What is Fika?

What is Fika?

In Swedish tradition, Fika is a break - a pause - in your day to indulge in the simple pleasures of a good cup of coffee or tea, some sweets or pastries, and time shared with friends and loved ones.

Saturday, 28 December 2013


Don't you hate it when a recipe says that it will take 10 minutes, when the list of ingredients itself takes 30-40 minutes to gather together and prepare? These ladyfingers take only about 20-30 minutes to prepare from the beginning, plus another 10 for baking. This includes the search for bowls, whisks, ingredients and all.

These are served with ganache sandwiched between two ladyfingers, but can also be used for a tiramisu as well, or so the original recipe tells me! (My caveat - the prep time doesn't include the making the ganache or filling the ladyfingers. If the ganache is ready, add about 5-10 minutes for whipping and filling.)

Speaking of which, the original recipe can be found here, at the Cupcake Project.

My own modification was to dust them with cinnamon and icing sugar before baking. They can also be dipped or drizzled in melted chocolate after baked and assembled for some extra indulgence. If these are being gifted or packaged, paper cupcake liners can be flattened and use for presentation (and for clean fingers while eating!)

I've also tried substituting the flour with ground almonds for a gluten-free version, but the end result was very delicate and didn't keep very well. Perhaps the amount of almonds needed to be increased - I'm still on the search for a perfect flourless almond ladyfinger recipe!

Whipped Dark Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate ganache has to be one of my favourite fillings for cakes and desserts. It's simple to make and the proportions can be adjusted to suit the that it's accompanying.

A lot of ganache that I see for cakes, especially sculpted cakes or ones being covered in fondant, is not meant to be whipped. Those recipes use a higher proportion of chocolate so that, even if unwhipped and at room temperature, the ganache is solid. (In fact, sometimes the ganache needs to be warmed slightly to make it workable).

This particular recipe is for a whipped ganache, meaning that it is a little liquid even after it has been fully cooled. It uses less chocolate and has a much lighter taste and texture. It has to be whipped lightly to stiffen it, but particular care should be given not to over-whip it! Ganache curdles very easily. I always prefer to whip ganache by hand for this reason. As soon as it starts lightening in colour, I stop after every whip to check if it has started to curdle. The surface should look perfectly smooth.

If it starts to curdle, you've gone too far! Stop whipping right away. Add some unwhipped ganache into the overwhipped mixture and gently stir until incorporated. Sometimes this can help - sometimes not. Either way, it will generally taste the same, although the mouthfeel may be discernibly less smooth.

Recipe found after the break:

Chocolate Shards

Sometimes a dessert needs a bolder presence, and chocolate shards are a simple and quick garnish that can be used that don't require any special equipment. All that is needed is a heatproof bowl, small saucepan/pot, parchment paper and a knife. (An offset spatula makes things a little easier, but not necessary).

Full instructions after the break!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Flourless Chocolate Roulade

Chocolate roulade with dark chocolate ganache

In the spirit of sharing, here's a link to my (currently) favourite chocolate roulade recipe, which also happens to be flourless for those gluten-free friends of ours!

Contrary to the commonly-held perception that many people have of flourless dessert recipes, this produces a very light and fluffy sponge that retains its structure. It is quite strong and exceptionally easy to handle, which makes it perfect for using between layers of mousses/ganaches/buttercreams/curds (pick one).

Janet's Gluten-Free Chocolate Roulade

6 large eggs, separated
300mL icing sugar
115mL cocoa powder.

Gingerbread Spice Cake Recipe

This is the cake recipe used in the Individual Gingerbread [Cake] Houses. It's such a simple and easy recipe that doesn't take much time or thinking!

The recipe calls for a 9" square pan, but I used my 10x15" baking sheet for a single sheet cake. It is also fantastic in cupcake form (which I have also tried).

Gingerbread Spice Cake
In a large bowl with a mixer at low speed, mix well the following ingredients:
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup molasses
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves (I used Chinese five-spice powder since I didn't have any ground cloves on hand)
1 cup boiling water

Individual Gingerbread [Cake] Houses

For the holidays, you can't beat home sweet home!

A casual question from a friend ("Are you thinking of having a dinner party again this year?") turned into a month or two of planning, dreaming, and finally, lots of baking which I have admittedly been recently neglecting!

When thinking of the desserts, I came across a recipe for a gingerbread spice cake which looked rich, dense, and oh-so-aromatic. I knew that I had to serve this, and was thinking of a way to plate it when I had the idea to serve them as individual pseudo-contemporary-architecture gingerbread houses.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Repost: Heather and Martin's Wedding Cake

This last weekend, I had the wonderful privilege to be involved with wedding of two good friends, Heather and Martin. Not only are they a fantastic couple, but they have a great sense of humour, wonderful design taste, and are also amazingly grounded and mellow.

Heather and Martin