Monday, 28 December 2009

Apple, Cinnamon & White chocolate cheesecake

I've been having a little Christmas break in blogging, and it's actually more than a week from the last time I posted something. I haven't had time to cook anything else than Christmas food, and it feels it's about a time to start doing something else. Yesterday I visited my dear friend in Nummela, and I had promised to bake a cheesecake and to bring it with me. I wanted to try something new, and I got an inspiration when I thought about the apple & cinnamon cookies one of my friends had gave me as a Christmas present. Then straight away I decided to make a cheesecake with the apple & cinnamon theme, I added some white chocolate to the filling to give extra delicious flavour. And there were also apple sauce and cinnamon in the filling, of course. I must say this cake was very excellent, delicate and unique, it was perfect. When my friends ate it they were speechless, and one of my friends said that he will order this cake to his wedding! So I was very pleased, because I wasn't sure at all if this cake would be good. I think I'll make it again, quite soon. Because it was so perfect.

150g Bergen apple & cinnamon cookies
100g cinnamon Bastogne cookies (about ten pieces)
(if you can't find those cookies, use somekind of cinnamon cookies or digestive cookies)
100g butter or margarine
For the filling:
600g philadelphia cream cheese
200g creme fraiche (not low-fat)
3 eggs
200g white chocolate
juice of one lemon
grated zest of one lemon
2 dl powdered sugar
125g applesauce (you can buy it, but try t use one without any added sugar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon (you can put two, if you like it)

1. Heat the oven into 170°C. Crush the cookies well, melt the butter and mix with the cookie crumbs.

2. Line the base of the springform pan with a parchment paper, butter the sides of the pan. Spread the cookie crumbs on the base.

3. Melt the white chocolate.

4. Beat the chocolate (when it has cooled down a bit) with the creamcheese and the creme fraiche until smooth. Add vanilla extract, cinnamon, grated zest of lemon, juice of lemon, apple sauce, powdered sugar and the eggs. Mix carefully until smooth.

5. Spread over the cookie crumbs, even up.

6. Bake in the oven for 1,5 hours, take the heat off and let the cake stand in the oven for couple of hours. Then remove, cool down in the room temperature and keep in the fridge over night.

7. If you want to, you can decorate the cake with some cinnamon sprinkled over. Enjoy in a good company!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Date cupcakes for Christmas

I wanted to bake cupcakes suitable for Christmas, the only problem was to find a good recipe, and a recipe that seemed to be interesting. When I couldn't find one, I decided to make it myself. I love dates and we had a lot of them in the kitchen cupboard, that's why I finally made these lovely, lovely and addicting date cupcakes with créme fraîche glazing. The outcome was excellent. For the cupcake dough I used an ancient datecake recipe, a bit modified. The glaze I made up myself, and I'm quite proud of the whole combination, it was so wonderful. You know I've always thought that only chocolate can "take you to heaven", but these date cupcakes verify the fact that date can do that as well. I wish you enjoyable moments with these cupcakes (like I very much had) and be careful, you might get addicted!

makes about 25
For the cupcake dough:
400g dates (remove the seeds or use seedless)
240 ml water
240 ml white sugar (you could add less, because the dates are so sweet)
240 ml white flour
2 eggs
200g salted butter
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract

For the glaze:
200g créme fraîche
1 dl dates, chopped into very tiny chunks
5 dl powdered sugar
1/2 dl milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
25g melted butter

For the decoration:
25 sliced seedless dates

To make the dough:
1. Chop the dates with scissors into very tiny chunks (the smaller the chunks are the better the dough will become). Put the chopped dates into a big kettle with water and sugar. Boil the mixture to soften the dates, about 5-10 minutes. Take away from the heat. 

2. Cool down the mixture a bit, add the butter and then the eggs (first break them in a cup). Be careful not to add the eggs into a too hot mixture, because the egg whites might congeal). Mix well.

3. Mix the dry ingredients with each other and add them into the date mixture, mix well. 

4. Deal the dough into about 25 cups (it depends on the size of the cup, I had quite small cups). Leave some space for them for the rising, fill about 3/4 of the cups. 

