Sunday, 29 November 2009

Salted caramel chocolate cake

This is the second cake I made on my birthday. It's hard to describe the cake or say anything else about it - it was so good. And it wasn't just good, it was the best chocolate cake I'd ever eaten. Really, all you could do was just sigh when you ate it, it's chcolate heaven. It has everything a chocolate cake should have, and even more. It was perfect. And I have to tell you the story of this cake, it's from a GoodFood magazine, which was the 20th birthday special number. They had arranged a competition in baking cakes for the 20th birthday, and this cake was on the final tree. I actually don't know which cake was the winner, but this really could have been the one.

I think the salty-sweet combination was wonderful (it actually wasn't that evident, you had to taste carefully and then you could notice that ahaa, this cake has a tiny salty flavour). I really loved the moistness of this cake, and at first I was wondering that would it bee too sweet with the caramel filling, but actually it wasn't too sweet at all. Though you can't eat a very big slice, because the cake is so rich and heavy. But my point is you reallly should try this cake. Because it's too good to be true.


For the cake base:
115g salted butter, plus extra for greasing
225g plain chocolate (70% cocoa)
150 ml milk
225g dark muscovado sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated
150 ml crème fraîche
225g plain white wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sea-salt crystals

For the caramel filling:
This makes a bit too much, but you can use the leftovers for something else.
450g caster sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
115g salted butter
125 ml double cream
2 tbsp crème fraîche

For the chocolate ganache:
225g plain chocolate (70-80% cocoa)
250 ml double cream
dessertspoon sea salt crystals

For the decoration:
chocolate truffles, about ten pieces (150g)

1. First, make the caramel. Pour 100 ml water into a large saucepan. Add the sugar and golden syrup, gently cook until melted, then turn up the heat a bit and cook until the caramel is dark golden brown colour. Swirl the pan occasionally to prevent sticking but do not stir. It can take 15 minutes to get the right colour, so be patient.

2. Turn off the heat and carefully whisk in the butter in small pieces, double cream and crème fraîche - it will bubble up quite high. Whisk until smooth, then leave to cool until slightly set.

You can make this up to 3 days in advance and chill in the fridge - just gently reheat until soft enough to spread before assembling the cake.

3. Now make the cake. Heat oven to 180°C. Grease a 23cm springform cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.
4. Melt the chocolate, butter and mik in a kettle over a low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, then beat in the sugar and vanilla. Move into a big bowl. Cool slightly.
5. Beat the egg yolks and crème fraîche together, then mix this into the chocolate mixture followed by the flour and baking powder.

6. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff peaks form. Stir a third of the egg whites into the cake mix, then gently fold in the rest along with the sea salt.

7. Pour into a prepared tin and bake for 40-50 minutes until firm to touch and when a wooden stick comes out from the cake clean. Leave to cool for 20 minutes or longer, then remove from the tin and finish cooling on a wire rack.

8. For the ganache, heat the chocolate and the cream together over a low heat until the chocolate has melted. Pour into a bowl to cool. I noticed that the ganache I made become quite thin, and maybe it was because the cream I used wasn't that heavy (it was about 20% fat) so it was quite thin and when I decorated the cake it really spread a lot so I didn't need the whole ganache. Next time when I make this cake I think I'll try turkish yogurt instead of the cream, because the ganache should be thicker and the turkish yogurt is excellent for that.
9. To assemble, slice the cooled cake in half horizontally. Sandwich together with some of your caramel, you may not need it all. It happened to me that I put too much of the caramel and it spread on the sides of the plate I had the cake on, so I really suggest to be careful with amount of the caramel, if you wan't to succeed perfectly.

10. Then, spread the ganache over the top of the cake (and not too much, if it's too fluid it will spread a lot) and decorate with the truffles ( I used Belgian Neuhaus truffles) and sprinkle over some sea salt crystals, if you like.


Saturday, 28 November 2009

Strawberry swirl cheesecake

This cake is one of the two cakes I made on my birthday. I waited forward making it, because it seemed so good and the swirl decoration looked very pretty. I also liked the addition of condensed milk in this cake. It actually gave a wonderful moist flavour. I really loved this cake, and so did the others too. It was a perfect cake, easy to make and it tasted awesomely good!! That's it.


