turkish chocolate torte

turkish chocolate torteWithout a doubt this is my favourite cake. It also becomes the favourite cake of anyone who tries it when I make one.

the cake:
6 egg whites
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
1 cup (125g) almond meal
500 g halva, roughly chopped
150 g pitted dates, chopped
Grated zest of 2 oranges
120 g dark chocolate, finely chopped
¼ cup (60ml) brandy

chocolate ganache:
100 ml pure (thin) cream
150 g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

decorations to serve:
2 tablespoons edible dried rose petals (optional)
2 tablespoons slivered pistachios
4 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
Small mint sprigs

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease and line a 24cm springform cake pan with baking paper. Beat egg whites with electric beaters until stiff peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating constantly, then beat for 5 minutes or until thick and glossy.

Fold in almond meal, halva, dates, zest and chocolate until just combined. Spoon mixture into the cake pan, then bake for 1 hour 20 minutes or until dry and firm to the touch (the cake will still be moist in the centre when tested with a skewer).

While hot, poke several holes in the top of the cake with a skewer. Pour brandy over cake, then cool completely in the pan.

Meanwhile, for the glaze, place cream and chocolate in a pan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and stand for 30 minutes or until a thick pouring consistency.

Remove the cooled cake from the pan, transfer to a platter and pour over the chocolate glaze, allowing it to drip down the sides. Decorate with rose petals, nuts, pomegranate seeds and mint.

Recipe: Valli Little


almond pulp: chocolate fudge

You won’t believe this is healthy sweet treat – it’s so yummy. These chewy chocolate fudge balls are a great use of left over almond pulp.

healthy fudge balls

2 cups almond pulp (leftover from making milk)
1/2 cup cashews
1 cup dates (fresh), pitted
4 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp shredded coconut
2 tbsp honey
pinch salt (omit if you are using salted cashews)
1/2 tbsp coconut oil

Place cashews, almond pulp, dates, cocoa, salt, coconut and coconut oil in your food processor to combine. Thermomix: speed 8/20 sec. The texture will be like a moist, reasonably fine crumble.
Add honey and process to combine until the mixture sticks together turning a dark chocolatey brown. Stop processing before it gets too fine and buttery. Thermomix: speed 2/15 sec scrape down and speed 2/15 sec. 
Line a freezer-proof small dish or baking pan with baking paper.
Press the mixture into dish with a spatula then freeze overnight.
Cut the block into small treat sized slices or roll into fudge balls.
Store in a ziplock freezer bag  and eat without defrosting.

nut fudge

dark chocolate and raspberry brownies

I’ve passed a significant mothering milestone: I baked for the school fund raiser. I’m a little bit proud of myself … don’t tell anyone that these brownies are super easy to make.

brownies choc raspberry

125g unsalted butter
200g dark chocolate melts
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup frozen raspberries

Preheat oven to 180°C and grease then line a 20cm x 31cm baking tray with baking paper.
In a small saucepan melt butter and chocolate over a low heat (or microwave gently).
Once melted (but not so hot as to cook the eggs), add eggs and vanilla essence and beat to combine.
Add sugar, flour and baking powder, stir well to combine.
Add the raspberries and gently mix through, then pour into the baking tray.
Bake for 30 minutes. Ideally your brownie will have a crackling top with a fudgy middle.
Remove from oven and let cool for 15 mins in the tin before cutting into portions and leaving to cool on the rack.

I don’t bother with dusting with icing sugar, when you are eating something this yummy, you don’t need to be worrying about making a mess.

almond milk: homemade

I don’t eat much dairy these days. I find that if I divert too far from goat milk cheese and natural yoghurt I feel worse off. Yellow cheese rarely makes an appearance on my menu. To add to my fussiness, soy milk is expensive and it tends to curdle in my coffee. So with the help of my fan-dangled new kitchen tool (a thermomix), I decided to make my own milk – almond milk – and it was surprisingly quick and easy.

