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

Silky Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberry Cookie Crust

We celebrated our son’s Birthday in January, and being a cheese cake lover, he asked for a chocolate cheese cake with raspberries. I really liked the challenge and it was a perfect timing to try a new cheese cake recipe I had for a while. The recipe sounded different from the way I used to make cheesecakes, but it really was a great success. The texture of this cake is so creamy and silky, unlike any other cheesecake I had before – a true chocolate lover’s dream. Instead of graham crackers for the crust I used Milano Raspberry Cookies and then decorated the cake with fresh raspberries.

Silky Chocolate Cheese Cake with Raspberry Crust

Silky Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberry Cookie Crust

{Printable Recipe}

Crust:

  • 250 g (9 oz) Milano Raspberry Cookies (crushed)
  • 113 g (1 stick) butter (melted)

Cheesecake:

  • 500 g (1 lb) cream cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 TBSP unsweetened cocoa (sifted)
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 225 g (8 oz) semi-sweet chocolate (melted)
  • 300 g (1 ½ cup) sour cream
  • 45 g ( 3 TBSP) butter (melted)

Also needed:

  • 22 cm (9 inch) spring-form cake pan
  • Parchment paper (same size as the pan)

Preparation:

  1. Cover the cake pan with parchment paper. Crush the cookies to resemble small crumbs. Melt the butter and add into cookies. Mix thoroughly and press into the pan bottom and onto the sides (about 1 inch or 2.5 cm high). Place it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the oven to 180 C (350 F).
  3. While the crust is resting in the fridge, prepare the cheesecake mixture. First, beat the cream cheese until airy and fluffy, then add sugar, eggs, vanilla, cocoa until well incorporated.
  4. Melt the chocolate over a hot water pan. Turn the mixing speed to low and then add chocolate, sour cream and melted butter into the cheese cream mixture.  Mixture will look really shiny and smooth.
  5. Pour the mixture into the crust and bake at 180 C (350 F) for about 45 minutes.
  6. Cool completely.
  7. Decorate with whipped cream, fresh raspberries and chocolate shavings.

Silky Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberry Cookie Crust

Silky Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberry Cookie Crust

Silky Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberry Cookie Crust

Fancy pull-apart Dinner Rolls

Hello my friends, HAPPY NEW YEAR to each and every one of you! 🙂

I hope you had nice and relaxing Holidays with your family and friends. My wish is that this New Year will bring us all peace, love and compassion toward one another and a lot of good memories and joyful moments and that we will get to spend a while here in this virtual world and share some good cooking and baking recipes and stories.

In today’s recipe I wanted to introduce a fancy and an easy way to make holiday/celebration dinner rolls. These rolls are soft and flaky and can be served warm or cold. I made these for our Christmas dinner and they looked just gorgeous and tasted fantastic.

Fancy pull-apart dinner rolls

Fancy Pull-Apart Dinner Rolls

[Printable recipe]

Dough:

  • All-purpose flour: 500 g ( 4 cups)
  • Fresh yeast: 20 g (or 1 envelope dry yeast)
  • Warm milk: 2 dl (3/4 cup + a few TBSP if needed)
  • Sugar: 1 tsp
  • Salt: 1.5 tsp
  • Cooking oil: 5 TBSP

To brush the dough layers:

  • Butter: 120 g (1 stick) at room temp.

Also needed:

  • Round baking pan (or a spring form) 25 cm or 9-10 inches
  • 1 egg
  • Sesame seeds (or any other desired seeds)

Preparation:

