Fluffy Banana Pancakes

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Most Tuesdays I work from home, which is one of my favourite things to do.

I can wake up an hour later than usual, make a giant mug of coffee (half-caf), and sit down to work in my pyjamas, with Minka (my cat) by my side (and occasionally stepping all over the computer keyboard and meowing loudly for attention).

On this grey November Tuesday, as I was well into the morning, the bananas I had planned to bake something with but had never gotten around to, and that were now teetering dangerously towards being too brown, were poking around at the edge of my mind. And so, since I aspire to never leave any brown banana behind, I decided to turn them into pancakes, and got to googling recipes.

These are quite possibly the loveliest, fluffiest banana pancakes I’ve ever had.

They are in fact so good, that I managed to eat three whilst standing at the stove top making them, and then decided I was too full to eat any more just now, but still ended up sneaking into the kitchen afterwards to eat the two trial ones I’d made first and cast aside…

They have a delicate banana flavour to them, not too sweet but sweet enough that you can eat them on their own, should you wish to, and they’re really light, and slightly crispy on the outside. They take about 2 minutes to whip together, and another 10-15 minutes to fry. And about 30 seconds to eat, with or without maple syrup.

As I was working I didn’t manage to take any pictures other than the one above (so I’ve supplemented with some Autumn leaves and a few shots of my cat). But I still wanted to post the recipe, since they are quite possibly my new favourite thing, and very different to the recipes for oatmeal pancakes I’ve posted before.

So here’s to the loveliest, fluffiest and sunniest banana pancakes you will ever eat on a grey November morning.

The Best Banana Pancakes
adapted ever so slightly from once upon a chef

  • 185 g (1 1/2 cup) flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 medium, (over-)ripe banana
  • 240 ml (1 cup) milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp olive oil (or any vegetable oil you have on hand)

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

In a small bowl, mash the peeled banana with a fork, whisk in the eggs, then milk and vanilla extract.

Whisk the banana mixture and the three tbsp of oil into the dry ingredients; don’t over-mix, just until there are no visible streaks of flour (it’ll be slightly lumpy, but that’s perfectly fine).

Heat up a bit of oil in a non-stick pan, and drop smallish quarter-cups of batter into the frying pan. Fry over medium to low heat until the pancakes start to look cooked around the edges, about 30 seconds to a minute, then flip them over and cook through. Be careful that they don’t burn, and turn down the heat if they seem to be getting too dark. They don’t need very long, and will still feel lightly squidgy in the middle if you poke them with you finger, but they will be cooked through, don’t worry.

Transfer the finished ones onto a plate, and keep going until you’re out of batter – I got about 16 medium pancakes out of mine!

These are best eaten right away, as they’ll still be crispy around the edges. But they’re also perfectly fine eaten later, and if you warm them up in the oven they regain some of their crispiness. They’re also perfectly lovely microwaved, especially with maple syrup on top.

Bon app’!
🙂

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Minka, drinking a Capri-Sun

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🐣 (Easter!) Cookies with Toasted Coconut and Lime 🐣

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Let me preface this recipe by saying… these cookies aren’t very pretty. They sort of look like funky little fried eggs. And while I’ll choose flavour over frill any day of the week, I struggled a bit with coming to terms with their appearance. But, rustic look aside, they taste really great, and all of the batches I’ve made have disappeared in record time.

I’ve loved the coconut-citrus combo ever since I had some completely delicious little lemon and coconut cookies in a small Copenhagen café, about 5 years ago. I was in the last stages of thesis-writing, and, having just dropped my thesis off at the printers’, my nerves were frayed! No more proof-reading once the tome had been handed off to be bound, as I’d resigned my perfectionist self to not even taking a peek at it again once printed, for fear of finding some spelling mistake or who knows what, that would annoy me to death (or, at least, until my thesis defence, after which I’d most likely never give the whole thing another thought, ever again).

So, about the cookies. I have such vivid memories of them, and the little café, right down to the froth on the cappuccino I consumed whilst waiting for the printers’ to do their thing. They were simple little shortbread kind of cookies, but softer, slightly chewier. Just such a lovely, zesty memory from the thesis-writing fog, one  that seems to have kick-started an almost yearning in me for all things citrus and coconut. And tragically, I haven’t managed to find some like them ever again, or reproduce the shortbready-but still soft and ever so slightly chewy goodness that was those cookies.

But I think these finally hit the spot, so much so that I’ve managed to get over the fact that they look a little odd. And although I think they’re great for all year round cookie consumption, the fact that they sort of look like eggs, or very strange little birds’ nests, is very fitting this time of year (Easter and all).

