Sunday, 23 August 2009

Chocolate, Nut & Honey Flapjacks

Have made these flapjacks two days running now. Yesterday, some energy bars were needed to feed the workers and today we are off on a picnic - hummm - weather looking decidedly drizzly, so might end up as a picnic in the car! Plans set in motion now, so proceed we will, rain or no rain.
  • Melted 5oz unsalted butter with 2 tbsp runny honey in a large pan.
  • To this mixed in: 8oz rolled oats, pinch of salt, 2.5oz demerara sugar, 2oz mixed chopped nuts and 50g of dark chocolate cut into chunks.
  • Spread this into a buttered 8'' by 10'' baking tin and baked for 17 mins at 180°C (gas 4).
  • Left to go cold then cut into 12 squares.
Again I used my standard flapjack recipe from Gaia's Kitchen and modified it, substituting honey for the syr
up and adding nuts and chocolate. The result was very satisfying - hence the making of a 2nd batch early this morning. Having little chunks of chocolate was a great addition and doing it this way didn't overwhelm the taste of honey. With the 2nd batch I remembered to use my signature sesame seeds sprinkled over the top.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Beetroot & Almond Chocolate Squares


I'm still harvesting plenty of beetroot so wanted to try another cake recipe using beetroot - something suitable for a picnic! This is what I came up with:
  • Melted 100g unsalted butter with 100g 85% dark chocolate and 100g muscovado sugar in a small pan.
  • Mashed 200g cooked beetroot.
  • Sifted 100g plain flour (wholemeal spelt) into a mixing bowl with a pinch of salt.
  • Mixed in 100g ground almonds.
  • Made a well in the centre and poured in chocolate mixture.
  • Mixed this together with 4 duck eggs and beetroot.
  • Spooned this into 9" square cake thingie and baked for 20 mins at 180°C (gas 4).
  • When cool cut into 16 squares.
Writing this now I rather wished I'd added some grated orange rind - not because they weren't pretty damn good anyway, but I think this would have enhanced the flavour even further - beetroot and orange are good complementary flavours. Luckily, the cakes got a general thumbs up being moist, dense, flavoursome and not too sweet.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Green & Black's Ain't What It Used To Be

Green & Black's being my favourite brand of good quality but affordable chocolate, I was devastated when it was taken over by Cadbury's. I am not a huge fan of multi-nationals.

I feared things would change as soon as Cadbury's came on the scene. I suspected they would gradually introduce cheaper ingredients into their products, more sugar and lower grade cocoa for example, hoping that people wouldn't notice! But I was also hopeful I would be proved wrong - I do love G&B almond chocolate - and perhaps they would stick to a tried and tested good quality product. Oh dear!

I don't know if they have changed the grade of cocoa or not, but I wasn't impressed with their introduction of a "creamy" milk chocolate which for ages they were flogging everywhere for £1. My guess is they thought this would appeal to the mass market. It didn't appeal to me, it tasted disgusting and overly sweet on the one occasion I tried it.

I am really enraged. It seems they are now putting milk powder into their 70% and 85% dark chocolate. These always used to be dairy free (as any quality dark chocolate worth its salt should be) and was beloved by vegans. I don't know when they first started doing this. I found out today when this was pointed out to me in our local organic shop. It had never occurred to me to check the label again - I'd done this many years ago when I first started buying it and all was fine and dandy then.

I have just done some background research and came across the following statement from G&B on the Goodness Direct blog. Apparently it's due to the fact that there may be cross contamination in the factory. Reading straight off the packet, it cleary states "contains milk ingredient". However, soya, cereal and nuts (which are also labelled as potential contaminants) are not given as listed ingredients. Seems suspicious to me. "May contain" and "contains" have quite different meanings.

So, beware all you Green & Black's chocolate lovers, your chocolate may not be what it used to be. But mostly, beware vegans and those of you with lactose intolerance - the dark chocolate you have known and loved all these years may no longer be dairy free.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Beetroot Chocolate Cake


I've been given a most fantastic present by a lovely and newly wedded friend. The fact that it was her wedding and I was given the present was a little odd, but I wasn't going to say no. A glass cake stand with dome which I have long been wanting - fantastic! Of course I had to make something right away to show it off, but what? The answer came via an e-mail from a friend wanting the recipe to a chocolate beetroot cake I'd made a couple of years ago. What a good idea. Why didn't I think of that? One of the crops we've managed to grow really well this year is beetroot with the resulting "what else can I make with beetroot?" kind of mutterings. I used the Green and Black's recipe that I used last time, but with less sugar.

This is how I did it:
  • Cooked a large beetroot, then peeled and mashed it.
  • Melted 4.5 oz butter with 100g bar 85% dark chocolate and 6oz dark brown sugar.
  • Sieved 10oz flour (5oz wholemeal spelt, 4oz gluten free flour (as had run out of white spelt) and 1oz quinoa flour)), 1 tbsp cocoa and 2 level tsp baking powder into a bowl and made a well in the centre.
  • Poured chocolate mixture into the flour and mixed in together with 3 large eggs (1 duck & 2 chicken as I'd run out of duck eggs).
  • Mixed in beetroot and spooned into a 23cm cake thingy.
  • Baked at 180°C (gas 4) for 30 mins.
  • When cooled placed on new cake stand then sifted with 1 tsp of icing sugar.
Moist with a smooth texture, it's definitely a good use for surplus beetroot. My chief taster is not at all partial to this vegetable. Luckily this cake is very chocolatey and apart from the rather deep red earthy colour, the beetroot is quite hard to detect. It got the thumbs up!

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