  1. Place flour into a mixing bowl, make an indent and crumble up fresh yeast, add sugar and a little bit of milk, mix, cover and let stand for about 10 minutes. If using dry yeast, proof as directed on the package.
  2. Turn the mixer to low setting and while mixing start adding milk and salt. When the flour and milk start forming a dough, add oil and let it stir for another 2-3 minutes to get a shiny and firm ball of dough.
  3. Place the dough onto a floured surface, knead it by hand for a minute or two and then place back into the bowl, cover and leave it at a warm place until double in size.
  4. Divide the dough into 5 equal pieces. Knead each piece and form a small dough ball. Let them rest for about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Divide butter into 4 equal pieces. Roll out each dough piece into a 10 inch (25 cm) circle. Spread first circle with butter, put second circle on the top, then butter again and so on until you end up with the fifth circle on the top.
  6. Now roll it all together into  a large 18 in (45 cm) circle. With a pizza cutter cut off about 1 ½ inch (4 cm) all around the circle to get a “hoop”. Place the hoop on a flat surface and cut once vertically and once horizontally to get 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a bun (like a cinnamon bun) and place in the middle of the greased baking pan.
  7. What’s left now is a smaller circle which you will cut to get 16 equal triangles. Roll each triangle not like a crescent, but more like a cone or along one of the longest sides of a triangle. That way you will get a nice swirl. Place all the cones all around the 4 middle rolls with a little bit of space in between.
  8. Cover and let it rise for about 30 minutes. Lightly beat an egg, brush all over the rolls and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  9. Bake at 395 F (200 C) about 30 minutes or until deep golden brown. Serve warm or cold. The rolls will be soft and flaky and will look just amazing on your holiday table.

Fancy Pull Apart Dinner Rolls Fancy Pull Apart Dinner Rolls

Fancy Pull Apart Dinner Rolls

Fancy Pull Apart Dinner Rolls

Fancy Pull Apart Dinner Rolls

Fancy Pull Apart Dinner Rolls

Fancy Pull Apart Dinner Rolls

Cream Cheese Thumbprint Cookies

It’s that time of the year again when we reach for our recipe books and recipe cards to find the most delectable Christmas cookies recipes and prepare them for our loved ones. This year, I am adding a few new-discovered recipes to my traditional cookie menu. These Cream Cheese Thumbprint Cookies are so silky and delicious and they just melt in your mouth. Fill them with your favorite jam and enjoy the sight and the taste!

Cream Cheese Thumbprint Cookies

Cream Cheese Thumbprint Cookies

[Printable recipe]

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (225 g) butter, softened
  • 3 oz (85 g) cream cheese
  • 1 cup (200 g)sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups (320 g) all-purpose flour
  • Jam (strawberry, raspberry – seedless, apricot, etc.)

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla. Add flour and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour or until easy to handle.
  2. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place two inches apart on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Using the end of a wooden spoon handle, make a deep indentation in the center of each ball; fill with about 1/2 tsp jam. Bake at 350 F (180 C) for 10-12 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Cream Cheese Thumbprint Cookies

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

German Plum Cake

German plum cake is a dear guest at our house at least once a year (while the Stanley plums are in season). The recipe reminds me so of my high school years. I sat in my German class and looked through a German magazine trying to find an article to practice translating. I came across a beautiful photo and recipe of this cake, so I asked my teacher if I could translate the recipe instead of an article. She thought it was a great idea.

German Plum Cake

This recipe has been in my old, yellowed recipe book ever since. The cake is easily made and it’s huge. It can feed a large group of relatives or friends. It’s good warm or cold and it goes so well with a cup or morning coffee or tea. Enjoy my friends!

old recipe book

German Plum Cake

{Printable recipe}

Dough:

  • 250 g (8.8 oz) low fat cream cheese (or German quark cheese)
  • 125 g (1/2 cup + 2 TBSP) sugar
  • 1 vanilla sugar (1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 10 TBSP milk
  • 10 TBSP oil
  • 1 small lemon (juice and zest)
  • 500 g (17.6 oz or about 4 cups) flour
  • 20 g (0.7 oz) baking powder

Filling:

  • 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs)Stanley plums
  • 3 TBSP sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 1 vanilla sugar (1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 80 g (2/3 cup) flour
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) sliced almonds

Also needed:

  • 1 large rectangular baking pan (13 X 18 inches ) 33 X 46 cm.
  • Parchment paper

Preparation:

