Speculaas Spice Company and was keen to try it out. It's based on the vanDotsch family's secret recipe and only some of the spices are revealed in the ingredients. Speculaas is a Dutch spice mix dating from the 17th Century when Holland was sailing the Seven Seas in search of exotic spices. Today the spice mix has been mostly standardised and is best known for its use in Speculaas biscuits. This mix consists of nine spices including Sri Lankan cinnamon, cloves and ginger. The overwhelming aroma emanating from the opened packet was of cloves and cinnamon - a heady mix indeed. But other less obvious scents were there too. On trying the spice, we all had a go at guessing what the secret ingredients might be. My aunt was convinced it contained black pepper, CT was pretty sure nutmeg was in it and I thought I could taste allspice. It certainly has a hint of a kick to it and is full of flavour. The company tries to source its spices at as high a grade as possible and to ensure that they are pure with no additives of any kind. They are also mostly organic, fairtrade or both.
Mortimer. These are not cocoa powder, but ground up chocolate. Well, what a very good idea I thought; no need to faff around melting chocolate and creating extra washing up for baking purposes now - the chocolate can be added directly into the mix. And this has proved to be the case. You wouldn't know from eating the cakes I've made that the traditional method had not been used. Finer than grated chocolate and similar to cocoa powder, it gets completely incorporated into the baking mix. I did try melting the white couverture powder in these burnt butter cupcakes and it melted almost instantaneously.
|Two continents, two colours, two tastes|
Described as flavour 4 intense, this tastes less sweet than the West African, but surprisingly less bitter too. In hot chocolate form it was also less sweet as well as being more refreshing and robust. I have heard that Ecuador is the home of the best quality cacao and this is reflected, we think, in our perceptions here. The recipe suggestion was for sumptuous chocolate sauce.
Pure Dark Chocolate Powder (70%): West African
Described as flavour 2 mellow, we found this had a fruiter and sweeter smell and tasted slightly of cardamom. In hot chocolate form it also came across as fruity with notes of coconut and was slightly sweeter than the Ecuador. The recipe suggestion was for gorgeous chocolate brownies.
Everyone enjoyed the cake and my cousin was delighted with his welcome back vegan bake. We all thought it was strong on flavour and not too sweet - the way things should be.
- 200g (7oz) flour (half wholemeal spelt, half white)
- 1 rounded tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 heaped tsp speculaas spice (or mixed spice)
- 60g 70% dark chocolate powder (not cocoa)
- 130g dark brown sugar
- 1 large banana
- 50ml sunflower oil
- 1 tbsp vinegar (I used cider vinegar)
- 150ml water
- 20g coconut oil
- 25g 70% dark chocolate powder (or finely grated chocolate)
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
1. Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Stir in the chocolate and make a well in the centre.2. Mash the banana up with the sugar, then beat in the oil. Pour gradually into the dry ingredients, mixing from the centre outwards.3. Add the water and vinegar and mix until just incorporated.4. Scrape into a 21cm round cake mould or lined tin and bake at 180C for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for a ten minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.5. Melt the coconut and chocolate in a pan over a low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the maple syrup until smooth. Pour over the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Scatter over some grated dark chocolate if desired.
DetailsPrep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8-10 servings