Category Archives: dessert

Sour Cherry and Dark Chocolate Granola Cookies

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Cherry and Dark Chocolate Granola Cookies “What can we have for a snack?”, my children say as soon as they step in the house after a day at school. Although they have a cooked lunch there they are absolutely ravenous when they get home. It’s this awkward time of the day, it’s still a bit early for dinner yet their appetites are so big they are not easily satisfied with a piece of fruit anymore. Of course, they ask if we have any biscuits at home…erm English for “cookies”. I am not a fan of giving them cookies for snacks, it just doesn’t sit right with me. However, if I make my own and put all kinds of healthy things in them and control sugar amount I might be okay with the idea and they will be thrilled.

Lo and behold- a protein and other nutrients packed cookie this mom approves. Good and healthy granola ingredients baked into a cookie form and  jazzed up with a little bit of dark chocolate, which let’s face it, has many positive benefits for our bodies and spirits. They are chockfull of old-fashioned rolled oats and dried sour cherries sweetened with raw Demerara/Turbinado sugar that has more minerals and nutrients than regular white sugar and has a natural caramel flavour. Bonus!

Sour Cherry and Dark Chocolate Granola Cookies

Sour Cherry and Dark Chocolate Granola Cookies

Ingredients:

  • Wholewheat or All Purpose Flour- 2 cups
  • Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (not quick or instant)- 2 cups
  • Baking Soda- 1 tsp.
  • Baking Powder- 1/2 tsp.
  • Salt- 1/2 tsp.
  • Demerara Sugar-1  1/4 cup
  • Butter- 1 cup/250 gr
  • Eggs- 2 large
  • Vanilla- 1 tsp.
  • Dark  Chocolate Chips or Chunks- 1/3 cup
  • Dried Sour Cherries- 1/3 cup
  • Walnuts or any other nuts (optional)- 1/3 cup

Method:

Preheat your oven to 350 F/180 C. Line your baking trays with parchment paper.

Mix first 5 ingredients- flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

Beat butter and sugar until blended, add eggs and vanilla, continue beating for 2-3 more minutes. You can use electric mixer or an old fashioned wooden spoon. Both work like magic.

Add dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture and mix well, now add dried cherries and chocolate chips and walnuts if using. At this point I just get right in there with both hands as I find mixing a cookie dough with a spoon nearly impossible but if you mastered it go for it!

Scoop each cookie with a spoon, using 1/4 cup of dough and drop it on your baking tray spacing them 2″ apart as the cookies will get bigger as they bake. Bake at 350 F for 12-15 minutes.

Sour Cherry and Dark Chocolate Granola Cookies
The cookies come out soft and chewy straight from the oven, the aroma in the house creates an atmosphere nothing short of a domestic bliss and perfection. (I wish I could bottle it in and release it on those days when rooms are not getting tidied and homework is not getting done. :-)) Dried cherry in combination with dark chocolate is a heavenly twist on the traditional oatmeal raisin. My kids were mighty impressed!
Sour Cherry and Dark Chocolate Granola Cookies

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Apple Spice Streusel Cake with Salted Caramel Drizzle

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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

Crumb Apricot Cheesecake

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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

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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”.

Summer Berry Tart

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Summer Berry Tart
Berries are quite possibly THE thing I love the most about summer and the presence of berry desserts signals holiday for me more than anything else. As every Russian child that grew up in the city I loved going away to a “dacha” on weekends and getting lost in the garden picking or, more likely, eating copious amounts of plentiful fruits and berries.

I was quite disappointed when I first moved to the States to find that the “berries” were reduced to strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, and perhaps blackberries if you are lucky. In my world there were so much more! What about gooseberries,  wild strawberries. black, red and white currants?

Summer Berry Tart
Thankfully, due to the resurgence of farmer’s markets and people’s general interest in gardening my little summer heros are popping up all over the place which means lots of desserts for me!

Summer Berry TartSummer Berry Tart
Ingredients:

  • Mixed seasonal berries- 600 gr
  • Meringue nests (broken)-4
  • Double Cream- 250 gr/1 cup
  • Creme Fraiche- 125 gr/1/2 cup
  • Icing Sugar- 1/4 cup
  • Vanilla bean (seeds scraped out)-1
  • Rum (optional)- 1 tbsp.

For the tart:

  • Flour-250 gr plus extra for dusting
  • Icing sugar-50 gr
  • Unsalted butter (cut into small cubes)-125 gr
  • Egg-1 large
  • Milk- a little splash
  • Butter for greasing the tart tin

Summer Berry Tart

Method:

First off, if you can find a great tasting all butter pre-made tart and it’s blazing hot outside, go ahead and purchase one! I am all about shortcuts in the kitchen as long as it doesn’t compromise the taste.

If no such tart available here is what you will do:

Mix the flour and icing sugar in a large bowl, add cubed butter and work it in the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add your egg and a bit of milk just to bring the dough together, form it into a ball.  Wrap it in a plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for 30 min.

