Revisiting the French yogurt cake … Spent grains and chocolate

This is one of the most simple cakes you can make when you are living in France. A lot of great souvenirs!

Why?

It is easy to make. The dosage of each ingredient is based on the yoghurt pot that is used as a reference measurement. When I was a young girl, this was the first cake I have had the opportunity to make with my brother… I was in charge of the measurements, my brother was in charge of the mixing steps.

Normally, I do not talk about what I am doing when I am not writing blogs. But today, it is different. The past 10 days were a little challenging . Starting a business is a great adventure but it has its chaotic moments.

Tonight, I need some comfort and serenity … to be involved in an activity that gives me an immediate reward and makes me feel good.

Cooking!

A way to reload the batteries and restart tomorrow with optimism and passion.

Our diner tonight is going to be delicious: French pasta gratin, sauteed kale with mustard sauce (recipe coming soon), chocolate cake with strawberry.

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Right now, my apartment smells so good … Aromatherapy … Strong chocolate fragrances!

As you will see, I have decided to revisit the Famous (may be only in the French speaking Countries!) yogurt cake.

I would like to give to this cake a “je ne sais quoi”.

First, as usual, I am using a combination of different flours, the objective being to improve the nutritional value (more protein, fiber, micronutrients…) and finally, I decided to add chocolate. Good for my mood!

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For this cake, I have also decided to use spent grains. It is an interesting ingredient, really nutritious – high contain of fiber and protein (70 and 20% respectively); but it also brings tons of flavors. To know how to dry spent grains and prepare flour, visit my previous blog (What to do with spent grains? … Let start with bread).

Because spent grain flour contains a high level of fiber, I also decided to use cake flour to lighten the batter.

Spent grain: the leftover malt and adjuncts after the mash (combining a mix of milled grain (typically malted barley, known as the “grain bill”, and water, known as “liquor”, and heating this mixture) has extracted most of the sugars, can constitute as much as 85 % of a brewery’s total by-product.

Chocolate and spent grains, I could not resist. This is something I love to do, try new combinations. My academic background is human nutrition and health, I love research and development. This is part of my genes.

I think it is time to cook, this is my recipe:

 

Servings: 8

 

Ingredients

2 cups flour (2/3 cake flour, 2/3 red fife flour and 2/3 spent grain flour)

If you don’t have any spent grain flour, don’t worry, you can use spelt flour instead. It goes very well with chocolate.

Red fife can also be replaced by all-purpose flour or cake flour.

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

1 cup plain yogurt

2/3 cup vegetable oil

I use olive oil when not using butter, but you can use another vegetable oil if you don’t like the olive oil taste.

3  large eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of instant coffee

200 grams dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao or less, depending if you like your cake really sweet)

1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat the bottom of the pan with parchment and spray with vegetable oil.

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Melt chocolate in a small quantity of water in a saucepan under lower heat. Once melted, pour the water and smooth the chocolate. Remove from the heat.

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Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

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Add sugar, cacao, melted chocolate, yogurt, oil, eggs, vanilla extract and coffee (diluted in 1 tablespoon of water).

Whisk to blend.

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Leave the batter to rest for 10 min and pour it into prepared pan. Smooth top.

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Bake until for 50-55 minutes, until a tester inserted into center comes out clean.

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Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert onto rack; let cool completely.

Ready for tasting … Bonne Appetite!

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I could not resist …

Pumpkin Pie Pudding …. too much yummy

When you invest in technology and you are not afraid to experience new paths, you can discover new texture and develop fresh and tasty culinary ideas. This is the case with my Vitamix.

I love pumpkin pie but I know that it contains too much calories. Sadly, it is not possible to enjoy this sweet treat every day.

For Thanksgiving, I have made the traditional pumpkin pie and for the first time, I have used my Vitamix to prepare the filling. It was so creamy that I started to plan new recipes (savory and sweet ones) using as a base the pumpkin puree that I was able to obtain using my blender. Among the different new recipes that I had time to develop over the past 4 months, pumpkin pie pudding is one of my favorites. Easy to do and so tasty!

The taste of the pumpkin pie without the calories from the crust… a real indulgence!

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With the Halloween festivity, pumpkins’ carving is fanatical and these gourds are so charming in their role of Jack-o-lantern. With Thanksgiving, we can enjoy a classic – pumpkin pies, but this is only one time the year.

Pumpkins are more than these two memorable events, and we forget that they are actually one of the most nutritious fruits out there. In the context of a diversified diet, it is important to enjoy pumpkins on a more regular basis. Why?

