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A while ago in my post I told you about a Monday morning when I woke up as usual, followed my morning routines, and then realized I’m having a free day from work!
While I went back to bed me and S talked about the day that was starting, and he draw me a riddle. I’m not sure how this is called in English, but in Finnish as well as in Portuguese that particular word riddle is called “gallows”. Sounds brutal, yes, but the idea is to give the other person the amount of letters there are in the words, and she has to guess what those words are by asking, one at the time, if the words contain certain letters. If they do, the riddler adds the letter into the words. If they don’t, the riddler draws one piece of a gallows next to the words. The aim is for the player to guess the words before the gallows is ready and she is “hanged”.
You have this game too? I’m curious! At least it was known is Finland as well as in Brazil, even with the same name, so I guess it’s rather universal.
Anyway, my words in the game were _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _. And for some reason (maybe I was too tired) I didn’t get it right! The words were of course “chocolate cake”, which S wanted me to bake as for once I had time.
He spent his evening in a Finnish course (which by the way now ended and he did so well in the exam!) and I spent mine baking not a cake but a chocolate tart. I found two recipes, that I put together. The originals can be found here and here.
The Gourmet.com recipe for the filling says it should be chilled in a fridge for hours before serving, but we couldn’t wait and ate (+ photographed) it immediately when it was cooled.
Just a word of warning before I give you the recipe. Bake this tart to share it with a bunch of people. Otherwise you will eat it all by yourself.
Sinful Chocolate Truffle Tart
For the chocolate pastry:
5 dl all-purpose flour
1,5 dl cocoa powder
2 dl minus 2 tablespoons caster sugar
160 g butter, diced
(pinch of salt if you used unsalted butter)
For the chocolate truffle filling:
300g good-quality bitter-sweet chocolate, chopped
100g unsalted butter, diced
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
100 ml heavy cream
0,5 dl caster sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Prepare the pastry.
Place flour, cocoa, sugar, salt and butter in a bowl of food processor and process until fine as breadcrumbs. Add eggs and process until it holds together.
Turn onto a lightly floured board and gently knead until smooth. Shape into a thick disc and cover with plastic wrap. Place in fridge for 10 minutes to rest.
Line a bottom of a springform pan with baking paper. Lightly rub the sides with butter. I suggest you use a springform pan with removable sides because this tart is easier and prettier to serve like that. I used a 22 cm diameter pan.
Roll out pastry on a floured surface into about 5mm thickness. Place it in the pan so that the sides rise about 4cm.
Let it rest in the fridge while you preheat your oven to 175 C°.
Line pastry with baking paper, fill with beans or pie weights and bake for 10 minutes. Take it out, remove beans, and bake again for more 5 minutes or until firm. Set aside and let cool.
Prepare the filling.
Melt chocolate and butter in a bain marie over a saucepan filled 1/3 with water, over medium heat. Constantly stir until smooth, then remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
Whisk together eggs, cream, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a bowl. Whisk chocolate mixture into egg mixture until combined well.
Pour filling into cooled crust and rap pan once on counter to eliminate any air bubbles. Bake until filling 1 inch from edge is set and slightly puffed but center trembles slightly when pan is gently shaken, 20 to 25 minutes. (Center will continue to set as it cools.)
Cool tart completely in the pan, about 2 hours. Chill, uncovered, until center is firm, at least 4 hours. Remove sides of the pan and sprinkle with cocoa to serve.
Last night my friends arranged a wonderful cocktail party at their place. All the guests were dressed up in their best outfits, there was a wide range of drinks, and what’s the best, a wide range of lovely cocktail bites. I still don’t know how many days my friend has used in preparing all that, but I assume MANY.
The best things I got to taste there was a cracker with apricot and miso jam, and a chocolate tart with pistachio halva and sesame salt. I really have to try these out myself too!
