Category Archives: Christmas

Sweet Bretzels

As I am writing this, the scent of freshly baked Bretzels has filled the room and it’s very hard to resist having a bite! To give you an idea, it smells of  brioche with a hint of orange flower water and it’s just heavenly. These goodies will take a bit of time to make (mostly waiting time) but you will be rewarded I promise.

Bretzels_001

Source: Christophe Felder

Bretzels_002

Ingredients

Starter dough
15g fresh yeast or 7g dried instant yeast
75g milk
70g + 255g plain flour

Dough
3 eggs
75g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar or extract
1 tsp fine sea salt
115g softened butter, cut into cubes
80g candied peel
1 tbsp orange flower water

Eggwash
1 egg and 1 tbsp milk

Glaze
35g sugar
35g water
1 tbsp orange flower water

Method

  1. In the Thermomix bowl, warm the yeast and milk 2 min/37C/speed 1.
  2. Add the 70g flour and mix 10 sec/speed 3.
  3. Add the 255g flour on top (don’t mix) and leave to rest in the TM bowl, lid closed, for 30 minutes or until the starter doubles in size.
  4. Add the 3 eggs, sugar and salt and knead 2 minutes.
  5. Knead for another 5 minutes and add the butter through the hole in the lid, orange flower water and candied peel.
  6. When the timer stops, check the consistency (it should be very soft and sticky dough but not runny. If it looks too much like cake batter, add a couple of tbsp of flour and knead again for 1 minute.
  7. Tip out into a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rest for 3 hours in the fridge to firm up.
  8. Divide the dough in 4 equal parts and roll each into a snake shape making the ends slightly narrower than the center.
  9. Cross the ends twice and fold them over the loop. Turn the bretzel upside-down (to have the ends tucked in underneath) on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Do likewise with the other 3 doughs. You have those steps in images on the website Smittenkitchen.com (I forgot to take the pictures while making it).

    Image from Smittenkitchen.com

    Image from Smittenkitchen.com

  10. Place in a warm place (25C) and leave to rise for 40 minutes.
  11. Meanwhile, preheat the oven at 180C.
  12. Brush the bretzels with eggwash.
  13. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce to 170C and bake for another 20-25 minutes. Watch while it cooks and turn around the trays if one side gets browner (often the case with ovens with hot spots). Place aluminium foil over them if they darken too fast.
  14. While they bake, prepare the glaze by heating the water, sugar and orange flower water in the TM bowl 5 minutes/Varoma/speed 1/Measuring cup OFF.
  15. Brush the glaze over the Bretzels as soon as they are out of the oven. Leave to cool slightly before tucking in!

Bretzels_003

Christmas cupcakes

I have already posted a recipe for cupcakes here and here. This time, I show you how to make them look stunning for the festive season. For these, I have used 2 types of buttercream: one with butter and custard and the other with Philadephia and icing sugar. The latter is good for paler frosting (or white) as the amount of butter is minimal so it won’t have a yellow tint like the buttercream icing.

XmasCupcakes_005

XmasCupcakes_006

XmasCupcakesCollage

Ingredients

Chocolate cupcakes

For 12 to 15 cupcakes

200g butter, softened
200g caster sugar
4 beaten eggs
200g self raising flour, sieved
50g unsweetened cocoa powder, sieved

Custard buttercream recipe here

Philadelphia frosting
70g softened butter
200g Philadelphia, chilled and drained
400g icing sugar

