Chocolate Cherry Friands (gluten free)

Friands, originating in France, are typically an oval shaped, small cake, made with almond meal, butter, egg whites and powdered (we know it as icing) sugar. 

According to Wikipedia, the word Friand means “dainty, or a gourmet who delights in delicate tastes.”

At our cocktail-party style wedding reception, trays and trays of friands were handed out as part of the dessert. I have always had a soft spot for them and would order one over a muffin or large slice of cake any day of the week. 

Made well, they should be moist and springy and not too sweet. 

A standard Friand recipe will have only a small amount of flour added to the almond meal, so substituting gluten-free plain flour works beautifully in a friand every time. 

Black Forest or Cherry Ripe lovers, this recipe is for you. The dark chocolate, coconut and dried sour cherries make this recipe a little different to the standard berry or citrus friand you always find in the shops. 

For serious chocoholics, I would add an extra 100 grams of dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks and fold it through with the cherries at the end. 

Chocolate Cherry Friands
Serves 12
A moist chocolate friand with coconut and dried sour cherries.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 100 grams dark chocolate, chopped (plus 100 grams extra if you want chunks through it)
  2. 175 grams unsalted butter, chopped
  3. 1 cup almond meal
  4. 6 egg whites
  5. 1 cup powdered (icing) sugar
  6. 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  7. 1/2 cup dried sour cherries (dried cranberries would work too if you can't find them)
  8. 1/2 cup plain flour or gluten-free plain flour
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees celsuis.
  2. Place butter and 100 grams of chocolate in a heat proof bowl and melt in microwave for 1 minute. Remove, stir, and if needed, put back in microwave in 20 second bursts until all melted. Set aside.
  3. Lightly whisk egg whites with a hand whisk till it's a little bubbly, then add chocolate mixture and stir till combined.
  4. Add all other ingredients, except cherries (and extra chocolate if using) and stir till thoroughly combined.
  5. Lightly fold in cherries.
  6. Spoon mixture into lightly greased friand tins, filling 3/4 full.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until risen and it springs back when lightly touched.
  8. Leave to cool in tin for a few minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Notes
  1. These will keep for 3 days in an airtight container.
  2. After day 1, they are best enjoyed after being slightly refreshed in the microwave for 15 seconds or so.
cook fast eat slow http://www.cookfasteatslow.com/

The Very Muddy Mud Cake

It was probably 1997 when I first came across this recipe, while I was studying in the library of my university.  I remember scrawling it on a piece of scrap paper… the only problem is, I didn’t take down the source.

Little did I know this would become the one and only mud cake I would bake from then on.

It was the cake I made for our engagement party, many years ago now. It looked so pretty, 2 tiered and decorated with crystallised pansies from my parents garden.

It has been many birthday cakes, a few wedding cakes and ‘just because’ cakes over the years since.

This cake, that rivals any mud cake you will buy, is made entirely in a saucepan, with a spoon and a whisk.

Anyone can make this cake, but I would stress two important things – don’t skimp on the 20ml of whisky or brandy. It really does bring a ‘depth of flavour’ that it needs. If you don’t have that at home, or can’t get your hands on a tiny bottle for cooking with, use 20ml of an espresso shot instead.

And the most important thing of all for a cake like this is please use GOOD quality dark chocolate. This is not a time for No Name
Compound Chocolate (I would actually argue there is never a time for compound chocolate, but that’s for a whole other blog post!)

Trust me, you can tell the difference.

So, keep your eye out for the next chocolate block sale, and pop some in the pantry to give this cake a go.

You’ll thank me later.

The Ganache recipe I use for this cake is a Donna Hay recipe, from her Chocolate cookbook.

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The Very Muddy Mud Cake

  • Prep Time: 25m
  • Cook Time: 45m
  • Total Time: 1h 10m

Ingredients

  • 250 grams unsalted butter
  • 250 grams good quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup castor sugar
  • 20 milliliters brandy or whisky
  • 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa, sifted
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Chocolate Ganache
  • 1 1/2 cups pouring cream
  • 340 grams good quality dark chocolate

Method

  1. Melt butter over a medium heat in a medium sized saucepan.
  2. Add chopped chocolate, sugar, whisky and 1 1/2 cups water.
  3. Stir over low heat until the chocolate is melted and sugar has dissolved.
  4. Add flour and cocoa into warm chocolate mixture.
  5. Add eggs and vanilla, and using a hand balloon whisk, whisk until combined. It will be thick and glossy.
  6. Pour mixture into a greased and lined 20cm round cake tin.
  7. Bake at 150 degrees celsius for 45 minutes. The cake may crack slightly on top, that's okay. When you press lightly on the top the cake it should spring back a little and feel firm. You want it to be cooked but still have moist crumbs clinging to a cake tester. If you need to cook it a little longer, cover it with foil and keep checking every 5-10 minutes.
  8. Leave to cool in tin for 10 minutes then turn onto a wire rack to cool.
  9. When it's completely cold, either dust with icing sugar or top with a Chocolate Gananche.
  10. For the Chocolate Ganache, heat the cream in a saucepan over low to medium heat and bring to the boil.
  11. Remove from the heat and add the finely chopped chocolate.
  12. Leave to sit for a minute, then stir until the chocolate has melted and it's glossy and smooth.
  13. Set aside to cool at room temperature, where it will thicken and turn from a pourable consistency to a spreadable one. If you are pressed for time, you can put it in the fridge, but just check on it, as it will go hard if you leave it in the fridge too long.
  14. When it's the desired consistency, using a palette knife, spread the ganache evenly all over the cake.
  15. This cake freezes really well, and will also last for a week in an airtight container in the fridge. As with most chocolate cakes, it's best eaten at room temperature, or if it's a few days old, reheat each slice in the microwave slightly before serving.