In a manner of fact, I had promised to help in cooking something for the party. What happened was that I got a mild food poisoning from something I ate on Friday, so I was not feeling very good yesterday. Bravely I still started to prepare the red chard mini quiches I had promised, but what eventually happened was that they got stuck in my cupcake pan and broke. Almost all of them. So that was it. Luckily I had still half of the dough as well as the filling left, so I decided just to make a traditional quiche and bring it to the party.
Cut in small bits it was almost as nice as the individual mini quiches would have been!
Red Chard, Cheddar and Lemon Quiche
Basic pie crust:
125g butter (salted)
3dl all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons ice cold water
For the filling:
bunch of red chard, washed and stems cut off
1 tablespoon olive oil
small bunch of rocket, washed
200ml heavy whipping cream
200g creme fraiche
3 large eggs
100g yellow cheddar, grated
50g parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon lemon peel, finely grated
salt and black pepper to taste
Prepare the crust. Using your fingertips, work together butter and flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Quickly mix in the ice cold water, form into a ball and refrigerate while you make the filling.
Roughly chop chard and rocket. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and sautée chard for 30 seconds. Set aside.
Mix together cream and creme fraiche. Whisk in the eggs, cheeses, lemon peel and rocket.
Preheat the oven to 200C°. Cover the base of a springform pan with baking paper and grease the sides with butter.
Take the dough from the fridge. On a floured surface, roll it out into a round slightly bigger than the diameter of your pan.
Place the rolled dough in the pan so that it covers the bottom and about 1/3 up the sides. Pour the filling on the crust, top with sauteed chard and bake about 30 minutes or until golden.
“You have the fattest recipes of all…and soon also the fattest friends.” That was my friends reaction to the brownies I baked yesterday. They were originally meant for my friend’s baby shower, but (surprisingly…) I was so tired after the week at work that I had to skip the party. So that meant, that all the brownies were for me and S to eat! That sounds like a not-so-good idea, so I decided to give some for my friends to try too.
I love brownies, so for me these were not that ultimate. If you’re afraid of calories, then you should not try these out. I think I have written that sentence in some previous post too, haha. Seems like it’s basically impossible for me to cook/bake super healthy stuff. I will try harder, now when I also have less time to go to the gym (because of my work shifts)!
These brownies were a hit on my birthday party, and they will be a hit on your party too. The basic brownie recipe I took from my previous post (my fav brownies, always work) and doubled the amount. The inspiration for baking I got from Bakers Royale. Just take a look at their incredible photos! My photos aren’t very complementary, as I only now realize it’s not good to shoot brown on brown. Next time better!
Snickers Cheesecake Brownies
For the brownies:
250g bittersweet chocolate
1,5dl caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt (leave this out if you use salted butter)
2 large eggs
2,5dl all-purpose flour
For the cheesecake layer:
400g cream cheese
1dl confectioners sugar
+ 4 Snickers chocolate bars
Prepare brownies: Chop the chocolate and butter and place them in a metal bowl over boiling water (bain marie). Stir frequently until the mixture has melted. Remove from the heat and mix in sugar, vanilla and salt. Let cool.
Using an electric mixer, mix the eggs one at the time into the chocolate mixture. When incorporated, mix in the flour and beat with a wooden spoon until the dough is shiny and smooth, about one minute.
Preheat the oven to 200 C.
Grease your small(ish) brownie (or other) pan with butter. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 20 minutes.
While the brownies are in the oven, prepare an ice bath (cold water + ice cubes) in your kitchen sink. After 20 minutes remove brownies from the oven and place the whole pan in the water bath to cool.
Prepare cheesecake layer: Mix all the ingredients together using an electric mixer. Pour the mixture on the cooled brownie and put back to the oven for another 20-25 minutes or until the cheesecake looks cooked and firm.
Let cool and then press the chopped Snickers into the cheesecake layer.
