comments 2

Tomato, Roast Capsicum + Quinoa Soup

tomato quinoa soup

Why did I decide to start a blog? Perhaps it is time to elaborate a little..

I used to co-own a little coffee shop with a talented (and highly motivated!) lady, my best friend, Kate Berry. It is a time in my life that I will forever look back on with pride and delight. It was an accomplishment I thought I would never be able to achieve, and probably would never have, if it weren’t for the optimism and motivation of my friend Kate. Not that I was incapable, but let me tell you, it is amazing how much your own negativity and pessimism can stop you from doing the things you want in life.

Switch Board, our little cafe, was tiny. In fact I find it very hard to believe that there would be a smaller cafe anywhere in the whole world. There was a rumour going around that the space was formed from an old broom closet beneath a staircase. This is untrue, but it gives you an indication of just how small the shop actually was.

Alas, our menu was not big. We were impelled to form a menu of the upmost quality. Better to have a handful of amazing meals on offer, than a large menu full of hits and misses. Besides, with the thousands of other cafes in town, we needed to give our customers a reason to return to ours.

We needed to be creative and super efficient.

Customers and passers by would marvel at the food we could create under such conditions.

We had a little cult following, and amongst them, made ourselves some lifelong friends.

When we sold a couple of years later, one particular customer, who had become a dear friend of mine, was very saddened. She lamented the loss of her favourite lunches. The ‘Heart Breaker’ was definitely the most revered, but was dead simple to prepare once you knew how. In fact, everything on our menu had to be very user friendly – we only had a sandwich press, a slow cooker, and an electric pan!

To quell her anxiety, I offered to write all the (vegetarian) recipes down for her. You didn’t need to be savvy in the kitchen, they really were so basic - The Heart Breaker, Buffalo Mozzarella and Chilli Bruchetta, Soft-Boiled Eggs with Miso Soldiers, Housemade Natural Muesli, there were quite a few pages already. At my new job, I was required to make a soup special each week, so a few soups got added to the list. It was like a little handwritten zine. And because I am a total perfectionist, as described in my last post, I had to make this booklet a complete work of art. I began to illustrate each recipe and even gave the ‘zine’ a name; Eat This!

tomato quinoa soup prep

I have always had my friends and family members hound me for recipes. Can I have that recipe for that soup you made that time? Or, remember that dessert you brought to my house, could you give me the recipe for that one please? I noticed that there were a number of recurrent ones mentioned. Some of them were in my little booklet! Perhaps I could print a few copies and give them to my friends? Subsequently, I was encouraged to take the project a little more seriously. My friends loved my little zine and were certain it would be popular, so I was convinced to try to get a publisher on board. This has turned out to be a rather laborious and soul destroying task!

I knew the process could take half a lifetime. I thought the idea of starting a blog as a little database for my recipes could work in the interim, whilst I was chipping away at my book. At least that way I could point my friends in that direction when they needed a recipe.

After being rejected from a publisher for being too niche, and hearing not a word from the other two I sent my draft to, I decided to abandon the idea of a book  and began to concentrate more on this blog instead. I deliberated a while, and concluded perhaps it is a wiser idea to not allow pessimism and negativity stand in the way of a potential accomplishment. It may very well turn out to be an achievement that I’ll be proud to look back on, much like Switch Board. This time I do not have a business partner, all the motivation and optimism required to see the project through has to come from within me.

What a challenge – talk about personal growth!

The title of my blog, Eat This My Friend, is taken from the illustrated cookbook I am still working on. I am halfway through.

This next recipe is from my book, which I might even finish one day.

Wish me luck!

In the meantime, I’ll be here. X

Tomato quinoa soup bowls

Tomato, Roast Capsicum + Quinoa Soup

- 1 red onion, diced
– big glug of olive oil
– 2 red capsicums
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 bottle of tomato passata
– 1/2 cup quinoa, thoroughly rinsed and drained (red looks the prettiest)
– 1 large handful basil leaves, roughly chopped

- salt and pepper

optional; freshly grated parmigiano reggiano

Preheat your oven to 220 degrees C.

