Taiwanese pineapple cakes


It was a new dimension of desserts for me the first time I ever ate these little cakelets which somehow blur the thin line between shortbread cookies and cakes and in fact these are stuffed in the middle with a sweet pineapple filling, one bite is all it takes get transported into a sweet dreamy land of flaky crust and delicious jam.

These are irresistible if anything and my dear Taiwanese friends who were kind enough to share these treats informed me of their importance in their culture as a staple during coffee, tea or snack time and even shared the recipe which I used to make a version of my own which though not nearly as beautiful as the ones they shared comes decently close in taste. 

The pineapple cakes have a particular mould which one can easily buy but I tried improvising and came to the conclusion that making them in their particular moulds would be a far better option, however, if you want to try them just as then, by all means, use a muffin tin as I did as I’m about to show you.

Ingredients for the pineapple jam filling

 Cook the crushed pineapples on medium hot flame 

until they begin releasing water and add lemon juice

once most of the water is cooked off add cinnamon

and sugar

the pineapple mixture will become wet once again after the addition of sugar so keep cooking and stirring until it’s thickened to a paste. Chill the jam for an hour before forming cakes so that it slightly firms up.

ingredients for shortcrust pastry case

I made this using a processor but you can use these just as easily with a wooden spoon. Mix together the butter and sugar

until evenly combined

add egg yolk and mix

and tip in flour, baking powder, cheese and milk powder mixture and evenly combine

until it comes together and begins to clump

form into a dough without kneading it much and shape into a log

and slice into equal portions. You don’t have to be precise because you can always add or remove some dough during the cake forming process.

Roll each part into a rough circle about 1.5-2 inches in diameter.

and now for the fun part that’s filling each casing with the now cooled pineapple jam. Add about 2 tsp worth in the middle of the pastry.

and fold so that opposite ends meet in the middle. Squeeze them together with thumb and index finger smoothing the seam and form into a ball.

Place into muffin tins if you do not have a mould and press gently before baking at 170º for 10 minutes

and then flipping them over to brown on both sides. Bake again for another 10-15 minutes

until they’re lightly golden. Some of them broke in the process but that didn’t keep them from tasting remarkable. Let them cool for at least 10-15 minutes before eating because they’re hot and extremely soft. Their shortcrust casing gets firmer with time and somehow I like them better when they’re firm so I let mine be for a couple hours.

I also tried making some free-form ones and concluded that these are better off aesthetically in their respective moulds but they taste just as divine even in their unorthodox shapes.

They aren’t as difficult as one would think, just a little time consuming if you are new to their realm which I was and to eat one of these is to know how different these cookie cakes can be and the pure pleasure that something so tiny is capable of imparting in each bite.


Ingredients for the jam filling 

  • Pineapple- 500g (use fresh or tinned)
  • White sugar- 50g (1/4 cup)
  • Brown sugar- 50g (1/4 cup)
  • Lemon juice: 1 Tsp
  • Cinnamon powder- 1/4 tsp (optional)

Ingredients for shortbread dough

  • Butter- 100g
  • Sugar – 45g
  • Parmesan cheese- 10g
  • Milk powder- 10g
  • Egg yolk – 1
  • Baking powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Flour- 130g

Recipe instructions

Make the jam filling by crushing the pineapples in a food processor and cooking over medium heat until the water begins evaporating. Add lemon juice, cinnamon powder if using and brown and white sugar and cook until the jam is thickened.

Chill until further use.

Mix together the flour, parmesan cheese, baking powder and milk powder in a bowl and set aside.

Make the pastry by mixing butter and sugar using a processor or wooden spoon. The butter shouldn’t be cold. Add the egg yolk to the mix and evenly combine before adding the flour mixture. Mix them but do not knead and form a shortcrust pastry until the mixture begins to clump.

Lightly form into a log shape and cut into even pieces.

Roll each piece into a 1.5-2 inch circle and fill the middle of each with 1-2 tsp of the now chilled pineapple jam.

Form into a smooth ball by squeezing together the opposite ends and smoothening the seams.

Press into moulds or muffin tray putting gentle pressure to flatten each cake.

bake at 170ºc for 10 minutes and flip over the cakes to bake on the other side for another 10-15 minutes until evenly browned.

Let cool on a wire rack before serving.

Can be eaten fridge cold or warm.

Enjoy!

Earl Grey tea cookies


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There isn’t any particular fondness for Earl Grey tea that I nurse in my heart, in fact, I never much thought about it but that was before I had an Earl Grey cookie at a speciality speculoos shop and one bite had me converted. The subtlety in its aroma bonded so luxuriously with the flavours of butter and a very slight hint of cinnamon that there was only so much I could do to not go through them like a savage.

