Foodie Friday: Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake Recipe

One of the big benefits of our recent move has been our proximity to Costco. I know. What a loser. But I’m totally in love with the place. I love wandering around seeing what totally random things they’re selling (a hot tub, a wooden castle, multi packs of Sharpies, TVs bigger than a car….) and honing in on the bargains on offer. Their own-brand stuff is just wonderful….the Kirkland maple syrup is some of the best I’ve ever had, and their vodka is terrific!

They also have some really great organic and whole-food offerings now too, and we’re now getting all our pasta there as well as buying organic virgin coconut oil in bulk. Whilst wandering the aisles there recently we came across a bumper pack of organic coconut flour. Noticing that it’s gluten free and you can use it as a substitute for regular flour, we thought we’d give it a whirl.

Apparently, coconut flour is one of the healthiest available…. because it’s not grain-based like most flour, it is non-inflammatory like those which contain gluten, and is also very low in carbs. The fats are of the more healthy kind (as with coconut oil they are primarily medium-chain saturated fatty acids or ‘MCTs’) and have been shown to improve metabolism, being used up for energy, not stored in fatty tissue. It is also high in fibre, which helps fill you up!

Whilst looking up what we could do with our coconut flour, we found that a little goes a long way….you can’t use it as a straight substitute for regular flour for this reason, and it also requires more liquid. There are however lots of great recipes out there, especially for cakes and breads….and why not use it to make a more-healthy-than-usual treat?!

As we were off to a friend’s birthday party around the time we bought the flour, and especially as that friend is wheat intolerant, we decided to bake her a birthday chocolate cake! We scoped out some recipes, and actually baked the cake a second time to perfect this recipe. I’m pretty pleased with it now though, and as it’s made up of ingredients we tend to always have in, I know that it will be a bit of a staple when a baking session is in order!

The texture of the cake is very even….nicely moist but also solid enough to comfortably eat a slice without necessarily needing a plate and fork. Initially it wasn’t sweet enough for me, which is why I tweaked the recipe….now though it is wonderfully velvety and chocolatey, not too sickly but also very satisfying. Especially when you consider it’s so quick and easy to make, plus low in carbs and naughty sugars!

Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake Recipe by Under A Glass Sky

Ingredients:

30g good quality cocoa
35g coconut flour (ours is made by Nutiva)
7g baking powder (gluten free if you’re gluten intolerant)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch of salt
4  free range eggs
3 tablespoons organic honey
3 tablespoons grade A maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
60ml melted virgin coconut oil

For the icing:

approx. 5 tablespoons softened virgin coconut oil
approx. 3 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder
approx. 2 tablespoons organic honey
approx. 2 tablespoons grade A maple syrup

Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake Recipe by Under A Glass Sky

 How to make it:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 c and grease and line a 15cm diameter baking tin
  2. Mix together the cocoa (which you may need to sift), coconut flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt
  3. Fold in the eggs, honey, vanilla and oil
  4. Mix well until smooth….you will find it takes on an almost mousse-like texture
  5. Bake in the middle of the oven for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean
  6. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack whilst you make the icing
  7. Combine the oil, cocoa, honey and maple syrup using a metal spoon
  8. Depending on the temperature (coconut oil has a very high melting temperature) you may find you want to add more oil or cocoa, and you can also add more honey or syrup to taste, depending on how sweet a tooth you have
  9. You can pop the icing in the fridge to cool it down if it’s too runny, or warm it up in the microwave for a few seconds if it’s too hard….then once you have it to a nice soft fudgey consistency, cut the cake in half horizontally and sandwich together the two parts with icing
  10. Then just use the rest of the icing to coat the assembled cake (it’s so quick and easy to make that you can always make a bit more if you run out), slice and enjoy!

Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake Recipe by Under A Glass Sky

I bet this cake would work wonderfully with some raspberries and creme fraiche or yoghurt, although we very much enjoyed it on its own. The icing is pretty handy to make a nice chocolate fudge sauce for ice cream or whatever too, as you can make it all runny and gooey by heating it up.

Next I plan to try a banana bread with the coconut flour….I’ll be sure to let you know how I get on!

