Baked Apples and Rosemary Mousse Cakes


In the last ten days I made 25 different kinds of Christmas cookies. You might expect that I got tired of making Christmas cookies but that is not the case. I am loving it and I also love sharing my cookies with others. On the weekend I visited a reception center and gave 250 of my homemade Christmas cookies to unaccompanied minor refugees. It was a very emotional moment meeting young teenagers from Afghanistan, Eritrea or Tunisia who fled to Europe by themselves. These young people are lonely, helpless, their future remains uncertain in a foreign country and many of them are traumatized from their long journey to Europe. In such a situation cookies do not help (at all) but I wanted to show these teenagers that they are welcome and that there are strangers that care about them.

I have a few Christmas cookie recipes that I made for these strong and brave teenagers and I want to sharethe recipes in the next few days. But today I want to share a cake recipe that I make every single year during the holiday season. It is a rosemary mousse cake with a baked apple purée and a shortcrust cookie bottom. I love the pairing of rosemary and apples and it is a wonderful change of the classic combination of apples and cinnamon. Ever since I made the recipe by the pâtissier Matthias Ludwigs for the first time a few years ago I make the rosemary mousse cakes at least three times every Christmas sesaon. 



Notes: There will be some leftover shortcrust dough. You can freeze the leftover dough. I usually use the leftover dough in order to make some simple Christmas cookies which I decorate with chocolate. 
You can also prepare the cakes ahead of time. The shortcrust cookies last up to two weeks in an airtight container and the rosemary mousse can be prepared a few days ahead of time. 
________

Makes 6 mousse cakes (6 cm Ø )

INGREDIENTS
Rosemary Mousse
2 g gelatin
100 ml milk (full-fat)
30 g granulated sugar
3 rosemary needles (roughly chopped)
20 g almond flour
1 egg white (30 g)
125 g heavy cream
Shortcrust Cookies
115 g unsalted butter (cut in cubes)
100 g powdered sugar
1 egg (medium)
250 g all-purpose flour
Baked Apples Purée
2 tart apples
70 g granulated sugar
1 small branch of rosemary
Equipment
Six hemisphere silicon moulds (6 cm Ø )
A good kitchen scale
________

DIRECTIONS
Rosemary Mousse
Mix gelatin with 1 tablespoon of cold water in a small saucepan. Let it stand for 10 minutes.
Combine milk, 10 g of granulated sugar, rosemary needles and almond flour in a small saucepan. Boil up the mixture and then set aside. Let the mixture infuse for 10 minutes (cover your saucepan while infusing).
Heat the gelatin gently and pour it over the rosemary milk mixture and stir well. Strain the rosemary milk through a fine strainer in order to remove the almond flour and rosemary needles.
Beat the egg white until almost stiff. Add gradually the remaining sugar (20 g) to the egg white and beat until stiff.
Whisk heavy cream until creamy.
Fold in egg white and whipped cream to the rosemary milk mixture.
Fill the rosemary mousse into hemisphere molds (6 cm Ø ). Freeze the mousse cakes for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Shortcrust Cookies
Mix butter and powdered sugar. Add the egg and mix until all ingredients are well combined. Add the flour and knead to a dough quickly. Wrap the dough into clingwrap and let the dough rest for 1 hour in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 180 °C.
On a floured surface or between two parchment papers roll out the dough until 2 to 3 mm thick. Cut our circles (6 cm Ø ). I use a wavy-shaped cookie cutter.
Transfer the cookies onto a baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes until the edges are slightly golden in color.
Baked Apples Purée
Peel and core apples; cut each apple into 8 wedges.
Caramelize sugar in a oven safe pan until it has a dark and amber color. Take the pan from the heat. Add the apple wedges to the caramelized sugar. Let it infuse for 2 minutes and then mix. Add the rosemary branch. Cover the pan with a lit or aluminium foil and cook the apples for 30 to 40 minutes or until the apples are very soft in the oven at 160 °C. Remove the rosemary branch and let the apples cool. Purée apples. 
Assembling
Generously spread the baked apples purée on top of the cookies. Unmould the frozen rosemary mousse cakes and place them on top of the cookies. Let the cakes defrost for 30 minutes.



The recipe is slightly adapted from the book "Törtchen, Törtchen - Himmlische Versuchungen" by Matthias Ludwigs. Matthias Ludwigs is a well known German pâtissier; he was "Pâtissier of 2009", awarded by Gault Millau. 

