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Chocolate Cream And Home Made Meringues

c5On a regular basis when visiting my grandparents as a kid, at the end of the meal a big bowl was placed in the middle of the table. Being shorter then, all I could see above the rim of the bowl was a mound of whipped cream. I would squeal with joy and excitement—I knew exactly what was soon to be scooped out and placed in a bowl in front of me. Grandma’s chocolate cream. It’s the simplest thing. Not more than 5 minutes to throw together, then a few hours rest in the fridge. 

A velvety smooth, almost pudding like, chocolate. Not too sweet. Fluffy whipped cream is a must. The key ingredient to make this dessert complete: meringues. The sweetness and crunchiness brings it to a whole new level. We used to crush the meringues in our hand and carefully, like a calm snowfall, let the bits of meringue coat the chocolate and cream. Nostalgic much? You bet. Yum.signaturec2

Chocolate Cream

3 tbsp corn starch

4 tbsp cacao

4 tbsp sugar

3 cups whole milk

1 tbsp vanilla essence

In a large sauce pan, mix together all the dry ingredients, then add the milk. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 3 min. Stir constantly.

Add vanilla. Stir and transfer to a bowl or individual dishes. Sprinkle the surface with sugar (to prevent skin forming on the surface). Let the mixture cool slightly then cover in plastic wrap and move to the fridge to let it set for at least 2 hours.

Meringues

Meringues Suisse – is a lovely and professional method of making meringues by beating an egg white mixture in a double boiler. It creates a less brittle meringue, useful when they are small and delicate. It also helps ensure the sugar is properly dissolved, to prevent a crunchy final product. 

 

4 egg whites

250 grams icing sugar (2 cups)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Half fill a medium sized saucepan with water and heat until simmering.

Separate the egg whites and place in a large metal bowl – preferably unlined copper. Rest the bowl over the simmering pan and begin whisking the eggs.

Combine the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, while whisking. Continue beating the eggs at high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has a glossy texture. Mix in the vanilla.

Pipe the mixture on parchment paper into your favourite shape. Bake in a very cool oven, less than 100°C, for 2 to 4 hours, depending on the size of meringue.

Serve with whipped cream and meringues. Serves 4c1c4c3

Savoury Buttermilk Waffles with Tomatoes and Burrata

w5Waffles. Whenever I hear that word, I envision thin, crispy waffles, loaded with whipped cream and strawberry jam. Growing up, that is how I ate them. Today, waffles are more considered a dessert than a savoury dish but I like them both ways. They make a wonderful breakfast/brunch, whether sweet or savoury. 

When we have overnight visitors, I always try to make meals a bit more special. Something extra,  more than simply throwing a box of cereal or a loaf of bread on the counter and say,  ‘help yourselves.’ w1

Recently, I made these savoury waffles for some friends staying for the weekend. They brought some fresh burrata as a gift and I was thinking of a way to put it to good use. Adding some shredded carrots and chives to the waffle batter made them beautifully moist.

Mowing down on these warm waffles accompanied by fresh lettuce, tomatoes and a creamy burrata cheese I realize this is really is quite nice. I should do this more often—a big proper breakfast. Surrounded by cheers and laughter adds to the moment, but who needs guests for these anyway? So what if it is not a ‘special’ morning? Sometimes it’s important to treat ourselves a little. Think of something delicious to make and make this ordinary, nothing special morning, something to remember. 

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1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup sour cream

3 eggs

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp salt

100g browned butter (unsalted)

1/4 cup finely chopped chives

1 cup grated carrots

Preheat the oven to 200F.

In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, milk, sour cream and eggs. In a separate bowl sift flour, baking powder and salt. While whisking, slowly add the flour mixture, a little bit at a time, to the batter then whisk until well blended. Again, while whisking, add the browned butter and the chives and carrots. Stir well. 

