Speculaas meringue pie

Speculaas meringue pie

 

I think I’m done with winter. Or the lack of a proper one anyway. You know, the kind with freezing temperatures and snow that lasts more than a couple of days. I’ve started to replace the candles in our house with fresh flowers, mostly tulips. I let my daughter pick a bunch the other day and she went for a multicoloured bouquet and called them “her rainbow tulips”.

Next week is Valentine’s Day and last year I made these yummy truffles at the very last minute because we hadn’t planned anything. Plus, we’re never sure how to celebrate because P. has his birthday 2 days later. The trend in our house seems to be to keep Valentine’s simple (think sofa, movie, snacks) and then P.’s birthday gets a bit more attention (family breakfast, cake, babysitter, dining out).

Tulip in full bloom

This Speculaas meringue pie also seems to be a trend because I’m pretty sure I made it for his birthday last year. The base is crunchy and caramely. The filling creamy and full of vanilla. The top is his favourite: meringue, in any shape or form. I’ve made this with a french meringue before but this year I wanted to try Swiss meringue. Either way, the result is delicious and the pie will be gone before you know it (which is a good thing because it doesn’t do so well in the fridge). You can easily half this recipe and make a smaller version to share with your loved one if you’re celebrating Valentine’s this Sunday.

What’s the best thing your loved one has ever baked or cooked for you in an effort to impress? Did it work? Were you impressed?

Speculaas meringue pie up close

 Speculaas meringue pie

(serves 8)

Ingredients:

For the base:

200g speculaas cookies (biscoff)

80g butter

For the filling:

500ml milk

50g flour

100g sugar

2 egg yolks and 1 whole egg

seeds of 1/2 a vanilla pod

For the meringue:

2 egg whites

80g sugar

Method:

  1. Make the pie crust first.  Put the cookies in a food processor and whizz until you are left with fine crumbs. If you don’t have a food processor you can put the cookies in a large freezer bag and use a rolling pin to crush them. It’s important to not have any big cookie lumps left.
  2. Now, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Then add the butter to the cookie crumbs and mix thoroughly. Press the mixture into a springform or loose bottomed pie dish. Make sure the base is level (it doesn’t need to go up the sides) and use the back of a spoon to really press down the crumb mixture. You don’t need to bother greasing the tin/dish. Place the crust in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  3. Now, make the filling, which is a basic crème patisserie. In a bowl mix together the egg, egg yolks and sugar. You can do this in a standmixer or using a handmixer. The mixture needs to double in volume, become thick and turn a pale beige. This can take up to 10 minutes. Sift in the flour, add the vanilla seeds and mix for another minute or 2. In the meantime, heat the milk in a saucepan on medium heat until nearly boiling.
  4. Once the milk is hot, slowly add it to the egg-sugar mixture and mix on a very slow speed. Once everything has mixed, pour the contents of your bowl into the saucepan you just used and return to the heat. Use a simple whisk to gently whisk the mixture as it heats up and thickens. This can take 10 minutes or longer depending on your hob. When the mixture is thick enough, pour it into a heatproof bowl and cover the actual crème (not the bowl) with clingfilm and let it cool completely.
  5. When the crème has cooled, it’s time to make the meringue. If you want to make a french meringue, use this method and make the circle slightly smaller than your crust size. For the Swiss meringue, mix the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl using a handmixer until just combined.
  6. Fill a saucepan with about 3 cm of water and heat until it simmers. Then, place the bowl with the egg whites and sugar on top and use your electric handmixer to continue whipping the mixture. The heat from the simmering water will melt the sugar and once this is done and your egg whites have formed stiff peaks, take the bowl off the pan. Continue to whip with your handmixer until the meringue is stiff and glossy and back to room temperature.
  7. It’s time to assemble the pie. Take the crust out of the fridge. Spoon or pipe the crème patisserie on top to about half a cm from the crust edge. Then pipe the meringue on top and use a knife to create some texture if you like.
  8. If you have a blow torch in your kitchen, you can use it to give the tops of the meringue some colour. I stuck the pie under the grill for a minute or two. Or, you can leave the meringue as it is.
  9. Carefully, remove the pie from the tin and serve the same day. This pie does not keep well in the fridge.

