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Matcha muffins

I had this idea to make muffins without any diary product. I am very used to use butter as ingredients to cupcakes or sometimes even oil. But I saw once a recipe without any of these ingredients. I thought to give it the try and see what is brings. I do not recall the source of that recipe but the idea remained in my head.
No surprise that these muffins grew in the oven as any traditional muffin. The difference was instead in texture. If you combine them with a frosting that is based on butter I think that the lack of grease in the muffins is totally ignored. However for my taste, these ones were a little dry. My kids did not share the same opinion with me as they enjoyed them without any negative remark.
As for the texture, that is a wow. It is extremely soft, with very fine holes inside and they simply melt into your mouth.
The taste was just perfect. Although I expected to have quite a strong taste from the powdered green tea, it only gave a slight flavor that I really liked.
The meringues instead got a strong green tea taste. I like the taste of green tea so it didn't bothered me. Neither my kids complained, but the taste is clearly changed due to the matcha powder.
Any decoration from this recipe is totally optional. I decorated them with chocolate (as I promised my daughter some chocolate muffins, but I didn't specify if the chocolate was inside or outside), using the chocolate as a "glue" for the meringues. The matcha meringues were more for fun and to treat my kids with a homemade sweet after lunches.

Persimmon kumquat tart

I was looking for some exotic winter tart and I had in mind to make something with persimmons. I love their subtle aroma and their sweet pulp. Being enough sweet, I felt the need to add something sour in the fruit puree and instead of using the classical lemon, I opted for another exotic fruit, kumquat. They go quite well together, making a sweet-sour fine taste.
When I planned for this recipe I was heaving in mind another way to do it. I wanted a baked tart shell and just one layer of fruit crust. How I ended up with this recipe was instead quite differently.
The initial baked crust was a total failure. It shrunk in the oven and was totally unusable. It was eaten later by my kids as biscuits. I then had to start all over again, but this time I went for a very simple version as time was not allowing me to redo the previous one.
The fruit tart was exactly the one I planned for. My only comment when tasting it was.... way too much butter. If I do this recipe again, butter quantity in the fruit crust will be clearly diminished.
To the initial planned tart I added a glaze just to get a nice look on top, but in the end I thing that this top layer added much more fruit flavor as the fruit curd itself.
The resulting cake was not bad at all. A bit heavier than I wished for due to the high quantity of butter but the taste was special.

Let's see what is inside...

Red velvet muffins

After the success of the Simple red velvet cake, I wanted to try the same recipe for muffins. The composition is very tricky when baked in a large pan as it may not rise evenly. But for muffins, this is not the case.

King cake

When I moved to Belgium it was the first time when I found out about the "Gallete des Rois" tradition. I found it as a nice tradition to celebrate every year on the 6th of January. If in the beginning I was just tasting it when brought by friends or colleagues, since I have kids I had to bake it as well :).
But what is exactly this cake? Well it is a very simple one, 2 layers of puff pastry with some almond cream between them. The cake comes also with 2 extra things: a crown (usually a gold paper one) and a small piese of porcelain that is hidden inside the cake.
The story with this cake is the following : the cake should be cut in as many slices as there are people around it. One of the kids, usually the youngest one, goes under the table and indicate to the person who distribute the slices to whom to give it. Everyone receive a piece and eat his/her slice carefully.  The little small porcelain of course is found in one of the slices, and the one who finds it in its slice becomes the King or the Queen and wears the crown for the rest of the day.
It took me a while to understand the secret of this cake. It is not about the taste of the cake, it is not about the way it looks, it is not about the game of luck but it is about bringing the family together around a fun tradition. It is also about feeling as important as a queen or a king for the day. Especially as a child.
My daughter asks me for this cake every year. This year I made the cake, she got the biggest part of it and of course she was rewarded with the little porcelain piece called "fève". But I was totally surprised when she asked for another cake. I thought she wanted to be the queen again but in fact she told me to skip the part in hiding the "feve" inside. I understood then that she liked the taste of the cake as much she was enjoying the game.
This is how I ended up doing a second king cake almost at the end of January.

As for the cake, it is not at all a big deal to make it unless you go for the adventure to make the puff pastry yourself. With the first trials I wanted to do everything by myself but it took way too long to make the pastry and at the time of enjoying the tradition I was too tired. Lately, I find it easier to buy the puff pastry, make the filling myself and quickly assembling it.

Cheese crackers

After the success of my Feta waffle crackers I looked for another version on which to improve two things: use more feta cheese and reduce the time for the preparation.
Using a waffle maker is time consuming and I thought changing the way of shaping them will drastically reduce the time. This time I choose to stretch the dough and cut it with a pasta waved cutter while cooking them all in the oven. Easy right? Well, moving each piece, brushing with egg and sprinkle with poppy seeds took a bit of time. In the end, when you compare the 2 options, yes, it takes you just a little less time than baking them with a waffle maker.
The second point was the addition of the feta cheese. This was indeed a very good idea. These crackers are more salty, they have more texture and the quantity of the feta cheese is just the right one.
You can serve these crackers as they are or you can dip them in a bit of creamy sauce. I prefer them just as they are.