Mississipi Mud Cake

This cake has a soft middle, brownie-like, but a firm and delicious crispy outside.  The main difference with a brownie is the higher flour content (and the booze).

This is the very first cake I ever made and, like your first lab experiment, that’s something you don’t forget.

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Mississipi Mud Cake

  • 250 g butter
  • 150 g dark chocolate
  • 440 g caster sugar
  • 250 ml hot water
  • 80 ml rum
  • 2 tbsp instant coffee
  • 260 g flour
  • 25 g cocoa powder
  • 2 lightly beaten eggs

Preheat the oven at 140 °C fan and grease and line a 20 cm cake tin.

Add the butter, chocolate, sugar, water, rum and coffee in a medium saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon until the ingredients are melted and well combined. Transfer to a bowl and let cool for 15 minutes.

Incorporate the eggs and the sifted cocoa and flour. Transfer the quite liquid mixture into the prepared tin and bake around 90 minutes. Once out of the oven, allow to cool in the tin for 30 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve with whipped cream and fruit. Delicious!

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Cupcakes with Pear and Chocolate Filling

Einstein said that anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new. Cupcakes are ideal for experimenting with whatever you have around the fridge… My filling with pear and chocolate spread provided some encouraging results! Anyone available for an independent replication of the experiment?

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Cupcakes with Pear and Chocolate Filling

For the cupcakes

  • 110 g softened butter
  • 110g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 110g self-raising flour
  • Pear and chocolate spread

Preheat the oven to 160 °C fan and line a 12-hole cupcake tin with paper cases.

Cream butter and sugar until pale, beat in the eggs, one at a time and finally beat in the flour, until just combined (don’t overbeat).

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until 1/3 full, add a teaspoon of the pear and chocolate filling and add more batter up to 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes (until a toothpick comes out clean).

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For the vanilla glaze

  • 15 g butter
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup  powder sugar
  • 2 tbsp  water

Melt the butter and blend the vanilla. Alternate additions of sugar and water, beating until smooth.

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Amarena Cherry and White Chocolate Cookies

Or rather: Amarena Cherry Cookies with Cocoa Butter Chips.

Because “white chocolate” is actually not chocolate, as it doesn’t contain cocoa solids.  White chocolate is produced using the Broma process:  cocoa beans are roasted and hanged inside bags in a warm room; because cocoa butter melts slightly above room temperature, it drips off the beans and can be collected.  White chocolate is made by combining cocoa butter with milk solids and sugar.

Be as it may, these turned out delicious.

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Amarena Cherry and White Chocolate Cookies

  • 115 g softened butter
  • 100 g white sugar
  • 100 g brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 230 g flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 0.25 tsp NaCl
  • 100 g amarena cherries, dry
  • 100 g white chocolate chips

Beat the butter.

Add the sugars and keep beating until creamy.

Add the egg and milk and beat until light and fluffy.

Fold in the flours, baking soda, NaCl, and finally the cherries and white chocolate chips.

Chill the dough.

Preheat the oven to 180 °C, line a baking sheet, place balls of the dough on it and bake for 7 to 10 minutes (same remarks as for the 7 minute cookies)

Cuajada Cheesecake

Cheesecake number 2:  Spanish version, using cuajada.

Cuajada is a creamy dessert typical from the North of Spain, made of milk coagulated using “cuajo”.  Cuajo contains peptidases, that is, proteins that break other proteins :). These peptidases break a protein in the milk, the “casein”, and this causes the milk to go from liquid to a gel-like consistency.  This is because the casein swims in the milk forming “micelles”:  the casein molecules arrange themselves nice and cosy, hiding away from the water the parts of the protein that hate water, and that makes them soluble.  By chopping the casein molecules, the peptidases alter this micelle structure making it go solid (micelles cluster and “precipitate”).  This is also the procedure to make cheese out of milk:  acidification or proteases disrupt the casein micelle structure causing milk to “curdle”.

Cuajada can be bought as a powder that contains cuajo, starch, fructose, sugar, and some E additives.  This gives the cheesecake a very nice and characteristic milky taste.

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Cuajada Cheesecake

Ingredients for a 23-cm diameter springform:

  • 210 g digestive biscuites
  • 150 g butter
  • 500 g whipping cream
  • 100 g sugar
  • 400 g cream cheese
  • 250 ml milk
  • 24 g cuajada powder
  • a pinch of NaCl
  • 150 g raspberry jam

Crumble the cookies by placing them in a plastic bag and crushing them with a rolling pin (or use a food processor).  Mix with the melted butter and use to cover the bottom of the springform, use the bottom of a glass to press down. Place in the fridge.

