Chocolate-almond cake

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There are chocolate cakes and they are great chocolate cakes. Then there are flourless chocolate cakes. Total different ball game. Ground nuts stand in for the flour and while lending support & substance they also keep the cake moist. Butter, of course, lends extra flavour and richness where egg whites keep it airy, light and tells you to have your cake and eat it too. Let’s start with two slices each… Continue reading

Lingonberry cake

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This is a marvellous winter cake: a rich, flourless chocolate-hazelnut base is topped with the mildly sweet compote of wild lingonberries. The tart, acetous berries have a bitter note that reminds of heather and forest and provides such a wonderful contrast to the toasted nutty notes of the cake while both are balanced by a layer of cool, silky whipped cream and a final sprinkling of chocolate shavings (or for sentimental reasons: sprinkles). Don’t be tempted to use any other chocolate than dark, rich, bittersweet chocolate high in cocoa solids (60% plus) and Dutch processed cocoa, no milk chocolate or sweet cocoa shall touch this cake for it lives of these adult smoky flavours that call out for a strong cup of coffee (or something even stronger) – perfect for a post Christmas afternoon with coffee, hot chocolate and tea to battle the fog, ice and snow. Continue reading

mexican hot chocolate

It is getting dark, murky and cold outside and I am longing for a fireplace and hot – preferably a little alcoholic – drinks like mulled wine, cider, Grog, glögg or hot chocolate, a cup of tea. Most Friday nights we’ll have some fun food (as my husband names it) like these salad, bean & beef tacos (we are in love) for supper and since I was already assembling Mexican ingredients I had to have a hot Mexican chocolate. There is no immediate need for a cold & dark winter evening but it helps. Possibly snow, sleet or rain & husband coming late from work, too.

Grate some Mexican chocolate (Mayordomo or Ibarra is what I have found here so far) or if you have none of these handy, just mix dark chocolate with piloncillo sugar or dark brown sugar & cinnamon. Add a dash or two of Cointreau to upgrade to some orange spirit and since we have all seen Chocolat – a pinch of chile for spice. Ground ancho chile in our case. Before I forget, you might want to save some for that hard working husband and not drink it all! Sorry.

If you want to go the extra mile, top the steaming hot chocolate with a dollop of lightly whipped cream, some more grated chocolate & chile and stir with a cinnamon stick.

Mexican hot chocolate
for two…

2-4 pieces of Mexican hot chocolate or dark chocolate or cacao (add dark sugar & cinnamon)
2 cups of milk
a pinch of ground chile
a pinch of extra cinnamon
Cointreau or Grand Manier

extra: lightly whipped cream, grated chocolate, chile, cinnamon stick

Grate the chocolate or cacao. Heat the milk in a small sauce pan, add the chcolate and spices. When piping hot pour into Grog glasses and add a dash of Cointreau to each. If you want to go that aforementioned extra mile, top with a dollop of lightly whipped cream, some more chocolate & chile and stir with a cinnamon stick.

Banana & chocolate muffins

The irresistible combination of bananas, a darker sugar, vanilla and chocolate make these muffins simply yummy: a good brunch staple, something nice to bring to a party or if you need a warming & comforting treat if you had a flat tire yesterday and today the battery of the car is gone, too (oh, just us then).
I know it is a bit like the coriander/cilantro debate with bananas, people eat them either just yellow or brown. I am not overly fond of eating bananas if they get too ripe = brown but they have reached perfection to be used in smoothies and baking. A bonus is that they can easily be frozen (just peel, nestle them together in a zip-lock bag like sausages and freeze) and perpetually kept in this state of perfect ripeness just waiting for the day when you might think– anyone for chocolate-banana muffins?

Banana & chocolate muffins
makes 12, adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Express

3 really ripe bananas (fresh or frozen)
125ml (4 ¼ US fluid oz) vegetable oil
2 eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
250g (2 cups) flour
100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar or a little more of Demerara sugar
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
150g (5.3 oz) dark chocolate (around 60-70%), chopped or chips

If you are using frozen bananas, break them in small pieces and leave out for a few hours or to speed things up mash already.
Prepare a muffin tin with 12 papers and preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) or 180°C fan oven. Chop the chocolate into chunks, some small, some a little bigger & some rubble. Mash the bananas with a fork. Measure the oil in a jug or small bowl and whisk in the eggs and vanilla essence.
Mix the dry ingredients in a larger bowl, stir in the liquid & banana-mash and add the chopped chocolate. Only fold the mixture a few times until just about mixed. Fill into the muffin cups (easy with an ice cream scoop) and bake for about 20-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.