I had tried unsuccessfully after that to recreate the magic of those crunchy bites but almost every time they came out too dense for my liking, until a few weeks ago when finally I found myself biting into one of these and finding them admirably crunchy and deliciously fragrant. Easy to make and all too easy to devour.

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The ingredients are few. Just flour, butter, sugar, salt, earl grey tea, cinnamon and vanilla extract.

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To get the tea to impart maximum flavour it’s best to lightly toast it first on a very low flame. Toss it on a dried pan until fragrant, for a minute or so and then let cool.

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mix it with sugar and pulse it a few times to disperse equally,  this enables the sugar to absorb the tea scent.

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Like so

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In a separate clean bowl cream the butter

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and add in the tea and sugar mixture

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beating it thoroughly

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add in the flour

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vanilla extract

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cinnamon (it’s better mixed in with flour)

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and salt

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and mix the ingredients. It should begin to clump once everything is well incorporated. This mixture here was still a little crumbly and so I remedied it by adding a spoonful of full-fat milk.

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and thoroughly mixing

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to get a cohesive mixture

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which clumps if you press it together.

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for this mixture to form cookies we need to shape it into a log. Place plastic wraps over the work surface and scrape the cookie dough on it.

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Cover the dough with the wrap and roll it like it were a rolling pin to form a longish log shape which is not too thin because we should be able to slice fat coin shaped cookies out of it.

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Once you’re satisfied with the shape and dimensions of the log, refrigerate for an hour until it firms up, making it easier to slice.

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Unwrap and place on chopping board once firm.

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and slice into cookies, ensuring they’re neither too thick nor too thin because the former won’t be that crunchy and the latter might catch too quick.

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something like this. these are about quarter of an inch thick.

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place on baking mat and bake at 180ºC for 12-15 minutes or until the edges turn light gold.

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Let cool before serving. These keep well in an airtight jar for up to a week.


Ingredients 

Earl Grey tea: 6g

Sugar: 120g

Flour: 160g

Butter: 100g

Vanilla extract: 1tsp

Cinnamon: 1/2 tsp

salt: 1/2 tsp

Milk: 1-2 tbsp (optional)



Recipe instructions:

Lightly toast the tea on a low flame for a minute until lightly fragrant and let cool. Pulse it with sugar until evenly dispersed.

In a clean bowl cream together the butter and sugar and add flour, cinnamon, vanilla and salt and mix to form a dough. The dough should begin to clump together and if it doesn’t then add a spoonful of full-fat milk and mix again.

Form the dough into a log by placing it on a cling wrap sheet and rolling it to an even log shape.

Refrigerate for an hour until firm and slice into even sized cookies.

Bake at 180º for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden on the sides.

Enjoy.

Skinny energy bars (vegan)


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One could, if one wanted, call them superfood mega nutritious healthy chocolate energy bars but that would be too long a name for something so decidedly elegant and petite and so, skinny bars it is and these are skinny in both appearance and spirit and all too easy to eat not just as a nutritious dessert, but also as a post-workout snack or during that time of the day when you feel hungry or depressed.

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I might have mistakenly erased the photograph of ingredients assemblage which is why we begin with the recipe. Starting with a clean bowl and a spatula.

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in with coconut oil, always a good start.

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followed with an all natural sweetener in the form of mushed up, pitted dates

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mix them well to form a somewhat wet base for the rest of the ingredients

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rolled oats that I pulsed a couple times to somewhat break them

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followed by rice flour and cinnamon and vanilla extract

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give it all a mix to incorporate the wet ingredients well into the dry.

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and finally the dried fruits, nuts and seeds. Here I have some raisins, goji berries, chia seeds, chopped almonds as well as some black and white sesame seeds.

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Give all the ingredients a thorough mixture to slick them somewhat with the oil and dates mixture

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and prepare a baking tin by lining it with baking paper to prevent the oatmeal bars from sticking to the tray.

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Scrape the contents into the tray and flatten the top, making sure it’s even on all sides before baking it at 180ºC for 35-40 minutes.

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It will come out bronzed at the top and I realized the raisins had swollen a bit and protruded out. This is, at this stage, a tin full of delicious granola and to make them into skinny bars you have to let it cool completely.

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The final stage involves a bit of pouring and sprinkling and here I have some melted chocolate and a couple tablespoons of slivered pistachios. You can melt some vegan chocolate for this purpose but I have here some homemade chocolate, the recipe for which I’m still perfecting and perhaps I will upload it soon but for now some melted chocolate (any you prefer) would work.

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Sprinkle over the nuts while the chocolate is still liquid and keep it to set in the fridge for a couple hours or until you’re ready to unmould and slice after it’s set.

