Orange and Clementine Cheese Brownies for Petit-On {Raw, Vegan, Gluten free,Refined sugar free}

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Good morning dear friends! Happy Valentine’s day!

Do you celebrate this holiday or it is not a tradition where you live? As an Argentinian, I didn’t grow up with Valentine’s day and learn’t about it from movies and American TV shows. It was only in the late ’90s that it became more common to celebrate it, but that was only for those who had someone to celebrate it with and, until I met my husband, many years after that and in a different country, I didn’t.  Most years, I would get together with my best friend (also single at the time) , cook together and watch movies that had nothing to do with romance, like the Lord of the Rings trilogy-extended edition. It was awesome. Rom-Coms could be watched any other day. We were not against the holiday, we were not a Valentine’s Grinch, we just felt that it was not for us. Like “PETIT-ON-raw-vegan-cheesecake4TCG

The day of the secretary” is not for you unless you are a secretary and you don’t expect your life to be different just because someone else is celebrating, I didn’t expect anything from Valentine’s day. But since everything seemed to be taken over by teddy bears and pink hearts, we made it ours by creating our own traditions.

The first Valentine’s day after I met my husband, which happened 3 weeks after we got married, we spent it apart. We were living in Ivory Coast at the moment, and had left to get married in Italy during our vacation time. But the day after we left there were riots that led to the evacuation of all non-essential staff of the organization where we worked and we got married on the day when our colleagues were being transported to Gambia. Then the call came: My husband had to go back, he was essential staff. I was not, so I had to stay behind. Argentina was too far away so, a mere two weeks after the wedding, we traveled to Belgrade (where my husband’s family lives) and I stayed with them for 3 weeks.  My husband’s ethnic group has a tradition (no longer being followed anymore, from what I’m told) of bringing the bride back to her family a few weeks after the wedding, to give her the opportunity to change her mind, so we used to joke that he didn’t want to risk it, so he was leaving me with his family instead 😉

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So Valentine’s day went by, uncelebrated, and maybe because of that, we never made a big deal about it. But we always have some treat, even if it’s just a block of dark chocolate, to mark the day, just because we take every opportunity to celebrate all that is good in our life.

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Today’s recipe is the one I prepared for my monthly contribution to Petit-On. The ingredient selected  for February was cheese, which presented a problem for me, so I checked with Raquel to see if I could use substitutions, and she encouraged me to write this recipe.

If you are reading these words and have been reading this blog for a while, you are probably wondering why is cheese a problem for me. I have, after all, a recipe for the best cheesecake ever, which is also one of the most visited blog posts. The reason is that I can’t eat dairy without feeling pain in my breasts due to a condition called cystic fibrosis.  We discovered it two years ago when I ran in panic to the doctor after finding a lump the size of a marble in my right breast. The doctor ordered a breast ultrasound and we found out that I have cysts in my breasts, which are not dangerous but fill with liquid during ovulation, which causes pain. Milk makes the pain bad, but cheese, cream and yogurt make it unbearable and, when I do eat them, I know it’s at my own risk and regret it later.  Since then 95% of my diet is vegan (I didn’t eat meat or eggs from before discovering this condition) and I have been working on finding substitutions for my favorite treats (You may have noticed that I normally list ” butter or margarine”in the ingredients, and that is because I used to make it with butter but now use vegan margarine and know it can be done). Now let’s be honest: vegan cheese is not brie or camembert, but when the choice is feeling enormous pain and freaking out when doing my breast exam, vegan cheese does the trick.

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This recipe was created by adapting and modifying two recipes from Sara Britton, of the blog My New Roots. I had been wanting to try them for a while and found this to be the perfect opportunity to do so. And I love the result! It is called cheese brownie, because it has a  raw brownie base,made only with walnuts, cocoa, dates and cocoa nibs for added crispiness. As Sara advises, Medjool dates are better because they are sweeter, but if you cannot find them or they are too expensive, simply add more quantity. Also, if you can, use good quality cocoa because it does make a difference.

The cream cheese filling is made with cashews, that were soaked overnight, agave nectar (or honey, if you are not vegan), coconut oil (which hardens at room temperature, so you will need to submerge the closed  bottle in warm water for 10 minutes before using it), lemon juice (to give it the slightly bitter, characteristic “cheese”flavor) and orange and clementine juice and zest. I chose these flavors instead of the more traditional vanilla/fruits of the forest because citrus are in season and the trees that line my street are ripe with fruits. They also combine beautifully with the depth of dark chocolate.

