13/02/2008

Cocoa soup - Kakósúpa

I loved cocoa soup and cocoa pudding when I was a child. The soup would be served with zwieback that we would crumble into coarse pieces into the bowl and then we would eat the soup while there was still some crunch left in the zwieback. On special occasions cocoa soup would be served with whipped cream and then it was like thick cocoa, only you ate it with a spoon. It was wonderful to come in from the chill of a winter's morning and sit down to some hot cocoa soup for lunch.

Cocoa pudding was poured into a large bowl prior to serving, sugar was sprinkled on top to prevent a skin from forming, and then we would eat it warm or cold. I never liked it much cold, preferring cold chocolate pudding made with Royal pudding mix, served with whipped cream mixed into it so it looked marbelised.

My mother never used cinnamon but sometimes she put a little bit of vanilla essence into the soup.

2 tbs baking cocoa
2 1/2 tbs sugar
250 ml water
1 cinnamon stick or vanilla pod (optional)
1 litre milk
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbs potato flour or cornflour (double or triple as needed to make pudding)
100 ml cold water
Zwieback

Mix together cocoa and sugar and add to the water in a cooking pot. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

Mix the potato flour/cornflour with cold water to make a smooth paste.

Add the milk, salt and cinnamon or vanilla pod (split lengthwise), if using, to the cocoa mix and bring to the boil. Stir the potato flour/cornflour paste into the boiling soup and wait until it boils again.

Serve hot with zwieback or whipped cream.

For a real treat, make the soup with real chocolate.

04/02/2008

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Icelandic style choux buns - Vatnsdeigsbollur (edited to add a photo)

In Iceland, the last Monday before Lent is called Bolludagur, or Bun Day. On this day, we stuff ourselves with delicious, sweet buns, and many families eat meatballs or fish balls for dinner (bolla can mean both "bun" and “ball”). Two kinds of buns are made, one recipe uses yeast for rising, the other uses eggs. My mother always makes the egg kind, which are made with choux dough. As a result, I have never been able to acquire a taste for yeast buns.

Choux buns


125 g margarine or butter
250 ml water
125 g flour
4 eggs
400 ml heavy cream or whipping cream

Put the water and margarine together in a saucepan and heat until margarine is melted. Sift the flour into the mixture and stir until the dough is smooth and thick. Keep the saucepan on the hotplate while stirring. Remove from the hotplate and allow to cool a little. Break the eggs into a glass, one at a time, and stir to break the yolk. Pour into the dough and mix well. Drop on to an oven-plate with two tablespoons, keeping a good space between the blobs, as they expand quite a lot. Bake at 200°C, in the middle of the oven, for 20-30 minutes, or until the buns are a pale golden colour. Do not open the oven for the first 12-15 minutes, or the buns will fall. Allow to cool before slitting open and filling with whipped cream and jam, and top with cocoa glaze (icing sugar + cocoa powder + warm water) or melted chocolate.

Variations:
-Mash fruit or berries, such as strawberries, bananas, blueberries or peaches and stir into whipped cream and use as filling.
-Add small chocolate chips to the whipped cream before filling the buns. Leave out the glaze.
-Experiment with different flavours of icing, such as maple syrup, caramel, lemon or vanilla.
-Put a piece of creme-filled candy inside the bun for a burst of flavour.

Party treats: Make tiny buns (use teaspoons or a pastry tube instead of tablespoons) and fill with flavoured cream-cheese or tuna dip (mash tuna into mayonnaise and flavour with garlic and pepper). Make a small hole in the side of each bun and fill, using an icing tube. Serve as nibbles or appetizers.