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December 27, 2012

Frozen meringue cake

This was our Christmas cake along with cranberry cheesecake. I spotted it in the latest Glorian ruoka ja viini (Gloria's Food and Wine) -magazine. It turned out pretty, but the taste was a bit too coffeeish for my tastebuds. Would work for total coffee lovers, though!


FROZEN MERINGUE CAKE

Meringue layers (4 layers):
6 egg whites
2 dl sugar
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
50 g dark chocolate

Espresso yoghurt filling:
1 can (500 g) Bulgarian yoghurt
6 egg yolks
1 dl sugar
2 dl milk
1 dl water
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon cardamom
3 tablespoons cornstarch (e.g. Maizena)
20 g butter
2 dl whipped cream
chocolate truffles

Using air circulating oven is preferred, but if using a regular oven, the meringue layers should be baked in two lots. Set the air circulating oven in 100 C, the regular in 125 C.

Separate the egg whites and yolks. Put the yolks into a small bowl and cover with cellophane. Put the whites into a big bowl and whip for a short while until foam starts to appear. Add sugar and vinegar into the foam. Continue whipping for about 8 minutes until the foam is firm and shiny and the foam tops are sharp when lifting the mixer up. Cover two baking trays with baking paper. Use e.g. a plate to draw 2 circles (diameter 18 cm) on each paper. Divide the foam into four parts and put it inside the circles. Don't spread the foam yet.

Cut the chocolate and melt it in a bowl either in a hot water bath or in a microwave in low temperature (mix every now and then) for 1-2 minutes. Run the chocolate on top of the foam piles with a spoon. Flatten the mounds to match the sizes of the circles with a spoon. Don't flatten too much to make the chocolate stay in beautiful stripes. Bake the meringue layers in air circulating oven in two levels for about 1 1/2 hours. Let them cool down.

Make the filling. Pour the youghurt into a sieve covered with a filtering paper. Lift the sieve on top of a bowl and let the yoghurt drip while making the rest of the filling. Put the yolks, sugar, milk, water, instant espresso powder, cardamom and cornstarch into a saucepan. Heat it up while mixing until it reaches boiling point. When the first bubble comes up and the blend turns into kissel, lift the pan off the cooking plate. Add butter into the pan and mix until melted. Let the blend cool down. Mix it a few times to prevent crusting. When the blend is cool, combine it with youghurt. Whip the cream and mix it with the youghurt blend.

Fill the cake. Lift a meringue layer on a serving plate and spread 1/3 of the yoghurt filling on top. Repeat twice. Place the fourth meringue layer on the very top. Put the cake in freezer and let it freeze during the night. Take the cake into room temperature about 2 hours before serving. The cake should be cold but not icy. Decorate with chocolate truffels.

December 23, 2012

Christmas cookies in a jar

This is  a nice Christmas present idea. I fell in love with the taste of these cookies so already made another set using white chocolate not bad! 
 The whole week has been crazy running from one place to another. Finally it's time to relax and enjoy the holidays. 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! <:P


CHRISTMAS COOKIES  (in Finnish here.)


100 g soft apricots (soft cranberries might make a nice variation)
2 dl (100 g) pecan nuts
100 g dark chocolate (white or milk chocolate also worth trying!)
3 dl wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
100 g butter
1 dl sugar
1 egg
2 table spoons light syrup

1. Cut the apricots, nuts and chocolate into crushed grain. Mix flours with baking powder and spices.
2. Froth butter and sugar. Add the egg while frothing. Add syrup, flour, and crushed grain. Mix the dough until even.
3. Make 30 cm long bar of the dough. Wrap it in cellophane and let harden in fridge for about 2 hours.
4. Cut the bar into 1 cm slices. Place the slices on a baking tray covered with baking paper.
5. Bake in 175 C in the middle of the oven for 12-15 minutes, until the slices get a bit brownish. Let the cookies cool down and harden on the tray.

