This recipe is deceptively simple and yet delicious (common characteristics of Vietnamese cuisine). Eat on its own with rice for makes a light Vegan meal, or as tasty vegetable dish for larger meals.
2 tsp oil (peanut is authentic)
1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
1 tsp lemongrass
1 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar (palm sugar is authentic)
2 small or 1 large aubergine cut into 1cm chunks (the thin Asian ones are authentic, so 2)
1 spring onion (chopped)
1 red chilli (cut finely, scrape off the to make the dish less hot)
Fry the garlic, add tomato and lemongrass, add 2 Tbsp water, stirring. After a couple of minutes add half fish sauce, sugar and aubergine. Add 1 cup water and rest of fish sauce and sugar, add turmeric, pepper and the stalk of the lemongrass (if you are using the real thing). Simmer for about 7 more minutes till the aubergine is cooked, garnish with chilli, spring onions and basil (or other herbs like corriander)
Phase two of my R & D efforts to produce the world’s healthiest chocolate treat saw the addition of beetroot, almond flour and licorice to reduce the sugar content. The result is not so much a muffin as a hot chocolate mousse, but so delicious it has to be bad for you, yet so healthy it’s criminal.
Hot Chocolate Mousse Recipe
Blitz in food processor:
1 large or 2 small cooked beetroot
1 large or 2 small avocado
1 cup cacao
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tsp licorice extract and 1tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour sieved together with 3 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar (you may be happy with less, or may need more – you be the judge, cookery is all about frequent tasting 😉
1 cup milk (or milk substitute) add more till a slightly runny batter is produced
By hand mix in:
1/3 cup cacao nibs
Makes enough to fill 12 large muffin cases. Cook at 170c for about half an hour (the time will vary a lot depending on the exact size of the veges etc… so again judgement is needed.
Result hard shelled soft and gooey chocolate mousses to eat with a spoon, decadent and delightful.
When you discover red in the toilet bowl, do NOT panic, you do NOT have ebola, beetroot does this if you eat enough, and you will not stop at just one or two of these treats.
If you want to make these even more decadently delicious, and can stand them being a tiny touch less outrageously healthy sprinkle with icing sugar.
For my current research project I am experimenting with substitutions with the aim of producing the healthiest chocolate treat ever.
I am using my standard chocolate muffin recipe as the starting and reference point.
My first step is was radical, I substituted avocado for the fat, milk and egg. Aiming at Vegan as well as healthy. So far results are encouraging the muffins are soft, almost creamy and chocolaty. (Just needing a little salt – hopefully not enough t be unhealthy – to counteract the vegetarian bitterness of the avocado.)
Replacing half the chocolate chips with cocoa nibs also worked well.
Now, what I need next is a sugar substitute. Would honey work do you think? And does Manuka honey retain its health benefits when heated?
These cookies pack the most intense chocolate punch. They are not for people who think that white stuff is “chocolate”, even people who believe real chocolate can advertise how much milk it contains may balk, but those who love real high cacao solid dark chocolate should love them. They don’t look like much before they are cooked and are even less appealing when baked, but the taste and texture… Try some on a chocolate-lover near you 🙂
They are soft and crumbly, but so chocolatey…
250g shortening (I used a mix of margarine and rice bran oil)
50g cacao made up to 300g with plain flour (use less cacao for a milder chocolate hit)
0.5-1tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate cut into fragments and cacao nibs (again for those who want milder could try all chocolate fragments)
Each time you add an ingredient mix. (The easiest way is straight into the food processor and zap until the last item.)
Make into balls, smaller than golf balls (unless you want giant cookies). Place on baking sheet well apart, squash with two fingers or the base of a tumbler. Cook at 180 C for 12-15mins. They will still feel soft, but will harden on cooling.
They look dreadful (that’s why there are no photos), so you may want to do what we do to make brownies look respectable drench with icing sugar… personally I leave them nude and hope that will put other people off, sadly Barbara was still happy to scoff half the last batch 🙁
PS Can anyone tell me a source of Fair Trade cacao nibs in NZ – googling suggests they are available in the USA but not here 🙁
OK, I’m sorry, this post is not about how to eat loads of fat and sugar yet not lose your youthful slenderness (or indeed any other “first-world problems”) it’s about baking with reduced oppression.
Most trade allows the rich and powerful to oppress the poor and weak. Trade ensures that the rich get richer, and (being impersonal) does not care if the poor get poorer. It is quite clear if you track almost any product grown in the Majority World that the price paid to the producer is peanuts compared to the profit paid to the sales and distribution entrepreneurs (i.e. “middle men/women”), it’s even peanuts compared to the wages paid to factory workers in richer places that convert the product into goods we buy.
FairTrade (and other schemes but they are the best known) seek to redress this balance by ensuring a decent price gets paid to producers.
Now to the “guilt free baking” part 🙂 The Big Fair Bake is a competition that is promoting Fair Trade. Here’s what to do:
If you are a baker – enter.
If you eat and enjoy other people’s baking – get them to enter.
If you have a blog, website, use Facebook, Google+ etc. – make a link so your ‘friends’ can see.
110g butter, ideally at room temperature (Vegans use margarine)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (yes, that is 1.5 tsp don’t stint the vanilla if like me you make these with nuts, of course if you use chocolate chips you could substitute almond essence)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zap in food processor till well mixed, then add:
1 cup all-purpose flour
Briefly mix (very briefly in the machine or a bit more vigorously if by hand 😉 Then mix these in by hand, or use other “extras” (choc chips, other nuts, crystalised ginger…)
1 cup wallnuts chopped
Roll into small balls and squash them on a lined baking sheet, they won’t rise or spread much in cooking. Bake at 170C for c.15 mins turning the sheet at half-time.
