Kejsarkronor

Today I want to share a recipe of Kejsarkronor; sometimes these delicate little cakes are also called Polynéer. Kejsarkronor - it means crowns of the emperor in Swedish and I think the cakes look like crowns - are little shortcrust tartlets with a nut filling. I love the combination of the shortcrust which is a little bit crunchy and the moist nut filling. I also think these petite tarts look sweet and of course they taste sweet as well. Occasionally one can find Kejsarkronor in Swedish bakeries but the cakes are not as popular as they were once. I cannot understand this because Kejsarkronor are such delicious treats and just writing about them is making my mouth water. When I made these little nut tartlets for the first time and surprised my mom with the cakes she told me that it brought back memories of her childhood and Kejsarkronor used to be a staple in every Swedish bakery. I hope this will change again. 



Since the recipe contains a nut filling I want to share a few thoughts about hazelnuts. Ever since I read an article about hazelnut harvesting and researching more about this topic I got an entire new perspective of hazelnuts. I knew about child labor in the production of such as coffee beans, cacao beans, sugar canes and bananas (and I, as a consumer, have the possibility to purchase these groceries under fairtrade conditions) but I did not associated the hazelnut harvesting with child labor. Until a few weeks ago I had no clue that Turkey is the main supplier of hazelnuts in the world market. 75% (!) of the entire world hazelnut production comes from Turkey. Domestic migrant workers harvest the hazelnuts. Many migrant workers come from villages in the Southeast of Turkey and travel to the Black Sea Coast in order to work as seasonal workers. Entire families work on hazelnut farms (11 hours a day/ 1,30 € per hour) and they are living in unacceptable conditions. The Turkish government signed an agreement to ban child labor in agriculture until 2015 (here is an interesting video from the International Labour Organization). I do hope that changes will be made in the near future but I do think that banning child labor from agriculture is not enough since it does not include factories and children will continue working in factories.
This year we will also notice a significant change in the price of hazelnuts but not due to better working conditions and prohibition of child labor but because of bad harvest. Last March there was unusual cold weather which caused the damage of half of the hazelnut crops in Turkey. I cannot imagine what impact it had and has on the people who are involved in the hazelnut industry (2 million people are directly and 6 million people indirectly involved in Turkey). The almond production is facing a similar situation but not the cold temperature is a problem but the drought in California. 80 % (!) of the world almond production comes from the Central Valley in California and that is why the price of almonds is constantly increasing and the almond farmers constantly worry about their harvest.
While researching about this topic I also made an interesting observation about the labeling of hazelnuts versus almonds. On the front side of almond bags there are big letters that indicates that the almonds are from California. In the back of my head it was always present that that the almonds that I buy on a regular basis are from California ( I was only surprised to learn that 80% of the almonds are produced in California). However, I had no idea that the hazelnuts that I purchase at the grocery store were from Turkey. On the front side of hazelnut bags there are no big letters that advertise that the hazelnut are from Turkey. On the backside of hazelnut bags one can find the producing country Turkey in very small letters. Why? Does Californian almonds sound better than Turkish hazelnuts?
I hope you did not mind my little nut excursion. I do not like to preach about things - this is not a blog about politics or ethical questions - but the hazelnut harvesting story was an eye opener for me and I really wanted to share it with you. Maybe you are or were also wondering about the increase prices of hazelnuts and almonds. Maybe you will experience a shortage of hazelnuts in your local grocery store. Or maybe you are wondering why the price of Nutella jar is increasing (by the way, Nutella contains only 13% hazelnuts and 70% sugar and saturated fat, is it really a hazelnut spread?). Now you know why.


Notes: 
The Kejsarkronor filling can be made with hazelnuts or almonds; both version can be found in Swedish bakeries. I personally prefer the hazelnut filling. The Kejsarkronor in the photos are made with a hazelnut filling. 
Little tart tins are often used for different kinds of cakes in Swedish baking. My tart tins are 6 cm (2,4 inches wide and 2 cm (0,8 inches) tall. If you do not have such small tart tins on hand you can also use little muffin tins. Depending on the size of your tins the baking time might be a little bit longer. But I must confess that I do love the size of my tiny tart tins. Making little treats - or bakelse as I say in Swedish - in these tins are the perfect size for an afternoon pick-me-up without feeling too guilty about it. Next time I am in Sweden I will buy a few tartlet tins and do a little giveaway on the blog. 