1 cup almonds (I used blanched but you can use raw almonds).
About 3 cups of water to soak almonds overnight (this will make them easier to blend).
In the morning, drain the almonds and place in the thermomix (or equivalent quality blender) with about 700ml clean water.
Blend almonds (gradually move from speed 6 to speed 9 for 40 sec) to achieve a fine grind of the almonds.
Place a nut milk bag* into a jug or line a sieve with muslin and pour the almond milk through the bag/muslin.
With clean hands, squeeze the milk out of the muslin into the jug.
You’ll be left with a jug of almond milk and a bag of almond pulp/meal.

Your homemade milk will last 3 -4 days in the fridge. Shake before use.
Adjusting the water content down will make a creamier milk.
Uses for almond pulp/meal to follow.
*nut milk bags are available from some health food shops and online.

almond milk coffee

christmas cookies in a jar gift

My dear friend has announced she’s thrown down the credit card and taken up the glue gun for a handmade christmas project this year. So in keeping with her christmas goal, I gave her a jar of make-your-own-christmas-gift cookies for christmas. Not only is she making her gifts but now she’s making her present too. … perhaps not quite the gesture we were aiming for. However, these christmas cookies in a jar do make a very pretty gift.

cookie jar giftLayer the ingredients into a 1 litre jar in the following order:
110g plain flour
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp bicab soda
¼ tsp salt
75g brown sugar
75g caster sugar
65g rolled oats
100g crainins
130g white chocolate bits

The instruction card reads:
You will need:
125g butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla essence

To make the cookies:
Preheat oven to 190c. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Empty the jar into a large bowl. Add butter, egg and vanilla. Stir until well combined. Shape tablespoons of the mixture into balls and place on the baking trays approximately 5 cms apart. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Turn biscuits onto a wire rack to cool.

rye toast with tahini and tea cup alfalfa

Oh so humble, the alfalfa sprout will grow in just about anything if given some water.

A sweet idea that I saw somewhere, sometime, on the web, was growing alfalfa in tea cups. Totally cute and easy to do – even for the brownest of thumbs*. Having clumsily smashed my glass jar sprouter just last week, I couldn’t resist giving it a go…

tea cup alfalfa sprouts

And then made one of my favourite healthy snacks … Rye bread toast with tahini and alfalfa.

alfalfa tahini on rye

* How to: Put a cotton ball in the bottom of a tea cup and sprinkle in some alfalfa seeds. Leave on the bench top in a light spot, but not in direct sun. Give your seeds tiny amounts of water once or twice a day and in 3-4 days – voila! – a cup of alfalfa.

berry parfait

berry parfaitLactose intolerant? Look away now. Love creamy cheesecakes or mousse and berries? You’ll be into this! It’s easy. It’s yummy.

125 g (light) cream cheese
¼ cup icing sugar
1 tsp orange rind, grated
¼ cup (light) sour cream
300 ml thickened cream
250 g strawberries
200 g blueberries
2 tbsp pistachio nuts, chopped (optional garnish)

Beat cream cheese, icing sugar and orange rind until creamy.
Beat sour cream into mixture.
Add cream and beat until soft peaks form.
Layer strawberries, blueberries and cream mixture in a serving glass.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour but overnight is good too.
Top with nuts to serve.

Substitue: Berries for mango. Nuts for chocolate flakes. Nuts for cookie crumbs… the possibilities are endless but the pleasure lasts about 5 mins, depending how piggy you are.

berry parfait detail

rum raisin chocolate fudge tart

rum raisin choc fudge tartI had some sultanas soaking in rum which were left over from Christmas puddings. The drunken dried grapes had absorbed as much rum as they possibly could and had almost fully re-hydrated. What better to use them up in a very simple, no cook, ganache tart. My supportive man called this one, “freaking awesome!!”

biscuit base:
150 g ‘digestive’ wheat biscuits
30 g butter, melted

250 g dark chocolate, broken
200 ml cream
¼ to ½ cup rum soaked raisins/sultanas (either will work and amount is your preference)

rum raisin tart in the tinMake boozy sultanas by putting them in a clean jam jar, covering the sultanas with rum and leaving for about a week (or more), with the lid on, in the fridge. If you need them in a hurry, warm the rum and let them sit for an hour or so.

