Tag Archives: Raspberry

My Blue Heaven

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Milkshakes are such a big part of childhood.  I always feel a little sad and as though I may have missed something essential about growing up because I was never into milkshakes as a child.  Something important.  Like a rite of passage, you know?

I have never drunk milk in my entire life.  I was already an adult before I would let myself to even try having a coffee with milk added.  As a child, I thoroughly despised dairy milk (we didn’t even think about non-dairy alternatives so let’s not go there).  So, milkshakes were something I eyed with a good measure of skepticism.  Tall chilled silver glasses filled with fabulously flavoured milk … it was still just a lot of milk to me.

Everyone would have their favourites … chocolate, of course, strawberry, banana, butterscotch, vanilla, pineapple, caramel … mostly standard stuff.  But there was one flavour that had us all just a bit fascinated and intrigued.  It had an air of mystery to it because we could never quite pin down what this fantasy flavour really was … blue heaven.  It just sounds so celestial.  So divine.  As if it could transport you somewhere fabulous with it’s gorgeous sky blue mystery flavoured milkiness.  Blue Heaven is an iconic Australian milkshake flavour invention that defied logic, by being madly successful.  So successful, it’s still around today in various forms.

Even my aversion to all things milky didn’t stop me from trying a blue heaven milkshake, out of curiosity.   It tasted like vanilla, but somewhat disappointingly, like an artificial vanilla (which, of course, it was).  Depending on where your research leads you, it actually was (and is) just artificial vanilla with blue colouring, or artificial vanilla raspberry with blue colouring.  The manufacturers of the flavouring apparently claim it to be the latter.  Now, that is cool, because raspberry is a fantastic mystery prize.  Sure, it is artificial raspberry that never comes close to real fruit, but who would have guessed?

I still don’t drink milkshakes, although I am partial to the odd smoothie.   I do love all things vanilla and raspberry though … and blue food?  I still love the idea of blue heaven as a flavour.  Would it work in a non-milkshake form?  Here in Australia, you can buy blue heaven syrup, blue heaven topping for ice cream, and blue heaven jelly.   Well, that’s a bit artificial and boring, despite being a testament to blue heaven’s ongoing popularity.

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So why not create my very own version of blue heaven, from scratch?  Real vanilla, real raspberry, and a little blue colouring for the sake of nostalgia?  Why not create it in cupcake form?  Good idea, yes?

Great idea.  Yes.  I still don’t drink milkshakes, remember?  😉

These moist cupcakes are pure vanilla and totally light blue, like the milkshake.  The cream cheese frosting is also pure vanilla deliciousness and blue like the heavens.  But take a bite of a cupcake and you get a surprise …  a fresh raspberry confit centre, sweet and tart.

I think it captures the essence of Blue Heaven, don’t you?  They do taste absolutely heavenly … and they’re blue 😀

I added some chocolate covered raspberries for decoration and little straws in honour of the milkshake that inspired them.

I hope you enjoy my blue heaven 🙂

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Makes 10 cupcakes

Ingredients
Blue Vanilla Cupcakes
125 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
125 grams sugar
1 vanilla pod, scraped of seeds or 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
2 x 60 gram eggs
125 grams plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
125 millilitres milk
1-2 drops blue food colouring (water-based)

Raspberry Confit
200 grams fresh or frozen (and thawed) raspberries
200 grams sugar
15 millilitres freshly squeezed lemon juice

Blue Vanilla Frosting
125 grams unsalted butter
250 grams cream cheese
125 grams icing sugar
1 vanilla pod, scraped of seeds or 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 – 2 drops blue food colouring

10 chocolate covered raspberries

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Directions
Blue Vanilla Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 180℃.  Place 10 cupcake liners on a lined baking tray and set aside.

Place the sugar, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of a mixer and whisk until the mixture is light, fluffy and the sugar is dissolved.  Add the eggs and whisk until the batter is smooth and light.

