Gluten-free coconut macaroons with chocolate

I have to admit that I am not 100% sure where I found this recipe. I am a habitual recipe scribbler when I come across something that I like, and these gluten-free coconut macaroons fall into that category. The chocolate decoration should probably be a little less Jackson Pollock esque, but hey, whatever you feel like in the moment will work especially when it comes to chocolate!

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Ingredients

  • 6 cups shredded coconut flakes
  • 1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips*
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

In a large bowl, stir together the coconut, condensed milk and vanilla until well combined (this takes some work but keep going until it is completely mixed together).

Use a spoon to scoop out the mixture and form small rounds. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 12 to 18 minutes until the tops are golden brown and the macaroons are crisp.

Allow macaroons to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Melt the chocolate chips and oil together in a double boiler. Drizzle over the cooled macaroons.

*Usually I use “safe” dark chocolate that I chop into small pieces, but for convenience   I used Staffords choc chips as they are marked gluten-free.

 

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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A gluten-free magic pill?

There was a post on Facebook recently regarding scientist Hoon Sunwoo who has researched a supplement for coeliac disease, which could be a gluten-free magic pill . This supplement “sticks to the problematic components of gluten that stir inappropriate reactions in the guts of coeliacs thus reducing the damage that would normally ensure”. The pill would be taken 5 minutes before eating. This is not to be viewed as a treatment or cure for coeliac disease but rather to just make life a little easier sometimes. Next is an efficiency trial so if this actually works it would be available in a few years (overseas I hasten to add). Read the full article here.

But this has really caused me some food for thought. If I could take this pill and eat a meal of my choice what would it be? I have (more when I was younger I admit) tried a nibble here and there of most things. But there is so much that I have never tasted – I have never tried a bagel or churros (churros always looks good being dipped into chocolate sauce), a prego roll, a profiterole, a deep fried something something, baguette, pasta… the list goes on.

I have narrowed it down to two options:

1. To really experience what it tastes like to eat bread, and with that I find myself at a grilled cheese sandwich. A recent post on Eat Out about “The Grilled Cheese Club” (a service in Cape Town that delivers grilled cheese sandwiches) made me realise that I would have to go to Bacon on Bree (a Baconporium, say no more) and order “The Harvey Specter” (ciabatta, bacon, brie, tomato and pesto). This sandwich indeed sounds worthy. Check out the menu here . Alternatively I have often sat at brunch with my bacon and eggs and stared rather longingly at my friends’ Croque Monsieur. Originating in France, this is a toasted cheese and ham sandwich originally topped with béchamel and traditionally made with Gruyere cheese. This sounds as good as it looks. And yes I could try and make my own versions of these, but the point is I want real bread and I want to be able to sit down, order and have someone else make it for me.

2. Pasta. I think pasta is a wonderful invention, and I can buy gluten-free pasta and cook it at home with a sauce I have made, but it’s not quite the same thing as having fresh pasta in an authentic Italian restaurant. And to do this I will need to fly to Italy and have a little Pesto Alla Genovese. The pesto world championships are held in Genoa and this dish originates there, so I will begin in this port city in Northern Italy, and then make my way to Rome for some Fettucine Alfredo and Spaghetti Alla Carbonara.

So if this ever became a reality, I think ultimately budget would dictate which option will triumph!

 

 

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.

Gluten-free roasted courgette hummus

Zucchini, courgette, baby marrow… whichever name you choose I love this little green vegetable. Zucchini comes from the Italian word zucchino, while courgette is the French term. Growing up in the UK the term I recall was baby marrow but they all refer to the same green summer squash. But to the recipe. Now I love hummus, but sometimes I am not able to tolerate legumes, and so I was rather thrilled to find this recipe for Roasted Courgette Hummus. Naturally gluten-free of course.

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Ingredients

  • 500 grams courgettes, cut into chunks
  • Oil for roasting
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ tablespoon ground cumin

Directions

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Toss the courgette in a light coating of oil. Season. Roast until golden brown and soft.

Placed courgette in a food processor along with the remaining ingredients.

Puree until smooth.

Leave to infuse for an hour.

I served this with gluten-free Life Bake Seed Crackers and yes I confess, a small sprinkling of parmesan because it just takes it to another level. I have made this without the tahini and less olive oil and it still tastes great.

