Category Archives: chocolate

The Miraculous Flour-Less Chocolate Cake

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In 1996 my mother bought me a cookbook.

The book titled ‘YUM’ by Terry Durack, a well known Australian food writer and critic, still commands prime position on my now heavily laden shelf, 20 years on. There are several reasons for this. The most important one being the recipe for his Miraculous Flour-Less Chocolate Cake.

The binding of the book has long fallen from its cover. There are smudges of chocolate over its pages. The paper it was printed on is looking a dull shade of white yellow, but still this book remains on my shelf. Why? Because it’s the best darn chocolate cake I’ve ever baked!

I practically know the recipe off by heart, (I’ve baked it so many times), yet I still take the book out each time and savour those smudges, those faded pages, and the reminiscing it invokes of all the times I’ve cooked and eaten this cake from this cookbook.

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I was a third year apprentice chef, learning the ways of the kitchen, and how to thrive in (at the time) a male dominated industry, when I was given this book. Lets say it has sentimental value. ‘Yum’ reminds me of long hard days working in professional kitchens, being young and free, learning to cook, and what makes a good recipe. And my Mother, it reminds me of my Mother.

But the Miraculous flour-less chocolate cake recipe, lets talk about that! I think it’s the fudge like consistency that I’m most attracted to. It’s never dry like some flour based chocolate cakes can be. The blending of melted chocolate, butter and almond meal feels strong, and then the folding of whisked egg whites makes it light. 

For me, the importance of good cook books are the memories they can invoke. We’ve all been exposed to many an average cookbook. You know the ones. Someone gains a little celebrity status and they then write a cookbook book full of over saturated recipes trying to make us believe they are experts in the felid of cooking. Those cookbooks leave me feeling uninspired.

‘Yum’ on the other hand is of a different era, where cookbooks were peoples life work; recipes they’d been cooking for years. Recipes of substance and worth.

To quote Terry Durack, in reference to his Miraculous Flour-Less Chocolate Cake recipe he says ‘I borrowed it from Jill Dupleix, who borrowed it from Elizabeth David, who borrowed it from the French. It taught me the value of borrowing recipes’.

And his words in turn taught me the value of sharing recipes. Enjoy!

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The Miraculous Flour-Less Chocolate Cake

(Adapted slightly from ‘Yum’ – Terry Durack)

200g 70% cocoa dark chocolate

150g caster sugar

150g butter, diced

100g ground almonds (almond meal)

5 free range eggs, separated

To Finish

Dutch cocoa or icing sugar 

Cream or ice-cream 

Pre heat oven to 175C Line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper.

Melt the chocolate, sugar and butter in a bowl sitting on a pot of simmering water.

Remove from heat, stir thoroughly to combine. Mix in the ground almonds, then beat in the egg yolks one by one.

Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, and stir a couple of spoonfuls into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, before gently folding in the rest.

Pour into the cake tin, and bake for 40 minutes.

Leave to cool slightly before removing from tin. Dust with cocoa, or icing sugar, or eat as is. Serve with cream or ice cream.

 

Coconut Pepita and Chia Biscuits with Dark Chocolate

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I have to admit, I’m more of a cake-kind-of-girl then a biscuit one. It’s not that I don’t appreciate a good biscuit. I do. Actually, I’m sharing this recipe with you now because this IS a good biscuit. It’s a great biscuit. It’s crunchy…not too sweet…and can actually be debated that’s it’s kind of healthy.

And what makes it so? Wholemeal flour is a good start – sure beats processed white.

Then there’s the pepita seeds – the pretty green seed taken from inside a pumpkin seed – which by the way are full of iron, magnesium and zinc.

LSA mix – ground linseed, sunflower, almond meal – is in here too. That adds some healthy omega-3 fats.

Chia seeds are full of calcium and high in antioxidants – apparently they have higher levels than blueberries! – and they replace the need for egg – remember this recipe?.

And coconut, well, I just love coconut…

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These biscuits have a similar method to an Anzac biscuit, only they’re healthier.  The melted chocolate on top is totally optional and not altogether necessary. If I’m short on time I skip the melted chocolate part and leave them as is.

My kids love it when I bake these biscuits. Actually, my husband probably loves it just as much they do, maybe more. He’s a biscuit-kind-of-guy. He’s been known in the past to buy horrible supermarket biscuits. He practically has to sneak them in the door so I don’t give him a lecture on how foul they are, how full of processed rubbish they are, and how overly sugared they are – poor guy, must be tough being married to me.

He does love these though and if I’m trying to get him on board for some favour I need doing then a batch of these oh-so-good-biscuits are a great place to start.

