Completely nuts! No-flour chocolate & nuts cookies

Tis the season… One of the best things about the most magical time of the year are Christmas cookies. Nothing beats a cozy afternoon when the snow is falling outside your window and you enjoy wonderful moments with your loved ones nibbling on cookies and drinking hot chocolate with marshmallows. What makes me most happy is that my cookies are stored in a big acorn cookie jar which we got on our most recent trip to the US. So not only is it home to some tasty treats, it also makes me think about to the great memories we made.

This cookie recipe consists of two types of nuts and chocolate, but no flour. You will get a batch of 25 cookies.

Ingredients img_20171204_114320_008-607965785.jpg

  • 2 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup (150 grams) of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg
  • ¼ cup (50 grams) of chocolate shavings
  • ½ cup (100 grams) of ground hazelnuts
  • ½ cup (100 grams) of ground almonds
  • ¼ cup (50 grams) of melted chocolate for dipping

Start by beating the egg white until it is stiff. Then add sugar and vanilla sugar and blend it in, while continuing to stir it with an electric mixer. Afterwards let the chocolate shavings join the mix and slowly add the ground hazelnuts and almonds. Now your dough is basically done. Use your hands to form a roll about 5 centimeters or 1,5 inches wide. Wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in the fridge or a couple of hours. Thereby you allow the dough to harden, to it is easier to cut off your cookies slices. Each cookie should ideally be 5-7 millimeters thick. Place them on a backing tray laid out with backing paper and back bake them for about 12 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees Celsius/ 390 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the cookies are out of the oven, melt the chocolate. Meanwhile the cookies have time to cool down a bit. Dip them halfway in the chocolate and let them dry.

Enjoy.

(Low sugar) Pumpkin Pie

The American Thanksgiving is one of the most wonderful holidays. You gather around a dinner table full of delicious food with your family or friends. You chat, you drink, you eat, you are having a wonderful time. You think about all the positive that happened over the last year and be grateful. Plus thanksgiving sort of is the kick starter for the Christmas season. Hence the Sunday after Thanksgiving is usually the day, when we get our Christmas tree.

One of the classic, essential Thanksgiving side dishes – at least for me – is pumpkin pie. And while they are usually pretty delicious, I prefer them a little less sweet and am not really a fan of ginger, so I came up with my own recipe, which I want to share with you guys today.

Ingredients img_20171125_161930_3481852619295.jpg

  • Ready-made short crust pastry
  • 30 ounces (850 grams) of pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 cup of milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons of vanilla sugar
  • 1½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • ½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of ground garlic

You read that right – ready-made crust. I am usually too lazy to also make a crust from scratch, as I believe that a short crust pastry from the store is as tasty as a homemade one. Plus, the filling is the star anyways. The prep work for this one is fairly easy. You just mix all the ingredients together in a big bowl, till everything is blended together nicely. Then you spread out the crust pie in a buttered 12-inch form. Fill it with our pumpkin mix and cook it in the oven at 165 degrees Celsius (330 degrees Fahrenheit) for 1 hour. Let it cool down for 30 to 45 minutes and serve it with whipped cream and a smile. Enjoy!

P.S. if you feel like making the crust from scratch, you would need 75 gr of sugar, 150 gr of cold butter, 225 gr flour, 1 egg, a pinch of salt. Mix all the ingredients untill you have a smooth dough. Let the dough rest in the fridge for approx. 20 minutes. Roll out the dough using a bit of flour to make sure it does not stick to the surface. Place and spread out the dough in a 12-inch form.

Scones, scones, scones

Scones are a wonderful treat. Whether you serve them as an afternoon snack or have them for lunch, they are simply amazingly tasty. And so diverse, as you can have them as a sweet or savory option and no matter which one you choose, you will always be happy. Each of the two options here makes 8 scones.