5. Bake in the 200°C oven for 10-15 minutes, or until ready. Cool down before adding the glaze on top. 

To make the glaze:
1. Mix the créme fraîche, tiny date chunks, milk, lemon juice, melted butter and powdered sugar together in a bowl, mix well to create a smooth glaze. With spoon, put about two spoonfuls on top of the cupcakes. 

2. Then decorate with sliced dates. Enjoy! And remember to store them in the fridge. 

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Hazelnut toffees

These pretty little hazelnut toffees are one of the all time favourites, and perfect Christmas presents. They are very easy to make and I really enjoy pouring the toffee mixture into those small coloured metal cups. These toffees remind me of my childhood, and how toffee was a special treat then. It's nice to make these at Christmas time and memorize the good old days. 

makes about 40 toffees
2 1/2 dl white sugar
2 dl cream
1 1/2 dl milled hazelnuts (you could use almond too)
25g butter

1. Pour th sugar into a big kettle and let it get a nice light brown colour. Be careful not to fry it too long. Add the cream and let the caramel bubble up. Cook until the caramel thickens and it simmers with big bubbles. The caramel's temperature should be 120°C so that it will harden properly. 

2. Add the butter and the milled nuts, mix well. Pour into small aluminium cups, put in the fridge overnight. Store in the fridge. 

Cookie dough truffles

I found these tempting cookie dough truffles in the How sweet it is blog. I had to make them, they looked so irresistible. And if someone's wondering why on earth do I suddenly cook so many sweets, the answer is that all of these are going to be christmas presents. These cookie truffles are easy to make, and they really are what americans call yummy. It's a pity that these are going to be presents, I'd like to eat them myself.


1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1 can sweetened, condensed milk

3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

To coat:

400g milk chocolate (I used Fazer's blue)

1. In a large bowl cream butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Add vanilla. Gradually beat in flour and add milk. Add chocolate morsels, mixing well. Put in the fridge for 20-30 minutes, it helps you to roll the balls later.

2. Shape into little balls. Since the dough is sticky, roll your fingers into flour. This will make it easier to roll. Place on perchment paper; chill 2 hours.

3. Melt chocolate chips or disks in a double boiler.

4. Using 2 forks, dip cookie balls into candy coating to cover. Place on waxed paper and chill to set. Store in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Gnocchi verts avec sauce de tomates - Green gnocchi with tomato sauce

My dear friend gave me a lovely vegetarian recipe book which has only Mediterranean food from the French Provence. For a long time I've been intrigued to try the spinach gnocchi recipe, and today I finally made it. The tomato sauce I made from my own head, and with the gnocchis it was awesome. It was excellent, perfect and wonderful. It was really good. My mom praised it so much. I actually really love tomato sauce, it's so exuberant and it warms on a dark and cold day. This dish contains all the warmth of the French Riviera, just jump in!


For the spinach gnocchi:
For four persons
600g spinach, washed well
280g plain flour
4 tbsp just grated parmesan (and about 1 dl for serving)
half teaspoon just grated nutmeg
flour for baking

For the tomato sauce:
(if you want plenty, double the recipe)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, cut in half and then sliced
1 can garlic flavoured crushed tomatoes (about 400g)
70g tomato pureé
1 sweet red tapered pepper
some broccoli, about 100g
5-6 pieces of sun dried tomato
a dollop of soy cream
handful of fresh basilic, chopped
salt (herbamare)
black pepper

To make the spinach gnocchis:
1. Cook the washed spinach in water seasoned with salt for five minutes.

2. Put into a sieve, press the liquid away with a fork or with hands.
3. Chop the spinach and mix the flour, parmesan, salt and grated nutmeg to it well, so that the dough forms into a ball. Don't knead more than necessary because the dough is quite sensitive.
4. Cut the dough into four parts and roll the parts into bars. Cut the bars with a knife into 2 cm wide pieces, sprinkle some flour over.

4. Cook in a simmering water just for some time. The gnocchis are ready when they rise into the surface of the water, take them out when they do that. Strain the gnocchis carefully, then they're ready to serve with the tomato sauce and some grated parmesan sprinkled over.

