Flourless Chocolate Cake with Caramel Almond Topping

I made this cake for my husband’s birthday. First I wanted to make his birthday favorite Julishka, but then I thought maybe this year I’d make something new and different. He likes chocolate and he also likes caramel, so what could really go wrong?!

I remembered a while ago I made a Black Forest Cake which didn’t require any flour, so I thought that would be a good start. I’ve changed a few things around: increased almond meal to 100 g and then substituted bread crumbs with organic shredded coconut.

I also remembered a cake my mom used to make with the almond caramel sauce, for which I don’t have a recipe, but thought I could recreate the sauce and pour over my chocolate cake. The cake turned out so much better than I hoped for. It has a nice texture, it’s moist and not too sweet at all. The sweetness of caramel fits really good with this cake and almonds give it a nice crunch. It’s definitely a winner!

Flourless chocolate cake with caramel almond topping

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Caramel Almond Topping

{Printable recipe}

Cake:

  • 8 eggs (divided)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 TBSP water
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.8 oz (50 g) dark cocoa
  • 3.5 oz (100 g) ground blanched almonds
  • 1.8 oz (50 g) organic shredded coconut

 Topping:

  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 6 TBSP (85 g) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream
  • 1 cup (150 g) roasted blanched almonds

 Preparation:

  1. Divide eggs and first beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until firm or when you turn the bowl upside down they don’t move. Set aside
  2. Now beat egg yolks, 1 whole egg, water and sugar until very pale yellow, add vanilla extract and cocoa. Make sure cocoa is well blended with eggs. Fold in almonds and coconut.
  3. At the end add egg whites and mix all together by hand until just incorporated.
  4. Pour into a round 8 inch (20 cm) cake spring form lined with parchment paper.
  5. Bake at 365 F (185 C) for about 30 minutes.
  6. While cake is baking roast your almonds until light brown and fragrant; set aside to cool.
  7. Remove the cake from the oven and cool completely and then make caramel topping.
  8. For the topping pour sugar into a heavy bottom pot and melt at a medium temperature. Have butter and cream handy.
  9. Once the melted sugar starts boiling add butter and cream at once. Lower the temperature and cook for another 5 minutes. Add roasted almonds and let it cool for about 5-10 minutes.
  10. As it cools caramel will become thicker. Pour over cake and serve. Keep the cake at the room temperature, or if keeping in the fridge remove 30-60 minutes before serving.

Bon Appetit!

Flourless chocolate cake prep 1

Flourless chocolate cake prep 2

Flourless chocolate cake prep 3

Flourless chocolate cake with caramel almond topping

Flourless chocolate cake with caramel almond topping

Flourless chocolate cake with caramel almond topping

Egg Foam Pie {Šampita}

Egg Foam Pie? I know it sounds weird, but that would be a literal translation for one of my favorite childhood desserts. All of my Bosnian friends know what I’m talking about here – šampita! 🙂

Šampita is one of many traditional Bosnian desserts. It’s been around for a very long time when fancy ingredients were not available and the most basic ingredients were used to make a dessert. It’s easy and quick to make. Bakeries usually make it with just a layer of puff pastry on the bottom, but this is a kind that’s made at home and it belongs to the category of sugar syrup soaked desserts, such as baklava, gulab jamun, etc. The cake part will soak up the syrup from the meringue and it will be moist and meringue is just sweet enough, fluffy with a hint of lemon.

To me, šampita tastes like childhood, like worry free days, like playing outside, picking flowers, and endless laughter and happiness.

Egg Foam Pie

Egg Foam Pie {Šampita}

[Printable recipe]

Ingredients:

  • 6 large eggs at room temperature (divided)
  • A pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • 6 TBSP sugar
  • 6 TBSP milk
  • 6 TBSP cooking oil
  • 6 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Syrup:

  • 24 TBSP (about 250 g) sugar
  • About 0.85 cup (2 dl) water

Also needed:

  • 9 X 13 inch baking pan 2 or 3 inches deep (22 X 23 X 5 cm)
  • Parchment paper
  • 2 oz chocolate (about 50 g)
  • 2 TBSP sour cream

Preparation:

  1. Divide eggs. Place egg whites into a large mixing bowl. Beat egg yolks with sugar until pale yellow, then add milk, oil and at the end flour combined with baking powder.
  2. Pour the batter into the baking pan covered with parchment paper and bake at 350 for about 10-15 minutes or until you notice edges starting to get lightly brown.
  3. While the cake is baking, add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and mix them at the highest speed. When they are done add lemon juice and mix some more. They are done when you turn the bowl upside down and they don’t move. Leave the egg whites in the bowl as you will have to add the syrup.
  4. While the meringue is in making, place sugar and water for the syrup into a small pot and bring it to boil. Let it boil for 2-3 minutes. Then remove from heat and slowly start pouring into the egg whites while they’re still at the highest speed. You will notice the volume of the mixture quickly increasing.
  5. Now the cake should be done too, so remove it from the oven and spread the meringue all over the cake. It doesn’t matter that it’s too hot. Spread evenly and smooth it out and place it in the oven for 2 – 3 minutes. Remove it from the oven and set it on the counter.
  6. If you wish, you can melt chocolate, combine with some sour cream and drizzle over the cake.
  7. Place it in the fridge and let it cool completely. Enjoy this moist, light and fluffy dessert.

