Recipe: Mini and Terribly Inauthentic Croquembouche

Je suis à Paris!  Et alors il faut écrire une recette typiquement Française, n’est pas?

This is another time-travelling post (spooky!), which is always a risk.  I’ll look pretty silly if I perish in a glacier last week and then this post appears, that’s for sure.

Anyway, assuming no glacier perishment, at the time you are reading this, I am probably sleeping the sleep of the just after a day spent cycling around the gardens of Versailles.  So if any of my GCC buddies are reading this, I want you to know that I’m keeping up the good walk while I’m away.  Or at least, past me thinks that future me will be doing so…

I actually made this croquembouche for Bastille Day (mais oui!), so if you pay close attention to the photo, you will notice that the crème patissière is jumping up and down crying “Liberté”, as it attempts to ooze its way out of the profiteroles.  The profiteroles are, of course, all about “Egalité”, because in a world in which I were actually competent at profiteroles, they would all be the same size.  And meanwhile, the caramel is grimly embodying “Fraternité”, as it tries with all its sugary might to hold the entire tower together in brotherly union.

Having stretched that metaphor as far as it can go and probably further (I’m writing this just before leaving Melbourne and I’m not yet packed, so I’m ever so slightly beside myself right now), let us move on to the recipe itself.  This is the first time I have attempted croquembouche, so naturally I took liberties with the recipe.  Of course I did.  But they were very nice liberties – I used Harry Eastwood’s low-fat profiterole recipe, which actually made some of the best profiteroles I’ve managed yet, and I used my almond milk crème patissière (chocolate and vanilla varieties) inside the chou pastry.  And it’s probably a very good thing I’m leaving France in a couple of days, because they will probably kick me out if they find out what I did to their classic wedding cake recipe.

You know what, though?  It tasted *really* good.  Really, really good.  Better than any other croquembouche I’ve tried so far.  I think it’s that amazing crème patissière recipe, to be honest.  The chocolate version, in particular, is to die for.  Also, almond milk reduces the richness just enough that six people really can demolish this entire tower without regretting it too badly afterward…


Your shopping list

For the crème patissière:

500 ml almond milk + 100ml f0r the chocolate cream
1 vanilla pod
125 g caster sugar100 g egg yolks (from about 5-6 eggs)
40 g custard powder
25 g cocoa butter
100 g dark chocolate, chopped

For the profiteroles

250 ml water
10 g caster sugar1/2 tsp salt
60 g butter
140 g spelt flour
4 eggs

For the toffee

About 300 g sugar – I’m afraid I didn’t measure it.

You will also need at least three piping bags with plain nozzles – one large nozzle and two small.

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This is not a glacier

Hello!  This blog post is a message from the past – a time-travelling blog post, if you will.  As you read this post, if all is going according to plan, I will be on a train on my way to Folgefonna Glacier in Norway.  Or possibly already on the glacier.  The aim is to go hiking, ideally without breaking my neck.  Since I am a total klutz, and glaciers are slippery, there is no guarantee that I will succeed.  Please keep your fingers crossed for me!

Anyway, to celebrate my close encounter of the cold kind, I thought I would launch a new page for my blog today.  Welcome to my Raw Food page!

(See what I did there?  Cold food to go with my cold journey…)

As you will see, it’s not the longest page on this blog, but I hope to give it more fodder soon, so that it can be a go-to page for food that doesn’t require switching on the stove or the oven.  Which, given that I am writing this in a middle of a Melbourne winter and will be posting this while I am on (or possibly under, but let’s hope not) a glacier, is possibly a little ironic.  Like rain on your wedding day, only with actual irony.

I hope you are all well, and I will try to post some photos of my travels soon.

Speedy Travelling Blog Post!

I have fifteen minutes of free internet, and you, my dear readers, are apparently the people I want to talk to!

I’m writing this from Paris airport, while I wait for my flight to Trondheim.  Mostly, I’m writing this in order to stay awake, because I spent all of Sunday bridesmaiding, then stayed up to see Andrew off and then catch a plane myself in the pre-dawn hours of Monday morning.  I’ve been in transit ever since, but the end is in sight, and the good news is that I’ve neither lost my luggage nor had it torn in two, so far.  (The trouble with working with so many travellers is that I hear *all* the horror stories…)

The wedding was gorgeous, and I’ll write about it properly when I don’t have a time limit, though I will say that one highlight of the weekend was definitely bonding with Anne, one of Hilbert’s two attendants, over raw vegan cakes at the Mindi Beach Market.  We also joined forces on the Friday to create the most vegan-friendly pre-wedding barbecue that ever contained token meat, which was heaps of fun.  Even the ‘Fleisch ist meine Gemuse’ German boys liked our salads and salsas and felafels.  Or at least, they ate them quite happily… (and were duly appalled to learn that the chocolate tart they had just eaten contained… tofu!)

