This month We Should Cocoa teamed up with Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream (BSFIC) for an icy chocolate extravaganza which is #WeShouldBSFIC. January may not be your favourite time for eating ice cream or other frozen treats, but some of you hardy souls rose to the challenge with enthusiasm. Hop over to Kavey Eats to see her round-up.
Look out for next month’s #WeShouldCocoa with Katie, over at Recipe for Perfection.
When Kavey suggested teaming up this month with her Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream challenge, I knew immediately what I wanted to make. For my birthday last year, CT gave me the most luscious chocolate book by Rick and Michael Mast. I spend a considerable amount of time salivating over the pictures in Mast Brothers chocolate: a family cookbook and planning what I’m going to make from it; strangely not very much so far. One of the pictures I found particularly striking was the Frozen Chocolate Pops and now I had no more excuses not to make them.
Another book that passed briefly through my hands recently was Miranda Gore Browne’s Bake Me a Cake as Fast as You Can. It has lots of easy to bake cakes which all sound quite delicious, but the one that caught my eye was Brighton Cake. It’s a very old fashioned and simple cake where you rub the butter into the flour rather than creaming it. A bit of nostalgia crept in when I saw it and a burning need to use up some very old jars of jam.
Never let it be said that I fail to keep my powder dry. Here’s a post I’ve just found from August 2012 that has yet to see the light of day on my blog – until now.
Not a grand cake for CTs birthday, but a nice simple one that would travel well and his mother would enjoy. The day after his birthday CT was leaving to visit her for a few days and given that we were going to spend his actual birthday out and about I didn’t think there would be much room left for cake anyway. With an organic lemon in need of using up and some home made lemon curd, it had to be some sort of lemon cake. When I did a search on Eat Your Books for lemon and chocolate, a recipe for lemon drizzle with chocolate chunks came up from G&Bs Unwrapped. Brilliant, I would make the lemon cake, swirl through some lemon curd rather than adding chocolate and make a chocolate topping instead.
This is how I made:
Lemon Cake with Chocolate Icing
- Creamed 125g unsalted butter and 125g cardamom sugar (caster) until light and fluffy.
- Grated in the zest of one large organic lemon and creamed some more.
- Beat in 2 large eggs, one by one.
- Sifted in 150g flour (half wholemeal, half white) and 1 heaped tsp of baking powder.
- Added 1 tbsp of milk and 1 tbsp lemon juice and stirred gently until just incorporated.
- Spooned into a 2lb loaf mould and baked at 180C for 40 minutes until well risen and a toothpick inserted into the middle came out more or less clean.
- Turned out onto a rack to cool.
- Simmered 25g caster sugar with 25ml water for a couple of minutes.
- Allowed to cool a little, then stirred in 40g of chopped milk chocolate (G&B 35%).
- Stirred until smooth, then added 5g unsalted butter.
- When cool but still just about runny, poured this over the cake.
- Decorated with yellow sugar strands.
I was right, we were so full from lunch, we only managed a small slice each when we got home. The cake was delicious though and my concern that lemon wouldn’t go desperately well with chocolate was unfounded. It tasted just like Madeira cake and because I’d forgotten to add the lemon curd, it wasn’t too lemony.
Despite a really busy week at work I managed to take the day off. In true botanist style, CT chose to spend the day visiting gardens and nurseries in and around the English Riveria – in other words, across the border and into Devon. Amazingly it didn’t rain and we had a lovely day. We had lunch at The Combe Sellers, a pub restaurant right on the banks of the River Teign. The food was really good and the setting was lovely. As well as a celebratory glass of Pimms, we finished up with a sharing dessert platter which was responsible for us only managing a sliver of cake when we got home!
It just so happens that this month’s Love Cake theme over at JibberJabberUK is Feeling Fruity. So this lemon cake is winging its way in that direction.
As some of you may know, I’ve been drinking matcha for the last few days. I’m taking part in the teapigs #MatchaChallenge which involves consuming half a teaspoon of this amazing green tea every day for two weeks. High time to have a change from just drinking matcha and get baking with it too, I reckoned. I wanted to make something that was portable, would fit in a lunch box and was not too unhealthy. Matcha biscuits with spelt flour and dark chocolate chips were my solution to this conundrum. Rather than incorporate chocolate throughout, I chose the chips so the beautiful green colour could shine through.
As soon as I started creaming the butter and sugar, I realised I should have used coconut oil and rapadura instead. This would have given an even healthier and no less delicious new year matcha cookie. Oh well, next time.
