The Christmas time is definitely my favorite holiday. How wonderful is the feeling that unites people to celebrate life, love and peace! And how delicious are the Christmas foods too. In Brazil, one of the most tradicional dessert is the Panettone. This unique holiday bread, originated in Italy, has a sweet aroma and vanila flavor. It is perfect to serve with a cup of coffee or tea.

The tradicional Panettones have candied fruits and raisins, and it’s also my favorite too. But you can find all sorts of alternatives flavoured Panettones, such as coffee, coconut, limoncello and chocolat. The chocolat panettone is so popular in Brazil that it is called “Chocottone”.

I took the recipe from the same book that I used to prepare the Brioches (Crust and Crumb, Peter Reinhart). As I like very much candied fruits and raisins, I doubled the amount written in the original recipe. The author gives two importante advices to intensify the flavor. The first one is to put the candied fruits and raisins in a vanilla extract and rum. This will keep them moist too. The other one is to use buttermilk instead of milk. This will give the best flavor.

    Merry Christmas!

(From Crust and Crumb, Peter Reinhart)

Makes 1 very large loaf, several small loaves, or to 24 hot cross buns


¾ cup unbleached bread flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature


41/3 cups unbleached bread flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs, cold
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup dark raisins
½ cup rum
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sliced almonds or walnuts
½ cup candied fruit
1 large egg for egg wash (optional)

To make the sponge, stir together the flour and yeast in a mixing bowl. Stir in the buttermilk and mix till smooth. Cover the sponge with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours, till very bubbly.

If using dried fruit, soak it in rum and/or vanilla in a bowl while the sponge is developing.

To make the dough, combine all the other dough ingredients and the sponge in a mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook.

Mix the dough on slow speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 5 minutes. Add the fruit and nut mixture and mix for an additional 2 minutes, or until the dough is soft and tacky, registers about 80°F on a probe thermometer, and passes the windowpane test. Pinch off a small piece and stretch it slowly apart, gently pulling and rotating it. You are trying to stretch the dough into a thin, translucent membrane or windowpane. Add water if the dough is too stiff or flour if it is too sticky. To make by hand, knead the dough on a well-floured counter with floured hands for about 15 minutes, adding the fruit and nuts during the final 3 minutes.

Mist the dough with cooking spray, cover it with plastic wrap, and allow it to rise at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, till it increases in size by 1 ½ times.

Use up to the full amount of dried and candied fruit and nuts, according to taste. For a single large loaf, grease a 9-inch round cake pan, and line the sides of it with a parchment collar that is about 2 inches taller than the pan. For smaller loaves, use smaller pans or simply make free-standing rounds. Form the finished dough into a ball and press it nearly to the edge of the prepared pan. Let it rise, brush with egg wash, and bake for about 60 minutes. When the loaves are baked, you may brush them with simple syrup made by boiling equal parts sugar and water for 1 minute. This will give the tops a shiny look.


Gluten-free Pistachio Cake with Pistachio Brigadeiro Filling

I love pistachio so much that I made a gluten-free pistachio cake to celebrate my 4th month of marriage and all the good things that happened until now.

The cake was very moistly and fluffy. This is a recipe that my dear friend Layla made recently. I thought very interesting to use potatoes to get a gluten-free cake. But instead the almonds and lemon zests, I used rice flour and pistachio paste. There is some pistachio paste available on the market, but I prefer everything fresh. You can easily do it with a food processor. Or, if you want to workout a little bit, you can use a pestle and mortal.

You may also note I’m a “brigadeiro” addict. Well, guess what I used to fill the cake? Pistachio brigadeiro. So delicious! I got the idea of pistachio brigadeiro from here. I changed the ground pistachio for pistachio paste and I added one more tablespoon of butter. Wonderful!

Everything was going well until the marshmallow fondant. It was the first time I worked with it. I decided to prepare it by myself because most of the fondants commercially available are not tasty. My dear friend Carol sent to me a recipe from Le Cordon Bleu very easy to make. The cake that she prepared with this fondant was very beautiful and delicious. After finished it, I accidentally put in the fridge overnight. Unfortunately, the fondant became brittle and not able to model. Even that, I could do some little roses and balls for decoration.