  • Because it is one of the very low calorie vegetables. One hundred grams pumpkin puree provides just 34 calories and contains no saturated fats or cholesterol,
  • Pumpkin is an often-overlooked source of fiber, but with three grams per 100 grams pumpkin puree, it can keep you feeling full for longer on fewer calories,
  • Pumpkin is a storehouse of many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-A and vitamin-E,
  • One hundred grams pumpkin puree contains more than 311% of our recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which aids vision, particularly in dim light,
  • One hundred grams pumpkin puree gives you 5 % of your daily vitamin E needs. This vitamin keeps your immune system working properly and also protects your cells from damage that can lead to certain types of disease such as cancer,
  • Pumpkin contains one of the richest supplies of bioavailable carotenoids, the compounds that give the gourd their bright orange color. Carotenoids include beta-carotene that can be converted by the body into a form of vitamin A for additional protection. Moreover, this boost of beta-carotene protects also the immune system and may play a role in inflammation reduction and cancer prevention
  • It is also a rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.

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Pumpkin soup, roasted pumpkin, risotto, pies or cookies… The options are endless, and our souvenirs eternally sweet, giving us watering mouth. This pumpkin pie pudding is light in calories and so easy to make.

I think it is time to cook this simple recipe and enjoy this super food without any restriction.

This recipe is for four servings.

Ingredients

0ne pumpkin (or half of two different ones)

I try to choose small pumpkins because they are normally a bit sweeter. I  also try to use a combination of different pumpkins like pie pumpkin, sugar pie, red kuri, kabocha, delicata, carnival, or acorn (to name some of them). This really depends of the season (autumn vs winter or early spring), and more importantly, of what is available at my local organic supermarket.

1/2 can (150 grams) sweetened condensed milk

1/2 to 1 cup (250 ml) cold water or 2% milk

Depending of the pumpkin’s moisture after being roasted, you may need to add the cold water.

1 teaspoon of ground all spices

1/2 teaspoon of ground clove

1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

3 to 4 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

 

Preparation

The first step is to roast the pumpkin:

Rinse your pumpkins under warm water, removing any dirt or debris

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Cut the pumpkins in half on a large cutting board, with a sharp knife

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Cut each half into smaller pieces

Scoop out the seeds with a metal spoon or a paring knife

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Lay the pumpkin pieces face side down in a large baking dish (and not how I did in the picture above)

Cover with 1.5 cups of water

Bake at 350° for 45-60 minutes (depending on size) or until tender, using a fork to check

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Remove from oven and scoop out insides, discarding skin

Store in refrigerator in a glass container. It can be kept up to 5 days in refrigerator.

The second step is to blend together all the components

Place all ingredients into your blender container starting with the condensed milk, 150 ml water, the different spices and the roasted pumpkin (600 grams) and secure lid

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Select low speed (variable 1 for the vitamix)

Turn your machine on and slowly increase speed to  max (variable 10 for the vitamix)

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Blend for 45 seconds or until desired consistency is reached

Add more water if necessary and blend again for a few seconds

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Spoon evenly into 4 ramekins, cover with plastic wrap  and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight

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Serve chilled … it is the best way to enjoy it.

A few words of advice: Use either homemade pumpkin puree, or canned organic pumpkin puree to be sure to have a nice bright orange color, avoid to use the regular canned pumpkin puree because the color sometimes can be muddy brown. We want to have a yummy “good looking” pudding. Occasionally, I also add 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder to give a spicy kick to my pumpkin pie pudding. It is quite delicious.

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Bon Appetite!

Dark Chocolate Mousse…

I love chocolate mousse. It is one of my favorite desserts; it brings back some of my childhood memories: Sunday lunch to the house of my grandmother Adele. Brioche and chocolate mousse was one of the numerous winter treats that we really enjoyed as a family!

Despite the fact that French people are not the biggest consumers of chocolate in the world, eating chocolate is a serious business in France (6.6 kilos per year per person, the equivalent of a “tablet” per week). Actually, the French are primarily “chocolate tablet” lovers (32% of sales). And more importantly, we are world leaders in dark chocolate consumption (30% of the chocolate consumed is black against 5% worldwide); this accounts for half of tablet sales in France.

Indeed, we learn to appreciate dark chocolate early in life. My brother, my sister in law and I, since our youngest age, as well as the next generation, my two nephews, we all love a piece of French baguette and a bar of dark chocolate as a snack. This was and still is the best snack after a day at school or an afternoon outside.

Recently, dark chocolate has received worldwide a great interest, mostly because of its potential health benefits. In fact, we have rediscovered something that the Mayans, Aztecs and indigenous populations living in South and Central America know for millenaries.

In both the Mayan and Aztec cultures, cocoa was the basis for a thick, cold, unsweetened drink called xocolatl… believed to be a health elixir.

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Place chocolate and coffee in a large bowl set over a bain marie

Chocolate mousse is a good way to enjoy dark chocolate. My recipe is quite simple and uses only 3 main ingredients: dark chocolate, eggs and sugar.

This recipe uses raw eggs. I understand that this ingredient can be challenging for certain persons. I recommend using the freshest eggs you can get your hands on. Organic free-run eggs, directly from the farm if possible, are my first choice. These eggs have a richer yolk, a firmer white and just a greater depth of flavor.

