Istrian Cake with Almonds and Curd

Although Istria is most famous for its delicious seafood, fish, olive oil and wine, it has a few dessert gems. This Istrian Cake is one of those gems, made from favorite Istrian ingredients such as almonds, lemons and curd. Moist and super tasty traditional cake that you can try in your own kitchen and get a little bit of taste of Croatia 🙂

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Istrian cake with almonds and curd - Istrian region

In addition to the original recipe, after I finished the cake and chilled it, I smeared it with apricot jam and sprinkled with almond shavings. If you cannot get a hold of fresh curd, ricotta would make a perfect substitute.

Tools you need

  • Mixing bowls. Before you can put the ingredients into the round baking pan, you need to mix them somewhere. Mixing bowls to the rescue! Make sure bowls you use are adequately sized. There are few things worse than overflowing bowls.
  • Round baking pan to make your cake look perfectly round 😀
  • Measuring spoons to, you know, measure things with them
  • Kitchen scale because baking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things; alternatively, you can use cups, in which case…
  • Measuring cups. Sometimes when you buy measuring cups, measuring spoons come with them
  • Spatula makes mixing things into other things easier
  • Electric mixer for ultimate combining of your ingredients
  • Zester to zest lemon zest (is there a way to use zest in that sentence again?)
  • Lemon squeezer. You could just use your hands to squeeze lemons if you want to get your hands juicy. Or you could use a lemon squeezer to keep your germs and lemon pits out of the cake. And possibly look fancy while doing it.
  • Kitchen mittens. Things get hot in the oven. ‘Nuff said.

Ingredients

  • 250 g (2 cups) curd
  • 250 g (2¾ cups) ground almonds
  • 200 g (14 tbsp) unsalted butter
  • 4 tbsp pastry flour
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 6 eggs separated
  • 250 g (1¾ cups) brown sugar
  • 10 g (4 tsp) vanilla sugar
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • zest of four lemons

Preparation

  1. Combine almonds with ⅓ of sugar, flour and lemon zest and set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat with electric mixer, butter with remaining sugar until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Add egg yolks to butter and sugar mixture.
  4. With spatula in a separate bowl combine curd with lemon juice and honey and mix in to the butter/sugar mixture.
  5. Add almond mixture to curd and butter mixture.
  6. Beat egg whites until stiff and gently stir in with spatula into the rest of the mixture.
  7. Pour the batter into the greased round baking pan.
  8. Bake at 150 °C (300 °F) for 40 min or until the crust gets golden.
  9. After the cake cools completely, smear the apricot jam on top and sprinkle with almond shavings if you wish.
Istrian cake with almonds and curd

Serve chilled 😀

What is your favorite almond cake?

Food in the Time of Self Isolation

In these unprecedented times when we want or need to stay at home as much as possible and avoid unnecessary exposure to potential disease, our food habits have changed.

I see more and more people preparing their own dishes, looking for cooking inspiration all around them.

My foodie friend Joy Gordon came up with an idea to gather some of our foodie friends and make a magazine full of pantry staple recipes and help you all make delicious dishes with everyday pantry ingredients.

We made a FREE Magazine May edition – recipe compilation of pantry staple dishes to help you spice up your everyday cooking experience.

Recipes in this issue

Photo by Allie on Unsplash

In order of appearance

Homemade Bread
by Jasmina Brozovic

Fried Masala Eggs
by Indrani Sen

Breakfast Burritos
by Joy Stewart

Beef Stew with Polenta
by Jasmina Brozovic

Lobia Stew
by Balvinder Ubi

Baked Chicken with Vegetables
by Indrani Sen

Vegetable Egg Foo Yung
by Joy Stewart

Paneer Pulao
by Indrani Sen

Chickpeas Two Ways
by Renu Agrawal Dongre & Joy Stewart

Butternut Squash Halwa
by Balvinder Ubi

Contributors

At a different time we also collaborated on a book Foodies+ Christmas Recipes from Around the World with all proceeds going to Action Against Hunger but this Magazine is completely free of charge in an effort to help as many people as possible so please share with people who might find it useful using the share buttons on the site.

What are some of your favorite pantry recipes?

Bučnica: Croatian cheese and pumpkin strudel

This tasty and healthy dish is very popular in continental Croatia.
I have always made it with store-bought phyllo dough, but it just doesn’t taste the same as the one made with homemade pulled dough.
I never tried making the dough myself as it seemed very hard and demanding. Until now.