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The surface takes over a rather matt look accentuated with the vibrant greens of the slivered pistachio’s and tastes even better.

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Find a sharp knife and get carving. The size of the pieces you cut is entirely up to you. They can be shards, chunks, blocks, slivers or you can just chew on this entire thing whole.

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Just look at this glorious cross section. There’s a bit of everything.

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and another cross-section, if you’re into cross-sections. I mean, of course, you could make thicker chunkier bars by spreading it into a smaller baking tin but they’d still be skinny bars.

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Ingredients

Rolled oats: 250g

Rice flour: 80g

Coconut oil: 50mls

mashed dates: 170g  (Alternatively use maple syrup or any other syrup)

Nuts +seeds: 80g (I used almonds, chia, black and white sesame seeds)

dried berries and raisins: 60g (I used raisins and goji berries)

Cinnamon: 1 tsp

vanilla extracts: 1 tsp

melted Vegan chocolate: 150g

Slivered Pistachios: 2 tbsps


Recipe instructions

Pulse the oats in a food processor to break them as an optional step.

In a clean bowl mix together the dates and coconut oil until well combined. Tip in the oats, rice flour, cinnamon and vanilla extract and mix. Add the nuts, seeds, berries and raisins and mix until well combined.

Spread in a baking tin lined with baking sheet and flatten the surface evening out the layer and bake at 180ºC for 35-50 minutes or until the top is browned.

Let it cool completely before glazing with melted chocolate and sprinkling over slivered pistachio’s.

Refrigerate to set and cut into large pieces or smaller chunks.

Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for best results. These keep for a couple weeks if well stored, though they are much too easily eaten before the weekend is over.

NOTE: use date/ maple/rice syrup or coconut sugar instead of mashed dates if you prefer and any other dried fruits, nuts and seeds of your choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cardamom coffee cake


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It’s been sometime since I posted a cake recipe on this blog and what better to break the monotony than a coffee cake. The thing about coffee cakes is that apart from pairing ‘oh so beautifully’ with a strong cup of caffeine they are scrumptious just on their own for moments when you want to eat something sweet but not overwhelmingly so.

Cardamom is such a rich exotic spice with an almost romantic ring to it with curious undertones of mystery and an enticing allure of the East so rare in cakes and with a crispy crumb on top this cake is two layers of delicious, resonating with cardamom in each bite, hefty with flavours and yet symbiotically submitting when paired with a cup of coffee or even tea, because cardamom does go well with tea.

 

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these ingredients might seem like a lot but that’s only because there are two parts to this cake. A crispy nutty crumb and a base cake.

 

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first with the crumb topping. Into a bowl add flour (please excuse the lighting)

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walnuts

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brown sugar

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cardamom

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and mix with a fork until ingredients are equally dispersed.

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finally add room temperature butter to form the crumbs

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mix thoroughly

 

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until nice fat crumbs or rather buttery nutty lumps are formed. Set aside.

 

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for the dry ingredients in a separate bowl mix sugar, flour

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baking powder, baking soda

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and cardamom

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mix well and keep aside

 

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Now we get mixing to wet ingredients and also learn how exactly galaxies came to be formed. In a clean bowl add coconut oil

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vanilla extract and coffee

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milk and eggs

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check out your handywork at creating the universe

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now for some orange liquor

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and a quick whisk to disperse everything

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into a murky reality

 

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now it’s just a question of adding the wet to the dry, much like life.

 

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and stirring it all together to form a lovely terracotta mixture of cardamom flavoured dreams.

 

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pour into a well greased baking tin

 

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top with buttery crumbs

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take a moment to gaze at the beauty that is this cardamom crumb cake before plunging it into the depths of a furnace that is your oven to bake at 200º for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean

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after 45 minutes this is what you’ll be rewarded with.  beautifully bronzed looking slab of spiced haven.

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let it rest for at least ten minutes before taking it out of the tin. It’ll be a moist flavourful cake with a rather delicious, even crispy topping. It’s the crumb topping that offsets flavours of this cake, giving it texture that comes in with a surprising cardamom punch.

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serve warm with a strong cup of love.



Ingredients 

For the crumb topping:

Flour: 60g (1/2cup)

Walnuts: 60g (1/3cup)

Butter: 80g  (1/3cup)

Brown sugar: 80g (1/3cup)

Cardamom: 3/4 tsp

Note: I used regular cardamom pods and crushed the seeds to make a rough powdered texture

For the cake:

Flour: 150g (2cups)

Sugar: 145g (3/4cup)

Baking soda: 1/2 tsp

Baking powder: 1 heaped tsp

Eggs: 2

Cardamom: 1 tsp

Vanilla extract: 1tsp

Coconut oil: 120mls (1/2cup)

Coffee: 60mls (double shot)

Milk: 65mls (1/3cup)

Orange liqueur (optional): 30 mls (single shot)


Recipe instructions:

making crumbs: mix together walnuts, flour, brown sugar and cardamom. Add the butter and using either fingers or a fork mix everything together until it forms crumbs.

making cake: Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and cardamom and keep aside.

