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

Published January 30, 2015 by The Feminist

choco or

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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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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Blissful Baking: Cheesecake Brownie with Berry Mousse

Published November 16, 2013 by The Feminist

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Two classic desserts melted into a one-in-a-million flavour bomb.

That’s how I would describe this splendid recipe for comforting goodness. Add to that a wobbling layer of boozy and creamy berry mousse and you would almost start to think you’ve died and gone to heaven. A foodie heaven. Populated with Nigella- lookalike angels who keep conjuring up the most luscious desserts the Almighty Sky has to offer. A heaven where everyone is allowed to eat the entire cake -because calories no longer count when you’re dead- and where there is always a bowl of leftover batter for you to dip your finger in.

It is hard to remain grounded when you’ve just baked something as extraordinary as this. The depth and richness of the fudgy brownie forms a blissful and romantic union with the zingy and smooth cheesecake. And the sharpness of the berry mousse coats both individually outstanding layers in a veil of unprecedented aromatic balance.

No matter how you twist or turn, there aren’t enough poetic verses on this planet to describe this insanely scrumptious brownie. So I will leave it at that and give you a couple more pictures instead. Let the pictures do the talking.

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brownie

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Ingredients:
This recipe is based on a Hummingbird Bakery Classic, but -as usual- I couldn’t help myself and changed some stuff to make everything more me. 😉

For the brownie:
• 150gr dark chocolate
• 75gr plain flour
• 2 eggs
• 175gr caster sugar
• 150gr butter

For the cheesecake:
• 300gr cream cheese
• 2tbsp whipping cream
• 100gr caster sugar
• 1 egg

For the Berry mousse:
• 2 leaves of gelatin
• 100gr blueberries
• 125gr raspberries
• 4tbsp cassis liqueur
• 150ml whipping cream
• 3 tsp icing sugar

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a spring form tin with baking parchment.
2. For the brownie: Melt the dark chocolate au bain marie. Whisk the butter and sugar together on high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the flour and gently fold in the melted chocolate. Spoon the batter into the prepared baking tin.
3. For the cheesecake: mix all the ingredients together until everything is well incorporated. Pour the mixture on top of the brownie.
4. Bake into the oven for 30-40 minutes. Leave to cool completely.
5. Beat the cream together with the icing sugar until you get stiff peaks. Put the berries in an electric mixer and mix to get a lovely coulis. Sieve the coulis so you’re left with a smooth and glossy red sauce. Stir the coulis through the whipped cream. Gently heat the cassis liqueur and add the soaked gelatin leaves. Let the leaves dissolve in the liqueur. Add the mixture to the whipped cream and pour the berry mousse on top of your cold cheesecake brownie. Put in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Double Trouble, Twice as Nice: Two very cute dried fig, rosemary and honey muffins

Published October 20, 2013 by The Feminist

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Before I start, let’s all do a quick experiment. Take one of your cookbooks and go to the baking chapter. My guess is that you’re looking at recipes for giant cakes, huge pies and an enormous batch of cookies. They all require ludicrous quantities of flour, sugar and butter and most of the time it feels as if you will be baking for an entire army…

Although I won’t deny that these recipes are ravishingly decadent and an ideal treat on family gatherings, sometimes you just want to bake for … well… you. Admittedly, you could easily indulge in a pristine-looking pie all by yourself and yes, you could finish that enormous batch of cupcakes on your own, but let’s face it, ladies: Doing so would neither be to the advantage of your butt-size nor would it be beneficial to your blood sugar level.

So in an attempt to steer clear from giant cake tins and pie molds, I decided to bake muffins. As in, two muffins. One for me and one for my mom. I wanted to show her that I really appreciate everything she does for me. To let her know that she is the backbone of this family and that –by far!- she is the most special woman on this planet. She is a real everyday superwoman!

