Baking Wednesday – Caramel Slice

Howdy Y’all,

Happy Hump Day! So yesterday was rainy and I was trapped inside with Little L (argh!!) One thing she loves and often asks to do is bake. I read recently in a blog about an app I have been meaning to try called Hippy Lane. The app is recipe-based but only contains health-conscious recipes. They promote that the sweet treat recipes are gluten free, vegan, dairy free, and contain no refined sugar. Trying to find recipes that have these bases covered but still taste delicious is a challenge. This app is very sophisticated and styish and the photographs are beautiful.  I had a very quick gander through my pantry to see what ingredients I had and Little L and I selected the recipe for  Caramel Slices. Where I am from it is referred to as millionaire’s shortbread and  it is delicious and I thought this would be a great introduction to its yumminess for Little L. So here is how it went:-

Recipe

Summary

Creamy, delicious bars of gold. These caramel slice bars are just like the real thing with a crumbly biscuit base, smooth caramel center and silky chocolate top, you will be taken to choc caramel heaven with each bite. Free of dairy, gluten and sugar, you can enjoy them guilt-free.

Ingredients

Base

1 1/2 cups (225g) cashews

1/2 cup (40g) desiccated coconut

8-10 medjool dates, pitted

3tbsp rice malt

Caramel

1 cup (150g) medjool dates, pitted

1/4 cup (60ml) coconut oil

1/2 cup (125ml) tahini or almond butter

1/2 cup (120ml) rice malt syrup

1 tsp vanilla powder

Pinch salt

Chocolate

1/3 cup (36g) cacao powder

1/2 cup (120ml) coconut oil, liquid

1/4 cup (60ml) maple syrup

1/2 tsp carob powder (optional)

Steps

  1. To make base, reduce cashews to small pieces in the food processor.
  2. Add coconut and pulse.
  3. Add dates and rice malt, and process until combined and sticky.
  4. Press base into tin lined with baking powder and freeze.
  5. Making caramel by processing all ingredients until smooth.
  6. Spread caramel over base and freeze.
  7. For the chocolate, whisk the ingredients until well incorporated.
  8. Spread chocolate evenly over slice and freeze.
  9. Remove from freezer 30 minutes before serving.

 

Lifestyle Lady Findings

  • Firstly I could not find rice malt so I substituted agave syrup.
  • I used almond oil instead of tahini.
  • I did not have vanilla powder so I substituted for vanilla essence.
  • As you know I am yet to buy a brownie tin, but that would be the ideal size to make these in.
  • Call me lazy but I loved the ease of the prep and that it needed no baking. It was an ideal recipe to do with a toddler. They can lick the spoon and not get poisoned!
Little L and I really enjoyed making these, it was a great rainy day activity. It is seldom that I get excited about an app and this one has me very eager to try more. It is well worth the $2.99 price tag. When it is raining and half way through the week who wouldn’t want a slice of chocolate gold?
Enjoy,
Ta ta for now,
TLL x
PS. message from Mr L: TLL had to lock these away to stop me eating the whole lot! :@)  Will be taking them to work to dilute the waistline expansion.

Best Brownies Ever Challenge!!!

imageHowdy Y’all,

Happy hump day! Who needs a pick-me-up to see them through till Friday? I feel I do this week in particular, after Super Tuesday I think we could all do with a sugary treat. (Who is with me?) I am well aware that I am raising an American daughter and although we try to help her identify with her British culture I do try to learn more about American culture.  One thing I am trying to do is find a recipe to bake the perfect brownie. When home at Christmas a dear friend of ours had us over for lunch and she had the children help make the dessert of brownies and the recipe was called the Best-ever brownies. Could this be the recipe to end all recipe’s which would mean I could serve them to my American friends.  Here is what happened :- 

Prep Notes

  • It was in this post where I made delicious Moroccan Orange cake that I wrote about one of my top tips in making caster sugar, it does make a difference to the texture of the bake.
  • It was when making my famous carrot cake that I wrote about using a whisk instead of a sieve, it makes much less mess!!!
  •  I did not have a 20cm square tin, my tin was nearer 23cm and I rounded up the ingredients but it still worked. If I was looking into investing in a brownie tin – any recommendations?
  • I also did not quite enough dark chocolate so I substituted the difference for white chocolate.