December 16, 2012

Snowy cupcakes


GINGERBREAD COCONUT CUPCAKES

150 g margarine
1 1/2 dl brown sugar
2 eggs
3 1/2 dl wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons gingerbread spice (I mixed cinnamon (1/2), clove (1/4) and ginger (1/4))
3/4 dl milk or cream
100 g vanilla quark

On top:
2 dl whipped cream
250 g mascarponse cheese
1 dl powdered sugar
1 dl coconut milk
coconut flakes

Whip margarine and brown sugar together. Add eggs one by one. Mix dry ingredients together and add them into dough with milk/cream. Add vanilla quark. Bake about 12-15 minutes in 200 C. Let the cupcakes cool down.

Topping:
Whip the cream until foamy and mix with other ingredients (except coconut flakes). Extrude the frosting on top of cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle coconut flakes on top.

 ...........

What makes my week is a day off in the middle of it. Especially if you get to spend the night before (the night you don't need to worry about going to bed early) with good friends you haven't seen for a while. AND if this all takes place in your friend-couples' beautiful new home you have been looking forward to see. Take a closer look at the house and the decoration style at Kaisa's stunning blog No home without you.

So, we gathered together on Independence day's eve and I was asked to take care of the sweet munchies. I knew Kaisa has a lot of black and white in her decoration, so decided to make cupcakes that fit in :). That sealed the deal with black papers and coconut flakes on top. And since Christmas is coming up, gingerbread flavour seemed a good choice for the dough. The gingerbread cupcake recipe is from the blog Kinuskikissa,  but I switched the gingerbeads on top to coconut topping, which is my own variation. This flavour combination was quite ok, but the outcome was a bit dry, these "snowy" treats tasted better after a night in fridge.

December 9, 2012

Gingerbread and giggling

Pre-Christmas parties are just the best! You get to gather together with closest friends, eat Christmassy treats (Christmas spices and flavours are the best ones!), burn candles and perhaps zip a few glasses of glogg or red wine. My pre-party season started in the last weekend of November. It was nothing planned, just asked a few friends to come over and made something nice to munch. 

Usually you can find a lot of party clothes at this time of year, since it's supposed to be one of the biggest party seasons. Yet I ran through several stores and found nearly only outerwear and jumpers. I was looking for something a bit festive but not too fancy. I found this fishnet top at Vero Moda, where I don't actually shop too often. It looks pretty basic, but when taking a closer look you see a hint of metal on the surface of the fabric.

Vero Moda tank, Gina Tricot jeans, Zara heels, vintage snakeskin clutch.
Pink vintage snakeskin clutch from Beyond Retro, Stockholm.
Vintage tiger-bracelet from 80's, my favourite one, from Flea Market Valtteri (which doesn't exist anymore, R.I.P.)
Blue cheese & persimmon gingerbreads: simple and fast but pretty and tasty!
Dolling up for the night.

December 2, 2012

Second hand shelter for winter winds

I think I've mentioned it before: a thrift store tour in Mikkeli is rarely a lost errand. Last time I found this brown leather jacket with fur hood. I really like how the leather is worn in places. Usually when you see these kind of loose fit vintage jackets in flea markets the size is 42 or up. So I was lucky to find this one in 36.

Ok, winter, bring it on!

November 26, 2012

Nuts over nuts – pecan coconut cake

Everything delicious is unhealthy, period. Except one exception: nuts! They may be calorie bombs, but still good for you. My ultimate favourites are coconut, cashews and pecans, so after I found a recipe called 'pecan coconut cake' last fall I had no choice but to try it. I already started to plan what I'll bake for Christmas, and this sweetie has a huge potential to end up on the table. Even though I usually always want to try new recipes. We'll see!


