Categories
Chocolate General Recipes

Cocoa Body Butter that Will Make you Swoon!

Today, I am going to be writing about food without writing about food. “How”, you ask, “is this possible?” Read on my aspiring domestic goddesses and gods and you will see!

In a previous post (a recipe for chocolate brazil-nut butter), I raved about The Body Shop’s brazil-nut body butter. While this is my favourite flavour, a close second, is their cocoa butter body butter. Despite how much I love this product though, the truth is that I’ve always wanted a body-butter that was even more, well cocoa-ey. (By now, if you’ve been reading one or two of my blog-posts, you know that I am definitely not a “less is more” type of person; more is definitely better in my book!) In the past, I’ve made my own body and face oils, having been inspired and coached by an old friend of mine, Ralph, who now practices naturopathy and Ayurveda in South Germany. So the concept of making my own skin-products isn’t entirely new to me; I’ve just never gotten around to it.

Then, in December last year, before I pushed off to India for the holidays, I had friends over for dinner, and one of them mentioned making her own lip balm. This got me thinking, and I resolved to make my own body butter someday. And then, I promptly tucked away said resolve somewhere in the back of my mind and forgot all about it. What with packing, flying to India and having wildly inappropriate dance parties with my insane family (and by this I mean my parents, Aunts, and Uncles happily prancing about to bollywood dance music with us young’un’s), I just didn’t have the chance to give it a go.

And then today, I woke up with a rather inexplicable craving for homemade body butter. It may have something to do with an email I got yesterday from The Body Shop asking me to “Indulge in Chocomania: it’s Sinfully Good and Totally Guilt Free”. Guilt free? Really? Not when I am spending what is literally my entire week’s entertainment budget on lotions and potions that smell like the food I would be buying if I had any money left!

So I went out exploring in my neighborhood and bought some pure shea butter and cocoa butter. And then, I made my own, deliciously decadent body butter and I am not exaggerating in the least when I say that the smell, texture, and look of it had me giggling, smiling and babbling excitedly.

The first whiff of it was absolute, pure delight. Try it and you’ll see what I mean!

Equipment:

A double boiler or a microwave

Hand-held mixer or whisk

One medium bowl and one large, deep bowl

Jars to put the body butter in

Ingredients:

(All the ingredients I used were organic)

100 ml pure Cocoa butter

50 ml pure Shea butter

2 tbsp Vitamin E oil (at least 2000o IU)

3 tbsp Sweet Almond Oil

1/4 to 1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence or Vanilla Oil

1 Tbsp Mineral Water

Method:

You can buy cocoa butter in the form of “chips”, or in a jar. If you buy it in a jar, you might have to place the jar in warm water for a bit, just to soften it up a bit, before you take it out. I placed both the shea butter and cocoa butter jars in a bowl of warm water in the sink for about 5 minutes.

Now measure out the cocoa butter and shea butter into the medium bowl and place it in the microwave. I would heat it on a very low setting (time defrost) for about 20 seconds at a time, checking on it periodically. You want the butters all melted and looking like this:

It’s important to do this carefully as you don’t want to overheat the butters. Once the butter-mixture is nice and melted, stir it a bit and place it in the freezer for 5 minutes to cool down. Then, add the sweet almond oil and vitamin e oil, stir and put the mixture back in the freezer for another 5 minutes or so, until the mixture has firmed up. Once firm, take it out, add a tablespoon of water and using the hand held mixer or whisk, beat the mixture.

At this stage in the process, I was taking in the wonderful smell when I realized the only thing that would make this smell better would be vanilla essense. Since I bake a lot, I had some lying about, and so I added 1/4 tsp to the mixture and whipped it up into a wonderful, light, creamy and delicious smelling mixture 🙂 When I smelt it, I felt it needed some more vanilla, so I added another quarter teaspoon. On a side-note, I would have used vanilla oil if I had some around because vanilla extract has alcohol (which dries the skin). However, if you don’t have any lying about, I am sure the essence is fine, since you’re using such a small quantity of it.

When you feel it’s suitably fluffy and you’re happy with the texture, scoop the mixture into clean, dry jars!

