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Tasting Life...

Updated: 2017-08-19T19:41:07.511+02:00




A new year, a new beginning.Good resolutions, firework, lots and lots of oliebollen and a chance for 20 million in the new years eve lottery.That last one didn’t come true of course, but the oliebollen part made it up quite all right…As I already let you know with my ‘Things to Eat before You Die’-list, oliebollen are one of my favourite things in the world.But, needless to say, only oliebollen from my family recipe. The average bol that is sold during this time of year in the special pastry stalls is a bit too greasy for my taste and has nothing, or maybe, when you’re lucky, 4 raisins as filling. Not really my taste. We like our bollen as they were made intentionally: properly filled. The trick is to use eggs, lemon zest ànd juice and lots and lots (and lots) of apples, raisins and currants. A delicious, sweet, airy and moist bol with a golden brown, crispy layer will be the result.I love oliebollen. It’s strange you can attach so much to customs; it happens still occasionally through the year, mid June for example, that I would kill for a fresh, still warm bol - we however haven’t made them ever on a different day then the 31st. It’s just not right. We wait a year, and then eat for 3 days nothing else than oliebollen. Period. (and we are of course at least a month sick of them afterwards…) ;)Oliebollen are one of the most well-known Dutch things. Although not everybody makes them their selves, making them is in our family a true tradition. We start bright and early with our batch, call how it’s going with the others and the next day tasting and comparing the golden beauties with the rest…So, a new year."Let's hope it's a good one, without any fears."Up to new starts, hopes, wishes, opportunities and chances.And of course...Tasting Life!Superbollen, Oliebollen (“dough balls”) makes about 45- 800g (6 cups) flour- 16g (1 Tbsp) salt- 4 eggs- 40g fresh yeast- 0.6L (2 ½ cups) milk- 2 Jonagold apples- 3 Goudreinet apples (if you don’ have these apples, just use firm, sour apples)- 200g yellow sultana raisins,- 200g blue sultana raisins,- 200g currants- 3 lemons - the zest of 3 lemons, and the juice of 1/2 lemon- 100g (1 stick/½ cup) butter- a deep-frying pan with fresh deep-frying fat (sunflower oil)- kitchen paper and napkins- powder sugar1. In a small saucepan, heat about 0,2L (1 cup) of the total 0.6L until it’s tepid. (about 40°C - 104°F) Pour the warm milk in a small bowl and crumble the yeast over it. Stir gradually until it’s completely dissolved, cover up and set to rest on a warm place.2. Peel the apples, chop them in 4 pieces, remove the core, and cut the parts into tiny little pieces. Put the apples together with the raisins, currants, lemon juice and lemon zest in a large bowl and mix well.3. In the biggest basin you have, (or a clean bucket) sift together the flour and salt. Make a small hole in the centre and insert one egg. Mix with the electric mixer fitted with the dough hooks until the egg is completely inserted. Then add the second egg and repeat this process until all eggs are added.In a small pan, melt the butter. Heat in the ‘milk’ pan the rest of the milk until tepid.Add to the flour/egg mixture the yeast mixture that was resting and mix until well blended. Add the rest of the milk and mix until combined, to end with mix the melted butter in. Change the dough hooks for the whisk hooks and mix until the whole mixture is one smooth mass. Scoop the filling in, mix well, cover up with a damp towel and set to rest on a very warm place for 1 to 2 hours. Now the dough will have risen and doubled in its size…4. Heat the deep-frying fat until it reaches 180ºC. take an ice scooper or two tablespoons and stick the spoons in the heated fat for a couple of seconds. (this will prevent the batter from sticking to the spoons) take a big spoon full of dough, round it a bit, and carefully dip it into the oil. Repeat this, but don't have more than 6 of them into the oil at the same time (this also depends on the size of your pan). Fry the 'oliebollen' for 6 minutes, 3 for each s[...]

Great Presents and Late Cookies


Happy 4th Christmas day! ;)[Sigh] The presents are unwrapped, the family is gone, the Christmas tree has lost most of it’s special-ness, and you’re probably still full from all the loads of food.Finally, everything is becoming calmer. Now starts a bit of that peacefulness. You survived the big stress and it’s now time to relax… How about some more cookies? Just kidding.The true Christmas thought isn’t of course about presents or mountains of food, but it is a nice side issue.It’s far from necessary, but it is a great opportunity to do something extra for your loved ones, pamper them (a bit) with treats you know they would appreciate.And you can’t believe how incredibly spoiled I got…Not bad, eh? Thank you Santa(s) for all the beautiful, thoughtful presents! ;)But it’s clear that these amazing books come with another problem.In gods name, what should I make first?? It’s already impossible to choose from Hermé’s, how should I ever pick something out of three??Luckily my vacation isn’t over yet, and as I’m a bit sick and spend most of my time in bed now, I have all the time to read them from cover to cover and amaze myself about their geniusness…Back to other sugar, back to the Christmas Sugar Cookies! Although Christmas is over and I do think these are really Christmas-y cookies, I wrote down the recipe here below. They are so sweet, buttery and easy that I wouldn’t mind having them, lets say, on a February morning.And you can make them of course easily less Christmas-y by replacing the cherries for something like chocolate chips! They make a nice present, and they are perfect for making ahead, as you make the dough in advance.The Plaisir Sucres, Macarons, Croissants, Tarte Tatin, and who knows what more, (unfortunately) have to wait a bit more because first…it’s (almost) time for making the best oliebollen!=> Haha, mine are way better than these!! ;)Will be continued...Christmas Sugar Cookies (makes a hundred!)(From BBC GoodFood)- 300g (1 ½ cups) granulated sugar- 140g (1 stick and 2 Tbsp/½ cup and 2 Tbsp) butter, softened- 2 eggs- 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract- 2 Tbsp milk- 550g (4 cups) flour- 2 tsp baking powder- ½ tsp salt- 200g (1 cup) glacé cherries, chopped. (bigarreau)1. In a large bowl, beat the sugar and butter together until pale and creamy. Gradually beat in the eggs, vanilla and milk.In a new bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt together. Then add a few spoonfuls at a time to the butter mixture, stirring with each addition to combine. Fold the cherries through the dough, and shape into to logs.Wrap the logs in cling film, freeze one and chill the other for at least 2 hour.2. Heat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line three baking sheets with parchment paper. (of course if you don’t have three, bake in batches)Take the chilled logs from the refrigerator, unwrap, let warm up slightly, and use a large knife to slice rounds the thickness of a coin.Lay the cookies out on the trays and bake for about 5 minutes until golden brown. Repeat this process for the other log in the freezer.Cool on a wire rack before serving. The cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.Optional: spread the logs with some egg yolk and roll them though the sugar! Extra sugar cookies![...]

Have yourself a...


I know it’s needless to say, but I’ll do it anyway:It’s really almost Christmas now!I hope this info is not new or comes with a shock for you, because otherwise I think it would be smart to make some plans and get going (!)What are you doing this year with Christmas? A 15 courses menu? (it wouldn’t be a surprise with you foodies!) Eating out in a Michelin worthy restaurant? Nothing? Or like us, having a buffet with all kinds of little snacks and other tasty things?I’m in charge of the dessert section this year -what else?- and decided to go for a few different sweets and desserts, simply because I couldn’t choose…One of them is this rich chocolate cake with hazelnuts. This is the kind of cake that gets only better and better the longer you wait…perfect for Christmas!I’m always careful in the kitchen - did you know 58% of all indoor accidents happens in the kitchen?! - but this time I was extra careful, as I still have last Christmas etched on my memory...Last year me and my mom were hostesses, so on Christmas morning after breakfast and presents, we got back in the kitchen and prepared the final things for dinner. It was nice, but busy and slightly chaotic, and their was still a lot to do.I was just making a piecrust: butter, flour and sugar were in the bowl, the hand blender was cheery grunting, and the dough was ready to be made into a bal. I putted down the blender and placed my hands in the bowl.I wanted to have as well the last bit of dough that was sticking in the blender, so I, clearly without thinking, went for it.10 minutes later we were, me still in my pj’s, at the first aid post. When my finger touched the blade, the power switched on and -luckily!- only my fingernail didn’t survive. Merry Christmas indeed! ;)So this year I made sure nothing needed the blender…I haven’t tasted this cake yet of course, -that would be rude!- so I can’t tell you how it tastes, but judging the ingredients, the look, the soft inside versus the crunchy outside, and the incredible smell, it’s only really promising…Have a great time, merry Christmas everybody!Chocolate Hazelnut Cake (for 10 till 12 people, adapted from La Dolce Vita)- 250g (9oz) chocolate (minimum 70%)-115g (1 stick/½ cup) butter, softened- 5 eggs, split- 140g (¾ cup) finely granulated sugar- 50ml rum/cognac- 100g fine maizena- 150g (1 ¼ cups) hazelnuts, roasted1. Preheat over to 180°C (350°F) and grease and flour a 22cm (9 inch) round cake pan.2. In a small saucepan, mix the chocolate, broken in little pieces, and the butter over low heat till the chocolate is melted. Take the pan of the fire and let to cool a bit.3. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the sugar together to a thick, creamy mixture. Mix in the chocolate mixture, rum, maizena and hazelnuts until well blended.4. Whisk the egg whites until stiff (but not dry!) and fold them carefully in the chocolate/hazelnuts mixture.Scoop this mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake for 30 till 40 minutes.The cake is ready when it’s dry and firm to the touch, but still a bit wet and silky inside. The top is as well cracked, but that’s how it should be.Let the cake in it’s for until it’s completely cooled, take out on a serving plate and dust with powder sugar.Optional: serve with a big dot of mascarpone and strong coffee…Yum![...]



