A very traditional cake we usually do every Christmas in Greece & Cyprus with a chocolate twist! The King Cake (Vasilopita in Greek or galette des rois in French), is a New Year’s Day cake which contains a hidden coin or trinket which gives good luck to the receiver. It is associated with Saint Basil’s day, January 1, in most of Greece, but in some regions, the traditions surrounding a cake with a hidden coin are attached to Epiphany or to Christmas.
On New Year’s Day families cut the vasilopita to bless the house and bring good luck for the new year. This is usually done at the midnight of New Year’s Eve. A coin is hidden in the cake by slipping it into the dough before baking. At midnight the sign of the cross is etched with a knife across the cake. A piece of cake is sliced for each member of the family and any visitors present at the time, by order of age from eldest to youngest. Slices are also cut for various symbolic people or groups, depending on local and family tradition. In older times, the coin often was a valuable one, such as a gold sovereign. Nowadays there is often a prearranged gift, money, or otherwise, to be given to the coin recipient.
- 250 g. dark chocolate 72% cocoa
- 400 g. butter
- 300 g. brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 bulb fresh ground nutmeg
- 400 g. almond powder
- 10 eggs
- 175 g. flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- Decorative nuts and bonbons
- 125 g. butter
- 150 g. brown sugar
- 30 g. dark chocolate 72% cocoa
- 125 g. flour
- 50 g. almond powder
- Melt the chopped chocolate with the butter in the microwave.
- In a bowl add the eggs and beat with a hand blender or whisk.
- In another pan , place the melted chocolate with the butter , add the brown sugar , cinnamon, cloves , nutmeg , the almond powder , beaten eggs , flour and lastly the baking powder.
- Mix well and pour the mixture into a 28cm diameter tin, with a built bottom foil.
- Bake in preheated oven at 170 degrees C for 30 minutes and at 160 degrees C for another 30 minutes.
FOR THE ALMOND CRUMBLE :
- Melt the chocolate in the microwave.
- In a bowl add the butter, brown sugar, almond powder and stir briefly with an electric mixer.
- Add the melted chocolate and flour, continuing to stir.
- Take it out of the bowl and roll it out into a thin sheet of thickness 3 mm with a roller pin and place it in the fridge.
- When frozen cut a disc diameter smaller than the hoop of the Kings Cake.
- Cover the surface of the almost cooked cake with the crumble and continue baking for 15 minutes until the crumble is cooked.
- Garnish with decorations of your choice .
- ½ cup raisins
- 1/3 cup hot water
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 egg
- 1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar (or 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar plus 1 tablespoon molasses)
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
- 2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 1 ¼ cups rolled oats
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup toffee bits–use recipe below or use store-bought
- 3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, pecans, or macadamia nuts
- Preheat oven to 135°C.
- Combine ½ cup raisins with hot water in a food processor and blend on high speed for about 1 minute or until very smooth.
- Combine raisin puree with the vegetable shortening, butter, egg, brown sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Mix until smooth.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour with the oats, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Pour dry mixture into the wet and mix just until combined. Stir in the toffee bits/chunks, coconut, and walnuts.
- Roll 3-tablespoon-sized portions of dough in your hands and press to 1/2 –inch flat on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Leave about 1 ½ inches between dough discs.
- Bake at 135°C for 18-20 minutes. Be careful not to overcook. Cool on pan for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
If you like the idea of the white chocolate & Craisin version, omit the toffee, coconut, and walnuts; and add 1 cup white chocolate chunks and 1/2 to 3/4 cup dried cranberries (aka Craisins).
- 1/2 cup finely chopped roasted almonds (optional)
- 1/2 cup packed Light Brown Sugar
- 1/4 cups white sugar
- 1/2 cup butter
- Line a square Pyrex pan (8X8) with parchment paper or non-stick foil. Set pan on a cooling rack or stovetop. (You will be pouring the lava hot sugar into this later, so you want to make sure it’s on a heat-proof surface.)
- In a heavy saucepan heat butter and sugar to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil over medium heat until it reaches 150°C on a candy thermometer. Stir in the chopped almonds, and immediately pour into the prepared pan. Allow to cool completely. If you’re in a hurry, pull the parchment paper/foil out and place directly on a cooling rack. The glass pan retains heat and causes the toffee to cool more slowly.
- When completely cool, break apart into about 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch pieces.
- You will probably end up with more than 1 cup of toffee in the end. Store the remaining bits in an air-tight container and use in another recipe or for ice cream topping, or just as it is.
- 1 cup coarsely chopped almonds or macadamia nuts (roasted unsalted)
- 1 cup finely chopped almonds or macadamia nuts (roasted unsalted)
- 3/4 cup packed Light Brown Sugar
- 3/4 cups white sugar
- 1 cup butter
- 9 ounces chocolate, melted and tempered (Milk Chocolate)
- Line a square Pyrex pan (8X8) with parchment paper (I suppose the non-stick foil might work as well…). Spread coarse nuts in bottom of pan. Set aside.
- In a heavy saucepan heat butter and sugar to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil over medium heat until it reaches 150°C on a candy thermometer. At that point immediately pour and spread over the nuts. Allow to cool 5-6 minutes.
- With a bench scraper, cut toffee while it is still soft into 16 pieces. Allow to cool to the touch, and break apart. Set on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Over a double boiler, melt chocolate until it is 2/3 melted. Remove from heat and stir until completely melted. Place finely chopped nuts in a shallow pan.
- Using two forks, completely coat each piece of toffee with the chocolate. Toss in the finely chopped nuts until coated. Return to parchment paper to cool and set.
Makes 16 yummy chunks.
Note: An easier alternative to coating individual pieces is to just pour melted chocolate over the cooled, uncut toffee and sprinkle with nuts. Then when the chocolate has set, break toffee into pieces.