Saturday, December 28, 2013

Orange and Cranberry Muffins

I've got one more for you before this year ends! I hope you had a few relaxing days and a happy feast with your loved ones. After having spent two days with my family, I came home again on the 26th - only to bake a batch of muffins and to head over to Evelyn where I spent a wonderful afternoon/evening with her and her two lovely sisters, sitting on her cozy sofa, chatting, watching movies, cooking and eating together. Our very diverse TV program: First, we watched a documentary about the Klitschko brothers which we thought is extremely well done and very insightful. We all totally agreed that, after having seen this movie, you almost can't help but fall in love with those two big guys just a teeny tiny bit, whether you like boxing or not. Second, we watched Julie & Julia which is a movie very dear to my heart. Meryl Streep as Julia Child is just plain fantastic! Definitely a movie for all the foodies out there - but not just for them.

Well, guys, this is it - I'm going to take a little break from baking (it's probably not going to take that long) and see you in 2014! And now, guess what, guess what?! I'm going to take my very first ballet lesson! I've been dreaming of doing that for ages, but the thought that I'm much too tall for this has kept me from it so far. But I've decided that it's time to go for it now - so I'm going to dance my way into 2014. Wishing you guys a good start! Love, Katrin

(slightly adapted from my good old Piece of Cake by Leila Lindholm)

for 12 muffins:
100g butter
200ml milk
zest of one lemon
zest of two oranges
2 eggs
120g sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar or vanilla extract
240g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 pinch of salt
100g dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 200°C and line muffin tray with paper cases.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Then, add milk and lemon and orange zest. Set aside and let cool a little.

In a large bowl, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla sugar with an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the lukewarm milk mixture. 

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and add to your dough. Mix until well incorporated but don't overdo it. Add the cranberries, mix again.

Fill the dough into your muffin cases (only until they are filled to about two thirds) and bake for about 25 minutes. Check with a wooden skewer whether they are done.

Let cool in the pan for a few minutes. Then, release the muffins and let cool on a wire rack.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

No more cookie recipes today - just a thank you to all my readers, to my friends and my family. Your support means a lot to me. It's been quite a year, hasn't it?! Many people I talk to confirm that, for them, too, 2013 has been rather intense. It's been about figuring out where you stand, where you want to go - probably also what you have to leave behind in order to be able to move forward. I very much look forward to 2014 and to whatever it might bring. One thing, however, I know for sure: There's going to be cake! But first, I wish you guys a very merry Christmas and all the best for the new year! Lots of love, Katrin

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

When I was making these cookies today, Nadina called to ask me whether I wanted to have coffee with her. I'd like that, I said, but I would have to finish my cookies first. We met at a cafe later and I brought some cookies as a present for her and her boyfriend Matthias. We had a good laugh when Nadina told me that Matthias had said that he would bet that I was making something with peanut butter when she had told him that I was baking Christmas cookies. Well, you know... guilty as charged. Here comes this year's Christmas treat for the addict.

(Original recipe in German: here)

100g soft butter
150g peanut butter (I used crunchy)
150g sugar
1 large egg
220g flour

For the decoration: 
store bought dark chocolate glaze
nonpareilles or chocolate sprinkles

In a bowl, mix butter and peanut butter with an electric hand mixer until soft. Then, add sugar and beat until combined. Add the egg and beat. When all is well combined, sift in the flour. Beat with the electric mixer first, then knead with your hands. Form a ball, flatten a little and cool in de refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line two baking trays with parchment paper. Roll out the dough until about 4mm thick. Cut out cookies. Put the cookies on your tray and bake for about ten minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

When the cookies have cooled completely, decorate with chocolate glaze and chocolate sprinkles or nonpareilles… Whatever you feel like. I melted the chocolate glaze according to the instructions on the packaging and brushed the glaze onto the cookies. Then, I covered the cookies with chocolate sprinkles.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Apricot Cinnamon Cookies

I still tend to overbake cookies. At least one batch every Christmas. Even if I always tell you to watch your cookies closely, especially towards the end of the suggested baking time, and to take them out of the oven rather sooner than later (e.g. in this case as soon as the edges turn golden brown) I manage to mess up a batch of cookies myself every now and then. Taking cookies out of the oven at the right moment is a tricky business. You always have to consider that they keep getting firmer after you've taken them out of the oven. If you leave them in the oven too long, they will be too firm after they have cooled down. Thank God this recipe here yielded enough dough for about three baking trays full of cookies, so I had enough cookies left after letting the first batch turn much too brown. I think, these here are my favorite this year.

