Category Archives: cake

Amaretti Tiramisu

Standard

Tiramisu
So Italian week continues and this time I bring to you something Dolce. What comes to mind mind when anyone thinks of a classic Italian dessert?  Tiramisu, of course! Every Italian restaurant has it on the menu and it’s a frequent visitor to our house. Not too many things work so beautifully together as strong espresso and silky smooth mascarpone. I call this particular recipe Instant Tiramisu because instead of traditional crisp Savoiardi ladyfingers that take a couple of hours to soak up coffee and liquor I used already soft amaretti cookies or Amaretti Morbidi. I absolutely adore these little cookies in Tiramisu. They bring beautiful almond flavour into the mix making it even more desirable and impossible to stop eating! Also, they are little round guys which makes them fit perfectly in the individual mason jars that I used this time.  A quick side note about the mason jars, they might not be the most original things as they get used a lot but for a good reason! They provide perfect personal portions and you can always pop a lid on them and stick them in the fridge until dinner time. Tiramisu One of the characteristics of true Italian cooking is very few but good quality ingredients. This Tiramisu recipe is no exception. Tiramisu (prep)
Ingredients: {Serves 4}

  • Amaretti biscuits (soft or crisp)-  20-24
  • Espresso or strong coffee- 2 shots/2 oz
  • Mascarpone-1 cup/250 ml
  • Whipping cream- 1 cup/250 ml
  • Icing sugar- 1/4 cup
  • Vanilla -2 tsp.
  • Rum or marsala, brandy etc.- 4-6 tsp.
  • Cocoa for dusting- 3-4 tsp.
  • Chocolate, shaved

Method:

Traditionally Tiramisu cream topping is made of mixture of mascarpone, sugar and egg yolks but using raw eggs could be unsafe so the eggs are often replaced with whipping cream.

Make two shots of espresso if you have an espresso machine or 2 oz of very strong coffee. Divide your amaretti cookies among 4 mason jars or glasses. Pour 1/2 of espresso shot in each glass over the cookies and 1 tsp. of rum.

Whip mascarpone and cream with icing sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form, it will take about 5 minutes. Divide your mascarpone mixture evenly among 4 jars.Tiramisu (prep)

Dust with cocoa.
Amaretti Tiramisu
Or… Shave some chocolate using a cheese slicer or a knife.Tiramisu (prep)
And pile on top.Amaretti Tiramisu
I am still trying to wrap my head around how something so SIMPLE and QUICK could be pure Heaven.
Amaretti Tiramisu

Cornish Toffee Honeycomb Pumpkin Muffins

Standard

Cornish Toffee Honeycomb Pumpkin Muffins
‘Tis the season for every kind of pumpkin flavoured treat to make an appearance. Great news for everyone but is there really a recipe worth sharing that hasn’t been done before??
I’ve thought long and hard as I love bringing you things new and fresh. Here is the result. Moist and flavourful pumpkin muffins with Cornish toffee and sprinkled with honeycomb pieces. I’ve never baked anything with honeycomb before but when I saw it at a shop I was immediately inspired. Growing up, the only way I ever ate pumpkin was pumpkin roasted with honey. Naturally, combining pumpkin and honey in a muffin just screamed childhood to me! Then I added caramel flavoured toffee…just for fun. Can you see all the toffee bits in there?

I didn’t know what to expect but what I got was a crackled muffin top because honeycomb melted and seeped into the muffins and toffee studded bottom!Cornish Toffee Honeycomb Pumpkin Muffins
AMAZING!
Cornish Toffee Honeycomb Pumpkin Muffins
They are so so so tasty I can’t stop eating them! I said “I” but what is meant is that my kids can’t stop eating them. 😉

Ingredients: ( Makes 3 dozen/36 muffins)

  • 4 1/2 c. flour
  • Baking Powder-3 tsp.
  • Baking Soda-2 tsp.
  • Salt- 1 1/2 tsp.
  • Cinnamon-3 tsp.
  • Pumpkin Spice (nutmeg, cloves, ginger)- 1 tsp.
  • Oil-2 cups
  • Demerara Sugar- 2 1/2 cups
  • Eggs- 6 large
  • Pumpkin puree- 28 oz (1 large can or use your own like I did)
  • Cornish Toffee- 1/2 cup/100 gr
  • Honeycomb pieces-1/2 cup/100gr

Cornish Toffee Honeycomb Pumpkin Muffins

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 325F/150C. Line your muffin tin with paper liners.

