quinta-feira, 31 de março de 2016

Chocolate Banana Cake with Chocolate Chips



This cake is a new family favorite. A chocolate banana cake, lactose free, baked with olive oil. I use non extra virgin olive oil, but if you decide to make this cake, which I totally recommend, you can use any type of oil you prefer. You can also add some pieces or chips of chocolate to the dough for an extra chocolate flavor. The secret of this cake however is a mash made of extra ripe bananas which gives this cake sweetness and an amazing texture. The magical powers of bananas.

I also used dark brown sugar, the darkest natural cane sugar we can find, which adds texture and a special flavor to this cake. The result is a dense, humid, chocolaty and fruity cake that is definitely a winner. The dark brown shade of this cake is due to the dutch-processed cocoa which is a process that reduces the natural acidity of the cocoa beans.



The Dutch process is called this way because it was invented by a Dutch chocolate maker in 1840. The process creates an alkalized cocoa, changes the composition and the taste by reducing the acidity and the bitterness natural to cocoa beans. This process unfortunately reduces the amount of antioxidants in the processed cocoa. Dutch processed cocoa powders contain in average 20% of the antioxidants contained in the natural cocoa powder and impedes the organic certification of alkalized cocoa powders. Quite a downside, hum?

Alkalized cocoa is more suitable for certain recipes, but not recommended for others. For example, to make a good hot chocolate at home it is best to use natural unprocessed cocoa which have a more reddish color. Even if the beverage industry used the processed cocoa in liquors and cocoa based drinks. The alkalized cocoa powder is interesting to bake cakes, cookies and pastries because it is less bitter, less acid and has a much more intense color. I used Valrhona, which is a lightly processed cocoa and one of the cocoa brands we used to sell at the store.




Chocolate Banana Cake with Chocolate Chips


3 eggs
125ml (1/2 cup) olive oil
2 DL brown sugar
3DL baking flour
1 DL cocoa powder
3 ripe bananas mashed
1 tablespoon baking powder
100 grams of chocolate chips (optional)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract natural or vanilla powder
How:

Put olive oil and sugar in a large bowl and with a hand whisk (fouet) or a simple wooden spoon, beat sugar and oil to form a lightly foamed mixture. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well to form an emulsified and smooth batter. Add the cocoa powder and the vanilla powder and mix well to incorporate. With a fork mash the bananas in a large dish, until you obtain a homogenous mash without any large pieces of bananas left. Add the mashed bananas to the batter and mix well to incorporate. Add baking powder to the flour, and add flour in parts, mixing well until you get a homogenous batter. Finally add the chocolate chips, if using, and mix some more. Transfer the batter to a oiled bread pan and bake at 180C for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of mass comes out dry.

Obs.

Baking soda will not work as a leavening agent in a cake made with alkalized cocoa powder. Baking soda needs an acid component to make it react, therefore you need to add regular baking powder. To use baking powder you have to add natural unprocessed cacao.


quarta-feira, 30 de março de 2016

Plum crumble with Oats Flour



This recipe was kept in the blog "drawer" for far too long and even so, I have decided to publish anyway. It is a recipe from autumn days, we had our house full of apples from our garden (Norwegian apples are picked quite late around here, from early to mid autumn), feels really good to review those pictures, specially the delicious crumble with all those red juices bobbling and dripping from the ramekins. The photos helped me remember that day, the exact day I made this crumble, the powerful aromas and the slightly sour taste of these Spanish plums used in the recipe. Above all I remembered how good it is to make desserts and share with one´s own family. The unifying power of sugar.





Oats and Plum Crumble


Crumble:

1/2 cup 250ml of white sugar
1/2 cup 250ml brown sugar
1 cup 250ml of flour
1 cup of 250 ml of oat flour
180 grams of cold butter cubed
1 egg
A good pinch of salt
About a teaspoon cinnamon powder


Filling:

3 cups plums, pitted and cut into slices or bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice

How:

Grease a large baking dish or ramekins ten individual. If using a large shape Line with parchment paper and grease the paper. Mix the sugar with the flour, salt and cinnamon. Add the egg and cold butter cut into cubes and the fingertips mix all the ingredients to form a homogeneous crumbly. Divide the dough into uneven parts (let a part a little higher than the other) and line the prepared form or molds with most of the mass does not form a very thin layer.

