Recipe: Swiss Rice Tart for Easter

Discover a dairy-free version of a typically Swiss tart made for Easter with rice, vanilla, lemon zest and a thin layer of apricot jam.

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For our first Easter in Switzerland, I attempted a few dairy-free and egg-free Gâteau de Pâques. My experiments always looked bad, and the texture was never right. Honestly, I think some of it ended up in the trash. (Please note: For those of you still avoiding eggs AND dairy, I found an Easter tart recipe from aha! Centre d’Allergie Suisse).

According to Patrimoine Culinaire Suisse, the first tarts in Switzerland resembling today’s Gâteau de Pâques (in French) or Osterfladen (in German) may have started as early as the 16th century, and several sources pinpoint Basel as the birthplace. These tarts typically contain either rice or semolina. At our local Suisse Romande bakery, the Gâteau de Pâques has semolina and a thin layer of apricot jam. One of the bakers I spoke with there said he preferred using semolina over rice because it makes a lighter cake.

I tend to prefer the semolina-based tarts, but for this year’s Gâteau de Pâques (which I can now make with eggs), I really wanted to tackle a rice-based tart—especially since my past attempts were so unsuccessful. My dairy-free recipe uses the apricot jam layer instead of the more traditional raisins (the thought of moist raisins mixed with sweet rice just isn’t appealing to me). Both of my sons loved this tart, so I’m finally ready to share my recipe below.


Gâteau de Pâques

Recipe adapted from cuisine de saison.
(dairy-free, nut-free)

Tools:
Tart pan, 24 cm (9-10 inches) diameter

Ingredients:
500 ml soy milk
60 grams sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
120 grams rice (e.g., Camolino rice or risotto)
30 grams dairy-free margarine, melted
2 eggs, separated
about 320 grams prepared allergy-friendly pâte brisée (i.e., shortcrust pastry or pie crust)
100 grams apricot jam
powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions:

1. Stir together the soy milk, sugar and vanilla paste in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and then add the lemon zest. Stir in the rice. Simmer for about 25-30 minutes until the rice becomes tender. Set aside to cool.

2. Add parchment paper to a greased tart pan (using dairy-free margarine), and then place in the prepared pâte brisée. Trim the sides, if necessary. Prick the bottom with a fork in several places. Spread the apricot jam evenly on the prepared crust.

3. Melt the margarine, and stir it into the cooled rice mixture. Separately, beat together the two egg yolks, and then stir them in as well, until well-combined.

4. Separately, beat together the 2 egg whites with an electric mixture (it will take forever to do this by hand) until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold them into the rice mixture. Take the rice mixture and spread it evenly over the apricot jam in the prepared crust.

5. Bake the tart for 40-45 minutes at 180°C/350°F until it’s set (it doesn’t wobble when you take it out) and lightly browned.

6. Once the tart has cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar (I made a quick bunny stencil with a sheet of paper, which I held down against the cake with some dried beans).

School vacation starts tomorrow, so I’ll be offline for the next two weeks. Happy Easter! Joyeuses Pâques! Fröhliche Ostern! Buona Pasqua!

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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! 

Recipe: Swiss-French Red Cabbage Salad with Apples and Raisins

It’s that time of year again, when I try to serve more vegetables to my family after weeks and months of feasting on baked goods—and I’m usually the worst offender!

My latest plan involves trying to work vegetables into all three meals, and ideally in at least two dishes. For breakfast, that means scrambled eggs with spinach. At lunch or dinner, we’ll have a salad and steamed green beans with lemon, for example. With more and newer options, I’m hoping my kids’ interest increases so they actually like eating vegetables, instead of viewing them as a necessary evil.

After a recent Sunday walk, I tried out a new a new red cabbage salad recipe from a local Swiss-French cookbook. I served it as part of leisurely brunch during our last day of the holiday break. My husband, who usually HATES mayonnaise, liked this salad. Unprompted, my 7-year old said it tasted good after his first bite. My 3-year old gave it a thumbs up, but I think he really only liked (and ate) the raisins, to be perfectly honest. We’ll keep this cabbage salad in our mealtime rotation, and I’ll have to try another one I saw recently from Migros’ Saison.ch made with orange juice (here’s yet another salad recipe with cabbage, orange and fennel that also looks good).

