Category Archives: Fruits and Berries

The Land of the Midnight Sun

So…it’s been a while. I blame it on the summer holiday, or lack thereof. I’ve spent three months back home in Norway now and I’ve been working most of the time. I have cooked and baked, I just haven’t had the time to blog about it. I have just returned to New York and I have about a week off before school starts so I thought I would take the time to blog about at least one of the things I’ve made this summer. I went away twice this summer, a week in London and a week in the North of Norway. In the North I visited my grandparents who live in a small town right by the mountains and the fjord. It’s a really beautiful part of Norway, very different from Oslo. I was there in the middle of the summer when there is 24 hr sunlight. It feels very strange because the sun really never sets, it’s always light out which makes it really hard to go to sleep at a reasonable hour.

I took this picture around midnight, from my grandparents’ garden.

But I really loved going there this summer, just to experience the nature, the sea, and of course to spend some time with my family. I always eat well when I’m up there. My grandmother bakes really good bread and she always has a couple of nice cakes ready to go. While I was there, the rhubarb in the garden was growing by the day, so I made rhubarb pies a couple of times. They were very good, but we Norwegians live for strawberry season so I knew I had to make something with strawberries. Then, I spotted this recipe in a magazine and I knew that this was the cake I wanted to make. It was really delicious, fairly simple to make, and very different from anything I’ve made before. I followed the recipe to a tee, but if I were to make this cake again I would make a few changes. Instead of using half of the oat crackers on top of the cake, I would mix in a couple more tablespoons of melted butter and made a firm crust under the cake instead. Also, I’m not a big fan of cognac, so I would just leave that out.

Here’s me with the cake, mountains and fjord in the background.

The top of my cake, my dad showed me how to slice the strawberries so they would look nice. (The one on the bottom, the one that doesn’t look so nice, that’s the one I sliced)

Frozen strawberry cheesecake

(yields about 12 slices)

300 g oat crackers (or Graham crackers)

3 tbsp butter, melted

3 eggs

250 g cream cheese

1.5 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 tbsp vanilla sugar)

1 dl powdered sugar

1 orange

3 dl whipping cream

500 g fresh strawberries

4 tbsp cognac (optional)

Directions:

  1. Lightly butter a 24 cm spring form pan.
  2. Crush the crackers and add the melted butter. Add half of the crackers to the cake pan and press down with your hands so that all the crumbs are packed firmly (or add all the crumbs now, instead of using half on the top of the cake).
  3. Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Mix the yolks with the cream cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar until the texture is creamy. Zest the orange and add the zest to the mixture.
  4. Whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. In a separate bowl, whip the cream.
  5. Mix the cheese mixture with the egg whites and the whipped cream.
  6. Mash the strawberries with some powdered sugar and the cognac, if using.
  7. Pour half of the cheese/cream mixture on top of your cake base, and spread all of the strawberries on top. Follow with the rest of the cheese mixture, then the rest of your oat cracker crumbs (unless you used it all for the base of the cake).
  8. Cover your cake and place in the freezer for at least four hours. Take it out of the freezer and place on a serving dish 30 minutes before serving. Decorate with fresh strawberries.
  9. Enjoy!

Source: melk.no

Looks pretty good, non?

Another picture from my adventure in the North.

Thanks for stopping by!

Orange Tian

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

I’m not sure how I feel about this challenge. It was exciting to make because I have never had a tian before, yet there was nothing new about the techniques used for making this dessert. The flavour of the finished tian was great, but I think I would have preferred a fruit salad with whipped cream. The tian consisted of four layers and a caramel sauce to go over the top. The bottom layer was a Pate Sablee, followed by a layer of orange marmalade, then whipped cream, and finally orange segments on the top. The most fun part about this challenge was segmenting the oranges and making the marmalade. A few years ago I watched a TV show where a chef was demonstrating how to segment oranges, I never thought that was something I needed to know, but I think this just proves that TV can be educational and I shouldn’t feel bad when I’m watching Grey’s Anatomy instead of studying… 😉 Hands down the most tasty /best part of this challenge: the raw pate sablee dough before it was baked. So, so yummy.

