24 March 2017


Trifles are a great way to serve dessert if you do not wish to make a classic cake. All of the ingredients are there, all of the layers are there, but everything is neatly stored in a single bowl. This makes trifles also great for picnics and gatherings.
The lovely red velvet cake is generously sprinkled with the rum syrup, then layered with the cream cheese filling. If you do not wish to use rum, omit it, and go for the simplest simple syrup - it will keep the cake crumbs moist in the same fashion as rum syrup would.

Red velvet cake trifle recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

For the red velvet cake
150 grams butter
150 grams granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 medium eggs
3 tablespoons buttermilk
2 teaspoons red food colouring
150 grams plain flour
For the rum simple syrup
50 grams granulated sugar
60 ml cold water
2 teaspoons dark rum
For the cream cheese filling
150 grams cream cheese, room temperature
50 grams icing sugar, sifted
100 ml heavy whipping cream
½ teaspoon vanilla

Dice the butter and add it to a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place the pan over medium heat, add in the sugar, and the sifted cocoa powder, then mix and melt until combined and smooth. It will seem dry at one point, but that is fine, as soon as the butter starts melting, it will blend very well. Once melted, remove it from the heat and set it aside. Crack the eggs in separate bowls, then add them to the melted butter, one at a time, whisking well after each. This will prevent scorching the eggs.
Finally, add in the buttermilk, food colouring, and the sifted flour and gently fold it through only until you can no longer see patches of flour. You do not want to overmix the batter. Take a small loaf pan (9x5"), lightly grease it, then line it with baking paper. Pour in the batter, smooth it as much as possible, then bake in a preheated oven, at 180°C (350°F), for about 20-25 minutes. Since every oven is slightly different, check it with a toothpick to make sure it doesn’t overbake. Once baked, remove it from the oven, then let it cool completely on a wire rack.
To make the cream cheese filling, place the room temperature cream cheese in a medium bowl, and whisk it briefly with a wire whisk. Add in the icing sugar, and blend well. Since the quantities are small, you do not need an electric mixer, a wire whisk will be perfect. In a separate bowl, whisk the heavy cream until stiff peaks form, then gently fold it in the cream cheese mixture.
For the rum syrup, combine the granulated sugar and the water in a medium saucepan, and place it over medium high heat. Cook, gently stirring, until the sugar dissolves, then continue to cook without stirring, until the mixture reaches a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove it from heat, and stir in the rum. Let it cool to room temperature before using.
Crumble the cooled cake into a large bowl, then sprinkle the chilled rum syrup over the cake crumbs. Do not use too much syrup, only until the crumbs are moistened. Layer the crumbs and filling into a medium trifle bowl, starting and finishing with the cake crumbs. Place plastic wrap over the top, and let the trifle sit in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, then serve. Yields 2 generous servings.
Baker’s note: The cream cheese filling is not overly sweet, so if you like your desserts on the sweeter side, feel free to increase the amount of icing sugar.

17 March 2017


My, my, how time flies! It is almost the 7th birthday of Tina's Cookings! Seven years. Can you believe it? It's only normal to celebrate a birthday with cake, right? Four delicious layers of mousse, custard, and cream, and a fantastic disk of chocolate on top. Really delicious, and really simple to make - just how every cake should be. The Nutella base is quickly turning into my new favourite; I have to admit. And the lovely mix of coffee mousse, rum, Mascarpone custard... Bliss in a miniature cake form. You might notice a different way of building layers in this recipe.
The main reason behind not spreading the mousse or custard on the previous layer is to keep its airy texture intact. If you spread it, you risk losing some of the tiny air pockets in the mousse. You can try piping it on for a neater final look, but I still stand by this method, as I found it works best. To slice the cake, you will need a heated knife, to cut through the chocolate disk. Pour hot water in a jug, place a thin blade knife in the water, dry if off, then carefully slice through the disk. After that, the knife will slide through the layers very easily.

