Thursday, 17 April 2014

Nutella Cake {Gluten Free}

I feel like I should rename this blog ‘mbakes with chocolate’. 

EVERYTHING has chocolate, I’m sorry if you’re getting sick of it. Am I trying to assert my femininity by using it? Dear god I hope not. 
Sometimes, just sometimes, I have visions of rubbing chocolate into the pores of my face and I fear it may actually be cheaper than my Lancome ‘Tient Idole Ultra’ (what?) – which makes it all the more feasible and non-weird. 
I polished off a poor man’s Magnum and a crème egg half an hour before falling into sleep induced coma yesterday. It may or may not have been my lowest point, albeit the moment I forgot how to write a good sentence.

This cake is definitely an ode to Easter, it would be perfect as an alternative to simnel cake or hot cross buns if you’re gluten intolerant, but I’d risk it for a bite of these fried hot cross donuts
The Nutella cake is very rich in flavour and every scant forkful is as decadent as the next. Perfect reasoning for massively underexposing the photographs! You can can taste the darkness, yes?

This is a proper adult’s cake, by the way. We gave a hefty slice to my eight year old cousin and I could almost feel her dismay when she clocked on to the (sweet) bitterness. Oh, to be young.  Happy Easter!  
Nutella Cake {Gluten Free}

Adapted from How To Be A Domestic Goddess: Torta Alla Gianduia

 6 egg, separated 
¼ tsp cream of tartar 
125g unsalted butter, softened 
400g jar Nutella
1 tbsp water 
100g ground hazelnuts (skin on) or almonds
100g dark chocolate, melted and cooled 
125ml double cream
125g dark chocolate 
1 tbsp golden syrup (optional)
100g hazelnuts, toasted and halved

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until peaks form. In another bowl, beat the butter and Nutella, add the water and egg yolks and stir until silky. Add the ground nuts and then fold in the melted chocolate along with a dollop of egg white to loosen the batter up a bit. Use a metal tablespoon to fold the rest of the whites in thirds, using the ‘figure of eight’ motion to incorporate the whites. Pour into an eight inch tin and bake for 40 minutes, until the sides start to shrink and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Place on a wire rack and leave to cool. 

Heat the cream in a saucepan until just boiling, take off the heat and add the chocolate and syrup. Stir until the chocolate has melted. Spread on the cooled cake and decorate with toasted hazelnut halves.
Love Em xx

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Beetroot Crème Egg Brownies

In October I spoke about brownie baking being at the top of my list of things to do when I should actually be doing something else. I’ve been doing quite well, then, considering those salted caramel fudge brownies were the last I blogged about. 
Fast-forward seven months and a dissertation due in May. 

Behold crème egg brownies. 
With not a single word written and three other projects to hand in, if I don’t over indulge in the teeny stresses of student life on my blog, I fear there *might* be internal chaos. 

Tell a lie, I distinctly remember blagging on about my dissertation “idea” to two very patient ladies at the London Coffee Festival last weekend. They gave me such a good piece of advice that I’m going to share it with you even if pointless university degrees are not your thing: narrow your focus!! I suppose that could be interpreted into some sort of life lesson, too?
Taking that on board, here’s me trying to un-narrow my baking repertoire by adding a vegetable to brownies. And here’s me again trying to un-narrow my waistline by adding a vegetable to brownies. And heres me again topping each brownie portion with half a crème egg…. 

It’s Easter soon and therefore completely relevant and not weird, okay? 
Let me just round this off by saying that beetroot and crème eggs go REALLY well together. Admittedly, grated beetroot folded into a brownie and then topped with an overly sweet (and therefore only acceptable at Easter time slash all year) confection is a far cry from perfect – think savoury chunks that, better welcomed in a summer salad. 

But if you puree the beety goodness it isn’t so nuanced. Its there, but the only thing hitting you in the face with flavour will be the caramelized fondant from the crème egg. 
Beetroot Crème Egg Brownies

Adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Chocolate & Beetroot Brownies 

150g unsalted butter
100g coconut oil
250g dark chocolate
200g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
200g self raising flour
250g boiled and pureed beetroot (I used a hand blender)
9 crème eggs 

Note: You can make this recipe with all butter and it taste delicious. The beetroot overpowers (in a good way!) any rich butteryness you might expect from an all butter brownie so I chose to add coconut oil for a bit of a healthy balance. Because the fats are melted together in the recipe, using all coconut oil and no butter would work perfectly too. 

