Tag Archives: dessert

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.

 

Lime and coconut cheesecake slice

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You might mistake me for being obsessed with sugar if you were to know I have SEVEN different types of it in my pantry at home! How this has come to be, I’m not entirely sure.

I obviously do a lot of baking and need caster sugar, and brown sugar as a standard. My husband buys coffee sugar, though it’s so similar to the demerara sugar we also have in the cupboard, I wonder why he bothers. Then there’s the cane sugar, I think that was given to me as a gift. I use raw sugar in my tea, and just recently, I bought some coconut sugar, because, there’s obviously a shortage here!

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Coconut sugar is different. It’s not as sweet as processed white sugars and it has a lower GI, 35 compared with white sugars 60 something.  It’s extracted from the sap of blossom buds from the coconut palm.

You’d expect the flavour to taste of coconut but it doesn’t! It has hints of caramel that are subtle and earthy and it’s dark colouring adds a soft brown tinge to any thing it’s baked in. It’s in the base for this coconut and lime cheesecake and in the cream cheese filling too. Although I’m a sucker for dessert, I hate overly sweet ones. What I liked about using the coconut sugar was it didn’t make the cheesecake too sweet. You could still taste the lime AND the cream cheese.

For those who can’t get their hands on coconut sugar you can substitute it in both parts of the recipe with brown sugar (a favourite of mine in baking). But if you like to experiment, I highly suggest giving the coconut sugar a try.

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The zest and juice of any citrus fruit will serve you well when flavouring a baked cheesecake.  I’ve used lime in this one but you could just as easily use lemons, or tangellos, mandarins, or grapefruit. Just recently, I wrote a recipe for the magazine that used tangellos in the cheesecake filling and it was a huge success.

Success also comes with not over cooking your cheesecake. Any cheesecake I bake generally gets 45 minutes in the oven at 150C. You get perfect cheesecake every time – with no cracks! A slight wobble to a cheesecake is a good sign – remember it will firm up as it’s left to cool.

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 Lime and coconut cheesecake 

Ingredients 

For the base

1/4 cup coconut sugar

3/4 cup self raising flour

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup almond meal

100g butter, melted

For the filling

500g cream cheese

1/3 cup coconut sugar, plus 1 tbsp for garnish

2 limes – zest and juice

1/2 cup Greek style yoghurt

4 eggs

To garnish 

3 tbsp toasted coconut

 

Pre heat oven to 150C. Line a 23cm square tin with baking paper. Place all the dry  ingredients for the base in a medium sized bowl, add the melted butter and stir till well combined. Press the mixture into the lined tin. Use your hand to press the base and make an even surface. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove base and set aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, chop the cream cheese into pieces, place in a food processor with coconut sugar, lime zest and juice and yoghurt, blitz till mix is smooth. Add one egg at a time and blitz between additions till all eggs are incorporated.  Pour the cheesecake mix onto the baked base, sprinkle with the remaining 1 tbsp coconut sugar and bake for 45 minutes.

Set cheese cake aside to cool completely. To garnish, sprinkle cheesecake with 3tbsp toasted shredded coconut (optional). Slice cheesecake into squares. Serve as is or with double cream.

 

 

 

Cardamom and ginger poached pears

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I’m fussy about poaching pears. You have to be.

For a perfect poached pear there are rules to follow: I can think of seven.

Don’t go for heavily sugared poaching syrups – these must be avoided at all costs. Water enhanced with a little sugar, spice or citrus is just right and allows the natural flavour of the pears to shine through.

The pears must be firm but on their way to ripening. They should still be green but have a slight give when pressed firmly.

Prepare the syrup first so it comes to the boil BEFORE adding the fruit.

The syrup, once the fruit is added, must be kept to a simmer – one of soft bubbles just breaking the surface.

Watch over the pears as they poach – not like a hawk, more like a mother sneaking a peep on a sleeping baby.

And if the syrup gets too hot and begins to bubble too much, simply pull from the heat, till the syrup cools slightly, and return to a gentle simmer.

