[So ready for my favourite season of the year] carrot cake with caramelized walnuts

DSC_1371Today I show you my favourite recipe for a delicious carrot cake which is the perfect start into spring season (my favourite season of the year!) and makes by the way an ideal Easter treat!

The recipe comes together with some news or more precisely some transformation in my personal life and the reason why I have been so absent the last months. I am now taking the last steps to finally complete my master’s degree. I am lucky to have the possibilty to write my master thesis in cooperation with a company and I am very thankful for this opportunity. But this means moving away from my beautiful and beloved Hamburg. Last month I got the keys for my new apartment in another great city in Germany, Frankfurt. I am very excited to get to know another city and to start a new job! Because this change needed a lot of preparation, I was not able to prepare posts for you in the past. I hope after a short time of acclimatization I can present you more recipes and stories again (Unfortuntely I have to admit that I don’t have an oven in my new flat – But I’ll make the best of it!)

But now, some words about this today’s sweety! This moist and absolutely not dry (!) cake can be baked 1-2 days ahead so you are not going to stress yourself during Easter. You can taste the different aroma of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and sometimes an intense sweetness when biting onto a caramlized walnut. The refreshing frosting is the perfect completion and can be topped by these little carrots made out of marzipan which are of course eatable!

I hope you gonna enjoy your Easter days and the warm temperatures (Frankfurt is so much warmer than Hamburg!). I can’t wait to be home for Easter to celebrate with my family and of course I have to bake this cake again! And here is the recipe for you:

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Carrot cake with caramelized walnuts

Ingredients:
280 g butter
280 g brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla sugar
5 eggs
170 g flour
pinch of salt
2 tsp. baking powder
120 g grounded almonds
60 g walnuts
30 g white sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
0,5 tsp. ginger powder
280 g grated carrots
frosting:
120 g mascarpone
220 g cream cheese
80 g confectioners sugar
2 tbsp. lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180° degrees. Prepare a baking pan or 8 small baking pans as I did by oiling them.
  2. Caramilze the walnuts by boiling 30 g sugar and 30 g water until it shines light brown. Add the waldnuts and mix. When they are turning brown remove and put separately on baking paper.
  3. Separate eggs and beat egg whites, with a pinch of salt, until stiff.
  4.  In another bowl mix together butter and white sugar until very creamy (the longer you mix the better the batter will be). Add egg yolks one after another and vanilla extract until nicely incorporated.
  5. Now add the flour, baking powder, carrots, almonds and walnuts – Do not overmix! At last add stiff egg whites. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan.
  6. Bake for 45-50 minutes (depends on your oven!).
  7. For the frosting: Cream together all the ingredients with an electric mixer. Spead cream onto the cakes and decorate as you like (these little carrots are available in every well-stocked supermarket).

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Happy Easter everybody!

xxx

Caprice

[Sweeten up the holiday countdown] Chocolate Hazelnut Cake with Mascarpone Giotto frosting

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Just two more weeks until Chistmas Eve will be there! Every time the same questions pop up: Will I have all the presents by that day? Didn’t I forget to buy a present for someone? Will I be in time with the whole christmas decoration? When shall we buy the christmas tree? And most important: What do we eat at Christmas Eve?

I have to admit that I haven’t got an answer for the first 4 questions. But at least the question for this years’ christmas dessert is already answered! And I promise this cake will definitely sweeten up your holiday countdown!

As you already know my family is asking me every yeat to create the dessert for Christmas Eve and every year the same tough question appears: To find a dessert which will be loved by everyone in my family. Last year the Bellini cake won the competetion and was last year’s sweet christmas dessert. I am still dreaming of the fluffy and intense Bellini filling which was the highlight of the cake! But this year something with more chocolate was in great demand (thanks to my dad who is the biggest chocolate fan I know so far!).

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So, this cake is the perfect choice for your next afternoon tea or as this year’s christmas dessert or the highlight at every coffee date during the advent season. Some words about what’s inside this fancy cake. The 8 layers of biskuit are made with dark chocolate and grounded hazelnuts. Between the layers is a nougat filling and the frosting is made with mascarpone and unsweetened cacao powder. The chocolate decoration runs down the cake and is the perfect base for the chocolate tuffs and Giottos. Top with a few sparkler this beauty will be a wonderful highlight at your New Years Eve Party!

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Chocolate Hazelnut Cake with Mascarpone Giotto frosting

Ingredients:
for the chocolate biskuits:
125 g dark chocolate
6 eggs
125 g butter
40 g confectioner’s sugar
pinch of salt
150 g white sugar
125 flour
2 tbsp. baking powder

for the hazelnut biskuits:
125 g dark chocolate
6 eggs
125 g butter
40 g confectioner’s sugar
pinch of salt
150 g white sugar
65 g flour
60 g grounded hazelnuts
2 tbsp. baking powder

for the frosting:
500 g mascarpone
200 g heavy cream
2 tbsp. vanilla sugar
200 g confectioner’s sugar
1-2 tbsp. unsweetened cacao powder
12 Giottos (or any other sweet praliné)

