Tag Archives: Baking

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!

Spring cupcakes: coconut all the way!

These cupcakes have a funny story behind them. A story staring my wonderful dog Yoda.
My husbands works weekends every other week and that’s why except from cleaning the house and doing the laundry Saturday is my cooking and experimenting day.
As some of you know I am a pagan and ostara is a holiday I celebrate on the 20th march and on Easter my (catholic) family always has a brunch. This year I organise the brunch. So I tried to combine the two into these lovely spring cupcakes. They are perfect for Ostara and they are a wonderful try out for my Easter Brunch.
Anyway I spend the afternoon decorating my cupcakes with wonderful mascarpone frosting in lovely spring colour and even lovelier sugar sheep, little chocolate eggs and little chickens. I must say they look so cute and delicious. I was a proud cook!
I decorated my cupcakes on a plate and placed it in the middle of our table.
When my hubby got home we left the room for a little while and when we got back… well… lets say there was not a lot of cupcake left.

Our dog however sat in the very corner of the living room with a little green face from all the frosting. He was surrounded by half eaten cupcakes.
Frosting was spread all over the floor.
Of course I was a little angry. Not only because he ruined my lovely cupcakes, but also because I was a little scared for his health. It cant be good for a dog to eat that much sugar. I was very relieved to see he did not eat the chocolate eggs!
No need to say we had a bouncing dog the rest of the evening from his sugar rush. The next day we had a blast when we saw his *** was green. It may sound very childish, but Michael and I laughed so hard when we saw how lightning green it was.
That same day Michael helped me make another batch of these wonderful cupcakes. Not as pretty decorated as the other batch (cause I ran out of decorating stuff). But I must say, these cupcakes are delicious. They are in my top 10 of favourite cake stuff ever! So If you try one thing this weekend, for crying out loud, let it be these cupcakes!

INGREDIENTS FOR THE CUPCAKES
175 grams all purpose flour
60 grams of grounded coconut
2 teaspoon of baking powder
¼ teaspoon of salt
113 grams unsalted butter
200 grams of sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon of vanilla essence
120 ml coconut milk

INGREDIENTS FOR THE FROSTING

250 grams of sugar
90 grams of unsalted butter
220 grams of mascarpone
food colouring (I used pink, green and yellow)

The butter you use for the cupcakes and the frosting should be at room temperature.
Add the butter to the food processor (or use a hand mixer) to beat it until it is creamy and a little bit fluffy.
Now add the sugar and mix it till all is combined.

Now splits the eggs. Keep the egg whites apart and mix in the egg yolks.
Add the vanilla essence and mix again.
Now add the flour, the salt and the baking powder to the mixer.
Mix for a couple of minutes and then add the coconut milk.
When all is combined you can add the grounded coconut and mix it one last time.

You should get a creamy mixture with a lovely smell!
Now beat the egg whites until they get lovely tops that resemble the snow covered Alps.
Now using a wooden spoon fold in the beaten egg white with the batter.
Now fill your cupcake forms with the batter in place in a preheated oven on 175 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes.

In the meanwhile we can make the incredible tasty but very easy topping.
Just mix the butter with the sugar till you get a nice creamy paste.
Then using a wooden spoon add the mascarpone cheese and mix well.
Divide this mixture into 3 different plates and add a little bit of colour.

Let the cupcakes cool down and then start decorating!

Apple frangipane raisin tart

One of my favourite desserts is apple strudel with vanilla ice-cream and some whipped cream. You can wake me up for that at night!
Another thing I completely adore is frangipane. Here in Belgium we buy “koffiekoeken” at the baker store. Koffiekoeken are sweet buns filled with all kind of stuff… chocolate, pudding, raisins and of course frangipane.
So why not bring all those good things together I thought and I made this incredible apple frangipane raisin tart.
It felt a little decadent eating this luscious dessert on a lazy Sunday afternoon for no specific reasons what so ever.
The only thing I have to say in my defence is that the combo is so great you are doing yourself wrong not baking one of these!
The buttery sweetness of the pastry, the crispness of the apples, the wonderful smell of the frangipane and that accompanied with the creamy cold of the vanilla ice-cream…. I think I am going to bake myself another one right now!