Sinterklaas has left the country, our (gigantic) tree is up, shining and smelling really nice, and I have finally time to spend some time behind the computer and post again.It has been so busy lately…I’m glad it’s almost vacation - time for Christmas!(who in the world can do math or French when you know you have to go to school for just one more week?!)Did you know that Santa Claus is based on our Sinterklaas? Yes - they both refer to Saint Nicolas; a bishop who lived in the third century and became known for his generosity and love for children.A big difference however, is that Sinterklaas still comes with a boat from Spain, and Santa Claus with a sledge from the North Pole. Sinterklaas comes along with his black ‘pieten’ and Santa Claus has elves…Here in Holland you see around this time of year a sort of battle between Sinterklaas and Santa Claus, on who’s nicer/better…really strange when you know they are the same person!Anyway, Saint Nicolas 1 is gone and it’s time for number 2! Christmas!Time for a lovely, forest-y smelling house, twinkling lights, Christmas songs on the radio, snow (yeah right!), presents under the tree, and…making Christmas cookies!Making Christmas cookies is such a relaxing, rewarding thing - and it will definitely bring you in the holiday spirit!It’s easy, they smell amazing, you can make them in every kind of shape or flavour you want, and it’s really fun to decorate them in every possible way…I made my basic recipe which is perfect and really hard to mess up, and when I was finished I added some of my favourite flavours.I divided the dough into three, and kneaded into the first ball some salt and pepper, into the second ball some cinnamon and into the third ball some cacao powder…They all turned out beautiful and perfectly crispy, but the cinnamon version was absolutely my favourite…delicious!I made a sugar glaze and melted some chocolate, put on a Christmas cd and I got going with a whole load of decorations: candy pens, sprinkles, and lovely little silver, gold, and green sugar balls…It was really calming (in these 3 hours I almost forgot all the schoolwork I still have to do…) and you will feel so proud and artistic if your cookie turns out good and pretty…And the ugly, not so arty cookies? Ah…they’ll be quickly gone and forgotten… ;)Christmas Cookies - 300g (2 cups) all-purpose flour- pinch of salt- 2 tsp baking powder- ½ tsp ground nutmeg, ½ tsp ground ginger, ½ tsp ground cinnamon- 100g (½ cup, 1 stick) butter, softened and sliced- 100g (2/3 cup) brown sugar- 2 large eggs, beaten with- 4 Tbsp liquid honeyglaze:- 250g (2 cups) confectioner’s sugar- 4 Tbsp boiling waterextra:- 100g (1 bar) good quality chocolate- sprinkles, candy pens, sugar balls, etc.1. In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt, spices and baking powder. Add the butter and sugar, and mix with the electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until crumbly. While the mixer is spinning, slowly add the egg/honey mixture. - Don’t pour in at once, otherwise there is a big chance you’re dough will be too sticky! - Pour in until you have a well blended, handable dough.The dough is now ready. You can just use it like this (and go to step 2) or add some spices/flavours.This is what I did:Divide the dough into three and put the three balls into different, small bowls. Add to bowl 1 a good pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Knead this into the dough. Do this as well for bowl 2 and 3, adding 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon, and 2 tablespoon of cacao powder.2. Beat each ball down to a disc and wrap into plastic. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.3. Preheat oven to 170°C (340°F) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.Flour your work surface, and take out the first disk of dough.Roll out thinly, keep flouring (it can be a bit sticky) and cut out the cookies - or if you don’t have cookie cutters, just carve them out with a sharp knife. Transfer to the baking sheet and make a small [...]

Paris, Je t‘aime…The Sweet Life (part three)


It’s by now already quite some time ago since my trip to Paris. Exactly 25 days. Already way too long…I told extensive and detailed about it earlier, but I wanted to tell and show you in brief some other sweet (and very tasty) things we did.Our dinner at Ladurée on the Champs Elyseé for example.I had the Bonaparte Salad - with Scottish smoked salmon, salmon eggs, blini, olive oil, lemon juice, seaweed tartare and black olives cream…- and it was absolutely amazing. Simple perfection. Made with only the best ingredients, this was one of the best things I have ever eaten. But I said that as well about their Ladurée Salad and Club Champs-Elysées. And from seeing the queue of people waiting to be seated and their plates and expressions, I can conclude everything is amazing here!For dessert we had the Tarte Tatin, the Coupe Fraise-Coquelicot and the Eclatant Fraise Figue. The Tarte Tatin was without a doubt the best out of these three.Sadly, I have not even one good picture of the food or our royal seating, as a result of that charming candle light…So you just have to go and check out yourself if I’ve made you curious…;) We consumed more for lunch the next day at BE, Boulange épicier, a fusion of a "boulanger" and an "épicier" - baker and grocer. We read that BE had the best sandwiches of Paris, and since the store is owned by no one less than Alain Ducasse and Eric Kayser, this wasn’t so hard to believe.The wonderful perfumes from freshly made bread welcome you when you step into this beautiful little store packed with goodies and the best products. You can buy your pasta, jams, chocolate, little jars and spreads here, and of course your lunch (!)Soups, salads, sandwiches, and a whole arrange of desserts: fruit salads, pastries, tartlets and muffins...We ordered a lentil salad, 2 pesto/mozzarella/tomato/basil sandwiches -which were served onto indeed one of the best breads I’ve ever tasted: It was soft, slightly sweet and a bit brioche-ish. Amazing… - The last sandwich was a larger, sweet raisin pain, with roquefort and pear. Wonderful.I’m glad we went, but it was a bit disappointed since we expected a real restaurant. BE is a wonderful store, with wonderful food, but more for take-away.-----Stop three.We heard so much about Berthillon and their ice cream in flavours like caramel and chocolat amar, I couldn’t stop thinking about it and just had to go.So on Saturday morning, after our morning coffee and croissant, we ‘shopped’ ourselves down to Île Saint-Louis - one of the two little islands in Paris, surrounded by the Seine.We rushed pass the Notre-Dame, with just one intention: Berthillon.The lack of an immense line was our first hint. When we arrived on 31, Rue St. Louis en l´Ile, we found Berthillon…Yep. 100% Closed.%&$*^(%#$!!!!I’ll leave it by this. If I start expressing my feelings more, I know I will not stop anymore…But if we want ice cream, we will get ice cream.Berthillon drove us straight to their opponent: Amorino!Amazing Italian-style ice-cream, with quite a few locations in Paris. (Just look out for a flying little Italian elf and you’ll find Amorino...)Absolutely delicious. I’m not really an ice cream expert, I almost never eat ice cream, (I prefer something with a bite…) but my sister, who happens to be an ice cream expert, approves it as well.Very nice is you can choose as many flavours as you want. 20 flavours in just one scoop? No problem. The mango and caffe were my favourites.(I just discovered their website, click on the flavours and see them in close-up. *drool…*)The last thing I want to share is this pain au chocolat from Fauchon.Their macarons couldn’t compare with Hermé’s, (they didn’t even come close…) but their pain au chocolat beats hermé’s easily. It was the best pain au chocolat we ever tasted. Buttery, flaky, as light as air and so chocolaty…*sigh*This were my Paris highlights part I, II and III. Hope you enjoyed it, - I sure[...]