Sift together the flour and baking powder.  Add the lemon or lime juice to the milk.  Add half the flour to the batter and beat until smooth.  Add the milk and finally the remaining flour.  Whisk the batter until smooth and light.  Add a drop of blue food colouring and whisk until the colour is evenly distributed and the batter is a light pastel blue.  If required, add another drop or two, one drop at a time.  I only needed one drop to achieve a pale blue colour.  Divide the batter between the cupcake liners.

Bake for about 20 minutes until risen and cooked through.  Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.  You can store these, at room temperature, in an airtight container, if making ahead before filling and frosting.

Raspberry Confit
Puree the raspberries and strain them well to remove the seeds.   Place the raspberry puree in a saucepan with the sugar and lemon juice.   Cook over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved, stirring it gently.   Raise the heat and cook until the raspberry confit mixture reaches 104℃.  Test the confit by dropping a small amount on to a slightly chilled plate.  It should start to set fairly quickly.  When done, remove from the heat and transfer a small amount to a 12″ piping bag.  Place on a workbench and let cool slightly.

While the confit cools, cut a small round from the top of each cupcake and make a small cavity in the centre of each cupcake, about half of the way through.  Remove the crumbs* but reserve the round cut from top.  It will form a lid.  Snip a small tip off the end of the piping bag and pipe a small amount into each cavity to just under the top of the cupcake. Replace the round cut from the top to form a lid on top of each cupcake.  They are now ready to be frosted.

*The crumbs are lovely sprinkled on top of ice cream

Blue Vanilla Frosting
Melt the butter and set aside to cool.  Whisk together the cream cheese, icing sugar, and vanilla until smooth and creamy.   Whisk the cooled butter until slightly thickened.  Add the butter to the cream cheese mixture and whisk until smooth.  Finally, add a drop of blue food colouring to give the frosting a pale blue colour.

Cover and refrigerate the frosting for 15 to 20 minutes before frosting the cupcakes.  This cream cheese frosting pipes beautifully and holds its shape without setting or becoming hard on standing or when refrigerated.

Pipe the frosting on to each cupcake.  Top with a chocolate covered raspberry.
For that blue heaven milkshake vibe, add a small straw for decoration.  I just snipped a standard straw into 4 equal pieces to get the right size for each cupcake.

Without frosting, the cupcakes keep well for up to a week, if stored in an airtight container.  Frosted, they must be stored in the refrigerator.  They will keep for up to several days at least and will be as moist and delicious as freshly made.

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Bite into a cupcake for a fresh raspberry surprise 🙂

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Filed under All Recipe Posts, Cupcakes, Fruit, Jams & Preserves

Raspberry and Chocolate Financiers

I know that many bloggers cook, bake, and generally prepare fabulous food and recipes with their blog in mind.  Out comes the semi-professional food photography gear, amazing props, flowers, table settings, and hey presto, a few days of intensive preparation and forethought produce stunning pictures to accompany posts that are thoughtfully written, peppered with witticisms and engaging anecdotes that give you a sneak peak into the author’s life, interests, and passion for cooking.  I love those blogs.

This is not one of those blogs.   This blogger still struggles with being able to time her baking and food preparation to coincide with a photo shoot that can only occur within a small window of opportunity during the course of any given day, weather permitting, so that the combination of camera and lighting won’t destroy what the naked eye can plainly see, and the other senses experience.  Breathe.  All despite some rather nifty equipment.

This blogger refuses to rent or buy fancy schmancy food photography props and doesn’t spend hours lost in homewares stores gushing over tableware and assorted knick knacks that would look just so.  She simply doesn’t have the time or the storage space at home to keep it all.  Her pantry is full of baking equipment, chocolate making gear, kilos of chocolate, shelves upon shelves of ingredients, and more chocolate …

This blogger doesn’t prepare recipes for the blog.  She just blogs them when she can, because they are worthy of being shared, at least she would dearly love to think so.  Sometimes, they’re recipes she’s been making for years, or maybe something she’s only just created and made a few times to make sure it’s fully tested, and reliably reproducable.   But she usually bakes and prepares them to be eaten, by herself, by the family, by friends, at functions … so her photo shoots are generally hurried, not always in the best light, and  largely raw and unstylised.

