Category Archives: Sweet

Strawberry Cake

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Bolo de Morango

For Easter, I decided to unleash my inner hipster and make a chocolate-FREE dessert! The strawberries at the supermarket looked inviting, so I decided to bake this cake that I had seen made by Paula from The Cookie Shop and Deb from Smitten Kitchen, all based on Martha Stewart’s recipe! 😀

This cake is everything you want from a strawberry cake. I hadn’t had such a good cake – and such a pretty one – in a long time! The best thing is that it’s not very hard; actually, it comes together reasonably quickly.

When the cake came out of the oven, Sky asked me: do we have cream? I opened the fridge and saw a small package of cream. I whipped it to serve with the cake, making our dessert even richer!

Bolo de morango

For a 10-inch cake, you’ll need:

85g (6 Tbsp) butter, softened
200g (1 and 1/2 cup) flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
200g (1 cup) sugar, plus 2 Tbsp to sprinkle over the cake – I used regular sugar in the batter, and turbinado sugar to sprinkle over the cake
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
400 g strawberries, hulled and halved

Bolo de morango

Butter a 10-inch round pie plate and pre-heat the oven to 180 C (350 F). It is such a quick process that I actually started pre-heating the oven before making the batter 😀

Start by sifting together the flour, salt, and baking powder. I must confess I never sift – I follow Chef John’s trick of whisking them thoroughly for 2 minutes. This gets rid of any lumps and saves me from having to wash the sieve! 😀

Using your stand mixer, cream the butter with the sugar. The recipes usually say something about “mix until the cream is pale,” but Uruguayan butter is pretty yellow, so that never really happens – it has never stopped me from baking anyway, though!

Add the egg and mix well. Then, add the milk and vanilla, mixing well. At this point, the mixture looked a bit curdled, which is normal for this kind of cake.

As usual, to avoid over-mixing the batter, at this stage I change to a hand whisk. Add the flour mixture little by little, mixing just until you can’t see any flour specks.

Transfer the batter to the buttered pie plate. Place the strawberry halves over the dough, cut side down. Try to place them as close together as you can!

Sprinkle 2 Tbsp of sugar (I used turbinado) over the strawberries and bake at 180 C (350 F) for 10 minutes. Then, lower the temperature to 170 C (325 F) and bake until it’s golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes clean – the recipes said this would take about an hour, but in my oven it took only 45 minutes.

Let the cake cool over a wire rack and serve with whipped cream!

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Mimosa Gelatin

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Gelatina de Mimosa

I hadn’t had gelatin for a LONG time! I mean, I didn’t really miss that overly sweet dessert with those bizarre artificial flavors. But when I started to think about what to make for Summer Tertulias, the idea of gelatin kept coming back to me. I decided to find a homemade version.

I found several recipes, among them Patricia’s tangerine and prosecco gelatin. I decided to try that one, subbing orange juice for the tangerine, to make a solid version of one of my favorite drinks!:D

The first time I tried, it didn’t work. It wouldn’t set, so I placed it in the freezer and ate frozen mimosas (No complains here, it was super tasty! :D)

But I’m stubborn, so I decided to try again, increasing the amount of gelatin and changing the way I added it on the recipe. It worked! I served with a spoonful of whipped cream and it was a hit!

For four servings, you’ll need:

200 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp powdered gelatin
3 Tbsp water
100 ml sparkling wine – I used rosé, because that’s what I had in the fridge!
Optional: whipped cream, to serve (I didn’t add sugar to the cream, as orange juice is quite sweet!)

Gelatina de Mimosa

Making gelatin is pretty easy. Sure, not as easy as mixing the flavored package into warm water, but then again, the homemade version tastes much better! 😀

In a small pan, mix the orange juice and the sugar. Mix well and heat over medium heat until it simmers. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside for about 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix the powdered gelatin and water and let it hydrate for 10 minutes. After this, the mix will be pretty solid. Place this small bowl in a larger bowl with hot water – don’t put too much water: think “water bath,” but off the stove! Stir the gelatin mix until it turns liquid.

When the gelatin is liquid and clump-free, pour it in the pan with the orange juice. Add the sparkling wine, whisk well, and strain the mix.

Pour over four serving bowls, cover with plastic wrap, and place them in the fridge for about 3 hours, until they set. Serve with a tablespoon of whipped cream.

