These are my invention. Mohnkringel don’t exist, I think. Well, okay. That is not true. Here is a wonderful recipe by the very talented Maikki, for example. But at least I can claim that in Germany Maikki’s version would be called kranz and not kringel. Isn’t it fascination how words travel though time and space via food? I think kringel or kringle came to us via Scandinavia while all those poppy seeds hail from Eastern and Central Europe. I didn’t look this up, but I suppose there’s a lot of Jewish food history involved here, too. Whoever invented this or wherever it came from, I am thankful for another idea to fuel my poppy seed addiction. But before I write something about these mohnkringel, I want to thank you all too for welcoming me back into the blogging community. I’ve read all of your comments and every single one of them made my day. I am very grateful that you’ve kept me in your readers and that many of you even took the time to come here and leave a comment. You all are awesome.
At first taking a really long break from blogging was a great idea. The pressure was gone. No more long hours trying to find the perfect angle and the perfect light for the perfect photo. No more writer’s blocks. No more obsessive recipe idea chases. No more bi-lingual entries that took forever. Yeah, that was all great. But isn’t it completely crazy? After all this is a private blog that I do to entertain myself. Trying out new recipes, taking pictures of them and then writing down everything that might be connected to this recipe, finding a little story for it, all that is fun. But then my recipe entries do not emerge in an empty space. The internet is overflowing with really great sites and there is a lot of competition. Even if I do all of this because I like it and think it is interesting, I still want people to read this blog. And I want them to try my recipes.
The weird and challenging thing about a food blog is, in my opinion, that it is written for many different people. Some people just look at the pictures, some like the texts, and only a very few come here for a recipe. Which, on the other hand, makes up most of the work. I admit, often I have asked myself if it’s worth all this work. Since Social Media things have become so fast. You work on an entry for two days, you publish it, and it’s gone after 10 hours max. But then I do ask myself why I feel this way at all. Why does it even bother me? And then I had to think of women’s magazines. Every year in April they try to convince us that we really need to start working on our bikini body. Because there’s no life without a bikini body. And that’s what Social Media is like, too, isn’t it? Well, my whole life I have lived without a bikini body. There we go!
But there we go without a blog? Nah. Over the last few months I’ve realised that there is a lot of fun to blogging. I missed it. I looked though a lot of my old recipes and pictures and I am impressed with the large interactive cookbook that I have created here. I use it a lot and and a lot more than those stacks of paper notes I used to keep. And then spring started with green asparagus and rhubarb and daylight savings time with a lot of light. And instead of spring cleaning I am restarting the blog. Then in the end coming up with new recipes, taking pictures of them and writing about them is still a lot of fun. I hope reading is, too.
Rice pudding. I used to hate it. But milchreis is a much-loved main dish in Germany. Demanded by children and grown ups all over the country. So popular that it is available at canteens and cafeterias. You usually eat it hot, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon or canned fruit like cherries. Or you eat it as a snack or dessert and you can buy ready-to-eat versions at most supermarkets.
Personally, I have never liked sweet main dishes. I need something hearty and savoury for lunch. I get really dizzy when I eat something sweet on an empty stomach. Plus, I always hated hot milk. I don’t even have to taste it. The smell alone makes me run away. I have no fond childhood memories of eating milchreis or grießpudding. In fact I have no childhood memories at all when it comes to these dishes. Thankfully, my parents never bothered serving them to us. Unfortunately, everyone around me always raved about them. Whenever a canteen would serve milchreis, I was alone queueing for the salad thinking about why everyone except me would want to eat a mushy rice dish with sugar for lunch.
Then a couple of years ago I was sitting at a Thai restaurant with a friend who ordered coconut rice. I still remember how shocked I was when she offered me some. I stammered something about hating milchreis and hot milk. When she told me that the dish was neither hot nor was there any milk in it, I still declined. But somehow she must have convinced me. And the next thing I know is that I ordered my own bowl of coconut rice.
Of course coconut rice is not the same as milchreis. But making milchreis with coconut milk made this dish into something I really enjoy eating. And it’s even better if you combine it with fresh fruit. My favourite so far has been rhubarb, because I love the combination of the rich and creamy sweet rice with something more tart. And even better if it has an edible shell, right? Also, if you care for rich and buttery flavour – this dessert has it, too. The rice you can see is a starchy short grain rice that is also called milchreis. You should be able to substitute it with any kind of short or medium grain rice you would use to make rice pudding.
