Elizabeth David’s flourless chocolate cake – an idea for Father’s day surprise

We are a family of three and on a daily base the emotions easily become  intense, good or bad, as there is no one else to turn to – but us. The rest of the family lives around the world, so other than the yearly visits to see some of them and lots of Skype time, we rely on our little family of three. Or at least that is how I saw it. Our son needed some time to understand that mum and dad were there to share their time, love and wisdom with him – evenly. For him it was simply natural to be around mum, and sometimes his father had to work hard to get his attention. Although it required much patience to manage the feelings, I new that it was just a matter of time when my leaving the house wouldn’t bring tears and a simple “bye mum” would replace them. That has been the case for some time now and as much as I enjoy the emotional growth I do miss the obligatory hugs and kisses I used to receive. On the other hand, that gives me a better understanding of being “the other parent”. Now I admire the father’s patience and wisdom even more. He was always there when needed, and patiently waited for the child to realise that he could share some moments with his father only and by doing so make them even more precious.

This cake is only a symbol of our love but it’s a sweet one and we love it, so why not share it! The favourite cake of all times for this family will be this one but this new version might replace the favourite one at least occasionally, as we have learned that new exciting ventures are just around the corner, we just have to let them reach us.  Elisabeth David’s flourless chocolate cake is a perfect example. This particular one is for all the fathers out there who love chocolate cakes!

Elisabeth David’s flourless Chocolate cake

230 gr dark chocolate

170 gr sugar

170 gr butter

170 gr almond meal

6 eggs

2 tablespoons  black coffee

1 teaspoon rum

Preheat oven to 150C. Line a 23cm baking tin  (with removable base) with baking paper.

Melt chocolate in a double broiler, add the coffee and rum, stir and add butter. Stir the mixture gently until butter is melted. Add sugar and egg yolks (one at the time) and stir again.

Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form and fold into the chocolate mixture. Pour into the baking tin and bake for 45-50 minutes. Cake should have crust on the top and should be very soft in the middle. That means it’s perfect! Best eaten as is or you can dust it with icing sugar.

Carob cake

Many years ago we moved to New Zealand, looking for new and bright adventures. A new start included everything being new to us. New country to explore, new people to meet, new jobs to start, and new life experiences! Perfect you would say! Except, there was one thing quite old and ruined in this perfect new world of ours, and that was the first house we decided to buy. The house we laid our yes on was neglected and unloved but we were young and enthusiastic back then and thus we thought it should be ours! We thought to fix it and live happily in it for many years to come.

We started with a rather impressive group of builders, but once some walls were removed, French door opened and bathroom and kitchen nicely done, we thought that it was a good time for us to move in! We knew that the walls needed to be done, and a few more jobs on top of that, but thought that we could do it! And we did! The house looked magnificent, at least to us, but peeling five layers of wall paper and a few other jobs were more than we could handle. After just a few weeks of living in the unfinished house we experienced such changes with our health that I had no other choice but to react the only way I knew – we changed our diet completely! All delicatessens and as you can imagine a lot of processed food was thrown in the bin and a new batch of greens (fresh and organic), found its way to our kitchen. So at least we had  healthy food on the menu every day and long walks along the beach (in-between house needing to be finished).

Now when I think about it, I am partially thankful to that experience as eating well is always a good choice. At the same time we could have done without the stress of poisoning our bodies I guess. As I said in the beginning of this story, being young and enthusiastic…can do more damage than good sometimes.

It took us almost a year to finish renovating the house. We lived another two years in it before moving across the world –  again.

While learning about healthy choices, by reading, talking to practitioners and friends, I came across carob as a new ingredient. I loved it from the very start and as carob was another way of having chocolate (that is how I saw it) I had to come up with a cake recipe. At this time we didn’t have a strong network of bloggers and finding recipes was sometimes a struggle. One would rely on books or, if you were lucky as I was, a dear friend could give you a recipe that you would adore. It stayed all these years in my recipe book, waiting for this moment to shine! It’s a wonderfully moist and comforting cake. Carob has magical ways to make you feel healthy and at the same time to be part of this sweet and delicious cake. It’s a Mediterranean tree and although it grows mostly along the Adriatic sea (I am referring to my background otherwise you’ll find carob in many other countries) if you go for a walk in one of Belgrade’s park called Topcider you will be pleasantly surprised by many carob trees! The park ground is literally covered with carob legumes at the  beginning of May, which is also a spring season.

According to some previous knowledge and recent google research – carob is rich with proteins, magnesium, calcium, iron and a whole list of vitamins like, A,B, B2, B3 and D. It found its way to the medicine as well, so as I told you – healthy and sweet. It has 40% of sugar! So let’s get back to the cake!

Carob cake

200 gr unsalted butter at room temperature

250 gr sugar

3 eggs at room temperature

100 ml milk at room temperature

200 gr oat flour

50 gr plain flour

100 gr carob powder

1 teaspoon vanilla paste

pinch of sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

100 gr jam of your choice for filling (I used strawberry jam as this is the most popular in our household, plus I believe that it’s matches this cake perfectly).

 

Whisk the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy (hand or stand mixer will do the same job). In a different bowl whisk lightly the eggs and add milk into it. Reduce the speed on your mixer while adding the egg and milk mixture. Once all is well combined add carob and on the end add flours and baking powder, spoon by spoon. Keep the speed of your mixer on low. Mix just until combined and poor into a lined 6″ baking tin.

Bake on 180C for an hour or until done (sometimes I find that I need more time to bake this cake, additional 10 minutes or so). Use the cake tester to make sure the cake is done.