Egg Foam Pie 1

 ♦

Egg Foam Pie

Egg Foam Pie

Egg Foam Cake

Egg Foam Cake

 

Bailey’s Chocolate Cheesecake Bars -aka- {Friendship Bars}

Hello Friends,

It’s been a while… I promise I didn’t forget about you! 🙂 I find it (just a bit hard) to be a baker and try to be on a weight-loss plan. Finally, I think I am figuring out how to have these two coexist, so I am back to doing what I love!

Idea for these chocolaty bars came at a moment which I like to refer to as “baking inspiration”. This recipe is my own creation and I dedicate it to all my good friends spread all over the world. Some of you I have known since childhood days, some of you are brand new friends, with some of you I have reconnected again and some of you I’ve met in this virtual world. All of you have brought a part of you and your world to share and I feel great deal richer and happier because of it. Here is to FRIENDSHIP!

Bailey's Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

 

Bailey’s Chocolate Cheesecake Bars aka {Friendship Bars}

[Printable recipe]

For the crust:

  •          12 TBSP (170 g) butter (softened)
  •          1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
  •          1 pack vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  •          2 egg yolks
  •          About  1/4 cup (50 ml) Bailey’s Irish Cream   ***Exact conversion: {50 ml = 0.21 cup}
  •          2 ½ cups (320 g) all-purpose flour
  •          1/4 tsp salt

 For the filling:

  •          4 of 8 oz packs (900 g) cream cheese
  •          1 cup (200 g) sugar
  •          2 pack vanilla sugar (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
  •          3 TBSP dark cocoa
  •          4 oz (113 g) semi-sweet chocolate (melted)
  •          1/2 cup (100 ml) heavy cream
  •          About ½ cup (100 ml) Bailey’s Irish Cream ***Exact conversion: {100 ml = 0.42 cup}
  •          4 eggs (lightly beaten)

For the topping:

  •          4 oz (113 g) semi-sweet chocolate (refrigerated and cut into chunks)
  •          3.5 oz (100 g) hazelnuts (coarsely chopped)

Also needed:

  •          13 X 8 inch (33 X 20 cm) baking pan (or larger)
  •          Parchment paper

Preparation:

 

  1. Beat butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy. Beat in Bailey’s, egg yolks, flour and salt. Press mixture into the bottom of a 13X8 inch (33X20 cm) baking pan, previously lined with parchment paper. If you desire thinner bars you may want to use a larger pan, but it needs to be at least 2 inches deep. My bars have turned out pretty thick because I’ve used 13X8 inch pan.
  2. For the filling beat cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and cocoa until smooth. Add melted chocolate, cream, Bailey’s and lightly beaten eggs. Pour the mixture over the crust.
  3. For the decoration cut chocolate into chunks and coarsely chop hazelnuts, sprinkle all over the top. Bake at 350 F (180 C) for about 40 minutes. Turn off the oven and let it set another 10 minutes inside. Cool completely, cut into bars and serve.

Bailey’s Chocolate Cheesecake Bars Baileys Chocolate Cheesecake Bars 1

 

Bailey's Chocolate Cheesecake Bars 2

 

Bailey's Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

 

Bailey's Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

 

Bailey's Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Hello my friends! I hope everyone is doing well; I missed you all! 🙂 I took an involuntary baking break while I was trying to complete some remodeling projects in the house before the winter gets here. I have not completely abandoned my artistic expression, I started two paintings and plan to finish them before the end of the year and I’ve discovered a new passion: poetry. I’ve always liked reading poetry, but have never tried to write anything. Well, a few weeks ago a “What if I tried” thought crossed my mind, so I started thinking and putting the words together and for now they sound very good to me. I am not sure if I am going to share it with the world yet, but I am sure of one thing: writing poetry brings me so much joy!

My hope is that these chocolate sandwich cookies will bring you joy of making and of course joy of tasting! They are a treasured recipe from my old-yellow-falling-apart recipe book that I started when I was about thirteen years young. These cookies are not too sweet. Cocoa gives them just a hint of gentle bitterness and the vanilla frosting just a right amount of sweetness.