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As you will see, the recipe is very, very easy and it only requires a food processor or blender to do all the work. Furthermore, because of its characteristics, it is very versatile, and can be shaped in any form you like and even cut using a cookie cutter. I made little hearts using small heart shaped pans for my children, and a bigger, rectangular one, which I then cut in small squares to eat as “cheese brownie bites”. Since today is Valentine’s day, I placed a few bites in a home made origami box lined with mini cupcake cases, to give as a small present.  Do you like them?

 

Here is the recipe:

Orange and Clementine Cheese brownies (adapted and modified from My New Roots)

Ingredients:

For the crust: 1 cup walnuts, 1 1/2 cup dates (Medjool are best), unpitted and soaked in warm water for 10 minutes, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons cocoa nibs

For the filling: 2 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight, 2/3 cup coconut oil, 2/3 cup agave or honey, 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup orange juice, juice of 1 clementine, zest of 1 orange and 1 clementine. NOTE: If you like sweeter desserts, reduce lemon juice to 1/3 cup and replace by orange juice.

Preparation: 

1. Cover the pan you will use with foil, making sure to leave plenty at the sides. This will help you unmold the cake without needing to invert it (just pull the excess foil and lift, carefully, and it will come up.

2. Place walnuts in the bowl of the food processor and process until they turn into powder. Add cocoa and process 30 seconds to integrate (or pulse). Turn the processor on and start adding the dates,  one at a time, until getting a sand-like dough that compacts when pressed between your fingers.

3. Pour the dough in the pan, extend it evenly and press with your fingers to shape it. Set aside.

4. Wash and dry the Food processor’s bowl and fill it with all the ingredients necessary for the filling. Just dump them all at once. Turn the food processor on, and let it work until the ingredients morph into a smooth cream. How smooth the filling will be depends greatly on how powerful is your food processor, so I joke that if it becomes very smooth, I made a vegan philly cheesecake and, if it’s a bit crumbly, I made a ricotta cake instead 😉

5. Pour the filling over the crust and smooth using a spatula.

6. Wrap the cake in the excess foil and place it in the fridge for at least 6 hours.

7. Take out of the freezer 30 minutes before serving.  Cut with a warm sharp knife while still cold.

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Amigos hispanoparlantes: La receta en castellano está  en Petit-On! Pueden verla haciendo click AQUI. 

Day 24:Last minute dessert idea: Pandoro surprise {entertain!}

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Good morning dear friends! Today is Christmas’ eve and this is the last post of the 2012 advent calendar! I can imagine that, by now, all presents are wrapped, all menus are more or less figured out, and you must already have an idea of how you want to set up your Christmas table, am I right? Or maybe not?

In case you need a last minute idea, here is one of my favorites, a twist on the traditional Pandoro/Panettone/Pan dulce, that we normally eat after the toast, back home in Argentina. And because it is a last minute idea, it requires no baking, no effort at all, and it requires only two store-bought items: pandoro/panettone/pan dulce and ice cream.

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1) Begin by cutting the top of the Pandoro, and carving a hole with a serrated knife, as in the picture below.

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 2) Using a spoon, fill the hole with the ice cream of your choice. In this occasion, I used caramel but my favorite is actually stracciatella, or plain vanilla if you are using pan dulce instead of pandoro.  It is better to let the ice cream sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before using it, so that it’s softer  and easier to work with. But if you are in a rush, simply mix it with a spoon until it reaches the right consistency.

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3) Place the” cap” of the pandoro back on top, wrap in foil and put the pandoro in the freezer for 2 to 3 hours.

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4) For serving, you have two options:  serve it as you would serve an ice cream cake, straight out of the freezer, dusting it with icing sugar or pouring chocolate sauce on top, or as a chaud-froid, by placing the pandoro a few seconds in the microwave to heat the exterior without melting the interior, then adding hot chocolate sauce on top. If you don’t have a microwave, you can heat the oven, turn it off and place the pandoro inside for 5 minutes maximum. This will make the exterior slightly warm, without completely melting the ice cream inside.

May your celebrations be merry and bright, and may your heart be full of love, today and always!

Have a lovely Christmas, dear friends!

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Con sabor latino…

Buenos días queridos amigos! Hoy es nochebuena, y este es el último post de este calendario de adviento virtual 2012. Imagino que, para este momento, todos los regalos estaran ya envueltos, el menú delineado, y ya tendrán una idea de cómo quieren poner la mesa para la cena de navidad…o quizas no?

Por si acaso lo necesitan, aquí les dejo una idea de último minuto que me encanta, una vuelta de tuerca al tradicional Pandoro/Pan dulce/ Panettone con el que solemos brindar, en Argentina, cuando suenan las 12 campanadas anunciando que ya es Navidad. Como es una idea de último minuto, no requiere horneado, ni decoración, ni esfuerzo, sólo dos ingredientes comprados: el panettone/pandoro/pan dulce y helado.