(once again from the lovely Weihnachten mit Fräulein Klein)

250g flour
100g ground almonds
100g icing sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar
60g dried apricots, cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk
200g cold butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons brandy (I use an apricot liquor)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 sachet vanilla sugar
80g icing sugar

In a large bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon and icing sugar. Add ground almonds and vanilla sugar, then the apricot pieces and the egg yolk. With your hands, knead until you have a smooth dough. Form a ball, flatten a little, wrap in cling film an cool in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. On a floured surface, roll the dough out until about 3mm thick. Cut out your cookies with a cookie cutter and arrange on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 10 minutes. Take out of the oven, take away from the hot baking tray immediately and let cool on a wire rack.

When the cookies have cooled down, mix water with brandy and cinnamon. Add icing sugar and vanilla sugar. Mix until you have a smooth glaze, there shouldn't be any lumps. Brush onto your cookies and let dry.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


These little cuties here where a goodbye present for Liliane. I promised her to bake something especially for her before she is going to leave. With some people, I instantly know what kind of cake or pastry I want to bake for them and for Liliane, I thought, these little cheesecakes would be just perfect. When I brought them over to her office on Monday morning, she smiled at me and said that she loves cheesecake. "Well, everyone does." I said to her. "Can't go wrong with cheesecake." And it's true - I hardly know anyone who would turn down a piece of cheesecake. I loved the idea of baking little cheesecakes in a muffin pan. And, tell you what, if you buy the dough instead of making it yourself, these cheesecakes won't take up much of your time. Add a dollop of jam. The cream is easily whipped up. And there you go. Depending on the season, you can fill them with different sorts of jam or add some spices.

(from Weihnachten mit Fräulein Klein)

180g flour
50g ground almonds
50g icing sugar
120g cold butter

12 teaspoons jam (any kind you like, I used cherry jam)

350g cream cheese (e.g. Philadelphia)
100ml condensed milk
70g sugar
1 vanilla pod
1 egg
2 teaspoons flour

icing sugar and cocoa powder for decorating

Makes 12 mini-cheesecakes.

For the dough, sift flour, almonds and icing sugar into a bowl. Add the cold butter in cubes and knead until you have a smooth dough. Form a ball, flatten a little, wrap in cling film and cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

You can, of course, also just use store bought dough like I did this time because I was too lazy to make my own dough.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Roll out your dough until about 4mm thick and cut out circles of about 9cm diameter. If you have spare dough, cut out stars or hearts or whatever motive you like with a smaller cookie cutter.

Grease a muffin pan and line each mould with a strip of parchment paper which overlaps the mould. You will have less troubles releasing the cheesecakes from the mould after baking. Line each mould with a dough-circle and prick the bottom with a fork. Put in the refrigerator or outside in the cold.

For the filling, mix cream cheese, condensed milk, sugar, scraped out seeds of the vanilla pod, egg and flour until you have a smooth batter.

Fill a teaspoon of jam into each cheesecake-bottom. Then, fill with the cream. Bake for about 30 minutes. Bake your little cookies also, but remember that they will be finished after a few minutes and that you have to take them out earlier. Dust them with cocoa powder and leave to cool. 

After about 30 minutes, take out your cheesecakes. Let cool a little. Then, release from the muffin pan. You can lift them out of the moulds by pulling on the ends of your parchment paper-strips. Dust with icing sugar before serving and decorate with your little cookies.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Chai Crescents

Okay, let's get down to cookie-business. First up: Chai crescents - a spicier version of the classic and always popular vanilla crescents. I spotted those in Fräulein Klein's wonderful Christmas baking book which is a colorful treasure chest full of festive sweet recipes and cute ideas for Christmas decoration. These cookies here are rather easy to make. Just pay attention that you handle the hot crescents carefully when you roll them in your icing sugar mixture as they tend to break apart.

(from Weihnachten mit Fräulein Klein)

70ml milk
4 bags of chai-tea (for example Yogi tea)
100g ground almonds
250g flour
80g icing sugar
1/2 vanilla pod
150g cold butter

To cover the cookies:
5 tablespoons icing sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 sachet vanilla sugar

First, heat up the milk in a small saucepan. Then, take away from the heat, add the 4 teabags and allow to infuse for about 30 minutes. Remove the teabags and let the milk cool down completely.

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together flour and icing sugar. Mix with the ground almonds and the scraped out seeds of the vanilla pod. Add the cold butter in pieces and the chai-milk. With your hands, bring together to a smooth dough. Form a ball, flatten a bit, wrap in clingfilm and allow to cool outside or in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

After an hour, take the dough out, cut into 3 equal pieces and form equal rolls from it. Cut these into smaller or bigger pieces, depending on how big you want the cookies to be. Bend the rolls into crescents and place on your baking tray.

