If you’re a sweet tooth or a chocoholic or both then chances are high that you indulge in the fudgy comfort of brownies frequently.

When I was approached by a client to make desserts for 50 guests at her birthday party,I had grandiose ideas. The party held at a trendy art gallery and she wanted something that was “arty” and “architectural”. I was buzzing with excitement at the prospects until I was brought crashing down to earth when I was informed that
A. There would be limited access to refrigeration; in fact there was no fridge at the facility just a poky freezer.
B. During the event I would be located in an adjoining room, which would not be air conditioned, and
C. The budget was not unlimited; I hastily cancelled my order for edible gold leaf! Yikes!

This left me in a quandary because I had to figure out how to prepare a beautiful dessert that would not perish in the Lagos warmth and humidity and one that did not rely on refrigeration.

Then it hit me! Brownies! Of course! I quickly decided to incorporate flavours and textures that would complement one another, look beautiful and create a wow factor. This is how I ended up with my gourmet brownies served with raspberry coulis, orange syrup, cream cheese frosting, dankwa and sugar caramel.

The prep work was insane but the results and reactions made it all worth it.

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Here’s a quick guide if you would like to attempt this delightful dessert.

Ingredients for brownies.
1/2 cup butter (113 grams)
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

The “How To”
Preheat oven to 175 degrees C and then grease and flour an 8-inch square pan.

In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan; be sure to use a spatula to even it out in the pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook; what you are looking to achieve is a cakey exterior with a moist fudgy interior.

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I find that it is always better to slice the brownies in your desired portion size when it’s still hot then allow to cool completely before taking it out of the pan.

Ingredients for the raspberry coulis
250 grams fresh or frozen raspberries
1 tbs icing sugar
Juice from 1/2 lemon

The “How To”

This recipe is dead easy and works well with any soft fruit you can find.

Place all the ingredients in pan and cook until the fruit breaks down.

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The transfer the contents to a blender or food processor and blitz until you get smooth consistency.

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The sieve the sauce to get rid of the seeds. You should have a beautiful glossy ruby sauce that is sweet with a touch of tartness.

Ingredients for the orange syrup.

4 oranges
2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cups water

The “How To”

Wash the oranges thoroughly and slice them.

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Place all the ingredients in a thick bottomed pot and cook until the oranges are translucent and a thick syrup has developed.

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Carefully take out the orange slices (which may be used as a garnish) and allow the syrup to cool; it will get thicker as it cools.

Sugar caramel is essential granulated sugar that has been melted down. Until is molten and golden brown. Pour it into a greased heat proof container and let it set. Then shatter it and use the shards.

Note: molten caramelised sugar is extremely hot and must never be handled with bare hands!

The major prep work is complete and now you are ready to plate! Simply spread cream cheese frosting on the brownies (I used store bought this time) top with dankwa and sprig of mint accompanied by the raspberry coulis and orange syrup.

For more about dankwa, please read this post.

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The dessert was well received; the guests were delighted and surprised which was great for me.

A massive shout out to the best sister in the world; Moe – she hot footed it down to the party to help me amidst the sea of brownies and cream cheese frosting.

Don’t you just hate walking past a dessert display longing to plunge in head first but you can’t because you are either lactose intolerant or can’t take gluten or diabetic or just on a diet….sigh…..does it ever end? I have marvelous news for you; there is hope and it is called “Coconut citrus cream cake”.
By now you know that I am a recipe trawler and I found this fascinating recipe that truly seemed too good to be true. I took a quick stock of my supplies and realised that I had all the ingredients to hand even the odd sounding agave nectar.
In case you are wondering how I got hold of agave nectar in Lagos, I must quickly point out that it was given to me by my best friend. She has undergone a total life style change and diet overhaul which means no sugar, gluten or dairy consumption. You would think that her life would be dull and dreary but no it isn’t! Because of her I am now aware of a whole new realm of foods that include quinoa, agave and almond flour. She is a nut for almonds by the way; just in case you were curious…….anyway I digress……
The original recipe called for just lime and is in fact a coconut lime cream cake. I took one look at it gave it my own twist and ended up with something quite marvelous. Instead of a pistachio crust I used dankuwa or dankwa and almonds.
Dankuwa is peanut based snack from North Nigeria; it is spicy and sweet and invokes memories from my childhood; It is a real treat.

