Sunday, June 30, 2013

Rose Pistachio Turkish Delight

I didn't always like Turkish delight. I used to associate it with the horrible cheap stuff in the UK that comes covered in chocolate and then packaged in chocolate bar wrapping. This tasted like hard jelly blocks infused with some discerning flavouring, and really was not nice at all. However this all changed when I visited Istanbul in my teens. Here I got to taste the truly amazing sweet in its real form. Where better to try Turkish delight than in Turkey itself?! Real Turkish delight tastes like delicately sweet and aromatic pieces of jelly, dusted lightly in powdered sugar. Definitely moreish. And I am glad to say that it isn't difficult to get good quality Turkish delight now, whether in London or Dubai.

My favourite Turkish delight flavour has always been rose, and I knew when I decided to make it I could only make it in that flavor. Along with pistachios, it is another perfect partnership in food marriage. This is another sweet which I thought would be so difficult to make myself. Turkish delight is seen almost as a delicacy; exotic and other-worldly, that in my far-off mind it seemed only a recipe  trained Turkish masters know the secret of. Yet I was very wrong!

It does take a bit of effort, as there is a lot of stirring whilst the jelly thickens, but eventually it all comes together, and once its ready and hardened, you officially have your own homemade Turkish delight!

This makes many many pieces so its great for giving away to friends in small favour boxes. Just make sure to add lots of the icing sugar/cornflour mixture to keep the pieces from sticking to one another and to remain fresh .

Rose Pistachio Turkish Delight

Barely adapted from The Guardian

Makes 80 pieces

375g caster sugar
Juice of half lemon
25g gelatine powder
100g cornflour
25g icing sugar
4 tspns rosewater
Pink food colouring gel
50g pistachios, roughly chopped
Sunflower oil, for brushing tin

Add the sugar and lemon juice with 300ml of water in a medium-sized pan. Stir over low heat until sugar has dissolved, then bring gently to the boil. Mix the gelatine with 75g of the cornflour and 200ml water and add to the pan. Stir constantly until the gelatine has dissolved, then continue to simmer very gently for 20 minutes until thickened. Meanwhile mix together the remaining cornflour and the icing sugar. Lightly oil a 20cm square baking tin and line it with clingfilm. Lightly dust the clingfilm with some of the cornflour mixture. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool. Add the rosewater, food colouring and pistachios and pour the mixture into the tin. Spread level and leave to cool for at least 4-6 hours or until completely set. Cut into squares and dust with the rest of the icing sugar and cornflour mixture. Store in an airtight container for upto a week.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Coffee and Walnut Cake (Dad's Birthday!)

The month of June is a busy one in my family when it comes to the male members. My dad, husband and brother-in-law all have birthdays in this month, not to forget that Fathers Day has also just passed. I made this coffee and walnut cake to celebrate my dads birthday and it went down a treat!
To many, coffee and walnut cake is often reminiscent of bake sales and charity fundraisers, which is why it has such classic appeal. It also comes across to me as a very homely and English cake, and is usually presented in a rustic style. I decided to stay within this keeping, and used the coffee buttercream to only frost between the layers and the top, so that the sides remained bare. And I'm rather pleased with how it turned out!

My dad also likes to enjoy an espresso coffee now and then, which is why I thought this cake would be perfect for him. Its not girly in the least or over the top, but a cake with more emphasis on its taste. Of course coffee and walnuts are another great pairing too. The coffee in this cake lends just the right amount of aroma and taste, so if you are a strong coffee lover add a tablespoon more to your cake mix.  You could also make this cake in a loaf tin, to make an easy to slice cake to have with your tea. 
So whether you make this coffee and walnut cake for a bake sale, to have with your afternoon tea, or a family members birthday, it is bound to be enjoyed. Its a cake which you can't go wrong with!

