Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Let's roll it up really fast!

Oh my! I didn’t realise it’s the 27th already! Well in fact it’s almost the 28th!

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an Ice-cream filled Swiss Roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home

I pretty much followed the recipe and directions (strange for me I know)… maybe I’m growing up…

The Swiss rolls:
• 6 medium sized eggs
• 1 C / 225 gms caster sugar /8 oz+ extra for rolling
• 6 tblsp / 45gms/ 3 oz of all purpose (plain) flour + 5 tblsp/40gm /2.5 oz of natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted together
• 2 tblsp /30ml / 1 fl oz of boiling water
• a little oil for brushing the pans

For the filling:
• 2C / 500 mls/ 16 fl oz of whipping cream
• 1 vanilla pod, cut into small pieces of about ½ cm (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
• 5 tblsp / 70gms/2.5oz of caster sugar

Pre heat the oven at 200 deg C /400 deg F approximately. Brush the baking pans ( 11 inches by 9 inches ) with a little oil and line with greaseproof baking paper. If you have just one pan, bake one cake and then let the pan cool completely before using it for the next cake. In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and sugar and beat till very thick; when the beaters are lifted, it should leave a trail on the surface for at least 10 seconds. Add the flour mixture, in three batches and fold in gently with a spatula. Fold in the water. Divide the mixture among the two baking pans and spread it out evenly, into the corners of the pans. Place a pan in the centre of the pre heated oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes or till the centre is springy to the touch. Spread a kitchen towel on the counter and sprinkle a little caster sugar over it. Turn the cake on to the towel and peel away the baking paper. Trim any crisp edges. Starting from one of the shorter sides, start to make a roll with the towel going inside. Cool the wrapped roll on a rack, seam side down. Repeat the same for the next cake as well. Grind together the vanilla pieces and sugar in a food processer till nicely mixed together. If you are using vanilla extract, just grind the sugar on its own and then add the sugar and extract to the cream. In a large bowl, add the cream and vanilla-sugar mixture and beat till very thick. Divide the cream mixture between the completely cooled cakes. Open the rolls and spread the cream mixture, making sure it does not go right to the edges (a border of ½ an inch should be fine). Roll the cakes up again, this time without the towel. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge till needed, seam side down.

The only different things I’ve made is that I used a milk chocolate ganache instead of the chocolate fudge and I added cherries to my whipped cream for filling the swiss roll. My ice creams were ginger and cherry, and they were beautiful together!
Cut the Swiss rolls into 20 equal slices ( approximately 2 cms each ). Cover the bottom and sides of the bowl in which you are going to set the dessert with cling film/plastic wrap.  Arrange two slices at the bottom of the pan, with their seam sides facing each other. Arrange the Swiss roll slices up the bowl, with the seam sides facing away from the bottom, to cover the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till the slices are firm (at least 30 minutes).  Soften the vanilla ice cream. Take the bowl out of the freezer, remove the cling film cover and add the ice cream on top of the cake slices. Spread it out to cover the bottom and sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till firm ( at least 1 hour). Add the fudge sauce over the vanilla ice cream, cover and freeze till firm. ( at least an hour). Soften the chocolate ice cream and spread it over the fudge sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4-5 hours till completely set. Remove the plastic cover, and place the serving plate on top of the bowl. Turn it upside down and remove the bowl and the plastic lining. If the bowl does not come away easily, wipe the outsides of the bowl with a kitchen towel dampened with hot water. The bowl will come away easily. Keep the cake out of the freezer for at least 10 minutes before slicing, depending on how hot your region is. Slice with a sharp knife, dipped in hot water.

Want a slice? Or the whole thing maybe? I know I would eat it again if I still had it...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chocolate chip cookie ravioli

There are 3 things you must know about me:

1st: I love cookies (you didn’t know that, right?)

2nd: I always seem to have leftover cookie dough around (not literally around me, it’s usually frozen, although the other day I went to the gym with a bit of dough stuck to my elbow, gross I know…)

3rd: I love to come up with different way of using said leftover dough (as you may have noticed here, here, here or even here)

These Cookie Ravioli are just another fun idea you can use when you (like me) have bits of frozen dough or you can even go completely wild and make them on propose for this!

