Today we are making vegan gingerbread hearts with jam filling. If you so desire, you can also make them vegan, you only need to swap out the butter for vegan butter as the dough naturally does not contain any eggs. You may find this gingerbread surprising as it contains jam and chocolate. I can assure you, this is a very German recipe. In fact, every year these gingerbread hearts are sold as of October. I always thought it was impossible to make them at home. But one time when I was eating a store-bought heart, I thought, let’s see how they are actually made and consulted the Internet. To my surprise they are much easier to make than originally thought. You make gingerbread dough (check), you cut out hearts with a cookie cutter, then you place a bit of jam on one heart and seal it with another heart on top. You bake them and dunk them in chocolate. That’s it!
Today I am introducing the small cheese puffs called pão de queijo from Brazil. Cheese puffs are extremely popular in Latin America, every country has its version and style. Almost all have in common that they are not prepared with wheat flour, but instead tapioca (also known as cassava or manioc) starch is used. On top, it is the starch and not the flour what you are looking for. Naturally, they are all gluten-free. I already introduced the ones from Colombia called pandebonos and also the Paraguayan ones called chipa.
Shame on me, somehow I never manage to take care of a proper Advent wreath on time. When I finally decide to buy one, they are always sold out or only very sad ones are left. I am talking about the traditional ones with candles and fir branches. But not this time. This time we will have an advent wreath made from gingerbread. I love making things from gingerbread. Years ago, when I was a poor university student, I started this tradition of making everything from gingerbread as I didn’t have money to buy any expensive Christmad decoration. I decorated the Christmas tree with gingerbread, the nativity was made from it, I even hung some igingerbread n the windows. It is definitely something I hold dear. So this year I decided to make the advent wreath from gingerbread as well.
For the beginning of the Oktoberfest I decided to introduce gingerbread hearts, they are a staple during this time, decorated with royal icing, often in blue and white for the Bavarian colors and showing the edelweiss flower common in the mountains. These gingerbread hearts, however, don’t necessarily need to be served for the Oktoberfest only, you can also give them as a gift for a special occasion such as a wedding, baptism, or as another sweet giveaway. Essentially, I went for my beloved recipe for gingerbread, which has been on my blog for a while. You can very easily make a vegan version of this recipe as it does not contain eggs. Please see details in the recipe below.
I asked several experts who have eaten hearts from the Oktoberfest and they did tell me that yes, you usually make it with the traditional gingerbread spices. You don’t necessarily have to, but it is pretty common. So folks, if you are in for some decorating, for having fun, this recipe is for you!
Warning, these classic empanadas from Colombia are a labor of love. If you are going to make everything from scratch like I did, you will need a few hours. However, one of the good things about empanadas is that you can prepare a lot in advance. You may wish to make the filling and/or the dough one to two days prior and then “only” need to fill and fry the empanadas the following day. But before we get into the details, what are empanadas exactly? Empanadas are dumplings, each Latin American country has its own variation, heck, every region and city will be proud of their particular empanadas. Since I was born in Uruguay, I am used to empanadas made with wheat flour. The traditional filling in Uruguay is beef (duh) and they are usually baked in the oven. Yes, of course I have a recipe for Uruguayan empanadas on my blog. Colombian empanadas on the other hand are made with cornmeal, if using the right one, they will be gluten-free. Most of the time they are not baked in the oven, but deep-fried. The filling varies, some use a piece of meat that is later pulled apart, I simply decided to use already minced meat. One particularity of Colombia is the “guiso” or “hogao”, this is a thick sauce made of tomatoes, spring onions, onions and herbs that are typically mixed with the meat filling. This makes them Colombian.
Updated recipe in 2022 with clearer instructions and more options
I love meringue. I got to love meringue at a very late stage. Maybe because I feel meringue doesn’t play a very important role in the baking industry. But even though it was late love, merengón from Colombia is the best. It consists of three layers, meringue, whipped cream and a layer of fruit sauce. Easy to prepare, wonderful to look at and once you take the first bite, you will be in heaven, melts in your mouth and has a nice tangy aftertaste due to the fruits. Really a fairy dream!
I am happy to say that through the movie “Encanto” finally people are learning about Colombian arepa con queso, a gluten-free flatbread made from corn and filled with lots of cheese. So today I am going to present my version of this Colombian staple to you. Arepas are a popular dish in Colombia, you will find many different versions, thick, thin, crispy, with fillings (such as cheese or egg) and at any time of the year. It can be served for breakfast, as a snack, as a side, or even as the main dish. I already introduced the basic recipe for arepas previously. Filled arepas are more common in Venezuela, I also have a recipe on my blog of filled arepas with chicken and guacamole. But today I am presenting arepas with cheese, because Colombians love anything with cheese. I may be mistaken, but arepas with cheese are probably the most popular kind of arepa and will usually be received with excitement.
Pavlova, a meringue nest with whipped cream and mango filling, who wants a piece? I am going to introduce this recipe from Australia/New Zealand to you. Reason for this being my hubby, who requested pavlova for our 12-year anniversary. There is a similar recipe in Colombia, called merengón with berries, whipped cream and meringue. No wonder that he wanted something similar. Pavlova is, compared to meringue, slightly different. You do have a crunchy outside, yet since you fold in a bit of cornstarch and vingear, the inside remains creamy (see picture below) which is similar to marshmallows. Does this sound like something you are into? Then you should give pavlova a try.
Guys, it is a shame I haven’t posted any cookie recipe in a while! This needs to be rectified immediately. Especially since I am a huge cookie monster. Below pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are my favorite cookie recipe when in comes to a vegan version. I am telling you, they are super easy to prepare and will be gobbled up in a jiffy. I at least have made them many times over. Maybe you are also interested in trying them?
Update: I rewrote the recipe a bit in 2021 and took fresh pictures
It’s summer! Officially! So I need something fast, something refreshing and also something healthy. That’s why I invented this frozen strawberry cake, which can be done in less than 15 minutes. It is pleasing to the eye and everybody will love it, I promise. It may be one of your new go-to recipes. I at least have it stored as a new favorite. I honestly was surprised. I usually don’t invent cakes. I like to change recipes to me liking, I like to alter them. But start one from scratch? I don’t know what happened, but for some reason I just felt like throwing some strawberries together and hope for the best. I usually don’t mind following a recipe, but this time it was just an impluse reaction, why not mix strawberries with some crunchy almonds? I took quite a risk there, because this cake was a birthday cake for a friend of mine. And since he likes strawberries and since it is summer, I came up with this beauty.