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

Chocolate Blackcurrant Buckle

Large Cakes | 6th August 2013 | By

Blackcurrant Buckle is one of the cakes I grew up with, but I haven’t made it for many many years and indeed I don’t even know where the recipe is – buried in one of my mother’s piles of clippings somewhere I suspect. When I was unexpectedly given a punnet of blackcurrants the other day, I decided on the spur of the moment, now was the time to try blackcurrant buckle once again.

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Chia Seed Muffins – We Should Cocoa 17

Small Cakes, We Should Cocoa | 22nd January 2012 | By

As some of my regular readers will know, I try to ensure that most of my baked goods contain mostly healthy ingredients. Indeed they are a good vehicle for nuts, fruit, seeds and various super foods. I generally use at least half wholemeal, spelt or other healthy flours in my baking. I use organic eggs where possible and properly free ranging hen and duck eggs when it’s not. I believe organic butter where the cows have been grass fed is also nutritious (in moderation). Chocolate, it goes without saying is good for you 😉 My main concern is sugar – I haven’t managed to convince myself on this one. I use raw sugars in the main and do use other sweeteners such as Rapadura and agave syrup sometimes. But these substitutes are expensive and I do have rather a sweet tooth. I just hope, the other nutritious ingredients counteract the bad of the sugar. For more information on Rapadura and other ingredients I use see ingredients are the key – ties in very nicely with this month’s healthy theme.

But when Chele announced that the theme for this month’s We Should Cocoa was healthy eating, I thought I’d go the whole hog and produce something that was properly good for you. One of my Christmas  presents from CT was a packet of chia seeds. Chia seeds are said to be super healthy: they contain omega 3, vitamin B, complete protein, anti-oxidants and fibre. It is also claimed they can replace half the conventional fat in any recipe with no discernible effects on taste and texture. The secret is to soak the seeds in water for 15 minutes before using. They form a gel, which is then ready to be used. This seemed to be a good opportunity to put these claims to the test.

So for added nutrition, I rather nervously thought I’d create a muffin recipe using wholemeal spelt and oats, some of the pumpkin butter I made back along, Rapadura rather than sugar and of course, chia seeds. I also had a jar of raw chocolate and almond spread that I hadn’t yet used and thought this would be suitable for the chocolate element.

This is what I did:

  • Spooned 1 level tbsp of chia seeds into a jug.
  • Topped it up with water to 50ml and left to soak for 15 minutes.
  • Beat 2 eggs with 120g rapadura and 35ml sunflower oil for a few minutes until well incorporated and bubbly.
  • Beat in 2 heaped tbsp pumpkin butter.
  • Stirred in the chia seeds (which had indeed turned to gel)
  • Sifted in 200g wholemeal spelt, 2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda.
  • Folded this into the egg mixture together with 50g rolled oats.
  • Spooned this into 12 muffin cases.
  • Placed a small teaspoon of raw almond and chocolate spread on top and scattered over a few oats.
  • Baked at 180C for 23 minutes.

These had a nice flavour with a rich aroma of molasses, but they weren’t overly sweet. They were firm, substantial and chewy and had a crunchy top. CT’s comment was “it tastes like it’s probably good for you”. They’d be ideal as a breakfast muffin, but I think I’d feel a bit short changed if I got these as a tea-time treat. The chocolate spread was really good and I’m not sure why I haven’t used it before.

The only thing I wish I’d done differently was to put the chocolate spread in the middle of the muffin rather than on top, where it got burnt. I’d sort of assumed the chocolate spread would sink through the mix, which is why I’d put it on top, but it didn’t!

PS 18 February – Nearly one month after making these, I’ve just found two muffins hidden in one of my cake tins and amazingly they are not only still edible, but really nice – I shall have to rename these indestructible muffins!

