Friday, May 14, 2021

HOMEMADE RUBY CHOCOLATE SPREAD

Ruby chocolate spread is a new take on the timeless classic. Rich and luxurious, with a soft mousse texture, this type of a chocolate spread is absolutely perfect to be enjoyed just as any other; on toast, croissants, or even as a thin layer of cake filling. A little bit sweet, a little bit tart, with a bright flavour faintly reminiscent of berries, it truly is a fantastic aromatic treat.
The preparation is quite simple and straightforward, although it requires a bit of hastiness once the chocolate is melted and ready. It can be done by hand, with a sturdy wire whisk, but the electric mixer helps dissolve the milk powder right into the hot batter.
One thing I particularly love about this spread is that the mixing time allows you to adjust the texture exactly to your preferences. The mixing helps add air and volume to it, therefore, if you want a spread with a truffle texture, mix only until thickened and slightly cooled down. And if you are like me, and want it to have a mousseline texture, whip a minute or two longer, until it becomes airy and light.
On a final note, although ruby chocolate itself is not dairy-free, nor vegan, I have used soy milk powder, vegan butter, and plant double cream. However, the spread can be made by using powdered milk, dairy butter, and dairy double cream, as well.


Ingredients
200 grams soy milk powder
50 grams icing sugar
150 grams unsalted vegan block butter, at room temperature
250 grams ruby chocolate
250 millilitres plant double cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
small pinch of salt
few drops of rose food colouring

Preparation
Sift the icing sugar and soy milk powder twice, put them into a large bowl, and set it aside. Dice the butter and finely chop the ruby chocolate. Pour the cream into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the vanilla, butter, and chocolate, and place the saucepan over medium heat. Let everything melt together slowly, until completely blended. Stir it gently, but often, and do not let it boil. When everything is melted, remove it from heat and immediately pour over the sifted soy milk powder and icing sugar.
Whisk it vigorously to initially blend the ingredients, then switch to an electric mixer, and beat on low for about a minute. Add in the food colouring, if using, and the salt, and increase the speed to the highest setting. Blend for another 5 minutes, until the batter thickens up and cools down. Working quickly, immediately pour the spread into sterilised small jars with tight fitting lids, and let it cool down to room temperature. Store in the refrigerator. Yields 800 millilitres of homemade ruby chocolate spread. © TINA VESIĆ

Friday, May 07, 2021

RUBY CHOCOLATE MARBLE TRUFFLE CAKE

When it comes to cakes, especially celebratory cakes, my choice have always been light, fruity cakes. I do enjoy a nice slice of chocolate cake, as most do, but simple vanilla cakes with plenty of tart fruit will always have my heart.
For that reason alone, ruby chocolate has been one of my personal top choices ever since it first appeared. In general, I am not a fan of overly sweet desserts, so it is simply perfect to me. I find it delightfully tangy, with just a mere hint of berries. Truly, a fantastic choice for a light spring cake, especially because it pairs so well with strawberries and raspberries, and even sour cherries.
There is nothing sweeter than a brightly coloured cake after a hearty family lunch. Simple, but abundantly flavourful and soft vanilla layers, plenty of ruby chocolate truffle filling, with a texture that is somewhere between a firmly whipped cream and a soft chocolate mousse, and a billowy layer of double cream; just perfect. And it can only get even better if adorned with frozen raspberries.
It is best served in small slices, either with a glass of dessert wine or with a tiny cup of espresso, depending on your preferences; but always well chilled or even slightly frozen.


Ingredients
For the marble cake layers
400 grams plain flour
80 grams cornflour
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
200 grams granulated sugar
600 millilitres cold water
120 millilitres sunflower oil
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
2 drops rose food colouring
1 drop yellow food colouring
For the ruby chocolate truffle filling
300 grams ruby chocolate
150 grams unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
250 millilitres double cream
¼ teaspoon salt
For the decoration
150 millilitres double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
30 grams icing sugar
1 drop rose food colouring, optional
50 grams frozen raspberries

Preparation
Start by making the ruby chocolate truffle filling. Chop up the ruby chocolate finely, place it into a large bowl, add in the butter, vanilla, and cream, and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Let everything melt together until smooth and blended. It can take a little while, especially if the butter was a bit cold, but do not rush it. Once melted, cover the top with a piece of cling film, let it cool down to room temperature, and then place it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
To make the marble cake layers, sift the flour and the cornflour into a large bowl, add in the sugar, salt, and the baking powder, and whisk very well. Pour in the water, oil, and the vanilla, and whisk until combined. Divide the batter in half, and add the rose food colouring to one part, and yellow to the other. Mix it through gently, being careful not to overmix the batter. Line four small round cake pans (15 cm), with baking parchment, and pour in both batters in each one, mixing them gently to create the marbled effect.
Bake the cakes immediately, in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 12-15 minutes. They need to remain light in colour, but do check with a toothpick, to make sure they are baked, but not dry. Let them cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, and then turn them out to a large wire rack to continue cooling.
When the cakes are cool, and the filling is firm to the touch, mix it with an electric mixer on high, until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. When everything is ready, start assembling the cake.
Level the cake layers if needed, and place the first one on the cake platter. Close a cake ring around it, add a tall sheet of acetate, and tighten it so it stays in place. Divide the filling into three parts by weight. Add the first part of the filling over the cake layer, level it gently, and place another cake layer on top. Continue stacking the cake in this fashion, until all of the layers and filling are used up. Cover the top with cling film, and place it in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
Just before serving, remove the cake ring and the acetate, and whip the cream with the vanilla and sugar until stiff peaks form. If using, add the food colouring and blend it well. Cover the sides and top of the cake, and place the frozen raspberries on top. Serve immediately. Yields 20 servings. © TINA VESIĆ

