Friday, May 30, 2008

No-sugar Cinnamon ice cream

I've seen once on a tv show someone making an homemade version of sweetened condensed milk and because I really love this stuff (I can just eat it plain) I knew I had to try it.

It came out ok, but not like the real one. It had a much thiner consistency and a big milk powder after taste. Anyway I decided to use it on an ice cream recipe that I had found that used sweetened condensend milk and I was waiting to try for a while allready. The ice cream came out great, really creamy!

Sooooo I decided to repeat it but do a lighter version of it. I had tried before no sugar ice-creams with not great sucess, but this one came out so good that I've been using it for years and done so many different flavours. I love custard based ice-creams, but they need time to chill and there are allways the leftover egg whites issue, so when I'm craving for an instant treat I go for this recipe. And because it has no sugar I don't feel so guilty about eating it!


  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup skim powder milk
  • 3/4 cup artificial sweetener
  • 2 tbsp low fat butter

  • 1 cup light cream
  • 1/2 skim milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

First for the homemade diet condensed milk: Mix everything together using an imersion blender to obtain a nice cream. If you don't have one, do it in a cup blender or use a wisk.

For the ice-cream just add the cream, milk and cinnamon to the condensed milk and mix again until everything comes together. Transfer it to an ice-cream maker to churn.

I've made this one for my friend that is in one of those low-carb diets, where she can eat fat but not sugars, so this was perfect for her. I chose cinnamon because it's one of her favourite flavours but I've tried allready with coffee, mint, fruit pures, vanilla, citrus, other spices, etc. My friend was so happy with this! She couldn't believe it had no sugar and that she actually could eat it!

Now, this is important: althoug it has no sugar it does have fat, so that doesn't mean it's low in calories. It is lower because we save about 800 calories for not adding the sugar and some more because of the other low fat ingredients. Still I think it's a pretty good deal! Other thing is that because there's no sugar (to help keep it soft in the freezer) this will be very hard if you freeze so it's better to eat it straigh from the ice-cream maker, this way it will be creamy and delicious!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I went to the Opera with the Daring Bakers!

Well, not literaly but almost... We made Opera Cake! This was my first DB challenge. I decided to join this wonderful group after seeing their great creations popping all over the foodblog world month after month! You know what they say: If you can beat them, join them... And so I did!

Mango & Coconut Opera

Ohhhh l'Opera!... this great "gateau" was invented in France and is classicly made with alternated layers of an almond cake (named joconde), coffee syrup, chocolate ganache, coffee buttercream and covered by a chocolate glaze. Yummy!!!!!!!!! I love Opera cake! I have to admit there's a big possibility that I have quite a few scraps of past Operas living in my hips...

I have done quite a few Operas before, classic ones like I've described above. But the DB Opera had a twist to it, so I could make something that I've never done before and was very excited with the challenge. This Opera had to be made with light colors, no chocolate, no coffee... This was so we could dedicate this month's challenge to A Taste of Yellow.

Having this in mind and knowing I would take the cake to a barbecue with a few picky friends and couldn't go crazy with the flavours, I decided to go down the tropical road with mango and coconut. Hosting this month we had Lis, Ivonne, (co-founders), Fran and Shea. The original DB recipe is based on Opera Cake recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets and Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty’s Chocolate Passion. And this is my version:

  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp. (30 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups (225 grams) ground blanched almonds
  • 3/4 cups flaked coconut
  • 2 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 6 large eggs
  • ½ cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp. (1½ ounces; 45 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

  1. Preheat the oven to 425◦F (220◦C). I've used 3 jelly-roll pans with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy.
  3. If you only have one bowl, wash it after removing the egg whites or if you have a second bowl, use that one. Attach the paddle attachment to the stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer again) and beat the almonds, coconut, icing sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and voluminous, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (don't overmix).
  5. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the meringue into the almond-coconut mixture and then fold in the melted butter. Divide the batter between the pans and spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of each pan.
  6. Bake the cake layers until they are lightly browned and just springy to the touch. This could take anywhere from 5 to 9 minutes depending on your oven. I've baked 2 layers first, changing positions in the middle of baking time and then the 3rd layer alone.
  7. Put the pans on a heatproof counter and run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Cover each with a sheet of parchment or wax paper, turn the pans over, and unmold.
  8. Carefully peel away the parchment, then turn the parchment over and use it to cover the cakes. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.


