Sunday, 27 April 2014

Alsace Apple Pie - Gluten Free

This month, the Random Recipe challenge (run by Dom at Belleau Kitchen)  has teamed up with Alphabakes (brought to us by Caroline at Caroline Makes and Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker). Having reached the end of the alphabet, Alphabakes is starting again at the letter A.

But for April, there is an extra twist.......... the recipe based on 'A' must be completely random.......... picked by chance from somewhere amongst the recipe books and folders on the shelf, with no cheating, adulterating or switching the recipe (except for reasons of specific dietary requirement, seasonal availability of ingredients, or monetary considerations). What fun!!!

I didn't tell my husband what I was doing, but merely asked him to pick a random cook book from the shelf. What sort? he asked. cakes, puddings, savoury? What do you want to make? I said nothing about the challenge at all, but told him I didn't mind what it contained as long as he picked it without too much thought..........

And so appeared on the table in front of me The Hairy Bikers Ride Again (Dave Myers & Si King) (2007). Interesting! Haven't looked at that one in ages I thought....... My Husband looked at me quizzically, waiting to see what I was going to do next............ Opening the book to the index, I found the section beginning with A and gave my husband a pen with a pointy lid. 'Now shut your eyes' I said, giving him the pen, 'and aim at 'A''. He did of course get a full explanation at the end of the process...........

And what did he 'choose'? Alsace Apple Pie! Wow...... that's a double 'A'!

Originating in the Alsace Region of France, the Alsace Apple Pie is a delightful sweet tart, crammed with apples and creamy custard on a cinnamon shortcrust pastry base. As the recipe provided by the Hairy Bikers was for a normal, wheat-based pastry case, I substituted with a gluten free sweet cinnamon-spiced almond pastry (my own) which worked beautifully with the rest of the recipe. I confess that I also omitted the cloves as we had none in the house on account of them not being very popular, so figured it would be best to leave it that way.

The Hairy Bikers always strike me as pretty straight forward in their cooking style (if a little bit bonkers otherwise), and this recipe is no exception. It is really simple to make, yet delivers the perfect balance of sweet to tartness, with a good hit of cinnamon spice. I was amazed at just how easy the custard was. Literally mixing the ingredients together and pouring over the apple filling.

My only criticism is that it didn't come out as pretty as I had hoped. If I make it again, I will increase the quantity of apple used and slice it differently, arrange it more attractively and probably use a deeper tart case to fit more in!

But looks aside, this is a pretty delicious flan........ Crisp cinnamony pastry, tart toffee-coated apples and creamy vanillary custard. Accompanied by a dash of extra cream, a scoop of ice cream or a spoon of creme fraiche, it is hard to beat.

It also allowed me to use my new, very funky cake slice which I found in a wonderful shop called Pylones! It is full of amazingly colourful little trinkets and gadgets.......... I think my little doggy slice so cute...........

Anyway.......... thanks to The Hairy Bikers (and of course the random skill of my husband in choosing the recipe), I present to you the gluten free Alsace Apple Pie :

Alsace Apple Pie (filling take from The Hairy Bikers Ride Again - Dave Myers and Si King) - Makes 1x 9½ inch (24 cm) round flan


Sweet Cinnamon Almond Pastry (gluten free)

130g brown rice flour
50g corn flour
40g ground almonds
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
pinch fine sea salt
60g soft light brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
110g unsalted butter - cold and cubed
1 large egg
1 tablespoon cold water

Apple Filling

150 ml sweet white wine
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1½ tablespoons soft light brown sugar
6 or 7 eating apples - peeled, cored and cut into thick slices

Custard Filling

200 ml double cream
2 large eggs
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
75g caster sugar