Cool the cake on a cooling rack before cutting in two layers. Spread the jam onto the first layer and cover with the second layer. I never keep this cake in a fridge (but it can be done). It just changes taste a bit and I prefer when it’s nice and soft and on room temperature. The good thing in our case is that it never last for too long so room temperature is ok. Dust with icing sugar and slice into thin pieces as it is a very rich cake.

Chocolate truffles

When I decided to make my first truffles I had no dilemma about where to look for the recipe. Who else to look up but Alice Medrich, the lady who started her career making and selling truffles! The rest is really a history. I am sure that there is not a person or maybe I should be more specific, a person involved with food (even just as a gourmand), who hasn’t heard of this lady. Her recipes are unique in delicacy, balance of ingredients and beauty. I have loved everything I’ve baked from her recipe collection and these truffles are just another winner.

Truffles are a simple but rather rich dessert. They can be nicely accompanied by a glass of wine or nice sip of liqueur. I’ve made many different ones but these are my latest favourite. The texture is just divinely smooth.

I am in the middle of reading Alice Medrich’s Flavour flavours book and I am sure there will be many more recipes I will want to share with you here. In the mean time, enjoy these.

Chocolate truffles

2 large egg yolks, at room temperature

455 gr bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

140 gr unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/8 teaspoon salt, preferably fine sea salt

30 gr unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably natural, or as needed

115 ml water

Separate the eggs and put the egg yolks into a heatproof bowl and place it into a bigger bowl already filled with warm water (to warm up the egg yolks).

In a different heatproof bowl. add the butter, the chocolate and the salt and melt it over simmering water until it reaches at least 50C (can be done without thermometer).

Heat up the water, take the egg yolks from the larger bowl and pour the water over them. Mix with whisker until well combined (again temperature should be at least 70C), then pour the mixture trough the strainer into the butter/chocolate mixture, not forcing any eggs to go through the strainer. I used a whisker to combine all ingredients, the original recipe suggested using a food processor to process the mixture until you get a nice and smooth mixture. At this point the texture is so nice and smooth, then you can tell what wonderful truffles you will end up with.

Pour the mixture into a lined dish (I used rectangular shape 10×30 cm) and leave in the fridge for at least two ours to cool. Take the dish out of the fridge, invert the truffle onto a working bench and cut into a 2×2 cm squares. Roll or rather dust (since I kept them into a square shape) with cocoa.

A simply wonderful treat!

Chocolate buckwheat cookies

Buckwheat flour and I have a rather long history. The first thing that would cross my mind and is related to this flour, would have to be pastry sheets made of buckwheat flour and all the beautiful pies made out of them. Cheese and spinach to start with then apple pie, pumpkin pie and any berry pie and I can go on like this forever, obviously. I am quite sure you get the picture but just in case, I’ll tell you one more story: Last year my son and I made a trip across the world to visit the grandparents. We hadn’t seen each other for some time and we were all looking forward to it. Alas, when we arrived to my mum’s house late in the evening, we were all tired and Maksim had a temperature as well but I can still remember how my heart melted when I saw the choice of food my mum had made for us. A buckwheat filo pastry goat cheese and spinach pie. I could not think of anything that would make me happier or anything else that could bring back so many memories. Maksim didn’t eat much that evening or any other actually whereas with me it was quite the opposite. Continue reading “Chocolate buckwheat cookies”

spelt chocolate chip cookies

spelt chocolate chip cookies

We met a while ago, chocolate chip cookies and me, at one of our family gatherings on the Mediterranean seaside at my sister’s holiday house. The days were relaxing as they can be on holidays and we were busy only at dinner time. The adults used to make the dinner and the kids were in charge of the desserts. Although we were quite often treated with the ice cream from the gelateria just meters away from the house, a very special treat was – chocolate chip cookies! My nieces use to bake them for all of us, but I remember them disappearing quickly, without us having a chance to taste them. Turns out that my nephew was the main culprit. They were his favourite then and from what I hear, they still are. Actually, kids sharing the sweets between them was a good thing, especially with these kinds of treats! After all they are more a kids treat anyway.

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little buckwheat torte

little treats

What do you do when a friend is coming for a visit? And it’s sudden! Well, first you take out from the freezer a test bake of dairy free and gluten free cake  (I’ve replaced plain flour with rice flour and I’ve used almond milk). Then you take out leftover vanilla buttercream from the fridge to give it a chance to soften. It’ll go great with the cake except it wont be dairy free any more. In this case that is not an issue so I was happy to add this lovely filling I was saving for, it turns out, this cake. Then last but definitely not  least, heat up the chocolate that you made for glazing the chocolate cake, just the previous day.

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brownies

brownies

I can remember exactly when and where I tasted my first brownie! Obviously it was love at first sight and you don’t forget that easily. Back in the 90’s we lived in Auckland, New Zealand. We were leading a very busy life. I was a self employed designer and I had no time to bake chocolate cakes and all those wonderful cakes I grew up with. Nevertheless, I missed them very much.

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sacher torte

Sacher torte

My husband is a very happy person when it comes to me cooking for us. It is just when he likes something to be made again we have to go through the following discussion repeatedly: “Could I write down the recipe and do the same dish or cake again, please?” My answer is always positive, but in reality it is likely to be the first time that I am actually working on it. Recipes are in my head all the time, writing them down, sometimes is a struggle. There are so many options out there in the cake world and often I start working on one and finish with something different. And finally have you tried going to the market and buying ingredients just for the chosen recipe. Never worked for me. The kitchen full of different ingredients is real inspiration. It is so much more fun cooking the way I feel that day, than following the old recipe.

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