Langues de Chat Biscuits

Langues de Chat Biscuits by The Fat Foodie

A few weeks ago I was having a leisurely mooch in TK Maxx’s kitchen and homeware department when I came across this interesting baking tray that was priced at £1. I couldn’t resist that bargain because I could think of a number of uses for it, so I bought it and brought it home.

A Langues de Chat Baking Tray

I didn’t know what the baking tray was intended for, but I’m a member of a great Facebook group called The Cook’s Community Forum so I posted a photo of the baking tray up in the group and asked if anyone knew what its true purpose was. I couldn’t believe the number of responses it got, with over 90 people chiming in with their opinions! Quite a few said it was for baking eclairs, but the vast majority (most of whom tended to be professional chefs) said it was for making French Langues de Chat biscuits, aka Cat’s Tongue biscuits.

Although the name might not sound particularly appetising let me firmly assure you that the biscuits themselves most certainly are! Langues de chat biscuits are soft egg and butter based bakes that fall somewhere in the middle between a sponge and a biscuit. They’re very light and go wonderfully with a cuppa.

Langues de chat biscuits take no time at all to make and they bake very fast too, so they’re ideal for creating in a hurry. You might not want to go to the expense of buying a Langues de Chat biscuit mould (you could use any shaped baking tray you fancied really), but I’d really recommend it because it ensures that your bakes come out in the perfect shape. You could also dip each end in melted chocolate if you would like to make them fancier, but whether you serve them plain or decorated, they’re a delicious treat.

Ingredients:

250g unsalted butter

250g sugar

8 egg whites

350g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F flour because it’s made with low FODMAP ingredients whereas many other gluten-free flours are made with high FODMAP options.)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180°C/170°C Fan/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and grease and flour your Langues de Chat mould.

Measure your butter, sugar and vanilla into a mixing bowl and, using an electric whisk, cream it together until it is pale and fluffy.

Add the flour and mix again.

Whisk your egg whites in a jug until they are firm and then fold the egg whites into the biscuit mixture.

Transfer the mixture into a piping bag and pipe the mixture into your moulds. (I use disposable piping bags and it makes life a lot easier!) If you’re just using a baking tray, line it with greaseproof paper or a silicone mat and pipe 7cm strips of the biscuit mixture onto the tray, leaving a generous gap between each because they will spread.

Bake the langues de chat in the oven for about 10 mins or until the biscuits are just lightly golden brown. Leave to cool and then serve.

Langues de Chat Biscuits by The Fat Foodie

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Coconut Pyramids (makes 12)

Coconut Pyramids by The Fat Foodie

I was in the Brownies when I was a kid and one of my favourite activities was when we did some baking. Although we had our pack meetings in the local cavernous, cold village hall we did our baking at our Brown Owl’s house which was terribly convenient for me because the Brown Owl in question happened to be my Mum.

One of the recipes she used to make with us was coconut pyramids, a really easy bake which produces lovely little sweet pyramids of toasted coconut that were guaranteed to stick in your teeth and have your tongue probing for wayward pieces of desiccated coconut for hours. Good times indeed.

These coconut pyramids are a great option for those who are looking to make a low FODMAP sweetie because as long as you treat one pyramid as a single serving they remain low FODMAP. I won’t be held responsible if you can’t resist indulging in more than one, but I wouldn’t blame you.

You can serve these coconut pyramids simply as they are, but I like them with a coating of dark chocolate. I intended to top my coconut pyramids with a dark chocolate capstone, but I got carried away with the application of chocolate and ended up making them fully encased in chocolate instead, with an edible gold glitter capstone. I regret nothing.

Ingredients:

200g desiccated coconut

150g sugar

3 eggs

100g dark chocolate

Method:

Preheat your oven to 190C/170C Fan/375F/Gas mark 5.

Lay greaseproof paper out onto a large baking tray.

Crack your eggs into a jug and using an electric whisk, whisk until they are fluffy.

Add the sugar and whisk until the mixture turns pale. (This is caused by the sugar partially dissolving which helps prevent the coconut pyramids from being granular.)

Add the coconut and mix together.

Take small handfuls of mixture and form them into little pyramids before placing them on the greaseproofed baking tray.

Once you’ve formed all of your pyramids bake them for 12-15 mins or until they are golden brown.

Leave to cool and then melt your dark chocolate and coat the pyramids. Leave until the chocolate has set before eating.

Coconut Pyramids by The Fat Foodie

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Black Forest Gateau

Black Forest Gateau by The Fat Foodie

I have to be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of black forest gateau. I think it’s because it seems like such a 1980’s dessert. I’ve never liked dairy cream either, so the thought of eating a cake that’s so heavily dosed with thick whipped cream has never really floated my boat. However, I am a fan of chocolate and fresh cherries. Very much so indeed! So when my Mum gave me a punnet of perfectly ripe fresh cherries that needed to be used up I figured I’d have a bash at making a version of black forest gateau that I could actually enjoy.