They also keep really well for a few days! While I find that regular thumbprint cookies get a little boring and stale after a day or two, these actually get better, in my opinion (although I’ve only tried up to two-day old ones, as I just happened to have overlooked two in a tin at the office, which, upon my eating them, cemented my faith in the yumminess of this cookie). So yeah, rough around the edges toasted coconut and lime cookies, for Easter, or when you just happen to need a coconut-lime boost, and don’t care if it comes in the shape of a fried egg-looking kind of treat 🙂

The first time I made them, I found that I wanted a more proportionate curd to cookie ratio, so the second time around, I made the cookies smaller, and the dent slightly bigger, to allow for a tad more lime curd. The third time, I added even more lime curd, about a scant tsp per cookie. I really love the zestiness of them, and the fact that they aren’t too sweet! If you’re not heavily into tart desserts and treats, maybe stick with a regular-sized thumbprint, and a little less curd 🙂 But I think the lime curd is really what this cookie is all about, and that it off-sets the butteriness and goes so so well with the lightly toasted coconut. So if, like me, you’re into seriously zingy desserts, don’t be afraid of piling on the curd, even if it makes the cookies look a little less than elegant 🍋 😉

Toasted Coconut and Lime Cookies
Adapted from Well Plated by Erin, yield: 24-30 little cookies

  • 230 g (1 cup/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened/room temperature
  • 140 g (2/3 cup) sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 250 g (2 cups) flour
  • 1 egg white
  • about 100 g (1 cup) unsweetened desiccated/shredded coconut
  • 120-240 ml (1/2-1 whole cup) homemade or store-bought lemon or lime curd (for a quick homemade lime curd recipe, see below), depending on your preferred curd to cookie ratio 😉

If making your own lime curd, begin by whisking together 1 large egg and the juice and zest of 2 limes in a small saucepan. Add 1/2 heaped tsp corn starch, 75 g sugar and 50 g cold butter, cubed, and begin to heat the mixture up over medium heat, whisking throughout, until the ingredients melt together and the mixture begins to thicken and simmer. Once the curd is beginning to thicken, turn the heat down to low, and leave to simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring once in a while. Transfer to a bowl, and leave to cool down while you make the cookie dough.

In a large bowl, mix together the softened butter, salt and sugar. A wooden spoon works just fine, provided your butter is soft enough. Add the flour a little at a time, until it’s all incorporated, but try not to over-mix.

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Preheat your oven to 175°C/350°F. In one large, shallow bowl, mix an egg white with 1 tbsp of water, to make an egg wash. In another large, shallow bowl, pour in your shredded coconut.

Roll little half-walnut sized balls of dough between your hands, then dip into the egg wash, and roll in the coconut. I prefer to do the dipping with one hand, to keep the other hand relatively clean for rolling purposes… 🙂 But it doesn’t matter much, if some egg wash and coconut from your fingers gets rolled into the cookie!

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Place on a baking sheet covered in baking parchment, about 3-4 cm/1 inch apart, to allow for the cookies to spread out a little (they will spread out both when you press into them to make the thumbprint, and as they bake). Make a generously sized indentation in each cookie, thereby flattening it and leaving a border around the centre of the cookie (I either make three smaller dents next to each other, or wiggle my finger around to make the dent wider than a normal thumbprint). Fill the dent with as much lime curd as you think you want, I’d go for a scant tsp 🙂

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the coconut begins to get that nicely golden, toasted look. Leave to cool completely on the baking sheet, then transfer to a cookie tin/container.

And munch away 🙂 🐣

 

Butterscotch Blondies on a Sunday

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… a little caramel origami bird (•ө•)

Last Sunday was kind of perfect. Grey and cold outside, I spent the day inside, warm and cosy, a slow day with soft light, not getting out of my pyjamas, the smell of coffee, and my favourite person hovering over their laptop trying to get things done while I baked blondies and drank tea, and also a bath, and naps, and copious episodes of friends.
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I’ve never had blondies before, but my parents got me the Violet Bakery Cookbook for my birthday, and I was itching to try out one of the recipes. The whole entire book is just beautiful, and all of the recipes seem straightforward, and look and sound delicious. The cakes and bakes, savoury and sweet, are rustic and very, very pretty, with, heavy emphasis on flavour over fancy (i.e. not a single decorative and fussy but ultimately dry and boring cupcake in sight). And the photos are gorgeous.

I decided to only add caramel shards to half of the pan of blondies, because I was a bit worried I may have made the caramel a tiny bit too dark. I don’t think so after all, now, but I’m glad I tried it, because the result was two very distinct kinds of blondie, one akin to chewy salted chocolate chip cookies (!!!!), and one a tad more sophisticated, but also a bit sweeter.

I personally go back and forth between which version I prefer (I was eating them for three days, so I had plenty of time to reflect on the matter), and those I’ve made to try them have been split down the middle, too. I guess it depends, then, on what you’re going for – a blondie that’s a tad more decadent, and a bit more impressive, with chewy pockets of butterscotch, or one that is basically just a giant chewy salted chocolate chip cookie. I just don’t know. Luckily I made both 😈 I think I may also try a version with both milk and dark chocolate chips and hazelnuts.

What I’m getting at is that this is a very, very yummy blondie. One that I will definitely make again. It’s rich, dense, chewy, and best eaten in small amounts, but you’d be surprised at how quickly you can finish off the entire pan…. Like my mum said, sarcastically, does this contain any butter? 😏

And, unlike a cookie, which I prefer completely fresh out of the oven for that perfect crisp to chewy-gooey ratio, I actually liked these blondies even better the next day, after they’d had time to really chewify (yes, I may have made up that verb).

