चर्चे चौके के Charche Chauke Ke

Hey! Join in the Kitchen Gossip!!

Posts Tagged ‘Daring Bakers’

Macarons………..

Posted by vivnidhi on October 27, 2009

Daring Bakers finally…..made MACARONS .

measure_w180x180 presents…..

100_4145

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.

100_4121

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:

100_4123 100_4124

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

100_4126

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.

100_4127

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.

100_4128

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.

100_4129

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.

100_4158

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 🙂 .

100_4135

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)

Advertisements

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

Daring Bakers Bake Dobos Torte

Posted by vivnidhi on August 27, 2009

Whisk at 180 x 180 (largest)presents

 aug2_132

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.)

aug2_115 aug2_116

Whipped egg whites and yellows whipped with sugar

aug2_117 aug2_118

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

aug2_119 aug2_120

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.

aug2_97 aug2_104

Chopped chocolate and eggs with sugar

aug2_106 aug2_108

Whipped eggs and boiling water ready for cooking

aug2_110 aug2_121

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.

aug2_124 aug2_128

Preparation for caramel layer

aug2_129

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.

aug2_140

Well! It’s been cut

aug2_156

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 :-))

aug2_155

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

——————————————————————————————————-

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:

July1_44

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.

July1_39

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 .

July1_31 July1_32

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…..

100_3688

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 🙂

100_3679

Don’t they look cute…….

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

100_3682 100_3686

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.

100_3674

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.

100_3693

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

100_3709

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

100_3700

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

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

100_3711

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….

————————————————————————————————–

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 »

More than a month late : Daring Bakers May: Apple Strudel

Posted by vivnidhi on July 5, 2009

This was the May’s Daring Baker Challenge. No, its not a case of dementia……..just pure procrastination. Its been strange strange past months, I would make Daring Bakers & Cooks challenges with a lot  of enthusiasm and then not post them. Everybody in the house seems to be suffering from a severe case of Writer’s Block. I really hope Lis and Ivonne don’t kick me out of the group. This month (whole of June), I sat and pondered and planned what I would do with the recipe……..but the truth is : I haven’t made it yet.

Anyway, often in life I have gone in my self-created shells and each time emerged stronger. So, I am hoping that the same would happen this time too. Cooking and baking has kept me sane all these years when I have not paid any particular attention to my career. I remember hearing somewhere (blame the radio for all my weird stories) that the happiest workers are those who work in creative fields. You bet, the only creativity I have is in the kitchen:-). This is the very thread that keeps me excited about the next day. When my mother was here a year back, she was surprised beyond belief to hear my then 2 year old son tell her all about Indian spices, where his Mom kept them, which utensils she used for what purpose.

Oh , now that I have blabbered about everything else, let’s get on with the strudel. I found it to be delicious and a perfect spring-summery light dessert.

Vanilla at 180 x 180 (largest)presents:

May_58

Mini Apple Strudel topped with candied apple peels and caramel sauce

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

Preparation time
Total: 2 hours 15 minutes – 3 hours 30 minutes

15-20 min to make dough
30-90 min to let dough rest/to prepare the filling
20-30 min to roll out and stretch dough
10 min to fill and roll dough
30 min to bake
30 min to cool

Apple strudel
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

2 tablespoons (30 ml) golden rum
3 tablespoons (45 ml) raisins
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 g) sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick / 115 g) unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 1/2 cups (350 ml) fresh bread crumbs
strudel dough (recipe below)
1/2 cup (120 ml, about 60 g) coarsely chopped walnuts
2 pounds (900 g) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch-thick slices (use apples that hold their shape during baking)

1. Mix the rum and raisins in a bowl. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in another bowl.

2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the breadcrumbs and cook whilst stirring until golden and toasted. This will take about 3 minutes. Let it cool completely.

3. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with baking paper (parchment paper). Make the strudel dough as described below. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter over the dough using your hands (a bristle brush could tear the dough, you could use a special feather pastry brush instead of your hands). Sprinkle the buttered dough with the bread crumbs. Spread the walnuts about 3 inches (8 cm) from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-(15cm)-wide strip. Mix the apples with the raisins (including the rum), and the cinnamon sugar. Spread the mixture over the walnuts.

4. Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.

5. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.

Strudel dough
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

1. Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.
Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.

2. Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally.
Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).

3. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can.
Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.

4. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it’s about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.

Tips
– Ingredients are cheap so we would recommend making a double batch of the dough, that way you can practice the pulling and stretching of the dough with the first batch and if it doesn’t come out like it should you can use the second batch to give it another try;
– The tablecloth can be cotton or polyster;
– Before pulling and stretching the dough, remove your jewelry from hands and wrists, and wear short-sleeves;
– To make it easier to pull the dough, you can use your hip to secure the dough against the edge of the table;
– Few small holes in the dough is not a problem as the dough will be rolled, making (most of) the holes invisible.

May_67 

Milk Bread for bread crumbs

May_19

This is what happened to the bread

May_20

Sliced apples, flour, bread crumbs and chopped nuts

May_25

Here’s  the dough

May_27

This is what I could do with it

May_30

And, here’s  the result……yeah at least some of it

May_53

Decided that I do not like sliced apples, minced them up with the rest of the stuff and it stayed marinated in rum for a good 3-4 days…………:-)

May_54

Here’s the result …hot out from the oven

May_26

Oh..this is what I did with the apple peels………candied them 🙂 ………..sliced the peels, blanched them in boiling water for a bit, threw the water and then reduced them with sugar, spread them on parchment and let them dry. Topped them on the strudels in the last 5 minutes of baking. (My son could not stop eating these 🙂 )

May_63

Loved these mini strudels topped with candied apple peels and caramel sauce

Have a bite……

It’s a shame I did not post this scrumptious strudel on time even though I made and took pictures way before the challenge date. Yet I am posting it now:-). Hopefully I will post on time henceforth( don’t apply this to the June challenge for which I am late already:-) ). Thank you Linda and Courtney for a delicious challenge.

Expenditure: Zilch

I had everything at home, specially the big box of granny smith apples(approx. 20 lb for $2) I picked up at Joe’s Randazzo on my early morning finds.

Posted in - Bread Flour, -All Purpose flour, -Bread crumbs, -Butter, -Cider Vinegar, -Cinnamon, -Granny Smith, -Raisins, -Vegetable Oil, Alcohol, Daring Bakers, Sugar | Tagged: , , | Leave a 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!

Apr_84

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.

Apr_39 Apr_40

Crushed Chocolate Wafers, almonds and butter

Apr_43

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.

Apr_44 Apr_47

Cream cheese on the left and creamed ingredients on the right

Apr_49

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.

Apr_54 Apr_55

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

Apr_57

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!

Apr_60

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!

r100_3304

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
----------------------------------------------------------------------
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

ninja_w180x180 100_3193

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.

100_3189

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.

100_3193

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.

100_3181 100_3182

Chopping & TVP in salted water

100_3186 100_3188

Drained TVP and here’s my soy stew

100_3194

Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna

100_3202

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

——————————————————————————————–

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

Feb_44

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.

Feb_39Feb_38

Microwave melted Chocolate & 8″ spring form pan

Feb_40

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.

Feb_37 Feb_74

Pitted fresh cherries and the making of cherry caramel sauce

Finally……

Feb_78

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

————————————————————————–

Total………………..$ 8.25

 

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

100_2836

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.

100-2845.jpg

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:(

——————————————————————————————

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 »

Lavash Crackers with Watermelon Salsa, Mutabal and Cilantro Hummus

Posted by vivnidhi on September 27, 2008

100_2496

Lavash Crackers

Another Daring Bakers Challenge. For the first time in 3 months, not that big a challenge for me as I am quite familiar with homemade crackers and have been working with yeast every day these days………..as “the bake your own bread” ghost has entered my body.  This has led to the husband going to the grocery store and snacking on some “store” bread and the 3 year old using his resources fully “If I will be a good boy, will you buy me sliced bread ?” Now who would have imagined that 3 year olds can be determined to be good …………for bread. Sounds like either I live on an uninhabited island or are an island myself. Well , a fabulous cook and bread baker is to blame for all this……….her book has enchanted me like no other………..More later.

