Monday, February 27, 2012

A blogging come back, and something hot and spicy for Valentine's day

Even though it is still summer, it is beginning to feel like we are well on the way to autumn already. Grey skies and rain, a nip of chill to the air most evenings, pumpkins ripening on the vine and the impending return of all of the pumpkin recipes I love, with the added pleasure of making them with home-grown pumpkins. The fruits of summer are still happening in the garden though - tomatoes, chillies and zucchinis - the former mostly still waiting to ripen, the latter two producing prolifically.

I've been preoccupied for quite some time, overseas holiday, work, garden, karate, jujitsu, relish-making and preserving, but was shocked to find that I haven't posted anything since last July! Since then, I've confirmed that my UC is in remission, and to celebrate the 3 month anniversary of that exciting news, I decided to introduce cocoa into my diet. Digestively, it has gone very well, but if I eat it more than occasionally, unfortunate skin reactions start to occur. So it is reserved for special occasions.

When I saw the theme for this month's go ahead honey it's gluten free, hot, spicy and heart shaped by Heather of Gluten Free Cat, I was inspired to try out something chocolately for Valentine's Day that I've been mulling over for some time. It covers 'hot' and 'spicy', and if I'd been organised enough, I could have managed the heart-shaped too… maybe next year.

Credit for the underlying idea has to go to Naomi - I've made an SCD+cocoa variation of this recipe a couple of times when I have had days of karate training - it can be difficult to get enough energy to keep going through the day, getting up at 5am to start training at 6, and I can happily confirm that these do the trick. They have a much higher ratio of fat to nuts compared to most energy bars out there, so they are packed with calories without the digestive problems that come with nuts. And they are so tasty I can happily eat them, even when I really don't feel like eating, and the mere thought of my usual go to energy foods (like avocado) make me feel sick.

Beyond being excellent energy bars, using the cocoa butter finely chopped, rather than melted, adds a lovely bitty texture, with the coconut oil holding the other ingredients together.

Ginger noms and choc-chilli noms
(nom is my favourite word to describe generic tasty food, particularly sweet things. It's late, and I'm not feeling very original right now!)


Nom base:
60g cocoa butter
60g dried dates
90g cashews
35g coconut oil

Choc-chilli additions:
5 green cardamom pods (seeds ground with a pinch of salt)
1 heaped tablespoon cocoa 
1 hot red chilli

Ginger additions:
1 heaped tablespoon finely diced glace ginger (to make an SCD version, just peel and chop the ginger, cover with water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, drain and repeat 3 times, then add enough honey to cover, and put back over a low heat, stirring every so often until the honey is absorbed and coats the ginger pieces. You can save the water for a ginger cordial. You could also do the same to the chillies for sweeter, less spicy effect)
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon


Roughly chop the cocoa butter by hand, then add to a food processor with the dates and cashews. Blitz until everything is finely chopped, but not powder. Add the coconut oil and blitz again until everything just holds together.

Divide the mixture between two bowls.

To the first, add the cardamom, cocoa and finely chopped chilli. Stir to combine.

To the second, add the glace ginger, ground ginger and cinnamon. Stir to combine. (cocoa would almost certainly be good in this one too!)

Spoon each of the mixtures into little (ideally heart shaped) moulds, press down firmly, then refrigerate until set.

Share with someone special, with a little glass of something robust (a nice whiskey perhaps?), to complement the rich flavours. Or eat them all yourself in the same fashion, or just lick the mixture off the spoon before moulding and refrigerating… so long as you have plans to work it off later!