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Let me tell you this.

This cake is amazing!

There it is.

I needed to get this off my chest.

Ugh, I feel so much better now.

 

I love this cake because it is fresh, delicious, it has different textures in it, it is satisfying and surprising, there are berries, there is cream cheese… and this is how you can make it…

 
 

Here’s what we need.

 
 

1. First, preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C).

 

2. Then separate the eggs – the yolks into one large bowl, the whites into another large bowl.

 
 

3. Add 1 3/4 cups (200 grams) confectioners’ sugar to the yolks and mix them for a couple of minutes until your batter becomes pale and smooth.

 

To tell you the truth, if I could live my life the way I really wanted, I’d have this egg-yolk-sugar mixture for lunch every day. Every single day. It’s beyond tempting and delicious for me.

I know, I am creepy.

But let’s forget it.

 
 

4. Now add the flour into your batter and give it another quick stir.

 
 

5. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.

 
 

6. With a rubber spatula, gently fold one-third of the whites into the egg-yolk mixture to loosen the batter.

 
 

7. Then fold in the remaining whites.

 
 

8. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Mist it with some vegetable oil and dust it with flour lightly.

I am using a 12 x 15 inch (30 x 38 cm) baking pan here. You can use a smaller pan if you want your cake squares to be a little taller.

 

9. Pour one half (!) of the batter into the pan and spread it evenly.

We need two cake layers for this cake, that is why the batter should be baked in two batches.

Okay, it could be baked in one go and sliced in half afterward, but I am not that daring.

You can be.

But I am not.

 
 

10. Bake at 350 °F (175 °C) for about 12 – 15 minutes until golden-brown.

 
 

11. Before you remove your first cake layer from the oven, lay a sheet of parchment paper on your working surface and dust it lightly with some confectioners’ sugar.

 

12. When baked, invert the cake layer onto the paper.

 
 

13. And remove the top paper.

Let cool.

 

14. Line the baking pan with parchment paper again, fill it with the remaining batter and bake it.

When baked, leave that cake layer in the baking pan and don’t remove it.

Just let it cool.

That will be the bottom layer of our cake.

Well, not ‘our’ literally, the cake will be yours only, unless you send me some.

 
 

15. Now, let’s make the yummy cream cheese filling.

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, butter, sugar, and sour cream.

 
 

16. Mix until smooth.

This will take a couple of minutes.

 
 

17. Pour the heavenly filling onto the first layer.

 
 

18. And spread it.

 
 

 
 

19. Place the second layer on top of the filling.

 
 

20. Grab about 1/2 cup of your favorite jam or preserves.

 
 

21. And spread the jam over the cake layer.

This will help to moisten up the cake beautifully.

And it adds another beautiful flavor.

 
 

These are thawed mixed berries.

 
 

22. Scatter the berries over the top.

 
 

 
 

23. And finally, cook the red gelatin according to the instructions.

I used 2 packets. Each one asked for 1 cup (250 ml) of liquid. Altogether, we need 2 cups of the gelatin liquid for this cake.

Also, I used unsweetened gelatin. That is why I had to add some sugar to it.

 
 

24. Pour the cooked gelatin over the fruit.

 
 

25. And let cool completely.

 

26. Then cover the whole cake with plastic wrap, place in the fridge and let firm up for a few hours.

 
 

27. Finally, cut into squares and…

 

Enjoy!

 

(This cake makes about 30 pieces of 2.5 x 2.5 inch (6×6 cm) squares. Pretty enough to make you happy.)

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I am sending you warm greetings from my kitchen.

Because I luv ya!

And because the running oven makes it really, really warm in here.

 

The time before Christmas has a sweet and magical impact on me. I find myself in the kitchen even more often than usual.

Which actually means that instead of 14 hours a day I spend 20 hours here now.

Like yesterday, for example, I made 82 cookies and I don’t even know how that happened to me.

Strange.

 

Anyhow, these lovely Bowtie Cookies were one of those I made yesterday.

The dough has cream cheese in it. It remotely resembles puff pastry, but it is less layered and less fatty. And oh so delicious!

The dough is filled with jam. You wouldn’t believe how gorgeous that combination is.

Let me show you how I prepared them…
 
 

Here’s what we need.
 
 

1. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, butter, sugar, and salt on medium speed until light, about 2 minutes.

 
 

2. Then on low speed, gradually beat in the flour just until mixed. A crumbly mixture will form.
 
 

3. Using your hands, pat the crumbly mixture together to form a dough ball.

 

Oh, and the face – I had to. Again. It’s addictive. Sorry!
 
 

4. Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

 

5. Now, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a square or rectangle about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick.

 

6. Cut the dough into even 2.5 x 2.5 inch (6 x 6 cm) squares.
 
 

I’ve found out that my pizza cutter works best when it comes to cutting pastry.

