Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Lebkuchen Houses

Traditions are sculpted by the memories of the people. For some traditions is particularly easy to cross time and geographical borders, because of the taste. The well known gingerbread houses today are the young ancestors of the lebkuchen houses, born in Germany two hundred years ago, when Brothers Grimm wrote "Hansel and Gretel". German bakers were inspired by the descriptive story and freed their imagination into baking differently shaped and coloured small and big delicious houses. 

Decorated with candies, small cookies, chocolate pieces and lots of icing, the houses are extremely appealing not only because of their whimsical appearance, but because of the heavenly aroma of the spices as well.

Make this in advance and you will have Christmas feeling all season long. 

I chose to bake lebkuchen houses because of the variety of spices used in the recipe. My houses are gently decorated with white royal icing and I did not use any candies. I like this way of decorating - it is very gentle and feels natural - similar to the winter drawings, that, I must confess, I miss this season.

for the houses:

one recipe lebkuchen dough

You will need templates.

for the templates:

1. On a sheet of paper, draw the shape of your house - with symmetric or asymmetric roof - it really does not matter - whatever feels enchanted to you. 
2. Draw the side walls of the house - 2 rectangles. Once you decide how your house will look like, make the side walls - they will be equal rectangles and will determine the height of the house. 
3. Draw the front and back wall of a house with symmetrical roof - 2 pentagons. Decide how steep the roof will be and draw a symmetrical pentagon. The roof is very much influenced by the fifth acute angle of the pentagon. The smaller the angle, the steeper the roof. 
4. Draw the front and back wall of a house with asymmetrical roof - 2 pentagons. Again it depends on the fifth angle of the pentagon, but this time, the two arms of the angle have different length.
5. Draw the roof of a symmetrical house - 2 equal rectangles with length that matches the length of the rectangle drawn for the side walls and the same with as the arms of the acute angle of the pentagons used for front and back wall. 
6. Draw the roof of an asymmetrical house - 2 different rectangles: both with length that matches the length of the rectangle drawn for the side walls and the same with as the arms of the acute angle of the pentagons used for front and back wall (one of the rectangles will be smaller than the other one).
7. Now you have all the elements of the house drawn on paper. Before cutting the shapes, the roof needs some corrections: the roof extends a bit on front and back of the house, and also over the sides. That is why the rectangles for the roof must be at least 1 cm bigger at each side (if the drawn length is 8 cm, correct it to 9 or more. It all depends of your vision). 
9. Cut all the elements, transfer them onto a heavy carton and cut again. These are the carton templates, used for the dough.

prepare the house elements:

1. Roll out the dough about 5-7 mm thick.
2. Place the templates and cut them out with a paring knife.
3. Arrange onto a lined with parchment paper pan.
4. Cut the windows and doors, where desired.
5. Bake at 180 C.
6. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
7. Elements are deformed while baking. The sides of the walls could be straightened with a knife, but make sure you do not change much of the sizing.

I preferred to keep the deformed shapes where possible because I like the crooked and unstable look of the baked hoses, but for a perfection seekers: place the templates over the baked elements and cut the excessive dough. This will produce rough edges of all the sides, but will make gluing easier and the look of the house perfect.

decorating the house:

You will need Royal Icing.

for the Royal Icing:

20 g meringue powder*
50 ml cold water*
(*40 g egg whites, or egg white from one extra large fresh egg)
230 g confectioners’ sugar
few drops of lemon extract or juice

  • meringue powder and water can be substitute for fresh egg white. I would recommend, if egg whites are used, to be pasteurized. Once the egg white icing is prepared, decorate the cookies the same day and let them dry. Discard all of the royal icing that is left. Meringue powder royal icing could be stored at room temperature for up to 10 days. Whip before using it again.
prepare the Royal Icing:

1. Add the meringue powder to the water in a mixing bowl. Beat to soft peaks for about 3 min.
2. Slowly add the sugar until it is incorporated. 
3. Add the lemon extract and beat for about 5 min until the icing forms stif peaks. 
4. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to use. 


1. Decorate each element as desired. Leave to dry overnight.
2. With Royal Icing, glue the sides of the house together. Leave to dry for 2 hours.
3. Glue the sides of the roof one by one. Hold them together until slightly dry then leave to dry overnight.
4. Pipe Royal Icing over all seems. Pipe decorative icicles. 
5. Display the houses around the Christmas tree, or anywhere as a decoration. 

Note: You can brighten your houses with a candle inside. I do not recommend doing so for longer than to take a festive family picture, because the house could be burned from the inside.

