Thursday, 19 January 2017

Olive Oil Brownies with Strawberry Puree

Chocolate brownies made with olive oil and sweetened with strawberry puree

These are my healthier take on brownies. Actually they are my second version of healthier brownies, as I had made a blender version a couple of years back.

They contained dates and coconut butter. These ones are slightly different in that the fat comes from olive oil and the sweetness is from pureed strawberries and some stevia sweetener.

Chocolate brownies made with olive oil and sweetened with strawberry puree

These are quite a chocolatey tasting brownie, which I know may be a strange thing to say about chocolate brownies, but what I mean is they are not too sweet and taste more of earthy cocoa. The olive oil adds another earthy element too, making them overall a dessert more suited to adult palates.

Chocolate brownies made with olive oil and sweetened with strawberry puree


If you don't have too sweet a tooth, then these will be perfect for you. But if you do, they would be great served warm with some sweet ice cream or frozen yoghurt.

So we have brownies with no refined sugars, just blitzed strawberries (which you don't taste in the final dish) and some stevia natural sweetener. And of course the olive oil is a slightly healthier fat to incorporate.

Chocolate brownies made with olive oil and sweetened with strawberry puree


When choosing an olive oil, go for one which isn't too strongly flavoured as the taste will definitely come through. At the bottom of the post is an infographic, provided by Jamie's Italian, which may just help in your buying of the product and deciding which flavour is right for you.

Chocolate brownies made with olive oil and sweetened with strawberry puree




print recipe

Olive Oil Brownies with Strawberry Puree
Chocolate brownies made with olive oil and sweetened with strawberry puree
Ingredients
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 125 ml olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 150 grams plain flour
  • 50 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 200 grams hulled strawberries
  • 2 sachets of stevia sweetener
Instructions
In a bowl whisk together the eggs, olive oil and vanilla.Puree the hulled strawberries in a blender and add to the egg and oil mix.Sift in the flour, cocoa, stevia and salt.Pre-heat the oven to 180C (160C fan) and line a 8"x8" tin with greaseproof paper.Pour the brownie batter into the pan and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the centre.Allow to cool then cut into squares.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 16 squares approx.




Disclosure Statement: I have been paid for featuring the above infographic. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Blueberry Coconut and Maple Granola Bars

Granola bars with oats, maple syrup, coconut oil coconut sugar and dried blueberries.


These blueberry coconut and maple granola bars are possibly the tastiest ‘heathy’ treat I have made on the blog so far.

As its January I do like to make a few more healthier treats than usual and these granola bars were born out of my love for blueberries, such a sweet and deceptively nutritious fruit, maple syrup – super sweet but with so many health benefits going on if you get REAL maple and coconut which was the superfood which everyone was raving about a couple of years ago.

Granola bars with oats, maple syrup, coconut oil coconut sugar and dried blueberries.

The bars use coconut oil and coconut sugar for the coconut elements. Coconut sugar apparently is a low GI food. If you can’t get hold of coconut sugar in your local health food store, you can buy this easily online.

Granola bars with oats, maple syrup, coconut oil coconut sugar and dried blueberries.


To make the bars I toasted some oats and chopped pecans in the oven for a few minutes. I then melted together coconut oil, maple syrup, coconut sugar and vanilla in a saucepan.

Granola bars with oats, maple syrup, coconut oil coconut sugar and dried blueberries.


The toasted ingredients were then doused in the slightly cooled melted mix. This was such a satisfying process, watching the dried oats absorb all of the sweet smelling liquid.

Lastly I mixed through the dried blueberries before transferring the mix to a small container lined with greaseproof paper. I pressed down HARD on the oaty mix to make sure everything was compressed as much as it could be.

Granola bars with oats, maple syrup, coconut oil coconut sugar and dried blueberries.


This was then fridged for at least a couple of hours before being chopped up into bars.

The result was a sweet, sweet bar of oaty goodness. The coconut flavour dominated with the maple notes in the background complimenting the juicy bursts of blueberry. The bars are packed with so many good ingredients and would provide you with a good amount of energy. Or, they just taste exceedingly delicious as a coffee-break snack.