Icing sugar to decorate


  1. First make the pastry. - Weigh and mix together the flours, almonds, xanthan gum, salt, sugar and cinnamon, making sure any lumps are broken down.
  2. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients with fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Beat the egg with the water in a cup (using a fork) until combined and then add to the dry ingredients.
  4. Using a flat-bladed knife, gradually stir the wet and dry ingredients together until the mixture comes together as a dough. Use floured hands to knead slightly and complete the mixing process so that the dough is smooth and even. Do not chill at this stage.
  5. Put the dough onto a well-floured surface (use corn flour, rice flour or a combination to scatter and prevent the dough sticking) and then roll-out with a floured rolling pin until you have a circle which is large enough to line the flan tin.
  6. Gently lift the dough with the help of the rolling pin and ease into the flan case. Trim the top edges so that the pastry is even with the top of the tin.
  7. Place in the fridge to chill for an hour or so.
  8. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F/Gas 4.
  9. Whilst the oven is heating, make the apple filling. - Put the wine, spices and sugar into a large saucepan and heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. 
  10. Add the apple slices, stir to coat and then allow to simmer in the liquid for about 10 minutes with the lid on the pan.
  11. Remove the apples to a large bowl using a straining spoon and set aside.
  12. Simmer the remaining liquid, stirring frequently in the pan until it reduces to a syrup, then turn off the heat and replace the apples to the pan, gently stirring to coat in the sugar syrup. Leave to cool whilst you bake the pastry.
  13. Blind-bake the pastry case by lining with baking paper and filling with baking beans. Bake for 15 minutes with beans and then remove the beans and paper and bake for a further 5 minutes.
  14. Whilst the pastry is baking, whisk together the custard ingredients (starting with the wet ingredients and adding the sugar last) until completely combined.
  15. When the pastry has finished blind-baking, remove from the oven (leave the oven on at current temperature) and spread the apples evenly in the case.
  16. Pour or ladle the custard over the apples to fill the case (being careful not to over-flow) and then bake for a further 20 to 30 minutes until the custard has set and no longer wobbles.
  17. Eat either warm or cold with a sprinkling of icing sugar. Lovely with a drizzle of fresh cream too!

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-14 unless otherwise indicated

Friday, 25 April 2014

White Chocolate & Lime Curd Blondie-Cake - gluten free

This month, Karen from Lavender & Lovage is encouraging us to make or use Jams, Curds and Preserves in The Tea Time Treats challenge (co-hosted by Jane over at The Hedgecombers). With such a busy Easter period, time away from home and a mountain of work to fit in as well, I figured the prospect of concocting jars of wondrous fruity, spicy or sticky preserves was probably going to be a bit of a non-starter time-wise. So I put my creative baking hat on and tried to come up with something a bit different that would also remind the palate that it was Spring.

Quickly settling on the idea of incorporating a preserve into a bake, rather than using it as a spread to layer a cake, I needed to make sure the flavour was distinctive enough to come through in its own right and would not be completely shrouded by the sponge. That would mean using something that had an unmistakable taste and strength which could shine whatever was thrown at it.

Because of the amazing tang and depth that it has, I settled on the idea of lime curd, thinking this would be difficult to over-shadow completely and would also be a bit different from the expected lemon curd so often found in biscuits and cakes.  Turns out that decision was spot on......... Swirled into the sponge of these gluten free blondie-cakes and added to the oatie topping, it creates a limey-sharp zing which unexpectedly wakes the taste buds and marries beautifully with the caramel-sweetness of the white chocolate incorporated into the sponge.

I confess (guiltily) that I did not actually make the lime curd, but bought it from the Tesco's Finest range. But nonetheless, it had the perfect sharpness to balance the bake and worked exactly as it needed to. Actually it is damn good curd!

For good measure, I added a little shredded coconut to the sponge batter which gives the cake a slightly coconutty, chewy texture and alongside the lime, a hint of tropical sunshine. Overall............ (citrussy-tang aside), the sponge is slightly dense, yet moist and sweet with white chocolate. To give the blondie another dimension, an oatie top layer gives a bit of a rustic, more wholesome bite. Made from oats, cream, curd and a little sugar, the topping is adapted from a Dan Lepard recipe used for cookies which I found here. The ratios are altered slightly with an added touch of sugar as the lime curd was so sharp, but the topping melts beautifully onto the sponge as it bakes and I was pleased with the decision to use it.

Perfect with a cup of herbal tea................. put your feet up and enjoy!