Sprinkle your work surface and the rolling pin with some flour, take the dough out of the fridge and roll it out big enough to fit a 9″ loose bottomed tart tin. Grease your tart tin with some butter, drape your dough over the rolling pin and transfer it into the tart tin making sure it comes up the sides, trim off the extra bits and prick it with a fork all over, cover it with a plastic wrap and put it back in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat your oven to 180C/350F. Take the tart dough out of the fridge and line it with parchment paper pushing it into the sides, fill the tart with baking beans or rice and bake it “blind” for 10 minutes, take it out, removes the baking beans and parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes longer until firm and golden, cool completely before filling it. (Note: Don’t be tempted to skip the blind baking step, otherwise your tart shell will shrink. I’ve learned the hard way.)

Before serving whip the double cream and creme fraiche with icing sugar, vanilla bean seeds and rum until soft peaks form. Mix it with broken meringue nests and fill your tart with the mixture. Top with mixed berries.

In the last week I’ve made this tart twice!

For this one I used raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.

Summer Berry Tart
Then a few days later I went to a farmer’s market and found red currants. So I had to make another Summer Berry Tart using a generous amount of red currants!

Summer Berry Tart
Dust with a bit of icing sugar for extra drama. 🙂
Summer Berry Tart
Note: This recipe was adapted from Jamie Oliver’s “Jamie Does Sweden”.

Strawberry Meadow Galette for Brad {giveaway closed}

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Strawberry Meadow Galette
In the early days of my husband and I dating he told me that his name Bradley meant “from a meadow” and that little tidbit just added to his allure. As if he needed any help I was already hopelessly in love with him. This past Sunday we celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary. Our night out in London was absolutely perfect-aimless wandering through the South Bank, crossing the Thames on our way to the West End with numerous stops in hundred year old pubs culminated in us being serenaded by a lovely street performer in Covent Garden along with a couple hundred other people. I couldn’t help feeling so blessed by having him by my side for the last 14 years.

A day later at home I made this Strawberry Meadow Galette which is dedicated to my Brad. 🙂 Throughout the years, no matter how busy we’ve been we’ve always managed to find time for a quick tea and a chat and I know we will have many more in the years to come, for which I am happy to bake for!Strawberry Meadow GaletteStrawberry Meadow GaletteStrawberry Meadow Galette
Ingredients: {For the Pastry} Makes 2 galettes

  • Flour-3 cups
  • Salt-3/4 tsp
  • Butter-3/4 cup/200gr
  • Sour Cream-3/4 cup/200 gr

Ingredients: {For the filling}

  • Strawberries (cut in half)- 2 lbs
  • Sugar- 1 cup (I used vanilla scented sugar for extra flavour)
  • Egg- 1 (for brushing)
  • Edible flowers for decorating (optional)

Strawberry Meadow Galette

I am a big fan of galettes as I love the rustic look of them plus they are so easy! Check out this Yellow Plum and Blueberry Galette  and Eggplant, Red and Yellow Pepper Galette  that I’ve made in the past.

The pastry I am sharing is very special and comes from one of my favourite Russian cookbooks Please to the Table by Anya von Bremzen. I’ve adapted it slightly for my own taste. Sour cream makes this flaky pastry pleasantly tart which contrasts the sweetness of the fruit fillings in pies and galettes.

Strawberry Meadow Galette
Method:

In a large bowl combine flour and salt, add the butter using a pastry blender, cut it into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add sour cream and work it into the mixture with your hands until it comes together. Knead briefly, divide into two balls, wrap them in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 350F/180C. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Dust your work surface with some flour and roll out your pastry 1o″ in diameter. Wrap the pastry around the rolling pin and transfer it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Arrange half of the strawberries cut side down on the pastry leaving an inch wide border filling free and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of sugar. Fold the border over the berries while brushing the pleats of pastry with a beaten egg to hold the pastry in place and also to give your galette a beautiful golden colour. Sprinkle the pastry with additional sugar if desired.

Repeat with another ball of pastry.

Bake in the oven for 25-30 min.

Decorate with edible flowers to make it look like a meadow! 🙂

Strawberry Meadow Galette
Giveaway:

A couple of months ago kind people of Lurpak sent me a nice package which I would love to share with my readers. If you are not from Europe and not sure what Lurpak is click on the link above. I am giving away a beautiful apron!

Lurpak apron

This apron is not only useful to keep your clothes in top shape while you are busy in the kitchen but also is a brilliant cheat sheet for a novice or a seasoned cook alike! From recipes to useful tips this apron is full of helpful information.

Lurpak apron
And if it’s not enough I am also throwing in a Lurpak kitchen towel!

Lurpak kitchen towel

So what do you do to receive these items?

  1. “Like” Vikalinka on Facebook.
  2. “Share” Vikalinka Facebook Page with your friends.
  3. Leave a comment on my Facebook page that you’ve shared.
  4. For an additional entry, share this post on Twitter and include Vikalinka in your post  and then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did so. That comment will count as your extra entry.

That’s it!!

The contest will close on July 31 st. 

Good luck!

Rhubarb Blackberry Cobbler with Cornish Clotted Cream

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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