PECAN COCONUT CAKE (in Finnish here)

Cake

200 g margarin 
3 dl sugar
3 eggs
4 dl wheat flour
70 g pecan nuts
1 dl coconut flakes
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla sugar
2 dl whipped cream

Filling and frosting

75 g margarin
6 dl icing sugar
300 g cream cheese
2 teaspoons vanilla sugar

Decoration

200 g pecan nuts
(I added some cinnamon on top) 

1. Whip soft margarin with sugar. Add eggs one by one while whipping.
2.  Mix flours, crunched nuts, coconut flakes, baking powder and vanilla sugar together. Add the blend into the dough in turns with cream. 
3. Grease and flour a cake tin (diameter about 22 cm). Make the surface even. Bake in 175 Celcius at the lowest level in oven for about an hour. Turn the cake when it has cooled down a bit. Then let it cool entirely.
4. Mix soft margarin, icing sugar, cream cheese and vanilla sugar together with a mixer until smooth. 
5. Cut the cake in three layers. Spread the filling on every layer, on top and on the sides of the cake. Decorate with pecan nuts. Cake stays juicy for several days when stored in a fridge.

November 18, 2012

The cool wool

We celebrated Father's day last weekend in my hometown. In order to stay fair, this post goes out for my mom. :) I realised I had packed several things made by her in my suitcase. I'm most likely not the only one who thinks there are really no better gifts than self-made ones. No matter what it was a card, handicraft or baked goods – the idea of the giver having put some effort into the gift is respectable.

I like the scarf because it's superlong and you can wrap it around your neck many times. The mittens are cute and perfect for the first crispy winter days. The socks are my favourites of these, actually asked Santa to bring me another pair! ;) The Norwegian sweater is from a thrift store, as well as the boots.

November 15, 2012

Whoopies, woohoo!

They say whoopies (or whoopie pies) are the next big thing after cupcakes, macarons and cake pops. I don't know why they are hip right now, a quick googling reveals they have a long history in America. Traditionally whoopies, sweet sandwich-like treats, are made of chocolate batter and white filling. I rebelliously decided to make a blonde version. In many Finnish whoopie recipes the filling is made of cream cheese mixed with sugar and/or chocolate. The rebellious me went with marshmallow filling.

I spent last weekend at my sister's place in countryside which means my baking environment was much more pleasant than it would have been in my own small kitchen. Just love her romantic country style kitchen!


This recipe (from blog Monalisa's cakes) filled my requirements dough and filling wise.
Btw, when transforming grams into decilitres, table spoons or whatever, this publication by National Public Health Institute becomes handy. Sorry, in Finnish only!

WHOOPIE PIES

75 g saltless butter or margarin
1 egg
150 g (~1,7 dl) sugar
125 g crème fraîche
25 ml (~1,7 table spoons) milk
1 table spoon vanilla extract
55 g white chocolate
3/4 table spoon baking soda
275 g (almost 4 dl) flour
           ...
100 g marshmallows
50 ml (~3,5 table spoons) milk
125 g saltless butter

1. Melt the butter and let it cool down. Whip the egg until foamy and add the sugar 1/3 at a time until thick. Add the butter, crème fraîche, milk, and vanilla extract while whipping. Add chopped chocolate, baking soda and flour.
2. Extrude the dough onto a sheet (diameter about 2,5 cm). Bake in oven (175 Celsius) for about 13 minutes until they get some colour.
3. Filling: heat up the marshmallows and milk in a pan until smooth paste. Let cool down. Whip butter until fluffy and mix it with the marshmallow paste. Extract the paste onto a cookie and place another cookie on top of it.

Note: I added more liquid (both crème fraîche and milk) into the dough to make it more loose. I didn't have a piping tube to extrude the dough, so to make the cookies round, the dough needed to be running.

November 7, 2012

Misty weekend trip

The headline describes my last weekend spent in Turku both literally and figuratively. These pictures don't show how much mist there was, but within an hour after taking these photos when I drove back home   it was almost impossible to see further than 50 meters. My mental state wasn't far from misty either. The purpose of the trip was business + pleasure, which is a pretty tiring combination. Nevertheless, had tons of fun with good company and got to see a city I had only passed by before. 

