Category Archives: gluten-free

Almond Macaroons

These are my favourite type of macaroons, wonderfully old fashioned in comparison to the fancy ones available now.  They are so easy to make and deliciously almondy with just the right amount of chewiness.

They are perfect for using up any egg whites you may have lurking in the fridge. If you have a food processor then it takes just a few minutes, and even if you haven’t it is not much more work.

They are best made on rice paper but my girls like rice paper so much they eat it before I have chance to use it.    If you don’t have rice paper then a silicone lining sheet works really well, but they also don’t stick too much to a non-stick tray as long as you lift them within a minute or two of them coming out of the oven, but be warned they are very fragile at that point.

The only problem with these is that they are completely irresistible and no good for the New Year diet.

Makes 15-18 biscuits

200g ground almonds
200g granulated sugar
40g icing sugar
3 egg whites
flaked almonds

Method

Preheat the oven to 180ºc, gas mark  4.

If you have a food processor place the almonds, sugar and icing sugar in the bowl of the processor and whizz for a few seconds.  Add the egg whites and whizz until combined.

If you don’t have a food processor them place all of the ingredients into a large bowl and beat with a wooden spoon or an electric whisk until well combined.

Line a tray with silicone paper or rice paper and place dessertspoonfuls of the mixture onto the tray.  Place a flaked almond on top of each one.

Place in the preheated oven or on the middle shelf of the baking oven of the Aga for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned all over.  Leave to cool on the tray for a few minutes and then place onto a wire rack to cool completely.

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Chocolate Nut Cake

The name for this cake could indeed have a double meaning.  I get asked if we can make a chocolate cake at least once a week, and it is very often more regular than that.  Well, the request was sounded at about 6.30 am on Sunday morning, something along the lines of  ‘Can we make a chocolate cake that we can ice and decorate’.  The request was, of course, answered with a bleary ‘Later, maybe’.  Well, I am afraid my children are determined little creatures and so after a trip to the garden centre and before making sunday lunch for my parents and our neighbours, this chocolate cake was made and iced.  It was then decorated after dinner and before pudding – very extravagantly I have to say, and there was no time to take pictures, it needed to be eaten. Needless to say it involved a lot of sugared orange and lemon slices, hundreds and thousands and silver balls.

Here is a slice I finished off about mid-morning today.

The recipe is based on Rachel Allen’s Italian Hazelnut Cake in her Bake book (ISBN 13 978 0 00 725970 0), with the added chocolate and the addition of ground almonds as I didn’t have 200g of hazelnuts in the house. Then it was iced with a fudge frosting, which is not entirely necessary but does make a very good addition.

If you use gluten-free baking powder, then this makes a delicious gluten-free cake.

For the cake:

100g whole shelled hazelnuts
100g almonds (ground or whole, depending on what you have available or go for 200g of hazelnuts should they be available to hand)
50g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
1 tsp baking powder
100g softened butter
5 eggs separated
175g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

Butter and line the base and sides of a 20 cm springform tin.  Preheat the oven to 170°c (gas mark 3) or use the baking oven of a 3 or 4 oven Aga.

Whizz the hazelnuts, almonds, baking powder and chocolate in a food processor until they are fine crumbs.  Add the butter and pulse until just combined.

Beat the egg yolks and the sugar with an electric whisk until the mixture has a mousse-like texture. Add the nut and chocolate mixture and the vanilla extract and mix until combined.

Whisk the egg whites in a very clean bowl until they are stiff.  Add one-third of the egg whites to the mixture and mix in well to loosen the mixture.  Add the rest of the egg whites in two batches, folding in very gently to retain as much air as possible.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 45-60 minutes.  I placed mine on the oven rack placed on the bottom rung of the baking oven of my Aga and it was cooked in 40 minutes, so do adjust according to your oven.  The cake is cooked when it is firm to the touch and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle.

Leave the cake in the tin for 15 minutes, then take the side off, leave for another 15 minutes and then remove the base and then leave to cool completely.

For the icing:

25g good quality dark chocolate
100g icing sugar
25g butter
1 ½ tbsp milk
½ tbsp vanilla extract

Method
Place all of the ingredients into a heavy based saucepan and heat gently until melted and stir well to combine.  Beat for a minute or two until cooled and spread onto the top of the cake.

Decorate, or not, to your heart’s desire.

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