30 November 2015


Semlor, also called fastlagsbulle, laskiaispulla or fastelavnsbolle, are traditional sweet buns made in various forms in Denmark, Iceland, Finland, and Norway, among other countries. These lovely cardamom-scented buns are traditionally served in Sweden before the beginning of Lent, although you can make them year-round.
They are filled with a rich cardamom custard and fluffy whipped cream, then dusted with icing sugar. One great thing about them is that they are not overly sweet, and the dough is lovely and pillowy soft, especially on the day they are made. You can serve them how ever you like, although I recommend a glass of cold milk, they go best with it.

Semlor recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

For the dough
250 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoons dry yeast
4 tablespoons brown sugar
120 ml whole milk
1 small egg
¼ teaspoon salt
50 grams butter
For the glaze
2 tablespoons milk
For the filling
250 ml whole milk
100 grams sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
100 grams butter, diced
100 ml heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

To make the dough, sift the flour twice with the cardamom, add the yeast and sugar, then whisk it well. Make a well in the centre, pour in the warm milk and the beaten egg, add the salt, and start mixing it with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Transfer the dough to a floured surface, then gently knead it for about 10 minutes, gradually adding the diced butter as you knead. If the dough starts getting too sticky, add another tablespoon of flour. Once everything is well blended, transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover it with a kitchen towel, and let it rise in a warm spot for about an hour to an hour and a half.
To make the filling, whisk the cornstarch with the sugar and cardamom, then pour in the milk and blend thoroughly. Pour this mixture in a large saucepan with a heavy bottom, then place it over medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens, about 2-3 minutes. Remove it from the heat and add the diced butter, then whisk until it melts. Once the butter is melted, cover the surface of the custard with plastic wrap (to prevent a skin from forming), then let it cool until room temperature. Place the cooked cream in the fridge for about 15 minutes. While it's cooling further, whip the heavy cream with the vanilla until stiff peaks form, then gently fold it in the custard. Return the filling to the fridge and chill it for at least an hour.
When the dough is ready, gently knead it on a floured surface, then divide it into 8 equal pieces. You can use a scale to make sure they are all the same weight. Shape each piece into a ball, then arrange them on a large baking sheet lined with baking paper. Let them rise for another 30 minutes. Just before baking, generously brush them with milk. Bake them in a preheated oven, at 200˚C (400˚F), for about 15-20 minutes. Let them cool for about 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then let them cool for about 30 more minutes on the wire rack, so they don't melt the filling. Using a sharp knife, carefully slice about a centimetre (½-inch) of the dough from the top of the bun, then use a teaspoon to remove the dough from inside of the bun. Take the filling from the fridge, pour it in a piping bag with a large nozzle, and generously pipe in the filling. Place the cut part of the dough back on top. Repeat this with the other buns. Dust with icing sugar and serve. Yields 8 buns.

24 November 2015


Danish pastry is a laminated sweet pastry invented in Denmark. Like other pastries of that type, Danish pastry is a variation of puff pastry made of yeast dough that has been folded many times, thus creating a layered texture. Essentially, the dough is rolled out very thinly, covered in cold butter, then folded up and rolled out several times, creating layers. It isn't absolutely necessary, but it is recommended that you chill the dough between the folding. I have found that it is much easier to work with cooled dough, as the butter tends to melt into the dough at room temperature.
Traditionally, butter is used to create the layers and the rich taste, but there is a possibility of using other fats in the making. Danish pastries have different shapes and names in Denmark, and like other viennoiseries, Danish pastry is typically eaten for breakfast or as a snack. If you wish, you can freeze the raw pastries on a baking sheet lined with baking paper, then store them in the freezer up to a month. Just defrost them and bake as you normally would.

Homemade Danish pastry recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

400 grams plain flour
250 ml whole milk
2 teaspoons dried yeast
3 tablespoons sugar
1 medium egg
250 grams unsalted butter

