food for thought

by michelle

Archive for the ‘cakes & desserts’ Category

flourless chocolate cake

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This cake has a great chocolate flavour and is fudgy with a satisfyingly chewy crust.

Preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF) or 160ºC (320ºF) for fan-forced. Butter and line a 20cm (8)” spring form pan. Melt 120g (4¼ oz) of butter and 200g (7 oz) of good quality dark chocolate pieces in a microwave, stirring often. Add 165g (5.8 oz) of white sugar, 3 large room temperature eggs and 1 teaspoon of vanilla and whisk well until combined. Finally, with a spoon, fold in ¼ of a cup of cocoa powder, ½ a teaspoon of baking powder and 190g (6¾ oz) of almond meal until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared baking tin and bake for 45 minutes until there is a crust on top and a skewer comes out clean. Cool for at least 10 minutes in the tin before removing to a cake rack.

*recipe from recipetineats

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Written by michelle picker

September 4, 2019 at 11:07 am

Posted in cakes & desserts

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tocinillo de cielo + almond and orange florentines

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My good friend Daniel Aguera introduced me to this traditional Spanish dessert. Although similar to a crème caramel, this rich custard is non-dairy and is made with only eggs, sugar and water. In the early 20th century, the wineries of Jerez de Frontera clarified their wines with egg whites. The left-over egg yolks were donated to the local nuns who created this magnificent dessert. The name translates to something like heaven’s little pig (or bacon).

As Spain is known for its almonds and oranges, these incredibly crunchy and delicious almond and orange florentines from Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi made the perfect accompaniment. 

For the custard I slightly adapted Daniel’s recipe. Preheat your oven to 180ºC (350°F). Combine 100g (3½ oz) sugar and 100ml (3½ fl oz) of water in a small saucepan, cover and cook over medium heat until it becomes a deep amber colour. Keep an eagle eye on this caramel as it can burn. Remove it from the heat and quickly pour into the bottom of your baking dish. I used a rectangular dish and layered the caramel for serving. You can also make this in individual ramekins. In another small saucepan combine 300g (10½ oz) of sugar with 250ml (8½ fl oz) of water. Bring to a boil and cook until sugar reaches 105º – 108ºC (220° – 225°F). If you don’t have a thermometer the cooled syrup should coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Meanwhile separate 8 eggs. In a large bowl, whisk the yolks plus 3 more whole eggs. Whisk in the cooled sugar syrup until well combined. Pour the mixture into the baking dish or ramekins. Place the baking dish into a larger dish and pour hot water into the outside dish making sure the water comes up the sides of the dish or ramekins and no water gets into the custard. Bake for 40-50 minutes until the custard is set. You will still see a slight jiggle in the custard when it is cooked. Carefully remove the custard from water bath and allow to cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. To serve, slide a sharp knife around the edge and invert onto a serving dish.

To make the almond and orange florentines lower your oven temperature to 150°C (300°F). Line an oven tray with baking paper and brush with a little oil. In a bowl combine 2 egg whites, 100g (3½ oz) of confectioners’ sugar, 260g (9¼ oz) of sliced almonds and the grated zest of 1 orange. When the ingredients are well mixed wet your hand and place portions of the mix in little mounds on the lined tray, flattening them a little and making sure they have some space between them. Bake for about 12 minutes or until they are golden brown and cooked through. Allow them to cool completely before removing from the baking tray with a spatula. They will keep for 4-5 days in an air-tight container.

Written by michelle picker

August 14, 2019 at 12:14 am

rhubarb custard cake

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Ruth made this attractive cake for a gathering recently. Lovely and moist and not too sweet with a good tang from the rhubarb. If rhubarb is not in season the cake will work just as well with other fruit.

Preheat your oven to 180ºC. Lightly grease a 20cm round cake tin and line with baking paper. Cook 200g rhubarb with 1 tablespoon of caster sugar until soft and a little jammy. Set aside to cool. In a small saucepan combine 1 tablespoon of custard powder, 2 teaspoons of caster sugar, of a cup of milk and ½ a teaspoon of pure vanilla essence. Stir and cook until the custard is thick. Set aside to cool. Now beat 75g of butter, of a cup of caster sugar and 1 teaspoon of grated orange zest until light and fluffy. Beat in 2 eggs one at a time. Sift together of a cup of self-raising flour and ½ a cup of wholemeal self-raising flour. Now stir the sifted flours and of a cup of milk into the cake mixture until well combined. To assemble the cake spread  of the mixture in the prepared cake tin. Place the rhubarb over the cake mix then add the custard. Top with the remaining cake mix and bake for 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out. When cooled dust with icing sugar and serve with natural yoghurt.

Written by michelle picker

July 24, 2019 at 12:04 am

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salted chocolate cheesecake

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The chocolate content in this recipe makes this more like eating chocolate fudge than cheesecake. It’s very rich but the salt balances the sweetness. If you’re cooking for a large group this is no-bake, can be prepared 2 days ahead and will go a looong way!

