Saturday 24 January 2009

White chocolate and coffee truffles with dried strawberries

I’ll first allow myself a few words to excuse my great absence.
Not been ill nor lost my passion for cooking, nothing of that sort.
Something worse.

The last six months I’ve actually lived in Chile as an exchange student, on the oooother far side of the Earth from my sweet home Estonia. And with a lot of, well, experiences to experience, not much time is left for cooking and less for experimenting, especially with all those chileans around me shouting „haznos algo estoniano porfa!“

But after my first six months here I finally made something worth writing about. I expect to have a lot more to write during the almost six more months that are still left to live on this hemisphere! (Gosh, I’ve totally forgotten my English, couldn’t I just write in Spanish mejor?)

White chocolate and coffee truffles with dried strawberries

200g + 160g white chocolate
½ dl heavy cream1
½ tsp instant coffee powder (or espresso powder, or experiemnt with coffee extract)
1 tbsp hot water
about 20 g dried strawberries
(toasted) coconut flakes

  1. Chop 200g of white chocolate in little pieces.
  2. Bring cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate, mixing well until the chocolate is melted.
  3. Mix instant coffee powder with hot water and add the mixture bit by bit to the chocolate, tasting to have just as much coffee taste as you like (adding it all makes the coffe taste quite strong, but good;))
  4. Chop the dried straberries in small pieces and add to the mixture. Let the mixture stay in the fridge for a half an hour.
  5. While the chocolate is in the fridge, toast the coconut on a pan over low heat (I used the minimum heat of a gas stove) until golden and leave to chill.
  6. Form little balls of the chocolate mixture and return to the fridge to harden.
  7. Melt the rest of the chocolate over a waterbath or in the microwave and put the toasted coconut in a small bowl (if you melt the chocoalte in the microwave, you’ll have to melt it again halfway through the truffle making process as it will begin to harden)
  8. Dip the truffles first into the chocolate, then roll them in the coconut and leave them onto parchment paper or aluminium foil (I use a teaspoon to roll a truffle in the chocolate, drop it over the toasted coconut and then with a fork roll it over in the coconut, without letting the chocolate touch the bowl nor the fork to keep the coconut free of clumps).
  9. Let the truffles harden in the fridge and keep in the fridge or at room temperature.

The bitterness of the coffee (and coconut toasted without sugar!) balances well the overly sweet white chocolate, enough to allow to use sweet dried strawberries that give a summery and jolly touch to an otherwise kind of adult version of white chocolate truffles. Would be nice to wrap this chocolate mixture around a whole dried strawberry and make bigger truffles, this way the strawberry taste would come out clearer too, because these truffles don’t scream „strawberry!“, rather „coffee! Yum! Bittersweetsweet! One more!“

Monday 7 July 2008

Tomato cake, the sweet and spicy type

First point. I've now understood that vegetables do deserve their places in sweet cakes. They make them moist and therefore good. And I understand that before I've even tried beetroot-chocolate cake or chocolate cake with sauerkraut.

Second point. I haven't yet understood why vegetable cakes always hide their flavour behind a heap of spices or chocolate. Would they really be that bad otherwise? I haven't tried a version without them myself, but it seems as though we're just using the vegetables, isn't it? I mean, I'd be insulted, it's like dating a man but begging him to wear a paper bag on his head.

Third point. In case of a tomato flood at your house (I'm looking forward to ours...), this recipe is a great way of smuggling tomatoes into a dish. Just peel fresh tomatoes by scaring them with boiling water until the skin wants to come off by itself.

Spicy tomato cake with curd cheese frosting
(Adapted from Maria Öhrn's 'Tårtor' (Cakes))

100 g butter at room temperature
2 1/2 dl soft brown sugar (I used 2 dl of caster sugar and 1/2 dl of dark syrup instead)
3 eggs
3 dl pureed canned tomatoes (beware, they have to be in their own juice, not marinated)
5 dl flour
1/2 tbsp baking soda
1/2 ml ground nutmeg
2 ml ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
100 g walnuts (I used hazelnuts instead - a very tasty adaption!), chopped to pieces

400 g curd cheese (cream cheese could be used instead)
2 dl heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp lime juice
  1. Beat the soft butter together with the sugar until fluffy.
  2. Add eggs one by one and then pureed tomatoes.
  3. Mix flour with spices and baking soda, then add to the batter. Add chopped nuts.
  4. Grease a 24 cm springform pan and pour the batter into it. Bake at 175C for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely.
  5. Beat the heavy cream and sugar with an electric mixer until whipped, then add curd cheese. Flavour with extra sugar (if needed), vanilla and lime juice.
  6. Cut the cake into two and spread the frosting both between the layers and on top. The cake is good served immediately, but it's better after a few hours.

It's primarily a spice cake. I tried to trace tomato flavour (thinking of tomato juice), but it was quite hard. I think I noticed a bit of it, but that's as far as my noticing goes; I can't be sure:D

The spice combination kind of gets it and the cake is nicely moist, even if it doesn't look so apparent on the photos. The curd cheese frosting came out really nice and fitting, but I tend to think that sour cream could have been a cooler ingredient here. Even more in harmony with the whole spicy cakey thingy (and it's not that I thought about our family's all-time-favourite tomato salad with sour cream...).

Thursday 3 July 2008

Roasted banana ice cream with poppy seeds

Mayhaps you too went to search for some good bursting red tomatoes this one morning and encountered a bunch of blackened bananas instead. No bursting red tomatoes. Sad moment. The bananas looked kinda scary as well. Another sad moment.