1) Comiencen por cortar la tapa del pandoro y ahuequenlo con un cuchillo serrucho.

2) Con una cuchara, coloquen helado en el hueco. Yo usé helado de caramelo en esta ocasión, pero mi preferido es el de crema granizada para el pandoro, y uno de buena vainilla para el pan dulce.  Tengan en cuenta que es mejor que el helado no esté demasiado duro, asi que saquenlo de la heladera 15 minutos antes de usar, o bien revuelvanlo unos minutos con una cuchara hasta que se ablande.

3) Coloquen la tapa nuevamente en su lugar, cubran en papel film  y lleven al freezer por al menos dos a tres horas

4) Para servir, hay dos opciones igualmente ricas: presentarlo como una torta helada, o sea ni bien sacado del freezer, espolvoreado con azucar impalplable o acompañado de salsa de chocolate ; o bien como un chaud froid, colocandolo un par de segundos en el microondas para que el exterior se caliente apenas, sin derretir el helado, y acompañarlo de salsa de chocolate caliente.  Si no tienen microondas (como yo), calienten el horno y, cuando tenga temperatura, apaguenlo y coloquen el pandoro dentro por un máximo de 5 minutos. Recuerden que no queremos que el helado se derrita, sólo calentar apenas el exterior, para generar una textura y sensación diferentes al probarlo.

Espero que sus celebración sean maravillosas y muy felices, y que sus corazones estén llenos de amor, hoy y siempre!

Que tengan una muy feliz navidad, queridos amigos!

Day 20: Cinnamon, walnut and hazelnut Monkey Bread for Petit-On

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Good afternoon dear friends! I’m sorry for not publishing this post earlier, this month has been completely hectic and this week, even more so. But here I am, catching up as fast as I can to bring you all advent posts in time, to help  you with your Christmas preparations!

Today’s post was prepared for my monthly contribution to Petit-on, where it appeared today. December’s chosen ingredient had been cinnamon, so I prepared a delicious Monkey Bread, adapted from a recipe that I saw Maru Botana prepare on TV many years ago. I scribbled the ingredients and a few instructions and made up for the rest the best I could. It turned out so good that I prepared it every year since then, in place of the more traditional “Pan Dulce” (which I never really liked).

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I had planned to prepare this recipe a few weeks ago, but one thing or the other prevented me from doing it. Luka and Zoe had been sick on and off all month (minor things, but staying at home nonetheless) and, while I normally do cook with my children, I rarely photograph food with them…for the sake of the photography equipment.

This time, however, time was running out, so I decided to give it a try. I started by preparing the dough with Luka as my assistant, who is actually very good at cooking and enjoys carefully measuring ingredients with me. His assistance, however, was intermittent, because they were showing Madagascar on TV so he kept running to the living room and back whenever he could hear a favorite scene. Zoe arrived from school when it was time to add the nuts, and the minute she saw the hazelnuts, she picked the whole jar and left saying “the mouse found a nut in the deep dark wood”. Fortunately, I managed to get just enough to finish the dish! Taking the pictures, as you can imagine, was another odyssey!

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In this occasion, I baked this Monkey bread in muffin cases because I was planning to give them as gifts. I also like to do mini versions for placing in kid’s tables, just on top of their plates. I have found that children love mini desserts and are more likely to try anything that comes in a pretty packaging! If you prefer to bake it in the traditional way, I personally prefer spring form pans, because it keeps the shape better when served.

A couple of extra observations: the recipe uses butter and cow’s milk, but you can replace them by margarine and vegetable milk. Also, I used walnuts and walnuts, but almonds are also delicious. If you want to make it for someone who has a nut allergy, try replacing the nuts by raisins!

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Here’s the recipe

Cinnamon, Walnuts and hazelnuts Monkey bread (adapted from Maru Botana’s recipe for Todo Dulce) Makes 16 mini breads.

Ingredients:

For the yeast: 30 grs fresh yeast, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1/3 cup warm water

For the bread: 1 cup milk, 160grs butter, 2 tbsp vanilla extract, 5 tbsp cinnamon,  2 eggs, 2 egg yolks, 5 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 2 cups assorted nuts or raisins, 180 grs melted butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 tbsp cinnamon.

For the glaze: 1 cup icing sugar, 1 tbsp cinnamon, warm water (as needed)

Preparation:

1) Put yeast, water and sugar in a bowl and let it ferment (approximately 5 minutes). Do not mix or touch it at all.

2)  Put milk in a heat proof pan and bring it to the boil.  Remove from heat and add butter. Let the butter dissolve.

