desserts

All posts tagged desserts

Baby, it’s cold outside! Pumpkin Pie Tiramisu with Coffee-Glazed Pecan Praline

Published December 8, 2014 by The Feminist

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This is one of those desserts that looks kinda freaky and –dare I say it?- ugly, especially if you don’t know what it is.

However, as with many things in life, the most freakish are the most delicious.

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And, pssss, I will let you in on a little secret: this tiramisu (yes, that is what this strange-looking thing is) is the yummiest thing you will ever taste. It is a pumpkin pie turned into a tiramisu, which makes it even more delicious and more decadent! Just imagine a homemade pumpkin puree loaded with spices combined with a soothing mascarpone cream into one lovely, orange-coloured mousse! Add to that some heavenly Belgian peperkoek (The Belgian version of gingerbread, only way better) soaked in Amaretto and coffee and for the finishing touch I conjured up some crunchy coffee-glazed pecan praline.

I mean, If you aren’t drooling right now, something is clearly wrong with you.

As you can see, the combination of orange and brown hues is doomed not to look very appetizing, but if you do would like to try to make it look more appealing, you can always opt for individual glasses to serve the tiramisu in. But I always find that too fiddly to spend my time on.

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Another great reason why you have to make this pumpkin pie tiramisu is because it is the ideal dessert to eat when it is cold outside. Just imagine sitting in your sofa, staring at your wonderfully decorated Christmas tree, while gobbling down some of this tiramisu…

Doesn’t this scenario make you want to jump for joy?

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Ha! Thought so!

Here are the instructions:

Ingredients:

For the homemade pumpkin puree:

  • 1 small butternut squash (peeled, deseeded and diced)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp Amaretto
  • 1 tsp corn flour

For the mascarpone mixture:

  • 250gr of mascarpone
  • 400gr homemade pumpkin puree

For the coffee-soaked peperkoek:

  • 1 pack of good-quality peperkoek
  • A huge cup of strong coffee
  • 5tbsp Amaretto

For the coffee-glazed pecan praline

  • 75gr pecan nuts
  • 1 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 1tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • Pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Cook the butternut in a pot of boiling water until soft.
  2. Drain and mash together the butternut with the spices and maple syrup. Put the mix back on a very low heat. In a small bowl, mix together the corn flour with the Amaretto. Pour the mix into the mashed butternut and stir.
  3. Spoon the butternut puree into a bowl and refrigerate until cooled.
  4. Mix together the mascarpone with 400gr of the butternut puree. Give it a quick taste to see whether the mix is sweet enough. If not, add some more maple syrup. Set aside.
  5. Start assembling your tiramisu by dunking the peperkoek slices into your coffee and amaretto mix. Put the soaked peperkoek on the bottom of your dish.
  6. Spoon half the pumpkin pie mascarpone mixture onto the peperkoek layer.
  7. Now repeat the dunking process and put another layer of peperkoek on top of your mascarpone cream.
  8. Put in the fridge overnight.
  9. To make your pecan praline, preheat the oven to 180°C and chop the nuts into rough chunks. Put a pan on medium heat and add a heaped tablespoon of caster sugar and wait until it starts to caramelize. Add the coffee granules and the splash of water. Stir in the chopped pecans and add a pinch of salt. Transfer the coffee-caramel-coated pecans onto some baking parchment and put in the oven for 5 minutes until it starts to smell nice (the smell can be best described as “toasty aromatic”. If it more resembles “burnt toasty” you know they have been in there for too long.)
  10. Transfer the nuts to a chopping board and chop them up finely. Scatter them on top of your tiramisu. Dig in!

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Holiday Recap: I came, I saw and I ate

Published July 25, 2014 by The Feminist

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I’m back, dear readers. After spending a week enjoying the heat of the sun and the gentle sea breeze in Cannes, followed by a week of nothing but mountain glory in the North of Italy, it was time for me to come home.

