You can surely impress your guests with these rich chocolate cookies or maybe you can just use this recipe for a last minute gift for your neighbors… The crunchy outside is coupled with the melt-in-your-mouth soft inside and is elevated to another level with the espresso flavor. Enjoy!
Makes 16 cookies
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tsp instant espresso
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet baking chocolate
1 Tbsp milk
1/2 cup powdered sugar, for coating
Start melting the chocolate. I used a double boiler.
In a larger bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, espresso, baking powder and salt. Make sure you use some kind of a sifter, tea strainer as the powdered sugar and the cocoa powder need to be without knots. Set aside.
In a seperate bowl, cream the butter with the brown sugar. Add the egg and mix until incorpoated.
Mix in the melted chocolate and the milk.
Add the flour mixture from earlier until you get a ball shaped dough. Put in a plastic bag and place in the freezer for 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Butter a cookie sheet. Form 2 inch balls.
Pour 1/2 cup of powdered sugar in a medium sized bowl. In batches, roll the balls in the sugar and let the balls sit for a minute in the sugar. Repeat one more time.
Place the balls about 1 inches apart on the cookie sheet.
Bake for 12-14 minutes. They should be soft but not fall apart. Let the cookies stay on the baking sheet for 5 minutes to cool.
Transfer them on a wire rack for 15 minutes. They will harden.
Meringue cookies have been one of my favorite Holiday desserts since my childhood … maybe because I don’t care much for the heavier desserts that much but still enjoy a bit of sweetness during Christmas time. These beautiful cookies are delicious and airy with just the right amount of texture with the nuts and the almond essence. They would be a great gift for those friends and family members who like something sweet with a little bit of crunchiness or eat gluten free foods. Of course, this is a great recipe to have on hand so you can use up all those left over egg whites. Enjoy!
(makes about 2-3 dozens)
4 egg whites, room temperature
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup of granulated sugar (regular sugar pulsed for about 10 seconds in a food processor)
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup of finally chopped walnuts or pecans or almonds
1/4 tsp cream of tatar
Preheat oven to 225 degrees.
Line a baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a larger sized bowl, on medium high speed quickly beat (few minutes) the egg whites until they are frothy but not hard. Do not over beat.
Add the sugar gradually on high speed. It is important to add the sugar 1 Tbsp at a time to make sure they get incorporated nicely. I had a family member who did this. On a low setting beat in the vanilla, cream of tartar, almond extract and salt. Gently fold in the nuts with a spatula.
Drop a tablespoon-full of the eggwhite mixture onto the parchment paper lined cookie sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. I used a piping bag with a large nozzle to get a more uniform shapes.
Bake for 50-60 minutes. Cookies should not be damp. Leave them in the oven for another hour while the oven is cooling.
Winter has finally arrived in the Midwest of the United State … and it looks like it is here to stay after all the crazyness of this year. We had snow in September and in October … and had 80 degree weather inbetween. I am definitely ready!
December brings forth Winter Wonderland and the Holidays. When I think of Christmas dishes, warming and festive winter foods come to my mind. For me Christmas is a lot about cooking and baking … and of course music. I’m already looking forward to all the baking and cooking I will be doing and singing along my favorite Christmas music…
Please read my previous blogs from last year on winter eating and tasty dishes and desserts.
This is my husband’s favorite cake that his mom made for his birthday every year. The recipe comes from his family, even his grandmother made it and it is now my favorite cake, too. When I talked to my husband’s cousins, they all raved about this cake, the Poppy seed cake … it was so funny to hear. No surprise they all think it is the best cake on Earth … it is moist, crunchy and delicious …
This cake takes some time and patience to make but is not too difficult. Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature, it should be around 70F. The recipe has three parts: the dough, the vanilla creme (creme patisserie) and the chocolate ganache. Please read the following notes on how to make the cake.
