If you still need a Christmas gift and don’t have much time on your hands this will be perfect. Done in less than half an hour and so good you might want to consider keeping it. I recommend making a bigger amount, so you don’t have to be sad to give it all away but instead can keep some for yourself.
There is no black tea in the recipe, so for some chai just brew some tea, warm some milk and add as much syrup as you like. You can also flavour your coffee with it.
For the recipe I used a mix between farin sugar and cane sugar. Farin sugar is a brown sugar to which sugar cane molasses or dark syrup has been added and it is really sticky. You can use any kind of sugar you like. I chose farin sugar because it has a dark malty taste to it.
350 ml water
300 g sugar
2 tsp cloves
1-2 pieces star anise
7 cardamom pods
2 pieces cinnamon bark
8 berries allspice
Bring the water with the sugar to boil on medium heat. When everything is dissolved, add the spices and let it boil slightly for around 20 minutes. Pour everything through a strainer, or in case you used ground spices, through a cheesecloth and fill into bottles. The syrup should last in the fridge for a long time. Enjoy!
Last year Tiia had brought home a small bag of nettles and we decided to make pesto out of them. I have to say that I was a bit apprehensive at first since eating something that stings didn’t seem that appealing to me, but with some prep work nettles can be used in a lot of different dishes. The jar we had was gone in a week because it was so delicious! So this year I wanted to make a bigger batch.
If you want to pick some nettles take some thick rubber gloves with you, a pair of scissors and a plastic bag or basket. The best time to pick them is in spring when the plants are still small. If you go in the summertime and the nettles have grown more, just cut the upper 5-10 cm off. Shake them a bit to get rid of bugs. It doesn’t matter if the leaves a bit dirty, the nettles will be washed and boiled later.
Depending on where you live you might come across the plant below. The white deadnettle (germ. weiße Taubnessel, finn. valkopeippi) looks similar to common nettles but doesn’t sting and despite the looks and name isn’t related to nettles. I heard they can also be used in salads or cooked but I don’t have any personal experience with them and they aren’t used in this recipe.
If you have picked a sufficient amount of the nettles you should wash them at home immediately with lots of cold water. I washed them four times to make sure all dirt and bugs were gone.
Bring some water to boil at the same time and boil batch after batch for a few minutes before letting the excess water drip out in a big colander. After they’ve cooled down you can use a salad spinner to get rid of the remaining water.
Don’t pour away the water you boiled the nettles in! Cooled down it will make a great fertilizer for your plants.
Now the nettles are ready to be made into pesto. You can experiment with how much oil and parmesan you like. I found the pesto quite delicious when it’s not dripping with oil and doesn’t have too much parmesan. I picked around a kilo of nettles and it made a bit less than 2 l of pesto. Some will be stored in jars in the fridge or given away as a gift. I also froze a bit of the pesto for later.
Here is the recipe for a smaller amount:
250 g nettles (weigh the pre-washed nettles)
25 g parmesan (or nutritional yeast if you want a vegan pesto)
20 g sunflower seeds (or cashews)
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves depending on size
freshly ground pepper
Roast the sunflower seeds in a pan without oil until they are lightly coloured and grate the parmesan. Blend the nettles with the garlic and the seeds in a food processor by pouring in olive oil carefully. When everything is really smooth, add the cheese (or yeast flakes) and some salt and pepper. Taste the pesto and add more spices, garlic or oil if needed. If you want a vegan pesto but don’t want to use nutritional yeast I recommend using cashews in the recipe (increase the amount). They give a cheesier flavour to the pesto.
Store the pesto in jars in the fridge. Make sure it’s always covered with a bit of olive oil to keep it from getting mouldy and always use a clean spoon or knife. This way it will be kept fresh for several weeks. Enjoy with pasta, as a dip or on bread!
I have always liked Italian almond cookies. They just go so well with coffee and they last forever. If you can keep your hands of the cookie jar that is!
Both recipes are really easy to make and they don’t take much preparing. The ricciarelli need 2 – 3 hours of resting time but the dough is made really fast.
The cantuccini recipe is a basic recipe (originally from here) you can change up easily. Add chocolate, pistachios or dried berries to have some variety and new taste to them. I put some lemon zest in to add some freshness.
