White Chocolate and Pistachio Babka

white-chocolate-pistachio-babka

As we begin to wake up to brisk mornings where even the sun isn’t up quite yet, and our morning cups of coffee have become warming and soothing, instead of just a caffeine boost, the desire to feel the warmth of the oven and the scent of spices in the air, burns bright.

A switch is flipped when the cool mornings set in and the chilly nights fall upon us. All of a sudden, the bananas ripening on the counter become crumbly muffins or a rich cake in your eyes, the peaches are bubbly cobblers dripping with melted ice cream and the apples turn to a buttery and flaky pie. All of a sudden, no fruit or vegetable is spared, all can be baked into a seasonal treat.

We don’t stop at fruit and vegetables, meat and poultry inspire pies, slow roasts and braises. The aroma of a piece of slow roasting meat with fragrant spices is just as enticing as the smell of cinnamon rolls baking for a weekend treat.

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Devil’s Food Cake with Butter Glaze

Devil's Food cake with Butter Glaze

Today’s post is a very special one because not only is there a recipe involving chocolate and cake, it is also my husband’s birthday (hence the chocolate cake)

It is quite an important birthday too and without divulging ages and all, I’ll just say it’s one of those milestone birthdays 🙂 Continue reading

Meyer Lemon Poppy Seed Bundtlets

Lemon Meyer Poppy Seed Bundtlets

This post will be the last one with me going on about my trip to the Pacific Northwest. Of course, it’s probably also the most important because it’s the major reason I wanted to visit Oregon and Washington. The children think the Spring Break trip was planned with their pleasure in mind, and their desire to see the coast after living in land locked Colorado for so many years. And it was sort of… Continue reading

Persimmon Pistachio Roll Cake

Persimmon Pistachio Roll Cake

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas surrounded by loved ones and lots of delicious food. Did you get what you wanted? After we reach a certain age, Christmas presents must not have the same excitement? I don’t know though, I’m just guessing. I love getting presents and I’m old! It’s always exciting to me to open up the bag or unwrap the wrapping paper with baited breath, waiting to get the first glimpse of the goodies inside.

Persimmons

We were up bright and early Christmas morning to start off our day with our own ongoing tradition, the first showing of whatever the hit movie is that year. This year, Star Wars VIII. As you know we are huge fans so waiting a week to watch the movie was torture. However, I’ve done an opening night movie for Star Wars back when they had their 20th Anniversary. The weirdos that turn up for the opening night; I wasn’t about to put myself through that again. So, we waited, and it was totally worth the wait. LOVED the movie and cannot wait for the next one.

Persimmon Pistachio Roll Cake

In the rush to get up and get to the movie theatre and due to some bad procrastination the day before, I forgot to pull out the chicken from the freezer for dinner. So, in true “A Christmas Story” fashion we ended up in the only open restaurant close by, a Chinese place. No, we didn’t have duck with the head still attached along with badly sung Christmas carols but we did have some bad Chinese food nevertheless. Apparently, many others forgot to take out their frozen turkeys/rib roast since it seemed like everyone in Broomfield was there. When we arrived there were a fair number of people but as we ordered and got our food, the stream of people coming through the door was never ending. The bad part; only one server. She was worked out of her little apron, but then family members started pitching in. We decided it was time to leave. I couldn’t fathom how many people, on Christmas, choose to not cook, won’t cook or can’t cook…or  maybe they just like less than mediocre Chinese food on special holidays. These weren’t just couples and such, while we were waiting on our food, a family came in and asked for a table for 11! For 11?!! Why aren’t they cooking a family dinner at home?? 

Persimmons

After our not very good Chinese food, we went home and collapsed on the sofa. Steaming cups of hot cocoa kept us warm as the snow that was supposed to fall in the morning, finally arrived. We watched TV, drifted in and out of slumber, drank tea and cocoa and enjoyed a cosy evening at home. The snow kept falling; in fact, it fell all night and we woke up to about 4-5 inches. All the melted roads from the last snow storm were all snow packed and icy again. The weather has been so cold that nothing has melted and there is an ice rink right as you reach the bottom of our driveway. This morning it was 6F. Yeah, single digits.

