flourless dark chocolate almond cake {torta caprese}

I have had full blown writer's block as of late. Nothing seems to want to come out of me. Sometimes I actually find that the hardest part about blogging, the writing part, the trying to sound interesting part. 

In reality I am pretty boring and tend to follow the same routine from week to week. I am not complaining about it, I actually love routine. And as much as it may sound boring, my week to week activities, I love them and wouldn't change them for anything. Our weekends tend to be the same, Paul and I head out hiking, maybe have a fire/picnic on the coast, brunch at our favourite spots, and I spend a lot of time in the kitchen shooting and creating. 

When all the stars align I will get together with a girlfriend or two. Lives are so busy now a days that it is rarer than I would like but we just make sure to cherish the time we have, drinking wine, canvasing Christmas craft fairs, brunching {yes it's a pattern, I do love my brunch}, movie watching and chatting for hours upon hours.

That is really it though, I still work full time so during the week I am pretty Grandma-ish when it comes to my evenings. I come home, workout, make dinner, cuddle the zoo we seem to be collecting aka our fur babies aka Rahu, Ketu & Solomon. Every once in a while I will have a restaurant or event shoot but I keep my evenings simple and replenishing.

I decided today that I want to start meditating more frequently again. I used to all the time, it was part of my routine and then you know how it goes, well I stopped. So I am making a pact to you right now that tonight my meditation practice is going to start again. I am going to add it into my bedtime routine. I always feel so much more grounded and spiritually alive when I meditate and practice it regularly. Isn't it the oddest thing that what makes us feel the best we give up the easiest when life gets busy. Well no more, self-care, self-love, self-realization is being brought back into my life, genuinely. 

Alright enough of me yammering on much about nothing, lets talk cake. Torta caprese is a Italian classic. It is simple yet decadent and rich. A small slice will be satisfying. This cake is awesome because you can easily change the ingredients to make it smaller or larger. The main ingredients dark chocolate, almonds, butter and sugar all just have to be equal parts. 

If you have a smaller springform pan just use 125 grams of each ingredient, 3 eggs and an 8 inch springform pan. 

The cake is moist, has texture from the almonds and comes out almost fudge like. I like the almond texture so I don't blend them until completely meal like, I leave them just a tad more course (not much more) and you get a bit of crunch in each bite. 

I always like to add coffee to my chocolate cakes, it enhances the chocolate and makes the overall flavour that much more smooth and pure vanilla, I simply just love vanilla. You could play around and add different extracts or liquors, maybe some almond or orange. Mint might be nice as well. 

I feel like this could become a classic Christmas cake. You only need a small slice as it is rich, which makes it perfect for after a large dinner, gives you that sweet satisfaction without needing too much. It is simple to put together and actually gets better on day two and three so you can make it ahead of time. Which allows you to spend more time with your loved ones on Christmas day instead of entirely held up in the kitchen. Bonus it looks extremely elegant on the table, especially after the snow dusting aka icing sugar dusting.


flourless dark chocolate almond cake {torta caprese}

ingredients

250 grams blanched almonds

250 grams dark chocolate {70% cacao +}

250 grams butter

250 grams cane sugar

6 eggs

1 tbsp pure vanilla

1 tbsp strong brewed coffee

2-3 tbsp of organic icing sugar (for dusting)

directions

preheat the oven to 320 degrees. grease and line the bottom of an 11 inch springform pan with parchment.

in a double broiler melt the chocolate (break into smaller pieces for quicker melting). take the melted chocolate off the heat and add the butter stirring with a wooden spoon until melted.

add the almonds to a food processor and blend until almost meal like. mix the almond meal into the chocolate & butter mixture. then add in the sugar, vanilla and coffee mixing fully.

once the chocolate mixture has cooled add in the 6 egg yolks. whip the whites until light and fluffy and gently fold into the chocolate. 

pour the batter into the springform, smooth the top and bake for an hour and ten minutes to an hour and a half (until a toothpick comes out clean).

let the cake cool completely before taking out of the tin, dust with icing sugar and serve. you could also serve it with some whipped cream or ice cream on the side. 

