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Tag: Chocolate

Chestnut-Flour Apricot Cacao Cake (Torta di Farina di Castagne e Cacao)

Chestnut flour is a lot of fun to bake with. It provides a nutty, yet sweet aromatic flavour to breads, tarts and cookies, which is very different from other nut flours. I use it a lot and have made the traditional Italian castagnaccio tart, pancakes, several breads, cookies, and even “peanut butter” cups. I also love to cook with the nuts themselves, making soups, adding them to dishes and purees.

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For a listing of all my chestnut recipes, please click here.

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Some weeks ago, I experimented with an eggless waffle made with chestnut flour and flax, whose flavour was really delicious. But the texture didn’t work out. I thought of recreating that for breakfast today, but I had added zucchini to the recipe and didn’t have any left. So, I’ll have to revisit that sometime soon…

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But today, I wanted to make something between a bread and a cake. My first experiment (of which I posted a picture on Instagram) has a nice flavour, but the texture is not quite what I was looking for. While I was on my walk, I kept thinking of how I could change the recipe and make it better.

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When I got home, I put out all the ingredients and then saw a recipe on the back of the chestnut flour bag that caught my eye: chestnut flour and cacao cake.

This is an adaptation of that recipe, making it gluten free, adding more eggs and fresh apricots instead of dried figs. I’ve kept it in grams, since it’s easier to adapt a recipe that way, but added cups for US conversion convenience. Therefore, some of the measurements seem odd, but are not really.

For me, it’s a keeper. I’m eager to know what you think!

Note: It’s better eaten the same day of baking or the day after. But after that, it tends to dry up a bit.

Chestnut-Flour Apricot Cacao Cake
Recipe Type: Dessert, Breakfast
Cuisine: Paleo
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Ingredients
  • 100g (1 cup + 1 heaping tablespoon) chestnut flour
  • 50g (1/2 cup) ground almonds (almond flour)
  • 3 eggs, separate
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 35g (1/2 cup) raw cacao powder
  • 50g (1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) coconut sugar (more or honey, if you prefer sweeter)
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 25g (3 tablespoons) pine nuts (optional)
  • 3 ripe apricots, peeled and diced
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C fan (350F).
  2. Grease a pie/tart pan.
  3. In a clean mixing bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
  4. In another mixing bowl, cream the egg yolks, chestnut flour, ground almonds, coconut sugar, raw cacao, baking soda and coconut milk.
  5. Fold in the egg whites and blend until the white is no longer showing.
  6. Fold in the apricot pieces.
  7. Pour into the pie/tart mold.
  8. Sprinkle with pine nuts, if desired.
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes on the middle rack.

 

Paleo Chili “Peanut Butter Cups” (No Peanuts, No Bake)

While making some Salted Chestnut “Sugar” Cookies, I realised the taste of the dough was very similar to that of a peanut butter cup. I actually do not like peanuts at all, except for maybe in a satay sauce or with this minor exception, in a candy cup. In fact, growing up, I couldn’t stand eating the traditional American peanut butter & jelly sandwich. It still upsets me to think about it…

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However, the combination of sweet and salty and chocolate all in one is definitely a different story. And the best part of this, is that there are no peanuts, which are not as healthy as we used to think and cause many allergies, as they are a legume (which have a lot of anti-nutrients).

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These “peanut butter cups” are made with chestnut flour, which is very versatile and fun to bake and cook with. The chocolate I used was from this Chili Chocolate recipe, which I altered as follows for the candy cups:

Chili Chocolate

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup grated raw cacao butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup raw honey (add more to taste, if you like)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

To make, simply melt all the ingredients together over low heat on the stovetop or in the microwave. It takes less than a minute. If you prefer to omit the chili, do so; although I have to say I like the combination of sweet, salty and spicy, but it’s my personal preference. 😉

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And as this is a “no bake” recipe (minus a little bit of heat to melt the chocolate mixture), it’s perfect for joining this month’s Sweet Adventure’s Blog Hop “Sweets Without Heat”.

I warn you though: they are addictive! I made one batch and never made it around to taking pictures, so  I had to make a second batch to be able to photograph them…. and to indulge again, of course!

Okay, let’s get started!

