Vegetarian food blog featuring nourishing home cooked recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

We Should Cocoa – the Sugar Free Round-up

We Should Cocoa | 31st January 2013 | By

As January comes to a close and some of us have kept to our resolutions, I am particularly pleased to see so many creative and delicious ideas for chocolate recipes without beet or cane sugar – 27 in total. It was a good opportunity for some to go raw as well as sugar free; many now argue that raw foods are better for our health and we should include more in our diets. Dates were the main sweetening agent of choice, they are particularly good as they also add bulk. Making brown food substances look attractive is really quite an art, but everyone seems to have pulled it off successfully. I was pleased to find that many found this month’s theme a real challenge, after all, I don’t want to lose my status as bad cop all together.

Jen of Blue Kitchen Bakes is hosting We Should Cocoa next month, so do look out for February’s ingredient on her blog tomorrow.

Jill of Lapin d’Or and More kicks things off with perhaps not quite such a healthy offering, although I would imagine meat eaters would find it a jolly delicious one. Her inspiration for this chocolate, stilton and bacon toasted sandwich came from Paul A Young’s Adventures in Chocolate.

I was so pleased with these raw chocolate truffles that I shall be making them again and again. The main constituents are Medjool dates, cashew nuts and cocoa, but these had a few other ingredients thrown in to make them additionally nutritious.

Over at Elizabeth’s Kitchen, things got interesting – pony poo anyone? Designed to give a natural and nutritious boost after visiting the gym, these baked post-workout protein bites did the trick. Pony poo notwithstanding, both Elizabeth and her children found them to be very tasty. And what’s inspired these trips to the gym? She’s training to be a lifeboat volunteer.

A chocolate detox drink sounds like a bit of a contradiction, but Sarah of Maison Cupcake has invented just such a wonder. Her shrink mummy shake has me off to the shops later to buy some bananas, not something you see that often in this household.

Brownies, being one of my many weaknesses, I was thrilled to discover that Suelle of Mainly Baking managed to get some in to this challenge. Who would have thought you could have a sugar-free brownie? Well Suelle did for one. She reports that these date and maple brownies are light and cake-like, but also moist and tasty.

Our first non-brown photograph brings us more raw truffles from Ruth of Makey-Cakey. These chocolate, date and pistachio truffles were a goodbye offering to her work colleagues as she started a new job earlier this month. I do love pistachios and rolling the truffles in green nuts makes them look really pretty. Congratulations Ruth and good luck.

Made with dried pineapple rings from St Lucia and coconut flakes, this “super healthy” pineapple, coconut and chocolate ripple frozen yogurt looks to be pure delight. Claire of Under the Blue Gum Tree whilst not being completely overwhelmed with the whole sugar-free thing, thought this “wasn’t bad at all”.

Our third raw chocolate entry is from Jen of Blue Kitchen Bakes. She won a raw chocolate making kit at Christmas and used some of the chocolate to top her raw vegan cookies. These raw chocolate, oat and currant cookies have been cleverly pressed into stars. I’ve not come across raw cookies before so I will now have to try some for myself. Sweet Freedom, made from carob, apples and grapes is the sweetener used here.

With a baby who’s just learnt to walk and two young boys, food for energy is just what is needed in the CityHippyFarmGirl household. Luckily these chocolate agave energy balls pack a punch and sound quite delicious. These are sweetened with agave and honey, although Brydie states agave can be substituted for the honey.

 

Corina of Searching for Spice was inspired by the sugar-free theme to have a go at using cocoa in a savoury recipe. Her Mexican chicken stew turned out to be a complete success – hooray.

Now this banana, spelt and pecan loaf, may, er, have a little white chocolate drizzled on the top, which isn’t strictly sugar free, but Laura of How to Cook Good Food assures me, it’s very good without it. It sounds like a very nice loaf indeed and is sweetened with honey.

