dessert

All posts tagged dessert

Dense, Dark and Devilishly Delicious: This Chocolate & Orange Cake Has It All

Published January 30, 2015 by The Feminist

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Chocolate and orange: it’s a classic combination that works every single time. But be prepared: this wonderful cake takes this traditional match-made-in-heaven even one step further onto the delicious scale, for this is not just a regular chocolate cake flavoured with orange zest or juice. Oh no. This cake is like a giant cake version of chocolate covered candied orange peel, for it boldly not only contains the zest or juice of this citrus fruit, but the whole – yes , the whole! – orange.

If you think putting whole oranges in a cake sounds a bit bonkers, I totally feel ya. It is not something I, an amateur Belgian baker, do on a regular basis either. But nevertheless, I was so terribly intrigued I simply had to try it! After all, the Spanish have been doing it for centuries! And if there is anything the Spanish know how to do – apart from dancing the flamingo and making paella- it is baking orange cakes. (Preferably using Valencian oranges, of course.)

So there I was, in my tiny Belgian kitchen, boiling two oranges (I used the smaller, but very flavoursome Minneola oranges) in a pot for about an hour until they were completely tender and my kitchen smelled like a Spanish beach party. After that heavenly scented hour, I blitzed the oranges in a blender. Whole. Including juice, flesh and skin. This amazing puree is then mixed through the other ingredients, poured in a tin, baked in the oven  … et voila! You will have never tasted such a wonderful chocolate cake in your life! Thanks to the orange puree, the cake is dense, moist and incredibly pudding-like; anything but what you’d expect from a traditional flour-based chocolate & orange cake. Moreover, the orange notes are punchy, but not too overwhelming, and seem to make the chocolate taste even more chocolatey.

What did I say again? Oh yes, the best chocolate and orange cake EVER.

So my dearest readers, you can stop being skeptical. Bake this cake. You won’t regret it.

Ingredients:

  • 50gr butter
  • 25gr cocoa powder
  • 2 Minneola oranges (or you could use 2 smaller regular oranges or clementines)
  • 2 tbsp rum
  • 1 egg
  • 140gr caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 85gr flour

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a loaf tin with baking parchment.
  2. Cook the 2 oranges in boiling water for about 1 hour until they are soft and tender. Drain and let them cool slightly before blitzing into a pulp in your blender.
  3. Once you’ve blended the oranges into a puree, put the puree in a large mixing bowl together with the cocoa powder, rum and sugar.
  4. Stir in the egg, mix well, and finally add the flour.
  5. Pour the batter into the baking tin and bake for 30 minutes in the oven.
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Wonderfully Eccentric: Amaretto, Orange and – hell yeah! – Couscous Cake

Published January 17, 2015 by The Feminist

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Weird, Wacky and Wonderful.

No, this description doesn’t just fit my very own personality (you know what they say: “know thyself and thou shalt be happy”), but these three adjectives are also the best way to describe this delicious cake.

When I told a random stranger at the gym that I had just baked the most incredible sweet couscous cake, she looked at me as if I was completely bonkers. (Admittedly, the fact that I simply wanted to share that with a stranger while running on the treadmill probably contributed to her thinking I was mentally challenged.)

Anyway, what I would like to say to that random stranger at the gym – and everyone else who is reading this with a huge frown on his forehead: wipe that frown off your face, darling! Using couscous in a sweet cake may sound rather eccentric at first (eccentric in this case being a euphemism for absolutely fucked up), but once you’ve tasted this cake, you will realize that this is in fact a sweet tooth’s revelation. The couscous adds great texture to the sponge and gives it a nice earthy flavour-dimension. Although this cake is slightly denser and heavier than a simple flour cake, your plate will be empty before you know it, thanks to the zingy, fragrant and sticky orange and fenugreek syrup that is poured all over the top of the cake once it comes out of the oven. This crazy-sounding syrup not only adds extra flavour, but makes the cake so intensely moist.

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And once you know that I’ve also poured in a good splash of Amaretto, you just know that the initially wacky is in fact rather wonderful.

So weird as this all may sound, this couscous cake is a culinary sensation!

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Amaretto, Orange and Couscous Cake With a Fenugreek Syrup

Although there are quite a few powerful flavours in this cake, one will never overpower the other and they all marry beautifully well together.

