Saturday, May 31, 2014

Almond cake with fresh fruit & custard

It's been a few days since my birthday, but I still wanted to share the cakes I made. Monday I'm planning on getting back to traveling the world again!
Anyway, to balance the warm flavours of the Amarettini Cheery  (No-bake) Cheesecake (wauw, that's a whole lot of name right there) I decided to add a very fruity cake as well. I've always been curious to try a cake with fruit on top and one of those jelly layers that prevent the fruit from discolouring and drying out.

Now that I've finally done that: 'New Skill Acquired!', 'Plan successful!' and 'Achievement earned'. Ah, my life would be so brilliant if I as inside a game. Imagine every course at school being a new quest and ending in newly acquired skills, bags of gold and endless fame&glory! Or every household chore would increase the reputation with members of the family. I'm not sure if non-gamers can follow this, but take it from me, it'd be amazing.  I think especially moms would love getting credit for their work for once.

Oh yes, but back to that cake. Personally, I think this fruity cake suited the warm weather much better than the cherry-cake. On hot summer days I prefer something fresh&fruity and this cake was exactly that!

Almond cake with fresh fruit & custard
24 cm/9" cake - adjusted from Het Superdikke Taartenboek

3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water
90 grams sugar
60 grams flour
60 grams almond flour *
1 teaspoon baking powder

200 ml milk
2-4 tablespoons (vanilla) sugar
2 teaspoons custard
250 grams Greek or other thick yoghurt

1 can tropical (or other) fruit in syrup
1 teaspoon agar-agar powder **

1. Separate the egg whites from the yolks.
2. Beat the egg whites with the water and salt until fluffy. Gradually add the sugar until the egg whites turn stiff and, lastly, add the egg yolks one by one and whisk until fully incorporated inbetween.
3. Sift the flours and baking powder over the eggs and stir until just incorporated.
4. Pour the batter in a greased or lined cake tin. Bake in a preheated oven of 175 degrees Celsius or 360 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15-20 minutes.
5. Whisk the milk, sugar and custard together and slowly bring to a boil over medium heat. Leave to boil for a few minutes, then set aside to cool.
6. While it's cooling, cut shallow 'valley' to hold the custard in the middle of your cake: about 1 cm from the sides and no more than 1 cm deep. (If you pile the leftover cake up a bit higher in the middle, your cake will look even more like a large pile of fruit!)
7. Add the custard, before it has completely cooled down, to the yoghurt and mix well. Pour this over the cake into your 'valley'.
8. Lastly, top the cake off with the fruit (drain the syrup first). Bring 250 ml of the syrup to a boil with the agar-agar powder. Leave to boil for 1 minute and then take off the heat. Let it cool down a bit, but make sure it doesn't turn to jelly yet!
9. Using a brush, top the cake with the agar-agar (you can eat anything you have left). This way the fruit stays fresh longer and it gives the cake a nice shine!
10. Store in the fridge until you're ready to serve or serve it straight away.

* You can make this yourself by finely grinding 200 grams almonds in a kitchen processor.
** Agar-agar can be substituted with gelatine or jelly in package. 

This cake works a lot better if you keep storing it in the fridge in between every step. The custard and agar-agar will set slightly faster and the whole cake will stay fresh longer. If you plan on keeping the cake for longer than 1 day, I'd recommend adding an extra layer: add a layer of gelatine, agar-agar or jelly between the cake and the custard. This will prevent the cake from getting soft and soppy. Since I knew I'd be keeping the cake overnight I added the extra layer and it worked perfectly as planned!

Yes, that was it for this week. I'm going to be doing less typing today and more actual baking today! I hope you have a lovely weekend!

Friday, May 30, 2014

The perfect balance between sweet and savoury...

Another month has passed! Writing a Foodie Penpals post every month makes me realize how fast times flies. Every month after month again...  I must be getting old. Luckily there's a whole lot of people on the project who are getting old with me!

Thank you Dawn and Michelle for taking care of for this month of Foodie Penpals!

