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Delicious Chocolate and Pistachio Flan.

This week I’m publishing another recipe from my friend, Anahita Tcheraghali.
With the Christmas holidays just around the corner, we decided to prepare a light and tasty dessert for you to enjoy with the whole family during this festive season!
This delightful flan is made with a nice chocolate shortcrust pastry and an exquisite pistachio filling, with an intense caramel-like flavour. It is light and perfect for vegan diets because it doesn’t contain eggs and it’s dairy-free.
You will love it!
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Ingredients
for the filling
300 ml (10 fl oz)  rice milk
25 g (0.88 oz) muscovado brown sugar
40 g (1.4 oz) of shelled pistachios 
2 tablespoons cornstarch
a vanilla bean (or a few drops of vanilla extract)
For the pastry
200 g (7 oz) flour 00
60 g (2 oz) of sunflower oil
60 g (2 oz) dark chocolate (with 70% cocoa solids)
80 g (3 oz) muscovado brown sugar
a pinch of baking soda
some grated lemon zest
a pinch of salt
a pinch of cinnamon (optional)
Preparation of the filling.
1. Finely grind the pistachios.
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2. Mix the ground pistachios with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and 25 g (0.88 oz)  of sugar.
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3. Add the rice milk with a few seeds of the vanilla bean.
4. Thicken the filling on a low heat, stirring continuously for about 10 minutes.
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Preparation of the pastry.
1. Separately, combine the flour with the baking soda, then melt the chocolate in a bain-marie.
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2. Mix the flour with the melted chocolate, 300 ml (10 fl oz) of oil, a little bit of lemon zest, cinnamon, salt and 80 g of sugar.
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3. Once you have a smooth dough, put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
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4. Roll out the pastry on a greased baking tray and pierce the surface with a fork.
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5. Bake the base of the tart at 170 ° C (338 °F)  for 10 minutes.
6. Spoon the filling into the the pastry base and bake for another 15 minutes.
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Crostata di cioccolato con crema di pistacchi.
Ingredienti
Per la pasta brisé al cioccolato
200 g di farina 00
60 g di olio di semi di girasole
60 g di cioccolato fondente al 70 % (possibilmente bio)
80 g di zucchero di canna muscovado
un pizzico di bicarbonato
1 po’ di scorza di limone non trattato
un pizzico di cannella (facoltativo)
un pizzico di sale
Per la crema
2 cucchiai di amido di mais
300 ml di latte di riso
40 g di pistacchi sgusciati
una stecca di vaniglia (o qualche goccia di estratto di vaniglia)
25 g di zucchero di canna muscovado
Preparazione della crema.
1. Tritate i pistacchi finemente.
2. Unite i pistacchi tritati all’amido di mais e allo zucchero. Aggiungete il latte di riso e qualche seme del baccello di vaniglia.
3. Fate addensare la crema sul fornello a fuoco basso, mescolando continuativamente.
Preparazione della pasta.
1. A parte, unite la farina al bicarbonato e poi fate sciogliere il cioccolato a bagnomaria.
2. Impastate la farina con l’olio, la scorza di limone, la cannella, il cioccolato fuso, il sale e lo zucchero.
3. Una volta ottenuto un impasto omogeneo, mettetelo a riposare nel frigo per 30 minuti.
4. Stendete la pasta su una teglia leggermente unta e bucherellate la superficie con una forchetta.
5. Infornate la base della crostata a 170 °C per 10 minuti.
6. Riempite la base della torta con la crema e poi fate cuocere per altri 15 minuti.
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Black Pepper and Fennel Seed Shortbread Cookies.

A few weeks ago, I decided to try out some unusual flavour combinations…By chance, after spending some time experimenting in my kitchen, I discovered that pepper, fennel seeds and lemon work really well with the shortbread dough. This unusual flavour combination will shake up your taste buds so much so that they’ll be asking for more… 🙂

I am not going to say anything more about these delicious and surprising cookies…Just try them and let me know! 

