21 July 2017


Cinnamon rolls and a tall glass of cold milk have the status of an iconic breakfast, a true classic loved by many. This is a slightly richer, extraordinary version of the famous rolls. With lots of cinnamon and chocolate, they make for a perfect breakfast, and a perfect sweet treat. The best part about them is that you can make them in the evening, let them slowly rise in the refrigerator overnight, then just remove and bake in the morning!
Perfect for busy mornings, or those lazy, hazy Sundays. They are also really great for picnics - just bake them in a disposable pan, and you can use it to transport them. You can adorn them with a drizzle of an icing of your choice, but as you know, I am not a fan of icings on cinnamon rolls, so I opted to serve them without it. And if you are feeling really jovial, you can serve them with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream!

For the cinnamon dough
400 grams plain flour
3 tablespoons icing sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dry yeast
120 grams vanilla yogurt
180 warm water
1 tablespoon oil
For the chocolate cinnamon filling
120 grams butter, softened
100 grams light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
200 grams cooking chocolate

Sift the flour into a large bowl, then sift in the icing sugar, add in the yeast and cinnamon, and whisk well. Make a hole in the centre, then pour in the lukewarm water, oil, and yogurt. Start mixing slowly with a wooden spoon (or a sturdy spatula) until a shaggy dough comes together. Proceed to knead it by hand for about 5 minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth and springy to the touch. If it sticks too much to your hands or the work surface, add a tiny bit of flour more.
Let it rest at room temperature for 10 minutes, then roll it out into a square (30x30 cm). Be patient with the dough, and if starts to shrink back, let it rest for a few more minutes. Spread the softened butter evenly on the dough, then sprinkle on the cinnamon. Evenly sprinkle the light brown sugar over the cinnamon, then evenly spread the chopped up chocolate.
Gently and evenly roll the dough up into a log, then slice it up into twelve equal rolls, and arrange them in a small baking pan (18x18 cm), lined with baking paper. Cover them snugly with cling film, and place them into the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. Next morning, or when you are ready to bake, remove the cling film, and let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, to warm up and rise slightly, then bake in a preheated oven, at 180°C (350°F), for 15-20 minutes. Yields 12 rolls.

14 July 2017


Raspberries and dark chocolate is one of the classics, and one of the most favourite flavour pairings in desserts. With an addition of rum, this combination becomes even better. Using fresh raspberries is maybe the crucial element in this dessert, because they give such an amazing burst of fresh flavours. And, since they are in season now, what better time to make this lovely sweet treat!
I do not recommend increasing the amount of rum, because it can be overpowering. You can increase the amount of Chambord, if you wish, though. And, you can very easily make these vegan, too, by using dairy-free butter, vegan yogurt, and an appropriate icing sugar.

For the brownies
100 grams dark chocolate
120 grams unsalted butter
200 grams granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon dark rum
5 tablespoons plain yogurt
150 grams plain flour
30 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
For the raspberry rum chocolate sauce
120 ml fresh raspberry purée
2 tablespoons cold water
100 grams granulated sugar
30 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon dark rum
To make the truffles
50 grams miniature chocolate chips, chopped finely
1 tablespoon freeze-dried raspberry powder
1 tablespoon Chambord liqueur

Start by cooking the syrup, because it needs a bit of time to cool down sufficiently. Place the sugar into a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Sift the cocoa powder to get rid of all the little lumps, then add it to the sugar and mix really well. Pour in the water, and the fruit puree, and mix it to combine. Place the saucepan over medium high heat and let it come to a boil without stirring.
Once it starts to boil, start the timer, and start whisking the sauce. You need to whisk because it can easily burn. Continue cooking and whisking for about 3 minutes, on medium heat, or until the sauce thickens. Remove it from the heat, add the rum, and stir well. It will still be runny when it's piping hot, so do not overcook it. Set the syrup aside and let it cool down to room temperature.
To make the brownies, start by melting together the butter and dark chocolate, over medium high heat, until smooth and combined. Remove it from the heat, and add in the sugar, vanilla, and rum. Mix well, and set it aside briefly. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and the baking soda, into a large bowl.

