Monday, September 28, 2015

Apple Pie Cookies (SRC)

Apple Pie Cookies  ©

What a month it's been! We moved into our new house exactly 2 weeks ago and while we still have a few boxes around, it's feeling more and more like home. I love our new oven and induction cooktop but as we don't have an induction suitable frypan it has made cooking dinner a little challenging.

But today of course is all about the Secret Recipe Club, a dedicated band of bloggers who are assigned a blog each month to secretly peruse and cook from, with everyone posting their recipes on the same day. Today is reveal day for group D.

This month I was assigned The Spiffy Cookie by Erin. In a funny coincidence she had my blog just last month! Erin has a PhD in microbiology (just like my husband), loves the combination of peanut butter and chocolate and her favourite meal is dessert.  I know I say it every time but I was really spoilt for choice when it came to recipes.

Erin recently did a round-up of her top 10 peanut butter and chocolate recipes which included a Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cake that had me drooling over the computer!

Her Steel Cut Oatmeal with Bananas and Cobbler Topping looks like just the thing to pimp up our regular porridge and her Spiced Pear Smoothie sounds delicious. To round out breakfast how about baked eggs with a crispy hash brown crust?

We had most of a box of apples to use up though so I started searching for apple recipes and came up with some beauties like Homemade Apple Jelly, Apple Walnut Pancakes and just last week this Apple Pecan Praline Bread. One that really jumped out at me though were these Apple Pie Cookies which were just so cute! All the best bits of apple pie but in cookie form which I knew my kids would love. Genius right?!

I played around with a few ingredients to suit our dietary requirements but I think these are pretty close to the original and they were AMAZING. Apple pie is one of my favourite things but I don't tend to make it very often. These little cookies had all the same flavours and were exactly like mini apple pies. The recipe made 24 and they were gone in a day. As you can tell it was very hard to stop at just one!

Apple Pie Cookies  ©

Apple Pie Cookies
Adapted from Dorothy Kern's Dessert Mashups via The Spiffy Cookie

100 g butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup ground almonds
1 cup spelt flour
1 egg
2 tbs coconut sugar
1 ts vanilla extract

5 granny smith apples (peeled, cored and finely diced)
1/3 cup water
1 ts cinnamon
1/4 ts ground cloves
1 tbs coconut sugar
1 tbs spelt flour

In a large bowl cream together the butter and coconut sugar, then add the egg and vanilla and mix well. Fold through the flour and almond meal until incorporated into a thick dough. Spoon the mixture onto plastic wrap, wrap well and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare the apples. Peel, core and finely dice the apples. Place in a medium pan with 1/3 cup water and the spices and cook over low-medium heat until just tender. Drain and place into a heat proof bowl. Sprinkle over the coconut sugar and flour and mix well.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius / 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 2 x 12 hole mini muffin pans.

Place a tablespoon of dough into each muffin hole and press over the base and sides creating an indent for the filling. Spoon a teaspoon of apple filling into each cookie.

Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until golden brown. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out and dusting with icing sugar. Delicious warm from the oven.

Makes 24 cookies

Thanks for a great month Erin! :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

My favourite green smoothie

My favourite green smoothie ©

Wow where has the past week gone?? In a whirlwind of boxes and newspaper and mess, that's where!

We are slowly settling into our new home. It's school holidays now which is such a welcome relief. I think we were late for school nearly every day last week and I even forgot free dress day on the last day of term and had to do a quick trip home for a change of clothes for Oscar so he wasn't the only one in his class wearing his school uniform. Oops!

Most of our kitchen things are unpacked now and I'm getting back into cooking and baking but mornings are still rushed. This green smoothie has been an absolute saviour this past week when I haven't had time to sit down for breakfast. It is my all time favourite combination of flavours and is packed full of nutrients to keep you going for hours.

My kids love this one and luckily they are completely OK with green drinks. If yours aren't I do have a trick to help with that! We use glass mason jars with a handle and lid for smoothies and as our glasses are green, the kids have no idea what the drink actually looks like! They just love the taste and the creaminess and happily down the lot with no complaints.

(I will take a photo of our glasses so you can see what I'm talking about in the morning!)