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Sunday walk on Mount Vully


Salade de Chou Rouge (Red Cabbage Salad)

Recipe adapted from Recettes du terroir neuchâtelois by Francis Grandjean (2002).

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free)

Serves 6-8

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Salad:
500 grams red cabbage (about 1 cabbage)
1-2 apples, diced
about 1/2 cup raisins (I like golden raisins)
Optional: finely chopped chives and lettuce leaves

Sauce:
100 ml vegan mayonnaise (use really mayo if you can!)
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons shallots, finely chopped
2 teaspoons mustard
salt, to taste (I used about 1/2 teaspoon)

Instructions:

1. Slice the cabbage into thin strips and place in a large bowl.

2. Prepare the sauce by whisking together all the ingredients until smooth. Pour the sauce over the cabbage and toss until well-incorporated.

3.Stir in the raisins and diced apple(s). Best served the same day. Top with chopped chives and serve with fresh lettuce leaves, if desired.

For 2015, we have lots to look forward to in terms of managing my son’s milk allergy, like a food challenge next week and starting school in August. I hope you do too! Happy New Year, and Bonne Année, everyone!

Recipe: Magenbrot – Chocolate Gingerbread

‘Tis the season for Christmas markets in Switzerland, and I hope to visit one soon! To date, I’ve strolled through these festive markets in Montreux, Neuchâtel and Zurich. With a steaming mug of vin chaud in my hands, I have to always stop and admire all the sweet Swiss treats. I still have many to try, but one of my favorites is Magenbrot—small cocoa gingerbreads coated with dark chocolate icing.

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Zurich Christmas Market, December 2013

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Onion Market in Bern, November 2013

Magenbrot means “stomach bread” in German. According to Patrimoine Culinaire Suisse, the name developed because the spices and sugar contained in the bread were supposed to aid digestion. Instead of wheat flour, recipes for Magenbrot call for rye flour, which gives the gingerbread a little more texture. You can typically find these at fall festivals in Switzerland, like the Bern Onion Market, and at Christmas markets. Bakeries that make Magenbrot traditionally sell them wrapped in pink paper.


Magenbrot

(dairy-free, egg-free and nut-free)

Recipe adapted from Betty Bossi.

Dry ingredients:
300 grams rye flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:
125 grams sugar
150 ml rice milk
1 tablespoon kirsch

1. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl until well-blended.

2. In a separate container, whisk together the wet ingredients and then pour into the large bowl with the flour mixture. Stir until a dough forms.

3. Turn the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roll with a floured rolling pin until you have a rectangle, about 2 cm thick. Cut the rectangle into about 5 strips of dough with a sharp knife. Please note: The dough will be a bit sticky, so use a little extra flour to help shape it.

Magenbrot dough

4. Bake at 180°C/350°F for about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly on a wire rack. When still warm, cut into pieces, approximately 2 x 4 cm. Let the pieces continue to cool while you prepare the glaze.


Magenbrot Glaze

100 grams allergy-friendly dark chocolate
20 grams dairy-free margarine
100 ml water
250 grams powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
a pinch of nutmeg
a pinch of salt

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix the first three ingredients together, just until the chocolate is melted and well-blended. Remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining ingredients.

2. Put the cooled Magenbrot in a large bowl and pour the warm glaze over them. Toss them gently in the glaze until well-coated.

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3. Place the Magenbrot on a wire rack to cool and for the glaze to harden. Store in an airtight container.

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I just froze some homemade Magenbrot so my son can have an allergy-friendly treat during our next visit to a Swiss Christmas market. They’re easy to make and highly addictive!

