Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Chocolate Oreo Truffles

If I look outside the window now, I see a beautiful scenery of pure white snow, showered by the sun rays and little snowflakes falling down, glittering like diamond dust.

It is truly pretty! At times like this, I realize how I love to live here :)

All that inspired me to make these simple Chocolate Truffles, of course decorated with snow-shaped sugar sprinkles.


The base for these truffle is made the same way as the Cake Pops (recipe here), so basically with fresh creamy cheese, chocolate and Oreo cookies.

"Wonderful chocolate..."





Ingredients (about 20 small truffles):
  • about 90 g Oreo cookies
  • about 2 tablespoons fresh creamy cheese
  • 200 g dark chocolate
  • sugar sprinkles for decoration


Directions:
Remove the vanilla filling of the cookies and crush them in a blender or with your hands to very fine crumbles. Put them into a bowl and add the cheese, one spoonful at a time, mixing with your hands. The dough is ready when it feels like modelling clay, it doesn't have to be sticky.
Make small balls from the dough, place them on a plate covered with a sheet of oven parchment and leave them in the refrigerator for some hours.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a pot. Dip the balls quickly but carefully in the melted chocolate and place them on a sheet of oven parchment (perhaps using two of teaspoons to grab them more easily).
Decorate right away with sugar sprinkles and put them back in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. If you want, you can place them into pretty paper cups like I did :)


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tagliatelle Salmon and Ricotta

Ricotta (literally means "recooked") is a very popular cheese in Italy.
It's a fresh soft cheese and it's so popular because it's good (of course!), not too fat (13%) compared to other cheeses and can be used in a lot of different ways.

First it can be enjoyed as ... well... cheese! On the bread with ham or shrimps.
Secondly it is often used in baking. Ricotta is key the component of many Italian desserts such as cheesecakes and cannoli siciliani.

Lastly it is often used in savoury dishes like pasta, lasagne and cannelloni, ravioli and so on. In this recipe, I made a sauce for my tagliatelle using fresh ricotta cheese and salmon.





Ingredients (serves 4):
  • 400 gr tagliatelle pasta
  • 150-200 gr smoked salmon
  • 250 gr ricotta cheese
  • 1 onion
  • oil (rapeseed or olive oil)
  • salt & pepper
  • ½ glass of white wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley

Directions:
Put a pot of salted water on to boil. Slice onion and salmon in thin slices.
Saute the onion in a saucepan with oil over medium heat. When it becomes soft add the salmon and cook at medium flame for some minutes.
Pour the wine and let it evaporate, then add ricotta and 3 tablespoons of the boiling water for the pasta. Stir well so it becomes a soft cream, add salt and pepper up to taste.
Drop the pasta in the boiling water and cook until al dente.
Drain the pasta and pour it into the saucepan with the ricotta and salmon sauce, and stir well.
Serve with fresh chopped parsley on top.



Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ciambella with Lemon and Yogurt

Ciambella is a traditional Italian ring-shaped cake.
It's a wonderful cake that I love very much, tall and soft, perfect for breakfast dipped into caffelatte... Of course is lovely as dessert too!

I made a Ciambella with Lemon and Yogurt for my husband's birthday. Because it's not a proper birthday without a cake and it was really delicious!
The whole apartment was filled with a wonderful aroma of lemon mmmmhhh <3




HINT: The ciambella is good as it is, but you can make it even yummier coating the top with Nutella, zabaione cream, jam or glaze.

I'm using an instant baking yeast, very popular in Italy, that can be added directly to the dough. Feel free to substitute it with the yeast commonly used in your Country!


Ingredients:
  • 250 gr all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 200 gr brown sugar
  • 80 gr unsalted butter (melted)
  • 200 gr yogurt (I used vanilla yogurt)
  • 1 lemon (zest)
  • 1 tablespoon liquid honey
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 small bag of dried instant baking yeast
  • powdered sugar for decoration

Directions:
Wash the lemon and scrap the zest.
Whisk the eggs and the sugar together to soft cream. Add honey, salt and yogurt stirring well. Add then sifted flour and melted butter, slowly, always mixing. Finally add yeast and lemon zest, mix.
Grease a pie plate with butter and spread some flour on it.
Pour the mixture in the plate and bake in pre-heated oven at 170º C (338º F) for about 30-40 minutes. Check by inserting a toothpick in the middle, if it comes out clean, then the cake is ready.
Let it cool down and decorate with powdered sugar.




