Sharing the love of food and trying new recipes...

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Intense dark chocolate Brownies


People who like chocolate tend to love good Brownies. And I love Brownies, in every way and with any and all garniture. But I especially like rich dark Brownies with walnuts. I tried many different recipes and many different chocolates, with different amounts of sugar and flour as well. In the end I went with this basic recipe and chose to use only 100% cocoa chocolate for a deeper and more intense chocolate taste.

Try it it's easy, quick and delicious. After baking and cooling, I cut the brownies in squares

Recipe for a 23x30 cm pan (9x13 in)

200 g pure unsweetened chocolate (100% cocoa)*
200 g melted butter
4.5 dl sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3.5 dl flour
2.5 dl chopped walnuts (150-200 g)


Melt chocolate and butter in a water bath. Beat eggs and sugar until foamy and whitish, add vanilla extract. Mix in melted chocolate and butter. Finally add flour and mix. Add 3/4 of chopped walnuts to batter and mix. Transfer to greased + floured pan (or lined with parchment paper) and sprinkle remaining chopped walnuts. Bake 25-30 min at 175 C.

*I have also tried the same recipe with 160 g chocolate (100% cocoa) and 40 g chocolate (70% cocoa), it is still as chocolaty but maybe a bit less rich: in case you'd prefer that option, lower the sugar amount to 3.5 dl or so since there is sugar in the 70% cocoa chocolate
**You can easily refrigerate or freeze down these brownies for quite some time if you'd like to enjoy them at a later time

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

American-style Apple Pie

Last weekend was Thanksgiving (even in Switzerland when you have American colleagues) and I was invited to a wonderful Oklahoma-style Thanksgiving dinner, which included turkey, (amazing) corn bread, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, and many many other delicacies. Scott also made pumpkin pies and pecan pies so I brought an apple pie.

I had never made an American-style apple pie so that required some researching and thinking: which apples, which filling, and most (esthetically) important full cover or lattice top? I find Golden apples bake well and have a great taste and texture in cakes. For the filling, I went for a classical sugar-butter-flour filling with cinnamon, butter and a touch of nutmeg. Finally, I chose to do a lattice-top pie because it looks so much better, but is also more work, so you can skip that step if you'd like.

From scratch it took me 4 hrs to make this wonderful apple pie. If you prepare the dough the day before, you can easily save 1.5 hrs. In any case, I advise you to prepare it only a few hours before serving so that it is still lukewarm when you serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream :-)

Apple pie recipe (23 cm or 9 inch pan)

Pâte brisée (shortcrust dough):
320 g flour
1.5 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
185 g cold butter
1.3 dl cold water

1.5 kg peeled, cored, thinly sliced apples (approx. 6 apples)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1.2 dl sugar
0.6 dl brown sugar
3 tbsp (30 g) flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg

1-2 tbsp butter
some milk
some sugar

First prepare the dough (you can prepare it the day before if you want to save time the day of baking). Mix flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Cut up butter in chunks and add to flour. Mix with your hands to make crumbs. Add water and mix fast with a wooden spoon into a dough. Divide the dough into 2 flat disks, wrap in plastic film and refrigerate 2 hours. I had about 660 g dough and made a 340 g disk for the bottom and a 320 g disk for the top of the pie.

Prepare your apples: peel, core, and slice them thinly (approx. 1.4-1.5 kg of prepared apples). Add lemon juice and toss in a bowl. Mix filling ingredients and add to apples, toss making sure every slice is coated with the filling. Set aside for 30 min or so (some juice will come out allowing you to pack more apples in your pie).

Take out the bigger dough disk and roll it out on a floured table to a 3-4mm thick and wider-than-your-form disk: you have 1-2 cm dough extra from the edge of the pie form. Transfer the dough to a buttered and floured pie form, prick it, and refrigerate while preparing the next steps (I put it in the freezer at -4 C to make sure the dough doesn't shrink but I wouldn't do it if you have a colder freezer).

Roll out the 2nd dough ball to a disk (again bigger than your pie form) on your floured table. Slice it into 12 2.5cm-wide stripes. Fill your pie form with your apple mix (don't transfer the juice), pack your apples tightly and form a dome (apples will shrink while baking). Sprinkle the apples with some butter. Transfer your dough stripes to the apple pie making a lattice (place your stripes 2cm appart). Trim the extra length of the stripes and connect the stripes to the edges of the pie. Paint the stripes with milk and sprinkle sugar on the stripes (you can be generous here).