Coffee and Walnut Cake
3 tblspn instant coffee
2 tblspn boiling water
225g unslated butter
225g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
225g self-raising flour
1 tspn baking powder
100g walnuts, chopped
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease and line two round cake tins. Dissolve the instant coffee in the boiling water and leave to cool. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar well. Add one egg at a time, beating each one into the mixture. Pour in the coffee and mix well, then add the flour and baking powder. Add the chopped walnuts and combine altogether. Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake for about 30 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out of the centre of the cake clean. Leave to cool fully on a wire rack before icing with the buttercream.
For the Coffee Buttercream
2 tspn instant coffee
1 tblspn boiling water
150g unsalted butter
300g icing sugar
Walnuts, chopped for decorating
Dissolve the coffee in the boiling water and allow to cool. Beat the butter and icing sugar together until light and pale, then add the cooled coffee. Use a spatula or knife to ice your cake and decorate with walnuts.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce

Sticky date pudding is a dessert my dad and I, back when we were all living in London, often enjoyed in the form of a local supermarket brands version. It was always delightful to see the runny toffee sauce emerge from the container once the pudding had been microwave heated. And even in this packaged bought version, it tasted lush!

Many years later, my mother-in-law introduced me to a version of sticky date pudding served in a quaint little restaurant in the heart of Zanzibar's Stone Town. I became so enamored with this pudding which, being half way around the world from my childhood home, surely became equated with the comfort of that I had enjoyed back in the UK. My husband quickly learned to bring me some home often on his way back from work!

Sticky date pudding is essentially cake like, but a little bit gooey, due to its date composure. It has a wonderful aroma thanks to the abundance of spices, which smells even more heavenly when baked at home. Of course, sticky date pudding is nothing if without the toffee sauce to go with it!

I have often thought it is those desserts which are enjoyed the most that are more difficult to recreate in the kitchen. But I'm finding out more and more, with each recipe I try, that this isn't the case. This recipe for sticky date pudding, along with the toffee sauce, really only took me twenty minutes to prepare, minus the baking time.

I really enjoyed the richness of the spices which came through in this cake, and was delighted at how similar it tasted to all the versions I have had in the past. This pudding shouldn't really have any cocoa powder in it, but I added a little to my recipe! Make sure you also enjoy your sticky date pudding warm - if not straight from the oven, microwave the cake with the toffee sauce spooned on top, for about a minute or so on medium.
Sticky date pudding with toffee sauce is a heart-warming dessert which never fails to satisfy me, and I'm sure it won't for you too!

Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce

Adapted from Jamie Oliver

Makes 4 servings

110g dates, stoned
Half tspn bicarbonate of soda
40g unsalted butter, soft
85g caster sugar
1 large egg
85g self-raising flour
1 tspn cinnamon powder
1 tspn nutmeg powder
1 tspn ginger powder
1 tspn cocoa powder
1 tblspn natural yoghurt

For the toffee sauce

55g unsalted butter
55g brown sugar
70ml single or double cream

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Put the dates in a bowl with the bicarbonate of soda, and cover with 100ml of boiling water. Leave to stand for two minutes to soften, before draining. Blend the dates in a food processor to make a thick paste/puree and keep aside. Cream the butter and sugar together well, then add the egg, flour, cocoa powder and all the spices. Mix together well, and fold in the yoghurt and date puree. Pour into a large buttered ovenproof dish, or smaller individual dishes for 35 minutes or 20-25 minutes for the smaller ones.  
Meanwhile prepare the toffee sauce by putting the butter, sugar and cream in a small pan over low heat. Remove once the sugar has dissolved and sauce has thickened and turned brown in colour.
Once the pudding is ready, serve warm with the toffee sauce.

This post is part of the Memories by the Mile, Mouthwatering Mondays'Whats Cookin' Wednesday, Show and Share, Sugar & Spice, the36thAvenue, TGIF, Totally Tasty Tuesdays', Two Cup Tuesday and Sweet Tooth Tuesdays link parties.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Chocolate Banoffee Cheesecake Pots (No bake)

I've always had a love for layered cheesecakes. I think it comes from a childlike fascination for spooning into a dessert with multiple textures and flavours, which somehow taste perfectly good together. And the combination of flavours in this no-bake chocolate banoffee cheesecake pot does just that.