Paleo Chili “Peanut Butter Cups” (No Peanuts, No Bake)
Recipe Type: Raw Dessert
Cuisine: Paleo
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 24
Makes about 24 mini cups.
Ingredients
  • For the Chili Chocolate Recipe:
  • 1 cup raw cacao butter, grated
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup raw honey (more to taste, if desired)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (omit, if desired)
  • For the Chestnut Filling:
  • 1 cup chestnut flour
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons coconut oil, solid and packed
  • 3 tablespoons raw honey (or sweetener of choice)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt (add more, if desired)
Instructions
  1. Make a batch of the Chili Chocolate, by melting all of the ingredients together in a saucepan over low heat, about 1 minute.
  2. Prepare a mini cup cake pan with liners.
  3. Pour 1-2 teaspoons of the melted chocolate mixture into each cup.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes until set.
  5. In the meantime, mix all of the ingredients for the Chestnut Filling by hand in a mixing bowl.
  6. Place about a teaspoon of the chestnut filling on top of the set chocolate in each cup.
  7. Pour another 1-2 teaspoons of melted chocolate over top and refrigerate again until set.

 

 

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The SABH is brought to you by 84th & 3rdThe Capers of the Kitchen Crusader, and moi, Dining With a Stud. This blog hop is open to all food bloggers.

This  hop is open from 9am 20 May 2013 – 11:59pm 27 May 2013 [AEST Sydney  time]. Please only link-up new posts published on or after 20 May.

For entry instructions, the badge and joining the fun, please check this month’s host recipe, Raw Chocolate Ganache Tart by Dining with a Stud.

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Chestnut-Cashew Chili Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are delicious, if I may say so myself! Really, they are. But I’ll let you be the judge, when you make them. The recipe is also a good starting point for experimenting with other flavourings and nut flour combinations.

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If you don’t like the Chili Chocolate Chips, make them without the chili, and add more honey to the cookie mixture. I personally like the sweet-spicy combo, as it provides an interesting and unexpected surprise in every bite!

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Chestnut-Chesnut Chili Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe Type: Dessert
Cuisine: Paleo
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 16
Makes 12
Ingredients
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, solid
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup ground, raw cashews (or ground almonds)
  • 1 1/2 cups chestnut flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey (add more if you prefer sweeter cookies)
  • 1/3 heaping cup of chili chocolate chips*
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F).
  2. In a mixing bowl, with a hand whisk beat the eggs, coconut oil, vanilla extract and sea salt until smooth.
  3. Add the baking soda, honey and flours and knead with hands until all ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Add the chocolate chips and mix well.
  5. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet in spoonfuls, about 1 1/2 inch wide.
  6. Press down with fingers, so that the cookies turn out “flatter” and “rounder”.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  8. The cookies will be very soft to the touch right out of the oven.
  9. Allow to cook and harden before eating.
  10. They can be stored in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.

 

Chili Chocolate

It is known that the Mayans used to drink their chocolate with chili and unsweetened. The word “chocolatl” means “bitter drink”; and there’s evidence that it dates from about 2000 years BC! The original drink was the fermented, roasted and ground beans of the cacao.

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It was the Europeans who later added refined sugar and milk to create the chocolate drink we know today. Unfortunately, the old traditions of the “bitter drink” seem to be lost even in the areas where the Mayas lived, as most of the world has developed a sweet tooth. But now, with cacao butter being more readily accessible, we can somewhat replicate this beverage in our own homes!

Personally, I love dark, bitter chocolate and enjoy making my own. This recipe includes chili powder, but you can omit it and add other ingredients as you like, for example, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, dried fruit pieces, nuts…whatever strikes your fancy! You can create chocolate “candy”, bars, “chips” or drink it alone or with some coconut or almond milk….

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If you prefer no sweetener at all, omit the honey. I’ve made it with and without, depending on the recipe with which I’m using the chocolate.

It chills nicely and keeps its form, but starts to melt quickly in warm temperatures. So, beware with handling it and getting chocolate fingers. 😉

Try this Chili Chocolate with my Chestnut-Cashew Chili Chocolate Chip Cookies (that’s a lot of C’s… ) for a great combination of sweet, spicy and healthy!

