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alcohol

Baking

Festive Mocha, Almond, Brandy Strazzate

Mocha, Almond, Brandy Strazzate

Christmas Cookie baking has begun! I started my baking season with these Vegan Mocha, Almond, Brandy Strazzate. This cookie is normally made with Strega, a herbal liqueur from the Basilicata Region of Italy, which supposedly goes really well with chocolate. That liqueur is difficult to find where I live, so I used brandy, which I always have on hand this time of year., and which also works well with the mocha, almond flavours in this cookie.  This is a super delicious cookie, made without eggs or butter.

 

Mocha, Almond, Brandy StrazzateI woke up the other morning to this snowy site and decided it was the perfect day to begin my Christmas Baking.

Mocha, Almond, Brandy Strazzate

It’s never too early to start baking Christmas cookies or playing around with Christmas lights: two of my favourite winter activities.

These Mocha Almond Brandy Strazzate cookies come together very quickly. And the taste is divine. A cookie dough made with cocoa powder and chocolate chips so you get chocolate goodness in every bite. The dough also contains ground almonds + chopped almonds – double goodness again! And the espresso coffee blends with the chocolate to create than umami mocha flavour that is so powerful.

Like I mentioned above, this cookie is traditionally made in the Basilicata Region of Italy where Strega is made. I think any liqueur/liquor that goes with mocha and almonds would work. If you don’t drink alcohol, try a strong spiced herbal tea or chai. Those would work too.

Mocha, Almond, Brandy Strazzate

You can eat them plain, or sprinkled with some icing sugar. So tasty. Make a splash with your Christmas Baking this year. Try something new.

Mocha, Almond, Brandy Strazzate

Print Recipe
Serves: 16 Cooking Time: 30

Ingredients

  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp finely ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp roughly chopped almonds
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp white flour
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp chocolate chips
  • 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 2 tsp espresso powder, dissolved in 1/4 c. boiling water

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2

Mix together the ground almonds, chopped almonds, flour, brown sugar, chocolate chips and cocoa powder and olive oil.

3

Dissolve the baking powder in 2 teaspoons of hot water.

4

Add baking powder solution, coffee, and liqueur.

5

Give it all a good brisk stir. The dough will be very wet.

6

Form into 30 gram balls (or 1 ounce).

7

Place on parchment paper about 1 inch apart.

8

Bake in oven for 30 minutes, until dried out and set. The bottom will be slightly golden.

9

After 30 minutes, remove from oven.

10

Let dry on baking tray for 2-3 minutes.

11

Remove from baking tray to cool on a rack.

12

Enjoy!

Notes

These cookies will keep in a coo, dry place or 3-5 days. Or you can freeze them for up to one month.

Recipe slightly adapted from Saveur Magazine February 4, 2013.

Baking

Lemon-Elderflower Savarin Cake

lemon elderflower savarin cake

With the big Royal Wedding coming up, it’s hard to ignore the ongoings of the Royal Family. Especially when you have a British Mum.

My Mum always had something to say about the Royal Family when we were growing up. I can remember her commenting on many big royal events: the death of the Queen Mum, the retirement of the Royal Britannia, anything to do with Wallis Simpson or King Edward VIII (My Mum told she she cried and cried when King Edward VIII abdicated the throne in 1936)  or trips around the world by Queen Elizabeth. My Mum was the expert on all things royal in our house!

So, it’s no surprise that I have inherited my mum’s interest in this fascinating family. I will be watching the ceremony this Saturday and wishing my Mum was around to watch it with me.  I will certainly enjoy the music, admire the Bride’s dress and try and spot the most unusual fascinator, but,  like most foodies, it’s the cake that I’m particularly interested in. I’ve seen some photos of Royal Wedding Cakes in the past and they are utterly stunning.

I read in the news a few weeks ago, that the bride had chosen a lemon elderflower cake as their wedding cake. So, to celebrate this auspicious occasion, I wanted to bake a cake with those same flavours. But I didn’t want an after dinner cake, per se: layered and smothered in buttercream frosting. I wanted a cake that Canadians could nibble on alongside tea or coffee while they watch the wedding. There will be much to ooh and aah over such as, the bride’s gown, Queen Elizabeth’s outfit as well as the gorgeous music,

I chose a Savarin cake, because cakes soaked in a sweet syrup after baking are some of my favorites. This cake pairs exceptionally well with fresh fruit and a dairy topping which is so perfect for mid-morning noshing.

lemon elderflower savarin cake

Savarin Cake is interesting because it is made with yeast and not with baking powder or baking soda.

 

lemon elderflower savarin cake

The batter is left to rise first in the mixing bowl and then transferred into the cake pan where it is left to rise 3/4 of the way up the pan.

 

Lemon Elderflower Savarin Cake

The batter is baked in a greased bundt or savarin cake pan in a medium hot oven for about 30 minutes, until a light golden brown.

lemon elderflower savarin cake
When the pan has cooled down a little, turn the cake out onto a cake rack, with a plate underneath. Pour the sugar syrup over the cake.

 

lemon elderflower savarin cake

I filled my Lemon-Elderflower Savarin Cake with whipped yogurt and cream topped with  fresh blueberries and strawberries. It’s delicious anytime of day!

While Savarin cake is not British, it does have an interesting history behind it. FOllow the  links at the end of this post for more informatiin about this delicious cake.

The Royal Wedding will take place on May 19th at t St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Click on the link below to read up on this very interesting relic.

