Recently I have been getting a lot of traffic for an old post. An really old post. With terrible pictures and links that don’t work anymore. And while the pictures may be awful, the recipes are great and still two of my favourites. That is why I want to update them today. They are Christmas recipes and I am aware that I am pushing the season very early this year. But you never know what will happen in December. I know me and I’ll probably post the next cookie recipes two days after Christmas. Plus, we already went to see a Christmas movie at the cinema yesterday and my kid is singing “Oh Tannenbaum” 24/7.

The old post I want to brush up here had a recipe for cinnamon stars (cookies) and speculoos truffles based on my recipe for speculoos spread (cookie butter). For this entry, I updated both the recipes and the pictures. There are corners of this blog which are such a building site and a few items definitely need a bit of remodeling.

Speculoos truffles and gluten-free cinnamon stars {Zimtsterne}

These gluten-free cinnamon stars are a very traditional and well-known German Christmas season cookie. They are in a way the elegant version of macaroons, because recipes always call for lots of meringue. The first time I posted this to the blog I winged it somehow. I made flax eggs and added rice syrup. At that time I thought I had ended up with a decent enough result.

That was way before we all discovered the magic baking properties of canned chickpea water aka aquafaba. And of course, if you make these cookies with aquafaba, they turn out absolutely perfect! They aren’t too crispy and even will soften after a day. Which is how I remember the original version. The only trick here is to whip up the aquafaba really thick. It should have almost the same texture as marshmallow fluff. To do this, I always use a pinch of guar gum. In Germany, guar gum is often available at health food stores whereas xanthan gum is much harder to find. If you can only find xanthan, you can use that instead. If you cannot find both of these or don’t want to use them, use half a teaspoon of lemon juice or white vinegar instead. That should do the trick.

You have to whip up the aquafaba in two steps: First you mix the liquid with guar gum (xanthan etc.) and beat it for 5 minutes until it has stiff peaks. I always use a handheld mixer for this. Then you add about 25 g (1/4 cup) of powdered sugar and whip until the mass is very thick and looks similar to the marshmallow fluff on of the pictures here. It needs a solid texture, so it will hold all the ground nuts you have to mix in later.

The second recipe I am updating today is a chocolate candy made from speculoos spread (biscoff spread or cookie butter). Back in 2009 I was one of the first who made a homemade version for the at that time trending spread. It is easily made at home from the popular Lotus (Biscoff) caramel cookies (speculoos) but I often use traditional German spekulatius cookies.

Speculoos truffles and gluten-free cinnamon stars {Zimtsterne}

When I made this the first time I used traditional ingredients that were quite similar to those found on the package of a jar of speculoos spread. One of the ingredients was refined coconut oil. I still use this fat a lot but I know that some people cannot tolerate it very well. So I do now have an updated version made with nut butter. You should probably try both of today’s recipes, but the speculoos truffles are very addictive. I love to give them as a present, too. Also, if you’re going to watch the US election tomorrow, you might want some food helping you deal with all the stress.

Spekulatiuspralinen | Speculoos Truffles


Cinnamon Stars // Speculoos Truffles

46 cookies and 15 truffles


Cinnamon Stars
60 ml (1/4 cup) aquafaba
1/4 teaspoon guar gum (or xanthan)
225 g (3 cups) ground nuts (almonds or hazelnuts)
25 g (1/4 cup) plus 50 g (1/2 cup) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon ground clementine peel or lemon zest
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the frosting:
100 g (1 cup) powdered sugar
5-6 teaspoons lemon juice
Speculoos Truffles
150 g spekulatius cookies (or similar)
1 tablespoon agave nectar
100 g (1/4 cup plus 1/8 cup) cashew or almond butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
150 g melted chocolate for dipping


To make the cinnamon stars

Place aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas) and guar gum in a narrow bowl.

With a handheld mixer whip for 5 minutes, or until stiff peaks form.