Pour over the chocolate batter, and mix it gently, then add the yogurt, and mix to combine. The batter will be thick. Line a small square pan (20x20 cm), add in the batter, level it as much as possible, then bake, in a preheated oven, at 180°C (350°F), for about 20 minutes. Check them with a toothpick to make sure they do not overbake. Once done, remove them from the heat, and then from the pan, and let them cool down to room temperature.
When the brownies are at room temperature, place them into a large bowl, and crumble them up using a fork. Add in the freeze-dried raspberry powder, liqueur, and the syrup you made earlier. Start mixing the batter by hand, by using a wooden spoon or a very sturdy spatula, then add the miniature chocolate chips, and mix everything well. If you wish, you can use a stand mixer for this, as well. Place the mixture in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, so it can firm up. Once it is ready, make the truffles by using a small scoop, and roll them into your desired topping. If the batter becomes too sticky, return it briefly to the refrigerator. Yields 25 truffles. © TINA VESIĆ
Baker's note: I chose a mixture of unsweetened cocoa powder, icing sugar, and desiccated coconut, but you can choose anything you like, that pairs well with raspberries.

07 July 2017


Beer is actually the world's oldest and also one of the most popular drinks, along with water and tea. Although beer can be used in sweet pastries, I usually use it in savoury ones. Primarily because those were the ones I started with, but also because I like how it pairs with sauces and stews. When baking with beer, the dough tends to be very flaky, with much less used fat, and I like that texture.
Now, all beers produced today can be divided into two groups – ales and lagers. I used the Löwenbräu original in this recipe, but if you are not a fan of it, use another pale lager that you prefer. Always cook with ingredients you like, and of course, even in pastries never use a beer you wouldn't want to drink. You can spice up the dip, though. Use more Sriracha if you wish, and you can add a bit of chili powder, too.

For the beer bars
400 grams all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
100 ml vegetable oil
1 medium egg
150 ml light beer
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, for brushing before baking
1 tablespoon of butter, optional
For the spicy dipping sauce
100 grams mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Sriracha, or to taste

Sift the flour with the baking powder, add salt and paprika and whisk well. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg with the oil, then add the beer and blend well. It will foam up a bit, but that is fine. Add about half of the dry ingredients to the beer mixture, and mix well with a wooden spoon. Keep adding the rest of the flour, while mixing with a wooden spoon until you get a soft dough that doesn't stick to your hands. Transfer it to a floured counter and knead it for a few more minutes, to make it more elastic.
Depending on your flour, you may need to add another tablespoon or two, while you knead. Roll the dough out to about 5 mm thickness, and using a pizza wheel, cut out dough bars of desired size. Arrange them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper, brush them with oil and bake them in a preheated oven at 200˚C (400˚F) for 10-12 minutes. If you wish, as soon as you take them out of the oven, brush them with butter (for a softer crust) and serve warm with a spicy mix of mayonnaise and Sriracha sauce. Yields 32 beer bars.

30 June 2017


Who says red velvet cookies are only for Valentine's day? These beauties can be a perfect adornment to any of your cookie platters. Soft, chewy and with an almost brownie-like texture, these are a showstopper. And don't let the small batch fool you, these red velvet cookies are huge, and one of them is a perfect serving size.

120 grams butter, softened
150 grams icing sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon red food colouring
2 teaspoons vanilla
150 grams flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
¾ teaspoon baking powder

Beat the softened butter and icing sugar, on high, for about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla and food colouring and beat really well, for about 2 more minutes. The batter should be smooth and creamy. Sift in the cocoa powder, and beat until completely smooth. Sift in the flour and the baking powder and blend completely with a mixer on medium. Using a large cookie scoop (5 cm in diameter), take out portions of cookie batter, and place them on a cookie sheet lined with baking paper. Space them at least 5 cm apart, because they spread quite a bit. If you have a cookie sheet that is on the smaller side, you might have to bake these in two batches. Gently flatten the top of each cookie, and bake them in a preheated oven, at 180˚C (350˚F), for 12-15 minutes. Let them cool for about 5 minutes on the sheets, then remove and serve. Yields 11 large cookies.

