Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese And Marzipan Fruits

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I think that carrot cake is a good choice at any time of the year, a good old all-year-round cake in fact, but especially around Ester and Thanks Giving, if you ask me.
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I made a different recipe on Easter, and now this, although we don’t do Thanks Giving here in the UK.
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The colors of the cake, the toasted pecan nuts, the scented cinnamon and the marzipan fruit decorations used, lifted this ordinary carrot cake on a whole new level. Just wonderful!
The cute marzipan fruits are from Budapest, I bought them back in the summer. My kids loved them and of course had to fight over who gets the peach, the strawberry, the pears, etc…
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Ingredients:
-1 and 1/2 cup flour
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp baking soda
– pinch of salt
– 1 tsp mixed spices (with cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger…)
– 1/2 tsp cinnamon
– 1/2 nutmeg freshly grated
– 3/4 cup melted unsalted butter
– 1 cup brown sugar
– 2 Tbsp plain yogurt
– 1 large egg
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 and 1/2 cup grated carrots
– 1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecan nuts
Cream Cheese frosting
-250 gr Mascarpone cream cheese (1 packs)
-1 pack Betty Crocker Cream Cheese Style Icing
-fresh lemon juice (as much as you like, I used almost a whole lemon)
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Method
Preheat the oven. Prepare your baking pans, grease them with little butter and cut out baking paper on the bottom.
Spread the chopped pecan nuts on a baking tray and put it in the hot oven, stirring and turning them frequently so they don’t burn.
In a large bowl, mix the flour with the spices, baking powder, baking soda, salt.
In another large bowl, mix the eggs with the sugar, melted butter, yogurt and vanilla. I don’t use the electric mixer at all when I make carrot cake,  only a large hand mixer.
Stir in the carrots, then add the flour mixture, finally the chopped pecans. Stir well until everything is combined.
Pour equally in the prepared pans and bake for 20-25 minutes.
For the cream cheese frosting, I mixed the Betty Crocker icing with the Mascarpone and lemon juice.
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Matcha Green Tea and Coconut Cream Cheese Cake

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This was my second cake to take to our “cake tasting meeting” I mentioned in my previous post (White Truffle Chocolate Cake). Although we were only supposed to bring one cake each, I made two, and this Matcha cake was my  +1 simply because I wanted the girls to taste it.

I think of this cake as unusual, unconventional, nontraditional, and weird even, but lovely at the same time. I like it, and I was very curious how other would comment on it and wanted to see the overall reviews. There were a few “hm…, and oh, that’s interesting…, and hm….hmmm very smooth…, and even disgust from someone else. Fair enough. I think you either love it, or hate it. Me?  I love it, and will make it again for sure!

 

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First time I made this Matcha cheesecake back in January  (Matcha Green Tea Mini Cheesecakes with Double Chocolate Oreos and Coconut Cream Cheese). This time instead of individual mini cheesecakes, I made one large for the girls. I used the same recipe, but now I used normal size chocolate Oreos with chocolate cream filling.

 

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Ingredients: 

-200 gr double chocolate oreos
-50 gr melted butter
-500 gr Mascarpone cream cheese
-thick coconut cream (I used the Natco coconut milk, and I only used the thick cream from the upper half of the can, so I didn’t mixed it)
-200 ml double cream
-powder sugar (maybe 2 Tbsp, but depends on your personal taste- my cake was not very sweet)
-1 Tbsp Matcha powder
crushed Oreos (optional, but I wanted to have a “dirty” effect, and also the Oreo crumbs tasted good in the cream)
Method:
1. Crush the Oreos, with the filling left in them, then mix it with the melted butter.
2. Divide evenly in the cheesecake pan, then press down firmly. Put in the fridge for about 1 hour.
3. In a mixing bowl, mix the Mascarpone with powder sugar, matcha powder, coconut cream and double cream. Finally stir in the Oreo crumbs.
4. Divide evenly on top of the firm biscuit base, smooth the top, then put back in the fridge for overnight.
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White Truffle Chocolate Cake

