Thursday, August 25, 2011

Carrot Jam Recipe

Carrot jam
I had plenty of carrots in the refrigerator and I thought why not make carrot jam. I had never heard of carrot jam but why not, you have jam made from pretty much any fruit, some vegetables and even meat like bacon. An internet search revealed that carrot jam does exist. 

I noticed that there are two methods for making carrot jam. The first method is much simpler, carrots and sugar are cooked together until the jam is set. The second method requires the carrots to be first cooked in water until soft, passed through a sieve and cooked with sugar. 

I started making jam using the first easier method but it wasn’t a success. Instead of jam I ended up with ‘carrot candy’ – bits of dried carrot coated with candy. It was really delicious to eat, though it was not what I was looking for. I don’t know what I did wrong. Perhaps I chopped the carrots too finely and cooked them in syrup for too long and they dried out. I tried to rescue the failed carrot jam by separately boiling and pureeing carrots, adding to the ‘carrot candy’ and cookiing for about 5 minutes. This worked perfectly. In case you end up with carrot candy instead of carrot jam, now you know what to do.

I have presented below two versions of the recipe. I have not tried each one separately so I cannot comment on how good they are but they do come from reputable sources. If you are going to attempt the first easier method, puree the carrots as soon as they turn soft. If you don’t the carrots may turn hard and not combine well with the syrup.

Recipe 1 (Source: World Carrot Museum)
4 cups chopped carrots (chop them nice and small)
3 cups sugar (I used less sugar)
Three sliced lemons
One teaspoon cinnamon
A half teaspoon cloves

1. Add all the ingredients into a saucepan, and simmer slowly at a gentle heat. Stir constantly, especially at the earlier stages of the cooking.
2. After about 20 minutes the carrots will begin to soften, and the jam will become thick. At this point you can blend the mixture if you prefer a smooth jam
3. Cook for a further 10 minutes or until the jam has set

Recipe 2 ( Source: BBC Food Recipes)
450g/1lb carrot pulp
450g/1lb sugar
1 lemon, the grated rind of
2 lemons, the strained juice of
6 chopped bitter almonds
2 tbsp brandy

1. Cut carrots into round pieces, put them into a saucepan with sufficient water to cover them, and let them simmer until perfectly soft
2. Pass the carrot through sieve
3. Weigh the pulp, and to every 450g/1lb, allow the above ingredients
4. Put the pulp into a preserving-pan with the sugar, and let this boil for 5 minutes, stirring and skimming all the time.
5. When cold, add the lemon-rind and juice, almonds and brandy; mix these well with the jam; then put it into pots which must be well covered and kept in a dry place. The brandy may be omitted, but the preserve will then not keep; with the brandy it will keep for months
Carrot Jam

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Red wine chocolate cake with golden syrup chocolate sauce recipe

Red wine chocolate cake with golden syrup chocolate sauce
Red wine and chocolate cake – do they go well together? 

Red wine and chocolate cake brings back just one memory for me, sharing a bottle of red wine and a slice of chocolate cake with an ex. We both have a sweet tooth but we decided to share a slice of large chocolate cake. Two persons, one slice of cake, should be no problem, we will win this easily. But we were wrong, we had to throw in the towel and left the restaurant defeated. It was one of the biggest slices of chocolate cake I had ever seen. However we had no problems finishing the bottle of wine, and I think we had more afterwards, probably to drown our sorrows. 

Based on my mixed experiences with red wine and chocolate cake, I nevertheless decided to combine the two together into a cake. The result is a cake that has excellent flavor, really moist with almost a fudge like texture.

The cake has a subtle wine flavour, it is not overly strong. If you prefer the cake to have a stronger wine flavour you can increase the wine content and reduce the amount of water and oil
If you prefer the cake to be lighter you can add  1½ teaspoons of baking soda. 

Instead of making a frosting, I decided to make a lighter golden syrup chocolate sauce.
A few notes regarding some of the key ingredients used:
- many recipes use oil instead of butter. While butter has a nice flavor it is solid at room temperature while oil is not. As such using oil is likely to result in a more moist cake. Oil is 100% fat whereas butter is about 80% fat and 20% water. So if you use use the cake will have more fat, hence more moist. The water in butter will develop gluten in the flour and this will affect the texture of the cake, the crumbs will be slightly firmer. Lastly the dairy flavour in butter may marginally mute the chocolate flavour  whereas oil is more neutral.
- most recipes use water which seems unusual for a cake. The reason is that milk will downplay or mute the flavor of the chocolate. Try comparing a cocoa and water mixture with a cocoa and milk mixture. The cocoa flavor will be more profound in the water/cocoa mixture.