INGREDIENTS FOR THE PASTRY:
200 grams of all purpose flour
½ teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of sugar
100 grams of unsalted butter
30 ml of ice water

INGREDIENTS FOR THE FRANGIPANE:
125 grams of sugar
125 grams of unsalted butter
2 large eggs
125 grams almond flour
35 grams of all purpose flour
½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
The pastry I used for this pie is called a pate brisee or short crust pastry. Its one of the easiest pastries to make and so easy to roll out on a lightly floured surface!
Just whisk in a food processor the flour, salt and sugar together. Then add the putter and combine this till you get a coarse dough. Now slowly add the cold water (and it is very important that this is cold water!). The dough should turn into a pastry that holds together and is firm when you touch it.
Take the pastry out of your food processor and cover it with some plastic foil. Now pop it into the fridge for about an hour so the butter can firm up again and the gluten in the flour can work their magic!

INGREDIENTS FOR THE PIE
3 to 4 large apples
30 grams sugar
20 grams melted unsalted butter
handful of raisins

After an hour, remove the dough from the fridge and place on a lightly flour surface. Roll the pastry out into a circle or square (depending on the tart form you use) and place it carefully in a tart form.
 
Now it is time to make the frangipane. Add to a bowl sugar and butter and cream this with a mixer. You want to make this look like a pomade. Then add the eggs and the vanilla and whisk together with the butter untile it forms the mixture becomes smooth and silky. Now it is time to poor in the almond flour and beat the mixture until it forms a smooth paste.
Throw in the raisons and whisk them under the paste. Now spread the frangipane evenly over the tart crust, but stay about 5 centimetres away from the border.

Peel the apples, core them and slice them into pieces from around 1 cm. Arrange the apple slices evenly over the frangipane – raisin layer in a spiral form. Again stay away from the border of the pastry. Now brush the apples and the crust with the melted butter and dust some sugar over it.

Bake the tart for about 25 up till 40 minutes in a preheated oven at 180°. The apples should be soft, but not mushy and the crust must be golden brown with the sugar caramelised on top of it.

I let the pie cool a little bit and served it with a vanilla ice cream and some whipped cream.

Sunday breakfast: buttermilk pancakes

On weekdays we both eat breakfast at our jobs. We take some corn flakes or bread with us and eat it between phone calls and paperwork.
But on Sunday we make time for our breakfast. There is even coffee and fresh orange juice for crying out loud!
Anyway I try to make Sunday breakfast a little special.
A little treat at the end of a hard week and the only breakfast we get to spend as a real family.
This week I made buttermilk pancakes.
Pancakes are my favourite breakfast next to bacon…. bacon and pancakes together are breakfast heaven as the matter of fact.<
The husband however wasn’t all to happy about my pancakes. “When do I get those thick, fluffy American pancakes I see on TV” he asked.
And I must admit in Belgium we don’t have thick, fluffy pancakes. We eat crepes, thin, large pancakes.
So I decided  to give it a try with a recipe I have been holding for years now in my recipe box. I only replaced the milk with buttermilk, that was a left over.
And it was delicious, the buttermilk made the pancake extra fluffy and gave it some extra taste.

INGREDIENTS FOR BUTTERMILK PANCAKES

130 grams of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
A pinch of salt
30 grams sugar
1 large egg
240 ml buttermilk
40 grams unsalted melted butter
raisins
vegetable oil
topping: I used maple syrup, but you can serve it with whatever you like.

Mix the flour, the baking powder, the sugar and the salt together in a food processor.
Whisk in a small bowl the egg, the buttermilk and the melted butter together.
Now add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir it till everything combines.
Don’t worry if your batter has little lumps in it. Its because of the buttermilk, but when you bake the pancakes the lumps will disappear.

I divided the batter into two batches and added some dried raisins to one of the batches.

Now heat a little vegetable oil into a non sticking pan and let it heat gently.
Now add tablespoons of batter to the hot pan. One tablespoon should be enough for one round, fluffy pancake!
I baked them 4 pancakes at a time but all depends on how large your pan is. Just make sure the pancakes can’t touch each other!
When the surface of the pancakes starts to bubble you can turn the pancakes around. The bottom of the pancakes should be hazelnut brown. Let the pancake bake for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Place the pancakes on a platter and serve them like I did with some maple syrup.
The earthy sweetness of the syrup is delicious with the sour touch of the buttermilk.