Pecan Pie Mini-Muffins

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Mini-Muffins de Noz-Pecã

Of the recipes I made for this holiday series, this was the biggest hit BY FAR! As it yields 24 mini-muffins, I thought I’d have some leftovers to freeze, but they disappeared! I had to make it again, so I could take the pictures – and once again, there were no leftovers! 😀

This is a pretty easy recipe: only five ingredients, and you don’t even need a stand mixer! The hardest steps are chopping the nuts and buttering the mini muffin tins. This last step is mandatory, though – I tried making it with paper cups, and it all got stuck! 😦 #truestory

You’ll need:

1 cup brown sugar – press well into the measuring cup!
½ cup all-purpose flour – yes, that’s all it takes!
1 cup pecans, chopped – chop first, then measure
2/3 cup (150 g) melted butter
2 large eggs

Mini-Muffins de Noz-Pecã

This is easy! Start by thoroughly buttering the mini-muffin tins.

In a bowl, mix the brown sugar, the flour, and the chopped pecans. In another bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and add the melted butter. Now all you have to do is combine both bowls!

Fill the well-buttered mini-muffin tins 2/3 of the way. Bake in a pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into them comes out clean. With the help of a butter knife, remove the mini-muffins from the tin right away. Let them cool on a wire rack.

When they are completely cooled, place them in a nice gift box and brighten someone’s day! 🙂

Panettone Muffins

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Muffins de Panetone

One of the things I picked up from my mom was the love for panettone – the best part of Christmas! As today is her birthday, I thought it was appropriate to post this recipe – which is much easier than the traditional panettone!

The first time I made these muffins was last Christmas. Everybody loved them, so I decided to bake them again – as they freeze wonderfully, you can bake them now, when the holiday madness is not fully on, and share them on Christmas Day!

Don’t let the ingredient list intimidate you – it’s quite long, but this is not a difficult recipe! Instead of Amaretto and Cointreau, I used almond and orange extracts. You can also replace the dried fruit for candied fruit if you prefer!

For 12 muffins, you’ll need:

1/3 cup sultanas
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup chopped apricots – chop, then measure
1/3 cup dried cranberries
¼ cup (60 mL) orange juice
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
1/3 cup chopped candied cherries – the original recipe called for candied orange peel, but I couldn’t find it! 😀
½ cup (100g) sugar
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp Cointreau – I used orange extract
1 tsp Amaretto – I used almond extract
2 ¼ cups (315g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2/3 cup (160mL) whole milk
1 ½ Tbsp brown or turbinado sugar, to sprinkle over the muffins

Muffins de Panetone

Place the apricots, raisins, sultanas, cranberries, and orange juice in a small saucepan. Mix well and cook over high heat until the juice starts to boil. Turn off the heat and let it cool. Add the candied cherries and set aside.

Pre-heat the oven on medium. Place paper liners in a common muffin tin and set aside.

Place the sugar and the orange and lemon zest in the bowl of the stand mixer. Using your fingertips, rub the zests in the sugar, so you can extract more aroma from them – this is an optional step, but it’s so fun! Add the butter and the oil, and mix until it’s light-colored. You will need to scrape the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula every now and then.

Add the eggs, one by one, mixing well after each addition. I always do that, but I must say I have no idea what happens if you add all the eggs at once! Hahahahahah!

Add the vanilla, the Cointreau (or orange extract), and the Amaretto (or almond extract). Mix well.

Muffins de Panetone

In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add 1/4 of the flour mix to the batter, mix well, add 1/3 of the milk, and mix well. Repeat until you finish both – the flour mix will be the last thing you’ll add.

Add the reserved fruit, together with whatever orange juice is left in the pan. Mix into the batter with the silicone spatula.

Split the batter among the tins. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the muffins, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until they pass the clean toothpick test.

Let them cool on a wire rack. When they are completely cooled, place them in a pretty box/bag and give them away! 🙂

Spiced Chocolate Shortbread

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Shortbread de Chocolate e Especiarias

Here at Culinary Tertulias, December is a synonym for edible gifts!

To start this series, I wanted to make something with chocolate and spices, Christmas-y but not overly so. I also wanted a quick and easy cookie, because I had to take SOMETHING to a meeting with friends. I found this recipe at King Arthur’s Flour and I immediately knew it was the one to make – I love shortbreads and I had all the ingredients!

