Chocolate tart with caramelized pears

Very simple, classic chocolate tart. On the shortbread base – I used homemade pastry, it might be also cookie crumb base. Not many ingredients, easy to prepare. In classic recipes the filling is a mix of chocolate and whipping cream. I used coconut milk instead of dairy cream, which did not worse the taste nor texture but brought some benefits. The filling is lactose free, dairy free, vegan. And a little less in calories. But still delicious. Enjoy!

 

1 classic tart ø 10 inch

 

Ingredients for the base:

  • ½  cup (115 g) softened butter
  • 5 tablespoons icing sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 ¾  cups (270 g) all purpose flour

Filling:

  • 360 g dark semi-sweet chocolate (I used 54,5%)
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (280 ml) coconut milk
  • 1 ½ tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Topping:

  • 2 pears
  • 2-3 tablespoons golden brown sugar (Turbinado)

 

Shortbread base: in the bowl of a stand mixer place the softened butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in egg and cocoa powder, mix together. Gradually add flour still mixing on medium speed until the dough forms a ball (the sides of the bowl should be almost clean). The amount of flour you need could vary because of flour type. If the dough is still very soft and does not shape a ball add more flour, one tablespoon at the time. If it is very flaky and not elastic add cold water, one tablespoon at the time. When is ready, remove it from the bowl, wrap in a cling film and let cool in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F /180°C. Place the cooled pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll out into 1/5 inch thick piece. Fill pan with prepared pastry and press to place properly. Place the parchment paper over the base and weight the pastry with ceramic balls, peas, bean or another baking pan (empty). Bake blind for 15 minutes. Discard weight and bake for further 10 minutes. Cool.

Make filling: place the broken chocolate to the bowl. In a saucepan heat coconut milk and sugar until warm (not boil). Add cocoa powder, vanilla and salt and mix together. Pour over chocolate and let stand for 2-3 minutes. Then mix until smooth mixture. Pour over the cooled base and place to the fridge for several hours (better overnight).

Caramelized pears: preheat oven to 420°F (210°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle with sugar. Cut pears into thin slices and arrange on the sugar. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool. Before serving the tart decorate the top with pears. You may dust it with cocoa powder and/or shredded coconut.


 

Category: No-bake cakes.

Tags: coconut milk, chocolate, glutenfree, pear, vegan.

Sweet bread Easter cakes

In many European countries traditional Easter cake is sweet bread shaped tall or bundtcake like. For instance is called ‘baba’ in Poland or ‘kulitch’ in Russia or ‘potica’ in Slovenia. This is yeast dough richer than common babkas and stuffed with dried fruits or nuts. After baking the dough is very soft, delicate and cloudy like. Baking in pans gives the naked skinless surfaces easy to ice. I baked here something new – using vegetable cans I got the soft delicate cake ended with harder ‘head’ with skin and almonds on the top. Two in one. I used various sizes of cans so all my cakes are different. Two of them are stuffed with cranberries and orange zest and three with raisins and lemon zest. Using this batch below you may bake one big cake shaped as tall bundtcake. Enjoy!

 

1 big or few smaller

 

 Ingredients:

  • 5 teaspoons active yeast
  • 1 ¼ cups (300 ml) lukewarm milk
  • ½  cup + 1 tablespoon (120 g) butter
  • ¾ cup (150 g) sugar
  • 3 cups + 2 tablespoons  (500 g) bread flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 egg yolkes

Filling:

  • ½ cup raisins
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • zest of 1 orange

Top:

  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped almonds
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons egg whites

 

 

You may bake only one big cake with one preferred filling or few smaller all with one filling. In that case double ingredients of your preferred filling.

Make dough: in a medium bowl mix together yeast, ½ cup (100 ml) lukewarm milk and 1 tablespoon sugar. Let stand for 15 minutes until frothy. Heat the rest of milk with butter until melted. Cool slightly. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine flour, remaining sugar and salt. Add yeast mixture, egg yolks and the milk with butter. Mix on medium speed until dough is combined (10 minutes). The dough is too wet and will not become tight by mixing. Transfer it to a floured surface and knead by hands about 5-6 minutes until smooth and glossy. Once the dough is ready place it in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place for 1-1.5 hours until doubled in size.

