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 🙂
Tilgul Barfi on the occasion of Makar Sankranti
Makar Sankranti is the day when, according to Hindu astronomy, the sun enters the rashi (zodiac) of Makara (Capricorn). This happens in the English month of January, on the 14th to be exact, when the sun passes through the winter solstice, from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn. Makar Sankranti is considered very auspicious as it signifies a new beginning. It is also known as Uttarayan. In the coastal regions, it is a harvest festival.
To celebrate Makar Sankranti, it is a ritual to make and distribute Til-gul (sesame seed and jaggery) Barfi which signifies the feelings of brotherhood and harmony. Not to offend anyone but I generally don’t follow (read believe) any of such rituals which are being followed but as a foodie, I love to try out anything new. So last year around the same time, I tried my mother-in-law’s recipe (with the little help of husband) to make Tilgul Barfi and to my utter surprise, I simply loved it. And I fell in love with the recipe because it is so simple. Please note that the texture of the Barfi is not soft, it is more like Chikki.
- Sesame Seeds or Til (white) – 300gms
- Jaggery (gur), grated – 300gms
- Ghee – 3 1/2tablespoons
- Cashewnuts, roughly chopped – 10/15
- Almonds, roughly chopped – 10/15
- Raisins – 10/15
- Pistachio, roughly chopped – 10/15
- Green cardamom powder – 1/2 teaspoon
- Salt – 1/4 teaspoon
- Roast the Sesame Seeds (til) in a non-stick pan on a medium heat until they are lightly brown and crispy.
- Remove Sesame Seeds from the heat and mix in cashewnuts, almonds, raisins, pistachio, salt and green cardamom powder. Mix them uniformly.
- Prepare a flat plate by greasing it with half teaspoon melted ghee. Keep aside for later.
- Heat 3 tablespoons ghee in a deep non-stick pan. Add Jaggery and mix well until it is melted completely.
- Put the heat to medium and keep stirring the melted jaggery. To check if it ready for barfi, take cold water in a bowl and drop a few drops of melted jaggery in the water. It should solidify and when bitten it should be crunchy, not sticky. Keep stirring continuously until you have reached this stage, not letting the jaggery burn or catch the bottom of the pan.
- Take the melted jaggery off the heat and add the sesame-dry fruits mixture to it. Combine the mixture, please note the addition of sesame seed mixture brings the temperature of the melted jaggery very fast so you have to work very quickly in combining the dry ingredients into the melted jaggery.
- Immediately, empty the mixture onto the greased plate and working fast flatten the mixture onto the plate using the back of a flat bottom bowl. Please note that mixture should be flattened out into a roughly uniform thickness.
- Once done, while the flattened mixture is still warm, use a pizza cutter or a knife to mark it into any shapes of your liking so that they can be easily broken into Barfis when the mixture is cool and hardened. Please refer the above picture for the square shapes I cut.
- Leave the mixture for at least a couple hours to let the Barfis solidify.
- Break the Barfi into the shapes you laid out earlier.
Wish you all a very Happy Sankranti 🙂 🙂