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

[Printable recipe]

Cookies:

  • 250 g (8.8 oz) flour
  • 65 g (2.2 oz )powdered sugar
  • 50 g (1.8 oz) cocoa
  • 13 g (2.5 tsp) baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 185 g (6.5 oz) unsalted butter (room temperature)

Frosting:

  • 500 ml (2 cups) milk
  • 4 TBSP flour (or corn starch)
  • 150 g (5.3 oz) powdered sugar
  • 2 packs vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 160 g (5.6 oz) unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 egg yolk (optional)

Chocolate glaze:

  • 75 g (2.6 oz) semi-sweet chocolate
  • 50 g (1.8 oz) unsalted butter

Preparation:

  1. For the cookies, combine all dry ingredients and mix for a few minutes. Add egg and butter and mix on slow until resembles a crumbly mixture. Flour your working surface and knead the dough by hand until nice and smooth. Flatten it, cover with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  2. While the cookie dough rests in the fridge prepare the filling.
  3. Mix the flour with a couple of spoons of milk until smooth. Let the milk boil at a low temperature and pour the flour mixture into boiling milk. Whisk constantly until it starts thickening, then remove from heat and let it cool completely.
  4. In a mixing bowl combine butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix all together. You may add an egg yolk for a nice color, but it’s not essential. Now add this mixture to the flour base and whip it at high speed until well combined and fluffy.
  5. Now line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a floured surface roll out the cookie dough to about 1/2 cm (or 3/16 inch) thick and cut out cookies with a round cookie cutter (about 3-3.5 cm or 1 ¼ inch in diameter)
  6. Bake at 180 C or 350 F for about 12-14 minutes.
  7. Cool down completely. Glue two cookies together with the frosting.
  8. Melt chocolate and butter, let cool down for a few minutes and pour a teaspoon of the glaze on the top of each cookie.

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Flour_Milk frosting

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Apricot – Chocolate Chip Muffins

 Post title

{Printable Recipe}

Ingredients:

Ingredients apricot muffins

Preparation:

  • Place apricots into boiling water for a 1/2 – 1 minute. If they are soft about ½ minute and if they are harder about 1 minute.
  • Remove the skin, half them, pit them and set aside.

boil and peel apricots

  • Beat butter, sugar, salt and vanilla at a high speed and until fluffy.
  • Add eggs one by one until nicely incorporated into batter.
  • Combine flour and baking powder. Add to batter alternating with milk, until both is used up.
  • At the end, mix in mini chocolate chips.

Batter

  • Fill the batter into muffin pans lined with muffin cups or into mini bunt cake tins. Place an apricot half on each muffin.
  • Bake at 195 C (385 F) about 20-25 minutes. Let cool down, remove from tins and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Apricot muffins

Enjoy!

apricot chocolate chip muffins

apricot chocolate chip muffins

Easy Chocolate Cake with Hazelnuts

Hello friends! Oh, how happy I am to say that Spring is in the full swing in my neck of the woods! I’ve been so distracted by its beauty, I could hardly manage to do anything inside the house (including baking). Family wasn’t happy about not having goodies for a while, so that’s why I resorted to this easy cake recipe from an old German baking book. It doesn’t require much time or skill and the result is more than satisfying.

This simple chocolate cake can be paired up with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or topped with  fresh berries or berry sauce. It is easy enough to make for those who are new to baking or for the times when you learn that friends are coming over and you don’t really have a lot of time to prepare a dessert.

Enjoy this fine chocolate cake and Happy Spring! 

easy chocolate cake with hazelnuts

Easy Chocolate Cake with Hazelnuts

{print recipe}

Ingredients:

  • 115 g (1 stick) unsalted butter (softened)
  • 150 g (3/4 cup) sugar
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 125 g (1 cup) flour
  • 1 TSP baking powder
  • 3 TBSP cocoa (sifted, unsweetened)
  • 75 g (2.6 oz) chopped and toasted hazelnuts

Preparation:

Beat butter and sugar at a high speed until nice and fluffy, add vanilla extract and eggs.

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and add to the butter mixture.

Reduce the mixing speed and mix until creamy; add hazelnuts.

Rub a bottom and sides of a tart pan with butter and pour the cake batter in.

Bake at 175 C (350 F) for about 20 – 25 minutes.

If desired sprinkle the cake with some powder sugar.

Simple, Easy and Yummy!

Bon Appétit!

cake preparation

cake batter

chocolate cake with hazelnuts

chocolate cake with hazelnuts

Choco-Coconut Squares (Cupavci)

Coconut! You either love it or you hate it! Some of my friends who hate coconut say it’s because of the texture… My daughter used to hate coconut, never wanted to even try anything that had a slightest hint of it, until one day she worked up the courage to try these and fell in love with them.

These choco-coconut squares are a frequent guest at the table of many Bosnian families. If you like chocolate – coconut combination, I can guarantee you these will knock your socks off! 🙂 Now, in Bosnian language these have a specific name. It is weird and funny and quite unappetizing (the name I mean). That’s why I didn’t try translating it into English. Despite the weird name, this desserts is very popular, it is easily made and super delicious!

