Monday, 3 December 2018

Decadent Roasted Banana & Chocolate Celebration Cake (gluten free)


Looking for something decadent? A gluten free show-stopper that will be sure to turn heads? A cake fit for birthdays, Easter, Christmas and all special reasons in between? Then this Roasted Banana & Chocolate Celebration Cake may just be the one you need.


I made this three-layered stunner back in October for Mr GF's birthday, but the photos have been sitting on my computer ever since, awaiting editing. It just seems that time gets more and more squeezed and the blog is taking more and more of a back seat as other priorities jostle for position.


To be honest, I'm not sure it's just time... I seem to be falling out of love with the whole blog thing as blog world morphs into an increasingly competitive arena, where advertising and self-promotion take centre stage. I am not a person who naturally puts myself 'out there' and I have no desire to video and share my very mundane life on social media. When I started the blog, it was because I needed a place to record my gluten free recipes and bakes and I loved that it also meant I could share my growing wisdom with others. That hasn't changed, but blogging has and I question daily whether I have anything left to offer to a medium that is increasingly saturated. Right now, I am debating the best way to move forward.


But back to the cake... given that I had made it, I didn't want my tiny bit of creativity to go to waste.

Stacked with three layers of moist, fruity, banana sponge, this cake is sandwiched and covered with rich chocolate butter cream and decorated with dark, decadent chocolate ganache, dripped and hung with home-piped chocolate hearts and made extra special with pretty piping, broken cigarillos and chopped, crunchy banana chips. Need I say more?


Well actually, yes. The bananas have also been roasted in their skins for an extra intense banana hit. If you have never tried this, give it a try..... you will wonder why you have never done it before.

It isn't a quick cake to pull together (although the banana sponge is perfect 'naked' or just layered with a slather of buttercream), but if you want or need to make a showstopper that will drop jaws, it's definitely worth the effort.


It's not particularly tricky either. I honestly don't rate myself as much of a cake decorator and have little other than low-grade skill, but I reckon that patience, a couple of basic tools, a willingness to experiment and a bit of ganache and piping can pimp up pretty much anything.

I'm also a sucker for banana cake and thought it would make a nice change from the usual birthday flavours. It seemed to go down well, so I guess it wasn't a bad choice...


I am sharing my Decadent Roasted Banana & Chocolate Celebration Cake with :



Cook Blog Share with Recipes Made Easy
Love Cake with Jibber Jabber
Baking Crumbs with Apply To Face Blog & Jo's Kitchen Larder




Bake of the Week with Casa Costello and Mummy Mishaps
Cook Once Eat Twice with Searching for Spice
Fiesta Friday #253 with Angie, Spades Spatulas & Spoons and MilkandBun


What's For Dinner? with The Lazy Gastronome



Roasted Banana & Chocolate Celebration Cake (makes one 8 or 9 inch (20 to 23 cm), three-layer cake)

Ingredients

Roasted Banana Sponge
315g gluten free plain flour (I used GFA blend A from this post)
150g ground almonds
1½ teaspoons xanthan gum
2¼ teaspoons GF baking powder
1½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
150g unsalted butter - softened
225g golden caster sugar
185 g soft, light brown sugar
3 large eggs - room temperature - lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 medium-large bananas (unpeeled) - roasted (see below)
260 ml buttermilk

Chocolate Heart Decorations
125g good quality dark chocolate - chopped

Chocolate Butter Icing
175g good quality dark chocolate - cut into small pieces
280g unsalted butter - room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250g icing sugar (sifted)

Chocolate Ganache
200g good quality dark chocolate - chopped
150g/ml double cream