Check the cookie-candle holders I made for Moms and Munchkins. Maybe they will make your holidays brighter in a safer way. 

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Crispy Molasses Stars

Crispy cut-out cookies that are made with molasses. That is how they have the signature dark colour and are perfect canvas for decorating in snow motives with a contrastingly white royal icing.

These spicy cookies are perfumed similarly to the Lebkuchen, but because of their high fat quantity, they are harder and able to keep their crispiness even after stored for months. These should be rolled out very thinly. I rolled mine to 3 mm (even less on one batch) and produced more than hundred. 

for the cookies:

140 g unsalted butter
110 g molasses
125 g custard sugar

250 g all purpose flour
70 g cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cardamom

grated rind of one lemon
1/4 cup ground almonds

5.5 cm 6-point star cookie cutter

prepare the cookies:

1. In a heavy-bottomed pan, warm the butter, sugar and molasses, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Do not bring to boil. Leave to cool.
2. Add the sifted dry ingredients and stir with a flexible spatula.
3. Add the lemon rind and almonds.
4. Wrap the dough in a clean foil and let it rest overnight at room temperature.
5. Divide the dough in two and roll each piece very thinly.
6. Cut out the cookies and place them on a lined with parchment paper pan.
7. Bake for about 10 min in a pre-heated to 175C oven.
8. Leave them to cool on a wire rack.
9. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a month.
10. Decorate, if desired.

Share with friends and family:

1. Choose a box that will accommodate the size of cookies you have made.
2. Cut a wax paper ribbon the same width as the cookies.
3. Pack the cookies and slide them into the box. Fill it until the lid so the cookies would have no space to move around.
4. Share with love.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Chocolate Swiss Roll

Delicious desert! In its simplicity, it serves an irresistible combination of sponge roll and chocolate mousseline.  What better way to celebrate Saint Anne on December 9th? 

for the swiss roll:
(for a pan 48/23 cm , or 17/11")

4 yolks from large eggs
4 whites from large eggs
165 g sugar for the yolks
85 g sugar for the whites
175 g flour
pinch of salt

The basic bowl is the one with the yolk mixture. 

1. Combine the yolks and the first sugar quantity in a bowl of a stand mixer with the whip attachment (or use the hand held mixer). Beat in high speed until very thick (for about 10 -15 min with hand held mixer). 
2. In another bowl, beat the egg whites and the sugar to firm, moist peaks. 
3. Fold in the yolk mixture alternating with the sifted flour in three steps. Do not overmix. 
4. Immediately transfer in the pan and bake at 220°C for about 6-7 min. 
5. Prepare a piece of parchment paper the same  size as the sponge roll. Cover with sifted powder sugar. 
6. Cool slightly the baked sponge and when cooled take it off the pan, holding the paper it was baked on. Carefully turn it over the powdered piece of parchment paper. Peel off the paper it was baked on. Sift some confectioners' sugar.
7. Let it cool completely.

for the cream mousseline:

250 ml milk
60 g sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk from a large egg
2 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
120 g dark chocolate
170 g butter cubed and at room temperature

1. Bring the milk to boil.
2. Whisk the egg, egg yolk and sugar until foamy. Whisk in the cornstarch, until smooth. 
3. Add half of the milk and mix well. Return the egg mixture to the pan over a medium heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the cream thickens slightly. Change to a hand held whisk and whisk for few more minutes to thicken. 
4. Remove from the heat. Add the chopped in small pieces chocolate and stir until well homogenized.
5. Cover with plastic foil and leave to cool.
6. Place in a bowl of a mixer and beat with a whisk attachment, adding butter in pieces. Whisk until well homogenized.
7. Chill for 30 min before use.

for the chocolate ganache:

200 ml heavy cream
200 g dark chocolate

1. Bring the cream to boil.
2. Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate. Stir to homogenize.
3. Use immediately. 


1. Spread all the cream over the sponge. Distribute evenly with a spatula, leaving 2 cm of one of the sort sides uncovered.
2. Starting with the short side, roll tightly.
3. Place the roll over a wire rack and leave in a refrigerator to cool.
4. Take the roll out of the fridge and place it over a pan.
5. Pour the warm ganache over the roll, letting the ganache to cover all the roll freely. 
6. Place it in the fridge to cool for 30 min.
7. Place the roll on a serving plate. 
8. Collect all the excessive chocolate from the pan and store in a well closed box. Use for preparing hot chocolate or decorating other sweets.