Don’t worry about me rambling for no reason…….its been a month that I wrote anything at all and I am so full of things to say. Tackled this challenge really early this month but just didn’t write the post………so here I am up at 4:45 am in the morning determined to post on the specified date. Ah, determination, ………so much is brewing in my mind these days and I am so involved in the world matters ………..on my dining table…….. that its better that I do not post anything……..you can see ……….can’t you?

OK, I heard about Lavash and tasted this beautiful bread when a friend of mine brought it for me from the most authentic Armenian bakery in the bay area in California. This friend is Armenian and Armen is his name 🙂 . Armen is a wonderful structural engineer who helped me get conversant with the American Civil Engineering. I volunteered for him before I started working……..I have spent too many a fabulous evenings discussing the world with him and have learnt a lot from him. I know, if we’d meet again you would still wonder how I can drink decaf………. Someday, I hope to meet him again and introduce him to his grandkids. Hope you are keeping good health Armen, I have thought of you a lot as I prepared these crackers. Lavash bread is an amazing bread………it looks big and crackery but if you roll it in a wet towel………..it gets soft. Fill and roll. Makes amazing sandwiches.

Shel, of Musings From the Fishbowl and Natalie of Gluten A Go Go hosted this month’s fabulous challenge. There is a great alternative baking side to the Daring Bakers ….its a great resource for all kinds of alternative baking. We always make them work too hard. This month’s challenge was hosted by that branch of daring bakers’ making some history and letting us eat the delicious results. A big thank you to them for letting us get so creative.

Here’s the Recipe:

RECIPE – Recipe Reference:  The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread, by Peter Reinhart. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA.  Copyright 2001.  ISBN-10: 1-58008-268-8, ISBN-13: 978-158008-268-6.

Here’s a simple formula for making snappy Armenian-style crackers, perfect for breadbaskets, company and kids…It is similar to the many other Middle Eastern and Northern African flatbreads known by different names, such as mankoush or mannaeesh (Lebanese), barbari (Iranian), khoubiz or khobz (Arabian), aiysh (Egyptian), kesret and mella (Tunisian), pide or pita (Turkish), and pideh (Armenian).  The main difference between these breads is either how thick or thin the dough is rolled out, or the type of oven in which they are baked (or on which they are baked, as many of these breads are cooked on stones or red-hot pans with a convex surface)…

The key to a crisp lavash,…is to roll out the dough paper-thin.  The sheet can be cut into crackers in advance or snapped into shards after baking.  The shards make a nice presentation when arranged in baskets.

I do not like too thin a cracker otherwise I end up hurting my mouth somewhere with a sharp end…I know, I know :)), so I like mine with some substance without being bready.

Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers

* 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)
* 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
* 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
* 1 Tbsp. (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
* 1 Tbsp. (.5 oz) vegetable oil
* 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
* Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

I made 4 batches. Used whole wheat flour (American, store bought, from a local mill though) for 1 batch and 3 batches with Indian “Atta…..whole wheat flour” which is actually a finer grind of the same thing but not as fine as all purpose flour. I am not really aware of the gluten content of atta. I liked mine with the atta flour;)……….old habits die hard.

100_2495

Whole wheat flour and Atta dough before proofing

1.  In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball.  You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

I needed all the water and needed to knead and knead and knead. I was lazy , just used my hands as I didn’t want to wash the mixer but after 4 batches in one go……….I really questioned the wisdom of doing so. The good part was that my hands were in no condition to knead bread dough for a couple of days and the folks at home heaved a sigh of relief:).

