Mar
20
2011
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Spring Nutty Cake

Use dried fruit rather than refined sugar to sweeten desserts

As everyone indulges in mounds of cream sandwiched in huge buns consisting primarily of things that really aren’t going to do us much good (white flour and sugar), it’s time to think anew. I know that I am a party-pooper when it comes to the annual semla-fest, a Swedish tradition which is also practiced in other Northern European cultures, which originated in the need to pack in the calories before the 40 days of fasting decreed by the Catholic Church at Lent.

These days most of us do not fast anymore and the on average 4-5 gigantic semla buns that Swedes consume annually are in a continuum with all of the other calorie-rich foods that continue to be consumed on a regular basis. It’s one of those familiar things that provides a short feel-good experience and then leaves you feeling a bit, well, bloated. As you know from this blog, I’m not against cream, I just find that the increasingly wide-spread consumption of foods such as semla, which are no longer limited to the time frame of tradition (that is, you can in fact consume a semla at just about any time of year), is unfortunate. 

Now that I’ve got that out of my system, it’s time for the good news. You don’t have to abstain from a sweet, even with a dollop of cream, to be healthy. Inspired by the many unused packages of dates I received as gifts at Christmas mingles, I decided to see whether these fruits, which have a strong natural sweetness could be used in making something tasty to consume with a cup of tea. Since I always have a wide range of nuts and dried fruits stored away in my kitchen cupboard, I decided to experiment with a few of these to make a cake, without refined flour and sugar.  The result was a divine, light cake with great texture that everyone in the family enjoyed, and all made without the use of refined flour and sugar!

Spring Nutty Cake

200 grams or 7 oz. ecological dates (you can also use figs)
1 dl or 1/2 cup hazelnuts
1 dl or 1/2 cup almonds
1 dl or 1/2 cup walnuts
1 dl or 1/2 cup dessicated coconut
6 egg whites
vanilla essence or vanilla sugar

Preheat your oven at 175 C or 347 F and line a baking tin with baking paper. Run the dates through the food processor so that they are chopped very fine. Add nuts and dessicated coconut and process, one deciliter or half  cup at a time. Whip egg whites until stiff , adding vanilla sugar. Gently fold the dried fruit and nut mixture under the egg whites until a batter forms. Empty the batter into the lined baking tin and bake for 45 minutes. The cake should not be baked dry and should retain some moisture inside. If you have that whipped cream craving, don’t hesitate to add a dollop to your slice of spring nutty cake.

Written by Admin in: Cakes,Dried Fruits,Fruits,Nuts,Sweet Food | Tags: , , ,
Mar
04
2009
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Chocolate Fruit Balls

Sweet Tooth's Healthy Delight

Sweet Tooth

Kids in Sweden love them. Adults in Sweden buy them at the shops without telling their kids. They are an energy bomb and are the sweet tooth’s delight. What are they? Chokladbollar or chocolate balls! How can I possibly think of including this in a health food blog, you may well wonder. Well, let’s see.

I’ve been working on ways to create this Swedish sweet-tooth’s dream with means other than the usual bomb of butter and sugar. I’ve worked out a version with oats and honey in the past, but that still includes butter. Chocolate balls do have the virtues that you can make them bite-size and they don’t include white flour. However, I’ve got to do better than that.

So here comes my solution: chocolate balls made with dried fruit. Some of us (including me) are sensitive to dry fruit and, in general, medical science is beginning to realize that different bodies have different tolerances for high quantities of fiber. So, choose a dried fruit that agrees with you. I love dried apricots, but my stomach growls when I eat more than just a touch of them, so I combine a bit of dried apricot with dried figs, dried apples and sometimes dried cranberries. The great thing about using dried fruit to make these delicious little sweet quenchers is that the moisture and sugar in the fruit allows you to skip the sugar and butter. A little added honey and you are away. Also, if you are lactose, gluten, milk or egg intolerant, this recipe meets your needs! Here is my suggestion which can be made in many variations.

Chocolate Fruit Balls (makes about 20-25)

2 cups or 5 dl nuts of your choice (a mixture of almonds, walnuts and cashew works well)
1 cup or 2 1/2 dl dried fruits of your choice
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsps honey
either 2 tbsps grated apple or grated rind of one orange plus juice of half an orange

1/4 cup or 1 dl dessicated coconut or unsweetened cocoa powder for dipping the balls in

Grind nuts and dried fruit in a food processor until they form moist clumps. Add remaining ingredients and blend until a smooth paste. Pour the dessicated coconut or cocoa powder into a bowl. Take a tablespoon of the paste and roll into a ball, dip in the coconut/cocoa and place on a serving plate. Keep refrigerated.

Chocolate fruit balls are not just a child’s delight. They are also an elegant finish to a nice meal, particularly if everyone is too full for a major dessert. Just serve them up with coffee or tea after the meal. Very elegant indeed served on a platter and surrounded with a bit of fresh fruit.

Feb
05
2009
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Romantic Seeds

Roasted Seed Muesli

Roasted Seed Muesli

With the approach of Valentine’s Day I know that I should perhaps be throwing some oysters, clams and other libido-promoting foods into my pots. I cannot help it, though, I’m stuck on quite different ingredients when it comes to food and love.

Just imagine the house at about 11.00 a.m. filled with the irresistable aroma of dark roast coffee beans. Outside it is snowing and chilly and you’ve got the fireplace going. A solo cello concerto captures perfectly the mood of this ordinary morning that you will nevertheless always remember.

At your simple brunch table you’ve got a bowl of home-made seed muesli and a loaf of warm baked sourdough bread that you’ve just taken out of the oven. The family comes to join you and you sit musing and laughing over life and the passing of the day.

If you are enjoying my romantic brunch thought, then you’ll most certainly want my best recipe for home-made seed muesli. It is full of pumpkin seeds which, if you are interested, is one of those libido-promoting foods. A note: make sure that none of the seeds that you purchase are roasted or salted.

Roasted Seed Muesli

300 g or 1.5 cups pumpkin seeds
300 g or 1.5 cups sunflower seeds
3 dl or 1 1/3 cups linseeds, crushed
3 dl 1 1/3 cups wheat germ
2 tbps gingerbread seasoning consisting of ground ginger, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom
200 g or 7 oz dried chopped fruit – I use dried cranberries and figs
4 tbsps raw sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200 C or 390 F. Line a deep baking tray with baking paper. Blend the seeds, wheat germ and gingerbread seasoning. Bake 5 minutes, mix with a spoon, and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and blend in chopped fruit and raw sugar if a sweeter flavor is desired. When cooled store in an air-tight container. Serve sprinkled on top of yogurt or buttermilk.

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