Sugar-free* chocolate pots

Sometimes you just need a little treat. These little chocolate pots certainly fulfill the brief, and at a mere 7 g of carbs per pot, they can certainly be incorporated into a low-carb regimen.

(*My pedantic husband has pointed out that these are not, in fact, sugar-free. So, in the spirit of correctness, let the record show that bananas and chocolate do contain sugar.)

Mixture fills approx. 7 x 60 ml espresso cups

Ingredients:
250 ml double cream
1 small banana
40 g (about 1 heaped tbsp) crunchy almond butter
1/4 tsp vanilla powder
1/4 tsp salt
100 g dark chocolate (I used 85%, but by all means go higher!),
100 g unsalted butter, cubed

Chop up the banana and mash well with a fork. Place the cream, banana, almond butter, vanilla and salt in a pan and heat gently, stirring frequently, until you start to see tiny bubbles forming.

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Take the pan off the heat and add the chocolate and the butter. Stir well until the chocolate and butter have melted and everything is mixed together. You shouldn’t need to heat the mixture again to melt everything, just be patient and keep stirring! Have a taste of the mixture and add more salt if the chocolate flavour doesn’t “pop” enough. At this point you can blend the mixture so that it is completely smooth, but I like the added texture of the occasional bit of crunchy almond. Divide the mixture into espresso cups or small ramekins (but bear in mind the finished product will be very rich, so only a small amount is needed per serving).

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Place the cups in the fridge until the chocolate has set. This should only take a couple of hours, but you can prepare them in advance and leave them in the fridge for a couple of days (if they last that long). They take on a lovely fudge-like texture after 24+ hours in the fridge, yum. Enjoy!

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LCHF Spiced banana muffins

I created these muffins as a treat for the husband, who ran his PB in a 50 mile race at the weekend: 7hrs30, 15th place! He’s attributing it to our LCHF diet, so I’ve made these grain-free and sugar-free, and with 1/4 of a banana per muffin they’re pretty low carb too!

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:
3 ripe bananas
120 g butter, melted
1 tsp baharat*
150 g ground almonds
30 g coconut flour
2 eggs
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthan gum

*baharat = paprika, black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, cloves. You could substitute mixed spice with a pinch of paprika and some black pepper.

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.

Melt the butter in a bowl, add the bananas and mash together.

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Add the eggs and baharat and whisk together. In a separate bowl, mix together the ground almonds, coconut flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and xanthan gum. Mix together the wet and dry ingredients.

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Fill the muffin pan using an ice-cream scoop or other implement, and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the muffins are golden and springy to the touch.

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Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before placing them on a wire rack. Whilst the muffins are still warm, brush the tops with melted butter, for an added treat.

 

LCHF Scotch eggs

Well, it has been a while since my last post (sorry!). I still haven’t got much time to write, but here’s a little recipe to tide you over. Egg wrapped in pig, wrapped in pig.

Makes 5

Ingredients:
10 gluten free chipolatas (or about 400g sausage meat)
5 semi-soft boiled eggs – about 4 minutes
80g pork scratchings/pork rind
40g ground almonds
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

Grind the pork scratchings to a breadcrumb-like texture using a food processor (or a bag, a rolling pin and some pent-up aggression), and mix with the ground almonds and black pepper (the scratchings were already salted so I didn’t need to add any salt).

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Wrap each egg with two chipolatas (or 1/5 of the sausage meat). I used a bit of cling film to help this process along without getting too messy.

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Roll the egg in the crumb mixture, making sure it is well coated. You could use a bit of egg-wash to help the crumbs stick, but I found that the sausage meat was sticky enough.

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Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the eggs are golden.

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LCHF coconut flour scones

I’ve been doing some baking experiments with coconut flour, starting by adapting wheat flour recipes. It has been a bit of learning curve! Some things I have learnt about coconut flour:

  • It is very thirsty!! If you’re replacing wheat flour with coconut flour, you need to increase the wet ingredients at least two-fold to get the same consistency (or use about a third to half the quantity of coconut flour).
  • It needs a binding agent – I’ve been using xanthan gum (as well as eggs), but you could use psyllium husks or ground flax seeds.
  • Cooking times are a bit iffy. I find it best to start on a lower temperature, then there is less risk of burning.
  • If the bake turns out too dense you probably haven’t used enough liquid.
  • There is no gluten, so you can usually mix away to your heart’s content!

This is my first attempt at scones. I figured they are usually not sweet, so an un-sweetened coconut flour version would not stray too far from the original recipe!

