Quick Chocolate Muffins with no refined sugar and no added fats

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Quick Chocolate Muffins with no added sugar and no added fats.  Photography CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

‘quick and easy chocolate muffins sweetened with dates.  They contain no added fats and are moist and delicious’

You will need:

250g dates
200ml warm water
250g self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vinegar
4 eggs
a pinch of cinnamon
a pinch of coffee powder
a pinch of salt
vanilla
4 tablespoons chocolate powder
3 tablespoons cocoa nibs [optional]

Soak the dates in the warm water. Prepare a muffin tin with paper cases.
Use a hand blender to bind the dates with the water until they form a smooth paste.
Sieve the self raising flour,chocolate powder and baking powder twice. Add the vanilla, salt, cinnamon and coffee powder. Mix the ingredients together until the mixture is consistent. Beat the eggs and add them to the blended dates. Add the vinegar and mix well to get a consistent mixture. Add the liquid ingredients to the flour mixture and use a large metal spoon to fold in without over mixing. If you are using the cocoa nibs add them. Pour the batter into the Pour the batter into the muffin cases and bake for 25 minutes.
Allow to cool slightly before taking the muffins out of the tin.

I topped my muffins with a mix of fresh berries.

I use ingredients by Good Earth

Healthier Salted Caramel Bars

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Healthier Salted Caramel Bars, photo by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

‘these biscuits are gluten free, lactose free with no added refined sugar.  They can be stored in the fridge for a week and in the freezer for 3 months.  Today the feast of St Gregory is celebrated and I enjoyed the phone ins from our viewers in this morning’s show as they narrated their memories and shared the history of this feast day.  thank you x’

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For the base layer you will need:

100g oatmeal or ground oats
25g ground almonds
50ml agave  [if not vegan you can use honey]
4 tablespoons coconut paste

Heat the oven to 180C.  Prepare a baking tray by lining it with baking paper. Place the ingredients in a large bowl and mix until it is consistent.  Bring the dough together with your hands and place on a clean surface.  Press and use a rolling pin to roll out then cut into rectangles [either 12 pieces or 18 smaller ones].  Place on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool completely.

For the salted caramel layer you will need:

200g chopped dates
1 tablespoon nut butter [I used hazelnut butter]
2 tablespoons coconut paste
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Place all the ingredients in a saucepan with 50 ml of water.  Use gentle heat and stir until the dates are broken down.  If necessary add some more water.

Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.  Roll the mixture into small balls then press them down on to the cooled down biscuits.  Use a teaspoon to smooth it down.

And you will also need to coat the biscuits with :

250g melted chocolate to coat.  [I used lactose free, sugar free]
1 tablespoon olive oil

Melt the chocolate in a bain marie or in the microwave.  Mix in a tablespoon of olive oil and stir until the mixture is smooth and shiny.

Gently dip the biscuits into the melted chocolate until they are fully covered.  Place on a dish covered with baking paper and allow the biscuits to set in the fridge for an hour.

Trade Enquiries: Coconut Paste by Govinda and Chocolate Valor both from J Calleja Import Export Ltd

Quick No-bake Easter Treats

‘No celebration is complete without a sweet treat. Here are a few quick and easy chocolate recipes that require no baking that will be a hit for Easter. ‘

Carrot and date coconut balls

1 large carrot, grated
A pod of vanilla
2 cups oats
1/2 cup dates
A pinch of salt
1/4 cup mixed chopped almonds and Pistachios (optional)
A pinch of cinnamon
A grating of fresh nutmeg
A pinch of mixed spice
Grated zest of a tangerine
Water
2 cups coconut for rolling the balls

In a saucepan, place the dates and grated carrot. Add 1/4 cup of water, the spices and grated citrus zest and allow the dates to break down on low heat. Add more water, a few tablespoons at a time, if necessary, and do not allow the mixture to dry up. When the dates are soft and mushy turn off the heat, mix and allow to cool.

In a large bowl place the oats, add the vanilla and then add the cooled down date and carrot mixture. Add the chopped nuts (optional) and mix until the consistency is even.

Use a melon scoop to measure out the balls. Shape them lightly in your hands and roll in coconut. Place on a tray covered with baking paper and, if you are making them last minute, place them in the freezer to set quickly.

Chocolate Nests

100g chocolate
50g butter
1 tbsp honey
150g Cornflakes, organic and gluten-free
An assortment of mini Easter eggs

Quick and effective, these gluten and dairy free chocolate nests can be prepared last minute and frozen until needed, then decorated with mini Easter eggs.

I use gluten free organic cornflakes and dairy-free chocolate with no added sugar.

Break up the chocolate and place it in a large bowl with the butter and honey.