You probably don’t want to hear about airline food, but since it has been a significant feature of my life over the last few days, you are going to anyway.  So herewith, the pros and cons of selecting the vegetarian menu option when you fly.

Pro: You get fed before anyone else!

Con: Which means that you have to wait longer to get your tray table removed, so that you can get back to your sticker mosaic project (don’t ask).

Pro: The very worst scrambled tofu cannot compete in awfulness with Mystery Meat Stew.

Con: Congratulations, you are gluten free!  Or vegan!  Or low fat!  Basically, pick at least two accompanying dietary requirements, and that’s where you are.

(this is only a con because most airlines are not especially good at gluten-free vegan food)

Pro: Lentils.  If you like lentils, you have come to the right place.  Pasta, too.

Con: Fruit salad for dessert.  Every. Single. Time.  Apparently, vegetarians don’t like chocolate mousse or tiramisu.  Who knew?

Pro: Though when you are flying out of Malaysia, the fruit is at least quite interesting…

And that’s about it from me – tiredness has just turned into dizziness, so I shall use my remaining three minutes to figure out how to post this.

Hope you are doing well!


Up, up and away!

This is it!  By the time you read this post, I will be on a plane to Darwin, which will be followed, several days later, by a plane to Norway.  I’ll be away for three and a half weeks in total, during which time I suspect I will have little, if any, internet access, so you can expect it to be quiet around here.  Not that it hasn’t been anyway, but at least this time you will know in advance.

Have a safe and happy August, and may your table always be full!

PS: I have blue hair.  This wasn’t entirely intentional, but I am certainly enjoying it while it lasts…


Recipe: Lisa’s Low Fructose Gingerbread Bliss Balls

I’m procrastinating from packing.  I don’t know why I’m so scared of packing, but I totally am, which means that instead of packing I have resorted to things like cleaning the bathroom, baking cakes (so that Andrew still feels loved while I’m away), and now, finally fulfilling a promise from months and months ago to create some bliss balls for a friend of mine who is now having to avoid fructose.  Sorry about the wait, Lisa.

It’s actually a bit difficult to make bliss balls (or raw truffles, as I tend to call them) without fructose, because pretty much all the recipes use dates or other dried fruits to hold the balls together and make them sweet.  Fortunately, I have a chocolate truffle recipe that doesn’t involve fruit – until I put freeze-dried raspberries into it, of course – and so I was able to modify this into a slightly healthier, less rich snack that will hopefully fit the bill.

I rather like the treacly darkness of these truffles, but I admit, my first batch was a bit low in the spice department.  I suspect they will get a bit spicier if you leave them to mature for a few days as the raw ginger permeates the mixture, but I, personally, would definitely add more ginger to begin with – and in fact, the recipe below reflects the amount of ginger that *I* think these bliss balls need…



Your shopping list

1/2 cup rolled oats
60 g fresh ginger
1/2 cup almond butter
1/4 cup melted cocoa butter
1/4 cup treacle
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
a pinch of nutmeg

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Indices updated!

My recipes should now be significantly easier to find than they were a few days ago.

Goodnight, all!

Recipe: Teeny Tiny Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes with Spices

I think we all knew it wouldn’t take long before I felt compelled to create a recipe modelled on those fantastic vegetable-based cakes from Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache (also known as My Favourite Cookbook Ever Ever Ever).

Of course, if one is going to create a recipe full of stealth vegetables and following Harry Seaton’s methods, one must naturally provide a suitable introductory paragraph.  Hmm, let’s see…

This recipe is sophisticated, yet comforting, like the scent of your mother’s Chanel No. 5 perfume as she kisses you on her way out the door.  The chocolate and hazelnut hug you into a Nutella-flavoured embrace, while the cinnamon and ginger wink slyly at you like your favourite babysitter – the one who lets you stay up way too late and watch all the things on TV that you’re not supposed to.

(OK, I have to say that those blurbs are harder to write than they looked. Or at least, they are if you want to keep them G-rated.  The ginger and cinnamon kept on trying to slide the whole thing into some very dubious territory indeed.  Good grief.)

More straightforwardly, let’s just say that these cupcakes are lovely little bites of spicy, chocolatey goodness – far less ferociously hot than my chilli cupcakes, but still gently warming.  Just right for a winter’s night.


Your Shopping List

75g hazelnut meal
50g rice flour
25g cocoa + 20 g for the icing1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
70 g caster sugar
1 egg
100 g zucchini, peeled and very finely grated (do this at the last minute)
100 icing sugar
30 ml boiling water
24 roasted hazelnuts, optional Continue reading

Fructose intolerance page now has recipes!

