Chocolate Tart, what a beauty.

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I logged in to the blog yesterday after a really long act of disappearance. I come back with a few strands of white hair in my temples, I blame my job which is the same reason why I haven’t been around for a while. Loving what you do can make you overdo it at times. Taking advantage of the holiday period, I want to update you on what I have been up to in life and in the kitchen. I bring you, a delish chocolate tart that can be made in advance and it is perfect as desert for these busy holidays.

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Also I want to say hi to Simon, who sent me a super sweet hello yesterday after I had a look at what you guys had been up to. It is great to know that I have been missed a little bit ūüôā

I have trying different photographic styles for my photography lately. If you have followed the blog until now it has mainly been a full of light, white background fest. I work with natural light, so getting moody, contrasted images is sometimes a bit of a challenge, so I hope you like these.

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For this cake, which can be made in advance and kept frozen, you need to make some choices before you start.

The base can be made in two different ways, either a pastry dough or with a mix of almond meal and coconut flour. The first one is a little bit more time consuming and the second one is a little bit more difficult to work with due to it being more crumbly but it is healthier. If you want the second version, you can use the base of the cheesecake i published a while ago, here today, i will leave the time consuming version which is a little different.

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Ingredients (serves 8)

85g unsalted butter or coconut oil

2 tbsp coconut sugar

1 medium free-range egg yolks

2 tbsp ice cold water

125g wholegrain spelt flour

For the filling

250g sugar free chocolate, broken into smaller pieces

2 free-range eggs

100ml non dairy milk

175ml double cream

Method

To make the pastry. Mix the butter and the flour in a food processor until it looks like a crumble. Beat up the egg with the sugar and water and add to the flour/butter mixture. Pour into a surface and work into a dough. Make a ball and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.

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Place the cream and the milk in a large heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Add the chocolate chunks and stir with a whisker until completely combined.

Take the dough and work it into a thin round shape, line the pastry case with the dough cover with aluminium foil and fill with ceramic beans. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and the beans and return to the oven for 5 more minutes. Leave to cool in the tin.

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Pour onto the chocolate mixture and quickly whisk together. Pass through a sieve while you pour into the cold pastry case.

Bake for 15 minutes in an oven at 180C and then leave in the over for a further 45  minutes. Then take out and cool.

If you prefer a shiny top layer, you can melt more sugar free chocolate and when the tart is cold, pour and spread. To decorate, make a circle with sliced pistachios and rose petals.

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Healthy Lemony Lemon Pie

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I can think of at least three songs that mentioned lemons and lemon trees from the top of my head. Small wonder since it is one of those rare fruit trees that seems generous in excess when it feels like it. Some lemon trees just don’t produce a single thing whereas others are a miracle of constant fruits hanging from its branches. All year long!

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We used to have such a tree in the garden and it was fantastic to just pop out and grab one when in need. My sister in law even built an extension on her house around the existing lemon tree but if you had seen this one you would probably have done the same. Lemons have saved more lives through history than penicillin, without the data to back it up, you are just going to have to take my word for it. Its very high vitamin C content was the antidote for the scurvy which was a lot more prevalent that you may think, specially in countries were citrus fruits don’t thrive and the winters are long and hard.

Squeezing a lemon juice into warm water and have it first thing in the morning is a sure way to boost your inmune system, it has become very popular in social media to recommend ¬†such practice as a way to live 100 years. I don’t know about the longevity, but it has proven benefits, with the only caveat of the acidity in your teeth, so it is better drank through a straw.

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If you want to make it sweeter, this cake is actually a really way of doing it. It has high amounts of lemon juice although vitamin is highly sensitive to heat so cooking it for a long time will destroy its content. The meringue is made with egg white, or aquafava if you are vegan and thus very high in protein. It has an artificial sweetener I normally wouldn’t use, Splenda, but it is the only sweetener I have found that has the right texture for a meringue. To compensate, the amount is has is less than half of the sugar the cake would normally take. If you prefer, you can use warm honey to sweeten it.

Ingredients

For the pastry

– 225g wholemeal flour

– 175g butter/margerine

– 2 tbsp xylitol

– 1 egg

For the lemon layer

– 4 lemons, finely grated zest & juice

– 40g corn flour

– 150g birch sugar

– 4 egg yolks

For the meringue topping

– 4 egg whites (remaining)

– 3/4 tbs splenda/honey/agave

– 1 tsp corn flour

How to…

To make the mix the flour and butter in a food processor if you have one and blend together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs you can do this by hand too. Add the birch sugar, egg and one tablespoon of water and mix again again until combined to a ball.

On a work surface roll the dough to a 3mm thick sheet. Transfer it to line a 20cm loose-bottomed tin. Cover in cling film and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 180C.

Take the pastry-lined tin out of the fridge and trim the excess pastry.  Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill with baking beans. Bake for 15 minutes then remove the beans and parchment and bake for another five minutes.

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Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 170C.

