Apple, Cranberry & Praline Cake… and Ten in 10!!

“One that would have the fruit must climb the tree.”
Thomas Fuller

Here’s a fruity filled beginning to 2010, a year that’s already beginning to look good. The year that we just wrapped up was filled with goodness too, ever so satisfying. The high points being blogging with friends, Food Blogger Connect, Twitter and macarons! Who would have dreamt that life would change monumentally with a microapplication called Twitter?? I’ve made breakfast club pals, macaron pals, laundry club pals, dragon pals and even snail pals!

Food blogging led to fabulous new friends, and some I was actually able to meet at the Food Blogger Connect! We exchanged gifts there, BIG TIME, and so came the idea of this absolutely delicious dessert! This is one from the heart, and is thus sweeter. It tasted so good!!

I used the praline from Pamela and cranberries from Jamie, both fine foodies and fab friends from France. As a matter of coincidence, I had apples on hand and was browsing one of my favourite French food blogs, Bea‘s La Tartine Gourmand. I just had to make this comforting cake. Bea’s blog is heart warming, just like I love it … full of connections, memories, family, food and gorgeous pictures. If you need a dose of inspiration, do head straight here! Vive la France!!

Twittering with food bloggers offered things to make life even better this year. I am delighted to have joined up for a wonderful challenge Ten in 10: ten Weeks to Healthy in 2010, the brainchild of a wonderful blogger Lori @ Recipe Girl. What is this all about?

It’s about wanting to feel healthy. Everyone has a different vision of what being healthy means. Some want to lose weight, some feel that they’re already at a comfortable weight but they would like to make a commitment to exercise, some would like to eat healthier, etc. Everyone will have their own individual goals for this healthy challenge.
Read about it here, and you can join in too.

I have penned down a few goals that I hope to work towards…(easier than putting down New Year resolutions LOL!)

  • Eat healthy
  • Increase vegetables in meals
  • Decrease non-vegetarian options on the table to 2 days a week
  • Make more stuff at home vs store bought to decrease preservatives, & my carbon footprint
  • Stick to local & seasonal food
  • Use more fruit in the daily diet especially for the kids
  • Focus on fruit and natural sugars in dessert

I have learnt to look at food in new ways. Fruit have become a HUGE part of my baking life, and I aim to include vegetable in the roll call too. I am waiting for a recipe of brownies with sweet potato that my sister has promised to mail me. Broccoli has been won, and I have my sights set on cauliflower. I can say from recent experience, persistence pays with kids; I can see them battling their veggies less now!

I will attempt to explore and achieve my healthy goals over the next 10 weeks, and will hopefully carry them through the rest of the year too.

Apple,Cranberry and Praline Cake
Adapted minimally from this recipe from La Tartine Gourmand

Ingredients:
3 large apples
2 oz dried cranberries (soaked in hot water for 20 min)
3 eggs
7 Tbsp butter, melted (1/2 cup)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt (or 1/2 tsp fleur de sel)
75gm plain flour
1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp vanilla sugar (or light brown sugar)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup nut praline (optional)

Method:
Sift the flours with the baking powder and keep on the side.
Soak the cranberries in hot water for 20 min, then drain.
In the meantime, peel your apples, remove the core and slice them thinly.
Preheat your oven at 180C.
Break the eggs in a large bowl and beat them with the sugar and salt, until light.
Add the melted butter and the rest of dry ingredients. Mix well but not for too long, until everything is incorporated.
Add the apple slices and half the nut praline.
Butter a round 9.5″ mold and pour in the apple batter.
Top evenly with the cranberries and nut praline.
Cook in the oven for 30 to 35 min. Remove and let cool for a few min before unmolding on a large plate. Eat it lukewarm, it is even better.

♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥
A little news that I just got that I am excited to share. I am one of the 50 bloggers & chefs whose recipes have been included in the free STRAWBERRY mobile app for iPhone and iPod touch.

FREE IPHONE STRAWBERRY RECIPE APP LAUNCHES
“STRAWBERRIES” iPhone App to View and Share 50 Strawberry Recipes
from Top Food Bloggers and Chefs
Watsonville, CA (January 13, 2009) – The California Strawberry Commission today announced the availability of the free “STRAWBERRIES” mobile app for iPhone and iPod Touch users featuring more than 50 mouth-watering strawberry recipes from some of the most popular food bloggers and chefs from around the web. Individually selected for that “wow” factor, these recipes will inspire families, foodies, cooks, the health conscious and strawberry lovers everywhere to get even more creative with strawberries.
iPhone and iPod touch users can now access different strawberry recipes complete with vivid food photography and step-by-step directions to create that special dish for those around you. The free app neatly categorizes recipes under Snacks & Appetizers, Breakfast, Cocktails, Main Courses, Salads and Sweets. Recipes range from traditional favorites, such as shortcakes and pies to more exotic dishes like strawberry dumplings, salsa and ceviche.
Individual recipes can be shared with friends, family and online networks by simply posting the recipe to Facebook or Twitter with the click of a button. Recipes can also be emailed to anyone for viewing or printing.
Availability
The Strawberries app for the iPhone and iPod touch is available immediately as a free download at the Apple iTunes Store. Click here to download: http://bit.ly/8LANJo

Don’t miss a post

MARCHing on to SUGAR HIGH FRIDAYS…SWEET GIFT BROWNIES!

“A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer.”
Seneca
A gift of love…Brownies in a box!

