Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.
It doesn’t matter if you share these with your significant other, with friends and family or simply keep them to yourself.
I knew I wanted to make something for Valentine’s Day, and when I saw this recipe I knew I wanted to make heart shaped brownies. I haven’t been making brownies for years, but I took Ree’s word for it that they were delicious, and they are. They are very rich and decadent, though, so a little goes a long way, but they are perfect for Valentine’s Day!
Dark Chocolate Brownies
(slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman, head over to her site to get the recipe in cups and ounces)
225 grams butter
150 grams dark chocolate
35 grams cocoa powder
350 grams sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
175 grams flour
120 grams dark chocolate chips
Powdered sugar for decorating
Preheat your oven to 180 °C. Grease or line a square (I used 23×23 cm) baking pan with parchment paper.
In a medium-large saucepan, melt the butter with the chocolate over low heat, stir occasionally until smooth. Add the cocoa powder and whisk to combine. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.
Add the sugar and vanilla and stir to combine, then whisk in the eggs, one at a time.
Gently stir in the flour until halfway incorporated, then add the chocolate chips and just until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spread out to even out the top and place it in the oven.
Bake for about 40 minutes. Insert a wooden skewer to the middle of the brownie, if it’s overly gooey, let it bake for 5-10 minutes more.
Allow to cool completely, then sift some powdered sugar over the brownies. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes or cut into squares.
When they are still warm, the brownies will seem overly gooey and soft, but as they cool, they will firm up. Ree says they are best served several hours after baking or even the next day.
Again, these brownies are rich and decadent and chocolate-y, so a little goes a long way.
In general, I’m not afraid of trying new things. I’m not adventurous, but I’m not afraid to try new stuff in the kitchen or craft projects. The first time I try something new, something that might seem daring or difficult, I just concentrate, follow the recipe or the instructions to the T and hope for the best. If it doesn’t turn out, I toss it in the bin and wait a few months before trying again.
So when the macaron craze popped up a few years ago, I decided to give it a try. If I remember well, the first batch was perfect, but the 2nd and 3rd didn’t turn out the way I wanted. So I went back to follow the recipe step by step and that’s when the macarons turn out perfect every time. Also, this is one of the recipes where you need a scale in order to get the proportions right.
What’s so fun with macarons is that there are so many flavours you can make, and you can mix and match almost endlessly.
This time, I made simple Chocolate Macarons, as I was making them for a friend’s birthday, one who’s a real Chocoholic, and therefore also filled them with a chocolate ganache.
Recipe and method taken from Tartelette. She made a tutorial called “Demystifying Macarons”
90 grams egg whites (from about 3 eggs), at room temperature
pinch of salt
30 grams granulated sugar
185 grams powdered sugar
15 grams cocoa powder
110 grams almond meal (finely ground almonds)
Ingredients for the ganache:
200 grams chocolate (I used a mix of dark and milk chocolate in this case), chopped
100 ml cream
If you have a food processor, blitz the already ground almonds to make a really fine almond meal, then add the powdered sugar and blitz again until the two ingredients a finely mixed together. Sift this mixture through a fine mesh sieve, then set aside.
In a large bowl, whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar and continue beating until you have a firm, glossy meringue.
Add the almond mixture to the egg whites at a time and carefully fold them in with a rubber spatula, a couple of quick strokes first, then slow down. The mixture should flow like magma. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes (I counted the first couple of times, then you get a feel for it). If you are not sure, place a bit of the mixture on a plate – if the top flattens on it’s own, you are good to go, if not, give the mixture a couple of more turns with the spatula. Be careful not to over mix.
Prepare 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. I usually turn the baking sheets upside down and place my silicone mats on top. This ensures a more flat surface to pipe your macarons on.
Fill your mixture in to a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (0.5 cm diameter), and pipe small rounds (about 3-4 cm) onto the prepared baking sheets. Let the macarons sit on the counter for 45 minutes to one hour before baking in order to harden the shells.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 160 ° C (or if you have an convection oven, preheat to 140 ° C). Bake the macaron shells for 12-15 minutes depending on your oven. If you use a convection oven, you can bake all 2-3 sheets at the same time).