Place the capsicum on a sheet of foil and place in the oven. Leave for 20 mins to half an hour, until the skin has blackened in patches. Remove from oven and leave to cool. Once cooled, remove the core, seeds and skin, and roughly chop, relatively small. Set aside.

While the capsicum in roasting, pop a large pot over medium heat and fry the onion with some olive oil and a pinch of salt. When translucent, add the garlic and fry again briefly for a minute. Add the bottle of passata, fill the empty bottle with water and add this too, along with a teaspoon of salt. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for a while, say 20 minutes or so.

Add the rinsed and drained quinoa and chopped roasted capsicum. Cook for a further 15 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked through. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary. Sometimes I add a splash of balsamic for extra depth of flavour, or a spoonful of honey to sweeten things up a bit.

Stir through the chopped basil and ladle into bowls.

Like most soups, it is even better the next day.

Enough for 4-6 serves

comments 11

Somehow I Became Obsessed With Food

sandwich covershot

Food is an enormous part of my identity.

In fact, if a friend was attempting to describe me to another, I am fairly certain it would be something along the lines of this: short girl, talks a lot, obsessed with food. Yep, that’s me.

Surprisingly it has not always been this way. I mean, I have always been a shorty, and have always been a talker, but it wasn’t until much later that I became interested in food. No part of my  childhood was spent in the kitchen. I was never really that interested in eating, so it is unsurprising I didn’t ever cook. No sweet childhood memories of making pancakes, batches of cookies, dinner for the family.

Nothing.

boil eggsmint

I have always had a tendency to get a little bit obsessive though. Not the check-the-doorknobs-twice-before-opening  kind of way, just a habit of becoming overly zealous with certain things.

As a teen I was completely and utterly obsessed with Björk. There may be a handful of readers who knew me all the way back then. I bet you are having a little chuckle to yourself. It was ridiculous! Not that I was obsessed with her in particular, but it was my level of obsession that was so absurd. It went well beyond just listening to her music on repeat. I spend all of my spare time hunting down bootleg releases, I dressed like her, did my hair like her, tried to sing like her, I made an enormous shrine with posters of her on my wall (that was particularly psychotic). I pretty much wanted to be her. I suppose I was rather unhappy with just being me.

I also went through a stage of being fanatical about partying. Living off a diet of cigarettes, booze and the like, this obsession was rather destructive - I did it to the degree where it became quite detrimental to my health. I won’t delve too much into that world, but again, I was pretty unhappy being me.

My very first memory in the kitchen slots smack bang in the middle of this period. Most likely I was under the influence, and listening to Iceland’s most famous export. I was quite old to be having a first cooking experience, about nineteen. I wasn’t really eating, apart from the midnight cravings for chicken rolls at 7eleven (night after night, more obsessive behaviour). A friend came over to my house with a batch of eggs – I wish I could remember his name. He showed me how to fry them. Such was the level of my inability, I needed someone to show me how to fry eggs.

I ate 4 fried eggs everyday.

For months on end.

egg shell

And there you have it, the origin of my food craze, not driven from my stomach or taste buds, but from a long history of fanatical behaviour. Food was just the next obsession. It’s quite funny looking back.

Shortly after this time I was offered a job in a pub kitchen, where a friend of mine was the chef. I distinctly remember my first day, being asked to slice up a box of mushrooms. I honestly had no idea (only a few months earlier I was shown how to fry a bloody egg!). The chef literally had to talk me through the process, step-by-step; get a wet chux underneath the chopping board, hold the knife, secure the mushroom ensuring your fingertips are tucked in, slide knife down the mushroom, etc. It took me hours. They were very patient with me.

I loved it. It was a new art I was aspiring to perfect. I was in charge of chips and salads. I took great delight in slicing and dicing the endless containers of vegetables, as thinly and as uniform as possible. For me, assembling the salad for each order was like preparing a little work of art. I took my job very seriously. And without any thought for taste, I absolutely loved working with food. I liked making it look pretty.

