The leaves are turning, the mornings are misty and the season of mellow fruitfulness has definitely arrived. There are apples aplenty here in the New Forest and apple cake is an autumnal essential bake. For Bonfire Night last year, I reckon I created my best ever. It’s a toffee apple hazelnut cake and is just perfect for this time of year.
This cinnamon coconut chocolate crunch traybake is a real crowd pleaser. It’s ideal for parties where both children and adults will love it. It has less sugar than similar bakes, but its nutty crunchiness will have you coming back for more. It’s quick and easy to make; the hardest part is waiting for the chocolate crunch to cool and set.
CT has been interested in The Lost Crops of the Incas for a very long time. One he’s been growing over the years is oca (Oxalis tuberosa). I was recently gifted a kilo of beautifully coloured oca tubers from The Guild of Oca Breeders. This was a rare treat as I hardly ever get to try any of CT’s precious tubers. You can prepare them in pretty much anyway you’d cook a potato, but I like them best roasted. Here I give you my recipe for a quick and simple dish of chilli roasted oca with hedgerow pesto.
As you may have gathered by now, I do like to cook and bake with the seasons. When I made my latest Suma order I had some autumnal baking very much in mind. I still have apples from my mother’s garden and although the wildlife got all of our cobnuts this year, hazelnuts are very much on my radar. So, I made an apple and hazelnut spelt rye sourdough bread loaf.
These chocolate hazelnut crackles were a Christmas gift bake that I made last year. They were so good, I meant to make them again this year. But flu got in the way and my Christmas baking was minimal.
I bookmarked this recipe from Apple & Spice a very long time ago. The biscuits are made with ground roasted hazelnuts which immediately grabbed my attention. However, the first time I made them for Christmas 2012, I was fast running out of time and space in the kitchen, so swapped the hazelnuts for ground almonds. They were really good and proved to be highly popular with the recipients. But the fragrance and flavour of these ones made with freshly roasted hazelnuts beat the ground almonds hands down.
The house smelt gorgeous whilst these were being made; first the aroma of roasting hazelnuts filled the air and then again when the biscuits were in the oven. Rolled in icing sugar before baking, these cookies are visually striking and conjure up a snowy Christmas with sleigh bells ringing. The biscuits expand, revealing dark crevices beneath the white icing. Rich, indulgent, chewy and delicious these are some of the best biscuits I’ve ever made. I’d thought they were set to be a regular feature on my Christmas baking schedule, so I’m quite sorry I didn’t manage to make any this year.
This is how I made:
Chocolate Hazelnut Crackles
- Roasted 80g hazelnuts at 180C for about ten minutes in order to give flavour and loosen their skins.
- Rubbed in a piece of kitchen towel to remove skins.
- Left to cool, then blitzed with 30g caster sugar to reduce to a finish crumb.
- Melted 175g dark 72% chocolate in a large bowl over hot water.
- Added 100g of unsalted butter – cubed. Stirred until melted.
- Beat in 275g dark muscovado sugar.
- Stirred in 1 tsp vanilla extract.
- Beat in 3 smallish eggs (or use 2 large eggs).
- Sifted in 330g flour (half wholemeal spelt, half white), 20g cocoa powder, 2 tsp baking powder, a large pinch of rock salt and 1 heaped tsp of mesquite powder.
- Added the ground hazelnuts and 2 tbsp milk.
- Stirred until combined.
- Left in my cold kitchen for a couple of hours until firm – no need for a fridge at this time of year.
- Sifted 100g icing sugar into a bowl.
- Wet hands with cold water and rolled mixture into walnut sized balls between my palms.
- Rolled balls in icing sugar until thickly coated and placed well apart on lined baking trays.
- Baked at 180C for about 12 minutes until cracked and well risen.
I’m sending this off to Jac at Tinned Tomatoes as it is a Bookmarked Recipe.
A friend recently passed on a recipe for me to chocolatify. He reckoned that not only was this cake unusual, with its inclusion of Jerusalem artichokes, but it was also possibly the best cake he’d ever made. I was intrigued. At this time of year we have no problem getting hold of this particular root vegetable as it grows, almost of its own volition, down on our plot. I adore the taste of artichokes, but do find them a real pain to clean, so I don’t use them as often as I probably should. The cake includes roasted hazelnuts and I could see how well these would work with the nutty flavour found in artichokes.
