Velvety Pumpkin chocolate mousse

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I’ve turned this very simple but amazing mousse into all kinds of treats, from chocolate cake, to layered dessert, to truffles. It has a texture that’s very smooth and creamy, but due to the pumpkin its consistency is thicker and heavier than ordinary chocolate mousse (folding in some whipped cream would probably result in a lighter mousse, but the sweetness and flavour would have to be adjusted). I’ve had rave reviews from everyone who tried it, and it’s deceiving even the most vocal pumpkin haters. The flavours can be adjusted – cinnamon, vanilla and a hint of nutmeg are essential, but I’ve also used pumpkin spice mix or added a little oriental flavour with cardamom and coriander.

Lately I’ve served it with a base of Spekuloos cookie crumbs and topped with frozen raspberries, as shown in the picture.

Pumpkin chocolate mousse

Ingredients:

  • 1kg pumpkin (Hokkaido), should yield about 600-700g puree
  • 150g coconut oil/fat
  • 150g powdered sugar
  • 100g unsweetened cocoa powder, possibly a little more depending on the moisture of the pumpkin puree
  • 50g dark chocolate
  • Vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg to taste

 

1. Bake the whole pumpkin on a baking sheet at 150°C in the middle of the oven for about 60 mins, then carefully cut open, remove the seeds, and put the flesh (with skin, unless it’s become charred) into a large bowl. Don’t drain, unless it’s very watery.  Puree with a hand blender.

2. Add the coconut fat and chopped dark chocolate while the pumpkin mash is still warm, then stir until thoroughly melted down and absorbed.

3. Add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder in two or three steps, mixing well each time until its smooth. If the mousse is still too runny afterwards, add more cocoa and sugar: depending on the pumpkin, some have quite soft, watery flesh, while others are drier. The mousse should not easily drip off a wooden spoon once it’s reached the correct consistency.

4. Season with vanilla, cinnamon and a little pinch of nutmeg. (I’ve also added tonca bean sometimes, or coriander and cardamom).

5. Cover with foil or clingfilm, allow to cool in fridge overnight.

6. Serve as a dessert, or, if the consistency is thick enough, use as a single-layer chocolate cake covered in chocolate ganache, or roll small balls in cocoa powder/dried raspberry/etc and serve as chocolate truffles

Additional note: If the sweetness and consistency is not to your taste, add honey or maple syrup for added sweetness instead of more powdered sugar. If it’s not chocolatey enough, I’d recommend adding more dark chocolate, as it may become too grainy if more cocoa powder is added (unless the mousse is overall too runny.

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Chickpea pot with tomatoes & goat cheese

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I’ve been meaning to make stuffed tomatoes again after the bbq dinner we had with my parents the other week, but I’ve been on a crazy “ravioli straight from the can” binge this week (the last week of school) where I couldn’t be bothered to cook at the end of the day. Nya isn’t at home, so cooking for myself seems like a bit of a chore.

I’d already done some shopping, though, so unless I wanted all of it to go to waste, something had to be done. So I invaded my kitchen this evening and threw together this delightful pot of Mediterranean food.

Chickpea pot with tomatoes & goat cheese

Ingredients:

  • 50g Bulgur, soaked in 200ml hot beef stock for 10 minutes
  • 1 small can of chick peas, drained
  • 1 bundle of big-leafed parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig of fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1 medium-sized red onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, paprika and “Couscous spice mix” to taste
  • 50g Goat cream cheese

1. Sauté the onions in the olive oil with the garlic in a large frying pan until they are just beginning to brown, then add the drained chick peas and season with some cumin, paprika and coriander. Stirring often to keep the chick peas from sticking to the bottom, reduce the heat to medium and let them get some colour for a few minutes.

2. Add the bulgur with its remaining liquid into the pan, then the tomatoes, parsley and mint. Mix well, then add the couscous spice mix, some salt and pepper. Cover with a lid and let simmer for 10 minutes (or less, check regularly and stir to keep from sticking to the bottom)

3. After 10 minutes most of the liquid should be absorbed and the tomatoes should have fallen apart – I wanted my tomatoes broken up, otherwise it could be served after only a short time on the stove. Stir well to mix everything thoroughly before turning the stove off, then season to taste – I added more pepper and paprika to give it a bit of extra spice.

4. Serve in bowl with a few thin slices of goat cream cheese on top – I used the Turkish variety that comes in a large tin can, but any other kind can be used, too.

Enjoy!

Caramelised garlic and fig tart

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We invited my parents and friends over for a barbecue dinner today. My daughter (rightly) complained that I spent a month’s grocery money on food for just one day, but in my defense – when else do I get to cook for lots of people and try out new things? Not that I don’t try out new dishes all the time but cooking for two is  something different.