Heat the milk so it's lukewarm, add the yeast and sugar, stir it well, and leave it for about 10 minutes, so the yeast can activate. Sift the flour twice and make a little well in the centre. Add the yeast mixture, and the beaten egg, then mix it with a wooden spoon until a soft and sticky dough forms. Lightly flour your work surface, turn the dough out and knead it for about 5 minutes, until it becomes smooth. If you need, add a bit more flour as you knead, to keep it from sticking to your hands. Place the dough into a clean bowl, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature for about an hour and a half, or until puffy and doubled in size.
While the dough is rising, take the chilled butter and roll it up between two pieces of plastic wrap into a rectangle about 15x30 cm (6x12"). Return the butter to the fridge so it can firm up, as the handling and rolling will soften it up a bit. Once the dough has risen, knead it on a floured surface until it becomes smooth, then let it rest, covered with a kitchen towel, for about 10 minutes. Take a large rolling pin and roll the dough out to about 20x45 cm (8x18"). Take the chilled sheet of butter out of the fridge, and place it flat on the lower part of the dough. Turn the top third of the dough over the butter, press it gently with your hands, then turn the bottom third over the top third. Pinch the edges of the dough to seal it tightly. Rotate the dough about 90 degrees, then very gently roll it out to the starting dimensions (20x45 cm), and repeat the folding (top third to the centre, then bottom third over the top third).
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap (or place it into a large plastic bag), and place it in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Carefully wrap it, because the exposed parts will dry out in the fridge. Make sure you keep the dough in the fridge in the same position you folded it on the work surface, because before each rolling and folding, you need to rotate it about 90 degrees. Once the dough has chilled, take it out of the fridge and roll it out to 20x45 cm again, then fold it in the same way. Warp it in plastic and chill it for another 30 minutes. Repeat this two more times and let the dough rest in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
Take the chilled dough out of the fridge, place it on a floured surface and roll it out to a large rectangle and cut it into 16 squares. Fold them into desired shapes and place them on a large baking sheet lined with baking paper. Let them come to room temperature, about 20-30 minutes, then bake them in a preheated oven, at 200˚C (400˚F) for about 10-15 minutes. Let them cool until just warm, add some crème pâtissière, sprinkle with dark chocolate or fresh fruit, and serve. Yields 16 pastries.

18 November 2015


As brownies are a classic, so are blondies. Buttery, sweetened with brown sugar and mashed bananas, these are just marvellous when eaten well chilled. Pieces of toasted walnuts give them a bit of a crunch, just enough to make the texture more interesting, and make the buttery, nutty flavour be even more prominent. Serve them sliced into small squares, with iced coffee.

Banana blondies recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

120 grams butter
100 grams granulated sugar
100 grams brown sugar
100 grams bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon rum
1 large egg
120 grams plain flour
1 tablespoon cornflour (corn starch)
100 grams walnut pieces

Heat a large pan over medium high heat and, without adding any fat, toast the walnut pieces for about 5-7 minutes, until they start getting brown and fragrant. Remove them from the heat and let them cool down slightly. In a large saucepan, combine diced butter (it can be straight from the refrigerator or softened) and both sugars. Place the saucepan over medium heat, and let everything melt and blend together well. Make sure the mixture does not burn. Remove it from the heat and let it cool down slightly. Mash the bananas, and add them to the butter, along with vanilla and rum.
Mix the batter well, then add in the egg and whisk vigorously to incorporate it. Finally, sift in the plain flour, cornflour, and the walnuts, and combine. Do not overmix the batter, just gently fold everything together using gentle strokes with a rubber spatula. Take a small baking pan (17x17 cm; 7x7") and butter it generously, then pour in the batter and level it. Bake in a preheated oven, at 170˚C (340˚F), for about 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Do not overbake the blondies, because they will be dry. Best served chilled. Yields 9 blondies.

12 November 2015


The piña colada is a sweet cocktail made with rum, coconut cream, and pineapple juice, usually served shaken with ice. While it is a refreshing summer cocktail, it is a great cake, too. Cake layers are soft and tender, made with desiccated coconut and coconut yogurt; and the filling is enriched with dark rum and fresh pineapple chunks. Although it may be tempting, my suggestion is not to increase the amounts of rum and pineapple, because more rum can make the filling a bit bitter, and if you overdo the pineapple, it will be difficult to slice and serve the cake. The cake is best served really well chilled.

Piña colada cake recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

For the cake
250 grams plain flour
100 grams cornflour (corn starch)
50 grams desiccated coconut
3 teaspoons baking powder
250 grams softened butter
200 grams sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
250 grams coconut yogurt
4 large eggs, separated
2 teaspoons coconut extract
For the filling
600 ml whole milk
50 grams cornflour (corn starch)
50 grams desiccated coconut
1 tablespoon plain flour
100 grams sugar
100 grams white chocolate
250 grams softened butter
200 grams fresh pineapple, diced
For the decoration
400 ml heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon food colouring (optional)