XmasCupcakes_010

Method

  1. To make the cupcakes:
    1. Preheat the oven at 180C
    2. Whisk butter and sugar until pale and fluffy (Thermomix: use the butterfly whisk and mix 2 min/speed 3).
    3. Slowly add the beaten eggs (Thermomix speed 3).
    4. On low speed, add the self raising flour and cocoa powder (Thermomix: remove the butterfly whisk and mix 20sec/speed 3).
    5. Line muffin tray with cases and spoon the mixture into each until 2/3 full.
    6. Bake for 15 min for small cupcakes or 25 min for large ones.
    7. Leave to cool for 5 minutes then transfer onto a cool rack and wait until they are completely cold before icing.
  2. To make the frosting:
    1. Beat the butter until very soft (Thermomix 2 min/speed 3).
    2. Add the very cold Philadelphia and beat until combined (don’t overbeat or the Philadelphia will become more liquid) (Thermomix 30 sec/speed 3).
    3. Add half the icing sugar and beat together (Thermomix 5 sec/speed 3).
    4. Add the other half and mix again (5 sec/speed 3).
    5. Add colouring/flavouring if using and place in piping bag.
  3. To make the Santas: use a round nozzle (about 1cm wide) and pipe red custard buttercream in a circle starting from the edges of the cupcake. Sprinkle with red glitter. Pipe some whipped cream to make the fur around the coat. Use a sugar Santa head to place on top and 2 chocolate drops for the buttons.
  4. To make the Christmas trees: scoop out a little circle of the cupcake on top. Use a star shaped nozzle and pipe some green custard buttercream at the center. Place a strawberry on top of the icing and pipe more green buttercream starting from the base of the strawberry and piping outward to make each branch. Finish by making the top vertical branch and decorate with little coloured sugar sprinkles or spheres.XmasCupcakes_001 XmasCupcakes_002
  5. To make the icy looking cupcakes: use the Philadelphia frosting and colour with baby blue colour. Use a 2D nozzle (or any star nozzle) and pipe starting from the edge of the cupcake, swirling inward. Use cutters to make the shapes with rolling icing.

XmasCupcakes_007

Hot Choc lollies

Here is a great idea for a Christmas present that I found in my friend Nadine’s blog: Nuage de farine. These lollies are very pretty and would make a chocoholic friend very happy indeed!

HotChocLollies_001

Source: Nuage de farine

Ingredients
For 20 lollies

450g dark chocolate
45g sugar
Flavour of your choice: cinnamon, vanilla extract, chilli powder…

Method

  1. Melt the chocolate, sugar and spice in the TM bowl 3 min/50C/speed 3.
  2. Mix 3 min/speed 2 until smooth and the chocolate has reached 32C (stop the blades and remove lid before measuring the temperature with a probe).
  3. Pour into mini silicone moulds (about 2.5cl capacity).
  4. Leave to set in the fridge for 7 min and place wooden sticks in the middle of each mould (the chocolate needs to be slightly set but soft enough to easily dig the sticks).
  5. Let set completely in the fridge, unmould the lollies, wrap them in cellophane and tie with a ribbon if offering.
  6. Add following instructions with the lollies: melt 1 lolly in a mug of hot milk and enjoy!
  7. Note: the mini chocolate bars pictured above were made using only dark chocolate, melted the same way in the Thermomix and poured over a silicone mould, which I had previously sprinkled with dessicated coconuts…HotChocLollies_002

 

Chocolate butterflies

This is not really a recipe but an idea of decoration or Christmas present. I got these polycarbonate chocolate moulds and I used them to make lovely butterflies that look really nice on a cake. You can also offer them beautifully wrapped in a cellophane bag.

ChocButterfly_002 ChocButterfly_003

Ingredients
(For 5 butterflies as per mould pictured)

Candy melts (choose several pastel colours, 3 candy melt chips per colour)
250g dark chocolate

Method

  1. Temper the chocolate: melt it to 50-55C, then bring down the temperature to 28C (either by adding unmelted chocolate or pouring it out onto a marble slab). Reheat the chocolate gently to 31-32C and keep at that temperature until use. For the Thermomix method of tempering chocolate, go here and follow steps 7 to 9.
  2. Melt a small amount of candy melts in several containers (1 per colour) in the microwave in 30sec bursts.
  3. Using a toothpick, fill the depressions in the mould with the candy melts, alternating colours. Try to do 1 butterfly at a time and fill with the tempered chocolate straight away while the candy melt is still soft. If the melts cool before the chocolate is poured in, they will split from the chocolate when unmoulding.
  4. Leave to set in a cool place (8 to 10C) for 10 to 15 min.
  5. When completely set, free the chocolate butterflies.

ChocButterfly_001_01

Limoncello

I love to have a few types of liquors for cocktails and cooking but I don’t like the price tag, so whenever I see a way to make my own liquor, I go for it. This Italian lemon liquor is absolutely delicious. You can use Limoncello to flavour any lemon desserts: pana cotta, lemon tiramisu, ice cream, cakes… And also savoury dishes: in risottos, in sauces to serve with chicken, fish or seafood.