My mother-in-law visited us for Easter.
I succumbed to peer pressure and “gentle encouragement” and decided to give it a try with her mentorship. Bučnica turned out very delicious, and I was so proud 🙂

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Armed with this new experience, I have to practice some more to get a better grip of it 😀
The adventurous ones among you can try the craft of making homemade dough, and you will definitely be rewarded with an authentic taste, provided you don’t mess it up 😛

How this post works

We’ll split it into the part for the adventurous and part for the impatient.

If you are adventurous…

…follow instructions under Homemade pulled dough.

If you’re impatient…

…just use 500 g of store-bought phyllo pastry sheets (12-15 sheets) and skip to filling.

Which will it be? Tan-tan-tan!

Tools you need

  • Baking pan so you can twist your bučnica to perfection 😉
  • Mixing bowls. Perfect thing to make your Bučnica filling in (and the homemade dough if you dare to make it 😉 )
  • Measuring spoons to, you know, measure things with them.
  • Measuring cups to, you know, same.
  • Kitchen scale because baking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things
  • Peeler to peel the pumpkin. Doh.
  • Liquid measure cup helps you measure liquid ingredients easier, like water and oil.
  • Grater because it’s one letter away from being great, and you also need it to grate the pumpkin.
  • Kitchen mittens. Things get hot in the oven. ‘Nuff said.
  • Kitchen towels to cover your dough while it’s resting.

Homemade pulled dough

Ingredients

  • 500 g (3 3/4 cups) all purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 5 tbsp oil
  • 300 ml (1 1/5 cup) of lukewarm water
  • some oil for coating dough

Preparation

This is for the adventurous. Proceed at your own risk. 😉

We won’t be using any machines. This is a manual process, so roll up your sleeves. You’ll use your hands and your senses. This can be an almost meditative experience. Or so I’m told…

  • Put flour, salt, egg and oil into a bowl.
  • Start kneading with your hand and gradually add water.
  • Continue kneading until the dough doesn’t stick to the bowl and the consistency is as soft as an earlobe. Secret tip from my mother-in-law’s book.

It sounds simple. It is simple. It needs feeling.

After you knead the dough, let it rest for half an hour covered with kitchen towel. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.

To pull the dough properly, you need a large area, like a dinning table or a kitchen island. Use a clean sheet to pull the dough on.

Pulling the dough is an art in itself. Like kneading, it requires feeling and finesse. Pull it gently with your hands. Be extra careful not to create holes. Sounds simple. Is simple. Requires finesse.

After you pull the dough, sprinkle it with oil and then oil the edges.

Spread the filling like in the photo above.

Roll the dough by lifting the sheet the dough is on and let the dough roll over itself. You might need to help it with your hands if it doesn’t start rolling on its own. Don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense right now, you’ll know it when you see it. And don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect, it’s not supposed to.

Twist the snake-shaped roll into a greased baking pan to fill it tightly, like in the image below.

Coat with oil and it’s ready for the oven!

Filling

  • 1 small grated pumpkin or zucchini (about 500 g)
  • 500 g (2 cups) cottage cheese or tofu
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 250 g (2 cups) sour cream (soy for vegans)
  • oil or a little melted butter to coat pastry sheets

Bučnica can be salty and sweet, depending on whether you add salt or sugar in your filling. You can use any type of pumpkin you like. For vegetarian variant, instead of cottage cheese, use fresh tofu.

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 200 °C (390 °F).
  2. Grate the pumpkin, lightly salt and leave it for 20 min to let the water out. Drain the pumpkin with hands to displace the remaining water.
  3. Drained pumpkin mix with other ingredients. Add sugar or salt, depending on whether you like it sweet or savory (I like the savory one!)

Rolling the store-bought phyllo dough

If you’re the adventurous type, skip this part and follow the steps for the adventurous under Homemade pulled dough above.

  1. Count the sheets. Divide into 3 or 4 equal batches.
  2. Spread one sheet and sprinkle it with melted butter or oil, place another sheet on it, also sprinkle with butter or oil, coat one part with the filling and fold into a roll. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling.
  3. You will get 3 or 4 rolls, depending on the pastry package size. My grandma used to make two sweet and two savory rolls by dividing the filling and adding sugar in one and salt in another part 🙂
  4. Place the rolls on the baking sheet previously smeared with oil or butter. Coat the rolls with melted butter or oil.

