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Daring Bakers 2010 : Nanaimo Bars

Posted by vivnidhi on January 27, 2010

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Nanaimo Bars

This is the only picture I was able to take…..took them to a friend’s potluck and forgot to take photos

All the Daring Bakers are headed to Canada for winter Olympics. Of course, I can’t fool you….no……we are not going….just celebrating 😉 by making nanaimo bars. OK, I also had never heard of these until………..”The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month.”

Nanaimo Bars are a classic Canadian dessert created in none other than Nanaimo, British Colombia. In case you were wondering, it’s pronounced Nah-nye-Moh. These bars have 3 layers: a base containing graham crackers, cocoa, coconut and nuts, a middle custard layer, and a topping of chocolate. They are extremely rich and available almost everywhere across the country.

Lauren wanted us to bake the Graham Crackers gluten free. I used all  whole wheat pastry flour (atta) instead of the gluten free flours as I am too lazy. These are absolutely divine. You will not want to buy store bought after trying these out. Superlative praises for these graham crackers. I stopped buying Indian Glucose biscuits long long back because of Trans fats. These graham crackers will certainly fill that craving. Please visit Celiac Teen or the other daring bakers this month for some great gluten free versions.

Recipe Source: Graham Wafers — 101 Cookbooks (http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/000126.html) I adapted it to be gluten-free. The adapted recipe is below.
Nanaimo Bars — City of Nanaimo (http://www.nanaimo.ca/EN/main/visitors/NanaimoBars.html)

The Recipe:

Preparation time:
• Graham Wafers: 30 to 45 minutes total active prep, 2 ½ hours to overnight and 45 minutes inactive prep.
• Nanaimo Bars: 30 minutes.

Equipment required:
• Food Processor
• Bowls
• Parchment paper or silpats
• Cookie sheets
• Double boiler or pot and heatproof bowl
• 8 by 8 inch square pan
• Hand mixer or stand mixer (You may use a wooden spoon, but this makes it much easier!)
• Saucepan

  • For  Graham Wafers
    Ingredients
    2 1/2 cups + 2 Tbsp. Whole wheat pastry flour (atta)
    1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
    1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
    3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Kosher Salt
    7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
    2 Tbsp. Honey, Mild-flavored such as clover.
  • 3 Tbsp. Molasses
    5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk
    2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract

Directions:
1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.
2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, molasses, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
3. Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with atta and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
4. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of whole wheat pastry flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.
7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
8. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.
9. When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.

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Graham Crackers

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We loved our graham crackers with some nutella and whipped topping……….Husband can’t have enough of it 🙂

Nanaimo Bars
Ingredients:

For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut  unsweetened

For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar

For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter

Directions:
1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.

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Making of the Nanaimo Bar………bottom layer

(This is the only photograph I have :-)) )

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My Tweaks to the recipe:

  1. Used whole wheat pastry flour (atta) for the crackers.
  2. Substituted molasses for some  honey as I was out of honey.
  3. I made double the middle layer (mistake..) and double the chocolate (bring on more 🙂 )

Additional Information:

These bars freeze very well, so don’t be afraid to pop some into the freezer.

The graham wafers may be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Mine lasted about that long.

If making the graham crackers with wheat, replace the gluten-free flours (tapioca starch, sweet rice flour, and sorghum flour) with 2 ½ cups plus 2 tbsp of all-purpose wheat flour, or wheat pastry flour. Watch the wheat-based graham wafers very closely in the oven, as they bake faster than the gluten-free ones, sometimes only 12 minutes OR even 10.

For the Nanaimo Bars, if making with wheat, replace the gluten-free graham wafer crumbs with equal parts wheat graham wafer crumbs!

Information on Celiac Disease: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/celiac-disease/DS00319

Information on Vancouver 2010: http://www.vancouver2010.com/

City of Nanaimo: http://www.nanaimo.ca/EN/index.html

Gluten Free Flour Information: http://glutenfreemommy.com/gluten-free-grains-101-the-best-flour-blend/

Video on making Nanaimo bars: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5aqa6R1jIM&feature=fvsr

Recipe and video for Vegan Nanaimo Bars (you didn’t think I’d leave you guys out?): http://www.everydaydish.tv/index.php?page=recipe&recipe=159

Recipe for gluten-free and vegan Graham Wafers: http://www.thesensitivepantry.com/the-sensitive-pantry/2009/8/3/grahams-…

 

Nanaimo bars disappointed me because of the middle layer. A bit too sweet. I will try other buttercreams or some custard as filling the next time. The husband was pretty impressed with the texture of the middle layer though and wanted me to just follow the recipe and make the amount of filling given.

For the funny attempts at decorating. I used plastic chocolate. I will post the plastic chocolate recipe separately later.

It’s after ages I am posting a daring baker challenge on time. I also hope that I shall continue to do so in the coming months and blog a little more….I have dozens of posts half written which have not yet made it to the blog.

Expenditure:

Heavy Whipping Cream 1/2 pint ……….$1.99………….from Meijer

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Total………………………………………$1.99

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I just received this photo…..it certainly looks better than the first

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Posted in - Confectioner's Sugar, -Almonds, -Butter, -Coconut, -Cream, -Dark Brown sugar, -Honey, -Molasses, -Semisweet Chocolate, -Vanilla, -Whole Wheat Pastry flour, Baking Soda, Daring Bakers, Eggs, Milk, Sugar, Vanilla Pudding mix | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Daring Cooks make Sushi 寿司…….I make it Vegetarian

Posted by vivnidhi on November 18, 2009

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Top: Caterpillar Rolls , Bottom L: Nigiri Sushi and Bottom R : Spiral Roll

I have not been able to post earlier about the fabulous sushi Daring Cooks made this month. I love sushi and really had my fill making vegetarian sushi. I couldn’t say enough of ” This is so much better than store bought and I made so much so cheap” I found this month’s Daring Cook challenge the best so far. The instructions are quite precise so no chatter in this post.  I was supposed to post on the 14th, ah well here I am …………

The November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge.

Sushi (寿司 or 鮨 or 鮓) is much appreciated for its delicate taste and exquisite appearance. Sushi actually means vinegared rice, which is the essential ingredient in every sushi recipe. Sushi is simple and cheap to make at home, needs no special equipment and is an excellent way to use left overs.

Although sushi in various forms has been around for fourteen centuries, the modern version was invented in Japan in the 1800’s where a ‘hand-formed’ sliced fresh fish and vinegared rice ball was eaten as a snack food. Nowadays, sushi is made with various seafood, meats and vegetables, raw and cooked.

PART 1 : SUSHI RICE (makes about 7 cups of cooked sushi rice)

Preparation time: 1¾ hours consisting of :-
Rinsing and draining rice: 35 minutes
Soaking rice: 30 minutes (includes 5 minutes making the vinegar dressing)
Cooking and steaming time: 25 minutes
Finishing the rice: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2½ cups uncooked short grain rice
  • 2½ cups water
  • For superior results use equal volumes of rice and water

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Sushi Rice

Optional Ingredients

  • 3 inch (75mm or 15 grams) square dashi konbu (or kombu) (dried kelp seaweed) wipe with a damp cloth to remove white powder & cut a few slits in the sides of the kelp to help release its flavors  (I used Shimaya Instant Dashi Konbu powder …..I used only 1 tsp. in the water given……that’s what I got)
  • 2½ teaspoons (12.5 mls) of sake (Japanese rice wine)

Sushi vinegar dressing

  • 5 Tablespoons (75 mls) rice vinegar
  • 5 Teaspoons (25 mls or 21 grams) sugar
  • 1¼ Teaspoons (6.25 mls or 4.5 grams) salt

DIRECTIONS:
Rinsing and draining the rice

  1. Swirl rice gently in a bowl of water, drain, repeat 3-4 times until water is nearly clear. Don’t crush the rice in your hands or against the side of the bowl since dry rice is very brittle.
  2. Gently place rice into a strainer and drain well for 30 minutes.

Soaking the rice

  1. Gently place the rice into a heavy medium pot with a tight fitting lid (if you have a loose fitting lid use a piece of aluminum foil to make the seal tight).
  2. Add 2½ cups of water and the dashi konbu. (I used 1 tsp. instant powder)
  3. Set the rice aside to soak for 30 minutes, during this time prepare the sushi rice dressing.

Preparing the Rice Vinegar Dressing

  1. Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl.
  2. Heat on low setting.
  3. Stir until the mixture goes clear and the sugar and salt have dissolved.
  4. Set aside at room temperature until the rice is cooked.

Cooking the rice

  1. After 30 minutes of soaking add sake (if using) to the rice.
  2. Bring rinsed and soaked rice to the boil.
  3. Reduce heat to the lowest setting and simmer, covered, until all the water is absorbed, 12-15 minutes. Do not remove the lid during this process. Turn off heat.
  4. Let stand with the lid on, 10-15 minutes. Do not peek inside the pot or remove the lid. During this time the rice is steaming which completes the cooking process.

Finishing the rice

  • Turning out the rice

  1. Moisten lightly a flat thin wooden spatula or spoon and a large shallow flat-bottomed non-metallic (plastic, glass or wood) bowl. Do not use metallic objects since the vinegar will react with it and produce sour and bitter sushi rice.
  2. Remove the dashi konbu (kelp) from the cooked rice.
  3. Use the spatula to loosen gently the rice and invert the rice pot over the bowl, gently causing the cooked rice to fall into the bowl in one central heap. Do this gently so as not to cause the rice grains to become damaged.

  • Dressing the rice with vinegar

  1. Slowly pour the cooled sushi vinegar over the spatula onto the hot rice.
  2. Using the spatula gently spread the rice into a thin, even layer using a 45° cutting action to break up any lumps and to separate the rice. Don’t stir or mash rice.
  3. After the rice is spread out, start turning it over gently, in small portions, using a cutting action, allowing steam to escape, for about a minute.

  • Fanning & Tossing the rice

  1. Continue turning over the rice, but now start fanning (using a piece of stiff cardboard) the rice vigorously as you do so. Don’t flip the rice into the air but continue to gently slice, lift and turn the rice occasionally, for 10 minutes. Cooling the rice using a fan gives good flavor, texture and a high-gloss sheen to the rice. The vinegar dressing will be absorbed by the hot rice. Using a small electric fan on the lowest speed setting is highly recommended.
  2. Stop fanning when there’s no more visible steam, and all the vinegar dressing has been adsorbed and the rice is shiny. Your sushi rice is ready to be used.

  • Keeping the rice moist

  1. Cover with a damp, lint free cloth to prevent the rice from drying out while preparing your sushi meal. Do not store sushi rice in the refrigerator leave on the counter covered at room temperature. Sushi rice is best used when it is at room temperature.

* Tip: To make sushi rice: for each cup of rice use 1 cup of water, 2 Tbs rice vinegar, 2 tsp sugar, ½ tsp salt and 1 tsp sake. For superior results use equal volumes of rice and water when cooking the sushi rice since the weight of rice can vary. Weight of 2½ cups of uncooked rice is about 525 grams or 18½ ounces.

* Tip: While the rice is draining, soaking and cooking prepare your rice vinegar dressing, sushi fillings and toppings.

* Tip: Photo series on How to Cook Rice with a Pot
http://www.sushiencyclopedia.com/how_to_make_sushi/how_to_cook_rice_with…

* Tip: Photo series on How to Make Sushi Rice with Tools You Already Own
http://www.sushiencyclopedia.com/how_to_make_sushi/how_to_make_sushi_ric…

NOTES:
Sushi Rice – choose a short or medium grain rice. Do not use Arborio, long-grain, or parboiled white rice. Medium-grained calrose is a suitable rice. Rice expands (about 3 times) when cooked so make sure your pot is large enough. Washing the rice removes the rice flour that coats the rice and gives a fresh flavor and scent to the cooked rice. Look for rice that is labeled ‘sushi’ rice. Cooked sushi rice can be placed in plastic bags and frozen for 3 months, microwave when needed. Cooked sushi rice should be sticky, shiny and the individual grains of rice can been see. Price: AUS $4/KG.

Dashi konbu – or ( dashi kombu) – dried kelp, it looks like broad, leathery, wrinkly greenish ribbon often coated with a white powder. The darker green the leaves, the better the quality of kelp. Dashi konbu adds a refreshing light ocean taste to sushi rice. Price: AUS $1.50 for ten 3”(75mm) squares.

Rice Vinegar – this gives prepared sushi rice its unique clean, crisp taste. Do not use bottled “sushi vinegar” as it is too harsh and has a bitter after-taste. Look carefully at the label of the rice vinegar it should have NO SALT and NO SUGAR in the product. Apple cider vinegar is a good substitute if rice vinegar is not available. You can use mild white wine vinegar or mild red wine vinegar if you cannot find rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar. DO NOT USE NORMAL WHITE VINEGAR it is too harsh. Price: AUS $4 /500ml bottle.

Sake – Japanese rice wine. Do not use cooking sake or Chinese cooking rice wine, look for a reasonably priced drinkable sake. Refrigerate opened sake & use within two months. You can use vodka or a mild tasting gin if sake is not available. Price: AUS $10/500ml bottle.

Sugar – you can use mild honey or any other vegan substitute to give the equivalent sweetness.

 

PART 2 : Dragon Rolls (also called Caterpillar Rolls)

Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus 1¾ hours to make the sushi rice
Cooking time: about 5 minutes (grilling the eel)

Yield: 2 inside-out (uramaki) sushi rolls

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 sheet 7”x8” (17.5cmx20cm) of toasted nori (dried seaweed sheets), cut into halves
  • 1/2 Japanese cucumber
  • 2 cups of prepared sushi rice
  • 3 slabs tofu (sliced, seasoned with salt & paprika and baked at 400 F for 20 minutes) 
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 Red onion thinly sliced and broiled for 7-8 minutes
  • Vinegared Water – ½ cup of water combined with a dash of rice vinegar
  • Various small amounts of sauces to use as the flames of the dragon (or legs of a caterpillar)

Optional

  • A mix of crumbled toasted nori, toasted sesame seeds and sugar and salt

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Japanese Cucumber and salt paprika seasoned baked tofu

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Oiled & Broiled thinly sliced red onions

DIRECTIONS:
1.Cut cucumber into strips ¼ inch (6mm) x 7” (175mm) long, then salt, rinse & dry the strips.
2.Grill (broil) the red onions for about 2-5 minutes until bubbling. Bake sliced seasoned tofu. Apply or spray some oil before baking.

3.Halve, pit and peel the avocado. Cut the avocado halves into thin even 1/8 inch (3 mm) slices. Fan out the cut avocado into a 7 inch (175 mm) overlapping pattern.
4.Cover bamboo mat with plastic wrap. Place a sheet of nori shiny side down, lengthwise, on the edge the mat.
5.Moisten lightly your hands in the bowl of vinegared water.
6.Place one cup of rice on the nori and gently rake your fingertips across grains to spread rice evenly. Do not mash or squash the rice onto the nori, the rice should appear loosely packed and be evenly distributed over the entire sheet, you should be able to see the nori sheet in a few places.
7.Flip the rice-covered nori over (so the bare nori is now on top) and place on the edge of the mat closest to you.
8.Slice tofu again in slices. Arrange sliced baked tofu across the length of the nori, not quite centred on it but a little closer to you. Place half the cucumber sticks & grilled onions next to the tofu.
9.Lift the edge of the mat closest to you with both hands, keeping your fingertips over the fillings, and roll the mat and its contents until the edge of the mat touches straight down on the nori, enclosing the fillings completely. Lift up the edge of the mat you’re holding, and continue rolling the inside-out roll away from you until it’s sealed. Tug at the mat to tighten the seal. If the rice doesn’t quite close the roll add more rice in the gap and re-roll using the mat to completely cover the inside-out roll. Place the roll on a damp, clean smooth surface.
10.Spread about 1 tablespoon of the optional sesame mix along the entire top of the rice-covered roll. Using the plastic covered mat gently press the fish roe so it adheres to the rice.
11.Slide a knife under one fan of avocado and transfer it onto the top of an inside-out roll. Gently spread out the avocado layer to cover the entire roll. Lay the plastic wrapped mat over the avocado-covered roll. Squeeze very gently to shape the roll.
12. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the roll. Slice the roll into 6-8 equal, bite-sized pieces, wiping your knife with a damp towel before each slice. Discard the plastic wrap. Repeat the above to make one more roll.
13.Arrange the cut pieces on a serving plate with the sauces so the finished dish appears as a dragon breathing fire and flames (or a caterpillar with many legs).

* Tip: The most common mistake is having too much filling the golden rule is less is more when it comes to making sushi it is easier to roll an under-filled roll than an over-filled roll.

* Tip: Dampen your knife with a moist lint-free towel before every cut – this prevents the sushi rice from sticking to your knife.

* Tip: Excellent videos on making Dragon Rolls
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQZGRohVNFQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fo55iBN9FQs&feature=related

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Caterpillar roll

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Caterpillar rolls with pickled ginger and wasabi

NOTES:
Bamboo mat (makisu) – A 10 inch (25cm) square mat made of thin slates of bamboo tied together with string.
Substitutes: a thin magazine cut to size wrapped in plastic wrap or a few layers of parchment paper cut to size about 10 inch (25cm) square.

Nori – Sheets of seaweed (laver) processed into thin sheets about 7 inches x 8 inches (17.5cm x 20cm) in size. Always re-toast the nori sheet over a gas stove on low flame for 5 to 10 seconds, or place nori on a clean oven rack and bake it in a preheated 350F-degree (180C) oven for 30 seconds. Nori should be sealed tightly in a plastic bag and used within a few months. It can be stored in the freezer. Nori will deteriorate if left out of its sealed package so use quickly.
Substitutes: Thin cooked egg omelette cut to same size as a nori sheet (7 inches by 8 inches or 17.5cm x 20cm). Also soya bean wrappers, rice paper, tofu wrappers, dosas, crepes or an overlapping layer of thinly sliced cooked vegetables.

Japanese Cucumber – Japanese cucumbers are thin-skinned, seedless and contain much less water than normal cucumber.
Substitutes: English or hothouse cucumbers which have been peeled, de-seeded and salted as above. If not available try matchsticks of your favorite crisp vegetable.

