Homemade Dairy-Free Chocolate and Marzipan Penguins for Valentine’s Day

The professional version of chocolate-marzipan penguins

Our local chocolate shop always makes these cute little chocolate and marzipan penguins for Valentine’s Day. This year, I decided to tackle a homemade version.

After my son’s successful food challenges for eggs and almonds last year, marzipan is one of my new favorite ingredients (remember the Swiss Stollen at Christmastime?). Even thought it’s a major improvement, his milk allergy still prevents him from enjoying store-bought chocolates at this time.

To prepare for my confectionery experiment, I bought some dairy-free marzipan and food coloring. After shaping the penguins’ bodies and wings out of the marzipan, I spread some melted Enjoy Life Foods chocolate on their backs. Then, I dotted some chocolate on small drops of powdered sugar icing for the eyes (they seem a bit scared, don’t they?). My family of penguins certainly look homemade, but they taste really good, and the kids are excited to try them on Valentine’s Day.

My very homemade-looking penguins

If you’re looking to make some allergy-friendly Valentine’s Day treats, here are some recipes I’ve shared during the last few years. All of them are dairy-free, egg-free, peanut-free and tree-nut free.

And, for another super-easy and no-bake recipe, check out Allergy Shmallergy’s Sweet Strawberry Hearts.

What allergy-friendly treats are you planning on this year for Valentine’s Day? Please share your suggestions and recipes by leaving a comment below. Thanks so much! 


Special bites: A Zürich “Sweet Studio” with Delicious Gluten-free and Dairy-free Treats

Special Bites Sweet Studio 2560x3153

Elegantly decorated cupcakes, rich double chocolate cookies and cake citron garnished with candied lemon—all made without dairy and gluten by Special bites in Zürich. I had the chance to meet the baker who creates these delicious treats over the weekend, and my family and I are now her biggest fans.

Hungarian-born Timea Megyeri opened Special bites in October 2013 because she wanted to make sure that people avoiding dairy and gluten could still enjoy delicious sweet treats. Her goal is to make high-quality baked goods that taste just as good, if not better, than those made with milk, butter and wheat, for example. With offerings like Bakewell Cake and Victoria Sandwich Cake, Timea has a strong British influence in her baking, as she received her formal training at University College Birmingham.

After admiring her stunning photos of cupcakes and other treats on Facebook for months, I finally placed an order for pick up in Zürich. When I arrived at her commercial kitchen, her brightly lit workspace was immaculate and absolutely free of products containing dairy or gluten. Timea had set out a platter heaped with freshly baked cookies and bars. There was a layered sponge cake with berry filling and some lightly sweetened breakfast cookies, including one with grated carrots, gluten-free oats, agave syrup and raisins. I also had the chance to meet Timea’s boyfriend, Malcom Hett, who serves as her taste-tester and marketing advisera fitting role given his day job working as a global marketing manager.

Special Bites Tea Time

Photo courtesy of Special bites

For my 3-year old son with a milk allergy, it’s not often he gets to eat something that I haven’t made for him—which is why I was so excited to discover Special bites. He can safely eat gluten, so I don’t normally buy gluten-free products, but from my experience in Switzerland, its more common that dairy-free products are also made without gluten. Unfortunately, the few prepackaged cookies like this we’ve bought for him haven’t been very good. However, the photos I kept seeing from Timea made it seem that gluten-free ingredients weren’t holding her back from making really delicious baked goods, so I had to give it a try.

I had such a lovely time chatting with Timea about her baking, it wasn’t long before I realized an hour had passed! My usual snack time routines involve cleaning up spilled soy milk and reading children’s stories, so I enjoyed the opportunity to just sit and talk with someone who really understands how to bake exceptionally well, including for people with food allergies and intolerances. When it was time for me to leave, she bagged up my order of chocolate cookies and lemon cakes in a Special bites tote bag, and I could haven’t been more pleased.

