Monday, May 27, 2013

Lemon and Raspberry Prinsesstårta

Korena of Korena in the Kitchen was our May Daring Bakers’ host and she delighted us with this beautiful Swedish Prinsesstårta!

Do you want to know what Prinsesstårta is? It is a dome-shaped cake consisting of a light sponge, a fruit jam, vanilla custard and whipped cream – and covered in green marzipan. They say, the original recipe was created in the 1930s by a Swedish home economics teacher named Jenny Åkerström, who taught the three Swedish princesses of the time. She published a series of four cookbooks called “The Princess Cookbooks” and in one of the editions, there was a recipe for “Grön Tårta” (green cake). One story is that this later became known as “princess cake” (prinsesstårta) because the three princesses are said to have loved it so much. Another story is that Ms. Åkerström actually created three very elaborate “princess cake” recipes – a different one for each princess – and that the current version is a simplified combination of all three.

I’ve decided to make a modified version of Prinsesstårta – with raspberry pate de fruit, lemon custard and lemon flavoured chocolate plastique. I assembled the cake upside down in a bowl (which I find to be a more comfortable way of dealing with dome-shaped cakes) and decorated it with freeze-dried raspberry powder and fresh raspberries.

A classic combination of raspberries and lemon in a form of a Prinsesstårta was impeccable. Thank you, Korena, for telling us about this beautiful cake from Swedan!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cauliflower and White Chocolate Ice Cream

Since we have started to discuss the use of vegetables in desserts, I couldn’t but recollect a wonderful dish by Matt Moran (Aura restaurant, Sidney) which he presented at a master class in one of the episodes of Masterchef Australia Season 4.  It was a cauliflower and white chocolate ice cream served with vanilla cauliflower puree, nutmeg sponge and caramelized honey bread. Sounds weird, doesn’t it?  But do you know what I love about cooking the most? Nonconformality!  Thus, I decided to try the recipe at home.

I really enjoyed cooking this dish. There was much fun about putting sugar and vanilla in cauliflower puree. And I loved the technique of making honey crumble with the bread (I used a French baguette). And despite the “craziness” of the idea the dessert turned out to be one of the best which I managed to try recently. Even my husband who was very skeptical about it (at first he even thought that he misunderstood me when I said that I’m making a cauliflower ice cream) confessed that he liked it. Indeed, there is just a hint of cauliflower aroma in the dish which beautifully compliments white chocolate. The overall sweetness of the dessert is counterbalanced by the tartness of fresh raspberries and freeze dried raspberry powder (which I decided to add in order to get another texture and taste dimension in the dish).

I strongly recommend you to try this dessert and it definitely proves that we should step  out of our comfort zone of cooking and start searching new, nontraditional combination of ingredients!   

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Zucchini and Pecan Cake

Ruth from Makey-Cakey was our March 2013 Daring Bakers’ challenge host. She encouraged us all to get experimental in the kitchen and sneak some hidden veggies into our baking, with surprising and delicious results!

The challenge was supposed to be a wonderful opportunity for young mothers to make their children eat veggies in a form of a dessert. For me, however, it provided a great opportunity to feed my husband!

He is not a great fan of vegetables but he definitely has a sweet tooth (well, who doesn’t?) Ironically, once I’ve made a vegetable-based dessert. It was a cauliflower and white chocolate ice cream (by Matt Moran from one of Masterchef Australia master classes). My husband refused to try it when he learnt what it was made of. But when I finally convinced him into trying it, he was amazed and confessed that it was really yummy.

So, as I’ve chosen to make a zucchini cake for this month challenge, I made up my mind to keep the list of ingredients in secret. I presented the dessert as just “another cake”. And my husband was absolutely happy to have it. He enjoyed every single piece of it – and was quite shocked afterwards, when I revealed the secret ingredient of the cake.

I loved the cake myself as well. It was super moist due to zucchini and had a nice spicy note. I’ve a made a sour cream frosting – not an American-style one with lots of icing sugar (which I find to be way too sweat) but a Russian-like (more creamy and less sweat). The cake couldn’t have a better frosting and – topped with the nuts – served as a healthy and amazing dessert.
Yum, yum, yum!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Orange Foaming Cookies and Cappuccino Cookies with Chocolate


        Holiday season is the time for sharing and Peta of Peta Eats is sharing a dozen cookies, some classics and some of her own, from all over the world with us.

          I decided to wait for December to try all the recipes while making sweet gifts for my family and friends. Meanwhile, I chose a chose a recipe of Peta’s mother-in law – foaming cookies, and a recipe of Pierre Herme – cappuccino cookies – for completing this month’s challenge. So, I ended up having gift packs with two types of cookies (“black” and “white”)– similar in shape, but so different in taste!

