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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

Ingredients:

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

Method:

  • 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

To start the new year on a healthy note, along with some serious health-conscious resolutions to make more informed food choices and to favour homemade as far as possible, I share with you this amazingly easy granola. With its blend of nutritious unprocessed ingredients, it makes a very satisfying meal for breakfast, served with low fat Greek yogurt and organic dark chocolate. I scaled down the recipe from Yummy Healthy Easy to make 2.5 cups, which is to be stored in an air-tight container and might well last over a week even if you plan to eat granola daily as your morning intake of carbs and nutrients. I would hereby like to wish a very Happy New Year to all my readers! May 2017 bring us yet more delicious recipes to blog about and more mouth-watering photos to upload and share on this space.

HEALTHY HOMEMADE GRANOLA

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats

1/2 cup sliced raw almonds

1/4 cup shredded coconut

1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds

1 1/2 teaspoon flaxseed

1 1/2 teaspoon wheat germ

1/8 cup coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup honey or maple syrup

Greek yogurt, to serve

Raspberries and strawberries

Chopped dark chocolate

 

Method:

  • Mix first 6 ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Melt coconut oil in the microwave for about 30 seconds.

 

  • Add the honey to coconut oil and combine. Pour this over oat mixture and stir to coat everything well.

 

  • Spread into an even layer on a cookie sheet and bake granola at 325 degrees for about 15-16 minutes.

 

  • Stir it gently and let bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Leave the granola to cool.

  

  • Store in an airtight container. When ready to assemble, place the yogurt in bottom of serving glasses.

 

  • Add a layer of granola over the yogurt, then top with chopped dark chocolate and whole fresh berries.

  

Happy New Year 2017!

Christmas to me is the ultimate baking season and there is nothing that says it better than homemade cookies. As I set about discovering and experimenting with new cookie recipes for this year’s festivities, I came across this dainty little holiday treat, which is very popular in Nordic countries like Denmark and Germany. Pfeffernüsse, richly infused with the aroma of freshly ground spices, is not as complicated as it sounds though it may take a few trips to the spice aisle of your local supermarket to get all the spices that go in its making.

The recipe, from Daring Gourmet, also guides you through the making of Lebkuchengewürz, the German gingerbread spice mixture that definitely beats any of those store-bought bottled stuff you might think of using. The complexity of flavors in this particular mix gives Pfeffernüsse its deep characteristic quality which improves considerably as they sit around in the cookie jar waiting to be eaten or packed as edible gifts with lots of cellophane and fancy ribbon. The sugar glaze gives a lovely sophisticated bakery-style finish but feel free to omit if you are keeping close count on your calorie intake this December.

PFEFFERNUSSE

Ingredients:

For the Lebkuchengewürz/ Gingerbread Spice

2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground green cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground star anise

1/4 teaspoon ground mace

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the Pfeffernüsse Cookie Dough

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kitchen salt

2 teaspoons homemade Lebkuchengewürz

1/4 teaspoon finely ground white pepper

1/4 cup ground almonds/almond meal

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup pure honey

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons heavy cream

1 large egg, room temperature

For the Sugar Glaze

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

4 tablespoons hot water

Method:

  • To make Lebkuchengewuerz, combine the spices together and store in an airtight jar in a cool, dark place.
  • This mixture will keep for up to one year but using the freshly ground blend within a few days is optimal.

  • For superior flavor result, make the Lebkuchengewuerz mixture by grinding the spices from whole spices.
  • In a small bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, baking soda, salt, ground white pepper and almond meal.

  • Add 2 teaspoons homemade Lebkuchengewuerz to the mixture, mix till it is homogenous and set it aside.
  • Combine the brown sugar, honey, butter, and cream in a medium saucepan and heat, stirring frequently.

  • Stir until melted and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes. Stir in flour mixture.
  • Once incorporated stir in the egg until thoroughly combined. The dough should have a nice glossy sheen.

  • It will be very sticky. Turn mixture out onto plastic wrap; wrap dough tightly and refrigerate it overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove dough from the plastic wrap and immediately roll into two strands.

  • Each strand should be about ¾ inch thick. Slice into ¾ inch thick rounds and roll each round into a ball.
  • Each ball should be about ¾ inch large. Work quickly while dough is chilled and place on a cookie sheet.

  • Bake cookies for 15 minutes or till golden brown. Remove and let cookies cool completely on a wire rack.
  • To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar and water till it is smooth. Dip each cookie in the glaze.

  • Let them sit until the sugar glaze is fully hardened. Store the cookies in airtight container in a cool place.
  • Cookies will keep for at least 2 weeks and the flavor only gets better over time. Makes about 50 cookies.

Pfeffernüsse – German Iced Gingerbread Cookies

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PrerrnaMirchi
Mauritius

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