Be patient, though they are delicious warm and crumbly they are almost better when (nearly) cool. Since this is a quick recipe it only makes a few, to eat at one sitting. So you had better not copy me and be home alone whe you bake them, I said they were quick, easy and delicious, I did not say they were healthy 😉
Of course, though clotted cream is delicious on its own, on biscuits (especially slightly soft ginger nuts) or with just about anything sweet or semi-sweet you care to name, the absolute best way to eat it is as a Devonshire Cream Tea. No! Any Kiwis reading this who believe a Devon Cream Tea can be approximated using whipped cream, thickened cream or some other Ersatz product – forget it! It can’t for a Devonshire Cream Tea (or even its rival and near approximation a Cornish Cream Tea) you must have proper clotted cream. (Even the stuff they sell in tins and jars that comes from factories is a mere approximation to the real thing.
Here’s how you make a quick modern version. (The real thing is made in big enamel basins over a water bath, using fresh raw cream.)
Making clotted cream
Take a bottle of “Fresh Cream” from the supermarket.
Pour it into an oven proof bowl or casserole that will allow the quantity you have to fill it 3-6cms deep
Put it in the oven at 80C (or if you are not sure of your thermostat maybe 70C for longer)
…be very patient
Gradually the delicious “clots” will form as a skin on the cream
When you can be patient no longer (or after 8 hours or so) scoop off the clotted cream into a serving bowl
Nb. don’t worry if some ordinary cream is mixed with the clots the variability of texture and taste is part of the joy (part that mass-produced cream, in these days of standardised homogenised industrial dairying, cannot really deliver).
Once it’s cool (be patient again!) eat with jam (traditionally strawberry, but your favorite is probably OK) on scones.
[PS the comment below asking about clotted cream icecreams prompts me to add this note: If you are careful in scooping off only the skin you will end up with a very hard homogeneous product like commercial clotted cream. The ideal is to scoop up some of the runny cream as well each time, giving a good approximation of the texture of real farmhouse cream 🙂 and the extra benefit of both greater spreadability and a slightly more economical product!]
There is considerable debate between those who put the jam on top of the cream as decoration, and those (perhaps because they value lower calories over taste, heretics!) who use the cream as decoration – provided there are approximately equal loads of cream and jam (in this ecumenical and tolerant age) either can be permitted 😉
If you don’t have a good recipe for scones, and I had no need of one before I discovered the secret of making clotted cream 🙂 here’s one adapted from Allyson Gofton.
2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
50 grams butter (or if you must margarine)
¾-1 cup goats whey or milk (ideally slightly soured – I remember my granny saving “off” milk for making her famous scones)
Heat the oven to 230C
Put the flour, baking powder and salt into the food processor, zap briefly to mix and airate.
Add the butter and zap till it becomes crumbs.
Make a well in the centre, pour in the whey or milk (start with 2/4 cup
Mix quickly with spatula to make a soft dough.If you need to add a little more liquid.
On a floured surface roll to 2-4cms thick (depending how big you like your scones). Do not flatten be gentle!
Cut into 5cm rounds (or squares) and put on a greased baking tray. Left over whey or Brush with milk to glaze.
Bake at 230ºC for 10-15 minutes until cooked, turning the tray round at half-time.
Cool on a rack till you can comfortably eat them. They can be crisped and warmed if you make them ahead of time.
This recipe is as quick and easy as it gets. Just turn the oven to 170C, get a muffin tin (I love the bendy silicone ones, so easy to get the muffins out 🙂 and/or some paper muffin cups. Sieve the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl:
2.5 cups flour
5 rounded tsp baking powder
1/2-1 cup cacao (depending on how chocolatey you like them)
1 cup sugar (I use dark brown for a lovely warm sweetness)
1/2-1 cup chocolate chips or cut up chocolate bar
Then mix lightly and make a “well”. Pour in:
1 cup milk
2/3 cup oil
Stir, as gently as possible, till mixed. Spoon into the baking tin/cups. Makes 12 middling size muffins. Sprinkle with sugar or almond slivers. Bake about 15-20 mins till dry but still soft (not moist and squishy). If this batch are dry try again cooking less, till perfect or till you need a break from chocolate 😉
Do use FairTrade cacao and chocolate, so they don’t depend on slave (or near-slave) child labour. And try to keep some for tomorrow (for the sake of your own weight)!
This moist chocolate cake with a twist of chilli is delicious and economical. 1 Though see below, there are mixed opinions in our house on how to treat the beet 🙂 The chilli adds a touch of interest, the beet adds colour, texture 2 Too much according to one critic 😉 and moistens the cake. The recipe is adapted (to make it more economical and lower fat (so I can excuse eating it with cream) from one in Lifestyle Blockmagazine from last year..
200ml cooking oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
2-3 tsp Vanilla
Zapped together in the food processor, or by hand.
1 cup flour
1 cup cocoa
1 Tbsp (yes really!) Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Chilli powder
Sifted and mixed.
1 big cooked beetroot
Either: Tim’s preferred version, grate the beet and add to the wet mix. Or: Barbara’s preference, zap the beet while you are zapping the rest of the ‘wet” mix. 3 The difference is the presence or absence of distinct soft red bits of beet in the final cake. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Pour into an oiled floured cake tin. 4 I use one with a removable bottom to make getting at the cake quicker once it is baked 😉 Bake at 180C for about 30 mins (or maybe 35 in a non fan oven. I think it is best to remove it while the insides are still a little gooey, because that’s how I like to eat it, with cream 🙂 5 But then I’m not Vegan, Vegans should top with frosting to make up for the lack of cream 😉