ENJOY!!

Blooming tulip

 

Galette de Rois – 3 Kings pie

Galette de rois

Happy New Year!

I know it’s already been a week since we all stepped into 2016 but nevertheless I wanted to wish you all the best for the coming 366 days. If this is the start of a new beginning for you, I wish you luck on your journey. If you mean to keep going as you did when 2015 ended then I hope it keeps going well for you.

As a child, I remember very well how we celebrated the arrival of the 3 kings (or wise men) on January 6th. We would dress up, cut a star out of cardboard and attach it to a stick then find something that could pass as a small treasure chest. We then went on our way around the neighbourhood singing the 3 kings song to any one who opened their front door. As a reward, we would get a chocolate gold coin or a clementine. When we had enough treasure we would go home to warm up and eat 3 Kings cake, or galette de rois as its called in French. My mother made a different version of the galette de rois than the one I’ve made but the concept is the same: make a cake or pie, stick in a coffee bean or almond or small toy and then see who gets the slice with the surprise. The lucky winner is crowned king for the day. Something we took very seriously as we got older (as in, we would boss around our siblings because, you know, we were the king).

Celebrate with a 3 kings cake called galette de rois

This galette de rois is not difficult to make. Buy yourself some ready rolled puffed pastry and the rest is just a matter of mixing and assembling. The recipe is for 1 galette enough to feed 6 people but I chose to make smaller versions because we’ve been eating so much cake in this house lately (Christmas, New Year and 2 kids celebrating their Name Day in the space of 14 days) that I wanted to tone it down a bit.

What about you, do you stop baking for a while after all the celebrations or do you just opt for healthier or smaller bakes?

Galette de rois

(serves 6)

Ingredients:

500g puffed pastry

125g soft butter

125g sugar

125 almond meal

2 eggs

1 tbsp Amaretto

1 egg yolk for glazing

1 coffee bean, almond or small heatproof toy

Method:

1. Using a standmixer with whisk (or a handmixer) cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

2. Add the eggs one by one mixing in between each egg. Mix well until the eggs are COMPLETELY combined. This can take a couple of minutes.

3. Add the Amaretto and mix.

4. Using a spatula, fold in the almond meal.

5. Cut 2 plate size circles out of the puff pastry. Place one on a baking tray lined with baking paper.

6. Add a about 1/2 a tsp of water to the egg yolk and mix. Using a pastry brush, brush the edge of the circle with the egg yolk (about 2-3cm thick).

7. Spoon the almond cream into the middle of the circle. Spread out until it nearly reaches the egg yolk. Be careful not to pile the cream too high. You might have some left over cream. Now place the bean/almond/heatproof toy somewhere in the cream.

8. Place the second circle of pastry on top and lightly press the edge down onto the bottom circle edge. The egg yolk will help the circles stick together.

9. Decorate the edge of the galette like this using the back of a knife.

(this image is from http://www.blogdechataigne.fr)Galette de rois: how to do the edges

10. Decorate the top of the galette if you want to. Using a sharp knife draw out a pattern without cutting through the pastry. Then brush the entire galette with the egg yolk and stick it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

11. While your galette de rois is in de fridge, preheat your oven to 220 degrees C.

12. Take the galette out and put it in the middle of your oven. After 15 minutes, turn down the temperature to 190 degrees C and bake for another 20 minutes.

13. Take out the galette when its a nice shiny, dark brown colour. Let it cool on a wire rack.

Make sure that if you use a small toy as surprise it can withstand high temperatures. Also, if you have small children it might be best to skip the surprise because of the possible chocking risk. 

If you want to try making smaller versions, reduce the oven times to 5 minutes at 220 degrees followed by 10 minutes at 190 degrees C. 