Recipe: Petits Pains for Swiss National Day

Petits Pains

Every year on August 1, Switzerland celebrates Swiss National Day. Here in Suisse romande, we know this holiday as Fête nationale or 1er août. Given the Swiss affinity for bread, it’s not surprising that there’s a special bun prepared for the holiday. Known as August-weggen (German), Pain du 1er août (French) or Panino del 1° agosto (Italian), the small and large versions are cut and baked to look like there’s a Swiss cross on top. They’re typically decorated with a small paper version of the red and white Swiss flag.

This year marks our first time celebrating Fête Nationale in Switzerland. Our first year here, we arrived one day after the celebration on Saturday, August 2, 2012. Now I understand why everything was so quiet the morning we drove from the airport in Zurich to our new home! The Swiss were sleeping in after a day of local celebrations and feasting—traditionally an outdoor brunch at a local farm—and watching fireworks late into the evening.

Instead of heading to a farm for a local brunch on Friday—which would undoubtedly have tables heaped with delicious Swiss cheeses and other milk and egg-filled dishes—we’re choosing to have our own picnic and bonfire at a local park. We’ll be roasting cervalas, often referred to as the Swiss national sausage, as well as marshmallows, to give our celebration an American twist. I’ll also be serving my own version of Petits Pains du 1er août, but mine will be made without dairy.


Rütli Meadow: The Birthplace of Switzerland

To give you some background, Swiss National Day commemorates the founding of Switzerland in 1291. The story goes that the leaders of three cantons—Schwyz, Unterwalden and Uri—came together at the Rütli Meadow to form a strategic alliance. The pact made by these three original cantons ultimately led to the formation of Switzerland and the 26 cantons we know today (there’s a great video from Swissinfo.ch with some beautiful images of Rütli and more detailed info about its history).

We visited the Rütli Meadow earlier this month when we stayed a few nights in Brunnen (as an aside, we had a pleasant stay at the Hotel Schmid & Alfa, which has a few apartments with kitchens, so we could make our own meals). From Brunnen, we took a 10-minute ferry ride across Lake Lucerne to Rütli. During our visit to this historic site with incredible views, only a few other families crossed our path. We had a peaceful time exploring the pristine meadow, seeing happy Swiss cows and having a snack at the picnic area (that’s shown in the video above). If you’re in the vicinity, it’s certainly worth a stop.

Rutli Meadow

The view from Rütli Meadow

Swiss National Day started in 1891, but it became a federal holiday over a century later in 1994. Also, the Swiss didn’t start making Pain du 1er août until 1959, when it was invented by the Swiss national association for bakers and confectioners. The small version of the buns are very similar to Petits Pains au Lait, except they have a patriotic shape cut into the top.

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Pain du 1er août in a Suisse romande bakery window

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Pain du 1er août (even a chocolate version) at the supermarket


Petits Pains for Swiss National Day

Recipe adapted from one of my favorite Suisse romande bloggers, Delimoon

(dairy/nut-free, can be made without egg)

Makes 8 rolls

500 grams all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
300 ml soy or rice milk,
very warm
7 grams (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast

60 grams dairy-free margarine, softened
1 egg,
beaten (or 1-2 tablespoons dairy-free margarine, melted and cooled)

1. Whisk together the first three ingredients in a large bowl. Add the softened margarine. Set aside.

2. Add yeast to the warmed soy or rice milk, along with a pinch of sugar. Gently stir and let sit for a few minutes until the yeast has dissolved and the mixture begins to foam slightly.

3. Pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl with the flour mixture and margarine. Stir until a dough forms. Knead the dough for 10 minutes, stopping when it becomes smooth and elastic.

4. Let the dough rise for about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Punch down the dough and cut into 8 equal pieces. Shape the pieces into round buns and set on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover the buns with plastic wrap and let them rise for another 30 minutes.

5. With a pastry brush, gently brush on the egg wash (or melted margarine). Then, using kitchen shears or a very sharp knife, make cuts into the dough that resemble the cross on the Swiss flag.

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6. Bake the buns for 20-30 minutes at 200°C/400°F. Remove and tap the bottoms. If they sound hollow, then they’re done. Place on a wire rack to cool.

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Happy Swiss National Day! We’re looking forward to a 3-day weekend. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Bon week-end, all!