To make the filling mix plums (or any other fruit you prefer) with 1/2 cup sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch and mix with a spoon to cover all the plums with the mixture of juice, sugar and starch . Divide the pieces of plums by the ramekins and cover with a layer of crumble dough leaving some parts of the apparent fruit.

Bake at 180C for 40 to 50 minutes or until the top layer of the crumble is golden brown.
Serve warm or cold accompanied by a good spoonful of natural yoghurt flavored with a good vanilla extract.

Makes 10 ramekins or 12 pieces in a large baking tray



domingo, 20 de março de 2016

Chocolate puff pastry...



I was really tired some weeks ago and I decided to make some puff pastry to relax (laughs). The last puff pastry dough I made was perfect, real delight and it was very easy to do. The secret is the method called Rough Puff Pastry, developed by French chef Michel Roux. It is different from all the puff pastry recipes out there because it eliminates the need to prepare two doughs and then wrap the butter brick with that made of flour and water. The recipe of Michel Roux tells to mix it all at once, carefully of course, and then goes direct to the folds. I loved the recipe and decided to make a chocolate version, or better, cocoa version.



The idea to make a chocolate pastry thing I got from Pierre Hermé who has developed his own version of a chocolate puff pastry, but his version is the so called "inverted" dough, which is very labor intensive. My chocolate puff pastry is just an adaptation of Michel Roux rough and the result is just as good with a flaky consistency and slightly savory taste.

I made some changes tough. I made six folds instead of the four indicated by Roux. The cocoa mass is more delicate, melts easily and for that reason I did one fold at a time and did six folds in total, instead of four.





What exactly you can do with more than a kilo of chocolate puff pastry? Anything you would make with the regular one... Why not start with a pears and chocolate tart?





Chocolate Puff Pastry


A variation of the rough Puff Pastry from the Pastry by the French chef Michel Roux.

Para ver um passo a passo do método tradicional de massa folheada clique aqui. Para ver minha postagem com a versão normal da massa folheada do Michel Roux clique aqui .

500 gramas de manteiga sem sal gelada
450 gramas de farinha de trigo
50 gramas de cacau em pó
1/2 colher de chá de sal
150 ml de água gelada

How:

In a clean, dry surface, make a circle with the flour and add the sifted cocoa and salt. With the help of a fork mix the flour to cocoa. Then add the diced butter. With the fingertips (or fork) go mixing the butter mixture to flour, cocoa and salt until it forms a crumbly and dry mass. then add water to the few and continue stirring until a homogeneous mass. You may not need to use any water or possibly need to use more water than indicated, it depends on the environmental conditions of your kitchen and the quality of flour used.


Do not over mix the dough too, while mixing butter to flour, to prevent the butter to melt too fast. Careful with the adding of the water. I have not needed to add any water indicated, only half to form the dough. Maybe you need it all, maybe you don´t.

Once the dough got stick together, make a ball and wrap the dough in plastic and light film and refrigerate for half an hour.
Once chilled, remove the dough from the refrigerator and open on a floured surface. Careful not to add too much flour to the surface. Roll the dough to form a rectangle with size close to 40CM X 20CM and then fold the dough in three, just like folding as a letter. First you fold the top part down, to the middle and then you fold the bottom part up to the middle. Just like folding a letter. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place the dough in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or half an hour. Tip: before wrapping the dough in the plastic, make some marks on the dough with your fingers, two little marks, to help your remember that you have folded the dough twice.

Roll the dough again until it forms a slightly larger rectangle with 50CM X 30CM. Fold the dough into three again, always vertically. The top part down and the bottom part up, like a letter (that was fold number THREE). Then, turn the folded dough and place it vertically in front of you and roll the dough again, into another 50 X 30 rectangle (the same size as the previous rectangle) and fold it again, as a letter (that is fold number FOUR). Make FOUR finger marks on the surface of the dough to remind you the numbers of fold you have already done. Wrap the dough in plastic again and place the dough in the fridge for 20 more minutes.