White Chocolate & Lime Curd Blondie-Cake


120g  plain gluten free flour blend (I used Mix A from this post)
20g coconut flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon GF baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
25g shredded coconut
130g unsalted butter - cut into pieces
200g white chocolate
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
80g soft light brown sugar
100g white chocolate chunks
100g lime curd

100g gluten free oats
200ml double cream
20g soft light brown sugar
50 to 100g lime curd (depending on how sharp you want the blondie)


  1. Base-line a 9 inch/23 cm square baking tin (2 inch/5 cm deep) with baking paper.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  3. First make the topping by mixing together the oats, cream, sugar and curd in a bowl and set aside.
  4. For the main cake batter, weigh and mix together the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and coconut in a medium bowl, making sure any lumps are broken down and set aside.
  5. In a heat-proof bowl, melt the butter and 200g white chocolate together either over a saucepan of simmering water or in the microwave on 30 second bursts (medium setting) stirring frequently. Set aside to cool slightly.
  6. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla and sugar until slightly thickened and paler in colour.
  7. Add the melted chocolate-butter mix and whisk until fully combined, light and airy.
  8. Fold in the dry ingredients and chocolate chunks until evenly distributed, but be careful not to over mix.
  9. Spoon the mixture into the baking tin and spread so that it is level.
  10. Space little dollops of the curd across the surface of the batter and then use a flat knife to gently swirl in. Pat down the top when swirling is complete to ensure it is even and smooth.
  11. Dollop small spoonfuls of the topping mixture onto the surface of the uncooked batter. You don't need to spread these as this will happen naturally during the baking process.
  12. Bake in the centre of the oven for 10 minutes at the pre-heated temperature and then turn the oven down very slightly to 170 C/325 F/Gas 3 and continue to bake for a further 40 to 45 minutes or until the cake loses its 'wobble' and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. If you are concerned about the cake browning too quickly, cover with foil to protect.
  13. When baked, remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool, before cutting into squares. 
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-14 unless otherwise indicated

Monday, 21 April 2014

Two Cheese, Chorizo & Walnut Biscuits - gluten free

Good savoury biscuits are really hard to find when you don't eat gluten. They are often dry, crumbly, tasteless and can be a bit like eating cardboard. Even cheese biscuits are a rare find in the shops and tend to be not very cheesy and mostly, depressingly naff!

I hate that in the absence of a good savoury, easily transportable snack, we often resort to sweet biscuits or crisps. I am also acutely aware that nutritionally, my daughter should be getting plenty of calcium to help counter the negative effects of Coeliac Disease. Cheese is a fantastic source of calcium, so despite the calories, a snack which contains plenty of it is good by me, and perfect for her! But it also needs to be taken out and about without requiring constant refrigeration, so cheese biscuits are ideal. Being able to buy them in neat little packages is much trickier.

Frustrated by the lack of a good cheesy cracker, I have set about producing my own. Well worth the effort of a few attempts and tweaks, these little bites are deliciously savoury and very very moreish. Once you have eaten one, your hand will keep dipping into the tin for more.

They are crisp (but not crumbly), very cheesy, nicely salty,  and very simple to make. Although you can make them without it, the chorizo adds a wonderful chewy, warming, chilli kick. Cheese and chorizo are always an amazing match, but the added walnut in these biscuits brings an extra slightly nutty texture and lightly bitter contrast to the richness of the cheddar, parmesan and spicy sausage.

For the vegetarians amongst you, just leave out the chorizo and either go for straight cheese and walnut or substitute with a little sun-dried tomato, a few extra herbs or a sprinkle of chilli flakes.

These morsels of cheesy pleasure make such a fantastic snack that I am entering them into April's Family Foodies challenge, being hosted by Lou over at Eat Your Veg (co-hosted by Vanesther at Bangers & Mash). This month they are asking us to come up with a selection of healthy snacks. These savoury biscuits are absolutely scrumptious, perfect for an extra calcium hit, and have the added bonus of being totally transportable for the emergency, out of the handbag 'here's one I made earlier' trick! Whether you need to eat gluten free or not, these are heaps tastier than the bought varieties and can be made with any number of ingredients to meet the demands of the fussiest tastebuds (providing cheese is on the menu!).

But make plenty of them........ Blink and they will be gone!

