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I seem to have been away from this space slightly longer than I anticipated. It was only a week – although it feels much longer than that – but I have a good excuse. You see, we went to Vegas for a few days and everyone knows what happens in Vegas…

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A while ago, I made these ricotta gnocchi for the blog. I actually make them all the time; I love a meal that you can have on the table within a matter of minutes. The original recipe calls for plain flour but I’d been wondering for a while whether it would be possible to change it up a little and swap in some different flours.  Read More »

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It is quite likely that whenever you read this post I will either just have eaten, just been about to eat or actually be eating one of these rice crispy treats. They’re pretty much my new most best thing ever.

When I was little, rice crispy treats were very simple. Melt some chocolate and some golden syrup, throw in your rice crispies and there you had it.

It’s only in recent years that rice crispy treats seem to have evolved into something much more complicated involving butter and marshmallows and goodness knows what else. And I have to admit that marshmallows, or at least shop-bought marshmallows, are one food that I’ve never really understood. They always seem so weirdly pointless and supremely unappealing.

So in the spirit of these simple rice crispy treats of my youth, these only contain three ingredients.  Well, four if you count the chocolate chips that I added which are optional but most definitely encouraged.

Now I do also realise that I’ve become slightly obsessed with nut butters of late but I finding it very hard to stop thinking about them. I promise I’ll stop soon (although I should point out for people in the UK that Ocado currently have cashew and almond butter on special offer if you want to join me in my obsession).  Hazelnut butter is probably my favourite but I think any type of nut butter would work equally well in these. Indeed the last batch I made contained a mixture of three different butters that I found lurking in my kitchen. Honey provides the stickiness here; I think you could use maple syrup but I tend to find that honey is stickier and therefore works slightly better. I like to stir the chocolate chips in when the mixture is still slightly warm so that they melt a little and end up with swathes of chocolate. The chocolate, when it hardens, also has the added benefit of helping to hold the whole thing together but it’s by no means essential, the nut butter and honey have more than enough sticking power.

I feel so much better about life when I have a batch of these on hand. They’re sweet enough to keep me happy but substantial enough that I don’t feel hungry within ten minutes of eating one. The fact that they are so easy and quick to make (seriously, I made the last batch in an advert break during CSI) is just an added bonus.

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Hazelnut butter rice crispy treats
Makes 8
Ingredients
  • 110g (1/2 cup) hazelnut butter
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 50g (2 cups) rice crispies (I used brown rice crispies but the normal ones are fine. Just don’t use puffed rice. Not the same thing at all.)
  • 50g (1/4 cup) chocolate chips (optional)

Cooking Directions

  1. Line a tin or a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Melt the hazelnut butter and honey in a medium saucepan over a low heat until they are combined and liquid.
  3. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the rice crispies so that they are all covered. If desired, stir in the chocolate chips.
  4. Pour the mixture into the tin, pat down with your hands and chill until firm (about an hour or two).

I prefer to store these in the fridge but they will last at room temperature for a bit too.

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This weekend has involved a lot of cake.

For someone who is supposed to be on a pre-holiday healthy eating kick, it was probably filled with too much cake. But you can’t turn down special occasion cake can you? And if that special occasion happens to just be a friday afternoon, then so be it. Life is all about celebrating the little moments.

In addition to the friday afternoon cake pictured here, more of which later, I spent most of the weekend engaged in a father’s day baking extravaganza for my parents and my boyfriend’s parents who were all invited for afternoon tea. There were Nigella’s flourless brownies, a Victoria sponge and some lemon cupcakes which I won’t link to because they were pretty disappointing.

When planning the menu, I hadn’t realised what a grammatical minefield I would be crossing with my brownies. As there were going to be 16 brownies, I decided to use them to spell out ‘Happy Father’s Day’ and ice a letter on each one. A lively twitter debate then ensued as to whether ‘Father’ should be singular (to represent fathers everywhere) or plural (because there were two fathers present). I should just add here that I love and appreciate the seriousness with which my friends entered into this conversation, it warmed my heart even if it didn’t provide me with an answer. In the end, I solved the dilemma by eating the apostrophe brownie.

All of those cakes were delicious in their own ways but I really wanted to talk about this raspberry and almond cake. I found some English raspberries in a local shop and I pounced on them.

Well, I didn’t actually pounce on them because I’m English but I asked very politely if I could have some raspberries which is almost the same. I had a vague plan for a cake, tender with ground almonds, rich with olive oil and full of jammy pockets (with thanks to Kathryne for a phrase that’s been haunting me since I read it).

In some recipes, the substitution of ground almonds for some of the flour can work very nicely. I’ve never been able to replace more than about a quarter of the flour without causing some severe structural damage to the cake but a little can go a long way. I think it is particularly good in a recipe like this where you’re using whole grains but where you don’t want too robust a texture or taste from the flour.

The combination of ground almonds and olive oil creates a dense but light crumb, sturdy enough to tranport the raspberries but not too heavy for it to be a perfect summer cake. You can serve this with a dollop of creme or creme fraiche but this cake more than holds its own without.
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Raspberry and almond olive oil cake
Loosely adapted from delicious magazine
Yield: A 23cm cake (serves 8)

Ingredients

  • 4 medium eggs
  • 110g (1/2 cup) unrefined caster/granulated sugar
  • 45ml (3 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • 85g (3/4 cup) whole wheat flour
  • 50g (1/2 cup) ground almonds/almond meal
  • 130g (1 cup) raspberries
  • Powedered sugar and raspberries to serve

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 160C/325F and well grease a 23cm tin with butter.
  2. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the eggs and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy and has tripled in size (at least 5 minutes, probably closer to 10).
  3. Pour in the olive oil and vanilla and continue to whisk until it has been incorporated.
  4. Fold the flour and ground almonds into the mixture with a metal spoon, trying not to lose any of the air.
  5. Finally fold in the raspberries.
  6. Pour into the tin* and bake for 35-40 minutes until the cake is golden brown and starting to shrink from the edges of the tin. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
  7. To serve, dust with icing sugar.

* You know how I like my little notes. Depending on how enthusiastically you whipped your eggs and how much you deflate it during the folding, you may have a little extra mixture or may want to use a slightly bigger tin. Sometimes this quantity fits perfectly, sometimes I have a couple of tablespoons extra. The latter normally happens when I’ve left the mixer going and lost track of time…