Vegetarian food blog featuring delicious and nutritious whole food recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

Maamoul – Date and Walnut Stuffed Cookies

Maamoul in a basket with two fillings: 1) date and orange blossom water 2) toasted walnut & medlar.

Short buttery pastries stuffed with two types of filling. You’ll find a spicy date filling and a walnut and honey one. Both are delicious, but you can choose just one if you prefer. Maamoul come from the Levant and they make great festive cookies.

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Pistachio and Orange Blossom Cake

Pistachio & Orange Blossom Cake

When I saw this cake in Bake & Decorate, it was only a matter of time before I set to with a gusto and a wooden spoon.  The cake sounded so delicious and really interesting with the combination of those delicate flavours.  It just needed a bit of time to get hold of some  pistachios.  As I’m now addicted to using yogurt in my cakes and have been lucky enough to receive another fridge load of TOTAL Greek yogurt, some of that was going in no matter what.  As I was hoping for the green of the pistachios to come out in the cake, I used caster sugar rather than my normal dark brown.  I also had some green tea and white chocolate ganache left over from the green tea cupcakes I’d made the previous week and it needed using up.  I thus decided to use this rather than the mascarpone and orange topping described in the book – although this did sound rather good.

This is what I did:

  • Roasted 100g pistachios (unsalted) in the oven at 180C for about 5 mins.  Left to cool then ground in a coffee grinder.
  • Creamed 150g unsalted butter together with 180g caster sugar and the finely grated zest of an orange until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in 4 duck eggs.
  • Sifted in 70g flour (50g white spelt and 20g coconut), 1.5 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt.
  • Mixed in 2 tbsp TOTAL Greek yogurt.
  • Folded in the pistachios, 70g ground almonds and 2 tsp orange flower water.
  • Spooned into a 21 cm cake thingie and baked for 35 mins at 180C (gas4).
  • Meanwhile simmered the juice from the orange with 20g granulated sugar for about 5 minutes until syrupy.  Allowed to cool a little then added 1 tbsp orange flour water.
  • Pricked cake all over with a cocktail stick as soon as it was out of the oven and poured syrup over.
  • Left to cool, then spread the white chocolate and green tea topping over the cake.
  • Scattered a few coarsly ground pistachios over the top.

I was really pleased with the result and thought it quite delicious as well as unusual.  It wasn’t as green as I’d hoped, but the sponge was dense and moist with a pleasant firmness.  It had a Middle Eastern quality that reminded me of my days in Egypt, although Levantine confections are usually much sweeter.  Rather unexpectedly, I thought the green tea topping worked well with the pistachio and orange blossom as all were quite subtle flavours.  I keep hearing about the wonders of mascarpone so I will be using it next time.  CT reckoned it was the nearest thing to pistachio kulfi in cake form.  That is a compliment indeed as he loves pistachio kulfi.  He also said, tucking into his third slice, that you would be hard pressed to buy a cake this good – luckily he doesn’t have to.

I am going to have to go cold turkey on the blogging front as I’m just off to Ghent in Belgium for a week.  This is another work conference, but as I don’t really know Belgium at all I am taking the opportunity to stay an extra couple of days to explore Ghent.  Unusually, CT is accompanying me as one of his root friends lives nearby and he can enjoy comparing notes and swapping seeds and tubers.  Thanks to VegBoxBoy I go armed with a list of chocolatiers to visit whilst I’m there, so my withdrawal symptoms shouldn’t be too severe.  I’ve also been advised not to miss out on the famous Belgian beer whilst we’re there.  Look forward to catching up when I get back.