Monday, 11 February 2019

Tiramisu - Sugar free, grain free

This is heavily adapted from, thanks for the paleo starting point!  Anyone happy to eat maple syrup, go use the original recipe!

Blogging because I thought I'd lost my hand typed, printed, then annotated version of this after 3 tests and adjustments, but found it while I was cleaning up and don't want that hassle again!!!

Make the 3 components, then assemble, preferably a day before you plan to serve - it needs a bit of time to soak up the syrup.

Coconut Flour Lady Finger sponges
Makes 30 (some times!)
4 eggs, separated
scant 1/4 c xylitol + 1/4c coconut milk (or dairy)
1/4 t baking powder
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/3 c coconut flour
1 t freshly ground coffee

  • Preheat oven to 200°C.
  • Beat egg whites until stiff.
  • In another bowl, combine egg yolks, baking soda, vanilla extract & sweetener + milk.  Whisk until combined. Add coconut flour and whisk until smooth.
  • Fold in the egg whites, followed by the coffee grounds.
  • Line a baking tray with baking paper, pipe out 7.5cm long sponges using either a piping tube, or just cut the corner off a snap lock bag.  Mine are usually about as wide as my thumb, so not as fat as the traditional ones you'd buy (at least not in NZ).
  • Bake at 200°C for 7-9 minutes. Keep an eye on them and make sure they don't burn. NB: My oven cooks pretty hot, you may find you need a longer cooking time - the original recipe was 13 minutes.
  • Allow to cool.

Coffee & Amaretto Syrup
2/3 c cold drip coffee - failing this, use cold strongly brewed coffee, but the liqueur-like quality of the cold drip is amazing in this recipe.
scant 1/4 c xylitol
1/4 c amaretto

  • In a small sauce pan, combine all ingredients, bring to a light boil and simmer about 5 minutes.
  • Allow to cool.

Cream Filling
300 ml whipping cream
3/8 c xylitol (1/2 was too much, 1/4 too little!)
2 t vanilla extract
400g mascarpone

  • Whip the cream to soft peaks - it will get more whipping soon, so you don't want to take it too far!
  • In another bowl, combine xylitol, vanilla & mascarpone.
  • Add cream to mascarpone mix and whip again until stiff peaks (ish).

1 batch of each the above
1/4 c cocoa powder or cacao ( I don't actually measure this, I just sift enough over until it looks suitably chocolately).

  • Place a layer of lady fingers in the bottom of a 22.5cm x 15cm x 6.5cm dish (I often use the Tupperware clear mate large rectangle #2 - because I take this to picnics, and this works perfectly!
  • Drizzle half of the coffee & Amaretto syrup over the lady fingers. 
  • Top with half of the cream filling.
  • Repeat with a 2nd layering - you may choose not to use all of the remaining syrup, especially if you're serving it the same day, but if you can leave it over night, don't worry about it being a bit wet for now.
  • Dust with sifted cocoa/cacao powder.
  • Cover with a lid or your preferred clingy covering and refrigerate for for 24 hours before serving, if you can! It will be much better for the wait time, so do try and plan ahead!

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Mocha Slice - Sugar free, Vegan

I'll add photos when this is fully set, but having has a couple of sneaky tastes, I am not leaving any opportunity to forget to blog this.

Credits first!  I LOVE The Iron You - his recipes are fabulous, and have been an enormous source of inspiration since I cut out all sugar (actually anything that invokes an insulin response in the body) and increased leafy green vege consumption 12 months ago. No, TIYs recipes are not typically insulin-inducing-sweetener free, but I've had a lot of practice at substituting now, and usually there's only 1 or 2 subs I need to make from his recipes.  This one became, as you'll see, a rather different beast to what it started out as!

When I saw TIYs Fudgy No Bake Brownies recipe this week, I set to adapting it.  However, when I went to start making the slice I realised I didn't have enough pecans, and had no walnuts.  But I did have hazlenuts.  I'd already decided that cacao butter was going to play a part in replacing the dates, but wasn't yet decided on what to use to add a bit more wetness.  Then I thought "mmm, hazelnuts + coffee"!  So my fudgy brownie became instead a mocha slice.  And knowing how much I hate reading recipe preamble on blogs (sorry TIY - I usually skip most of it!), here's the recipe....


60g xylitol
10 drops of stevia extract
3 T cacao butter - melted
1 C pecans
1/2 C hazelnuts
6 T cacao powder
1 nespresso ristretto shot of khazan - I HATE this coffee, and have been trying to find recipes to use it in for ages! YAY!  (substitute with 25ml shot of coffee.  Of if you must use instant powder, but YUCK! Sorry, severe prejudice against instant coffee.)
1/4 t salt
1/4 t vanilla essence

5 T cacao powder
3 T xylitol powder (I blast mine in the dry container of my vitamix for a few seconds to powder it)
6 drops stevia extract
1 T warm water
2 T coconut oil - melted
1/4 t vanilla extract.