Separate the eggs

Separate the eggs

Eggs are easiest to separate when they are cold. When the egg whites are fresh, it takes more time and more force to whip those tight proteins into a foam. However, the foam that is created ends up more stable with small, strong, uniform bubbles. Cold temperatures also help keep the proteins rigid and stable.

Be very careful when you separate the eggs. Any yolk (or other fat, oil or grease) that makes its way into the whites will keep the whites from whipping up as big and fluffy as possible. When I am separating more than two eggs, I like to use the three-bowl method: one bowl to crack the egg into, one to put the whites in, and one to put the yolks in. That way the accumulated whites aren’t contaminated by yolk if you accidentally break one.

Add sugar to yolks

Add sugar to yolks

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Whisk together yolks, 30 g of sugar, and a pinch of salt

Importantly, the flavor of this mousse depends on the chocolate. I use top quality chocolate – good brand name, the one I really enjoy to devour like this. I really don’t recommend using baking chocolate; the result won’t be the same.

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Stir chocolate and coffee until melted.

For this recipe, I broke up two “tablets” of Lindt Excellence  – one tablet 70% cacao and one 90% cacao (average ~ 85% cacao). This are my French roots, I like dark chocolate and intense flavor.

If this is too darker for you, you can use two tablets 71% cacao. I also like to use Green and Black’s organic 72% chocolate or Camino organic extra dark 80% and bittersweet 71% chocolate. It is really depending of my humor, my friends who will enjoy my cooking, and where I am buying my chocolate.

Finally, to accentuate the deep and rich flavor of chocolate, I add some vanilla’s extract and strong coffee.

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Fold some of the chocolate mixture into egg yolks and mix until smooth.

I think it is time to cook. This is my recipe, for one truly classic French dessert… La mousse au chocolat that I prepare and enjoy since I am a young girl.

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients:

200 g of chocolate

You can combine two tablets of 100g 71% cacao, or one tablet 90% and one tablet 71%. You can go for a lower % of cacao; the important rule is to use a tablet of chocolate you like to consume like a treat. Keep in mind that if you choose a chocolate with a higher percentage (70% plus), your mousse may be slightly denser.

6 eggs

60 grams of sugar

This is a small quantity of sugar for the quantity of dark chocolate I normally use (200 g chocolate 85% cacao). Over the past 12 months, we have significantly decreased the quantity of sugar added (as well as salt) in our recipes. We have rediscovered the taste of foods and this chocolate mousse is one example – good quality chocolate doesn’t need to be underpowered by sugar. Use 60 grams of sugar and if you really think it is not enough, add an extra 20 grams in your chocolate mix before to add the whipped egg whites.

Half teaspoon of vanilla extract

60ml (1/4 cup) dark-brewed coffee

Pinch of salt

Preparation:

Place chocolate and coffee in a large bowl set over a bain marie (do not allow bowl to touch water because the chocolate will get too hot, causing it to seize or burn) or in a double boiler at a low simmer. Stir chocolate and coffee until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool while preparing the other mousse components.

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Fold the chocolate mixture into egg yolks and mix until smooth

Whisk together yolks, 30 g of sugar, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl until mixture is silky and smooth. Fold the chocolate mixture into egg yolks and mix until smooth.

With a hand mixer or mixer, whip egg whites to soft peaks. Add gradually 30 g of sugar and finally the vanilla extract and continue whipping until firm.

It is not necessary to start with room temperature whites because with today’s electric mixers, they generate enough friction to quickly warm the whites to the right temperature for beating.

Sugar interacts with the egg white proteins to help stabilize the whipped egg foam (egg whites beaten without sugar will not peak as firmly as those with), which is essentially a delicate protein network. It is very important to be aware of when to add the sugar while beating the egg whites. Always add sugar in a stream, slowly at the side of the bowl while the whites are being whipped; do not dump it in the center — if you don’t want to risk deflating the whites.

When I was a child, I was in charge of whipping the egg whites. To ensure that the whites were ready, I was holding the bowl upside down over my head (or my younger brother’s head) without them falling out! This was the fun part of this recipe…

Fold one-third of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture, and then fold in the rest of the whites just until incorporated. It is important to keep folding, from the outside in, in a figure-of-eight, until the mix is smooth and evenly colored. It will look a bit dodgy at first, but it will come together after a few minutes of dedicated work. Do not overdo it because the mousse will lose volume.

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Fold one-third of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture

 

Transfer the mousse into a serving bowl or divide into serving bowls. Cover the mousse and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours. The mousse can be made one day ahead, and keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

The chocolate mousse is ready

The chocolate mousse is ready

 

Serve the chocolate mousse with some raspberries and a piece of warm brioche, if desired. This is one among other perfect ways to end a meal.

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Chocolate mousse and rapsberries

 

Bon Appetite!