Sweetened with a mixture of maple syrup and orchard syrup, these vaguely healthy sticky choc-toffee puddings sound truly scrumptious. Gill of Tales of Pigling Bland thought they had a hint of fruitiness from the orchard syrup, which luckily she seemed to approve of.

Snowy of Cookbooks Galore has used pureed dates as a sweetener in the past, so was happy to try out this recipe for chocolate date muffins when she came across it. The consensus seems to be that dates act as a good sweetener as they are very sweet, the taste doesn’t overwhelm and they are healthy too.

And here’s another We Should Cocoa host who has sneaked a bit of chocolate in! The excuse that Natalie of The HungryHinny gave was that the Pony needs his treats for work and wouldn’t eat it without chocolate. Well what can you do? These wheat, dairy and (almost) sugar free chocolate oat bars look wonderful. Sweetened with honey and with peanut butter as one of the ingredients, I’m sure they tasted delicious too.

One of my resolutions this year is to stick to my one day of fasting a week. However, I know lots have other dieting resolutions. One diet I have not heard of until Mari of the Nutty Tart bought my attention to it, is the Paleo Diet. From what I can gather, this seems to be going back to the diet of our ancestors (sort of) and cutting out refined foods, starch and sugars. Anyway, as Mari put it herself, she went caveman this month and baked the Paleo diet chocolate cake – lucky cavemen I say!

Of all the energy bars, truffles and bites that have been baked for We Should Cocoa this month, I don’t think any of them have been so prettily packaged as Janice’s chocolate cherry energy bars. She admits herself she was a little put off at the idea of sugar free, but thankfully persisted and these delicious bars may now be making a regular appearance on the Farmersgirl Kitchen breakfast table.

Spring cleaning got off to an early start over at Corner Cottage Bakery – a clean up of spices. To use up her spare spices, Hannah created a tasty looking chocolate version of the Egyptian spice mix dukkah – cocoa dukkah.

Elizabeth from The Law Student’s Cookbook had a first attempt at chocolate mousse using stevia, but wasn’t happy with it. She then opted to try cocoa in her first ever savoury dish. Thankfully, her cocoa and curry rubbed chicken worked much better.

Over at Caroline Makes, things weren’t going quite so well. A possible overdose of cocoa in this Mexican chicken in mole sauce might account for Caroline’s dislike of the dish. In the spirit of all things Mexican, she consoled herself with a margarita which was much more to her liking.

Chicken has proven to be a firm favourite this month, so much so that Dom of couldn’t resist putting his famous thighs on show again. For those not yet familiar with Dom’s thighs you may (or may not) want to head over to his exuberant blog Belleau Kitchen. Apple butter chicken thighs with cocoa nibs may not be my thing, but despite the little bit of cheating that went on, I can imagine how that would be if it was tempeh or even halloumi that was treated this way – mmmm.

 

 

Luckily, after all this savoury excitment, Mel of Sharky Oven Gloves is giving us some sweet delights in the form of peanut butter and cocoa nibbed cookies massively sweetened by honey. Challenged she might have been, but what a delightful bake has come out of it.

Well take a look at these carrot & coconut muffins with chocolate topping from The Golden Pear. It’s not just any old chocolate topping and it’s something I’m now very keen to try. The muffins are gluten and dairy free, being made with coconut oil and flour respectively and sweetened with honey. The topping is luxuriously and unusually made with avocado and again sweetened with honey.

There is something about the word nectar which just conjures up something completely sublime. Linzi from Lancashire Food had my mouth watering straight away just from the title of her agave nectar chocolate cake.

Quinoa is one of my favourite grains (although it’s not strictly a grain). I’ve cooked with the flour before, but these quinoa cookie cakes from Nutritious Deliciousness are interestingly baked with the whole grain and thus a new concept to me. The sweetener used here was coconut sugar, which is meant to have a lower glycemic index than cane sugar, honey and agave.