Ingredients:

  • 90ml olive oil
  • 60ml Amaretto
  • 60ml fresh orange juice
  • 70gr orange marmalade
  • 2 eggs
  • 35gr caster sugar
  • 35gr desiccated coconut
  • 40gr plain flour
  • 90gr spelt couscous
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • Almond flakes to garnish, optional

For the syrup:

  • 50ml water
  • 50ml fresh orange juice
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 4 tbsp honey

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Whisk together the olive oil, juice, marmalade, Amaretto and eggs until the marmalade is semi-dissolved.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the coconut, sugar, flour, couscous and baking powder. Add these to the wet and mix well until combined.
  3. Grease and line a loaf tin with baking parchment. Pour the batter into the tin and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.
  4. Near the end of the baking time, place the syrup ingredients in a small pan and bring to the boil. Let it reduce slightly until it gets syrupy. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, pour one third of the syrup over the cake. Wait 5 minutes and pour over another third of the syrup. Wait another 5 minutes and pour over the remaining syrup. Let the cake cool down slightly in the tin before removing from the tin. Scatter some almond flakes over the top, if you wish.

Baking With Booze: White Russian Tiramisu

Published September 4, 2014 by The Feminist

The following video should come with a warning: If you’re a pessimist, cynic, grumpy old fool, you better stay miles away from this video.

Seriously, this video seems to have been blessed by the spirit of the late Saint John Lennon. At one point it is absolutely normal for viewers to either feel nauseous of so much sugary peace talk, or expect me to start throwing flowers and papier-mâché butterflies in the air.

However, given the current state of the world –filled with so much trauma, tragedy and horror!- I think my hippy attitude is justified. In fact, if everyone would just start focusing on spreading love instead of hatred, the world may not be doomed after all.

 

Let’s create some peace, y’all! And what better way to start doing that than by making this White Russian Tiramisu, right?

Ingredients:

  • 250gr mascarpone
  • 200ml double cream
  • 70gr caster sugar
  • 140ml Vodka
  • Pack of ladyfingers
  • Large cup of coffee

Method:

  1. Stir the mascarpone, sugar and 70ml of vodka together until you get a smooth consistency. Set aside
  2. Whip up the double cream until you get stiff peaks. Gently fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture.
  3. Mix the coffee together with another 70ml of Vodka. Dunk the ladyfingers in the boozy coffee and layer the bottom of a tin with the fingers. Spread a layer of mascarpone on top.
  4. Add another layer of coffee-soaked ladyfingers. Now top with the remaining mascarpone mix.
  5. Put in the fridge for 4 hours (or overnight). Grate some dark chocolate on top for decoration.

Drop It Like It’s Hot: Plum and Rosemary Tarte Tatin

Published August 3, 2014 by The Feminist

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I know what you’re all thinking: Why the hell is she linking a delicious tarte tatin with dirty, feminist-infuriating Snoop Dog lyrics?

It is indeed a reasonable question to ask. But fear not, fellow feminists: I have not yet lost my feminist-ranting skills, I just thought the term “drop it like it’s hot” actually describes really well the mental horror one has to go through in order to dare and flip a tarte tatin.

If you have ever tried to make one, you will definitely be able to relate to the following description: You take your hot pan out of the oven… and you leave it to rest for a couple of seconds… while you figure out the best way to flip that flaming hot pan… and to make sure the tarte tatin remains intact… and that it doesn’t start leaking hot caramel juices onto your palms… or drop to the floor…

I’m sure some of you think this is a highly familiar scenario. I love baking, I do. And honestly, I am quite good at it. But I am –hand on heart- as clumsy as Bridget Jones trying to hoist herself into a pair of shaping underwear. I drop things on a regular basis. I constantly knock things over. I sometimes trip over my own feet while waiting in line at the drug store (seriously, how is that even possible?).

Hence, flipping things upside down is not my forte.

So there I was, staring from the hot pan, to the plate on which it was supposed to end up, back to my hands and arms that were appointed the dreadful task of having to flip the pan over.

Damn, I really should have considered working on my arm muscles at the gym!

I felt my heart beat inside my throat. My hands were shaky and drops of sweat were gathering on my forehead.

I counted to three.

One.

Two.

Three.

I flipped the pan, eyes closed.

The delicious tarte tatin almost ended on the floor. Almost.