You’ll need chocolate chip cookie dough, sugar cookie dough, a round cookie cutter, a fork and a small brush, that’s all.

To make the ravioli, start by rolling the sugar cookie dough and cut circles with the cookie cutter. Then measure about a teaspoon of the chocolate chip cookie dough, roll it and place it in the middle of half the circles (the other half will go on top).

Brush the sides of the circles (around the chocolate chip cookie dough balls) with a small pastry brush with water. Place another circle of sugar cookie dough on top and press around with a fork to seal it. Bake in a pre heated oven at 180ºC (350ºF) until the edges are golden brown.

I also imagine you can add a lot more things to the filling to make these extra yummy. Things like bananas, peanut butter, jams, caramel (or all of them together) will work really well too.

I like my ravioli with tomato sauce, so for fun I served these with raspberry jam. What do you usually do with leftover dough? And have you counted the times I wrote dough?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Foodbuzz 24x24: A baking class to "baking virgins"

I have 2 friends that were virgins. Baking virgins, that is! Cookies, cakes, pastries, all new stuff to them… Poor things, they had no idea!… I’m talking of not knowing what a pinch (of salt) means. I’m talking about not knowing what creaming butter is or the difference between mixing and whisking. Really, they needed help! They needed a big sweet help!

I offered to give them a basic baking class, because I believe that a person that can bake cookies is a happier person! Cristina took the pictures and Sandra was the hands-on girl. Check out our fun afternoon while these girls lost their baking virginity!

Fisrt things first. Let’s talking about the recipes. At this point they still didn’t believe they were going to be able to bake those things!

The ingredients for the sugar cookies. Basic ingredients, basic cookies, basic happiness!

Sandra got right into action making the sugar cookies! I’m drying her sweat with a towel, she was not used to that kind of effort!

Nothing like putting your hands in the dough! Work it girl, work it! You can do it!

Sandra had those cookie cutters since last Christmas waiting to be used, in case you were wondering why we were doing snow flakes cookies in the Summer. I guess she’ll bake lots of cookies this Christmas now that she learned!

Sugar Cookies

• 125 gr butter
• 125 gr sugar
• 250 gr flour
• 1 egg
• ½ tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp vanilla

Mix the butter with the sugar, add the egg whisked with the vanilla. Mix the flour with the baking powder then add to the butter-sugar-egg mixture. Mix just until well incorporated. Take to the fridge for a couple of hours. Roll the dough, cut in the desired shapes and bake in a pre heated oven at 180ºC (350ºF) for about 8-10 minutes.

By special request of the girls we did “Areias”. These are very popular cookies here in Portugal and the name can be translated to “sand cookies”. They’re like a shortbread kind of cookie flavoured with lemon and covered with cinnamon sugar.

Why does everybody love raw dough? Yummy, it’s lemony!

Rolling little balls of dough. Come on, even a kid can do this!

Areias (“Sand” cookies)

• 100 gr sugar
• 200 gr butter
• 300 gr flour
• 1 lemon (zest)
• ¼ tsp salt
• Cinnamon sugar

Mix the softened butter (but not melted) with the sugar. Add the flour, lemon zest and salt. Mix with your hands or with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, just until it all comes together. The dough should be soft but not sticky. Roll little balls and bake them in a 180ºC (350ºF) preheated oven. They should take about 10 minutes to bake. When they’re out of the oven and when they’re still hot (but not so hot you’re gonna burn yourself) dip them in a bowl of cinnamon sugar and shake the excess with your hands.

We also baked some oatmeal cookies. These were like an “everything cookie”, we added lots of add-ins. Cinnamon, coconut, all kinds of seeds, they had it all… I wanted to show the girls the kind of things they could add to drop cookies.

What’s that? An ice-cream scoop? We’re gonna have ice cream now? Isn’t it cute that baking virgins don’t know you can scoop cookie dough?

While the oatmeal cookies were in the oven we had to take a break to wash the dishes. That was Cristina’s job because she looks stylish doing the dishes, scarf and all…

You can not have a basic baking class without a basic chocolate cake. Everybody need to know how to make chocolate cake. They should teach that at school!