Repeat the folding twice again, to reach a total of SIX foldings. At the end of the sixth fold place the dough in the fridge again for 40 minutes. After that your cacao puff pastry is ready to be used.

You now have around 1kg (two pounds) of puff pastry. Divide the dough and place the parts in a clean fresh film or a sealable plastic bag. Place them in the freezer or in the fridge, you case you plan to use it immediately.

It can stay in the fridge for up to 3-4 days and in the freezer for up two months. After their cold mass is ready to use.


quinta-feira, 3 de março de 2016

Coconut financier with raspberries, nut free and lactose free...




Financier is a world famous French cake made with almond meal and large amounts of browned butter. Nevertheless, my coconut financiers are made with neither nuts or regular butter. I have just adapted my personal recipe for this deliciously dense cake to be able to serve it to my stepson, who is heavily allergic to nuts. I love financiers and the thick dense texture of these baking-powder-free-and-egg-whites-only cake and have made it with all sorts of nuts. Hazelnut, pistachios, cashew nuts and Brazil nuts are just some of them. You can find the other recipes by clicking the links to Almond financiers, de Hazelnut financiers, de Cashew nut financier and Pistachios financiers.




The Macarons, another world famous French speciality, just like the Financiers, can also be made by using flours of all sorts of nuts and go perfectly well made with any one of those other nuts. And with seeds. Perfectly good Macarons and financiers can be made using flours obtained by finally grounding seeds of all sorts, as you can see in my delicious Omega seeds macarons with Matcha. I made those by grounding a mix of sesame, pumpkin, sunflower and flax seeds into a fine flour and used it just like I would use the regular almond flour. I added some Matcha, mostly for the color and because the recipe I was using recommended it (you find the link to original recipe I used here), and the result was perfect and that you can see in the pictures. Back to Financiers, well, these cakes can also be made by using ground seeds or, as you can see today, finely grounded dried unsweetened coconut flakes.




I have made Coconut Macarons and they are my all time favorite macarons, they are so light and flavorful and best eaten without filling (I prefer macarons without any filling). I made those also inspired by my nut allergic stepson who had never tried a macaron before I decided to master macarons without the use of nut flours. There might be some people out there who will see those nut free macarons and nut free financiers as culinary anomalies. In some ways they are anomalies, but once the results of my coconut macarons are good, the texture and the looks are just identical to the original ones, the taste is to die for, and allergic people can dive in, I think they are just perfect.

Another thing to be considered, if you want to learn how to make macarons and financiers and do not want to waste money on expensive nut flours, you can start by trying to master them with coconut instead. Once you find a good recipe, just go for it and try as many times as you want, guilty free. Here in Norway the unsweetened dried coconut costs less than 20% of the price of the same of almonds, not to mention the ready made almond flour which costs even more. If, like me, you prefer all organic, it adds up a little more what makes the experiments with coconut worth the try.





Coconut Financier with Raspberries - Nut free and Lactose free



2,5DL (one cup) dry unsweetened coconut flakes
2 DL (3/4 cup) wheat flour (use gluten free flours if you prefer)
2 DL (3/4 cup) confectioners sugar
150g egg whites (4 a 5 claras) at room temperature
150g coconut butter
50g coconut oil
Half vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla powder or vanilla extract)
40 to 50 Fresh of frozen raspberries (optional)


How:


Put the coconut butter, the coconut oil and the scraps of the vanilla bean (not the vanilla extract, that must be added later or it will totally evaporate) in a heavy pan and let it simmer and boil, over very low heat, until the coconut butter starts to look like a very light caramelized liquid and really aromatic. The butter process needs attention because it can go quite fast, keep your eyes on it. Remove the butter from heat and let it cool.

