Monday, June 24, 2013

Orange and poppy seeds pancakes!

I was taught early on by my mother that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. To this day, I religiously follow her advice. Forget all the technical jargon nutritionists throw left and right, which most of the time I don't really understand, but I firmly believe if you start your day on a positive note you will most likely have a good and productive day.

I like to treat myself during the weekends with a more decadent breakfast. Pancakes, among others, are a favorite of mine, as they can be easily tweaked and modified so that you are never bored and feel as if you are trying something new every single time. Whoever invented pancakes, I salute you, you deserve my deepest gratitude!

For this pancake recipe, I used orange peel and poppy seeds as the main flavoring ingredients. Orange add a wonderful taste and fragrance whereas the poppy seeds add the crunch and more nutritious elements.

I topped the whole with strawberry sauce for a fresh, fruity and sweet touch. For me, it's the perfect way to start your day, especially on the weekend, or just any other if one has time.

For the pancakes you need (for 2 people):

  • 130 g flour
  •  20 g vanilla infused sugar (or just sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • dash of salt
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 egg (yolk and white separated)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 160 g buttermilk
  • 25 g melted butter
Combine all the dry ingredients with the zest and seeds and mix well. Mix egg yolk, vanilla and buttermilk. Beat the egg white until soft peaks form (or you can just mix the whole egg with the buttermilk, but beating the egg white apart will give a great fluffy texture so it´s really worth it if you have time). Make a hole in the dry ingredients, add the buttermilk mixture then the butter and mix well, slowly fold the egg white, in 2 or 3 batches, when well combined, just let the batter rest for 10 minutes and bake it in a large skillet over medium heat.

Strawberry sauce:
  • 100 g finely diced strawberry
  • 20 g  sugar (vanilla flavored is better)
  • 3 tbsp orange juice
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and let it slowly simmer on a low heat, after 10 min, the sauce will be ready. You can serve it chunky or blend it to have a smoother sauce. This time I wanted it smooth, even if I prefer the chunkier variety, but it's up to you to decide which suits you better.  

I served the pancakes with a strawberry sauce, but they really go well with raspberry or blueberry sauces or even dark or semi-sweet chocolate sauces. The choice is yours, after all it's your power breakfast and it has to be your way!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Coco-choco cupcakes!

Dark, fudgy and sweet

The weather is still acting up here in Madrid, from a hot weekend to a cloudy and cold one. I haven´t had any vacation time for more than 6 months, and I still have to wait a bit. I am really longing for long days on the beach doing nothing and just enjoy everything that the seaside offers. So until then, I have to keep myself busy and indulge myself every now an then with a sweet treat, until I can finally escape the hectic city life.
We all know how uplifting chocolate can be, so I wanted to do a dessert with chocolate but flavored with an ingredient that denotes warmth, sandy beaches and vacation times, and what better than coconut to deliver just that.
The batter will make around 7 cupcakes

Of course, the recipe I developed is easy and relies on ingredients you are most likely to have in your pantry. To complement the cupcakes, the frosting was also a breeze to make.
The end result of my work: fugdy coco-choco cupcakes with a pronounced chocolate flavor that goes so well with the refreshing taste of coconuts. The perfect dessert after a long and hard day at work.

Now let´s see what you need for these cute and delicious cupcakes!
Baked and waiting to be frosted

For the batter you need: (makes 7)

  • 1 egg
  • 60 g  flour
  • 10 g cocoa powder
  • 70 g soft butter
  • 65 g vanilla sugar
  • 3 g baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • 30 g melted and cooled chocolate
  • 70 ml coconut milk
  • 3 to 4 tbsp shredded coconut and lightly toasted (if you wish more intense flavor)
  • tsp of coffee liquor (or just use vanilla essence)

Combine the dry ingredients and sift them. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar, once well combined add the egg with the liquor, mix till well blended. Add the chocolate and mix again, when all combined, turn off the mixer, add the flour and fold into the batter. Add the coconut then the coconut milk. 

Fill the cupcakes cases about half way, pop them in a preheated oven (180C) and bake for about 20 minutes. 

Chocolate and butter frosting:
  • 100 g condensed milk
  • 100 g soft butter
  • 20 to 40 g sifted cocoa powder (depends on how chocolaty you want the frosting)
  • 20 g coconut cream (it´s the cream you find when you open the can of the coconut milk)
Be generous with the frosting

This recipe has been used by my family for as long as I can remember using frosting on cakes and Christmas logs, it is so easy to make and delicious. You just need to combine the milk, butter and coconut and mix until well combined, start adding the cocoa powder, mix well until you have a fluffy mixture. Leave it in the fridge for about half an hour before using.
Decorate with few coconut shavings

Now you can frost your cooled cupcakes, I added freshly shaved coconut to decorate and add more flavor. Enjoy!
Enjoy these cupcakes in any weather and any time

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Cookies for New Born Babies!

For the last couple of weeks, I have been making lots and lots of cookies and decorating them using different ideas. For some reason, once you start decorating cookies, you will hardly be able to stop.

With so many themes, you will never run out of ideas to transform a humble cookie into a work of art. So let your imagination flow and delight your family and friends with special cookies.

I'm fairly a novice in cookie decoration as I started less than a year ago and I am still learning a lot about the techniques of cookie decoration. Although it's a time consuming activity, it's nevertheless very rewarding and I just love it.

Every now and then a friend or a family member welcomes a new born baby bringing a ray of sunshine into the lives of all those who encounter him/her. To celebrate such occasions, us grown-ups  indulge ourselves with sweet treats and cookies are becoming ever more popular in such occasions which inspired me to create these cookies.

To create the shapes you will see in the pictures below, I bought the cutter shaped like a baby onsie but I managed to create the baby shape and the bib using cutters I already have.

I used a sugar cookie dough recipe which takes time to master. Additionally, making the perfect royal icing is definitely not easy. Needless to say that piping and keeping your hand steady is a challenging task. I am not saying this to discourage you, but keep in mind that decorating cookies takes time and patience, lots of it.

Now, I will leave you with some of the pictures I took, the fruit of my hard labor.