Two Cheese, Chorizo & Walnut Biscuits


60g brown rice flour
40g potato flour
50g tapioca flour
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
pinch salt
80g butter - frozen
90g mature cheddar cheese - grated
30g Parmesan cheese - finely grated
½ teaspoon dried oregano
15g walnuts - chopped
20g chorizo - finely chopped
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon milk/almond milk

tapioca or corn flour to roll out


  1. Base-line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  3. Weigh and mix the flours and xanthan gum and salt in a large bowl,  making sure any lumps are broken down.
  4. Grate the frozen butter into the flour a little at a time, stirring as you go to ensure an even distribution.
  5. Add and stir in the grated cheese, oregano, chopped walnuts and chorizo.
  6. Stir in the egg yolk and milk.
  7. Using your hands, bring the mixture together and knead slightly until you have a smooth dough ball.
  8. Sprinkle the work-surface liberally with tapioca or corn flour and roll-out about half the dough with a floured rolling pin to a thickness of about 1cm. 
  9. Cut into shapes with a cookie cutter and place on the baking trays with a small gap between each.
  10. Bring the remaining dough back together and repeat the process until all of the dough has been used. Repeat with the second half of dough.
  11. Bake for 15 minutes, until the biscuits are golden, swapping the trays round in the oven half way through cooking to ensure an even bake.
  12. After 15 minutes, turn the oven off and leave the oven door open for a few seconds to cool slightly, before closing again and leaving the biscuits inside for a further 20 minutes as the oven cools. This will help the biscuits to dry out a little more and become crisp.
  13. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to complete the cooling process.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-14 unless otherwise indicated

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Rich Mocha Easter Cake - gluten free

It's Easter already! Season of newness, warmer days and lots and lots of chocolate. Hurrah!!!

I love Easter time. It firmly ends the winter months and because of the long weekend, allows for extra time in the garden, away or just out and about, often without the burden of thick winter coats (fingers crossed). The world seems to start smiling again and the tenseness that comes with the cold starts to ebb away. It is a great time to rejuvenate and to spend time with family and friends sharing foodie treats and being social.

Traditional Easter cakes, such as Simnel cake, tend to centre around fruit mixes. Although I enjoy an occasional slice of fruit cake, it never quite hits the height of decadence and celebration. For me, chocolate is the way to go to honour any anniversary or festival........ the richer, darker and more moist the better. Even our wedding cake was chocolate...... all three layers of it!

This Mocha Easter Cake is incredibly rich and most definitely very very chocolatey. A small slice goes a long way............... perfect for sharing. Made with plenty of dark chocolate as well as a dose of cocoa, it gains extra depth from a splash of fresh-brewed coffee. The texture is slightly brownie-like............  quite dense, very moist and a bit sticky.......... but is much lighter. The batter makes fantastically fluffy cupcakes too!

The sponge is, interestingly, not over-sweet and the coffee gives a delightful slightly bitter kick which contrasts beautifully against the creamy, sugary frosting and seems to intensify the darkness of the chocolate.

In celebration of Easter, I decorated my cake with a full coating of vanilla butter-frosting and oodles and oodles of Mini-Eggs. There seem to be a lot of cakes about at the moment which incorporate the other Easter favourite - Creme Eggs. Weirdly, despite my sweet tooth, I find Creme Eggs a little bit sickly and much prefer Mini Eggs. I know they are also very sweet, but it's how it is.......

I will admit that I have probably gone a tad over-board with the extent of egg-decoration on this cake............... Each slice probably gives you a fun-size bag of eggs, albeit on top of the cake.  But what is Easter without sugar overload? And they do look so pretty and fun!

There are a whole load of fun cakey, chocolatey Easter challenges this month. This very 'eggy' cake is  a perfect offering for a few of them so here goes...............

First up : Jibber Jabber's Love Cake challenge - the theme being a very seasonal 'Springing into Easter'. One of the things I love about Mini Eggs is the lovely pastel colours of the candy shells which shout Spring and they most definitely exude Easter too!

Next I am entering it into Nayna's Simply Food event : Let's Cook Sweet Treats for Easter. This cake is definitely sweet, an absolute treat and very Easter!

Then there's the Super Mega Easter Roundup brought to us by Alice Megan. Alice brings us all things Easter for 2014, from crafts to recipes and everything in-between! Well done Alice..... the one-stop Easter shop............

