Category Archives: Baking

The best cheesecake I ever had

I am not sure how to write this blog piece. Cause I think I could spend 24 hours thinking about it and still I would not be able to describe this cheesecake. Does it say enough when I tell you this cheesecake was eaten by the two of us in just one day? Although I bake regularly I mostly share it with friends and relatives, since I am not really a sweet toot myself. But this cheesecake was like kryptonite to me. This cheesecake was also the reason I bought BBC Good Food magazine for the first time ever. It cost me 11 euro’s but the cheesecake makes it the best spend 11 euro ever. Good food serves it with a nice summer berry mix… I don’t. The cake doesn’t need it. It’s a star all by itself. I honestly think it is even better without anything else on top of it! And yes I tried… I munched a part down with some strawberry sauce and I ate part just plain. Plain for the win!

 INGREDIËNTS

200 grams of shortbread cookies
50 grams melted butter
600 grams of soft cheese (I used Philadelphia)
200 grams of crème fraiche
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
175 grams of golden caster sugar
2 tablespoons of plain flour
2 eggs
 

 Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a loaf tin with baking parchment.

The recipe states that you need to tip the shortbread in a food processor. And I agree that it is the easiest way to crumble it down. But it isn’t the funnest way. I tipped my shortbread into a zip lock bag and bashed it down with a bottle. Yes I have a food processor, but bashing with a bottle is a lot more fun!

Add the melted butter and mix well. Then press the mix into the base of the loaf tin.

Beat the cheese, crème fraiche, vanilla and sugar until smooth, then mix in the flour and the eggs until smooth again.  Poor the mix into the tin and smooth the top with a knife. 
Bake the cake in the oven for 10 minutes, then turn down the heat to 120 degrees Celsius and bake for another 80 minutes. The cake is done when there is just s light wobble in the centre. Turn of the heat and let de cake cool completely in the oven.
Place it in the refrigerator to firm up.

Recipe from BBC Good Food Magazine August 2010

Almond mascarpone muffins with white chocolate chips

The husband has been working nightshifts the past couple of days and its been a real change in our family lives. He comes home at 7.30, hits the sacks and comes back to life around 3 in the afternoon. He insists on having diner with me at night so we still get to spend some quality time together. But that left me a little bit hanging on what to serve him for breakfast in the afternoon. We eat around 6 in the evening, so what could I give him when he gets up? The answer came to me in the most decadent muffins I ever made in my whole entire life. They combine so much lovely flavours that some people might state that it’s a little bit over the top. And to be honest… it is. But I am not apologizing for it! My hubby deserves something rich and sugary when he awakes in the afternoon. He has been making money for our little family and fighting his sleep (well the first few days he was. Now its getting better.) So honey, these ones are for you!

INGREDIENTS

 

125 grams cake flour
125 grams of soft butter
60 grams of almond flour
100 grams of white sugar
2 eggs
3 tablespoons of amaretto
65 grams of white chocolate chips
250 grams mascarpone

In a bowl stir together the flour with the almond flour and a pinch of salt.
Then mix together the soft butter with the white sugar until you get a creamy mixture.
Now add the eggs one by one and mix well.

Add the amaretto, the flour and the mascarpone and keep mixing till all is combined.
Then stir in the chocolate chips.

 Place some paper cups in your muffin pan and spoon in the batter. Bake to muffins for about 20 minutes in a hot oven at 200 degrees. Let them cool on a rack.

Dutch Boterkoek

Have I told you how I love the Netherlands? Well I do. At least once a month we drive up there to enjoy a day full of “gezelligheid”. When other people dream about a life in the hot sun of France, I dream of living in Bergen Op Zoom or Utrecht. I am not sure if there is anything I don’t like about the Netherlands. No wait there is. I don’t like their so called beer that tastes almost like lemonade. But that is kind of it. All the other things I like. Our monthly visit to Holland always ends with a visit to Albert Heijn where I can go wild and end op with a very high bill on groceries. One of the things I always buy is boterkoek.

