Friday, August 27, 2010

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Ice Cream Petit Fours

Hey everyone! I'm back from Sicily and I can't wait to show you some pictures and tell you all about the best food I've ever eaten! But first, I'm happy to share my second Daring Bakers' Challenge which I prepared shortly before I went on holiday.

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

I decided to go for the Ice Cream Petit Fours. First, I made the ice cream. I chose a recipe for a coconut saffron ice cream from Nicole Stich's book "delicious days". That went all well, whereas the brown butter cake was a little more complicated. I have never browned butter before and I burned it the first time. The second time, I watched the pan like a hawk and I probably took it away from the hot plate a little too early but I figured that was better than burning it again. When browning the butter, it gets a nutty smell which I really like. It gives the cake a very special and delicious flavour.

I made both, a white and dark chocolate icing for the petit fours. The decoration was a spontaneous idea. I found some red sugar flowers in my cupboard and I thought that would look nice together with the gladiolus blossoms. The gladiolus was a present from my friend Danny and I thought that I might as well put it to good use before it began to wither.

I decorated some of the dark chocolate petit fours with meringue crumbles and cut them in halves so that one could see the inside. After the first few shots, I arranged them together with the gladiolus blossoms again because I thought it looked too bland without some colour.

After the photo session, I ate one of the petit fours right away :-) they make a very nice little dessert together with a coffee. I really liked this challenge! Thanks to Elissa for the ideas and the instructions! (Get them here by the way!)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Vermicelli with Ham and Creamy Saffron Sauce

I'm flying to Sicily tomorrow to visit Mauro's family and I am so exited! I wanted to inform you that I won't post anything on my blog for about a week and a half. But I'm not leaving you without another recipe.

What would fit better now than pasta!? I have a simple recipe for you that is basically a carbonara sauce with the addition of saffron. Trust me, it is extremely good!

This is what I call comfort food... not only is it nourishing, it is also heart-warming. You get happier with every bite you eat. I love the vermicelli pasta with this dish because you can really shovel big bites onto your fork and it looks very nice with the ham streaks. If you don't have vermicelli, you could use thin spaghetti or linguine.

(from Ursula Ferrigno - Pasta Passion)

serves 4

350g vermicelli (or other) pasta (if you are hearty eaters, I would say a little more, maybe then also a bit more ham and cream)
a large pinch of saffron strands
150g cooked ham, cut into strips (I roasted the ham strips in a frying pan before adding them to the sauce)
200ml cream (I used 25% fat, the original calls for double cream)
50g grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
2 egg yolks
sea salt

Heat up a saucepan of water. Put the saffron strands into a smaller saucepan and add two tablespoons of water. Bring this to a boil. Then, remove from the hot plate and leave it to sit for a bit.

When the water is boiling, add salt and then the pasta. While the pasta cooks, add ham to the pan containing the saffron. Also pour in cream and parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper. Stir well. When the cream bubbles, remove the pan from the hot plate, add the egg yolks and beat well. Taste and season again according to your taste.

Drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Mix well and serve.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Chicken Salad with Peperoni and Basil Curd Dressing

This salad made a simple dinner for Mauro and me this week. I served it with toast and a green salad. I could imagine this salad to be a good addition for a summer buffet or a picnic.

(Adapted from "Saisonküche" August 2010)

little meal for 4 persons

2 red peperonis
400g chicken breast
salt, pepper, mild paprika
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove
1 peperoncino
a handful of basil leaves (the original recipe calls for parsley)
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon coarse-grained mustard
3 tablespoons curd (I used 3/4 fat)

Cut the peperoni into little pieces and set aside.

You can either cut the chicken breast into slices before roasting them or after. I cut them into slices before roasting and seasoned them with salt, pepper and paprika. Then, put some of the oil into a large frying pan and roast the chicken for about 10 minutes over medium heat. Cut the garlic into little pieces or use a garlic press, and roast with the chicken.

After 10 minutes, take the chicken out of the pan, set aside and let cool. Roast the peperoni pieces in the same pan for about 3 minutes (or longer, depending on how soft you want them to be).

For the sauce: Pit the peperoncino and chop together with the basil (or parsley). Mix with curd, mustard, lemon juice and the rest of the oil. Season with salt, pepper and paprika. Mix with the chicken and peperoni.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Brainfood for two hungry girls...

My friend Daniela came over today to study together. We do this very often and yes, we actually really work efficiently! We always have an extended lunch break which we use to relax and talk about this and that... ;-)

Today was kind of a spontaneous study-day and since my fridge was rather empty, we decided to have pasta with a simple tomato sauce for lunch. I came up with this little dessert spontaneously because I thought we needed something to motivate us for the afternoon session.

Honeyed Yogurt with Grapes and Almonds

(Of course, you can modify this simple dessert in various ways. This is just how I made it today...)

For two:

about 180g plain yogurt
1 tablespoon of liquid honey (I used orange blossom honey)
(a pinch of sugar, optional, depending on how sweet you like it)
200g white grapes, halved, cores removed
2 twigs of red currants
2 tablespoons of slivered almonds, roasted

Mix honey with yogurt and stir well. Fill some grapes into two little glasses, add some of the almonds. Then, pour the yoghurt over that. Top with the rest of the grapes and the almonds. Decorate the glasses with the red currant twigs. And there you go...