Lucuma Chocolate Cake

Large Cakes | 10th January 2010 | By

I’ve been rather busy over the past few days making bread and trying to get to grips with sourdough, so chocolate recipes have been on hold. But as I’m back to work on Monday, thought I’d better rectify this while I’ve still got a chance.
I’ve had a packet of lucuma powder lurking in my cupboard for some time now which I bought when I was last in Totnes – time to try it out! For those who are unfamiliar with lucuma (and I include myself in this catagory), it is an Andean “superfood” made from the fruit of the lucuma tree. It is meant to be particularly rich in beta-carotene, niacin and iron. It is quite sweet and is used extensively in raw products as a sugar and flour substitute. It also makes the best ice cream ever – apparently! Dipping my finger into the powder, it tastes remarkably like Hunza apricots – quite delicious. As I really want to see if the flavour comes out in a cake, I have decided to make a simple chocolate cake with no other flavourings.
This is the recipe I came up with:
  • Melt 6 oz butter in a pan with 5 oz Rapadura (or brown sugar of choice) and mix thoroughly.
  • Sieve 4oz flour (3 oz wholemeal spelt & 1 oz buckwheat) into a bowl together with 1 tsp baking powder, 1.5 oz cocoa, 2 oz lucuma and a large pinch of salt (Himalyan pink).
  • Make a well in the centre and pour butter mixture in. Mix this together with 3 eggs (still no duck eggs to be found).
  • Mix in 1 large tbsp yogurt.
  • Spoon mixture into a 21 cm round cake thingie and bake for 30 mins at 180C (gas 4).
Unfortunately 30 minutes was just a few minutes too long in my oven and I managed to burn the top slightly. The texture was light if a little too dry for me. The flavour was subtle, but the fruitiness did come through. My guess is, you’d need to double the amount of lucuma to really get the flavour and maybe only put in 1 oz cocoa. I’d though about adding some yogurt to the mix, but decided I didn’t want to mask the lucuma too much. In retrospect, I think this would have been a good addition producing a slight sharpness and a moister sponge. However, CT and I consoled ourselves with the thought that this cake had to be doing us good! There was an additional bonus – the whole house smells wonderful.

Baking Tips 1: Flour

Ingredients | 30th October 2009 | By

Whatever flour a recipe states, I tend to substitute a different one! This is mostly because I try to turn rather decadent baking offerings into something that can be as healthy as possible whilst still remaining delicious. I very rarely use plain old white flour when baking. Nor do I use self-raising flour as I prefer to add a good quality gluten free raising agent myself.

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National Chocolate Week

Chocolate Chilli Cardamom Cupcakes

I’ve had such a fun day. First making some chocolate goodies, then distributing them around town and seeing the delight on people’s faces and finally trying them out myself. Well, it is Chocolate Week and I couldn’t let it pass without doing something! So, I thought I’d make some cupcakes for the good burghers of Liskeard and brighten up their day. It certainly brightened up my day.

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Green & Black’s Ain’t What It Used To Be

Uncategorized | 8th August 2009 | By

Green & Black’s being my favourite brand of good quality but affordable chocolate, I was devastated when it was taken over by Cadbury’s. I am not a huge fan of multi-nationals.

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Duck Eggs

Ingredients | 2nd July 2009 | By

People keep asking me why I use duck eggs for baking. Well, when it came down to it, I knew that duck eggs were meant to be much better than chicken eggs, but didn’t exactly know why. Where did I pick this up? I couldn’t exactly say, it’s just something I seem to have always known. Having been asked the question, I’ve had to think about it. Is it because the duck yolks seem to be much bigger in proportion to the egg whites? Cakes do seem to be a little richer, a little lighter. Am I imagining this? I think some investigation is called for.

It turns out I wasn’t far wrong, the yolks are larger and richer with a higher fat and nutrient content. To boot, duck eggs also have more protein in the white, which gives cakes a bit more structure and a higher rise. They have the added bonus of a longer shelf life as the shells are much thicker. For a complete nutritional comparison take a look at this website.
I’m very fussy about eggs and will only use eggs from poultry that are truly free ranging and are preferably raised organically (see Ingredients are the Key). I’m lucky enough to have several outlets for local organic eggs where I live and I’ve seen the birds scratching about more than happily on the farm where most of the ones I buy come from. Bright yellow or orange yolks are what you need to look for – these are usually a sign that poultry have access to fresh grass. For further information about the benefits of eating products from grass-fed animals try reading Jo Robinson’s Pasture Perfect.
If you can’t get access to good duck eggs, just substitute large hens eggs instead. If you find the concept of duck eggs novel and challenging, how about trying goose eggs? This picture comes courtesy of Walter Jeffries of Sugar Mountain Farm in Vermont. Goose eggs are meant to be the real business when it comes to baking – I haven’t tried them yet!

Ingredients are the Key

I’m probably kidding myself, but I like to think my baking is actively good for folk as well as tasting pretty damn good. Good quality ingredients are crucial for making tasty and nutritious fare. With this in mind I try to use certified organic ingredients where possible, although locally sourced and fairly traded are also important.

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Cut the Chocolate Log

Uncategorized | 14th February 2009 | By

Like many people, I have to confess to a decided penchant for chocolate. It started off many years ago when, as a child, I would save up my pocket money until I had enough to buy a bar of “Old Jamaica”. It’s ended up with something a little more sophisticated – preferably organic and with a much higher cocoa content.

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