Choco-Coconut Squares (Čupavci)

[printable recipe]

For the batter:

  • 5 eggs (divided)
  • 125 g (4.4 oz) sugar
  • 1 pack vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp.  vanilla extract)
  • 150 g (5.3 oz) self –rising flour
  • 50 g (1.7 oz) plain bread crumbs
  • 160 ml (2/3 cup) milk

For the chocolate – coconut dip:

  • 150 g (5.3 oz) semi-sweet or dark chocolate
  • 150 g (5.3 oz) butter
  • 100 g (3.5 oz)sugar
  • 150 ml  (about 2/3 cup) milk
  • 150-200 g (5 – 7 oz) coconut (unsweetened, organic, finely shredded)
  • 150 g (5.3 oz) heated raspberry jam (or your favorite jam)

Also needed:

  •          28 X 22 cm (9 X 11 inch) rectangular cake pan,
  •          parchment paper,
  •          cooling rack,
  •          small cooking pot and a stainless steel bowl (for the hot water bath)

Preparation:

1. For the batter divide the eggs. Beat the egg whites with a smidgen of salt until firm, set aside. Beat the egg yolks with sugar and vanilla until pale yellow and all the sugar has dissolved (about 5 minutes).

2. Add milk and mix slowly for another minute. Now start adding flour combined with bread crumbs mixing at a low speed. At the end fold in the egg whites by hand until just combined.

3. Pour the batter into the cake pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 195 C (385 F) until the top starts getting golden yellow color. Remove from the oven and from the pan  and place it on a cooling rack.

4. When the cake has cooled down completely, cut it horizontally into two halves. Lightly heat the jam and spread over the first half, lay the second half on the top. Now cut the whole cake into squares. If you make three cuts to the longer- and 5 to the shorter side you will get 24 squares.

5. Heat the water in a small cooking pot. Melt the chocolate and butter over hot water bath. Add sugar (if desired), mix it smooth and add milk at the end.

6. Dip each cake square into chocolate. Make sure every side is well coated and then dip in coconut.  Let them rest for about an hour. They are best served at the room temperature!

ENJOY!

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Black Forest Cake or Die Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte

A couple of years ago when I visited my homeland Bosnia I brought back a French/International cookbook, which my dad gave to my mom for their first marriage anniversary. So many things were taken out of our home during the war, and I was pleasantly surprised that our book collections were still there! The only thing missing from this book was its shiny photo cover which I remember so well. The cookbook it self has 750 pages full of the most spectacular recipes of French and International cuisine. The cookbook is by Henri-Paul Pellaprat “L’Art culinaire moderne” 1969 edition, and in Croatian translation it is just simply called “The Great Pellaprat”.  I remember as a child going through its pages, looking at all the photos and wondering how would all these amazing meals taste and how is it even possible to make such works of art.

Today was Father’s Day and a perfect day to try and bake something from this amazing cookbook. Out of the hundreds of dessert recipes I chose a familiar one – Black Forest Cake. Familiar, because after we left Bosnia, we lived in Germany’s Black Forest region, our children were born there and it was just an amazing time of learning to live away from home, accepting the life changes and building a better future for our children and us.

Black Forest Cake         Printable recipe

Serves 12-16 people

Cake:

  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 8 egg yolks (medium eggs)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 3.5 oz (100 g) plain bread crumbs
  • 2.1 oz (60 g) blanched, ground almonds
  • 1.7  oz (50 g) dark cocoa
  • 8 egg whites (whipped)

Filling:

  • 14.5 oz (400 g) canned sour cherries
  • 1 Tablespoon corn starch
  • About 1 quart (900 ml) heavy cream (whipped) *** Original recipe calls for 600 ml, but that was not nearly enough to frost the cake inside and out and decorate it.
  • Sugar + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3.3 Tablespoons (50 ml) cherry brandy (Original German Kirsch Wasser) *** I substituted Kirsch Wasser with 1 small jar of “Tipsy Cherries
  • 5.2 oz (150 g) semi-sweet chocolate (refrigerated)

Also needed: 25 cm (10 inch) round spring form cake pan + same size parchment paper

Cake preparation:

  1. Heat the oven to 370 F (187 C)
  2. For the cake beat egg yolks, 1 whole egg, sugar and water until foamy.
  3. Add bread crumbs and ground almonds.
  4. Now by hand gently fold in egg whites. Add sifted cocoa at the end.
  5. Pour the batter into the spring form pan and bake for about 25 – 30 minutes.
  6. Cool completely and slice horizontally into 3 equal layers.

Filling preparation:

  1. Heat the sour cherries with juice in a small cooking pot and bring it to boil. Mix 1 tablespoon corn starch with some of the cherry juice and pour into the pot. Let it boil for a few minutes until it thickens. Cool completely.
  2. Whip the heavy cream until firm. Add sugar (after your own taste) and vanilla extract.
  3. Take the bottom cake layer, sprinkle it with some “Tipsy cherries” brandy (or Kirsch Wasser), spread the cherries on the top of it. Spread 1/3 of the whipped cream on it.
  4. Place the second cake layer on the cream, sprinkle with cherry brandy and spread with the second part of the whipped cream.
  5. Sprinkle the third cake layer with some cherry brandy and place it on the top.
  6. Frost the whole cake all around, decorate the top with tipsy cherries and chopped chocolate pieces.
Place the cake in the fridge over night and serve the next day.