It’s perfectly sharp.

And pink.

I’m in love with it!
 
 

7. Place 1 teaspoon of the filling in the center of each square.

Use a really thick jam. There are even jam brands out there that are meant for baking. Get one of those, preferably.

Also, when I was making the first batch of these cookies I was a little too generous and placed a little more than one teaspoon of the filling in the center. And I also spread it.

 
 

I don’t recommend that.
 
 

Although the cookies looked amazing before baking, if there’s too much jam, it has a tendency to leak while baking.

 
 

In the second batch I was less generous.

 
 

And the cookies leaked less, they almost didn’t leak at all.

 

7. Back to the instructions… pull 2 opposite corners of the square into the middle, and pinch the edges together to seal.

Pinch the edges well, don’t give them a chance to open back into the square shape while baking.
 
 

8. Place the cookies on the prepared cookie sheet, spacing them about 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) apart.

 

9. Bake at 350 °F (175 °C) for about 12 minutes or until lightly golden.
 
 

10. Let cool on the cookie sheet for 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks.
 

11. Dust the tops with sifted confectioner’s sugar while still warm, then let cool completely.

 

Enjoy, dear friends!

 

(This recipe was loosely adapted from Epicurious.com and makes 40 cookies.)
 

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These straws are super easy to make.

And yummy!

 

Of course, they can be enjoyed as a nibble or finger food year-round, but I think they are especially welcome at Christmas and New Year’s parties.

Mmm. I can imagine them with drinks, salads or thick soups even.

Also, creating these savory treats makes a great project for you and your kids. Just try making them together. I am sure there will be loads and loads of fun.

 
 

Here’s what we need.

 
Yes, this is one of those recipe where you only need very few ingredients.

I am a huge fan of such recipes.
 
 

1. Preheat your oven to 350 °F (175 °C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

 

2. Place the butter, cream cheese, flour, and salt into a bowl.
 
 

3. Combine the ingredients by hand just until a nice ball forms.

 
 

4. Place the dough onto a well floured surface.

 

5. Using a rolling-pin, roll out the dough into about 1/4 inch (0.6 cm) thickness.

If the dough gets too sticky during this process, just use more flour to make the work easier.

 
 

6. Now cut the dough into even strips. My ones were 3/4 inch (2 cm) wide and 4 1/2 inches (11 cm) long.

 

If you want them to look super fancy, use a fluted pastry wheel cutter.

Oh, and it helps a lot if you dip the cutter in flour beforehand.

 

7. Re-roll any scraps and cut more strips.
 
 

8. Lay the strips on the lined baking sheet. Brush them with a lightly beaten egg.

This will make them beautifully golden in color.
 
 

9. Lastly, sprinkle each strip with some salt, sesame seeds and cumin.

I only had ground cumin seeds on hand when I was making these cuties. I think that the whole ones would look even better.
 
 

9. Bake at 350 °F (175 °C) for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

 

Enjoy, dear friends!

 

(This recipe makes about 30 straws and takes 45 minutes to prepare.)
 

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Are you one of those people who, like me, had thought that cheesecake and chocolate are not possible together?

Well, then I have something to tell you.

Something very important.

Something enlightening!

Dear friends, cheesecake and chocolate ARE possible to exist together.

SO possible.

Beyond possible!

Finger-licking possible!

Let me show you…
 
 

These are our lovely ingredients.
 

1. First, place the first three ingredients in the bowl of your electric mixer…
 
 

2. …and beat them at medium-low speed until combined.

Then increase the speed to medium, and beat until well blended and crumbly.
 
 

3. Pat the mixture into a lightly greased 13 x 9-inch (33 x 22 cm) pan.

A good trick is to use the bottom part of a measuring cup or a glass to do that.
 
 

4. Preheat your oven to 350 °F (175 °C) and bake for 13-15 minutes or until lightly browned.

This is a lovely, delicious and easy substitute for crushed wafers that are often used in cheesecake recipes.

Cool, huh?
 
 

5. Now, let’s make the cheesecake filling.

Place the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of your electric mixer and beat at medium speed until creamy.
 
 

6. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating at low speed just until blended after each addition.
 
 

7. Finally, add the sour cream, vanilla, and one cup of the chocolate chunks.

Beat just until blended.

Of course, you can use chocolate chips instead of the chunks.
 
 

8. Pour the cheesecake mixture over the baked crust.
 
 

9. And using a spoon or an offset spatula, even out the surface.
 
 

10. Bake at 350 °F (175 °C) for about 25 minutes or until set.

 

11. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
 
 

12. Then melt the rest of your chocolate chunks.

Microwave oven will work just fine.

(Oh, and use microwave friendly dishes, please. The one in the picture hadn’t gone to the microwave oven. If it had, things would have gotten sparkly… I guess. Don’t ask me how I know. Please.)