They keep really well for days, too (three days tops though). Happy munching! 🙂

The Violet Butterscoth (and/or Chocolate Chip) Blondie
From The Violet Bakery Cookbook / the happy foodie – yield: 12-16 blondies

  • 250 g (1 cup + 1 tbsp) unsalted butter (if you only have salted, simply half the amount of salt used below), plus a bit for greasing the cake tin
  • 2 eggs
  • 300 g (1 3/4 cups) light brown sugar (I used cane sugar)
  • 1 ½ tsp vanillla extract
  • 240 g (1 3/4 cups) flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 125 g (4 ½ ounces) milk chocolate , broken/chopped into smaller pieces
  • 75 g caramel shards (if using): 2 tbsp water + 150 g caster sugar*

* This makes 150 g of caramel shards, i.e. twice the amount needed for one portion of butterscotch blondies, and in my case, since I made only a half portion with caramel, four times the amount needed; although you can keep the caramel shards in the freezer for future use, I think you’d be ok to half the amount of water and sugar, though, and only make one half portion – I will try this out next time.

For the caramel shards:

Cover a large baking sheet with greaseproof paper. Make your caramel shards by placing the water and sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium to low heat. Don’t stir, just let the sugar start to dissolve. Once it does, increase the heat to medium-high, still not stirring, to avoid crystallisation. Watch the mixture closely as it begins to darken (if some of the sugar isn’t melting properly, give the pan a gentle twirl to distribute the melting sugar a bit more evenly).

When the bubbling caramel is a deep dark golden brown, carefully pour it onto your greaseproof paper. Twirl the baking sheet around until you have a thin, even layer of caramel. Leave to cool completely, then break into smaller pieces, either (carefully) with a knife, or by scrunching the greaseproof paper with your hands. If not used more or less right away, place in a container or freezer bag and place in the freezer, as it will go sticky and soft quite quickly.

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For the batter:

Grease a 20×30 cm baking tin, and line with baking parchment; preheat your oven to 160°C/320°F.

Chop the milk chocolate.

Melt the butter (either in the microwave for just under a minute or in a small pan), and set aside for a moment.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla until pale yellow, then whisk in the melted butter.

In a smaller bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking powder, then fold this and the milk chocolate pieces into the egg and sugar mixture with a silicone spatula, just until combined/there are no streaks of flour.

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Pour into the baking tin and smooth out with your spatula, then distribute 75 g of the caramel shards evenly on top, if making butterscotch blondies, 35 g over half of the batter if making half/half, and none, if making simple chewy chocolate chip blondies.

Bake for 30 minutes, until they are golden and set but still a little soft and gooey in the middle.

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Let cool completely before cutting into pieces (although I did yield and have some while they were still warm 😉 ).

Keep leftover blondies well-covered in the tin, or in an air tight container. They travel very well, and keep for about three days, should you decide not to share them with anyone else.

•••

P.s.: A few of the other Violet Bakery Cookbook goodies I can’t wait to try out are these rye chocolate brownies and coconut macaroons, and the ham, cheese and leek scones (not pictured):

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No Banana Left Behind

Blueberry-Banana Poppy Seed Muffins

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I haven’t really been craving anything banana-ey lately, and so I put off making anything with the pile of super brown bananas lying in my fruit bowl. Then on Friday my friend Nadia brought me some brown bananas she’d had lying around, and, not wanting to chuck the lot, Sunday night I decided to just get on with it, use the damn bananas. I feel kind of bad saying it, I mean I LOVE bananas, and most any kind of baked good with them in it, but the past weeks I’ve just been daydreaming about fudgy brownies and cinnamon rolls. But, in my kitchen, no banana is left behind.

I first made Luna Månebarn’s vegan banana bread in November of last year, and have been making it again and again and again ever since. It’s so good, and so quick to make, better than most non-vegan banana breads out there. Then a little while back, she posted a recipe for blueberry muffins with bananas and poppy seeds, and I printed it out and put it in my ‘to try’ pile. It’s a ‘mix everything together in one bowl’ kind of recipe, which takes about 10 minutes, tops, to mix together and distribute into your muffin pan, probably less time than it takes to heat up your oven, which is my most favourite kind of recipe. Especially when it’s 10 pm on a Sunday, and I have a bunch of brown bananas looking at me with sad, reproachful eyes.

And these muffins – oh man. They’re kind of surprising, I wouldn’t normally think to pair bananas and poppy seeds! But these are so light and moist, sweet with just the right amount of salty, and the delicate sweetness and satisfying crunch of the poppy seeds and bursts of tangy blueberries that offset the sweetness… I’ve already eaten six.

I whipped them up in less than 30 minutes, start to finish. They are just lovely and kind of delicately wholesome, and at times almost taste like they have chocolate in them (maybe the combination of poppy seeds and super ripe bananas does that?! I don’t know, but some bites taste almost chocolatey to me). I made a double portion to use up more bananas, the recipe doubles super easily. I might add 50 g more blueberries next time, I like my blueberry muffins heavy on the blueberry! Other than that, to me at least, these are kind of perfect.