This is a box of brownies that I baked for a dear old lady who lives nearby. She is about 78 years old & makes sure she stops by to say ‘Good Morning’ to me at the childrens‘ bus stop every single morning! Two days without a meeting, & she comes by our place to catch up with me! She is a warm, wonderful person, so positive & so full of life, that one wonders why we crib about silly little things! Always helpful, always forthcoming & forever smiling! A very large-hearted lady indeed. Her husband was in the Indian Army & passed away several years ago; she now lives with her daughter, & can teach many of us how to live life fully!! I baked these for her birthday a while ago…coz she said she used to make brownies when she was young & loved them. She loved these so much…that she actually set out to bake them a couple of weeks later!!

She loves good food & good company…this post is a tribute to her! Hat’s off to her for living life king size!!
Sugar High Fridays #41…Sweet Gifts!
I’m posting this for Danielle @ Habeas Brulee who is thrilled to be hosting this month’s Sugar High Friday. She says “Sugar High Friday is a travelling event that was originally created by Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess. The theme for March is: Sugar High Friday #41: Sweet Gifts. Post the recipe for a dessert you made (or want to make) for someone else. Any sweet will do, as long as you also share the story of why you made (or want to make) that particular dessert for that particular person! ” I guess this fits the bill Danielle! BTW, the name Habeas Brulee reminds me of creme bruleeMmmmmmmmmmm!
Brownie heaven!
This recipe is one I got from a friend of my mothers’ ages ago, & have tweaked it a bit here & there. Always gives me perfect, no fuss brownies. Great for dessert…warmed & served with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, or just for the kiddies school snack box too. It’s a versatile recipe; I’ve made mocha brownies, cinnamon ones, walnut & chocolate-chip, walnut & raisin…works fine everytime! BIG HIT as a dessert & something than can be made in advance…what can be better!! You can even serve strawberries & cream with them.
Ingredients:
Butter – 1/2 cup
Sugar – 2/3 cup
Eggs – 2 large

Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
Cocoa – 1/2 cup
Flour – 2/3 cup
Baking powder – 1 tsp
Salt – 1 pinch
Walnuts – 1 cup /chopped

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line a 10.5″ X 6.5″ or 8″ X 8″ pan with a 2″ depth.
  • Sift the flour + cocoa + baking powder + salt. Set aside.
  • Beat the butter & sugar till light & fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs + vanilla extract.
  • Fold in the flour mix + walnuts till just incorporated. Don’t overmix. The batter will be thickish.
  • Turn batter into tin & level out evenly with a spatula/butter knife.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes. Test with a wooden pick.
  • Leave to cool in tin on rack, & then chill, covered, for at least 2-3 hours or overnight before cutting.
  • Once cut, drizzle with melted dark chocolate, or sift icing sugar over them. Refrigerate.
  • Note: Warm in the microwave for 15 seconds & indulge further with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream!

Sweet gifts are made of these…

& these home made chocolates too…
that my friend’s Mom made specially for us when they came over for dinner a few days ago. The longer ones wrapped in red are orange flavoured, & the ones in green are walnuts encased in chocolate. Absolutely delicious & almost gone…the picture’s all that’s left.
Thank you for choosing ‘Sweet Gifts’ for SHF Danielle.
I think it’s the best gift, home-made & something money can’t buy!!

HEARTY ALMOND SHORTBREAD…How deep is your love?

“I am still convinced that a good, simple, homemade cookie is preferable to all the store-bought cookies one can find.”
James Beard
Almond Shortbread Hearts…delicious to the last crumb!

These are one of those cookies that disappear before you can say Jack Robinson! Very easy to make, non-demanding or challenging, & above all, full of taste! Great cut-out cookies! Perfect hearts for Valentines!

Nutty, Buttery & Crisp…goodness in every bite!

I made hearts & flowers since I love the flowers too, but you can make an assortment of graduated hears if you like…or heart cut-outs in larger cookies! These are cookies I make just at the whim of it. Not involved or bothersome, these are nutty ‘n’ buttery … a treat to have. I practically took under an hour to make these; some for a friend, & between the DH, the kids & their friends, the rest vanished! Boxed some for a friend with a quick card on top…

Ingredients:
Butter – 100gms
Castor Sugar – 5 tbsps / ground in coffee grinder
Flour – 1 1/2 cups
Almonds – 1/2 cup / ground in coffeee grinder with skins on
Almond Essence – 1 tsp
Extra castor sugar for sprinkling on top

Simple indulgence…

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets.
  • Beat the butter & almond essence with 5 tbsps of castor sugar. ( I do it by hand).
  • Mix in the flour & ground almonds together to make a firm dough.
  • Chill for 30 minutes if the dough is soft.
  • Roll out to 1/8″ thickness & cut out desired shapes. Sift castor sugar lightly on top.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes till golden brown.
  • Leave on cookie sheets for a minute & then cool on racks.
  • Drizzle with melted dark chocolate.
  • Store in an airtight container. These keep for upto 2 weeks.
  • Note: Makes about 2- 21/2 dozen cookies.

How deep is your love?

Pooja read this somewhere…” Spend your life such a way , so that when you get old you will have nice memories to cherish about “ & says, “Let us try to add one more such memorable day to our life and share here with others”. Onto building memories, this one is off to Pooja’s at ‘My Creative Ideas’ for her Valentine’s event.

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