Spekulatius (Speculoos) Cookies

Oh my dear readers, finally, oh finally, I am sharing my Spekulatius cookie recipe with you. It makes me very happy to write down this sentence. I meant to post this recipe last December but I never got around to it and I was very disappointed in myself. Now I am very happy and have a smile on my face.
Spekulatius are very traditional German Christmas cookies which are thin and crispy and contain spices such as cinnamon, cardamon, cloves and nutmeg. There are three different kinds of speculoos cookies: spiced cookies that contain a lot of spices; butter speculoos that have more butter than the spiced speculoos; almond speculoos which contain almond flour besides flour and the bottom of the cookies are coated with sliced almonds. Almond speculoos are my favorite. I love the combination of almonds and the subtle taste of cinnamon, clove and cardamon.



When making traditional German Spekulatius wooden handmade molds are used which I adore. Because of my love for speculoos molds  -  in German the mold is called Springerle - I bought one mold at the Christmas market the other day but not for me but for you. I would like to give away this wooden Spekulatius mold (this giveaway is open internationally). The first reader who leaves a comment under this post will receive the Spekulatius mold.
Spekulatius are one of my favorite German Christmas cookies and I love the tradition of using handmade wooden molds. Every time I make Spekulatius cookies it feels very special to me and while the cookies are baking in the oven my home smells delightful and Christmassy.


_______

Note:  During Christmas season speculoos spice mixes are sold in Germany. I use this speculoos mix. You can also make your own speculoos mix. Mix 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of cardamon, 1 teaspoon of nutmeg, 1 teaspoon of clove, 1 teaspoon of very finely grated orange zest, 1 teaspoon of very finely grated lemon zest,  1/2 teaspoon of coriander.
Or send me an Email until December 15th, 2014 and I will send you a sachet of German speculoos spice mix along with a Christmas card.
_______

Makes about 30 cookies

INGREDIENTS

100 g unsalted butter (softened)
125 g granulated sugar
1 egg
225 g all-purpose flour
75 almond flour/ ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 pinch of salt
2 teaspoons of speculoos spice mix
100 g sliced almonds
3 tablespoons of milk

DIRECTIONS

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and
Mix flour, almond flour, baking powder, salt and speculoos spices in a separate bowl.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Knead all ingredients to a dough.
Cover the dough into plastic wrap. Let the speculoos dough rest for at least one hour or overnight.
Line 2 to 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Sprinkle baking sheets with sliced almonds.
Preheat the oven to 175 °C.
Roll out the dough on a slightly floured surface until 2 to 3 mm thick, if the dough is too sticky add more flour .Use 1/3 of the dough at a time.
Press the speculoos mold into the dough, trim the excess dough with a knife. If you do not have a speculoos mold you can use a cookie cutter as well or you can also cut the dough into rectangles.
Carefully place the Spekulatius on the baking sheets. Brush the cookies lightly with milk.
Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes until they are golden in color.
Store the Spekulatius cookies in a store-tight container or tin.


Christmas Cookies





It is cold outside and every day it is getting colder, it is getting dark in the afternoon and it gets dark earlier each day, the Christmas markets are open, Christmas decorations and lights are everywhere and for weeks there are Christmas cookies and sweets in the stores. But I am not in the Christmas mood yet. The thought of Christmas makes me anxious. I have not thought about Christmas cards and I have not made a list of Christmas cookies that I want to make this holiday season.
Last Christmas I made 24 different kinds of cookies and altogether I made 1298 cookies. Even though I was very happy with my 2013 Christmas Cookie Outcome I think there is always room for improvement. This year I really hope that I am able to share some of my favorite Christmas cookies with you. Last year I was disappointed with myself that I just shared a few Christmas recipes. I am a perfectionist and most of the time I am not happy with the result of the photos that I take and then I am not sharing them on the blog. I try to get better at this. This afternoon I will make German speculoos cookies and I will post the recipe sometime next week.
In the meantime I put together a few of my favorite Christmas recipes from previous years.
Pepparkakor
I have never spent a Christmas without Swedish gingersnap cookies. My recipe is one of my absolute favorite post on my blog. It is a recipe from my grandfather.
Mjuk Pepparkaka
Swedish Christmas Spice Cake is another family recipe which is from my mom. My family and I eat this cake every Christmas season.
Saffron Raisin Brioche
I love brioche and I made my version of brioche for the Christmas season.
Ischler Cookies
It takes a little bit of time to make these cookies but Ischler cookies are very very delicious.
Lussekatter
In Scandinavia Santa Lucia is celebrated on December 13th and on this day lussekatter - it is a sweet saffron bun - are eaten. I love these sweet saffron buns and I have many childhood Santa Lucia memories.
___________

I wish you a wonderful month of December. And happy holiday baking sesaon!
The building in the photo is the National Library of Austria in Vienna. I took this photo a few years ago while I lived in this city. I spent a lot of time in the library and one winter morning there was a heavy snowstorm. It was such a beautiful winter morning and I decided to go for a stroll in order to enjoy this winter wonderland before spending the day at the library.

