Hummingbird Chocolate and Orange Cupcakes

It shouldn’t take you long to guess which two masterminds of our group are behind this post. One of the most beautiful combinations known to the baking world strikes again: take two on the chocolate and orange. Recently having moved to London, as a food lover, one explores all grocery stores, little cafes, restaurants and bakeries in the area. Surprised yet excited, I was happy to note that this combination has been commercialized over here. Who knew chocolate orange kit kats exist? Chocolate orange flavored smarties? Chocolate orange macarons in Fortnum & Mason? Who would think they’d stumble across chocolate orange cupcakes in every cupcake shop? Well done to the English for that, maybe you could spread your wisdom to the mainland europeans by the end of the year!

These cupcakes were inspired by a bag of mini jaffa cakes which had been sitting in the cupboard for quite a while. Initially we wanted to make vanilla cupcakes with an orange marmalade center “jaffa cake style”… but then we gave in. Luckily we changed our minds…the cupcakes were great! Number three’s mother could not stop eating the frosting (which we thankfully had made mountains of).

Hummingbird Chocolate Orange Cupcakes 

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Adie Basel!

Very recently, we marked the end of an era: the four of us have recently all upped sticks and left our lovely little town in Switzerland and moved en masse to London. It turns out moving is hard work, and we’ve been busy little bees getting all settled in.

Before we left Basel for the big city, though, we thought we’d go out with a bang and mark our departure by splashing out on one of our favourite local dishes: Zürcher Geschnetzeltes with Rösti. We were feeling a bit fancy that day, so we also made some traditional Käsekuchen, and had ourselves a proper Goodbye Switzerland feast.

Zürcher Geschnetzeltes is made with veal, which sort of ruptured our bank accounts, and almost an insane amount of white wine. You could use a meat other than veal, but it wouldn’t be as yummy. The recipe we used was a slight modification of one we found via Coop. Pre-warning: we used ready-made Rösti. If you really want to go for it and make your own Rösti (essentially fancy potato hash), find a recipe alllllll the way at the bottom of the page of this Guardian article. (Pro-tip: add bacon bits for extra yum.)

Zürcher Geschnetzeltes with Rösti

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Potato Gnocchi with Sage and Butter Sauce (Original Grandma Recipe)

After a (really, horrifically) failed and soggy attempt at making gnocchi following an internet recipe, I skyped my all-knowing Italian grandma to see if she’d share her secrets in the art of making gnocchi. The conversation went something like this:

“It’s very easy. You boil one potato. Or two. Three if they’re not too big. Or four. Once they’re done, you peel them and mash them.” (At this point she finally manages to focus her vision on the video.) “Oh my! Your hair is so long! Look at that!”

“Thank you! Now focus, Grandma.”

“Okay okay. So you mash them and add butter. Or milk. Both if you want. Then a pinch of white pepper and nutmeg and then flour. Lots of flour. Until it can’t take it anymore flour.”

“Okay… lots… of… flour… any idea how much?”

“A LOT. Half a kilo…. a kilo…. I dunno. So then let the dough rest a bit.”

“Grandma, what about eggs? No eggs?”

“Oh! yeah! Of course! When you make the mash, that’s when you put an egg in. Just one. So then you roll out the dough into little sausages, cut into squares and then roll them onto a fork for the shape. If you’re awesome like me, this will be very quick and simple. Boil some water and FINITO!”

Okay, so she didn’t say those last bits about being awesome. But the rest is all true.

Potato Gnocchi with Sage and Butter Sauce

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How to Train Your Orange-Chocolate Skeptic

When 1 and 4 are away, 2 and 3 come out to bake. We have taken this opportunity to make something in the spirit of one of the most divine combination: chocolate and orange. A combination that divides audiences and friendships alike.  Without the two voices in the background going “but its so wrooooong” we have settled for a cake that we believe embodies this match made in heaven in all its’ glory. Well… kind of. We just liked the look of the recipe and knew that we could try it out without 1 and 4 moaning about it. 

We got a little over-excited with the decoration, and even attempted some chocolate work. While we found out this is not our calling, we’re generally pleased with the result and are hoping to convert some non-believers with this beastly yet subtle creation.

The recipe involves four layers of cake with orange syrup, almond cream, chocolate ganache and pâtisserie-quality decorations: challenge accepted!

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The Battle of Mascarpone and Other Tales from the Tiramisu Wars

While working at an oh-so-career-relevant summer job, I inadvertently found myself in the midst a tiramisu war. It all started when one of my friends naively asked a lady for the recipe of the strawberry tiramisu she had brought to the office. Mistake. I believe that her genuine request must have sounded something like this to this lady: “I want to steal ALL your tiramisu secrets and challenge you to the ultimate tiramisu bake(?)-off MWAHAHAHAHA”. People can get greedy over recipes, but this was extreme; on the spot, the lady publicly announced that my friend would attempt to emulate her tiramisu and bring it the following week so we could all compare. Much to her chagrin, the recreation far exceeded its predecessor and thus war broke out. We suddenly had a middle-aged German lady bringing in to work exorbitant amounts of tiramisus with strange twists, violently stuffing them in our mouths, just in order to proclaim “OH ABER SEE! IT EES ALL FINEESHED. EET WAS SEEMPLY ZEE BEST ONE YET!”.

The saddest part was that none of them were particularly good. Call me a skeptic, but I don’t really believe in putting fruit in tiramisu. One of the highlights was an “apricot tiramisu” which had a top layer of apricot goo that oxidized, turning into a delicious-looking diarrhea-inspired brown. There’s nothing more devastating than having to throw away almost an entire case of tiramisu, but it was honest-to-God inedible. We advertised it to colleagues from nearby offices, who would hurry along excitedly at the promise of an Italian treat and, upon taking a look, would suddenly go “oooooh, I’ll just have a bit… I’m on a diet really”.  After having tried a plethora of different tiramisus (plural of tiramisu anyone?) I came across this traditional and simple, yet impeccable recipe.

The key is the mascarpone – no matter what you’re told, do not substitute with quark, Philadelphia or let yourself be tempted to engage in any other soft-cheese shenanigans. Tiramisu is made with mascarpone. Punkt. Having said that, the beauty of this recipe lies in its flexibility: you can adjust the alcohol, sugar and coffee levels to your taste. It is simply victorious.

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