    1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs

    1/4 cup sugar (I would put half less)

    1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted

    2 (10 ounce) packages frozen sweetened strawberries, thawed

    1 tablespoon cornstarch

    3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

    1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

    1/4 cup lemon juice

    3 eggs

    1 tablespoon water

    1. Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter. Press onto the bottom of an ungreased 9-in. springform pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

    2. In a blender or food processor, combine strawberries and cornstarch; cover and process until smooth. Pour into a saucepan; bring to a boil. Boil and stir for 2 minutes. Set aside 1/3 cup strawberry sauce; cool. Cover and refrigerate remaining sauce for serving.

    3. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy.

    4. Gradually beat in milk.

    5. Add lemon juice; mix well. Add eggs, beat on low just until combined.

    6. Pour half of the cream cheese mixture over crust. Drop half of the reserved strawberry mixture by 1/2 teaspoonfuls onto cream cheese layer. Carefully spoon remaining cream cheese mixture over sauce. Drop remaining strawberry sauce by 1/2 teaspoonfuls on top. With a knife, cut through top layer only to swirl strawberry sauce.

    7. Bake at 150°C for 45-50 minutes or until center is almost set. Take the heat off, let stand in the oven for one hour, leave the oven door open. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; refrigerate overnight. Remove side of pan. Thin chilled strawberry sauce with water if desired; serve with cheesecake.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Carrot, red cabbage & onion salad with grilled halloumi

This recipe is from a GoodFood magazine. I changed the dressing a bit, otherwise it's the same. I had to try this salad, it sounded so good and I think the ingredients are lovely. I really like halloumi cheese, and it was a wonderful companion to red cabbage, onion and carrots. The beautiful herbs and the lime dressing gave the salad nicely tangy taste, and this is a great lunch with some good bread and hummus. It's also very good for your health, it contains a lot of important vitamins. 
In the original recipe it says four carrots and a half of a red cabbage, but it's quite a lot (6-8 persons could eat from  that) so I think you wouldn't need that much of them. But if you have small carrots then it's okay. 

2oog halloumi cheese
4 carrots, cut into sticks or grated
1/2 red cabbage, finely shredded
2 small red onions, finely sliced
handful or more fresh mint leaves
handful or more fresh coriander leaves
handful toasted (not necessarily toasted) peanuts, roughly chopped
For the dressing:
juice 2 limes
1 tbsp olive oil
black pepper about 2 tsp

1. Steep the halloumi in a bowl with cold water for 3o minutes (otherwise it's too salty). Cut it into slices and grill it in the oven or with a grill, so it warms and gets some colour on the edges. 
2. Tip the carrots, onions and cabbage into a big bowl. 
3. Make the dressing by mixing all the ingredients.
4. Pour about half of the dressing over the salad, tossing the vegetables in the dressing. Add the cheese, then herbs and peanuts on top and pour the rest of the dressing over. 

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Chunky geisha almond cookies

This evening we are having a little "Before Christmas" party with my friends. I really had some trouble in thinking what should I bake and bring there. When I remembered I had bought finnish Fazer's Geisha chocolate for baking I decided to make these wonderfully big and delicious cookies. The original recipe is from a GoodFood magazine, but I've changed it a bit. I used different chocolate, sugar and nuts. The original recipe is good too, but I wanted to try something new. These cookies are really easy to make, and I love the ingredients (what could be better than chocolate and nuts?) and I love the way the cookies look (so BIG and beautiful and of course they taste just great. So you can change the recipe using different nuts or chocolate if you want, just keep the amounts of the ingredients the same. I really recommend these, it's impossible to fail with this recipe!

about 200g Geisha chocolate
100g butter, chopped (I used 1 dl baking margarine made from rape oil)
1 dl dark muscovado sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar
1 egg
100g whole almonds
1 1/2 dl plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1. Heat oven to 180°C degrees. Melt 130g of Geisha chocolate in a small kettle which is inside a bigger kettle with simmering water, until the chocolate is a smooth liquid. 

