Poppy Seed Squares

Many European countries use poppy seeds in desserts. I use it often because of its specific flavor that I really enjoy. Did you know that poppy seeds are rich source of thiamine, folate, and several essential minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc?

For this gluten free cake, you will need little time to prepare and even less to indulge 😀 Choice of jam is up to you. I used homemade sour cherry jam since sweet and sour complement each other creating a divine taste 🙂

Poppy seed squares

Ingredients

  • 7 eggs divided
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 140 g (10 tbsp) butter at room temperature
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 200 g (1 1/4 cup) ground poppy seeds
  • zest of one lemon
  • jam of your choice (I used sour cherry jam and it was perfect!)
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) dark chocolate
  • 100 ml (1/4 cup) whipped cream

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 200 °C (390 °F).
  2. Divide eggs in two separate mixing bowls.
  3. Separately whip butter until foamy.
  4. Beat egg yolks with 6 tbsp of sugar until foamy.
  5. Add whipped butter to the egg yolk mixture and mix until combined.
  6. Combine poppy seeds with baking soda and lemon zest and add to the egg yolk mixture. Mix well.
  7. Mix egg whites with 6 tbsp of sugar until stiff.
  8. With a spatula add beaten egg whites to the batter.
  9. Bake in a baking pan covered with parchment paper for about 40 min until golden brown.
  10. Meanwhile, prepare the chocolate glaze. Heat the cream up to boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate broken in pieces. Mix until chocolate is incorporated.
  11. Spread your jam of choice on the baked cake and pour chocolate glaze on top.

Enjoy with your favorite cup of coffee or tea!

Have you ever tried a poppy seed dessert? What was your favorite?

Mixed Berries Pavlova

Australians and New Zealanders still argue over who invented this cake.

Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova toured Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. In her honor, they created this famous cake during or after one of her tours.

I guess we’ll never know who really made it first. We can just enjoy the cake 😀

I used mixed berries for this Pavlova. Berries have that sourness and freshness that goes perfectly with sweet meringue. You can use any fruit instead.

Since you only need egg whites for this cake, you can use the yolks to prepare soft and crumbly jam cookies.

Ingredients

For the crust

  • 4 egg whites
  • 200 g (1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp vinegar (I used apple cider)

For the cream

  • 600 ml (2 1/2 cup) heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 300 to 400 g ( 2 to 2 1/2 cups) mixed berries

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 140 °C (285 °F).
  2. On baking paper, draw a circle 18 cm in diameter.
  3. Mix the egg whites until you get a very stiff mixture and little by little add sugar, vanilla and vinegar, and mix until the mixture is firm.
  4. Pour the mixture onto the drawn circle, straighten a little and dry for 60 minutes at 140 °C.
  5. After 60 minutes, turn off the oven and leave the crust in to dry a bit more.
  6. Take it out and leave it for a few hours to dry.
  7. Remove it carefully from the baking paper.
  8. Beat the heavy cream with one tablespoon of sugar and spread over the baked meringue.
  9. Decorate with fruit of your choice and place in the refrigerator to cool well.

What is your favorite fruit to use on the Pavlova cake?

Marble Cake

The first print references to marble cake began appearing in the last quarter of the 19th century. One popular variation of this recipe during Victorian times was “Harlequin cake”, which was baked with checker-board patterns. Early recipes use molasses and spices to achieve the dark-colored batter.

Today, we use cocoa and it tastes like a having a piece of chocolate with your sponge cake 😀

This, easy to make, simple cake is usually served around Easter, but I usually make it on the weekends when I don’t plan on baking but still crave something sweet, since all the ingredients are in my staple.

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs divided
  • 280 g (1 1/3 cups) granulated sugar
  • 20 g (1 1/2 tbsp) vanilla sugar
  • zest from one lemon
  • 120 g (1/2 cup) softened unsalted butter
  • 10 tbsp milk
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 280 g (2 1/2 cup) all purpose flour
  • 10 g (2 1/2 tsp) baking powder
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 2 tbsp rum (optional)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 200 °C (390 °F).
  2. Separate egg yolks form egg whites in two separate bowls.
  3. Mix in self standing mixer or with electric beater egg yolks and sugar until foamy.
  4. Add vanilla sugar, lemon zest and butter. Mix until combined.
  5. Add progressively milk and oil, and at the end alternately mix in flour mixed with baking powder.
  6. Beat egg whites until stiff.
  7. With spatula, mix in egg white mixture in the egg yolk mixture until combined.
  8. Divide prepared batter into two parts.
  9. In one part add cocoa and rum.
  10. Greased pan sprinkle with bread crumbs, pour the yellow batter and then the brown batter.
  11. Bake the cake in preheated oven at 200 °C (390 °F) for 20 min and another 30 min on 150 °C (300 °F) until golden brown.
  12. After the cake is done, cool it off on the rack.
  13. Before serving sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Do you have your go to cake when craving something sweet?