Her blog posts are not planned, thought through, rehearsed, or proof-read.  She simply writes what comes to mind.

But the love that goes into each recipe knows no bounds … and so it’s with gratitude to everyone who follows and supports this blog, that I’m sharing with you all, this recipe for my raspberry and chocolate financiers.

I love financiers.   Like eclairs, I sometimes dream of opening up a financiers bakery with the aim of making financiers the next big thing.  They are so wonderfully buttery and sweet, and lend themselves to infinite variations in flavour and texture.   Commercially available ones more often resemble stodgy bricks of solid almond meal, with what I can only imagine is a tonne of sugar and shortening, and have little in the way of flavour.  Worse still, they are usually served stone cold.   They are an insult to what is a classic and elegant French almond cake.

A real financier starts with butter, browned to an aromatic and nutty perfection.  Egg whites whisked to a frothy foam and nut meal, flour and sugar folded in.  The flavourings you choose to add are infinitely varied.  Fruit, nuts, chocolate, liqueur, citrus curd, caramel, spices … whatever your heart desires.  The result should be rich but light and buttery in texture.

I love these raspberry and chocolate financiers and they are one of my favourites.  Raspberry and chocolate is such a classic combination and adding a little Framboise ganache on top makes them extra special.  They have been very popular and I hope you love them too.  I wish I could share with you what the eye can see that the camera has not allowed, the wonderful aroma of these little cakes, and their delicate flavour and texture … but technology has not yet come this far.   Perhaps I can persuade you to make them instead and let me know 🙂

I’ve used a variety of chocolates to make these, all with excellent results.  Some of the best include Valrhona’s Manjari, Michel Cluizel’s Maralumi, Willie’s Cacao Madagascan 71, and Felchin’s Maracaibo Intenso 66%.   But any really good quality chocolate would be fantastic.  Enjoy!

Makes 15 standard financiers

Financiers
Ingredients
150 grams unsalted butter, cut into pieces
125 grams almond flour
85 grams plain flour
200 grams icing sugar
200 grams egg whites (6 large)
100 grams raspberries, fresh or frozen
50 grams dark chocolate or couverture, chopped into small pieces

a little extra icing sugar, for dusting

Directions
Preheat the oven to 170°C.
I used silicon moulds so had no need to grease and line them.  If you are using standard financier, muffin, or cupcake tins, brush them with some extra melted or softened butter and dust with flour.  Tap out any excess flour, and set aside.

Place the butter into a stainless steel saucepan and melt over a low heat.  Cook until the butter starts to brown and gives off a lovely nutty aroma.  When browned, remove the butter from the heat and pour in to a dish to cool.

Sift together the almond flour, plain flour, and icing sugar.  Add the raspberries and chocolate to the flour and sugar mixture and toss to coat the berries.  Whisk the egg whites until foamy.   Do not whisk until soft of stiff peaks, as you do not want to create a meringue.  Fold the dry ingredients gently in to the whisked egg whites.  Drizzle the browned butter over the mixture and fold gently into the mixture until incorporated.

Divide the batter between the 15 moulds.  Bake the financiers for about 30 minutes at 170°C, until risen and slightly golden on top.  Remove from the oven and allow the financiers to cool, in their molds.
When cooled, gently remove from the moulds, and place on a serving platter. If not using silicon moulds, gently run a flat knife around the inside edge before easing out the financiers.
Dust liberally with icing sugar to serve or lightly dust with icing sugar and pipe rosettes of Framboise Ganache on top of each financier prior to serving.

The unadorned financiers will keep for several days, stored in an airtight container, at room temperature.  If using the ganache, it is best to frost the financiers before serving.

Framboise Ganache
Ingredients
85 grams dark chocolate or couverture
150 grams cream, 35% fat
20 millilitres Framboise or Crème de Cassis
20 grams butter, at room temperature

Directions

Chop the chocolate into pieces and place in a plastic bowl, suitable for the microwave.  Microwave for about 60 seconds.  The chocolate will not be fully melted.  This step is not mandatory.   If you skip this step, chop the chocolate finely so that it will melt more easily.