Hummus has been one of my favorite things to prepare for almost any occasion since I lived in Berlin for 8 months and got to eat a lot, and a lot of Lebanese food. Usually the chicken schawarmas and falafels in pita bread were accompanied by tahini sauce, but sometimes you were lucky to get some hummus too. Hummus is rich in flavor, in nutrition and childishly simple to prepare. You can dip various kinds of stuff in it to create delicious combinations - most traditionally of course pita bread.
I ran into different variations of hummus lately, as I’ve been actively browsing Pinterest. My typical hummus includes the basic ingredients, chickpeas, tahini, garlic and lemon, and often also sun-dried tomatoes. I find them almost unbeatable in hummus! But I wanted to try something else for change, and there came the idea of this one, sweet potato hummus. The recipe I took from Martha Stewart. I still keep preparing my favorite hummus with tomatoes, but this was actually very fresh, delicious and sweet, too.
I also baked my own pita bread, for the first time, and they became quite okay. I highly recommend, as they’re super easy to make and cost you much less than buying them from the market. I got the recipe from a Finnish super popular food blog, you can find the original here.
Sweet Potato Hummus
450g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed, or equal amount boiled chickpeas
juice of one lemon
3 heaping tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 garlic clove, chopped
sweet paprika powder
Set a steamer basket in a large pot. Fill with enough water to come just below basket and bring to a boil. Add potatoes, cover and cook until tender, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Combine chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, oil, cumin, and garlic. Puree all the ingredients, including boiled sweet potatoes, in a food processor until smooth paste. I used a stick blender because I (still) don’t have a food processor. Thin the hummus with water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper and let cool.
Before serving, sprinkle with sweet paprika powder and top generously with olive oil. Serve with freshly baked pita bread.
Simple Pita Breads (makes 10-12)
300ml lukewarm water (or 42 C)
11g (one bag) dry active yeast
7-8dl all-purpose flour (I used a little less, maybe 6,5dl)
0,5 teaspoon salt
Mix the dry ingredients together and gradually add the warm water, kneading until the dough is almost chewy in its texture.
Let it stand in a warm place, covered with a kitchen towel until it has doubled in size. This takes usually around one hour, but keep sometimes even more.
On a floured surface, using a rolling pin, roll the dough into small, approximately 10-15cm diameter rounds. The thinner you roll them, the better the result as the pitas are supposed to form an air pocket inside them in the oven, and with too thick dough the upper part doesn’t rise properly. So make some effort in this.
Preheat the oven to 250C and let the pitas stand covered until the oven is hot. Bake the pitas for 3-5 minutes, depending on the oven. They should stay very light in color, so once they have puffed up, they are starting to be ready. Don’t over bake, otherwise they might end up being too hard to eat.
In my post of zucchini & tomato galettes I gave a hint that I was preparing myself a birthday cake which, when successful, would be THE cake of the decade. Well now the birthday party is over, and I can proudly tell you, that it was THE SH*T. It must have been the best cake I have ever stuck my spoon into. It got so many compliments from my guests that I didn’t have time to count.
In a nutshell: it was perfect.
Now, I am so sorry to provide to you these photos that really don’t do justice to the cake. The thing is, that the moment I finally got to put the cake on the table, cut it and photo shoot it, the sun was just setting, which can be seen in the pictures. After the first piece was cut, people attacked the cake so that just minutes after there was nothing left. I succeeded in saving one big piece in my fridge - which some hours later I saw a girl eating. So, I succeeded in saving a small piece in my fridge after that… Which, on the next day, I did my best in photographing. The quality of the pics is a pity mostly, because I really wished I could show you how amazing it was. Just for you to see, that you HAVE to give it a try too! But now you just have to take my word: do yourself a favor and prepare this cake.
A couple of words about the inspiration and the process of doing the cake. First of all, the cake is a combination of several recipes I found. The recipe for the fudgy brownie base was taken from Sugar Duchess. It was by far the best cake base I have ever come across. The execution of it had some set-back though, as it’s baked in a water bath in the oven, and my cake pan leaked water in. So my brownie base was basically wet and broke in pieces when I took it out of the pan. So you might wanna line your pan very properly with aluminium foil before baking.
