Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Gingerbread House(s)

This week is all about making gingerbread houses. I don't know what it is about gingerbread houses that makes them so appealing, whether it's because they're tasty,fun, gorgeous and edible. This year I'm making a few small ones, which I already tried a few years ago. I liked the way each house had it's own theme. And who wants to share? This is the first recipe I found when I made my first gingerbread house, when I was 5, and the recipe was fine, my architectural skills were not. this recipe comes form the food network channel, something I remember watching as a kid, although I never watched the episode where this recipe was featured.

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1&1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6&1/4 cup cake flour
  • 4 teaspoons ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
1. Cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. 
2. Add the eggs, one at a time beating until incorporated.
3. Add the vanilla extract and molasses, and mix until incorporated. 
4. Add the flour,baking soda,cinnamon,ginger,cloves and salt and combine until a dough forms.
5. Chill the dough until needed or at least 2 hours.

This is only the initial step, it's just making the dough, because really that only as far as I got. This weeks post is about all of it, the templates,baking, gluing, decorating and all the rest of it. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Worlds Best Christmas Cookies

 These are the worlds best Christmas cookies: They're flavorful, versatile, cheap,simple, and stay fresh for really long. This is my grandmothers recipe, and I have been eating them every Christmas for as long as I can remember. You can top them off with colorful sprinkles,chocolate sprinkles, plain or with icing. I made about a hundred little stars, with colorful sprinkles which are the best cookies ever, especially when put in little bags. Sadly I have the bad habit of writing recipoes down on little scraps of paper, so I can't really find it now ( or maybe i just don't feel like sharing my grandmothers best recipe?) but I'll be sure to post it soon. in case you were wondering what they looked like, because I haven't lost the pictures.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Don't go thinking this is a recipe for real German gingerbread, because it's not. This is a recipe for the German interpretation of Finnish gingerbread, it isn't the thick,almost cake like gingerbread covered in chocolate. It is still really delicious though, and it still rises up like the German gingerbread do. Since this recipe isn't for gingerbread men( and I don't  own a gingerbread man cookie cutter) I made heart shaped ones. I also use a straw to poke holes near the top of the hearts so they can be hung up on a Christmas tree, edible decorations are always the best, and you don't have to bother with storage and cleaning afterwards(apart from the possible crumbs) This is yet another recipe from one of my countless Christmas recipe books, this time I think it was 'Koestliche Weihnachtsbaeckerei'

Not German-Not Finnish Gingerbread

  • 250g (3/4 cup) honey
  • 250g (1&1/4 cup)  brown sugar
  • 150g (3/4 cup) butter 
  • 500g (4 cups) flour
  • 2 tablespoons gingerbread spice OR your favorite combination of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
  • 2 tablespoon dutch cocoa powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons rum
1. On medium heat melt together the honey,brown sugar and butter, let cool once sugar has melted.

2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour,spices,cocoa powder.
3. Mix together the flour and honey mixture, then add the egg, baking powder and rum.
4. Place the dough in an air tight container and let it rest overnight, at room temperature.
5. Pre-heat your oven to 180C/350F.
6. Roll out the dough as thin as you like-if you like thin crisp geinger bread, roll it out thin, if you like the thicker variety roll it out thicker. I roll mine about 4mm thick. Cut out using your favorite (or seasonal) cookie cutter
7. Bake f0r 15-17 minutes until lightly darkened around the edges. 

If you feel like it you can decorate them with royal icing and pipe initials,decoration or whatever else. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Spritz Christmas Cookies

These were my favorite cookies to have at my Aunt's house at Christmas time. I would search the entire cookie tin to find these, making sure I had actually found all the ones I could, and ate them all up. Spritz cookies actually means 'piped' and you make them using a piping bag and large star nozzle or cookie press. I own neither of the items so I just roll out small balls, and drizzle on some dark chocolate, which is a must. This recipe come from one of my countless Christmas cookie books, and I do believe this paricular recipe come from 'Himmlisches Weihnachtsbacken', although you'll be able to find the recipe in any ordinary german cookbook.

