Saturday, June 29, 2013

Apricot Tartlets with Pine Nuts

Apricots probably are my favorite summer fruit. Sadly, I have never been able to eat raw stone fruit without getting a stomach ache. I can only eat them if they're cooked. That means, once they're transformed into a cake, it's no problem anymore. That's why, in summer, apricot cakes usually make an appearance on my dessert plate more than only once. Here comes a wonderful tart recipe with a vanilla-flavored filling. The pine nuts could also be substituted by almonds, but I suggest you go with the pine nuts! I love their flavor and it's a really nice variation of the usual apricot-almond combo.

(from the lovely Fräulein Klein's "Die wunderbare Welt von Fräulein Klein")

30g pine nuts (you can also use ground almonds)
100g cold butter
70g icing sugar
1 egg
200g flour
1/2 vanilla pod

100g white chocolate
250g crème fraiche
100g cream
1/2 vanilla pod
2 tablespoons sugar

400g apricots, washed, cut into slices
1 Tablespoon sugar
20g pine nuts

1 egg yolk

For the tart dough (if you're to lazy to do that, you can use store-bought): Roast the pine nuts (30g) and grind. Alternatively, you can use ground almonds. Put ground pine nuts, flour and seeds of the vanilla pod in a bowl and mix. Add egg, cold butter and icing sugar. You can either form a dough using your hands or - as I usually do - using a food processor. Form the dough into a ball, cover in cling film and refrigerate for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Prepare either a 24cm diameter tart tin or about 8 little tart tin. I used aluminium tins which you don't have to line with parchment paper or grease with butter or anything. Roll out your dough until about 3mm thick. Line your tins with the dough. Put the tins back in the refrigerator until you have the filling ready.

Melt the white chocolate over a hot water bath. Beat cream together with the seeds of the other half of the vanilla pod. Put crème fraiche into a bowl together with the sugar and mix until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and mix. Then, fold in the cream. Fill your tart shells.

Spread your apricot slices on the tartlets and brush with egg yolk around the edge. Scatter some sugar over the tartlets. Bake for 20 minutes. After ten minutes, scatter the pine nuts over the tartlets and bake for another 10 minutes.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monster Cookies

After three weeks, I already feel pretty comfortable in my new office. And guess what?! One of my office mates is a peanut butter addict, too! So, after about two or three days, Bettina and I found ourselves discussing this topic with great enthusiasm. Sure thing, PB cookies were going to be the next treat to bring along to the office! People keep asking me why these here are called "monster cookies" and frankly, I have no idea. I just figured, monster cookies are typically American, the main ingredients being peanut butter, oatmeal and colored chocolate candies. I used one of my good old PB cookie recipes and slightly adapted it to create my own monster cookies.

(adapted from The Weekend Baker by Agibail Johnson Dodge)

300g smooth peanut butter
160g brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
20g flour
60g old-fashioned rolled oats
150g Smarties (mini M&Ms would also work)

Line two baking trays with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

In a large bowl, combine peanut butter and sugar. Beat with an electric mixer on middle speed until well blended. Add the egg and the vanilla extract and mix until well blended. Pour in the flour and mix on low speed until well blended. Add the oats and the Smarties and fold in with a ladle.

Using a small ice-cream scoop or two tablespoons, scoop up rounded tablespoons full of the dough and, using your hands, shape into balls (about 4cm diameter - I made them a bit smaller). Arrange the cookies on the baking trays, leaving about 5cm space between them. Flatten them a little with your hand or a fork.

Bake one tray at a time until the cookies look dry on top, about 12 minutes. Take out of the oven and let cool on the tray for 10 minutes. Then, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 25 cookies. They can be stored in an airtight container in a cool place for about a week. You can also store them in the freezer for up to 3 months.

If you feel like it, you can decorate them with chocolate glaze after they have cooled down completely. You can use either store-bought glaze, or, over low heat, melt some chocolate (a bit less than 100g should do it) in a small saucepan and, with a teaspoon, drizzle over your cookies.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Muffins for the Bride

I can't believe Daniela is getting married next month! We've been talking about this for, what, more than a year now?! Yesterday was all about the bride. The motto of our hen party: the 50s. Dresscode: At least one piece of clothing had to be polka-dotted... Turns out: I don't have a single item with polka dots on it and I had absolutely no time for shopping in the past few weeks. But, as you can see, at least my muffins and mini-cakes totally conformed with the dresscode! Each of us girls had to bring homemade pastries so that our bride could sell them and make some money to cover our expenses. Actually, Daniela did a good job, we made quite a lot of cash! However, the bride struggled a bit with our "love test" (see pictures below), but, of course, we're letting her get married anyway ;-) Can't wait for the big day, Danny!

Pineapple, Coconut, Lime and Macadamia Muffins
(slightly adapted from Leila Lindholm's Backen mit Leila)

100g butter
200ml milk
2 eggs
120g sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar or vanilla extract
240g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 pinch of salt
1/2 fresh pineapple or canned pineapple, cut into pieces
100g desiccated coconut
grated zest of 3 limes
about 70g of macadamia nuts, roughly chopped

Makes about twelve muffins. I doubled this recipe and made 12 muffins and 12 mini-cakes.

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Line a muffin tray with paper cases.

Roast the desiccated coconut in a large pan. Pay attention here, it doesn't take long. Only roast until lightly brown.

Melt butter in a small pan. Then, mix with the milk and set aside. In a bowl, beat sugar, eggs and vanilla sugar. Mix with the butter-milk mixture. In another bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder. Mix with the wet ingredients. Add half of the desiccated coconut, the pineapple pieces, lime zest and half of the nuts. Mix until well combined. 

Fill the dough into the prepared paper cases. Sprinkle with the rest of the coconut and the nuts. Bake for about 25 minutes. Test whether they are done with a wooden skewer. If it comes out clean, take the muffins out of the oven. Let cool in the tray for a few minutes, then, transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

A big big THANK YOU goes to Sandy for organizing a wonderful day!

Test: failed ;-)

Monday, June 03, 2013

Cream Cheese Brownies Reloaded

First day in my new office. Well, that's the thing if you switch teams within the firm. Of course, my new colleagues already knew about my passion for baking. So I thought about what to bring along today in order to live up to the expectations. Cream cheese brownies! After all, they are my secret weapon and the answer to everything. Still, I always like to try and come up with new variations... remember these or these?! This time, I added some nectarine slices and spices. Here it comes, another version of my beloved cream cheese brownies which just did the trick.

(adapted from: Myriam Zumbühl - Kochen mit Myriam)

125g dark chocolate
125g butter
2 eggs
200g sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or one sachet of vanilla sugar
75g flour
1 pinch of salt

200g cream cheese (e.g. Philadelphia)
1 egg yolk
1 sachet vanilla sugar
a large pinch of ground cinnamon
a pinch of ground ginger

1-2 nectarines, cut into thin slices

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Line a brownie tin (18x23cm) with parchment paper.

In a bowl, mix cream cheese, egg yolk, vanilla sugar, cinnamon and ground ginger.

Over low heat, melt butter and chocolate in a little pan and let cool a bit. Beat sugar and the eggs until pale and fluffy. Add vanilla sugar. Add the molten chocolate and mix well. Sieve in flour and salt and mix. Once the batter is smooth, pour into your prepared brownie tin.

Scatter cream cheese batter onto that with a spoon. With a fork, spread the batter a little and create swirls so that you get a marble effect. Spread the nectarine slices onto the batter.

Put into the oven and bake for about 20 - 25 minutes until the top is crispy and shiny but the inside is still moist. Let cool and then, cut into slices.

I doubled the recipe above.

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