I did not want to, believe me. I would have rather stayed in France and would have preferred to spend my entire life sitting on the beach, eating fish soup with delicious rouille whilst making googly eyes at a tall and dark French Adonis, but unfortunately, life is not a fairy tale. Reality awaited. And I had some duties to return to. Like paying rent, going to work and, last but definitely not least, connecting with my thousands of loyal followers. You.

So here it is, folks. A long (and yet incomplete) list of all the delicious things I had the joy of eating during my stay at the French Riviera and in the Italian Dolomites.

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Let’s start with the heavenly delights of France!
First off, I have some unfortunate news: I did not spot any celebrities. *releases a soft wail of disappointment*. However, what Cannes was not able to offer me regarding star status, it totally made up for in its array of hotness walking around. Because –let me make abundantly clear- Cannes is FULL of handsome men.
I mean, hallelujah! It was almost uncanny –pun fully intended- to see so much hotness on one tiny spot by the sea. Add to that the fact that the French Riviera had tons of delicious food on offer –I’m now referring to those of the non-male, edible variety- and you will understand why I had such a lovely time.

Sweet and juicy scallops with a saffron sauce and plenty of different vegetable side dishes. Always a winner with me!

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A delicious fish skewer, marinated in lemon and herbs with a sauce vièrge. That dish was preceded by the most delicious fish soup I had ever tasted and was so damn yummy I forgot to talk a picture.

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FYI, if you go to Cannes, it is key to find local restaurants. They will most likely offer delicious but affordable food. So don’t go running to the Carlton for lunch. Just sayin’.

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I mean, who the hell would pay 8 euros for a cup of coffee??

The French Riviera is famous for its fish, so obviously I ate plenty of it. This was a succulent piece of red mullet with Brandade de Morue.

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This dish surely packed a punch: homemade gnocchi with pistou and octopus in a spicy tomato sauce

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If there is one restaurant experience I have to tell you about, it is this restaurant in Nice: Oliviera. Honestly, it was one of the most extraordinary restaurant experiences in my entire life. First of all, the waiter. He was awesome and talked with so much passion about the food and his olive oils you almost started drooling just by listening to him. Secondly, each dish was paired with a particular type of olive oil. Olive oil was not just used as something to cook with, it was the heart of every dish. While we were waiting for our different courses, the friendly waiter brought us plenty of different olive oils to taste. Lastly, the food was insane. Pure. Delicate. Simple. Heavenly. Succulent burrita mozzarella with Coeur de Boeuf tomatoes, feta and herbs filo pastry tart, homemade raviolis,… and all drizzled with plenty of good olive oil. Mmmm. This was a courgette flower stuffed with a spicy bulgur salad and –of course- drizzled with lots of fragrant olive oil.

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Needless to say, I enjoyed plenty of desserts as well. I started my holidays with an epic ice cream cone with the most insanely delectable flavours: caramel au beurre salé and marron glacé

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(not a very flattering pic, but it’s about the ice cream, not my face 😉 )

Furthermore, I ate quite a few café gourmands, which are espressos served with lots of delicious things along the side.

This one was bold and big with honest flavours: a mini chocolate fondant, a strawberry macaron, vanilla panna cotta with apricot coulis, an almond tart and a huge scoop of rum and raisin ice cream with whipped cream…

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And this one was more petite in portion but –Oh my Frenchy God- that was by far the best coffee layer thingy I have ever tasted in my life! The flavours! The layers! Sensation in the mouth guaranteed. (I enjoyed this one at a rather fancy-looking place called Le Nôtre in Cannes)

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On our last night in Cannes, we ate dinner at L’Assiète Provençale, which is situated in the touristy heart of Cannes –right at the harbor!- but was anything but the tourist trap. The food was refined, and offered modern interpretations of French classics. I had the most amazing fried fleur de courgettes as a starter, honey glazed tuna steak with five spiced vegetables (praise the Lord!) and by miles the BEST LEMON MERINGUE PIE I HAVE EVER TASTED. (In fact, it was so good, I only realized half way through that I forgot to take a picture. So my apologies for the half-eaten slice of pie)

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Oh Mighty Dolomites

Now onto the delicious food I’ve eaten in the Dolomites, a region that embraces both Austrian and Italian cuisine. (So double check pot!) Luckily for me, apart from eating, I spent my days hiking, climbing mountains and doing laps in the swimming pool, so (hopefully) most of those calories got burnt off.

