Sicilian Lemon, Ricotta and Almond Cake Recipe #glutenfree

“Baking and love go hand in hand, for as one bakes a tasty treat and fills the room with its sweet aroma, the true joy is to take what has been made and share it with another.” 
~  Heather Wolf

 

Years ago I was travelling through a remote part of the Australian Outback. I stopped to refuel at a roadhouse in the middle of nowhere, and when I went inside to pay for my fuel I was overwhelmed by the smell of coffee. Good coffee. Long before there were baristas on every corner of the globe.

I mentioned to the middle-aged man who took my money that the coffee smelled divine. ‘Do you want some?’ he asked me. ‘Mum’s just made a fresh pot.’

Of course I said yes, and soon I was sitting at a table under a tree behind the roadhouse, with the man, his wife, and his very elderly Italian mother. She had brewed up her coffee in a stovetop espresso machine, the first one I had ever seen. The coffee was served in tiny glasses. No milk, but there was sugar if it was wanted. To accompany the coffee the old woman produced half a cake on a covered plate, still glistening with cold from the refrigerator.

She cut me a wedge, scooped a small serve of vanilla ice-cream onto my plate and then poured a drizzle of syrup over my cake from a glass jar.

The cake was delicious. Moist and dense but not heavy, full of sweetness and lemon that paired beautifully with the robust black coffee. I was in heaven!

Neither the old woman nor the man’s wife could speak English, but I still managed to get the recipe for the cake, which I recorded on the back of a used envelope. I also had my first taste of limoncello, which this Italian family also made themselves.

I hope you enjoy the cake as much as I do! You can certainly eat it warm, straight from the oven, but I like it better cold. An added bonus is that it is gluten-free. It will keep for a week, refrigerated. It also freezes well.

Cake Ingredients

  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 3 large eggs (or 4 small)
  • grated zest of 3 large lemons
  • 2 and 1/2 cups almond meal (I used ground whole organic almonds – the texture is still a little coarse, and the skins give a good flavour and texture)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (you can cut back to 1/2 if you are not a fan of sweet cakes)
  • 1/3 cup flaked almonds
  • Optional but good – 2 tablespoons of limoncello

Syrup Ingredients

  • grated zest of one large lemon
  • 1/2 cup  lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup  caster sugar

Method

1. Preheat oven to 160°C/140°C fan forced. Grease and line base of a 20 cm deep round cake pan with baking paper.

2. Place ricotta, eggs, zest, almond meal and sugar in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until smooth. This only takes a minute or so. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle evenly with almonds. Bake for 55 minutes, or until cooked through.

3. Meanwhile, combine lemon juice, zest and extra sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Use a fine skewer to poke some holes in top of cake. Pour limoncello over cake and then half the hot syrup. Keep extra syrup aside for serving. Syrup will thicken as it cools. Leave cake to stand in tin until cold. (unless serving warm – obviously!)

Serve warm or cold, with vanilla ice-cream, natural yogurt and a drizzle of extra syrup. I am a big fan of coconut yoghurt with this cake. That’s what is in the pictures below.

My favourite cup measure gifted to me by my Nana!

Getting my ingredients together

When you grate your lemon zest, try not to get too much of the white pith, which has a bitter taste

The cake batter, thick and not over-beaten

The prepared cake mix, ready for the oven

The syrup, in all its lemony goodness

Hot cake, skewered and with syrup poured over

Cake is served! Afternoon tea on the veranda.

Sicilian Lemon, Almond Ricotta Cake. Let the eating begin!

Easy Chocolate Sour Cream Cake Recipe

Chocolate-s

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
~ Charles M. Schulz

 

Who doesn’t love chocolate cake?

Actually, my husband! But even Ben loves this cake, declaring it ‘the best chocolate cake he has ever tasted’.

If you’re looking for a simple, easy, moist chocolate cake recipe that can be whipped up as easily as a packet mix but with so much more flavour and goodness – this is it.

It really is as simple as throwing the ingredients in a bowl, mixing together, placing in the oven and baking. Kids and non-cooks will have success with this recipe. So yummy. So easy.

The cake is dense and fudge-y. You could serve it plain, or dust a little icing sugar over the top, but for a real celebration the ganache frosting totally rocks. In fact it dresses up this simple cake so much that suddenly it could be a special occasion cake, a dessert cake, a fancy cake…

I’ve made this very successfully with gluten-free flour too. This recipe is a keeper!