Piña colada cake recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

Start by making the filling, because it takes a bit of time to cool down. Take out about 150 ml of the cold milk and pour it over the mixture of cornflour sifted with plain flour, sugar, and desiccated coconut, and blend well. Bring the rest of the milk to a boil over medium heat, and once it starts to boil, pour in the cornflour mixture you made (in a thin stream), whisking constantly with a wire whisk. Cook this for about 2-3 minutes, still whisking constantly, or until quite thickened. Remove it from the heat, and add the rum, and the chopped up white chocolate. Mix until the chocolate is completely melted, then cover the surface of this cream with plastic wrap and let it cool down almost completely.
Separate the eggs into yolks and whites, place them into separate bowls and let them sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Sift together the plain flour, cornflour (corn starch), desiccated coconut, and baking powder, and set it aside. Take a large bowl, add the butter and beat with an electric mixer on high for about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add half of the sugar and continue beating for about 3 minutes more. Scrape the sides of the bowl, if needed. Add the vanilla and two egg yolks and beat it in well. Add the remaining yolks and blend completely. Turn the mixer down to low and add in the flour mix and the yogurt in a few additions. Mix until just blended.
In another bowl (glass or metal, preferably) beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the rest of the sugar, beating on high constantly, until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whites into the batter, being very careful not to overmix and deflate it. Generously grease and a baking pan (23 cm; 9"), pour in the batter and level it as much as possible. Bake immediately, in a preheated oven, at 180˚C (350˚F), for about 25-30 minutes. Check it with a toothpick to make sure it doesn't overbake. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then take it out and place it on a wire rack to cool completely.
Once the cake has cooled down, take a large knife and level it as much as possible, then cut the cake into three equal layers. By that time, the filling should be almost completely cool to the touch. Beat the softened butter on high until light and fluffy, and then, without turning off the mixer, add the cooked coconut cream, a tablespoon at a time, to the butter. The filling should be completely smooth and creamy when you've finished adding the coconut cream.
Divide the filling into two equal parts, add the diced fresh pineapple to one bowl, and mix well. Place the first cake layer on the serving platter and close a cake ring around it. Gently spread one half of the coconut filling, then place another cake layer on top. Evenly spread the pineapple filling, then place  the last cake layer. Cover the top with plastic wrap and let the cake sit overnight in the refrigerator. Once the cake has firmed up and it's ready, whip the heavy cream with the icing sugar and vanilla, until stiff peaks form, add the colouring of your choice (if using), and decorate the cake to your liking. Serve well chilled. Yields 16 servings. ©Tina Vesić

06 November 2015


Tiramisu is maybe one of the best desserts there are. Layers of tender sponge fingers, rich cream and dark cocoa powder is a perfect flavour symphony. These cupcakes are a very close relative to the great traditional tiramisu. They are spongy, light and soaked in strong coffee and rum, then topped with a beautiful Mascarpone frosting. The dusting of dark cocoa gives it one last, perfect touch. The frosting is rather soft, but keeps well at room temperature. Make sure you serve them on the day they are made, as they taste best when they are fresh.

Tiramisu cupcakes recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

For the cupcakes
6 tablespoons plain flour
3 tablespoons cornflour (corn starch)
½ teaspoon baking powder
3 medium eggs
100 grams sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
For the coffee glaze
5 tablespoons boiling water
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon dark drum
For the frosting
100 grams Mascarpone
100 grams softened butter
150 grams icing sugar
100 ml heavy cream

To make the cupcakes, sift together the plain flour with cornflour and baking powder, then set it aside. Separate the egg yolks from the whites and place them in different large bowls. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on high until frothy, add half of the sugar, and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Set the bowl aside and add the rest of the sugar to the egg yolks, then beat with an electric mixer on high for about 2-3 minutes, until the batter thickens significantly. Add the oil, yogurt and vanilla and blend well. Sift in the dry ingredients and blend well with an electric mixer on the lowest setting.
Finally, add the whipped egg whites and fold them through using a rubber spatula. Fold very gently and be careful not to overmix and deflate the batter. Divide it between 12 standard muffin cups (lined with paper liners) and bake in a preheated oven, at 200˚C (400˚F) for about 10-12 minutes. Check them with a toothpick to make sure they are done. Let them cool completely before proceeding. They will deflate as they cool, that is fine.
While the cupcakes are cooling, make the coffee glaze. Put the instant espresso granules into a small bowl, then pour over the boiling water. Mix it briefly so the coffee dissolves completely, then let it cool slightly and mix in the rum. Let the glaze cool completely before brushing it on the cupcakes.
For the frosting, place the room temperature Mascarpone and the softened butter in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high until it becomes smooth and creamy. Add the icing sugar and blend well. Beat the chilled heavy cream in a separate bowl, using an electric mixer on high, until stiff peaks form. Gently fold it in the Mascarpone mixture. To assemble the cupcakes, brush some of the coffee glaze on each cupcake, then decorate them with the Mascarpone frosting. You can sprinkle a dash of unsweetened cocoa powder on the frosting before serving. Yields 12 standard cupcakes.