Now according to the Monash app, a serving of 3 cherries (21g) is a yellow traffic light for fructose. A serving higher than 3 cherries (42g) becomes a red for fructose and a yellow for polyols, so if those are categories which cause you issues I’d exercise caution with the quantity of fresh cherries and cherry jam you use. However, if you’re fine with these categories it’s full steam ahead!

I used my standard sweet potato based chocolate sponge for this black forest gateau because it makes a gorgeous, moist, rich cake which works really well with the sweet ripe cherries and the whipped cream. I think the advent of a number of non-dairy creams that are now available on the market has really expanded my appreciation of creamy things, such as stroganoffs. Whereas once I would have given them a wide berth, now I’m willing to try making them myself and it’s really opening my eyes to a lot of recipes. The cream for this black forest gateau is simply made from coconut cream that’s been mixed with icing sugar, but if you don’t have a problem with dairy you could just use whipped double cream.

This black forest gateau is really easy to make and rewards you with beautifully moist chocolate sponge layers which are thinly spread with cherry jam, wrapped in a duvet of whipped cream, topped with fresh, ripe cherry halves and finished with a generous dusting of grated dark chocolate. It’s no wonder really, that in the all-encompassing cake world it’s considered an immortal.

Ingredients:

420g raw sweet potatoes (peeled and cut into small pieces)

150ml vegetable oil

50g cocoa

100g gluten-free flour

200g brown sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp xanthan gum

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs

140ml rice milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

To decorate:

170g black cherries (halved and pitted)

100g cherry jam (optional)

Non-dairy cream (I used the coconut cream from a really good quality tin of coconut milk and mixed it with 3 tbsps of icing sugar)

Grated dark chocolate

Method:

Put a tin of coconut milk in the fridge to cool.

Preheat your oven to 190C/170C Fan/375F/Gas mark 5.

Line two 9″ cake tins with greaseproof paper.

Peel your sweet potato and cut them into small cubes (about 2cm square). Place on a plate and cook on high in the microwave until the sweet potato is soft. Leave to cool down a bit.

Make your coconut cream by opening the tin of chilled coconut milk, pouring out the coconut milk and putting the solidified coconut cream in a bowl. Mix 3 tbsps of icing sugar into the coconut cream.

Keeping the decorative jam, cherries and coconut cream aside, put all of the cake ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and whisk together.

Once the mixture is fully combined, spoon into the cake tins (making sure there’s an equal amount in each) and bake in the oven for 40-50 mins (or until a skewer pushed into the middle of the cakes comes out clean).

Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before topping one of the cakes with jam, coconut cream and a third of the cherries. Lay the second cake on top and coat it with jam, the rest of the cream and the rest of the cherries before scattering with icing sugar and the grated dark chocolate. Serve.

Black Forest Gateaux by The Fat Foodie

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Lemon and Poppy Seed Pound Cake (makes 12 slices)

Lemon and Poppy Seed Pound Cake by The Fat Foodie

Pound cakes are so called because they are an American type of cake that uses a pound each of butter, sugar, flour and eggs to create the cake. They are normally baked in a loaf tin and drizzled with icing sugar or a sugar glaze and then served in slices. This lemon and poppy seed pound cake has a base of gluten-free flour and ground almonds, but although almonds become high FODMAP at servings of over 12g, this cake yields a total of 12 slices which keeps the FODMAP quota low.

I’ve fancied making a lemon cake for quite a while because I think it’s a lovely fresh summer cake, but I hadn’t really found the time to do so. However, the other day I discovered some beautiful flowers in the garden that I knew would look stunning on top of a lemon and poppy seed pound cake.

Now, I know we shouldn’t pick wildflowers, but when I saw that I had some cornflowers growing in my garden as a result of a bee-friendly wildflower seed mix I’d optimistically thrown down at the start of the summer I couldn’t resist picking a few flower heads to scatter their beautiful azure blue petals over the top of this cake. I’d also picked a handful of plump, ripe blue-black blackberries as I was walking home the other day which I thought would be a lovely taste contrast to add to the cake. (Exercise caution when using edible flowers and only use them if you’re absolutely certain about the variety you’re using. A comprehensive list of flowers which are safe to eat can be found here.)

After I’d taken the lemon and poppy seed pound cake out of the oven and let it cool down I drizzled it with icing sugar, scattered the cornflower petals over the top and plonked the blackberries on. Needless to say, that evening after dinner we enjoyed a generous slice of the lemon-infused cake that married wonderfully with the sweet, tart blackberries. Long live summer!