Our hotel is renowned for its gourmet cuisine, so I definitely do not want to spare you the delicious details:

Open ravioli with pea puree, delicate fish and a cream and white wine foam.

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Pan-fried sea bass with steamed vegetables and herby mash

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Milk chocolate mousse with mango and orange-scented shortbread

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Seared swordfish with crispy vegetables and beetroot macaroons.

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Fragrant herb risotto with prawns

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The most delicious banana tart with banana-flavoured parfait

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The ultimate Tiroler dish: spinach spätzle with Almkäse (mountain cheese) and fresh mushrooms

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Steamed whiting fillet on a bed of red pepper couscous

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Vanilla and puff pastry tompouce with vanilla ice cream and red berries

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So who’s hungry now? 😉

Have a Rumtastic New Year Y’all! And Bake this Pina Collada cake

Published January 2, 2014 by The Feminist

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2014 has arrived. People are expressing wishes to friends and family and are busy drawing up lists with all their New Year’s resolutions. These resolutions can be important if you need to get your life back on track and it is the perfect time to get rid of all your bad habits and acquire some good ones.

Although I believe that these resolutions are an ideal way to get inspired at the dawn of a new year, I also think it can be rather hard to keep them. Life is full of pitfalls and before you know it, your resolutions get tossed into the bin.

This, however, doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.

Because I have a better idea, dear readers.

Instead of drawing up a list with all the “have tos” and “must dos”, I suggest we make a list of something much more important. Let’s call it the “fuck it” list. A list on which nothing is obligatory. No overambitious bullshit. Just a very personal collection of everyone and everything that can from now on kiss your ass.

Such a list isn’t just much more fun, it is also much easier to keep.

My “fuck it” list goes like this:

  • F*** what everyone thinks of me. I’ll be doing whatever I want, wearing whatever I want and eating whatever I want. No more partypoopers telling me what to do and how to behave.
  • F*** conformism. I will no longer try to blend in. Me and my awesomeness deserve to stand out.
  • F*** meat eaters and global warming deniers. (No need to elaborate on this one)
  • F*** Belgian men. They have no balls. Zero. Non.
  • F*** perfection. Perfection is unattainable so why bother worrying and stressing about it?
  • F*** Stress. Let’s get into the Chill zone.

That last one is my most important “fuck it” item. I am a very stressful person and this year I will do my very best to simply let it go. Stress kills creativity. It suppresses positivity and dreams. But most of all, it’s just not really good for your sleeping pattern or mental health.

So that is why I’m saying F U to stress. And I honestly wish all my dear readers would do the same.

Skip the stress. Drink cocktails instead.

If you keep this simple non-rule in mind, 2014 will be awesome.

To honor the very first week of the new year, I decided to bake a completely stress-free cake. A pina collada cake. Because what could be better than your favourite cocktail turned into a super moist rum and coconut flavour bomb? Nothing, let me tell you that.

So here is my very own “Fuck It, I’m Having a Cocktail” cake.

Enjoy!

And have a stress-free 2014!

Pina Collada Cake

Ingredients:

  • 150ml coconut milk
  • 1 egg
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ tbsp baking powder
  • 40gr butter
  • 150gr fresh pineapple, cut into small chunks
  • 120gr plain flour
  • 135gr caster sugar

For the rum syrup.