Avocado
Substitutes: If not available use slices of roasted capsicum (bell pepper), slices of roasted tomatoes, lightly cooked whole snap (snow) peas, slices of Japanese daikon radish or other cooked thinly sliced vegetables, or slices of ‘sushi’ grade fish such as tuna, yellow tail and red snapper; smoked salmon, pastrami, salami, various colour’s of fish roe, or various colour’s of sesame seeds.

PART 3 : Spiral Sushi Roll
This is easiest ‘decorative’ sushi roll.

Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus 1¾ hours to make the sushi rice

Yield: One Roll, cut into 8 pieces

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2½ cups prepared sushi rice
  • 2 sheets of toasted nori, each sized 7”x8” (17.5cmx20cm)
  • Six assorted fillings, each filling should be the size of a pencil (see note below)

DIRECTIONS:
1.Join 2 sheets of nori by moistening the adjacent edges and overlapping them about ½ inch (12mm).
2.Place this double sheet shiny side down on a rolling mat, part of the nori will extend beyond the mat.
3.Using moist fingers place 2½ cups of rice on the nori and gently rake your fingertips across grains to spread rice evenly, leaving ¼ inch (6mm) nori showing on the both ends of the sheet. Do not mash or squash the rice onto the nori, the rice should appear loosely packed and be evenly distributed over the entire sheet, you should be able to see the nori sheet in a few places.
4.Using your fingers form six grooves (in the same direction that you will be rolling the mat) at even intervals across the bed of rice. Make the first groove about 2 inches (50 mm) from the edge of the nori sheet. Form the grooves by pushing the rice away, do not mash or squash the rice, leave a loose one grain layer of rice in the bottom of the grooves. Level the areas between the grooves where you have pushed the rice.
5.Place your fillings in the grooves. Fill the grooves a little higher than the surrounding rice bed.
6.Then roll the sushi up from the edge closest to you, this will form a spiral pattern of nori, rice and fillings inside the roll.
7.Slice into 8 pieces with a very sharp wet knife, wiping the blade with a damp cloth after each cut.
8.Place the pieces on a platter and garnish.

NOTE:
Make each groove about a finger-width wide they will hold about 1-2 tablespoons of filling. Use fillings that compliment each other and are highly colored. Use parboiled vegetables cut into strips, seafood, left over eel, smoked fish or chicken, whole cooked beans, edible flowers etc….

I used baked seasoned tofu, roasted red bell pepper, carrots, salted and drained Japanese cucumbers, omelette and grilled onions. Grilled vegetables in sushi is absolutely fabulous. Take my word and try it.

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Spiral Roll

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Spiral Roll

 

PART 4 : Nigiri Sushi
Nigiri sushi is the type of sushi most often made in sushi bars. In Japanese, nigiri means “squeeze”.

Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus 1¾ hours to make the sushi rice

Yield: 14-16 pieces of sushi

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups prepared sushi rice
  • 8 pairs of assorted toppings, 200 gms/7 ozs total of fish, meat or vegetables (see note below)
  • 1 tablespoon Wasabi (paste, reconstituted powder) or any other paste to adhere topping to rice

Optional

  • Garnishes such as Ginger (pickled), chilli strips, vegetables flowers etc
  • Thin strips of nori or vegetables (for tying topping on)

DIRECTIONS:
1.When handling sushi rice, make certain your hands are very clean. To keep the rice from sticking to our hands moisten your hands with vinegared water.
2.Form nigiri sushi by scooping up a small amount (about 2 tablespoons) of rice with your forefinger and second finger of your right hand and placing it in your cupped left palm.
3.Use the fingers and thumb of your right hand to form it into a long, narrow mound (about 2 inches x 1 inch wide or 50mm x 25mm) in your cupped palm.
4.Press enough to make the rice hold firmly together. Place the nigiri on a damp cutting board flat side down. Don’t let sushi touch or they’ll stick to each other. At this point, you can cover the sushi with plastic wrap, and they’ll keep at room temperature (not the refrigerator) for several hours.
5.Smear a thin line of wasabi on top of the rice and place the topping piece on it. You may need to press the topping down lightly with your fingers and adjust the shape of the rice accordingly to form an attractive piece of nigiri sushi. If your topping is very loose like fish roe you can place a strip of nori (higher than the rice) around the nigiri and form ‘battleship’ sushi. The cavity that the nori forms holds the topping so it does not fall off.
6.Garnish as desired and use strips of nori (or vegetable) to tie the topping to the nigiri if needed.
7.It is customary to make nigiri sushi in pairs, so make two of each variety.

* Tips: A great video on making nigiri sushi
http://www.howcast.com/videos/270-How-To-Make-Sushi
A great web page on slicing fish for nigiri
http://www.sushilinks.com/sushi-recipes/how-to-buy-fish/index.html

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Nigiri Sushi topped with vegetables

NOTES:
Seafood nigiri must use sushi grade (sashimi grade) fish. Try tuna, red sea bream (red snapper), yellowtail or salmon. Cooked shrimp, cooked crab, cooked meat can also be used! You can use any vegetable you wish try asparagus, pumpkin, carrot, avocado, cucumber, shiitake mushroom, tofu, thin sliced egg omelette, etc… Thinly slice or julienne vegetables, parboiling if necessary tie on with a thin (1/4” or 6mm) strip of nori or vegetable strip wrapped around the whole sushi if needed..

*MOST IMPORTANT ADVICE YOU MUST READ THIS* – If you are using raw fish or raw meat it must be ‘sushi’ grade (sashimi grade) ask your fishmonger or butcher for advice and if in doubt don’t use. Find your local Japanese market and ask them where the best sushi (sashimi) fish is. Maybe you can buy sushi grade fish at your local sushi bar. Purchase flash-frozen sashimi grade fish which is guaranteed to be free of all parasites. Only salt-water fish and shellfish should be consumed raw. Crab and prawn (shrimp) should always be cooked. Sashimi grade fish should have a clean cool smell if it smells fishy it is a sign that the fish is old and cannot be used. If you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system only use cooked ingredients. There is no need to use raw fish or raw meat in sushi.

Resources
Written instructions on making various forms of sushi can be found here http://homepage3.nifty.com/maryy/eng/sushi_roll.htm
http://www.sushiencyclopedia.com/index.html

 

Expenditure:

Sushi Rice………………………….$6.49 for 5 lb……………….HuaXing Asia Store ……….plenty left

Sake……………………………….$2.32 for 300 ml…………….HuaXing Asia Store………..plenty left

Instant seaweed powder……………$2.59 for 64 g……………….HuaXing Asia Store……….plenty left

Japanese Cucumber………………..$0.5 for 2 ………………….HuaXing Asia Store………..gone

Tofu……………………………….$2.49 for 2.65 lb……………HuaXing Asia Store………..plenty left

Sesame,nori mix……………………$2.49………………………HuaXing Asia Store………..half left

Wasabi powder…………………….$1.69………………………HuaXing Asia Store………..half left

Pickled Ginger……………………..$2.99 for 12 oz…………….HuaXing Asia Store…………half left

—————————————————————————————————–

Total………………………………$21.56

Now you know why sushi is so expensive. Anyway this much money will make many many servings till you really get your fill of sushi like me. And yes, this was not all, I bumped into another car on my way out of the store and so this sushi turned out really really expensive.

Daring Cooks Blogroll

Posted in - Red onion, --Pickled Ginger, -Avocado, -Carrot, -Cilantro, -Corn, -Dashi Konbu Instant powder, -Japanese Cucumber, -Nori Sheets, -Red Bell Pepper, -Rice Vinegar, -Sake, -Sesame seeds, -Sushi Rice, -Tofu, -Wasabi, Eggs | Tagged: , , , , , | 11 Comments »

This Halloween we decided to eat some sleeping swaddled Babies

Posted by vivnidhi on November 2, 2009

Yeah the ghoulish spirits entered our house this year and we ate these babies up with some butter and honey.

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This is before baking them……notice the colored little fingers

This month Gretchen of Canela & Comino baked up Tanta Wawas (Peruvian Bread Babies). Now the name itself sounds so much fun and she has made such beautiful loaves (just looking at them will tell you that they were fun to make). She has a lot about Tanta Wawas on her blog. I just remembered ” On November 2nd, these bread babies are taken to the cemeteries in town so they can be left as offerings to those that have passed away and then are broken apart and eaten among the visitors. It is unknown when this Andean tradition began but it is known that from long ago, special breads were made and eaten in this manner.” I knew I’d be making it on Halloween.

As you can see from the picture above, we had a great time making these. The kids colored their hands well (yeah, there was more color on their hands than on the dough). And since they are a little sweet, they were liked by all.

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Look at those hands……project totally worth it

The Recipe:

Tanta Wawa (Peruvian Bread Babies)

Makes 4 small loaves

  • sponge:
    1 egg
    1/2 cup of all purpose flour
    1 tablespoon of sugar
    1/4 teaspoon of yeast
  • dough:
    1/2 cup of all purpose flour
    1 cup of whole wheat flour
    2 cups of bread flour
    1/2 cup of white sugar
    1/4 cup of brown sugar (I used turbinado sugar)
    1 tablespoon of dry yeast
    1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
    1/8 teaspoon of ground cloves
    1/2 teaspoon of sesame seeds
    2 teaspoons of salt
    1/2 cup of milk
    1/4 cup of water
    1/4 cup of butter (I used smart balance)
    2 eggs (at room temperature)
    1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
    1 egg yolk (for painting)

1. In a bowl create the sponge by combining 1/2 cup of flour, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of water, a pinch of instant yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Stir together, cover and let rest for a few hours. …..(Mine was 6-7 hours as it was the day before Halloween)

2. In a bowl, mix the flours, sugar, yeast, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and sesame seeds. Sprinkle over the sponge. Don’t stir. Cover and let rest for a few hours. (Mine rested overnight)

3. Add the 2 eggs and vanilla to the flour mixture. Measure the milk, water and butter in a measuring cup. Heat for 30 seconds in the microwave, pour into the flour mixture. Mix well, then turn out and knead for 10-15 minutes, using additional flour if necessary. Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Form them into ovals. Cover and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

4. Stretch each dough ball into the form of a “fat baby” and place them on baking sheets. Cover with plastic and let the dough babies rise for 2 hours (there won’t be too much rise at this point).

5. Preheat the oven to 180C. Brush the egg yolks evenly over the dough babies. Bake bread at 180C for 30 minutes.

I am sending these swaddled sleeping Tanta Wawa, or Peruvian Bread Babies, to YeastSpotting .

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So, the oven baked up triplets for us :-))

The husband asked why did you not paint them after baking and I wondered why too.

Thanks a lot Gretchen for a real fun challenge. All the Bread Baking Babes have baked up beautiful babies, a must see.

No new expenses for this one ;-). I had everything at home.

Posted in - Bread Flour, - Smart Balance, -All Purpose flour, -Cinnamon, -cloves, -Sesame seeds, -Turbinado Sugar, -Vanilla, -Whole wheat flour, Eggs, Sugar, Yeast | 8 Comments »

Chef Joey’s Cupcake Creations

Posted by vivnidhi on November 1, 2009

We all  try to involve the kids in the kitchen activities but all of us Moms and Dads who have been putting off baking with kids…get Chef Joey’s Cupcake Creations. Illustrations by Jason Hutton make for a great visual appeal. All the kids will want to turn into a chef as the book is about Joey who was born an amazing chef 🙂 .

This book is baked up by Brenda Tuttle who along with her husband Joe were chefs and have now transitioned to food sales. The book also comes with an audio book download but I could not access it since it is still unavailable.

I have a 4 year old son and a 1 1/2 year old daughter. The illustrations are so enticing that my daughter likes to carry the book everywhere she goes. I wish it was a board book cause I do not think that this book will be able to last long with my daughter’s use. The book is about a very young chef Joey who bakes up cupcakes. This book  is an activity book in which there is no real recipe. The recipe is from the back of a chocolate cake mix and the frosting’s recipe is the true sugary stuff that the kids thoroughly enjoy :-).

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We completed this project when my son baked up cupcakes for a potluck with families at his preschool. I dare not use my own chocolate cake mix cause he made sure that he shop with me for the cake mix. We indeed had fun preparing the cupcakes. The sonny boy could not believe that he was allowed to stand so close to the mixer and feel like he is mixing 🙂 .

Everything was close to perfect (exactly matching what the book contained ) until the cupcakes came out of the oven. I showed them to him as they came out and then told him that they were really hot and he should stay away.  I placed them on the counter as I always do. My curious George could not contain his excitement and keep his eyes away from his creations. He got on a stool and got a neat burn on his chin which resembles a goatee !. Ouch! it hurt and…..one more (and probably most important) lesson learnt. I was quite upset with myself for undertaking this project in the first place and then being careless…….but I guess this is also a part of being a Mom. Ouch happens and soon it does not hurt that much 🙂 .

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I had been not sure of the frosting with 3 cups of powdered sugar yet it came out well. I then realized the power of sugar and how much kids adore it :-). Everybody at the preschool loved the cupcakes (although deep inside me, I thought of them as cardboard cupcakes ;-)….I know, I learnt my lessons too) and I also concurred that the cupcakes were indeed moist 🙂 .

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The pride that the boy felt when his friends and their parents picked his cupcake was enormous. He felt really happy and proud. That warmed my heart.  I like to call this entire book a cupcake project and this was totally worth it when I saw my son beaming at the preschool potluck. What I found genuinely lacking was the absence of the word of caution. I know, I know ………not just because the boy got burnt but in general I have found that the written word has a greater effect on kids. When there is no real recipe as such and its all about kids and the book is more about an activity….I wonder why the regular warnings were not mentioned. All the book says is …….”Chef Joey encourages you to find an adult to help you to make these cupcakes”. The regular general notes about safety and precaution must always be mentioned in a book like this.

Initially I wondered why this book was written in the first place. Why could I not buy a chocolate cake mix and have my son help me out with it (rather I help him with it 😉 )…and decorate the cupcakes. The good point about the book is that it is visually appealing which drives the kids and their parents to get out of the comfortable chair (or drag  their tired bodies…..) and complete another project ……..an accomplishment for the child.

This review was written for The Daring Kitchen and it is available on the website right now. I received the book From Tate Publishing via The Daring Kitchen website.

Posted in - Confectioner's Sugar, -Canola Oil, -Chocolate Cake Mix, -Cocoa Powder, Chocolate, Eggs, Milk, Sugar | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Macarons………..

Posted by vivnidhi on October 27, 2009

Daring Bakers finally…..made MACARONS .

measure_w180x180 presents…..

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PLAIN but nevertheless ;-)…..Roasted almond macarons with chocolate ganache

If you have been reading even one food blog these days, you cannot escape macarons ( A good history lesson here 😉 ) I  can speak for the food blogosphere , Macarons are a rage these days. I had been dreaming of eating these and dreading baking these myself. I kept reminding the husband what is a must eat…..whenever we visit Paris 🙂 . Mon Paree is a soft spot with me (as anyone who knows me is aware 😉 ). It’s one place I never want to visit on a budget 🙂 . David Lebovitz’s 10 Insanely Delicious things you shouldn’t miss in Paris will be a starting point 🙂 .

Anyway , moving on, Ami finally chose macarons for this month’s daring Bakers challenge, finally giving the weak hearted like me an incentive to try it out. The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

In Ami’s words “French macaroons are notorious for being difficult to master. Type in “macaroon,” “French macaroon” or “macaron” in your search engine of choice, and you will be inundated not only with bakeries offering these tasty little cookies, but scores and even hundreds of blogs all attempting to find the perfect recipe, the perfect technique. Which one is right? Which captures the perfect essence of macaroons? The answer is all of them and none of them. Macaroons are highly subjective, the subject of passionate, almost Talmudic study and debate. Chewy? Crisp? Age your egg whites? Ground the nuts or use nut meal or nut flour? Cooked sugar syrup, or confectioners’ sugar? In the words of a therapist, what do you think is the ideal macaroon? The answer lies within you.

Will French macaroon supplant the cupcake as the next sweet trend? There’s no way to know. I couldn’t have predicted the resurgence of leggings, yet here they are.”

I am sorry Ami , I did not use the recipe given. I read each and every post on the daring bakers forum and everybody seemed to be getting more success with Helen‘s recipe and so…….I decided to tread carefully on my first experiment.

Oh..I have come to know that these are often called macaroons in United States though they also refer to another coconut cookie as well.

Ok ….now to my “Hurrah” moment. I got it right the first time. Reason: I have made it a 100 times in my head. It was completely different when I actually made it yet I knew what I was doing. What I should be doing and what can lead to what. Two people require special mention and thanks as without them, I would not have been able to complete the challenge: 1. Helen of Tartelette and 2. Audax Artifex of Audax Artifex.  The recipe and instructions I used to make my first macarons are Helen‘s. The explanations, clarifications, warnings and encouragement……..even conversions are from Audax. He provided so much information that I did not have to even use my brains for menial conversions.

Roasted Almond macarons: (Makes approx. 11 macarons and hence around 22 shells)

  • Egg White 1 (approx. 32 g …aged 4 days in the refrigerator) brought to room temperature before whipping
  • Icing Sugar 64 g
  • Granulated Sugar 16 g (3 1/2 tsp. )
  • Roasted almond meal 35 g

1. I measured these with my tipsy weighing scale (which my kids have fiddled with well) and the least count of which is 25 g …….so do not get deterred by the weighing scale (oh…only if you are like me ) and take the plunge. It was fun :-).

2. First I toasted the almonds under the broiler and kept checking every two minutes. When the almonds were browned uniformly, removed them for the oven and let them cool. Once the almonds were cool, I used my blender to grind them along with the icing sugar. This helps the almonds not clump up. Audax also mentions that the grinder should not get  hot. Well! mine did…..I was scared but after sifting, the mix seemed fine to me.

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Sifted Ground almonds and icing sugar

3. I whipped the egg white to a firm foam. Then added the granulated sugar till the egg whites were firm and glossy. I had heard that if the egg whites are whipped right, the bowl can be turned upside down and it won’t fall off. Well! I took  the plunge with confidence and here we are:

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Whipped Egg Whites…..without sugar and after addition of sugar

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There is whipped egg in there….really……

4. I then used this video to learn how to fold the almond mixture in the egg whites. I may have required 10-12 strokes to get it to magma like consistency. The key is that when the mix is dropped back in itself. It should mix with the mix soon and no trace should remain.

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My final macaron batter

5. Then I piped it on marked parchment paper. Here was the problem. I did not have a big enough tip with my piping bag. Next time, I will just use a ziploc cut in a corner. 