I had planned to follow the recipe as written, apart from adding chocolate and using my usual half wholemeal, half white flour mix of course, but things went a little awry. I didn’t have any raisins for a start, so had to substitute sultanas. But mostly, I didn’t read the recipe carefully enough. I ended up using a different method entirely and added all of the sugar (50g more than I should have) to the cake rather than reserving some of it for the icing – oops! I also didn’t think I needed to peel the artichokes, which I scrubbed well cutting out any bad bits.
Some time before Christmas, I was sent three lovely bags of Cacao Barry chocolate drops. This is a new range of high quality couverture chocolate they have introduced. It uses a new fermentation method which purportedly gives a more intense taste. The Q-Fermentation TM method uses natural ferments found in the plants and soil of the plantation which is said to give a purer bean with a fuller flavour. I’m looking forward to trying the chocolate out in a few sophisticated recipes where the flavour can shine through. However, I decided as there were so many lovely ingredients in this cake it would be good to use a special chocolate too. From previous experience, I’ve found that milk chocolate chips tend to work better in this type of cake as a very dark chocolate can sometimes take over rather than enhancing. The 41% Alunga milk chocolate seemed ideal. With its strong caramel notes and high cocoa content, I found it hard to stop dipping into the bag as I went along. I’m looking forward to trying the Inaya 65% and Ocoa 70% dark chocolates in due course.
This is how I made:
Jerusalem Artichoke Cake
- Added 1 tbsp brandy to a bowl filled with 120g sultanas and placed it on the heater to soak in for about an hour.
- Toasted 80g hazelnuts in a dry frying pan for a few minutes until the nuts had browned a little and the skins had loosened. Left to cool, then rubbed the nuts in a piece of kitchen towel to remove the skins. Chopped roughly.
- Grated 200g of well scrubbed and trimmed Jerusalem artichokes in food processor.
- Creamed 150g unsalted butter with 200g soft brown sugar (should have been 150g).
- Beat in the brandied sultanas.
- Beat in 3 large eggs, one by one and alternating with a little of the flour.
- Sieved in 200g flour (half wholemeal, half white), 1 level tsp baking powder, 1 scant tsp bicarbonate of soda, a large pinch of rock salt, 1 tsp cinnamon and a good grating of nutmeg (about 1/2 tsp).
- Stirred this in lightly together with the nuts and 50g chocolate drops (41% milk).
- Folded in the artichokes.
- Scraped mixture into a deep 8″ lined cake tin and baked for about 1 hour at 180°C (recipe stated 30 minutes, but mine was still almost raw at that stage) until well risen, brown and an inserted skewer came out almost clean.
- Allowed to cook in the tin for 15 minutes, then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Beat 180g cream cheese (should have been 200g, but that was all I had) with 40 light brown sugar.
- Grated in the zest of an organic lemon and squeezed in nearly half of the juice.
- Beat it all together then slathered over the top of the cake.
- Shaved some dark chocolate over the top.
I couldn’t have told you there were Jerusalem artichokes in the cake, but wow, I’m sure they added to the overall nuttiness. This cake was truly delicious: chewy, crunchy, moist and abundant. The Alunga buttons left chocolatey hotspots throughout the cake which contributed nicely to the overall richness of taste. The sharp lemony icing offset the additional sugar I added by mistake and the cake, thankfully, wasn’t too sweet at all. It was similar to a carrot cake, only, dare I say it, much nicer.
How can I put this politely? I didn’t notice any, er, unfortunate consequences to eating the Jerusalem Artichokes in this way, so it got a double thumbs up from us.
This is my offering for this month’s We Should Cocoa. Linzi over at Lancashire Food is kindly hosting and has asked us to combine an ingredient we have never used with chocolate before. I was initially going to send over the paprika and cocoa roasted cauliflower that I made earlier in the month, but in the end decided this was a more unusual and worthy entry. I can honestly say, that I have never until now, eaten Jerusalem artichokes and chocolate together.