Let the shells cool completely, and place them in the refrigerator for 48 hours. This will give the macarons the crisp shell and chewy centre. Alternatively, you can make them ahead and freeze them until you need them.
To make the ganache, slowly heat the cream until it’s almost boiling. Take away from the heat and add the chopped chocolate, let it sit for a couple of minutes. Then stir to incorporate and mix until smooth. Set aside until cool.
To assemble the macarons, line them up two by two, then pipe or spoon some of your ganache onto one of the shells, and sandwich them together with another.
And now – enjoy!
When I just started working, I was lucky and found a job in the Airline Industry. It was exiting and also a bit glamorous at the time, and the best thing about it, was that we had access to cheap (although stand-by) flights all over the world. My friend M. had relocated back to California, so I frequently went to visit her.
One of the best things about visiting her, was that we “always” went out for breakfast. Usually we went to a local breakfast place in Laguna and I would always order stuff that I wouldn’t find in Switzerland. So it was mostly pancakes or French toast. I was never able to recreate that perfect fluffiness that makes the American pancakes until this recipe – so they are truly the best buttermilk pancakes!
Personally, I think that pancakes are best when someone makes them for you, so maybe you could get your significant other to make them for you this weekend? Or, of course, since Valentine’s Day is coming up in a week – what better way to show your love than surprise your significant other with them?
The recipe is adapted from The Brown Eyed Baker, head over to her site if you need the recipe in cups and ounces.
Best Buttermilk Pancakes
280 grams flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
480 ml buttermilk
50 grams sour cream
3 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled
oil or butter to grease the pan
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In another large bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, the eggs and the melted butter.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mix gently until just combined, but do not over mix. Allow the batter to rest for about 10 minutes before cooking your pancakes.
I use a ⅓ cup measure to scoop batter into the pan, cook until the edges are set and the first side is golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Flip the pancakes and cook until the second side is golden brown. Serve immediately, with lot’s of maple syrup and a little bit of butter.
I’ve been wanting to make something with peanut butter for a while. I have the feeling that I am the only person in Switzerland who likes peanut butter, but of course that’s not true, they do sell it in every grocery store. I was originally going for home made peanut butter cups, but when I was so incredibly graciously gifted with Hershey’s kisses for Christmas (Thank you so much, M & D!), I decided that I wanted to make those cute Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies.
I didn’t want to use all the Hershey’s kisses for baking (since we don’t have them here in Switzerland), so I left some of the cookies bare at first, decorating them with melted chocolate once cooled.
I don’t know how many of you out there like peanut butter but if you like it just a little bit, you should try these. Those of you who have unlimited access to Hershey’s kisses, you should definitely try these. I used a recipe from The Brown Eyed Baker, but substituted the shortening for butter (obviously….). Head over to her site if you want the original recipe and/or if you want the recipe in cups and ounces.
Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies
48 Hershey’s kisses, unwrapped
113 grams butter, softened
150 grams peanut butter
125 grams light brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
210 grams flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Sugar to roll the cookies in
Preheat oven to 190° C.
In a medium bowl or using you stand mixer, cream the butter and the peanut butter together until well combined. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg, the milk and the vanilla extract, mix well. In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until well combined.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until slightly browned. Immediately press one Hershey’s kiss into the centre of each cookie. The cookie will crack around the edges. Place on a wire rack to cool.
Isn’t there something about the smell of a sweet yeasted dough in your kitchen that oozes comfort? And if you pair it with cinnamon, all you want to do is to curl up on your couch with a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate to accompany your afternoon snack. Right? Or maybe it’s just me. Anyway, I love this version of cinnamon buns. They look so delicate, almost like a blossom, kind of sophisticated. But the taste is just as comforting as your preferred blanket – these will make your day. They freeze very well, so you don’t have to eat all at once – and you have one ready in no time should you be in need of a pick-me-up!
