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8 posts from February 2008

Edible gifts 2: Coffee & peppermint truffles


After dinner the other night, Thorsten brought out his booty from a trip to Brussels, and I thought again about how much I appreciated truffles' creamy dense sweetness. Earlier that evening Dilek had spooned a generous amount of dried peppermint leaves -- booty from her mother's garden -- into an old jam jar for me to take home. On the S-Bahn back, the wheels began turning...

You'll remember how much I enjoy making edible gifts, and nothing during my browse through the market struck my fancy, so with two invitations on the horizon I thought truffles were the simplest solution. I had grand plans for a quartet of flavors -- a lavender-infused cream, a peppermint-studded finish, another cream steeped in masala chai, and cinnamon coffee -- but in the event all of a sudden it was almost nine on a Saturday night and I had to get my ganache on the go, so my plans were reduced to a duo.

I did it on the fly, flavoring half the batch with a few tablespoons of peppermint liqueur (booty from the l'herbier de Milly stand at Salon Saveurs), and the other with two tablespoons of instant (!) coffee dissolved in the cream. And on Sunday morning I spent a soothing hour forming my truffles, rolling the little globes into turbino sugar/peppermint leaves or cocoa powder/cinnamon, and then we were off!

I used 500 ml of cream (Schlagsahne), 500 grams of 60% dark chocolate (blitzed to rubble in the food processor), and a total of 100 grams of butter (50 grams per batch); for the technique, see Clothide and Green & Black's.

Note: Though the turbino sugar looked nice just after rolling, the truffles ended up sweating a bit, so I think I'll mix the peppermint leaves with cocoa powder for the next batch.

Cake redux


No sooner posted than (re)visited: Cake was on my mind after writing about it yesterday, so when we were leaving the market and David suggested Albrecht's, I proposed Cake instead. Don't you just want to dive into these creamy berry-studded layers?

Note that they also do cakes to take away, and birthday parties too. I haven't had a birthday party since I was tiny and am daydreaming of one for my 30th; Cake is definitely on the short list. Readers, any other ideas of places (cafés or otherwise) that would shine on a May afternoon?




After a quiet start about a year ago, Cake seems to have blossomed nicely, thanks in part, no doubt, to the patronage of a Zitty reporter who's mentioned the place in several issues now.

Snapping a shot of my cake (marizpan/chocolate/vanilla) I frowned a bit, realizing it wouldn't look particularly spectacular, but then, that's not really the point. In contrast to the frosting-as-decoration model followed by many bakeries I've visited in Berlin, the vanilla cream layers in my cake are as light as a dream, and as simple: vanilla, cream, a bit of sugar, nothing else, no butter and certainly no stabilizers to leave a chemical buzz on your tongue.

And so, though I was certain I wouldn't manage it, the slice disappeared with alarming ease.

Cake, Choriner Str. 14 (map)
Tel. 0176 2715 7525
Open Wednesdays to Sundays noon to 7 pm


Allet Gute kommt von oben


This graffito has made me smile on twilight walks for some six years; I am not a great one for dirges, but seeing the vacant lot now shorn and foundationed sent a shiver through me.

Beetroot and parsnip soup


Oh, the pleasures of root vegetables on a sunny day! Last January I cooked up a roasted beet root soup on what looks like the shortest day of the year; this February afternoon, the days having pivoted from brief to broad, David chopped up a radiant cutting-board full of beets and parsnips.

The soup is simplicity itself: In a soup pot, sautee a large onion in some olive oil till soft. While the onion is cooking, begin heating a liter (or 4 cups) of vegetable stock to a simmer in a separate pan.

To the onions, add four large beets and two medium-sized parsnips (both peeled and cubed), stir thoroughly, and let cook for ten minutes. By now your stock should be simmering; add it to the soup pot and let it all come to a second simmer. Taste a bit of beet and parsnip to make sure both are tender (if not, let the soup simmer until they are).

Now, turn off the heat. Remove two ladles of beet and parsnip chunks to a separate bowl. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Return the vegetable chunks to the pan. Stir in about a teaspoon of freshly-squeezed lemon juice to brighten the flavor; season with salt and pepper as desired. Serve topped with dollops of creme fraiche and a bit of dill if you have some to hand.

En passant (Kuglerstraße)


Sometimes it's odd how this place has become home.

Chinese dumplings (Wok Show)


After reading Yvonne's entry on Wok Show I found myself consumed by thoughts of those Chinese dumplings, until there was nothing for it but to trot up Greifenhagener Straße that very evening. The dumplings were exquisite, though at first I was daunted by the twenty crescents filled with pork, shrimp and vegetables. I faltered at twelve, then fifteen, and finally managed all but one, which I left perched at the edge of the platter like an offering to the gods. (Do try to get a half-portion if you're visiting alone; the standard platter of 40 would be impossible to manage.)

My visit was too spontaneous to manage a photo, but you can catch a peek here, or just go yourself, as soon as humanly possible.

Wok Show China Restaurant, Greifenhagener Str. 31 (map)
Tel. (030) 439 11857
Open daily noon - 11 pm (from 5 pm on Tuesdays)