Saturday, February 28, 2009

Daring bakers! Daring flourless chocolate valentino

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

This is especially exciting as I'm a massive fan of Dharm. I love reading about his delicious cooking and his absolutely delightful family, in a faraway place. I cant wait to hear his daring baker story, its always interesting!

I went to the farmers market and got special european style local butter, and some lovely eggs, some of them with pretty blue shells. I got some callebut chocolate too. All was well, but unfortunately I overcooked my little cakes so they were a little dry.

I dont have an ice cream maker, so I thought it would be nice to freeze a little of my white chocolate strawberry whipped ganache into heart shaped moulds as an accompaniment. I thought it went very well and it lightened the dry, dark cake. Mmmm.

Thanks for a wonderful challenge! See you next time!

Chocolate Valentino

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped

½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter

5 large eggs separated

1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often. I did this in the microwave, I always seem to have more luck with it.

2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.

3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.

4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).

5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.

6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.

7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter.

8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C

9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C.

Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.

10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Class 2 at Grossmont-carrot cupcakes

This week was nice and simple, I've made tons of carrot cupcakes recently, so it didnt seem that amazing, but it was interesting to see chef's take on the carrot cake, his recipe was really heavy on the carrots, and used currants, since it was cupcakes he figured he'd go small on everything. Most of the fat was replaced with yoghurt and it wasnt missed. Sometimes this makes a muffiney cake, but in this case it was really nice and very healthy, until we added the frosting!!

I'm all in a quandry about whether this is my favourite, or I like the delia smith recipe. Aagh!

The cream cheese frosting was also really interesting, it had a little white chocolate in it, which apparently stabilizes the frosting a little more. I prefer using less butter and sugar, although it does give a slightly runnier frosting.

Our group learned a very important lesson about the mixer too, our blade was too low and was rubbing against the bowl making the frosting grey, so we had to throw the whole batch out and start again. All it needed was a little adjustment.

We were also taught to mix our raisins and carrots with the flour to get an even distribution in the cake. This is particularly important when you just have, say a few nuts in a cake.

The cakes were piped with a little swirl of the delicious frosting.

Marzipan was dyed orange to make a carrot

More was dyed green and leaves were made

My carrots

Some finished cakes.

Carrot Cupcakes -James Foran

makes 1 dozen

350f conventional oven, 25 minute
9oz carrots, grated
9oz all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
2 oz currants
1 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger

1/2 tsp kosher salt
7 1/2 oz sugar
1 1/2 oz brown sugar
2 eggs
4 oz brown sugar
4 oz oil
Preheat oven to 350f
Sift the flour, baking soda and baking powder together and mix with the other dry ingredients. Whisk the wet ingredients together for a couple minutes then combine, keeping stirring to a minimum. Scoop into 12 cupcakes and bake at 350f for around 25 mins
Cool for 5 mins in the pan, then on a rack.

White chocolate cream cheese frosting
8oz cream cheese
1oz butter
3/4 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 oz powdered sugar
2 oz white chocolate, melted
Beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth, add the lemon juice and vanilla and beat, then add the sugar, slowly mixing until combined, then beat for another minute. Add the white chocolate to combine then pipe onto the cooled cupcakes. Add a little marzipan carrot if you like!

Stay tuned for a monster post next week, we're doing mousse cakes, a 2 week process!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Decorating class!

I recently attended another really fun class at 'do it with icing'. It turned out that the instructor, Casey had worked at 'Just Fabulous', which sounded like an absolutely wonderful bakery. I'm so sad it went out of business, I hope everyone managed to go onto bigger and better things. Casey is teaching another class at do it with icing on the 13th March, making a cake treasure chest. I'd highly recommend attending if you're interested in learning more about cake decorating.

We were instructed to bring a plain iced cake, this is my first time practicing with a 'dummy'. It was really nice as it had perfect edges and didn't lean or anything! We were told we could go anywhere we wanted with our designs, I decided to go with a pretty simple present with bows as I've never tried that before. It came out really well in the end, I was very happy with the result.

This is definitely a lesson in going for it and trying new designs, it came out so well that I ought to try doing a dummy cake more often just to learn technique.

I also learned about a new tool, the extruder. It produced a really nice uniform rope, which I twisted around a dowel for a little pizazz, I'll be hoping to try one really soon!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Crab cakes, hubby cooks!!

When my husband announced he had found a recipe he'd like to try I was so excited, he hates cooking and its really nice when he makes something for me!

