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Happy Women’s Day, my dear bloggers!
Today we celebrate the achievements of women all over the world and from all walks of life – from the dedicated homemaker to the independent career woman – who deserve to be honored for their significant contribution in shaping our present and future. As a spouse, daughter, sister, mother, co-worker or friend, a woman has an influential role in society, which is still unfortunately not acknowledged by many. While issues of gender bias and abuse persist at large, we still hesitate to take steps to raise awareness and empower women to recognize and stand up for their rights.
This year’s campaign theme, Be Bold for Change, aims at bringing the contribution of male and female to equal value and closing the gender gap but is it an impossible dream? We are always under constant pressure to comply with the norms society imposes on us that we fail to express our true selves. I deem myself lucky to have escaped this coercion, having always been free to speak my mind and do what I feel right. Today, I choose to be bold and take some time out for myself. To recover from my horrible period cramps and post viral symptoms and to bake a simple chocolate cake from Nigella Lawson, one of my baking inspirations and a remarkably gifted woman.
CHOCOLATE OLIVE OIL CAKE
50g cocoa powder, sifted
125 ml boiling water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
150g ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch kitchen salt
150 ml regular olive oil
200g white caster sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 170°C/325ºF. Grease a 23 cm/9-inch spring form cake tin with a little oil.
- Line the base of the tin with baking parchment. Measure and sift the cocoa powder in a bowl.
- Whisk the boiling water into the cocoa till you have a smooth and chocolatey but runny paste.
- Whisk in vanilla extract, set aside to cool. Combine ground almonds with baking soda and salt.
- Put sugar, olive oil and eggs in a mixer with paddle attachment, beat vigorously for 3 minutes.
- You should have a pale-primrose, aerated and thickened cream. Turn the speed down a little.
- Pour in cocoa mixture. When all is scraped in, slowly tip in the ground almonds and scrape it.
- Stir it a little with a spatula. Pour batter into the prepared tin. Bake cake for 40 to 45 minutes.
- Bake until the sides are set and the centre on top still looks slightly damp. Cool for 10 minutes.
- Serve the chocolate cake cut into thin slices with vanilla ice cream, like a pudding. Serves 8-10.
Nigella’s Olive Oil Chocolate Cake
These must be the best madeleines I must have baked till date with a perfect light and airy texture and a gorgeous nutty hint of browned butter I had almost forgotten. The acquisition of a new madeleine pan for Christmas was purely accidental; I could not resist buying one after setting eyes on the matte black tray in Super U. To test my brand new bake ware, there was no more persuasive recipe than these Christmas-inspired cakes, flavored with gingerbread spices, from the Kitchy Kitchen. My first batch got hopelessly stuck to the ungreased pan though it ended up as a delicious crumb topping over vanilla flecked ice cream and crème Chantilly as my impromptu Christmas lunch dessert. The second try yielded far better results after I went a bit more cautious and coated the pan with a liberal amount of baking spray but I decided against dipping them in the molasses glaze, favoring a dusting of icing sugar for the final look.
9 tablespoons browned butter
2 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
1 large pinch kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoons ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
For the Molasses Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
3 tablespoons whole milk
- Brush the indentations of a madeleine mold with melted butter. Dust with flour, tap off any excess.
- Place in the fridge. In the bowl of a standing mixer (or with an electric hand mixer), whip the eggs.
- Add sugar, salt, and vanilla and beat well for 5 minutes until the mixture turns pale and thickened.
- Whisk together the flour, spices, and baking powder and carefully fold in flour with rubber spatula.
- Drizzle browned butter into the batter, little at a time, while simultaneously folding to incorporate.
- Fold until all the butter is incorporated. Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Meanwhile make the glaze by mixing all ingredients until smooth.
- Plop enough batter in the center of each mold to fill it by three quarter full but do not spread batter.
- Bake for 9 to 10 minutes until cakes just feel set, they should bounce back when pressed with finger.
- Remove from the oven and tilt the madeleines out onto a cooling rack. Cool it to room temperature.
- When they are cool enough to handle, dip each into glaze, turning over so that both sides are coated.
- Scrape off any excess and rest them on the cooking rack, scalloped side up, until the glaze firms up.
If you have a liking for sweet spices, I have a feeling you might get seriously hitched to this lightly spiced milkshake from Delicious, which blends cinnamon and ginger into a refreshing ice-cold beverage they have rightly named as ‘gingerbread milkshake’. My biscuit crumbs unfortunately did not hold up well against the glass rims as I was far too impatient to wait for the decorative edge to set in the fridge before I could fill them up with thick, creamy shake full of festive flavors. As we hit the full blast of summer heat this December, this would be my drink of choice to slurp over on a lazy afternoon as I wrap gifts and hampers for others to discover under the Christmas tree.
10 ginger thin biscuits
1/4 cup (90g) honey
4 scoops vanilla ice cream
1L (4 cups) whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons golden syrup
Cinnamon quills, to serve
- Whiz the ginger biscuits to fine crumbs in food processor, then transfer the crumbs to a plate.
- Place the honey on a separate plate. Dip the rim of 4 serving glasses in honey, then in crumbs.
- Chill to firm up. Place remaining ingredients, except cinnamon quills, in a blender and blend.
- Blend till smooth and pour into glasses. Decorate with cinnamon quills and serve immediately.
Inspired by Delicious.com, I made this spectacular yet incredibly easy dessert cake to celebrate my brother’s birthday. It requires almost no effort but loads of patience for it takes hours for the ice cream layer to set until it is firm enough to be unmolded safely. I love the tropical combination of flavors which combines coconut flakes, fresh mango and toasted macadamia nuts in this special celebration cake to give it a vibrant summer touch. It does get a tad messy to serve, so be sure to get your cake out of the freezer only when you are ready to blow the birthday candles.
MANGO COCONUT MACADAMIA ICE CREAM CAKE
1 cup (90g) desiccated coconut
270ml can coconut cream
1L vanilla frozen yoghurt or ice cream
1 cup (150g) macadamia nuts
90g scotch finger biscuits
60g unsalted butter, melted, cooled
3/8 cup (80g) caster sugar
1 large lime, juiced to give 50ml
2 mangoes, sliced into long thin strips
Coconut flakes, to serve
- Grease and line the base and sides of one 18-cm spring form cake pan with baking paper.
- Using a stand mixer, beat the desiccated coconut and coconut cream until well combined.
- Add the frozen yogurt or ice cream and beat the mixture on low speed until well combined.
- Immediately cover the pan with plastic wrap, freeze for at least 5 hours or overnight till set.
- Preheat oven to 200C. Place macadamias on baking tray and roast for 8 minutes till golden.
- Keep aside 1/4 cup (35g) nuts to garnish the cake, place remaining nuts in a food processor.
- Add the biscuits and pulse them to fine crumbs. Add butter and whiz until well combined.
- Spread crumb mixture over the top of the set ice cream cake and press it into an even layer.
- Cover cakes with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 1 hour to set or until ready to assemble.
- To make syrup, place sugar and 1/4 cup (60ml) water in small saucepan over medium heat.
- Stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring it to a simmer and cook, without stirring, for 8 minutes.
- Carefully add lime juice to the golden caramel and remove from heat. Allow caramel to cool.
- Chill until ready to serve. To assemble, remove cake from pan and peel away baking paper.
- Top the cake with macadamias, mango and coconut flakes and drizzle it with lime caramel.
Tropical Flavours on a Birthday Cake