sábado, 27 de dezembro de 2008

Cheerful mango tarte tatin

This individual tarte tatins are really delicious and I love to eat and to make them. The use of mango in tatins has been spread all over the world recently and recipes of tatins with mangoes are everywhere. I am used to a recipe by Brazilian chef Carla Pernambuco but today I used a very simple recipe inspired by Bea from the blog La Tartine Gourmande. I like the recipes published by Bea because they are normally not very sweet, lighter and made for small portions for two and maximum four people.

Another simple recipe of mango tarte tatin was published by the The Mango Association an association of producers and importers of mangoes located in the UK.

The blog La Tartine Gourmande also has a very simple (if possible) recipe for puff pastry. I like to make pastries in general and I am quite good at making them, including puff pastry. My mother used to say that I have cold hands. I do have cold hands but I am not so sure that it can make any difference all the time. I trust more my small thin fingers. However, today, I used store bought puff pastry and it was a very bad decision. As I am used to make pastries at home when I decided to buy one it naturally means disappointment the result was beautiful, Per liked it, but the flavor was not the same. The pastry (from Sara Lee) tasted like, honestly, like plastic and was very rubbery. Unless you are the very practical type or hate to make pastries, don't use the ready made store bought pastries, they are not worth at all. I think the store bought pastry can actually ruin your recipe, at least I couldn't enjoy my tartelettes completely, but I ate two of them. The mangoes were ripe and very sweet what made these little tart tatins cheerful.

Individual Mango Tart Tatin
adapted from different sources

3 mangoes not very ripe but not green either
60 grams salted butter
80 grams sugar
Aound 250 grams of puff pastry
Zest of a lime (optional)
Coconut flour (optional)

Set the oven at 200C/375F. Slice the mangoes. In a sauce pan over medium heat melt butter. When butter is melted add sugar and let sugar melt. When sugar is melted add the sliced mangoes and let the fruit cook in the sugar until caramelized. It might take 5 to 10 minutes depending on the amount of fruits you are using.

After the fruit is caramelized transfer the pieces to the bottom of four ramekins or individual tart molds. Set a layer of fruit in each ramekin. Cut circles of puff pastry the same size as the bottom of the ramekin or molds you are using. Cover the fruit with the layer of puff pastry and bake the tarts for 10 minutes and after that reduce the heat to 180C/325F and bake for more 15 minutes until the pastry is cooked and slightly golden.

Remove from pan while still hot and serve it warm with a scope of vanilla ice cream. You can also sprinkle some lemon zest over the tarts. I like mine plain, with nothing but a cup of coffee.

Makes 4 individual tarte tatins

sábado, 20 de dezembro de 2008

Sense of place (4): honningkake, the Norwegian pain d'épices

Brazilians love pain d'épices, a bread which in English language countries is known as gingerbread. The French pain d'épices in Norwegian is called honningkake and in Danish honningkage. In Portuguese it is pão de mel meaning 'honey cake' exactly the same in Norwegian. The names may differ but the recipe remain very similar to the old Chinese recipe introduced in France, in the region of Dijon in the Middle Ages as is estimated. Basically a bread with a large amount of honey, brown sugar, flour, butter, zest of some citrus fruits, orange or lime, and spices such as cinnamon, ginger, gloves and muscat. The taste is fantastic and I love honningkake specially if they are covered in semisweet chocolate.

can be made as a cake or as cookies. The dough is easy to make and fantastic to work with holding any form. I made them into stars but I like the little round shape as the one I made for myself and ate immediately after the chocolate was dry. After baked the honningkake must be kept in air tight containers to keep their softness.

(my favorite pain d'épices has a round layout)

'Honningkake': The Norwegian chocolate covered pain d'epices

150 grams honey
150 grams brown sugar
125 grams butter
2 eggs
500 grams wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon glove (opcional)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (opcional)
1/2 teaspoon gingerbread (opcional)
Zest of one lime (you can substitute for orange zest if you like)

For the chocolate frosting
100 grams semisweet chocolate (minimum 57% cocoa solids)

In a pan over medium heat melt honey, sugar and butter. Remove from heat and let cool. Beat the eggs and add to the cool mixture together with the lime zests. Mix flour, baking soda and spices and add the flour mixture to the honey mixture in batches. After adding the final batch mix the dough with hands. If the dough is too sticky you can add a couple of spoons of flour more. Roll the dough in a plastic film and put in the refrigerator for at least on hour. Heat the oven at 180C/350F. Over a clean surface drizzled with flour open the dough into 1 cm thick and cut the stars (or any other format you like). Transfer the cookies to a pan lined with parchment paper and bake them for 10 minutes. Makes 24 stars.

sexta-feira, 19 de dezembro de 2008

Sense of place (3): almond meltaways

It was quite difficult to finish these cookies and make this post possible today as the dough of this cookie was supposed to be easy to work with but it was not. The dough was breaking apart and it was simply impossible to open it to cut the cookies with the shapes I had in mind. The solution was to roll the dough in a parchment paper, refrigerate the dough and cut slices. I rolled quite thick rolls and the cookie is slightly bigger than other types of meltaways I used to make but I didn't want these to be small cookies since I had planned to frost the cookies and add some nuts.

