Showing posts with label pistachios. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pistachios. Show all posts

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Culture Confusion Rocky Road Bundt #BundtBakers

This Bundt is a riot of cultural influences and flavors and colors that somehow come together to create one of the richest Bundts I’ve ever baked: Turkish delight, dried apricots, syrupy stem ginger, pistachios, dried cranberries and date molasses, in a Jamaican ginger batter, finished off with a decorative flourish of American marshmallow fluff.

This is the TCK or third culture kid of cakes, feeling the pull of the Far East, Middle East, Jamaica by way of the British Isles and the United States as well. This month our Bundt Baker host, Laura of Baking in Pyjamas, challenged us to bake a Bundt with the flavors and ingredients of Rocky Road. For those unfamiliar, rocky road is an unbaked confection that usually contains nuts, fruit, chocolate and marshmallows, sometimes cookies, but a little research soon revealed that the combinations depend greatly on where one lives.  I was intrigued by a recipe on for a Turkish Delight Rocky Road and decided to use those basic ingredients, but baked in cake batter. (And substituting a North American ingredient, cranberries, for the glacĂ© cherries because glacĂ© cherries? Just no.)

Ah, but which cake batter? Sure, I could have done a plain cake but if you’ve been reading along here a while you know that I don’t often take the easy way out. I like a challenge. So I started looking for a cake recipe with Turkish delight and came across this moist and beautiful ginger loaf baked with fond memories of her English childhood, from my fellow UAE blogger, Sally of My Custard Pie. Now Sally’s ginger cake was already loaded with flavor and the only thing Turkish delight about it ended up being a gorgeous pink rose flavored icing. But I could already taste all of my added flavors baked in that fabulous batter. It’s a gift.

To finish it off Rocky Road style, I piped on some marshmallow fluff. Only after it was baked did I realize that, with so much going on, I forgot chocolate. Sorry, Laura!

For the cake batter:
1/2 cup or 90g dried apricots
1 cup or 150g unsalted pistachios, divided
1/2 cup or 85g dried cranberries
 3 1/2 oz or 100g Turkish Delight
1 knob of stem ginger
2 cups or 250g flour plus a little extra for flouring Bundt pan
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground (powdered) ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup, firmly packed, or 100g brown sugar
1/2 cup or 113g unsalted butter
1/2 cup or 120ml golden syrup
1/3 cup or 80ml date molasses (Normal molasses can be substituted.)
1 generous tablespoon syrup from jar of stem ginger
1 large egg
2/3 cup or 155 ml milk

To decorate:
1/2 cup marshmallow creme or fluff or use a thick glaze of your choosing
Cranberries and pistachios, amounts as per the instructions below

Finely chop about one quarter of your pistachios in a food processor. You are looking for a lot of pistachios dust, very fine crumbs and some small pieces.

Roughly chop the rest of your pistachios with a knife and set aside about one quarter of them to decorate the Bundt after baking.

Cut your cranberries, apricots and Turkish delight into small pieces.  Using scissors is easier than the knife. Mince your stem ginger.  Set aside about one quarter of the cranberry pieces for decorating the cake after baking.

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and liberally butter and lightly flour your 10-cup Bundt pan. In case you are curious, mine is the Nordic Ware Fleur de Lis.  <affiliate link

Now sprinkle the finely chopped pistachios around the side and middle of the Bundt pan. The bigger pieces will not stick and will fall into the deep grooves of the pan. This is a good thing.

Sift the flour for the cake into a large mixing bowl and add in the baking powder, ginger, baking soda and salt. Mix well.

Add the cut apricots, Turkish delight and the bigger pile of cranberries to the flour mixture and use your hands to make sure they are all well coated and not sticking together.

In a large saucepan, gently warm the golden syrup, date molasses and the ginger syrup with the brown sugar and butter till the butter is just melted and the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.

Measure your milk into a measuring jug, add in the egg and whisk well with a fork.

Pour your barely warm molasses mixture into the flour bowl then add the milk with egg and the minced stem ginger. Mix lightly.

Fold in the larger pile of chopped pistachios.

Pour the batter into your prepared Bundt pan.

Bake on the middle shelf in your preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean. The cake should be pulling away from the sides slightly.

Allow to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then use your wooden skewer to loosen any bits of cake adhering to the sides or middle of the Bundt pan, before turning the cake out.

Allow to cool completely before decorating.

To decorate, put your marshmallow fluff in a piping bag and follow the contours of your cake. My initial plan was for fuller coverage but the diamonds that appeared on top because of the pistachios were too cool to hide, so I ended up not using all the marshmallow fluff. If you have a traditional Bundt pan, just pipe that sticky stuff all over.