In one bowl mix together cranberries and orange zest. In second bowl mix together raisins with lemon zest.

Place dough on a floured surface, divide into half and shape both by hands into flat rectangulars. Spread the one filling over one piece and second filling over the second piece. Start to knead the both dough (separately) until  fruits are evenly incorporated (about 10 minutes). Shape the both dough into balls, place in two oiled bowls, cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place for 1-1.5 hours until doubled in size.

Once risen divide the dough into as many pieces as cakes you want to get. Baking in vegetable cans wash them, grease with butter and line with parchment paper (bottom and sides). Fill each can (pan) with the dough to the 2/3 of capacity. Let stand in a warm place for 20 minutes to rest. They should rise until the top of cans. Mix the ingredients for top together and sprinkle cakes. Do not sprinkle if you bake one big bundt cake (it will turn upside down after baking).

Meanwhile preheat oven to 400°F (200°C) by fun forced mode or 430°F (220°C) by traditional oven mode. Bake for 20-25 minutes (depending on size) until the skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. One big cake requires about 40-45 minutes.

Remove the cake/s from cans or pans when warm but not hot. Cool on a wire rack.


 
 

Category: Yeast cakes.

Tags: cranberry, Easter, lemon, orange, raisins, yeast.

Truffle chocolate cheesecake

This is cheesecake with structure and texture truffle chocolates like. Very chocolate-y in this nice way. Thick, velvety mixture literally melts in your mouth. On the cookies with cocoa bottom, topped with the thin layer of chooclate ganache. Because it is Easter time I added the chocolate nest decoration on the top however it is not necessary. The cheesecake is delicious by itself. Must have for all chocolate and chocolates fans. Enjoy!

 

You should make this cheesecake a day before because it must spend the night in the fridge to become proper structure.

round spring pan 9 inch

 

 Base:

  • 170 g tea biscuits
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

 Cheese layer:

  • 500 g cream cheese
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • ½ cup (125 ml) whipping cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 5 ounces (150 g) dark chocolate semi –sweet (54,5%)
  • 5 ounces (150 g) very dark chocolate (70%)
  • 5 tablespoons dark rum

Top:

  • 2 ounces (50 g) dark chocolate semi – sweet (54,5%)
  • ¼ cup (50 ml) whipping cream

 

 

Make the base: process biscuits in the food processor until very fine (sand texture). Add cocoa powder and melted butter and mix until well incorporated. Line the bottom of a spring pan with parchment paper. Spoon the mixture evenly pressing lightly with a spoon. Let it cool in the fridge.

Cheesecake: melt both chocolates together in one bowl In a double boiler or microwave. Let it cool slightly but do not let set the mixture. In a bowl of a stand mixer beat together cream cheese, whipping cream and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add eggs, beat until combined. Add melted chocolate and rum, beat until combined.  

Cheesecake will be baked in water bath (bain-marie) so wrap the spring pan filled with biscuit base  in two pieces of aluminium foil. Spoon the cheese mixture over the biscuit base. Place the pan in a bigger pan filled with hot water to the half-way of spring pan sides. Place both pans together in hot oven (325°F) and bake for 1 hour. The cheesecake have to be set on its whole surface, if is not bake it a little longer. Once is baked remove from bigger water pan, waste the aluminium foil and place cheesecake in pan to the fridge for overnight.

Next day remove cheesecake from the pan and place on a cake stand. Make the top ganache: heat whipping cream until hot. Remove from the heat and add chocolate broken into pieces. Let stand for 5 minutes then stir until combined. Cool slightly then spread over the top of cheesecake.

The chocolate nest on the top I made of very dark chocolate 70% this way: I spooned to the piping bag melted and slightly cooled chocolate and piped straps over a bowl covered with plastic wrap shaping a nest like shape. After cooling 1-2 hours in the fridge gently remove the bowl and wrap.


 

 

 Category: Cheesecakes.

Tags: chocolate, Easter, glutenfree, rum.