We are big fans of sam the cooking guy, and he saw this recipe on the show and decided it was easy enough to try.

Its also really healthy and tasty, which is a bonus. Especially without the biscuits, although I'm sure they are delicious! I paired it with a wasabi coleslaw, which played off the spicy crab cakes perfectly.

Wasabi Coleslaw-serves around 4

These ingredients are just a guideline, you can just throw in a bunch of coleslaw mix. The dressing should be to taste, since some of us feel differently about wasabi!!

1/2 cabbage, shredded

1 red bell pepper, shredded

2 carrots, grated

4 scallions/spring onions chopped

1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise (hellmans is the only one I will use!)

1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar

1 tsp wasabi

1 tsp brown sugar

Whisk together the mayo, rice vinegar, wasabi, sugar. Mix the veggies and the sesame seeds and add the dressing. Serve immediately. If you're having it later keep the coleslaw separate from the dressing and combine immediately before serving.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Mini Tart Tatins

I was making some desserts for valentine's day and remembered that one of my favorites is tart tatin. I love little individual desserts, so I wondered if it would work to bake little tart tatins in a muffin pan.

It worked wonderfully, they came out beautiful, if I was a little less lazy I could have arranged the apples a bit more carefully.

I was also making the caramel toffee cheesecakes from buff chickpea, so that caramel sauce doubled up nicely.

There isnt really a recipe, you take about 2 teaspoons of caramel sauce, put in the bottom of a muffin pan, chop 3 apples and cook until a little tender (I dont think I needed to do this, I could have sliced them thinner and they would have been fine).

Pop the apple slices into the pan, then add another drizzle of caramel sauce.

Top with a circle of either puff pastry or shortcrust pastry and bake for around 30 mins at 350f. Allow to cool, then place a baking sheet over the top, flip over and tap really hard to remove the tarts.

There might be a few bits of apples left in the pan, but they are really easy to pop back on the tarts.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Cakes at Grossmont-Black Forest Gateau Tutorial

It was our first practical week at the cake class at Grossmont College. Chef chose the classic Black Forest Gateau to start.

I dont think there needs to be a recipe, its really just a chocolate cake with lots of whipped cream (2 cups!!) with kirsh, sour cherries and chocolate shavings.

This is the cake I made with my partner, she's a very accomplished decorator, so it was a breeze for her to get it looking perfect.

I thought I'd include the step by step process, apologies for a very long post!

First step was shaving the chocolate with a pallete knife to try and get curls. As usual, Chef makes it look a lot easier than it is! As we get more and more frustrated, the warmer the chocolate gets, the harder it is to make curls!!

We made a chiffon cake, where we separated the eggs and whipped up the whites for extra volume.

The cake was carefully cut into three. The key to this is keeping the knife flat and spinning the cake around instead of going straight through.

The cake layers were then placed on boards and brished with sweetened, kirsh and cherry juice.

Whipped cream was spread onto each layer, not too much!

Sour cherries are dotted around the cream

Another layer of cake

More cream!

Pop the top on!

Use a cake board to push everything down. Dont worry about the cream oozing out, we'll clean that up in a minute

Top with yet more cream!

Get the top really nice and smooth, that will be showing

Put cream around the sides. This isnt so important, since we'll be covering with chocolate

A clean white cream covered cake, already for decoration. Once again, chef makes it look much easier than it is! Take the spatula and dip in warm water, then smooth for a clean finish

Carefully put the chocolate curls on the sides.

Score marks to show where the cake will be sliced

Pipe rosettes in each of the slices. This should be super easy since we all learned in Basic Baking (cough!!).

Put a cherry on each of the rosettes and bob's your uncle!

Cut a slice and get everyone salivating as its really dinner time for everyone.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A perfect pair

These were some adorable little mini cupcakes I made for a baby shower this weekend. My new favorite thing ever is chocolate ganache as a topping for a cupcake, its just so delicious and it behaves just wonderfully. The addition of strawberry jam just really brings out the essence of the strawberries and stops them being too watery.

It started as the dark chocolate ganache obsession, then I was making strawberry cupcakes this weekend, and I knew that raspberry chocolate was delicious so I started wondering about trying a white chocolate ganache with strawberries. Oh my! What a way to celebrate valentines!