For the Nutella base
200 grams hazelnut wafers
2-3 tablespoons Nutella, room temperature
For the coffee Ganache mousse
100 grams cooking chocolate
120 ml heavy cream
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
For the Mascarpone custard
50 grams Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons custard powder
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons dark rum
For the whipped cream layer
75 ml heavy cream
1 tablespoon icing sugar
1 teaspoon clear vanilla
For the chocolate disk
50 grams cooking chocolate
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Start by lining a small round cake pan ring (10 cm) with acetate, for an easier removal of the cake once it is ready. Make sure the acetate strip is tall enough for you to pour in three types of fillings. Once the pan is prepared, crush the wafers in a food processor, or by hand, if you want a variety of crumb sizes, pour them into a medium bowl, and add the Nutella. It should be at room temperature to make it easier to combine with the wafer crumbs. Start with two tablespoons of it, mix well, then add another tablespoon, if you wish to have a softer cake base. It will most definitely firm up in the refrigerator, so have no worries about it supporting the weight of the cake. Once the base is prepared, place the cake ring on the serving platter, and press in the wafer base. The batter will be slightly sticky, but be patient with it, and it will spread out evenly. Set the base aside and start making the fillings.
Next, make the coffee Ganache mousse. Pour the heavy cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, and let it almost come to a boil. Take another bowl, and add the chopped up chocolate. Add the coffee granules to the hot heavy cream, mix briefly, and pour everything over the chocolate. Let it stand for a minute or two, then mix it well with a spatula. Once it is almost at room temperature, place it in the refrigerator to help it cool down almost completely. Then take a mixer and beat the Ganache on the highest setting for a few minutes, until it becomes smooth and fluffy, like a mousse. Carefully drop the mousse by the spoonful on the base, then just gently shake the platter to evenly distribute it, and place it in the refrigerator.
To make the Mascarpone custard, add the room temperature Mascarpone into a medium bowl, add in the custard powder, and beat with an electric mixer on high until creamy and combined. Add in the heavy cream, and the rum, then blend it well again. Take the cake out of the refrigerator, and carefully pour in the custard over the Ganache mousse, then return to the refrigerator.
After about 30 minutes, the custard should set up. Take the heavy cream, pour it into a medium bowl, add in the icing sugar, and vanilla, and beat with an electric mixer on high until stiff peaks form. Pour the whipped cream over the custard in the same fashion as before, then just jiggle the cake a bit, to evenly distribute everything. Return the cake to the refrigerator for about 3 hours.
To make the chocolate disk, place the chocolate in the double boiler, and let it start melting slowly. Once it starts to melt, add in the vegetable oil, and mix really well. If you do not mix it in well enough, you might end up with streaky chocolate. Let the melted chocolate cool down a bit, then pour it over the whipped cream layer. Return the cake to the refrigerator for another 4-6 hours, and serve. © TINA VESIĆ 2017
Baker's note: You can top the cake with more of the wafer crumbs, or with a drizzle of your favourite dessert sauce.

10 March 2017


A cake is always the centrepiece of any party. If it is a cake with a tasty surprise hidden in the centre, even better. This miniature cake beauty is made of many layers of moist cake and delicious Mascarpone filling. Other than a great taste, the freeze dried wild cherries give the cake an adorable pink colour.
You are even welcome to use some additional chopped up wild cherries in the filling, if you wish. If you do that, take out a portion of the filling to frost the cake, and fold the berries through the rest of it. This will ensure the cake is neatly frosted.
Now, as far as the candy surprise goes - for children’s parties, mini cakes are always welcome, and children love it, so this type of cake can be filled with pretty much anything they like. Candy is just one of the options. As always, adjust the nifty little surprise to children’s age, because tiny pieces of candy might not be suitable for very young children.

For the wild cherry cake
250 grams plain flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
150 grams granulated sugar
3 tablespoons freeze-dried wild cherry powder
3 medium egg whites
250 ml whole milk
120 ml vegetable oil
For the Mascarpone buttercream
200 grams butter, softened
100 grams Mascarpone
300 grams icing sugar, sifted
100 grams powdered milk, sifted
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon unflavoured gelatine
150 grams candy of desired colour

To make the cake layers, take a large bowl and sift the flour with the baking powder twice, add in the sugar, and the freeze-dried wild cherry powder, and whisk very well. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites and the whole milk with the oil, add the wet ingredients into the dry, and blend everything well by hand. Take two small round pans (10 cm; 4”), grease the bottoms and sides, then line them with baking paper. Line the sides with additional baking paper if your pans are not deep enough, because the is a lot of batter and it might overflow during baking. Evenly distribute the batter between them, and bake, in a preheated oven, at 170°C (340°F) for about 30-35 minutes. Check them with a toothpick, and let them cool completely.
While the cakes are cooling, make the frosting. Take a large bowl, add in the softened butter, and beat with an electric mixer on high, for at least 3-4 minutes, until the butter becomes smooth, and lighter in colour. Add in the Mascarpone, and blend it in on low. Sift in half of the icing sugar, blend it well, then blend in the rest of the icing sugar. Add in the unsweetened cocoa powder, and the powdered milk, and blend it in well. Take a small bowl, add in the gelatine powder, then pour a tablespoon of cold water over it, and let it bloom. Back to the frosting, add in the heavy cream, and continue beating on high, for another 2-3 minutes. By this time, the gelatine should be ready, so melt it over very low heat, or in the microwave, until it becomes clear and liquid. Take a few teaspoons of the frosting, and mix it well with the melted gelatine, then pour everything back into the frosting, and blend really well with an electric mixer. The gelatine will act as a stabilizer, so that the frosting will stay smooth and airy, like a mousse, but stable enough to be piped, and transported. Once everything is blended, set the frosting aside for 10-15 minutes, to rest.
To assemble the cake, level the baked cakes, and slice them into two halves, so you end up with four thin layers. Take a 5 cm cookie cutter and cut out circles of cake from two layers, or you can cut them out from three layers, if you like. Just keep in mind that you need one layer to be whole. Place about a third of the frosting into a piping bag, for easier use. Place the first layer (cut or not) on the cake platter, and pipe a layer of frosting on top of it. Place another layer on top, and carefully pipe a circle of frosting. Repeat this one more time, then smooth the frosting that is on the inside of the cut part, because it is bound to spread a little. Fill the inside of the cake with enough candy in the desired colour, pipe some more frosting on the top layer, and place on the final layer of the cake. Crumb coat the cake, and place it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes, so it can set up. Using the rest of the frosting, and a Wilton 2B nozzle, decorate the cake with a basket weave. Place the cake in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours. Yields 6 small servings. © TINA VESIĆ 2017
Baker's note: If you feel the cake needs additional support, or if you have to transport it on a platter, take two thin cake dowels and insert them into the cake, one opposing the other, then trim to level.