I nearly burnt myself on the hot pan. Nearly.

But even though it was touch and go, that brilliant tarte tatin made it onto the plate safe and sound.

Cheers for me!

If you are like me (i.e. a clumsy chick with zero arm muscles), it might seem too much of a daunting predicament to put yourself through in order to get a dessert on a plate. However, this plum and rosemary tarte tatin is worth it. The tangy and sharp plum marries perfectly with the fragrant rosemary and the sweet caramel melts it all together with a heavenly comforting touch. Add to that some crisp puff pastry (hurray, it wasn’t soggy!) and some fresh Greek yoghurt rippled with honey to go on top and you just know that the grand flip-the-hot-pan adventure will soon be forgotten…

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Plum and rosemary Tarte Tatin

Ingredients:

  • 9-10 plums, cut in half
  • Sheet of puff pastry
  • 60gr caster sugar
  • 40gr muscovado sugar
  • 50gr butter
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Cointreau
  • 1 tsp corn flour
  • 100gr Greek yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp honey

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Melt the butter in a large pan and add the two types of sugar. Slowly let it dissolve into a lovely caramel. Stir in the Cointreau mixed with the corn flour and let it bubble for a couple of seconds. Sprinkle in the rosemary. Put the halved plums into the caramel, cut-side down, and top with the puff pastry. (Make sure the pastry is nicely tucked into the edges of the pan.
  2. Put in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
  3. Meanwhile mix the yoghurt with the honey.
  4. Remove the hot pan from the oven and let it cool for a couple of minutes before flipping/serving. (if you see that there is a lot of liquid in the pan, try and scoop it out a little bit before flipping.) Flip the tarte tatin onto its head and onto a nice plate. Garnish with a couple of rosemary twigs and serve with a dollop of Greek yoghurt.

Meet My Inner Magician: Banana and Cardamom Upside-Down Cake

Published July 6, 2014 by The Feminist

banana

Admittedly, this is not the most attractive looking cake, but trust me when I say that what it may lack in appearance it totally makes up for in flavour. The great benefit of baking things upside down is that it creates the loveliest and moistest of all cakes. Moreover, successfully flipping the cake once it has come out of the oven (and has cooled) makes you feel like a million dollar magician. In one fell swoop I managed to transform a plain, dull-looking cake into something that looks somewhat außerirdisch exotic. (Eat this David Copperfield! I’d like to see you conjure a delicious banana upside-down cake out of a top hat!)

This exquisite cake has an incredible “banany” flavour. However, while I was assembling the cake, I suddenly realized that I didn’t have enough bananas lying around in my kitchen to fill the entire bottom of the cake tin.

Quel problème.

So I decided to add some sweet melon as well. This added an extra fruity dimension, but given that this cake is called a banana upside-down cake, you don’t need to add the melon, should you decide to bake this one yourself. (and let’s be honest, you would be mad not to give this one a try!)

This is not where our flavour palate ends, dear readers. Because besides the gorgeous banana (and melon), I also added aromatic cardamom seeds and –brace yourself! – gin.

Yes, gin.

It didn’t make the cake taste boozy, but it added some extra herby and aromatic freshness together with the cardamom. (Plus: it’s just really cool to say that I put gin in my cake)

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Ingredients:
• (at least) 3 bananas, sliced
• 1 tsp cardamom seeds
• 4 tbsp gin (I used Bombay sapphire)
• 150gr butter
• 150gr caster sugar, plus two tablespoons extra
• 3 eggs
• 150gr plain flour
• ¾ tsp Baking powder
• ½ tsp Bicarbonate of soda

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Put baking parchment at the bottom of a loose-bottomed cake tin and grease with butter. Sprinkle two tablespoons of caster sugar on the bottom of your tin and layer the banana slices snugly on top of it. Sprinkle some cardamom seeds on top of the bananas (approx. ½ tsp)
2. Make the batter by mixing together the butter and sugar until pale. Mix in the eggs one at a time. Now add the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and the remaining cardamom.
3. Finally stir in the gin and pour the mixture on top of the banana slices.
4. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes and leave to cool completely before flipping the cake upside down.
5. If you want to add an extra caramelized top, sprinkle some extra sugar on top of the cake and put it bake under the grill for a couple of minutes.
6. Tadaa!