3) Add cinnamon, vanilla and sugar to the milk. Stir to mix well.

4) Beat the eggs  in separate bowl and add them to the milk, one by one, whisking so that no lumps are created.

 5) Add 1/2 cup of flour and yeast. Mix well.

6) Add the rest of the flour and mix well, until the dough separates from the bowl.

7) Sprinkle flour on the countertop and put the bread on top. Knead it for 10 minutes, wrapping it on the flour.

8) Pour warm water on a bowl and dry it. This will heat the bowl, helping the bread rise. Put the dough in the bowl, cover and let it sit for a 1/2 hour, until it doubles in size.

9) Remove the bread from the bowl, tap it a couple of times against the countertop so remove air and knead again for a couple of minutes.

10) Divide the dough in two pieces and form two sausages with them. Cut small pieces of dough with your index and thumb and make small balls with them.

11)  Mix the remaining melted butter, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Process the nuts, or chop them with a knife and put them in a separate bowl.

12) Pass the bowl by the butter mixture and then toss them in the bowl with nuts. Repeat with all the balls of dough.

13) Put the balls in a springform cake pan or in muffin cases. I could fit 4 small balls per muffin case and bake at 175 C. If you are baking one big bread, you will need to bake it for 45/50 minutes. This time is reduced to 20/30 minutes if you make mini breads, as I did. Once they are slightly golden on top, remove from the oven and let it/them cool.

14) Prepare a glaze with the sugar, cinnamon and a little bit of warm water (I used one tablespoon). Pour it on top of the bread using a spoon, if desired.

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Amigos hispanoparlantes, pueden leer la receta en castellano AQUI.

Day 18: DIY gift idea: Home made cake mixes and a recipe {give!}

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Good morning dear friends! It’s day 18 of the advent and here I bring you another edible gift idea: a cake mix for a delicious mocha chocolate chip cake – with recipe included, of course.

This recipe is not my own. It appeared on Hallmark magazine in January 2008, a beautiful publication that, unfortunately, doesn’t exist anymore. I was living in Ivory Coast at the time, working in peacekeeping and was subscribed to the magazine, that I received by post on a bi-monthly basis and this was the last number I received before moving to Cyprus. It was like a breath of fresh air, full of lovely ideas, crafts and delicious recipes.

It was in its pages that I saw this cake for the first time, as well as the way to layer it for a present, which I have adapted below. The article included other recipes as well, but I haven’t tried them yet. I promise to share them with you as soon as I do!

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The great thing about this gift is that it takes out all stress from making a cake from scratch. People who hate baking generally hate the precision it requires, the measuring, sifting, scooping…by doing all that work for them, we take away all difficulty. The person who receives this mix only has to add a few ingredients and follow a few simple steps (the same that are required when making a box cake) and in a less than an hour they will have a delicious, preservatives-free cake with fresh ingredients ready to be eaten.

You could also prepare this cake mix for yourself, without the fancy label and packaging, and keep it ready for those times when you want a home baked cake but you don’t feel like going through all the trouble. It is also a great option when travelling for a short time, to the mountains or to the beach, when we don’t feel like bringing all our baking equipment with us. We can just pre-measure all dry ingredients at home, toss them in a Ziploc bag or any other container, and finish baking at our destination. Another advantage? The mix lasts for 6 months!

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Here is the recipe and the instructions for layering it as in the pictures

Mocha chip cake (adapted from Hallmark Magazine of January 2008)

Ingredients: (for making the cake at home): 2 cups sifted cake flour, 1 tablespoon espresso, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa, 2/3 cup brown sugar, 2/3 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup powdered milk , 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, 170 grs or 3/4 cup butter or margarine, 3/4 cup water, 3 eggs, 2 tablespoons vanilla extract (the last  four are the ingredients to be added by the recipient of the cake mix jar)

Note: If you don’t have cake flour, you can make it at home. For each of  all purpose flour, remove 2 tablespoons from it and add 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Sift together several times, to integrate.

Preparation of the cake mix: I am detailing below how to layer the mix, as described by Hallmark magazine. You can also put each ingredient as an individual layer, it doesn’t affect the final outcome, but make sure to sift together flour,baking powder and baking soda before adding them for better results.

Layer 1: 3/4 cup cake flour, espresso, baking powder and baking soda

Layer 2: 1 cup cake flour and cocoa

Layer 3: 1/4 cup cake flour and brown sugar

Layer 4: granulated sugar and powdered milk

Layer 5: chocolate chips

Instructions (to be included with the cake mix):

1) Pour all contents of the jar in a bowl and mix briefly

2) Add 170 grs of soft butter and ½ cup of water and beat on medium speed for  3 minutes

3) In another bowl, beat 3 eggs with ¼ cup of water and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4) Add egg mixture to cake batter in 3 times, mixing well after each addition.

