Thursday, August 16, 2007

Recipes 1 & 2: Birds' Nests & Honeycake squares

Birds' Nests
Time: about 70 minutes + cooling time. Makes approx. 20.

Almond layers:
200 g baking marzipan (almond mass)
8 tbs sugar
2 egg whites

Grate the marzipan and mix with half the sugar. Whip the egg whites until stiff and add the remaining half of the sugar to them, a little at a time. Add the egg whites to the almond mass a little at a time and mix into a smooth mass.
Put the almond mass into a pastry bag and squeeze with a circular motion into individual portions about 4 1/2 cm across (it doesn't say how thick, but 1 1/2 cm should be about right. These cakes do not expand during baking) onto a baking sheet covered with baking paper. Bake at 200°C for 12-15 minutes. Pick the baking paper up with the cakes still on and put on a rack to cool.

Butter icing:
100 ml sugar
3 tbs water
2 egg yolks
125 g butter, soft

Cook a clear syrup from the sugar and water and cool. Pour over the egg yolks and whip until light and fluffy. Put the butter in a mixer and add the egg mixture a little at a time until you have a smooth paste.
Remove the pastries from the baking paper and smooth a little icing on top of each pastry. Put the rest of the icing in a pastry bag with a small nozzle and pipe a rim all around the edge of each pastry. This rim will hold the fruit pieces so they don't slip off. Refrigerate until the icing is firm.

125 g dark chocolate
2 tbs coconut oil

Melt the chocolate over a water-bath and add the oil. Mix well. Dip the icing-covered part of each pastry into the chocolate, to coat. Cool the pastries before adding the topping.

Preserved fruit, for example mandarin orange sections, pineapple and red cocktail cherries
200 ml liquid from the preserved fruit
3 sheets of gelatin (about 5 g)

Remove the fruit from the liquid and keep the liquid. Drain the fruit well. Cut the fruit pieces into smaller pieces if necessary and put three pieces of different fruit into each "nest".

Soak the gelatine in a little water for 5 minutes. Squeeze out the water from the gelatine and melt it in 2 tbs of the fruit liquid (heat in a saucepan over low heat and beat gently with a whisk). Add the rest of the fruit liquid and cool in a cold water-bath, stirring constantly until the mixture begins to stiffen. Brush a thin layer over the fruit on every cake and refrigerate.

Honeycake Squares
Time: about 100 minutes. Makes approx. 20 pieces.

250 g honey
100 g dark brown sugar
100 g butter
2 eggs, beaten
300 g flour
2 tsp hartshorn powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground cloves
12 tsp ground ginger
Grated peel of one orange
50 g coarsely ground almonds
2 tbs preserved orange peel, chopped

Warm the honey, brown sugar and butter in a saucepan, stirring constantly until mixed. The mixture must not boil. Cool until lukewarm. Add the beaten eggs, a little at a time. Mix together flour, hartshorn, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and grated orange peel. Add to the honey mixture and mix well. Add the almonds and preserved orange peel.
Line a small oven-pan or shallow square baking pan with baking paper and put in the dough, smoothing it well. Bake at 165°C for about 45 minutes. Cool a little, then remove from the pan and cool completely on a rack. Cut into squares with a sharp knife.

Chocolate glaze:
75 g dark chocolate, grated
75 g sugar
3 tbs boiling water

Melt the chocolate over a water-bath. Dissolve the sugar in the boiling water and add to the melted chocolate. Stir over the hot water-bath until smooth and well mixed. Glaze the cake squares.

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