Compiègne Cake

Compiègne cakeCompiègne Cake was created by Antonin Carême, in honour of the marriage of Napoleon and Marie-Louise of Austria in 1810. It wedding took place in the city of Compiègne, hence the name given to the cake. At her dinner, Queen Victoria served small sized versions of this cake, what we today would call cupcakes. I found a recipe from the era, which gives the base recipe for the dough, and then offered several variations, adding different candied fruits, etc. to the dough and as decoration. The recipe below uses fresh pineapple and candied fruit (though maraschino cherries would work just as well). This cake will serve 8-10 people. I hope you enjoy!

Compiegne CakeIngredients:

Dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ tablespoons sugar
3 small eggs
3 egg yolks
2 ½ teaspoons fresh yeast
4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cream
⅔ cup softened butter

Syrup:
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
⅓ cup rum*
1 tablespoon of instant coffee (vanilla flavoured preferable)
1 orange, juiced, or ⅓ cup of juice
1 lemon, juiced, or 2-3 tablespoons of juice

Garnish:
1 pineapple
½ cup brown sugar
½ to 1 cup candied fruit or maraschino cherries

* Click here to see the list of kosher alcohols.

Directions:

Remove the butter from the refrigerator at least 2 hours before starting the cake. Cut into cubes and leave it at room temperature.

In a bowl (or food processor), combine the flour, sugar and yeast. Add the eggs, yolks and cream. Mix slowly until you have formed a smooth dough. Add the softened butter and mix being careful not to overmix the dough. It will be quite liquid and elastic.

Pour the batter into a Bundt pan or Kouglof mould if you have one, and let rise 1 hour in a warm place, such as next to the oven while it is roasting the pineapple. The dough will rise over this time.

To prepare the garnish, heat the oven to 350 degrees, and slice the pineapple into thin rounds, and then cut them in half to make a half moon shape. Lay the slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and scatter the brown sugar on top. Roast the pineapple until it’s cooked through and slightly dried and caramelized.

After the hour of rising, bake the cake in the 350 degree oven for 35 minutes, or until when you knock on the cake it sounds slightly hollow.

Meanwhile, to make the syrup, mix the sugar and water together in a saucepan, and bring it to a boil. Remove it from the heat and add the juices of the orange and lemon, the coffee and the rum. Mix to combine.

Remove the cake from the oven and let it completely cool before unmoulding. This cake will be served crown shape up, so you may have to trim the base of the cake so that it will remain level on your serving platter.

Warm the syrup slightly and pour it over the cake. You might find it easier to pour a little syrup back in the cake pan, then put the cake back in the pan, and gently pour the remaining syrup over the cake. Let stand a few minutes to absorb the syrup, and then remove the cake from the pan again, and let it sit on a cooling rack to drain any excess syrup.

Place the cake on serving plate and make shallow slices around the cake in order to insert the roasted pineapple. Decorate with candied fruit alternating around the cake and piled up in the centre hole.

Note: To make this cake pareve or non-dairy, replace the butter with margarine and the cream with non-dairy creamer.

Strawberries with Chamomile Cream

Strawberries and CreamStrawberries and Cream… such a classic combination but the twist of flavouring the cream, here with Chamomile tea, definitely makes it both High Tea and Mother’s Day perfect! You can always switch up the type of tea used, but I would not recommend anything too acidic in nature. Something light and herbal would work best. This recipe will make enough for 6 people, but can easily be halved or doubled.

Ingredients:

1 cup heavy cream, divided
2 best-quality chamomile tea bags or 2 teaspoons dried chamomile flowers
2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled, quartered*
3 tablespoons sugar, divided

* Click here to learn how to properly clean fresh strawberries.

Directions:

Heat ½ cup of cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chamomile/tea bags. Let this steep for about 20 minutes. Keeping the chamomile/tea bags with the cream, transfer the steeped cream to a medium bowl, cover and chill until cold, about 2 hours.

Meanwhile, toss the strawberries with 2 tablespoons of sugar in a medium bowl to coat. Set aside to allow juices to form.

Strain chamomile cream through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Add remaining ½ cup cream and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Using an electric mixer beat the cream until soft peaks form.

To serve, divide the berries among bowls and spoon the chamomile whipped cream over the berries.

Sweet Lavender Scones

Lavendar SconesI never thought that I’d actually make my own scones at home (my baby sister is the baker of the family), but I found this recipe to be quite easy to pull off. If you can’t find lavender buds (they’re in the spice section of the more higher-end grocery stores), you can substitute with another flavour profile, maybe up the lemon? Or add some almond bits and some almond extract for a nutty scone? The possibilities are really endless. I do recommend the lavender though, it add a nice floral note, and you can always use the leftover buds to make lavender cookies, lavender sugar, lavender sachets…. You get the idea 🙂 This recipe will make 16 tea sized scones.

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon dried lavender buds
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup (1½ sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ¼ inch cubes
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk*
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sanding or granulated sugar
1½ cups store-bought lemon curd (for serving)

* Click here for tips on zesting and how to make buttermilk.