 
 

13. Stir the melted chocolate until smooth. Then drizzle the chocolate over the cheesecake.

 

14. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours. Then cut into bars.

Also, I’ve found out that it’s fine to reheat the bars in the microwave oven for a little while before serving. That way the chocolate will melt slightly making the whole eating experience even more divine.
 
 

Enjoy, dear friends.

 

(This lovely recipe was adapted from here. The recipe makes about 14 3×1.5-inch (8 x 4 cm) bars. The recipe takes about 1 hour to prepare and about 4 hours to chill. And the whole thing takes about 10 minutes to eat. Funny but true.)
 

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My name is Petra and I am… ahem… a cheesecake maniac.

Yes, I dream about cheesecakes.

Yes, I collect cheesecake recipes.

Yes, I’ve prepared many.

Yes, I am sure I have yet many of them to prepare.

No, I don’t think there is a power in this world that would stop me from doing so.

Yes, I’ll be showing you all of them.

And YES, I’ll be more than happy if you had a look at how I made this awesome one…

 
 

Here we have our lovely ingredients, ladies and gentlemen.

Of course, there’s a lot of cream cheese in there. But definitely not too much.

That fact suggests that this cheesecake is a milder one.

Which I definitely can confirm (after eating many, many a slices).

Though it is not as rich as New York Cheesecake, I’d define it as being ‘heavenly’ mild.

A heavenly mild cheesecake.

That’s what it is.
 
 

1. To make it, preheat the oven to 284 F (140 C).
 

2. Second, using a vegetable oil, spray a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan.
 

3. Wrap two layers of foil around the pan. This cake is going to be baked in a water bath and the foil will prevent  the water from seeping in.
 
 

4. Place the cream cheese, butter and milk into a metal (or heatproof) bowl.
 

5. Now place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and – stirring constantly – let the ingredients melt.

If you’ve ever wondered why bowls are sometimes placed over simmering water then I have the answer for you. It’s because the ingredients in the bowl need very mild and gentle heat to melt, nothing too strong. In cases such as these, the steam from the simmering water works best. Otherwise some ingredients might not only melt but also cook and curdle. And who wants that?
 
 

6. After the melted cream cheese mixture has cooled to room temperature, add the egg yolks, the cake flour, the cornstarch (corn flour) and the lemon juice.
 

7. Whisk the mixture until smooth.
 
 

8. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until foamy.
 

9. Then add the sugar and whip for another couple of minutes until soft peaks form.
 
 

10. In two batches, pour the cream cheese mixture into the egg whites.
 
 

11. Fold the two batters together gently after each addition…
 
 

12. …until they are well combined.

Try to be as gentle as possible in this process, since we’ve worked hard to make the whites light and airy and we definitely don’t want to lose that.

I am speaking in the name of all whipped egg whites in the world here!
 
 

13. Divide the batter evenly into two bowls and add the cocoa powder into one of them.
 

14. Mix in the cocoa gently.
 

And let the fun begin…
 

15. So this is how the zebra strips are achieved – nothing difficult at all.

Take your sprayed springform pan and place 3 tablespoons of cream colored batter in a circle in the center of the pan. Then take 3 tablespoons of the chocolate batter and place in the center. Keep adding circles and the batter will spread of its own accord.
 
 

16. Find a large baking dish that will fit the springform pan.

Fill the empty baking dish 1/4 of the way full with hot water and place the springform pan inside.
 

17. Bake in the lower third of the oven at 284 F (140 C) for about 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
 

18. Turn off the oven and leave the cake inside (with the door still closed) for another 10 minutes.
 

19. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool completely.
 
 

This cake tastes best after it’s been refrigerated for a couple of hours. It becomes slightly more dense and moist.

Enjoy, dear friends.

(This recipe was adapted from Treats.)
 

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Pierogi, pierogi…what an interesting name.

Martha Stewart, for example, likes to make them and talk about them quite often.

Have you noticed?

It’s kind of the national food of the country her parents came from – Poland.

These cute, boiled dumplings with various kinds of fillings are spread and enjoyed over vast regions of Europe and America too.

Well, who knows, maybe also somewhere else.

If you know more, feel free to let me know.

I’d be very thankful.

Now I’m really curious – do you know them?

Do you like them?

Would you give them a try?

Or would you rather hide around a corner scared?

Well, I gave them a try, and not just once, and you know what?

They are yummilicious…
 
 

These are the ingredients I used to make very simple pierogi.
 
 

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
 
 

2. Add the egg and the butter.
 
 

3. Using a pastry blender or a fork, incorporate the butter and egg into the flour until crumbs form.
 
 

4. Add the water.
 
 

5. With your hand, gather all the ingredients into a ball and knead until it’s rather smooth (for about 4 minutes).

The dough will be a little sticky. To make the kneading easier, dip your hand in some flour.
 