Place the bowl on a simmering bowl of water (bain marie) making sure it does not touch the water. Stir the ingredients until the chocolate and butter melt and it appears consistent.

Remove the bowl from the heat and add the cornflakes. Mix until the cornflakes are all coated with the chocolate mix.

Prepare a muffin tin with muffin cases, or line the whole tin and cavities with cling film.

Divide the mixture into the 12 spaces and use a spoon to press down and make an indentation in the middle of each chocolate nest.

Put in fridge for a couple of hours. Peel off the muffin cases or cling film. Arrange the nests on a decorative plate and place the mini Easter eggs in each nest.

Baci

2 packets gluten-free, plain biscuits
4 tbsp cocoa powder
100g crushed hazelnuts
50g whole hazelnuts
2 tbsp ground hazelnuts
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp brandy/rum
100ml coconut milk
200g melting chocolate
4 tbsp coconut

Our Easter meal nearly always finishes with Baci, either the delicious store-bought ones all the way from Perugia, or homemade ones made with condensed milk. My recipe has reduced sugar and reduced fat and contains no condensed milk.

They still taste marvellous and you would not know the difference. They are also gluten-free!

Crush the biscuits very finely. In a bowl, mix together the biscuits, cocoa powder, crushed hazelnuts, coconut, honey, rum and skimmed milk. Mix well.

Bind the mixture into very small balls. On top of every ball put a hazelnut.

Leave to set for four hours before you cover using the melting chocolate. Cool down quickly and allow to set in the freezer.

Rocky Road

135 g butter
300 g dark chocolate
4 tbsp agave
250 g Digestive biscuits
100 g marshmallows
100g Smarties, or M&Ms
100g milk chocolate
Chocolate confetti

This mix of chocolate, marshmallows and biscuits is a firm favourite with children and a great occasional treat.

Melt the butter, dark chocolate, carob syrup and golden syrup in a saucepan.

Put the biscuits into a plastic bag and crush them roughly with a rolling pin, so that there is a mix of pieces and crumbs.

Mix the biscuit pieces into the melted chocolate mixture, and then add the marshmallows and mix.

Tip into a tin foil tray (24cm / 9 inch square) lined with cling film. Melt the milk chocolate and drizzle over the top. Scatter the Smarties or M&Ms over the surface, followed by the chocolate confetti.

Place in freezer if using on the same day (or overnight in the fridge).

Cut into fingers before serving.

Lea’s Good Food Everyday is available via Midsea Books

Trade Enquiries:  Rimus Group  for President Butter

Vegan Baci, italian hazelnut kisses x

As seen on tv gluten free Baci with reduced sugar and reduced fat

As seen on tv gluten free home made italian chocolate kisses x Baci x with reduced sugar and reduced fat

Nearly every celebration finishes with Baci here, either the delicious ready bought ones all the way from Perugia or home made ones made with condensed milk.  This recipe still produces Baci with a marvelous taste but they contain no added sugar, no fats, no lactose or dairy products and they are vegan ‘

You will need:

2 packets gluten free plain biscuits
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
100g crushed hazelnuts
2 tablespoons ground hazelnuts
3 tablespoons agave
4 tablespoons coconut
2 tablespoons brandy/rum OR Aronia liquid concentrate
100ml coconut milk
200g chocolate with no added sugar [Valor]
50g whole hazelnuts

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Hazelnut italian kisses are a must at Christmas x Baci x As seen on TV
Photo: Roger Azzopardi

Crush the biscuits very finely.
In a bowl mix together the biscuits, cocoa powder, crushed hazelnuts, coconut, honey, rum and skimmed milk. Mix well.
Bind the mixture into very small balls. On top of every ball put a hazelnut.
Leave to set for 4 hours or overnight in the fridge before you cover using the melting chocolate.  Leave to set overnight in the fridge before serving.

The baci you see in the photos are from our live tv show which runs for 2 1/2 hours every afternoon.  Nothing is staged and all the food is prepared from scratch, everything you see is made in real time with the participation of a live audience.    If you make these baci allowing the time required for the filling and then the chocolate to set, your hand chocolates will be even more beautiful 🙂

Chocolate Coconut cake with reduced sugar and no butter

All in one chocolate coconut cake with reduced sugar

All in one chocolate coconut cake with reduced sugar

Some of my readers tell me that they are not able to get used to the taste of Stevia. Of course Stevia is not processed sugar and our tastebuds need to adjust. This chocolate coconut cake which I made during our show this week has equal quantities of sugar and stevia, with the idea of gradually eliminating sugar.

