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

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Saffransbullar (Lussekatter) for Swedish Christmas time

Saffransbullar or lussekatter, literally translated mean saffron buns or lussi cats, are small soft buns made with saffron and raisins. In Sweden we eat them on Saint Lucy's day (December 13) and also for Christmas, and of course anytime before and after that. They're great in the afternoon for coffee/team time, but also for breakfast... and they're especially delicious straight out of the oven !!!

Recipe for 30-40 buns

200 g butter
5 dl milk
1 g saffron pistils
1 pack fresh yeast (40-50 g)
a pinch of salt
1.5 dl sugar
3 tbsp tepid water
2 eggs
16 dl flour
optional: 1.5 dl raisins
a few raisins**
1 egg

In a sauce pan melt butter, add milk and bring to 37 C (finger temperature).
In a mortar grind the saffron pistils with a cube of sugar. Add this to the butter-milk.
Break down yeast in a big bowl, add salt, sugar, and tepid water. Swirl gently to dissolve the yeast a bit. Add the 37C milk-saffron mix and both eggs, mix with a wooden spoon.
*if you want to add raisins to the dough do it with the flour
Add flour slowly bit by bit while mixing with your wooden spoon (save about 1 dl flour to work the dough later one). The dough should be sticky and start to detach from the bowl wall. Cover the dough with a cloth and let rise for 1.5 hours (I usually place the bowl in the oven to make sure the dough doesn't feel  draft or cold).

The dough should have at least doubled in volume (see pictures). Prick it 2-3 times with a wooden fork. Work the dough on a floured surface. Divide it into 2 parts, which you then divide into 4 parts each. Divide each of the 8 parts into 4 small dough bits, that you then roll and form into S shapes (see picture). Decorate each bun with 2 raisins and let them rise again for 10 min under a cloth. Paint each bun with lightly beaten egg. Bake in the oven 7-8 min at 260 C in the middle top area of the oven. Let the buns cool under a piece of cloth so that they don't dry.

**I soak my (very) dry raisins in (elderflower) syrup before using them so they're a bit more moist...

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Fondant chestnut-chocolate cake

In the Fall, I love to eat chestnuts: in soups (with butternut squash for example), roasted (heissi maroni), with meat (glazed chestnuts), and also in pastries and cakes. I find that chestnut and chocolate go really well together - actually my favorite crepe comes with chestnut cream, melted dark chocolate and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. So I decided to embark on a chocolate-chestnut cake and I topped it off with some melted dark chocolate... it was really good. The challenge is to hit the right balance between chestnuts and chocolate, you can of course adapt it according to your taste!

Recipe for the chestnut-chocolate cake

500 g chestnut purée (73% chestnut)
75 g dark chocolate (72% cocoa)
125 g flour
100 g sugar
4 eggs
155 g butter
1 tsp baking powder

In a bain-marie melt chocolate and butter together. Mix and add chestnut purée, mix.
In a bowl beat up eggs and sugar until whitish and foamy. Incorporate the chestnut chocolate mix. Add flour and baking powder, mix. Transfer to a greased and floured spring form (24 cm).
Bake 35-40 min at 180 C.
*Optional: top it off with some melted chocolate and whipped cream
Recipe for the chestnut-chocolate cake

500 g chestnut purée (73% chestnut)
75 g dark chocolate (72% cocoa)
125 g flour
100 g sugar
4 eggs
155 g butter
1 tsp baking powder

In a bain-marie melt chocolate and butter together. Mix and add chestnut purée, mix.
In a bowl beat up eggs and sugar until whitish and foamy. Incorporate the chestnut chocolate mix. Add flour and baking powder, mix. Transfer to a greased and floured spring form (24 cm).
Bake 35-40 min at 180 C.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Butternut squash cheesecake

I've had it on my to do list since a few years to try and make a pumpkin cheesecake: that's finally done! I love to eat pumpkin in the fall, especially in desserts. I've baked in the past pumpkin cake, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread... and I always used the "muscat" pumpkin, which is one of the common pumpkins you find in grocery stores and that is easy to cook and tastes very good.

This time I decided to change and use the butternut squash variety instead, which has a nuttier and sweeter taste than the muscat pumpkin. For this cheesecake, I used gingersnap cookies instead of the usual digestive biscuits or graham crackers and mixed them with pecan nuts. Adding some winter spices - like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves - to the butternut squash turned this cake into a wonderful matching of the base with the filling along the lines of sweet, nutty and spicy.

Try it out and let me know what you think!