Before leaving Turku, the first capital of Finland before Helsinki stepped onto the scene, we took a little walk by the river Aurajoki and visited the beautiful Turku Cathedral. The locals have a genious way of telling the difference between the sides of the river. "On this side of the river" refers to the side where the church is and "on the other side of the river" is... well, the other side :). Compass points – so overrated! 



On the other side of the river: second hand fake fur vintage coat (made in Paris), second hand boots, Gina Tricot jeans, Steve Madden satchel.


November 1, 2012

Ghost cake pops & other Halloween must-haves!

Halloween fuss hasn't been around for too long in Finland, but every year you can see more and more spiders, pumpkins and witches decorating store windows. The Halloween bug (spider in this case?) bit me 5 years ago, when I got to spend it in the USA. There's something magical about the whole celebration, even though the idea of the souls of the deads hanging around isn't exactly that, um... tempting.

Based on conversations I hear at coffee tables, on bus or wherever, we don't really know which weekend Halloween should be celebrated in. In most countries Halloween happens on October 31st, on the eve of All Saints Day, so the "right" time would be the last weekend of October, not the first of November. Anyhow, the Finnish style to solve this dilemma is to celebrate both weekends, which doesn't get any complaints from me :). 

Ghost cake pops.
I decided to throw a small Halloween party for friends last weekend, and wanted to serve something yummy in the spirit of the holiday. I've made a vanilla pumpkin pie for Halloween two years in a row now, and this weekend was no exception. This recipe is simply amazing, beats many cheesecakes (my favourites cake-wise) if you ask me. I only skip the cooking-the-pieces part because I use more of the soft inside, not the hard flesh, and mash it as raw. The funniest part begins when the pie is in the oven: carving the pumpkin! I'll make another post about that soon.

For other treats to serve I went through some googling and ended up with the following menu (find recipes below pictures):

Pumpkin pie served with whipped cream and maple syrup
Ghost cake pops
Breadstick bones with pesto "blood" dip
Cheese bones with apple/cinnamon "brain" jam
Halloween spirited candies 
Purple punch


GHOST CAKE POPS (around 20, variation of this recipe, decoration inspired by this recipe)

2 tubes of Domino/Oreo mint cookies

100 g cream cheese
200-300 g white chocolate

Smash the cookies until fine. Mix with cream cheese. Put in fridge for about 1 hour until the dough is a bit harder. Roll small balls of it and put in fridge for a few minutes. Melt the white chocolate, dip the other ends of the sticks in it, stick the stick into the ball and roll in chocolate. Let dry in fridge and paint the faces preferably with black pasta colour or other powdered colour mixed with water. 

The baking store had run out of black pasta colour, so bought an edible ink pen, which turned out to be a fiasco: the colour just didn't come out of the sharp end, so I had to go back and forth with the sides of the head. I overpainted the scary little faces with dark green powdered colour I happened to have. That's why my ghosts have blurry faces!

Vanilla pumpkin pie with whipped cream and maple syrup.

VANILLA PUMPKIN PIE (for 12, find the recipe in Finnish here.)

400 g of refrigerated shortcrust pastry


2 dl crushed pecan nuts

5 dl mashed pumpkin
4 eggs
2 dl vanilla quark
1,5 dl cane sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
0,5 teaspoon ginger
hint of powdered clove
0,5 teaspoon salt

whipped cream and maple syrup


1. Melt the pastry, roll it a bit thinner and press it on the bottom and sides of a pie tray.

2. Crush the nuts and roast them on a dry pan until they get some colour. Be careful not to burn them. Pour the nuts on the pastry.
3. Cut the "hat" of the pumpkin off, remove the seeds, gouge the flesh and boil it until soft and smash it (I never boil the flesh, just smash it raw).
4. Whip the eggs until soft foam. Mix all the ingredients together and pour over the nuts. Bake at 200 C for about 40 minutes. When done, let the pie cool down completely befor cutting it.

Serve with whipped cream and maple syrup.