Energy balls have got to top this month’s list for popularity. Helen of Fuss Free Flavours used her new dehydrator to make these chocolate, orange, date and seed energy balls. The inclusion of apricots and peanut butter has got me itching to have another go at making some myself.

Honey cake is one of my favourite things and this honey cake not only has chocolate in, but look deliciously gooey and brownie like. Chocolate honey traybake from Utterly Scrummy Food for Families.

Now how about this brilliant recipe from Lucy The KitchenMaid? It’s perhaps not a recipe we would want to tuck into, but cocoa bean husks are an excellent ingredient for the garden which can produce lots of lovely things to eat. What I’m wondering is, do the vegetables end up tasting of chocolate – now wouldn’t that be something?

Spelt, Rye and Berry Cookies and a Cocoa Comparison

Biscuits, Chocolate Reviews | 28th January 2013 | By

Biscuit recipes are my new obsession, especially easy biscuit recipes. I’ve always liked biscuits of course, but when it comes to baking, cake has always taken precedence over biscuits and cookies. I suspect being given Biscuit by Miranda Gore Browne as a birthday present last year has something to do with it. A whole book dedicated to biscuits puts a different spin on things. It stayed at the top of my pile of bedside reading for a long time. Despite this, I’ve only made one recipe from the book: blackcurrant and white chocolate biscuits – until now that is. We were off to spend the afternoon with friends and biscuits being quick and portable were an ideal bake to take along. To fit in with my supposed Healthy January, I went to Miranda’s Almost Healthy Biscuits section of the book for inspiration. I got no further than the very first recipe, Super Berry Heroes – excellent, some healthy goji berries and blueberries to give a much needed nutrient boost would be my berries of choice. Not only did these contain an interesting flour mix of spelt and rye, but also included cocoa.

I was recently sent a jolly red pot of Food Thoughts fairtrade, organic cocoa powder to try out and I was very keen to do so. Green & Black’s being fairtrade and organic is my go to cocoa, but it’s always nice to have some choice. As soon as I saw the organic status was certified by the Soil Association, I felt reassured as they and Demeter are the only certifying bodies I really trust. Fairtrade is really the only way to go – cocoa is a luxury and the people that grow it should be properly recompensed for their efforts. This cocoa comes from the Dominican Republic.

I thought it would be fun to do a taste test with the three cocoas I happened to have in the house: Food Thoughts, Green & Blacks and Bournville. As well as the obvious colour differences, they were all quite distinctive in taste. Bournville is a very pale powder with a sweetish taste, but is rather insipid and lacks character. Green & Black’s is very dark, robust and bitter. Food Thoughts is midway between the other two in terms of colour but has a richer chocolate taste than either. However, in terms of packaging, Bournville gets the brownie points. The Bournville pot is about 3/4 of the size of the Food Thoughts one and yet they both contain 125g – when waste is such a big issue for us, over packaging is unnecessary and undesirable.

We are a household of regular cocoa drinkers, but make it with no sugar, mostly water and just a dash of milk. I was interested to compare this with our usual Green & Blacks.  In addition to the colour difference, we immediately noticed it had a more refined taste. It was smoother and less bitter and we really liked it.

This is how I made

Blueberry, Goji Berry, Spelt & Rye Cookies

  • Creamed 120g salted butter with 100g vanilla (golden caster) sugar and 85g muscovado sugar until soft and pale.
  • Beat in 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and one duck egg.
  • Sieved in 60g wholemeal spelt flour and 80g rye flour, together with 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1/4 tsp baking powder and 1 tbsp cocoa powder (Food Thoughts).
  • Added 85g rolled oats.
  • Grated in 1/8 tsp nutmeg and mixed together.
  • Stirred in 40g goji berries and 50g dried wild blueberries.
  • Rolled teaspoonfuls of mixture between my hands to make about 30 walnut sized balls.
  • Placed well apart on lined baking trays and baked at 180C for 13 minutes.
  • Left to cool for a couple of minutes, then transferred to a wire rack to cool completely.
In CT’s expert opinion, these biscuits were “rather good”. Crisp on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside with lots of texture. The cocoa added to the general flavour without being obviously chocolatey, which was absolutely fine. The spicy nutmeg flavour permeates the whole biscuit in a rather delightful way. Although there was no ginger present, they reminded us both of gingerbread in its best form.