Add 25 g powdered sugar and whip for another 2 to 5 minutes, or until the mixture resembles thick marshmallow fluff or very stiff whipped cream.

Place remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.

Add whipped aquafaba and use a spatula to fold it into the nut mixture. This will take one or two minutes. Your dough will be stiff and sticky.

Preheat the oven to 150°C and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll the cinnamon star dough out 1/2 cm thick) between two sheets of plastic wrap.

Cut out as many cookies as possible.

Form the dough scraps into a ball, roll out again and cut out more cookies until no dough is left.

Place on a baking sheet. Bake one sheet at a time for 11 minutes or until the bottoms are only slightly browned.

Let cool on a cookie rack.

To make the frosting, place powdered sugar in a small bowl and add lemon juice by the teaspoon. You'll want a stiff frosting that can be spread but will not drip off your cookies.

Dip the cookies upside down into the frosting and let dry on a cookie sheet.

Store in an airtight container. The cookies will soften after a day.

To make the speculoos truffles

Use a food processor to grind your cookies into a very fine meal.

Place in a bowl and add remaining ingredients.

Stir until everything is combined well.

Place in the fridge for about an hour.

Melt your dipping chocolate and have a piece of parchment ready.

Remove your spread from the fridge and use a teaspoon to scoop out a portion of the spread.

You can form it into balls or shape it only roughly.

Dip into the melted chocolate and let dry on a piece of parchment paper.

Store in the fridge.




Every year during spring and summer I put myself on an apple fast. I don’t eat them anymore because all of a sudden I think they are the most boring fruit in the whole world. In spring there’s rhubarb that suddenly seems so much more interesting. And then summer starts and brings fantastic berries and amazing stone fruits. Also, apple aren’t in season during summer. There’s really no need to eat them.

This year summer was long and I was still sweating in September. I bought a new jacket and haven’t used it so far. The berries disappeared though and made room for lots and lots of apple boxes with about ten to twelve different varieties. There were pears, too. (I only mention this because this apple cake can be made with pears as well.) Right now my favourite apple is called Santana. It’s originally from the Netherlands and a cross between one of my favourites, Elstar, and some fairy tale apple called Priscilla, with which Santana probably shares its beautiful bright red colour. Santanas are juicy and firm and have a perfect balance between sweet and sour, leaning a tiny bit more to the sour side. Which makes the perfect baking apples.

Santana Apple Cake

This is a simple apple cake recipe which may not look like much. I whipped it up on Friday before heading to work. I didn’t even use a proper recipe. I left it on the kitchen table and when I went on my break about three and a half hours later the cake was gone. Those coworkers just left some crumbs for me. But instead of complaining I’ll take that as a compliment for this cake. I made another one on Saturday and this time I managed to write down the recipe. Which was a bit tricky. For many German apple cakes (especially the one called versunkener Apfelkuchen – sunken apple cake),the apples are cut in a certain way and I found this very hard to translate and describe. You have to quarter the apples. (They are usually peeled, but I didn’t bother for my second cake and it makes a difference. So peel them.) Then you have to cut little lines on the backs of the quarters. Those have to be deep, but not so deep your apple quarters will fall apart. Cutting the apples this way will make them fan out after baking. It looks really pretty. You can see it very well in the first picture.

The only really special thing about this cake is one of its ingredients. Whenever I make something with apples I love to add a bit of nutmeg and a few scrapes of tonka bean. If you are from the US you are probably not familiar with this spice. It’s banned. And even in Europe, where you can buy it perfectly legal, it’s not commonly used. If you can find tonka beans, use them. If not just leave the spice out. The cake will turn out deliciously with cinnamon and nutmeg as well.

I am quite happy I do finally have some leftovers from the second cake I made. We’re going to spend our autumn vacation packing. We’re moving soon and have to put everything in boxes starting today. Also, my daughter’s birthday is coming up. Five. She’s going to be five. And gave me exact descriptions of everything. I already impremented her birthday invitation card ideas and now all there’s left to do is a cake. Which will probably end up on the blog at some point.