          I loved the recipe of foaming cookies as it leaves a lot of space for creativity! Peta claims that one can make them with milk, water or juice, and use any kind of flour like rice or almond one. Besides, any spices, nuts, dried fruits and chocolate chips can be used for developing a flavor. I guess I will be experimenting a lot with this recipe from this moment on!

         Pierre Herme’s cookies turned to be softer and richer – probably, because of chocolate chunks and a good shot of espresso in them. I added crushed macadamia as the recipe called for but I guess any other nuts will work brilliant as well. The cookies are good in their own and sinfully awesome after being put for a quick while in a cup of morning coffee and eaten – almost at the edge of falling apart!

         A great challenge and a great way to feel the atmosphere of the upcoming holiday season!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Blueberry and Lime Millefuille

   Our October 2012 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Suz of Serenely Full. Suz challenged us to not only tackle buttery and flaky puff pastry, but then take it step further and create a sinfully delicious Mille Feuille dessert with it! I was happy to learn that this month’s challenge is Mille-fuille because I’ve never actually made a real puff pastry myself – I only had an experience of making the soc called “quick puff pastry” which does not require laminating the dough a lot. My huscband was also very happy to learn that this month I’m gonna cook a mille-fuille – “napoleon” slice was his favourite dessert from the childhood! We even argued a bit because of it: I wanted to go creative with this challenge and he wanted to have a classic version of the cake!
   We reached a compromise: I made a classic French mille-fuilee instead of making traditional Russian Napoleon. For those who do not know the difference, let me explain: in Russia the slice is made with lots of thin layers of puff pastry and cream (which is usually not cream patisserie but more like a buttercream – a combination of butter and condensed milk) and is covered with crushed pieces of puff pastry (no icing – never!); the cake is left overnight in the fridge so that it becomes soft. Well, you see, that is what my husband always loved – and I wanted him to taste an original mille-fuille, French-style! So Ive made a custard-based cream and three layers of puff pastry and even an icing with strips of chocolate!

   One week later, however, I felt like doing something more. I remembered “Milena” – a beautiful slice by Pierre Herme consisting of raspberry jelly, dacquiouse biscuit, mint mousse and two layers of puff pastry. Taking it as an inspiration I decided to cook something similar – an idea of blueberry and lime ice cream mille-fuille came up! 

    Was it better than French millefuille or Russian napoleon? It was - just because it was different and it had more complicated textures and flavours: crispiness of puff pastry and softness of a sponge, sweetness of ice cream and sourness of jelly, zing of lime and freshness of blueberries. 

    Don't you like a fresh touch on a traditional dish?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Empanada Gallega


     Patri of the blog, Asi Son Los Cosas, was our September 2012 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she decided to tempt us with one of her family’s favorite recipes for Empanadas! We were given two dough recipes to choose from and encouraged to fill our Empanadas as creatively as we wished!

     Empanada traces its origin to Galicia and Portugal. Traditionally they are made in a form of a pie which is afterwards cut in pieces. Nowadays, however, other variations exist – like “calzone-style” big pies or individual “turn-over style” small pies (which – when made in on oval shape, looks similar to Russian “pirozhki”!). 

       The fillings of empanada usually include tuna, chorizo or sardines but it can also contain cod and pork loin. Since my husband is not fond of tuna and pork and since we had brandada with salted cod the same day, I decided to choose ground beef for my pie. I wanted the filling to have “a Spanish hint” so I added bell pepper, tomatoes, black olives, paprika and lots of parsley. I wish I had some anchovies in my cupboard – they would have made the whole thing “undoubtedly Spanish”!

     Anyway, the pie was very good: a juicy, hearty filling wrapped in bread-like paprika-scented dough.  What a great way to create Galician atmosphere at home!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Choux Puffs with Orange Chantilly Cream

     Kat of The Bobwhites was our August 2012 Daring Baker hostess who inspired us to have fun in creating pate a choux shapes, filled with crème patisserie or Chantilly cream. We were encouraged to create swans or any shape we wanted and to go crazy with filling flavors allowing our creativity to go wild!

     To say true, I really wanted to make swans…or  at least some sort of Paris-Breast gateau with an unusual filling. But – oh, yes! There’s always “a but” – I was so-o-o-o-o-o busy in August (with some baking, by the way!) that I had to leave the idea of making something massive.  I just had to go for an easier option (which does not always mean “worse”!) – and I simply made some prifitroles filled with orange-flavoured Chantilly.

     Oh yes, I had such a hectic time that I couldn’t even complete the challenge on time! Feeling a bit guilty, however, I managed to find another half an hour to make sugar decorations for assembling my dessert!

     The result was elegant and seductive, with a comforting sweetness of sugar strands and a refreshing zing of orange zest.

     It was not a Swan lake but it was a “Choux ballet” of mine – much simpler, yet pleasant and charming as well.
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