Now that the dough is rolled and resting in the baking sheet

  1. Bake about 30 minutes or until the surface is slightly brown.

If you’d like to make a proper sweet pumpkin strudel, replace the sour cream with the sweet cream, add vanilla sugar, and dust it with powdered sugar when it’s baked.
Serve the savory one hot with plain yogurt.

Have fun with exploring savory and sweet Bučnica 😀

I am really interested in your stories. Let me know how it went for you and did you make the adventurous or impatient variant. Sweet or savory?

Pinca – Croatian Easter bread

Happy Easter! Have a peaceful and blessed Easter Sunday 🙂

Pinca, also called Sirnica, is a traditional Croatian Easter sweet bread.
It is a rich yeast dough, made with a lot of butter (sometimes lard) and eggs, flavored with citrus zest, candied and/or dried fruit, rum or rosewater.
To make the dough into Pinca, you shape it into a round loaf, cut the characteristic cross with kitchen scissors and brush with egg wash before baking.

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In the past, Pinca was the pride of almost every household, each having their own family recipe. It was traditionally kneaded on Easter Eve and baked on Easter morning.
Today, along with French Salad, it still often finds its way to the Easter breakfast table.

Jump to recipe

Pinca - Croatian Easter bread

A while back, when Google+ was still very alive and kicking, we made many great friends there and had tons of fun! We did live cooking hangouts, wrote a book together and much more. One Easter the members of Foodies+ Group, us included, obviously, were making Pinca.
Since Google+ sunset, group moved to Facebook, so come aboard!

My Foodies+ friends, not only made wonderful Croatian Easter Bread, but they became ambassadors of Croatian culinary customs around the world!

You can see photos of all of their pincas at the end of the post!

A HUGE thank you for making that Easter special to:

  • Azlin Bloor, based in UK, but with versatile heritage and cooking experience makes her one of a kind. Check her amazing food collection on her site LinsFood.
  • Mirella Kaloglou shares many food tips on her site Little Cooking Tips. Check her great insight on Greek gastronomy!
  • Balvinder Ubi, my fellow Canadian, has a wonderful gluten free recipes blog Simple Gluten Free Kitchen, Indian style.
  • Rita Dolce, currently living in Spain, but with Middle Eastern background, has many sweet things to share with you on her site Dolce Rita 😉
  • Shana Shameer, Asian cooking expert, shares her knowledge on Asian cuisine on her site Recipes are Simple.
  • Indrani Sen, living in India, a cook, a techy and a traveler, shares her amazing food, tech and travel experience on her site Indrani’s recipes cooking and travel blog.
  • Joy Stewart, living in USA, married into a Peruvian family, shares many interesting South and North American dishes on her site The Joyous Kitchen.
  • Kanak Hagjer blends Indian flavors in her delicious Indian dishes on her site Blending Flavours.

Tools

  • Kitchen scissors to make that final touch, the characteristic cross on the top 😉
  • Pastry brush helps you finalize your Easter Bread by applying the whisked egg on it.
  • Mixing bowls. To combine all the ingredients together, you need to mix them somewhere. Mixing bowls to the rescue! Make sure bowls you use are adequately sized. There are few things worse than overflowing bowls.
  • Kitchen scale because baking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things; alternatively, you can use cups, in which case…
  • Measuring cups. Sometimes when you buy measuring cups, measuring spoons come with them
  • Measuring spoons to, you know, measure things with them.
  • Whisk to whisk the eggs.
  • Kitchen mittens. Things get hot in the oven. ‘Nuff said.
  • Parchment paper. Although not really a tool per se, it’s used in preparation of Pincas, so you should be aware of it when preparing to make it.
  • Baking sheet to put all your little breads on.
  • Kitchen towels that you can get in many colors, as dough rises better under the towel, towel keeps the conditions moderate 😀