Friday, April 30, 2021

RUSTIC VEGAN FLAKY CRESCENT ROLLS

These crescent rolls are the exact ones I grew up enjoying, at first with a cup of tea, and then with coffee. One of the tried and true recipes that has stood the test of time, that has been made thousands of times, and that has never failed to produce a batch of golden crescent rolls, perfect for dipping into icy cold jam while still hot.
They do require a bit of planning, though, because the butter needs to be frozen solid, as it needs to be grated. I usually divide the piece of butter into two parts, wrap each of them individually, and let them freeze. This will ensure that it does not start melting that quickly while grating. Those lovely, thin strands of frozen butter create tiny pockets between the layers of dough, making the baked rolls perfectly flaky and crisp.
I usually make sixteen of them, as that is what we prefer, however, they could also be made into eight large crescent rolls, and then preferably filled with a creamy savoury salad; fantastic for picnics or quick lunches. And I have to say, they are fantastic when toasted, especially when really cool, ideally the next day. Ideal for a spot of vegan butter, homemade jam, and a few slivers of toasted almonds.


Ingredients
For the dough
350 grams plain flour
200 millilitres warm water
20 millilitres vegetable oil
25 grams fresh yeast
20 grams brown sugar
10 grams salt
For the lamination
75 grams vegan block butter, frozen
1 teaspoon cornflour


Preparation
The night before, or at least 8 hours before you plan to make these rolls, place the vegan butter in the freezer. It needs to be as solid as possible, so it can be grated.
The next day, sift the flour into a medium bowl, add in the salt, and whisk lightly. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the fresh yeast, sugar, and the warm water, and set it aside for about 10 minutes so the yeast can activate. Once the yeast is fragrant and bubbly, make a little well in the centre of the flour, pour it in, and add in the oil. Mix with a wooden spoon until a somewhat sticky dough comes together. It should be ever so slightly sticky, but manageable. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for a minute or two, until springy and supple. Return it to the bowl, cover, and let it rest for about 45 minutes.
After the initial rise, the dough should be rested and even softer. Turn it out onto a floured surface again, gently press it out with your hands, and divide it into eight equal pieces. Roll each piece into round disk about 15 centimetres in diameter, cover with a kitchen towel, and let them rest for the time being.
Take the frozen butter, quickly grate it into a medium bowl, sift in the cornflour, and mix it around. Take the first piece of dough, add in a portion of the grated butter, top with another piece, and continue stacking them until all the butter has been used up. By then, the dough will firm up due to butter being very cold, so it will be easier to work with. Take a heavy rolling pin and press the dough stack until it flattens slightly, and then roll it out to about 40 centimetres in diameter, or about 5 millimetres thick. Using a pizza wheel, cut it into 16 triangles, and roll each one towards the narrow end. Let it naturally roll onto the pointed end, without too much stretching, and arrange them onto a large baking sheet lined with baking parchment.
Rest them on the pointy end, their seam, so it stays nicely rolled while baking. Cover them with a clean kitchen towel, and let them rise for about 20-30 minutes, while the oven preheats. Bake them in a preheated oven, at 200°C, for about 10-12 minutes, or until golden and crispy. Serve immediately. Yields 16 large flaky rolls.

Friday, April 23, 2021

VEGAN CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER DOUGHNUTS

Is there anything better or more rewarding to a baker, than enjoying a piping hot pastry they have created, right off the baking sheet, as the filing is still molten? The joy of creating the food combined with the pleasure of eating the food.
These doughnuts are made with my favourite type of dough, the yoghurt dough. Ever since I started working with dough, I have loved it, as it is incredibly soft and supple. I never make it too sweet on its own, which makes it absolutely perfect for the lush filling.
And the filling is the classic pairing of chocolate and peanut butter, deepened by the glistening caramel topping. It will be soft and almost chewy as they are taken out of the oven, but it will set up as they cool.
The texture of these doughnuts is what makes them even more appealing; they are soft and smooth all through, with just the softest crunch from the topping. However, if you prefer crunchy peanut butter, use it; adapt them to your liking and preferences.
Speaking of preferences, I like making my doughnuts small; that way, they are easier to pick up and enjoy, and they bake up much quicker, making them even softer, if that is possible. Just keep in mind that the filling will leak out as they bake if you overfill them. If you are fine with that, as I am, be as generous as the dough will allow.
I always serve them hot, with a glass of cold milk and a cup of freshly made espresso, and the same I recommend to you.