2. In a large bowl (remember it’s a very big recipe) combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin spice.  Use a stand mixer if you have one or a hand mixer.

3. Add oil, sugar,  eggs, pumpkin puree  and toffee and mix well. Fill your muffin cups 2/3 full and sprinkle with honeycomb pieces. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. Repeat. Twice.

Cornish Toffee Honeycomb Pumpkin Muffins
Can you imagine the aroma that wafts through your house while you are baking three batches of muffins? Indescribable.
Cornish Toffee Honeycomb Pumpkin Muffins

Apple Spice Streusel Cake with Salted Caramel Drizzle

Standard

Apple Spice Cake with Salted Caramel Drizzle
Don’t you think autumn is the ideal time to bake? There is plenty of fruit that’s been just harvested but the temperature is not scorching hot anymore which makes a warm oven is quite welcome. Especially when it is a cheaper substitute for central heating!

This cake is my take on a well-beloved zucchini loaf except instead of zucchini I am using shredded apples. They add the same amount of moisture to the cake and so much more aroma and flavour! Just look at the raw material I was working with!

Apple Spice Streusel Cake with Salted Caramel Drizzle
You are going to fall in love with this cake because it has the familiar taste of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves we so crave in the fall and the little extras like streusel top and salted caramel drizzle take it to the next level. I also lightned up the cake by using only 1/2 cup of oil and a reduced amount of sugar. I’ve used Demerara sugar, which has more nutrients and minerals than regular white sugar, it’s light brown, raw and has a natural caramel flavour that hasn’t been refined out!Apple Spice Streusel Cake with Salted Caramel Drizzle
Ingredients:

For the Cake

  • Apples- 4 medium (3 cups shredded)
  • Sugar ( I used Demerara/Turbinado sugar)-11/4 cup
  • Oil-1/2 cup
  • Eggs-4 large
  • Flour-3 cups
  • Baking soda- 2 tsp.
  • Baking powder-1/2 tsp.
  • Salt-1 tsp.
  • Cinnamon- 1 tsp.
  • Mixed Spice- 1/2 tsp.
  • Nutmeg- 1/4 tsp.

For the Streusel Topping

  • Flour-5 1/2 tbsp.
  • Sugar (Demerara/Turbinado)-5 tbsp.
  • Cinnamon- 1/4 tsp.
  • Mixed Spice- 1/4 tsp.
  • Nutmeg- 1/4 tsp.
  • Butter, slightly softened- 3 tbsp.
  • Walnuts (chopped)- 1/4 cup

Salted Caramel Drizzle ( I used pre-made Marks and Spencer brand)-2-3 tbs.

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C

2. Grease the bottom only but not the sides of a 9″ round pan. Springform pan works the best as it makes it easier to remove the cake after it’s been baked.  Shred the apples with skin on and mix together with sugar, oil and eggs in a large bowl. Stir in the remaining ingredients (cake ingredients only). Pour the batter into your pan and smooth the top.

3. Mix together the streusel ingredients in a small bowl with a fork or use your hands.  The streusel won’t be crumbly but will have the consistency of a cookie batter. Pinch of small bits and cover the surface of the cake.

4. Bake for 60 minutes or until the toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.

5. Let cool for 30 minutes, then loosen the sides of the cake and remove it from the pan. Drizzle with pre-made salted caramel in any way your imagination allows. (If you caramel sauce is a bit stiff put it in the microwave for 30 seconds, that should help to get it runny and only use a good quality brand you trust. :-))

Even though this cake is incredibly soft and flavourful, the best part of it is the crunchy streusel top drenched in caramel. Pure indulgence!

