November 17th, 2011
When we were in Fiumefreddo in Sicily we walked up to the main “Via” (road) in the town after breakfast and had a coffee at Bar Elite. This like almost every other experience in Fiumefreddo is a family affair. Isidoro, who is the manager of the bar is related to my husband who is also named Isidoro. Don’t get me started on how many Isidoros there are! He is actually the double for my brother in law Bruno. I have this strange feeling of love towards him even though I have only met him twice, partly because he looks like my brother in law and partly because he is such a nice man. I am not kidding when I say like almost every other experience it is a family affair. Whenever we went for a walk someone would come up to my husband and embrace him and be introduced to me as yet another relative! If they aren’t a relative they are very good friends of the family. We would order a coffee and then try and decide what delightful dolce to indulge in. So many on offer, so hard to choose. It’s only a small town and yet all the Cafés or Bars are filled with dolce. I am not sure who eats them all? We ended up with a favourite called Toto. A spiced chocolate ball with a glossy icing. When I returned to Paris I found a recipe and changed it a little and made my own. I had trouble getting the cookies to stay in the ball shape but they tasted just as good as the ones at Bar Elite.
Recipe for Italian Toto Cookies
3 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa
¾ tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp allspice
1/3 tsp cloves
½ tsp cinnamon
¾ cup butter
1 cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla
½ cup chopped walnuts nuts
Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, allspice, cloves and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar. In another bowl beat eggs. Stir eggs into creamed mixture with vanilla. Stir in flour mixture, then nuts. Form into 1 inch balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. Prepare glaze. Frost cookies while still warm.
1 cup icing sugar
¾ tsp vanilla
1 tbsp milk
Combine sugar and vanilla. Stir in milk a little at a time until of spreading consistency. Put cookie into glaze and turn around until completely covered. Let rest somewhere cool until icing is hard.
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July 7th, 2011
“Why Mexican?” I can hear you asking. It is because they have a spicy bite to them like most Mexican food.
This is due to the chilli and cinnamon that is added to the mixture. You can be as heavy-handed as you like with these spices.
If you only put a little you will wish you put more next time. Mexican Hot Chocolates have become quite popular and there are some great brands you can buy and make at home. Whenever I think of Mexico I think of a cartoon I watched when I was young.
It was called Speedy Gonzales and the little mexican mouse was always saying “Andale! Andale Ariba Ariba!”
I went to Mexico once, but I will not judge the whole country on that visit. I just popped over the border from California to a little town called Tijuana.
It was very touristy and I didn’t enjoy my visit. I was saddened by the people lining up at the border. However I have seen gorgeous places in Mexico that one day I would love to visit. Then of course there is the food! My whole family love real Mexican Food not Tacos from a box.
Well Andale Andale! Let’s get a move on and make these cookies.
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch Process cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 cup of unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Generous pinch of ground black pepper
- Generous pinch of cayenne pepper (Remeber be a bit heavy-handed or you won’t taste the bite!)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine the flour, cocoa, soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix thoroughly . Set aside. Combine the sugars in a small bowl and mix well with fingers pressing out any lumps.
In a medium mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add cinnamon, cayenne and black peppers, and vanilla. Beat on high speed for about one minute. Beat in egg white. Stop the mixer. Add the flour mixture. Beat on low speed just until incorporated. Gather the dough together with your hands and chill at least 45 minutes, or until needed.
Place oven racks in the upper and lower third of the oven preheat to 170 C degrees. Line cookie sheet with baking paper.
Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls and place evenly on the trays. Then press each cookie down.
Bake 12 to 14 minutes. Rotate baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back about halfway through. Cookies will puff and crackle on top, and then begin to settle down slightly when done. Allow cookies to cool completely before storing or stacking. Store in an airtight container up to two weeks, or freeze up to 2 months.
I have entered the Lurpak competition and would really appreciate it if you voted for me. Thank you
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April 23rd, 2011
Almond Bread has been one of the treats I have made for years. It is a great way to use up egg whites that are left over. It is not as difficult to make as biscotti and can be made with any nuts you choose. This time I made it with almonds and callebaut cocoa nibs from Black Pearl Epicure. These delicious crispy biscuits can be served with ice cream or coffee. The trick is to slice them very thinly before they go back into the oven for the second time. You can even make them into a savoury biscuit by adding oregano and parmesan cheese. They store in an airtight jar for ages. I hope you enjoy making them.
3 egg whites
1/2 cup of sugar (this can be increased if you prefer them a bit sweeter)
1 cup (4oz) of plain four
1 cup (5 oz) of roasted almonds. ( to do this you place the almonds on the tray in a moderate oven for ten minutes)
1/2 cup of callbaut cocoa nibs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Beat the egg whites until stiff without being dry. Continue beating adding the sugar gradually. Continue beating until the mixture is thick and glossy. Using a metal spoon fold in the almonds, Callebaut cocoa nibs, flour and vanilla essence. Turn into a well greased loaf tin.
Bake for 30 mins until pale and golden.
Leave to cool in the pan and then wrap in foil and put in the fridge overnight. This helps with the slicing the following day.
Next day , cut into thin slices and place on a baking rack or a tray with baking paper.
Bake in a preheated oven at 150 degrees until pale golden and crispy. Cool and store in an airtight container.
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