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One plate and two forks is all you need to enter chocolate heaven

One plate and two forks is all you need to enter chocolate heaven

Summer has been amazing with seemingly endless sweltering days. But ever so often this glorious weather is punctured by bland grey skies or a powerful rainstorm; Iittle reminders that this summer is not everlasting and that I better enjoy every single beautiful day.

So I have not been doing much cooking at all. On work nights I might throw together a quick dinner, but in the weekends I have been (literally) eating out as much as possible- I’ve been enjoying rooftop, waterside and pavement dining.

There have only been very few exceptions were I was tempted to invite friends over and cook a meal. And even then I did not want to spend long hours indoors preparing dinner. But then at the same time, when my friends are sitting at a table laughing and chatting, I want to be with them instead of standing in the kitchen putting together a meal. This dessert was exactly right:

this chocolate torte comes together quickly and can be made the night before – or earlier in the day.  After it has baked and cooled, you just pop it into the fridge until it is time for dessert.

This torte is decadent; it is so moist it almost has the consistency of a mousse. You can bake one large torte to serve a crowd or, for a romantic, informal dinner, you can make a smaller torte and serve it on a single plate with two little forks to share.  Either way, it is fabulous with a little whipped cream and a tart raspberry sauce or the way I prefer it: piled high with fresh summer fruits.

 

Pure, sensuous and rich decadence

Pure, sensuous and rich decadence

 Ingredients

(from the blog ‘Almacucina’)
Two small 16cm or one 22cm torte – serves 4 to12

110g (6 ounces) 70% dark chocolate
1 tbsp butter
30ml (1/8 cup) strong black coffee (brewed or instant)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
55 (1/4 cup) of (unrefined) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
120ml (1/2 cup) heavy whipping cream
a sprinkling of sugar

Recipe

  1. Line the bottom of two 16cm spring form pans (or one 22cm pan) with a circle of parchment paper.
  2. Preheat oven to 175C (350F)
  3. Au bain marie* melt the chocolate, butter and coffee, stirring once or twice. Once melted remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.
  4. Bring some water to the boil.
  5. Using an electric mixer whisk the eggs on high, gradually adding the sugar. Add the vanilla and continue to whisk until the eggs are pale and have double in volume – about 3 – 5 min.
  6. In a separate bowl whisk the cream until soft peaks form.
  7. Using a spatula fold the cream into the chocolate with a few quick strokes until incorporated.
  8. Then add the egg and fold in gently and quickly.
  9. Pour batter into the prepared form(s).
  10.  Fill a large pan or deep baking tray with the boiled water. Carefully place the cake pan(s) inside. The water should come about 3/4 way up the pan.
  11. Place in the oven for 25 min (maybe a little longer if using a large pan). The torte is done when it feels slightly bouncy but firm when you press lightly with your finger.
  12. Remove from the hot water bath and allow to cool 10-20 min.
  13. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  14. To unmold run a knife or spatula around the sides. If you find the bottom of the cake is sticking you can place the pan over a small flame to heat the base. Sprinkle the top of the cake with a little white sugar, to keep it from sticking when it is cut.
  15. If you are serving the torte in wedges use a hot wet knife to cut it, cleaning the knife after each cut.

 

* Au bain marie means melt in a heated water bath: bring a pot of water to the boil and then immerse a second pot/bowl until it sits about halfway inside the water. Keeping the water on a soft simmer allow the chocolate to melt.


Serve with

  • Fresh summer fruit (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
  • Whipped cream and a raspberry sauce

 

The only emperor is the emperor of ice cream (Wallace Stevens)

The only emperor is the emperor of ice cream (Wallace Stevens)

What do you do when life hands you lemons?

You sit there and stare for a while; lost at what to do next.

…but sooner or later you are bound to get hungry…

So you grab the sour lemons, add some silky yoghurt to make a big tub of creamy frozen yoghurt.

