Chocolate Lime Macaroons

Well hello there. It’s been a while I know, but I just haven’t been feeling the baking mojo of late. A seemingly endless round of family illness and grotty cold weather had left me feeling rather uninspired.

The good news is that this week the sickness has abated and I’m slowly getting back into the kitchen 🙂

My first post flu cravings were for comfort and sweetness. What better than a coconut macaroon to cheer me up. But, as it’s me in the kitchen, it’s a coconut macaroon with a twist. Of course I turned to chocolate as a first choice, but i thought this might make it a little sickly and there was a little extra something needed to take the edge off so I dabbled with a little lime. The results were just what I needed.

This is a very simple recipe and quite quick to make too. They are ideal as a biscuit replacement with your afternoon cuppa, but pretty enough to be served at a high tea.

Chocolate Lime Macaroons

2 egg whites
100g caster sugar
160g desiccated coconut
Grated zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1/2 a lime ( reserve the rest in case your mixture isn’t quite wet enough)

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200g dark chocolate

50ml single cream

Place all of the ingredients into a large bowl and mix together. The best way of doing this is with your hands. It will feel very dry to start with but you really need to squeeze the ingredients till they start to come together. If it’s not pressing together add the reserved lime juice 1 tsp at a time.

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Turn out your mixture onto a greaseproof sheet and press it firmly into a square about 1 cm thick.
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Take a small cookie cutter and press firmly into the mixture.
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Very gently transfer to a lined baking sheet. You will need to be quite delicate when easing the shape out onto the tray as this is a VERY crumbly mixture.

Keep cutting and repressing your mixture until it is all used. I had enough to make 24 hearts.
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Place the tray in an oven preheated to 180degrees for 10- 15 minutes, just until the coconut has started to brown.

Remove from the oven and let cool on the tray for 5 minutes to allow them to firm up a little before placing on a wire cooling rack.
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When the macaroons are completely cool melt the chocolate and stir in the cream until it is completely blended.
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Dip the macaroon in the chocolate ganache and place onto greaseproof paper  until the chocolate is set.
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These can now be kept for up to a week, ( if you have a stronger will that I ), in an airtight container.
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A BientĂ´t.

Chocolate Chestnut Chili Torte

I had this idea a while ago and thought it would be a most excellent dessert for christmas.  I’ve been  Waiting ever since. Amidst all the preparations all I could think about was finally getting to make (and more importantly, eat) my pud, and hope it was as nice as I thought it was going to be.

Well the waiting is over and I can assure you it was most definitely worth the wait 🙂

There are a few flavours in here, but they complement each other wonderfully well.

Chocolate Chestnut Chilli Torte

  Chilli Pastry

200g Flour
100g Butter (diced)
50g Chilli sugar*
1 Egg (beaten)
Icing sugar to roll out pastry and sprinkle.
(* if you don’t have any chilli sugar there is a method here, or you can add 1tsp of chilli flakes and 1/4tsp of chilli powder to regular granulated sugar)
 Chocolate torte

200g Dark Chocolate

100ml Cream

100g Marzipan

50g Chestnut paste

7 whole cooked Chestnuts

Icing sugar to dust

Cut together the butter and flour until there are no large lumps left. I have this nifty little pastry cutter gadget, but a knife works just as well, but a bit slower. Finish by rubbing the flour and butter through your fingers until the mixture looks like sand. Add the sugar and mix well.

Gradually add the beaten egg and bring together with a fork. You only really need a few spoonfuls of the egg s you don’t want your pastry too wet. When it starts to go sticky on your fork use your hands to bring the dough together into a ball. If its too dry add a little more egg, if it’s too wet add a little more flour.

Kneed well until smooth and crack free, place in a polythene bag and refrigerate for at least half an hour before rolling.
roll out pastry to 1/2cm
Once the pastry is chilled roll out to about 1/2cm thick. You will need the pastry to be relatively thick as there is a point with this torte when you will be using your hands and you don’t want it to fall apart when you pick it up.
Press gently into a greased and floured tin and blind bake* for 25 minutes.

*To ‘blind bake’ you need to cover the uncooked pastry with a sheet of baking paper and weight it down with pastry beads or uncooked rice and place in a pre-heated 180degree oven.
cover and blind bake pastry
Take the pastry from the oven when it has started to brown around the edges and allow to cool completely. When it is completely cold remove the beads/rice and paper .
baking rice
Roll out marzipan to about 1/4cm and line the pastry shell.
Spread a generous layer of chestnut puree on top of the marzipan.
The reason for the marzipan, should one be needed, is to stop the chestnut puree soaking into the pastry and making it soggy. And it tastes fantastic.

chestnut paste

Place the dark chocolate in a bowl over boiling water and when it has melted stir in the cream. It takes a few minutes for the cream and chocolate to combine so stir gently until the mixture is smoothe dark and runny.

heat chocolate and cream

Take from the heat and stand for 5 minutes before pouring into the pastry shell.
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Now you have to be patient. Set aside to cool for an hour and when the top of the ganache is set arrange your chestnut pieces gently on top. Now leave the torte to cool completely either in a cool place overnight or in the fridge for a few hours.
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When the torte is solid, you are free to enjoy 🙂

I would recommend serving with a little cream or creme fraiche. The pastry is not overly hot and the chocolate ganache complements the hint of chili without ambushing it completely. But in the wise words of small person “don’t eat the pastry on its own…get me some water”!

