Archive of ‘Desserts’ category

Gluten-free chocolate almond torte

One of my friends had a Christmas lunch this week (the benefits of having a public holiday the week before Christmas) and my contribution was gluten-free chocolate almond torte. I am not sure why I have never posted this torte, as this is my go to recipe. If I am asked to bring a dessert and I want wow factor then this is it! This is probably the first gluten-free torte/cake that I made and I have absolutely no idea where I saw the original recipe. I apologise to whoever you are, but I thank you!

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Ingredients

  • 200 grams butter
  • 180 grams dark chocolate
  • 4 eggs separated
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (sifted)
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
  • ½ cup boiling water

Directions

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease and line a 22cm round spring form cake tin.

Place instant coffee and water in a jug and stir to dissolve.

Melt butter, chocolate, cocoa power and coffee in a saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until melted abut 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool slightly.

Beat eggs yolks and sugar with an electric mixer until thick (about 5 minutes).

Beat eggs whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.

Add chocolate mixture and almond flour to the egg yolk mixture and stir to combine.

Using a metal spoon, gently fold in half of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Add the rest of the egg whites.

Pour into prepared tin. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Cool completely in pan. Dust with extra cocoa powder.

I always serve with berries but some cream would not go amiss here either.

The centre of this has a delightfully rich, fudgy texture. I have been known to add a chocolate glaze, but only serve that to committed chocolate lovers as is possibly a little over the top. People do not realise that this is a gluten-free recipe, and it goes down extremely well and rather quickly! It did beat out the Pavlova and homemade ice cream as favourite dessert at lunch… not that I am competitive at all when it comes to baking of course!

 

 

 

 

Gluten-free double chocolate brownies

So episode two of the South African Bake Off has passed and this week’s inspiration is the tray bake, which to me means brownies. Not sure if I would attempt a wildlife scene or spaza shop made entirely with gluten free biscuits (and to be honest, plain biscuits are not really my thing). And brandy snaps… well never eaten one. So the tray bake it is, enter page 105 of “Flourless” and gluten-free double chocolate brownies.

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Ingredients (makes 16 brownies)

  • 140 grams semi-sweet chocolate
  • ½ cup/155 grams unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1¼ cups/250grams light or dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup/50 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions

Heat oven to 180 degrees. Line a 20-by-20-cm square tin with foil, then lightly grease the foil with vegetable oil.

In a heatproof bowl set over simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl; add the brown sugar, eggs, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla. Stir well to combine.

Spread the batter in the pan, smooth with a rubber spatula.

Bake until the brownies are dry on top and almost firm to the touch, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 1 hour.

Gently lift the foil out from the pan after cooling to remove the brownies. Place on a cutting board and refrigerate for up to 1 hour to fully set the brownies. Remove from the fridge and, using a serrated knife, cut into 16 brownies. Serve at room temperature.

The note with the recipe says to let the brownies sit after baking, even overnight, as the longer they sit the firmer they become. After a little nibbling after one hour (I have little restraint when it comes to such matters), two hours and then overnight, I must concur that they do need to be left to rest for quite a while as they become a great deal easier to cut. These brownies are rather decadent, very fudgy, very rich, but very worth it.

(Following each week’s episode of the Great South African Bake Off, I am making a recipe from the fab recipe book “Flourless” by Nicole Spiridakis, inspired by one of the tasks the bakers are set. The next episode focuses on meringue bakes which means macarons #challenge).

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Martha Stewart’s gluten-free chocolate torte

I seem to have a growing obsession with Martha Stewart, not quite as consuming as the Great British Bake Off but growing none the less! In the midst of my torte quest I came across a Martha Stewart gluten-free chocolate torte recipe, and I thought if it is good enough for Martha then it is good enough for me. The directions may seem long, and this recipe has the added twist of cooking in a bain-marie, but it is worth it in the end. The original recipe includes peppermint extract which I have excluded as I am not a huge fan, but you can find the original recipe here.

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Ingredients

  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (around 226 grams)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (8 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, for dusting
  • Freshly whipped cream, for serving (optional)

Directions

Set a roasting pan on lowest rack of oven. Fill pan halfway with water. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Coat a 9-by-4 1/4-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Cut parchment paper large enough to cover bottom and to hang over long sides of loaf pan. Place in loaf pan; coat with cooking spray.

Put chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Heat, stirring, until melted. Remove from heat; let cool slightly.

Put heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl; set aside.

Put eggs and sugar in the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on medium-high speed until tripled in volume, 3 to 4 minutes. Gently fold half of the chocolate mixture into egg mixture until almost incorporated; fold in remaining chocolate mixture. Fold in reserved whipped cream. Reduce oven temperature to 160 degrees. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Set loaf pan in roasting pan. Bake until chocolate loses its sheen and appears set when loaf pan is jiggled, about 25 minutes.