In a separate bowl whisk together coconut oil, vanilla, eggs, coffee and orange liqueur if using and once blended well pour into the dry ingredients and mix to form batter. Pour into a greased baking dish and top with crumb toppings. Bake at 200º for 40-45 minutes until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let it rest for an additional 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Woon mamuang


DSC_0200 These symmetrically gorgeous yellow and white pieces of soft squares are the stuff of dreams most soothing and calm. As lovely and mysterious as these are to look at, they taste almost as tranquil and smooth.

‘Woon mamuang’ as these are called in Thai are really mango mousse made with agar-agar, a sort of vegan gelatine so to say, that’s made of seaweed and thus vegan, vegetarian friendly. I first had them in Thailand and couldn’t get over the almost enigmatic texture of these tender squares. They’re not too wobbly, as one would expect regular jellies made of gelatine, yet softly yielding with a fresh fruity taste that almost feels like eating mangoes in a different form. There’s a sort of gentleness to their aspect that works really well as a light dessert, for it doesn’t fill you up, not to mention that their primary ingredients or rather the only ingredients are pureed mangoes and coconut milk, both of which form a kind of ethereal bond of mellow pleasantness.

I made these for the first time and learnt after a few errors the exact workings of agar agar, and will explain them in this post so you don’t make the same mistakes.

 

DSC_0146 copythe ingredients are mangoes, sugar, lime, strawberries, coconut milk, water and agar agar.

 

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peel the mangoes

 

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and chop/cube them to be made into a puree.

 

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add in a squirt of lime juice to add just another dimension of flavours

 

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and blend to form a puree, making sure there are no lumps.

 

 

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water in a pot, don’t turn on the heat yet, because unlike gelatine agar agar will turn into something of a mess if dumped into hot water.

 

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add in agar agar and slowly start heating the water.

 

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stir water constantly or else the agar agar might settle at the bottom and clump together.

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keep stirring until agar agar is completely dissolved.

 

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once that is done, add in the sugar and let is dissolve

 

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add in mango puree

 

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and whisk until it’s mixed well and there are no lumps

 

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there are various ways to go about making woon mamuang. You can either make individual pieces in moulds or one big piece in a tray. I went with the latter option.

 

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Now the the thing with agar agar is that it begins to set soon after it starts cooling down and can set at room temperature as well, so we have to be a bit quick about things, but don’t get yourself in a frenzy as I did. Pour half the mango mixture to form the bottom layer.

 

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Add in chopped strawberries. you can even add mango cubes or coconut meat or nothing. I love the reds of strawberries with the yellows of mango.

 

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they look like rose petals.

 

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while that sets, we can get on with making the coconut milk layer. Start heating a pot of water with agar agar until it completely dissolves

 

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add sugar and coconut milk

 

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and pour the hot coconut milk mixture over the now set layer of mango layer and pop all the air bubbles or rather most of them using a toothpick.

Error: here’s the mistake I made. I checked the mango layer in corners of the pan and thought it to be set, whereas the middle part of the layer had not set at all, which is why some part of the coconut milk layer has floating strawberries on it. Therefore check that the bottom layer has almost completely set. It should be a little tacky, but shouldn’t stick to your fingers.

 

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once the coconut layer has set pour over the remaining mango mixture and let set completely and refrigerate for at least a few hours before serving.

Note: keep the remaining mango mixture warm while the coconut milk layer sets, because once it cools down it will begin to congeal.

 

DSC_0195cut into squares and serve chilled.


Ingredients

For the mango layer

Mangoes: 430g (about 2 cups)

Water: 350 mls (1.5 cups)

Sugar: 100g (1/2 cup)

Agar agar: 2tsp

Lime juice: 1tsp

Strawberries: 80g (1/2 cup)

For the coconut milk layer

Coconut milk: 200mls (1 cup)

Water: 200 mls (3/4 cup)

Sugar: 4-5 tbsp

Agar agar: 1 tsp



Recipe instructions: Puree mangoes with lime juice, chop strawberries and keep aside.

Add agar agar to a pot of cold water and gently bring up to heat, stirring constantly until agar agar dissolves. Add sugar and pureed mangoes and whisk until sugar has dissolved and no lumps remain.