2.  For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough:  Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter.  Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed.  The dough should pass the windowpane test (see http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-if-Bre … ong-Enough for a description of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled.  Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
or
2.  For Gluten Free Cracker Dough:  The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4.  For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough:  Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter.  Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour.  Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches.  You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax.  At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down.  Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes.  When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes.  Line a sheet pan with baking parchment.  Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment.  If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.
or
4.  For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Lay out two sheets of parchment paper.  Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment.  Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches.  Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper.  Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf.  Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.)  Be careful with spices and salt – a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough.  You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking.  If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.
5.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

I tried all these seeds individually and pretzel salt individually and all in one. The sesame ones tasted best:). I failed to get the seeds to stick the first time around. With the rest, I would finish rolling out, keep the rolled dough aside, sprinkle the seeds on the counter and roll one last time to get the seeds to stick well. I also used the fork to mark the rolled dough. This prevents the crackers from puffing up, though it won’t puff up if you have kneaded the dough well. But, again its a habit:).

6.  When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.  You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

RECIPES – Toppings
You may use your choice of topping/dip/salsa/relish/spread for your lavash crackers as long as it is vegan and gluten free.

The first evening I was in a rush and had to finish a watermelon sitting in the refrigerator. The watermelon was not too sweet and so a salsa made from it really perked it up. Recipe is from “Watermelon Fire and Ice Salsa”  at allrecipes.com . Delicious!!

100_2497

Lavash Crackers with Watermelon salsa

Next I wanted to make an Armenian dip…….as authentic as I could make it:). Mutabal is similar to Baba Ghanoush and has chopped onions and cumin in it.

Mutabal Recipe:

  • Eggplant 1 big
  • Olive oil 1/2 tsp.
  • Tahini 1 1/2  Tbsp.
  • Garlic 2 cloves
  • Lemon Juice 1 Tbsp.
  • Onion 2 Tbsp. very finely chopped
  • Cumin powder 1/4 tsp. dry roasted
  • Salt to taste
  • Parsley 1 Tbsp. chopped fine for garnish
  • Olive oil 1 tsp. for garnish

Spread some olive oil on the shiny eggplant and use a fork to make some holes in it. Put the eggplant under the broiler and let it brown on all sides. I sometimes turn it and sometimes I don’t. Works both ways. Should take about 15-20 minutes.

Once the eggplant is cool enough to be handled. Peel the skin off and remove the big bulk of seeds, if there. I take the bulk of seeds out, if it is a seedy eggplant, a few always remain.

Next I mixed the eggplant flesh, tahini, salt, garlic and lemon juice in a blender. Came out creamy. Mix the onion it it , sprinkle with cumin powder and garnish with parsley and a tsp. of olive oil.

First bite into the mutabal with crackers was “yeah, not bad” and then I kept going back to it. Its addicting. I also made a cilantro hummus, but forgot to take a picture:) . Recipe from here.

These were sent off as a gift to a dear friend who has to sometimes suffer my baking escapades:).

Variety Lavash crackers with Mutabal and Cilantro hummus (ran away from the picture)

In addition to my usual crackers, these will be made often:). Thanks for  a  lovely challenge.

Now, who all of the daring bakers have made what……….lets check it out Daring Bakers Blogroll……..

Expenditure:
Whole wheat Flour : $ 1.68
Total $ 1.68
That’s neat……….isn’t it;).

Posted in -Caraway seeds, -Cumin seeds, -Poppy seeds, -Red chili powder, -Sesame seeds, -Whole wheat flour, Sugar, Yeast | Tagged: , , | 15 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.

100_2474

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.

100_2373 100_2379 100_2382

100_2383 100_2385 100_2387

100_2388

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.

100_2369 100_2370 100_2372

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:)).

100_2397 100_2401

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

100_2412

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

The son had a blast assembling these!!

100_2416 100_2418

100_2421

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.

c100_2114

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.

100_2112

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.

100_2118 100_2117

The last layer : Thinning out in the middle:)

100_2115

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 »