I think Sandra was having a blast mixing the cake!

Instead of cake we made muffins (they take less time to bake)! I won’t show you the pictures of what happened to that bit of batter that was left in the bowl, but you can guess it…

1 Bowl Chocolate Muffins

• 3 eggs
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 cup flour
• ½ cup butter
• ½ cup boiling water
• ½ cup chocolate powder*
• 1/4 tsp salt
• ½ tsp baking powder

* Chocolate powder is highly available in Portugal and used more than actual cocoa powder. It’s a mixture of cocoa powder, with sugar, vanilla and emulsifier. If you want to make it with cocoa powder, just use a bit less (1/3 cup) and you might wanna add a bit of vanilla too.

Beat the eggs with the sugar. Add the melted butter and mix well. Add the powders (flour, salt, chocolate and baking powder) and mix to incorporate. Finally add the boiling water mixing softly until you have a nice uniform batter that will be less thick than most cake batters because of the water. Scoop the batter into muffin cases and bake in a 180ºC (350ºF) preheated oven until a toothpick comes out clean. We had some cinnamon sugar left from the “Areias” and sprinkled that on top before baking them, it adds a nice crunch.

Last but not least we made scones! These are British style scones and are my absolute favourites! In fact from all the things we baked, scones were the girl’s favourite thing! The recipe came from an old book, I can’t even credit it. I’ve been using this recipe for ages…

My favourite Scones

• 250 gr flour
• 1 tbsp baking powder
• 30 gr sugar
• ¼ tsp salt
• 1,5 dl yogurt
• 1-2 tbsp milk
• 60 gr butter

Mix all the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt and sugar) with a whisk. Add the yogurt and softened butter. Mix with your hands (you should not over mix) until it’s all combined. If the dough is a bit dry add 1 or 2 tbsp of milk. If the the dough it to wet add a bit of flour. The dough should be dense but soft and not stick. Roll it high (2.5cm - 1 inch) and cut your scones with a round cookie cutter. Bake in a preheated oven (200ºC - 400ºF) until they’re just golden brown on top.

So here they are, all our baked goods and the two (very proud) not baking virgins anymore!

What a sweet afternoon! We sure had fun… and we sure ate a lot!

Meringue, mousse, ice cream. What's not to like?

Hey June! What happened to you? You're almost gone... But don't go without having this dessert!

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

This is going to be short and sweet. Just like this dessert ;) This month I (almost) followed the recipe exactly. Almost... The main change was that I made an ice cream with the mascarpone cream. It's getting hot here, I needed an ice-cream (I always do anyway). The other thing is that I made it in layers. I like layering stuff, don't ask why. Oh, and I used Baileys. Just because.

Recipe 1: Chocolate Meringue

  • 3 large egg whites
  • ½ cup plus 1 tbsp (110 grams) white granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (30 grams) confectioner’s (icing) sugar
  • 1/3 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200º F (95º C) degrees. Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment and set aside. Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar about 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form. (The whites should be firm but moist.) Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the white. (This looks like it will not happen. Fold gently and it will eventually come together.) Fill a pastry bag with the meringue. Pipe the meringue into whatever shapes you desire. Alternatively, you could just free form your shapes and level them a bit with the back of a spoon. (Class made rounds, hearts, diamonds and an attempt at a clover was made!) Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Recipe 2: Chocolate-Baileys Mascarpone Mousse

  • 1 ½ cups (355 mls) heavy cream (cream with a milk fat content of between 36 and 40 percent)
  • grated zest of 1 average sized lemon
  • 9 ounces (255 grams) 72% chocolate, chopped
  • 1 2/3 cups (390 mls) mascarpone
  • pinch of nutmeg - didn't use it
  • 2 tbsp (30 mls) Grand Marnier (or orange juice) - used Baileys
Put ½ cup (120 mls) of the heavy cream and the lemon zest in a saucepan over medium high heat. Once warm, add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let sit at room temperature until cool.Place the mascarpone, the remaining cup of cream and nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose. Add the Grand Marnier and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. (DO NOT OVERBEAT AS THE MASCARPONE WILL BREAK.) Mix about ¼ of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten. Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse. Again, you could just free form mousse on top of the pavlova.