This is super easy to do but you need to think ahead because this takes 3 weeks to macerate and a few more weeks to reach optimum maturity. It could also be a great Christmas present!

Limoncello_001

Source: Les délices de Mimm

Ingredients

6 organic unwaxed lemons (you’ll only be using the zest)
350g sugar
1 l. Vodka (or 1/2 l. 90° alcohol and 1/2l. water)

Method

  1. Wash and dry the lemons. Carefully peel the zest to only get the yellow part (we don’t want the white bitter part).
  2. Place the alcohol in a jar with a lid (if using 90° alcohol, only use this, don’t add the water).
  3. Add the lemon zests into the alcohol and close the jar. Place in a dark cool place and leave for 3 weeks, shaking every so often.
  4. After 3 weeks, pour through a sieve to collect the alcohol (which will have turned yellow). Discard the zests.
  5. If using the Vodka, just add sugar to it and stir well until dissolved. If using the part 90° alcohol/part water: make a syrup with the water and sugar. Leave to cool and add to the alcohol.
  6. Pour into a bottle and tightly close the lid. Place in a cool dark place for at least 1 month to develop the flavours.
  7. Use in a recipe or drink (moderately!) with some ice cubes.

Salmon Terrine

I hope you all had a great time at Christmas with your family!

Today, the recipe is another festive dish and it comes from Aja as part of the Supertoinette recipe challenge of the month. It was a very successful starter with a lovely balance of flavours between the lemony salmon terrine, the salty smoked salmon and the creamy and sweet sauce.

Source: Aja

Ingredients

Serves 6 as a starter (can easily be doubled)

200g smoked salmon
400g fresh salmon
25g lemon juice
Dill or chives
2 tbsp mayonnaise
60g cream
1 gelatine leaf
Salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce:
100g Philadephia
50g mayonnaise
1 tbsp ketchup
Salt and pepper to taste
A few drops of Worcestershire sauce

Method

  1. Place the fresh salmon, cut into big chunks into the internal basket. Pour 500g water in the bowl, place the internal basket inside and cook for 12 min/100C/speed 1.
  2. Tip out and shred with a  fork and leave to cool down. Meanwhile, soak the gelatine leaf in cold water.
  3. Whip 50g cream in a separate bowl (for that quantity, I don’t use the Thermomix).
  4. Chop the dill or chives.
  5. Combine the chopped herbs, 2 tbsp of mayonnaise and the lemon juice. Mix in the cooked salmon.
  6. Gently fold in the whipped cream.
  7. Heat the remaining 10g of cream in a saucepan and add the soaked and drained gelatine leaf. Stir well until melted and leave to cool down for a couple of minutes.
  8. Then add this to the mayonnaise and salmon mix. Taste and add salt, pepper or more lemon juice if needed.
  9. Line ramequins dishes with cling film (or use individual silicone moulds) and line with the smoked salmon, cutting bits that hang out of the dish. Make sure there is no hole in the salmon lining.
  10. Pour the terrine in each dish/mould and cover with cling film.
  11. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours (you can also make this the day before).
  12. Before serving, make the sauce by combining all the sauce ingredients.
  13. Turn each ramequin onto a serving plate and serve with the sauce, a sprig of dill or chive and cooked prawns for decoration.
  14. Note: I cooked the prawns myself using the varoma: I placed 500g of water in the bowl and heated it for 6 minutes/Varoma/speed 1. Meanwhile, I coated the raw prawns with a bit of olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper. I placed them in the varoma and put the varoma on the bowl. I cooked them for 3 minutes/Varoma/speed 1 (I only had about 15 prawns so if you have more check after 3 minutes and add a couple of minutes more if needed). Don’t overcook the prawns! They are cooked when they are firm to the touch.

