With Valentine´s Day just around the door, I thought of sharing this festive cheesecake with pecan nuts and caramel topping that my beautiful and extremely talented sister baked for me and some guests for our last New Year’s Eve party. You can find the Romanian recipe on her and her friends Sabina´s Instagram page at @povestiaromate, or keep reading for the English version. Whether you’re baking it for or with someone you love, or just doing it for yourself, I am sure you’ll love it as much as I did. And with that the #guestchefseries kicks off another season.
As you might have seen on my Instagram, I have now officially entered the cookie frenzy period. Five days into December, and I am on batch number three. The twist? I´m switching it up and started experimenting with new flavours. So for this #homemadeMonday, I´m bringing you this super easy coconut cookie recipe that thanks to its dash of orange, will fill your house with a Christmas smell. These cookies are much fluffier and less flat than my traditional Christmas cookies and as they do not take chocolate, they´re lower in calories. Not that anyone´s counting anyway.
What do you do when life gives you too many limes and too little cachaça? You improvise and upon a failed trial, you end up with these delicious key lime & blueberry Oreo cups. Needless to say, this looked very different in my head. I first tried to make a tart out of this, but left the base for too long in the freezer and by the time it started defrosting, the cream also started melting. So in a desperate attempt, I improvised. I blended some Oreos yet again, sprinkled them in a glass, and topped them with the rescued cream. They were de-lish! And they held marvellously for a couple of days in the fridge!
When you´re not great at baking, you gotta get creative. So you grab a jam (I chose apricot) from the adorable care package @dealurileUilei sent you, find yourself the easiest cake base recipe (inspired by Anca Cheregi´s cheesecake) and you end up with an apricot jam and cream cheese cake ready in no time, and devoured in even less time (what´s less than no time?). Curious? Keep reading this week´s #homemadeMonday.
Cakes and pies – my nemesis. I love them (albeit I am generally I crave salty stuff more), but I generally suck at making them. The dough won´t rise, the cream will be too liquid-y, something´s bound to always go wrong. Unless. Unless we´re talking about my grandma´s strawberry cake which is suuuuuper easy to make, or Esther´s wonderfully simple nut cake, which is even easier. I´m not quite sure of the origin of this one, I just copied it from one of Nonna´s handwritten notes, with her insisting it´s actually her niece Esther´s recipe and not hers. I upgraded it with a simple chocolate cream, and voilá one of the easiest #guestchefseries editions ever.
Perhaps one of my most prized family possessions is this old cooking book which 40 years ago must have been present in every single Romanian household – Silvia Jurcovan´s Carte de Bucate. It was initially my grandma´s, then my mom´s and when I turned 27 my mom gave it to me. Inside its yellow pages, I found more yellow pages, with short and simple dessert recipes, hand written by my grandma and collected from her various friends and relative. That gave me the idea to make my grandma this month´s honorary #guestchef. In her honour I made a simple strawberry cake and improved on it with a cocoa cream and some decorative strawberries. It is so simple to make, tasted deliciously and looked so great, my grandma would have surely loved it. I hope you do too.
I know what you must be thinking – not another banana bread, hasn´t this pandemic had enough of them? I realise I´m a bit late to the game and you might not want to read yet another banana bread recipe, but I absolutely swear by my friend Hollie´s being the best one you´ll every try. Even Nonna, my adoptive grandma, who does not like bananas at all, absolutely loved it. It has just the right intensity of banana flavour and the perfect degree of softness and moisture. So let this #guestchefseries guide you through the perfect banana bread recipe.
This #homemadeMonday should come just in time for you to get inspired for a NYE dessert. I´ve been holding off on publishing André´s carrot cake recipe for over a year – a year of iterations and testing, and gaining weight slice by slice. But it´s now finally here, for this #guestchefseries and it will blow your socks off. To quote Nonna “I absolutely adored it, it is perhaps the best cake I have ever eaten”. So put on your aprons, and let´s cook the best cake ever to end what was to many, the crappiest year ever.
Years ago, my friend Will shared with me a cookie recipe that, coming Christmas, I have done over and over again (just last week I did three rounds of it). Will got this recipe from Carol, one of his friends´ mom and I think I would kiss her if I ever met her. As someone that sucks at baking sweets, I am just so grateful that this recipe has few ingredients, is ready in 10 minutes and there´s pretty much nothing (except for overbaking) that you can do to mess it up. My secret add-on? Sea salt. I use a pinch of chunky sea salt and every single cookie that retains a grain of salt has this delicious salt – chocolate flavour that will knock your socks off. Oh and did I mention these cookies are the perfect Christmas present? #biscuChallenge accepted!
For someone that doesn´t bake, or prepare many sweets herself, it might seem like I chose a quite complicate one this time. The word ganache alone makes it sound like I´m aspiring to be the next Julia Child. But fear not, this recipe is fairly easy to nail, even for the most inexperienced bakers out there (possibly because it does not involve baking). I first learned about it from my friend Violeta (yes, the same Violeta with the udon noodle soup) and I thought that with the holidays coming up, you might love it as much as I did. So, prepare for the most decadent #homemadeMonday yet, an Oreo base, chocolate ganache and raspberry tart. With a delicious Lindt chocolate addendum.