And then you sit there staring for a while longer. ….but at least you are holding a fabulously soothing desert in your hands.

 

Ingredients
Serves 1 (or should it really be 2)

250g Greek yoghurt (Total 0% is my favourite)
1/2 -1 lemon
2 tbsp honey (or 1tbsp honey, 1 tbsp agave)

 

Recipe

  1. Put the yoghurt into a wide freezer tub.
  2. Grate half the lemon and zest it. Stir into the yoghurt.
  3. Add the honey and mix well. Taste and adjust the amount of lemon if necessary.
  4. Place into the freezer for 1-2 hours.
  5. Stir well with a fork.
  6. Return to the feezer and freeze until solid.
  7. Place into the foodprocessor and process until smooth. (If the yoghurt is too hard allow it to soften for a few minutes).
"Eat me" and travel straight to France

“Eat me” and travel straight to France

There are two things I enjoy almost as much as being on holiday: the anticipation before the trip and the afterglow when you get back. One of my favourite ways to continue the adventure back at home, is to bring foodie souvenirs and  to cook typical local dishes.

And at the moment my mind is still in France: the fabulous winding roads and the beautiful villages of the Loire valley…the rilletes, pâtés, baguettes, croissants and glasses of Saumure-Champigny wine ….I could go on and on (although I don’t think I will try pig’s ear again….)

So this weekend I decided to bring a little of the Loire region into my kitchen by baking a Tarte Tatin; the well known upside-down apple cake from the Orleans region that achieved fame through the ladies Tatin.

There are many different variations for making Tarte Tatin. Some cooks just throw some caramel sauce and apples together, cover all with pastry and shove it in the oven. But I find that this just does not deliver those soft rich caramel flavoured apples that make for a spectacular Tart Tatin. So I take that little bit of extra time and cook the apples in the caramel sauce first. The secret is to keep spooning some sauce over the apples and to shuffle them around a little in the pan to ensure even cooking.
If you are in a rush you could save some time by using store-bought puff pasty. I do however prefer the crumble of a quick home-made short crust; especially when you are planning to eat the tart at room temperature.

I should warn you though: it really is very hard to resist the scent wafting out of your oven and allow the tart the time it needs to bake all the way through.

Bon appétit!

Amboise, a Loire town that makes your mouth water

Amboise, a Loire town that makes your mouth water

Ingredients
One 25cm tart

Caramel apples
6 apples (use a firm, fresh-tasting apple like Jonagold, Cox)
60 butter
40 sugar

Crust
90g butter (room temperature)
40g sugar
1 egg
Optional: 1 vanilla pod
150g all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
 Recipe

  1. Use a mixer to beat together the butter and the sugar until creamy. Add the egg and combine until pale.
  2. Quickly add the flour, salt and vanilla (if using).
  3. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap in cling film and refrigerate.
    ———————————————————————————————————————————-
  4. Melt butter in a round 25cm oven-proof pan.
  5. Add sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved and the sauce has turned a light caramel colour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180C.
    ———————————————————————————————————————————-
  7. Peel and core the apples. Cut them in half length-ways.
  8. Place the apples in the pan, cut side up. Cook the apples on a medium-low heat for about 25 min or until the apples have softened and the sauce has browned a little. Spoon some caramel over the apples about every 5 minutes. If the outside apples are cooking slower than those at the center carefully shuffle them around.
  9. When the apples are cooked arrange them in neat circles. Turn off the heat.
    ———————————————————————————————————————————-
  10. On a floured surface quickly roll the pastry into a disk that is a little larger than your pan. Fold the pastry over your rolling-pin and transfer to the pan.
  11. Use the blunt end of a knife handle to tuck the dough around the apples. Do not tuck the edges of the pastry in though, but allow them to curl up against the sides of the pan.
  12. Bake the tart 25-30 min or until the crust is golden.
  13. Allow the tart to cool at least 10 min before covering the pan with a plate and turning it out.