Apple Spice Streusel Cake with Salted Caramel Drizzle

Apple Spice Streusel Cake with Caramel Drizzle

Raspberry Almond Muffins

Standard

Raspberry Almond Muffins
I woke up this morning to the sound of the rain, not a terrible thing I suppose if you can stay dry and cozy inside. There is was another thing though that kept my mood gloomy. Brad was leaving for a work trip to Sri Lanka and we have a long history of being away from each other through the years due to travelling. The longest one was 9 months during our engagement. He spent it in Nepal and I lived in the Philippines. To this days it was a wonderful and the most dreadful year of my life.

In order to snap out my misery I decided I needed to keep busy while the kids were at school. I thought it would be a pleasant surprise for them to walk into the house that smelled of warm and fragrant muffins- amazingly fluffy muffins filled with raspberries, the last remnant of the summer!

Raspberry Almond MuffinsRaspberry Almond Muffins
Ingredients: { Makes 12}

  • Flour- 2 cups
  • Sugar- 3/4 cup
  • Baking powder-1 1/2 tsp.
  • Baking soda- 1/2 tsp.
  • Salt-1/2 tsp.
  • Sour Cream- 1 cup ( I used reduced fat)
  • Milk- 1/2 cup
  • Vegetable oil- 1/4 cup
  • Almond extract (or use vanilla if you don’t like almond)- 1/2 tsp.
  • Eggs- 2 large
  • Raspberries (fresh or frozen)- 1 cup
  • Sliced Almonds- 1-2 tbsp.

Method:

Preheat oven to 400F/200C. Line your muffin pan with paper liners.

In large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a smaller bowl whisk sour cream, milk, oil, almond extract and eggs.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and combine until blended, then gently fold in raspberries.

Divide the batter among 12 muffin cups and sprinkle sliced almonds on top. Bake for 20 minutes, test with a toothpick for doneness, it should come out clean. {I also dusted them with a tinge of powdered sugar once they cooled a bit}. Yum!

These muffins are truly gorgeous. My son said that “raspberries make them very refreshing”. 🙂 I just love how children express themselves!

Raspberry Almond Muffins
Being busy definitely helped so it’s fair to expect a lot more baking in the next two weeks.

The recipe was adapted from  “The New Good Housekeeping Cookbook”.

Crumb Apricot Cheesecake

Standard

Crumb Apricot Cheesecake
Do you have a recipe you’ve made so many times you know it by heart? Better yet, was that recipe passed on to you by your momma? The one I am about to share with you is one of those recipes. The first time I made it I was in my early teens and since then I’ve made it hundreds of times…literally. It was my mom and my “go to recipe” when there was only about half an hour between a phone call and guests appearing on our doorsteps.  We made it so many times we used every kind of fruit filling possible. I thought we exhausted all the options but I was wrong.

Last Saturday morning I woke up with a strong urge to bake and I knew I was craving something Slavic. 🙂 That’s right it’s a thing. I made a dash to the closest Polish shop and picked up a pound of farmer’s cheese. It was a good start. When I grabbed the closest to me cookbook an old, marked with food stains piece of paper fell out. I grinned widely when I picked it up. The precious sheet of paper contained a collection of our family’s favourite recipes typed up by my mom and sent to me when I left for college in America. Bingo! That’s exactly what I needed.

Crumb Apricot Cheesecake
If you follow my blog you’d know that when it comes to recipes nothing is sacred to me. I love to change things up and what started out as my mom’s favourite recipe became highly experimental at some point of the process. Needless to say, I was beyond pleased when I cut into it (after hours of waiting for it to cool) and found out the risk payed off!
What my mom and I always made was essentially a seasonal fruit encased in rich and buttery pastry but somehow I ended up with a fruit cheesecake with a buttery crust and almond crumb topping. Pure luxury.
Crumb Apricot Cheesecake
Have I convinced you that you too need it in your life?

