♥ Chocolate Honey and Cinnamon Cake
♥ Eton Mess Roulade
In recent years, gluten-free diets have become more prominent. Whether it’s the awareness of Coeliac Disease that has come to light or the intrigue with people trying to change their diet after noticing sensitivity, gluten-free labels have popped up left, right and centre.
Knowing a few people who are gluten intolerant, when it comes to cake and dessert, it seems the common issues are texture and high sugar content. There are of course the healthier kind of treat encased with fruit and chia for jelly-like puddings. Today, though, I am presenting two fitting desserts to be enjoyed as indulgent treats in the hope of dispelling the fear of absent gluten.
Although the recipes here are in no way healthy, I have actively tried to cut the refined sugar measures as much as possible and instead gone big on flavour and texture. The richness of the desserts means portions can be smaller too.
Using dark chocolate with cinnamon and honey provides sweetness without adding a high volume of refined sugar for the cake. For the roulade, the sweetness of the meringue, jam and fruit means the cream can remain completely unsweetened. Using a sugar-free jam might be an idea if you are really watching the sugar levels.
Whatever you decide, go ahead and try these recipes out. Without the wheat flour, the desserts have a lighter and airy taste packed with character. I myself am not intolerant to gluten but I find them both delicious, distinctive and exciting.
First up, a chocolate cake which is rich but soft, wonderful to have after a celebratory dinner. It has spiced festive flavours and although winter is far from now, it can be enjoyed chilled with a scoop of ice cream. It is loosely based on a Nigella recipe for flourless chocolate cake. However, I wanted to create a chocolate cake with a different impact. Something special not only gluten free but special for everyone to enjoy.
I used Mauritian honey I picked up on my travels, vanilla my in-laws brought back from a vanilla farm in India, Swiss dark chocolate and cinnamon apparently from Saigon (well Cost-Co). A truly international cake; something that easily transpires when living in Dubai.
The cake is decorated heavily with sprinkles and piped cream, something I did in order to impress. Nonetheless, the basic cake with just the cream spread on top or even without is good in itself. I baked this recently for friends who collectively and beautifully described it as an indulgently light delight of a fudge-like, moist, brownie cake. I think that’s a pretty good and satisfactory summation; no signs of flour deprivation there.
Flourless Chocolate Honey and Cinnamon Cake - Gluten Free
This is a rich but soft cake made lighter with the absence of flour. The cinnamon spice pairs well adding warmth to the deep dark chocolate flavours and the honey gives it a sweet floral finish. A unique twist to the average chocolate cake.
Take out the eggs to bring to room temperature. Line and grease a 9 inch round tin, preferably springform. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Break the dark chocolate into small pieces.
Melt the dark chocolate with the butter in a bowl sat over a pan of simmering water (bain-marie). Ensure the bowl is not in contact with the hot water. Stir as it warms to aid even melting.
Once it has turned into a shiny liquid, take the bowl off the pan. Add the vanilla, honey, cinnamon and salt and stir well into the chocolate. Leave aside to cool.
Using an electric whisk or stand mixer, whisk the eggs and gradually add the sugar until the mixture has tripled in volume. It will become a pale yellow foam. It is possible to whisk manually although you may be at it for quite a while!
Mix the cocoa into the almond and add into the foamed egg.
Pour the melted chocolate butter mix into the foamed egg. Gently fold everything together with a large spoon or spatula ensuring not to over stir and lose too much of the foamy volume.
Pour the cake batter into the tin and place in the oven for 35 minutes. Check the centre of the cake is firm but still slightly squidgy. If it is too soft, keep in the oven for another 5 minutes.
Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool for a minute before covering with a tea towel. This prevents the cake from forming a crust (a good tip picked up from Nigella). Leave the cake to cool completely. If you are not using a springform pan, I suggest removing the cake from the tin at this point before adding the topping.
Break the chocolate into small pieces. Warm the cream in a small pan until just simmering (ensure it does not boil). Take the pan off the heat and drop the chocolate in. Let it sit for a moment before stirring to melt into the cream. It should form into a smooth chocolate ganache. Stir in the honey.
Once the cake has cooled completely. Pour the chocolate ganache into the dip of the cake (the small dip would have formed on cooling). Spread with a knife to even out if required.
