Healthy Gluten & Dairy Free Pecan Brownies
Who doesn’t love to eat sweets without feeling guilty? Well, I love to when I don’t have to think about calories so I often look for healthy recipes and of course, it has to taste delicious! Seeing my passion for cooking, my husband has started gifting me cook books and I absolutely love these gifts. One of the first books he gifted me was Rachel Allen’s “Cake” and it has everything you would ever need to make and bake stuff. I must have made dozens of desserts from that book and one of the favorites amongst friends & family are “Pecan Brownies”. This is one of the most delicious brownies and the best part is, that it is super healthy! I have tried it with walnuts as well, so you can try adding any nuts to add crunch to the brownies 🙂
- Dark Chocolate – 125 grams
- Soft Dark Brown Sugar – 225 grams
- Sunflower Oil – 125 ml (plus extra for greasing)
- Vanilla Extract – 1 teaspoon
- Eggs – 2, at room temperature
- Ground Almonds – 75 grams
- Rice Flour – 25 grams
- Salt – 1/2 teaspoon
- Baking Powder or gluten-free baking powder – 1/2 teaspoon
- Pecans (or walnuts or any other nuts) – 75 grams chopped plus 12 whole (shelled) pecans to decorate
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F). Grease a cake tin with sunflower oil and line it with a baking paper and keep aside.
- To melt the chocolate you can EITHER use the double boiler approach where you place chocolate drops or broken chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set it over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Leave just until melted, stirring occasionally. OR you can also use a microwave-safe bowl on medium power setting, heat the chocolate in shorter intervals and stir between each bout of heat.
- Add sugar, sunflower oil, vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time into the cooled melted chocolate. Whisk together well.
- Gently fold in the ground almonds, rice flour, salt, baking powder and chopped pecans.
- Pour the batter into the lined tin and bake for 45 minutes or until a knife or a skewer inserted through the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and let it cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn onto a wire rack and allow it to cool completely before cutting it.
Enjoy these brownies without feeling guilty 😉
Homemade Frangipane Cherry Tart
I started baking around a couple of years ago. I took it up as a challenge because I felt baking was one of my biggest culinary fears. I used to be fascinated seeing people baking all delicious desserts and I used to feel a bit inept. Another reason for not baking was me not having a sweet tooth. But my husband loves sweets and that really gave me an inspiration to try my hand at baking. I started with basic cakes and it was an absolute thrill to see myself baking them perfectly. Then I got introduced to tarts, courtesy MasterChef Australia and UK. They looked so picture perfect and delicious that I just had to try them. So, here is my first attempt at a tart and since I love almonds, I attempted making Frangipane Cherry Tart and it tasted D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S. I have already made it a few times now and it was a hit every time! Everyone loved eating it 🙂
For Frangipane Tart Filling
- Unsalted Butter, softened – 150 grams
- Caster Sugar – 100 grams
- Pure Vanilla Extract – 1 teaspoon
- Large Eggs – 2 at room temperature
- Ground Almonds – 200 grams
- Plain Flour – 85 grams
- Cherries, pitted – 400 grams
- Plain Flour – 160 grams
- Icing Sugar – 40 grams
- Ground Almonds – 25 grams
- Butter, chilles and chopped into cubes – 125 grams
- Egg yolk – 1
Steps for making Pastry
- Mix flour, icing sugar, ground almonds and chilled butter cubes in a food processor until it appears like fine breadcrumbs. It is important to use cold butter or else you won’t get a breadcrumb texture.
- Now add the egg yolk and mix it until dough just comes together.
- You can either add a little flour in the food processor and can knead until smooth or you can take it out on a lightly-floured surface and knead by your hands until smooth.
- Shape the kneaded dough int a flat-ish disc and wrap it with clingfilm refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees C (180 degrees C fan-forced). Grease a 3cm-deep, 24cm (base) round, fluted loose-based flan tin.
- You can also ready-made pastry (either a pastry block or a pre-rolled pastry sheet)
- Roll out pastry between 2 sheets of baking powder or on a flour-dusted work top to form a 32cm circle. Line the base and side of the prepared tin with pastry. Trim pastry. Trim excess. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Steps for baking the pastry
- Place tin on a baking tray. Line pastry with baking paper and fill it with ceramic baking beans/balls or uncooked rice. Bake for 10 minutes. This technique is called Blind-baking.