Bake for about 10 minutes (they should not turn brown!). When you take them out of the oven, dredge in a mixture of icing sugar, cinnamon and vanilla sugar while still hot, but do that carefully, otherwise the crescents will fall apart! Let cool on a rack.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Cinnamon and Cranberry Granola

No time for baking last weekend. But tell you what?! When I came to the office yesterday morning, I found a box on my desk - filled with wonderful Christmas treats! Nina, my boss's wife, had obviously made sure that I get to try a little bit of everything she and her kids had baked the past weekend. It was delicious, let me tell you! Next to the fact that this made me really happy, it also made me realize that I am evidently totally behind with my Christmas baking. Anyway, I'll hopefully get to that next weekend. In the meantime, I have a nice idea for a homemade Christmas present for you guys. Of course, you can modify this recipe according to your taste, but I think, for Christmas time, cinnamon and cranberries really fit. It looks really cute filled into little jam glasses with a ribbon on them, for instance. The good thing is that this is a real no-fuss recipe which won't take up much of your time. I mean, since we've all got enough on our hands this time of year already.


300g rolled oats
70g pumpkin seeds
50g pecans, chopped
50g hazelnuts, chopped
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon, depending on your own taste
1 pinch of salt
100ml maple syrup
100g dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Mix all the ingredients, except the cranberries, in a large bowl. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Spread the mixture on the baking tray. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 20-25 minutes. Mix it through with a ladle every five minutes or so, so that is gets evenly toasted. Then, when it's golden brown, take it out of the oven. Let cool a little, then add the cranberries and mix. Let cool thoroughly before filling the mixture into an air-tight jar.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Hot Chocolate

As promised lately, I've got this wonderful hot chocolate recipe for you. Of course, you can adjust the quantity of spices according to your own taste... or add a pinch of chilli, for instance. Just the thing to warm you up these days.

(from my friend Andrea)

for a 2.5dl mug

1 large pinch of ground cinnamon
1 large pinch of ground ginger
1 large pinch of ground cardamom
1/4 vanilla pod and scraped out seeds
about 20g dark chocolate, that's about 5-6 pieces of a 100g-bar (I like to use 72%)

Together with all the ingredients, heat up the milk (you can also use soy or rice milk of course), stir until the chocolate has melted and then bring it to a boil twice (if you stir the milk well with a whisk while it is heating up, you get a bit of froth). Pour into your mug. Enjoy! 

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Gingerbread Cupcakes

It's the first of December - time to let the Christmas baking begin! I'm of course already trying to figure out what kind of cookies I'm going to bake. And, as usual, there's going to be a special cake for our family Christmas dinner. But, first things first... I'm always trying to take it easy during these December weeks when everyone tends to get stressed out. Which is why, right now, I'm spending a relaxing weekend at mum's. I took my laptop with me, however, so I won't have to deprive you of these lovely little treats here. Cupcake meets gingerbread. For these, I used a store-bought gingerbread spice-mixture (for all of you from Switzerland: I like the one from Migros) and the basic cupcake recipe comes from the always reliable and fabulous Cake Days.

(slightly adapted from Süsse Sünden by Tarek Malouf and the Hummingbird Bakery)

For the cupcakes:
80g soft butter
280g sugar
240g flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon gingerbread spice-mixture
2 eggs
240ml milk

Preheat the oven to 190°C (convection oven 170°C). Line a 12-mould muffin pan with paper cases.

In a bowl, mix butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, gingerbread spice-mixture and salt with a hand mixer on low speed until you have a “sandy” mass.

Mix eggs and milk. Slowly add about three fourths of this to your batter until it’s blended well. Scrape down the bowl with a ladle. Add the rest of the egg-milk-mixture and beat on middle speed with your electric hand mixer.

Fill the 12 paper cases (to about two thirds). If you have remaining dough, fill it into more paper cases (I ended up with 16 cupcakes). Bake the cupcakes in the middle of the oven for about 20 minutes until they have risen and the surface is springy. Test if they are done with a wooden skewer. If it comes out clean, your cupcakes are done.

Let cool in the pan for a few minutes. Then, release from the pan carefully and let cool completely.

(Scroll down for the frosting)

For the frosting:
500g icing sugar
160g very soft butter
50ml milk
1 large pinch of gingerbread spice-mixtue

In a bowl, mix icing sugar, gingerbread spice-mixture and butter with a hand mixer on low speed. Slowly add the milk while constantly beating. Then, beat on high speed until you have a light and fluffy batter. 

Spread the frosting onto your cupcakes. Sprinkle with spice-mixture if you like. Put the cupcakes in a cool place until you serve them.

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