Treat me: Fairtrade choc banana cake

This week two extremely important women in the world of food visited Wellington. One attracted loads of attention while she filmed an advertisement for Whittakers chocolate; the other could have walked down Lambton Quay without attracting a second glance from anyone.

I’m not saying Nigella Lawson’s Wellington sojourn didn’t deserve all the fuss, but it’s a shame that the equally gorgeous Rose Boatemaa Mensah wasn’t as feted. Rose was in town as part of Fairtrade Fortnight – as well as being a teacher she is a cocoa farmer in Ghana. Some of the beans grown by Rose and her family end up at Whittakers, where they are turned into my favourite chocolate (and the husks even end up on our garden).

I didn’t get to catch up with Rose (or Nigella) this week, but to celebrate all things Fairtrade I’ve whipped up this utterly lovely cake. It combines the two Fairtrade things we eat most in this house – chocolate and All Good Bananas. It’s even inspired by a Nigella recipe – how circular is that?

Fairtrade Chocolate Banana Cake
If you can manage not to gobble this the minute it comes out of the oven, glistening with nuggets of melting chocolate, then it keeps really well. And I’m sure your mum would love it for Mother’s Day (that’s this Sunday, in case you’d forgotten).

400g ripe bananas (peeled weight) – about 3 large ones
250g ground almonds
250g caster sugar
6 eggs
grated zest of two lemons
1 tsp baking powder
100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Heat the oven to 180C and grease and line a 23cm springform cake tin.
Put the bananas in a food processor and whiz until pureed. Add all the other ingredients, except the chocolate and whiz again until well mixed. Pour into the prepared tin and scatter the chocolate on top.
Bake for 35-45 minutes – it will be damp and sticky but a toothpick plunged in should come out cleanly. Let cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then turn out to cool on a rack.

Have a great weekend, everyone x

Treat me: Chocolate potato cake

I’ve never understood the fuss about St Patrick’s Day. I’m all for a knees-up, but Guinness-supping and River-dancing leaves me cold (especially when it’s done by people who are about as Irish as I am). However, I’ll take any excuse to make a cake and this one – which contains potato and a good slug of Irish cream liqueur – fits the bill nicely.

St Patrick's Day Chocolate Potato Cake With Irish Cream Frosting - Gluten-Free Photo And Recipe Credit: Lucy Corry/The Kitchenmaid

Chocolate Potato Cake With Irish Cream Icing
This is the sort of cake that Mrs Doyle would go into rhapsodies about. It’s light, luscious and gluten-free – and no one will believe you when you tell them it’s got potato in it. Give it a light dusting of icing sugar before serving or you can really push the boat out and smother it in Irish liqueur-laced cream cheese icing. If time is short, just make yourself a bowl of the icing and lie on the sofa, channelling Father Jack.

200g unsalted butter, softened
200g caster sugar
1 tsp whiskey (or vanilla extract)
4 eggs, at room temperature
120g ground almonds
30g cocoa, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
200g mashed potato (1 large potato, approximately)

Irish Cream Icing
150g cream cheese, at room temperature
50g butter, at room temperature
60ml Bailey’s Irish Cream
4 Tbsp icing sugar

Heat the oven to 175C and grease and line a 23cm ring tin.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, while continuing to beat. Add a spoonful of the ground almonds along with each egg – this will help prevent curdling. When all the eggs have been added, fold through the remaining ground almonds, cocoa, baking powder and mashed potato until combined.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a skewer comes out cleanly. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out to a rack to cool.

To make the Irish Cream icing, put the cream cheese, butter, Irish cream and icing sugar in a small bowl (or in the mini bowl of a food processor) and beat or whizz until smooth. Dollop generously on the cold cake.

Have a great weekend, everyone. I’ll leave you with this classic taste of Father Ted…

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Treat me: Raw raspberry lamingtons

You might think I married my husband for his wit, good looks and charm, but there’s more to it than that. What sealed the deal is was that his mother makes the best lamingtons in the world. Once I realised he was the heir to a freezer full of chocolate-dipped, cream-filled spongy delights, there was no turning back. 

Raw Raspberry Lamingtons

More than a decade down the track though, I’ve come to realise that there are other lamington-makers out there. In fact, there are hordes of them, all of them making exotic lamingtons like there’s no tomorrow. They’ve been whipped into a coconut-dusted frenzy by an adorable English flight attendant by the name of Peter, who is no slouch himself in the lamington department.

Peter is such a champion of lamingtons that for the last four years he has devoted himself to reinventing them every February. Don’t tell my MIL, but I think he could give her a good run for her money. In the meantime, he’s thrown down the gauntlet to the rest of us. And so without any further ado, I bring you my raw raspberry lamingtons…

Raw Chocolate Gluten Free Lamingtons

Raw raspberry lamingtons

These are not your ordinary lamingtons – there’s no sponge, no eggs, no sugar and – gasp – no cream. These are lamingtons, 2014 style. They’re raw, gluten and dairy-free, and contain no refined sugar. But there’s plenty of coconut, chocolate AND raspberries – for those of you who can’t decide whether a lamington should be brown or pink. I was inspired by this recipe, but took it in a completely different direction. The ultimate test was when I asked my brother-in-law to try one. “These,” he said, “are dangerous. Is the recipe going on your blog?”

100g ground almonds

120g dessicated coconut

4 Tbsp coconut oil

3 Tbsp real maple syrup or honey

60g (about half a cup) frozen raspberries

Line a small plastic container (like a takeaway container) with plastic wrap and set aside.

