Nutty Mocolate Cake (Gluten free)

This wonderful interpretation of the chocolate cake came to me thanks to the lovely, genuis of Indigo whole foods, an independent health/organic food shop in my native Moseley. Full of healthy non chemically tampered with goods, this shop is but one of the independent food shops in this wonderful part of Birmingham.

Upon perusing the shop and all of its wonders I came across convienience food at its finest, in the form of ground hazlenuts. Something I have never set eyes on (sold in this form) before, I snapped them up, dreaming of the lovely incarnations this ingredient would become. Time to put on my thinking cap.

Hazelnut and chocolate is a no brainer, Nutella anybody??? With chocolate cake for me being oh so drab, what better remedy than a generous helping of nuts to impart their wonderful, nutty, natural oiliness to the dry and dreariness that can all to often be, chocolate cake. I decided to use a combination of ground almonds and ground hazelnuts in the place of flour, meaning this cake is gluten free (egg whites whipped within an inch of their life are the raising secret agents). This being  a happy by product of me wanting the nutty texture, hence gluten free being in brackets. I did not set out to make a gluten free cake, it just turned out that way, which is great for everyones stomach, too much wheat cannot be a good thing!  Gluten free does not automatically spring delicious to mind, but trust me this is.

By the way this is called a Mocolate cake because I’ve sneaked in a bit off coffee, giving a lovely balance of flavours.

Nutty Mocolate Cake

125g Ground Hazlenuts

75g Ground Almonds

4 Eggs (seperated)

200g Chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

125g Unsalted Butter

125g Golden Caster Sugar

3 tbsp Coffee dissolved in 3 tbsp Hot Water

Turn oven on to 180 C. Melt chocolate in a bain marie (bowl over simmering water- water must never touch bowl!!) Cream butter and sugar until lovely and fluffy. Add yolks, nuts, chocolate, coffee. Mix, mix, mix!! Whisk egg whites until stiff. Gently fold in. Cook for around 20 mins (or until done).

Serve with whipped up cream. This is a cake that doesn’t have to be tarted up to be good (and it is on more than one level). Oh yeah and did I mention, high in protein!!! Nom, nom!!!

Please note- the picture is not my own, I had guests when this was made so, caught up in the excitement,  I stupidly forgot to take pictures ! This picture is courtesy of google images- a true likeness of the cake and its wonderful texture.

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Fuss Free Strawberry Cheesecake

Cheesecake is another sweet marvel discovered in my school days. The notorious turkey twizzler school dinners of my generation have had much bad press, although, I must say that I was never one to complain. The highlights of these joyous years being, 18p double chocolate cookies fresh out of the oven for breakfast (yes breakfast), chips, chocolate concrete and a surprisingly delightful and light vanilla cheesecake. Luckily for my health, I had  a pittance to play with and thus could not indulge my every desire, but, when cheesecake was on the menu, I would skimp on the main course to ensure I would not miss out. Chips and cheesecake it is. I have to admit the light as air, heavenly smooth texture of this is still something of a mystery to me,  l marvel at how and where their recipe was devised. Divine intervention seems the only clear answer.

This particular recipe came about when looking for a suitable answer to the challenge presented to me in the form of my brothers birthday. A health conscious, gym face who rarely gorges on anything as gluttonous cake, it needed to be special! Who knows when this boy is going to eat cake again!  He is so unacquainted with the stuff he cannot even put his finger on what he likes. So it was my job to create something that would be pleasing to a palate so ignorant to the joy that cake can bring to ones soul.

This cake is not for the health conscious, but if you are going to do cake, you need to do it properly. Especially on a landmark occasion, turning a quarter of a century is a big deal and something that must be celebrated without restraint.

I have a confession to make also. I went for the easy no bake option due to bring pressed for time and tired from another soul melting week at work. My intention was to go for the grand gesture of the baked cheesecake but, from experience and much research I believe that this cake is birthday worthy, sweet, smooth and heavenly without the fuss of creating a water bath to retain the smooth texture that I so desire (a cheesecake baked without the water bath does not a happy Louise make)!

Nobody need know that it took a fraction of the time and effort of its baked cousin mwahahahaha.

Strawberry Cheesecake 

600g soft cheese

250g double cream

100g Icing Sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla pod if you want to be fancy)

400g strawberries hulled, chopped

2 tbsp caster sugar

For the base;

100g butter (melted)

250g digestive biscuits

Line bottom of 23cm loose bottomed tin with baking parchment. Whizz biscuits in food processor, alternatively place in food bag and bash violently with rolling pin or other suitable blunt object (i find the meat tenderiser works after a long day at work). Mix with melted butter. Pack down into baking tin. Refrigerate.

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Mix cream cheese with vanilla extract. Whisk double cream and icing sugar in separate bowl to stiff peak stage (until it is stiff and can stand up without flopping down on itself). Fold cream mixture with cream cheese mixture. Fold in half of chopped strawberries. Pour onto biscuit base. Refrigerate.

Put remaining strawberries in bowl with 2 tbsp of caster sugar. After 30 mins puree in food processor (or mash with potato masher as I did, getting the food processor out seemed like a chore, although, I don’t think I got as much from the strawberries as a result). Pass through sieve and add to top of cheesecake. Leave to set  (I left the cheese cake overnight but a few hours will do).

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Voila, a deceptively easy, beautifully smooth cheesecake minus the risk of a cracked top or curdled texture. Simplicity at its finest!

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