ENJOY!!

3 kings and galette de rois

Frangipane tart

frangipane tart with walnut pieces on the side

I know Father’s Day was a while ago but I would like to take minute and be grateful for my dad.

We haven’t always seen eye to eye. I was a bit of a difficult  teenager with a temper. A temper I inherited from him. Our living room was the scene of many battles in which neither party won, even though we both thought we did. But as I got older and left home to study and later to work, he became my backup. Stuck with a question about taxes? Call dad. Need to buy a car? Ask dad for advice. Building an IKEA bed? Ask dad if you can borrow his tools.

slice of frangipane tart

My father was raised in a traditional, conservative way. He never learned to cook or iron a shirt. Call it romantic if you want but for my mother he decided to take on these challenges when he had to take early retirement and spend quite some time at home. He still doesn’t know how to iron a shirt but he does “all the straight stuff” like table cloths and sheets. And he’s also got a bunch of signature dishes that only he makes. One of these is a frangipane tart which he mastered while doing a cookery course for men back in the 80’s (at least I think that’s where he got it, I’m sure he’ll correct me if I’m wrong).

So this is his pie. Simple and tasty. But also a little bit special.

Frangipane tart with almonds on the side and tea egg as powdered sugar duster

Frangipane Tart 

(serves 8)

Ingredients:

200g puff pastry (shop bought is OK) or 300g if you want to make a nice lattice design on top

150g ground almonds

150g sugar

150g very soft butter

2 tbsp flour

3 eggs

Method:

1. Preheat the one to 180 degrees C.

2. Cream the butter with a electric hand mixer or a stand mixer with the whisk attached.

3. In another bowl, mix the almonds and the sugar.

4. Alternate between adding parts of the sugar-almond mixture and a whole egg to the butter making sure to mix well after every addition.

5. Fold in the flour.

6. Roll the puff pastry to about 2mm thick if it didn’t come pre-rolled. Gently place it into a round, fluted, loose-bottomed tart pan. Trim the edges.

7. Use a fork to prick the bottom of the pastry. Then add the mixture.

8. Make your lattice design and gently lay it on top of the mixture.

9. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the frangipane mixture is set and the pastry is golden brown.

10. Let the pie cool in the pan before removing it.

ENJOY!

close up piece of frangipane tart

Crustless rice pudding pie – Rijsttaart

Rijsttaart

Do your holidays creep up on you without you realising it? Or do you patiently count down the days until you lock your front door not planning to open it again for at least a week?

Summer is here and a couple of months ago we finally decided on our holiday plans. We knew we were going to be going to Belgium to spend time with family and friends. But what about our own family holiday. P., the kids and I. Where were we going to go? What were we going to do? After we decided it seemed like we still had so much time to get other stuff sorted before we had to pack our bags.

And so here we are today. Friday afternoon. My last Friday at my desk before some well deserved rest, with a to-do list the length of my arm. I’ll get it done, I always do, but this final sprint before the finish? Not my thing. I like to jog…

When I finally do close this laptop in a few hours, I will use my walk home to lose the “work-me” and find the “ME-me”. I will then sit down with husband-to-be and kids, a large cup of tea and a slice of rice pudding pie. Why this pie? Because it reminds me of Belgium which is where I will spend most of July. It’s not the traditional Flemish rice pudding pie as it doesn’t have a pie crust. But then again, we are not a traditional Belgian family so it’s kind of fitting don’t you think?

rijsttaart or crustless rice pudding pie

Crustless rice pudding pie

(serves 8)

Ingredients:

250ml / 1 cup milk

2 eggs, yolks and whites separated

112g / 1/2 cup of sugar

75g flour / 1/2 cup of flour

1 tsp baking powder

200g / 3/4 cup of rice pudding (use home-made or shop-bought)

1 tbsp vanilla sugar

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 175 degrees C / 350 degrees F

2. Butter a pie pan with a 25cm / 9 inch diameter.

3. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together. Then add the milk, rice pudding, flour and baking powder.