Raspberry Mousse Cakes























I cannot tell you how much I admire French pâtisserie and how much I am inspired by the incredible art of French pâtisserie. I cannot think of any French pastry that I do not like. One of my favorite pastries are financiers, brioches, canelés, éclairs, tartlettes au citron and in particularly I love the art of French fancy little cakes. Over the last three years I became very passionate about learning the art of making little cakes and it is one of my favorite things to do and reading books about French pâtisserie as well. At the moment I am reading a very heavy and thick pâtisserie book by Pierre Hermé: it is a book that makes me a bit dizzy because there are so many pastry terms that I have to look up in order to understand Hermé's recipes. 
It is a lot of joy for me spending hours in the kitchen while listening to an interesting radio program or podcast and creating these little cakes. It is a very rewarding process which results into beautiful homemade little cakes that do not look only fancy but taste really, really scrumptious.


I know that I have not shared many recipes of cakes that takes more time and effort than making cookies or a simple pound cake for example. I was very hesitant about sharing recipes because I am not a patissiére and I was not sure if anyone was interested in making fancy little French cakes (I still do not know if anyone cares about it). However, I want to document my little pâtisserie journey for myself and maybe I can inspire one or two which would make me very happy. 
Today I want to share a recipe of raspberry mousse cakes that are filled with a white chocolate cream and a raspberry jelly core and have a chocolate walnut brownie bottom. I made these raspberry mousse cakes several times this year and everyone who tried these cakes loved them very much and were very impressed. 
You might think to yourself that there is no way that you have the time for making those time-consuming cakes, in particular during the holidays season. Quite the contrary, I think it is a beautiful cake for the upcoming holiday season and it is the perfect dessert for a fancy holiday dinner.
I cannot deny that it takes more time than making chocolate chip cookies but you do not have to make the cakes in one day. For example you can prepare the core of the cake on one evening and you can prepare the raspberry mousse and brownie dough the following evening. One need to freeze the cakes at least 4 hours but you can also freeze the cakes for a week. Just the finishing touches has to be done one hour before you serve these delicious raspberry mousse cakes.

_______________
Notes: 
I always use frozen raspberries - I defrost them at room temperature - for these mousse cakes.
It is important to use precise measurements of the ingredients, otherwise you might experience a bad surprise.
I tried my best to write down this recipe but if you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to ask me.
______________

Makes 6 raspberry mousse cakes

INGREDIENTS
White Chocolate Cream
2 g powdered gelatin
55 ml heavy cream
1 egg yolk
5 g granulated sugar
15 g white chocolate (roughly chopped)
Raspberry jelly
85 g raspberries (fresh or frozen/thawed)
15 g granulated sugar
2 powdered gelatin
Raspberry mousse
100 g raspberries (fresh or frozen/thawed)
3 g powdered gelatin
5 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 egg yolk
25 g granulated sugar
135 ml heavy cream
Brownie Bottom
50 g dark chocolate (70%) (roughly chopped)
75 g unsalted butter
135 g granulated sugar
1 egg (medium size)
35 g all-purpose flour
65 g walnuts (toasted and roughly chopped)
Decoration
1 pouch of unflavoured gelatin fruit glaze
Raspberry or blackberry juice (for the unflavoured gelatin)
6 fresh raspberries
White chocolate
Equipment
Six small silicon moulds (4 cm Ø )
Six hemisphere silicon moulds (6 cm Ø )
Sugar thermometer
A good kitchen scale
______________________