Decoration
a few broken chocolate cigarillos
chopped dried banana chips

Method

Sponge
  1.  Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4. Base line your non-stick cake tins with baking paper.
  2. First roast your bananas in their skins (on a baking sheet lined with baking paper) until the skins are turning black (about 20 minutes). Leave to cool in the skins.
  3. Weigh and mix together the flour, almonds, xanthan gum, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt, making sure any lumps are broken down. (I weigh mine into an airtight container and shake vigorously). Set aside.
  4. Cream the butter and sugars together in a large bowl using an electric whisk until light and fluffy.
  5. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork and then add a little at a time to the butter mixture, beating well after each addition. 
  6. Add and beat in the vanilla extract.
  7. Remove the banana flesh from inside the blackened skins and mash with a fork before folding gently into the wet mixture.
  8. Using a large spoon or spatula, gently fold in the buttermilk alternately with the flour mix about a third at a time, until the ingredients are just combined. Be careful not to over-mix. 
  9. Divide the batter evenly between cake tins and smooth the tops with the back of a spoon.
  10. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean and the top springs back to the touch.
  11. Leave to cool in the tins for 5 to 10 minutes, before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.
Chocolate Heart Decorations
(You will need a pointed sweet/sugar thermometer and either a fine-tipped decoration bottle or Decomat kit (mine is by Lekue)
  1. Line a couple of trays with non stick baking paper and set aside.
  2. Chop all the chocolate and weigh 80g into a glass, microwaveable/heatproof bowl. 
  3. Using either the microwave (at 30 second bursts, lessening as the chocolate temperature increases) or placing the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, melt and heat the 80g chocolate to 40 C/104 F, stirring frequently.
  4. Remove from the heat immediately and add the rest of the chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth.
  5. Pour the chocolate into the decorating bottle and working quickly, pipe small hearts and spots onto the baking paper. 
  6. Leave to set at room temperature.
Chocolate Butter Icing
  1. Place the chocolate in a glass, heatproof bowl and melt either in the microwave (medium setting at 30 second bursts, stirring between each) or over a saucepan of gently simmering water, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the softened butter, vanilla extract and icing sugar using an electric whisk until smooth. 
  3. Add the cooled, melted chocolate and continue to beat until thick and creamy.   
Chocolate Ganache (make the ganache only when you are ready to decorate the cake)
  1. Place the chopped chocolate into a medium heat-proof bowl and set aside.
  2. Pour the cream into a small saucepan and gently heat until almost simmering.
  3. Remove from the heat immediately and pour onto the chocolate.
  4. Allow to sit for 3 to 4 minutes and then gently stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the ganache is smooth.
  5. Allow the ganache to cool at room temperature, stirring intermittently until it reaches drip consistency.

Putting it all together

  1. Chill the sponges in the fridge for a couple of hours to give stability when decorating.
  2. Layer the sponges with chocolate butter icing.
  3. With the help of a palette knife and cake scraper, completely coat the cake with a layer of butter icing, using the palette knife to coat and the scraper to smooth into a thin, even layer.
  4. Chill the coated cake in the fridge to cool and stabilise the butter icing before the next stage.
  5. When the ganache has reached 'drip' consistency, pour into a decorating bottle (or alternatively use a spoon) and carefully create a 'rim' of ganache around the outside edge of the cake, encouraging small drips down the sides. If the drips 'run' too fast, leave the ganache to thicken a little more.
  6. Once the drips are complete, move to the centre of the cake and gradually squeeze ganache in a continuous swirl (or drip and spread with the spoon) until the top of the cake is covered. 
  7. Take your chocolate hearts and stick to the base of the ganache drips so that they look like they are hanging. (If they do not stick easily, put a small spot of ganache on the back of each before fixing).
  8. Stick the chocolate dots randomly onto the buttercream sides.
  9. To finish the cake off, use the remaining butter cream and ganache (I whipped the remaining ganache to make it lighter) and pipe onto the top of the cake as you wish. 
  10. Use broken chocolate cigarillos of different lengths and stick into the surface of the cake between the piping.
  11. Sprinkle with chopped banana chips.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-18 unless otherwise indicated

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Hazelnut-Cacao Energy Balls - A Pre-Pilates Booster (no bake, vegan, free from gluten, dairy & refined sugar)


It feels like a while since I posted a recipe, but these Hazelnut-Cacao Energy Balls, which are free from gluten, dairy, refined sugar and are also no bake and vegan, have recently become a bit of a Sunday morning energy boost for me and it seemed like a good plan to share them. Why Sunday morning? Because since I attended an amazing Pilates retreat back in September at Pignoulet in Gascony, I have managed to join a Pilates class locally and actually keep it up!


Although I know they don't look that appetising, these energy balls are packed full of slow-release energy goodness and taste amazingly good. Adapted from a Deliciously Ella recipe, they have become inextricably associated with Pilates in my head, because I first had an almond version when at Pignoulet. Offered as a pre-session energy boost first thing in the morning, they felt especially healthy and nutritious.