1 + 1 = 3


Sometimes is 1+1=3These Chocolade Stroopkoeken (chocolate treacle cookies) are a classic example for this. They are not just two crispy chocolaty cookies fused together with some hot, creamy, salted treacle….but they are the best crispy chocolaty cookies fused together with some hot, creamy, salted treacle. They are amazing.Make a hundred and you still want more, I guarantee.The stroopkoek is a typically Dutch product. Only, undeserved, a whole lot less known then it’s brother the stroopwaffle. Although I can appreciate a hot, freshly made stroopwaffle from time to time, (especially with this colder weather) I prefer a stroopkoek. And then of course the version as shown here above: thinner, chocolaty and salted. Heaven.I got them from Koekje, the cookie-bible I wrote about before. The recipe comes from Kees Raat (kind of logical since it’s a(n incredible) twist on the normal stroopkoek…) but I adjusted it slightly since I didn’t have pepper vinegar or zeeuwse flour (from Zeeland - a part of Holland) and because - let’s face it - I like it always just a bit more salty and chocolaty.Two thin chocolate biscuits with the best salty caramel-y syrup which will make the cookies deliciously chewy and sticky. What do you want more? Enjoy immediately while the treacle is still hot. Try them and love them…;) Chocolade Stroopkoeken- 120g (1 stick/½ cup) butter, softened- 60g (1/3 cup) dark brown sugar- 60g (1/3 cup) white brown sugar (witte basterdsuiker)- pinch of salt and pepper- 1 tsp vinegar- 1 egg, lightly beaten- 200g (1 ½ cup) flour- 4 big Tbsp cacao powder- 1 big tsp baking powderFor the syrup:- 100g (½ cup) stroop (treacle)- 60g (1/3 cup) white brown sugar- 60g (½ stick, ¼ cup) butter, softened- 1 Tbsp sea salt1. In a medium bowl, sift together flower, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and pepper. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix butter, the two sugars, vinegar and egg. Add the flower mixture to the sugar mixture and knead it to a ball. Pack in foil and let rest in the fridge for at least one hour.2. Preheat oven to 170°C (340°F) and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.3. Get the dough out of the fridge and roll out thinly on a lightly flowered surface. (if it’s too sticky, use some more flower) you can best do this in 3 or 4 times as the dough will break easily.With a round 10cm (4inches) form, - or a cute small one…- stick out cookies and line them on the baking sheets. Bake for about 10 minutes, until set and down. Let cool completely and make the syrup.Syrup:1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt treacle with sugar, butter and salt. Stir until well blended and let cool a bit.2. Ladle syrup on the flat side of a cookies, move it a bit back and forth to even and close with a second cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies.Enjoy immediately or keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.[...]

Going Dutch: Koekje


In Holland there are just a few really good, legendary, patissiers.Two of them are Cees Holtkamp and Kees Raat.They are both really different and yet the same;Cees Holtkamp started in Amsterdam in 1969 and is famous for his simple, straightforward and traditional approach to baking.Kees Raat opened his ‘Unlimited Delicious’ in Amsterdam 15 years ago and became known for his originality and uniqueness.These two masters are now combined in one beautiful little book: Koekje. (Cookie)I can’t believe Koekje wasn’t here earlier - it’s indispensable.The concept is brilliant; Holtkamp wrote down his (50!) recipes for all the classic Dutch cookies, - such as stroopwafels, Arnhemse Meisjes, Goudse Moppen and Jan Hagel… - and Kees Raat gave each cookie his own, creative twist and came up with 50 brand new cookies as Chocolate Blini’s, Javaanse Jongens and Zeeschuim (!)Koekje is a clear-cut, beautiful book with on every single page a picture.I love that I now finally have a book where all the recipes for good Dutch cookies are bound together.And I’ve discovered so many new, which are in fact old, recipes(!)Who still knows how a Haarlems Halletje or Nonnenscheetje taste?And Haagsche Wind??Haagsche Wind (Wind of the Hague) dates all the way back to 1880. Living in The Hague and never having tried it - how could I not make it?(Plus it was a wonderful opportunity to use my new pastry bag from la Bovida that I still hadn’t used since my trip to Paris…!)Haagsche Wind is a sweet little meringue cookie with cute looking almonds on top. It’s one lovely cloudy bite: crunchy on the outside and soft and airy inside.Meringues are well loved in my family.I once tried to make meringues, but it didn’t work out so well - this recipe however, is a keeper.99 recipes left in ‘Koekje’…what will I make next?Haagsche Wind- 3 egg whites- 150g (¾ cup) finely granulated sugar- 100g (½ cup) confectioner’s sugar, sifted- 100g (1 cup) almonds, lightly roasted and roughly chopped1. Preheat oven to 120° C (248° F) and line one baking sheet with parchment paper.2. Beat, with an electric mixer, egg whites until frothy. Gradually add granulated sugar and mix until well blended. Beat in the confectioner’s sugar carefully until the mixture is white and glossy.3. Fill pastry bag (with a 2cm, 1 inch tip) with the mixture and drop little dots on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with the roasted almonds and bake for 20 minutes until set. Let cool completely before enjoying and store in an airtight container.HoltkampVijzelgracht 151017 HM AmsterdamUnlimited DeliciousHaarlemmerstraat 1221013 EX Amsterdam[...]



My new camera is driving me nuts.It’s so pretty and I really love it but I’m beginning to get a little desperate.It doesn’t matter what I do - all my pictures are either too light or too dark and too blurry or too dim. I really hope it’s just a temporary problem and I just haven’t figured out the light focus or something like that…So under the impression that at least one of my 158 photo’s was good, and without further checking, I started tasting and…all the cashew-caramel cookies disappeared quickly.And this was the best picture in the bunch.I’m sorry I can’t let you better see how incredibly delicious these cookies were…Because they weren’t just good.They were really, really good.I know it’s a bit strange, but you make me most of the time happier with a good spoon of cookie dough then the cookie itself…Well, these nut cookies are like the best cookie dough ever.They are chewy, not too sweet, and the cashews are lovely caramelized in the oven. They have a good bite, a delicious sugary bottom and an amazing soft caramel swirl on top…oftewel; echte door-etertjes! (so it’s really hard to stop eating these…!)I found the recipe online at but I made some big changes in the process so I typed out what I’ve done here below.If you want to check out the original recipe; click hereI don’t have a decent electric mixer to grind cashews with, only a puree mixer with a sharp blade which will make the nuts fly and spring everywhere (I have btw a rather horrific Christmas story about this blade - but that maybe for later…) so I just chopped 1 cup finely and kept the rest in big chunks. This worked out really well as I may say so.For some reason I wanted to add pear as well. Don’t ask me why, I just had a feeling. It turned out to be a wrong feeling; there was absolutely no trace of pear in these cookies. Not that's incredibly terrible, I think they are pretty perfect just like this…I kept the pear in the recipe what so ever - who knows how they would turn out without it??Cashew Cookies (makes 24)- 200g (1 ¾ cups) all-purpose flour- ½ tsp salt- 350g (3 cups) roasted, salted cashews- 4 Tbsp sunflower oil- 115g (1 stick, ½ cup) butter, softened- 115g (¾ cup) packed light-brown sugar- 100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar- 1 egg- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract- 1 pear- 24 cubes soft caramel candy (200g, 7 ounces)- 65ml (1/4 cup) heavy cream1. Preheat oven to 180°C. (350°F)Mix flour and salt together in a small bowl and set aside. Finely chop 1 cup cashews and transfer them to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add butter and sugars and mix on medium speed until fluffy. (about 2 minutes)Mix in egg, vanilla and oil. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture. Wash and dry the pear and thinly slice it with a cheese-slicer. Chop these slices into even smaller bits and mix it in with the reserved, roughly chopped cashews.2. Shape dough into 4cm (1 1/2-inch) balls; space 5cm (2 inches) apart on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake 6 minutes and gently flatten with a spatula. Bake until bottoms are just golden, 6 to 7 minutes more. Let cool completely.3. For the caramel, melt caramels with cream in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring. Let cool. Using a spoon, drizzle caramel over cookies and let set. Store the cookies in an airtight box in single layers.[...]

No Fuss, No Worries: Only Cake


(image) I’d forgotten the power of a good basic cake.
Like a Pavlov reaction, I thought instinctively of the margarine, soppy, flavourless version that you can buy at the store. The one that doesn’t even deserve the name cake and will keep till end 2010...
What was I thinking??

Pound cake is the best. Or more precisely; Madeira cake is the best.
And this version is even better; it’s so easy, has a lovely lemony twist and a divine sugar topping that really gives the extra touch.
A crunchy layer with a big crack down the middle, covering a soft and slightly moist, amazing cake that will melt deliciously in your mouth…

The recipe comes from Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess, i.e. my first cookbook. My collection has, as you might have noticed, grown considerably since then but it still has a special spot with me.
I made this cake from it quite some time ago on request. I was actually already forgotten it but (luckily) came across the pictures when I sorted out my files. This is a wonderful cake, even the best in its sort I think.
Well, try and judge yourself…

Cake (for 8 to 10 slices)
- 240g (2sticks/1cup) soft butter
- 200g (1cup) finely granulated sugar, plus more for topping
- zest and juice of one lemon
- 3 eggs
- 210g (1 ¾ cups) self raising flour +
- 90g (¾ cup) all-purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 170°C (330°F) and butter and line a cake form with parchment paper.

2. Stir butter and sugar until creamy and add lemon zest.
Mix in one egg, then one tablespoon of flour, then an egg again…and so on.
Add the rest of the flour, mix well, and add the lemon juice. stir until well combined.

3. Pour the batter in the prepared form and sprinkle generously with sugar (about 2 Tbsp) Bake for 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool completely, then invert onto a serving plate.