Recipe: Butternut squash cheesecake (24 cm form)

350 g gingersnaps (or similar cookies), crushed
150 g melted butter
1.2 dl chopped pecan nuts

700 g cream cheese, at room T
2 tbsp cornflour
2.5 dl sugar
3 eggs
400 g (fresh) butternut squash purée*
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger

Mix crushed gingersnaps, melted butter and chopped pecan nuts in a bowl. Transfer to a 24 cm-springform. Flatten the dough on the bottom and on the sides of the form. Place in the fridge.

In a bowl beat cream cheese, sugar and cornflour until soft. Add eggs one by one, mixing in between each one of them. Add butternut squash purée and spices, mix. Transfer the batter onto the cake base, even out the surface.

Bake 15 min at 225 C. Then lower the temperature to 175 C and bake for another 55-60 min. Let the cake cool down at the room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight) before serving.

*Butternut squash purée:
Bake butternut squash in the oven on parchment paper until soft. Then peel it and mix it until obtaining a homogenous purée.
You can of course replace the butternut squash with a pumpkin!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Revisited Rhubarb Tiramisu with Amaretti

In the Spring and early Summer, my absolute favorite fruit is rhubarb. Every year I try to come up with or find new rhubarb recipes. A friend of mine mentioned making a tiramisu once with amaretti: I then thought the sweetness of amaretti could match and complement pretty well the sourness and tartness of rhubarb. I mixed and matched those two ingredients, turned the rhubarb into a compote, and added a nice "lighter" mascarpone cream (read fewer egg yolks, more egg whites).

The revisited rhubarb tiramisu with amaretti turned out to taste even better than expected! It's crunchy (you can add as much amaretti as you want actually, I like my dessert with quite a lot of it), a bit sour and bitter, sweet, and fluffy! This makes for an easy Spring or Summer dessert :-) And you can use the leftover rhubarb compote for breakfast with granola and eat the leftover mascarpone with amaretti alone. Any combo is good!

Recipe for 8 Rhubarb Tiramisu portions

Mascarpone cream:
500 g mascarpone (room T)
6 eggs (4 yolks, 6 whites)
4 tbsp sugar

Rhubarb compote:
500 g rhubarb
50 g sugar

200 g Amaretti biscuits

Wash and chop up rhubarb into 2 cm pieces. Place in a sauce pan with sugar, let it sit for about 20 min. Heat up and bring to a boil on mid-high heat, then let simmer until the rhubarb is soft and undone. Put aside and let cool down.

Separate egg yolks and egg whites in two different bowls.
Beat up the egg whites, put aside.
Beat up the egg yolks with sugar. Add mascarpone, beat until smooth. Carefully incorporate the egg whites with a spatula.

Roughly crush most of the amaretti biscuits (save a few whole ones).

In 8 transparent glasses / cups, layer rhubarb compote, amaretti (don't be shy with the amaretti here, your dessert needs to be crunchy too), mascarpone, amaretti, compote, amaretti, mascarpone, amaretti. Top it with a whole amaretti biscuit for decoration. Prepare right before serving.

Enjoy!!! (you may want to bring some extra amaretti to the table, they match rhubarb and mascarpone really well)... (and you may want to prepare some extra dessert too as it is so good :-p )

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Banoffee pie (banana+toffee+whipped cream+pecans cake)

My British friend and colleague told me that her sister's favorite birthday cake was Banoffee pie. Having never lived in the UK or read a British cookbook I asked her what that could be. Bananas, toffee (read gooey caramel), pecans, whipped cream... ok I was sold. She brought it to work one day and it tasted even better than it sounded.

I mixed and matched a few recipes I found online and made a banoffee pie for my guests last weekend. It actually requires no baking in the oven and no eggs like most cakes do: it's basically just chopping and mixing stuff, making caramel, layering and cooling down steps. You can make it ahead of time, I actually thought that the cake tasted even better half a day later :-)

Recipe for a banoffee pie (24 cm)

225 g digestive biscuits
100 g pecan nuts
125 g butter, melted

Toffee (caramel):
100 g butter
100 g sugar
400 g unsweetened condensed milk

3-4 ripe bananas
3 dl whipping cream
a few pecan nuts

*Pre-work suggestion: toast/roast your pecan nuts in a pan or in the oven before using them, they'll be more crunchy and the flavor is great.

Crush to crumbs the digestive biscuits in a bowl. Chop up the pecan nuts and add to the crushed biscuits. Add melted butter, mix and then transfer to a 24 cm spring form. Press the biscuits down with your hand or with a spoon and create a small edge too (so that the toffee does not flow out). Put the spring form with the biscuit base in the freezer.

In a pan, melt butter and sugar while stirring. When the sugar has dissolved in the butter, add the condensed milk. Bring to a boil (on medium heat) while stirring continuously. The toffee will thicken and darken and smell of caramel. When it has thickened, take it off the fire and let it cool down a bit. Spread the toffee on the frozen biscuit base and then refrigerate for 30 min or so.