  • 100g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 150g flour
  • 100g cornflour
  • 40g almond flour
  • 3 tablespoons cream
Pre-heat your oven to 180C/350F
1. Cream together the butter,sugar,salt vanilla and egg-until light and fluffy.

2. Then add the cornflour and cream beating well until incorporated.
3.Finally add the flour and almond flour and beat until well incorporated.

4. using a piping bag and a large star tip, pipe wreath,'s' or finger shapes. 
5. Bake for 12-13 minutes until lightly golden around the edges. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Not your usual Christmas Cookies

These are christmas cookies...
Or so I think they should be, they are found in christmas cookie collecttion here in Germany, they are just a lot less common than say, the Vanille Girpferl. I think they have just as much of a right to be there as the Vanille Gipferl, andthey shouldn't be discriminated just because they have a little rum in them. Not all cookie were made for children, they don't all have to be super sweet and covered in sprinkle. The simple, tasty ones are just as good. And this recipe is as simple as it gets. By the way make these cookies small because rum makes them rise a bit.
Rum Cookies:

  • 60g butter
  • 50g powdered sugar
  • 40g flour
  • 60g cornflour
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) of rum
Pre-heat your oven to 180C/350F
1. Cream together the butter and sugar.

2. Add the egg, beat until well combined then add the flour,cornflour and rum.

3. Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.
4. Roll the dough into small balls and use a fork to even them out. 

Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown around the edges.
Give these cookies a try, they really deserve a chance.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Advent Cookies

Today is the first...
day of advent. I was thinking instead that I would have a different cookie everyday instead of having a chocolate. Mostly the chocolates in the advent calendars are all the same, but if you made a differen tocokie for each day of advent there would be some change. Since it's around christmas time anyway it's time to get cookie baking anyway. These are one of my favorite cookies, super nutty and crumbly on the inside, light and vanilly-sugary on the outside.

Vanille Gipferl
Adapted from Koestliche Weinachtsbaeckerei

  • 180g all purpose flour
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 100g ground hazelnuts
  • 70g sugar
  • 200g (1 cup/2 sticks) butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 egg
  • 5 packets vanilla sugar 
  • 50g powdered sugar
1. Combine the flour,ground nuts,sugar,butter and eggs until a dough forms.
2. Place the dough into the fridge for 30 minutes.
3. Cut the dough into equal sized pieces, then roll each piece into an individual log, the end smaller than the middle. 
4. Pre-heat your oven to 180C
5. Form the dough into a crescent shape, transfer onto a baking sheet then bake for 10-15 minutes. 

6. Place cookies on a cooling rack, and cover in powdered sugar and vanilla sugar.
 In cause you can't buy ground almonds or hazelnuts, you can just use your kitchen machine to grind them up, I did it this time and they had quite large chunks of nuts, which I didn't really like, so if you can you should try and get pre-ground nuts.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sweet Potato Waffles

Waffle Wednesday
Yes, I do love potatoes. Even in waffles, or pancakes, or cupcakes or cake, you name I'll eat it with Potatoes. Did you know that there are so many different varieties of potatoes that you can build a whole diet around it. There are odd shapes and colors that would open up to a whole new range of possibilities. I only have acces to a few kinds of 'yellow' poatoes, sweet potatoes and those small purplish colored ones. I actually find the purple oones a pain to peel, because they have so  many little bumps and crevasses. But since pumpkin waffles are made with pumpkin puree, which isn't really all that different of a texture compared to sweet potatoes puree, why not just use that instead? I heard/saw/found out that in the U.S. you sometimes eat your sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top. I tried they were good, but everyone else refuses to eat it insiting it is dessert. SO why not make waffle, that would be acceptable and may even be able to be seen as something other than a dessert. ( the sweet potato and marshmallow bit)  So here it is, my recipe:

Sweet Potato Waffles

  • 50g (1/4 cup) brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons conrstarch
  • 1 &1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 250ml (1 cup) milk
  • 1 cup sweet potato puree (cooked and drained Sweet Potato)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup mini-marshmallows
Pre-heat your Waffle Iron
1. Combine the sugar, cornstarch, flours,baking powder,mini marshmallows and cinnamon in a large bowl, in a second bowl combine milk,pumpkin puree,eggs yolks and butter. 
2. Seperate the eggs, then beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. 
3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, then fold in the egg whites.
Cook for 3-4 minutes, and be sure to grease your waffle iron really well.