Paris, Je t’aime: A little Investigation… (part two)


If I were a cookie, I would be a macaron. No question.The flavour, the texture, the colours, the shape -it’s just the best cookie.The taste of the crunchy and slightly chewy outside, and soft and smooth inside…:it’s heaven between 2 little shells.Making good macarons - not to be confused with the coconut macaroon - is however difficult and a real art. You can find in almost every sweet cookbook a macaron recipe and on Google more than 28.000 hits will appear on your screen from recipe sites and fellow bloggers, but the recipe for the perfect macaron is, and will probably always be, a question for us humble human beings.The basic macaron is made of almond flour, icing- and granulated sugar and egg-whites but what amount or what the masters include extra? Perhaps Pierre spits for his final touch 3 times in the batter or David Holder gives each macaron a little blessing before he let them enter the shops... Who knows. (note: if you do know - please send me a mail!)Macarons don’t exist here in Holland. The average Dutchman does not know what it is - and doesn’t care - and considers a bought slagroomtaart (cream cake) as a true delicacy. Well, bon appetite - Grrr…That’s another reason why I’m so delighted about Paris. Everywhere you look are little (and large famous ones…!) bakery’s, patisseries and chocolatiers with the most beautiful display windows, loaded with freshly baked goods.You name it; croissants, pain au chocolat, millefeuilles, éclairs, madeleines and of course…macarons (!) In every thinkable colour and flavour, beautifully lined up, waiting to be bought.What do you think about marron et thé vert matcha or perhaps a huile d'olive et vanille macaron?Time for a little comparing examination (!)I wish I could have sampled from every shop I came across, including Maison du Chocolat and Laduree but it was just too much. Very unexpected and kind of new for me, but there was just too much good food.I’m still bummed about that last one. Especially because now I read EVERYWHERE that Laduree has the best macarons…Well, nothing to do about it; I just HAVE to go back - o boy, what a pity…;)So I stayed with Fauchon and Hermé.I lost my heart to Fauchon when I was ten. It was my first time in Paris and I sat in the beautifully decorated tearoom behind my chocolate tasting plate, all feeling special. Such an experience for a little girl.And Hermé; do I have to explain?? I was just dying to go to Hermé - I read so much about him and his incredible creations and his latest book PH10 is standing so high on my wish-list…(hint!)For my comparing, I got from both a chocolate and a coffee macaron -Fauchon (below) and Pierre Hermé (above), and the 2 flavours; coffee (left) and chocolate (right)The results:*drum roll….*It wasn‘t very difficult:Fauchon’s macarons are fine. Great even if you haven’t tasted the perfect one. They have a very soft (in my opinion too soft…) centre but a good, strong chocolate/coffee flavour. They are chewy, have in proportions very thick shells and little filling and chewing is not really required with these macarons.Hermé’s macarons are simply heaven. Compacter, a good bite and an explosion of flavour. And as you see on the picture a perfect, thick ganache centre, which will soften and melts deliciously in your mouth…Easy calling: Hermé is the winner(!)*yeeh, yeeh! Applause, applause…*Wow, now I haven’t even written something about his almighty shop or my other purchases(!)See here two wonders of the master Pierre Hermé; The Plaisir Sucre - From bottom to top: hazelnut dacquoise, milk chocolate-hazelnut spread, a layer of chocolate ganache, a dark chocolate sheet, another layer of chocolate ganache, a chocolate sheet, chocolate mousse, and one last chocolate sheet… And the Surprise Ball - I’m not 100% sure wh[...]

Paris, Je t’aime…(part one)


I’m back from Paris. And I’m not really liking it. Sure it’s nice to be in my own home again, but what I already knew has been confirmed once again; Paris is the best, most beautiful city in the world.We stayed our 3 full-planned, beloved days at Hotel Chopin, a charming little hotel located in the small passage Jouffroy, right near the Grands Boulevards. Lovely decorated, welcoming classical music playing in the hallways and great service. I really recommend Hotel Chopin for a short stay in Paris.Although I didn’t think the whole multiple pages long - ok, actually multiple novels long - list to-do could all have been visited, we yet succeeded to do almost everything that stood on the priority list…One thing I really wanted to do, was to visit L’as du Falafel.When I read about it on David Lebovitz’s site, I immediately started to crave. And I can tell you; it is really so good. My saliva production is running up by just seeing the pictures...Imagine a fresh, soft pita crammed with the best, delicious, hot and crispy chick-pea balls, a generous amount of delicious marinated red and white cabbage, soft aubergine, some fresh slices of cucumber, hummus and the best garlic sauce that isn’t too strong, over dominated or thick at all. That’s L’as du Falafel. There’s no doubt; L’as du Falafel is toujours imite jamais egale. (always imitated, never equalled)Some other tasty goings were Laduree, Fauchon and the master Pierre Hermé. (but I will come back to these later - they really deserve their own post…)Another culinary highlight was going to G. Detou and La Grande Epicerie.G. Detou is a beautiful, little, old and dusty epicerie with the most diverged professional baking supplies. And what about some caramels au beurre sale from Bretagne, or the best blue pigment? (I have a fabulous chocolate layer cake with blue frosting in mind for it’s first project…)La Grande Epicerie Paris is a gigantic, wonderful culinary shopping Walhalla. I could spend a whole day just looking at everything, walking a bit among the display-windows with fresh pasta and little anti-pasta bites, the bread section, tea and coffee, and the stock of mysterious little pots and jars. Even the meat section looks good and appealing here. So you can understand I couldn’t leave without a little extra something. I got a package of super cute little purple and pink biscuits, that look a bit like mini macarons and I found coloured sugar that I can’t wait to use…Of course this trip wasn’t just one big eat feast - but it was indeed quite close to it… - I still have a few withdraw symptoms left from all the sugar and chocolate and I can really use a little break and give my body a little peace for a while. But just a little while of course… ;)L'As du Falafel34, rue des Rosiers (Marais)Tel: 01 48 87 63 60Closed Friday evening and Saturday for SabbatG. Detou58, rue TiquetonneTel: 01 42 36 54 67La Grande Epicerie Paris38, Rue de SèvresTel : 01 44 39 83 47[...]

A Great Weekend


My little half-sister Katoo is the ultimate chocolate monster. She’s almost 4 now and this weekend she came to visit her two big sisters in the city. These two days were way too short and we had, as always, a wonderful time. We absolutely spoiled her to dead now we had the opportunity, we got her some little girly presents, we watched Cinderella, went out to the bakery, danced, watched some more Cinderella and of course devoured a whole lot of chocolate…That’s why I made these cupcakes. It’s clear it can’t get more chocolaty or sweeter than this; these cupcakes contain melted chocolate, cacao powder and chocolate chunks, along with the best chocolate frosting and some Smarties on top.And they tasted absolutely great.Sweet, brownie-y, and perfectly between dry and moist. They are also very nice without the frosting but that first bite in a frosted one, when your teeth go through the glaze, then the dry, crumbly top and finally threw a delicious moist inside…Well, nothing will beat that.And I’m happy I wasn’t the only one who liked them… A weekend with cheery Tootje is always a pleasure, but this weekend turned out to be even better when Saturday morning the bell rang and my brand new camera had finally arrived(!) It’s the Olympus E500 and it’s without a doubt the best toy ever!I’m now like an annoying paparazzi photographer, walking through the house going click, click, click…And the quality of my pictures - every shot looks like it popped right out a professional photographer catalogue(!) I love it! Can’t wait to get going and discover all it’s features…=)Oh yes, one last thing about the cupcakes - Make sure you buy enough Smarties if you have a specific colour in mind; my plan was to decorate them only with pink Smarties - well, every package contained about 3 pink ones… A little Smarties fact to end with; Did you know 17 thousand Smarties are eaten every minute in the UK?You sure can decorate a whole lot of cupcakes with that…(!)Enjoy! ;) Chocolaty Chocolate Cupcakes (makes 24 cupcakes)- 150g (5,4 ounces) bittersweet chocolate- 250g (1 cup/2 sticks) butter, cut into pieces- 350g (1 3/4 cups) sugar- 5 eggs- 120g (1 cup) flour- 4 Tbsp cocoa powder, unsweetened-1 1/2 tsp baking powder- pinch of salt- 150g (5,4 ounces) chocolate chips, or bittersweet chocolate, cut into little pieces.1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and prepare 24 cupcake cups on a baking sheet.2. In a large saucepan, melt chocolate and butter while stirring. Add sugar, stir until blend completely, and let cool for 10 minutes.3. In another bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and a pinch of salt. Set aside.4. With an electric mixer, beat chocolate mixture for about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and make sure each one is completely absorbed before adding the next.5. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture and mix well. Scoop into the prepared cupcake cups - this is easy with a ladle - and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.Store in an airtight container or continue with the frosting.Chocolate frosting (enough for 24 cupcakes)- 250g (9 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, chopped- 250ml (1 cup) heavy cream- 1 tsp vanilla- 1 Tbsp butter, room temperature- 300g (2 cups, packed) powdered sugar1. In a medium saucepan, heat cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Reduce heat and add the chocolate. Let stand for one minute, then stir to combine. Add butter and vanilla and mix well. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.2. Sift powdered sugar into the mixture and beat with an electric mixer until combined. Continue to beat until light and creamy. This frosting can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator. Before piping on the cupcakes, let stand for a few minut[...]

