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The Epitome of Elegance: Rose and Apricot Millefeuille

Published April 27, 2013 by The Feminist

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Forget Grace Kelly, Jackie O. and Marilyn. No Hollywood diva can compete with the delicate and dainty appearance of the Millefeuille. Although I usually opt for the more robust cakes and pies with bold and rich flavours, today I felt like tackling the grandeur and grace of one of France’s greatest classics.

My version of the Millefeuille is –as always- a bit different from the original. Instead of thousand layers of puff pastry (which is what “millefeuille” literally means), I just had two. Admittedly, my version may not have the majestic luxury of the French classic, but I believe it still looks rather delicate and refined. (Just nod your head if you agree 😉 )

However, when it comes to flavour, my very own personalized rose and apricot Millefeuille far surpassed the rather boring flavour palette of the original. (no offence to all French pastry chefs) I went for a rose and honey flavoured custard topped with fresh apricot, dried cranberries and home-made meringues. It tasted so exquisite, it was almost impossible to believe I had made it myself! It would even make Michel Roux jealous!

Michel Who? Exactly. No one nails the essence of superior flavour better than I do. Me, pretentious? Just remember: if you want to be a good baker, you have to be a bit boastful! 😉

Rose and apricot Millefeuille

Ingredients(makes 6):

• One sheet of puff pastry
• 2,5 dl milk
• ½ tsp rose water
• 3 egg yolks, (you can save the egg whites for the meringues or use shop-bought meringues)
• 2 tbsp corn flour
• 2 tbsp caster sugar
• 3 tbsp runny honey
• Handful of dried cranberries
• 3 ripe apricots, peeled, stoned and halved
• Almond flakes
• Icing sugar

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Cut out 6 rectangular pieces of puff pastry, brush them with some of the remaining egg white and sprinkle over some almond flakes. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Let them cool completely before cutting them in half horizontally.
2. To make the custard, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and corn flour until pale and fluffy.
3. Heat the milk, honey and rose water in a pan over medium heat until it starts to boil. (I also added a couple of drops of red food colouring to give the custard a beautiful pink hue.)
4. Add some of the hot milk to the egg mixture and mix well. Then pour the egg mixture back into the pan of milk and beat constantly on a low heat until the mixture starts to thicken. Pour the rose custard in a bowl and cover with cling film. Let it cool completely.
5. Cut the puff pastry cases in half and spread a thick layer of rose custard on the bottom layer.
6. Top with small chunks of apricot, dried cranberries and some crushed meringues.
7. Finish with the top layer of puff pastry and dust with icing sugar.

Pimp Your Pump! My latest Fashion Obsession: Shoe clips

Published April 25, 2013 by The Feminist

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I don’t do normal. I don’t do plain. And I have no desire whatsoever to be a natural beauty. Don’t get me wrong: I truly admire women who simply put on a pair of jeans and sneakers, wear no make-up and still look absolutely fabulous. However, I just know that being that woman is not for me. I guess that this character trait often gets on some of my friends’ nerves. “Why don’t you ever wear something low-profile?!” They never say that to my face of course, I can just hear them think it. It is fashion telepathy.

Whatever. I’m not going to change simply because it makes some people feel uncomfortable. I’ve always been like that. I don’t want normal and familiar. I like weird and unknown. When I was on a holiday to Italy, I spent a lot of my time eating gelato. There was one gelateria where they had the most awesomely weird flavours. People were queuing outside to get a cone of ice-cream but literally ALL OF THEM ordered Vanilla/chocolate/strawberry/straciatella. I mean, come on! I opted for the Greek yoghurt-nougat- honey ice-cream… with dried lavender.

Anyway, enough about gelato because it is making me really hungry. 😉 This post is after all about Fashion! To celebrate my refusal of all things ordinary, I discovered the most amazingly decorative trend. Shoe clips! I am truly obsessed about it at the moment. It is perfect for pimping a simple pair of pumps. Simply clip them on and –tadaaa! – you have one jazzed up pair of dramatic shoes!

Pearl brooches, small or giant bows, flowers, feathers,… anything goes really! So move over natural looking beauties, because this Cinderella is ready to bring some pizzazz to this world!

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Rainy day treats

Published April 18, 2013 by The Feminist

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Although the title may suggest otherwise, this is not a post about food, cake or baking. Believe me when I say that I completely understand the urge to indulge yourself in something sweet when it is raining cats and dogs outside. However, “something sweet” does not necessarily have to come out of the oven and contain sugar, it may also refer to the selection of man candy below.