The dough requires sifted flour. Sifting flour is an easy process, cooks generally use a flour sifter. If you don’t have one no worries, you can use a strainer or a wire wisk. The idea is to get air into the flour. Then once sifted, measure out the 2 cups and return the extra flour into the flour bin.
You need a 9″ round cake form. For a long time I only had one cake form and I was fine. I just had to wait until the form cooled off after baking the first batch. I ended up buying a second one a few years ago. It is nice to have two but you can get by with only one.
The vanilla creme is pretty straight forward. I used a double boiler to cook the ingredients. If you don’t have a double boiler, you can use a metal bowl that fits on the top of the bottom pot securely but does not touch the bottom of the pot.
The chocolate ganacche is what brings all the ingredients, the cake together. It should be made a little softer than it is generally made for cakes … should stick to the surface but does not have to be hard. Also, the sweetness of the chocolate is a personal preference. I like the sweet chocolate personally but you can use whatever you prefer, of course.
Makes about 10 slices
2/3 cup whole poppyseed
1 cup milk, divided
12 Tbsp butter
1/2 -1 cup of sugar (to taste)
2 cups of SIFTED flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
4 egg whites (save 3 yolks for creme)
1 cup milk
3 egg yolk (saved from earlier step)
3 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp flour
1 tsp vanilla
12 oz baking chocolate (I used semi-sweet)
1/2 cup heavy cream
Please check notes above for more info on how to make this cake.
Making the dough
Preheat oven to 350F.
Have all ingredients at room tepmerature (70F).
Soak the poppy seed in 3/4 cup milk for 2 hours.
Cream butter with sugar. Set aside.
The amount of flour used is for sifted flour. Sift flour, baking powder, salt.
Add poppy seed mixture, butter/sugar mixture, vanilla and the remaining 1/4 cup of milk to the flour gradually. Do not overmix. Set aside.
Beat the four egg whites on high speed untill stiff.
Gently fold egg whites into the dough.
Seperate dough between two seperate greased and floured 9″ cake forms.
Try to make sure the top is flat.
Bake for 20-30 minutes or until an inserted tooth pick comes out clean.
Making the vanilla patisserie
In a double boiler, bring milk to a boil over medium heat.
Meanwhile, wisk the three egg yolks, sugar together. Add flour, mix. Add warm milk gradually and mix.
Pour mixture back into the double boiler pot and cook over high heat. Wisk continuously for about 5 minutes or until mixture thickens.
Take off heat and add vanilla.
Let it cool.
Making the chocolate ganacche
You can use the clean double boiler here again. Melt the chocolate and add the heavy cream. Mix.
Assembling the cake
Place the vanilla creme in-between the two cake layers. (Use the ‘prettier’ cake for your top layer). Make sure vanilla creme is cooled off. Spread chocolate ganacche on the top.
These sweet potato muffins are lovely autumn muffins! They are packed with nutritious ingredients of the season and get their special flavor from the spices: cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, mace and cloves. enjoy!
2 cups/240 gr of whole wheat flour (white flour is fine too)
2 tsp pumkin pie spice ( China cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, mace and cloves)
1 stick (8 Tbsp) of butter (115g) at room temperature
1 cup of sweet potato, mashed (1 medium sized sweet potato)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup of raisins or dried cranberries (optional)
3/4 cup of nuts, coarsley chopped (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 375F.
Take butter out of fridge.
Bake the sweet potatoes.
Sift flour, pumkin spice, baking powder, baking soda, salt in a mixing bowl. Add the nuts, raisins or cranberries. Set aside.
In a seperate bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the lightly beaten eggs, vanilla, butter milk and the sweet potatoes. Mix.
Quickly mix everything together. Do not overbeat. You can sprinkle sugar and nuts on the top if you wish.
Lightly oil a muffin tin. Evenly distribute the dough between the 12 muffin cups.
Bake for 25-30 minutes. The muffins are ready when a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.
I like challenges … well ok sometimes it is a bit uncomfortable … but then I end up with something delicious like the dish I’m presenting here today.