  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tbs sugar

  1. Heat the water ans sugar and add the coconut milk.
  2. Let cool before using

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup (60 grams) water
  • 1/2 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1¾ sticks (7 ounces; 200 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 tbsp. mango pure
  1. Combine the sugar, water and vanilla extract in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 255◦F (124◦C), on a candy or instant-read thermometer. Once it reaches that temperature, remove the syrup from the heat.
  3. While the syrup is heating, begin whisking the egg and egg yolk at high speed in the bowl of your mixer using the whisk attachment. Whisk them until they are pale and foamy.
  4. When the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature and you remove it from the heat, reduce the mixer speed to low speed and begin slowly (very slowly) pouring the syrup down the side of the bowl being very careful not to splatter the syrup into the path of the whisk attachment.
  5. Raise the speed to medium-high and continue beating until the eggs are thick and satiny and the mixture is cool to the touch (about 5 minutes or so).
  6. While the egg mixture is beating, place the softened butter in a bowl and mash it with a spatula until you have a soft creamy mass.
  7. With the mixer on medium speed, begin adding in two-tablespoon chunks. When all the butter has been incorporated, raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the buttercream is thick and shiny.
  8. Add the mango pure and just mix it with a spoon until it's well combined.
  9. Refrigerate the buttercream, stirring it often, until it’s set enough (firm enough) to spread when topped with a layer of cake (about 20 minutes).

  • 200 gr (7 oz) white chocolate
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tbsp. mango pure
  1. Take the chocolate broken into pieces (or use chips) with the mango pure to the microwaver for about 1 minute.
  2. Mix until you have a thick cream and all the chocolate is melted. If you still have pieces or unmelted chocolate give it 30 seconds more and repeat. Let it cool.
  3. Whip the cream until soft-medium peaks.
  4. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate to form a mousse.
  5. Let harden a bit in the fridge before using it in the cake.

  • 100 gr (3.5 oz) white chocolate
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk

  1. Do this step only when you're about the assemble the all cake. I've halved the amount of chocolate for a thinner glaze, if you prefer a thick glaze use 200 gr (7 oz) chocolate and proceed the same way.
  2. Cut the chocolate into little chunks and take it to the microwave for about 40 seconds.
  3. Heat the coconut milk (1 minute in the microwave will do it)
  4. Combine milk and chocolate and stir until uniform cream forms.
  5. If it's thin to spread over the cake leave it in the fridge for a while.

And now to assemble the all thing:

  1. Put the 1st sheet of cake in a serving plate and using a pastry brush moisten it with 1/3 of the syrup.
  2. Spread evenly 1/2 the buttercream.
  3. Cover with 2nd sheet of cake, repeat the syrup and spread other half of buttercream.
  4. Cover with 3rd sheet of cake and moinsten again with last 1/3 syrup.
  5. Spread the mousse and try to make a smooth even layer. Refrigerate until the mousse is firmer.
  6. Pour/spread ithe glaze over the top of the chilled cake. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze. I've decorated the top with some stripes of mango pure.
  7. Cut the 4 sides to make it nice and clean and eat the scraps!

I think this tropical Opera was very fresh but sweeter than the "original" one. I loved doing it and after this one I'll experiment for sure with other flavous/colors!

Please check all the other Daring Bakers performances on the Opera!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sugar & Citrus High Friday

This month Tartelette is hosting Sugar High Fridays, an event started by the Domestic Godness. This is my first time participating, I really couldn't resist this month's theme: CITRUS!

Orange curd & milk chocolate Piramides!

This is what I came up with: a milk chocolate molded bonbon filled with orange curd and an orange curd ganache. Here they're seated on feilletine, a kind of crunched waffers, one of my favourite ingredients. Citrus are so versatile, I had trouble focusing in just one thing to do. But the "need" to use my new chocolate molds spoke lauder than any other idea.