Saturday, January 11, 2014

Tarts with jam, raisins & almonds

I swear, it wasn't my intention to post another puff pastry recipe... but after Christmas there was a nice puff pastry sale in the small shop down the street and I just couldn't resist!
I bought many packs and now I got to use them!

I has some leftover jam and raisins so I decided to make something a bit more interesting than the usual Christmas Tarts (recipe can be found here).
I remember this recipe was originally in a local food magazine one or two years ago.



I decorated the tarts with little puff pastry shapes. They look very cute like this :)

HINT: Better use a kind of jam suitable for oven baking, so it won't liquefy that easily.

Ingredients (7 tarts):
  • 500 gr (4 sheets) frozen puff pastry
  • about 150 g jam (I used raspberry jam)
  • ½ dl raisins
  • 2 tablespoons of crushed almonds
  • 1 egg

Directions:
Crush the almonds finely and chop the raisins finely as well. Mix all together with the jam.
Take the frozen puff pastry sheets from the freezer, place them on a sheet of oven parchment and let them be at room temperature for about 15 minutes (or follow the package's instructions). Cut each pastry sheet into 2 squares.
Save one square for the decorations! With a small cutter, cut 7 shapes from this square.
With a sharp knife, make cuts along the sides of the squares without cutting the corners too. Make them a bout 1 cm from the outer border. This way the pastry rises all around and leave a nice "hole" in the middle for the jam.
Brush the sides of the pastries with lightly beaten egg. Place a teaspoon of jam in the middle of the tarts and a small shape that we cut previously on top of the jam.
Brush that too with the egg.
Bake at 225º C (437º F) for about 10-15 minutes, until the pastries have gotten a nice color.

 


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cake Pops!

Cake Pops have been on my to-do list for a loooooooong time. I've been seeing them almost EVERYWHERE: in magazines, in movies, in commercials, on all other blogs on the planet... it was about time to make my own! :)

If you live on Mars and still don't know what cake pops are, well... they are basically lollipops made with cake and coated in chocolate and sugar sprinkles. They are fun to make, to eat and to serve to guests! So what more perfect occasion to enjoy delicious Cake Pops than New Years Eve?



You can make cake pops with any cake, even the most simple ones! But since I'm one of the laziest persons on Earth, I didn't bake any cake... instead I used Oreo cookies :D
This way the process is even faster. I mixed the Oreo crumbles with some fresh creamy cheese.


HINT! If you can't find lollipop sticks in the stores you can use the grilling sticks instead, like I did. Just chop the pointy edges off and you're good to go :)

Ingredients (make about 12 golf ball size cake pops):
  • 175 g Oreo cookies
  • about 4 tablespoons fresh creamy cheese
  • 200 g chocolate (I used white chocolate)
  • sugar sprinkles for decoration
  • lollipop sticks or grilling sticks

Directions:
Remove the vanilla filling of the cookies and crush them in a blender or with your hands to very fine crumbles. Put them into a bowl and add the cheese, one spoonful at a time, mixing with your hands. The dough is ready when it feels like modelling clay, it doesn't have to be sticky.

Make small balls from the dough, place them on a plate covered with a sheet of oven parchment and leave them in the refrigerator for some hours (I left them over night).

Melt a couple of squares of chocolate in the microwave or in a pot, dip one edge of the sticks in the chocolate for about 2 cm and slide it carefully into the balls. It would be advisable to put the balls back in the fridge for a couple of more hours so the sticks will stay in place!

Melt the leftover chocolate and pour it into a tall and narrow glass or container. Hold the sticks upside down and dip the balls in the chocolate. Tap slightly on the hand that's holding the stick so the excess chocolate drips off. Decorate right away with colorful sugar sprinkles and place the cake pops in vertical position into a block of polystyrene (a container filled with sugar works as well to hold the sticks in place).

For a more crunchy taste, put the cake pops again in the refrigerator for a while before eating :)




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