It was a peculiar relationship to have with food, so fervent about it’s presentation yet not a single care for it’s flavour. It carried on like this for quite a while.

Around the same time, my then boyfriend and I had a weekend ritual. Sunday Eggs and Bacon, at the local cafe.

The perfectionist that I was, I became exceeding frustrated at the lack of consistency with my meal from week to week. So much so, I concluded that I was the only person capable of preparing my breakfast exactly the way I liked it. It was the first time I had ever made the connection between me cooking and me eating. It was the beginning of my love affair, a passion that is still so strong.

kitchen prep

Why am I sharing all this with you? I’m not even sure. My recipe this week is for my favourite Egg and Caper Sandwich. It got me thinking about how fussy I am with eggs, and how I came to be this way. What a funny journey, from that incapable nineteen year old who first learnt to fry an egg, to this day, fifteen years later, making my favourite egg sandwiches for my son’s birthday picnic.

The recipe comes from a dear friend, who is the most talented chef I have ever known. For Angela, it just an egg sandwich. For me, it is so much more than that – because they are perfect.

And you now know, perfection means a great deal to me.

egg and caper mayo bowl

Egg + Caper Sandwiches

- 4 eggs
- handful of mint leaves, chopped
- 1/8 cup baby capers, rinsed and drained
- couple of big pinches of salt
- zest from 1 lemon

- 1/3 of your favourite mayonnaise (I prefer to make my own)

- 8 slices of fresh sourdough bread

Start by boiling your eggs. Believe me, I have tried countless methods of boiling eggs, this one is by far the best.

In a saucepan, submerge your eggs with cold water. Place on high heat and bring to the boil. Once the water comes to the boil, remove from heat and place a lid on the pot. Leave to sit for 7 minutes. Drain and place in an ice bath to cool immediately (you don’t want your eggs to keep cooking!).

Once cooled, peel the eggs and roughly slice. Set aside in a bowl.

Add the capers, chopped mint, lemon zest and the mayo to the bowl. You might need more or less of the mayo, depending on it’s consistency, so I suggest you add only half first, mix all the ingredients, and gradually add more mayo if you need to. You want the egg mix to be wet, but not too sloppy.

Taste for seasoning. This is important. Add salt, and don’t be too skimpy.

Place your bread out on the counter and butter the tops and bottoms. Spoon on a few tablespoons of the egg mixture into the centre of each bottom slice, spread out gently with the back of the spoon.

Place the lids on top and cut in half.

Sometimes I add lettuce, when I am in the mood.

Enough for 4 large sandwiches. 

 

 

 

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Strawberry Buttermilk Pancakes

pancakes covershot3

10 Reasons To Love Pancakes - 

1. They are pretty much the fastest ‘treat’ you can whip up.

2. I always have the necessary ingredients in my fridge and pantry.

3. You can utilise whichever fruit you have in the fruit bowl.

4. If you have no fruit, you can use jam.

5. If you have no jam, you can sprinkle on some sugar and squeeze on some fresh lemon juice.

6. Pancakes have much less sugar in them than cakes, and can actually be quite nutritious.

7. They store well.

8. They make for excellent lunchbox snacks.

9. They are absolutely delicious.

10. They are dead easy.

pancake prep 2 pancake mix

This particular pancake variety is one I make often, especially at this time of the year, when strawberries are dirt cheap.

During the winter I use frozen blueberries instead – they are almost as good.

I like to eat them straight off the grill with butter and honey. The following day I just have them cold and plain with my morning coffee. They are so good! And the little one certainly appreciates them in his school lunchbox.

I don’t make them super large, the smaller they are, the easier they are to flip.

If they have fruit in them I store them in the fridge, the plain ones are fine at room temperature. Alternatively only cook as many as you need and keep the unused pancake batter in the fridge, ready for the next day. Although I never do this.