Rudolph the reindeer’s christmas log

In France, the traditional Christmas dessert is a genoise rolled and filled with flavoured creme au beurre, iced with more creme au beurre and decorated with little Christmas plastic figures.  It’s called a log as it should look like one: we use a fork to make the icing look like the bark of a tree and we use cut outs of the genoise to looks like stumps. This year however, I had my heart set on an original version of this dessert, which looks like Rudolph the red nose reindeer. I thought it would be fun for my little daughter so here it is…

Source: Mes gourmandises qu’on se le dise

Ingredients

Genoise
3 eggs
90g sugar
90g sieved flour
1/4 tsp baking powder

Creme au beurre
4 egg whites
170g icing sugar
250g softened butter
70g dark chocolate
70g chestnut purée (unsweetened if possible)

Decorations
40g dark chocolate
10g white chocolate
Cocoa powder
1 glacé cherry for the nose

Method

  1. The day before, make the genoise and creme au beurre:
  2. Preheat the oven at 180C.
  3. Prepare the genoise : put the eggs and sugar in the TM bowl with the butterfly whisk and mix 10 min/speed 3, measuring cup OFF. The mixture will triple in volume.
  4. Tip out into a bowl and add the sieved flour and baking powder. Mix delicately with a spatula with a folding motion.
  5. Line a baking tray with a buttered and floured baking parchment.
  6. Pour the genoise batter on the tray, spreading the mix with a spatula in a rectangle shape about 1 cm thick.
  7. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
  8. Wet a clean tea lightly towel by throwing drops of water all over (don’t over wet, it should just be humid).
  9. Leave to cool slightly before turning onto the tea towel and gently peel the parchment away, work slowly and if the genoise is stuck, use a spatula to release it gently.
  10. Straight away, roll into the tea towel like a swiss roll and leave to cool completely.

    Roll the genoise in the humid tea towel

  11. To make the creme au beurre : clean and dry the TM bowl thoroughly and place the butterfly whisk in it. Add the 4 egg whites and whisk 4 min/speed 3, measuring cup OFF.
  12. Whisk 5 min/70C/speed 3, measuring cup OFF and add progressively the icing sugar while whisking.
  13. When the 5 minutes are over, whisk on speed 3 for about 18 min or until the bowl is luke warm to the touch. You’ve just made Italian meringue using the Thermomix!
  14. Turn on the machine to speed 3 again and drop small pieces of softened butter through the hole in the lid. The mixture will turn into a foamy cream.

    Creme au beurre should have a creamy and light texture

  15. Tip 2/3 in a bowl and add 70g of chestnut purée. mix with a hand whisk.
  16. Melt the chocolate in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time and stirring between each cooking time until a few bits of unmelted chocolate subside. Mix to melt it and leave to cool before adding to the the 1/3 of creme au beurre that is left in the bowl. Mix 20 sec/speed 3.
  17. Unroll the genoise and spread 1/3 of the chesnut creme au beurre on one half of the sponge. Spread all of the chocolate creme au beurre on the other half.

    The chestnut cream and chocolate cream are spread on the genoise.

  18. Roll the genoise and cut each end to have a clean edge.
  19. Cling film and refrigerate with the remaining creme au beurre until the next day (!! caution though if you don’t have a powerful electric whisk, see next step).

    Roll and cling film, then refrigerate until the next day.

  20. On the day, leave the creme au beurre at room temperature for 30 minutes to soften. Whisk well and spread over the rolled genoise to cover it all over. I had a little problem with my cream, it looked like the butter had split so I used my Kitchenaid to whisk at the maximum speed and it brought it back to normal. If you don’t have a Kitchenaid, it would be preferable to spread the creme au beurre on the rolled genoise the day before…
  21. Dust with sieved cocoa powder.
  22. To make the antlers: draw a template on a piece of paper. Use an acetate sheet (you can find them in an office supply store, it’s the transparent sheet used for retro-projectors) and place on top of the paper.
  23. Melt the dark chocolate and apply with a brush on the acetate sheet following your tempate. Apply a few coats to make the antlers nice and thick, it would be easier to handle later.
  24. Do the same for the eyes using white chocolate and dark chocolate (I used a toothpick to apply rather than the brush as it’s more finecky). Leave in the fridge for 10 minutes and carefully lift off the acetate sheet. Make the shiny side visible on the log for a better finish.
  25. Use a glacé cherry for the nose and voilá !

Don’t be scared by the number of steps, this cake will need patience but nothing is really complicated.