Ingredients:

For the pastry:

  • Flour-2 1/2cups
  • Butter- 1 cup/250 gr.
  • Sugar- 1 cup
  • Egg- 1
  • Baking powder-1/2 tsp

For the filling:

  • Apricots- 12
  • Farmer’s Cheese (Tvorog)/Cream Cheese- 500 gr/16 oz
  • Eggs -2
  • Sugar- 1 cup
  • Semolina- 2 tbsp.
  • Vanilla bean/Vanilla extract- seeds from 1 vanilla bean/ 1 tsp.
  • Ground Almonds ( for the topping)- 1/4 cup

Method:

In the food processor combine flour, cold butter, sugar and baking powder, pulse until the  mixture resembles fine bread crumbs, add the egg and pulse until just combined.  (This could also be easily done in a regular bowl with a pastry blender.) Take the pastry out of the food processor, it will be soft.  Pinch off 1/3 of the pastry, wrap it in a plastic wrap and put in the freezer. Wrap the rest in the plastic wrap as well and put this portion in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Crumb Apricot Cheesecake

Now let’s take care of the filling.  Cut your apricots in half and pit them. Set aside. (I also planned to use the red and black currants at first but then changed my mind and that is why they are in the picture.)

Combine farmer’s cheese or cream cheese, eggs, sugar, semolina and vanilla bean seeds in a large bowl using a hand mixer until smooth or a food processor if you want your farmer’s cheese to be less grainy. ( I processed mine in the food processor for a silky consistency.)

When the pastry is finished chilling take it out of the fridge and roll it out to fit an 9″ springform pan lining the bottom and the sides all the way to the top. Don’t worry if your pastry tears, just take the overhanging pieces and patch up the holes! That pastry is very pliable and forgiving. When your springform pan is lined all the way put it back in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Then take it out of the fridge and fill it with the cheese filling and top with apricots.

Crumb Apricot Cheesecake
Now it’s time to get your crumb topping out of the freezer. In Russia this dessert is called “Tertiy Pirog”, which literally means “Grated Pastry” because the top is being frozen and then grated directly on the filling with a vegetable grater like so.
Crumb Apricot Cheesecake
I decided to toss my crumbs with ground almonds for an extra indulgence. Trim off your overhanging sides and press them gently in to blend with the crumb topping. When the pastry casing bakes it magically all blends together beautifully.

Put it in the preheated oven at 350F/180C and bake for 50 minutes or until golden. Cool it for an hour until cool to the touch and then chill it in the refrigerator for at least 2 more hours to ensure the cheese filling in cooled completely. (Waiting for it was the hardest part for me. :-)) Crumb Apricot CheesecakeDust with additional powdered sugar if desired and enjoy with a cup of tea!
Crumb Apricot CheesecakeCrumb Apricot Cheesecake

Mega Chocolate Cake and a Summer Picnic

Standard

Mega Chocolate Cake
What do children of a food blogger want to do with their mom? They want to bake! Sounds simple , right, except that I am a bit of a control freak in the kitchen and seeing flour, sugar and eggs being flung about is not an easy task for me to endure. 🙂 Well, one overcast afternoon we were running out of things to do and baking a cake seemed like a great plan. I am not going to lie, things were no less messy than I expected. There are no pictures of the process because I was too scared to bring my camera into the kitchen, but the end result exceeded everybody’s expectations. Hours of fun together and the most delicious, chocolaty fudgy cake to show for it baked entirely by Mitchell and Vika. This momma was so proud! I am going to shut up now and let the pictures tell the story of what went on after the cake came out of the oven.

PicnicMega Chocolate CakePicnic Mega Chocolate CakeMega Chocolate CakeMega Chocolate CakeMega Chocolate Cake and a Summer PicnicSummer PicnicMega Chocolate CakeSummer picnicSummer PicnicSummer PicnicSummer Picnic
I am sure I don’t need to convince you how simple this recipe is since my 7 and 9 year olds mastered it. The entire cake is made in the food processor, poured into a pan and then baked. The most straightforward recipe ever, which is why the stellar results completely astounded me! This just goes to prove food doesn’t have to be complex to be delicious.
Ingredients:

  • Bitter-sweet Chocolate-7 oz/ 1 cup of chocolate chips
  • Butter-3/4 cup plus extra for greasing
  • Soft Brown Sugar-2/3 cup
  • Skinned Almonds (I used ground almonds)-2/3 cup
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder- 2 tbsp.
  • Salt- a pinch
  • Eggs- 4 large
  • Flour- 1 1/3 cup
  • Baking Powder- 1 1/2 tsp.
  • White Chocolate (roughly chopped)- 1/2 cup
  • Whipped Cream or Vanilla Ice cream for serving

Method:

Preheat your oven to 325F/160C

Break up your chocolate into squares and put it in the food processor along with butter, sugar, almonds, cocoa powder and salt. Pulse until smooth. With the motor still running crack one egg at a time, then add flour and baking powder. Done!! Just make sure the batter is smooth.