Carefully transfer roasting pan to a heatproof surface. Remove loaf pan from water bath; let cool completely on a rack.

Pulling up on parchment, remove torte from pan; transfer to a baking sheet. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Using an offset spatula, gently loosen torte from parchment and then invert onto a serving platter. Torte can be made up to two days in advance.

Using a sieve, lightly dust torte with cocoa. Serve with whipped cream if desired. I also served this with some strawberries and blackberries.

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The recipe does say this serves 8, but with my chocolate loving friends it would not quite have stretched to 8, possibly 6. I would have needed to bake 2, and the teeny size of my original 70’s gas oven meant I could not fit a bain-marie large enough for 2 loaf tins, so it became more of a taste test for 2. The verdict – this does have a very light and moist texture and therefore does not come across as overly rich. I kept this in the fridge for 2 days and it was just as delicious as on baking day.

 

 

Basic gluten-free torte

I think I am about to begin a quest for the best gluten-free torte, inspired by The Great British Bake Off. For unknown reasons DSTV is showing series 3 and the masterclass of series 5 at the same time… oh well one can never have too much of Paul Hollywood! Series 3 episode 5 had a challenge on tortes and I thought aha! My interest was peaked by the med student James Morton who made a gluten-free chocolate and passion fruit torte. Trying to find this recipe was a slightly arduous task, and I ended up buying Morton’s book “How Baking Works”on google books as this was the only way to get my hands on it ( but I did not buy his first book “Brilliant Bread” for obvious reasons). This is actually a great book as he explains in detail what to do and why. Before I even got to the chocolate and passion fruit there was a basic gluten-free torte recipe which seemed to be a good place to start. Hence begins the quest for the gluten-free torte!

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Ingredients

  • 3 medium eggs
  • 140 grams castor sugar
  • 180 grams ground almonds (or any ground nuts of your choice)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Flaked nuts
  • 250 ml cream and mixed berrries for decorating

Directions

Line the bottom of a 23 cm spring form cake tin with baking paper. Grease the sides heavily with butter.

(Greasing and lining is important as tortes can easily stick).

Separate the eggs.

Whisk the eggs whites until stiff. Then add two tablespoons of sugar and whisk for another few minutes until glossy and smooth.

Whisk the egg yolks and the remaining sugar until at least doubled in size and significanly lighter in colour (add the sugar gradually and not all at once).

Add the almonds and salt to the egg yolks and fold together slowly. Make sure the mixture is combined completely.

Add about a third of the whites to the yolk mixture and mix to combine. Then add the rest and fold them in very gently with a metal spoon. Transfer to your lined tin and scatter with flaked or whole nuts.

Preheat overn to 170 degrees and bake for 20-25 minutes. Bake until a light golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.

I added whipped cream, some mixed berries and grated white chocolate just to give some oomph. The edges take on a rather delicious almost meringue texture, and I must say despite the lack of my essential dark chocolate I would definitely make this again. It looks extremely pretty and reminds me of a British Summer – anyone for Pimms?

And for the record what exactly is a torte? There are various definitions all roughly covering the same points – a rich cake, especially one containing little or no flour, usually made with eggs and ground nuts or bread crumbs. It is not automatically gluten-free, so never presume in a restaurant, and always ask!

 

 

Gluten-free chocolate mousse cake

We recently spent the weekend with friends at the Vaal. Such a tranquil spot and almost immediately after arriving one starts to feel relaxed (maybe it’s the sunset cruise with obligatory drink in hand). I was tasked with dessert (something transportable, easy to assemble, chocolate of course). I came across this chocolate mousse cake with figs – easy to adapt to gluten-free and looks rather impressive at the same time. I took the recipe from For the Love of Baking by Sarah Dall. Enter the gluten-free chocolate mousse cake. Apologies for the quick photo taken below.

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Ingredients

  • 50 grams crushed hazelnuts
  • 200 grams dark chocolate digestive biscuits
  • 45 ml butter
  • 15 ml golden syrup
  • 4 jumbo eggs
  • 275 grams dark chocolate
  • 75 ml cream
  • 40 grams castor sugar

Directions

Lightly grease and line the base of a 25cm spring form cake pan.

Toast the crushed hazelnuts in a frying pan over medium heat, turning the nuts frequently and being careful not to burn them.

Crush the biscuits in a food processor. Melt the butter and golden syrup together in a small saucepan over a low heat, then stir in the biscuits and nuts. Press the biscuit mixture over the base of the cake pan and refrigerate until needed.