The savory stuffing made with cabbage, mushrooms and lentils is wrapped in a flakey strudel dough and is seasoned with the warming spices of the season. To make it even more festive, serve it with port sauce and brussel sprouts with chestnuts.
I was looking for a vegetarian Christmas dish… seriously, traditionally would there be such a thing? … I have seen mushroom strudel served in the winter before but did not find it filling enough as a main dish. Then came the idea … maybe because I was craving cabbage strudel the whole fall … to make the strudel with half mushrooms and half cabbage … then added the lentils and the cheese in place of the meat and a few spices and … this festive dish was born. Cabbage is a staple vegetable for the winter and has been traditionally paired with mushrooms. My non-vegetarian guests really enjoyed a slice with their meat dish. Of course, the vegetarians were asking for seconds.
5-7 sheets of filo dough
1/4 cup chopped shallots
4-8 oz mushrooms (crimini) (chopped into small pieces)
2-4 oz of savoy cabbage (I prefer savoy but green cabbage is fine)
1 celery stalk
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp paprika
1/4 cup uncooked lentils (1/2 cup of cooked lentils)
Take filo dough out of the freezer. Let it thaw slowly.
Clean and soak the lentils for a few hours. Cook lentils.
Chop up the shallots and the celery and sauté them in some oil for 5- 10 minutes. Set aside.
Chop up and sauté the mushrooms in some oil for 10 more minutes or until the mushrooms are tender. Add to previous mixture.
Start slicing the cabbage up and cut them up into small pieces. Discard the lager veins of the cabbage so you are left with the tender leaves only. Sautee the cabbage leaves for about 10 minutes. Add paprika and the garlic to activate for 1 minute, stir and add the cold stock. Add chopped thyme leaves, nutmeg and chopped rosemary leaves. Cook the mixture for about 10 minutes on low heat. Add to the onion mixture from earlier.
Chop up the nuts. I leave the hazelnuts chunkier. The walnuts are coarsely chopped. A small food processor can be used. Add to previous onion mixture.
In a medium sized bowl, add 1 lightly beaten egg, mustard, the nuts, the cooked lentils, mushroom/ cabbage mixture from above, cheese, salt and pepper. Mix well.
Let the stuffing cool, refrigerate for about 1 hour.
Take 7 sheets of filo dough and set it on a wooden board. I like to put a piece of parchment paper below the filo dough, it is helpful for rolling. Drizzle some oil and grade some nutmeg. Spread the filling evenly on the sheet leaving 1 inch on each side empty. Roll it up. Placed it in an oiled baking dish.
Lightly beat 1 egg, add some freshly graded nutmeg and salt. Spread it on top of the rolled strudel. Wait for 5-10 minutes until egg wash is absorbed. Apply the egg-wash again. The 1 egg should cover the strudel both times. You can sprinkle additional salt and nutmeg on the top. This will make the crust really tasty.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes or until top is nice and brown.
Put left-over filo dough if there is any left in the fridge gently wrapped up in plastic bags so the leaves don’t dry out.
Serve hot with the port sauce (see below) and brussel sprouts with chestnuts. I also like to add cranberry sauce (recipe).
Directions for the port sauce
In a small pot, sautee the shallots in some oil or butter. Add the flour for 1 min, stir. Add the garlic, stir for 30 seconds.
Add the wine and stock. Stir.
Add the thyme and rosemary springs. Cover the pot.
Cook for about 20 minutes.
Take out the bay leaves, thyme and rosemary springs.
Take off the heat, add the cream, salt and pepper.
Serve right away. Can be stored in the fridge for many days.
This is a soft buttery sweet bread to help us bring back the sweet memories of the people who cannot be with us anymore. It is traditionally made in Mexico for the Day of the Dead celebration. It is flavored with orange zest or anise seeds and brushed with a glaze and sprinkled with sugar. The preparation depends on the region as everybody has their own recipe. This recipe is from the Mexico City region.
Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead is a celebration in Mexico between October 31st and November 2nd. During this time period, Mexicans remember their ancestors who have past away. It is not a scary, spooky time but rather a joyous, spiritual time. People go to the cemetaries, to the altars of their deceased friends and relatives. They also lavishly decorate an altar in their homes with candles and memories.
This celebration’s roots are in the Prehispanic times. Native Americans celebrated this time period because they belive that our ancestors’ spirits return to Earth to be with us during this time period. After the Catholic Spanards arrived, they had combined this tradition with their own celebration, All Sain’t Day and this unique holiday that the Mexicans celebrate today was born.
As I have mentioned before, it is a festive, spiritual celebration. There is music, candles and special foods served. One food they serve is a special bread called Pan de Muerto. It is given as an offering to the ancestors’ spirits and has special meanings. While the exact meaning is not known, it is believed that the crosses on the top represent the bones. The circular shape in the middle could be a tear dropp, or a skull or the heart.
Traditionally, they always use oranges to make the bread and anise seeds are sometimes added too. I don’t have oranges so I ended up using almond extract and anise seeds. I belive they worked nicely here and the anise seeds are used traditionally anyway.
For another Halloween treat for this special time please try my Barmbrack bread recipe from last year (source).
4 oz butter (110g) at room temperature
3/4 cup of sugar + more for the top
1/2 tsp salt
5 cups of flour + more for kneeding the dough
4 eggs + 1 egg for the top (room temperature)
1 1/4 cup warm milk
2 pkg dried yeast or 5 tsp
zest and juice of 2 oranges
2 Tbsp vanilla or almond extract
1 Tbsp anise seeds
For clarification, please view the video provided at the end of the blog.
–Makes 2 loaves
Preheat oven to 350F.
Prepare the yeast. Add the yeast to warm milk (104-108F). Cover. It is ready when the yeast comes up. Set aside.
Mix the butter, sugar, salt and 1/2 cup of flour. Set aside.
Mix eggs, 1/2 cup flour, orange zest and juice or almond extract and anise seeds.
Combine all above ingredients plus 1/2 cup of flour.
Slowly add the rest of the flour 1 cup at a time and mix untill all ingredients are incorpoated.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.
Cover it with a clean, damp cloth for 90 miutes.
Seperate about 1/4 of the dough and use it to make the decorations for the top. These are the bone shapes to drape across the top and the balls to place them in the middle.
Divide the rest of the dough into two ball shaped loaves and place them on lightly oiled cookie sheets.
I divide this 1/4 piece from the original dough into 6 parts, four for the bone shaped decorations and two for the middle part.
For the bone shaped decoration, shape the dough into a flat-bottomed semi-sphere. Position them on top of the bread and press lightly down to make sure they adhere. Put the little balls in the middle to connect the bones.
Let the assembled loaves rest for 1 hour.
Spread lightly beaten eggs and sugar on the surface of the loaves.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
When cool, glaze the loaves with melted butter and sprinkle on some sugar.
Here is an old time favorite of mine … It was getting colder here so I thought it would be time to prepare for the winter. I enjoy eating garlic during the colder months, it is very healthy but I can live without that harsh taste. Pickling the garlic keeps all its health benefits but the garlic loses its strong taste. So this week, I would like to post a recipe for pickling garlic, the Chinese way. It is so easy to make and it is so delicious … but yes it will take 12 weeks to make…
In the recipe, proportions are given. The amount will depend on how much garlic you use. I used 4 heads of garlic. You can figure out the liquids after you put the garlic in the jar. Add the peeled garlic, enough to fill about 3/4 of the jar. Mix the 2 liquids, about half the soy sauce and half the rice vinegar and pour over the garlic. Make sure the liquid covers the garlic.
You will also need a jar. I like to use a wide mouth jar so I can take the garlic out easily. Also, I sterilize the jar before putting anything in it.
