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: Rhubarb Coconut Fool

They say there’s no fool like an old fool – but in this case, they’re wrong. Because this new too cool for school fool is something else. I’d planned to make a classic rhubarb fool with the first stalks I’d harvested from my garden, but didn’t feel like ordinary cream and Greek yoghurt seemed too tart. Then I remembered this coconut cream ice cream and a new plan was born…

Rhubarb Coconut Fool

Rhubarb Coconut Fool
The hype over coconut water and coconut oil drives me to distraction, but I am a bit of a sucker for coconut cream. Here it’s chilled and whipped into fluffy clouds before being folded though honey-sweetened rhubarb for a new take on the classic fool. If you’ve got a dairy-free diner coming for dinner, this is what you should make them for pudding. It’s also a sumptuous breakfast, whether you’re dairy-free or not. The rhubarb can be made well in advance and kept, covered, in the fridge
One tip: Make sure you buy coconut cream rather than coconut milk (in New Zealand, the Samoan brand Fia Fia is good) and remember to chill it thoroughly by leaving it in the fridge for at least five hours before you whip it. Longer doesn’t hurt.

400g rhubarb, washed, trimmed and cut into 2.5cm pieces
1 generous tablespoon of honey
2 tablespoons water
1 400ml can of coconut cream, well chilled
more honey, to taste
toasted nuts – hazelnuts, almonds – to sprinkle on top

Put the rhubarb, tablespoon of honey and water in a small saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft but still holds its shape. Scrape into a bowl and let cool before covering and putting in the fridge.
Open the coconut cream and scoop out the thick, almost solid material from the tin (if you’ve got good coconut cream, this will be nearly all of it). Put into a bowl, add a teaspoon or two of honey and beat until fluffy with electric beaters (or rotary beaters and a lot of muscle).
To serve, put a dollop of coconut cream and a scoop of rhubarb in each bowl. Either leave as is, in a yin and yang sort of style, or gently stir through to get a marbled effect. Some chopped, toasted nuts on the top are good for crunch. Serves four, with leftovers for breakfast.

Because the rhubarb came from my own garden – and was grown from a cutting donated from a garden three streets away – and you can’t get much more local than that, I think it’s a good fit for Shop Local – a blogging event run by the lovely Elizabeth of Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary. Even if you’re not into shopping
(or growing) local, you should check out her lovely blog header.

Have a great weekend, everyone! x

Treat me: Rum and raisin ice cream

This week, in between re-telling the story of the nativity (“but Mum, why was the baby Jesus a boy? Can he be a girl!”), I have been reading The Man Whose Mother Was A Pirate. In case you’re not familiar with this Margaret Mahy classic, it tells the story of a buttoned-down chap who is enticed away from his dull, everyday life by his sea-faring mother. It’s such a good read. Put it on your Christmas present list. I wouldn’t say the same for another book that was on high rotate here a couple of weeks ago – a flimsy yarn that saw the hapless Captain Pugwash in a standoff with a bunch of pirates over some chocolate smuggling. If your child makes a beeline for this at an op shop, point them in another direction.

Anyway, thinking about pirates and mulling over the December We Should Cocoa challenge, in which Choclette has sensibly chosen alcohol as the key ingredient, led to this ice cream. It’s not so alcohol-soaked that one scoop will send you off into paroxysms of piratical rumbustification, but I’d advise against giving it to children (even if their mothers are pirates).

Easy Rum And Raisin Ice Cream

Rum and raisin ice cream
No need for a fancy machine to make this ice cream – why, you could even make it in the galley of a galleon (as long as it had a freezer). If you’re not a fan of traditional Christmas puddings, this is a great do-ahead dessert. Freeze it in a large lined loaf tin (or even a cake tin), then serve slices with little tots of rum and chocolate sauce. If you are a fan of proper Christmas pudding – or even Christmas mince pies – then a dollop of this on top is a delectable alternative to brandy butter.