Poke bits of cranberry and pistachio all over the cake until you think there’s enough or you run out. Over the past 20 years I’ve had a couple of good friends who have baked and decorated with me and they will tell you that I often need to be stopped when contemplating the addition of just one more thing. But more is more, I say.

A note on marshmallow fluff: It’s not the best medium to stick stuff to a cake, even a cold cake, because it starts to slide. If you aren’t trying to mimic rocky road ingredients, feel free to substitute your favorite glaze. Perhaps even Sally’s pretty in pink Turkish Delight one or her alternate option, flavored with fresh lemongrass.

Many thanks to Laura from Baking in Pyjamas for this great theme. I know you all are going to enjoy the variety of flavors and cakes we have for you today! Remember, just because it's called Rocky Road, doesn't mean it's all the same inside!


#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on the BundtBakers home page.

Aaaaand, if you happen to have extra marshmallow fluff and a willing pooch (and by willing I mean he sits patiently waiting for a taste whenever I fill a green piping bag - he knows!) then by all means, give him a mustache and let him lick it off.  Hey, it's his 8th birthday on Saturday. Special treat.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

Chewy dried cranberries lend both sweetness and tartness to these crisp Italian-style cookies and the pistachios! What can I say about the pistachios? Their color, flavor and nutty goodness elevate plain cranberry biscotti to fabulousness. 

Food Lust People Love: Chewy dried cranberries lend both sweetness and tartness to these crisp Italian-style cookies and the pistachios! What can I say about the pistachios? Their color, flavor and nutty goodness elevate plain cranberry biscotti to fabulous.

We were so well-organized! Weeks and weeks ago, Lauren from Sew You Think You Can Cook wrote to ask if I’d like to participate in a virtual baby shower for our fellow blogger, Tara of Tara’s Multicultural Table who was expecting baby number two. The theme was going to be biscotti because it means twice cooked. You know, like second time with a bun in the oven. Pretty clever, huh? Who could resist the opportunity to make a big deal out of a second baby AND bake biscotti! Not I.

This whole thing is a surprise party for Tara, who, as far as we know, doesn’t suspect a thing. But the biggest surprise was for us, when the baby came four and a half weeks early! It’s been so hard keeping the virtual baby shower a secret when we just wanted to be shouting from the rooftops. If you follow Tara on Instagram, (and you should!) you’ve seen a picture of the little one. Adorable! Congratulations, Tara, to you and to your newly expanded family!

Now let’s bake some biscotti! I had never made them before but, I can tell you, I will certainly be making them again. My recipe was adapted from this one in The Daily Telegraph.

Ingredients for about 3 dozen biscotti
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup or 340g sugar
Zest 1 orange (I used a blood orange but any orange will do.)
4 3/4 cups or 595g flour
2 heaped teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups or 200g whole pistachios
1 1/2 cups or 200g dried cranberries
4 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat the oven to 300°F or 150°C and prepare a cookie sheet by lining it with parchment or a silicone liner.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs with the sugar until they are glossy, turn a pale yellow and the sugar has started to dissolve.

Use a microplane or small grater to zest the orange into the egg bowl and whisk again.

Measure your flour into another bowl and add the baking powder and salt. Mix well.

Sift the flour mixture into the egg bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until you get a soft dough.

Add in the pistachios and cranberries and work them into the dough.

Divide the dough in half and roll the pieces into logs about 12-14 inches or 30-36cm long. The dough is still rather sticky so I found it easiest to wrap it in cling film and shape it by pressing on the cling film until I reached my desired size and shape.

Place the logs a few inches apart on your prepared cookie sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes. As you can see, one log is longer than the other. I decided not to care and you shouldn’t either. You want to make sure that the logs are baked completely through so, like bread, they should sounds a little hollow when tapped.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. I left mine for just over an hour so I turned the oven off when I took them out.

Once the logs are completely cooled, preheat the oven to 300°F or 150°C again. Use a serrated knife to cut the logs into 1/2 inch or 1cm slices. I cut mine on an angle so that the biscotti were longer. My helper dog and I shared the end bits but I still got 36 bake-able slices.

Place your slices on cookie sheets and brush them with the melted butter.

Food Lust People Love: Chewy dried cranberries lend both sweetness and tartness to these crisp Italian-style cookies and the pistachios! What can I say about the pistachios? Their color, flavor and nutty goodness elevate plain cranberry biscotti to fabulous.
This is the first pan and it held 25 biscotti. The second small pan held only 11.

Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden.