For the chocolate coconut cake you will need:

2 cups self raising flour
1 cup coconut
1 cup stevia
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup olive oil
half a cup plain yoghurt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
a few drops vanilla
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee
3 eggs
1 cup water

In a saucepan gently heat the yoghurt, olive oil, water, coffee powder, vanilla and sugar. Stir and do not allow to boil. Remove from heat and stir.

In a separate bowl sieve and mix together the self raising flour, coconut and stevia.

Sieve the flour

Sieve the flour

Prepare a 23 cm tin lightly greased with butter and then dusted with flour. Remove excess flour.

Mix the liquid ingredients with the dry ingredients and fold in.

Adding eggs :)

Adding eggs 🙂

Stir in the eggs. Pour the batter into the prepared cake dish. Sprinkle coconut on the surface.

Chocolate Coconut cake prior to baking

Chocolate Coconut cake prior to baking

Bake at 160C for 35 minutes.

While it was still hot, i brushed mine with warm honey and dusted more coconut powder. The keep will keep moist for around 10 days if kept well in a air tight container.

Photography Ian Noel Pace

Cakes without butter and refined sugar

I love baking, especially when I develop new recipes and try to perfect them. It takes time and patience but over the past few years I have developed a range of cakes and bakes with no added butter or processed sugar.

Cakes should be fluffy and light. The bulk of processed sugar and the flavour and consistency of butter is often needed to achieve the right consistency in cakes. I am sharing some of my favourite ones this week. I featured them first on television last winter and, to my delight, they were such a success with the audience that many who never made cakes before were sending us photos of their results.

The big secret to achieving that light and fluffy texture is not to overmix. You will not need any electric mixers or gadgets. Simply sift the flour and dry ingredients into a large bowl and the liquid ingredients into another bowl. Then, gently fold in the liquids into the dry mix and fold in firmly, yet gently, as though handling something very fragile, until the batter is barely mixed.

Then just pour the batter into your cake tin and place in the middle shelf of a preheated oven immediately. I use a 23cm cake tin. I have included some recipes using cup measurements… it speeds up preparation and it is a great investment to your baking equipment at home.

Chocolate Rose Cake

250g self-raising flour
2 tbsps cocoa powder
1 level tsp baking powder
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp oats
1 tsp corn flour
A few drops vanilla essence

You do not need a mixer for this cake, gently fold in the dry ingredients into the liquids and, after baking it, pierce all over with a skewer and sprinkle with rosewater.

Sieve the flour and mix all the dry ingredients together until the appearance is consistent.

In another bowl mix:
4 eggs
1 tbsp apple organic vinegar
250ml ricotta
1 medium, cooked beetroot, peeled and chopped

200g dates chopped into small pieces, or stevia (check the jar for conversion and add equivalent to 200g of sugar)

Use a hand blender or liquidiser to bring the mixture to a very smooth paste. Fold in the dry mix into the liquid mix, gently, a little at a time and work fast. Pour the cake batter into a prepared cake tin. Bake in a preheated oven ay 160ºC for 35 minutes.

Remove from oven and, while still warm, pierce the surface all over using a skewer or a toothpick and sprinkle 5 tbsp rosewater. Allow to cool before removing from the cake tin.

Carrot Orange Cake #goodfoodeveryday

Carrot and Orange Cake

Mix these ingredients together in a large bowl:
200g self-raising flour
100g oats
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Mix these ingredients together in another bowl:
180g grated carrots
Grated zest of 2 oranges

Blend these ingredients together until the mixture is smooth and consistent:
100ml olive oil
200g golden raisins
4 eggs
Juice of 2 oranges

The cake is moist, sweet with natural sugars from carrots and oranges and laced with the flavour of cinnamon, it is simply divine.

Method

Preheat oven to 160C. Prepare a 23cm cake dish and grease it, if necessary. Add the carrot mix to the flour mix and combine making sure that the carrots are covered with the flour. Add the blended liquids. Fold in using a large metal spoon.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 40 minutes without opening the oven for the first 25 minutes. Check with a wooden skewer and, if required, bake for a further five to 10 minutes.

Banana Coconut Cake #goodfoodeveryday

Banana and coconut cake

3 cups self raising flour
2 cups coconut
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Few drops vanilla extract or half a vanilla pod
1 cup ricotta
4 eggs, separated, egg whites beaten until they stand in peaks
4 bananas
Juice of one lemon
1 tbsp corn flour

Instead of processed sugar, use 1.5 cups golden raisins soaked in just enough water to cover for a few hours or overnight.

Then, simply use a hand blender to process to a pulp.In a large bowl sieve the flour and cornflour.

Add the bicarbonate of soda and coconut; mix.

In another bowl, use a hand blender to process the bananas, lemon juice, egg yolks, vanilla, ricotta. Add the puréd golden raisins.