Homemade Pistachio Paste
(adapted from here)

500 gr shelled pistachios
125 gr white almond powder
250 gr sugar
7 dl water
1 teaspoon  almond extract

Pound the pistachios in a heavy mortar. This is heavy work and it takes a very long time to obtain a fine powder. Using an electrical kitchen mixer can help. Mix in the ground almonds. Add the almond extract. In a saucepan mix 7 grams (0.7 dl) water with 250 gr sugar. Use a copper bowl or heavy bottomed saucepan or mix constantly to avoid sugar burning on hotspots. Heat until the temperature reaches 250°F. Pour the scalding hot sugar over the pistachio paste and mix in quickly to prevent crystallization. We are drawing near to completion when the paste starts to look like baklava offal. Carefully add one teaspoon water at a time and mix thoroughly until you obtain a marzipan-like texture. Do not use too much water. Knead well with both hands to get a smooth, homogeneous mixture. Store in a plastic bag and freeze for best preservation.

Gluten-free Pistachio Cake

200g butter, softened
200g golden caster sugar
4 eggs
100g rice flour 
250g mashed potatoes
200g pistachio paste
2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
How to prepare: 
Heat oven to 360°F/fan 320°F/gas. Butter and line a deep, 20cm round cake tin. Beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, then gradually add the egg, beating after each addition. Fold in the cold mashed potato (make sure it doesnt have any potato lump), pistachio paste and baking powder.
Tip into the tin, level the top, then bake for 40-45 mins or until golden and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack after 10 mins cooling. 

Pistachio Brigadeiro

100g pistachio paste
1 can (395g) sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoon unsalted butter

Mix the condensed milk, butter and pistachio paste in a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly – when the bottom of the pan starts to show and the mixture is a bit thicker, remove from heat and fill the cake.


Petite Brioche with Cramberry Jam

"Let them eat brioche." Those famous words were supposedly said by Marie Antoinette on her death. It is difficult to know if this is true or not. But the only true on this story is this rich buttered bread is a fantastic delight.

I bought the book “Crust and Crum” from Peter Reinhart to improve my bread recipes. I was determined to make croissant but, to my disappointment, there wasn’t a croissant recipe. Well, to comfort me, that was only one thing that I should cook: something with a lot of butter. In other words, BRIOCHE!

He explains very well how to make a good Brioche. The quality is in the amount of butter.  In France they make two types: rich man’s and poor man’s brioche. The only difference is the proportion of butter. The poor man`s brioche has 33%, while the rich man`s has 75%. Of course I made the rich man`s…

The brioches can also be shaped in different forms. One of them is the petite brioche à tête, a small roll with a topknot, which is my favorite. Well, I didn’t have the appropriate mold, but my desire to brioche was so big that I decided to improvise with a cupcake pan. I got a golden color brioche and soft-as-satin feel that dissolved in the month. But if you are going to make petite brioche à tête, you can find the molds at most of gourmet kitchenware shops.

The question now is: what should I use for filling the brioches? I decided to make a cranberry jam. I have an attraction for these little red berries, not just for the jam but also for the juice, candies, cakes and drinks. The jam is very easy to do. You just need cranberry, sugar and orange juice.

Enjoy it…

(From Crust and Crumb, Peter Reinhart)

Makes 3 loaves, or 4 dozen small rolls, or Petites Brioches à Tête

1 cup unbleached bread flour
1 tsp instant yeast
½ cup lukewarm milk (90F)

3 ½ cups unbleached bread flour
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
5 large eggs, cold, plus 1 large egg for egg wash
1 ½ cups unsalted butter, softened


To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the milk in a mixing bowl. Add the flour and stir till smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the sponge to ferment at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours. It will become very bubbly.

