Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Raspberry Lime Slushies

In the world of food blogs, I think Smitten Kitchen may be top dog.  The writing is excellent, the recipes delectable, and the photography is pretty.  It is a real pleasure when I'm notified in my reader that Smitten Kitchen has a new post.  This was one post that looked so good I just had to try the recipe, and as has been a new theme with me, I just happened to have all the ingredients at home to be able to do so right away. I even copied her idea for the photograph, even if the quality is far less spectacular. 

I've been super busy lately and maybe this kind of recipe is a little late-season to post, but it's like a last hoorah to summer.  Fall is in the air, at least here in the Pacific Northwest, and truthfully, that's how I prefer it.  But if you can still find raspberries at a fair price, go for this slushie!  My kids adored it, and that's always what I aim for.  It's really something to hit a bullseye with them in regards to acceptable food choices, and doesn't happen often enough.

Now, the original recipe called for a full cup of fresh lime juice.  People, that's like six limes, and too tart for our taste, so I've cut that amount in half, and incidentally doing that also means that you can drop the original amount of sugar by half.  Big plus.  I could even stand to cut the sugar more, but my kids disagree.  If you love sour, by all means go for the full cup of lime juice, but you'll need to add more sugar to taste.  Should I even mention that a sploosh of vodka would be divine in this?  Not that I would know, since unluckily there hasn't been any around whenever I've made this.  Such a shame too.

In addition to using an "acceptable" sugar, if you want to help your body metabolize the sugar better, eat something with fat and/or protein in it around the time you consume this.  It will slow down the impact of the sugar in your bloodstream.  I found that a splash of heavy cream in this is wonderful, and it really rounds out the acidity as well as provides the fat and protein.  It makes it dance on the line of slushie and smoothie, and I like that.

Serves 4 generously

Raspberry Lime Slushies

4 cups ice
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup water
1 cup raspberries
1/3 cup evaporated cane sugar, or 1/4 cup honey, or stevia to taste (maybe a packet or more)
Heavy cream, optional
1 cup soda water, optional

Place all ingredients in a blender.  Pulse for a bit to kind of crush the ice, then blend until smooth.  Add a bit of heavy cream if desired, maybe a quarter cup or more to taste, or if you add it in the individual glasses just a tablespoon will do to enhance the flavor.  Add soda water to taste, if desired, to give a fizzy effect. Serve in four glasses, with a fun straw, of course!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Summer Fruit Galette

I have to laugh about this galette.  You see, I never planned on making a galette.  We'd just gone blueberry picking and I was making a blueberry pie that I decided to use a lattice crust for, therefore I had some extra pie dough.  Looking over on my counter I saw that I had a bag of mixed peaches that could be used with the extra crust.  How handy!

After a harried day errand running with the kids, I couldn't remember why I bought the peaches, specifically because I remembered seeing them in the discount basket at the health food store, lifting them up, assessing them, and deciding they were a little too far gone to buy, hence the discount.  Here's the funny part.  There was this guy standing in the produce section who was, ahem, kind of handsome.  Okay, very handsome (a throwback to my husband in his glory days, in fact).  He saw me lift up the peaches and put them back down, and very helpfully offered to take out the worst ones for me, if I pleased.  Apparently he was an employee of the store!  And here I thought he just liked produce!  I still didn't want the peaches, but *giggle* I couldn't say no to that smile!  I let him take out the worst ones and replace them with not as bad ones and off I trotted in a stupor to the checkout stand.

Well, thank you Mr. Good-looking, because if not for you, I would never have made this super yummy peach galette.  It really was delicous, especially with my genius addition of toasted walnuts. If you happen to run into a handsome green grocer who nudges you into buying some over ripe summer fruit, this is what you can use them for: peaches, plums, nectarines, even pears would be good in this. 

Summer Fruit Galette

One recipe pie dough (single crust)--use your favorite recipe
Four well-ripened summer fruits, give or take
Honey, agave nectar, or evaporated cane juice
A handful of toasted walnuts
A couple pats of butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Roll out the pie dough into a 12 inch or so circle.  Place on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with toasted walnuts.  Slice fruit thinly and arrange on top of the pie dough and walnuts, leaving the outer few inches bare.  Sprinkle with granulated evaporated cane juice or other sweetener, and cover with several pats of butter.  Fold in the outer edges of the dough.  Bake until bubbly and the crust is browned, about 15-20 minutes (make sure to watch it, as I wasn't paying attention to the amount of time I had it in.  I could be wrong.)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Melty Malt Ball Cake

Hooray for cake!  It's the most celebratory thing to eat, and everyone should enjoy it from time to time.  I usually don't feel guilty about eating cake, but if you do, hopefully you won't feel as guilty about eating it now that the sugar is both lessened and replaced with better-for-you sweeteners. 