Though do make sure to check your teeth after eating one, poppy seeds love to hang around 😏 😁

Blueberry-Banana Poppy Seed Muffins
adapted slightly from maanebarnet / yield: 12

  • 150 g (1 1/5 cups or 1 cup and 3 tbsp) flour
  • 150 g (3/4 cups) sugar (I use cane sugar)
  • 50 g (a scant 1/2 cup) blue poppy seeds
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 ½ very ripe bananas, mushed
  • 50 g oil (1/4 cup) (I used coconut)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • 100 g (1 cup) frozen blueberries + 1 tbsp flour

Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a muffin tin.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, poppy seeds, salt and baking soda.

Mush your bananas, then add these, along with the oil and the vinegar (or lemon juice) to the dry ingredients. Stir everything together well, but don’t over-stir – just until you’re sure there are no streaks of flour. Toss the blueberries in the tbsp of flour, then quickly and gently fold these into the batter.

Scoop into your muffin liners, then bake for 20 minutes, until the muffins are nice and golden. Let them cool in the pan.

Eat one as soon as you can 🙂 they keep well for several days at room temperature. I’m sure they also freeze well (the banana-nut ones do), but I will test this and report back!

January Birthdays / Chocolate and Pistachio Cupcakes

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I’m a little bit birthdayed out, to tell you the truth. It seems to me like half the people I know, myself included, are January babies. Someone told me this is because a lot of people get frisky around Springtime, and hence: lots and lots of January-babies.

Last week was my sister’s 30th birthday, and she had a big party with family and friends. I’m not a fan of cupcakes, personally, but since she requested them, and she was the birthday girl, I obliged. And since she loves pistachio, I decided to try my hand at chocolate and pistachio cupcakes. I even ground the pistachios into pistachio paste by hand, not having been able to locate any pistachio paste in any of my local supermarkets or health stores. I can still feel my pecs.

The cupcakes turned out lovely, if a bit too heavy on the chocolate, in my opinion – I was really hoping the pistachio would shine through a bit more (twenty minutes of pestle-and-mortar-action will do that). I’ll definitely make them again, but next time I’ll omit the chocolate chips, and perhaps make 2/3 of the batter pistachio, and the rest into chocolate, to let the pistachio take centre stage. As it were, you could definitely taste the pistachio, but more as a subtle afternote to the chocolate, not what I was after 🙂 And the ganache frosting also packs a nice chocolate punch, so no need to worry about any chocolate withdrawals. I think I may also add more chopped pistachios to the batter next time, in lieu of the chocolate chips…

I was worried they’d be dry, but they were really nice and moist, and just a bit different to your typical cupcake (which I personally tend to find a bit bland and more for show than anything else!) – even though they were less pistachio-y than I had anticipated 🙂 I also had a bit of a frosting-fail induced panic when my newly acquired piping gadget failed me, resulting in super ugly blobs of chocolate ganache, but I remedied that by flattening the ganache with a teaspoon, dipped in just-boiled water and dried off, to make the chocolate look shiny again and less blob-like. The result was a bit ‘rustic’, if you will, but when you sprinkle beautiful bright green and purple-tinged chopped pistachios on top, no one will notice your less than stellar ganache-piping skills 🙂

I’ll definitely make them again, pistachio paste included, with slightly less chocolate next time!

Chocolate and Pistachio Cupcakes
Adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini – makes about 25-30 cupcakes, depending on the muffin tin

For the chocolate batter:

  • 135 g (1 cup) flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 75 g butter, softened
  • 150 g (2/3 cup) sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 190 ml (3/4 cup) full fat plain yoghurt
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 120 g dark chocolate, chopped

For the pistachio batter:

  • 135 g (1 cup) flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 75 g butter, softened
  • 150 g (2/3 cup) sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 190 ml (3/4 cup) full fat plain yoghurt
  • 120 g shelled, unsalted pistachios
  • 3/4 tsp icing sugar

For the ganache:

  • 200 g dark chocolate (I used 52% to avoid to chocolate dominating too much), broken into chunks
  • 200 ml heavy cream

Make the ganache by heating up the cream (e.g. in the microwave for a minute or two on high), and pouring it over the chocolate chunks. Leave for a good five minutes, then stir until you have a glossy ganache. If some of the chocolate is still in chunks, place the bowl back into the microwave for about 10 seconds on high, and then continue stirring. Set aside to cool down and thicken while you make your cupcakes.

Preheat your oven to 180°C/360°F.

Line your cupcake moulds.

Roughly chop the pistachios using a serrated knife. Reserve 20 g of the pistachios for decoration, 60 g to add to the batter, and 40 g to make your pistachio paste: place the 40 g of pistachios in a mortar, and grind them until they start to look like a paste. Add the icing sugar, and keep grinding until the mixture isn’t dry, and the bits of pistachio stick to each other. This can also be done in a food-processor, I suppose, but due to the small quantity, I was a bit worried my pistachios would simply get stuck in the blades 😉 This process took about 20 minutes, maybe a bit more.

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Using the same chopping board and knife, chop the dark chocolate, and set aside.

Prepare you your chocolate and pistachio batters in two separate bowls.