If you're not sold on the whole green smoothie thing this one may change your mind. 

My Favourite Green Smoothie

1 cup rice milk
1 frozen banana, chopped into rounds
really big handful baby spinach
1 heaped teaspoon chia seeds
1 heaped teaspoon flaxseed meal
1/4 large avocado (or 1/2 a small one)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Place all ingredients into a high powered blender and blend for 1 minute (TMX 1 min / SP 9).

Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Healthy chocolate crackle slice

Healthy chocolate crackle slice ©

Snacks, snacks snacks! That's what we seem be needing a lot of lately. I guess moving really does work up an appetite!

And today is moving day! As you read this the truck will already be here loading our things and getting us ready to start our new family life in our new home.

For anyone who grew up in Australia you will be very familiar with the chocolate crackle, which featured at every birthday party and school fete as a kid.

These are a far healthier version from the Naughty Naturopath Mum who calls them anti-LCM bars. I have to admit my kids have never eaten an LCM and would have no idea what they are (yay!) so I just called it a chocolate rice bubble slice for them.

We don't usually buy rice bubbles either but half a bag came home with them from their sleepover down the coast in the holidays and frugal me didn't want to throw them, but also didn't want them to just eat it for breakfast because they would be starving again in 5 minutes.

These were SOOOO delicious. Chocolatey, caramelly, crispy and chewy and just plain good. Still a treat but one you can definitely feel good about.

Healthy Chocolate Crackle Slice or Anti-LCM Bars
From the Naughty Naturopath Mum

4 cups rice bubbles (puffed rice from the health food shop is better!)
2 cups desiccated coconut (check that it is preservative free)
1 cup rice malt syrup
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup raw cacao
pinch salt

Grease and line a slice pan with baking paper.

Place all dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix together.

In a small pan over medium heat, place the rice malt syrup and coconut oil and warm gently until it is smooth and only just starting to bubble. Pour immediately over the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.

Tip the mixture into the prepared pan and press down well, smoothing the top as you go.

Store in the fridge and slice into bars when ready to serve (you can't store this out of the fridge as the coconut oil will start to melt as it warms up).

Makes lots.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Easy Pear Tea Cake

Easy Pear Tea Cake ©

This cake has been a lifesaver recently when I've been asked to bring something to share for morning tea and have had very few ingredients to choose from. This is a really simple tea cake and while it might not be fancy it is absolutely delicious!

I have made it with pears, apples and blueberries and each one was sensational. Pears are in season right now though and their flavour really shines in this simple cake.

I'm hoping it freezes well as I will be making another one this week and freezing it to have for afternoon tea on moving day (7 days and counting - aaahhh!)

Easy Pear Tea Cake

1 1/2 cups wholemeal spelt flour
2 ts aluminium free baking powder
1/3 cup rice malt syrup
1 egg
125g unsalted butter, melted and cooled*
1 ts vanilla extract
pinch salt
400g just ripe pears, peeled cored and diced
a squeeze of lemon
1 tbs coconut sugar
1 ts cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and line the base of a 20cm (8 inch) round sping-form cake tin.

Peel, core and dice the pears and squeeze of some lemon juice, tossing to coat the pieces and prevent them from going brown.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt, then add the syrup, egg, butter and vanilla and mix to combine. It will form a dough rather than a batter. Press 3/4 of the mixture into the base of the tin and then scatter over the pears. Scatter the remaining dough over the top of the pears, like a crumble topping.

Combine the coconut sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle liberally over the top of the cake.

Bake for approx 40 minutes until it is golden brown, pulling away from the edges and a skewer comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before removing the sides of pan and sliding onto your serving plate. It is very delicate when warm but would be delicious warm for dessert with cream.

*Dairy-free version - use coconut or macadamia oil in place of the melted butter.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Fluffy Father's Day Pancakes

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads!!! I hope you are all being spoilt this morning.

My hubby missed out on breakfast in bed this morning as we have to be up early and all pitch in to be ready for swimming at 8am. BUT I did make him a yummy breakfast. Apologies for the terrible photo, it was very dark and very early!

