Dec 30, 2014

Bûche de Noël or Christmas Yule Log

One of the most traditional Christmas desserts is the Bûche de Noël cake or Yule Log. It looks intimidating and hard to make, but it couldn't be any simpler. Essentially, it's just making a roll, just like a jelly roll, filling it with butter based cream, and decorating it with the same. The look of the "wood" is so simply achieved just with a fork, and the roll itself.
You can play with the recipe, make it chocolate or not, fill it with any cream you prefer, as long as it still looks like a log. Meringue mushrooms, powdered sugar, and some pine tree branches added to the overall look of a log in winter, and it's all so easy to do.
My Yule Log turned out so delicious, I just gotta share how I created it.
Bûche de Noël or Christmas Yule Log
Chocolate Genoise Sheet (recipe from Food Network):
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • Pinch salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cake flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup alkalized (Dutch process) cocoa
  • Special equipment: 10 by 15-inch jelly-roll pan, buttered and lined with buttered parchment
    Set rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
    Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.
    Whisk the eggs, yolks, salt, and sugar together in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Place over the pan of simmering water and whisk gently until the mixture is just lukewarm, about 100 degrees (test with your finger). Attach the bowl to the mixer and with the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is cooled (touch the outside of the bowl to tell) and tripled in volume.
    While the eggs are whipping, stir together the flour, cornstarch, and cocoa.
    Sift 1/3 of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture, making sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the flour mixture from accumulating there and making lumps. Repeat with another 1/3 of the flour mixture and finally with the remainder.
    Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake the genoise for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until well risen, deep and firm to the touch. (Make sure the cake doesn't overbake and become too dry, or it will be hard to roll.)
    Use a small paring knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Invert the cake onto a rack and let the cake cool right side up on the paper. Remove the paper when the cake is cool.
    Storage: Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several days, or double-wrap and freeze for up to a month.

    My note: I have skipped whisking over simmering water. Just make sure you eggs and all the ingredients are room temperature.  My sheet turned out perfect.
    My Tip: I sprinkle fresh squeezed orange juice of one whole orange all over the cake sheet. It really wakes up the cake, and gives it the special flavor, you will love!

    Vanilla cream:
    700 ml milk
    2 eggs
    1 package vanilla pudding ( the cooking kind)
    2 tbs flour
    2 tsp vanilla sugar
    1 cup sugar (or more if you like the cream to be sweeter)
    1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature. Can add more butter for a bit creamier feel and taste, but for me 1 stick is enough.
    1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

    Mix eggs, sugar, vanilla sugar, pudding, and flour with a little bit of milk (about 100 ml taken from the 700 ml). Mix it really well with a hand held mixer. Put rest of the milk in medium saucepan and let it boil. When it reaches boiling point reduce heat to medium and gradually, but not too slow add the pudding/egg mixture in. Mix constantly, and cook for a minute, until it's thick, and transfer into a glass bowl. Cover with saran wrap and let cool down to room temperature. It will get really thick, but no worries. Mix in room temperature butter, and mix it well.

    Tip: While the cream cools it might develop "skin" on top, remove that by scraping it off with a teaspoon, otherwise you'll have lumps in your finished cream.

    To assemble:

    Spread the cream over the cake sheet, but reserve about 1/4-1/3 of the cream for the outside of the log. Add 1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (melted in a microwave) to the reserved cream, and that's your cream for outside of the cake.

    Cut the finished log diagonally, twice, and put those pieces on the sides of the long piece to get that piece of wood with branches look. Spread chocolate cream over the log generously, leaving the cuts exposed, because that's the ridges in the wood.

    Using a fork, create lines, and not to even, also creating round ridges in few spots, for a more authentic wood look. Just look at my photo.

    Finish the look with meringue mushrooms just before serving because if you put them on the sides of the cake a night before, or any long time, they will soak in the moisture and sag. Add a tiny pine tree branch, but remember to wrap the edge with foil, if you use the real pine tree branch, because it is sticky and with strong pine scent, you don't want that touching the cake. So, some foil over the cut will do. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving, and watch your guest be amazed.

    Meringue mushrooms are super easy to make. I have used this recipe, from Joy of Baking.

    Cake was absolutely delicious, and beautiful on my Holiday table!

    Nov 20, 2014

    Eclair Cake

    Eclair Cake

          For the upcoming Holidays don't forget about this simple, crowd pleasing cake.
          So easy to make, and so delicious!
          I love baking from scratch, but this cake really is a great choice when you
          don't have enough time, but still want to serve something everyone will love.