I have to admit that I should probably say that more often to her. So there I was, in my kitchen, trying to figure out how to express my sincere respect and then I came up with these two cuties. Two utterly perfect and joyously delicious muffins. The fact that there are just two of them- instead of an entire batch of twelve- makes it even more special. It is an intimate token of affection. A small gesture of gratitude. From one person to another. These weren’t just two muffins. These muffins represented the bond between me and my mom: the fig stands for sweetness, the honey for warmth and the rosemary for depth, each twig embodying a shared memory…

gleesue

Jeeeeez, my apologies for the cheesy symbolism and corny metaphors. You have permission to hurl. This goes to show that there is a lurking bad poet in all of us. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe we should all try to be more of a bad poet and less of a perfectionist cynic?

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Just a thought.

Anyway, back to the food. Figs, rosemary and honey are a winning combination of flavours! They are a delicious accompaniment to a venison stew or some roast meat, form the perfect topping for pizza and are simply the best served with some goats’ cheese, walnuts and rocket…

And when you throw them in a cake batter, the end result is out of this world. Full of flavour. Full of warmth. Full of Love.

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Don’t you wish everything could be like that? 😉
Ingredients (makes 2 muffins)
• 58gr plain flour
• 27gr caster sugar
• ¼ tsp baking powder
• ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
• 62ml milk

2 tbsp egg
• 15gr butter or soy spread
• 35gr honey (plus some extra to decorate)
• 2 dried figs, chopped
• 1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped (plus two extra rosemary twigs)

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and grease 2 cases of a muffin tin.
2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of sugar and butter in a bowl and mix until you get a sandy consistency.
3. Pour in the milk and egg and mix well until everything is incorporated.
4. Stir in the honey, chopped figs and rosemary.
5. Pour in the muffin cases and drizzle some extra honey over the top. Finish with a sprig of rosemary and bake into oven for 22-25 minutes.
6. Share with a special person.

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Kitchen Lust: a Passion for Passion fruit and a Long-term love affair with cheesecake

Published August 8, 2013 by The Feminist

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This could possibly be the best summery, exotic cheesecake in the world. No wait, let me rephrase that: this is the best summery, exotic cheesecake in the world! I mean, a cream cheese and Greek yoghurt filling flavoured with fresh passion fruit juice on a crunchy base of coconut, cashew and cardamom… I am literally on the verge of fainting merely by describing its wonderfulness, so you can only imagine the state of sheer oblivion I was in when I actually tasted the cheesecake! (Although I must confess that “tasting” is a rather euphemistic term for “scoffing the whole lot” 😉 )

This will be the cheesecake by which all other cheesecakes will forever be judged. It is The Cheesecake. With a capital T and a capital L. The King of cheesecakes.

I have always had a huge soft spot for cheesecake. It’s by far the most indulgent and comforting dessert there is. It’s that velvety smoothness that seems to get to me every single time. I used to believe that I would eventually grow accustomed to that soothing clinginess but until this very day I still haven’t. Yes, I now realize that it is impossible to get tired of cheesecake. It is “The Notebook” of desserts: no matter how many times you eat it, you will never ever get bored of it!

This doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t shake things up a bit and bring some sexy back into your long-term relationship with cheesecake. And this is where the passion fruit comes in. I find it rather impossible not to be passionate about passion fruit: it is incredibly good for you, it has the most wonderful tangy, exotic flavour and the name sounds –you have to admit- at least a tiny bit dirty. If cheesecake is The Notebook of desserts, than passion fruit is definitely the Ryan Gosling of fruit. Just imagine Ryan Gosling standing in front of you –with or without his shirt on, that’s up to you 😉 – saying “passion fruit” in a very husky voice, speaking slowly as if to emphasize the sluttiness of those S’s…

passionfruit

Like I said, it’s impossible not to get passionate about passion fruit.

So If you want to do some seduction in the kitchen, I suggest making The Cheesecake!