Food Thoughts Cocoa is available at Sainsbury’s and retails at £2.20

Bread & Butter Chocolate Pudding

Pudding, Sugar-Free | 25th January 2013 | By

Just before my January healthy eating resolve dissolved, I was sent some sachets of Truvia to use. The sachets come in 1/3 of a teaspoon and are really designed for use in cups of tea or coffee. One sachet is equivalent to a teaspoon of sugar. There has been a re-emergence of interest in stevia recently which is the main constituent of Truvia. Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) is a plant which tastes incredibly sweet, but has zero calories, making it quite tempting as a sugar substitute. It does have a bit of an acquired taste, but in all its years of use, no negative effects have yet been proven. You can find more about Truvia here.

Anyway, I don’t like sweet drinks so had no interest in using it in my cup of tea. Instead I had some left over bread I thought would lend itself very nicely to a bread and butter pudding. It’s been years since I made this very British pudding – I have no idea why I’ve waited this long because it’s a really good one. I also had some lovely fairtrade chocolate to finish off, so I included that along with the bread.

Sugar Free Bread and Butter Chocolate Pudding Recipe (almost!)

This is what I did to feed 4:

  • Buttered a small Pyrex casserole dish.
  • Cut 14 slices of a large white baguette – about 1 cm thick.
  • Spread each slice with butter.
  • Laid 7 slices at the bottom of the dish.
  • Chopped 60g of dark chocolate (TraidCraft 72%) and scattered half over the bread slices.
  • Layered the remaining bread over the top and scattered on the remaining chocolate.
  • Whisked 2 eggs well with 200ml milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 3 level teaspoons of Truvia.
  • Poured this over the bread and left to soak for 15 minutes.
  • Baked in the middle of the oven at 180C for 25 minutes.

This turned out even better than I was hoping; I had been concerned that the chocolate on the top would burn, but no, it melted beautifully. The top was crisp and buttery and the bottom was smooth and custardy. The chocolate gave it an added richness that turned it from an everyday pudding (as if I made puddings every day) into a special event. We ate it warm whilst the chocolate was still melted and it felt truly decadent, but really wasn’t. The Truvia gave just the right level of sweetness, but had an aftertaste which is not unpleasant, but takes some getting used to if you are unfamiliar with it. Greedy souls that we are, CT and I consumed the whole thing in one sitting. It was soooo worth it. At least we knew the sugar count was low!

I am submitting this to Calendar cakes, a monthly blogging event hosted by Laura Loves Cakes and Dolly Bakes. The theme this month is for a healthy New Year, New You so I hope this virtually sugar free pudding fits the bill.

As I was using up left over bread and chocolate (not sure that one counts really, as I never find it difficult to use chocolate) I’m entering this into Credit Crunch Munch which you can find out about with hosts Fab Food for All and Fuss Free Flavours.

Chilli and Chocolate Mincemeat Slice

5 Star, Christmas, Traybakes | 22nd January 2013 | By

When it came to the Winter Solstice bonfire party a friend was hosting last year, I knew exactly what I wanted to bring along. I’d spotted this fabulous mincemeat slice recipe over at How to Cook Good Food the previous week and thought it would be just the sort of filling treat to keep us warm on a cold and damp winter’s night. They would be especially warming as I wanted to use the chilli and chocolate mincemeat I’d made a couple of weeks earlier.