This is an excellent recipe to get the kids involved with. Young ones love helping out, older ones can manage the whole thing by themselves ( I am sure many of you will remember cooking pancakes as a big kid!).

pancake strawberry prep

Wholemeal Strawberry Buttermilk Pancakes

- 1 cup Plain Flour
- 1 cup Plain Wholemeal Flour
- 3 Tbsp Honey
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 2 cups Buttermilk
- 1/4 cup Natural Yogurt (full fat)
- 2 Eggs
- 1 cup Chopped Fresh Strawberries

- Butter or Coconut Oil for frying

Place the flours, raising agents and salt in a mixing bowl. Aerate with a whisk.

Make a well in the centre, crack two eggs in, add the buttermilk, yoghurt and honey and start whisking from the centre outward – this will prevent the batter from going lumpy.

Once you have a smooth batter, add the chopped strawberries and mix until combined.

Heat a heavy based saucepan over medium heat. Melt the butter until foamy.

Use a ladle to spoon the batter into the pan, as mentioned above I like to keep my pancakes quite small (like 1/2 a ladle full). After a couple of minutes, bubbles will appear on the surface, indicating that it’s time to flip them.

Cook them on the other side until golden. Drain on a plate lined with paper towel.

Continue until you have as many as you need, or until batter is finished.

Serve with extra butter and honey, if you like.

makes about 15 pancakes. 

strawberry buttermilk pancakes

comments 6

Rice Paper Rolls, Two Ways

rice paper rolls cover shot

I’ll be honest, Rice Paper Rolls are not usually part of my repertoire.

I mean I love them, but I generally just buy them rather than make them at home (which, is pretty peculiar behaviour for me actually!). Unfortunately I am super fussy and cannot bring myself to even try the ones from the local suburban ‘Sushi’ shop. I hate buying food that disappoints me, so I very seldom take the risk. I have a handful of reliable eateries I go to for my Rice Paper Roll fix, they are consistently good, but they are in the city.

And I live one hour south.

Today, a seed got planted. This happens from time to time. I get an idea in my head, from heck knows where, and it grows.

Rice Paper Rolls. Rice Paper Rolls. Rice Paper Rolls.

There wasn’t really enough time to get to the city and back in time for school pick up. Besides, going all the way into the city for rice paper rolls is pure lunacy. The idea of making these myself was actually a little daunting, but this day I was prepared for the time and effort. I had to satisfy this craving somehow!

They were dead easy.

And once all the filling ingredients are prepped, they can be assembled fairly quickly too.

rice paper rolls prep 2

I already had a fair idea what I was going to fill them with – the stock standard – vermicelli, lettuce, carrot, cucumber, avocado, mint + spring onions. Ultra crisp and fresh. I jumped online (on the ever faithful google) to find a recipe for a good dipping sauce, as I had no more kecap manis in the cupboard. Along the way I came across this recipe; rice paper rolls with roasted sweet potato in them. A little unconventional but they sounded quite delicious. If ever I was going to try them then today way definitely the day.

They ended up being my favourite. I really cannot recommend them highly enough.

I was extraordinarily pleased with myself the following day, as I had a heap of left overs in the fridge. To my surprise they actually kept quite well, so it is definitely worth taking the time to wrap them tightly with cling film. I have included the recipe for the yummy dipping sauce I ended up making – one that doesn’t really call for strict measurements, just taste as you go. Alternatively you could serve them with ketcap manis, sweet chilli sauce, or a combination of hoisin and sriracha. All are good, but the dipping sauce is best.

rice paper rolls salad

Rice Paper Rolls, Two Ways

The sweet potato ones adapted from VeggieZest

- 10 rice paper roll sheets
– about 2 cups cooked vermicelli noodles

fillings

Avocado Salad + Mint

- 1/2 avocado, sliced into strips
– 1 large carrot
– 1 small (lebanese) cucumber
– a handful mixed lettuce leaves
– handful mint leaves
– 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
– sesame seeds

Start by prepping all your ingredients.

Set all your ingredients aside in little mounds on a plate. This will make it easier when you assembling the rolls.