6. Left the piped macaron shells to dry out for half an hour. Up to an hour is fine I believe. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 300 F . When the shells have formed a skin on top, I used another baking tray under the piped one (another Audax tip…..to ensure even heating) and slid them in the oven. In spite of the fact that I had all kinds of sizes, baking for 10 minutes was good.

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Please do not look at their amoebic shapes, they will be better next time……oh, this is after the skins have formed on top……….30 minutes after piping

7. When warm, the macarons like to stick well to the parchment paper. I used Helen’s tip and sprinkled/sprayed a few droplets of water under the parchment on the tray while still warm. Then I used a plastic knife to slide the macaron shells off the parchment. Worked very well for me.

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Out of the oven… oh… what joy,

I was almost expecting flat grainy biscuits…..but I got this……..

and because I can do it………….U can too

Chocolate Ganache Recipe:

I used unsweetened chocolate cause I knew that the macaron shells are very sweet (yes I love licking all my cake batters 🙂 and by now know before hand , how the baked product will taste based on the batter)

  • Unsweetened chocolate 2 oz. grated or chopped fine
  • Sugar 1/4 cup
  • Butter 1 Tbsp.
  • Whipping Cream 1/4 cup
  • Vanilla extract 1/4 tsp.

1. Add chocolate , butter and whipping cream in a bowl.

2. Heat the whipping cream and sugar in a heavy bottomed pan on low heat. Do not let it boil or form a skin. Keep whisking to dissolve the sugar.

3. Add hot cream in the bowl with the chocolate and mix well. Whisk to achieve a smooth texture.

4. As it cools, the mixture thickens. Pipe it on top of half the shells. Cover the piped chocolate ones with plain shells and you are ready to munch.

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Please do try one …………(These are all that were left by the time I could take pictures)

Bottom line is : Macarons are quite do-able. As Helen says…..” if you find a recipe that works for you, stick to it, no matter whose it is, especially if you are new to macarons and don’t make them that often.” I will stick with hers…….. 🙂 . My opinion is that one must not get intimidated by macarons and do try them at home unless you can afford Laduree‘s all the time :-).  Some may find it too sweet but kids love it. Here we are in the sniffles season so kids taste buds are very difficult to please……macarons made my work easier as there were smiles all around. My son couldn’t say enough of “Thank you Mama” AND ‘I just want half more” . Well! if you have kids ….do make these………until we visit Paris ….that is……..I like to dream 🙂 .

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Bad light……..but great taste

Before I close, I really must thank Ami for the challenge, Helen for  such a foolproof recipe and Audax for the tremendous support. This has been a great challenge and I loved learning a great skill. I have 5 days aged 3 egg whites in he refrigerator. This time I will be playing as I am not that scared. Looking forward to the adventure. If I find the time, I will certainly update with better pictures.

Update Nov. 1 : I did forget the expenses; didn’t I ?

Expenditure :

Confectioner’s Sugar ……..$2.74 ……from Kroger (I am absolutely done with this store….too rude for me to handle)

Posted in - Confectioner's Sugar, -Almonds, -Butter, -Cream, -Egg Whites, -Unsweetened Chocolate, -Vanilla, Eggs, Sugar | Tagged: , , , , | 8 Comments »

Puff Pastry……..Just Chill!

Posted by vivnidhi on September 27, 2009

Puff pastry is the most delicious thing to eat….all the buttery goodness and crisp flaky layers…..I can always drool. I would not have imagined making those in this life if it wasn’t the Daring Bakers……..prompting, coaxing, luring, guiding and what not. This bunch is really out there to make you daring in life.

In India, puff pastry with spicy potato & mixed vegetable filling were called patties and they were the most delicious things you could lay your hands on. It would always be the first item to finish in a get-together. Even the soggy ones would be gone before the rest of the stuff. These are usually bought from either a canteen or a local bakery and I somehow associate it to my college days. For some strange reason (maybe the egg wash) I never remember eating it at home. Those are my memories associated with the puff. After coming to the US, a friend of mine told me how easy it was to get frozen puff pastry here and make patties. Well! when I got shopping, I bought phyllo dough :-). No matter how hard I tried …….I would not be able to make patties…..whatever I made was delicious but not THAT. I do not even remember if I made the real thing for my in-laws when they were here (or maybe I did on my last trip) …..they too are very fond of it like me… But some years back, I discovered the puff pastry in the grocery store and I attained the joy of finally making Patties at home. I have a killer filling recipe (Thanks to my Mother in law) who taught me the Samosa filling and I use a similar method for this filling. My Dad was really pleased when I made it for him and it’s no easy job pleasing him, he has a very keen sense of taste.

BUT I hardly ever make it……..all that butter…..I think my life is more precious than patties. OK, haven’t I been talking a bit too much of patties? Obviously doesn’t end here……the saga continues…….

The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ Challenge has been chosen by Steph of a whisk and a spoon. Steph chose Vols-au-Vent, which we are pretty sure in French means, “After one bite we could die and go to heaven!” 😉  These are pronounced “vo-o-voh” (Let me make use of High School French 🙂 )…….it’s ok to not pronounce “Hors-de-oeuvres” correctly for the longest time ;-). The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

No dessert vols-au vent here, masala filling as always 😉 .

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Spicy Vegetable filling Vols-au-vent

The Recipe:

Equipment:
-food processor (will make mixing dough easy, but I imagine this can be done by hand as well)
-rolling pin
-pastry brush
-metal bench scraper (optional, but recommended)
-plastic wrap
-baking sheet
-parchment paper
-silicone baking mat (optional, but recommended)
-set of round cutters (optional, but recommended)
-sharp chef’s knife
-fork
-oven
-cooling rack

Prep Times:
-about 4-5 hours to prepare the puff pastry dough (much of this time is inactive, while you wait for the dough to chill between turns…it can be stretched out over an even longer period of time if that better suits your schedule)
-about 1.5 hours to shape, chill and bake the vols-au-vent after your puff pastry dough is complete

Forming and Baking the Vols-au-Vent

Yield: 1/3 of the puff pastry recipe below will yield about 8-10 1.5” vols-au-vent or 4 4” vols-au-vent

In addition to the equipment listed above, you will need:
-well-chilled puff pastry dough (recipe below)
-egg wash (1 egg or yolk beaten with a small amount of water)
-your filling of choice

Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Using a knife or metal bench scraper, divided your chilled puff pastry dough into three equal pieces. Work with one piece of the dough, and leave the rest wrapped and chilled. (If you are looking to make more vols-au-vent than the yield stated above, you can roll and cut the remaining two pieces of dough as well…if not, then leave refrigerated for the time being or prepare it for longer-term freezer storage. See the “Tips” section below for more storage info.)

On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick. Transfer it to the baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting.

(This assumes you will be using round cutters, but if you do not have them, it is possible to cut square vols-au-vents using a sharp chef’s knife.) For smaller, hors d’oeuvre sized vols-au-vent, use a 1.5” round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles. For larger sized vols-au-vent, fit for a main course or dessert, use a 4” cutter to cut out about 4 circles. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to twist your cutters back and forth or drag your knife through the dough. Half of these rounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides. (Save any scrap by stacking—not wadding up—the pieces…they can be re-rolled and used if you need extra dough. If you do need to re-roll scrap to get enough disks, be sure to use any rounds cut from it for the bases, not the ring-shaped sides.)

Using a ¾-inch cutter for small vols-au-vent, or a 2- to 2.5-inch round cutter for large, cut centers from half of the rounds to make rings. These rings will become the sides of the vols-au-vent, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bake off as little “caps” for you vols-au-vent, or put them in the scrap pile.

Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork (prick them lightly, making sure not to go all the way through the pastry) and lightly brush them with egg wash. Place the rings directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to adhere. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to drip any down the sides (which may inhibit rise). If you are using the little “caps,” dock and egg wash them as well.

Refrigerate the assembled vols-au-vent on the lined baking sheet while you pre-heat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). (You could also cover and refrigerate them for a few hours at this point.)

Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a silicon baking mat (preferred because of its weight) or another sheet of parchment over top of the shells. This will help them rise evenly. Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF (180ºC), and remove the silicon mat or parchment sheet from the top of the vols-au-vent. If the centers have risen up inside the vols-au-vent, you can gently press them down. Continue baking (with no sheet on top) until the layers are golden, about 15-20 minutes more. (If you are baking the center “caps” they will likely be finished well ahead of the shells, so keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when browned.)

Remove to a rack to cool. Cool to room temperature for cold fillings or to warm for hot fillings.

Fill and serve.

*For additional rise on the larger-sized vols-au-vents, you can stack one or two additional ring layers on top of each other (using egg wash to “glue”). This will give higher sides to larger vols-au-vents, but is not advisable for the smaller ones, whose bases may not be large enough to support the extra weight.

*Although they are at their best filled and eaten soon after baking, baked vols-au-vent shells can be stored airtight for a day.

*Shaped, unbaked vols-au-vent can be wrapped and frozen for up to a month (bake from frozen, egg-washing them first).

Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough

From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough

Steph’s note: This recipe makes more than you will need for the quantity of vols-au-vent stated above. While I encourage you to make the full recipe of puff pastry, as extra dough freezes well, you can halve it successfully if you’d rather not have much leftover.

There is a wonderful on-line video from the PBS show “Baking with Julia” that accompanies the book. In it, Michel Richard and Julia Child demonstrate making puff pastry dough (although they go on to use it in other applications). They do seem to give slightly different ingredient measurements verbally than the ones in the book…I listed the recipe as it appears printed in the book. http://video.pbs.org/video/1174110297/search/Pastry

Ingredients:
2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter

plus extra flour for dusting work surface

Mixing the Dough:

Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.

Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)

Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that’s about 1″ thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.

Incorporating the Butter:

Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10″ square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with “ears,” or flaps.

Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don’t just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8″ square.

To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.

Making the Turns:

Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24″ (don’t worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24″, everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).

With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.

Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24″ and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.

Chilling the Dough:

If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you’ve completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.

The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.

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Puff Pastry dough……..before rolling out & 1/4 of the dough rolled out

Steph’s extra tips:

-While this is not included in the original recipe we are using (and I did not do this in my own trials), many puff pastry recipes use a teaspoon or two of white vinegar or lemon juice, added to the ice water, in the détrempe dough. This adds acidity, which relaxes the gluten in the dough by breaking down the proteins, making rolling easier. You are welcome to try this if you wish.

-Keep things cool by using the refrigerator as your friend! If you see any butter starting to leak through the dough during the turning process, rub a little flour on the exposed dough and chill straight away. Although you should certainly chill the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns, if you feel the dough getting to soft or hard to work with at any point, pop in the fridge for a rest.

-Not to sound contradictory, but if you chill your paton longer than the recommended time between turns, the butter can firm up too much. If this seems to be the case, I advise letting it sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes to give it a chance to soften before proceeding to roll. You don’t want the hard butter to separate into chunks or break through the dough…you want it to roll evenly, in a continuous layer.

-Roll the puff pastry gently but firmly, and don’t roll your pin over the edges, which will prevent them from rising properly. Don’t roll your puff thinner than about about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick, or you will not get the rise you are looking for.

-Try to keep “neat” edges and corners during the rolling and turning process, so the layers are properly aligned. Give the edges of the paton a scooch with your rolling pin or a bench scraper to keep straight edges and 90-degree corners.

-Brush off excess flour before turning dough and after rolling.

-Make clean cuts. Don’t drag your knife through the puff or twist your cutters too much, which can inhibit rise.

-When egg washing puff pastry, try not to let extra egg wash drip down the cut edges, which can also inhibit rise.

-Extra puff pastry dough freezes beautifully. It’s best to roll it into a sheet about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick (similar to store-bought puff) and freeze firm on a lined baking sheet. Then you can easily wrap the sheet in plastic, then foil (and if you have a sealable plastic bag big enough, place the wrapped dough inside) and return to the freezer for up to a few months. Defrost in the refrigerator when ready to use.

-You can also freeze well-wrapped, unbaked cut and shaped puff pastry (i.e., unbaked vols-au-vent shells). Bake from frozen, without thawing first.

-Homemade puff pastry is precious stuff, so save any clean scraps. Stack or overlap them, rather than balling them up, to help keep the integrity of the layers. Then give them a singe “turn” and gently re-roll. Scrap puff can be used for applications where a super-high rise is not necessary (such as palmiers, cheese straws, napoleons, or even the bottom bases for your vols-au-vent).

You can find lots more general tips for making puff pastry on-line, including here:
http://www.baking911.com/pastry/puff.htm

I encourage everyone to watch the on-line video from the PBS show “Baking with Julia” that accompanies the book:
http://video.pbs.org/video/1174110297/search/Pastry

Spicy Filling Recipe:

  • Potatoes 1 or 2 (depends on your inclination) chopped in small cubes 
  • Mixed Vegetables (carrots, green beans, peas ..) 1 1/2 cups (I used frozen mix as I was in a rush)
  • Fresh Ginger washed, scrubbed and minced  2″ piece
  • Green chilli minced 1 (optional)
  • Canola Oil 2 Tbsp. (Vegetable oil is fine too)
  • Cumin seeds 1 tsp.
  • Asafoetida 1/4 tsp.
  • Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp.
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander seeds dry roasted and ground coarse 2 Tbsp.
  • Amchur/Dry mango powder 1 Tbsp.
  • Garam Masala 1/2 tsp.
  • Cilantro leaves torn 1/4 cup (optional)

Heat oil in the wok. Add cumin seeds & asafoetida. When the spices seem to sizzle, add half the ginger and green chilli (if using). These do taste good when a little spicier than usual. Add the potatoes and mixed vegetables. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover the wok.

When the potatoes & the vegetables become tender, add all the remaining ingredients. Mix well and cover again for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and finally add the cilantro leaves and mix well. The filling’s ready!

The video is a must watch. I can’t call my tryst with puff pastry a complete success. You must check out the Daring Bakers Blogroll to see the real stuff. But this has tons of potential. I need some more practice and better butter 🙂 to make the perfect puff pastry. So, you can see I do not have high standards for myself on this one. I am quite pleased. I took some at my Son’s preschool potluck (oh yeah 😉 ) and they were very well received. I brought none back. I made a crude galette with spicy peas …of the leftover dough scraps for  friends…….again everything was gobbled leaving none for me..(everybody forgot :-)) ) Anyway, I couldn’t be happier…..not being able to taste the final product gave me the kind of joy that eating the whole thing wouldn’t have.

Expenditure is left for tomorrow …….I need to sleep.

Tomorrow is here already!!

Expenditure:

Cake Flour………From Kroger……………………….$ 3.14

Butter…………..From Walmart……………………..$ 1.98

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Total…………………………………………………..$ 5.12

Posted in -All Purpose flour, -Asafoetida, -Butter, -Cake Flour, -Canola Oil, -Carrot, -Cilantro, -Coriander, -Cumin seeds, -Dry Mango Powder, -Garam Masala, -Ginger, -Green Beans, -Peas, -Red chili powder, Eggs | 13 Comments »

Daring Bakers Bake Dobos Torte

Posted by vivnidhi on August 27, 2009

Whisk at 180 x 180 (largest)presents

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My bejeweled Dobos Torte

The August 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers’ cookbook Kaffeehaus:  Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

So, what is the Dobos Torta (or Torte)?

The Dobos Torta is a five-layer sponge cake, filled with a rich chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel. (You may come across recipes which have anywhere between six and 12 layers of cake; there are numerous family variations!) It was invented in 1885 by József C. Dobos, a Hungarian baker, and it rapidly became famous throughout Europe for both its extraordinary taste and its keeping properties. The recipe was a secret until Dobos retired in 1906 and gave the recipe to the Budapest Confectioners’ and Gingerbread Makers’ Chamber of Industry, providing that every member of the chamber can use it freely.

Equipment

  • 2 baking sheets
  • 9” (23cm) springform tin and 8” cake tin, for templates
  • mixing bowls (1 medium, 1 large)
  • a sieve
  • a double boiler (a large saucepan plus a large heat-proof mixing bowl which fits snugly over the top of the pan)
  • a small saucepan
  • a whisk (you could use a balloon whisk for the entire cake, but an electric hand whisk or stand mixer will make life much easier)
  • metal offset spatula
  • sharp knife
  • a 7 1/2” cardboard cake round, or just build cake on the base of a springform tin.
  • piping bag and tip, optional

Prep times

  • Sponge layers 20 mins prep, 40 mins cooking total if baking each layer individually.
  • Buttercream: 20 mins cooking. Cooling time for buttercream: about 1 hour plus 10 minutes after this to beat and divide.
  • Caramel layer: 10-15 minutes.
  • Assembly of whole cake: 20 minutes

Sponge cake layers

  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner’s (icing) sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour (SUBSTITUTE 95g plain flour + 17g cornflour (cornstarch) sifted together)
  • pinch of salt

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) caster (ultrafine or superfine white) sugar
  • 4oz (110g) bakers chocolate or your favorite dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature.

Caramel topping

  • 1 cup (200g) caster (superfine or ultrafine white) sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (180 ml) water
  • 8 teaspoons (40 ml) lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, rice bran, sunflower)

Finishing touches

  • a 7” cardboard round
  • 12 whole hazelnuts, peeled and toasted
  • ½ cup (50g) peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts

Directions for the sponge layers:

NB. The sponge layers can be prepared in advance and stored interleaved with parchment and well-wrapped in the fridge overnight.

1.Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C).
2.Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit the baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 9″ (23cm) springform tin as a template and a dark pencil or a pen, trace a circle on each of the papers, and turn them over (the circle should be visible from the other side, so that the graphite or ink doesn’t touch the cake batter.)
3.Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner’s (icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes. (You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don’t have a mixer.)

4.In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner’s (icing)sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of white visible. Combine the flour and salt. Sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour.
5.Line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. Using a small offset spatula, spread about 3/4cup of the batter in an even layer, filling in the traced circle on one baking sheet. Bake on the top rack for 5 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed gently in the centre and the edges are lightly browned. While this cake bakes, repeat the process on the other baking sheet, placing it on the centre rack. When the first cake is done, move the second cake to the top rack. Invert the first cake onto a flat surface and carefully peel off the paper. Slide the cake layer back onto the paper and let stand until cool. Rinse the baking sheet under cold running water to cool, and dry it before lining with another parchment. Continue with the remaining papers and batter to make a total of six layers. Completely cool the layers. Using an 8″ springform pan bottom or plate as a template, trim each cake layer into a neat round. (A small serrated knife is best for this task.)

