Thursday, December 11, 2014

Mixed Spice / Gingerbread / Kruidnootjes cupcakes

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To complete my Sinterklaas trio of recipes I decided to prepare some cupcakes with mixed spice speculoos and also kruidnootjes.

Since all our belongings are currently on a ship somewhere in Asia I had to prepare these cupcakes by hand. The end result might have been fluffier and looked better if I had my kitchen tools.

Quantity: 8-9 cupcakes
  • 100 grams selfraising flour
  • 100 grams granulated sugar
  • 200 grams butter
  • 2 eggs
  • around 20 kruidnootjes
  • 100 grams cream cheese
  • 75 grams icing sugar
  • 2 teaspoons speculoos spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsisus;
  2. Mix 100 grams of the butter, flour, granulated sugar and the eggs in a bowl into batter;
  3. If you're not using cupcake wrapper, butter up the cupcake forms so that the cupcakes won't stick to the form;
  4. Crumble half of the kruidnootjes in the batter and mix;
  5. Add the batter in the cupcake forms, filling each slot until the middle of the form;
  6. Place in the oven for around 20 minutes;
  7. In the meantime mix the remaining butter, icing sugar, cream cheese until the mixture is smooth;
  8. Mix in the speculoos spices. Reserve a small amount for later use;
  9. Once the cupcakes have cooled down add the cream cheese topping on top of each cupcake;
  10. Finish off with a kruidnootje on each cupcake and cover with the remaining spices.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Kruidnootjes (Speculaas/Spice/Gingerbread cookies)

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Just before Sinterklaas we decided to keep some of the Dutch traditions in our new home in Australia. Therefore my lovely husband baked some gingerbread cookies for us.

Recipe Origin: Kruidnootjes - Recept

Amount: 60-80 cookies
  • 185 grams flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 85 grams dark brown bastard sugar
  • 15 grams speculoos spices
  • a pinch of salt
  • 125 grams butter
  1. Sieve the flour in a mixing bowl;
  2. Add the baking powder, spices and salt;
  3. Cut the butter in small pieces and added to the mixing bowl;
  4. Knead the mixture until the mixture has a dough texture;
  5. Warm the oven to 150 degrees Celsius;
  6. Add a baking paper on top of an oven baking tray;
  7. Roll small balls from the dough with the palm of your hands. The ball should be around 1cm in size;
  8. Place the balls next to each other on the baking tray;
  9. Cook in the oven for around 20 minutes or until they cookies are browned;
  10. Let rest and eat!
  • You can substitute the flour with wholemeal flour;
  • There are other versions of this recipe that use milk. I never tried the recipes with the milk but there shouldn't be much difference in taste;
  • The cookies will grow in size so the cookie dough balls should be quite small.

Speculoos Spices

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The Dutch celebrate Sinterklaas on the evening of 5th December. This day has it's own set of sweets like the chocolate letters, kruidnootjes (speculoos biscuits/Biscoff biscuits) and pepernootjes. The ingredient that is nearly always present in these traditional sweets is speculoos. In the Netherlands you can buy the speculoos spices however I haven't yet found these spices in Melbourne. So to savour these typical Sinterklaas biscuits I prepared the spice mix myself.

Recipe origin: Dutch Food - Speculaskruiden


  • 4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground mace
  • 1/3 tsp ground ginger
  • a pinch white pepper
  • a pinch ground cardamom
  • a pinch of ground coriander seeds
  • a pinch of ground anise seeds
  • a pinch of grated nutmeg
  1. Mix all spices together;
  2. Use in any Sinterklaas recipes!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Rabbit Sauce for Pasta

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On popular request I'm going to post a very successful rabbit recipe. This recipe produces a very rich and slightly sweet sauce which goes especially well with pasta.