  • Orange Curd:

  • 250 gr (9 oz) sugar
  • 2 oranges
  • 100 gr (3.5 oz) unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • Orange Curd Ganache:
  • 200 gr (7 oz) milk chocolate
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup orange curd

  • Bonbons:
  • Milk chocolate
  • Orange curd ganache
  • Orange curd

For the Orange Curd mix together in a pan the juice and rind of the oranges, the eggs beaten and the sugar. Over very low heat (or on top of a double boiler if you prefer) stir constantly until the mix thickens and you can easly coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat, stain and add the butter cut into small chuncks, little by little until it's all incorporated and you have a nice, smooth and shiny cream. Cover with plastic wrap or vegetable paper to avoid the formation of a skin on top. You can store it in the fridge or frize it.

For the Ganache cut the chocolate into little chuncks or use chip and take to the microave for 1 minute. Heat the cream until almost starts to boil and pour over the chocolate. Leave for a couple of minuts and then stir it with a spoon until you have a uniform glossy chocolate ganache. Add at this point the orange curd and let it cool.

To assemble the Bonbons, fill the moulds with tempered chocolate and let it harden. Add a little bit of cold ganache into each one, pushing it with the help of a small spoon into the sides of the mould, making a cavity where the orange curd will sit. Then add a small amount of curd and take it to the frizer so the curd can harden a bit. Cover with more ganache and finish with more chocolate, cleaning the surface of the mold with a knife. Unmold when they're set: you'll notice a kind of foginess on each bonbon, that means they have shrunck a little after hardening. That's normal and that means they're read to be unmold.

Happy friday, a sugar-high-citric one!

UPDATE: Check here and here for Helen's great round-up!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cookie Madness!!!

Same cookies, diferent kind of leavenings! Do you know Cookiemadness? It's the wonderful blog of Anna who bakes something new everyday. I check it daily because I like Anna's inputs on the recipes and her quests to perfect them. A few weeks ago Anna started the quest for cloning a Chocolate chip cookie from a famous NY bakery, but the funny thing is that she had never tasted the cookies!

Is this a small hand or a big cookie? You decide!

I read all the comments on Anna's blog about this subject: people that had tasted the cookies, some that had seen this tv show, curious, chocolate chip cookies lovers, etc. I got involved with this and for me cloning wasn't the issue anymore, I just wanted to find the best cookie ever! Well, this is almost impossible I know because tastes differ so much from person to person. But hey, I can try and find the best cookie FOR ME. You if you want, try and find yours :) ! After Anna baked I don't know how many batches she finally got to her final one. Today I decided to give it a try, but decided to experiment it my way. I divided the dough into 4 and used 4 different kinds of leavenings. I just love this experiments and that's why I live in love with pastry.

Here they are, the 4 "little" things! Top left has good old BAKING POWDER, top right has well known BAKING SODA, bottom left has classic combo BAKING POWDER + BAKING SODA and bottom right I decided to inovate and trow in some magic: INSTANT YEAST. Instant yeast in a cookie? Well, why not I ask?

See the differences?

And now some inside voyerism.


Adapted from Cookiemadness (Thanks Anna!)

  • 110 gr (4 oz) butter room temperature but not very soft
  • 6 tbs sugar
  • 6 tbs dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 180 gr (6 1/2 oz) stong/bread flour
  • 1/4+1/8 tspn salt
  • 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped untoasted walnuts

  • Favourite type of leavening:

  1. 1/2 tsp baking powder OR
  2. 1/2 tsp baking soda OR
  3. 1/4 tsp baking powder+ 1/4 tsp baking soda OR
  4. 1/4 tsp instant bread yeast (yes reduce quantity in half for this one)

Beat butter and both sugars just until they come together. Don’t over-beat. Add the egg and salt and beat just until incorporated. Mix together the flour and favourite leavening . When thoroughly mixed, add to batter and stir just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. The dough should be neither sticky nor dry. Divide dough into two large mounds, but keep the mounds kind of raggedy. That is, don’t smash them into compact balls. Bake on pre-heated oven at 190ºC (375º F) for 10m and then reduce the oven to 180ºC (350ºF) and bake 10 m more. Cool on sheet for about 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

So what did I think of all this?