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Whipped egg whites and yellows whipped with sugar

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Divide the egg whites in 4 parts

First pic: first part of egg whites mixed in Second pic: Folding in of the last part of egg white

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First pic : Folding in flour & second pic: 3/4 cup cake batter in a spring form pan

 

Directions for the chocolate buttercream:

NB. This can be prepared in advance and kept chilled until required.

1.Prepare a double-boiler: quarter-fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil.
2.Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened, about five minutes. You can use a balloon whisk or electric hand mixer for this.
3.Fit bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan (water should not touch bowl) and lower the heat to a brisk simmer. Cook the egg mixture, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes until you see it starting to thicken a bit. Whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and cook, stirring, for a further 2-3 minutes.
4.Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room temperature. It should be quite thick and sticky in consistency.
5.When cool, beat in the soft butter, a small piece (about 2 tablespoons/30g) at a time. An electric hand mixer is great here, but it is possible to beat the butter in with a spatula if it is soft enough. You should end up with a thick, velvety chocolate buttercream. Chill while you make the caramel topping.

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Chopped chocolate and eggs with sugar

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Whipped eggs and boiling water ready for cooking

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Cooking buttercream on double boiler and the finished product

 

Directions for the caramel topping:

1.Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top. To make the caramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and butter the paper. Place the reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into 12 equal wedges. Lightly oil a thin, sharp knife and an offset metal spatula.
2.Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high and boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally and washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-colored caramel.
3.The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make sure you have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready. I also find it helps if the cake layer hasn’t just been taken out of the refrigerator. I made mine ahead of time and the cake layer was cold and the toffee set very, very quickly—too quickly for me to spread it. Immediately pour all of the hot caramel over the cake layer. You will have some leftover most probably but more is better than less and you can always make nice toffee pattern using the extra to decorate. Using the offset spatula, quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a pastry brush between cutting), cut through the scored marks to divide the caramel layer into 12 equal wedges. Cool another minute or so, then use the edge of the knife to completely cut and separate the wedges using one firm slice movement (rather than rocking back and forth which may produce toffee strands). Cool completely.

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Preparation for caramel layer

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Assembling the cake

I brushed hazelnut coffee(unsweetened) on the layers as I found the buttercream a tad too sweet

 

Assembling the Dobos

1.Divide the buttercream into six equal parts.
2.Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of a 7 1/2” cardboard round and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the cake.
3.Optional: press the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.
4.Propping a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. If you have any leftover buttercream, you can pipe rosettes under each hazelnut or a large rosette in the centre of the cake. Refrigerate the cake under a cake dome until the icing is set, about 2 hours. Let slices come to room temperature for the best possible flavor.

I used ground cashews and pistachios for topping. I even topped the caramel layer with these nut powders and then caramel or chocolate on top.

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Well! It’s been cut

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Here’s a slice…..The top layers are our favorite……:-))……you won’t like it if you do not like sticky, chewy….the sonny and I do :-))

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My favorite picture : Just playing with caramel

Verdict :

The cake overall tasted pretty good. I am not sure if I will make it again.

Too many eggs 🙂 . The sponge layers were easy to work with but would not have tasted good without some liquor brushed on it.

The buttercream is quick and easy but again I found it less firm than other buttercreams I have worked with. I don’t think I would make it again.

A lot of daring bakers did not like the lemony sticky chewy caramel. I LOVED it. The son and I can’t get enough of it. Of course I let him eat it cause I should not ….right 😉 . I will make this a lot of times 🙂 .

I may have made better components of this cake but all assembled together and chilled well, we all really enjoyed the cake. Thanks a lot Angela and Lorraine.

Expenditure:

Bakers semisweet chocolate (8 oz.) …….from Walmart…………………$2.88

Butter (1 lb.)………………………….from Walmart………………….$1.98

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Total…………………………………………………………………….$4.86

Not bad at all for such a delicious end product. Do not forget to check out the other daring bakers on the blogroll. Outstanding cakes….you will be surprised.

Posted in - Confectioner's Sugar, -Butter, -Canola Oil, -Cashews, -lemon, -Pistachios, -Semisweet Chocolate, -Vanilla, Eggs, Sugar | Tagged: , , , , | 9 Comments »

Last of the oldies: Daring Bakers June Challenge : Bakewell Tart….er…Pudding

Posted by vivnidhi on August 10, 2009

Perhaps the pictures I took were so bad that I never felt like posting. But, nevertheless, I must say that I made this delicious dessert in the month of June when I was supposed to, I don’t know why I did not post it. It was my first time making frangipane……..”it was lovely indeed” ……….as the English would say 😉

It’s easy and quite delicious. The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800’s in England.  You can read all about the bakewell tart on these blogs and it is a very interesting read. I am just on one of my “too tired to write sessions” today.

The Mighty Flame at 180 x 180 (largest)presents:

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Bakewell Tart ….er pudding

Looks plain but trust me ….tastes delicious

The recipe:

Makes one 23cm (9” tart)
Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment needed: 23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges), rolling pin

One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Bench flour
250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, flaked almonds

Assembling the tart
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it’s overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.

The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.

When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Jasmine’s notes:
• If you cannot have nuts, you can try substituting Victoria sponge for the frangipane. It’s a pretty popular popular cake, so you shouldn’t have any troubles finding one in one of your cookbooks or through a Google search.
• You can use whichever jam you wish, but if you choose something with a lot of seeds, such as raspberry or blackberry, you should sieve them out.
• The jam quantity can be anywhere from 60ml (1/4 cup) to 250ml (1cup), depending upon how “damp” and strongly flavored your preserves are. I made it with the lesser quantity of home made strawberry jam, while Annemarie made it with the greater quantity of cherry jam; we both had fabulous results. If in doubt, just split the difference and spread 150ml (2/3cup) on the crust.
Annemarie’s notes:
• The excess shortcrust can be rolled out and cut into cookie-shapes (heck, it’s pretty darned close to a shortbread dough).

Sweet shortcrust pastry

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film

  • 225g (8oz) all purpose flour
    30g (1oz) sugar
    2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
    110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
    2 (2) egg yolks
    2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
    15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

Jasmine’s notes:
• I make this using vanilla salt and vanilla sugar.
• If you wish, you can substitute the seeds of one vanilla bean, one teaspoon of vanilla paste or one teaspoon of vanilla extract for the almond extract

Frangipane

Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

  • 125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
    125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
    3 (3) eggs
    2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
    125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
    30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

We had gone strawberry picking that weekend and so of course I prepared some quick strawberry jam. No pectin, nothing but strawberries, sugar and lemon juice….that’s it and folks at home could not have enough of it…..actually there wasn’t t enough of it as I used it up in the tart 🙂 .

Optional element: Home made jam or curd
We know several amongst us are rather jammy with making their own jams and preserves. Go ahead get wild and creative or simply showcase whatever’s local and in season. If you haven’t jammed before and want some hints or recipes, take a look at Bernardin’s homecanning.ca. If you want to just make some jam for this challenge and not go through sterilizing jars and snap lids, you can try a pan jam, similar to Jasmine’s Blackberry Pan Jam. If you do use homemade jam, please include your recipe or the link to the one you used in your post.

Quick Strawberry Pan Jam (similar to Jasmine‘s pan jam)

  • Strawberries 2 cups cleaned and quartered (measured after cutting)
  • sugar 1 1/2 cups
  • Lemon Juice 1 Tbsp.

On a heavy bottomed pan, heat the strawberries till they boil and add the sugar and lemon juice. Let this cook on medium heat till a  successful plate test can be done. For the plate test, place a plate in the freezer or chill it well. Pour a big drop of jam on this cold plate and give it 30 seconds. If the jam has reached the right consistency, it will very slowly spread a little. More about jam making here.

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Strawberry Pan Jam

I also made some strawberry leather ( I mentioned we went strawberry picking, so, yeah I had a bounty)  for “decoration” which looked good but bad pictures…. Anyway, the boy is nuts about this fruit leather and I prefer making it at home to avoid preservatives and less sugar compared to store bought. Very simple to make, patience is the only virtue required in making fruit leather. Most types of fruits can be used to prepare fruit leather. Please leave melons :-)). I have made fruit leather out of strawberries and kiwi fruit so far. It’s basically like aam papad that we would eat just with other fruits….kids love it. Unfortunately, I have no pictures…next time.

Strawberry Leather:

The Recipe:

  • Strawberries 2 cups cleaned, hulled and pureed
  • sugar  1/4 cup
  • Lemon juice 1 tsp.

1. The same ingredients as jam but tastes quite different. Lemon juice is required both here and in jam to reduce crystallization of sugar. I remember jam bottles which would have rims covered in sugar. Anyway, so far I have only made in small quantities which lasts me about 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator and no sugar crystallization so far. Anyway, puree the strawberries and strain them. I just add the strawberry seeds to the jam….I like the crunch in it .

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Strawberries for strawberry leather

2. In a heavy bottomed pan, add sugar, strained puree and lemon juice and heat on medium heat. Stop after about 20 minutes or until the mixture has thickened considerably yet should be of pouring and spreading consistency. Try your hand at it……..the result will be delicious anyway 🙂 .

3. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Parchment paper is a necessity for making fruit leather. Spread the mix as thinly and uniformly as possible. We don’t want to spread very thin as it will get crisp or worse burn but too thick will take an eternity. About 1/4 inch is good enough.

4. Preheat the oven to 200 F. Keep the baking sheet in the oven and forget for at least an hour. After the first hour (for a small batch) I like to check every half hour. The mixture keeps drying and when it’s ready, there won’t be any soft portion left & will also not be very sticky.

5. Let it cool completely and store wrapped in parchment. Can be cut as desired. The result is worth the effort.

July2_07

Bad attempt really……bakewell tart was delicious with some whipped topping

The red stuff is strawberry leather roses…..bet it didn’t look as bad as here 🙂

We all thoroughly enjoyed this bakewell tart…..er..pudding. It’s a great & easy make ahead dessert. We liked it better the next day. 

Did not cost me anything as I made half the quantity and had everything at home.

Posted in - Confectioner's Sugar, -All Purpose flour, -Almond extract, -Almonds, -Butter, -lemon, -Strawberry, Eggs, Sugar | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Daring Bakers July bring Cookies…….

Posted by vivnidhi on July 28, 2009

Vanilla at 180 x 180 (largest)brings…..

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The boy can’t stop himself 😉 Plum jam cookies and lots more…….

Jaana tha Japan , pahunch gaye Cheen…………Had to go to Japan , and I reached China…. You don’t get it……yeah…..oh well! the daring baker challenge this month was mallow cookies and milanos….long live Pepperidge Farm! I ended up making those and a fusion…..which we all absolutely loved.

These cookies pictured above are truly the best cookies I have ever made. If you liked and ate jam biscuits (called so in India) in your childhood, these cookies will bring those memories back. I surprised myself……..these tasted so good.

The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

The mallow cookies were great, I would have never dreamt of making homemade marshmallows but homemade taste so………..good and you can flavor them just as you would want. Thanks a lot Nicole, for this challenge.The mallows biscuit was really delicious. The no. of cookies mentioned in the original recipe is all messed up….which actually worked in my favor 🙂 .  I loved it so much that I made some plum jam and filled them up and loved the result.

Milanos were quite a disappointment and I would certainly not want to make those again. The milanos dough was like tuiles batter yet not even that….I give up.

The husband was quite excited about Milano cookies and so I made them first, in fact packed a few for a friend, but it was a lot of effort in trying to make them the same size…..and the end result was not worth it… I just made about 2 dozen of them.After that I split the batter in half , spread on the parchment on the entire tray and baked for 5 minutes in the oven. Cut them with a pizza cutter in squares and back in oven for 5-7 minutes more. Same with the rest of the batter. Filled them up up with the chocolate ganache and anything with chocolate gets eaten here. I do not recommend this and will not be making them again 🙂 . I should mention the chocolate ganache tasted good and the husband even helped me zest the whole orange. What do you think…….I will need help again some other time too..I must not forget the dear husband 🙂

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Don’t they look cute…….

Milanos for friends…….hope they ate it up soon…..before they turned chewy…….oh no….boo hoo hoo

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Rest of the Milanos……..:-)

 

Here come the mallows…..pretty good cookies , if one is fond of marshmallows. We are not too fond of them, yet no cookies left of the 28 I made.

The recipe:

Mallows(Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website

Prep Time: 10 min
Inactive Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Serves: about 2 dozen cookies

• 3 cups (375grams/13.23oz) all purpose flour
• 1/2 cup (112.5grams/3.97oz) white sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 3/8 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter
• 3 eggs, whisked together
• Homemade marshmallows, recipe follows
• Chocolate glaze, recipe follows

1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients.
2. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy.
3. Add the eggs and mix until combine.
4. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with clingfilm or parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
5. When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
7. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 inches cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough.
8. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.
9. Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours.
10. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat.
11. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze.
12. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.
13. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.

Note: if you don’t want to make your own marshmallows, you can cut a large marshmallow in half and place on the cookie base. Heat in a preheated 350-degree oven to slump the marshmallow slightly, it will expand and brown a little. Let cool, then proceed with the chocolate dipping.

Homemade marshmallows:
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/4 cup light corn syrup
• 3/4 cup (168.76 grams/5.95oz) sugar
• 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
• 2 tablespoons cold water
• 2 egg whites , room temperature
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.
2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.
3. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.
4. Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.
5. Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff.
6. Transfer to a pastry bag.

Chocolate glaze:
• 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
• 2 ounces cocoa butter or vegetable oil

1. Melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water.

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Marshmallow cookies before the dip in chocolate

I got 28 cookies by using 1/4 of the cookie dough. Made 1/2 the amount of marshmallows and chocolate glaze. Since my glaze eventually bloomed, I covered them up in Milanos ganache…….the Milano cookie filling :-)………yeah that’s me!! Tasted good, nevertheless 😉

Chocolate Ganache:

• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 1 orange, zested

I also prepared some plum jam….just because I had some plums I had to use. Filled them up in the mallows crust, sprinkled with sugar and loved , loved it! Please do try if you are in the mood to make cookies, true labor of love , forming so many small bites but totally worth it ……..as you will see in pictures below 🙂

Plum Jam Recipe:

  • Plums 2 1/2 cups …..pitted, and chopped fine
  • Sugar 1 1/2 cups
  • Lemon juice  1 Tbsp

That’s it….I added all of this in a heavy bottomed saucepan with 2 Tbsp. water. Cooked it down till I could do the plate test. For the plate test, place a plate in the freezer or chill it well. Pour a big drop of jam on this cold plate and give it 30 seconds. If the jam has reached the right consistency, it will very slowly spread a little. More about jam making here. I made a small quantity, hence it went directly to the refrigerator.

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Pick one up……these are ready for a sprinkling of sugar

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Here are the mallows…..this is how they looked

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Perfect with coffee….for some great mornings………

I just took a picture as the husband had set the table

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Somebody else had a great time too……….

It’s been one whole year being a part of the Daring Bakers for me. I have come a long way…..I remember my first challenge Filbert Gateau….I remember my delight. Now I dare to experiment on my own…..Thank you Lis and Ivonne and the whole Daring Baker community which is the best resource of all.

Expenditure:

Unsalted Butter: ………………….$2.17……….from Walmart, some left

Corn syrup(16 oz.)…………………$1.67……….from Kroger, lots left

Heavy cream(1/2 pint)…………….$2.89…………from Kroger, lots left

Powdered sugar……………………$1.99…………from Kroger, lots left

Bakers Chocolate semisweet(8 oz):$ 3.29………….from Kroger, none left

Orange 1 :-)…………………………$0.64………….from Kroger, ate it up….

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Total………………………………..$12.65

Posted in -All Purpose flour, -Butter, -Canola Oil, -Cinnamon, -Corn Syrup, -Cream, -Orange, -Plums, -Semisweet Chocolate, -Vanilla, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Daring Bakers, Eggs, Gelatin, Sugar | Tagged: , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Daring Cooks First Challenge : Ricotta Gnocchi

Posted by vivnidhi on May 16, 2009

flame_w180x180 presents

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(Drum rolls Please!!!!)The Daring Cooks are out with their first challenge……..Ricotta Gnocchi !

The inaugural May 2009 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was brought to us by Ivonne of Creampuffs in Venice and Lis of La Mia Cucina. They chose a recipe from the stunning cookbook by Judy Rodgers, named after her restaurant, The Zuni Café Cookbook.

As I joined the Daring cooks, I was determined that my version of daring cooks challenges is going to be low fat and mostly vegetarian…..it can only get fishy 😉 , I know but then it won’t be for me ;-).

Long long back, when I did not know how to pronounce (no-kee) correctly, I had attempted making potato gnocchi. I think it turned out ok but since we can’t stay away from spices, after the first day, the leftovers were transformed to aloo kofta curry and THEN they were thoroughly enjoyed 🙂  .

For some strange reason I believed that this won’t be the case with ricotta gnocchi. If you look at Judy Rodgers preparing ricotta gnocchi in this video here, you will feel like picking one up right away.

The first thing I learned that making homemade ricotta is exactly like making paneer. The only difference is that for ricotta Whole milk is used and cream is also added to it, in India nobody adds extra cream. But, I bet anyone will tell you that the creamier the milk, the better the paneer/chhena  will turn out.  Other difference I can think of is that we mostly use buffalo milk in India and here in US, we use cow’s milk and hence the fat content definitely varies.

Well, I used 2% milk , now I do not know how much healthier it was but I tried. I did end up with a ton of whey because of using 2% milk but it was quickly used up in making my regular atta. To make paneer , just bring the milk to a boil and then add lemon juice to it. When the milk separates, drain the whey and further press it to dry it out completely.

Here are the pictures:

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Draining the ricotta, whey and the drained ricotta

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Can’t help using hands: smoothening out the ricotta, and the gnocchi, ready to be boiled

Oh, I have completely forgotten to mention my discovery. Yeah going very early to our vegetable market has its plusses. I have discovered the “reduced price box”. In $ 2 I end up getting a box full of a particular fruit or vegetable. It’s absolutely amazing, the stuff is good and not old, a few blemishes here and there but it’s far from bad. Honestly, it’s not bad at all. When we shop in the day, those boxes are long gone, but if one is there when the store opens its gates at 6 am, you can find treasures. So, this time I returned home beaming with boxes of green apples, orange bell peppers and pickles :-).I am talking of Joe’s Randazzo, if you are in the Detroit area.  Oh yeah that’s the Scrooge me talking but that’s how I am and always have been;-)

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Orange Bell Peppers, now who would mind these?

