Orange, Vanilla & Lavender Cheesecake

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This recipe is for a 19cm round cake mold with a detachable bottom.

Ingredients:

For the lavender cookie crust:

180grs of Bastogne cookies, you can also use graham crackers

3 tablespoons of butter

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 tablespoon of dried lavender

For the cheesecake:

400grs of cream cheese, at room temperature

100gr of sour cream

2 eggs

¾ cups of sugar

Pinch of salt

1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon of vanilla essence

2 tablespoons of orange zest

1 tablespoon of cacao powder, sifted

 

Preheat your oven to 160C/325F. Line the bottom and sides of your cake mold with parchment paper.

Start by making the crust. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat with the dried lavender.

Place the cookies and vanilla essence in the food processor, and pulse until you get crumbs. Then slowly add the lavender butter. Once everything is mixed through, put the crumbs into the bottom of your cake mold. Press with your fingers or the back of a spoon so that there is a nice even layer on the bottom of the mold.  Set it aside.

Using an electric mixer, whisk the sugar with the orange zest to release the oils. Then add the cream cheese, vanilla and sour cream. Whisk until everything is well combined.

Then add the eggs and salt. Whisk until everything is mixed through. Reserve about 1/3 of a cup of the cheesecake batter to make the swirls later.

Pour the rest of the cheesecake batter into your prepared cake mold.

Whisk one tablespoon of cacao powder into the reserved cheesecake mixture. Using a spoon, drizzle the chocolate batter over the cheesecake. Using a toothpick or the tip of a knife, start making swirls.

Bake the cheesecake for 30 minutes. The center should still wiggle a bit.

Allow it to come to room temperature. Then place it in the fridge for at least 4 hours, better if it is overnight.

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Brownie Cookies with Rhubarb & Vanilla Bean

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A friend of mine brought me a chocolate bar for cooking from her trip to France and the first thing that came to my mind were these cookies. They are soft and fudgy on the inside. Rich but not overly sweet, and the tartness of the rhubarb still comes through.

This recipe makes about 30 cookies.

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

100grs of dark chocolate, chopped

113grs of butter

1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

¾ of a cup of brown sugar, packed

½ cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

2 teaspoons of cornstarch

1 teaspoon of baking soda

Pinch of salt

¼ cup of cocoa powder

For the rhubarb:

2 rhubarb stalks

1 tablespoon of butter

1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon of vanilla essence

1 tablespoon of sugar

 

To make the cookies, place the butter and chopped dark chocolate in a small bowl. Melt it in the microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring in between until the chocolate has melted completely. Then allow it to cool down.

Mix the flour, baking soda, cornstarch, salt and cocoa powder in another bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolk, sugars and vanilla. Then slowly whisk in the cooled melted chocolate.

Then add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture in batches. Mix until everything is combined.

Then allow the dough to chill in the fridge for 2 hours.

In the meanwhile, start preparing the rhubarb. Slice the stalks in two lengthwise. Then finely slice them.

Place the butter with the sugar in a pan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the rhubarb and vanilla and cook for 1 minute while stirring. Then transfer the rhubarb to a fine mesh sieve with a bowl underneath to catch all the liquid. Let it sit there until the chilling time for the cookie dough is up.

Once the cookie dough has chilled, preheat your oven to 180C/350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Discard the juice from the rhubarb and place the rhubarb in a small bowl.

Take the cookie dough out of the fridge and grab about 2 tablespoons of cookie dough and roll it into a ball using your hands. Place it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat for the rest, leaving some space in between each ball. Place about 1 teaspoon of the rhubarb on top of each ball and press with your fingers so it sticks. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. While a batch is baking, keep the remaining cookie dough in the fridge.

Let the cookies rest in the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

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Chocolate, Oatmeal & Cranberry Sandwich Cookies with Vanilla Bean Frosting

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These cookie sandwiches are soft and chewy. They make a perfect edible gift for the holidays.

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This recipe makes about 23 small sandwich cookies.

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

1 ¼ cup of all-purpose flour

¼ cup of cocoa powder

1 cup of instant oats

1 cup of brown sugar

113grs of softened butter

1 egg

½ teaspoon of baking powder

½ teaspoon of baking soda

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

1/3 cup of chopped dried cranberries

1 tablespoon of milk

For the vanilla bean frosting:

4 tablespoons of skyr or Greek yogurt

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped off

3 cups of powdered sugar

 

To make the cookies, preheat your oven to 180C/350F and line an oven sheet with parchment paper.

Cream the butter with the sugar. Then add the egg and vanilla extract. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder. Finally add the milk, oats and cranberries.

Grab about 1 teaspoon of the dough and roll it into a ball using your hands. Place it on the prepared baking sheet and repeat for the rest of the dough. Bake them for about 10 minutes. Allow them to cool down for a couple of minutes in the baking sheet, and then transfer them to a cooling rack.

Once all the cookies are cold, start making the frosting. Whisk the skyr with the vanilla bean seeds and then gradually add the powdered sugar.

Place about one teaspoon of the frosting on the flat side of one cookie, top with the flat side of another cookie, and press to spread the filling. Repeat for all. Keep them in an airtight container in the fridge.