Everything I got came all the way from Scotland. Starting (because I finished those first) with hand-made oatcakes. They were exactly my kind of treat: I just love nibbling on crackers while I work (need to nibble to get rid of all the stress!). And these oatcakes were stuffed with lots of different seeds. They were delicious! I nearly felt myself getting healthier with each bite...

Secondly, I checked out a jar with 'Rosemary Jelly'. That is something different altogether. As soon as I opened the jar both of my sisters ran squeeling to the other side of the room. A powerful vinegar smell hit me. But then, when you taste it, it is mostly sweet in flavour. It actually has a perfect balance of sweet and savoury in a jar. With only a little hint of rosemary to top it off. I'm still not sure what to use it for though. Does this kind of thing go with cheese? On bread or toast? Do you eat it with meat? I'm afraid that this time I can't depend on my sisters to find out.

Oh, and then the sweet stuff: a chocolate lollipop, seriously buttery shortbread and 'Fruit Nuggets'. The latter especially surprised me. I had no clue what to expect, but they're tiny tiny little candies with a fruity flavour. I still haven't decided whether they feel healthy or just very yummy. They're all gone now, so we'll never know!

I hope everyone has an amazingly and lovely, somehow surprising or somewhat astonishing week! 

Do you live in Europe and wants to join the lovely Foodie Penpal project of sending random bloggers foodie presents? Check this link for more information. I could totally recommend it and I would love to see you there so I can shower you in whatever goodies I can think of!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Amarettini Cherry (No-bake) Cheesecake

I hope this counts as a cheesecake by cheesecake-eating-countries.The Dutch idea of 'cheesecake' is always no-bake (unless someone's gone mad) and always involves yoghurt or quark rather than young cheeses (unless they get creative in which its a combination, but never cheese alone). Which leaves me with a very confused notion of what Cheesecake really is. In this post 'cheese'-cake means 'yoghurt&gelatine'-cake, I thought I'd let you know. We're doing it the Dutch way.

Actually, I didn't even really start on cheesecakes in other parts of the world -like the Japanese one which is more a soufflé, or the Swedish one which is eaten warm with jam, or the Polish one which is more like a pie. Ah, now I just wish I could make them all to see which country is the best at making cheesecake. We could vote for it.

Anyway, this one is Dutch. Made by the Dutch, tested by the Dutch, made using Dutch methods, but nothing at all like a traditionally Dutch cheesecake and with barely any Dutch ingredients. I know, it's not completely my style, but if you look at it (I mean just LOOK at it), you'll know why I had to make it for the birthday party we had last weekend. I just knew my family would enjoy it! (And honestly who would not?)

Amarettini Cherry (No-bake) Cheesecake
26cm/10" cake - adjusted from Het Superdikke Taartenboek

80 grams butter
75 grams sugar
2 bags vanilla sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 eggs
200 grams almond flour *
2 teaspoons baking powder
70 grams Amarettini di Saronno

8 gelatine leaves **
500 ml vanilla yoghurt
75 grams mascarpone
300 ml (whipping) cream
50 grams powdered sugar

2 cans cherries in syrup or jelly
extra almonds, amarettini or sugar pearls for decoration

1. Separate the eggs into yolks and egg whites.
2. Cream the butter with the sugars and salt. Add the egg yolks and mix again.
3. Beat the egg whites until stiff.
4. Sift the almond flour with the baking powder over the butter mixture. Stir until just combined. Add the egg whites and mix again.
5. Pour the batter into a greased or lined cake pan. Bake the cake for about 25 minutes on 150 degrees Celsius or 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Leave the cake to cool.
7. Once cooled, make the "cheese"-part of the cake. Start by soaking the gelatine leaves.
8. Measure and mix all other ingredients (yoghurt, mascarpone, cream and sugar).
9. Melt the gelatine leaves over a low fire. Once melted, add a spoon of the yoghurt-mix and stir. Do this another three times and then pour the gelatine into the yoghurt and mix well. (If you don't 'dilute' the gelatine first, it will set as soon as it touches the yoghurt and you will get a few gelatine strands into a bowl of yoghurt that will never set.)
10. Pour everything over the cake and leave in the fridge until firm. This should take at least one hour, but can take up to 4 hours.
11. Once the cake is set and you are ready to serve, top with cherries and decorate and serve straight away! (If you do this too early, the 'cheese' will turn purple-blue from the cherries, tastes the same but doesn't look as good!)

