Walnut Bread

So what if I told about a recipe for walnut bread — yummy, beautiful, moist walnut bread, dotted with chocolate chips even — that uses no butter, and no processed/ refined sugars? Hmm? Well. Prepare to be amazed. This is just the thing for winter afternoons. Make yourself a steaming hot cup of cocoa. Cut yourself a generous slice of this beautiful walnut bread, smother it with full fat butter, sit back and tuck in. I promise you, whatever it is that you are struggling with right now, this will make it better :).

Lets get started!

Ingredients:

75g of unrefined brown sugar.

175g of honey, or agave nectar (I went half and half).

200ml of whole milk (you could use almond milk and turn this into a lacto-free recipe).

50g of chocolate chips – optional (but lets face it, chocolate chips make everything better).

50g of roughly chopped walnuts.

225g of self-raising flour.

1 teaspoon of baking powder.

1 egg, beaten.

Method:

The first thing you want to do is preheat your oven to 180C, which is 160C with fan. And grease and line a standard loaf tin with baking paper.

Next up, get yourself a pan and pour in the milk, sugar, honey/agave nectar, and heat gently till all the sugar has dissolved. You will need to let it cool quite a bit before getting on to the next step.

Now get a large mixing bowl and put your flour, baking powder, walnuts and chocolate chips in. To this add the cooled syrup. And then the egg. Mix everything together really well, till you have a smooth mixture.

Pour this into your tin, sprinkle some more walnuts on top, and in it goes, in to your preheated oven for about an hour, or until a skewer comes out clean. Once done, let it cool in the tin for about 10 mins, and then turn out on to a cooling rack.

Or in any event *try* and let it cool before you do that thing we talked about earlier, you know with the cocoa and butter etc.

 

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A Bagful of Almonds – III – Chocolate Coconut Bites

Okay, so I have obviously saved the best for the last. You know when it’s mid-morning, or late afternoon, and you crave something sweet, and invariably reach for a bar of chocolate, or in my case, a flapjack? Sound familiar? Yes? Well, these little drops of goodness are perfect for those times, and they have absolutely nothing bad in them. Actually a health food. So you can stuff your face, within reason, without the slightest twinge of guilt. The sweetness in these comes from sticky sweet dates, the creaminess from almonds and coconut oil, and the general awesomeness from cocoa powder. Oh and this is another one for your blender by the way.

Should we get straight to it then? Good.

Ingredients:

1 cup of almonds.

1 cup of desiccated coconut.

3-4 tablespoons of almond butter (you could use any nut butter here).

1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil.

6-7 big fresh sticky dates – Medjool are really good, but I’ve made these with Daglet Nour dates as well, and those work just as well.

Drizzle of honey (optional).

Method:

First of all put your almonds and desiccated coconut in to your blender and blend till a flour forms (remember to use the milling blade if like me, you are doing this in the Nutribullet).

Next add the nut butter, coconut oil, cocoa powder, honey, and blend (extractor blade now). Then add the dates, slowly, so say, two at a time, and blend till you’ve used up all the dates and you’re left with a thick sticky mixture. Do take care not to over blend, because if you do your mixture could become too oily (almonds will release their oils, longer you blend).

So once you have your sticky mixture ready all you need to do is roll portions into balls and then dip those in extra coconut to coat them. Leave them to firm up a bit in the fridge for about an hour or so, and you’re done.

Incredibly good. And so nutritious. And they keep really well in an airtight container, in the fridge, for about a week. All those chocolate/sugar cravings sorted for a week. You’re welcome.

 

 

 

Ridiculously Good Chocolate Cake

There’s chocolate cake, and there’s chocolate cake. And this one is only just the best chocolate cake in the world. I’m sure I’ve sung praises of BBCGoodFood before, oh but it is a most fantastic treasure trove. Ahem. What I’m trying to say is that, as you can imagine, I’ve only tried five hundred thousand different recipes to find a cake that’s awesome, easy and foolproof. And of course I found it. And of course it was in the bbcgoodfood magazine. (Every few months I’ll pick up a copy to cheer myself up. Another thing that’s foolproof.) Now this recipe is intended to be for some kind of a freaky-finger-Halloween cake, which, shall we say, didn’t speak to me at all. Ahem. But the basic cake recipe is such a winner. My go to chocolate cake recipe. And it turns out perfect, better than perfect — rises beautifully, has the most amazing crumb, is incredibly soft and moist — every single time.

So, here we go. Thank me later.

Ingredients — 

175 gms of unsalted butter, softened. Oh and a bit more for greasing etc.

225 gms of sugar. Caster sugar is better but hey I’ve put all sorts in there and it’s always worked.

3 eggs. Organic. Best. A bit on the large side.

1 teaspoon vanilla essence.

1 tablespoon of red food colour (optional. So you can turn this very easily into a red velvet. But be aware that you’ll have to use one of those gel/paste/industrial strength colours to get the deep red effect. If like me you decide to stick with natural colours, you’ll just get a deep reddish brown cake. So much the better if you ask me).

200 gms of plain flour.

50 gms of cocoa powder. (I *heart* Green&Black’s).

1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda.

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.

1/4 teaspoon of salt.

150 gms of low fat natural yoghurt, loosened up with 2 tablespoons of milk.

 

For the Icing:

125 gms of unsalted butter, softened.

200 gms of icing sugar. (To be perfectly honest I don’t usually stick with hard and fast measurements for this. Keep tasting your icing as you add the sugar and stop when it tastes right. Yes? Good.)

2-4 tablespoons of cocoa powder.

Method —

Before you do anything else, turn your oven on and preheat it to 180C, which is 160C with the fan. Grease and line two cake tins (20 cm) with baking parchment.

That done, put your butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and get to work with a wooden spoon. Cream them together till nice and soft and fluffy. Of course you could go in with an electric mixer and make life easy for yourself. But I’m not allowed to do that — mama it’s too loud, and it’s better with a spoon anyway — Apparently.

Anyway. Beat in the vanilla. Next add the eggs, one at a time, mixing really well after each addition. And then the food colour, if you’re using it.

In another bowl mix all your dry ingredients — flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder.

Now, sift half of this on to your butter-sugar-egg mixture and gently fold it in. Then add half the thinned yoghurt and fold that in. Repeat with the rest of the flour. And yoghurt. That’s your cake batter all ready!

At this stage all you have to do is divide your batter equally between the two tins you’d prepared earlier. Use a rubber spatula (very recent convert to rubber spatulas but boy, they’re awesome) to scrape your mixing bowl and level the tops of your cakes.

Into the oven they go next, for about 25 mins. But you know how ovens are unpredictable. I suggest you let these bake for about 25 mins and then do a little skewer  test to see if they’re done. If not leave them in for another 5-7 mins and check again.

Once your cakes are done, take them out of the oven and leave them to cool in their tins for about 10 mins. Then turn them out on a cooling rack, and I know you’ll be tempted to either eat a bite or start on the icing, but don’t. Seriously. Wait till *completely* cool.

For the icing all you need to do is cream the butter, and add the sugar, a little at at time and beat together till smooth. Oh and the cocoa powder! Beat that in as well. Oh and  drop or two of vanilla essence if you want. Some people will ask you to sift the sugar and cocoa powder into the butter. I never do and the icing comes out perfectly smooth anyway.

So well done for waiting till the cakes are completely cool. Now take one of your cakes and put it on your serving plate, top down though. Take a big dollop of the icing and smooth it over the cake. Place the other cake on top. More icing on top and all around the cake as well. You can of course decorate your cake any which way you want. But, basically you done. Best chocolate cake ever.

 

Your’re welcome.