Back at home, both of my sons were thrilled with everything from Special bites. The lemon cake had a great flavor and light icing, without being too sweet (she admitted to actually liking salty things more than sweets, and it’s reflected in her baking). I was especially impressed with the double chocolate cookies—so rich and with a texture almost like a brownie. I had to remind myself they were for my son, so I wouldn’t eat them all!

Double Chocolate Cookies

Double Chocolate Cookies

If you’re living or traveling in Zürich with special dietary needs, I highly recommend Special bites for delicious and elegant dairy-free and gluten-free, as well as vegan and gluten-free, baked goods. We plan on placing another order the next time we’re nearby. You can order products online that can be picked up in Zürich or you can find them at the following:

Eva’s Apples
Weinbergstrasse 168, 8006 Zürich
Phone: 044 363 56 54

Mr. and Mrs. Glutenfree
Forchstrasse 28, 8008 Zürich
Phone: 076 548 43 23

Simply Soup
Hallwylstrasse 24, 8004 Zürich
Phone: 044 554 66 71

Pelikanstrasse 19, 8001 Zürich
Phone: 043 497 22 32

FELFEL (no retail shop; food items delivered to enrolled workplaces)
Grubenstrasse 11, 8045 Zurich
Phone: 043 536 74 51

A big thanks again to Timea Megyeri of Special bites for hosting me and for creating quality products that taste great while catering to the needs of people avoiding dairy and gluten in Switzerland.

Recipe: Reine-Claude Coffee Cake

Reine Claude

What are Reine-Claudes? Maybe you know them as Greengages? Now after two years of living in French-speaking Switzerland, I finally discovered these little green plums with a sweet fresh flavor. Typically grown in southern France, we see Reine-Claudes at our farmers’ market and all the local grocery stores. Their size can vary, but most often they’re smaller than purple plums (pruneaux) and slightly larger than the yellow-hued Mirabelles.

Reine Claudes market

Reine Claude
Named after a 16th century French queen, these special Reine-Claudes have a distinct flavor and are really best eaten raw. Even so, I’m not a huge fan of plums—although I’m slowly acquiring a taste for them. Generally, I prefer them baked in a cake or tart.

Over the last few weeks of summer vacation (my son’s school year started on Monday already!?), I’ve been perfecting my recipe for a cake with Reine-Claudes. When I served my second test-cake to my father-in-law last week, he suggested calling it a coffee cake, given it’s overall appearance and texture. I agreed with him, and since I’m usually downing a large cup of coffee (or several) when eating cake, it seemed like a good name for my new recipe. I had lots of coffee cake growing up in Minnesota, and this one reminds me of one my mother used to make with a cinnamon-streusel topping—except it’s made without dairy and contains French plums befitting a queen!

Reine-Claude Coffee Cake

Inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s Purple Plum Torte, a recipe adapted from Marian Burros’ Famous Purple Plum Torte from Elegant but Easy and The Essential New York Times Cookbook.

A 9-inch round cake tin or springform pan
Parchment paper and/or dairy-free margarine for greasing the pan

Dry ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons ground almonds (optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup dairy-free margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)
2 large eggs
Zest of 1 lemon

About 8 Reine-Claudes (Greengages), pitted and halved
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-2 tablespoons sliced almonds (optional)

1. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, vanilla sugar and margarine. Add one egg at a time, and combine until the mixture is smooth. Then stir in the lemon zest.

3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two batches, stirring together gently until combined, but do not overbeat. Put the cake batter into the prepared pan, spread evenly.

4. Place the Reine-Claudes face down and evenly dispersed on top of the cake batter. Then, sprinkle the lemon juice over the plums and the cake batter.

Reine Claude Cake

5. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle it over the top of the cake. Finally, sprinkle on the sliced almonds.

Reine Claude Cake

6. Bake for 40-50 minutes at 180ºC/350ºF until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Best served warm, but also very good the next day!