In a mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, salt, 5 eggs, and sponge. If making the dough by machine, mix it on low speed for about 2 minutes, till smooth dough is formed. Cut the butter into 3 pieces and beat in 1 piece at time at medium-low speed till each is absorbed. Continue beating at the same speed till the dough is smooth, about 6 minutes, it will be very soft and sticky.

To make the dough by hand, gradually combine all the ingredients and beat vigorously with a wooden or metal spoon for about 10 minutes, to make a smooth, wet dough.

 Mist the top of the dough with spray oil, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and place the bowl in refrigerator overnight ( or for a minimum of 5 hours). The dough will firm up considerably as it retards.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and shape it, while it is still cold, into loaves, rolls, or molded petites brioches à tete. If making petites brioches à tete, grease the molds well with cooking spray or with melted butter and flour.

Mist the top of the shaped dough with cooking spray, cover it with plastic wrap or enclose it in a plastic bag, and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, or till nearly doubled in size.

Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375°F for a large, full-size brioche, 400°F for smaller loaves. Beat the remaining egg till smooth and brush it on the tops of the brioche, taking care not to let it drip down the sides of the molds. Bake 35 to 45 minutes for loaves, 20 to 25 minutes for small rolls or petites brioches à tetê, until a rich, deep gold.
If using molds, remove the rolls 1 or 2 minutes after the come out of the oven, taking care not to tear them (use a small knife to loosen them from the side walls).

Cool the brioche on a rack for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on size, before eating.

Cranberry Jam

yield: Makes about 2 cups
active time: 15 min
total time: 1 hr

1 (12-oz) bag fresh cramberries (not thawed; 3 1/2 cups)
2cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup water

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes (jam will continue to thicken as it cools).
Force jam through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding skins and seeds. Cool, stirring occasionally.


Pumpkin Mousse Cake for a Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

In my country we don’t celebrate the Thanksgiving Day. As this will be my first one, I am so excited to prepare all the traditional meals. Of course that I will prepare the roasted turkey. What is the thanksgiving without turkey? But, what I should make for dessert?

There is a blog that I love to read: Gluten free girl and the chef. One of the authors, Shauna, has a great history of struggle against the celiac disease. She and her husband are launching now a book about gluten-free recipes:

They developed a lot of delicious recipes for the Thanksgiving. You can see all of them in her wonderful post. That encourages me to do my first gluten-free dessert. This was a challenge. 
After see so many pumpkins of different colors and shapes, I decided to make a pumpkin dessert. My choice was a Pumpkin Mousse Cake recipe adapted from here

This cake consists of a “génoise” with pumpkin mousse. To prepare a gluten-free “génoise” I replaced cake flour for rice and almond flour. The result was perfect! In Brazil we love to use sweetened condensed milk in desserts, so I used that instead granulated sugar in the pumpkin mousse. I prefer made   fresh pumpkin puree that to use canned puree.

The result was this delicate dessert:

Have a wonderful holiday!

Gluten-free Pumpkin Mousse Cake
(Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Cake, by Fran Gage (Simon & Schuster, 2003)


The génoise, a light, elegant sponge cake, is one of the building blocks of French baking, used as a base for both jelly rolls and layer cakes. The successful leavening of the cake depends solely on how much air is whipped into the eggs. Heating the sugar and whole eggs before whipping helps the eggs attain the maximum volume possible, although a slightly denser, still satisfying, version of the cake can be made without this step. Some génoises, such as this recipe, contain a little butter, which tenderizes the crumb.
4 eggs
½ cup sugar
½ cup rice flour, sifted
¼ cup almond flour, sifted
3 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
Preheat an oven to 375°F. Line the bottom of a 9-by-3-inch round cake pan with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the eggs and sugar by hand until combined. Place the bowl over but not touching simmering water in a saucepan and gently whisk until the mixture registers 140°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 3 minutes. Put the bowl on the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high speed until the mixture is pale and almost tripled in volume, 5 to 8 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the mixer. Sift the flours over the egg mixture in two additions and carefully fold in with a large rubber spatula. Fold a large dollop into the melted butter, and then fold back into the egg mixture.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until the top is browned, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Run a table knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a work surface. Turn the cake right side up. Use as directed in the specific recipe for a layer cake or jelly roll.

