Friday, May 31, 2013

Pink pepper caramel and chocolate ganache mini tarts, a perfect dessert!

An elegant and packed with flavor dessert, a must try

Spring is lingering here in Madrid, sometimes it feels we´re still in November and we´re less than 3 weeks away from summer! So instead of craving for ice-cream and sorbet, I am still in the mood for  chocolate and comforting food!

And as I became addicted to salted caramel, I decided to make a recipe involving my unshakable  addiction that is chocolate and combine it with my rather new one! You can find hundreds of recipes combining these ingredients but I took my time to develop something that it isn't entirely new but has a unique twist to it.
Pink pepper berries, not only look good but also taste great

Few weeks ago I purchased some lovely pink pepper, and they provided me with the twist I wanted for the recipe. The different elements of the recipe came together: spicy caramel that is complemented and softened with a creamy rich chocolate ganache all resting on a bed of buttery pastry dough.

For the dough you need: (enough for 4 small starts)
  • 75 g cold butter
  • 15 g  sugar (flavored with vanilla)
  • 15 g powdered sugar
  • 10 g ground and lightly toasted almonds
  • 140 g flour
  • dash of salt
  • Liquid (about 15 gr, you can either use cold water, milk or cream, I used cream)
The different components of the dessert

Combine all ingredients, but the liquid, in a food processor and mix for less than a minute, you can slowly add the liquid to the rest of ingredients and mix again, or transfer the mixture to a bowl and then slowly add the liquid, mixing (not kneading) until the dough forms a ball.
Flatten the dough into a disk shape, cover it with plastic film and let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 min.
Roll the dough to a 1/2 cm thick, put it in the tart molds and blind bake for 10 min (180) remove the weight you are using and then bake for an additional 8 to 10 min, or until edges are golden brown.
Add a twist to the ordinary chocolate tart
Pink pepper Caramel sauce: 
  • 50 g sugar
  • 10 g water
  • 20 g cold butter
  • 1/4 tsp fleur de sel (high quality flaky salt)
  • 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp pink pepper (if you wanted more spicy add one tsp)
  • 100 ml cream
I already explained in details the procedure you need to follow to prepared salted caramel in this post. However, you just need to add the pink peppers at the end, and leave them to infuse their flavor for at least 30 min.

For the chocolate ganache:
  • 90 g dark chocolate (60 %, higher if you really like the bitter chocolate taste)
  • 120 ml cream (35%)
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
Different flavors and textures in this special tart
Heat the cream until it simmers than pour over grated or chopped chocolate, stir until well combined and the chocolate well melted. Finally add the syrup which will give the ganache a beautiful shine. You can play around and add any other aroma you like or use small amounts of strong fruity liquors to add punch and taste to your ganache. 

Now that you have everything ready, fill the lower end of the tart of with the spicy salted caramel. Do not be tempted to add more caramel as the tart will be a bit too sweet. Put the tart shells in the fridge to allow the caramel to set. Once set, pour the ganache to the top of the tart, and this is it. Your tart is ready.Let the ganache set in the fridge and enjoy these tarts. 

The crumbly pie dough combined with the spicy and sweet caramel all topped with the creamy and chocolaty ganache make a perfect dessert. 
The different layers of the pie come together to make a perfect dessert

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Peanut butter and caramel sandwich cookies with nutella filling!

Cookie sandwiches, yum!!
I wanted to create a different recipe that combines some of my favorite sweet things, but I didn't want to  stress myself and stay kitchen bound for hours and hours. So I went into the kitchen  I opened the fridge, and voila, the idea came to my mind.  I saw my big nutella jar and I knew I needed to do something that uses said that luscious nutty chocolate cream.

So the train of thought led me to think of something I can sandwich nutella in between. The first thing that popped into my mind was to create a cookie sandwich with a nutella filling. I also wanted to have a more complex flavor so I opted for peanut butter cookies.

The first time I tried peanut butter I hated it and I couldn't understand why people would eat such a thing. Few years later, I tried peanut butter again and I don't know what happened, but I am officially addicted to peanut butter.  I always have a jar or two in the cupboard!

Nutella and salted caramel filled cookies
So finally I decided it will make these sandwiches, I got my scale, my food processor, prepared my ingredients and went on with the preparation. The result was just amazing and what was more amazing is how little effort it took to prepare.

Those cookies were perfect for the weather we have had the past few days, rainy and cold. These chewy yet crumbly cookies were so comforting with a hot cup of coffee, watching TV and hiding under the blanket!
Simply irresistible. 

What you need for about 20 cookies:
  • 40 g unsalted butter (cold)
  • 60 g peanut butter (I used smooth)
  • 30 g granulated white sugar
  • 100 g flour
  • 20 g caramel sauce
I had more than my fair share of cookie sandwiches!

Combine all ingredients except the caramel in your food processor and pulse until you have a rather sandy mixture (it takes less than a minute). If you take some of the dough and press it will come together. Now add the caramel and pulse again, the dough will come together, if not add some more caramel, but add a bit at a time as you don´t want a soggy dough!

Form the dough into a disk and let it rest for 30 min in the fridge.

Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it between two sheets of baking paper until it is about half cm or less in thickness. Using a round cutter, cut small circles. My circles were around 5 cm in diameter. Before baking the cookies, put them in a freezer to rest for 15 minutes, this way they will keep their shape.

Put the cookies on a baking tray lined with baking paper in a preheated oven (175C) and bake for about 10 minutes.

Now just spread your nutella, or some salted caramel sauce and enjoy! 
Served with a warm hot chocolate, it's the ultimate comfort!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Rice pudding: the vegan version

A variation of a classic recipe

In a previous post I had shared one of my favorite rice pudding  recipes, one I always had when I was a child. Just a couple of years ago, I started making a vegan version adding a different touch to this classic recipe.

As vegan and vegetarian diets become more popular, it's only natural to create dessert recipe that appeal to the people who adopt these diets. Though it's a health choice for many, it's a necessity for some who cannot for various reasons consume dairy products and the like. As for me, I'm a happy omnivorous person! However, I do consume more fruits and vegetables than meat and dairy products.
That´s why, from time to time, I like making recipes that have no eggs, dairy or animal products. These come really handy when I am feeling lazy but craving for a balanced and healthy sweet treat.

This recipe is divided into two parts: the first one consists of preparing the sauce that accompanies the pudding whereas the second is the pudding itself.

If you go through some of the recipes I shared so far you will notice my love for summer berries. Indeed I consume a lot of berries and I just can't get enough. They are delicious fresh and they are even better when baked or cooked.
Featured in this recipe are blueberries which have a fragrant and acidic flavor that is only enhanced with the addition of sugar or a sweetening agent. I will use blueberries to make the perfect sauce for the rice pudding.

Fresh or cooked, bluberries are tasty and good for you

So let´s start first with making the sauce:

  • 60 g bluberries
  • 20 g sugar (you can add more for extra sweetness)
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • Half vanilla pod
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)
The blueberry sauce, bursting with flavor!

Combine the blueberries with the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan and let them slowly simmer for about 8 to 10 min until the blueberries let their juice out. Before turning off the heat you can add some more berries to the sauce for more variation in texture  but this time I didn´t do so!

As for the rice you need: (for 1 serving)
  • 50 g of jasmine rice (or you can use any other kind but of course the cooking time will be different)
  • 150 g soy milk
  • 50 ml water
  • 15 g sugar and a dash of cinnamon
Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan, let them simmer on a moderate heat first, for few min, then let the rice cook slowly for about 30 min, don´t forget to stir every 3 or 4 min.

When the rice is ready, let it cool a bit.  Unlike the traditional non-vegan recipe, I enjoy it while it´s still warm, .
Mix some of the sauce with the rice. Sprinkle some toasted flaked almonds or coconuts on top, and dig in. Of course, add some more sauce as you eat. Bon appetit.   

A light, fresh and fruity dessert.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Osmaliyeh (عثملية): angel hair cake!

An exquisite dessert with great textures and flavors

This is one of these desserts that remind me of my sweet childhood years. It is usually served on special occasions or as after a great meal assembling the extended family members or special friends. Either way, it is always delightful!

The name ossmaliyeh, a bit hard to translate but it means ottoman girl or woman!

I couldn´t find any reference on how and where the recipe started, but I guess the name goes back to the era of the Ottman empire, where most of the Levant was under their control. The recipe is made of shredded phyllo dough known as kataifi, which it seems is of ottoman origins but now is widely used across the globe and in hundreds of ways!

Few ingredients are needed to succeed this delectable dessert

It is a simple recipe. You will need to buy the phyllo dough and you can can buy the ashtah fresh or you can make it following this recipe, It will take sometime but the result is worth the effort. I would suggest that you use heavy cream, cream cheese or mascarpone in case you can't find ashtah. This is not a filling I would be used to in this recipe, but you can prepare something similar to a fresh cheesecake filling.

What you need for this recipe: (enough for 4)

  • 200 g shredded phyllo or kataifi
  • 75 melted better
  • 20 g powdered sugar
  • Ground pistachios and rose jam for decoration
  • Simple syrup (I used this recipe, but instead of lemon peel I used half stick of cinnamon and halved the amount of the ingredients)
  • About a  cup of kachta or achta (I added a half teaspoon of rose water and another  half of orange blossom water to the cream)
Easy assembly with the filling and the dough

First start by fluffing the shredded phyllo as they come firmly packed, it´s very important to do so to have a crunchy but soft texture. Add the sugar, mix well then add the butter and mix until all the phyllo is covered with the butter.
Golden, crispy, sweet with a creamy heart.

Generously butter a 18 cm pan add half of the amount of the dough then press with another pan of the same size.  Put in a preheated oven (200 C) and bake for 5 min, remove the top pan and bake until golden, it will take between 10 to 15 min.

Repeat the same procedure with the remaining amount of the dough. Now you have two golden crunchy phyllo dough shells. 
You can also make a mini version.

Wait until the dough is cold before removing from pan, it might break if you do so while it´s still warm.

Assembling is very easy, place the first layer on the serving platter. Cover it with kachta (the amount you want to put is really up to your taste). Put the second layer over the kachta to cover it.

Finally, garnish with pistachios, rose jam and a small amount of kachta and serve with the syrup! Enjoy!