Ingredients for the dough

Makes 5 small Pincas

  • 750 g (7 cups) all purpose flour
  • 2 sachets (14 g, 1½ tbsp) dry yeast
  • 170 g (14 tbsp or 0.875 cups but good luck measuring that) sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 sachet vanilla sugar (10 g, 2½ tsp)
  • 75 g (1/3 cup) unsalted butter
  • 75 g (1/3 cup) lard (it can be substituted with butter)
  • 150 ml (2/3 cup) warm milk
  • 80 g (2/3 cup) sour cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 40 ml (3 tbsp) rum
  • 40 g (1/4 cup) raisins
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) mixed candied fruit
  • finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • finely grated zest of ½ lemon

Ingredients for the egg wash

  • 1 whisked egg
  • sugar to taste

Preparation

  1. Soak raisins in rum.
  2. Sift flour into a bowl. Add salt, sugar and vanilla sugar.
  3. Dissolve yeast in warm milk and add to the flour mixture. Add eggs, yolk, sour cream and citrus zest. Then add candied fruit and raisins together with rum. Knead until soft dough forms. Make sure to knead it for about 10 minutes. Cover with clean kitchen towel and let rise in warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
  4. Punch the dough and knead it again, adding melted and cooled butter and lard. Cover with clean kitchen towel and let rise in warm place until again doubled in size.
  5. Shape the dough into 5 round loafs and place them onto baking sheet covered with parchment paper.  Let them rest for 30 minutes. Using kitchen scissors, cut a cross into the surface of each bun. Brush the surface with whisked egg and let stand for 10 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 180 °C (355 °F).
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes. While still hot, brush again with whisked egg and sprinkle with sugar.

Pincas from around the world

What does your Pinca look like?

French Salad

Do not let the title fool you – this fine salad has absolutely nothing to do with France. The secret lies in the fact that the French salad is called Russian salad (salade russe) in France. If you look around in their culinary dictionary under that name, you will find recipes that have approximately the same ingredients as French salad Croatians make. Now let see what the Russians have to say about it…

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For Russians, this salad has – you guessed it – a different name. It’s called “Salad Olivier“, named after the chef who created it in the 1860s. Lucien Olivier was a chef at the renowned restaurant, “Hermitage”, in Moscow. Shortly after Lucien created it, this salad has become the most recognizable restaurant dish. Its recipe was a strictly guarded treasure, and even to this day we do not know how this popular appetizer was really done. What we do know is that it contained veal tongue, caviar, lettuce, pieces of lobster, capers, small cucumbers, hard-boiled eggs and soy beans.

At the turn of the 19th/20th century, one of Olivier’s assistant chefs tried to get a hold of the recipe. At one occasion while the chef was gone, Ivan Ivanov, his assistant chef, took some of the dressing and realized what was the secret recipe made of​​. After that, he went to work in the competitive restaurant “Moscow”, where he served a surprisingly similar salad. After that, Ivan has even sold the recipe to some publishers and salad began to gain popularity. The result of its popularization was a change of ingredients – everything that was seasonal or expensive was replaced by more affordable ingredients and little by little, the “French” salad as we know it today came into existence.

This version was obligatory dish at ceremonies in Soviet Russia (especially on New Year’s celebrations) because all required ingredients were available in the middle of winter. In addition to Russia, it is a common guest on tables in Iran (where they add chicken bits) and in Spain and Portugal.

Tools you need

  • Mixing bowls to mix the ingredients in 😀
  • Large pot to boil the peas and the carrots in, and a…
  • Small pot to boil the eggs in.
  • Chef’s knife comes in handy for cutting eggs and pickles.
  • Cutting board also comes in handy for cutting the ingredients mentioned above
  • Measuring spoons because it’s meal preparation, and being precise pays dividends.
  • Measuring cup. See previous point.
  • Kitchen scale because cooking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things.

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of frozen peas and carrots mix (approx. ½ kg)
  • 400 g (2 cups) mayonnaise
  • 1 small jar of dill pickles (or smaller)
  • 5 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of mustard
  • 3 tablespoons of sour cream (maybe a bit more, to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Hard boil eggs.
  2. Separately boil the carrots and peas in salted water. When cooked, strain and set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the hard boiled eggs and dill pickles into cubes, preferably of the same size as peas, and mix together in a bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together sour cream, mustard, and a tablespoon of mayonnaise.
  5. Mix in with the vegetables and eggs, then add what’s left of the mayonnaise and mix until combined.

If you want a french salad with the twist, you can add couple of boiled potatoes and an apple of your choice (both cut into cubes)!