Reine Claude Cake

Reine-Claude Coffee Cake Piece 2702x2794

We’ve had a cool and rainy Swiss summer, so I’m hoping for a warm autumn season. Hope you’re all doing well and enjoying the final weeks of summer.

Food Challenge Success: Almonds

An amazing thing happened last week. My nearly 3-year old son ate almonds for the first time during his food challenge at the hospital. He started with a small dose of ground almonds mixed in applesauce. In all, he had five increasing doses—a total of 28 grams of ground almonds (more than a 1/4 cup). Thankfully, he had absolutely no reaction.


With this test behind us, our allergist said we could start feeding my son almonds at home and should continue to do so regularly in order to build his tolerance. I was thrilled to start making one of my favorite almond recipes again—Scandinavian Almond Cake.

Avoiding Almonds

To give you some background, we started avoiding almonds for my son, along with peanuts, other tree nuts and sesame, after he had a positive blood test for peanuts back in the United States in the spring of 2012. Then, he had a positive skin prick test in December 2012 specifically for almonds, so we continued to avoid them, while also getting the go-ahead from our allergist to start introducing other tree nuts at home, like hazelnuts and pistachios. Even though he had never experienced an allergic reaction to almonds, we made sure he didn’t eat any food that contained them as intended or unintended ingredients.

Why did we wait to schedule an oral food challenge for almonds? In comparison to milk and eggs, almonds were easier to avoid and a lesser priority in terms of daily nutrition. For these reasons, and in consultation with our allergist, we focused his first two food challenges on baked eggs and cold cow’s milk. They were conducted at a local hospital and under the supervision of our son’s pediatric allergist and other medical staff. With these behind us, it was finally time to try out almonds, and thankfully, he had a great result.

Was my son ever really allergic to almonds? I can’t help but ask myself this question. We will never know for sure. Even though he had a positive skin prick test, these results are not always accurate. According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), apparently 50-60 percent of these skin tests have “false-positive” results. In other words, you can eat the food without a reaction, even though you have a positive test. From what I’ve heard and read, food challenges serve as the best indicator of whether a person is truly allergic to a particular food.

While it bothers me to think we could have unnecessarily avoided almonds because he was never really allergic, I understand how we got to this point, and I’m just so grateful for the result. People typically hold onto their tree nut allergies for life. While he hasn’t tried every single tree nut out there yet, we can say confidently now that he doesn’t have any (known) tree nut allergies. He’s already been so lucky.

Furthermore, there’s a good chance my son could outgrow his egg and milk allergies in the coming years. With this most recent food challenge for almonds completed, it brings us another step closer to my goal. I’ll continue to be cautiously optimistic. In the meantime, I’ll just keep making and eating cake!

Recipe: Scandinavian Almond Cake

My dear mother introduced me to Scandinavian Almond Cake years ago. It’s a sweet cake that doesn’t need any icing. Just a dusting of powdered sugar and some almonds, served alongside a strong cup of coffee. Here in Switzerland, it reminds me of the almond-topped Financier cakes I see in the bakery windows around our neighborhood. I had a bottle of almond extract left in my cupboard from the United States that hadn’t yet expired, so I made this cake last weekend to celebrate the happy news about my son’s food challenge. We ate it up!


(Dairy-free with baked egg, but can be made without eggs.)

1 1/4 cup sugar
1 egg (or one tablespoon flax meal mixed with 3 tablespoons water)
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
2/3 cup rice milk
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup dairy-free margarine, melted and cooled

1. Grease an almond cake pan or another loaf pan. If using a non-stick pan, also dust the greased pan lightly with flour.

2. Whisk together the first four ingredients: sugar, egg (or egg substitute) and rice milk. Then, whisk in the flour and baking powder—just enough to make a smooth batter.

3. Add the melted and cooled margarine. Stir, just until blended—do not overbeat.

4. Pour into the prepared pan and bake at 180ºC/350ºF for about 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.


5. Cool cake for about 10 minutes, loosen it gently from the pan and invert onto a cooling rack.

Optional: Before serving, dust with powdered sugar and sliced almonds.