And there it is, your very own, delicious body butter that will have you smelling like something you want to eat. I am not sure why I want to smell like something I’d eat, I just do! It makes me wildly happy and if this sounds like the sort of thing that makes YOU cheerful, go ahead and give it a go- it’s easy!

Categories
Chocolate Chocolate Truffles Food Recipes

Cointreau Chocolate Truffles

Cointreau chocolate truffles

This was my latest chocolate experiment: Cointreau Truffles!

How did I settle on this particular flavour? Well, I bought a whole bottle of Cointreau at the Delhi International Airport last month you see. And today, wanting to make a new type of truffle I looked about my kitchen, and my eyes fell upon the bottle. I was torn between trying out Cointreau truffles and red wine truffles; in the end this seemed like a better bet. It turned out to be a good choice; they were delicious!

 

Equipment you will need:

A cutting board and knife OR a food processor

2 medium-sized bowls

A grater or citrus peeler or vegetable peeler

2 plates

Parchment sheet or wax paper (at a pinch, you could use aluminium foil)

Little paper cups to put the truffles in, preferably orange paper cups

Silicone Chocolate Mold (optional)

 

Ingredients:

8 Oz (approx 225 g) good dark chocolate (at least 70-80 % cocoa solids)

1/2 cup cream (whipping cream in Canada or heavy cream or double cream elsewhere)

2 pinches of salt

1 tbsp Cointreau (you could probably also use Grand Marnier)

1 orange

A few tbsp of cocoa powder

 

Method:
1.Peel or grate the rind/peel of the orange. Get the half cup of cream to a gentle simmer and immediately turn off the heat. Add the orange zest to the cream and let it steep for about an hour.

2. In the meantime, chop up the chocolate on a cutting board into fine pieces with a large knife. This is the tiresome part of the recipe. I have a food processor, so I just break the chocolate up into individual squares and then throw it into the processor. The reason you want the chocolate broken up into fine bits is because you want it all to melt evenly when you pour in the hot cream. Throw the chocolate bits into a bowl.

Chopped up chocolate to make a ganache

3. Once the orange peel has steeped in the cream for about an hour, re-heat the cream again to a gentle simmer, and pour the hot cream through a strainer into the bowl with the chocolate. Using a ladle, make sure all the chocolate is covered by the cream.

Making a chocolate ganache for chocolate truffles

4. Let it sit for 2-3 minutes. Then add the Cointreau and salt, and delicately fold the mixture. It’s important not to be rough because then you will get air bubbles into the chocolate. That wouldn’t be good as you want the chocolate to taste smooth and rich. You might also break the ganache (see this post for more on this).

Gently mixing the chocolate ganache

Chocolate ganache

5. Once you have a smooth mixture (this is called chocolate ganache), place the bowl in the fridge for about half an hour, until it firms up. The length of time you will need to leave it in the fridge will depend on the temperature inside your fridge, so keep checking on it. You want the ganache to be just firmed up, but not hard.

How to shape chocolate truffles

(That cow looks like she wants some of that delicious ganache :P)

6. In the meantime, take out the plates and place a sheet of parchment or wax paper on each of them. Once the chocolate mixture is ready, take it out of the fridge and spoon out the chocolate in small portions onto the parcement or wax paper. The portions should be approximately the size you want the truffles to be.

Making assorted chocolate truffles

(As you can see, at this stage, things look pretty messy, but that’s ok. You will be able to roll them about in your hands and slowly work them into fairly smooth and nice looking spheres.)

7. Now, roll each scoop/portion of chocolate about in your hand until it is more or less spherical, then place it back on the parchment. I would recommend washing your hands periodically, while you do this, as you will get chocolate all over them, and it will be more difficult to shape the truffles if you’ve got melted chocolate on your hands. Also, the washing will help to cool your hands. The truth is, I have to wash my hands periodically anyway because I can’t resist licking some of the chocolate off every once in a while 😉

Masala chai/black-tea flavoured truffles

8. Once you’ve shaped all the truffles, take another bowl and put about 2 tbsp of cocoa powder in it. Take each truffle in your hand, roll it about for a second or two, just enough to warm the surface and then roll the truffle in the cocoa powder, until it is covered. Finally, place it in a paper cup. Repeat until all the truffles are done. I’ve heard it being said that this process can be messy and/or arduous; I didn’t think it was either. This was the sum-total of the mess I made:

Making chocolate truffles is not messy!