Grease a rectangular 9×13 baking dish and dust it with a bit of cocoa powder. Pour the cake batter into the pan and scatter the white chocolate chunks over it (The original recipe by Jamie Oliver called for soft fudge pieces but I didn’t have any.) Bake for 18-20 minutes. Serve warm with a bit of whipped cream or ice-cream. The warm cake was incredibly fudgy and gooey – as you can see on the picture below – so after being prim and proper and eating it from our own plates, we abandoned that boring business and dove right into the cake pan!

Mega Chocolate Cake
Note: The recipe was slightly adapted from Jamie Oliver’s “Jamie’s Food Revolution”.

Rhubarb Blackberry Cobbler with Cornish Clotted Cream

Standard

Rhubarb Blackberry Cobbler with Cornish Clotted Cream
As much as I love chocolate when the summer months come around all I want is to indulge in fruit and berries- blueberry smoothies for breakfast, peaches and apricots for snacks, strawberries and cream for dessert, rhubarb and blackberry cobbler for tea time. Fruit galore! Who’s with me?
Rhubarb Blackberry Cobbler with Cornish Clotted Cream
The tea time in England is nearly a sacred ceremony and I couldn’t feel more at home with it. A love for tea and tea cakes is something the Brits and the Russians have shared for centuries. And it turns out the same goes for rhubarb. The rhubarb in Britain is said to be cultivated from the seeds imported from Russia in the 17th century, which in turn were brought over from China and were considered a prized possession along with tea and opium. The name rhubarb is believed to originate from a combination of two words “Rha”, an ancient name for the Russian River Volga on the banks of which rhubarb grew wildly and “barbaros”-foreign. There you have it-even the humblest of things can have very exotic roots.

The rhubarb blackberry cobbler I am sharing today is something I’ve made for years and we never get tired of it.  Whenever I bring it to a party without a fail I get asked for the recipe. It’s that good. Oh forget modesty. It’s utterly brilliant! Warm and delicious with natural flavours of tangy rhubarb and sweet blackberry this cobbler is only made better by a touch famous Cornish Clotted Cream or Cornish Clotted Ice Cream for hot summer days.

Rhubarb Blackberry Cobbler with Cornish Clotted CreamRhubarb Blackberry Cobbler with Cornish Clotted Cream
Ingredients:

  • Fresh Rhubarb cut into 1/2 inch pieces-5 cups/1.250 kg
  • Blackberries- 1 cup/250 gr
  • Sugar- 1 cup/250 ml

For the Topping:

  • Flour- 1 cup/ 250 ml
  • Baking Powder- 1 1/2 tsp
  • Sugar- 1/4 cup/60 ml
  • Salt-1/4 tsp.
  • Butter- 1/3 cup/75 ml
  • Rolled Oats (not instant)-1/2 cup/125 ml
  • Milk- 2/3 cup/150 ml
  • Granulated sugar for sprinkling (optional)-1 tbsp.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C (180C for a fan assisted oven)

Put diced rhubarb with blackberries in a baking dish or a deep cast iron skillet and pour sugar over, stir to combine.

For the topping, mix flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in butter until the mixture is crumbly, then add oats and combine everything together, add milk and stir until just moistened. Drop spoonfuls on the rhubarb blackberry mixture leaving spaces here and there. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of sugar.

Bake uncovered for 40 minutes until the rhubarb is cooked and the top is golden and crusty. Serve warm at tea time with a dollop of Cornish Clotted Cream or Ice Cream.