Bake the waffles according to the instructions on your waffle maker. Transfer waffles to a plate in the oven to keep warm. Serve with a simple tomato salad and shredded burrata cheese, sprinkled with sea salt.w3 w2

Chicken (not in a pot) Pie

c5Well, summer certainly flew by. I had grand plans to stuff this blog with amazing recipes and photos of fresh summer foods made with ingredients grown locally here in the County. Alas, I failed miserably. Today, we finished processing apples for our 2016 Golden Russet Cider and I realized autumn is almost over as well. But what a beautiful few months we’ve had.

Many of my friends love autumn weather. Though I do prefer summer heat, something must be said about crisp cooler days, warm sweaters, curling up on the sofa with a soft wooly blanket, hot baths, hot teas and heartier foods. c2

A chicken pot pie is a perfect autumn meal. While dining out, I will almost always order them if I see them on the menu. It can be risky since they can be bland. Of course, I always hope they will be amazing. Sometimes I win. Sometimes I lose.

Recently, I decided to make chicken pot pie at home. You may already know I have a hard time simply following a recipe. I need to make it my own. Tweak things here, change things there. Remove any hint of blandness. This is my chicken (not in a pot) pie. Quite different from what you may be used to. And why not? 

See you again soon.

 signature

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1 package frozen puff pastry – thawed

Poached Chicken:

3 chicken breasts

2 1/2 cups tomato sauce

1 cup water

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

Filling:

1 cup brussel sprouts, quartered

1 red pepper

3 cloves of garlic

3 stalks celery

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded

1 tsp curry

1/2 cup dry apple cider

3/4 cup heavy cream

3/4  cup tomato sauce

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

2 apples

salt

pepper

2 cups grated gruyere cheese

1 egg, whisked

In a large sauce pan, Poach the chicken breasts in the tomato sauce, water, vinegar, salt and sugar until cooked through, 15-20 min. Transfer breasts to a plate and let cool, then shred them. Set aside the tomato sauce.

Finely dice the red pepper, garlic, celery and jalapeño pepper. 

In a sauce pan, sauté the vegetables along with the curry in butter and olive oil until soft, 6-7 min. Add cider, cream, tomato sauce (from poaching the chicken breasts) and vinegar. Let simmer for 10 min. Remove from heat and let cool. When cool, peel the apples and grate them into the mixture along with the shredded chicken, stir well. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

In two 9” diameter pie dishes, divide the filling equally. Add the cheese. Cut the pastry dough in two equal pieces and roll out. Place the pieces over each dish, overlapping the edge.  

Brush surface with the egg. Poke the dough with a knife a few times to allow steam to escape. Bake in the middle of the oven for 25-30 min until golden brown and puffy. Serves 6-8. c6c1c3

Cucumber and Avocado Soup

c2The past few weeks have been sweltering hot to say the least. I am not complaining, just stating fact. I adore this time of the year. Summer is relatively short so I have decided that no matter how hot it gets I’m not allowed to whine and complain. I know myself too well, come late fall I will long for the dog days of summer.

Even though I love the summer heat, I’m not a big fan of standing in front of a hot stove in this weather. I try to keep the stove use to a minimum and make everything as cool and fresh as possible. It is easy to skip down to the local farmer’s market to pick up ingredients. Fresh, fresh, fresh. Easy and healthy.

During this heat wave our friend Natalie came to visit for a few days which we parlayed into a weeklong stay. I have to admit she’s quite an inspiration when it comes to eating well and healthy. We shared cooking duties and one day for lunch I made a cucumber and avocado soup. This is one of my favourite summer soups. The fresh taste and smell of cucumber is dreamy and the avocados lend a creamy texture. Blended together it makes a fresh tasting and healthy lunch or appetizer. 

I am pretty sure your guests will hold their bowls up for seconds. In our case we ate it straight from the serving dish until there was nothing left.c5

2 medium onions

1 tbsp butter

2 cloves garlic

pinch of ground nutmeg

3 cups chicken broth

1 cucumber

2 avocados

juice of half a lime

salt and pepper to taste

Roughly chop the onion and garlic. In a large sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat and sauté the onions for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another 2. Add the chicken broth and nutmeg and let cook until onions are very soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. 