- Now remove weights or rice and paper. Bake for 10 minutes or until light golden. Cool. Be careful with the pastry once it has been cooled. Shortcrust pastry tends to be crumbly and anything other than gentle handling is likely to damage the pastry case that we have created thus far.
Steps for Frangipane Tart Filling and baking
- Reduce the oven temperature to 160 degrees C (140 degrees C fan-forced).
- Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
- Add the grounds almonds. Beat until just combined. Stir in the flour and mix well.
- Spread mixture into the pastry case which you have just cooled. Arrange cherries over mixture.
- Bake the tart for 40 minutes or until golden and firm. Let it cool in the tin.
- Dust with icing sugar and your Frangipane Cherry Tart is ready to serve 🙂
Do share the results of your attempts 🙂
Limoncello Trifle – Little bit of Italy & a little bit of England :)
I had always dreamt of visiting Italy since I was a little kid. I did not know anything about Italy at that time but the country fascinated me and the thought of going there for a vacation seemed like fun. I finally got a chance to visit Italy in Dec 2011 and it was one of the most cherished vacations ever! 6 days passed in a flash. There are so many beautiful memories I have; food, places, people, nature, architecture, scenic beauty… Needless to say, the food I ate there was the most authentic Italian cuisine that I have ever tasted. When I returned, I just had to try to recreate the Italian taste. There was a bottle of Limoncello that I had bought from my trip. Since I knew that Limoncello was a uniquely Italian Liqueur, I decided to incorporate it in a dessert. Luckily, I came across Jamie’s recipes about a trifle which had limoncello and bingo! So, here is a fusion of Italy and England for you 🙂
- Oranges – 3
- Limoncello -75 ml
- Sponge Fingers – 100 grams
- Mascarpone – 250 grams
- Icing Sugar – 2 tablespoons + extra for dusting
- Semi-skimmed Milk – 100 ml
- Lemon – 1
- Pure Vanilla Extract/paste – 1 teaspoon
- Fresh Raspberries – 250 grams
- 1 bar of good quality dark chocolate (100% cocoa) for grating
- Take a dish (preferably flat) and squeeze the juice of 3 oranges. Add the Limoncello and mix well.
- Mix mascarpone, milk, vanilla extract and icing sugar in a separate bowl. Grate the zest of a lemon and squeeze half of its juice. Mix well with a spatula or an electric whisk. Please do not over whisk to avoid any chance of splitting the mascarpone cheese.
- Dip the sponge fingers in the orange + limoncello mixture, a couple of seconds on each side and start layering your bowl with them.
- Once one layer is completed, cover it with the mascarpone batter. Grate some dark chocolate over this layer along with some raspberries.
- Repeat a layer of sponge fingers dipped in orange + limoncello. And cover the sponge fingers with the remaining mascarpone batter.
- Grate the remaining dark chocolate on the top along with the remaining raspberries and keep it in the fridge overnight to set.
- Just before serving, sprinkle the icing sugar and serve.
This is a perfect summer dessert which makes my heart happy and joyous 🙂 🙂
Hope you and your guests love this dessert.
Do share your experience 🙂
Orange Chantilly Cream filled Golden Profiteroles with Dark Chocolate Sauce
In the almost 3 years that I have lived in the UK, I had never tried Profiteroles until this Christmas when I was on a vacation in Cornwall with my husband and brother. These guys picked up Profiteroles from the local store and oh boy, did I love them! I had not tasted anything quite as delicious and soft in a long, long time. From the moment I tasted them, I knew I had to make them myself. So when I searched for a suitable recipe, I was utterly surprised to know that they were fairly simple to make and tasted absolutely divine.
For the Choux Pastry
- Plain Flour – 115 gms
- Cold Water – 200 ml
- Caster Sugar – 4 teaspoons
- Unsalted Butter – 85gms, plus extra for greasing
- Salt – 1/4 teaspoon
- Large Eggs, beaten – 3
For Cream Filling
- Double Cream – 300 ml
- 1 Orange Zest
- Caster Sugar – 2 tablespoons
- Vanilla Extract – 1 teaspoon
For Chocolate Sauce
- Good quality Dark Chocolate (preferably with 70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces – 100gms
- Water – 80 ml
- Milk – 1/2 to 1 cup
- Caster Sugar – 80gms
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°c/400°F/Gas 6. Place a small roasting tin in the bottom of the over to heat.