And finally, I am offering this as my second entry this month to We Should Cocoa being hosted by Rachel Cotterill on behalf of Choclette at the Chocolate Log Blog. Unsurprisingly, April's theme is a very chocolatey Easter!

So Happy Easter all. Have loads of fun and enjoy all that chocolate guilt free and while it lasts!!!

Rich Mocha Easter Cake


200g good quality dark chocolate
200g unsalted butter - cubed
130 ml strong fresh-brewed coffee
185g plain gluten free flour (I used blend A from this post)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1½ teaspoons GF baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
200g soft light brown sugar
160g golden caster sugar
30g cocoa powder
120 ml milk
¾ teaspoon white wine vinegar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vanilla Frosting
200g unsalted butter - room temperature
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
500g icing sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons almond/rice milk

To  decorate
Mini eggs (I used one and a bit 360g bags - give or take the few that I ate!)


  1. Base-line two round 8 inch baking tins with baking paper.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 170 C/325 F/Gas 3.
  3. In a medium glass bowl, break the chocolate into pieces and add the butter and coffee.  Melt together either over a saucepan of simmering water or in a microwave at medium heat on 30 second bursts, stirring frequently, until fully blended. Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, sugars and cocoa powder, making sure any lumps are completely broken down.
  5. In a small cup or jug, mix the milk with the vinegar and leave to stand for a few minutes.
  6. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until thickened slightly and pale in colour.
  7. Add the vanilla extract, melted chocolate and milk mixtures and continue to whisk until smooth and fully combined.
  8. Add the dry ingredients and fold gently until fully amalgamated. Do not over-mix. 
  9. Pour the batter into the cake tins, ensuring an even distribution.
  10. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour in the centre of the oven, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  11. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for about 15 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  12. To make the frosting, beat the butter with the vanilla extract until smooth.
  13. Gradually add the icing sugar and milk a little at a time and beat until you have a smooth frosting paste with a good spreading consistency.
  14. Sandwich the cakes together with frosting and then use the remaining frosting to cover the cake completely, smoothing the sides with a palette knife and spreading a thicker layer on the top. 
  15. Decorate with mini eggs and sprinkles.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-14 unless otherwise indicated

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Blackcurrant Flower Biscuits - gluten free

I love biscuits that contain berries......... There is always something which tastes a little bit virtuous in their fruitiness, as if you are eating something really good for you. In the grand biscuit scheme of things, I guess they are probably a lot better for you than some and at least you can be sure of some fruity nutrition along the way.

You rarely see fruit-based biscuits on sale in shops, whether in gluten or gluten-free form. I have no idea why that is, as they really are so delicious and elegant as to be quite irresistible. Children are particularly drawn to their unusual hue, which is fantastic if you want to sneak in a little extra fruit. And these biscuits have the added appeal of being a bit like the crunchy version of Ribena blackcurrant juice drink!

These pretty little morsels have been adapted from an earlier recipe of mine - the Strawberry and White Chocolate Hearts that were made for Valentines Day. Having bought some freeze-dried blackcurrants, I wanted to use them in something which really showcased their flavour. Biscuits seemed the way to go.

Freeze dried berries are an amazing ingredient. Their uniqueness and depth seems to be locked-in by the drying process so as to have a serious intensity when used in baking. They can be difficult to source, but the effort is worth every fruity mouthful. The aroma, texture and taste they produce is so natural as to be comparable to picking fruit off the bush.

I buy mine from an on-line health food supplier called Healthy Supplies, who sell an incredible range of dried fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices, flours, nuts, grains and more unusual ingredients. They do sell fruits already ground into powder, but I buy them whole and grind them myself as this allows greater versatility for their use.

I made these biscuits for the school Easter fair as a gluten free option for the treat stall. They are such a beautiful colour and cut into flower-shapes, drizzled with a little white chocolate and centred with a micro egg, are very festive and are perfect to celebrate Spring and Easter.

They melt in the mouth, have a rich blackcurrant flavour and fragrance which is unmistakable and are crisp and creamy, sweet and tart all at the same time. The white chocolate drizzled over the top adds an extra touch of decadence and compliments the tang of the blackcurrant perfectly.

With the smaller bits of dough that were left between rollings, I even managed to make some teeny-weeny truly bite-sized morsels.