This is how your truffles should look:

Cointreau Chocolate Truffles

9. If you don’t like the slightly rustic look of the cocoa, you can also dip the shaped truffles into melted chocolate. That is, once you’ve shaped the truffles in Step 7, skip Step 8. Instead, place the truffles in the fridge to firm up and, in the meantime, melt some dark chocolate in a double boiler or a fondue pot. Then dip the firmed up truffles in the melted chocolate, and place the truffle on a tray lined with parchment or wax paper. Let the chocolate harden and enjoy!

Cointreau truffles coated in dark chocolate

You could sprinkle some ground almonds on top to compliment the orange-y flavour 🙂

Cointreau truffles

10. You can also make more professional looking truffles if you have a silicone mould, like this one:

Silicone mold for truffles

All you have to do with a mould like this is pour the ganache directly into it right after Step 4. Then place the mould in the refrigerator or freezer until the chocolate firms up, then pop the chocolates out of the mould.

Cointreau chocolate truffles

You can put the truffles in the fridge for two to three weeks.

They make for a great present, just put them in a nice box and voilà, you have a handmade personalized present! I, for one, know my mother would love this; if only she and I were in the same country 😦 I will make her a box for when she visits me though 🙂

I also like to make up a box of assorted flavours:

Homemade truffles as a gift

If you’d like to try making a box of assorted chocolates, you could look for recipes on the Internet, or just be playful and invent your own. Here are some of my own recipes: basic dark chocolate truffles, masala chai truffles, sugar-coated truffles with orange-cream cheese centres, truffles with cream cheese centres, or truffles with mint butter-cream centres.
Or look at this detailed post about how to make multiple flavoured truffles for a gift box.

Have fun truffling 🙂

Categories
Chocolate Chocolate Truffles Cooking Food General Recipes

Basic Dark Chocolate Truffles

So by now, I think it is fairly obvious that I love chocolate. However, truth be told, I’ve become sick of all the usual chocolate you can buy at the drug-store or supermarket- the likes of Lindt, Ghirardelli, Cadburys etc. I even, to be honest, am sort of over store-bought hazelnut butter- a.k.a. Nutella.

No hell has not frozen over, and no I have not been kidnapped by someone who is now pretending to be me on my blog so people don’t report me missing (if you are someone who is considering kidnapping me by the way, this tactic will never work, I talk to my parents and some close friends virtually everyday, so I would be reported missing if I didn’t answer my phone in 2 hours max.) “But Nutella is AWESOME” you exclaim or if you’re my mother or father, which you probably are if you’re reading this, you heave a sigh of relief, because until now you thought I was going to develop heart disease and diabetes and god knows what else at the very tender age of 29.

But don’t get too excited dear parents, I am NOT giving up chocolate. I am saying I am over this store-bought stuff because it’s too sweet and frankly not very good chocolate. If I could, I’d go eat pralines and truffles from Soma (this amazing chocolate store in the distillery district in Toronto) or Leonidas or Patchi or some other chocolate store that knows what they’re doing. BUT, the problem is, I couldn’t possibly afford to- considering how much chocolate I guzzle on a daily basis and considering I am but a poor doctoral candidate.

NOW I finally have the solution to this problem. Handmade, homemade truffles! And now that I’ve figured out how to make them, I simply cannot understand how I was ever able to eat that rubbish they call chocolate in supermarkets and drugstores.

In addition these truffles are the answer to my goldilocks-type problem with chocolate. My problem with most dark chocolate is that it’s not as creamy as milk chocolate; my problem with milk chocolate is that it isn’t chocolatey enough. Happily, one of the things that makes truffles magical is that they can be rich, creamy and smooth and ALSO have a strong chocolatey flavour.

If you’d like to discover true happiness as well, keep reading, because what follows, is a detailed narrative of how to make basic dark chocolate truffles.