Ems x

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Wednesday Wants… Easter eggs and other gift ideas

For weeks now I’ve been ogling the supermarket shelves as they’ve filled up with rows on rows of Easter treats. There’s no worse time of the year for chocolate temptation, in my opinion….as much as Christmas tends to bring with it more than its fair share of chocolatey goodness, there are so many other treats on offer that chocolate pales in comparison. We’ve already eaten our first Cream Eggs (keenly lamenting the loss of their traditional recipe), and scoffed more than one bag of Mini Eggs, which are clearly the work of the devil due to their temptation factor.

As usual though, I’m also massively drawn to pretty packaging, and I just adore the look of some of the more ‘luxury’ type of Easter treats. None more so than Booja Booja‘s Easter Collection which looks simply divine….

Featuring hand-painted, papier-maché Easter eggs made in Kashmir, each is hand-packed in Norfolk with delicious chocolate truffles in several flavours. If you’ve not tried Booja Booja chocolates before, I highly recommend that you do. And once you have, I bet you’ll find it hard to believe that they’re vegan, and free of gluten, dairy and soya.

The truffles are seriously luxurious, rich and dreamy and melt-in-the-mouth. You can choose from Hazelnut Crunch, Around Midnight Espresso, Banoffee Toffee, Almond and Sea Salt Caramel, or Fine de Champagne. Small eggs, which include three truffles are £9.99, whilst the large eggs, which contain twelve truffles, are £24.99. Plus of course you get to keep the beautiful egg once you’ve finished off the contents, and use it to hoard treasures and trinkets!

Booja Booja Hazelnut Crunch Easter Egg, Under A Glass Sky

Booja Booja ‘Hazelnut Crunch’ Easter Egg

Booja Booja 'Around Midnight Espresso' Easter Egg, Under A Glass Sky

Booja Booja ‘Around Midnight Espresso’ Easter Egg

Booja Booja 'Banoffee Toffee ' Easter Egg, Under A Glass Sky

Booja Booja ‘Banoffee Toffee ‘ Easter Egg

If you’re trying to kerb your chocolate consumption though, perhaps try this yummy sounding lip balm from Sweet Cecily’s. The entire range is hand-made and natural, paraben and SLS free, and never tested on animals. This one even looks like a chocolate bar….but with the advantage that it won’t go straight to your hips!

If you really must ditch the chocolate entirely though, I think these adorable egg cups by Quail Ceramics are a perfect Easter treat. I’ve long since lusted after their adorable animal inspired treasures, and these three are just so perfect for a Spring breakfast spread.

And because it’s not *all* about food (well, almost), I think this super cute trinket dish would make an adorable Easter gift. Just look at that podgy little bunny, waiting to tidy up your treasures! He’d be a lovely addition to a dressing table, or would be perfect to pop next to the sink for when you need to take your rings off!

I hope you have a lovely Easter filled with whatever treats tickle your fancy!

Ems x

Something from the weekend….. Easter fun with Mummy, the hound et al

Well that was nice! Despite it feeling far from Spring, I had a great Easter Bank Holiday weekend!

My Mummy came down for her first ever visit to my new town, arriving on Friday. After I’d refreshed her from her drive with home made pea and mint soup, and a pot of tea, we headed out to the market….one of the things she was most looking forward to! We had a really good root around the Antiques and Collectables market which happens here in the market place every Friday….we picked up a couple of bargains then made our way home to revive ourselves with more tea and a few mince pies (Mummy has a local bakery who makes them all year round and they are just amazing!).

We took a lovely walk around the nearby Priory grounds in the afternoon, and Mummy was delighted to be out having fun with our new hound, who took to her straight away. Then it was a big cook up of Shepherds Pie back at home (one of my favourite things to make when it’s cold outside!) before we settled down on the sofas to have a good old catch up and natter.

Adam’s Mum obligingly picked Cooper up on Saturday morning, so that we could take Mummy to the lovely Halseys Tea Rooms for breakfast. I had my usual Cheesy Bubble and Squeak with Fried Egg and Portobello Mushroom, and we all enjoyed one of their very good coffees. Then we showed her around town, popping into lots of shops to browse. Having picked up the pooch, we stopped in at our wonderful local pub on the way home for a yummy half pint, then Adam made us poached eggs for lunch.

For our afternoon walk we joined Adam’s Mum for a jaunt around Oughton Head Common, where our mums got to meet each other for the first time ever! Mummy also got to meet Adam’s Dad as we headed round to their cottage for an amazing roast dinner that evening. It was wonderful to have everyone meet finally and the parentals all got along very well!