Store the roll in a cool place. Serve at room temperature.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

"The Nutcracker" Cupcakes

"The Nutcracker" is a symbolic piece. Written in 1892, it became popular much later, as most of the classical music. Tchaikovsky left a print in the music history when this piece turned into a ballet performance. Since 1960, "the Nutcracker" has been a Christmas emblem in most of the big theatres across the world. 

Make these cupcakes festive, make them sweet and in big number - they are delicious and celebrate the joy of the season. 

for the cupcakes:
(makes 24)

240 g unsalted butter
400 g sugar
4 large eggs
160 ml heavy cream 35%
160 ml milk
90 g freshly squeezed orange juice (1 orange)
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
500 g all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. pinch salt

for the icing:

220 g unsalted butter softened
grated orange zest - 1 orange
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
500 g cream cheese
170 g confectioners' sugar
1 Tbsp heavy cream

prepare the cupcakes:

1. Combine the "wet" ingredients: cream, milk, orange juice and vanilla extract in a bowl.
2. Combine all dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, soda and salt in another bowl.

3. Beat the soft butter and the sugar till well combined to a airy fluffy mixture. Stop the mixer and scrape the mixture from the bottom of the bowl. Continue mixing - for about 3 min. 
4. Beat the eggs with a fork, just enough to destroy the structure of the whites. Add the eggs in small portions to the butter mixture, till well combined and homogenized. 
5. The working bowl is the one with the butter. Adding wet and dry ingredients to it is in three portions. Starting with the flour mixture, combine well in slow speed of the mixer (or by hand), add half of the liquid and the second third of the flour, mix just till combined, again - the wet mixture, followed by the last part of the dry one. Do not over-mix, just combine well. 
6. Fill the cups at two thirds.   
7. Bake in paper cups in a cup cake pan at 175 C, convection bake. Bake for about 20 min. Check with a tooth pick. 
8. After they are ready, leave on a rack to cool.

prepare the icing:

1. Beat the butter until it reaches a mayonnaise consistency.
2. Scrape down the bottom of the bowl, add the lemon juice and beat again.
3. Add the cream cheese. Cream well, until completely homogenized.
4. Sift in the confectioners' sugar. 
5. Add the cream in the middle of the sugar. Cream well. 
6. Cover with wrapping foil (the foil should touch the cream) and place in the fridge for not longer than an hour.


1. Spoon in a piping bag with a tip of your choice.
2. Pipe swirls or rosettes.
3. Decorate.

Store in a cool place. Serve at room temperature.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014


The fall is far gone. White and snowy spirit surrounds us. It is all about Christmas preparation now - Christmas lights and songs, spicy perfumed cookies, chocolate and cakes, friends and family gathering... 

My macarons today are a perfect evidence for a personal historical failure. I followed a recipe for a roll out cookies, but ended up with a perfect macarons. At the time I mixed the ingredients, I noticed that the batter is too runny for rolling out. Piping it in macaron shells saved the day and produced these nice rustic white confections.

for the macarons:
(makes about 25)

220 g finely ground unblanched almonds
140 g egg whites (about 3 1/2 large eggs)
350 g powdered sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice

for the chocolate ganache:

125 ml heavy cream
50 g sugar
175 g dark chocolate  
25 g butter

prepare the macaron shells:

1. Prepare the baking tins - cover the pans with silicone sheet or a parchment paper. 
2. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks are formed.
3. Beat in the sugar, adding in thirds and beating well after each addition. Beat further for about 3-5 min.

Note: You could divide the sugar - 1/3 + 2/3. Beat in the 2/3 with the egg whites (again, adding the sugar in portions). Add the 1/3 of the sugar to the almonds and grind for few seconds. The sugar will will absorb any reduced oil and will allow to grind the almonds well.

That is the proper way to prepare the macaron batter. As I mentioned, though, I was trying to make different type of cookies. 
4. Fold in the almonds. Add the lemon juice. 
5. Spoon the batter into a piping bag with a round tip and pipe 50 shells. 
6. Bake at 130 C until the shells are well raised and dry on top. Do not let them to change their colour. 
7. Place them on a wire rack to cool.

prepare the chocolate ganache:

1. Bring the cream and sugar to boil.
2. Have the chocolate chopped in a bowl. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate. Let stay for 5 min.
3. Stir the mixture gently until well homogenized and glossy ganache is formed.
4. Incorporate the butter. Cover the dish with cling foil. Leave at room temperature. Use before it hardens completely.