Recipe 3: Mascarpone Cream (Ice cream)

  • 1 recipe crème anglaise
  • ½ cup (120 mls) mascarpone
  • 2 tbsp (30 mls) Sambucca (optional) - didn't use it
  • ½ cup (120 mls) heavy cream
Prepare the crème anglaise. Slowly whisk in the mascarpone and the Sambucca and let the mixture cool. Put the cream in a bowl and beat with electric mixer until very soft peaks are formed. Fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture.I've churned mine and transformed into an ice cream!

Recipe 4: Crème Anglaise (a component of the Mascarpone Cream above):

  • 1 cup (235 mls) whole milk
  • 1 cup (235 mls) heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 6 tbsp (75 grams) sugar
In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow. Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat. Pour about ½ cup of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to keep from making scrambled eggs. Pour the yolk mixture into the pan with the remaining cream mixture and put the heat back on medium. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon. DO NOT OVERCOOK. Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until the mixture is thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours or overnight.
Layers of crunchy, airy, creamy and chocolatey! Really, what's not to like???

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Croquembouche: "pops" & tiny ones

I'm back from Spain! It was awesome, as always. As soon as I got back it was time for Croquembouche.

Here's a caramelized profiterol (croquembouche style) pop!

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a Piece Montée, or Croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

Pate à Choux
  • ¾ cup (175 ml.) water
  • 6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
  • ¼ Tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Preparing batter: Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly. Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny. As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes. It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.

  • Piping: Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide. Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top. Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).
  • Baking: Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool. Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.
  • Filling: When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze. Use one of these to top your choux and assemble your piece montée.

Hard Caramel Glaze:

  • 1 cup (225 g.) sugar
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice

Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately.

I simply got all my profiteroles filled and caramelized (and drizzled with more caramel) and instead of turning them into a Croquembouche I put them on sticks. I like to put things on sticks. Things look cute on sticks.

Assembly of your Piece Montée: You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. For example, if making a conical shape, trace a circle (no bigger than 8 inches) on a piece of parchment to use as a pattern. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best. Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze (careful it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up. When you have finished the design of your piece montée, you may drizzle with remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate.

Pistachio Crème Patissiere

  • 1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsp. pistachio paste
  • a few drops green food coloring (optional)

Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat. Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook. Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking. Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla. Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.

Besides the pops and just for the fun of it, I did a tiny cronquembouche: an individual serving. I started with those miniature profiteroles...

... filled them with a very small tip. And then it was time to build up. Oh and drizzle with caramel and caramel and more caramel!

Crunch, crunch, crunch.......

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A cookie with a hole

I just finished packing. I should go to bed because tomorrow I leave early, but I’m here instead writing a post. Also in the afternoon instead of doing all sorts of stuff I had to do, I did a little something for you. Why? Well, because you deserve it.

Today I have no recipe, just an idea. And it’s not even my idea, but I just had to share. This is just a cute way to serve Chocolate Chip Cookies, so use your favourite recipe (or check this chart to find a good CCC recipe).

I saw this a while ago in a hotel webpage, just in a picture of one of the rooms. I don’t even remember the hotel, but I do remember the cookie!

So to do it you’ll need cookie dough, shot glasses and round cookie cutters with 2 different sizes. Get your favourite Chocolate chip cookie dough (in my case I used one that I had frozen) and bake your cookies. Use a big scoop to make big cookies (I sprinkled my dough with demerara sugar for extra crunch). Right after you take them out of the oven and they’re still soft press the cutters like in the picture to make a perfect round cookie with a round hole in one side.

Make sure the cutter you use for the hole is slightly wider than your shot glasses, so they fit inside. Fill the shot glass with cold milk, put it in the Chocolate chip cookie hole and serve… or eat it yourself!

I wish I had a few more to eat on my way to Seville tomorrow… Ok, it’s definitely bed time for me now. I’m so gonna have sweet dreams now!