Gooey Marzipan Müsli Chocolate Bars

I’m pleased – it’s a good sign you’re getting more comfortable with your city when you can mix up local ingredients (marzipan & müsli) with a classic recipe (cookie bars). Toss in some ghee and you’ve got yourself a funky, unexpected drool-inducer.

Yield: one 9×13 pan

Ingredients

Crust

  • 200g marzipan
  • 230g flour (1 3/4 cups)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 65g sugar (1/3 cup)
  • 125g butter (keep it cold and slice into chunks) – I prefer Sauerrahmbutter, but I guess regular butter could do (in a pinch)

Topping

  • 105g müsli (1 1/3 cup) – could sub rolled oats
  • 125g butter – see the note on Sauerrahmbutter above (I said we were tossing in ghee right?)
  • 100g sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (or 1-2 vanilla pods)
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded coconut
  • 200g chocolate chips
  • a handful of chopped dried fruits, e.g. figs, dates, or apricots
  • powdered sugar, to finish

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 175 C.
  2. Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper.
  3. Combine the crust ingredients in a bowl and knead it well. The dough will be very crumbly at first, but keep at it, and it’ll come together promptly. You don’t have to make it extremely smooth – the butter chunks should not be too well incorporated in the dough (channel your pie crust making skills).
  4. Press the crust evenly into the pan with your fingers, and let it come up the sides by about 1/4 inch.
  5. Bake the crust for 20-30 minutes, or until it’s lightly golden.
  6. Meanwhile in a saucepan on the stove, melt the butter over medium heat. Do not be tempted to turn this to high heat because it will burn quickly. Pay attention to the water escaping as it’s heated (bubbly noises). Once the bubbly noises taper off, some of the milk solids in the butter will start to brown. Only let it brown a little – take it off the heat.
  7. Stir in the sugar and salt. Let this cool for 10 minutes.
  8. Stir in the eggs and vanilla to the butter mix.
  9. Combine the gooey filling with the müsli, chocolate, coconut, and dried fruit (if using).
  10. Evenly spread the filling over the parbaked crust.
  11. Bake for another 15-20 minutes.
  12. Once cool, you can cut the bars and dust with the powdered sugar.
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Panettone

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On one of our recent trips to Milan, we discovered this delicious holiday fruit bread. It’s a classic Italian Christmas staple. Strangely, it was priced pretty high as far as fruit breads go, so I decided to try making it at home to see what the fuss was about. It’s quite a bit of time (mostly waiting for the dough to rise), but not more work than making normal bread or pizza dough – definitely worth it to make at home. My favorite part is the candied orange peels. Normally, this is made with a special deep cake form so that the Panettone poufs over the top, but I used a 20 cm springform cake pan instead (who has time to get a special pan for one dish?).

Ingredients

Starter

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/16 tsp instant yeast
  • 1/3 cup cool water

Dough

  • all of the starter (above)
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp instant yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 50 g butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Delicious chunks (mix and match the fruits to your preference)

  • 2 tbsp orange zest (can substitute lemon zest)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup slivered dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup candied orange peels
  • 1/2 cup slivered prunes
  • 1/2 cup slivered dates

Directions

  1. Knead together the starter ingredients and cover in a bowl to rest overnight (8-12 hours).
  2. Combine all the dry dough ingredients in a large bowl: flour, salt, sugar.
  3. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
  4. In another bowl, mix together the yeast water, eggs, butter, and vanilla.
  5. Add all of the starter to the wet mixture and start kneading the flour mix in thirds.
  6. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 90 minutes.
  7. Knead in the fruits and zest.
  8. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a pan to rest for another hour.
  9. Bake at 205 C for 10 minutes.
  10. Reduce the heat to 190 C and bake for another 10 minutes.
  11. Reduce the heat to 175 C, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 25 minutes.
  12. Allow it to cool completely before cutting.

 

Choco Coco Peanut Butter Dates

This is my first vegan dessert, and it turned out amazing the first time I made it. How many times can I claim wild success the first time I make something? (Answer: once) If I were to imagine what a “healthy” snickers bar should taste like, it would be these chocolate covered dates. And the best part is that there is no baking involved whatsoever! Actually the best part is the leftover peanut butter mousse – it is top notch on apples, celery, toast… the list goes on.

Yield: 33 chocolate covered dates

Ingredients

  • 300 g dates
  • 64 g crunchy peanut butter (about 1/2 cup)
  • 150 g dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 can of coconut milk, refrigerated overnight

Directions

  1. Scoop out the fat in the coconut milk can (it will have separated from the liquid).
  2. Whip the coconut cream vigorously for a minute.
  3. Fold in the peanut butter and continue whipping.
  4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. While you wait, melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a small saucepan or in a double boiler.
  6. Pit the dates. I made a small slice down the length of each date to remove the pit – without the pit, the dates could still be smooshed back together. I did not cut through the date completely.
  7. Fill the empty cavity in the dates with the peanut butter mousse and smoosh them back to their original shape.
  8. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  9. Dip the dates in chocolate. Place them on the parchment paper. A fork is very useful for this part.
  10. If it’s cold outside, put the dates outside to set. Otherwise, put them in the refrigerator. This took around 30 minutes.

Chocolate Turtle Cookies

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This is is the cookie to end all cookies, although I have no idea what turtles have to do with it. The memory of eating this cookie for the very first time is seared into my brain. Some foods are just like that – I can vividly remember the very first time I tried this cookie in my high school cafeteria. Yup, this cookie brings back those kinds of memories.

Yields: 13 large cookies or 26 smallish cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 100 g butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans (I have also tried walnuts and they work too)
  • 1/8 cup milk
  • 80 g soft caramel candies diced into very small cubes

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 175 C
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda
  3. In another large bowl, mix the wet ingredients: melted butter, sugar, egg, vanilla extract, milk
  4. Add the flour mixture to the bowl with wet ingredients in thirds
  5. Fold in the caramel candies and the chopped nuts
  6. Form the dough into small balls and lay them out on a cookie sheet
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes (Around minute 8, I will press them down with a spoon to flatten them a little)

Cinnamon coffee cake

Soft, fluffy, buttery goodness – who can resist this, especially in the morning with a steamy cup of coffee? Extra bonus: you probably already have all these ingredients somewhere in your kitchen.

Servings: one standard size loaf pan

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 50 g melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla or 1 vanilla bean
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 1 egg

Topping

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 50 g melted butter

Glaze

  • 1 tsp vanilla or 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk

Directions

  1. Separately mix the wet and dry ingredients for the cake. Make sure you sift the dry stuff well (saves you the headache of lumpy batter later)
  2. Slowly add the dry cake mix into the wet mix, folding well.
  3. Preheat the oven to 175 C
  4. Pour the batter into a greased and floured loaf pan
  5. Prepare the topping by mixing all the ingredients well
  6. Pour the topping over the batter, and swirl with a knife
  7. Bake for 40 minutes
  8. While the cake is still warm, pour the glaze over it. The glaze will harden somewhat when the cake is completely cooled

Sooji

This popular south Indian dessert is one of my favorites. I like adding extra cashews to it.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of upma or sooji rava
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup of split cashews
  • 1/4 cup of raisins
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup of butter or ghee
  • a pinch of saffron

Directions

  1. Toast the cashews and raisins, then set them aside
  2. Melt the butter in a skillet, and toast the rava
  3. Once the rava is a golden color, add the water and mix well.
  4. Lower the heat, and let the rava absorb the water. Stir occasionally.
  5. Once the water is fully absorbed, add the sugar. Stir well.
  6. Add the saffron and cardamom
  7. Remove from heat, and top with the cashews and raisins