Passion fruit cheesecake with a coconut-cashew-cardamom crust

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For the base:
• 50gr cashew nuts, finely chopped
• 50gr desiccated coconut
• 5 cardamom pods, seeds removed and finely chopped
• 75gr plain flour
• 65gr soy spread or butter
• 1tbsp water
• ½ tsp salt

For the filling:
• 4 eggs
• 150gr caster sugar
• 125ml Greek Yoghurt
• 400gr cream cheese (I used Philadelphia Light)
• 6 passion fruit, sieved to collect pulp and juice only

Method:

1. For the base, mix all the ingredients except the water together until you get a sandy consistency. Add the water and mix well until you get soft dough. Cover in cling film and put in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a springform tin with baking parchment. Take your dough out of the fridge and press the mixture into the bottom of your tin, using the back of a spoon to create an even surface.
3. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes. The pastry should be slightly golden but still raw in the middle.
4. Turn the heat of your oven down to 150°C.
5. Combine the Greek yoghurt and cream cheese together in a bowl with a pinch of salt.
6. Whisk together the eggs and sugar until you get a frothy consistency.
7. Stir the passion fruit juice in the cream cheese mixture. Then add the egg mixture and stir well until everything is well incorporated.
8. Bake in the oven for 1 hour. The cheesecake is cooked when springy to the touch and just set in the middle. I always put a large bowl of hot water at the bottom of the oven, this will keep the cheesecake moist and will prevent the top from crackling.
9. Once out of the oven, let the cheesecake cool slightly in its tin, then unclip the springform and put into the fridge for at least one hour.

When life gives you bananas, make cheesecake! Banana split, the cake edition!

Published June 16, 2013 by The Feminist

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For some reason the pictures didn’t really turn out the way I wanted them to. I was far too impatient to take a good picture, I simply wanted to dig in and settle in front of the TV with a giant slice of this wonderful piece of heaven: a fridge-set banana cheesecake with a buttery and chocolaty crumb-base. Who cares about proper pictures, when something like this is standing in front of your nose, right?!

So bad pictures aside for one moment, you do have to believe me that this cheesecake was divine! Instead of the usual crushed digestives base, I used very short French butter biscuits and added chocolate and hazelnut spread to give the banana cheesecake that wonderful 70’s banana split vibe! The cheesecake is packed full of deliciously rich banana flavour, but still has that soothing and palate-clinging creaminess to it. I can assure you that this banana cheesecake will make you forget all your troubles and drown you in an ocean of creamy banana bliss!

However, should you want to take it even one step further ( like me 😉 ) , you can accentuate the banana split revival even more by serving some hot chocolate sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream alongside it! (Again, I was just too delighted and hungry to even bother taking a picture of such a sinful dessert! )

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Banana cheesecake with a hint of chocolate

Ingredients:

For the base:
• 150gr French butter biscuits
• 40gr butter
• 40gr chocolate and hazelnut spread (such as Nutella)

For the cake:
• 300gr light cream cheese (such as Philadelphia)
• 6 leaves of gelatine
• Juice of one orange
• 200gr bananas, peeled and mashed
• 200ml double cream
• 3 egg yolks
• 110gr caster sugar

To serve with it:
Chocolate sauce, vanilla ice-cream, chocolate ice-cream, Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice-cream, whipped cream, caramelized nuts, chocolate shavings,…

Method:
1. • Break the biscuits into the bowl of a food processor, then add the butter and Nutella and blitz until the mixture resembles buttery sand. Tip this into your springform tin and press it into the base. Place in the fridge to chill while you get on with the filling.
2. Put the gelatine leaves in some tepid water and soak according to packet instructions.
3. Put the mashed bananas and orange juice in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until the mixture has combined.
4. Put the cream cheese, sugar and egg yolks in a bowl and beat on low speed until you get a thick and creamy mixture.
5. In a separate bowl, whip the double cream until it is thick but not stiff. Gently fold into the cream cheese mixture.
6. Take the soaked gelatine leaves out of the water and put into the warm banana mixture. (Make sure the banana mixture is just warm and not hot!) Stir well until all gelatine has completely melted.
7. Stir the banana mixture into the cream cheese batter and mix until well combined.
8. Spoon the mixture onto your biscuit base and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours. Decorate with slices of banana.