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Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

Struffoli

How much do you love these right now?

They are marble size fried balls of dough that comes out to play at Christmas time in most Italian home. The dough is simply made with some flour, eggs, butter and some aromatic. Traditionally a few teaspoon of orange or lemon zest is added to the dough. For this recipe, I swap the zest for some grounded cinnamon, ginger and a dash of nutmeg to spice up the dough nice and merry.

What tempted me most about making this is that after frying, the entire ball is coated in honey! This makes my head spin with excitement. The honey coat also gives out a pretty shine and helps each morsel adhere to each other. I imagine them hugging together tightly.

The best part about waking up on Christmas morning is getting my hands all sticky by breaking off each piece and having them with my morning coffee. And getting those tiny bits of sprinkle stuck under my teeth is just half the fun.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis. Click here for the recipe.

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Baked Apple Empanadas

Are you in the mood for something stuffed?

Do you have a craving for something sweet and flaky?

Are you in love with little stuffed-baked-apple-pie also known as empanadas?

If you’re nodding yes to all of the above then preheat your oven to 375F and let’s start baking.

What you need for the pastry:

1 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 tablespoons iced water
1 teaspoon vinegar

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour and salt. Then cut in the butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Then combine the iced water and vinegar and add in to the flour mixture and mix it all together until it forms a ball. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate it for 30 minutes or until ready to use.

Then roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut into circles with a cookie cutter or you can use the rim of a drinking glass.

Place a small amount of the apple filling in the center of each circle and then moisten the edges with water and then fold it over to form a half circle. Now press the edges together to seal.

Brush the top with egg wash and then give it some cinnamon-sugar love to finish.

Pop that into the preheated oven and let the love bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

For the filling:
2 large granny smith apples, peeled and diced
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tbs granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Mix all of the above ingredients together.

These cute little hand pies are definitely one of my go-to on fast and easy desserts. You can also make these ahead of time and freeze it until you want to eat them.

These apple empanadas are a great alternative to the traditional whole apple pie. Plus its less messy when you want to eat them on the go. Of course they are no rules here. You can plate them up really pretty and serve this up with your favorite ice cream or whipped cream for the full effect!

Ps: I love this hot with vanilla and caramel ice-cream.

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Gulab Jamun

I have been obsessed with making fritters lately. I absolutely love the sight of those tiny deep fried sweeten dough. It’s comforting and very forgiving. You really cannot go wrong making it. Those uneven shapes and irregular burn patches makes them special and oh so delicious.

These babies are my latest obsession. I tried them once at my favorite Indian restaurant here in the city and now, I am hooked. I love the earthy combination of cardamom and the delicate flavor of rose in this fritter. It can also be somewhat sensual.  But what makes this fritter special is that after it is fried, it is then soaked in a syrup flavored in rosewater. You can serve this gorgeous dumplings warm or at room temperature. I like mine scattered with some chopped pistachios, it does make a pretty dessert plate.

Gulab Jamun

1 cup dry non-fat milk powder
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons clarified butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup warm milk
a pinch of ground cardamom
a pinch of salt

vegetable oil for deep frying

In a large bowl, mix together the milk powder, flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt. Next, add in the melted clarified butter and then mix in the milk until well blended. Cover the mixture and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.

Heat enough oil in a heavy skillet or use a dutch oven on medium heat for deep frying. Gently knead the dough, and form them into small balls, about 20 – 25.

Lower the heat before dropping the balls in the hot oil. Deep fry the balls in batches. They will start to float and expand from their original size after 3 minutes. Then, increase the heat back to medium and turn them frequently until lightly golden.

Now, remove the fritters from the oil and let them drain and rest on paper towels. After it’s cooled, immerse the fritters into the syrup for a couple of hours before serving as they will start to plump up. You can serve this dumplings chilled, room temperature or even slightly warm.  

Rose water syrup

2 cups white sugar
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon rose water

To make the syrup, place sugar and water in a pot and bring it to a boil. Allow it to simmer and 5 minutes. Then add in the rose water and set aside.

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Pink Blossom Cake

Sometimes the best gifts are the ones you make or the ones you bake. It’s the gifts that comes from the heart are the ones that matters the most. And it doesn’t hurt if the gift you’re giving is something sweet and covered in delicious frosting too. Like this cute little cake.

I baked this cake for a friend awhile back, it’s a vanilla cake layered in double chocolate fudge. I wanted to make a small cake just because I know she would love it. So, I bake it in a six inch round cake pan in three layers, and then filled each layer with some double chocolate fudge. Then, I frosted the entire cake with chocolate buttercream.