Tomorrow marks the last day of Food Allergy Awareness Week (May 11-17). According to FARE, 1 in 13 children has a food allergy in the United States—about 2 students in every classroom. If you’re wondering how to get involved, there’s still time to participate! Bon week-end, everyone.

Recipe: Mocha-Cardamom Snack Cake


Ever since our winter vacation back in February, when we drove across the border to do some exploring in France, I’ve been wanting to make a chocolate cake flavored with coffee and cardamom. I discovered this wonderful combination at a French chocolate shop in Morteau: Chocolaterie Klaus. After baking many test cakes, I’ve found an easy recipe to share that’s dairy, egg and nut-free.

I’m trying very hard not to eat cake for my second breakfast this morning…

The French Village of Lods


When we originally planned our little excursion to France, the intent was to visit Lods. This small village alongside the Doubs river has been designated as one of the France’s Plus Beaux Villages (most beautiful villages). In all, 157 villages have this title and receive support from a nonprofit association working to maintain the character of these historic places.


While we enjoyed walking through this quiet town, I didn’t find many options for a fancy French pastry. Instead, I bought some treats in Morteau, a larger town on the border with Switzerland. From what we’ve heard, it’s a common stop for Swiss residents seeking cheaper groceries in France.

Chocolaterie Klaus


As we drove through Morteau on the way back to Switzerland, I spotted a “chocolaterie” sign and requested my husband take a quick turn. Soon after, we arrived at Chocolaterie Klaus. I ran into the small factory store, while my youngest napped in the back seat.

Inside, I found piles of delicious chocolate bars with small dishes of broken pieces to sample. While they had the typical flavor combinations, I saw some new ones too, like grapefruit and piment d’Espelette—a chili pepper grown in Spain and France. I bought some cookies and caramels, and two bars of chocolate, including a milk chocolate one with coffee and cardamom.

Inspired by this chocolate bar, I began experimenting to create an allergy-friendly chocolate cake with the same flavors of coffee and cardamom. After several attempts, I found a quick recipe from my favorite ol’ Betty Crocker cookbook. My mother’s recent visit included a delivery of allergy-friendly mini-chocolate chips from Enjoy Life, so I had everything I needed to make a safe cake for my son (dairy/egg/nut-free). This recipe is incredibly fast and easy—and similar to the one for Crazy Cake. My 6-year old enjoyed helping to mix all the ingredients in the pan.

Mocha-Cardamom Snack Cake

Adapted from my favorite Betty Crocker cookbook, 7th edition (1991).


Dry ingredients:
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:
1 cup strong coffee
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon white or cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used dark rum instead)

Topping (added before baking):
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life mini chips)

Use an ungreased square pan, 8×8 inches or about 20×20 cm.

1. Sift dry ingredients directly into the square pan, and stir together with a fork.

2. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and use the fork to combine them, just until blended.

3. Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the top of the cake batter.

4. Bake for 30-40 minutes at 180°C/350°F until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center. Cool on a wire rack in the pan. Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar, if desired.


In the United States, May is Food Allergy Action Month. Check out FARE’s calendar of activities which have the purpose to:

“go beyond raising awareness in order to inspire action so that we can improve understanding of the disease, advance the search for a cure, create safer environments and help people live well with food allergies.”

Bon week-end, everyone!

Part II: Gâteau aux Noisettes Success

For February vacation week, our family went searching for snow in the Jura mountains of Switzerland. Thankfully, we found it in Le Locle and La-Chaux-de-Fonds. Since 2009, UNESCO has listed both cities as World Heritage sites for their watchmaking history and how it shaped their development. When we came home, the trip had inspired me to finally tackle an allergy-friendly version of a local Neuchâtel specialty: Gâteau aux noisettes (hazelnut cake, but I call it a tart).