I used two things that may be a bit tricky to find outside the US: allspice and pumpkin pie spice. To make this recipe, you will need one teaspoon of spices – you can use a mix of ground ginger, ground cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

You will need:

1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp salt
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1/3 cup (28 g) Dutch cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp mixed spices – I used ½ tsp allspice and ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice, but you can also use a mix of ground ginger, ground cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 and 3/4 cup (200 g) all-purpose flour

 
Shortbread de Chocolate e Especiarias
 

Start by lining 2 8-inch square pans with aluminum foil, leaving some excess to help you remove the shortbreads, and grease them well. Pre-heat your oven.

This is a recipe that is stirred by hand, which sounds hard – it’s actually pretty quick and easy, if the butter is properly softened!

With a spatula, mix the butter, salt, and sugar. Add the cocoa powder, vanilla, spices, and baking powder. Mix well. Add the flour and mix just until you can’t see any more white specks.

Divide the dough into both pans – use the spatula to smooth the surface and prick it all over with a fork. Bake for approximately 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes. Use the excess aluminum foil as handles to remove the shortbread from the pans and immediately cut the shortbreads into squares. Cool them on a wire rack.

When they are completely cool, place in a cute box or bag and spread the cheer! 🙂

Chocolate Pudding

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Potinhos de Chocolate

One of these days, Sky said he was craving chocolate pudding. Naturally, I went looking for a recipe. Smitten Kitchen’s sounded pretty easy, and I had all ingredients there, so it was a no-brainer.

The recipe was indeed easy – six ingredients! One pot!

I made it quickly, and decided to place it nice serving bowls. While I was dividing, I had a taste – it was DELICIOUS! Comfort food at its best!

For six servings, you’ll need:

1/4 cup (30 g) cornstarch
1/3 cup (75 g) sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt – or, you know, a generous pinch
3 cups (710 ml) whole milk
6 ounces (170 g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped – I used 70%
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Potinhos de Chocolate

Have I mentioned how easy this recipe is? This recipe is really easy! 😀

In a medium-sized pan, whisk the cornstarch, sugar, and salt. Add the milk slowly, mixing well to avoid lumps. Place the pan over low heat. Stir occasionally with a spatula, scraping the bottom and sides. If you feel lumps are forming, use a whisk – I didn’t have to.

After about 10 minutes, the mix will start to thicken – it will be hot, but not really boiling. Continue to stir until the mixture can coat the back of a spoon – I think the picture shows what I mean!

Potinhos de Chocolate

Still over low heat, add the chocolate and stir until it melts and the pudding thickens – this will take another 2 or 3 minutes. Remove from heat, add the vanilla and mix well.

Now you can be fancy and avoid all lumps by passing the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. I (obviously) didn’t bother.

Another thing you can do is to divide the mixture into individual serving bowls, but that is option. What is not optional is covering the pudding with a plastic wrap directly on it, to avoid the formation of the skin. In all fairness, even that is optional, some people like the skin! :-S

Refrigerate for about 3 hours. The original recipe says the pudding will last for three days in the fridge, but I was never able to test that! 🙂

Chocolate Coconut Nut Bar

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It has been a bit quiet over here, hasn’t it? August was a tough month, but it ended brilliantly, and now we’re back!

When I first read this recipe, I thought I’d make just a tiny change, using honey instead of corn syrup. I went to the grocery store to buy pecans, but I forgot that the recipe called for three cups, so I only bought a small packet! So that was another thing I had to adapt – I used only two cups of nuts (pecans and walnuts). Then, when I was sorting the ingredients for the picture, I realized I was out of chocolate chips and did not have enough coconut flakes – so I used a chocolate bar, chopped, and some shredded coconut! 😀 Even with all these adaptations, the bars turned out great! 🙂

For a 9 x 13 inch pan, you’ll need:

Base:
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup confectioner’s sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ cup (170 g) unsalted butter, chopped into cubes

Tasty chocolate layer
1 ½ cup chocolate chips – I chopped a 70% cacao chocolate bar

Top:
3 large eggs
¾ cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup honey
¼ cup (60 g) melted butter – yes, we’re using butter again in this recipe! 😀
1 cup of sweetened coconut flakes – I used a mix of unsweetened coconut flakes and shredded coconut
2 cups pecans – I mixed pecans and walnuts, but I think it’d be pretty tasty using hazelnuts!