Cracking of the brownie wasn’t too harmful, as the toppings saved the situation perfectly. I especially loved the chocolate mousse recipe found from Delicious Magazine, as it didn’t require gelatin. For some reason I’m not a big fan of gelatin, and every time I can avoid using it, I will. This mousse got perfectly firm after staying overnight in the fridge. A great choice was also the other topping, peanut butter mousse, for which I took the recipe from here. I made only half a portion of the original amounts, and that was more than enough for my 22cm diameter cake. Lastly, I decorated the cake with simple chocolate ganache and pieces of Snickers bar. In the end, the cake could actually be called a gigantic Snickers, as that’s how it tasted like.
Hope you enjoy, and please, tell me what you think after trying this!
Killer Fudge Brownie, Chocolate & Peanut Butter Mousse Cake
For the brownie base:
300g high-quality semisweet chocolate
4 large eggs, yolks and whites separated, room temperature
0,5dl + 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
120g butter, room temperature
For the chocolate mousse:
150ml double cream
225g semisweet chocolate
4 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
For the peanut butter mousse:
300g creamy peanut butter
250g cream cheese, room temperature
2,5dl powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I left this out)
250ml double cream, chilled cold
Prepare the brownie base. Preheat oven to 200 C. Place a rack in the middle of the oven and below it a deep baking sheet almost filled with water. Prepare a 22cm-24cm diameter spring form pan by lining the bottom with parchment paper and greasing the sides lightly with butter.
Chop the chocolate into small chunks and melt in a metal bowl on top of simmering water (bain marie). Set aside to wait.
Place the room-temperature egg whites in a large, grease-free mixing bowl with about a third of the sugar. Using an electric mixer, start beating on slow speed, gradually increasing the speed. Beat until the whites begin to look fluffy. Add the remaining sugar, salt, and vanilla, and continue to beat until the meringue is shiny.
Next, using a whisk, stir the soft butter into the melted chocolate until completely incorporated. Then whisk in the egg yolks (I used electric mixer). Using a wire whisk, fold half of the meringue into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the remaining meringue with a rubber spatula, being sure to mix in the heavier batter at the bottom of the bowl.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Place the cake in the oven. Bake for 26-28 minutes (for me it took 45 minutes to bake, so keep checking how it will be with your oven). The top will be shiny, and a cake tester inserted into the center will come out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool to room temperature. Refrigerate the cake for 1 hour, then run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a serving plate. Remove the bottom of the pan and the parchment paper circle, and replace the ring from the spring form around the cake; it will be the mold for the two mousses.
Make the chocolate mousse. Whip the cream and set aside. Melt the chocolate over a pan of gently simmering water. Remove from the heat once melted, beat in the egg yolks, then fold in the cream. Whisk the egg whites in a bowl to soft peaks, then fold into the chocolate mixture. Spoon evenly over the brownie base and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, well before serving time, prepare the peanut butter mousse. Using electric mixer, beat peanut butter and cream cheese in large bowl to blend. Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract and beat until well blended.
Using clean dry beaters, beat whipping cream in medium bowl until stiff peaks form; fold into peanut butter mixture in two additions. Spoon filling on top of the chocolate mousse and spread evenly. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
100g semisweet chocolate
100ml double cream
+ one Snickers bar
Bring double cream to a simmer in a medium heat. When lightly simmering, add chopped chocolate. Once the chocolate starts to melt, remove from the heat and stir until fully incorporated.
Garnish the cake with slightly cooled ganache and chopped Snickers.
Happy Birthday to me!!! Today is the day, my 30th birthday, the reason of a smallish crisis that I’ve been struggling with for the past days. I mean, on the other hand it’s great to be 30! Most of my closest friends have already crossed that line. S also turned 30 earlier this year. It’s great! But on the other hand, should I have achieved certain things by now? I haven’t. I don’t have my own house/apartment, I don’t have kids, I haven’t graduated from the university, I don’t have a steady job… I have my life, and my freedom, and sometimes I love it and sometimes I wish things were slightly different. But I haven’t got the things that 10 years ago I thought I would have by the time I’m 30 years old.