To make the tartelette shells, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and grease 4 tartelette pans (10 cm in diametre). Set aside.
In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, and coconut oil. Mix with your fingers until the oil is incorporated and the mixture has formed crumbs.
Press the dough into the pans.
Poke several times with a fork and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from oven but don't switch the heat off.
Remove shells from the pans once they have cooled completely.
To make the rhubarb topping line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the rhubarb on the sheet and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 15 minutes and stir from time to time.
Remove from oven and let cool.
While the rhubarb is roasting, prepare the rice.
Combine rice, coconut milk, and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer and stir often. Cook for 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and let rest covered for another 10-15 minutes.
Once the rice is done, divide it between the shells and top with rhubarb.
I am so behind on blogging, it’s embarrassing. My draft folder is full. But there is something that keeps me from posting here. One and a half months ago I took up learning another language. Right now my head is spinning. I am trying to memorise personal pronouns, tense prefixes and suffixes, and weekdays. Before that I spent three weeks learning to trill the r. Which I was never able to do before, and believe me, I tried. But now, with the help of several Youtube videos (especially this and this one), I can do it most of the time if it’s surrounded by some nice vowels. I also learned to read and write. Yes, that is right. I am learning to read and write all over again. Because I left my European comfort zone by taking up an Arabic class.
I was always decent at learning languages – except for Latin, but that was because there’s no one to talk to unless you’re friends with the pope – and I guess that’s why I signed up for this new class without thinking twice. Well, it has been challenging. And slow. We learned to read, we’re practicing to write, and we’re doing tons of grammar. My small talk skills are still very lacking. But I guess I should be more patient. I am getting a general concept of the language and that is very important and useful. It’s something you don’t feel you have at first when everything is written in letters you can’t read. When even the alphabet comes in a completely new order and with several letters you cannot pronounce. And when there’s not a single similarity to any other language you learned before. Because those languages were either related to Latin (Spanish) or Latin and German (English) or German (Norwegian).
All of this is very exiting but naturally it steals a lot of time. Time I would normally spent cooking and photographing for this blog. Instead of baking or reading other blogs, I am now watching Arabic Youtube videos. Last Sunday, when I tried to practice for a dictation exercise, I was reminded that there was about a kilo of rhubarb in our kitchen. And I had promised to make a cake. But what cake? My brain was toasted, I had no ideas for any kind of recipe. So I looked at my blog and decided to do a simplified version of a rhubarb pie I posted four years ago (wow!). At that time I felt bad for putting the recipe up. It was a delicious cake but it called for an uncommon ingredient: dandelion honey. Rhubarb is such a simple and humble vegetable, so why add something as fancy to the ingredient list of this pie? I probably was just super exited about my little jar of vegan honey. (To be honest, it’s not really fancy. You can make it at home, it’s made from sugar, water, and dandelion flowers.)Whatever, last Sunday I rewrote the recipe. The tart/pie is now made with the most accessible ingredients you can think of. It’s a simple recipe, with a very tender, sweet crust and a tart filling that calls only for a hint of sugar. But there is a little twist to it. I made another batch of marshmallow fluff for an easy and super sweet and sticky meringue topping. A perfect Sunday treat and some brain food that made learning those letters and prefixes a lot easier.
Notes: Refinded coconut oil is very common where I live. If you cannot get it and don’t mind the coconut flavour, use unrefined coconut oil instead. Margarine should work fine, too. To make the marshmallow fluff for this recipe, double the amount of sugar (100 g or 1 cup powdered sugar). You can also omit the fluff and use coconut whipped cream instead, or leave the tart naked.
To make the filling, combine rhubarb, sugar, and cornstarch.
Let sit for about an hour and stir well from time to time.
To make the crust, mix salt, flour, and sugar in a bowl.
Add coconut oil and orange zest.
Mix with your hands and form into a crumbly dough.
Make sure the fat is incorporated well and there are no lumps of coconut oil remaining.
Grease a springform pan (26-27 cm or 10 inch) with fat.
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
Pour the dough into the pan.
Press into the bottom and the sides of the pan. (Only line about 2.5 cm or 1 inch of the sides with dough. You just want a small border, so the filling doesn't leak.)Set aside.