Just like a cake that comes straight out of the oven, these men are sweet, yummy, delicious and hot. Luckily for all of us ladies (and the not so straight gentlemen) these guys do not contain calories, so please don’t feel guilty of absolutely enjoying this post. You’re supposed to! 😉

So wherever you are when you’re reading this – it doesn’t necessarily have to rain- I hope you’ll have a moment of pure joy…

Oh, and by the way: should you for some inexplicable reason feel guilty for objectifying these guys, just remember:

men feelings

Are you ready?

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I know you feel better now. 😉

The Rum Diaries: the most exotic dessert you’ll have ever tasted

Published April 6, 2013 by The Feminist

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When my mother walked into the kitchen this morning and asked what I was baking this time, it was very hard to find a suitable name. That’s what happens when you combine at least three different recipes and top it all off with your own personal input. I guess that you could best describe this dessert as an “exotic trifle” or maybe “Rum Baba Revisited”. Basically, it’s just the cake version of my two favorite cocktails: a caipirinha and  a pina colada.

Needless to say that , after I had mentioned the word “cocktail”, my mom didn’t need to hear any further details. She knew it was going to be an amazing dessert. God bless my mom for always believing in my cooking skills!

Or maybe she just believed in the power of rum. Because, quite frankly, everything tastes better with rum. I know that. You know that. Jack Sparrow knows that. It is common sense. Just like one plus one equals two, sugar plus rum equals heaven. It is basic mathematics.

That marvelous sweetness from the coconut rochers, that fragrant zing from the lime custard and that splendid fruitiness from the pineapple, all coated in a wonderful blanket of spiced rum syrup.

Cocktail sweetness

Ingredients (makes 6 glasses)

For the lime custard:
• 1,5dl lime juice (4-5 limes)
• 0,5dl water
• 150gr caster sugar (for the lime syrup)
• 50gr caster sugar (for the egg mixture)
• 25gr corn flour
• 2 egg yolks
• 1,5dl double cream

For the rum syrup:
• 0,5dl white rum
• 1,25dl water
• 65gr caster sugar
• 6 cardamom pods

For the decoration:
• Good quality shop-bought soft coconut rochers
• Half a pineapple, finely diced

Method:

1. Crumble a layer of coconut rocher on the bottom of each glass.
2. To make the lime custard, pour the lime juice, water and 150 grams of sugar in a sauce pan and bring to the boil.
3. In a bowl, beat together the egg yolks and 50 grams of sugar until light and creamy. Add the corn flour and mix through.
4. Pour a little bit of the hot lime syrup into your egg mixture and whisk well. Then pour the egg mixture into your pan of lime syrup and, on a low heat, whisk constantly until it starts to thicken.
5. Remove from the heat and pour the custard into a baking tray and cover straight away with cling film and set aside to cool completely.
6. To finish the custard, pour the double cream in a bowl and beat the cream until it forms soft peaks. Gradually fold the whipped cream into your cooled custard.
7. To make the rum syrup, add the ingredients to a pan and bring to the boil. Let it reduce by half.
8. Spoon three to four teaspoons of rum syrup over each layer of coconut rocher and pour the remaining syrup on top of your chopped fresh pineapple.
9. Scatter some pineapple over the coconut layer and then spoon a good dollop of lime custard on top.
10. Generously finish with al layer of boozy pineapple. (and decorate with some desiccated coconut if you like)

Going nuts over Peanuts: Peanut butter-maple cupcakes and chocolate-peanut cookies

Published March 23, 2013 by The Feminist

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In one of my very first blog posts ever (God, that seems such a long time ago!), I wrote about my obsession with peanut butter. (check out the post here) Well, dear readers, I have a confession to make: over the time that has passed, my obsession for this jar of ultimate comfort food has grown even more. (I had no idea that was even remotely possible!)

I simply can’t stop using it in desserts, cakes or curries. It adds richness, is packed full of flavour and it has that very famous “je ne sais quoi”-quality to it. Even if your pantry cupboard is completely empty, you can still bake the most amazingly delicious cakes if you keep a jar of peanut butter hidden under your bed (Who doesn’t , right? 😉 ) And you know what? Desserts with peanut butter are dead easy! So what better way to beat a bad mood than to conjure up some delicious peanutty goodness!

For those among you who are in a bad mood: stop whining! Start baking!