Banana Bread – two ways

Bananas have some great qualities –  they are high in Potassium, which helps regulate normal blood pressure, Magnesium for our muscles, Fibre, Vitamin C and Vitamin B6, which help to make red blood cells and antibodies to help us fight infections. Any of the B vitamins are known as ‘water soluble’ which means we don’t store them in our bodies and so we must keep replenishing them from our diet each day. Bananas are also a source of carbohydrates. If you are trying to manage Diabetes, you do have to take into consideration the impact they may have on your blood sugar levels.

Each time a banana goes bad in the fruit bowl or I find one a little squished and uneaten in a lunch box, it’s thrown in the freezer.

Once there is a small stash and I am craving my freezer space back, Banana Bread is made. It’s perfect straight out of the oven for afternoon tea or sliced, wrapped and frozen for school lunch boxes.

The following recipes are two of my favourites. Truth be told, I have many more (Sticky Date & Banana, Banana & Choc Chip etc), but I thought I would start with these two. They are quite different, but loved nonetheless.

The Banana & Raspberry Bread can be made by anyone. It’s a ‘throw it all in the bowl and stir’ batter and it never fails. Apart from being Dairy free, it’s full of all the normal things that make Banana Bread look and taste good – fat and sugar.

The Banana & Coconut Bread, from one of my favourite Chef’s, Teresa Cutter (aka The Healthy Chef), is Gluten free, Dairy Free, Grain Free and Refined sugar free. The addition of Coconut flour adds great soluble fibre and the Chia Seeds keep the loaf moist and add Omega 3’s, which are needed by the brain to function properly.

I am making more and more of this type for our every day eating and saving the Banana & Raspberry Bread for those special days.

Banana & Raspberry Bread

Makes 1 loaf

IMG_4786

Ingredients

1 3/4 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon bi-carb soda
3/4 cup castor sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed banana (approx 3 large size bananas)
1/2 cup rice bran oil
1/3 cup water
1 cup raspberries (if using frozen, don’t defrost first and make sure they are from Australia or Europe!)

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees celsius (150 fan forced)

Combine everything, except the raspberries, in a bowl and mix till combined and smooth. Gently stir in raspberries.

Pour into a well greased and lined loaf tin and bake for approx 1 hour. If it starts to brown quickly, cover it in foil and continue cooking. Cool in tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Banana & Coconut Bread 

Recipe from Teressa Cutter, thehealthychef.com

Makes 1 loaf

IMG_4394

Ingredients

400gm over ripe bananas, (approx 4 medium size bananas)

6 eggs

4 fresh pitted dates

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

60ml of coconut oil

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/4 cup chia seeds

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees celsius (150 fan forced)

Combine bananas, eggs, dates, vanilla, oil, cinnamon and baking powder in a food processor and blend till smooth.

Add the coconut flour and chia seeds, mix through and then sit for 15 minutes to allow the chia seeds and coconut flour to expand.

Pour into a greased and lined loaf tin and bake for 50-55 minutes. (You can decorate the top of the loaf with flaked coconut if you like at this stage). Cover with foil if browning too quickly.

Cool in tin for 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack.

This loaf is best stored in the fridge and slightly heated or toasted before serving (I love to top it with ricotta and honey) It freezes well too.

 

Simple Fresh Apricot Cake

“Let’s eat cake…….just not every day” is a pretty good motto to live by I think. We need ‘special foods’, ‘sometimes foods’ and ‘celebration foods’ and nothing says celebration more than cake!

This recipe is celebrating the summer that we have enjoyed and what better way to farewell the season than by using the last of the fresh summer apricots?

This basic butter cake dotted with golden apricots is made entirely in a food processor. So for all of you ‘I don’t bake’ people reading this, if you have time this weekend, I encourage you to give it a go!

The recipe is from one of my favourite Australian cooks and cookbook authors, Belinda Jeffery. Her cookbook “Desserts” is one I reference and cook from often.

Ingredients

8 medium sized apricots, washed and cut into wedges

150gm castor sugar, plus 2 1/2 tablepsoons

150gm self raising flour

50gm almond meal

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs

160gm unsalted butter, softened or at room temp, cut into chunks

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk

icing sugar for dusting

Serve with vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream.

Method

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius (or 160 degrees for a fan forced oven)

Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper.

Gently mix the apricots with 2 1/2 tablespoons of the castor sugar in a bowl and set aside.

Place the flour, almond meal and baking powder in a large food processor and whiz for 10 seconds. Tip into a bowl and set aside.

Now put the eggs and remaining castor sugar (150gm) into the food processor and whiz for 1 minute. Add the butter, whiz for 40 seconds, scraping down the side of the bowl occasionally. NOTE – it will look curdled at this stage, but that’s okay!

Add the lemon zest and vanilla and whiz briefly.

Tip the flour mixture back into the food processor, and pulse together till it’s all combined. Add the milk and whiz until you have a creamy smooth batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and using a slotted spoon, take the apricots out of their bowl and scatter them over the top of the cake.

Bake the cake for approximately 1 hour. The fruit will sink into the cake as it bakes. Test it with a skewer to make sure it’s cooked in the middle. The skewer should come out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack.

Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice-cream or cream.