              Éclair Cake

            2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
            1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
            3 cups milk
            1 (16 ounce) package graham cracker squares

            1 (16 ounce) package prepared chocolate frosting 

           *Instead of chocolate frosting I have used 100g milk chocolate with 2 tbs oil,
             melted slowly on low heat. 
           *If using chocolate instead of chocolate frosting, remember to let the cake sit 15-20 min 
            before serving and cut with a sharp knife which you heat by putting it under running hot water. 

    In a medium bowl, thoroughly blend the pudding mix, whipped topping, and milk.
    Arrange a single layer of graham cracker squares in the bottom of a 13x9 inch baking pan. Evenly spread half of the pudding mixture over the crackers. Top with another layer of crackers and the remaining pudding mixture. Top with a final layer of graham crackers.
    Spread the frosting over the whole cake up to the edges of the pan. Cover, and chill at least 4 hours before serving.

    Recipe from

    Eclair Cake

    Nov 9, 2014

    Denmar Danish White Cheese & Zucchini Phyllo Pita

    Cheese and Zucchini Phyllo

    Denmar Danish White Cheese & Zucchini Phyllo Pita

    1 lb Denmar Danish White Cheese
    2 eggs
    2 small/medium zucchinis grated and drained
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 cup oil mixed with 5tbsp hot (not too hot) water

    Also need:
    egg wash (1 egg 2 tbsp water)

    Preheat oven to 450 F. Crumble two Danish White Cheese blocks with a fork until resembles crumbled feta. Scramble two eggs and mix in with the cheese. Add salt and zucchini.

    Mix water and oil in a small bowl, this will be phyllo wash. Oil bottom of the pan, place one sheet of phyllo with excess edges going over. Sprinkle generously but don't over soak with oil/water mixture, then place another phyllo sheet over, sprinkle again, and spread a layer of the filling. Repeat until you have 3 layers of cheese zucchini filling, and then top it with another two layers of phyllo sheets. Cut away the excess edges, and tuck the edges in nicely.

    Ideally this would be better with homemade phyllo, but sometimes you just don't have the time :)
    Oil the top lightly but evenly, especially the edges. With a sharp knife cut into squares and bake until golden brown. It will rise a little. At the very end brush with egg wash and bake another 3-5 minutes. Take out of the oven, cover lightly and let it set for 5-10 minutes before serving.

    Cheese and Zucchini Phyllo

    Oct 7, 2014

    Cheat Ravioli (with wonton wrappers)

    Love all things simple. Who doesn't? Not much time to cook and experiment lately, so I love quick recipes that are still at least semi-homemade :)
    1 medium bag of spinach
    3-4 cloves of garlic
    1/2 cup ricotta cheese
    1/4 cup Parmesan/Romano grated cheese mix
    salt and pepper to taste
    (no need for exact measurements, just kind of off hand)
     I sautéed spinach (just until wilted), and drained it well. Then processed it in a food processor with remaining ingredients, just few spins ;)
    That's it!
    To assemble, brush the edges of wonton wrappers with water, place a little less than teaspoon of filling in center, and connect opposite corners. Using a fork secure the edges. Boil like any other pasta, until al dente and serve with your favorite sauce.
    I don't have an after picture because it was late for pictures at dinner time. Perhaps next time I make them on a weekend and update this post, because I sure am making them again.

    Jul 17, 2014

    Lamington Cake Pops

    Lamington cake pops

    Well, my family and friends love lamingtons, so I thought about making them into cake pops. Sure enough, people have already done it!! Well, great idea, indeed! Love 'em!
    To make:
    One recipe sponge cake, or your favorite sponge cake recipe.
    Chocolate candy melt
    Any kind of pudding, cream, frosting or whatever you like to combine the crumbs. I have used Dr.Oetker strawberry pudding made with about 1/3 cup less milk so it's thicker.
    Desiccated coconut
    Cool the cake, remove crust, and crumble it with your hands. Add pudding, or whatever you like to make a mixture that can be formed easily. Form balls and put a stick in each, dip them in chocolate candy melt, and then in coconut. Cool in fridge, and serve. Easy! :)

    Jul 16, 2014

    Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream

    Chocolate Cupcakes

    Chocolate sour cream cupcake batter
    Recipe adapted from Cupcakes! By Elinor Klivans
    This batter produces a light, moist dark chocolate cupcake. As all good basic chocolate cupcakes should, these have flat tops, perfect for slathering with creamy fudge frosting They can also be swirled with a mound of marshmallow-like frosting, covered with peppermint icing, or filled with a generous amount of chocolate mousse.
    Yield: Makes enough batter for 18 regular cupcakes, 12 big-top cupcakes, 12 extra-large cupcakes, or 60 mini-cupcakes
    Prep time: About 10 Minutes


    • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
    • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
    • ½ teaspoon baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon baking soda
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1¼ cups sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • ½ cup sour cream
    • ½ cup water


    Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl or the top of a double boiler and place it over, but not touching, a saucepan of barely simmering water (or the bottom of the double boiler). Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from the water and set aside to cool slightly.
    Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
    In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until smoothly blended and creamy, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. On low speed, mix in the melted chocolate. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each is blended into the batter. Add the vanilla and beat until the mixture looks creamy and the color has lightened slightly, about 1 minute. Mix in the sour cream until no white streaks remain. On low speed, add half of the flour mixture, mixing just to incorporate it. Mix in the water. Mix in the remaining flour mixture until it is incorporated and the batter looks smooth. The batter is ready to bake, or for additions such as nuts, fruit, chocolate chips, or other flavorings.
    * Baking temperature and times vary by oven, so make sure you don't over bake.
    I baked mine at 375 F for about 20 min. I checked them about 13 min into baking with a toothpick.
    For the cream I used one of my favorites, from Paganini cake recipe.
    Chocolate Cream:5 egg yolks, and 1 whole egg
    50 g/1.75 oz dark chocolate
    150g/ 5.25 oz sugar
    250g/ about 9 oz butter or margarine, unsalted

    Mix egg yolks, egg, and sugar until nicely incorporated, and then cook, with chocolate, in a double boiler. Cool down completely, and then add butter, or margarine cut into thin slices, and mix until smooth. Let it sit in the fridge until needed.

    Great with morning coffee too :)

    Apr 21, 2014

    New York Cheesecake

    If I was going to try a cheesecake, I wanted the New York one, but without the travel. I googled for recipe, and was smitten with the pictures by Smitten Kitchen, and knew it must be awesome, and yes, yes it is!

    New York Cheesecake

    I have followed the recipe religiously, made no changes, and it was an amazing successful result, did not crack AT ALL! Try this cheesecake for yourself. You will love it, and it is rather simple. Enjoy!

    New York Cheesecake

    Baklava with semolina flour

    I have tried many different versions of baklava, but I have completely fallen in love with this one. Filling with semolina flour made it more like a mix between traditional baklava and a soaked biscuit.
    It's just awesome! Keep in mind that you don't have to make it too sweet, you can always adjust the syrup to your liking by reducing the sugar.


    Recipe adapted from Lorena at Coolinarika. Delicious, I will be making this again for sure.
    Thank you!

    Baklava with semolina flour

    1 package phyllo dough
    some oil to brush

    4 eggs                                                                                                                                                                                        
    7 tbs sugar
    7 tbs semolina flour                                                                                         
    1 stick plus 1 tbs of butter room temp.                                                                                         
    1 dcl milk                                                                                           
    200 gr ground walnuts
    3 1/2 cups sugar
    4 cups water
    juice of one lemon (optional)
    I have added 2 tsp vanilla sugar (optional)
    Preheat oven to 400 F.
    lightly grease 9x13 pan with butter or oil.
    Mix eggs with sugar, add butter, semolina flour, and milk, mix well then add walnuts.
    Lay out one phyllo sheet, and lightly brush with oil all over, then place another sheet over it and brush again. Spread filling over, not to thick, and then roll it up. Place in pan, trip if ne4eded to fit.
    In original recipe it says to cut it into squares, but I have done that in the end when all rolls where lined in the pan.
    So, repeat this process until you have filled the pan. Now cut your rolls so you get squares. Bake until golden brown on top. Boil water and sugar right about when baklava is done, so you can pour hot syrup over hot baklava. Cool to room temperature, then let it chill in the refrigerator until nice and cold before serving. You can put thin lemon slices over the top. Enjoy.

    Bear claws - photo recipe


    I have a thing for old recipes, old world style food. The kind of food that goes and on, and I can't imagine special occasions without something traditional, and unchanged. These cookies are kind of like vanilla crescents, melt away in your mouth, and can't stop with one.

    Perfect with coffee or tea time, or any time.


    Best chocolate cake ever!

    It's been more than a while, but though I have been absent from blogosphere, I haven't been absent in my tiny kitchen. I would like to make a comeback, and what better way than with raising awareness to this awesome cake by Gail Watson of A Stack of Dishes.

    Chocolate Cake

    Moist, rich, and of course delicious! I have tried this cake last year sometime, and it's become our favorite, instantly! Must try. You can find the recipe here.