Slice the bananas. Whip the cream. Place the bananas tightly in a circular fashion on the toffee base. Spread the whipped cream on top and decorate with pecan nuts. Refrigerate until serving.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Buttermilk pancakes with blueberries

Pancake stack #1
Pancake stack #2

Every Monday should start with pancakes for breakfast! That's what I thought this morning after I made my first batch of buttermilk pancakes.

Somehow I often get pancakes for breakfast or brunch when in the US but never thought of making them myself. This morning I had loads of blueberries and half a liter of buttermilk so I said, let's try! And I did not regret it :-)
The batter takes 5 min to prepare and each pancake stays in the pan for about 3-4 min... so it's pretty quick and it's a great way to start the day (provided you go spend those extra calories afterwards :-p ).

Blueberry buttermilk pancakes are a great classic with maple syrup and next time I'll make them with chocolate chips!

Recipe for 10 buttermilk pancakes

2 eggs, lightly beaten
4.8 dl buttermilk
4 tbsp melted butter
4.8 dl flour
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

blueberries or chocolate chips
lots of maple syrup
some butter

Mix wet ingredients in a bowl. In another bowl mix dry ingredients. Whisk both mixes together until barely incorporated (there will be small clumps).
Heat up a pan/griddle, brush some butter on it and pour about 1-1.2 dl of the batter onto the pan. If you wish to, add here blueberries or chocolate chips. Let it grill for about 1-2 min on medium heat (until the corners look cooked and bubbles pop on the pancake) and then flip, let grill for another 1-2 min until golden on both sides.
Serve as a stack of 3-4 pancakes with lots of maple syrup  and some (whipped) butter too. Enjoy ASAP (they're best straight from the pan and warm).

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Chocolate chip chocolate muffins

Two years ago I baked chocolate chip muffins but I thought they were not chocolaty enough. Now I tried and mixed different recipes, and this one is my favorite: chocolate dough with melted chocolate plus chocolate chips. They're perfect!

I suggest you don't bake them unless you are ready to eat them all... last Sunday I made just 6 of them, and they were gone within 20 min between my boyfriend and me. They're great for brunch, as a snack in the afternoon, and of course also for breakfast :-D

Recipe for 12 chocolate chip chocolate muffins

200 g dark chocolate (baking)
120 g butter
4 dl flour
1.2 dl brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1.8 dl buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
150 g chopped dark chocolate (or chips)

Melt chocolate (baking) and butter together in a saucepan or bain-marie.
In a bowl mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt. Add eggs, buttermilk, vanilla extract, mix. Add melted chocolate + butter, mix until incorporated.
Finally add your chocolate chips or roughly chopped chocolate (I keep a few out for the topping).
Divide the dough into 12 muffin tins, add some chocolate chips on top if you want.
Bake 20 min at 175 C. Enjoy warm or cold!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Carac (Swiss chocolate ganache tart)

Last week I cooked a typical Vaudois lunch for some of my colleagues: saucisse aux choux (pork and cabbage sausage), papet vaudois (a mix of leeks and potatoes cooked in the fat of the sausages), and as dessert "carac".

Carac is a Vaudois (form canton de Vaud in Switzerland) pastry composed of a shortcrust pie filled with a rich chocolate ganache (mix of chocolate and cream) and covered with a green sugar icing. The chocolate ganache melts in your mouth while you crunch on the pie crust and get some sweetness from the icing. You can easily change the color of the icing but green to yellow-green is the standard color for this dessert.

Recipe for 2 medium Caracs (about 21 cm in diameter)

Shortcrust dough
250 g flour
80 g sugar
2 pinches of salt
125 g butter
1 egg, mixed
2-3 tbsp milk

Chocolate ganache
400 g dark chocolate (70%)
5 dl cream (35%, liquid)

250 g powder sugar
2-3 drops food coloring (green or blue+yellow)
2-3 tbsp water

First prepare the dough. In a bowl mix flour, sugar, salt. Add butter, mix by hand making crumbs. Add egg and milk, mix fast into a dough. Make a disc, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 min.
Roll out the dough (about 4 mm thick) onto buttered + floured pie forms. Prick the dough with a fork. Bake 15 min at 200 C.

Chop up the chocolate and transfer to a bowl. Bring the cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate. Mix with a spoon until all chocolate is melted. Here you should have a nice and shiny mix (ganache). Let it cool down for about 10-15 min then transfer the ganache onto the tarts). Refrigerate for about 1 hr until the chocolate ganache has set.

Mix powder sugar, water and coloring in a bowl until obtaining a green (should be a green like grass not a dark one) thick mix. Don't add too much water else the icing will have a hard time setting). Cover the chocolate tarts with the green icing and let dry for about 1hr.