Ingredients

For 24-30 cookies

100 g (3.52 oz) whole spelt flour (farro flour)

100 g (3..52 oz) plain flour

1 tablespoon honey

the grated zest of half a lemon (or 2 drops of lemon essential oil)

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (these actually come from my parents’ garden)

1 teaspoon peppercorns

the juice of half a lemon (small) 

100 g (3.52 oz) brown sugar, plus 1 tablespoon to add for decoration

130 g (4.58 oz) softened butter

a pinch of salt

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Method.

1. Grind the peppercorns and the fennel seeds using a mortar or an electric grinder and set aside.

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2. Separately, mix the flour with butter and then add 100 g (3.52 oz) of sugar, 1 tablespoon of honey, the grated zest and the juice of half a lemon with a pinch of salt. 

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3. Mix until smooth, then put the dough to cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. 

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4. In a small bowl mix together the brown sugar with the ground peppercorns and fennel seeds.

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5. Roll out the dough and give it the desired shape. Decorate your cookies with the mixture of brown sugar, black pepper and ground fennel seeds.

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6. Bake for 20 minutes at 120°C (248°F) on a greased oven tray.

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Biscotti di pasta frolla con pepe e semi di finocchio.

Ingredienti

Per 24-30 biscotti

100 g di farina di farro integrale

100 g di farina 00

1 cucchiaio di miele

la scorza grattugiata di mezzo limone, non trattato (oppure 2 gocce di olio essenziale di limone)

1/2 cucchiaino di semi di finocchio

1 cucchiaino di pepe

il succo di mezzo limone (piccolo)

100 g di zucchero di canna, più un cucchiaio da aggiungere per la decorazione

130 g di burro morbido

un pizzico di sale

Preparazione.

1. Tritate, con un pestello o un macinino elettrico, i semi di finocchio e il pepe. A parte, unite le farine al burro, poi aggiungete all’impasto 100 g di zucchero, il miele, la scorza e il succo di mezzo limone con un pizzico di sale.

2. Amalgamate bene tutti gli ingredienti fino a creare un impasto omogeneo. Lasciate raffreddare in frigorifero per 30 minuti.

3. In una piccola scodella unite un cucchiaio di zucchero di canna con il pepe e i semi di finocchio macinati. Mescolate bene.

4. Stendete l’impasto e date la forma desiderata ai biscotti. Decorate i biscotti con la miscela di zucchero di canna, pepe e semi di finocchio macinati.

5. Infornate a 120° C per 20 minuti.

Delicious Plum Ice Cream With A Hint Of Cinnamon

In my parents’ garden there is a beautiful wild plum tree that every year gives us lots of fruit. These plums, however, are small, mushy and not very sweet. They not very good to eat but great for preparing jams, sauces and desserts. This week I’m going to prepare a really nice and delicate plum ice cream, enriched with a hint of cinnamon, a real treat!

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Yellow plum ice cream with a hint of cinnamon.

Ingredients

Serves 4

500 g yellow plums, halved, pitted

1 tablespoon of cornstarch

the juice of 1/2 a lemon

150 g brown sugar

200 ml water

1 greek yogurt (170 g)

1 tablespoon honey

cinnamon to taste (optional)

Method.

1. Peel the plums carefully (the plums I’m using have a very thin skin, therefore I’m not going to peel them for this recipe).

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2. Meanwhile, boil the water with sugar and let cool.

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3. Puree the fruit in a food processor until smooth, then add the lemon juice, honey, corn starch, and finally the yogurt with cinnamon to the mixture.

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4. Add the sugar syrup to the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

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5. Place the mixture in the ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

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6. Store in freezer. Top with some fresh mint and serve.

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Gelato di prugne gialle alla cannella.
Ingredienti
Per 4 persone
500 g di prugne gialle
1 cucchiaio abbondante di amido di mais
il succo di 1/2 limone
150 g di zucchero di canna
200 ml di acqua
1 yogurt greco (175 g)
1 cucchiaio di miele
cannella q b (facoltativo)
Preparazione.

1. Lavate e asciugate le prugne, quindi togliete la buccia e il nocciolo (qui io uso delle prugne con la buccia sottilissima e non la tolgo).

2. A parte, fate bollire l’acqua con lo zucchero e lasciate raffreddare.

3. Frullate la frutta fino ad ottenere una crema, poi aggiungete il limone, il miele, l’amido di mais e lo yogurt con le cannella.

