Baking · Desserts · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge · Pastry · Uncategorized

Montenegro: Krempita

montenegro-flag-167-pWhen visiting Dubrovnik, one of the excursions that we made was to have a day tour of Montenegro (or at least such parts as can be reached in the course of one day!). For us, the main parts of this focused on the cities (towns?) of Kotor and Budva. Now besides having an extremely delicious bowl of mussels and an extremely entertaining and informative tour guide (who would divert from the standard tour guide spiel with anecdotes about subjects ranging from James Bond to Roman Abramovich’s yacht – complete with two helipads AND two submarines!), one of my aims was to find some Montenegrin cake, and to actually see what they sell in the local bakeries. This delectable delight was one of those treats found. Whilst I didn’t try it on that trip (squishy vanilla slice on long coach trip -bad idea!), I decided that I definitely wanted to try the recipe at home.

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Krempita is essentially a vanilla custard slice, made with 2 layers of puff pastry sandwiched with a thick vanilla custard-cream. I used puff pastry leftover from making allumettes, but this will work perfectly well with ready-made pastry – don’t try and make life life two difficult if you don’t want to! If on the other hand you do want to have a go at making your own, check out the recipe from here.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets of puff pastry
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 32floz/950ml double cream whipped with 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar
  • Icing sugar

Preparation:

Heat oven to 400°F/200°C/Gas Mark 6. Roll out each piece of puff pastry slightly  and score into 9 sections. Sandwich each puff pastry sheet between two pieces of parchment paper and two cooling racks, to keep it flat but stillcrispy. Bake for 15 minutes, before removing the top rack and top sheet of parchment paper. Replace rack and continue to bake until golden and crispy throughout, before leaving to cool completely.

Whip the egg yolks and sugar until thick and lemon colored before adding the cornflour and milk and mixing thoroughly. Transfer to a bain-marie and coook gently until the custard thickens, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Dissolve gelatin completely in 1/2 cup cold water and stir into the hot custard until completely dissolved.

Cool the custard in an ice bath, stirring occasionally. If, for some reason, the custard has lumps (from being cooked at too high a temperature or undissolved gelatin), strain it through a sieve.

When the custard is cool and very thick but not yet set, fold in the sweetened whipped cream. Layer over 1 sheet of baked puff pastry and top with second sheet. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before eating. Cut into rectangles and dust with icing sugar before serving.

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Desserts · Vegan

Vegan Chocolate and Orange Mousse

I am really excited about this vegan dessert, and so happy it worked! Presenting number two in the vegan dessert duo – Chocolate and Orange mousse!

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I love chocolate mousse. One of my guilty pleasures is those chocolate mousses that come in yoghurt pots, but there is nothing to beat the deliciousness of actual chocolate mousse. However, I have a thing about using raw egg in anything and most recipes for chocolate mousse either have raw egg or so much cream that it turns into a ganache. This however, solves that problem! Four ingredients, 5 minutes and you are sorted with a delicious light pudding that almost feels healthy! Enjoy!

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Vegan Chocolate and Orange Mousse

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of chilled coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp orange liqueur
  • 1/2 cup icing powder

Instructions:

Place the sold layer of coconut cream in a bowl and add the other ingredients. Beat for five until doubled in size and light and fluffy. Serve in small dishes with chocolate shavings to decorate.

I think this might be the easiest recipe in the world. Delicious, simple and very addictive! Come back in two days for a return to cake, and most specifically a Eurovision-themed post! Cannot wait!

Desserts · Vegan

Vegan Coconut and Vanilla Panna Cotta, Macadamia Tuille and Pineapple

Over the next few posts we are going on a slight diversion from the cake-based goodness you are used to, and instead will be talking about dessert. Specifically, vegan desserts, and I will be giving you the recipes for two that I tried recently. This was a new challenge for me, as I am not vegan myself, and have had basically no experience in this type of cooking. However, I was asked to make dessert for a family dinner and one of my cousins who would be in attendance is a very committed vegan. Now, whilst the easy option was to make a fruit salad or the like I decided that I didn’t really want to do that – rather I wanted to make a dessert that everyone could eat and enjoy – one that was vegan without looking vegan!

Now this is easier said than done, as the majority of desserts include some form of animal product, whether it be eggs, butter, cream or honey. Coupled with the fact that Max is strongly allergic to banana (another ingredient often used in vegan cooking) made it quite a large challenge! So I did what every sensible person does in this situation and hit Pinterest.

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I decided that I would make a trial run of several desserts, having never attempted vegan cooking before. I selected three contrasting desserts, made mini tests of each of them and had a taste test! The three recipes were a coconut and vanilla panna cotta, a chocolate and orange mousse and a lime cheesecake. Two out of the three were successful, and the third (the lime cheesecake) was not unsuccessful – it tasted great, I just need a better blender!

Today then, I present the first of these recipes – a vegan coconut and vanilla pannacotta served with a caramel macadamia tuille and both dried and macerated pineapple. This recipe could also be used successfully for non-vegans as the flavours themselves are lovely (I actually adapted the recipe from a non-vegan version!)