For the chocolate: cream together the butter and sugar with an electric whisk, and add the eggs one at a time, until well mixed. Add the yoghurt and vanilla, mixing well. Set aside your electric mixer. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Sift this into the wet ingredients, then fold together until just combined.

Now prepare your pistachio batter: cream together the pistachio paste, butter and sugar with your electric whisk, and add the eggs one at a time, until well mixed, followed by the yoghurt. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and the remaining 60 g of chopped pistachios. Mix into the wet ingredients until just combined.

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Put about 1 tpsb of the chocolate batter into the cupcake liners, spreading it around a bit with your spoon, and sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. Now place 1 tbsp of the pistachio batter on top, and spread out a bit to even it out. Bake for about 15 minutes until they are just golden, repeating until you have no more batter (I kept alternating my two cupcake pans).

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Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, and the ganache has set to a spreadable consistency, about an hour I’d say (don’t let the ganache sit around too too long, either, and definitely keep it at room temperature, so it stays nice and shiny and doesn’t get too thick to frost the cupcakes with), decorate the cakes however you like! As mentioned above, I ended up spreading the ganache on the cupcakes with a teaspoon, which I kept dipping in just-boiled water and wiping off, so that it wasn’t wet, but hot enough to spread the ganache out and make it nice and shiny 🙂

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Little Lime and Meringue Tarts

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I spent New Year’s Eve with my cousin Justine, her two-year old Inaé, and my grandma Paulette (who always hated her name, and tried to get us to call her mamy Pauline instead, still does) 🙂 three generations of women. Justine and I were born exactly four weeks apart. And the funny thing is, she was born two weeks early, and I was born two weeks late 🙂 so I like to think that we would have been born on the same date. Her coming out early, and me holding on and coming out a bit later, is also somehow indicative of our personalities. She’s a lot more ‘here I am world, hear me roar’, than I am. And I like to stay cosy and warm, and just hang back a little bit 🙂 when we were little, before I moved to Copenhagen with my mum at the age of 4, Justine and I did everything together, and with both our parents working, grandma was usually the one taking care of us, and picking us up after school. We would take naps on my grandma’s bed, and go for walks in park Solvay, which had a garden with a lot of little round ponds, that were usually full of tadpoles. Justine and I have stayed very close, and although we’re super different in personality, she’s more like a sister to me than a cousin. I guess having a crazy family kind of makes you sisters in arms 🙂

Last night we drank fancy champagne that my grandma brought, ate salmon toasties, a thai take-away, and then these little lime and meringue tarts that I made earlier in the day. Lime curd is so easy to make, and somehow a tiny bit less sharp than lemon curd (which I also love love love). I love most things citrussy. Did you ever try adding lime juice to pineapple juice? If not, you should try it. It’s like tropical heaven in your mouth. I feel like this would also be extremely delicious with a bit of rum.

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I usually make a biscuit base when I make a lemon-meringue tart, but the digestive biscuits in my cupboard expired in February 2015, so I went for this short crust/sablée pastry from Maja Chocolat instead. Quick and easy to make, even without a food processor, and very easy to work with 🙂

For lemon meringue, I swear by this recipe by the sorted boys, it’s so easy and so so yummy, and looks crazy impressive even though the only thing that takes a bit of time is the curd, and it really doesn’t take very long at all… If I make a regular-sized tart with a biscuit-base, I always make it in a springform pan, so that it doesn’t get messed up when I’m unmolding it 🙂 I think I’m gonna stick to making mini ones in a muffin tin though, because it looks so much more impressive, and people go cuckoo for coco puffs for individual little desserts. This time, inspired by Maja Chocolat, I decided to swap lemon for lime, and I don’t think I’m ever going back. I just fricking love limes.

This recipe makes quite a lot, but you could always halve it 🙂 I made a double portion of pastry (mainly because the original recipe calls for ½ egg, and you know how sometimes, when you’re busy, making a double portion rather than faffing about with weighing an egg to split it in half, somehow just seems quicker and like less work?), which made for 21 little tarts, but if rolled out a bit more finely than I did mine, I’m sure it could stretch to make 24-25 little tarts! Since I’d doubled the pastry, I guestimated that I would need about 1 ½ portions of the curd from the sorted recipe, which left me with a small pot of leftover lime curd (so just enough to make 4-5 more little tarts). I also made 13 more meringue, but I needn’t have, so I’ve put the quantities for a single portion down below, it’s more than enough.