Cookie 1 (BP)- Really nice, dense (in a good way), the preatiest one of the bunch. Chewy and nice flavour. Didn't spread so much as BS.

Cookie 2 (BS)- Least favourite, I could taste the baking soda. It was the browner one, and the one the spreaded more. It had a cakeey texture, a bit dry.

Cookie 3 (BP+BS)- Very ok cookie. Really the child of Cookie 1 and 2, not so dry as 2 but not so chewy as 1. Perfect cookie for Goldilooks maybe.

Cookie 4 (IY)- Now my friends this was THE cookie. It was very heavy and I thought it would be way to rich before tasting it, but no. It was very chewy but with really crunchy edges. It was the one that least spreaded and the whiter one as well. I think I'll have to be fair and say it was the less pretty from the 4, but hey who cares for looks?! I was so happy with this interesting find of mine! Was this the perfect cookie for me? Oh maybe yes... It was for today at least! And I'm sure I'll use instant yeast in cookies again to experiment!

Instant yeast in a cookie? Oh yes!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Caramelized spicy sunflower seeds (or how to upgrade bird's food)

Why do I have bird's food in my pantry if i don't own a bird? The things I find when I go up a kitchen stool to reach that last can of tuna!... Well it wasn't really bird's food, but kind of... Sunflower seeds... I must have bought that to put on homemade bread, but never got around to use it... I do caramelized spicy peanuts A LOT! Everybody loves them and they fit in well in every occasion. So today after my find in the pantry I decided to use the same method on this little bird's food-like-things. It worked perfect! This is very easy so I hope you give them a try!

  • 350 gr (12.5 oz) sunflower seeds (or toasted peanuts or any other nut)
  • 150 gr (5.4 oz) sugar
  • 150 ml water

  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder (or more if you like it hot)
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

In a pan mix the sugar and water just so the sugar can start dissolving and take it to the stove without mixing anymore. Meanwhile mix all the spices and salt and set aside. Clear a space on a table to later mix in the spices onto the seeds and leave there a wooden spoon or spatula.

When the sirup starts to boil leave it for 1 minute or so and dump all the seeds. It will seam at this time you have a lot of liquid but don't worry, mix with energy and in a while you'll start to see the sugar turning white and sandy. That's normal, carry on mixing and that sandy sugar will start to transform into caramel. Don't stop mixing, paying extra attencion to the sides of the pan so you don't get caramel burning there. Mix, mix, mix... You'll soon have a nice even caramel covered seeds (hopefully) and now you have to act fast: Dump the seeds on the table and sprinkle with the spicy powder. With the spoon you used to mix and the one you had previosly left there start moving the seeds with bouth hands trying to mix in the spices evenly.

When you're happy spread them as spread out as you can (don't worry much because they'll separate fine after cooling) and leave it to cool. When cold try not to eat them in one go and store in closed jars.

I've been eating them just like that and as a topping for ice-cream. But I also think they'll be great to sprinkle over salads or some mozzarella... And also of course if you have a gourmet bird in your house!

Monday, May 12, 2008

"My mom is a star" chocolates

Here Mother's day was Sunday from last week (it's allways on the 1st sunday of May) and that weekend I was in Spain on a wedding so I couldn't spend the day with my Mom... She's used to not having me arround on important dates so that wasn't a big deal (as long as she gets her present!) Anyway after seing all the post popping today about Mother's day I decided to make something for mine, and this way I could use my new star chocolate molds I had just bought! Great plan! I tempered 1 bar of chocolate. The process of tempering is quite complex to explain here and there are quite a few manners of doing it. At school I was taught doing it on a marble top table and when I'm felling all "chefy" I do it this way in a little marble stone I got for this. Today it was not the case, I used the sedding method that is much less messy. It consists in melting part of the chocolate (about 2/3) and then adding the remaining chocolate until it reaches the right temperature. You can read about tempering chocolate here, here and here.