1. Spoon the chocolate ganache into a piping bag with a star tip.
2. Pipe swirls onto the bottom side of half of the macaroons.
3. Cover each one of the piped shells with the rest of the plain macaron shells. Press very gently.
4. Serve at store at room temperature.

Monday, 1 December 2014


Rich chocolate sponge cake, glazed in apricot and iced in bittersweet chocolate ganache. 

Subject to a court case, this cake recipe was developed almost 300 years ago by Franz Sacher. 

Now, there is no argument about the exquisite taste of this Viennese creation. Cut in the middle and layered with apricot jam, or just covered with it on tor and the sides, the cake always proudly wears the signature "Sacher" chocolate stamp. 

I decided to prepare Sachertorte, trying to find the most genuine recipe for it - not the contemporary versions with new additions. One of the issues, discussed in court was if the cake should be cut in half and layered with jam, or just covered. I chose not to cut my beautifully baked chocolate sponge.

for the cake:

170 g dark chocolate
140 g butter, softened
170 g custard sugar
120 g egg yolks (about 6 extra large eggs)
320 g egg whites (about 8 extra large eggs)
150 g all purpose flour

for the glaze:

200 ml apricot jam
1 Tbsp lemon juice

for the ganache:

50 g sugar
1 Tbsp glucose or white corn syrup
190 g heavy cream
230 g dark chocolate - 75% cocoa

Have a 8" cake pan buttered and covered with parchment paper.

prepare the cake:

1. Melt the chocolate over bain marie. Set aside.
2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and pale.
3. Beat in the egg yolks one by one, beating well after each addition.
4. Beat the egg whites, until stiff. Fold in one quarter of the whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it.
5. Gently, fold in the yolk mixture into the whites.
6. Sift over the flour and fold gently.
7. Pour the batter into the pan and bake in the middle of the oven at 175C for 40-50 min, or until ready. (check with a toothpick).
8. Turn the cake onto a wire rack to cool.

prepare the glaze:

1. Heat the apricot jam and the lemon juice and allow to boil.
2. Strain through a fine sieve.
3. Brush the top and sides of the cake, while the jam is warm. Distribute the jam evenly.
4. Leave to cool and set.

prepare the ganache:

1. Chop the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl.
2. Bring the cream, glucose and sugar to boils.
3. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Leave to stay for 5 min.
4. Stir to homogenize.


1. When the jam is well set on the cake and while the ganache is still warm, place the cake on a wire rack and fit the rack into a deep pan.
2. Pour the ganache over the cake (over the centre).
3. With a flat spatula, evenly distribute the ganache on top of the cake and let it cover freely the sides. Use the spatula for the sides, if needed.
4. Leave the cake on the rack until the ganache hardens and sets.


Serve at room temperature. Traditionally, Sachertorte is served with unsweetened whipped cream.
Store in a cool place for up to 4 days.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Old-fashioned Lebkuchen Stars and Hearts

This is the classic recipe for Christmas Cookies from old Germany, or Switzerland (if you'd prefer). A recipe, I was hoping to find for a long time. Thanks to Sara Kelly Iaia and her fine memories, collected in the book "Festive Baking", I am happy to bake the first cookies for this Christmas.

The honey and the quantity of the fragrant spices make these cookies unique. I would advise not to skip any of the spices or to change their quantity. I am pretty conservative when it comes to perfumed spices. I think the simpler ingredients make one dish tastier. But here, the spices are in perfect unison.  

for the cookies:

490 g all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp powdered anise
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger

225 g honey
160 g light brown sugar
134 g unsalted butter
1 large egg

1. Sift the flour in a bowl.
2. In another bowl, sift all the spices.
3. Heat the honey, sugar and butter in a heavy bottomed pan over a low heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Do not allow to boil.
4. Remove the butter from the heat and stir in the spices.
5. Beat in the flour, reserving a handful of it in the bowl. Let the dough cool a little bit.
6. Lightly beat the egg and add to the dough. 
7. Knead the dough with hands, using the reserved flour.
8. Wrap the dough in clean foil and let it rest at room temperature overnight.


The next day...

1. Divide the dough in two. Roll out each half in between two sheets of wax paper, parchment paper or cling foil. The dough will feel harder than the day before.
2. Using a star and a heart cookie cutter, cu out cookies.
3. Collect all the scraps, knead, roll and cut out cookies. Arrange all the cut outs on a lined with parchment paper baking pan.
4. Decorate with sliced almonds and raisins.
5. Brush with slightly whisked egg white.
6. Bake in the middle of the oven for 7-10 min, or until golden.
7. Leave the cookies to cool on a wire rack.
8. Store in an air-tight container for up to two months.