Breadstick bones.
BREADSTICK BONES (in Finnish here)

PASTRY

70-80 g grated parmesan cheese
3 cloves of garlic
5 dl milk or water (I used water)
1/4 pckg yeast
11-12 dl flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 dl olive oil
2 tablespoons dried herbs (eg. basilica, rosemary, thyme)

ON TOP

olive oil
grated parmesan cheese
sesame/poppy seeds
sea salt

1. Heat the milk/water until warm, crumble the yeast into the liquid. Add 8 dl of flour after the yeast has dissolved. Knead the pastry until elastic and go on for about 15 minutes.

2. Add cheese, garlic, olive oil, salt and herbs. Mix until even. Cover with a towel and let rise for half an hour. Press the pastry and let rise for another half hour. Heat the oven to 225 C.
3. Divide the pastry in four. Use a rolling pin to roll the pastry into a rectangle (15 cm x 25 cm) and cut it lengthwise into 8 pieces. Roll the pieces between hands until finger thick sticks. Place on a baking tray, brush with olive oil and sprinkle other ingredients on top.   
4. Bake for about 15 minutes or until slightly brownish. Preferably serve right away.   

I made a red dip for the sticks by mixing sour cream with red pesto.


Chocolate (pumpkin) balls, cheese boned with apple/cinnamon jam. With a bone-shaped mold these were super easy to make.

PURPLE PUNCH

Almost a whole bottle of Parfait amour liqueur (the purple one)

1/2-1 bottle of dry white whine
Red soda (eg. Fanta Exotic)
Sparkling water


Wow, that was a lot of recipes for one post! Happy and creepy Halloween! It's time for this witch to park the broom and go to bed.

October 24, 2012

October sunshine

Fall is fine, when it's sunny and the air is dry. It's been raining way too much during the past few weeks, so it's almost a civic duty to go out when the sun decides to show up. 

Even though it's not necessary to wear hats yet, I couldn't resist to dig my favourite tassel beanie from the bottom of my closet where it's been waiting for cold weather since last winter. I got it from flea market they organize at Helsinki ice rink in wintertime whenever there's no games, fairs or such. In almost every weekend there was this lady selling all sorts of beanies with different colours, both with and without tassels, all handmade by her. I don't know if she's there this winter, but I need to check that, because I might want to buy another one in other colour. They are so comfy and warm!

The next thing, I suppose, is to figure out what to wear in the coming November rain.

Handmade tassel beanie, second hand vest, Marc Lauge shirt, Gina Tricot jeans, vintage boots and second hand bag.

October 18, 2012

Let the cheese melt!

I admit, clubbing is fun. BUT so is a night spent indoors with fabulous friends, good food and fine wine! We got invited to a friend's house in Porvoo, a small city about a 45 minute ride from Helsinki. The Friday night started with glasses of sparkling wine and went on with preparation of the meal, which we cooked with a raclette grill. All sorts of cheese, meat, sausages, pickled onions, tomatoes, shrimps, zucchini, mushrooms, garlic... am I forgetting something? Oh, and wine :).


Who would have believed all the energy we got after a day at work. Despite staying up late, we hit the city on Saturday. Ok, only in the afternoon, but still. The old city with its architecture and small boutiques and cafes is like a fairytale village straight from Astrid Lingren's books. Can't wait to get there at Christmas time again.

We visited several little stores, of which the Little chocolate factory is one of my favourites (who would have known). From the store, you can see them making the chocolate right behind the glass wall. I got blueberry and cardamom truffles, yum! They also have white chocolate mustard, random but could work as a gift.

We finished our visit with cups of coffee and apple pie at Cafe Helmi, a lovely little place with beautiful furnishings. Helmi (Pearl) is also my dear, dear grandmom's name, so kind of liked it before even stepping in :). They use dishes most of us have seen at our grandparents' house and the whole atmosphere is like decades back. After travelling in time we had to return to hectic Helsinki. Everyday rat race, here I come again!