Makes about 16 Kejsakronor

INGREDIENTS
Dough
150 g all-purpose flour
100 g unsalted butter (cut into small cubes)
50 g granulated sugar
1 egg (small)
Filling
100 g hazelnut meal or almond meal
175 g powdered sugar (sifted)
75 g egg whites ( 2 egg whites)

DIRECTIONS
Knead together all dough ingredients until it is a smooth dough (if the dough is too sticky add more flour, if the dough is too dry add a little bit of cold water). Form to a ball and flatten the dough slightly. Wrap the dough into clingwrap and let the dough rest in the fridge for one hour. 
Butter and flour the tartlet tins. 
Mix powdered sugar and hazelnut flour. Add the egg whites and mix until all ingredients are well combined. 
Preheat the oven to 175 °C.
On a slightly floured surface roll out the dough until 3 mm thick.
Cut eight stripes (0,5 cm wide) with a fluted pastry wheel or a knife. Each stripe should be 24 cm long which you cut into 4 pieces. If you use bigger tart tins the stripes must be longer of course.
Cut out circles (the circles should be a little bit bigger than the tartlet tins) from the reaming dough. Gently press the circles into the tins. Trim away any excess dough with a sharp knife.
Fill the tartlet shells with the nut filling but no more than 2/3. Take two stripes and arrange them over the center of each tartlet to form a cross.
Place the tartlet tins on a baking sheet and bake the Kejsarkronor for 20 to 25 minutes until they are slightly golden in color. If you use bigger tartlet tins the baking time will be a few minutes longer.
Keep the Kejsarkronor in an air-tight container up to a week.

My Christmas Baking 2014


Before 2014 comes to an end - at least in my part of the world it is still 2014 - I want to share the different kinds of cookies that I made this Christmas season. I wrote a post about my Christmas baking last year and it is fun to look back at it.  As much as I like sharing recipes with you my dear readers, this blog is also my baking diary. Maybe one day I lose interest in baking which I cannot imagine at the moment and then I can look back at the recipes that I made over the years and I might be astonished what a strange baking  passion I once had.

This year I made 27 different kind of Christmas cookies. Besides Christmas cookies I also made a lot of Lussekatter which are sweet saffron buns which are traditionally eaten on December 13th in Sweden and these buns are one of my all time favorite Christmas food. I also made a few Swedish Christmas Spice Cakes.
I wish I could tell you the exact number of cookies I made this year but I am afraid that you have to be patient. I counted every single cookie that I made but as I write this post I cannot find my cookie statistic notes which makes me a little bit mad. I know that I kept my notes on my desk but somehow my notes disappeared or are hiding in a cookbook. As soon as I find my cookie notes I will update this post. But I can tell you one thing: I made more than 2000 Christmas cookies (last year I made 1298 cookies) this year. I do not know if I am proud of it or if I am embarrassed about it. I tend to the latter one because I think people must think I am meshuge. Maybe I am.

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My dear readers I wish you all a very Happy New Year! May 2015 be filled with lots of delicious cakes and cookies, wonderful moments, love and health!
Thank you for reading my blog.
Marianne
xxx



1 Elisenlebkuchen (German Soft Gingerbread Cookies)
2 Linzer Auge (Cookies sandwiched with jam)
3 Bärentatzen (Bear Paws)
4 Pepparkakor (Swedish Gingerbread Cookies, my recipe is here)
5 Wölkchen (Dark Chocolate Clouds)
6 Havreflarn (Swedish Crispy Oat Cookies)
7 Zitronen Terrassen (Lemon Curds Terraces)
8 Russinkakor ( Swedish Raisin Oat Cookies, my recipe is here)
9 Weihnachtssterne (Christmas Stars filled with jam and covered with dark chocolate and chopped pistachios)
10 Zimtsterne (German Cinnamon Stars, my recipe is here)
11 Formar (Swedish Shell Cookies, served with whipped cream and jam or cherries)
12 Haselnuss Nussknacker (Hazelnut Nut Crackers)
13 Spekulatius (German Speculoos/ Almond Spice Cookies, my recipe is here)
14 Grenobler Nussplätzchen (Grenoble Nut Cookies)
15 Geminzte Ecken (Mint Corners)
16 White Clouds (White Chocolate Clouds)
17 Havrekakor (Swedish Oat Cookies)
18 Vanillekipferl (Austrian, German Vanilla Crescent)
19 Kokoskakor (Coconut Macaroons)
20 Spritskransar/Spritzgebäck (Spritz Cookies)
21 Schokoladenstäbchen (Chocolate Sticks)
22 Überraschungsiglus (Surprise Igloos)
23 Gewürzkugeln (Chocolate Spice Balls)
24 Spanisches Brot (Spanish Bread Cookies)
25 Orangenmonde (Orange Moons, cookies filled with orange jam)
26 Glühweinschnitten (Mulled Wine Squares)
27 Kokoswürfel (Coconut Cubes), not pictured

Happy Holidays


My dearest readers, 
Merry Christmas, Fröhliche Weihnachten and Gud Jul to all of you who celebrate this holiday!
Enjoy the last few days of this year. I personally love the winter season and its darkness. During the winter month I love to sit next to the fireplace and writing down recipes for my blog. 
I appreciate you stopping by and reading my blog. Thank you. 
Love,
Marianne
xxx

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. 
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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
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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.


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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.
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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.