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If you want to make these for the kids to take to school, yet your having to follow strict school guidelines about no food with nuts (this is seriously out of control this whole allergy thing) then leave out the LSA mix and add an extra 2 tbsp wholemeal self raising flour. That keeps them nut free and school lunch-box-friendly.

Coconut pepita and chia seed biscuits with dark chocolate

Ingredients

100g butter

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2tbsp hot water

160g wholemeal self raising flour

2 tbsp LSA mix (ground linseed, sunflower and almonds)

80g brown sugar

60g shredded coconut

70g pepita seeds

80g dark chocolate bits, plus extra for melting if desired

Pre heat oven to 175C OR 155C fan forced. Place the butter, honey, chia seeds, bi carb and hot water in a small saucepan. Stir over a medium heat till butter melts. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

Place the wholemeal flour, LSA mix, brown sugar, shredded coconut, pepita seeds and chocolate bits in a medium size bowl, stir till well combined. Make a well in the center of the flour.  When the butter mixture has cooled add to the flour mixture and stir till dough comes together.

Line two trays with baking paper. Take a spoon of biscuit mix and roll it into a ball, place it on the lined tray then use your finger tips and palm of hand to flatten to a circular shape. Continue with remaining mix till all biscuits are rolled and flattened.

Bake in the oven for 18 – 20 minutes, or till golden and cooked through. Cool biscuits on a wire rack. If you are drizzling with the extra chocolate – this is optional and feel free to skip this step – place melted chocolate in a snap lock bag, snip off the end, and drizzle biscuits in a zig zag manner. Allow chocolate to set. Store the cold biscuits in an airtight container for 5-6 days.

Chocolate, Avocado and Macadamia Nut Brownie

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When I first started out as an apprentice chef (all those years ago) I would of never considered combing avocado and chocolate. No Way! I would of screwed my nose up and shouted “don’t be ridiculous”. But these days, I’m excited by the idea.

Last year I experimented with chocolate and beetroot and found this combination to be earthy and tasty, and right. I feel much the same about combing avocado with chocolate; there’s an earthiness, and richness, and a depth to the taste; it’s perfect baked into a brownie. It’s fun.

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A pinch of sea salt can do marvellous things when used with chocolate. I added some to the avocado, which was then folded through the melted chocolate and this gives the chocolate that salted kick. It takes the edge away from the sugar and balances the chocolate in a most alluring way.

Macadamia nuts are native to Australia and I find myself using them in everything. I love them in this brownie. You might consider hazelnuts or walnuts, but macadamias have a creamy nuttiness that work so humbly beside the avocado.

Generally speaking, I like my brownie pretty fudge like, you know, almost under cooked. The brownie I’ve photographed needed five minutes less – damn phone ringing – 18-minutes would be perfect for fudge-like brownie, 22-25 minutes for those who like it cooked through.

 

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Because I’m mad about bitter chocolate, when the brownie came out of the oven, I grated some Venezuelan 100% cocoa chocolate on top. I also dusted it with cocoa, this was probably an over kill.

My five year old can longer tell me she doesn’t like avocado because, ha, she ate it in this brownie and never knew the difference! I will forever use this an an example that she REALLY DOES like avocado.

Chocolate, Avocado and Macadamia Nut Brownie – makes 15 pieces

Ingredients 

200g 70% cocoa chocolate

125g butter

2 eggs

150g ( 2/3 cup) caster sugar

150g (1 cup) plain flour

1 large avocado

1/4 cup milk

pinch sea salt

80g (1/2 cup) macadamia nuts

To serve – optional

Dutch cocoa for dusting

 

Pre heat oven to 170C. Line a 30cm by 20cm tray with baking paper.

Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a medium bowl with the butter. Place the bowl over a shallow pot of simmering water and allow the chocolate to melt. Remove from the heat, stir till smooth and well combined. Set aside.

Meanwhile, place the eggs and sugar in a bowl and whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes till light and fluffy.

Place the avocado flesh, milk and sea salt in a food processor and blitz till smooth (if you don’t have a food processor you could mash the avocado with a fork, add the milk after it’s mashed and try to get it as smooth as possible).

Add the pureed avocado to the warm melted chocolate and stir to combine. Add the chocolate and avocado to the eggs and sugar and fold gently. Sift the flour onto the chocolate mix, add the chopped macadamias and fold till just combined. Pour into the lined tray, and evenly smooth out the batter, Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes – if you like it soft and gooey, or 22-25 minutes – if you like it a little firmer.

Cool in the tin for 5 minutes. It’s optional at this point to grate some extra chocolate on top (whilst it’s still warm). Remove brownie from tin and cool on a wire rack. Cut into desired pieces, and dust with cocoa, or sprinkle with sea salt, if you wish. Store in an air tight container for 3 days.

