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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.