Brunsli – Swiss Chocolate Cookies

Brunsli - Swiss Chocolate Cookies
I don’t know about you but I love organising dinner parties. I get so excited when I can plan, prepare, cook, decorate, welcome the guests and entertain them. Continue reading

This Saturday, after a long time I’m hosting my fiancé’s birthday party at my home. The guest list is getting longer by the minute and honestly I don’t really know where to place everyone since I’m afraid the table will be too small for the number of guests. I have a couple of days to figure this out.

Talking about parties, soon the festive season will start and a thing I like to do is to spread the love with a few sweet treats like these “Basler Brunsli”. It’s the first time I’ve made them, usually I would taste the store bought ones and I can gladly say that these are so much better than the commercial ones. These traditional Swiss cookies, besides being gluten-free, have a great chocolaty taste without being dry. Now that I have tried these, I will never go back to the store bought ones. For this easy recipe I went around the Internet and saw that the ratios are basically everywhere the same. In my version of the recipe (which I adapted from the site: famillesuisse.ch ), I added a little cocoa powder and a little salt.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL WHO CELEBRATE IT! 😀

Brunsli - Swiss Chocolate Cookies

 

Brunsli – Swiss Chocolate Cookies

 

Recipe for about 30-35 pieces (depending on the cookie cutter size)

Prep time: 30 min (+ 6-12 hours resting time)

Cooking time: 5 min

 

Ingredients:

250 g ground almonds

200 g sugar (I used brown sugar)

1 tbsp. cocoa powder

100 g dark chocolate (85% cocoa beans)

2 egg whites

½ tsp. salt

1 pinch cinnamon powder

 

Recipe

In a bowl mix the ground almonds, sugar, cocoa powder, salt and cinnamon.

In another bowl whisk the egg whites to a peak (optionally add a pinch of salt).

Gently blend the egg whites with the content of the first bowl.

Fill a third bowl with warm water (not boiling) and place the chocolate to soften for 3-4 min (it’s important not to stir). After the time has passed, remove the water and add the chocolate to the rest of the ingredients and gently fold the chocolate in.

Roll out the dough until it’s about 1 cm thick. To do this place the dough between to pieces of waxed paper, the situation will be less sticky and easier to work with.

Using the cookie cutter of your choice, start cutting out the shapes. To make the removal of the dough easier, dip the cookie cutter into a little sugar. When there is no more room to cut any more cookies, gather the dough and roll it out once more. Repeat until the dough is finished.

Place the cookies on a baking tray lined with waxed paper and let them dry between 6 hours to a whole night.

Heat the oven to 250 and bake for 5 min. Remove from the oven and let them cool on a rack.

St. Gallen Convent Jam Pie

St. Gallen Convent Jam PieThe nice thing with baking is that it leaves you spare time while the oven does the work. Lately, time is something I need since I’m going through some struggle with my blog. Continue reading

I know people haven’t been able to comment on my posts (by the way, thanks for notifying me) but I still don’t really know what is going wrong. Besides this, I’m also trying to solve other computer related problems. Now I can honestly acknowledge the extent of my ignorance on the technical part of blogging and it’s frustrating. So now, I’ll get down and try to learn more about the subject. The good thing though is that I have this pie (from canton St. Gallen) to pull my spirits up when frustration gets too intense 😉 This Convent Jam Pie is a little like the Linzer Torte but I find it not to be as dry and I love what the addition of cocoa does to its flavour. Recipe adapted from the book La Suisse Gourmande. By the way, thanks to John from From The Bartolini Kitchens who, with his Crostata recipe, inspired me to make this pie.

 

St. Gallen Convent Jam Pie

 

Recipe for a 24 cm diameter pie tart

Prep time: 15 min (+ 30 min resting time)

Cook time: 45 min

 

Ingredients

150 g butter

100 g sugar

100 g ground almonds

300 g flour

20 g cocoa powder

10 baking powder

1 egg (separated)

0.6 dl milk

200 g jam (the recipe called for currant jam but I used cherry, any other flavour would work)

Icing sugar (optional)

 

Recipe

In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar together.

Add the ground almonds, raising powder, cocoa, cinnamon, flour, milk and the egg white. Quickly work the dough with all of the ingredients until its consistence detaches itself from the bowl. Cover and let it rest in the fridge for 30 min.