Rinse the cucumber well and cut in half, lengthwise. Cut the cucumber in 1″ pieces and transfer to a food processor. Slice both avocados in half, remove the pit and scoop the flesh into the food processor. Add the juice of the half lime then pulse until finely chopped. 

With the processor on high speed, start adding the onion and chicken broth mixture about one cup at a time. Puree until smooth, check the thickness of the soup, and add more of the liquid if needed. Once soup is nice and smooth, pour into a sieve and press the soup through with the help of a ladle into a bowl. Chill, covered, in the fridge a couple of hours before serving. Garnish with a dollop of creme fraiche, chives and a sprinkle of good salt.c4c1c6

Strawberry Trifle with White Chocolate & Saffron Ganache

s8An afternoon spent by the lake? For me, that is sadly a rare occasion. The hours in the day are simply not enough and my ‘to-do’ list keeps growing longer and longer. It’s easy to bury yourself in work, doing things that seem important but, in the grand scheme of things, it might not make a big difference whether they get done today or another day. s1

Your own self being on the other hand, well, that is important. There’s only one of you. Take care of yourself. Spoil yourself once in a while by giving yourself time – even if it’s not there. Find it, and do something you really want to do. 

Yesterday was one of those days for me. I felt I needed a ‘me’ day. Well, a half ‘me’ day anyway. I got up early, did some painting on the house to make sure I had accomplished something productive, then, after lunch, I exhaled and smiled. It was time to go. s2

On a sunny day, spending it by the water is what I enjoy the most. There is nothing more tranquil and relaxing. Soothing for your soul. I interact with a lot of people every week, so for me this is a great way to zen out. It’s amazing how easy it is to forget about the rest of the world, when all you hear is the waves making their final crescendo against the shore.

I was still able to hunt down some county strawberries, so a fresh strawberry trifle was a marvellous addition to a sun filled afternoon by the water. For this recipe I replaced the vanilla custard, which is usually used, with a white chocolate ganache with saffron. 

Have you ever had strawberries and saffron before? I hadn’t but sure will again!s5

White Cake:

3 egg

1 1/4 cup sugar

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tbsp vanilla extract

2/3 cup cold milk

Ganache:

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 pinch saffron strands

200g white chocolate

2 1/2 cups sliced strawberries

2 cups cream, whipped

Cake:

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a blender, whisk egg and sugar until white and fluffy. Sift flour and baking powder in a separate bowl and add slowly to the egg mixture. Add vanilla and milk and mix on low until just blended.

Pour into a greased springform pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 30 min, or until golden and centre of the cake is set. Leave in pan while cooling. 

Ganache:

While the cake is in the oven, make the ganache. 

In a medium sauce pan, bring cream and saffron to a boil. Remove from heat and add the white chocolate. Stir until melted. Let cool.

Assembly:

In a large glass bowls or 6 individual glasses, repeat layers of cake, ganache, strawberries and cream. Finish off with a layer of whipped cream and a drizzle of ganache. 

Can be made a few hours in advance if kept in the fridge.

*Before assembling, taste the ganache to know the level of saffron. Remember it’s fairly pungent, so add the ganache accordingly.s7s6s3

Quinoa Tabbouleh with Oregano and Strawberries

t3Tabbouleh. Don’t you just love that word? Such a great name for a beautiful, summery and fresh bowl of deliciousness. It’s the type of dish where you feel healthier with each bite. 

This middle eastern classic is originally made with bulgur, however, I have to admit I prefer it made with quinoa, which is also fairly common. I find it is lighter and fluffier. But two each their own. 

The other morning I was enjoying a coffee on the back stairs and was admiring the huge patch of wild oregano growing in the middle of the lawn. Surprised it had survived the lawnmower, I wondered where it came from and how I could use as much of it as possible.

To this end, a simple bbq was planned for lunch. Tabbouleh would be the perfect side dish and I thought, why not throw in some freshly picked oregano? A bowl of recently picked strawberries joined the salad bowl as well. How much summer is that?