I am entering them as my second offering to this month's Treat Petite (as I didn't manage to get round to anything last month), the theme being Spring into Easter. Stuart over at Cakeyboi together with Kat at The Baking Explorer do a fab job in hosting this bite-sized challenge and I think these little edible floral tributes to warmer days are an ideal April entry.

Blackcurrant Flower Biscuits (makes about 30+ small biscuits)


30g white rice flour
60g cornflour 
30g potato flour
60g tapioca flour
20g sorghum flour
120g unsalted butter - cold & cubed
50g icing sugar
30g caster sugar
20g freeze-dried blackcurrants - finely ground into powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons coconut cream (or milk if you have no coconut cream)

cornflour (to dust)

100g white chocolate (to decorate)


  1. Line 2 to 3 baking sheets with baking paper.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 170 C/325 F/Gas 3.
  3. Weigh and mix together all of the flours, making sure any lumps are broken down.
  4. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  5. Add and stir in the sugars and blackcurrant powder.
  6. Add the vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of coconut cream and using a flat knife, stir and 'knead' to bring together as a dough. Add the rest of the coconut cream a little at a time so that you have a damp (but not wet) dough which is soft and smooth.
  7. Using your hands, gently knead the dough into a ball and then place on a cold surface which has been liberally dusted with cornflour.
  8. Ensure the top of the dough ball is also floured and then use a rolling pin to roll the dough to about ½ cm in depth.
  9. Use your favourite cookie cutter to cut shapes from the dough and place each dough-cookie onto the baking paper with a small gap between each.
  10. Bring together any remaining dough and re-roll, repeating the cutting process until all the dough has been used.
  11. Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes, checking half way through and swapping the trays round in the oven to ensure an even bake. 
  12. Leave the cookies in the oven when cooked, cooling the temperature slightly by opening the oven door for a few seconds and then closing again with the oven off, allowing the cookies to cool with the warmth of the oven (this enables them to become crisp without burning).
  13. When the oven has cooled to just warm, you can remove the cookies and leave to go completely cold on a wire rack
  14. When cold, use white chocolate and sprinkles to decorate the cookies as you wish.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-14 unless otherwise indicated

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Egg Pops & Easter Homework

School homework in our house can be tough. It is frequently a battle of wills, and with three stubborn and headstrong individuals (two of them parents), that makes for a lot of fireworks. When she sets her mind to it, my daughter produces some amazing work, but getting her to decide to do the homework in the first place is the battle that needs winning.

This week however, something inspired her......... Maybe it was the subject matter, maybe it was Mummy's blogging........ I suspect that the two conspired together to spark her........ Although she may just have fancied creating mayhem with chocolate cake!

This post comes from her homework. Without it we would never have set to work inventing, making and testing Egg Pops. Asked to design a new Easter product, she was not content with just doing the poster to advertise it as required........... no......... She had to make it (and eat it) too. And absolutely right! How can you possibly promote a product without trying it? Good girl!!!

The Egg Pop is my daughter's take on a special Easter cake pop. I will be honest, we have never actually made cake pops or even eaten them. I've always looked at them as a bit of a pretty novelty, probably without much substance. But somehow, exploring what she thought she might design over Saturday lunch, she came up with Egg Pops............... 'Egg-shaped cake pops mummy'............

She became so excited about the prospect of making them, that it was a no-brainer. Thank goodness there was a frozen chocolate sponge languishing in the freezer waiting for a purpose. Its moment had come........... broken and crumbled into a bowl, mixed with a little honey and coconut cream and carefully rolled and moulded into egg-shaped balls.

A trip to town and three bags of Candy Melts later, we were decorating for Easter. By the time we had finished, there was cake trodden into the floor, candy melt stuck to the work-surface and sprinkles scattered far and wide....... Easter carnage!!!!!

Making and moulding the cake-crumb mix was amazingly simple. Even inserting the sticks was a dream with an almost 100% 'stay' rate. But I have never used Candy Melts and found that the coating process was a little trickier than expected. I thought they would melt into a very runny liquid, but found the resulting goo was quite thick and this made it hard to cover the cake-balls by dipping. We resorted to brushing the melt onto the sponges, but then discovered that as the 'eggs' had been placed in the freezer to harden slightly before decorating, the melt then set and dried instantly making it impossible to get a smooth, even surface or to decorate without painstakingly adding an extra spot of melt to stick each button, flower or micro-egg.