Meanwhile grease a 24 cm round cake mould.

With your hands, spread ¾ of the dough over the bottom of the cake mould. Spread the jam over it leaving a little margin over the edge.

Roll out the remaining dough and cut strip that you will place on top of the pie in a criss-cross manner.

Beat the egg yolk and brush the surface of the cake dough with it.

Place in the oven and cook for 45 min. Remove from oven and cool before serving. Optionally sprinkle icing sugar on top.

 

Cocoa and Chestnut Muffins

Cocoa and Chestnut Muffins I always like it when a season ends and the next comes up, don’t you? Continue reading

Colours are changing, days are shorter and even if it’s still warm the autumn air and feel is more and more present. The past couple of weeks I have been craving foods like pumpkin soup, fire roasted chestnuts, game meat with spaetzle and on a cold and rainy night I could even go for a fondue… According to this mood I decided to make these cocoa and chestnut muffins. For this recipe I took as a basis Michael Ruhlman’s muffin recipe in his book Ratio. From there I adapted the recipe according to the ingredients I was using. I find that muffins are a friendly food and when I make some I always give at least half of them away. This time, I shared my muffins with my mother and her boyfriend, I brought them when they invited me for dinner last Sunday.

Cocoa and Chestnut MuffinsCocoa and Chestnut Muffins

Cocoa and Chestnut Muffins

 

Cocoa and Chestnut Muffins

 

Recipe for 12 muffins

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 20-25 min

 

Ingredients:

190 g flour (+ more for dusting)

150 g brown sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 eggs

2.3 dl milk

100 g soft butter (+ more to grease the muffin tin)

1 tbsp. cocoa

1 vanilla pod

70g chopped cooked chestnuts

Icing sugar

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 190°C.

Grease the muffin tin with some butter and dust it with flour.

In a bowl add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Incise the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds. In a second bowl mix the milk, vanilla seeds and the butter. Once the three ingredients are well combined add the eggs and whisk again.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and stir until just combined. Fold in the chopped chestnuts and pour the mix in the muffin tin. Gently tap the muffin tim on a surface to make any bubbles come to the surface.

Place in the oven for 20-25 min. Check for doneness with a tooth pick. Remove from the oven and leave them for 3-5 min. Take the muffins out of their moulds and dust them with icing sugar.

Cocoa Eggy Bread with Caramelized Pears

Cocoa Eggy Bread with Caramelized PearsI do love fresh bread out of the baker but on the other side I am also a huge fan of its potential when it goes stale. Continue reading

Most of the time I made bread crumbs but when it hasn’t gone too dry, I make eggy bread or “pain perdu” as I usually call it. Since my mother comes from the French region of Switzerland I guess my cooking has been under much of her influence. It didn’t happen often that my mother made “pain perdu”, but because it was a once in a while thing, I really enjoyed it. She used to serve it with some jam, maybe one she made using the fruits of our garden. She didn’t add any cocoa but when I tasted this recipe I was back in the eighties. This super simple recipe is a great reason not to waste bread. Eggy bread is something you can make sweet or savoury and you can serve it with just about anything; it’s like a pancake or a crepe.                                                             The “pain perdu” is a French recipe but as Switzerland is in the middle of countries known for their culinary heritage we have always been happy to borrow their ideas. The second thing is that many of our cantons have belonged to those same countries during one historic period or another. We have a shared culinary tradition with regions of France, Italy, Austria and Germany. My canton Ticino, for example,  has only been made Swiss during the Napoleonic empire in 1803.

 

Cocoa Eggy Bread with Caramelized Pears

 

Cocoa Eggy Bread with Caramelized Pears

 

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 12-15 min

 

Ingredients:

For the Cocoa Eggy Bread:

8 medium sized slices of Zopf (the kind of bread I used) bread or brioche, about 1-1.5 cm

2 eggs

2 dl milk

2 heaped tsp cocoa powder

4 tbsp icing sugar

2-3 tbsp butter

Optional: icing sugar to decorate before serving

 

For the pears:

2 pears

3 tbsp icing sugar

1 tsp of water

1 tbsp butter

 

Recipe:

Peel and core the pears and cut the in half lengthways. Divide each half in two (top and bottom) and cut the fruit into wedges.