Happy Christmas to all!

 

Spiced Christmas trees

There are a few recipes for beautiful biscuits stacked as a Christmas tree on the blogosphere but this one caught my eye because the biscuits are delicately spiced with ginger, aniseed, nutmeg and other spices a bit like a ginger biscuit. They are really easy to make and fun to assemble (kids will love to give a hand) and would really look a picture on the Christmas table as edible decorations!

Source: J’en reprendrai bien un bout

Ingredients

220g plain flour
60g icing sugar
1 pinch of sea salt
1/2 tsp ground allspice (or mixed spices)
1/2 tsp ground aniseed (I put cinnamon instead)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 drop of almond extract (optional)
160g unsalted butter, slightly softened and cut into cubes (if using salted, omit the sea salt)

Royal icing (that will make plenty)
1 egg white
250g icing sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice

Method

  1. Place all the biscuits ingredients in the TM bowl and mix a few seconds speed 6 until the dough just clings together (don’t overmix).
  2. Tip out onto a big piece of cling film and form into a flat ball, wrap well and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  3. Before rolling the dough, preheat the oven at 160C.
  4. Roll the dough to 3 mm thick and cut out star shapes of different sizes (I used 5 different sizes but a minimum of 3 would do as well).
  5. Place on a baking tray and bake for 10 to 15 minutes (the edges should be firm to the touch).
  6. Let the biscuits cool down. Meanwhile, make the royal icing: mix all the ingredients together until you obtain a paste that is not too thick nor too runny.
  7. Place the icing into a piping bag with a small round nozzle (if you don’t have a nozzle, make a very small cut at the tip of the piping bag instead).
  8. When the biscuits are cool, stack them up using the royal icing as a glue and decoration. You can stack 3 big stars, followed by 3 middle size and 3 small ones for instance. Sprinkle with silver sugar balls, white flakes or icing sugar.
  9. Let them dry 1 hour before keeping them in a tupperware box until needed (these are great to make up to a week in advance!)

Pain d’épices (spiced bread)

This is a very traditional cake made around Christmas time in France. If you ever get to go to a French Christmas market, you’ll certainly see some of those on the stall and might be offered a slice along with some mulled wine. There isn’t a specific region that can claim this recipe as it can be traced in Alsace, Dijon and Reims. But it’s specificity is that it’s sweetened principally with honey and contains ground spices such as cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and aniseed. This particular recipe comes from Physalis who contributes to the Thermomix forum of Supertoinette. It’s been passed from generation to generation in her family and I can see why as it’s one of the best pains d’épices I ever tasted. It’s moist and wonderfully flavoured, in a word: delicious!

Source: Physalis

Ingredients

300g plain flour
60g butter
150g dark brown sugar (muscovado or demerera will work well)
150g honey
1 pinch salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
125g milk
1 tsp baking powder

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (170C fan oven).
  2.  Melt the butter in the TM bowl 3min/90C/speed 1.
  3. Add the honey and sugar and mix 10sec/speed3.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, salt, egg and milk and mix 10 sec/speed 6 to get a smooth batter.
  5. Pour into a buttered loaf tin (I poured half, dotted teaspoons of orange marmalade here and there and poured the other half of the batter on top).
  6. Bake for 45 minutes (check the colour and cover with foil if it browns too quickly). Then turn down the heat to 150C and continue cooking for 15 minutes. Check the cake is cooked by using a skewer or toothpick that should come out clean.
  7. Let it cool down and brush with a couple of tablespoons of warmed honey and decorate with pearl sugar or spices.
  8. After a day, to bring this cake back to freshness, cut into slices and place in your toaster on the lowest setting and you can spread butter on it for an even richer taste (that’s the way people from Alsace eat it!)

 

Chocolats faits maison (Handmade Chocolates)

This is the sixth and last recipe from the panier gourmand and I saved the best for last. These treats are sure to impress and can be a bit finecky but are worth the time and effort, I promise! I made 3 sorts: black and white chocolates, dark chocolates filled with an almond praline and dark chocolates filled with butter caramel. You will need special silicone moulds for these. They are available on internet or in specialist shops. You will also need dark chocolate with 55% cocoa. the reason being is that these have a higher content in cocoa butter, which will help the tempering process as explained below.