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Vegan Coconut and Vanilla Pannacotta, Macadamia Tuille and Pineapple (Two Ways)

Ingredients:

Panna cotta:

  • 20g vegetarian gelling agent
  • 150ml/5floz rice milk (or your preferred milk equivalent)
  • 150ml/5floz cream substitute
  • 25g/1oz caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
  • 100ml/3flz coconut milk

Tuille:

  • 50g macadamia nuts
  • 50ml/2flz orange liqueur
  • 100ml/31/2floz water
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp liquid glucose
  • Pineapple and edible flowers to decorate

Instructions:

Panna cotta:

Place the milk, cream, sugar and vanilla pod and heat until the sugar dissolves, before removing the pan from the heat. Stir in the coconut milk, ensuring the mixture is completely smooth. Add the gelling agent to the pan and bring to the boil, ensuring that you stir constantly. Cook for two minutes before removing from the heat and pouring into metal ramekins. Place in the fridge to set for at least two hours.

Macadamia Tuille:

Crush the macadamia nuts in a pestle and mortar, before placing on a baking sheet and gently toasting for a few minutes (keep your eye on them – I can promise you that if you even think of leaving them, they will burn!) Place the liqueur, water, sugar and glucose in a pan and cook over a high heat, swirling the pan occasionally. Allow it to become a nice amber colour, before removing from the heat and pouring onto a silicone baking mat. Spread it with a spatula until it is very thin,and sprinkle with the macadamia nuts. Cut out four discs (about 2in in diameter) and allow to cool completely.

Pineapple Crisps:

Peel and de-eye the pineapple, before cutting very thin slices using a large broad-bladed knife. Lay these on a foil lined baking sheet and bake in the oven at gas mark 1 for about 1 hour until they have started to dry out and the edges have gone golden, turning occasionally. Remove from the oven and leave to dry completely. You can create pineapple flowers by placing the slices in muffin tins to cool. Cut the remainder of the pineapple into cube and place in a bowl with a little lime juice and sugar.

To complete the dish, Remove the panna cotta from the fridge and remove from the mould, loosening with a sharp knife as necessary. Place in the centre of the plate and place the tuille on top. Position pineapple flowers to one side, and add cubes of pineapple. Finish with an edible flower.

And there we go – my first vegan dessert! In two days time, return for chocolate mousse – vegan style!

Baking · Cake · Desserts · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge

Lithuania: Karstas Sokoladas Tortas

ltlargeOver the last few weeks, Max has been asking ‘Where is your Lithuanian Cake? When is that one coming?’ I’ll admit, I was putting it off until I got a good idea, but here it is! I am proud to present, straight from the cold Baltic states, Karstas Sokoladas Tortas, or Hot Chocolate Cake

English: Vilnius at dusk

We went to Vilnius (the Lithuanian Capital) for my 24th Birthday two years ago, and quite frankly fell in love with it. From the beautiful old town to the impressive Trakai Castle, it was a lovely trip and one we would love to repeat (soon!). I also fell in love with the hot chocolate – so thick and chocolate-y that you had to eat it with a spoon! I was delighted therefore to discover that they also incorporated this into puddings, namely providing you with a bowl of melted chocolate, cream and almonds! This cake is inspired by the fond memory of that dessert.

Island castle of Trakai, Lituania Français : L...

A melting-centred chocolate ad almond cake, sprinkled with flaked almonds and served with whipped cream – Simply heaven on a plate!

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Karstas Sokoladas Tortas

Ingredients:

  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 100g butter, chopped
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 2 eggs and 2 yolks
  • 50g melted butter
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • Whipped cream, flaked almonds and grated dark chocolate, to decorate.

Instructions:

Using a pastry brush, cover the insides of four ramekins with melted butter and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes. Remove from the fridge and brush again with melted butter before adding in a small amount of cocoa powder, ensuring the entirety of the inside is covered. Repeat for the other ramekins and return to the fridge.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a small bowl, stirring until the mixture is smooth before leaving to cool for 10 minutes. Beat the eggs, yolks and sugar together until the mixture is thick and pale, forming a trail when the whisk is lifted. Use an electric whisk if possible – it’ll make your life so much easier! Sift in the flour and ground almonds and mix gently. Fold in the chocolate and butter mixture until you have a gently incorporated batter. Pour this into the moulds and return to the fridge for at least 45 minutes, preferably a few hours.

When you are ready to serve, preheat the oven to gas mark 6. Bake on the middle shelf for 16-18 minutes until the tops have a slight crust and the cakes have come away from the side of the pots. Leave for one minute before turning out onto a plate and decorating with the whipped cream and flaked almonds. Serve immediately and enjoy!

[Note on ovens: not all ovens are equal! The original recipe for these said they would only take 10 minutes – not the case with my oven, so I kept putting them back for further 2 minute intervals until they were done. This issue becomes problematic with dessert recipes like this when timing is so paramount, so you must keep a close eye on the puddings and don’t be afraid to keep them in longer (or indeed take them out sooner!) if they look done. Only you know how your oven works so don’t be afraid to experiment if these timings don’t work out perfectly! However, if it is slightly overdone, it is still delicious, it just wont melt in the middle!]