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1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

1 1/2 cup chopped parsley

4-6 green onions

1/2 cup chopped mint

1/2 cup chopped oregano

2 cups cherry tomatoes

1/2 cucumber

1 garlic clove

zest from 1 lemon

1 tbspwhite wine vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

3-4 tbsp lemon juice

1 cup lima beans, cooked and cooled

1 cup sliced strawberries

boston lettuce leaves

 

Thoroughly rinse the quinoa under cold water than add to a medium sauce pot along with the water. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low until water is absorbed, about 20 min. 

In the meantime, finely chop the parsley, green onions, mint and oregano. Thinly slice the tomatoes and finely dice the cucumber. 

Press the garlic clove and zest the lemon.

Once the quinoa is cooked, remove from the heat, then gently fluff it with a fork. Let cool for 5 min, then add the mint, garlic, lemon zest and lemon juice. Stir well.

Once cool, add the rest of the ingredients and mix. Cover and let sit in the fridge for an hour before serving

Serve on a boston lettuce leaf.t2t4t5

Chocolate Balls – For all ages

c7Once in a while, the sweet tooth aces for attention and I suddenly feel the urge to whip up something sweet and tasty. When ever this phenomena occurred growing up, these chocolate balls was an often recurring star. It takes minutes to throw together and is made with ingredients already often found at home. 

You might think it’s more of a kid’s treat than an adult’s but I beg to differ. I am pretty sure my parents ate as many of these as my sisters and I did. They might absolutely, totally and 100% disagree, but who would you believe anyway? 

As a great addition to a kid’s party, roll them in colourful sprinkles and sparkles. For the adult party, add a splash of your favourite rum or cognac, and cover them in the traditional coconut flakes or pearl sugar, or why not try chopped pistachios? 

For those of you who still think this is not for me, well, listen to your inner child. Don’t deny it, we all have them. Listen carefully. I think it’s time to give him or her a treat! 

Jens

c2

100g butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup oats

3 tbsp cocoa

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 tbsp cold coffee

shredded coconut or pearl sugar as garnish

In a bowl, beat together butter and sugar. When well mixed, add the cocoa, vanilla and coffee. Blend until smooth. Stir in the oats.

Roll into small 1″ balls, and roll in shredded coconut or pearl sugar.

Makes 15-20

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Swedish Split Pea Soup

sps1Can you make lunch today?” my mom asked one chilly morning while I sat down for coffee. 

Sure!” I said, not really knowing what to make. 

My parents and I always divided up the cooking duties during my visits back home. This yearly sojourn in Sweden has become a veritable feast of new recipes to discover on top of my old favourites I still get to enjoy. Food is a huge thing for my family. Almost daily trips to the grocery store, planning and prepping. So much fun. 

I took a sip of coffee and we started to plan the dayplan the food. We were talking about soup. How we all love soup. All kinds. Savoury, sweet, hot and cold.

“Almost,” my mom interjected. Her hand had reached out and touched my arm. “There is one I am not fond of.” 

It was the classic, Swedish split pea soup. 

Really? I thought. Perhaps she just hadn’t had a great version of it yet. sps2Back in the middle ages, Sweden, while still a Catholic empire, Friday was a day of fast. So, on Thursdays, people started making a hearty soup with yellow split peas, cooked in a delicious broth of pork and served with hard bread, mustard and cheese. 

Long after The Catholic Church lost its grip here, Thursday is still called ‘soup day’. Today’s Special in restaurants is often soup and most schools serve soup for lunch. 

Today was not Thursday. It was, however, a perfect day for hearty soup. This in mind, I jotted down items I needed to get for lunch. My mom, sharp eyed as ever, spotted ‘yellow split peas’ on the list. She looked at me. I looked at her, smiled and nodded. She smiled back. 

I’m looking forward to it,” she said. I assured her she’d love it, all the while quietly praying I would be right. 

This is a very simple recipethough a bit time consuming to preparethe results are rustic and beautiful. My dad loves split pea soup, so I wasn’t worried about him. My mom’s verdict? Well, one wouldn’t take seconds if one didn’t like it, correct?