Unfortunately the weather turned and instead of warmth and lots of sun we got woken up by rain this morning, and it persisted until the early afternoon. It dried up somewhat then, and the sun came out, but barbecuing outside just wasn’t going to work. Luckily we also have an electric grill that can be used inside; it’s smaller and doesn’t add that smoky taste but upon an occasion like this it does the job just as well.

Our family is a big fan of vegetables so to accompany any meat there had to be at least one salad. I made a Gazpacho salad of celery, tomato, peppers and cucumber, and a dish of grilled vegetables marinated in cilantro and lime dressing. Aioli diced potatoes for my dad (for whom a meal isn’t complete if there’s no potato in it), marinated mozzarella bites for my daughter, and pilaw-stuffed tomatoes completed the main course. (Recipes will be posted later).

But as a starter I made a tart of caramelised onions and green figs. The caramelised onion tart is from Yotam Ottolenghi’s vegetarian cookbook Plenty, and I first had the idea to add figs while shopping yesterday: looking for figs for a different recipe I couldn’t find any fresh ones and chanced upon a tin of green figs in syrup. This morning I realised the goat cheese I’d bought had a very strong aroma and was likely to overpower everything else, so I opened the can of figs to try one with a piece of the cheese. It went very well with each other, so that’s when the idea to add it to the tart was born.

It received rave reviews by my family, so it’s definitely one to share, even if the idea of so much garlic can be daunting to some.

I would have liked to serve it with a dollop of slightly salted whipped cream with half of a fresh fig, but we ended up eating it with everything else, so that idea will have to wait until the next time. Also – I don’t know how common canned green figs are, so if you can’t find them anywhere, it would probably work just as well  to use fresh ones. Otherwise, leave them out and make the garlic tart by itself, just pick a mild goat cheese then

 

Caramelised garlic and fig tart

Serves 8

Based on a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi

Ingredients

  • 375g puff pastry, readymade
  • 3 medium-sized bulbs of garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 tsp finely chopped thyme, plus some sprigs for decoration
  • Salt
  • 1 can (415 g net weight) sweet green figs, drained and cut into quarters
  • 150 g soft goat cream cheese
  • 150 g mature hardened goat cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 200 ml heavy cream (or half cream, half crème fraîche)
  • Black pepper

Prepare a 26cm tart dish. Roll out the puff pastry into a round shape big enough to cover the bottom and sides of the dish, then lay out the dish with the dough, avoiding trapped air bubbles. Cover the pastry with baking paper, then fill with dry beans for blind baking. Let it rest for 20 minutes in the fridge.

Preheat the oven at 180°C. Bake the prepared pastry for 15 minutes, then remove the beans and baking paper and bake for another 10 minutes until the pastry is golden. Set aside, don’t turn off the oven.

While the pastry is baking, make the filling: in a pot, cover the garlic cloves with water and bring to a boil. Blanch the garlic for 3 minutes, then drain the water. Dry the pot, put the garlic back into it and add the olive oil. Roast the garlic in the pot at maximum heat until beginning to brown, then add the vinegar and 250 ml water. Bring back to  boil then simmer for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, the figs, rosemary, thyme and some salt. At medium heat let it simmer for another 10 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated and the garlic is coated in caramel. Set aside.

Assemble the tart: cut the two cheeses into small bits and spread them over the bottom of the puff pastry. Add the caramelised garlic and figs, spreading them evenly over the cheese. If any liquid is left, mix it with the eggs, the cream, a 1/2 tsp of salt and some pepper. Pour this over the tart filling so the bottom is covered completely and bits of garlic and figs are still visible.

Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C and put the tart in the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the surface has turned a golden colour. Remove  from oven, let it cool, then decorate with thyme sprigs and fresh fig halves before serving .

Recommended: White chocolate, raspberry and coconut gateau

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For my daughter’s fifteenth birthday I wanted to try something different. She’d wished for a cake with raspberry flavour, so I had to look for something creative involving raspberries in some way.

I came across a stunner of a cake on Sainsbury’s Magazine that had vertical layers, which was something I’d definitely not tried before.

Using freeze-dried raspberries was also a new thing for me (they’re very convenient – enough so that I really wish they weren’t as expensive to buy). The frosting was, as usual, too sweet for the rest of the family but surprisingly similar to that creamy core of a Rafaello that I so adore.

Recreating the recipe was fairly easy, even if the cake layers broke upon rolling. It stopped being a worry as soon as it was all rolled up and showing no signs of the breaks anymore.

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I’m looking forward to using this cake as a basis for quite a lot new baking adventures as it can easily be adapted to use other fruit and combinations.

