Monday, November 30, 2009

Chocolate-Pear Cake

Today is the First Advent. Advent is celebrated in many European countries. It marks the four Sundays before Christmas. Each Sunday you light up one more candle. In Germany many people will have a wreath with four candles or some other kind of Christmas arrangement. I made my own wreath this year, and since I couldn't find candle holders to stick in the wreath, I used some nails, and it worked perfectly.

Advent is also the time when we usually start our Christmas baking. My Mom always makes endless creations of beautiful Christmas cookies. So for the time until Christmas I have lots of Christmas related baking for you. Make sure you come back often.

I am starting with a cake today. This is a very elegant and tasty chocolate cake which would be perfect for a Christmas dessert or like we usually have it in the afternoon with a cup of tea. It's a chocolate sponge topped with a chocolate cream and poached pears and then covered with chocolate ganache. Yumm! I was first hesitating when I read that it is baked twice, because I thought the cream would harden to much, but it tasted absolutely wonderful. I found the recipe from Lindt, and they certainly know what to do with chocolate.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: Cannoli

It's Daring Bakers time again. This month, our challenge was the popular Italian classic: Cannoli. I honestly was never a fan of cannoli, even when we were living in Italy. I think it's because the traditional Sicilian cannoli uses candied fruit in the filling, which I don't like. But after making them, I have changed my mind.

The recipe we were given was really great, and also very easy to work with. I was at first afraid if I could roll them out so thin. It was no problem, however, because the dough was very elastic and easy to roll. I was also a little scared of the deep frying part, but my sweetheart helped me with that.

I made the filling out of a mixture of whipped cream and ricotta, with some vanilla sugar. Then I added some chopped pieces of pistachio and chocolate. The cannoli were very yummy and easy to make. This is something I will make again, since I usually have all the ingredients in stock, and I am glad I also bought the cannoli tubes, which were pretty inexpensive.

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Gâteau Breton

I was looking for something simple and quick to bake, something which didn't require me going to the store. I found exactly what I was looking for in "Rose's Heavenly Cakes" by Rose Levy Beranbaum, which I just borrowed from the library. This is a great and gorgeous book with endless pages of recipes. The book will definitely go on my Christmas wishlist.

I decided to make Gâteau Breton tartelettes, which is a very buttery cake from the French region Brittany (Bretagne). It is flavored with rum and vanilla and has a beautiful golden color. The tartelettes go perfectly with a good cup of tea in the afternoon and will melt in your mouth.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Advocaat (Eggnog) - Cardamom Pound Cake

There used to be a Swedish bakery not far from our place, and they had a signature cardamom bread, which I like very much. So I decided to try this out myself, but instead of bread I wanted to make a pound cake. You can get cardamoms at some supermarkets, but I think you'd find them much cheaper in Indian grocery stores. They come in two kinds, with shell (green) and without (brown). Get the green ones; the shell keeps it fresh and also preserves the flavor.

Another important ingredient in my pound cake is advocaat. In Germany, we call it Eierlikör (literally, egg liquor). It's similar to eggnog, but the taste is quite different, especially that there is no alcohol in eggnog. A very popular thing for us is to drink advocaat served in shot glasses made of dark chocolate. Yum! I have never made or tasted homemade advocaat myself, but here is a recipe if you want to try.

I found a great recipe for my cake in Baking for all occasions by Flo Braker. I changed it a little bit and added cardamom and advocaat instead of eggnog, which makes it a great moist spice cake.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Carrot Muffins

I wasn't really up for baking or eating anything sweet lately, since I had a bad flu. But I also didn't want to abandon my blog for too long, that's why I have an older recipe for you today. I made those carrot muffins this summer. They were featured on the faboulous blog Design Sponge, and are absolutely delicous.

I was in Germany at that time, and my Mom had never eaten carrot cakes before. I was looking for a recipe and remembered that I bookmarked this one earlier. We really liked them, they are perfectly moist and not too sweet.

I think I should make them again soon, since they are also perfect for the fall.
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