Rhubarb Blackberry Cobbler with Cornish Clotted CreamRhubarb Blackberry Cobbler with Cornish Clotted CreamRhubarb Blackberry Cobbler with Cornish Clotted Cream Blackberry Rhubarb Cobbler

Frasier Torte or Happy Birthday Mitchell and Canada

Standard

Frasier Torte
Happy Canada Day, eh!

Like all Canadians I am patriotic but never more than when I am away from Canada which is why  this maple leaf cake is the first   one I ever baked in honour of the national holiday. In our family July 1st is more known as our first born Mitchell’s birthday but today it’s about both. There is a huge party on Trafalgar Square today and my little Canucks can’t wait to go and celebrate with the rest of the ex-pats in London. We hear the Mounties are making an appearance. I hope they are brining their horses!

I couldn’t think of a better cake for the occasion than a classic Frasier Torte- a layer of lemon and vanilla scented sponge topped with a light and silky strawberry mousse. A perfect cake for a perfect summer day for my beautiful boy. I still can’t believe he is 9!!

Mitchell

Ingredients for the sponge:

  • eggs-3 large at room temperature
  • sugar-1/2 cup
  • lemon juice-1/2 lemon
  • finely grated lemon zest- from 1/2 lemon
  • flour-1/2 cup
  • salt-1/4 teaspoon
  • unsalted butter, melted-1 tablespoon
  • vanilla extract-1/2 teaspoon

Ingredients for Strawberry Mousse:

  • Eggs (separated)- 2
  • Superfine sugar-4 tbsp.
  • Strawberries (processed in a food processor to a pulp)- 3/4 cup
  • Gelatine-4 tsp.
  • Water-3 tbsp.
  • Whipping Cream- 1 1/2 cup
  • Strawberries, cut in half (to line the sides of the cake) -2 cups plus extra for decorating the top of the cake

Frasier Torte

Method for the sponge:

Preheat the oven to 325F/ 160C. Line your 9-inch springform cake pan with parchment, don’t grease the sides and set aside. Whip the eggs and sugar on high speed until they are white and more than triple in volume, then add the zest and juice of 1/2 lemon.

Sift the flour and salt together, add both to the egg mixture. In a small bowl melt a tablespoon of butter in the microwave and stir vanilla into it.  Spoon a cup of the batter into that bowl and stir everything together, then add this all back to the full batter and stir gently until blended, don’t over mix as it will result in a cake that won’t rise very much.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the centre of the cake springs back when gently pressed. Cool the cake completely in the pan.

While the cake is cooling prepare the mousse.

Method for the mousse:

Beat the egg yolk and sugar until light, then whisk in the processed strawberries. Sprinkle the gelatine over the water in a small bowl and allow to go spongy, then put in the microwave for 30-40 seconds until the gelatine has dissolved. Stir in the mousse.

Whip the cream until holding its shape and fold into the mousse. Whisk the egg whites until standing in soft peaks, then fold in. Let stand in a cool place until starting to set for about 30 minutes.

To assemble the cake:

Run a knife along the side of the pan to loosen the cake and take it out, peel the parchment off. Wash the pan and dry well and put the cake back in the pan. Cut the strawberries in half and arrange closely together alongside the walls of the pan with a cut side touching the pan. Pour the mousse in the pan and smooth the top. Cover with cling wrap and put in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours.

Before serving un-mold the cake and decorate with remaining strawberries. I went for the maple leaf design in honour of Canada Day at my son’s request.

Frasier Torte- Vanilla Sponge and Fresh Strawberries set in Strawberry Mousse
This cake is truly beautiful and impressive but if you prefer chocolate over vanilla you can try Chocolate Strawberry Mousse Cake I baked a few months ago.

Note: The sponge recipe was adapted for Anna Olson’s Frasier Torte

Wild Things Cupcakes or Happy Birthday Vika!

Standard

Vanilla Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting I am so excited to finally being able to blog about the cupcakes that made my little girl’s birthday extra special.
Creating something new for my children every year on their birthday is not just fun for them but also an enjoyable challenge for me. Every year when they present me with a request (like a Sonic the Hedgehog or Hello Kitty cake) I am never sure if I can pull it off but after a little bit of research and trial and error I seem to end up with something we all love.