This recipe is taken from the Real Meal Revolution, the book made famous Prof by Tim Noakes. I do not follow his diet, nor do I believe there is one diet that fits all. That said I do love a couple of the book’s recipes (noticeably those minus the liberal use of cream and butter). I can tolerate cream and butter in a dessert as a treat, but not in a weeknight’s dinner! As a coeliac also born with lactose intolerance dairy consumption is something I have to manage very carefully, and if I unfortunately do eat some hidden gluten then lactose intolerance kicks in. So no I am not making courgette and garlic gratin with 250ml of cream and 100 grams of butter, but the courgette hummus yes I’ll take that! The origins of hummus seems to be a little murky, the chickpea originating somewhere between the Mediterranean and the Middle East.  It is an Arabic word and so it does seem fitting that the best hummus I have ever ever eaten was in Dubai (it was life changing it was that good). But for now until I can return to the Middle East, I will go with this courgette hummus.

 

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 almond flour muffins

I have done a previous post on gluten-free almond flour muffins. This recipe is that teeny bit simpler and is based on 4 muffins (although I ended up with 6) – an easier number for self-restraint when opposed to 12 muffins! This recipe comes from elanaspantry.com.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond flour (4 ounces)
  • 2 large eggs (4 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Directions

In a medium bowl combine almond flour and baking soda.

In a large bowl combine eggs, honey and vinegar.

Stir dry ingredients into wet until combined.

Scoop into a paper lined muffin pan (I used silicon moulds).

Bake at 180 degrees for 15 minutes until slightly browned around edges.

Cool in the pan for ½ hour.

Serve and enjoy.

Voila! Simple and quick, just what one needs mid-week. I make these when I know I have a busy day out of the office and am not sure when I am going to be able to grab a snack.

 

 

 

Gluten-free honey cake

I was paging through an old issue of Woolworths Taste magazine (issue 94) when I came across a recipe for gluten-free honey cake. The description “to be made when you crave comfort and authentic sweetness” sent me to the kitchen almost immediately!

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Ingredients

  • 180 grams almond flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¾ cup runny honey
  • Whipped honey and mascarpone for serving

Directions

Preheat oven to 170 degrees.

Combine the almond flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon in a bowl.

Mix the eggs, olive oil and honey in a mixer for 2 minutes, or until the mixture is creamy.

Add the almond flour mixture and mix well with a spatula.

Pour mixture into a greased 22 cm silicone cake mould.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out cleanish with a few sticky crumbs still attached.

Serve with whipped honey and mascarpone.

This cake was really scrummy and I admit I was eating it for breakfast (I thought eggs, nuts, honey… why not?) and mascarpone and honey are two of my favourite things together. The definition of whipped honey did cause me some confusion, and googling did not exactly bring clarity. Some sites use the term whipped and creamed honey interchangeably, some argue whipped is not the same as creamed and explain a process to make whipped honey using starter cultures or crystallised honey. So I just used creamed honey. Looks good, tastes good!

 

Out & about @ Kamers – what Zoe ate

Kamers vol geskenke “SA’s pop up treasure trove of handcrafted creativity” was held over the Easter weekend at St. John’s College. Not only have I been attending Kamers for the past 3 years or so, and have now roped in my friend Futhi as my Kamers buddy, but I also attended Sixth Form at St. John’s, so a good excuse to meander around the school while attempting not to buy beautiful things which I want but don’t need… There is a point to this, that in the gluten-free world, it can be extremely difficult to attend such an event and be able to find something to eat… I sometimes avoid a music or food festival (especially if a whole day event) because I know I am not going to find something to eat and then I am hungry and miserable; and carrying around your rice cakes is not as exotic as buying open pizza or Turkish flatbread. Food envy can strike!

But back to Kamers. It was extremely cold and raining so we started at the most logical spot which was the coffee. At the previous Kamers in Pretoria I was able to eat some rather yummy brisket (minus the roll and the sauce). This time amongst the pizzas, wraps, cupcakes and deep fried calamari (and a slightly confused Banting stand) there was no brisket but there was Paella. As a child my family used to travel to Spain twice a year and I have eaten my fair share of this Spanish dish and am quite partial to it – the flavour of saffron is a favourite of mine. There should be no gluten in authentic paella – it is as gluten-free as it gets – unless some dodgy stock is used – but I would not expect that in this situation with what looks like a reputable set-up (but as with most things always ask!). The paella was piping hot and exactly what the Dr ordered as we sat looking out over the rugby fields as a rather cold wind blew.  Happiness.

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Despite the cold we found time for champagne (and once again we forget to return the glasses so we are stockpiling champagne glasses quite nicely at this rate).

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Did I buy anything..? Well a few items of jewellery, a block mounted picture that appealed to my Protea obsession, and some random Oh my Deer cards because they are cool!

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As an aside , when I have visited the Old Biscuit Mill in Cape Town there is always someone selling potato with salmon and a poached egg. Not the easiest to eat standing up but thrilling none the less. Sometimes it’s the small things that are the most memorable…

Visit kamersvol.com for information on the next event.

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