Make the base by processing the biscuits until fine then add the butter, combine well.
Line the base of a springform tin with greaseproof paper and press the crumbs into the base and a little way up the sides of the tin. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (an hour is better).

Make the gananche by pouring the cream into a medium sized microwave-proof glass bowl. Heat cream until just below boiling, then add chocolate. Mix until chocolate has melted.
Add the boozey sultanas, mix. (Don’t get too heavy handed with the rum, otherwise your chocolate will struggle to set)
rum raisin chocolate fudge cakeLet the chocolate cool to room temp before pouring into the base.
Then return it to the fridge for 1-2 hours.

I like to eat this in small slices with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a short black espresso.

Tip: Use a hot knife to slice it.

date and banana pudding loaf cake

vegan date and banana loafI originally got this is a recipe from my dear friend, modernwomansociety.wordpress.com, but I have added bananas as inspired by frugalfeeding.wordpress.com, the result was something much closer to a caramel [vegan] pudding than a loaf or cake – totally delicious!

¾ cup brown sugar
1 cup dates, pitted and chopped
1 tsp bicarb soda
1 tablespoon margarine (or melted butter if you prefer)
1 pinch salt
1 cup boiling water
1 ¾ cups self raising flour
3 small overripe bananas (optional – if you leave them out, you’ll have a vegan date loaf, bake time is 30 mins)

Preheat oven to 180c
Combine sugar, dates, bicarb, margarine and salt in a bowl.
Then pour 1 cup boiling water over the above, stir and leave to cool. The mixture will become lighter and foamy.
Add flour and bananas then mix until combined and similar to a batter consistency.
Pour into a greased (I used light olive oil spray) and lined loaf tin and bake for 40 mins* in a moderate oven until a skewer comes out clean-ish (the banana will make it like a pudding so don’t over cook it).

* During baking I thought individual puddings would be great, perhaps pour the batter into patty-cases in a muffin tin and reduce the bake time. I haven’t tried this yet myself so I’ll add a cook time retrospectively – unless someone else tries first and lets us all know?!

Serve it warm with honey, ice cream, cream and/or yoghurt – whatever grabs you. Or just a dab of butter is great too.

date and banana pudding loaf


carrot cake with lime cream cheese icing

carrot cake with lime icingThis is a winner. It’s the orange in the cake mix and lime in the icing that makes this cake so scrumptious. Most of this cake was eaten before I could take a glamour shot to show you.

200 g butter, softened
240 g caster sugar
4 eggs
180 g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
200 g carrot, grated (that’s 2 medium carrots)
60 g coconut, shredded
60 g walnuts, crushed
1 orange zest
½ orange juice
extra 50 g coconut, shredded, roasted

130 g cream cheese
100 g icing sugar
1 lime zest, fine
½ lime juice

Preheat the oven to 170c.
Grease and line a 23cm springform cake tin.
Place butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric beater until light and fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
Sift in flour and baking powder then mix to combine.
Add carrots, coconut, zest, walnuts and orange juice.
Mix to combine and pour into cake pan.
Bake for 50 minutes, or until a skewer to the centre comes out clean.
Let cool in the tin for 10 minutes then move to a rack.

Garnish: Put the extra coconut in an oven proof dish and dry roast for about 5 minutes – don’t leave it long, you want it to be just golden. Then remove and set aside to cool.

Icing: Beat ingredients until smooth. Spread over cake and garnish with roasted coconut.

carrot cake with lime cream cheese icing