Place the cream in to a small saucepan and bring to simmering point.  Pour the cream over the chocolate, add the Framboise, and gently stir with a whisk until the chocolate is melted.  Add the butter and whisk gently until smooth and shiny.

Fit a piping bag with a decorative tip and push a little of the bag into the tip to form a seal.  Fill the bag with the ganache and flatten it on a bench.  I do this to help it cool more quickly and set to a piping consistency.  In warm weather, you may need to set the bag on a tray and place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or so.

When the financiers are ready, dust the financiers lightly with some icing sugar.  Pipe some ganache on to each financier, and serve.

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Filed under All Recipe Posts, Cakes, Chocolate, Cupcakes, Fruit, Tarts & Patisserie

Amaretti

I have always had a thing about Amaretti di Saronno.  You know the ones?  They are made by Lazzaroni, and come in a bright red tin, each pair of amaretti wrapped in a light embrace within a fine printed piece of paper, its edges twisted together … they are such a delicate and romantic little cookie.  To me, they represent a beautiful expression of bitter and sweet in perfect harmony.

*sighhhhhhhhh*

I used to collect the tins and the wrappers.  It was such a treat to buy them.  A rare treat, for sure, as they were always a bit on the expensive side.  Lucky for me, my father also had a major thing for amaretti.  Then again, what sweet thing does my father not have a thing for?  Bless his discerning sweet tooth.  Long may it offer opportunities to indulge 🙂   I still have a few wrappers, delicately marking favourite recipes in much-loved old cookbooks.

Years ago, I decided I wanted to recreate them at home.  I borrowed and pored over so many cookbooks, searched online, and pretty much anywhere I might find a trace of amaretti lore and authenticity.  I tried and tested a number of recipes that seemed legitimate.  Each one lovely and delicious in its own way but NOT. THE. REAL. DEAL.  So I basically decided to figure it out from scratch myself.  How many iterations did it take?

Roughly about N, where N >> 1

At times, it felt like N ➝ ∞

I became a little obsessed.  You see, they need to keep that lovely little dome shape and they need to be crisp and friable … they must crackle and fall apart and melt in your mouth.  They must have just the right balance of bitter almonds and sugary sweetness.   Most of my early attempts suffered from my usual reticence in using copious amounts of sugar.  For amaretti, though, you need to go overboard with the sugar to balance out the bitter almond flavour and to get that delightful crunchy, crackly texture … friable.

The best part was always the taste testing.  My father and I would sit down at the table, excited to bite into my latest version of amaretti and compare notes.  Too much bitter almond?  Not enough?  Too soft? A little too browned?  Maybe baked too long?  Not enough?  Wrong shape?  Right shape?   Eventually, though, it seems to have paid off … because, voila`, these are the amaretti I have made ever since.    They are so close to the original, I’m pretty happy with them.

I sometimes still want to shift the balance of bitter almonds to sweet almonds in favour of the bitter almonds … but every small amount you add contributes to a stronger flavour and once you reach a tipping point of just a bit too much?  The amaretti become bitter and you could swear you get a whiff of cyanide.

Bitter almonds are actually apricot kernels, but look for all the world like small almonds.  They should be used with a measure of caution in recipes as they do contain traces of cyanide.  They have been used in baking in Europe for centuries, however, and in small quantities are perfectly fine to use.  You can sometimes find them in Italian specialty food shops and increasingly, in health food and organic produce shops as well.

Amaretti are one of the most versatile cookies on the planet.  They are a cousin of the macaron and, it is often cited that they are the precursor to the macaron.  Unlike macarons, however, amaretti should have a crackly surface and no feet!  Amaretti with feet would be an epic fail 🙂  If you click on the images, you can see how crisp delicate and easily cracked apart they really are.  That’s a sign of amaretti success.

They can be crushed up and used in desserts, in savoury dishes, especially paired with pumpkin and sage or in a stuffing for meats.  They are at their best served simply with a glass of Amaretto liqueur or an espresso (or both!).   I sometimes sandwich two amaretti together with a little chocolate ganache, plain melted chocolate, or an Amaretto or coffee flavoured cream to serve as a petit four.   Here, I thought I’d give you a little something different … almonds go so well with berries and stone fruit that a lovely tangy raspberry and white chocolate ganache seemed like a perfect match and it certainly is.

