovely place to start. 


Serves 12


For the base

80g dark chocolate

20g (1½ Tbsp) unsalted butter

65g cocoa pop cereal

Pinch of fine sea salt

For the filling

200g dulce de leche

100g milk chocolate, finely chopped

100g dark chocolate, finely chopped

220ml (scant 1 cup) double (heavy) cream

2 small cinnamon sticks

To finish

Flaky sea salt


To make the base, add the chocolate and butter to a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water. Stir gently until melted. Alternatively, melt in short bursts in the microwave.

Tip in the cereal and salt and give it a good stir until coated. Spoon into a 20cm round loose-bottomed cake pan and use the back of a spoon to press it down.

Chill the base in the fridge for 20 minutes or until firm. Once chilled, spoon and spread your dulce de leche on top of the base, leaving about a 5mm border around the edges. Place it back in the fridge while you make your ganache.

Add all the chopped chocolate to a bowl. Put the cream and cinnamon sticks in a small saucepan and heat until steaming but not boiling. (If you have time, remove from the heat and let the cinnamon infuse in the cream for 15 minutes, then remove the cinnamon sticks and reheat the cream until hot again.) Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 30 seconds.

Slowly stir the ganache until smooth and silky. If there are still some unmelted bits of chocolate, place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and let it heat gently until melted.

Pour the ganache on top of the dulce de leche layer and chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours or until fully set.

Top with flaky sea salt. To get clean slices, dip a sharp knife in hot water.


Make up to 1 day ahead; any longer and the base will start to soften.

Rhubarb meringue cake

There are a few elements that make up this cake, but it’s so worth it. It’s all about the different textures here - soft, squidgy sponge, marshmallowy meringue with crisp edges, silky folds of cream and tender, hot pink rhubarb roasted just enough to keep its bite. If you can’t get hold of rhubarb, this cake still works with a range of fruit.

Try it with sumac strawberries, white-wine poached peaches or keep it super-simple with a mix of fresh berries.


Serves 12-16


For the rhubarb

300g rhubarb

3 Tbsp caster (superfine) sugar

grated zest of 1 lemon

2 Tbsp water

For the cake

125g (½ cup plus 1 Tbsp) unsalted butter

150g (¾ cup) caster (superfine) sugar

½ tsp vanilla bean paste

1 egg, plus 2 egg yolks

grated zest of 1 lemon

175g (1⅓ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour

1½ tsp baking powder

pinch of fine sea salt

100ml (scant ½ cup) milk


Start by preparing the rhubarb. Preheat the oven to 210°C (190°C fan).

Wash your rhubarb and trim off the ends. Chop into 5cm pieces and place in a roasting dish. Toss with the sugar, lemon zest and water. Cover loosely with foil and roast in the oven for 12-15 minutes until the rhubarb has softened a little but is still holding its shape. Baste the rhubarb in some of the juices and set aside to cool completely. (You can do this step a few days in advance and store the rhubarb in the fridge.)

Turn the oven down to 180°C (160°C fan). Grease a 33cm x 23cm Swiss roll (jelly roll) pan or baking tray at least 2cm deep and line it with baking paper, leaving enough overhang to help you pull it out later.

Add the butter, sugar and vanilla to a bowl and cream together with an electric whisk or stand mixer until pale and creamy.

Add in the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after adding, and then beat in the whole egg, scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Add in half of the flour, the baking powder and salt, stirring to get a smooth batter. Mix in the milk followed by the rest of the flour.

For the meringue

120g egg whites (from 3 large eggs)

170g (generous ¾ cup) caster (superfine) sugar

1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch)

To finish

400ml (1¾ cups) double (heavy) cream (or use three-quarters cream and a quarter custard)

1 tsp vanilla bean paste


Spoon the batter into the lined pan and smooth out the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cake is lightly browned and cooked through.

While the cake bakes, prepare the meringue. Add the egg whites to a clean, grease-free bowl and whip on medium speed until they look frothy and have soft peaks. Start adding in the sugar a tablespoon at a time, waiting about 20 seconds before adding more. Once all the sugar is in, tip in the cornflour and whisk briefly to combine.

Spoon the meringue on to the cake once it comes out of the oven, using a palette knife or the back of a spoon to create swoops and swirls. Place it back in the oven and turn the temperature up to 190°C (170°C fan).

Bake for another 20-25 minutes or until the meringue has a firm outer crust and is starting to lightly brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely.

When you're ready to serve, lightly whip the cream and vanilla in a bowl until you have soft peaks (stirring in the custard, if using). Spoon the cream on top of the meringue and top with the rhubarb and some of the syrup.


Make the rhubarb up to 3 days ahead and store in the fridge. The cake can be made a day before but I find it’s best on the day it was made.