Tag Archives: chocolate

Banana Brownies

When you have too many bananas there’s only so much you can do.  Banana bread is the usual staple bake. It’s simple and cost effective.  And quick.  But this time I wanted to add more than the usual handful of chocolate drops into the mixture.  So I came up with this, equally easy,  but slightly more decadent recipe.

Bananas are the staple fruit of most households, and athletes.  when we go any major orienteering event there must be hundreds upon hundreds of bananas consumed. Bananas are an excellent source of potassium and vitamin B6, fibre and carbohydrate, and supply some vitamin C. Since they have a lower water content than most fruit, bananas typically have more calories as well as a higher sugar content compared to other non-tropical fruits. This is good for those, like me, who will, no doubt be out on a mountain for quite some time!

Bananas are soothing to the digestion due to their high content of pectin – as soluble fibre that not only lowers cholesterol but normalises bowel function. The high fibre content of bananas helps you to feel full, another bonus if you will not see food again for some time.  No point being distracted from your running by a grumbling tummy!

The resistant starch in bananas also has a prebiotic effect, helping to keep gut bacteria happy by increasing the production of short chain fatty acids for digestive health. And you all by now know my obsession with healthy gut bacteria!

Banana Brownies

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My obsession with Pistachios continues….

I don’t really like nuts. In actual fact if I order a dessert and arrives with nuts (ALWAYS happens if you order a brownie), more often than not there’s an undeclared nut in it. Saying that, I have always eaten pistachios.  My poor Dad use to crunch his way down the drive if I had dropped any shells. This recipe ticks alot of boxes for me.

Chocolate √

Pistachios √

Smoked Salt √

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Pistachios, I fear, like pinenuts are going to be a thing of the past at some stage due to climate change. So maybe this recipe will have to change for the next generation. Makes me just a little sad. More than a little sad if the truth be told.

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My Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe

“Let’s face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot

for a lot of people; it does for me.”

~Audrey Hepburn

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My Chewy Chocolate Cookie Recipe

Even though everyone is probably sweeted out in January. A nice dark chocolate, Soft and Chewy, goes down very well with a nice coffee.

These are simple to make, and keep either cooked and frozen, or un-cooked and frozen.  Everybody needs a good cookie recipe in their repertoire.

The secret is the best quality chocolate and some leftover Christmas chocolate that noone really thinks they could/should eat.

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Chocolate and Beetroot Loaf Cake- Just Mix it

My Father in law was going away recently and gave me some items from his fridge to use up. There were three cooked and peeled bulbs of beetroot in a bowl. Hmm I said. Salad? nah. Cake? Yes! And I’m not a fan of the hiding vegetables-in-cake brigade, as

a) My family EAT vegetables

b) I’m hesitant about the nutritional value of the said vegetable post bake

Anyway, in this case the beetroot needed using, so chocolate cake ensued. Beetroot is almost always organically grown as it is resistant to most pests. Good News.  But grows best in cooler climes, so with the onset of climate change definitely starting to affect us here… Bad News.

9/365 Beetroot

Chocolate and Beetroot Loaf Cake

Ingredients:

150g of cooked beetroot (simply boil in it’s scrubbed skin until soft, then peel)

140g plain white flour

1 rounded teaspoon of baking powder

60g good quality cocoa powder

150g caster sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

140g sunflower oil

50g dark chocolate, chopped

Method:

Heat your oven to 170oC.  Grease a good quality loaf tin, and line with baking paper, bringing it well up the sides. Unusually I am using my Kenwood food processor, that I normally wouldn’t DREAM of making cakes in.  (and yes, since you’re asking I dream about making cakes ALL the time)
Beetroot Cake

Anyway, I digress.  “Blend” the beetroot until like little grated chunks. Add the flour, baking powder, sugar, vanilla, eggs and cocoa.  Blend again slowly then add the oil down through the chute until you get a nice sloppy cake consistency.  You may need to scoot around the sides with a spatula to make sure everything is nicely blended.

Pour/ scoop into the prepared tin and sprinkle the chopped chocolate on top.

Beetroot Cake

Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 40 minutes or until the skewer comes out almost clean.  Leave in the tin to cool down completely.