Gently pour half the mixture into moulds, making sure that no air bubbles are formed. Strew in chopped strawberries and allow this layer to set, while keeping the remaining mango mixture warm.

Make the coconut milk mixture by adding agar agar to water and slowly bringing to heat, stirring constantly until agar agar is completely dissolved. Add in coconut milk and sugar and once sugar is dissolved as well, pour the coconut milk mixture very gently over the now set mango mixture. To ensure that no air bubbles are formed you can even spoon this mixture.

In case any bubbles do get formed, pop them with a toothpick.

Once the coconut milk mixture had set gently pour the remaining mango puree over it and let it set completely and refrigerate before serving.


Few things to remember:  Do not let agar agar settle at the bottom of the pan while dissolving in water. Keep stirring constantly.

Check if the layers have set by gently tapping the middle area, it should be tacky to the touch but shouldn’t stick.

Do not let remainder mixture to cool down because it begins to set. Keep over low heat in case the temperatures are cool.


 

 

 

 

Hot chocolate mix


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When this world feels like a rotting dump of methane filled sewage, there are few comforts you turn to. A loving voice, a soothing touch, a reassuring moan.. and all these things are impossibly hard to come by; why else would this world have turned into a venomous pit of hate infected flies?  You need something restorative, with the potential to remedy some aches and provide warm succour.

You need a cup of hot chocolate and not just any ol’ hot chocolate but a homemade version. One that’s a pre mix, which needs nothing save pouring in hot water or milk if you think you need it. But it’s a mix, which means there’s milk present already, so really just hot water is all you need.

There’s a sort of whimsical poetry, like a fluttering tune about ‘hot chocolate’. The fact that it’s chocolate in pourable form that can be drunk warm. Wisps of chocolatey fog hitting your face and thick sweetness with all the richness of terra cotta cocoa pouring into your system provides instant calmness and an upbeat feeling of general wellness.

 

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Unlike store brought hot chocolate mixes that are doused to the teeth with chemicals that you couldn’t pronounce, this is one is fairly docile. Just sugar, vanilla pods, milk powder, cocoa powder, corn starch and salt.

 

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Split the belly of vanilla pods to extract all the wonderful flavour of the seeds. Sometimes it’s also called vanilla caviar. hmm.

 

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add it to the sugar. Don’t throw away these emptied out vanilla pods. Stick them in a jar of sugar to make vanilla sugar. ah, the wonderful fragrance.

also- if you do not have vanilla pods or you’d rather not bother with vanilla in this recipe, simply omit this step.

 

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add in the corn starch to this mix

 

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whisk it about. Though it’s not needed because the next step will take care of the mixing.

 

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whizz it in a blender or a processor, whatever you have on hand to make this coarse sugar vanilla corn starch mixture into a powdery mix.

 

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something like this. See how it’s flecked with vanilla beans.

 

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add milk powder to the now powdered sugar+vanilla+corn starch

 

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in with the cocoa powder.

 

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and sea salt

 

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use a whisk to mix it well. Get rid of any lumps. And it’s done.

 

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there you have it. Your very own homemade hot chocolate mix. Store it in a jar and have fun with it.

 

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this is how you make it. Scoop out 3 heaped spoonfuls into a mug.

 

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add hot not boiling water.

 

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there you have it. Hot chocolate in the comforts of your own home. Made in lesser time than it would take for you to go out and have some. This mix is not only easy but so convenient. Anytime you need a fix just scoop out and pour.

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Ingredients

Sugar: 180g (2 cups)

Vanilla pods: 2

Corn starch: 30g (1/4cup)

Powdered milk: 200g (2 cups)

Cocoa powder: 70g (1 cup)

Salt: 1/2 tsp


Recipe instructions

Split the vanilla beans and scrape out their seeds and mix with sugar. add in corn starch and blend in processor or blender to make it into a fine powdered form.

Note: if you’re using fine powdered sugar then simply whisk in these ingredients until there are no lumps present.

Into the powdered sugar mixture add in milk powder, cocoa powder and salt. Whisk well and ensure there are no lumps. Once well mixed store in a jar.

To make hot chocolate scoop 3 tablespoons into 3/4 cup of hot water. Alternatively you can even using milk and also use the mix to create many shakes or desserts of choice.

 

 

 

 

Wholewheat banana bread


dsc_0810Most beguiling, calling this a bread, when in essence, it actually is a cake. I guess it’s probably called a bread because it’s baked in a loaf tin. Ah, well.. ‘a rose by any other name’ and all that jazz. So indeed, this rather bashful, withdrawn looking cake/bread is exactly that. An air of polite modesty about its person, this cake doesn’t pretend to be a showstopper, or a stunner, gracing the high tables of a luxurious dinner party.

