Monday, March 16, 2015

Pear and Honey Cake.

I love fruits, but quite often I don't eat enough, so whenever I am baking something sweet, I often go for recipes that do well with fruits whether fresh or dried. Some fruits are best served fresh along with the baked sweets, but others really shine when baked. Fruits such as apples and pears are of this latter category.
This recipe incorporate pears which are excellent when baked. In fact, I think they taste even better when cooked properly and with respect.

This simple recipe features pears as the star ingredient spiced up with cinnamon and some citrus zest. It is quite simple, easily prepared in under 30 minutes, and is perfect served with tea or coffee.

For a 15 cm pan you need:
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 80 g sugar
  • 30 g honey
  • 120 g flour, all purpose
  • 100 g softened butter plus extra 10 g for the pan
  • 3/4 tsp of baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • zest of half a lemon and half an orange
  • 2 tbsp of orange juice (or lemon)

For the pan bottom you need:
  • 2 pears 
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp of chopped almonds
  • a sprinkle of cinnamon and the extra butter
Start by generously buttering the bottom of the pan, and the sides too. Sprinkle the sugar, cinnamon, and the almonds and set aside.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
Add the cinnamon to the honey and heat a bit until it becomes rather runny.
Cream the butter with the sugar and the honey, using a whisk or a wooden spoon, (but save a tbsp of the honey to drizzle on the pears later). Add the eggs and mix well. Add the lemon and orange zest then fold in the flour. Finally add the orange juice and mix until combined.
Before adding the batter to the pan, slice the pears and arrange the pieces. Drizzle the remaining honey over the pear and pour in the batter.

Bake the cake for about 35 to 40 min in a preheated oven (180C). Let the cake cool about 5 minutes in the pan before removing it.

The cake is great with coffee, but you can also serve it with whipped cream, or Greek yogurt and honey. Rich and moist, it is perfect for breakfast, picnic or for a lazy and relaxed coffee break!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Malted Chocolate Cupcakes and malted ganache

It's time for chocolate again, but experienced with an ingredient that brings back these beautiful childhood memories we all cherish.

I still remember that delicious malted chocolate drink that would get me and my siblings, or any child for that matter, really excited. The chocolate malt powder came in green cans, and my grandma always had at least one on standby in her pantry for us to enjoy mixed with fresh milk! I haven´t seen or had this drink since years now. Last summer upon visiting Andorra I came across a similar brand of malted chocolate and of course I bought some. To my surprise a couple of months ago I saw the same brand in a nearby supermarket, how good is that?

I wanted to use this malted chocolate powder either in a cake or in cupcakes, but finally went for the cupcakes, maybe because they are easier to manage and they always look cute!
So let´s start making those little beauties!

For the cupcakes you need: (7 cupcakes)
  • 1 egg room temperature
  • 60 g soft butter
  • 40 g sugar
  • 40 g milk
  • 40 g flour
  • 20 g cocoa powder
  • 20 g melted dark chocolate
  • 20 g malted chocolate powder 
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • heaping 1/4 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract or paste
First, mix all the dry ingredients together and set aside. Beat the butter and the sugar. I used a hand whisk but you can use an electric mixer. When the mixture is creamy add the egg and mix well. Add the chocolate and the vanilla. Fold in the flour mixture and then the milk.

Fill the cupcake liners, about 2/3 and then bake for about 20 min in a preheated oven (180C).

Once they are baked, immediately remove from the pan, and leave them to cool on a cooling rack.

For the ganache frosting:
  • 100 g finely chopped chocolate
  • 120 g heavy cream (35%)
  • 2 tbsp malted chocolate
  • a drop of vanilla essence or paste
  • 20 g butter
Add the malted chocolate to the cream and let it simmer on a gentle heat. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk vigorously until all chocolate melts. Add the butter and vanilla and whisk again. When the ganache has cooled, you can whip it a bit until it becomes a bit fluffy and lighter in color.

Now you´re ready to frost the cupcakes as you wish. I opted for a simple yet beautiful decoration using that delectable frosting.

These cupcakes have an intense chocolate flavor and a "je ne sais quoi" effect thanks to the malted chocolate!