Jens sps4

2 cups yellow split peas

8 cups water

1 large onion

2 carrots

2-3 bay leaves

300g bacon

5 whole allspice corns

2 tsp oregano

2 tsp thyme

4 cloves garlic

1 tbsp dijon mustard

2 tsp salt

2 tbsp dijon mustard

1/2 cup crème fraîche

pinch of salt

pepper

Place the peas in a large bowl and fill up with water. Leave to swell for 6-12 hours.

Drain the peas and transfer to a large sauce pan. Add most of the water. Cut the carrots in 2″ pieces and peel and quarter the onion. Add to the pot along with bay leaves. Bring to a boil and let simmer, uncovered for 30 min. Fold half of the bacon in half and tie together with kitchen string. Add along with the rest of the spices and let simmer for another 30 min. Stir once in a while and add water as needed. Remove the bacon and set aside. Let the soup cook until the peas are soft and starting to break down. 

In a frying pan, fry the rest of the bacon until nicely browned and crisp. Cut into small pieces and place in a serving dish. 

Remove carrots, onions, bay leaves and allspice corns from the soup. Cut the bacon from the soup into small pieces and add back to the soup. 

In a bowl, mix together mustard, creme fraiche, salt and pepper. 

Decorate the hot soup with a dollop of mustard crème fraîche and sprinkle with fried bacon. Serve with crisp bread, butter and Havarti cheese.sps3sps5

Tomato Tartelettes

tt4Appetizers are often on the menu when hosting a more formal dinner party. The smaller of the first two courses, yet perhaps the most important one. Guests have just been seated to a beautifully set table. Candles are lit, music drowned by cheerful chatter and laughter. Napkins lifted, airborne for a second before landing on peoples laps. Wine glasses chinking and cutlery clinking.

This is why the appetizer is so important: They are the first culinary experience guests will have and often a prelude to adventures to come.  I like to take the time to observe expressions around me. See how they observe what’s on their plate. Watch them lean slightly forward, better to catch a whiff of aroma.This is when you must impress your guest. If the appetizer is visually appealing and the first  bite a hit, they will know they are in store for a treat the rest of the evening. 

Now, despite what I just said, don’t become a slave to the kitchen just to impress your guests. I used to be that slave and I decided it had to end one dinner party when, just before dessert, one of our guests walked into the kitchen just to see if I was still in the house. She hadn’t seen me most of the evening. From that dinner on, I set limits for myself. Years later I am still sticking to them. When thinking of a potential dish for a dinner party, if much of it can’t be made in advance, then it’s off the list. I like to make sure 75% of my time is spent with my guests and the rest in the kitchen, not the other way around. 

Remember, planning is key. Choose dishes which are easy to make and where part of the dishes can be made in advance. The more that can be done in advance the less stress you will have hosting a multi course dinner. It wont be so daunting. tt3

These tomato tartelettes are a great “prepared in advance” appetizer. All the steps except final assembly and baking can be done before anyone arrives. You only need 5 minutes to assemble them. Then go and hang out with your guests while they are baking. 

The people around the table are your family, friends, or simply someone you want to get to know better. You wouldn’t have invited them otherwise. Relax and enjoy. Make sure you see them. Remember, they are coming to your house to eat good food, sure, but mostly they are coming to your house to see you.

Jens

tt1

Crust:

200 g sifted flour

100 g unsalted, cold butter.

1 egg

pinch of salt

2 tbsp ice water

Filling:

1 Jalapeno pepper, seeded

5-6 sun-dried tomatoes

75g goat cheese, room temperature

2 tomatoes

1/2 cup milk

2 eggs

1/2 tsp salt

pepper

Crust:

Combine the dry ingredients in a food processor. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the dry ingredients. Add the egg. Pulse the food processor and add the tablespoons of ice water one at a time. Keep pulsing until it forms a ball of dough. It shouldn’t take more than 30 to 45 seconds. You may need a third table spoon of ice water.

Remove from the processor and flatten the ball somewhat. Dust with flour, and place in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour to rest. It is important not to over manipulate the dough to ensure flakiness.

 

Preheat oven to 400F.