this cake keeps really well and gets even better on day two.

recipe slightly adapted from Food52


honey pecan + apple + goat cheese tart & the story of Rahu & Ketu (our new kitties)

I am just finally feeling like I am getting back to normal after a really awful cold/flu bug hit me and lasted two weeks strong. I am still slightly congested but I can breathe fresh air again so that makes me happy. When I get sick, I get sick. It has always been my way, it is never just the touch of a cold it is daggers in my throat, pounding head, congested sinuses that require boxes of Kleenex by my side and a raspy voice for days. The only thing I hate about getting over a cold is losing the voice. I LOVE, like wish I could permanently change my voice to a raspy one. I am always so jealous of those with one, and I am not a jealous person by any means. But that raspy voice thing gets me every time, it is in my humble opinion so sexy!

Before we get into this weeks delicious honey pecan, apple, goat cheese puff tart (I am looking at you holiday table dessert) I thought I would tell you a little about our newest fur ball family members.

If you follow me on Instagram (if you don’t click here, I think mine is pretty fun, plus you can see the cute kitty pics ;) you will know that we welcomed two new little fur rascals into our family over the weekend, Mr. Rahu and Miss Ketu. They have just stolen our hearts by storm. When we lost Chai a couple of months back it almost felt like we would never be able to have another kitty the pain was just too much and all we wanted was to have our little guy back. But has time does its healing we had been talking more and more in the past weeks of getting another little kitty.

Actually, I believe that Chai brought us Rahu and Ketu. When we first brought Chai home it was almost to the day this time of the year, November 2013. Which I like to think is a tad serendipitous. Paul and I are quite spiritual, and believe there are always greater forces guiding us from within and around us. Nature plays a huge part in our spirituality; we both feel a huge connection to the earth, ocean,  sun and moon. Rahu and Ketu’s names are actually derived from Vedic astrology.

They are known as the invisible planets and considered the black moon and the black sun, enemies of our light sun and moon. They are astronomical points in the sky representing the north and south lunar nodes, where the moon and sun’s path intersect, they are what cause eclipse’s. They are also supposed to represent collections of both good and bad, spirituality and supernatural influences.

Rahu is the severed head of an asura called Svarbhanu, he is what swallows the sun causing eclipses. In art form he is depicted as a serpent with no body riding a chariot drawn by eight black horses. Rahu’s severed body was renamed Ketu and they were rejoined together with a snake. Ketu represents the body without a head and Rahu represent the head without a body and became immortal before being severed. They belong to different Gotra’s, meaning they are totally different entities with distinct characteristics and bodies. Rahu is said to bring great power and wealth by any means necessary, which represents the dark within them I suppose.

Their main job though is to bring out the spiritual side of a person and awaken an area of life where there has been ignorance. Where there is over indulgence Ketu tries to restore that area with dissatisfaction (the bad), showing you that material items are not the path to your true inner self or your true spiritual self. With Ketu by your side you can achieve great self-realization and a deeper spiritual enlightening. Ketu is also believed to bring prosperity, removes the effects of poisons and grants good health and wealth. Ketu is also a karaka, an indicator of intelligence, wisdom, non-attachment (again letting go of materialism), fantasy, penetrating insight and psychic abilities.

Rahu (mine not the entity) cracks me up, he is such a boy in his ways, you can just feel his masculine side. He is extremely protective of Ketu and always wants to be by her side. If we take her out of the room and leave him he stands behind the closed door and meows until she is back in. She can be sleeping on one side of the bed (with her independent self) and if he sees her he will bounce over to her and snug right up next to her. He has such a soft, tender side to him as well, super playful but gentle playful, never using his claws. He is extremely cuddly and loves sprawling out on your chest for a nap, I think maybe our beating hearts calms and comforts him. He is a lot more timid and nervous than Ketu is with like I said a very protective nature. I think will it will take quite a bit longer for him to open up to Solomon. When they are both around him Rahu steps up and shows his guardian side against Solomon (who by the way is just wagging his tail, overwhelmed with joy that he has two friends in the house).