DIRECTIONS

White Chocolate Cream
Mix gelatin with 1 tablespoon of cold water in a small pot. Let it stand for 10 minutes.
Boil up the heavy cream. In the meantime mix the egg yolk and sugar in a bowl. Pour the hot heavy cream to the egg mixture and mix. Then pour the mixture back into the pot. Over medium heat stir mixture constantly until the temperature has reached 85 °C and the mixture is thickened. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture into a bowl.
Heat the gelatin gently and pour it over the mixture and stir well. Add the white chocolate and let it stand for 1 minute; then stir until the cream is smooth. Pour the white chocolate cream into silicon moulds (half -full). Freeze the chocolate cream for at least 2 hours.
Raspberry Jelly
Mix gelatin with 1 tablespoon of cold water in a small pot. Let it stand for 10 minutes.
Puree raspberries. Strain the puree through a fine mesh strainer in order to remove the seeds (you can also omit this step if you do not mind raspberry seeds in your cake but I recommend removing the seeds).
Heat the raspberry puree and sugar. Remove pot from the heat. Heat the gelatin gently. Stir gelatin into the raspberry puree.
Take the moulds with the chocolate cream out from the freezer and pour the raspberry mixture over the chocolate cream. Freeze the moulds again for at least 2 hours.
Brownie bottom
Preheat the oven to 170 °C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler.
Mix sugar and egg in a bowl. Add the melted butter-chocolate mixture. Mix flour and walnuts and stir it into the batter.
Pour the batter onto the baking sheet (use half of the baking sheet or use a casserole dish).
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Raspberry Mousse
Mix gelatin with 2 tablespoons of cold water in a small pot. Let it stand for 10 minutes.
Puree the raspberries. Strain the puree through a fine mesh strainer in order to remove the seeds. Pour the pureed raspberries into a big bowl.
Heat the gelatin gently and add gelatin and lemon juice to the raspberry puree. Mix well.
In a double boiler heat egg yolk and sugar until the temperature reached 60 °C. While heating the mixture, constantly stir. Pour egg mixture into a bowl and beat the mixture until it is cold and thickened.
Whisk heavy cream until creamy.
Fold in the egg mixture to the raspberry mouse. Then fold in the whipped cream to the mousse.
Assembling
Fill the raspberry mousse into hemisphere moulds.
Unmould the frozen white chocolate and raspberry jelly core. Gently press the frozen cores into the moulds.
Use a round cookie cutter or a glass and cut out 6 cm Ø round brownie slices.
Put the brownie slices on top of the mousse.
Freeze the cakes for at least 4 hours.
Prepare the gelatin fruit glaze according package instruction.
Unmould the cakes and put the frozen cakes on a wire rack. Pour the glaze over frozen the cakes. It is important that the cakes are still frozen while pouring the glace over the cakes.
Decorate each cake with a raspberry and white chocolate.
Place each cake on a plate and let the raspberry mousse cakes defrost for about one hour.




The recipe is adapted from the book "Törtchen & Tartlettes" by Matthias Ludwigs. Matthias Ludwigs is a well known German pâtissier; he was "Pâtissier of 2009", awarded by Gault Millau. 

Marble Cake


Marble cake is one of those cakes that I liked as a child very much and I dare say that most children enjoy this cake a lot. That is probably one of the reasons why this cake is often served at children's birthday parties.
I still like marble cake but probably not as much as I did when I was little. I would probably never serve this cake for my birthday anymore. A marble cake is a cake for weekdays but not for special celebrations - at least for me.
I know there are many marble cake recipes out there but most recipes contain a lot of eggs  which makes the cake more on the heavier side. I always use only 3 eggs instead of 5 or 6 eggs but I add my secret ingredient which is yogurt. Adding yogurt to the batter makes my marble cake incredible moist.





________

Notes: Try to use a good quality cacao powder for baking. In my opinion it makes a big difference which kind of cacao powder one uses. You will taste the difference.
If you have the patience eat the cake the next day. Even on day three or four the marble cake tastes delicious.
My marble cake bakes for 50 to 55 minutes. However, I recommend checking your cake at 40 to 45 minutes. Ovens are individuals, ovens are such divas!

 
Makes one gugelhupf ( 17 cm diameter / height 10 cm / 1 liter volume )

INGREDIENTS

200 g unsalted butter (softened)
200 g granulated sugar
3 eggs (medium size)
240 g all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
150 ml milk (full fat), plus 1 tablespoon of milk
100 g plain yogurt (full fat)
2 tablespoons of unsweetened cacao powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla paste
Confectioners' sugar
__________

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 175°C.
Generously grease and flour your cake pan.
Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add one egg at a time.
Mix flour and baking powder. Add the flour mixture, yogurt and milk to the butter-egg mixture. Mix all ingredients until well combined but do not overmix the batter.
Take one third of the batter and add cacao powder and one tablespoon of milk to the batter.
Add the vanilla paste to the other part of the batter.
Pour one third of the vanilla batter to the cake pan (that is the first layer). Pour half of the chocolate batter as the second layer, then the vanilla batter as the third layer, again chocolate batter and the last layer is the vanilla batter. Take a knife and swirl the batter. Swirl very gently because you do not want  the vanilla batter mixed together with the chocolate batter.
Bake the cake for 50 to 55 minutes. If you insert a toothpick and it comes out clear the cake is done.
Let the cake cool completely. Unmould the marble cake and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.