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Archive for December, 2009

Happy holidays!

Have a merry Christmas harvest! Or at least a good celebration, lots of presents and lots of good food!

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Need a last-minute gift to bring to your Christmas party? These homemade chocolates take almost no time at all.

Ice chocolate is also a traditional Christmas candy in Sweden, but I used to make it at home as well. It’s homemade chocolate that comes in little forms – and is cooled down by putting them out in the snow! (But warmer countries need not despair, the freezer is fine as well.)
I put my foot down on using my grandma’s recipe though – I was NOT going to make it with pre-made cooking chocolate. Nope, nothing but cocoa, sugar and cocos fat in this one.

Ingredients:
250g Cocos fat
200g powdered Sugar, sifted
50-60g plain Cocoa powder (NOT drinking chocolate!), sifted (Adjust depending on how dark you want your chocolate to be.)
Aluminium foil cups, traditional ice chocolate forms, or even ice cube forms for pouring into
Snow! Or alternatively, space in the freezer.

Recipe:
Melt the cocos fat over a water bath. It only needs about 70 degrees Celsius to melt, so it’ll melt quickly. Stir in the sifted sugar and cocoa powder. Stir well!
Pour into the forms and put the forms out in the snow immediately.
When the chocolate has hardened, stack in a jar (if using disposable forms) or (if not) remove the chocolate from the forms, stack it and pour more!
Store in a jar in the fridge.

The cocos fat makes the chocolate very soft, but also cool in your mouth. Be quick or it’ll be gone before you know it!

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Bento #276

I wanted another festive-themed bento, but several timing- and cooking-related disasters later it’s just a random veggie bento. Oh well, as long as it’s pretty and tasty…!

Small box (background): couscous, carrot shaves and halloumi on lettuce, cherry tomatoes.
Big box(foreground): More halloumi, Ajvar, cherry tomatoes, fried zucchini chips, baked potato wedges, and a piece of Knäck.

This may or may not be the last post this year. We’ll see how I feel tonight!

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This weekend, the boyfriend and me made Knäck!

That sounds wrong. Let’s try again.
This weekend, the boyfriend and me made traditional Swedish Christmas caramels! I feel so Swedish now!
And it wasn’t even hard – surprising for anything that contains the words “caramel” and “candy”, Knäck is amazingly easy to prepare.

Knäck is a kind of Toffee, made with sugar, syrup, butter, cream and almonds. The consistency varies depending on local tastes, from fudge-y to stick-to-your-teeth hard. The longer you boil the candy, the harder it will become after pouring. Ideally, you should be able to stack them in a jar without them sticking together.
The candy comes in little paper cups that look like muffin cups but are thimble-sized! They are sold all over in Sweden during Christmas time and usually, the back of the packet contains the recipe.

Since we doubled it for our purposes, this recipe makes about two jars of Knäck. That is quite a lot!

The ingredients:
3 Tsp. butter
4 dl sugar
4 dl light syrup (Swedish “light syrup” seems to be best translated to inverted sugar syrup)
3 dl full fat cream (whipping cream is fine)
150g sweet almonds, peeled and chopped.
The Container:
Lots of those tiny little paper cups. We made about 120 with this recipe, which is half a packet.

The recipe?
Dump everything but the nuts together in a thick-bottomed pot. Boil for approx. 30 minutes.
When it reduces and becomes a darker shade, try dripping a spoon or so into a glass of cold water. If you can easily mold the caramel after fishing it out, without it crumbling apart, it’s done.

During the time it boils, prepare a lot of those small paper cups, best on a baking tray so that you can move them close to the pot for pouring. You should have them all set up and ready to be filled or you won’t manage!

Mix in the nuts and put a spoonful into each paper cup. Be careful to keep the pot over low heat in the meanwhile so the candy doesn’t harden in the bowl.
(Or, in the immortal words of my great-aunt: “And then we don’t throw away the pan…”)

Let cool at room temperature, then store. I had brought out my pretty Christmas-themed candy boxes, but the boyfriend said they looked best in glass jars.

And they do!

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Bento #275 – Snowman

I don’t usually do charaben, but I guess I have to have one winter-themed charaben this year! I’ve wanted to make an onigiri snowman pretty much ever since I started bentoing, but I didn’t get around to it.
The snowman is accompanied by seasonally appropriate green asparagus and red glazed carrots (the red is food dye), and a bit of veggie burger with a Thai basil leaf.

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Bento #274

Bringing out the not-so-bento box again with this one: Pita bread with halloumi, lettuce and tomatoes; potato croquettes, a container with ajvar dip, and a candy.

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Bento #273

Three bentos in a row! What a good girl I am. (Yeah, there won’t be one tomorrow. Thursdays I train during the lunchbreak so I usually eat out.)
The only thing that irks me is that there’s not enough working days left in 2009 to reach #300…

This box contains goat cheese and broccoli quiche, steamed sweet potato flowers, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, asparagus and a fishy with balsamic vinegar for the veggies.

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