Saturday, May 5, 2012

White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies

It's May....a month that according to the Norwegian song "Kom mai, du skjønne milde..." is supposed to be both beautiful and mild. On sunny days - like those we had on the last couple of randonee ski tours - Norway is definitely showing itself at it's best - clear blue sky, peaks all around still covered by crisp white snow, a belt of luscious dark green pine forests right below the peaks, only to be divided by fields of light green farm land running down to the dark blue fjord down below.

The song doesn't tell you anything though about those other days in May that aren't even close to being beautiful or mild...those days where the temperature drops below zero again and small snow crystals come sailing down from up above. Today is one of those days... Depressed by the weather? Well, I guess some people are...but not me! I thank God for every bit of snow that we still get, as that means that we still will be able to ascend on ski's some of the peaks on this season's to-do-list. Plus, such days are great to spend in the kitchen trying to find new great snacks to bring along on our adventures out in these soft though chewy White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies.

The recipe comes from The Hummingbird Bakery and can be found in the fabulous cookbook Cake Days - Recipes to make every day special.

White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies
(makes about 12)

135 gr unsalted butter
80 gr caster sugar
80 gr soft light brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
190 gr plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100 gr dried cranberries
60 gr white chocolate chips

1.) Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius and line two baking sheets with baking parchment.
2.) Cream together the butter and both types of sugar, using a hand-held mixer. Break in the egg and add the vanilla essence and mix until both are completed absorbed into the butter sugar mixture.
3.) Soft together the flour, salt, cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda, then add to the creamed mixture in two batches, mixing by hand until a dough forms.
4.) Stir in the cranberries and chocolate chips.
5.) Break off pieces of the dough - about two tablespoons in size - roll them into balls and place on the prepared baking sheets. Allow six cookies per tray, making sure to space them apart from each other as they will spread during cooking.
6.) Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cookies are a light golden on top.
7.) Leave on the sheets for about 10 minutes to cool and set before transferring to a wire rack.
8.) Store in an air tight container and bring along on your next hike!


Monday, October 24, 2011

Banana Chocolate Muffins

With some very ripe bananas in the fruit bowl, it was about time to bake again...This time a recipe from Nigella Lawson's Kitchen that fellow food blogger from Avonturen in de keuken (Adventures in the kitchen) tested out before me and inspired me to bake...a recipe for Banana Chocolate Muffins! They are really easy to make, and taste really great!

Banana Chocolate Muffins
(makes 12)

3 ripe bananas
1,25 dl vegetable oil
2 eggs
100 gr sugar
225 gr all-purpose flour
3 tbsp dark cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda

1.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius and line a muffin tin with paper cups.
2.) Peel the bananas, and mash them in a medium sized bowl.
3.) Add vegetable oil and the eggs, and mix well.
4.) Add sugar and stir.
5.) Mix the flour, cocoa powder and soda in a separate bowl, and sift it into the banana mixture. Stir well.
6.) Fill the cups twothirds up, and bake for 20 minutes on the middle rack of the oven.
7.) Let the muffins cool down for 5 minutes in the muffin tin, before transferring them onto a rack to cool down more.

Hubby rating: 4 (out of 6; would have been 5, with chocolate chips added to the dough)


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunflower Seed Bread

It's Sunday, no supermarkets are open and we're out of bread....With Monday just around the corner, and packed lunches to be's about time to try that recipe for Sunflower Seed Bread that I found on the website of the Norwegian dairy company Tine. I'm not the best at baking with yeast, so this recipe for bread using baking powder was definitely welcome....and the best of all, it turned out great! I was afraid that it wouldn't be harty enough, as it's made mainly with all-purpose flour...but the sunflower seeds absolutely weigh up for the lack of more harty types of flour. Two to three slices of this bread will keep you going for a couple of hours!

Sunflower Seed Bread
(makes 1 loaf)

7 dl all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3 dl sunflower seeds
1 tsp salt
3 dl water
0,5 dl melted butter
300 gr quark

1.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
2.) Butter a loaf tin and use about 1 dl of the sunflower seeds to line the loaf tin with.
3.) Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and the rest of the sunflower seeds into a medium sized bowl.
4.) Add the water, melted butter and quark and stir until turning into a dough.
5.) Transfer the dough into the loaf tin and sprinkle with some sunflower seeds.
6.) Bake the bread for approximately 1 hour on the lower rack of the oven.
7.) Let the bread cool down on a rack.