Happy Monday and have a great week!

Santana Apple Cake


For the filling
2 apples, suitable for baking, cored, peeled, and quartered
For the cake
180 g (1 1/2 cups) flour
3 tablespoons chickpea flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
150 g (3/4 cup) white sugar
30 g (2 tablespoons, packed) brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground tonka bean
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
180 ml (3/4 cup) soy milk
90 ml (1/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons) rapeseed or other vegetable oil
For the streusel topping
150 g (1 1/4 cups) flour
75 g (5 3/4 tablespoons) white sugar
55 g (1/4 cup) refined coconut oil, at room temperature
2 tablespoons rapeseed or other vegetable oil


To make the filling, make fan shaped incisions into the apple quarters: With a small sharp knife make thin, deep lines on the back of each quarter. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200°C and grease a 26 cm springform pan.

For the cake combine flours, baking powder, sugars, and spices in a bowl and mix.

Add liquid ingredients and stir until no lumps are left in the batter.

Pour into the pan.

Prepare the streusel topping by combining all ingredients.

Knead with your hands until you can form large crumbs.

Place the apple quarters on the batter (incisions up) and place the streusel on top.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the cake is golden brown.

Let rest for five minutes, then remove from pan and let cool completely.

Santana Apple Cake




Before I can introduce today’s apricot cheesecake recipe I have to start with a couple of technical things. Because for this recipe, you are going to make your own quark. (No worries, it’s very easy!)

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that German cheesecakes are different from Northern American cheesecakes. Traditionally we use quark instead of cream cheese. Quark (or topfen in Austria) is a kind of soft cheese that is made from sour milk. It’s an early stage of regular cheese. Quark is similar to cream cheese somehow, but its texture is a bit more grainy. It also tastes differently. It is a bit blander and more sour than cream cheese. It comes in different varieties with different fat levels.

Vegan versions of quark do exist, although they do not really taste like the original version. Most also have a different texture. A popular yoghurt and soy milk brand seems to make their quark by reducing the amount of liquid in their yoghurt, to obtain a firmer texture. That is something what German vegans have been doing for years and this method is also the one I am showing you today.

There are several methods to strain your yoghurt and over time I have tried a few. At first I used a coffee dripper and a  filter. I placed the dripper over a bowl and poured the yoghurt inside. Then I let it drain in the fridge over night. I never really liked that method because I didn’t have much influence on the straining and the yogurt was difficult to scrape out.

Then I used a cheesecloth but whenever I tried to squeeze that, huge blobs of yoghurt would squirt out. Then I read about nut bags. Umfortunately they are so insanely expensive that I never bothered buying them. (12 € for a scrap of polyester? Come on!) And I am glad about that now. I found a super cheap alternative and maybe you have access to that, too. (Or a nut bag.) At German drugstores you can buy laundry bags made from polyester. (I bought mine at a chain called dm.) They are very similar to a nut bag but cost only a fraction. And these are the bags I use for making quark.

Apricot Cheesecake: vegan no-bake recipe. No creamcheese, no nuts.

I usually pour the yoghurt into the bag and hook it up. (The laundry bag has a long, adjustable string.) It let it hang like that for three to four hours and drain the liquid that has collected at the bottom of the mixing bowl.

After that I place a kitchen towel at the bottom of the bowl and place the yoghurt filled laundry bag on top of the towel. Then I let the yoghurt rest in the fridge for a night. The next morning the yoghurt has usually lost half its weight and is thick and creamy.

Apricot Cheesecake: vegan no-bake recipe. No cream cheese, no nuts.

If you don’t have access to nut or laundry bags, you can still make quark. Pour your yoghurt into a double layered cheesecloth or a regular kitchen towel. Tie it up with a small piece of thread and hook it up. If you haven’t got any hooks, you can try to tie it around the tap on your kitchen sink. Sometimes that works. Or you leave out that step and start by placing the filled kitchen towel in your bowl. Over night it should be able to soak up a lot of liquid even if you didn’t drain the yoghurt before.