  • 100ml rum
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line a brownie tin with baking parchment.
  2. Put the flour, sugar, butter, salt and baking powder together in a bowl and mix until you get a sandy consistency.
  3. Mix the egg and coconut milk together in a jug and gradually pour into the dry mixture. Mix on high speed until you get a smooth batter.
  4. Stir in the fresh pineapple and pour the batter into your prepared cake tin.
  5. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, make a rum syrup. Bring your ingredients to the boil and let the liquid reduce by half. Once the cake comes out of the oven, pour the rum syrup over the hot cake and let it soak up all the liquid. Let it cool completely in the tin before turning out and cutting it into cute squares.

Italy: where Love means Food and Food means love

Published July 27, 2013 by The Feminist

This is probably the holiday recap you had all been waiting for: a bite by bite exploration of Italian cuisine.

Needless to say that it’s impossible not to mention food when discussing a trip to Italy. Italy is food. Italians talk about food as if they were talking about their lovers and all Italians cook with their hearts. Italian food is like a love affair: intense, pure and incredibly satisfying and exciting.

The most remarkable thing about Italian food is its simplicity. Less is more. With often less than 4 ingredients, they were able to put a plate in front of me that just blew me away. Pure and honest flavours.
Simple but never ever ever under-seasoned. And that, is the trickiest balance to get right.

So are you ready to see the evidence of my foodie Italian adventure?
Here we go!

1) Let’s start with the antipasti:

Aubergine millefeuille: so simple and yet so delicious!

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Wonderful carpaccio di Pesce Spada with fennel and almonds ( of which I –boohoo– forgot to take a picture)

Just to give you an idea of what it looked like:

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(just imagine the thin slices of fennel and almond flakes on top 😉 )

Amazing Vitello Tonnato: the best vitello Tonnato I have ever eaten in my entire life, I swear! (again, no pic, I was often just too mesmerized by the food that I couldn’t be bothered to so much as think about taking a picture)

2) The primi piatti:

The most delicious black tagliatelle with sea food: H-E-A-V-E-N!

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Bigoli pasta with… donkey sauce! Yes, sit in awe and be amazed!

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Raddicchio and taleggio risotto: the best risotto ever! (and woops, no picture)

But it looked a bit like this:

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Parsley risotto with shrimps: this sure packed a punch!

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Intense fresh egg pasta with hard goats’ cheese and pepper: sounds very basic but it just blew me away! (which, I guess, is the reason why I forgot to take a picture)

Potato gnocchi with celery and mushrooms: mmm, I love gnocchi!

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Vegetarian cannelloni stuffed with Mediterranean vegetables and a regional type of Hüttenkäse

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3) The secondi piatti:

Grilled pesce spada à la Siciliana: soooo good!

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Seppia gratinato (cuttlefish) stuffed with shrimp and tomatoes: the cuttlefish was cooked to perfection!

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Monkfish cooked al cartoccio with clams, mussels, vegetables and pesto: divine!

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Grilled vegetable tart with mozzarella: pure and delicious!

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Tagliata di manzo with rocket, parmigiano and balsamic syrup: a classic!

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4) Lots and lots of dessert: as always!

As you could read (and see) in my previous posts, I ate quite a lot of gelato, and why wouldn’t I? It’s just sooo good.

So beside that cone with a scoop of flora and cioccolate fondante, I devoured a cone with Malaga ice cream and biscotti ice cream: probably the best flavours on the planet!

I also had a rather gigantic Amaretto ice- cream bowl: chocolate, coffee and hazelnut ice cream drenched in plenty of Amaretto and topped with amaretti biscuits and whipped cream. Oh boy!

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In an attempt to eat more healthy: a giant bowl of frozen yoghurt with caramelized nuts and honey. I know, not really authentic Italian but oh so good!

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Apart from the gelato, I absolutely adore the Italian pasticceria as well!
A plate full of biscotti, which you were supposed to dunk in sweet dessert wine! Oh my God!!

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Moorish nutty caramel cake with coconut ice cream and sour cherries: seriously one of the best puds I have ever eaten! (And I’ve eaten quite a lot in my lifetime!)