Hubby rating: 4.5


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Christmas Cards

Every year I have big plans for Christmas - especially plans for making my own Christmas Cards - but when it comes down to it, I always end up not sending any... So to make sure that I will stick to my good intentions this year, I dropped by one of my favorite stores in Oslo when I was there earlier this week on a business trip. The Paper Gallery at Norway Designs is like heaven on earth for anyone who loves scrapbooking, origami or any other type of paper crafts.

Norway Designs
Stortingsgate 28
Tel. (+47) 23 11 45 50

It ain't cheap - especially compared to ready made cards - but the selection is divine and as soon as you enter, you feel inspired. So 45 minutes later and 50 euro poorer, I was well prepared for making my own Christmas cards. The result :

I can't wait to send my dear family and friends all these cards to wish them a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Apple Chocolate Muffins

Today is the Day of the Apple in Norway.... No, it's got nothing to do with Steve Jobs' passing away or any of those beloved iProducts... Just those ordinary old fashioned apples... To celebrate this "huge" event, I made some Apple Chocolate Muffins.

As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I bought some pink muffin forms to support the Pink Ribbon Campaign. Would you like to support this great cause, you can buy these muffin forms online at Cacas - a Norwegian supplier of baking and cake decorating equipment.

Apple Chocolate Muffins
(makes about 18)

125 gr butter, melted
4,5 dl all-purpose flour
1 dl sugar
2 tsp baking powder
300 gr vanilla quark
2 eggs
75 gr dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
2-3 apples, skinned, deseeded and chopped finely
1 dl dessicated coconut

1.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
2.) Melt the butter and set aside.
3.) Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder into a medium sized bowl.
4.) Add the eggs, vanilla quark and melted butter and stir, turning the mixture into a dough.
5.) Add the dark chocolate and the pieces of apple and stir.
5.) Line a muffin tin with paper cups and fill each cup two thirds up.
6.) Sprinkle a little dessicated coconut on each muffin. (I made some without the coconut sprinkled on top, and I definitely prefered those with made all the different tastes of vanilla, chocolate and apple come together!)
7.) Bake the muffins for 25 minutes on the middle rack of the oven.
8.) Let the muffins cool down for five minutes in the muffin tin, before removing them to a rack to cool down more.

Hubby rating: 3


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Knitted cushion

With the leaves changing colour and the weather getting colder, it is again time for fire crackling in the fireplace, hot cocoa on the couch, new episodes of great shows on TV, swapping to my warm winter duvet....and last but not least...lots of indoor crafts!

My sister has moved into a new appartment and needed something to pimp up her IKEA this weekend I made some cushions for her. The pattern comes from Drops Design, but I changed it a little bit to make the knitting a little bit easier. Whereas the original pattern has cables both on front and back, I knitted the backside with just garter stitches.....and instead of knitting front and back separately, I used a circular needle to knit front and back together as a tube. That gives you the following pattern:

Knitted cushion with cables

Cast on 88 sts on a circular needle size 12 mm.
Row 1: knit all stitches, putting a marker before stitch nr 1 and nr 45.
Row 2: purl all stitches.
Row 3: knit all stitches.
Row 4: purl all stitches.
Row 5: knit all stitches.
Row 6: purl all stitches.
Row 7: knit all stitches
Row 8:
- first 3 stitches: keep alternating between purling and knitting in continuance with the previous rows to keep the pattern of garter stitches.
- purl 2
- knit 2
- purl 3
- knit M.1 (see below)
- purl 3
- knit M.2 (see below)
- purl 3
- knit M.1
- purl 3
- knit 2
- purl 3
- remaining stitches: same as first 3 stitches - keep alternating between purling and knitting in continuance with the previous rows to keep the pattern of garter stitches.

Continue knitting the pattern described for row 8, taking notice of changes in M.1 and M.2, until the piece measures 46 cm, adjusting the length to M.1/M.2.
Then work 6 rows of garter stitches (alternating between knitting and purling in continuance with the previous rows, and cast off.
Turn the piece inside out, keep stitch number 1 in one corner and stitch number 45 in the other corner, and bind off on one side and sew in a zipper on the other side.


Thursday, August 25, 2011


It's 11.30 AM...Most of my colleagues are on their way to our cafeteria to eat the sandwiches they have brought along with them from home. I am also on my way out of my office, carrying a tray of plain vanilla cupcakes... Not because it's my birthday, not to share with my colleagues for lunch.... Nope! I've got a different purpose for these delicious cupcakes!

My colleague Kari and I are both passionate bakers - trading recipes for great cakes, sharing tips and tricks, as well as equipment with each other - and avid followers of Passion for Baking, a beautiful and inspirational blog by Manuela Kjeilen. So when we saw that Manuela would be coming to the Norwegian Food Festival in Ålesund to hold a seminar on decorating cupcakes, we knew we just had to sign up for it!

