Crumbly vanilla squares

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These seriously-easy-to-make vanilla squares are so nice even the boys in the office asked me for the recipe. They remind me of a pastry we have in Sweden called vaniljhjärtan (vanilla hearts); a thin pastry heart filled with wonderful vanilla cream. These square are a little sharper than those, because of the fromage frais and creme fraiche, but that’s not a bad thing. I just think it adds freshness and make the squares seem lighter. Deceptive, I know.

This recipe makes a lot of cake, but you can easily halve it or just make the whole batch and put some in the freezer.

Crumbly vanilla squares, makes approx 42

Translated from and adapted after the recipe in Hemmets Journals.

Crumble:

500 g butter

600 g plain flour

320 g caster sugar

4 tbsp vanilla powder (a little less if using essence)

1 tbsp baking powder

Filling:

4 eggs

200 ml fromage frais

500 ml creme fraiche

240 g caster sugar 

1 tbsp vanilla powder or essence

Mix butter, flour, sugar, vanilla and baking powder until a sandy texture, using a food processor. I had to make it in two batches as my food processor isn’t very big. Press half of the crumbe onto a parchment paper in a large baking tray (I used two smaller ones).

Mix egg, fromage frais, creme fraiche, sugar and vanilla in a bowl. Pour the filling over the crumb base. Pour the rest of the crumble mixture on top. Bake for 30 minutes in the middle of the oven. Leave to cool and cut into squares. 

Chewy vanilla toffee

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Sweets play a big role in Sweden. We are addicted to our pick ‘n mix (which is actually far better and represented in every single supermarket), love our cars and other chewy sweets.

When I run out of Swedish sweets I resort only to chocolate, as British sweets usually disappoint in comparison. Also, the only chewy British sweet that I really like; Bassett’s wine gums, you hardly ever see here apart from at the airport..

But even though I don’t know how to make perfect wine gums at least I can vary the chocolate with this amazing chewy toffee.

The recipe is straight forward and pretty standard, but it still tastes amazing! The easiest way to make toffee is to use a sugar thermometer; the toffee is ready once the sugar is boiling, at 120C. Or you can pour a spoonful of toffee mixture in a glass of cold water. If it easily shapes into a ball it is ready.

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Chewy vanilla toffee, makes about 50 sweets

Translated from Johanna Westman’s recipe from the book Julgodis (Christmas sweets).

200 ml double cream

100 ml golden syrup

300 ml caster sugar

100 g butter

1/2 vanilla pod

Line a rectangular dish with parchment paper. Mix cream, syrup, sugar and butter in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod, and add both seeds and pod to the pan. Bring to the boil and cook until 120C. Pour the mixture into the lined dish. Leave to cool. Cut into shapes and wrap in parchment paper or cellophane.

Granola

I made my own granola the other day. When you have a sensitive stomach like me, it is great to create your own breakfast cereal, because there are only a few storebought ones you can have. I can’t have seeds and nuts, or anything wholegrain or most dried fruits. Yes, it is a nightmare. But it is easily fixed by making your own. And it tastes lovely too!

I flavoured mine with a little bit of sugar (it seemed like a lot, but the cereals don’t taste very sweet, which made me realise how much sugar there must be in the storebought kind) and vanilla essence. Together with thick natural yoghurt, some raisins or a dollop of honey, this is heaven in the mornings. I promise you.

Vanilla granola, 2 large jars as pictured

400 g oats

150 g rice krispies

100 g cornflakes

125 ml water

125 ml caster sugar

50 ml vegetable oil

a pinch of salt

3 tbsp syrup

1 tsp vanilla essence

Pour the cereals into a large roasting tin and mix it around.  Mix the other ingredients in a bowl (or heat it up to a syrup, but it is not necessary) and pour it over the cereal. Mix thoroughly. Toast in 150C for 40 mins – 1 hr. Stir once and a while. Leave to cool completely before filling airtight containers. I placed a tea towel over the tray over night to cool.