I hope you love this recipe too.   It’s been around the traps a little.  I first published it in a column in the Epicure section of The Age newspaper, here in Melbourne.  It was also included in a recipe book on baking.   I thought it would be lovely to share them with you here too.

This recipe makes a lot of amaretti.  There will be less if you make large versions of course.

Enjoy!

Makes about 8 dozen small amaretti

Ingredients
165 grams raw almonds, blanched
85 grams bitter almonds (apricot kernels)
250 grams caster sugar
135 grams egg whites (equal to 4 large), at room temperature
pinch of salt or cream of tartar
150 grams sugar

Directions
Pre-heat your oven to 140°C (285°F).  Line several large baking trays or cookie sheets with Silpat sheets or silicone baking paper and set aside.

Strictly speaking you don’t really need to blanch the almonds but I like to do it.  Unless I’m pressed for time, I usually prefer to blanch them myself.  Much better flavour than pre-blanched sad and sorry-looking almonds, yes?  If you wish to do so, simply pour some boiling water over the almonds, in a bowl, and let stand for 30 seconds or so.  Drain the almonds and the skins should come off fairly easily.  Let the almonds dry completely, spread out on paper towels, or in a very low oven for a few minutes.  You do not wish to roast them.  They should be cool before using.  If you are really pressed and all you have is almond meal (flour) at home, use that.  They will still be perfect.

Place the blanched almonds, the bitter almonds and 125 grams of the caster sugar into the bowl of a food processor and process until the mixture is like a fine meal.  Transfer to a bowl, add the remaining 125 grams of caster sugar.  Mix well and set aside.

In the bowl of a bench top mixer, add the egg whites and a generous pinch of either salt or cream of tartar.  Using the whisk attachment, start mixing at a slow speed for a few minutes until the egg whites are frothy and starting to build a meringue.  Increase the speed to medium and whisk until soft peaks form.  Continue whisking and slowly add the 150 grams sugar, in two or three batches.  You don’t really have to add the sugar in this way, but if you are unsure and making these for the first time, it’s a fairly bullet proof method to make sure the meringue is stable.

Once all the sugar has been added, continue to whisk until there is no sign of sugar in the meringue.  I like to increase the speed to high for about a minute or so at the end, just to make sure the meringue is stiff and glossy.  All up, you should be whisking the meringue for about 10 minutes or so.  It’s not dissimilar to making a French meringue for macarons.  When finished, the meringue should sit in a stiff, glossy clump on the whisk when you raise it.

Add the almond mixture to the meringue and gently fold it together until no streaks of meringue or almonds remain.  Do not overfold the meringue.  We are not making macarons here.  It should be like a thick almond cream and still have quite a bit of body from the air in the meringue.

Fill a piping bag, fitted with a plain tip about 1.5 to 2 cm in diameter, with the amaretti mixture.  Pipe small mounds on to the prepared trays.  Allow a little room for spreading, although they do not spread much as they bake.  With a finger dipped in cold water, smooth down the peak on top of each amaretto so that the mounds have evenly rounded domes.

Bake at 140°C (285°F) for about 30 to 35 minutes.  They should be light golden in colour and not overly browned.  Remove from the oven, and let sit for a few minutes before gently remove them from the baking sheets on to a wire rack to cool completely.

You can bake these in batches, given the large quantity.  Simply pipe all the amaretti on to the prepared trays.  They can sit awaiting their turn to bake, quite happily.  The only time I would caution you is when the weather is very humid as humidity can deflate and add moisture to the amaretti batter.  You may end up with flattened amaretti as a result.  We don’t want that!

Once cooled, they can be stored in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 3 weeks.  In theory 😉

Oh wait, you’d like to fill them with this delicious and prettily rosy raspberry ganache?  😀

It’s a good idea to make the ganache ahead of time and let it set to a piping consistency, tightly covered, in a cool, dry spot at less than 18°C.