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Like Starbucks, Only Better: White Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes

Published June 28, 2014 by The Feminist

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Did you ever hear about “the afternoon slump”? When your head feels like a box filled with bubble wrap, your energy level is below zero and when you wish your desk could turn into a mattress and pillow?

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Well, when I am in need of a pick-me-up, I always go to Starbucks for some coffee. One of my favourite beverages from Starbucks is the white chocolate mocha. Strong espresso, comforting white chocolate sauce and soothing steamed milk… could there possibly be anything better than that?

Yes.

Espresso, white chocolate and milk all mixed into one cupcake.

One cupcake!

This cupcake is a true teatime delight and will give you just that caffeine boost you were looking for! So forget about Starbucks! This time you will get your afternoon treat from your own kitchen!

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Ingredients (makes 6 regular or 4 large cupcakes):

  • 2 tbsp coffee granules
  • 100gr white chocolate
  • 75gr Greek yoghurt
  • 50gr soft light brown sugar
  • 150gr plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 90ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake cases.
  2. Mix the sugar and coffee granules together to create a less lumpy mixture. Toss the flour, cinnamon, baking powder into the bowl with the coffee-sugar mixture and mix well until everything is incorporated.
  3. Beat the egg with the milk, yoghurt and vegetable oil together in a jug. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix. Chop up 40gr of white chocolate and stir it in the batter.
  4. Pour the cupcake mix into the cases and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Leave to cool completely. Once cooled, melt the remaining white chocolate in the microwave and drizzle over the cupcakes.

 

An Elaborate Dessert for An Elaborate Writer: Rococo Rhubarb and White Chocolate Cake

Published June 20, 2014 by The Feminist

rococo

Rococo. Apart from this word’s very alluring and joyous syllables, I have always been a fan of Rococo because of its decorative style of art. I love how Rococo is anything but subtle. How it is abundantly rich in ornamentation. Decoration… foliage… flowers… animals… joy… love… wit…

It is basically a visual representation of my very own brain, because just like Rococo, I am anything but subtle.

I don’t do sober. I decorate.

I twist and twirl, jump and jive, rock and roll.

Whether it’s my thoughts, my fashion style or my writing, I never manage to stick to the basics. I elaborate. I elaborate a lot. Why would I want to remember easy riddles, if I can plunge myself into a maze of thought-provoking wizardry? Why would I wear basic jeans, if I can put on a psychedelic printed peplum skirt? Why would I want to get my point across using but a few words, if I can use an entire Oxford dictionary?

Basically, Rococo is me in art-form. Or maybe I am Rococo in human form?

Whatever it is, I just want you to know that being elaborate is okay. It is okay to decorate your emotions with extremes. From high degrees of lightness and petite prettiness, to ravenous intensity and profound melancholia.

In Rococo, there is no such thing as moderate elaboration.

Not in thoughts, not in fashion, not in words…

And definitely not in food.

This delicious rhubarb cake is the embodiment of Rococo. It may not look very decorative, but once you’ve tasted it, you will realize why this cake is rococoppropriate. Not even the biggest, oldest, Shakespearean-approved dictionary will suffice to describe the taste of it.

The sharpness of the rhubarb (tons and tons of rhubarb!) gives a tart flavour, the white chocolate is like a heavenly sweet hug and the gluten free body of the cake (I used ground almonds only) makes it delectably moist and scrummy.

This cake Ro(coco)cks.

Believe me.

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Ingredients:

  • 80gr white chocolate
  • 35gr butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 40gr caster sugar
  • 4 large rhubarb sticks
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds, plus extra to decorate
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • Handful of chopped pistachios

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line a small rectangular baking tin with baking parchment.
  2. Heat a knob of butter in a small pan and sauté the rhubarb with 2 tbsp of caster sugar until tender. Remove from the heat.
  3. In another pan, melt the butter and white chocolate together. Stir until combined.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together until pale and smooth. Slowly pour in the melted chocolate-butter mixture and mix well.
  5. Stir in the baking powder and ground almonds and pour the mixture into the baking tin.
  6. Scatter the stewed rhubarb into cake mix. It is a lot of rhubarb, I know. But believe me, it is worth it. It will create a lovely moist cake, packed full of rhubarby goodness!
  7. Sprinkle some chopped pistachios over the top and finish with an extra sprinkling of ground almonds.
  8. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

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