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Südtirol has a lot of Austrian influences, especially in its cuisine, which is a lovely melting pot of Mediterranean Italy and Alpine Austria. And I simply couldn’t resist all those traditional Austrian Torten und Kuchen: I ate the most wonderful Topfenstrudle (it was so delicious that I forgot to take a picture) and ate the world famous Sachertorte not once, but twice.

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The list above is, of course, not a complete list of all the lovely and delicious things I ate during my stay in Italy but it would have been simply too much for you to handle! 😉

But before I go, I would like to give you a sneak peak of an Italian dish I cooked myself while I was over there:

Antipasti with a large variety of cured meats, and a salad of scamorza cheese (smoked mozzarella), sweet and juicy nectarine, basil and freshly ground pepper.

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Followed by grilled vegetables and spicy gnocchi with dried chillies, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and monte vecchio cheese.

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Yum!

So who’s hungry now? 😉

Proper Blokes’ Cake: Chocolate and Belgian Beer Brownie with Salted Peanut Crumble

Published June 9, 2013 by The Feminist

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Baking is often only associated with women. The mum in the kitchen baking cupcakes for her children, a girls night in with lots of brownies and Ben & Jerry’s Ice cream, Blair Waldorf eating macaroons in her bathtub,… Basically everything that involves sugar, chocolate or frosting is considered to be “Ladies Only” territory. I guess men prefer savory snacks because it is often deemed more masculine and butchy, whereas sweet desserts are looked upon as too dainty, too soft, too feminine.
I can’t really blame them, though. It is a behaviour pattern as old as food itself. Women eat sweet and men eat salty. It is practically a biological and evolutionary distinction!
However, I like to think out of the box. Behavioural patterns are there to be broken once and awhile. Just like Jamie Oliver who once created a “proper blokes’ pasta dish”, I decided it was about time to bake the ultimate blokes’ cake. This cake is based on a combo all men tend to love: beer and salty nuts. Adding these ingredients to a cake batter, however, creates a whole other dimension. Suddenly the beer turns the cake into a succulent brownie, while the salted peanuts provide that lovely crunch. Just when you think that things can’t get any better than this, I even conjured up the most amazing beer toffee sauce to go with it!
This is possibly the best cake to bake on Father’s Day: gutsy, blokey and full of hearty flavours. And I can assure you that all us ladies will love it as well!

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Chocolate and Belgian Beer brownies with salted peanut crumble


Ingredients:
For the brownie:
• 125gr butter or soy spread
• 1.25 dl Belgian dark ale
• 40gr cocoa powder
• 200gr caster sugar
• 1 egg
• 0,7 dl milk
• 140gr plain flour
• 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
• ¼ tsp baking powder
For the peanut crumble:
• 15gr butter
• 25gr plain flour
• 15gr caster sugar
• 35gr roasted and salted peanuts, chopped
For the beer toffee sauce
• 1,5dl dark ale
• 7 tbsp muscovado sugar
• 1 tbsp runny honey
• Splash of double cream
Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a baking tin with baking parchment.
2. For the brownie, pour the beer into a saucepan and add the butter. Gently heat until it has melted. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cocoa powder and sugar.
3. Mix together the egg and milk and pour the liquid into the contents of the pan.
4. Sift together the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and stir in the chocolate-beer mixture from the pan.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared baking tin.
6. For the crumble, rub the flour and butter together with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and peanuts. Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the top of the brownie batter and bake into the oven for 20-25 minutes.
7. Allow to cool completely before cutting it into squares.
8. To make the beer toffee sauce, heat the beer gently into a saucepan until it comes to the boil. Add the muscovado sugar and honey and let it simmer for at least 15 minutes on a low heat until the liquid had reduced and flavour has intensified. Add a splash of cream to tone down the richness of the sauce. Pour the sauce into a small can and serve with the lovely brownies.

Cake Season in full Bloom: Boozy and fruity elderflower cake

Published May 25, 2013 by The Feminist

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Elderflower cake is a well-known afternoon tea treat this time of the year: It is easy to bake and the refreshing floral taste of the elderflower transports us to the most sunniest places imaginable, even if it is raining cats and dogs outside.