Pumpkin Mousse

To make fresh pumpkin puree, choose a firm-fleshed cooking pumpkin. (Avoid large field pumpkins used for jack-o'-lanterns as they are too watery.) Cut in half through the stem end and place, cut sides down, on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven until a skewer pierces the flesh, about 25 minutes. Scoop out the seeds, scrape the flesh from the skin and puree in a food processor. The puree should be the consistency of canned pumpkin. If it is too thin, cook over low heat until thickened. Freeze leftover puree for up to 3 months.

2 1/4 tsp. (1 envelope) unflavored gelatin
2 Tbs. cold water
1 3/4 cups fresh pumpkin puree
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 Tbs. dark rum
1 2/3 cups plus 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. confectioners’ sugar
Make the génoise as directed, let cool completely and place the cake, right side up, on a work surface. Cut the cake into 2 equal layers.
In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water, stir and let soften until opaque, about 3 minutes.
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine about 1/2 cup of the pumpkin puree, the condensed milk and salt and heat and stirring. Stir in the softened gelatin and let cool to room temperature. In a bowl, stir the pumpkin mixture into the remaining pumpkin puree. Whisk in the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and rum.
Using a stand mixer or by hand, whip the 1 2/3 cups cream to soft peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold one-third of the whipped cream into the puree, then fold in the remaining cream, making a mousse.
Peel off the paper from the bottom cake layer. Put the layer, cut side up, into the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan. Spread half of the mousse evenly over the cake. Trim 1/2 inch from the outside edge of the remaining layer. Center it, cut side down, on top of the mousse. Top with the remaining mousse, pushing it between the cake and the pan and smoothing the top. Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
Warm the sides of the pan with a kitchen towel soaked in hot water and wrung out. Remove the pan sides and smooth the sides of the mousse with a frosting spatula.
Whip the 1/2 cup cream and the confectioners' sugar to medium peaks. Spoon into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch star tip (see related tip at left). Pipe shells around the top edge and a few in the center of the cake. Run a thin knife under the cake to free it from the bottom of the springform pan and transfer to a serving plate. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves 10 to 12.


Mousse au Chocolat

I told you that last weekend I made boeuf bourguignon”, but I didn’t tell you what I made for dessert. Well, a famous French dish with French wine deserve a French delicious desert too! So, I made a Mousse au Chocolat that a learned in Paris. Believe me: it is incredibly delicious!

When I lived in England, I was having lunch with my dear friend Cake Design Layla. We were talking about culinary courses and our yearnings about our careers, when the movie Sabrina (1954) with Audrey Hepburn comes to my mind. It is a delightfully romantic story, which has some special things that make me dreaming. First, is the song La vie en rose, which is one of my favorite. Every time a listening it, I cry. Second, she went to study at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. When she arrived in Paris, she was a shy insecure girl, but after that, she has transformed into a sophisticated and stylish woman.
Then, after discuss the movie we asked ourselves: Why not Paris? And, inspired by the film Sabrina, we decide to go to Paris!!

It was my first culinary class at the renowned house Lenôtre. What happiness! Gaston Lenôtre, founder of the restaurant, catering, retail and cooking school empire Lenôtre, was the exacting patriarch of French pâtisserie. Pierre Hermé, one of France’s leading pastry chefs, became an apprentice at Lenôtre at 14, and for him “Mr. Lenôtre” dusted, lightened and modernized the heavy pastries of the 1950s, he made them lighter, more pleasureful, more desirable, and that’s fundamental in the world of pâtisserie.”

We attend the course “Le Chocolat de A à Z at “Pavillon Elysée Lenôtre”. I so impressed with the teachings. The chef François Schmitt had a lot of patience with us. According to him, the day was just wonderful sunny because we took the Brazilian sun with us to Paris! Lovely! Learn all those techniques were amazing. 