It’s in fact a quiet, simple and courteous nibble as opposed to the rich, opulent, cloying tastes of other thickly decadent cakes. This, in effect, is the anti thesis of sinful tastes, and bears such depth of resonant flavours that one slice or even two wouldn’t suffice. A perfect accompaniment for coffee, or as breakfast. This wholewheat banana cake  makes up in flavours, what it lacks in appearances, and isn’t that all that really matters?

Flecked with nuts, tinged with spices encasing a positively astounding banana soul. This wholewheat banana bread is moist with a nuttier wholewheat taste that totally trumps ones with made with regular flour..and if that wasn’t enough, it’s healthier too.

 

dsc_0770-copyThe ingredients are simple enough. mashed bananas, brown sugar, coconut oil, soy milk, eggs, wholewheat flour, vanilla, ground spices and nuts.

 

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mix baking soda and baking powder in with wholewheat flour. (these ingredients were not pictured)

 

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In a clean mixing bowl, add in the oil and brown sugar

 

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Mix briefly and crack in the eggs, and beat again, until the eggs are evenly combined.

 

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add vanilla

 

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mashed bananas and mix

 

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once the ingredients are well combined, tip in the flour. As you can see I’ve traded my whisk for a spatula, and mix very briefly.

 

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add in the ground spices

 

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followed by nuts, and combine well, without over mixing the batter.

 

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scrape into a well greased and floured tin of choice, or loaf tin if you wish to call this a bread.

 

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and bake at 170°C for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

 

dsc_0824and Voila!!

Note:  before baking I’d tasted the batter which didn’t taste as sweet as I’d have liked, so I added in two tablespoons of honey.


INGREDIENTS

Bananas: 2 large mashed (1 cup)

Coconut oil: 80 mls (1/3cup) (feel free to use any oil of choice, or even  melted butter)

Brown sugar: 100g (1/2 cup)

Honey: 2 tablespoons

Milk: 60 mls ( use soy milk or any milk or even water)

Wholewheat flour:  160g (roughly 1.5 cup)

Eggs: 2

Chopped nuts: 80g (1/2 cup)

Vanilla extract: 2 tsp

Baking powder: 1 tsp

Baking soda: 1/2tsp

Spice mix: 

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp crushed pepper

1/4 tsp crushed cloves


RECIPE INSTRUCTIONS

Mix the baking powder and baking soda into wholewheat flour.

In a clean mixing bowl beat together coconut oil, sugar, honey and eggs until evenly combined. Add in mashed bananas, vanilla and beat well. Stir in the flour and spice mixture and nuts and fold until just mixed.

Scrape into a baking tin and bake at 170°c for 50-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let rest before unmoulding.

dsc_0818Enjoy

 

Mint & tea sorbet


DSC_0722Since the gods are being all sorts of unkind with the sun, what with the blazing rays and scorching heat, it’s only natural to pour in copious amounts of coolants into your body, without skimping on the sugar.

This is where sorbets come into existence. Like feathery ice, kissing the insides of your mouth ever so daintily, melting softly on your tongue; sending shivers of exquisite chill to your temples. The flavours are so delicate that you’re forced to down a few dozen scoopfuls, before you realize you’re a being surreptitiously iced. Lighter than air, frozen sweets, they are like the elegant cousins to boisterous ice creams and much too easy to make.

Easier still if you have an ice cream/sorbet machine/maker, because making these sans modern contraptions takes away the chill factor from the sorbets, and you’re left churning semi frozen liquid every hour of the day, and we are not here for that. NO!

It’s about making life comfortable sometimes, and summers aren’t for survival of the self righteous. Summers are to chill, and that’s exactly what this sorbet is about. Accentuated with cool vibes of mint and earthy tones of tea, this is easier than going out to buy a frozen ice treat.

 

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I didn’t lay out ingredients this time, because this is much too easy. This is the beginning of a simple syrup. Sugar + water that you bring to a boil till all sugar is dissolved.

 

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like so. It’s hot, really hot so don’t go around poking your fingers in.

 

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throw in a pinch of salt.

 

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and fistfuls of mint, and a tea bag.

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cover and let it steep for half an hour

 

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fish out the tea bag and add in some lemon juice. Let it cool completely and transfer to a fridge for a few hours or overnight. The flavours mingle and intensify in the syrup.

 

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I let mine stay in the fridge overnight and the next day the mint leaves were weepy and the liquid was a fabulous murky brown.