Ingredients:

Cake: 1 cup of plain flour (can be wheat flour or gluten-free), 4 tablespoons cocoa, 1 teaspoon bicarb soda, 1 pinch of salt, 1 cup of soft brown sugar – lightly packed, 1 large egg, 1 cup of sour cream, 1 teaspoon of vanilla

Chocolate Ganache: 200 grams of dark chocolate (70% cocoa is great!), 200 grams of cream, 1 tablespoon of honey

 

Method for Cake:

Line a 23cm round, deep tin with baking paper. Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Sift the flour, bicarb and cocoa together in a large bowl. Add all other ingredients and then mix until combined. Don’t over-beat. You can mix by hand or with a mixer (I dump everything in my Kitchenaid and beat on low speed for a minute or so). The mixture will be thick, and it will seem like the cake can never rise. Don’t panic about that. It will.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30 minutes.

Cake should spring back when pressed lightly in the centre, or a skewer inserted in middle of cake will come out clean with no mixture sticking to it. If not quite done cook a little more.

Cool in tin. Remove paper and place on platter.

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Method for Ganache:

Place cream in a saucepan and heat until warm (not boiling). You should be able to stick your finger into the cream without burning yourself. Turn off heat. Break or cut chocolate into small pieces. Add to warm cream and leave to sit for a minute or two until melting. Stir to combine and then add honey and stir once more. Leave ganache to cool until it is thick but still spreadable. You can speed this process by placing ganache in fridge for ten minutes.

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Spread ganache thickly over top of cake. Decorate with sprinkles or other adornments if desired.

Store covered in fridge or a cool place and eat within three days. This cake also freezes well.

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Black Sticky Rice Pudding Recipe – Gluten Free, Vegan, Yum!

black sticky rice

“I like rice. Rice is great if you’re hungry and want 2000 of something. ”
~ Mich Ehrenborg

 

This is truly one of those comfort-in-a-bowl dishes. Black sticky rice pudding is popular in Thailand and parts of Asia. It can be eaten warm or cold, and makes a delicious dessert, but it’s equally good for breakfast or as a snack.

To serve I use a splodge of coconut cream or coconut yogurt, some fresh seasonal fruit, and sometimes a handful of nuts or seeds as well. It’s endlessly versatile.

Black sticky rice pudding is a great recipe – gluten free, dairy free, vegan and full of fibre, anti-oxidants and nurture-y goodness.  Black rice is a source of amino acids, iron, zinc, copper and according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is great for supporting and nurturing the liver and kidneys, two organs/energy centres that get very depleted during times of stress, illness or depression.  It’s great food for people with burnout or adrenal fatigue as it is warm and easy to digest.  Coconut is also good for low thyroid function and boosting slow metabolisms.

I usually make double this quantity and keep some in the fridge.  I reheat in a saucepan with a little extra water, but if you are a microwave user, I guess you could go there…

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Ingredients

1 cup of black glutinous rice (you can find this in most Asian grocery stores or good supermarkets), 2.5 cups of water, 2 tablespoons palm sugar or soft brown sugar, salt, vanilla essence, 1 cup of coconut milk/cream

Note – If you are sugar-free use Natvia, stevia or your favourite sugar substitute.

Method

Soak the rice overnight (or at least 6 hours)  in the water in a ceramic or glass dish. It’s really important to soak your rice well, so please don’t skimp on that part of the cooking process. The water will go a nice shade of purple – try not to get it on you as it will stain some fabrics. Many people suggest you discard the soaking water, rinse and start over, but then you’d lose many of the minerals and anti-oxidants that have leached from the water overnight.

Transfer to a suitable saucepan and place on the heat.  Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally, and then reduce the heat to low, and cover.  Cook for a further half an hour to forty-five minutes, until the rice is soft and the mixture has thickened.  You need to play this by ear a bit, as you might need to add a little more water and cook longer. It all depends on the rice.

Add a pinch of salt and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of  coconut milk/cream, then sugar to taste. Add in a splash of vanilla essence too. I use about 2 heaped tablespoons of palm sugar, but if you prefer it sweeter, add more.  Stir occasionally over the next ten minutes until the rice is thick and pudding like. (I sometimes omit the coconut milk as a variation, which gives a nuttier flavour.)

Cool slightly and then serve in bowls with the remaining coconut milk/cream drizzled over the top.  Sliced banana or tropical fruits such as papaya or mango are also good.  In winter I may use berries.  Right now I am using a big dollop of coconut yoghurt (yoghurt made on coconut milk!) from a company called Co Yo, which is divine.

If I have made a less-sweet pudding, I will sometimes also add a sprinkle of palm sugar or a dash of maple syrup when serving.

Enjoy ♥

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sticky rice pudding

 

 

Mango-Misu – A Delicious and Easy Dessert!

mangomisu

“Take your pleasure seriously.” ~ Charles Eames

 

Every New Year’s Eve we have a small party at the farm, to celebrate life, the ending of the old year and the coming of the new AND the birthday of a dear friend.