I used some, froze half of them (a couple month’s supply) and roasted the rest. Pealed and in the refrigerator hee hee.

Ok, back to the gnocchi. I believe you can take an Indian out of spice land but you cannot take spice out of him. Its true for our household. First I served it up with roasted bell pepper cashew sauce with dried fenugreek. The sauce was good but the husband wondered aloud, why didn’t you make matar paneer:-). I know he did not mind the gnocchi but matar paneer is the way to go in our house:-).

Next day, I pan fried the gnocchi in a Tbsp. of oil and added salt, pepper and lime juice. Sprinkled some fresh cilantro and the husband absolutely perked up.

Late Update June 28th 2009 : Just uploaded the lost pictures of pan fried ricotta with Indian spices:

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Pan Fried Ricotta Gnocchi with spices

Well! my advice is that if you are not particularly fond of gnocchi, this recipe will not change you. Just take the pressed ricotta/paneer and pan fry it and serve it with preferred seasonings. You will not miss gnocchi:-)

Posted in -All Purpose flour, -Cheese, -Kasoori Methi, -Orange Bell Pepper, -Red chili powder, Eggs, Milk | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Daring Bakers Layered Chocolate Amaretto Cheesecake

Posted by vivnidhi on April 27, 2009

Spatulla at 180 x 180 (largest)Oh Yeah, it was the E L Spatulla’s magic this month!

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Perfectly layered Chocolate Amaretto Cheesecake

I must admit here that cheesecake is the ultimate dessert for me. Yes, I am extremely fond of custards and the like…..and if you bake it………I can eat it all the time. This is my all time favorite cake. And I had never eaten it all these years when I was in India! Ah! what a waste………I wish I could have eaten it without the guilt ……..calories…….look at yourself……..you still have 10 lbs to lose………look at all the plain sugars you are putting in your body!! UFF!!!  So, when now I baked it and placed it on the table……..in spite of the fact that I was pleased no end that the cake did not crack one bit and was layered exactly as I wanted………the husband’s look said something else.

“This is a calorie bomb…..fat, sugar, cheese………what kind of life will you have……. if you eat more of these”

“Well! when temptation rules, the mirror breaks, and I asked the husband to look the other way ….pleeeeeeeease….”

Ah! I so wish we did not have to fight this constant war against cholesterol and high blood sugar. As, I have so often admitted, the husband has to keep a check on his cholesterol and I have to worry about an eventual high blood sugar. And since I am still 10 lbs more than I was pre-second pregnancy, the threat is real for me. I am not overweight, just that I’d do my health and myself a favor if I lost these pounds.

Well! this blog is not about health rants (it so often becomes) ! I absolutely loved this cheesecake. I have baked cheesecakes before (coffee caramel remains the husband’s fav…….he can’t get over coffee and I chocolate)  but this is the best recipe. I had never tried layering the cheesecakes and since I got all daring ……….I tired it out!

Love you Jenny and your famous friend Abbey for sharing a great, easy recipe. The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

This is truly an easy recipe and I know this will be made again!

Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake:

crust:
1 3/4  cups / 240 g chocolate wafers

7 Tbsp. / 3 1/2 oz butter, melted
1/4 almonds ground

cheesecake:
3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
3 tbsp. Amaretto

7 oz. semi sweet chocolate

The recipe calls for 1 Tbsp of lemon juice, 1 Tbsp. of vanilla extract and 1 Tbsp. of booze. I replace all with amaretto.

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too – baker’s choice. Set crust aside.

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Crushed Chocolate Wafers, almonds and butter

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Chocolate wafer crust

My crust definitely had too much butter. I need to reduce it the next time. This did not compromise the taste but it would be better with lesser butter.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, amaretto and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

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Cream cheese on the left and creamed ingredients on the right

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3 cups plain Amaretto batter is removed and rest mixed with melted chocolate

I chopped the chocolate well and then melted it in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir the chocolate and check for lumps. Melt further in 15 sec or 30 sec intervals only if there are lumps. Keep stirring after every heating. Removed 3 cups of the batter separately and then added the melted chocolate to the rest of the batter. Mixed with a light hand so as to not overmix.

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On top of chocolate wafer crust goes chocolate layer and then sieved very finely ground almonds on top of it.

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Ready for the oven

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don’t want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil “casserole” shaped pans from the grocery store. They’re 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.

Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly!

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The end result! Perfect layers! Hurrah!!

Things I learnt: As I read more on the Daring Baker forum, I realized that my cake top got brown and it should not have browned at all for a perfect cheesecake.

Next My crust indeed got soggy , so I should have either used more foil or used a normal cake pan instead of spring form. Jacque of Daisy lane cakes has very beautifully demonstrated how to use regular pan for cheesecake in her post Sweet Potato Cheesecake.

Some variations from the recipe creator:

** Lavender-scented cheesecake w/ blueberries – heat the cup of heavy cream in the microwave or a saucepan until hot but not boiling. Add 2 tbsp of lavender flowers and stir. Let lavender steep in the cream for about 10-15 minutes, then strain the flowers out. Add strained cream to cheesecake batter as normal. Top with fresh blueberries, or make a quick stovetop blueberry sauce (splash of orange juice, blueberries, a little bit of sugar, and a dash of cinnamon – cook until berries burst, then cool)

** Cafe au lait cheesecake with caramel – take 1/4 cup of the heavy cream and heat it in the microwave for a short amount of time until very hot. Add 1-2 tbsp. instant espresso or instant coffee; stir to dissolve. Add this to the remainder of cream and use as normal. Top cheesecake with homemade caramel sauce (I usually find one on the food network website – just make sure it has heavy cream in it. You can use store-bought in a pinch, but the flavor is just not the same since its usually just sugar and corn syrup with no dairy).

** Tropical – add about a half cup of chopped macadamias to the crust, then top the cake with a mango-raspberry-mandarin orange puree.

** Mexican Turtle – add a bar of melted dark chocolate (between 3 and 5 oz., to taste) to the batter, along with a teaspoon of cinnamon and a dash of cayenne pepper (about 1/8 tsp.). Top it with pecan halves and a homemade caramel sauce.

** Honey-cinnamon with port-pomegranate poached pears – replace 1/2 cup of the sugar with 1/2 cup of honey, add about a teaspoon or more (to taste) of cinnamon. Take 2 pears (any variety you like or whatever is in season), peeled and cored, and poach them in a boiling poaching liquid of port wine, pomegranate juice/seeds, a couple of “coins” of fresh ginger, a cinnamon stick, and about a 1/4 cup of sugar. Poach them until tender, then let cool. Strain the poaching liquid and simmer until reduced to a syrupy-glaze consistency, then cool. Thinly slice the cooled pears and fan them out atop the cooled cheesecake. Pour the cooled poaching syrup over the pears, then sprinkle the top with chopped walnuts and fresh pomegranate seeds.

Some variations from Jenny (from JennyBakes):

**Key lime – add zest from one lime to sugar before mixing with cream cheese. Substitute lemon juice, alcohol, and vanilla with key lime juice.

**Cheesecakelets – put in muffin tins, ramekins, or custard cups. Try baking 20-35 minutes, or until still a little jiggly, and cool as before.

I just melted some more chocolate and piped it lines on top. As I was in a rush, I did not paint the actual leaves with melted chocolate, instead just piped them freehand in leaf shape on wax paper. In the freezer for a quick 15 minutes and the leaves were ready. Remove from wax paper and decorate 😉 .

In spite of the mistakes, this cake was a hit. Loved it a lot and will make again. And guess what the husband visited New York for work and got me a Junior’s cheesecake. Now, I could compare mine against the best. And, I tell you mine was not far from the best. The junior’s cake crust absolutely bowled me over though. I have the junior’s cheesecake cookbook (borrowed from the library) and so I will note down their crust recipe and post when I try it.

If you want to have a look at what all can be done with a cheesecake , please visit the Daring Bakers Blogroll. See imagination and creativity at it best!

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Here’s a bite…….enjoy!

Oh, I forgot to list my expenditure:

Cream Cheese 3 (8 oz.) packs ..........$6.18.........from Meijer.......none left
Chocolate wafers ......................$2.50.........from Meijer......all eaten up
Semisweet chocolate....................$2.50..........from Meijer......all eaten up
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Total ................................$11.18

Posted in -Almonds, -Butter, -Chocolate wafer, -Cream, -Semisweet Chocolate, Amaretto, Cream Cheese, Eggs, Sugar | Tagged: , , , , | 31 Comments »

Lasagne Time

Posted by vivnidhi on March 28, 2009

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Here’s Chopping Ninja …..just being “DARING”

Soon, all the chair backs were also covered! not a pretty picture I know

The husband thanked me first for not growing my own spinach and grinding flour at home (also with a look that said “I know what’s on your mind 😉 ” ) I have been pestering him about CSAs but I know…….one day……..that too will happen 🙂 .

I really could never have envisioned myself making lasagne…….ever…….and that too with home made pasta!! I heard of it only after coming to the US. The husband is not particularly fond of any form of noodles and while I enjoy pasta , I have never quite liked lasagne. Even the ones with eggplants  in them!! While I can say that this Daring Bakers challenge tasted quite good (EVEN the Hubby ate it and said “it’s fine, it’s good, don’t worry, I can eat it :-)” ), I doubt that I will be remaking it.

The husband chose to eat this instead of the “rajma Chawal (kidney beans-rice) back-up was satisfying enough for the amount of work that went into making it 😉 . Though , I did not stop my nagging here. Since I could not believe that he was eating lasagne…….

Me : ” You don’t have to eat it, you know, you just are eating it cause I put in efforts” .

Him : ” This is good, don’t worry, rajma Chawal is too ordinary” .

Me : “Ah, then I should make this a weekly affair”.

Him : (with a smile and a look that said “I mean this!!!!) ” I like it irrespective of who made it and how much effort went in it  Let’s keep it like a once in a decade…..or lifetime experience…..you know me & noodles”

Oh yeah, I got it, I said it in the second paragraph” I won’t remake this lasagne” but will certainly make individual components like the sauces or even the pasta. Heh heh …In the kitchen, the chopping Ninja rules!!

Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna – Daring Bakers March 2009 Challenge

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

I try to listen to “The Splendid Table” every week on NPR. I am a radio buff and absolutely love the show!

 

All recipes below from The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food by Lynne Rossetto Kasper (published by William Morrow and Company Inc., 1992).

Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna (Lasagne Verdi al Forno)
(Serves 8 to 10 as a first course, 6 to 8 as a main dish)

Preparation Time: 15 minutes to assemble and 40 minutes cooking time

10 quarts (9 litres) salted water
1 recipe Spinach Pasta cut for lasagna (recipe follows)#1
1 recipe Bechamel Sauce (recipe follows)#2
1 recipe Country Style Ragu (recipe follows)#3
1 cup (4 ounces/125g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Method
Working Ahead:
The ragu and the béchamel sauce can be made up to three days ahead. The ragu can also be frozen for up to one month. The pasta can be rolled out, cut and dried up to 24 hours before cooking. The assembled lasagne can wait at room temperature (20 degrees Celsius/68 degrees Fahrenheit) about 1 hour before baking. Do not refrigerate it before baking, as the topping of béchamel and cheese will overcook by the time the center is hot.

I made the ragu a day earlier and bechamel before assembling the lasagne.

 

Assembling the Ingredients:
Have all the sauces, rewarmed gently over a medium heat, and the pasta at hand. Have a large perforated skimmer and a large bowl of cold water next to the stove. Spread a double thickness of paper towels over a large counter space. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Oil or butter a 3 quart (approx 3 litre) shallow baking dish.

Cooking the Pasta:
Bring the salted water to a boil. Drop about four pieces of pasta in the water at a time. Cook about 2 minutes. If you are using dried pasta, cook about 4 minutes, taste, and cook longer if necessary. The pasta will continue cooking during baking, so make sure it is only barely tender. Lift the lasagne from the water with a skimmer, drain, and then slip into the bowl of cold water to stop cooking. When cool, lift out and dry on the paper towels. Repeat until all the pasta is cooked.

Assembling the Lasagne:
Spread a thin layer of béchamel over the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange a layer of about four overlapping sheets of pasta over the béchamel. Spread a thin layer of béchamel (about 3 or 4 spoonfuls) over the pasta, and then an equally thin layer of the ragu. Sprinkle with about 1&1/2 tablespoons of the béchamel and about 1/3 cup of the cheese. Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used, finishing with béchamel sauce and topping with a generous dusting of cheese.

Baking and Serving the Lasagne:
Cover the baking dish lightly with foil, taking care not to let it touch the top of the lasagne. Bake 40 minutes, or until almost heated through. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes, or until hot in the center (test by inserting a knife – if it comes out very warm, the dish is ready). Take care not to brown the cheese topping. It should be melted, creamy looking and barely tinged with a little gold. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the lasagne rest for about 10 minutes. Then serve. This is not a solid lasagne, but a moist one that slips a bit when it is cut and served.

I baked in my 10″x 10″ square pan and it worked well. Three layers of pasta.

#1 Spinach Egg Pasta (Pasta Verde)

Preparation: 45 minutes

Makes enough for 6 to 8 first course servings or 4 to 6 main course servings, equivalent to 1 pound (450g) dried boxed pasta.

2 jumbo eggs (2 ounces/60g or more)
10 ounces (300g) fresh spinach, rinsed dry, and finely chopped; or 6 ounces (170g) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3&1/2 cups (14 ounces/400g) all purpose unbleached (plain) flour (organic stone ground preferred)

Working by Hand:

Equipment

A roomy work surface, 24 to 30 inches deep by 30 to 36 inches (60cm to 77cm deep by 60cm to 92cm). Any smooth surface will do, but marble cools dough slightly, making it less flexible than desired.

A pastry scraper and a small wooden spoon for blending the dough.

A wooden dowel-style rolling pin. In Italy, pasta makers use one about 35 inches long and 2 inches thick (89cm long and 5cm thick). The shorter American-style pin with handles at either end can be used, but the longer it is, the easier it is to roll the pasta.
Note: although it is not traditional, Enza has successfully made pasta with a marble rolling pin, and this can be substituted for the wooden pin, if you have one.

Plastic wrap to wrap the resting dough and to cover rolled-out pasta waiting to be filled. It protects the pasta from drying out too quickly.

A sharp chef’s knife for cutting pasta sheets.

Cloth-covered chair backs, broom handles, or specially designed pasta racks found in cookware shops for draping the pasta.

Mixing the dough:
Mound the flour in the center of your work surface and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs and spinach. Use a wooden spoon to beat together the eggs and spinach. Then gradually start incorporating shallow scrapings of flour from the sides of the well into the liquid. As you work more and more flour into the liquid, the well’s sides may collapse. Use a pastry scraper to keep the liquids from running off and to incorporate the last bits of flour into the dough. Don’t worry if it looks like a hopelessly rough and messy lump.

Kneading:
With the aid of the scraper to scoop up unruly pieces, start kneading the dough. Once it becomes a cohesive mass, use the scraper to remove any bits of hard flour on the work surface – these will make the dough lumpy. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes. Its consistency should be elastic and a little sticky. If it is too sticky to move easily, knead in a few more tablespoons of flour. Continue kneading about 10 minutes, or until the dough has become satiny, smooth, and very elastic. It will feel alive under your hands. Do not shortcut this step. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and let it relax at room temperature 30 minutes to 3 hours.

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Pasta dough

Till here it was fine, no problems. I washed fresh spinach and drained it in a colander. Mixed it with 2 large eggs in a blender to get a uniform color. I think some water was retained in spinach leaves, the dough just turned out beautiful, quite supple.

Stretching and Thinning:
If using an extra-long rolling pin work with half the dough at a time. With a regular-length rolling pin, roll out a quarter of the dough at a time and keep the rest of the dough wrapped. Lightly sprinkle a large work surface with flour. The idea is to stretch the dough rather than press down and push it. Shape it into a ball and begin rolling out to form a circle, frequently turning the disc of dough a quarter turn. As it thins outs, start rolling the disc back on the pin a quarter of the way toward the center and stretching it gently sideways by running the palms of your hands over the rolled-up dough from the center of the pin outward. Unroll, turn the disc a quarter turn, and repeat. Do twice more.

Stretch and even out the center of the disc by rolling the dough a quarter of the way back on the pin. Then gently push the rolling pin away from you with one hand while holding the sheet in place on the work surface with the other hand. Repeat three more times, turning the dough a quarter turn each time.

Repeat the two processes as the disc becomes larger and thinner. The goal is a sheet of even thickness. For lasagne, the sheet should be so thin that you can clearly see your hand through it and see colors. Cut into rectangles about 4 by 8 inches (10 x 20 cm). Note: Enza says that transparency is a crucial element of lasagne pasta and the dough should be rolled as thinly as possible. She says this is why her housekeeper has such strong arms!

Dry the pasta at room temperature and store in a sealed container or bag.

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Here , I thought I lost track of what I was doing……..

#2 Bechamel

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

4 tablespoons (2 ounces/60g) unsalted butter
4 tablespoons (2 ounces/60g) all purpose unbleached (plain) flour, organic stone ground preferred
2&2/3 cups (approx 570ml) milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste

Using a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over low to medium heat. Sift over the flour, whisk until smooth, and then stir (without stopping) for about 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk a little at a time and keep the mixture smooth. Bring to a slow simmer, and stir 3 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Season with salt, pepper, and a hint of nutmeg.

You bet, the usual white sauce but nutmeg made it fabulous. Oh well , mine was a generous hint of nutmeg 😉

#3 Country style Ragu’….Vegetarian  (Ragu alla Contadina……vegetarian)

Preparation Time: Ingredient Preparation Time 30 minutes and Cooking time 2 hours

Makes enough sauce for 1 recipe fresh pasta or 1 pound/450g dried pasta)

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (45 ml)
    2 ounces/60g nutrela (textured vegetable protein granules (TVP) )
    1 medium onion, minced
    1 medium stalk celery with leaves, minced
    1 small carrot, minced
    12 ounces/125g firm tofu
  • 4 ounces/125g  Vegetarian sausage
    2/3 cup (5 ounces/160ml) dry red wine
    1 &1/2 cups (12 ounces/375ml) vegetable stock (homemade if possible)
    2 cups (16 ounces/500ml) fat free milk
    3  tomatoes, peeled
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Working Ahead:
The ragu can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. It also freezes well for up to 1 month. Skim the fat from the ragu’ before using it.