In a food processor (or a coffee grinder) and process the coconut flakes to obtain a not very fine coconut flour. Add the sugar and process until you get a fine and homogeneous mix. Add the wheat flour and pulse a little bit more to incorporate. Transfer the mix of flours to a bowl. Once the coconut butter is lukewarm you are ready to go. Using a whisk the egg whites, in a large bowl, beat the egg white to break them and whisk until they start to look foamy. Add the mix of flours, slowly, in parts. With the whisk, mix until all the flour is incorporated to the egg whites. Finally add the melted butter. If you are using the vanilla extract add it now, with the butter and using a spatula or large metal spoon, mix well and softly until all the butter is incorporated to the batter. Let the batter cool in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, ideally 1 hour.

Set the oven at 175C (325F) and let it heat while the batter cools. Meanwhile prepare the pans, greasing them well with coconut oil or any other type of grease you prefer. You can use cupcake, muffin or tartelettes pans to bake the financiers if, like me, you don´t really like (and don´t have) the traditional financiers pans. Scoop one or two tablespoons of batter into the prepared pans and press one or two raspberries on top of them. Don´t fill the pans too much because the cake will raise.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes. Remove immediately from pan, while warm.


Obs 1. Time of baking depends of the size of the pan. Regular cupcake pans take 15 minutes.
Obs 2. Don´t over bake because it can get really dry.
Obs 3. Don´t let the batter rest in the fridge for too long, differently from the batter made with regular butter, which is very easy to scoop even extra cold, the cold coconut oil get very, very hard and can be very difficult to scoop the batter into the pans if it is really hard. The time in the fridge should be just enough to completely cool the batter, to allow it be scooped instead of poured into the pans.




I used the coconut butter shown in the picture, a delicious creamy butter made of organic coconut. You can just use coconut oil, in case you don´t find coconut oil, or use a mix of coconut oil and the solid part of the coconut milk. To use coconut milk you have to first drain all the liquid that separates from the solids, in the can. Then use the solids of the milk with coconut oil, according to the recipe.




It is funny to speak of macarons and financiers as world famous French specialities since there are, all over the world, many cakes and cookies that are made exactly the same way as the French macaron and financier. Even if they end up looking differently. It is a fact that the French cuisine went viral world wide, the French versions became the rule, but there are amazing versions of those two being made all over the Middle East and Europe, with not so famous names!




segunda-feira, 29 de fevereiro de 2016

Cacao & Cashew nut Energy Truffles


This is not your everyday truffle recipe as it is more like an energy ball being called a truffle. Since chocolate truffles received that name because of their resemblance with the real fungus truffle, it still makes sense to call those truffles too.


The truffles here were made to be offered as gift to a good friend of mine and to my parents in law. Both gift recipients loved them. Why wouldn't they? The delicious mix of dates, nuts, peanut butter and cacao makes an irresistible gift. Dates are delicious and in this recipe they have a double job, it works as sweetener and texture giver. Dates are a little high in fructose, what means that you should not abuse on them. At the same time, they are a good source of minerals, vitamins. Dates contain vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5 and C and more potassium than bananas. Dates are an excellent source of energy as they contain natural sugars, i.e. no sugar added. In these truffles I used organic raw cacao powder which is an amazing source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals like calcium, zinc, iron, copper, magnesium, sulfur, and potassium. While cashew nuts are another excellent source of energy, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins like pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin, and thiamin (vitamin B-1) and a concentrated source of minerals like manganese, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium and a good amount of soluble dietary fiber. Their perfect name is Energy Truffles!




Energy Balls: Dates, Cocoa & Cashew nut Truffles



180g dates
180g cashew nuts (use other nuts if you prefer)
4 tbsp pure peanut butter without added salt or sugar (use other nut butters if you prefer)
5 tbsp natural cocoa powder
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla powder or vanilla extract

How:

Place the dates in a food processor or a blender and blitz for half a minute, to break the fibers of the date. Add the cashew nuts (or any other nut you are using) and blitz a little more. Then add the cacao powder and the peanut butter and pulse for a minute or two, or until you end up with is a sticky but soft mix that can be spooned and made into little balls. Roll the balls of dough on cacao powder to coat them. The truffles can resist room temperature, if the environment is not summer warm. They can be kept up to week in a air tight container.

Makes around 36 truffles.


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