June 19, 2013


black forest cake1 I was wanting to make a cake for my friend Elizabeth who has to have a gluten free diet and decided to have a look in one of my favourite baking books, “Gorgeous Cakes” by Annie Bell.  Although it is not specifically a gluten free recipe book, a lot of the recipes are just that.

Anyway, I flipped the pages and the book fell open at a recipe that is not only gluten free but also described as “guilt free”.

black forest cake1a black forest cake1b

This is apparently because it has no butter or cream in it. 

As you can see, mine looks nothing at all like the picture in the book.  This is actually because the “cream” topping in the picture is in fact ricotta cheese and mine turned out to be extremely runny.  It ran off the top of the cake, taking the grated chocolate with it !!  The topping also has honey in it instead of icing sugar, which presumably makes it less indulgent and therefore making one feel less guilty about that second or third slice…...

black forest cake2 black forest cake3

Considering there is no flour or butter in the cake, it rose amazingly well, all the rise coming from the whisking of the eggs to give lift to the ground almonds.

black forest cake4

The original guilt free recipe isn’t exactly for a black forest cake.  At the last minute I decided to add some black cherry jam to the filling and put some cherries on top for decoration.  I think it needed the jam.  Without it the cake would have been quite bland I think.

Also I’m not too sure about the ricotta cheese filling/topping.  It’s actually a mixture of ricotta and honey, whizzed together in the food processor.  I wasn’t sure if more whizzing would make the ricotta mixture thicker or thinner so I stopped whizzing as soon as it was blended.  It tasted nice enough but was very runny – some may think the cake looks better with the topping running down the sides – I always feel a lot better if it looks more like the picture in the book !!

black forest cake6 However, I would definitely make this cake again.  The good rise and the moist chocolateyness made it a lovely cake for a gluten free diet.

Next time I might try making the ricotta topping before the cake and putting it in the fridge to thicken up.  Or maybe I might just sacrifice some of its healthy properties and fill it with double cream or a cream cheese filling !!

Tea_Time_Treatrs_logo As this month’s Tea Time Treats challenge is for “layer cakes”, I think this cake just about qualifies and just about sneaks in - in the nick of time !! The challenge is the work of Kate of What Kate Baked and Karen of Lavender and Lovage and you can see the details here.

randomrecipesAs the cake was also a random selection and a healthy one (well at least until I added the black cherry jam!), it fits in (hopefully) with Dom’s Random Recipe Challenge at Belleau Kitchen this month, which is for “Healthy and Happy”.  You can see the details here.


4 medium eggs, separated

150g caster sugar

3 tblsp cocoa powder

225g ground almonds

1tsp gluten free baking powder

2 x 250g tubs of ricotta cheese

3 tblsp set honey

approx half a jar of black cherry jam

approx 4 tblsp grated dark chocolate

a few fresh cherries to decorate (optional)


Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180° fan / gas mk 4.  Grease and line the base of a deep 20cm springform cake tin.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites stiffly using an electric whisk.  In a larger bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and creamy.

Fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture in three goes until well combined.  Then sift in the cocoa and baking powder.  Add the ground almonds and fold in.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and level the top.  Bake for 35 minutes until the cake shrinks back from the sides of the tin slightly and passes the skewer test.

Run a knife round the edge of the cake and leave to cool in the tin.

To make the filling, drain the liquid from the ricotta then blitz in a food processor with the honey until well combined.

Remove the cake from the tin and carefully cut into two layers using a bread knife.  Put one half on a cake stand or plate and spread generously with the jam.  Add about half of the cheese topping and put the second layer on top.

Spread the remaining cheese topping over the cake and sprinkle with grated chocolate.  Add a few fresh cherries to decorate.  Chill in the fridge for an hour or so before serving.

Cuts into 10-12 slices.  Keep in the fridge but leave out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.

June 14, 2013


forgotten cookies1 I was looking at a couple of spare eggs in the egg basket late one evening and remembered this recipe which I had seen on the Good Food website a while ago.