Equipment you will need:

A cutting board and knife OR a food proccessor

2 medium sized bowls

2 plates

Parchment sheet or foil

Little paper cups to put the truffles in

Ingredients:

8 Oz (approx 225 g) good dark chocolate (at least 70-80 % cocoa solids)

1/2 cup cream (whipping cream in Canada or heavy cream or double cream elsewhere)

A dollop of butter (at room temp)

2 pinches of salt

1 tsp vanilla essence

A few tbsp of Cocoa powder

Method:

Chop up the chocolate on a cutting board into fine pieces with a large knife. This is the tiresome part of the recipe. I have a food processor, so I just break the chocolate up into individual squares and then throw it into the processor. The reason you want the chocolate broken up into fine bits is because you want it all to melt when you pour in the hot cream.

Throw the chocolate bits into a bowl. Next, get the half cup of cream just to a boil and immediately turn off the heat and pour the hot cream into the bowl with the chocolate. Using a ladle, make sure all the chocolate is covered by the cream.

Let it sit for 2-3 minutes and then delicately fold the mixture. It’s important not to be rough because then you will get air bubbles into the chocolate. That wouldn’t be good as you want the chocolate to taste smooth and rich.

Add the dollop of butter, vanilla essence and salt and mix gently. Place the bowl in the fridge for about an hour, until it firms up. In the meantime take out the plates and place two sheets of parchment or foil on them. Once the chocolate mixture is ready take it out of the fridge and spoon out the chocolate in small portions onto the parcement or foil. The portions should be approximately the size you want the truffles to be.

Place the plates in the fridge again for about 15 mins. Take the truffles out when they’re firmed up again and roll them about in your hand until they’re more or less spherical, then place them back on the parchment. You can also try to shape them as tear drops- but good luck with that, it’ll take patience. This part of the process is so much fun! I love it because the chocolate looks and smells delicious. I would recommend washing your hands periodically in between, as you will get chocolate all over them, and it will be more difficult to shape the truffles if you’ve got melted chocolate on your hands. Also, the washing will help to cool your hands.

Once you’ve shaped all the truffles, take another bowl and put about 2 tbsp of cocoa powder in it. Take each truffle in your hand, roll it about for a second or two, just enough to warm the surface and then roll the truffle in the cocoa powder, until it is covered. Then place it in a paper cup. Repeat until all the truffles are done.

Mmmm they will taste delicious. You can put them in the fridge for two weeks or more, but take them out a few hours before you serve them- so that they’re at room temperature.

These basic truffles were so good, that I’ve tried quite a few variations too, such as, dark chocolate truffles with hazelnut butter-cream filling; truffles with a hazelnut centre that are coated with toasted, crushed hazelnuts; and dark chocolate truffles with a hint of orange. I will post pictures and recipes of these variations soon!

Categories
Cooking Food Indian Cooking Recipes

Buttery Rajma (Kidney Beans) with Rice

Indian Kidney Bean Curry RecipeI woke up this morning, ok I lied, I woke up this afternoon with a craving. I really wanted to eat some Rajma Chaval. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this dish, it’s a staple all over India. Although, it’s primarily a North-Indian dish, I know plenty of South-Indians who love the stuff. It’s sort of like a dal (what some of you non-Indians call lentil curry) made with red kidney beans. Rajma refers to these beans and chaval (or chawal) simply means rice.

This is a very simple dish, it’s comfort food really. If you’d like to try this recipe out, here goes:

Ingredients:

1 cup dried kidney beans (see below for how to prepare these beans, you need to prepare them at least 7 hours before you start cooking)

1 tablespoon Ghee (Indian clarified butter) or oil (you can find ghee in an Indian store; if you’d like to make it at home, here is my recipe)

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1-2 teaspoon grated ginger

1-2 teaspoon crushed garlic

2-4 Indian green chillies (I used dried red ones because I couldn’t find green ones in my neighborhood store)

2-4 Bay leaves

2-4 Cloves

1 pinch of Heengh (asafetida)

1 large onion or two small onions, finely diced. (red or white)

2 small tomatoes, or 1 large tomato, pureed or finely chopped (choose depending on whether you like small chunks of tomatoes in the rajma, some do, some don’t)

1-2 teaspoon red chilli powder

1/4 teaspoon haldi (turmeric)

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon cumin powder

Lots of butter 🙂

Some cream (optional)

Coriander as garnish

Note: For some of the ingredients I haven’t listed a precise quantity because it’s really up to you how spicy you want to make the dish. You might also like one spice better than another one, so you pick and choose how much you want to add within the range I specified (you can of course add even more than the upper-limit of my range, but then I can’t speak to how the dish will turn out, since I’ve never tried it that way).

