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almonds

Wholegrain Dark Chocolate Almond Biscotti“So much chocolate, so little time.”

Wholegrain Dark Chocolate Almond Biscotti … chocolate yet again because it was a hurried baking batch. Same story, different biscotti. With the better half set to travel and a last minute change in plans, I had little to almost no time to bake. I hurriedly threw these together this morning adapted from a recipe from Smitten Kitchen. One stop over at Deb’s blog, or leafing through her cookbook, leaves you inspired to hit baking mode.

Wholegrain Dark Chocolate Almond BiscottiFor me chocolate is one of the easiest and most forgiving mediums to bake with. With my hashtag #makehalfyourgrainswhole, I can blindly experiment, knowing in the end we’ll have something edible, if not delicious. Going the whole food way has been possibly one of the most satisfying journeys of my life, if not the most exciting. Makes me want to constantly experiment, try new things. That makes life a lot less mundane too. This biscotti did just that giving me room to change things around.Wholegrain Dark Chocolate Almond BiscottiHazelnuts out. Almonds in. I added butter since I often find biscotti a little ‘skinny’ or dry. Personal choice definitely but a delicious end nevertheless. I also added dark couverture chocolate just because I like cookies that have deep, chocolaty flavour. Cocoa powder often is not enough to get you the indulgent edge. Since I threw these together with limited time on hand, I cut the slices quite thick. Taking advice from Ruchira, next time I will freeze them a bit to try and get thinner biscotti. That is my dream and hopefully I get there one day. Biscotti with plain flour behaves a lot easier for thin slices, is also easier to handle. Thick chunky biscotti is a healthy trade off I guess!!

Recipe: Wholegrain Dark Chocolate Almond Biscotti your picture

Summary: Comfort cookies with deep chocolaty flavour, and toasted almonds just hitting the right notes. Wholegrain Dark Chocolate Almond Biscotti might just be the answer for comfort food; never mind what the question is!!

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Ingredients:

  • 75g almonds, toasted, roughly chopped
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp espresso powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g wholewheat flour
  • 60g all purpose flour
  • 40g almond meal
  • 30g good quality cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 200g brown sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line a heavy baking tray with parchment.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave, 1 min. Stir until smooth, then stir in espresso powder.
  3. In a large bowl stir together wholewheat flour, plain flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and chopped almonds.
  4. Place the egg and vanilla extract in bowl of stand mixer. Whisk on high speed for 15 seconds, then add melted chocolate mix and stir on low speed for 15 seconds to combine.
  5. Add the dry mix and run mixer for 20-30 seconds on slow speed to combine. Don’t over work.
  6. Turn out onto work surface and divide into 2. Form into 2 long flat logs about 8-10″ long {or as desired}
  7. Transfer to prepared baking sheet, brush gently with water, and sprinkle over with brown sugar.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until firm to touch.
  9. Remove tray from oven, allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then slice at an angle as thin as you like with a good sharp serrated knife.
  10. Reduce oven temperature to 150C. Return the sliced cookies back to the tray, cut side down {and up of course!} and bake for a further 20-25 minutes until crisp and dry.
  11. Cool completely on racks before storing.

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Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau, Big Banyan Wines“Cake is happiness! If you know the way of the cake, you know the way of happiness! If you have a cake in front of you, you should not look any further for joy!”
C. JoyBell C

Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau … because when a smooth, indulgent dessert wine arrives, you have to do something special with it. These were thoughts that ran through my head when the well packaged bottles of Bellissima and Rosa Rossa arrived from Big Banyan.With Christmas around the corner, my flavours and colours were pretty much sorted out. I knew what I wanted to bake. Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau, Big Banyan WinesIt was going to be a flourless fallen gateau, it was definitely going to have dessert wine, and the top would have strawberries. Well it all kind of fell into place. I had bought a ton of strawberries a few days ago and planned to make a preserve. Then along came dessert wine. Why not a strawberry wine jam? With winter here, spices are part and parcel of almost everything I do, so I settled for a spicy Strawberry Wine Jam. Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen GateauIt came out deliciously wicked. It’s great on toast and in lindzer cookies, fabulous to make dark chooclate truffles with, and makes for a much appreciated holiday gift as well. Strawberry jam is the easiest to make. You basically just cook it down to a nice chunky consistency, discard the whole spices, and bottle the jam. Dollop it over waffles, ice cream, onto parfaits, over breakfast oats … you will love it!

Spiced Strawberry Wine Jam Jam done. That was so easy. Strawberry Wine Jam Big Banyan WinesWhen the jar of wine jam says time for cake, it’s time to bake!! This is one of the simplest gateaus you can bake. Don’t get misled by the long list of ingredients. It comes together really fast and is a fuss free, chocolaty, fudgy gluten free cake. The ingredients should all be good quality because that’s what makes the cake special. Dessert wine and spiced strawberry wine jam added oodles of oomph to it. Subtle undertones of sweet strawberry and a hint of wine make this special. It’s called a fallen gateau because it rises quite normally while baking, then collapses most dramatically.

Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau, Big Banyan WinesI love the crater the so called collapse causes because that becomes ‘ground‘ for filling. An ugly duckling, rustic cake, moorish to boot, gets a snazzy dressing up. Christmas is here so it’s red, white and green. Chocolate pairs really beautifully with wine and fruit, so this was going to be a winning combination. The almond cream added further indulgence. Then came the ruby red, bursting with flavour, spicy strawberry wine jam topping that was literally the icing on the cake.

Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau, Big Banyan WinesDid I forget to mention the chewy meringue top studded with pistachios? Yes, you can taste that as well as you savour every rich bite of this chocolaty wine goodness. It might seem tempting to skip the step, but I urge you not to. It’s small things like this that add to the final delight. We loved every little detail of this cake so much, I am going to bake it again soon. This is my new favourite cake that was created all thanks to some fabulous wine from Big Banyan.Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen GateauI have to give the wine full marks. I’d heard the buzz about the wine here and there, and it more than lived up to my our expectations. I might not be a connoisseur, but yes, can tell a good wine. The dessert wine glowed a beautiful gold, while the Rosé  blushed a beautiful cherry pink. I am quite partial to sweet dessert wines. The Bellissima was my first love with sensual smooth hints of apricot, pears, walnuts and raisins; so exotic in my opinion. Like liquid gold.Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau, Big Banyan WinesThe Rosé got the better halves vote. With the acidity just right, whiffs of freshness and smooth flavour, this wine was good! I couldn’t stop clicking the wine. It added great festive cheer to my food and frame. As I have learnt, if the ingredients are good, you love the process, and then turn out amazing goodness. This is just what happened.Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau, Big Banyan Wines

Do serve some wine with the Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau. It completes the experience!

Recipe: Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau
your picture

A deeply indulgent, satisfying flourless {read glutenfree} dark chocolate cake that celebrates the best of the holiday season. Sweetened with dessert wine and strawberry wine jam, festival baking doesn’t get better than this Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau with a strawberry wine jam topping. A cake for Christmas! Serves 8-10

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes {plus cooling time}
Ingredients:

  • Strawberry Wine Jam
  • 400g strawberries, diced
  • 100ml Big Banyan Dessert Wine
  • 75-100g brown sugar
    Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4-5 cloves
  • Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau
  • 250g dark couverture chocolate
  • 100ml Dessert wine
  • 35g strawberry wine jam
  • 3egg yolks
  • 3 egg whites
  • Pinch cream of tartar
  • 175g brown sugar {100+75g divided}
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g almond meal
  • 25g pistachios, blanched, peeled
  • Strawberry Wine Jam Topping
  • 100g cream, chilled
  • 25g icing sugar
  • 3-4 drops almond extract
  • 100gm strawberries, quartered
  • 25g brown sugar
  • 2 tsp strawberry wine jam

Method:

  1. Strawberry Wine Jam
  2. Place all ingredients in a heavy bottom sauce pan, and simmer gently for about 30 minutes until the strawberries are soft and the consistency is a little thick and jam like. {It will thicken a little more as it cools}
  3. Cool, discard the whole spices and transfer to a jar.
  4. Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau
  5. Preheat oven to 180C. Line the base and sides of a tall 7″ round spring form baking tin with parchment paper.
  6. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl and microwave for 1 minute on high, until the chocolate has almost melted {else melt over a double boiler} Stir until smooth, and then stir in the dessert wine and strawberry jam.
  7. Beat egg whites with 75g brown sugar and cream of tartar to stiff peaks.
  8. Place egg yolks with remaining 100g brown sugar and vanilla extract and whisk to mix. Whisk n the melted chocolate-berry mix. Fold in the almond meal.
  9. Reserve 1/2 cup of the beaten egg whites for topping if desired.
  10. Add 2-3 tbsp of the beaten egg whites to the chocolate mixture and fold in gently. Add the remaining beaten egg whites in two lots, gently folding into the batter so that the air is not released.
  11. With an offset spatula, spread the reserved beaten egg white mixture over the top of the cake. Sprinkle over the pistachios.
  12. Bake at 180C for approximately an hour, until done. The cake will fall as it cools.
  13. Cool in tin until cooled completely, then gently peel off parchment and transfer to serving platter. {I cooled it in the fridge overnight as I find the flavours mature really well. Take out of fridge half an hour before serving}
  14. Top with whipped almond cream, and strawberry wine jam topping {Recipe follows}
  15. Almond whipped cream
  16. Whip the cream with icing sugar and almond extract until medium peaks form. Fill the fallen gateau cavity with it.
  17. Strawberry Wine Jam Topping
  18. Place quartered strawberries in a heavy bottom pan with brown sugar. Simmer for 2-3 minutes until the strawberries just begin to soften. Add the wine jam and stir well until the topping is nice and glossy, a minute. Cool and chill. {Can be made a day ahead}
  19. Note: Is a great on parfaits, ice cream, fresh waffles etc too

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Orange Almond Chocolate Gateau “You have a slice of cake and what it reminds you of is someplace that’s safe, uncomplicated, without stress.
Jeanne Ray

Orange Almond Chocolate Gateau, actually as delicious as cake can get. These are flavours that really gel well together, bring out the best in each other, and are quite easily available. Simplicity is the best and this is a fine example of just that. I don’t bake layered cakes very often now. More often than never it’s a birthday in the family that spurs me into action. This was the case here too.Orange Almond Chocolate Gateau It was my birthday a couple of weeks ago and even though I wanted to bake a coffee something {like I always do}, I was at my laziest best. As a last minute thought, I whipped together these Ginger Jaggery Wholewheat Tea Cakes and have to say that they were quite the best wholegrain cakes I have made. What made them great was the combination of flavours. They screamed comfort, the spices painting the air. Orange was a great addition there. Here as well….