5) Divide the batter in two and pour it in two 9 inch/20 cms round cake pans, previously greased and dusted with cocoa or flour (cocoa doesn’t leave a white trace and adds to the chocolatey flavor)

6) Bake at 175C or 350 F for 20 to 30 minutes, or until a stick inserted in the middle comes out clean

7) Let cool and frost  with vanilla, mocha or chocolate frosting, if desired.

 

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Once I had measured, mixed and layered all ingredients, it was time to beautify the present. I cut a circle of Christmas paper (which came with a crafts magazine) and glued it to the top of the jar. I prepared a small card, containing the instructions, with a small piece of red cardboard paper, zig zag scissors, a hole punch and party circles that I downloaded for free from catch my party (I will show you other uses of those free printables in posts to come). I also copied the instructions in a word document (using  calibri font, size 8), printed it, cut it and glued it to the inside of the card. Then, I punched a hole and attached it to the jar with red and white baker’s twine.

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The whole present also included a red kitchen towel,  a home made greeting card, two bars of good quality chocolate and recipes for my favorite vanilla, mocha and chocolate frostings, as well as recipes for making hot chocolate. Everything was placed in a white straw container, and tied with red ribbon.   I truly hope the persons I am giving it to will like it!

Do you like it?

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Con sabor latino…

Buenos días queridos amigos! Hoy es el día 18 del adviento y aquí les traigo otra idea de regalo comestible: una mezcla casera para una torta moca de chocolate (o sea, con café), con receta incluida, por supuesto.

Esta receta no es de mi autoría, la ví en el número de enero de 2008 de una revista que lamentablemente ya no existe, Hallmark Magazine. Este número en particular lo recibí por medio de una suscripción, justo antes de venir a vivir a Chipre. Era una revista preciosa, llena de manualidades, recetas deliciosas e ideas creativas. En sus páginas encontré esta receta que hoy comparto con ustedes, y la idea de regalar mezclas pre hechas. El artículo incluía otras receta que no incluyo porque aún no las he probado, pero tengan seguro que, en cuanto lo haga, las compartiré aquí con ustedes!

Este es un regalo que me encanta hacer porque quita todo el stress que mucha gente siente al preparar una torta casera. La mayor parte de la gente que conozco a la que no le gusta la repostería, suele tenerle miedo y hasta odiarla por la precisión que ésta requiere, por cómo hay que medir, cernir y pesar los ingredientes. Con este regalo, nosotros hacemos todos esos pasos por ellos, y quien lo recibe sólo tiene que actuar como con una torta de caja: agregar ingredientes húmedos y mezclar. Unos pocos pasos despues y en menos de una hora tendrán una torta casera, sin conservantes y con ingredientes frescos, lista para ser disfrutada.

Tambien pueden usar esta idea para preparar mezclas para ustedes mismos, y dejarlas listas para esos días cuando tenemos ganas de comer algo caserito pero no tenemos ganas de tomarnos todo el trabajo que ello implica. Tambien es una buena idea para cuando salimos de vacaciones por un dias, al campo o a la playa, y no queremos trasladar todo nuestro equipo de reposteria (cucharas medidoras, balanzas y demases). Sólo tendremos que medir y pesar todo en casa, ponerlo en una bolsa Ziploc o en otro recipiente y terminar la preparación donde sea que vayamos. Otra ventaja más? La mezcla dura 6 meses!

Aqui les dejo la receta y las instrucciones para que las capas queden como en la foto:

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Torta moca de chocolate (adaptada de la edicion de enero 2008 de Hallmark Magazine)

Ingredientes (para hacer la torta en casa): 2 tazas de harina de reposteria, 1 cucharada de espresso en polvo, 2 cucharaditas de polvo de hornear, 1 cucharadita de bicarbonato sodico, 1/2 cucharadita de sal, 1/2 taza de cacao amargo, 2/3 taza de azucar moreno, 2/3 taza de azucar comun, 1/4 taza de leche en polvo, 1/2 taza de chispas de chocolate, 170 grs de manteca o margarina, 3 huevos, 3/4 taza de agua, 2 cucharadas de extracto de vanilla (estos últimos cuatro ingredientes deberán ser agregados por la persona que recibe el regalo, si es para regalar).

Nota: si no tienen harina de reposteria, pueden hacerla casera de la siguiente manera: Por cada taza de harina común, retiren 2 cucharadas soperas y reemplacenlas por maizena (fécula de maiz). Tamicen varias todo para que se integre bien, y listo!