This is how I made them:

  • Creamed 190g unsalted butter with 175g dark muscovado sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Sieved in 180g wholemeal spelt flour and 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda.
  • Added 100g rolled oats and stirred to combine – with difficulty as the mixture was quite dry.
  • Put just over half the mixture into a 9” square mould and pressed it flat to cover the mould. I realised at this point that I didn’t really have enough mixture to do this in such a large container (although I did increase Laura’s quantities very slightly). Next time I will increase the quantities further.
  • Spooned in a jar of mincemeat – about 300g to cover the base.
  • Added a small egg to the last part of the dough mixture to make it go a little further and spread more easily.
  • Spread this on top of the mincemeat.
  • Baked at 170C for 30 minutes.
  • Allowed to cool, dusted with icing sugar, then cut into 16 slices.

The slices were a great success and something I may now be baking with monotonous regularity. Even CT, not a lover of mincemeat, enjoyed his slice. They were indeed just right for the evening, as we did get rather chilly and damp; the rain decided to descend just as the bonfire was lit. It was a magical scene however, with lanterns set amongst the trees as though we had surprised a gathering of the local piskies. Maybe they weren’t too happy to have their secret revealed; when I went to check my camera, no pictures were to be found. Bowls of steaming soup, hunks of bread and fine company kept us in good cheer and we had a lovely evening.

What mincemeat recipes would you recommend?

I’m submitting this to Bookmarked Recipes hosted by Jac over at Tinned Tomatoes.

I’m also submitting this to Made with Love Mondays, the weekly made from scratch event over at Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w/ Luv.

Christmas Hampers, Food Gifts & Nibbles

Uncategorized | 19th January 2013 | By


This post featuring foodie gifts may seem a little late, or even very premature, but the Christmas festivities are never over for us until my mother has had her Christmas dinner, featuring a locally reared free range goose and something special for me. Sometimes this happens on Christmas Day, sometimes on New Year’s Eve, which is her birthday and sometimes it’s later. For Christmas 2012, we were all away on a big family gathering at one of my aunts near Cambridge. My mother decided to extend her stay for a couple of weeks so has not had a chance to have her dinner until today.

Usually, it is my prerogative to bring along a dessert to complement my mother’s famous Christmas pudding (the only one CT will eat). However, this year, she has that already sorted so I am bringing the pre-dinner nibbles instead. As well as various nuts, I have marinated some olives, originating from a friend’s place in Liguria, with olive oil and oregano.

I’ve also made some of Nigella’s Parmesan shortbreads that look so very tempting on the BBC food site, but look completely different here. Luckily, they taste wonderfully naughty and I’ve found it very difficult to keep CT at bay and save the majority to take with me today. One of the guests is gluten sensitive, so although these are not completely gluten free, I made them with half gluten free flour and half wholemeal spelt, so the gluten level is very low. Spelt flour can often be tolerated when standard wheat flour cannot. In making the mix, I found it was far too dry, perhaps because these flours absorb more liquid than plain white wheat flour. I ended up adding the white of the egg as well as the yolk and a tablespoon of water. When I cut the rounds (43 in total), they flattened out into rectangles and ended up looking like mini slices of toast I thought – quite cute really.

As these are a Nigella special I am entering them into Forever Nigella, a monthly blog event from Maison Cupcake. This month is being hosted by Recipe Junkie and the Attack of the Custard Creams and the theme is Food to Cherish Your Loved Ones. Making these virtually gluten free is a loving touch I reckon and they will also be shared out lovingly amongst our friends.

So what were in my Christmas hampers in 2012?