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A Bientot.

Chocolate , Chocolate, Chocolate and Beetroot cake

Yes you read that right beetroot. But more of that later….

As regular readers and friends will already know Small Person has very recently reached the grand old age of 8. As is tradition here on her ‘actual’ birthday it is custom to bring in a cake for the school to share ( this is not as daunting as it sounds as in the whole school  there is a grand total of 20 people). When I picked her up on Tuesday afternoon the teacher confirmed that there would indeed be a cake on Friday, I told her yes of course there would be, then she leaned over to me and asked me if it was at all possible that I could make the same cake as I had made last year as she had really enjoyed it. I was, of course, thrilled that she had enjoyed it so much and whilst I reassured her I would do my best I was also a little concerned as I knew for a fact that I made up the recipe for it and didn’t write it down.

I knew vaguely what it was and that involved lots of chocolate and grated pumpkin, ( we were give a 17 kg pumpkin last year by a friend and I was desperate to find things to do with it ), but other than that I was at a bit of a loss. In any case as we had not received a massive pumpkin gift this year I resolved to go to the supermarket on Thursday and purchase a pumpkin to use for the cake.

Of course you know that when i got there, there was not a pumpkin to be seen. So what was I to do. I could just make a normal chocolate cake, that’s what I could do.

Yeah right.

As I was gathering my ingredients my eyes strayed to the vegetable shelf and  came to rest on a vacuum pack of natural beetroot and my my mind decide that this would be a great idea…… And I’m happy to say that despite Hubby’s “I’ve married a mad person” look, it was.

The Beetroot gives a very subtle flavour in the the midst of the chocolate kick and helps to keep the cake super moist.

Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate and Beetroot cake

75g unsalted Butter (softened)

100g Sugar

1 medium Egg (beaten)

225g Flour

50g Cocoa powder

3tsp Baking powder

1 Banana

50g Natural (un-pickled) Beetroot

100ml Crémé fraîche

75g Dark chocolate (roughly chopped)

 

Begin by creaming together the softened butter and sugar and beat till pale and fluffy.

Gradually beat in the egg adding a tsp of flour with each addition to avoid curdling.

Sieve the remaining flour cocoa powder and baking powder into the bowl and fold in gently using a metal spoon.

In a separate bowl mash the banana, grate the beetroot and mix well with the crémé fraîche .

Add the ‘wet’ ingredients to the ‘dry’ bowl and beat together.

Finally add the roughly chopped chocolate and give it one last stir before pouring the mixture into a greased and lined baking tin.

Cover the top of the cake with baking paper, pressing lightly on the surface ( this should ensure a nice flat top), and place in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for 45 minutes. Carefully remove the baking paper after 25 minutes of baking.

Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cook completely.

Now, these quantities will give you one large square cake, but as I was showing off a bit I made double the quantity so I could sandwich them together with chocolate ganache and smother it in yet more chocolate before plonking a solid dark chocolate birthday star on top and round it of with some white chocolate butter cream swirls! Well it was her birthday.

As I knew there was absolutely zero chance of Hubby and I getting a sniff of the cake, i used a tiny bit of the mixture to make a cupcake size tester (well you HAVE to try these things….) and it was simply delicious and extremely indulgent. 🙂

 

I’m very happy to report that when I went to pick up Small Person from school there was not a single crumb left and lots of children with chocolaty smiles. Thats all you can ask for really.

A BientĂ´t

 

 

Avocado and Pistachio nut Loaf

I do like a nice loaf. And (if I do say so myself) this is a rather nice loaf.

I made a version of this a little while ago, but it was lacking  …. something. I had no idea what that something was, so I left it and moved on to sweeter things for a while. When I was shelling some pistachios for a recent recipe it suddenly occurred to me that these could be the very thing my old loaf needed.

The problem with pistachios is that they take so long to shell,  I just couldn’t summon up the enthusiasm for a while. You may notice that in the recipe below I’ve been rather vague about the amount of pistachios used as I got a little bored at around the 30g mark and decided that was enough, but in all honesty a few more wouldn’t have gone a miss.

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Avocado and  pistachio nut loaf

200g Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
1/2tsp Salt
100g Sugar
100g Butter
1 medium Egg
1 ripe Avocado
100ml Creme Fraiche
Zest of 1 Lemon
3cm piece of Root Ginger
30-50g shelled Pistachio nuts

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Cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
Fold in the flour, baking power and salt and stir well.

In another bowl mash the avocado until smooth, add the zest of one lemon and grate in the piece of ginger. Stir in the creme fraiche and beaten egg.

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Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir well until fully combined.

Shell pistachios and place in a plastic bag and roll hard several times with a rolling pin and crush into small pieces.