Ingredients:

140g ground almonds

1 tbsp poppyseeds

100g gluten-free flour

2 tsps baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp xanthan gum

150g sugar

120ml vegetable oil

2 eggs

2 tsps lemon extract

120ml rice milk

2 tsps lemon juice

For decoration:

Icing sugar

Dried cornflowers

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180C/160 Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4.

Line a two pound loaf tin with greaseproof paper. (I buy these greaseproof loaf tin liners and they make life so much easier!)

In a large mixing bowl, mix all of your wet ingredients together and then mix in the dry ingredients.

Once it’s all combined, pour your cake batter into the loaf tin, smooth it out and bake it in the oven for around 50 mins to an hour. Don’t worry if it needs a little longer. (You’ll know it’s baked when a skewer pushed into the middle comes out clean.)

Once it’s baked, let it cool on a cooling rack.

Make some icing by mixing icing sugar with a little water at a time until it just coats the back of a spoon. Once your cake is cool, drizzle it with some icing sugar and add any decoration you like. Serve.

Lemon and Poppy Seed Pound Cake by The Fat Foodie

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Financiers (makes 16)

Financiers by The Fat Foodie

A couple of months ago I had the pleasure of meeting the talented Kirsten Gilmour, the owner of The Mountain Cafe in Aviemore and the author of The Mountain Cafe Cookbook, and her lovely publisher at Kitchen Press, Emily Dewhurst. Although Kirsten had generously brought along a veritable buffet of delicious baked sweet treats to her book signing, I couldn’t eat any of it because days before, I’d eaten a meal which included onion rings, had a horrible IBS reaction that evening, and then after some research that night I began the low FODMAP diet exclusion period the day after. However, I had a great chat with Kirsten and Emily about trying to live gluten-free and Emily very kindly emailed me a cracking recipe for gluten-free almond financiers the following day. She’s so nice!

I’ve never had a financier before, but I’m astonished at how tasty they are and how easy they are to make. Financiers are small French cakes that are based on ground almonds and are normally baked in small rectangular cake tins which make them resemble bars of gold. Hence the French name ‘financier’. They are light and airy, but remain moist upon cooking and last for quite a while in the biscuit tin. I don’t have a cake tin that resembles anything like a gold bar so I just baked mine in a mini muffin tray and they turned out brilliantly.

Now, I’m going to ‘fess up here. I screwed up the first batch I made. It was such a simple mistake, but one that could have been avoided if I’d been focusing more on double checking the ingredients. Basically, I used salted butter instead of unsalted, but this meant that when it was added to the 1/2 tsp of salt the original recipe required they were massively over-salted, to the extent that when I first tasted the financiers I spat them back out because they were far too salty.

The thing is, I always use salted butter (even in my cakes) because salt adds seasoning and contributes a fantastic dual taste component to sweet dishes. In fact, most American cake recipes state that you should add some salt because they understand very well how the sweet/salty combination works. Sadly, in the case of my first batch of financiers however, it was simply salt overload and didn’t work. That’s why I’ve removed the added salt and just stipulated that you should use salted butter instead. It takes away the possibility of you making the same mistake as me. You’re welcome.  😉

Joking aside, if you enjoy a sweet treat, particularly one that’s packed with almond flavour, then this is the recipe for you. Although they’re based around ground almonds, one financier contains just enough almond to keep the cakes low FODMAP. After baking, the financiers turn out as sweet, rich little almond-scented cakes that are enriched with browned butter and dark cocoa powder. They’re not dairy-free because I really think you need the flavour of the browned butter to be true to a traditional financier, but they are gluten-free. However, if you’re dairy intolerant you could certainly have a bash at making them with dairy-free butter. You’ll still get a tasty almond cake, but it will lack the butter flavour. Whatever way you decide to make them, I’ll bet you give them a thumbs-up.

Ingredients:

85g of salted butter (or dairy-free or coconut oil)

2 large egg whites

130g ground almonds

100g icing sugar

4 tbsps cocoa powder

1/4 tsp almond extract

Method:

Preheat your oven to 190C/170C Fan/375F/Gas mark 5.

Grease and flour your mini muffin tray so the financiers don’t get stuck inside upon baking.

Melt the butter in a saucepan until is goes slightly brown and smells caramelly and then let it cool down slightly. (If you’re using non-dairy butter then just melt it and leave it to cool. You don’t need to brown it before using it, it just needs to be liquid.)

Place all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and add the browned butter.

Lightly beat the egg whites and then fold them into the mixture.

Place a heaped tablespoon of mixture in each mini muffin tray section and bake for 10-15 mins.

Leave to cool slightly before eating.

Financiers by The Fat Foodie

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