Chill before serving, preferably over night.

What other dishes with interesting history do you know?

Homemade Bread

For as long as we know, people made their own bread. In this day and age we are used to getting bread quickly and conveniently, in stores, bakeries and markets. There’s even a saying “The best thing since sliced bread”, which only puts an emphasis to the convenience we’re used to. Convenience of not only not having to bake our own bread, but also not even having to cut it. We buy it pre-cut, with slices’ thickness adjusted to our own personal taste.

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Unfortunately, as I am writing this, in March, 2020, there is a virus spreading around the world exponentially infecting everybody. Governments are waking up to the facts and a lot of people are “social distancing” and may decide not to obtain bread by usual means.

Now that the stage is set and the prelude is coming to a close, our hero, you, decides to take things in to their own hands and bake bread of their own. This breadless life will be no more.

No worries, our hero is not alone, there are helpful forcing guiding them, in the form of this post, and they can make it on their own, share the recipe with friends, and enjoy freshly made bread any day of the week.

This recipe is so simple and easy, and the bread is soft and moist! Get on a video call with your friends and social distance is no more.

Tools

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups (400 g) of all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (350 ml) of water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dry yeast

Preparation

  • In a large bowl, mix all ingredients with the spoon, do not use electric mixer.
  • Cover with a cloth and leave it to rise at least 4 hours, preferably over night.
  • Put the dough on a flour surface and form a ball
  • Heat the oven to maximum temp, my oven was at 270 °C (525 °F), and heat the Cast Iron pot in the oven, in which you are going to bake bread. The pot needs to have a lid and it must endure high temperatures.
  • place the dough on a parchment paper in a hot pot and bake covered for 30 minutes
  • after 30 minutes lower the temperature to 200 °C (390 °F), remove the lid and bake for another 10 minutes. This makes the crust nice and crunchy.

You can play with different flours as well, corn flour, rye flour etc.

How did this adventure go?
Have you ever baked bread before?
Tell us in the comments. We’d love to hear your experience.

Black Guinness Cake with Cream Cheese Froth

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, I thought I’d share this amazing cake with you! Did you ever try using beer as an ingredient in a cake before?! Done right it tastes amazing, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate this saint than with a beer in one hand and having a slice of beer cake in another (probably on a fork, but really depends on how many other beers you had before) 😀

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Black Guinness Cake with the side of a beer

Tools you need

Springform pan. Perfect shape for your cake in the making.
Chef’s knife. Butter melts faster when cut in pieces 🙂
Whisk for whisking things, as the name implies.
Saucepan for saucing pans heating up beer and butter.
Before you can put the ingredients into the pan, you need to mix them somewhere, mixing bowls to the rescue! Make sure bowls you use are adequately sized. There are few things worse than overflowing bowls.
Measuring spoons to, you know, measure things with them.
Measuring cups to measure larger quantities of things than with measuring spoons. (Who comes up with these descriptions?)
Kitchen scale because baking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things.
Spatula to put the froth on the cake and make the whole thing actually look like beer. Important stuff here.
Electric mixer. Mixing is great and all, but doing it by hand can get exhausting. Sometimes you can outsource that work to a family member. Other times you need a bit more power.
Kitchen mittens. Things get hot in the oven. ‘Nuff said.
Round serving tray. You can serve a cake on anything, even eat it straight from the pan. It’s round, though, so it’s gonna look best on a round serving tray and there’s plenty to choose from.
Cake stand is a fancier way to display your cake than the serving tray.

Ingredients

Makes 12 slices

For the cake:

  • 250 ml (1 cup) Guinness beer
  • 250 g (1 ⅛ cups) unsalted butter
  • 75 g (¾ cup) cocoa powder
  • 400 g (2 cups) sugar
  • 142 ml (½ cup & 2 tbsp) sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 275 g (2 ¼ cups) all purpose flour
  • 2 ½ tsp baking soda

For the topping:

  • 300 g (1 ⅕ cups) cream cheese
  • 150 g (1 ½ cup) icing sugar
  • 125 ml (½ cup) whipping cream

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F)
  2. Oil or butter a 23 cm springform pan, dust with flour and set aside.
  3. Pour the Guinness beer into a large wide saucepan, add the sliced butter and heat until the butter is melted, at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar.
  4. With electric mixer beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the brown, buttery, beery pan and finally whisk in the flour and baking soda.
  5. Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack.
  6. When the cake’s cold, place it on a serving tray or a cake stand and start the icing.
  7. Using electric mixer lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, add the icing sugar and then beat them both together until combined.
  8. Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency.
  9. Spread the cream with the spatula on the black cake so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous Irish pint.
slice of Black Guinness Cake with the side of a beer

How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?
What are you favorite St. Patrick’s Day dishes?

