Monday, December 30, 2013

Rocky Road

I am a recent convert to Rocky Road, having never really eaten it until two years ago when a really good batch was gifted to the office.  Since then I’ve meant to give it a go.  So when all thoughts of making preserves as Christmas gifts were no longer feasible time wise, I thought of these and speedily put a few bags together the night before dishing them out as Christmas offerings for work colleagues. 

The white chocolate bars are very festive looking but that is not to say you can't make them all year round.  You can always kid yourself they’re healthy with the pistachios and cranberries. 

I made the recipe twice, once with white chocolate and once with dark and then combined the two types in cellophane gift bags.  My preference was for the white chocolate both in taste and appearance.  I suggest using a good quality chocolate as it does make all the difference.

Of course this post was supposed to be pre-Christmas but I’m sure most of you will know that last-minute seasonal panic that normally occurs and will forgive me, especially if I leave you with this quote which I pinned earlier today from Pinterest and via this site. I think it fits the bill for the coming of a new year.

Be kind
work hard
stay humble
smile often
stay loyal
keep honest
travel when possible
never stop learning
be thankful always and

Rocky Road 

250g white (or dark) chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup shelled pistachios
½ cup dried cranberries
100g marshmallows (if you're using the bigger ones, chop if you wish)

Grease and line a baking tin or Pyrex dish (approx. 15cm x 20cm), leaving an overlap of baking paper for easy removal.

Put the chocolate uncovered in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave in bursts of 30 seconds (stirring after each burst) for about 1-2 minutes or until melted and smooth.

Mix the pistachios, cranberries and marshmallows in a large bowl.  Add the melted chocolate and stir to combine.

Press the mixture into the tin and refrigerate for about 2 hours, or until set. Cut into squares, rectangles or chunks.

I served mine straight from the fridge (summer here).

Friday, December 13, 2013

Semolina, Coconut + Marmalade Cake

If you ever get fed up smelling the roses, try orange blossom water instead.  Gorgeous.  I’ve been inhaling the heady scent since dousing these cakes with it.  And in case that’s not enough, you can flavour the yoghurt with it too.

I took one of these loaves along to our December book club’s pot luck dinner. It was a lovely way to end our year of book club sessions – wine, food and conviviality.

The cake is about as simple as it can get – whisk the wet, stir the dry, mix together, pour into tins and bake.  It has that thick open texture you normally get with such cakes. The marmalade gives it a slight bitterness but it’s the orange blossom that gives it the edge in flavour and aroma.

Semolina, coconut & marmalade cake

From Jerusalem by Yottam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi

Makes two 500g loaves.  If you want to make a 1kg loaf, increase cooking time by a further 20-30 minutes.

180ml rice bran oil
240ml fresh orange juice
160g orange marmalade (fine cut or without peel)
4 eggs
grated zest of 1 orange
70g caster sugar
70g desiccated coconut
90g standard flour
180g semolina
2 tbsp ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder

Soaking Syrup

200g caster sugar
140ml water
1 tbsp orange blossom water

Preheat oven to 180°C/160°F. 

Grease and line two 500g loaf tins with baking paper.

In a bowl, whisk together the oil, orange juice, marmalade, eggs and orange zest until the marmalade dissolves.

In a separate bowl, mix all the dry ingredients and add to the wet.  Mix until well combined – it will be quite runny. 

Divide the filling between them.  Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.  They should be orangey-brown on top.

Near the end of baking time, place the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to the boil.  Remove from the heat. 

As soon as the cakes come out the oven, brush them with the hot syrup using a pastry brush.  Do this several times, leaving the syrup to soak in before applying again, until all the syrup is used.  You’ll enjoy this as the perfume wafts into the air.

Once the cakes have cooled down a little, remove from the tins and leave to cool completely.

Serve with coconut yoghurt or Greek yoghurt flavoured with a drop of orange blossom water.

Like citrus?  Try my favourite lemon cake of all.