Last night I almost cried when going to sleep, and I don’t even know why. Maybe because just when the day changed at midnight S dropped an expensive plate I’ve had for years and it broke in half, lol. Maybe because I didn’t know how I would feel tomorrow (today). Maybe because I was hoping the big day would be something very special, and I couldn’t handle the thought that anyway, it was going to be just an ordinary day. I was going to be just one day older. And that’s it. Life doesn’t stop, but continues.
This is not a blog for a self-search, but these things just now seemed important to let out. I also have some foodish stuff for you! Last night I used for baking to my small birthday party I’m gonna hold today. The bigger one will take place on early June, as most of my best friends live in a different city with me at the moment. I’m moving back to Helsinki by then, so that’s also a good reason to party. So, last night I started with my birthday cake, which I hope will be totally fab! I also baked some savory stuff, of which these galettes were maybe the nicest new thing for me!
The wonderful crust recipe is from Smitten Kitchen (I had a taste of the dough, but didn’t get to eat the ready galette yet!). I doubled the amounts to make two galettes, one with zucchini, one with tomatoes. The original recipe inspired me to use zucchini, but otherwise I modified the filling to my own taste. Also the filling is for two galettes. Here it goes.
EDIT: Now after the party I can tell the galettes were absolutely amazing. They collected a lot of compliments and even one marriage proposal (from a friend, though), haha!
Four Cheese Galettes with Zucchini and Tomatoes (makes 2)
For the pastry:
6dl all-purpose flour, chilled in refrigerator for 30 minutes
half a teaspoon salt
225g butter, cubed and chilled again
1,25dl sour cream
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1,25dl ice cold water
For the filling:
1 big zucchini, sliced crosswise
2 large tomatoes, sliced
handful of sweet cherry tomatoes, sliced
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 big or 2 small cloves garlic, finely chopped
250g smooth ricotta
50g parmesan cheese, finely grated
200g feta cheese, finely crumbled
100g mozzarella di Bufala, shredded
a few springs fresh thyme & fresh basil leaves
salt & black pepper to taste
1 egg yolk + 2 tablespoons water, for brushing
Prepare the dough. Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Sprinkle bits of butter over dough and by using your hand work it until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with the biggest pieces of butter the size of tiny peas.
In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add this to the butter-flour mixture. With your fingertips or a wooden spoon, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Prepare the filling. Spread the zucchini out over several layers of paper towels. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and let drain for 30 minutes; gently blot the tops of the zucchini dry with paper towels before using.
In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil and the garlic together; set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, Parmesan, feta cheese, and 2 teaspoon of the garlicky olive oil together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Prepare the galettes. Preheat oven to 200 C.
On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into two 30-35 cm rounds. Transfer to baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Spread half of the shredded mozzarella on both galette dough rounds. Then spread half of the ricotta-feta mixture evenly over both of the galette doughs, leaving a 4 cm border.
Shingle the zucchini attractively on top of the other galette, in concentric circles, starting at the outside edge. Spread the tomatoes on the other one. Drizzle the remaining two tablespoons of the garlic and olive oil mixture evenly over the veggies. Fold the borders over the filling, pleating the edge to make them fit. The center will be open. Brush crust with egg yolk glaze.
Bake the galettes until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with fresh herbs (I used basil and thyme), let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate.
Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.
Finnish people love public holidays (who wouldn’t). That means you don’t need to go to work and even better, you can spend the previous night drinking and celebrating. One of the best opportunities for this, alongside of New Year’s Eve and Midsummer Fest, is May Day (in Finnish “Vappu”, also known as Walpurgis Night in English). The actual May Day, 1st of May is celebrated as Labour Day, but the night before has a more steady position as a carnival night to gather on the streets to have fun. Vappu is also a Finnish way to receive the first spring days, even though it’s often still freezing cold outside that time! This year we at least had some sun and that’s basically enough to get people on the streets.