Separate the eggs. Melt the chocolate and cream together in a glass bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Stir briefly to combine, and leave to cool slightly. Mix in the egg yolks.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until thick, then add the sugar and beat until stiff and glossy. Using a metal spoon, fold the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture. Spoon this on top of the biscuit base and refrigerate overnight.

Decorate the cake with fresh figs (in season) and serve with whipped cream.

This dessert is rich and decadent and is not for the faint hearted. I am generally pretty hardcore when it comes to desserts, but even I thought wow could I eat another slice of this right now (yes ok maybe I would have!). But it is good, and a fellow uber chocolate lover made sure that there was nothing left which always makes me think job well done.

A few shots from the Vaal

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And how beautiful it looks in Summer

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Gluten-free hazelnut cake

Fresh Earth is one of the best places to spend some time milling around on a Saturday. They have a range of local and imported gluten-free products, plus they produce their own gluten-free bread, cakes and biscuits in their gluten-free bakery. They also have a restaurant with a gluten-free and vegetarian menu. And Fresh Earth is one of the few places I trust to produce 100% gluten-free. This gluten-free hazelnut cake is one of their recipes – find the original here.

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Ingredients

  • 35 grams cacao powder
  • 80ml hot water
  • 150 grams dark eating chocolate, melted
  • 150 grams butter, melted
  • 295 grams brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 100 grams hazelnuts, finely ground
  • 4 organic eggs, separated
  • 25 grams cacao powder, extra

Directions

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Grease a deep 20cm round cake tine and line with baking paper.

Blend cacao powder with water in a large bowl until smooth.

Stir in melted chocolate, butter, sugar, egg yolks.

Beat egg whites in a separate bowl until at soft peak stage.

Fold into chocolate mixture in two batches.

Pour mixture into cake tin and bake for one hour.

Dust with extra cacao powder. Serve with cream or ice cream and fresh gooseberries, or use what fruit takes your fancy!

Visit Fresh Earth at 103 Komatie Road, Emmarentia, JHB.

Chocolate avocado mousse

There are a quite a lot of recipes bouncing around at the moment for chocolate avocado mousse. All the taste but a vegetarian healthier option. And it’s gluten-free. Chocolate and avocado does sound like a slight odd mix, but after having an avocado shake in a Vietnamese restaurant in Shanghai (as one does), I was up for the challenge of using avocado in its non-traditional form. I found this recipe here. And the shake? Well it was pretty good.

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Ingredients

  • Flesh of 2 firm ripe avocado, chopped
  • 125 gram dark chocolate broken into pieces (good quality high % cocoa) *for dairy free, ensure you use dairy-free chocolate
  • 3 tablespoons runny honey
  • 1/3 cup coconut cream

Directions

Melt chocolate in a double boiler: place chocolate in a glass bowl to melt over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl or else it will risk the chocolate burning or becoming grainy) and stir with a wooden spoon occasionally, until chocolate has melted.

Puree avocado, coconut cream, honey and melted chocolate together until smooth. Spoon into serving glasses and chill in fridge for 1 hour, or until ready to serve.

Serve garnished with chocolate shavings and berries as desired.

This is not the sexiest dessert to make. Melting chocolate and butter together is sexy. Avocado and coconut cream in a processor not so sexy! But this recipe is simple and easy to put together with a quick chill time. The ingredients only made enough for the 2 small glasses in the picture so you would need quite a quantity of avocado to make enough when having people round for dinner. So the verdict? It tastes like a chocolate pudding, is quite rich and it does work. If you (like me) choose your “once in a blue moon treat” dessert to be deliciously sinful then save yourself for the good stuff. But if you are looking for something to satisfy that sweet tooth that does not come with a run round the block, then this is the way to go, plus the health benefits that come with the avocado and no dairy make this a very virtuous dessert. So you can have your pudding and eat it!

 

 

 

 

Gluten-free chocolate cupcake (#1)

So the quest for the gluten-free chocolate cupcake in Johannesburg has its first nomination. Whilst at Belle’s Patisserie in the Bluebird Centre for a work function, I discovered the “Skinny Menu” with gluten-free, sugar free and vegetarian options. So what’s gluten-free on the menu? Red Velvet Cupcake, Fran’s Cheesecake, Hemp Brownie and Paleo Poppie Loaf.  In the interests of fair investigation I tried the cupcake (although they had chocolate not red velvet), the cheesecake and the brownie. Tough job but someone had to do it. Let’s be clear though, I did share. They also have savoury options (in fact, most of the menu is gluten-free) from crustless quiche to cauliflower wraps – see the full Skinny Menu here.