Monday, August 09, 2010

Yogurt Semolina Cake with Peaches

I made this cake for a friend of mine who, believe it or not, doesn't like chocolate... I still have problems understanding that :-) But, although I am a serious chocaholic I'd say that cakes like this one are among my favourites.

(adapted from:

2 egg yolks
50g soft butter
100g sugar
2 sachets vanilla sugar (40g)
250g plain yogurt
125g flour
125g semolina
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 egg whites
a pinch of salt
200g peach, diced (the original recipe calls for frozen raspberries. I guess you can also use other fruit)

(I doubled these ingredients and made two cakes. I used a little less sugar and vanilla sugar and added about three tablespoons of liquid honey.)

Line a 25cm cake tin with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Beat egg yolks, butter, sugar, vanilla sugar with a hand mixer for about 8 minutes until the batter is very light-colored (almost white). Add yogurt (and honey).

Mix flour, semoline and baking powder and add this mixture to the yogurt-batter.

Whisk egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff. Carefully mix this with your cake batter. Fill half of the batter into your cake tin. Pour about half your peach dices (or raspberries or other fruit) onto this. Then fill the rest of the cake batter into the tin. Top with the rest of the fruit. Press them into the batter a little with a spatula.

Bake the cake for about 70 - 80 minutes. If necessary, cover the cake with aluminium foil after about 50 minutes to prevent it from getting dark. Then, take out of the oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes. Then take out of the cake tin and let cool completely. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Say (Cream) Cheese!

This post is for my friend Kerstin who wouldn't believe me that cream cheese brownies are really easy to make! This is one of the reasons I make cream cheese brownies so often. Everyone loves them, they are made in a jiffy and you can also prepare them in advance and keep them in the fridge for some days. I still can't decide whether I like them better fresh from the oven or cold from the fridge... they are divine anyway...

Here comes the recipe:
(Adapted from: Nigella Lawson - How to be a Domestic Goddess)

125g dark chocolate
125g unsalted butter
2 eggs
200g sugar
1 sachet (20g) vanilla sugar (Nigella uses vanilla extract)
75g plain flour
a pinch of salt
200g cold cream cheese (Philadelphia)

You need a brownie tin (about 23x23 cm, mine is 18x23 and it works fine, if you don't have a brownie tin, you could probably use a square gratin dish that has about that size). Line the brownie tin with parchment paper.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Melt the chocolate together with the butter in a small pan over low heat. Whilst this melts, beat the eggs with the sugar and the vanilla sugar in a bowl. In another bowl, mix flour and salt. When the chocolate has melted, take away from the heat and give it some time to cool a little. Then, add it to the egg and sugar-mixture. Finally, sift in the flour and mix until the batter is smooth.

Pour half the mixture into your tin and then slice the cream cheese into very thin slices and top the brownie mixture with these slices. Then pour the rest of your brownie batter over this. Use a spatula and make sure, every piece of cream cheese is covered with the mixture.

Put into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. The top gets a little pale and crunchy but the inside is still sticky. When you take it out of the oven, let cool at least 10 minutes before cutting it into squares. Kept in an airtight container in the fridge, they stay moist for a few days. I ususally let the baked batter cool in the tin and cut it when it's completely cooled right before I serve the brownies. It's much easier to slice this way.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Chocolate Orange Marble Cake

Marble cake used to be my favourite cake when I was a little girl. To me, my grandmother made the best marble bundt cake in the world! She always told me that grandpa helped to make it, too. His task was to whisk through the cake batter with the fork to create the marble pattern.

I still love marble cake although I hardly ever bake it myself. If I bake it, I look for a recipe that is a little different in order to make the good old marble cake a bit fancier. I really liked this one because the orange gives it a fresh touch.

(from Betty Bossi: "Kuchen, Cakes und Torten")

150g butter, soft
225g sugar
5 egg yolks
350g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
180g sour cream

1 orange, grated zest
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (I used orange juice)
100g dark chocolate, melted

5 egg whites
a pinch of salt
a pinch of baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a 30cm baking tin with parchment paper.

Beat butter with a hand mixer until creamy. Add sugar and egg yolks and beat until the batter gets a brighter color. Sift flour and baking powder and add. Add sour cream. Divide the batter into two halves.

Mix orange zest and Grand Marnier with one half. Mix molten chocolate with the other.

Beat egg whites, salt and baking powder. Then add sugar and beat a little longer. Divide into two halves and mix with the two cake batters.

Fill chocolate batter into the tin first and then add orange batter. Whisk through it with a fork to create a marble pattern.

Bake for about 70 minutes. (With my oven, 60 minutes were enough.)

1.5dl orange juice
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier (I left that out.)
50g icing sugar

Mix and pour over the slightly cooled cake. Leave the cake in the baking tin until it's cooled. This way, it can soak up the orange-sugar-juice. It will keep it moist and fresh.

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