03 March 2017


Sometimes, you don’t want a big cake. Sometimes, you don’t even want cake, you want brownies. But with whipped cream. And come additional dark chocolate on top. This gorgeous miniature chocolate brownie cake is just what any chocolate lover needs. Two very rich fudge brownie layers, smooth whipped cream in the middle, and some extra chocolate on top, for good measure.
Since the cake layers are so small, you need to watch them carefully so they don’t overbake. It can be a tiny bit tricky, but be patient, and check them often for doneness. There should be just a tiny bit of moist crumbs on the toothpick when they are done. If there aren’t any, you’ve overbaked them.
If that should happen, all is not lost – just soak them in your favourite liqueur (such as Kahlua or Grand Marnier), and they should be pretty decent. But just to be sure, don’t overbake them. When they are cool to the touch, whip up some heavy cream, sandwich the fudge layers, and serve immediately.

Mini brownie layer cake recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

For the brownie layers
120 grams unsalted butter
100 grams dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
200 grams granulated sugar
2 small eggs
1 teaspoon dark rum
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
120 grams plain flour
For the filling
150 ml heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons icing sugar, optional

Mini brownie layer cake recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

Place the diced butter and chopped chocolate in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, set it over medium heat, and melt them together, stirring until smooth. Remove it from the heat and quickly stir in the sugar. Let it cool for one more minute, then crack the eggs into two small bowls, and add them to the batter, one at a time, whisking vigorously after each. Add in vanilla and rum, and whisk it again. Finally, sift in the flour and gently fold it through with a spatula, being careful not to overmix the batter.
Take two small cake pans (10 cm; 4"), grease the sides and the base, then place a round of baking paper on the base, just to be sure the brownie does not stick to the cake pan. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, and bake them, in a preheated oven, at 180°C (350°F), for about 30 minutes or so, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let them cool in the pans 10 minutes, then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely. Once they have cooled, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form, sandwich the brownies together, and serve immediately. Yields 4 servings.

24 February 2017


Plain and simple, I love fruit yogurt. And I don’t mind buying fruit yogurt, but somehow, there never seems to be enough fruit chunks in it, and the taste is sometimes too mild. If it's a fruit yogurt, it is supposed to have a rich fruity flavour, right? That is why I like to make my own fruit yogurt. With fruit purée base, thick yogurt, and a lot more chunks of fruit. You can use fresh or frozen fruit, of course, just defrost it before blending.

Homemade blueberry fruit yogurt recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

500 grams blueberries
200 ml cold water
30 grams cornflour (corn starch)
50 grams granulated sugar
500 grams plain yogurt
½ teaspoon wild blueberry extract (optional)
200 grams additional berries

Homemade blueberry fruit yogurt recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

Chop up and purée the blueberries, along with the cold water, and sugar. I used blueberries, but you can use a mix of strawberries, sweet cherries, raspberries, or some additional fruit. You can use just one fruit if you like your fruit yogurt simpler, of course. Pour the purée into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add in the cornflour, mix well, and let it cook over medium heat until it thickens. It should take 5-7 minutes, depending on your stove. Keep whisking as you cook, because it can burn easily. When it finally thickens, it will resemble a cooked pudding.
Remove it from the heat, and let it cool down a bit. Do not let it cool down completely, because it will be much harder to blend with the yogurt. You need it to be smooth if you run your spoon through it, not gelled completely. Once cooled down to room temperature, start pouring in the yogurt, and mix with an electric mixer on low, until blended completely. You can add a fruit extract in the end, and blend it in, if you wish to intensify the flavours. Finally, fold in some additional fruit, for extra texture in the yogurt. Place it in the refrigerator for at least an hour, and serve. Yields 6 servings.