 

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sieve into a clean bowl

 

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bring out the heavy machinery and we are en route to making joy

 

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turn on the machine, pour in the minty tea syrup (as per your machine instructions)

 

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a few seconds in and you can see the early beginnings of snow

 

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churning into polar beginnings of your personal sorbet

 

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twelve minutes in, and the syrup was a sweet scrunched ice berg

 

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the glacial quality of this bowl was an indication enough to stop. Took about fifteen minutes.

 

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This sorbet right here, in its most sherbet form is good enough to eat, but not quite frozen to the point you could scoop.

 

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transfer to a freezer safe container for a firmer consistency and freeze for a few hours. I let mine gestate for about four hours.

 

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scoop and serve.


Ingredients

Water: 800 mls (3 cups)

Sugar: 350 g (1.1/5 cup)

Mint leaves : 1 cup

lemon juice: 90mls (5 tbsp)

1 tea bag

_________________________

Recipe

Prepare a simple syrup with water and sugar by dissolving them in a sauce pan over medium heat until sugar has dissolved into the water.

To the syrup add in mint leaves and tea bag. Cover and let steep for half an hour.

Discard the tea bag and add lemon juice into the mixture. Once its completely cooled, transfer to a fridge for a few hours or overnight.

Strain the now chilled mixture and pour into ice cream maker according to machine to instructions.

 

Transfer sorbet into a freezer safe container for firmer consistency.

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enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Butter coconut cookies


DSC_0634This artistically stacked hillock of brown jenga pieces is in fact an artistically stacked hillock of edible jenga pieces. Alright, it’s not artistically stacked, and these aren’t pieces from a game..these are cookies squares, or rectangles, for you geometrically fastidious lot. Butter coconut cookies to be more precise..the kinds that possess the power to transform your tea time into a festivity—they don’t even need tea as an excuse to be eaten. They have looks, texture and crunch; all the makings of cookie stardom, and yet they stay humble. Modestly unadorned, on your tea table, or your dining table, or your study table, where they’ll sit in quiet obeisance, patiently waiting to be chewed on..one after another.

You didn’t think you could stop after just one, did you? No! you cannot. Not only is it against cookie eating rules, but also because you sure as all hell couldn’t resist these tan little fellas, exuding coconut fragrance and tropical desires.

And would you believe it, despite their come-hither look,  they’re rather incomplex. You could tszuj up these coconutty babies in moments.

 

DSC_0565 copyThe usual suspects, only a lot lesser than usual. Butter, flour, brown sugar, desiccated coconut and coconut extract. If however you do not have coconut extract (and why should you), use vanilla extract.

 

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There’s a picture of a blender because I felt like making life difficult for me, by putting ingredients into a blender instead of creaming them the usual way. It’s more convenient to use a food processor, but I was not disappointed with the outcome of this contraption. Let me not speak in riddles any further.

 

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it puts the lotion into the basket, or cubed up cold butter along with flour into the blender, and whizz ’em mercilessly. Actually you gotta pulse it. a few second pulse a few times, and you’re there.

 

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the butter and flour will get mixed, and the flour will begin to clump.

 

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like so.. (you can also use the good old creaming method. You know, where you beat the butter and add in sugar, so on and so forth. This is just easier and less fussier and your muscles stay relaxed.

 

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add in the sugar and pulse again, a few times

 

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you will end up with the most fabulous sweet edible sand. But we’re yet to add a few more ingredients to the alchemy.

 

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so, in with the coconut

 

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a few drops of coconut extract, and a good mix.

 

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almost there, but it’s still a bit crumbly. Not quite together.

 

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nothing that a couple tablespoons of milk won’t rectify.

 

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mix it a bit together.

 

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and there you have it. Serious clumpage.

 

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using your hands, roll it into a ball.

 

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stick it in a cling film, and let sit in the fridge for 30 minutes. Makes it easier to handle.

 

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generously flour your board. The point is to not let it stick when you roll. Don’t skimp on the flour.

 

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roll the dough out. It will break on the edges but that’s not a bad thing, nor difficult to manage. Just keep putting things in place and perspective using a spatula or palette knife. and keep running it under the dough as well, to ensure that it doesn’t stick to the board.

 

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like so.

 

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once the dough is rolled out, sprinkle over some more desiccated coconut and white sugar. The top will retain the coconutty, sugary granules and look all the more alluring. It’s a vanity thing.

 

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you can cut these into any shape or form. The easiest would be into squares using your knife, just slice through the dough and form easy rustic squares..but I was itching to try out these Japanese cookie cutters that I’d recently bought in a fit of idle need, and proceeded to fall in love with them.

 

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oh so pretty did they look —their rectangular fluted edges with an air of serene uniformity.

 

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I couldn’t help but click them in different lights and angles.