Foodwise Vappu is also special, and has its specific features. The traditional Finnish Vappu drink is called “sima”. It’s basically made of water, sugar, yeast and lemon (raisins are often also added) and let to ferment for about a week before drinking. My mum used to do that every year when I was a kid, but I’ve been a bit too lazy to prepare it in the past years. Finns usually like to have a big brunch picnics during the May Day, where traditionally are served for example potato salad (very good and simple recipe coming up), wieners and picked herrings, or a mayo/creme fraiche based salad made of it.
One inevitable thing in the Finnish Vappu table is “munkki”, a local version of doughnut. The dough of this type of doughnut is slightly different from the American doughnut, for instance. It’s also the most typical way to top them is by rolling them in fine sugar, rather than using a glazing of some sort. Sometimes munkkis are a ring shape, sometimes little balls and sometimes filled with either jam or some other sweet filling. The habit of baking Vappu doughnuts I also learned from my mother, as she always prepared them at home.
The recipe I’m sharing here is originally from an inspiring Finnish baking blog, and it’s a good basic recipe for this sort of doughnuts. I didn’t fill my doughnuts for the reason that I don’t have a proper tool for that, but would definitely do that if I had!
Finnish May Day Doughnuts (makes 16-18)
100g butter, melted
250ml milk, hand temperature
25g fresh yeast or 11g active dry yeast (I personally think the dough raises better and you get spongier doughnuts with fresh yeast)
100ml caster sugar
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
800ml all-purpose flour
700ml-900ml canola oil
superfine sugar (I used regular caster sugar but you get better results with sugar that has smaller granules)
Prepare the dough. If you use dry yeast, mix it together with flour and set aside to wait. If you use fresh yeast, sprinkle it into the warm milk and stir until dissolved.
Add in sugar, salt, cardamom and egg. Whisk until incorporated. Start adding the flour (or the flour-yeast mixture if you use dry yeast), 150ml at the time, and mix well always before adding the next portion. You can use a mixer here if you have one, I only used a wooden spatula in the beginning and woman power later when the dough started to become thicker. When you still have some flour left, mix in the melted butter and after that rest of the flour.
You should now have nice and elastic dough, that is by no means too stiff. Let it rest in a warm place under a kitchen towel for about 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
When your dough has raised enough, let the fun part begin! On a floured working surface divide the dough in two and divide both halves in 8 or 9 about same sized parts. With floured hands roll each piece into a nice ball. Fill with jam or cream custard etc., using a proper filling tool, if you wish. If you prefer to have your doughnuts in ring shape, gently roll each piece between your hands into 2cm thick “bars” and tightly put the ends together.
Let the ready doughnuts rest another 15 minutes under a kitchen cloth before deep-frying.
Heat up the canola oil in a thick bottom saucepan or a cast iron pot on a medium heat. The ideal temperature for the oil is 180 C. You can test the temperature with a thermometer but also by placing a small piece of white bread into the oil. If it gets golden in 10 seconds but does not burn, the temperature is right. Too cold oil sinks your doughnuts on the bottom of the pan and too hot oil burns them before they get cooked inside.
Carefully place 2-3 doughnuts into the hot oil. They should immediately get up to the surface. If not, your oil is too cold. Take the doughnuts out, let the oil get slightly warmer and try again. When the doughnuts are cooked and golden brown from the other side, carefully flip them over to cook the other side. A smallish size doughnut should cook ready in 1-2 minutes.
Cover a bowl with paper towels and lift the ready doughnuts there to get rid of the excess oil in them. The best tool for this is a kitchen skimmer. Right when you can touch the doughnut with your hand move it into a bowl with superfine sugar, and roll to entirely cover.
Serve the doughnuts fresh, they are the best on a same day when baked.