Allergy-Friendly Accommodations

In Le Locle, we stayed in a 2-bedroom apartment in a wonderful old farmhouse outside of town. Relais de La Baume sits on a hillside, surrounded by evergreen trees and snow-covered pastures. Our apartment had a kitchen, so we planned to make all of our meals there. At the same time, I emailed two local restaurants in advance to inquire about allergy-friendly options for my son. I never heard back from one, and the other said they couldn’t guarantee a safe meal for him. While it would have been great to eat out together as a family, we played it safe by buying groceries at the Coop in Le Locle and cooking for ourselves in our well-equipped kitchen.

Neuchatel’s G
âteau aux Noisettes

During our trip, I had the chance to sample yet another gâteau aux noisettes from a bakery in La-Chaux-de-Fonds. I first discovered these hazelnut tarts last year when we visited a well-known bakery in Valangin. These nut-filled tarts traditionally have a thin layer of icing and are a local treat here in the canton of Neuchâtel. They come in all shapes and sizes. You can find similar ones in German-speaking Switzerland, but likely without the icing. In my opinion, they taste best with a strong cup of coffee.


Hazelnut tart from Interlaken with Rivella, a popular Swiss soda that contains whey


Gâteau aux noisettes and other baked goods from La-Chaux-de-Fonds

In the canton of Neuchâtel, according to Patrimoine Culinaire Suisse, the gâteau aux noisettes was originally developed in Colombier at Confiserie Zurcher. The bakers started using hazelnuts in the tarts instead of almonds, when they became too expensive during World War I. Yesterday, I finally made it to Zurcher with my 2-year old. We picked up a petite gâteau aux noisettes—the last one in the case.


Home of Gâteau aux noisettes: Confiserie Zurcher, Colombier


Gâteau aux noisettes from Confiserie Zurcher

When we got back home, I had the Zurcher gâteau for my second breakfast, while my 2-year old had the allergy-friendly version I made the day before. While shortcrust pastry is more traditional, and what Zurcher uses for their version, my homemade tart used allergy-friendly, pre-made puff pastry. Puff pastry is an acceptable alternative, and one used by the bakery in La-Chaux-de-Fonds. Plus, it’s nice taking a shortcut once in a while with store-bought pastry dough!

Gâteau aux Noisettes

Recipe adapted from the vegan blog, Loetitia Cuisine—another one of my favorites from Switzerland.


Makes 1 tart in a 9-inch American-style pie pan or 4 smaller 4-inch tarts.

Prepared pâte feuilletée (i.e., puff pastry to fit the specs listed above)
Dairy-free margarine, for greasing the pan/s or line the pans with parchment paper

100 grams ground hazelnuts
100 ml rice milk
25 grams brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons corn starch
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar (optional)

1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 teaspoons water

1. Lightly grease the pan with dairy-free margarine and lay the puff pastry into it. Press in the pastry dough, and cut away any excess dough. Please note: the pastry dough should only go about halfway up the sides of the pan.

2. Mix together the filling ingredients until well-blended. Pour and spread the filling evenly into the prepared dough in the pan. The filling should roughly be the same height as the edges of the dough.

3. Bake at 180°C/350°F for 30-40 minutes, until the crust has lightly browned and the bottom isn’t soggy.

4. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Whisk together icing ingredients and spread a thin layer on the tart while still a little warm.


My homemade hazelnut tart sans dairy and eggs

My husband just discovered this morning that he has a minor allergy to hazelnuts, among other things, which helps to explain why he’s not a huge fan of this tart! However, if you can tolerate hazelnuts or almonds, this is an easy and satisfying recipe. Bon week-end!

Gâteau au Verjus

Not quite vinegar and not quite wine, I’ve recently discovered verjus—a juice made from unripened grapes. Sour-flavored verjus has existed for centuries, and cooks added it to both sweet and savory dishes before they had access to lemons, for example. I tasted the “green juice” (vert means green, jus means juice) for the first time when some Swiss friends brought us a delicious homemade cake flavored with locally-made verjus.


