Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Have a sweet safe trip..

These muffins were made during moments of emptiness and feeling of loneliness and although I am not a muffin type of person, these were delicious and irresistible and they did make me feel a bit better.......why sad? well, nothing bad happened, it's just that my husband is away for 2 to 3 weeks and I'm feeling a little down. So, I made him these muffins in case the flight meal comes out "horrible". Not that muffins will replace a real meal but I wish he'll find comfort (like I did) when he eats them. A little taste of home while he is away!

Almond Crunch Muffins

We used to get almond muffins from a Farmer's Market and I always liked them. I was hoping one day I could discover their secret recipe and I think I did!
The result has the perfect balance of everything: sweetness, softness and flavors. Although the almond part is only on the topping, these muffins taste almondy enough with the tiny bit of extract that I added. Next time I'll try to put ground almonds in the batter and if it works fine I'll add the appropriate changes to the recipe. Meanwhile, I hope you'll try these deliciously easy never know they may bring some comfort in those moments!

Almond Crunch Muffins
Almond Crunch Muffins (for 11 muffins)

150 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled.
2 large eggs.

100 g brown sugar (I used dark one).

30 g granulated sugar.

80 ml whole milk.

80 ml buttermilk.
50 g cake flour.

200 g all purpose flour.

75g  ground almonds.

1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda.

1/2 tsp vanilla extract.
1/4 tsp almond extract.

1/8 tsp salt.

Almond Topping

35g  cup sliced almonds ( I use sliced for their fine texture)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 Tbsp butter

1/8 tsp cinnamon
 pinch of salt


1- Preheat your oven to 375 f. Line a muffin tin with muffin cups. Set aside.

2- Make the topping: in a food processor, mix all the ingredients and pulse until crumbly. You should still see small pieces of almonds, do not grind the mixture too finely.

3- Sift the flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the ground almonds and set aside.

4- Beat the eggs and the sugars until fluffy. Add the milk, buttermilk and melted butter. Beat until well combined. Add the vanilla and the almond extract.

5- Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ones. Do not over mix.

6- Using an ice cream scoop, divide the batter between the muffin cups. Spread about a tablespoon of topping on each muffin and bake for 20 to 25 minute or until golden brown.

As mentioned before, I said I'll try to add almonds to the recipe. It worked wonderfully and added more almond flavor. So I made the appropriate changes to the recipe

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Here I am, after a whole month of absence! I didn't realize that I did not post anything since the last daring bakers challenge. These days, I don't even realize how time goes by. I never thought once the kids start school I'll have more work, that my life will get more stressed out and that the dream of having more rest and free time........ was indeed a true dream!
I don't know why I always do the same mistake by leaving the challenge to the last minute "sure I have more time, why hurry!" then life just makes it harder on that "particular" day. I also don't even think about how am I going to improvise and play with the recipe. I do it all on the same day and that's a lot of thinking and working!

Flourless Chocolate Cake w/ Vanilla Ice Cream

This month's challenge was obvious. It is February, and what is February without that sweet thing called "chocolate". The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef. They have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

The cake is flourless, very rich, dense and chocolaty, really chocolaty! If you like that type of cakes then you definitely will love this one. The addition of berries balances the richness of the cake. I personally love to serve berries with this kind of cakes (chocolate and raspberries/strawberries is one of my favorite combo), or may be it's just an excuse to add these tiny little red fruits everywhere!

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Valentino

454 g (16oz) semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped.
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter.
5 large eggs separated.


1.Preheat your oven to 375f. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.

2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter a 9 in pan and line it with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.

3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.

4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).

5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.

6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.

7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter.

8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full.Bake for 25 to 30 min or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out slightly wet.

9. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

300 ml heavy cream.
300 ml low fat milk (I used 2%).
1 vanilla pod.
4 large egg yolks.
75 g granulated sugar.


1. Using a small knife slit the vanilla pod lengthwise. Scrape the seeds out of the pod. Pour the milk into a heavy based saucepan, add the vanilla seeds and the pod and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and leave for 15 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse

2. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until the mixture is thick and foamy. Gradually pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over a gentle hear, stirring all the time

4. When the custard thickens and is smooth, pour it back into the bowl. Cool it then chill.

5. By Hand: Whip the cream until it has thickened but still falls from a spoon. Fold it into the custard and pour into a plastic tub or similar freeze-proof container. Freeze for 6 hours or until firm enough to scoop, beating it twice (during the freezing process – to get smoother ice cream or else the ice cream will be icy and coarse)
By Using and Ice Cream Maker: Stir the cream into the custard and churn the mixture until thick (follow instructions on your ice cream maker)

For this particular presentation

After the cake cooled, I used a square cookie cutter and cut out pieces. I then tempered some chocolate and used a plastic template to make the impressions. I surrounded the cake with the chocolate squares, added some berries and topped everything with a scoop of ice cream.