  1. For the dough combine cream cheese, sugar, vanilla in a mixing bowl. Start mixing at a low speed, slowly adding milk and oil. Add juice and lemon zest. Combine flour and baking powder and stir well. Gradually add to the rest and mix until well combined.
  2. Cover the dough with plastic and let it rest until needed
  3. Wash, dry and pit plums. Half them and make a small cut on each half (as you going to quarter them), but don’t cut all the way through.
  4. Dust your working surface with flour. Place the dough on the surface and roll it out into the size of the pan. Line your baking pan with parchment paper and transfer the dough onto the pan.
  5. Place the plums in thick rows on the dough. Sprinkle with 3 TBSP of sugar.
  6. Beat 2 large eggs with sugar and vanilla until pale yellow, add flour and mix until smooth.
  7. Pour over the plums and sprinkle with sliced almonds
  8. Bake at 200 C (400 F) for 30-35 minutes or until lightly brown on the top.
  9. Cool slightly and slice into squares.

ENJOY!

German plum cake preparation

German plum cake preparation

German plum cake preparation

German Plum Cake

German Plum Cake

Oven-baked Plum Jam

This is an easy-to-make jam with only three ingredients and no additives. I call it Grandma-Style Jam. 🙂 It reminds me of my childhood and the warm days of late summer when I helped my grandmother can all the veggies and fruit of the harvest.

This old fashioned jam is made with Stanley Plums, those oval, pretty, deep bluish-purple ones. Jam takes some time to bake, but there is no artificial ingredients and the jam keeps very very well for a year and without refrigeration.

I’ve used this jam for breakfast with bread and butter, with pancakes and waffles, in crumble/coffee cakes, sweet yeasted buns or buchteln. I am sure you will find a way to use this fragrant, sweet tasting goodness!

oven baked plum jam


{Printable Recipe}

Ingredients:

3 kg (about 6 1/2 lbs) Stanley Plums
1 kg (about 2 lbs) sugar
1.5 dl (2/3 cup) rum

Also needed:

1 roasting pan with lid (I use an oval turkey roasting pan)
A wooden spoon
Jars and canning supplies

Making jam:

  1. Wash your plums thoroughly (I wash them three times), place on kitchen towel and dry lightly, pit them and half them. All fruit need to be absolutely healthy, discard any that have rotten parts.
  2. Preheat your oven to 200 C (400 F).
  3. Place the plums into a deep roasting pan. Do not over fill because jam maybe be boiling over and messing up your oven.
  4. Pour sugar over plums and stir until well incorporated.
  5. Place the lid on the pan and put in the middle of the oven.
  6. Keep the lid for the first 30 minutes of baking.
  7. After the first 30 minutes, take off the lid and stir the plums.
  8. Bake for another 2 – 2 ½ hours, stirring every 30 minutes.
  9. When you notice jam is thickening, add rum and bake for another 10 minutes.
  10. Fill into clean, sterilized and hot jars and follow your usual canning procedure.

Enjoy!

Stanley Plums, Sljive

Oven baked plum jam

Somewhere in the middle of baking

Oven baked plum jam

Oven baked plum jam

Oven baked plum jam

Peach Tarteletts with Hazelnut Streusel Topping

Last Saturday I visited our local farmers market in search of some good peaches to make jam. Oh, what a great place to be at this time of the year! There was a great variety of veggies and fruit, herbs and flowers on display! I picked up a large container of Michigan peaches for my jam, but they were so juicy and sweet that we couldn’t stop eating them and from what was left I made these lovely tarteletts. I am making jam next week (said with determination)! 🙂 This recipe is a combination of three different recipes with addition/subtraction of some ingredients, which resulted in this recipe. Isn’t that what baking is all about?!

The tarteletts turned out to be delicious and not too sweet, which I really favor. You could taste the natural sweetness of the peaches, creamy filling and hazelnuts. Next time I would try to use almonds instead of hazelnuts. I would also sprinkle some sliced almonds on the top for decoration.