Black and White Chocolates

(Source: La main á la pâte)

Makes 30 chocolates

Ingredients

250g good quality white chocolate cut in chunks (I used Valrhona)
250g Dark chocolate (55% cocoa) cut in chunks

Method

  1. Chop the white chocolate in the TM bowl 15 sec/raising the speed progressively from 5 to 10
  2. Scrape down the bowl and cook for 4 min/50C/speed 2 (the chocolate must be smooth and completely melted)
  3. Pour into half the moulds. Tap the mould to remove air bubbles.
  4. Let it set in the fridge.
  5. Clean the bowl and proceed the same way with the dark Chocolate.
  6. Pour into the mould until it reaches the top and scrape with the back of a long knife to remove the excess chocolate.
  7. Set in the fridge for 10 minutes or until completely set, then unmould.

 

Dark chocolates filled with almond praline

(Source: La main á la pate)

Makes 30 chocolates

Ingredients

200g dark chocolate (55% cocoa is better) cut in chunks

Almond praline

150g dark chocolate, cut into chunks
200g whole almonds (mine were blanched)
40g skimmed milk powder
200g icing sugar

Method

  1. First, make the chocolate praline: put the almonds in the bowl and mix for 20 sec/speed 8 until it is a fine powder
  2. Add the icing sugar and the milk powder and cook 5 min/100C/speed 3. Repeat several times until the mixture releases oil.
  3. Tip out and reserve.
  4. Put the 150g chocolate in the bowl and melt 5 min/50C/speed 2.
  5. Add the almond powder to the chocolate and mix 20 sec/speed 3. It should be quite thick (as in picture) and will thicken as it cools down.
  6. Tip out and reserve.
  7. Now, onto the chocolate cases. We are going to temper the chocolate. First we set the chocolate at about 38C, then we use the unmelted chocolate to add crystals to the mixture and cool down the chocolate to about 25C. Finally, we need to raise the temperature to about 30C to completely temper the chocolate. Why temper the chocolate you may ask? This is to have a beautiful shine on your chocolates and avoid white streaks, which would not look good.
  8. Melt the chocolate in the TM bowl for 3 min/50C/speed 2. There will be bits of chocolates not melted so continue mixing without heat for 2 minutes until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture has cooled down a little (if you have a thermometer, you can check that it is down to 25C)
  9. Heat again the chocolate for 2 min/37C/speed 2. It is now ready to pour into the silicone moulds. Fill the moulds completely, tap the mould a few times to remove air bubbles, then empty the content back into the bowl.
  10. Most of the chocolate will fall back in the bowl but there will be enough to coat the inside of the mould.
  11. Scrape out the excess and let the chocolate rest upside-down onto a grid resting on parchment paper to let the excess drip
  12. Set the chocolate in the fridge for 10 minutes (see picture)
  13. Fill the moulds with a nut size praline mixture and pour the rest of the chocolate on top.
  14. Scrape out the excess and set again in the fridge
  15. When the chocolate is well set, unmould.

 

Butter caramel chocolates

Makes 30 chocolates

Ingredients

200g dark chocolate (55% cocoa)
1 pot of butter caramel

Method

  1. Melt the chocolate in the TM bowl for 3 min/50C/speed 2. There will be bits of chocolates not melted so continue mixing without heat for 2 minutes until all the chocolate is melted and cool down the mixture
  2. Heat again the chocolate for 2 min/37C/speed 2. It is now ready to pour into the silicone moulds. Fill the moulds completely, tap the mould a few times to remove air bubbles, then empty the content back into the bowl.
  3. Most of the chocolate will fall back in the bowl but there will be enough to coat the inside of the mould.
  4. Scrape out the excess and let the chocolate rest upside-down onto a grid resting on parchment paper to let the excess drip
  5. Set the chocolate in the fridge for 10 minutes
  6. Fill the mould with the butter caramel and pour the rest of the chocolate on top (see picture).
  7. Scrape out the excess and set again in the fridge
  8. When the chocolate is well set, unmould.

Note: if you have leftover chocolate, you can use less deep silicone moulds to make “friture”, which are just plain chocolates in different shapes as pictured