Boterkoek is unique to the Netherlands. It’s a rich, buttery dense cake which is probably not good for your waist and heart considering the amount of butter that is used in it. But there is nothing like it in the world. Its not cake, its not a cookie, it certainly is not pie.  You should give it a go yourself, its quit an experience.
Like I told you I always buy boterkoek but it is finished fast in our house. So I was on making my own batch of it. From a Dutch friend I got a recipe her mother used to make and she made me promise I would only use really roomboter (creamy butter?) in the recipe. I crossed my heart and started baking! And you should too! Its such an easy recipe and for once we don’t have to think about our diets, right?

 INGREDIENTS
250 grams of all purpose flour
250 grams of roomboter (creamy butter)
250  grams of white castor sugar
8 grams (or one bag of vanilla sugar)
a pinch of salt
½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
some lemon zest
1 beaten egg

Put the flour, the butter, sugar, salt lemon zest and ¾ of the beaten egg into a bowl. Its important that the butter is at room temperature and that you slice it into thin piece. Now mix together using your hands. You hear me! No use of mixers or kitchen robots, just your hands! When the mixture becomes a (I must admit greasy) dough let it rest for 15 minutes in the refrigerator. In the mean while butter and flour you baking pan.

Now add the dough to the pan. This is a thick dough so you need to push it a little in its form.  Brush the rest of the beaten egg over the dough and decorate using a fork that you push gently into the dough make stripes.  Now bake the boterkoek in an oven at 200 degrees Celsius for about 25 minutes. The boterkoek should have a golden colour and feel a little soft when you touch it. Let the koek cool down completely before removing it from its form and slicing it into squares.

Peanut butter square brownies

This weekend I was looking for a package of cinnamon I remember recently buying in my local Moroccan grocery shop. I found it in the back of my cupboard together with a jar of peanut butter that was about to expire in two months. I think I must have bought the jar of peanut butter to make fresh peanut sauce about a year ago and now it was wasting away in a dark corner of my kitchen. The hubby and I don’t like peanut butter on our sandwiches so that was no option. But I felt like brownies and I had a recipe for Nutella marbling lying around in a kitchen drawer. Nutella and peanut butter… sounds a little bit decadent no? Well it was. It was also a very filling brownie, but also very rewarding. There is just something about the salty peanuts together with the creamy chocolate that made my heart beat a little faster.

 INGREDIENTS

6 tablespoons of unsalted, softened butter
280 grams of light brown sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
150 grams of peanut butter
2 eggs
100 grams of flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
¼ teaspoon of salt
80 grams milk chocolate
80 grams of nutella

 Preheat the oven at 180 degrees and line a brownie baking pan with baking paper.

 Take a large mixing bowl and beat the softened butter with the brown sugar into a creamy paste. Now add the vanilla and the peanut butter and mix until combined. Then add the eggs and beat just until everything is combined. Now fold in the baking powder and the salt, just make sure they are thoroughly  mixed in. Now add the flour and mingled it all very well. Now poor the batter into the brownie pan.

 Melt the chocolate au bain marie. When the chocolate is melted, whisk in the nutella till you get some kind of thick syrup. Now marble the peanut butter mixture with the chocolate syrup. The easiest way to do this is using a fork.

 Now place the brownie mixture into the hot oven and bake it for about 30 minutes.

Let the brownies completely cool down before you cut them into squares.

Daring bakers: Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake Pina Colada style

I was totally thrilled when I saw the new daring bakers challenge this month. Sunita from Sunita’s World – Life and food challenged us into making a Swiss Swirl Ice Cream cake. The moment I read the challenge it was about 25 degrees celcius in Belgium Perfect weather for ice cream and some baking. The day I actually made the cake it was about 35 degrees and I almost melted away in my kitchen. But it was worth it! Every drop of sweat, every hot breeze from my oven.. I forgot about it when I finally took a bite of the cake. It was divine, completely divine! One bite brought me into Ice Cream Cake heaven. I even forgot how scared I was about this recipe. I had nightmares about rolling a cake. Asleep I saw the cake fall into pieces when rolling. But this cake was so easy to make and I will certainly try it again.
Because of the tropical heat and the fact that summer holidays have started over here I made a Pina Colada version of the cake.
Like I mentioned in a previous blog post I am the proud owner of an ancient ice cream maker who I fell deeply in love with. I used my dearly beloved machine to make the creamy coconut ice cream and the pineapple sorbet, but don’t be afraid. You can make ice cream without a machine!

