it’s peanuts!

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We all need that little treat sometimes. Something that soothes us, something that gives us some pleasure, something that rewards us for our achievements, something that shows us how special life is, something that we can look forward to.. something that simply puts a smile on our face. Often enough this something is accompanied by all these nutrition and diet warnings which tell you that what you are craving is not good for you. Well…. if you are craving it than it’s something you need, hence, good for you. Right? πŸ˜‰ If it makes you feel better than this can only be good for you. I am not talking about eating junk food the whole day and totally ignoring a healthy diet, but a little treat can only enhance the good mood and make the body produce endorphins.. win-win! When everything is in balance, nobody will say to stop eating some junk food from time to time. Plus, we all know how good chcocolate is for the body.. that’s when we like science.. when it points out all the good effects of chocolate consumption.
So, when people tell me that I am messing with their diet, just because I was baking again or making candy, this is what I say.. “Chocolate is healthy. It increases your level of endorphines and with that increases your well-being, reducing stress-related symptoms!” You can look it up πŸ™‚ There are tons of articles on the internet. Sure, nobody should overdo it.. the balance is what makes the difference.
I am one of those people who definitely can’t really find the balance when it comes to sweet stuff. I am craving for sugar basically all day and cannot stop eating when I should. Oh, well.. nobody is perfect πŸ˜‰ However, it doesn’t hurt to look for alternatives that make the over-consumption a little bit less harmful.
A couple of weeks ago I was visiting the US and was enjoying my peanut butter toast for breakfast every morning. We all know that peanut butter is not the healthiest thing in the world, but it is not that bad when you take the one without any additional ingredients…(right??) I like the natural peanut butter.. ingredients: peanuts. It always feels like it is not THAT bad.. might be just my feeling though πŸ˜‰ I could eat a whole jar at once.. I don’t think this is healthy, is it? I also like peanut butter cups (small portions of peanut butter.. better alternative than eating a whole jar), but there is milk in those you can buy at the store, so I don’t have them. When I came back from the US (a jar peanut butter in my suitcase.. how did that get in there? πŸ˜‰ ) I wanted to make some peanut butter cups myself. I made someΒ  for a friend a couple of months ago and she liked them, so I wanted to try it again. I melted some dark chocolate (we all know, the darker the healthier πŸ˜‰ ) and poured a teaspoon into the moulds of a mini-muffin pan, which I lined with paper cups before. After a few minutes in the fridge I took a teaspoon natural peanut butter and filled the chocolate cups. Finally, I covered the cups with another layer chocolate and decorated each one with a peanut (I only had the salty ones at home, so I washed them and let them dry before using) and let it cool in the fridge. Done!
It is really super easy and fast. The only two ingredients are chocolate and peanut butter. It sure is healthier than the ones you get at the store. It is vegan (when you use vegan chocolate), less sweet and absolutely amazing for those, who like sweet, but not too sweet. I didn’t get to eat many of them, ’cause my family liked them so much.. they were all gone very fast. If you are looking for something that is giving you the good feeling of a little treat, without all the artificial flavors, this is the right thing for you… and it is done within just a few minutes πŸ™‚
Now, excuse me, please.. I have to go.. I am craving for something sweet and selfmade. See you soon.. enjoy the sweetness of sundays!

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mission: winter-snow-like-feeling

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Sometimes I look into my kitchen cabinet and it is filled with all the different stuff for baking and I just look at it and ask myself: “When am I gonna use all that up?? I will have to pass all that to my children (I don’t have any)”.Β  I do realize that I have too much of stuff, but when I see something new in a store, I am the first to buy. Of course then again I am opening my cabinets and am surprised by all the flour, sugar, spices, baking soda and 100 kinds of different colored sugarpearls, excitedly greeting me and their new friends by falling on me πŸ™‚ Yeah.. it’s good to be home πŸ˜‰
And did you ever noticed how much new decorating stuff they sell for christmas? And did you also realize that during this time you not only want something that you didn’t have for the rest of the year, but also that you get an excuse with your shopping and baking madness? What a great time πŸ™‚

A couple of days ago I had no reason at all to go outside. I was sitting at home, doing some work and watching the raindrops slowly sliding down my window. Looking at this huge grey shield, which wouldn’t let the sun shine through even by an inch, my depression started to crawl up my whole body. I cannot stay inside the whole day.. even if it is raining. Plus, I remembered these nice decorating pearls and sugars at this store. I bought some red and green on my trip to the US a couple of weeks ago, but this one was blue and white.. and I could use some winter-snow-like-feeling. I took my little red umbrella and followed my mission “snowflake pralines”. I somehow also had a craving for hazelnut and nougat. I bought the decoration, chocolate, nougat and a package of whole hazelnuts. That is all you need for your pralines. I also had some white chocolate left at home for the decoration and I was good to go.
I took a couple of pictures during the process and hoped maybe this would make my explanations more clear, in case somebody wants to make those. Sorry for the quality though.. phone pictures πŸ˜‰

First I took an ice cube mold from Ikea (the same I used for the last pralines). I filled the spaces with praline paper cups, but didn’t press them down entirely. I wanted it to be more star shaped than flower shaped and that is what happens, when the paper cups stand out a little.