Most elderflower cakes are made with elderflower cordial, a non-alcoholic soft drink that is often used in cocktails. The elderflower in this amazingly fragrant cake, however, is not so innocent. ( Innocence is not really my style 😉 ) I used “RoomeR”, a wonderful artisanal liquor produced in my hometown Ghent. It gives the cake a great depth and an electrifying boozy aftertaste! Oh yes, the RoomeR turns this cake into something truly special!

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Those who would really like to bake this cake (If you don’t, you are really missing out on something extraordinary, dear readers! ), but don’t live in Belgium and hence can’t find a bottle of RoomeR, I suggest mixing equal amounts of elderflower cordial and rum. Admittedly, it won’t be exactly the same, but at least you will get that boozy kick 😉 .

The topping was made with RoomeR, elderberry jam and decorated with fresh strawberries. Since the elderflower and the elderberry come from the same plant, it feels very therapeutic to bring these two predestined ingredients back together once more.

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Boozy and fruity elderflower cake

Ingredients:

For the sponge:
• 2 eggs
• 55gr soy spread (or butter)
• 190gr caster sugar
• 160gr plain flour
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 50ml milk
• 110 ml RoomeR

For the topping:
• 150gr elderberry jam
• 50ml Roomer
• Fresh strawberries

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line a 20cm diameter loose-bottomed cake tin with baking parchment.
2. Mix together the butter, flour, sugar and baking powder until it forms a sandy consistency.
3. Mix together the eggs, milk and RoomeR in a jug and gradually pour the liquid into the crumb mixture.
4. Mix thoroughly until the batter is thick and smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
5. Put the elderberry jam and the RoomeR in a small sauce pan and heat through to create a glossy and runny spread.
6. Once the cake is removed from the oven, leave to cool for 5 minutes in the tin and then pour over the fruity elderberry spread. Let it sit for half an hour before removing the cake from its tin.
7. Arrange some strawberries on top of the cake.

Even better than the fluffiest soufflé: it’s Michael Bublé

Published May 13, 2013 by The Feminist

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I have a confession to make, dear readers. One that might severely damage my funky reputation (do note the hint of sarcasm there 😉 ).

I am a huge Michael Bublé fan… like… the BIGGEST Michael Bublé fan…EVER! Not because he has the ability to write songs that give me goosebumps (Yes, I’m referring to you, Ed Sheeran!) or because he is the definition of “sex on legs” ( Hello, Mister Bruno Mars!) or because he has a very high cuddle-factor ( Nobody could be as cuddly as the members of One Direction!)

No. The reason why I am such a huge Bublé fan is very simple: his music makes me happy. Not just happy, I’m talking about sheer Zen-like bliss! Remember when I posted about the Great Gatsby and how much I would have loved living in the roaring twenties because of the amazing fashion? Well, when it comes to music, I wish I lived in the 1950s. Big Band music, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole,… Sigh. Isn’t that just the best music of all time?

Michael Bublé reminds me that “the music of gentlemen” still exists in modern-day society. Whereas most male artists sing about asses and sex, Mr Bublé sings about Love, with a capital L. It’s slick, it’s smooth, it’s cheesy, it’s absolutely loveable! It is by far the perfect music for a rainy day when all you want to do is climb in bed with a hot chocolate and never come out.

So here’s my advice to all of you who might sometimes feel down and utterly exhausted: listen to Michael Bublé and he will bring an instant smile to your face! I promise!

Here is one my favorite songs of his new album “To be loved”: Young at heart. This song, originally sung by the crooner of all crooners (oh Franky!) , is drenched in a lovely blend of melancholy and optimism. Anything is possible, as long as you keep believing in yourself and the power of positivism. If this song doesn’t bring a smile to your face, frankly, I’m afraid you’re beyond saving…

I’m guessing you’re smiling like an idiot right now? 😉