In Sweden anything with saffron is considered Christnassy and festive, and that’s the reasoning for making this chewy saffron and white chocolate cake for the book club Christmas dinner.
It’s very yummy without being too sweet and although quite pretty it would have been even prettier with the intended icing. I was convinced I had icing sugar at home but there was none in the cupboard, so I served it plain and that worked well too. I had creme fraiche on the side (that was intended for the frosting) but lightly whipped cream works well too.
Saffron and white chocolate cake, serves 10
Translated from and adapted after Ica’s recipe.
150 g white chocolate
150 g butter
1/2 g saffran
160 g caster sugar
60 g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla
200 ml crème fraiche
50 ml icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
Preheat the oven to 175°C. Butter and flour a 24 diameter springform. Melt chocolate and butter in a Bain Marie or in the microwave. Add the saffron and leave to cool/dissolve a for a few minutes.
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowla and add to the melted chocolate. Add egg and vanilla and mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the springform and place in the middle of the oven. Bake for 23-25 minutes. Leave to cool.
Beat crème fraiche, icing sugar and vanilla until smooth and quite set and spread ut onto the cake. Add pomegranate seeds.
This saffron cheesecake would be considered christmassy in Sweden, where we use saffron mainly for the holiday season (apart from in fish soup), however in the rest of the world it would probably just be a nice cheesecake with saffron, which is why I’m posting it post-Christmas (well that, and the fact that I didn’t have time around Christmas).
Saffron cheesecake, serves 10
200 g digestive biscuits
100 g melted butter
400 g cream cheese
100 ml milk
115 ml caster sugar
1 tsp gelatin powder
1 1/2 tbsp saffron strands
Mix the digestives into crumbs in a food processor, add the butter and press onto the base of a Ø 20-25 cm springform and pre-bake for 10 minutes at 150 C.
Meanwhile mix the cream cheese with caster sugar in a bowl. Heat up the milk with the saffron and add the gelatine. Leave to cool a little and mix in with the cream cheese. Lastly, mix in an egg and pour the filling into the tin. Bake for 20 minutes in 150C oven. It should still be quivering in the middle but set otherwise.
I brought a bottle (of very cheap) fino sherry with me home from Mallorca, for cooking and I knew exactly what I wanted to use it for; mussels. I adore moules marinière but thought it would work well with more pungent sherry instead of wine too and for some reason I felt that saffron would work well together with the sherry.
Turns out I was right, and I really enjoyed this take on the classic moules marinière. When eating moules as often as I do, one needs variation.
As always when cooking mussels, do rinse them well and de-beard them before cooking. Also discard of any mussels that won’t close when tapping their shell before cooking. But no need to discard mussels that don’t open after cooking, they are still OK to eat.
Mussels with sherry, saffron and cream, serves 2 (small portions)
500 g mussels
a knob of salted butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
75 ml fino sherry
1/2 -1 tsp ground saffron
200 ml double cream
a small pinch of salt and ground white pepper
nice bread to soak up the sauce with
Rinse the mussels a few times in a colander to remove sand. De-beard the mussels and rinse again. Discard of any mussels that won’t close their shell when tapping on it. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onions and fry on medium heat for a minute or two without browning. Add the sherry and let the alcohol evaporate. Add cream and saffron and stir. Add some ground white pepper and the mussels. Cook under a lid for a few minutes until the mussels have opened. Stir and taste the sauce, add a little salt if needed. Serve immediately with some nice bread.
A few weekends ago, I went home to my beloved Skåne, to meet food bloggers and see my parents. The Sunday was the 40th (!) wedding anniversary of my parents and we celebrated it quite low-key with good food and wine at home.
To start we had fried scallops in saffron sauce. Mother had found these big and juicy scallops which we fried rapidly on very high heat to caramelize. The sauce is almost a soup and absolutely wonderful. Some raw chopped shallots gives texture and some heat.
As a maincourse we had a really nice fillet steak, cooked in three different ways to accomodate everyone. Served with baked potato rounds, a mushroom sauce with cognac and dijon mustard and steamed vegetables.
In apple season, tarte tatin is wonderful. I have tried quite a few diffrent versions, but the best one I have come across is this recipe courtesy of brilliant Rick Stein. It suggests cognac but this time we used armagnac which worked just as well. (Even better, according to mother).
For us Swedes saffron is synonym with Christmas and advent. Probably because we use it in the saffron buns that are compulsory on the 13th December when we celebrate S:t Lucia.
At this time of year we put saffron into anything we can think of to get into the Christmas spirit; like this cake I made last year. This is a perfect advent treat served with whipped cream and raspberries.
And here are a few more saffron related recipes:
Scallops in saffron sauce
Steamed mussels with saffron