The biscuits turned out just as I’d hoped, crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle with a lovely green hue to them. Annoyingly, I couldn’t get this to show in the photographs. There was no mistaking the matcha flavour which went well with the dark chocolate. The spelt gave a slight nuttiness and bizarrely the biscuits almost tasted of peanut butter. Manageing to eat two and half large cookies to get my required half teaspoon, was a little much, even for me; a hot cup of matcha tea remedied the situation.
Tea Time Treats has gone off piste this month and is actually all about lunch boxes rather than a groaning tea table. These biscuits (or cookies if you prefer) work well, both in a lunch box and for tea. CT can attest to both. Hosted this month by Janie over at The Hedge Combers, Karen of Lavender and Lovage will be taking a keen interest too.
Innovation and Discoveries is the theme for The Biscuit Barrel this month. Having felt rather forlorn last month when I baked something for this challenge, only to find it wasn’t there, I am now super excited to find that Alexandra over at The Lass in the Apron is holding the fort whilst Laura from I’d Much Rather Bake Than … finishes off her degree. Very sensible.
- 100g unsalted butter
- 100g golden caster sugar (I used cardamom sugar)
- 1 large egg (I used a duck egg)
- 100g light muscovado sugar
- 150g flour (I used half wholemeal spelt, half white)
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- pinch of Himalayan pink rock salt
- 3 tsp matcha
- 75g 70% dark chocolate buttons (or chopped)
- Cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the egg.
- Sift in the flour, baking powder, salt and matcha. Stir until just combined.
- Stir in the chocolate.
- Leave in a cool place to firm up a little.
- Place tablespoons of batter onto a lined baking tray (I made 15) and form into a rough circle.
- Bake at 180°C for about 12 minutes or until the cookies are firm. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.
January is the traditional time to follow through with good intentions and try for a healthier lifestyle. I am always full of New Year’s resolutions and sometimes I actually manage to pull them off. This year I have set myself a tough one, but as it doesn’t involve food or drink, I was happy to take on the teapigs #matchachallenge as well.
I’ve had a love affair with matcha ever since CT brought some back from his Japan trip in 2007. I’d never heard of it before then, so it was a real novelty. Green tea was my tea of choice, so once I got used to the idea, it wasn’t such a big step to drinking matcha: it’s a very finely ground Japanese green tea with a distinctive flavour. Because you are ingesting the whole leaf this way, it provides a concentration of all those healthy nutrients that green tea is renowned for. It’s very high in antioxidants, has plenty of betacarotene and contains vitamins A, B and C. It’s said to boost energy levels for four to six hours after drinking it as well as raising metabolism and relieving stress. Teapigs matcha is organic and comes in 30g packs, normally costing £25. There is currently a 20% discount.
As well as a great drink, matcha lends itself very nicely to baking, not only giving a distinctive flavour, but also an interesting green colour. I have made a number of cakes and biscuits using matcha, but was particularly pleased with matcha shortbread, matcha and white chocolate cupcakes and chocolate matcha battenberg.
Much as I like matcha, it’s not something I’ve had every day, so I was interested to see if drinking it regularly made any difference to my flagging post flu energy levels. The teapigs #matchachallenge is to drink ½ tsp of matcha a day for a fortnight. It’s early days yet as I’m only on Day 5, but I have been enjoying finding different ways to drink it. I have so far made two different kefir matcha smoothies, drunk it as normal in a mug of hot water and tried it as a matcha shot in a glass provided by teapigs. Today I made a frothy matcha white hot chocolate. I used white chocolate so I could retain the beautiful green colour.
This is how I made:
Matcha Hot Chocolate
- Warmed 150ml of milk to just below boiling.
- Poured it into a mug containing 2 heaped tsps of white chocolate powder (I used Mortimer’s) and ¼ tsp matcha powder.
- Used an electric milk frother (kindly provided by teapigs) to mix and froth the drink.
- Sprinkled a little matcha powder over the top.
It was delicious. The frothing gave it a really light texture and the white chocolate was creamy, but the matcha cut through the sweetness with strong refreshing notes.
If you fancy entering the Matcha Challenge there is a chance to win a year’s supply of matcha from teapigs and a pack of matcha is being given away daily via instagram. The challenge runs throughout January and it’s a nice easy way to get your New Year off to a healthy start.
Thanks to teapigs for providing a pack of matcha green tea, a shot glass and aerolatte frother in exchange for blogging about the challenge.
I am sending the matcha hot chocolate off to Nayna for her event, Let’s Cook/Create Hot Drinks over at Simply Food.