 

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bake at 180°C for 18-20 minutes, for the desired crunch. Let them rest for a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring on a cooling rack

 

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they get crunchier every sitting moment.

 

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Eat as many

______________________________________

Ingredients

Flour: 200g (1, 1/4 cup)

Brown sugar: 100g (1cup)

Butter: 100g (1/2 cup)

desiccated coconut: 50 gm (1/2 cup)+ 2 tbsp (for sprinkling)

coconut/vanilla extract: 1 tsp

milk: 2 tbsp (if needed)

granulated white sugar: 2 tbsp ( for sprinkling)


Recipe:

Pulse together the butter, flour and sugar in a food processor until it starts clumping together. Transfer into a bowl and add in desiccated coconut and extract and mix. If the dough doesn’t come together, add in the milk and mix.

forem into a ball, wrap in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll into a neat square on a generously floured board. make sure the dough doesn’t stick to the board. sprinkle coconut and granulated white sugar on top and cut into squares.

bake at 180°C for 18-20 minutes in a pre heated oven and let cool on a cooling rack.

Serve with tea, or just as is.

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stack em high and apply to face.

 

 

 

Date & nut cake


DSC_0515Oh this cake. I could sing songs, write sonnets and do a bit of dance and tell you how unbelievably heavenly this cake was. Instead I’m just going to do a bit of unhinged prose and explain with all the emphasis at my disposal about the fabulousness that is this Date & nut cake.  It’s appearance as humble as it might seem is most beguiling and hides the delectable reality of this exquisite cake.

You might be tempted to write off this cake at the merest first glance as any old fruit cake, but one bite and you’d be lost. You’d be lost and in a labyrinthine maze of cake heaven realize with each chewy/crunch/crumbly/flavoursome bite that this cake is indeed one of the most tasteful, scrumptious cake ever to have floated out of your oven.

It’s the orchestra of soft sweet dates contrasting with nut crunch and underlined with a medley of sublime spice flavours that makes this cake an addictive must.

DSC_0486 copyit’s a date & nut cake, so it has dates and nuts and milk, sugar, egg, flour, butter, vanilla extract, clove powder (ground cloves), orange zest, cinnamon, baking powder, crushed pepper.

 

DSC_0487start by adding baking powder to the flour and mixing it thoroughly. Keep it aside.

 

DSC_0488As with most cake recipes this one starts with creaming the butter and sugar in a bowl. Make sure the butter is at room temperature. Mine was not 😦

 

DSC_0490beat or cream the butter, add in the sugar

 

DSC_0491add the orange zest

 

DSC_0492beat until it sort of looks like this, or you can do a better job if the butter is room temperature.

 

DSC_0493crack in an egg

 

DSC_0495splash in some vanilla

 

DSC_0496and beat again until well mixed. My batter looks a bit curdled and that’s because I didn’t use room temperature butter. It’s too cold here for anything to be room temperature..but this curdling won’t matter..and you’ll see.

 

DSC_0497add in the flour

 

DSC_0498followed by spices..cinnamon, ground cloves

 

DSC_0499crushed black pepper

 

DSC_0501mix a bit and add milk

 

DSC_0503followed by chopped dates

 

DSC_0504chopped nuts

 

DSC_0506and mix until just barely mixed. Do Not overmix the batter.

 

DSC_0508scrape batter into a baking tin of choice. I’ve lined mine with some baking paper.

 

DSC_0509smoothen the top and bake at 180°C for 55-60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out completely clean

 

DSC_0522let it cool. Slice and enjoy!

_______________________

Ingredients

Dates: 170g (1 overflowing cup)

Nuts: 130g (1 cup). I used a mix of pecans and walnuts, but you can use whatever is easily available.

Sugar: 100g (1/2 cup)

Flour: 120g (1 cup)

Butter: 100g (1/2 cup)

Milk: 50 mls (1/4cup)

Eggs: 1

Vanilla extract: 1 tsp

baking powder: 1.5 tsp

Orange zest: 1 tbsp

black pepper (crushed): 1/4 tsp

Cinnamon: 1/2 tsp

crushed cloves: 1/4 tsp

——————–

Recipe instructions: Chop the dates and soak in 1 cup of hot water to soften them and keep aside.

Add the baking powder into the flour and mix well and keep aside.

Cream the room temperature butter with the sugar and orange zest until light and fluffy. Crack in the egg, add vanilla extract and beat for another minute until well combined. Add in the flour, followed by spices. Mix roughly and add in the milk until just mixed.

Drain the dates and add into the batter, followed by nuts and do not over mix the batter.

Scrape the batter into a well greased baking tin and bake at 180°C for 55-60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out completely clean.

Let cool before slicing.

Enjoy!