So this happened. Sometimes, life gives you corn it hasn’t even taken the time to make sweet and juicy. Can you believe it? Life, what a joker. As it turn out, corn kernels don’t make good limonade. But they do make awesome popcorn. I’m not going to give you a recipe for popcorn because, let’s be honest, it’d be insulting and you’re not quite worth the effort. However, I’d give you a little tip. While your corn pops and gets into its famous final form, get a little pan, put sugar and butter in it, and make a caramel. Toss in honey, a little cream, and pour over the freshly pop’d corn. Let it set…and there you go. Homemade toffee popcorn, and bowl that’ll take age to clean off. Yeah, I love you long time.
Let’s make this simple, I have been away. It’s not that you didn’t deserve me, it’s just that you didn’t quite make the cut. It’s not you, it’s me. Let’s just be friends. I’m doing this for you. And now that we’ve had our fill of clichés, I suggest we move on to this soft and sticky goodness of a cake up there, yes?
Yellow cake and its sticly salted caramel icing of renewed friendship:
Ingredients for one thick cake:
- 1 cup butter (salted. Anything else is garbage)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 eggs well beaten (like you mean it)
- 1 cup whole milk (or buttermilk)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Ingredients for one slick icing:
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup salted butter
- 1/2 cup heavy cream, plus extra if you overheat the sugar
- 1 Tteaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven at 180°. Set aside one round cake pan that you’ll have buttered up like a redhead kid at the beach.
For the cake: Whisk the softened butter with the sugar until it’s creamy. Add in the beaten eggs little by little, until it’s still completely creamy. Yeah, creamy creamy. Creamy. Now’s the fun part.
Add the flour and baking powder cup by cup, intersecting 1/4 cup of whole milk between each. Now, since you guys are all rocket scientists, you’ll have noticed you have 1/2 cup of milk left to use. Mix it in last along with the vanilla extract, using it to make sure there are no lumps left.
Pour that batter in the pan, and bake for 25 minutes. Use the usual knife test to make sure I’m not lying when I say 25 minutes. This is not an invitation, don’t come to my place with a knife, I will call the police. Once it’s ready, let it cool down a bit then invert in a nice plate to let it cool off completely.
Meanwhile, in icing land: Now the cake’s cooling fast, you’ll need to get working on that sticky icing. Put 1/4 cup of sugar into a first saucepan, and the remaining sugar into another. In that second saucepan, you’ll also need to put the butter and the thick cream.
Now, you’ll have to be strong, since both caramels will be cooking at the same time. Have your saucepan with just the sugar start a bit later than the creamy one. Bring the cream, butter and sugar mixture to a boil and stir occasionally. Once the other caramel starts to get dark and really fluid, you can pour it into the boiling cream, adding a taste of burnt caramel to the whole. Now, let the remaining saucepan on the fire until the caramel is ready, that’s when a drop of it into cold water forms a soft, gummy ball.
Let it cool down a bit, then give it a good whisk using a bain-marie and more cream if the thing gets too hard. Let the bowl sit on top of a bigger one filled with hot water and set out to cover the cake with the caramel, using an offset spatula. It’ll stick but it’ll also set pretty fast, so don’t panic and be mindful of any details you’ll want to create / hide with that icing.
Best served with: Dark Cherry tea.
This is not for the feeble at heart. You know the Belgian people. They are fierce, blood thirsty and they’ve all been trained in the secret arts of assassination. They’re also the masters of waffles, and one can’t help but think they can’t be so innocent in that enterprise either.
Liege Waffles for the strong of heart:
Ingredients for about 16 waffles:
- 300gr + 200gr flour
- 70gr + 200gr butter
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons dried yest or 3/4th off a cube of fresh yest (best)
- 70gr granulated sugar
- 300gr pearl sugar
Mix the warm water and the yeast together. Add the granulated sugar and let it rest for a while. If you’re using the budding kind of yeast, let it forth for 10 minutes until it smells like a men’s locker room and looks like a freshly served German beer.
Pour 300gr of flour in a large bowl. Add in the smaller portion of soft butter and the eggs. Mix well, adding the water and yest little by little. Once that’s done, pour the remaining 200gr of melted butter. Let the resulting batter rest for a while. 15 minutes later, you can sift the remaining flour.
Let the dough rise for at least an hour.
Preheat your waffle maker. Once it’s piping hot, pour the pearl sugar and stir gently. Using an ice scream scoop, form generous ball of dough and start making waffles!
Don’t let it cook to much, the whole point of the pearl sugar is to caramelise the outer shell of these treats. So you’ll have to be careful, and to clean the waffle maker’s plates every now and then with paper tissue so that the caramel doesn’t get too overburned.
Well that’s it then, enjoy now!
Best served with: Lemonade.
Apple and Gingerbread Tiramisu is one of the best desserts I’ve tasted. It’s also quite perfect for Fall. You know, Fall, that time when poets tell you about freaking leaves and stuff. Fall isn’t about that, it’s about people giving you truckloads of apples, and you’ve got no idea what to do with it. So here I am, a true poet, and I offer you this prose.
Gingerbread and Apple Tiramisu:
Ingredients for about 10:
- 3 big apples
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 30gr of butter
- 250gr of mascarpone (thick cream cheese, look it up)
- 3 eggs
- 50gr sugar
- 1 pack of vanilla sugar
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- About 7 thick slices of gingerbread
- OR 20 speculoos biscuits (gingerbread cookies)
Skin and dice the apples. Small dices, it’s a lady’s dessert. Put them in a pan and brown them a bit, adding the honey, vanilla sugar and cinnamon. Let it caramelize, but don’t overdo it. When the apples are just the right colour but still juicy, drain them and keep the juice: you’ll need it later.