Autumn Weather…Time for Cookies


(image) Summer is definitely over. And it happened so quickly;
The streets are rainy and the trees transformed from green to all shades of yellow, orange and red. It’s still dark outside when I wake up in the morning, I need a scarf on when I go to school and I hate that the wind has become so cold and raw…
The plus side however, is that it’s time for candles, tea, electric blankets and wearing comfy ski socks again(!) (and almost time for oliebollen!)

In the summer nothing beats a fresh, sour apple, but with this weather I prefer baking; the wonderful perfumes filling the house, the apples becoming all soft and oozy in the oven, their hotness and perfectly sweetness…

These Apple Cookies are great and have al the above.
They are granola-y and hearty, with delicious crispy edges and a soft apple-ish inside.
I start with the edges, slowly nibble them off, work my way in, and finish with one soft and gooey last bite…
These cookies are robust, sweet and spicy, and really substantial - great for those chilly days…

Apple Cookies (makes about 30)
- 240ml (1 cup) apple juice
- 200g (1 cup) currants
- (250) 2 cups whole-wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 225g (1 cup/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 300g (2 cups) dark-brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 250g (2 1/2 cups) rolled oats
- 5 crisp and tart apples, I used granny smith
Granulated sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

1. Heat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Heat cider in a small saucepan to a simmer. Place currants in a bowl and pour the warm cider over them. Let plump at least for 10 minutes.

2. Mix in a small bowl together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add egg, and continue beating until well blended.

4. Add the dry ingredients, beating until just combined. Add the currants with half of the cider and oats until just combined. Using the largest holes on a box grater, shred 2 apples directly into the dough, rotating to avoid seeds and core. Stir well to combine.

5. Using two spoons, scoop out cookies and place on the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Using a sharp knife, slice 2 or 3 apples very thinly. Remove core with a cookie cutter or with a knife (you can make all sorts of fun figures…) Place a thinly sliced apple ring on top of each cookie and sprinkle with a pinch of sugar, if desired. Bake in the heated oven until dark brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Can be stored for 3 days - but be warned, they will soften and soften and...

Make you Banana Pancakes...


Scrambled eggs with white beans in tomato sauce, a few slices of buttered toast, a croissant, or a big delicious tower of pancakes…The possibilities are endless and it’s the most important meal of the day…BreakfastAlthough I’m always quite satisfied with my coffee, yoghurt and freshly squeezed orange juice, this morning it was time for a change.It was time for pancakes.I've always loved Jack Johnson’s song Banana Pancakes, and every time I hear it I just start craving for banana pancakes…So of course I made banana pancakes.Banana pancakes with buttermilk and a drizzly of honey to be exact.I’ve eaten pannenkoeken, - A pannenkoek is the Dutch version of a pancake; larger and thinner and served with sugar and treacle… - crepes and blini, but I’d never ever eaten pancakes. let stand for breakfast.I got my recipe from America’s absolute Baking Queen, Martha Stewart, and I served them with a big dot of crème fraîche and honey instead of maple syrup. This was a lovely - and quite heavy - breakfast that I really enjoyed…I had a bit of trouble at first with the recipe. or not with the recipe, but jut with pancakes in general; some of my first batch got really messy and burned a bit because I left the heat on too high - luckily I figured it out after a bit of practise and after this I made absolutely beautiful perfect golden-brown pancakes…They were soft and sweet, had crispy edges and a luscious fluffy and oozy centre from the hot and slightly melted banana slices. Drenched in the honey this big golden-brown heap was a wonderful festive way to start my day…Banana pancakes (makes 12)- 120g (1 cup) whole-wheat flour- 3 Tbsp light-brown sugar- 1/2 tsp baking powder- 1/4 tsp baking soda- 1/4 tsp salt- 240ml (1 cup) buttermilk- 1 egg, lightly beaten- 11/2 Tbsp butter, melted- vegetable oil- 2 ripe bananas, thinly sliced- crème fraîche, maple syrup (or honey) and chopped walnuts, for serving (optional)1. Preheat oven to 135°C (250°F). In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.Whisk in buttermilk, egg, and melted butter until batter is well combined and free of lumps.2. In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, swirl oil to coat bottom of pan. Working in batches, add batter in 1/4-cup portions. - I got 3 pancakes per time - Top with banana slices, dividing evenly. Cook until golden brown and tiny air bubbles form evenly on top, 2 to 4 minutes. Reduce heat if browning too quickly. Flip pancakes, and continue cooking until slightly puffed, 2 to 5 minutes.Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while you cook remaining pancakes.3. Serve pancakes with crème fraîche, honey (or maple syrup) and some chopped walnuts.[...]

Wednesday Baking IV: No Baking


If you are a regular reader, you’ve already read about my beloved Wednesday Baking.Clearly, this was too good to be true - schoolwork is really kicking in (and piling up ridiculous quickly…) and my new school period starts already next week.From now on my Wednesday morning will be spend with maths, physics and chemistry. Great. Definitely an improvement…(!)My plan was to make something really spectacular, over-the-top and impressive for this last Wednesday Baking.Something like a 20layercake or perhaps try to make my favourite macarons…well, this plan failed rather badly as I - strangely - wasn’t at all in the baking mood. I just wanted to spend this last free morning in my pj’s curled upon the couch. Eat far too much kruidnootjes, spoon away something sweet and watch many, many Friends episodes…Friends is the best. I even dare to say me and my sister are the biggest Friends fans ever - we have watched every episode approxiately a hundred times (and I can watch them at least another 100 times…) and just like baking, this is one of my favourite, most relaxing things to do.The last few weeks however, I hadn’t have the time (or peace) to just sit down, do nothing and watch. You can understand this morning was really needed, and I happily relived Ross and Rachel’s drama story…So this Wednesday Baking Day was really No Baking Day - just something easy, quick, really satisfying and with a good sugar kick was needed today.The answer was Chocolate MousseIntensely chocolate flavoured, exactly sweet enough and delightfully fluffy, this recipe was great. Pillowy, velvety and melting wonderfully on your tongue, this was exactly what I needed.My homework will just have to wait a little bit longer…;)Chocolate and a big pile of friends episodes….Could this BE any better? ;)Bitter Chocolate Mousse (makes 8)- 250g (9oz) good quality, bittersweet chocolate, chopped- 30ml honey liqueur (or brandy)- 25g (1oz/2 Tbsp) butter, cut into pieces- 4 eggs, separated- 90ml (6 Tbsp) whipping cream- 45g (3 Tbsp) sugar- whipped cream, some chopped hazelnuts and cocoa powder to decorate.1. Place the chocolate and 4 tablespoons (60ml) of water in a medium saucepan. Melt over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove pan from heat and whisk in the liqueur and butter.2. With an electric mixer, beat the eggs yolks until thick and creamy, then slowly beat into the melted chocolate until well blended. Set aside.3. Whip the cream until soft peaks form and stir a spoonful into the chocolate to lighten it. Fold in the remaining cream.4. In a clean, grease-free bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until frothy. Sprinkle over the sugar and continue beating until the whites are stiff and glossy.5. Using a large metal spoon, stir a quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, and then gently fold in the remaining whites until just combined.Gently spoon into 8 individual cups and chill for at least 2 hours until set and chilled.6. Scoop a big spoon whipped cream (beaten with a tablespoon of sugar) on top, sprinkle some chopped hazelnuts on top and lightly dust with cacao powder.[...]