As most bar recipes, start by preparing the pan: butter a 9 x 13 inch pan and cover it with aluminum foil, leaving a “handle” to help remove the bars from the pan. Butter the aluminum foil WELL, being careful not to tear it. I feel I need to stress the concept of buttering the foil WELL: I didn’t do it (I’m starting to believe August is really a messed-up month), and a big piece of the bar STUCK to the pan in a way that I had never seen! 😦

Spread the nuts evenly over another baking sheet. Toast the nuts for 10 minutes, stirring every now and then. Set aside

In a bowl, whisk the flour, confectioners’ sugar, and cocoa powder. Add the cold butter, and use your fingertips to crush it until the mix resembles coarse meal – or you can be traditional and use a pastry blender! I just don’t care much for pastry blenders 😀 Press this mixture on the bottom of the prepared baking sheet, and bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Immediately after removing the base from the oven, spread the chocolate chips evenly over the entire surface – the chocolate will melt quickly, creating a very tasty layer 😀

Let it cool over a wire rack for at least 30 minutes.

In a bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the brown sugar, the honey, and the melted butter. Mix well until all the ingredients are combined. Add the coconut and the nuts.

Pour this mixture over the cooled base and bake on a pre-heated oven for about 35 minutes, or until the filling has set and the edges are golden-brown. Let it cool over a wire rack for about 1 hour, and then place it in the fridge for another hour.

Use the foil “handles” to remove the bars from the baking sheet. Place them over a cutting board, cut them with a sharp knife and serve!

Lamington Bars

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Lamington Bars

You know, sometimes all we need is something that is simple, but looks complicated, complex, sophisticated. Or something that has a fancy name!

This recipe, from Technicolor Kitchen, fulfilled an old desire of mine: I always wanted to make Lamingtons, but was too lazy to make the traditional ones!

You’ll need:

125 g unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 ¼ cup flour
1 ¼ rsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
½ cup whole milk, lukewarm
1 cup of sweetened coconut flakes – I must confess I didn’t really measure! As I can’t find sweetened coconut flakes in Uruguay, I used shredded coconut.

For the icing, you’ll need:

¾ confectioner’s sugar, passed through a fine mesh sieve – can I use regular sugar? Probably NOT.
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, passed through a fine mesh sieve
1/3 cup boiling water
1 ½ Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Lamington Bars

As in brownie recipes, start by preparing the baking sheet (i used a 9 x 13 inch one): line it with aluminum foil and butter the foil – do so CAREFULLY, to prevent tears. I ran out of aluminum foil that day (the horror!), so I used parchment paper – make sure you butter it as well!
In the stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla until the mixture is light and fluffy. This will take about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition – remember to use the silicone spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl!

Turn off the mixer. With your silicone spatula, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt, until it’s all well incorporated. Mix in the milk. You’ll get a reasonably thick batter. Spread it over the baking sheet, making sure to smooth the surface with your spatula.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. This cake doesn’t raise or color much, don’t worry. Let it cool COMPLETELY in the pan over a cooling rack.

When the cake has cooled, cut it into bars – cutting before pouring the icing makes the bars look pretty on the sides! 🙂

It’s time for the ridiculously complicated icing. Ready? Mix all icing ingredients in a bowl. There. With a spoon and a little bit of patience, spread the icing over the bars. Top them with coconut and serve!

Another great thing about these bars is that they freeze PERFECTLY! Wrap individual portions in plastic wrap. When you really need something sweet, just remove from the freezer and let it thaw a little bit – they’re pretty tasty cold! 🙂

Magic Chocolate Custard Cake

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Bolo Mágico de Chocolate

Better late than never! May is over, but this is such a different recipe that I didn’t want to save it for later! (Blame the Abrates conference for my delay in posting this! Hahahahah!)

To end the Chocolate Tertulias (and celebrate my birthday, which was on the 19th), I decided to make a cake I had seen at A Cozinha Coletiva, a blog I’ve been following for years, but had never tried a recipe from.

I must confess: halfway through the recipe, I was “man, this is not going to work…” But I persisted, and it was worth it! The texture is very unusual: it resembles a cake, but also a pudding, or maybe something else… and it’s delicious!

