My Little Chequered Kitchen

Desserts for Special Occasions

Dutch Speculoos Pie with Orange Liqueur Cream …

DSC_4772In my opinion, I’ve assimilated pretty well into Dutch culture.  Unlike a lot of expatriates who come to live in Holland, I actually speak the language (albeit rather badly), I only hang out with Dutchies, I’m not ashamed to admit that I listen to Guus Meeuwis and Jan Smit (Dutch singers) … yes I’m genuinely in love with my adopted country and its people.  

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But there has been one aspect of Dutch culture that has failed to win me over, and that’s their cuisine. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike it.  In fact I always over-indulge when I visit my mother-in-law who is a fantastic cook.  But, Dutch food just doesn’t inspire me in the same way that Italian, Asian, or even Greek, Spanish or French food does.   

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That’s why for June’s FoodBlogSwap, I decided to bite the bullet and tackle something that is typically Dutch.  So, when I saw that I had been given the Dutch food blog  “Judith’s Cakes” to cook from, I jumped at the chance to make this Speculoos Pie (or as the Dutch call it, “Speculaastaart”).  

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Choosing from Judith and Jaap’s blog was the biggest challenge I’ve had to face so far in the Dutch FoodBlogSwap event.  There were just so many delicious sweet treats to choose from!  But this pie really struck me as being completely different to anything I had tried to make before, and so my curiosity was piqued.

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According to Wikipedia, speculoos (Dutch: speculaas, or in New Zealand we often call them “Dutch Windmill Biscuits”) is a type of spiced shortcrust biscuit, traditionally eaten during the feast of St Nicholas (Sinterklaas) in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Northern France and around Christmas in Germany. Speculoos biscuits are thin, very crunchy, slightly browned and, most significantly, have some image or figure (often from the traditional stories about St. Nicholas) stamped on the front side before baking. 

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The most striking thing about speculoos biscuits however is the flavour, which is a combination of spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom and white pepper (therefore similar to English mixed spice).   

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This pie is therefore a tribute to the flavour and texture of speculoos biscuits.  The recipe itself, as far as I’m aware, is not especially typically Dutch, but the combination of flavours and ingredients certainly are.  The spices together with the almond paste and dried fruits will conjure up vivid memories of Sinterklaas and Christmas for any Dutch person.  And of course that really means that I should have made this in November or December.  Meh!  

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Judith and Jaap from Judith’s Cakes used small round balls of the dough to form the design on the top of their pie.  I think it looks absolutely fantastic, but as I lack the assistance of small children in my home, I just didn’t have the patience to stand there and roll all of those tiny little balls!  

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I therefore decided to get a bit creative and ended up cutting out strips of the dough and platting them over the pie, finishing off with with little stars to fill up all of the gaps. And of course, if you were to make this at Christmastime, then this pattern would be absolutely perfect. But you should feel free to use your own imagination and create your own unique design to top it off.  

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So, do I regret choosing something “typically Dutch” to cook from Judith and Jaap’s food blog? Absolutely not!  This pie was delicious!  It’s definitely going to remain a part of my repertoire and I hope some day to have the opportunity to make it around Christmastime in New Zealand for my family and to showcase to them that Dutch cuisine is actually all that after all!  

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… oh and by the way, don’t skip the orange liqueur cream as garnish to this dessert.  It’s absolutely divine!!

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Dutch Speculoos Pie with Orange Liqueur Cream ...
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Ingredients
For the pastry ...
300 gram white flour
100 gram brown sugar
pinch of salt
200 gram cold butter
2 tablespoons mixed spice or "speculaaskruiden"
For the filling ...
75 gram dried apricots
75 gram raisins
100 ml + 1 tablespoon freshly pressed orange juice
2 large apples
300 gram almond paste (marzipan is also fine)
For the orange liqueur cream ...
1 cup of cream
2 tablespoons castor sugar
1 tablespoon orange liqueur or orange essence
Instructions
To make the pastry, first thoroughly mix the dry ingredients together in the bowl of an electric stand mixer (or a large bowl if you want to knead the dough by hand).
Cut butter into little blocks and add to the bowl with the dry ingredients.
Using the dough hook on your electric stand mixer, knead the dough until it comes together. If the dough won't come together and is too crumbly, then add a teaspoon of cold water and continue kneading. Keep adding teaspoons of cold water until the dough forms a ball around the dough hook.
Take about two thirds of the dough and form it into a flat round disc. Then roll it out onto a well-floured bench until it forms a large enough circle to line your loose-bottomed pie tin.
Spray the pie tin with baking spray before gently lying the rolled out dough on top and pushing it into the tin. Take your time with this, as you want the dough to evenly line the tin and you want it pressed in well.
Put the tin into the fridge to allow it to firm up while you prepare the filling.
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
Cut the dried apricots into small pieces and mix together with the raisins.
Put the dried fruits and the orange juice into a small pot and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the fruit softens and have absorbed most of the juice.
Meanwhile, peel the skins off the apples and cut the flesh into little pieces and add to the apricots and rasins.
Next take the almond paste (or marzipan) and use your fingers to crumble it into flakes into the pot with the fruit.
Add about another tablespoon of orange juice to the fruit and loosely mix everything together.
Add the fruit mixture and spread it evenly into the pastry case.
Next, take the rest of the dough and roll it out into a large rectangle. Cut the dough into strips and plait the strips over the fruit mixture leaving small gaps in between each strip. Use any remaining dough cut-offs to roll out and make stars with a little star-shaped pastry cutter. Use the stars to fill up all the gaps on the pie.
Place the pie in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes or until the pastry is nice and golden.
Once cooked, let the pie cool in the tin before taking it out and serving.
To make the whipped cream, simply beat the cream and sugar together until it forms soft peaks.
Add the orange liqueur or essence and beat for another few seconds until combined and the cream still forms soft peaks.
Serve a slice of the Speculoos Pie with a dash of the whipped cream on the side.
Adapted from Judith's Cakes (original source: "Taart, zoet en hartig"
My Little Chequered Kitchen http://mylittlechequeredkitchen.com/