Once the pairs have become transparent, they are cooked. Remove from the heat and allow them to cool completely in the liquid.

I know, it’s fussy right?

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But then, the fuss pays off. And you have a bowl of glistening poached pears that can be eaten in so many ways, like with muesli or porridge, with yoghurt or ice cream, bake them in a crumble, serve them in a salad, eat them cold, or eat them warm; Serve them on a cheese platter.

Remember, never underestimate the fuss required for the prefect poached pear.

 

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Cardamon and ginger poached pears 

Ingredients

8 William pears – green but starting to soften

10 Cardamon pods, bruised

6-8cm piece of ginger, sliced into 1cm thick pieces

2/3 cup caster sugar

1 .5 litres water

1 small lemon

Heat 1 .5 litres water in a large pot, add cardamon pods, sliced ginger, sugar and lemon, stir and bring to the boil.

Meanwhile, use a peeler to peel the pears. Cut pears into quarters, then use a small knife to remove the pips. Keep some of the stalks on the pears as these look great for presentation. Try to work quickly so pears don’t oxidise and turn brown.

When all the pears are prepared place them into the boiled syrup, turn down the heat, cover pears with a sheet of baking paper to weigh them down and poach on a low simmer for 25 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave pears to cool in syrup. Once cool, store in air tight containers for 1 week in the fridge. Eat cold or warm.

(C) Copy right Food From Michelle’s Kitchen 2016 Cardamom and ginger poached pears

Life would be dull with out cake

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Life would be dull with out cake. I try to eat it only on occasion, and some times I manage, other times I can’t help myself. I need cake in my life. It makes me happy.

A good recipe should be shared and this one already has been. I learnt this recipe from a chef I worked with, at Zinc cafe, many years ago. She was a great baker and engaging mentor and helped set me on the path to understanding the science of baking.  This cake has also featured in the magazine I write recipes for because it’s too good to keep to myself.  I’ve baked this coconut lime and ginger cake so many times now I’ve lost count. That’s a good thing.

 

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Baking is a learnt skill and one that needs to be practised. When I first started my chef apprenticeship I was terrible at baking.  I knew  the bare essentials. My cakes often flopped and my pastry always shrunk. There wasn’t the opportunity, in a busy kitchen, to learn on the job. I had to teach myself. I studied Stephanie Alexanders “The cooks companion” in my early days of learning how to bake. Her encyclopaedic book contains many excellent recipes. And over time with some disasters came successes.  I discovered the joy of pulling a well-risen cake from the oven and of making pastry that was flaky and buttery and didn’t shrink. So for those out there who don’t bake, have perseverance, it’s a worthy skill to master.

 

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I love the large chunks of ginger, on this cake, they give a burst of pepper flavoured zing. You could grate the ginger instead of slicing it, so it’s finer and less punchy. Thanks to the ginger and lime syrup, the cake keeps moist for several days. I keep it in the fridge and on day two and three give it a quick zap in the microwave to soften it up again. Double cream is optional but not necessary.

 

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Coconut lime and ginger syrup cake

Ingredients

For the cake

190g butter, softened

280g (1 ¼ cups) caster sugar

1 lime zested

4 eggs

3 cups desiccated coconut

150g (1 cup) self raising flour, sifted

1/2 cup sour cream

For the syrup

2 limes, zested and juiced

50g ginger, peeled and sliced thinly

1/2 cup caster sugar

1/4  cup  water

 

Pre heat oven to 170C or 150C fan forced. Line a 23cm spring form cake tin with baking paper.

 

Cream butter, sugar and zest of 1 lime till pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating between additions; scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl during additions of egg.

 

Add coconut, flour and sour cream; beat till combined. Spoon cake mix into lined tin and smooth the surface to flatten and level cake. Bake in the oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and set aside whilst making syrup.

 

Place all ingredients for syrup in a small saucepan, bring to the boil and cook for 1 minute. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Whilst syrup and cake are still warm, spoon the syrup evenly over the top of entire cake. Allow syrup to soak into cake, and cake to cool before slicing.