I used the same yeasted dough recipe as for the King’s Cake, just because it was so easy to make, but also so so delicious. I just omitted the raisins and added a teaspoon of cardamom, which will give the taste more depth, and it compliments the cinnamon very well.
75 grams butter, melted
300 ml milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
30 grams yeast (I used a 7 grams packet of dry yeast)
approximately 500 grams flour
For the filling:
100 grams butter, softened
25 grams sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, the salt, the dry yeast, the cardamom and most of the flour. In a large measuring cup, mix together the milk and the melted butter. The mixture should not be too hot. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and lightly knead until you have a smooth dough (I used the dough hook on my stand mixer for this). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until double in size, about one hour.
After one hour, push down the dough without really kneading it , cover it again with plastic wrap and let it rise again until double in size, about one hour.
In the meantime, mix together the softened butter with the sugar and cinnamon in bowl, set aside.
Preheat your oven to 200° C
When the dough is risen, turn it out on a lightly floured surface and roll it out to a rectangle about 50 x 30 cm. Spread the cinnamon-sugar-butter onto the surface, then fold the dough over lengthwise. Use a sharp knife or a pizza cutter to cut strips of the dough.
Twist and turn each strip of dough a couple of times, then wrap the twisted strip of dough around your fingers before securing the end by pushing it down the top. I just realised that it sounds very complicated. There’s a video here (in Norwegian, but you will get the point) that shows it.
Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with a clean tea towel and let them rest for about 20-30 minutes.
Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
If you’re like me, you can sprinkle some royal icing on top for decoration.
Each weekend, I usually bake something for our afternoon tea/coffee – or le goutér as they say in French. Since I started blogging, I usually take the opportunity try new recipes before they appear on the blog. For some reason, I really craved a swiss roll style cake. Maybe because they seem to come back in style, I’ve seen many other food bloggers featuring them lately.
So I flipped through my books and found this easy Chocolate Roulade that looked delicious and that was le goutér of the day. I really was delicious, just the right amount of chocolate and cream. Most Swiss Roll Cakes I have made have cracked, which is probably why I haven’t made them much, but this one was easy to roll – I’m definitely making this again!
I have a half sheet pan so I decided to halve the recipe, but the measurements below are for a full size roulade. As always, I adapted it slightly to my own taste.
175 grams dark chocolate, broken into pieces
175 grams sugar
6 large eggs, separated
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
For the filling:
300 ml heavy whipping cream
Preheat the oven to 180° C.
Lightly grease your jelly roll pan and line with parchment paper, making sure to push the parchment well into the corner to prevent creases.
Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie over low heat, then set aside to allow to cool slightly.
Put the egg yolks and the sugar in the mixer bowl of your stand mixer and whip until pale and fluffy – this will take several minutes. Add the melted chocolate and the cocoa powder and mix until incorporated.
In a separate medium bowl, whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff. Add a spoonful of the egg whites to the egg yolk/sugar/chocolate mixture and mix to break them up and lighten the dough, then gently fold in the rest of the egg whites.
Turn the mixture into the prepared pan and gently level the surface. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until firm to the touch.
Remove the cake from the oven, but leave it in the pan. Place the cooling rack on top of the pan and cover it with a clean, damp tea towel. Leave it to cool for several hours or overnight. If the towel dries out, re-dampen it. The cake will shrink slightly.
When the cake is completely cool, whip the cream for the filling until it holds it shape.
Dust a large piece of parchment paper with powdered sugar. Turn the roulade onto paper and peel of the paper that lined the pan.
Spread the whipped cream over the cake and roll it up from the short end. Use the paper to help if needed. Place it with the seam down on a plate and dust with powdered sugar.
I’m continuing on the healthy path for one more post. I’ve been wanting to make these cookies since I saw them in Dorie Greenspans “Baking” cookbook a couple of years ago, but never got around to it before now. And I’m so glad I finally made them! They are surprisingly good and will definitely be on my regular rotation of cookies. They are the right mix between chewy and soft and sweet and substantial and filling. I think I will try different mixes of dried fruits and nuts, I imagine dried cranberries would be awesome. Hope you will like them as much as I do.