But the thing with bananas is that they tend to be villainy. I mean, scaring me like that and then turning out to be perfectly lovely on the inside.

Makes me think I never really cared about the tomatoes anyway.

This is my first attempt at cooking a recipe from apparently the Bible of ice cream, David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop. But still I couldn't help but mess with it, dear me.

Roasted banana ice cream with poppy seeds
(adapted from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop, via butter sugar flour)

3 medium ripe bananas (totally ripe suits as well;))
75 g brown sugar
3 dl milk
1 dl curd cheese (using cream cheese would also be good)
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tsp lime juice
vanilla (1/2 tsp extract)
1/4 tsp salt
at least 1 tbsp of poppy seeds
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Slice the bananas and place into a small baking dish together with the brown sugar. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the bananas are caramelized. Turn once during cooking.
  3. With the help of a food processor, blender or immersion blender, puree the bananas together with the syrup from the baking dish, milk, curd cheese, sugar, lime juice, vanilla and salt until smooth. Add poppy seeds.
  4. Chill the mixture in the fridge until cold.
  5. Churn in an ice-cream machine until thick or place in a plastic container, pop it in the freezer and give it a good whip every hour or every few hours, depending on the temperature of your freezer.

The words banana ice cream never make me drool, actually, as I tend to think of store-bought ice cream pops that carry the same unmistakable banana essence flavour that all banana-FLAVOURED sweets have in them.
Maybe you've seen yellow banana-shaped jellybeans. Well, there must be a reason to their shape. Nobody would understand they're supposed to taste like bananas, is what I'd reckon.

But roasting really intensifies the taste of the bananas. It's not just banana-flavoured ice cream, it's actually banana ice cream. Which, you know, is a totally drool-worthy dish. The poppy seeds? They were the only thing I felt was missing from the ice cream, that's it.

The recipe will also be taking part of the fab event Frozen Desserts, hosted by Mike of Mike's Table.

Wednesday 25 June 2008

Rosy rhubarb truffles

I'm excited. First it was coco-nutty prunes in white chocolate and the road towards salvation (read: knowing the perfect ways to make truffles from fruit and berries) started showing itself. I mean, there are actually a million possibilities.

Then rhubarbs came.

And then I realized how much I really love myself the concept.

Rosy rhubarb truffles

300 g rhubarb stalks (two bigger ones or three smaller ones)
2 dl sugar
2-3 tbsp rosewater
white chocolate
(chopped almonds or almond slices)
  1. Peel the rhubarb stalks (if the stalks are young, you can just cut them without peeling) and cut to bite-size pieces. Place the pieces into a saucepan and add the sugar and rosewater on top.
  2. Cover with lid and heat until syrup forms from the sugar and rhubarb juice. Boil at low heat until tender, but not broken (about ten minutes), occasionaly gently stirring or turning the pieces around.
  3. Let the rhubarb cool down in the syrup, preferrably let it soak overnight.
  4. Pat the pieces a bit dryer on paper towels and reserve the syrup for later use. Melt white chocolate over a waterbath and dip each piece into it (if you wish, also dip them into almond pieces after the chocolate), then place on foil for hardening. Keep in the fridge, but take out a bit before serving.

The rhubarbs are tender, with rosy cheeks and sweet white coats. The rose flavour is quite moderate and although the filling is sweet in itself, it really needs the extra sweetness from white chocolate, rhubarb being sour in its very essence. You could add more sugar or more rosewater if you want a more instense bite, I don't mind!:)

Last time I added almond bits to coat the chocolate and the sensation was even better with a crunchy addition, so I'd definitely do it next time too. The leftover syrup can be made into a very good drink by adding water.

Next I'm thinking pears poached in black tea with bitter chocolate and hazelnuts. And then from there...

This post will take part of the first round of the event Original Recipes, hosted by Lore of Culinarty.

Thursday 19 June 2008

Granny got twisted

Now, don't be afraid if you've never heard of mayo cookies before. They're perfectly alright, perfectly sweet and actually quite perfectly perfect.
(And if you're still afraid, consider the ingredients of mayonnaise for a second - they're actually all used in sweet cookies too, you see! yeaaah!)

My grandmother is an expert and no matter how many times I try, I'll never get them that right. Maybe that's why I decided to give her mayo cookies my own twist, adding white chocolate on top (the best of ideas - she'd be proud of me). The first time I made them, I accidentally made them according to her original quantities which resulted in the whole kitchen being filled with cookies. Oh, you know, grannies and their recipes...

The quantities are reduced here, you shouldn't be afraid of flooding your kitchen with cookies if you plan to make them. (not that that's a bad thing, it just came unexpectedly to me)

Mayonnaise cookies with white chocolate

100 g mayonnaise
100 g butter, at room temperature
4 dl flour
2 dl sugar
1 egg

White chocolate
  1. Mix butter well with sugar, until the mixture becomes fluffier.
  2. Whisk in mayonnaise and then the egg. Finally add the flour.
  3. Place the dough into the fridge for 30 minutes.
  4. Make small balls of the dough between your fingers, place them onto a buttered baking sheet and flatten with a fork.
  5. Bake at 190C until slightly golden at the edges, about 9 minutes. Let cool.
  6. Melt white chocolate over a waterbath and decorate the cookies with it. Spread it on top or make other decorations. Let them cool for the chocolate to harden.
I must admit it - the batter tastes funny. But that's okay, because the cookies end up being sweet in that good childhoody way. That's the best way to put it, actually, the flavour is difficult to describe. But they're utterly delicious and the white chocolate gives them another sweet kick, making the final result girly and - again - childhoody.