Dec 22, 2008

Vanilla Crescents

Vanilla Crescents There is still time for more cookies, they taste awesome, and don’t require too much time from start to finish. These cookies are popular all over Europe, and are also known as vanilla kipfel. I remember them fondly, as they were always part of a Holiday menu when I was growing up. Thank you Bilja for sharing a recipe!

Vanilla Crescents

For the cookies:
170g butter
50g powdered sugar
70g blanched almond meal
270g flour
4 tsp vanilla sugar

For dusting:
150g powdered sugar
6 tsp vanilla sugar

Mix all ingredients until a dough is formed, much like shortbread cookie dough, kind of crumbly. Seal it in a piece of plastic wrap, and let sit in the refrigerator for an hour. Preheat oven to 350 F, form crescents out of dough, and bake them for about 10 minutes on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet . They should still remain white.

Forming crescents may be a bit challenging, but not to hard; if you go for the walnut meal, instead of almonds you will find it a bit easier because walnuts release more oil. Also, you can make it more like half moon shape, it's easier.
Cool them just a little bit before dusting them with powdered sugar mixed with vanilla sugar. Coat them all evenly on both sides. They are best when left at least overnight. The ones in a photo are with walnuts; alond ones are snowy white...

Dec 18, 2008

Lamingtons filled with vanilla custard

Lamingtons filled with vanilla custard

For the sponge cake:
3 eggs
15 Tbsp sugar
15 Tbsp oil
15 Tbsp milk
15 Tbsp flour
2 Tsp baking powder

For the vanilla custard, or pastry cream:
2 cups milk
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbsp corn starch
1 Tsp vanilla extract
You can also cook one of those powdered puddings, which is what I do, pretty much the same.

For the chocolate coating:
4 oz baking chocolate
1 ½ cups milk

Also needed:
100 g / about 4 oz sweetened desiccated coconut to roll them in

First make the pastry cream, to allow it to cool before you make the sponge cake. Mix yolks with sugar, then add corn starch, vanilla extract, and mix until smooth and silky. Bring milk to boil, then add the yolk mixture, reduce heat to low, and cook for few minutes, stirring until it thickens. Cool completely before using!

To make the sponge cake: Preheat oven to 375 F. Mix eggs with sugar until pale and creamy, add the rest of the ingredients in the order given. Pour into rectangular baking dish (9x13“), and bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, and the cake looks golden.

Cool completely, and cut into cubes, however big you like. Heat milk and chocolate, stirring constantly until chocolate is melted, and you get a creamy mixture. Start with 1/2 cup of milk, and add the rest gradually, because the need depends on chocolate you use, and you don't want it to be too runny. Allow it to cool so it’s easy to handle. Cut each sponge cube across the middle, and fill it with about a tablespoon of custard, coat it with chocolate on all sides, and then roll it into coconut. Lamingtons are best after you leave them rest for a while, and let those flavors marry each other.

Honey Cake

Honey Cake

This cake brings back so many memories of a happy childhood, the times when I could fly, I was a princess, and I could talk to animals!

I spent my summers in the beautiful piece of heaven on earth, my father’s birthplace, and I have always felt special just for being able to grow up there. I spent so much time in the outdoors which was studded with green fields scented with chamomile flowers, waterfalls, creeks, woods, and woodland creatures; that in a sense I felt like the nature raised me. My uncle had a lot of bees, thus a lot of honey, and my aunt would make this cake often, it was so delicious….had to go back, so here it is!

Honey cake - Medena pita

Cake layers:
150 g / 5 1/3 oz of vegetable shortening
150 g/ 5 1/3 oz of sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp of baking cocoa (optional)
3 Tbsp of honey
1 Tsp of baking soda
Mix all of the above and then add:
400 g/ 14 oz + 1 Tbsp of flour

You should get rather hard dough, mix it really well, and then divide into 2 or 3 balls, depending on the size of the pan. If you do 9x13”, then 3. Preheat oven to 355 F.
Roll out each layer into the size of a pan, and bake on the back of a large cookie sheet or a jelly roll pan (greased slightly with shortening), for about 10 minutes, it should still be sort of soft, and hard to deal with, so worth it though : )

Let it cool a bit, then transfer onto a kitchen towel (kind of slide it off), and repeat with other 2. When they cool completely they should be very hard, like cookies. That is how it’s supposed to be, the cream will make it soft overnight, and it will all get incorporated into soft, delicious bites.

For the cream:
500 ml/ about 17 fl oz of milk
2 Tbsp AP flour
2 Tbsp corn starch
2 tsp vanilla sugar or 1 tsp vanilla extract
250 g / 8 ¾ oz of butter or margarine, unsalted
200 g / about 7 oz powdered sugar (add or substract to please your sweet tooth)
1 Tbsp of spiced rum

Take some milk out of those 500 ml (like half a cup), and mix it with flour and corn starch until you have no lumps. Set the remainder of milk to boil with vanilla. When it boils, mix in the flour mixture and stir for a minute. Transfer to a mixing bowl, and cool, and then chill in the fridge until completely cooled.

Then mix in butter or margarine with powdered sugar, and add it to the cream, and mix until all well incorporated. You can also add a few tbsp of spiced rum, if you like.
Spread cream over first and second cake layer, evenly, and put the third on the top. Do this on a cookie sheet, or jelly roll pan. Then wrap it with foil or something, and put some weight on top, like baking pans, and let it sit overnight.

Next day, when it’s nice and soft, spread the chocolate ganache on top( you can do any ganache if you have one you already like), and cut into cubes when cooled.

