Apricot Coconut Mini Crumble Cookies

apricot-coconut-mini-crumble-cookies

These are very tasty cookies – buttery, sweet, crumbly, with a distinct coconut flavour and a hint of lemon in the filling. They are sort of a cross between jam tarts, sugar cookies, and crumbles. I spotted the idea in the Gourmet magazine, but their recipe was a bit off and I also needed to replace almonds, so that’s what I’ve come up with.

Miniature food, although always cute, can be a pain to unmold. If you can’t really trust your mini muffin pan, if it caused a trouble before, I advise you to line the bottoms of the molds with parchment circles. It’s easier than it might seem, just fold a strip of parchment accordion style, and then cut out many circles at once. And another tip I wanted to share. The best tool for loosening these cookies (or anything else) from the mini-molds is a thin-bladed palette knife; works like a charm and can be purchased in any craft store.

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Homemade Dog/Burger Buns

Hotdog buns

With the grilling season upon us, I thought I’d share this recipe, adapted from the Gourmet magazine. You might ask why trouble yourself with making such commonly-available thing as a hotdog bun, but you’ll understand it once you try this recipe. It makes truly outstanding buns – soft, tender, delicious. Yes, there’s cream in the dough (which contributes to the buns’ amazing texture), but divided between all buns, there’s not as crazy-much cholesterol. And anyway, hotdogs were never quite a diet food, weren’t they?

If you have a bread maker, you can just dump everything there to make the dough. I admit, I do use my bread machine for dough-making purposes once in a while, when I hurry while multitasking and need to have the dough ready at a certain moment.

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Lemon and Basil Strawberry Trifle

Lemon and Basil Strawberry Trifle

This is truly a spring-celebrating dessert. Light lemon génoise cake is soaked in tangy, Limoncello-spiked syrup, layered with fragrant basil strawberry salad and white chocolate crème Chantilly. White chocolate doesn’t just add interest to the whole flavour palette, it also stabilizes the cream, so the dessert can be completely assembled a day before. I roasted half of the strawberries to boost the flavour, but if you are lucky to get well-ripened ones, you can skip this step.

Here the dessert is shown in individual (they were surely advertised like individual) bowls, but frankly, these particular bowls are too big for a single serving (the recipe makes 6 of those). I recommend assembling a trifle in a big bowl, only making it from three layers of cake. You will be able to feed a crowd then – at least 16. From the other hand, you could choose smaller glasses for these trifles and make real individual desserts.

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Minecraft Pig Cake

minecraft-pig-cake-2

This was my son’s birthday cake this year; he is into Minecraft nowadays. The cake seems pretty simple, isn’t? Well, it is not. The difficulty is to be able to attach all these tiny squares to the cake and meet your deadline. It’s not a topper that you can make in advance and stretch the process over days; you have to do it fast enough to serve the cake still fresh. It took me 24 hours straight – a day and a whole night (what can’t a loving mother do for her child…). So, if you are thinking about recreating this idea, find a helper who would do pig’s rear while you are gluing squares to its head.

Inside was a lemon cake moistened with lemon syrup and filled with gentle color of pink strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream to match the pig’s exterior. The size of the pig’s body was 8″x5″x4″ and the head was a 4″ cube – an enormous surface to cover with tiny mosaic pieces, beware!

Click to see more photos…

Chicken Liver Pâté with Red Wine-Poached Figs and Caramelized Spicy Walnuts

chicken-pate

Since a long time ago this liver pâté recipe from an old issue of the Gourmet magazine has become a staple in our house. It makes a lot, but since it keeps so well and can be frozen I prefer to make a bigger batch. It’s nice to give a little ramekin to your guests to take home with them (it’s always appreciated and never declined).

I like to pair the pâté with sweet and spicy walnuts and figs poached in red wine. The taste combo is unbelievably good and the presentation is very attractive.

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Eggnog Cream Puffs

eggnog-cream-puffs

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

This is a little seasonal twist on the traditional pastries. The filling is eggnog-flavoured pastry cream, lightened with a bit of whipped cream. If you wish, you can dip the tops into caramel or chocolate glaze, but even plain and unadorned the cream puffs taste great. They are easy enough to be put together on a short notice if needed, but also can be made in advance (all the components) and only assembled the day you plan to serve them.

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