Recipe: Lemon “Ricotta” Pancakes

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My oldest son—who doesn’t have food allergies, had previously stopped eating the vegan pancakes I made for his brother. He claimed to no longer like ANY pancakes. Thankfully, he’s changed his mind in the last few weeks. With a new ingredient, I’ve developed a recipe that both my sons really like: Lemon “Ricotta” Pancakes sans dairy, eggs and nuts.


MozzaRisella Vegan Cheese

While I don’t usually share recipes that call for specific brands of food products, I make an exception when I find something really great, especially if it could be helpful to others living with food allergies. My latest discovery here in Switzerland is MozzaRisella—a vegan cheese made from germinated brown rice. I’ve seen it in our small Swiss city at several bio (organic) shops, and I know you can also find it in the UK.

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We started buying MozzaRisella to make dairy-free pizza for our son. Compared to the frozen pizza with fake cheese we tried last summer in the US, the homemade pizza with MozzaRisella is so much better. This product even tastes good uncooked and straight from the package. My boys and I were sampling pieces last night when I was making pizza again, and my 3-year old with food allergies kept asking for more.

In addition to pizza, we also tried using MozzaRisella for nachos. I would have never considered this before, but we recently had nachos with mozzarella at our local Swiss-Mexican restaurant. We hadn’t made nachos for years, but during the World Cup, we ate dairy-free nachos with black beans and corn and topped with cilantro and thinly sliced radishes. Not as good as ones made with real cheese, but still an excellent alternative.

The Italian company that makes MozzaRisella also makes CreamyRisella, but I didn’t start buying this other product right away. Then, The Kitchn posted their easy recipe for Fluffy Ricotta Pancakes, and I wondered about using the CreamyRisella as a substitute for the ricotta. It worked from the start, and with a few other modifications, I now have a pancake that even my oldest son will eat. On Sunday, I served them for brunch with fresh raspberries and a side of bacon.


Lemon “Ricotta” Pancakes

Serves 3-4 people

(dairy/egg/nut-free)

zest of 2 lemons
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice mixed with 1 tablespoon flax meal
1 package of CreamyRisella (200 grams)
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup soy or rice milk (I’ve been using Alnatura’s Soja Drink-Vanille from Migros)

1. In a large bowl, stir together the zest of the 2 lemons and the lemon juice with the flax meal and set aside for a few minutes.

2. Then, add the next five ingredients to the flax meal mixture and whisk together until smooth: CreamyRisella, oil, sugar, cider vinegar and vanilla sugar.

3. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Next, gently whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in about 2 batches, alternating with the soy or rice milk. Do not overbeat.

4. Using a measuring cup, pour pancake batter on a medium-high heated skillet. Flip the pancake once air bubbles throughout the pancake begin to burst. Cook about 1-3 minutes on each side, until light golden brown, and serve warm.

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Full disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, nor did I receive any compensation. The opinions expressed on this blog are solely my own.

What’s your favorite vegan cheese? Have you tried MozzaRisella? I’m curious to hear about other vegan cheeses in Switzerland and beyond. Please leave a comment below or send me an email. Thanks!

Recipe: Salade Estivale for Summertime

The signs of summer are apparent here in Switzerland. Outdoor music festival season started locally with Festi’neuch. Swiss summer trail racing is also underway, and I’ll be attempting my first one next weekend. Most importantly, my son’s summer vacation from school starts in one week. And in terms of food, I’ve noticed restaurants around town are advertising their summertime salads or salades estivales.

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My research indicates there’s no set rule for making a Swiss salade estivale, other than it should contain some sort of fresh summertime vegetables. Since I’m always trying to get my boys to eat more vegetables, we’ll be making lots of salads again during our summer vacation. The first Swiss salad recipe I’ve been making this summer is appropriately named Salade estivale, which I came across a while back in one of my Suisse romande cookbooks.

With seven vegetables to choose from in this salad, my boys tend to pick out the ones they like and leave the rest, but I still try to see it as progress. I was reminded this week by registered dietician Julia Marriott of Alimentary Bites that when it comes to serving vegetables to picky eaters, “perseverance and patience” are the only way. As with many salad recipes, the directions below serve as a guide, so feel free to swap in your favorite vegetables or mess with the quantities a bit, depending on the preferences in your household.