I am also using this as my entry to Family Foodies over at Bangers & Mash. The theme this month is Hidden Goodies. These artichokes are very well hidden and I suspect few would ever guess as to what the cake contained. This challenge is co-hosted by Lou at Eat Your Veg.
Not only made from scratch, but some of it grown from scratch too, I’m sending this off to Javelin Warrior for his Made with Love Mondays.
As this is the most exciting recipe I’ve posted this week, I’m entering it into Recipe of the Week with Emily of A Mummy Too.
Now I’m not quite sure why, but when I found out the “special ingredient” for this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge hosted by The KitchenMaid, was fame, Garibaldi was the very first name that sprang to mind. Giuseppe Garibaldi played a prominent role in the Unification of Italy in 1870, but as far as I remember from my school history lessons, he was THE figure, not just one of them. I suspect he particularly stuck in my mind because of the famous biscuits named after him. His story seemed rather a romantic one to my somewhat naive mind; with his famous volunteer army dressed in Red Shirts for want of real uniforms, storming across Italy in a bid for independence and deposing despots as they went. He was much admired by Victor Hugo, Georges Sand and Alexandre Dumas, all heroes of mine at the time. He did indeed achieve a lot in his lifetime and led an interesting life – you can read more about him here.
|Garibaldi on Caprera c1860|
For those unaware of Garibaldi biscuits, they are rectangular, flat, pastry like bakes, heavily studded with currants in recognition of the limited rations the Red Shirts carried with them. Squashed flies, as we used to call them, were a firm favourite when I was young, principally because it was one of the few shop bought biscuits my mother would allow; it must have had something to do with all those currants. I have no idea if they are still made, I haven’t had one in years. In fact I might just have to go down to the shops right now and find out.
My version is based on the recipe from British Baking by Peyton and Byrne. Instead of currants, I of course used chocolate, but not just any old chocolate: fairtrade hazelnut chocolate. I usually use fairtrade chocolate as a matter of course, but I thought I’d mention it as it is Fairtrade Fortnight at the moment – I’m sure Garibaldi would have approved. I used my usual mix of half wholemeal and half white, but threw in a tbsp of mesquite powder which I thought would emulate the malty notes that shop bought biscuits often have.
This is how I made:
Chocolate Garibaldi Biscuits
- Chopped 100g bar of Fairtrade hazelnut chocolate so as to get it as small as I could.
- Weighed out 280g flour (half wholemeal, half white including 1 tbsp mesquite powder) and put into food processor.
- Added 1 scant teaspoon of baking powder and a pinch of pink Himalayan rock salt.
- Cubed 110g unsalted butter and threw that in.
- Added 75g cardamom (caster) sugar.
- Whizzed in the processor until the mixture resembled breadcrumbs.
- Added about 8 tbsp of milk (recipe stated 1 or 2) bit by bit until the mixture started to clump.
- Bought into a ball with my hands and shaped into a cube.
- Floured worktop and rolled out to about 5mm thickness.
- Trimmed the edges to make a square, then cut in half.
- Sprinkled most of the chocolate over one half (leave a little for the trimmings).
- Topped with the other half and squished the edges together to seal.
- Rolled out to about 3mm, then cut into rectangles of varying sizes.
- Pricked each one a few times with a fork and placed on a lined baking tray.
- Brushed with egg white and baked for 15 minutes at 180C until golden.
I was pleased to discover that my biscuits tasted like my memories of the real Garibaldis, even though mine were heavily studded with hazelnut chocolate rather than currants. In fact, they were quite delicious and I will most definitely be making them again. They were perhaps a little thicker than the originals, but were crisp with the right texture and eminently suitable for dunking. They were sweet enough, but not overly so with the hazelnut chocolate making a good substitute for the currants. Where better to store them than in a fun new tin I was sent recently – if you keep your eye on things, you might see it featuring in a giveaway here shortly.
NB – I did go to the shops and I did find Garibaldi biscuits and I had to buy a packet too. I was annoyed to find that palm oil was used rather than butter, but other than that the ingredients weren’t too bad with currants at 39% being the top one. They weren’t too sweet either and although mine tasted far superior (though I say it myself), they are still not a bad little biscuit.
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.