For the filling, mix the lemon zest and juice with the cornflour and stir to form a paste. Add 300 ml of water into a small cooking pot and bring to the boil. Add the lemon cornflour mixture to the hot water and stir until the mixture has thickened, then remove from the heat. In a bowl mix together the birch sugar and egg yolks and add them to the lemon mixture in the pan. Stir over a medium heat until thickened.

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For the meringue, whisk the egg whites with an electric whisker until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed. Add the Splenda one tbsp at the time, and try it for sweetness, still whisking until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Add the cornflour and whisk again.

Spoon on top of the filled pastry case and spread the meringue to cover the lemon filling. Get creative to create a swirl on the top of the meringue.

Toast the top of the meringue with a burner. Allow to cool completely before serving.

Carrot Cake 1 of your 5 a day?

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I recently came across a study that highlighted the effect of the UK government campaign for the population to eat more fruit an vegetables. Indeed, with one of the fattest populations in the world is a encomiable effort. Some really overweight person once told me that Ketchup was one of her 5 a day and that made me chuckle… If you smother your veggies into oil, butter, sugar or salt, you might as well skip it all together.

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I am a big fan of Carrot Cake, it is indeed my favourite cake in the world and this coming from a person that spend 15 years of her life separating carrots from her food is something. As pumpkin, carrot if a highly sweet vegetable, but when raw these sugars are actually not metabolised by your body, it is the cooking process that makes carrots sweet, so if you are trying to keep your weight at bay, eat your carrots raw. Their glycemic index sky rockets from low to very high after heating, shocking isn’t it? Overall they are a very healthy food but in this case, i will not pretend that like ketchup, this cake is like eating salad. It is a glorious treat and since my aim in this internet world is to make your indulgences less taxing on your blood sugar levels, here I present you the perfectly perfect better for you carrot cake.

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I have spent years perfecting my carrot cake and then some more making it healthier so I think I am now ready to share these lifetime findings ūüėČ

Ingredients Serves 8:

For the cake

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups xylitol

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups wholegrain flour

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp baking powder

¬Ĺ tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

3 cups shredded carrot

1 cup chopped walnuts

For the icing

60 gr. butter/margerine/coconut oil

220 gr. low fat cream cheese

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup powdered sucralose (splenda)

How to..

Bring the over temperature to 180C. Prepare a large mould with grease and flour.

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In a large bowl mix the eggs, the oil, xylitol and vanilla. Whisk with an electric mixer and add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and mix well.

Then add the grated carrot and the walnuts.

Pour into the mould and bake for an hour.

For the icing:

Mix the butter and cheese (both at room temperature) add the vanilla and the splenda until you have soft uniform texture with no lumps.

Check that your cake is completely cooked by inserting a pick in the middle, it is a very moist cake so make sure it is properly cooked. Leave to cook off completely before covering it with the icing.  I like to cut mine and add a layer of icing also in the middle but it is entirely optional. Decorate.

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Apple Galette: a healthy treat

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It is ironic how the language is sometimes a better historical trail than carbon 14 readings. I cannot get my head around the moment in which the human beings came up with the sentence “one apple a day keeps the doctor away”.

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Apples belong to the botanical genre Malus. Malus is the latin root that means “not good” and it gave origin to many wonderful words such as maleficent and malefic in English but also to the word mal (evil) in Spanish. It is in origin an Asian tree and as a fun fact for the day, it did not exist in America until the colonist took it there. There are many different varieties of apple trees and apple and its history is long and twisting, from being the forbidden tree to the inspiration for the original theory of Gravity by Sir Isaac Newton.

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It’s darker character made it the vessel for the poison in Snow White’s tale and the bright red color of some variants make it perfect to represent temptation. Granny Smith, an Australian old lady bred a particularly sour one. Golden Delicious lives up to its name and there are a myriad of wild unchartered types to be found in small orchards.

They are long lived fruits, they last months in a dry clean place and for that reason they were kept during the winter months in barrels, getting wrinkles and a bit drier with the weeks passing by and still sweet and full goodness. Malus, if you ask me, doesn’t quite make them justice.

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If like me, you have left your apples for too long and they start to be a bit wrinkly, this is what you can do with them.

Ingredients (makes 4 small galettes or 2 large ones)

For the crust:

  • 2 cups wholewheat flour
  • 1 tbs coconut flour (optional for extra fibre, if not available, more normal flour)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3¬†cup sunflower oil¬† or¬†coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp¬†cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg or 2 flax egg replacements
  • pinch sea salt

For the filling

  • 2 tbsp unsweetened almond butter
  • 2 tbsps apple puree
  • 2 apples without the core, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar

How to…

For the dough, mix all the ingredients in a bowl and knead until you get a ball of dough that is a little sticky but you can work with. Let sit in the fridge for 15 minutes. Take out and divide in 2 or 4 according to your plans. Form 4 discs of approximately half a centimetre thick.

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Preheat the over 180C.