To make the crust place a packet of plain sweet biscuits in a food processor, add half the weight of the biscuits in softened butter and process until all the butter is incorporated. Press into a lined 23cm (9″) springform cake tin and set aside in the fridge. For the filling use a stand mixer with a paddle. Combine 1⅓ cups of cream cheese, ¾ of a cup of sour cream, ¼ of a cup of light brown sugar, ¼ of a cup of cocoa powder, 3 tablespoons of softened unsalted butter, 2 teaspoons of vanilla and ½ a teaspoon of kosher salt. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Meanwhile melt 400g (14 oz) of 70% dark chocolate and allow it to cool slightly. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium low, pour in the melted chocolate and mix until combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared crust and chill for at least 30 minutes. Serve sprinkled with flaky sea salt.

*recipe adapted from this one

 

Written by michelle picker

July 3, 2019 at 12:17 am

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banana maple cake

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Not only did I have a surfeit of Maple syrup (thank you Luc) but I also found myself with over-ripe bananas. And here’s the perfect recipe!

Preheat your oven to 170ºC (350ºC) and grease and line a 23cm (9′) springform cake tin. In a food processor blend 4 very ripe, peeled bananas until roughly chopped, then add 75ml (2¾ fl oz) of maple syrup and blend to a smooth paste. Pour in up to 50ml (2fl oz) of milk and blend again to obtain a smoother consistency. In a large bowl beat together 200g (7 oz) of softened butter and 150g (5¼ oz) of caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Add 4 eggs one at a time incorporating each one into the mixture before adding the next. Now add 400g (14 oz) of plain flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, the banana mixture and 75g (2¾ oz) of roughly chopped walnuts. Fold the mixture together until just combined and spoon it into the prepared tin. Bake for approximately 60 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown and a skewer comes out clean. Set the cake aside to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack and allow it to cool completely. Meanwhile bring 200ml (7 fl oz) of double cream and 125ml (4¼ fl oz) of maple syrup to the boil in a saucepan. Boil for 3-5 minutes or until the mixture has thickened slightly then set it aside until completely cooled. Before serving, spread the maple syrup glaze over the top of the cake (allowing it to drizzle down the sides slightly) and decorate with some more walnuts.

*from this recipe

Written by michelle picker

June 12, 2019 at 12:13 am

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sago pudding with coconut and gula melaka

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Sago pearls are little balls made of starch extracted from tropical palm stems. Malaysia and Indonesia have the largest supply in the world so it’s no surprise that it’s popular in the region. Fifi made this wonderful Malaysian sago pudding served with salted coconut sauce and caramelised palm sugar syrup. Yum.

In a large pot bring approximately 2 litres of water to boil and then pour in 400g (14 oz) of sago pearls. Stir constantly while cooking to prevent the pearls from sticking together or to the bottom of the pot. As they cook the water will become thick and starchy and the sago will disappear as it becomes totally translucent. When you can’t see any more white centres the sago is ready. Drain the sago into a large sieve and place it in an even larger bowl. Carefully pour in cold water and stir to remove the excess starch. Pour out the water and repeat – you will have to do this a number of times until the pearls are separate and not surrounded by starchy water. Finally, drain the sago and divide it into small bowls, glasses or cups. Chill for at least 2 hours. Now take a small saucepan and add 500ml (17 fl oz) of thick coconut milk, 1 cup of water, 1 teaspoon of salt and 6 pandan leaves tied together in a knot. Pandan leaves are usually available fresh or frozen from Asian food stores. Stir and cook over low heat to prevent the coconut fat from separating. When you achieve a simmer it’s ready to take off the heat and set aside. To another saucepan add 300g (10½ oz) of roughly chopped palm sugar (gula melaka) and 1 cup of water. Stir and cook until the mixture becomes a slightly thickened syrup. Set aside to cool. The puddings can be served in the bowls you chilled them in or turned out into larger bowls. To serve, pour the coconut over the pudding and top with some of the syrup.

Written by michelle picker

May 22, 2019 at 12:17 am

meringue cake with strawberries

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Cindy made this Mostachon (big moustache), a speciality of Monterey in Mexico. The cake has a deliciously chewy walnut meringue base and a rich cream cheese topping which droops around the edges – hence the name? It’s always served with fruit, in this case it was strawberries.

Preheat oven to 170°C (340ºF). Grease and line the base of a 22cm (9″) springform cake pan. Using an electric mixer, whisk 6 egg whites with a pinch of salt until you have soft peaks. Continue whisking while adding 1⅓ cups of caster sugar, a little at a time until you have stiff peaks. Add 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract and combine. Fold in 150g (5.3 oz) of plain sweet crushed biscuits and ⅓ of a cup of crushed walnuts, then spoon the mixture into the pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and dry to touch. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool completely before adding the topping. To make the topping beat 250g (8.8 oz) of cream cheese for 5 minutes until smooth then beat in 250g (8.8 oz) of sour cream, 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.  Spread this over the cake and top with sliced strawberries.

* from this recipe by Phoebe Wood

 

Written by michelle picker

May 1, 2019 at 12:20 am