Spinach Risotto with Goat’s Cheese


For my 25th post, my mum got me a very, very nice present; ‘Cook with Jamie, My Guide to Making You a Better Cook’ !I read about this new book a few days ago, told my mum I really liked it, and as a surprise she immediately went out and bought it for me… =)Cook with Jamie (already his 7th book!) is a beautiful - 450 pages thick - kitchen bible and is divided in 6 chapters; salads, pasta, meat, fish, vegetables and desserts.Each chapter begins with a little info about the ingredient, a good basic technique and some handy tips and tricks. The principle is to first master the basics, be able to make the fundamentals for good authentic food, and than start mixing and experimenting and let all the flavours flow with about 8 different variation recipes, all made from that first basic recipe.Become Jamie’s student in your own home…(!)I absolutely love this book. I’ve always liked Jamie Oliver and his TV shows, I think he’s a great guy with his school dinners and 15 project, but I didn’t really like all his commercial stuff; tefal series, flavour shakers, table wear and god knows what.I’m glad this book is simply about good food, learning and enjoying it.Wanting to use my lovely new book immediately, I made this Spinach Risotto with Goat’s Cheese as a surprise Saturday night dinner. Making risotto isn’t difficult at all.You just have to have some timing and patience, since you really have to stand the whole time next to the pan - My rice was cooked exactly long enough; soft and oozy but still with a good bite.I’m not really used to make something that doesn’t involve baking or isn’t sweet, but I have to say I really like it. Especially if I get an outcome as this…!Intensely flavoured, slightly perfumed from the wine, a bit cheesy and wonderfully creamy. What’s a better dinner than a big, hot and steamy bowl of risotto mixed with soft spinach, slightly sour goat’s cheese and a bit of tangy lemon??After making the basic risotto recipe, the rice will be ready for 75%The idea is you’ll finish it off with a following recipePerfect if you have people over for dinner - make the base in advance and just leave it until you need it!Spinach Risotto with Goat’s Cheesebased on Jamie Oliver’s recipe from Cook with Jamie.(according to Jamie it serves 8, but if you want a good hearty portion, don’t count on more than 4 or 5 portions!)ingredients for the basic risotto:- 1 Litre (1 ¾ pint) vegetable stock- 2 Tbsp olive oil- 1 Tbsp butter- 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped- 6 sticks of celery, trimmed and finely chopped- 600g (1lb 6oz) risotto rice- 250 ml dry white wineextra ingredients for the spinach risotto with goat’s cheese:- 75g (2/3 stick, 1/3 cup) butter- olive oil- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped- nutmeg, for grating- 250g (9oz) spinach, washed and dried- sea salt and freshly ground pepper- 700 ml (1 ¼ pint) vegetable stock- 1-2 hands freshly grated Parmesan Cheese- ½ a lemon- 200g soft goat’s cheese, crumbled- extra virgin olive oilBasic risotto:If you make the risotto in advance, oil a large tray and set aside.1. Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan.Put olive oil and butter in an other large pan, add onion and celery and cook very gently for about 10 minutes, without colouring, until soft.2. Add the rice and turn up the heat - keep the rice movingPour in the wine and keep stirring all the time until all the alcohol has evaporated, leaving the rice nicely perfumed.3. Add the stock to the rice a ladle at a time, stirring and waiting until it has been fully absorbed before adding the next. Turn the heat down a bit to prevent cooking the rice to quickly, (the inside will[...]

Wednesday Baking III: Honey and Spice Cake


To keep my tradition going, I started my lovely free morning Wednesday again with some baking.Because Wednesday Baking seems to be equal for using lots of raisins and cinnamon, I made sure this week’s recipe would also be loaded with both and ended up making a variation on Delia Smith’s Spice Cake.Spice Cake is a true no fuss cake;It isn’t very special or difficult to make - and I doubt it will ever win a beauty price - but in its simplicity, this cake is really irresistible and tastes so incredibly good.If you just want something simple with a special twist; this is definitely your cake. I substituted the candied peel for raisins and increased the amount of honey. This honey was just faintly traceable but did give it its nice and soft texture.This cake is crumbly, spicy, extremely flavourful and has a lovely orange hint. The fresh and tangy lemon icing pairs beautifully with it; perfect with a nice cup of tea for one of those cold autumn days.p.s.Tasting Life is silver! Yes, already 25th posts (!) Absolutely nothing, if you compare it with certain other blogs, but I‘m still very glad I even got this far. I keep learning and having fun so… up to the 1000th! ;) honey and spice cake- 100 g (1/3 cup) clear, runny honey- 1 tsp ground ginger- 2 tsp ground cinnamon- 225 g (8 ounces) all-purpose flour- 75 g (3 ounces) golden caster sugar- finely grated zest 1 orange- finely grated zest 1 lemon- 110 g (1 stick/1/2 cup) butter, room temperature- 1 egg, beaten- 1 tsp baking soda- 150g (¾ cup) raisinsicing:- 175 g (6 ounces) icing sugar- 2 Tbsp lemon juice + 2 Tbsp warm water1. Preheat oven to 170°C (325°F) and lightly butter a 20 cm (8 inch) round cake tin.2. Put the honey in a small bowl. Place this bowl into a saucepan containing almost boiling water and warm up the honey a little. (not too much, just a little)3. Sift spices and flour into a large mixing bowl. Add sugar, orange and lemon zest. Now add the butter in small pieces. Rub it lightly into the flour with your fingertips, until the mixture becomes crumbly. Using a fork, lightly mix in the beaten egg, followed by the warm honey.In a small bowl, mix the baking soda with 3 tablespoons of cold water, stir until dissolved, and add it to the cake mixture. beat, quite hard, until the mixture is smooth and soft.Stir in the raisins and spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, spreading it out evenly. Bake the cake for about 50 minutes, until well risen and firm to the touch.Let cool for 10 minutes, then turn it out on to a wire rack to cool completely.4. For the icing; sift the icing sugar into a bowl, add 2 tablespoons of hot water along with the lemon juice and mix to a thin consistency that will coat the back of a spoon. If you don't think it's thin enough add a little more water.Now place a large plate underneath the cake on the wire rack and pour the icing all over, letting it run down and coat the sides a bit.Store in an airtight container.[...]

Paris Time: Chocolate Éclairs


I love watching TV series while I peel peanuts, my cat Romeo, morning fog, cherries, the smell of Christmas trees, my family -But I as well love Paris.Nothing overdramatic or something to exaggerate, but still a kind of special, distinctive feeling which I can not really explain. My tummy flips when I’m daydreaming about living there and I just simply want to be in Paris -Well, maybe you’ve already noticed my count down here on the right… but in 24 days I will be on my way to Paris; city of lights and love, shopping paradise and gourmet walhalla (!)I can’t wait to stroll down the Champs Elysee, taking the Paris metro, having some macarons again, sipping on my café au lait, exploring the different arrondissements a bit better and purchase some new winter fashion - which nobody will have here in Holland, wha-ha... -I’m going for 3 days with my mum and sister and I can’t wait - (and it will be a true miracle if I will get to see and do everything that’s already on my list…)I’ve only been 2 times in Paris, both for my birthday - when I was 10 and last year, for my 15th birthday. To get (even more) in the Paris mood, I decided to try and make éclairs. Chocolate éclairs.I only have had 3 or 4 éclairs in my life; all in Paris at Fauchon, Maison du Chocolat and bakery Paul.So the stakes and expectations were rather high…Luckily the whole process went very smoothly and as you’ve already seen on the first photograph…my own éclairs turned out beautifully and very delicious.They are not quite yet in the same league as Fauchon’s, but this is truly a great recipe and it did give a real similar feeling as the one from last year…I actually don’t really like custard or things filled with pastry cream - I’m not that keen on profiteroles or millefeuillesbut this cream filling - o my godThis pastry cream is different, slightly vanilla-infused and it is much lighter, as a result of adding whipped cream into the batter.This is very nice, and will make it possible to devour 5 or 6 Éclairs easily without needing any pause…It was a lot of work, definitely if you compare it with the time it took to gobble them down…, but all worth it.And who knows…if things go as I want, maybe you can have one someday at JULIA instead of Fauchon… ;)Chocolate Éclairs (makes 30)Pâte à choux:- 115g (1stick/½ cup) butter, cut into pieces- 1 tsp sugar + ½ tsp salt- 150g (1 ¼ cups) all-purpose flour- 4 large eggs (plus 1 egg white, if needed - I didn’t need it)Pastry cream:- 500ml (2 cups) whole milk- 100g (½ cup) sugar- ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)- pinch of salt- 4 egg yolks- 75g (¼ cup) cornstarch 2 Tbsp butter, cut into small piecesChocolate glaze:- 170g (6 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped- 565ml (2 ¼ cups) heavy cream- 1 Tbsp honey1. Begin with the pastry cream:In a medium saucepan, combine milk, half of the sugar, vanilla and salt.Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer.In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining sugar. Whisking constantly, slowly pour 100ml (½ cup) of the hot-milk mixture into the egg-yolk mixture. Continue adding milk (100ml/½ cup at a time) until it has been incorporated.Pour mixture back into the saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens.Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixture fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter, and beat on medium speed until the butter melts and the mixture cools, about 5 minutes.Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the pas[...]