250 g nougat or Nutella

for the chocolate layer:
200 g dark chocolate
20 g butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 175°C. Layer 4 small baking pans with baking paper.
  2. Prepare the chocolate biskuits: Melt dark chocolate. Meanwhile separate the eggs and beat the egg whites until stiff while adding the white sugar. In another bowl mix butter with confectioner’s sugar. Then add the egg yolks. Now add the melted chocolate. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder. Add to the mix together with the stiff egg whites. Just mix until incorporated. Then divide dough into two batches and pour into 2 of the 4 prepared baking pans. Bake for 25 minutes (depents on your oven).
  3. Prepare the hazelnut biskuits analog to the chocolate biskuits by adding the grounded hazelnuts together with the flour. Bake both biskuits and let them cool completely. Now divide all four cakes in the middle until you get 8 cake bottoms of the same size.
  4. Prepare the frosting: In one bowl beat the heavy cream together with the vanilla sugar. In another bowl mix the mascarpone, confectioners sugar and cacao powder. Combine both mixes.
  5.  Now start layering by taking the first cake bottom and pour over 2 tbsp. of nougat. Top with the next cake bottom. Repeat this with the other cakes bottoms. In the end cover the whole cake with the Mascarpone forsting. Fill the rest of the mascarpone cream into a piping bag and put into the fridge.
  6. Now prepare the chocolate decoration. Melt the chocolate and butter and just pour it over the cake so the chocolate will run down the sides of the cake. Let the chocolate mix cool.
  7. Take the frosting in the piping bag and pipe little tuffs all over the cake. Decorate with Giottos and optional with sparkler.

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Have a lovely christmas time!

xxx

Caprice

[Lisbon Love] Pastéis de Nata

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After I spent the last couple of months with working and studying now it’s finally time for the next recipe and travel review! Maybe you already saw some pictures on my Instagram account about my recent trip to Lisbon with a very good friend of mine! Of course I brought a new recipe with me, but before I will show you my culinary highlight of the trip I will share with you my favourite spots in Lisbon!

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Walking along the Tejo

In general, Lisbon offers so many great places and lookouts thoughtout the whole city, but this one was actually one of the favourite spots. As you already know, you can pretty much get me with every city which is located at the waterfront! To get to this view, we simply took the train to Belém and walked back to the city center along the waterfront of the well-known river Tejo, where you enjoy an excellent view over the bay. You can see the Ponte 25 de Abril as well as the Cristo Rei (christ statue) which is located in Almada. Perfect walk with an ice cream in one hand and your camera in the other one!

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Historical ride with the famous Tram 12 and 28

This one is a classic when you are in Lisbon. Take the tram to explore the small but charming quarters of Alfama, Mouraria and Graça. It’s also fun to walk around this area, because you can discover many lovely houses and places. The history of the tram in Lisbon is really old, the first tram was 1873 in service (pulled by horses). Today the trams are quite crowded because many tourists do not want to miss this historical ride. When you are in Alfama, do not leave before visiting one of the many viewpoints, for example the Miradouro Santa Luzia to enjoy the amazing view!

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Belém and Pastelaria Pastéis de Belém

About 20 minutes from Lisbon city center you can reach Belém which is located west from Lisbon. Until 1885 this location was autonomous, but then it was connected to Lisbon. In Beleém you can easily spend a whole day. For example visit the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, the Torre de Belém and the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (it’s a maritime monument which honors the sailors). But the best thing about Belém is the Pastelaria (= bakery) in the city center. Already from a distance you can recognize this place by its long queue. But no worries there are almost 300 seats available inside! There you must try the Pastéis de Nata which are freshly made throughout the day and are served warm. We ordered a box and went outside to sit in the shadows of the nearby park – Perfect day!

 

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More places to go and things to do…

  • Visit the Palácio Nacional da Pena in Sintra: This place is located about 45 minutes from Lisbon and can easliy be reached by train. I can’t find any words to describe this magical place! Felt a bit like Disneyland to be honest!
  • Visit the beaches Cascais and Estoril: One day we wanted to escape the heat in the city and went to these two beaches which are connected through a nice promenade.
  • Have a pic nic next to the Torre de Belém: There is a nice park in this area where you can relax and watch the portuguese kids playing soccer.
  • Visit the Museu Nacional do Azulejo: You get free entrance every first sunday of the month!
  • Enjoy the nights of Lisbon: At night is the perfect time to explore and discover the city and have a few drinks at Bairro Alto.

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All in all, Lisbon is a fantastic city to visit! We enjoyed every minute of our trip! The people were very lovely and the food (and especially the wine) was excellent. Moreover there are so many charming quarters and colourful houses to explore that a few days aren’t enough to get to know the whole city!
I will definitely come back, but I have to admit, that Lisbon can not replace my all time favorite city Barcelona!

 

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Now, some words about our sweet treat of today. First when I heard of the Pastéis de Nata I thought they might be very sweet and fatty! But I was wrong. In contrast the pastry is light because of the crispy and thin puff pastry and the filling is not too sweet and is dominated by the vanilla flavour! Absolutely must-try when you are in Lisbon and if you haven’t planned a trip yet, there is this quick and easy recipe for a culinary short trip!

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Pastéis de Nata

Ingredients:
1 package of puff pastry
250 ml heavy cream
100 g white sugar
5 egg yolks
1 whole vanilla bean
1 tbsp. flour
pinch of salt
1 tbsp. brown sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 250° degrees.
  2. Mix egg yolks and heavy cream, slowly add the sugar and salt. Scrape vanilla bean and add to the mix. At last add the sifted flour.
  3. Now heat the mixture in a saucepan and let it boil until it thickens.
  4. Take a muffin tin and oil it. Roll out the puff pastry and cut out circular shapes (about 15 cm). Press into the prepared muffin tin, don’t forget to form a spread around the bottom as well as the edges. Spread with brown sugar on top (that will caramelize during baking process).
  5. Pour in the prepared egg-mixture. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Best served warm.

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Have fun baking!

xxx

Caprice