Fig, Apple and Pomegranate Jam
Chilli & Chocolate Mincemeat
Chewy Apricot & White Chocolate Cookies
Cinnamon & Honey Christmas Stars
Rosemary Chocolate Truffles
Cookies in a Jar
Ginger Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies
Mincemeat Buns
Chocolate Spoons & Dinosaurs
Peppermint Bark – yet to be posted
Almond and Cinnamon Balls from Belleau Kitchen
Chill ChocolateMincemeat Slices
Chocolate Coated Caramel Brazils
Chocolate Crackles – yet to be posted
Breton Butter Biscuits
Vanilla Extract
Lemon Marmalade

 

Nigel Slater’s Chocolate Cookies

4 Star, Biscuits | 16th January 2013 | By

Not having a television, I don’t get to see cookery programmes very often. However, I do remember seeing an episode of Nigel Slater’s Simple Suppers a year or so ago where Nigel made some sumptuous chocolate cookies that have stayed in my mind ever since. When fans Janice of Farmersgirl Kitchen and Sue of A Little Bit of Heaven on a Plate announced a new blog event Dish of the Month, I knew exactly what I wanted to make – in spite of my Healthy January.

As regular readers know, I am incapable of following a recipe exactly as stated – I tend to use recipes as guidelines and like to think that all good recipes are written for this purpose anyway. You will find Nigel’s recipe here. Really and truly, I tried hard and fully intended to follow it precisely, because when it comes down to it, who am I to argue with the great Nigel? But then again, I couldn’t actually bring myself to use all white flour. Not only do I like to get a little roughage into my baked goods by using spelt or wholemeal flour, but I think it makes them tastier too. As Nigel’s recipe is meant to be eaten with raspberries, but hey, it’s not raspberry season at the moment, I thought I’d use some raspberry chocolate instead, thereby coming up with my own chocolate, hazelnut and raspberry cookies. I used two bars of Divine’s Fairtrade 70% dark chocolate with raspberries.

Although Nigel didn’t specify in the recipe to place the cookies well apart, I am an experienced baker and knew that’s what I really ought to do. But, I was in a hurry and wanted to get them all on the same baking sheet. Plus I’ve had a horrible virus which has lasted for over three weeks now and I’m not really thinking straight – that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it! So, the inevitable happened and these wonderful cookies spread and all merged into one.

The smell of roasting hazelnuts is just one of the best and in the process of creating these cookies, the house was filled with their gorgeous smell. So, when they came out of the oven, I just couldn’t resist eating one straight away. It was warm, soft and toothsome and would make a delicious dessert in its own right with a scoop of ice-cream.

When they cooled down, I tried them again – naturally! My conclusion was that they were chocolate brownies in biscuit form, slightly crisp around the edges, but mostly soft and fudgy. They were very sweet, thoroughly chocolatey and pleasantly hazelnutty with the flavour of raspberries as a fruity backdrop.

Chocolate Greeting Cards – Giveaway #21

Giveaway | 14th January 2013 | By

Continuing the theme of a healthy January, I have a chocolate giveaway for you that shouldn’t put on any pounds. Noble Works is a US site that sells humorous birthday and greetings cards. They sent me a selection of chocolate themed cards and have offered up the same set of six for one of my readers.

I’m not sure these are quite in my style; I’m nowhere near glamourous enough, but I had to agree with the sentiments expressed in one: “What do I call a small box of chocolate? Not enough“. They are a bit of fun and I think I have friends who will appreciate them. They all come with red envelopes and are delivered to your door from Hoboken, Noo Joizy (New Jersey).

Noble Works have kindly offered readers of Chocolate Log Blog a 35% discount when they buy online by using the following code – CHOCO.

Giveaway

This giveaway is open to any readers anywhere in the world.
To be in with a chance of winning, please fill in the Rafflecopter below. You will need to leave a comment on this post which then gives you additional chances to enter if you so wish. Rafflecopter will pick a winner at random from the entries received. Please give me some way of identifying you in the comment section as I will be verifying the validity of entries and will always check back to the comments to ensure that part has been done. Any automated entries will be disqualified. Winners will need to respond within 7 days of being contacted. Failure to do this may result in another winner being picked.
Prizes are offered and provided by Noble Works and Chocolate Log Blog accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of said third party.

If you need help on how to enter using Rafflecopter, here is a quick clip to show you how.