Rhubarb and coconut custard cake

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Yesterday I was faced with a dilemma: I’d bought a few stalks of rhubarb to bake a cake for Mothers’ day, but in the usual shopping frenzy I’d ended up forgetting to buy butter, which didn’t occur to me as a problem until I got together my rhubarb pie ingredients in the evening. I didn’t fancy another trip to the shop so I had to check my recipe collection for a suitable alternative. And although this Rhubarb honey coconut tart ticked all the boxes ingredients-wise, I just didn’t quite fancy a honey flavour right then. (It’s definitely going to be tried out soon, though)

I ended up adapting this intriguing Rhubarb custard tea cake  by Thanh of eatlittlebird, because the thought of hiding a layer of custard in the cake to go along with the rhubarb was just irresistible. I’m really happy that her recipes are so easy to follow since the foodstuffs she gets in Switzerland aren’t much different than ours here in Germany, so I don’t end up having to find creative substitutes all the time. But as with this cake, I usually end up giving it my own twist, and in this case it’s by upping the rhubarb factor and adding coconut flavours.

By upping the rhubarb factor I don’t just mean adding more fresh rhubarb – I had a tub of rhubarb and strawberry “Rote Grütze” (a fruity compote that comes in seasonal flavours and is usually eaten smothered in vanilla sauce) some of which I mixed into the custard while spreading the remainder over the cake for the last 10 minutes of baking, thus adding a moist finish.

If you want to try this version but can’t buy the Grütze, I added the instructions for making a very similar compote to the recipe.

 

Rhubarb and coconut custard cake

For the compote:

  • 300 gr peeled and diced rhubarb
  • 500 gr strawberries, diced
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp granulated fine sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla flavour

For the custard:

  • 40 gr (1/3 cup) bourbon vanilla custard powder
  • 55 gr (1/4 cup) granulated fine sugar
  • 250 ml (1 cup) skimmed milk
  • 2 heaped tbsp rhubarb & strawberry compote
  • 1 tsp vanilla flavour
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

For the cake:

  • 200 gr (6 1/2 oz) coconut oil
  • 110 gr (1/2 cup) granulated fine sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 185 gr (1 1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 40 g (1/3 cup) custard powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla flavour
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • 4-5 stalks of rhubarb, peeled and roughly diced
  • 4 tbsp sugar for sprinkling
  • 4-5 heaped tbsp rhubarb and strawberry compote

For the glaze:

  • 50 gr (2 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 50 gr (1/4 cup) powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp cream of coconut, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla flavour
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • To finish: 1 tbsp shredded coconut

Instructions:

1. To make the Compote: Heat the diced strawberries and peeled and diced rhubarb in a pot. Bring to boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer gently for 5 minutes until the rhubarb starts breaking down. Put half of the pot into a blender and puree it thoroughly. Take a few spoonfuls of the remaining liquid in the pot and mix it with the cornstarch in a small bowl. Whisk this into the fruit puree, then return the puree together with the sugar and the vanilla to the fruit in the pot and stir well until it thickens. Fill into jars as needed. Cool in the fridge.

2. To make the custard: Heat all but 4 tbsp of the milk in a pot, then stir in sugar and vanilla. Mix the custard powder with the remaining 4 tbsp of milk, then add this to the hot milk. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring until the custard thickens. Take the pot off the stove, stir in the coconut oil first, then the compote. Set aside to cool.

3. Preheat the oven at 180°C (340F). Line the bottom of a 18cm round springform cake tin with baking paper, and grease the sides of the tin.

4. To make the cake: Mix the coconut oil and the sugar in a bowl until fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla. Mix the baking powder, custard powder and the flour together and then add to the wet ingredients to make a very thick dough. Add the milk to soften it a little, so that it becomes spreadable. It is a very thick dough, though, so beware of it becoming too soft.

5. Assembling the cake: spread 1/3 of the dough over the bottom of the tin. As the dough is so thick, it might be difficult to do so best to put down dollops of dough, then spread them outwards to connect, taking care to cover all of the bottom. Over this, spread the custard, then the remaining dough, repeating the technique of the first part. Finally, add the rhubarb to the top, distributing it evenly over the dough and sprinkling it with 4 tbsp of sugar.

6. Set the cake on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. After that, spread the compote over the top and return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes or until the top thickens slightly. Then remove the cake from the oven and let cool thoroughly (in the fridge after it has reached room temperature).

7. Make the glaze by combining all ingredients and stirring thoroughly. When the cake is cool, sprinkle the glaze over the top in a criss-cross pattern then add some shredded coconut. Transfer the cake onto a cake plate and serve.

Notes: the glaze isn’t absolutely necessary but I thought it would make a nice contrast and complement the rhubarb. It’s from a recipe by Tournadough Alli that I’ve also yet to try once I can get decent local produce.