It is pretty easy to prepare a “Mousse au Chocolat”, but you need some attention with some procedures. The proportion of the ingredients shall be exactly the same as the recipe. You also need to control the temperature to melt the chocolate, using a thermometer. Add the eggs whites very carefully. Use a rubber spatula to do large circular movements, stirring from the bottom to top. If you overbeat the cream, it will be difficult to incorporate into to the chocolate. And the most important thing for me is: the quality of the chocolate. USE A GOOD CHOCOLATE!!!

Here some photos of our chocolate course:

And here some photos of the mousse I made:

Mousse au Chocolat
(Ecole de Pâtisserie du Pavillon Elysée Lenôtre, Paris)

500g chocolate 50% cocoa
120g egg yolks
200g eggs whites
300g whipped cream
100g granulated sugar
100g butter, cut into small pieces

Melt chocolate in double boiler. Beat the cream in a mixer at medium speed (almost whipped cream). Place the chopped butter in melted chocolate and mix, following the temperature to 90°F. Add the yolks to the chocolate stirring from the bottom to up. Place the egg whites and a teaspoon of sugar to hit on the mixer (put the sugar gradually increasing speed). Fold one-third of the egg whites into the chocolate quickly. Place the second and last gently. And finally put the whipped cream gently upwards. Then refrigerate.


Boeuf Bourguignon

I decided to make last weekend one of Julia Child’s signature dishes: Boeuf Bourguignon. Since I watched Julie & Julia movie in September 2009, I want to make this famous recipe. This movie was very special for me. I was fascinated for her passion for food and the way cooking changes her life. And those feelings somehow elevated my desire to cook and learn more about culinary techniques.

Exactly one year after that, my beloved hubby gave me the “Mastering The Art of French Cooking", 2 volumes, eleventh edition. Making some delicious recipes from this book and watching some of her old TV Shows I learned more about her. With her first classic cookbook she not only clarifies what real French culinary is, but simply teaches us how to cook. "She elevates the consciousness to the refined pleasures of dining", as Thomas Keller said. I love it!

About Boeuf Bourguignon recipe, she explains: “As is the case with most famous dishes, there are more ways than one to arrive at a good boeuf bourguignon. Carefully done, and perfectly flavored, it is certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man, and can well be the main course for a buffet dinner. Fortunately you can prepare it completely ahead, even a day in advance, and it only gains in flavor when reheated.” 

I felt so excited and pride making this recipe! But I had doubts about what kind of meat I should buy. In Brazil we have different names and types of meat cutting. Then comparing the beefs charts I found that lean stewing beef is round steak or London broil steak (for Brazilians is patinho or paleta).  

What do I have to say about Boeuf Bourguignon? Yummy! It’s really, really good. And what about the tasty in the next day? I tried in both days and I have to admit that the flavors were more intense in the second day, exactly as she said. I served the beef with mashed potatoes and a full body, young red wine Beaujolais, which were perfect combinations.

                                           Bon appétit!

Boeuf Bourguignon

 Serves 6
9- to 10-inch fireproof casserole dish, 3 inches deep
Slotted spoon
6 ounces bacon
1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. flour
3 cups full-bodied, young red wine, such as a Chianti
2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 tsp. thyme
Crumbled bay leaf
Blanched bacon rind
18 to 24 small white onions, brown-braised in stock
1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms, sautéed in butter
Parsley sprigs

Remove rind from bacon, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 

Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef. 

Dry the stewing beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon. 

In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat. 

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees. 

Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers

very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily. 

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed. 

When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat. 

Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.

For immediate serving: Covet the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley. 

For later serving: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

Braised Onions

18 to 24 peeled white onions about 1 inch in diameter
1½ Tb butter
1½ Tb olive oil
½ cup of brown stock 
½ bay leaf
¼ tsp thyme
parsley sprigs

 Heat a stainless-steel pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and butter and saute the onions over moderate heat for approximately 10 minutes or  until golden brown. 

Add the stock, the herb bouquet and season to taste.
Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet. Serve them as they are.


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