1/4 cup dark, smoky rum
1/2 cup raisins
2 egg yolks
1 egg
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup golden syrup
500ml cream
70g dark chocolate, roughly chopped into pieces no bigger than a raisin

At least two hours before you’re ready to make the ice cream (and therefore at least eight hours before you want to eat it), put the raisins and rum in a small bowl. Cover and set aside.
When you’re ready to make it, beat the egg yolks, egg and sugar until pale and thick. Use electric beaters unless you have the arms of a sailor.
Drain the rum into the egg mixture (reserving the raisins), then add the golden syrup and beat again. Pour in the cream and beat until soft peaks form. Scatter over the raisins and chocolate and fold in. Pour into a plastic container and freeze for about six hours before eating. Makes about 1.3 litres.

Have a wonderful weekend, me hearties x

Treat me: Fruity snowballs

Last weekend, seized with a sudden desire to Do Something Christmassy, I made my Christmas mincemeat. I don’t know why I’d been putting it off, because it took all of about an hour to make (including a trip to buy some suitable alcohol to put in it).

I used this recipe, but augmented it with some finely chopped granny smith apple, a good amount of chopped almonds and a few slugs of amontillado sherry. I also dug out the remains of last year’s version and added that to the mix (with a bit more sherry for good measure).

The resulting mixture, heady with fruity, nutty (and somewhat boozy smells) has sat on the kitchen bench all week while I thought about what to do next with it.

Yesterday morning, after spreading some on my toast (surprisingly good, but the toast does need to be buttered), I had an epiphany while thinking about gluten-free things I could make for a coealic friend. These fruity, nutty (and ever so slightly boozy) balls are the result.

Fruity snowballs
The consistency of these will depend on what your fruit mincemeat is like. Be prepared to adjust quantities accordingly so the initial mixture is firm enough to roll into balls, but still sticky enough to pick up the coconut coating. You could also use finely chopped nuts instead of coconut.

150g fruit mincemeat
60g ground almonds
60g dessicated coconut, plus another 50g for rolling
finely grated zest of an orange
1 tsp Cointreau or 1/2 tsp orange blossom water (optional)

Put all ingredients in a food processor and blitz until the mixture clumps. Take teaspoonfuls of the mixture and roll into balls, then roll in the extra dessicated coconut. Put in an airtight, covered container in the fridge. Makes about 15, depending on how much of the mixture you sample first.

Have a great weekend, everyone. x

Treat me: Boozy figs

If you were beamed to earth from another planet at the moment you’d think all humans did was eat, drink and be merry. While the period between mid-November and early January is fairly intense on that scale, it’s pretty much always the season of entertaining at our house. And I love it, I really do, except for perhaps that tense 15 minutes just before the entertainees arrive and I feel in a state of complete chaos.

This year, with two fairly major entertaining events scheduled chez nous in the next fortnight, I’ve decided to take control. Firstly, I’m going to delegate a lot more (sorry, invitees, I understand if you want to pull out now) and secondly, I’m going to have something up my sleeve that I prepared earlier.

These boozy figs are an excellent do-ahead option at this time of year, whether you’re holding a soiree or you’ve been invited to one by someone like me who wants you to cross town with dessert in your handbag. The recipe is of unknown provenance – it’s out of one of my mum’s notebooks – and it is very simple. I’ve a hunch it is just the thing for this month’s Tea Time Treats challenge, hosted by the ever-lovely Karen of Lavender and Lovage (with able support from Kate at What Kate Baked) – in which dried fruit is the theme.

Boozy figs
You can whip these mulled figs together in five minutes before you go to work, then when you come home they’ll be all plump and juicy. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, serve them warm over a slab of posh vanilla ice cream., if you’re in the southern, add strawberries. If you’re really, really organised, put them in a lidded jar in the fridge and they’ll be good for several weeks.

400g dried figs, cut in half (use scissors)
500ml fruity red wine
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 small orange, washed and halved
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 punnet of strawberries, washed and hulled (optional)

Put all ingredients in a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Bring to a gentle simmer and let bubble away for five minutes. Take off the heat and let cool. Then, either transfer to a bowl or jar, cover and put in the fridge. Or, if you’re planning to eat them in a few hours, add the strawberries before putting in the fridge. Serves six.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tea Time Treats