4. Aggiungete anche lo sciroppo e mescolate bene.

5. Mettete il composto nella gelatiera e seguite le istruzioni.

6. Una volta fatto, potete conservare il gelato nel congelatore o servirlo direttamente nelle coppette con due foglie di menta.

Cake Design Tutorial: Silk Clutch Bag (advanced).

Some time ago I helped a friend make a cake design tutorial. Although it’s definitely not a simple one, actually quite complicated, we decided to put it online anyway. Laura made a very sleek silk clutch bag cake design and it took several pictures and steps to be able to partially explain the process. We did our best, we hope you enjoy it. Feel free to comment on this post.

If you wish to see more of Laura Barcellonio’s cake design visit her facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cake-Deluxe/265825503502411?fref=ts

Follow us on facebook : https://www.facebook.com/Foodfulife

Silk Clutch Bag Cake

Designed by Laura Barcellonio

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The material used:
A chopping board and a wide, pointed knife (small size)
A pizza or pastry cutting wheel (with a straight blade)
A metal working board to use as a cut mat and a cutting knife (a scalpel)
paper, pencil and scissors
Basic kitchen tools, a silicone spatula and a food brush
Few toothpick and straws
A base for cakes (a thick cardboard coated ) and a white ribbon

For the cake:

1 kg white sugar paste for the cake, plus 500 g for the base

ivory and black food colouring, (and edible pearl food dust optional)

vanilla buttercream

A sponge or a madeira cake ( quite thick)

A few raw pieces of spaghetti

Coloring the sugar paste:

Take 1 kg of white sugar paste. Using a toothpick, start mixing some ivory food colouring with a small amount of white sugar paste. Increase the amount of white sugar paste until you get the desired colour. Take a small piece of ivory paste and add the black color (just a little) , to create a uniform grey paste.

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Preparation of the pieces to dry:

With the ivory paste shape and cut the handle of the bag. Make 6 grey pearls (1 cm in diameter each) and insert them, three at a time, into two small pieces of spaghetti.

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Then shape two grey drops, just a little bit bigger than the pearls. Let all the pieces dry for about an hour.

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Cake shaping technique.

Using tracing paper, draw and cut the outlines of your clutch bag. Draw the base of the bag (22 x 12 cm, considering the widest points) , and the side ( 22 x 18 cm, considering the maximum width and height),then cut out your sketches. Take the sponge cake, mark the base and cut out two equal pieces in order to overlap them.

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You can use part of the buttercream to make the filling. Following the outline of your drawings, cut the cake until you obtain the desired shape.

Coat crumb with plenty of butter cream and put the cake to cool in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Roll out some ivory paste with a rolling pin, until you have a thin sheet, then cut out a rectangular shape and place it gently over the cake.

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Cut a trapeze out of the sugar paste sheet and use the straws to calculate 9 folds. Now shape the folds with your fingers and cut out any excess paste. Brush one side of the cake with water and cover it with the sugar paste layer. Repeat this procedure to cover both sides.

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Cut another two smaller trapezoids and calculate 6 folds for each piece. Shape the folds, brush the surface, and apply the trapezoids to the small sides.

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For the handle:

Roll out the grey sugar paste, shape a small thick sheet and cut out two narrow strips, equal in size. Moisten the part on top of the cake with water, then place and mould the strips.

Take the two pieces of spaghetti with the pearls, pierce the grey stripes and place the handle on top of the cake. Using two pieces of spaghetti place the two drops in the center (see the final picture).

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For roses:

Roll out a thin sheet of ivory sugar paste ( 25 cm x 10 cm). Fold the sheet in half and roll it up to shape a rose. Remove any excess paste. Pierce the back of the rose with a small piece of spaghetti and place the rose on the cake.

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For the base:

Roll out a large chunk of ivory paste and cover the entire base of the cake. Roll out some thin stripes of white sugar paste, then fold them to create a fabric-like effect on the base of the cake.

Use a white ribbon to cover the edges. Place the cake on top of the base and brush the surface of the clutch bag with a pearl food colour powder,  diluted in a little bit of alcohol (this step is optional).