* You can make this yourself by grinding 200 grams almonds in a kitchen processor.
** Agar-agar is a very nice substitute: you'll need enough for 0,7 liters. According to my agar-agar powder that would be 3 teaspoons.

If you plan on keeping the cake for longer than 1 day, I'd recommend adding a few extra layers. Add a layer of gelatine, agar-agar or jelly between the cake and the 'cheese' (made with cherry juice in this case). This will prevent the cake from getting soaky. If you're using fresh cherries or other fresh fruits, add a layer of jelly on top to prevent them from discolouring or drying out. Plus it gives an awesome shiny effect.

I added so much pictures of this cake it almost feels like I'm showing off. Of course I'm not. Who on earth would show off a cake that combines cheesecake, cherries and amarettini? It's not like it's a combination sent from heaven that begs to be shouted from a mountain, spread around the world, shown off, replicated or perhaps turned into a religion...

"Or is it?"  
- (my sister's famous words, never ask her what happens next in a movie she's seen already)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

I want I want I want... Reeses

Today I decided I will rant. A whole post full of me complaining.. are you ready for it? Cuz if you aren't then perhaps you should scroll down all the way to the recipe and read the bits of tekst that come after. So, that ranting. Let's start! *takes a deep breath*

First of all I WANT my thesis to be over. There, I said it. As much as I enjoy working and researching, this one has taken over 8 months now. I've worked on it 24/7, 7 days a week without vacations although admittedly I took some off during Christmas (I need to stay sane). And I only have 120 pages to show for it. A whole lot of pages which I'm proud of though. Just one more month to go. I want that month to be over. How about finish before my birthday? That'd be nice. Thank you.

Secondly, I WANT to loose weight. There. I said it, I've been gaining some lately. I blame it on the stress. A lot of working behind the pc, a lot of deadlines which in my case is equal to a lot of eating. And tons of tea. Also I've been 'dieting', which means I'm eating a lot more fruit and more whole foods, like my superhealthy muesli bars (this needs to be posted one day). I realized a bit too late that when it's 1 bit of chocolate vs. 3 banana's, banana's still win in terms of calories. That's just my luck.

Lastly, I WANT to work on my blog. Gosh, I want it so badly. For some reason I'm bubbling with lots of ideas. I want to change things about the lay-out and little addons. I want to figure out how to make my own website (from scratch!). I want to learn how to use facebook or twitter. I want to learn how to make video-recipes. I want to scavenge the internet and find new recipes, new blogs and people to connect to. I want to do little series of recipes. I want to make more Oven-Info's, including some information on countries and their food. I want to finally wrap up all those unfinished projects I have. I want to post on Mondays, actually, for one. But I'm stuck: a little pot of boiling ideas that needs to keep the lid on because it's not time for dinner yet. I'm going to be feasting as soon as my thesis is done.

For a little at least. Because after that, there's an apprenticeship coming up (Oh, the life of a student is so tough). And after that I'll be working I suppose. How DO you guys find the time to blog?

Okay, now I'm done. Let's share something recipe-y to lift the spirits, ok?

never enough - inspired by TheSweet{Tooth}Life and New York

2 tablespoons coconut oil
2/3 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2/3 cup biscuit or graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3-4 cups dark, milk or even white chocolate 
4 tablespoons coconut oil (optional)*  

1. Put the peanut butter and coconut oil in a bowl. Heat them in the microwave until the coconut oil has melted. 
2. Add the vanilla, crumbs and powdered sugar to the peanut butter and mix everything together. Then set aside. 
3. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler . Once it's melted, pour it into a squeeze bottle or piping bag (because it's so much easier)
4. Now make the Reeses: layer the bottom of a mini cupcake liner with chocolate. Put a bit of peanut butter on top (try not to touch the sides!). Then fill the rest of the cupcake liner with chocolate.
5. Leave in the fridge (covered!) to set. 