For the custard, combine soy milk, cornstarch, and sugar in a small saucepan.
Whisk until the starch is dissolved and bring to a boil.
Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until thickened.
Pour over the crust.
Sprinkle rhubarb on top.
Bake for 40 minutes.
While the tart is baking, prepare the marshmallow fluff.
Transfer to a piping bag with a star tip right before the cake is done.
Pipe dollops on top of the tart, increase the temperature to 200°C (400°F) and bake for another 10 minutes, until the meringue is browned.
Let cool completely and remove from pan.
Since my last post I have been experimenting a lot with turning chickpea brine into different kinds of egg white based things. All these years there has been a cheap and easy alternative to eggs and egg replacers and most of us didn’t know about it. I still think this is the most amazing food and baking related thing I ever heard about. So while I was determined to come up with a vegan macaron recipe, a couple of my German readers asked for a recipe for schokokuesse (chocolate kisses). And yes, why not?
A schokokuss is a pile of marshmallow fluff or soft (unbaked) meringue that sits on a thin wafer and is covered in chocolate. They are similar to mallomars, but taller, looking like a bowler hat without the rim. In Denmark a very similar treat is called flødeboller (cream buns). The meringue or marshmallow fluff is piped onto a cookie or a disk of marzipan and then covered in chocolate. In Germany schokokuesse are very popular for children’s birthday parties, where they are used for eating contests: The kids are not allowed to use their hands while eating a schokokuss and the person who eats the fastest wins. The best part of this being the kid’s pictures, of course.
If you have never had a schokokuss or a flødebolle I must warn you though. When I ate one yesterday I was remembered how sweet and rich they are. Even though I have a massive sweet tooth I can’t eat more than one at a time. That’s why I decided to keep the yield reasonable here. The recipe makes about 7-8 schokokuesse, which can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for a maximum of two days. Although these meringue treats are usually made with gelatin, I based my recipe on a version that did not call for a gelling agent. It is easier this way but since I was working with chickpea brine instead of egg whites, the result wasn’t as stiff and mousse like as the omni version. They do keep their shape perfectly but the texture of these vegan schokokuesse is a bit softer. It’s like whipped cream that is not perfectly stiff yet. To me it was close enough though, especially because they taste exactly like an egg white and gelatin based version – as far as I can remember. And F can confirm that these treats are perfect for any kind of birthday party eating contest: “Mum, if you eat this, the filling squeezes out and it’s all over your face!” Yup, quite true.
A couple of notes: Usually schokokuesse are made with thin round wafers. I didn’t have those on hand, so I used baking wafers with a diameter of 50 mm. If you cannot find those, you can use any kind of thin wafer or cookie as an alternative.
This recipe uses hot sugar syrup that is poured into the chickpea meringue. Use heatproof equipment (bowl and whisk attachments) and work very carefully so that you don’t burn yourself. I used a handheld mixer for this but if you have a stand mixer, go for it, it’s probably better.
To make the filling, combine chickpea brine and guar gum in a tall and narrow heatproof bowl and whip with a handheld blender for 2 minutes.
Add cream of tartar or lemon juice and vanilla and whip for another 5 minutes or until them mixture is very stiff.
Combine sugar and water in a small pot and slowly bring to a boil, while stirring constantly. Cook into a syrup over high heat for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat
Briefly whip the chickpea mixture up again.
Now carefully pour the hot sugar syrup in while still whipping. Make sure your bowl is very steady and take care not to burn yourself. (If you have a stand mixer it's probably better for this step than a handheld one.)
Whip until everything is well combined.
Place 7-8 baking wafers or thin cookies (about 50 mm in diameter) on a piece of parchment paper.
Scoop the meringue mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe a generous amount on top of a wafer. (see picture)
To make the chocolate coating, finely chop the chocolate. Combine with the coconut oil and melt in a water bath.
Use a spoon to pour the chocolate over the marshmallow treats. Make sure not to miss a spot.
Let rest for 5 minutes then use a dipping fork or a very thin spatula to transfer to a cookie rack.
Move every 10 minutes or so so that the chocolate doesn't stick to the rack. Let dry completely.
P.S. Charis from Floral Frosting came up with an amazing looking recipe for vegan macarons. Check it out here!