cherry & chocolate frangipane cake. I have a confession to make, I’m not huge on chocolate desserts. Particularly when it comes to chocolate cakes. Frosted covered, puffy, layered, 90s chocolate cakes frequently come to mind (80s baby over here!)… Frequently more sugar than chocolate content, and a tummy ache in the horizon.
I like my chocolate cakes (perhaps I should say tortes), dense, moist, and with a tangy twist to them (be it orange, cranberries, cherries, mint… or a liquor). But with these the frequent words associations are “flourless”, and rapidly followed by… eggs (can we say a dozen?!), butter (I don’t even want to know how much…), dark chocolate (how many bars did you say?!)… You know the drill. It is all well and good for a little indulgence, but how about a chocolate torte where you can indulge (in a large piece), and not suffer the consequences?
This cherry and chocolate frangipane cake/torte took a little developing. Inspired by the much adored frangipane filling, the almond meal helps to provide part of the fat content and flavour (think amaretti meets chocolate!), and with a few other tweaks we are able to forgo the butter. Plus, we made sure to add enough cherries inside (and of course on top) to cut through the chocolate just right.
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cranberry & pecan galette. What more can I say about this guy here, other than its a rather exceptional (and festive) galette. The recipe has become a Christmas staple over here at Chez van der Hulst for three seasons running, and this year I ended up whipping up 4 of these (no complains here, as I got my taste of all four… hehe).
The tartness of the cranberries is perfectly paired with the crunchy pecans, and the hint of rosemary is really just divine. Also, do not (under any circumstance please!) omit the orange rind from the pastry, as it is the perfect pairing with the cranberry filling. Heaven.
And hey, guess what? The cranberries are sweetened mostly with agave, so forget the truckloads of refined sugar which go into most cranberry desserts (hooray!). The trick is to cut them in half, and leave them soaking in the agave overnight. I do like to add a couple of tablespoons of evaporated cane juice right before they go in the oven though.
Other than that, this beauty is great both warm or cold. And it is also exceptionally good the day after.
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(vegan & gluten free) amaranth ‘n cranberry scones. Without fear of sounding like a ganster, these scones are pretty dope. Seriously. There are great scones, and then there are grrrrr-eat scones- and these happen to fall into the later category.
Also this is not my first rodeo when it comes to food blogging, two years ago I was cooking it up over at gnom-gnom.com. You can say that life and work got in the way, I was subsequently diagnosed with coeliacs disease, and so had to modify my way of cooking. I decided to start fresh over here, clean slate for a new stage. But these scones are the gluten free version of one of my most popular (and praised) recipes from over there.
And guess what? They may have just gotten even better.
Back then I might have just been willing to bet my taste buds for these guys. And well, I still am. That good.
Call it getting in the Christmas mood, but I cannot get enough of this winter fruit. Incorporated into these scones, they provide a lovely tartness and contrast against the earthy amaranth (which I increased in the gluten free version).
p.s. these might be vegan, but if you are not vegan I suggest pulling a food-oxymoron here and slathering a touch of ricotta. Otherwise some good quality coconut yoghurt (or whipped cream) will work great as well. And don’t forget the drizzle of maple syrup. Supreme.
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amaretti. Amaretti are special little biscuits, for they might not be lookers per say, but once you take your first bite you get why these guys have stood the test of time to have become classics. The nice thing about them as well are that they are ‘naturally’ gluten free, aka. the recipe was not adapted in any way for us coeliacs to be able to enjoy (hooray!). And hey, they are also an absolute piece of cake to make, if you don’t mind me saying (keep this on the down low please).
These little Italian biscuits also hold a special place in my heart. You see, it was the first (baking) recipe which I successfully carried out back in my university years, and you just never forget your first.
I was a late bloomer in the kitchen, and only became truly interested in my later years of university (shame on me). There was loads (loads) of experimentation (most of it pretty unsuccessful, to say the least), but after a while I got the hang of baking (precision, precision, precision).
Easy peasy to whip up, but with a taste that rivals even the most complex of biscuits. Almond flour, sugar (I have since switched to evaporated cane juice and it works perfectly), egg whites and a dash of almond extract (please use natural, it makes an absolute difference). That’s it.
A crunchy crust and a soft and chewy centre, it is no wonder these are an Italian staple. Give them to loved ones in little baggies (I have) or simply make for yourself (I have as well), these keep extremely well for at least 3 days (probably longer, but they are always gone at chez van der Hulst before I can test the theory).
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bacalao (salted cod). Bacalao (salted cod), is a dish traditionally served in Mexico (and Spain) during the Christmas to New Year period and one of my all-time-favourite dishes without a doubt (and if you know me, this is saying a lot!). I remember Christmas after Christmas as a kid sitting with my mother (and company) to shred the cod. Eagerly anticipating it (even more so than the turkey).
It is time consuming yes, but worth every bit of the work. This is my grandmother’s recipe, a take on the Spanish bacalao a la vizcaína. It really is a very special recipe, and one of the dishes she came to be known for throughout her lifetime. Her ‘secret’ was to shred the cod as thinly as possible (instead of leaving it in chunks), and to subsequently fry it in small batches. Hers was also dry, rather than ‘soupy’, so it makes for killer leftover sandwiches (even if you are a coeliac like myself, still make an effort to find a good gluten free bread).
And what to do if the bacalao turns out a bit too salty? It happens sometimes if you do not de-salt it enough in the previous days. You can add more potatoes and have them ‘soak up’ the extra salt. It really does the trick.
And, this may sound cocky (but I’ll risk it anyways), let me tell you that doing the bacalao this way really does result in one of the best bacalaos I’ve had (if not the best one). And I haven’t been the only judge of this.
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