Ingredients
For the soft baked doughnuts
350 grams plain flour
120 grams dark brown sugar, divided
6 grams salt
100 grams vanilla soya yoghurt
100 millilitres warm water
60 millilitres vegetable oil, divided
15 grams fresh yeast
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the chocolate peanut butter filling
100 grams dark cooking chocolate (at least 50% cocoa solids)
60 grams smooth peanut butter
½ vanilla bean paste

Preparation
Start by sifting the flour into a large bowl. Add in 20 grams of sugar, all of the salt, and whisk really well. In a small bowl, whisk together the fresh yeast and the warm water, and set it aside for about 10 minutes so the yeast can activate. Once the yeast is fragrant and bubbly, make a little well in the centre of the flour, pour it in, and add in the yoghurt, 30 millilitres of oil, and vanilla, and mix with a wooden spoon until a very soft and sticky dough forms. It should not stick to your hands, but if it does, add another tablespoon of flour. Place the dough into a large bowl, cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rise, at room temperature, for about an hour, or until doubled.
Towards the end of rising time, make the chocolate and peanut butter filling. Chop up the chocolate finely and add it to a medium bowl. Add in the peanut butter, and place the bowl on a double boiler, letting them melt together nicely. Stir it occasionally, until completely blended. This can also be done in the microwave, being additionally careful not to burn the chocolate. Once melted, stir in the vanilla well, and set it aside to cool down slightly and start firming up, as it will be liquid when hot.
When the dough is risen and ready, transfer it to a lightly floured surface and knead it very briefly. Divide it into 12 equal pieces, and shape each of them into a ball. Flatten each of them into a disk, place a portion of the filling in the centre, and carefully close the dough around it. Pinch the seam tightly, and place each of the doughnuts onto a large baking sheet. When all of them are formed, working quickly, brush them with the reserved oil, and dip the top of each one into the remaining dark brown sugar.
Arrange them on a large baking sheet lined with baking parchment, and let them rest for 30 minutes more. Bake them in a preheated oven, at 200°C, for about 10 minutes, or until done. Serve them hot off the baking sheet; as soon as they have cooled down to be handled comfortably. Yields 12 servings.

Friday, April 16, 2021

VEGAN CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT SWIRL BREAD

There is something so satisfying in working with dough. Watching the yeast bubble up and come alive, blend with the flour, create thousands of tiny bubbles, and then transform into a beautiful loaf; pure magic.
And what better way to start the day than with a lovely homemade bread, full of chocolate, hazelnuts, and vanilla. Chewy crust paired with a soft crumb; a match made in breakfast heaven.
Plenty of dark chocolate and hazelnut butter, fragrant vanilla, and a handful of toasted hazelnuts, for good measure, all enveloped in pillowy dough. Melted chocolate does not even have to be perfectly blended with the hazelnut butter; having those little swirls and ripples show through as the bread is sliced is a beautiful thing.
Such a lovely little vegan loaf, perfect for everyday breakfast, and even for the Great Lent. It is truly best served still hot, with a glass of milk. It does not have to be sliced; there is much pleasure in taking tiny pieces from the top and sides as the bread cools.


Ingredients
For the dough
250 grams plain flour, sifted
2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
20 grams brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
150 millilitres soy milk, warm
20 millilitres vegetable oil
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
50 grams soft unsalted vegan block butter, divided
For the chocolate hazelnut filling
150 grams dark cooking chocolate (at least 50% cocoa solids), chopped
80 grams hazelnut butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
50 grams toasted hazelnuts, optional

Preparation
Place the flour into a large bowl, add in the sugar and the yeast, and whisk nicely. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm milk, oil, vanilla, and the salt, and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon until the dough starts to form and pull away from the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with a lid, and let it rest for 10-15 minutes, just to relax.
After that, transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, add 30 grams of the softened butter, and knead until the dough absorbs it fully. It may take up to 10 minutes for the butter to be absorbed, and the dough may even seem slippery at times, but keep kneading and it will be absorbed. Place the dough back into the bowl and let it rise for about an hour in a warm spot, or until doubled in size.
Near the end of rising time for the dough, melt the dark chocolate, either in a double boiler or in the microwave, and let it cool down slightly. Add in the vanilla, mix well, and then add the hazelnut butter, and mix it through. It does not have to be perfectly blended. If desired, add some finely chopped toasted hazelnuts, and stir them through.
Once risen, press the dough onto the work surface to release all of the air, and then roll it out to a rectangle that is about 5 millimetres thick. Divide the rectangle into three equal strips, and generously spread the filling all over each one, making sure there is a free border on the longer side of each. Gently dampen the free edge with some cold water, and roll the parts of the dough into three long rolls, sealing them well.
Make a simple plait out of them; tuck the ends underneath it, and place it into a small loaf tin (9x18 cm) lined with baking parchment. Cover the top with cling film, and let the dough rise for another 30 minutes. Once risen, melt the reserved butter and brush the dough generously, and then bake it in a preheated oven, at 200°C, for about 25-30 minutes, until baked through and nicely browned. Let it cool down to room temperature, and serve. Yields one small loaf.