Bring a sauce pan of salted water to a boil and add the TVP/nutrela to it. Put the heat off. Remove from from heat and drain after 5 minutes. Press with hands to remove as much water as possible as it cools.

Browning the Ragu Base:
Heat the olive oil in a 12 inch (30cm) skillet (frying pan) over medium-high heat. Have a large saucepan handy to use once browning is complete. Add the nutrela and minced vegetables and sauté, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, 10 minutes, or until the onions barely begin to color. Coarsely grind the sausage and tofu, in a food processor or meat grinder. Stir into the pan and slowly brown over medium heat. Protect the brown glaze forming on the bottom of the pan by turning the heat down. Cook 15 minutes, or until the stuff is a deep brown. Turn them into the saucepan and set over medium heat.

Reducing and Simmering: Add the wine to the skillet, lowering the heat so the sauce bubbles quietly. Stir occasionally until the wine has reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Scrape up the brown glaze as the wine bubbles. Then pour the reduced wine into the saucepan and set the skillet aside.

Stir ½ cup stock into the saucepan and let it bubble slowly, 10 minutes, or until totally evaporated. Repeat with another ½ cup stock. Stir in the last 1/2 cup stock along with the milk. Adjust heat so the liquid bubbles very slowly. Partially cover the pot, and cook 1 hour. Stir frequently to check for sticking.

Add the tomatoes, crushing them as they go into the pot. Cook uncovered, at a very slow bubble for another 45 minutes, or until the sauce resembles a thick, meaty stew. Season with salt and pepper.

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Chopping & TVP in salted water

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Drained TVP and here’s my soy stew

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Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna

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Here’s a piece!

Half of the lasagne is in the freezer now for rainy days and the rest is waiting for us to devour. By the way, the husband took some left overs as well to work the next along with his usual fare………..Now, whatt d’ya call that ?

Check out what other fabulous Daring Bakers have baked at Daring Bakers Blogroll . Egg less, gluten free, SWEET lasagne all there!

Expenditure:

Spinach (1 bunch)………………….$0.79 from Randazzo……..finished

Parmigiano-Reggiano 5 oz ………….$4.99 from Trader Joe’s ….some left

Nutrela 100 g……………………….$ 1.99 from Indian store…..little left

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Total ………………………………$ 7.77

Posted in -All Purpose flour, -Boca Burger, -Butter, -Carrot, -Celery, -Cheese, -Nutmeg, -Nutrela, -Olive Oil, -Onion, -Spinach, -Tofu, -Tomato, Eggs, Milk | Tagged: , , , | 10 Comments »

Daring Baker’s February Challenge : Chocolate Valentino cake

Posted by vivnidhi on February 28, 2009

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Chocolate Valentino Cake

Here is a flourless cake that is a breeze to make. Surprise Surprise! this month’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was the easiest I have seen. Ready in 45 minutes total. This is one cake anyone can make ……..easy and sinfully rich and delicious. Just pair it with an ice cream, and you are done. Yes, this definitely needs some ice cream or whipped cream to cut some of the richness of the cake. My cake did not sink in the middle at all because I was careful while beating the eggs.

It was my first time making Ice cream, I have been to lazy to make ice cream at home before. Since the husband loved it, I now have reason to try some more this summer. I made it without any ice cream maker. I would make a lot of ice creams in India in my summer vacations. I wanted to try one of my old recipes but decided to just try David Lebovitz’s plain vanilla ice cream made with vanilla extract. I made a cherry caramel sauce to pair with the cake and ice cream. Result: This cake’s a fabulous dessert!

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.

February’s challenge is a Flourless Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Valentino, inspired by Malaysia’s “most flamboyant food ambassador”, Chef Wan. Recipe comes from Sweet Treats by Chef Wan.

Serve with – The original recipe calls for the cake to be served with whipping cream.  BUT we decided to make this more of a challenge and ask you to make your own Ice Cream – a first for the DBrs. You can choose any flavor you want and any recipe although we provided two vanilla ice cream recipes. But we are giving you a little freedom here and will allow whipped cream as a topping as well or of course non-dairy whip. Be as creative as you want with your topping. Any fruit puree or sauce would be lovely with this cake.
– Use your favorite chocolate – the finished cake will taste exactly like the chocolate you use. Be creative with your chocolate, if you like a sweeter cake use milk chocolate or a combination of the semisweet and milk chocolate. If you like bittersweet chocolate use that and add sweetness by mixing the semi sweet with bittersweet. If you are daring, try white chocolate. (Dharm used all bittersweet and Wendy used a half bitter/half semi sweet chocolate).
– A higher cocoa percentage increases the bitterness of the chocolate.
-Equipment – it is optional to use a heart shaped pan. For a real Valentino, bake it in a heart shaped pan or cut it out into a heart shape. You may use any shape pan that gives you an area of 50” – 6×8 or 7×7.  An 8” spring form pan works with great results as do smaller pans or ramekins.
-An instant read thermometer highly recommended.
Note on recipeThe recipe consists of 3 simple ingredients and how you interpret them is part of the challenge.

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.
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. {link of folding demonstration}
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.

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Microwave melted Chocolate & 8″ spring form pan

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Ready for the oven

I used all semisweet chocolate and that was absolutely right for us. We couldn’t have liked it a bit more bitter than that. Milk chocolate would be good too cause the chocolate taste gets a little more intense in the cake.

David Lebovitz link for making ice cream if you do not have an ice cream freezer.
Links to helpful tips:
Folding video demonstration.
Egg Whipping video demonstration.

I used David Lebovitz’ vanilla ice cream recipe.

For the cherry caramel sauce, I heated up a cup of cherries with 1/2 a tsp. of sugar till they got tender. Then they went in a blender and pureed. I mixed it up with caramel sauce made from the earlier daring baker challenge and Voila…..Cherry Caramel sauce is ready.

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Pitted fresh cherries and the making of cherry caramel sauce

Finally……

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My chocolate cake sunflower with Tuiles

This is a cake that everyone (who is a fan of chocolate) should definitely try.

Expenditure:

Chocolate 1 lb ………$ 5.00 ………from Kroger……none left

Heavy cream 1 pint….$ 3.25……….from Kroger……none left

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Total………………..$ 8.25

 

Posted in - Cherry, -Butter, -Cream, -Golden Syrup, -Semisweet Chocolate, -Vanilla, Chocolate, Eggs, Milk, Sugar | Tagged: , , | 12 Comments »

Sailing the Pink Seas

Posted by vivnidhi on January 29, 2009

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Tuile Boats with whipped cream and strawberry cream

This month’s Daring Bakers challenge was French Tuiles. Light and fragile as can be. I can definitely not call this month a success cause we were a part of several mishaps as we waded our way in making these fragile bits. First my one year old chanced upon the chocolate sauce bottle as I was playing with refrigerating tuile dough and baking tray. Next thing we had a delicious choco-baby and chocolate floor (right when I was using the tuile stencils). Thank God for my 3 year old(who loves to keep an eye on such situations and raises the alarm only when the deed is done;-) )………otherwise I would not even have noticed and continued my play. Next, when I thought I had learnt how to roll these exactly as I wanted to……….kept the last batch in the oven ………………………………….and ………….forgot to take it out ………until it turned into crisp , dark brown ………..yes, burnt.

Anyway, in spite of all this , as usual with daring bakers, the tuiles were delicious and very fragile. They paired beautifully with the strawberry cream I made. I learnt a fabulous way to garnish in future. I will certainly use these in my desserts.

I paired these with Light and easy strawberry Cream. The strawberries were courtesy of Locavorious. I must say that they were better than store bought frozen ones and my son just loves to snack on them plain. A very big thank you to Rena Basch who gave these to us free of cost. I joined a fabulous group of Michigan Lady Food Bloggers and through them I came to know of locavores. I will try and join them next season.

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Local Strawberries

Light & Easy Strawberry Cream

The Recipe:

  • Strawberries 1 cup (fresh /frozen)
  • Sugar 1 tsp.
  • Sugar Free Strawberry gelatin 6 oz (1 pack)
  • Water 1/2 cup
  • Fat free Whipped Topping 2 cups thawed

This is an extremely simple recipe. Dissolve the gelatin in 1/2 cup hot water. Puree the strawberries in the blender with 1 tsp. sugar. No need to thaw the strawberries. Add the strawberry puree to the gelatin and mix well. Put  this in the refrigerator for half an hour. When it has started to set a little, add the whipped topping and fold it in the gelatin mixture carefully. Back it goes in the refrigerator for at least 4-6 hours. Ready!! Pair it with tuiles and a sprinkle of best aged balsamic vinegar and we have a classic dessert ready.

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Light & Easy Strawberry Cream

For a little shaping up after the holidays, we’re adapting an air of lightness, adding a touch of crisp and maybe even go nuts. A challenge that’s more about technique than about baking a recipe. With the choices given, we think you’ve got plenty of options to chose something that’s individually challenging. You are allowed every flavor in the universe, you may go round or square, roll or fold but you need to shape up!
So here we go; January – something light… Tuiles – what could be lighter?? big_smile
Traditionally, tuiles are thin, crisp almond cookies that are gently molded over a rolling pin or arched form while they are still warm. Once set, their shape resembles the curved French roofing tiles for which they’re named. The Dutch angle: traditionally this batter was used to bake flat round cookies on 31st December, representing the year unfold. On New Years day however, the same batter was used but this day they were presented to well-wishers shaped as cigars and filled with whipped cream, symbolizing the New Year that’s about to roll on. And of course the batter is sometimes called tulip-paste….

This month’s challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

About the shaping: you don’t need to buy anything especially for this challenge, I made the stencils I used for the butterflies myself out of thick plastic sheet and cut out the desired shape. You can use anything you have handy in your kitchen/house like broomsticks, knitting needles, cups, cones.. use your imagination.

Following is a recipe taken from a book called “The Chocolate Book”, written by female Dutch Master chef Angélique Schmeinck.
Recipe:

Yields: 20 small butterflies/6 large (butterflies are just an example)

Preparation time batter 10 minutes, waiting time 30 minutes, baking time: 5-10 minutes per batch

65 grams / ¼ cup / 2.3 ounces softened butter (not melted but soft)
60 grams / ½ cup / 2.1 ounces sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar (7 grams or substitute with a dash of vanilla extract)
2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
65 grams / 1/2 cup / 2.3 ounces sifted all purpose flour
1 table spoon cocoa powder/or food coloring of choice
Butter/spray to grease baking sheet

Oven: 180 C / 350F
Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not overmix.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter/spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template such as the butterfly. Press the stencil on the bakingsheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes. Mix a small part of the batter with the cocoa and a few drops of warm water until evenly colored. Use this colored batter in a paper piping bag and proceed to pipe decorations on the wings and body of the butterfly.
Bake butterflies in a preheated oven (180 C/350F) for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from bakingsheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape. These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, you might want to bake a small amount at a time or maybe put them in the oven to warm them up again. (Haven’t tried that). Or: place a bakingsheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable.
If you don’t want to do stencil shapes, you might want to transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe the desired shapes and bake. Shape immediately after baking using for instance a rolling pin, a broom handle, cups, cones….

Anything you’d like to know and more: http://www.pastrysampler.com/Questions_ … /tuile.htm

There are more alternative recipes too  Nougatine, Chocolate Tuiles, Savory tuile/cornet recipe. These recipes can be found at host’s blogs here. To check out who has made what , check out the Daring Bakers’ blogroll.

Wish I had done the savory…..the husband wanted me to but I couldn’t some other time:-) Not a great start to 2009 but then there’s hope………I see it just behind the snow 🙂

Expenditure:

Parchment paper : $ 2.84 from Walmart lots left

And a huge big thank you to Rena for the strawberries!

Posted in - Bread Flour, - Confectioner's Sugar, -Balsamic Vinegar, -Butter, -Cocoa Powder, -Cream, -Strawberry, Eggs, Gelatin, Sugar | Tagged: , , | 14 Comments »

Daring Bakers French Yule Log

Posted by vivnidhi on December 30, 2008

I would have never known of this and certainly not attempted to make a FRENCH YULE LOG had I not joined Daring Bakers. December has been a wacky month with my mind just unable to concentrate on anything at all. And here was a challenge which required immense amount of planning and precision.

So, here’s the result ………shoddy work, but a sincere effort nevertheless. It was a delicious dessert undoubtedly (even with the kind of work I have done.) The next time it will definitely be better looking than this;)……….I only have to figure out an occasion that deserves such a lot of work:))

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Here’s my Log!

This month’s challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux.
They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand

A French Yule Log!!!
SO, what is a French Yule Log you say and how is it different from the cake roll Yule Log made last December by Daring Bakers.

In France you can buy two kinds of Yule log, either the Genoise and Buttercream type that we made last December, or what is more commonly purchased which is a frozen Yule Log very reminiscent of an ice cream cake, only often it’s not made of ice cream but rather frozen mousse of some sort. In French this is called an entremets which is sometimes loosely translated in English as simply a cream dessert. This also means that this recipe is not holiday-specific, it is also just a scrumptious dessert recipe.
This recipe comes almost entirely, except for one small labeled portion and some of the variations courtesy of our dear Daring Baker Fairy Tartelette, from the website: Florilège Gourmand (address above) which belongs to Flore (who has not disclosed her last name to me in my exchanges with her) and is unreal. Her website is in French and different portions of the recipe have been pulled from the recipes in the entremets section.
So, to the business of our Yule log:

THE CHALLENGE RULE is that you MUST MAKE ALL 6 of these elements for the log:
1)  Dacquoise Biscuit-               Almond
2)  Mousse-                                   Dark Chocolate with Orange Curacao
3)  Ganache Insert-                   White Chocolate with orange undertones
4)  Praline (Crisp) Insert-      Milk Chocolate & almond praline
5)  Creme Brulee Insert-        Vanilla with orange undertones
6)  Icing-                                       DARK chocolate
The assembly will essentially be a Dacquoise Biscuit at the bottom, and the inserts inter-layered with mousse, with an icing finish.
That’s about it for rules. Oh yeah, please have fun!

FRENCH YULE LOG OR ENTREMETS RECIPE by Flore of Florilège Gourmand

Element #1 Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake)
Preparation time: 10 mn + 15 mn for baking
Equipment: 2 mixing bowls, hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment, spatula, baking pan such as a 10”x15” jelly-roll pan, parchment paper
Note: You can use the Dacquoise for the bottom of your Yule Log only, or as bottom and top layers, or if using a Yule log mold (half-pipe) to line your entire mold with the biscuit. Take care to spread the Dacquoise accordingly. Try to bake the Dacquoise the same day you assemble the log to keep it as moist as possible.
Ingredients:
2.8 oz (3/4cup + 1Tbsp / 80g) almond meal
1.75 oz (1/2 cup / 50g) confectioner’s sugar
2Tbsp (15g) all-purpose flour
3.5oz (100g / ~100ml) about 3 medium egg whites
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
1.    Finely mix the almond meal and the confectioner’s sugar. (If you have a mixer, you can use it by pulsing the ingredients together for no longer than 30 seconds).
2.    Sift the flour into the mix.
3.    Beat the eggs whites, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff.
4.    Pour the almond meal mixture into the egg whites and blend delicately with a spatula.
5.    Grease a piece of parchment paper and line your baking pan with it.
6.    Spread the batter on a piece of parchment paper to an area slightly larger than your desired shape (circle, long strip etc…) and to a height of 1/3 inches (8mm).
7.    Bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 15 minutes (depends on your oven), until golden.
8.    Let cool and cut to the desired shape.

This was really really delicious! I could eat the whole thing alone. I made a normal almond dacquoise with almond meal made at home. Yes, I had the skins on the almonds. You think I’d not eat that fiber 😉

Element #2 Dark Chocolate Mousse
Preparation time: 20mn
Equipment: stand or hand mixer with whisk attachment, thermometer, double boiler or equivalent, spatula
Note: You will see that a Pate a Bombe is mentioned in this recipe. A Pate a Bombe is a term used for egg yolks beaten with a sugar syrup, then aerated. It is the base used for many mousse and buttercream recipes. It makes mousses and buttercreams more stable, particularly if they are to be frozen, so that they do not melt as quickly or collapse under the weight of heavier items such as the crème brulee insert.
Gelatin is the gelifying agent in all of the following recipes, but if you would like to use agar-agar, here are the equivalencies: 8g powdered gelatin = 1 (0.25 oz) envelope powdered gelatin = 1 Tbsp powdered gelatin = 1 Tbsp Agar-Agar.
1 Tbsp. of agar-agar flakes is equal to 1 tsp. of agar-agar powder.
Ingredients:
2.5 sheets gelatin or 5g / 1 + 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
1.5 oz (3 Tbsp / 40g) granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp (10g) glucose or thick corn syrup
0.5 oz (15g) water
50g egg yolks (about 3 medium)
6.2 oz (175g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1.5 cups (350g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
1.    Soften the gelatin in cold water. (If using powdered gelatin, follow the directions on the package.)
2.    Make a Pate a Bombe: Beat the egg yolks until very light in colour (approximately 5 minutes until almost white).
2a.  Cook the sugar, glucose syrup and water on medium heat for approximately 3 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer, the mixture should reach 244°F (118°C). If you do not have a candy thermometer, test the sugar temperature by dipping the tip of a knife into the syrup then into a bowl of ice water, if it forms a soft ball in the water then you have reached the correct temperature.
2b.  Add the sugar syrup to the beaten yolks carefully by pouring it into the mixture in a thin stream while continuing to beat the yolks. You can do this by hand but it’s easier to do this with an electric mixer.
2c.  Continue beating until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The batter should become thick and foamy.
3.    In a double boiler or equivalent, heat 2 tablespoons (30g) of cream to boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.
4. Whip the remainder of the cream until stiff.
5.    Pour the melted chocolate over the softened gelatin, mixing well. Let the gelatin and chocolate cool slightly and then stir in ½ cup (100g) of WHIPPED cream to temper. Add the Pate a Bombe.
6.    Add in the rest of the WHIPPED cream (220g) mixing gently with a spatula.