Dissolve the cuajada in the milk (start by adding a very little amount of milk, and slowly add more, or it won’t dissolve).

Heat up, stirring, the cream, sugar, cheese, and salt in a pot until it starts boiling.  Add the cuajada-milk mixture and return to the heat until it starts boiling again, then remove from heat.  Let cool down a bit, but keep stirring. 

Place the warm mixture on the springform (break the flow by placing a spoon in the middle to avoid disrupting the base).  Bring back to the fridge for 4 hours or best overnight.

Add the jam on top before releasing the cake from the springform. 

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Magdalenas

A.k.a. Spanish muffins.

P1130304.JPGFluffy Magdalenas

  • 2 eggs
  • 170 ml milk
  • 170 ml sunflower oil
  • 170 g sugar
  • 250 g flour
  • 15 g baking powder
  • zest of 1 lemon

Beat the eggs with the sugar, vigorously, until the sugar is dissolved.

Add the oil slowly, beating.

Add the milk, lemon zest, and baking powder, mix.

Fold in the flour.

Fill muffin liners with batter to 1/2.  Add a bit of sugar on top.

Bake at 190°C fan for 15 minutes.

 

Palmeritas de Chocolate

Cakes rising (or rather, not rising) is a common problem during backing.  Puff pastry, though, always works so easily.  From the supermarket straight to success.  There is a scientific reason, of course:  puff pastry is made of very thin layers of dough separated by thin layers of butter.  In the oven, the water in the dough turns to steam “puffing” each layer separately and multiplying the effect with no bouncing back.

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Palmeritas de Chocolate

Homemade sweet stuff, fast.  As easy as:

  • puff pastry 30 x 26 cm
  • 0.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 90 g sugar
  • 10 g vanilla sugar

First, mix thoroughly the cinnamon and sugars, then unfold the puff pastry sheet and fold it to give the shape of the palmeritas whilst adding sugar everywhere. I like how this man does it, it’s in Spanish but you just need to see what he does 🙂

Now bake at 200°C for 15 min, and then turn the palmeritas around and bake them for another 2 or 3 minutes on the other side. Done!

You can eat them like this but I like them with chocolate… so just melt some and dip them in, let them cool and voila!

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Cherry Streusel Cheesecake

Wine and cheese afternoons during working hours are fine and classy, but not worth attending if they are not crowned with a nice cheesecake. That will be my contribution to the party, it’s all about cheese after all.

Cheesecake is a Science in its own right. There are so many ways of making it as cultures involved: New York style, British style, cuajada-based, baked, twice-baked, refrigerated only… even the Japanese have a trendy variety.

I’m starting with a German cheesecake, which typically uses quark and a fresh dough base instead of buttery crushed cookies. Quark is cheese curds, i.e., the proteins that coagulate when enough acid is added to milk.

This new recipe series (look for cheesecake on the right!) is not intended to be a rigorous comparison, we would need a controlled, blinded study for that, and cheesecake is good, yes, but in moderation. Let’s instead record the results as case studies, and maybe in a little while we fancy a nice retrospective analysis based on literature data.

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Cherry Streusel Cheesecake

For the Shortcrust Pastry

  • 1 egg
  • 300 g flour
  • 150 g butter
  • 80 g sugar

Combine the ingredients until the dough is homogeneous.

Wrap in cling film and let it cool in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 160°C fan.

Roll the dough and place on a 30×20 cm baking tray lined with backing paper.

Bake for 15 minutes, and increase the oven temperature to 180°C fan once the tray is out..

For the Streusel

  • 50 g butter
  • 50 g sugar
  • 100 g flour

Put the ingredients in a bowl and rub them using your index finger and thumb until the consistence resembles breadcrumbs.

Let cool in the fridge, covered.
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For the filling

  • zest of one lemon
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 180 g sugar
  • 750 g quark, 0.1% fat
  • 4 eggs
  • 80 g butter
  • 75 g wheat semolina
  • 1 tsp backing powder 
  • 1 pack of vanilla pudding powder (37g)
  • 350 g sour cherries (pitted)

Mix the quark, sugar, egg yolks and lemon (zest and juice).

Add the melted butter.

Combine the vanilla pudding powder, backing powder and semolina and mix with the quark.

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed and fold into the quark filling.

Finally fold in the cherries (drained and lightly dried by tapping with paper tissue).

Pour the filling on the shortcrust pasty and extend carefully.

Finally sprinkle the streusel on top and bake at 180°C fan for 30 to 35 minutes.

Let cool and cut in squares.

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