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I also took the liberty of using lemons, oranges as well as limes for a zesty zingy kick to this dessert.
Ingredients
Crust:
1/2 cup flaked almonds
6 balls dankuwa or dankwa
2 Tbsp Agave Nectar
pinch of salt
Filling:
1 can coconut milk, chilled overnight (you could also use coconut cream if available)
1 avocado
6 Tbsp Agave Nectar
2 tbs lime juice
2 tbs orange juice
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp coconut extract
Zest of 1/2 lime
Zest of 1/3 orange
Zest of 1/3 lemon
Topping
1 can coconut milk, chilled overnight (you could also use coconut cream if available)
The “How – to”
Mix the crust ingredients (dankuwa, almonds, agave, and salt) in a food processor until the mixture holds together. Divide evenly between the muffin pans. Press the mixture firmly with your fingers or the back of a spoon into the bottom of the pan, set aside and commence making the filling.
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In a food processor combine the rest of the ingredients. You only want to use the fatty, cream part of the coconut milk or coconut cream which, if chilled the night before, will be nicely separated to the top of the can and will scoop out easily. Mix ingredients until well combined and evenly distribute the batter into the tart shells almost to the top (leave at least half an inch) and place in freezer.

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To make the topping use your second can of coconut milk the same way as the first, scooping out only the solids. whisk with hand mixer until it resembles whipped cream; it will firm very soft peaks but won’t hold it’s shape. I sweetened the coconut whipped cream a little with 1 tbsp agave nectar.
Pull cream cakes out of the freezer and create a smooth top with coconut whipped cream. Place back in freezer and allow to set up for at least 2 hours. The longer it stays in the freezer the better.
When you ready to serve remove from the freezer and take cream cakes out of pans. If they are frozen solid they should ease out fairly easily with some gentle teasing from a knife. Be careful that the base doesn’t separate from the creamy center and top.

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Let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving. And you should have a delicious treat with varying citrus notes that will delight your palette.

Don’t you just hate walking past a dessert display longing to plunge in head first but you can’t because you are either lactose intolerant or can’t take gluten or diabetic or just on a diet….sigh…..does it ever end? I have marvelous news for you; there is hope and it is called “Coconut citrus cream cake”.

By now you know that I am a recipe trawler and I found this fascinating recipe that truly seemed too good to be true. I took a quick stock of my supplies and realised that I had all the ingredients to hand even the odd sounding agave nectar.

In case you are wondering how I got hold of agave nectar in Lagos, I must quickly point out that it was given to me by my best friend. She has undergone a total life style change and diet overhaul which means no sugar, gluten or dairy consumption. You would think that her life would be dull and dreary but no it isn’t! Because of her I am now aware of a whole new realm of foods that include quinoa, agave and almond flour. She is a nut for almonds by the way; just in case you were curious…….anyway I digress……

The original recipe called for just lime and is in fact a coconut lime cream cake. I took one look at it gave it my own twist and ended up with something quite marvelous. Instead of a pistachio crust I used dankuwa or dankwa and almonds.

Dankuwa is peanut based snack from North Nigeria; it is spicy and sweet and invokes memories from my childhood; It is a real treat.

20140718-230820-83300018.jpg

I also took the liberty of using lemons, oranges as well as limes for a zesty zingy kick to this dessert.

Ingredients
Crust:
1/2 cup flaked almonds
6 balls dankuwa or dankwa
2 Tbsp Agave Nectar
pinch of salt
Filling:
1 can coconut milk, chilled overnight (you could also use coconut cream if available)
1 avocado
6 Tbsp Agave Nectar
2 tbs lime juice
2 tbs orange juice
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp coconut extract
Zest of 1/2 lime
Zest of 1/3 orange
Zest of 1/3 lemon
Topping
1 can coconut milk, chilled overnight (you could also use coconut cream if available)

The “How – to”

Mix the crust ingredients (dankuwa, almonds, agave, and salt) in a food processor until the mixture holds together. Divide evenly between the muffin pans. Press the mixture firmly with your fingers or the back of a spoon into the bottom of the pan, set aside and commence making the filling.

20140718-224342-81822983.jpg

In a food processor combine the rest of the ingredients. You only want to use the fatty, cream part of the coconut milk or coconut cream which, if chilled the night before, will be nicely separated to the top of the can and will scoop out easily. Mix ingredients until well combined and evenly distribute the batter into the tart shells almost to the top (leave at least half an inch) and place in freezer.

20140718-225109-82269159.jpg

To make the topping use your second can of coconut milk the same way as the first, scooping out only the solids. whisk with hand mixer until it resembles whipped cream; it will firm very soft peaks but won’t hold it’s shape. I sweetened the coconut whipped cream a little with 1 tbsp agave nectar.

Pull cream cakes out of the freezer and create a smooth top with coconut whipped cream. Place back in freezer and allow to set up for at least 2 hours. The longer it stays in the freezer the better.

When you ready to serve remove from the freezer and take cream cakes out of pans. If they are frozen solid they should ease out fairly easily with some gentle teasing from a knife. Be careful that the base doesn’t separate from the creamy center and top.

20140718-225906-82746803.jpg

Let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving. And you should have a delicious treat with varying citrus notes that will delight your palette.