It’s the second week in December and I’ve only just made my first Christmas recipe. Biscuits and cookies make great gifts at Christmas and when I’m organised, I like to make a few of them. I’ve started with these gluten free chocolate pistachio biscotti as I want to get a few sent off in the post and biscotti are great for keeping well.
Of all the biscuits I made in my epic Christmas bake last year, these pistachio biscuits made with almonds and flavoured with a little rose, cardamom and cinnamon were the ones that received the most rave reviews. So *drum roll* I’m finally going to give you the recipe. It’s the next in my Flavours of the Middle East series.
I have a bit of a thing for hot chocolate. So what better way to mark such a momentous and romantic day as this Honeyed Rose Hot Chocolate. Today is not only St Valentine’s Day, but also my blog anniversary. Yes, my blog, in its first iteration as Chocolate Log Blog and now latterly Tin and Thyme, is seven today.
As soon as I saw the Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook, I knew immediately I wanted to make this Pistachio & Lime Cake for my friend’s upcoming birthday. This is one of Lynn Hill’s own and it is the one that graces the front cover of the book.
Chocolate for Christmas gifts is of course a necessity. Last year I made ginger chocolates and orange sticks, but what to do this year? A while ago, Susan of A little bit of Heaven on a Plate very kindly sent me a couple of pots of edible gold dust / glitter and I was itching to use them. As soon as I saw White Chocolate Mendiants in Eric Lanlard’s Cox Cookies & Cake, I knew a variation of these would make their way into this year’s hampers. Although I set myself the task to learn chocolate tempering this year, I haven’t actually managed it. I thus continue to be hesitant about making chocolates; although bloom doesn’t really change the taste of chocolate it most certainly makes it look unappealing. Anyway, this is how I gave it a go.
- Drew lots of circles about a couple of centimetres apart on a sheet of greaseproof paper using a pencil and plastic milk bottle top.
- Turned this over so I could see the circles but had no worries about pencil poisoning!
- Into separate bowls put some shelled unsalted pistachios, dried cranberries, dried mango pieces (cut into small strips), dried physalis, blanched almonds split in half, strips of candied orange and lemon peel.
- Melted 150g white cook’s chocolate (Chocolate by Trish) slowly in a bowl suspended over a pan of hot but not yet simmering water.
- Spooned teaspoonfuls of the chocolate into the circles spreading it out to fill the entire circle (made 30).
- Working fast placed a cranberry, pistachio and a piece of mango or phsyalis on each chocolate circle before it set.
- Dusted on some Disco Gold using a small paint brush.
- As soon as set (didn’t take very long in my cold kitchen), peeled the mendiants off with a palette knife.
- Melted 150g 38% milk cook’s chocolate (Chocolate by Trish) using the same method as above, but reserving about 30g which I added after the chocolate was melted. This was an attempt at the seed method of tempering, but without a thermometer it was a bit hit and miss.
- Spooned the melted chocolate into the circles as before (made 30).
- Topped these with cranberries, mango pieces and almonds and left to set.
- Dusted with Disco Gold.
- Melted 150g 72% dark cook’s chocolate (Green & Black’s) using the same method as the milk chocolate (made 32).
- Topped with pieces of candied orange or lemon peel.
- Dusted with Antique Gold.
These mendiants were a huge success and although I made them well over a week ago now, they still look good and my worries about the chocolate blooming has not materialised ….. yet!
Four bags of these have already disappeared into hampers and have now long departed this house.
If you like flourless chocolate cakes, you’ll love this recipe. It’s based on Nigella’s chocolate pistachio cake and it replaces the usual ground almonds for ground pistachios. It has a delightful light and smooth mousse-like texture and is topped with a slightly fruity chocolate ganache. Serve it for a birthday or celebratory party or as an elegant dessert. It works well in either situation.
This recipe from Suelle was another one I knew I was going to make as soon as I saw it on Mainly Baking. These biscuits looked so attractive with the lovely green pistachios and brown nibs, I thought they would make good Christmas gifts.
This is what I did:
- Creamed 110g unsalted butter with 50g caster sugar until light and fluffy
- Sifted in 125g unbleached white flour (unusual for me, but I wanted them to look pale and interesting – didn’t quite work), 50g semolina and a pinch of rock salt.
- Mixed roughly together, then added 25g pistachios – roughly chopped and 20g cocoa nibs.
- Kneaded this very briefly until all incorporated.
- Rolled out to about 3mm and cut into 14 rounds – not very easy as mixture was fragile and kept breaking.
- Baked at 150C for 25 minutes.
Well, mine didn’t look nearly as good as Suelle’s but I’m so glad I made them as these shortbreads were delicious and went down particularly well with the recipients. They were very short, crisp and crumbly and oh so yummy. I wish I’d made a whole batch just for us. Thank you Suelle for a truly wonderful recipe.
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.
I was having a curry night for friends and wanted something authentic for pudding. But how to get the chocolate bit in? Kulfi is the only Indian desert I know and chocolate kulfi? No, just didn’t seem right. So, I cheated a bit and made mango kulfi for pudding, and then made a middle eastern baklawa to have with lemon balm tea after dinner.
- First, took 400g filo pastry pack out of the freezer and left overnight in fridge to defrost.
- Heated 300g of granulated sugar with 200ml water until sugar dissolved.
- Added 6 lightly crushed cardamon pods and simmered for 15 mins until slightly thickened.
- Left to cool then added 1 tbsp rose water and 2 tbsp lemon juice.
- Meanwhile, chopped 100g almonds, 100g walnuts and 100g pistachios into small bits (initially tried to use coffee grinder to do this, but it enthusiastically turned the nuts into powder, so had to give up on this method as baklawa is so much nicer with pieces of nut to bite into and chew upon).
- Dry fried these for about 5 minutes being careful not to scorch them, then left to cool.
- Chopped 100g dark chocolate into small pieces.
- Mixed together nuts, chocolate, 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1 tbsp syrup.
- Melted 175g unsalted butter.
- Buttered an 8″ sq cake tin then covered the tin with two overlapping sheets of filo (if I’d had a tin the same size as the pastry, life would have been easier) and brushed with melted butter.
- Repeated this another 5 times, then spread half the nut mixture over the pastry.
- Folded in the overhanging bits of pastry.
- Covered the nut mixture with another 6 layers of pastry brushed with butter then spread on the remaining nut mixture. Folded in the overhanging bits.
- Covered nuts with another 6 layers of pastry brushed with butter and then folded in the overhanging bits giving it all a final buttering.
- Cut the baklawa into about 18 pieces (tried to do diamonds, but turned out to be rectangles with a few triangles).
- Baked at 175°C (gas 4) for about 25 mins until crisp and golden.
- Poured the cold syrup over the top as soon as was removed from the oven (this helps keep it crisp).