This was the worst recipe for a Friday afternoon, specially on the last day of school, with party at the children's school, the worst traffic of the year in Trondheim and loads of stuff to do at home. If I was able to make this third post I am quite confident that I will be able to go further with my project of seven posts about cookies to honor the Sami people of Norway and to celebrate the solstice. The result was worth all the effort as this almond meltaways are simply delicious, crunchy, chewy, not very sweet and with a fantastic aroma of nuts and butter. I loved them.

Almond Meltaways

150 grams finely grounded almonds
120 grams wheat flour
125 grams butter at room temperature
75 grams sugar
1 table spoon vanilla sugar

For the sugar frosting
50 grams confectioners sugar
1 table spoon hot water
Toasted and grounded hazelnuts or pistachios to sprinkle on top

Mix almond flour, wheat flour and sugar. Add butter cut in small pieces and using your fingers (or mixer) mix to incorporate all the ingredients and form a quite dry dough. Divide the dough in two parts and roll each part into a piece of parchment paper rolling the paper very tight. Refrigerate dough for at least one hour. Turn on the oven at 180C/350F. Cut slices of 1 centimeter or 1/2 inch. Bake at 180C/350F in a tray over parchment paper for 10 to 12 minutes or until the borders of the cookies are golden. Let them cool and decorate with sugar frosting and grounded nuts. The dough can be refrigerate for 3 days and the cookies can be kept in air tight containers up to 3 days. Makes around 3 dozens of cookies.

quinta-feira, 18 de dezembro de 2008

Sense of place (2): Marzipan chips

I have been playing with marzipan recently, trying to find the best way to make marzipan, the best texture and the best taste. I am trying to make the ultimate Norwegian cake and cookie, the kranse kake which is made of a more complex type of marzipan dough that includes some other ingredients. While in search of the perfect marzipan for my own home made kranse kake I try to find different uses for all the marzipan I have made.

The taste is the perfect mixture of almond and caramel with a crunchy and yet chewy sensation. For more about the Christmas cookies event here

Marzipan Chips

200g Marzipan
1 egg

Mix some sugar and cinnamon and set aside. Beat the egg and set aside. On a clean surface roll the marzipan into a 3 cm thick and cut 1 cm thick slices. Lay the marzipan slices on baking pan with parchment paper leaving some space between the slices. Brush the egg mixture and sprinkle some of the sugar and cinnamon mixture and bake the marzipan at 180C/350F for 5 to 8 minutes or until the cookies have melted and golden.

The cookie won't be hard enough to be removed from the pan so let them cool in the pan and remove once they have cooled completely and are hard enough to be removed without breaking apart. The result is a slightly sweet, crunchy and chewy almond caramel with cinnamon aroma. Lovely if served together with coffee or tea.

Follow me as I celebrate the Norwegian seven cookies tradition this Christmas. Until December 23th I will be publishing one cookie a day in honor of the ancient Norwegians and the Sami population of Norway.

quarta-feira, 17 de dezembro de 2008

Sense of place (1): chocolate butter cookies

I decided to follow a very Norwegian tradition to celebrate the ancient Nordic people, the Sami people in special. As Norwegians used to do, I will bake seven different types of cakes and cookies during the Christmas week. Starting today and until December 23 I will be publishing here the seven recipes chosen to compose this celebration. Those of you who know a little about me probably know that I am not the traditional type. On the contrary. I don't like traditions at all, I like to break tradition, end traditions and start new things, based on new values and completely new attitudes. However, in this Northern part of the planet I have started to learn to admire and respect the ancient Nordic people. Not the vikings, people much older, the primitive people of Northern Europe, like the Norwegian Sami. It is to celebrate their history, their courage, their paganism, their beautiful clothes and their fantastic culture that I have decided to bake these treats.

Today I present a very simple but delicious cookie, the chocolate butter cookie which is a very Danish type of cookie. Who dares to deny ever buying a can of Danish butter cookies? The recipe I used was in Danish by the way but it was very similar to the Chocolate Thumbprints Cookie of Martha Stewart which is a very nice recipe and for that reason I publish the link to Martha's site where you can also find a video to the show where she presented this cookie. I made a slightly different recipe as I used less salt, less sugar and less cacao and milk. I also filled my cookies with a nougat ganache to fill instead of the vanilla bean chocolate. The result was perfect to me.