These could very easily be made in advance – make the pastry shells and lime curd the day before, keeping the filled little tarts in the fridge until the next day, then making/burning the meringue on the day of. I would also recommend doing this if you’re going to travel with the tarts, as the meringue will very easily start to slide off if held at even a slight angle (which I discovered to my great dismay, upon arrival at my cousin’s 😉 ), resulting in lopsided little tarts – which is a shame when you’ve just spent ages making and decorating them 🙂 as for the burnt/caramelised meringue, I recently acquired a blowtorch, but before then I would simply turn on the grill in my oven, wait until it was nice and hot, then briefly put the meringue-decorated tart under it with the oven door open, keeping a sharp watch so as to only just burn the meringue, but not melt the curd underneath 🙂

Little Lime and Meringue Tarts
Adapted from chocolat.dk and sorted.com
Yield: 21+ little tarts, depending on how thinly you roll out your pastry

Short crust:

  • 150 g cold butter, cubed
  • 300 g flour
  • 100 g icing sugar
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white, for brushing the pastry

Lime curd:

  • Juice and zest of 6 limes
  • 3 large eggs
  • 225 g sugar
  • 150 g cold butter, cubed
  • 1 ½ tsp corn flour, heaped
  • (You can add one drop of green food colouring, if you prefer your lime curd to be nice and green! But I don’t find this necessary 🙂 )

Meringue:

  • 3 egg whites*
  • 120 g caster sugar

Something to make with your leftover egg yolks!

First, make the crust: In a large bowl, mix together the flour, icing sugar and salt, then mix in the butter with your fingers until it resembles finely ground parmesan cheese/fine breadcrumbs. Beat your egg slightly in a cup or bowl, then pour into the the flour mixture, mixing with a fork or spoon for a bit then using your hands to press the dough together. It will be quite dry and easy to work with.

Roll out bits of the dough at a time on a cutting board, cutting out rounds of it with a cutter about
6 cm/2 inches in diameter (I used a large IKEA glass). Carefully lift each pastry round off the cutting board with a spatula, and place in an ungreased muffin tin. Gently press down to make sure it lays flat against the bottom and the sides (I also pres down with my nail all around the top to make a pattern, before pressing the pastry back against the sides. This makes a sort of flower petal/scalloped pattern which looks lovely once baked).

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Place the muffin tin with the pastry in the freezer for about 10 minutes, then poke little holes in the bottom of your pastry with a fork, to prevent it from bubbling up too much.

Bake in a preheated oven at 175°C/350°F for about 15 minutes, then briefly take your mini crusts out of the oven to brush them with egg white (just the bottom and sides, not the edge), and bake for a further 5 minutes, until golden. The egg wash will keep your tart crusts nice and crispy once filled with curd and cooled.

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Slip the crusts out of the muffin tin, and leave to cool completely on a cooling rack.

Meanwhile, make the lime curd:

Juice and zest your limes into a small pot. Whisk in your eggs.

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Add the butter, sugar and corn starch, then heat up over medium heat, whisking throughout. Once the mixture starts to simmer and thicken, turn the heat down to low, and allow to keep on simmering for a little while, about 5 minutes, whisking now and then.

When your tart shells have cooled, pour about a scant ¼ cup/50 ml into each shell, so that it just reaches the edge.

Place in the fridge to cool (I like to place them in a roasting dish with sides higher than the little tarts, so they don’t get smushed, and cover them in tin foil). They should take a few hours to set completely (less if your fridge is set quite cold because you need to shower and finish the desserts and be at dinner in an hour and a half!).

Finally, make the meringue (once the curd has set completely!):

Beat your egg whites until they make stiff peaks. Then add in your sugar, and beat until the meringue is thick and glossy.

Pipe unto the little tarts however you please 🙂 I used a plastic freezer bag and cut a little hole in one of the corners because my piping bag is dead, so mine are a little rustic-looking 😉

Caramelise your meringue, either by using a blowtorch, or by placing the tarts (briefly!) under a hot grill.

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Keep in the fridge, and take out for about 5-10 minutes before serving 🙂

The tarts keep for a few days in the fridge, and are perfect to have for breakfast on January 1st, accompanied by tea, buttered toast and poached eggs! 😊

🎉🎉🎉 Happy 2016!!! 🎉🎉🎉

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🎄⛄️Farmors Brunkager ⛄️🎄

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Today was my last working day of 2015 (yay!!!!), and tomorrow (the 23rd) is lillejuleaften, as we say in Danish – little Christmas Eve 🙂 For Danes, that’s when the Christmas celebrations really  begin. As in, we start making the food, and things get serious. Serious eating, serious drinking, serious Christmassing.

We’re spending Christmas at my parents’, who just moved house and are living in a maze of opened and unopened boxes. The kitchen came several weeks too late and is still being installed, and the Christmas tree has yet to be decorated (gasp) – so things promise to get a little bit chaotic!

But let’s worry about that tomorrow 🙂 Tonight there’s still time for me to finish my Christmas baking, which I am seriously behind on. But that’s all I have planned for tonight – baking, baking, baking! So Christmas is saved, at least on the cookie front 😉

I made brunkager last year as well and really loved them, but decided to try another recipe this year, for three reasons: whilst most recipes for these little Christmas cookies use dark syrup, last year I used light syrup. Moreover, last year’s recipe produced a very thin and melt-in-your-mouth cookie, which, although delicious, was not the classic brunkage-texture I was after. And finally, the dough was a bit finicky, and this year I’m just not having any of that. I loved them and will definitely make them again, but they were not like a ‘true’ brunkage, which is very thin, but also super crunchy, and very dark, not all that sweet (but just sweet enough).