Bon Appétit!


Hungarian cake or a Birthday cake for him

A few weeks ago my husband had a birthday. When I asked him what kind of dessert he wanted, he said either Julishka pie or the Hungarian cake. I decided to make Hungarian cake since we already had Julishka this year. Now, what is known as Hungarian cake in the US, in Bosnia it is known as Hungarian Woman cake, with a difference that we use only one word for it – Mađarica (Mah-dia-ree-tsah). It comes from the word Mađarska, which is the Bosnian word for Hungary. Mađarica is a sweet, rich, caramely, chocolatey goodness that becomes tastier as it “ages” (!Aging meaning days, not months or years!) 🙂

If the Hungarian ladies are anything like this cake, then Hungarian men should be very happy! 😉 If you make this cake today don’t serve it right away. It is best when served the next day or even a few days later. When kept in the fridge this cake will still be good even after a week.

Hungarian Cake (Mađarica)                                Printable recipe

Cake layers:

  • 300 g flour (2 1/3 cups)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 100 g butter (3.6 oz)
  • 1 egg
  • 100 g sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream

Frosting:

  • 200 g sugar (1 cup)
  • 500 ml milk (2 cups)
  • 60 g flour  (1/2 cup)
  • 150 g butter (5.4 oz) at room temperature
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa (sifted)

For the chocolate glaze:

  • 100 g (3.6 oz) semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons cooking oil

Preparation:

Cake layers

For the cake layers combine flour, baking powder, sugar and mix well. Add thinly sliced butter and start mixing until large crumbs start forming. Add egg and sour cream and knead into a smooth dough ball. Divide the dough into 5 equal pieces.

On a lightly floured surface roll out each piece of dough into a 9 X  9 inches (23 X 23 cm) square. Lay it on a parchment covered cookie sheet and cut off any excess dough. Bake each layer for just about 5 minutes at 365 F (185 C). Don’t let it brown. Remove each from the oven and let it cool completely.

Filling

For the filling place the sugar into a thick bottom pan. Let it melt at a low temperature. When all melted, pour the milk over the melted sugar. Be careful as this will make quite a reaction and sugar will start to bubble and will instantly harden. With a wooden spoon break up hardened sugar into smaller pieces. As the milk simmers, occasionaly stir it. All the hardened sugar will melt.

While milk is simmering, mix the ½ cup flour with a bit of milk and make a smooth mixture. ( In Europe there is a special kind of flour for making a filling base, but in US there is not, so you  may get few crumbs in the filling – don’t worry about it)

When all the hardened sugar has melted and you just have a great smelling caramelly milk, pour the flour mixture in it, mixing constantly until it thickens. Let it cool completely.

Beat the butter and sugar until nice and fluffy, add the sifted cocoa and beat until all combined. Add the butter to the caramel mixture. Filling is now done. I have divided my filling into two equal portions. One I left as it is and into the other one I added 1.8 oz (50 g) melted dark chocolate and 1 tablespoon of rum.

Putting the cake together and chocolate glaze

Divide the filling into 4 equal portions. Lay one cake layer onto a serving plate, spread the 1st portion of the filling on it. Repeat until the last cake layer, which comes on the top.

For the glaze melt the chocolate over a hot water disch, add oil and mix until smooth. Let it cool for about a minute or two and pour over cake. Shake it a little so it evenly spreads over the top. Leave the cake in the fridge for at least 24 hours or even better 36.

Remove from the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving, cut into small bars 1 X 2 inches (2.5 X 5 CM) and enjoy!

See below what happens when you add milk to the melted sugar…

Chocolate Mousse-Blackberry Birthday Cake

My youngest child, my baby daughter has turned 15. I still remember the day she came into this world and into my life. I felt immeasurably happy and blessed to hold my little bundle of joy in my arms. I miss those days when she was so dependent on me and when I could spend every minute taking care of her, cuddling her and kissing her chubby cheeks. I miss dressing her for school, brushing her hair, playing with her, coloring together. I even miss buying toys! 🙂 I got a bit misty eyed remembering the good old days, but I am delighted to see her growing up to be a beautiful, smart, artistic and caring young lady. Can a mother ever say enough of great things about her child? 🙂

As she has a beautifully distinguished character, so her wish for a birthday cake was a bit unusual as well: A Blackberry Cake. Birthday blackberry cake was certainly a challenge, but it turned out super delicious!