The recipe I used is based on Pioneer Woman’s Best Chocolate Sheet Ever, Alton Brown’s Devil's Food Cake and Hersheys "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake. Pioneer woman uses water, buttermilk and butter and Hershey’s uses water, milk and oil. I used water, wine and oil. I prefer wine, wouldn’t you also?

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
4 heaped tablespoons cocoa
1 cup oil
1 cup boiling water
½ cup wine
2 eggs, beaten
1½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the golden syrup chocolate sauce
¼ cup golden syrup
¼ cup milk
1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans. 
2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in large bowl.
3. Add eggs, wine, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer for 2 minutes
4. Stir in boiling water. The batter will be thin. Pour the batter into prepared pans.
5. Bake at 175 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. 
6. To make the sauce mix golden syrup, milk and cocoa powder.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Muesli Sesame Cookies Recipe

Muesli sesame cookies
Muesli is good for you so I thought why not turn it into cookies and you can have them guilt free. Of course it does not work that way since sugar and butter join the cookie party. Nevertheless at least a large part of the cookie is healthy, and the whole part is delicious!

These muesli sesame cookies turn out to be very crispy and light. 

If you are not a fan of sesame seeds, you can try to change your taste. If that does not work, then you can replace the sesame with either extra coconut or muesli.

The amount of sugar depends on whether the muesli is sweetened (with sugar or dried fruits) or is unsweetened.

I used half butter and half vegetable oil and the result was great. 

¾ cup flour
¾ cup muesli
¼ cup sesame seeds
¾ cup desiccated coconut
¼ - ½ cup sugar (use less if the muesli is sweetened with sugar or dried fruits)
1 teaspoon baking powder
110 grams butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

1. Cream butter and sugar until the mixture turns pale
2. Add egg and vanilla extract and mix well
3. Add shifted flour and baking powder and incorporate
4. Fold in coconut, muesli and sesame seeds
5. Place balls of dough on a greased baking tray, flatten with a fork and bake at 180C until golden brown and delicious, about 12-14 minutes.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Semolina chocolate chip cookies

Semolina chocolate chip cookies
This is a twist to the 'traditional' chocolate chip recipe. Using semolina adds more crispiness as well as a different flavour and texture.  

For the chocolate chips I used Toblerone and Marabou milk chocolate. Dark or bittersweet chocolate chips or even white chocolate chips would also work well. 

½ cup butter or oil
½ cup sugar (I used slightly less)
1 cup semolina
1 cup flour
2 cups chocolate chips 
1 large egg
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon molasses (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

1.  Heat oven to 180 degrees celcius
2.  Cream butter/oil, sugar and molasses until the mixture turns pale and the sugar has dissolved.
3.  Add egg and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly
4.  Add sifted flour, semolina and baking powder and mix well
5. Fold in the chocolate chips
6.  Place discs or small balls on a greased cookie sheet and flatten.
7.  Bake until cookies are golden brown and delicious, about 12-15 minutes

Monday, August 8, 2011

I have been tagged

I have been tagged. Today the lovely Nami from Just One Cookbook tagged me to take part in a Seven Link Challenge.  The challenge has a very interesting concept, to highlight some of your own posts and then to nominate 5 bloggers. There are only two rules:
1) publish 7 links for the categories below (1 link for each category). 
2) nominate up to 5 bloggers to take part

Here are my links.
1. The most beautiful post: ANZAC Cookies
I love ANZAC Cookies so these cookies could do with some extra publicity!  

2. The most popular post: 3-ingredient oatmeal cookies
This post has been consistently the most popular. It’s a simple recipe for a cookie that uses 3 ingredients, and cake or cookie mix is not one of them!

3. The most controversial post: Afghan Cookies
I was expecting some controversy but fortunately there was none. I made Afghan Cookies just after the Osama bin Laden incident and I made references to it in my post. Thankfully no sensitive nerves were touched.