Raspberry & White Chocolate Ganache

Makes enough for about 30 filled amaretti (60 amaretti required)

Ingredients
50 grams fresh or frozen raspberries
160 grams white couverture or best quality white chocolate
120 grams light cream (18% fat) or half-and-half
15 grams butter, at room temperature

Directions
Purée the raspberries and pass the purée through a sieve to remove the seeds.   Chop the couverture into small even pieces and place in a bowl, and set aside.

Add the raspberry purée and cream to a saucepan.  Stir to mix well and bring to a boiling point over a gentle heat.  Remove from the heat and pour evenly over the chocolate.  Gently whisk or stir from the centre until the chocolate is completely melted and the ganache is smooth.  While still warm, whisk in the butter until melted and the ganache is glossy.

Set the ganache aside to cool, covered.  If not making the ganache ahead of time, you can cover it tightly and place the cooled ganache in the freezer for five to 10 minutes until it reaches a piping consistency.  Do not forget about it and leave it too long in the freezer though!

Pair up the amaretti.  You will need about 60 amaretti for 30 filled cookies.  Fill a piping bag with the ganache.  You can use a plain or decorative tip for a ruffled edge.  Pipe a little ganache on to half of each pair and gently press the matching cookie.  Set aside to set completely.

Store filled amaretti in an airtight container for several days.  I would recommend filling them close to serving time (i.e. on the same day or the day before) for best results.  Amaretti keep their lovely crunchy texture best when stored in a cool, dry place.  Refrigeration softens them and they lose some of their magic.

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Filed under All Recipe Posts, Biscuits & Cookies, Chocolate, Nuts, Special Diet

Raspberry Paleo Muffins

Well, here I am supposedly taking a short break from blogging because … well, partly because I’m a bit flat out with the other job at the moment.  You know, the one that pays the bills and stuff.   Important.  Kind of a priority.

I have to confess, the self-imposed pressure to bake and then blog about it while not having time just made me … cranky.  Nothing really goes the way you want it to when you’re just stretching yourself that bit tooooo thinly.   BUT … there’s always a BUT

This little post isn’t a big ask and these muffins are just way too yummilicious to not share them with you.  Plus, I promised more paleo baking on the Facebook page so I’m keeping good with the promise 🙂

You know, the philosophy behind the paleo diet and lifestyle got me thinking … being a bit of a history and archeology nerd … any paleo recipe true to its roots shouldn’t just be about WHAT one eats but also HOW one eats.  Honestly, hunter-gatherers didn’t have a lot of time or equipment to put together elaborate 8 course dégustation menus or use complex cooking techniques.  If you think of baking, it’s going to be simple stuff … because you’re going to be on the move pretty soon.  No Ilve ovens and piping bags and food processors.  No long list of ingredients for which you’d have to shop around.

These little muffins fit the bill nicely.  You’d be gathering up your coconuts, almonds, and berries.   Hmmm … maybe not all growing in the same place …  You’d be waiting for the right moment to steal a couple of eggs from an unwary chicken and then, hey presto, you’d be pretty much set.    These muffins have only a few fabulous ingredients and take only minutes to prepare.   Sure, you could dig a hole in the ground and create your own paleo style oven but … well, I just stuck them in the Ilve this time.  Call me out for being a cheat.  Yes, I also used baking powder … would you like to eat paleo muffins or paleo rocks?  If you want to avoid the baking powder, best  you separate out those eggs and whip the egg whites to stiff peaks.  Fold them in at the end.  Pray to your paleo gods and away you go.  Hunter-gatherers didn’t have whisks though, so that’d also be cheating.  It’s really hard to make a whisk out of flint and wooden ones take ages to carve.  See how too much day job can addle the brain? 😀

They are extremely fall-apart-fruity, which is my test of a great muffin.  Very moist and much sweeter than the amount of coconut sugar would suggest.  The tartness of the raspberries is amazing.  I tend to use frozen raspberries in muffins as I love to eat fresh ones as they are … seems such a waste to bake with them.  This recipe works brilliantly either way.  Feel free to substitute other berries or chopped stone fruits … whatever you happen to find out and about.