Using ready-made fondant tinted in pale pink, I cut out some tiny blossoms using a plastic cutter and then, piped some vanilla buttercream in the middle. Then, I decorated all over the top of the cake with the tiny blossoms. I also tinted some of the fondant in dark green for the leaves. After it all came together, I realize that the cake now looks like a tiny flower pot. Which wasn’t part of my original plan but somehow it worked.  At least, I think so. This tiny little cake would really brighten up just about anyone’s day on any occasion. Let them know you care.

 

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Somewhere along the line, it seems that within a blink of an eye we all welcome another new year yet again. Lately, I feel like I need to catch my breath these days as time is flying by so fast. I also find myself playing the “remember when” game a lot often that I used to. Only now, it’s for the benefit of my now slowing down memory.

With the new year, comes resolutions –  some of us will recycle last year’s resolution or start a new one. It’s a promise we make to kick certain bad habits away. I believe the whole thing is part of the New Year’s charm and traditions.

This year, I will be making my first wedding cake. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited and nervous I am about this. I have all sorts of blueprints swimming in my head on how it’s going to go down. I do have a couple of designs that I have short listed and hopefully the bride will approve. This won’t happen until spring but still, being the neurotic person that I am I can’t stop stressing.

 

But for now, I would like to share with you what I baked over the weekend to welcome the New Year.
These are my sexy go to cupcakes. They are just plain vanilla cupcakes with rich raspberry frosting. Its fuss free, it’s pink and it’s pretty. To me, these cupcakes give out a very Marie Antoinette flair to it. There is a certain grace about baking something pretty like this and serving it to your loved ones. They will also make you feel like a rock star at any party.

Raspberry Cream Frosting

1 ½ cups heavy cream
1-teaspoon Pure Vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup frozen Raspberries, thawed

Using an electric mixer, whipped together the heavy cream with vanilla extract and powdered sugar to a stiff peak.
Puree the frozen berries until smooth in a food processor. Then run the puree through a mesh sieve. 
Now, fold in crushed Raspberries with the whipped cream mixture. Allow the frosting to rest in the fridge covered for about twenty minutes before you use it to frost the cupcakes.

 

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Chocolate Orange Marble Cake

I love the sweet combo of chocolate and orange flavored dessert. It seems somewhat elegant when both of these elements combine. It’s like finishing off your outfit with the right pair of shoe. It magically comes together.

I used to bake this cake a lot when I was younger. Mainly because it was my first try at swirling two different cake batters together to create the marble effect; which at that time was exciting – and it’s still is.

I wanted to bake this marble cake again only this time I wanted to layer it with a rich dark chocolate ganache. I halved the recipe and bake it in a six inch cake pan. I really love making small cakes just because it feels right to me. It puts less pressure on me so I won’t feel the need to eat the entire cake by myself since I don’t really like to share.

You can dress up this cake any way you like. It will be delicious either way. I frost the entire cake with a dark chocolate ganache and then pipe little rosettes using the same buttercream that I used for when I made my Dobos Torte but you can use any type of frosting you want here. Then, I use strips of frosted candied orange peel that I made a day earlier to finish the look. (look out for that in my next post)

 

Chocolate Orange Marble Cake

1 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup non-fat vanilla yogurt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons grated orange zest
3 tablespoon orange juice
2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8 inches round cake pan.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then beat in the eggs one at a time and then add in the vanilla extract, yogurt and then add in the grated orange zest and the juice.

Sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Stir in the flour mixture into the creamed ingredients.

Divide the batter in half using two separate bowls. Mix in the melted chocolate in one of the bowls fold it in and mix it well.

Now, spoon the orange and chocolate batter into the greased cake pan. Using a knife or a skewer, swirl the two batters to create the marble effect. Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the cake is done.

 

Chocolate Ganache

1 cup semisweet (or bittersweet) chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream

Melt the chocolate and heavy cream over a double boiler.

Allow the mixture to cool down in the refrigerator, stirring it occasionally until you reached the desired consistency to frost your cake.

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Dobos Torte

I fell in love with Dobos Torte right from the start. I guess it’s because I have always been fascinated with the beauty of multi layered cakes.  The sight of sweet pastry piled high is pretty hard to resist don’t you think?

I decided that I had enough of craving this cake through pictures on my cookbook and master up the will to just bake it already. It was a nice lazy day, to just take things easy. To just give each and every layer love, care and frosting and then somehow, those little delicate sponge layers sort of magically became that famous European cake in my tiny kitchen in New Jersey.  

And, you know what? It was everything I thought it would be. 

Traditionally, this cake is made with five sponge layers, but I got carried away and made eight layers.  The very top layer is what makes this cake special. It has a very thin coat of a hard candy-like toffee. Not only does it make this cake look pretty, it also prevents this cake from drying. That is so neat.