Verjus is made in Auvernier, a little village near us that’s home to at least half a dozen winemakers. While Switzerland has several verjus producers, it’s not unique to this area. You can also find verjus made in other wine growing regions, such as in France and California.


I purchased my own bottle of verjus this week and made the same special cake—sans dairy. To save time, I purchased pre-made pastry dough from Coop—the kind I used for my Tarte aux Pruneaux back in the fall. It was incredibly easy, and I was happy to share an allergy-friendly version of this Swiss-style treat with my entire family.


Gâteau au Verjus

(dairy, egg and nut-free)

Adapted from the recipe provided on the bottle of organic verjus produced by Jean-Michel Henrioud, Auvernier.

Prepared pastry dough or pâte brisée (to fit a round pan about 11-12 inches or 30 cm across)
150 grams of sugar
75 grams of flour
100 grams dairy-free margarine
125 ml verjus

1. Line the bottom of the round pan with parchment paper. Lay the prepared dough evenly into the pan. Using a fork, prick the dough on the bottom of the pan several times.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and flour. Pour into the prepared pastry dough. Top the flour and sugar mixture with pieces of the dairy-free margarine.


3. Bake for 25 minutes in an oven preheated to 200ºC/400ºF. Then, remove from the oven and gently pour the verjus over the filling. Place back in the oven to bake for another 2-3 minutes until the filling sets and turns golden brown.




For tonight’s dinner, maybe I’ll try using verjus with pork tenderloin, paired with some new unfiltered white wine? Now if I could just find a babysitter… Bon week-end, everyone!

Savory Gâteau from Sugiez

In December, I visited the home of a regional Swiss cake: Gâteau du Vully. While I’ve made the sweet version before, this was my first time seeing the savory version, so I tried making one at home (recipe below).


When my in-laws were visiting us over Christmas, my husband and I got to steal away for a night in Murten sans les enfants. After strolling along the rampart walls at dusk, we found a restaurant later that evening and tried flammkuchen with melted Gruyère cheese. For dessert, we had meringues covered in Gruyère double cream and served with ice cream. Only if we had been drinking milk along with our meal, could we have had more dairy!


A view of Murten’s Old Town at dusk

The next morning, we ventured to the town of Sugiez. A friend had recommended this small village as the home of Gâteau du Vully, so we had to check it out. We quickly found the award-winning Boulangerie-Pâtisserie Guillaume, which was filled with this delicious, yet simple Swiss cake.


The home of Gâteau du Vully: Sugiez

The sweet version of Gâteau du Vully has cream and sugar. The savory version has smoked lardons and cumin seeds. Both contain dairy and eggs.


Gâteaux du Vully: sucré and salé

After we bought some Gâteau du Vully in Sugiez, we drove to the top of its namesake mountain: Mont Vully (653 m). It was a beautiful winter day, despite the absence of snow. We ate the cake as we walked around the summit and enjoyed the view.


Pastures below the summit of Mount Vully

Below is my version of a savory Gâteau du Vully, which took a few tries. While they were with us, my in-laws were unfortunately subjected to one made with coconut milk that didn’t quite turn out. My reinvented cake more closely resembles focaccia bread, as I’ve replaced the butter and egg with olive oil.


Savory Gâteau du Vully

(dairy, egg and nut-free)

2 teaspoons yeast
2/3 cup + 1 tablespoon soy or rice milk, very warm
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil
lardons fumés or chopped bacon
cumin seeds

1. Mix the yeast and rice or soy milk together in a large bowl. Let set for a few minutes until the yeast has dissolved.

2. Stir in the olive oil, flour, and salt. Form into dough. Knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.

3. Roll out the dough into a circle about 9-10 inches across (22-25 centimeters). Place on a baking tin or sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 1 hour.

4. When the dough has risen, make deep dents with your fingertips in the dough. Pour the olive oil carefully and evenly over the cake, taking care not to spill it over the sides. Then, sprinkle the cake evenly with the lardons and cumin seeds.