Line a rectangular brownie pan with parchment and preheat the oven to 180 C. Carefully slice crème eggs in half lengthways, using the indent on the chocolate as a guide. Place the butter, oil and chocolate into a medium Pyrex and microwave for 2 minute, stopping and stirring every 3 seconds. Set aside once everything has melted together smoothly. In a larger bowl whisk the eggs and sugar until combined and slowly pour in the chocolate mixture, keep whisking until incorporated. Sift over the flour and stir in until just combined. Fold in the pureed beetroot until red streaks no longer visible. Pour the batter into the pan and dot with the half eggs. Bake for 25 minutes until slightly risen and firm to touch. Cool completely in the pan, slice up and serve.

PS, tips on how not to procrastinate are more than welcome!! 
Love Em xx

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Chocolate Rum Éclairs

Éclairs always remind me of our “female” family gets togethers. Auntie A is on her way round, then maybe auntie B will follow suit an hour or so later and she’ll bring the custard tarts from Tesco’s whilst we might provide the fresh cream and jam doughnuts from Morrison’s. Auntie A will be pouring the stovetop Turkish Tea into our tiny glass vessels in abundance and there will always be a whiff of brewed cloves to be smelt in the air. 
There’s nothing wrong with sharing and enjoying something sweet and mass packaged whilst having a good old moan from time to time, don’t you think? 

Most of our teatime favourites have one thing in common and that’s sweetened whipped cream, with added gelatin to help thicken and plump things up a bit and worryingly prolong its shelf life.

Sickening, really, how processed cream can taste so damn good.
But it’s the beginning of April, dissertation deadline is looming so I’m steering clear of processed cream, hoping it will promote– a ‘can do’ attitude (still cant do). 

The filling in these éclairs isn’t made with coconut milk residue. Make them with a cream with the highest fat content you can find, sugar and a touch of rum to round off the sweetness. It’ll take you back to the best bitching session you’ve ever had with your family.
Chocolate Rum Éclairs

Adapted from Richard Bertinet's 'Choux Pastry'

125g plain flour
225g/ml water
60g butter
Pinch of salt
4 eggs

Chantilly Cream
500ml double cream
Few drops of rum extract or rum alcohol
2 tbsp caster sugar

250g dark chocolate
50ml double cream
50g unsalted butter
Sea salt flakes

Preheat the oven to 170 C and line a large baking sheet with baking paper or lightly grease with a knob of butter (either works!). 

Make the choux. Bring the butter, salt and water to the boil on a medium heat. Once the butter has melted, gradually tip the flour in. Whisk vigorously until a ball forms. Switch to a wooden spoon and beat the dough until it no longer sticks to the sides of the pan and then cook through for one minute. Transfer to a freestanding mixture fitted with the paddle attachment (or grab an electric whisk) and beat another minute on medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time until you reach a glossy and pipe-able mixture. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large French or round nozzle. Pipe 10-12cm lines spaced two inches apart, pull the piping bag against the raw éclair, almost flicking the end back into it (re photo).  Bake for 15 minutes or until they’re puffed up and golden. Open the oven door for the last four minutes to let out the steam. Let cool completely. 

Take a small French nozzle and carve three holes out of the bottom of the éclairs using the tines of the nozzle (or poke with a sharp knife). Fit a piping bag with the same nozzle. Whip the cream, sugar and rum until soft peaks form and spoon into the piping bag. Gently squeeze the filling into the éclairs by filling from the holes made earlier. 

Make the chocolate. Place the chocolate and butter into a microwavable bowl big enough to dip the éclairs in. Melt the mixture in the mic and then stir in the cream. Reheat to loosen the chocolate if it becomes stiff, keep doing this if you need to. Dip the éclairs into the chocolate until half coated, shake twice to run off excess chocolate then place on drying rack. Leave to set. Store in the fridge, covered for three days max.
Love Em xx

Friday, 28 March 2014

Chocolate and Coconut Cake with Dulce De Leche and Cashews

A tremendous weight of guilt has been following me around this week because of how dormant mbakes has been recently. Mama and me have just moved into the most spacious flat to ever grace the industrial beast of Bexley known as Slade Green. Moving the contents of a three bedroom house into a flat is not easy, so this ugly cake (which carries with it the most indulgent pairings) was made for the woman who carried flat packs, heavy duty black bags and my ever growing and pointless collection of kitchen ‘bits’ to the second floor. 
And it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Waitrose, who offered to help me put together a cakey so and so for Mother’s Day. They’ve also put together a collection of lovely sweet recipes, Sophie literally turned their Victoria sponge into a berry tree and it was beautiful, I’m positive her mum would have been proud!
This was the last cake I made and shot beside a huge Victorian sized window (tear). The house itself was literally falling apart, unlike this squeaky clean and cream one. The photos oh here might be darker from now on, but behind it all, I think we’ll be much happier. 