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Chili Chocolate
Recipe Type: Easy
Cuisine: Paleo
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Makes about 2 cups of “chips”.
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup grated cacao butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, solid packed
  • 1/2 cup raw 100% cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, pour all the ingredients, except the chili powder.
  2. Over low heat, cook until the coconut oil and honey are melted, about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Mix well to ensure all the ingredients are homogenised.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Allow to cool, then add the chili powder and mix well.
  6. Pour into candy molds; or for rustic chips: pour onto a piece of parchment paper.
  7. Roll it up and freeze overnight.
  8. The chocolate will break into pieces as you open the parchment paper.
  9. Break into smaller pieces should you prefer.

 

Paleo Beetroot Cake

The other night, I made the most delicious duck with roasted beetroot and sweet potatoes. We love duck, but usually are boring and only make it a l’orange. But in my search for something different, I stumbled upon a recipe to make it with lavender and I was hooked! I bought some edible flowers last year and every chance I get to use them, I jump on the opportunity. I love the aromas and the gourmet touch they provide.

However, I didn’t take good pictures of the duck dish. So that means, we’ll have to be making it again (darn ;-P) for lunch this time, and then I’ll be able to share with all of you the exquisite, aromatic recipe!

Anyway, I had a bunch of left over pre-cooked beets and really didn’t want to use them in salads and such. Google came to the rescue and I found an interesting flourless cake from Elana’s Pantry. I made it immediately and although I loved its flavour and texture, I did find it somewhat too moist to serve as a cake.

Here’s what I consider my improvement upon the original. I’ve made changes for a number of reasons, aside from the moisture issue: I used olive oil, instead of grapseed oil, which I’ve read about and it is not considered a healthy fat; I used raw honey, instead of the agave nectar, which is also not considered that healthy, and here’s why; and finally, I added spices, coconut flour for the moisture, and baking soda to make it more of a cake.

I hope you give it a try and let me know what you think. We loved it!

For original recipe from Elana’s Pantry, please click here.

PALEO BEETROOT CAKE

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of grated, cooked beetroots
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup raw 100% cacao powder
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour (for a slightly fluffier and dryer cake, use 1/2 cup coconut flour)*

Process

  1. Preheat oven to 170C (350F).
  2. In a food processor or blender, beat the beetroots, eggs and olive oil.
  3. Add the honey, vanilla extract, baking soda, sea salt and spices. Blend well.
  4. Add the cacao powder and coconut flour and mix until well incorporated.
  5. Pour into a greased cake pan of choice. I used a 9-inch diameter tart pan.
  6. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Cool completely before cutting and serving. Garnish as desired.

*I’ve made this cake both ways, with more and less coconut flour. I really can’t say which I prefer, as I love both. I would suggest making it both ways and deciding for yourself too!

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies – Paleo

I’ve been very fortunate this holiday season for a number of reasons, primarily of course, my husband and I have been able to visit with my parents. We’ve enjoyed sharing a couple of weeks with them, doing lots of delicious home cooking and even visiting the Dali Museum in Tampa, Florida. My mother, husband and I are avid art enthusiasts, so it was a special treat for the three of us. My father doesn’t appreciate art so much, but was once again impressed by the Spanish artist’s works, many of which we had not seen in person before.

During our trip, I’ve also purchased a few new recipes books, including The Wheat Belly Cookbook, and as I am so eager to try out new things, I’ve already made two recipes, one of which I am sharing with you now. I’ve altered it a bit to accommodate my tastes, and all of us at home can vouch for their deliciousness! 😉

As our trip comes to an end, it’s always very hard to say “hasta luego” to my parents. Thank goodness for technology and Skype; so in a couple of days, we’ll be seeing each other again, albeit not in person…. but for today, we’ll enjoy some more great home cooking, courtesy of my mother.

CHEWY CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES – PALEO

Ingredients, makes about 20 medium cookies

  • 3 cups almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk, or milk of choice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4-5 tablespoons raw honey
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (for homemade chips, see recipe here)

Process

Preheat oven to 350F or 180C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix the almond flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the olive oil, almond milk, and vanilla. Mix well. Add the almond flour mixture until combined. Add the  honey, and depending on your taste, use 4 or 5 tablespoons.