Blueberry Cheesecake

If you like cheesecake and you like blueberries, you’re going to love this cake.
I feel like all the berries go very well with the cheesecake, but my all time favorite are blueberries 🙂

If you’re used to making cheesecakes, you’re in for a treat. This one comes with a twist. Read on to find out 😉

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Slice of Blueberry Cheesecake

Tools you need

  • Round Baking Pan – perfect shape for your cheesecake in the making
  • Rolling Pin – best tool to crush the cookies 😀
  • Mixing bowls. Before you can put the ingredients into the pan, you need to mix them somewhere. Mixing bowls to the rescue!
    Make sure bowls you use are adequately sized. There are few things worse than overflowing bowls.
  • Measuring spoons to, you know, measure things with them
  • Measuring cups. Sometimes when you buy measuring cups, measuring spoons come with them
  • Lemon squeezer still worth if even for a single tablespoon!
  • Kitchen scale because baking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things
  • Spatula makes mixing things into other things easier
  • Electric mixer. Mixing is great and all, but doing it by hand can get exhausting. Sometimes you can outsource that work to a family member. Other times you need a bit more power.
  • Kitchen mittens. Things get hot in the oven. ‘Nuff said.

Ingredients

Unlike other cheesecakes, this one has cottage cheese instead of the cream cheese. It’s less fatty and has more protein. Since fat has more calories than protein for the same weight, this cake will give you fewer calories. You can use cream cheese as well, but it will be greasier, and it won’t add much to the flavor. As a part of Croatian gastronomy heritage, cottage cheese is used in may desserts.

Try this healthier version for maximum indulgence!

For the bottom

For the cream

  • 350 g (2 cups) cottage cheese
  • 2 eggs, divided
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 180 g (7/8 cups) sugar
  • 10 g (0.8 tbsp) vanilla sugar
  • 125 g (1.4 cups) fresh blueberries

For the glaze

  • 200 g (0.8 cups) sour cream with 20% milk fat
  • 60 g (0.4 cups) sugar
  • 10 g (0.8 tbsp) vanilla sugar
  • 125 g (1.4 cups) fresh blueberries

Preparation

Crush the cookies in a zip bag. Melt the butter. Mix the two well.
Put the cookie mixture on the bottom of the round baking pan. Put in the refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 180 °C (356 °F).

For the cream, mix egg yolks with both sugars and lemon juice with electric mixer on high speed for about 15 minutes.
Separately mix egg whites until stiff.
In the egg yolks mixture add cottage cheese, mix well, then add stiff egg whites and mix everything until blended. Add half of the blueberries and mix them in with spatula.

Put the cream on the cookie surface and bake the cake for about 25-30 min.

For the glaze mix all the ingredients and add the rest of the blueberries.

When the cake is done, pour over the glaze and bake for another 10 min on the same heat.

Cheesecake is best served cooled over night in the refrigerator.

You can serve the cake with vanilla icing and some fresh blueberries!

Top down photo of one slice of blueberry cheesecake

What is your favorite fruit with the cheesecake?

Croatian Christmas Bundt Cake (Božićni Kuglof)

This cake is perfect for any Sunday family dinner. Although usually made during the Holiday season no one is going to complain if they have a bite or two in the off season. The addition of the apple makes this bundt cake a bit better than the others. Unless you’re a weirdo who’s into dry bundt cakes.

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The combination of nuts and dried fruits I use in this recipe works very well to create a balanced flavor and texture. It received five star rating across the board with all the testers who got to sample it.