2. Beat the egg with a mixer until it's fluffy.

3. Add the butter and the sugars to the chocolate mixture and combine the two mixtures, mix well until smooth.

4. In a bigger bowl combine the flour, 1/3 of the almonds and the bicarbonate of soda. 

5. Mix well, then beat in the chocolate-egg mixture. 

6. Mix well, then add the rest of the chocolate (65g, chop it into smaller chunks first) and mix again. 

7. Take two baking sheets, heap about 12 spoonfuls of the cookie mixture on them spaced apart (the dough spreads a lot, so you can make quite tiny spoonfuls) and don't spread the mixture. 
8. Then poke in the reserved 2/3 of the almonds. 

9. Bake for about 12 minutes, and let the cookies cool on the sheets for at least 20 minutes. If you try to take them away from the sheets too early you easily break them. 

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

4 super berries smoothie

I had a craving for berries, that's why I had to make this extremely fresh and delicious smoothie on  this dark and rainy evening. Wintertime in Finland is so depressing that you wouldn't survive without this kind of refreshing and healthy as well as good tasting berrybombs. It's a good way to treat yourself, as we know that berries contain a lot of important vitamins, flavonoids, anioxidants and fibre. I used the berries that we had collected in summer by ourselves. This is a very quickly and easily done smoothie, and a quickly disappearing too- it's so good. 

2 dl frozen redcurrants
2 dl frozen blackcurrants
2 dl frozen blueberries
2 dl frozen strawberries
2 ripe bananas cut into smaller pieces
some hot water, it helps in mashing the frozen berries
some orange or apple juice

1. Put the berries and cut bananas in a big bowl, pour some hot water (not too much) over and smash with a handmixer. You can also use a blender if you want to. 
2. When nicely mashed, pour some orange or apple juice (about 1/2-1 dl, depending on how thick the smoothie is), let stay for a while in the room tempeature so that it sets nicely and isnt that frozen anymore. 
3. Serve from a glass and decorate with frozen berries. ENJOY!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Herby tofu with broccoli, champignons and green pepper

I wanted to cook something really delicious and refreshing. I actually used those ingredients we had in our fridge, and thought that tofu, broccoli, mushrooms and green pepper would be a good match. It tirned out to be very good, and it looked so beautiful, the vibrant colours of green and then the golden brown tofu..Mmm! It's also very healthy, with broccoli which contains iron and good vitamins and with tofu which is a wonderful source of protein and unsaturated vegetable fats which are good for your heart.
And this meal was a real succes, because my brother, who's a devoted meat fan actually loved it, said that it was "surprisingly good" and that it looked "amazingly beautiful". He also wanted to have some more, and I was really secretly screaming hooray in my mind, because he always sais that vegetarian food can't be good! He was clearly wrong. So if you have some meat crazy members in your family, please serve this food to them, and see if they change their minds. I'm sure they will.
I put a lot of pictures about making this food, so that you can see the beautiful ingredients.


250g alpro soya tofu with herbs, chopped into little cubes
2 big pressed garlic cloves
some soy sauce (about 1-2 tbsp)
olive oil

1 BIG onion, sliced
250g broccoli (use the heads only, save the stem for a soup or something else)
1 green pepper, sliced and chopped
5 big champignons, chopped
1 handful of fresh, chopped basilic
pepper, herbamare salt and ginger powder

1. Remember to wash the tofu under running water and dry it with a kitchenpaper before using it. Warm about one tablespoon olive oil in a pan, add the tofu cubes, soy sauce and then the pressed garlic. Fry until the tofu gets some nice coulour, until it's lightly golden.

2. Take a cast iron pot, or a bigger pan. Warm some olive oil in it (about one tbsp). Add the sliced onion, fry for a while.