4. The most helpful post: Here.  
A small but growing list of tips

5. The post that was surprisingly successful: Potato bread (yeast free) recipe
I was pleasantly surprised at the attention it received.

6. The post that did not get the attention it deserved: Armenian Nutmeg Cake 
This simple 2 layer cake uses an interesting concept/approach and I thought it would be more popular.

7. The post I am most proud of: Double chocolate coffee daim cookie
I really liked this cookie.

I have selected the following awesome bloggers who most recently commented on my blog:
1. Rosa’s Yummy Yums. Incidentally today is also Rosa’s 6th blog anniversary
4. ping
5. Cher

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Chocolate Semolina Cake with Salted Peanut Crumble Recipe

Chocolate Semolina Cake with Salted Peanut Crumble
I love baking with semolina. I only started recently and am getting quite comfortable with it. Semolina brings a distinct texture to cakes, cookies and other baked goods.

The chocolate semolina cake is light with a slightly grainy and crumbly texture while the crust of the cake is quite crispy. It is highly recommended that you use a plate when eating this cake unless you don’t mind cleaning crumbs from your table top and floor.

The salted peanut crumble is optional but highly recommended. Sweet salty crispy peanuts adds another dimension to this already interesting cake. 

In the recipe below I have given the ingredient list for the crumble in parts instead of specific measures. You can use as much or as little crumble as you like. For the cake I used about ½ cup of crumble mixture.

Adopted from

½ cup butter or oil
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup semolina
1½ cups flour, sifted
1/3 cup cocoa powder
½ cup milk
1½ teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt (omit if using salted butter)

For the salted peanut crumble:
1 part salted peanuts, chopped
1 part sugar
1 part flour

1. Heat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Grease a 6cm-deep, 20cm round (base) springform cake pan. Line base and side with baking paper. 
2. Beat butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time followed by milk and continue mixing until well incorporated
3. Add semolina, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and incorporate. Do not overmix. Pour batter into cake pan 
4. To make the salted peanut crumble, combine peanuts, flour and sugar and add enough melted butter so that the mixture just starts to come together. Spread the crumble mix on top of the batter
5. Bake until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 30 to 40 minutes    

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Semolina Prune Cookies Recipe

Semolina prune cookies
Semolina cookies are not very well known but they do exist in some cultures. The Indians have a version called Nan Khatai cookies. Nan Khatai cookies have semolina, almond and cardamom. The Lebanese also have a version of semolina cookies called Ma’mouls.  Ma’mouls are made with semolina flour, flavored with rose water and orange blossom water and stuffed with dates, pistachios, almonds or walnuts. Ma’mouls are served during Easter and are shaped like cones that resemble the crown that Christ wore on the cross.

My version of the semolina prune cookies are crunchy while the prunes give the cookies a slight stickiness or chewiness, as well as great flavour. 

Dried fruit sticking to your teeth is probably not to everyones liking. This problem can be easily fixed by replacing chocolate chips with 'prune chips’. You will end up with semolina chocolate chip cookies. Since semolina adds a crunchy texture to cookies the semolina chocolate chip cookies will be the crispy version, not the chewy version. If you want a chewy version you will have to work the dough and let it rest for up to 3 days.

In the recipe you can use either butter or oil, or a mixture of both. I used a mixture of coconut and rapeseed oil and it worked great. If you are using oil it will be difficult to mix sugar and oil together until the sugar dissolves. Don't worry, if the sugar goes not dissolve it will dissolve when you add the eggs and mix them at the next step. 

If the dough looks too soft, it will become dryer rather quickly as the semolina and flour absorb the extra liquid. 

½ cup butter or oil 
½ cup sugar (I used slightly less)
1 cup semolina
1 cup flour
1 large egg
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ - 1 cup chopped prunes
1 teaspoon molasses (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

1.  Heat oven to 180 degrees celcius
2.  Cream butter/oil, sugar and molasses until the mixture turns pale and the sugar has dissolved. 
3.  Add egg and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly
4.  Add sifted flour, semolina and baking powder and mix well
5. Fold in the chopped prunes
6.  Place discs or small balls on a greased cookie sheet and flatten.
7.  Bake until cookies are golden brown and delicious, about 12-15 minutes

Semolina prune cookies

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