These were some of the lightest and fluffiest pancakes I've made, which you can't always say about pancakes made without wheat flour and buttermilk (I've made some real duds over the years believe me!).  Hubby and the kids LOVED them and they were the perfect start to Father's Day.

Hope you're having a great weekend :)

Fluffy Father's Day Pancakes

2 cups wholemeal spelt flour
1 tbs aluminium free baking powder
1 tbs coconut sugar
pinch salt
2 eggs
1 ts vanilla extract
270ml can Ayam coconut milk
1/2 -2/3 cup rice milk (or any  milk you like)
maple syrup and banana to serve
coconut oil for cooking

Place a large pan over medium heat.

In a large bowl place the flour, baking powder, coconut sugar and salt and whisk together. In a jug or small bowl, mix the eggs, vanilla, coconut milk and 1/2 cup of the milk together.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until only just combined. The batter should be thick but if it is too thick and sticky add more milk, a little at a time until it is smooth and spoonable.

Drop some coconut oil into the pan and swirl to coat. Place spoonfuls of the mixture into the pan (I can fit 4 pancakes in my 10 inch pan). Cook until bubbles appear on the surface then turn and cook for another 2 minutes or so until golden brown and cooked through.

Place directly onto serving plates and top with sliced banana and a generous drizzle of maple syrup.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Spelt Chocolate Chunk Cookies ©

Well the house is officially ours!!! We picked up the keys this afternoon and the boys were thrilled with the big yellow bow tied on the front door.  So now it all begins in earnest. We have trades booked to start sanding and polishing the floors upstairs first thing in the morning as well as measuring the stairs for new carpet. So much to do and so little time! Moving day is Monday 14th so we are officially on a countdown now.

I knew this afternoon would be a whirlwind so I took the time this morning to make something easy and delicious for afternoon tea. These are easily the best cookies I've made for ages. The rice flour gives them a little shortbready crunch and the big chunks of chocolate are a great surprise. SO tasty and they were mixed, baked and ready to eat within 30 minutes.

I guarantee you'll have happy little campers if you make these for afternoon tea!!

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1 1/4 cups wholemeal spelt flour
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1/2 ts bicarb soda
1/4 ts salt
4 tbs rice malt syrup
4 tbs coconut oil, melted
1 ts vanilla extract
50g dark chocolate (Lindt 70% is good for this), roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 170 degrees celsius. Line  baking tray with baking paper and set aside.

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Roll into walnut-sized balls and place on the prepared tray.

TMX - place all ingredients except chocolate in mixing bowl and mix for 10 secs / SP 4. Add the chocolate and mix on reverse / 6 secs / SP 3.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. They will still be soft but will firm up once they cool to become crunchy around the edges and chewy in the middle, just the way I like them!

Makes approx 16.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Happy birthday to me! and a chocolate-orange celebration cake

Spelt Chocolate Orange Celebration Cake ©

Actually that should read happy birthday to us as my husband and I are lucky enough to share the same birthday! Being Sunday we had to get up early to get the kids to swimming for 8am and also do some more packing and cleaning in preparation for our move. But after lunch we got to relax a little and we had family over for birthday cake for afternoon tea and Indian takeaway for dinner (I refuse to cook dinner on my birthday!).

Now some people might think it's a bit sad having to make your own birthday cake but as a baker I really enjoy it and bonus, I know exactly what's in it and can tweak the recipe to suit our needs.

Chocolate and orange is one of my all time favourite combinations and after much (much, much) thought I decided to make a chocolate cake, sweet orange curd, orange jelly and a chocolate swiss meringue buttercream. Wow it sounds decadent when you write it out like that!

We are mostly sugar-free (fructose-free) in this house and while I wanted this cake to be special I didn't want to go overboard on the sugar. My sweeteners of choice these days are rice malt syrup (which although processed is fructose-free and a great alternative to honey and golden syrup) and coconut sugar (which does contain fructose but is unrefined). I also wanted to use spelt rather than wheat flour and no dairy other than the grassfed butter we use everyday.

I made a few small changes to the recipes I found and was really happy with the result. Everyone loved the cake and it was certainly impressively tall! It had all the flavour I was hoping for and it wasn't too sweet.