As well as the mince pies, Mummy had also brought with her a fresh supply of the awesome Staffordshire Oatcakes I miss so much…two dozen in fact! We ate a stack of them for breakfast with cheese and bacon (my favourite filling!) before venturing back out into the cold to visit the Sunday Car Boot Sale at the market. Mummy really enjoyed having another root around, and I came away with a few new treasures too!

Then back at home, it was time for Mummy to pack whilst I made a big lunch before she headed off. Adam’s Mum came round to join us for the butternut squash lasagne I made, and we were all really stuffed even before we made a start on the home made trifle she brought along! Before long it was time for Mummy to head off though, and Cooper was seriously dejected for a while afterwards as he’d so loved having her here! I consoled him by taking him for a nice long walk, and he enjoyed a few really good sprints too! We spent the evening gorging on left overs, and watching the start of the new season of The Walking Dead….the jury is still out but it’s looking more promising than the last season which we were both really disappointed with!

On bank holiday Monday morning we took a nice long walk along the Hanbury Way with Adam’s Mum and her dogs Newton and Piper. It was a fairly bracing jaunt in the cold weather, but at least it stayed dry and the sun even came out a little too! I then whiled away a good few hours back at home, snuggled on the sofa with lashings of tea, a sleepy pooch and a stack of glossy magazines. It was so nice just to slob about for a few hours!

I cooked up a big Spag Bol for our dinner and after yumming that up, we all relaxed back on the sofas again, watching the latest episode of New Girl (bally LOVE that show!) and scoffing loads of chocolate before heading up to bed with hot drinks for an early night. Bank Holiday bliss!

Did you have a fun Bank Holiday weekend?

Ems x

Wednesday Wants: Advent Calendars

With only five more sleeps until advent, I am feeling ever more Christmassy! Heaven help anyone who doesn’t enjoy Christmas as much as me after I’ve been around all these Christmas Markets in Vienna too….I’ll be unbearable!

Anyway, it seemed rather apt that this week’s ‘Wants’ have a Christmassy theme, and what better than to shop around for my dream Advent Calendars?!….

Anything with a DIY element is a winner for me, and I just love the idea that you can decorate this lovely wooden advent house from Star Dust Kay on Etsy. It’s £82 and is made up of 24 drawers that can be pulled open to reveal a different treat each day during advent. You could even use it for storing little bits and bobs through the rest of the year too! It’s easy to decorate with paint, decoupage, fabric, or probably just lots of glitter for me….what a lovely way to personalise your advent!

I find this one just stunning. I’ve always enjoyed the idea of building something for advent rather than just scoffing chocolates from behind a cardboard window, and I adore the design of the Villeroy and Boch Advent Calendar Set from John Lewis. Made from china, the beautiful traditional tree comes with 24 ornaments to add each day leading up to Christmas. It’s a rather hefty £295, but it would make a fabulous treasure to keep forever.

It’ll be hard to beat this one though. The chaps at Drinks by the Dram have teamed up with The Gin Blog to create the Ginvent Calendar, as I discovered via Domestic Sluttery.  Behind each of the 24 doors is a different 3cl sample of some of the very best gin around at the moment….although they are a surprise (quite rightly!). We are promised some superb spirits inside, from the market-leaders, to the rarer, artisanal brands, and although £79.95 is rather a lot for an advent calendar, I think it’ll be well worth it and the top of my list easily!

Merry adventing!
Ems x

Something from the weekend….. Sunday ‘Fashionista’ afternoon Pret-A-Portea at The Berkeley

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First round….. yummy sandwiches with the crusts cut off

On Sunday it was time for my final birthday treat….. after a nice long lie in (boy I needed it after the Saturday!) and slobbing about watching a few episodes of The Wire, we made our way to Knightsbridge for a very special afternoon tea. I’ve been wanting to go to the Pret-A-Portea at The Berkeley for years, ever since I heard about it in fact. No ordinary afternoon tea, their ‘Fashionista’ version of the traditional occasion draws inspiration from each season’s couture collections, creating incredible and stunning biscuits, fancies and meringues to match the trending colours, shapes and patterns.