Sticky Date Pudding …

If I had read Nigella’s introduction to her Chocolate Section in “How to become a Domestic Goddess” a few years ago, I would have cursed her as an heretic and tossed her now legendary cookbook in the rubbish bin.  Chocolate and all things chocolate was God.  I was a self-confessed chocoholic and a fully subscribed member of chocoholic’s anonymous.   

 

These days, my tastes have expanded to include many sweet things that aren’t made of or contain chocolate;  and now when I choose a dessert off a restaurant menu, I will more likely choose something fruity over something chocolaty. 

Now this Sticky Date Pudding has the unique ability to mess with your mind.  It looks like it’s a chocolate pudding, and so it conjures up all those warm tingly feelings you get when you fix your eye on anything chocolate.  But, in fact, this pudding contains no chocolate whatsoever. 

 

I have to admit that I’m ashamed to be 30 something and yet I’ve never before in my life tried Sticky Date Pudding or any of its variants.  It’s now firmly on my list of “keepers” (whenever I try a new recipe, I always ask Meneer Prins whether it’s a keeper or not.  This one definitely is).  I was inspired to make it when watching Simon Hopkinson, otherwise known as “The Good Cook” on BBC a couple of Saturdays ago while he made his Sticky Toffee Pudding

 
 

I’ve put a couple of my own twists on this recipe, including keeping aside a few pieces of chopped dates to add some texture to the sponge, rather than putting everything in the food processor.  Also I couldn’t find molasses sugar in the Dutch supermarkets, and so I’ve used liquid palm sugar instead which produced the same dark richness both in colour and in taste.

Also, rather than making one big pudding like I did, it would also be equally divine if you were to cook the batter in individual moulds (I’m thinking muffin tins or something similar) as then you’ll get more of the chewy crust.  But although individual portions can look more professional – as if it were served at a restaurant – I’m more a fan of rustic home cooking.  There is something comforting and sentimental about scooping up your own serving from a bigger dish.

However keep in mind that the more shallow the dish you use (like I did, and like Simon used) the thinner the  sponge.  Next time I’d like to try it in a deeper dish to get more height from the sponge.

 
 
Sticky Date Toffee Pudding
Serves 8
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Ingredients
or the sponge ...
175g pitted, chopped dates (pitloos dadels)
1 tsp (heaped) baking soda
50g butter
pinch of salt
75g demerara / raw sugar (rietsuiker)
75g liquid palm sugar
2 large eggs
175g flour (tarwebloem)
3 tspn baking powder (bakpoeder)
1 tsp vanilla essence
for the topping ...
250ml cream (slagroom)
80g butter
100g dark brown sugar (donkere basterdsuiker)
1/2 cup liquid palm sugar
for the extra sauce ...
500ml cream (slagroom)
50g butter
50g dark brown sugar (donkere basterdsuiker)
1/2 cup liquid palm sugar
Whipped cream to serve (opgeklopte room)
Instructions
Preheat oven to 180 degree celsius.
Chop up the dates using kitchen scissors, and then soak in 275ml of boiling water. Set aside to cool.
Add the rest of the sponge ingredients to the bowl of a food processor. Once the dates have cooled to room temperature, keep about 1/4 of a cup of them aside, before adding the rest to the other ingredients.
Blend the mixture using a food processor until smooth. Add the remaining dates, and then pour the mixture into a greased baking dish and put in the oven for about 40 minutes.
While the sponge is in the oven, you can simultaneously make the topping and sauce. Add the ingredients for both into two separate pots, and heat on a stove top until the mixtures start to boil and thicken.
When the sponge is ready, pull out of the oven and pour the topping over the sponge. Put the dish back into the oven under a moderately hot grill until the topping starts to bubble.
Serve with a generous amount of the sauce and a lashing of whipped cream.
Eet Smakelijk!!!
Monique xx
Notes
Approximater WeightWatchers ProPoints value per serve: 24
Adapted from Simon Hopkindson
Adapted from Simon Hopkindson
My Little Chequered Kitchen http://mylittlechequeredkitchen.com/