For the ganache:
100 g / 3 1/3 oz baking chocolate and 100 ml / 3.4 fl oz of whipping cream. Heat whipping cream until it starts boiling, then add chopped up chocolate, and mix until smooth.

Dec 17, 2008

Peaches revisited

Peaches CookiesMy friend Biserka allowed me to publish this absolutely best recipe for these delicious, beautiful cookies. She makes them even prettier, and the look just depends on colors and amount of color you use.

I have tried so many recipes for these cookies, as I do have another recipe here on my blog,(for now you can use it to see the process) however now I stick to this one because the biscuit is so soft, and so “cake-like”, especially after you let them sit for a day or two in an airtight plastic bag. I am speechless, let me just tell you that I have made them 3 times in the past 10 days for my friends and family, and we just can’t get enough!!!
Thank you so much my friend!

Peaches Cookies
Peaches cookies

I’ll just write the recipe in metrics, and you can use online converters , but most scales have the option of measuring in grams, as most measuring cups have milliliter option too.

4 eggs
250 ml oil
250 g sugar (granulated
2 tsp of vanilla sugar, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder
4 Tbs flour
Later add:
500 g flour

First mix eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Add oil, and then add 4 tbsp flour, and baking powder, and mix well. Let it sit for 1 hour, and then mix in 500g flour. Do this with your hands, it’s quite sticky, but once you get it all mixed well, wash your hands, and you’ll find it rather easy to make little balls.

Preheat oven to 355 F, and make little balls size of a smaller walnut. Arrange on a baking sheet, about an inch apart, and bake for about 15-20 minutes, and they should still remain white.

Cool each batch, (I get about 4 cookie sheets out of this, you can double if you want more, but this is plenty), and core them on the bottom part, to make the room for the filling. Leave those crumbs you get from coring for the filling.
I then fill them with combination of Nutella, crumbs from the cookies, and ground walnuts. No measure, I just start by about a cup of Nutella, then I add just enough crumbs and ground walnuts to make nice filling that is not runny, but just perfect for sticking the cookies together.

You fill one cookie half, then connect with another, and you have a peach. To color them, I pour about half a cup of milk into two separate bowl, and add a drop or two of color red into one, and yellow into another. You dip them really quickly into each colored milk, so you don’t end up soaking them, and then you roll them in sugar. Once you are done with all it is best to place them in Ziploc bags, and keep them in there at least overnight. They get so soft, and melt in the mouth. Enjoy

I shall try to include recipe for her filling which is different, as soon as I get time…really busy now! I am sending these delicious peaches as my entry to Cookie Baking Event created by Sharmi of Neivedyam.

Dec 9, 2008

Bring on the cookies!

Jam filled shortbread cookiesThese cookies are best when you let them sit for few days in an airtight container, or a plastic bag. They get softer/chewier, and are sooooooo delicious! Don’t be afraid to put more jam than I did, it is sticky, but after they sit for 2 days the jam hardens, and you will regret you didn’t put more : )

Jam filled shortbread cookies

500 g flour
250 g sugar
300 g vegetable shortening
2 eggs
1 Tsp vanilla extract
2 Tsp baking powder
50 g dark chocolate, melted and cooled a bit
Raspberry jam for filling (or any other, but this one works the best)

Mix flour, vegetable shortening, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and baking powder, and work the dough for at least 7-8 minutes, to get it smooth and workable. Then divide into two, and add melted, slightly cooled chocolate to one half, and mix and incorporate it well.

Roll out each dough to a ¼ inch thickness, and cut out cookies with cookie cutters. Bake each batch for about 7-8 minutes or longer @ 375 F, just don’t over bake them, white ones should still remain fairly white. Once all are baked, sandwich them with jam. Use one chocolate cookie, one vanilla, and raspberry jam, about 1 ½ Tsp of jam for each. Don’t press too hard.

Store in an airtight container or Ziploc type bag for few days. You can also dip the edges in melted milk chocolate after they sat for few days, if it's too much work all at once :)

Jam filled shortbread cookiesTip: I would suggest making plain old round cookies as it is a bit challenging to lift them off the work surface and transfer to a cookie sheet in delicate shapes.

Dec 1, 2008

Apple Torte With Pine Nuts and Raisins

Apple Torte With Pine Nuts and RaisinsThis cake may be a little camera shy, or perhaps not so photogenic, but apples, vanilla, and lemon, in fresh baked buttery sponge cake, along with pine nuts, and raisins, fill the kitchen with the aroma capable of taking you straight to Tuscany, where this cake originates from.

Apple Torte With Pine Nuts and Raisins
Torta di Mele con Pinoli e Uvetta

2 large Golden Delicious apples
Juice of ½ lemon
3 eggs
1 ½ cups sugar, plus some for dusting
½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/3 cup raisins, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
¼ cup pine nuts

Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly butter spring form pan (10 inch), dust with flour, and tap out the excess.Peel, halve, and core apples; slice them thinly, and sprinkle with lemon juice. Set aside.

Whisk together eggs, and sugar, until creamy. Then add milk, butter, vanilla extract. In a separate bowl sift flour, add salt, baking powder, and lemon zest, and combine. Add the egg and butter mixture to the flour, using a wooden spoon, and incorporate well. Drain the raisins, and add them to the batter, along with pine nuts.

Pour the batter into the pan, and arrange apple slices on the top in concentric circles. Bake until toothpick comes out clean, for about 45 min. Transfer to wire rack, and cool completely before removing pan sides, and serving. Dust with sugar, and serve cut into wedges.

Recipe adapted from a Williams-Sonoma book “Savoring Tuscany”, by Lori de Mori
You might also like to indulge into this Tuscan favorite.