Peach Tarteletts

Peach Tarteletts with Hazelnut Streusel Topping

{Printable Recipe}

Yields 16 tarteletts

Sweet Pastry:

***All ingredients need to be refrigerated before using for the pastry. This is a ½ of quantity of the recipe for the sweet pastry from The Bourke Street Bakery Cookbook. Original recipe doesn’t call for hazelnuts/almonds.

  • 332 g (11.7 oz) flour
  • 5 g (1/2 tsp) salt
  • 130 g (4.5 oz) powdered sugar (sifted)
  • 3 TBSP hazelnuts or almonds
  • 250 g (8.8 oz) butter (thinly sliced)
  • 40 g (2-3) eggs

Also needed: Tartelett tins – 10 cm (about 4 inches) in diameter

Combine flour, salt, powdered sugar and hazelnuts and mix thoroughly. Add butter and start mixing slowly to incorporate all into flour. Add one by one egg and form the dough into a ball. Divide the ball into two equally weighing discs. Wrap each disc with plastic and refrigerate for about 2 hours.

Sweet pastry dough

Hazelnut Streusel

Streusel is basically a crumbled mixture of butter, sugar and flour and it’s used for sprinkling over pies or cakes to add an extra crunch.

  • 2 TBSP flour
  • 2 TBSP light brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 TBSP chopped hazelnuts (or almonds)
  • 2 TBSP cold butter (cut into pieces)

Combine and mix all ingredients until they resemble ¼ inch (1/2 cm) crumbs. Set aside.

Hazelnut streusel

Tarteletts filling

  • 8 medium to large size ripe peaches
  • 350 ml (about 1.5 cup) heavy cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract

Cut a small cross on the top and the bottom of each peach. Place the peaches shortly into boiling water, remove and let cool. Peel, half and pit the peaches. Cover with plastic until ready to used them.

Combine milk with sugar and both extracts, stir by hand for a couple of minutes. Add eggs and stir for another two to three minutes, until you get a smooth mixture. Set aside.

Peeling peaches

Prepare Tarteletts

Remove the sweet pastry dough from the fridge about 15 minutes before you start making tarteletts. I lightly grease the tins with butter.

Roll the dough out to about 1/2 cm (or just under 1/4 inch) thickness. Use a tartelett tin as a cookie cutter and place the cut out dough into the tin. Lightly press in and make sure to have a nice and clean edge.

Cut each peach half into thin slices and arrange them on the top of the tartelett. Pour the filling over the peaches. Do not overfill. Sprinkle with hazelnut streusel. You can also choose to sprinkle streusel in the middle of baking time. (I figured it doesn’t make much difference for the final product).

Making peach tarteletts

Making peach tarteletts

Place the tins onto a baking sheet. Bake at 215 C (about 425 F) for 20-25 minutes, or until edges of tarteletts start getting golden-brown. Cool completely, remove from the tins and serve. You may choose to sprinkle them with powdered sugar. You can also serve them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Bon Appétit!

Peach Tarteletts

Peach Tarteletts

Bosnian Stuffed Peppers

By request of some of my readers, I will try to post more cooking recipes to my blog. One of the most liked Bosnian summer meals are stuffed peppers.

If you’re not familiar with Bosnian cooking, you should know that we like to cook from scratch, use fresh ingredients, seasonal vegetables and we take pride in what we do. Even though the ingredients and spices are simple, preparation and cooking process are lengthy and produce flavorful, hearty and memorable meals.

I usually make stuffed peppers two ways – stuffed with ground beef and cooked in sauce and the vegetarian way, stuffed with potatoes and rice and baked in the oven.

Today I would like to introduce ground meat stuffed peppers. I usually use ground beef for stuffing. Ground pork, or mix of ground beef and pork can be used as well. I have not tried making them with ground chicken or turkey. I also add a potato to the stuffing mixture, but that’s optional. Also the rice doesn’t have to be precooked. I half-cook mine, since I’ve had stuffed peppers where rice was not fully cooked and I want to avoid that. Most common peppers used in Bosnia are white peppers. I suggest not to use green bell peppers for this recipe, except if they are really small. A good substitute in the US are cubanelle peppers. I usually serve my stuffed peppers with mashed potatoes, but they can be served just by it self and with an addition of some good crusty bread to dip into sauce.