Now that you’ve done all that, you have your cheesecake base! And believe me, it’s worth all the work. The cake you are going to make with this quark is very creamy and light. It also doesn’t require baking, there are no expensive cashew or other nuts in it and it reqires only a few more ingredients. Of course I couldn’t do without the coconut oil. If you are sensitive to that, you can replace it with margarine. That will definitely work for the crust. The filling might need a tiny bit more agar though. (Start with 1/4 teaspoon.)

Apricot Cheesecake: vegan no-bake recipe. No cream cheese, no nuts.

Oh, one last thing: This time I didn’t use regular agar agar. We have a product called Agartine, that is meant to replace gelatine in baking. The difference to regular agar is that Agartine is thinned with maltodextrin. One package measures 10 grams, of which 20 % are agar. So if you want to replace the Agartine with regular powdered agar agar, use 1 teaspoon (2 g).

As I already said, this cheesecake has a very light and creamy texture.It tastes mild and fresh and is only lightly sweetened. That makes a great base for the caramelised apricots which go on top. The crust couldn’t be easier: A simple two incredient cookie crust that is stored in the fridge so it will hold together well. I think this recipe is a great alternative both for those who don’t have access to cream cheese (or don’t like it’s taste) and for those who have to avoid nuts (or cannot afford them in the quantitiy that is usually necessary for no-bake vegan cheesecakes). So this apricot cheesecake is easy to make, and except for the agar agar, it doesn’t require any fancy or expensive ingredients.

Apricot Cheesecake: vegan no-bake recipe. No cream cheese, no nuts.

Apricot Cheesecake (No Baking, No Nuts)

8 servings


1000 g plain soy yoghurt
200 g cookies (oatmeal or shortbread)
10 tablespoons melted, refined coconut oil, divided
200 ml quince juice plus 2-3 tablespoons, divided (substitute apple juice)
10 g (1 pkg) agartine or 2 g (1 tsp) regular powdered agar agar
50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
400 g apricots, sliced
50 g (1/4 cup) brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch


A day before you plan to make your cheesecake, drain the yoghurt as explained above. Yield: 500 g of quark.

The next day, line a 21 cm springform pan with parchment paper (bottom and sides).

Place the cookies in a food processor and process into fine crumbs. Alternatively place the cookies in a freezer bag and use a rolling pin to crush the cookies.

Mix with 4 tablespoons melted coconut oil.

Press into the prepared pan and place in the fridge.

Pour the quark into a large bowl and mix with remaining coconut oil and sugar.

Place 200 ml quince juice and agartine (or apple juice and agar agar) in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

Boil for two minutes and let cool for five minutes.

Mix with the quark mixture until everything is smooth.

Remove the pan from the fridge and pour the quark mixture over the cookie crust.

Refridgerate for 2 hours, then place the cake in the freezer for 30 minutes.

While it's in the fridge, prepare the caramelised apricots.

Place apricots and brown sugar in a small saucepan. (Can be the one you used before.)

Bring to a boil and cook until the sugar has melted, stirring constantly.

Mix remaining juice with cornstarch and stir well until there are no lumps left.

Pour over the apricots and cook for another two minutes, stirring.

Let cool.

Carefully remove the cake from its pan.

Place the apricots on top of the cake. Reserve some of the apricot caramel for serving.

Store in the fridge until you are ready to serve it.

This cake's leftovers are best stored in the fridge, too.

Apricot Cheesecake: vegan no-bake recipe. No cream cheese, no nuts.





Today I have a very serious question for you. What is your opinion on pairing chocolate with fruits? I live with a huge opponent of this combination and I have to admit that I do sometimes agree with him. I don’t like all fruit and chocolate combinations (for example chocolate and orange). I don’t care about most. But there is one I really, really love. And that is cherry and chocolate.