I toasted coconut and some pistachio nuts and added them to the tempered chocolate, for flavour and crunch.


  • 100 gr (3.6 oz) tempered dark chocolate
  • 5 tbsp toasted coconut
  • 3 tbsp roasted chopped pistachio nuts

I toasted the coconut on a frying pan because it was a very small amount. You have to be careful doing this because coconut will burn fast and as soon as you're happy with the color take it out of the pan. I also toasted the pistachios on the frying pan, it's fast, just keep the pan moving around a bit.

Mix everything and put on the molds, it will grainy from the coconut, so it's best to use a small spoon to do the job. Tap the mold on the table to get rid of air bubbles inside of the molds. Let set and unmold.

If you don't want to temper you can still do them, just keep them in the fridge. Tempering or not doesn't affect the taste, so they're still gonna taste great. If you don't have molds you can just spread it and then break it into pieces.

By the way, my mom who is a star, loved her chocolates!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

What should I call these? Cookies or cakes? Or "coocakes"?

I love all kind of food shops, I enter in all I find. I don't care if they're gourmet, supermarkets, or healthy food stores, I see food I'm in! A few weeks ago I was stroling around in a shop that specialises in diet foods and I spotted these ice-cream ball shaped cookies or cakes.

As I do allways I checked the ingredients list, I do it not because I have an obsession of any kind, I'm just a curious cookie and I like to know what I'm putting into my body. These things had only 3 ingredients: carrots, coconut and corn syrup. No eggs, no flour, no sugar... They looked quite good and I bought the package of 2 for my afternoon snack to try them.

I loved them! I could notice they had been baked but not to much, I could still taste the fresh flavour of bouth the carrot and the coconut. And they were sweet enough and very moist. Today I decided I would give a try at cloning them, and I have to say I think I did a good job! Well, you can't go much wrong with just 3 ingredients... I even threw in 2 last minute additions that I thought would go well with the healthy theme of this things.


  • 1 cup finelly grated carrot (2 medium ones)
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • 3 tsps corn syrup

Mix everything together with a spoon until the dough is evenly moist. I did mine with a small ice-cream scoop and then flatten the balls a little. Bake at 180ºC (350ºF) for about 12 minutes.

Problem is I can't decide if these are cookies or little cakes... They do look like cookies but are soft and moist like cakes... I'm aware coocakes is a stupid name, but was the only one I could come for them... If you have any other ideia please let me know!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Chocolate Risoto

My mom had a dinner party a few days ago and she requested my services to do a dessert for her to take to her friend's house. I guess having a daughter Pastry Chef comes in handy sometimes! I came up with this chocolate risoto crossing some rice pudding recipes I had, and originally I made it as part of a dessert for a restaurant early this year (Chocolate risoto sushi crepes with mango if you want to know). For the dinner mom wanted something simple so I've made just the risoto that they ate with strawberries. It is very creamy with a light orange flavour and chocolatiness. I've used Lind 70% and I would recomend a good chocolate for this. It's like cooking with wine, people say you should use only wine you would like to drink on it's on. Same principle here, use chocolate that is great by itself, it does show at the end.

  • 1 litre milk

  • 1/2 litre cream

  • 250 gr (9 oz) sugar

  • 200 gr (7.1 oz) short grain rice

  • 100 gr (3.6 oz) quality dark chocolate chopped

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • Orange peel (2-3 stripes)

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

In a pan at very low heat put the milk, rice, orange peel and cinnamon stick. Cook stiring very often so the milk wont burn on the bottom of the pan. Let the rice cook and the milk evaporate almost completly. At this point the rice should be a stick-creamy texture almost cooked but with still a bit of an "al-dente" feel.

Add the cream and stir until it evaporates and the rice is fully cooked and creamy. At this point add the sugar and stir 1 minute more until it dissolves. Take out of the stove and discard the cinnamon and orange. Only now add the chopped chocolate, there will be enough heat to melt it. Mix it until incorporated and resist licking the spoon! Add aldo the vanilla now if using.

I prefer to eat it at room temperature, but you can eat it warm or cold. It shoul keep fine in the fridge for 3-4 days. Enjoy!