Jar of garlic, peeled
1/2 part soy sauce
1/2 part rice vinegar
1/2 part honey
Please see above for directions.
Peel the garlic. When you peel the garlic, make sure you do it gently and not cut the garlic. If you do, not a big deal, just the cloves will be a little unappealing but still edible.
Fill the jar 3/4 full with the peeled garlic.
Pour the vinegar/soy sauce mixture over the garlic and let it macarate for 6 weeks. Make sure the garlic is well covered with the liquid.
Then after 6 weeks remove the vinegar/soy sauce mixture and discard half of it. Replace it with honey. Pour this liquid back in the jar. You can gently warm up the honey so it can be mixed with the macerate.
Wait for six more weeks and then the pickled garlic is ready.
This tasty dessert will satisfy your autumn sweet tooth any time. They are simple, puffy and delicious. No need to buy puff pastry from the store, you can make the buttery, flaky puff pastry with the three simple main ingredients: butter, cream cheese and flour. There is something about simple, delicious dishes that are just that … simple and delicious… and this dish is surely just that… My recipe came from this blog (source).
1-2 apples, firmer baking apples (I used 2 cortland)
1 pkg cream cheese (220 gr)
2 sticks of butter (220 gr)
1 1/3 cups flour (220 gr)
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp apple pie spice or cinnamon
1/2 cup powdered sugar
handful of chopped nuts
Have all ingredients at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Combine the cream cheese, butter, flour, salt and sugar. Put the dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Take the cold dough out of the fridge, cut it in half. Put one half back in the fridge to keep it cold while you are working with the other half of the dough..
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin about 2-3mm thick. Cut out round shapes with a cookie cutter. My cookie cutter is 2 1/2 inches in diameter but you can use whatever size you have. Cut the circles big enough so they can fit the apple slices or vice versa cut your apples so they can fit in the circle.
Place the apple slices on half of the cut out shapes and fold the other half of the circle over the apple slice. Put the prepared pieces on the preoiled cookie sheet.
Bake for 18-20 minutes in the preheated oven.
Repeat with the other half of the dough.
Make the sugar coating. Add 1 tsp apple pie spice or cinnamon to the 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. Put the apple turnovers into a bigger bowl and toss them with the sugar/cinnamon mixture. I did this when they were still warm. I found that when done while hot, the sugar sticks better but please feel free to experiement.
This morning I was craving something delicious made with apples … most likely because yesterday we went out to an orchard to pick some apples and of course we have a lot of apples now. Then I remembered I could easily make Dutch baby and put apples in it. Dutch baby is made with three basic ingredients: milk, eggs and flour and seasoned with vanilla and apple spice. I also added apples to satisfy our autumn cravings. Watch it poof up in the oven and wow your friends and family with this tasty filling breakfast. I served it with caramel sauce that further please those ‘autumnish’ cravings … Oh and I still have raspberries growing in my back yard so I had to use some.
Serves 4 people
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole milk milk
5 eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tbsp butter, divided
1 tsp apple cinnamon spice
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp sugar
1-2 apples peeled, cored and sliced (sour, baking apples are the best)
nuts for serving
You will need a 10″ (2 inch deep) oven proof skillet or soemthing similar in size to bake this dish.
Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Mix flour, milk, eggs, salt, vanilla, 2 Tbsp melted butter, sugar, apple spice until no lumps remain. You can use an electric beater on high speed for 1 minute but it can easily done by hand too. Let it rest for 1 hour if possible. It can be made the day before and stored in the fridge, just let it warm up to room temperature.
Meanwhile gently warm up a little butter in a pan. Caramelize the apple slices on both sides. Set aside.
When dough is ready, heat up skillet and put in the butter, caramelized apple slices and pour the batter in.
Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the top is nice and golden brown. The pancake will be puffy but will settle after 5-10 minutes.
Serve with powdered sugar, ground walnuts, caramel sauce and fruits – of course all optional.