It's funny how foods become linked with activities and very specific memories. I have other very fixed associations with Reggae Potatoes and the Peak District, Fish Bolognese and the Seychelles, Homity Pies and University, home-made pasta and visiting my Nana, and Vegetable Lasagne and sunbeds (it's a long story)...


Perhaps it's that eating these energy balls brings back idyllic memories of the sun rising over the beautiful Pignoulet farmhouse, and feeling its warmth touch my skin as I ready to start the day with Pilates in the barn, but when I eat one, I feel just that little bit happier.

The particular adaptations that I have made to the original recipe are to substitute almonds for hazelnuts (although almonds are very yummy too) and to alter the ingredient ratios very slightly as the balls were prone to 'melt' in the warmth due to the liquid nature of the coconut oil. Regardless, they are still better stored in the fridge, both for sturdiness and longevity.


I am sharing my version of Hazelnut-Cacao Energy Balls with :



Cook Blog Share - This week with Recipes Made Easy
Cook Once Eat Twice with Searching for Spice
Fiesta Friday #249 with Angie, Goats & Greens and Apply To Face Blog


Hazelnut-Cacao Energy Balls (slightly adapted from a recipe by Deliciously Ella) - makes 12 to 14 balls

Ingredients 

200g dates (de-stoned weight)
100g hazelnuts (de-skinned and lightly toasted)
12g coconut oil
45g almond butter 
pinch fine sea salt
2 tablespoons cacao powder

Method

  1. Weigh all ingredients into a blender (making sure your dates are de-stoned and the hazelnuts are lightly toasted).
  2. Pulse together until well blended.
  3. Place in the fridge to cool, before rolling into 12 to 14 balls with your hands. 
  4. Store in the fridge until ready to eat. 
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-18 unless otherwise indicated

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Gluten Free Cruising in the Norwegian Fjords on the Sapphire Princess


Have you ever considered cruising, but been put off for fear of being stuck in the middle of the ocean unable to find anything to eat because you are gluten free? Think again! For those of you who follow my Instagram account, you will know that in August, I was lucky enough to take a family holiday cruising in the Norwegian Fjords on the Sapphire Princess with Princess Cruises..... and it turned out that gluten free cruising was gob-smackingly good.

I want to be absolutely clear... This was a self-funded family holiday with no commercial blog interest, but I was genuinely so bowled over by the experience, that I wanted to share our foodie journey with you.


Cruising is a new experience for us. We have historically been a family who travel into the heart of a city or country and who get down and dirty with the locals.... absorbing every aspect of culture available to us, spending time understanding local life first hand and of course, enjoying the local food and fare.

I honestly had no idea what to expect from cruising, but as we wanted to visit the Norwegian Fjords, it seemed a great opportunity to experience a new form of travel to somewhere which has an ideal viewpoint from the water. Departing from Southampton, it also had the added benefit of not having to worry about baggage limits and not having to hang around in an airport for hours.


As a family with two people who must not eat gluten due to Coeliac Disease however, we were definitely in the anxious camp about the probability of finding good, safe and varied gluten free food on board... Let's face it, the idea of being 'captive' on a ship for two weeks eating baked potatoes or salad would seriously dampen the experience, not least because one of the pleasures that cruisers relish is the eating. The prospect of sitting watching dish after dish of drool-worthy cuisine being served to other gluten-eating guests would be unbearable.


When we travel, we always go well prepared with gluten free rolls, biscuits and snacks so that we don't starve on holiday and as always, we went on board with plenty of sustenance. We needn't have bothered... for the first time ever, most of it stayed in our cases and got brought home again. The food and catering crew on the Sapphire Princess were 'on it' from the moment we boarded the ship, with a call to our stateroom almost as soon as we were in, acknowledging that we had dietary needs and asking us to make ourselves known when we came down to dinner. From that point on and throughout the cruise, both myself and Miss GF were frequently left speechless by the lengths they went to, not only to make eating on board as safe as possible, but also as decadent and varied as for all the other guests.