Slice the carrot into thin julienne strips using a mandolin, set aside on the plate. Slice the cucumber into long strips – I used a veggie peeler for this job. Set this aside on the same plate.

Soften the rice paper sheets according to package instructions.

Have a little assembly line set up, place piles of the vermicelli noodles on each sheet.

Next pile on the lettuce, followed by the carrot, cucumber, avocado and finish up with the mint and spring onion.

Sprinkle on a pinch of sesame seeds over each one.

Roll up the rice paper rolls by folding up the bottom corner, then folding each of the sides, and continue rolling up the bottom. Don’t make them overly tight, as this can cause them to split.

Cover and set aside.

rice paper rolls uncutrice paper rolls plate

Sweet Potato and Basil

- 1/2 med-large sweet potato
– drizzle of oil
- few pinches of sweet paprika

– sprinkle of salt
– handful basil leaves
– black sesame seeds (just use regular if you can’t find them)

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C.

Peel your sweet potato then cut into thin batons – a little less than 1cm in diameter, imagine you were making chips.

Drizzle with oil and sprinkle on some salt and sweet paprika. Roast for about 20 minutes, or until tender.

Leave to cool.

Just as above, set yourself up a little assembly line of softened rice paper sheets on the bench.

Place on piles of vermicelli noodles in the centre of the sheet. Lay on a few basil leaves, followed by a handful of sweet potato batons. Sprinkle on the black sesame seeds and roll up in the method described above.

Dipping Sauce

- Few Tbsp organic peanut butter (no sugar or additives!)
- 2 Tbsp light soy sauce
- sriracha, to taste
- 1 Tbsp honey or maple, or to taste

rice paper rolls 2

comments 3

Red Rice Salad with Apple, Walnuts + Boiled Eggs

Red rice salad covershot

The weather in Victoria has shifted, and in the most glorious way. Most days have some sunshine and the nights are crisp and cool. The oven is often on without fear of heating up house. New season apples are on display at the green grocer. How lovely is Autumn. This salad is pretty classic combination of ingredients, especially as the months get cooler. Apples, walnuts, celery, shallots, greens. I’ve turned it into a bit more of a substantial meal with the addition of boiled eggs and red rice. red rice clancyredrice eggs

Red rice was on my (long!) list of must tries, and this was my first time cooking with it. It was pretty much exactly the same as preparing regular basmati rice. I used the absorption method, 1 part rice to 1 and 1/2 parts water. The result was a lovely and super flavoursome – absolutely worth considering, especially if you are not a fan of brown rice. The two have very similar nutrient values, however I found that the red rice is a fair bit milder in flavour, and also not as quite toothsome as brown rice. My son prefers it, so for me it is a worthy inclusion in the pantry. You can purchase red rice at the local health food store, but be warned it is fairly costly. I found mine at an Indian/Sri Lankan supermarket for the same price as any old ‘run of the mill’ rice. Definitely worth investigating if you have one near you! If you do not have any red rice, I would suggest replacing it with either brown basmati, or a mix of white basmati and wild rice. White on it’s own would not cut it in this salad. This dish holds up pretty well in the fridge, minus the dressing. I was exceptionally happy to eat left overs for lunch the following day so keep that in mind when making this, you can have dinner and lunch taken care of in one hit. red rice salad prepred rice clancy help

Red Rice Salad with Apples, Walnuts + Boiled Eggs

To make this vegan simply omit the eggs. You could even use some pan fried tofu in it’s place.