It turns out the cake I found in the freezer, which was originally from this recipe, made the perfect cake pop mix -  dark, deep and very decadent. It had a good almond content which I suspect also added a further natural moistness to the cake-eggs.

Using coconut cream and honey to help stick and mould the egg-shapes from the sponge was definitely a good move (the recipes I looked at suggested using cake frosting) and cut down on the potential for over-sugariness, leaving a soft, moist, rich, chocolatey interior.

The end result may not be anywhere near perfect, but we had loads of fun making them and they taste amazing! Perhaps my perception of the pointlessness of cake pops was misplaced? These ones have an incredible depth of flavour and a creamy, soft, melty texture which was quite unexpected. They certainly added some seasonal colour and fun to the kitchen............ Wrapped in cellophane, they even look pretty presentable as little Easter gifts. I don't think my daughter's teacher was expecting that!

My daughter has now self-assigned herself officially as my 'blog assistant'.................. could be some interesting inventions to come!

I am entering these delicious homework Egg Pops into three Eastery blog events this month. They were such fun to make and are so colourful that they are perfect for an Easter share.

First up : We Should Cocoa being hosted by Rachel Cottrill on behalf of Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog. The theme for this month is of course, Easter! Well let's face it, 'We Should Cocoa' is tailored perfectly for the Season........

Next I am entering them into this month's Treat Petite challenge, the theme being 'Spring into Easter' and being hosted by Stuart at Cakeyboi. Stuart co-hosts this challenge with Kat at The Baking Explorer. I love this challenge which encourages us to come up with inspired mini-treats, but unfortunately, last month I ran out of time and missed it! I hope this month's offering makes up for my remissness.............

And finally, I am offering them to April's Biscuit Barrel challenge hosted by Laura at I'd Much rather Bake Than....This month's theme is Fun. Our Egg Pops definitely fit the bill. Loads of fun to make, fun to decorate, fun to eat, fun to look at, fun to photograph and tons of fun to share!

Easter Egg Pops (makes 16 cake pops)


I used :
1 x 9 inch chocolate cake from this recipe (half quantity). Use a moist rich cake for the best results.
2 to 3 tablespoons coconut cream
a squeeze of runny honey

Candy Melt of varying colours or chocolate to cover
sprinkles and sweets to decorate

a packet of Lolly sticks


  1. Place a piece of baking paper onto a baking sheet.
  2. Break the cake with your fingers into small pieces in a large bowl.
  3. Add a couple of tablespoons of coconut cream and a squirt or two of honey, stirring the mixture until it is moist.
  4. Using either a spoon or a cake pop scoop, measure out even sized balls of cake mixture and gently squeezing to bring the mixture together so that it sticks, roll in the palms of your hands to make egg shaped balls.
  5. Place each ball on the baking sheet and then place the tray in the freezer for about 30 minutes to harden slightly before coating.
  6. When firm (but not frozen), melt the candy melt or chocolate in a bowl over simmering water (stirring) or in a microwave on 30 second bursts (medium setting), stirring between each. 
  7. Using a sharp skewer, make a straight hole through the base of each egg to about half way in.
  8. Dip each lolly stick in the candy melt/chocolate before inserting into a cake egg. This will help to 'set' the stick in the cake-pop.
  9. Dip each cake egg into the candy melt/chocolate, or if too thick, brush onto the egg using a pastry brush until the egg is completely covered. Make sure the coating also covers the area where the stick enters the cake as this will also help to make it more secure.
  10. Decorate each egg-pop, working quickly as you go through the coating process, to enable the sprinkles to stick to the coating. If the coating has set, place a small blob of candy melt/chocolate on the surface to stick the decoration.
  11. Use either a cake-pop stand, florist's foam, or make holes in an upturned box to secure the sticks of the pops upright whilst they fully harden.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-14 unless otherwise indicated

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Chocolate-Banana-Coconut Macaroon Cookies (gluten free)

You may recall that a couple of weeks back I made Coco-Banana Freeze Bites. Healthy and delicious, I have been eating rather a lot of them. The flavour is so good, but because they need to be stored in the freezer, they cannot be taken out and about. So this week, I have been busy adapting the recipe to make a soft cookie............. One which is full of healthy ingredients, but still absolutely yummy.