One of my favourite bloggers, The Brown Eyed Baker, adapted them on her blog last January and I wanted to go with her recipe. But then I started making them and before I knew it I had adapted the recipe even more. I often tweak recipes when I convert them from cups/ounces to grams and millilitres, but this time I discovered I didn’t have everything needed and I was too lazy to go to the store. So this is my version below.
Muesli is a Swiss invention (read about it here), and seeing that I live in Switzerland I should make an effort to make more Swiss recipes for my blog. I’ll do my best, and I start right now.
210 grams butter, at room temperature
150 grams light brown sugar
300 grams muesli, without raisins or nuts
140 grams flour
15 grams wheat germ
100 grams raisins
75 grams mixed nuts (or nuts of your choice), chopped
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 190° C.
In a medium or large bowl, mix together the muesli, the raisins, the nuts and the wheat germ.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the butter on low, then add the sugar and continue to beat the two together until creamy. Add the egg and the salt and mix on medium speed until well blended. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until incorporated, then slowly add the muesli mixture. Mix on low until the muesli is incorporated. The dough will be very firm.
Scoop out balls of dough, and roll them between your palms to form a ball, then flatten it out on the parchment paper or silicone mat that lines your cookie sheets. The dough should make about 24 cookies, that’s when you know you have the right size.
Bake the cookies for about 12-15 minutes depending on your oven. They should be golden but still soft. Let the cookies sit on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
I ate one while it was still warm, and with a cup of coffee. Delicious!
I thought I would at least make an effort to avoid the really decadent stuff so early in January. While I do eat more sweets and cakes and desserts during the holiday than otherwise during the year, I don’t usually put on weight before the end of the winter.:-( . Oh well, here’s to hoping this year will be different. Anyway, I’m trying to hold the cream cheese frostings and ganache fillings at least for a couple of weeks.
These scones are perfect for breakfast or afternoon tea with some jam, slightly warm from the oven, slathered in butter (or hold the butter if you’re trying to cut back on the fat)… The recipe is slightly adapted from Mary Berry.
450 grams flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
75 grams butter, at room temperature
50 grams sugar
2 large eggs
about 225 ml milk
Preheat the oven to 220° C.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, the salt and the baking powder to ensure there. Cut or rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
In a large measuring jug, beat together the eggs, then pour in enough milk to make it up to the 300 ml mark. Set aside about 2 tablespoons to glaze the scones with before baking.
Slowly add the milk mixture to the flour mixture, stirring until you have a soft dough. It is better that the dough is on the sticky side, as the scones then will rise better.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and flatten it with your hand to a thickness of about 1-2 cm. Use a 5 cm fluted cutter to stamp out the scones by pushing the cutter straight down into the dough (as opposed to twisting it) and then lift it straight out. This ensures that the scones will rise evenly and keep their shape. Gently push the remaining dough together, knead lightly, flatten again with your hand and cut more scones. Repeat as needed.
Place the scones on lightly greased cookie sheets and brush with the remaining egg wash. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool, cover them with a clean tea towel to keep them moist.
Serve them with lot’s of butter and a little bit of jam, or however you prefer them.
I really surprised myself by not only making a gateau des rois (King’s Cake) for Epiphany this year, but actually also making the galette des rois. I have always preferred the gateau des rois for its similarity to the Norwegian rosinbolle, but I did some research and I found this recipe by Chocolate & Zucchini and absolutely had to try it. I love almond based cakes and pastries, and this one is just perfect. I used ready-made puff pastry and tweaked Clotilde’s here and there and the result was divine. I’m going to make this galette again, and not only for Epiphany – it’s too good to wait that long.
I strongly suggest that you head over to Chocolate & Zucchini for more on the French traditions for this galette and the traditions around Epiphany.