Chocolate, chia and banana cake

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It’s high time I posted a cake recipe. The last cake recipe I shared was an old favourite I’ve been baking for years, one my sister has taken to and now bakes for any and every occasion a cake is required. But this little beauty is a new recipe. It’s based on a simple banana cake but tweaked with the addition of chia seeds and dark chocolate. The dark chocolate is of the high cocoa bean variety. I tend to use 70% cocoa bean chocolate in ALL my baking now and often buy the organic and fair trade blocks.  It’s bitter slightly tangy flavour is preferred to the sugary milky chocolate that’s so often sold to home cooks. Plus, dark chocolate contains higher amounts of antioxidants and flavonoids, that’s gotta be a good thing right?

 

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The delight in learning how to use chia seeds has come through my baking. When you soak chia seeds in water, they turn to a thick gel and can actually replace the use of eggs. Soaked chia seeds act in much the same way as eggs do in baking by holding the cake together. I have a cherry and chia seed cake I like to bake. The chia seeds give it a chewy outer crust whilst keeping it moist, much the same as a cake rich with eggs would. I’m into this chia seed thing.

It’s inevitable, especially when you have kids in the house, to always have a few over ripe bananas gathering spots in the fruit bowl. The positive aspect of this is, overripe bananas are the ones to use in your baking. Brown spotted bananas have the best flavour and sweetness for banana cakes, muffins or loaves.  And over ripe bananas can be frozen too, so there’s no need to toss them out. Rejoice in the brown spotted banana! Freeze them with their skins removed and you’ll have them on hand at any time a banana cake is required.

 

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Chocolate, chia and banana cake

Ingredients 

125g softened butter

1 cup brown sugar

2 large ripe bananas, mashed

200g plain flour

50g wholemeal self raising flour

1 tsp bi carb soda

1 egg

2 tbsp chia seeds

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp mixed spice

Pinch salt

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

 

Pre heat oven to 180C. Line a 23cm spring form cake tin with baking paper. Place chia seeds in a small bowl, add 1/4 cup cold water and whisk to combine, set aside for 10 minutes. In  a separate bowl, sift together the plain flour and bi carb soda, add the wholemeal flour, spices and a pinch of salt.

Place softened butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream till well combined. Add egg and beat till combined. Add mashed banana and soaked chia seeds, beat to combine.  Add prepared flour with spices and milk, beat slowly till combined. Add chopped dark chocolate and fold till just combined.

Place mixture in prepared tin and bake for 50 minutes. Stand for 10 minutes. Remove spring form cake tin and allow cake to cool on a  baking rack. Once cake is cool, cut into wedges and serve as is or with double cream.

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Chocolate and Beetroot Mini Cakes

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“Chocolate and beetroot!”, you may well scream, “Are you mad?” These two ingredients might seem unlikely companions, yet they work tremendously well baked together in a cake.

I want to feel that cake I’m eating is offering some sort of health benefit. It means I can eat more of it. So what does the beetroot do? It adds fibre, and antioxidants, lowers blood pressure, and cleanses the liver. It’s a super food. And that’s enough reasons for me to bake with it.

 

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If you have fussy eaters who may not be adventurous to try this combination, just don’t tell them. Like me, you might accidentally forget to mention the inclusion of beetroot, and in most cases, your guests will be non the wiser. You can then take great delight in announcing afterwards that they have just eaten chocolate cake packed with beetroot.

They might just thank you for it.

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Chocolate and Beetroot Mini Cakes

Ingredients

For the cup cakes

100g chocolate – 70% cocoa, chopped into small pieces

150g softened butter

1 cup caster sugar

2 free range eggs

1 cup grated beetroot (2 small beetroot, peeled)

1 cup plain flour

¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp bi carb

1/3 cup milk

For the chocolate icing

100ml thickened cream

100g chocolate -70% cocoa, chopped finely

Pre heat oven to 180C or 160C fan forced. Line a 12 holed, ½ cup capacity muffin mould with paper cup cake liners. Place chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a shallow pot of simmering water. Stir and melt chocolate till smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

Cream together butter and sugar till pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, scrapping bowl between additions. Add grated beetroot and combine.

Sift flour, baking powder and bi carb onto butter and beetroot mix. Add milk and beat till combined. Pour in melted chocolate and mix till well combined.

Divide cupcake mix between the 12 cupcake cases. Bake for 20 minutes. Set aside on a baking rack to cool.

For the ganache icing, heat thickened cream in a small saucepan, turn off the heat just before it comes to the boil. Add the chopped chocolate, stand for 1 minute, then stir till chocolate melts and ganache is smooth. Stand for 10 minutes. Spread icing onto cooled mini cakes. Store left over cup cakes in a sealed container in the fridge.