Oatmeal cookies for lazy days and lazy me

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Lazy me sometimes craves cookies. But she can’t be bothered with chocolate chip cookies or anything with nuts. It’s too much work to chop  chocolate or even chop and toast nuts. But do you know which cookies don’t require any extra work? Oatmeal cookies! You weigh the ingredients, mix them together and portion the dough. And put the cookies into the oven. So simple that even lazy me manages.

The original recipe is from Pioneer Woman, I love the ways she presents her recipes. Very picture heavy, just up my alley! She calls the cookies brown sugar oatmeal cookies but since I don’t use brown sugar I just call them oatmeal cookies. Because of the white sugar I imagine that my cookies are very different in texture: White sugar results in crispy cookies whereas brown sugar leads to chewy ones. I like crispy cookies so I’ll stick to white sugar. These cookies are light and crispy, lightly sweet which means that I can eat the whole tin in one go.

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Oatmeal cookies

Makes about 55: Directions:
  • 120 g butter
  • 200 g white sugar
  • 1 Tbs vanilla sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 90 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 150 g rolled oats

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (fan).
  2. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Mix in the egg.
  4. Fold in flour, salt and baking soda.
  5. Fold in rolled oats.
  6. Portion the dough and bake for about 12 min till golden.

 

A sunny reunion

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After over three  months of silence I’m back bearing a recipe as apology. Life hasn’t been really taxing but somehow it still drained me of all my creative juices. I felt like I was suffocating and holding still just made it worse. So I just marched on like a soldier and now I can finally  take a deep breath.

Pavlova is one of those desserts that impress. The marshmallowy meringue base is covered with whipped cream and studded with gorgeous fruit that gleam in the sun like precious stones. It definitely stands out among the obligatory cupcakes and chocolate cakes. Not only visually but also tastewise. The sweet sweet meringue is reigned in by tart fruit and the cream adds richness and a cooling sensation. A composition that makes your taste buds sing. And which will earn quite a few appreciative looks and compliments!

Although pavlova is a feast not only for the eyes it’s dead simple to make. The trickiest part is separating the eggs neatly since a trace of yolk in your egg whites will ruin your meringue. So just make sure that there isn’t any yolk. And if there is, just take a spoon and remove it. No time to panic!

Pavlova

Ingredients (makes 4 disks of 10 cm diameter):

  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 100 g white sugar
  • 250 g cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar
  • 2 tsp icing sugar
  • tart fruits like kiwi, oranges, berries

 

 

 

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
  2. Mix cornstarch and vinegar.
  3. In a separate bow, add salt to the egg whites and whisk until soft peaks form.
  4. Add one tablespoon of sugar the egg whites and whisk. Add a bit of the cornstarch mixture and whisk. Repeat until all sugar and cornstarch paste is added to the egg whites.
  5. Beat the egg whites until they are thick and glossy. When rubbing between your fingers no sugar crystals should be detected.
  6. On a baking tray lined with parchment paper portion the egg whites into four disks, smoothing the top.
  7. Push the baking tray into the fully hot oven and switch off the oven. Dry the meringue bases for about 30 min until they are dry to touch. Let them cool in the oven.
  8. Beat the heavy cream with vanilla sugar and icing sugar until stiff peaks form.
  9. Spread the whipped cream onto the meringue disks and top with fruit. Serve immediately.

 

Of failing in baking. Repeatedly.

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The recipe for Martha’s pistachio cupcakes with raspberries looked so promising. And boy, did they look pretty after they left the oven! The cupcakes were studded with magenta berries and chopped almonds. But did they taste as good as they looked? Sorry to disappoint, but no. I did like the tartness of the berries and the crunchiness of the almonds but the cupcake itself was dense and not light at all. I declared the recipe a miss and moved on to try new recipes.

Since I liked the combination of berries with almonds I decided to add them to my magdalenas. The result was okay but not outstanding. They were magdalenas with berries and almonds on top, that’s all. Remember when I wrote over muffins that were more than the sum of their parts? The math didn’t add up in this case.

Then I thought: Hey how about adding chocolate to the mix! Bad idea. The cupcakes turned dry and slightly bitter. I was at my wit’s end. It was time to admit defeat and to focus on brighter things. Like on the lemon squares that I baked last year around Easter! I should have known better. The lemons were somehow bitter which did no good to the lemon squares. But hope’s not lost yet! I recently got my hands on Fiona Cairn’s recipe book bake & decorate and got my eyes on some recipes. Keep your fingers crossed!

Candied almonds – bringing my sweet love from fair to home

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They look amazing, don’t they? So glossy and shiny and bronzed… I can’t resist them. I could happily munch them all day long (in fact, I did)! Sweet on the outside and nutty inside. What’s not to love? Candied almonds are usually sold on fairs and hard to get in actual stores. And even if you find them you’ll have to shell out at least 4,50 € for 200 g. How pricey! So let’s recap: They are hard to come by and pricey. Hmm, I only see one solution to this problem – we make them at home!