Closing date is Tuesday 12 February 2013

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Chocolate, Cardamom and Marmalade Loaf

Loaf Cakes | 12th January 2013 | By

Lovely CT bought me two books for Christmas, one was The Dessert Deli by Laura Amos, a book full of luscious and decedent desserts and the other was the acclaimed Scandilicious Baking by Signe Johansen, cook and fellow food blogger. I was particularly thrilled by the latter as I’ve heard much about Scandinavian baking, but actually know very little about it.

With the theme for Tea Time Treats being zesty citrus this month and the theme for One Ingredient being oranges, I was keen to make some sort of marmalade cake. I had a look on Eat Your Books and came up with a number of delicious and suitable recipes, but before going ahead, I thought I’d just check my new acquisition (not yet added to EYB). I have to say, I wasn’t very hopeful as marmalade is not something I associate with Scandinavia, but I was wrong. Signe had a recipe for a chocolate and orange marmalade loaf cake. That was the one for me, or at least the one I was going to adapt. As well as a jar of marmalade that needed using up, I also had half a small jar of the lemon marmalade I made just before Christmas – I fancied a St Clements Marmalade Cake. I’d also got it into my head that cardamom would pair very nicely with marmalade. Actually, I knew it did, due to the success of the nonnettes I made this time last year. So I omitted both the coffee and vanilla stated and added some ground cardamom instead.

This is how I did it:

  • Spooned 100 ml Seville orange marmalade and 100 ml lemon marmalade into a small bowl.
  • Juiced one large orange and stirred this into the marmalade.
  • Melted 100g salted butter and 200g runny honey in a pan over gentle heat, then left to cool slightly.
  • Sifted 200g flour (100g wholemeal, 80g white, 20g buckwheat) into a large bowl with 2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp rock salt.
  • Sifted in 50g ground almonds and 50g cocoa powder.
  • Ground the seeds from 2 cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar and added this to the mix.
  • Made a well in the centre and poured in the butter and started to mix.
  • Added 2 medium eggs, mixing them in one by one, working outwards from the middle.
  • Added 2 tbsp yogurt and continued to mix.
  • Added half of the marmalade mixture and stirred until all incorporated.
  • Finally, stirred in 100 ml of warm water.
  • Poured the mixture into a 2 lb loaf mould and baked at 180C for 40 minutes.
  • Whilst still hot, pricked the cake all over with a skewer and poured the remaining marmalade mixture over the top.
  • Left to cool, then turned out onto a plate to serve.

This was my first introduction to Scandinavian baking and it won’t be my last; we both really enjoyed this cake. My photographs have by no means done it justice and I was a little disappointed with the holes, but it was moist with a sticky top or as CT described it (not very diplomatically I thought) “reassuringly pudding like”. Pudding like it may be, but its restrained sweetness means it probably won’t be as popular with the children. The cardamom flavour did as I hoped and complemented the citrussy tang and bitterness of the marmalade. It gained the seal of approval from my mother, who is a little hard to please when it comes to cakes.

As stated above, I am entering this into One Ingredient with Laura of How to Cook Good Food and Nazima of Franglais Kitchen.
This is my zingy start to the New Year and my entry to Tea Time Treats with Karen of Lavender and Lovage and Kate of What Kate Baked.

As I used up two half jars of marmalade, I am sneaking this into the new Credit Crunch Munch event started by Camilla of Fab Food for All and Helen of Fuss Free Flavours.

Matcha Cocoa Nibbed Shortbread and a Giveaway #20

Biscuits, Giveaway, Tea | 8th January 2013 | By

Since CT first bought some matcha back from Japan a few years ago, I have been in love with the stuff. Matcha is a Japanese green tea, very finely ground and stirred into hot water to make a beautiful bright green beverage. It also works wonderfully well in baking, where it not only gives a lovely colour, but acts as a good foil for all that sweetness. Here are some of the ways I’ve already used it:

When I was sent a packet of ceremonial matcha to try recently from Matcha Factory, I got very excited. It’s been a while since I had any to drink and even longer since I did any baking with it. Tea is a serious business in Japan and ceremonial matcha is the finest grade available, made from the youngest and sweetest leaves. It is thus the most expensive; this 50g packet costs £18.95. If you are interested in using matcha for baking purposes only, then a coarser and cheaper version would be fine.