Chocolate Mousse-Blackberry Birthday Cake                    Printable recipe

Cake:

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbsp water
  • ½ cup (100 g) sugar
  • 1 pack vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 2.6 oz (75 g) flour
  • 1.7 oz (50 g) corn starch
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Chocolate mousse:

  • 2 cups (500 ml) chilled heavy cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4.4 oz (125 g) semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2.6 oz (75 g) milk chocolate

Frosting and decoration:

  • 1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 pack vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 5.2 oz (150 g) semi-sweet chocolate
  • 24 oz (700 g) blackberries
  • 1-2 tbsp powder sugar
  • Blackberry leaves for decoration

Cake preparation:

Divide eggs. Beat egg whites with 3 tbsp water until foamy. Slowly add sugar and vanilla, mix for couple of minutes, then add one by one egg yolk. Combine flour, corn starch and baking powder. Gently fold into egg mixture. Pour the batter into a 9 inch (23 cm) spring form cake pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 365 F (185 C) 20 – 30 minutes. Cool completely and then slice through into two equal pieces.

Chocolate mousse preparation:

Heat  3/4 cup (125 ml) cream in a 1-quart heavy saucepan until hot. Whisk together yolks, sugar, and a pinch of salt in a metal bowl until combined well, then add hot cream in a slow stream, whisking until combined. Transfer mixture to saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until it registers 160°F (71 C)on thermometer. Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and stir in vanilla.

Melt chocolate in a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water stirring frequently. Whisk custard into chocolate until smooth, then cool. Beat remaining 1 1/4 (375 ml)cups cream in a bowl with an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks. Whisk one fourth of cream into chocolate custard to lighten, then fold in remaining cream gently but thoroughly.

Place the bottom cake part back into the spring form. Pour the chocolate mousse onto the cake. Cover and leave it in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Do not put top cake piece over the mousse as it is still very soft. Cover with plastic wrap and save it until ready to ensemble the cake.

Prepare frosting and decoration:

Whip heavy cream until firm, add sugar and vanilla. Cover and leave in the fridge until ready to ansamble the cake. Melt the chocolate in a metal bowl placed over a pot of simmering water. Spread the melted chocolate in two thin ribbons on piece of parchment paper, place it in the freezer. Make sure each ribbon is at least 3 inches (7-8 cm) high.

Wash blackberries and place them on a kitchen towel to dry.

Ensamble the cake:

  1. Remove the spring form with mousse from the fridge. If the mousse is firm enough, place the second sponge cake on the top.
  2. Remove the cake from the spring form and place it onto a serving plate. Frost the cake all around with whipped cream.
  3. Remove the chocolate ribbons from the freezer. Break them up into 1 – 2 inch pieces. Make sure pieces are little higher than the cake. Place the pieces around the cake to form a „fence“.
  4. Place the blackberries on the top of the cake. If desired, dust with powder sugar and decorate with blackberry leaves.

Enjoy! 🙂

Easter Cassata and how pressure can be a good thing

A person like me gets involved in a craft project and easily forgets about everything else (such as Easter grocery shopping and dinner preparation) I tell you, this year I did everything in such a rush just because I spent too much time coloring eggs.

I was in a total time crunch, but that kind of pressure is good sometimes! It puts me into a creative state of mind and usually things turn out better than when I plan for a long time.

This Easter for desert I made Cassata. Since I spent too much time on egg coloring, I didn’t have enough time to bake a sponge cake for cassata. The pressure I was telling you about made me think of another easier way to make it – with lady fingers. Here it is:

Cassata            Printable recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 packs of lady fingers
  • 26 oz (750 g) ricotta cheese
  • 4 tbsp maraschino syrup (or maraschino      liquor)
  • 1 small lemon (juice and zest)
  • 2 envelopes (14 g) of plain gelatin
  • 6 tbsp water
  • 1.6 cups (400 ml) heavy cream – whipped   *Reserve 1/4 of it for decoration
  • ½ cup (100 g) sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract (or 1 pack vanilla sugar)
  • 5 oz (150 g) candied fruit
  • 3.5 oz (100 g) chocolate  *3/4 finely chopped for filling, 1/4 for decoration
  • Maraschino cherries

Also needed:

  • Two 5 X 10 inches (about 13 X 25 cm) loaf pans
  • Plastic wrap

Prepare Cassata:

You may use a half measure of above ingredients just to make one loaf pan cassata.

  1. Line each pan with plastic wrap, cover the bottom with lady fingers (about 7 lady fingers fit on the bottom). Line the sides of the pan with lady fingers too. You will probably need to cut them so they don’t reach above the  edge of the pan. You may choose to moisten lady fingers before lining the pan, but if you leave cassata in the fridge over night, lady fingers will pick up some moisture from the filling and they will be soft.
  2. Combine ricotta cheese, maraschino syrup, lemon juice and zest.  Mix well and set aside. (You may add some sugar if you think it wouldn’t be sweet enough for you).
  3. Mix 6 tbsp of water with 2 envelopes of gelatin in a small cooking pot, let it rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Whip the heavy cream until dense, add sugar and vanila.
  5. Now place the pot with gelatin on the stove and let it melt at a low temperature, mixing the whole time. Don’t let it boil. Take about  1 cup of ricotta cheese mixture and add it to the melted gelatin. Mix well and then pour it back to the remaining ricotta cheese mixture. Mix again.
  6. Now add to it bit by bit whipped cream alternating with chopped chocolate and candied fruit. Mix slowly by hand until everything is nicely blended.
  7. Pour the filling into prepared pans lined with lady fingers. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge for at least 3 hours or over night.
  8. When ready to serve, invert the pan slowly onto a serving plate, decorate with melted chocolate, remaining whipped cream and maraschino cherries.

BON APPETIT!

“Here is the deepest secret nobody knows…”

For Valentines to all of You:

My all time favorite love poem and some heart shaped mini chocolate cakes!

i carry your heart with me by E. E. Cummings

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Valentine’s  Heart Mini Cakes

~ Orange flavored cakes dipped in chocolate ~

Printable recipe

For the cake:

  • 8.8 oz (250 g) softened butter
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 1 pack Vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 6 eggs
  • 4 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 organic orange (zest and juice)
  • 3 ¼ cup (400 g) flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder

For the chocolate dip:

  • 7 oz (200 g) semi-sweet chocolate
  • 5.5 tbsp (80 g) butter
  • ¼ cup (50 ml) milk

For the white chocolate dip:

  • 7 oz (200 g) white chocolate
  • 5.5 tbsp (80 g) butter
  • ¼ cup (50 ml) milk
  • Various kinds of Valentines sprinkles

Also needed:

  • 12 x 17 in (32 x 44 cm) baking sheet
  • Cooling wire rack
  1. For the cake, mix softened butter and sugar until foamy, add eggs one by one, mixing about 1 minute after each addition.
  2. Add sour cream, orange zest and juice, mix for another minute or two.
  3. Combine flour and baking powder. Fold into butter mixture by hand.
  4. Line baking sheet with parchment paper, pour the batter and evenly spread in the pan.
  5. Bake at 375 F (190 C ) until light gold color. Cool completely.
  6. Use a large heart shaped cookie cutter (about 2.5 – 3 in ) and cut out individual cakes. I had about 28 of them.
  7. For the dip, break the chocolate into small pieces, put it into a stainless steel bowl, add butter. Place the bowl over a dish with boiling water, let it all melt, mix until smooth, at the end add milk.
  8. Dip each heart cake into the melted chocolate, put sprinkles on and place on the wire rack to cool down. Keep in the fridge and remove at least 30 minutes before serving.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

Dark Chocolate Pie in Toasted Coconut Crust

I must admit – I am a chocoholic. I am especially crazy about good Swiss chocolate such as Lindt, Cailler or Toblerone! Baking with these is really fun and the taste is always superb! Since living in the United States I became very fond of Girardelli chocolate and I use it often when baking. For this pie I used 60% cocoa Girardelli chocolate, which is quite dark and rich and the light coconut crust goes perfectly with it.

For the crust:                                                              Printable recipe

  • 6 tbsp (85 g) butter (room temperature)
  • 1 tbsp rum
  • 6 cups (480 g) flaked sweetened coconut

For the pie filling:

  • 15 oz (450 g) dark chocolate (60% cocoa)
  • 1 ¾ cups (410 ml) heavy cream

For the decoration:

  • 1.5 oz (42 g) white chocolate
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  1. For the crust beat the butter and rum until fluffy. Add 2 cups of shredded coconut and work it into butter. Add remaining 4 cups and knead it good with your hands.
  2. Prepare a 9 inch pie dish and line it with parchment paper.
  3. First press coconut mixture onto the bottom of the dish and then onto sides. Cover the top edge with a ring made from aluminum foil to prevent burning.
  4. Bake about 15 minutes at 365 F or until bottom start to brown very lightly. Cool completely.
  5. For the filling, break the chocolate into small pieces and place it into a bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a quick boil and pour it over the chocolate. Do the same with the white chocolate in a separate bowl.
  6. Let the mixture rest for about 10 minutes, then mix well and pour it into crust. Before decorating let the pie set for at least 45 minutes.
  7. If the white chocolate mixture has hardened, melt is shortly and place it into a small plastic zip-loc bag. Cut off a tiny tip and make a swirl on the pie starting from the center.
  8. Take a toothpick and make a line with it starting at the center towards the edge, make another line now starting from the edge to the center. Alternate like this until you come to the first line you made.

Let the pie set in the fridge best over night. Remove from the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving!

BON APPETIT! 😉

Marjolaine Cake

The first time I tried Marjolaine cake was at our local Italian bakery. A French cake in an Italian bakery! There is no way that you could find that in Italy! 😉 Anyway, the last few years the bakery has not been making it anymore and few days ago I think I found a reason why!