Fig Tartelettes

In Croatia, getting fresh produce was easy and accessible. Many of our friends and acquaintances had their own gardens and orchards sharing their produce. I got some fresh figs from Dalmatia as a gift and they ended up in tartelettes 🙂
They were as sweet as honey, and as smooth as butter. Enjoy this easy to make tartelettes recipe and try it out with other fruits if you are not a fan of figs 😉

Ingredients (for 6 tartelettes)

For the shortcrust pastry

  • 220 g (2 cups) all purpose flour
  • 50 g (4 tbsp) granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 130 g (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the filling

  • 5-6 fresh ripe figs
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • oatmeal for sprinkle

Preparation

  1. With electric mixer, in a bowl, mix together flour, salt and sugar until combined.
  2. Add butter, and mix until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Gradually stream beaten egg into the flour mixture and knead until the dough comes together.
  4. Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface and shape into a flattened disk.
  5. Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for 25-30 minutes.
  6. While the dough rests in the fridge, prepare the filling.
  7. Mix figs with maple syrup with hand mixer until smooth.
  8. Preheat oven to 180 °C (355 °F).
  9. Butter a six mold muffin pan.
  10. Take the chilled dough, make six equal balls and put each in a muffin mold. Spread the dough in each mold with your hands. Make sure that you covered the whole mold.
  11. Divide the filling so that each tartelette has enough and sprinkle them with oatmeal.
  12. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.

This seasonal dessert pairs very well with Chicken Paprikash as main course.

Do you have access to fresh produce for your cooking creations?

Blackberry Oatmeal Squares

August screams blackberries! This summer fruit, full of dietary fiber, and vitamins C and K makes it a great choice for making desserts, jams and other sweet goodies.

These easy to make squares can make a quick, healthy, snack for any occasion. You can substitute regular flour and oats with gluten free options according to your preference. For the crunch feeling you may substitute ground walnuts with chopped ones. For that matter, use a nut of your liking. Walnuts are my favorite 🙂

Ingredients

  • 200 g (1 1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 120 g (1 1/2 cup) oats + handful for sprinkling
  • 220 g (1 cup) firmly packed brown sugar + 1 tbsp for sprinkling
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 30 g (1/3 cup) ground walnuts
  • 230 g (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 300 g (2 cup) fresh blackberries
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar for tossing the blackberries
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 180 °C (350 °F).
  2. Cover the baking pan with parchment paper. Spray with non-stick cooking spray or brush with oil.
  3. In a small bowl, toss blackberries with sugar and cornstarch. Set aside.
  4. In the standing mixer bowl combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, and walnuts. Mix until fully combined. You can use a hand electrical mixer we well.
  5. Add the softened butter and beat on low speed, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  6. Spoon half of the oatmeal mixture into the prepared pan. Gently press mixture into bottom of the pan.
  7. Top with the coated blackberries.
  8. Sprinkle with remaining oatmeal mixture. NOTE: do not press down on the mixture.
  9. Sprinkle with some oats and sugar.
  10. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown.
  11. Cool completely before slicing.

What else would you use blackberries for?

Strawberry Balsamic Tart with Mascarpone Cream

Strawberry season is at its peak and there is no better time to share this tart recipe with you. Since my birthday is at beginning of June, I always had strawberry birthday cake as long as I can remember. They bring beautiful memories of my childhood birthday parties and are for sure one of my favorite fruit. I love preparing desserts with them 😀

This simple and delightful tart is perfect for warm spring or summer days. Strawberries and balsamic are epic together, and the addition of fresh basil leaves takes this tart beyond the cake 😉

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Tools you need

  • Mixing bowls in different sizes for all three components: pastry, strawberries and mascarpone cream.
  • Chef’s knife comes handy for cutting the strawberries
  • Cutting board; also useful for cutting strawberries
  • Round tart pan. I recommend two piece pan for easy slicing
  • Measuring spoons because it’s baking, and measuring is the name of the game 😉
  • Measuring cup. See previous point.
  • Kitchen scale because baking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things.
  • Kitchen mittens. Things get hot in the oven. Burns hurt and take time to heal. You don’t want to take time off from baking, do you?
  • Whisk to beat the egg.
  • Electric mixer to mix the cream until smooth and fluffy!
  • Spatula for smearing the cream on the tart easily and beautiful.
  • Zester to zest the zest
  • Lemon squeezer to squeeze the… you guessed it, lemons.

Ingredients

For the shortcrust pastry

  • 220 g (2 cups) pastry flour
  • 50 g (4 tbsp) granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 130 g (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the balsamic strawberries

  • 800 g (5 cups) fresh strawberries, washed and halved
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 8 fresh basil leaves

For the mascarpone whipped cream

  • 300 g (1 cup) mascarpone cheese
  • 65 g (8 tbsp) powdered sugar
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 180 ml (12 tbsp) heavy whipping cream

Preparation

For the shortcrust pastry

  1. Preheat oven to 180 °C (355 °F).
  2. Butter a 26 cm round tart pan.
  3. In the bowl mix together flour, salt and sugar until combined.
  4. Add butter, and mix until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  5. Gradually stream beaten egg into the flour mixture and knead until the dough just comes together.
  6. Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface and shape into a flattened disk.
  7. Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for 25-30 minutes.
  8. Roll the chilled dough on a piece of lightly floured baking paper in a 30 cm circle.
  9. Transfer the rolled dough to your tart pan and press it into the bottom and sides of the pan. Cut off excess dough and prick the bottom with a fork.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
  11. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

For the balsamic strawberries

  1. Put the strawberries into a large bowl and add sugar and balsamic vinegar.
  2. Bruise basil leaves between your fingers to release the flavor and add to the bowl.
  3. Toss it all together.
  4. Leave it to marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes and then strain.

For the mascarpone whipped cream

  1. In the large bowl mix with electric mixer mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, lemon zest and juice and beat until creamy.
  2. Add heavy cream and beat on high until you get a fluffy filling.

Once cooled, fill the pastry with mascarpone whipped cream and decorate with marinated strawberries. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving or until needed.

Do you have special cake memories form your childhood?

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?

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?

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?