23 June 2017


Today calls for celebration with cake! As one would need a special occasion to eat cake. But, nonetheless, today we celebrate with a loaded Nutella, chocolate, and Ferrero Rocher cake. It is as delicious as it is gorgeous. Four layers of pure delicious goodness.
You can keep my minimalist decoration, or you can go over the top, and add additional Ferrero Rocher candy, Hanuta pieces, and those miniature jars of Nutella, if you can find them. For me, though, this was perfect.
The reason behind not pressing the truffle layer on the one, but instead gently layering it by spoonfuls, is to keep its texture. If you press it in, you risk making it denser, like a spread. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is not the texture we want here. And finally, to slice the cake, pour some hot water into a jug, place in a thin blade knife, dry if off, then carefully slide it through all of the layers.

For the crunchy Ferrero Rocher base
200 grams hazelnut wafers
8 Ferrero Rocher candies
200 grams Nutella, softened
For the chocolate Nutella layer
100 grams cooking chocolate
2 tablespoons Nutella, softened
2 tablespoons heavy cream
For the milk chocolate truffle layer
300 grams milk chocolate
250 ml heavy whipping cream
100 grams Ferrero Rocher crumbs
100 grams dark chocolate, roughly grated
For the dark chocolate truffle layer
300 grams extra dark chocolate
250 ml heavy cream
2 tablespoons icing sugar
2 teaspoons dark rum
For the decoration
100 grams cooking chocolate
8 Ferrero Rocher or Ferrero Rondnoir

Start by lining a round cake ring (15 cm) with acetate, for an easier cake removal. Make sure the acetate strip is tall enough for you to pour in the fillings. Once you have prepared the pan, crush the wafers and Ferrero Rocher in a food processor, or by hand, but do not crush them too finely, leave a variety of crumb sizes, it will make the texture of the base better. Pour the crumbs into a large bowl, and add the softened Nutella. Stir gently in the beginning, then, as it starts coming together, you can stir more vigorously. Do not worry if the base seems to be a tad soft, it will firm up in the refrigerator. Once the base is done, place the cake ring on the serving platter, and press it in. It will be sticky, but be patient with it, and it will spread out evenly. Set the base aside and start making the fillings.
To make the fudgy chocolate layer, melt the chocolate over very low heat, along with the heavy cream. Keep stirring it as it melts, so it does not burn. Once melted, remove it from the heat, and let it cool down a bit, then stir in the Nutella. Keep stirring until it melts completely, then pour it over the base layer, and place the platter in the refrigerator.
Next, make the chocolate mousses. The preparation is the same for both of them. Chop up the dark chocolate, and the milk chocolate, and place them into separate medium bowls. Pour the heavy cream in two heavy-bottomed saucepans, and let it almost come to a boil. It needs to just be hot enough to melt the chocolate. Remove the cream from the stove, and pour it over the chocolate in the bowls. Let it stand for a minute, then mix it well with a spatula.
Once they are almost at room temperature, place both bowls in the refrigerator to help it cool down almost completely. Take a hand–held mixer and beat the milk chocolate Ganache, on the highest setting for a few minutes, until it becomes smooth and creamy. Add in the Ferrero Rocher crumbs, and the grated chocolate, and blend well. Take the base out of the refrigerator, and drop in the chocolate filling by the spoonful onto the base, gently shaking the platter to evenly distribute it, smooth the top, and place it back in the refrigerator. Repeat the mixing procedure with the dark chocolate Ganache, whipping it up with the icing sugar, and the rum, until it becomes lighter in colour. Very carefully drop it by the spoonful onto the dark chocolate mousse, smooth the top, and return it to the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
Once the cake is ready, melt the chocolate in a double boiler, or in the microwave, let it cool down ever so slightly, then drizzle it on top of the cake, and down the sides. Place the Ferrero Rocher on the top of the cake, so each slice has a candy on top. Add your centrepiece in the centre of the cake, if using, or decorate it further with some additional chocolate shavings, pieces of Hanuta, or Ferrero Rondnoir. Keep the cake refrigerated until serving time. Yields 8 servings. © TINA VESIĆ