This is a rich, dense cake that lends itself to be eaten with some softly whipped cream. And no, you don’t taste the beetroot.
Beetroot Cake

 

Gluten Free Chocolate Brownies Recipe

Chocolate anything is hard to beat. And I find that making something gluten free with chocolate always garners high praise as so often the commercially prepared gluten free confectionery is not very tasty, and often dry. It seems to be a love it or hate it type of food.  Many like to eat gluten free although they are not diagnosed as coeliac.  I like balance in my diet (yeah yeah I know- a chocolate cake in each hand), but I recognise the need to offer the choice.  Hence these brownies.

The ground almonds are added to help with the structure but are good retainers of moistness in a cake.  And as brownies are typically gooey, they work very well here. If I was substituting ground almonds for flour in a recipe with a raising agent, I would increase the amount of baking powder used, and really the almonds don’t work well in produce using yeast.  Biscuits are a good gluten free treat also, as there is no need for a raising agent, and there are many flours suitable for coeliacs.  I personally like to keep my ingredients as natural as possible, so stay away from the mixes as much as possible.  Buckwheat would be my flour of choice in this case.

Gluten Free Chocolate Brownies

Gluten Free Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients:

225g dark chocolate, chopped

225g butter

1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

225g caster sugar

3 eggs

200g ground almonds

50g white chocolate, chopped

Method:

Pre heat the oven to 180oC.  Melt the chocolate and butter gently in a heavy bottomed pan.  Whisk in the vanilla and the sugar.  Whisk in the eggs, then the ground almonds.  Leave aside while you line a tin. about 25cm square, or equivalent.

Tiramisu
Add the white chocolate bits and immediately pour into the tin. Here I’ve added a mix of white and dark chocolate drops. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes.  It will still be wobbly in the middle. Leave to cool in the tin before dusting with icing sugar and cutting into squares. You don’t even have to mention “Gluten Free Chocolate Brownies”, Brownies will suffice, a little like Madonna really.

Divine.

Gluten Free Chocolate Brownie

 

Tiramisu- My “secret” recipe

Who doesn’t love Tiramisu? Even people who don’t like coffee like tiramisu.  Regular readers will have seen my tiramisu cake, which is VERY popular and velvety smooth to have as a dessert at the end of a meal. And although it takes a little while to make, it’s very simple.

Tiramisu

The essential ingredients- good coffee and cocoa powder

My Tiramisu Recipe 
Ingredients:
For the sponge
4 large eggs
100g caster sugar
100g self raising flour
30g cocoa powder
For the filling
1 tablespoon instant coffee (Fine granules)
150ml boiling water
50ml tia maria
3 x 250g mascarpone cheese
300ml cream
3 tablespoons icing sugar
65g grated dark chocolate
For the decoration
100g finely chopped dark chocolate
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Method:
Preheat the oven to 180oC. Grease a Swiss roll tin and line with baking paper, or line two round 7” tins.
For the sponge, place the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and whisk together for about five minutes, or until the mixture is very pale and thick. Sift over the flour and cocoa and fold in gently using a metal spoon or spatula.

Tiramisu

Mixing the flour and cocoa in….

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin (tins) and tilt the tin to level the surface.
Bake for 20 minutes, until cooked. Cool in the tin for five minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
For the filling, dissolve the coffee in the boiling water and add the tia maria. Set aside to cool. Brush the tops of each cake with the alcohol/ coffee mixture. Wrap sponges in clingfilm until ready to ice.
Place the mascarpone cheese in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Gradually beat in the cream and icing sugar. Decide on your serving dish, what you make the dessert in, is what you will put on the table so choose carefully.  Add broken bits of the cake to the dish, then spread 1/2 of the mascarpone icing over the soaked sponge.

Tiramisu
Scatter over 1/2 of the grated chocolate.
Place the second sponge on top in pieces if you have to to make it fit (you won’t see this as it chills), spoon over the rest of the coffee mixture then spread more of the icing over the soaked sponge. Spread the rest of the icing in a thicker layer over the top layer. Chill for at least two hours in the fridge before final decoration- of- you guessed it- more grated chocolate! Divine!
Tiramisu

Blood Orange & Ricotta Pancakes with Dark Chocolate Sauce

Not only are you probably all sick of pancakes, you are also a little fed up of my current blood orange obsession.  Well fear not, this is the last blood orange hurrah…. and these pancakes are SO totally worth it.  With, or without the chocolate sauce.