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Made this beauty for a girls night out the other week, where we gathered to taste lots of delicious cakes and especially to enjoy each other’s company. We had about 10 different cakes to taste on that evening, and Boy, was I full the next day?! Anyway, I say it worth every crumb!
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This is actually my favourite chocolate cake recipe that I reproduce every Christmas for the past few years, so basically I can say is our traditional Christmas desert. My Mom never makes a cake like this for Christmas. She usually makes a few different tray bakes, and bite size cookies, and of course the very traditional Beigli (in two flavours: walnuts and poppy seeds) which is the most popular Hungarian pastry for Christmas.
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This cake though, became my very own tradition, and I hope that one day my kids will talk about it to their friends and children with a smile on their faces and referring to it as The Traditional Christmas Cake of Mom.
Ah, well, Christmas is not even here, yet, look at me talking all about it! We will be travelling to Europe again, to see family and friends over the winter holidays, so I might not even be able to bake this cake this year, although in previous years I managed to do it even though I don’t feel very comfortable baking in another kitchen other then my own. Will see, will see….
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Here’s the recipe for you.
Ingredients:
1 cup water
5 Tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)
2,5 cup all purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 little natural yogurt (without any flavour)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
200 gr butter (unsalted)
1 tsp almond extract (this time I actually put 2 tsp and I loved the more intense almond taste)
juice squeezed from 1/4 orange
100 gr good quality dark chocolate roughly chopped
salt
Ganache cream:
600 ml heavy cream
150 gr white chocolate
You need to prepare the cream on the previous day of baking. In order to do this you need to pour the cream into a pan, put it on the stove. Chop the chocolate in small pieces and stir in the cream until its melted. Make sure it’s not boiling, it only needs to get warm enough until the chocolate melts in. When it’s done, put it aside to cool completely, then put it in the fridge for the night or at least 6 hours.
Method:
Preheat your oven. Put the water, cocoa powder and butter in a pan and stirring it, bring it to boil on the stove, then put it aside to cool down.
Mix the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. Stir in the water with the butter and chocolate, add the eggs, vanilla extract, almond extract, orange juice, yogurt, and finally the chopped chocolate. Stir everything just only until all is combined.
Grease and line (the bottoms only) the tins with baking paper. I used 3 separate tins, each of 9″ (23 cm) large, so at the end there was no need to cut any layers.
Pour the batter evenly into the cake tins and bake for about 30 minutes. Take it out from the oven then leave to cool in the tins completely before filling your cake.
With an electric mixer beat the white chocolate cream and fill the cake. I put generous amount of cream on each layer, and I covered the cake whit the remaining filling, but I wanted to have a rustic half naked cake, so I scraped off any excess to achieve this vintage look. Finally I decorated it with roses from my garden.
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Jawsome Shark Cake… for my shark obsessed boy

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So, I’ve got this 6 year old funny little guy in the house who has developed a huge shark obsession during the spring and summer this year, and apparently this isn’t over yet, not even close! I must admit that I quiet like it, too 🙂 I bought him several picture books and educational books from Usborne and National Geographic (which he really loves, by the way), we went to watch the big sharks at a big aquarium in Italy, and I even bought myself a pair of shark earrings for the summer to show my ultimate support. I haven’t introduced him to the movie Jaws though….not there yet!

His favourite species are the Great White and the Hammerhead Shark for some reason, and by now he knows lots of types of sharks, what’s more his 3 year old sister learned them from him as well.

I made him a special potato print Shark T-shirt before the summer (and before his haircut 🙂 ), and I must say I was very pleased how it turned out. He loves it too!

 

 

So, we’re all into sharks these days, and having a shark theme cake for his birthday in August in Italy made by the local bakery was not enough. Just not enough, and he made me promise that I’ll make him one too. Of course!

 

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Here we are few months later, and here is the little Shark Cake. I tried to make a sugarpaste shark topping, which looks quite funny without any teeth! Must be a very old (and fat!) shark, even though apparently sharks don’t loose their teeth, or if they do, they will grow it back at once, …so my son tells me….

 

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I did not bake the cake, I used ready baked cake sheets, which I bought in Hungary this summer. They are honey based, thin cake sheets, and I cut out small circles to make 6 layers.

 

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For frosting I made white chocolate ganache and tinted with blue food colour. It turned more like aqua blue because the white chocolate and cream were a bit yellowish, but then I guess aqua is good, considering that sharks live in water/aqua after all.

 

 

Ps.While I wrote this post I was listening to the song “Baby Shark, do do do do….” because that’s what my son is watching on YouTube right now.
And every day.
Since spring or so…
And we all like it! 🙂

Blackberry & Lemon Cake

 