First of all, cherries and chocolate just look great together, don’t they? And of course there’s the taste which I love. Cherries are sweet and they blend in much better than raspberries or strawberries. But there’s also a very practical reason: cherries are sturdy. They keep their shape and their texture. And they add moisture. Which means if you add these to a chocolate cake, you’re in for a treat that is not too sweet, perfectly moist and that will just melt in your mouth. And that every fruit and chocolate combination hater will love. At least the one I know did.

chocolate cherry guglhupf #vegan

Since we’re talking about perfect. Of course this is not your traditional guglhupf. A traditional guglhupf comes by many names (guglopf, gugelhupf, kugelhopf, kouglof, and so forth and so forth), is made with an enriched yeasted dough, has raisins instead of cherries, definitely no chocolate, and looks like this.

I refused both to use a traditional recipe and the traditional pan. I chose a regular bundt pan instead and made a baking powder batter. And while I was at it I went back to basics and added regular firm tofu. Remember? Back in the days when vegan baking was still a miracle we used to do that all the time. It’s better than black beans or beets, I say! But honestly nobody will taste the tofu and it adds a lot of moisture to this cake. And for those of you who aren’t friends with coconut oil: This cake has a coconut oil-free option.

Oh, did I mention this cake is moist and just really the perfect chocolate cake? Because it is! Make it. I promise you won’t regret it.

chocolate cherry guglhupf #vegan

For the filling, you can use either fresh or canned cherries. I just went with canned because they were already pitted and I am just as lazy as the regular person. It also ment I could snack on all those fresh cherries that I didn’t need for decoration.

Before you start mixing this batter I should also tell you that it is going to be a very thick almost bread like batter. Something quite typical for the cake recipes you can find in Germany. So please trust me, it will all work out!

Oh and if you’re wondering already about how to get those cherries to sit on top of your cake: have some toothpicks ready. Dip the cherries in chocolate, place them on your cake, fixate them with the toothpick and then push the toothpick into the cherries so it’s not visible anymore. But please don’t forget to tell your guests about this little secret. They should search for the picks and remove them before biting into their slices.

Chocolate Cherry Guglhupf


For the cake
240 ml (1 cup) soy or almond milk
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
120 ml (1/2 cup) vegetable oil
250 g (1 1/4 cups) sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
100 g (3.5 oz) firm tofu
400 g (3 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
20 g (1/4 cup) Dutch process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
100 g (3.5 oz) dark chocolate
160 g (1 cup) canned or fresh pitted cherries.
For decoration
100 g (3.5 oz) dark chocolate
1 teaspoon refined coconut oil (or any vegetable oil)
about 25 fresh cherries


To make the cake preheat oven to 160° (325°F). Grease a bundt pan (25 cm diameter) and set aside.

In a blender combine soy milk and vinegar and let sit for 2-3 minutes or until curdled.

Add oil, sugar, vanilla, and tofu.

Blend until smooth.

Sift flour and cocoa in a larg bowl.

Add baking powder, soda, and salt.

Stir well.

Melt the chocolate over a water bath.

Add liquid ingredients and use a handheld mixer to blend all ingredients until smooth.

Fold in chocolate and blend again.

Scoop half of the batter into the pan and sprinkle half of the cherries on top.

Add the remaining batter and then press the remaining cherries into the batter.

Bake the cake for 60 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool for 30 minutes before removing from pan.

Let cool completely.

To decorate melt choclate and coconot oil in a small bowl and stir well.

Reserve half of the cherries and dip the remaining fruits in the chocolate.

Use toothpicks to fixate the cherries on top of the cake. make sure to leave enough space for the remaining cherries.

Pour the remaining chocolate over the cake.

Add the remaining cherries and place the cake in the fridge for 30 to 45 minutes before serving.

chocolate cherry guglhupf #vegan