Stir in the chips.

Drop by heaping tablespoons onto the baking sheet. Place in oven and bake for 2 minutes, then with a clean spoon or a glass, press each cookie to flatten.

Bake an additional 14 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing from baking sheet.

Once completely cool, I store mine in a sealable container in the fridge.

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies & Homemade Chocolate Chips

My oh my! These are good. Even the cookie dough is addictive, just like the “real” thing.

I am not a huge fan of cookies in general, except the quintessentially American chocolate chip cookie (and maybe the sugar cookie for decorating). But my nieces have been making chocolate chip cookies and sending me pictures via Whatsapp, so I kind of felt left out. But I’m on a mission to avoid gluten at all costs… so I had to go searching for an almond flour recipe, so that I could indulge without guilt and ensure it’s a healthier version.

In Spain, there are many pastries made with almond flour or other nut flours, so adapting those recipes to remove the refined sugar is less of a challenge than to make the right chocolate chip cookie.

The ones I made today are a mixture of recipes and came out delicious. And although they do not have the traditional goey texture of a wheat cookie, the flavour is spot on. I think I like them better actually!

PALEO CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Ingredients, makes about 24 medium 2-inch cookies

(The original recipe is from Against All Grain, with some influence from The Food Lovers Kitchen.)

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups blanched ground almonds
  • 3 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate pieces (recipe below)

Process

Make chocolate pieces or chips a few hours in advance or the day before.

Preheat oven to 180C or 350F. In a bowl, with a hand mixer, beat until smooth and fluffy the olive oil, honey, eggs and vanilla. Add the almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda and sea salt. Mix until combined. You may need a spoon to do this properly. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand, as well.

On a parchment-lined cookie or baking sheet, drop balls of the cookie dough, about 1 inch in diameter (like a tablespoon each). With your hand or a piece of parchment, press on each cookie to flatten out.

Bake between 10-12 minutes until golden brown. I used the bottom rack of my oven and placed an empty cookie sheet on the middle rack to protect the cookies below and prevent them from burning. Nut flours tend to burn very easily, so beware of this.

The cookies will be rather soft to the touch right out of the oven. Allow to cool on a cookie rack before eating, as they harden as they cool.

HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE CHIPS/PIECES

Ingredients, makes about 1 1/2 cups

(I had previously found a very interesting recipe for making chocolate at home with cacao butter. But since my computer crashed, I cannot find the recipe back. However, my friend Denise from Edible Harmony, has a great recipe, which I’ve used for these cookies. She also has her version of paleo CCC, without eggs.)

  • 1/4 cup cacao butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons 100% cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey (optional, if you prefer bitter dark chocolate)

Process

In a saucepan, combine all of the ingredients and heat over low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the cacao butter is melted. Allow the mixture to cool and thicken in the fridge.

Once it has thickened, either pipe into a chip form or spread on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Place in freezer until it is set. If you make the spread format, break the chocolate into small pieces for the cookie recipe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Banana Chocolate Avocado Ice Cream (Dairy Free)

I know I’m a little weird making ice cream when it’s  quite chilly outside. In fact, the cricket field next to our house this morning was all white, covered in frost. But I had a couple of avocados and some bananas about to go bad, and since ice cream is so easy to make, I figured why not.

In a previous ice cream recipe, I used avocados and they make the creamiest non-dairy ice cream I’ve had so far. I really like the texture they create and how little the flavour is really noticeable, especially when mixed with other fruit.

BANANA CHOCOLATE AVOCADO ICE CREAM

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 cups of coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup raw honey
  • 1 teaspoon rose-water (optional)
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder

Process

Place all ingredients in the blender and pulse until you have a smooth mixture. Put into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions, or pour into a sealable freezer-proof container and freeze for at least 4 hours, stirring every hour or so to avoid the ice crystals from forming.