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Thyme & Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Roasted Pecans (No-churn)

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This is a very easy ice cream recipe and the best part is that you don’t need an ice cream machine to make it. Like all ice creams it requires some waiting, but the amount of time you actually need to do something is minimal. I have a thyme plant by my kitchen window that I use very often. I just grab a pair of scissors and cut as many sprigs as I need for a recipe. I really like the flavor that it infuses in the ice cream. It’s not too strong and it goes well with vanilla. I also served the ice cream with some buckwheat-banana waffles. The recipe for the waffles is still to come.

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Ingredients:

For the ice cream:

2 cups of cream

1 can of condensed milk, 400ml

15 sprigs of thyme

1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon of vanilla essence

For the pecans:

100grs of pecans

1 tablespoon of butter, melted

1 tablespoon of honey

1 tablespoon of sugar

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Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Melt the butter with the honey in the microwave. Add the pecans and sugar. Mix well. Spread the pecans on a tray lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 minutes. Then allow to cool before roughly chopping them.

Slice open the vanilla pod, scrape off the seeds. Place the cream, vanilla seeds, vanilla pod and thyme leaves in a pot over medium heat. Once it starts to boil, turn off the heat and cover it with a lid. Let it steep for 1 hour.

Once the hour has passed, pass the cream through a sieve. Place the cream in the fridge and let it get completely cold.  This will take a couple of hours.

Once the cream is cold, whisk it until soft peaks form. This will take about 3 minutes (I used the stand mixer).

Place the condensed milk on another bowl. Add 1/3 of the whipped cream and mix it. Then slowly fold the remaining whipped cream into the condensed milk. Once it is all mixed, add the chopped roasted pecans.

Pour the ice cream into a freezer container and smooth out the top with a spatula. Press a piece of parchment paper on the top to prevent it from forming ice crystals. Cover it well with plastic wrap or if you have a large enough Ziploc bag, just place it inside a bag. Let it freeze for at least six hours or overnight. The ice cream lasts for up to 2 weeks. But it is better to eat it within a few days from making it, as it is softer.

Vanilla Bean & Cinnamon Wreaths

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I have been craving cinnamon rolls for a long while now.  Like my pretzel cravings, it had been on and off (for my super easy pretzel recipe click here). I was so excited when I learned that Cinnabon was coming to the Netherlands a while back.  But that excitement quickly dissipated when they only opened in Rotterdam.  Taking the train for a cinnamon roll just didn’t seem worth it.

My mother in law is always sweet enough to bring us back some vanilla beans from her trips to Indonesia.  Those beans are my little pantry’s treasure.  So I decided to incorporate them into these cinnamon wreaths.  She brings so many because she gets them very cheap over there. Of course that is not the case in most parts of the world. So you can also substitute it for vanilla extract to make the dough and for the filling use vanilla flavored sugar to mix with the cinnamon powder.

I made individual wreaths because I thought they would look darn cute. This recipe makes 8 wreaths.

Ingredients:

For the dough:

3 ½ cups of All-purpose flour

7gr dry yeast

½ cup of warm water

½ cup of milk

1 vanilla bean, or 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of salt

4 tablespoons of butter, melted and cooled

1/3 cup of sugar

1 egg

For the filling:

¾ cup of sugar

2 vanilla beans (you could also skip it and use vanilla flavored sugar instead)

1 tablespoon of cinnamon powder

3 tablespoons of melted butter

For the egg wash:

1 egg

1 tablespoon of water

 

Place the yeast and the warm water in the bowl of the stand mixer. Let it stand for 5 minutes.

Cut open the vanilla bean and remove the seeds. Place the vanilla bean, seeds and milk in a small pot and bring to a simmer.  Once it is simmering, turn off the heat and allow it to cool down (this is important so it doesn’t kill the yeast later). Once it has cooled down, remove the vanilla bean. You can dry it and  then stored it with your sugar.

Place the flour, salt, egg, cooled melted butter, sugar and the vanilla milk into the bowl with the yeast.

Knead on low speed for 5 minutes, using the dough hook attachment.  You can also knead it by hand.

Then remove the dough from the bowl. Clean the bowl and then grease it with a bit of vegetable oil.  Form the dough into a ball and place it back into the greased bowl. Cover with plastic film and let it rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

Once the hour has passed, preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

To make the filling, cut open the vanilla beans and remove the seeds. Mix the seeds with the sugar and cinnamon powder.

Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and lightly flour your working area.

Roll out one piece of dough into a rectangle of about 30×20 centimeters.

Then brush the top of the dough with the melted butter and sprinkle some of the vanilla-cinnamon sugar on top.  Then grab one end of the dough and roll it like a tight crepe.

Cut the crepe in half trying to make a clean cut, except on one end. Then start twisting the 2 pieces, make sure the opened sugary side is facing up.  Pinch the ends to seal them.

Then form a circle with it, tuck the ends underneath and give it a pinch to seal them.  Brush the top with a bit of the egg wash and sprinkle a bit more of the vanilla-cinnamon sugar on top of the wreath.

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Repeat for the remaining dough.  Then bake for 15 minutes.

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