- 1 cup red rice
- 4 boiled eggs
- 1 apple, thinly sliced
- 1 small shallot, very finely diced
- handful of toasted walnuts
- 2 ribs of celery, very thinly sliced
- handful basil leaves, chopped
- big handful rocket leaves

Cinnamon Citrus Dressing

(add to a jar with a screw top lid and shake with vigour)
- 50ml olive oil
- 50ml lemon juice
- 50ml orange juice
- 1/2 Tbsp lemon zest
- 1/2 Tbsp orange zest
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
-  few pinches sea salt

Start by cooking the rice via absorption method; 1 cup of rice to 1 and 1/2 cups cold water and a big pinch of salt over high heat. Lower the heat to the lowest setting when it comes to the boil, place a lid on the pan and leave to cook undisturbed for about 20 minutes. Leave to rest for 5 minutes, and fluff up with a fork. Some will stick to the bottom of the pan but don’t worry about it. While the rice is cooking, make the dressing, prepare all your salad ingredients, and boil your eggs. When the rice is cooked, spread it onto a plate or shallow dish and leave to cook in the refrigerator. Cut your boiled eggs in half. Combine the cooled rice, shallots and celery, and stir to combine. Add the dressing and stir again. Taste for seasoning and add a bit of extra salt if need be. Add the sliced apple, rocket, eggs, basil and walnuts. Toss gently and serve.

Enough for 4 – 6 people red rice salad closer

comments 16

Zucchini + Sultana Loaf

zucchini sultana loaf

zucchini cake prep

Zucchini in a cake? Yes.

I can feel all of you frowning. And the pity you have for my poor young son who has one of ‘those’ mothers. You know, the kind who hides vegetables in their food. Even in the goddamn cakes! That poor poor boy!

To my defence, carrots are socially accepted in the cake world. And if it is okay for carrots, why should we shun the old zucchini? Especially considering zucchini has pretty much no flavour. It is virtually undetectable in this cake.

And now I hear you all ask yourselves “so what’s the friggin point of putting a goddamn zucchini in a cake, if it’s not there for the flavour?”

Well, surprisingly it’s not there as a means to sneak vegetables into my kid’s diet (though I must admit it is a definite bonus).

The zucchini lends moisture, much the same way any grated fruit would. Zucchini is perfect at taking on the flavour of anything it is cooked with, rather than being the star of the show. Alas, this little cake, if you could imagine, tastes like a lovely moist cinnamon loaf, dotted with sultanas throughout. Subtly sweet, it’s the perfect kind of morning tea fare I like to snack/gorge myself on.

It keeps well for quite a few days, you can pop it in the toaster if you like and serve it with a hunk of butter. It is a great snack for work and is excellent in school lunch boxes. If you think the green flecks might deter your children, you can peel the zucchini before you grate it. But then you would literally be sneaking vegetables into food. Like Jerry Seinfeld’s wife. Which would mean you are one of ‘those’ mums. Like me, only sometimes.

zucchini sultana loaf prep

zucchini loaf sifting

Zucchini + Sultana Bread

makes 2 loaves

- 1  and 1/2 cups raw caster sugar
– 3 eggs
– 1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil
– 1/2 cup plain yoghurt (full cream)
– 2 cups grated zucchini
– 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
– 2 cups self raising flour
– 1 cup wholemeal self raising flour
– 2 Tbsp cinnamon
– 1 cup sultanas

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C and prepare 2 loaf tins with baking paper.

Grate your zucchini and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, oil, yoghurt and caster sugar. Add the vanilla extract and grated zucchini and stir until combined.

Sift in the two flours and cinnamon and fold in gently. Stir though the sultanas.

Divide the mixture into the two prepared loaf pans.

Bake for an hour, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to rest for a few minutes before removing from the tins and cooling them on a wire rack.

zucchini sultana loaves

comments 2

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte with Salted Caramel + Coconut Cream

chocolate hazelnut torte

Laura Wright from The First Mess has pretty much ruled Pinterest since uploading the photos from her Chocolate Hazelnut Torte recipe. My jaw hit the floor when I first saw it. It had the words ‘salted date caramel’, ‘hazelnut’ and ‘coconut cream’ in the title. It was vegan. And gluten free! I read through the ingredient list and method. It is pretty hefty but this did not deter me in the slightest. I had to have this cake.