Nearly two hours after we left the office, we are strolling along the different booths at the Food Festival - sampling syrups, cheeses and lots more - as we still had some time left before the seminar....but at 6 PM, the waiting is finally over... the seminar and the fun starts!

After showing us how to make vanilla cupcakes, several types of icing and frosting, Manuela brings out the piping bags and icing tips she prefers to use for decorating the cupcakes. She explains the different techniques for each tip, and continues by showing how to use fondant and silicon molds to create other types of decorations.

Soon after, all participants are having a go at the same techniques - trying to decorate our cupcakes as professionally as Manuela.With a piping bag filled with dark chocolate frosting and a Wilton "1B" tip, I have a go at creating frosting roses on top of my cupcakes... with pretty good result, even though I say so myself.

24 cupcakes, a lot of icing and a couple of sticky fingers later, I show Manuela the final result, have a little chat in Dutch (as Manuela is half Dutch half Norwegian) and say goodbye!

Thank you for a lovely seminar, Manuela! I am already looking forward to your book coming out!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Happiness... coming home to finding not just one great and inspirational magazine in our mailbox....

...but two!

I'll definitely have to try the salmon zucchini muffins, and do some hiking (and musk ox spotting) at Dovrefjell this autumn!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Walnut Chocolate Muffins with Mocha Frosting

After coming home from our hike up Skoften on Sunday, I felt like baking....The result: these delicious muffins!

Walnut Chocolate Muffins with Mocha Frosting
(makes about 18)

- for the muffins:
230 gr butter, room temperature
230 gr sugar
230 gr selfraising flour
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
100 gr dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
80 gr walnuts, coarsely chopped

- for the frosting:
230 gr butter, room temperature
600 gr confectioner's sugar
1 tsp instant coffee
1 tsp warm coffee
1 tsp Kahlua
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preparation - muffins:
1.) Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius, and line a muffin tin with muffin cases.
2.) Put the butter and sugar into a medium sized bowl, and mix until white and creamy.
3.) Add the eggs, one at a time, and then mix in the vanilla extract.
4.) Add the selfraising flour and fold into into the mixture until the batter is smooth.
5.) Add the walnuts and chocolate, and stir until evenly mixed.
6.) Divide the batter between the paper muffin cases, filling them up to two-thirds. Any remaining batter can be used to fill up to four more cases in a second muffin tin.
7.) Place in the oven on the middle rack and bak for 20 to 25 minutes.
8.) Leave to cool slightly (about 5 minutes) before removing them from the tin, then place on a wire rack to cool down fully before adding the frosting.

Preparation - frosting:
1.) To make the frosting, use a electric whisk to slowly whisk the confectioner's sugar with the butter until smooth in texture and no lumps of butter remain.
2.) Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk until evenly mixed.
3.) Fill a piping bag with the frosting, and make a swirl on top of each muffin.
4.) Decorate with chocolate morsels and/or walnuts.

Hubby rating: 5+


Monday, August 22, 2011

Energy bars

On our hike to the top of Skoften yesterday, we brought along with us some delicious homemade energy bars...So should you go for a hike, you might want to consider making these ahead of time! The mixture of flavours, especially of syrup and peanut butter is really good! (But I may be biased, as I'm addicted to peanut butter!) Ok....lots of energy in these energy bars, and that energy comes from lots of calories...but by hiking before and after eating one of these, you'll burn those calories right off again!

Energy Bars
(makes about 20)

3 dl crushed bran flakes / rolled oats
1 dl dried / shredded coconut
2 dl nuts (any type), coarsely chopped
1 dl sunflower seeds
1 dl raisins
1,5 dl peanut butter
1,5 dl dark syrup / agave syrup

1.) Mix all the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
2.) Melt the peanut butter and the syrup in a pan on medium heat, whilst stirring continuously.
3.) Mix the melted peanut butter and syrup with the other ingredients.
4.) Pour into a small baking tray (20 x 30 cm) that is lined with baking parchment.
5.) Use the back of a spoon to flatten and spread out the mixture.
6.) Put the baking tray into the fridge for at least 20 minutes, to let the mixture set.
7.) Cut the mixture into squares and wrap each square individually with baking parchment.
8.) Put the squares into the freezer and just take out as many energy bars as you will need for each trip. They will thaw just enough during the first couple of hours of your hike, so that they can be eaten without breaking any teeth, yet still be sticky enough to not fall apart.

Hubby rating: 6-