This cheesecake pot is not for the faint-hearted. It is indulgent and filling, however not as sweet as it may seem. A buttery biscuit layer makes the base, followed by an ample layer of lightly sweet mascarpone cheese, topped with a sticky banana dulce de leche, and lastly a rich chocolate sauce.

You can make your layers as big or small as you like, although like a true cheesecake I would recommend a substantial amount of biscuit, with the mascarpone layer making up most of your serving glass, and two smaller layers of the banoffee and chocolate sauce. At first glance, it may seem like there is an awful lot to do in this recipe, but really its just mixing together two ingredients per layer and then layering into your serving glasses.

The banana in the dulce de leche is really very subtle and not overpowering at all, so if you aren't ordinarily a fan of banana in desserts like me, it shouldn't be a problem. If you can't find dulce de leche in your supermarket, there is an easy way to make it by using condensed milk.

Chocolate banoffee cheesecake pots are a lovely dessert to share as a couple too, as me and the husband duly sat and enjoyed our cheesecake pots in front of the T.V. after dinner!

Chocolate Banoffee Cheesecake Pots

Makes 4 to 5 servings

For the biscuit base:

8 digestive biscuits, or any plain biscuits
3 tblspns butter, melted

Break biscuits roughly into a blender, then blend until crumbs are fine. Mix well into the melted butter, and fill serving glasses with a layer of the mixture, pressing into the bottom with a spoon. Refrigerate until ready to add the next layer.

For the cheesecake filling:

1 tub 250g mascarpone
Half cup icing sugar

Mix the icing sugar with the mascarpone until well combined. Now take out the glasses from the fridge and add a thick even layer on top of the biscuit base. The mascarpone layer should fill upto half of the glass. Put glasses back in the fridge.

For the banana toffee:

5 tblpsns dulce de leche
1 small banana

Mash or puree the banana until smooth and runny, then add the dulce de leche mixing well until you again have a smooth consistency. Add a small layer on top of the mascarpone layer, and refrigerate a third time.

For the chocolate sauce:

Half cup single cream
Half cup dark chocolate, chopped roughly

Pour the single cream into a microwavable bowl or mug, and add the chocolate. Microwave on medium heat for about two minutes. Remove and whisk till the chocolate has melted. If the chocolate is still hard, heat for another minute. Leave to cool, before adding chocolate sauce to your cheesecake glasses. Add a thin layer, and refrigerate for three to four hours till the chocolate sauce has set well.

Add sliced banana pieces to decorate before serving if desired.

This post has been added to the Totally Tasty Tuesdays', Memories By The Mile , Wednesdays Whatsits, Make Bake Create, Simple Create Thursdays' and Salt Tree Social link partys.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Princess Cupcakes (diabetic-friendly)

My niece was intent on having a very pink and princess themed party for her 4th birthday. However as a diabetic, we had to ensure most of the party food was savory, with only one or two sweet snacks. Although she had a normal sugar cake, I made these sugar-free princess themed cupcakes especially for the occasion.
These are classic vanilla cupcakes, made with Canderel sweetener, in place of the sugar. The frosting however is made with icing sugar, so I pared it down to make the frosting a little more buttery. Unfortunately sugar-free cupcakes don't taste quite as sweet or lovely as ones with sugar. Still to my niece's four-year-old mind (and any diabetic I'm sure) all that mattered is that they were cupcakes and pink!

I decorated them with pink fondant roses and stars, sprayed with a little edible gold spray. Added with some decorative touches in the form of mini Disney princesses, gold cutlery and napkins, sparkly pink confetti, silver tiaras, and a pink tablecloth, the table looked splendidly princess themed!
Diabetic-friendly Vanilla Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup (180g) butter, soft
1 tspn vanilla essence
1 cup (110g) Canderel, or any sweetener
2 large eggs
2 cups self-raising flour
5 tblspns milk

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Cream together the butter and Splenda in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla essence mixing well. Slowly sift the flour into the mixture incorporating well and finally add the milk. Divide equally into cupcake liners and bake for about 20 minutes. They should appear a nice golden yellow. Leave to cool before icing and decorating.

This post has been added to the Simply Create Thursdays',  Memories By The Mile and Back For Seconds' link parties.
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