500 grams puff pastry (use the best quality you can find, with real butter if possible – or make your own)
For the créme d’amande (almond cream):
125 grams butter, softened
125 grams powdered sugar
65 grams whole almonds, finely ground
65 grams blanched almonds, finely ground
8 grams (one tablespoon) corn starch (Maizena)
a good pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or orange flower water
For the egg wash:
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon of milk or water
For the glaze:
1 tablespoon powdered sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon boiling water
Start by preparing the crème d’amande. In a medium bowl, mix together the finely ground almonds, the sugar, the corn starch and the salt. In another medium bowl, cream the butter, but don’t incorporate any air into it. Add the almond mixture to the butter, mix to incorporate. Add the Grand Marnier or the orange flower water, mix well. Add one egg at a time, mixing well after each addition. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour or overnight.
Roll out your puff pastry and cut two circles of approximately 30 cm in diameter. Place one of them on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Use your egg wash to brush around the edge of one of the puff pastry circles, about 2 cm wide. Spread the almond cream within the circle. If you are making this galette for Epiphany, place your fève somewhere on the almond cream. Cover the filling with the second circle of puff pastry and smooth it our over the filling to remove any air pockets and press it firmly down around the edges to seal.
Score the galette with the dull side of a knife blade, pushing down gently without piercing it. I made a sun pattern like Chocolate & Zucchini (seemed the easiest things to do, to be honest), but there are many other patterns out there, so you just choose which one you like most.
Then, using the dull side of the knife blade, and holding it upright, push the dough inward where each “sun ray” ends, to make a decorative pattern .
Brush the galette with egg wash, making sure that the egg wash doesn’t drip over the edges, as this will impede the rising of the puff pastry. Then, using the tip of your knife, pierce five holes in the top dough, one in the centre and four around the edges. This will ensure an even rise.
Now, refrigerate your galette for one hour.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 180° C. Bake the galette in the middle of the oven for about 30-35 minutes, until golden brown. When your galette is done, prepare the glaze (mix one tablespoon of powdered sugar with boiling water), brush the galette with it and pop it back in the oven for just one minute. This will give it a glossy finish. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Eat the galette at room temperature or warm, just as you prefer. Clotilde from Chocolate & Zucchini says it’s traditionally paired with Champagne or hard cider (I tried it with cider - delicious!)
I’ve never made a king’s cake before, I always just go and buy one. Epiphany always sneak up on me, all of a sudden it’s the 6th of January and then I didn’t plan ahead. This year, I surprised myself by not only thinking ahead but also got around to make one. I originally wanted to make my go-to sweet yeasted dough, but then I decided to try something new and tried this one from Swissmilk (in French). It’s really delicious, and the recipe is easy, just plan enough time to let it rise twice.
100 grams golden raisins
75 grams butter, melted
300 ml milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
30 grams yeast (I used a 7 grams packet of dry yeast)
approximately 500 grams flour
1 egg yolk, mixed with 1 tablespoon milk, for the egg wash
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 tablespoon nib sugar or decorating sugar
In a small bowl, cover the raisins with boiling water and let them soak for about one hour.
In a large bowl, mix the sugar, the salt, the dry yeast and most of the flour. In a large measuring cup, mix together the milk and the butter. The mixture should not be too hot. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and lightly knead until you have a smooth dough (I used the dough hook on my stand mixer for this). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until double in size, about one hour.
Drain the soaked raisins and add them to the dough. Let the dough rise again until double in size, about one hour.
Cover a cookie sheet with grease proof paper. When you are ready to roll out the buns for your king’s cake, separate ¼ of the dough, form this to a bun and place it in the middle of the cookie sheet. Form eight buns of the rest of your dough and place them a couple of cm apart around the middle. If you have a “feve” (trinket), hide it in one of the buns. Cover the cake with a damp cloth and let it rest/rise for about 20 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 200° C.
Prepare the egg wash and brush your cake with it, then sprinkle with sliced almonds and the nib sugar. Bake your King’s Cake for 25-30 minutes.
We eat ours with butter (what else). The person who gets the “feve” is king for the day, and can wear the crown. More on the tradition here.