 I have no picture to go with this because they were sooo good that they were gone before I even had a chance to take a pictue but I bet I'll be making it again. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Another attempt at Granola Bars

So after my first granola bar failure ( because all I got was something that resembled granola) I tried two recipes and they both turned out amazing. Except that one of the recipe was super soft ( more like a fusion of granola bars and banana bread- amazing combo) and the other was super crisp and crunchy, like a nature valley bar. The great thing about making them yourself is that you can add whatever you want: if you don't like raisins, don't put raisins, if you love walnuts add a load of walnuts! Either way you can do whatever you want with these two recipes, one actually requires some granola so you can use whatever  granola you like best, I used the same recipe as in the last 'granola bars' recipe. The oatmeal square recipe is one of my new favorites, it is unbelievably simple to make, and so versatile, the recipe comes from 'Cookies' by the cook's encylopedia's collection.
Oat Squares (Crispy Granola Bars)

  • 55g (4 tablespoons) butter
  • 1&1/2 tablespoons Molasses
  • 65g (1/3 cup) brown sugar
  • 90g (1 cup) rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup nuts,dried fruit, or anything else you feel like adding, about a small handful
Pre-heat your oven to 350F/180C
  1. Either in your microwave or in a pot on your stove, melt the butter,molasses and sugar. 
2.Add the oats and nuts or dried fruit of your choice. 

3.Put the mixture into a 8x8 inch tin, and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Once cool, cut into squares.

Banana Bread like Granola Bars:
(Adapted from Williams Sonoma's 'Kids Cookies')
  • 40g (1/3 cup) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1&1/3 cup granola (weight depends on your granola)
Pre-heat your oven to 350F/180C
    1. Mash the banana in a bowl, using a fork then add the brown sugar,oil,honey,egg white and vanilla an mix until they are thoroughly combined.           
     2. Beat in the flour, baking soda and cinnamon until thoroughly combined. 
    Fold in the granola, then pour the mixture into a 8x8 inch square baking pan.Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown After taking it out of the oven, let it cool then cut into 16 squares.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pumpkin Pie

I think I set a new World Record-
for the world's thinnest pumpkin pie. Not something exactly to be proud of and not something I was planning on making Thanksgiving. It happened through two fatal moments: 1 being that I wanted to half the recipe because we were only three people (thanksgiving isn't really celebrated here, it isn't even a holiday) 2 I wanted to use my new tart (it wasn't even a pie dish!) dish, which is a lot bigger than the one I planned on using in the first place, which was about half the size. So I don't know about getting in the World book of Records but it still tasted amazing (although I really can't remember the last time I had some real pumpkin pie.) It's pretty rare to find Pumpkin pie let alone pumpkin puree, and if you tell someone the pie, a dessert even, they give you the weirdest look ever. Like pumpkin really? Anyway I didn't really use a specific recipe, all I used was a simple recipe but changed the spices, because apart from the fact that they don't sell pumpkin pie mix, I think it's so unnecessary.
So here's what I used:

  • 100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • 15 ounces pumpkin puree
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
The recipe in itself is easy: just mix all the ingredients until well combined. Your supposed to pre-heat the oven to 425F/220C , then turn it down fifteen minutes after you put it in the oven, then bake ate 350F/180C for another 40 minutes. Turns out if you pie is really really thin like mine was, most of that time is completely unnecessary.