Separate the egg whites and yolks. Whisk the yolks with the sugar, then add the mascarpone. Beat the whites into stiff, stiff peaks and carefully add them to the mascarpone mixture.
Crumble the gingerbread in average pieces. Throw them in the pan you’ve used for the apples over medium low heat, adding the juice. Let it “brown” a bit, you should get the crumbles to somewhat harden on the outside but stay quite soft on the inside.
Now, pour half the gingerbread in whatever container you’ve chosen: it can be glasses, one for each guest, or just a plain old baking tray. If you plan to eat it all yourself in front of the TV, why not. Layer it with half the mascarpone blend, then the remaining gingerbread, the apples, and finally the second half of mascarpone.
Let it all set in the fridge for 2 hours at least. Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a warm caramel or speculoos sauce. Or nothing, because it’s THAT good.
Best served with: Red Tea.
Baozis are a perfect autumn and of course winter treat. They are little steamed brioches that melt in your mouth, little pieces of couldy pastry which fills you with warmth. It’s also quite versatile, and depending on what you’ve got in store, they can be as sugary or savoury as you want. But this is autumn, so I went with delightful chestnut jam.
Heavenly Baozis, with chestnut jam filling:
by Benoit Rajalu
Ingredients for 12 brioches:
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1/4 cup caster sugar
- 2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 cube of fresh yest, or 2 teaspoons activated dry yeast
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 1/2 cup chestnut jam
This is pretty straightforward. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the warm water, yeast and butter together, then pour over the flour, sugar and baking powder mixture.
Knead until you get an elastic, not too sticky dough. Let it rise for one, two or three hours, it needs to double in size at least. Use that time to prepare 12 squares of sulfurised paper, make them about 7 by 7cm.
When it’s done, prepare your steam cooker. Make a roll with the dough, and cut 12 pieces off it, making little balls out of these.
When the steam is blazing hot, flatten the balls, pour 1 teaspoon of jam inside, fold the sides over the jam, and seal the newly-formed ball with a pinching and twisting gesture. Place the balls face down on the sulfurised paper.
Steam them four by four if you can, for about 10 minutes, then enjoy while it’s warm.
Baozis keep well enough in an air-thight container. You just have to steam them again right before serving.
Best served with: Black Tea
I wanted to tackle the challenge of macarons. Long story short, I did it. Yeah, it’s been a while but I’ll try to post a bit more. So about the macarons. They’re not as tricky as they are said to be, if you have enough prep time and the right tools, you can’t really mess them up that much. You have to know what you are able to do and stick to that. I know I can do lemon curd and chocolate ganache, so I did: nothing that complicated.
Manly chocolate maracons:
Ingredients for the shells:
- 3 egg whites
- 225gr confectionery sugar
- 125gr almond powder
- 25gr caster sugar and two tablespoons of water
Ingredients for the ganache:
- 200gr chocolate (any kind you like)
- 100gr liquid cream
- 50gr butter
Separate the egg whites the day before.
Mix and sift the confectionery sugar and the almond powder together.
Using a mechanical whisk, beat the whites into as solid a snow you can get. In the meantime if you can, bring the sugary water to a boil, until it reaches 110°C. Pour it in the whites. Add in food coloring if you want to go all girly.
Pour the almond and sugar mix over the eggs, and fold it carefully until well blended, but not too liquid. Pour the mixture in a piping bag with a medium round tip.
Prepare an even number of dome-shaped shells on a lined baking tray. You might want to slam down your baking tray to even the domes a bit and get the air out of the shells (I didn’t, hence the shape). Let them sit for about an hour, it’ll make the outer shells a bit more firm and smooth once baked.
Use that time to prepare the ganache, and preheat your oven at 150°C.. Nothing easier: pour the boiling cream over the chocolate broken in pieces. Mix until smooth, and add the diced butter, stirring thoroughly without adding air to the blend.
Now it’s time to bake. 12 minutes at 150°C will do, let the shells cool down and sort them out in pairs of the same size. Like your socks.
Assemble! Don’t make me tell you how it’s done, it would be shameful.
Best served with: Unicorns and cinnamon milk.
I wanted to tackle the challenge of macarons. Long story short, I only partly succeed, but in the process of reaching this half-failure, I made a full success. Namely, homemade creamy lemon curd. With scones. With brioche. Sandwiched between two meringues. The perfectly fresh and zesty treat for summer. Or winter. I had made it, it was mine. Miiiiine. My…preciouuus.
Precious creamy lemon curd:
- 3 eggs
- 150gr sugar
- 55gr butter
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- 3 lemons’ juices
Prepare a bain-marie. Once again, that is a lager container full of boiling water in which you plunge another smaller container used to softly cook fragile ingredients.
In the smaller container (I use two saucepans, personally), pour sugar, eggs and lemon juice. Whisking constantly, let it thicken. The longer you let it take, the thicker your final lemon curd. I’d say go for 30 minutes and you’ll be fine.
Taking the saucepan out of the bain-marie, add the diced butter and lemon zest to the preparation, always whisking thoroughly.
Once that’s done, you’ll just have to let it cool down. The curd will then solidify, so pour it down in any jar you have saved for such a noble purpose. It keeps well in the fridge, over a week at least.
Best served with: Scones and coffee.