Another variation of finishing the cookies is to leave them plain, without the decoration and to brush melted chocolate (or chocolate ganache) on them after baking until they are still warm.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

"Envelope" Pound Cake

This pound cake is another way to treat yourself with respect. The recipe is just irresistible. It looks and sounds delicious. Reading the ingredients is like a first sense. But the taste is surely much more than the expectation - moist and dacquoise-taste like chocolate cake in a relationship with moist and spongy lemon cake, both enhanced with creamy chocolate ganache ... This cake was gone right away - first and only serving...

I found the recipe and the way of presentation in the new book on the shelf - "The Art of French Pastry". As Jacquy Pfeiffer's triangular cut is perfect, I tried my best in doing it professionally. I really hope that the unevenness on the chocolate ganache could be corrected in the next cakes. And I am definitely doing it again, and again and ... 

My daughter is the 'godmother' of the cake - she thinks it resembles envelope - and here comes the name "Envelope" Pound Cake. 

for coating the pan:

soft butter for coating the pan
75 g sliced blanched almonds for coating

for the dry ingredients:

16 g cocoa powder
60 g confectioners' sugar
80 g almond flour/meal

20 g flour
18 g cornstarch

52 g butter

for the lemon cake:

75 g almond flour/meal
30 g confectioners' sugar
50 g egg yolks (about 3 egg yolks from large eggs)
20 g light honey
50 g whole eggs (about 1 large egg)
5 g vanilla extract
1 organic lemon zest

for the meringue:

160 g egg whites (about 4 egg whites from extra large eggs)
80 g granulated sugar

for the chocolate ganache:

120 ml heavy cream
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
120 g dark chocolate 70% cocoa

Only about half of the chocolate ganache will be used in the recipe. The rest could be stored at room temperature for 2-3 days and used for making hot chocolate. In fact, after the cake was done, I served it with a cup of hot chocolate made with the unused ganache. 

prepare the baking dish:

With a brush, coat the bottom and the walls of the baking pan with the soft butter. Pour the sliced almonds over and distribute them evenly all over the surface of the pan. Collect the excessive amount of almonds and set aside. Refrigerate the pan, while scaling the ingredients.

prepare the ingredients:

1. Sift together the cocoa powder, confectioners' sugar and almonds in a bowl. Set aside
2. Sift the flour and the corn starch together in a bowl and set aside. 
3. Place a heavy bottomed pan with the butter in it over low heat. Cook the butter, stirring it slowly for about 5-6 min, until it has the specific hazelnut colour. Strain and leave to cool.

prepare the lemon cake:

1. In a bowl, combine the almonds, confectioners' sugar, egg yolks, honey, agg and vanilla extract.
2. Mix on medium speed with the paddle attachment of a mixer until the mixture is light and pale.
3. Add the lukewarm butter. Mix lightly.
4. Take the bowl off the mixer and using a spatula, fold in the lemon zest .
5. Fold in the flour-cornstarch mixture.

prepare the meringue:

I used a handheld mixer for the meringue. 

1. Briefly, whip the egg whites in a bowl.
2. Add the sugar and whip until soft glossy peaks are formed.

Baking the cake:

1.Weigh out 120 g of the meringue and gently fold it into the lemon batter.
2. Fold in the cocoa mixture to the rest of the meringue.
3. Remove the pan from the fridge. Spread the cocoa mixture over the bottom and the sides of the pan, forming a chocolate meringue shell.
4. Fill the pan with the lemon cake mixture and smooth the top with a spatula.
5. Bake the cake at 180C for about 20 min.
6. Reduce the temperature to 160C and bake for another 10 min or until it is well baked (check with a toothpick in the centre).
7. Reverse the cake immediately onto a wire rack and leave to cool, covered with a cloth or towel.

prepare the chocolate ganache:

1. Bring the cream and sugar to boil, stirring to ensure that the sugar is dissolved.
2. Have the chocolate chopped in a heat proof bowl.
3. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate.
4. Stir with a flexible spatula until well homogenized. Leave to cool.


1. Place the cake on a cutting board, bottom facing up.
2. Create a V-cut by slicing from the edge of the cake to the centre on an inward 45-degree angle. 
3. Repeat on the other side, removing the triangular slice.
4. Spread the ganache onto the surface of the V-cut.
5. Return the triangular centre, pressing gently, but firmly in place.
6. Place the cake back into the baking pan and refrigerate for about an hour so the ganache is set well.