 

6. Now place the dough ball onto a well-floured working surface and roll it out into about 1/5 inch (0.5 cm) thickness.
 
 

7. Then grab a 3-inch (7.5 cm) cookie cutter – or a glass (see? I like the easier solutions so much – probably because I have no clue where my cookie cutter is right now) and cut out cute circles.

The glass or the cutter cuts into the dough much more easily if you dip it into some flour before.
 
 

8. Now we are going to magically turn the dough circle into pierogi.

For these very special purposes, we need the filling.

There are dozens of recipes for scrumptious pierogi fillings out there – sweet or savory. What I think is that this one might be the easiest of them all. Because all you have to do is just open your cream cheese container.

TA DA!

In case you would like to prepare your own flavored cream cheese filling, just go ahead and combine about 3/4 cup plain cream cheese with 1/4 cup plain yogurt, add about 1/2 cup chopped chives and salt to taste. Easy!
 
 

9. Place a small spoonful of the filling into the center of each circle.
 
 

10. Fold over.
 
 

11. And with your fingertip press the edges together to seal.
 
 

You can also use a fork to crimp the edges.
 
 

I used this gadget.

I love it from the deepest depths of my heart.

One day, I might break loose and write a poem about the pierogi press.

It’s my sweetheart from the first day we met.
 
 

I’m sure you’d love it too…
 
 

…if you saw this.

Amazing.

The best helper ever!
 
 

Hello little cuties.

You are having a bath soon!
 
 

12. To cook the pierogi, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.
 

13. Add the pierogi and cook – I recommend cooking them in three batches.

At first, your pierogi will sink. Stir them a little so that they don’t get stuck to the bottom. After a couple of minutes they will rise to the top – from this point on let them cook for additional 2 more minutes.
 
 

14. Using a spoon, remove the pierogi from the pot.
 
 

15.  Drizzle some vegetable oil over a plate or a bottom of a pot and transfer the beauties there.

Toss them around every now and then (while the second and third batches will be cooking) so that they don’t get dry.
 
 

16. Meanwhile, you can prepare the sauce.

Again, it’s unbelievably simple and easy.

But then, I am afraid I am never going to come up with something difficult.

So…in a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk until the mixture starts to bubble.
 
 

17. Then add the broth, milk…
 
 

…and the cheese.

Stir until combined.

Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring constantly. Then remove the saucepan from heat.
 
 

18. Oh, and then I added the sweet paprika powder.

I just thought it would create a nice color contrast between the pierogi and the sauce.

 
 

Yummy.

Pierogi taste best when served warm (and with love, preferably).

Enjoy, dear friends.

(This recipe makes 22 pieces of pierogi and I guess you won’t spend more than one hour preparing it.)

 

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The other day, I stumbled upon a recipe for Strawberry Parfaits.

It took just one look and I knew I needed them in my life.

Definitely.

And really soon.

No doubt about it.

They looked scrumptious and refreshing and irresistible and… simply excellent.

If something in this big wide world can be referred to as  ‘perfection in a glass’ then it’s definitely this dessert.

Please, please, you have to make it.

It’s that last step you need to make to achieve true happiness.
 
 

This is what you need to prepare the little cuties.
 
 

1. First, in your food processor, crush the biscuits finely.

You know what?

I love my high-end gadgetry.

This lovely piece, for example,  is going on the market next fall.

I was really lucky to get it in advance.
 
 

These are the butter biscuits I’ve used.

Oh, how we love them – especially sandwiched with jam.

Just wanted to let you know…
 
 

Anyway, these are the biscuit crumbs.
 
 

2. Mix the crumbs with one tablespoon sugar…
 
 

3. … and 2 tablespoons melted butter.

You can use a fork to combine it all together.
 
 

4. Then, in the bowl of your electric mixer, mix the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and almond extract.
 
 

5. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.
 
 

6. Using a spatula, gently fold the cream cheese mixture with the whipped cream just until combined.
 
 

7. Slice the strawberries into a larger bowl, sprinkle them with a tablespoon of sugar and toss them around the bowl a little.
 
 

8. Then we are going to need four glasses.
 
 

9. Place about a tablespoon of the crumbs  in the bottom of your glasses.
 
 

10. Then layer some of the cheesecake filling, …
 
 

11. … then add some strawberries …
 
 

12. … and repeat this procedure once more.
 
 

13. Sprinkle the top with some more crumbs and garnish with strawberries and a mint leaf.
 
 

14. Refrigerate for about 1-2 hours before serving …
 
 

… which is exactly what I haven’t done.

Enjoy, dear friends.

This recipe makes about 4 1-cup (250 ml) glasses.

(The recipe was adapted from here.)
 

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