Also, I am using Canadian vegetables. Onions, tomatoes, garlic, ginger etc taste different in different countries and regions; they also come in varying sizes. You’re going to have to experiment a little and you may find that you have to tinker with the measures I have recommended.

Preparing the beans: Soak the Rajma in plenty of water (at least tree times as much water as beans) overnight or for at least 7 hours. This soaking is important; if you don’t soak the beans, they won’t be soft enough and the final product won’t taste as good. There are allegedly short cuts to this, but I personally don’t believe they can produce the same results.

The next step is to cook the beans. Here’s a little tip, don’t use the water the beans were soaking in, to cook them. This water contains ‘oligosaccharides’ released from the beans, and they cause.. eerm.. well..eerm flatulence! If you don’t follow my advice, there is always this yoga pose:

(Image by The Holistic Care Yoga Wiki. The above image is CC licensed, for more information go here.)

So anyway, back to the recipe. With fresh water, pressure cook the beans until the cooker whistles about 4 times. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can simply boil them, it’ll just take longer. If you’re cooking them in a pot with water, the beans will be done when you can take one out and squish it between your fingers. I suppose you could use canned beans instead of going through all this trouble, but I am somehow not a big fan of things in cans. I feel, and obviously this is subjective, that beans from a can don’t taste as good as beans that have been soaked and cooked.

Method:

We’ll start with one tbsp of ghee/oil in a deep, preferably thick-bottomed sauce pan that comes with a lid. Lay aside the following spices:

Spices needed for the Rajma RecipeLet the ghee/oil get got, then add 1 tsp of cumin seeds. The heat should be on high at this point. Wait for the seeds to begin splutter. Now add the bay leaves, cloves chillies and heengh.

When the red chillies change colour add the onions. Saute them until the become soft and brownish (as seen in the photograph below). Then add the chopped tomatoes (or puree). Next, add the red chili, turmeric, coriander, and cumin powders.

Stir well, put a lid on the pot and let the mixture cook on low to medium heat for about 5-10 minutes.

In the meantime take a few tablespoons of the cooked beans in a separate bowl and mash the beans up a bit. Once the tomato-onion-spice mixture has cooked for a while and the raw tomato smell has gone, add the cooked beans along with the mashed beans to the mixture. Then add as much butter as you think you can get away with (without feeling guilty) and stir well. Place the lid back on the pot and let the mixture cook on low for about 20-40 minutes.

The Rajma is ready! You can serve it on top of hot steaming rice, add a bit of cream (if you like) and then garnish with coriander leaves.

As I said before, this isn’t a fancy dish at all- it’s a simple recipe that reminds me of home.

Categories
Baking Chocolate Food Recipes

Dark Chocolate Brazil Nut Butter (better than Nutella!)(seriously!!).

As much as I love chocolate, I love nutty flavours- not more, not less, just exactly the same amount. Now, while generally the hazelnut has been my nut of choice (although walnuts are lovely too and well peanuts are as unexotic as they are delicious) I think I have a new favourite- the brazil-nut.

In one sense my brazil-nut love-affair began a long time ago. The body shop has these rich, creamy body-butters and my favourite has always been their brazil-nut body butter. It’s absolutely delectable. Anyway, although I loved this body-butter, I’d never really eaten a brazil-nut before, or baked/cooked with these nuts. Then, one lovely summer weekend, my awesome father came to visit. It was wonderful to spend time with him and we walked and talked together, all over the city. As always, he wanted to get me something special as a parting present as it were, and we settled upon a food processor. This is now my favourite toy. It’s amazing and it makes life SO much easier. I shall rant about said toy in another post though, this post is about brazil-nuts.

Anyway, the first thing I decided to make with my processor was home-made nutella. And this project turned out quite well indeed. So well in fact, that the next day, I was out of butter. This time I decided to be adventurous. “This body-butter smells delicious”, I said to myself, “if I like these lotions and potions because they are inspired by food that I love, does it not follow that I would love the food that inspired my most treasured skin-concoction of all??!!”

