Making culinary wishes come true

After some years in the media, Inbal Lavie made it her business to make the world a sweeter place.

Peanut butter cups (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN AND INBAL LAVIE)
Peanut butter cups
Over the years, I’ve met quite a few people who’ve made midlife career changes and transitioned to the food industry. Inbal Lavie, who had a high-powered job in the media industry, used to come home late each night and start baking to help her relax before going to sleep. Then, one fine day, she decided to listen to her heart and turn her hobby into a business.
I recently joined Lavie at her home in Givatayim for a fantastic day of preparing chocolate truffles together. An autodidact, Lavie is a curious person by nature and recalls that as a child she always preferred learning by trial and error instead of sitting in class.
“I didn’t have time to take a confectionery course, so I read every book and magazine I could get my hands on, and watched lots of YouTube videos,” Lavie says. “I would pick something that interested me and then go try to make it right away in my own kitchen. I learned how to use gelatin, yeast and phyllo dough. Step by step, I learned how to make everything.”
About a decade ago, Lavie started a blog called “The Cookie Fairy” on which she has posted for her followers a comprehensive list of all sorts of sweets.
“I’ve compiled a blog with the most amazing cake and dessert recipes of the sweets I love eating most.”
Lavie also taught herself photography and she loves capturing her beautiful concoctions on film. Wherever she is around the world, she is always searching for interesting props to use in her still shots, such as unique spoons or napkins.
Lavie loves interacting with her followers, and every so often she posts a blog post called “The Cookie Fairy Makes Your Wish Come True.” For example, one four-year-old girl requested that she come up with a cake connected to the book My Father Always Embarrasses Me by Meir Shalev. Lavie came up with a wonderful recipe that went viral and now lots of other parents can surprise their children with this special cake.
Lavie combines bittersweet and milk chocolate to achieve the ultimate amount of sweetness. It’s also fine to dip truffles in pure bittersweet chocolate.
It’s preferable to melt chocolate in a bain-marie (double boiler).
You fill a pot with water and then place another pot on top and place the chocolate in the top pot. This enables the chocolate to melt evenly and smoothly.
Chocolate should always be diluted with a little oil or cocoa butter.
You should remove the truffle from the melted chocolate with a fork, not with your fingers, so that you don’t leave fingerprints.
Let leftover chocolate drip back into bowl so that coating won’t be too thick.
Make sure truffles are completely cooled and solid before dipping them in chocolate so that they don’t melt.
Truffles should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge so they are not affected by humidity or heat in the air. Remove them a few minutes before serving so they have time to return to room temperature.
TIPascale: It’s important to use only high-quality chocolate. This is the only way the cookies and truffles will achieve the proper look. It’s also much easier to cover truffles with quality chocolate.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.
Peanut butter cups
Makes 30 small or 15 medium cups
Ingredients: Coating:
■ 100 gr. milk chocolate, chopped
■ 100 gr. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
■ 1 Tbsp. oil or cocoa butter, melted Filling:
■ 60 gr. butter
■ 30 gr. (3 Tbsp.) demerara sugar
■ 250 gr. (1 cup) peanut butter
■ 100 gr. (1 packet) powdered sugar, sifted
■ ¼ tsp. salt
Directions: In a bain-marie, add both types of chocolate and melt until smooth. Add the oil (or melted cocoa butter) and mix well. Place cupcake holders in a muffin tin and brush on a thin layer of melted chocolate. Place tray in freezer until solid (about 10 minutes).
Melt the butter in a small pot. Add the demerara sugar and mix. Add the peanut butter and stir until it starts to bubble a little. Remove from the flame and add powdered sugar and salt. Mix well. Let cool until it is cool enough to touch.
Remove cups from freezer and fill each one with filling. Then pour more melted chocolate on top. Return tray to freezer for another 20 to 30 minutes until solid. Carefully peel off cupcake holders and store in an airtight container.
Yummy cookies
Makes 8 truffles
Ingredients: Mounds:
■ 80 gr. long hazelnut wafers
■ 50 gr. butter, melted
■ Pinch of salt
■ 100 gr. (¼ cup + 1 tbsp) praline or nougat cream, at room temperature
■ 24 whole hazelnuts, bleached
■ 4 long 3-cm. hazelnut wafers
■ 1 Tbsp. praline or nougat cream Coating:
■ 100 gr. milk chocolate, chopped
■ 100 gr. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
■ 1 to 2 Tbsp. oil or cocoa butter, melted
Mounds: Grind wafers in a food processor. Add half of the melted butter and a pinch of salt and mix well. Use a silicone mold with 24 semicircular 3-cm. cavities. Take a little bit of mixture and press it down into cavities of the mold. You can use a melon baller to help press it down. Put in freezer for 30 minutes until solid.
Mix the remaining melted butter with the praline or nougat. Take tray out of freezer and fill the holes with praline mixture. Stick one whole hazelnut in the middle and return to freezer for another 60 minutes.
Base: Turn each wafer on its side and separate it into two halves using a knife. Take mounds out of freezer and press three mounds on each wafer and return to freezer for another hour.
Coating: In a bain-marie, place both chocolates and melt until smooth. Add the oil (or melted cocoa butter) and mix.
Dip each wafer into melted chocolate and remove with a fork. Let drip into bowl. Place on baking paper until hardens. If you want, you can decorate it more by drizzling with melted chocolate. Store in an airtight container.
Running cookies
Makes 15 cookies
Ingredients: Biscuits:
■ 100 gr. butter
■ 4 Tbsp. water
■ ¼ tsp. salt
■ 30 gr. (3 Tbsp.) white sugar
■ 20 gr. (heaping Tbsp.) dark brown sugar
■ 180 gr. (1 cup + 4 Tbsp.) flour, sifted
■ 20 gr. (2 Tbsp.) cocoa powder, sifted
■ 50 gr. milk chocolate, chopped
■ 40 gr. butter, softened
■ 120 gr. (1 cup) powdered sugar
■ 1 Tbsp. milk
■ ¼ tsp. salt Coating:
■ 250 gr. milk chocolate, chopped
■ 1 to 2 Tbsp. oil or melted cocoa butter
Directions: To prepare the biscuits, melt the butter in a pot with the water, salt and both types of sugar until the butter has melted and the mixture begins to boil.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let it cool for an hour. In a separate bowl, add the flour and cocoa powder. Then add the butter mixture gradually while mixing with a spoon until dough forms. Place dough in fridge for two hours.
Roll out the dough between two sheets of baking paper until it is 3 mm. thick. Cut into squares that are 3.5 cm. x 6 cm. Place in freezer for one hour. Remove from freezer and place directly into an oven that has been preheated to 180˚ and bake for 14 minutes.
To make filling, melt the chocolate in a microwave or over a bain-marie and then let it cool. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to mix softened butter, powdered sugar, milk and salt for 2 to 3 minutes until it’s light and fluffy. Add the melted chocolate and mix for another 2 minutes.
Place a heaping teaspoon of filling on every other cookie. Place on a tray and stick in freezer to set.
To prepare coating, melt the chocolate in a bain-marie and then mix with oil or melted cocoa butter. Dip each cookie in chocolate coating and lift out with a fork. Shake lightly to let excess chocolate drip off. Place covered cookies on a sheet of baking paper. If you want, you can press tines of fork on top of cookie to create a cool design. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.