Add a disc of melted dark chocolate in the center of each tart: you could either melt 25 g chocolate alone, or add 1 tbsp powder sugar and a few drops water. You can also just put an already made disc of chocolate or a bean of coffee.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Chocolate-dippped hazelnut cookies

A colleague of mine brought for her birthday chocolate-dipped hazelnut cookies in the shape of triangles: they were soft, a bit crunchy, I loved them and the mix chocolate-hazelnut. She kindly shared her recipe with me and I adapted it a bit (some more chocolate and ground hazelnuts :-p ).

I also made the mistake of not letting the cookies cool down entirely before dipping them in chocolate: the first ones broke so I had to instead coat them with melted chocolate, which resulted in overall more chocolate. It tasted just as great but the cookies did look as elegant.

Enjoy and thank you Jenny!

Recipe for an oven-sized plate (about 40 cookies)

Base dough:
225 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
100 g sugar
1 pack vanilla sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp water
100 g butter (room T)

150 g butter
150 g sugar
2 packs vanilla sugar
3 tbsp water
200 g ground hazelnuts
100 g slivered or chopped hazelnuts

3 tbsp apricot jam
200 g dark chocolate

In a bowl mix all ingredients for the base dough into a homogenous dough. Roll it out onto an oven-sized plate (approx 40x30cm) lined with parchment paper.
Spread the apricot jam on the base dough.

In a saucepan put butter, sugar, vanilla sugar and water. Heat it up until the butter melts. Add hazelnuts, mix, and let it cool down. Spread the hazelnut mix on the dough.

Bake in the oven 25 min at 180 C.

Cut out triangles with about 8 cm sides (I make 8 cm squares and then cut them in two along the diagonal). Let the cookies cool down entirely (> 1 hr).
Dip both ends of the triangle in melted chocolate, let them dry, and enjoy.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Crostata (Italian jam tart)

It's been a while since I posted my last recipe: I moved (again) to a new city and had to find ingredients and arrange my kitchen and schedule to bake again :-)

So I'm back with a quick and easy recipe to start with: a crostata alla marmellata di albicocche, which is a typical Italian dry pie or tart with apricot jam. It's great for breakfast, as snack, and with coffee and tea in the afternoon. Plus you can keep it for a few days, it won't go bad or dry, as it is already dry!

Crostata (Italian jam tart)
recipe for a 23 cm tart pan

250 g flour
1 pinch salt
150 g butter
1 egg
100 g sugar
zest of 1 lemon
200-300 g apricot jam

In a bowl whisk egg, sugar and lemon zest together. In another one mix flour and salt, add butter, and mix by hand making making sure it is well mixed and crumbly. Make a hole in the middle and add the egg mix, mix fast into a dough. Flatten the dough a bit into a disk, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Butter and flour a tart pan. Roll out 3/4 of the dough into a disk, transfer it to the tart pan, and prick the bottom of the dough with a fork. Cover the dough with apricot jam. Fold out the remaining 1/4 dough, cut 1 cm-wide bands, and cover the tart with the dough bands making a criss-cross. Bake the tart 20-25 min at 200 C.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Candied oranges (oranges confites)

Candied oranges (oranges confites in French) are one of my favorite sweet snacks. I would eat them over the winter holidays with coffee and my favorite candied oranges are by far the ones from a chocolaterie in Lausanne (Blondel), that makes candied orange slices dipped in dark chocolate. They are too good!

Last week I was making an orange salad and thought I should do something with all the leftover orange skin. So I thought I should try to make candied oranges! The recipes requires nothing but orange skins and sugar and... a lot of time. Basically, you need to "blanch" the oranges three times and then cook them in sugar and water before letting them dry for a whole day. It takes time but it is worth it! You can store them for a while and they make for a great gift, so try them :-)
My boyfriend helped me with this recipe and they tasted great!

Recipe for candied oranges

5 oranges

Slice off the skin of oranges including the white part. Cut slices of about 1/2-1 cm in width.
Place your orange skins in a pot filled with cold water, bring to a boil, and when it boils, stop immediately. Rinse them in cold water.
Repeat this another two times (this procedure is called blanching).

Dry the orange skins a bit (with paper) and weigh them.
In a clean pot, place your orange skins and an equal amount (weight) of sugar. Cover with water to level (just about the height of the oranges).
Let simmer at low temperature for 20-30 min.

Let the orange skin slices dry for about 24hrs on a grid.
When dry (they have to be dry!), roll them in sugar. Store them in a closed container in the fridge.
If some water came out in the box, let them dry again for a few hours.

Enjoy them as is or dip them in dark chocolate before eating them :-)