Preparación de la mezcla pre hecha: La forma de presentación que les detallo a continuación es la sugerida por Hallmark magazine. Tambien pueden  colocar los ingredientes uno a uno, de manera individual, pero asegurense de tamizar harina, polvo de hornear y bicarbonato antes de hacerlo, para que la torta quede perfecta.

1er capa: 3/4 taza de harina, espresso, polvo de hornear y bicabonato sódico

2da capa: 1 taza de harina y cacao amargo

3er capa: 1/4 taza de harina y azucar moreno

4ta capa: azucar comun y leche en polvo

5ta capa: chispas de chocolate

Instrucciones (deben acompañar el frasco con la mezcla): 

1) Coloque el contenido del frasco en un bowl amplio y mezcle brevemente

2) Agregue 170 grs de manteca y 1/2 taza de agua y bata con batidor electrico a velocidad media por 3 minutos

3) En otro bowl, bata los huevos con 1/4 taza de agua y 2 cucharadas de vainilla

4) Agregue la mezcla de huevos al resto de la masa en tres tiempos y bata bien luego de cada adición.

5) Divida la mezcla en dos y coloque en dos moldes de torta de 20 cms, enmantecados y espolvoreados con cacao o harina (yo prefiero cacao para tortas de chocolate porque no deja pelicula blanca y hace que el sabor sea aun mas chocolatoso)

6) Cocine en horno a 175 grados por 20 a 30 minutos

7) Retire, deje enfriar, rellene con crema de vainilla, moca o de chocolate (si asi lo desea) y espolvoree con azucar impalpable.

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Una vez que mezclé los ingredientes y los coloqué en el frasco, llegó la hora de arreglarlo para que quedara bonito para regalo. Corté un círculo de papel navideño (que había venido de regalo con una revista de manualidades) y lo adherí a la tapa del frasco. Preparé una tarjetita con cartulina roja, tijera de puntas, un troquel individual y unos printables gratis que encontré en catch my party. Copié las instrucciones en word (con letra calibri, tamaño 8), las imprimí, recorté y pegué a la tarjeta. Luego usé el troquel para hacer un agujero y adjunté la tarjeta al frasco con hilo rojo y blanco.

El regalo tambien incluía un repasador rojo, dos tabletas de chocolate de buena calidad, una tarjeta hecha a mano, recetas  para mis cremas de vainilla, moca y chocolate preferidas, y recetas para preparar chocolate caliente. Coloqué todo en una cajita de paja de color blanco y finalicé la presentación con un moño rojo.

Espero que este regalo le guste a quienes pienso entregarselo! Y a ustedes ¿les gusta?

Day 16: DIY gift idea: Home made hot chocolate jars {give!}

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Good morning dear friends! It’s day 16 of the advent, just 8 days left until Christmas’ eve. If you are anything like me, or most people I know, you are now looking for ways to simplify all holiday preparations because there’s just not enough time for overly complicated or expensive items anymore.  So, from now on, and for the remaining days of this 2012 online advent calendar, everything (recipes, crafts, gift ideas, table settings) will get eveneasier. No complicated decorations or expensive gift ideas, or crafts that would take hours and tons of expensive materials. No, that would only add to holiday stress and we want this to be a year of holiday zen instead.

So, for today’s post, the first home made edible gift idea of this calendar, I thought about something sweet and simple that you can give to neighbors, teachers, or even as a hostess gift. A gentile pensiero, as we call it in Italian, a token of affection that says : I was thinking about you.

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I made this jar of homemade hot chocolate with ingredients and materials that I already had at home, and that you most probably already have too: a recycled jar of marmalade, washed clean and sterilized, a white fabric with red polka dots, the same red ribbon and tiny baubles that I used for THIS table setting and, of course, the ingredients for my favorite hot cocoa recipe, which you can find here below:

Hot cocoa in a jar (serves 4 cups)

Ingredients:  1 cup powdered milk, 1/3 cup vanilla sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa,  4 teaspoons coffee creamer (coffee mate),  4 tablespoons small chocolate chips or chocolate shavings, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

Preparation: I like to layer the ingredients to achieve an ombré look, you here I mix the ingredients in separate bowls before adding each layer, as follows:

Layer 1: 1 cup powdered milk and sugar

Layer 2: 1/4 cup cocoa and coffee creamer

Layer 3: 1/4 cup cocoa and cinnamon

Layer 4: chocolate chips

The person that receives the jar, simply has the put the content of the jar  in a jug and add 4 cups of boiling water! Delicious, creamy hot chocolate ready to relax and unwind after a long, cold day!