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Some tips to keep your sourdough in good shape!

My sourdough is one year old! I keep it strong and healthy in a nice big jar in the fridge. I usually feed it once a week (or refresh it, as we say) , but the refreshment time varies depending on my needs. I’ve never had any problems with my natural yeast, however, at times, it’s possible that the yeast becomes sourer, or less responsive to leavening, therefore less active. These elements depend on many factors. There are some steps you can take to keep your sourdough in the best shape and correct any of problems. Of course, if you want a sour product, in order to let the bacteria produce acidity you have to do the opposite of what is indicated below.

To increase the leavening strength:

⁃ increase the temperature during leavening

⁃ decrease the ratio refreshments / flour

⁃ increase the ratio water / flour

⁃ increase humidity

In case of over-acidity:

⁃ change the type of flour (change microflora)

⁃ decrease the rising time

⁃ decrease ratio refreshments / flour

⁃ decrease the amount of water with the flour (to make a harder dough)

⁃ lower the temperature of the dough

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Some of this information belongs to the teaching material of the Cereal Technology Course at Parma University (Italy), courtesy of Prof. Franco Antoniazzi.

Come mantenere il lievito madre al meglio.

Il mio lievito madre ha un anno di vita! Lo tengo in un vasetto di vetro nel frigorifero e lo rinfresco generalmente una volta a settimana, ma a volte anche più spesso se ne uso in grandi quantità. Non ho mai avuto grossi problemi, ma è possibile che il lievito naturale a volte diventi più acido, oppure sia meno reattivo alla lievitazione, questo dipende da molti fattori. Ci sono comunque degli accorgimenti che si possono adottare per mantenere il lievito madre al meglio e correggere eventuali anomalie.

Interventi sui rinfreschi del lievito naturale.

Per aumentare la forza lievitante:

  • aumentare la temperatura di lievitazione
  • diminuire il rapporto rinfreschi/farina
  • aumentare il rapporto acqua/farina
  • aumentare l’umidità

Interventi in caso di acidità eccessiva:

  • cambiare tipo di farina (microflora diversa)
  • diminuire i tempi di lievitazione
  • diminuire i rapporti rinfreschi/farina
  • diminuire la quantità di acqua rispetto alla farina (impasto più duro)
  • abbassare le temperature degli impasti

Alcune delle informazioni riportate in questo articolo, fanno parte del materiale didattico del corso di Tecnologia dei Cereali dell’Univeristà di Parma, per gentile concessione del Prof. Franco Antoniazzi.

Deliciously soft bavarian cream with chocolate-caramel sauce.

A few nights ago I had a couple of friends round for dinner, it was a special occasion, so I prepared a simple and delicious dessert recipe. I made a soft vanilla bavarian cream which I divided into individual portions and garnished with chocolate-caramel sauce and a few toasted walnuts. This dessert is very easy to prepare, very satisfying and deliciously creamy. A bavarian cream is basically a rich but delicate custard, blended with gelatin to have a light and airy texture. The chocolate sauce served with walnuts adds crunchiness and flavour to the cream.  We spent a wonderful evening and the dessert was fully appreciated…

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Bavarian cream with chocolate-caramel sauce.

Ingredients

Serves 4

250 ml (8.45 fl. oz) whipping cream

150 ml (5 fl. oz) milk

50 g (1.76 oz) sugar

2 gelatin leaves (5 g)

2 egg yolks

2 drops vanilla extract

For the chocolate-caramel sauce

100 g (3.52 oz) brown sugar

1 teaspoon cocoa powder

6 toasted walnuts (toast the unshelled walnuts in the oven on a tray for 5 minutes at 190°C, 374 °F)

1 teaspoon of dark rum

100 ml (3.38 fl.oz) of milk

Preparation method.

1. Soften the gelatin in warm water for 10 minutes.

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2. In a saucepan, work the eggs with the sugar until creamy. Gradually add hot milk and the vanilla extract, stirring on low heat.

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3. Drain the gelatin, melt into the creamy mixture and continue to stir on low heat for about ten minutes (do not boil). Let cool. Stir the whipped cream very gently into the mixture.