This year was no different except that Vika couldn’t settle on ONE cake  she wanted. I also lacked the inspiration and skill to deliver on her requests until I stumbled upon something very special by Sweetapolita who is my number one stop for anything cake and confection related. Vika is a huge animal lover and has a really soft spot for puppies so when I saw these hand stamped cupcakes by Rosie of Sweetapolita I knew exactly what I needed. Rubber stamps! The great thing about these cupcakes is that depending on a stamp you can create a great variety of cupcakes toppers. You never have to repeat yourself.Lemon Vanilla Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting

Lemon Vanilla Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting and Fondant Medallions
I was delighted with how they turned out. All my hard work paid off when I saw the excitement and joy in my daughter’s eyes! These cupcakes were just perfect for a little girl’s birthday party as the cake toppers themselves evoked images of a child’s drawings. Don’t you think? And the tea towel that served as a back drop was made using the “self-portraits” of  the children in Vika’s class! Here is one done by Vika.:-)

Lemon Vanilla Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting and Fondant Medallions

You can use any cake recipe and any frosting recipe but you do need fondant, never used rubber stamps, paste food colours and a small brush to make these. Here is what I did.

A day (or a week ahead) ahead:

Roll out fondant as thin as you can on an icing sugar dusted surface and cut out medallions to fit the diameter of your cupcakes. Make sure you dust your surface well with icing sugar as fondant tends to be pretty sticky. Lay them out and dry overnight. I live in England where it’s often rainy so I really struggled to get my toppers very dry, and at one point I had a humidifier going for a while to draw all the moisture out!

As soon as your fondant toppers are dry you can stamp them. I used paste food colour (Dusky Pink by Sugarflair) with just a drop of water in it, then I painted each stamp with a small paint brush and stamped the toppers. Rosie of Sweetapolita made a great tutorial on her website if you would like more details. If you have ever used a rubber stamp before you can quickly master this technique.

Ingredients for the cupcakes {Makes 24}:

  • Cake Flour- 2 1/2 cups/275 gr
  • Baking powder- 1tbsp.
  • Salt- 1/2 tsp.
  • Kefir or Buttermilk (I used Kefir)- 1 cup
  • Eggs-1 large at room temperature
  • Egg whites- 2 large at rooms temperature
  • Vanilla Bean (seeds scraped out)- 1
  • Sugar- 1 1/2 cups
  • Butter- 8 tbsp/115 gr at room temperature

Note: Recipe adapted from Sweetapolita

The wild things cupcakesThe Wild Things Cupcakes

Method:

Preheat oven to 325 F/160 C. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl, in a separate bowl mix together the egg, egg whites, kefir or buttermilk and vanilla seeds.

In a large bowl whip together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. To the bowl with butter mixture add flour mixture and egg mixture in 2 or 3 additions alternating them, starting with the flour mixture and finishing with the flour mixture.

Fill your 2 lined muffin tins with cupcake batter about 2/3 full and bake for 15-17 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

Ingredients for Frosting:

  • Mascarpone (chilled)- 8 oz/250 gr
  • Cream Cheese(chilled)- 8 oz/250 gr
  • Butter(at room temperature)- 1/2 cup/125 gr
  • Icing sugar- 1 1/2 cups
  • Vanilla- 2 tsp.
  • Paste food colour (Dusky Pink by Sugarflair)

Method: 

Combine mascarpone, cream cheese, butter, vanilla, sugar and food colouring if using in a food processor and pulse just until smooth and creamy. Do not overprocess. It’s important that your mascarpone and cream cheese are cold from the fridge and butter is at room temperature, this way you will have nice and stiff frosting that is easy to pipe. (This frosting could also be made using a hand mixer or a stand mixer.)

Lemon Vanilla Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting and Fondant Medallions

Pipe the frosting on the cupcakes using a star tip and place your stamped medallions on top.