I added 1/2 tsp. of orange extract and 1 Tbsp. Orange Curacao………..to please the hubby and he loved it;) I cannot rave enough about this, it is among the most delicious mousse I have ever made. The alcohol just makes it perfect!!

Element #3 Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert (I made a white chocolate ganache)
Preparation time: 10mn
Equipment: pan, whisk. If you have plunging mixer (a vertical hand mixer used to make soups and other liquids), it comes in handy.
Note: Because the ganache hardens as it cools, you should make it right before you intend to use it to facilitate piping it onto the log during assembly. Please be careful when caramelizing the sugar and then adding the cream. It may splatter and boil.

Variations on the Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert listed above:
White Chocolate Ganache Insert
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
5 oz (135g) white chocolate, finely chopped
4.5 oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp / 135g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
1.    Make a caramel: Using the dry method, melt the sugar by spreading it in an even layer in a small sauce pan with high sides. Heat over medium-high heat, watching it carefully as the sugar begins to melt. Never stir the mixture. As the sugar starts to melt, swirl the pan occasionally to allow the sugar to melt evenly. Cook to dark amber color (for most of you that means darker than last month’s challenge).
2.    While the sugar is melting, heat the cream until boiling.  Pour cream into the caramel and stir thoroughly. Be very careful as it may splatter and boil.
3.    Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth.

OK, here I just did not realize that I had to reduce the cream by a Tbsp. My weighing scale is messed up, thanks to the Sonny Boy and so my ganache just never set. BUT, do you know, I loved the caramely gooey ganache, you can’t see a layer of that, but I could taste it:)). Failure in some sense, but I do not mind it one bit.

Element #4 Praline Feuillete (Crisp) Insert
Preparation time: 10 mn (+ optional 15mn if you make lace crepes)
Equipment: Small saucepan, baking sheet (if you make lace crepes).
Double boiler (or one small saucepan in another), wax paper, rolling pin (or I use an empty bottle of olive oil).
Note: Feuillete means layered (as in with leaves) so a Praline Feuillete is a Praline version of a delicate crisp. There are non-praline variations below. The crunch in this crisp comes from an ingredient which is called gavottes in French. Gavottes are lace-thin crepes. To our knowledge they are not available outside of France, so you have the option of making your own using the recipe below or you can simply substitute rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K for them. Special note: If you use one of the substitutes for the gavottes, you should halve the quantity stated, as in use 1oz of any of these cereals instead of 2.1oz.
If you want to make your own praline, please refer back to the Daring Baker Challenge Recipe from July 2008.

Ingredients for the Praline Feuillete:
3.5 oz (100g) milk chocolate
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) butter
2 Tbsp (1 oz / 30g) praline
2.1oz (60g) lace crepes(gavottes) or rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K
1.    Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler.
2.    Add the praline and the coarsely crushed lace crepes. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate.
3.    Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.

I did make my own praline, with almonds (skinned) this time but could not achieve a paste with it. It was more like a fine powder, again tasty nevertheless;) I used Special K for the feuillete as I did not have time to make gavottes. BUT my feuillete never really set. I made it twice and both times it was a crumbly mass and it fell both times. Anyway, I refrigerated it well the second time and I could get like big set pieces of it! This makes the final result so very delicious!

Element #5 Vanilla Crème Brulée Insert
Preparation time: 15mn + 1h infusing + 1h baking
Equipment: Small saucepan, mixing bowl, baking mold, wax paper
Note: The vanilla crème brulée can be flavored differently by simply replacing the vanilla with something else e.g. cardamom, lavender, etc…
Ingredients:
1/2 cup (115g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
½ cup (115g) whole milk
4 medium-sized (72g) egg yolks
0.75 oz (2 Tbsp / 25g) granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
1.    Heat the milk, cream, and scraped vanilla bean to just boiling. Remove from the stove and let the vanilla infuse for about 1 hour.
2.    Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white).
3.    Pour the vanilla-infused milk over the sugar/yolk mixture. Mix well.
4.    Wipe with a very wet cloth and then cover your baking mold (whatever shape is going to fit on the inside of your Yule log/cake) with parchment paper. Pour the cream into the mold and bake at 210°F (100°C) for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center.
Tartelette says: You can bake it without a water bath since it is going to go inside the log (the aesthetics of it won’t matter as much since it will be covered with other things)….BUT I would recommend a water bath for the following reasons:
– you will get a much nicer mouth feel when it is done
– you will be able to control its baking point and desired consistency much better
– it bakes for such a long time that I fear it will get overdone without a water bath
Now…since it is baked in a pan and it is sometimes difficult to find another large pan to set it in for a water bath, even a small amount of water in your water bath will help the heat be distributed evenly in the baking process. Even as little as 1 inch will help.
5.    Let cool and put in the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm up and facilitate the final assembly.

I again added 1/2 tsp. of orange extract. Lovely. Mine cooked as per the directions and tastes very good.

Element #6 Dark Chocolate Icing
Preparation time: 25 minutes (10mn if you don’t count softening the gelatin)
Equipment: Small bowl, small saucepan
Note: Because the icing gelifies quickly, you should make it at the last minute.
For other gelatin equivalencies or gelatin to agar-agar equivalencies, look at the notes for the mousse component.
Ingredients:
4g / ½ Tbsp powdered gelatin or 2 sheets gelatin
¼ cup (60g) heavy cream (35 % fat content)
2.1 oz (5 Tbsp / 60g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (50g) water
1/3 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1.    Soften the gelatin in cold water for 15 minutes.
2.    Boil the rest of the ingredients and cook an additional 3 minutes after boiling.
3.    Add gelatin to the chocolate mixture. Mix well.
4.    Let cool while checking the texture regularly. As soon as the mixture is smooth and coats a spoon well (it is starting to gelify), use immediately.

This is a great icing recipe. Changed nothing but did make 1.5 times the quantity specified. Had leftovers:)

How To Assemble your French Yule Log
Depending on whether your mold is going to hold the assembly upside down until you unmold it or right side up, this order will be different.
THIS IS FOR UNMOLDING FROM UPSIDE DOWN TO RIGHT SIDE UP.
You will want to tap your mold gently on the countertop after each time you pipe mousse in to get rid of any air bubbles.

1)    Line your mold or pan, whatever its shape, with rhodoid (clear hard plastic, I usually use transparencies cut to the desired shape, it’s easier to find than cellulose acetate which is what rhodoid translates to in English) OR plastic film. Rhodoid will give you a smoother shape but you may have a hard time using it depending on the kind of mold you’re using.
You have two choices for Step 2, you can either have Dacquoise on the top and bottom of your log as in version A or you can have Dacquoise simply on the bottom of your log as in version B:
2A)  Cut the Dacquoise into a shape fitting your mold and set it in there. If you are using an actual Yule mold which is in the shape of a half-pipe, you want the Dacquoise to cover the entire half-pipe portion of the mold.
3A)  Pipe one third of the Mousse component on the Dacquoise.
4A)  Take the Creme Brulee Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse.
5A)  Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
6A)  Cut the Praline/Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold.
7A)  Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
8A)  Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
9A)  Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight eidge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
10A)  Close with the last strip of Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.
OR
2B)  Pipe one third of the Mousse component into the mold.
3B)  Take the Creme Brulee Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse.
4B)  Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
5B)  Cut the Praline/Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold.
6B)  Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
7B)  Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
8B)  Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight edge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
9B)  Close with the Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.
If you are doing the assembly UPSIDE DOWN with TWO pieces of Dacquoise the order is:
1)  Dacquoise
2)  Mousse
3)  Creme Brulee Insert
4)  Mousse
5)  Praline/Crisp Insert
6)  Mousse
7)  Ganache Insert
8)  Dacquoise
If you are doing the assembly UPSIDE DOWN with ONE piece of Dacquoise on the BOTTOM ONLY the order is:
1)  Mousse
2)  Creme Brulee Insert
3)  Mousse
4)  Praline/Crisp Insert
5)  Mousse
6)  Ganache Insert
7)  Dacquoise
If you are doing the assembly RIGHT SIDE UP in a springform pan the order is:
1)  Dacquoise
2)  Ganache Insert
3)  Mousse
4)  Praline/Crisp Insert
5)  Mousse
6)  Creme Brulee Insert
7)  Mousse
8 OPTIONAL) Dacquoise
THE NEXT DAY…
Unmold the cake/log/whatever and set on a wire rack over a shallow pan.
Cover the cake with the icing.
Let set. Return to the freezer.
You may decorate your cake however you wish. The decorations can be set in the icing after it sets but before you return the cake to the freezer or you may attach them on top using extra ganache or leftover mousse, etc…
Transfer to the refrigerator no longer than ½ hour before serving as it may start to melt quickly depending on the elements you chose.

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That’s for December………..2009 will be beautiful!

Mine has dacquoise on top and bottom and one crisp insert. Overall, the almond, chocolate and orange flavors merged so well that this cake tasted absolute top rate. IN SPITE of my mistakes. This should be tried (even by the faint of heart) cause it will be delicious! A big thank you to the hosts! Wanna see more of these…….check it out here Daring Bakers Blogroll

Expenditure:

  • Confectioner’s Sugar 2 lb. ……………$2.19 from Kroger……..tons left
  • Sugar 4 lb………………………….                    $2.25 from Kroger………..yes left but we will eat it up!
  • Dark Chocolate 8 oz. (Bakers)…..    $2.50 from Kroger……..couple of oz. left
  • Heavy cream 1 Quart………………        $5.99 from Kroger …………hardly any left:(

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That’s it…………………………                                                $12.73……….ah,I know how much I spent!

Posted in - Confectioner's Sugar, -All Purpose flour, -Almonds, -Butter, -Cocoa Powder, -Corn Syrup, -Cream, -Dark Chocolate, -Milk Chocolate, -Vanilla, -White Chocolate, Cereal, Chocolate, Eggs, Gelatin, Sugar, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 24 Comments »

Chocolate Eclairs………….and the likes:)

Posted by vivnidhi on August 31, 2008

This month’s Daring Bakers challenge was the chocolate eclairs. Thanks to Meeta of What’s For Lunch, Honey? and Tony Tahhan of Olive Juice, who were hosting this month’s challenge.

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Mini Eclairs basking in the sun……….not for long though;)

Many many years ago, I had bought a French eclair (it looked so good) at a bakery in India…….cause I was celebrating something. It was a celebration, cause I was using my first hard-earned paycheck to pay for it. One bite into it and I was like “OK, this ain’t my typpa dessert” ………so I kept away from eclairs from  that day on until August 13th. Meeta and Tony had challenged me to make it and I had to……….. The recipe was from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme .

I thought maybe the bakery in India really didn’t do a good job of making the eclair! I would certainly do better;). Ha , the innate optimism one has!! I think I did a fair job of it and I don’t think the Indian bakery I ate the eclair at……did a bad job either. Conclusion on 31st August…….its a great dessert, some people should like it……BUT “it ain’t my typpa dessert:)) ”

Anyway, it was truly a fabulous experience to learn about Pâte à Choux. As you will read ahead you will realize that I played too much!! A big thank you to the DB’s for yet another fabulous lesson:).

I prepared for the eclairs when the husband was away and the eclairs were kept ready for him when he returned:). He loved it!! My job’s done , right;). Here’s the detailed recipe with my experiences in black:).

The Recipe:

(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Hermé

Éclairs consist of 3 elements:

Pâte à Choux, also known as Choux Pastry or Cream Puff Dough
– Pastry Cream
– Chocolate glaze

• Cream Puff Dough (see below for recipe), fresh and still warm
1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds by
positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with
waxed or parchment paper.
2) Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough.
Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers.
Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff.
The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.
3) Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the
handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the
oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue
baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking
time should be approximately 20 minutes.
Notes:
1) The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.

For my first batch, I used my pastry bag without the tip. Felt that the eclairs were too fat and turned up really huge after baking. Baking times are not really perfect in this recipe, would certainly need tweaking. My fat eclairs needed a lot of time to bake otherwise they would be under baked and would deflate. I did not use the wooden spoon in the oven door method. I always baked one tray only at one time.

I also made some gougeres and for that I used a normal ziploc bag, the dough just started oozing out from all places as I was piping it.

For my last batch in which I made mini eclairs …….I used a heavy duty bag……and it worked beautifully. Who said “Third time’s the charm” ?

Ok, if anybody tries to bake these babies, heed my advice. Use a baking tray filled with water at the bottom rack to aid baking the eclairs. Begin with 400F temperature. Bake for 18 minutes. Rotate the pans and lower the temperature to 375F. Poke each eclair with a skewer for moisture to escape and bake for another 5 minutes till it is crisp and brown. Leave them in the oven only to cool with the oven door fully open. Learnt from the fabulous Vera of Baking Obsession!

Assembling the éclairs:
• Chocolate glaze (see below for recipe)
• Chocolate pastry cream (see below for recipe)
1) Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside the
bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.
2) The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F or 35 – 40
degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of
the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the
bottoms with the pastry cream.
3) Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms
with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream
and wriggle gently to settle them.
Notes:
1) If you have chilled your chocolate glaze, reheat by placing it in a bowl over simmering water,
stirring it gently with a wooden spoon. Do not stir too vigorously as you do not want to create
bubbles.
2) The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.

Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)
• ½ cup (125g) whole milk
• ½ cup (125g) water
• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature
1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the
boil.
2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium
and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very
quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You
need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough
will be very soft and smooth.
3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your
handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time,
beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough.
You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do
not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you
have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it
should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.
4) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.
Notes:
1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.
2) You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking
sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the
piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

This was certainly eggy in taste. Since I did not have any idea about the choux pastry, I stuck with the recipe and used as specified. With chocolate pastry cream and chocolate glaze , one doesn’t notice the egg one bit though!

Chocolate Pastry Cream
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by PierreHermé
• 2 cups (500g) whole milk
• 4 large egg yolks
• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
• 7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted
• 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil.  In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.
2) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture.Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.
3) Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled.  Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.
4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it  remains smooth.
5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.
Notes:
1) The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
2) In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.
3) Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.

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Chocolate Pastry Cream’s ready!!

This is the best! No doubt about it, if anyone wants to try the Chocolate Pastry cream for anything, this is the recipe and so easy too!! Don’t change a thing.

Chocolate Glaze
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1 cup or 300g)
• 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream
• 3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
• 7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature
1)In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.
2) Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.
Notes:
1) If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly
 in the microwave or over a double boiler. A double boiler is basically a bowl sitting over (not touching) simmering water.
2) It is best to glaze the eclairs after the glaze is made, but if you are pressed for time, you can make the glaze a couple days ahead of time, store it in the fridge and bring it up to the proper temperature (95 to 104  F) when ready to glaze.


Chocolate Sauce
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1½ cups or 525 g)
• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 cup (250 g) water
• ½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream
• 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar
1) Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly.  Then reduce the heat  to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.
2) It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.
Notes:
1) You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for two weeks. Reheat the sauce in a microwave oven or  a double boiler before using.
2) This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.

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The making of the chocolate sauce

I did not like the chocolate sauce much and even  the chocolate glaze was ok. Too much effort for the result. The ganache used in the filbert gateau here is a better glaze and tastes great too!

I made some gougeres too……….with the choux pastry and fine gruyere cheese. In ultimate fusion food………had the gougeres with cilantro chutney:)).

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Individual paris brests with chopped hazelnuts……….I found these the best!

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Some Ugly ducklings here sitting on kiwi paper and sweetened creme fraiche filling……

The son had a blast assembling these!!

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Ultimate fusion food……..Gougères with Chutney!!

With the gougeres recipe, I did not add garlic, wanted the original cheese taste. Thankfully, I did not attempt anymore pastry types or glazes otherwise this post would be longer:)).I had coffee in mind but decided to stick with the original at the last minute. Now, you really need to thank me:) .

Expenditure:

  • Unsalted butter : $ 2.74 from Walmart…. 1 stick left
  • Semisweet Chocolate: $ 8.30 from Kroger 1 oz. left
  • Heavy cream: $ 2.50 from Kroger some left
  • Sour Cream : $ 1.19 from Kroger some left
  • Gruyere cheese: $ 4.83 200 g.  from Morgan & York very little left

Total: $ 19.76…………..somehow I make it to the amount of $ 20. The expenditure would have been less had I not made 3 attempts. Justification: I did not exceed my budget:) Hope I am better in September.

Now check out the Daring Bakers’ blogroll !

Posted in -All Purpose flour, -Butter, -Cream, -Hazelnuts, Chocolate, Eggs, Sugar | Tagged: , , | 13 Comments »

I am a Daring Baker too!

Posted by vivnidhi on July 30, 2008

This post is long.

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Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

You bet, I am a Daring Baker too! Otherwise why would anybody with such limited skills and equipment attempt this…………:). I am so glad I am a part of Daring Bakers now……..because I learnt a lot from one challenge itself and learning  is a lot of fun. So, this month’s challenge was hosted by  Chris of Melle Cotte and the challenge was : Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream. I was really glad that my first challenge turned out to be a cake. I love cakes, so I was really excited about making it.

Even though a little expensive, I wanted to try the recipe as is with hazelnuts. The husband remarked ” Didn’t we stop buying mixed nuts cause they have hazelnuts in them” Yeah! but nutella has plenty of hazelnuts. I had made my mind so we bought a pound:). Thankfully, the husband had dark rum and orange Curacao in his bar otherwise that would have added to my expenditure too……

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
From Great Cakes by Carol Walter

  1. 1 Hazelnut Filbert Genoise
  2. 1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum
  3. 1 recipe Praline Buttercream, flavored with dark rum and Orange Curacao
  4. ½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
  5. 1 recipe Strawberry Glaze
  6. 1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using, flavored with Orange Curacao
  7. 3 tablespoons filberts (hazelnuts), toasted and coarsely chopped

The 1st day I prepared the sugar syrup, toasted and tried to skin the hazelnuts as much as I could and coarsely chopped the few I could. So item no. 2 & 7 were done. I toasted the hazelnuts in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Removed and immediately put them in a wet towel and rubbed to remove as much as I could. Not a lot of success there. Earned a blister too trying to take the hazelnuts skins off. What is with cakes and my blisters?