The tea gave me the opportunity to try out the two new glasses I recently picked up for 40p in one of our local charity shops. The tea itself has a unique and distinctive flavour which I took to very readily.

Matcha is a bit of a wonder and guess what? It has achieved “superfood” status. It is reported to have 137 times the antioxidants of normal green tea and is said to increase the metabolism, boost the immune system, improve concentration and help the body fight cancer.

Given these wondrous properties, the shortbread biscuits I made with it, are ideal fare for  the leaner, meaner, healthier month of January. Yes there is some sugar in them, but for biscuits, it’s a relatively small amount and it’s balanced by all the matcha health benefits. I’ve used half wholemeal spelt in the mix and wholewheat semolina rather than white. Cocoa nibs are packed full of another set of health giving properties and the matcha element has already been covered.

This is how I made matcha cocoa nibbed shortbread

  • Creamed 75g vanilla sugar (caster) with 150g salted butter until light and fluffy.
  • Added 1 tbsp matcha and creamed some more.
  • Sifted in 100g wholemeal spelt flour, 100g white flour and 50g wholewheat semolina.
  • Stirred to combine until a sandy mixture was achieved.
  • Halved the mixture and pressed into two 6″ (15 cm) tin foil flan cases.
  • Pricked all over with a fork.
  • Baked at 150C for 25 minutes.
  • Dusted one with vanilla (caster) sugar and cut into triangles and turned the other one out onto a board before dusting with sugar.

Oh my, this shortbread was good. It was lovely and soft and melted in the mouth with added textural interest being added by the chewy cocoa nibs. The flavour was perfect for me, not too strong but well defined and of course, I adore the colour. If you prefer something a little sweeter, you could substitute the cocoa nibs for the chocolate of your choice chopped into bits or even leave out the chocolate element all together.

Giveaway – not only have I been offered a 50g packet of ceremonial matcha to giveaway to one lucky reader, but it comes with a whisk (chasen) and scoop so you can create your own authentic cup of Japanese tea. This is worth over £40. 
To be in with a chance of winning, please fill in the Rafflecopter below. You will need to leave a comment on this post which then gives you additional chances to enter if you so wish. Rafflecopter will pick a winner at random from the entries received. Please give me some way of identifying you in the comment section as I will be verifying the validity of entries and will always check back to the comments to ensure that part has been done. Any automated entries will be disqualified. This giveaway is only open to those with a UK postal address. Winners will need to respond within 7 days of being contacted. Failure to do this may result in another winner being picked.
Prizes are offered and provided by Matcha Factory and Chocolate Log Blog accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of said third party.

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Closing date is Wednesday 5 February 2013

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Raw Chocolate Truffles – We Should Cocoa #29

Dates are something I have a long association with, not just at Christmas. I grew up on date and banana sandwiches and I scoffed a fair few fresh ones during my various stays in Egypt. Fresh dates are something else all together, but as these are very hard to come by in the UK, Medjool dates are the next best thing and are in fact known as the “Fruit of Kings”. If you haven’t tried these before, they are big, plump, soft, fleshy and very sweet with a rich honeyed caramel flavour and make an excellent sweet treat all on their own. I was sent a beautiful gold box of twenty Medjool dates to try before Christmas. Apart from eating some of them just as they were, I had plans to stuff them with homemade marzipan and dip them in chocolate. Sadly, time ran out as time does and these plans didn’t materialise. Post Christmas, I’m keen to have something healthier, but I still want to make use of them as an ingredient.

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