26 January 2013

No-bake Chocolate, Walnut & Avocado Cake

Are you struggling to stick to your New Year diet plan? Do you find yourself dreaming in cake? Is it taking all your strength to overcome that desperate craving for chocolate?

Then look no further, for I have found........A CHOCOLATE CAKE THAT IS (kind of ) GOOD FOR YOU!

Yes folks, you heard me, this once-in-a-lifetime no-bake chocolate, walnut & avocado cake is your ticket to the end of your cravings. Care of Australian Women's Health Magazine (I think), you can now make you cake, and eat it, whilst staying true to your New Year plans.

And it actually tastes awesome.

There it is, in all its' crumbly glory. When I first saw this recipe way back in September I was desperate to try it out, but with none of the tools required, I took a photo of the recipe and continued to think longingly of the cake. Cut to being home and trying to 'eat clean' and follow a Paleo diet, I was pretty keen to try this cake out as it fits almost all criteria, but cavemen ate cocoa powder right? We're all friends here.....

The cake itself was super sweet as it uses dates to bind the ground nuts and chocolate, but this is complimented beautifully by the bitter taste of the icing. It really tastes best cool, so I'd recommend refrigerating it before serving. The avocado adds the great texture and creaminess to the icing, and although the flavour is very mild, I found I could still taste it. This doesn't bother me, but see my notes below if you're trying to trick children/suspicious adults into trying your healthy concoction! The orange zest and juice added to the cake lends a strong and welcome zing, stopping the cake from tasting overwhelmingly like chocolate or walnuts.

It's definitely a cake I'd make again, I went back for thirds, I can't put my finger on what exactly kept me coming back but the flavours combined deliciously and I felt rather virtuous afterwards which was novel.

I've popped in the original photo I took of the recipe below, but there are a few things to note:
  • to freeze it instead of putting it in the fridge - it really is a very crumbly and delicate cake so freezing it helped hold it together for a little longer.
  • taste test the icing as you make it - I added extra vanilla and extra cocoa powder to cover the mild taste of the avocado so I could trick my mother into eating it, and the icing should taste bitter.
  • keep it in the fridge!!! Avocados taste HORRID if you leave them out, trust me, I know.

NOTE: If you recognise the recipe and it isn't from Australian Women's Health then please do let me know so I can amend the post!

22 January 2013

Dark Chocolate & Peanut Butter Flappy J's

As my new apron will inform you, I make the very best flappy j's (flapjacks)....I've experimented with the same good-old Be-Ro recipe for a few years and added things, modified it, tried less sweetener, no butter etc. and my most recent variation is dark chocolate and peanut butter.

I know I said I wasn't baking this month as I was on a diet (note the use of past tense) but, I am me, and therefore unable to stick to any diet of any type that does not incorporate baked goods. And with all the snow today I spotted the hahstag #EatForSnow on my Twitter feed whilst lounging in my bed around mid-day (I'm housebound because my Mini doesn't like snow) I figured it was a pretty understandable feeling to have in this cold weather and off I went down the stairs to do some baking.

There's not much I can resist more than peanut butter. I've revolted housemates in the past by settling down in front of the TV with a big jar and a spoon, yes, it's really that good. Throw in some dark chocolate and you're guaranteed a winner. 

Together the flavours were wonderful - the dark chocolate has a bittersweet edge to it which compliments the salty nutty-ness of the peanut butter. The blocks I cut were a little crumbly, but if there's anything I've learnt from my flappy j adventures, it's that the texture varies and soft and crumbly is a winner.

I've decided to do a picture recipe so if you're following it, then you know it looks right....well, that's the logic I follow!

Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Flapjacks
50g crunchy peanut butter
50g butter
50g demerara sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
125g porridge oats
25g wholemeal plain flour
roughly 250g dark chocolate

1) Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line an 8" square tin - I didn't and it was messy.

2) Melt the two butters, sugar and golden syrup over a low heat until dissolved.

3) Break the chocolate into rough chunks - I opted for a unique and rather aggressive method.

4) Add your dry ingredients to the melted fats and combine well.
5) Press into the tin and bake for 20-25 minutes.

14 January 2013

Kurtosh: Sydney {review}

Well and truly sticking to the January tradition of being healthy, I am yet to do any baking this month so am still happily recounting eating trips I had last month in Australia. This time, I'm sharing the cake-eating experience I had at Kurtosh, a bakery in Surry Hills, Sydney.

I was taken to the bakery by a childhood friend who now lives in Sydney and knows her baked goods - under her advice I somehow ended up with two pieces of cake because I 'had to test them out' and it was a late birthday outing! 

Obviously one of my choices was peanut butter and chocolate; the cake was layered on top of a peanuty, crunchy base and between the cake was a thick covering of delicious peanut butter. Unfortunately, with that much peanut butter (how many times can I say those words in one post), the overall effect can get a little heavy in your mouth, but delicious none-the-less.  

I also had a slice of a victoria sponge; the sponge was beautiful and soft and bouncy, just perfect, and filled with a delicate layer of cream. It made a great pair with the heavier peanut butter slice and made me very happy and full.

The bakery has two locations in Sydney and is definitely worth a visit; a kurtosh cake, as I was told by the staff, looks a little like a cakey chimney. In store they had kurtosh cakes with a variety of crunchy, sugary toppings which looked delicious, and I can't remember why I didn't try one - probably tempted away by the peanut butter cake!

Kurtosh cakes I found online.

7 January 2013

A quick note...

If you happen to notice that I've created more 'pages' to my blog, including a recipe index and a page of reviews please only look through squinted eyes because they are very much a work in progress.  I wanted to make them live to bulk up my blog, but to create the recipe index I'm re-writing all my old posts as some didn't originally have recipes posted, so bear with me, it'll be complete soon!


Emma Jane

3 January 2013

Lemon and Poppyseed Cake

As is the tradition in January, I am on a no-carb diet.  Therefore I am totally avoiding temptation by only looking at pictures of deliciously sugary cakes, reading recipes and re-visiting how wonderful they tasted. I definitely don't feel like breaking my diet. At all.

Back in the Australian winter, which is in June because they're upside down, I spent a weekend out in the west of New South Wales staying at the home of my friend's boyfriend's parents.  Their house is surrounded by orange and lemon trees, all bulging with fruit, and has a beautiful kitchen so I couldn't turn down the chance to do some baking after a 4 month break.

When Starbucks first opened in my local town at home, all I ever had was a chocolate frappuccino and a 'skinny' lemon and poppyseed muffin. There was something about this combination of tangy lemon and crunchy poppyseeds with its' 'skinny' label that attracted me, and gave me the idea for this cake to use a handful of fresh lemons from the garden.

If I'm honest, I don't remember the recipe I used, except that it has three layers which makes me think its likely to be from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook....

All I can really remember is that I used the zest of 2 lemons to flavour the cake and a lot of poppyseeds poured and folded through carefully right before spreading the batter in the cake tins.  And the icing is swiss meringue buttercream, flavoured with lemon juice and topped with lemon zest.

It was pretty lemony and quite delicious.