Making this cake is a little bit of an ordeal, so I would consider it to only be a special occasion cake. I can attest that it absolutely tastes as good as it looks and is well worth the effort. Not only is it the greatest vegan cake I have ever tried, it is amazing in its own right – vegan or not. If you have a birthday or celebration approaching, look no further.

choc hazelnut torte slice

You need a couple of days to prepare the varying layers of amazing-ness, so planning is vital. Also, once assembled, a bit of extra time in the fridge will help the hazelnut mousse hold when you are slicing and serving.

I have a couple of pointers so you (hopefully) don’t run into any trouble;

* Do not over process the hazelnut mousse once the coconut cream has been added – it could curdle.

* When purchasing coconut cream, shake the can. Go for the one with less liquid.

* To make whipped coconut cream it is best to keep your coconut cream in the fridge. Do not shake the can before use, carefully scrape the solid layer from the top, set the remaining liquid aside to use another time. If you are having trouble whipping the cream, you can add a little cornflour to thicken it.

* Brown rice flour would make a suitable replacement for the GF oat flour.

* Raw caster sugar would make a suitable replacement for the coconut sugar.

* Make your own cashew butter by soaking cashews overnight. Drain then grind them in a food processor until smooth. Add a few splashes of water to assist in the blending.

choc hazelnut torte prepchoc hazelnut mousse

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte with Salted Date Caramel and Coconut Cream

Thanks to The First Mess for this knockout recipe. I adapted it just a little.

chocolate brownie base ingredients:
1 1/2 tbsp ground chia seeds + 1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cup almond meal
3/4 cup gluten free oat flour
2 tbsp arrowroot powder
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup coconut or almond milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup chopped vegan dark chocolate

hazelnut mousse ingredients:
1/2 cup toasted + skinned hazelnuts
1 400 ml can full fat coconut cream (shaken)
1 cup cashew butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
pinch of fine sea salt
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
1 Tbsp psyllium husk in 1/4 cup water

salty date caramel ingredients:
10 soft pitted dates + boiling water to cover
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
pinch or 2 of sea salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

to serve:
coconut cream whipped with maple syrup (to taste)
chopped toasted hazelnuts

Start 2 nights before if you are making your own cashew butter. Soak cashews in water overnight.

The next day, drain cashews and blend to make cashew butter. As mentioned in the notes above, you might need to add quite a few splashed of water. Set aside in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and prepare a large (28cm) springform baking tin.

Combine chia seeds with water, set aside to form a gel. Make the chocolate cake base by adding the almond meal, oat flour, salt, baking soda, cacao powder and sugar to a large bowl. Stir to combine. Make a well in the centre, add the chia seed gel to the well, along with the vanilla extract and almond milk. Melt the coconut oil and dark chocolate together, stir to combine then add to the well. Stir everything together until fully incorporated. Pour this into the prepared pan and smooth over with a spatula. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, until the top is set. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Once cooled, wrap and place in the fridge overnight to cool further still.

The following day make your hazelnut mousse. Place the hazelnuts into the coconut cream and set to soak for 15 minutes.

Blend together (I used an immersion blender) until smooth. Set aside. Add the remaining ingredients to the cashew butter you have made the previous day, add only a tablespoon or 2 of the psyllium husk water. Blend together until smooth – add the hazelnut/coconut cream mix and blend again, but only until just combined. Be careful not to over do it, it can curdle! Set mousse aside.

Make the salted date caramel. Blend the soaked dates with the remaining ingredients (again, I used an immersion blender), adding the soaking liquid bit by bit, until you have reached a caramel like consistency. The caramel needs to be viscus, yet pourable. Set aside.

Now to assemble. Remove the cake base from the fridge. Using a spatula, spread the hazelnut mousse onto the base. Pour the caramel over the mousse, smooth over as well as you can with your spatula, until it covers the entire surface. Place in fridge.

Whip your coconut cream together with the maple syrup (as described above). Once it looks stiff enough to sit on a cake, pro this on top of the caramel layer, smoothing over evenly again.

Decorate with chopped roasted hazelnuts. Place back into the fridge until ready to serve – a bit of resting time will make serving easier.

choc hazelnut torte slice 2