Lemon & Mascarpone Meringue Roll …

 

WARNING!  This one is a sugar bomb.  But if you have a very sweet tooth and enjoy indulging once in a while, then this will be pure heaven!  Lemon Meringue Pie has always been one of, if not my ultimate indulgence when it comes to desserts.  I just love the tangy yellow lemon curd mixed with the sugary sweet meringue.  In fact, I’m crazy about meringue and being the Kiwi that I am, I’ve always been passionate about Pavlova.  This then, is another alternative to a Lemon Meringue Pie as well as a unique twist to a traditional Pavlova.   

 

It does take a little time and effort in bringing the three components to the dessert together, but it’s more a question of allowing enough time, rather than worrying about any difficult techniques.  First up you will need to make the meringue base.  I will be posting my tips and recipe for making any Pavlova base in another post.  It’s something that chefs like to call difficult, but I’ve never had a Pavlova fail.  I really don’t think it’s as difficult as everyone makes it out to be!  With this recipe, the trick is making sure it is evenly spread out into a roasting dish or swiss-roll tin. 

 

The lemon curd is quick and easy to make, but make sure you allow time for it to cool and thicken, ideally in the fridge.  You may want to double the recipe for the curd so that you can keep some in a jar for other uses. It’s even nice spread out on toast!   The last component is the mascarpone cream.  You want to ensure you have enough whipped cream added to the mascarpone so that it can be easily spread out over the lemon curd.  Leaving the mascarpone out to warm to room temperature will make this task easier. You want more lemon curd than mascarpone cream, otherwise the dessert becomes to rich. 

Don’t stress too much about the rolling stage.  It’s easier than you may think!  The meringue shell will crack, but that’s fine.  The firm cream and lemon curd somehow holds the whole thing together.  I recommend putting the finished roll into the fridge before serving, as it keeps everything firm so that it’s easy to cut into nice slices.  

 

 
Lemon & Mascarpone Meringue Roll
Serves 8
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Ingredients
for the meringue ...
6 egg whites
2 cups castor sugar (fijne kristalsuiker)
1 tspn cornflour (maizebloom)
1 tspn vanilla
1 tspn white vinegar (azijn)
for the lemon curd ...
200g butter
1 cup caster sugar (fijne kristalsuiker)
grated rind & juice of 3 lemons
4 eggs
for the mascarpone cream ...
1 cup of mascarpone
1 cup of cream (slagroom)
1 1/2 tspns vanilla
1/2 cup icing sugar (poedersuiker)
coconut for sprinkling
Instructions
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees celcius.
In a free-standing mixer, start beating the egg whites. Carefully and slowly begin to add the castor sugar until it is all incorporated and the mixture is thick and glossy white (please take your time!!).
Once the meringue mixture is ready, add the cornflour, vanilla, and vinegar and continue beating slowly until combined.
Heap the mixture into a lined swiss-roll tin or roasting dish and smooth out until it fills the tin evenly.
Sprinkle with a good layer of coconut and bake for 25 minutes.
Once cooked, leave to cool for a few minutes before turning the meringue out onto a lined baking tray that is ideally bigger than your swiss-roll tin / roasting dish - the best way is to lie the baking tray paper down onto the swiss-roll tin, and gently but quickly flip it over. Then peel off the baking paper that is now on top of the meringue (the toasted coconut will now be on the bottom).
To make the lemon curd, melt the butter in a small pot. Once melted, whisk in the sugar, lemon rind and eggs and continue whisking over medium heat until the lemon curd starts to boil. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
To make the mascarpone cream, whip the cream before mixing into the mascarpone, icing sugar and vanilla essence. Make sure the mascarpone cream isn't too thick, otherwise it will be difficult to spread.
Once the meringue and the lemon curd have cooled properly, spread the lemon curd evenly over the meringue, followed by a thinner layer of the mascarpone cream.
Using the baking paper underneath the meringue to help you, begin to slowly roll the meringue. The tighter the roll the better.
Cut off the messy ends before placing on a platter to serve. I recommend putting it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm everything up which will make it a lot easier to cut into slices.
Eet Smakelijk!!
Monique xx
Notes
Approximate WeightWatcher ProPoints value per serve: 21
Adapted from Jo Seagar's "It's Easier Than you Think!"
My Little Chequered Kitchen http://mylittlechequeredkitchen.com/