Ingredients for traditional sconesIMG_20170809_201832_132

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (55 grams) of cold butter
  • 5 teaspoons of backing powder
  • 2/3 cup (150 ml) of milk
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • Mix of 1 egg yolk with 1-2 tablespoons of milk to spread on scones before baking

Ingredients for cheese scones

  • 1 ¾ cups of all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons (40 grams) of cold butter
  • 5 teaspoons of baking powder
  • ½ cup (100 ml) of milk
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon of mustard
  • ¼ cup (60 grams) of sharp cheddar
  • Mix of 1 egg yolk with 1-2 tablespoons of milk to spread on scones before baking

Pre-heat the oven to 180° C/350° F. Mix all the ingredients until your dough is well-blended – for the cheese scones make sure you first add everything except the cheese, and only knead it in last. Then roll out your dough until it is about 2 cm (0.8”) thick. Since I don’t own a pastry cutter, I use a normal water glass to cut out my scones so they get the typical round form. If you are less concerned with a picture-perfect look, simply cutting the dough with a knife into squares or triangles is absolutely fine as well. Place your scones on baking paper and spread your yolk-milk mix on top. Let them bake in the oven for approximately 15 minutes. Now your scones should have a golden brown color and be nicely puffed.

Serve them with whipped or clotted cream and strawberry jam (for a recipe for a homemade version, click here). The cheese version is super tasty combined with a chutney or simply with a bit of butter.

Strawberry jam

It is no miracle that strawberry jam is so incredibly popular around the globe. Hardly anything tastes so much like summer like this. So I decided, I will use the opportunity that you can currently pick fresh strawberries on the fields near Cologne and make a new batch of my favorite homemade jam. I love making my own jam, as you can regulate the amount of sugar and the taste is so much more intense. Another plus: have you ever noticed the amount of ingredients listed on an average strawberry jam jar? Incredible. I adhere to the „less is more“ principle with this simple recipe with a mere 3 ingredients. They are really all you need. The strawberry is the queen, let her shine by not drawing too much attention to a broad variety of things that are supposedly needed to make jam taste good and last longer.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds (500 grams) of strawberries
  • 1 cup (250 grams) of canning sugar
  • ½ lemon (make sure you use an organic one)
  • add a bit of vanilla if you like

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After thoroughly washing the strawberries, cut them into smaller chunk and make sure to remove all stems. Place them in a pot and add canned sugar (and vanilla, if you like). Rinse the lemon well and grate some peel of ½ lemon. Then squeeze it and add the juice and the peel to the strawberries and the sugar. Let everything simmer medium heat for one hour (give or take). Make sure to regularly stir. Then let the jam cook on high temperature of approx. 5 minutes until a foam forms on top. Scoop the foam out of the pot and set aside (it won’t be used for the jam itself, though some people like to use it for baking).

After this, you will face a difficult choice: to purify or not to purify. If you prefer to remind yourself that „yes“ this is a real fruit and you like a few fruit bits in your jam, you can skip the next step. If you are more in the line of thinking „the smoother, the better“, pour the jam in a blender. Congratulations, you made your own jam. Now all that’s left for you to do is to fill it into jars. To make sure, the jars are clean and perfectly hygienic, put them in the dish washer beforehand and fill them with you jam shortly after the washing cycle ended, when the glass is still warm. If you store your jam at a cool, darker spot, it can be conserved like this for up to 2 years. Pro tip: this is also a perfect present idea. I always give away something homemade for Christmas for example. 2015 it was this strawberry jam.

Oreo Macarons

Macarons are the queens of sweet treats. A little taste of heaven. They make for the perfect dessert, as they are an ideal union of the slightly crunchy and soft cream textures/flavors. Whenever I eat one, it reminds me of my college year abroad in France. We all know the standard version with chocolate ganache, vanilla, raspberry, you name it. But how about Oreos? After all, they are sort of following a similar “design.” I asked myself this precise question and came to the conclusion that this is something I should definitely get onto. So this is my take on Oreo macarons. This recipe makes approx. 35 macarons.

Ingredients

  • 4 medium-sized egg whites20170617_123839
  • 20 Oreo cookies
  • 1 ¼ cups (255 grams) of powdered sugar
  • 1 cup (110 grams) of almond flour/grounded almonds
  • ¼ teaspoon of either cream de tartar or baking powder
  • 1 cup (200 grams) of sugar
  • 60 grams of butter
  • 7,5 ounces (200 grams) of cream cheese

Beat the egg white until stiff, then add the ¼ cup (55grams) powdered sugar through a sieve and mix in the baking powder or cream of tartar. Then mix the sugar with the almond flour in a separate bowl until no large chunks are left. Add the sugar-almond mixture to the egg white. Then separate the Oreo cookie shells and scrape out the filling. Ground the Oreo shells and add them to your base mix. Now we are all set.