So really, I can't be expected to be able to make a good pumpkin pie, because I just can't remember the last time I had one. And it's not like I'll be running into any in Europe anyway. Still tasted delicious though- that's what counts right?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pain au Chocolat et Croissants

French Friday 
I have been meaning to make croissants for a while now, and I haven't been afraid of making them or anything, I just haven't had enough time (although really they don't take that long to make.) These did not turn out how I wanted them to, how they were supposed to, but in the beginning it looked like it was going pretty well- and it was! But then I proofed the croissants while I was making the pain au chocolat and baked them at the same time (cause I was stupid enough to use  my oven as a proofer) which means that the croissants had proofed so much that they fell in on themselves. I got this recipe from a youtuber called nunusciuciu : and I think the fact that mine went all wrong has more to do with me than the recipe.

  • 130g icing sugar
  • 100g butter+250 g
  • 500ml milk
  • 20g salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1kg flour+200g
  • 50g fresh yeast
  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
  1. Melt 100g of the butter, then let cool slightly
  2. In your mixer combine the melted butter,eggs,milk,sugar,salt and vanilla.
  3. Crumble in the fresh yeast and mix thoroughly.
  4. Then add the flour and mix until a dough forms.
  5.  Cover the bowl with clingfilm and let proof in a warm place.
  6. Combine 250g butter with 200g flour and place in the freezer.
  7. Roll out the frozen butter-flour mixture to a small rectangle.
  8. Roll out the dough to a rectangle about three times the size of the butter-flour square.
  9. Place the butter-flour square in the middle of the dough rectangle and fold the dough over(so it looks like and envolope.
  10. Roll it out to twice the size, then fold into three.
  11. Roll it out triple the size then roll into three again. Repeat.
  12. Roll out the dough to about 1cm, and cut lengthwise so you have long rectangles, then cut vertical so you have rectangles.
  13. You can now either leave it as a rectangle to make pain au chocolat or cut each rectangle in half diagonally so that it makes two triangles.
  14. Roll the triangles up from the wide end to make croissants. In the rectangle put a strip of chcolate on both ends of the rectangle and roll towards the middle until both meet. Place seam side down on the baking sheet.
  15. Let the shapes proof for 1-2 hours until risen.
  16. Bake at 180C/350F for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Potato Waffles

Waffle Wednesday
When I was a kid my grandmother used to make me bavarian potato pancakes. I loved them but we never had any at home but I loved their unique taste and then I started wondering if I could make them into waffles. The same way people keep changing cake recipe into cupcake recipes, to make them the same kind or a classic flavor just in cupcake version. So I decided to make Reiberdatschi (that's what the potato pancakes are called) as waffles, and they turned out amazing! I didn't even need a recipe because it's one of those recipes where you have a lot of free room, to add ingredients, make mistakes and it's the easiest thing to make. All you do is throw some potatoes,eggs,garlic, oinons and flour in a blender-and it's ready.
Reiberdatschi Waffles

  • 750g Potatoes
  • 1 onion (medium)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • pinch of salt
Pre-heat your Waffle iron
1.Peel and cut the potatoes into 1-inch squares.
2. Peel and cut the oinion and garlic.
3. Place the potaoes,oinion,garlic eggs,flour and salt in a blender and blend until completely combined. (it's doesn't have to be perfectly smooth)

4. Generously oil your waffle iron and add one cup of the mixture.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Vanilla Blue Oreos