A few tweaks here and there and I have done it............ This time using coconut palm sugar instead of brown sugar and also adding coconut oil to moisten the mixture for baking. The quantities of a couple of other ingredients have also been altered very slightly and hey presto........... we have Chocolate-Banana-Coconut Macaroon Cookies. Another great use for over-ripe bananas!

Yes............ I am afraid that I have been letting them go 'off' again. I keep telling myself, I must either stop buying so many bananas, or get better at eating them. But then, on the other hand, they are giving me all the encouragement I need to come up with some fantastic new treats, so perhaps I am looking at this all wrong?

Without inspiration however, they would most certainly be heading for the bin, so I have decided they should be offered to this month's No Waste Food Challenge, as yet another banana rescue project. April's challenge is being guest-hosted by Ness over at Jibber Jabber on behalf of Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary, and as always challenges us to find good use for all those ingredients that might otherwise be wasted.

The result of my efforts is a soft chewy cookie with an almost macaroon texture which comes from the shredded coconut and moistened oats. No......... forget 'almost'............ this is very much like a banana macaroon in both texture and flavour. Not to be confused with a 'macaron', which is (of course) a lot more sophisticated. But don't be fooled............. these little bites may lack finesse, but they are certainly packed full of flavour and are an absolute delight for the taste buds.

When you bite into them, the first thing that hits you is the aroma and flavour of coconut. This is closely followed by a bananary wave, tempered by melty chocolate. The cookies have a chewy texture, but are soft and creamy on the inside, with a sightly 'squeaky' bite that you get from the little pieces of coconut. The sweetness comes through as very natural, and the whole experience is set to a backdrop of earthy oaty-nuttiness. Heaven!

These cookies spread in the oven far less than I expected (make sure you flatten them nicely before you bake), and I was worried that they may be a bit dry. How wrong was I? They are amazingly moist and have a texture reminiscent of a cross between a bounty bar and a chewy flapjack. And they stay that way...... even when stored in the fridge!

Because they didn't spread, they did not come out of the oven looking that pretty, and to be honest I was initially disappointed. I wanted lovely rounded, perfectly-shaped cookies that sold themselves! My husband shook his head and gave me the 'doomed cookie' look. But not one to be beaten (I hate it when my food is un-photogenic), I resorted to the trusty drizzled chocolate trick to perk them up and I reckon they now pass as quite presentable. Actually, I am pleased I had to dress them up a bit......... The white chocolate definitely adds something!

Chocolate-Banana-Coconut Cookies (makes about 24 cookies)


2 ripe medium bananas - mashed
45g gluten free oat flour
50g coconut flour
60g gluten free oats
30g ground almonds
25g ground hazelnuts
35g shredded coconut
½ teaspoon cinnamon
pinch fine sea salt
30g coconut palm sugar
100g chocolate chunks (mix between dark, milk and white) (or carob if you prefer)
2½ tablespoons runny honey
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
85g coconut oil - melted over a bowl of steaming water or on short bursts in the microwave (setting : low)

white chocolate (melted) to decorate (I also sprinkled a little grated dark chocolate)


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  2. Base line 2 or 3 baking trays with baking paper.
  3. Mash the bananas in a large bowl.
  4. Weigh and add the oat and coconut flours, oats, nuts, coconut, cinnamon, salt, sugar and chocolate chunks and stir through with the banana.
  5. Add the honey, maple syrup, vanilla extract and melted coconut oil and stir thoroughly.
  6. Use your hands to knead the dough slightly until smooth and firm.
  7. Break off small pieces of dough and roll into balls, then flatten with the palms of your hands so that you have dough disks about 1cm in depth.
  8. Place the disks on the baking paper with a small gap between each (they will not spread very much in the oven).
  9. Bake for about 15 minutes until the biscuits are golden.
  10. Remove from the oven and leave on the trays for about 15 minutes to begin cooling before removing to a wire rack.
  11. When cool, carefully melt white chocolate and drizzle over the cookies. Leave to set.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-14 unless otherwise indicated