Lemon and coconut treats

Seems to be everywhere I look someone is talking about reducing carbs, or increasing protein, or coconut being the answer to all of life's ills. Then there are the people who are avoiding gluten, soy and animal products. And then there are those who are proponents of the raw food movement. These little snacks tick nearly all of those boxes, and if you use honey, maple or agave as the sweetener, they even tick the last one. So what's the down side? Each tiny little ball contains over 400 kilojoules, with nearly 9 grams of fat each. That's fine if you're particularly active, but if you're sitting at a desk most days, then enjoy responsibly.* 

Lemon and coconut balls

1 1/2 cups almond meal
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1/3 cup coconut flour
2 tbsp glucose syrup 
4 tbsp lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/4 cup coconut oil

Method

  1. Mix together the dry ingredients.
  2. Combine the glucose, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla bean paste. Add to almond mix and stir well.
  3. Melt the coconut oil and drizzle in to the almond mix. Mix until a ball forms.
  4. Roll the mixture into balls and refrigerate until firm. 
Makes around 20 balls. If glucose syrup is not available, replace with honey or you sweet liquid of choice.

*Of course, there are also plenty of people who say that you won't get fat from eating fat, but I don't want to risk it.

Caneles

Confession time. I sign up for loyalty programs. All of them. I know they're just a way to track spending by precisely targeted demographics, but I just can't resist the lure of a discount voucher, even when it only adds up to around 1% discount. Any discount's ok, right?

Anyway, the point of all this owning up is that I recently managed to spend enough to get a $25 voucher from one of my favourite kitchenware shops (it only took two years... hmm). Now having spent enough to get my voucher, clearly I have pretty much every kitchen gadget I need. Which meant that I had to think outside the square, and is the reason why I came home with a silicone mini canele pan. 


Caneles have a reputation of being somewhat difficult to get right, so I set to researching and found that not only was the pan supposed to be made of copper, but that I would have to grease it with beeswax. Feeling somewhat daunted, I set about using my silicone pan, sans wax. The results are delicious, with a crispy outside and chewy, custard-flavoured centre. Thanks to a little coconut oil in the pan, they even have the gloss that the beeswax is normally responsible for. Stopping at one is just about impossible; I'm super glad the recipe makes around 72. 




Caneles a Bordeaux

(Recipe based on that supplied with the Mastrad Mini Cannele Pan)

500 ml milk
25 g butter
20 ml vanilla bean paste
2 egg yolks
1 egg
250 g caster sugar
125 ml rum
125 g flour

Method

Combine milk, butter and vanilla. Bring to scalding point, then allow to cool until lukewarm. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks, egg and caster sugar, being careful not to incorporate too much air. When cooled, slowly add the milk to the egg mixture, stirring well to combine. Add the rum, stirring through, then the flour. Stir well to remove lumps. Refrigerate overnight. Heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Grease the pan with melted coconut oil, then add the mix. Cook for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180 and continue cooking until dark brown. 

Icy poles

It's been a long time between posts, and even though I've been home full time for two months, I have to confess to not doing a lot of cooking recently. Mostly I've been busy with projects around the house, but it's also been pretty consistently hot this summer, and not at all conducive to baking.
Instead of baking, Ive been freezing using my new Quick Pop Maker. 

Recipes so far:

Creamy banana

2 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
Blend then freeze as directed. Makes 3

Peaches and cream

125ml peach nectar
30ml cream
50ml milk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
Blend then freeze as directed. Makes 3

Virgin pina colada pops

1 pineapple, peeled and chopped
425ml coconut milk
Blend then freeze as directed. Makes 9

Summer stripes

1/4 cup pomegranate juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup coconut water
Pour equal amounts of pomegranate juice into each mould. Freeze. Add equal amounts of orange juice to each mould. Freeze. Add coconut water and allow to finish freezing. Makes 3

Frozen milkshakes

3/4 cup milk
Topping to taste
Blend, then freeze as directed. Makes 3. 