Here's how I made them:



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Blueberry Coconut and Maple Granola Bars
Toasted oats and pecans mixed with coconut oil, coconut sugar, maple syrup and dried blueberries
  • 230 grams porridge oats
  • 80 grams chopped pecans
  • 80 ml pure maple syrup
  • 55 grams coconut oil
  • 50 grams coconut sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 60 grams dried blueberries
Instructions
Preheat the oven to 150C and line a large baking sheet with greaseproof paper. Scatter on the oats and chopped pecans and toast in the oven for about 10 minutes or just until you begin to smell the oats and they have turned lightly golden brown. Allow to cool slightly.In a large saucepan add the maple syrup, coconut oil, coconut sugar, vanilla and salt. Stir over a medium heat until the ingredients have melted and come together.Place the toasted oats and pecans in a large bowl and pour over the melted ingredients. Stir to combine so all the dried ingredients are coated with the wet.Stir through the dried blueberries then transfer the mix to a container about 5”x7” in size, lined with greaseproof paper.Press the mix down as firmly as you can, all over. This will ensure the bars don’t crumble too much when cut into bars.Pop in the fridge for at least 2 hours, and then remove from the greaseproof paper and cut into bars or squares.
Details
Prep time: Chill time: Total time: Yield: 24 bars approx.



Granola bars with oats, maple syrup, coconut oil coconut sugar and dried blueberries.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Hummingbird Bliss Balls

dried pineapple, banana, dates, coconut and cinnamon in little balls of energy

This  month is all about clean eating following on from all the Christmas festivities.

We are just back from a weekend break to London and I have to admit our clean eating only really started when we got back. We love to go down the capital city this time of year as January is a bit of a pants month I find. A wee trip to London just sets us off in the right mood.

And now that we are back it is a healthy eating regimen (no diets, I hate that word) and a bit more exercise.

dried pineapple, banana, dates, coconut and cinnamon in little balls of energy


To help in the exercise department, I made these bliss bites to give a much needed boost of energy before or after a workout.

They are designed to taste just like hummingbird cake, you know, with pineapple, banana, coconut and cinnamon. But instead of the butter, sugar and flour, we have dried pineapple, desiccated coconut, dried banana, coconut oil, cinnamon and some other ingredients to give a healthy, but tasty take on it.

dried pineapple, banana, dates, coconut and cinnamon in little balls of energy

I used my Optimum 9400 blender from Froothie which powered through the sticky mass of ingredients. The result was a sticky ‘dough’ which I shaped into little discs and dusted in the desiccated coconut.

dried pineapple, banana, dates, coconut and cinnamon in little balls of energy


I chilled them before giving them a try just so everything sets nicely. The balls, or whatever shape you choose to make them in, taste just like the cake and are perfect for a delicious, tasty infused, not too sinful treat.

Here’s how I made them.


(Dried pineapple and banana can be bought from health food shops, but you can also buy them easily online.)



print recipe

Hummingbird Bliss Balls
Dried pineapple and banana pulsed together into little balls of bliss
Ingredients
  • 125 grams dried pineapple
  • 120 grams dried banana
  • 55 grams chopped, stoned dates
  • 25 grams coconut oil
  • 15 grams milled chia seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • desiccated coconut
Instructions
In a blender place all of the ingredients except the desiccated coconut.Blitz until all the ingredients come together in a sticky mass.Remove from the blender and roll into tablespoon sized balls.Enjoy!Roll each ball in desiccated coconut.Refrigerate for a couple of hours until ready to enjoy.
Details
Prep time: Chill time: Total time: Yield: 16 balls approx.


I'm entering these treats into this month's Treat Petite hosted by Kat at The Baking Explorer, and this month by me!



Disclosure Statement: I was sent the blender free to review. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Healthy Treats to Kickstart 2017


Happy New Year! I hope you have enjoyed the festivities over the past few weeks as much as I have. Like me however, you may be feeling the excesses of too much chocolates and booze. I am dreading heading back to work and fastening my trousers...

Something I like to do on the blog in January is offer a few healthier alternatives to treats to inspire any new streamlined eating regime ( I hate the word 'diet') you may be adopting.

I will be bringing you new treats soon, but in the meantime, I have had a look through my archives and came up with 10 of the most popular healthier recipes I have featured.

1. Key Lime Pie Smoothie

This smoothie is designed to detox and tastes just like, well kind of like, a key lime pie. Packed with healthful spinach, limes, almond milk and banana, this really is a super sweet smoothie you can feel food about.