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup water (125 mL)
  • 1 cup sugar (200 g)
  • 2 cups almonds (400 g)
  1. Put all ingredients into a skillet, stir and bring it to a boil on high heat. Keep stirring.
  2. The water evaporates. Lower the heat, when nearly all the water is gone. Stir the almonds to coat them with the sugar syrup.
  3. When there’s no water left, the sugar recrystallizes. The almonds and the bottom of the skillet are covered in a sandy layer of sugar.
  4. Now it’s time to check the heat. You want it quite low. Watch the bottom of the skillet. When you see glossy patches appearing on the white layer of sugar, you’ve got it. That’s the sugar melting. Stir the almonds towards those patches.
  5. You want all sides of the almonds to touch the hot bottom of the skillet so that the sugar can melt. Stir, stir, stir. Stop, when the almonds are glossy.

A healthy frozen treat: Granita

PhotobucketBefore summer says goodbye I’m sharing my ultimate dessert for hot days with you: Granita. Now, I was always more into popsicles than ice cream. They come in such bright and happy colors, while the colors of ice cream tend to be more subdued. Adding to that, I prefer the fruity and clean taste of popsicles over the richness of ice cream. And popsicles have little to no fat.
PhotobucketBut then again popsicles don’t feel very elegant and grown up to me. They’re nice to have around when it’s just you and your friends in the afternoon but serving popsicles after dinner as dessert? Doesn’t strike me as classy. Enter granita, popsicle’s older sibling. Tiny ice crystals in the prettiest colors, served in a nice glass or bowl. The best part: They are as healthy as fruit juice because they are fruit juice! Plus, if you’re dealing with a food thief like I’m doing in my dorm, he will never steal your granita! He will go for the box of vanilla ice cream instead because he doesn’t know of the delectable gem you have hidden in your freezable Ikea container.
PhotobucketGranita

  • fruit juice or frozen fruit
  • a container for freezing
  • optional: sugar
  1. If using fruit juice: Pour the juice into the container. Don’t fill it to the rim since freezing increases the volume. If using frozen fruit: Heat it up in the microwave so that it becomes soft. Mash it with a fork into a paste and add sugar if you want. Pour into the container.
  2. Put the container into the freezer.
  3. After half to one hour stir and mash the mixture with a fork. You want to break up all the ice crystals that are forming. Repeat this step until the granita is very grainy and and the texture is similar to snow. Serve. You can also pop it into the freezer again. Just remember to let it sit on the counter to soften for a while before taking out a portion.

Melting cool chocolate pudding on my tongue

PhotobucketHere’s another dessert for those super hot summer days: Chocolate pudding. The chocolate flavor is quite intense when the pudding is at room temperature but less pronounced when cold. And nothing beats a pudding straight from the fridge. Like chocolate ice cream without being ice cream it melts on your tongue and leaves you with a smile.

PhotobucketThe recipe is taken from smittenkitchen.com, one of my favorite food blogs. As always I wanted to find ways to make the process more streamlined, sometimes it works and sometimes it’s just fail. I can’t help it, it’s the engineer inside me that wants to make things as easy and efficient as possible. In term of cooking, that means a minimum of dishes that needs to be washed and a minimum of steps to be done.

So I came up with this:

Instead of a double boiler or a water bath just stick to a pot. Combine all dry ingredients minus the chocolate in the pot and add a few tablespoons of milk to form a paste. Stir with a spatula and make sure there are no lumps of starch. If there are any, just crush them with the spatula. Now turn on the heat and constantly stir with the spatula, scrape along the sides and most importantly, the bottom. We want everything to be cooked at the same temperature. If you don’t do that, the pudding at the bottom will thicken and burn faster than the rest. When the pudding is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, toss the chocolate in and stir until the chocolate is melted and the pudding is thick enough for your liking.

Too hot to turn on the oven? Turn to panna cotta for dessert.

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During the summer heat it’s no good idea to turn on the oven. No need to add more heat. But that doesn’t stop me from getting my dessert.  No-bake desserts are the way to go – like panna cotta.  It’s a delicious treat with overripe fruit on side. The panna cotta is cool and lightly sweetened whereas the fruit bursts with sweetness and aroma.

Usually, panna cotta is made of cooked cream but cream is no pantry staple in my kitchen. At home the only reason to have cream in the fridge was baking. And since baking is a rare occasion, cream was also rare. So when I moved into the dorms I took that habit with me. On the other hand, my dorm mates live on that stuff. There’s no pasta without a cream based sauce. I mentally roll my eyes when this girl a couple doors next to me tells me that she’s on diet. While pouring tons of cream into her sauce. Or eating Nutella as dinner. Are you serious?

But yes, no cream in this panna cotta. But yes, milk instead. I think of milk as the more versatile ingredient: You drink it as it is (which I don’t, tastes gross), you can make yourself a cup of cocoa (which I do), you can use in desserts like pudding and panna cotta (which I obviously do) and lots of other things.

This recipe is pretty streamlined, the only point you have to watch out is the gelatine. In the original recipe from la.times.com it’s 1 tablespoon for 1 liter milk. I halved the recipe and it didn’t work, so I guess that their gelatine is stronger than mine. That’s why you may have to adjust the amount.

  • 500 mL milk
  • 1 tablespoon powdered gelatine
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  1. Sprinkle the gelatine on 400 mL milk in a microwave safe bow and set aside for 10 min.
  2. Mix the remaining milk with the vanilla sugar and refrigerate. 
  3. Take the bowl with the milk and gelatine and microwave it so that the gelatine dissolves completely. Alternatively, you can heat it up on the stove. Add sugar and salt.
  4. Now slowly add the warm mixture to the cold vanilla milk and stir.
  5. Pour the mixture into containers, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.