The thing I didn’t like about this challenge was that if felt so much like the previous challenge, Tiramisu; Only a little bit of baking, a lot of cream, and then just assembling layers. When I joined the Daring Bakers I thought there would be more baking involved (obviously), something with baking powder or yeast, but lately it just feels like we’re making desserts without doing much baking. Also, even though the pate sable dough tasted great, it was a pain to roll out. I don’t know what went wrong because I followed the directions exactly… but a big “thank you” to my mom for doing the work after I decided to give up and was contemplating whether or not I should just eat the whole dough raw.

In the end though, I was happy with the result. I decided to flavour some of the whipped cream with cocoa powder and I substituted grapefruits for some of the oranges. Now I’m just crossing my fingers that the next challenge will be something that is more baking-related.

Thanks for stopping by folks!

Halloween

I guess you can call this post long over-due, but I have had my boyfriend over from Norway this week so I didn’t really want to spend my time blogging. But here goes the story of my first Halloween in USA.

My first Halloween in the US is over, and what a day it was! I was looking forward to this day for a long time and I was really enjoying planning out my costume and what treats to make. All the food blogs I follow have been filled with Halloween-inspired recipes, mostly involving pumpkin and candy corn. It was really hard to decide on what to make, but I think what I settled on turned out pretty good. Despite the rain in New York on Halloween night, we had a really fun celebration. We had good food, good drinks and good friends…everything you need for a memorable night. It was so much fun just walking around our neighbourhood, seeing all the little kids dressed up to go trick or treating.

Here we are all dressed up and ready to go out. We each represent one drink you would often find in a liquor cabinet. From top left: Myself as Jameson Irish Whisky, Grey Goose Vodka, Johnnie Walker, Southern Comfort, Sake, and Jose Cuervo. I don’t really like whisky, but it was fun to dress up like a leprechaun and walk around with a pot of gold!

Halloween was a good excuse for me to really go all out in the kitchen, as I knew I would have a lot of friends to share everything with. I settled on making caramel apples, sugar cookies and of course a batch of cupcakes. For the cupcakes I used this recipe with the chocolate frosting and half a batch of the vanilla frosting from this post. Since I have tried that recipe before I knew the cupcakes would turn out great, but I wanted to do something more fun so I decided to try and make a two-tone frosting. I filled one side of the pastry bag with chocolate and the other side with vanilla. This being my first try I was pretty happy with the result, but I know it will look better after a few more tries.

I have never made caramel apples before so I decided to “cheat” a little. Instead of spending money on a candy thermometer and going to the trouble of making my own caramel, I bought a couple of bags of Werther’s Original Chewy Caramel and melted them in a pan with a little heavy cream. This really worked wonderfully and the apples were so good! I really like how shiny and nice they turned out, this is definitely something I will make again.

Caramel Apple Recipe

6 apples of your choice (I used McIntosh)

3 150 g (5.5 oz) bags of chewy caramels

3 tbsp heavy cream

Directions:

  1. Remove the stem from the apples and press a craft stick or chop stick into the top, about half way into the apples.
  2. Find a tray that will fit all the apples and line it with wax paper or parchment paper sprayed with oil.
  3. Heat the caramels slowly in a pan over low heat. As the caramels start to melt, add the cream.
  4. Continue to stir until the caramels are melted and allow to cool briefly.
  5. Roll each apple in the caramel and place on the tray. Put in the fridge immediately so the caramel sets.

Source: Cooking Dunkin style

The sugar cookies were my biggest project for this Halloween. I have never tried sugar cookies, let alone made them. Many blogs, including some of my favourites have featured these types of cookies, all decorated beautifully. Since this was my first attempt I didn’t expect them to be perfect, but I was really surprised by how well they turned out. I’m actually pretty pleased with the result. I think I will try to make these cookies again before Christmas, using different shapes and colours. For Halloween, I settled on ghosts, pumpkins, and spider web cookies. Decorating with royal icing was so much fun, but it does require a lot of time and patience.