175 g whole almonds, peeled
250 g flour
180 g sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. vanilla sugar
1/2 bottle bitter almond baking aroma
25 g salted butter, softened (add a bit of salt if you use non salted butter)
grated lemon zest from 1 – 1,5 lemons
Preheat the oven to 200°C and line one or two trays with parchment paper.
Cut the almonds a bit smaller. It will be easier to cut the biscotti later when they come out of the oven the first time.
Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and vanilla sugar. Knead in the butter and eggs until you get a sticky dough. Then add the almonds. Wrap the dough into a foil and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes cut the dough roughly into 6 pieces and roll each piece into long rolls of around 1,5-2,5 cm depending on how big you want the cantuccini to be.
Put the rolls on the tray and bake for 15 minutes. Take them off and let them cool down a bit. I think I waited around 10 minutes as I found it easier to cut them before they were cooled down completely.
Cut them diagonally and put them back on the tray cut side down.
Bake them for another 10 minutes. They should be golden brown. When completely cooled down you can put them into a cookie jar or cookie tin. It’s also a nice idea to wrap them up and give them away as a present.
The ricciarelli are nice and soft in the middle and taste a bit like marzipan. I had been looking for a decent recipe for a while and came along this (scroll to the middle of the page).
300 g almond flour
280 g sugar
150 g powder sugar (100 g for the dough and 50 g for rolling)
1 tsp. baking powder
grated zest of 1 orange
2 egg whites
1/4 bottle of bitter almond baking aroma
Mix the almond flour with the sugar and 100 g of the powder sugar with the baking powder and orange zest. Beat the egg whites in a tall bowl until they’re firm and glossy. You can now add them with the bitter almond to the almond mixture.
Use a spoon to incorporate the eggs slowly. Don’t use a hand mixer since the eggs will lose all shape and the dough won’t be fluffy.
When everything is mixed, form little loaves of around 3 cm out of the dough.
Roll them in the left over powder sugar, put them on a tray and flatten them a bit with your fingers.
They now need to rest for around 2-3 hours before you can bake them in the oven for around 25 minutes on 140°C. They should be soft on the inside, so check them before the time is over since they might take a few minutes less!
These also make nice gifts if you can handle not eating them before. Enjoy!
I made this lemon curd as a filling for my rosemary cake with brown butter frosting. Of course you can also use it for other things like bread or scones. It’s really easy to make, cheap and will last for a while. At least in here the bought lemon curds are quite pricey and full of additives. It’s also a nice gift!
You can find the original link to the recipe in the post about the cake.
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
3 tbsp salted or unsalted butter (I used salted)
Mix the lemon juice, sugar, eggs and egg yolks together in a pot over low to medium heat and whisk everything until the butter has melted.
Stir constantly and boil slightly until the mixture thickens up like a pudding. It will take around 10 minutes. When it’s done strain the curd through a fine sieve to catch any remaining egg whites.
You can then put it in a bowl and let it cool down for later use or you can pour it into a jar and serve it with buns or scones. Enjoy!
Sorry that this blog has been a bit quiet. There was so much to do before Christmas and we also spent a week in Germany. We will update it more often now!
This year I made lots of nice little treats as Christmas presents and I will now start to type them up. Lets start with this easy but delicious recipe. It’s basically a ganache. You can also use it for filling macarons, cakes or hollow chocolate pralinés. You can also cover them in dark chocolate later but I wanted to keep it simple and fast.
The pictures are unfortunately bit dark but it’s really difficult to take better ones during the winter in Finland.
300 g white chocolate
150 ml cream
lemon flavoured baking aroma
sugar for rolling
Bring the cream to boil in a pot and add some lemon zest and lemon aroma to taste. Then take it off the heat and put in the chopped chocolate. Stir until everything is melted. You can still add some zest or aroma if you have the feeling it’s not lemony enough. Then pour the ganache into a plastic container or a bowl. When it’s cooled down you can put it in the fridge overnight. It will be good for a while, so you can also leave it in there longer.
When the ganache is firm enough you can use a little melon scoop or a teaspoon to form little balls. If you use a teaspoon make sure your hands are clean and cold since it will be easier to roll them. You might have to wash your hands once in a while (under cold water so they won’t melt) because they’ll get pretty sticky. Drop the ready truffles on a plate with sugar. You can put more than one in there at a time and then just swirl the plate around a bit so they’ll get completely covered. The sugar coat will keep them from sticking together.
Cool them until serving. I put mine in little bags and kept them in the fridge until Christmas Eve. Enjoy!