One last warning before digging into the mysteries of the Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake. don’t try to make this in one day. Its just to much. J It took me 3 days to complete the challenge. The first two days I made my ice cream. It could be done in one day though, but my machine was not cold enough to make two sets of ice cream. The third day I made the cake and assembled the who thing. On the fourth day I was in ice cream heaven.

 INGREDIENTS FOR THE SWISS ROLLS

6 medium sized eggs
225 grams caster sugar
45 grams all purpose flour
40 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
30 ml boiling water
30 ml rum essence
500 ml of whipping cream
70 grams caster sugar

INGREDIENTS FOR THE CREAMY COCONUT ICECREAM

3 dl coconut milk
4 egg yolks
75 grams of caster sugar
3 dl whipping cream

INGREDIENTS FOR THE PINEAPPLE SORBET

100 grams caster sugar
100 ml cold water
100 ml pineapple juice
250 grams pineapple

FOR THE SWISS ROLLS

Pre-heat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius. The recipe states that you should use 2 square baking pans from 11 inches by 9 inches each. I did not have that and I just used my regular round baking pans, what work pretty well, but I am convinced that square pans would make a better result. Brush whatever baking pan you are using with a little oil and line with greaseproof baking paper.

 In a large mixing bowl add the eggs and the sugar and beat till very thick. When you lift the beaters out of the mixture they should leave a trail for at least 10 seconds. I timed my beating and it took me about 12 minutes to get the right consistency.

 Now add the flour mixture in three batches while folding it gently in with a spatula.
Then fold in the boiling water!

 Now divide the mixture among the two baking pans and spread out evenly. (I had to use 3 baking pans to get the job done. If you don’t have that many baking pans, just let them cool down and bake a second batch in the same pan!)

Now place the pan in the centre of the pre-heated oven and bake if for about 10 minutes or till the centre is springy to the touch!

 Spread a clean kitchen towel on the counter and sprinkle it with a little caster sugar.
Now turn the baked cake on to the towel and peel away the baking paper. Trim any crisp edges. (If you use round forms like me, you could trim it into a square form like I did.)

Starting from one of the shorter sides, start to make a roll with the towel going inside. Place the roll an a rack, seam side down and let it cool down completely.
Keep repeating this for the next cakes.

Now for the filling! In a large bowl add the cream and the sugar and beat it till very thick and fluffy. Be careful don’t beat it into butter! Halfway trough the beating process add the rum essence.

Divide the cream mixture between the now completely cooled cakes.

Open the cake rolls and spread the cream mixture. Make sure it does not go right into the edges, cause it will poor out when you start rolling.

Roll the cakes up again, this time without the towel. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap and chill for about an hour in the fridge. This will firm them up and make the slicing a lot easier on you.

 Creamy Coconut Ice

In a large bowl add the sugar and the egg yolks and beat until they are doubled in size and all the sugar is evaporated in the mixture.
Now spoon under the coconut milk and the whipping cream.
Poor this mixture into the ice machine and let it “cream” for 25 to 30 minutes.
When done place the coconut ice cream for at least 5 hours in the freezer.
The downside on making ice cream yourself is that the ice cream is very rich and creamy, but also very soft. The problem is solved when you freeze the ice cream for at least 5 hours. Then the ice cream gets the hardness that store bought ice has.

Pineapple sorbet

In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, the pineapple juice and the water. Place the pan over a medium heat and sit constantly, till the sugar begins to melt into the water. Don’t let it boil, cause it will start to caramelize. When the sugar is totally melted into the water turn down the heat and let the syrup cool to room temperature.
In the mean while mix the pineapple with a blender into a puree.
When the syrup is cooled add the puree to the syrup and poor it into the ice cream machine. Let it cream for about 25 to 30 minutes. When done place the sorbet for at least 5 hours in the freeze.