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I filled the paper cups with one teaspoon of melted dark chocolate. Make sure that the chocolate covers the entire inside of the paper cup. Then I put it into the freezer for a couple of minutes.

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Β 

Meanwhile I melted the nougat and added some vanilla and some rum (just a hint of both of them). Of course you can leave the nougat plain or add anything you like. I don’t have a recipe for this.. it’s just a spontaneous fun thing, so you can add whatever you want πŸ™‚ Next I put some hazelnuts into the nougat in order to cover them and put one hazelnut into each of the frozen chocolate cups. In some I put two, because I had too many, but they came out really good with two as well. Just find out what you like.

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After that, I filled some more nougat into the cups and filled them up, leaving a little space for the chocolate cover. I put the pralines into the freezer for another few minutes.

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Β 

I melted some more chocolate to cover the pralines. You need to jiggle the moulds a little to smooth the chocolate and get bubbles out. For the last time before decorating I let the pralines freeze.

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Β 

For the decoration I melted some white chocolate and followed the outlines of the pralines to draw white stars. Some I filled, others I left only with the frame. Be creative.
I decorated the pralines with the blue and white decoration I bought and let them dry.img_8893

I thought I would give them to my friends and family as an advent gift, but I didn’t have the chance to meet with my people, yet and I am afraid the pralines won’t last.. well, I guess I have to make new ones. I might experiment with the nougat filling and add some cinnamon or some other spice.. we will see πŸ™‚ And of course I will find another decoration.. or just take whatever falls into my hands next time I open the cabinets πŸ˜‰

little treats for the weekend

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You guys already know that I like to bake for friends and family and would take (almost) every opportunity to try a new recipe (or an old one that is almost forgotten). And when it is friday afternoon and a friend is coming over after a week full of stressfull work, it is even more fun to treat that friend with some sweets. Like yesterday πŸ™‚

A few weeks ago I was strolling through some stores (mostly home and decorating stuff ;)) and I found those adorable little cups… on sale πŸ™‚ YEY! Seriously, could I possibly have turned my back on these little cups when they were actually begging me with their little red price tags to take them home?? Of course, I had to adopt them and they found a new home in my cupboard waiting for their first mission.. which happened to be yesterday πŸ™‚

I am not a big fan of greasy food and so I never use butter or oil for my pans, but waxed paper. With these cups it is a little tricky, but I still insisted on not making them greasy, so I cut little squares and put them inside before starting with the batter. It actually looked really nice with the paper ( you don’t see it on the picture, cause I took it out after baking.. next time I might let it in. It adds a decorative touch to it).

And here is the recipe for the cakes in the cups:
2 eggs
160ml milk
75g melted butter
225g flour
175g sugar
1Tbs baking powder
1/2Tsp salt
8Tbs jam

1. Preheat oven to 200Β°C / 390Β°F
2. In a bowl, whisk the eggs. Add milk and butter. Whisk until well blended.
3. Add sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until dry ingredients are moist.
4. Put one Tbs batter in each cup.
5. Put one Tsp jam on top.
6. Cover the jam with rest of batter.
7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
8. Let cool completely.
9. For topping use.. whatever you like – frosting, melted chocolate, nothing… I used powdered sugar and lemon juice..for me the best topping on a cake like this πŸ™‚

I usually don’t eat all the stuff I am baking.. but I try once in a while and I can say that these are good πŸ™‚ Try them and let me know!
Btw. I think my little cups did a great job on their first try πŸ˜‰
Oh, of course you can use this recipe for standard cupcake pans as well πŸ™‚

A weekend treat wouldn’t be a real weekend treat with only one cake.. where is the choice? πŸ˜‰ The second treat you see on the picture are great and delicious meringues. Yummy πŸ™‚ Like I said, I usually don’t eat all I am baking…but here I have to say (blush) ….. they are almost all gone. I love the chewy center..and how they melt inside my mouth…I didn’t have those for such a long time that I forgot how good they are! And SO easy to make! I should stop writing about them, cause I am about to go to the kitchen and eat the rest of them πŸ˜‰ If you don’t like (basically) pure sugar with egg white.. don’t even try. But if you do….

100g sugar
2 egg whites
salt
a few drops lemon juice or vanilla

1. Beat the egg whites approx. 1min
2. Add sugar and mix until the mixture is stiff and a little glossy
3. With an icing bag put small “roses” on a baking tray (don’t forget the waxed paper πŸ˜‰ )
4. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours at 100Β°C / 215Β°F to 150Β°C /300Β°F (it depends a lot on your oven and how you like them. I left them in the oven for 1 1/2 hours at 125Β°C. They are a little golden and chewy in the middle, just the way I like them. You might need to adjust it a little for your own taste.. Just try it πŸ™‚ )

So, my stomach is happy and full of sugar πŸ˜‰ I think this is a good start of a weekend.

I hope you guys enjoy your weekend.. wherever you are. Have some tasty days πŸ™‚