To make sure the macarons are all more or less the same size and have a very even round form, I highly recommend getting a silicone macaron sheet (like this, if you are in Germany or this if you are in the US). Place about ½ to 1 teaspoon on each of the round circles of the mat. Bake them in the oven at 290 degrees Fahrenheit / 145 degrees Celsius for approx. 15 min.

While the first batch of macaron shells is in the oven, we have plenty of time to prepare our filling. Mix the original Oreo cookie filing with the butter (make sure it is at room temperature). Once blended in, mix in the cream cheese and then sieve in the remaining powdered sugar.

Keep the filling in the fridge until the shells have cooled down. Once that is the case, spread 1 teaspoon of the cream onto a shell and cover it up with another. And voilà… your first macaron is now ready! Whether you indulge right away or keep them in the fridge for a while is down to the strength of your mental capacities and will power. Mine is weak. But then again a little quality testing doesn’t hurt, right?

Enjoy!

Protein Peanut Butter Cups

We all want to eat healthy, but might crave a sweet treat after a workout or just because. Wouldn’t it be awesome if this moment of indulgence could still be healthy? The good news is: it can. Even with something as naughty as peanut butter cups. Here is how. The recipe below is good for ten peanut butter cups.

Ingredients

  • 6 scoops / 150 grams of chocolate-flavored protein powder (see product recommendation below)
  • 6 tablespoons / 80 grams of unrefined coconut oil
  • 6 ounces / 170ml of water
  • 6 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter

Mix the protein powder, coconut butter and water in a bowl and place half of it evenly into 6 silicone cupcake baking forms. Use silicone ones, as it makes the job of getting the cups out of their form much easier. Let it chill in the freezer for 10 minutes, till the mixture has hardened. Then spread 1 tablespoon of peanut butter onto each of the cups as a second layer. Place it in the freezer again for another 10 minutes. Afterwards, fill the remaining half of the protein powder mix into the cups to create the top layer. Let it rest in the freezer for approximately 45 minutes. Congratulations, your protein peanut butter cups are now ready to be served! Any treats that you want to keep for later should remain stored in the freezer. So yes, sadly this probably wouldn’t work as a ‘take to work’ snack, as the cups might melt on the way, but they are just perfect for an evening treat at home on your porch or balcony.

A last few words regarding the protein powder. We always use the products of Myprotein, simply because they are one of the few brands that do not overload their products with sugar. This is a very important aspect. Plus, they don’t compromise on taste. So you get yourself set up for a win-win-situation with this one. We usually use the stevia one, but I can also highly recommend the peanut butter chocolate flavor they offer.

Shopping links for German readers:

Shopping links for American readers:

Oreo Cake

It’s my fiancés birthday today and every year I bake him a birthday cake. He loves Oreos so this year’s choice was an easy one to make: a moist Oreo cake.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (100 grams) of flourIMG_20170525_130142_295
  • ¼ cup (30 grams) of baking cacao
  • ¾ cup (150 grams) of sugar
  • ½ cup (100 grams) of sour cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup (75 ml) of vegetable oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2/3 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla aroma
  • 3 cups (600 ml) of heavy cream
  • 48 Oreo cookies

For the dough, mix flour, cacao, the egg, oil, ½ cup (100 grams) of sugar, sour cream salt, baking soda and 1 tablespoon of vanilla aroma until smooth. Butter a round 9 inch cake pan (23 cm) and pour the dough into it. Bake it in the oven at 350 °F / 175 °C for approximately 20 mins.

Meanwhile whisk the heavy cream until it is stiff and firm. Mix in the remaining sugar and place it in the fridge. Then chop the Oreo cookies into small bits and fold them into the cream. This should give your cream a slightly chocolaty color, the smaller you chopped the cookies, the darker it will get. Then put the mix back into the fridge until the cake has cooled down enough (approx. for one hour).

When that’s the case, cut your cake in half horizontally. Then stack the lower half on your cake plate and apply 1/3 of the cream. Spread it out evenly on the cake and then place the second level on top. Apply the remaining 2/3 of the cream and spread it out evenly on top and on the sides. As for decoration I got colored black sugar and cut 2 of the Oreo cookies in half and used 3 halfs on top. Let your cake rest in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.