After arriving to the gorgeous Berkeley reception, we were taken through the Caramel Room to our lovely window table. I was delighted to find a neon pink shoe with my name on to reserve the table for us, as well as all the beautiful Paul Smith China laid out ready. I went for the Couture Champagne Menu (when in Rome) and was poured a generous glass of Laurent Perrier Rose to start, whilst Adam went for the caramel and pear tea. Then before long we were served the first round of our tea…. a long plate of delicious sandwiches, including smoked salmon and cream cheese, Coronation chicken, cucumber and a tiny egg roll. All the fillings were perfect, as were the yummy breads (including a sun blushed tomato bread and a miniature oaty roll).

Next up came a large tea stand full of beautiful canapes and fancies….. we’d hardly dug into these when we were brought fresh plates of more sandwiches and then the canapes and fancies were replenished throughout too! The canapes included tiny teardrop spoons of crab, salmon, beef and feta, as well as a shot glass of a yummy cucumber and mint cold soup. I’ve had soooo many canapes in my time and these really were some of the best.

The sweet stuff is really where it’s at though. Having finished my Cham I was served the white peony tea (a new favourite of mine) which went beautifully with all the treats left to try….. Perhaps the most stunning was the Jason Wu romantic cherry bavarois with coconut cream, topped with a playful pink skirt and biscuit heel….. I also loved the clever take on Fendi’s nautical stripes in the form of a red and white striped vanilla cake filled with fraise des bois cremeux and topped with an over-sized yellow button…..

And because I’m such a girl, the two chocolate fancies were amongst my favourites…. Gucci’s Art Deco Grand Marnier and dark Valrhona chocolate mousse embellished with golden popping candy is absolutely divine….. and the homage to Michael Kors’ signature leopard print made with Grand Marnier was just scrummy! The most impressive to look at were the light blue Dolce and Gabbana blueberry sponge cake wicker basket, the Miu Miu vanilla bikini biscuit and the wonderful Christian Louboutin neon yellow chocolate biscuit…. but my favourite I think was the clever take on Mulberry’s summer at the seaside catwalk theme, with a tall shot glass of white chocolate creme de menthe and raspberry mousse topped with a lemon meringue, all perfectly emulating the sugar sweet tones of a maxi dress I adore.

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Very fancy fancies, inspired by Jason Wu, Mulberry, Fendi, Miu Miu, Michael Kors and Gucci

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Laurent Perrier Rose and the stunning Paul Smith china

I think we did rather well at eating the plates and plates of goodies brought to us…. it genuinely is a case of quality AND quantity! We did finally give up, a good couple of hours after arriving…. it is certainly a lovely way to while away an entire afternoon and is one of the most luxurious and indulgent experiences I’ve enjoyed. It didn’t stop there though, as our lovely waiter boxed up the fancies we couldn’t manage in a fabulous neon pink box, so I carried home the second of two very classy doggy bags that weekend! Quite the breakfast the morning after!

I can’t recommend this experience enough…. even Adam (who isn’t as trend crazy as me, and certainly wouldn’t usually opt for an afternoon tea) thoroughly enjoyed himself, and I left feeling utterly spoiled! It’s £39 for the Pret-A-Portea, £49 for the Champagne version, and £55 for the Couture Champagne menu which includes a glass of Laurent Perrier Rose. I think it’s superb value, compared to lots of more traditional afternoon tea, and especially as everything is replenished as much as you like and there’s no competition in terms of style. We booked a good few months ago, so be prepared to wait…… it is well worth it though even for someone as impatient as me!

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Menu inspiration card for Pret-A-Portea SS/12….. a super cute doggy bag and a show with my name on it!

Cleverest worky Christmas gift! Christmas Survival Kit

I LOVE Plunge Productions. Tim has worked on some incredible projects and his creativity never ceases to amaze me.

So it was no big surprise when I unwrapped the little mystery parcel from its brown paper packaging and found that inside was the most clever and fun gift I’d received in the office…..and that it was from Plunge.

The cute pink box takes the form of a ‘Christmas Survival Kit’ and is jam packed with useful and fun stuff……

Jammed into the tiny box is…..a book of Christmas Carols, chocolate bottle liquer, a golden wrapped pressie, wrapping paper, a make-your-own snowflake, a gift bow, a paper crown, an After Eight mint chocolate, Alka Seltzer, mistletoe, holly, a candle, Rennie, tiny scissors, a mini stocking (stuffed with tinsel, a hazelnut, a pen, wrapping string and a candy cane), a chocolate coin, a little Lego Christmas tree, gift tag, bauble and Father Christmas himself!…..Thank you Plunge!