 

 

Chocolate Beef Stew-Estofado de Ternera al Chocolate

I like different. I love chocolate. And I’m feeling inspired….even if the weather is not exactly appropriate for stew right now. It’s boiling hot in London! I love it, although I think it’s a bit uncomfortable with the humidity factor. But I’m not complaining; it’s a rarity to see the sun around here…so, I’ll take it in any form it comes!
This is an easy dish to make and it’s delicious and slightly exotic as well. It’s very typical to add chocolate to game, usually to compliment the stronger flavours of the meat. In Spain, growing up, a dear friend of the family’s  would regularly go hunting for wild boar, venison and pheasant. My father went along a number of times. And we kids would also join in on the field trip, which entailed going into the sierra to spend the day in nature, running through the fields, climbing acorn oaks, and jumping in haystacks. And of course, one of the best parts of the adventure was the end of the day when we got to enjoy some of the meat on an open wood-fire, with the noises of the night and the moon and the stars as our companions.
I’m not keen about hunting; in fact, I hardly eat game anymore, although I do admit that the flavour is incomparable to farm-grown animals. However, today I indulged in my passion of chocolate with a beef stew.
Chocolate Beef Stew – Estofado de Ternera al Chocolate
Ingredients, for 4
  • 1 kilo of a tender cut of beef, diced for stew
  • 3 large onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 100g of pure cocoa powder
  • 1 cup of vinegar (I used balsamic as it’s sweeter, but you can use wine vinegar too)
  • 4-5 large potatoes, peeled and cut into large squares
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped into large chunks
  • fresh ground nutmeg, to taste (I used about 3 teaspoons)
  • sea salt, to taste
  • olive oil
  • water
Process
Rinse the beef and pat dry. In a pressure cooker, place enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pot. Over medium heat, brown the beef. Add the onions and garlic and saute about 10 minutes. Add the vinegar, cocoa powder, and nutmeg. Mix well and saute about 1 minute. Add the potatoes and carrots, and enough water to cover, or according to the instructions of your pressure cooker. Cover and seal the cooker; cook for 25 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow for the steam from the cooker to be released. Open the pot when there is no steam left. Check the meat for tenderness. Add the salt and cook a bit longer, with no cover, to reduce the sauce, about 5-10 minutes or longer if necessary.
I like to add a teaspoon of honey or raw maple syrup over my plate and mix it in with the stew. It adds just a touch of sweetness that makes the dish all that more delicious.
Buen Provecho!

