eat in my kitchen

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Tag: hazelnut

Persimmon Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies

Persimmon Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies

Around this time last year, I came up with a recipe that took my beloved persimmons and turned them into streusel bars – it was nothing less than divine. I’m a huge fan of this gorgeous fruit, especially when it’s overly ripe, soft as jelly and honey-sweet. To use it in Christmas baking is tricky, as it can easily get lost under spices and butter, it needs a balanced composition that allows its fine fruitiness to shine.

When I last bought a bunch of persimmons from my local vegetable man, I could have just turned them into another batch of streusel bars. But I love creating new traditions and I decided to challenge myself to come up with a new persimmon Christmas cookie recipe every year. So in 2016, I’m celebrating my young tradition with a cookie classic, jam filled thumbprint cookies, called Husarenkrapfen in German. The buttery shortcrust is refined with hazelnuts, cinnamon, and vanilla – at least in my kitchen. The fruity filling in the middle is usually red, made of red currants or raspberries. But as I looked at the orange coloured fruits on my kitchen table, I decided to purée and cook the pulp of a persimmon with a generous amount of vanilla to enhance its flavour. It’s an unfussy jam, a spoonful of honey, just a tablespoon of sugar, and 5 minutes on the heat. Perfect for my slightly nutty Husarenkrapfen.

Happy 2nd Advent!

Persimmon Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies

 

Persimmon Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies

Persimmon Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies

You can either bake the cookies filled with the jam or bake the plain cookies first and drop a dollop of the jam into the holes once they are cool (which I prefer). It looks prettier and the taste of the fruit is more present.

Makes about 50 cookies

For the dough

plain flour 300g / 2 1/3 cups
ground hazelnuts 100g / 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
baking powder 1/2 teaspoon
ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon
fine sea salt 1/8 teaspoon
butter, soft, 150g / 2/3 cup
granulated sugar 130g / 2/3 cup
vanilla bean, split and scraped, 1/2
organic eggs 2

For the jam filling

large ripe persimmon, peeled, 1 (250g / 9 ounces)
vanilla bean, split and scraped, 1/2
honey 1 teaspoon
granulated sugar 1 tablespoon

icing sugar, for dusting

For the dough, in a large bowl, combine the flour, hazelnuts, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla seeds until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix well in between. Add the flour mixture, change to the hook attachment, and mix until combined. The dough will be quite soft. Scrape onto a long layer of cling film, form a thick disc, wrap it, and put in the freezer for about 25 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350 (preferably convection setting). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

For the jam, purée the persimmon and vanilla seeds in a blender or food processor. Transfer to a small saucepan, stir in the honey and sugar, and bring to the boil. Cook over medium-high heat, it should be bubbling, stirring once in a while, for about 4 minutes or until it starts to thicken. Set aside and let the jam cool.

Cut off a slice off the dough, roll into a sausage shape, and cut off pieces, keep the remaining dough in the fridge. Using your hands, roll the pieces into 3cm / 1 1/4″ balls. Press the end of a wooden spoon into the middle of each ball, pushing almost through to the bottom and leaving only a thin layer at the bottom of the cookie (otherwise the holes might close during baking). Transfer to the lined baking sheets and bake, one sheet after the other, for about 14 minutes or until golden. Let the cookies cool completely, then fill with the persimmon jam and dust with icing sugar.

If you want to store the cookies in a cookie box, I recommend adding the jam filling before serving. They become a bit softer after a day if they are filled and it’s also easier to store them without the filling.

Persimmon Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies

 

Persimmon Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies

 

Persimmon Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies

 

Persimmon Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies

 

Persimmon Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies

Marilena’s Milk Pan di Campobasso, a traditional Dolci del Molise

Milk Pan di Campobasso

I have wonderful news, eat in my kitchen is in the final of the Kitchn’s “Best Daily Read Cooking Blog” together with nine other blogs! Thank you for your support and help to come so far!