Roll the dough out as thin as possible, ideally about 1/8”. Cut into 4 equal pieces. Line 4 4” diameter pie shell. Prick the bottom with a fork, fill with dry beans or pie weights and blind bake in the middle of the oven for 10-12 min until cooked. Take out of the oven, remove beans or pie weights and let cool.

In the mean time, finely dice the jalapeno pepper and sundries tomatoes. In a bowl, mix along with the goat cheese. Divide the mixture between the tarts and spread out along the bottom of each pie crust. 

Slice the tomato in 1/4” slices, and place one slice in each tart.

In a bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Add the liquid to the tarts until it just covers the tomato. 

Sprinkle with a little bit of grated gruyere cheese.

Bake in the upper half of the oven for 20-25 min until set and golden brown.tt2 tt5

Semla

s2Take a freshly made, golden brown bun, cut the top off. Scoop out the centre of the bun and fill it with a delicate, soft almond and marzipan paste flavoured with vanilla. Cover the paste with lightly sweetened whipped cream before placing the top back on and dusting the whole creation with icing sugar. Sounds delicious? Well it is. 

This is the very traditional Swedish semla. It originated a long time ago and was only eaten on one day of the year- the day before the Lenten fast begun. The Lent was a six week long christian fast ending on Easter Sunday. Preparing for this meant loads of very fatty food were consumed on this day – always on a Tuesday. The day is still known as Fettisdagen, or Fat Tuesday. s4

Nowadays, semla is more or less the only thing that reminds us about this out drawn fast. And this almond and cream bun is sold and eaten for 3-4 months out of the year, rather than on this one very special day. It’s not bad though for a little bun to gain it’s own day. If you happen to be in Sweden tomorrow, on February 9th, which is Fettisdagen this year, go ahead and treat yourself. You can’t escape them this time of year. Enjoy it with a rich dark coffee or a nice cup of your favourite tea.

Jenss3

For the buns:

75g butter

1 1/4 cup milk

50g fresh yeast (5 tsp dry)

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg

1/2 tsp horthornsalt

1 2/3 cup cake and pastry flour

2 cups all purpose flour

1 egg

For the marzipan filling:

Enough for 6 semlor   ********?

200g almonds with skin

3/4 cup icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla paste or vanilla extract

1 egg white

25g marzipan

1/4 cup whipping cream

centre of 3 buns

1 cup whipping cream

1 tbsp icing sugar

1 tbsp vanilla extract

In a small sauce pan, over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the milk and warm to a temperature of 98F (37C). Remove from the stove and add the yeast. Mix well and let stand for 10 min. 

Meanwhile, in a blender add salt, sugar and egg. Beat well. Sift together horthornsalt and flour. Add the yeast to the egg mixture while stirring and then slowly add the flour, a little bit at a time. Touch the dough to feel if it is too sticky to handle. If too sticky, add a tbsp or more of flour until the dough can be handled. It’s very important not to add too much flour, or you will end up with really dry buns. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let the dough rest, in the bowl, for about 30 min. 

Preheat oven to 485F.

Scoop the dough onto a flat surface dusted with flour. Kneed into a ball and divide into round balls, roughly 2″ diameter. Place on a baking sheet, cover and let rest for another 20-30 min. They are ready when you gently poke the buns and they spring back up. Brush them with lightly whisked egg. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 15 min or until golden. Transfer the buns to a rack and let cool. The buns can be stored in the freezer and thawed as needed. 

Only prepare as many buns as you need. 

Cut off the top of the buns, about 1/2 down. Pick out some of the bread in the centre of the bun, and crumble it into a bowl. Crumble Grate the marzipan into the bowl and add the sugar, cream and vanilla. Stir until you get an even paste. It should be quite loose, but not runny. Fill the centre of the buns with the marzipan filling. 

Pipe or scoop some whipped cream on top of the filling and finally place the ‘lid’ back on. Dust with icing sugar and place on a serving platter.

Note: The traditional way of eating semlor is to start with the lid. Scoop some of the cream onto the lid and take a bite. Once the lid is gone, the rest of the bun can be eaten with knife and fork, but I prefer to see who manage to take a bite without getting the tip of their nose covered in whipped cream!s1s5