I'd like to submit this as a recipe for Mele Cote's 'Kitchen of Love'

See here for the recipes:

Strawberry White Chocolate Ganache - 12 cupcakes or 24 mini cupcakes with extra

8oz/ 1 cup whipping cream

4 oz white chocolate

3 oz strawberries, frozen or fresh

3 oz strawberry jam

Gently boil the strawberries and jam with a little water until soft. Pass through a sieve to remove seeds

Heat the cream until nearly boiling. Add the chocolate chips and stir until melted. Add the strawberry mixture and cool for several hours.

Whip until thick and pipe onto cakes. I used a wilton 20 tip for the pretty roses I love so much. Or just eat with a spoon!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Pear and Berry Trifle, delicious and vegan too!

I've been ogling all the lovely classes at Millenium that 'Albion Cooks' has been attending and I was lucky enough to visit the restaurant with my Mum and Grandma this time last year. I finally opened the cookbook to find a vegan dessert for my Buffet class final. I'm so glad I did. Millenium are really clever with the use of nuts to make a creamy dessert, this was very pretty and festive. I did a trial and then made the recipe for the 40 people who attended our final class for the buffet. It went pretty well, and it was really fun, if a little stressful to be making dessert for that many people!

If I'd been braver, I'd have tried the agar to thicken the mousse a little bit. The recipe calls for 3/4 tsp agar powder. This would have made the mousse thick enough for piping, giving a more professional looking dessert.

This would be a great dessert to prepare for a party, you can make all the components ahead of time, but assembling at the last minute would keep the cashew crumble crispy. I think a cashew as an additional garnish would be a nice subtle warning that it has nuts in for people with allergies.

Pear and Berry Trifle adapted slightly from The Artful Vegan

Pear Mousse

6 to 8 Bartlett or French butter pears peeled, cored and diced (about 4 cups)

3/4 cup plus 2 tbsps white grape juice

1 cup unsalted cashew pieces

6 tbsps florida crystals (or sugar)

1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds reserved (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)

pinch of salt

2 1/2 tbsps arrowroot, dissolved in 1/4 cup water

6 ounces extra firm silken tofu

Berry Sauce

1 1/2 cups of fresh berries-blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, huckeberries all work

1 cup white grape juice

1/4 cup florida crystals or sugar

1 1/2 tsp lemon juice

1 tbsp arrowroot, dissolved in 2 tbsp water

Cashew Crumbs

1 cup unsalted cashew pieces

Chopped zest of 1 lemon

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp lemon juice

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup canola oil

1/2 tsp vanilla extract.

2 Bartlett or French butter pears, cored and sliced thinly for garnish.

Preheat the oven to 350f

First get started on the mousse. Place the pears, cashews, vanilla, sugar, grape juice and salt in a large saucepan and boil until the pears have gone mushy, around 10 minutes. Add the tofu, then take a hand blender and thoroughly blend until smooth. Bring back to a simmer and add the arrowroot, dissolved in the water and heat for another minute, stirring. Chill for at least 4 hours, if possible.

Berry sauce-heat the berries, grape juice, sugar, lemon juice in a saucepan until the berries have broken down. Add the arrowroot in the water and heat, stirring for a further minute. Set aside.

Cashew Crumble-Combine the cashews, lemon zest, flour in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Mix the remaining ingredients together and pour in, then pulse until combined. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, then mix the crumbs and bake for a further 10 mins or until brown. Keep a really close eye, they burn really easily.

Assemble the trifle with layers of mousse, berries and crumble. Garnish with a pear and a roasted cashew. I would have liked to have piped the mousse, to get a better finish, but I didnt have time to get it to set up enough.

PS sorry about the terrible photo. I think my new years resolution is definitely making sure to get better pictures!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Palm Springs-fun in the desert

We had a really fun and relaxing weekend in Palm Springs. I really needed the break. We stayed at our favourite, the Peppertree Inn.

Unfortunately, the weekend started with an enormous disappointment, we couldnt find our beloved Edgardos Veracruz restaurant. I think its gone from the face of the earth. Thankfully we found 'Thai Time' and had a decent dinner and a few beers, which helped.

The weekend was fully redeemed the next morning, when we went next door to 'Cheeky's'. They had an amazing innovation, which hubby couldnt get over, a bacon flight! So he had a brekkie, the bacon from my eggs benedict, and 5 different other bacons! Nom nom. He was very happy!

The huevos rancheros were also super delicious, and I really enjoyed the eggs, and the tasty cheddar biscuits.

That evening we had a very nice dinner at Copleys, a place that seemed to be full on old style Palm Springs. Delicious food, and really attentive service.