Bosnian Stuffed Peppers

Bosnian Stuffed Peppers

{Printable Recipe}

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 white peppers (2.4-2.8 oz OR 70-80 g each)
  • 1 1/3 lb (600 g) ground beef
  • 1/3 cup (80 g) rice
  • 1 large potato (finely chopped)
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp Vegeta spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper (freshly ground)

       + for the sauce

  • 2-3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp ground paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½  cup (120 ml) tomato puree
  • 4 cups (1 l) water

Preparation:

  1. Wash and dry peppers. Cut open the top and remove all the seeds and membranes. Set aside.
  2. Cook the rice halfway (about 5 minutes) and strain. Set aside.
  3. Finely chop vegetables.
  4. Place ground beef in a medium bowl and sprinkle with all the spices.
  5. Add all vegetables, rice, egg and parsley and mix into a compact mass.
  6. Stuff each pepper and set on a plate next to the stove.
  7. Heat 3 tbsp of cooking oil in a frying pan. Lightly brown peppers on each side (just until fragrant, remove from the pan and place back on the plate.
  8. Pour the oil from frying into a cooking pot. You will make the sauce now.
  9. Lightly heat the oil, add 2 tbsp flour and stir gently until smooth.
  10. Add ground paprika and salt and stir for about 1 minute. Don’t let it burn.
  11. Add tomato puree and water. Stir and let it boil.
  12. When the sauce starts boiling, place all the peppers inside. Turn the temperature down to medium and simmer for about 45-50 minutes in a half covered pot.

*** Sauce will reduce during the cooking and will become thicker.

Serve with a side of mashed potatoes or just with bread.

Long grain rice

White peppers

Ingredients for stuffed peppers

Stuffing mixture for peppers

Stuffed peppers

Browning stuffed peppers

Stuffed pepper sauce

Bosnian Stuffed Peppers

Bosnian Stuffed Peppers

Bosnian Stuffed Peppers

My Favorite Croissants

For a long time I’ve been searching for a croissant recipe that will suit my taste. I’ve tried many recipes and they were all good, but still not what I was looking for. I really like a rustic kind of croissant, that’s crispy outside and has nice, textured layers inside. If you like the same, look no further because this recipe from the Bourke Street Bakery Cookbook is the right one for you.

This baking book is SO good, I absolutely love every single recipe inside of it. There are also step by step directions and pictures for making bread, croissant dough, danishes dough, etc. If you didn’t get the book yet, please do, you will be inspired, mesmerized and if you are not already in love with baking, you will definitely be after going through this book. Please read David Lebovitz impression of The Bourke Street Bakery – Sydney, AU.

This recipe might seem a bit too long and complicated, but in the end it’s just repeating one same process three times.  Once you start making it, it is really simple and the results, oh the results are exceptional! 🙂 Give yourself plenty of time. I usually start making the dough in the late afternoon or evening. There is a lot waiting and resting. I do the final two steps the next morning when I plan to have croissants for breakfast.

This quantity of dough will make about 18 large croissants. That was way too much for the four of us, so I divided the dough in half and made bear claws the next day. Making pain au chocolat would be an idea too.

Croissants - bourke street bakery recipe

My Favorite Croissants

[printable recipe]

(Recipe from The Bourke Street Bakery Cookbook)

Makes approximately 18 large croissants

For the ferment

(Ferment is a small amount of dough that needs to be made first and will help your croissant dough develop and rise):

  • 100 g plain flour, chilled (3.5 oz)
  • 55 ml whole milk, chilled (1 ¾ fl oz)
  • 5 g (or 1 tsp) brown sugar, chilled
  • A pinch of salt, chilled (1/2 tsp)
  • 5 g fresh yeast, chilled (1/8 oz)
  • 20 g unsalted butter, softened (3/4 oz)

Make the Ferment:

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until it becomes a ball. Knead it for about 10 minutes until becomes elastic and smooth. If using electric mixer, use dough hook and mix on low speed for 3 minutes.