Key Lime Pie Smoothie

2, Raw Coconut 'Fudge'

This isn't fudge in the traditional sense, but it goes some way to satisfying that gap. A very simple ingredient, which I whizzed up in my Froothie Optimum 9400 blender , it features just a handful of ingredients. Simply whizz up coconut, dates, vanilla and a pinch of salt to achieve this deceptively rich tasting sweet, it tastes just as good as regular fudge.

raw coconut fudge

3. Cherry Bakewell Energy Bites

I love picking up bags of dried fruit on my travels and when I came across a huge bag of dried cherries, this inspired the recipe here for something which tastes just like cherry bakewell, but is packed with energy and nothing too bad. Ideal for taking on a long walk with you.

cherry bakewell energy bites

4. Apricot and Goji Berry Balls

Again, inspired by dried fruits, these balls of pure energy feature bright orange dried apricots and flame coloured goji berries which I whizzed up in my blender to make these day-glo sweet healthy treats.

Apricot and Goji Berry Balls

5. Strawberry and Kiwi Bliss Balls

I kept seeing Bliss Balls in health shops, only to discover that is what I have really been making all along - dried fruits, some nuts and a few other ingredients blitzed up to provide a tasty, not too sinful, sweet treat. Who knew you could get dried kiwi? I found it in my local Chinese supermarket and knew it would pair well with dried strawberries, dusted in coconut.

strawberry and kiwi bliss balls


I thought it would be fun to try making a smoothie sound like a cocktail and essentially came up with a cosmopolitan - minus the vodka or triple sec. It features lime juice, cranberry juice and oranges whizzed up with some almond milk to give a very refreshing drink even Carrie Bradshaw would approve of.

cosmopolitan smoothie

7. Blender Brownies

For many, those trying to eat a bit healthier means giving up chocolate. If you can't bear to part from the cocoa bean however, these heathier blender brownies may help fill the chocolaty void. These brownies have raw cacao powder in them, and a little bit of 72% dark chocolate which has been proven, in moderation, to be not too bad as it contains essential anti-oxidants. The brownie batter is made right in the blender then baked in the oven - easy!

healthier blender brownies

8. Goji Berry Granola Bars

These bars feature the goji berry, which some claim are a superfruit, plus another superfood oats. Loads of other ingredients abound in these bars such as (a small amount of chocolate chips), coconut, hazelnuts and agave nectar. These plack plenty of energy.

goji berry granola bars

9. Carrot Cake Smoothie

Similar to the Key Lime Pie Smoothie, this drink features a load of heathy ingredients and tastes just like a slice of carrot cake (almost!). Raw carrots were pulverised easily in my super Optimum 9400 blender and to these I added cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, banana and some 0% fat Greek yoghurt. Talk about having your cake and eating it.

carrot cake smoothie

10. I Can't Believe It's Not Caramel

Last up, a healthier alternative to caramel sauce, with no sugar or cream anywhere in sight. This sauce, again whizzed up in the blender, is made from a combination of dates, coconut oil and some maple syrup. Okay, it's not exactly like caramel, but for anyone trying to cut back and still wanting a sweet, buttery tasting sauce to drizzle, you really must give this a try.

healthier caramel sauce

There we have 10 healthier treats to inspire your new eating regime. No need to cut out everything sweet with these tasty ideas. Remember however, dried fruits do contain a lot of sugars, albeit it naturally occurring, so moderation is always the key.



Most of these recipes were made in the Optimum 9400 blender from Froothie which can pulverise anything and make light work of sticky substances such as some of the recipes above. I really recommend this one, compared to others on the market which are not nearly as powerful.

Some more healthy treats coming soon...

Disclosure Statement: I received the Optimum 9400 blender free to review. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Treat Petite - January 2017


Welcome to 2017 everyone. A new year and a new start for us. Pop over and have a look at the fantastic festive bakes over at The Baking Explorer. Thank you to everyone who entered.


As you might know, Treat Petite has no monthly theme now, so once again Anything Goes! You can enter anything you like, just remember the Treat Petite rules below...