Nothing was too much trouble.... whatever we wanted, whether from standard restaurant menus or around the ship in the open all day cafes was made for us in gluten free form... and with no fuss. Seriously... when Miss GF saw coated frogs legs being eaten and decided that she wanted to try them too, the kitchen staff rustled up her very own gluten free batch as if it was the most usual request in the world. The guys on the Sapphire Princess knew exactly what they were doing.

Delicious Desserts (gluten free) - Sapphire Princess

While on board (and to make the most of our sea days), I managed to arrange a meet up firstly with Steve Reynolds, the Director of Food and Beverages and then later in the cruise, with Generoso Mazzone (Maitre D'Hotel) and Octavio Bellesi (Executive Chef), who were more than happy share their wisdom on free from cruising and food preparation on board.

Once inside the kitchens, you get a sense of the massive scale and logistical complications that they seek to overcome. Bear in mind that with more than 2,500 guests and the likelihood that a good couple of hundred of them will have food allergies and intolerances ranging from Coeliac through to multiple life-threatening allergies, they have a truly complex task keeping us all food-safe. The last thing they want or need is a passenger who gets sick because of an oversight.

Galley Tour - Sapphire Princess

The staff in charge of food on the ship are rightly proud of what they offer and when Executive Chef Octavio, offered for us to have a private tour around one of his galleys, we had no hesitation in taking him up. He runs a tight ship (pun intended) and I was reassured to see that not only were the areas for special food preparation separate from the rest, but that bowls and ingredients were covered prior to cooking and baking, to avoid accidental cross-contamination and that special ingredients were kept in their own storage areas. Even where dishes on the menu were naturally 'safe', they were prepared for us in a separate area to avoid cross-contamination.

One of the things that particularly interested me was how, with two and a half thousand guests and an additional one thousand one hundred crew members, the officers knew what food to bring on board. Surely food waste must be an issue?

Delicious Bread & Starters (gluten free) - Sapphire Princess

It turns out that the only food waste really comes down to what people leave on their plates and amazingly, the amount and type of ingredients brought onto the ship gets calculated well ahead of departure, based on the nationality and demographics of the travellers and what they are known to order as a general rule. So for example, a high number of cruisers from America will result in ordering higher quantities of meat, whereas Europeans will eat more fish.

The quantities of daily ingredients are simply astounding... 2,700 pounds of potatoes cooked daily, about 1,700 fish, 5,000 pounds of meat, 550 gallons of soup, 500 pounds of pasta, 2,500 pounds of vegetables, 1,600 pounds of salad, 13 gallons of mayonnaise, 400 pounds of butter, 6,000 pounds of fresh fruit, 100 gallons ice cream, 6,000 assorted pastries and 300 full sized cakes and pies. And that's just for starters.... the galleys use an average of 1,500 pounds of flour every day and a staggering 9,000 eggs. Yes really... I cannot in any way, shape or form get my head around what 126,000 eggs look like when they arrive at the start of a 14 night cruise.


But I digress...

Ahead of the cruise, guests are invited to complete an on-line dietary needs form which enables the crew to plan ahead and for the chefs and food staff to know exactly who needs additional care and attention. Whilst it is hoped that guests use this facility, it is clear from talking to the guys on board that there is always an 'inevitable' proportion of free-fromers who don't let them know up front, but still require the same level of food care.

More Delicious Desserts (gluten free) - Sapphire Princess

Being first time cruisers, we hadn't really considered the various dining options and happily accepted a fixed evening dining time in a named dining room. That suited our family fine, but I was also reassured when eating at other locations around the ship during the day, that staff in all kitchens would have been well-able to meet our dietary needs had we opted for 'anytime dining'.

Each evening, our head waiter would bring the next day's menu to myself and Miss GF to choose dinner (and lunch for sea days) for the following day. Whilst this seemed less spontaneous, the additional 'notice' meant that there was literally nothing on the starter-mains sections that was off limits. The philosophy of Princess Cruises was very clear.... As free-fromers, our experience should be as similar as possible to other guests. If the dish had pastry, they made it gluten free. If we wanted pasta, we got it. Sauces were specially adapted to make them safe and only where there was no other way round it were ingredients substituted for something completely different (such as rice instead of cous cous).

Main Courses (gluten free) - Sapphire Princess

Every evening we were treated to freshly baked gluten free bread which was served cloth-wrapped in separate baskets, opened and faced away from any glutenous offerings for safety and with a separate butter dish. I was left in no doubt that it was not just the chefs and kitchen staff that understood the risks of cross-contamination, but that waiting staff were equally well trained.