Christmas Eve we were invited to dinner at a lovely friend’s house. It had been so long since I’d seen my friends, I was really looking forward to it. As I lay in bed that morning, my mind whirred away trying to come up with something to make with the ripe persimmons I had sitting on my kitchen counter. We had eaten a few fresh but persimmons can be very tannic and that can be off putting, especially to kids. I wanted to use the rest up in a dessert of some fashion.

Persimmon Pistachio Roll Cake

Pudding, trifle, cake, muffins, cupcakes….all these ideas went through my mind. Since I had only 4 persimmons left, it had to be some sort of filling that was complemented with something else and something the children would eat. But wait, I was headed to a party that evening, I could bring a dessert. That opened up the idea of cake again. I don’t make too many cakes, they never get eaten at our house and I get stuck with them every time. But dinner parties are something else, food gets eaten at parties. I jumped out of bed and got to work.

Persimmon Pistachio Roll Cake

Every year I put a traditional Buche de Noel on my bucket list, and every year it gets thrown out with the dirty water. This is not a traditional Buche de Noel, but it’s a Yule log of some sort. I love roll cakes, they can be a bit tricky but I love them anyway. They are pretty and easy to portion and cut, not to mention delicious! I have a couple of roll cakes on the website.

The persimmons are cooked down a little to concentrate flavours and remove the tannic quality. They are then mixed with some heavy cream, a drop of rose water is added and then filled inside a pistachio sponge cake. Allowing the cake to sit for a few hours before serving makes the sponge soft and saturated from the cream and it just melts in your mouth. The hint of rose water and the pistachio cake add an exotic flair to the beautiful persimmons.

Persimmon Pistachio Roll Cake-

Persimmon Pistachio Roll Cake

Rating 

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 10 pieces

A non traditional Yule log made with a rolled pistachio cake filled with a persimmon rose water filling.
Ingredients
  • Sheet Cake:
  • ¾ cup all purpose/plain flour
  • 3 tablespoons pistachios, ground fine
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 5 large eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • Filling:
  • 2 cups persimmon chunks (about 4 whole, fresh ones)
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon rose water, optional
  • Ground pistachios for decoration
  • Dried or fresh rose buds for decoration
Instructions
  1. Persimmon Filling:
  2. Put the chunks of persimmons and ½ cup water into a small saucepan.
  3. Put on low heat and bring to a simmer.
  4. Let the persimmons soften and break down, mash down with a fork to help them along.
  5. Add the ¼ cup sugar and let simmer until all the liquid has evaporated.
  6. It will take about 20-25 minutes till the persimmons are cooked and the liquid has evaporated.
  7. Put into a small bowl and place in the fridge to cool.
  8. In the meantime, make the sheet cake.
  9. Once the cake is cooled and the persimmon filling has cooled, whip the heavy cream.
  10. In the bowl of a clean mixer bowl, add the 1 cup of cream, once the cream has thickened a little, add the tablespoon of sugar and continue whipping until thick.
  11. You want the cream quite stiff so it will hold the persimmon filling and stay firm in the cake as well.
  12. Fold in the persimmon filling and add the rose water if using.
  13. CAUTION: rose water is strong so start with ½ teaspoon. Too much will over power the cake to just rose water tasting.
  14. Sheet Cake:
  15. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  16. Grease and line with parchment paper a ½ size sheet pan (17.5 x 11.5 inches)
  17. Sift the flour, baking powder and ground pistachios together a few times.
  18. Keep aside until needed along with the sifter.
  19. In a saucepan or a microwaveable bowl, heat the milk and butter together till butter if melted and milk is hot.
  20. I zap it in the microwave for about 30 seconds at a time until the butter and milk are hot.
  21. Watch carefully as it can boil over.
  22. Keep aside until needed.
  23. In the bowl of a mixer, add the eggs and the sugar and which until pale, thick and frothy.
  24. This whisking is key to a sponge.
  25. The eggs have to be whipped sufficiently.
  26. Anything under whipped; the cake will not rise enough.
  27. The consistency of the whipped eggs and sugar have to be like softly whipped cream.
  28. Once the egg-sugar mixture is ready, sift the flour over the batter in 3 batches.
  29. Fold in carefully but completely.
  30. Bring the milk and butter up to a steam again (zap in microwave for 20 seconds)
  31. Pour the hot milk mixture all at once into the batter.
  32. Fold the batter thoroughly.
  33. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place in the oven.
  34. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the top is light golden brown and the cake springs back when pressed gently.
  35. While the cake is in the oven, place a clean tea towel on the counter or table and dust liberally with powdered sugar.
  36. Once the cake comes out of the oven, run a knife around the edges of the cake and flip the cake carefully onto the sugared tea towel.
  37. Allow the cake to cool slightly before removing the paper liner.
  38. Once you remove the paper liner, place a large piece of foil over the top.
  39. Use a sheet tray as a support and place over the foil.
  40. Place a hand under the towel and cake, flip the cake over carefully, so the top the cake is now facing you to be filled.
  41. It's easier to fill the cake and roll if the cake isn't on the sheet tray so carefully remove the cake from the sheet tray on the foil and lay on table.
  42. Remove the tea towel from the top.
  43. Fill with 1½ cups of the filling.
  44. Spread the filling evenly over the top, not too thickly though.
  45. Carefully lift up one the short edges of the cake and start rolling tightly.
  46. Use the foil as leverage and a way to help roll and keep the roll compact and tight.
  47. Use one hand to hold the foil and the other to keep the cake tight as it rolls.
  48. It will crack a little at the beginning but the cracking will reduce as the roll gets bigger.
  49. Just keep the roll tight and compact at the beginning even if it crack.
  50. Shape with your hands as you are rolling.
  51. Once the cake is rolled, keep it covered and rolled in the foil.
  52. Refrigerate for an hour in the foil before serving.
  53. Remove the foil, use the remainder of the filling to cover the top of the cake lightly.
  54. Dust with ground pistachios and dried roses if desired.