Enjoy!

Fudgy glutenfree brownies with black beans

We can’t fool ourselves. Brownies mean indulgence. They certainly don’t mean diet-friendly food. However there are definitly ways to make them a little bit healthier without sacrificing on taste. By using black beans instead of flour, we can lower the amount of carbs in our brownies, plus we also load them with fiber. And by using dark chocolate, we get a few health benefits thanks to the high cacao percentage. Cacao contains flavanols. The higher the percentage in your chocolate, the more of this substance you get. Now why should that matter to you: flavanols help lowering blood pressure for instance and supports your vascular system and the flexibility of your blood vessels so that oxygen and nutrients can be delivered through your body more easily. So this brownie is certainly a little less sweet than the classic version. But we don’t compromise on the fudginess and it is still damn delicious.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (400 g) of black beansIMG_20170523_100449_408
  • 5 ounces (100g) of dark chocolate (make sure you get 50% cacao or more, though the higher you go, the more you sacrfice on sweetness)
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • ½ cup (100g) of sugar
  • ½ cup (120 ml) of milk
  • 1 handful of walnuts or pecan nuts
  • Butter for the baking dish

Start with this recipe the night before – or if you plan on baking your brownie in the afternoon, start in the morning – by soaking the beans in water and let them rest for 8-10 hours. If you want to spare yourself this task and save the time, get the canned version and make sure you rinse and drain them well. Use a blender to mash up the beans.

Melt the chocolate and mix it with the blended black beans. Add sugar, backing powder, oil, milk and eggs. Depending on your personal taste preference, you might want to add vanilla aroma or cinnamon as well. Continue by choping the walnuts and stiring them into the dough. Butter a baking dish and heat up your oven to 350 F/ 175 C. Bake the brownies for approximately 25-30 min.

If you want to book yourself a ticket to food heaven, have your brownie with vanilla icecream while they are still warm. Yummy.

Naked Red Velvet Cake With Cream Cheese Icing

img_20161106_115201When I first had red velvet cake, I instantly fell in love with it. A taste of heaven. Unfortunately it is one of the things that sadly didn’t make its way over the pond yet. So if you want to have some, you have to make it yourself. But brace yourself, this is far from being diet-friendly.

Ingredients

  • 2,5 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of softened butter
  • 1,5 cups of sugar
  • 1 cup of buttermilk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of red food coloring
  • 2 tablespoons of cacao powder
  • 1 pack of vanilla sugar (2 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 2 cups of cream cheese
  • 1 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 teaspoon of rum extract
  • 4 tablespoons of strawberry jam
  • 4 tablespoons of white chocolate chips

Pre-heat the oven at 175 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the bottom and the sides of a 7 inches/18 centimeter backing form with parchment paper. Make sure the parchment paper is 2 inches/5 centimeters higher than your form. Blend the sugar and the butter until the mixture is creamy. Add the eggs, the red food coloring and the cacao powder. After this is all blended in smoothly, add the buttermilk and the flour, followed by the vanilla sugar, the salt and the vanilla extract. Mix the baking powder and the baking soda in a separate small bowl and then add it to the cake dough. Fill the dough into the baking form and bake for approximately 30-40 minutes.

I use the time while the cake is in the oven to prepare the icing. For that, scratch the vanilla out of the bean and mix it with the cream cheese in a bowl. Add the powdered sugar and the rum extract and blend it until the texture is creamy and smooth. Leave the icing in the fridge till the cake is ready.

Make sure the cake has cooled down completely before proceeding. Then cut it horizontally with a large kitchen knife so that you get 3 evenly high layers of cakes. The bigger the knife, the easier it will be for you to get a clean and even cut. If your cake comes out of the oven with a little bit of a round top, cut the top part so that it is as even as possible. Then place the first layer on the cake plate and spread 2 tablespoons of the jam on it. Then add the cream cheese icing and spread it out more or less evenly. Drizzle 2 table spoons of chocolate chips on top. Then place your next layer on top and repeat. When your third layer is on your cake, spread the remaining icing on the cake and cover it evenly.