Archives for the month of: March, 2016

This post is a good two months overdue, which is crazy considering how much I love these two things!

I’ve made chocolate torte a few times now. Traditionally a type of layer cake with minimal flour, it’s a winner when you get it just right.

The basis of this torte is butter, chocolate and eggs. That’s it.

The tricksy bit is in the making and baking of. Overbaking the batter is fine, you will just end up with drier and more cake-y torte. Erring the other way is actually better. Underbake it a little and… oh my, it is beautifully dense and moist (yes) after warming it up a little the next day. I don’t care if it’s meant to be eaten warmed up or not, that’s the way I want it.

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Heated torte with cream cheese frosting!

Optional, and highly recommended, toppings include a simple cream cheese frosting, chocolate ganache for even more chocolate, or even just whipped cream with strawberries.

The mother of all partners for a warm bite of torte is, however, a fresh batch of cold, rich, creamy ice cream! Yes please!

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Freshly made ice cream with a hot piece of torte in the middle! Life is peaking.

My sister has an ice cream maker, which is a dangerously awesome kitchen appliance to have standing around. We’ve been making mostly vanilla ice cream (it’s fantastic), but we decided to go for broke and try adding green tea after receiving a giant bag as a gift.

And, green tea ice cream is amazing! The flavour isn’t overpowering at all, it blends just right with the mixture of creamy vanilla. And it definitely makes a great partner with dark, dark chocolate.

Real ice cream is very energy dense, so humble portions are the order of the day:

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Yum and yummo.

 

Okay, recipes!


Chocolate torte

*Recipe adapted from here, credit where credit is very much due.

  • 200g dark chocolate (preferably 85% + cocoa)
  • 200g butter  (can also experiment with coconut oil)
  • 5 large eggs
  • erythritol to taste (I add about 3 tablespoons, not more, but I like bitterness. I also cannot stand the aftertaste of stevia, so use it if you prefer it!)
  1.  Brown butter in a saucepan.
  2. Once the butter is nice and brown, add the chocolate in pieces and melt slowly. Don’t burn anything.
  3. Add sweetener to taste.
  4. Turn off heat, pour the mixture into a bowl and let it cool in the fridge for a little while or until your patience runs out.
  5. Preheat oven to 180 celsius.
  6. Whisk in one egg at a time. Keep an eye on how the texture is changing as each egg is whisked in! It’s pretty cool to watch.
  7. Pour into a pan (recommended size is roughly 20x20cm). The larger the pan, the thinner the batter will be and the shorter the baking time. For a smaller pan and thicker batter, try baking a little longer.
  8. Bake for around 20min. *This is where experiment helps. If it is very underbaked (i.e. very jiggly like unset jelly), bake for another 2 minutes at a time. I recommend baking it until it still jiggles a little. If it is completely firm, the cake will end up a little drier, but it’s not a disaster at all! If it’s too dry, just add some good cream cheese frosting!
  9.  Eat now, OR keep in fridge. Warm up a piece in the microwave (gasp) for about 20 seconds the next day. 

Cream cheese frosting

  • 100g butter
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 2-3 tablespoons cream or almond milk
  • erythritol/sweetener to taste
  1.  Brown the butter.
  2. Add cream cheese and melt.
  3. Add cream/almond milk and sweetener to taste.
  4.  Mix everything well until smooth, let it cool for at least two hours. Spread on torte OR, if you are going to heat up the torte in the future, spread on after heating.

 

Ice Cream

Real, real ice cream!

We play around with the recipe, but we’ve decided that for now we like a very rich ratio of 3 large egg yolks per 1 cup of heavy creamAdd some vanilla and erythritol (we like about 3 tablespoons in a full batch of ice cream with 6+ eggs) for a good vanilla base.

(And now you see why good ice cream really should be a treat: it’s very energy dense, quite a bit of effort if made properly, and not at all cheap to make tons of.)

We, um, operate a bit on the sacrilegious side of life here: we don’t cook the egg custard like you are traditionally meant to. Yikes. I recommend that you do, as you want to make sure you don’t end up with some funky Salmonella inside of you: FDA recommendation. Or you can just use already pasteurised eggs.

Once you have your (preferably cooked and bug-free) custard, put it in the ice cream maker and follow the instructions.

Usually you need to place the finished ice cream in the freezer for another twenty minutes or so until it is a little more firm, but, sometimes you just cannot wait that long:

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Green tea ice cream! With bonus torte floater.


 

Edit: shucks, forgot to add a photo of the green tea we got! A lovely gift from really great neighbours. I have no idea what it says on the packet (I hope not: “do not use in ice cream”), but we love it:

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A Canadian senate committee has just released a new report, along with some very nice summaries for public consumption, on obesity in Canada and what to do about it.

Why is this report a little less depressing than other governmental reports from around the world? It is pushing research, and therefore funding, into areas that are difficult to fund without government support.
And the people involved have the guts to call their current guidelines dated, which, to me, is a euphemism for just a little bit incorrect:
Canada’s dated food guide is no longer effective in providing nutritional guidance to Canadians. Fruit juice, for instance, is presented as a healthy item when it is little more than a soft drink without the bubbles.

Recommendations

I wanted to list a bunch of the recommendations, but I’ll stick to two…
Get a strong group of scientists to ask challenging research questions across disciplines, not just nutritionists:

Recommendation 7

The committee further recommends that the Minister of Health revise the food guide on the guidance of an advisory body which:

  • Comprises experts in relevant areas of study, including but not limited to nutrition, medicine, metabolism, biochemistry, and biology; 
The second-to-last recommendation sums it up nicely. I quite like that this paragraph does not keep hammering on about poor diet and obesity, but rather poor diet and chronic disease. This is where society’s money and people’s quality of life goes down the drain, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Recommendation 20

The committee therefore recommends that Health Canada design and implement a public awareness campaign on healthy eating based on tested, simple messaging. These messages should relate to, but not be limited to:

  • Most of the healthiest food doesn’t require a label;
  • Meal preparation and enjoyment;
  • Reduced consumption of processed foods; and,
  • The link between poor diet and chronic disease.

 

Report links

The report summary is very user-friendly and includes:

 

Of course, you can also read the whole report (pdf warning, 56 pages) if brevity is not your thing.

Here is the full text of a pilot study on the effects of an oral contraceptive on a group of obese women, some with PCOS and the rest (the control group) without.

The researchers were specifically looking at what happens to the level of insulin resistance/sensitivity to these women when they start taking a particular oral contraceptive.

From the discussion:

After 3 months of OC use, we found significant worsening of glucose tolerance (AUC glucose) in PCOS women compared to control women. There was no significant difference between the two groups in other metabolic parameters at the end of 3 months.

While the glucose tolerance seem to worsen for the PCOS group, the measured level of insulin resistance did not. However, insulin sensitivity did worsen for the women in the control group:

Hence, it appears that when insulin sensitivity is already profoundly reduced at baseline, as in the case of the combination of both PCOS and obesity, the effect of OCs in further reducing insulin sensitivity may not be evident. This may explain why only control women, but not PCOS women, experienced a significant increase in fasting insulin, and worsening of insulin sensitivity after 3 months of OC when compared to baseline.

The full paper is available online, so please have a look at it yourself! It is a very small pilot study, but it is great news that all these factors are being studied.

It’s a big step in the right direction, especially when so many women (and men) have never heard of PCOS or thought twice about the possible metabolic effects of oral contraceptives.

(*Note: I haven’t had the time to look in-depth at the stats in the paper. I’m just so damn happy to see something like this which will hopefully get funding for a bigger, and scientifically rigorous, study.)