It would be great if you could vote (one last time, I promise) for the final vote of the “Best Daily Read Cooking Blog” here.

A few weeks ago a very sweet lady, Marilena, got in touch with me. It was the day I wrote about Mussel with Ginger, Lemon Grass and Coriander and we got to talking about seafood recipes, cakes and olive oil. At one point she asked me if I would like to try one of her cake recipes, the Milk Pan di Campobasso.

Marilena lives in Italy in the Molise region (in the Campobasso province) which is north-east of Napoli. She loves to bake, beautifully decorated cakes for weddings and special events and she produces her own olive oil, Marilena has 300 olive trees! She already sent me some of her wonderful extra virgin olive oil which is divine, a few drops on fresh bread and some salt, delicious!

So finally I baked her cake, Marilena’s Milk Pan di Campobasso. I was excited, it’s a special recipe, a traditional Dolci del Molise and it required a few preparations. First I had to get a special liqueur, the Italian Strega (meaning “witch”) which is a herbal liqueur produced since 1860, bright yellow made with saffron, mint and fennel. I ordered it and when it arrived I prepared the “liqueur milk”. A mixture made of milk, Strega liqueur, sugar, saffron, vanilla and lemon peel which has to sit overnight, it gives the Milk Pan its typical taste and yellow colour. The cake is baked in a dome cake tin, it’s very juicy, a bit moist but still light. It is covered with a glaze of nocciola cream, a hazelnut spread, mixed with white chocolate and sprinkled with hazelnuts. It’s hard to describe the taste, it’s the taste of Italy, wonderfully  sweet and aromatic, with a slight hint of saffron which is a great match to the hazelnuts. I love it, thank you Marilena!

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Milk Pan di Campobasso

For this cake you need a 1 liter dome cake tin (mine is ceramic, you can also use a metal one).

 For the liqueur milk

I made more liqueur milk than I needed for the cake as I want to use it for other dessert recipes as well. You will need around 50ml (one espresso cup) of this mixture for the cake.

milk 50ml
sugar 50g / 2 ounces
Strega liqueur 50ml
(you can also use another herbal liqueur with fennel and saffron)
a tiny pinch of saffron
the seeds of 1cm / 1/2″ vanilla bean
a long strip of lemon peel

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, cover and let them infuse overnight.

 

For the hazelnut chocolate icing and topping

white chocolate 150g / 5 ounces
nocciola cream (hazelnut spread) 2 big tablespoons
sunflower oil 2 tablespoons plus more for mixing
hazelnuts, chopped, 3 tablespoons or more if you like, for topping

In a sauce pan, melt the chocolate on low temperature and stir in the hazelnut spread and oil. It should be smooth and liquid, if it’s not liquid enough you will have to add a little more oil.

 

For the cake

butter, soft, 150g / 5.5 ounces
sugar 150g / 5.5 ounces
organic eggs 3
pinch of salt
plain flour 80g / 3 ounces
potato starch 80g / 3 ounces
baking powder 1/2 teaspoon
liqueur milk 1 espresso cup (around 50ml)

Set the oven to 180°C / 355°F ( (fan-assisted oven), butter the dome cake tin and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt till stiff. Combine the flour, potato starch and baking powder. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar till fluffy, add the egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in the dry ingredients and the liqueur milk and continue mixing until well combined. Gently fold in the egg whites.

Scrape the dough carefully into the prepared tin and bake until golden. Check with a skewer, it should come out clean. Marilena told me to check it after 30 minutes, mine needed 55 minutes. The baking time depends on the shape, size and material of  your tin.

Let the cake cool (I put the tin in cold water which makes it easier to take the cake out), carefully flip it over on a big plate and ice it with the hazelnut chocolate icing. Sprinkle with hazelnuts and enjoy its beauty (and taste)!

Milk Pan di Campobasso

 

Milk Pan di Campobasso

 

Milk Pan di Campobasso

 

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