Salade Estivale

Adapted from Les recettes de Grand-Mère, Tome 4. Published in 2010 by the Association Alzheimer Suisse, Yverdon-les-Bains.

(dairy/egg/nut-free)

Salad:
1 cup kohlrabi, peeled and diced
1 cup carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup potatoes or sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1 cup green beans, chopped
1 cup red pepper, diced
1 cup peas, frozen

Dressing:
4 tablespoons colza/canola/rapeseed oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chives, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tarragon, finely chopped
1 tablespoon soy yogurt
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Make the dressing. Put all the ingredients in a sealed jar and shake vigorously. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

2. Cook the vegetables. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and cook kohlrabi, carrots and potatoes together until fork tender, about 5-10 minutes. While these vegetables are cooking, use a steamer basket to steam the corn, green beans, red pepper and peas, just until tender. Do not overcook.

3. Put all the warmed vegetables in a large bowl and toss gently with the desired amount of dressing. Sprinkle with some fresh herbs and serve immediately, while still warm.

Salade Estival Sign

 I’m always grateful for the good advice and support of other food allergy parents. Many thanks to you all, and bon week-end!

Recipe: Handmade Brioche à Tête

Brioche à Tête

I recently purchased a pan for making mini-Brioche à Tête. Traditionally made with lots of dairy and eggs, these little French pastries have fluted edges and a little dough ball baked on top (a.k.a. the tête or head). It’s been over a year now since my son’s successful food challenge for baked egg, so I decided it was time to finally tackle making a dairy-free version of Brioche à Tête at home. While not a typically Swiss recipe, you can easily find these at bakeries all over Suisse romande.

Store window Brioche à Tête

Brioche à tête may seem like a challenging pastry to make at home, but I’ve tailored a recipe to meet our family’s needs—including an option for overnight preparation. We’ve been eating them all week for breakfast, served warm and slathered with apricot, ginger or raspberry jam. I wish we could use real butter instead of margarine, but I hope my version comes close to the real thing—just with more streamlined instructions and without the dairy. Please note: As you may know, I don’t use an electronic mixer. All the ingredients are mixed by hand.


Dairy-Free
Brioche à Tête

Recipe adapted from Saveur, Issue #109.

(Dairy/nut-free with baked egg)

Makes 6 rolls.

Dough:
2 1/2 tablespoons warmed rice milk
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dairy-free margarine

Egg wash:

1 egg, beaten

1. Add a pinch of the sugar and all the yeast to the warmed rice milk. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. During this time, whisk together the remaining sugar, flour and salt in a separate bowl.

2. Whisk the yeast mixture into a large bowl with the 2 eggs. Then, add the flour mixture and dairy-free margarine. Stir together to form a dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. Please note: The dough will be soft, but do not add any extra flour. Let the dough rise, covered in a bowl, for approximately 2 hours. (After this first rise, you could put the dough into the fridge and pick up with the next step in the morning, so you can serve warm brioche for breakfast).

3. Punch down the dough and divide into 6 equal pieces. Form the brioches into the desired shape, and I recommend using Saveur’s photos as a guide. Place in a pan greased with dairy-free margarine and let rise for another hour.

First rise, Brioche à Tête

4. After the second rise has finished, use a pastry brush to apply a light coating of the egg wash to the tops of the brioche. Please note: Rising may lesson the indentation for the têtes. You may need to do a little re-shaping, to make sure they retain their têtes while in the oven.

Second rise, Brioche à Tête

5. Heat oven to 190°C/375°F. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until deep golden brown. Let stand in the molds for about 10 minutes and then remove from the pan onto a cooling rack. Best served warm.

Baked Brioche à Tête

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If you try making Brioche à Tête, please let me know how they turn out. I love being able to make these at home for my family, since the dairy-filled versions at the bakeries just aren’t safe for my son right now. Bon week-end, everyone!