Persimmon Pistachio Roll Cake-

So, what was the best thing you ate over the Christmas holiday? Let me tell you, for us, it wasn’t the Chinese food! This cake was pretty good though, as was the dinner at my friend’s and my White Chicken Chilli that we had on Boxing Day.

I cannot believe 2015 whizzed by in a blur. I am quite certain I was writing this very sentence not too long ago! Be that as it may, the fact is 2016 will be here very soon. I want to wish you all a very happy, safe and prosperous New Year. I thank you for your friendship, your encouragement and your support. Here’s to many, more years together!

Happy New Year!

Chocolate Lavender Madeleines 

Chocolate Lavendar Madeleines

Hello my lovelies! How have you all been? I hope you are reading this in your inbox because it’s been so long since I last wrote anything, I’m not sure if my post was even sent out! It’s a bit rusty from the under use. This post was written right after Thanksgiving but as you can see, it’s been languishing in my drafts for over 10 days now. I’m going to go ahead and just post it, even though Thanksgiving is old news.

So, how was everyone’s Thanksgiving? Well, by everyone, I mean all the Americans. We had a very wonderful and quiet one. This year we opted out of the friendsgiving. My husband was off for four days and so were the older girls who work for a daycare/school. The children didn’t want me to host and they didn’t want to go anywhere, but of course, they wanted me to cook. And here I was thinking I’d escaped the cooking. No such luck. They all handed in their food requests: creamed corn, sweet potato casserole, cauliflower and broccoli casserole, pumpkin pie, and pecan tart. We didn’t do a turkey because we’re not huge fans so I roasted little Cornish hens, one for the each of us. 

Chocolate Lavendar Madeleines

The snow fell outside all day Thursday. It was a lazy sort of snow fall, it wasn’t in a hurry, it took its time drifting merrily down from the frosty skies. It echoed the mood of the house, where we lazily shuffled about in our fuzzy slippers and socks, furry hoodies and jumpers. We lit a roaring fire and listened to the crackly sounds of fire wood; splitting and burning, fill the family room. The warm glow of the fire and family, spread over our faces, bodies and hearts. It was just a lovely day.

I had prepped much of the food the day before and all that was needed was a quick few minutes to bake off the casseroles. It took 30 minutes to stuff and prep the Cornish hens and then they were placed in the oven. In the meantime, the children enjoyed doing their thing and my husband and I spent all day watching football. We snacked on spring rolls and satsumas and sipped mulled apple cider in between yelling at the TV screen for some ridiculous referee call or play. 