You can always substitute fruit for the sugar, if you are trying to avoid adding any sugar or sweeteners to your food.  I have provided some suggestions below.

They are dairy and gluten-free by default and low fructose, which is great for anyone with a food intolerance.

I hope you enjoy them.  See you all soon … I’ll be back with a lovely morello cherry and caramel tart recipe very very soon.

Makes 8 muffins

Ingredients

Volume measures are in metric cups.

Dry
50 grams (scant 1/2 cup) coconut flour
35 grams (1/3 cup) coconut sugar*
80 grams (1 cup) almond meal
2 teaspoons baking powder

150 grams raspberries, fresh or frozen

Wet
2 large eggs
335 millilitres (1 1/3 cup) almond milk**

* If you prefer to avoid added sugar, you can substitute 1 small ripe banana or 1/4 – 1/3 cup apple or pear puree.  If you do, add it to the wet ingredients and blend or mash until well mixed.   You can also add your favourite sugar-free sweetener but this would deviate from the paleo premise of the recipe.  It’s all down to one’s preference 🙂

** You can substitute coconut milk or another nut milk, as desired.

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 190℃.  Have ready eight muffin molds, lined with muffin liners, if desired.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl, making sure there are no lumps.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and almond milk.  Use a fork to stir the wet mixture into the dry.  Fold through the raspberries.  If using frozen berries, there is no need to defrost them first.

Divide the mixture between eight muffin molds.   Bake for 30 minutes or until risen and golden.  Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Serve warm or at room temperature.  These muffins freeze well in an airtight container.  To reheat, zap in a microwave for 15 – 20 seconds.

I like them served with extra berries.  OK sometimes I cheat totally and put a dollop of yoghurt on them.

Coconut cream or almond cream would be WOWZAPALOOZA 🙂

See how fall-apart fruity and moist they are?  Muffins.  NOT cake.

Macronutrient Information
I’ve provided macros for these muffins because, dang if they aren’t healthy little bundles of goodness – some protein, healthy fats, and fibre!

Macros are based on average values for all ingredients.  I have based these on the use of coconut sugar and almond milk in the recipe.  If you use another sweetener (or fruit as a replacement), and/or a different type of milk, the macros will change of course.  However, it’s all good.  The macros are really just indicative anyway.

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Filed under All Recipe Posts, Breakfast, Fruit, Muffins, Protein, Special Diet

Cocoa Raspberry Protein Cupcakes … once more with feeling

Hey CCM, didn’t you recently post a recipe for raspberry chocolate brownies?

Yes, I did.

So, what gives?

Well, some people just LOVE chocolate and raspberries but are following some rather strict dietary rules.  Maybe they eat according to specific dietary principles as a way of life, or because they have set themselves fat loss and/or lean muscle gain targets as part of their fitness goals.  I am in the latter group although, heck it’s a hard slog sometimes.  Temptation lurks around every corner.  I got a few requests for a treat that fits with the low-fat and reasonably low carb treat that also provides some decent protein but has that universally loved combo of raspberries and chocolate.

Also, it’s chocolate … and raspberries.   Can you really have too much?   The universe says NO.

So, I’m revisiting raspberries and chocolate again … once more with feeling 😀

I’m also conscious that a considerable number of my posts have chocolate leanings.  Affiliations.  Bias, you might say.  Well, duh.  I love my chocolate.  But here’s the thing.  The next few posts are probably going to be chocolate free.  Not for health reasons, but just because I have a list of things I’d like to bake now that it’s springtime.  Run for the hills, chocolate lovers … but I digress.

WARNING:  awesome healthy protein snack alert!

My goal here was to make something that provided some decent protein without being too heavy on the carbs but, importantly, were low in fat and a light snack that won’t weigh you down.  The inspiration is flourless chocolate cupcakes that rise and fall when they bake and cool and have a gooey, moist centre with a rich chocolately flavour and the sweet-tart explosion of raspberry goodness.  I think I’ve succeeded here.

