Coconut Financiers with Tropical Fruits

I bake with coconut often. This is the only nut my kid can eat. And besides, I like the taste. For these financiers I went with good quality dry papaya and pineapple as a topping, the ones that can be found in a health food section. I prefer the fruits in chubby chunks rather than thinly sliced, the latter are quite tough and excessively chewy. If you are luckier than we are and live in a warmer and dryer place where berries are in season, scatter some fresh raspberries over the top of the cakes instead of the dry fruits, if you prefer.

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Valentino Cake as a Box of Chocolate

Behind the camouflage is this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge – flourless chocolate cake. I needed to put a batch of fondant to some use (I made the fondant earlier for another project that was cancelled). So, I turned the cake into a box full of chocolate. First, I spread the cake with a thin layer of strawberry jam, covered it with sour cream ganache, and then decorated with the fondant. By all means, don’t get me wrong – I’ve never believed that the fondant is a tasty addition.  It’s always been considered as a pretty and quite effective storing container (way more air-tight than a cake dome). The fondant was peeled off later and never eaten.

As for the cake, it was good; not great, not the best one I’ve had, but definitely – pretty good. I think, the cake would benefit from more delicate water-bath baking.

The optional part of this challenge was an ice cream to accompany the cake. And I did make a frozen dessert (not exactly the ice cream) to go with the cake. It was roasted strawberry and thyme sherbet. But I have to apologize here, since I’m not posting this recipe now. I’ll do it within a couple of days.

This challenge was hosted by Wendy at wmpesblog and Dharm at Dad – Baker and Chef and the recipe used is an adaptation of Chef Wan’s.

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Swedish Princess Cake

This classic Swedish cake was a birthday present to my very dear friend’s daughter. She liked it living back in Europe during her delicate childhood years (the girl is 17 now and what a beauty she is). Traditionally, the cake composed of three layers of génoise filled with a bit of strawberry (sometimes, raspberry) jam, pastry cream, and topped (more, than generously) with whipped cream. This quite loose construction is wrapped in pale-green marzipan (nobody knows why it’s green). The cake doesn’t last. The marzipan simply melts from the direct contact with cream. And I desperately needed this cake to spend a night in a fridge. Looking for the solution, I found Bo Friberg’s advice to spread a layer of buttercream over the rolled marzipan. How does it sound to you? I didn’t find his tip very much appealing. Instead, I baked an extra génoise sheet, cut it into wedges, and lined a bowl. Then I proceeded with an upside-down assembly. Once unmolded, the cake was covered with a thin layer of buttercream. And after a couple of hours in the fridge, it was ready to be covered with marzipan. This extra work might be unnecessary if you plan to serve the cake the same day you make it. If this is a case, assemble the cake as it’s usually done, freeze it briefly, then wrap in marzipan. Unfortunately, I can’t show you a slice. But I sketched some diagram below to explain my way of assembling this cake.

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Some Like It Hot: Fig and Chile Chocolate Cake with Cinnamon Ice Cream

For me, it’s like heaven on earth. I’m mad about spicy chocolate; Dagoba’s “Xocolatl” is my all time favorite bar. And this cake is my favorite flourless chocolate cake. It’s spiced just enough (you won’t burn your palate, don’t worry). The texture is reminiscent of dense chocolate mousse. And I love this light crunch the figs give to the cake.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner it might be just a thing to serve. Let me put it this way… if you are looking forward to a marriage proposal, make the cake. It will definitely facilitate the event. Make the ice cream to go with the cake, and I can guarantee you a happy family life (at least for a year, then… repeat the cake).

Grace from “A Southern Grace”, with whom I share my love to spicy food and cinnamon, is hosting a wonderful event this month – “Cinnamon Celebration”. Since this dessert has plenty of cinnamon it goes right there.

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Vanilla Bean Cranberry Coffeecake

Vanilla beans possess a miraculous power to transform quite ordinary things into something different, something more interesting and exciting. This is one of the examples – very simple yet delicious coffeecake; perfect solution when you need a quick-fix dessert with a guaranteed result.

The recipe is adapted from the December issue of the “Gourmet”.

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Not Quite a Fruitcake

I’m willing to admit that my opinion regarding the fruitcakes might be preconceived. I am planning to experiment next season; it is too late now. Now we are eating the moist pound cake where the part of the flour is replaced by ground almonds, studded with brandy-soaked dry fruits and glazed with marmalade/Grand Marnier glaze.

As for the decoration, I had some fun with home-made fondant, the recipe of which was adapted from Toba Garret. In my opinion, it’s the most precise and reliable fondant recipe available. I will be posting it later. Santas decorating idea belongs to Carol Deacon.

Merry Christmas once again!

The cake goes to Jugalbandi January CLICK event – RED.

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