Recipe: Mocha-Cardamom Snack Cake

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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).

(dairy/egg/nut-free)

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.

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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.

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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!

Swiss-Italian Dove Cake for Easter

When I visited our local Swiss-Italian market a few weeks ago, I saw some beautifully wrapped packages on display in the front window. The brightly colored paper and ribbons caught my eye. After a closer look, I realized the packages were another sign of spring: the famous Swiss-Italian cake for Easter, Colomba Pasquale.

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Colorful packages of Colombe de Pâques in Suisse romande

Also known as Colombe de Pâques in French, the cake has a distinctive shape, as it’s supposed to resemble a dove with outstretched wings. On top, it often has a generous coating of powdered or coarse-grained sugar, along with a few almonds. Inside, you’ll traditionally find candied orange peel, but I’ve also seen versions in our Suisse romande grocery stores with chocolate.

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Chocolate Colomba at the grocery store


Colomba Pasquale in Lugano

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit the city of Lugano in Ticino—Switzerland’s Italian-speaking canton. Wandering through the streets of downtown, I came across another festive display of Colomba Pasquale in the windows of the historic Ristorante Grand Café Al Porto.

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Colomba Pasquale at Lugano’s Ristorante Grand Café Al Porto

While some say the cake originated centuries ago, others place its birth in Milan at the beginning of the 20th century. Either way, today’s Colomba is popular throughout Switzerland, but especially in Ticino. Apparently, the Swiss commonly eat Colomba after lunch on Easter day, accompanied by chocolate eggs and sparking wine.

After my morning run on Sunday, I quickly spotted another bakery in downtown Lugano. I picked up a mini-Colomba and some other goodies, found a quiet spot along Lake Lugano and enjoyed a peaceful breakfast with an amazing view.

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My breakfast spot along Lake Lugano

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A mini-Colomba from Lugano sans candied orange peel

Colomba Pasquale

Adapted from swissmilk’s recipe for Colombe de Pâques.

2 pieces
(dairy/nut-free)

Dough:

Phase I
250 grams all-purpose flour
60 grams sugar
100 ml very warm water
7 grams of dry active yeast

Phase II
250 grams all-purpose flour (and extra flour for kneading)
scant 200 ml canola or vegetable oil
100 ml rice milk
3 egg yolks
lemon zest from 1-2 lemons (2 lemons, if they’re small)
1 1/2 tablespoons orange flower water
1/2 teaspoon salt
Optional: 100 grams candied orange peel, finely chopped

Topping:
1 egg white, lightly beaten
coarse-grain sugar and/or powdered sugar

1. In a large bowl, whisk together 250 grams of the flour and all the sugar. Set aside.

2. Add the yeast to the warm water. Gently stir together and let sit for a few minutes until the yeast has dissolved.

3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the yeast mixture. Then, stir the mixture vigorously until well combined.

4. Add the other 250 grams of flour and the remaining phase II dough ingredients and continue to stir together until a soft dough forms. The dough will be sticky, but work through it and add additional flour as necessary. Knead for about 5 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic, springing back when touched. Let the dough rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

5. After the dough has risen, punch down the dough to remove any air bubbles. Divide the dough into four equal parts.

6. Form two doves on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. First, make the “wings” of the dove by forming a C-like shape. Then, form the body of the dove and lay it on top of the wings. Let the shaped doves rise for about 20-30 minutes. Please note: It’s best if you have a paper mold, but it’s possible to do this recipe without it. For some step-by-step photos of the dove shaping, check out this recipe at cookaround.com.

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7. Brush the top of the doves with egg white. Then, sprinkle the top with some coarse-grained sugar, if you can find it, and then cover completely with a generous topping of powdered sugar.

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8. Bake at 180°C/350°F for about 40 minutes. The doves should be nicely browned on top and no longer soft on the bottom.

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During the next two weeks, I’m taking a blogging break due to the school vacation. As a reminder though, World Allergy Week is April 7-13, 2014. Throughout next week, I’ll be sharing info related to this event via Facebook and Twitter.

As always, thanks for your continued support. Bon week-end!