Recipe Origin: Rabbit with Aniseed Liqueur

Serves: 3-4 persons


  • 1 rabbit cut in pieces
  • 2 chicken cubes
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 shot of Aniseed/Anise/Ouzo/Pernod liqueur
  • 475ml red wine
  • 1 tablespoon Worchester Sauce
  • 100grams currant/sultanas
  • 500g frozen peas
  • 250g tomato paste 
  • 2 tablespoons curry
  • 1/4 teaspoon mixed spices
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 200g butter
  • salt
  • pepper


  1. Saute 3 bay leaves and the garlic cloves in 2 tablespoons oil and 150g butter. Stir occasionally;
  2. Add the rabbit pieces, turning frequently until browned all over;
  3. Add a glass of red wine and the anise liqueur. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes turning  the rabbit occasionally;
  4. Transfer the rabbit to a warm serving dish and keep it covered;
  5. In the meantime, fry the onions in the remaining oil and butter. Add the tomato concentrate, the sugar, salt and pepper. Stir;
  6. Add water gently to this mixture;
  7. Add curry, mixed spices, the chicken cubes, currents, the remaining bay leaves, the remaining red wine and the Worchester sauce;
  8. After a few minutes add the fried rabbit including its sauce and simmer on low flame for around 30 minutes;
  9. Cook the pasta according the packets instructions;
  10. At this point I usually remove the rabbit bones since the sauce tastes much better without the bones. Return the boneless rabbit meat to the sauce;
  11. Add the peas and simmer for another 15 minutes;
  12. Serve with the cooked pasta.

Modifications from the original recipe:

  • I usually buy 2 rabbits and use the front and hind legs in another rabbit recipe (rabbit in white wine and garlic) while using the remaining rabbit body parts for this stew;
  • I reduced the amount of chicken cubes from the original recipe so that's the stew is less salty. Add another chicken cube if you want a saltier sauce;
  • The original recipe uses canned peas however I prefer using frozen peas.
[Image Source: Paul's Flickr]

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tradtional Maltese Easter Figolli

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Figolli are a traditional Easter dessert made from a biscuit pastry with an almond filling. Typically they are decorated with icing or chocolate. Most figolli are given a shape, in the past this used to be an Easter related shape however nowadays shapes vary from fish, baskets, heart shapes and many others. In my family we also had Garlfield's face as a standard shape! We used to bake these every year with my mum when young and nowadays even though I don't prepare them on a yearly basis anymore I still use the same recipe that we used back then.


  • 800 grams plain flour
  • 1.5 packets margarine (roomboter)
  • 2 eggs
  • 250 grams sugar
  • 1 lemon juice and peel
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

  • 400 grams pure almonds
  • 400 grams sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon almond essence
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice (Specific ingredients vary from brand to brand but typical components are(1/4 tbsp cinnamon, 1/4 tbsp nutmeg, 1/4 tbsp allspice, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, 1/2 tsp mace, 1/4 tsp ground cloves)
  • 1 orange juice and peel
  • 2 big milk/dark chocolate
  • A couple of easter eggs
Icing Design
  • 225-250 grams sieved icing sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice


General Directions:

  1. Prepare pastry and leave for 2 hours or overnight;
  2. Mix filling ingredients together;
  3. Prepare figolli design;
  4. Cook at 180 degrees;
  5. Once cool, melt chocolate and cover pastry;
  6. Once dried add icing design.

Preparing the pastry:
  1. Mix the margarine and sugar until the mixture turns whitish in colour;
  2. Add the flour, eggs, lemon juice, lemon peal and vanilla essence;
  3. Continue mixing until the pastry is of the right consistency. If the pastry is still sticky add some more flour. If the pastry is very dry add a teaspoon of water;
  4. Leave to rest.

Preparing the filling:
  1. Crush the almonds into powder consistency;
  2. Mix all ingredients together.

Icing directions:
  1. Beat the egg white;
  2. Add lemon juice and icing sugar bit by bit;
  3. It should now be smooth and shiny;
  4. Make sure the icing is not very wet and can keep a given shape;
  5. Add more icing sugar if icing is very wet.