So I went to the store and bought 100 g of Brazil-nuts. This is what they looked like:

I used only 100g because I wasn’t sure how the experiment would turn out. Here is an account of how things turned out:

Other ingredients I used:

About a cup of icing sugar (it’s important to use icing sugar and not any other kind because you don’t want discrete crystals of it in your butter. You want the butter to have a smooth texture)

1/2 to 3/4 tsp vanilla essence

A pinch of salt

1 tsp or so of peanut oil

About 100 g of good quality dark chocolate

Method:

I began by toasting the brazil-nuts in the oven at 375 farenheit (that’s 180 celsius) for about 10 minutes, tossing the nuts once during this time. I let them cool, and then placed them in a tea-towel and rubbed them against each other until their skins came off. (This process is a little boring and repetitive, so I recommend watching some television or chatting with a friend while you do this.)

Once their skins were mostly off, I put the nuts in the processor and then just let it run for a while. You don’t need to add any butter or oil at all at this stage. Just let the processor do it’s thing. If you’re wondering which blade you should use, check the processor manual- it should tell you what blade/setting works for nut-butters. The nuts will first be crushed, then they’ll be ground to a fine paste and finally you will find them turning to butter. While the nuts are being processed place the chocolate in a bowl and melt it in the microwave. Be sure to do this on a low setting as you don’t want to burn the chocolate. Ideally, you should melt the chocolate in a double boiler to avoid this, but I find that if I am careful, I can do it in the microwave. Once the nuts are smooth, creamy and buttery in texture, stop the processor.

Add the salt, peanut oil, vanilla essence, half the melted chocolate and a few tablespoons of sugar to the butter. Run the processor. Stop and taste-test. if you feel it needs more chocolate or sugar, add some more and process again. Repeat the taste-test and sugar-chocolate adjustments, if necessary. I think it’s best not to follow a recipe in this regard, but to just wing it. As I said in an earlier post about my “universal dark chocolate icing“, each of us has very particular preferences, so why not try and make something perfectly suited to one’s own palate?

Once you’ve played around with the sugar-chocolate balance and found the perfect equilibrium between the two, and made sure everything has been evenly and smoothly mixed together, stop the processor. The butter will look and smell and delicious as you pour it into a jar or tupperware. Here’s proof of how amazing it looks at least:

“I should have made more!”, I lamented to myself. I really should have. And so should you! Double the recipe!

The texture is slightly thin, so if you’d like it thicker so you can spread it on bread etc., put it in the fridge. (I eat nutella with a tablespoon, not bread, so I don’t understand the other half of the population that eat’s it WITH things (unless it’s ice cream they eat it with, THAT I understand).) It’ll look like this once you put it in the fridge.

Ok, not exactly like this. Quite obviously, I got to this with a tablespoon FIRST and THEN realized I should have photographed it. Anyway, you get the idea about the butter’s texture.

All in all, this was deliciousness itself. It tastes absolutely incredible, way better than any nut-butter I’ve tried before.

Categories
Baking Chocolate Food Recipes

Universal Dark Chocolate Icing Recipe

After making the Gianduja cake earlier today (see earlier post) I sat down to figure out what sort of icing would work with the cake. As I said in my earlier post, I used a recipe from Nigella lawson’s book, “How to be a Domestic Goddess” for the cake. However, I didn’t really like the sound of the dark chocolate ganache she recommended for the cake. It didn’t sound bad or anything, I mean how can “dark chocolate ganache” be bad, but it didn’t sound perfect to me (I have particular preferences. For instance, I always prefer buttercream frosting to cream-based frosting). Also, I didn’t have enough cream at home. So I decided to wing it, as it were. And this is what I came up with.

What you need:

Equipment:

Mortar and pestle (if you want to add toasted ground hazelnuts on top of the icing) 

Spatula or knife to spread icing

A double boiler or a small bowl and a microwave

A food processor or stand-alone mixer OR 1 large bowl and a hand-held mixer or whisk.