Line a small slice tray with baking paper.
Put nuts, xylitol, salt and cacao powder in a food processor and blitz until kind of crumby consistency.
Add the melted cacao butter, stevia, coffee & vanilla extract and blitz until well combined.
Press evenly in to prepared slice tray.
Pop in the fridge to begin setting while you prepare the frosting.

Mix all ingredients until smooth (I used a whisk - and in hindsight, I would have done well to have sifted the lumps out of both my xylitol powder (which has been sitting in a jar - if I'd powdered it right now it would have been fine) and the cacao powder.
Spread over the slice with a spatula.
Return to the fridge for a couple of hours to set.

As I mentioned - I had a sneaky taste before I put it back in the fridge. Oh my word!!! LOVE! :)

Monday, 28 December 2015

Elephant Hill Restaurant (Te Awanga, Hawke's Bay) is outstanding

Jane & I had a magnificent meal out at the restaurant at Elephant Hill​ this evening. If you are after a top class fine dining experience with magnificent food and wine and superb service then this is hard to beat. We have eaten at a number of excellent restaurants this year and this comes out at the top of the list for both of us for fine dining.

After a nice amuse bouche of apple with a rosemary foam and a cumin seed roll thereafter we were ready to get started. For entree I had the "Smoked venison tartare, beetroot meringue, horseradish sorbet, walnut" and Jane had the "Cured kingfish, lime pearls, dill, cucumber granita, crème fraîche, wakame dressing". Both were superb dishes that were magnificently presented, packed with flavour and intrigue and flavours that all complemented each other well.

For our mains, I had the "Smoked lamb loin, gremolata, goats curd, eggplant, artichoke heart, puffed black rice" and Jane had the "Glazed duck, soft shell crab, pomegranate, cucumber, coriander, vanilla lime dressing". Both were yet again superb, but my taste of Jane's dish was absolutely divine. We accompanied the mains with a nice "green leaf, walnut, pear, white balsamic" salad. I had the 2013 Elephant Hill Reserve Syrah and this was superb.

By dessert I couldn't fit much in so decided to have the "Petit Fours" which were four different chocolates and delightful. Jane had the "Dark chocolate crema catalana, milk chocolate mousse, jaffa curd, crème fraîche sorbet" and the crema catalana and jaffa curd were particularly good.

The service was outstanding as is the setting (looking out past the reflection pond to the vines and with the sea in the distance). We will very happily return.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Ski review: Blizzard Bonafide & Nordica Fire Arrow 84 EDT

I tried out a couple of skis yesterday from the latest range of skis on the Turoa ski field at Mt Ruapehu. The conditions were a mixture of hard packed, soft, crud and a little bit of ice but not a huge amount.

Blizzard Bonafide 2016 - 173cm - with a 98mm waist width I was looking at them in the context of an all mountain ski that is suitable with powder. These skis really wanted to move and skied well over a mixture of snow conditions but I found they were a bit hard to turn. The difficulty turning may have been due to me not being sufficiently heavy to drive these (~75kg) or maybe just not having much experience with a ski of this width. NZ$1399 (without bindings).

Nordica Fire Arrow 84 EDT 2015/2016 - 176cm - these skis felt great and natural to ski as soon as I headed off. I also felt a great sense of stability on the hard packed snow and felt these went well through a mixture of snow conditions (although the Bonafide was a bit smoother through the crud). With quite a stubby nose and next to no rocker, these were very responsive to turn but I expect they won't be the best in too much soft snow. NZ$2199 (with bindings).

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Book Review: The Complete Joy of Homebrewing Fourth Edition by Charlie Papazian

The Complete Joy of Homebrewing Fourth Edition contains lots of good information about the brewing process and use of different sugars, ingredients such as berries, coriander, chocolate and when to add them.

There is also a useful description of different hops, basic guidelines of quantities of malts and hops to use for various styles of beer and a significant number of recipes. Unexpectedly there are also a number of different Mead recipes. There is even a section on growing hops.

The coverage of Brew In A Bag (BIAB) was quite light and I didn't see any coverage on how to scale a recipe (maybe I missed it).

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Wine Review: Te Awa Merlot 2004

From the Hawkes Bay in New Zealand, this beautiful ruby red coloured wine from Te Awa Winery has a leather nose, is very tannic and dry and has a lovely plum flavour. It is very enjoyable to drink and despite being labeled a Merlot it is actually a blend of Merlot (85%), Malbec (6%), Cabernet Sauvignon (5%), Cabernet Franc (3%) which provides a good level of complexity and interest. Drinking well now and the structure feels solid to last for a number more years.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Book Review: "How to Brew: Everything You Need To Know To Brew Beer Right The First Time" by John J. Palmer

Having now brewed a couple of all grain beers I thought I should find out a bit more about what I should be doing and why I do certain things so I picked up this book that I had seen referred to in many places from the local library.

"How to Brew: Everything You Need To Know To Brew Beer Right The First Time" by John J. Palmer is a superb book about brewing beer. It explains the basics (from kit brewing to extract to all grain), gets quite scientific and provides a number of recipes. For an absolute beginner of brewing this book may be a bit overwhelming. As somebody who has brewed many kits and recently got into all grain brewing (with Brew In A Bag) I found the book to be superb.