I wasn’t going to make any this year, but then I stumbled upon a recipe by a favourite Danish dessert-blogger of mine, Anne au Chocolat, in a little e-magazine for a Danish brand, to which she’d contributed a few recipes. I took a screen shot but lost the link, which I guess doesn’t much matter, as long as the recipe is intact 🙂

What prompted me to try it is the fact that it’s super simple and quick. Moreover, ‘farmor’ means grandma, which led me to believe this would indeed produce a very traditional brunkage. And it did 🙂 Thin and crisp, dark  and ‘mollasses-y’ from the syrup, fragrant with cloves and cinnamon and studded with slivers of almond – this is a true brunkage. And really quick to make, which I think is always an plus during the December rush.

The recipe said to bake them for 8-10 minutes, but I ended up burning several batches this way, and finally settled on 5-6 minutes. My oven runs pretty hot, but it’s important not to bake these at too low a heat, or they don’t get as crispy-crunchy as they should. This is not a soft and chewy cookie. As they’re quite dark and fragrant, it’s important that they not bake for too long, they need to bake JUST until they begin to darken – and then, as soon as they’ve crisped up on the baking sheet for a few minutes out of the oven, they should be transferred to a cooling rack. Anyways, they’re quick to make, and taste like Danish Christmas to me 🙂 and my mum loves them, so I had to make them. I’ve included the quantities for cups and ounces below, but this recipe is definitely best to make using kitchen scales, as the conversion from grams doesn’t yield round numbers.

Wishing everyone a happy end of the year and a Merry Christmas, see you in 2016! 😊

❄Farmors brunkager❄
Yield: about 80 little cookies

  • 125 g butter (1.1 stick/0.55 cup), softened
  • 85 g (3 ounces/0.43 cup) sugar
  • 125 g (90 ml/2/5 cup) dark syrup
  • 200 g (1 3/5 cups) flour
  • 3/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • a big pinch of salt
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) roughly chopped almonds, or store-bought almond slivers

In a big bowl, mix together the butter, sugar and dark syrup. If your butter is soft enough, a hand whisk or spatula should do.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, spices, salt and baking soda. Mix this into the butter mixture with a silicone spatula until just combined, then mix in the almond slivers or chopped almonds (although home-blanched/-chopped almonds will produce a better ‘bite’, I used store-bought ones this time, which are thin slivers, rather than chunky. Next year I might chop up some whole, blanched almonds though, I think, as I like the added texture it lends to the cookies 🙂 ).

The dough will be super sticky. On a lightly floured chopping board, and with floured hands, grab a chunk of the dough and, as swiftly as you can in order to avoid the need for more flour, roll it into a log about 3,5-4 cm (a little over an inch) wide. There shouldn’t be any flour visible. Place a piece of kitchen film on top, and wrap the dough, using the kitchen film to shape it into a nice log, patting the ends somewhat flat. Place on a clean chopping board, and repeat with the rest of the dough. You should have two or three little logs. Place in the fridge over night.

Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F.

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Slice the logs thinly, about 2-3 mm, and place on a non-stick baking sheet. Bake for 5-6 minutes, keeping a close watch on the cookies during the last minute. They should begin to brown along the edges, but be careful to take them out of the oven before they get too dark.

Let them cool for a minute or two on the baking sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

As soon as they cookies have cooled completely, place them in a cookie tin (they get soft quite quickly if you leave them out too long!).

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The cookies keep for several weeks in a cookie tin, if not eaten 🙂

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🌲⛄Thumbprint Cookies and Jødekager⛄🌲

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I wasn’t completely ready for it to be Christmas this year, to be honest. I feel as though the past year just whizzed by, and wasn’t it just Christmas 2014? But then the last week of November rolled around, and I started to feel the tingle of anticipation creeping up on me. Last weekend we decorated my flat, and I bought a ridiculous amount of fairy lights.

So my Christmas excitement is once more alive and well, and I’m not even going to apologise for the explosion of snowflakes, Christmas trees, candy cane hearts, and snow men on this page. The fairy lights are up and the baking has begun.

Although I’m generally very much against fussy recipes, for some reason most of the Christmas cookie recipes I grew up with, and HAVE to make each year because I love them, are all a bit finicky. But a few weeks back I stumbled across the easiest, and no less delicious for it, Christmas cookie recipe. It’s even versatile. It’s most definitely going to be part of the annual Christmas cookie baking bonanza, and I may or may not have eaten a few dozen of them already.

These super moorish little thumbprint cookies are kind of like a shortbread cookie, but a little lighter (because of the baking soda), tender and crunchy at the same time, with a lovely little jammy centre 🙂 I used raspberry jam, and it was perfect, these cookies definitely need a slightly sour, or tart, sort of jam I think. I’m also going to try apricot, and maybe also some lemon curd. I think these would be killer with homemade lemon curd.