  1. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius;
  2. Roll the pastry to around 3 mm consistency;
  3. Cut into desired shape. This will be the base of the figolla;
  4. Cut more pastry in the same identical shape. If possible cut it 5 mm bigger than the base;
  5. Place a 1 cm layer of filling on top of the base;
  6. Keep the filling around 1 cm away from all borders;
  7. Wet the border of the base with water;
  8. Cover the base and filling with the top pastry layer;
  9. Press the top and bottom pastries together at the borders;
  10. Place in oven and cook until the pastry has a bit of colour;

  11. Melt chocolate;
  12. Cover the shaped figolla with the melted chocolate;

  13. Let dry completely;
  14. Once dry decorate with the icing sugar.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Traditional Maltese Bread Pudding - Pudina tal-Hobz

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Maltese people eat a lot of bread and on many occasions they have extra bread that is not fresh enough to eat by itself but would be a waste to throw away. This is when making a bread pudding comes in handy. I have come up with the ingredients from my mum's recipe which didn't have any amounts at all! What makes a bread pudding great is that apart from the bread you can add whatever ingredients you like best.

I myself barely eat bread nowadays (you know all those carbs!)  so tried to buy the old store bought bread that's usually also on discount!

I've served this recipe a while back to a few Maltese people living away from Malta to make them remember the tastes from home!

  • 1 loaf of stale bread. Both white or brown will yield a good pudding
  • 3 cups of milk (or more if necessary)
  • 125 grams butter. You can opt for less butter if you wish.
  • 1-2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 100 grams sugar (or to taste)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered cloves
  • 100 grams chocolate chips
  • 10 tablespoons coconut flakes
  • Dried/fresh mixed fruit and nuts of your choice. I use:
    • 1 banana
    • 1 apple (shredded)
    • 1 pear (shredded)
    • handful of sultanas
    • handful of cherries
    • handful of candied peel
    • 100 grams hazelnuts
    • 1/2 mandarin peel
    • 1/2 lemon peel
    • 1/2 orange peel
    • 100 grams dates
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C;
  2. Smear a dish that can go in the oven with butter and line with baking paper;
  3. Use only the soft part of the bread and break into small chunks;
  4. Dip the bread in milk. Make sure that the bread absorbs all the milk. Throw away any extra milk by squeezing the milk out of the bread;
  5. Kneed the bread into a mush;
  6. Add the sugar, butter, eggs, cinnamon and cloves and mix together until smooth;
  7. Cut/shred all dried and fresh mixed fruit in small pieces. The bigger pieces the chunkier the pudding;
  8. Mix all dried and fresh fruit and chocolate chips in the bread mixture;
  9. Add most of the coconut flakes to the mixture leaving a small portion to cover the top;
  10. Move the pudding to the oven dish and cover the top with the remaining coconut flakes; 
  11. Place in the oven and cook for around 45 minutes to an hour;
  12. Leave the pudding to rest before serving.
How the recipe was written before! No measures at all! The language of the text is Maltese. Please ignore all my spelling mistakes.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Affogato - Ice cream drowned in espresso

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An affogato is an Italian dessert in which ice cream is drowned into espresso. This dessert is very easy to make and tastes delicious. The only necessarily ingredients are ice cream and coffee, while all other ingredients are options. I have added a liqueur (Amaretto), some Ameretti and chocolate to add the crunch and caramel since it's just so good!



  1. Pour a liqueur shot in each of the serving glasses.
  2. Chop the chocolate pieces and the Amaretto biscuits.
  3. Prepare between half or one espresso shot for each serving glass.
  4. Place a couple of scoops of ice cream in the glass and top with the chocolate and biscuits mix.
  5. Pour the espresso over the ice cream.
  6. Top off with caramel.
  7. Serve immediately since the coffee melts the ice cream quickly.
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