Chocolate Butter Cookies (watch the video for the Chocolate Thumbprint in English here)

2 cups flour
1 cup cocoa
1 cup sugar + more for rolling the cookies
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
200 grams butter
2 egg yolks
2 table spoons milk or cream

Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Sift flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a small bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium, and add yolks, cream, and vanilla. Beat in flour mixture until just combined. Roll balls using 1 teaspoons dough for each, and roll each in sugar. Place the balls on parchment on baking sheets. With you thumb or the bottom of a wooden spoon gently press the center of each cookie. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are just set, about 10 minutes. (If indentations lose definition, press centers again.) Let cool slightly on baking sheets. Transfer cookies to wire racks, and let cool.
Spoon warm ganache into center of each cookie. Let stand until firm, about 15 minutes. Cookies will keep, covered, for up to 3 days.

Original recipe you can find here

Nougat Ganache:

50 grams nougat
50 grams semi sweet dark chocolate (at least 57% cocoa solids)

In a double boiler melt nougat and chocolate mixing well to incorporate. Fill the center of the cookies with 1/2 teaspoon of the ganache while it is still warm. Let it cool before serving.

quarta-feira, 3 de dezembro de 2008

Playing with Marzipan

Norwegians love marzipan. Marzipan, the perfect mixture of almond, sugar and egg white, is the main ingredient in Norway's most traditional desserts. I have the feeling that marzipan is also an obligatory ingredient in Swedish and Danish most traditional desserts, as these three countries share most traditions. In Norway the most traditional cake, the cake served in birthdays, weddings and all sorts of celebrations, is always, always covered by a beautifully set marzipan layer. Marzipan also goes in the most popular cookies, the Norwegian 'constitutional day' cake and the party chocolates. The traditional chocolates, in both Easter and Christmas, are all chocolate covered marzipans.

I have always loved marzipan and chocolate covered marzipans. I used to buy a German marzipan from Lübeck in Brazil and a dark chocolate covered marzipan stick made by Brazilian chocolate producer, Kopenhagem.

I don't know exactly why but I have never tried to make marzipan before, guess I never really wanted to make it until last Sunday when I finally made my first marzipan. It is really easy to make specially if you have a food processor hence the only effort you will have is to peel the almonds from their skin, and let them dry very well.

I started the marzipan process on Sunday and yesterday it was perfect to play with. To make things with marzipan feels exactly like playing with plasticine and you can even add colors which make it look a lot like plasticine. I don't like to add artificial colors so I added some dried apricots to part of the dough to make it look yellow. It is pretty easy to add natural colors to marzipan by processing it with dried fruits such as cranberries, cherries, apricots and raisins or just with some natural juices or sauces. The mixture with juices and dried fruits gives the marzipan extra fantastic flavors while they are totally healthy.

The recipe used here is quite traditional being used by some different publications. The dried apricot was inspired by a recipe published by magazine Bolig Pluss (November,2008)


500 grams of peeled almonds
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 small egg white

In a food processor pulse the almonds until you obtain a very fine almond flour, around 30 seconds, add the sugar half cup at a time and pulse until very well combined. Finally add the egg white and pulse until the mixture have a marzipan look. If you are not familiar with the look of marzipan you can try to manipulate the mixture to feel with your hands the texture of the dough. It is suppose to be soft and incorporate. Roll the dough in a plastic film and refrigerate it for one hour at least. In a clean surface sprinkled with confectioners sugar open the dough and fold it two or three times. Roll it again and return it to refrigerator again. If the dough is holding and not sticking to the roll it is ready to be used.

For the Marzipan with apricot and honey filling

10 dried apricots
2 to 3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons marzipan
Chocolate chips 70% cocoa solids

In a processor mix the apricots with the honey and the marzipan until you get a homogeneous creamy yellow mixture. Open the marzipan in a sugared surface into a rectangle with 1 cm thick. Spread the apricot mixture over half of the rectangle area. Then fold the marzipan dough in half, covering the apricot layer with the part of the marzipan without apricot like in a sandwich. Press delicately not to smash the filling very much, just enough to glue the two layers of marzipan on the apricot filling. Using a clean knife cut little squares by cutting parallel lines on both directions on the marzipan. Clean the knife every time you cut a line on the dough so the filling will not be spread onto the sides when you cut.

You can decorate the squares with a 70% cocoa solids chocolate chips

(Apricot, honey and marzipan filling)

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