Makes 8 small scones

Ingredients:
50 g coconut flour
15 g butter
100 g creme fraiche (or sour cream)
50 ml milk (roughly)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp xanthan gum

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.

Mix together all of the dry ingredients. Add the butter and rub it into the flour mixture until you get a breadcrumb consistency.

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Add the creme fraiche and mix together, the resulting mixture will be like crumble. Add enough milk so that the mixture comes together into a sticky dough (I used 50 ml, but you may need more or less). Pat the dough out onto a coconut-floured surface (or you could use a rolling pin) until it is about 1 cm thick.

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Use a small round cutter to cut out as many scones as you can. Unlike wheat flour scones, you can re-work and re-roll the dough as much as you need to. Place the scones on a lined baking tray and brush the tops with an egg wash.

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Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the scones have risen and are slightly firm to the touch (if they aren’t cooked they will sizzle when you press down on them).

Serve with a mixture of strawberries and extra-thick/clotted cream (and a cup of tea).

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LCHF Gougères

These are little savoury choux pastry puffs, and they are made in exactly the same way as regular choux pastry. So, you need to make sure all your ingredients are weighed out and ready to go to avoid any disasters! These ones are unfilled, but you could easily fill them with cream cheese or the like.

Makes about 40

Ingredients
50 g butter
60 ml water
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt
60 g ground almonds
1/2 tsp xanthan gum*
2 large eggs
25 g parmesan cheese, grated
2 tsp poppy seeds

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.

Mix together the ground almonds, salt and xanthan gum. Place the butter, water and paprika in a saucepan over a medium heat. When the butter has melted, bring the mixture to the boil, then turn off the heat and quickly add the almond mixture. Beat the mixture vigorously with a spoon or spatula until it comes together and starts to come away from the sides of the pan as you mix it. Add the parmesan cheese, and keep mixing until the mixture is cool enough to touch. Beat the eggs in one at a time until the mixture is thick and glossy. Don’t worry if the mixture looks lumpy at the egg stage, just keep mixing and it will eventually come together.

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Place the pastry in a piping bag fitted with a 0.5 cm round nozzle, and pipe small rounds onto a baking sheet lined with greaseproof pastry.

Quick tip: hold the piping bag at a 45° angle to the baking sheet, with the nozzle almost touching the surface and squeeze out a walnut-sized blob of the pastry. Finish squeezing with a quick flick to avoid leaving a tail (although if this does happen, just dip your finger in water and tidy it up a bit).

Sprinkle poppy seeds over the tops of the gougères and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the gougères are golden and crisp on the outside.

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These are best eaten straight away (what a shame…), but if you want you can keep them in an airtight container and re-heat them in the oven for a few minutes when you’re ready to use them.

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*A note about xanthan gum…I found this in the “free from” aisle of my local supermarket. It is pretty useful! It’s a gluten-free wheat-free thickening agent, and 1 tsp is enough to thicken 350ml milk. You can also use it to improve the crumb structure of gluten-free cakes and breads.

Leek & Gruyere “tartlets”

I had a real urge for quiche yesterday so I had a go at some tartlets…but instead of pastry…(wait for it)…BACON! For a first attempt they weren’t bad but I would probably tweak them a bit next time. Whilst the bacon was cooked, it was still a bit floppy, so I think some blind-baking of the bacon shells is in order for next time for a crispier base.

Makes 8 muffin-sized tartlets.

Ingredients:
9 rashers of dry-cured streaky bacon (the driest you can find). You could also use thin slices of Serrano or Parma ham…
300 ml double cream
3 eggs
1 medium leek, finely sliced
50 g butter
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp fresh or dried thyme leaves
50 g Gruyere cheese (or any other cheese that you like)

Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.

First, prepare the leeks. Melt the butter in a pan and gently fry the leeks with the thyme for about 5 minutes until slightly caramelised. Allow to cool. leeks
Next, prepare the bacon shells. Flatten the bacon rashers in between sheets of baking parchment using a rolling pin, and use to line a muffin pan. The bacon will shrink (much like pastry), so make sure there is a bit of over-hang. Use the final slice of bacon to patch up any holes.

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Whisk together the cream, eggs and black pepper (you won’t need any extra salt because the bacon will be salty enough). Divide the leeks among the tartlets and then fill to the brim with the cream mixture. Sprinkle the cheese on top.

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Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until the tartlets are puffed-up and golden brown on the top. Leave to cool in the tin (they will deflate a bit as they cool). These are best served just warm. They will keep in the fridge for a few days but you can just pop them back in the tin and warm through in the oven for 5-10 minutes. Great for breakfast, or for lunch served with a green salad and a zingy dressing.

Enjoy!

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