Ingredients:

100 g bar of good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)

A few tablespoons of the heaviest cream you can find (in Canada you’ll have to settle for whipping cream which is about 38% I believe)

1/2 tsp vanilla essense

About a cup of icing sugar

1 1/3 stick of unsalted butter

Two handfuls of hazelnuts

There is a reason these measurements are so imprecise. I just sort of experimented. They say that cooking is an art-form because you can adjust ingredients and spices to taste, whereas baking is science. This is generally true I think, but frosting is a little more on the art side of the scale than baking a cake is. What I mean is you can have an adjustable frosting recipe. I find most frosting to be too sweet and creamy- I would prefer it to be more buttery and chocolately. I also like to put a lot of frosting on my cake 🙂 This is why I have listed approximate measures here.

Preparing the chocolate: Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave.

Preparing the hazelnuts: Toast the hazelnuts in the oven at 375 farenheit (that’s 180 celsius) for about 10 minutes, tossing the nuts once during this time. Let them cool and then place them in a tea-towel and rub them against each other until they lose their skins. Then place them in a mortar and pestle and coarsely grind them. I suggested a mortar and pestle rather than a dry-grinder because this way you can make sure you break up all the nuts without reducing most of the nuts to a powder.

Method:

I began by putting about 3/4 cup of icing sugar into my food processor. I then processed it to get rid of any lumps. Next, I added the butter to this and processed it again, until it was a smooth, creamy mix. If you don’t have a processor just put the sugar and butter in a large bowl and use an egg-beater ( or whisk).

I tasted it at this point and felt it wasn’t sweet enough, so I added a little sugar and then a little more and a little more- until it was just right. I think each person’s desired level of sweetness differs, so this is a great way to make the icing just right for you! At this point, I added the vanilla essence and two tablespoons of heavy cream and gave the whole mixture a nice whirl in the processor. I made sure that the mixture was creamy and light at this point.

The next step was to add the chocolate. I spooned about 3/4 of the chocolate into the processor and processed it.

Upon tasting the icing it I found it needed more chocolate, so I added some more melted chocolate. I also added one more tablespoon of cream to the mix and gave the whole thing a few more whirls until everything was nicely mixed up and I had a smooth, creamy chocolatey frosting.

In the mean time, the Gianduja cake had been cooling on the dining table. I poured the icing at the centre of the cake and then spread it over the cake.

You can get angled spatulas that are great for spreading icing – since I didn’t have one, I used this:

Periodically, I rinsed off the extra icing on the knife in warm water and shook off the extra water. This made it easier to spread the icing.

I finally managed to spread the icing somewhat evenly over the cake. It didn’t matter that much if it wasn’t perfectly even because I was going to top it off with nuts. Finally, I sprinkled the toasted, crushed hazelnuts all over the cake.

And the end result was this:

Which my friends will be enjoying tomorrow when I have them over for tea! I already sneaked a piece though, and it was absolutely YUMMY! I recommend this recipe to anyone who likes chocolate and nuts and doesn’t like their desserts overly sweet.

I cannot stress this enough though, this icing tastes best when it’s warm. So reheat a cake slice in the microwave before you serve it.

Categories
Baking Chocolate Food Recipes

Flourless Gianduja Cake (a.k.a. the best Nutella cake in the Universe)

Ever since I returned from India last week I have been feeling sickish intermittently. I woke up this morning feeling more drained than usual, so in an effort to cheer myself up I decided to bake.

I walked over to the neighborhood Public Library, which, by the way, happens to be 2 minutes away from my apartment, and checked out Nigella Lawson’s “How to be a Domestic Goddess”. I browsed through the book and when I came upon her recipe for “Torta Alla Gianduja”, well I was quite excited to say the least. You see, I have loved Nutella for most of my adult life with an unhealthy, even disturbing fervour and devotion. (I would have loved it as a child, but I grew up in India at a time when “foreign products” were difficult to come by. My parents brought me chocolate from all over the world because they traveled quite a bit, but for some reason they never did buy me nutella. Even peanut butter I only chanced upon when my American cousins brought a jar with them on their visit to India. (Needless to say I was smitten, but that ramble is for another blog-post.))

Back to the recipe, the Nutella cake seemed fairly simple to make- so I decided to give it a try. I modified the recipe a bit, and the icing I used (the recipe for which can be found in my next post) was quite different from the one Nigella recommended. You can find her original recipe here:

What follows is a blow-by-blow account of how the experiment went, complete with amateur pictures taken with my iPhone.

