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: 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: The ultimate Afghans

Yesterday my beloved and I drove to work together. This never, ever, happens (upon reflection, it’s probably the secret to domestic bliss) and by the time we’d dropped off the Small Girl and made it into the city we had managed to disagree about just about every topic you can think of.
By the time he’d made it home that night I’d thought of the one thing we hadn’t raked over in the 20 minutes in the car – whether or not walnuts belong on Afghan biscuits. He says no, I say yes. And since I make them, I get to choose. If only all marital disagreements were as easy to solve.

Unless you grew up in New Zealand, Afghan biscuits are probably a complete anathema. They don’t sound like much – a mixture of butter, sugar, cocoa, flour and cornflakes, topped with chocolate butter icing and the contentious walnut half – but, made well, they are heavenly. Unfortunately, they’re not often made that well – they’re the sort of thing you see in low-rent bakeries or on supermarket shelves. Here, the beloved and I are in total agreement. “Those supermarket ones are horrible,” he says vehemently. “They’re all flat and soggy and the icing is disgusting.”
Good Afghans – that is to say, the ones I make – are dark, rich and completely addictive. They’re the perfect contender for this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge, which guest host Rebecca of BakeNQuilt has decided is all about cookies. Throw away your Edmonds’ Cookbook instructions and make these instead.

The ultimate Afghans
My dear friend Anna taught me how to make Afghans and once you’ve made them her way, you’ll never turn back. The first secret is to cream the butter and sugar together for ages – as if you were planning a cake – and then beat it some more. Secondly, make them big. Thirdly, use the best cocoa you can – for these ones I used half the best supermarket-sourced cocoa and half Equagold Dutch process cocoa (I’m not being paid to say that, I just really like it). This recipe makes eight large Afghans.

200g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup plain flour
2 cups cornflakes

For the icing:
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp cocoa
1 tsp golden syrup
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
8 perfect walnut halves

Heat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Cream the butter and sugar together until very soft and pale. Then beat it a bit more for good measure. Beat in the cocoa until well blended, then sift in the flour. Mix well, then stir in the cornflakes. Use your hands to ensure the mixture is well combined, but don’t crush them too much.
Divide the mixture into eight patties – mould them in the palm of your hand, as if they were burgers. Place on the prepared tray and bake for 20 minutes.
Let cool on the tray for 10 minutes, then carefully transfer to a rack to cool completely.
While you’re waiting for the biscuits to cool, make the icing. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then add the cocoa. Stir over the heat for a minute or two, then add the golden syrup. Remove from the heat and sift in the icing sugar. Beat well, adding a teaspoon or two of hot water to get it to the right consistency.
When the biscuits are cold, top with a good splodge of the icing, then squash a walnut on top. Go on, do it.

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!

Treat me: Chocolate Mousse Cake

Our fridge, not to mention our bellies, are still recovering from an epic feast we had last weekend – dinner for six adults and as many children involving a three-kilo piece of pork shoulder, sacks of Turkish buns, a crunchy slaw made from a Savoy cabbage and several fennel bulbs and a vat of homemade barbecue sauce. Amazingly there were still lots of delicious leftovers, which is why I haven’t posted any recipes this week. There was even a bit of the show-stopping pudding left over, which I hid at the back of the fridge as a cook’s perk.

I dreamed this dessert up to celebrate the third birthday of We Should Cocoa – which this month has the thrilling theme of ‘Showstopping Cakes’. This one was such a showstopper that I couldn’t waste any time photographing it, which explains the slightly odd shot below.

Chocolate Mousse Cake
Take a look at the ingredients for this showstopper and you’d be right in thinking that it’s more like a heartstopper – with nearly a litre of cream involved it’s not going to win any Heart Foundation prizes. But it serves at least eight, with a generous slice left over for the cook to hide in the fridge to eat later. There are three stages, but none of them are particularly onerous. You must, however, make the pavlova the day (or night) before you want to serve the cake and allow at least four hours’ resting time in the fridge once you have assembled it. Don’t be put off by the length of the recipe – it’s not at all tricky to do.

For the pavlova base:
2 1/2 cups (560g) caster sugar
6 egg whites
3 Tbsp cocoa

For the mousse:
200g dark chocolate (at least 60 % cocoa solids), roughly chopped
400ml cream. split into 2 x 200ml measures

For the topping:
500ml cream
50g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
50g almonds, roughly chopped (optional)

First, make the pavlova. Heat the oven to 180C and line a tray with baking paper. Put a 28cm cake tin on the baking paper and draw a circle around it – this will help be a guide for the pavlova.
Using a freestanding mixer or a very powerful electric beater, whisk the egg whites until frothy, then gradually whisk in the sugar. Beat for 15 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved. The mixture will be very thick and glossy. Sift over the cocoa and fold in, then dollop the mixture onto the prepared cake tin. Carefully put the tray into the oven, then bake at 180C for 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to 90C and leave the pavlova in the oven for 10 hours, until very dry and hard. Turn off the heat and let the pavlova cool completely in the oven.

When you are ready to start assembling the cake, get the mousse ready. To do this, heat 200ml of the cream in a medium saucepan until boiling point. Remove from heat and tip in the chocolate. Let it sit for a minute, then stir well until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Set aside to cool briefly while you whip the other 200ml of cream until it forms soft peaks. Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the cream and set aside.

Next, line the bottom and sides of the aforementioned 28cm springform cake tin with plastic wrap. Cut out a circle of the pavlova to fit into the tin. If your pavlova is very tall, slice it horizontally through the middle so you have two discs. Line the bottom of the tin with one of the discs of pavlova (or pack the bottom of the tin with the remaining pieces). Pour over the chocolate mousse, then top with the other disc or pieces of pavlova. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge.

Take a breather for a moment, then whip the 500ml cream to soft peaks. Remove the tin from the fridge and dollop the cream on top of the mousse and cream layers. Scatter with the roughly chopped chocolate and nuts. You can also crumble any remaining pavlova bits on top. Cover loosely with plastic and leave in the fridge for at least four hours to allow the mousse to set and the cream to soak into the crispy meringue.

To serve, carefully unclip the tin and peel away the plastic wrap before transferring the cake to a suitably glamorous dish. Serves 8-10.

Have a great weekend, everyone!