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Is that time of the year again, when the blackberry bushes are in full bloom, and we pick a handful every time we step out the house, just like we do every season.
I choose to bake a plain sponge cake and fill it with blackberry cream this time. The lemons came into the picture in form of lemon syrup which I drizzled generously on top of each cake layer, and also used in the frosting. Funny how a blackberry cake turned out to be pink, but there’s no secret to it, the magic was to simmer/boil the fresh blackberries with lemon juice for a few minutes and they turned from black to beautiful red.
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When I finished this cake and my son first tasted it, he pulled all sorts of faces to me, then pushing his plate away he said “Mom, this is the most disgusting cake I ever had!” Pff…..that bold honesty put me off a little bit, and when tasting it myself I almost fell for it, but after leaving an almost untouched, full cake in the fridge over the night (which never happened before in this kitchen), the next morning our disappointment turned into amazement and now I can say that this is the kind of cake which is best to leave to rest and chill in the fridge for at least 6-8 hours before eating (must be the cream cheese!). Surprisingly the next morning this cake was wonderful, the flavours of the lemon and sweet blackberry combined and even my son’s face lit up with happiness and he finally had a slice of cake that he could enjoy.
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Ingredients
Sponge cake:
-6 eggs at room temperature, separated
-6 Tbsp granulated sugar
-6 Tbsp all purpose flour
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-pinch of salt
Lemon syrup:
-3/4 cup water
-1 Tbsp granulated sugar
-4 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (about 1-2 smaller lemons)
Blackberry cream:
-3 cups powdered sugar
-375 g butter at room temperature
-1 pack Mascarpone cream cheese
-300 g fresh blackberries (but take away 1 cup to place them between the cake layers)
-2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)
-1/2 tsp salt
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Method:
Preheat the oven. Line the bottoms of two 8″ cake pans with baking paper, no need to grease.
In the bowl of the electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with the sugar until you get a firm, shiny peak. Now gradually add the egg yolks, one at a time and the vanilla extract.
Mix the flour, salt and baking powder. Add the flour mix to the egg cream, but very gently and using only a large spoon until everything is combined. Evenly divide the batter into the cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes.
Remove from the pans by sliding a thin spatula or knife around the edges then transfer to a wire rack, remove baking paper from the bottom. Let it cool completely, then cut both  cakes in two equal layers.
Blackberry cream:
Put 1 cup of blackberries with 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice in a small saucepan. Simmer for a few minutes until they go red and soft. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, pushing the blackberries through with a wooden spoon until only seeds are left in the strainer. Discard seeds, and put the gained puree aside to cool down completely. There should be about 5 Tbsp puree.
In a bowl of the electric stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, start whipping the butter slowly with the powder sugar and salt (this is the part I hate because I just can’t do it without my kitchen ending up all dusty….). Increase speed to high and beat until white and fluffy.
Add the cream cheese, a Tbsp at a time and mix until well combined, then whipping 2-3 more minutes until fluffy again, scrapping down the bowl as needed.
Drizzle in the cooled blackberry syrup 1 Tbsp at a time then beat another minute. If you think it’s getting too soft or started to curl, then add more powder sugar and 1 Tbsp of butter.
Make the lemon syrup by combining the lemon juice with the sugar and water in a saucepan on the stove. When it gets hot and started to simmer, take it off and start drizzling the syrup directly on the cake layers. Let it cool for a few minutes before filling your cake with the cream.
After each addition of blackberry cream, put a few blackberries before stacking with another layer of cake. Finish off with generous amount of ream to the sides and lighter layer of ream on the top. I made few rosettes (which by the way are far from perfect, but just can’t seem to master this technique….. 🙂 )
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Nostalgia – Time travelling to the past

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I got a few vintage crochet lace mats and doilies from my mother which she got from my grandmother, which she got from my great grandmother, who made them…..yeah, we’re talking about old stuff here, very old! And beautiful 🙂

 

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When I saw them, I knew I have to use them as a background for a batch of shabby chick cupcakes. I’m not all into this vintage design, but sometimes it feels good and relaxing to go through old black & white family photos, remembering our dear relatives who were around when we were kids, and those who we never met but we were told countless stories about.

 

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Here is my great grandmother, standing in a white dress on the right of the framed photo. She died before I was born at the age of 82. She was 16 when she posed for this photograph….I never knew her, but I know she was the mother of my dear grandfather, and I LOVED her, and I treasure her photograph, which is in fact my absolute favourite of all the old family photos we have. The photo was taken in 1906, and every time I look at it, makes me wonder about that particular day….what was she thinking, how did she spent the rest of her day, how was she feeling, did she ever imagined that one day her photo will end up in her great granddaughter’s wall who she will never meet, but will think the world of her nonetheless….

 

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No recipe here today guys. I only baked these for the sake of remembering and reflecting on the old times.

Very therapeutic 🙂

 

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Jam and Walnut Rolls

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Today I bring you another desert, which was a summer favourite in our family, specially amongst my kids. It has lots of nuts and jam and lemon zest. Ah, such a lovely combination of flavours, and also smells wonderful! I have to bake this weekly now, my kids are hooked up and addicted to this 🙂

 

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I usually buy ready rolled puff pastry sheets for this. One package (320 g) yells 12 little rolls, but in our kitchen this is gone in less than 5 minutes, so I make two usually, because…you know, I want to eat, too 🙂  You can bake it loose on a baking sheet or put the rolls in the muffin pan as I did here, but usually I just cut up the rolls and place them loose on the baking sheet. Either way is fine.
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Ingredients:
-1 pack Puff Pastry sheet
-200 g apricot jam (you can make this with any other jam, but we like it best with apricot)
-100 g ground walnuts
-2-3 Tbsp brown sugar
-zest of 1 lemon
Method:
Preheat your oven to 180 C.
Mix the sugar with the walnuts and lemon zest.
Open the puff sheet and spread the jam evenly. The more, the better. Sprinkle the walnut mixture evenly on top. Again, the more the better 🙂
Carefully start to roll up as tight as possible, then cut 12 even rolls with a sharp knife.
Arrange them in the muffin pan or baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes.
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Even thou you will want to eat them straight away (because you will), let it cool down because the jam can be really, really hot and will burn you. Trust me, I’ve been there, I’ve done that…
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