A big thank you to one of my trainers, Anna from Wild Fitness, for being my taste tester in this experiment 🙂

These are great on their own but I love them topped with protein fluff.  Berry protein fluff would make the most sense and probably the best fit but I had them with mango fluff and WOW, they were good.  The best part is you have the little crater at the top of each cake in which the protein fluff sits rather snugly in a little mound.  Also great with some yoghurt or whatever takes your fancy … more raspberries?  Excellent.  More chocolate in the form of a choc-hazelnut spread?  DIVINE.  I store them in the refrigerator and they are brilliant straight from the fridge – the texture is really like a flourless chocolate cake.

Anna made a great suggestion, and I agree:  how magnificent would they be with the addition of some cacao nibs or chopped chocolate?  Unbearably good, I imagine.  Might do that next time  😉

A word of warning for the sugar junkies … they are not very sweet.  If, like me, you have cacao running through your veins, this is bliss because it makes the chocolate flavour much more intense (and I love the tartness of raspberries).  Definitely one for the dedicated chocolate diehards.   But, if you’re addicted to sugar, add some more maple syrup or a little brown sugar or whatever sweetener takes your fancy.  Taste the batter before you fold in the egg whites and adjust accordingly.

Don’t they look kinda cool too?  Like proper little cakes.  I’m convinced that you don’t have to sacrifice flavour and good natural ingredients to accommodate treats in a healthy diet.

Just because it’s healthy, doesn’t mean it can’t also be downright civilised.  Enjoy the unbearable lightness of being chocolate! 😀


Makes 12 / Serves 6

Ingredients
1 egg
120 grams non-fat quark (< 0.1% fat)
95 grams non-fat plain or Greek style yoghurt
25 grams unsweetened cacao (dutch process or organic raw)
35 grams pea protein (unflavoured, vanilla, or chocolate)
15 grams coconut flour
30 millilitres (2 tablespoons) pure vanilla bean paste
40 grams 100% pure maple syrup*
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of sea salt
110 grams egg whites (about 3)
150 grams raspberries (fresh or frozen)

*I’ve used maple syrup as it is lower in carbohydrates than honey and most sugars.  It is also suitable for anyone for whom fructose might cause discomfort.  As mentioned above, if you like your snacks sweet, you might want to increase the amount or substitute your preferred sweetener.

Note also that I’ve used PEA PROTEIN again here.  I’ve had a few questions about pea protein and why I don’t use whey for baking.  I do use whey sometimes but always with pea protein.  This is because whey protein tends to dry baked goods out a good deal more and the resulting texture is usually not as good.  You can try substituting some of the pea protein with whey, but if you do, use a whey concentrate or a mix of whey and casein.  Do not use whey protein isolate as this will be even more drying and can add bitterness.  You really don’t want that.

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 170℃.   Line a 12-muffin pan with cupcake liners and set aside.

Combine the egg, quark, yoghurt in a large bowl and whisk together until light and creamy.  Add the remaining ingredients, except for the egg whites.  Beat until the batter is smooth.

In a separate bowl, with clean beaters or whisk, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks.

Gently fold the raspberries into the cake batter, taking care not to break up the raspberries much.  You want to have whole pieces of fruit when you bite into the cakes.  Finally, gently fold through the beaten egg whites until no streaks remain.

Divide the batter among the prepared cupcake molds.

Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes.  I baked them for 20 minutes as I think this produces a better result with a slightly more gooey centre.  It will depend largely on your oven though.

Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.  Note, they will rise like the little troopers they are and then they will fall again in the centre when the cool.  Like little flourless chocolate cakes.  Gooey centre, check.  Moist, check.  Raspberry goodness explosions, check check check!

I store extras in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days.

Nutritional Profile

The following is based on the recipe above and shows that there is no great difference whether you use organic raw cacao or Dutch process.  For the record, I used Valrhona dutch process this time as I’m saving my raw cacao for smoothies.

I have not accounted for any added extras including extra sweeteners or chocolate chips, cacao nibs etc.

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Filed under All Recipe Posts, Chocolate, Fruit, Protein, Protein Cakes, Special Diet