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4. Pour the dessert into molds and put in the refrigerator to set for at least 3 hours.

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Preparation of the caramel sauce.

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1. Pour the sugar (100 g) with the cocoa powder into the milk (100 ml), add some rum and stir. Melt the sugar at a low heat and cook until the sauce has thickened.

2. Garnish the bavarian cream with a few toasted walnuts and serve with the chocolate-caramel sauce.

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Crema bavarese con salsa di caramello al cacao.

Ingredienti

per 4 porzioni

250 ml di panna da montare

150 ml di latte

50 g di zucchero

2 fogli di colla di pesce (5 g)

2 tuorli d’uovo

due gocce di estratto di vaniglia

Per la crema di caramello al cacao

100 g di zucchero di canna

1 cucchiaino di cacao

1 cucchiaino di rum scuro

100 ml di latte

qualche noce tostata per guarnire

Preparazione della crema.

1. Fate ammorbidire la colla di pesce in acqua tiepida per 10 minuti. In un pentolino, lavorate le uova con lo zucchero fino a creare una crema spumosa.

2. Continuando a mescolare, allungate gradualmente il composto con del latte bollente. Aggiungete l’estratto di vaniglia e fate cuocere per dieci minuti a fiamma molto bassa.

3. Scolate bene la colla di pesce e fatela sciogliere nel latte ( continuando a mescolare). Spegnete il fuoco e lasciate raffreddare.

4. Unite la panna montata al composto, mescolando delicatamente dal basso verso l’alto. Versate la crema negli stampi e mettetela nel frigorifero a solidificare per almeno 3 ore.

Preparazione del caramello.

1. Versate lo zucchero (100 g) con il cacao e un cucchiaino di rum in 100 ml di latte. Fate sciogliere lo zucchero a fiamma bassa e fate ritirare fino ad ottenere una salsa densa. Lasciate raffreddare.

2. Servite la crema bavarese con la salsa di caramello al cacao e guarnite con qualche noce (fatta leggermente tostare prima) sopra.

Spelt Chocolate Cake with Honey.

 

A great cake for breakfast or as a snack. This recipe has half the amount of sugar normally used for cakes and is rich in nutrients. It becomes a great dessert when served with whipped cream or vanilla cream.

Ingredients

100 g butter (3.5 oz)

60 g brown sugar (2.1 oz)

4 teaspoons of honey

1 cup of milk

1 bag of baking powder (or 1 tablespoon)

3 egg yolks

175 g plain white flour preferably organic ( 6.1 oz)

175 g wholemeal spelt flour (6.1 oz)

3 tablespoons of cocoa powder

Preparation Method

1. Preheat the oven at 160 ° C (320 °F). Beat the butter with the sugar and honey until is smooth.

 

2. Add the egg yolks, the cocoa powder and a little bit of milk. Mix well.

3. In a bowl, mix the flour with the baking powder.

 

4. Gradually add all the ingredients, stir carefully and pour a little bit of milk in the mixture, if the result is too solid.

5. Cover a tin with baking paper (or grease the tin with butter), pour the mixture into the tin (I use a 25cm long x10cm wide tin)and bake for 20-30 minutes (depending on the oven). Let cool and serve.

Torta al cacao con farro e miele.

Ingredienti:

100 g di burro

60 g di zucchero di canna

4 cucchiaini di miele

1 tazza di latte

1 busta di lievito per dolci

3 tuorli d’uovo

175 g di farina 00 (possibilmente bio)

175 g di farina di farro

3 cucchiai di cacao in polvere

Metodo di preparazione

1. Preriscaldate il forno a 160°C. Lavorate bene il burro con lo zucchero e il miele.

2. Aggiungete i tuorli d’uovo, il cacao e un po’ di latte, amalgamando bene.

3. In una terrina, unite le farine al lievito, poi aggiungete (poco alla volta) tutti gli ingredienti, mescolando con cura e allungando con un po’ di latte se l’impasto è troppo solido.

4.  Versate il composto in una teglia (lunga 25cm x10 cm di larghezza) coperta con carta da forno (o imburrata) e infornate per 20-30 minuti (dipende dal forno) a 160° C. Lasciate raffreddare e servite.