 

Tips & Variations

  • Ready-made puff pastry can be used instead of the home-made crust
  • the apples can be replaced by pears


Serve with

A dollop of ice cream, crème fraîche or vanilla yoghurt

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A cake as ligth as a cloud carrying the scent of lemon

A cake as ligth as a cloud carrying the scent of lemon

Happy blog birthday to me! Not only that, this is actually also my 100th post!

It is incredible to realize that a whole year has passed since my first post.  It has been such a fabulous experience: it began with nothing more than my passion for food. I simply decided to start an on-line recipe collection; as I was constantly chewing everyone’s ear off about recipes and food anyway. I was actually taken by surprise when I read the first comments from strangers and I was completely blown away when I got my first followers. It really is a fantastic feeling to know that your passion has touched someone else.

Whilst hunting for new taste experiences to share, I became more and more interested in healthy food. Dishes that not only taste good but that truly nourish my body. It has been a great journey with some marvelous discoveries. I found out you can replace the fat in baked goods with apple sauce (Zucchini  Apple Muffin, Oat Blueberry Muffin). Also quite unexpectedly cauliflower became my new favourite vegetable (Mash, Hummus, Tabouleh, Couscous, Pasta).

So for my birthday I decided to bake myself a cake that tastes decadent but is low in fat and easy to make . It’s a good thing that this recipe is relatively healthy as I had way too much of it already; it is just so beautifully light and airy. Great with a cup of coffee in the afternoon, as desert or as a snack (and I have tested all of the above!)

Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving your messages and comments – I so enjoy reading your thoughts and feedback. I am looking forward to the year ahead and many more great discoveries and experiences!

Ingredients
(found on the blog ‘O Pistachio‘)
Two 15cm cake tins or one 22cm tin


butter for greasing cake tin
4 large eggs
110g (1/2 cup) superfine (caster) sugar
3 tbsp all-purpose (plain) flour
500g (1 2/3 cup) fat free Greek-style yoghurt (see tips for alternative)
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon

Recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 175C (350F).
  2. Cut out a round disk of parchment paper to cover the base of two 15cm (or one 22cm) round cake tins. Grease the tin well.
  3. Separate the eggs. Whisk the eggs whites until they are stiff and form soft peaks.
  4. In a separate bowl beat together egg yolks and sugar until pale and creamy.
  5. Beat in the flour.
  6. Then beat in the yoghurt, lemon zest and juice.
  7. Carefully fold the egg whites under the yoghurt mix.
  8. Pour into the baking tins.
  9. Bake for about 50-60 minutes (for one large tin you might have to increase the baking time).
  10. The cake should be moist but springy to the touch. (The cake will rise at first, but will then collapse again.)
  11. Best served cold (although you might also like it warm).

Tips & Variations

Instead of Greek yoghurt you can also strain regular yoghurt in a cheese cloth for a while.

Healthy no-fuss dessert: pineapple sorbet

Healthy no-fuss dessert: pineapple sorbet


Lately I have not been posting very much. Why? Because I have been eating.

The last few weeks I came out of hibernation and spent most evenings eating out with friends. I almost feel like I have been on a trip around the world:  enjoying Asian lounge restaurants, clattering dim sum eateries, pure Italian hospitality,  French Michelin starred luxury – just to name a few of the experiences I had.

On my couple evenings at home I balanced things out by eating healthy steamed fish and vegetables. But the contrast proved slightly too much of a shock.

Enter ….. my favourite healthy “emergency dessert”: pineapple sorbet.

