Cocoa Nib Pudding

This pudding is so creamy, so wonderfully smooth, so delicately flavored. I wish the picture could have been more persuasive. The lack of decent daylight here adversely affects the quality of the photographs. But you can trust my words – this pudding is very much worth to be made. It can be enjoyed warm, cool, or chilled. If you are not quite fond of a pudding skin, press plastic wrap directly against the surface as soon as you poured the pudding into serving bowls. I usually skip this step.

The recipe is from the “Bittersweet”.

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Chocolate Basil Crinkles

Chocolate Basil Crinkles

Basil pairs nicely with chocolate, well, at least in my opinion. The crinkles are not the only chocolate things I flavor with this herb. I like to flavor French chocolate ganache tart and pots de crème with basil, it is lovely. If you are not convinced, you can chose a different flavoring for the cookies. Go with mint, coffee, orange zest, cinnamon/cayenne – just to name a few. To ensure the cookies get their thin sugary crust and dramatic bright contrasting black-snowwhite appearance, they have to be rolled into granulated sugar first, and only then into icing sugar. This extra step will prevent the confectioners’ sugar from melting which otherwise will produce an unpleasant yellowish build-up resembling a layer of fat on the surface of the overnight-refrigerated stew. When I’m not in a rush (unfortunately, it’s not recently the case), I love to make the crinkles tiny, using a teaspoon for measuring the dough. They are so cute in this hazelnut size.

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Honigkuchenwürfel (Honey Cake Squares)

Thanksgiving is finally over everywhere and now I can return to my cookies, this time – very christmasy ones. I’ve been willing to share this recipe for a while but it didn’t seem quite appropriate back then. This is a traditional German lebkuchen sandwiched with a moist and flavorful filling of apricot jam, raisins, candied orange peel, and toasted almonds. The dough is a variation of the well known in North America gingerbread, but the taste here is far more complex and interesting. The honey takes place over the molasses, and the spices differ, with the cardamom playing the first role. The cake is intensely spiced, sweet, moist, and although it’s very good freshly made; the flavor and texture are getting even better over time. So, it’s best to bake the lebkuchen right now and keep them until around Christmas. I baked the first trial batch about two weeks ago, and by this time the squares (well, a couple of survivors) have turned into the moist (not wet or soggy) delectable confection-like treat, so perfect with a cup of coffee or strong tea.

The recipe is adapted from an old charming book “Festive Baking – holiday classics in the Swiss, German, and Austrian traditions” by Sarah Kelly Iaia.

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