Ingredients 

  • 185g unsalted butter
  • 185g best dark chocolate
  • 85g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 50g white chocolate
  • 50g milk chocolate
  • 3 large egg
  • 275g golden caster sugar Cut 185g unsalted butter into smallish cubes and tip into a medium bowl. Break 185g best dark chocolate into small pieces and drop into the bowl. Fill a small saucepan about a quarter full with hot water, then sit the bowl on top so it rests on the rim of the pan, not touching the water. Put over a low heat until the butter and chocolate have melted, stirring occasionally to mix them. Now remove the bowl from the pan. Alternatively, cover the bowl loosely with cling film and put in the microwave for 2 minutes on High. Leave the melted mixture to cool to room temperature.
  1. While you wait for the chocolate to cool, position a shelf in the middle of your oven and turn the oven on to fan 160C/conventional 180C/gas 4 (most ovens take 10-15 minutes to heat up). Using a shallow 20cm square tin, cut out a square of non-stick baking parchment to line the base. Now tip 85g plain flour and 40g cocoa powder into a sieve held over a medium bowl, and tap and shake the sieve so they run through together and you get rid of any lumps.
  2. With a large sharp knife, chop 50g white chocolate and 50g milk chocolate into chunks on a board. The slabs of chocolate will be quite hard, so the safest way to do this is to hold the knife over the chocolate and press the tip down on the board, then bring the rest of the blade down across the chocolate. Keep on doing this, moving the knife across the chocolate to chop it into pieces, then turn the board round 90 degrees and again work across the chocolate so you end up with rough squares.
  3. Break 3 large eggs into a large bowl and tip in 275g golden caster sugar. With an electric mixer on maximum speed, whisk the eggs and sugar until they look thick and creamy, like a milk shake. This can take 3-8 minutes, depending on how powerful your mixer is, so don’t lose heart. You’ll know it’s ready when the mixture becomes really pale and about double its original volume. Another check is to turn off the mixer, lift out the beaters and wiggle them from side to side. If the mixture that runs off the beaters leaves a trail on the surface of the mixture in the bowl for a second or two, you’re there.
  4. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture over the eggy mousse, then gently fold together with a rubber spatula. Plunge the spatula in at one side, take it underneath and bring it up the opposite side and in again at the middle. Continue going under and over in a figure of eight, moving the bowl round after each folding so you can get at it from all sides, until the two mixtures are one and the colour is a mottled dark brown. The idea is to marry them without knocking out the air, so be as gentle and slow as you like – you don’t want to undo all the work you did in step 4.
  5. Hold the sieve over the bowl of eggy chocolate mixture and resift the cocoa and flour mixture, shaking the sieve from side to side, to cover the top evenly. Gently fold in this powder using the same figure of eight action as before. The mixture will look dry and dusty at first, and a bit unpromising, but if you keep going very gently and patiently, it will end up looking gungy and fudgy. Stop just before you feel you should, as you don’t want to overdo this mixing. Finally, stir in the white and milk chocolate chunks until they’re dotted throughout. Now your mixing is done and the oven can take over.
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, scraping every bit out of the bowl with the spatula. Gently ease the mixture into the corners of the tin and paddle the spatula from side to side across the top to level it. Put in the oven and set your timer for 25 minutes. When the buzzer goes, open the oven, pull the shelf out a bit and gently shake the tin. If the brownie wobbles in the middle, it’s not quite done, so slide it back in and bake for another 5 minutes until the top has a shiny, papery crust and the sides are just beginning to come away from the tin. Take out of the oven.
  7. Leave the whole thing in the tin until completely cold, then, if you’re using the brownie tin, lift up the protruding rim slightly and slide the uncut brownie out on its base. If you’re using a normal tin, lift out the brownie with the foil. Cut into quarters, then cut each quarter into four squares and finally into triangles. These brownies are so addictive you’ll want to make a second batch before the first is finished, but if you want to make some to hide away for a special occasion, it’s useful to know that they’ll keep in an airtight container for a good two weeks and in the freezer for up to a month.
Ingredients
The amount of ingredients required is relatively few.
Caster Sugar
TLL quick spin of turning regular sugar into caster sugar
cjoc
The smaller the lumps of butter and chocolate the quicker it is to melt.
melting choc
Melting- smells so yummy
MeltChoc
All melted and so glossy
Sugarandeggs
This is the sugar and eggs after 7 mins on high in my Kitchen Aid mixer
ChoppedChoc
So hard to resist a little nibble! I love white chocolate
Sieve
Another LL top tip using a whisk instead of a sieve
Mix
Adding the melted choc to the aired mixture, such a marbled beauty
Folding In
I used the figure of eight method as I did not want to loose air in the mixture, it took a while to mix in but it does come together I promise
Before Oven
The finished mixture so pretty and glossy
Yummy
The finished brownie served warm with ice-cream. Is there another way??
Tastetester
My cute chief taste tester giving her verdict, what is she thinking?

I think this recipe was a real hit, the brownies are simply delicious. Gooey and fudgy on the inside and crisp and hard on the outside. I loved them and served warm with yummy ice cream. How do you like yours? I urge you to give this a try they are well worth it. I now need to test on an American audience for verdicts. Who wants to volunteer?