So it's another monday and it happens to be my birthday too. I love birthday cakes but this year I didn't feel like having one ( I didn't want to make my own, and I didn't get one) and since I did want to make myself a homemade recipe and I love oreos - I just decided to make them. And let me tell you they are way better than the store bought kind, although they are not exactly the same thing. Since I was making them myself I could color them so I added some blue coloring and they turned out gorgeous. The first batch turned out way to fat so they look a lot more like whoopie pies than they do like oreos. I found this recipe at Handle the Heat, although I have the feeling that most oreo recipes originate back to Smitten Kitchen. 
Oreos (from Handle the Heat)
For the cookies:
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Pre-heat your oven to 375F
1. Cream together the butter and sugar until just combined. 
2. Add the egg, and mix until light and fluffy.
3. Then add the flour,baking soda,baking powder  and cocoa.
4. Form the dough into little balls, and then flatten them out well.
5. Bake for 7-8 minutes, then lay them on a wire rack to cool.
6. In a large bowl mix together the butter,sugar and vanilla. Tint it a pretty color too if you want. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cake Pops

I have heard of them, read about them, seen them but never tried any. Cake Pops. I was first super-happy about making them but the longer I was making them the weirder it felt. I made cupcakes instead of cake because I thought it would take less time to bake, although really it didn't. Then came the weird bit, uncasing all the cupcakes, crumbling them all up, making frosting (which was sane), and then mixing it all up into this mass of cake and frosting. When I finished that I just kind of just stared at the brown sticky lump in my bowl. After I got over the fact that I entirely destroyed a dozen cupcakes, and ten mushed it all together. Then I rolled them all into little spheres, stuck popsicles sticks into them and dipped them into dark chocolate. I used my favorite chocolate cake, and vanilla cupcake recipes. I only used half of each recipe.

Chocolate Cake-(from the back of a hershey's cocoa box)

  • 225g (2 cups) sugar
  • 165g (3/4 cup) cocoa powder
  • 1&1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1&1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • (1&3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 250ml (1 cup) milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs 
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) vegetable oil
  • 250ml (1 cup) boiling water
Pre-heat your oven to 350F/180C
  1. Sift the flour,cocoa,baking soda and powder,salt and sugar into a large bowl.
  2. Add the eggs,milk,oil,vanilla and whisk thouroughly until no lumps remain.
  3. Slowly add the boiling water and whisk until blended, don't worry if its really thin, it's supposed to be like that.
  4. Bake in a cupcake tin for 20-25 minutes.
Magnolia Bakery's Vanilla Cupcakes:
  • 225g (1&1/2 cups) self-rising flour
  • 200 (1&1/4 cups) all purpose flour
  • 200g (1 cup) butter
  • 450g (2 cups) sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 250ml (1 cup) milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pre-heat your oven to 350f/180C
1.  Cream together the butter and the sugar, then add the eggs, one at a time.

2. Then add the flours in thrre additions, alternating with the milk, then add the vanilla extract

3. Bake for 15 minutes until light brown.

Chocolate Buttercream
  • 100g (1/2 cup) butter
  • 200g ( about 2 cups) powdered sugar
  • 50g (1/3 cup) dark chocolate,melted and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons milk
Cream together the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, then add the melted chocolate.
Mix together until the buttercream and chocolate are completely blended, and no streaks remain. (although if you're making cake pops it doesn't matter too much)

 Vanilla Buttercream
  • 100g (1/2 cup)butter
  • 200g (about 2 cups) powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
Cream together the butter and sugar, then add the milk and vanilla extract.

How to make Cake Pops:

  1. Crumble the cupcakes into a bowl, but make sure to take off the liners. ( I use silicone, so that there's no wasting of paper,because they're not going anywhere)

2. Add the buttercream then mix together thouroughly, until it turns into one mixture.( no spots of just buttercream)
3. Then take spoonfuls of of the mixture and form into balls. 
4. Cool in your fridge for 30 minutes then poke popsicle sticks in the center of each cake ball. 5.Cool in you fridge for 30 minutes, while they are in the fridge melt the chocolate of your choice, then dip each cake pop in chocolate and sprinkle on colorful sprinkles. 

Since tomorrow is my birthday I thought it would be cute to use a cake pop (or ball because I took out the popsicle stick) instead of a slice of cake and stuck a candle in it. Nowadays anything with a birthday candle stuck in it, looks like a birthday cake, and the cake pop tasted just like a a slice of cake anyway.