Food Lust People Love: Chewy dried cranberries lend both sweetness and tartness to these crisp Italian-style cookies and the pistachios! What can I say about the pistachios? Their color, flavor and nutty goodness elevate plain cranberry biscotti to fabulous.

Pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy!

Food Lust People Love: Chewy dried cranberries lend both sweetness and tartness to these crisp Italian-style cookies and the pistachios! What can I say about the pistachios? Their color, flavor and nutty goodness elevate plain cranberry biscotti to fabulous.

Are you ready for a virtual baby shower? No gifts, just lots of love and biscotti! 

Biscotti Baby Shower

Many thanks to Lauren from Sew You Think You Can Cook for organizing this virtual baby shower for Tara! Check out all the other lovely recipes that have been made in Tara’s honor!

Food Lust People Love: Chewy dried cranberries lend both sweetness and tartness to these crisp Italian-style cookies and the pistachios! What can I say about the pistachios? Their color, flavor and nutty goodness elevate plain cranberry biscotti to fabulous.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sticky Cinnamon Figs - Guest post for Magnolia Days

Figs are sweet all on their own but add a little butter, a little honey and a little heat and they turn even sweeter and syrupy, the perfect accompaniment to mascarpone and pistachios. 

Guest posts are hard.
I don’t know if it’s just me but when I am writing and cooking and taking photographs for someone else’s space, I feel a lot more pressure than when it’s just for me. Not that I don’t care about you, my own readers. I do! And I want the dish to be as tasty as possible, because we are going to eat it. And I want the photos to be wonderful and draw you in. But, if you are here reading, chances are you like what I make or write or the photos I post, or you at least forgive me my mistakes because you know I mean well. Or you are my mother and would love me anyway. (Hi, Mom!) But as a guest writer on another blog, I'll have new eyes on my work that don’t know me. And I’d hate to be found wanting. Call it the middle child syndrome, perhaps, but I want people to like me! I want to be good enough. Can anyone else relate?

So go read my guest post, okay? 
All this moaning is my way of telling you that I have a guest post up today on the wonderful blog Magnolia Days, for my friend and, dare I say, blogging mentor, Renee. Renee has been endlessly generous with her knowledge and advice and kindness over the past three years of my blogging journey. When she asked if I would guest post as she takes a dual milestone birthday celebration trip to Germany with her mother, I jumped at the chance. And then repented in leisure. (See paragraph one above, re: Guest posts are hard.) I made three different recipes because I couldn’t decide what was good enough for a guest post. And, fellow bloggers, just in case I’ve done a guest post for you, know that the anguish was the same. But this time I decided to come public. The chosen recipe is for sticky cinnamon figs and they made the cut because they are sweet and southern, just like Renee.

Check out the figgy honey syrup in the bottom of my baking pan!

Payback is only fair.
Renee has helped me so much that an emphatic “Sure!” was the only right answer. She is instrumental in the smooth running of Sunday Supper and is my partner in crime for Bread Bakers.  If you haven’t met her yet, I encourage you to browse through her extensive list of recipes. Everything I’ve made from Renee’s blog has been great but we especially enjoyed her sesame noodles from a couple of years back and more recently, her No-bake Bourbon Pecan Cookies and Asian Pork Lettuce Cups.

Seriously delicious sesame noodles!

Now please go visit my Sticky Cinnamon Figs and meet my friend, Renee!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Becca's-Pistachio-Oat-Cookie Muffins #MuffinMonday

With only one half cup of sugar and one quarter cup of oil in 12 muffins, not to mention the steel cut oats, flax seeds, pistachios, raisins and cranberries, these guys are reasonably healthy but, more importantly, for me at least, they are chock full of flavor! 

Ever since I started participating in Muffin Mondas more than two years ago, my mind has worked in strange and wonderful ways. I am always, and I mean always, on the lookout for muffin inspiration. Doing my shopping, cooking other recipes (sweet or savory) and especially when I am trolling the internet and reading posts on blogs that I love. This week’s inspiration came from the no-bake pistachio oat cookies made by my friend, Becca from It’s Yummy. Becca does share decadent sweets and desserts from time to time, and she’s a fan of all things bacon – so we have that fabulous love in common - but overall, she tries to keep things reasonably healthy. Part of her mission is to turn an unhealthy meal into something delicious and nutritious, without spending a fortune! And who wouldn’t appreciate that?!  If you haven’t met her yet, please do go on over and say howdy and give her a little love. Besides being a great recipe developer and blogger, she is also one of the sweetest, kindest, most generous people you would ever like to meet.

Anyhoo, here’s my muffin take on her great no-bake cookies! Thanks for the inspiration, Becca!