Lemon Vanilla Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting and Fondant Medallions

Lemon Vanilla Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting and Fondant Medallions

Lemon Scented Vanilla Cheesecake with Fresh Figs and Honey

Standard

"Tvorog" Cheesecake
My dear friends, I’ve been holding out on you and for that I am sorry. I made the most delicious cheesecake this past Easter but just posting the recipe today. The good news is that cheesecake is not seasonal, it’s welcome for any occasion. The recipe for this culinary delight was a bit of a gamble-part tradition/part speculation and experiment but the result was nothing short of divine.

As I wrote in one of my previous posts Easter is one of the biggest holidays in Russia and I wanted to keep the traditions alive in my own family. The least I could do was to cook all the Easter treats. Paskha, Kulich and Coloured Easter Eggs are the three musts for every Russian household. Check out the links to Paskha and Kulich from my talented fellow bloggers, the treats are as delicious as they are beautiful!

I coloured eggs with my children this year but ended up buying Kulich or something similar from a Polish shop nearby instead of making my own. I really wanted to make a sweet cheese Paskha but I didn’t have a proper mould so I opted out for a modern day Paskha. Paskha with a twist.

Traditionally Paskha is made from a farmer’s cheese called “Tvorog” in Russian, eggs, sugar, vanilla and dried fruit and candied orange and lemon peel.  I thought it would be fun to try to use the same ingredients but make it into a cheesecake instead. Russian Cheesecake is called “Zapekanka” which translates as “Baked”, it doesn’t have a bottom crust and the cheese is often held together by eggs and semolina. I have vague and not the fondest memories of ‘Zapekanka’, something that was served for school lunches- heavier on semolina rather than cheese yellowish squares with burned top. It tasted far from stellar, so I successfully avoided eating it whenever possible. Needless to say, I set out to create different memories for my children.

My efforts were worthwhile because what they got as a result of my experiment tasted lighter than a cloud and looked… Actually, a picture is worth a thousand words so judge it for yourself!

Lemon Scented Vanilla Cheesecake with Fresh Figs and Honey
The recipe for this beauty is not too different from a standard cheesecake recipe but includes a couple of Russian twists.
Ingredients:

  • Farmers’s Cheese- 750 gr/24 oz
  • Eggs- 3 large
  • Sugar- 1 cup
  • Semolina-3 tbsp.
  • Lemon zest- from 1 lemon
  • Vanilla Bean seeds- from 1 bean
  • Digestive biscuits crushed( you can use graham crackers, unfortunately they are not available in England)-125 gr
  • Butter- 1/4 cup

Method:

Preheat your oven to 325 F/160 C

Zest the lemon and set aside…or take a picture like I did.

Lemon Crush the biscuits (I equipped my children with a rolling pin and a large bowl and told them to “go nuts” on those biscuits, they happily obliged.) then mix the crumbs with melted butter. Line the bottom of a 21″ springform pan with the crumbs and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, set aside and cool.

Separate your egg yolks from the egg whites. Mix together farmer’s cheese, egg yolks, sugar, semolina, lemon zest and vanilla bean seeds with an electric mixer until well blended. In a separate bowl whip egg whites until soft peaks form and gently fold them into the cheese mixture.

Pour the mixture into your springform pan and set it inside a larger roasting pan filled with 1″ water. This technique called “bain marie” helps to evenly distribute heat when cooking delicate foods like cheesecakes and custards. I find it produces much lighter texture in cheesecakes as it infuses them with additional moisture which also helps with preventing cracks.

Bake at 320 F/160C  for 60-65 minutes until the edges are lightly browned and the centre is nearly set. Turn the heat off and leave in the oven for additional 20-30 minutes. If your cheesecake still cracks, don’t worry and cover it up with something pretty! Cool completely in the refrigerator.

I used fresh figs instead of dried fruits that are traditionally used in Easter Paskha and drizzled them with a touch of  dark and deep flavoured chestnut honey I brought from my last trip to Italy. An experiment that turned out to be a true winner. I couldn’t be happier with the end result. 🙂

Lemon Vanilla Cheesecake with Figs and Honey

Lemon Scented Vanilla Cheesecake with Fresh Figs and Honey