Put the ferment in a bowl covered with plastic and leave at room temperature for 2 hours to ferment. After, store the pre-ferment in the fridge overnight (this can be kept for few days in the fridge).

For the croissant dough

(Chill everything in the fridge before you start making the dough, including the flour and sugar):

  • 935 g strong white flour (2 lb 1 oz)
  • 550 ml whole milk (19 fl oz)
  • 60g brown sugar (1/3 cup)
  • 15 g salt (3 tsp)
  • 35 g fresh yeast (1 ¼ oz)
  • Plus 500 g unsalted butter (1 lb 2 oz)  for laminating (the rolling and folding process for the dough)

For the egg wash:

  • 1 egg
  • 80 ml (about 1/3 cup) milk
  • Pinch of salt

Make the Dough:

Divide the ferment into 8-10 small pieces, mix it together with all other ingredients, except butter, in a mixing bowl until a dough ball is formed.

Transfer the dough ball to a bench and knead for 10 – 15 minutes (by hand) until the dough becomes smooth and elastic, and doesn’t tear when stretched gently. If using electric mixer, using dough hook, mix on low speed for 3 -4 minutes, followed by high speed for another 2 minutes.

Put the dough in a bowl covered with plastic bag or cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Laminate the Dough:

Before starting the dough laminating (i.e. incorporating butter into the dough) remove the butter from the fridge. Pound the butter with rolling pin between two sheets of baking paper into 20 cm (8 inches) flat square. If the butter becomes too soft, store it in the fridge for 15 minutes before using.

Take the dough out of the fridge, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out into a rectangle about 20 x 40 cm (8 x 16 inches). Place the butter in the centre of the dough and fold the dough over the top. Seal the edges of the dough together to ensure the butter is completely enclosed in the dough.

Gently and carefully roll the dough out into a rectangle, about 20 x 90 cm (8 x 35 inches) (approximately 3 times longer than the piece you started with). Mentally divide the rectangle into three equal sections, top, middle and bottom. Fold the top section over the middle, and fold the bottom to the middle, like folding a letter. Wrap the dough in a plastic bag or cling wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Take the dough out of the fridge and rotate the dough 90 degree so that the dough will be rolled in opposite direction from previous fold. Repeat the rolling, folding, and resting process as above two more times. There will be three foldings and rollings (the term is “three turns”) altogether and you need to rotate the dough 90 degree with each rolling.

After the final rolling and folding, store the laminated dough in the fridge for 20 minutes before shaping into croissants.

Make the egg wash by mixing all ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.

Take the laminated dough out of the fridge and roll it out into a rectangle about 25 x 100 cm (10 – 40 inches) with 5 -8 mm (1/4 inch) thickness.

Trim the edges of the dough so that it becomes a neat rectangle.

Cut the dough into triangles with 9-cm (3.5 in) base and 21-cm (8 in) height. Stack triangle sheets on baking sheet/papers and chill for 10 minutes.

Shape the Dough:

Take the chilled triangles out of the fridge and shape into croissants. Gently pull the tip of triangle to make the triangle longer. Working from the base, roll it towards the tip. Make sure that the tip is tucked underneath the croissant.

Place shaped croissants on trays lined with baking sheet or paper.

Shaped croissants can be kept in the fridge overnight and baked the next day. Take them out of the fridge next day and follow the proofing and baking steps as below. Brush the surface lightly with egg-wash. Cover the tray with tea towel. Let it stand at warm room temperature for 2 hours until it almost double in size. Croissants are proofed and ready for the bake when the layers become visible and the croissants are very soft and wobbly.

Bake the croissants:

Preheat the oven to 240 C (465 F)

Brush the surface of croissants with egg wash before baking. Put the croissants into the oven, then immediately reduce oven temperature to 190 C (375) and bake for 20 – 25 minutes until deeply golden brown.