Just a note that I have finally gone through my entire recipe collection up to January of this year side by side with the list of fructose friendly and unfriendly foods I got from Shepherd Works, and have updated my low fructose page accordingly.  Note that I have not yet updated which foods are low fructose and which aren’t across my other dietary requirement pages – I hope to get to those in the next few days, along with indexing everything from February to July.

(I’m sure it thrills you to read this as much as it thrills me to do it)!

Andrea Sherko, Andrew McLean liked this post

Recipe: Easy Overnight Porridge

I’m writing this one down as much for my own use as for yours.  I’ve been sort of curious and appalled by the idea of porridge for years – it looks so dreadful – but I’ve also secretly been aware that I really do like both oats and honey, so how bad can this food actually be?  In fact, the primary reason I haven’t discovered porridge until recently has been, quite simply, that it all looked as though it would take far too long to cook, and I am not a morning person.

Also, hot milk is sort of icky.

Anyway.  Here’s my entirely non-traditional version of porridge.  It replaces dairy milk with almond milk, which I feel is a great improvement, and it has a bit of yoghurt for tang, and honey for sweetness.  Best of all, because you soak it overnight, it cooks in about three minutes, while you are pottering around feeding and tripping over the cats and letting their furry majesties outside (which, in our household, has evolved into an entire ritual requiring each madam to be patted and the cat door opened for her while she peers through and decides whether the outside world is truly deserving of her gracious self.  No, I don’t know how this happened.  I’m pretty sure Andrew started it, because he is far more owned by the cats than I am, but he denies this.  Mystery claims that it has always been this way, and always will be, and who am I to argue with a cat of her magnificence?), and it’s lovely and warming and sustains you all the way through to lunchtime…

Also, I could pretend that this bastion of Scottish Breakfasts is my tribute to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, but since I only thought of that as I was finishing off this blog post, I’ll stop tartan up the story with reel bad Scottish puns, and just note that porridge should always, always be served piping hot.  (Bagpipes optional.  Very optional in our house.  I went to a Scottish school that was *obsessed* with bagpipes and insisted on offering free bagpipe lessons to anyone who wanted them, which meant that all our classes were accompanied by the squirl of badly-played bagpipes.  And not just our classes, because we lived close enough to the school that we could even hear the bagpipes from home.  It’s been more than twenty years, and I am still traumatised by this…)


Your Shopping List

1/3 cup rolled oats (not the quick oats)
1/2 cup almond milk
1/3 cup yoghurt
1-2 teaspoons of spiced honey, or plain honey plus a sprinkling of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Continue reading

Review: Red Velvet Chocolate & Chocolate Heartache – Harry Eastwood

Have you ever had a favourite favourite cookbook in all the world, a cookbook that is perfect in every way, that sings your name in a siren-like voice, a cookbook that compels you to bake nineteen different cakes over the space of about four weeks, because you are nothing if not OBSESSED by the glory that is that cookbook?  A cookbook, moreover, that in addition to producing exactly the right sort of cake for you in every possible way, is also clearly written by a kindred spirit – a person who loves food with the same slightly crazed passion that you do, and who puts the icing on the cake (so to speak) by dividing the chapters of the book by colour and anthropomorphising all the recipes in a deliciously bonkers way?


Well, I do.  It’s called Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache, it is by Harry Eastwood, and it is my favourite cookbook of all time.

9780593062364Here are some things you should know about this book:

1. The cakes all have vegetables in them.  You can’t tell.  Some of them even contain turnips, but they are stealth turnips, so nobody has to know.  This fills me with glee.  Ninja vegetables!
2. Most of the cakes are both gluten- and dairy-free, but you really can’t tell that, either.  This has been scientifically tested on real scientists.  By me.  Almost daily during the month of July.
3. The introductions to the recipes are absolutely adorable and often hilarious.
4. I can’t stop making the recipes in this book.  Seriously, I’ve had this book for two four weeks, and I think I’m up to seven nineteen recipes baked so far.  Eighteen of them have been raging successes.  The nineteenth, everyone else liked except me, and I think I just didn’t make it very well (steamed puddings are not something I make very often)
5. I have already ordered Ms Eastwood’s second cookbook, and will be ordering the third as soon as I can justify it.  Which might be tomorrow.  These things happen.
6. I wish I’d written this cookbook.  Seriously, it’s brilliant.  I mean, what sort of mind looks at a chocolate cake and thinks, you know what would make this even better?  Eggplant.  And what sort of person thinks that and is absolutely 100% right?  A genius, that’s who.  I think I’m in love…

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