I really debated about whether or not to post this one, because the whole thing was something of a disaster, through no fault of the recipe itself.  Besides the inconvenient truth that I added a full cup too much flour, the frosting is supposed to sit in place and stay nicely centered on top and in the middle, not dribble down the cake.  In fact, moments after taking this picture, the malt balls began sliding to their death one by one.  But the cake, the recipe, the idea: all good.

I'm aware that in trying to stay refined sugar free, malt balls are a rule breaker, but since the cake was inspired by them and this was how it is pictured on Nigella's cake, I couldn't resist adding just a few to the top.

I came across this recipe out of Nigella's book Feast, which was in the chapter called "Chocolate Cake Hall of Fame".  I am convinced that, in order to die fulfiilled I will need to bake my way through that chapter, one glorious cake at a time.  I chose her recipe, "Chocolate Malteser Cake", because it looked the most fun, and I love the colors, and I love the flavor of Whoppers.  I guess that's what a malteser is in England.  I also figured, since my son is not a fan of chocolate cake, this would he'd like, because it's malty first and chocolatey second.

(Disclaimer: if the cake looks dry in the picture, this is because of me adding too much flour.)

I'd never heard of malt powder before, and didn't know where I should look for it.  I looked all up and down the baking aisle, thinking it was a baking product.  Ages later I found malt powder near the powdered chocolate milk mixes.  Hmm. I guess malted "milk" powder...makes sense.

To the right is the cake in its second attempt, which turned out marvelously!  It didn't rise as high, however.  I used a whipped cream frosting instead of buttercream. The reason the first buttercream was a disaster was because I searched for a buttercream recipe to replace the given one wherein I could replace powdered sugar with honey.  Voila, it exists!  And it was sworn to make a fantastic frost-able frosting, but how wrong that was.  I ended up using quite a bit of powdered sugar to try to redeem it, to no avail, hence the glossy, drippy frosting you see above.

Normally buttercream frostings are too sweet for me.  That's why here and in other cakes I make I usually frost cakes with simply sweetened whipped cream, which is nice and light and barely sweet, so that the cake itself is the center of attention. I'm sure Nigella uses buttercream here to mimick the intense sweetness of malt balls, but the whipped cream frosting was divine, even reminiscent of a Hostess Ho Ho, especially if you crush up the Whoppers and put them in the frosting between the layers.  Mmmmm.  I'm sure you could get the same effect with plain shaved chocolate to give that chocolately crackle. Remember to keep the cake refrigerated after frosting.

If you do decide on a buttercream, you can find a less refined powdered sugar, labeled "organic powdered sugar".  Here is one example.  I will include my malty whipped cream frosting recipe at the end, and you choose which you'd rather use.

Adapted from Feast by Nigella Lawson

Chocolate Malt Ball Cake

1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup honey or agave nectar, or 1/2 cup evaporated sugar cane crystals
3 eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons malted milk powder
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour (I use half whole grain, half AP)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preaheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Butter and line two, eight inch cake pans with parchment paper. 

Whisk together the sugars and eggs while you measure out the rest of the ingredients (if you have a stand mixer).  Heat the milk, butter, and malted milk powder in a small saucepan until the butter melts and it's hot but not boiling.  When the sugars and eggs are light and frothy, beat in the hot milk mixture, then fold in the flour mixture that you've earlier measured out. 

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 25 minutes. (Note, in her show she recommends kind of "slapping" the pans down on the counter after filling them with batter to work out the air bubbles, so they'll rise evenly). 

Frosting-Nigella's recipe

2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
1/3 cup malted milk powder
1 stick plus one tablespoon soft, unsalted butter
2 tablespoons boiling water
malted milk balls to garnish

In Nigella's words (I love how she talks!):

Once the cakes are cold, you can get on with the icing. I use a processor just because it makes life easier: you don’t need to sieve the icing sugar. So: put the icing sugar, cocoa and Horlicks  in the processor and blitz to remove all lumps. Add the butter and process again. Stop, scrape down, and start again, pouring the boiling water down the funnel with the motor running until you have a smooth buttercream.

Sandwich the cold sponges with half of the buttercream, and then ice the top with what is left, creating a swirly pattern rather than a smooth surface. Stud the outside edge, about 1cm in, with a ring of Maltesers or use them to decorate the top in which-ever way pleases you.

Chocolate Malt Whipped Cream Frosting (my recipe)

1 cup heavy cream (organic is best)
1/4 cup (or less) evaporated sugar cane crystals or organic powdered sugar
2 tablespoons malted milk powder
1 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa

Whip all ingredients together until the cream  can stand in stiff peaks when a spoon is removed.  Be careful not to overbeat or you'll end up with butter!  Just make sure it's stiff enough to spread without drooping. 

Spread half the frosting on one cake layer, then put second layer over top and frost the top of it.  Decorate with malted milk balls, if you wish.