 Assembly

Cut the Swiss rolls into equal slices (approximately 2 cm each)
Cover the bottom and sides of the bowl in which you are going to set the dessert with plastic wrap.
Arrenge two slices at the bottom of the pan, with their seam sides facing each other. Arrange the Swiss roll slices up the bowl with the seam sides facing away from the bottom, to cover the sides from the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till the slices are firm. (I froze them for about 1 hour)

 Take the creamy coconut ice cream out of the freezer and let it soften up a bit. Then take the bowl out of the freezer and remove the film cover and add the ice cream on top of the cake slices. Spread it out to cover the bottom and sides to the bowl. Cover again with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 1 hour.

In the original recipe you add to add a layer of fudge sauce between the two layers of ice cream. I left that part out, just because I thought that with the flavours I had chosen it was already rich enough.

 Take the pineapple sorbet out of the freezer and let it soften up a bit. Then take the bowl out of the freezer and remove the film cover. Then add the sorbet on top of the coconut ice cream. Spread it out evenly. Wrap again in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 8 hours.

Remove the plastic cover and place the serving plate on top of the bowl. Turn it upside down and remove the bowl and the plastic wrap. If the bowl does not come away easily, wipe the outsides of the bowl with a kitchen towel dampened with hot water.

Slice the cake with a hot knife and serve!

Fresh Vanilla Ice Cream goes Dame Blanche

The past few days, or is it turning weeks already its been pretty hot in Belgium. Tropical I would even dare to call it. Its so hot that we sleep with all the windows open and without sheets. We eat salads and things that don’t make me stand in the kitchen for longer then 15 minutes. My dearly beloved carnivore and husband even agrees to eat mozzarella with tomatoes for diner. That’s how hot it has been the past few days. And when its hot, I crave Ice cream. No wait, that is not entirely true. I crave Ice cream all year round, but on hot days I have an excuse to indulge myself in lots of ice cream. Midwinter people tend to look at me a little strange when I dive into the freezer and come out with a large bucket of ice cream.
When I was a little girl my mom bought an ice cream machine and made some mango sorbet. I was not very into mango at the time, so I just ate a little scoop and gave the rest to my father, who loved it so much that he brought heavy bags of mango home from work. It was actually the only ice cream my mom ever made and the ice cream machine disappeared onto a shell in the kitchen. But it was still in my mind and my love for ice cream made me ask my mom if I could adopt the ice cream maker. So that’s how I became the proud owner of a 15 year old ice cream machine! The hubby and I tried it out a couple of days ago with big eyes. Would it work? But never underestimate a old timer machine made in the 90’s, when machine where still strong and robust. The old lady made some damm fine ice cream! I can tell you, she wont be enjoying a peaceful retirement anytime some.

INGREDIENTS FOR THE VANILLE ICE CREAM

3 dl whole fat milk
4 egg yolks
75 grams of caster sugar
3 dl whipping cream

1 vanilla pod

 

INGREDIENTS FOR THE CHOCOLAT SAUCE

100 grams dark chocolate
20 grams butter
1 tablespoon of icing sugar
4 tablespoons of milk

In a large bowl add the sugar and the egg yolks and beat until they are doubled in size and all the sugar is evaporated in the mixture.
Now spoon under the whole fat milk and the whipping cream.
Poor this mixture into the ice machine and let it “cream” for 25 to 30 minutes.
When done place the ice cream for at least 5 hours in the freezer.
The downside on making ice cream yourself is that the ice cream is very rich and creamy, but also very soft. The problem is solved when you freeze the ice cream for at least 5 hours. Then the ice cream gets the hardness that store bought ice has.

In a small saucepan on a low heat melt the chocolate together with the butter. You could do this au bain marie, but sometimes I am just to impatient for that. I don’t like messing around with hundred pots and pan. So for me it works perfectly on a low fire while constantly stirring. When the chocolate has melted remove the sauce from the fire and stir in the icing sugar and the milk. Mix well and poor it over the vanilla ice cream. Top of with some freshly whipped cream and serve immediately.