Sugar Cookie Recipe

1 cup (2 sticks/ 230 g) butter, softened at room temperature

1 cup (225 g) sugar

1 egg

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract (or 3 tsp vanilla sugar)

3 cups (375 g) all purpose flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Add in the egg and the vanilla extract, and beat to incorporate.
  3. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt (and vanilla sugar, if using).
  4. Slowly add the flour to the butter mixture and beat until combined.
  5. Divide the dough into 2-4 portions (depending on the size of your baking sheet), and roll to just under 1 cm (3/8 inch) thickness.
  6. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours. Before you remove the dough from the fridge, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
  7. Remove dough from fridge and cut your desired shapes. Remove the scraps and place sheet back in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. Repeat steps 5 through 7 with the scraps.
  8. Bake in the oven for 8-12 minutes depending on the thickness of your cookies (mine were a little thin, so 8 minutes was enough).
  9. Cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Source: Adapted from The Hungry Housewife

Royal Icing Recipe

4 cups (500 g) powdered sugar

2 tbsp meringue powder

5 tbsp water

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a hand mixer. Mix on low speed until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance (about 7-10 minutes).
  2. Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to an air-tight container. This will be the stiffest consistency of the icing, and at this point it is still too stiff to use for decorating. Add water a very small amount at a time and stir by hand until fully incorporated. Continue until the icing has reached a consistency appropriate for piping. Portion out the icing in different containers and add the colourings you are using.
  3. Using a pastry bag, pipe around the edges of each cookie. Let stand so the icing will set. Make sure to keep the leftover icing covered at all times when not in use so that it does not begin to harden.
  4. Once all the cookies have been edged, transfer some of the remaining icing to a separate air-tight container. Thin out by incorporating a small amount of water at a time, until the icing drips off the spoon easily when lifted and then smoothes in with that still in the bowl. If you go too far and the icing is too thin, add more sifted powdered sugar to thicken it again.
  5. Once the icing has reached the desired consistency, transfer it to a squeeze bottle (or a plastic bag with a hole in one corner), and flood the area surrounded by the piping on each cookie. If it does not completely spread to the edges, use a toothpick to help it along.
  6. Allow the cookies to dry and set overnight before putting them in containers.

Source: Annie’s Eats

For the ghosts I edged the cookies with white icing and used the thick black icing to pipe the eyes and the mouth. I then flooded the ghosts with thin white icing. For the pumpkins I used the thick black icing to make the “stems”, and edged the pumpkin with the thick white and then flooded with the thin white. I then immediately sprinkled on a thick layer of orange sprinkles. For the spider web cookies, I did the edges in thick black, and then flooded with thin black. I then used the thin white and piped three concentric circles over the black. Using a tooth pick, I made a line going from the centre of the cookie and out to the edge. Be sure to wipe off the tooth pick between each line you make.

Before you make sugar cookies I would recommend checking out these posts by Annie, Leslie, and Bridget

Good luck with these cookies, and thanks for stopping by!

Raspberry Cheesecake Brownie

Have you ever been in a situation where you had to choose between a brownie and a cheesecake? I have, many times, and I always end up with the brownie. Well, now you don’t have to make that choice as I bring you the Cheesecake Brownie! Seriously, this must be one of the top ten creations ever invented (at least in the cake world). What’s not to like? Brownie – mmm, Cheesecake – mmm, Raspberry whipped cream – mmm… This cake even looks as good as it tastes, with one brown layer, one white, and one pink. As usual, this recipe is from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. I’m getting worried that if I reproduce any more of their recipes they might sue me, so I have decided not to print the recipe this time. What you do is make your favourite brownie recipe and pour it into a 33 x 23 x 5-cm baking tray. Top that layer with your favourite cheesecake filling (American style, not fridge-set style, a half batch is probably enough), and bake in the oven at 170°C (325°F) for 30-40 minutes. The cheesecake should be light golden around the edges. Leave cake to cool completely, then refrigerate for at least two hours, preferably overnight. I over-baked the brownie a little so be sure you check the cake after 30 minutes.