Ta ta for now,

TLLx

A Family Cake – Moroccan Orange Cake

 

Howdy Y’all,

Happy Hump Day, you are close to the weekend! Yay!  So I have not done a baking post for a long while (sorry) and this one is special. This is the cake that Mr L asks for each year for his birthday. (Yes I make a vague attempt to make a cake for family – who doesn’t want to blow out a candle and feel old?!) This is not only special because Mr L loves it but it is one of his family recipes. It is a cake that his mother makes (no pressure!!!!  I do not make it as good as her- end of.) It comes from his family cookbook (so you see they are good cooks!)  Many of you may not know but my husband is half Algerian and although this recipe is from Morocco and no my Geography is not that bad! I still think of it as a nod to my husbands heritage and therefore to me it is important. It is also yummy, and does not require lots of icing and decoration which is a win win for me. So I must thank my mother in law for taking the time to document all these family recipe’s it will be lovely for Little L to have a collection of recipes that generations of her family members have made before her, what a lucky little lady she is. Now onto the baking …

 

caster sugar making
Love my Kitchen Aid processor!

Lifestyle Lady Top Tip

Before I start, you will see below the recipe asks for  caster sugar. This is something I have struggled to find in the US, and it does definitely make a difference to the texture of the cake. To combat I use regular granulated sugar and measure the amount required, I then place it in my food processor for about 2 mins and Voila a consistency similar to caster sugar! This might sound like a time consuming faff but it is worth it. Makes for a lighter cake.

Other Information – US readers

  •  I cheated and used dried breadcrumbs and it worked fine. I am sure that it would taste better with fresh.
  • I could not find Star Anise, the seeds worked well.
  • Could not find Orange Flower Water so I used Orange essence.
  • Ground Almonds or Almond Flour is a little more expensive but can often be found on special, grab it then. It is usually found on the health aisles of most major grocery stores.
  • I use this microplane zester, one of the best purchases ever. Makes it so easy and I keep the skin on my knuckles. Win win.
  • This can be made ahead and actually tastes better the next day.
  • As my mother in law suggests it would make a super dessert.

 

Recipe

Moroccan Orange Cake – Courtesy of my mother-in-law

This cake is fragrant with spices and citrus aromas. The syrup makes it moist and soft. It can be served for dessert with a little whipped cream or Greek yoghurt.

Ingredients

For the cake:

5 large eggs, separated

300g caster sugar

350g ground almonds

4 tablespoons fresh white breadcrumbs

3 teaspoons baking powder

400ml sunflower oil

½ teaspoon almond essence

Finely grated zest of 2 oranges

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

For the syrup:

2 star anise

2 small cinnamon sticks

4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed

4 tablespoons runny honey

2 tablespoons Orange Flower Water

Juice of 2 oranges

Juice of 1 lemon

Method

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 (180˚C). Grease and line a 23cm springform cake tin. In a large mixing bowl, combine the caster sugar, ground almonds, breadcrumbs and baking powder. Add the citrus zests. In a jug, beat the eggs with the oil and add the almond essence. Now pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 50 – 60 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Meanwhile, make the syrup: gently heat the citrus juices, honey and spices in a small saucepan. Simmer for 3 minutes, then reserve, covered, for the flavours to infuse. Stir in the orange flower water just before using.

When the cake is cooked, remove it from the oven and pierce the top with a skewer all over. Remove the spices from the syrup and pour it over the hot cake, a little at a time, waiting for the cake to absorb the liquid as you do so. Leave the cake to cool in the tin, then remove, using the baking paper to help you, and place on a serving plate. You can use the whole spices to decorate the top.

It will keep well for up to 3 days, stored in cling film or foil in the fridge.

Pictures 

Ground Almonds
Love love love these scales, I received them as a wedding gift and I think of that person every time. I love that about gifts – don’t you? All the dry ingredients.
dryingredients
I make sure I buy the biggest lemons and oranges I can find to get plenty of zest.
wetanddryingredients
Adding the wet ingredients to dry, the mix will look a little curdled/split that is totally fine.
mixedingredients
The split look but trust me it will come out yummy
cakeinoven
I forgot to take a picture before it went into the oven. Another note I usually have a baking tray underneath the tin, so its easy to get in and out of oven, this was the second one I had made in the week and I was in a hurry, I had to get to Peppa Pig theatre show – mummy problems.
syrup
While the cake is baking in the oven I make the lovely syrup. The smell is divine, another tip is place the fruit in the microwave for 20 seconds, the heat will help you squeeze more juice out.
finalcake
The finished article. Before you think its burnt it is not. It is saturated in syrup and the light makes the edges look black. It is so delicious please give it a try.

We all love this and I served it to Mr L’s office as cake of the month, it was different to anything they had before and not one slice was left, which is tribute to the taste of the cake. If you fancy something different give this a try.

Ta ta for now

TLL x