3. Then add the sliced and chopped green pepper.

4. Add the chopped champignons.

5. Add the little broccoli heads.

6. Add the tofu, then some black pepper (richly), some herbamare and some ginger. Ready to serve!

7. Light some candles, put the dish on a beautiful plate and eat with fresh salad and a good homemade bread if possible.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

How to make the perfect pizza

It's a Saturday, it's snowing lightly and dark outside, the wind blows hard and it feels cosy being at home. It's also a perfect day for baking some delicious pizza ( I've never made pizza Marghuerite myself!). So that's what I did, I made four big pizzas with three different fillings (with tuna, with pepperoni and with mozzarella) and ate the one with mozarella myself. It was really fun making these, I listened to some good music and enjoyed working with the ingredients. What could make a person happier than cooking? Now, I'm going to write you the instructions for a perfect pizza Marghuerite, let's start!

The dough:
(makes 4 large pizzas)

6 dl water
1 tsp salt
14 dl durumflour
8 tbsp olive oil
25 g yeast

1. Soak the yeast into the water. Add the flour and the salt bit by bit. Add the oil.
2. Knead into four balls, then roll into a round plate. Move each pizzabase into an oven sheet.

3. Brush lightly with olive oil.

The tomato sauce:
(for 4 pizzas)

800g crushed tomatoes from a can
140g pressed tomatoes from a can
3 large garlic cloves, pressed
one pot of fresh basilic, crushed
a handful of crushed parsley
salt and pepper

1. Mix the crushed and pressed tomatoes, add the pressed garlic, crushed basilic and parsley and them some pepper and salt.
2. Top the pizzas with the tomatosauce.

The Filling for one Pizza Marghuerite:
120g mozzarella, sliced
about 4 sliced cherrytomatoes (the little ones)
about four seedless black sliced olives
some grated parmesan cheese
a handful of crushed fresh basilic

1. Put the sliced mozzarellas on the pizza, then add the olives and the little tomatoes.
2. Bake in a 250°C oven for about 15 minutes until ready. Be careful not to burn the pizza.
3. Sprinkle the grated parmesan cheese and crushed basilic on top of the pizza, cut into slices and serve with salad.

Avocado and tomato salad

half of an avocado, chopped
about 6 cherrytomatoes sliced into a half
different kinds of green salads, I used Napolitana mix (rucola, spinach, mizuna etc.)
truffle olive oil
lemon juice
black pepper

1. Mix the salads, avocado and tomatoes, pour some oil and drizzle some lemon juice on top of it and sprinkle some black pepper for the final touch.

Decadent chocolate tofu cheesecake

My mother's birthday was the 12th of November, and today we are celebrating it. I always bake a cake when I have a good reason, and this is an excellent one. I had planned to make a cheesecake (again!) and when I found this recipe with tofu I had to try it, because I love tofu and it's a wonderful way to use it in a cheesecake.

The original recipe said that you can't even notice that the cake contains tofu, and I have to say you really couldn't. This cake is very easy to make, and it doesn't take a lot of time. I decided to serve this cake simply with chocolate sauce and strawberries. And the was too good to be true.

When we ate this with our family we all were quiet, it was so extraordinary amazing, it was the best chocolate cheesecake I've propably ever made! I haven't recovered yet, really, this an excellent cake, I just had nothing to complain. You must try it.


1/3 cup chocolate cookies (about 10-12), finely crushed (I used finnish original domino cookies)

100 g baking chocolate, broken into pieces

400 g cream cheese (I used philadelphia)

1 contaibner (about 430g) silken tofu, drained

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon baking cocoa

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 160 °C. Lightly grease 9-inch springform pan; sprinkle cookie crumbs over bottom.

2. Melt the chocolate in a small kettle, that is in a bigger kettle with boiling water, stir.

3. Place melted chocolate, cream cheese, tofu, sugar and cocoa in food processor; cover. (You can also mix it by hands with a whisk, but it won't be so smooth). Process until smooth. Scrape sides of container; add eggs and vanilla extract. Process until smooth. Pour into prepared pan.

4. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until edge is set but center still moves slightly. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. (I had the cake overnight and a couple of hours- I really recommend keeping the cake in the fridge, it makes it a lot better!)

5. Take the cake away from fridge about 30 minutes before serving. Decorate with chocolate sauce and strawberries. ENJOY!