OPTIONAL: Decorate with the chocolate sprinkles.
Dust with icing sugar and leave the cake to set.
Place the cocoa and cream into a bowl and whisk until whipped and stiff.
Pipe the cream onto the cake in 3 concentric rings. Or if not decorated with sprinkles, simply dollop the cream in the middle and spread swirling with a knife for a more rustic look.
Finally, release the cake from the tin. Decorate with broken cinnamon sticks to display the cinnamon flavour if desired. Serve cutting with a sharp knife dipped in hot water then dried. This will give nice clean slices.
This cake is best served chilled. Keep refrigerated for at least half an hour before serving.
This second gluten free dessert in contrast is sweet but fruity and fresh. A meringue roulade based on a British classic as a base for flavours, Eton Mess. The sharp berry taste with cream and meringue can never be a bad idea.
I have made meringue roulades several times with chocolate and nuts. However, with fresh berries coming into season, I thought I would make the most of the wonderfully sweet strawberries, raspberries and blueberries on offer.
The layers of white chocolate and jam protect the meringue from dissolving into the cream keeping it crispy. Also flaked almonds add another element of texture which works so well with fresh cream.
I don’t usually like to use food colouring but just a couple of drops compliments the berry party providing a pretty in pink treat. This really is a lovely summery dessert. No room for wheat flour here, there is plenty to keep your taste buds going.
Eton Mess Roulade - Gluten Free
Crispy, tangy, sweet, fruity, creamy.... all presented in a slice of this ultimate Eton Mess roulade. Layers of jam, cream, summer fruits and white chocolate wrapped in strawberry meringue make this dessert a summer showstopper to please any crowd!
Keep the eggs out to bring to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius and line a 25cm x 35cm baking tray with parchment paper.
Separate the eggs and place the egg white in a clean, dry bowl with the cream of tartare. Whisk using an electric mixer for ease, until soft peaks form. Whisking manually may take some time.
At this point, gradually add the sugar, a spoon at a time and continue whisking. The mixture will become smooth, glossy and stiff. Finally stir through the red food colouring gently to turn the meringue a slight pink. Do not worry about even distribution, the streaks will blend during baking.
Spread the meringue straight onto the paper lining to form an even layer to cover the size of the tray.
Using a fork, flick up the meringue to create wavy patterns.
Bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Check that the top of the meringue is crisp to touch then switch the oven off leaving the door slightly open. Let the meringue sit for ten minutes to cool slowly before taking it out of the oven to cool completely.
Meanwhile, chop the fresh berries into small pieces. Pat gently with a paper towel to dry off any excess moisture.
Melt the white chocolate with a teaspoon of the cream either in a bain-marie (pan over hot water) or in the microwave. Let it cool slightly.
Once the meringue has cooled, gently turn the layer over and peel off the paper. Carefully place the paper back under the layer. This will help when rolling later.
Spread the melted white chocolate over the back of the meringue. Leave for a minute to harden before spreading a layer of jam. Try to get right to the edges and be careful not to crush the meringue pattern underneath as you spread.
Whisk the cream until whipped and stiff. Then dollop the whipped cream onto the jam and again gently spread covering the whole layer.
Sprinkle with the flaked almonds.
Finally top with the fresh fruit layer. Leave an inch from the width end furthest away free from the fruit. This will help when finishing the roll up. This is something I learnt as I did it as the fruit at the end fell out.
Now the tricky bit. Using the paper to help, starting from the width end closest to you, begin rolling up the meringue by applying medium pressure onto the paper as you go. The beginning is the most difficult and the meringue may crush but do not worry it will roll out better towards the end. It should be tight enough to manage at least 3 roll overs with the last being the end slightly tucked in under the roll.
Use your hands to shape the roll into a uniform cylinder while it is soft. Dust with the icing sugar to finish. Refrigerate for at least half an hour. If you feel the ends are not neat simply slice them off with a sawing motion before serving. Plate with an extra handful of fresh berries. It needs nothing else.
I recommend eating the dessert on the day of baking it. The natural juices from the fruit will slowly start to sweep out causing the roll to wilt if kept overnight.
Have a go and enjoy baking this duo of sweet indulgences with the added bonus of sharing with gluten intolerant loved ones. But really, with all this flavour no one is going to miss the gluten.