If the person you are giving the jar to does not eat dairy, you can replace the milk and creamer by powdered almond milk.

hot-cocoa1wm

 

After I layered all ingredients and put the lid on, I cut a square of fabric and put it on top of the jar, securing it with an elastic band. I then added a ribbon, inserted two tiny baubles and tied it with a knot. I placed the jar inside a cookie box, and I added a few homemade cookies inside red cupcake liners, to complete the gift. It’s like a mini hot chocolate tray to go.

Do you like it? Do you generally give edible gifts or opt for something else?

 

Con sabor latino…

Buenos días queridos amigos! Hoy es el día 16 del adviento, y faltan apenas 8 días para la nochebuena. Si ustedes se parecen a mí y a la mayoría de las personas que conozco, a estas alturas están buscando ideas que los ayuden a simplificar todos los preparativos, porque ya no hay tiempo para nada complicado ni carísimo. Así que, con esta premisa, todas las ideas que les traeré durante éste y los próximos días (recetas, manualidades, mesas, regalos), serán aún más fáciles que las que les he traido hasta ahora. Nada de manualidades que llevan días y requieren materiales imposibles, nada de decoraciones complicadas, ni ideas de regalos para presupuestos abultados. No, eso sólo agregaría stress a estas fiestas y el objetivo es justamente lo contrario:  que las fiestas de fin de año sean celebraciones zen.

Para este post, el primero en que les traigo una idea de regalo comestible, pensé en algo dulce y simple, en un regalito que puede hacerse a vecinos, maestras, compañeros de trabajo, y hasta a la persona en cuya casa celebremos las fiestas.  Un gentile pensiero, como decimos en italiano, algo que dice “pensé en tí”.

Hice este frasquito de chocolate caliente con materiales e ingredientes que tenía en casa y que seguramente ustedes tambien tienen en la suya: un frasco de mermelada, reciclado, lavado y esterilizado, tela blanca con pintas rojas, la misma cinta roja de raso y las mismas bolas navideñas que usé para ESTA mesa, y los ingredientes que les detallo a continuación:

——-

Chocolate caliente en frasco (para 4 tazas)

Ingredientes: 1 taza de leche en polvo, 1/3 taza de azucar vainillada, 1/2 taza de cacao amargo, 4 cucharaditas de coffee mate, 4 cucharadas de chispas de chocolate, 1 cucharadita de canela en polvo (opcional)

Preparación: Me gusta presentar estos frasquitos de manera que los ingredientes queden en degradée, por lo que los mezclo por separado antes de agregarlos, de la siguiente manera:

1era capa: leche y azucar

2da capa: 1/4 taza de cacao y coffee mate

3era capa: 1/4 taza de cacao y canela

4ta capa: chispas de chocolate

La persona que reciba el frasquito sólo deberá agregar 4 tazas de agua y tendrá un delicioso y cremoso chocolate caliente para relajarse y disfrutar solo o en familia!

Si la persona a quien le hacen el r

egalo no consume lacteos, sólo deberán reemplazar la leche y el coffee mate por leche de almendras en polvo.

—–

Para finalizar la presentación, una vez que coloqué todos los ingredientes y cerré el frasquito, corté un cuadrado de tela con tijera de puntas, y lo coloqué sobre la tapa, asegurándolo con una banda elastica roja. Luego coloqué cinta de raso alrededor, ensarté las bolitas de navidad por los extremos y la até haciendo un nudo sencillo. Coloqué el frasco en una caja, y agregué galletitas caseras en pirotines de cupcakes de color rojo, para completar el regalo. Es como una mini  bandeja de chocolate para llevar!

¿Qué me dicen, les gusta? ¿ Son de regalar cosas comestibles o suelen optar por otro tipo de detalles?

Day 13: Prettify your holiday cookies, Part IV: Chocolate transfers {bake!}

oreoswm

Good morning friends! Day 13 of the advent and the last of this year’s  post about cookie decorating! I know some of you were expecting tutorials on royal icing, but I decided to leave those for next year, when we can dedicate several posts to different techniques. For those of you who would like to decorate cookies with royal icing and would like to know where to start, you may check THIS and THIS post, where I list links and resources as well.

Today’s technique is one that I had been curious about for quite a while, but had never tried before. When browsing party websites, I used to see those beautiful designer oreo cookies, and wondered how they made them, until I discovered that chocolate transfer sheets existed, and that I could buy them in Cyprus (tip for Cyprus residents: I got these at Sprinkles and Sparkles*). This is the first time I used one, so there’s definitely a lot of room for improvement, but they are really easy to use! I love how fast it is to decorate cookies with them, how pretty they look once finished, and also the fact that they represent and alternative to royal icing (which not everyone likes).

chocolate-transfer-cookieswm

I dipped two types of cookies, for experimentation purposes: chocolate covered oreos and a pine tree chocolate cookie. Bird, from Bird’s party, made a tutorial showing how to create a really perfect finish for oreos that are not already covered in chocolate and which you can check HERE. The method I use is more appropriate for cookies that have a shape other than circular.