The first time I made this cookie dough I only made the thumbprint cookies, but the texture of the cookie made me think the dough would also be perfect for Danish jødekager (‘jødekager’, which translates as Jewish cakes, purportedly got their name because they resembled a type of cookie/biscuit that was traditionally sold in Jewish bakeries and shops in Copenhagen a few hundred years back), a crispy little cookie with cinnamon sugar and chopped almonds on top. I make these every year, each time using a different recipe because I can never find one I’m completely satisfied with. Until now, that is 🙂 I made some last year that I thought were perfectly lovely, but these are so much better, and so much quicker to make since there’s no faffing about with rolling pins and cookie cutters (even if I LOVE my cookie cutters – and my friend recently gave me a dinosaur-shaped one that I have yet to use!). I brought them to the office glühwein (or ‘gløgg’, in Danish) party this Thursday, and they all disappeared even though the table was almost completely covered in Christmas goodies, and I ended up taking about half of the thumbprint cookies back home with me (not a problem, they have now vanished). I think these would also make for really lovely snickerdoodles, were they to be rolled entirely in cinnamon sugar, and flattened slightly less than you would to make the jødekage-variation.

To make the jødekager, follow the instructions beneath the thumbrint cookie recipe. To make both, use half of the dough for the thumbprint cookies, and half for the jødekager (or however you want to split it, should you want to make both variations).

❄Thumbprint Christmas Cookies❄
Adapted slightly from Epicurious – makes about 4 dozen little cookies

  • 225 (1 cup/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 150 g (3/4 cup) sugar
  • 310 g (2 1/2 cups) flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • about 1/2 cup/120 ml jam
  • Icing sugar for dusting (optional)

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together on medium until nice and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract, beating for another minute or so.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda (I don’t always have the patience for sifting, and whisking the ingredients together with a hand whisk usually means it’s ok to skip this step).

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing with a silicone spatula until everything is just combined. I use my hands to press it together at the end.

Ideally, cover the dough and let it sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. I didn’t do this for the first batch though, and they were fine.

Roll little 1½ cm / ½-inch balls of dough between your hands, and distribute evenly on a non-stick baking tray, leaving at least a few cm between the cookies. Don’t make them too big, as they will expand slightly, and the bigger they are, the more they’ll spread out. You want it somewhere around the size of an unshelled hazelnut, if that makes sense! The original recipe calls for them to be a little bit bigger, about twice the size of mine, but I prefer them smaller, as I find that the bigger ones expand too much and make for a less satisfying cookie-to-jam ratio.

Press a nice, deep indentation into each cookie – I find it easiest to use my pinkie or ring finger, holding the cookie steady between the thumb and index fingers with one hand, and pressing down into the cookie with the pinkie finger of the other hand, giving it a little wiggle to gently expand the hole. Scoop about 1/4 tsp of jam into each ‘thumbprint’, just enough so that it peaks out from the indentation.

Bake for about 10 minutes at 175°C/350°F, taking them out when the edges begin to brown a bit. Let cool on the baking sheet for about 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. While one baking sheet is cooling, roll more little cookies out, place them onto a second baking sheet, make the thumbprint/fill with jam, and bake. Repeat this rotation about 4-5 times, until you run out of dough, each time letting the baking sheet cool before you place the fresh batch of unbaked cookies on it.

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Dust lightly with icing sugar, if desired 🙂 keep the cookies in a cookie tin, separated by layers of baking parchment.

Jødekager

  • One/one half portion of the cookie dough above
  • Cinnamon sugar (I just mix unprocessed cane sugar with ground cinnamon in a cup, I don’t really measure!)
  • 25 g whole almonds, blanched and chopped roughly

Blanch the almonds: pour boiling water over them in a small bowl, cover them, and leave them for about 10 minutes, whilst the skins loosen. Then pour out the hot water, and squeeze the almonds out of their skins. Chop chop chop them up roughly.

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Shape the cookie dough into little balls, about the size of an unshelled hazelnut/1-1½ cm in diameter. Place them on an ungreased, non-slip cookie sheet. Press the cookies flat with the ball of your hand, so they’re about 2-3 mm thick. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top in a sort of stripe through the middle, then press a few bits of almond on top. Bake for about 9 minutes 175°C/350°F, until they only just begin to brown around the edges. Let cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

The thumbprint cookies keep for a bit more than a week, but are best the first two days, after which they tend to get a bit stale and the jam loses it’s glossy sparkle. I’m thinking I may try to make them thinner, and coat the thumbprint in egg wash next time, this might allow for the cookies to keep for a bit longer without going stale (the thickness of the cookie, along with the moistness of the jam means that the cookie loses it’s ‘crunch’ after a few days).

I suspect the jødekager keep for much longer, since they’re crispier and don’t have the jam moistness ‘issue’. But I will report back 🙂

FYI – this dough is actually best used at room temperature, or it ‘cracks’ around the edges when you smush it down. If your dough is fridge-cold and you don’t have time to let it sit, I would roll it out into a log, and cut it as finely as possible, with a sharp, thin knife (for the jødekager, that is, for the thumbprint cookies it’s not a huge problem as you don’t need to flatten them quite as much). The dough will keep in the fridge for several days, but is easiest to work with on the day it’s made (and since it’s so quick to make, this isn’t really an issue, in my mind 🙂 ).

I’m also thinking of making these with nutella or something similar. Or maybe a dark chocolate variety, although they’d lack the chewiness of the jam, once cooked. Ooh, and I also think a tart cherry jam would be really lovely with these!

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