Hot cross buns

Probably you know these typical Easter buns with cross on the top. In my recipe they are stuffed with soaked in dark rum raisins, cranberries and candid citrus peel. Cinnamon is essential of course. They are often baked in closed pan what gives one big shape of them and quite square look. I decided to save their round shapes however they are very close one by one. The cross on the top and transparent glaze are present too. Enjoy on the Easter breakfast or any other day!

 

15 buns

 

 Ingredients:

  • 5 teaspoons active yeast
  • 1 ¼ cups (300 ml) lukewarm milk
  • ¼ cup (50 g) butter
  • 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar
  • 2 cups (320 g) bread flour
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (180 g) whole wheat bread flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 75 g raisins
  • 75 g dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons candid peel
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup dark rum

Flour paste:

  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 1/3 cup water

Glaze:

  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon gelatine
  • 1 tablespoon water

 

 

Place raisins in a bowl and pour the rum over until covered. Set aside for 1 hour.

Make dough: in a medium bowl mix together yeast, ½ cup (100 ml) lukewarm milk and 1 tablespoon sugar. Let stand for 15 minutes until frothy. Heat the rest of milk with butter until melted. Cool slightly. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine both flours, remaining sugar and salt. Add yeast mixture, egg and the milk with butter. Mix on medium speed until dough is combined (6-8 minutes). The dough is too wet and will not become tight by mixing. Transfer it to a floured surface and knead by hands about 5-6 minutes until smooth and glossy. Once the dough is ready place it in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place for 1-1.5 hours until doubled in size.

Drain raisins. Add to them cranberry, candid peel, lemon zest and cinnamon. Mix together.

Place dough on a floured surface and shape by hands into flat rectangular. Spread the filling over and start to knead the dough until  all is evenly incorporated (about 10 minutes). Shape the dough into ball, place it in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place for 1-1.5 hours until doubled in size.

Once risen divide the dough into 15 pieces (I used the weight to divide evenly). Shape each piece into a ball. Line the large baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the balls on the sheet leaving ½ inch (1 cm) free space around each. Let stand in a warm place for 30 minutes to rest.

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C) by fun forced mode or 430°F (220°C) by traditional oven mode.

Make flour paste: mix all ingredients until smooth. Spoon the paste to a piping bag ended with medium plain nozzle. Pipe the cross on the top of buns. Bake for 20-25 minutes until brown and sound hollow.

Make a glaze: mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Heat the bowl in a double boiler or microwave until mixture is liquid. Brush the top of buns immediately after baking. Cool on a wire rack.


 
 

Category: Yeast cakes.

Tags: cranberry, Easter, lemon, raisins, yeast.

Cassis lavender madeleines

Madeleines – these small French cookies shaped as shells recently landed here often. Why? They are easy in preparing, require only short baking and are tasty. Moreover – endless possibility of flavours inspires me to create new and new. Today version is lavender and black currant. In the place I live in currants are very hard to find so I used French currant liqueur Creme de Cassis. You may add currant juice instead of. Lavender takes over the taste however somewhere appears the currants flavour too. Enjoy!

 

20 pieces bigger madeleines or 30 standard sized

 

 Ingredients:

  • ½  cup + 1 teaspoon (120 g) butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) Creme de Cassis liqueur
  • ½  cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  •  ½ cup + 2 tablespoons (100 g) all purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons (60 g) almond flour
  • 1 ¼  teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 ½  tablespoons dried edible lavender

 

 

 

Melt the butter. Remove from the heat, add liqueur. Set aside.

In a bowl of a stand mixer beat together eggs, egg yolk and sugar until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). In separated bowl mix together flour, baking powder, salt and lavender. Add to egg mixture and mix with rubber spatula until combined. Stir in melted butter, mix with spatula. Place dough mixture into the fridge for overnight.  

Next day preheat oven to 380°F (190°C) – preferably on convection oven mode. Grease madeleine pan/s with melted butter and place to the freezer for 10 minutes. Then fill each hole with dough. Place the madeleines pan on the cookie sheet and put together on the upper oven shelf. Bake for 15 minutes (bigger and ticker madeleines) or 10 minutes (standard sized). They should be set and springy when touched in the center. Cool on a wire rack. Before serving you may pour icing over or dust with icing sugar.

 

 

Category: Cookies.

Tags: almonds, blackcurrant, lavender.