Enjoy the event! I’m sure it’s going to be fun!

If you enjoy reading about food history, here is some interesting information on Savarin Cakes.

history of savarin cakes

More on Savarins and Babas

Brillat-Savarin

St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle

Lemon Elderflower Savarin Cake with Fresh Fruit and Maple Whipped Yogurt and Cream Topping

Print Recipe
Serves: 16 Cooking Time: 35

Ingredients

  • For the cake:
  • 350 grams white flour
  • 50 grams sugar
  • 10 grams active yeast
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 6 eggs
  • 180 grams butter, very soft, in large cubes
  • zest of one lemon
  • for the syrup
  • 300 grams sugar
  • 150 ml water
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 100 ml St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • for the topping
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons of maple syrup (can also use honey, agave syrup or treacle)
  • fresh fruit

Instructions

1

Proof the yeast in 2 tbsp water.

2

Mix the flour and sugar together.

3

Mix the eggs, then add the lemon juice. Add in the yeast.

4

Add this egg mixture into the flour and sugar and mix until combined.

5

Add in the softened cubes of butter, one piece at a time, until the butter is fully incorporated.

6

Add the lemon zest and stir until incorporated.

7

Cover bowl with cling wrap and let sit for one hour to rise.

8

Grease bundt or savarin pan.

9

Spoon batter into pan. Let sit for 45-60 minutes until risen 3/4 of the way up the pan.

10

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

11

Place pan in oven and bake for 25-35 minutes until a light golden brown.

12

When pan has cooled slightly, turn cake upside down. Pour 3/4 of the sugar syrup into the empty cake pan, then place baked cake back into syrup filled pan. Leave for 3-4 minutes.

13

Carefully, turn cake out of cake pan onto wire rack and place on top of a plate. Leave cake to cool completely, letting syrup drip through onto the plate.

14

When the cake has cooled completely, place it on the plate to soak up any remaining syrup.

15

For the Topping: In a mixer bowl, add 1 cup of greek yogurt, 3/4 cup of whipping cream, 3 tablespoons of maple syrup. Turn mixer to medium high and whip until desired consistency is formed.

16

Fill centre of cake with topping and pile fresh fruit on top.

17

Enjoy!

recipe adapted slightly from Paul Hollywood’s Savarin Cake

dairy topping adapted slightly from Serious Eats

Journal

Chartreuse – The Elixir of Long Life

two glasses of Chartreuse and one bottle

Happy March!

There are many good reasons to be happy that it’s March: March break, the first day of spring and our long Easter weekend starts at the end of the month. I decided to celebrate the beginning of March,  with a post on my favourite green liqueur – Chartreuse.

Chartreuse is a sweet and herbal flavored liqueur. Because it’s made with 130 herbs, plants and flowers, it has a mysterious flavour profile. It’s taste is more a medley of flavours than any one ingredient. I love so many things about this liqueur: the gorgeous green colour, the sweet and herbal flavour but most of all I think I love the mysterious history behind this notable drink.

The name of this liqueur comes from the Grande Chartreuse Monastery, located in the Chartreuse Mountains near Grenoble, France. It has been made by the Carthusian monks for almost 400 years. And only two monks, Dom Benoit and Brother Jean Jacques, are the only ones that know the secret recipe.

The recipe originated back in 1605, when the Chartreuse Monastery received a manuscript for an elixir as a gift from a diplomat of France. This elixir eventually got nicknamed The Elixir of Long Life. The manuscript was so complex that most people couldn’t interpret it. Over one hundred years later, it was eventually sent to the head monastery in the Chartreuse Mountains. After studying this manuscript for almost four decades, it’s mystery was finally unravelled by the Monastery’s Apoethecary, Frère Jerome Maubec and the elixir could finally be prepared.

two bottles of Chartreuse and one bottle

It was originally 69% alcohol and considered a medicine. But everyone loved the taste so much, they drank it as a beverage instead. A few decades later, around 1784, another monk altered the recipe to make it sweeter and lower in alcohol. At 55% alcohol, it’s still high, but less than it was originally. If you prefer a liqueur that is less alcoholic, there is a yellow Chartreuse which is sweeter and lower in alcohol at only 40%.

Each year, 24 tons of herbs and plants and flowers are delivered to the Monastery to make this noteworthy drink. The herbs and plants are dried, crushed and mixed in the Herb Room. The next step takes place in the distillery in Voiron. Only the two monks and two assistants are allowed to enter this room. In the distillery, the various series of herbs macerate in alcohol and then are distilled for 8 hours. The lovely natural green colour is from the last maceration of plants and herbs.

The distillation is done in stainless-steel stills. They have been specially designed for Chartreuse, so that the monks can monitor the distillation process from the Monastery, 15 miles away. After the distillation, Chartreuse liqueur ages in oak casks that are from Russia, Hungary or France. After the liquor has aged for a few years, the Chartreuse Monks will test the liquer and decide if it’s ready to be bottled. They are the only two that can decide.

one glass of Chartreuse

 

Chartreuse is meant to be enjoyed neat, not even any ice. It’s a super strong liqueur: measure one shot of Chatreuse into your favourite glass, and sip slowly. It makes a lovely after dinner drink. If you prefer mixed drinks, I’ve included a link for some cocktails below.

Enjoy! Happy March!

 

Here is some more information on Chartreuse

Want to make your own herbal liqueur?

Interested in visiting the distillery?

Cocktails Made with Chartreuse