Put all ingredients in a food processor and whiz until it clumps. Press this mixture into the prepared container and leave in the fridge for at least an hour, until firm. You can leave it for a day or so if you like, it won’t come to any harm, though you may accidentally eat some of it.

When you are ready for stage two, remove the coconut mixture from the fridge and cut into small bars. Gently melt 120g dark chocolate with 1 tsp of coconut oil (I do this in a heatproof bowl in a warming oven, but you can use a microwave on low or a double boiler) and set aside to cool slightly.

Put the coconut in a small bowl and line a tray with baking paper.

Dip the bars into the chocolate, then roll them carefully in the coconut. When you have finished, put them in a lined, lidded container and put them in the fridge before someone comes by and gobbles the lot. Makes about 12-15, depending how much gets eaten along the way.

Have a great weekend, everyone x

Treat me: Triple coconut choc cake

Here is a cake that will apparently a) boost your potassium levels, b) make you thin and beautiful and c) not get you kicked out of Crossfit classes. Want a slice?

This humble-looking creation is packed with three forms of magical coconut – coconut oil, coconut sugar and coconut flour – yet it doesn’t taste remotely coconutty (thanks to the two other ingredients, equally righteous free range eggs and FairTrade chocolate). You can’t taste the coconut but it’s what gives this cake its reputed powers.

Coconut oil is feted by many for its healing and beautifying powers (and it’s endorsed by lots of celebs, so it must be good for you, right?). Fans believe extra virgin coconut oil helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels, nurtures the thyroid gland, boosts the metabolism, fights fungal infections, bacteria and viruses – and it makes your hair shiny. Add in coconut sugar (tastes and looks a bit like brown sugar, but has loads more minerals and a lower GI rating) and coconut flour (looks like ground almonds, high in protein and fibre, gluten-free) and you have a cake that could just about save the world. Or at least one that tastes brilliant.

Triple chocolate chocolate cake

I dabbled in coconut oil last year, which I blame on editing about 20,000 stories on the pros and cons of using it. It’ll never replace butter, or even good extra virgin olive oil, in my affections, but it is easy to use and if it really is that good for you, so much the better. But I’d never tried coconut sugar or flour, so when I found them at my local organics shop, I decided to do a little experimenting in the name of this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge. Guest host Linzi of Lancashire Food has asked us to use chocolate along with a ‘new ingredient’. I’ve used coconut oil, sugar and flour in a reworking of an old recipe given to my sister by a chef friend. This version is light, not at all coconutty, and incredibly filling. You must try it.

100ml extra virgin coconut oil

100g good dark chocolate, at least 62 per cent cocoa solids, roughly chopped

3 eggs

150g coconut sugar

40g coconut flour

Grease and line an 18cm cake tin. Heat the oven to 170C.

Put the oil and chocolate in a small pot and set over low heat, stirring occasionally until melted. Set aside.

Beat the eggs and sugar together until pale (though the mixture will be a light brown, thanks to the coconut sugar) and thick.

Pour the cooled chocolate and oil into the egg mixture and stir to combine, then sift in the coconut flour. Fold together and pour into the prepared tin.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. The cake will still seem very wobbly but it will firm up as it cools. The edges should be just set when you remove it from the oven. Leave to cool in the tin, then turn out very carefully onto a plate. Dust with icing sugar (I don’t think they make a coconut version of icing sugar, yet) and serve with a good dollop of Greek yoghurt or whipped coconut cream. Or you could try this recipe for DIY coconut yoghurt, which sounds amazing.

Have a great weekend, everyone x

Treat me: Choc beet banana bread

I have a terrible confession to make. Somehow, against my better judgment, I have become completely addicted to The Block NZ. Three nights a week I find myself glued to an hour of hideous product placement and manipulated ‘drama’ as four couples ‘race’ to do up four dilapidated houses aided by teams of trusty tradies. I despise myself, but I can’t stop watching.

The other night I tried to mix watching it with making some chocolate beetroot banana bread for our neighbours after they kindly lent us their car park. It was all going well until I pulled it out of the oven and realised I’d made a brick that was better suited to hard landscaping than eating. The Block-ers might have forgotten to install their bathroom mirrors, but I’d forgotten the baking powder. And the baking soda. I have vowed never to watch The Block again. Well, at least not until next week…

Chocolate beetroot banana bread
This month the clever Ness of JibberJabberUK is guest hosting my favourite blog challenge, We Should Cocoa. Aided and abetted by challenge founder Choclette, Ness has chosen vegetables as this month’s special guest ingredient. I know beetroot is a bit of an obvious one, but it’s a good addition to this chocolatey banana loaf. As is baking powder. And soda. You have been warned!

3 ripe bananas, mashed
3 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp vanilla essence
2 Tbsp lemon juice
120g grated beetroot
2 cups white spelt flour
1/2 cup good quality cocoa
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
50g dark chocolate, smashed into little bits

Preheat the oven to 175C. Grease and line a large loaf tin.
Put the bananas, eggs, sugar, oil, milk, vanilla and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Whiz until smooth.
Add the beetroot and pulse until the mixture is uniformly pink. Sift over the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the chocolate. Pulse again until smooth.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

In other news, The Kitchenmaid has been nominated in the Best Kids Food Blog section of the 2013 Munch Food Awards. I feel a bit of a dork asking, but if you’d like to vote for me, you can do so by clicking here.

Have a great weekend everyone!