This recipe really only has three steps: freeze tinned pineapple, allow to defrost a few minutes, blend. See below for the long version and maybe from now on you will also keep some pineapple in your freezer. Just for emergency purposes only of course 😉

 

Ingredients
(recipe found on the blog ‘Fat Free Vegan‘)
Serves 2-4

1 can of pineapple slices in their own juice (do not take the ones that are canned with syrup)
optional: fresh mint

Recipe

  1. Place the pineapple and juice into a zip-lock freezer bag or -container.
  2. Freeze until solid, overnight (or just keep some in your freezer at all times- for emergencies).
  3. When ready to eat. Allow to defrost at room temperature for about 10 minutes.
  4. Place in food processor and process until smooth.
  5. If using add mint leaves when the pinapple is almost smooth.
  6. Serve immediately. Any leftovers can be stored in the freezer. Just briefly process again before serving.
A heavenly match: fragrant orange and dark chocolate

A heavenly match: fragrant orange and dark chocolate

I just love giving presents;  thinking up a little something that will put a smile on someone’s face.

I have no idea what triggered this gift, but all of a sudden I thought back to my childhood Christmases: I seem to remember that every year someone in our family was given candied orange peel from this one particular confectionary. But people move cities, habits change. It has been a long time since one of these little cellophane packages sat under our Christmas tree.

So I decided to make some candied orange peel as a gift for my father.  I think I only failed in one respect:  everyone (even the little ones) liked them so much that by now there is not much left for him to enjoy.

These are easy to prepare and taste fabulous – so do not wait until Christmas before making these as a gift for someone you care for.

Ingredients
(found on the blog ‘Whisks and Whimsy’ adapted from ‘Smitten Kitchen’)

4 organic oranges
water for blanching
230ml (8 oz) of water
225g (8 oz) of sugar
100g dark chocolate (I used the 70% Green & Black’s Organic chocolate)


Recipe

  1. Bring two pots of water to the boil.
  2. Slice the top and bottom off the oranges. Score them from top to bottom and then peel each orange in one large piece (if you can manage). Slice the peel into strips.
  3. Place the peels into the first pot. Blanch for 3 minutes. Tip into a colander and rinse with cold water.
  4. Repeat the process blanching them for another 3 minutes in the second pot. (Blanching them twice removes the bitterness from the peel.)
  5. At the same time combine the water and sugar. Bring to a simmer.
  6. Add peels to the syrup. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Stir once in a while to ensure the peels are submerged.
  7. Once cooked drain the peels and lay them out on a sheet of baking paper (or rack) to cool and dry.
  8. Melt the chocolate au bain marie. (If possible use a narrow deep cup for the melted chocolate. It’s not necessary, but makes dipping the orange a little more easy.)
  9. Dip each orange peel 2/3 into the chocolate. Then place on the parchment to cool. ( I left them out for 24 hours.)
  10. Once the peel has dried store in an airtight container.

Tips & Variations

  • Instead of or before dipping the orange in chocolate, the peel can be tossed in 250g (1 cup) of sugar.
  • These peels still look a little rustic. If you are looking for a more polished result temper your chocolate (this will keep the chocolate shiny and with less “feet”.)

Delicious and instant dessert

I am holding on to the feeling of late summer for as long as possible.  And what food epitomizes summer more than ice cream?

Frozen yoghurt! It is just as icy and creamy but its healthier and more refreshing.

What a fabulously tasty and easy way to have your daily serving of fruit! A desert that is actually good for you!

 

Ingredients
Serves 1-2

125g frozen cherries
100g non-fat Greek yoghurt (I like using 0% Total Yoghurt)
a few drops of vanilla essence
optional: a few drops of lemon juice

 Recipe

  1. Place all ingredients into a blender.
  2. Blend scraping down the sides regularly (this is the only effort involved).
  3. Done!
  4. You can prepare the frozen yoghurt before dinner and keep it in the freezer until desert. Take into account that after a while it will become solid.

 Tips & Variations

This recipe can be made with many types of fruit:

  • blueberries
  • strawberries (allow them to defrost for 15 minutes before putting them in the blender


If you are looking for extra sweetness you can add

  • 1/4 tsp stevia
  • 1 tsp agave syrup
  • 1tsp honey