Day 2  Tried to skin more hazelnuts and I succeeded!! Thanks to a fellow Daring Baker who wrote about boiling them with Baking soda, skinning and toasting again. That worked, Phew!! So prepared the praline. Mine got darker than it should but it was so…….. good with the buttercream. Guess the praline flavor came out well because of the darkness.  Prepared the strawberry glaze.

Day 3 : The genoise day. Everything was fine until I dropped the butter I was trying to clarify. Not a lot fell but some did. So 2 Tbsp was the clarified butter and 2 Tbsp. was ghee I had at home. The cake took longer to come off the pan but thankfully it did, without breaking. Made the buttercream. Chilled the bowl in which I made the Swiss buttercream. This is the star!! The best buttercream I have ever made. Mixed with praline, its heavenly.

Day 4 : Finally, assembled the cake. Could not slice the layers uniformly. Used floss to cut the cake.  Whipped heavy cream, prepared the ganache. And yes, I got to pipe anything seriously for the first time. Not impressive but good for me:) . All is fun, that is fun when done, right ??

Here goes the detailed recipe with my comments in black:

Filbert Genoise
Because of the amount of nuts in the recipe, this preparation is different from a classic genoise.
1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
7 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided ¼ & ¾ cups
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. grated lemon rind
5 large egg whites
¼ cup warm, clarified butter (100 – 110 degrees)

Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 10” X 2” inch round cake pan.
Using a food processor, process nuts, cake flour, and cornstarch for about 30 seconds.  Then, pulse the mixture about 10 times to get a fine, powdery mixture.  You’ll know the nuts are ready when they begin to gather together around the sides of the bowl. While you want to make sure there aren’t any large pieces, don’t over-process.  Set aside.
Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, and beat until thick and light in color, about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed. Slowly, add ¾ cup of sugar.  It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes for this step.  When finished, the mixture should be ribbony.  Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind.  Remove and set aside.
Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl of the electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks. Increase to med-high speed and slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so.  Continue to beat for another ½ minute.
Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute.
Pour the warm butter in a liquid measure cup (or a spouted container). * It must be a deep bottom bowl and work must be fast.*  Put the nut meal in a mesh strainer (or use your hand – working quickly) and sprinkle it in about 2 tablespoons at a time – folding it carefully for about 40 folds.   Be sure to exclude any large chunks/pieces of nuts. Again, work quickly and carefully as to not deflate the mixture. When all but about 2 Tbsp. of nut meal remain, quickly and steadily pour the warm butter over the batter.  Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate, about 13 or so folds.
With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon.  **If collected butter remains at the bottom of the bowl, do not add it to the batter!  It will impede the cake rising while baking.
Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when it is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan.  Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes.  Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan.  Cool the cake completely.
*If not using the cake right away, wrap thoroughly in plastic wrap, then in a plastic bag, then in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If freezing, wrap in foil, then the bag and use within 2-3 months.

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Genoise:Straight out of the oven: surface becomes uniform as it cools

This Recipetips link is a very good help in understanding how eggs should be beaten for the cake. It would be a good idea to use parchment paper under the cake as it was difficult to take it out. I used a 9″ pan to bake the genoise.

Sugar Syrup
Makes 1 cup, good for one 10-inch cake – split into 3 layers
1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. dark rum or orange flavored liqueur

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liqueur. Cool slightly before using on the cake.  *Can be made in advance.

Praline Buttercream
1 recipe Swiss Buttercream
1/3 cup praline paste
1 ½ – 2 Tbsp. Jamaican rum (optional)

Blend ½ cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream.  Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine.  Blend in rum.

Swiss Buttercream
4 large. egg whites
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 ½ -2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier or liqueur of your choice
1 tsp. vanilla

Place the egg whites in a large/ bowl of a electric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until the whites are foamy and they begin to thicken (just before the soft peak stage). Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of simmering water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water. Then, whisk in the sugar by adding 1-2 tablespoon of sugar at a time over a minutes time. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120 degrees) and the sugar is dissolved.  The mixture should look thick and like whipped marshmallows.
Remove from pan and with either the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and sugar on med-high until its a thick, cool meringue – about 5-7 minutes. *Do not overbeat*. Set aside.
Place the butter in a separate clean mixing bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed for 40-60 seconds, or until smooth and creamy. *Do not overbeat or the butter will become toooooo soft.*
On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, over 1 minute.  Add the liqueur and vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy.
Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.
Wait! My  buttercream won’t come together! Reheat the buttercream briefly over simmering water for about 5 seconds, stirring with a wooden spoon. Be careful and do not overbeat. The mixture will look broken with some liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Return the bowl to the mixer and whip on medium speed just until the cream comes back together.
Wait! My buttercream is too soft! Chill the buttercream in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes and rewhip. If that doesn’t work, cream an additional 2-4 Tbsp. of butter in a small bowl– making sure the butter is not as soft as the original amount, so make sure is cool and smooth. On low speed, quickly add the creamed  butter to the buttercream, 1 Tbsp. at a time.
Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 6 months. If freezing, store in 2 16-oz. plastic containers and thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for several hours.

It helps to have the bowl chilled in which you make the buttercream.
Praline Paste
1 cup (4 ½ oz.) Hazelnuts, toasted/skinless
2/3 cup Sugar

Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter.
Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet.  Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals.  If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides.  Cook until the mixture starts to bubble.  **Remember – extremely hot mixture.** Then onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor.  Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cook dry place.  Do not refrigerate.

Praline is easy to make, as long as you are patient. It gets burnt easily, thankfully mine didn’t even though it got darker than it should. The consistency of the praline paste becomes like peanut butter when processed. This is necessary so that there are no pieces in the buttercream and it is smooth enough to pipe with.

Strawberry Glaze
Good for one 10-inch cake
2/3 cup thick strawberry preserves
1 Tbsp. water

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and preserves to a slow boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, add water as needed.
Remove from heat and, using a strainer, press the mixture through the mesh and discard any remnants. With a pastry brush, apply the glaze onto the cake while the cake is still warm.  If the glaze is too thick, thin to a preferred consistency with drops of water.

Ganache Glaze
Makes about 1 cup, enough to cover the top and sides of a 9 or 10 inch layer or tube cake
**Ganache can take on many forms.  While warm – great fudge sauce.  While cool or lukewarm – semisweet glaze. Slightly chilled – can be whipped into a filling/frosting. Cold & solid – the base of candied chocolate truffles.
6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt
6 oz. (¾ cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier, Cointreay, or dark Jamaican rum (optional)
¾ tsp. vanilla
½ – 1 tsp. hot water, if needed

Blend vanilla and liqueur/rum together and set aside.
Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in the basket of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside.
Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reached a gentle boil.  Once to the gently boil, immediately and carefully pour over the chocolate.  Leave it alone for one minute, then slowly stir and mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Carefully blend in vanilla mixture. If the surface seems oily, add ½ – 1 tsp hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable. If it doesn’t thicken, refrigerate for about 5 minutes, but make sure it doesn’t get too cold!

Assembling Cake

Cut a cardboard disk slightly smaller than the cake.  Divide the cake into 3 layers and place the first layer top-side down on the disk. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layer with 3-4 Tbsp. of warm sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup of praline buttercream and set aside.
Spread the bottom layer with a ¼-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream.  Cover with ½ of the whipped cream, leaving ¼-inch border around the edge of the cake.  Place the middle layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spreading with buttercream. Cover with the remaining whipped cream.
Moisten the cut side of the third layer with additional sugar syrup and place cut side down on the cake.  Gently, press the sides of the cake to align the layers. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes.
Lift the cake by sliding your palm under the cardboard. Holding a serrated or very sharp night with an 8-inch blade held parallel to the sides of the cake, trim the sides so that they are perfectly straight. Cut a slight bevel at the top to help the glaze drip over the edge. Brush the top and sides of the cake with warm apricot glaze, sealing the cut areas completely.  Chill while you prepare the ganache.
Place a rack over a large shallow pan to catch the ganache drippings.  Remove the gateau from the refrigerator and put it the rack. With a metal spatula in hand, and holding the saucepan about 10 inches above the cake, pour the ganache onto the cake’s center.  Move the spatula over the top of the ganache about 4 times to get a smooth and mirror-like appearance.  The ganache should cover the top and run down the sides of the cake. When the ganache has been poured and is coating the cake, lift one side of the rack and bang it once on the counter to help spread the ganache evenly and break any air bubbles. (Work fast before setting starts.) Patch any bare spots on the sides with a smaller spatula, but do not touch the top after the “bang”.  Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing.
To garnish the cake, fit a 12 – 14-inch pastry bag with a #114 large leaf tip. Fill the bag with the reserved praline cream.  Stating ½ inch from the outer edge of the cake, position the pastry tube at a 90 degree angle with the top almost touching the top of the cake. Apply pressure to the pastry bag, moving it slightly toward the center of the cake.  As the buttercream flows on the cake, reverse the movement backward toward the edge of the cake and finish by pulling the bag again to the center. Stop applying pressure and press the bag downward, then quickly pull the tip up to break the flow of frosting.  Repeat, making 12 leaves evenly spaced around the surface of the cake.
Make a second row of leaves on the top of the first row, moving the pastry bag about ¾ inch closer to the center.  The leaves should overlap.  Make a 3rd row, moving closer and closer to the center. Add a 4th row if you have the room. But, leave a 2-inch space in the center for a chopped filbert garnish. Refrigerate uncovered for 3-4 hours to allow the cake to set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving.
Leftover cake can be covered with foil and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

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The last layer : Thinning out in the middle:)

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One last look, not too bad, eh!

Expenditure:

  • Hazelnuts- 1 lb $6.69 from Trader Joe’s (about 1/2 a cup left)
  • Cake Flour – $3.19 from Kroger Lots left
  • Unsalted Butter-$3.09 from Kroger half a stick left
  • Semisweet Chocolate 8 oz  $3.30 from Kroger 2 oz. left
  • Heavy Cream-$1.50 from Kroger
  • Lite Corn Syrup-$1.99 from Kroger lots left

Total: 19.76……not too bad.

Before I forget , this cake is dedicated to my mother whose birthday was on  the 18th and who loves cakes flavored with Rum. It just incidentally so happened that this cake had rum in it.

Even though I didn’t like the nutty texture of the cake initially, it matured on us and we liked it more after a day. It took us 11 days to finish the cake between the 3 of us and it was great till the last day. I know, sounds weird but it took us that long to eat it. I am glad I tried it.

Check out Daring Bakers’ blogroll for much more beautiful pictures and cakes.

Posted in -Butter, -Cake Flour, -Cream, -Hazelnuts, -Strawberry, Alcohol, Chocolate, Daring Bakers, Eggs | Tagged: , , , | 27 Comments »

Marbled Tea Eggs

Posted by vivnidhi on July 27, 2008

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Stained by Addiction: Marbled Tea Eggs

I am a big fan of Martin Yan, the celebrated chef of Chinese cuisine with his famous Yan Can Cook show on television. He taught me how to mince garlic and ginger in seconds. Anybody who visits me gets a performance by me:) . Yeah, yeah, I know I like to show off…….:). I used to love his show and I watched him so much that I actually learnt from him…..now that says a lot. A few days back I came across his book : Martin Yan Quick & Easy at the library. This book is a companion volume to his public television series. I couldn’t help but bring it home.

One recipe that I tried and liked a lot was marbled tea eggs. I had heard of tea eggs from my husband when he had an authentic Chinese meal at a friend’s place so I wanted to try it too.

In Taiwan, tea eggs are a fixture of convenience stores. Through 7-Eleven chains alone, an average of 40 million tea eggs are sold per year………….source Wikipedia

The best thing is that these hard boiled eggs keep well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. It was great for breakfast when we were out of home. These are interesting addition to a salad or soup too or just as a snack.

Here’s the recipe adapted from Martin Yan’s Quick & Easy:

  • Eggs 4
  • Spring Onion coarsely chopped
  • Ginger 1″ piece. minced
  • Soya sauce 1/4 cup
  • Regular Black Tea 2 bags
  • Dark brown sugar 1 Tbsp.
  • Ground cinnamon a pinch
  • Ground star anise a pinch
  • Ground cloves a pinch
  • Ground fennel a pinch
  • Pepper a pinch
  • Cinnamon Stick 1

Chinese five spice powder can be used in the recipe instead of the ground spices if available. It can be purchased ready made from an Chinese grocery store. Since I did not have it, I used the ground spices.

Place the eggs with cold water in a saucepan. Cover and bring to simmer over medium heat. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

Drain the eggs and rinse them with cold water. When cool enough to handle, gently tap each egg all over with a spoon until hairline cracks cover the entire shell.

Return the eggs to the pan. Add all the rest of the ingredients and some water to cover the eggs completely. Place over low heat, cover and simmer for at least 15 minutes or for up to 1 hour for a more intense color. I like to simmer only for 30 minutes, otherwise the eggs tend to get too tough for my taste.

Remove from heat, let eggs cool in the liquid and then refrigerate, still in the liquid, at least overnight or for up to a week.

Peel them just before eating. I like them best with some mayonnaise mixed with soya sauce and balsamic vinegar. Another interesting recipe for tea eggs is here.

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All Cracked Up for CLICK…photography event hosted by Jugalbandi

These marbled eggs are also on their way to Happy Love Strawberry’s 18th Birthday Party and the theme is Welcome to Wonderland. Have fun, everyone!!

Posted in -Cinnamon, -cloves, -Ginger, -Spring Onions, -Star Anise, Eggs, Tea | Tagged: , , | 16 Comments »

Here’s Hot and Sour Soup

Posted by vivnidhi on May 31, 2008

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This is a big favorite in  the house with “Indian Chinese” food. So, here’s a soup- Chinese but completely Desi. Credit for this recipe goes to Mrs. Minocha of Aurangabad, India who taught us to cook Indian Chinese food. A lot of my friends and I have learnt some good cooking from her.

The Recipe:

  • Green Bell Pepper 1 chopped coarse
  • Cabbage 1/2 cup chopped thin
  • carrots 2 cut into cubes
  • Green Beans chopped into 2 ” lengths 1/2 cup
  • cauliflower 2 flowerets broken into smaller pieces
  • garlic 6-8 cloves minced
  • Soya Sauce 4 Tbsp.
  • Vinegar 1 Tbsp.
  • sugar 1 tsp.
  • Black pepper powder 1/2 tsp.
  • Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp.
  • Cornstarch 3 Tbsp.
  • Vegetable Oil 1 tsp.
  • Spring onions 1 bunch chopped fine
  • Boiled egg whites 2 chopped (optional)
  • Salt to taste

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Getting ready for the soup

Heat the oil and fry garlic for a minute.

Add cauliflower, french beans and carrots. Fry a little more till they soften a wee bit.

Add red chili powder and 6 cups of water. Let the water come to a boil and then add soya sauce, sugar, vinegar, bell peppers and cabbage. Boil the soup for a couple of minutes more.

Lastly add spring onion and black pepper powder. Make a paste of cornstarch in cold water and and add to the soup. Taste for salt and vinegar. Add more if desired and serve hot.

Bow when you are praised;)

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The soup’s hot!!

I would like to send this as an entry to Eat Healthy – Fiber Rich, an event hosted by Sangeeth.

And yes, this is also my entry to Fortune Cooking Contest hosted by Nithu & Shriya. It is dedicated to my mother whose sun sign is cancer, hence she qualifies with the cauliflower entry and she loves the soup too.

Now, are there any other events missing my entries??

Posted in -Cabbage, -Carrot, -Cauliflower, -Garlic, -Green Beans, -Green Bell Pepper, -Spring Onions, -Tofu, Eggs | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Masala Coffee Cake

Posted by vivnidhi on April 25, 2008

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Masala Coffee Cake

Flour, Eggs, Sugar and Spice……….a tasty cake that’s low on cholesterol too………..isn’t that nice.

Ok, lame attempt at rhyming. I baked a cake that can be called as my recipe for the first time. I have baked several cakes following other recipes ( and following them to a ‘T’) but this time, I tried to bake a cake as I please……………and succeeded:).   Hurray  !! Ok, let me not brag too much………..I admit the idea was my Mom’s but …………..Mummy had baked a cake with strong clove flavor which was in turn inspired by masala coffee. To me, Mummy’s masala coffee was a revelation too :))

I made a smaller cake (I was experimenting;), not sure, it would turn out this good! )

The recipe: Ideal for 9″ round pan or even a 9″x 5″ loaf pan

  • cloves ground 1 Tbsp/ 10 cloves of cloves ground fine
  • nutmeg  ground 1/2 Tbsp.
  • ginger ground 1 tsp./fresh grated ginger 1/2 tsp.
  • instant coffee 2 Tbsp.
  • sugar 6 Tbsp.
  • milk 1 Tbsp.
  • water 1 Tbsp.
  • egg whites 4
  • margarine/ butter 1/3 cup
  • sugar 2/3 cup
  • vanilla extract 1/2 tsp.
  • all purpose flour 2/3 cup
  • whole wheat flour 1/3 cup
  • baking powder 1 Tbsp.
  • baking soda 1/2 tsp.
  • cashews, raisins and chocolate chips for garnish

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Instant coffee, ground nutmeg, ground ginger and cloves ready to be ground in my shining mortar and pestle

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare the pan by greasing the pan and coating it with flour.

Mix the cloves, nutmeg and ginger with water and heat in the microwave. Add milk, sugar and coffee to the hot spices. I whipped the coffee really well to make it quite foamy. It changed its color from very dark brown to very pale brown. I even earned myself a blister in trying too hard:).

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Spice mix with water and coffee

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Coffee well beaten up!!

Beat the egg whites till soft peaks form. Set it aside. Beat margarine and sugar well. Add vanilla extract and beat again. In a large bowl, mix the flours, baking powder and baking soda. To the flour mixture, add the beaten margarine, sugar mix. Next, fold in the egg whites and the beaten coffee. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 22-25 minutes.One could add the dry fruits in this batter as well, but I added the garnish after the cake was kept in the oven for 20 minutes.

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Here’s my cake batter………..

And, voila……….spicy masala coffee cake is ready!!

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…………And here’s my delicious masala coffee cake……….Enjoy!!

This is my entry to Sunita’s Think spice…Think cloves event hosted by  Canela & Comino ……….author of wonderful Peruvian food blog.

Posted in -All Purpose flour, -Cashews, -cloves, -Ginger, -Nutmeg, -Raisins, -Whole wheat flour, Chocolate, Coffee, Eggs, Flours, Nuts, Spices, Sweets | Tagged: , | 9 Comments »