Adding ferment to the dough mixture
Adding ferment to the dough mixture
Rolling butter into 8X8 inch square before putting in the fridge to chill
Rolling butter into 8X8 inch square before putting in the fridge to chill

Croissant preparation 1

Croissant dough up close - notice all the layers!
Croissant dough up close – notice all the layers!

Croissant preparation 2

Almost ready for the oven
Almost ready for the oven
Fresh from the oven!
Fresh from the oven!
Layers of goodness!
Layers of goodness!
 Croissants - bourke street bakery recipe
 

Poppy Seed Challah

The month of March was just not very productive for me in any segment of my life… After shredding a part of my finger early in the month, I didn’t have much desire to cook, bake or type. Lack of sunshine and warmth took its toll… I was so hoping for spring to come and all we got was snow and bitter cold. As I write this it’s still cold out, but the sun is shining, the trees and flowers are budding and it makes such a difference. I also took a few days off from work to spend with my family and to do the things I love – bake and paint.

Poppy seed challah

I really missed getting my hands sticky with dough and having the aroma of fresh baked goods around the house. All I could think of was to bake something good, warm and familiar and nothing sounded better than this challah bread topped with poppy seeds. Every bakery in Bosnia sells this bread. Their sizes range anywhere from a small knot, to an individual size challah to a large family challah. For me, it is an essential part of a good breakfast! It can be eaten just plain or spread with butter, jam, honey, paté or anything you may like. It can be used for a sandwich or for the bread pudding. It looks great on a holiday table!

I painted this while taking a break from baking
I painted this while taking a break from baking

Poppy Seed Challah

{print recipe}

Ingredients:

  • 500 g (4 cups) all-purpose flour (+ flour for kneading)
  • 21 g (0.7 oz) fresh yeast
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 200 ml (3/4 cup + 2 TBSP) warm water
  • 1 egg
  • 50 ml (about 1/4 cup) sunflower or vegetable oil
  • ½ TBSP salt
  • Milk for brushing
  • 2 TSBP poppy seeds

Preparation:

  1. Place the flour in a mixing bowl. Make a deep indent in flour, add 1 TBSP of sugar and crumble up the yeast. Lightly mixing by hand, add ¼ of the quantity of water. Mix only inside the indent, just to get a small ball of starter. Cover and let it rest for about 10 minutes.
  2. Combine the rest of the water with oil, egg and salt and stir well. Put the flour bowl back on the mixer and mixing at a slow speed start adding the liquid. Switch to medium speed setting and mix for about 3-, rest for about 3- and then mix for 3 more minutes.
  3. Dough will look nice and smooth. Cover it and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  4. Lightly dust your working surface with flour and knead the dough by hand for a few minutes. Divide the dough into 3 or 4 pieces, depending on what you want to make, a three- or four-strand challah.
  5. Shape each piece into a foot long strand. Transfer all the pieces onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Braid the strands to form a challah. Cover the bread and let it rest and rise for about 30 minutes.
  6. Brush the bread with milk and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
  7. Bake at 200 C or 395 F for about 35-40 minutes or until challah gets a nice,  golden-brown color.

***More about shaping a four-strand challah here.

Proofing yeast for challah dough
Proofing yeast for challah dough

Making challah dough

Making challag

Poppy Seed Challah

Poppy Seed Challah

Poppy Seed Challah

Poppy Seed Challah

Poppy Seed Challah

Poppy Seed Challah

2013 To Do List… and some things I dream about

happines

Hello friends! I hope everyone had a great start into the New Year. I think of this year as a year of changes and improvements.

My first resolution is to focus more on spiritual as opposed to material. I plan to spend more time doing things I love, things that make me and people around me happy. Inspired by my friend Korena’s post The List, here is what I plan to bake, make and do this year (and not necessarily in this order):

Hungarian Dobos Torte or here

All colors macaroons

Esterhazy Torte

Vacherin framboise et chocolat √

Croissants from the The Bourke Street Bakery, AU √

Baguette from the Bourke Street Bakery

Baked Alaska

Poppy Seed Strudel

Traditional Bosnian corn bread

Poulet chasseur

Bosnian Begova Corba (or Bey’s Soup)

Stuffed Adriatic Squid

Reproduce a master painter piece or this one

Make a child portrait in pastel

Improve my watercolor skills

Paint a large scale painting or a mural

Travel here and here (very possible)

Travel here, here or here  (dreaming about)

Explore my surroundings,

et cetera…

I would be happy to hear about your plans! 🙂

Love to you all!