Wednesday Baking II : Carrot cake Muffins with Cinnamon Glaze…


It’s Wednesday today, and just like last week, I’ve had a lovely quiet morning today, filled with baking, a bit of blogging and alo-hot of tasting.This morning I made Carrot cake Muffins.I just realized this is again a recipe with lots of raisins and cinnamon (!) Talk about coincidence…=)The recipe is from Delia Smith. I love her Vegetarian Collection - it’s a big, beautiful book with simple and complicated recipes and the most amazing photo’s - even a simple potato looks gorgeous in here.According to Delia this is the absolute best carrot cake there is. She worked on the recipe for years, carefully analysed it and made a lot of little adjustment over the years.Changing the recipe seemed very stupid and completely sacrilege, so I followed the instructions precisely...My only adjustment was the use of little muffin tins instead of two large cake pans. I was very pleased with the outcome; they were a lot easier to make and don’t they look sweet??I’m very glad I didn’t change a single thing: this is indeed the best carrot cake everIt’s sweet, dense and spongy and still fairly healthy judging all the ingredients...You can taste all the different ingredients and flavours, but what really special is, is that not one single thing dominates in this cake – all the lovely flavours work together and are simply a perfect match!Although I liked the cinnamon glaze, I prefer the muffin served just plain with the syrup…I love this syrup - It’s without a doubt the best addition ever for a carrot cake. It will be perfectly moist (but not wet!) unbelievably sweet and so delicious…well, you just have to try it yourself ;)Carrot cake Muffins with Cinnamon Glaze (makes 18 muffins)base:- 175g (1 cup packed) dark brown sugar- 2 eggs- 1 ½ dl (2/3 cup) sunflower oil- 200g (1 2/3 cups) self raising flour (wholemeal)- 1 tsp baking soda- 3 tsp mixed spices (cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and white pepper)- 200g (= 1 ½ cups packed, when grated) carrots, scraped and roughly grated- zest of one 1 orange- 100g (½ cup) raisins- 50g (2/3 cup) grated coconut- 50g (½ cup) pecan nutssyrup:- juice of one little orange- 1 Tbsp lemon juice- 75g (½ cup packed, minus 3 Tbsp) dark brown sugarglaze:- 125g (1/2 cup) mascarpone- 100g (1/2 cup) fresh cream cheese (8%fat)- 2 tsp cinnamon powder- 3 tsp brown sugar- 50g (½ cup) pecan nuts (for the topping)1. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F)Make the cinnamon glaze first: whip all ingredients together until they’re creamy, cover with plastic foil and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.Divide all the pecan nuts (100g) over a baking sheet. Grill for 6 minutes and turn oven back to 170°C (325°F)2. Cut half of the amount of nuts roughly up for the cake base, and the rest very finely for the topping.3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix sugar, eggs and oil for about 2 to 3 minutes, until sugar is completely dissolved. Sift flour, baking soda and mixed spices (put back the grains!) stir and add the ingredients to the cake base.4. Butter and flour a muffin pan and a small cake pan. Pour base in forms (don’t fill them completely! About 2/3) and bake for 30 minutes, well risen and firm. When they stick to their forms, bake for another 2 to 3 minutes and check again. Leave them in their tins and make the syrup.5. For the syrup: whisk together both citrus fruits and add in the sugar. Mix well. Prick (with a toothpick) little holes in the muffins/cake and divide and pour over the syrup.6. Let cool completely. Take them out off their forms and spread (if you wish...) with cinnamon glaze. Sprinkle with chopped pecans a[...]

Wednesday Baking: Cinnamon Raisin Bread


On Wednesday I’ve two classes plus my first one starts at two in the afternoon - no wonder my favourite school day is Wednesday.I love I don’t have to set on the alarm and I can spend the whole morning wandering around alone and in my pyjamas. It’s beginning to become a bit of a habit to use this time to keep my blog a bit updated and, maybe you already guessed, bake something.When I wake up on this Wednesday morning, the house is empty and it’s completely silent.- I make my morning cappuccino in peace, turn on the radio and start leafing through my cookbooks (a bit drooling…) and looking for something to make.This morning, absorbed in one of my favourite and most used cookbooks - Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook - I spotted this recipe for Cinnamon Raisin Bread. I love cinnamon. It’s without a doubt my favourite spice, I put it always on my cappuccino and have the tendency to double or triple the amount that’s asked for in my recipes. In short - this recipe sounded just perfect (especially with another cappuccino!) and I started my Wednesday morning baking session…I have to say - I hope I don‘t sound too cocky… - everything I’ve made so far from cookbook recipes with a picture, looked very similar or sometimes even identical, as my outcome.The only real surprises came from the experimental baking…Well, up till now. This time my making didn’t even look slightly as the picture out the book…Martha Stewart’s picture of this Cinnamon Raisin Bread was light, airy and well, very breadlike. Although it was a bit of a shock mine wasn’t, - I think my yeast didn’t do his job so well... - it was yet one of the best, extremes things I’ve ever tasted. I can't imagine Martha’s version had been any better or have more flavour than my version…It was delicious, I loved it. It was compact, a bit cookie-ish and soft, and completely perfumed with cinnamon and sugar. Luscious golden-brown and with an amazing over-the-top sweet sticky cinnamon-syrup-swirl inside. It’s indescribable. The texture was perfect and if you had told me about this filling, I know I wouldn’t have believed that so much goodness would all been inside. I didn’t wait and let cool completely before slicing, and a slightly warm, thick stream of cinnamon sugar came oozing out. Is it possible to get it more sinful or delicious than that?The dough itself was wonderfully soft and warm, and a real pleasure to knead. But keep in mind this isn’t a recipe you finish in an hour or so, it will definitely take you a while with all the rising and rolling, so pick a good moment and take your time (!)A bit obvious; don’t eat this bread as a quick snack out the hand or for example when you’re dressed in white and you don’t have any napkins. Guaranteed trouble. Do devour it however, in thin slices and with a nice cup of tea (and plenty of napkins...) Cinnamon Raisin Bread (makes 2 loaves)- 1 envelope (¼ ounce/7g) active dry yeast- 480 ml (2 cups) warm milk- 950g (6 ½ cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting- 115g (1 stick/½ cup) butter, room temperature, cut into pieces, plus more for pans- 100g (½ cup) sugar- 2 eggs, plus 1 egg, lightly beaten- 2 ½ tsp coarse salt - 200g (1 cup) raisins- 1 Tbsp ground cinnamonfilling:- 300g (1 ½ cups) dark brown castor sugar- 2 Tbsp ground cinnamon1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk and whisk to combine. Add the flour, butter, sugar, 2 eggs, and salt. Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed until all the ingredients[...]

Prinsjesdag & Royal Cookies


Every third Tuesday of September - as tomorrow - is Prinsjesdag.Prinsjesdag, literally translated day of the princes, is the official opening of the Dutch parliamentary year. On this day the Queen rides in her Gouden Koets (Golden Coach) all the way through The Hague. She begins her route at the Noordeinde Palace and ends at the Dutch Parliament on het Binnenhof.Here, in de Ridderzaal, she reads her annual speech in which she introduces the plans of the government, together with the national budget for the Netherlands for the new year.The name ‘Golden Coach’ is in fact a bit misleading, since the wood is only partially gilded; the rest of it is painted. The carriage is decorated with symbolic motifs and is drawn by eight horses...Prinsjesdag is a real festive day here in Holland; flags are hanged out and the whole city is orange. (the Royal name is Van Oranje-Nassau… oranje means orange!)There is carnival, thousands of tourists come to The Hague and…we get a day off from school!We can go watch the parade, look at the carriage, wave at the queen and - what I especially enjoy - go check out what kind of outfits with big ridiculous matching hats the royals picked out to wear this year! Maybe feathers this year? A pyramid, some vegetables, or simply some fruit? Because my mother works in the second chamber, (part of the parliament) I grew up very close to all this and is it very fun to walk nonchalant by the tourists, past the security and go inside…!The year I was 8 (a time where there weren’t terrorist alarms yet) my mum even found a short cut to Het Binnenhof and I could sneak all the way to the front and stand right next to the Golden Coach…=)I’m not at all pro-royal, but yet I enjoy this day always very much.Prinsjesdag seemed a good motive (and excuse!) for me to bake something orange, royal and of course, sweet! I made these royal cookies with orange and ginger. I adapted them from the classic gingerbreadmans - added orange zest and orange juice, shaped them into little crowns and decorated them with a simple sugar glaze and orange muisjes.These cookies are delicious, smell incredible and have a slightly orange hint. They are thin and crispy, a bit buttery and full of flavour. Although the glaze and decorating does give an extra touch, and is fun to do!, they are also delicious just plain.Royal Orange Ginger Cookies (makes about 2 dozen) - 420g (3 ½ cup) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting - 1 ½ tsp baking soda - ¼ tsp salt - 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon - 1 ½ tsp ground ginger - 1 tsp ground allspice - 225g (2 sticks/1 cup) butter, room temperature - 150g (¾ cup) granulated sugar - 135 g (¾ cup) packed dark-brown sugar - 2 tsp orange zest - 1 egg - 70g (¼ cup) unsulfured molasses icing: - 200g (1 cup) icing sugar - 1to 2 Tbsp orange juice and 1 Tbsp orange zest1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice. Set aside.2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, both sugars and orange zest on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in egg and molasses to combine. With mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture, beating until just incorporated.3. Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half, shape into flattened disks and wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate at least one hour or overnight.4. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and line to baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.Remove dough from the refrigerator, and let stand until [...]