I made a petite version of this cake, just so I wouldn’t feel guilty eating the entire thing. Which, I didn’t. I baked mine in a six inch round cake pan but you could use an eight or nine depending on which size you prefer.

Recipe source:Allrecipes.com
 

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Lately, I have been toying with different ideas on what to bake this season. There are many beautiful fall flavors this season that are all very comforting with rich spice and very intoxicating aroma and yet, somehow I decided to go with Nigella Lawson’s chocolate raspberry pavlova. I know that this has nothing to do with my whole fall flavor them. But for me, just one bite of this babies makes me fell all warm and fuzzy inside. Which I think it’s the whole point. I just couldn’t help but make this over the weekend.

I did however make two small changes (variation):
1.  I made individual ones instead of making a whole pavlova.
2.  I substitute the whipped cream for vanilla ice cream.

 I have to say how much I love the whole chocolate and raspberry pair in this pretty little dessert. They do play very well together and I wouldn’t change that at all.

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Rainbow Cupcakes

I have always wanted to make these cuties. I guess I love the idea of having six different colors, all neatly lined up in pretty layers. I was very inspired by these from the first time I’ve set my eyes on it by checking out various cupcake photos on Flickr.

I really had a lot of fun making them that I didn’t even mind the mess I made in the kitchen.
I don’t know if it’s just me but don’t you think they look pretty retro? Maybe it has something to do with those rainbow colors, kinda reminds me of the seventies. So groovy.

There are different variations to make this;
A: you can use a package of cake mix either white or vanilla and then follow the instruction on the box.
B: you can go ahead and make your own batter using your favorite vanilla or butter cake recipe.
(I went with B just in case you’re wondering)

Then divide the cake batter in six separate bowls. Now, I used six different gel food coloring (red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple) Add each colors to the batter in the divided bowls. Now comes the fun part, we layer them! Starting with the first color, drop the batter neatly into a prepared baking pan or use individual baking cups for cupcakes. You need to spoon the batter one by one into the middle of the pan to create a neat circle. (If you can) I followed the order of the rainbow so I went with red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.

Then baked in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into cake comes out clean. But if you’re baking cupcakes then bake it for about 15 minutes. Let cool on pans and then further on wire rack before you start frosting.

As for the frosting, you can pretty much use whatever you like. There are no rules. It will taste lovely either way.

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Raspberry Frozen Yogurt Roll

When I was little, my dad would buy an artic roll frozen dessert. I am not sure if you’ve heard of it and I am not sure if they still make it anymore but back then this was a hit at my home. Artic roll is a British dessert made from vanilla ice cream and then rolled with a layer of plain sponge cake that had been brushed with raspberry jam. So, it’s kinda like a cross between a swiss roll and an ice cream cake and yeah, it was so good.

If I finished eating everything on my plate at that time, I would be rewarded with a small slice and I would eat this really slow, just to savor the moment.

So the other day I made a vanilla swiss roll sponge. Thinking that I was going to use the classic whip cream filling, but then as I was taking the vanilla sponge out of the oven I had a flash back of when I was younger and eating this lovely frozen dessert roll. Has that ever happen to you before?  Well it was pretty vivid. It made me crave for an artic roll so bad that I had to change my plans with the classic swiss roll and go with a frozen dessert roll.

I use plain non-fat frozen yogurt in place of the ice cream and I also use fresh raspberries for the filling. I gotta say that the balance of the sweetness from the sponge and the tartness from the yogurt was pretty explosive. This is definitely a nice twist to my nostalgic dessert.

Raspberry Frozen Yogurt Roll

Sponge Roll
3 eggs
½ cup sugar
¾ cup self-raising flour
2 tablespoon melted butter
2 tablespoon sugar, extra

Filling
¼ cup raspberry jam (seedless)
1 cup plain non-fat frozen yogurt
½ cup fresh raspberries

To finish
1 cup whipped cream
Fresh raspberries to decorate

Greased and line the base and sides of  a 9” x 12” inch jelly roll pan, with parchment paper.

Beat eggs in a bowl with an electric mixer for about 3 minutes or until thick and creamy. Gradually add in the sugar and continue to beat until dissolved between each addition. Then fold in flour and butter. Spread mixture into prepared pan.

Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 12 minutes.

Turn cake immediately on to parchment paper sprinkled with the extra sugar. Trim edges from sides of cake. Spread warm cake evenly with raspberry jam, frozen yogurt and fresh raspberries. Roll up from the short side using paper as a guide. Keep in freezer until you’re ready to serve.

Before serving, spread the top with some fresh whipped cream and then decorate the top with fresh raspberries.

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