Serving and storing:

Store in a cool place for 2 days. Serve at room temperature.

for the hot chocolate:

The rest of the ganache is enough for 3 hot chocolate, 200 ml each. 

Bring 600 ml of milk + 3 Tbsp sugar to boil. Pour a little bit of the milk over the ganache. Stir to homogenize. Pour some more and stir again. Add the melted ganache to the rest of the milk and serve.

Sunday, 9 November 2014


In these cold autumn days I still have some flowers in the garden. How beautiful is that?! Surely, it is magically inspiring. Dessert making is even more satisfying - it gives me the feeling of cosines and warmth. With a cup of herbal tea or hot chocolate, autumn is magnificent.

I chose today's dessert to be this classic french almond tart Frangipane.  It is really delicious and have an extraordinary mild taste. It is a real celebration of the almonds. I baked it in my favourite cast iron skillet. Why? Well..., just because I really like my heavy skillet and it has never been used for preparing any desserts. Any tart pan or ring with a diameter 20-22 cm (8") will do the work.

for the pâte sucrée:

(adapted from the recipe of Sebastin Rouxel)

190 g all purpose flour
23 g powdered sugar I
47 g powdered sugar II
25 g almond meal
115 g unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg yolk 

1. Combine the flour, first quantity of the sugar - (sugar I) and almond meal into a bowl.
2. Cream the butter with a paddle attachment of a mixer, or using a wooden spoon.
3. Add the sugar II and incorporate well until the mixture becomes fluffy.
4. Add the vanilla extract. Beat to incorporate.
5. Add the dry mixture in two additions, beating well after each one.
6. Add the egg and beat just to combine.
7. Wrap the dough in plastic foil. Refrigerate for about 2 hours, or overnight.

for the almond cream:

130 g butter
230 g sugar
230 g ground almonds
55 g flour
3 eggs
2 Tbsp dark rum

1. Beat the butter until soft
2. Add the sugar and ground almonds and mix well.
3. Mix in the flour.
4. Mix in the eggs one by one.
5. Add the rum.
6. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.


1. Roll out the dough to fit about 20-22 cm (8") pan.
2. Press gently to cover well the bottom of the pan. Let the dough fall over the edges. Roll over with the rolling pin to cut the dough and collect all the excessive dough to make few biscuits.
3. Once the pan is lined, refrigerate for 30 min.
4. Fill the crust with the almond cream.
5. Smooth the surface and top with sliced almonds.
6. Bake for 25-30 min at 180°C or until the crust is well browned.

Storing and serving:

Dust with powdered sugar before serving. Serve at room temperature. Store at room temperature.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Chocolate Plum Cupcake

or ...
Cupcakes for Remembrance Day

for the cupcakes:

3 eggs, at room temperature
130 g brown sugar
170 g granulated sugar
180 ml buttermilk, at room temperature
140 g yogurt, at room temperature
50 g honey

300 g all purpose flour
58 g unsweetened cocoa powder
5 g baking soda
6 g baking powder

140 g ground almonds
170 g melted butter
250 g plum purée

for the chocolate-praline ganache:

use one recipe of Chocolate Praline Ganache

Prepare the baking pan, lining with paper cups.
Preheat the oven to 190 C.

prepare the plum purée:

3 big plums would do the work + few drops of lemon juice

Pit and peel the plums. Process them in a blender until puréed well. Squeeze 2-3 drops of lemon juice if you want to keep the colour of the fruit before it oxidized. Set aside until needed.  

prepare the cupcakes:

1. Whisk the eggs and brown and granulated sugar lightly. Stir in the milk, yogurt and honey.
2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder, adding to the egg mixture.
3. Add the almonds.
4. Stir in the melted butter and the purée.
5. Scoop the batter into the paper cups, filling them 3/4 of their volume.
6. Bake for about 20-25 min, checking with a toothpick for readiness.
7. When ready, leave the cupcakes on a wire rack to cool completely.

prepare the ganache:

follow the recipe in Chocolate Praline Ganache post


Pipe the slightly cooled ganache over the cupcakes. Decorate as desired.

Check the post I wrote for Moms and Munchkins on how to make a gum paste poppy flower.

November is a special month of honouring Canadian solders and people proudly wear this beautiful, symbolic flower on their chests.  

Remembering is how we all sculpt our future.