Since this is my son’s favorite cake and I was not able to buy it anywhere, I decided to surprise him and make it for his birthday. I googled the recipe and found about 5 different versions. I chose the one that in my opinion was best “resembling” the original from our favorite bakery.

Should I say that it took me 5 hours to make this cake?! 🙂 No wonder the bakery is not taking that kind of time! The cake turned out perfect and it tasted s-u-p-e-r-b! My son was very happy! His first slice was as thick as 3 regular slices! 🙂 Marjolaine cake is now on my Special Occasion Cakes list! A lot of work was put into it, A LOT, but in the end it was well worth it!

Here we go:                                                                   Printable version

The praline powder:

  • 1 cup (100 g) whole almonds
  • 1 cup (128 g) confectioners’ sugar

The chocolate cream (chocolate ganache):

  • 2 cups (500 ml) creme fraiche (I have used heavy whipping cream)
  • 16 (450 g) ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably Lindt or other European brand, broken into pieces

The pastry cream:

  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (64 g) unbleached flour
  • 2 cups (500 ml) milk
  • 1 1/4 cups (283 g) unsalted butter

The cake:

  • 1 cup (138 g) hazelnuts
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 10 large egg whites
  • 1/4 cup (32 g) unbleached flour

The rum cream:

  • 2 cups pastry cream (1/2 of the whole quantity)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon rum

The praline cream:

  • 2 cups pastry cream (1/2 of the whole quantity)
  • 2 cups praline powder (I didn’t weigh in grams, but use all of what you get after grinding the sugar coated almonds)
*Optional: 1 cup (138 g) toasted, chopped hazelnuts for decorating the sides of the cake

Prepare the praline powder:

1.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Oil a baking sheet with a light vegetable oil. Spread the almonds on another baking sheet and bake until fragrant and light brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
2.
Combine the nuts and sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until the sugar begins to melt. The mixture will go through several stages,from a dry blend to one where the sugar forms little bubbles the size of peas. Continue cooking, stirring constantly so all of the sugar clinging to the almonds melts, until the mixture turns dark brown and syrupy and the nuts make a popping sound. The whole process will take about five minutes.
3.
Quickly pour the mixture onto the oiled baking sheet. The mixture will harden to give almond brittle. When the praline is cool, break it into pieces. Grind it to a fine powder in a food processor. (Praline can be made weeks in advance and refrigerated or frozen in an air-tight container.)
4.
Prepare the chocolate cream: Bring the cream to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate, piece by piece, until it is completely melted and blended. Set aside until cool and thick. It should have the consistency of a thick, spreadable, frosting. (This can be made as much as three days in advance and refrigerated. If it hardens, reheat it gently, beating until it reaches the proper consistency.)

Prepare the pastry cream:

5.
Using a whisk or electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl until thick and lemon-colored. Gently whisk in the flour. Heat the milk to a boil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk one-third of the hot milk into the egg mixture, then pour the egg mixture into the remaining milk. Boil, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat until thickened, about two minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
6.
Beat the butter until soft and creamy. When the pastry cream is completely cool, whisk in the softened butter. (The pastry cream can be made three days in advance and kept refrigerated.)

Prepare the cake:

7.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Heavily butter two jelly-roll pans, measuring about 14x10x1 in. Line them with parchment paper and butter and flour the paper.
8.
Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and roast until fragrant and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and rub the warm nuts in a cotton dish towel to remove as much skin as possible. Cool, then grind them with a quarter cup of the sugar in a food processor.
9.
Using a whisk or electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to stiffen. Slowly add the remaining sugar, mixing until stiff but not dry. Fold in the flour and hazelnut mixture. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pans. Bake until the cakes are thoroughly browned, 25 to 30 minutes.
10.
Remove the cakes from the oven and invert them onto racks to cool, paper side up. Cover the cakes with a damp towel for several minutes, then remove the parchment paper while the cakes are still warm. Let cool completely. Cut each cake lengthwise in half.
11.
At least 24 hours, but not more than three days, before serving, assemble the Marjolaine: Divide the pastry cream in half. Blend the vanilla extract and the rum into one portion of the pastry cream. Blend the praline powder into the remaining pastry cream. (Mix the praline cream just before assembling the cake, because the flavor will fade if mixed up in advance.) The chocolate and pastry creams should be chilled, but spreadable.
12.
Place one cake layer on a large, rectangular serving platter. Spread half the chocolate cream on the cake. Refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes. Cover the chocolate cream with a second cake layer. Spread with all of the rum cream and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Top the rum cream with the third cake layer. Spread with all of the praline cream and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Top the praline cream with the fourth cake layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining chocolate cream. Refrigerate uncovered for 15 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate one to three days before serving.
13.
To serve, remove from the refrigerator 15 minutes before cutting, then cut into thin slices.
**Original recipe found here (I slightly changed the quantity of some ingredients).

Bon Appetite! 🙂

Praline Powder preparation steps

Prepared pastry cream and chocolate ganache