Blood Orange & Ricotta Pancakes with Dark Chocolate Sauce

Ingredients
FOR THE PANCAKES:
250g ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon blood orange zest
2 tablespoon blood orange juice
120g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
FOR THE SAUCE:
200g chopped chocolate
2 tablespoons blood orange juice
1 teaspoon blood orange zest
20g butter
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
To serve: Some chilled mascarpone cheese combined with 2 tablespoons of icing sugar
Method
To make the sauce: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, place over a pan of simmering water, stirring frequently until the chocolate is melted and looking smooth. Turn off the heat but leave over the pan of water so it doesn’t thicken too much while you are making the pancakes.

Ricotta Pancakes

The Pancake Batter

In a large bowl, whisk together ricotta, sugar, eggs, orange zest and juice. Add flour and baking powder and stir until well combined.
Heat a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Add a little bit of butter to melt.

Ricotta Pancakes

Frying the batter

Ladle batter into the pan and cook pancakes until edges are beginning to crisp, about 5 minutes. Flip pancakes and cook an additional 3-4 minutes.

Ricotta Pancakes

Chocolate Sauce with Mascarpone Cream

Serve pancakes topped with warm chocolate sauce.

Ricotta Pancakes

Ricotta Pancakes

Divine!

 

The Easiest Meringue Recipe in the world

People are often afraid of making meringue.  I find it a super dessert to make in advance.  A good friend of mine, Emily, had told me about a Rachel Allen recipe that basically just flung everything together and whisked the bejasus out of it. And I often make meringue the “meringue girls” way too.  But this recipe is specifically for pavlova.  And works every time.

MeringueI always use my stainless steel kenwood bowl for this job.  I’ve never made it by hand but can’t imagine it would be easy, unless you’ve popeye arms. Meringue

The secret is to put everything in the bowl, with some hot water, I think the hot water is almost the equivalent to making meringue the Italian way. Then it’s whipped on high for 5 minutes until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are holding their shape.
MeringueI simply spread this onto a large, lined baking tray and spread into some sort of shape. If I’m making a large one I’ll make it square as it’s easier to portion, but this was just the usual family dinner, so I made a circle (ish)   Meringue
The other secret is the oven setting.  Although Rachel says you can use a fan oven, this recipe works best I feel when using the conventional one, as she suggests.  You simply heat the oven, on conventional, to 2000C, then simply switch it off when you put the tray into the oven to bake.  This means that you can make it last thing at night and simply walk away.  Mind you, be careful not to come down in the morning to turn the oven on again before taking the masterpiece out!

MeringueThe last thing to add is the topping.  Rachel suggests Mango and crystallised ginger.  I don’t always have a ripe mango to hand- who does?- so I go with a mixture of what fruit I have in the fridge.  And as this was a special dessert, I melted some chocolate to spoon over the assembled dish. Meringue

Buckwheat Chocolate Biscuit Recipe

When I was in LitFest, I helped out with the Claire Ptak demo, her of The Violet Cakes Fame.  She bakes will real fiinesse.  One of the recipes I had to cook of hers was for a chocolate covered digestive biscuit made from dark rye flour.  I decided to make these for guests as a treat with a cuppa, and gluten free was the order of the day.

As I mentioned the original recipe uses rye flour, and I simply swapped this for buckwheat flour. Buckwheat isn’t actually wheat based at all. It is not commonly used in Ireland, but very common on the continent. With baking, the gluten is the key to light and fluffy textured end product, but you don’t essentially want that texture in a biscuit.  So we were already on a winner.

It’s high in fibre, and as it is not very processed also retains it’s mineral and vitamin content. It’s not a grass but related to sorrel and rhubarb! First cultivated in Asia in 6000BC, it does not do well in nitrogen rich soil, which is possibly why it’s cultivation died out. As more and more farmers added fertilizers to their ground.

Buckwheat Biscuits

Buckwheat Biscuits

Once the dough is made, it gets rolled straight away, cut into digestive sized biscuits. I used the thin end of a chopstick to get the obligatory holes.  Claire had been very specific about this, and it really finishes the biscuits off properly.

The next essential stage is to chill the biscuits, for a minimum of 30 minutes in the fridge. And longer if you can.  I was under a little bit of time pressure so they puffed up a little while cooking but not enough to affect the flavour!

When they’ve cooled on the tray for 10 minutes, remove to a wire rack and melt some chocolate.  I dipped the cooled biscuits in this, by tilting the bowl and dipping half the biscuit in.  I thought at this stage to put them back on the prepared tin, as I didn’t want the drying chocolate to meld onto the wire rack.  A little sea salt on some finished them off nicely. And if you can wait around long enough for the chocolate to dry- be my guest.  We couldn’t. 

Buckwheat Biscuits