What party of such calibre would be complete without dessert?

Mango Misu (or mangomisu) is a tropical twist on the classic Italian dessert Tiramisu. It’s light, luscious and totally delicious. As a further bonus it is one of those elegant and simple desserts that takes minutes to throw together, but that impresses everyone. Yay!

 

Ingredients

4 large mangoes, 6 to 8 small passionfruit or 4 large, Juice and zest of 1 lime, 1 cup of orange juice (Try to use freshly squeezed – it tastes so much better than bottled stuff!), 1.5 cups of thickened cream, 1.5 cups of ricotta cheese, 2 heaped tablespoons of icing sugar (confectioners sugar), 2 tablespoons Cointreau or Grand Marnier (optional but good), 250grams of savoiardi sponge finger biscuits (also known as Italian Ladyfinger biscuits)

Method

Find a shallow serving dish or a pretty bowl that will fit about 10 cups (2.5 liters)

Zest and then juice the lime.

Take the pulp from 1/2 the passionfruit.

Place the cream into a mixer with the icing sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Fold through the passionfruit pulp, ricotta cheese, lime zest and juice. Taste. If not sweet enough for your liking add a little more sugar. Set aside.

Cut up your mangoes and dice the flesh. If you want to be fancy cut one mango into slices to add a decorative twist to the top of your dessert.

Pour your orange juice into a shallow wide bowl, big enough to fit a sponge finger in. Add the alcohol. (It’s fine to omit the alcohol if you prefer alcohol-free!)

Now begin your layers.

Dip a sponge finger biscuit into the orange juice mixture and leave for just a moment. Remove and place into the dish. Complete a layer of biscuits and then add a layer of the cream and ricotta mixture.

Add a layer of chopped mango.

Repeat with layers of biscuit, cream and ricotta and mango until you reach the top of the dish. Spoon the pulp from the remaining passionfruit over the mango layer. Chill for 4 to 6 hours, or overnight if possible to really allow the flavours to amalgamate.

Serve and enjoy!

lime zest

passionfruit

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And how it looked when we ate it?

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It was GOOD.

So good…. 🙂

Why not whip one up this weekend? You’ll be glad you did!

mangomisu

Easy Mango Mousse #dairyfree #glutenfree #vegan #yum #paleo

vegan mango mousse

“Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair…”
~ Susan Polis Schutz

 

Mangoes are finally in season here in Australia. This is a super-easy and yummy mango mousse that tastes of summer and is something you can make all year round, even if you can’t access fresh mango. I’ve made this before with frozen mango and canned mango too. Perfect if it’s winter in your neck of the woods but you’re craving a little sunshine.

I’ve adjusted an old recipe of mine that called for cream and loads of sugar, and converted it to a recipe that is dairy-free and refined sugar-free. You can make this as a vegan or a paleo dessert – and it’s so healthy you could eat it for breakfast!

All you need to make this is a blender.

Ingredients:

270ml can of coconut cream – chilled (or use one cup), cheeks of three fresh mangoes, or the drained contents of an 800 gram can of mangoes or 2 cups of frozen mangoes, 1 tablespoon of agar agar (or use 1 tablespoon of gelatin if you aren’t vegan or vegetarian – this is a great option if you follow a paleo diet), 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of maple syrup or sweetener of your choice – natvia is a favourite of mine for sugar-free but coconut sugar also gives a great flavour (if you’re not vegan you could also use honey), a squeeze of lime juice or lemon juice if you have no limes!

Method:

Chill the can of coconut cream in the fridge for an hour or two or until when you shake it there is no liquid sloshing. If you’re in a cold climate it may already be like this at room temperature, but you need your coconut cream cold or it won’t whip.

Slice up your mango flesh or drain canned mangoes.

Soak your agar agar in 1/3 cup of water so it swells. Do the same if you are using gelatin. It’s fine to use the juice from canned mangoes or any squeezed pulp if you prefer.

mango1

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Place the chilled coconut cream (omit any liquid), mango flesh and agar agar mixture (or gelatin) into a blender or food processor. Whip on high speed until combined and fluffy. The time for this will vary depending on the speed of your motor, but really it should only take a minute or two.

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Now taste your mixture. Some mangoes are so sweet that they will need little extra sweetening. Add the quarter cup of sweetener (less if you feel it only needs a touch) and the squeeze of lime to freshen the flavour, pulse or blend quickly to combine and then taste again and add more sweetener if necessary until you are happy with the levels.

Pour into individual serving dishes or one larger bowl and refrigerate til set. You’ll need at least one hour for this.

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You can eat the mousse on its own, or garnish with more mango pieces. It’s also fabulous with a side of gelato or ice-cream, or a few gingersnaps.