Those four days off sure went by in a blur but they were the best four days of the year. It is so nice to have to do nothing and to have special people to do nothing with. Two of my daughters have birthdays back to back around Thanksgiving break, so two of the days were celebratory with special breakfast one day and dinner the next. Present buying and giving, and of course, a bit of Black Friday deal shopping was also done.

Chocolate Lavendar Madeleines

I was going to post before Thanksgiving but I really have enjoyed doing nothing. I decided that I’d wait to get through the holiday and then try and get back into the groove of posting regularly and visiting my friends who I have sorely neglected. I have come to the conclusion that cooking for a living and then turning around and writing a good, food blog is quite difficult. I have 4 weeks to get some sort of plan in place before my work stuff starts again. I’m hoping to find a balance, and some time to do what I do but still post regularly with some good content and not be tired of the whole cooking and baking thing! 

How has everyone been? I have visited some of my blog friends and am making my rounds and hope to get to all of you very soon. 

My second week off from work, I ventured into the kitchen. My mind was beginning to churn out a few ideas and once I was in the mood to get knee high in flour, I jotted down a few ideas and armed with my trusty pink notebook, iPad and wooden spoon, I got to work.

Chocolate Lavendar Madeleines

There are a few Madeleine recipes on my blog; it’s because  I adore them. I love how they’re easy to make, I love their beautiful scalloped shape, their versatility and how they make everything look fancy. 

These are chocolate ones with a floral under note from lavender. Lavender and chocolate go really well together and how much you want to add is up to you. I didn’t want to confuse them with bars of soap! I used some fresh lavender from my little pot on my porch and a tad bit of dried. The White chocolate glaze with a few sprinkles of dried lavender leaves adds the perfect little floral punch as you daintily nibble them.

These are perfect for your holiday table because they instantly add a touch of sophistication. They are also great for a Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day breakfast or brunch. Like I said, versatile.

Chocolate Lavendar Madeleines

Chocolate Lavender Madeleines 

Rating 

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 24

Chocolate madeleines delicately scented with lavender.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup/145g all purpose/plain flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅔ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lavender leaves
  • ½ teaspoon dried lavender leaves
  • 2 tablespoons cold coffee or milk
  • ½ cup/115g butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • White Chocolate Glaze
  • ½ cup white chocolate chips
  • drop of coconut oil
  • dried lavender leaves for sprinkling
Instructions
  1. Mix the flour, salt and cocoa powder together in a bowl.
  2. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together.
  3. Add the lavender leaves and dried lavender.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix well.
  5. Add the milk or coffee and mix.
  6. Add the vanilla.
  7. Mix thoroughly and then slowly drizzle in the cool, melted butter.
  8. The batter will be soft and will need to be chilled for easier scooping.
  9. Chilling also helps develop the characteristic hump of the madeleine and is a necessary step.
  10. Chill the batter for at least an hour.
  11. I've made madeleine batter the night before and is very convenient to have it ready to go in the morning.
  12. When you are ready to bake, grease and flour your madeleine pans.
  13. Preheat your oven to 375℉/190℃ (Convection fan baking 350F/180C)
  14. Scoop a tablespoon of batter into each scalloped mould.
  15. This recipe should yield 24 madeleines and it's easier to have two pans.
  16. Bake for 15 minutes.
  17. Check at 10 minutes and then add minutes from there.
  18. They can burn easily if you don't keep an eye on them.
  19. Mine were ready in about 13 minutes.
  20. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes and them prise them out gently with a knife.
  21. Cool on a rack and make the glaze.
  22. Melt the white chocolate chips in a small bowl with a drop of coconut oil.
  23. I use the microwave; 30 seconds at a time and mixing between the 30 seconds.
  24. Usually it takes about a minute to melt the white chocolate.
  25. Once melted and cooled slightly, dip the madeleine, or spread the white chocolate with a spoon and sprinkle he dried lavender leaves.

Chocolate Lavendar Madeleines

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season. It definitely feels like the holidays here in Coloardo. The weather has been beautifully chilly and the snow has dusted everything like a gingerbread village. I know snow and cold weather is not for everyone and even though it can really stop me in the tracks especially with my joints, I absolutely love this weather. I am the happiest when there’s snow falling softly outside, and the oven is on baking up warm and gooey delights, filling the house with the aromas of sweet spices.

What’s going on in your neck of the woods?