Add the flour mixture a little at a time and mix in using a metal spoon. Finally, add the beaten egg whites. Fold in gently.

Immediately pour the cake mix into a prepared cake tin and bake in a preheated oven at 170ºc for 35 minutes.

Granny’s Fruit Loaf #Goodfoodeveryday

Granny’s Fruit Loaf

250g self-raising flour
100g ricotta
1 spoon olive oil
1 spoon cornflour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 apple, peeled and roughly chopped
Juice of half a lemon
3 eggs separated
6 tbsp stevia or 150g golden raisins soaked in water overnight and pureed
250g dried fruit (raisins, sultanas, candid peel, cherries, currants)
A few drops good vanilla extract or half a vanilla pod
Grated zest of a lemon
Grated zest of an orange
A pinch of mixed spice

Sift the flour. Add the ricotta chopped into pieces and olive oil and use the rub in method as you would do with butter. Add the vanilla, the citrus zest and mixed spice. Then add the dried fruit. Puree the apple with the egg yolks and lemon juice. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff. Add the bicarbonate to the ricotta and flour mix. Then add the apple and egg yolk mix and finally fold in the egg whites using a metal spoon. Pour the batter into a cake mould or loaf tin. Bake for 40 minutes at 170ºC.

I use ingredients by Good Earth Distributors

Coconut Chocolate Bakes, no added refined sugar, no added fats

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This bake contains no butter and no added refined sugar.  You will need:

  • 200g flour
  • 100g  coconut
  • 125g ricotta
  • 2 tablespoons agave
  • 2 drops good vanilla extract
  • grated zest of half an orange
  • 1 egg
  • cold water
  • 200g dark chocolate and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to decorate plus roasted chopped almonds (optional)

coconut and ricotta bakes with  chocolate

Preheat the oven to 170C.  Sieve the flour.  Add the ricotta/  Rub it into the flour using your fingertips.  Add the coconut and honey and mix well.  Add the other ingredients except the water and egg and mix.  Now add the beaten egg and mix using a knife.  Add the cold water, starting with three spoons and mix and then add a spoon at a time until you form a dough. Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for half an hour.  Cut small pieces of dough and press into the almond shaped non stick moulds.  Flatten the surface.  Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool down. Melt the chocolate and add half a spoon of olive oil.  Place in a small jug.. Hold the jug firmly and drizzle the chocolate over the bakes moving your arm quickly backwards and forwards until they are uniformly and neatly decorated.

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They are soft and moist.

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My kitchenware comes from Tescoma, flour and baking goods from St George’s Brand, chocolate by Valor.

St Peter’s Pool, chocolate and cherries

You can now follow my blog via Facebook

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I had to borrow the photo of St Peter’s Pool in the South of the island. An amazing place and a must to visit if you are here.

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And some more fun with these chocolates studded with cherries. They are tiny, just bite size and great as a treat but also look stunning on a table served with coffee. Rather than moulds, I used cutters and you simply push the chocolates out once they are set to get completely perfect shapes.

To make 12, you will need:

300g white chocolate
1 spoon Olive oil
6 cherries, stone removed, cut in half
12 Cutters
Baking paper

Line a dish with baking paper. Place the cutters on top of the paper.
Melt the chocolate. Add a spoon of olive oil and stir.
Use a measuring jug to pour the melted chocolate into the cutters.
Before it solidifies place half a cherry in the centre of each cutter.
Place in the fridge for an hour.
Push out of the cutters and serve.

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Flourless, no added sugar, no added butter chocolate cake

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One of my listeners on the radio show asked me if I had a recipe for a chocolate cake without flour and after two trials today, here is the best version:

1 1/2 cups pure ground almonds
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2cup dates, chopped up
1 cup prunes, chopped up
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 eggs
Few drops good vanilla extract
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 170 C.

Place all the ingredients into a large bowl. Use a hand blender to combine into a smooth paste.

Prepare a cake tin 20cm greased with a touch of oil.

Add the baking powder into the batter.

Stir gently.
Pour the batter into the cake tin.
Bake for 35 minutes.
Leave to cool before removing from the pan.

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Another day with clear skies, as though it is the start of summer. This is a glorious country, no words to describe.

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Mincemeat with dark chocolate bits

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I really like this mincemeat filling with dark chocolate pieces.  I use vegetable suet and this is mincemeat that you can use straight away without maturing.  You will need:

500g currants
500g raisins
500g sultanas
250g apples, peeled and cored
200g chopped almonds
1 lemon, juice and zest
100g vegetable suet
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2teaspoon nutmeg
100g Grated dark chocolate
Pinch of Salt
6 tablespoons brandy

Thoroughly mix everything well in a large bowl. You can use this mincemeat immediately without leaving to mature !

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