Melt the butter in a pan and add the pears, sugar and water. Cook on a medium heat to caramelize for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once ready set aside.

While the pears are caramelizing, in a bowl mix the eggs, the milk, the sugar and the cocoa.

Melt half of the butter in a non-stick pan over medium heat.  Dip half of the bread slices in the egg/milk/sugar/cocoa mix and place them in the pan with the butter.  Brown the slices on each side for about 2-3 minutes. Repeat with the other batch of bread slices.

Serve with the caramelized apples and optionally sprinkle a little icing sugar on the bread.

Torta di Pane – Bread Cake / Pudding from Ticino

Torta di Pane 1This cake reminds me of the mountain. I don’t know why but as a kid my parents always had some when we were up in the very rustic mountain hut in the middle of the Alps (a granite building from the 18th century at 1900 meters). Continue reading

For us, more or less it was the only time of the year where it was a tradition to have it. This typical recipe from my canton is the poor man’s recipe and it’s a way to recycle stale bread. I know it’s an easy recipe but I felt that with this cake, expectations were high. Over here, this is the kind of recipe where people always tend to answer something like this:

‘I only eat my grandma’s torta di pane.’

‘My aunt is the best at making the torta di pane.’

‘My Mum makes an amazing torta di pane.’

I really wanted to try so I sat down in front of four different versions of the cake. The first version is one I dearly kept aside until I actually tried this ‘torta’ the other day. This recipe comes from a family friend: Lori. Traditionally people use sultanas with candied fruits, instead in her version she uses dried apricots (which I prefer) and candied fruits. Then, I had a look at two book versions with totally different amounts of milk (one 0.5 l the other 1 l) and one added pine nuts while the other went for almonds. I think I wanted to get a bit more confused because I went for a last reference on the internet and found a last recipe which I actually really liked: http://pandipane.blogspot.ch/2013/10/la-torta-di-pane-della-mia-nonna.html (site in Italian language). My rules for the cake were that it should be moist and the taste of cocoa should be noticeable but not overwhelming and I loved the addition of apricots instead of sultanas. Once the cake was ready I got three people to taste it: my boyfriend and two other friends. The three liked it and the only comment I got was from by boyfriend who said it needed a bit more sugar… He’s got a pretty sweet tooth though. So if this is your case, you can go ahead and add a bit more sugar. The flavour of the ‘Torta di Pane’ reminds me my childhood and maybe this is also why I really enjoyed it. I hope you will like it too.

Torta di Pane 4

 

Torta di Pane – Bread Cake / Pudding from Ticino

For a 26-28 cm round cake mold

Prep time: 20 min (plus soaking time)

Cook time: about 1 hour

 

Ingredients:

200 g stale bread

100 g amaretti

7 dl milk

1 vanilla pod

100 g dried apricots (the sour kind) – alternatively use sultanas and/or candied fruits

Zest of 1 small lemon

100 g pine nuts

6 tbsp cocoa

2 eggs

100 g sugar

50 g melted butter

A dash of grappa (optional)

Icing Sugar (optional)

 

Recipe:

In a bowl or container break the bread into small pieces and add the amaretti.

Put the milk in a pan. Incise the vanilla pod by its length, add to the milk and bring to a boil. Once ready pour over the stale bread and amaretti and leave to soak ideally over night but a few hours can do too. You can leave the vanilla pod in, just remember to remove it once the bread and biscuits have soaked.

Chop the dried apricots and place them in a cup. Add hot water and leave them to soak for a couple of hours.

Heat oven at 190°C.

Once the bread and amaretti have soaked, mash them with a fork until the mass looks like poultice.  Drain the apricots and add them to the bread preparation along with the cocoa, the lemon zest, and ¾ of the pine nuts.

In a separate bowl  mix well the eggs and the sugar and add the butter and eventually the grappa. Pour over the rest and mix the ingredients until the mass looks even; you can either use your hands or a spatula.

Grease the sides of a cake tin and dust with flour. Line the bottom of the cake tin with oven paper. Transfer the preparation to the cake tin and even out the surface. Add the remaining pine nuts and place in the oven for about 1 hour.

Once ready leave to cool before removing from mold. Eventually sprinkle surface with icing sugar.