1/2 cup or 90g steel cut oats
1/2 cup or 120ml orange juice
1/2 cup or 65g shelled roasted pistachios (unsalted, if possible)
1/3 cup or 50g golden raisins
1/3 cup or 60g dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups or 190g flour
1/2 cup or 100g sugar
1/3 cup or 45g toasted flax seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
3/4 cup 180ml milk
1/4 cup or 60ml canola or other light oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Because the steel cut oats need soaking to soften enough to add to this recipe, start the day before you want to bake. Warm your orange juice and pour it over the oats in a small bowl. Cover it and set it aside until it is cool. Now put it in the refrigerator overnight. Ideally, you’ll want to let the oats soak for at least 12 hours. Give it a stir occasionally, if you think about it.

Warm orange juice just poured in on the left. After an overnight soaking on the right.
It turned a little starchy and sticky but don't let that bother you. 

When you are ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F or 180°C.  Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper cases or grease liberally.

Chop your pistachios roughly and do the same with the dried cranberries if they are large. Set aside a small handful of the pistachios, cranberries and raisins for decorating the tops of the muffins before baking, if desired.

In a large bowl, mix together your flour, sugar, flax seeds, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

Toasted flax seeds are crunchy and delicious! I'll be putting them in and on everything from now on.

In a smaller bowl, whisk your eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Add the soaked oats and any liquid with them to the eggs/milk/oil bowl and stir well.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just moistened. Some flour should still be showing.

Fold in the chopped pistachios, cranberries and raisins.

Divide the batter into the muffin cups and decorate the tops with the reserved pistachios, cranberries and raisins, if using.

Bake in your preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

Allow the muffins to cool for a few minutes in the muffin tin and then remove to a rack to cool completely.

Or break one open and start eating it warm!


Monday, May 5, 2014

Pomegranate and Pistachio Muffins with Pomegranate Glaze #MuffinMonday #Gluten-free

My first foray into gluten-free baking is this pomegranate and pistachio muffin, both ingredients that are common in the Middle East and look pretty together besides. Pomegranate juice and sugar cooked down to a syrup make a beautiful sticky glaze that will hold your extra pistachios and pomegranate arils on after baking. 

Baking gluten-free is a new challenge for me but one I handled with my usual three-pronged approach to cooking and baking things unfamiliar. 1. Lots of research 2. A bit of daydreaming, then 3. Just jump off the cliff. Turns out that baking gluten-free has a couple of caveats, like add more liquid than usual and stir until completely and thoroughly blended, even when it comes to muffin batter. But otherwise, it’s not that tricky. I took these pretty babies along to my weekly ladies Bible study this morning because one of our members is gluten-intolerant and it was my turn to bring snacks. The muffins were completely and utterly demolished. But, best of all, no one would have even guessed that they were made with a gluten-free flour mix. I figure that is the greatest endorsement of all.

For 18 muffins:
1 1/2 cups or 240g gluten-free flour blend (I used Dove Farms.)
3/4 cup or 150g sugar
1/2 teaspoon xanthun gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup or 120ml canola or other light oil
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk *
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup or 125g slivered or chopped pistachio kernels, divided
2 cups or 250g pomegranate arils, divided

* A good substitute for buttermilk is one tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar added to a measuring vessel and topped up with milk to one cup or 240ml. Stir and allow to rest for five minutes before using.

For the optional glaze:
1/2 cup or 120ml unsweetened pomegranate juice
1/4 cup or 50g sugar

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.  Generously grease a 12-cup and a six-cup muffin pan or line both with paper muffin liners.

Combine the flour mix, sugar, xanthum gum, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a large mixing bowl.

In another bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.

Add all the milk mixture to flour mixture.

Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the flour is completely mixed in. This is going to be thinner than your average muffin batter. Trust.

Set a good handful of the pomegranate arils and the slivered pistachios aside and then fold the rest of both into the batter.

Divide your batter relatively evenly between the 18 muffin cups.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until muffins are golden and toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

While the muffins bake, put your pomegranate juice and the sugar into a small pot on the stove. Bring to the boil and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Turn the fire down so the juice is just bubbling slowly and cook until the liquid has reduced by half. Turn off the fire and allow to cool a little.

When the muffins are done, remove the pan from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before removing muffins and cooling them further on a wire rack.

When the muffins are cool, drizzle on the pomegranate syrup and decorate by sprinkling with the reserved pomegranate arils and pistachio slivers. If the syrup has hardened up, loosen it by gently warming over a low fire and stirring until it is able to drip off a spoon again.


One of my ladies, the lovely Cheryl-lynn, thought you all might need proof that the muffins were devoured with relish.

Told ya!