I popped the cake in the fridge for an hour or so which was a mistake as it seemed to dry the cake out a little (I know it was really moist before that as I got to eat the trimmings - cook's privilege!).  It would be much better to simply assemble the cake as close as possible to serving and leave it at room temperature until ready.

I especially loved this cake and it will become my go-to spelt chocolate cake from now on!

Spelt Chocolate Orange Celebration Layer Cake ©

Spelt Chocolate Cake
Slightly adapted from Bake with Spelt
makes 2 x 8 inch cakes

230g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups coconut sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
2 ts vanilla extract
300g white spelt flour
40g raw cacao
1 tbs aluminium free baking powder
80ml (1/3 cup) rice milk

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celsius fan-forced. Grease and line the bases of 2 x 8 inch round baking pans.

Using a stand mixer, thermomix or electric beaters, beat together the butter and coconut sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla.

Sift together the flour, cacao and baking powder then add to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk until the mixture is smooth and well combined.

Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans and bake for 25-35 minutes. The cakes will have pulled away from the sides a little, spring back in the middle and a skewer inserted into the middle will come out clean (mine took 31 minutes).

Leave in the pans to cool for 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely on a wire rack.

Sweet Orange Curd
Adapted from Tenina

200g rice malt syrup
zest of 2 oranges and 1 lemon
200g fresh orange juice
240g cold butter, cut in cubes
1 ts corn flour
4 whole eggs
2 egg yolks

Place butter into the thermomix bowl and chop 5 seconds / SP 5.

Add all remaining ingredients and cook for 10 minutes / 80 degrees / SP 5.

Cook for a further 3 minutes / 90 degrees / SP 6.

Pour into sterilised glass jars. Place in the fridge once cooled.

Fresh Orange Jelly

500ml fresh orange juice, strained to remove the pulp
1 1/2 tbs gelatin powder (I use Great Lakes)

Grease and line the base of an 8 inch round cake pan.

Place the orange juice into a small pot over low heat. Once the juice is just warm to touch, turn off the heat and sprinkle over the gelatin, whisking continuously until it is completely dissolved and there are no lumps.

Pour immediately into the prepared pan and refrigerate until needed.

Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Slightly adapted from Thermomix Recipe Community

85g egg whites, at room temperature
170g coconut sugar
pinch of salt
340g unsalted butter, very cold and cut into cubes
100g 85% dark chocolate, melted and cooled

Make sure the thermomix bowl is completely clean, dry and free of grease.

Weigh in the coconut sugar and mill for 1 minute / SP 9.

Weigh in the egg whites and salt and mix for 3 minutes / 60 degrees / SP 3.

Check that the sugar has dissolved by rubbing a small amount of the mixture between your thumb and finger. It should be completely smooth. If not, repeat for another minute or so.

Insert the butterfly and whip for 10 minutes / SP 4 until the bowl is only slightly warm and the mixture is glossy and has double in volume.

With the machine running on SP 3 for 6-8 minutes, add the butter a few pieces at a time. Once it is all incorporated, pour in the melted and cooled chocolate and whip until light and fluffy.

Use immediately or keep in the fridge until required (bring back to room temperature and re-whip with the butterfly on SP 4.

Spelt Chocolate Orange Celebration Layer Cake ©

To assemble the cake

Choose your favourite large cake plate or stand and place a small dollop of the buttercream in the middle to secure the cake.

Trim the tops from each cake if they have domed and then slice each cake evenly in half horizontally so you have 4 layers.

Place one half down on the plate and top with 1/3 of the orange curd. Spread evenly to the edges. Top with another cake half and press down lightly. Smooth over a tablespoon of curd and then carefully place on the prepared jelly. Top with another tablespoon of curd and another layer of cake. Repeat with another cake layer and 1/3 orange curd.

Top with final layer of cake.

Cover top and sides of cake with buttercream icing.

Best assembled close to serving and kept at room temperature until ready.

Serves 12 (at least)

So there you go!! A marathon recipe but none of the components are too tricky and best of all, I was able to keep it free of wheat and refined sugar!