Miss Princess Ketu, believe it or not she is the first female animal I have ever had. I have always gravitated to male animals but there was something about this little lady that won my heart. She has this intriguing, almost mysterious side to her. When she looks at you it feels as though she just knows things and is entering the deepest part of your soul in the best way possible (I believe her name really couldn’t be more fitting). She is more independent than Rahu, she likes to be around him  but she is also capable of hanging out on her own, a strong, fierce little lady. Although she is still scared of Solomon as long as you are by her side she has a confidence about her. She is over joyed by cuddles and loves snugging right up next to your face as close as she can get, sometimes even on it. She is more aggressive than Rahu in her playfulness, like she is pretty much going for blood, which maybe represents the snake in her? She uses her claws to grab you or knead you and they are sharp, pointy devils, but what is a slight prick here and there when they are that cute?!

As much as their names may seem dark, I only see the light within them and think they are suited perfectly for the pair. Their personalities actually correlate extremely well with each of their names in this weird cosmic way. It was the super moon this week, the closest the moon has been to earth in over 70 years. The night of it Paul and lit candles, did a sage and bay leaf cleanse around the house, around us and around Solomon, Rahu and Ketu as well as a meditation with our 12 element Indian meditation bowl. This moon represented letting go of old dark weight and welcoming in new fresh bright light. I found that quite magical, that we happened to pick names for kitties that represent the moon on a week that the moon was as powerful as it was. Then with the background of Chai coming into our lives around the same time those years ago, everything with these two just seems right and fitting and like the universe brought us all together for a reason.

So there you have the beginning story of our Rahu and Ketu. There will be plenty of updates and the second I can get a picture of Rahu, Ketu and Solomon you guys will be the first to see it. For now though it doesn't get much sweeter than two kitties in a bread bowl. You can also check out my Instagram for more cute pics from our first week together. 

Anyways, the recipe! Ok this tart is delicious. Paul is my harshest critic by far, he is honest with what he likes and doesn’t like and has no hesitation telling me something isn’t blog worthy. I cut him a slice of this honey pecan, apple & goat cheese tart and not only did he go back for seconds he went back for thirds. The entire tart was gone in one day!

It is really good; honey and thyme are two of my favourite flavours. I have used them together in quite a few recipes:

Honey & thyme baked persimmons with bacon & goat cheese

Honey & thyme baked brie with dried fruit and nuts

Honey garlic roast chicken with thyme & roasted butternut squash

I wanted the tart to be sweet with a touch of savoury which is why I brought the goat cheese into the mix. And the pecan/thyme topping, don’t even get me started! Everything melds together seamlessly and the best part it is so so so simple to put together. You can serve it warm, room temperature or even straight from the fridge. My favourite is fresh out of the oven but it does taste great cold too. Top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and dessert is done.


Honey caramelized pecan + apple + goat cheese tart

Ingredients

2 honey crisp apples

1 package of puff pastry

Juice of one lemon

¾ cup of goat cheese

3 tbsp of brown butter (split)

5 tbsp of honey (split)

2 tsp vanilla

¼ tsp Himalayan salt

1 cup pecans

1 tbsp fresh thyme

1 egg (for wash)

Directions

Unthaw one square package of puff pastry and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Once thawed roll your puff pastry into one large 8x12 inch rectangle. Place your rolled pastry onto your lined baking sheet, score a ½ inch border and poke fork holes in the bottom. Place back in the freezer until you are ready to bake.

In a small bowl combine goat cheese, 2 tbsp of honey, 1 tsp of vanilla and salt. Set aside

Thinly slice your apples and pour the juice of one lemon over them. Set aside.

In a small pan on medium heat brown 2 tbsp of butter, once browned add in 2 tbsp of honey, 1 tsp of vanilla, fresh thyme and chopped pecans. Let the pecans caramelize for about 5 minutes.

Take your puff pastry out of the freezer and spread your goat cheese mixture evenly inside the score lines. In one layer line your apples. Then pour your pecan mixture over top. Melt one more tbsp of butter and one more tbsp of honey together and pour over the entire tart. Lightly beat your egg and wash the border of your tart with it. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.