Mix in a bowl the almond butter, the apple pure and the cinnamon and cover the base of the discs of dough leaving 2 cm to the end with no mixture. Then lay the thinly cut apple slices overlapping as in the picture. Sprinkle with coconut sugar and more cinnamon.

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Bake for 20 minutes or until it looks golden brown. Serve with a bit of low fat cream.

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Healthy home made Nutella

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I realised last week that some of you actually read what I write, so I am going to have to start measuring my words! Strange how we project our digital voice to the void and we listen carefully to what the wind brings in return.

I am one of those people that stick a finger in the bottle of Nutella. Cheeky and shameless I scoop as much as I possibly can and i rush it to my mouth to stop it from dripping (which I only succeed every now and then). ¬†We all know it isn’t the best of snacks but it is so delicious… If like me, you would like to be able to stick your finger in the chocolate pot more often and feel good about it, you have come to the right place.

This Nutella is vegan, sugar free and high in fibre. It takes a bit of processing time but other than that is very simple to make and takes only 3 ingredients.

Ingredients 

150 gr. Hazelnuts

60 gr. birch sugar

50 gr. cocoa powder

20 gr. cocoa butter (optional) or 50 ml. oat milk

How to…

First toast the hazelnuts in the oven for about 5 to 10 minutes, without letting them get too toasted. Then mix everything else in a food processor until smooth and try.

You may need to add some more milk, or more cocoa depending on your taste.

If you have cocoa butter it will make the mix a little bit softer that if you don’t, without it, it will be more intense.

Once you have a smooth paste you can keep it in the fridge in an air tight container for 4 weeks.

You can also melt it au bain marie and pour as a sauce on top of pancakes like these:

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Smurf blue nice cream

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It’s been hot today, one of those rare, sunny spells of summer after a gloomy, dark and rainy spring that resembled winter more than anything.

In the midst of acclimatising to a new city, which is again new and lonely, I have been having ups and downs, and to be fair, maybe more downs that ups. It is what it is I suppose, hormones, social interaction, long distance relationships, expectations… those are the worst. ¬†Alexander Pope once said that¬†Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed, and he was not wrong.

On that note, if you expect nice cream to taste like Ben & jerry’s well you are in for a disappointment, but if you let it surprised you… it might actually shine for what it really is, an amazing, healthy alternative to ice cream.

It can be ready in 5 minutes and no one should be feeling guilty about having one more scoop of it. There are many flavours you can try, but today I bring you a post workout one. The vanilla protein flavour with blue spiral (for the colour, children will loooove it).

You will need frozen bananas. Buy too many bananas, let me get ripe, proper ripe, and then peel them and chop them. Freeze them for as long as you wish but no less that 3 hours. In a food processor, put some frozen bananas (about one banana per serving) then add 1/2 a tsp of blue majik/spirulina and 1 measure of vanilla protein powder. A dash of oat milk (or any milk to your tasting) and blend. The texture should be like soft ice cream. You can then pour on a metallic bowl and freeze for an hour before serving with a scoop, but I personally like the soft ice cream texture and I eat it straight away. Naughty me!

I hope you have lots of these this summer, and please let me know if you try it!

No sugar, no fat, no nasties… only good delicious ingredients and a great flavour. I will be bringing you other flavours in time but I am sure you can work out the mechanics yourselves!

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Healthy banana bread

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Not very popular where I come from, making cakes with things like banana and carrot is not something I did when growing up. Now that I have been living abroad for a while and I have been exposed to many other baking styles, carrot cake is absolute favourite cake.

Only a couple of years a loaf style cake caught my attention in a cafeteria, Banana bread said the sign. The bread part is a ruse, non english native speakers, it’s a proper cake. And a good one too! So I started to search for a good recipe and I ended up at the BBC good food site, which quite frankly has all the answers when it comes to culinary questions. I have since adapted it of course, to a sugar free wholegrain version that is a little bit healthier than the original and absolutely delicious.

This is my take on a traditional banana bread…

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Ingredients

  • 285g wholegrain spelt flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 110g butter or coconut or sunflower oil,¬†plus extra for greasing
  • 200 gr birch sugar (xylitol)
  • 2 happy chicken organic eggs
  • 4 very ripe mashed bananas
  • 85ml buttermilk (works as normal milk with 1¬Ĺ tsp of vinegar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

How to..

Preheat the oven to 180C. Mix¬†he flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and birch sugar together until light and fluffy, bear in mind that if using xylitol this won’t happen as with sugar and it will keep being somewhat separated. Don’t worry, it will work out in the over when heated.

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Add the eggs one by one mixing well each before adding another, then the mashed bananas, buttermilk and vanilla extract to the butter and sweetener mixture and mix well. Fold in the flour mixture carefully.

Grease a 20cm long loaf tin and pour the cake mixture into it, then put in the oven and bake for about an hour, for the last 20 minutes you might need to cover it with tin foil to stop the cake from darkening in excess. Insert a pick in the middle to know if it’s properly cooked. It should come out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

If you like the bananas on top as decoration, cut one in half alongside and place before putting in the oven.

Enjoy!