I had a friend coming for dinner and I wanted to make pretty, so I chose a dollop of coconut yoghurt, some grated dark chocolate and a few fresh blueberries as my garnish. The nasturtium flowers made it feel completely celebratory.

The result?

Mango party for your mouth! <3 So very yum. 🙂

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Strawberry Coconut Chia Pudding #dairyfree #glutenfree

strawbs

“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.” ~ Erma Bombeck

 

I could call this delicious pudding ‘dessert’.

But I have also been known to call it ‘breakfast’…

This creamy strawberry pudding is a versatile and healthy option as a snack, a meal or as a sweet treat at the end of a more substantial savoury offering.

I’ll show you how to make a ‘fancy’ offering with a choc-dipped strawberry garnish, good if you are entertaining or celebrating. Of course you can always just make the pudding without the garnish. It will still taste scrumptious – it just won’t look so ‘party’!

The pudding is grain-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free and dairy free. It’s high in protein, good fats, vitamin c, and antioxidants.

It’s also dead easy to make. So easy that #EvenBenCouldMakeThis

(I thought if I hashtagged my easy recipes, I may fare better during my recovery after surgery. It’s the best plan I’ve come up with in ages!)

 

Ingredients to serve 4:

500ml (2 cups) of warmed coconut milk. (I used a 270ml can of coconut cream and then added warm water to make up the rest of the volume), 250 grams (1 cup) of fresh ripe strawberries, pinch of salt, 1/2 cup chia seeds, 1/4 cup maple syrup or up to 2 tablespoons of your favourite sweetener, 4 squares of dark Lindt chocolate 70% cocoa or higher, 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil, coconut yoghurt or coconut cream or ice-cream to serve.

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Method:

Place the coconut milk into a jug or mixing bowl. Sprinkle the chia seeds over the top and then stir in well.

Keep 2 strawberries out. Hull and puree the rest. If you don’t have a blender, chop finely and then squash through a sieve (or just chop finely if you can’t be bothered!).

Add the pinch of salt, strawberry puree and maple syrup to the chia mix. Stir well and allow to stand for ten minutes, stirring every so often to distribute the chia seeds which will begin to swell and thicken.

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If you need your pudding to look fancy, divide into four serving glasses or place in one pretty serving bowl. Otherwise place mixture into a plastic storage container with a lid.

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Melt the chocolate and coconut oil on low until liquid but not hot. Allow to cool slightly. Have the remaining strawberries and dip the cut side into the chocolate. Place on baking paper to cool and pop into fridge. If you have any chocolate left over feel free to give them a second coating once the first one has set.

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chia pudding

Drizzle a little of the remaining chocolate onto the puddings and then place in fridge to thicken and set.

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To serve, add a dollop of coconut yoghurt/cream/ice-cream on top of parfait and add chocolate-coated strawberry. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon or cocoa if you feel inclined.

Or, simply spoon some into a bowl and demolish!

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Coconut Rice Pudding with Banana

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“And to this end they built themselves a stupendous super-computer which was so amazingly intelligent that even before its data banks had been connected up it had started from I think therefore I am and got as far as deducing the existence of rice pudding and income tax before anyone managed to turn it off.”

~ Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

 

This is an easy and delicious pudding for people who need to eat gluten and dairy-free, but who still enjoy the occasional dessert. The pudding can also be easily made sugar-free too.

It is perfectly scrumptious served with just a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg on top, but fresh banana slices and a drizzle of maple syrup make it out-of-this-world good.

Ingredients

400g coconut cream, 600ml water, 1 scant cup of uncooked white rice if jasmine or basmati or 3/4 cup of shortgrain rice (shortgrain rice has more starch and thickens better), 2 tablespoons of sugar or sugar substitute – I use Natvia (or to taste), 1 teaspoon of vanilla, pinch of salt, nutmeg or cinnamon, fresh banana and maple syrup to serve.

*note – if using brown rice use 3/4 cup, extend cooking time, and you may need to add a little more liquid

Method:

Place the coconut cream, water, sugar or sugar substitute, pinch of salt, vanilla and rice in a heavy-bottomed saucepan on the stove, over medium heat. Stir occasionally as you bring the liquid to a strong simmer (lots of bubbles but not boiling), turn down to a low simmer (just a few bubbles on the surface) and then cook for twenty to thirty minutes on low heat or until the rice is soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed or reduced. Stir every so often so that the rice doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pot and burn.  Pudding should be thick and creamy.

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Place in bowls.

To serve plain, add just a sprinkle of nutmeg or cinnamon.

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For best results top with slices of fresh ripe banana and a little drizzle of maple syrup.

Can also be eaten cold. Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to three days.

This is so, so yummy and good.

Enjoy!

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