- For the Choux Pastry, place the water, sugar and butter into a large saucepan. Heat gently until the butter is melted.
- Turn up the heat, then quickly pour in the flour and salt all in one go.
- Remove from the heat and beat the mixture vigorously until a smooth paste is formed. Once the mixture comes away from the side of the pan, transfer to a large bowl and leave to cook for 10-15 minutes.
- Beat in the eggs, a little at a time, until the mixture is smooth and glossy and has a soft dropping consistency.
- Lightly grease a large baking sheet. Using a piping bag and plain 1cm/½in nozzle, pipe the mixture into small balls in lines across the baking sheet.
- Gently rub the top of each ball with a wet finger – this helps to make a crisper top.
- Place the baking sheet into the oven. Pour half cup of water in the roasting tin which we have already kept to heat. This helps to create more steam in the oven and make the pastry rise better.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden-brown. If the profiteroles are too pale, they will become soggy when cool.
- Remove from the oven and turn the oven off. Prick the base of each profiteroles with a skewer.
- Place back onto the baking sheet with the hole in the base facing upwards and return to the oven for 5-7 minutes. The warm air from the oven helps to dry out the middle of the profiteroles.
- For filling, lightly whip the cream with the orange zest, sugar and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. When the profiteroles are cold, use a piping bag to pipe the cream into the Profiteroles.
- For Chocolate Sauce, place the water and sugar into a small saucepan and bring to the boil to make a syrup.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and place the chocolate into a heatproof bowl set over the pan. Heat, stirring occasionally, until melted.
- Take the pan off the heat, pur the syrup mixture and milk into the chocolate and stir until smooth and well combined. Note: You can keep the sauce refrigerated for later use. Add a little milk and heat the sauce in the microwave for 10 seconds and you are good to go 🙂
- To serve, place cream-filled profiteroles into a large serving dish and pour the chocolate sauce over the arranged profiteroles. You can serve it hot or cold 🙂
I hope you like them the way I did!
Your feedback is always welcome 🙂
Tiramisù – Pick-me-up
Tiramisù is one of the first desserts that I tried my hand at. I have never had a sweet tooth, in fact there was a time when I used to hate anything sweet. But Tiramisù which literally translates to “pick-me-up“, made me fall in love with desserts so much that I decided to wear the apron and go about making it at home. To my utter surprise, it was fairly simple and I must have made it at least a dozen times. And the even bigger surprise was that everyone who tasted it seemed to love it. I use the following recipe which is a result of lot of tweaks and adjustments over time and I hope you like the result.
– 3 large eggs
– 250ml Marsala Wine (you can decrease or increase the amount of wine depending on your preference. You can also use any other dessert wine if you want but Marsala and Tiramisù are best friends)
– 250gms Mascarpone Cheese (you can use more if you want to make the layers richer)
– 8-9 teaspoons instant coffee granules (you can also use instant espresso granules to make it stronger/bitter)
– 3 tablespoons golden caster sugar (you can change it depending on the sweetness you would prefer)
– Sponge fingers/Savoiardi biscuits to cover the bowl at least twice. Preferred shape of the bowl is rectangular with a good depth.
– Cocoa Powder for dusting
– 4 pieces of grated 70% Dark Chocolate.
- Boil 150ml of water and add the coffee in it. Cool it down and add 200ml of your choice of wine as mentioned above.
- Separate egg whites and yolks, making sure that the bowl in which you will whisk the egg whites is absolutely clean and the whites do not have any traces of the yolk. Any impurities in the egg whites will cause problems while whisking.
- Add the caster sugar in the yolks and beat it till the mixture is smooth and glossy.
- Add the Mascarpone cheese and remaining (50ml) wine in the yolk and beat it until its smooth.
- Beat the egg whites to form soft peaks and fold it gently into the Mascarpone cheese batter.
- Dip the sponge fingers in the coffee+wine mixture, a couple of seconds on each side and start layering your bowl with them.
- Once one layer is completed, cover it with the cheese+egg white batter. Grate some dark chocolate over this layer
- Repeat a layer of sponge fingers dipped in coffee+wine. And cover the sponger fingers with the remaining cheese+egg white batter.
- Grate the remaining dark chocolate on the top and keep it in the fridge overnight to set.
- Just before serving, sprinkle the cocoa powder.
I hope you like the flavors and enjoy making it as much as you will love eating it. I would be happy if you leave your feedback/suggestions.