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Tip the bag of crushed nuts into the batter and combine.

Tip the whole mixture into a greased and lined loaf tip and cover loosely with baking paper. Bake at 180 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove the baking paper cover after the first 35 minutes.

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During the last 15 minutes of baking time test the loaf with a wooden skewer, when the skewer comes our clean, then you are ready to take the tin out of the oven and rest it for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes take the loaf out of the tin and allow to cool completely ( if you can ).

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I thought about adding a glaze or crust to this loaf, but in the end I’m really glad I didn’t as it simply doesn’t need any embellishment.

This is a lovely loaf to enjoy the next day when the cake has become more dense (and a lot easier to slice). Either on it’s own or spread with a little butter.
It’s not exactly sweet, but it’s not exactly savoury either, somewhere in-between, but it’s  very good with a feet-up cuppa, and lasts up to a week if stored wrapped in greaseproof paper in an airtight container.

Enjoy 🙂

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A BientĂ´t

Tropical Fruit Cake

There’s something quite brilliant about a fresh pineapple don’t you think? I don’t really know what exactly it is that attracts me so much, it could be the smell or the texture, it could be the fact that they just taste so much better than their tinned counterparts or perhaps it could just be that it’s a ridiculous shape and I always think it would look good as a hat, but whatever it is I do love them. When we saw them recently in our not-so-local supermarket at a price I deemed acceptable it was soon whisked from the ‘panier des fruit exotique’ and into my trolley. As I was already in the area of ‘exotique’ i felt it would be rude not to pick up a mango or two as well.

Of course when it got home it took pride of place in the fruit bowl and did little else but preen itself in front of the non-exotic fruit in the bowl for a few days until I finally hacked it open and small one and I devoured half of it in one sitting. Our needs sated for the moment the rest of it was consigned to the fridge to await it’s fate.

Once more my thoughts turned to cake, as they often do, and the immediate thought was for a ‘gâteau d’ananas inverse’* , but I’ve made quite a few of those recently and delicious as they are I was hankering for something a little…..different. A quick reconnoiter of the fruit bowl showed me a couple of bananas that should have been eaten already, a solitary orange and the as yet untouched mango. Game on 🙂

*pineapple upside-down cake sounds so much more elegant in French.

Apologies about the quality of pictures for this post. Out of necessity ( I’d temporarily misplaced my camera…) they were taken on the iPad and they are a little on the dark side.

Tropical Fruit Cake

85g Butter ( softened )
120g Sugar
1 medium Egg
300g Flour
2tsp Baking Powder
2 ripe Bananas
100ml Creme Fraiche
1 Orange
1 Mango
100g Pineapple
50-100g Icing sugar ( for glaze )

Cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then beat in 1 egg.
Gradually fold in the flour and baking powder until combined.

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In a separate bowl mash the 2 bananas and stir in the creme fraiche. Grate in the rind of 1 orange, then chop in half scoop out the flesh and add to the ‘wet’ bowl.
This is not the easiest thing in the world to do, but if possible separate the flesh from the segment skin, as this can give a bitter taste and it’s just not that pleasant to chew. Put aside the other half of the orange for later.
Peel and chop the mango- again not the easiest thing to do as I still haven’t found a satisfactory kitchen gadget to peel and stone a squishy mango and it always gets very messy! I try and peel it over the ‘wet’ bowl so any escaping juice gets into the cake mix rather than wasted.
Next finely dice the pineapple, add to the bowl and mix well.

When the ‘wet’ bowl is well mixed, add it to the large bowl and stir until the mixture is fully combined.

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Grease and line an …… Cm square tin and pour the batter in and allow to settle for a few minutes before covering with baking paper (for the first 45 minutes of baking time) and placing in an oven preheated to 170 degrees.

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The cooking time on this cake is a around an hour. You don’t want the cake to be completely dry in the middle when cooked as it’s the moisture that really develops the flavours after you take it out of the oven. Conversely you don’t want it to be too runny either…. At around about the hour mark poke a wooden skewer into the centr of the cake and pull it out. You should feel a certain amount of cling when you pull it out, but there should be no mixture left on the skewer. That’s when you take it out and rest it in the tin for 5 minutes, while you mix up the glaze.

For the glaze you will need the juice from the other half of your orange and combine with the icing sugar. I’ve been a little woolly about the amount of icing sugar you will need for this for a couple of reasons as it largely depends on the size of orange you have and the amount of juice you can get out of it. The glaze needs to be translucent and runny so it can be poured over the top of the cake while it’s still warm. (The other reason is that I was making it whilst chatting to a friend and completely forgot to measure the amount.)

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After about 20 minutes remove the cake from the tin and allow to cool completely. Now whilst the great temptation is to eat it straight away I would strongly recommend leaving it overnight before cutting in as the taste of the fruit develops when allowed to sit for a while. In fact the longer you can leave it the better as the individual flavours come into their own over the course of a few days.

This is a very heavy, dense rich fruit cake which will last for up to a week if stored in an an airtight container, wrapped in greaseproof paper, between nibbles.

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A BientĂ´t.