What you will need:

Equipment:

A 23 cm spring-form pan, two large bowls, two smaller bowls, a hand-held or stand-alone mixer or a whisk, a food-processor or mortar and pestle, and a tea towel.

Ingredients:

6 free range eggs (I insist on free-range after seeing some horrific videos of how chicks and hens are treated in “egg factories”.

A pinch of salt

1 stick of salted butter (the recipe calls for unsalted butter, but I like a little bit more salt in my chocolate recipes than most, I find it balances the flavour well. In addition, salted butter is cheaper at the super-market by mine (for some mysterious reason). Therefore, I decided to use salted butter.)

1 375g jar of Nutella

1 Tbsp Jamaican Rum (the recipe calls for Frangelico, but my neighborhood LCBO (for my non-Ontario friends, this is the only store that sells alcohol in Ontario, apart from the beer store and a few random wine stores that sell only Canadian wine) (it’s weird I know!) didn’t have any.)

100 g Hazelnuts

100g Lindt dark chocolate ( with at least 70 % cocoa solids)

To begin with, I made sure to lay all the ingredients out on my dining table. When you’re baking, unless the recipe otherwise specifies, it is best to use all ingredients at room temperature. Next, I turned on the oven and preheated it to 375 degrees farenheit (that’s 180 celsius).

Preparing the hazelnuts: I toasted the nuts in the oven at 375 farenheit for about 10 minutes, tossing them once or twice in-between. Next, I let them cool a bit and then placed them in a tea-towel. Then I rubbed the nuts against the towel until their skins peeled off. Then, I put the nuts in a food processor (you could also use a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle) and processed them till fine.

Preparing the chocolate: I melted the chocolate over a double boiler (you can use a microwave, but be careful not to burn the chocolate then).

I was now ready to begin! What follows are step-by-step instructions to re-create the delish cake I made today! Enjoy!

The first step of the baking process involved separating the whites and yolks of 6 eggs. (Make sure to put the whites in a large bowl). Some people think separating the egg white and yolk and beating them separately is a waste of time. But it isn’t if your recipe does not call for baking powder/soda. Your cake will not rise properly if you don’t beat the whites properly in that cake.

After separating the whites and yolks, add the pinch of salt to the whites and then beat them until they are ‘stiff but not dry”. What this means is that you want to be able to make the foamy whites rise to a peak with your finger. Another way to test this is to take a clean dry egg and try to float it on top of the egg-white foam. If it sinks you’re not done. If it floats completely you’ve overdone it. If it sinks just a quarter of an inch- well you’re egg-whites are perfect then! Make sure the bowl and the whisk you use are perfectly clean- i.e. they are free from oil and water.

Stiff egg-white
Next, beat the Nutella and butter together, until they are well-mixed and creamy. Then add the rum. Beat. Next add egg yolks. Beat. Finally beat in the ground hazelnuts.

Nutella batter!
Then, fold in the dark chocolate. Next, add a dollop of the egg-white-foam and beat it in. Finally, slowly and gently fold in the rest of the foam. This is important- don’t be rough at this stage- because we want to preserve the airy-ness and lightness of the foam. Here is a video that shows you how to do it:

When you’re done folding the foam in, pour the batter in a greased and floured 23 inch springform pan.

Batter in the pan
Slide the pan into the oven and set the timer for 40 minutes. I would go and check on it towards the tail-end of this period. The cake is done when it starts separating from the sides of the tin. You can do the tooth-pick test to confirm (insert a toothpick gently in and see if it is clean when you pull it out).

When it’s done, take it out and cool it on a cooling rack. I don’t have one so I made a makeshift one:

My cake cooling!
And when it’s cooled remove the sides of the pan:

As you can see, I couldn
Now the cake is ready! I am off to go make some chocolate ganache to ice it with now. Yay! You can find the recipe for the icing in the next post. Also, a little tip- if you’re going to store the cake for a while, make sure to heat it up quickly in the microwave when you take it out of the fridge. Just heat for 20-30 seconds on low- both the cake and the icing taste waaay nicer that way.

Oh and by the way, since the cake is flour-less it’s gluten-free!