* Makes the chocolate softer and less prone to 'chocolate bloom'.

How's that for lifting the spirits? If peanut butter and chocolate can't do it, you're a lost case. Really.

Now a little bit on the history of Reeses: Reeses were named after their inventor H. B. Reese (like every proper invention). They're barely 86 years old now and nearly instantly became popular. Nowadays you find them in millions of variations in several countries. It's so popular in fact, I dare say it counts as traditional somewhere in the direction of America and/or Canada.

A little note: if you do not want to use mini-cupcake liners, or don't have any: make Reeses Bonbons! Put the peanut butter-mix in the fridge for a while, shape into little balls or whatever shapes you like and freeze them for 10-20 minutes. Then dip them in chocolate. I haven't done it myself, but I'm 100% sure it will work. You'll end up with a bit more peanut butter than chocolate though. Unless you're patient enough to make multiple layers of chocolate...

Thanks for listening to the rant! (Just smile and wave) In stressful times like these it's nice to be able to rant somewhere... to follow it all up by lots of chocolate so we can start all happy again the next day. I hope it'll work for you too! And I hope you have a lovely week!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Catching up with April & a New addition

I'm home again after my little vacation in Belgium! As soon as I came home I went to check if my package for Foodie Penpals arrived. There it was: among the mountain of mail that stacked up in barely 5 days. Sabine from Germany sent me a whole box full of chocolate: chocolate cookies, chocolate cookies, chocolate bar, chocolate bonbons and more chocolates!

Since I just came back from Belgium - the country of bonbons - I didn't dig in straight away so I have no clue what anything tastes like yet! (Except for the Milka and Ferrero Rocher. I'm certain not knowing these is a crime) But it's all chocolate and one can never, ever, ever go wrong with chocolate! (Not even when they've all melted a bit, as you can see on the next picture)

Thank you so much Sabine for taking care of me this month!
Sabine doesn't have a blog for me to refer to, but you can find her right here on Twitter. Of course I didn't just recieve goodies, I also got to send some! I had the honour of sending Zoe a package filled with Dutch Easter breakfast,brunch&lunch thinggies and she said she loved it so far! (Ah, I can nearly feel myself beaming. Love it!)  
Thank you so much for being my Foodie Penpals-partner this month Zoe!

- Ooh, can I show off my new stuff now? Among the mail was also a package with some little trinkets for me to add to my camera tools! First, I got a 5-in-1 multidisc light reflector which is going to be so much fun to play with. But most importantly I got a set of close-up filters! They're tiny little magnifying lenses that I can attach to the lens that's already on my camera. I have wanted a macro lens for so long, but I don't seem to get any richer, so these magnifying filters are perfect for those detailed close-ups until maybe, hopefully and probably one day I'll own one of those macro lenses. Look at what it can do!

Amazing right? At first I struggled with getting the focus right until I realized I had to put my lens practically on top of what I'm photographing. I just love it. Now I can finally take pictures of the morning dew (or sprayed water) on grapes and the lines in a white chocolate bonbon -from my package- with everything else going blurry (also called bokeh). From now on I'll only show you the crumbs on the cakes I make!

Thank you for following my rantings again! I'm going to be back very soon with recipes and a post on Belgium and it's food and hopefully I will be able to replicate some of the deliciously spiced 'printen' they're so good at!  I hope you have a very lovely week! (you know, what's left of it...)

Do you live in Europe and wants to join the lovely Foodie Penpal project of sending random bloggers foodie presents? Check this link for more information. I could totally recommend it and I would love to see you there so I can shower you in whatever goodies I can think of!