Directions:

Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and then preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, lavender buds, salt and baking soda. Add the chilled butter in cubes, and rub it through the dry ingredients with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the buttermilk, the lemon zest and the vanilla. Slowly add the wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and mix until a shaggy dough forms.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, and then knead until a cohesive dough forms, about 2-3 minutes. Gently shape the dough into a 10×6″ rectangle. Halve dough lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise into 4 squares. Cut each square diagonally in half into 2 triangles. Divide the triangles between the two baking sheets. Brush each triangle with the remaining buttermilk and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Bake until scones are golden and a tester inserted into the centre comes out clean, 13–15 minutes. Transfer the scones to wire racks to cool.

Serve warm or at room temperature with lemon curd.

Lag B’Omer Carob Cake

Carob CakeThis Carob cake is very apropos for Lag B’Omer, but can be served any day of the year! It is especially good for those that want the flavour of a chocolate cake, without the chocolate. This cake will serve 9.

Ingredients:

½ cup margarine
⅔ cup honey
2 eggs
1 banana, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup water
1 cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup carob powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
icing sugar (to garnish)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees . Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan. Sift together the flour, carob powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and honey until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the banana and vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the water. Stir in chopped nuts (if using). Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool, then dust with icing sugar to decorate.

Mango Dessert Risotto

Mango RisottoThis rice dessert is great served warm or cooled, and can be made with flavours other than mango. Just swap out the diced mango and juice and substitute with peaches, or cherries or raspberries. The possibilities are endless and will most definitely impress! If you find that your fruit is not sweet enough, you can always add a bit a sugar. If it’s too sweet, you can cut it with a dash of lemon juice. This recipe will serve 6 for dessert.

Ingredients:

1 cup Arborio rice
3 cups water
3 cups mango nectar or juice
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups of fresh mango, diced
optional garnishes: toasted coconut, dried fruit, nuts or mint

Directions:

Heat water, mango nectar, nutmeg and cinnamon in a sauce pan to simmer. In another large saucepan, set on medium/high heat, measure out 1 cup Arborio rice and add one cup of the hot water/mango mixture, stirring constantly until all the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding the water/mango mixture one cup at a time until all the liquid is used and rice is tender. (If texture is too firm, add ½ cup additional water.) The rice should take about 25 minutes to cook, and still have some sauce left. Fold in the diced mango. Garnish with toasted coconut, nuts, dried fruit or mint.

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan PieThere is nothing like a good pecan pie! This southern classic gets a kick from the chocolate layer and the hit of bourbon! You can make this dessert dairy free by using margarine instead of butter, and alcohol free by omitting the bourbon. Make sure that you get a deep-dish style pie shell though, or else you might get some spill over! This recipe will serve 8.

Ingredients:

⅔ cup white sugar
1 cup corn syrup
2-4 tablespoons bourbon* (depending on taste)
3 eggs
⅓ cup melted butter/margarine
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups pecans (either halves or pieces)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (9 inch) refrigerated deep pie crust (brought to room temperature)

* Click here to see a list of kosher alcohols.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat the sugar, corn syrup, bourbon, eggs, butter/margarine, and salt together in a mixing bowl until smooth and creamy. Fold in the pecans. Line the bottom of your pie crust with the chocolate chips, then pour the pecan mixture into the pie crust. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. If desired, cover the edges of the pie with aluminum foil strips to prevent excessive browning. Bake in until the centre sets, about 60 minutes. Cool before serving.

Lemony Almond Macaroons

Lemony Almond MacaroonsAdmittedly, these are not Manischewitz macaroons, but I think you’ll forgive me. That, and those that don’t like the store bought kind, may in fact like these type instead! This recipe will make 30-35 macaroons and can be used as a base for other flavours. Just leave out the lemon and add cocoa for chocolate almond ones! The possibilities for the creative cook are endless!

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups shredded coconut flakes
1 ½ cups blanched skinless almond slivers
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 large egg whites
Pinch of salt

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. In this recipe, you can use either grated fresh coconut or dried coconut flakes. If using dried coconut, rehydrate it by pouring it into a bowl and covering it with warm water. Let the coconut soak for 5 minutes, then drain. Squeeze all the excess liquid out firmly with your fingers. Proceed with recipe. If using fresh coconut, no need to prep it– simply proceed with recipe.

Place almond slivers and coconut in a food processor, pulse into fine crumbs. Add the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, almond extract, vanilla, egg and salt to the food processor. Process for about 1 minute until the mixture becomes a sticky mixture of fine crumbles. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Place rounded tablespoonfuls of the coconut mixture onto the baking sheet, evenly spaced, forming the mounds into haystack-like shapes.

Place the macaroons in the oven and let them bake for 30-40 minutes, till the tops of the haystacks turn golden brown. Remove the macaroons from the oven and allow to cool directly on the baking sheet. Do not try to remove them before they’ll cool; when hot, they are delicate and prone to crumbling. They become firmer as they cool.

When cooled completely, gently pull them from the baking sheet. The bottoms should be golden brown. Store macaroons in a sealed, airtight plastic container. When fresh from the oven, the macaroons will be crisp on the outside, soft inside. They become softer over time when stored in a sealed container.