Chocolate Lilikoi Macarons with Coconut Flakes

After making the Lilikoi ganache a few days ago, I just needed to pair it with a macaron shell. But as I’ve been busy with the London 2012 Olympics, it was hard getting motivated to make a mess in the kitchen. However, I put my apron on yesterday and indulged in my obsession.
As I’m a chocolate lover, I thought this combination, along with a touch of coconut would be perfect. I have to admit, out of all the macarons I’ve made, these are probably my favourite so far! And as my husband and a friend of mine can attest, I’m a bit mad about macs! 😉
I followed the basic chocolate macaron recipe from Mad About Macarons, by Jill Colonna, and added my Lilikoi Ganache.
Chocolate-Lilikoi Macarons, with Coconut Flakes
Ingredients
  • 150g egg whites (aged overnight)
  • 100g caster sugar (super fine sugar)
  • 180g ground almonds (I use the Tesco brand)
  • 270g icing sugar
  • 15g raw cocoa powder
Process
  • For purposes of being organised and making things easier on myself, I measure everything out first and set it all aside. It’s essential to have a digital scale for making macarons.
  • Additionally, I prepare my baking sheets and cut my parchment paper and lay it all on a flat surface, at a level, which is comfortable for piping the mixture later. (I usually use three baking sheets with this recipe.)
  • Also, prepare your piping bags. Depending on their size, you may need one or two disposable bags for the macaron shells, and one for the ganache.
*****************************************************************
  • Sift icing sugar, ground almonds and cocoa powder together through a sieve. Set aside.
  • Whisk the egg whites to until a foamy white.
  • Add caster sugar all at once. (Jill recommends gradually, but I find it makes no difference at all.)
  • Continuing whisking at high speed until you have glossy form peaks and no liquid. What I do is check continuously by slightly turning the bowl on its side. If the egg whites move, then the mixture is not ready. Once you can turn the bowl upside down and the egg whites do not move or fall out, the mixture is ready. However be sure not to over-whisk, or your macaron shells will be too dry and crack in the oven.
  • Fold the prepared egg whites into the ground almond mixture. At this point, if you’re adding a colour, do so. I didn’t use colouring in these, as the cocoa powder is already providing it.
  • Mix well to incorporate all the ingredients.
  • Work the mixture (macaronnage) with a plastic spatula until a smooth mixture is achieve. Do not over-mix this either. About 4-5 minutes is enough, or until you achieve a soft and brillant mixture that forms a “ribbon” on the spatula.
  • If you over-mix, the macarons will be flat when you pipe and not provide the desired “pieds”, which make the macarons so special.
  • Transfer the mixture to the piping bags. I use disposable plastic bags and cut the bottom once the mixture is inside.
  • Pipe out onto the parchment paper on the baking sheets, making the rounds in your preferred size. For medium sized macarons, they should be about 3 cm in diameter.
  • Sprinkle coconut flakes over macaron rounds.
  • Leave for 30 minutes to set (crouter). You can check if they are ready, but touching slightly. If they feel hard to the touch, they are ready for the oven.
  • About 10 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 160C, fan setting.
  • Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until they do not move when touched. I check them frequently, about every 4 minutes and more often after that to ensure I do not burn the bottoms. You will also see the “pieds” start to develop about 2-3 minutes after they are in the oven.
  • If you need to move the baking sheets around in the oven for a more even baking, do so.
  • Once they are done, remove the parchment paper with macarons onto a cool surface, such as a marble countertop. Let cool about 10 minutes.
  • Remove the macaron shells from the parchment paper, by removing the paper from the macaron, instead of the other way around. This ensures that you do not leave any macaron stuck to the paper.
  • Turn the shells upside down and pipe the ganache onto them. Remember the shells are sandwiched cookies, so you want to pipe the ganache only onto half of them.
  • Place in fridge for 24 hours before serving or freeze for later use.
  • If you’re like me, you’ll eat a few before packing them away! 😉
There’s only one thing that really bothers me about macaron making and that’s the amount of refined sugar used in them. While the almonds make this cookie gluten-free, the sugar of course is something that keeps me from eating all of them at once. I have to figure out a way to make them refined-sugar free… that’s my next challenge! Wish me luck!

Orange Blossom Infused Physalis Fruit Tarts, with Chocolate

I first discovered Physalis in Germany; and since then, I usually buy these beautiful little berries as garnish for my dishes or desserts. Recently I had bought them before a trip, and when I got back, they were still looking good. They are usually a bit tart, generally being a prettier sight than all that pleasurable for the palate. However, after more than two weeks, the physalis had ripened to a delicate sweet flavour!  

This of course got me thinking…I had already been wanting to experiment with them.. that I needed a recipe for physalis. I don’t want to keep using them only as decoration. In my quest for a recipe, I’ve learned that the physalis can stay fresh for months in a dry atmosphere (that’s why mine are still good!). Best of all yet, for those of us living in the UK, they are cultivated in England, so that keeps the prices more reasonable. 

The fruit is originally from South America and parts of Asia and is rich in vitamins A, C, phosphorus and iron, as well as alkaloids and flavonoids. It purifies the blood, strengthens the immune system, relieves sore throats and helps reduce cholesterol. The native population of the Amazon use the fruits, leaves and roots in the fight against diabetes, rheumatism, skin, bladder, kidney and liver. Recent studies seem to be showing that it is an effective immune stimulant and can be used to combat certain types of cancer. For more information, check the Rainforest Database

I actually decided upon two different recipes to make with the physalis, one savory and one sweet. I’m sharing the sweet one here, which by the way is gluten-free and sugar-free! I made it with the physalis and other fruit I had on hand, but you can make it with about any fruit you like. 