Bake the pie 10 min at 210 C, then another 1hr10 at 175 C (until golden and apples are soft). Serve lukewarm with some vanilla ice-cream.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pumpkin muffins with oats and cranberries

You must have noticed by now that I like pumpkin and love pumpkin desserts (cake, bread, pie). Because I always make such big batches of fresh pumpkin purée, I constantly search and think of new pumpkin-based desserts to bake.

This time I made pumpkin muffins filled with oats and cranberries, and covered with cinnamon and pumpkin seeds. These muffins are great for breakfast and can be easily frozen down and thawed at a later time. Oats make muffins less cake-like and you can easily replace white flour with wholewheat flour if you prefer a "healthier" muffin. Cranberries make an interesting, slightly acidic contrast with the pumpkin and pumpkin seeds (or pepitas) add a crunchy side to these pumpkin muffins. Try them, I love them as snack!

Recipe for about 16 muffins:

Wet ingredients
1 egg, beaten
1.2 dl milk
4 dl fresh pumpkin purée
100 g butter, melted
1.5 tsp vanilla extract

Dry ingredients
1.2 dl brown sugar
5 dl flour
2 dl oats
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
a pinch of cloves
a pinch of nutmeg
a pinch of ginger
1/2 tsp salt
2.5 dl cranberries

1 dl roasted+chopped pumpkin seeds
0.6 dl brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix wet ingredients. In a separate bowl mix dry ingredients and add cranberries once mixed. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix only until incorporated. Line a muffin pan with muffin paper forms and fill them with dough to 3/4 of volume.
Mix ingredients for topping and sprinkle on top of muffins. Bake approx. 20 min at 190C (until toothpick comes out clean).

Monday, November 17, 2014

Classic pumpkin bread

After looking for it for a month now, I finally found the pumpkin (courge musquée) I would bake and use this Fall. I baked it in the oven and made fresh pumpkin purée with it to use as base for my pastries and soup. I made a classic Pumpkin Bread (could easily be classified as cake) that was moist and spiced with ginger and cinnamon, spices I love in Fall/Winter cakes. Once you have the pumpkin purée at hand, it takes less than 10 min to prepare the cake (sorry bread) so don't be afraid of trying this recipe even if you think you're not good at baking, you can't fail it.

If you like pumpkin based desserts, I suggest you check out my Pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting and Pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, they are both delicious. Enjoy!

Recipe for a 28cm long pumpkin bread:

1.2 dl canola oil / melted butter (I do half butter half oil)
2 eggs, beaten
2.5 dl fresh pumpkin purée
2 tsp molasses
0.5 dl water
3.6 dl flour
2.4 dl sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix wet ingredients (butter, eggs, pumpkin purée, molasses and water) in another bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until barely incorporated. Transfer to a greased and floured cake pan. Bake at 180C for about 60 min (start checking at 50min, a toothpick should come out clean).

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Maple pecan pie

In a month it's Thanksgiving which means turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie and also Maple Pecan Pie, which is what today's post is about. It is a dessert many Europeans do not know about and a typical dessert in North America composed of (guess what?) pecan nuts and maple syrup and that people eat all year round but also for Thanksgiving.

For this recipe I used a pâte sablée (sweet shortcrust dough made with an egg) but you can also use a harder pâte brisée (same but with water) or sweeter pâte sucrée (different method with creamed butter and more sugar) as you prefer. Also I used rum but you can use Bourbon or nothing at all. This recipe was adapted from a 9-inch pan recipe (23 cm diameter) so I reduced everything by 1/3 but you can easily make a bigger pie if you have more guests! Enjoy :-)

Recipe for a 20cm tart form:

1.6 dl maple syrup
0.8 dl brown sugar
0.5 tbsp rum
3 tbsp melted butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2.4 dl pecan nuts

pâte sablée:
125 g cold butter
3 tbsp powder sugar
250 g flour
1 beaten egg
1.5 tbsp milk

Prepare the dough (pâte sablée first). Mix sugar and flour first, then mix with cold butter by hand making crumbs.  Add the beaten egg and milk and mix until forming a ball. Refrigerate for 1 hour at least.

Roll out 3/4 of the dough on a floured table (approx 4 mm-thick) and transfer to a buttered + floured pie form. Prick the dough with a fork and pre-bake 8-10 min at 175C.

Mix maple syrup, sugar, rum, butter, eggs and vanilla in a bowl. Add 1.6 dl lightly crushed/grossly chopped pecans to the batter and transfer it to the pre-baked pie crust. Decorate with the remaining whole pecan nuts. Bake in the oven at 175 C for about 40 min.