Orange Coconut Passover Torte

TorteThis dessert calls for the use of an Orange Liqueur. I suggest using the Sabra brand, as it is Kosher for Passover. Make sure and check that the bottle you have has the correct Passover symbol on it before using. This torte will serve 12.

Ingredients:

6 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 cup walnuts, chopped coarsely
2 cups unsweetened dried shredded coconut
½ cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup orange liqueur (such as Sabra Chocolate Orange Liqueur)
1 bittersweet chocolate square (to garnish)
or dust with icing sugar (make sure it is kosher for Passover)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with ½ cup sugar until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Without washing the beaters, beat the eggs yolk in a separate small bowl with the rest of the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the yolks to the whites but do not stir. Add the walnuts and gently fold the ingredients together. Do the same with the coconut, one cup at a time.

Pour the cake batter into a greased 9-inch spring form pan, and bake for 45 minutes until lightly brown on top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Mix together the orange juice and orange liqueur. Pour over the cake while it is still in the pan. When the cake has cooled, place it in the refrigerator until it is time to serve. Just before serving, garnish with bittersweet chocolate shavings. Store in the refrigerator.

Chocolate Toffee Matzo Crunch

Chocolate Toffee Matzo CrunchThese make a nice dessert, or “something” to serve with afternoon tea. As to how much the recipe makes, well, enough for a family of five, but it all depends on how small you break up the pieces. Here’s a tip: If you’re finding it hard to spread the toffee or chocolate out smoothly, coat your spatula in a little oil or melted butter/margarine. This will allow you to apply a bit of pressure while you spread without the toffee or chocolate sticking to the spatula.

Ingredients:

4-6 matzos
1 cup unsalted butter or margarine (butter recommended)
1 cup brown sugar
1 ¼ cups chopped semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (use dairy free chocolate for pareve/vegan)
2 tablespoons chopped pecans (or your favourite Passover-friendly nut – optional)
Sea salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet tray with a layer of foil, then cover the foil with a sheet of parchment. Evenly cover the sheet tray with matzos. Break or cut the matzos into smaller pieces if necessary.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the butter/margarine, brown sugar, and a generous pinch of sea salt. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil (about 2 to 4 minutes). Boil for 3 additional minutes and continue stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and pour the toffee mixture over the matzos. Use a spatula to spread evenly across the entire surface of the matzo. Make sure you spread it out fairly quickly or it will start to get sticky and become harder to smooth over.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes. Check frequently to be sure that the mixture is not burning. If it appears to browning too quickly, remove the tray from the oven and reduce the heat to 325 degrees, then replace the tray when the temperature drops a bit.

Once 15 minutes have passed, remove the matzos from the oven and evenly sprinkle the chopped chocolate chips over the top. Let stand for 5 minutes, then spread the melted chocolate over the matzo. Sprinkle the chopped pecans and a light sprinkle of sea salt over the top of the melted chocolate. While the matzos are still warm, break them into smaller squares or pieces. You can use a knife to break them up, but I like the rustic look of the “natural break”. Place in the freezer until the topping has set. Serve straight from the freezer, chilled, or at room temperature.

Matzo Baklava

Matzo BaklavaThis dessert just gets better with time. I would always plan on serving it the next day, or even the day after that, as the longer it sits, the longer the matzo has a chance to soak up the sweet lemony syrup. This recipe will make 9 to 16 squares (depends how small you slice it).

Ingredients:

6 sheets matzo

For syrup:
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey

For assembly:
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup shelled raw unsalted natural pistachios, chopped
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted margarine or butter, melted

Directions:

Briefly pass each sheet of matzo under cold running water until wet on all sides. Layer sheets between damp paper towels and let stand until somewhat pliable but not soggy or falling apart, about 2 hours. While matzo is softening, make syrup.

In small saucepan over moderately high heat, stir together the water and sugar. Bring to boil, then lower heat to moderate and cook, uncovered, until syrupy and thick, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and honey and simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool, then chill until ready to use.

To Assemble the Dessert:

Preheat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir together walnuts, pistachios, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom. Separate out ⅙ of nut mixture and reserve for topping cooked baklava.

Transfer 1 sheet of the prepared matzo to the counter. Press a rolling pin once over the sheet from one end to other to flatten. Rotate 90 degrees and repeat. Using a pastry brush, grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square pan with the melted butter/margarine. Lay one sheet of flattened matzo on the bottom of the pan, and then spread with more melted butter/margarine. Sprinkle the matzo with ⅕ of unreserved nut mixture. Roll out second sheet of matzo and transfer to pan. Brush with margarine and sprinkle with nut mixture. Repeat with remaining matzo sheets and remaining nut mixture, ending with matzo sheet brushed with margarine on top.

Bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Keeping the baklava in the pan, place the pan on a cooling rack so that it can cool all around, and immediately pour the chilled syrup over. It may seem like a lot of syrup, but the matzo will absorb it all. Sprinkle with reserved nut mixture. Let cool, then cover and let stand at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. (Do not chill.) Cut into small squares or diamonds and serve.