Stateroom Treat (gluten free) - Sapphire Princess

And desserts? Whilst I fully expected to suffer severe sugar withdrawals and to be 'required' to eat fruit salad and ice cream every day, I was left wide-eyed and spoiled. This cruise was like living on board a floating gluten free patisserie. Ok... the choice may not have been as free-flowing as for gluten-eating guests, but every night we were presented with a gluten free surprise dessert... everything from rhubarb pie and fruit crumble, to panna cotta, bananas foster, espresso creme brulee or chocolate brownie... floating islands and a whole array of light cakes, pastries and mousses. There were always gluten free patisserie options around the ship if you fancied a little treat outside of meal times and for breakfast we could order gluten free pancakes, muffins or french toast. There was even gluten free afternoon tea available. Decadent was an understatement, but most importantly we felt like we were equal to other guests and that we were no problem at all. No raised eye brows... no rolling eyes... no tutting or questioning whether a little bit of gluten was really going to matter. These guys 'got it' and that was just fine!

Afternoon Patisserie (gluten free) - Sapphire Princess

And it gets better... Imagine how excited we were when, after a particularly crappy wet weather day (soaked through four layers to the skin, puddles in our shoes after a long, rain-filled hike, phone completely trashed by water damage and the distress at losing all the photos stored on it building...) we came back to our stateroom to find a tray with four plates of gluten free goodies... biscuits, cakes and desserts. In our gluten free world, that kind of thoughtfulness just doesn't happen... and when it does, everything feels better. It was a lovely touch and it made us feel very special.

Stateroom Treat (gluten free) - Sapphire Princess

But it doesn't end there... Towards the end of our cruise, there was an unexpected knock at our door. We opened it to be greeted with a large and very decadent-looking cake. I'd seen similar cakes around the ship, evidently created for occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. We had neither, so I (hopefully) asked 'what's this?' and then tentatively 'Perhaps you have the wrong room?'... 'Compliments of the Maitre D' came the reply.

Stateroom Treat (gluten free) - Sapphire Princess

Seriously? I can honestly say Miss GF and myself were jumping around the room, so unexpected and exciting was our gift. The cake (a light chocolate sponge layered with whipped cream and decorated to impress) was absolutely delicious... but most of all, we felt like we mattered and importantly, like we weren't just another 'dietary need'.

Stateroom Treat (gluten free) - Sapphire Princess

Aside from the food, the cruise itself was amazing and the Norwegian Fjords stunning (I hope to share a separate travel post on our experience soon). Miss GF was absolutely smitten with the whole experience and has been frequently suggesting new cruise destinations since our return. She has even managed to find a TV channel entirely dedicated to cruise pestering...


Of course, I suspect the fact that GF eating was so easy and Coeliac was completely and refreshingly accepted without hinderance, was a massive part of her enjoyment. Our thanks go to the crew of the Sapphire Princess for that. You made our daughter's year!

Will we cruise again? For sure! Miss GF has her sights set on warmer climes next time... But whenever and wherever we venture onto the open sea again, we will certainly be expecting great things.


I am sharing my gluten free cruise experience with the following travel linkies:

Two Traveling Texans
Fifi and Hop












Otis and Us












Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-18 unless otherwise indicated

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Autumn Windfall Pear & Walnut Brownies (gluten free)


Recently I've had a bit of a love affair with Brownies.... These Pear and Walnut Brownies are a perfect Autumn addition to my collection.  Simple to make and dappled with succulent, fresh fruit and crunchy, earthy walnuts, they welcome the abundance of the harvest and hint of the cooler, winter days to come.

I am lucky enough to live in Kent, the 'Garden of England'.... the south-eastern most corner of the UK, famed for its fruit growing, cabbage fields and cobnuts... its hops and vineyards...  oysters and Dover Sole.... and its more recent addition of 'Thanet Earth'... a complex of temperature and light controlled glass houses which enable the production of fresh fruit and veg year round.


Pears and walnuts are two of my favourite local ingredients (although Kentish walnuts appear slightly later in the year). When the end of summer beckons, boxes piled high with ripe picked pears and windfalls start appearing outside the gates of houses, sharing abundance in the community with hand-scribbled envelopes which read 'help yourself'. It seems every third house has a pear tree in the garden.... or an apple..... a plum.... a cobnut... a damson.... the harvest share is a delight.