Drip-free icy poles

1 pkt jelly crystals
500ml water
Make jelly mix as directed. Chill without setting. Pour into moulds and freeze as directed. Makes 9. 

While I love the Quick Pop Maker for its convenience - icy poles are only 7 minutes away at any time - any of these could be made just as easily in traditional moulds, plastic cups or even lined muffin trays as long as you've got a way to keep the sticks upright. 

Pumpkin ice cream

Before you close the page in disgust, let me just say that this stuff is delicious. Seriously.


So what motivates a person to make ice cream from pumpkin? Our ex-pat friends scheduled Thanksgiving dinner for the last Thursday in November. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but in 2012, there were five Thursdays in the month, and so dinner was out by a week. Again, this normally wouldn't be a problem for anything apart from the host's pride - it is kind of embarrassing to get the date wrong - but the selected Thursday happened to fall on a 40 degree day. To those of you who prefer their temperature in Fahrenheit, that's 104 degrees. Or very hot.
I'm normally in charge of two things at Thanksgiving; the gravy and the pie. Clearly the gravy still needed to be made, but I decided to mix things up a bit with the pie. Voila! Pumpkin ice cream. Perfect for a hot Thanksgiving, and if you have to have something more pie-like, you can always make it into an ice cream sandwich.

Pumpkin ice cream

1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
2 cups mashed pumpkin

Method

Beat the sugar and eggs together until pale and fluffy. Meanwhile, bring the milk and cream to scalding point over low heat. Remove from heat, and add the egg mix. Mix well to make sure there are no eggy bits. Add the pumpkin, stirring to make a smooth custard. Return to heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. If the mixture boils, remove from heat immediately and stir until it is no longer curdled. Allow to cool, before chilling for at least two hours. Churn according to your ice cream maker's specifications, or if doing it by hand, allow it to freeze for an hour or two, then remove from the freezer and beat until smooth. Return to the freezer and allow to become solid again. Repeat until the ice cream is as fluffy as you want it. 

Oat biscuits

On Friday afternoon - the last time I checked - there was a full biscuit container in the pantry. Somehow between then and now, a plague of locusts descended on the box and ate the lot. It must have been locusts; there's no way three small boys could go through an entire biscuit box in approximately 24 hours.
This afternoon, we reached crisis situation, when the smallest one desperately needed a biscuit - "I'm not hungry for fruit!" - and there were none to be found. Lucky for all, I was able to provide biscuits within the hour.



Following is a foundation recipe. It's quite plain, so I added a packet of caramel chips. Too sweet for me, but the small one and the man of the house were both impressed. Next time I'll be adding dried fruit. Grab a glass of milk and see what you think.

Rolled oat biscuits

2/3 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups rolled oats

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 Celsius. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and beat well to combine. Stir through the vanilla essence. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Add to the butter mixture. Stir through the oats and any added agreements (chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruit).
Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Roll the biscuit mix into small balls. Place on the baking sheet and cook until golden brown - around 15 to 20 minutes. 
Makes 45.


Walnut tarts

Despite my best efforts, there's just no convincing some family members that fruit mince tarts are awesome. They acknowledge that the scent of fruit mince is truly delicious, but when push comes to shove, just can't get past the fact that its made from dried fruit. These tarts are for them.


So good you'll want to eat them all year round.

Walnut tarts

Pastry

2 1/4 cups plain flour
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter
2 egg yolks
2 tbs water

Filling

1/2 cup golden syrup
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

Method

Combine the flour sugar and butter. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the eggs and enough water tho bring the pastry together into a ball. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile combine the syrup, butter and sugar over low heat. Stir until the butter and sugar melt. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Add the eggs and vanilla bean paste and stir well. 
Roll out the pastry and using a 6 cm round cutter, cut 24 discs. Line two 12 cup patty pan trays with the pastry. Bake at 180 Celsius for 10 - 15 minutes until just golden. 
Remove from the oven. Add walnuts to each tart and pour over caramel filling. Bake a further 25 - 30 minutes until set. Allow to cool completely in trays. 
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