2014-01-19 13.15.25

4. Bake in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes at 220°C/425°F until golden brown. It’s best eaten the day it’s made, especially when it’s still a little warm.

2014-01-19 13.40.43


A friendly reminder… Don’t forget to check the expiration dates for your epinephrine auto-injectors, if you carry them. We’ll be getting new ones for my son this week.

Autumn Quince: Cake and Candy

I’m happy to share my latest discovery—a wonderful recipe for light and lemony quince cake. Quince (“coing” in French) is an incredibly hard fruit, but with a little extra effort, you can enjoy its delicious flavor.

After I used them in cake, I boiled down the remaining two quince to make a small batch of “pâte de coings.” These irresistible sugar-coated candies are traditionally made at Christmastime in Switzerland. I caught my 2-year old trying to crawl across the table to reach them today. He definitely has my sweet tooth!


I tried cooking with quince for the first time last year when I made a dairy/egg-free tarte tatin. It tasted good, but wasn’t overwhelmingly delicious. My presentation also clearly needed some work.

Thankfully, this new recipe doesn’t call for an intricate pattern of carefully arranged quince. The cake also has a high-enough baking temperature for the eggs, which means my son can safely eat it.



Quince Cake: Gâteau aux Coings

Dairy-free, with baked eggs. Recipe adapted from Femina.ch.

250 grams all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
200 grams sugar
Zest from one lemon
1/8 teaspoon salt
250 ml rice milk
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites, beaten until stiff
2 – 2 1/4 cups quince (about 2 quinces), sliced and precooked*
1 tablespoon powdered sugar (I used “Sucre brut en poudre” or raw powdered sugar)

*To make this recipe, you must precook the quince. Place thinly sliced quince in enough water to cover them. Add about 1/4 cup sugar and stir. Bring the water to a boil and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the quince has softened. Drain the water from the quince, and they’re ready to use.

Whisk together a smooth paste with the flour, baking powder, sugar, lemon zest, salt, rice milk and egg yolks.

Beat the eggs whites in a separate bowl until they form soft peaks. Then gently fold them into the flour mixture.

Pour the batter into a greased, springform pan that’s approximately 9 inches/22-23 cm wide. Gently place the sliced ​​quince evenly on top of the cake batter. Bake at 200°C/400°F for 30 minutes.

Let cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.



Quince Candy: Pâte de Coings

This afternoon, I finished up my little quince candies (“Pâte de Coings” in French, “Quittenpästli” in German). Apparently this treat has been around Switzerland for centuries. I added a spare apple to mine, but next time I’ll only use quince. We see fruit pectin candies like this at our Swiss confiseries and markets, but they can sometimes carry a warning about potential traces of nuts. While Pâte de Coings takes time to make, it can certainly be worth the effort.


Bundt Day 2013 is this Friday! I’ll be posting some new dairy/egg/nut-free recipes to celebrate the holiday. What are your Bundt Day plans?

Independence Day and Summer Vacation

Yesterday was the Fourth of July here in Switzerland. No fireworks, no grilling and no patriotic desserts. I had considered baking a flag-themed cake—like the gorgeous one below my friend made in Massachusetts—but didn’t have the patience to do it.

patriotic cake

Instead, I talked with my 5-year old about the Fourth of July. We also checked out a podcast and some videos from Colonial Williamsburg, which another friend had recommended. Per usual, I made a cake for the holiday, but it was a dairy and egg-free hazelnut tart that still needs perfecting.

Summer vacation officially starts today, as it’s my 5-year old’s last day of school. At the schools here, it seems traditional to hold a serious fête for the last day with costumes, parades and dancing, etc. We’ll be attending our son’s “cortége” or parade this afternoon, which winds its way through downtown. I’m washing up his blue Superman shirt now, so he can wear it with his dragon costume.

After today’s school festivities, I’ll be heading to Montreux for the first night of the jazz festival, and then off to Interlaken in the early AM. As always, I hope to discover some new Swiss culinary treats. Bon week-end, everyone!