With the incredibly hot 2018 summer we have 'endured' in this part of the world, I am sad to say that the harvest has definitely suffered, although I was still lucky enough to be offered a bag full of pears from a friend with too many to manage herself. In addition to inspiring a rather delicious pear and raspberry crumble, the gift inspired these Pear and Walnut Brownies, which I have to say, were absolutely delicious.


Brownies can often be over-sweet and are a popular chocolate and sugar fix, but I prefer to make mine seeking depth rather than sweetness in the ingredients I use. The soft, wet texture and fruitiness of the fresh pear helps to cut through the sugar as does the craggy, almost bitter, earthiness of the walnut. The brownies also have a more caramel-intense sweetness that comes from using a less-refined mixture of golden caster and brown sugars.


I have a number of Brownie recipes on Gluten Free Alchemist, with an array of brownie-textures. Personally, I love them all.... soft and fluffy..... drier and slightly crumbly.... dense and more gooey. These particular brownies err on the side of gooey, but not so much that they clag in your teeth. Whatever the texture however, they can often be tricky to cut. Whilst they should always be cooled completely in the tin, before turning out, I also find that placing them in the fridge for an hour to firm up allows for a more even, clean cut... after which you can bring them back to room temperature for the best texture and flavour experience.


In celebration of Autumn, I am sharing these amazing Pear and Walnut Brownies with :

 
Love Cake with Ness at Jibber Jabber
Cook Once Eat Twice with Searching for Spice
Cook Blog Share with Everyday Healthy Recipes

 

Baking Crumbs with Only Crumbs Remain and Jo's Kitchen Larder
Fiesta Friday with Angie, Spades, Spatulas & Spoons and The Pantry Portfolio
What's for Dinner with The Lazy Gastronome



More Fresh Pear Inspiration on Gluten Free Alchemist
Pear & Chocolate Cake
Mocha-Pear Upside Down Cake
Winter Ginger & Pear Trifle
Brown-Sugared Pear & Ginger Preserve
Heavenly Chocolate, Walnut & Pear Torte
Sweet Autumn Dessert Yorkshires with Vanilla Sauteed Pear & Walnuts and Blackberry Coulis
Raw Green Smoothie

More Brownie Inspiration on Gluten Free Alchemist
Beetroot Brownies
Chocolate-Banana-Coconut Brownies
Gooey Brownies
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cup Brownies
Minty Chocolate Brownies
Chocolate-Cherry-Pecan Brownies
Toblerone Brownie


Pear & Walnut Brownies (makes 1 x 8 inch (20 cm) square tin - 16 brownies)

Ingredients

300g good quality dark chocolate - cubed
150g unsalted butter
100g plain GF flour blend (I used GFA blend A from this post)
50g ground almonds
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon GF baking powder
3 large eggs
60 ml milk
70g golden caster sugar
70g soft light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
140g fresh pear cubes (no peel or pips) - approx 1 medium-large pear
65g walnuts - rough chopped

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4 and base-line a nonstick 8 inch/20cm square baking tin with baking paper.
  2. In a medium glass, heatproof bowl, melt together the chocolate and butter either in a microwave (medium setting, 30 second bursts, stirring between each until smooth) or over a simmering pan of water. Set aside.
  3. Weigh and mix together the flour, almonds, salt and baking powder until well blended and all lumps are broken down (I weigh into an airtight container and shake vigorously). Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, sugars and vanilla extract (preferably with a whisk) to blend completely.
  5. Add the dry ingredients and chocolate mixture to the bowl and fold through thoroughly until well blended and even in colour. 
  6. Fold through the cubed pear and chopped nuts.
  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tin and smooth the top.
  8. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until firm, but so that a skewer inserted into the centre comes out with a few crumbs attached. 
  9. Remove from the oven and cool completely in the tin.
  10. When cold, chill in the fridge for an hour (to make it easier to cut) before slicing into squares. 
  11. Decorate (or not) as you wish.
  12. Store at room temperature and eat within 2 days (or in the fridge it will last longer, but bring to room temperature before eating for best squidginess). 
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-18 unless otherwise indicated