honey glazed semla with raw hazelnut date marzipan
Some refer to this day as Shrove Tuesday, some Fat Tuesday, and some Mardi Gras – French for Fat Tuesday. It’s the day directly preceding Ash Wednesday (the first day of lent) and it’s celebrated in different ways all over the world. The celebratory food choices vary but many include high carb options such as pancakes or varieties of sweet buns. In Sweden it’s celebrated with a semla. A semi sweet bun filled with almond paste and whipped cream. These sweet wonders are so tasty and popular they can now be found in bakeries throughout the year. However, most frequently during the first quarter preceding Fat Tuesday.
Traditionally, a semla is made from yeast dough, but this Gluten Free option is Yeast Free and altogether sweetened with honey and dates.
sweet cardamom buns
This is a small bun creating a small, not quite but almost, bite size semla. Enjoyable filled or plain. For a sweet fruity treat, replace marzipan with jam or fresh fruit or berries.
2 cups almond flour (finely ground almonds)
½ cup tapioca or potato starch
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cardamom
¼ cup milk
4 TBL butter
4 TBL honey
2 large eggs
Mix dry ingredients and set aside.
Over low heat, stir milk, butter and honey until melted and incorporated.
Pour hot liquids over dry ingredients and blend quickly.
Stir in the lightly beaten eggs.
Spritz or spoon into a mini muffin pan lightly sprayed with cooking oil.
Bake at 400F/200C for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
Makes 15 mini muffin buns.
raw hazelnut date marzipan
½ cup tightly packed dates
1 ½ cup hazelnut flour (finely ground hazelnuts)
1 cup almond flour (finely ground almonds)
2 drops almond oil (optional)
In a food processor, process all ingredients until it forms a ball.
Shape ball into a roll and refrigerate until ready to use.
Makes one 9 oz roll.
whipped honey glaze
Whipped honey glaze is an excellent alternative to glaze made from processed confectioners sugar. Not only will it keep its shape and stay glossy, it tastes delicious and includes honey’s many health benefits. The honey will stay white and fluffy in a jar.
Beat honey with an electric mixer until white and fluffy.
Cut the top of the sweet buns.
Apply a generous amount of raw hazelnut date marzipan.
Cover with whipped heavy cream.
Put the tops back on and glaze with whipped honey.
Photography by Philip Blankenship.
chinese inspired petit fours
made from rice, beans & coconut, with a hint of tangerine
With predictions of good luck and fortune, the year of the Horse is here. The slow pace of the thoughtful Snake is over and it’s time to saddle up and get going. With galloping speed, it’s time to take action and let creative fires burn freely, spend time in nature and travel the world. It’s time to leap.
In addition to presenting a new lunar year and a second chance for a new beginning, the Chinese New Year festivities always spark new culinary adventures. This year I am especially intrigued by the naturally gluten free sweets made from ingredients commonly found on savory platters.
Inspired by the traditional Chinese New Years cake known as Nian Gao (which is most often steamed, not baked), these delicious little treats are made from baked sticky rice cake and red bean paste. Topped with caramelized tangerine zest for a lovely addition to taste and texture as well as for extra luck for the new year.
baked sticky rice cake
4 tablespoons melted butter (½ stick)
1 ½ cup palm sugar
1 ½ cup full fat coconut milk
1 ½ cup full fat regular milk
¼ cup fresh squeezed tangerine juice
2 ½ cup sweet glutenous rice flour
Melt butter in a medium size pot and add palm sugar and coconut milk. Stir over low hear until palm sugar and coconut milk has melted and all lumps and crystals are gone.
Take off the heat and with a manual hand whisk, whisk in regular milk, tangerine juice, eggs and rice flour. Continue whisking until smooth.
Pour batter into a 8-10 inch square cake pan lined with baking paper.
Bake at 350F/175C for 1 ½ hours.
red bean paste filling
With a frosting-like consistency, this sweet and smooth bean paste can be enjoyed as is (as it is here) or baked into buns or cookies.
½ cup dried red beans
6 TBL palm sugar (kokossocker)
pinch of salt
2 TBL oil
Rinse beans and soak over night.
Rinse again and simmer until soft, about 1 ½ hours.
While the beans are cooking, remove 1 TBL of the boiling bean water and mix with palm sugar in a small bowl. Set aside but stir occasionally to create a smooth syrup.
Drain the beans and transfer to a food processor. Add palm sugar syrup and salt and process for several minutes until very smooth.
Heat the oil and fry the bean mixture while stirring until the paste has dried enough to create a thick paste. It will continue to thicken into a frosting-like consistency when refrigerated.
caramelized tangerine zest
Caramelized citrus can be used for a variety of desserts, cakes, cookies, scones etc. Try tangerines, oranges, lemons and limes and make as much or little as you want using below palm sugar to water ratio. If you prefer a less caramel color, use honey in place of palm sugar.
Zest from about 5 tangerines. Or make as much or little as you want.
1 cup palm sugar
½ cup water
Zest the tangerines. The easiest way to get the very light and thin zest used in this recipe is by using a citrus zester like this one. If you don’t have a zester, simply use a vegetable peeler to peel the tangerines, remove the white parts, and thinly cut the orange parts into very thin strips.
Generously cover zest with cold water and bring to a boil, then drain the water and rinse the zest. Repeat twice more. This will remove the bitterness from the zest.
Bring palm sugar and water to a simmer and add the zest. Avoid stirring as this may create crystallization. Let simmer for about an hour. The zest should hold its form but still be soft and chewy.
When making these petit fours, I choose to remove the top and side crust but keep the bottom crust. However, the crust is very tasty so keeping all the crust would be delicious and work just as well.
Cut the cake into two layers (with or without the top crust).
Spread a thin layer of bean paste on top of the bottom layer and put the top layer back.
With a sharp knife, cut cake into 1 inch squares.
Decorate with caramelized tangerine peel and lightly toasted large coconut flakes.
These were also decorated with edible Sweet William flower petals.
Photography by Philip Blankenship.