Orange Blossom Infused Physalis Fruit Tarts, with Chocolate (makes 9 cupcake holders)

Ingredients
For Crust

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • olive oil, optional (I used 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 small cayenne pepper
Preheat oven, on fan, to 180C. In a blender, pluse all ingredients together until the nuts are ground and you have a sticky paste. Put into bottom of your molds and press firmly covering about 1cm of the bottom, depending on the size of your molds. (I used a cupcake holder, as I don’t have tart pans…note to self: buy tart pans! 😉

Bake in oven for 3 minutes. Set aside and cool. 
For Tart
  • 200g of coconut pulp
  • 2 medium bananas, fairly ripe
  • 1 1/3 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 8 physalis
  • 12 strawberries
  • 12 dates, pitted
  • 2 teaspoons of orange blossom water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 package of gelatin, about 12g, dissolved in 6 tablespoons of water or you can use some of the orange juice
  • 4-5 squares of dark cooking chocolate, for garnish
  • physalis or other fruit for garnish

Process
In a blender, pulse the dates until ground into fine pieces. Add all of the ingredients, except the gelatin. Pulse, until all is well blended. Add the gelatin and mix. (I do not have a sweet tooth, so if you would like the tarts a bit sweeter, simply add more dates or some honey.)

Pour into the molds that have been previously prepared with the crust. Chill overnight. 

For the garnish: melt the chocolate in a small bowl au bain marie. Cool slightly and pour into piping bag (snip off end). Drizzle onto the tarts. Then top each tart with a chocolate dipped physalis or garnish with other fruit. Chill again about 20 minutes before serving for the chocolate to harden. 

Chocolate Pasta with Prune & Apricot Chicken

Gut & Gerne Schokolade Shop, Duesseldorf
Last week, I was in Duesseldorf, Germany, for the day and as I was walking around the Altstadt (old city), near the Rathaus (city hall), I stumbled across a quaint little chocolate shop. What caught my attention initially was the window dressing: a chocolate fondue pot pouring over with mouth-watering, melted chocolate and a bunch of packages of chocolate noodles! Yes, chocolate noodles!
I had never heard of them or seen them before (after 4 years of living in Germany and previous visits to this city), but apparently they are well-known in Germany. And of course, I couldn’t resist the temptation, as you can imagine… so I entered.
The Gut & Gerne Schokolade shop, on Burgplatz 3-5, is a true delight for any chocolate lover. It’s offers an assortment of chocolates for drinking, baking, and cooking, pralines, truffles, liquors… anything chocolate, they have it… and of course, the chocolate pasta, which intrigued me so much. They also have a cafe attached to the shop and offer chocolate seminars. So cool! After a good perusal, I decided I just had to take a package of pasta home with me.
Even the packaging is inviting, don’t you think?
So, I’ve been home a week and hadn’t touched the pasta, because I refused to make a sweet dish out of it. The package comes with a recipe for “caramelised chocolate noodles” involving sour cherries and vanilla ice cream. And I’m thinking of making some with a vanilla sauce, so typical of German desserts. But not yet.
Last night, I was inspired by a recipe I was reading for chocolate-prune cake. Now that sounded like a good pairing to me. So, here’s the recipe below for prune and apricot chicken, paired with chocolate pasta.
Prune & Apricot Chicken, with Chocolate Noodles
Ingredients, for two persons
  • 250 g of chocolate noodles (I used half the package I purchased)
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • olive oil
  • 500 g of chicken breasts, cut into squares
  • fine cornflour (I use Maizena brand – cornflour is gluten-free, by the way)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 12 prunes (cut in half if they are large)
  • 12 dried apricots (cut in half if they are large)
  • 2 tablespoons of pickled baby onions
  • 100 ml of red wine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or a 1/2 a vanilla pod can be used, be sure to take it out before serving)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon powder
  • soy sauce
  • olive oil
  • chicken broth
  • table salt
  • fresh ground pepper
Process
In a pasta pot, bring water to a boil, with a tablespoon of cocoa powder and a dash of olive oil. Add pasta and cook, 9-10 minutes. When pasta is al dente, remove from heat and drain.
In the meantime, clean and cut the chicken in squares. Season with salt and pepper. Roll in cornflour, and shake off excess.
In a wok or skillet, add 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil and heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken pieces and saute until golden brown. Add the carrots and saute an additional 2 minutes.
Add the red wine and reduce. Add a dash of soy sauce, and enough chicken broth to slightly cover the chicken. Add vanilla, cinnamon, prunes, apricots and pickled onions.
Simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the chicken is tender and the sauce is thick.
Guten Appetit!

*Note: we were slightly disappointed by the lack of intense chocolate flavour of the pasta, which we expected. I generally accompany the Prune & Apricot Chicken with couscous or quinoa.

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