For an 8 x 8 inch cake, you’ll need

110 g (1 cup) unsalted butter
600 ml (2 and 1/2 cups) whole milk, lukewarm
115 g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
45 g (1/2 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
4 egg whites
4 drops white vinegar
4 egg yolks
210 g (1 and 3/4 cup) confectioner’s sugar
30 ml (2 Tbsp) prepared – and strong – coffee – you can also use espresso
1 tsp vanilla extract

For garnish (optional, but go ahead and do it):

Confectioner’s sugar
Berries – I looked all over town for raspberries, as it was my birthday! 😀

Bolo Mágico de Chocolate

Attention: Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius – yes, the lowest temperature!

Start by melting the butter and warming up the milk. Set them aside.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour and cocoa powder. I managed to BREAK my whisk while doing that! I still can’t figure out how I did that, but you’re (probably) a more normal person, so you won’t do that… 😀

Using the stand mixer, whisk the egg whites with the vinegar, which is there to help you reach hard peaks – have you seen that trick of turning the bowl upside-down and seeing if the egg whites will fall on your head? That’s it. If it doesn’t move, it’s ready.

In the third bowl, which should be large enough to fit all the ingredients, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until you get a light and pale cream – I had to use a FORK to whisk, can you imagine? In this bowl, add the melted (and cooled) butter, the coffee, and the vanilla. Whisk for two minutes, until combined.

Add the milk and mix well. This is when it looks as if it’s ruined, because it’s too liquid. Don’t worry, that’s how it’s supposed to be! 🙂

Add the whisked egg whites, one-third at a time, in a delicate folding motion.

Once again: don’t freak out, it is pretty liquid indeed, but it works! Pour the mix over a well-greased 8 x 8 baking pan, and bake for 50 to 60 minutes.

Ritchie’s description for how to know when the cake is ready was perfect: “bake until you notice that, when you wiggle the pan, the cake wiggles too, but more like jell-o than a liquid. It sounds like a weird description, but you’ll understand.” And you really will! 😀

Let it cool completely. When the cake is fully cooled, cut in squares, dust some confectioner’s sugar, decorate with some berries for extra frou-frou, and serve!

The Browniest Cookies

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Biscoitos Brownie

Have you ever read a recipe, thought it would be easy to make, knew it would be tasty, pinned it, aaaaand…… never remembered to do it? Always, right? 😀 To continue the Chocolate Tertulias, I decided to finally make these cookies, which are basically little round brownies!

These are not only delicious, they’re also very easy to make: you don’t need to soften the butter and you only use one pot! I didn’t have unsweetened chocolate, so I used a70% cocoa one. It was very tasty, but next time I’ll use one with 80% cocoa, or stronger. Even if you don’t like bitter chocolate, I don’t think this recipe would work with milk chocolate – it’d be way too sweet!

You’ll need:

115 g (½ cup) unsalted butter
115 g unsweetened chocolate, chopped
190 g (1 cup, packed) dark or light brown sugar
25 g (2 Tbsp) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp fine sea or table salt
45 g (½ cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
130 g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
115 g (2/3 cup) chocolate chips or chocolate, chopped into chunks

Biscoitos Brownie

In a pot that fits all ingredients, melt the butter and the chocolate. You can use a water bath, or do what I did and melt everything over the lowest heat on the smallest burner of the stove, stirring constantly and being careful not to let the chocolate burn.

With a silicone spatula, mix the two kinds of sugar into the melted chocolate. Add the eggs, one by one. Mix in the vanilla, salt, and baking soda. Sift the cocoa powder over the batter − yes, I do mean sift it! 😀 − and mix. Sift the flour over the batter and mix just until you don’t see any white specs. Now all you have to do is add the chocolate chips!

Cover the pot with plastic wrap and let it cool in the fridge for about half an hour. Use a cookie scoop or make small balls (mine were about 1 Tbsp of dough), place them on a lined baking sheet, leaving plenty of room between them, and bake in a preheated oven. The original recipe said to bake for 11 to 12 minutes, warning that they would be soft. I did this on the first batch, letting them cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. This gave the cookies a really brownie-like texture. On the second batch, I baked for 15 minutes, and found the texture to be closer to a normal cookie − and I liked them even better that way!

Freezer: As with most cookies, you can freeze the balls of dough in a plastic wrap-covered baking sheet. When they are fully frozen, transfer them into a Ziploc bag. To bake, take them straight from the freezer to the oven, baking for a couple extra minutes.