4. In a second bowl, use a hand- or standmixer to whisk the egg whites and vanilla sugar until it forms soft peaks.

5. Fold the egg whites into the batter. It is a very runny mixture. Liquid-like.

6. Pour into the pie pan and carefully place in the middle of the oven.

7. Bake for 50-55 minutes. Check with a skewer that the pie has set. The top will be a lovely golden brown.

8. Switch off the oven and leave the pie inside for another 5-10 minutes.

9. Take the pie out of the oven and let it cool inside the pan.

10. Serve on its own or with some whipped cream.

ENJOY!

 Slice of crustless rice pudding pie

Strawberry and cream cheese pie

Purple Lilac flowers

Dear Gilbert Blythe,

I first met you when I was 13. I thought you were the handsomest young man I had ever seen. You had such lovely dark hair and the way you looked with those expressive, brown eyes made my heart skip a beat. Anne was very fortunate you waited for her to come to her senses.

I dreamed that one day, I too would find my kindred spirit the way Anne found you. Some one who would love me and all my weirdness and wonderfulness. Some one who would understand that writing is of great importance to me. Some one who would never give up on me.

Dear Gilbert, I have found that man and in less than 6 months I will marry him. I hope you’ll be happy for me. But don’t worry, I won’t forget you.

I recently took a trip down memory lane and  visited Avonlea. I saw Diana, Marilla and Rachel. I had a cup of tea with Mrs Harris and Pauline. I saw all the beautiful colours of spring and the vast fields around Green Gables. And then I had an idea. I thought, why not have a picnic? Why not sit outside and drink up the sweet smelling blossoms around me? Why not throw some blankets on the green grass under a cherry blossom tree and sit with good friends? We could talk about the good old times. How I cried when Matthew died. Or laughed when Anne got Diana drunk.

I visited a lot of places when I was a young girl and met a lot of people. But Avonlea, Anne and you will always be special to me. I will come and visit now and again and I hope you will allow me to bring my daughter and son along when they are a bit older. I think there will come a time when my children will need to visit your pretty corner of Prince Edward Island and learn about kindred spirits, friendship and love.

Dear Gilbert, lets go and have that picnic now. I brought strawberry cream cheese pie. You’ll love it. I’m sure of that.

Love always,

A.

Slice of strawberry cream cheese cake on person's lap

(I read the Anne of Green Gables books when I was a young teenage girl. I fell in love with the TV version by Kevin Sullivan even though it was different from the book in many parts. When I heard that the actor Jonathan Crombie died on 15.04.2015 I watched the whole series again. As before, the people and the places took my breath away. Few things I read as a teenager still have an affect on me. Anne of Green Gables is an exception.) 

strawberries

Strawberry cream cheese pie

(Serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

220g flour

90g sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

180g browned butter (see Joy the Baker’s tutorial on how to make this)

175g full fat cream cheese

1 egg

50g sugar

1 tsp vanilla sugar

200g fresh, sweet and juicy strawberries

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 175 degrees C.

2. Make the crust by mixing the flour, 90g of sugar, baking powder and browned butter in a bowl with a wooden spoon.

3. Use your hands (careful, the pastry might still be warm because of the butter) to press the pastry in a lined square cake tin (26x20cm). Make sure it goes up the sides by about 2cm. Put aside.

4. In a second bowl, use a whisk to mix the cream cheese, egg, remaining sugars and 3 squashed strawberries (just use your hands).

5. Pour the mixture in the pastry.

6. Cut the remaining strawberries in halves or quarters and randomly place them on top of the mixture.

7. Bake for 30min. Once baked, let the pie cool completely before attempting to cut it. If you want to take it out of the tin completely, make sure you used baking paper to line the tin. You will be able to carefully lift the pie out that way.

Enjoy!

Picknick of strawberry cream cheese pie

Green foliage of a tree

slice of strawberry cream cheese pie

 used knife

spring leaves on a twig