Triple Love Biscotti


I’ve told you before about my undying love for kruidnoten.So when I saw they - very logic since it’s half September… - had entered the shops, you maybe understand my first impulse was to buy the entire pile, rip open every bag and build my own kruidnoten-house where I could happily live in.But I as well became a bit confused about it.What was going on here? This isn’t normal! Do they think we don’t have a calendar - it’s 3 months till December! It’s just absurd!Therefore I decided to go on strike and will refuse to participate in this ridiculous nonsense. I will be strong and will turn every kruidnoot down till half November!Uhm…Ok.It's true.I did buy one bag.But I can explain it one hundred percent -I had to buy it.I needed them for the following Triple Love Biscotti…so it doesn’t count and I’m still strong and still on strike (!)Now is the first love in ‘triple love biscotti’ explained.The second and third love will be also clear when I tell you they contain chocolate and coffee.They contain chocolate coffee. ;)This combination of flavours and spices is just absolutely heaven and perfect with a nice cup of coffee… This biscotti (cantucci) is flavourful and exactly crunchy enough. It has a perfect subtle hint of coffee and the delicious big chunks of chocolate and kruidnoojes will melt a bit when you dunk it in your coffee…I used my favourite biscotti recipe, which originally has hazelnuts (another love) instead of kruidnoten - also very, very good…Triple Love Biscotti (makes bout 20)- 280g (2 cups) all-purpose flour- 150g (¾ cup) granulated sugar- 1 tsp baking powder- pinch of salt- 1 tsp cinnamon powder- 2 tsp instant espresso powder- 3 eggs- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract- 100g (1cup) kruidnoten, roughly chopped- 85g (½ cup) bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped1. Preheat oven to 150° C (300° F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper2. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and vanilla extract. Mix in a large bowl flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and espresso powder. Add the egg mixture and beat until a dough forms, kneading with the back of your spoon and adding the chocolate and kruidnoten about halfway through. 3. Form a dough ball and divide it in two. Roll each half, on a lightly floured surface, out into a log - 20 cm long and 7 cm wide. Transfer them onto the prepared baking sheets and bake for 40 minutes, or until firm to touch. 4. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes5. On a cutting board, using a sharp knife, cut slantwise both logs in slices, 1 to 2 cm tick6. Arrange the slices on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. remove them from the oven and turn slices over, bake again for another 10 minutes, until nice, firm and golden-brown on both sides.7. Remove from oven and let cool. Store in an airtight container.[...]

SHF23 Surprise Inside - Brownie Explosion...


Surprise!I’m joining in the greatest Food Blogger’s sweet-tooth event: Sugar High Friday. This month’s theme is, big surprise!, Surprise Inside and is hosted by Alanna from A Veggie Venture.I love my sweets but yet I had a hard time choosing what to enter.What is the ultimate surprise?Finding a broken nail from the hostess in your dessert is also a surprise, but not really the one I was hoping for…But what then?What’s the best base and what’s its best surprise?The answer was actually rather simple: chocolate.chocolate, chocolate and... chocolate!I began a bit of experimenting and ended up making these dense and dark brownies. Very rich, pure, oozy and delicious. Instead of making one big one, I put them in individual little muffin-tins, and for the big surprise…I buried cherry liqueur pralines inside them.Can you really think of a nicer surprise than finding a soft kirsch centre, an explosion of flavour, inside the best brownie you’ve ever tasted? The whole thing went quite well actually - I made the batter, placed the surprise-filling in the tins, covered them up and placed them in the oven… - but let’s just say it was a real surprise to find that after 20 minutes 12 little chocolate volcano’s had arisen in my oven, very angry and spewing out their lovely sugary-kirsch lava…OK, this was not really the surprise I was hoping for(!)One tip, (in retrospect quite logic, but still…) make sure you completely cover up the bonbons - I used two different kinds of liqueur pralines (see photo above) and left the ones with those nice stems a bit uncovered…not my best move.If you leave them uncovered, the alcohol will run out easily and vaporize when it’s chocolate layer melts…and they will turn out like this! But luckily -surprise!- this didn’t ruin them at all (!)they still looked very beautiful and they tasted absolutely amazing. Dark and dense, so rich and overwhelmingly chocolaty with still a delicious soft oozy kirsch centre… Definitely worth a try!I’ve added of course, - no surprise here - the recipe for you to try (and love)Brownie Explosions (makes 16)- 250g butter (2 sticks/1 cup)- 250g best quality bittersweet chocolate (1,5 cup) chopped- 4 eggs- 325g (1 2/3 cup) fine granulated sugar- 150g (1 ¼ cup) all-purpose flour- pinch of salt- 16 Cherry Liquor pralines.1. Preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F) and grease and flour a muffin-tin2. melt the butter and chocolate on low heat, stirring once in a while. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Mix in a different bowl the flour and salt. 3. Take the chocolate mixture away from the heat when it’s completely melted, and let it cool off a bit before adding it to the eggs.4. Add the chocolate mixture to the eggs and mix well. Add the flour and mix until you’ll have a smooth batter.5. Place in every muffin tin a praline and cover them COMPLETELY with the batter. Fill every form. bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until done. The top will be dark and dry, but the centre still sweet, dense and compact. Be alert; the difference between a nice sticky brownie and a dried out one is just a couple of minutes! 6. Let them completely cool in their forms and keep in an airtight box. [...]

Blogging By Mail


A few weeks ago I found out about the Blogging By Mail project, this round organised by Stephanie from The Happy sorceress. The rules are simple:Food bloggers from all over the world swap treats, baked good, recipes and more, sending a care package to a new friend. Cookies, cakes, jellies, breads, candies, teas and coffees, music, cookbooks, photos... Everyone who joins in will be given a swap partner to whom they'll send a package and you can fill your package with whatever you want to share.Of course I immediately signed up - looking very forward to carefully put together my parcel, and not to forget, to receive my own little something (!)My own parcel to send turned out to be very Dutch. I filled it with all kinds of things I love, but also tought of adding a lot of local Dutch stuff, things that would be completely new and unavailable on the other side of the globe.Well, my package has just began its very long journey to its final destination. Please Mr. Postman; be nice and look out a bit for it, handle it with care so it will survive the shipping…!And what a surprise was waiting for me last night…(!)After a very long day at work - I just started my new job working in the kitchen of a grand café/restaurant. - but this is really a different story… - I got home and found waiting for me…MY PARCEL!! *whoe-hoe…!*I wasn’t expecting it to be here so soon at all, but was very happy and excited - I instantly forgot my tiredness and opened anxiously my parcel…O, and what a wonderful and beautiful stuff where inside! It turned out to come from Mademoiselle Differentiell out of Switzerland and she wrote a lovely letter, which I really enjoyed reading, where she a bit explained what she had send and why.This is what I got;Not one, not two, but three chocolate bars out of Switzerland! She had read on my blog that I like hazelnuts so she chose a hazelnuts-bar (isn’t that thoughtful??) and two extra fine dark ones…A bottle of Rivella - Rivella is a soft drink and comes originally from Switzerland, but is actually being widely exported to many countries; including the Netherlands (!) So unfortunately I already knew it, but I like the gesture! =)And last, but certainly not least, she added some delicious self-made goodies: a jar of dandelion marmalade which she has made quite often since kindergarten, Nidelzalte - caramel candies and sables. Of course far more than you can see on the photograph, but I couldn’t help it and started sampling…- quickly this was all that was left to photograph. I absolutely loved them! And I think Mademoiselle Differentiell had foreseen this a bit, because she added three nice little cards where she had written on the recipes! =)Thank you for the lovely thoughtful presents M.D., I loved everything and can’t wait to try the Dandelion Marmalade on toast for breakfast tomorrow!Now, I have just one little question remaining…Where can I sign up for the next round of Blogging By Mail??! ;)[...]



(image) Some days I just crave for sweet. Often something in particular and once I’ve figured out what exactly, I just want to get a move on and make it as soon as I can. (or simply buy it of course…)
Well, last weekend I had this distinct urge for kletskoppen. Kletskoppen are caramelized peanut biscuits and beloved old-Dutch cookies.
Although you can buy them in every supermarket and almost every bakery sells them fresh, I decided to make them myself. I found many, many recipes on the net, all quite similar, so I just merged a few different ones, added to taste some more peanuts and finally ended up with this.

Figurative is a kletskop in Dutch someone who talks a lot and superficial, but this biscuit got its peculiar name - literally translated means it smack head - as a result of the preparation; when you put the dough on the baking sheets, you have to klets (smack) the tops with the back of a spoon and make them as thin as you can. This way you will get a lovely crispy cookie.

A kletskop is made of almost only sugar and will melt in the oven to a delicious crispy biscuit with little holes in it. They are sweet and crunchy, great to nibble on or served with dessert. ice cream for example.

Kletskoppen (makes 20 if you don’t snack to much of the dough…)

- 50 g peanuts, finely chopped
- 125 g brown castor sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 55 g butter, melted
- 50 g all-purpose flour

1. Preheat the oven to 200 ° C and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Mix in a standard mixing bowl castor sugar, cinnamon powder and salt. Add the melted butter and mix until well blended. Add in parts the flour and chopped peanuts and mix until you’ll have a compact dough.

3. Shape little balls, about a tablespoon full, and place them with 10 cm space between them on the baking sheets. Smack them with the back of a spoon out as thinly as you can. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes until melted, paper-thin and golden brown. Leave them to cool and harden on the baking sheets and keep in an airtight box.