Orange Almond Chocolate Gateau Oranges of all sorts are falling off carts that line the city roads, the local hybrid, keenu, one of the best. The odd cartloads filled with local farm fruit are also making an appearance . Less glossy than their city cousins, yet they are tangy and juicy. I bought some the other day, the local or ‘desi’ variety. I also had keenu in the fridge, glossy, juicy and very rind worthy! And then, last but not the least, the little kumquats. That’s a lot of citrus these days, so citrus is the cake was a given.KumquatsThe other flavours just fell into place as I normally do sponges on the go. Any flavour that comes to mind {often coffee}, or then a seasonal flavour that I can use. I was thinking cinnamon or pie spice but the cartloads of oranges changed my mind. Almond meal of course because I love the flavour so and it pairs really well with almond. And finally dark chocolate ganache for the frosting, since it’s the easiest way to go when you have no time {and are as badly organised as I am}.

Orange Almond Chocolate Gateau The only brainwave I caught was to add orange flavour to the ganache and it tied up the flavours beautifully. Talk about good luck! You could use orange zest as I did, or maybe an orange liqueur like Cointreau if so inclined. I dare say that a kumquat liqueur might work some magic in there too, truly making it a sinful dessert cake. Try it; you’ll love it!

Orange Almond Chocolate Gateau I also shot a step by step of sorts using the ASUS ZenFone2 Laser that was sent to me to review since I love food photography, and it boasts of great camera specs. Well, I put it to test while baking & assembling the Orange Almond Chocolate Gateau and was pleasantly surprised with how well it captured the process. Here’s a step-by-step {well almost}, as I threw the cake together at supersonic speed. ASUS ZenFone2Laser + cakeYou can see how well it took images in low light as I began baking the sponge quite early in the morning when winter light is very low. The entire collage was shot with the ASUS ZenFone2 Laser which houses a 13MP primary camera with auto focus {really good}, and has wide view with LED flash. The good folk also sent me a ‘Lolliflash‘ which is a handy, sweet little accessory that improves the quality of low light photos.

Recipe: Orange Almond Chocolate Gateau your picture

Summary: The Orange Almond Chocolate Gateau combines the best of flavours, each complimenting the other beautifully. The gateau is moist, bursting with fresh flavour and quite indulgent. It’s a great party cake. Serves 8-10

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Ingredients:

  • Almond Orange Sponge
  • 6 large eggs {or 7 medium}
  • 225g granulated sugar
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 115g plain flour
  • 35g almond meal {or almonds}
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 15ml clarified butter
  • 4-5 drops almond extract
  • Orange syrup
  • Juice of 2 oranges
  • 25g sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • Filling
  • 400ml cream
  • 50g sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Frosting/Ganache
  • 200ml low fat cream
  • 125g dark couverture
  • 1 tsp Cointreau or zest of 1 orange
  • Slivered almonds, orange slices for topping

Method:

  1. Almond Orange Sponge
  2. Preheat oven to 180C. Line 2 8″ loose bottom tins with parchment.
  3. Run the flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt in food processor to blend well, and loosen. Reserve.
  4. Place the clarified butter with almond extract in a heatproof bowl and heat in microwave for 30 seconds, until melted.
  5. Place the eggs and sugar in a large bowl. Beat with a hand beater for 7-9 minutes until tripled in volume and mousse like. Add the zest and vanilla extract, and beat again
  6. Fold in the plain flour mix in 4 lots, gently so that the beaten air is not released.
  7. Fold in the clarified butter blend.
  8. Divide the batter into prepared tins. Bake for approx 45 minutes until tester comes out clean, and light golden brown.
  9. Turn onto cooling racks, peel off parchment immediately  and leave to cool. Slice horizontally into 2 layers each.
  10. Orange syrup
  11. Place ingredients in heavy bottom small sauce pan. Simmer gently until sugar melts and syrup thickens slightly. Discard vanilla bean.
  12. Orange cream filling
  13. Place all ingredients in big bowl. Whip on high speed until medium high peaks form.
  14. Ganache
  15. Place chocolate and cream in heatproof bowl and heat for 1 minute in microwave {or melt over a double boiler}
  16. Assemble
  17. Sandwich the layers of the cake with the orange cream filling, painting each layer first with the orange syrup.
  18. Frost all over with the chocolate orange ganache, sprinkle slivered almonds over, and orange slices f desired.

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