Peanut butter-maple cupcakes (makes 12-16)

Ingredients:

For the sponge:
• 70gr butter
• 210gr plain flour
• 250gr caster sugar
• 1tbsp baking powder
• ½ tsp salt
• 210ml whole milk
• 2 eggs
• 40gr peanut butter

For the frosting:
• 100gr cream cheese
• 30gr peanut butter
• 4 tbsp maple syrup
• 100gr unsalted peanuts, caramelized in a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line the muffin tin with paper cases.
2. Mix the butter, flour, sugar, salt and baking powder together until you get a crumb-like consistency.
3. In a jug, mix together the milk and eggs and slowly pour it in the crumb mixture. Mix until the batter is smooth and combined.
4. Add the peanut butter and mix through.
5. Spoon the batter into the prepared paper cases and bake for 20 minutes.
6. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. Mix together the cream cheese, maple syrup and peanut butter and spoon generous amounts of the frosting on top of each cupcake.

7. Top each cupcake with a sprinkling of the chopped caramelized nuts.

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Chocolate-peanut cookies

Ingredients:

• 170gr plain flour
• 40gr cocoa powder
• ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
• Pinch of salt
• 115gr unsalted butter
• 120gr peanut butter
• 120gr caster sugar, plus 40gr extra for rolling
• 90gr muscovado sugar
• 1 egg

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line baking trays with baking parchment.
2. Sift together the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
3. Cream the butter, peanut butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well.
4. Add the dry ingredients and mix until a dough has formed.
5. Put the extra caster sugar in a small bowl. Roll the dough into balls (4-5cm) and roll each ball in the caster sugar to give it a sexy and sugary coating.Place on the baking trays about 4 cm apart.
6. Bake for 10-15 minutes until they have a crusty surface and have cracked.

Am I dreaming or am I awake: It’s a Maple & Walnut Streusel cake

Published March 10, 2013 by The Feminist

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For the baking nitwits among you: a streusel is a crumblike topping consisting of flour, sugar, butter, cinnamon and sometimes-like this one- chopped nuts.

It is truly a dream come true! The streusel is crunchy, buttery and full of flavour and the sweet cinnamon swirl gives the cake a beautiful marble effect. The texture of the streusel works incredibly well with the light and too-easy-to-eat cake. Thanks to the addition of soured cream, the sponge was gorgeously moist and rich. Light and rich at the same time? How could that ever be possible?

Just bake it! You’ll see what I mean! 😉 I know that the cake may look terrifyingly difficult to some of you, but it was actually pretty easy to make. Or to quote Paul Coelho: “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

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Maple & Walnut Streusel Cake

Ingredients:

For the Streusel:
• 50gr moscovado sugar
• 80gr plain flour
• 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
• 45gr unsalted butter
• 80gr chopped walnuts, plus extra to decorate

For the sponge:
• 115gr unsalted butter
• 170gr caster sugar
• 2 eggs
• 200gr soured cream
• 280gr plain flour
• 1 ¼ tsp baking powder
• ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
• Pinch of salt
• 75ml maple syrup, to drizzle

For the glaze:
• 50gr icing sugar
• 2 tbsp maple syrup
• 1 tbsp water

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 170° en grease a Bundt cake tin with butter.
2. To make the streusel, place the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Add the butter and rub the mixture together using your fingertips until it forms a crumble. Add the chopped walnuts. Set aside.
3. Cream together the butter and sugar for the sponge until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix well. Add the soured cream.
4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the batter.
5. Sprinkle half the streusel mixture into the base of the tin and top with half of the cake batter. Sprinkle the remaining streusel mix on top and then top with the remaining batter.
6. Bake the cake for 45-50 minutes. Take out of the oven and while the cake is still warm, drizzle over the maple syrup. Allow the cake to cool in the tin.
7. Make the glaze by mixing the icing sugar, maple syrup and water together. You should get a smooth and runny glaze.
8. Turn the cooled cake out into a rack, so that it is streusel-side up. Drizzle the top of the cake with the glaze and sprinkle over some chopped walnuts.
9. Remember: Dreams do come true as long as you believe!

May 2013 be like a box of delights: decadent, delicious and super sweet

Published December 30, 2012 by The Feminist

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While I was eating my way through a box of Moroccan pastries this afternoon – without feeling the slightest bit of guilt – I suddenly realized that I had not yet thought of any New Year’s wishes. Who do I want to be in 2013? What would I like my life to be? (very cliché, I know)

It then dawned on me that I would like 2013 to be like that box of delights in front of me: full of sweet surprises. And that is what I wish ALL OF YOU for 2013 as well! A life of indulgence, with decadent treats and moments of pure joy. I want you to cherish the small things in life and turn them into sweet memories. Let 2013 be like a sugar rush: mind-blowing, head-spinning and heartwarming. Because we’re worth it!