To make the tomato sauce:
1. Sauté the sliced onion in olive oil in a large pan, add the red pepper (chopped into small chunks). Fry for a while, then add the broccoli (cut into smaller chunks).

2. Add the crushed tomatoes and the tomato pureé.

3. Slice the pieces of sun dried tomato, the add. Add the soycream, then the chopped basilic. Then add the salt, plenty of black pepper and some paprika. Lower the heat into the minimum and let stay under the lid for 10 minutes.

Cherry & coconut Florentines

These beautiful little hearts are cherry and coconut Florentines, wonderful present ideas for friends at Christmas. I found this recipe in a GoodFood magazine, and thought that I must try it. It was very easy and succeeded well, and the taste - mmmm! Just wonderful. I've never heard about Florentines before, but I think that from now on I'll make these every Christmas. 

Makes about 36 hearts
140g dark muscovado sugar
100ml clear honey (liquid)
200g salted butter
100g desiccated coconut
140g flaked almonds
300g glacé cherries, sliced into small pieces
4 tbsp plain flour
250g dark, mik or white chocolate (I used semi dark chocolate, about 50% cocoa)

1. Heat oven to 200°C. Put the sugar, honey and the butter in a large pan and gently melt together. When all the sugar has dissolved stir in the coconut, flaked almonds, sliced cherries and flour. 

2. Line a large baking tray with a parchment paper (about 40x30cm). Roughly spread the Florentine mixture out to a thin layer - don't worry if you have small gaps, it will melt together in the oven. 
3. Bake for 10-12 mins until a rich golden colour, the set aside to cool and firm up. 
4. Melt the chocolate in a small kettle over gently simmering water. 

5. Line a second large baking tray with a parchment paper and carefully flip the cooled Florentine bake onto it. Peel off the baking parchment. 

6. Spread the melted chocolate over, if you're using a few types just leave a gap between each one. 
7. Leave aside until set, then stamp out shapes using a preferable cookie cutter (I used heart, but you can use for example star or something else). If the cutter is diggind into your hands (as the Florentine mix may be a little hard), rest a small plate or pan on top of it and push down on this instead. 

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Finnish Christmas tarts with plum marmalade

These tarts are the traditionals Christmas bakings in Finland. I really love these, it's the must thing to eat every Christmas and we usually make the first tarts in the beginning of December so that we eat them the whole Christmas time. Some people make the tarts from a normal puff pastry, but I think those tarts aren't that good, they just don't have any flavour. We have always made our Christmas tarts from a quark-butter pastry, and this recipe is my father's mother's, Elsa's. I think it's the best one. And it's easy too. 
You can bake the Christmas tarts in different shapes, the classic one is the star shaped tart, then the half moon and the angel. 
I prefer the half moons, because they have more of the plum marmalade than the others, and I really love the plum marmalade. But of course the stars are prettier and more traditional. I really recommend trying these tarts, I'm sure you'll love them like I do. 

500g soft quark 
500g soft salted butter
500g plain wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp water

For the filling:
a lot of plum marmalade, about 600g 

1. Mix all the ingredients together (not the marmalade of course) and knead well into a smooth dough. Deal the dough in two. 

2. Roll out (on a table sprinkled with flour) one half of the dough into a big rectangular plate, about half centimetre thick. 
3. If you have the moulds for baking a half moon or a star you can use them and make the tarts.

4. If you don't, you can use a pasrty wheel and with it form the stars. To make the angel, use the same mould when making the stars, just fold the edges differently. 

5. Put a dollop of the marmalade in the center of the stars, then start folding: the sharp edges to the middle. Attach the edges with some egg or water.  

6. To make the half moons: use a round mould, put some of the marmalade on the other half of the circle and then turn the otherside on, use the mould to press the half moon closed. 

7. Move the tarts into a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and butter with egg. 
8. Bake in the 200°C oven for 10 minutes until lighlty golden. 
9. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving. Serve traditionally with glogg (or mulled wine).