Treat Petite is for all of those delicious bites, which can be individually portioned. Tray bakes are fine, cookies, cupcakes, brownies, macarons and so on. No cakes, puddings, whole loaves – you get the idea… here are those all-important guidelines:

1. Add your petite treat to the Linky Tool at the bottom of the current month's post by the 25th of the month, midnight at the latest

2. Post your bake onto your blog and link back to Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer, stating who is hosting this month

3. Follow Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer blogs on Google+ (see sidebar links), if you haven't already.

4. If you tweet use #TreatPetite and mention @MrCakeyboi and @BakingExplorer - we will retweet

5. Add the challenge logo to the post and 'Treat Petite' as a label to the post

6. Use any recipe as long as the source is noted

7. If you like, add your photo to the 'Treat Petite' Pinterest board (request access from Cakeyboi)


8. Feel free to enter old posts as long as you update the post and meet all the requirements above!

Above all else - have fun!!



Friday, 30 December 2016

Mince and Skirlie Pies

Shortcrust pastry filled with savoury steak mince and oatmeal stuffing AKA Skirlie

I bet a lot of you have eaten your fair share of mince pies over the festive season haven’t you? Crumbly pastry filled with that juicy, fruity and possibly boozy mincemeat.

This recipe however, is for an altogether different type of mince pie. It combines a couple of Scottish classic dishes – a pan of mince and skirlie.

Mince in this recipe refers to minced beef (or ground beef as it’s called elsewhere) braised in a pan with some onions and some gravy browning added to it. This is the way I make it, although there are loads of variations out there.

braised steak mince with onion and gravy browning.

In Scotland a pan of mince is traditionally paired with mashed potatoes to give the dish called mince and tatties. Not the most exciting sounding cuisine admittedly but it is a hearty meal, perfect on a cold night.

The skirlie part of it is another Scottish dish – made from oatmeal, onions, suet and some unknown seasoning. If you’re familiar with a white pudding from the chip shop, skirlie is like the inside of that. Bought from the butcher, we tend to have skirlie on Christmas day as a side dish, it can be used as stuffing also in poultry. It is difficult to describe the taste, but it’s very savoury and has great texture.

oatmeal stuffing

I had the idea for making these pies when planning what I would make for the Christmas buffet at work the other week. I was making the gingerbread layer cake I took in, but wanted to take in something savoury also.

These Mince and Skirlie Pies would be perfect and easy to make. I made a pan of mince, slightly thicker than I would normally, along with a pan of skirlie (you just pop this in a frying pan and the fat melts down and gently fried the oatmeal).

Shortcrust pastry filled with savoury steak mince and oatmeal stuffing AKA Skirlie

I then took some shop-bought ready rolled shortcrust pastry and cut out circles about 4-5 inches in diameter. I spooned on around a tablespoon of the mince in the middle of the pastry circle, topped with a tablespoon of skirlie. I pulled up the sides of the circle to form a pie, leaving a little gap at the top for any steam to escape. They almost looked like little purses, or santa sacks.

Shortcrust pastry filled with savoury steak mince and oatmeal stuffing AKA Skirlie


I made some in a muffin tin too, with an open top which you will see in the photo at the top and below. I ran out of pastry and used scraps to line the muffin tin ‘cups’ with.

I brushed the pastry with an egg wash and baked them in the oven until they were golden brown in colour. The insides are already cooked, so you are really just baking the pastry and heating the insides.

Shortcrust pastry filled with savoury steak mince and oatmeal stuffing AKA Skirlie


For the pies which looked like little purses or sacks, I got a bit fancy and tied a chive around the top, but that is of course entirely optional and unnecessary!!

Shortcrust pastry filled with savoury steak mince and oatmeal stuffing AKA Skirlie

These would make ideal party food at a Hogmanay bash (or New Year’s Eve party if you’re not in Scotland). Here’s how to make them… (there will be leftover mince and skirlie with this, so you could buy more pastry and make even more pies if you like).