Croatian Christmas Bundt Cake cross cut so inside and outside of the cake is visible
Inspiration to get your mouth watery

Traditional Croatian recipe (the way grandma used to make it) has raisins (but who really likes raisins? Zvonimir raises hand, alone.) and arancini. Arancini denominates two different foods, one is what you easily find when you Google it, the other one is what I actually mean here. A dried orange peel covered in sugar, traditional Croatian dessert from the coastal region. Why can’t they just pick an original name? Sigh…

As fun as it would be to rant about language and baking history, you’re here to get your hands dusted into sweet, sweet…

Tools you need

  • Bundt cake pan because you’re making a bundt cake and, well, that’s what you make bundt cakes in 🙂
  • Mixing bowls. Before you can put the ingredients into the bundt cake pan, you need to mix them somewhere. Mixing bowls to the rescue!
    Make sure bowls you use are adequately sized. There are few things worse than overflowing bowls.
  • Measuring spoons to, you know, measure things with them
  • Kitchen scale because baking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things
  • Peeler to peel the apple
  • Grater because it’s one letter away from being great, and you also need it to grate the apple
  • Spatula makes mixing things into other things easier
  • Electric mixer. Mixing is great and all, but doing it by hand can get exhausting. Sometimes you can outsource that work to a family member. Other times you need a bit more power.
  • Kitchen mittens. Things get hot in the oven. ‘Nuff said.

Ingredients

Servings: 6 people

  • 2 tablespoons rum
  • 50 g dried cranberries
  • 50 g thinly sliced almonds
  • 50 g coarsely cut walnuts
  • 1 peeled, grated apple
  • 150 g brown sugar
  • 1 package (9 g) vanilla sugar
  • 110 g all purpose flour (unbleached)
  • 50 g cornstarch
  • 1 package (14 g) baking powder
  • 90 g melted unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • powdered sugar for coating
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 °C (340 °F)
  2. Soak dried cranberries in rum until soft
  3. Mix flour and cornstarch with baking flour and spices (nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and cloves)
  4. In a separate bowl mix eggs with both sugars until foamy
  5. Into eggs and sugar mixture mix in with spatula
    • Dried cranberries with rum
    • Apple
    • Almonds
    • Walnuts
    • Flower mixture and melted butter at the end
  6. Mix well until compact
  7. Oil or butter bundt pan and dust with flour
  8. Bake for 45 min until golden brown. Pro tip: pick with a toothpick and if nothing sticks, you’re golden.
  9. Leave the cake in the pan until it cools
  10. Take the cake out of the bundt pan and dust it with powdered sugar

Wrapping up

If you’re the adventure type who likes to stray from a beaten path, test it with any other nuts or dried fruit as you desire or have available in your pantry.

Let me know in the comments which combinations worked well for you and share this on social media.

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

When I want to make a dessert from the ingredients I have at home I love to experiment. I find my inspiration online, but I always add a pinch of me in the recipe 🙂 In this recipe I added maple syrup, almond flakes and coconut shavings!

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Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Tools you need

  • Measuring spoons to, you know, measure things with them
  • Kitchen scale because baking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things
  • Measuring cups to, as well, measure things with them
  • Good food processor will make this dessert creamier and more delicious
  • Serving wine glasses are perfect for desserts in a glass, look very professional 😀
  • Melting chocolate is a quick and easy job for a microwave
  • Microwave bowls because we don’t want to melt the bowl, just the chocolate 😉

I was a bit skeptical about making a dessert with avocados, but it turned out to be very moist and creamy and the taste of chocolate was dominating. Raspberries give it a bit of freshness and almond flakes a bit of crunchiness. The whole deal is a perfect combination. Any berry and nut combination should be good.

Zvonimir really liked it the first time, so I decided to make it again for our friends when they came to dinner.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did 😀

Ingredients

Servings: 4 people

  • 200 g semisweet chocolate or chocolate chips (at least 60% dark)
  • 4 large, ripe avocados
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 teaspoons maple syrup

For serving: fresh raspberries, almond flakes and coconut shavings.

Preparation:

  1. Melt the chocolate in microwave in 15-second bursts, stirring between each until the chocolate is completely melted. Stir until smooth. Set aside and let cool until just barely warm.
  2. Halve and pit the avocados, place them in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the melted chocolate, cocoa powder, almond milk, vanilla extract, salt and maple syrup.
  3. Blend until very smooth and creamy

Serve in glasses along with raspberries, almond flakes and coconut shavings.
You can eat them immediately or keep them in refrigerator for a couple of hours to get thicker consistency.

Which other fruit-nut combination would you try with this?