If anyone has any tips for shooting in low light I’d be so grateful! 
I’ve had this hazelnut and dulce de leche quadruple layer chocolate cake indexed from the Aussy Delicious magazine for a good year now, but I was pretty sick of hazelnuts after baking this flourless chocolate cake for the fifth time. So I scattered in a good handful of sweet coconut and it added chewiness and taste to the cake likened to a Bounty bar. 
Yes it is just another chocolate cake, but it is positively spruced up with creamy cashews, generous spreads of dulce de leche and a very buttery chocolate icing. Just promise you’ll do a better job at decorating it for Mother’s Day. 
Chocolate and Coconut Cake with Dulce De Leche and Cashews 

411g dulce de leche (1 ½ tins)
170g unsalted butter, softened 
350g light brown sugar 
375g plain flour 
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp baking powder
500ml buttermilk 
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g sweetened shredded coconut
3 eggs, separated 

200g dark chocolate 
225g unsalted butter, softened
250g icing sugar
1 tpsp buttermilk 

170g dark chocolate
100g cashew nuts

Note: This recipe actually yields 4 cake layers, I may have muffed up the top layer (hence the slightly questionable appearance) so I had to chuck the top cake. Whatever you do, do not put the widest cake layer at the top because the chocolate will drip all over the place, not all seductively as it should. 

Make the cakes. Preheat oven to 170 C and line two 7” cake pans with baking paper. Melt chocolate over double boiler and set aside. Beat butter and sugar until pale. Add the yolks one by one followed by the melted chocolate. Pour vanilla into buttermilk. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the flour and buttermilk to the chocolate mixture in thirds, alternating between the two.  Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, fold them into the chocolate mixture and divide the batter among the pans. Divide mixture among pans. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool cakes. 

Make the icing. Melt chocolate over double boiler. Beat butter, buttermilk and icing sugar in a freestanding mixture on high speed until light and fluffy (3 minutes). Pour the melted chocolate in whilst the mixer is still running and mix until fully incorporated. 

Melt the rest of the chocolate (170g) over a double boiler. 

Assemble the cake. Split the cakes horizontally using a serrated knife and brush away the crumbs (there will be a lot!). Place the first layer on a cake plate and spread a quarter of the chocolate icing on top, then spread a quarter of the dulce de leche. Place the second layer on top and repeat – same with the third. Place the last cake on top and spread with the melted chocolate, letting it drip to the sides. Sprinkle with cashews and leftover coconut. Lasts for 3 days if kept covered. 
Thank you to mum, Russell, aunties, uncle and cousins for helping us move.

What will you be baking on Mother's Day?
Love Em xx

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Passionfruit and Lime Curd

Life is a bit hectic at the moment, which might explain the silence around here this week. We’re in the middle of moving to a new flat. I think you might agree that this is can be the most stressful few weeks in life. Moving an oven, beds, sofas, boxes upon boxes of kitchen utensils (I’m that kitchen equipment hoarder person) and other unbearably heavy objects through the most unrealistic spaces is on the horizon and it’s going to hurt.

I hope you’ll be patient and the next time I post I promise it won’t be a condiment. Saying that, this stuff disintegrates on the tongue and has the silkiest feel, shortly followed by the strongest kick of citrus I’ve ever experienced. It thickens up pretty quick, and you wont want to browse through your phone whilst you whisk away because you might just be mesmerised by the most beautiful shades of yellow melding together in the pan.

Passionfruit and Lime Curd

3 passionfruits
Juice of 4 limes, zest of 1
3 large eggs
75g caster sugar
75g unsalted butter

Place the seeded pulp of the passionfruits into a food processor. Pulse 3 times to loosen the seeds from the pulp and pass through a sieve into a small bowl - set the seeds aside. Add the eggs, sugar and juice of 4 limes to a small bowl and mix to combine. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the passionfruit pulp and egg mixture to the saucepan and whisk continuously until thickened - around 2 minutes. As soon as the mixture thickens, continue mixing whilst it bubbles away for 1 minute, add the zest of the lime and take the curd off the heat. Let cool for 5 minutes and then add the passionfruit seeds. If the mixture is lumpy pass it through a sieve, but if you continuously whisk you should have a smooth mixture. Pour into a sterilised jar, let cool and refrigerate. Lasts for 5 days.
Love Em xx
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