I made this cake for a dinner party last week, but unfortunately the party was cancelled so Brittany and I were stuck with all this deliciousness all to ourselves. We gave some away, but we still had this for dessert basically every day for a week. The dinner party was actually back on this week so I made a new dessert, will post it in a couple of weeks. While we are on the subject of this dinner party I want to say thank you to all of Brittany’s amazing friends (you know who you are) who have welcomed me into their group. It has been so nice to get to know you all and I am looking forward to many more dinner parties and other events to come. It makes me really happy when you say that you enjoy my baking so you can expect more where that is coming from!

I will definitely make this cake again and again. It looks really fancy and the taste is unbeatable, but it is also simple to make.

What else is new? Well, I haven’t done much out of the ordinary lately. Studying, eating, sleeping, exercising, relaxing, drinking etc. We are getting ready for Halloween now and I am so exited for my first Halloween over here. I think we have decided on a pretty fantastic theme for our costumes; we’re going as different drinks you would find in a liquor cabinet! I will try to post some pictures some time in the near future. Until then, enjoy the fall colours and make yourself a treat! Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

To make the raspberry frosting you need:

300 ml whipping cream

100 g icing sugar

150 g raspberries

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk with an electric mixer until firm but not stiff.

Spread over the cake and decorate with extra raspberries. Enjoy!

Blueberry Cake

When I was younger I used to go out in the forest and pick wild blueberries with my parents. We would freeze some of them so that we had blueberries throughout the winter. Yummy! When I moved to London I was really surprised to see that I couldn’t buy wild blueberries in the supermarket. I could only get those huge blue things with a whitish flesh which don’t really taste much at all, certainly not of blueberries. This is why I was so happy last week when I realised they sold wild blueberries at Whole Foods Market here in New York. I bought a box and had them with yogurt and oats for breakfast throughout the week. As the weekend approached I wanted to make something special with blueberries, I browsed my recipes and settled on this fabulous cake from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook (of course!). Imagine my disappointment when I went back to Whole Foods and they didn’t have any more wild blueberries! I had to settle for the boring kind, but the cake still turned out really good. I just can’t help to think how amazing it would have been with proper blueberries! I don’t really have any comments on this recipe besides how good this cake is! I made it a week ago and I finished the last piece yesterday, a little dry now but still good. The recipe calls for a 25 cm ring mould but I only had a 24 cm. I didn’t think that would make much difference, but I had so much batter I ended up with TWO cakes and two cupcakes! I think making half is sufficient if you only want one cake, but why not just freeze one? It can be frozen unfrosted and will probably keep for three months.

So, try to get your hands on some wild blueberries before it’s too late and make this cake, which not only tastes great but looks very pretty too!

Recipe (makes 2 cakes)

350 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

350 g caster sugar

6 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

450 g plain flour

2 tbsp + 2 tsp baking powder

280 ml soured cream

250 g fresh blueberries, plus extra to decorate

Cream cheese frosting (recipe follows)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F). Grease and dust a 25 cm ring mould.
  2. Mix sugar and butter and cream until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time while mixing well, be sure to scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl.
  4. Beat in the vanilla extract, flour and baking powder until well mixed.
  5. Add the soured cream and mix well until everything is combined and the mixture is light and fluffy (at this point the batter was so delicious I ate about 2 tbsp right there and then).
  6. Gently stir in the blueberries by hand until evenly dispersed.
  7. Pour the mixture into the ring mould (about ¾ full) and smooth over with a palette knife or a spatula. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, until golden brown.
  8. Leave the cake to cool slightly in the mould before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. When the cake is cold, cover the top and sides with Cream Cheese Frosting and decorate with more blueberries. A light dusting of icing sugar also looks nice on the blueberries.

Cream Cheese Frosting (for 12 cupcakes, or 1 cake)

300 g icing sugar, sifted

50 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

125 g cream cheese, cold

Directions:

  1. Beat the icing sugar and butter on medium- slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.
  2. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until it is completely incorporated.
  3. Turn the mixer up to high speed and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. It can become runny, so do not overbeat.

Source: the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook