Category Archives: sweet

Ana’s Hazelnut Cake with Dark Chocolate

At the beginning of the summer I spotted a cake on twitter that I just couldn’t resist. It was a Chocolate & Hazelnut Cake by Ana Vega. The cake is not a dessert cake, its more like a breakfast cake or something perfect for an afternoon cup of tea. From Ana I later learned that the cake was a remake of her Plum cake corriente y moliente (plum cake with dried fruits). Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Ana runs the cake & dessert blog Biscayenne (all in Spanish) where she share recipes and stories from her tiny kitchen in Bilbao. She also has an online vintage shop with pretty cutlery, porcelain and other kitchenware.

I have now baked this cake several times and just a few weeks ago I added some black cherries to the cake. It made it very moist and delicious. The cherries worked really well with the dark chocolate. I can also imagine adding some banana but in the end its absolutely fine just as it is.
I have only made a few changes to the recipe: Instead of regular sugar I used brown sugar. I also reduced the sugar as I wanted a less sweet cake, which Ana also suggest when using fruit in the cake.

Ana’s Hazelnut Cake with Chocolate

180g (7/8 Cup) brown sugar
3 eggs
250g (1 2/3 cup) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
125g (a little more than 4 oz) butter
150g (1 cup) hazelnuts
60g (70%) (about 2 oz) dark chocolate

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Mill the hazelnuts finely in a food processor or nut grinder. (If you don’t have either just chop it finely). Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Beat eggs and sugar together before adding flour and baking powder. Blend well together to avoid any floury lumps in the batter. Pour in the melted butter and stir together before adding the milled hazelnuts and the chocolate.
Grease a loaf tin or similar mold and pour the batter into it. Bake the cake for 15 minutes 355°F (180°C). Lower the heat to 320°F (160°C) and continue baking until the top has a brown crisp crust and a toothpick comes out dry (about 40-45 minutes).

Enjoy at breakfast, brunch or with an afternoon tea!

This article was originally published at Honest Cooking on 12 September 2012


Ginger & Lime Tart

Like several other countries Sweden celebrates name days, which means that every single day of the year has a specific name of a person. For some people (for example, my mother in law) the name day is more important than their own birthday. For others it’s just an ordinary day.

In the middle of July, Swedes celebrates fruntimmersveckan (the week of the ladies) which is a week when there are six women’s names in a row. This week is especially interesting if you are into cakes. Traditionally you need to bake a different cake for each woman who has their name-day this week. As I’m one of the six ladies I will celebrate as follows…

Cherry & Almond Clafoutis with Cognac for Sara on the 19 July

Red Currant Tart for Margareta on the 20 July

Lime & Ginger Tart for Johanna on the 21 July (see below)

Rhubarb & Meringue Cake for Magdalena on 22 July

Lemon & Strawberry Cake with White Chocolate for Emma on 23 July

Chocolate Caramel Tart for Kristina on 24 July

Johanna’s Ginger & Lime Tart

This Ginger & Lime cake has a nice combination of a sweet cookie like pie shell with a sour ginger-rich filling. It can be served as is or with freshly whipped cream.

1 ¼ cup (170 g) flour
100 g (3.5 oz) butter
4 tablespoon sucanat
a splash of cold water

3 eggs
2/3 cup (150 ml ) sugar (works with either white or brown)
7/8 cup (200 ml ) cream
Grated peel from one lime
Juice from 2 limes
1 inch (2 ½ cm) piece of ginger

Decoration (optional)
Powdered sugar

Mix together butter, flour and sugar with your bare hands. When the butter is well divided, add a splash of water and work the dough well. After the dough has rested for half an hour in the fridge, line the dough in a 9 ½ inch (24 cm) springform or similar. Bake the tart shell at 400ºF (200ºC) for about 15 minutes. The shell should start to get some nice color.

Let the pie shell cool while you whip together egg and sugar until fluffy. Add the cream and blend well together before adding lime and ginger. Adjust the flavor with more or less ginger and lime to your liking. Pour the filling into the pie shell and bake in the oven at 400ºF (200ºC) for about 20 minutes. The filling should have set. Let the cake cool down before dusting some powdered sugar over. Enjoy!

This article was originally published at EcoSalon on 19 July 2012

Sofi’s Caramelized Rhubarb Jam

Currently I’m in Sweden taking care of an old house in the countryside. It’s as beautiful and lovely as its sounds. In the garden there is rhubarb, stinging nettles and leeks. The strawberries are flowering which shows that there will be delicious and fresh treats to pick in a couple of weeks . The deep red poppies are surrounded by bumblebees and the fish are jumping in the pond.

This weekend I had some dear friends over for dinner. I had successfully baked sourdough bread which we enjoyed with dried sausage, aged goat cheese and olives while my friend Johan Kohnke prepared the rooks that was one of the sensations of the evening. The rooks are a delicacy similar to quail. In this part of Sweden there is an old tradition for farmers to hunt them as the birds often collect the seeds from the new seeded fields. Instead of just feeding them to the pigs, my friends and I had the pleasure to enjoy them with a creamy porcini mushroom sauce spiced with plenty of wine and herbs from the garden.

For dessert my Sofi Meijling made a Cardamom Panna Cotta with a jam she cooked with freshly picked rhubarbs from my vegetable plot. The panna cotta was made with both heavy cream and Greek yogurt (about 50/50) which gave the pannacotta a slight sour flavor (see example of other panna cotta recipes below). Sofi used about one teaspoon crushed cardamom to flavor this evening’s final dish.

This rhubarb jam was such a great reminder of how much I love having a vegetable garden. You don’t really need mush to make something so simply delicious.

Sofi’s Caramelized Rhubarb Jam
(for about 4 people as topping to pannacotta or ice cream)

About 6 rhubarb stalks
2 tablespoons regular sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar (Sofi used Swedish farin which is a similar sugar type)
1/3 cup water

Melt the sugar in a pan together with the water and let it cook for awhile. Keep an eye on the sugar so it doesn’t burn and stir a little now and again. You may need to lower the heat to medium. Clean the rhubarb and cut them into one inch long pieces. When the sugar is thick and sticky add the rhubarb and let them simmer until soft but not totally mushy. Set aside to cool before serving.

If you think this jam is too simple you can spice it up with either ginger, cardamon or licorice root.

The jam is also great together with aged cheese on bread but then I recommend you make a larger batch (just add more of everything).

Here are some Pannacotta recipes:

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall makes Yoghurt and Vanilla Panna Cotta

Jules Clancy makes Panna Cotta with Mascarpone and serves it with pot roasted pears.

Ilva Beretta spices her Panna Cotta with lavender.

This article was originally published at EcoSalon on 16 June 2012.

Mazariner – a Swedish Pastry Classic (collaboration)

Story by Anna Brones • Illustration by Johanna Kindvall • Recipe by both

Put two Swedes who love to cook in a kitchen together and there will be an immediate discussion of what baked good needs to be concocted for afternoon coffee. After all, we don’t mess around with our coffee breaks, and a serious coffee break deserves a serious pastry. So we settled on mazariner.

Mazariner are the darling of Swedish cafes, a balance of buttery pastry and almond filling topped with a thin layer of icing; the type of thing you bite into and wonder where this food has been all of your life. They’re just fancy enough that you don’t keep them on hand at all times, but you don’t have to put them on a serving tray.

Made in small oval tart tins, they can seem daunting to make, but as it turns out, are easy enough that you don’t need to cruise to your local IKEA to track down the mass produced version – although they do have them if you’re in a Swedish food pinch.

Our recipe search started with a few Swedish cookbooks and a call to my mother who was immediately reciting the ingredients from a page she had ripped out of a Swedish magazine sometime in the late 80s – when you come across a good recipe, you hold on to it. Johanna, being a more skilled pastry “chef” than myself did a creative combination of the many versions, and we both decided that plain icing just wouldn’t suffice. Add a little orange juice and you have a real masterpiece.

Make a batch of these, brew a French press and it will almost be like you’re sitting at a cafe in Stockholm. Almost.


7 oz butter (almost 2 sticks)
2 cups regular flour
¼ cup sucanat or organic cane sugar
2 teaspoons whole cardamom (crushed in a mortar, or slightly ground in a coffee grinder)
one small egg

one cup blanched, ground almonds (can be replaced with almond meal)
2 bitter almonds (about 1 teaspoon almond extract, or more depending on how strong you want the taste)
2.5 oz butter
½ cup sucanat or organic cane sugar
3 small eggs

juice from an orange
¼ cup confectioner’s sugar

In a large wide bowl cream together butter, egg and sugar. With your hands, mix in flour – this can be done either in the bowl or directly on a clean counter top. Crush the cardamom with a mortar and pestle as fine as you wish. If you don’t have a mortar or grinder, you can use pre-ground cardamom. Add it to the dough and blend well. Let the dough rest in a cool place for at least 30 minutes.

While the pastry dough rests, blanch the almonds by pouring boiling hot water over them and letting soak for a few minutes. They are ready when the skin slips off easily. Skin all of the almonds and grind them into a fine meal in a food processor. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and set aside to cool. Whisk the eggs together with sugar to a porous batter and add in almonds, almond extract (if you didn’t use bitter almonds) and butter. Stir together until well blended.
Grease small tartlet tins* (see illustration above) with butter. Line the molds with a thin layer of dough (about 1/8”) and fill them almost to the top with the almond mixture. If there is any leftover dough you can freeze it and use it some other time.
Bake in the oven at 400°F for about 15 minutes. The cakes should have got a slightly brown color on top. Let them cool a little before removing the cakes from the mold.

While the mazariner bake, prepare the icing. In a small bowl add the confectioner’s sugar and drip in some orange juice. The icing should be a little thick but still easy to drizzle over the mazariner. Wait until the mazariner have cooled before icing them.

Serve the mazariner for an afternoon tea or coffee break, you’re sure to make some new friends if you pull these out.

*If you don’t have small single cake molds as described you can use mini muffin trays or similar forms. In Sweden, disposable aluminum forms are often used, but stay away from single-use containers and do the best with what you have. We always encourage creativity!

Other Swedish baked classics

Semlor – cardamom rich bun is filled with almond paste and heavy whipped cream
Kanelbullar – Swedish Cinnamon Bun
Lussebullar – Saffron Buns
Pepparkakor – Ginger Bread Cookies (at EcoSalon)

This article was originally published at EcoSalon, 15 May 2012


Cooking in Marrakesh – Semolina Pancakes

The best tagine I have ever had is the one I cooked myself while attending a cooking class in Marrakesh, Morocco. Its probably also the only proper tagine I have ever had. Raja (the cook) who really did most of the work that day, also led me carefully through and demonstrated every step in how to make other traditional Moroccan dishes such as salad, Berber bread and chocolate layered semolina pancakes. I watched and learned. Smelled and ate. It was absolutely my best day in Marrakesh.

The day started at an indoor market in Mellah (one of the neighborhoods inside Medina) where I could pick meat and vegetables for the cooking lesson. The market had everything from meat (even live chickens), vegetables, bread and milk. We got some beef, carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, chili and olives for the tagine and some apricots, eggs and dark chocolate for desert.

The salad we made was really simple and fresh. Just finely chopped onion, cucumber, yellow pepper and tomato. Seasoned with a splash of olive oil, salt and freshly chopped mint.

The beef tagine was cooked in a traditional ceramic tagine cookware on low heat for about 3 hours. At the bottom we arranged onions, garlic and chopped fresh cilantro. The cookware was placed on the stove and the heat was set to low. The meat was placed on top and spices (ginger powder, cumin, paprika, salt and black pepper) were added at the edges around the meat. When the meat had been turned once we arranged carrots, potatoes, zucchini, one whole chili, ½ lemon, olives and parsley on top. Lastly we poured in a mixture of both olive and sunflower oil. Before the tagine “hat” was placed on top, a little water was added. Now and again we scooped up the cooking liquid and poured it over the vegetables and meat. In this way all ingredients got a nice taste of the spices without moving them around.

The semolina Berber bread  we made was baked on top of the stove in a skillet. In Morocco, bread is  served to almost any meal during the day and a must when having tagine. Raja’s recipe used only semolina flour but I stumbled upon some breads in the city that seem to have a mixture of semolina and wheat flour. Unfortunately they were not as nice. Our local deli (a hole in the wall) in Kasbah sold something that looked like a rye version of the bread. That was amusing!

The sweet dessert semolina pancakes were really the thing that won my heart and also something that was new to me. These pancakes should not be mistaken for the more well known pancake, begrhir. Begrhir is a yeast based semolina pancake that is often served for breakfast with honey. These pancakes are baked on only one side and the yeast create decorative holes on the surface. Raja’s dessert pancakes were sweeter and made with baking powder. They create similar decorative holes but are baked on both sides.

Below I have tried to translate Raja’s semolina pancake recipe as best I could. Raja used a typical Moroccan teacup when measuring the ingredients, so her cup measure was slightly less than a standard measuring cup. My recipe is as close as I could come!

Sweet Semolina Pancakes
serves 2-4 people

one egg
½ cup sugar ( I used sucanut)
½ cup milk (+ more if batter is too thick)
¾ cup semolina
one teaspoon baking powder
¼  sunflower oil (optional)*

zest from one lemon**
one teaspoon ground cardamom**

I don’t really remember the order Raja mixed the ingredients together but I did it this way: Whisk egg and sugar until well blended before adding the milk. Mix together semolina flour and baking powder. Add the semolina mixture to the batter and whisk well together (make sure there are no lumps). Add the oil, lemon zest and cardamom. Let the batter rest for 15-30 minutes before baking the pancakes.

Heat up a frying pan with some neutral oil (if using nonstick you don’t need any oil in the pan). When the pan is hot lower the heat to medium. Spoon up some batter in the pan with a sauce ladle (You may need to add more milk to the batter if it’s too heavy. It should be fairly easy to pour into a pan). When the pancake has nice decorative holes and starts to get firm on top flip the pancake over. The other side should now have a nice brown color. Press down the pancake with your spatula so the pancake doesn’t rise. Continue until done. Repeat until batter is finished.

It may take some time to get used to how much batter you need for every pancake. A finished pancake should be about 1/8” thick.

Serve the pancakes with sour cream and seasonal fruit and berries for breakfast or brunch. I loved it with a simple apple & orange fruit salad spiced with mint and chopped pistachio. The pancakes can also be done as Raja’s desert, layered with melted dark chocolate (she added some neutral oil to the chocolate) and topped with fresh mint and fruit of your choice. Serve it cool when the chocolate is firm.

*Raja used some neutral oil in the batter and fried the pancakes in a non-stick frying pan. As I didn’t use a non-stick pan I learned that the pancakes got a little greasy with oil both in the batter and in the pan.  They still tasted great but got firmer and easier to handle with oil only in the pan.
**Raja didn’t flavor her pancakes with cardamom and lemon, instead she used 1-2 teaspoons vanilla sugar. I just didn’t have any at home when re-creating the recipe. Both versions are equally delicious.

If you planing to go to Marrakesh and want to participate in a cooking class, I can warmly recommend Raja’s class. Contact Jean Peres at Riad Dar One for details and booking.

Story and recipe was originally posted at EcoSalon on 19th January 2012.