The “late one evening” bit is the point, as these are essentially little meringues which you whisk up and put in the oven, then you turn the oven off and can leave them or “forget about them” until the next day.

forgotten cookies2As far as I can remember, this is the first time I have ever made a meringue, other than the sort you would put on top of a lemon meringue pie.  They turned out well, crisp on the outside and chewy inside, with nice little bits of nut and chocolate to surprise you as they melt on the tongue.  I also liked their rather rustic appearance and they are of course gluten free.

forgotten cookies3Some of them had nice hard, dry bottoms, which is how they should be I think.  Others were a bit gooey on the bottom and more difficult to remove from the baking sheet without falling apart.

I suspect this might be due to the efficiency of my fan oven in my French kitchen, which is newer than the one back home by about ten years.  I wonder if the fan that comes on to cool the oven down when you switch it off was too effective and cooled the oven too quickly.  I believe this oven has an option to turn the fan off so next time I make them I will see if I can find the instruction book (and understand the French text) and give that a try.

forgotten cookies4And I will definitely make them again.  I used a pack of Sainsbury’s Belgian chocolate chips and pecan nuts but I might try white chocolate and almonds next.  I also fancy making them even smaller so they could be served with an after dinner coffee.  Posh, eh ??!!


2 large egg whites

pinch of salt

120g caster sugar

120g pecan nuts, roughly chopped

150g dark chocolate, roughly chopped, or chocolate chips

1tsp vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160°fan / gas mk 4.  Line two baking sheets with foil.

Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff. 

Whisk in the sugar a little at a time.

Fold in the nuts, chocolate and vanilla essence.

Drop heaped teaspoons of the mixture onto the baking sheets, spaced 2-3 cm apart.  Put them into the oven and turn it off.  Forget about them for at least three hours, or until the oven is completely cold, or overnight.

Makes 30-35 cookies and they keep well for a few days in an airtight tin.

June 5, 2013


I make these little tarts every so often and they’re a good way of making something rather tasty from whatever happens to be left over and lurking in the fridge.  I first wrote about them here.


For these I used one leek, a bit of Morteau sausage, some spinach and grated Emmental cheese.

Basically, you cut some ready-made, ready-rolled puff pastry into circles about the right size to line a muffin tin, add some savoury filling in the bottom, pour over an eggy mixture and bake.

miniquiche2 These looked great and would have done very well as a starter for a casual lunch or dinner party. It was the first time I had tried the smoked sausage and leek combination and it worked very well – they were very tasty.  The variations are endless: smoked salmon with asparagus, bacon and broccoli – just use your imagination and whatever you have to hand for the filling.

One with some crudités makes a nice starter.  Two with some salad makes a nice lunch.  One or two with chips and coleslaw makes a very indulgent treat.

Ingredients (for six mini tarts or quiches)

1 pack of ready-made, ready-rolled puff pastry (pâte feuilletée)

2-3 thick slices of saucisse de morteau, or other smoked sausage

1 small leek, washed, trimmed and very thinly sliced

butter, oil or Flora Cuisine for frying

a few leaves of spinach

a handful of grated Emmental cheese, or cheddar, Parmesan, or thin slices of Brie or goat’s cheese.

2 eggs

a tablespoon or two of crème fraîche or double cream

about ¼pint milk


Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180°fan / gas mk 4.

Unroll the pastry and cut it into circles big enough to line the holes of a 6-hole muffin tin.  I used an empty jam jar as a template and cut around the top of it for each tart.  Press each piece of pastry into the muffin tin.

Cut the slices of sausage into small dice.   Heat some butter, oil or Flora Cuisine in a small frying pan and add the sausage and leek.  Fry gently until the leek is tender, about 5 minutes.

Divide the sausage and leek between the six tarts.  Rip the spinach into small pieces and add to the tarts.  Sprinkle the cheese over the top or put a thin slice of goat’s cheese or brie on top of each one.

Put the eggs into a measuring jug with the cream or crème fraîche.  Beat together then add enough milk to make up to about ½pint.  Mix together and pour gently into the tarts.  Do not overfill.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden and firm.  Allow to cool slightly before serving.  (The filling will be puffed up when you take the tarts out of the oven but will settle back down on cooling.)