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The cupcakes are made from coconut flour and are very moist… but I am I think still getting used to eating coconut flour. Or maybe the icing threw me off slightly – is sugar free and I think made from coconut cream which gives it a different taste and texture… rich but different. So I give this cupcake a 7/10. Is good but not decadent. You don’t feel like you have to run round the block after eating, which I suppose is the reason behind creating a Skinny Menu in the first place. But nice to know it’s there when you just feel the need to cheat but be skinny at the same time!

Belle’s Patisserie also has gluten-free Paleo bread which they serve for breakfast as part of their Skinny Menu. I tried this with some of the snacks they had provided for our event and was very very moreish!

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So moreish in fact I bought a loaf. Unfortunately I cannot eat large quantities of this as the nut butter can get to me (main ingredients almond nut butter and egg yolks; also made with almond milk, coconut flour, honey, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds). But if you do not have issues with eggs or nut butters then this is the bread for you! You need to phone ahead and order if you want to buy a loaf as is very popular.

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Visit Belle’s Patisserie website http://www.bellespatisserie.co.za or find them at Shop 16, Blubird Shopping Centre, Corner Athol Oaklands Road, Birnam, Johannesburg

Gluten-free rocky road

Recently I was watching an episode of Billl’s Kitchen: Notting Hill (Bill Granger) when I became mesmerized as he made Rocky Road. I have never made Rocky Road or really eaten it, but watching chocolate and butter slowly melt with some maple syrup thrown in for good measure was motivation enough for me to start! I have not been able to find Bill’s exact recipe so I have taken bits from recipes online (there are many) and modified to suit my tastes to make gluten-free rocky road.

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 Ingredients

  • 176 grams chocolate – I only use dark chocolate
  • 100 grams unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 50 gram marshmallows (I use gluten-free marshmallows*)
  • 100 g biscuits – I use Schar Maria Biscuits*
  • 50 grams nuts and dried cranberries

Directions

Melt chocolate, butter and maple syrup in a double boiler. Try not to eat it all at this point as is rather good.

Break up biscuits into small pieces. Cut up marshmallows into bite size pieces.Mix biscuits, marshmallows, nuts and cranberries in a bowl. Pour over the chocolate and mix well. A hint I picked up from Bill Granger was to keep some of the chocolate back at this point.

Line a square baking tray with grease proof paper and pour in your mixture gently pushing it down and to the sides. Then pour over the chocolate you have kept in reserve.

Refrigerate. Once set cut into squares and enjoy. How easy is this?

I do eyeball the amount of cranberries and nuts I use and see what looks right, you can of course leave out the cranberries but I think they bring a great splash of colour. Originally I used 125 grams of biscuits but I felt that was a little too much for this ratio of chocolate and dropped it down to 100 grams.

I have made this now three times for work and I even take requests now for this as a birthday gift, so this seems to be something that everyone is keen to enjoy. Great rewards for not much effort – and it contains nuts and fruit so cannot be all bad!

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* Purchased at Dischem

Gluten-free coconut flour brownies

As promised I have begun to bake my way through the pile of gluten-free cookbooks I seemed to have acquired over the past few months. I have a soft spot for chocolate (maybe you had noticed) and so I had to begin with brownies. Enter gluten-free coconut flour brownies.

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Ingredients

  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 large eggs
  • ¾ cup maple syrup or honey
  • 76g unsalted butter melted, ghee or coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk or other milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 180 Celsius.
Grease a 20 x 20 x 5 cm baking pan, or line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the sides.
Whisk together the coconut flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl mix together the eggs, maple syrup, butter, milk and vanilla.
Add the cocoa mixture to the egg mixture and blend well using a mixer or food processor. Let the batter sit for a few minutes and mix once more.
Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Don’t over bake – brownies are always better a bit moister than dryer.

Now… I have baked my fair share of gluten-free chocolate goodies, but with this recipe I am not 100% convinced. Not sure if it is the coconut flour or the cocoa…. either way I would not kill for these brownies. Jamie Oliver chocolate pots I would kill for. Gluten-free chocolate torte I would kill for. These do not have quite the chocolate intensity or fudgy richness that makes the “moment on the lips lifetime on the hips” worth it.

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I took this recipe from the healthy coconut flour cookbook with “more than 100 grain-free, gluten-free, paleo friendly recipes for every occasion”. Often my flour of choice for baking is almond flour. Coconut flour is a much lower calorie option than almond flour (but then I think to myself I am not consuming almond flour every day). Almond flour also has a rather high omega 6 to omega 3 ratio and has become a little expensive, so I am open to switching to coconut flour if it tastes just as good. Emphasis on the “if”.

So… let’s give another recipe from this book a chance next week. I won’t write coconut flour off just yet…

 

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