Daring Baker: pavlova (with infused lavender mascarpone mousse)

Just back from vacation… there was a lot of cleaning up, washing and ironing to do before getting back to work and normal life. But there was also a Daring Baker challenge waiting for me, when I arrived back home. One I could not miss out of. One my husband would never forgive me if I missed out of it. Like I mentioned before on this blog Pavlova is my hubs specialty. So to be completely honest this is my husbands daring baker challenge.
He did all the handy work and I shouted instructions and mingled with the flavours.
And again I changed the challenge a lit bit… I cant seem to control myself…; Every single time a need to get of the wonderful road the challenge is giving me to do my own thing. But after a lovely holiday in France I just could not be bothered with chocolate and more chocolate. I really wanted to try out my newly bought lavender flowers and I thought they would go wonderful with our bottles of Montbazillac. So we left the chocolate for what it was and we made this incredible Pavlova. We also used another recipe for the basic pavlova. I really wanted a marshmallow inside and a crunchy snowwhite outside, so I used my cant fail recipe from Nigella Lawson. We served it on my birthday party and it was received with wildly enthusiastic cheers from our guests!

 INGREDIENTS

for the meringue base

 6 egg whites
300 grams caster sugar
1 teaspoon of vinegar (white that is!)
2 teaspoons of corn starch
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

 for the filling

 500 grams mascarpone
250 ml heavy cream
2 teaspoons of dried lavender blossoms (make sure these are blossoms you can eat. Not every lavender is meant for consumption!)
6 tablespoons of icing sugar
3 drops of food coloring

topping

strawberries (or any other fruit you like)
250 grams of white chocolate pearls
35 ml of montbazillac whine
1 teaspoon of lavenderblossem

 

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

 Add the egg whites to a large shallow bowl and beat the eggs on medium high speed until they hold soft peaks. Now start adding the sugar, a tablespoon at a time while constantly beating the eggs.
When the mixture is thick and glossy, you need to test if all the sugar is dissolved. You do this by taking a little bit of the batter between your fingers and rubbing it gently. Do you still feel some grains, then keep beating! The mixture is ready when it feels smooth like pomade.

Now sprinkle the vinegar, the cornstarch and the vanilla over the meringue and spoon it in with a wooden spoon.

Now line up a baking sheet with some parchment paper and draw a circle of about 18 cm on it.
Spread the meringue gently inside the circle, smoothing the edges and building the pie. Make sure that the edges of the meringue are slightly higher then the centre. Cause you want to fill that up with lovely mascarpone cream and fruits!

Place the meringue in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. The moment you place the meringue in the oven, you need to turn down the heat to 100°.
After 1 hour and 15 minutes dig in with a little fork or spoon to taste. (Don’t worry about that little Is the top deliciously crunchy? Is the interior thick and lush like marshmallow? Yes, then the meringue is ready! But don’t be to fast! Turn the oven off and let the meringue rest in the oven until it is completely cooled down!

Now for the cream filling… I made fresh mascarpone using a recipe we got from another daring baker challenge. It is lovely in every way, but a good store-bought version will work wonders to… so don’t worry if you don’t have the time to make the fresh cheese.

Whip the cream until soft peaks form and set it aside. Now add the mascarpone, the lavender blossoms and the icing sugar to a bowl and mix it will. I recommend you do not use a mixer for this, because it can ruin your mascarpone. Because of the high speed the creamy texture is broken down and the mascarpone becomes a bit runny.
Now add the whipped cream and the drops of food colouring. The food colouring is not necessary, but we loved that sweet pink cream on top of the heavenly with meringue. It made it all a little bit more sexy. J

Now for the sauce… just add the chocolate chips, the montbazillac and the lavender to a pot and place it on a medium low fire. Its important that the lavender gets some heat to infuse his flavour into the sauce. Its also important that the alcohol disappears from the sauce. And it is very important that the chocolate melts!

While waiting for that you can slices the strawberries, or any fruit you like, so that it is ready to serve.
When the chocolate has melted set it aside to cool down a little bit.

Now it is time to arrange the pie! Spoon the mascarpone mousse on top of the meringue and scatter the strawberries on top of it. Now drizzle the chocolate sauce all over the meringue.
Voila ready for serving!

I hope that Dawn of Doable and Delicious can forgive me the adaptation of her dessert. When I have more time and I am again in a chocolate mood I will defiantly give her chocolate pavlovas with chocolate mascarpone mousse a go!