Have a great New Year everyone!





print recipe

Mince and Skirlie Pies
Shortcrust Pastry Filled with Mince and Skirlie
Ingredients
  • 500 grams 12% fat steak mince
  • 1 white onion
  • 4 teaspoons gravy browning powder (I use Bisto)
  • 1 pack of skirlie
  • 2 sheets of ready rolled shortcrust pastry
  • 1 egg
  • Seasoning
Instructions
Dice the onion and place in a large pan with the mince. Fry, breaking up the mince with a wooden spoon, until the onions are translucent and the mince is browned.Pour some water from a boiled kettle over the mince just so it is covered.In a small jug, mix 4 teaspoons of gravy powder with 125 ml water. Add this to the pan of mice, stir it through and let the pan simmer away until slightly thickened.Make the skirlie by placing in a large frying pan or skillet and cook over a gentle heat. When the suet has melted and toasted the oats, it’s ready.Preheat the oven to 180C and line a couple of baking sheets with greaseproof paper.Unroll the sheets of pastry and cut of circles about 4 or 5 inches in diameter.Spoon a tablespoon of mince in the centre of the circle topped with a tablespoon of the skirlie. Gently bring the pastry up over the filling, pinching slightly at the top. Place on the baking sheet slightly apart.Beat the egg slightly and brush the pastry of each pie with the egg.Bake in the oven for 15 mins approximately until the pastry is golden brown.Tie with a bit of chive if being really fancy!Enjoy warm.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: 15 mins Total time: Yield: 15 Pies approx.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Gingerbread Layer Cake with Vanilla Creamy Cream Cheese Frosting

Dark gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting incorporating crushed ginger nut biscuits

It was the Christmas buffet at work the other day and as ever I opted to make a cake for the event.
I decided to tweak an old recipe I had for a light ginger cake which had golden syrup in it. What if I used treacle instead – much more like gingerbread?

And thus my gingerbread cake was born. A ‘damp’ cake full of syrupy moisture, and bursting with flavour too of course. It has tons of ground ginger and fresh ginger root – plus ginger nut biscuits – just like the gingerbread brownies I made the other week. A triple ginger whammy.

The addition of treacle really changed things up and made this eggless cake a big hit.

Dark gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting incorporating crushed ginger nut biscuits

The ginger nuts were crushed up and folded through a light creamy, cream cheese frosting, which complimented the dark, brooding interior of the cake. I also sprinkled crushed biscuits on top to decorate the cake.

Dark gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting incorporating crushed ginger nut biscuits

The cake itself comes together in a strange fashion. You melt butter, sugar, milk and treacle together and then sift in the dry ingredients stirring furiously until everything is combined.

This actually was one of the most popular cakes I think I have made - everyone was asking to take a piece for their others halfs.

Dark gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting incorporating crushed ginger nut biscuits

The buffet was a big success and the table was groaning at the weight of all the food.


Give this cake a go, at Christmastime, (or anytime really) for anyone who loves gingerbread!

Here's how I made it...



Gingerbread Layer Cake with Vanilla Creamy Cream Cheese Frosting


Thumbnail UrlGingerbread flavour layer cake with a frosting made from cream cheese, double cream, vanilla and crushed ginger nuts
Cuisine:CakeCategory:FestiveYields:1x8" layer cake
Prep Time:Cook Time:Total Time:


Ingredients
  • 350 grams unsalted butter
  • 400 grams caster sugar
  • 6 tablespoons treacle
  • 500 ml milk (any type, I used semi-skimmed)
  • 500 grams plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger root, peeled
  • 225 grams full-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 115 grams granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 500 ml double cream
  • 100 grams ginger nut biscuits
 
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan) and grease, line and flour 3 8" cake tins.
  2. In the largest saucepan you have, place the butter, caster sugar, treacle and milk. Heat gently until everything has melted together. Allow to cool slightly.
  3. Sieve the flour, ground ginger, allspice, cinnamon and bicarb directly into the saucepan.
  4. Stir until the cake batter comes together. don't overmix.
  5. Grate the fresh ginger into the batter and stir this through.
  6. Divide the batter equally between the three cake tins and bake for 20 to 25 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the centre.
  7. Allow to cool for 5 mins before removing from cake tin and cooling fully.
  8. With a hand mixer or in a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar until smooth.
  9. Add the vanilla and stir this through.
  10. Pour in the double cream and beat on high until it reaches a thick spreadable consistency.
  11. Crush the ginger nut biscuits into crumbs and add 50 grams to the frosting, stirring through.
  12. Spread frosting on one layer of the cake and place another layer on top.
  13. Repeat this process and spread the top with more frosting and bring this down the sides of the cake, covering it all over.
  14. Sprinkle the remaining crushed ginger nuts over the top and you are ready to serve.

Dark gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting incorporating crushed ginger nut biscuits

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