Sibella

Crusty Bread with Yogurt and Honey

Yesterday was definitely a bread baking day! From the time I woke up I couldn’t stop thinking about making bread. It may seem strange, but I get all consumed thinking about it, planning in my head and just can’t wait to get home and start working on it. I remembered the time when I lived in Germany, I had a part-time job in a bakery. I loved that job, I loved the smell of the fresh baked goods and just the whole busy atmosphere of the place. One of my favorite breads from the bakery was Yogurt Bread. It had a crusty outside and was chewy and moist inside. Pure enjoyment! This was my attempt to recreate this wonderful bread and I am more than pleased with the results! In fact, I am so pleased that I am making a loaf again today! 😀

Crusty Bread with Yogurt and Honey                         Printable recipe

  • 1.2 oz (35 g) fresh yeast
  • 5 oz (150 ml) cold water
  • 8 oz (225 g) plain yogurt
  • 6 oz (175 ml) water
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 26.4  oz (750 g) flour (used all-purpose King Arthur)
  • flour for kneading
  • olive oil for brushing
  1. Dissolve the yeast in the cold water. In another dish combine yogurt and water, add honey and salt.
  2. Place the flour in a mixer bowl with the hook attachments. Start mixing slowly adding the yeast mixture. After that slowly add the yogurt mixture.
  3. Let it mix on a slow-medium setting for about 10 minutes. The dough will be firm.
  4. Cover and let rise on a room temperature for about 3-4 hours. Collapse it, cover again and place in the fridge for another 20 hours. The dough needs to rest for about 24 hours.
  5. When ready to shape the bread, remove from the fridge and leave at room temperature for couple of hours. Dust your working surface with flour, knead the dough thoroughly and shape into an oval. Brush all over with olive oil and liberally dust with flour, cover and let it rise until double in size. Score it in the middle.
  6. Heat the oven to 425 F (218 C), place the baking stone/dish in the oven for at least 30 minutes. Place a cup of water on the bottom of the oven. Put the bread onto the stone and bake for about 45-60 minutes.
  7. Cool completely, slice and enjoy!

Bon Appétit!

Fresh yeast dissolved in cold water
Combining honey with yogurt mixture
Adding dissolved yeast to flour
The dough is quite firm
Dough right after removed from the fridge and 24 hour rest.
Forming the oval shaped bread
Scored and ready for oven

Easy Sandwich Buns

I so enjoy making my own bread and buns. What’s better than a fresh, golden-brown bun right out of the oven?! Here is just a quick and simple recipe for some excellent sandwich buns.

Easy Sandwich Buns                              Printable recipe

 Ingredients:

  • 4 cups (512 g) all-purpose flour (used King Arthur)
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup +/- ¼ cup (250 ml) warm water
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Flour for kneading

Preparation:

In a large bowl combine flour, active dry yeast, sugar and salt. Mix well and start adding water. Quantity of water will depend on the flour.

Add the olive oil at the end and mix for 4-5 minutes. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let the dough rest for about 5 minutes.

Now turn on the mixer for another 5 minutes. The dough will look nice and smooth. Shortly knead it by hand on a flour dusted surface. Shape it into a ball, place it back into the greased bowl, cover and let it rise until double in volume (1 to 1.5 hours).

When double in size, place the dough on your working surface, roll it into a square and cut into square shaped buns. I made bigger buns, so I had 9.

Make sure buns are nicely dusted with flour when you place them onto a baking sheet. Cover them and let rise for another hour.

Heat the oven to 450 F (230 C). Bake the buns for about 12-15 minutes. For extra crunchy buns place a cup of water on the bottom of the oven.

Bon Appétit!

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!