Here it is:

chocolate-transfer-oreowm

1) Melt the chocolate and cut the transfer sheet (which comes in A4 size) to match the size of the cookies. I cut stripes and the cut those stripes into small squares.

2) Holding the cookie in your hand, invert it and dip it in the chocolate, front-side down. Dip it well.

3) Lift the cookie, invert it so that the excess chocolate drips, and tap your hand against the counter a couple of times, so that the surface becomes smooth and even.

4) Put the cookie on a wire rack or parchment paper and place the transfer sheet on top of it.

5) Using your fingers, smooth the sheet, especially the sides, so as to make sure that it adheres properly to the chocolate, and to get rid of any air bubbles.Let the chocolate set and harden (about an hour. You can also accelerate the process by putting then in the refrigerator)

6) Carefully, lift the transfer sheet to reveal the design. Smooth the sides, if necessary.

That is all it takes! Isn’t it wonderful? Beautifully decorated cookies in virtually no time!

Have you used this method before? Would you like to try it?

oreoswm2

 

Con sabor latino…

Buenos días queridos amigos! Día 13 del adviento, y hoy nos toca el último tutorial sobre cómo decorar galletitas para las fiestas.  Sé que varios de ustedes estaban esperando tutoriales acerca de cómo decorar galletitas con glacé real, pero decidí dejar los mismos para el año que viene, cuando pueda dedicar varios posts a mostrarles diferentes técnicas. Para aquellos que quieran decorar galletitas de esa forma en estos días, pueden ver ESTE y ESTE post, donde además de enseñar técnicas básicas, adjunto links y recursos que pueden encontrar online.

La tecnica de hoy es una que tenía ganas de probar desde hacía tiempo. Cuando miraba páginas dedicadas a fiestas siempre veía esas oreos preciosas, con diseños complicados y me preguntaba cómo los lograban. Luego, un día, aprendí que existían las llamadas láminas de transferencia de chocolate y que hasta podía conseguirlas en Chipre! Esta es la primera vez que uso una, así que se imaginarán que hay mucho que mejorar, pero me han resultado super faciles y me encanta el resultado tan bonito y tan rápido que dan, así como que sean una alternativa al glacé que, convengamos, no le gusta a todo el mundo.

Yo hice la impresión en dos tipos de galletitas; oreos ya bañadas en chocolate blanco (compradas), y unas cookies de chocolate con forma de pino de navidad. Bird, de Bird’s party, hizo un tutorial muy bueno hace unos días acerca de cómo bañar oreos comunes y hacer la impresión al mismo tiempo, para que queden perfectas. Pueden ver ese tutorial AQUI. La tecnica que yo usé es más apropiada cuando queremos hacer la transferencia en una galletita de forma diferente o tamaño más grande.

Para hacerlas, sigan estos pasos:

1) Derritan el chocolate. Corten la hoja de transferencia (que viene en tamaño A4) del tamaño de las galletitas. Yo la corté en tiras horizontales, que luego dividí en pequeños cuadrados.

2) Tomen la galletita con la mano, inviertanla y sumerjanla cara abajo en el chocolate. Asegurense que quede bien impregnada.

3) Con la galletita aun en su mano, inviertanla para que el exceso de chocolate comience a deslizarse por el borde y golpeteen el canto de la mano contra la mesa, para que se empareje y alise.

4) Coloquen la galletita sobre una rejilla o papel manteca y pongan la  hoja de transferencia sobre la misma.

5) Usando la yema de los dedos, alisen la hoja de transferencia, especialmente en los bordes, para asegurarse que ésta se adhiera correctamente al chocolate, y que no queden burbujas de aire. Dejen que el chocolate se enfríe y endurezca (aproximadamente una hora, o pueden acelerar el proceso colocando las galletitas en la heladera)

6) Una vez que el chocolate haya endurecido y con mucho cuidado, despeguen la hoja de transferencia, levantandola por un costado. Emparejen los costados, de ser necesario.

Y listo, nada más, eso es todo lo que lleva hacerlas! No es maravilloso? Galletitas decoradas de manera bonita y en nada de tiempo!

Han usado este método antes? Les gustaría probarlo?

 

 

 

 

 

 

*I have no affiliation whatsoever to Sprinkles and Sparkles. The reason I mentioned where I got the transfer sheets is as a service to my readers, and only because people have asked me before where to buy them. You may also get them online from HERE

 

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